mold

moisture and mold in crawl space of Toronto homeDo you have a crawlspace in your home?  Often times, the crawl space is the dark, damp space in your home where funky things grow and live….and the place you stay out of unless absolutely necessary.

“Crawlspace” is an area in your home where you have to crawl around on your hands and knees. This can include tight areas in attics as well as under floors. The lack of access is why we often don’t see what’s going on there, but it can effect the rest of the home if left unchecked.

Why It’s a Problem

If you want to avoid larger repair costs later on, and potentially a reduced price (or lost deal) if you sell your home, you have to worry about the things you don’t see. For example:


  • Mold only grows where there’s humidity caused by moisture. Where’s the moisture coming from?


  • The mold may cause the floor timbers to rot, and eventually collapse – although this usually takes many years.


  • Property inspectors know about these problems. Mold in crawlspace is something they look actively for.

This all adds up to a very real threat to the value of your biggest asset – and that could mean the price of your home coming down quite sharply if a home inspection reveals water and mold infestation problems up there.

mold in crawl space

Gaining Access

As a general rule of thumb, builders should provide access to space beneath a floor. However, with builders, this isn’t always the case. It’s often simplest is to install a simple trapdoor. If your home is carpeted (or you love wood too much to do that) then your only remaining option is to create access from the outside.

Remedial Action

You must find out where the moisture coming from first and fix it. In theory, it’s unlikely to be rain water, because of damp courses required by building regulations. However, it’s not uncommon to find rockeries and flower beds set against walls that are meant to be above ground. If that’s the case, get rid of them immediately, and make sure the garden slopes away gradually, everywhere.

A second cause may be ground moisture welling up. This is especially possible if your house was built on trench foundations as opposed to on a concrete slab. The best solution is to lay down a vapor barrier. This is a series of polyethylene plastic strips with at least a one-foot overlap and taped joints. It’s a good idea to pin them down with a few bricks here and there.

Architects and builders know that crawlspace close to the ground inevitably becomes humid because of warmth transmitted from above. Every wooden floor should be ventilated with airbricks, which should be positioned to benefit from prevailing winds. Many houses are built off spec plans that take no account of spatial positioning. Sometimes, a few well-placed additional airbricks may solve a crawlspace mold problem on their own.

Practical Considerations

Many times accessing the crawlspace in your home can be difficult, even by professionals.  If you suspect water and mold problems and are unable to determine where or the extent of your moisture problems, you’ll probably want to call someone in to find the source of your moisture and mold problems.

Nusite Group has been serving Toronto and the GTA for over 30 years.  We specialize in foundation waterproofing, moisture and mold removal, and foundation repairs.  Contact us today to schedule a free estimate.

There are anywhere from 100 thousand to 10 million dust mites living in the average family bed.  Wait, what?  Yes, they are all over the place, they’re just so tiny, you can’t see them.  I bet you’ll start washing your bed sheets more often from this day on. 

Dust mites are just one of the tiny friends living inside the average home.  While most are harmless (in small amounts at least), others, like mold, can possibly lead to respiratory problems if exposed for an extended period of time or if you have pre-existing respiratory conditions.

Before you go and take a shower, and start scrubbing your house clean, check out the infographic below.  It’s provided courtesy of AllergyBGone, and has some great statistics and tips about the allergens living inside your home.

Mold mites and dust Mites and other allergens in the home

 

Courtesy of ClutterBGone

 

indoor air quality in TorontoWith Winter fast approaching here in Toronto, homeowners are getting ready to “seal” their homes off from the outside until Spring arrives (hopefully sooner than later).  While sealing your home off from a sometimes harsh Canadian Winter, it also means that your are sealing in your indoor air.  It’s a fact that indoor air pollutants cause more damage than outdoor air pollutants, even if you live close to the 401 here in Toronto!

While indoor air pollutants in the home can come from chemicals and fumes from products inside the home, sometimes organic matter, called Bioaerosols, can do even more damage if exposed over a prolonged period of time.  Some studies even suggest the main reason we tend to get chronic colds and other ailments over the Winter is because we spend so much time indoors, breathing in everything floating around our home.

