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how to identify asbestos

How to Identify Asbestos in Your Home and Other Obvious Signs

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Do you have any major home repair projects coming up? Are you 100% sure that your home is free of all toxins?

Almost 250,000 homes across Canada have some asbestos in their tiles, plumbing, or insulation. If your home was built prior to 1986, you’re at high risk for asbestos in the home.

If you’re wondering how to identify asbestos, this article’s for you. We’ll give you the straight scoop on asbestos in the home and help you get started with a local asbestos removal company.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a combination of six naturally-occurring minerals. It has been in use for more than 100 years. It resists heat and has been used in thousands of products including roofing material, hair dryers, and brake pads.

The reason it was used for so long is that it’s resistant to heat and extremely strong and durable. In the last few decades, however, researchers noticed that tiny particles of asbestos break off when it gets moved or damaged.

Those tiny particles float through the air and become lodged in people’s lungs, causing serious illnesses like asbestosis and mesothelioma. In fact, asbestos exposure is the only way that a person can get mesothelioma, an uncommon form of lung cancer.

Signs of Asbestos in Homes

If your home was built before 1986, there’s a good chance that you’ve got asbestos somewhere in your home. The good news is that asbestos doesn’t become dangerous until you disturb it.

If your insulation is in good shape, you don’t have to worry about microscopic particles. However, you should take the time to get a professional evaluation. It can be hard to tell if you’ve got asbestos without an outside lab test.

Potential sources of asbestos include heating ducts that have a distinctive white tape on them, boiler insulation materials, “acoustic” tiles on your ceiling, and asbestos-filled concrete or cement siding.

There is also some cause for concern if your floor tiles measure exactly nine inches by nine inches. Of course, not every floor tile of this size contains asbestos, but it’s still worth checking out if your tiles are that size and in bad shape.

Other potential locations of asbestos in homes include a “popcorn” ceiling, attic insulation that contains vermiculite, and floor mastic.

Again, you don’t have to worry about asbestos removal if your home is in good shape. You may want to have it removed to ensure it won’t be a problem.

If you’re thinking of starting a home improvement project, it’s probably best to wait for the lab results.

How to Identify Asbestos Poisoning

If you’ve been exposed to asbestos for years, you do have a risk of asbestos poisoning. Asbestosis is a serious condition that you might not realize you have. The problem is that it can seem like mold poisoning.

Symptoms of asbestosis include shortness of breath, a persistent cough, and a feeling of constriction in your chest. You may also notice that your fingers have become wider at the tips, a phenomenon known as “clubbing.”

People who work near asbestos are at a higher risk for asbestosis and mesothelioma, but your home could still be making you sick. If you worked in construction, on a ship, or as an asbestos removal technician, you have a higher chance for serious illness.

If you have asbestos insulation in poor condition that’s close to your furnace, there’s a good chance that it’s airborne. Your first step is to figure out whether your home has asbestos in it. If you have symptoms of asbestos poisoning, you should immediately see a doctor.

Is There a Certification for Asbestos Removal?

When it’s time to find an asbestos removal specialist, you should make sure they’re certified. There is a certification process for asbestos removal and certain steps that contractors need to follow.

Before you get started with removal, your assessment company should provide you with a detailed, written record of the asbestos in your home. They should definitely test all suspected materials within your home.

You should use a different removal company than your assessment company. This step will make sure you’re only getting the removal services that you need.

Also, make sure that your removal company is accredited, bonded, and insured. You should ask for local references and client testimonials. If they can’t provide references, it’s time to find another contractor.

When the contractor is doing work in your home, it’s vital that they seal off the area they’re working on. The last thing you want is for airborne asbestos to contaminate the rest of your home.

They should seal off all wall vents, wall outlets, and windows. Make sure that children and pets are also removed from the area.

Home-based asbestos is not as common as asbestos in commercial buildings, but it’s still important that your removal company has a good reputation.

Asbestos that’s in good condition doesn’t need to be removed. In fact, disturbing it could kick up the airborne particles that cause disease.

Find a Local Asbestos Removal Company

In general, you should get your home’s air quality tested at least once per year. You could have dust, mold, or other toxins contaminating your indoor air.

If you are wondering how to identify asbestos in your office or retail store, leave it to the professionals. They’ll perform laboratory tests and give you a blueprint for asbestos removal, just like your home.

We’ve been serving the greater Toronto area for more than 29 years. We offer indoor air quality testing, mold remediation, and asbestos removal.

All of our mold technicians are certified, and we’re also certified for asbestos removal. If your property was built before 1986, you have a much higher chance of having asbestos materials like on drywall compound, flooring,and insulation.

It’s important to invest in asbestos removal because it can take years before you see symptoms. The sooner we can get your home back to normal, the better you’ll feel.

We offer asbestos assessments, so give us a call or send us an email online. We’ll gladly come out and evaluate your home’s condition right away.

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Why Indoor Air Quality is So Important

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 4.3 million people die every year from indoor air pollution.

Nearly 34% die from stroke, 26% from heart disease, 22% from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 12% from pneumonia, and 6% from lung cancer.

Although when we think of pollution, we tend to imagine smoke-filled skies and car exhaust, there is also the hidden danger of indoor air pollution.

Indoor air quality is more important than you think. Want to learn more? Read on to learn why indoor air quality is important and ways to improve your home air quality.

What Causes Indoor Air Pollution?

Indoor air pollution occurs when particles and gases are present in indoor living areas. There are many different causes of poor indoor air quality. Read on to learn about some of the most common pollutants.

Cigarette Smoke

Secondhand smoke is a serious contributor to indoor air pollution.

Cigarette smoke has thousands of toxic chemicals such as ammonia, carbon monoxide, cyanide, and lead. People who don’t smoke breathe in the same hazardous chemicals as smokers do.

According to WHO, 3,000 people die every year from lung cancer due to indoor air pollution caused by secondhand smoke. Compare this to the 100 lung cancer deaths every year caused from outdoor air pollution.

