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Mold and Mold Remediation?

Mold is a fungus that grows best in warm, damp or humid conditions.  Some common indoor molds are: Cladosporium, Penicillium, Alternaria and Aspergillus.  For some people molds can cause respiratory problems, allergy symptoms, skin irritations and even fevers resulting from infections.  Because awareness about the effects of mold has increased the need for mold remediation has also increased.

Mold assessment and mold remediation are terms that the professionals at Flood and Fire Restoration use in occupational health: mold assessment is identifying the location and extent of the mold hazard in a structure, and mold remediation is the process of removal and/or cleanup of mold from an indoor environment.  The affected environment must remain contained until the mold remediation process is completed.

If you suspect you have a mold problem the CDC recommends using a professional if at all possible, especially for mold remediation in excess of 10 feet.  Flood and Fire Restoration is certified in mold remediation.  Often a visual inspection is all that is needed to determine if mold is present.  Mold may also be identified by musty, damp odors.   Specific testing to determine what mold is present is not necessary. 

There are several pieces of equipment used to document and identify mold.  Moisture meters measure the moisture in an area, humidity gauges measures humidity.  A borescope is a small camera attached to a lead line to see inside walls.  An infrared camera can help identify higher concentrations of moisture or sources of moisture.  And a digital camera documents any evidence.  All these tools are used by the professionals at Flood and Fire Restoration for mold remediation.

Once the growth is identified as mold the process of fungus elimination, or mold remediation, can begin.  All steps to ensure an effective clean-up will take place.  As a general rule killing the mold with a biocide is not enough as the proteins in dead mold can survive and continue to cause symptoms in humans.  So safely removing all materials contaminated is essential.

After removing the mold and infected materials, the next step is stopping the moisture source.   A small fungus problem may be addressed with sunlight, ventilation, household cleansers, dehumidifiers and building materials.  Proper mold remediation requires a biocide and removal of all affected materials including drywall and fabric restoration.  Larger problems may include ductwork and drywall removal and replacement.

There are four identified levels of mold remediation with varying cleaning processes and worker safety requirements.   Each level is increasingly more intense.  Level I is less than ten feet square and any homeowner should be able to handle the mold remediation with gloves.  Level II requires respiratory protection and HEPA vacuum.  This is for areas up to 30 feet.  Level III and Level IV are for any mold remediation jobs over 30 feet.  Professional, certified mold remediation by a company like Flood and Fire Restoration is needed.

If you suspect a mold issue, better to trust a professional like Flood and Fire Restoration for complete clean-up, than to have a reoccurring problem that puts your family at risk for health issues.

How a Plumber and FFR Can Fix Your Sewage Backup Problem

Sewage back-up through neglect or natural causes requires professional help.  There are many issues to deal with and a plumber may not be fully qualified to assess the extent of your sewage & water damage problem.  When a sewage backup occurs there are many micro-organisms that can cause sickness in anyone residing in the home, including your pets. 

So when dealing with a sewage back-up problem follow these suggested guidelines:

  • Evacuate your family and pets from the home
  • If possible turn off electricity and water to prevent more damage.
  • Stay clear of the residence until it is deemed safe by the team working hard to get you back in your home.
  • Call for a professional’s help!  Call Flood and Fire Restoration at (954) 224-6266

Any plumbing professional will tell you that waste water and raw sewage can potentially carry bacteria, parasites and viruses.  If exposed a homeowner may experience a range of symptoms to include , but not limited to, diarrhea and infections that can last several weeks.  It is best to let Flood and Fire Restoration deal with the cleanup.  Before exiting the premise remove any valuables not affected by the water problem.  All porous materials should be removed.  If you have a back-up do not flush toilets.  Be sure to wear rubber gloves when handling anything that is exposed to sewage and wash hands immediately afterwards.  If you need a reputable plumber FFR can recommend several that will that can stop the leak.

