Signs Of Hidden Water Leaks In Your Bathroom

Bathroom leaks can be tricky and hard to detect, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Puddles left on the floor after a shower or bath can seem innocent enough, especially if you have children. You may need to poke around to find the not-so-obvious bathroom plumbing leak.

Look for these somewhat subtle signs to determine whether you need to hire a plumber to fix those leaking pipes or plumbing fixtures before things get worse. If left untreated, a water leak in you bathroom can cost you, expecially if it leads to serious water damage to walls, flooring and paint.

Mildew or Mold

No matter how well and how often you clean your bathroom, mold or mildew can spring up if you have a hidden water leak. Mold thrives on moist, dark areas, and a pipe, which is typically hidden in a wall or under flooring, provides the perfect starting point for mold or mildew if the pipe springs a leak.

While it’s normal for a little mildw to occur wherever water accumulates, such as in the corner of a shower, mold or mildew on non shower walls or in corners of the bathroom is a clear sign that water is leaking somewhere and finding its way close to those areas. A leaking pipe provides plenty of moisture so the longer it takes you to detect and fix the leak, the easier and faster mold will grow.

Damaged paint or wallpaper

Wall damage from toilet leak.

A wall with blistering paint or wallpaper is another sign of bathroom leaks.

In most cases, steam from the occasional hot shower shouldn’t cause paint or wallpaper to come loose. When water and moisture get between the wall and paint, they eliminate the bond and begin to separate the two, causing the paint to rise from the wall and fall off in pieces. The same goes for wallpaper: The adhesive used to bond the paper to the wall becomes less sticky and the paper begins to come loose.

Damaged Walls

Tile damage from leak in shower. Mold in wall board behind tile.

A wall that is warped or stained for no reason is a clear sign that you have a plumbing leak in your bathroom.

When drywall is exposed to moisture, it becomes soft and begins to bubble, ultimately warping and breaking into pieces. If the leak reaches the ceiling, it causes it to sag and possibly leak some of the water that has accumulated. The same goes for the wall board behind tiles; once water has penetrated and moisture can accumulate, the tiles will begin to come loose and fall off.

To fix the leak, a plumber often must tear out the drywall, requiring someone to patch and paint or retile when the plumber is finished.

Damaged flooring

Unless you purposely let water sit on it, a bathroom floor rarely suffers water damage unless there is a leak. If your bathroom floor is buckling, cracking or beginning to stain for no obvious reason, chances are hidden water is the culprit. The water could be from a pipe directly underneath the floor, or it could have traveled there from another area.

Depending of the type of flooring in your bathroom, moisture can make it feel spongy or soft. Tile may lose its adhesion and become loose, allowing you to easily remove a piece and possibly expose water or moisture underneath it. You will also often find a damp subfloor.

Stains on ceilings

If you have a bathroom on a second floor, you might spot a leak in the ceiling under the bathroom. Check the patch of ceiling in the room directly beneath the bathroom for stains and signs of water damage. However, because water can travel a long distance, it’s possible to find water stains on the ceiling farther away.

An occasional wet floor in a second-story bathroom won’t cause enough seepage to damage anything underneath it. Any brown, copper or dark stain on the ceiling is a sign of a pernicious water leak in the ceiling. A sagging ceiling is a sign that water from a leak is reaching the area.

sources: J.T. Gonzales. Signs Of Hidden Water Leak In Your Bathroom. Web blog post. Solution Center: Plumbing. Angie’s List.

The Difference Between Mold and Mildew

Mold in interior of window https://www.prs24hr.com

Mold and mildew are both types of fungi that are commonly found in the home. They thrive in moist environments, spread easily, and live on various surfaces which makes them very difficult to get rid of. If left unattended, however, the harmful microorganisms can quickly affect large areas of your property and may even result in health problems and structural damage. While the two types of fungi share many common features, they pose different risks and respond to different treatment.

So, in order to come up with an efficient cleaning strategy and ensure the safety of your living environment, you need to understand the difference between mold and mildew.

What Is The Difference Between Mold And Mildew?

Common Mildew Types

Primarily, mildew is a plant disease that causes great damage to crops and plants. It is classified as powdery and downy:

  • Powdery mildew mainly affects flowering plants and first appears as white or gray patterned splotches that gradually become yellowish brown or black as the fungus grows.
  • Downy mildew is commonly found in agricultural products, such as grapes and potatoes. Its appearance varies depending on the type of surface it grows on, but usually downy mildew starts as yellow spots that eventually turn brown.

Common Mold Types

Although the number of mold species that can live indoors exceeds 10,000 according to the latest CDC estimates, most household molds belong to one of the following five types. (Picture and description to the right.)

  • Penicillium spores can spread very easily and have strong musty odors.
  • Alternaria under prolonged exposure can cause allergic reactions and asthma attacks.
  • Aspergillus is the most common type of mold found indoors. It can cause allergic reactions and respiratory infections, as well as inflammation of the lungs in those with weak immune systems.
  • Unlike many other molds, Cladosporium can grow in cool areas.
  • Stachybotrys chartarum is the most dangerous kind of household mold – it produces toxic compounds called mycotoxins that can cause severe health problems, such as allergic symptoms, breathing problems, asthma attacks, chronic sinus infections, fatigue and depression. Usually grows around areas that are constantly damp.

