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I found mold on my wood floors – what should I do?

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wood floor mold

Wood floors require large amounts of moisture present for several days before mold can grow. After small water damage most people attempt to dry the wood floor and assume all is well; however after a few days discoloration or visible mold will appear and grow on the edges of the flooring.

Mold on wood floors is always worse than what you can see visually. Wood floors retain moisture underneath between flooring, underlay and substrate creating large amounts of humidity and fungal growth. The longer it is undetected, the larger the mold growth on the wood floor.

Do not attempt to remove the mold on the flooring yourself before consulting with a professional. We can detect the extent with simple moisture readings or thermal imaging.

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mold on concrete

I found mold on the concrete of my basement – what should I do?

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Here’s the good news – Mold does not decompose concrete, so in this type of situation black mold is growing on the dust in the concrete. Efflorescence is more likely the culprit. Efflorescence simply stated, is when concrete inside a foundation gets excessive moisture, minerals and calcium deposits form a white powdery substance as it dries (sometimes confused for mold). Mold can and will decompose the minerals and salts and the added dust and humidity will activate further mold growth.

If large amounts are found do call a mold remediation contractor to ensure you do not spread the spores or contaminate other areas while attempting to remove the mold.

However small amounts of mold in the concrete can be removed by you by using a concrete cleaner.

If you’re unsure if it’s efflorescence (white fuzzy powder), see the following image:efflorescence

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Mold on insulation

I found mold on my insulation – What should I do?

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Unless you have paper backed, or wool insulation, mould does not decompose fiberglass insulation.

Most often mould is found on the dust in the insulation, sometimes like the picture above the dark areas are dust caused by thermal bridging (air infiltration) and not mold.

It’s always safe to discard the insulation to prevent the dust to develop fungal growth if moisture develops.

Tip: If the darkness looks fuzzy, slimy or smears when pressed, it is mold and you SHOULD discard it. Large amounts of mold in the insulation require professional remediation and should not be removed without proper precautions to ensure safety

If that sounds like you, call us for a free inspection at 416-791-8020.

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Mold on Drywall

I found mold in the basement – what should I do?

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If you find mold that is less than 10 Sq. Ft, on your basement drywall, this can typically be remedied by yourself without having to call a remediation company. However, it is always best at minimum to consult with a mold specialist, because like the picture above shows, sometimes the small amount of mold visible on the exterior of the drywall is much larger on the inside of the drywall. Without experience and the proper equipment, you cannot make the right decisions on how to proceed.

Example: the amount of mold found in the above image located in the customers’ basement was the initial complaint.

As you can see, the amount of mold found in the basement was much larger (see image below). In fact in this case it extended to the perimeter of entire basement and the moisture was traveling for a long period of time eluding the owners. So always call a mould remediation company to ensure safety.

 

What not to do:

  • Attempt to clean the mold in the drywall by using bleach or vinegar; not only you are feeding the problem but mold will return stronger.
  • Paint over the mold, same reasons as above
  • Not doing anything will compound the problem and allow the mold in the drywall to multiply.
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Grout mold

I found mold in the bathroom – what should I do?

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Mold found on tiles or grout in the bathroom often indicate a more serious mold contamination issue behind the visible area. If the mold is on the caulking, then read this article. If you’re not sure of the difference between grout and caulk, grout is used to fill in the spaces between tiles, whereas caulk is used on the edge of the tiles perpendicular to the tub/floor

Porous grout, missing grout and damaged tiles are all contributors to moisture penetration to the drywall behind. Often large amounts of mold are found behind the drywall and can pose a serious health hazard by attempting to do with yourself without proper equipment and precautions.

Mold found on the ceilings or walls of the bathroom indicate excessive moisture most often due to the lack of ventilation and the rise of interior humidity.

It is always best to contact a mold remediation professional to inspect and test moisture readings and thermal imaging for a proper assessment. Call us for a free inspection at 416-791-8020.

As this is a more serious issue as compared to finding mold on the window or along the caulking, here are things to be mindful of when mold is on the grout:

  • Attempt to remove the mold without using proper precautions. This will not only make it a possible health hazard, but you can easily spread the spores to other areas.
  • Continue to clean the mold making the underline problem worse and more expensive

As always, NOT doing anything will usually lead to increased mold growth and make the issue worse.

