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Mold Allergy Symptoms

By | Mold And Your Health, News, Videos

If you live on the planet called Earth, you are breathing in more mold spores than pollen on a daily basis.  And that means that if you have a mold allergy – even a mild one – your mold allergy symptoms can flare up at any time and make you miserable.

Mold spores are the reproductive bit of the mold cluster itself and they float all around us, looking only for a hospitable place to land where they can do what they were designed to do – break down plant and animal material and essentially compost the entire earth.  Unfortunately, now that we live in nice, toasty, airtight homes, the parts of our indoor environment that are darkest, warmest and most damp have become irresistible to mold.  And where mold grows, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and more mold spores are released, making those of us with mold allergies quite sick.

Mold can be identified by the musty odor caused by those VOCs which also irritates your eyes, nose, and throat.  Initial signs of an allergic reaction to VOCs and spores can be sinus drainage, upper respiratory problems and coughing that lasts for weeks if not months.  In fact, when a mold allergy is severe, it can be a year round problem and can truly alter your enjoyment of life.

Serious, on-going mold infestations can cause breathing problems in people with mold allergies (especially children and the elderly) including chest tightness, shortness of breath and asthma.  Over time, these problems can lead to a scarring of the lungs from which some people may never recover.

Mold removal at its source is critical for those who suffer from a mold allergy – and the good news is that when you do remove it, most people recover quickly.  So, what should you look for and what should you do about it?

Mold Allergy Symptoms

Common mold allergy symptoms include:

  • Itching, watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing, wheezing
  • Sinus congestion and sinus headache
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Skin irritation including rashes and hives

More severe symptoms include:

  • Reduced lung capacity and other asthma symptoms
  • Nose bleeds
  • Chest congestion
  • Dizziness and mental confusion

A skin or blood test administered by an allergist can positively identify the presence of a mold allergy.

What to Do If You Have a Mold Allergy

Mold allergy symptoms flare up when your immune system decides that the mold spores in your environment are a threat to your survival and reacts by fighting the only way it knows how.  OTC antihistamines and decongestants can help calm your allergic response but more severe responses may require allergy shots.

In the meantime, reduce your exposure to mold by removing it and preventing its reoccurrence.

  • Remove the mold and the moisture that is feeding it, increase airflow and eliminate clutter.
  • Use exhaust fans in bathrooms and dehumidifiers in suspect areas.
  • Keep the humidity level in your home below 50%.
  • Regularly use non-toxic mold cleaning products in bathrooms and kitchens including water-dependent appliances like refrigerators and water purification systems.
  • Try to live without carpet – it’s a true safe haven for mold.
  • Use moisture absorbing chemicals under beds, in closets and under sinks.
  • Keep the place dry; clean up moisture problems like spills, overflows and floods immediately and well.

And remember that mold can grow in the craziest places so inspect everything … and don’t forget your HVAC system, washer and dryer, mattresses and pillows.

Mold Cleaning Products – Safe, Effective and Inexpensive

By | Do It Yourself, Mold Removal, News, Videos

If you’re in the mood for an off-the-shelf solution to your home mold removal project, there is no shortage of mold cleaning products available in your local hardware store.  Just look for the displays full of green spray bottles which bear names that almost always include the words “shield,” “armor,” or, in order to appeal to the eco-minded among us, “eco-molderizer-o-rama.”  On the other hand, if you have a manageable amount of mold and you’re looking for products that are safe, effective and inexpensive, you need look no further than under your kitchen sink.

Mold is a living organism, thriving in the perfect tropical environment of the deep recesses of your home that are damp, airless, warm and filled with the organic flotsam of our daily lives: newspapers, carpet, drywall, books, clothes, wood, windows and shoes are all equally hospitable for mold.  When mold makes itself at home on one of these surfaces and the conditions are right, it begins to slowly digest the material on which it sits and emit the toxic fumes and spores that can make you and your family very sick.  And because mold can make you sick, you must not only kill mold quickly but you must kill it with mold cleaning products that will be safe for your family and pets … and while we’re at it, wouldn’t it be nice if the products you use to kill mold didn’t do more damage to your home than the mold itself was doing?