How To Tell The Diffence Between MoldAnd Mildew?

There are several crucial differences in the appearance and properties of mold and mildew that will help you recognize the type of indoor fungi you have discovered in your home

Visual differences between mold and mildew https://www.prs24hr.com

Differences between Mold and Mildew in Appearance

Typically, mold appears black or green while mildew looks gray or white. Yet, there are some more detailed specifics on the appearance of the fungi:

  • Mildew usually grows in a flat pattern and appears either powdery or fluffy. It can be easily identified as a patch of white, gray or yellowish fungus that is lying on the surface of a moist area. Mildew usually turns black or brown over time.
  • Mold is usually fuzzy or slimy in appearance. It appears as irregularly shaped spots that can have different colors – blue, green, yellow, brown, gray, black or white. Oftentimes, surfaces that are covered in mold begin to rot.

Differences in the Effects of Mold and Mildew

Both Mold and mildew need to be taken care of in a quick and efficient manner as they can cause a lot of trouble over time:

  • Mildew usually affects plants and crops. If it develops indoors, however, it can also pose health risks. When inhaled, mildew spores cause coughing, headache, sore throat and respiratory problems.
  • Mold can result in considerable structural damage when left unattended for a long time. Prolonged exposure can cause a variety of health problems, depending on the strain of mold. Common health effects of mold include various allergic reactions (sneezing, skin irritations, irritation of the eyes and throat, nasal congestion, ect.), respiratory problems (difficulty breathing, coughing, pneumonia, asthma attacks), heart problems, migraines, inflammation and pain in the joints, dizziness, depression and extreme fatigue. The mycotoxins produced by black mold are particularly harmful and may have severe long-term health effects, especially in younger kids and individual with weak immune systems.

Mold and Mildew Testing

If you are not sure what type of fungi you are dealing with, you can have them tested:

  • Home testing – the easiest way to identify the kind of microorganisms in you home is to drip a few drops of household bleach on the affected area. Wait for about five minutes and inspect the spot:
  1. If it has become lighter, you are dealing with mildew
  2. If it remains dark, it is mold that has developed in your home

You can also use various mold and mildew testing kits that are available on the market:

  • Professional testing – if you suspect considerable mold growth in your property or if you aren’t sure about the best course of action to take, your best bet is to ask for professional assistance. Contact a trustworthy mold removal company in your area for inspection, testing, evaluation and efficient mold removal services that will help you get rid of the harmful fungi in your home.

How To Get Rid Of Mold And Mildew?

If you can prevent mold and mildew in the first place, you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle and headaches.

How to Prevent Mold and Mildew

The most efficient way to prevent mold and mildew in your home is to keep all the areas dry and moisture-free. Maintain a humidity level of about 40-50% inside the house (a dehumidifier provides the most advantageous solution for ensuring appropriate indoor humidity), have your heating and cooling systems regularly inspected, keep air ducts clean and in good condition ensure good air circulation inside the premises, fix any leaks in the bathroom, kitchen or other areas, ect. Remove any mildew-affected plants and weeks as soon as you notice them in order to prevent mildew infestation.

How to Clean Mold and Mildew

Mildew is a surface fungus that can be efficiently treated with a commercially available cleaner and a scrubbing brush. Just make sure you work in a well-ventilated area and wear a facial mask to prevent inhaling mildew spores, as well as to avoid breathing in fumes given off by the cleaning product you use. It is also advisable to put on rubber gloves in order to protect your hands both from the mildew and from the cleaning agent. Clean all the surrounding areas carefully as well, to ensure that all the fungi have been successfully removed.

Mold, on the other hand, attaches to the affected materials with microscopic filaments that penetrate beneath the surface. The mold spore spread very easily and can survive in extreme conditions, so they can quickly affect large areas of your property and result in permanent damage. Moreover, despite its characteristic musty smell, mold is only visible to the eye when the colonies start growing, so early detection and prevention is very difficult. Worst of all, mold can have a very negative impact on your health, so DIY removal attempts are not recommendable. Beside, DIY remedies are very rarely efficient because the fungus usually grows in area that are very difficult to access and to treat.

The safest and most efficient way to get rid of a mold problem is to call a mold remediation company. An experienced professional will come to your home to assess the situation and determining the type of mold or mildew in your property, as well as the extent of the damage. Then, the most appropriate actions will be taken to remove the harmful fungi and prevent its appearance in the near future. The experts will help ensure not only the safety of your living environment, but also your peace of mind.

Have a professional detect and determine mold in your home https://www.prs24hr.com
Have a professional clean mold in your home https://www.prs24hr.com

http://Luke Armstrong. “Mold Vs. Mildew: The Main Differences Between Mold And Mildew” Web blog post. mold Removal, Restoration Master

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Detecting Water Damage With Thermal Imaging

Remember that movie “Predator”, where the alien used infrared vision so he could easily detect Arnold Schwarzenegger and the other elite soldiers in the jungle? Well, if he were a little more docile and a home owner, he’d definitely be using that keen thermal imaging to detect any hidden water damage in his house.