What are Bioaerosols?

Bioaerosols are airborne contaminants that can cause a variety of respiratory problems when inhaled. Common examples of this are pollen, viruses, bacteria and mould spores. Some may cause allergic reactions, and others infections. Frequent contamination can lead to chronic respitory difficulties.

Symptoms of the Problem

Early signs of attacks by antigens and allergens include coughing, sneezing, runny noses and tight chests. Some sufferers develop a condition called hypersensitivity pneumonitis as a response to repeated infections. If left untreated, this can lead to more serious conditions including asthma.

Where to Look for Bioaerosols

Bioaerosols including bacteria, mould, mildew and dust mites are living organisms that thrive under similar conditions to people living innocently in their homes. These factors include moderate to high humidity and warm ambient temperatures. Hence they also often develop naturally in humidifier reservoirs and dehumidifier drip pans, as well as toilets, showers and ice-making machines.

They soon appear in flooded houses, where they thrive on damp ceiling panels, wet carpets and paneling that’s absorbed moisture. When disturbed, they release tiny spores into the air as they migrate to more destinations. You’ll know when they arrive because you’ll either have an allergic reaction, or spot those characteristic stains.

What to Do when You Detect Mould

Mould is a surprisingly common occurrence in modern homes. Some people overlook it, some pretend it’s not there, while others spend a lifetime trying to get rid of it. The truth is that the environment must change first, or else you’ll just keep on moving it around.

First Steps

  • By a hygrometer at a garden store so you can gauge the temperature and humidity level in your home

 

  • Compare your home with others in your area. Is it warmer with a higher humidity factor?

 

  • Do you make the problem worse by hanging damp clothing up indoors, or bathing or showering frequently?

 

  • Does your basement, or attic feel damp when you enter? Touch the walls, rest your hand on the floor, and look for dripping pipes.

 

  • What are you doing to vent the moisture? How often do you open the windows during winter?
If you discover a severe mold infestation or it’s in a hard to reach place, consider calling in a mold removal company.

Setting Targets

Aim to keep the humidity in your home below 50%. Experiment by opening windows, venting the clothes drier properly, and taking cooler showers. You’ll soon find the best match to your life style. If this sounds a challenge, take another look at your mould before you drop the idea.

The Promise of a Happy, Healthy Lifestyle

Once you get mould and other bioaerosols under control in your family home, you’ll not only benefit from a cleaner house and better health, you may also feel a better sense of well-being too.

 

Should I use a mold testing kit?Indoor Damp, Health and Mold in the Home

Mold is a fungus that grows naturally on decaying organic matter in moist conditions, and migrates to new sites by releasing microscopic spores into the air. It thrives in any similar environment where there’s a source of carbon. A modern, centrally-heated home is ideal for it.  Though modern homes do a great job sealing the house from the outside, it also drastically reduces air flow and can produce stale, moist air, that’s ripe for mold growth.

The Toxigenic Risk

Mold is not poisonous or dangerous in itself. In fact, you could probably eat it if you wanted to (although we’re not advising that). The danger lies in the mycotoxins some variants produce. It’s important to note that the evidential linkage to the following conditions is circumstantial, not scientifically proven.

  • Allergic Reactions include red, itchy or watery eyes, nasal stuffiness, sneezing, and irritations of the nose, mouth and throat. These are set off when mold spores come in contact with our bodies. If they erupt when we’re removing mold infestations, then the two are likely linked.

 

  • Hypersensitive Pneumonitis (HP) is a condition whereby an allergic reaction becomes an immune system sensitization  Unlike an allergy that soon fades when the cause is removed, HP-related coughs, breath-shortness, chills, fevers and night sweats – and even profound fatigue – can last for several days. Persistent attacks may lead to tissue-scarring and even lung disease.

