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.

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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New Years Resolutions for Your Home

As the clock winds down towards the New Year, we all begin ticking off our lists for our New Years resolutions. The usual suspects of losing weight, going to the gym more or finally getting in shape will always make their appearance on that list, only to fall by the wayside as life gets busy. This year, why not try a new approach? Add to that list some things that will make your home healthier, possibly save you some unexpected stresses (financial & health) in the long run. We’re going to run down some resolutions that can be made for your home all year long to keep your life, health and family running smoothly.

1. Seasonally (or every six months), have your heating or air conditioner inspected and serviced. You should also change or clean your air filter every 3 months or according to manufacturers instructions. This will help the quality of your inside air, as well as upkeep on the maintenance of your system.

2. Inspect and repair all caulked areas:  Sinks, faucets, tubs/showers, windows and doors, all penetrations (fireplace, chimney, ducts, vents). Do this twice a year.

3. Look for plumbing leaks and clean your faucet aerators of lime deposits.

4. Check for and repair damage/cracks to the interior and exterior walls of your home.

5. Clean and repair your homes gutters seasonally. Ensure they are free of debris that could inhibit water flow to downspouts. Make sure your water deflectors at the base of downspouts are directing water away from your home’s foundation.

6. Extend the life and good condition of your water heater by flushing your hot water heater and refilling. Do this annually or more often, depending on the hardness of your areas water. It is a good idea to test your hot water heater safety valve, as well.

7. Inspect all fire extinguishers and test and change the batteries in your smoke detectors. Create a family fire evacuation plan. Ensure everyone knows how to exit and where to meet outside.

Adding these (or even a few) to your resolutions for the New Year may put you on the road to New Years Resolution success! Make the safety of your home and family a part of your focus for the year 2020.

Source:  https://insideandoutpropertyinspectors.com/florida-home-maintenance-checklist

Issues From High Indoor Humidity Levels.

When the humidity levels soar outdoors, it’s natural to seek sanctuary indoors, thanks to the marvels of modern air conditioning. If you move fast enough between the house, the car, and buildings, you hardly have to feel humidity levels that make you feel like you’re breathing a wet sponge. But just because that cool air is enclosed inside four walls doesn’t mean it’s protected from high humidity. It doesn’t just make you feel hotter; humidity in your house causes all kinds of trouble, ranging from mild discomfort to damage to your home and possessions, and even your health.

Related image

Poor Indoor Air Quality

Even with the benefits of air conditioning, air quality suffers with excess humidity levels. Modern construction techniques and better building materials mean that there are fewer gaps to let air leak in or out. While it’s important to keep the hot, humid air out and keep the nice, cool air in, these tightly sealed buildings also seal in dust mites and mold spores that are commonly found in the air. All the spores need to grow are food sources, which are in building materials and textiles, and humidity. While air purifiers and plants can help clean the air somewhat, the best way to manage the quality of the air inside your home is to control the humidity levels.

Mold and Mildew Growth

If your home or business has a problem with high humidity levels, it’s not a matter of if there’s going to be a problem with mold and mildew, but when. Mold spores occur naturally in the air and are microscopic, so there’s no way to eliminate them completely. Spores begin growing into mold within 48 hours of exposure to high humidity levels because they find plenty of food sources in drywall, paper, fabric, and other materials. Left untreated, mold will continue to grow, quickly moving into hidden areas like walls where it can travel through a building undetected, spreading into areas that weren’t affected by the initial infestation.

Lower Quality Sleep

Anyone who’s gone camping in the middle of summer or lived without air conditioning knows the challenges of trying to sleep when the humidity is high. When the air is humid, water can’t evaporate from your skin and cool your body. When your body is too hot, it’s difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep, so the quality of your sleep suffers. Poor sleep quality affects so much of your everyday life, so it’s worth investing in a window air conditioner or a dehumidifier for the bedroom if excess humidity is a problem.

Increased Asthma & Allergy Symptoms

Besides damaging your home or business and its contents, mold caused by high humidity impacts your health. If you already have asthma or allergies, mold growth will only make them worse. Worsening symptoms means more visits to the doctor, which means more lost time from work or school, and more money spent on medications. Even if you don’t have asthma or allergies, mold growth irritates eyes and respiratory systems, so reactions feel more like a cold that just won’t go away, no matter what over the counter medications you try.

