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How Undetected Mold Affects Your Health

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If you’ve noticed an increase in asthma attacks or are experiencing unexplained breathing or respiratory problems, there may be mold lurking in your home. According to the November 2021 issue of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, exposure to mold can make asthma worse, trigger allergic reactions and infants living in moldy homes were 3x more likely to develop asthma by the age of 7. Learn more about how mold can affect your health and how to get rid of it.

What is Mold and Where it Comes From

Mold is part of the fungus family. A microorganism presenting in the form of spores, it is found everywhere whether indoors or outside. In order to grow, mold needs moisture and oxygen. Wet leaves and soil or dead/decaying organic matter are prime spots for mold. Outdoors, mold plays its part in the eco-cycle by breaking down this dead/decaying organic matter. Inside your home, however, mold causes damage and triggers allergic reactions and other health issues. With the right damp conditions, mold can grow on virtually anything from walls, windows, carpet, clothing, and food. Mold reproduces and spreads by releasing spores into the air. Once the spores are released into the air, they “feed” on whatever they land on and ultimately, whatever the mold lands on is destroyed.

Health Risks Due to Mold

Mold primarily affects the respiratory system. Those with pre-existing breathing conditions such as allergies as asthma are at high risk for increased health risks. Mold exposure is also dangerous for infants and the elderly. Health indicators that mold may be present in your home include:
  • An increase in allergy symptoms such as a rash, runny nose, watery eyes and sneezing
  • An increase in the onset or severity of asthma attacks
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

Eliminating Mold

  • Proper ventilation is a key factor to prevent the growth and spread of mold. A dehumidifier, fans and sump pumps all help circulate air and dry out damp areas throughout the home.
  • Repair all leaks and sources of standing water or damp conditions in the home. Mold needs moisture to thrive.
  • Clean mold with a solution of water and bleach to kill and prevent mold from spreading and causing damage to its host, which can be anything from food to fabrics to walls.
  • Odor is also a key indicator that there may be a moisture problem in your home. Spray wet surfaces and musty-smelling spaces with an anti-fungal spray to sanitize and deodorize the areas prior to drying.
While mold is not a health issue for everyone, living in a home with active, growing mold and breathing in the spores on a daily basis is not healthy. In Sonoma County, count on the professional mold remediation team at RCS for help, recommendations and an action plan to eliminate and prevent mold in your home.

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Solving the Mystery of Recurring Moisture Issues in Basements and Crawl Spaces

When it seems like every time it rains or gets humid outside, the lower level and crawl space in your home is damp, full of moisture and maybe even standing water. Identifying the source of moisture and why it continues to be a recurring problem in these same areas is the first step to eliminating the problem for good.

Basements and Crawl Spaces = High Risk Areas

After or even during a rainstorm, you probably head straight to the basement to check for water. Despite taking preventative measures, you continue to combat moisture issues. The common denominator for these moisture problems is water. The goal is to solve the mystery of how it’s getting inside your home. If water enters the basement and/or crawl space and has no way to escape or dry out, moisture and dampness is going to continue to be your issue. Unresolved moisture issues ultimately lead to bigger issues such as mold, odor, structural damage and pest infestations.

Breaking Down Potential Water Sources in High Risk Areas

Basements

If your gutters are failing, water slides down the sides of your home, pools around your foundation and gets inside. Make sure your gutters are clean, in good working order and downspouts direct water well away from the foundation of your home. If you notice cracks in the basement walls, it’s another place where water is able to get inside. If there is carpet or cardboard boxes on the floor, the water will soak right in, remain wet and become moldy and musty. Leaky pipes and faucets in the basement are another source for moisture and standing water problems. Old basement windows may very well have broken or cracked seals allowing water to enter the home.

Crawl Spaces

Many of the same moisture issues that affect the basement also affect crawl spaces. Excess moisture or water in crawl spaces may result from standing groundwater, failing gutters, faulty grading around the foundation, leaking pipes or leaky windows. The bigger problem with crawl spaces is that you don’t check those spaces often, which gives water a chance to stand and pool without ever drying out. Too much water in a crawl space causes damage to any insulation or mechanicals stored there. Standing water in a crawl space is a breeding ground for all kinds of insects or rodents, in addition to making conditions perfect for mold.

Call a Professional

When you’ve checked all the areas, repaired what you could see yet continue to experience water issues, call a professional to check the basement and crawl space areas. Keep in mind that dampness and moisture problems lead to bigger problems for you and your home down the road. A professional service can find the source of the water, thoroughly dry affected areas and seal/drain the crawl spaces to prevent further problems and damage. In Santa Rosa and surrounding Sonoma County areas, call RCS for expert moisture prevention recommendations, services and a free estimate.

