Invisible Dangers of Water Damage in the Basement

Your home is your castle and it’s as comfortable and welcoming as you make it, but it’s also home to unseen dangers that you may not even realize are there. Black mold can grow in the darkest reaches of your basement and can continue to fester for years given the right damp conditions to feed it, like water damage.

And mold is a serious concern, as it poses a major health risk. It’s particularly dangerous to anyone with asthma, allergies, or even something you wouldn’t think could be affected by an external factor like mold, depression. In such instances, mold can send you to the hospital or even cause death.

Where Does Mold Come From?

It’s no secret that mold loves moist places that don’t have much air circulation, and this is something we see frequently as a Red Deer mold removal company. But it doesn’t have to be a wet surface for conditions to be ripe for mold growth. Simply having a room full of humid air is enough to set the stage, which is why water damage in the basement is ideal for mold to strike.

When you add dust or other particulates into the mix, that gives mold the opportunity to start growing and by the time you notice it, there may be enough growth to create a hazard to your health.

However, as with most things, not all mold is dangerous and in minute quantities, mold is typically harmless. There are certain things to look for to avoid the dangers of mold, especially in the basement, where your furnace can send spores through the ducts and all throughout your home with relative ease. That’s why taking care of water damage quickly is important.

How to Detect Mold and What to Do About It

You may not know it, but mold spores are usually quite common in the air or on surfaces throughout your home, but they are in small, harmless quantities. If you begin feeling irritations on your skin for no apparent reason, you are getting sick more often than you used to, or you can’t get rid of sickness, you may have mold growth.

Search the most obvious places first, like inside kitchen and bathroom cabinets, windowsills, and shower curtains for black spots. If you see mold, it’s a relatively easy clean up with water and a little bleach. But not all mold can be seen. In fact, some of the most dangerous molds are not visible and are airborne, and they can go undetected for some time, causing prolonged exposure.

In a water-damaged basement, check every surface touched by the water to see if you can spot anything that doesn’t belong there. You may only smell a musty odor in the area, which is a sure sign of mold growing somewhere. A call to a mold specialist is always recommended following water damage.

Mold is no joke, typically if found small quantities it can handled by you with the use of a good Mold cleaner and sealant. However, if found in large quantities it is best to call a Mold removal specialist.

READ MORE

Places Mold Can Hide and How to Get Rid of It

We all know where mold is most likely to rear its ugly head around a home. The bathroom or behind drywall after even a minor floor or spill are the most common areas. But mold can find its way into some unexpected places too, which makes it very difficult to detect and eliminate.

Here are some of the spots you may not have thought of looking for mold or were afraid of what you might find. Search them out early and often, before a mold outbreak becomes a much larger problem in your home. Hopefully this can prevent a call to a mold removal company in Red Deer.

The Chimney

Even the smallest crevice between bricks can hold just enough moisture from water, dirt, and organic material to create an environment for mold to thrive. When chimney caps are rusted and flashing separates on the roof, rain and snow can enter, giving mold just the opportunity it needs.

Ensure your chimney is in good shape by replacing rusted caps and installing new flashing. A good cleaning by a professional chimney sweep can remove anything that doesn’t belong there and allow you to operate your chimney without worry.

The Refrigerator

In particular, look for spots on your refrigerator seal. If you find mold, that seal should probably be replaced as the doors are not closing up tight. Also, look at the drain pan under the appliance. This is where excess water and food spills go, so it will also be a great hideout for mold if you don’t clean it out.

The Front-Load Washing Machine

As your front-load washer cycles through a wash, water tends to gather behind the door gasket. That, along with the lint from the clothes in the wash creates a cozy place for mold to manifest and multiply.

This is another easy fix. All you have to do is wipe out the water and debris from under the gasket and clean off the door too. If you run a wash with a little bleach and vinegar, you can kill off the mold. Then, when not in use, make sure you leave the door open for air to circulate.

Window Sashes and Seals

You may find what you believe to be dirt or dust just inside your windows, but this may also be mold. Particularly in the winter, when droplets of water form on the glass and run down the window, combined with the dust in the air, mold has a wonderful time in those little areas.

Simply wipe away the moisture and ensure that the seals are functioning properly on your windows. If not, they may need replacing. This might also be a good time to see if you could use new windows if the problem persists or becomes worse.

While mold can hide, it can’t run and it is predictable. It needs moisture and dirt as a food source. Eliminating those from the places you may not think of right away can provide for a mold-free home.

READ MORE

Little Known Sources of Asbestos

When you hear about asbestos, you probably think it’s not a very common substance that is used today. After all, it’s known to exist in older homes because of its fire-resistant properties, but since 1990, that’s no longer a common practice in the construction industry. Although, many developing countries around the world still use asbestos without the same regulations that we have in North America.

