Mythbusters: Debunking Old Mold Lore

There is no shortage of erroneous mold information!

Call it Mold, Fungus, Mildew, Rot, Crud. In shower stalls, attics or basements. Under appliances, clothes hampers, sinks. If you’ve got excess moisture anywhere in your home, expect uninvited, stealthy mold to slink in. With so much seriously misleading information in our culture concerning mold and how to deal with it, folks can get themselves worked up for many wrong reasons. Many property owners are inclined to take things into their own hands when attacking a mold infestation. In doing so, they can end up causing more harm than good. So let’s shine a bright light on this dark topic, mold – and make decisions based on current, truthful and scientific info rather than ‘mold wive’s tales’ and dark-age mythology. 

Myth 1: Household bleach is the stuff to use on moldy problems.

No, Not a good idea! Chlorox and other household cleaners can only remove surface mold, while the underlying moisture problem and the live mold ‘roots’ or hyphae will remain behind ready to grow again. Bleach can actually encourage a mold problem. Look at the label on a bottle of bleach. The active ingredient is only 6%. The other ingredients are mostly WATER -94%. What does mold need to grow? That’s right WATER, just what mold requires to expand and thrive.

Chlorox labelmold illustration

It is best to not give mold additional nourishing water when your goal is removing moisture from it’s environment. Bleach is ineffective when it comes to treating mold on fabrics, drywall, insulation, wood and upholstery, because mold hides deep in porous materials and cannot be safely or effectively removed. With these infected materials, it is advisable to dispose of them if at all possible. (Whenever cleaning with bleach, always keep in mind that even diluted it is a really harsh chemical and not very safe even mixed in low concentrations.) The remediation pros who deal with mold every day use products specially formulated to kill mold and remove its stains – not bleach.

Myth 2:  Only black colored mold is dangerous.

Wrong-o! Fact is, when any color of mold is found indoors where people live, it is potentially bad. Black is just a color. Mold types and various colors -blue, greys, orange, pink, white, etc. signal the presence of excess moisture in an area inside your home. Many different color molds release toxic gases called mycotoxins and spores that can sensitize or trigger health problems in already sensitive people. Typical responses to molds include allergy symptoms, like eye and skin irritation, stuffy nose or shortness of breath. It is rare that only one type or color of mold appears. Colonies of molds of various species can happily coexist in the same space. Some may be black, but aggregations of various species can randomly germinate and populate damp material such as wall board.

Tanko Mold Kitchen

Myth 3:  I will never be able to sell my house if mold is detected.

The opposite is true: Realtors sold many thousands of homes last year where mold turned up during a property inspection prior to closing the sale. There should be no shame in finding mold (or other defects) as long as necessary and prudent steps are taken to correct the issue. Treatment and cleaning by certified professional mold remediators is always advised to remove mold. A certified remediator will document the process, and then verify their work. Once your home is ‘mold cleared’ a buyer’s concern is usually resolved. Certification and post testing will show you to be a responsible homeowner who dealt with a common house problem and secured a healthy environment for that next owner.

Myth 4:  If I don’t actually see mildew or moldy spots, it can’t be mold.

The human nose can usually detect the odors of mold, even if the mold can’t be seen. Molds or mildews usually have a musty, dank odor, although the smell varies by species. Some molds smell woody, others have a sour or rancid smell. Any abnormal smells in a home indicate an urgent need to worry and investigate to locate what is propagating the smell. Trace a water leak, condensation or past spill. Seeping water from roofs or groundwater, wet carpet pad, furnace ducts, or damp wall board cavities are frequent culprits. An experienced professional remediator with a moisture meter, trained eyes and nose can be your mold detective.

Myth 5:  If I can’t actually see it, it isn’t there or will go away on its own.

Many hazards in life are invisible.  Mold and its spores or seeds can be found everywhere and hide anywhere. Molds propagate in high moisture, wet or humid surroundings, and can easily hide behind furniture or closed, dark spaces not often checked or cleaned. The most common mold affected areas include attics, basements, or under kitchen appliances such as refrigerators and dishwashers or laundry equipment. Also, musty odor and signs of water or condensation tip you off to possible or likely presence of the mold.