If in doubt, call us for a free inspection at 416-791-8020.

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Mold Shower

I found mold in the shower caulking – what should I do?

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I found mold in the shower/bathtub caulking – what should I do?

If mold is visible on the caulking in the shower or bath tub, then that immediately tells us that the wrong type of caulking was used.

Caulking is for baseboards and interior doors – not for bathrooms or kitchens where moisture is present.

Bathrooms and showers will always have moisture due to their nature, and therefore require 100% silicone to be used instead of caulking. Silicone is not organic and therefore is not a food source for mold. Caulking on the other hand is a food source for mold.

Silicone is mold and mildew proof and most manufacturers guarantee it. Here is one product we recommend.

So what is the solution?

We recommend removing the caulking and replacing it with silicone. This is a relatively simple process and we do not recommend hiring a mold removal company to do this. In fact, here is a simple step-by-step guide that will show you how to do this:

What you should not do

  • Paint over it- giving more moisture and food for mold to grow
  • Bleach it- does not kill embedded mold just discolours the surface of it
  • Use vinegar- does not kill just discolour it
  • Not do anything- this is the worst option of them all! Mold will continue to grow and possibly spread to other areas of the bathroom.
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Mold Windows

I found Mold on my windows – what should I do?

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I found Mold on my windows – what should I do?

This is a common question we get. Unless you have wood windows, mold does not grow on vinyl or fiberglass windows. Mold is growing on the dust and fed by moisture. Condensation (sweating) of the windows due to the extreme difference of temperatures (-10°C outside versus +18°C inside), paired with the lack of ventilation and humidity inside is usually the cause of the mold growth on the windows.

To prevent moisture and mold from developing on the windows, you must ensure that:

  1. Your humidity inside the house is below 50% and clean the dust regularly. You can measure the humidity using a hygrometer.
  2. You must ensure that the window is getting enough ventilation from the HVAC registers. Do not completely cover the windows or block the HVAC registers to ensure proper air flow – especially on the very cold days.

How do I remove the mold from the windows?

Since this is a relatively minor issue, you can remove the mold by yourself using a product called Concrobium Mold Control. It is available at many big box chains such as Home Depot and Canadian Tire. Make sure you follow the manufacturer instructions (read the label). Concrobium will leave a residue that does not allow mold to grow and that is the main reason we recommend it versus many other products.

If you have wood windows you must sand the affected areas to completely remove it.

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Indoor-Air-Quality

What are the Health Consequences of Living in a House With Poor Air Quality?

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What are the Health Consequences of Living in a House With Poor Air Quality?

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the air quality inside your home is usually two times to five times worse than it always is outside. Activities including painting, floor removal among other things make the air inside your house more polluted. The reason behind this is because of the off-gassing of the volatile organic compounds that are used in manufacturing paint, adhesives as well as other objects in your home.

Exposure to poor indoor air quality can bring about short term eye infections, throat and nose irritations, headaches dizziness as well as fatigue. It can as well exacerbate the effects of asthma especially in children. Exposure to poor air quality can bring about respiratory conditions, cancer including even cancer.

There are numerous consequences that can affect you and your family if you are living in a house with poor air quality. Among those mentioned above, the following are some additional sources that can lead to poor air quality in your home:

