Detecting Mold in Your Home
Smelling a Mold Odor
When you have mold growing hidden away in your house, often a moldy smell might be the only clue that it's there. Don't ignore mold odors if you can't see any mold. You should thoroughly inspect your home before any mold problems get worse.
Seeing Signs of Mold Growth
Visible mold growth might seem like an obvious sign of mold. However many people don't notice small amounts of mold growth or they think it's just soot or dirt. Sometimes people simply ignore visible mold in their house.
If you can see mold growth, even if it's only small, you should take action immediately. Small mold patches can spread and the fact that there is any mold shows that the conditions in your home are right for mold to grow.
If you don't take care of mold it will soon become a bigger problem. Visible mold growth could also be a sign that there is a much larger mold colony growing hidden away from view.
Sometimes you might not realize there is mold in your house, especially if it is unusual looking mold. Some mold growth looks white and thread-like. Other mold appears as clusters of small black spots. Mold can be black, gray-brown, gray-green or white in color. Mold growing behind wallpaper made of vinyl can even appear orange, pink or purple.
Signs of Water Problems
If you have had any long term moisture problems in your house it's usually inevitable they will lead to mold beginning to grow. So if you know you've had some water problems in your home then it's a pretty good sign you could have mold.
Some signs that you have a moisture problem include water stains or discoloration on walls, floors or ceilings in your house. Seeing these could be a clue that there is mold growing within or behind the material.
Another sign of a moisture problem is surface abnormalities like peeling, bubbling or cracking of the paint or wallpaper. If your walls are bowed, bulging or warped it probably means moisture has gotten into them. Another clue is if the surface of walls or other materials feel damp.
The above signs of water problems in homes are usually created by leaks. However if you already know that you have had a water leak (such as leaking pipes or a leaking ceiling) then just that knowledge by itself, even if you don't see signs of water damage, is a good sign that you might have mold growing in your house around the area where the leak was.
Mold growth from leaks can often be hidden. If the leak was behind a wall or other surface then any mold will probably be hidden behind the surface too. Even if the leak was not behind a surface there could still be mold hidden out of view behind a wall or other surface from water which seeped through.
If your house has been flooded in the past then it's likely that mold would've started to grow. Any mold would probably be growing in places where flood water remained the longest such as in the basement. Floods can often create mold growing out of view behind walls or under floors.
If you see a lot of condensation in your home then it's a sign that you have a high amount of moisture and hence a sign that you could have a mold problem. Condensation will occur on surfaces such as glass windows or metal pipes. Mold could be growing where the condensation builds up and collects. Rusting indoor pipes are a sign that you could have a lot of condensation in your house.
Besides the fact that condensation creates a build up of moisture for mold to grow on, condensation can also be a sign that you have a humidity problem in your home. A high humidity level can feed mold and it is another sign that you might have a potential mold problem.
info by: http://moldpedia.com/mold-in-house-signs
Keeping Your Commercial Building Safe
Protect your commercial property with these safety tips.
Keeping your commercial property safe can help you protect your employees, patrons, and business equipment. From keeping up on building maintenance to installing a security system, there are plenty of dangers lurking around your property. Check out these ways you can keep your commercial property safe and secure.
Conduct Maintenance Audits.
The more attention you pay to your building maintenance, the less likely you are to face any issues. Keep your property current and routinely check for any slippery surfaces, damaged floors, sharp objects, frayed or damaged wires, or blocked hallways. Staying vigilant helps you avoid problems before they become an issue.
Increase Lighting In & Around the Building.
When it comes to your building, it’s important to keep it well lit. Not only does it help to avoid trips and falls, but it can also help to avoid burglaries. Install extra lighting and make sure your building is well-lit.
Prepare for an Emergency.
Disasters are unpredictable, which means it’s important to be prepared. Take precautions to minimize potential damage from a disaster, and make emergency exits readily available. Check that all your fire alarms are working properly and that all the emergency exits are well marked.
Install Security to Protect the Property.
Businesses require a significant amount of expensive materials to operate, making it a prime target for burglaries. Take measures to increase security on the property. Install security cameras and alarms, and hire a security guard. Additionally, consult with local law enforcement to see what precautions they recommend.
info provided by: http://isuwissink.com/safety-tips-for-commercial-property/
What is Mold?