It is easy to identify obvious water damage in the form of a wet carpet or soft discolored spots on dry wall or ceilings. However, many times moisture in the walls, accumulating from a slow leak, cannot be seen with the naked eye. This water damage can cause structural damage or serious mold growth, which can lead to life threatening health problems for you and your family. Now there is technology used by the best water restoration companies to identify any moisture in your home in a quick, highly cost effective manner that will guarantee your home is free of water related problems.

This technology creates vivid images of the infrared spectrum that give an amazing “inside” view of a structure. Instead of focusing on the 450-750 nanmeter range of a visible light camera system, the infrared camer takes pitures in wavelengths of 14,000 nanometers on the electromagnetic spectrum. The folowing are only some of the amazing detailed images that thermal imaging devices provide the user.

Gone are the days of bashing through drywall to determine if there is water in the walls of your home. Thermal imaging is the non-invasive, high-end technology used by expert water restoration companiew to determine if ther is hidden water luring in your home. The thermal imaging camera provides detailed, real-time information, revealing any hidden water damage that can be invisible to the naked eye.

Thermal imaging cameras are an excellent tool designed to detect water damage by assissing the moisture behind interior walls, in cieling and under carpets. These cameras are also utilized to discover mold damage in your home, by revealing undetected sources of moisture, as well as detecting water soaked insulation in the ceilings caused by leaky roofs.

Source: “How to detect water damage in your home with thermal imaging technology.” Web blog post. Tips for homeowners. Restoration & Remodeling.

Textile Restoration

It’s estimated that soft contents accounts for up to 23% of the total items on a pack out, making it the single largest contents category by volume. And it’s not just clothes that a textile restoration professional can restore, but window treatments, area rugs, shoes, leathers, furs, suede, belts, hand bags, luggage, athletic bags, skates, etc.

But what makes soft contents restoration so crucial on any water or fire job is the economics of it. Specifically, it’s estimated that the value proposition for the homeowner and the carrier is about 80% savings, versus replacement. With a success ratio in the high 90% range, this is significant.

While the cleaning and restoration of textiles and soft goods that goes on inside of the plant is crucial to the process, it’s what happens before the items are even packed out that is arguable just as important. The process starts when the initial call comes, usually either from an adjuster, contractor or homeowner.

A first responder and crew is then assigned to the site, where more information is gathered from the homeowner and the inventory and pack out step begins. Items are photo documented on site, then packed out, returned to the plant and added to the inventory system. Garments are detailed based on their characteristics and examined for any pre-existing conditions.

After that, the cleaning and restoration process begins. Two weeks’ worth of items are immediatedly processed and returned to the homeowner within 24 hours. All remaining items are cleaned, restored and returned at a later date, sometimes as fast as two to four days.

Just as there’s a significant difference between working on fire damage jobs versus water damage ones, there’s a big difference if restoring soft contents affected by the aforementioned.

For instance, with water damaged textiles, before they can even be dry cleaned, they need to be dried – and dried quickly for best results. Waiting too long to dry can result in mold, color degradation and breakdown of fabric.

Water-damaged items are dried in specialty drying chambers, where dehumidifiers and air movers effectively wick away moisture without agitation. After which, they can be loaded into the machines to continue the restoration process.

Conversely, items recovered from a fire loss can be loaded right into dry cleaning machines – the sooner the better. Why? Because the longer hydrocarbon sits on the garment, the more difficult it is to get out.

Sources: http://www.randmagonline.com/articles/86337-tectile-restoration-the-process-science-and value-proposition

What Do Restoration Companies Do?

A restoration company is a company that specializes in structural and content repairs after a fire, smoke, water, sewer, bio hazard, textile, content or crime scene loss has occurred to a home or business. Restoration companies are usually the first respondents following significant damage to a home from floods and fires, water damage, sewage backup and other major events. The job of a restoration company is to clean up the mess and to preserve and protect the home and its contents so that further damage will not occur. Once the emergency work has been completed, ( usually within two days) the restorer begins the involved process of working with the home or business owner and their insurance adjuster to write a comprehensive repair estimate and begin work to restore the property. Some restoration companies also provide textile, household/business content and fine art cleaning, as well as storage services for these types of items.

Water Damage

When dealing with a sudden water loss that originates from a flooded tub, toilet, sink, dishwahser, clothes washer, water heater or a broken pipe, the restoration crew will make every effort to mitigaate the standing water and dry the home or business, (usually within 3 to 5 days) prior ro the onset of mold and extensive structural damages. Often times ceilings have fallen, floors have buckled and walls will need to be removed. Thus, most restoration compnaies are well versed in content inventory and pack out procedures.

Fire Damage

When dealing with a devastating fire to a home or business, a restoration company is capable of emergency content protection and strucutral board up services. Once the emergency work has been completed, (usually with in two days) the restorer begins the arduous process of writing a comprehensive repair estimate that is agreeable to the property owner and insurance adjuster. Once this has been accomplished, they will begin work to restore the property.

