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Mold and Mildew in The Work Place

3/15/2019 (Permalink)

Mold and Mildew...how to know the difference.

The term “mold” is a colloquial term for a group of filamentous fungi that are common on food or wet materials. This includes the green Penicillium species that produces penicillin, and fungi that spoil our bread, fruit, cheese and crops. Most of these are Ascomycetes that produce a lot of spores.

The majority of the molds that grow on damp building materials are found in the soil and are adapted to grow on a wide variety of materials. Outdoors, molds live in the soil, on plants, and on dead or decaying matter. There are thousands of species of mold and they can be any color. Different mold species are adapted to different moisture conditions ranging from very wet to just damp. Many times, mold can be detected by a musty odor. Live spores act like seeds, forming new mold growths (colonies) under the right conditions. All of us are exposed to a variety of fungal spores daily in the air we breathe, both outdoors and indoors.

How mold gets into a house or building

Mold and fungal spores occur naturally outdoors, where fungi are the earth’s most important recyclers. Indoors, mold needs moisture to grow; it becomes a problem only where there is water damage, elevated and prolonged humidity, or dampness. Common sources of excessive indoor moisture that can lead to mold problems include:

  • flooding from surface waters (i.e., overflowing rivers) or from severe storms;
  • roof leaks from damaged or missing roofing materials, ice dams or blocked gutters;
  • storm-driven rain through window frames, exterior walls or door assemblies;
  • leaking pipes, sewer back-ups or overflows;
  • damp basements or crawl spaces due to a high water table or poorly managed rainwater drainage; and
  • condensation on cold surfaces.

How to prevent mold growth

The key to preventing and stopping indoor mold growth is to control excessive moisture and condensation. Keeping susceptible areas in the home clean and dry is critical. In general, mold will not grow indoors without water, dampness or excessive moisture.

Three main factors contribute to condensation of water on building surfaces:

  • Relative Humidity: Condensation occurs when the air is saturated with water and it cannot hold any more moisture. For example, steam generated from bathroom showers or from cooking can fill up the air with moisture, which will then condense into drops of water on cooler surfaces, such as mirrors and windows. Where possible, localized sources of humidity, such as clothes dryers, should be directly vented to the outdoors. To lower indoor humidity during warm, humid weather, air conditioners and/or dehumidifiers should be used. In chronically damp areas such as basements or crawlspaces, it is often recommended that dehumidifiers be used to maintain humidity levels below 60 percent.
  • Temperature: Warm air holds more moisture than cold air. Condensation occurs when warm humid air comes into contact with a cold surface and the moisture condenses into water. This can often be seen on single-pane windows, where water condenses and then runs down, causing the wood frames and sills to rot and the wall under the windows to blister. Condensation can occur on exterior walls, particularly north-facing walls, if they are not properly insulated. Other chronically cold surfaces, such as cold water pipes, should be covered with insulation to help prevent condensation.
  • Poor Ventilation: Indoor humidity can build up if there is not enough ventilation and exchange of indoor and outdoor air. Where there is little or no air movement, such as behind dressers and cabinets, surfaces can remain cooler than surrounding areas, which can lead to increased condensation and mold growth. It is recommended that the area be ventilated and the occupants use exhaust fans (vented to the outdoors) to remove moisture from high-humidity areas, particularly in bathrooms, kitchens and laundry areas. Furniture should be moved slightly away from walls so that air can freely pass behind it. Air should be allowed to circulate between rooms and regularly ventilate to remove humid air. Fans should be used as needed.

Other things that can be done are to clean and repair gutters regularly, make sure the ground slopes down and away from the home’s foundation and keep air conditioner drip pans and drain lines clean. In addition, in air conditioned buildings in hot and humid climates, vinyl wall coverings on the interior sides of exterior walls should not be used, as these materials can trap moisture, resulting in mold growth underneath them.

