Recent Mold Remediation Posts

Mold vs Mildew: What's the Difference?

8/25/2022 (Permalink)

Let's face it... either way, you don't want to deal with either, but it's important to know and spot the difference between the two as a homeowner.

Mold and mildew are both fungi that can cause damage to your home. However, there are some key differences between the two that you should be aware of. Mold is a type of fungus that grows in damp environments, while mildew is a type of fungus that grows in moist environments. Mildew tends to be less harmful than mold, but both can cause health problems if they are not treated properly. In this blog post, we will discuss the differences between mold and mildew, as well as how to identify and treat these fungi if they occur in your home.

Mold is a type of fungus that grows in damp environments, such as bathrooms or basements. Mold can be black, white, green, or even pink. Mold is often fuzzy or slimy in appearance and can cause health problems if it is not removed properly. Some types of mold can release spores into the air, which can cause allergic reactions or respiratory problems.

Mildew is a type of fungus that grows in moist environments, such as laundry rooms or kitchens. Mildew is usually white or gray in appearance and can be powdery or fuzzy. Mildew does not usually cause health problems, but it can damage fabrics and surfaces if it is not removed properly.

If you think you have mold or mildew in your home, it is important to contact a professional for help. SERVPRO of Newtown Yardley New Hope is always here to help! We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and we have the training and experience necessary to safely and effectively remove mold and mildew from your home. Give us a call today to get started.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Mold Damage?

5/24/2019 (Permalink)

Mold damage in Morrisville, PA

When Mold Damage is Covered and When it Isn't

If you’ve found fungus growth in your home in Morrisville,PA, you are likely worried about the cost of removing the mold from your home and repairing any damage that has occurred. You may wonder whether your homeowners insurance policy will help cover mold damage and pick up some of the costs of hiring a mold remediation specialist to restore your home to its original condition. Here is some useful information on when mold damage is covered and when it isn’t.

Covered Perils

Most homeowners insurance plans do not include mold coverage. However, your insurance will pay for damage caused by a covered peril. While you will want to check your policy to be sure, most plans include the following covered perils:

  • Falling objects
  • Fire
  • Lightning
  • Frozen pipes
  • Theft or vandalism
  • Weight of ice, snow, sleet
  • Water overflow from plumbing, HVAC systems, sprinklers, or household appliances
  • Damage caused by vehicle

If fungus growth occurs because of any of these situations, your insurance will likely cover you. For example, if you experience a house fire, water used to extinguish the fire can result in water damage and mold growth. Your insurance would cover the costs of removing and repairing damage caused by the mold.

Preventable Circumstances

If mold growth occurs because of preventable circumstances like an undetected water leak, humidity or ventilation issues, or flooding, your insurance will likely not provide any coverage. However, there are exceptions to this rule, so you should always check your policy to make sure. Some insurance have a mold insurance cap and will help pay for specific services such as cleanup. You can also choose to pay extra to add mold coverage to your policy.

Dealing with the costs of fungus growth can be extremely stressful. Depending on your situation, your homeowners insurance policy might help pay for some the expenses. Review your policy to find out for sure.

3 Techniques for Mastering Mold Prevention in Your Bathroom

1/22/2019 (Permalink)

Always make sure to check your bathroom for buildup of moisture.

3 Techniques for Mastering Mold Prevention in Your Bathroom

Noticing a buildup of moisture in one or more of your household bathrooms should be a no-brainer, given that these are high-traffic areas in your Newtown, PA home. Unfortunately, this humidity problem means an accumulation that can lead to bathroom mildew or mold growth over time. If you want to create an environment that’s sustainably mildew and mold-free, follow these three techniques for mastering prevention and keeping any growth at bay.

1. Ensure that a fan or vent is located in the room. One of the easiest ways to prevent bathroom mildew is installing a ventilation system or simply storing a handheld fan in the bathroom. Keeping it running during your shower or bath, and not turning it off for 15-20 minutes after you bathe, can eliminate the chances of moisture from lingering or seeping into the walls.

2. Utilize a squeegee on your shower walls after bathing. It might seem odd for some to leave a squeegee in or nearby the shower, but its effectiveness in removing moisture from the shower tiles or glass panels makes it a very handy preventative tool. Simply taking an extra minute or two to wipe the walls dry after showering should give you a noticeable upgrade in moisture maintenance.