  1. Deteriorating or damaged insulation as well as fireproofing is a good source of asbestos indoors. Asbestos are known to cause cancer. After long periods of inhaling these fibers you are at risk of getting cancer and Mesothelioma- a deadly cancer that affects the thin lining between the lungs and other organ.
  2. Bacteria and viruses are living organisms that can bring about a disease called influenza. Without proper ventilation this bacteria and viruses will be packed in your house traveling through the air and constantly infecting you and your family with common cold.
  3. New construction or remodeling products are a source of fumes as well as dust that can endanger health. Older building materials are also a source of pollutants when exposed to any disturbance of any kind. These dust and fumes can cause allergic reactions as well as asthma.
  4. Carbon monoxide gas is a colorless, odorless but very dangerous gas. This gas has numerous sources that are found within your house including burning fuel, gasoline natural gas, wood or charcoal. Proper ventilation will prevent you from inhaling high doses of CO which can cause Anxiety or depression, confusion, vomiting, impaired vision, sleepiness, Nausea, Disorientation and Death.
  5. Cleaning supplies are essential in protecting our health but pose as health hazards especially in a house with poor or no HVAC system. Some of these chemicals are corrosive and flammable. Aerosol sprays, chlorine bleach, rug and upholstery cleaners are some of the sources of irritants which leads to respiratory conditions as well as house fires in the case of the flammable substances.
  6. Second hand smoke is the main health hazard that leads to more than 41,000 deaths every year. It has damaging health effects in children as well as adults. This pollutant causes lung cancer, respiratory infections and asthma. Poor air conditioning and ventilation can accumulate this pollutant in your house thus posing more challenges for your family.
  7. Mold and dampness is common in every indoor space. Moisture accumulation in your home will nurture growth of molds. Spore from the mold are the common indoor pollutants. Exposure to these spores can trigger allergic reactions as well as asthma attacks. You can as well be affected by lower and upper respiratory problems including irritation of eyes, nose, skin, throat and the lungs.
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Formaldehyde – What is it and how does it affect you?

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formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a colourless gas that is emitted from many household building materials. Lower levels of formaldehyde in indoor air are actually very common. Formaldehyde found at higher levels in air can be detected by a sharp smell. High Levels can cause irritation of the eyes, nose and throat and can worsen asthma symptoms.

Lumber Liquidators was recently caught to have sold laminate flooring with high levels of toxic formaldehyde. Click here to learn more about this.

Dangers of FormaldehydeFormaldehyde health risks

At very high concentrations, formaldehyde can cause cancer of the nasal cavity. It has been linked to this rare type of cancer in industry workers who are regularly exposed to high levels of formaldehyde. The risk of developing cancer from formaldehyde exposure at concentrations found in most Canadian homes is very low.

Long-term exposure to moderate formaldehyde concentrations (at levels lower than those causing irritation) may also be linked to respiratory symptoms and allergic sensitivity, especially in children.

Level of formaldehyde

Low – below 50 μg/m3 (40ppb) No adverse effects should be noticed.

Moderate – above 50 μg/m3 (40ppb) Long-term exposure may result in respiratory symptoms such as coughing and wheezing, and allergic sensitivity, especially in children.

High – above 123 μg/m3 (100 ppb) the risk of irritation or burning sensation in eyes, nose and throat from short-term exposure grows with increasing concentration. There is also an increased likelihood of respiratory symptoms from long-term exposure.

Health Canada has developed an indoor air quality guideline for formaldehyde in residences. The guideline sets recommended maximum formaldehyde levels for two types of exposure:

  • The short-term exposure limit protects against health problems that may arise from exposure to high levels over a short time period (e.g. one hour). This type of exposure could occur, for example, when working with paint or varnish containing formaldehyde.
  • The long-term exposure limit protects against health problems that may be caused by repeated exposure to lower levels of formaldehyde over a long period (days, weeks, months, etc.). Since formaldehyde levels change over time, with occasional peaks and valleys, long-term exposure levels are best measured by sampling indoor air over a longer period (8 hours or more).

To avoid possible eye, nose and throat irritation from short-term exposure, indoor air levels of formaldehyde should be below 123 μg/m3 (100 ppb). This is actually lower than the formaldehyde level that has been shown to cause irritation in scientific studies. The lower value was chosen to be more protective of health, as people may differ in their sensitivity to formaldehyde.

To prevent respiratory problems from long-term exposure, i.e. over days, months or years, indoor air levels should be kept below 50 μg/m3 (or 40 ppb). As formaldehyde levels increase above this level, the risk of having respiratory problems or allergic sensitivity also increases, especially for children.

Formaldehyde levels in the air are usually measured in micrograms (μg) of formaldehyde per metre cubed (m3) of air. A microgram is a very small amount equal to 1 millionth of a gram, while a metre cubed is the amount of air in a box that is 1 metre high by 1 metre long by 1 metre wide. Formaldehyde levels are also sometimes expressed as parts per billion (ppb). For example, a level of 1 ppb of formaldehyde means there is 1 part of formaldehyde in a billion parts of air.