In the case of floods or leaking pipes, any standing water should be promptly removed and water-damaged materials should either be dried out and cleaned, or removed and replaced. Porous materials that are wet for more than 48 hours are likely to produce mold growth and should be discarded. In instances where the water damage is extensive, it is recommended that professional help, such as a commercial restoration company, be consulted. That is where we can help. Call SERVPRO of St. Augustine with all of your mold concerns.

Mold and Your Health

3/15/2019 (Permalink)

Home and business owners rarely think about mold and/or microbial growth until it affects their health, homes, or businesses.  Mold spores are all around us, everywhere, and found in most every home across the world.  In the right conditions and without the right treatment, mold can quickly grow into a major problem.

When it comes to mold, misinformation is all too common and it can be costly to homeowners' health and property. That's why the experts at SERVPRO of St. Augustine, one of the largest disaster restoration companies in the United States, say it's essential that homeowners know the facts about mold.

As temperatures begin to rise across the country, SERVPRO of St. Augustine is alerting consumers about the most common myths that its network of trained professionals encounters when facing water or mold damage.

The three most commonly reported mold myths are:

  1. False: Bleach or other retail products can kill mold on any surface.

Fact: Most retail products simply discolor mold and are not recommended for use on porous surfaces. In porous and semi- porous materials, such as wood, carpet, ceiling tile or drywall, mold's roots may not come into contact with the cleaning product, meaning it will likely return. This is one reason why experts say removing the mold-affected items is the only way to ensure it is removed from your home.

  1. False: Dead mold can't cause health issues.

 Fact: Mold goes dormant until the conditions are favorable for regrowth. Even dormant mold can release spores, allowing it to reproduce and reappear, particularly if the underlying moisture and ventilation issues have not been resolved. Trained professionals can help you identify potentially dangerous mold and ensure affected areas are properly treated.

  1. False: Mold is the only problem associated with water damage.

Fact: When water is present where it should not be, it can quickly cause a host of problems, including structural and cosmetic damage, as well as promote bacterial and viral growth. In addition, mold can begin to appear within 24-48 hours, depending on the nature of the water intrusion. Calling a reputable disaster restoration professional who is skilled in dealing with water- related damages can help you avoid long-term problems and get life back in order again as quickly as possible.

Myths about Mold

3/15/2019 (Permalink)

There are many myths associated with "black mold" If you have ever been in a damp, musty basement, chances are you were exposed to elevated levels of mold. Many of us have seen that little line of greenish black coating near a bathroom tub or window. In case you haven’t guessed it yet, that’s more than likely mold.

Most everyone these days has heard that exposure to mold is dangerous. We hear news reports every now and then, that toxic black mold is deadly. But just what is toxic black mold?

The term “Toxic Black Mold” has absolutely no scientific validation. It is a term made up by the media. Unfortunately, much like a video that goes viral, the term has resonated with both private companies that use it to exemplify potential dangers, and public officials, who seek to regulate the industry.

The (Centers For Disease Control and Prevention) CDC state that the term “Toxic Mold” is not accurate. While some molds can produce toxins, (specifically mycotoxins; mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by micro fungi that are capable of causing disease and death in humans and other animals) the molds themselves are not toxic or poisonous.

Mold can come in many colors. Black mold is most often associated with the mold species Stachybotrys chartarum (due to its greenish black coloring). Stachybotrys is often referred to as “toxic black mold” by the media. 

If you see mold call SERVPRO of St. Augustine for all your mold and water restoration needs.

What Is Mold Exactly?

3/11/2019 (Permalink)

Mold is word that can scare you but at times can also cure you. SERVPRO takes care of the mold you don't want! Mold is  a group of filamentous fungi that are common on food or wet materials. This includes the green Penicillium species that produces penicillin, and fungi that spoil our bread, fruit, cheese and crops. Most of these are Ascomycetes that produce a lot of spores.