But that doesn’t mean asbestos is no longer used at all. There are several ways that asbestos squeezes its way into some of the products and materials that some people use each day.

Very Common Products That Contain Asbestos

From construction materials to everyday items we use around the house, asbestos remains part of the manufacturing process while sticking to the strict regulations on its use. That means, for trace amounts of asbestos in a product, manufactures are still in compliance with current acceptable practices.We keep an eye on these things as a Red Deer asbestos removal company.

These products include things like:

  • Adhesives for roofing sealant, duct tape, glue for flooring, wall panels, ceiling tiles, and fixtures.
  • Duct connectors that put together your HVAC system within your home.
  • Electrical components like sheathing, wire insulation, and cable wrap.
  • Felt for roofing, flooring, and paper mills.
  • Fireproofing materials such as firefighting equipment, specialized paint, and spray-on fireproofing.
  • Gaskets for heat-resistant seals in machine parts and engines, including valves and hoses.
  • Tools, cookware, appliances, vehicles, and notably, brake pads.
  • Insulation from loose fill to pipe wrap to acoustic tiles.
  • Materials that produce protective clothing and upholstery.

Why is Asbestos in So Many Everyday Items We Use?

Asbestos was primarily used to produce fireproof cloth prior to the 1800s, but with the industrial revolution, asbestos became more widely used in a growing number of industries.

The reason for its rise in popularity is due in large part to its durability when it comes to heat resistance, as well as electrical and chemical corrosion.

It is also very easy to work with and manipulate as asbestos can be pulled apart to create a wool-like consistency in a fibrous form. Not to mention, asbestos is extremely abundant globally and easy to extract from the ground.

Before the start of the 20th century, massive asbestos mines were operating around the world to feed the growing demand for this inexpensive material to find uses in construction and insulation products.

This led an even larger production spike during the first and second world wars when shipbuilding and machinery took over until the post-war building boom.

Asbestos Today

While technologies have allowed our society to move past mass asbestos use because of its health risks that can lead to fibromyalgia and even death, the material is still used in small quantities throughout the United States for certain asbestos products. These include brake pads and gaskets. The majority of the developed world has banned the use of asbestos entirely, however. The building construction industry is no longer using asbestos, so while we are not completely free from the health risks of asbestos fibre inhalation, the risks today are quite low.

READ MORE

Potential Dangers of Renovations

When thinking about home renovations, there is always a sense of excitement, anticipation, and enjoyment in planning everything to turn out perfectly. But in some instances, that perfect result can end up being thwarted by dangers lurking behind your walls.

For homes built before 1990, those dangers may include asbestos, which is very troubling if it is disturbed during any renovations.

Why Asbestos?

While 1990 doesn’t seem like all that long ago to most of us, asbestos was commonly used up to that time in home construction. It was cheap, easy to source, and was resistant to heat and fire. That combination made it especially desirable in many products used on construction projects.

But just because you have asbestos in your home, doesn’t in and of itself make it a danger. It’s the act of disturbing the material and breaking it down during the demolition and construction phase of the renovation that can break pieces of the substance apart and allow its fibres into the air. When breathed in, that’s a serious health concern that we talk to customers about frequently when dealing with Red Deer asbestos removal.

The Rising Trend in DIY Home Renovations

With popular television shows that show you how to do a home renovation on your own and those that provide ideas for renovating that might inspire you to take action, you can always find something to watch about home remodeling. Plus, there are countless videos online that offer all kinds of advice, ideas, solutions, and instructions to make it happen in your home. But before you do, think about what you may be running into.

There is a right way and a wrong way to proceed with home renovations, particularly where there is a possibility for asbestos exposure.

Where You Might Find Asbestos

According to the experts, asbestos was used in all kinds of ways during pre-1990 home construction. These include:

  • Pipe insulation
  • Vinyl tile
  • Linoleum
  • Wiring
  • Textured ceilings
  • Spray insulation
  • And more

You may not see it in your older home, and in fact, that should be the case, but that doesn’t mean it can’t cause you harm if it’s disturbed enough to be let loose into the air. So planning must be a priority before taking any action.

What’s So Dangerous About Asbestos?

You can live with asbestos in your home for years and not even realize it. You can touch asbestos in its solid form and it’s not a problem. But when broken down into dust particles that float through the air, asbestos is a major medical hazard that you want to avoid.

Breathing in asbestos particles can cause scarring on the lungs and even mesothelioma, a deadly lung cancer for which there is no cure.

How to Avoid Asbestos Exposure During a Home Renovation

The main thing to do before any demolition takes place is to plan and consult with an expert who can test the home for asbestos. If your home is found to have asbestos, hire a specialized professional who knows how to deal with it safely. That means working your plans around it or removing it entirely.

READ MORE

Can Air Filters Remove Asbestos?