Mold (or mould) is a term used to refer to fungi that grow in the form of multicellular thread-like structures called hyphae. Fungi that exist as single cells are called yeasts. Some molds and yeasts cause disease or food spoilage, others play an important role in biodegradation or in the production of various foods, beverages, antibiotics and enzymes.
Mold is also found in damp building materials where it often appears like stains and comes in a variety of colours. A must smell is an indication of microbial growth even when there is no visible growth. If mold is allowed to grow in homes or offices it can contribute to poor indoor air quality. Some molds such as the Dry Rot Fungus, Serpula lacrymans, are highly destructive. For more details about dry rot fungus read Occurrence and Significance of Dry Rot Fungus, Serpula lacrymans.
Mold growth requires moisture. The sources of moisture could be Washing, cooking, air humidifiers, condensation or leaks from plumbing or from the outside. Poor ventilation contributes to higher humidity levels and leads to condensation, which also allows mold growth.
Molds release small “spores” into the air. So, when mold grows indoors, the number of mold spores and fragments is usually higher indoors than it is outdoors. These spores are small enough that people can actually inhale them deep into the lungs.
information provided by: http://www.moldbacteriafacts.com/what-is-mold/
Preventing Fires in Your Home
How to prevent fires at home
Most people know the basics of fire safety at home, such as not leaving burning candles unattended and keeping a fire extinguisher on hand. Here are a few more things you can do to prevent fires at home.
- Have your heating system serviced regularly by a professional, including chimneys from wood-burning fireplaces. Clean around heat sources and keep dust and other flammable items away from ignition sources.
- Remove the lint from your dryer filter after every use. A clogged filter and lint trap makes your dryer less efficient, reduces the airflow needed to keep heat from building up in the vents, and forces lint onto the heating coils. Also, never let your dryer run when you are out of the house or when you’re asleep.
- Keep firewood, piles of leaves and trash away from the home. If a grass fire starts nearby, these items next to your home could easily become kindling. Never dump hot ashes inside or near your home; keep them in a metal container well away from your house and garage.
- Avoid using outlet extenders or plug-in power bars: they can quickly overload an electrical circuit. Replace old, damaged or frayed appliance cords, and never force a three-pronged plug into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
- Store containers of cooking oil well away from the stove. When cooking with oil, never leave the stove unattended. To stop a grease fire, turn off the burner and place a lid on the pan to suffocate the flames, or pour on lots of baking soda. Never pour water on a grease fire or try to carry the pan outside; water splatters the grease and makes the fire bigger, and the pan will be much too hot to carry.
- Consider using borrowed heat to keep outdoor pets warm. During winter months, avoid using heat lamps, solar lamps, trouble lights, heated watering bowls or other such heated devices, which could lead to a potential fire. Borrowed heat involves providing warmth from a heating system located in a separate building. If this isn’t possible, consider bringing your pets inside.
- Be sure to properly extinguish smoking materials. Smoking materials that are not properly extinguished can smoulder undetected for days before igniting a fire. Never discard smoking materials on the ground or in plant pots.
info provided by: https://www.cooperators.ca/en/Answer-Centre/how-can-i-be-safe-and-prepared/home/five-best-ways-to-prevent-fires-in-home.aspx
Mold Prevention Tips
Mold is a common household problem, developing in warm, damp environments. Mold can be colored green, purple, white, and orange. While mold plays an important role outside in the environment, breaking down dead plants, mold is unwelcome in homes.
Showers and bathrooms are a common location for mold to grow, but it is possible for mold to grow anywhere in a home. Mold can come inside a home from an outside growth through inadequately sealed windows or doors. Mold spores cannot be eliminated entirely, but they will not grow if the environment is dry and well ventilated. Mold growth can be prevented by ensuring if water damage occurs, clean up occurs quickly. Using air conditioners during humid seasons and exhaust fans in kitchen can help prevent mold from growing.
Other areas to monitor moisture to prevent mold growth: exterior walls and surfaces in need of insulation where condensation can build, air conditioner drip pans, check for leaks around refrigerator, ensure crawl spaces are well ventilated, and check for leaks around a tub.
These are a few simple tips for making sure mold is not growing in your home. If you do discover a mold growth, SERVPRO of Crescenta Valley/ East Glendale provides mold remediation services for all types of residential and commercial properties.