Asbestos

Asbestos is a group of silicate minerals that was used in construction material. In Canada, a variety of products used asbestos such as building insulation, industrial heating systems, floor tiles, and even car brake pads.

Canada was the top producer and exporter of chrysotile asbestos in the world.

However, when asbestos fibers become disturbed, such as during construction or remodeling, microscopic fibers can get into the lungs and result in a type of deadly cancer called mesothelioma.

In fact, because of the high rate of asbestos production, mesothelioma rates in Canada are one of the highest in the world. About 2.1 out of 100,000 Canadians become diagnosed with mesothelioma every year.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas. It can come from sources such as gas stoves, automobile exhaust, and leaking furnaces.

At low and moderate amounts, carbon monoxide results in fatigue, problems with vision, and reduced brain function. At higher levels, this toxic gas results in headaches, dizziness, loss of consciousness, and death.

Biological Pollutants

Biological pollutants are microbes in the air such as mold, dust, bacteria, and viruses. These pollutants come from many different sources. Viruses travel from person to person. Mold grows from moisture.

Dust comes from normal human activity. Pollen and pet dander comes from your pets and plants. All these pollutants are particles in the air and are present in your indoor air.

Why is Indoor Air Quality Important?

According to the EPA, research indicates that indoor air quality is worse than outdoor air quality.

Improving indoor air quality is important because of the associated health dangers of indoor air pollution. For example, secondhand smoke causes similar health issues that smoking does such as bronchitis, pneumonia, and lung cancer.

Read on to see the most serious problems that poor indoor air quality contributes to.

Serious Diseases

Indoor air pollution exposure nearly doubles the risk of pneumonia in children. In fact, indoor air pollution causes 45% of all childhood pneumonia deaths. Poor air quality contributes to 28% of pneumonia deaths in adults.

Other serious diseases from indoor air pollution include stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), ischaemic heart disease, and lung cancer.

Asthma

Indoor air pollution can make asthma symptoms worse. Research reveals that individuals with moderate to severe asthma had a 40% higher chance of suffering from an asthma episode on summer days with high pollution than on summer days with normal pollution levels.

Allergies

If you have allergies, biological contaminants such as mold and pet dander can cause allergic reactions. Mold can even cause irritation of the eyes and skin.

What Can You Do to Improve Indoor Air Quality?

Fortunately, there are things you can do to improve indoor air quality and reduce the risks of indoor air pollution. Here are some steps you can take.

Don’t Allow Smoking in Your Home

One of the top ways you can drastically reduce indoor air pollution is to keep your home smoke-free.

If you smoke, you should quit, or at least don’t smoke inside your home. For guests who smoke, insist that they stay outside while smoking.

Check Your Home for Asbestos

You should have your house checked for asbestos. If your home was built before 1986, there is a high chance it may have asbestos.

If there is asbestos present in your home, you should have it removed by professionals only as these fibers can be dangerous when disturbed.

Keep Humidity at the Right Level

According to the EPA, you should keep your humidity levels at home between 30% to 50%. You can use moisture meters to check levels. This can help prevent mold.

Other tips for mold prevention include using ventilation in areas like the bathroom and kitchen. You should also check your home for leaky pipes or faucets.

Keep Your Home Clean

Regularly vacuum and dust your home to keep away dust, pet dander, and other contaminants.

You should vacuum carpeted areas at least twice a week with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter. If possible, consider installing hardwood or any other non-carpet flooring throughout your home.

You should also wash your linens and beddings regularly. Another tip is to have a clutter-free home. Clutter attracts dust and allergens.

Keep Your Windows Open

When possible, keep your windows open to let in fresh air. During warmer months, turn on the ceiling fans to circulate the air. When cooking, use fans and proper ventilation.

Have Your Indoor Air Quality Tested

To know for sure what pollutants are lurking in your home, you should have your indoor air quality tested.

If you know what contaminants are in the air, you can take the steps to remove them and create a healthy indoor environment for your home.

Have questions or concerns about your indoor air quality? Contact us to learn more.

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mold prevention

10 Mold Prevention Tips Every Home Owner Should Know

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As many homeowners will tell you, mold prevention is a key part of keeping your home in decent shape.

Why is mold such an issue? For starters, mold can grow anywhere: on food, clothing, carpet, paper, and so on. It often grows in places you can’t see, such as above ceiling tiles and the backside of drywall.

If undetected, mold produces irritants and allergens that may cause various health ailments. Plus, removing mold is often a costly affair. The best way to deal with mold is to prevent it from becoming a problem.

Want to know more about preventing mold in the house? Here are 10 tips should provide all the help you need.

1. Identify Problem Areas

Though you can’t completely mold-proof your home, you can make it more mold-resistant.

This involves doing an audit of your home. Are there any persistent leaks in the house? Have you experienced basement flooding recently?

In some cases, you might only need to rip up a carpet in a damp basement to prevent mold from growing. Other times, you may need to turn to waterproofing. No matter what the problem is, address it as soon as possible.

2. Improve Home Circulation

The more temperatures drop, the less moisture the air is able to hold. If you don’t have good airflow in your house, that extra moisture could become a problem. Sometimes, it may cause mold to appear on your walls, floors, and windows.

How can you improve your home’s circulation? Well, letting some fresh air in would be a good first step. Start by opening doors between your rooms and moving some furniture away from walls.

3. Dry Wet Areas Immediately

If you deal with wet areas right away, there won’t be time for mold to grow.

This includes tackling water accumulation from a leaky pipe or seepage after heavy rain within 24 to 48 hours. In case of a flood, take out any carpets and furniture that you can’t dry completely.

This also goes for everyday occurrences. By leaving wet clothes in the washing machine, you’re inviting mold into your home. Instead, hang them to dry in an area with decent air circulation.

4. Direct Water Away From Foundation

Are you dealing with crawl space or basement seepage? Most of the time, this means that some water is collecting in the ground around your home. If so, your number one priority should be to slope the water away from the house.

