What To Do When You Find Mold And Mildew
Both mold and mildew can signal that there are serious problems in the home regarding excess moisture, and if they aren’t eliminated right away, the contamination may spread. Fungal contamination is a common problem in humid areas, but it can emerge in any building where there are moisture infiltration issues or plumbing concerns. If the problem is caught very early, it may be possible to remove the contamination before it spreads, but in most cases, a home or business owner will need to bring in professionals to properly deal with the contamination.
What should a home or business owner do when they spot mold and mildew?
Professionals should always be contacted if the mold or mildew contamination covers at least 10 square feet of material. At this point, it is usually impossible to contain the fungi without professional intervention. However, even if the contamination only covers a small area, it is still wise to contact a professional if it’s a difficult to reach area, if the fungi has been introduced by plumbing or moisture infiltration problems, or if the home or business owner isn’t confident in dealing with the problem. The longer it takes to remove the contamination, the further it will spread and the more expensive the problem will become.
There are, though, some things that a homeowner can do to minimize the damage the contamination causes. Here are a few ways to mitigate the threat of mold and mildew:
- Consider removing any porous materials that have been contaminated or are near the contaminated area. Porous materials accelerate the spread of fungi and they may not be salvageable once affected. By removing them, a homeowner can slow the progression of the fungi and protect more of the home. It’s important, though, to wear safety gear when doing this and to do it slowly, as agitating the fungi can cause it to disperse in the air.
- Keep the contaminated area as dry as possible, and if there is a significant plumbing leak, consider cutting off water flow into the home. Moisture causes fungi growth to explode, so drying everything out can help isolate the contamination.
- Do not paint over the contaminated material. It may be tempting to paint or apply finish to the affected area, but this is only a temporary fix, and not an effective one at that. The fungi will prevent the paint or finish from properly adhering, and professionals will need to remove it to properly deal with contamination anyway.
Professionals address fungal contamination by discovering the root cause of the problem, addressing it if possible, and treating the affected area using commercial grade products and processes. Certified firms know how to seal off the area from the rest of the building to ensure the contamination does not spread. They will also salvage as much as possible, and safely dispose of anything that cannot be restored. This is the kind of comprehensive approach that will protect the home and family from further harm
Article written by: IICRC
Deciding Whether or Not To Have Your Air Ducts Cleaned
Knowledge about the potential benefits and possible problems of air duct cleaning is limited. Since conditions in every home are different, it is impossible to generalize about whether or not air duct cleaning in your home would be beneficial.
If no one in your household suffers from allergies or unexplained symptoms or illnesses and if, after a visual inspection of the inside of the ducts, you see no indication that your air ducts are contaminated with large deposits of dust or mold (no musty odor or visible mold growth), having your air ducts cleaned is probably unnecessary. It is normal for the return registers to get dusty as dust-laden air is pulled through the grate. This does not indicate that your air ducts are contaminated with heavy deposits of dust or debris; the registers can be easily vacuumed or removed and cleaned.
On the other hand, if family members are experiencing unusual or unexplained symptoms or illnesses that you think might be related to your home environment, you should discuss the situation with your doctor. EPA has published the following publications for guidance on identifying possible indoor air quality problems and ways to prevent or fix them.
You may consider having your air ducts cleaned simply because it seems logical that air ducts will get dirty over time and should occasionally be cleaned. While the debate about the value of periodic duct cleaning continues, no evidence suggests that such cleaning would be detrimental, provided that it is done properly.
On the other hand, if a service provider fails to follow proper duct cleaning procedures, duct cleaning can cause indoor air problems. For example, an inadequate vacuum collection system can release more dust, dirt and other contaminants than if you had left the ducts alone. A careless or inadequately trained service provider can damage your ducts or heating and cooling system, possibly increasing your heating and air conditioning costs or forcing you to undertake difficult and costly repairs or replacements.
You should consider having the air ducts in your home cleaned if:
- There is substantial visible mold growth inside hard surface (e.g., sheet metal) ducts or on other components of your heating and cooling system.
- Ducts are infested with vermin, e.g. (rodents or insects)
- Ducts are clogged with excessive amounts of dust and debris and/or particles are actually released into the home from your supply registers.
Article written by: EPA.Gov
When Is A Water Restoration Technician Needed?
When Is A Water Restoration Technician Needed?
