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How to Prevent Moldy Gutters

moldy gutters

Mold found anywhere in or around your home is not a welcome sight. When it comes to your gutters, the conditions don’t get much better for mold to grow and thrive. Find out what causes mold to grow in your gutters and what you can do to prevent it.

Why Mold Grows in Your Gutters

If you have older gutters, you’ll notice that, many times, they are put together in pieces and sections. They are open to the elements and there is typically always moisture present. All sorts of things land in the gutter from leaves, twigs, seeds, pollen, and dirt. As leaves and other yard debris sits in the gutters and stays wet, it’s all mold needs to settle in and grow. Once mold takes hold in your gutters, it’s possible that it can grow and attach itself not only to your roof and fascia, but to your downspouts, siding, and exterior surfaces of your home. Eventually, this leads to damage and destruction of your home.

Preventing Mold Growth in Your Gutters

Once yard debris bunches up and blocks the flow of water through the downspouts, there’s nowhere for the water to go. Since there’s no real ventilation to dry up wet debris and gutters, mold takes root and spreads. To prevent all of this, it’s very important to clean and maintain your gutters a couple of times per year in spring and fall.

Clear the Gutters

Remove anything that’s been wet and sitting in the gutters, including rotting yard debris that blocks water flow.

Clean the Gutters

Once the gutters have been cleared, they need to be cleaned. You can clean with a DIY solution by mixing 1 cup of bleach with a teaspoon of dish soap in a quart of water. Using a scrub brush, pour the solution into the gutters and clean thoroughly. Dip the brush into the solution and scrub the outside of the gutters, fascia and any other areas that are black with visible mold. You can also purchase a commercial gutter cleaner that attaches to your hose and can be sprayed directly into the gutters to clean up and kill any existing mold.

Gutter Repairs

Inspect your gutters during spring and fall for leaks, anything growing in the gutters, and any visible branches, bulging or pooling water. Noticeable leaks or cracks need to be repaired immediately because excess water allowed to drip down the exterior or pool in a gutter or downspout encourages mold growth. Active, spreading mold can and will cause expensive and potentially extensive damage to your home.

Conclusion

While clogged gutters cause damage on their own, remember that growing mold left unchecked can cause damage to your gutters, roof, fascia and exterior of your home. For help getting a mold problem under control, call the experts at RCS in Santa Rosa at 707-570-0555. We have the solutions to all of your mold issues.  

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How Mold Affects Your Pets

dog sleeping

In recent years, there’s been more evidence pointing to the negative impact mold has on your physical health, especially those with compromised respiratory and/or immune systems. Negative responses to mold include anything from red, watery eyes to a full-blown asthma attack and everything in between. While it’s easy to see how humans respond to mold, what if any affect does mold have on your pets? Here are some ways pets may experience exposure to mold.

Exposure

There are several ways your pets can be exposed to toxic mold.

Breathing

Mold spores are airborne and undetectable to the eye. Just like humans can breathe in airborne spores, it’s just as easy for a pet to breath them in, too. The smaller the pet, the less inhalation of mold spores it takes to make them sick or suffer other physical reactions.

Ingestion

Especially in humid climates or indoor conditions, mold spores can settle and grow in your pet’s food. All it takes to ingest unhealthy mold spores is for them to lap up the exposed pet food. Pets have a tendency to get into the garbage and if they do, can easily eat moldy food or other items in the garbage with active, growing mold. Another way for pets to ingest mold is by grooming. As they lick their paws or clean their fur, any traces of mold spores in their fur picked up during the day is ingested by basic grooming practices.

Direct Contact

Because of their size and natural curiosity, pets may unintentionally spend time in areas where mold is more likely to grow. A litter box kept in a damp basement or a pet spending time in any mold-loving, dark, musty or humid space (like a crawl space) increases the risk of exposure to active growing mold.

