Monthly Archives: March 2015

Black Mold: Tenacious and Toxic

Black mold presents particular difficulties in removal. It gets into some crazy places where it is hard to reach. Tenacious and toxic, however, if you have black mold, it needs to go.

Where Can Black Mold Be Found?

Black mold is great at getting into nooks and crannies, behind baseboards, under carpets, in flower pots and even inside drywall. Anything that is both damp and porous can harbor black mold.

Three Strategies for Removing Black Mold

First, eliminate the source of the problem: Moisture

Wherever the water is coming from that allowed the black mold to grow must be found and repaired. This, by itself, won’t kill the mold, but it is necessary for preventing it from recurring later. Remember, mold spores are everywhere, just looking for a comfortable place to grow.

Check outside for any places water could be coming in from outside. Inspect pipes and appliance connections. If there are no leaks, check your humidity and think about getting a humidifier if the moisture level in your home is too high. Everything has to be dry and stay dry to get rid of black mold.

Second: Clean thoroughly

Hard surfaces can be cleaned of mold, but any porous materials that have been infiltrated must be removed and replaced–they cannot truly be cleaned. This includes carpet, flooring, insulation, and drywall. No matter how clean you think they are, there are still mold spores lurking, just waiting for a humid day or a drip to set them growing again.

Bleach can work on surfaces like tile, but even though mold disappears when you spray it on porous materials, it is not gone. It is hiding. It will come back and quickly.

Third: repair and replace

Rather than just replacing the damaged materials you removed in the previous step with similar materials, consider replacing it with mold-resistant products. Drywall, wood studs and insulation all now come in moisture- and mold-resistant varieties. The same holds true for carpets, stucco, paint and even caulk. You should also consider applying mold inhibiting chemicals on a regular basis for those seemingly hard to cure areas.

Black mold is toxic to homeowners who live with it and the workers who remove it, both of whom are exposed to it daily. Professional mold removal technicians have the safety equipment and training necessary to protect themselves, but you probably do not. Let a professional company like Seacliff remove black mold from your home.

Clean Dryer Vents Save Money–and Lives!

In-home laundry equipment has come a long way. It was not so long ago that having a wringer was being high-tech! But even as washers and dryers have progressed, some aspects of doing laundry remain the same and one of those is: lint. Clean dryer vents and ducts are important because ducts can get clogged with lint and cause quite a few potential problems. Here are some:

Clogged Vents Increase Energy Costs

Without good airflow, your dryer has to work harder and any appliance that works harder is using more energy to do its job. More energy = more money.

Decreased Lifespan of Your Appliances

Nothing seems to last as long as it used to, but your washer and dryer should have good long lives, but they won’t if they are working harder than they should. Motors and heating elements wear out over time and if they are working too hard, they will use up their working lifetimes more quickly.

Shorter Lifespan of Your Clothes

It’s bad enough when the kids outgrow their clothes quickly, but clothes wearing out quickly is really annoying. Heat over long periods does more damage to clothes and you really want them going around the dryer for as short a time as possible. When your vents and ducts are clogged with lint, the dryer takes a long time–maybe even more than one cycle–to dry your clothes, keeping them in the heat for too long.

Increased Fire Danger

Our biggest reason for wanting you to keep your vents and ducts clean, however, is safety. Thousands of home fires start every year because of clogged dryer vents and ducts building up flammable lint to a high temperature and then catching fire. Fire safety isn’t just for the kitchen!

When was the last time you cleaned out your lint trap? Go do it! And if you haven’t had your vents and ducts cleaned for a few years, the time has come!

Mold and Pets: Health Issues for our Furry Friends

What about mold and pets? We know that mold carries health risks for humans. Ordinary mold in ordinary amounts can cause problems like:

  • Lung infections that can lead to pneumonia
  • Allergic reactions
  • Irritated eyes, ears, nose or throat
  • Chronic cough
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rashes
  • Tiredness

But you are probably not the only living creatures in your home. No, not bed bugs or dust mites today–we are talking about pets.

Here is a list of symptoms–anything sound familiar?

    • Lots of scratching, but no fleas
    • Sores and/or bleeding from scratching
    • Excessive licking
    • Hair loss from licking and/or scratching
    • Coughing and sneezing
    • Runny nose and eyes
    • Difficulty breathing or wheezing
    • Loss of appetite
    • Lethargy

Our pets are members of our family and their health is a high priority. Just like our human family, pets can get sick from mold–and not just black or “toxic” mold, but the typical mold found in any home. Mold spores are everywhere and are just looking for the right conditions to grow: moisture, food and warmth. Especially during damp and rainy weather like that in the winter here in Southern California and spring elsewhere, keeping mold in check has to be a conscious activity.

How can you prevent mold from harming your pet? Prevent mold growth:

  • Run the fan in the bathroom during and after showering
  • Use a dehumidifier to keep humidity in your home at levels which do not promote mold growth
  • Inspect your home for leaks often
  • Repair leaks promptly
  • Replace water damaged materials like drywall and flooring
  • Remember if you see mold, there is more you can’t see–take it seriously!

If you are aware of a mold problem in your home and have pets, it’s a good idea to take them to the vet. And if they are exhibiting the symptoms listed above, have them checked out even if you don’t know about a mold issue. Maybe you will find out you have a problem you didn’t know you had!

Asbestos Materials All Over

Think asbestos is a problem of the past, but not today? Unfortunately, although asbestos materials have been banned for some uses for many years, it is still in use for some things and can be found in many older buildings, both residential and commercial.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s chart of asbestos materials is much longer than even we thought. We work with people to safely clean up and remove asbestos products every day, but it’s been a while since we thought about just how many there are!

Potentially Lethal Asbestos Materials:

  • Cement Pipes
  • Elevator Brake Shoes
  • Cement Wallboard
  • HVAC Duct Insulation
  • Cement Siding
  • Boiler Insulation
  • Asphalt Floor Tile
  • Breaching Insulation
  • Vinyl Floor Tile Ductwork
  • Flexible Fabric Connections
  • Vinyl Sheet Flooring
  • Cooling Towers
  • Flooring Backing
  • Pipe Insulation (corrugated air-cell, block, etc.)
  • Construction Mastics (floor tile, carpet, ceiling tile, etc.) Heating and Electrical Ducts
  • Acoustical Plaster
  • Electrical Panel Partitions
  • Decorative Plaster
  • Electrical Cloth
  • Textured Paints/Coatings
  • Electric Wiring Insulation
  • Ceiling Tiles and Lay-in Panels
  • Chalkboards
  • Spray-Applied Insulation
  • Roofing Shingles
  • Blown-in Insulation
  • Roofing Felt
  • Fireproofing Materials
  • Base Flashing
  • Taping Compounds (thermal)
  • Thermal Paper Products
  • Packing Materials (for wall/floor penetrations)
  • Fire Doors
  • High Temperature Gaskets
  • Caulking/Putties
  • Laboratory Hoods/Table Tops
  • Adhesives
  • Laboratory Gloves
  • Wallboard
  • Fire Blankets
  • Joint Compounds
  • Fire Curtains
  • Vinyl Wall Coverings
  • Elevator Equipment Panels
  • Spackling Compounds

Great thanks to the EPA for the list, but even that list is only a selection of asbestos materials.

After a natural or man-made disaster or during a renovation project, you may be removing or replacing these products or materials. It is not safe for you to work with or near asbestos materials without proper training and equipment. Even one exposure can be dangerous to your health and the health of your family or community.

There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos. If you think you might be dealing with something which contains asbestos, call in a professional asbestos abatement company to remove it completely and safely. Asbestos removal is NOT a DIY project!