WATER DAMAGE: Has Your Home Been Infiltrated by the Enemy?

Mold from flooded Oneonta, NY basement

Mold from flooded Oneonta, NY basement

With all of the flooding we’ve seen in the news recently in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, it’s gotten folks thinking about the tremendous damage that water can do to a structure like a home. Not only can it reduce dry wall to a pulpy mess, it also damages beautiful hardwood flooring, carpeting and furniture. It takes a lot of work to restore a house after a flood, whether it’s caused by a severe weather event, a broken water heater or leaky pipes.

Even when the home has been aired out with fans and open doors and windows, it’s difficult and sometimes impossible to dry every inch of a home quickly and completely. Of course, over time and with a little cooperation from the weather, everything will eventually dry. The question is, has mold taken hold in the meantime. Because if it has, it can make your home into a hostile environment. That’s because mold can make people sick — sometimes very sick! That’s why mold testing after a water leak or flooding event is so critically important!

Here in New York, mold testing and mold remediation are not done by one company. In order to protect you and ensure that you get a realistic assessment of the damage, the law says that before you can begin to clean up mold, you first must obtain a detailed work plan prepared by a New York state licensed mold inspector. Step #1 in the process then, is to contact us. We’re Premier Mold Inspecting and Testing. We’ve not only got a license to inspect and assess a home, school or business, we’ve also got years of experience under our belts. We’ll provide you with an accurate and timely inspection and recommendations that fulfill all of the requirements of New York law.

And then on to Step #2, which is to contact a Mold Remediation Company to begin ridding your home of mold according to the inspector’s report and recommendations!

Don’t risk your own health or the health of your family. If you suspect you may have a mold problem, contact us.

 

 

 

Is your home making you sick?

Allergens that Affect Indoor Air Quality in Homes

As homeowners, mold is not the only air quality issue that we need to worry about. Many other allergens can affect our health and the ability to breathe well. If you’re constantly coughing, have watery eyes, and/or post-nasal drip, an allergen is probably the cause.

Allergens that Affect Indoor Air Quality in Homes:

Pet Dander

Your dog, cat, even a pet rodent can produce dander. Proteins shed from the animal’s skin stick to its fur. When this microscopic material dies, it floats into the air and enters the mucous membranes of the nose and lungs, causing an allergic reaction.

Dust Mites

These tiny creatures feed on flakes of human or animal skin. They can live on mattresses, carpets, curtains, furniture — any upholstered surface. Their feces contain digestive enzymes that often cause allergies and even asthma.

Pollen

This powdery substance, produced in large quantities by trees or weeds and grasses, is often unknowingly brought into our homes on our clothing and hair. The lightweight material is easily inhaled and irritates nasal passages.

Formaldehyde

An organic compound, formaldehyde is one of the more common indoor allergens. It’s used in household products such as air fresheners, glue, toilet cleaners, and paint for a few examples. This chemical can cause watery eyes, headaches, and breathing difficulties.

These are just a few allergens that can compromise your indoor air quality. Contact us for more information about indoor allergens and air quality screenings to ensure that your home is a healthier place to breathe for yourself and your family.

Inside of an HVAC duct in New York home

Inside of an HVAC duct in New York home

Should You Worry About Indoor Air Quality in Homes

Mold on crawlspace framing

Mold on crawlspace framing

Are you concerned about indoor air quality in homes? When many of us think about air pollution, it manifests an image of heavy smog created by industrial smokestacks. We don’t really think of pollution in our homes caused by poor ventilation and stale air. Indoor air quality is certainly something we need to worry about.

 

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), tasked with the protection of human health and the environment, reports poor indoor air quality can cause the “irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue… Soon after exposure to some indoor air pollutants, symptoms of some diseases such as asthma may show up, be aggravated or worsened.”

How Big A Problem Is Poor Indoor Air Quality?

The swiftness and severity of a person’s reactions depend on a number of things. Preexisting medical conditions and age are two common factors. Also, repeated exposure to chemical and biological agents can increase sensitivity over time. Therefore, while reactions vary from person to person, exposure increases the likelihood of a reaction.

The American Lung Association states, “Poor indoor air quality can cause or contribute to the development of infections, lung cancer and chronic lung diseases such as asthma. People who already have lung disease are at greater risk. Find out what makes indoor air unhealthy and how pollution can hurt your body.”