To begin with, don’t put your plants too close to the foundation. Every time you’re watering them, some water could escape toward your home. If you’re using a sprinkler to water your lawn, don’t point it too close to the foundation.

5. Monitor Indoor Humidity

As you may know, humidity control plays a big part in preventing mold.

According to the EPA, you should keep your indoor humidity levels between 30 and 60 percent. You can measure humidity with moisture meters, which are available in most hardware stores.

Not sure what to focus on? You can identify excessive humidity by condensation on pipes, walls, and windows. If you notice any condensation, dry the surface and start looking for the source of moisture.

6. Check Your Plants

Though plants help keep your indoor air clean, they’re also susceptible to mold growth. Why is that? Simple: the moist soil can serve as an ideal breeding ground for mold spores.

That said, there’s no need to get rid of your leafy friends. Adding some Taheebo tea to your houseplant water is a great way to hinder mold growth. Even in rainforests, the oil of this fascinating tree can withstand fungi.

7. Prevent Basement Condensation

Have you noticed a musty smell in your basement recently? That could be an indicator of moisture build-up on the floor and the walls.

Want to know how to prevent mold in the basement? It all comes down to stopping further condensation. You can do that by installing a dehumidifier or a foundation drain.

If you’re dealing with excessive moisture intrusion, hire a contractor to waterproof the area. This should be your last resort, but try not to put off the call for too long.

8. Get Mold-Resistant Products

Are you renovating your home or building a new one? If so, consider using mold-resistant products.

For example, did you know that traditional drywall contains a gypsum core and four plies of paper? By comparison, mold-resistant drywall is paperless. Instead, the core is protected by fiberglass, which makes it water-resistant.

As you can imagine, this type of drywall is useful in areas prone to wetness. Kitchens, bathrooms, basements, and laundry rooms all fit the bill. Mold-resistant gypsum boards are also a decent alternative to traditional drywall.

9. Clean Your Gutters and Downspouts

If your roof gutters are full of debris, the water won’t be able to flow through them. The solution is to clean your gutters on a regular basis. Also, watch out for stains on the ceiling after a storm — this is a solid indicator of leaks.

Speaking of storms, make sure your downspouts are ready for them. In order for rainwater to flow away from the foundation, the downspouts must be graded properly. If they’re not, go ahead and extend them.

10. Use Proper Ventilation

Sometimes, even the simplest household tasks can encourage mold growth.

This is why your high-moisture areas (kitchen, bathroom, etc.) must have proper ventilation. Any appliances that produce moisture should vent to the outside. Opening a window when washing or cooking is also a good idea.

If you live in a humid climate, you may have to use an AC unit or dehumidifier. Of course, keep in mind that these units can produce moisture themselves. To prevent that, clean them according to manufacturer’s instructions.

More on Mold Prevention

As you can see, mold prevention is not a simple task. Still, detecting problems before they occur is preferable to dealing with them later. These 10 tips we’ve outlined above will help you do just that.

Is your mold problem getting out of control? Don’t panic just yet — we can help you out! Contact us right here, and we’ll get back to you.

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air quality testing

5 Reasons Why You Should Do Periodic Air Quality Testing

Posted by | Home Air Quality | No Comments

There’s endless information about outdoor air pollution, but what about the air in our lounges and kitchens?

Since we spend plenty of time indoors, the quality of the air we breathe while inside has become a significant concern. From spacious houses to cozy apartments, having clean, healthy air inside our rooms can improve our overall health and wellbeing.

But how do you know if you have clean air indoors? Well, in many cases, you need advanced air quality testing technology, such as VOC testing devices and carbon monoxide detectors.

Whether you do it on your own or use a professional air quality testing service, testing the air can help you make the best decisions for your home.

In this piece, we’ll discuss the importance of indoor air quality, how it’s measured, and five reasons to test your indoor air quality.

Why is the Quality of Indoor Air Important?

Indoor air pollutants may cause a wide variety of problems ranging from instant ones like eye and nose irritation to long-term medical conditions like heart disease and cancer.

There are obvious benefits to having clean indoor air. After all, if you aren’t breathing in huge amounts of pet dander or dust, you’re unlikely to suffer from coughing or respiratory problems like COPD and asthma.

But not all air pollutants are as noticeable as dust. Some have no smell and are completely invisible. Some pollutants like asbestos or lead may have been in your house for ages. This makes it even harder to detect and remove them.

Measuring Air Quality

Now that you know why it’s essential to have a clean environment indoors, you can take smart steps to improve the air inside your house. However, you can’t get rid of the contaminants unless you know what they are. This means you must do air quality testing.

When you want to test your indoor air for various pollutants, you’ve got two options. You can test the air yourself or hire a professional.

What Are the Reasons to do Indoor Air Quality Testing?

The quality of the air in your home is vital for your health as well as comfort. Certain air pollutants may have long-term effects on your health.

Here are five main pollutants that every homeowner should know before performing an air quality test in their home.

  • Carbon monoxide
  • Allergies and Asthma
  • Mold
  • Radon
  • VOCs

Carbon Monoxide Gas

Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the biggest issues many of us face at home. From 2010 to 2015, 2, 244 people died due to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. You might be inhaling this toxic gas if you’ve got a faulty gas line, blocked fireplace vent, or damaged water heater.

Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, so installing carbon monoxide alarms near fuel-burning appliances and bedrooms is the best way to uncover it.

Carbon monoxide is life-threatening because it stops oxygen from getting to the vital organs. Other symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, dizziness, and nausea. At worst, you will die.

That’s why it’s critical to have an expert conduct an air quality test in your home.

VOCs

After a simple paint project or remodel, it’s necessary to conduct a test for VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

Volatile organic compounds are released by building materials, aerosol cans, and paint products. They’re mostly found indoors and are a major contributor to indoor air pollution.

