Monthly Archives: May 2015

Disaster Aftermath: It’s not over when it’s over

As we all watch footage of the terrible killer floods in Texas and Oklahoma this week (wishing we could have some of that rain ourselves), we remember that there is danger from natural disasters wherever you live. But the danger isn’t over when the flood waters recede. The disaster aftermath can be every bit as dangerous as the actual event.

After a Flood

Water damage can wreak havoc to our homes and personal possessions, destroying precious and irreplaceable objects like books and photographs, important documents, and building materials. Some things can be cleaned and dried, and others must be discarded.

Water damage to porous materials means they need to be replaced, otherwise they will be subject to almost instantaneous mold growth. Let the drywall go and think of what color you’d like to paint those new walls.

After a Tornado

Tornados bring some of the same water damage dangers, but also can tear apart buildings, if not rip them from their foundations. Older buildings may contain asbestos which may never have been disturbed if not for the tornado, but becomes a danger during cleanup and restoration. Do not touch any suspected asbestos materials. Have a professional assess and remove it safely. There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos.

After an Earthquake

You probably have relatives who ask you, “How can you live with the danger of earthquakes?” Well, we don’t have hurricanes or tornadoes, so we take what we get, just like those in other parts of the country. But we do have to be careful and remember that earthquakes can do similar damage to tornadoes and other storms. Dangerous building materials like asbestos can be disturbed and expose us to carcinogens.

The safest way to clean up after a natural disaster is to call in a professional cleanup team. At Seacliff, we have trained and experienced cleanup technicians who can deal with any hazardous materials quickly and safely, without exposing you, your family or your community to any dangerous substances exposed by a disaster.

Be prepared for the disaster aftermath and be careful during the events in your region!

5 Types of Common Household Mold

We are all used to household mold. When you leave the leftovers in the fridge just a little too long. When you’re just too busy to wipe down the shower curtain. Maybe that leaky pipe in the kitchen didn’t get fixed right away and you lost track.

Mold spores are everywhere and they only take three things to grow: food, air, and water. Here are the 5 most common types of household mold you might encounter if you provide the right conditions:

Penicillium

A green fungus often found on bread, penicillium is used in making antibiotics. It is also used to make cheese, and leads to bread ending up in landfills everywhere.

Aspergillus

This household mold is usually blue and grows on wet textiles and wallpaper, materials which often get damaged in a flood. Mycotoxins from Aspergillus are the culprits most often when people are allergic to mold and have respiratory symptoms like asthma or congestion.

Trichoderma

Trichoderma is another green mold that is present in all soil. It’s what’s growing on that plastic container of spaghetti in the back of the refrigerator.

Chaetomium

This brown mold can cause infection in humans. If you always shower with soap after working out in a public place like a gym and you will prevent any infections from this fungus.

Alternaria

Another type of household mold which can cause asthma or allergy symptoms, Alternaria is especially dangerous to those with compromised immune systems.

You can’t completely avoid contact with mold of all sorts, but there are things you can do to keep it in check. Fix leaks promptly and replace any porous materials damaged by water. Always run the fan in the bathroom during AND after a shower. Throw those leftovers away before they become a home for a colony. If you see mold, remove it, but remember there may be more that you can’t see. If household mold gets out of hand, call a professional!

High Humidity in Home Encourages Dust Mites and Mold

You know how it feels outdoors–high humidity can make hot days unbearable, sticky, and drive you into air conditioned places. In Southern California, we are more likely to brag about our “dry heat,” but up north cool, foggy weather is very common. Both hot and cold damp days make it easier for mold and dust mites to thrive indoors, leading to allergy symptoms and even asthma for those with sensitivities.

How does high humidity encourage dust mites and mold?

This video from the IAQ Video Network lays it out very well:

Mold spores are everywhere, just waiting for the right conditions to grow and thrive.

What does mold need to grow?

Mold only needs three elements to take hold:

  • Moisture
  • Food
  • Air

That’s it! No wonder a leak or some unfortunate condensation can cause a mold problem indoors.

What about dust mites?

Dust mites are also ubiquitous and live on dead skin cells and pet dander–unavoidable in an inhabited residence. Dust mites don’t drink, but they do need water and do well in a humid environment.

What can you do to discourage dust mites and mold?

  • Fix leaks promptly
  • Replace any porous materials damaged by water
  • Run bathroom fans during and after showers until steam and humidity has been vented outdoors
  • Use a dehumidifier to keep indoor humidity low
  • Wash bedding in hot water and dry in a hot dryer weekly

We can’t do much about the outside humidity–it depends on the climate where we live. But high humidity indoors is more controllable and worth the effort, especially if you or someone in your family is affected by allergies or asthma. If you develop a mold problem or want to tackle dust mites, Seacliff can help. Call us for a consultation!