Again, even if you don’t see it, mold can seriously affect your health as it generates toxins and airborne spores. To be confident your home is mold free, you should have a qualified inspector conduct laboratory mold testing if mold is indicated.

Should you or other family members have a fragile immune system or history of asthma, allergies and other respiratory issues, you should take immediate steps to assure your home is completely mold free to protect your family’s health.

If you have questions about the appearance of mold in your home, we’ll gladly do what we can to help you find the correct information and appropriate answers. We don’t charge for an initial discussion.

Please call Floodco, LLC at 406 892-1717.

High Water? High Risk!

Sadly many friends and neighbors in the Flathead are already experiencing ponding or even flooding near their properties and even inside their homes or workplaces. Today, the start of National Flood Safety Awareness Week, seems like a great time to review some ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ of flood safety.

Flood Awareness Week snip

Share this information with other family members and co-workers. Anyone can suddenly find themselves face-to-face with a flooding event, particularly while driving or walking near a stream or river in Montana.

People get electrocuted each year while attempting to pump water from a flooded basement. You should assume that high water equals high risk at home or while traveling. Pause, use careful judgement or get help when water rises! Never risk your life to save ‘stuff’. No property is worth losing one’s life over and belongings can be replaced.

Flathead County Emergency Service officials rank severe flooding at the top of the most likely natural risk scenarios area residents might face during any year.

Each year nationally more deaths will occur due to flooding than from any other severe weather related hazard. The Centers for Disease Control report that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths is due to walking into or near flood waters. Why? The main reason is people underestimate the incredible force and power of water. Many of the deaths occur in automobiles swept downstream. Of these drownings, most are preventable. Still too many people foolishly drive around barriers that warn the road ahead is flooded.

What Can I Do to Avoid Getting Caught is This Situation?

Most flood-related deaths and injuries would be avoided if people who come upon areas covered with water followed this simple advice: Turn Around Don’t Drown®.

Respect the incredible power of water. A mere six inches of swiftly flowing flood water can knock over an adult. It takes only two feet of rushing water to carry away most vehicles. This includes pickups and SUVs. Four wheel drive won’t assist once the vehicle is floated.

If you come to an area that is covered with water, you will not know the depth of the water or the condition of the ground under the water. This is especially true at night, when your vision is more limited.

Play it smart, play it safe. Whether driving or walking, any time you come to a flooded road, Turn Around Don’t Drown®Turn around sign

Follow these safety rules:

  • Monitor the NOAA Weather Radio, or your favorite local news source for vital weather related information.
  • If flooding occurs, get to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding. This includes dips, low spots, canyons, washes etc.
  • Avoid areas already flooded, especially if the water is flowing fast. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams. Turn Around Don’t Drown®
  • Road beds may be washed out under flood waters. NEVER drive through flooded roadways.Turn Around Don’t Drown®
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
  • Always call 911 first should there be threat to personal safety from flowing flood water entering a home or other structure! Again, never risk your life to save personal property. Property, furnishings, ‘stuff’ can be replaced.

After a home flooding event, professionals like those on the staff at Floodco, LLC can give you advice and fast response dealing with your water damage issues.

We invite you to tell us of an experience with high water or flooding. Please write your comments here. We believe everyone can learn something from shared experiences!

Be a Force of Nature!

Flash Flood

National Flood Safety Awareness Week is next week: March 16-22, 2014. Both NOAA and FEMA will be highlighting the importance of preparing for a flood before it strikes and teach the important actions you need to take when faced with a flooding situation.

Turn around sign

Turn Around Don’t Drown. Last year, 85 people lost their lives to freshwater flooding. More than half of those fatalities were a result of people driving into flood waters. On average, there are 89 fatalities and $8.3 billion in property damages due to freshwater flooding annually.

Be a Force of Nature. Know your risks and potential exposure to flooding, take action. Be an example where you live. Following these simple steps year round will help keep you and your loved ones safe when hazardous weather strikes. Keep a close eye on your local and neighborhood forecast, create a disaster supplies kit, and alert others via texts and social media when a flood threat or other hazardous weather threat exists!