If you’ve got frequent throat, nose, or eye irritation in your household, testing the VOC levels in your air can be important in finding a solution.

Although air quality testing for many VOCs may be unreliable because of the lack of indoor air quality standards to interpret results, it may help detect very dangerous VOCs like formaldehyde. This toxin is found in fabrics, wood, combustion appliances, tobacco smoke, etc.

Radon

Radon is an odorless, invisible, and tasteless gas that may be present in your home. According to EPA, it’s the leading contributor to lung cancer in America.

Radon may be found outdoors and indoors, but it is most often found indoors. It occurs when uranium in the soil breaks down naturally, moving through the ground and up into the air. Buildings then trap radon inside, which is why it is a serious threat to homeowners.

When buying a house, you should always have an expert conduct a radon test. If they find above average radon levels, they can help you neutralize the problem.

Allergies and Asthma

If you or your loved ones suffer from asthma or allergies, air quality testing can help you know what to do to ease the symptoms of both conditions.

Indoor air irritants and allergens play a significant role in the intensity of an asthma attack. A residential indoor air quality testing can find out if there’s dust, pet dander, or pollen in the air.

Pet dander, dust, and mold are a significant trigger for people with allergies or asthma. Even if you own no pet, it’s still advisable to test the air and find out what could have been in your home before or if there’s a creature bringing it in.

Mold and Mildew

Apart from chemical pollutants, there are all kinds of biological pollutants to worry about, such as mold, fungus, mildew, and even viruses and bacteria.

These vicious microorganisms thrive in humid, warm air. That means you must be extra careful about reducing the humidity and taking care of any water leaks in basements and bathrooms.

Mold can cause various symptoms such as respiratory conditions (especially for those with breathing problems or asthma), as well as skin and eye irritation.

Unlike other air pollutants, mold can be detected by the eye, although some situations may require an air quality test for mold.

The Bottom Line

We all want to breathe clean, healthy air at home and not the contaminated air outside. An air quality testing will help to uncover the dangerous pollutants in your home.

To fix the quality of air in your home, be sure to talk to the specialists at CleanFirst Restoration. Contact us to set up an appointment.

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asbestos

Asbestos: Facts You Should Know About This Dangerous Substance

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You might think that asbestos exposure was more of an issue decades ago, before it was known how harmful it is to our health. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Currently, 125 million people worldwide are exposed to asbestos at their job, and millions more exposed daily.

It’s estimated that 50% of occupation-related deaths are caused by asbestos.

We’re almost positive that you’ve heard of asbestos before, but do you know exactly what it is? Or what it can do to our bodies if we’re exposed?

Since asbestos is found in many different products and involved in many occupations, it’s important to understand the serious health risks associated with it. Keep reading to learn what asbestos is, and what you can do to avoid exposure.

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos isn’t just one thing. It refers to a combination of 6 mineral components that combine to form fiber bundles. These bundles have been, and still are, used in a number of industrial applications.

Where Is Asbestos Used?

Since asbestos is resistant to heat, chemicals, fire, and other harsh elements, it’s often used in places where these things are common. This includes:

  • Building/construction
  • Insulation
  • Roofing
  • Shipbuilding
  • Automotive industry
  • Plastics
  • Tiling/ceilings

These are by no means all of the places where asbestos is used. But from just these few examples, you can see how asbestos can essentially be found anywhere and permeates many aspects of our society.

While many governments now ban the use of asbestos in buildings and other applications, older buildings, cars, and products still contain asbestos.

You Can Still Be Exposed to Asbestos

Like we just said, you can still be exposed to asbestos on a day to day basis. It’s not rare, either. It’s estimated that around 240,000 Canadian homes could still contain asbestos.

Even though new homes and buildings aren’t being made with asbestos, the risk of exposure is still high.

What Can Asbestos Exposure Lead To?

For all this talk about exposure, we haven’t really gone over the dangers of asbestos. The fact is that asbestos is a carcinogen, meaning it can (and often does) cause cancer.

There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos. Most carcinogens have a certain level that’s OK to be exposed to. For example, formaldehyde is a carcinogen, but it won’t cause cancer when you’re exposed at low levels.

Asbestos is always dangerous no matter how much or how long you’re exposed to it. In Canada, asbestos exposure is the number one cause of occupational death.

And while Canada does have laws regulating and banning asbestos for current day use, that doesn’t erase the fact that it’s already in many buildings and millions of Canadians have been exposed for years.

Most of the damage from asbestos will be in your lungs. When you’re exposed to asbestos, you inhale it and it goes directly to your lungs. It’s there where it will cause the most damage.

Asbestosis

Even if you don’t develop a serious illness from asbestos, you can experience a number of negative health effects. Some symptoms you could experience include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dry cough
  • Chest tightness
  • Appetite loss

If you’re exposed for a long time, you can eventually develop asbestosis. Usually, you won’t notice these and other more serious symptoms until 20-30 years after you were exposed.

If you develop asbestosis, you can also experience deformities in your nails along with enlarged fingertips.

Diagnosing asbestosis will involve a few steps taken by your doctor. First, they’ll listen to your breathing to see if they identify any abnormal breath sounds that would indicate lung damage.

They’ll want to take a chest x-ray to examine your lungs as well. They might also want to perform tests to evaluate your lung function.

In the long term, this can cause chronic lung issues, and it can lead to fatal complications. You can’t cute asbestosis, but you can take steps to make breathing easier with inhalers or oxygen masks.

Cancer Risk

Perhaps the biggest risk of asbestos exposure is the huge risk of developing cancer.

Symptoms of lung cancer or other types of cancer caused by asbestos exposure (most often mesothelioma) won’t develop until years after the initial exposure. It can take 15-40 years after initial exposure to develop an illness.

The general symptoms to look out for include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistant cough
  • Chest pain/tightness/discomfort
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Weight loss/loss of appetite
  • Chronic lung infections

These symptoms mirror those for asbestosis, so you’ll need to get a doctor’s diagnosis to be sure.

