A STORY: “MONSTER IN HER BASEMENT”

By | Mold | No Comments

“A Monster in her Basement?”

The white-haired 85-year old lady reminded me of my grandmother as she opened the front door with a huge smile, followed by a deep exhausting cough. She gestured for me to enter her exemplar home. Although the furnishings were dated, every piece was placed with purpose. The living room and kitchen were immaculate, spotless, absolutely pristine. The surroundings wreaked of pride in her home.

She immediately dove into reflecting upon her concerns. With a heavy gasp, she mentioned that her “smeller” didn’t work so well anymore. Her grandbabies had visited and expressed a concern about the odor in the basement. Her breathing was labored, and she appeared quite fatigued. Could her home be making her sick?

The minute I opened the door to the basement I recognized the familiar smell . . . the musty, wet-soil odor of mold. As I ventured down the steps, she began to tell me how much she missed her husband. He had passed away two years ago. He was the one who would be investigating this mystery odor, if he were still here on Earth with us. As the odor engulfed my senses, there was no doubt that this basement was occupied by a monster! Had the sump pump failed? The dehumidifier been disconnected? The pipes been leaking?

This story reflects just one of thousands we hear every year. A home or building in the midst of a crisis that could have been avoided. Someone dismissed the leaking pipe, the broken fence, the dirty filters, the mouse dirt, the shingle in the yard, the disconnected downspout. In this particular case, our client’s husband had always been the one that emptied the dehumidifier in the basement. She didn’t even know there was a dehumidifier in the basement. Mold grew thick in the corners, had consumed all the cardboard boxes, and destroyed her teddy bear collection . . . the collection she was saving to leave to her grandchildren.

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit baxtergroupinc.com.  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY e-book.

 

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We smell mold. It is agitating my sinuses. But, I cannot find it. What do I do?

By | Mold | No Comments

We smell mold.  It is agitating my sinuses.  But, I cannot find it.  What do I do?

Mold is vicious.  It can hide above ceilings, behind walls, in furniture, under carpet.  If you suspect mold, but cannot find it, we recommend having air samples collected to determine if there is a mold contamination hiding in your property.  If the samples indicate a problem, then it’s time to move into an investigator role, just like a CSI Agent.  Using a moisture meter, infrared camera, and other tools, a mold inspector can track down the colony or colonies.

CAUTION:  Avoid a massive release of mold spores.  When checking behind walls, wall paper, ceiling tiles, the inspector must be very cautious not to expose the living area by opening up the areas where mold hides and releasing spores.

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit baxtergroupinc.com.  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY e-book.

                 

Indoor moisture leads to mold growth. What are some things that may be done to prevent excessive moisture indoors?

By | Mold | No Comments

Indoor moisture leads to mold growth.  What are some things that may be done to prevent excessive moisture indoors?

Mold needs moisture to grow.  The moisture does not necessarily come from a water intrusion, but from humidity levels in excess of 60%.  To prevent mold growth, the moisture in our homes and buildings needs to be controlled.

  • Set humidity gauges in each room, especially high-humidity rooms such as the bathroom, laundry room, kitchen, and basement.
  • Vent appliances that produce moisture to the outdoors. Especially clothes dryers, stoves, and kerosine heaters, all of which produce moisture.
  • Use dehumidifiers in damp areas.
  • Run exhaust fans while showering and cooking and then for an additional 20 minutes.
  • Address water intrusions and leaks immediately.

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit baxtergroupinc.com.  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY e-book.

#breathehealthyinitiative

Time for a HEALTHY BUILDING checkup!

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Time for a HEALTHY BUILDING checkup!

Spring and Fall are great times to schedule your building(s) for a checkup.  In doing so, areas of concern can be identified and addressed prior to them becoming large, expensive cleanup or repair projects.  Here are just a view items that should be inspected inside your buildings:

  • Signs of roof leaks
  • Signs of plumbing leaks
  • Evidence of rodents, bats, roaches, termite and other pests
  • Paint intact
  • Dryer vents clear
  • Exhaust ducts clear
  • Gutters and downspouts intact and clear
  • No wet surfaces or puddles in crawlspaces and basement
  • Sump pump working
  • Radon system active and working
  • Insulation in place
  • Fans exhaust outdoors and are clear
  • Electrical wiring in good condition
  • Smoke and CO alarms are working
  • Refrigerator and icemaker drip pans are clean
  • Traps and drains are not leaking
  • Dehumidifiers operation properly
  • All filters are clean

For a more extensive check-up, join Baxter Environmental Group’s BREATHE HEALTHY INITIATIVE.

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit baxtergroupinc.com.  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY e-book.

#breathehealthyinitiative

Just cleaned up a mold colony. How do I know when the cleanup is completed?