Warped Wood

Long-term exposure to high levels of humidity can warp hardwoods and wood furniture in your home. Often the damage is irreversible, especially if the damage is wide spread or affects a large area, such as a hardwood floor. Wood furniture and floors are expensive investments that need protection from high humidity.

Strained HVAC Systems

High humidity levels make the air feel hotter, so it’s natural to turn on the air conditioning. This puts an added strain on your HVAC system, which may already be struggling due to age, dirty filters, or a lack of preventative maintenance. The extra work may even shorten the lifespan of the system.

Higher Utility Bills

The other nasty by-product of turning on the air conditioning more often is an increase in the utility bill. Obviously, the more the air is on, the more electricity is used. There are plenty of cost of living increases that are beyond our control, like gas and medical expenses. However, by keeping the humidity in your home or business under control, you can keep your air conditioner on less often and keep the utility bills down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luke Armstrong. “Issues From High Indoor Humidity Levels.” Web blog post. Restoration guides, Restoration Master Finder. 30 Aug 2017. 17 Nov 2017

Turkey Fryer Fire Safety.

Compared to the tradition of roasting the turkey in the oven on Thanksgiving, many families prefer a little more flavor by frying it instead. But many organizations, including the National Fire Protection Association and Underwriters Laboratories, are strongly against them due to the dangers they pose. If you have ever watched a turkey fryer fire video, you will notice that once the fire starts, it shoots up in seconds, engulfing the fryer and surrounding materials in a thick, fiery cloud.

But if these videos don’t scare you from sticking the bird in the hot oil, be sure to follow all instructions and practice extreme caution before doing so. Check out these turkey fryer fire safety tips to keep you, your loved ones, and home safe from a Thanksgiving fire disaster.

Turkey-Fryer-Fire-Safety-Tips

Emergency Fire Damage Restoration

While not all disasters can be prevented, knowing who to call after a fire damage emergency is crucial when it comes to restoring your property and contents. ServiceMaster is a professional fire and smoke damage restoration company that is available 24/7 to handle all property emergencies. From the initial inspection to rebuilding the structure, they will restore your home’s previous condition within a timely matter.

They can also restore personal items to their original conditions with professional content cleaning and pack out services. Using commercial cleaning products, they can remove that thick, oily residue left behind from the smoke and soot byproducts. As soon as the flames have been extinguished on your property, you can rely on these professionals to handle all aspects of the restoration process.

Cause of Turkey Fryer Fires

One of the best ways to prevent turkey fryer fires is to know what causes them. When a frozen turkey is submerged into a pot of oil, it won’t mix with the frozen water on the turkey. Instead, heavy pockets of water will sink to the bottom of the fryer while the oil surrounding them quickly heats it beyond its boiling point. The water then evaporates, expands, and splatters the oil everywhere.

As soon as the beads of oil hit the burner, they heat up instantly, igniting into flames that will quickly spread in all directions from the fryer. This is why the turkey can never be frozen or saturated before being fried.

Turkey Fryer Fire Safety Tips

While many families are successful in frying up a perfectly cooked bird, others become victims to large, thick clouds of fire that destroy their home and/or send them to the emergency room. This is why it is so crucial to know what you are doing before firing up the burner (no pun intended).

Location is key

Even if you have been frying your turkey for years and have never experienced a problem, you should know that doing it at least 10 feet away from all buildings is the most crucial safety tip. Because hot oil will spray everywhere when cooking, it can easily start a fire when making contact with combustible materials, such as wood or fabric.  If the oil touches bare skin, it can also cause severe burns.

When finding an ideal spot to fry the bird, keep it at a safe distance away from all housing structures. The base should be made of dirt or concrete, a non-flammable material that won’t ignite when coming into contact with hot oil. Also keep the burner’s propane tank as far away from the burner as possible without causing too much tension on the hose or tipping over the tank.

For extra safety, keep a fire extinguisher next to you in case anything gets out of control.

Finally, keep everyone out of the frying area for their own safety – unless their help is absolutely necessary.

Thaw the turkey

Even if you choose to roast the turkey, thawing it is an essential part of the preparation process. Before adding any spices or seasonings, make sure that it is fully thawed.

To do this, allow it to sit in the fridge for every 4 pounds of meat, or if you are running short on time, place it into a cold water bath, and let it sit for one hour for every 2 pounds.

