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Tag Archives: Fungus

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Mold and Mycotoxins

It’s no secret that there are many people whose health is negatively affected by mold.

From aggravated allergies to asthma and similar symptoms, eliminating mold in the home is a priority for restoring and maintaining respiratory health.

What you may not know is that there is a by-product of mold known as mycotoxins. Let’s take a look at what they are and what you can do to eliminate them.

Mold and Mycotoxins

To put it simply, mold is a fungus. It thrives in wet and humid conditions. If outside weather is especially humid, you’ve had water damage, there are highly moist areas in your home or undetected moisture problems, conditions are excellent for mold to grow and spread.

Mycotoxins are airborne chemicals released from fungus or in this case specifically, mold. Typically, the more mold you have in your home, the greater number of mycotoxins are produced.

Although there are hundreds of thousands of different types of mycotoxins, they need not be present for mold to form and grow. Once mold sets in, however, mycotoxins attack anything that stands in the way of mold to spread, including other types of mold.

According to a study as published in the Applied and Environmental Microbiology journal, there are only a few varieties of mycotoxins that are classified as harmful to humans and animals.

Where Do Mycotoxins Come From?

Where there is mold, there are mycotoxins. However, not all types of mold produce potentially dangerous mycotoxins.

While studies at the World Health Organization focus primarily on how mycotoxins affect crops and livestock, they can be also found in indoor environments and homes.

Exposure to Mycotoxins Health Effects

Long-term exposure to toxic mycotoxins has been shown to cause increased inflammation of the immune and nervous systems.

It may result in symptoms such as:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle Ache
  • Joint Pain
  • Brain Fog
  • Difficulty Breathing

Elimination and Prevention of Environmental Conditions

The best way to prevent exposure to mycotoxins is to eliminate mold and conditions for mold.

Since mold thrives in excessively humid, moist conditions, it’s important to keep your home clean and dry.

Any prior water damage, flooding or excessively humid outdoor weather conditions should be checked to make sure there aren’t any areas that haven’t been dried. This is especially important in areas like crawlspaces under your home where water pools and is more difficult to keep clean and dry.

Watch for any signs of obvious water damage like stains, standing water, a persistent musty smell, areas prone to condensation, warping or bowing of floors or walls and peeling paint due to lack of proper ventilation.

Stay away from problem areas in the home and call for professional help to check the areas. Mold remediation treatment may be needed to get rid of mold and mycotoxins.

A professional will also be able to locate the source of the problem and where water is entering the home, crawlspace or find the reason for condensation or excessive moisture. This is key in prevention and future exposure both to mold and mycotoxins.

Consider using a dehumidifier in chronically humid locations. An air purifier may provide relief because it filters and traps airborne impurities, a helpful tool for anyone suffering from a compromised immune system or experiences respiratory issues.

Conclusion

Knowing that excessive water and humidity are prime reasons for the onset of mold and mycotoxins, it’s a good idea to have your home checked for reasons why it’s an on-going issue in and around your home.

To eliminate mold is to reduce the risk of breathing in potentially harmful mycotoxins.

In Sonoma County, call the mold remediation and crawl space restoration specialists at RCS. Let our years of experience identify and eliminate mold and mycotoxins in your home.

women frustrated on computer

How to Bounce Back Fast from Water or Sewer Damage

One of the worst things that can happen in your home is water or sewer damage. It’s not only a complete mess, but if not treated immediately, is dangerous, expensive, and destructive.

Water Damage

Due to unforeseen circumstances like burst pipes, undetected leaks or flooding, water damage causes a lot of damage unless the water is removed quickly.

Potential Problems from Water Damage

It’s important that all of the water be removed quickly and completely. If not, damage escalates. Some of the damage and loss comes in the form of saturated drywall, swelling or rotted wood, rusted metal and the onset of mold and bacteria.

A professional water damage restoration company has the equipment to remove a lot of water very quickly. After that, industrial strength drying equipment is brought in to thoroughly dry all affected areas while moisture levels are monitored. They will clean and sanitize your home to prevent mold, bacteria growth and odors.

