Our complete home inspection
includes inspecting for visual signs of mold, mildew and moisture during your
home inspection. We utilize the latest tools in infrared digital imaging that
often time allows us to pinpoint the moisture source.
Things You Should Know about Mold
1.Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory complaints.
2.There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
3.If mold is a problem in your home or school, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.
4.Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.
5.Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60%) to decrease mold growth
6.Venting bathrooms, dryers and other moisture-generating sources to the outside
7.Using air conditioners and de-humidifiers
9.Using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing and cleaning
10.Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
11.Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely. Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles, that are moldy, may need to be replaced.
12.Prevent condensation: Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
13.In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting (i.e., by drinking fountains, by classroom sinks, or on concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation).
14.Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.
Conditions for Mold growth indoors
Besides oxygen and organic materials containing carbon to provide nutrients, a main requirement mold needs to grow is moisture. You can find mold growing almost anywhere provided there is enough of a moisture source for it.
The moisture accumulation could be caused through humidity, condensation, or water intrusion from leaks, spills, floods, etc. Most molds only require suitable materials to be wet for 24-48 hours before they can grow.
Damp or wet crawlspaces provide a great place for mold growth.
Molds that can survive using only humidity as their moisture source are called Xerophilic, whereas other molds require an accumulation of moisture to grow. (Mold growth on bread is an example of food spoilage by xerophilic organisms.) Indoors the best way to prevent mold growing is to limit moisture.
Besides moisture, most molds also need the temperature to be right before it can begin to grow. Mold grows best in temperatures that we would consider warm. If a mold colony's environmental conditions become unfavorable, instead of dying it can lay dormant until conditions become right again when it can continue to grow.
What is the difference between Mold and Mildew?
Mildew refers to certain kinds of mold or fungus. The term mildew is often used generically to refer to mold growth, usually with a flat growth habit. Molds include all species of microscopic fungi that grow in the form of multicellular filaments, called hyphae. Molds can thrive on any organic matter, including clothing, leather, paper, and the ceilings, walls and floors of homes with moisture management problems. Mildew often lives on shower walls, windowsills, and other places where moisture levels are high. There are many species of molds. In unaired places, such as basements, they can produce a strong musty odor.
How to Identify the Cause of a Mold and Mildew Problem
Mold and mildew are commonly found on the exterior wall surfaces of corner rooms in heating climate locations. An exposed corner room is likely to be significantly colder than adjoining rooms, so that it has a higher relative humidity (RH) than other rooms at the same water vapor pressure. If mold and mildew growth are found in a corner room, then relative humidity next to the room surfaces is above 70%. However, is the RH above 70% at the surfaces because the room is too cold or because there is too much moisture present (high water vapor pressure)? The amount of moisture in the room can be estimated by measuring both temperature and RH at the same location and at the same time. Suppose there are two cases. In the first case, assume that the RH is 30% and the temperature is 70oF in the middle of the room. The low RH at that temperature indicates that the water vapor pressure (or absolute humidity) is low. The high surface RH is probably due to room surfaces that are "too cold." Temperature is the dominating factor, and control strategies should involve increasing the temperature at cold room surfaces. In the second case, assume that the RH is 50% and the temperature is 70oF in the middle of the room. The higher RH at that temperature indicates that the water vapor pressure is high and there is a relatively large amount of moisture in the air. The high surface RH is probably due to air that is "too moist." Humidity is the dominating factor, and control strategies should involve decreasing the moisture content of the indoor air.
What is Mold?
Mold is everywhere. There are more than 100,000 species of mold in the world and at least 1,000 common species are found in the United States. Some molds are beneficial. such as those used to make cheese and medicines. Some however can cause serious illness and, in some cases, even death.
Growing mold produces tiny spores in order to reproduce. The mold then ejects the spores which will float through the air looking for a suitable place to begin new growth. All mold needs to get started is suitable material with a surface moisture content of about 20%. This level of moisture can be achieved by simply surrounding wood with air at 90% relative humidity at any temperature between 40 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. When mold spores land on a suitable damp spot they will begin to grow and digest the host material to survive. In this respect, mold is considered to be a wood destroying organism.
Common places for mold growth in homes include bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, basements and crawl spaces, air conditioning ductwork and equipment, and concealed places between walls and floors. Mold can basically be found anywhere where the moisture level permits its growth.
Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Stachybotrys.
These three families of molds tend to get the most recognition whenever mold is mentioned in relation to contamination problems in the home. Each of the families contain numerous strains and collectively they represent several hundred species, many of which are potentially harmful.
The stachybotrys family is debatably the nastiest of the three and its various strains are often associated with the above mentioned health problems. Stachybotrys, like many types of mold, is greenish black and typically grows on materials with a high cellulose content that are chronically wet.
There are numerous cellulose containing materials used in home building, everything from drywall to insulation to wood and paper products. Chronic moisture can be caused by everything from high humidity to plumbing leaks to unintended water penetration.
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