Step – By – Step Process

  1. After the major catastrophe, the property owner needs to contact their insurance agent immediately.
  2. The insurance compnay will typically provide you with information about restoration companies that will remove the water or other contamination.
  3. The property owner should review their reponsibilities under their insurance policy for cleaning up the property to prevent additional damage. Discuss any questions that arise with the adjuster or insurance representative.
  4. When the restoration company arrives, thoroughly walk through the property with the restoration company representative and discuss the areas that need cleaning.
  5. After the restoration company evaluates the work and equipment needed, they will provide an estimate for their services. Most insurance claims will cover the cost of restoration. However, if you are denied by your insurance company, you will be responsible for paying the restoration company.

sources: http://www.amrest.com/what-is-a-restoration-comapny-and-what-services-do-they-provide.

The Importance Of Hiring A Licensed Contractor

Being a licensed contractor in Florida is a privilege. Many do not understand the differences in being licensed and unlicensed. Obtaining and keeping your contracting license in Florida is expensive and there are requirements you must meet. An unlicensed company is taking the easy and unethical approach to assisting those in need.

Licensed or Unlicensed – Is It a Big Deal?

When you are in need of repairs, questions run through your head: What does it mean to be licensed? Why are some contractors licensed and others are not? Does it really matter?

Being a licensed contractor means they have passed all the required testing, met the minimum experience level of four years, passed a credit and background check and they must carry insurance to cover liability and workers compensation.

Risks of Hiring an Unlicensed Contractor

  • No insurance – No liability: An unlicensed contractor typically is uninsured – you may end up being liable for personal or financial injuries to others. If they happen to damage your property, there is no insurance to cover that.
  • Poor qualifications and poor quality work: Unlicensed contractors usually do not have the education or qualifications required of a licensee. Therefor, they usually do poor quality work and do not finish the project, leaving the homeowner to pick up the pieces.
  • Possible criminal background: Unlicensed contractors also pose the threat for having a lengthy list of criminal history. This list may include violent crime, sexual offenses, substance abuse, fraud and/or theft. Do you want someone like that working on your property?
  • Scam artists: Unlicensed contractors often disappear after taking your money. The department cannot discipline an unlicensed person or help you with any recovery of repairs or money lost. These con artists usually try to scam those in need of urgent repairs, such as hurricane damage.
  • Not covered under homeowner’s policy: Most homeowner policies require any repairs be done by a licensed individual.
  • Limited resources for broken contracts: If you have a dispute with a licensed contractor, you have rights and are able to contact the department who will take disciplinary action. However, this action is not available if the contractor is not licensed.
  • Noncompliance with building codes: Most projects require permits and inspections. Unlicensed contractors usually ignore such things. If your project isn’t permitted or doesn’t comply with the building code, you may have to remove or repair the work at your own expense and be subject to fines.

Before you agree to any repairs, confirm the individual is licensed and has insurance. Below are some helpful links for you to use:

Click here to verify a Pinellas County license https://public.co.pinellas.fl.us/clbsearch/index.jsp

Click here to verify a State license https://www.myfloridalicense.com/wl11.asp

Click here to report an unlicensed contractor in Pinellas County https://fs30.formsite.com/Pinellas8/unlicensed/index.html

Why Hire a Licensed Contractor?

  • A licensed person has the required education, experience, insurance and qualifications to obtain a license. They must pass a competency examination before practicing.
  • Licensed individuals are screened for prior criminal history.
  • The department can discipline and even revoke a license if the person doesn’t to live up to professional standards. This is not a total safeguard, but it is a strong incentive for the licensee to do good work.
  • You may be able to sue the licensee in civil court for problems related to the work done.

Is Mold Covered In Homeowners Insurance?

Home insurance concept , vector illustration

Like any other organism, mold needs food and water. It loves to eat wood, and that’s one reason why homes and other structures sustain mold damage. When it begins depleting its food source, damage occurs. Mold is easily identifies by how it looks and its odor.

Any type of water damage can result in mold. How the water gets into your home determines whether your homeowners insurance will cover the mold damage and remediation. All homeowners policies declare their covered perils along with their exclusions from coverage. An occurrence that’s typically covered in the context of water damage is a pipe burst. That’s because the actual pipe burst is the cause of the claim, as opposed to the mold itself. If a mold claim arises from Florida weather activity, like a hurricane or flood, it’s not likely to be covered without special coverage. You’ll want to review your policy or talk to your insurance representative to learn whether you have flood coverage.

