Renovating? Be Aware Of Mold and Asbestos!
After quite a long winter, spring is finally here and summer is just around the corner. 🙂
Like many homeowners, you are likely starting your spring clean up process and beginning to think about home improvements.
First Call NY is dedicated to providing timely information to consumers and business owners in Poughkeepsie, Hopewell Junction, Newburgh and all nearby counties.
We applaud your efforts to improve your home or business during warmer temperatures, but we also want to make sure you are aware of the hidden problems that mold and asbestos may cause if you tackle the renovation project on your own or decide to hire a contractor.
With this in mind, this article is divided into two distinct parts.
Part one explains why you need to be concerned about mold by answering three key questions:
- Why does my home have mold?
- What should I do when I find mold?
- What can I do to prevent future mold problems?
Part two explains why you need to be concerned about asbestos.
When you have finished reading this article you will gain a complete understanding why you need to take precautions and plan before diving into your home improvement projects because of the potential problems that can be caused by mold and asbestos.
The goal of First Call NY is to ensure that you have the right information to keep your family safe from mold and asbestos. Also, business owners should pay particular attention to the recommendations in this article to prevent potential liability issues that could be caused if their renovation project is not done in a safe manner. If you have any questions, please call First Call NY, (845) 226-0868. We are here to help and want to make sure that your project is successful!
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PART ONE: MOLD RISKS DURING RENOVATION!
Mold may be the biggest issue facing the remodeling industry. Can the asbestos, radon, and lead paint scares teach us what to expect, or are we facing a whole new animal? (Mold may be biggest issue facing remodeling industry: mold is more troublesome than other hazards)
In her blog, Blindsided By Mold: A True Story About A Bathroom Renovation Gone Bad—So Very, Very Bad, Trish Holder documented her battle with mold that resulted directly from a bathroom renovation project. As opposed to hiring a contractor with experience and a solid understanding of the potential risks caused by mold, she chose to hire her friend, who was a contractor.
The contractor renovated her bathroom, but did not install the shower liner and tile properly. The end result was moisture intrusion that led to a significant mold infestation that took two months and resulted in 10s of thousands of dollars worth of damage.
Trish was lucky because the contractor took full responsibility for the problem and paid for all the mold removal and reconstruction. This is a best case scenario!
But what if the contractor you hired caused the mold problem and did not pay to fix it? Then what?
If you are planning to hire a contractor, we recommend that you do your due diligence. Get references, check their BBB record, find out how much experience they have, talk to other home owners who used their services, etc. Do your homework. In other words, don’t just hire the cheapest option, but the best option that can help you avoid a potential problem caused by mold or asbestos. Make sure the contractor you hire will take the potential problems caused by mold and asbestos seriously!
Why Does My Home Have Mold?
Some experts believe that mold is present in up to 60% of American homes.
For this reason, D.S. Berenson, an attorney with the Washington firm Johanson Berenson, stated the following:
“Mold should be treated by contractors with respect. It’s not a fire drill or a joke. The situation is no different than when a contractor encounters some other variable (asbestos, radon, lead paint) that he isn’t equipped to handle.”
Moisture is the key ingredient mold needs to grow. Sources of moisture could be water damage from a leaky roof or past flooding, cracked shower wall, leaky pipes, humidity that exceeds 70%, and other common sources of moisture in the home.
People have this mis-conception that mold is only found in old homes. However, this is not true.
A disturbing trend is the fact that mold is often found in newer homes. The prevalence of mold in newer homes is directly related to the trend towards building energy efficient homes, which prevents drafts and cross-ventilation. Sealing homes tight with vapor barriers, traps moisture. The other problem is builders tend to use cheaper materials to build homes, opting for OSB, which acts like a sponge when it gets wet, contributing to mold growth.
Since mold could be in 6 out of 10 homes, if you are considering a renovation or remodeling project, then it is very important that you understand what to do if you find mold…
What Should I Do When I Find Mold?
Many Do It Yourselfers that take on home renovation projects like interior painting, kitchen remodeling, bathroom renovation, floor replacement, and window replacement, rarely understand the risks of mold. Even if they do, they may not know how to ensure that the mold contamination is prevented from spreading throughout the home.
The biggest risk you encounter by doing the renovation yourself or hiring an inexperienced contractor is cross contamination, meaning the spores spread throughout the home. You need to contain the area where you find mold to prevent this from happening. Most importantly, prevent the spores from entering your HVAC system, to prevent contamination of the duct system, spreading spores into every area of the home.
With this in mind, if you find mold during the tear down process of drywall, removal of carpet or flooring, and/or during the removal of bathroom fixtures such as the tub, shower liner, etc. your first priority is to determine the extent of the problem. If you are not sure how to do this, call First Call NY so that we can provide you with a professional assessment on your mold problem.