Reactions

A reaction to mold exposure varies from pet to pet, much like it does in humans. Some pets may have more severe reactions than others. Typically, mold exposure shows up in three different ways:

Respiratory Symptoms

If your pet suffers from these respiratory symptoms, it’s possible they’ve been exposed to mold.
  • Watery eyes
  • Sneezing/coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lethargy/fatigue

Allergic Symptoms

Allergic symptoms to mold exposure may include:
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose/nasal discharge
  • Sneezing/coughing
  • Skin rash or sores
  • Excessive itching/scratching/biting/licking
  • Fur loss/bald spots from excessive scratching and biting

Toxic Exposure Symptoms

If your pet becomes obviously or seriously ill, they may be experiencing a reaction to toxic (black) mold exposure:
  • Lethargy/fatigue
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Shaking/tremors/convulsions/seizures
  • Loss of normal functioning (diarrhea)
  • Behavioral changes

Solutions

If you notice these symptoms or reactions in your pets, take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible for a thorough exam and diagnosis. Be sure to mention to the vet that mold exposure may be a possibility for their symptoms. The goal is always to prevent mold from developing in the first place to keep your family and pets safe from the physical effects of mold exposure. Some ways to prevent mold in your home:
  • Keep all areas of the home dry by using a dehumidifier, fixing leaky pipes and repairing areas where excessive condensation forms (windows, doors).
  • Seal drafty windows and doors to keep moisture and humidity from getting inside.
  • Check for musty smells, which indicates mold growth.
  • Clean and treat moldy areas
  • Make sure home is well ventilated.
If mold keeps coming back, you experience flooding or encounter problems with excessive humidity and moisture, call in a professional mold remediation company for an inspection and mold treatment recommendations.

Conclusion

Exposure to mold can be a very serious health risk for both you and your pets.

While prevention is ideal, there is help if you have a new or recurring mold issue in your home. Don’t wait until you or your pets experience mold exposure health symptoms. In Santa Rosa, call the professionals at RCS to schedule an inspection and a mold remediation plan customized for you.

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Connecting the Dots Between Mold and Your Emotional Well Being

man thinking

More than likely, you’ve experienced mood swings during an illness. When you don’t feel good, you’re not feeling your best either physically or emotionally. Usually, it’s understood that if you aren’t feeling 100%, it’s temporary and your mood will get better as soon as you feel better physically. But what if you are suffering from chronic emotional mood swings or issues and you’re not sure why? It’s possible that exposure to toxic mold may be playing a part for a downturn in your emotional well-being.

Mold Toxicity Symptoms

You are probably familiar with some of the physical symptoms of mold exposure like watery eyes, a sore throat, sneezing and trouble breathing. Along with the physical symptoms, exposure to toxic mold may also cause changes that affect your emotional well-being, too. Symptoms from mold exposure vary by individual and the symptoms are just as unique as the person. Here are some of the ways toxic mold can negatively affect your emotional well-being:
  • Mood Swings
  • Memory fog, focus, confusion
  • Insomnia, chronic fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
Because other chronic conditions have similar symptoms, you should see a medical professional for a complete physical to rule out other serious illnesses. Since mold produces spores which contain microscopic mycotoxins and when inhaled, not only cause obvious physical symptoms, but emotional/mental health symptoms as well.

Testing for Toxic Mold Exposure

At this time, how mold spores and mycotoxins affect the central nervous system and emotional health is extremely hard to determine. Individual symptoms and reactions to mold exposure can range from mild to severe and are varied. Although there are no medical procedures to test specifically for toxic mold exposure, you are at higher risk if you have allergies, asthma, other respiratory conditions or suffer from a compromised immune system. If you see visible mold or smell mold, you’ve more than likely been exposed. From there, you may be suffering from the effects of breathing in mold spores and mycotoxins over time. Some potential testing for mold exposure include:
  • Allergy test specifically for mold.
  • Blood test showing an elevated count of antibodies.
  • Skin prick test in which a doctor pricks the skin, exposes the skin to allergens and watches for a reaction like a rash, hives or bumps.

Staying Healthy

If you can’t shake your symptoms or wonder if mold may be partly responsible for mood swings and a noticeable, unexplained difference in your emotional health, see a doctor for a thorough medical checkup. Explain your symptoms and how they may be related to toxic mold exposure. If you suspect mold is the problem or making you feel worse, take steps to eliminate your exposure. Cleaning up mold before it spreads and grows is important especially if you live a humid climate or notice damp areas in your home.
  • Wear protective gloves and a face mask.
  • Turn off the furnace or air conditioner to prevent the spread of airborne mold spores while cleaning.
  • Clean with either undiluted white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide or a commercial mold & mildew cleaner.
  • Saturate the moldy area with the cleaning solution to stabilize spores and prevent them from reaching other areas of your home.
  • Let the cleaning solution sit for 10-15 minutes to soak into the active mold.
  • Scrub the area with a brush until mold is removed, rinse and let air dry. You may need more than one application to completely remove the mold from showers and walls, so repeat as necessary.
  • Fix leaking pipes or water leaking from faucets, toilets, dishwashers, washing machines or any other area where a water leak is possible.
  • Run a dehumidifier in moist, damp spaces.
  • Add or improve existing ventilation.
If despite your best efforts, the mold has grown to concerning levels covering over 10 square feet or keeps coming back, call a professional mold remediation company to tackle the issue for good.