After ensuring that the turkey is fully thawed by checking it for ice, dry it out completely and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Be careful with the seasonings

While everyone has their own opinion about which seasonings to add to a turkey, extra attention must be put forth when deep frying the bird. If you are marinating it first, make sure that it dries completely before placing it into the hot oil. You can also inject the liquid seasoning deep within the muscles, under the skin so that the oil won’t splatter when it cooks.

Measure the oil thoroughly

While you are waiting for the seasonings to dry (if you used liquid), you can start the measuring process. This is also another essential step to prevent the oil from spilling over the sides, landing on the burner, and causing everything to go up in flames.

To measure the perfect amount of oil, first practice with water. Place the turkey into the pot and fill it with water until it reaches between 4 and 6 inches below the rim. Then remove the turkey and measure the volume. This will be the exact amount of oil you will want to use when frying the turkey. Just make sure that both the pot and the bird are thoroughly dried before adding the oil.

Image result for turkey fry

Lowering the turkey

As soon as you are ready with the seasonings and have ensured that the bird is fully thawed, it is ready to be placed into the oil. If you choose to do it by hand, make sure to cover every inch of bare skin. This includes wearing oven mitts, long sleeves, pants, and close-toed shoes. Otherwise, the hot oil will stick to bare skin, causing severe burns that can result in an emergency trip to the hospital.

If you want to use something else to lower it, make sure that it can hold a lot of weight by testing it with heavy books, rocks, or a strong fryer basket. Then practice lowering them to get the feel of how to do it slowly.

 

After practicing, be sure that the turkey is securely attached to the rope, or it won’t slip from your hands. Then carefully lower it into the oil. If it starts spitting, DO NOT DROP THE TURKEY, but lift it out of oil and find out what’s wrong.

Non-fire risks

While grease fires are the most dangerous risk when frying turkeys, don’t forget about the most general cooking risk: undercooked meat. But it can be difficult to dip the meat thermometer in boiling oil to measure the bird’s internal temperature.

A general rule is to cook the turkey for three minutes per pound. Then you can carefully remove the turkey from the hot oil to take its temperature. If it reads 145 degrees, allow it to cool down at room temperature for 20 minutes before carving into it.

Cleaning up the mess

Even after a successful frying job, cleaning up the oil can be a chore. First allow it to cool down before taking it out of the pot; you can measure its temperature before disposing of it. As soon as it safe to do so, do NOT dump the oil down the drain.

Instead, pour it into a disposable container, such as a large can or plastic container, and then throw it in the garbage. If you are afraid it may leak, place the container into the freezer until it becomes solid, and then throw it away.

Afterwards, wipe away the grease from the burner with either dish soap or vinegar. And there you have it – a successfully fried turkey and undamaged house!

Always be Prepared

Even if you have been frying turkeys for years, accidents can still happen. The turkey can slip from your hands when lowering it into the fryer or your rope-and-pulley system could break, spilling the oil everywhere and igniting a fire. The point is that something can always go wrong when frying a turkey; therefore, you should always be prepared. Ensure to have all emergency contact numbers, including your local hospital, fire department, insurance company, and fire damage restoration company.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luke Armstrong. “Turkey Fryer Fire Safety Tips” Web blog post. Restoration tips, Restoration Master. 9 Nov 2017.

Do These Contractor Practices Seem Shady? They Are!

Clouds aren’t the only things that roll in with severe weather. Also on that horizon are unscrupulous contractors. Home repair scams arrive in the aftermath of storms as shady contractors cash in by delivering substandard or incomplete work. Help protect yourself, your money, and your home from repair ripoffs by learning to spot the red flags.

Image result for contractor warning

Warning signs of a scam

Be alert if contractors do any of the following:

  • Offer unsolicited services for projects like driveway sealing, chimney rebuilds, and roof repair—projects that are commonly “pitched” to homeowners
  • Quote a reduced price on the work because of “materials left over from a job down the street”
  • Offer a discount for using your home as a demonstration
  • Employ pushy door-to-door sales tactics or advertise through flyers or newspapers
  • Appear to be from out of town or working out of a pickup truck
  • Demand immediate payment in full
  • Accept cash only
  • Provide no written contract
  • Are not willing to produce references
  • Fail to provide proof of insurance and proper licensing
  • Suggest financing or recommend financing through someone they know
  • Ask you to secure any required permits
  • Promise insurance compensation for their repairs