By | Mold | No Comments

Just cleaned up a mold colony.  How do I know when the cleanup is completed?

  • Visible mold is no longer present.
  • Moldy odors are no longer present.
  • All building components with evidence of mold growth have been removed or encapsulated.
  • Occupants are no longer evidencing symptoms of mold exposure.

After an extensive mold remediation project, we highly recommend having an air sample collected to confirm that the remaining levels of mold are low.

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit baxtergroupinc.com.  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY e-book.

#breathehealthyinitiative

How do we prevent mold contamination in our homes & buildings?

By | Mold | No Comments

How do we prevent mold contamination in our homes & buildings?

The #1 most important thing that one must do to prevent or inhibit the growth of mold is to control the moisture in our indoor environments.

  • Control and maintain the humidity at 40-45%.
  • Address water intrusions and plumbing leaks immediately. If 12 or more hours pass without addressing water intrusions, the area should be addressed as though mold has started to propagate (because it probably has).
  • Run exhaust fans while cooking or showering, plus an additional 20 minutes. Confirm all exhaust fans are ducted to the exterior of the building.
  • Inspect ductwork at least once a year for mold and build up of excessive debris.
  • Use a HEPA-filtered vacuum when cleaning so that mold spores can be captured rather than circulated through the building.

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit baxtergroupinc.com.  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY e-book.

Can mold cause health problems?

By | Mold | No Comments

Can mold cause health problems?

Hay fever-type symptoms, sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, skin rash, shortness of breath, fatigue . . . are just a few symptoms experienced when someone has been exposed to an excess level of mold.  A person’s personal susceptibility and sensitivity will determine their response to a mold exposure.

Allergic reactions to mold are common.  Mold can also cause asthma attacks.  Research on mold and its impact on our health is ongoing.  It is believed that long-term exposure to excessive levels of mold can lead to cancer and auto-immune diseases.

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit baxtergroupinc.com.  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY e-book.

#breathehealthyinitiative

Why are we getting mold in our building?

By | Mold | No Comments

Why are we getting mold in our building?

 For mold to propagate, four things are needed to needed:

  • a mold spore,
  • something for it to attach to,
  • a nutrient, and
  • MOISTURE!

Mold spores are everywhere all the time.

Our indoor environment has plenty of things to attach to.

Nutrients for mold can include regular household dust and dander.

MOISTURE is the only thing we can control.

If you suspect a mold contamination, start by determining the source of the problem and addressing it.  Mold remediation is futile if the source of the moisture is not addressed.

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit baxtergroupinc.com.  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY e-book.

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WHAT ARE TYPICAL METHODS TO CONTROL WATER AND PREVENT WATER PENETRATION INTO A BASEMENT OR CRAWLSPACE?

By | Basement Water Control | No Comments

WHAT ARE TYPICAL METHODS TO CONTROL WATER AND PREVENT WATER PENETRATION INTO A BASEMENT OR CRAWLSPACE?

Water-control proofing methods are actually water-control methods. The water needs to be controlled to prevent it from penetrating the basement foundation or floor to divert it away from the building.

Water seepage in basement and crawl spaces usually occurs over long periods of time and can be caused by numerous factors.

A FULL assessment to identify the source of the problem is highly recommended and typically takes only 30 minutes to 2 hours and could involve:

  • Visual Walk-Through of the basement, crawl space, exterior of the property, and surrounding landscape
  • Pictures and drawings
  • Testing, if necessary
  • Written report of findings
  • Estimate including options for repair and price quote

Water-control methods could involve:

  • Proper landscaping
  • Repair or installation of proper gutter systems
  • Interior wall and floor sealers
  • Interior water drainage
  • Exterior drainage
  • Exterior waterproofing coatings
  • Foundation crack injections
  • Structural repairs to foundation walls

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit baxtergroupinc.com.  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY e-book.

What’s the first step in Evaluating & Eliminating Lead-Based Paint Hazards?

By | Lead | No Comments

What’s the first step in Evaluating & Eliminating Lead-Based Paint Hazards?

Lead inspections and lead risk assessments are useful first steps, which can lead to more thoughtful decisions on managing lead-based paint and lead hazards.

Lead abatement is an activity designed to permanently eliminate lead-based paint hazards. Abatement is sometimes ordered by a state or local government, and can involve specialized techniques not typical of most residential contractors.

EPA requires individuals and firms who perform abatement projects in pre-1978 target housing and child-occupied facilities to be certified and follow specific work practices.

Learn more about more about the Lead Abatement, Inspection and Risk Assessment by visiting the EPA website at https://www.epa.gov/lead/lead-abatement-inspection-and-risk-assessment

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit baxtergroupinc.com.  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY e-book.