Because of Florida’s high humidity special care is needed when drying out a residence after a sewage back-up.  If not completely dried and properly disinfected bacteria may remain and spread continuing to be a health risk.  Once the water is removed and the home has been cleaned and disinfected any restoration can begin.  Plumbers do not usually perform these tasks.

The professionals at Flood and Fire Restoration will work with reputable plumbers to quickly and properly repair your property and get everything back to normal.

The Hard Facts about Hard Water Damage

Hard water shortens the life of your water-using appliances, pipes, and plumbing fixtures (like faucets), increasing the chances of having devastating water damage to your home. Because you can’t see the damaging effects of hard water until a leak or flood occurs, the key is taking the proper steps to prevent the damage caused by hard water.

Hard Water for Dummies

Here in south Florida, the water is extremely hard, meaning it has one of the highest concentrations in the country of the dissolved minerals calcium, magnesium, and manganese and lets not forget other chemicals used in treating the water supplied by the processing plant! As soon as untreated hard water runs through your pipes, the calcium crystallizes. The crystals adhere to one another and to pipe and appliance surfaces, immediately producing damaging limescale buildups. This is especially true where there is heat. Limescale is highly conducive to rust, which leads to corrosion, which leads to devastating water damage. Limescale buildups not only reduce the efficiency of your water-using appliances but, worse, damage them and your pipes, severely reduce their longevity, and put you at risk for severe water damage from a compromised appliance or pipe fitting.

       Limescale buildup in pipes and valves, especially where hot water runs or collects, causes pipes and valves to rust, corrode, clog, and leak.

       Limescale buildup in plumbing fixtures like faucets, causes them to calcify and leak.

       Limescale buildup in the hoses of washing machines causes the hoses to leak.

       Limescale buildup in hot water heaters causes them to rust and leak.

Inherent in all of these problems is the potential for devastating water damage to your home.

An Ounce of Prevention

Hot water heaters can be one of the most damaging appliances in your home. Some hot water heaters that last up to 25 years in another locale will last only a couple of years in Pompano Beach or Ft. Lauderdale.

A tell-tale sign of a failing hot water heater is a puddle of water underneath the hot water heater, indicating a slow leak, or rusted or corroded fittings on the top of the heater. Because water heaters are under pressure, a small or slow leak can quickly flood your home.

Luckily, there are a few ways you can increase the longevity of your water heater, along with your other water-using appliances and your pipes, and thereby prevent water damage from a leaking hot water heater or other water-using appliance.

       Install a water-softening unit on your plumbing system to treat hard water. This can drastically extend the life of your hot water heater, your pipes, and your other water-using appliances. Water softeners remove calcium and magnesium ions from the water, thus removing the potential for limescale buildups.

       Install an expansion tank on your hot water heater.

       Install a PRV (pressure regulating valve), especially if you have very high water pressure, above 90 PSI. High water pressure can cause your hot water heater to fail prematurely.

       Flush (drain) your hot water heater annually, which helps prevent sediment buildup.

       If your hot water heater is installed in a closet or attic instead of in a basement or utility room, install a pan with a threaded valve, made especially for a water heater, so that you can route the water to an outside drain.

       Install a water-detection system on the hot water heater, which automatically shuts off the appliance when the sensor detects moisture where there should be none. Many of these sensors sound an alarm and can be connected to home alarm and automation systems.

       Install a whole-house water detection system, which shuts off the water supply to any water-using appliance when the sensor detects moisture where there should be none.

       Turn off your water heater and its water supply during extended absences.

       Turn off the main water supply during extended absences

If you do become a victim of the ravages of hard water, call on the professional experts at Flood & Fire Restoration to restore your home and assist you in preventing future damage.

What You Don’t Know about Laminate Flooring

People are drawn to laminate flooring for several reasons:

  • It costs are about 50% less than hardwood flooring because of it's composition.
  • It easier to clean than hardwood.
  • It is easier to install than hardwood.
  • It is more durable, resisting many minor scratches, routine wear and tear, and exposure to sun better than hardwood does. 

However, in the end, you might end up paying a great deal more for your laminate floor than you would have paid for a hardwood or tile floor.