A professional service will also remove unsalvageable items and throughout the process, works directly with your insurance company.

Sewer Damage

There aren’t too many things worse than a sewer backup.

Sewer backups can be caused by long tree roots, old or damaged sewer lines and clogged drains. Older homes with older sewer lines are at greater risk to experience sewer backups.

There are usually warning signs that a sewer backup is coming.

  • Slow drains, always start in fixtures at the lowest level (first floor, basement)
  • Clogs in multiple drains; wastewater is not able to pass
  • Leaking or sewage coming from the cleanout pipe (located outside, in the basement)
  • Bubbling sinks, toilets
  • A foul, sewer smell coming from drains
  • Sewage coming up through floor drains or showers
  • High water levels in floor drain

Potential Problems from Sewer Damage

Because of the dangers associated with sewer water backups, you should always call in a professional to manage the cleanup.

To say sewer water is contaminated is an understatement. It may contain any type of human or industrial waste.

Sewer water is dangerous because it has high levels of bacteria which exposes homeowners to diseases of the worst kind. Even breathing in sewer water vapors can make you very sick.

Sewer water puts you at risk for E. coli and Hepatitis A. Airborne contaminants and pathogens can trigger asthma attacks and respiratory distress.

A certified restoration company will clean up the wastewater, in addition to your furniture, carpet and other items affected by the damage. They have the products to safely restore your home by disinfecting and deodorizing to kill and stop the spread of fungus and bacteria throughout.

The experts at RCS are only a phone call away, 24 hours a day. RCS has been proudly serving Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, and the North Bay area since 1975. We have the knowledge, equipment, and experience to manage the entire restoration of your home after water or sewer damage.

bathroom tile moisture

Beating Bathroom Mold To The Punch

As the adage says, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This statement by Benjamin Franklin still rings true today in many life situations. One place where prevention is definitely worth the trouble is in your bathroom, where moisture and dampness can create unhealthy and unsightly mold. Obviously, you can’t expect the one room in the house that is most prone to moisture and frequented by everyone to remain completely dry. Still, there are ways to ensure that the wet conditions that do occur don’t cause you unnecessary grief or money. This article will discuss some preventive measures you can take to beat mold to the punch while keeping your family healthy. First, you need to know how to track down existing mold in your home.

Sources of Mold

Understanding how to prevent mold begins with knowing where it comes from in the first place. The truth of the matter is that this fungus is a part of the Earth’s natural environment, and its airborne nature makes spreading easy. Warm environments like Sonoma are ideal for mold spore growth, and those spores can enter your home on outside air through your HVAC system. By the time mold shows up in your bathroom, it has likely already been forming in other damp areas in your home, such as a ventilated crawl space below the bathroom. If you suspect that mold is forming somewhere else first, contact your local mold remediation specialist to locate and remove the source.

Because it offers perennial dampness for mold to thrive, its formation can become a bigger problem in the bath than in other rooms, especially if there is no exhaust fan for ventilation. Leaks from pipes, sinks or toilets are additional sources of mold growth, and damp rugs, porous grout, wood, and wallpaper are common culprits as well.

Preventing Future Infestation

Since mold formation can begin in other rooms besides the bathroom, the whole house should be included in your prevention regimen. Here are some tips for avoiding additional growth once you have located the source and reduced the threat.