Most basic homeowners insurers do not provide mold coverage within their covered risks, but that does not necessarily mean your claim will be denied. For instance, the pipe burst, which would be an accidental occurrence, which may lead to mold due to the moisture, should be covered, because the pipe burst is the claim reason, not the mold. However, a home showing neglected maintenance (unrepaired water leaks or exposure to humidity over a prolonged period of time) will be more likely to have a denied claim. You do need to be aware that mold coverage that is provided, due to accidents, is relatively low, unless an additional premium is paid. If you do have some mold damage, you’ll want to do whatever you can to mitigate your damages. You should also be vigilant about making periodic checks for possible water leaks in these common problem spots:

  • HVAC system lines & drains
  • Hoses for appliances
  • Tub, shower & sink seals
  • Any visible pipes
  • Weatherproofing of windows & doors
  • Wet spots in the attic & missing roofing material
  • Landscaping around your home

If you don’t have mold coverage, it’s recommended that you get it, particularly because mold thrives in Florida’s warm, humid climate. an average mold claim ranges between $15,000 and $30,000. Mold riders are available as an optional coverage, however they often come with a big price tag. Discuss your options with your insurance agent. Once you have all the information, you can weigh the risks against the costs for your needs.

As always, it’s important to know what your homeowners policy says in regards to your coverage. Take the time to familiarize yourself and ask questions about specific wording in regards to mold coverage, then you will be prepared should you have the unfortunate need to file a claim.

Sources: Does my homeowners insurance policy cover mold damage? Web Blog post. Living Prepared. Prepared Insurance. Home Insurance and Mold: Is Mold Covered? Web blog post. Houselogic by Realtors.

9 Ways To Prevent Mold

Mold. The very word is enough to make a person cringe.

Yes, mold can be good – it’s essential in making brie and penicillin for example, and necessary for the decomposition of organic matter in nature – but it can also be very, very bad, especially when it grows undetected in your home. Mold spores spread easily and cannot be completely eradicated. Mold can grow anywhere: on carpet, clothing, food, paper and even in places you can’t see. Such as, the backside of drywall, areas inside walls around leaking or condensing pipes and above ceiling tiles. Not only is a mold problem difficult and costly to fix, but mold can also produce allergens and irritants (and rarely, toxins) that may compromise your health.

So, what can you do if you’re concerned about mold growing in your home? The best approach is preventing mold before it becomes a problem. The key to mold prevention is simple: moisture control. Here are nine ways to curb moisture indoors and the mold that thrives on it.

1. Identify problem areas in your home and correct them.

You can’t mold-proof you home, but you can make it mold-resistant. Do an audit of your home: where are the problem areas? Does the basement flood? Do you notice frequent condensation on an upstairs window? Is there a water stain on the ceiling from a persistent leak?

Preventing mold from growing or spreading might be as simple as ripping up carpet in a damp basement, installing mold-resistant products or repairing damaged gutters. Or it may be a matter of major excavation and waterproofing. Whatever the case, address the problem now. It might cost some money up front, but it will surely be more costly down the road if mold continues to grow unchecked.

2. Dry wet areas immediately.

Mold can’t grow without moisture, so tackle wet areas right away. Seepage into the basement after a heavy rainfall, accumulation from a leaky pipe, even a spill on the carpet should be dried within 24 to 48 hours. If you’ve experienced a flood, remove water-damaged carpets, bedding and furniture if they can’t be completely dried.

Even everyday occurrences need attention. Don’t leave wet items lying around the house and make sure to dry the floor and walls after a shower. Don’t leave wet clothes in the washing machine where mold can spread quickly. Hang them to dry – preferably outside or in areas with good air circulation.

3. Prevent moisture with proper ventilation.

It may be that your routine domestic activities are encouraging the growth of mold in your home. Make sure an activity as simple as cooking dinner, taking a shower or doing a load of laundry doesn’t invite mold by providing proper ventilation in your bathroom, kitchen, laundry and any other high-moisture area.

Vent appliances that produce moisture – clothes dryers, stoves – to the outside (not the attic). Use AC units and dehumidifiers (especially in humid climates), but make sure they don’t produce moisture themselves, by checking them periodically and cleaning them as directed by the manufacturer. Your energy-efficient home may be holding moisture inside, so open a window when cooking, washing dishes or showering, or run an exhaust fan.

4. Equip your home with mold-resistant products.

Building a new home or renovating an old one? Use mold-resistant products like mold-resistant drywall or mold-resistant sheetrock and mold inhibitors for paints.

Traditional drywall is composed of a gypsum plaster core pressed between plies of paper. Mold-resistant drywall is paperless – the gypsum core is covered in fiberglass, making the surface highly water-resistant. Moisture- resistant drywall is especially valuable in areas prone to wetness, such as bathrooms, laundry rooms, basements and kitchens. Not only is traditional drywall more susceptible to mold than the paperless kind, but it is also difficult to rid of mold, and removal and replacement can be expensive.

Mold-resistant gypsum board is also available; the core of the drywall is developed in such a way to prevent moisture absorption, and thus prevent mold growth.

5. Monitor humidity indoors.

The EPA recommends keeping indoor humidity between 30 and 60 percent. You can measure humidity with a moisture meter purchased from your local hardware store.

You’ll also be able to detect high humidity by simply paying attention to potential problem areas in your home. Telltale signs of excessive humidity include; condensation on windows, pipes and walls. If you notice condensation, dry the surface immediately and address the source of moisture (for example, turn off a humidifier if water appears on the inside of nearby windows.)

6. Direct water away from your home.

If the ground around your home isn’t sufficiently sloped away from the foundation, water may collect there and seep into your crawlspace or basement.