Ways to protect yourself

  • Get multiple quotes from local established businesses.
  • Take time to make your decision.
  • Do your research. Look into professional affiliations and Better Business Bureau reports, and follow up on references from previous clients.
  • Check for up-to-date licenses, and verify insurance protection.
  • Insist on written estimates and a contract that includes contact information, important dates, and a breakdown of costs. According to Federal Trade Commission rulings, you may be able to cancel a contract of more than $25 within three business days of signing it at your home or in a seller’s temporary business location.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Admin ” Do These Contractor Practices Seem Shady? They Are.” Web blog post. Simple Insights, State Farm Insurance. 8 Nov 2017.

 

Protecting Your Home From Storm Water Damage

A heavy rainstorm has finally stopped. Or maybe a long winter has finally ended, and the deep snows have begun to melt.

While good weather may seem like a relief, the potential for water damage may just be beginning. Storm water runoff can quickly overwhelm natural and manmade systems, leading to flooding and property damage.

The steps you take today to prepare your home and yard for proper drainage can help avoid time-consuming and costly repairs when the bad weather does blow through.

In a natural environment, storm water runoff is absorbed by soil, evaporates into the atmosphere or flows into bodies of water, such as streams, lakes or rivers. Homeowners may need to recreate the natural environment on their property to address storm water runoff. This includes planting trees and other vegetation, building rain gardens and installing rain barrels or cisterns to collect roof water.

Rain on roof of a house

How Can You Protect Your Home from Storm Water?

“The key to developing a yard drainage plan is to understand the specific characteristics of your property and implement the system that works best for you,” says Mike Koppang, a Travelers Risk Control professional. During a storm, you can go outside and observe how the water flows. Take note of the different grades and slopes and whether they divert the flowing water away from your home. Look for any low spots that collect or pool water and for any steep slopes that have indications of surface erosion.

Consider the steps needed to protect your property from water runoff. Rain that falls on roofs, driveways, patios, roads and other impervious areas moves across the ground surface at greater speeds. The property adjacent to these areas could be more susceptible to damage. Frozen soil can also increase risk of damage by preventing water from being absorbed by the soil. Replacing impervious areas with pervious surfaces, such as permeable paving stones or pavers, can also help.

Other questions you might consider:

Is storm water that falls on impervious surfaces diverted away from your house? This is the work of things like roof gutter downspouts, driveways, walkways and patios. Runoff from these surfaces should be directed to an area that has the ability to absorb or slow the surface flow, such as landscaped areas, and away from your house.

Does your house have a stream, pond or lake close by? Consider the flood potential and how it may impact your property. You can research local flood maps that will detail flood water levels for various storm events and their flood potential.

Does your driveway or other impervious surface have a negative pitch back toward the house? Consider installing trench drains or area drains to help prevent pooling and divert water away from the house.

Do you have retaining walls on your property? If so, it is important that the walls have a drainage system in place to alleviate pressure behind the wall. Periodically clean weep holes to ensure they are not clogged. Surface water should not be allowed to cascade over the top of the wall and instead should be diverted to the end of the wall or around it.

Is a portion of your house below ground level, such as a basement? Make sure any sewer and water lines, or any other pipes or lines that penetrate subsurface walls, and foundation cracks are properly sealed. Basements that are prone to water intrusion should have a water collection system in place, such as a sump pump system. This system should be maintained with a battery backup for continued operation in the event of a power failure. Consider elevating mechanical systems or installing curbs around areas that need protecting but cannot be elevated, such as finished areas and storage areas. Exterior basement window wells should have covers and the ground surface of the well should be below the well rim.

Do you have a sewer or septic system and property with known high water tables? Have the system checked by a professional. If the groundwater rises too high, it can affect the efficiency and operation of the system. In some cases, this may lead to sewer back up or waste leaching above the ground or back into the house.

Surface storm water is not the only consideration for protecting your home. It is also important to assess the functionality of your whole home envelope system. Make sure that your house exterior is maintained, including roofing, flashings, weather barriers, windows, doors and sealants.

While you cannot prevent against all damage from storm water runoff during large acts of nature, these steps can help protect your home when storms do hit.

 

 

 

 

 

Admin. “Protecting Your Home From Storm Water Damage” Web blog post. Prepare & Prevent. Travelers Insurance. 7 Nov 2017