Some of us think about indoor air quality being caused by thinks like dust, pet dander, and the flu virus. Unfortunately, there are things that may be in your home that is even more dangerous, such as:

  • Asbestos,
  • Carbon monoxide,
  • Mold,
  • Radon, and
  • Lead.

Therefore, the long-term effects of repeated exposure to pollutants may take years to manifest. Poor indoor air quality contributes to not only respiratory issues but also major health issues such as heart disease and some forms of cancer. Indoor pollution can become debilitating or even fatal.

What Can You Do?

In homes, it is those items that release particles or gasses into the air that are the major cause of indoor air pollution. Increase ventilation will bring air in from the outside, lessening the levels of pollutants discharged and released from sources, and will remove the polluted air out of your home. Here are the steps you should take.

  • Perform a Radon test, and discover solutions for high levels,
  • Reduce asthma triggers,
  • Control moisture and prevent mold growth,
  • Make your home a smoke-free environment, and
  • Install an Air Cleaning System.

What haven’t we covered that is important for you? If you would like to talk more about indoor air quality, or need more information, please contact us.

Indoor Air Quality in Homes: Steps for Asthmatics to Take

As an asthmatic, there’s nothing more frightening and frustrating than being unable to breathe properly. The problem becomes especially troublesome when it happens in your own home.

Fortunately, with the right knowledge, you can improve your home’s air quality and reduce the amount of allergens and triggers that you come into contact with. So, how can you get started on creating a trigger-free environment where asthmatics can breathe freely?

Understand What Pollutants are in Your Home

Knowledge will prove to be one of the most valuable weapons you have in the fight against asthma triggers within your home. What can you do to learn more about these common household enemies known as pollutants?

  • Get an air quality test — quality tests will tell you exactly what pollutants are present in your home, as well as how much of each is present.
  • Know your triggers — not all asthmatics are triggered by the same pollutants, though some, such as dust mites and pet dander, are common enough triggers that it’s best to avoid them altogether.

 

Reduce Indoor Air Pollutants 

Now you know which pollutants are present within your home, but what can you do about them?

Some things you can do to reduce pollutants and improve indoor air quality include:

  • Changing AC and heating filters on a regular basis
  • Preventing family members and visitors from smoking inside the home
  • Allowing for proper air ventilation throughout the home
  • Giving up your pet (or, if this is not an option, improving grooming techniques to reduce airborne fur and dander)

With the right expertise, you can create a home free of allergens and asthma triggers. To get started, contact us to set up an air quality testing appointment at your convenience.

5 surprising symptoms that could be a sign of mold exposure

Dirty A/C filter in Oneonta NY home

Dirty A/C filter in Oneonta NY home

As the weather changes and seasonal allergies and viruses begin to make their appearance, many will experience the familiar symptoms associated with these illnesses and conditions. However, in some cases that runny nose or rash may be a sign of something else entirely.

There are tens of thousands of mold varieties that can be found both indoors and outdoors and many of these fungi take root in humid climates and areas of the home that accumulate moisture, such as basements and showers.

Mold can grow on nearly any surface, spreading invisible spores that can cause a wide range of symptoms both familiar and unexpected.

1. Itchy eyes. While dry weather or allergies could be the cause of itchy or watery eyes, mold exposure can also lead to eye irritation. Those sensitive to mold may produce histamines in response to inhaling the spores, which causes this type of reaction.

2. Post-nasal drip. A sore throat or feeling of a “lump” in the throat are often signs of post-nasal drip—a condition that occurs when excess mucus runs down the back of the throat. There are many possible causes of post-nasal drip including viruses, changing weather and certain medications. However, mold exposure can also cause an increase in mucus production and lead to post-nasal drip.

3. Dry or irritated skin. What many might assume to be the effect of dry winter air or lack of moisture could be a symptom of mold exposure. Individuals sensitive to mold may experience patches of dry, red, scaling or itchy skin.

4. Fever. A fever and shortness of breath could be a sign of a severe mold allergy or exposure to a large amount of mold.