The Importance of Gutters
Gutters are a very important part of roofs for commercial and residential buildings as they are responsible for transporting water and debris off of roofs. Especially in stormy seasons, it is important to ensure gutters are functioning to their highest ability.
Removal of water and debris in gutters lightens the load on the roof, preventing the possibility of roof leaks and caving under stress from weather. It is important gutters are maintained in optimal working condition to prevent damage to the entire commercial or residential structure.
Gutters should be inspected twice yearly and cleared of debris that could prevent flow of water and materials from roof. Also, check for standing water in gutters as it could indicate inadequate flow of water. Water should be moving down off the roof toward storm drainage areas. Keeping trees trimmed near the roof will alleviate stress on gutters because the branches will not slow water flow or contribute more debris to gutters.
Ensure water is being funneled away from the building once off the roof, as flooding can sometimes occur due to runoff not having proper.
Water stains on the internal ceiling can indicate a roof leak.
In the case of water damage, roof leaks, and storm damage, SERVPRO of Crescenta Valley/East Glendale provides “24 Hour Emergency Services.”
With Spring showers...comes the need for Planning!
Spring weather can be unpredictable. Reduce injury risk and plan ahead.
Spring is the time of year when many things change—including the weather. Temperatures here in Los Angeles can swing back and forth between a pleasant, almost beach-perfect day to a “close your windows and turn back on the heater” night. Sunny days may be followed by a week of stormy weather. Sometimes extreme weather changes can occur even within the same day. Mark Twain once said, "In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours."
Thunderstorms cause most of the severe spring weather. They can bring lighting, flooding and all sorts of additional issues. Whenever warm, moist air collides with cool, dry air, thunderstorms can occur. For much of the world, this happens in spring and summer.
Because spring weather is so unpredictable, you may be unprepared when severe weather hits—particularly if you’ve never experienced severe weather as we do in most other parts of the country. And when severe weather hits unexpectedly, the risk of injury increases. So planning ahead makes sense; prepare for storms, floods, and other natural disasters as if you know in advance they are coming, because in the spring, they very likely will.
Advance planning for thunderstorms, lightning, earthquakes, and floods requires specific safety precautions.
Often by the time we are aware of an approaching storm, we have little if any time to prepare for it.
Advance planning for thunderstorms, lightning, earthquakes, and floods requires specific safety precautions. You can follow many of the same steps that you would for all extreme weather events. Keep an emergency kit on hand. Some items to include are:
- A battery-operated flashlight, a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio, and extra batteries for both
- An emergency evacuation or shelter plan, including a map of your home and, for every type of severe weather emergency, routes to safety from each room
- A list of important personal information, including:
- telephone numbers of neighbors, family, and friends
- insurance and property information
- telephone numbers of utility companies
- medical information
- According to the American Red Cross a first aid kit may include:
- non-latex gloves
- assortment of adhesive bandages
- antibiotic ointment
- sterile gauze pads in assorted sizes
- absorbent compress dressings
- adhesive cloth tape
- aspirin packets (81 mg each)
- First aid instruction booklet
(NOTE: Customize your first aid kit to meet your individual and family needs.)
- A 3–5 day supply of bottled water and nonperishable food
- Personal hygiene items
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- An emergency kit in your car
Prepare your family members for the possibility of severe weather. Tell them where to seek appropriate shelter as soon as they are aware of an approaching storm. Practice your emergency plan for every type of severe weather. Show family members where the emergency supplies are stored, and make sure they know how to turn off the water, gas, and electricity in your home.
Often by the time we are aware of an approaching storm, we have little if any time to prepare for it. But we do know that when spring arrives, thunderstorms, tornadoes, and floods are real possibilities. So why not take the surprise factor out of severe weather and prepare yourself, your family, and your home? If thunderstorms, tornadoes, and floods do occur, you'll be ready for them.
(Special thanks are in order to our friends at the CDC for helping us gather a lot of these tidbits of helpful prep knowledge: https://www.cdc.gov/features/springweather/ )
Where Maintenance can Keep Your Crescenta Valley Home Free of Floods
Keeping certain objects and systems in your home clean, repaired, and modern is the first step in securing the structure from future floods and disasters. Most floods start not from storms or natural disasters but from failures within the home, many of which are easily preventable with regular checkups and maintenance. Having SERVPRO or another qualified company evaluate these critical systems could end up saving you thousands of dollars in restoration costs and weeks of headaches from restorations.