Unfortunately, these symptoms don’t arise until the cancer reaches a later stage. The best way to avoid this is to have regular screening by your doctor, especially if you know that you’ve been exposed to asbestos.

How to Protect Yourself

After all of this scary information, you might be freaked out. The good news is that there are ways to protect yourself from asbestos exposure, even after you’ve been exposed.

If you know that you’ve been exposed to asbestos, especially in large doses over a long period of time, then you should have regular screenings and check-ups with your doctor. This way, you can catch any disease or cancer early, which will give you a better chance at recovery.

If you believe your home contains asbestos, there are ways to remove it. Home and buildings built before 1986 have a high chance of having asbestos. You should look into asbestos removal to make sure your home is safe to live in.

Important Asbestos Facts: Wrapping Up

Asbestos is a dangerous carcinogen that can cause serious illness. While you won’t see or develop symptoms right away, exposure is extremely serious and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Hopefully this article has helped you understand the dangers of asbestos a little more so you can take steps to avoid exposure and make your home safe.

If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. We can answer any questions you have about your home, asbestos removal, and more.

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causes of mold

10 Common Causes of Mold in Homes

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One of the most common forms of mold found in many homes is known as Alternaria.

You may know exactly what it looks like, typically characterized by its velvet-like texture and dark green and brown coloring.

Alternaria mold tends to grow where ever dampness occurs, and throughout the average home, this could be a number of obvious places.

It’s a hyper-allergenic mold, meaning long-term exposure can lead to respiration problems in the upper respiratory tract, nose, and mouth.

So if you’re wondering what the exact causes of mold could be in your home, we outline it all in this blog.

Common Causes of Mold in Your Home

Mold can grow just about anywhere but is most commonly found in areas such as bathrooms, kitchens, basements, cabinets, and near pipes or ducting areas. It only needs a few elements to grow and proliferate throughout your home, the key element being moisture.

Mold behind drywall may be one of the most common household problem areas as drywall, wood, and cotton are ideal food sources.

Ceiling mold is also highly common due to a lack of ventilation and accumulation of moisture.

If the temperature is right, there is a moisture source and enough oxygen, you can be sure mold will begin to grow and spread.

Here are 10 of the most common causes of mold in your home:

1. Persistent Humidity

If you live in an area where humidity is consistently high, you may have a problem with mold. This is only natural due to the high moisture content in the air.

This type of mold will most likely grow on walls, ceilings, in dark closets, under the kitchen sink, etc.

Mold caused by humidity is especially common if you live near the ocean or a large body of water and could also be worsened by a lack of ventilation.

Moisture build-up in the air indoors could massively increase mold growth, so make sure to ventilate your home well, especially in the warmer months.

2. Leaking Pipes in the Home

This is one of the most common causes of mold behind drywall and in under-sink cupboards.

Leaking pipes can also contribute to ceiling and wall mold, as a leak could be coming from the geyser or piping in your roof. If you notice a build-up of mold in any of these areas, the natural choice would be to check your piping for leaks!

3. A Leaking Roof

A roof which is partially damaged due to wear and tear or severe weather conditions can quickly lead to mold build-up in your home.

Over time, a slow leak can build-up a huge backlog of moisture in your ceiling or attic. This can eventually proliferate into mold that grows on walls and ceiling boards.

Make sure to check your attic or the tiles and facades of your ceiling for damage and potential leaks to avoid a mold problem in your home.

4. A Build-Up of Condensation

During the winter time, some homes may experience a build-up of condensation on cold surfaces due to the fluctuations in temperature.

Some of these cold surfaces include metal piping, concrete surfaces, floor tiles and even brick walls.

If you notice that condensation build-up is a real problem in your home, make sure to ventilate each room properly in order to remove the condensation.

Otherwise, these condensation pockets are prime real estate for mold spores and the proliferation of mold growth.

5. Poor Ventilation in Your Home

As we mentioned before, a poorly ventilated home is a magnet for the growth of mold and the spreading of mold spores.

The stagnant air throughout your home is one of the best environments for the growth of mold. So make sure to rid your home of it on a daily basis!

Steam created by appliances, cooking, and bathing creates humidity in your home, leaving surfaces damp and sticky.

Remove the moisture from your home and you’ll remove the likelihood of mold growth.

6. Wet and Damp Clothing

Picture this: you’ve just done a load of washing, taken it out of the washing machine, and set it aside to hang up later on. But you forget and the damp clothing sits for a full day, if not more.

Believe it or not, mold only needs 24 hours to grow and proliferate.

During the warm months of spring and summer, wet or damp clothing lying around your house can greatly contribute to an existing mold problem. So remember to hand your washing ASAP!

7. Home Flooding

Unfortunately, one of the realities you’ll face after you experience the drama of home flooding is mold growth.

Your home will typically take days, or even weeks, before it’s completely dried out after a flood, so this makes the ideal environment for mold to grow.

What’s more concerning is that this environment can also lead to the growth of dangerous, toxic mold known as Stachybotrys chartarum.

You will need to bring in a mold cleaning expert after your home has completely dried out for mold testing and a thorough inspection.

8. A Damp Basement

Due to the fact that they are below ground level, it’s only natural that a basement is exposed to higher levels of moisture.

They are also more likely to contain greater levels of humidity due to a lack of ventilation or poor circulation of air.

As such, this combination of both dampness and increased humidity will lead to the growth of mold.

Water leaks from your home above may also accumulate in your basement. This is why you should keep your basement well-maintained in order to prevent a dangerous mold outbreak.

9. Foundation Dampness

If the slope of your yard has been landscaped in such a way that water fails to drain away from your house, you could have a mold problem on your hands.

Rainwater and garden moisture can slowly trickle and pool around the foundations of your home, contributing to the growth of mold on walls.

A landscaping expert can help modify your yard and its slope. Alternatively, drains can be dug out to direct water away from your foundations.

