Advanced Drying Methods Will Save Time and Money

With any sort of water leak or intrusion the groundwork for damage is laid down within minutes, as moisture quickly soaks in too deeply for natural evaporation to remove it fast enough.  Mold, warping wood, and disintegrating drywall can get started in as little as 24 hours and continue for weeks.  But by beginning immediately, applied structural drying technicians together with the latest in equipment can prevent most (if not all) secondary damage, greatly reducing the cost and delays of water damage restoration.  They’ll thoroughly dry the structure, and may provide drying in place services for the building contents as well.

Drying The Structure

Certification as an applied structural drying technician requires specific coursework, hands-on experience, and ongoing education.  Topics include not only how to identify signs of hidden water damage and dry the building but technical topics as well such as how different wet structural materials behave, microbiology, psychometrics, ventilation and air movement, and much more. That way they understand what’s going on and what might happen next.

Industry-specific drying equipment is also critical in ending those weeks of progressive deterioration.  A modern arsenal includes high-capacity pumps, high-performance surface water extraction vacuums, refrigerant dehumidifiers, specialized air movers, purpose-built dryers, and sensitive moisture-measuring instruments.  A full line of gear also includes thermal foggers, ozone generators, and/or hydroxyl generators to neutralize mold and bacterial odors throughout the building all at once.

So an applied structural drying expert’s knowledge and experience work together along with state-of-the-art equipment to block as much additional damage as possible.  That rescues more belongings and greatly reduces the cost and time it takes for repairs, returning your life back to normal all the sooner.  In extreme situations an advanced drying system can prevent structural damage and the huge costs and disruptions of demolition and reconstruction for major mold removal and water damaged areas.

Drying Building Contents

With prompt professional drying and cleaning, carpet, upholstered furniture, and other building contents can often be rescued.  But there’s been a bit of controversy in our industry as to the best overall approach to the drying process — pack out versus drying in place.

Pack Out

After significant flooding pack out services remove possessions from the damp and contaminated environment for treatment off-site.  That speeds restoring the building and allows the use of equipment not easily moved to the home or business.  But it does add the costs and delays of packing, unpacking, repacking, and unpacking again.  Plus creating and tracking a detailed inventory all along the way.

Drying In Place

With recent advancements in equipment and techniques drying in place is now practical in many situations.  After surface water extraction, dehumidifiers may have enough capacity to dry out the structure and its contents at the same time.  In some cases it may not even be necessary to remove carpet and pad with in-place drying.  There’s also equipment specifically designed for drying hardwood floors in place, avoiding the major costs and disruptions of complete replacement.

Our Conclusion

It takes a well-trained drying technician with hands on experience to determine if in-place drying is appropriate.  And all the right tools & equipment to make it work.  There are two key factors.  First, measurements of moisture content needs to show that drying can be achieved quickly enough.  Second, if there is a biohazard contamination (water Categories 2 or 3, formerly called gray and black) if must also be possible to thoroughly disinfect an item for drying in place.

 

 

Mold Basics

You’ve probably been hearing more and more about mold problems.  That’s not some fad or industry promoting itself; there are two very good reasons behind it.  First, medical experts have come to realize that mold contributes to or causes many more health issues than previously thought.  Second, recently constructed buildings are more energy-efficient.  As part of that, they’re “tighter” with far less outside air coming in through door and window seals as well as other construction details.  That makes it more likely for excess indoor humidity to build up, and that’s all mold really needs to grow.

It’s quite reasonable for you to take care of small outbreaks yourself, but you need to learn the right way of doing that and understand when calling in a professional is necessary.  But first, let’s understand a little about mold itself.

mold

About Mold

Mold is a particular type of fungus that grows in long multicelled filaments.  It’s that fuzzy stuff you see on stale bread and other foods.  And sometimes on your walls and ceilings.  There are about 1,000 different species common in the United States and some 100,000 worldwide.  Mold growth doesn’t need any light.  It simply feeds off of dissolved nutrients.  Many building materials such as plywood, paneling, drywall, and wood framing are great food sources as are fabric, paper, carpeting, and carpet padding.  So it really only really needs a bit of moisture to get going, and that can happen in total darkness.

How it Spreads

Mold reproduces through thousands and even millions of tiny spores. Invisibly tiny they travel on the smallest of air currents.  They’re common just about everywhere outdoors and easily make their way indoors to just about any location imaginable.  Spores are highly resilient.  They can survive all sorts of drying and other conditions while they wait for the right conditions to start growing.

A colony can flourish in as little as 24 hours after moisture becomes present.  Or it may take one to two weeks to really get going.  Although temperatures from 77 to 86 deg F are ideal for most species, mold growth can occur at anywhere from 40 to 100 deg. F.  That’s pretty much year-round in Orange County and most of Southern California.  Besides moisture problems in the bath, since water vapor can condense inside walls, crawl spaces, and other building cavities you could have a major outbreak completely hidden from view.

Mold Problems

Those fuzzy blotches are ugly, and are usually accompanied by a musty smell.  Mold also gradually damages building materials and if it goes on long enough can even lead to structural damage.  But its impact on human health (as well as that of pets) is its biggest hazard.  All species release allergens and irritants that can lead to a runny nose, sinus congestion, headaches, eye/nose/skin irritations, coughing or breathing problems.  Often mere annoyances such symptoms shouldn’t be ignored as they can lead to respiratory infections and breathing problems, especially among seniors and children.