5. Asthma. Individuals diagnosed with asthma may find their symptoms triggered by mold exposure. Studies have suggested mold exposure could also contribute to the development of asthma in some otherwise healthy children, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you are experiencing symptoms you suspect are the result of mold exposure, mold testing can help identify the cause. Contact us for more information about mold testing.

How to Improve Indoor Air Quality in Your Home

18200603_1488988263231

Indoor air quality in homes has a major impact on the health of you and your family. This is especially true for people who have allergies or asthma. To ensure the health and well-being of you and your loved ones, here are a few tips for improving indoor air quality in homes.

Turn on the Air Conditioner

One way you can improve indoor air quality in your home is by turning on the air conditioner. The air filter removes allergens like dust mites and pet dander from the air as it passes through the unit. Just remember to replace the air filter regularly. A dirty filter won’t be able to remove airborne allergens as efficiently as a clean filter.

Ideally, you should change the air filter of your air conditioner at least once every few months. If you have pets in your home, the air filter should be replaced once a month.

Maintain a Healthy Level of Humidity

Another way you can improve the indoor air quality in your home is by maintaining a healthy level of humidity. Most allergens thrive in environments with high humidity. Therefore, you should use a dehumidifier to keep the humidity level in your home between 30 to 50 percent.

Other ways you can maintain a healthy level of humidity in your home include not overwatering houseplants and using an exhaust fan when cooking and bathing.

For more information about how to improve the indoor air quality in your home for the health of you and your family, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Energy-Efficient Improvements and Indoor Air Quality in Homes

Dirty A/C filter in Oneonta NY home

Dirty A/C filter in Oneonta NY home

There is a concern with energy-efficient improvements and the effect on indoor air quality in homes. Many don’t take on these projects specifically for improved energy usage but will adopt the growing trend of green home remodeling practices with new renovations. Green building contractors incorporate the idea into all aspects of a remodel for energy efficiency and resource sustainability. While these are noble goals, indoor air quality becomes an issue.

Home heating and cooling are the highest percentages of utility costs. This means energy-efficient home improvements incorporate air-sealing into the design. Do you remember your mother yelling at you, “Close the door! We’re not heating the outdoors!” Closing the building envelope, making a home airtight, keeps heating and cooling energy from escaping. The unfortunate result is poor indoor air quality, requiring home ventilation and air cleaning systems.

Believe it or not, those drafty old windows, doors and attics played a vital role by bringing fresh air in from the outside. The air wasn’t free of pollen, mold spores, and bacteria, but airflow through the home often kept these pollutants from becoming a major issue. A homeowner can even develop a radon issue after remodeling projects close the building envelope. The gas once had ways to escape, but after becomes trapped.

Another issue with air sealing is an increased level of moisture. Homes that never had mold issues may suddenly develop a problem because moisture levels give it the opportunity to grow. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states, “Molds are usually not a problem indoors, unless mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing. Molds have the potential to cause health problems. Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins).”

Improving indoor air quality requires whole house ventilation and air cleaning systems. These systems either mechanically bring in fresh air from the outside or effectively remove particles from cycled air. The need for both is because most residential HVAC systems do not bring in fresh air from the outside, and air cleaning systems do not remove gasses like radon.

If you would like to talk more about energy-efficient improvements and the effect on indoor air quality in homes, or need more information, please contact us.

How Your Pet Affects your indoor Air Quality

Elevated humidity in home

Elevated humidity in home

According to the SPCA, there are more than 170 million dogs and cats owned in the United States. If you are a homeowner who has included one of these pets as part of your family, you may be surprised to learn that they could be adversely affecting your indoor air quality. Here are some questions to ask yourself before deciding if home air testing is necessary.

Are my pets indoor/outdoor?

Animals that have free access to the outdoors act as transporters for allergens. Fur easy collects and carries dust, mold sports, and pollen into the home. Over time, these can accumulate and overwhelm your heating and cooling system, and have a detrimental effect on the air quality.

What are my pets leaving behind?

Pet fur, dander, and pests that live and breed on animals such as mites and fleas, can trigger allergies. Steady airflow alone will not keep your home free of these potential sources of allergic reaction. If the heating and cooling system does not have proper filtering capabilities, the microscopic problem is free to circulate throughout the home.

What are the signs of pet-related air quality problems?