10. A Leaking Air-Conditioning System

Most homes throughout the country feature an air conditioning system, which can bring with it the growth of mold known as Mucor.

This is an allergenic type of mold which grows quickly into thick, white patches below leaking air conditioning systems or due to condensation build-up.

Make sure to check your air conditioner piping, ducting and filters to ensure there are no leaks or a build-up of moisture.

Looking for Mold Removal Specialists?

With over 25 years of experience in the industry of mold removal, we are proud to say we are one of the best in the business in Toronto and GTA.

If you’re looking for a free mold inspection, information on the causes of mold or mold removal tips, we’re happy to help!

Get in touch with Clean First for unrivaled experience, professionalism and mold removal expertise.

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7 Signs You’re Dealing With a Mold Problem

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What IS that smell?

If you’ve ever walked into your home and been smacked in the face with a musty or damp odor, there’s a strong chance you have a mold problem somewhere.

It can be tricky knowing how to tell if you have mold because you can’t always see it. Mold can hide behind or between walls, in hidden corners of the basement, or behind furniture that lives close to a wall.

Identifying a mold problem is important, though, as left untreated it will cause serious damage to walls, wooden frames, and your interiors. It can also seriously affect your health, such as causing chronic headaches or chest problems.

If you’re not sure whether you have a mold growth problem, answer these seven questions to decide if you need a mold removal expert to help.

How to Tell if You Have Mold: 7 Warning Signs

These seven warning signs will help you determine whether you have a mold problem. Ask yourself these questions to work out if you need a mold expert to clean your home.

1. Are Your Allergies Playing Up?

Do you have a chronic stuffy nose? Is your skin breaking out in rashes?

Allergy symptoms caused by mold can range from mild to severe and can appear even when there’s no visible mold. The spores from some mold types can be airborne, which will affect your breathing, irritate your eyes, or give you a ‘stuffed up’ feeling as your sinuses become inflamed.

If your symptoms are alleviated with an over-the-counter anti-histamine it’s likely that there is something in your environment causing an allergic reaction.

There are other factors to consider, such as a dust allergy, but if you’ve never had this problem before in your home it could be an indicator that you have a mold problem.

2. Is There a Strange Musty Smell?

A musty smell isn’t always a sign that you have mold but it can be a good indicator that there is something you need to investigate.

If there is a strange smell that’s started to become more apparent in a frequently used room, it could be mold.

If your attic or basement has a strong musty smell you should get it checked out, too. These rooms are prone to hiding mold problems that go undiscovered for years.

Remember to check your attic and basement at regular intervals through the year for signs of mold. Left unchecked, you may find it spreads without your knowledge until the problem becomes much more expensive!

3. Can You See Grime or Slime?

This might sound obvious, but if you can see mold then you’ve got mold. However, it comes in different forms and what you might think is just age-old dirt or a mild case of mildew could indicate the start of a more serious mold problem.

If you’re looking how to tell if you have mold, check the corners of rooms and your windowsills for dark spots. There could even be a slight shine to a wall as some mold types feel a bit ‘slimy’ to the touch.

4. Has Your Home Ever Flooded?

If you’ve ever had a flood in your home you’re at risk of mold. Even if you thought the floor and walls of your basement or ground floor had fully dried out, mold can be slow-growing over time and thrive behind damp plasterboard or wallpaper.

If your home has flooded in the past and you’re now experiencing symptoms of mold, check your house insurance policy. You may be able to have full mold cleaning and repair covered by your insurance, so it’s always worth checking.

5. Do You Get Condensation on Your Windows?

Condensation is a sign of too much water in the internal atmosphere of a house. You’ll notice it most on cold days but you can get condensation at any time of year.

The most common place to have condensation on the windows is the bathroom. To prevent mold from growing, make sure your bathroom is always well ventilated, especially after taking a shower or bath.

You need to install a way for the steam to easily escape and encourage air flow to dry the atmosphere as fast as possible.

Too much moisture in the air creates a damp environment over time, and this leads to mold growth.

6. Have You Had a Water Leak?

If you’ve ever had a water leak, whether caused by old plumbing or frozen pipes, there’s a chance that you have a mold problem.

If you haven’t had a water leak in your home that you’re aware of, but there is a damp and musty smell around areas of water in particular – such as washers, kitchen sinks, and bathrooms – it’s best to investigate for mold.

7. Do You Have a Chronic Cough or Headaches?

Mold spores can cause a chronic cough in people who otherwise show no symptoms of allergic reactions. A chronic cough should always be checked out by your physician, but if they can’t find a good reason for your problem the issue could be mold.

Black mold is a toxic form of fungus that can also give you headaches, dizziness, or affect your behavior such as shortening your attention span and focus. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms and your doctor has ruled out more obvious causes, it’s essential to have a mold expert investigate as soon as possible.

What to Do if You Have Signs of Mold

If you can see mildew or mold on your walls and it appears to only be a small amount (less than a few feet square) try a bleach solution. There are many over-the-counter cleaning products designed to tackle common mold problems in the home, and any of these will do the trick on new mold.

If your mold has taken over, or you’re still experiencing symptoms of mold despite no visible evidence left following your bleach treatment, it’s time to call the experts.

Mold removal experts are trained in the safest and most effective ways to remove mold from your home for good, which will minimize the possibility of the problem returning.

Remember: once you’ve treated your home for mold, put steps in place to prevent recurrence. Make sure areas are well ventilated and consider using a dehumidifier if your home is in a particularly damp environment such as next to a lake.

Need Help? Ask a Mold Expert

If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of the warning signs on how to tell if you have mold, it’s time to ask a mold expert to help.

An expert will have access to the best mold-cleaning solutions suitable for your property so you can get your mold problem under control in no time. Contact us today to find out how we can help you get your property clean and mold-free.

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When and Why You Should Get Asbestos Removal for Your Home

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Did you know that asbestos used to have the nickname “magic mineral?” After all, in its pure form, it can resist intense heat, chemicals couldn’t corrode it, and it’s a powerful insulator.