Hidden Dangers of Laminate Flooring

If you opt for laminate flooring, we recommend you avoid putting it in areas subject to high moisture and flooding, such as a bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, or finished-basement area. If you install laminate flooring in a high-moisture area and it is subsequently damaged by water, many manufacturers will not honor the warranty.

  • Moisture is the enemy of the high-density fiberboard core of laminate flooring. Laminate flooring will buckle and warp when it is exposed to high-moisture areas or standing pools of water.
  • The durable surface coating manufacturers put on laminate flooring, which gives the flooring its ability to resist scratches and dents, resists only light amounts of moisture.
  • If laminate flooring is exposed to high moisture or flooding, the flooring will break down and expand. Because laminate flooring cannot be dried, repaired or refinished, it will have to be replaced, unlike hardwood, which can be properly dried, sanded, and refinished. Laminate flooring simply will not tolerate standing pools of water, and once exposed, it buckles and warps. It can never be repaired. It must be replaced.
  • Even small amounts of moisture – a spilled drink, a pet’s “accident,” wet feet – can seep between the individual pieces of the floor and create moisture problems that you cannot see until the moisture has damaged the floor.
  • Unlike the underlayment used for certian types of tile installation and hardwood flooring, a foam pad is the standard underlayment used between laminate flooring and wood subflooring, and this underlayment does not have a moisture barrier. Even if you use an underlayment with a moisture barrier, hidden moisture can get trapped in this foam pad, hastening the destruction of the flooring and also causing damage to the subflooring and walls of your home.
  • Many homes in Florida are built on concrete slabs, and concrete can typically retain high moisture content, which can cause laminate flooring to buckle and warp even when the best plastic vapor barrier is used. And if the concrete is below grade, the chance of moisture buildup in the concrete is much greater.
  • Moisture from humidity in your home, which you cannot see, can cause laminate flooring to buckle and warp. Unless you have properly acclimated laminate flooring (allowed it to stand in its environment for several days before installation) to the humidity in your home, the floor will respond to the humidity by expanding and then buckling and warping. Remember: you can’t repair laminate flooring. You will have to replace this damaged flooring. 
  • In extremely humid environments laminate flooring is much more likely to show signs of problems response to this humidity and subsequently get infested with mold between the flooring and underlayment. 

Bottom line: if your home is susceptible to moisture, you should not install laminate floors.

Leave Water Removal to the Experts

Recently, a gentleman hired Flood & Fire Restoration, Inc. to clean up a mold problem that developed after the syphon popped out of the bucket into which he was draining his 50-gallon fish tank. The whole aquarium promptly drained itself onto his newly re-carpeted master bedroom. The trouble is, he tried to clean up the water himself, and, thinking he had succeeded, didn’t call us until he suspected a mold problem a year later. By then, he not only had a mold issue but also structural damage to the framing of his house, subflooring, drywall, and baseboards, all caused by insufficient water removal. And in an intensely humid environment like Deerfield Beach, where our client lives, these problems are many-times escalated. On top of repairing structural water damage, our client had to replace his carpet and moldy padding only a year after he had installed them brand-new. All of this damage could have been avoided had he called a [professional water-extraction company] as soon as the flood happened.

Mistake #1 is pretty obvious. Don’t put a 50-gallon container of water in a carpeted room.
Mistake #2 was attempting to remove the water and dry the building materials himself. He used a general carpet cleaner to extract the water from the carpet and then rented a fan from Home Depot to dry out the carpet, pad, and subflooring. What our client didn’t know is that carpet pads are like sponges. They can hold many times their weight in water and require professional water-extraction and drying techniques; otherwise, you almost certainly will have to replace the pad because any lingering moisture will cause it to deteriorate and grow mold.

