mold

damp-windows-torontoDamp is a problem that strikes fear into the most clued up homeowner, however, with the right know-how you can treat damp effectively and return your home to its former glory. Take a look at our top five tips and become one step closer to dealing with damp for good!

1. Diagnose your damp problem accurately

How you treat each individual damp problem depends entirely on the type of damp your property is affected by. There are three main forms of damp – condensation, penetrating and rising – and each has its own remedy.

Condensation is perhaps the most common form of damp, especially within homes that experience high humidity levels and have poor ventilation. Condensation forms on windows, doors and other glass or metal surfaces and is caused by excess moisture within your home. Penetrating damp occurs when water enters through your walls or roof and moves throughout the property leaving a path of defects, water staining and damp patches behind. Rising damp on the other hand rises from the ground upwards causing similar effects.

It is recommended that you enlist a professional to identify your damp problem accurately, they can also help you find a cost-effective and efficient solution.

2. Improve your ventilation

Whatever the cause of your problem, properties without adequate ventilation tend to be more susceptible to damp problems, especially rooms that are exposed to a high level of humidity such as the kitchen, bathroom or utility area. Improving your ventilation and boosting air circulation is a quick and easy way to ease the nasty effects of excess moisture and prevent damp problems from reoccurring once more. Install vents and extractor fans in moisture-prone areas, and utilize these to enhance your wider property’s ventilation.

3.  Invest in a dehumidifier

Dehumidifiers offer an excellent quick fix for properties that are been destroyed by damp, this handy home appliance takes in moisture from the air and expels dry air to return humidity back to its recommended levels. There are a range of dehumidifiers on the market, and leading specialists like the Air and Water Centre can provide a solution that suits your home and your budget.

The use of a dehumidifier also improves air quality, which provides great health benefits for your family as excess humidity, dust and airborne mold can cause and worsen a range of health concerns.

4. Change your home habits

You have more influence over the excessive humidity levels that cause damp than you think. Humidity is caused by a variety of everyday home activities such as washing dishes, drying laundry and bathing, and ensuring you take precautions can prevent moisture from causing long term damage to your home.

Try drying laundry outdoors if the weather is nice, open a window when washing the dishes, turn on your extractor hood when cooking food and open vents when taking a bath or shower to minimize moisture damage.

5. Look for long term solutions

Whilst many methods may ease the side effects of condensation, penetrating damp and rising damp, long term solutions must be sought to prevent damp problems returning and causing more mayhem. Repairing the damp proof course of your basement is one of the more expensive options when treating rising damp, but this ensures your property is protected for years to come.

Penetrating damp can be resolved with repairs or replacement of faulty pointing, downpipes, guttering, render and flashings, whilst windows and doors will have to be fully insulated and sealed to prevent long term condensation problems.

This post comes to you from Martin Davies from the Air and Water Centre.

 

The key to mold control is moisture control.

Having a leaky basement is bad enough.  A wet, damp basement is not a fun thing to have and leaves you with only entering the basement when you have to.  Not fun.  A more serious bi-product of a chronic water leak in your basement is the growth of mold.  Here in Toronto, between the weather and the age of many homes, we get called to many homes for serious mold problems.  The problem always has a water leak or chronic dampness as the origin.

For a healthy individual, mold isn’t very dangerous, it’s just gross.  The real health problems with mold occur when an individual already has a compromised respiratory system (elderly, infants,sick people,etc) or there is long term exposure to mold spores.

Mold grows very fast once it takes hold, especially when there is moisture present to serve as a breeding ground.  We’ve all left seemingly perfect fruit on the counter overnight to discover a “fuzz farm” growing on our strawberries the next morning.  Yes, it spreads pretty fast once it gets going.

Check out the infographic below that describes some of the hidden dangers of mold growth and airborn mold spores in the home.  If you have questions about mold removal in your home or would like a free in-home estimate, you can contact us here.

Mold dangers in the home-Toronto Mold Removal

Although not all air purifier are the same, most are capable of removing air-borne allergens including mould spores from your home. This is helpful if you have upper bronchial infections or allergies. At the same time, they are also a useful ally in the endless battle to stop mould forming in the first place.

However there is a limit to their efficiency because they can’t remove an existing fungal infestation. Hence your first step is always to call in a mould-removal cleaning firm to clear it out for you. After that, regular cleaning and an air purifier should reward you with a relatively mould-free home.

Toronto Mould removal air purifier

Even More Benefits

The air inside our homes is full of a variety of other pollutants. Some of these drift in from outside while others are a consequence of modern lifestyles. Air purifiers also help remove the grime that stains our air-conditioner filters. Chief among the culprits are animal fur, cigarette smoke, dust mite droppings, pollen spores and sundry bacteria.

Which Design is Best?

There are four main varieties of air purifiers in Canada, the main difference being the filters through which they force the air. These often appear in different combinations Replaceable high energy particulate air HEPA ones are often preferred because they use replacement filters that don’t generate potentially harmful by-products.

Carbon pre-filters help remove smells and volatile organic compounds. Filterless ionizers are energy-efficient but of little use against mould spores, while ozone generator air purifiers are only really effective at power levels that may be injurious to our health. For these reasons the most popular combinations are carbon filter-HEPA ones.

Air Purifier Buying Tips

  • Capacity – Clean air delivery rate (CADR) measures the volume of air processed per minute. A score below 100 is unsatisfactory whereas above 300 is excellent. Calculate the volume of air in the room before you start.

 

  • Energy Cost – Air purifiers run day and night off electricity. Although their draw is low compared to air conditioners and heating plants it does add up over time. You contribute indirectly to less power-generation pollution by buying energy efficiently.