Impressive, right?

It turns out though, that its nickname should be “black magic mineral.” Because all these seemingly amazing properties come with a price:

The lives of about 2.1 individuals in every 100,000 Canadians every year. Mesothelioma, a type of asbestos-caused lung cancer, claimed the lives of 515 people in the country in 2010 alone.

These numbers show how crucial prompt asbestos removal is if the material is present in your home.

But how do you determine its presence? And why should you get professionals to remove it from your home?

Don’t worry, we’ll answer all these questions (and more). So, keep reading to learn more about asbestos abatement!

A Quick Overview of Canada’s Gold

Canada has a rich asbestos mining history. With large quantities found throughout Quebec, British Columbia, and Newfoundland, it’s no wonder why the Great White North considered it as “Canada’s Gold”.

It’s also for this reason that its use lasted up until the 1990s. Homes in the country built before the 90s feature many asbestos-containing materials, from shingles to insulation. Even other household products, like furnishings such as carpeting, also used asbestos.

The thing is, even when studies on the dangers of asbestos came out, the country continued mining the mineral and manufacturing products containing it. It was only in 2012 that the last asbestos mine in Canada closed.

After causing 1,900 cases of lung cancer and another 430 of mesothelioma in 2011, the government plans to have a complete asbestos ban in 2018.

More on the Dangers of Asbestos, According to Experts

The fact that health and medical expert organizations say that asbestos is a carcinogen should be enough for you to remove it from your home.

Carcinogens are substances that cause cancer (or supports its growth and development). According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), asbestos is one such substance. The organization classifies it as a human carcinogenic.

Aside from the above-mentioned mesothelioma, this mineral has also shown to cause cancers of the lung. It affects even the larynx and the ovaries.

Two other organizations from Canada’s neighboring nation the U.S. also categorize what was once known as The Great White North’s Gold as carcinogenic to people. These include the National Toxicology Program (NTP) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Are You Exposing Yourself to Asbestos?

Everyone will have some sort of asbestos exposure at some point in their life. That’s because the air, water, and soil around us contain it. The good news is that experts say there are only low levels of it.

In other words, you won’t get sick from this exposure. So, the question is, when does it become dangerous?

The life-threatening hazards start when you receive constant exposure to the asbestos fibers. Those who have jobs involving direct contact with the material take the most brunt of its health effects.

That’s why many workers in the construction, electrical, plumbing, welding, and many other industries have succumbed to diseases associated with the mineral.

For average consumers, this may happen if their home has degraded asbestos-containing materials. For instance, walls, ceilings, or floors with asbestos in them has cracked. This may be due to natural wear and tear, but it may also be intentional, such as in the case of a renovation.

Simply put, undisturbed asbestos is safe. Once it breaks or becomes agitated, its fibers will already contaminate the air. This is when it becomes a danger to yourself and your family.

Determining When You Need Professional Asbestos Removal Services

But this banning doesn’t automatically mean your house is free of this human carcinogen. This is why you need to determine you live in a safe home free of this cancer-causing material.

There are ways for you to identify asbestos in your home. For starters, if your home’s construction dates to 1986 (or earlier), then it most likely has asbestos-containing materials. Here are a few other parts of your home that may house this deadly material:

  • Vinyl tile flooring
  • Insulation
  • Vermiculite in the attic or crawlspaces

Also, like molds in the ceiling, some Canadian homes may also have asbestos in this area. If your home features architectural decorations on the plaster ceilings, then beware. There’s a high possibility that these design effects have asbestos fibers in them.

In any case, as soon as you’ve verified you have these materials in your home, the next step is to contact asbestos remediation experts. Keep in mind that while you can look for these materials on your own, it doesn’t mean you can already remove them by yourself.

The Need for Professionals When Removing Asbestos

The steps on how to remove asbestos require specialized equipment and tools. Think masks, fiber containment systems, and personal protective equipment (PPE) just to name a few. Without these devices, you put not only yourself at risk of exposure, but the people around you too.

Although homeowners don’t have the same strict and rigid regulations when it comes to asbestos handling, the possibility of developing cancers is one risk you shouldn’t take. It’s for this reason you should never handle asbestos removal on your own.

Whether you’ve already found asbestos-containing materials in your home or you plan to renovate or remodel one that contains such materials, it’s best you leave the task of removing it to pros. This is the safest, fastest way to eliminate the cancer-causing material from your house.

Ready to Live in a Safe, Asbestos-Free Home?

Prompt and professional asbestos removal services make a huge difference in the safety of your family. Even if the materials containing this mineral are intact, you should still consider getting rid of them. Because in time, they’ll break down and expose you to their life-threatening fibers.

So, as soon as you’ve found asbestos materials in your home, contact us right away.

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Benefits of Mold Removal Services: Why You Shouldn’t DIY

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Do you have mold growing somewhere in your home?

It could potentially present huge health problems for you and your family.

At first, you might only have to deal with a cough, a stuffy nose, and eye irritation caused by mold. But prolonged mold exposure can eventually lead to serious complications that could cause an infection in your lungs.

It’s why it’s incredibly important for you to seek out a company that can provide you with mold removal services right away.

You might be tempted to tackle a mold problem on your own, especially if there’s only a small amount of it. But DIY is definitely not the right solution for mold growth in your home.

Check out some of the benefits of calling on the professionals for help when it comes to getting rid of mold once and for all.

Mold Removal Services Can Locate All the Mold in Your Home

The first thing that a mold removal company will do when you call on them for help is perform a mold inspection.

You might think that you know where the mold is located in your home. For example, you may have spotted it on a bathroom wall or down in a corner of your basement.

But before performing mold removal services, professionals will complete a thorough inspection to ensure that you don’t have mold growing in other places.

The mold on your bathroom wall or in the corner of your basement might just be a sign of mold elsewhere. And unless you’re able to remove all of the mold in your home, it could continue to have detrimental effects on you and your family.