Conclusion

While exposure to black mold can lead to mild to severe physical and/or emotional health issues, it’s imperative to find its source and eliminate it once and for all. For fast, professional services and results, call the mold remediation experts at RCS in Santa Rosa.

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Renters, Landlords and Mold

couple with keys to house

There’s nothing more frustrating as a renter than dealing with a rental unit with mold issues. On the other hand, it’s frustrating for a landlord to deal with recurring mold issues and unhappy tenants. Here’s what you need to know about resolving mold problems for both renters and landlords.

Why Toxic Mold is a Concern

Black toxic mold is concerning because of all the health issues it causes and worsens. Especially susceptible are those suffering from upper respiratory issues including allergies and asthma. If you are exposed to toxic black mold, here are just some of the symptoms you may experience:
  • Watery, itchy eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing, coughing, wheezing
  • Sore throat
  • Shortness of breath, breathing difficulties
Mold grows and thrives in damp, humid spaces and is often found in areas like basements and attics. Poor ventilation makes matters even worse. Certain things can cause mold to grow in previously safe areas which can be anything from an undetected leaky pipe to a flood. It’s not just the visible mold that’s a problem, but also the tiny mold spores which are present on visible mold. These mold spores easily become airborne, breathed in and cause potential health issues. Mold can also cause property and structural damage, in addition to the presence of a strong, permeating musty odor.

Landlord Responsibilities

In California, legislation regarding the Toxic Mold Protection Act of 2001 was signed into law. Among disclosures and other things, the act requires all landlords provide their renters with a booklet on mold, which was available for distribution effective January 1, 2022. A landlord’s first and foremost responsibility is to take the effects of black mold seriously and take steps to properly remediate the mold. When presenting a lease to a tenant, the landlord should disclose any conditions that may lead to moldy conditions such as previous water damage or dampness, in addition to visible mold or a moldy smell. A landlord should be prepared to honestly answer any questions the tenant has about ventilation, moisture/humidity and plumbing in the building. The wet, rainy seasons in California and properties near water are susceptible for more humidity and conditions for mold. As a landlord, take advantage of some of the available tools for controlling humidity and discouraging mold:
  • Improve ventilation in areas with stagnant air or spaces lacking proper ventilation.
  • Use dehumidifiers to suck up the extra moisture and humidity in the air, helping to keep damp spaces dry.
  • Install a hygrometer to help keep tabs on humidity levels in the building, ideally keeping levels at 50% or less. As a bonus, since humidity attracts insects and pests, keeping levels down can help with pest control efforts, too.
  • Install exhaust fans in kitchens and bathroom to help remove excess moisture in these two high humidity areas.
  • Perform regular inspections, or ask renters to do so, to make sure there aren’t any leaks. Areas to check are under sinks, around faucet seals, toilets and dishwashers. Small undetected leaks can lead to pooling water and the higher risk for mold and other water damage issues.
  • Check out the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for further action and recommendations.

What You Can do as a Renter

If the mold problem is minor or even to keep up with things until a professional mold remediation company comes in, here are some steps you can take to keep your space free from lower air quality, property damage and make it healthier:
  • Close windows on hot, humid days.
  • Use exhaust fans in the bathroom while showering and in the kitchen while cooking.
  • Wipe showers/tile/walls (any areas with condensation) down after showering to remove excess moisture.
  • Keep bathroom door closed after showering to keep humidity from circulating through your space.
  • Avoid leaving wet clothes or towels on beds, furniture or in hampers.
If you’ve been trying to contact your landlord about mold-related issues in your rental with no response, you can reach out to the local building inspections or health department to report the them. When you signed the lease, the landlord agreed to provide what’s known as an “implied warranty of habitability,” which basically means you are going to get a space that’s suitable to live in without risks to your health and well-being. Some tenants may choose to withhold rent until the problem is resolved or take care of remediation efforts themselves and deduct costs from the agreed-upon rent, but that is risky. If you choose either of those options, it’s possible for you to face eviction or other legal action. Keeping yourself healthy and safe is priority one and hopefully, your landlord will agree and take preventative and on-going measures to keep the space free of mold. In some cases, the best course of action to combat inaction is to move to a healthier rental when you can.