 

  • Maintenance – If you buy a good quality air purifier it should reward you with a long, trouble-free life. However those with HEPA filters require owner-servicing every few months. Find out how long the filters last and how much replacements cost.

 

  • Noise Levels – Most domestic air purifiers emit an almost imperceptible hum which is a trade-off against their level of cleaning efficiency. Some can appear more pronounced when you’re trying to fall asleep at night. Ask the salesperson about decibel (dB) levels which should be in the instruction manuals.

While an air purifier cannot remove mould per se, it can be a great ally in the fight to contain it while removing irritating pollutants from the air we breathe. Like most other things in life you get the quality you pay for. Don’t buy cheap. Keep a weather eye out for special offers outside of pollen season for the best deals.

Have questions about mould and air quality in your home?  If you live in Toronto or the surrounding GTA, we can have a service specialist come out to your home for a free on-site inspection and estimate.  Contact us here.

 

White powder basment wallIn a word, it’s called efflorescence. When people see it on their basement walls, they often refer to it as the white powdery stuff, white mold, or white mildew.

The white stuff you have on your basement walls, officially called efflorescence, is actually a deposit left behind by water. You may have noticed it on the outside of your house walls too (hopefully below the damp course, that is). The stuff is normally harmless, although you’re still advised to wear hand and face protection when you brush it off, just in case.

The big question is “why is there water there in the first place?” Walls are supposed to be dry. Having damp walls is a bad idea because the moisture could eventually cause the structure to begin to break down.

To answer the question we need to take a trip underground to the dynamic, natural world. Water – the source of life they say – is constantly on the move filtering through the earth and stone. As it travels, it picks up natural minerals and salts that it transports along and finally deposits someplace else. It’s almost as if sand and stone were made for the job!

Our homes certainly are. They are built from natural materials in the form of sand, cement and stone. Water passes naturally though these too, which is why we go to the trouble of baking bricks and painting outside walls with expensive waterproofing paint. We also add damp courses, roofs, gutters, downpipes and overhangs like eaves.

efflorescence-concrete-basement-wall-toronto

We do everything “upstairs” to keep the water away from our walls. Down in the basement it’s often a different story. When it rains the earth around the foundation becomes saturated. Many basements we’ve encountered are little better than “leaky buckets” rammed into the ground.

In a sense, efflorescence on an inside basement wall is like a friendly sentry-guard. It’s telling us that moisture is penetrating through our basement walls and leaving its customary calling-card behind. It’s likely to be historic evidence left behind as the moisture evaporated, which is why it’s normally more evident in dryer summer months.

This makes it the friend of home buyers too, especially when viewing the basement of a home in summer that’s subject to intrusive damp during winter time. The seller can try their hardest to brush it off, but there’ll always be a stain when you know where to look for it.

This is the biggest single reason to track down the cause of efflorescence if you have it in your basement, and to get rid of it before it starts working down the value of your home. It’s a sign that moisture is making it’s way inside your basement, and with that dampness often comes mold.

Not sure if you have efflorescence or not on your basement wall?  Contact us here for a free in-home inspection of your basement.

 

 

Mold and mildew removal in Toronto homeNobody likes walking down into their basement and smelling that damp, mildew odour.  It makes it feel like you’re walking into a dungeon.  Your basement doesn’t have to be like that, read on.

There are two stages to effectively removing mildew odours. The first is to remove the mildew that causes the unpleasant smell.  Mildew is actually another term used to describe fungi growth.  In other words, it’s mold. The second is to remove the cause of it, which is down to getting rid of the conditions in which it thrives. But first let’s deal with the smell.

A Word of Warning

If you have a sensitive stomach, chronic bronchial infection or the mold growth is extensive, you may want to consider a mold removal company to deal with it.  If you do decide to go ahead, wear a full set of clothing and don a face mask and a set of rubber gloves before you start. Remember to read the instructions on all cleaning materials too.

Remove the Mildew

The general idea is to remove as much as possible and kill the rest.

  • Fill a bucket with tepid water and add a cup of vinegar or borax. You can experiment with combinations, but no more than one cup in total please. Soak a cloth in the mixture and wring it out just enough to prevent drips.

 

  • Work from the ceiling down (the job is messy), and remember to rinse your cloth regularly in a second bucket of tepid water. There’s no point in moving mildew around so wring it out thoroughly each time before soaking it in the mixture again.

 

  • As you go along get rid of all soft furnishings including curtains, upholstery and carpets. Forget about cleaning them. They are permanently stained and will haunt you with their smell if you try to keep them.

 

  • Hire a few commercial-grade oscillating fans and leave them running until everything is bone dry. Smell the difference. Unfortunately the job is not done yet because the next generation of mildew is waiting to take up residence.

Prevent a Recurrence

Mold and mildew occur naturally in warm climates with high humidity. Your first step is to buy a decent dehumidifier and get the ambient moisture level down. While that’s happening cast an eye around for any water intrusion. This could be from a dripping tap, or from groundwater that follows cracks in the walls and floor.

Use the grid method to make sure you don’t miss the slightest water stain. Start with the ceiling, then the upper walls, then the middle walls and so on. Be mindful of the season. Basements seldom leak in summer, but the evidence is there all year round.

Assuming there are no leaks, you can complete the job by installing bright lighting (mildew hates this) and redecorating all painted surfaces with mildew-resistant paint. Do not waste your time doing this if you suspect a groundwater leak – even if this is dry at the current moment. The chronic water leak will just cause the mildew smell (and mold) to return.

If you have questions about removing mold from your basement or repairing a basement water leak, feel free to contact us here.  If you’re located in the Greater Toronto Area, we can arraign a free, in-home inspection.