By the time a homeowner needs to bring in a water damage restoration technician, they are likely facing an emergency. When excess moisture infiltrates a building, it doesn’t take long before it starts doing real damage. Just how much damage depends on the amount of water present, and where it is coming from. Contaminated fluid, for instance, is a major hazard and warrants an immediate response from a certified professional. And if moisture has begun pooling in areas, this will also require a professional’s expertise. But no matter what kind of emergency a homeowner is looking at, they should only consider a professional that has been certified through a reputable organization, like the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, or IICRC.
What kind of disasters can a water damage restoration technician help with?
In short, any instance where fluid has entered the home is something a certified professional can assist with, but in general, these professionals are called in when severe moisture damage is imminent. This includes disasters like floods, sewage backflows and burst plumbing. All are capable of inundating the home with hundreds of gallons of water in a matter of minutes, and by the time a homeowner can react, there may be several inches of water standing in the basement or lower floor.
This is when a water damage restoration technician can prove to be a valuable ally, as floods and sewage backflows produce extremely hazardous conditions in the building. Untrained people should never handle contaminated fluid, as it can contain a spectrum of pathogens, chemicals and toxins. Chemicals such as fertilizers, oil and pesticides are often found in floods, and both floods and sewage backflows can sweep in runoff and fungal colonies. Wildlife like snakes, spiders and venomous insects may huddle around piles of trash or furniture after being displaced in the home, and, finally, electrical and fire hazards are a real concern following a flood as well.
Even when uncontaminated fluid is present, such as from a busted plumbing valve, it only takes a day or two before it may become biologically hazardous as well.
What can a water damage restoration technician do once called in?
A certified crew has the technology and methods needed to quickly halt the damage and save any materials that can be salvaged. First, the crew will move through the building to recuse anything that can be saved, and pump out any standing fluid. The home is dried out over the next several days, using a combination of air movers and dehumidifiers, along with air injectors for tough to reach areas like under floors. If contaminated fluid was present, the crew will clean out the home using special processes that eliminate all pathogens.
Once a water damage restoration technician has completed their work in the home, it will be safe for the family to return and put their lives back together.
Article written by: IICRC
What Is A Carpet Extractor & How Is It Used By Professionals?
One of the most popular pieces of equipment in restoration is the deep cleaning, versatile carpet extractor. This piece of equipment comes in a variety of designs, but the basic design involves a combination of heat, pressure, suction, and a cleaning solution. Attacking stains, odors from mold and mildew or pets, and soil is a tricky task. Vacuums, even the highest quality designs, can only lift dirt from the surface of the fibers. Whereas carpet extractors can remove the dirt or stain from the deepest areas of the carpeting, making them a vital tool.
Both professionals and homeowners can use this equipment, although it is important to know the proper procedure and to use the correct equipment. The different product designs range from portable to truck-mounted and include:
- Canister cleaners – these are simple to use and avoid lengthy setup times. This product is usually heavy duty and includes a large tank which means more time cleaning and less time refilling.
- Interim cleaners – these are for small and hard to reach areas. These cleaners are smaller than canisters, which means more time will be spent refilling the tank. However, the tanks are typically small enough to refill under a sink faucet.
- Portable cleaners – these machines are useful for spot cleaning. They can be great for using on small jobs and can be used on rugs, upholstery, and in cars.
- Dual cleaners – these are one of the larger cleaners available, but they often get the job done in one pass. This product uses technology such as dual rotating rollers to clean more deeply into the fibers. The size is effective for covering large areas quickly
- Rapid drying carpet extractors – these machines do just what they say. They provide a thorough cleaning while avoiding saturation, so the carpeting will need less time to dry.
There are more designs on the market that can be used to fit almost any need. Professionals can achieve the most effective results because in conjunction with a powerful carpet extractor, they also have access to the most powerful detergents. Unfortunately, some of the chemicals required for tough stains and odors are not available for homeowners to use. Professionals also use truck-mounted machines to provide the most effective cleaning service. They provide a deeper clean without the time-consuming task of refilling the tank. They also provide superior suction, and the water can be heated to the perfect temperature for the best results. Professional grade equipment can also mean less drying time, enabling home or business owners to get back to their routine as quickly as possible.
While some choose to tackle this task on their own, home or business owners considering having their carpet cleaned should hire a certified professional for the best results.