7. Clean or repair roof gutters.

A mold problem might be a simple matter of a roof that is leaking because of full or damaged gutters. Have your roof gutters cleaned regularly and inspected for damage. Repair them as necessary, and keep an eye out for water stains after storms that may indicate a leak.

8. Improve air flow in your home.

According to the EPA, as temperatures drop, the air is able to hold less moisture. Without good air flow in your home, that excess moisture may appear on your walls, windows and floors. To increase circulation, open doors between rooms, move furniture away from walls and open doors to closets that may be colder than the rooms they’re in. Let fresh air in to reduce moisture and keep mold at bay.

9. Keep mold off household plants.

They’re beautiful and help keep your indoor air clean – and mold loves them. The moist soil in indoor plants is a perfect breeding ground for mold, which may then spread to other areas of your house.

Instead of getting rid of your plants, try adding a bit of Taheebo tea to the water you give to your houseplants. The oil of this tree, which withstands fungi even in rain forests, helps hinder mold growth in plant soil and can be found at natural food stores.

Finally, educate yourself on your regions climate – be it the cold and wet Northeast, the hot and wet South, the hot and dry Southwest or the cold and dry West – and how it responds to moisture. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to mold prevention. Knowing what works for your climate and your home is an important first step.

Source: Heidi Hill. How to prevent mold: 9 Tips. web blog post. Your home. Mother Nature Network.

Is Mold Making You Sick?

Molds are various types of fungi that grow in filaments and reproduce by forming spores. The term mildew is sometimes used to refer to some kinds of mold, particularly mold in the home with a white or grayish color or mold growing in shower stalls and bathrooms. Mold may grow indoors or outdoors and thrives in damp, warm and humid environments. Mold can be found in essentially any environment or season. The most common types of indoor household molds include Cladosporium, Penicillium, Alternaria and Aspergillus. Stachybotryschartarum (also known as Stachybotrys atra and sometimes referred to as “black mold”) is a greenish-black mold that can also be found indoors. Although, it is less common than the other types of mold found in homes. Stachybotrys grows on household surfaces that have high cellulose content, such as wood, fiberboard, gypsum board, paper, dust and lint. There are types of mold that can grow on substances as different as foods and carpet.

Molds produce irritating substances that may act as allergy-causing substances (allergens) in sensitive indiviuals. Furthermore, some molds produce toxic substances known as mycotoxins, but mold itself is not poisonous or toxic. The conditions under which some molds produce toxins are poorly understood, and the presence of mold, even a mold that is capable of producing toxins, does not always imply that toxins are being produced. Mold may not cause any health effects, or it may lead to symptoms in people, including adults and children, who are sensitive to molds. Allergic reactions to mold are the most common health effects of mold. Allergic reactions may happen immediately or develop after a period of time following exposure. Both growing mold and mold spores may lead to allergic reactions. Allergy symptoms include:

  • sneezing
  • runny nose
  • coughing
  • wheezing
  • water eyes
  • redness of the eyes
  • itchy eyes
  • skin irritaion or rash

Sometimes people may develop severe reactions to mold exposure. Symptoms of severe reactions, which are uncommon, include fever and difficulty breathing. People with compromised immune systems or those with chronic lung disease can develop serious infections of the lungs due to molds. It is not possible to predict the degree of severity of the health risks associated with mold in the home. Allergic individuals vary in their degree of susceptibility to mold, and the risk may also depend upon the extent and exact type of mold that is present.

Studies suggest that chronic sinusitis is caused from exposure to fungus and mold spores. Chronic sinusitis patients should try to limit their exposure to mold spores, which can be a challenge when you are outside. Pay attention to the weather, particularly air quality alerts that report high levels of spores and pollen, and limit outdoor activities. With respect to your home environment, you have greater control, meaning you want to ensure that your indoor air quality is optimal for long term health, particularly since the likely cause of chronic sinusitis is mold. Here are some tips:

  • Maintain healthy humidity levels, 30 – 50%, to minimize moisture and prevent mold growth.
  • If you have mold, ensure that the root cause of the problem (ie. the moisture source) is first fixed, and then hire a professional to remove the mold.
  • Ensure that your HVAC system is functioning properly and circulating clean, healthy air. Yearly maintenance and inspection by a professional is highly recommended.

If you suffer from asthma, sinusitis or other respiratory ailments, call a professional mold inspector to determine if you have a mold problem. If you do, the short term cost to remove the mold will be minor compared to the long term health benefits you will gain.

Sources: http://www.medicinenet.com/mold-exposure/page2.htm. http://mszrestoration.stfi.re/is-your-sinus-infection-caused-by-mold/?sf=vzggj&utm_content=buffer9bb01&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Dishwasher Flooding

The standard dishwasher is a modern-day convenience may of us utilize with a great degree of satisfaction. This economical water-saver offers much relief when it comes to daily chores. In fact, Energy-Star rated dishwashers use, on average, as little as three gallons of water per load. On the other hand, washing dishes by hand consumes up to 27 gallons of water per load! Modern appliances like the handy dishwasher are a built-in time saver as well as an environmentally friendly machine.

