Monday, July 19, 2010

Yikes! Mold in your basement! What do you do?

Maybe it is the same in your area; we have had a lot of rain during the last few days in the NYC area. The rain has made the air really humid in-between the times when the downpours come. During this season, you need to be aware of any mold that might be growing around your home and office.

Here is a photo of one of the areas where they found a patch that looks like black mold.

It seems to be caused by water that was allowed to enter the basement through a poorly sealed air intake grille. Here is a photo of the grille. Notice the bead of sealant that is uneven and clumped up in some areas. If you were there, you would be able to see daylight shining through gaps from the inside of the basement at this joint.

First things first: Remember, you must have the source of the moisture removed before you attach the mold – or it will just come back again. No remediation of mold is final. Mold can always find its way back to the area remediated.

The photos above are from a property that a client wanted us to see. Once we shared with our client some methods that work well at keeping moisture out of the basement and what construction materials can be used that are not proned to accept mold, we also let them know a little about mold. Since Lane Architecture + Design is not an office with any experts in mold, we obtained a lot of the information that you will see can be found almost word for word in an excellent book by a mold expert, Michael Pugliese, The Homeowner’s Guide to Mold, (Reed Construction Data, Inc., Construction Publishers & Consultants, 63 Smiths Lane, Kingston, MA 02364-0880, (781) 422-5000, Copyright 2006). Michael is also a mold remediation contractor…

Although mold can be very dangerous to our health, know the facts about mold so you don't get snookered by some of the mold remediation contractors who are not very honest. They will try to scare you into hiring them at any cost.

Here is some basic facts about mold and how it spreads:

Mold spores need a few things to grow:
• Moisture – a relative humidity of roughly 50% or higher. Some people use hygrometers in their homes to keep track of the humidity.
• Food – material it can grow on, such as wood and wood products, paper, cotton, and leather. Mold will grow on anything where there is moisture and food, such as dirt or dust.
• The right temperature – above freezing and below 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Summer-like temperatures, between 70 - 90 degrees, are especially conducive to mold growth. Freezing does not kill mold spores; it just makes them go dormant until temperatures warm up again.

Does bleach get rid of the mold?
Certain types of mold are chlorine-resistant. People apply bleach, but the mold comes right back. In fact, it never went away. Some mold remeditators use ammonia based cleaners. Ammonia and bleach combined can cause toxic fumes and should especially be avoided if you are planning to have an expert help you get rid of it.

Here are some great questions that Michael Pugliese recommends you to ask mold remediation contractors before hiring any:

• Are you mold-certified?
• What organization provided your certification?
• Are the individuals who will actually perform the work certified?
• How long have you been in business?
• Can you provide me with at least three references?
• May I have copies of your liability and Worker’s Compensation insurance?
• Do you clean HVAC systems and air ducts?
• What methods do you use to keep mold spores from spreading?

I hope you are having a great summer and staying dry.

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