Article written by: IICRC
What Is The Restoration Process For Fire Dame?
Fire damage can be extremely devastating to a home or business. Emergency responders will be quick to act in order to put out the fire, but possibly leaving behind significant water damage. The initial destruction that is done only becomes magnified by lingering smoke and soot. The traumatic experience can leave business owners and families desperate for help. Certified restoration professionals can help restore a house or office building back to its original condition.
An assessment of the fire damage should be conducted as soon as possible. The process of restoration is very involved and requires time and diligence. The assessment will determine what type of harm occurred and how to proceed with the restoration process. In the procedure of extinguishing the fire, emergency responders will use either water or dry chemicals, which compound the initial destruction caused by the fire. The lingering soot and smoke needs to be attended to because both can cause quick deterioration and corrosion of the building. Additionally, smoke also leaves behind a pervasive odor that is noxious and can be dangerous to breathe in. Removal of smoke odor is a multiphase process that begins during the initial clean up. It is imperative to begin the restoration process within the first few hours to stabilize and preserve as much as possible. The following steps should be conducted by an experienced professional who has knowledge about fire damage.
Step 1. The initial clean up should occur as soon as possible. The harm caused by soot and water can lead to more severe problems down the road. It is important that these issues are addressed immediately. Professionals can assist home and business owners with inventory services. Everything affected that can be restored should be removed and thoroughly cleaned.
Step 2. Any walls, roofs, or windows that were affected will need to be boarded up and tarped off. This is to prevent further damage and ensure a measure of security is in place.
Step 3. Water must be removed as soon as possible to avoid additional issues, including mold growth. Professionals will have high-quality water vacuums, dehumidifiers and air movers that can remove almost all of the water and speed up the drying process. The dehumidifiers help prevent floors and walls from warping.
Step 4. Cleaning and sanitizing all restorable items to prevent staining. Certified technicians have access to professional grade restoration products that prevent soot from staining various items.
One of the most difficult aspects about fire damage is the lingering effect of smoke odor. This type of odor is difficult to remove because it can affect every aspect of a building, including wood frames and HVAC systems. One of the techniques that is used by professionals to remove the odor is called thermal fogging. Thermal fogging is highly effective because it mimics the size of smoke particles. The particles produced by thermal fogging attach themselves onto the smoke particles. By doing so, the smoke particles are no longer recognized as an odorous element. Thermal fogging is a popular technique because it many times completely eliminates the problem. Professionals will use thermal fogging in conjunction with other equipment and processes to ensure that the odors are eliminated.
The final step in the restoration process is replacing and repairing anything that couldn’t be cleaned or restored to its previous condition. Drywall, paint, and carpets may have to be installed if the fire damage was severe. By understanding the restoration process following a fire, home and business owners can easily see the need for hiring certified professionals to handle the task effectively and expediently.
Ozone 101: Using Oxygen Molecules For Odor Removal
Lightning: Natures Ozone Generator
In chemistry, we represent elements with letters (for example “O” stands for the element “oxygen”), and the small numbers to the lower-right of the element indicate the number of atoms of that element in the molecule. For example, O2 represents a molecule that consists of two oxygen atoms, which is the stable form of “regular” oxygen. O3 represents a molecule that consists of three oxygen atoms, which is the unstable form of oxygen called ozone.
Ozone has existed on Earth for as long as oxygen has been here- about 500 million years. It has existed in our universe for billions of years. Wherever oxygen comes into contact with an electric arc, such as lightning and/or a particular wavelength of ultraviolet rays, like those from the sun around which the planet orbits, ozone will be created.
How is ozone generated?
During an electrical storm, bolts of lightning in the atmosphere rip oxygen molecules apart, leaving single oxygen atoms in their wake. These single atoms quickly bond with surrounding O2 molecules, creating O3, or ozone.
This is why the air smells so fresh right after a lightning storm. Lightning is nature’s air purifier.
The ozone layer in the lower stratosphere is also generated by molecular fission and fusion, but by the sun’s short wave ultraviolet rays rather than by electricity. Coincidentally, it’s this ozone layer- created by short UV waves, that protects life on our planet from the longer UV waves within the spectrum.