Dishwashers, like most kitchen appliances, are built to last. Many offer years upon years of convenience. On occasion, these dependable appliances have a tendency to leak or break, causing utter devastation within the kitchen. not only is the automatic dishwashing convenience temporarily halted, but the damage that results can be an expensive fix.

Problems with a Broken Dishwasher

The suds and dirty water that leak from a broken dishwasher can seep into your kitchen floorboards within minutes. Mold growth occurs within as little as 24 hours. So, unless you detect the flood sooner rather than later, you’re in for a costly cleanup.

Periodically inspecting your dishwasher for leaks or potential problems is a tedious task, but one that will save you significant labor expenses and, perhaps, a high-cost replacement.

How to Prevent a Broken Dishwasher

The dishwasher is a tidy and prim device, with all the central hoses and components tucked neatly away inside. The appliance seems relatively uncomplicated. Checking your dishwasher takes a little familiarity with its inner workings. So, where do you begin?

Inspect the Gasket

What is a gasket? The gasket is a rubber lining that keeps the suds and water from leaking out of your dishwasher anytime it operates. Easily check the functionality of the gasket with, first a visual inspection for any obvious wear, and second, a piece of paper. Close the dishwasher door upon the paper. If the paper can be easily removed when the door is closed, a tight seal is not in place. Replace the gasket in this instance.

Notice the Water Level

In general, an operational dishwashers water level will remain at the lowest part of the dishwasher door. Upon running the dishwasher, if you notice the water level to be higher than the edge of the door when you open it just prior to the wash cycle, the float switch could be damaged; or food particles may have clogged the strainer. Simply, remove the strainer and thoroughly rinse it to remove any debris. If the water level continues to be high replace the float switch.

Examine Both Hoses

Dishwashers come equipped with two hoses, one that fills and one that drains. Prior to inspecting the hoses, be sure to turn off the power to the dishwasher from the breaker box. You can check the hoses by removing the lower panel of your dishwasher. If you see any traces of wetness, the hoses may be too worn to operate efficiently. Significant water damage is likely to result over the long run. An additional method to check for the functionality of the hoses is to place a piece of paper underneath the hoses. If the paper becomes wet or saturated at any point, replace both hoses. Also check for and undo any kinks in the hose.

What to do about a Flooded Dishwasher

An unexpected leak may spring if you do not perform periodic checks of the dishwashers internal mechanisms. Soapy suds that spread along the kitchen floor leave more than watery puddles to clean up. Developing mold spores are a cause for concern. Plus, in no way is it safe to step onto a wet kitchen floor with a malfunctioning electrical appliance. The combination of electricity and water is extremely dangerous. All is not lost, when you are aware of the steps necessary to remediate the sudden mechanical failure.

Turn Off the Electricity

First, turn off the electricity to the kitchen. This safety precaution ensures that leaking water and electricity do not mix. Advise your family that the kitchen is off limits until the dishwasher is safe to use once again.

Shut Off the Water

A quick reaction is necessary to prevent additional water damage to the flooring or paneling of surrounding cabinets in your kitchen. Find the waterline that works in conjunction with your dishwasher. You’ll likely locate this under the kitchen sink. Turn the valve completely clockwise to shut off the water to the dishwasher. Once the water source is turned off, take this time to examine the cause of the flooded dishwasher.

Mop up Excess Water

Soak up any water that leaked onto your hardwood flooring, kitchen tiles or surrounding cabinetry. Hardwood flooring and wooden cabinets absorb water easily, creating a risky environment that encourages mold growth or discoloration and damage to surfaces, including swelling and warping. Swift action can prevent mold spores from contaminating the space, as well as reduce other unfavorable conditions.

Call a Professional

Once water seeps deep into the kitchen flooring and cabinets, the resulting damage is difficult to remediate without professional help. Water damage restoration professionals are trained and experienced in all facets of water extraction and drying. Reputable companies, like PRS, are immediately available to eliminate the standing floodwater that easily and effortlessly penetrates surfaces. Advanced water-extraction machinery is the most effective method used by trusted water damage restoration experts to thoroughly dry water damaged areas, furnishings and structures.

When your dependable dishwasher suddenly interrupts your peace of mind with an unexpected leak, water damage restoration experts are a phone call away. Service technicians are available 24 hours a day in the event of emergencies to thoroughly remediate the results of any and all water damage.

Source: Luke Armstrong. “Dishwasher Flooding: How to Prevent and React.” Web blog post. Restoration guides, Restoration Master.

Why You Should Clean You Air Ducts

Before and after air duct cleaning.

If you’re a home owner, it might be easy to forget to take care of your air ducts. However, you should make an effort to make it a part of your regular home maintenance. Keep in mind that air duct cleaning is still in its early stages, so it is difficult to pinpoint when exactly to clean your ducts. For these systems, it is best to consult a professional before jumping into the cleaning practice. Regardless, here are some tips to help you get your bearing in the process.