  • Replace HVAC filters on a regular basis and try to use HEPA filters when possible. This will keep the vents cleaner, which results in cleaner air for your family to breathe. When you can see mold growing within the intake vents and around the air ducts and drip pans, it’s time to call a professional. Annual maintenance on the whole system is also recommended.
  • Know the signs of mold growth in air ducts: A strong musty or mildew-like smell throughout the house or feeling irritation in your nose, throat, and eyes when your air conditioner is on are all indicators of mold growth. Experiencing allergic symptoms including a runny nose, rashes, and watery eyes are giveaways of the possibility of a problem, as well as unexplained headaches, feeling nausea, fatigue, and dizziness only when you are home.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, and keep furniture and drapes dusted.
  • If you live in a warmer climate, humidity can be a contributing factor in mold growth, so investing in a dehumidifier can help prevent future issues.
  • Wash or replace your mildew-resistant shower curtain frequently. Vinegar applied to the curtain and allowed to air-dry after each use helps to reduce mildew growth as well. You might consider adding an oil to cut the smell.
  • When you shower or bathe, use your bathroom ventilation fan and leave it running for at least a half hour after you’re done.
  • Keep bottles of shampoo or shower gel dry and on a shelf outside the shower.
  • Drying glass and tile surfaces after use will help to deter mold and mildew growth.
  • Routinely check for growth under the sink, on shower doors and fixtures, and around the exhaust fan.

Prevention in a Newly Built or Remodeled Home

If you are having a new home built or remodeling your bathroom, make sure that you have moisture controls in place. In humid climates, vapor barriers should be installed on the outside walls, and insulation should be along inside walls. Foam is usually a better insulation for bathrooms, basements and crawl spaces in warmer climes. Talk to your contractor and plumber about installing a wall for pipes inside the exterior wall. In an existing home, replace the caulking around your tub. If you are using a recessed tub, (one that is attached to three walls) your contractor can make sure that it is properly sealed along each wall.

Since it seems prevention truly is the best medicine, you should make it a priority for keeping your bathroom free of mold and other contaminants. Know the possible sources of mold in your home and start a prevention routine that includes keeping vents clean and dry, cleaning the bathroom at least once a week, and making sure moisture controls are used. Following these simple health promoting tips can allow you, your family, and your guests to breathe a little easier while beating mold to the punch.

dry rot termite damage

How To Check For Dry Rot

Dry rot, also known as a homeowner’s worst nightmare, is a type of fungus, like mold and mushrooms, that can cause wood to decay rapidly. As dry rot grows, it will eventually spread, and it can cause structural damage to your home. This is why it is so important to catch dry rot earlier so that you can properly treat it before costly damage is done. Not sure where or how to look for dry rot? Here are 4 steps for checking your home for dry rot.

If You’ve Already Found Fungi, Look Closely

If you’re already found fungi growing on the wood in your home, it is important to look closely to identify it as dry rot. Unlike other fungi, such as wet rot, dry rot will have a yellowish tint to when exposed to sunlight. Dry rot is also usually flat but can have fruiting bodies that stick off of the wood.

Examine the Wood Closely

Wood affected by dry rot will be an unnatural hue of brown and have a dried out, crumbling appearance. This is because dry rot, as a living creature, is feeding off of the wood. It drains the wood of the nutrients it needs to keep its structure. Dry rot will also leave cracks along the wood where you can find evidence of the fungus growing.

Take a Sniff

Dry rot has a very distinct smell that you can’t miss. If you smell a damp, musty smell around your home that smells like wood decaying, then there is a good chance that you have a dry rot problem somewhere in your home. Dry rot is commonly found in dark, damp locations like basements, attics, and interior structures due to the fact that, like all fungi, dry rot grows best in these conditions.

Hire a Professional

If you’re having trouble identifying if the fungus is dry rot, or you realize it is dry rot, it can be extremely helpful to hire a professional to diagnose the problem and begin work to remove it. The faster you remove dry rot from your home and repair the damages, the less costly repairs you’ll have to make down the road. A professional will be able to identify your fungi problem, set up a plan that caters to your home’s specific needs as well as your budget, and fix the problem.

Final Thoughts

Dealing with any type of mold or fungus in your home is never something we want to deal with. If you see or suspect water damage or mold, be sure to give us a call  here at Restoration Certified Services. Our experts will review your home or place of business and ensure you and your family are safe.

bathroom Santa Rosa CA

Mold In The Bathroom? Don’t Neglect The Fan

Most bathrooms have that extra switch on the wall to activate a fan on the ceiling, but it doesn’t seem to do much but add a constant hum. In fact, that tiny fan ventilates the bathroom, removing: humidity, odors, and other pollutants.