 

  • Asthma is a chronic condition that’s influenced by the environment in 15% of cases. Symptoms such as chest tightness, wheezing, breath-shortness and coughs are the result of bronchial passage narrowing. A major attack can result in asphyxiation in extreme circumstances. Where a relationship to indoor contaminants appears possible, urgent attention could be vital.

Practical Action

After a causal link has been established between bronchial health and mold  its removal is no longer a cosmetic matter. Because mold can repopulate even the cleanest home with impunity (and modern domestic materials make ideal hosts), the only hope of eliminating it, is to moderate the damp or humid conditions it relies on.

An experienced mold inspector with sophisticated equipment will help identify mold problems in a short time. Root causes will likely be a combination of water intrusion (especially in the case of wet basements), and ambient humidity because windows are kept closed and the thermostat’s turned up too high.

Other Benefits

A clean, dry and mold free home that’s well-ventilated is not only a pleasure to live in, and easier to keep clean. It also holds its value better in the current economic climate, and contributes to a general sense of happiness and wellness among the families that reside in them.

 

Tips on cleaning mold from Toronto homeMold can be unpleasant when it invades our homes.  In a city like Toronto, where the homes are aging and the weather isn’t always pleasant, mold can easily take hold if left unchecked. Mold looks unsightly and can leave a terrible smell in the house. Left too long it damages soft furnishings irreparably. However before you dash off and have another go at it, it’s worthwhile considering these ten tips before you decide to tackle any mold problems.

Safety Comes First – Setting aside the risks of standing on ladders cleaning ceilings, the spores you release at the same time can be harmful to the very young, the very old, and anybody with upper-respiratory tract concerns.  Mold spores are the most dangerous when disturbed, usually when trying to clean up the area so wear proper protection.

Seek Advice – There are different kinds of mold. This includes the black mold you’ll find taking hold in your bathroom if you look, and the lighter-colored ones that thrive in clothes cupboards. Research can save you loads of time and trouble. Read articles like this one and do your homework before jumping in.  If it looks like it’s spreading to areas you can’t reach, or just looks like alot, consider calling in a mold removal company.

Be smart – When you touch mold  it releases thousands of tiny seeds called mold spores. Once in the air, they settle on almost anything, and that includes you and your clothes. Wear protective clothing that you can disinfect thoroughly afterwards. Professional mold removal companies will seal an area off before starting work as to not spread the spores throughout the house.

Test First – Among other things, mold looks dirty, and sometimes it’s confused with other signs of neglect. Test first by diluting bleach in water to a ratio of 1:16 and dabbing it on with a cotton bud. Mold lightens quickly, dirt does not. Deal with the problem accordingly.  Think twice before purchasing a mold inspection kit, they don’t work very well.

Look for Reasons – It’s pointless to remove mold without first dealing with the root causes, or else it becomes a permanent resident. Inspect your home for leaking plumbing, failing roof flashing and bad air-conditioning joints first.  If you fail to remove the leak in your basement, the mold will just return.

Kill It Dead – Don’t waste time with old wives’ tales and urban myths. There’s only one true way to evict mold  and that’s to wipe it out on the spot with anti-microbial spray that’s easy to disperse.

Manage Condensation – Central heating and double glazing produces tropical conditions that mold just thrives on. Ventilate your house each morning to disperse humidity. The air will soon warm up again!

Clean Regularly – It takes a while for mold spores to take root, and this provides a window of opportunity to prevent this happening. Wipe areas where you see moisture gathering regularly – prevent mold from taking over.

Lifestyle Changes – Could settles in our homes because we share a similar life-style. Try turning down the thermostat a few degrees, and opening the bathroom window after you shower. Little things like this can save a huge amount of trouble later.

Establish Norms – Create a regular inspection schedule to check susceptible areas in your home for mold.  Consider making it a part of your Fall and Spring home inspections.

When you follow these handy ten tips you’ll know how to get rid of mold  and how to prevent it coming back. That’s not to say it won’t keep on trying. This means the battle to keep mold from our homes is never over.  The only way to rid mold from your home permanently is to remove the source of moisture first.