Formaldehyde levels in Canada

Health Canada has measured formaldehyde in a large number of homes in different cities across Canada – Charlottetown, Ottawa, Quebec City, Regina – as part of an ongoing study on the quality of indoor air. All houses had at least some formaldehyde in indoor air. On average, formaldehyde levels measured over a day in Canadian homes were 20-40 μg/m3 (16-32.5 ppb). Daily levels as high as 95 μg/m3 (77 ppb), however, have been recorded.

Formaldehyde levels indoors will depend on the number of formaldehyde sources in the home. Ventilation is also a factor, as fresh air brought in from outdoors will dilute and reduce indoor formaldehyde levels. Higher temperature and humidity will also increase the release of formaldehyde through off-gassing from some products.

How to Reduce Exposure to Formaldehyde

The best way to control formaldehyde in the air is to reduce or eliminate as many sources as possible, and prevent it from getting into the air in the first place.

Some actions you can take to reduce formaldehyde levels in your home include:

  • Don’t allow anyone to smoke inside.
  • Make sure fireplaces and woodstoves are in good working condition to prevent smoke from getting into your living environment. Keep your chimney clean and clear of obstructions.
  • Don’t idle cars or other gas powered equipment in attached garages or near doors or windows. Engine exhaust contains a number of toxic chemicals, including formaldehyde.
  • For some building and household products, there may be no or low formaldehyde options available, ask retailers or manufacturers for details.
  • To keep emissions low from pressed wood furniture or cabinets, purchase items with a plastic laminate or coating on all sides, or seal them yourself when you get them home.
  • Make sure there is plenty of ventilation during major painting or varnishing projects, or when installing wall-to-wall carpets using glues or adhesives.
  • Allow products that contain formaldehyde to “air out” before bringing them into your home.

Formaldehyde concentrations are higher indoors than they are outdoors, so you can significantly decrease indoor formaldehyde levels by letting in dry, fresh air. Also, high relative humidity increases formaldehyde emissions. Therefore, it is recommended to measure your indoor humidity level with a Next link will take you to another Web site hygrometer and keep the humidity at around 50% in the summer, and 30% in the winter. If necessary, you can use a dehumidifier to reduce the relative humidity.

Here is a good video by CBS News: http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/what-to-do-if-you-suspect-formaldehyde-in-your-flooring/

Urea formaldehyde-based foam insulation (UFFI)

Urea formaldehyde-based thermal insulation, which is foamed in place and used to insulate buildings, has been banned in Canada under the Hazardous Products Act (HPA) since December 1980. UFFI was prohibited due to the high levels of formaldehyde that were given off during the installation process, as well as the continued off-gassing of formaldehyde from poorly installed insulation.

The amount of formaldehyde released by UFFI was highest when first installed and decreased over time. As a result, UFFI installed before 1980 would have little effect on indoor formaldehyde levels today. If UFFI gets wet, however, it could begin to break down and may release more formaldehyde. Wet or deteriorating UFFI should be removed by a specialist and the source of the moisture problem should be repaired.

RetrofoamRetroFoam

RetroFoam, a foamed in-place thermal insulation product, was installed in between 800 and 900 homes in Ontario between 2007 and early 2009. Health Canada has confirmed the product contains urea formaldehyde, and is therefore prohibited under the Hazardous Products Act. Once Health Canada became aware the Hazardous Products Act had been contravened, the department took prompt compliance and enforcement action. As a result, RetroFoam is no longer available for sale or installation in Canada.

Like the earlier UFFI, the amount of formaldehyde released from RetroFoam would have been highest at installation and should decrease over time. While it may take a few months or even years, RetroFoam will eventually stop releasing formaldehyde.

Health Canada offered homeowners with RetroFoam the opportunity to test their indoor formaldehyde levels. The results of that testing are available here.

Advice to homeowners

It is the responsibility of any vendor to ensure that the product they sell, advertise and/or import meets the requirements of Canadian laws.

Before installing any insulation in your home, ask your contractor or retailer whether their product meets applicable laws. Specifically, you can ask them to demonstrate that their insulation product is free of urea formaldehyde. Ask to see the Material Safety Data Sheet or a copy of the chemical formulation for the insulation and make sure the words “urea formaldehyde” do not appear.

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