Mold Cleaning Products

To safely clean visible mold (no matter what color or texture!) off the organic surfaces in your home, simply do the following:

  1. Take the proper safety measures: wear latex gloves, coveralls or long sleeves and long pants, a respirator mask and, if possible, goggles to protect your eyes.
  2. You will release mold spores into the air when you begin to clean so enclose the area in which you are working if necessary or practical.
  3. Spray the surface with water to prevent the mold from releasing spores then clean the surface with warm water, borax soap and a sponge.
  4. Rinse often and scrub hard.  Don’t skimp on this step as you are actually killing the mold in this step.  Don’t just wipe it once and think the job is done!
  5. Dry the area thoroughly using a dehumidifier and/or open doors and windows.  Remember, damp conditions of some kind allowed this mold to grow.  Even though you have just killed the mold, mold spores are constantly floating through your house looking for a nice place to land so don’t leave the area wet or new mold will grow quickly.
  6. Optional but highly recommended, the next step is to disinfect the area with a mild bleach solution (be careful not to inhale any fumes from the bleach!  Bleach is as bad for you as mold is!) or diluted white vinegar and water. Dry the area thoroughly.
  7. If you are removing mold from a wood surface such as a windowsill or baseboard, consider sanding and repainting with a mold retarding paint.  Do not consider simply painting over the mold!  The mold will show through and will be harder than ever to remove.
  8. Make sure that the conditions that allowed this mold to grow in the first place are eliminated.  Leaks, lack of airflow, condensation buildup, poor cleaning habits … fix it or be prepared for the return of the mold.
  9. Clean and put away your protective gear, store your cleaning supplies under the sink and you’re done!

Beyond the Basics

If you have a large area of mold, mold that you cannot see, mold that has infested the structure of your home or very wet carpets, furniture or other fabrics, you will need to bring in bigger guns … up to and including a mold inspector to find all your problem areas and mold removal companies to safely remove all the mold and materials that are harboring it.  We have lots of articles and resources here at Mold Removal Center to help you make this decision and guide you in finding the help you need.

Believe it or not, the best mold cleaning products are not the fanciest ones, the newest ones, the ones with the longest list of ingredients or the ones with the shiniest labels.  The best products are already in your house.  Add a little safety gear and some elbow grease and voila!  You will be not only mold free but you will have saved money that can be better spent on whatever well-deserved reward you desire for all your hard work!

Basement Mold Remediation

By | Mold Removal, News, Professional Mold Removal, Videos

Mold is not a needy entity. It’s just floating all around us, looking mindlessly for a nice organic surface to land where it is damp, dark, still and somewhat untrafficked. Once it finds its perfect home, it begins to digest whatever organic material it sits on and then it grows and grows and grows. Unfortunately, the nasty bi-product of this digestion is smelly fumes and dangerous toxins which makes mold an unattractive houseguest that must be evicted as soon as possible … even if it only occupies the lowly and unloved space that is your basement. When mold has invaded, basement mold remediation might become necessary.

The conditions in the average basement create a perfectly hospitable environment for molds of all kinds. Dark, cluttered with paper and wood and fabric and other organic snacks that mold loves, it is also usually cold and damp, can have sub-par ventilation and is a prime candidate for floods, leaks and cracks that not only let the outside into your home but that also go unnoticed by a busy homeowner. The north-facing garden wall that never dries out is cause enough to keep your basement from ever becoming dry enough to discourage mold colonization so let’s not mention the big plastic bags of clothes you meant to take to the thrift store or the pile of cooking magazines you put down there last fall.

So you’ve been down to the basement recently and you noticed that unmistakable smell. You know you’ve got mold somewhere and you know you have to do something about it before it makes you and the family lethargic, congested or just plain sick and definitely before it hits your HVAC system and infiltrates the whole house. You need a basement mold remediation plan … but where to start?

Inspect

The first step in basement mold remediation is to educate yourself about where to find mold and what the various types of it look like. In the basement, mold can be found on almost anything except, basically, metal and glass. Inspect any and all organic and/or porous materials including paint, wallpaper, carpet, cardboard, paper, wood, fabrics, insulation and wall materials such as gypsum and drywall. Mold can be black, white, blue or gray and might be dry, wet, raised, fuzzy or flat.

Put on your protective gear (mask and latex gloves are the most important!) and pull everything away from the walls and really look. If you suspect the walls may be hiding mold from you, cut away a piece and take a look or have it tested. Try not to disturb the mold as it will release spores and could both make you sick and spread the mold to other areas. If there are water stains anywhere or you have excessive dampness, check for leaking pipes, cracks in the walls, unsealed window frames or other culprits that may be allowing water to come into your basement.

Once you’ve taken stock of your situation, you have to make a decision: if you have a lot of mold – either in a lot of areas or covering an area larger than 3’ x 3’ – you should consider contacting mold removal companies to handle it for you. Likewise, if you can smell mold but cannot find it no matter how hard you search, consider hiring a certified mold inspector. If it seems manageable, create a DIY basement mold remediation plan that includes the following: control the spread of mold during the cleaning process, kill the mold safely and non-toxically, remove the dead mold and, finally, protect your basement from future mold infestations.