You’ve probably heard about infamous black mold creating toxic conditions and even rendering buildings uninhabitable.  But not all black molds are toxic, and certain species of other colors also release mycotoxins that with prolonged exposure can lead to problems as serious as life-threatening and permanent organ damage.

Mold Testing

If you suspect you have a mold problem but can’t spot anything obvious, or if you’ve had any degree of water damage, calling a professional company for an inspection is a good idea.  They’ll perform a detailed visual evaluation that should include lifting carpet and perhaps wall paper, moving furniture, and having a look inside air ducts.  They may also use infrared cameras or moisture meters to check for damp spots.  They may even drill a small and easily patched hole in the wall to use a borescope to look inside.

Many experts advise that if an outbreak is found there’s no need for mold testing.  Simply proceed with mold removal, following all the precautions you would if you knew that a toxic species was present.  If there’s odors or health concerns with no visible signs, then taking samples and lab testing them is the next step in mold remediation.  There are several types of samples: air (via filters), bulk materials, surface, and swabbing.  No single one covers everything so a pair of samples are usually taken.  Test results will indicate things such as the species found and a count of mold spores in the sample.  Surprisingly, there’s no federal standards for acceptable levels.

Mold testing is actually more common after mold abatement work in order to test that removal was successful and levels aren’t in excess of those outdoors.

Next Time

In our next post we’ll talk about the mold removal process itself as well as how to prevent its growth in the first place.  Until then, here’s a great reference to learn more about the basics:  https://www.epa.gov/mold/ten-things-you-should-know-about-mold.

 

3 Reasons Why You Should Clean Up Mold Right Away

It’s easy to put off home maintenance, especially when it’s “just” a matter of a few fuzzy spots in the bath, kitchen, laundry room, or basement.  But what you see could be simply a clue to a much bigger problem of hidden mold that’s completely out of sight.  Even a small area of a toxic variety can still pose serious health problems for you and your family.  And in business situations, it’s the owner’s legal responsibility to protect workers and the public alike from such hazards.  So it’s much more important than appearance or mold damage to the building.

About Mold

MoldThere are thousands of different species of all different colors, but all are a type of fungi.  They don’t need light to grow (actually preferring dim and dark places) — just moisture, a few dissolved nutrients, and moderate to cool temperatures.  When threatened by dryness or a lack of food they spread by producing spores.  Mold spores are tiny, almost invisible, and float great distances on the tiniest of air currents.  They’re just about everywhere outdoors… and indoors, just waiting for the right conditions to grow.

The first signs of mold problems may be small fuzzy growths around the tub, shower, or anywhere moisture lingers.  Pretty much the same as what grows on stale bread and old food in the fridge.  But an outbreak may be entirely inside a wall or above the ceiling in the case of a roof or plumbing leak, underneath carpeting after incomplete drying from a spill, or within a damp crawlspace.  In that case, your only indication may be a musty odor.  Or the signs of the mold may be seemingly unconnected health problems.  Those include allergies and allergy-like symptoms such as eye, nose, and throat irritations as well as prolonged flu-like symptoms such as headaches and fatigue.

Those 3 Reasons to Remove Mold Immediately

Those 3 Reasons to Remove Mold Immediately

Even if you just suspect there might be a problem with mold in your home or place of business it’s important to find out for sure, and to take swift action if it’s indeed present.  Here are the 3 main reasons to do so without delay.

#1:  Health Problems

The common symptoms caused by mold spores and the contaminants that molds release may seem like a minor nuisance, but why put up with them?  More importantly, they can trigger asthma attacks and lead to upper respiratory infections, especially for children and the elderly.  But the Number 1 Issue is that many species are toxic.  That includes the infamous black mold, but toxic varieties have other colors as well.  Prolonged exposure can lead to organ damage and other life-threatening or permanent conditions.

#2:  Mold Damage to the Building

Mold growth works its way into porous building materials such as wood, plaster, and gypsum board.  There it causes progressive deterioration such as discoloration and weakening.  Painting, even with a “kills” blocker, hides the problem but doesn’t stop it.  Proper mold remediation requires replacing those materials.  So the more time mold has to spread the more mold damage repair costs you’ll likely be facing.  Plus you want your home or business site to be sound and attractive, and an untreated mold problem can be a huge complication in a real estate transaction.

#3:  It Can Quickly Become Much Worse

When moisture and temperatures are just right mold can grow and spread at an incredible rate.  That can suddenly leave you unable to occupy a room or the entire building until a professional mold removal service has completed its work followed by major repairs and even reconstruction.  Don’t forget that with hidden mold the problem could already be much bigger than you think.

Getting Help on Mold Removal

The EPA has great resources on dealing with mold in your home at https://www.epa.gov/mold/mold-cleanup-your-home, including the necessary precautions and step-by-step instructions to remove mold yourself.  But they also discuss how for areas larger than 10 square feet there are important reasons to have a professional remove mold.  You should only hire a company specifically licensed for mold remediation, with a permanent local presence and a strong reputation.