Conclusion

Taking aggressive action to prevent conditions for mold growing and thriving in your rental unit or building goes a long way to keep both landlords and renters happy and healthy. In Sonoma County, call the experts at RCS to address all of your water removal and mold remediation needs.

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How to Get Rid of Mold on Windowsills

windows

During periods of heavy rain or seasonal changes that bring extra moisture, windowsills are one of the most susceptible areas for mold to grow.

Black mold is not only unattractive but can make existing lung and breathing such as asthma and allergies worse.

What’s more, if the mold stays on the windowsills for extended periods of time, it can damage and rot away the wood not only on the sills but around the entire frame of your windows.

Here are some ways you can keep on top of and prevent destructive mold on your windowsills.

Where Does Mold on Windowsills Come From?

Windowsills in bathrooms and kitchens are primary locations for mold growth. This is due to excess condensation that tends to form on the windows. Moisture is trapped and ultimately leaks down to rest on the bottom of the window and sills.

Condensation and extra moisture also affects the wood and window frames, which may be covered by blinds or other window treatments. This is why windowsills are the most noticeable areas of black mold.

If you leave your windows open to get some fresh air circulating throughout your home, but humidity or rain continue to leave windowsills damp, odds increase for mold growth.

If window seals are broken or your windows are old and drafty, it’s easy for moisture to get into these areas and create a perfect breeding ground for mold.

Watch high risk bathroom and kitchen windows for condensation and signs of mold, followed by Immediate clean up. These are keys to fighting off further mold growth and potential damage to window frames and sills.

Locate and Fix Causes of the Mold

The best way to combat mold growth on your windowsills is to find and correct the source of moisture.

Possible sources of excess moisture and condensation may be caused by:

  • Failing gutters, roof
  • Leaky pipes
  • Old, damaged windows
  • Excess humidity, moisture, condensation, steam
  • Improper air circulation, ventilation and/or airflow

Safety Precautions when Cleaning Mold on Windowsills

Because mold can cause or make health conditions worse, always wear protective clothing to cover as much skin as possible, eye protection, rubber gloves and a face mask or respirator.

Remember that when cleaning mold, mold spores become airborne which may cause discomfort and irritation to your eyes, skin and affect your lungs and breathing.

Cleaning Moldy Windowsills

While harsh commercial cleaning products and bleach work well to kill mold at the root, there are safer, more natural ways to effectively remove mold on smaller areas such as around the windowsills.

Vinegar

Due to the acidic nature of common white vinegar, it’s extremely effective in removing over 80% of various mold species at the root.

  • Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and spray entire area of mold. Don’t saturate the affected area, just spray generously enough to cover the mold.
  • Let stand for an hour to break down the mold and mold membrane.
  • Gently scrub the area with a brush and rinse with warm water.
  • Dry with a clean cloth and open window for a few minutes to let air dry.

Adding baking soda to the vinegar spray adds a power-boosting punch:

  • Mix equal amounts of vinegar and water with two parts baking soda until it forms a paste.
  • Brush the paste onto the moldy areas and let sit until paste is completely dry.
  • When dry, gently scrub area with a brush and rinse with warm water.
  • Wipe dry with a clean cloth and open window for a few minutes to air dry.

Natural Oils

Some natural oils such as tea tree oil, have an amazing level of anti-fungal and anti-bacterial components which kills mold at its source.

  • Mix together and generously spray (not saturate) the mold-infected area.
  • Let stand for a few hours or preferable, overnight.
  • Gently scrub area with a brush and rinse with warm water.
  • Wipe dry with a clean cloth and open window for a few minutes to air dry.

Prevention

The key to getting rid of mold is to prevent it from forming in the first place.