Control the Spread of Mold

No matter how non-toxic your planned cleaning methods, you need to confine your work area to prevent the mold spores from migrating to unaffected areas during the mold removal process. Use plastic sheeting to create a floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall “clean room,” then dry the area thoroughly with a dehumidifier and, if possible, use a HEPA filter out the mold with an exhaust fan venting directly to the outside via a window. Now that you are starting the nitty gritty of your basement mold remediation, it’s time to step up the personal protection gear by adding a protective suit (even painter’s coveralls will do), a respirator mask and goggles. This is the time to tear out carpets, moldy insulation, and wet or stained drywall plus repair leaking pipes or cracks and bag and throw away any unsalvageable items that have mold growing on them. Any items that you think you can salvage, carefully take outside and scrub them with TSP or Borax with warm water and let dry in the sunshine, if possible.

Kill the Mold!

As you all know by now, BLEACH DOES NOT KILL MOLD… it simply bleaches it. And because the fumes from chlorine bleach are as unhealthy as the fumes from the mold itself, it has no place in your mold toolkit! Similarly, ozone air purifiers are ineffective so they should be considered pure snake oil.

This is the revenge portion of your basement mold remediation plan: it’s time to kill all the surface mold in your basement with one or two sprayings of an effective, organic mold cleaner, available online or at your local hardware store. If there is any furniture or other large objects in your basement, remove them for the first spraying so they don’t block the spray from the walls and then return them for the second spraying so they get the benefit of the mold killing substances floating in the air.

Remove the Dead Mold and Its Detritus

Once everything is dry and all the visible surface mold is dead, clean every surface thoroughly as even dead mold can cause allergic reactions. Use a HEPA filter in your vacuum and run it over everything at least twice and scrub and clean all surfaces with TSP or Borax and warm water. Don’t forget to dry all these surfaces … don’t give mold a chance to find a new foothold! Finally, make sure that all rags, sponges and HEPA filters are bagged and taken to an outdoor trashcan.

Protect Your New, Mold-Free Basement from New Mold Infestations

Take down your “clean room” walls, bag the plastic and throw it into an outdoor trashcan. Then, use a good protective fungicidal coating on all cleaned surfaces before you replace insulation, drywall or carpet to protect the materials against future mold growth. Then, rebuild and repopulate your basement with any and all of your mold free treasures!

How to Know if Your Basement Mold Remediation Plan Worked

If you were successful, you should not smell mold or see mold or water stains anywhere in your basement. If you used a home mold sampling kit before your remediation, you can test again to compare the numbers but even if you didn’t, a sampling of surface mold at this juncture can tell you whether you are all clear or not. If you are mold-free, you can rebuild, repair and repopulate your basement with all of your mold-free treasures. If, however, you are still in need of basement mold remediation, repeat the necessary steps outlined above to get those last stubborn moldy areas under control.

Regular cleaning, maintenance and inspections are the best protection of all from mold recurrence in your basement. Use a dehumidifier frequently, let as much air and sunshine in as is practical and stay watchful … mold is always looking to come for a nice long visit (or maybe even stay forever!).

Mold Inspection Can Save You Money

By | Mold Removal, News, Professional Mold Removal, Videos

If you have mold in your home, this is not the time to put your head in the sand and ignore a – literally – growing problem.  Allowing mold to grow unchecked in your home can bring you some of the biggest homeowner headaches you can imagine … from health problems to falling home value, mold needs to be stopped as soon as possible.



Regardless of whether you can see physical evidence of your mold infestation or if you can only smell it and feel the effects of it, the first thing you should consider is getting a home mold inspection.  A professional mold inspection conducted by a certified mold inspector will give you all the information that you need to begin to make a sensible and affordable mold removal plan to rid your home of the stuff.

Depending on your situation, knowing what types of mold are growing in your home (there are over 100,000 different types – some of them toxic to humans!) and exactly where, in what types of material and to what degree it has taken hold will arm you with everything you need to get a fair quote from mold removal companies and to be prepared to hold them accountable for their work when they say they have completely eliminated the mold from your home.   In the end, a solid mold inspection from a certified mold inspector can save you thousands of dollars in remediation costs and give you an immeasurable amount of peace of mind as well.