In 2018, the Canadian government issued a ban on the import and export of asbestos and asbestos containing materials (ACMs), as well as the manufacturing of, selling, or trading of products that contain asbestos, with some exceptions including allowing the military and nuclear facilities to still use the material.

 

Despite this victory, many Canadian homes built prior to 1990 still contain ACMs, so it is understandable that many homeowners are concerned. These are the kinds of questions we hear as asbestos removal Red Deer specialists.

 

What is Asbestos and Can Air Filters Remove Asbestos?

 

Asbestos is a naturally occurring, fibrous material that can cause cancer and other diseases, and is found in some building insulation, floor and ceiling tiles, as well as furnaces and heating systems. Asbestos cannot harm you unless it is airborne, so an air filter may remove asbestos if the source has already been properly taken care of.

What Types of Air Filters Can Remove Asbestos?

 

Some of the most common types of air filters are ultraviolet purifiers, activated carbon air purifiers, ionic air purifiers, and HEPA filters. HEPA systems are the only filters known to effectively handle asbestos. HEPA stands for, “High Efficiency Particulate Arresting”, and these types of filters are held to an industry standard to trap 99.97% of all particles 0.3-microns or larger. HEPA filters are able to remove ultra-fine particles like dust, dander, pollen, mold, smoke and asbestos. Asbestos particles can be anywhere between 0.7-90 microns, so the HEPA filter has no problem with them. HEPA filters are so effective that the CDC requires their use in their Guideline for Isolation Precautions for preventing the spread of infectious agents.

 

Will a HEPA Filter Remove All the Asbestos in My House?

 

A HEPA filter can remove almost any particle over 0.3-microns in size, but if the source of the contamination is still in the home, there is only so much a filter can do. The best course of action is to hire a professional asbestos worker to safely remove the source, then use a HEPA filter to remove any remaining particles. You should not try to discard asbestos-contaminated material on your own, as any moving or jostling of the particles will release them into the air you are breathing. The Government of Alberta, in accordance with Occupational Health and Safety codes, requires anyone working in an area with asbestos to take a training program before handling materials, so you certainly shouldn’t try to do this on your own.

 

If you are concerned about asbestos in your home, the best thing to do is to stay away from the area, do not disturb it in any way, and contact a professional asbestos worker to inspect/remove the material. Throughout the process and afterwards, a HEPA air filter will be able to remove any remaining asbestos particles.

READ MORE

What’s the Difference Between Mold and Mildew?

Many people use the term “mold” and “mildew” interchangeably so there is some obvious confusion over the difference between the two. It’s important to understand what each one is before taking action when you believe you have a mold or mildew problem in your home.

There are some subtle differences between mold and mildew, and although they are both fungi that grow in moist conditions, they can be differentiated and treated individually. This will help you decide if you need Red Deer mold removal services.

CleaningHow Can I Tell if I have Mold or Mildew Just By Looking?

Just because they are both in the fungus family, doesn’t mean they will appear or even act the same. If you find white, gray or yellow spots that appear fluffy or like a powder growing on a surface that is located in a warm and moist area of your home, you have mildew.

Conversely, mold appears green or black with a fuzzy or even slimy texture. Mold tends to grow in places that have been exposed to water directly.

Where do Mold and Mildew Typically Grow?

As a fungus, both mold and mildew can grow quickly under warm and wet conditions. They do differ, however, on where they prefer to grow.

Mildew can often be found on surfaces that were once wet and have remained damp. These might include towels, paper, or leather. Within a home, mildew may also be seen on floors, walls, or ceilings in rooms that have high levels of humidity, like kitchens, bathrooms, and basements.

It’s not uncommon for mildew to grow on old fruits or vegetables, but those areas are typically where you’ll find mold. As well, mold can be found both indoors and outdoors on surfaces that have been soaked. Look for mold in the bathroom, on window sills, or after a flood.

Do Mold and Mildew React the Same Way on Surfaces?

In terms of a reaction, to both surfaces and to the people in the area, mold and mildew offer different effects. Mildew will essentially “eat” the food on which it grows but will not harm other surfaces. Plus, inhaling mildew spores may lead to coughing and headaches.

Mold is a much more serious matter. It can destroy anything it touches given enough time. On top of that, mold can cause major health issues, including respiratory and heart problems, joint pain, severe headaches, general fatigue, and depression. So preventing and treating mold quickly is very important.

How Can I Eliminate Mold or Mildew?

Each type of fungus has its own characteristics, so they need to be treated differently. Mildew usually only takes a mildew cleaning solvent and a scrub brush to get rid of it.

Mold is a different matter entirely because of health risks. If you see mold, it’s likely you have a bigger problem than is obvious, so removal is best left to the professionals. Eliminating a small patch of mold can be handled with a bit of bleach in some water when necessary.

Now that you know the difference between mold and mildew, it’s easy to treat.