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Benefits of a Clean Crawlspace

cleaning crawlspace

A crawlspace is an area between the ground and first floor of a home. Typically, it’s a hollow area usually not higher than 3’ or just enough space to crawl through. Crawlspaces should insulated and can be used to store mechanicals of your home like plumbing, electrical, HVAC ducts.

Disadvantages of a Crawl Space

While a crawlspace provides support and acts as a buffer between your home and the ground, there are distinct disadvantages especially if not maintained regularly. Crawlspaces are not counted as livable space and not suitable for storage. Because of its small size and exposure to outdoor elements, a crawlspace is not the place to store anything that you don’t want exposed to the elements. Water and moisture problems: Excessive moisture and standing water are serious problems in a crawlspace. If not cleaned and dried, the mechanicals of your home can incur damage, and energy bills will rise due to HVAC and electrical not working efficiently. Excessive moisture causes musty odors which will infiltrate your home. If you notice a foul sewer smell in your home, it may be due to water or sewer damage coming from the crawlspace. Mold: Where there is excessive moisture and water, there is mold. Once mold begins to grow in the crawlspace, mold spores become airborne and travel into your home. This puts your family at risk for allergies, asthma attacks and other respiratory issues. Pest infestations: Crawlspaces make excellent homes for all kinds of pests and rodents. The dark, damp area complete with insulation gives mice, rats and other unwelcome rodents an invitation to live there. Where rodents live: there is excrement. This smell will seep into your home, and it’s not just unpleasant, but potentially dangerous to inhale.

How to Clean Your Crawl Space

If unable to fit in the crawlspace or are unsure of how to clean it properly, call a local professional to manage the cleanup for you. Certified Restoration Specialists will remove wet/moldy items stored in the crawlspace, clean/dry any water or sewer damage and replace moisture and/or vapor barriers. The entire area will be sanitized. Any damaged insulation is replaced, after a thorough vacuuming. All pest/rodent droppings are removed, and a pest control company may be brought in. Plumbing, electrical or HVAC referrals may also be necessary to repair/replace any damage in those areas. Other issues are addressed based on the condition and assessment of the crawlspace. Benefits of a Clean Crawl Space Once your crawlspace has been cleaned, restored and sanitized, you’ll notice the benefits right away. Safety of House Structure: After cleanup, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing there are no pests or water/sewer issues causing damage to the structure of your home. Improved Energy Efficiency: New insulation and vapor/moisture barriers ensure your mechanicals are safe and running at maximum capacity. Dry Conditions: A dry crawlspace prevents odor and mold from affecting the air quality inside your home. Pest Control: A clean, dry crawlspace discourages pests and rodents from living under your home. This prevents bacteria from pest excrement, odor and rodent damage to insulation and mechanicals. Improved Health: By far the most important benefit, a clean crawlspace prohibits mold spores, bacteria and airborne allergens from negatively affecting your health. To reap the benefits of a clean crawlspace, contact the certified professionals at RCS. We will work with you during the cleanup process and show you how to prevent future problems. RCS proudly serves the Santa Rosa, Sonoma County and surrounding North Bay areas.

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How is Drywall Installed?

drywall installation sonoma county

Drywall is commonly found in most homes and is used to not only insulate your living space but make it more flame-resistant. If you’re interested in learning more about this material and how it’s installed, keep reading. You’ll discover some interesting facts about it and more about its installation process.

What is Drywall?

Drywall is a flat piece of gypsum plaster that’s stuffed with compacted paper. Because of its rigidity and durability, it’s frequently used to cover walls. This material comes in various styles. Some types you’ll find are:
  • Standard
  • Mold-resistant
  • Fire-resistant
  • Soundproof

Signs You Need New Drywall

While this material is heavy-duty it can run into some problems. Here are a few signs to watch out for that indicate it’s time to get it replaced.
  • It’s discolored
  • It’s buckling or peeling
  • It has cracks
  • Its nails are popping out of place

How to Install Drywall

To hang drywall, you first need to measure the area you plan to install it in. These dimensions will help you figure out the right length and thickness the panels need to be. Once this is done, take the correctly measured pieces and lay them against the wall’s frame. You’ll then need to grab a drill and create holes in the middle and around the edges of the drywall sections. Make sure the holes are about 16 inches away from each other. Otherwise, you risk it buckling. You can then line drywall on the wall’s frame and tighten screws in the holes to secure it in place. After the first layer is on the wall you’ll want to add another for extra protection. This layer can be applied similarly to the first one. In some cases, you might need to use a utility knife to carve the drywall so it fits around windows and outlets. This process needs to be done carefully as even the slightest imperfection will show.