The majority of the molds that grow on damp building materials are found in the soil and are adapted to grow on a wide variety of materials. Outdoors, molds live in the soil, on plants, and on dead or decaying matter. There are thousands of species of mold and they can be any color. Different mold species are adapted to different moisture conditions ranging from very wet to just damp. Many times, mold can be detected by a musty odor. Live spores act like seeds, forming new mold growths (colonies) under the right conditions. All of us are exposed to a variety of fungal spores daily in the air we breathe, both outdoors and indoor. (American Industrial Hygiene Association definition) 

COMMON CAUSES:

  • flooding from storms or hurricanes that bring in outside elements in from outside.
  • roof leaks from water traveling through all the drywall and insulation.
  • leaking pipes, sewer back-ups
  • damp basements or crawl spaces due to a high water table or poorly managed rainwater drainage

Smoke Damage

2/19/2019 (Permalink)

When there is a fire in your home or business it can be a devastating loss. Did you know that even after the fire is out, smoke can still damage other areas of the property? The smoky odor from a fire can make the entire home or business smell horrible and smoke damage, if left untreated, can often exceed fire damage in repair and replacement costs. Fire damage repairs must begin quickly to maximize effectiveness and minimize loss due to smoke damage. 

SERVPRO St. Augustine answers the call and immediately moves into action 24/7. Recognizing the trauma and emotional upset that occupants suffer, we work quickly and considerately to mitigate fire and smoke damage on salvageable property, such as household items, fixtures, metals and other contents. Our state-of-the science techniques and cleaning processes often prevent replacement costs, thereby reducing costs. Fire and smoke damage restoration requires knowledge and skill; our SERVPRO professionals have the expertise to do the job right.

Our trained professionals determine the full extent of fire damage, including the impact of smoke, heat and residues from fire and smoke. We keep home and business owners informed, helping to overcome their loss and restoring hope by explaining what can be saved and how, in a way property owners can understand what is happening, what to expect, and what they can do.

SERVPRO St. Augustine's treatment always includes respectful handling of property as if it was our own. We take extra care and the necessary steps to protect the floor and personal belongings. 

Safety First

2/18/2019 (Permalink)

Having smoke alarms in your home is a number one priority in helping get you out in case of an unexpected fire. Smoke Alarms can save lives when properly installed and maintained, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

In homes, smoke alarms should be in every bedroom and on every level, including the basement. In office and commercial spaces, check your state requirements or contact the local Fire Marshall to help ensure all codes are met.

Test Smoke Alarms monthly using the test button. Smoke alarms without batteries that are wired into the home, need to be replaced every ten years, regardless of if they seem to still be working. Other types of alarms need their batteries replaced once a year, and the unit itself replaced every ten years. If the alarm chirps "low battery", take the proper steps to replace the unit or batteries immediately. Don't put it off, you may forget.

In larger commercial facilities, hard wired or wireless smoke detectors offer benefits like, not needing to be tested as often, and activating in the entire building, even if the smoke is in just one area.

If you need help installing a smoke detector or alarm contact your local fire department, a licensed electrician, or the American Red Cross.

What Do We Do Next ?

2/15/2019 (Permalink)

Florida is a State that can have a strong thunderstorm or a deadly hurricane and it is important to know what to do when a disaster strikes to prevent further damages and complications. Fires, Mold infestations, and Floods from broken pipes, overflows or heavy storms – all such disasters must be dealt with in a timely manner. If not handled immediately you could experience on or more of these issues:

  • If water-damaged structures and contents are not dried out quickly and correctly, potential health risks can develop. Mold can begin to grow within the first 24 to 48 hours after the flood.
  • Excessive water can cause: rusting in metals, corrosion in electronic components, cracking, splitting or warping of furniture items, color bleeding or transfer in fabrics, furniture stains and secondary damage to upholstery, drapery, clothing, wallpaper, photos and papers.
  • Fire or smoke damaged properties can also experience irreversible damage, regardless of the size of the fire. Soot residue is highly acidic and can pit or corrode the metal in doorknobs, plumbing fixtures, light fixtures, etc. It can also etch glass in windows, mirrors and cabinets, causing them to look soiled and cloudy. Moreover, plastics, appliances, fabrics and vinyl windows can become discolored.
  • The safety and security of your home can be compromised. Windows and doors may become weak and function improperly, wet materials may collapse and electrical installations and components can be a health hazard when they come in contact with water. Slips and falls are also potential dangers.

