Mold and Wet Basements - Survey
A Mold Survey is primarily a visual non-intrusive examination of a building to identify areas of moisture that may lead to mold or fungal growth. The survey report will contain recommendations regarding conditions reported and may contain recommendations for further evaluation by approprate industry professionals.
Also included in the report are suggestions for preventative measures that could potentially reduce the possibility of moisture issues and future mold conditions. We can help you put together a plan to handle the issues observed, as we have taken mold courses and attended seminars on mold as part of our continuing education commitments. Through these courses we have learned a great deal about mold...what it is, what causes it, and how to remove it.
The Environmental Protection Agency has this to say about mold: During a flood cleanup, the indoor air quailty in your home or office may appear to be the least of your problems. However, failure to remove contaminated materials and to reduce moisture and humidity can prosent serious long-term health risks. Standing water and wet materials are a breeding ground for microorganisms, such as viruses, bacteria, and mold. They can cause disease, trigger allergic reactions and continue to damage materials long after the flood.
The Mold Survey Process...
Interviews with the people who occupy the building are a key starting point. We develop a history of the building to include building issues and repairs, water leaks, and health problems. The water infiltration and repair history of a building helps us to determine which initial areas may warrant closer inspection.
Visual Survey of the building is conducted next. We inspect the exterior and interior of the building to determine if you have current or previous moisture infiltration issues. We can also determine if you have moisture or condensation conditions within the home that are not caused by exterior moisture infiltration. We determine if the condition of the home and the care it has been given (or lack thereof) are contributing to mold growth or the potential for future mold growth. We inspect the home for visible mold growth.
Comprehensive Moisture Survey of the home is also conducted using specialized equipment. Baseline moisture readings are collected from building materials in areas without a history of water damage. Moisture readings are then taken at potential problem areas and compared to the baseline moisture readings. Moisture content readings are an integral part of the process and are used in development of a repair plan and if needed, a remediation protocol.
Mold sampling is not part of a mold survey. Only an inspection is done with recommendations for sampling to be completed, if needed, by the appropriate professionals.
Testing Or Sample For Mold
Hate to be so obvious but...if you smell mold or see mold...it's there and you've got it!
According to the Environmental Protection Association, "In most cases, if visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary. Keep in mind that air sampling for mold provides information only for the moment in time in which the sampling occurred, much like a sapshot." Money spent on sampling in these situations may be better spent on cleanup and repair unless you really want to know what kind of mold it may be.
The EPA also states "sampling for mold should be conducted by professionals who have specific experience in designing mold sampling protocols, sampling methods and interpreting results. For someone without experience, sampling results will be difficult to interpret. Experience in interpretation of results is essential."
The American Industrial Hygenists Association also recommends against testing for mold and recommends that "looking for evidence for water damage and visible mold growth should be your first step. Testing for mold is expensive, and you should have a clear reason for doing so. In addition, there are no standards for acceptable levels of mold in the indoor environment. When testing is done, it is usually to compare the levels and types of mold spores found inside the home with those found outdoors. If you know you have a mold problem, it is more important to spend time and resources getting rid of the mold and solving the moisture problems causing the moldy conditions".
In a report by the Center for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov/mold/faqs.htm#test), it says "Generally, it is not necessary to identify the species of mold growing in a residence, and CDC does not recommend routine sampling for molds. Current evidence indicates that allergies are the type of diseases most often associated with molds. Since the susceptibility of individuals can vary greatly either because of the amount or type of mold, sampling and culturing are not reliable in determining your health risk. If you are susceptible to mold and mold is seen or smelled, there is a potential health risk, therefore, no matter what type of mold is present, you should arrange for its removal. Furthermore, reliable sampling for mold can be expensive and standards for judging what is and what is not an acceptable or tolerable quantity of mold have not been established."
What Does Mold Need to Grow?
Molds are found in virtually every environment and can be detected both indoors and outdoors year round. Mold needs water to grow. Mold also needs food, oxygen and a temperature between 40 degrees and 100 degrees F. Mold growth is encouraged by warm and humid conditions. Outdoors they can be found in shady, damp areas or places where leaves or other vegetation is decomposing. Indoors they can be found where humidity levels are high, such as basements or showers.
In buildings, as far as food sources for mold, this can include wood, insulation, OSB, drywall, carpeting, clothing, paper and even dirt. Mold can even digest some synthetic materials such as adhesives and paints.
Where Does the Water/Moisture Come From?
There are many possible sources of moisture affecting buildings. Not all moisture problems are caused by water entering from the outside. There are also many things on the inside that can contribute to moisture problems. The following are just some possible sources of moisture.
Problems with exterior grading
Landscaping and drainage issues
Flooding and water seepage
Missing downpsouts and extensions
Improperly installed synthetic stucco (EIFS)
Improperly installed siding materials
Improper or missing flashings
Improperly installed roofing materials
Overflow from tubs, sinks or toilets
Firewood stored indoors
Improper venting of kitchen and bathroom areas
Improper venting of combustion appliances
Venting clothes dryers to the interior
Line drying clothes indoors
Showering and bathing
Damp basement or crawlspace
Air leaks in your home
Call us to discuss your particular situation and if you would like, we would be happy to make arrangements to come and visit you and to put our years of experience to work for you. There are solutions to mold problems. Before you spend your hard earned money on a mold "remediation" contractor who only makes money if he finds "something" wrong or before you hire an insurance adjustor who will run-up your deductible on your insurance policy, Please keep in mind that we are totally independent and work for you as your consultant on a fee only basis.
If you decide you really want the air within your building actually "Tested" then please do give us a call and we can make arrangements based on your needs for this additional specialized service.