Ozone generators manufacture ozone by applying either of these same two principles:
1. Corona Discharge
Ozone generators that utilize the electric arc method of generating ozone are referred to as corona discharge ozone generators. High voltage (2,000 volts and up) is passed through a dielectric material (material that transmits electrical force without conduction), while being fed and cooled by ambient air supplied by a fan located at the rear of the unit. Ambient air is made up of 78.08% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen, .93% argon, the remaining .04% consisting of trace amounts of other gasses.
This sustained electric arc is what severs the O2 molecules, resulting in the manufacture of ozone.
2. Ultraviolet Light
Waves of ultraviolet (UV) light are what ‘slice’ O2 molecules in half in UV ozone generators. UV bulbs are mounted inside the generator which emit certain wavelengths of ultraviolet light which, in turn, separate the atoms of passing O2 molecules. This is how our sun creates and maintains the protective ozone layer between the troposphere and stratosphere.
UV is much less effective at generating ozone than corona discharge. Generators of this type typically have a much lower ozone output as a result.
How does ozone destroy odors?
Ozone reacts with odor molecules by transferring the “extra” oxygen atom of the ozone molecule to the odor molecule, changing its composition so it no longer has the same chemical makeup. This chemical reaction is called oxidation.
In a nutshell, through the oxidation process, what was formerly an odor-causing molecule is now an entirely different compound, and therefore does not possess the odor of its preceding form. A simple example of this molecular restructuring is the addition of an oxygen atom to a molecule of H2O to form H2O2 (which is the conversion of water to hydrogen peroxide).
To compare the difference between odor treatment using deodorizers and ozone, I often use the following analogy with my students. Pretend we have two foul-smelling odor molecules, and think of them as two bad guys. Let’s treat the first bad guy with a spray-on deodorizer. This can be represented by locking him in a jail cell so he can’t affect anybody or anything. He’s harmless, but “underneath it all”, he is still a bad guy. If the cell in which he is locked falls apart or wears out (or if his sentence time runs out), he is released and can again be an actively bad guy… or in our case, a stinky odor molecule.
Now let’s take the second bad guy and treat him with ozone. During the oxidation process, his very molecular structure is altered; he is no longer the same thing. This can be represented by waving a magic wand and “poof- he’s a rabbit!” Since the bad guy has been turned into something completely different/harmless, he can no longer be a bad guy- for he is now a rabbit, permanently, or in our case, a molecule without an unpleasant odor.
Is Ozone Dangerous?
The most important thing to remember when generating ozone in a space is to evacuate the premises during the treatment. This includes the removal of pets, and in the case of high levels generated over a period of several hours, removal of houseplants is suggested. It’s a good idea to post “Do Not Enter- Ozone Area” (or similar message) signs on all entrances of a space as well.
After the treatment time is complete, either enough time should pass for the ozone to revert to oxygen (O2), or the space should be circulated with fresh air before people and animals are reintroduced.
Ozone has a relatively short half-life of approximately 30 minutes. For example, a half hour after the generator turns off, an ozone level of 10ppm (10 parts per million) will be 5ppm, and a half hour after that, it will be 2.5ppm, and so on. This quick degradation process is the result of the weak bond holding the third oxygen atom to the molecule.
There is a lot of conflicting information out there regarding how safe ozone use is in the restoration industry. While prolonged exposure even in light concentrations can be irritating to tissue, especially the lungs, using the proper precautions can help everyone avoid any side effects at all.
By way of comparison, carbon monoxide (CO) is considerably more dangerous, being responsible for 2,500 deaths annually, yet we think nothing of walking down the street in heavy traffic, alongside countless huge carbon monoxide generators (cars).
And here’s one of the most beautiful things about using ozone in the restoration industry- the only residue resulting from the generation of ozone is oxygen (O2).When used properly and a few simple rules are followed, ozone can be a safe and effective tool.
Article written by: David Hart , Restoration and Remediation Magzine
How a Water Restoration Technician Assists After Disaster
A water restoration technician has an extremely important job when a home is affected by excess moisture or fluid. Certified professionals in the industry can quickly reverse the extensive damage that a flood or sewage backflow can cause, and save as many items as possible in the process. And when dealing with contaminated fluids, especially when it has pooled in the home, only certified professionals should be allowed to manage the cleanup. Attempting to perform cleanup efforts without expert assistance can lead to injury or illness, both of which can be severe.