Before you do anything, determine what the underlying moisture issue is because mold only grows when there is moisture present. Further renovations and reconstruction should only commence once the underlying cause of the moisture problem, i.e. the moisture source is identified and fixed. Failure to do this will result in future costly headaches if this step is not taken.
For mold problems under 50 square feet, like a few patches on a wall, then you can likely manage the mold problem yourself.
If you are seriously considering removing the mold yourself, contact First Call NY for an educated assessment and further advice on how to proceed.
It is worth getting a formal mold inspection and/or air quality test on your home before you decide to remove any mold yourself. It is better to be cautious, particularly when you are dealing with mold because exposure can cause health issues.
If you decide to remove the mold yourself make sure you keep these tips in mind:
- Prevent cross contamination by setting up a containment, using poly you can get from your local hardware store. Also, be sure to close off any vents in the area of mold removal.
- Understand that mold can be toxic, so be safe. Wear protective googles, rubber gloves, a dust mask, and protective clothing, preferably a tyvek suit.
- Don’t just spray the mold contaminated materials with bleach, praying your mold problem will go away. Bleach is not effective on porous materials, so it is best to throw out contaminated ceiling tiles, carpet, underpad, drywall, etc. Double bag and dispose of mold contaminated materials properly.
- Mold contamination on non-porous materials can be scrubbed or brushed off. You may also find some biocides and fungicides at your local hardware store or online that could be effective.
- To prevent mold spores from becoming airborne use a HEPA vacuum.
If you encounter mold, under no circumstances should you ignore it. Address your mold problem to prevent:
- Your property value from declining. Understand that as long as the conditions are present for mold growth, it will thrive and grow. Mold is like a parasite or cancer and will continue to feed on your home, causing wood to rot, and future structural integrity issues.
- Health issues. There is a growing body of research and literature pointing to the fact that mold causes health problems, like asthma and chronic sinusitis. Mold is a particular concern for mold sensitized individuals that have the genetic predisposition to Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome.
What Can I Do To Prevent Future Mold Problems?
To prevent future mold issues here are 10 tips:
- To prevent moisture intrusion, fix cracked foundations, damaged roofs, warped window panes and/or eroding tile grout.
- Ensure vapour barriers and insulation are in good condition and properly placed.
- If there is a moisture event such as a flood or major leak, dry the materials as soon as possible. To prevent mold growth, wet materials need to be dried or removed within 24 to 48 hours.
- Monitor humidity levels with a hygrometer. Humidity levels should be maintained between 30 percent to 50 percent.
- Reduce indoor mold spore counts with cross-ventilation by opening windows and doors to allow fresh air in.
- Properly seal windows, insulate cold water pipes and air conditioning vents to prevent condensation-related moisture issues.
- Clean and repair eaves troughs and downspouts regularly so that water flows away from the foundation of your home.
- If your home or basement has excessive humidity, use a dehumidifier, and consider water proofing your basement, particularly if it is susceptible to moisture intrusion.
- Use your senses to monitor areas of your home that are most likely to develop mold: bathrooms, kitchens, basements and attics. Visual clues likes surface discoloration and musty, earthy smells are clues that you may have mold growing in these areas.
- When cooking or showering turn on the kitchen and bathroom fans to prevent excess moisture, humidity and condensation issues. Ideally run the fans for 30 to 60 minutes.
PART TWO: ASBESTOS RISKS DURING RENOVATION!
Asbestos poses health risks only when fibers are in the air that people breathe. Asbestos fibers lodge in the lungs, causing scarring that can ultimately lead to severely impaired lung function (asbestosis) and cancers of the lungs or lung cavity.
Asbestos is a proven health hazard and unfortunately any home built prior to 1984 will likely have asbestos, popular in construction materials because it is a fire retardant. For this reason, asbestos was used extensively in the building process.
According to Asbestos.com:
Homes and apartments built before 1980 often are filled with asbestos, needing only normal wear and tear with age to dislodge the fibers and send them airborne. Asbestos can be found in floor tiles, roofs, furnaces, plumbing, appliances, fireplaces and window caulking, leaving most everyone vulnerable.
Click here to review a detailed diagram of where asbestos can be found in your home.
With this in mind, our advice to homeowners is to be careful if they take on a Do It Yourself (DIY) project. Take 5 and Stay Alive, it could be the most important 5 minutes of your life! Don’t rush into a project that could potentially disturb and release asbestos fibers into the air. Contact First Call NY for a thorough asbestos survey.
Got Mold or Asbestos Questions?
If you are considering a home improvement project on your home and have any questions pertaining the risks caused by mold or asbestos, call First Call NY. We are experts at assessing mold and asbestos and will be happy to advise you on what precautions to take before tackling your home improvement project. We care and have a solid reputation in the community and want to make sure that you do not expose yourself to mold or asbestos. Don’t take chances on the health of your family or employees if you plan any renovation project. Call First Call NY for peace of mind!
Experts at mold remediation and asbestos removal from your home or office
Contact us today