READ MORE

Can There Be Asbestos in Your Attic?

Almost everyone has and will be exposed to some form of asbestos, but it is those who are exposed to it on a regular basis, either from a working environment or living in a home with asbestos containing materials (ACMs), that are at risk for disease.

 

Asbestos has been classified as a known human carcinogen by at least three different world agencies, including the International Agency for Research on Cancer, so it is wise to determine if you may be at risk. This is one of the common questions we are asked as experts in asbestos removal in Red Deer.

 

Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring minerals made up of thin, needle-like fibers. These fibers have most often been used in building insulation, floor and ceiling tiles, car and truck brake pads as well as industrial furnaces and heating systems. Despite their many uses, the Canadian government recognizes that inhaling asbestos particles can cause cancer and other diseases, so it is important to be aware of potential asbestos-contaminated materials in your home. If you have a particular brand of insulation in your home, you may have asbestos in your attic.

 

How do I Know if There is Asbestos in My Attic?

 

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Zonolite Attic Insulation was widely popular in both the United States and Canada, so much so that the government of Canada offered a grant to anyone that would use Zonolite in their homes. Unfortunately, one of the materials in this product was found to be contaminated with asbestos, it’s called Vermiculite and looks like this….

 

Vermiculite, when expanded, is a light-weight, fire-resistant and odorless material great for many types of products. The Vermiculite that Zonolite Attic Insulation used was taken from a mine in Libby, Montana, but the fact that it was contaminated wasn’t discovered until after 70% of all the Vermiculite in the US was mined from Libby, so a majority of homes built during that time were contaminated, including homes in Canada. Zonolite was estimated to still be in about 300,000 homes across the Canada in 2008.

 

If the insulation in your home looks like the pictures above, it is most likely Vermiculite insulation and highly likely it is contaminated.

 

How Do I Keep My Family Safe From Asbestos-Contaminated Insulation in My Attic?

Asbestos must be airborne for it to be dangerous, so the best thing you can do is to not disturb the insulation in any way. The more you handle it or jostle it through construction or other means, the more particles that are released into the air and the more likely you are to inhale it.

Exposure to asbestos increases your risk of developing lung diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma. If you have Vermiculite insulation in your attic, do not store boxes there, let children play in the area, or try to remove the insulation yourself.

If you plan to conduct renovations on your attic or have any insulation removed, it is best to hire a professional asbestos contractor.

 

For more information on asbestos and relevant health and safety regulations, visit https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/chemical-substances/chemicals-management-plan/initiatives/asbestos.html

READ MORE

Primary Causes of Mold in Buildings

Mold in your home is not only unsightly but it’s also dangerous, particularly for those with existing health problems.

But how can you prevent mold growth in your home before you need mold removal Red Deer services? To answer that, let’s take a look at some of the primary causes of mold in buildings and what to look for if you suspect mold in your living space.

What Causes Mold?

Mold begins to grow quite easily and quickly when there is a moisture buildup within the home. While a flood can be an obvious issue that may result in mold, there are some other, not so obvious problems that can lead you down the same path.

  • Water leaks from outside your home or from your pipes could easily create the right conditions for mold to start growing. These leaks could be from your roof, windows, foundation, or even your plumbing.
  • High indoor humidity may not pool water throughout your home but it can allow mold spores to settle on any surface and grow from there. In most cases, you can identify when it’s too humid in your home by checking the moisture on your windows. That’s why the bathroom is a prime spot for mold, especially if you’ve taken a shower without the fan running or the window open.
  • Insufficient exhaust fans in the kitchen, just like in the bathroom, could lead to mold there too. Imagine a boiling pot of water steaming the kitchen up without the use of the fan.
  • Poor insulation is another culprit for mold growth, particularly in rooms over a garage or other cold space.

What to Look for When Checking for Mold?

Once you know what causes mold, too much moisture where it doesn’t belong, it’s easier to understand what to look for so you can prevent it.

If you find black, brown or green fuzzy spots or patches around your home, that’s a sure sign of a serious problem. This can be a sign that there is not only mold where you find it, but it could also be where you can’t even look, like behind walls and ceilings.

Check to see if your walls feel damp and check your windows for these spots. You may also notice a musty odour. This will tell you that there is mold growth somewhere in the room and you just need to find it.

How Can You Prevent Mold?

In any home, the battle between you and mold is constant, but it is a winnable fight. Start by controlling your temperature and humidity levels with the proper insulation and even a dehumidifier.

Maintaining a home’s structure, from the roof to the caulking and the interior walls, will also help keep mold under control.

Finally, ensure your home is well ventilated by having your roof inspected for the right venting and making good use of your fans in the kitchen and bathrooms.

Mold can start growing before you know it and it spreads quickly. Making sure you understand the causes of mold growth can help with prevention.

READ MORE