Water Pipes and Lines
One of the most easily preventable sources of water damage in Crescenta Valley comes from the water pipes that run through and around your home. These pipes, typically made of copper, steel, or other non-oxidizing metals, can be prone to cracks, leaks, and outright bursts if left without maintenance for too long. Potential triggers include freezing temperatures, physical dents and impacts, or simple degradation over time. Having a trained eye running through and checking in on these systems once every few years can prevent most of the catastrophic failures we deal with regularly.
Washing Machines and Dishwashers
Large appliances that use high volumes of water such as washing machines, dishwashers, and some refrigerators are also common sources of flooding in homes nationwide. Again, water lines can rip or break, or the machines themselves can malfunction and spill water across the floor. SERVPRO inspectors know where to look for potential signs of failure, and these items usually don't take long at all to service.
Gutters and Drainage Systems
Gutters and drainage systems can get clogged up and bogged down by packed debris, potentially causing light to moderate water damage to both the interior and exterior of your home. Gutters can be checked and cleaned with just a ladder and some gloves, but some drains might take specialty equipment and more thorough work to analyze thoroughly.
SERVPRO of Crescenta Valley is a locally-owned company with national resources, ready to respond at a moment's notice to water damage in your home. Call us 24/7 at (818) 842-1400
What is Efflorescence?
The average homeowner and building manager comes across this all the time but understanding the cause of Efflorescence can be easier said than done.
Allow us to unpack this subject a little more.
By definition, efflorescence is the formation of salt on the surface of porous materials (concrete, brick or plaster). Water in and of itself can be the carrier of parts of salt. In addition to this, porous materials often already have traces of salt from within. Now, once water travels through said materials, it often leaves behind traces of these salts or combines with pre-existing levels of salts. The sodium next migrates to the material's surface through the process of water evaporating. What you have left is crystallized salt on the surface – which often gets mistaken for mold!
Efflorescence can occur in natural as well as developed environments. The effect often looks cosmetic but what it’s communicating is that water intrusion has/is occurring and needs to be addressed. It is important to note that over time this process can weaken structures and also lead to additional damage if not taken care of properly. Efflorescence can be removed with the application of various phosphoric acids, followed by a thorough rinsing of water. However, if the source of the water penetration is not taken care of, efflorescence may continue to occur. Contact your local contractor to help seal and strengthen your structure by creating vapor-permeable barriers to your porous materials - often attained through applying hydro-phobic sealers to keep the water out of your porous materials.
Hopefully next time you see some of this ‘puffy white snow’ (as our customers often describe it over the phone) coming out of your home or office - you can help diagnose the problem and prevent further damage.
Water Shutoff Valves
Frequently when a home or business owner needs to shut the water off to an appliance or at the “main”, there are questions where to look for the valves and how they operate. The need to shut of the water may become urgent when a pipe breaks inside the building or even in the main line from the street to the property.
The cause of a broken pipe can be from aging plumbing and fixtures, construction mishaps, and ground and buildings shifting from earthquakes common to Southern California. Certainly, the time to become familiar with the valve locations and function is not when there is an emergency.
The pictures below illustrate the water valves and locations common to sinks, water heaters, toilets and at the “main” source from the city service. In each case, there is a valve to isolate the leaking plumbing.
The Meter: The Meter is located next to the street at the curb area. This is where the water branches off from the City and comes to your property. There is a shut-off located underneath the meter box lid. Shutting the water off here, will turn the water off to the entire house exterior and interior, including pools and irrigation.
Main Service: From the “meter box” a water line is ran up to the front of the house to a hose bib (water spigot). Usually where the hose is located (newer homes in garage). This shut-off valve turns the water off to the inside of the home, excluding irrigation.
The Water Heater: From the “main service” the plumbing lines then provide water to the water heater. The water heater shut-off valve is located at the top of the water heater next to the water flex lines.
Angle Stops: From the “water heater” hot and cold water lines split off to provide water to plumbing fixtures including those in the bathrooms, kitchen, laundry, etc. You may have heard of an angle stop before. A shiny oval piece behind the toilet or underneath the sink. Behind the toilet is 1 angle stop and underneath a sink there are 2.
It is important as home and business owners to know how to turn off your water supply in the case of an emergency. If water damage still occurs, SERVPRO of Crescenta Valley / East Glendale provides water remediation services for commercial and residential properties.