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Mold Blog

Here’s How Mold Spreads in Your Home

We want to talk about exactly what mold is and why it is so harmful to people? If you’re not terribly familiar with mold, it is a microfungi and it’s also saprophytic. Saprophytic means that it eats dead organic material.

Mold is very good at eating dead organic material, and it’s absolutely necessary on this planet. If we didn’t have mold eating those dead organic materials, this planet would be overrun with dead plants, animals, people, and everything else. Simply put, it serves a very good and beneficial purpose.

However, we don’t want it in our homes or offices. Our homes, offices, or any confined space can become very toxic. The reason why?… When you see mold growing in a confined space, you’re seeing the visible vegetative growth. What you’re not seeing are microscopic things that are happening. The mold spreads by releasing spores, which are like seedlings, into the air. All of these spores are carrying mycotoxins with them. And as the name would suggest, that means microscopic poisons.

For example, remember when you were a kid, and you ran outside and you picked up a white dandelion and blew on it. All the little seedlings went flying everywhere very easily as the air just carried them away. That’s the same thing that happens on a microscopic level with mold. As a matter of fact, some molds look exactly like those dandelions, just on a microscopic level.

When air drafts come by and picks up those released spores, it carries those mycotoxins and those seedlings to other areas of the home. And then, with the right amount of moisture, those spores are actually growing and forming their own colonies. Then, all these new colonies are releasing their own spores. So with the right amount of moisture and the right amount of mold in a property, you can have very highly concentrated levels of that poison.

Now, one thing to keep in mind is that mold is ubiquitous. That means you’re not going to go anywhere on this planet and not find mold. However, we want to keep it at an acceptable level inside your confined spaces, which is your home or your office, so that you’re not living in a toxic environment.

And that’s the reason why it’s so important to stay on top of any kind of moisture issues or mold growth issues in your property, instead of letting them go and then letting them get it worse. Because mold spreads so easily,  it will continually get worse until you address it.

CALL LIGHTNING RESTORATION

If there is something you have questions about, or anything that you want to inquire with Lightning Restoration when it comes to mold removal, water damage, or fire damage, please give us a call. You can reach us at 855-850-LTNG, or you can reach us on the web and leave us a message. Be safe out there.

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Mold Blog

Answers to Some Common Mold Questions

IS IT SAFE TO STAY IN A HOME WITH MOLD?”

The best way to answer most mold questions is to check with your family physician. They’re going to know your medical history, the medical history of the people in your house, and what your susceptibilities are. The truth of the matter is most molds will not harm most people and then there’s some molds that will harm anybody and then there’s some people that are affected by any mold.

“WHAT ARE THE DANGERS OF HAVING MOLD IN MY HOME?”

If you have people in the house that are very young (under the age of two) the respiratory system is not fully developed yet. Mold can severely harm these people, and it’s not a good idea for them to be in that environment. The elderly are in a similar situation. If you have someone who is elderly or has lowered immune systems, they also are very susceptible. Then, of course, there’s people with COPD, asthma, or immunodeficiency disorders. Anyone in these categories would be a high risk to mold poisoning.  Be sure to check with your family physician.

There are some molds out there that are not very toxic or, in fact, not toxic at all. Then there are some molds that are extremely toxic, so getting some testing upfront might be able to tell you exactly what you’re dealing with and how far into the house the contaminants go. This will let you know whether it’s necessary to actually leave the house or if you can just isolate the space that’s affected until it’s remediated.

“IF I HAVE BLACK MOLD, IS IT NECESSARILY THE VERY TOXIC MOLD YOU SEE ON THE NEWS ALL THE TIME?”

That’s an excellent question and one we get all the time as well. The truth of the matter is that there are literally 100,000 species of mold out there. A lot of them are black and a lot of them are non-toxigenic at all. There are some molds that are extremely toxigenic, and when they talk about toxic black mold on the news, they’re usually referring to “Stachybotrys.” If you’re not familiar with Stachybotrys, that’s actually a good thing for you because it’s very dangerous.

One thing to keep in mind is that just because you have black mold doesn’t mean you have a Stachybotrys. We don’t find Stachybotrys on a regular basis in people’s homes, but we do find it from time to time. The reason why? Stachybotrys takes a long time to grow. It’s not  a mold like a Penicillium, Aspergillus, or a Cladosporium that could grow in 24 to 72 hours. Typically, you need at least a couple of weeks of sustained moisture before Stachybotrys grows. Another good thing about Stachybotrys: it tends to be very sticky. It also tends to be much heavier than other molds, so it’s not as easily aerosolized. We typically find Stachybotrys behind the cabinets in the kitchen  or  behind the wall in a shower that’s been leaking for a long time.  So be aware of any signs of sustained moisture.