Before you begin, you should note that duct cleaning has not actually been proven to prevent health issues. No study has conclusively demonstrated that a home’s internal particle levels increase due to dirty air ducts. Much of the dirt and dust adheres to the system’s surfaces and isn’t guaranteed to enter any particular living space. Pollutants from cooking, smoking, cleaning and moving from outdoors to inside may cause greater exposure to harmful contaminants than your home’s air ducts. Additionally, there is not legitimate evidence that suggests that light household dust poses any health risk. That being said, keeping clean ducts as a potential preventative measure couldn’t hurt.

What Exactly is Air Duct Cleaning?

In general, duct cleaning involves the cleaning of the components of forced air systems. This extend to both heating and cooling elements. Possible parts can be:

  • Heat exchangers
  • Cooling/heating coils
  • Fan motors
  • Air handling unit housing
  • Condensate drain pans or drip pans
  • Grillers
  • Diffusers
  • Supply/return ducts and registers

Your chosen service provider will use tools to dislodge debris and dirt and then vacuum away the particles. He or she may want to apply chemical biocides or other chemical treatments to combat microbiological contaminants. The use of UV light treatment may also be discussed.

Ultra violet light for HVAC system, to purify air and prevent mold growth.

Air Duct Cleaning Benefits

There is no evidence to suggest that clean ducts leads to better over all health. However, it should be noted that some homeowners report feeling less congested or stuffy. Other individuals have also stated that their homes smelled better and there was visibly less dust within the household. Regular maintenance will help elongate the life of the system, as service providers can make repairs to leaks and catch any mold growth early on. It might also be a good idea to check for excessive moisture, as this can lead to other air system problems.

Air Duct Health Concerns

There are four major reasons to clean your ducts:

  • Vermin Infestation prevention (insects or rodents)
  • Preventing clogging due to dust or debris
  • Avoiding substantial mold growth
  • Regular maintenance practice

Much of your heating and cooling system is probably inaccessible for visual examination, so you may need to consult a professional for proper inspection. Insulated ducts are at risk for moisture and mold and will need to be replaced if the insulating material has been compromised. If you have mold, you must take care to fix the conditions that allowed for mold growth or the problem will reoccur.

Frequency of Air Duct Cleanings

Because your HVAC system is integral to your home’s overall health and functionality, you should call and consult with a professional on a yearly basis. Depending on your household’s conditions, you may need to perform maintenance with more or less regularity. Take into account your home’s age, air quality, climate and type of HVAC system. Be sure to share this information with your service provider. This annual visit will not eliminate all day-to-day concerns, but you can take care of the basics in between visits.

Air Duct Contamination Prevention

First, you should guard against the build up of dirt and debris by:

1. Changing your filters periodically

2. Vacuuming your home regularly

3. Using High efficiency filters

4. Sealing HVAC systems during home construction until you’ve cleaned the dust and debris

Vacuum your home regularly to reduce dust.

Second, keep your vents and ducts dry by:

  1. Fixing leaks promptly
  2. Checking insulation near cooling coils for moisture
  3. Properly sealing and insulating ducts in spaces without air conditioning
  4. Making sure you HVAC unit is an appropriate size for your home

Stay on top of these points in between professional maintenance sessions.

Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality is a top concern for many homeowners. In the average six-room home, up to 40 pounds of debris and dust is circulated annually. Throughout normal home use, you and your family will generate plenty of dust, chemicals and other air pollutants. These substances are re-circulated anywhere from five to seven times a day. This can cause a build up of particles in your ductwork. Dirty ducts don’t necessarily mean poor air composition, but they likely make some contribution to your indoor air quality.

Energy Savings

Build up from contaminants, dirt and debris can cause an HVAC system to work harder that it should. Over time, this will shorten the life of your system. While filters are expected to get dirty and should be replaced regularly, ducts should not have significant obstructions if you want them to work properly. The United States Department of Energy states that 25 to 40 percent of energy used in household forced air systems is wasted. Keeping ducts clean will help you reduce your monthly energy expenses.

Finding a Good Air Duct Cleaner

Stay away from air duct cleaners who boast about the health benefits of their service. These claims are not supported by any studies or scientific evidence. Consult customer reviews and make sure the company holds the relevant state licenses. Additionally, check with your local consumer affairs office or the Better Business Bureau for any complaints lodged against your prospective service provider.

PRS personally uses Action Air of Clearwater Florida, (727) 365-8461, ask for Alex.

What to Expect From a Professional Duct Cleaner

A professional cleaner will perform an inspection before the actual cleaning. They will bring their own specialized equipment, including a vacuum. They will follow NADCA standards and NAIMA practices for ducts with fiberglass linings. Plus, they will know how and make and effort to protect your carpet and furnishings.

Cleaning your air ducts can get a little tricky as you navigate the various aspects of the service. Be extra careful when choosing a service provider and always check licenses. Keep track of filters in between professional inspections and you will be able to get the most out of your HVAC system. With proper maintenance, you can keep unwanted dust, chemicals and debris out of your household and away from your vents.

Sources: Allergy & Air. Why You Should Clean Your Air Ducts. Web blog post. Indoor Air Quality. Allergy & Air.