  • You cannot remove water from carpet padding with carpet-cleaning wands. They remove water only from the carpet itself. 
  • You cannot see hidden areas penetrated by flood water
  • You may not be able to tell when or if the building materials are completely dry. Even a slightly damp subfloor or carpet creates a perfect environment for mold.
  • Incorrect or insufficient drying of carpeting, padding, and subflooring causes carpet to delaminate or separate from its backing, causing the carpet to buckle and lose fibers.
  • Incorrect or insufficient drying can compromise the frame components of your home or business.

Our expert water-extraction technicians know these things and much more. If you experience a flood in your home or business, our trained professionals will do the following:

  • Guarantee, in almost all cases, a response time of 60 minutes.
  • Use high-powered, deep extraction tools to remove all the water from carpet AND the padding.
  • Deodorize carpet and padding.
  • Use high-tech equipment to thoroughly inspect your home for hidden water leakage and damage.
  • Professionally and quickly dry building materials like carpet and padding BEFORE mold has a chance to grow.
  • Professionally and quickly dry and dehumidify the building structure BEFORE mold has a chance to grow.
  • Recognize and safely remove any building materials that cannot be salvaged.

You have enough stress to deal with during even a minor flood. Leave the clean-up to our highly trained professionals.

 

Do-It-Yourself Mold Removal: How Effective Is It?

Mold Image

Most people who try to remove mold themselves use chlorine bleach, vinegar, or similar disinfectants to get rid of household mold. However, these chemicals are not always adequate mold-remover tools and appear to work only on the surface. Bleach is made up primarily of water, so it can actually help mold thrive. Additionally, these household products typically will not penetrate into wood to fungal rot and do not address the issue of spores that may have aerosolized (become airborne) in your home. When used incorrectly, they can produce toxic fumes that can make you sick and, in some cases, can be deadly because mixing some chemicals produces a lethal toxin.

Ever notice that, when you use a popular mold-removal disinfectant in your bathroom, you have to keep cleaning the same mold spot off the bathtub tile every week? That’s because all bleach does is remove the discoloration mold produces. It does not remove the microscopic plant that will return and grow in the same place. Professional mold-remediation services like us use industry-specific antimicrobials formulated to destroy the mold at its many growth phases and not just “bleach” the discoloration of the mold.

Did you know that you can’t always see mold? When you can, there is usually more of it hiding behind wallpaper and paneling, on the backsides of carpet and carpet padding, in the HVAC system, on top of ceiling panels, and in drywall. A common misconception is that you can smell mold. Sometimes you can, but not always. Another common misconception is that once you find and repair the water problem that created the humid, moist habitat in which mold thrives and then clean up the mold, the problem is solved. Not necessarily. In fact, most likely, you have uncovered only the tip of the iceberg. Mold releases spores that travel through the air in your home and find all kinds of new, nicely hidden places to grow.

So, let’s say you’ve had a water problem and notice visible mold and decide to tackle the job yourself. You get out your wet vac and rent some equipment from Home Depot to dry out the area. Most wet vacs are not built to handle heavy extraction, and you will burn out the motor. Secondly, in addition to other types of secondary damages you may cause, you risk contaminating the wet vac, which will require detailed cleaning to prevent contaminating other areas later.

If you decide to dig around for hidden mold on your own, guess what? When you rip down that wall paper or remove those ceiling tiles, you inadvertently release a plethora of mold spores. And, chances are, you were not wearing the right protective gear when you released those spores and slathered bleach all over the infected area, and now you can add medical bills, lost wages, and a growing mold problem to the mounting cost of that bargain-basement do-it-yourself remedy.

As soon as you suspect mold, do what the EPA recommends: call a professional mold-remediating service like us. Our professionals are trained to follow the protocols required and use the appropriate antimicrobials and equipment to remove mold without cross-contaminating the rest of your home’s environment, to remove existing mold spores, to find and remove hidden mold, and to safely clean or remove damaged building material. There simply is no substitute for professionals trained in mold remediation, who use specialized, expensive equipment, effective and safe chemicals, and innovative techniques to extract water and permanently remove mold and mold spores. Flood & Fire Restoration Inc. has the training, equipment, and expertise to restore your home to a clean and safe environment.