“DO I NEED TO HAVE THE PROPERTY TESTED OR CAN I JUST HAVE IT REMEDIATED?”

This comes down to two factors. Number one: Are you going to file an insurance claim? And number two: Has the mold been contained to one area or is it suspected to have drafted in other areas?

Are you going to file an insurance claim? According to most insurance companies today, in order for it to be a covered claim for mold, you actually have to prove that it is mold. That is, it can’t just be dirt. As far as they’re concerned, until you prove it’s mold, it’s just some kind of microbial-type substance, and there’s really no proof that mold remediation was necessary. In order to get it covered and to get it paid for by the insurance company, you have to show them that it was mold, and you do that by hiring a third-party industrial hygienist who comes in and does that testing.

“DO I NEED A PROFESSIONAL?”

The great thing about an industrial hygienist coming in and doing the testing is these are people that are experts in their field and can look under a microscope and tell you exactly what type of mold they are looking at and what the levels are. They also have the ability to send it out to a third-party lab to get third-party confirmation of everything that they’re finding. If you’re going to be filing an insurance claim, absolutely 100% get testing every single time, even if it’s just a minor amount.

The second point: Is it suspected that they may have cross-contaminated in other areas of the house? A typical scenario is where  a property owner has mold in a bathroom, and  they go in there and clean it up themselves.  They may be just kicking it up into the air. Typically, right outside the bathroom in the hallway is the AC return, which will pull those mold spores right into the system and distribute them through the house. Also, if moisture has drifted into multiple rooms, or if you have some kind of mold bloom in the property, it’s always a good idea to get testing done.

Testing is not inexpensive. Typically, it starts at about $600 or $800 and kind of goes up from there.  However, you’re literally saving yourself money by having testing done. This is because mold remediation can be very expensive, sometimes around $2,000 a room, depending on how much content that you have in there. If you can rule out one or two rooms and save yourself $4,000, the cost of getting that test greatly outweighs the remediation. In short, we highly recommend getting testing done in those two scenarios.

“HOW LONG DOES THE MOLD REMEDIATION TYPICALLY TAKE?”

Answers to these kinds of mold questions tend to vary a lot. We’ve had mold projects on large commercial projects that have taken two or three months. We also have very small projects that we can knock out in a day or so. Typically, we find that most projects take about a week. When you go in initially, you have to remove all damaged materials. When you remove the damaged materials, there’s typically a lot of moisture that’s still there in the framing & structure. You’ll find it in the flooring, subfloor and those types of materials that have  to be dried out. Once you bring the materials back to what we call its “dry standard,” then you can actually begin the mold remediation process.

When you’re cleaning the mold through the HEPA filtration cleaning process, that typically takes a couple of days. Then you’ve got a couple of days where you leave HEPA air scrubbers. These clean everything you’ve kicked up in the air. Then on the last day, the hygienist will come back and perform what’s called a “post-remediation verification test,” a PRV test. This process is extremely important, because when we’re doing this cleaning, we’re cleaning microscopic materials. We can’t see them. The process is very tedious, so we’re being very detailed in how we’re actually doing the remediation, but there’s no way to guarantee that we brought the property back to safe levels unless you get the PRV test done by the third-party industrial hygienist. NEVER EVER let a restoration company test their own work. This is extremely important due to the conflict of interests.   Always have it done by a third party.

“HOW LONG DOES THIS TAKE?”

Once you finish the demo, you do the actual mold cleaning. At the end, do the test, and you’re looking at about a week-long wait time. Now, does that mean that the remediation company is going to be there from morning till night every day? No, typically, they’re there for a 2-5 hours a day at best. On the last couple of days, the air cleaners are just running. They’ll come by and check to make sure everything’s running okay. Be prepared for that test when their work is complete.

“HOW MUCH DOES MOLD REMEDIATION TYPICALLY COST?”

There are many different factors involved in pricing a mold project, but I would say in a typical home with a typical amount of content, you’re probably looking in the neighborhood of about $2,000 a room. That can be very expensive, and again, that’s the importance of getting that testing done. You need to clearly define the parameters for the cleaning, so we’re not cleaning things we don’t need to. We need to make sure that we are paying specific attention to heavy contaminated areas, and then maybe doing light cleaning in some other areas. These will balance out the cost tremendously.

CALL LIGHTNING RESTORATION

If there is anything that you have questions about, or anything that you want to inquire with Lightning Restoration when it comes to mold removal, water damage, or fire damage, please give us a call. You can reach us at 855-850-LTNG, or you can reach us on the web and leave us a message. Be safe out there.

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Mold Blog

What Makes Mold Start to Grow in the Home?