Pet allergens cause a wide range of problems including running or stuffy nose, red and sore eyes, and – in cases of extreme sensitivity – asthma and other respiratory issues. An allergic reaction can also cause skin conditions such as rashes, hives, or eczema.

What can I do if I suspect air quality problems?

Do you notice that your symptoms get worse while at home or after sleeping through the night? This may be a telltale sign of poor indoor air quality. If this is the case, seek a licensed professional to conduct a mold and air quality test. This will help determine problems as well as identify solutions to resolve issues.

Contact us to learn more about our residential air quality testing services!

The Importance of Mold Testing After Water Leak or Flooding

Mold resulting from flooded basement

Mold resulting from flooded basement

When water has penetrated a structure, the need for a specialist to test for mold is imperative especially if the structure did not dry within 48 hours. Study after study has shown that particular molds cause both short-term and long-term health issues.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently posted mold prevention strategies discussing the necessity to test structures for mold after a major flood or intrusion of water. The link below provides an in-depth look into why mold prevention is critical to avoid long-term health effects. The document also states, “Numerous species of mold cause infection through respiratory exposure. In general, persons who are immunosuppressed are at increased risk for infection from mold.”

Typically once a specialist detects mold, specific steps are necessary in ensuring no further contamination occurs. For example, mold testing after water leak or flooding is important as molds grow very quickly. Below are a few steps to expect when you begin remediation.

  1. Containment. The remediation company will isolate the area with plastic or a zip-wall type of structure. Unauthorized persons should not attempt to enter this barrier for safety reasons. This training video provides detailed information on how to install a zip-wall.
  2. Removal. The company uses a bagging and removal process on any contaminated items that cannot be salvage or cleaned. Typically, porous items require removal if the water has remained beyond 48 hours. Large plastic bags can keep the mold-infested material from creating further contamination.
  3. Cleaning. The remediation company will use various remedies to clean mold from the structure. Wet vacuum, HEPA vacuum, damp wipe, and specialized cleaning material are the most common remedies to restore the property.

NC State University created a very comprehensive guide on mold remediation. However, this material is an informational guide to help lay persons understand the requirements to remediate mold. Consumers that have experienced a flooding situation should still seek professional advice when dealing with mold. Be wary of remediation companies offering free mold inspections. Companies that only deal in either testing or remediation are the best advocates because no underlying financial agenda exists. You can contact us if you find yourself in need of professional advice.

Attachments area

Mold Testing for Health Concerns — 3 Illnesses Caused by Mold

Mold growing in flooded Oneonta, NY basement.

Mold growing in flooded Oneonta, NY basement.

Mold is a silent and dangerous toxic microorganism. It can crop up without notice and create a myriad of health complications, and can often be ignored until the problem has become very serious. At Premier Mold Inspection and Testing, we offer mold testing for health concerns to identify and eradicate this dangerous environmental toxin from your dwelling or business.

Relatively unknown are the actual symptoms of mold exposure, as they seem commonplace, or resemble other, less serious, afflictions. Below are several illnesses that could plague you or your tenants, and how our company can help.

Sick Building Syndrome

Caused by poor ventilation systems and mold growing in areas with leaks or water damage, Sick Building Syndrome can affect anyone residing or working in a building with an older HVAC system. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, symptoms include allergic reactions, mood swings, exacerbated asthma symptoms, and fatigue. A moisture survey by a professional from our company, Premier Mold Inspection and Testing, can pinpoint where moisture can pose a significant risk of growing mold and causing these symptoms.

 

CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome)

CIRS, or Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, associated with exposure to water damaged structures, can severely affect the brain. Symptoms include memory problems, dizziness, and headaches, among progressively more serious complications as a result of prolonged exposure. Mold spores that cause these symptoms become exposed by air sampling and dust collection sampling procedures conducted by our company.

 

Hay Fever

Hay fever is a very common illness that plagues many people. Mold spores, mites, and pet dander can cause hay fever-like symptoms, such as fatigue, congestion, headaches, and respiratory inflammation. Since mold is not commonly associated with hay fever, symptoms can persist. With an inspection by a licensed professional from our New York based company, you can determine which steps are necessary to make your home or business safe again.

 

Contact us for more information on mold inspections, indoor air quality testing, and what Premier Mold Inspection and Testing can do for you.