Should I Apply Drywall Myself?

Installing drywall can be a time-consuming and difficult task. Unless you’ve done it before, it’s probably best to use professional services. They can get the job done faster and are trained in cutting the pieces so they fit perfectly around tricky areas. Drywall is found in almost every structure because it does a good job of protecting them. If you notice that you're having problems, contact RCS. Our reconstruction team will investigate them and determine whether it would be beneficial to have them replaced.

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5 Signs Your Plumbing Lines Are Damaged

Bad Odor

Many times, we don’t know when our plumbing lines are broken until it’s too late. But, there are a few ways you can easily determine when there might be a concern. This post will explain more about what causes this problem and a few indications that you might need to get them repaired.

What Causes Damaged Pipes?

There are many things that could result in ruined pipes. A common culprit is pests. Often, rats will chew into them to not only sharpen their teeth but find a water source. Some might also use the pipes as a tunnel so they can get to different sections of your home. Another issue is incorrect debris being flushed down the toilet or sink. Some people put grease, paper towels, or food scraps down them. While this might seem harmless at first, you’ll soon find that they can wear down the pipes and even create a blockage. If not caught, it could cause a backup in your sewer system. Your pipes might also be destroyed due to plant roots. Because your plumbing lines are connected to a septic system, if a tree or bush happens to wrap around the attached drain, it will create punctures. This won’t only break the pipe but cause the toxic debris to seep out.

5 Signs Your Plumbing Lines Need Repair

There are countless ways you can tell if you might need to get a professional to inspect your pipes. Here are some to watch out for.
  • Your home has a sudden musty or gas-like smell.
  • You notice an increase of pests around your home.
  • There are water puddles and moist areas in your living space.
  • You find that your drains aren’t working well.
  • There are cracks in your home’s foundation.

How to Protect Your Pipes

If you want to avoid this issue keep these tips in mind.
  • Do frequent inspections of your home. This can help you catch potential leaks and damages before they become a bigger problem.
  • Make sure your plumbing lines are properly insulated. If they’re constantly exposed to extreme temperatures, you risk them cracking.
  • Watch what you flush down the toilet and sink.
Keeping your pipes healthy is crucial if you want to avoid pricey issues. But, if you suspect you might have a broken plumbing line and need it to be fixed, RCS can help. Our reconstruction specialists will get to work identifying the root cause and quickly replacing the damaged pieces to prevent further problems.

What Is Smoke Damage?

fire fighters

Fires can cause a variety of problems. However, even when it’s put out, it can still create a lot of issues, including smoke damage. Because it’s so widespread and often hidden, this damage can be difficult to fix. Below is more about the dangers of smoke and how you can eradicate it.

What is Smoke Damage?

Smoke damage is an issue caused by exhaust from a fire. Unlike fire damage, smoke damage doesn’t burn items but rather coats them in thick soot. This not only causes the objects to turn black but can give them an unpleasant odor.

Why is it a Problem?

Smoke damage isn’t only unsightly but incredibly dangerous. This issue can create a thick mixture of various gases. As it settles into the air and on items, you’ll end up breathing this substance in. This will end up irritating your lungs and causing them to become inflamed. It could also irritate your skin and cause allergic reactions.

Signs You Have Smoke Damage

This problem isn’t just soot on the wall after a fire. It can cause many other issues, some of which include:
  • Rusting metal hardware
  • Dizziness
  • Light discoloration on your ceilings and floors

How Smoke Damaged is Fixed

Smoke damage can be an exhausting thing to deal with. But, it can be treated with professional help. Air Circulation: One of the most important things to do after smoke damage occurs is to ensure there is adequate air circulation. Proper ventilation will remove odors and particles to help refresh the space. Vacuuming: Experts have special vacuums that can quickly remove soot from fabric while also neutralizing odors. These will help get various soot layers off of the material while preventing further damage to it. Chemical Sponges: To fully remove smoke damage, chemical sponges will sometimes be used. These are dipped into a special solution that dissolves left-behind debris.

Can I Remove Smoke Damage Myself?

You can remove some parts of smoke damage, but for a deep clean, you’ll need the help of a professional. But, if you want to get to work cleaning portions of it there are a few ways you can do so. These include:
  • Dipping a sponge into a warm soapy mixture and dabbing it on the area.
  • Sprinkling baking soda over affected pieces to remove odors.
  • Open your windows to encourage air flow.
Smoke damage is a serious problem that can cause both structural concerns and health issues if not fixed. If you need smoke damage removed, RCS can help. Our experts will get to work quickly cleaning the area to make sure it’s safe to be in again.

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