Let’s talk about factors that affect mold growth

The number one factor contributing to mold growth is moisture. Without elevated humidity or direct moisture content, mold will go dormant and will not grow. However, as soon as it touches that extra moisture or comes in a human environment, it springs back to life. So the most important takeaway for any property owner in that case is that if you notice any kind of elevated humidity levels or moisture in your property, address it right away. Don’t sit back and wait. Don’t wait to make decisions based on the fact that they may cost you money to deal with. I can guarantee you that if mold starts growing, the costs will get exponentially higher. Jump on it immediately.

What else can affect mold growth?

Other factors that affect mold growth include the fact that there has to be a food source for mold. It won’t grow unless there’s something for it to eat. Now we know that mold is saprophytic. It eats dead organic material, and our homes are filled with dead organic material. So it’s not hard for it to find a food source to eat.

Other factors include the fact that it does take some time. It doesn’t grow immediately, but it does grow quickly. We find that it’ll start growing usually in about 24 to 72 hours, depending on the conditions. Other conditions and factors include how much air movement there is, how much light there is, and what the temperature is. The ideal condition for mold to grow is in a dark, damp area with not a lot of air movement. You’ve got the food source. You have the mold present. You have the moisture present. It’s dark, it’s damp, it’s going to grow very quickly.

Now when we go into a standard water loss, a lot of times we’ll go in there and the property’s only been sitting there for a couple of days. But as soon as we pull back those baseboards, we notice a lot of mold growth. The reason why is because that is the ideal situation. The food source is the back of the baseboard because it’s not painted over, it’s a raw wood surface. It’s dark, it’s humid in the air, it’s damp. It has its food source, it has the mold present, it has the moisture and it begins growing very, very quickly.

Is mold growing in your home?

So, remember our number one takeaway. Address moisture immediately. Stop the damage from getting worse, and if you need professional help or you want to inquire with Lightning Restoration when it comes to mold removal, water damage, or fire damage, please give us a call. You can reach us at 855-850-LTNG, or you can leave us a message. Be safe out there.

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Mold Blog

What You Need To Know About Mold Blooms

Today I want to talk about mold blooms. So if you’re not living in an area where there’s high humidity, or you don’t have a very tropical environment, you’re probably not very familiar with mold blooms. But here on the Gulf Coast of Florida, we’re very familiar with them, because they’re extremely common. They happen all the time.

Now, what exactly are mold blooms?

Well, imagine going into a property, whether it be a commercial property or residential, and literally seeing mold growing on every surface. It’s in the AC system growing through the ducts. It’s on all the walls growing down, it’s on the cabinets. I’ve actually been in a house before where I saw the actual surface of a metal refrigerator, or steel refrigerator, that had mold growing on it.

Now that kind of contradicts what we know about mold, because we think that in order for mold to grow, it has to have a dead organic material as a food source. Well, I’ll explain that in just a little bit. First, I want to talk about what would actually cause a mold bloom to happen. So typically we have one or two scenarios:

  1. – The first scenario being, we had some kind of water occurrence, some kind of water loss inside that property that went unchecked. And because it went unchecked, we had increased humidity levels in there. And those humidity levels reacted with the actual spores that are in the property. Because if you remember correctly, mold is ubiquitous, it’s everywhere. It’s all in this office here with me. So all you have to do is have that increased humidity and it will react with those mold spores and it will start growing.
  2. – The second scenario is typically where someone is not utilizing their HVAC system at all, or they’re utilizing it incorrectly, and they’re keeping their AC too high, or like I said, they’re not keeping it on at all for longer periods of time, which causes an increase in humidity in that property, which causes the actual mold blooms to grow because there’s all this moisture there, all the excessive moisture.

How do I prevent it?

Typically you want to keep humidity levels in your property below 60%. Anything above 60% relative humidity lends itself to mold growth. The reason why is because it’s so heavy in the air that it literally sticks on all the surfaces. Just like on the outside of a cold Coke can, you get the condensation. Now, if you’ve got that on a surface of a wall, or cabinet, or the refrigerator, what you get is you get sustained moisture. When you have a sustained moisture problem over a long period of time, you get bacteria growth. Then when that bacteria grows in that water, it lives, it dies, it eats…all those things. That actually becomes the food source for the mold problem, which allows it to grow on any of those surfaces.

When mold grows on every single surface, there’s going to be a lot of things that we can save and a lot of things that we can’t. But either way, it becomes an extremely expensive process, whether it be through replacement or through the remediation and cleaning of everything.

Call Lightning Restoration

So our objective always is to save and salvage as much as we can. So we do exactly that without putting anybody in that property at risk from future mold contamination and mold damage. If that’s something you have questions about, or anything that you want to inquire with Lightning Restoration when it comes to mold removal, water damage, or fire damage, please give us a call. You can reach us at 855-850-LTNG, or you can reach us on the web leave us a message. Be safe out there.