Here are some things to check and repair if mold on your windowsills keeps coming back:

  • Repair cracks, leaks, broken seals around your windows.
  • If high humidity is an issue in your home, use fans, air conditioning and dehumidifiers to keep humidity levels in check.
  • Run exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms to dry out excess moisture and condensation especially after showers or steamy cooking.
  • On breezy days, open windows for a few minutes to help keep things dry and improve fresh air flow inside your home.
  • Replace leaky or failing gutters and downspouts so water doesn’t drain down the house and pool inside window areas.

When to Call for Help

If the mold is contained to small areas (under 10 square feet) like windowsills, it’s OK for you to clean yourself while using proper safety precautions.

However, if the mold is a recurring problem or it spreads despite your best efforts, call in a mold remediation specialist for an inspection.

A professional mold remediation specialist can locate the potential causes of a recurring mold problem and has the ability to eliminate mold at its root.

Remember that if mold spores have spread around your home, it won’t take long for it to become a serious problem that becomes too much to handle.

Conclusion

When mold spreads or becomes a recurring issue in your home, don’t take chances with your safety and health.

In Sonoma County, call the mold remediation specialists at RCS. We are here to help you eliminate mold at its root.

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Is It Safe to Use Bleach to Clean Mold?

woman cleaning

For years now, bleach has been used to kill germs, disinfect and clean many surfaces in the home. But when you’re dealing with mold, is it the best option for cleaning? Read on to find out why bleach may not be your best or safest option to clean and kill mold.

Cleaning Mold

Mold is that nasty little fungus that grows in spaces where there’s darkness, dampness and moisture. Mold is not only unattractive, but if left untreated, it grows, spreads, stains and causes damage by eating away at structural components and furnishings in your home. It also worsens breathing and other pre-existing health conditions. Obviously, you want to clean up mold before it quickly begins on its destructive path. While many people immediately reach for the bleach to clean, disinfect and remove stains left behind by mold, you may want to think twice about bleach as your go-to cleaning option.

Using Bleach to Kill Mold

Bleach works really well to clean up mold on non-porous surface like sinks, tubs or tile. This is because the roots or mold membrane can’t penetrate non-porous surfaces and it’s fairly easy to remove, clean and disinfect the area. But when mold gets into porous surfaces like fabric, drywall or wood, the roots can and will spread deeper into the material to feed its growth. While you think that cleaning mold on the surface of porous surfaces has resolved your mold problem, all you’ve done is to wipe away what you can see on the surface. Bleach doesn’t kill off the deeper, spreading spores and mold roots that penetrate into porous materials like the structural components of your home. This explains why even though you’ve cleaned the visible surface mold with bleach, it can and will grow back with a vengeance because the roots are still alive and spreading.

The Health Risks of Bleach

If you’ve ever been in a confined space after cleaning with bleach, you know how strong and overpowering it smells. Inhaling bleach fumes causes irritation to your eyes and mucus membranes, while exposing sensitive skin to bleach can irritate and burn. Accidentally mixing bleach with other cleansers or ammonia-based products creates toxic chlorine gas which is what causes that burning or stinging sensation you may have experienced in your skin, nose, eyes and throat. For those with compromised immune or lung conditions, chlorine gas negatively affects breathing and lung function.

Why Bleach may not be the Best Option for Cleaning Mold

Some other concerns about using bleach to clean mold is that bleach is comprised primarily of about 5% sodium hypochlorite and water. Since water is what you want to eliminate to further prevent the spread of mold, spraying bleach on porous surfaces allows the water in bleach to absorb into porous materials. The porous materials soak up the water and feeds it to the mold root, which actually helps mold spread. Another concern is that since bleach removes color from fabrics, you cannot use bleach on furniture, draperies, clothing or cloth shower curtains. Bleach can also damage or discolor wood, drywall or other structural components due to its corrosive nature.

Effective Alternatives to Bleach

Before using bleach to clean, disinfect and most importantly kill mold at its root, reach instead for white vinegar or tea tree oil. These more natural and non-corrosive cleaners disinfect, kill mold and are safe, healthy alternatives to bleach.

Conclusion

When unsightly, unhealthy and recurring mold is a problem, call in the mold remediation experts at RCS. Serving Sonoma County since 1975, we can help identify, eliminate and most importantly, give you back your safe, healthy and mold-free home.

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