A certified water restoration technician will usually be on call around the clock, except for those times when an entire community has been affected by a major disaster. As soon as a professional is on site, they will assess the situation and determine what items need immediate rescuing. If fluid has pooled in areas around the home, then pumps will be used to remove it.
The home will be dried using a configuration of heavy duty air movers and dehumidifiers, and while it dries, the firm will move through the building and look for any evidence of mold or pathogen contamination. If pathogens or mold are present, they will be eliminated using special procedures. This will ensure the home is safe to return to, and with concerted drying efforts, the building will as good as new once professionals have completed their work.
6 Steps To Follow After A Fire Damage
Safety is a primary concern when dealing with fire damage. Returning to normal may seem impossible, but thankfully it isn’t. After calling the fire department, home and business owners should be aware that the building may be dangerous. Entering the building should be avoided since the environment could be toxic. No one should enter the house or office until the emergency responders approve that it is safe. Roofs and floors could be unsafe and could possibly cave in without notice. Smoke, soot and water are problems that need to be dealt with as soon as possible. Home and business owners should take the following steps following a fire:
- Contact local disaster relief. In some cases, relatives will open their home for their families or friends in an emergency. If that is not an option, local services can help families find shelter, food and medication
- Contact the insurance company. The insurance company can help home and business owners understand what they must do in order to file a claim and receive compensation.
- Utilities should not be turned on if the emergency responders have shut them off. They could be extremely hazardous and should only be used if a professional says it is safe.
- Call the landlord or mortgage company and inform them about the situation
- Call the police and inform them that the office or home will be vacant until the building is restored.
- Receipts should be saved to provide information to the insurance company and to claim losses on income tax forms.
Fire damage can be severe, but restoration is possible. It is important to proceed with caution to prevent any further damage. With experienced restoration professionals and some time, a house or office can often be restored to its original condition.
Article written by: IICRC
Why Is Mold And Mildew Such A Big Threat?
This mold was the result of a dehumidifier failing while the home owner was away on vacation.
Mold and mildew are some of the most persistent enemies a homeowner can have, and getting rid of them for good can be a major hassle without professional assistance. Fungi is particularly stubborn in humid areas, though they can take root in any home that has issues with moisture buildup. All it takes is a slight, steady plumbing leak, or a slightly cracked window to give the fungi all the moisture and space it needs to operate. And once it shows up, it will spread quickly if not checked. This is why homeowners are often best served by seeking out certified professionals, as they will be able to completely eliminate the contamination without allowing it to spread.
The primary threat that mold and mildew produce is to the building inhabitants. Fungi contamination can aggravate allergies and lead to health issues. This is especially problematic in young children and the elderly, who are susceptible to both. Fungi, though, can also destroy material and necessitate expensive replacements and repairs if not dealt with promptly.
Remediation firms are experts at halting the spread of fungal contamination, and they know how to seal off the area to keep it from dispersing. And with their commercial grade products and processes, the contamination can be eliminated in short order. This quick response will minimize the damage and ensure the home is healthy enough for a family to live and relax in.
Article written by: IICRC
What To Do If You Find Water In The Basement
This flooded basement was caused to do a pipe that had burst while the home owners were at work.
One of the worst nightmares for any homeowner is finding water in the basement, and in most cases, the only way to deal with such a situation is to bring in a professional. Excess water, especially when it is contaminated, has the potential to cause a great deal of damage, and if the problem is not dealt with properly, the situation can quickly get out of hand. This is especially true when water is pooling in the home and coming in contact with organic materials like drywall or fabric.
Water in the basement can be caused by a lot of factors. The room may sit under the water table, which will slowly push water into the home. A disaster like a flood can quickly fill the room with fluid, as well as a burst pipe or other plumbing mishap. No matter what causes the water to build up in the home, it will take a certified team to remove it and restore the basement effectively.
There are a couple steps, though, that a homeowner can take to minimize damage and make the home safe to navigate through. If a pipe burst or is leaking, then cutting off the supply line into the home can halt the problem. Also, switching off the home’s power may be necessary, as an electrical discharge can make walking through water exceedingly dangerous and cause a fire.
Safety is the primary concern when contending with excess moisture, and a certified crew will be able to get the home restored in while avoiding any dangerous situations.
Article written by: IICRC