                Click for:   Flood Safety Information

Be a Force of Nature! http://www.nws.noaa.gov/com/weatherreadynation/force.html.

force_of-Nature_icon

TIPS TO MAKE WOOD FLOORS LAST

floors

We’ve responded to a number of frozen pipe floods this season where wood floors were involved. A single flood event can destroy a home’s wood floor, but the reality is that most floors suffer ‘Death by a Thousand Cuts’. That is, they are ruined or worn out by improper care or unintended abuse. Pets, kids, snow, grit, harsh cleaning chemicals and plain old water are the ruination of many a wood or laminate floor.

Wood floors of various kinds, species and finishes have become America’s flooring of choice. Whether solid, milled or laminated, native or exotic, wood is downright beautiful and generally sustains healthier indoor air quality than carpeted floors. Because they add so much to a home’s value and comfort, wood floors deserve basic care and pampering. Help your wood floor live to become an heirloom by following these easy, common sense tips.

  • Know your floor type and finish. Follow the manufacturer’s or installer’s care guidelines. Can’t find the manufacturer’s info? Speak to an expert at a flooring store for help. Or call a floor maintenance pro. There are many varieties of floors and finishes. Cleaning chemistry is different from one floor finish to another.
  • Never wax/polish a urethane floor. The majority of hard wood floors installed today have urethane finishes.
  • Sweep regularly. Sweeping will help keep your floor free from greasy dirt, abrasive dusts, and sandy grit that easily scratch and dull its surface. A beater bar vacuum cleaner should never be used on a wood floor as bristles will scratch and scrub off finishes.

Floor sweeping

  • Avoid wet mopping any hardwood or laminate floor. Standing water and soaps can dull the finish, raise the grain, fill cracks with water and quickly damage the floor. Dust mops or vacuums for wood floors are preferred. If you must mop, be sure the mop is barely damp –or better, use a slightly dampened, clean towel or cloth.
  • When using cleaning products, be sure you’re using them only as recommended. Products formulated for tile, linoleum or other hard surface can ruin wood floor finishes. Use only cleaners specifically sold for your type of wood finish.
  • Avoid oil soaps, such as Murphy’s. Oils build up and dull the appearance of your wood floors. Later refinishing is more difficult.
  • Use a buffer only on wax finish floors. Consider owning rather than renting a buffer if your home has a lot of hardwood flooring. To remove staining in wax finished floors, rub stained area gently with fine steel wool then reapply wax.
  • Cleated sports shoes, Yak Traks, even high heels can permanently damage a floor’s finish and the wood below. A ‘slippers and socks only’ policy is a darn good idea in a wood floor home!
  • Use area rugs in high traffic areas like entrances and hallways to prevent tracking dirt, grit, or sand. Leaving all shoes at the door really helps maintain floor surfaces and indoor air quality.
  • Install felt pads on the bottom of all furniture legs so marring and scuffing can’t occur when furniture gets moved in the room.
  • Use water barriers, such as a rug in front of your kitchen sink, boot trays at entrances, or a boot tray under the pet’s water and food bowls to keep errant drips and splashes from landing on a wood floor.
  • UV rays from sunshine pouring through a window can discolor floor finishes (and other furnishings) so consider installing window blinds to shield your flooring investment.
  • Since pets can destroy a hardwood floor, frequent toe nail trimming and litter boxes are advised. The process of house breaking a new puppy may lead to emergency rescues for a wood floor. Consider placing a temporary 12 mil plastic sheeting over floors for a while.
  • Keep the relative humidity level inside the home between 35 and 55 percent all year round.

Buckled Floor

  • Never, ever let your floor get wet or remain wet for any length of time. Should a water spill occur, mop and wipe dry immediately. If it is a lot of water, quickly call Floodco. We know how to effectively remove water and thoroughly dry wood floors. Wood and laminate floors absorb water surprisingly quickly through top surfaces and the unsealed bottom, sides and end cuts causing wood to swell, warp, cup or even buckle. Floodco uses special, patented wood floor drying technology and, if applied soon enough, can save even a totally submerged floor. After too much time passes though, tearing out and replacing ruined flooring may be the only option.

These web resources provide additional guidance to maintaining hardwood floors:

http://woodfloors.org/care-maitenance.aspx

http://www.wikihow.com/Care-for-Hardwood-Floors

http://www.bhg.com/homekeeping/house-cleaning/surface/how-to-clean-hardwood-floors/

Posted by Lloy Griffing    FLOODCO, LLC    406 892-1717