Top 5 Reasons to Leave Mold Inspection to the Experts

Could you do your own mold inspection and save even more cash? Of course you could, but would you really find out what you need to know?  Let’s look at what can happen with the DIY method:

  1. Doing your own home mold inspection may lead to the release of toxic spores which could both make you sick and spread the mold to new areas of your home, worsening your problem.
  2. If you are not the first owner of your home, you cannot know the full history of leaks and floods and rot that have afflicted it.  Previous owners may have cut corners when cleaning up after a devastating problem … do you know where to look?
  3. The worst, most dangerous types of mold are usually found lurking behind walls and wallpaper, beneath carpets and tile and in basement nooks and crannies.  Letting an expert do the inspection means less destruction of your property and more information gleaned from the findings.
  4. During a mold inspection, samples of found mold are taken and sent to a lab for analysis.  Only a microscope can definitively tell you the levels and types of mold present in your home and that’s the information you’ll need to form an efficient and effective mold remediation plan.
  5. Without the specialized equipment and depth of knowledge that a certified mold inspector possesses, what can you really learn from a DIY mold inspection?

What You Can Expect From Your Mold Inspection

Physical Inspection. Certified mold inspectors will do a thorough physical examination of your home from the rafters to the basement, looking in all the places that mold may be growing and finding problems in areas you didn’t even know your home had.

Airborne Mold Sampling. Next, a thorough sampling of airborne mold will be conducted.  While every house has a certain amount of airborne spores, only a professional mold testing specialist well versed in sampling and analysis will tell you if the concentration of airborne spores points to a larger problem in your home.

Written Report. Finally, you’ll receive a written report with recommendations based on industry standards that you can take to a separate mold remediation company … or, if you’re lucky, you’ll receive a clean bill of health that you can take to the bank when the time comes to put your home on the market.

A professional mold inspection does cost money, it’s true … but the cost of not getting a good mold inspection can actually be much pricier in terms of your family’s health and the resale value of your home.  Isn’t it worth it to get a professional mold inspection?

Mold Experts – How They Can Help

By | Mold Removal, News, Professional Mold Removal, Videos

If you’ve got mold in your home, you’ve got trouble.  And if you’ve got a lot of mold or, worse yet, mold you cannot see or mold that is making you or your family sick, you’ve got more than trouble.  You’ve got a problem that will require qualified help from mold experts to inspect, identify and eradicate. We’re not talking about a simple shower mold removal project here…we’re talking about a larger infestation.  So, in serious cases, who should you call?

Household mold and mold removal are relatively new concerns for homeowners and have even become a factor in the determining the value of your home when you are refinancing or preparing to sell your home.  As with many industries when they first spring up, there is very little regulation and almost non-existent standards and licensing so you’ll need to be your own advocate when researching and selecting mold experts for your home mold problems.  Remember that knowledge is the key to handling mold and its potentially damaging effects so take the time to hire mold experts who have expertise in the area that best fits your particular situation.  To help you, what follows is a primer on a few of the certifications that exist in this nascent industry:

Residential Mold Inspector

A structural inspection is an important part of selling your home.  Including a mold inspection as a part of the structural inspection can increase the selling price or, alternately, will let you know that you must do some remediation work before listing your home to maximize the value you get for your home.  Residential mold inspectors are experts in basic mold sampling and, when mold is found to be present, in recommending the services of a Microbial (or Mold) Consultant or Remediator.

Microbial Consultant

A Microbial Consultant specializes in just one thing: microbial (a.k.a. mold) incursions into your home.  They possess the necessary scientific training in various mold agents and advanced testing protocols to accurately diagnose and treat mold contamination and to recommend a proper and effective remediation.  Areas of expertise include investigation, sophisticated sampling methods, report analysis and comprehensive remediation planning.  Microbial consultants can also be called in to verify the results of someone else’s remediation project.

Microbial Remediator

Remediation is the actual removal of all identified microbial contaminations from your home.  Performed by mold removal companies, usually consisting of a microbial remediator and his team, this mold expert is trained to remove mold safely, thoroughly and according to the standard practices of the industry and, if applicable, the appropriate government protocols.  Because mold removal can be dangerous, microbial remediators are highly trained in containment protocols, safety precautions, emergency measures, advanced equipment operation and cleaning and restoration procedures.

If you feel that mold may be only a part of your problem, you may want to hire a more generalized indoor air quality professional who is trained to investigate and identify all causes of poor indoor air quality including lead, asbestos and other systemic problems that may be occurring inside your home.  For instance, an Environmental Consultant is trained to view your home as an organic, inter-related whole.  From the HVAC system to the VOC’s emanating from your carpet to the black mold growing on your drywall, an environmental consultant will look at everything operating behind the scenes to find the cause of your air quality issue, even if it is invisible to the naked eye.

Based on the certifying body, the names of these different types of mold experts may differ but these are the basic specialties you should look for.  Also, while you are doing your research, keep this is in mind: depending on the complexity of your problem, you may need to hire more than one expert to help you.  For instance, if you have mold, you will always need to hire at least two different professionals to complete your project: an inspector and a remediator.  No matter how highly qualified or effusively recommended one of them is, you need to guard against an intrinsic conflict of interest!