While the improved air quality might be enough (no one likes a smelly bathroom!), its most powerful effect is that of removing humidity when taking a shower. This subtle service acts to prevent moisture from collecting within the bathroom, potentially creating mold and the broad range of damage mold can cause.

The Dangers of Mold in Your Home

Mold (and its white counterpart) is a fungus that can collect on your shower curtain, drains, walls, floors, and appliances. Beyond just touching it, inhaling mold spores can cause problems to those who are sensitive to it (children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems). These problems include:

  • Allergic Reactions: rashes, runny nose, sneezing, and red eyes.
  • Fever and difficulty breathing.
  • Infections.

Mold grows when its tiny spores land in a moist environment and are given the time to reproduce (this is most dangerous when you can’t easily spot the mold). You should try your best to be aware of the areas where moisture is likely to collect: the kitchen, laundry room, bathroom, and outside of the house where water collects.

How to Prevent Mold

The best tips to are to keep areas dry with rugs or towels, improved air-circulation (by fans and open doors), and using dehumidifiers. Ask a professional contractor to ensure your air ducts are operating appropriately, check and fix leaks, and adding insulation.

But for your bathroom, the key is the innocuous fan on the ceiling; if you properly maintain it, then you drastically reduce the chance for mold to grow and damage your family and home.

  • By vacuuming the fan and clearing any dust from it, you can ensure proper ventilation.
  • Once a year, you should disconnect the electricity to it, remove the grate, and wash it with soap.
  • Then dry the grate, put it back in place, and turn the power back on.

Living Mold-Free (Or At Least Trying)

These tips can help you prevent mold, but it’s more common than you think and the damage it can cause is severe. In the case of mold damage, you probably have water damage as well, so find a local Santa Rosa, CA mold remediation company to come in and ensure your home is safe for you and your family, while preventing the costly repairs from increasing.

office home mold

Mold Causing Lawsuits In California

Landlords – everyone’s heard of lawsuits in California involving asbestos, TCE, or other toxic chemicals that have caused property damage or negatively impacted people’s health and livelihoods. However, fewer people know about another toxin that has caused numerous lawsuits and millions of dollars in property and personal damages – mold. Although it may seem innocuous, toxic mold can actually cause a host of problems, from illnesses brought about by mycotoxins found in fungus to structural instability brought about by mold seepage. Here are a few real-life cases of property owners, employees, tenants, building occupants, and local governments who have experienced mold issues that have resulted in lawsuits.

1. Sacramento, CA

In 2001, Darren and Marcie Mazza received $2.7 million from the Partridge Point Apartments, where the couple lived with their 8-year-old son. The case, which at the time was the largest personal injury verdict in a toxic mold-related lawsuit in the U.S., alleged that the owners and managers of the apartment complex failed to respond to the family’s requests to deal with the toxic mold problem within their home. The family members began to suffer a number of health problems from breathing in the toxic mold spores.

2. Santa Rosa, CA

In 2007, a family living in Santa Rosa filed a lawsuit against their landlords and property manager, Molln Properties, for knowingly renting them a property that was a health hazard due to toxic mold. The family members developed asthma and mold in their lungs; they received $1.3 million to split with their lawyers in Sonoma County’s most expensive substandard housing verdict.

3. Los Angeles, CA

When Allstate Insurance Co. refused to approve a client’s claims for mold damage, the client sued the insurance company and received $18 million in punitive damages. This award was later lowered to $3 million after an extra review by a judge.

4. Los Angeles, CA

In 2012, former NBA player and coach Rudy Tomjanovich was ordered to pay over $2.7 million in damages to a plaintiff who had purchased his home in Pacific Palisades in 2007. The plaintiff claimed that Tomjanovich had sold him the home without disclosing the existence of water leaks and mold on the property, which caused numerous problems for the new homeowners after purchasing the home.