If you’re not sure how to act after experiencing water, fire or mold problems in your home or business, contact SERVPRO of St. Augustine !

Kitchen Fire in St. Augustine

2/8/2019 (Permalink)

When there is a fire in your home or business it can be a devastating loss. Did you know that even after the fire is out, smoke can still damage other areas of the property? The smoky odor from a fire can make the entire home or business smell horrible and smoke damage, if left untreated, can often exceed fire damage in repair and replacement costs. Fire damage repairs must begin quickly to maximize effectiveness and minimize loss due to smoke damage. 

SERVPRO answers the call and immediately moves into action 24/7. Recognizing the trauma and emotional upset that occupants suffer, we work quickly and considerately to mitigate fire and smoke damage on salvageable property, such as household items, fixtures, metals and other contents. Our state-of-the science techniques and cleaning processes often prevent replacement costs, thereby reducing costs. Fire and smoke damage restoration requires knowledge and skill; our SERVPRO professionals have the expertise to do the job right.

Our trained professionals determine the full extent of fire damage, including the impact of smoke, heat and residues from fire and smoke. We keep home and business owners informed, helping to overcome their loss and restoring hope by explaining what can be saved and how, in a way property owners can understand what is happening, what to expect, and what they can do.

SERVPRO of St. Augustine's treatment always includes respectful handling of property as if it was our own. We take extra care and the necessary steps to protect the floor and personal belongings. SERVPRO St. Augustine uses state-of-the-science techniques and cleaning solutions that can dramatically increase the likelihood of saving property without needing to replace it.

Our Equipment is State of The Art

2/8/2019 (Permalink)

SERVPRO knows the biggest difference we can make is in our equipment. It is measurable and reduces the loss on a claim report. The right tools do make a big difference, but it also helps when the SERVPRO of St. Augustine's trained professionals are on the job fast with the right knowledge to properly dry and save your assets.

It starts with Psychrometrics, Which is the study of air and its properties. The properties of air include temperature, humidity, vapor pressure, and dew point.  

We can measure these through:

  • Moisture meters are used to determine the actual moisture in the contents of the materials that may be wet
  • Moisture sensors are able to detect moisture in carpets, walls, and baseboards
  • Thermohygrometers measure both the temperature and relative humidity. 

Once all of this data is collected, the SERVPRO of St. Augustine Tech will be able to determine  the humidity, dew point, and vapor pressure. That will enhance the direction and equipment used to start the drying process.

Getting Dried Out

12/21/2018 (Permalink)

After water intrusion changes your life the next step is to get dry. Getting dry is our number one goal. After a flood and water damage getting dried out is a number one priority to minimize dangerous after effects. Did you know that there is a science behind the drying process?

Having the knowledge of physics metrics is essential to restoring a water damaged structure to its preloss condition. While your initial reaction may be to run for the towels and grab a few fans. SERVPRO of St. Augustine Professionals are trained in the science of drying and follow strict industry approved standards. If your business suffers from water damage, our Jacksonville SERVPRO Professionals will:

Inspect the building to detect every component that is wet, to help prevent secondary damage from happening.

Measure how much moisture is in the wet materials and monitor whether the materials are drying properly.

Speed up mother nature by using professional drying equipment. A wet building will always seek equilibrium an try to dry naturally. When materials are wet moisture will naturally move to drier air. The problem is nature takes too long and secondary damage, like mold can occur while you are waiting for your professional building to dry. We use state of the art monitoring equipment and a proven drying process to speed up the drying time in your business.