You should make sure a mold inspection gets done to find any other signs of mold in your home.

They Can Remove the Mold Quickly and Clean Your Home

After a mold removal company has gone through the process of inspecting your entire house for mold, they will start mold removal and remediation.

If you only have a small amount of mold in your home, it won’t take the mold removal company very long to get rid of it. They also might not have to force you to leave the home while they treat it.

However, if you have Level II mold (mold covering 10 to 100 square feet of your home) or Level III mold (mold covering more than 100 square feet of your home), you will most likely be asked to leave your home.

Your mold removal company will then get to work as far as getting rid of your mold. Employees will wear protective gear while treating your home with specialized equipment.

After they have removed the mold, they will also work to clean your home for you.

One of the hazards of doing mold removal is that mold spores get sent everywhere in the air. While it’s impossible to eliminate all mold spores from a home, a mold removal company can get rid of most of them and leave your home as clean as it can possibly be as far as mold is concerned.

They Can Stop Mold From Spreading Throughout Your Home

The problem with mold is that, once it starts to grow inside of a home, it can spread very quickly.

This is actually why you shouldn’t ever try to DIY the mold removal process.

You could, in theory, scrape away the existing mold in your home and clean the surfaces it was on. But while doing so, you would likely kick up mold spores and encourage mold growth in other areas of your home.

A company that performs mold removal services can stop this spreading from taking place. They’ll contain the mold spores before using equipment to get rid of just about all of them.

They Can Figure Out What Caused the Mold

In addition to getting rid of mold, mold removal services will also do some digging around to find out what caused the mold to grow in the first place.

There are so many things that can cause mold inside of a home. You might get mold if:

  • You have a leaky plumbing pipe behind a wall or above a ceiling that needs to be fixed
  • You have a leaky roof that is allowing water to find its way into your home
  • You experienced a flood in your basement and didn’t have it cleaned up by professionals
  • You have a home that’s poorly ventilated, thus allowing humidity and condensation to build up in it
  • You have wet clothes or towels that are left out in your home on a regular basis

Once your mold removal company gets to the bottom of your mold problem, you’ll be able to take steps to prevent it from coming back again.

They Can Give Your Home a Clean Bill of Health

Before a mold removal company leaves your home, they should walk through and do a final inspection for mold.

They should also test the air in your home to make sure that you don’t have too many mold spores in it.

Mold spores are just about always in the air, so it’s going to prove to be impossible to rid your home of all of them. But the air quality of your home should be much improved by your mold removal specialists.

When they’re done with your home, they should give you a clean bill of health and tell you your home is safe again. They should also arrange to come back and test your home at some point in the future to ensure the mold problem doesn’t return.

Obtain Mold Removal Services Today

Did you find mold in your attic or another area in your home recently?

Rather than ignoring it, you should call on a company to provide you with mold removal services right away.

The longer you expose yourself to mold, the higher the chances of it making you sick. Mold also isn’t just going to go away on its own. You have to actively fight to remove it from your home with help from professionals.

Read our blog to find out more about the dangers of mold in your home.

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6 Easy Ways to Identify Asbestos in Your Home WITHOUT a Specialist

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1. Flooring asbestos 9×9 vinyl tile9x9 tiles

In renovated homes, you will often not see these as they are sandwiched under layers of wood subfloors and newer flooring tiles. However, in many old homes that are not yet renovated, these 9×9 tiles are exposed and are certain to contain asbestos fibers since most, if not all tiles with this size were manufactured with asbestos containing fibers. Nowadays, most tiles are made in 12×12.

Look under carpets in basement or by lifting a floor vent and inspecting how many subfloors exist and if any contain vinyl.

Most often people will not remove asbestos materials due to cost and encapsulate them my adding additional layers. This is generally not a problem if they are not disturbed.

2. Asbestos fibers on plaster ceilings.

Plaster ceilingsHomes build prior to 1986 can have architectural effects on ceiling. Most often material used on compounds have some asbestos fibers. Whilst it is safe if not disturbed, it is still something you should be aware of.

The above ceiling design is one you should definitely test for asbestos. Never renovate or remove these ceilings without having them tested for asbestos fiber content first.

3. Asbestos on insulation

Pipe Insulation with AsbestosOlder homes commonly used boiler systems that were insulated with asbestos as a heat shield.

While we rarely use this type of heating anymore, you need to be aware that some leftover asbestos containing  insulation on older pipes might still be present. While there is no danger if asbestos insulation is in good condition, it always should be removed by professional asbestos contractors.

4. Vermiculite containing asbestos on attics and crawl spaces

Attic VermiculiteWhile the attic space is not considered a living space, if it contains asbestos fibers on the insulation, it is a very big expense to get rid of.

Make sure the vermiculite is tested for asbestos containing materials. Friable asbestos materials are very dangerous and expensive to remove.

5. Asbestos lining on floor vents

Asbestos on floor ventAsbestos was commonly used as a heat shield in floor vents before 1986. Whilst it is not hazardous unless disturbed, older houses still contain asbestos hidden on the wrap of the floor ventilation.

Unless you disturb it by sanding or trying to remove yourself, it’s not a problem, however the paper is highly made of asbestos fibers up to 93% and disturbance to it can cause issues.

Always check with asbestos abatement professionals.

6. Asbestos materials on vinyl sheet flooring

Vinyl Sheet flooringIf it looks old it probably is, however you must consider if the vinyl sheet flooring contains asbestos fibers if you plan on removing it.

Vinyl sheet goods are embedded with asbestos fibers to make them stronger and fire resistant, that it is why we used asbestos fibers in so many materials. We didn’t know at the time that causes cancer and some many other Health issues. A vinyl sheet flooring that looks like the above has a high chance of asbestos.

Always test for asbestos fibers before removing any older vinyl sheeting.

TIP: if black tar is adhering to the vinyl, it is almost a 100% asbestos containing fiber product.

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