3. Wash your rugs and towels on a regular basis. While many bathroom accessories are designed to wick away moisture, towels and rugs are still not immune to soaking up all of the water around them, as it is their job to do so. Therefore, washing them on a consistent basis is necessary to prevent mildew or mold from settling into their fibers and creating the perfect breeding grounds for growth.

When you’re looking to sustain a clean, mold-free Newtown, PA home, following these easy and effective techniques for preventing bathroom mildew is a great place to start. Should you come across any mildew or mold that’s not a simple wipe-away cleaning job, it’s important to hire experienced mold remediation specialists who can handle the problem in a suitable manner.

What Happens When You Find Mold at Home

9/27/2018 (Permalink)

Mold Damage in a Commercial Building

What happens when someone finds mold damage at home or in the office? Is it something they can clean up on their own? Does mold damage require a professional mold removal company come out and handle the issue? If a little mildew or fungus is present, does it mean mold damage is inevitable? Is that smelly odor deodorization isn’t helping possibly the smell of mold damage somewhere in the house? Is remediation necessary? Is mitigation required?

These are just a few of the most commonly asked questions regarding mold damage and any presence of mold in the home or commercial mold damage. Everyone knows that this fungus is present, but few people imagine they’ll ever deal with the presence of this fungus at home or work. All this means is they aren’t sure how to handle this inconvenient fungus when they do find it. Anyone who finds mold in the home or commercial mold damage must call a professional mold removal service immediately. The benefit of going through remediation and mitigation with a mold removal company from the start is worthwhile.

Professional Mold Removal

When mold in the home or commercial mold damage occurs, it’s easy to assume it can be handled without the help of a mitigation or remediation company, and this is where people make their first mistake. Mold and mildew are not something to take lightly. This fungus might begin as a small amount of mildew somewhere in the home, but it can grow rapidly and spread quickly to other areas in the house. The more time mold has to get around the house, the more likely it is to cause serious damage to the walls and floors.

Remediation and mitigation are necessary because they both allow home and business owners a chance to tackle the problem from the start rather than waiting on it to get worse. These companies use professional equipment that’s designed to make mold easier to remove.

The Process

Once a professional company comes to remove mold in the home or commercial mold damage, they begin with the identification process. This is the process in which they go in and figure out precisely which kind of mold they’re working with. Once they know for certain what they’re working with, they are able to get rid of it more effectively.

The area in which mold forms first is then identified. It’s almost always an area where there is a leak or other water damage caused by a slow leak, a burst pipe, or another way water is entering a home. Once it’s found, the problem is fixed. Next, the company teaches people how to further avoid mold in the home or at work. They want the humidity level raised, and they want people to be very aware of how they can keep mold from forming again.

What are the signs of mold?

9/27/2018 (Permalink)

Is there a smelly odor at home? Is deodorization not doing much to make it go away? Is this smelly odor one with a bit of a musty smell to it? If any of this is going on and deodorization is not working, it’s because the problem requires more than deodorization to fix it. Mold can be covered up so it smells better at home or work, but that’s not the way to kill mildew or fungus. It must be killed and removed from the source, and this requires professional help.

Don't let a smelly odor that disappears with a little fragrance go unchecked.

When mold is present in the home, it’s imperative people find a pro to help remove it. If even the smallest amount of mold is left in the home or at the office, it’s going to spread rapidly. It’s going to move from one place to another in as little as three days and cause damage that’s much more expensive. Mold removal is a job that must be done correctly the first time.

Visit for more information on mold damage.

Calling a Professional for Mold Remediation

6/25/2018 (Permalink)

Mildew is not a sure sign of mold, but it’s a sign that it might be able to grow. There is a common misconception that mold cannot occur anywhere but bathrooms and basements, and it’s wise to realize this is not true. Mold can grow anywhere, and it’s professional mold removal and remediation that helps. Mitigation cannot wait when mold becomes a problem.

Black Mold Mitigation

When mold is a problem in your home, mitigation is the answer. This is the only way to ensure mold is removed completely from the home or office. Professionals come in using specialized equipment to locate mold, problem areas, and to stop growth. Mold doesn’t just happen overnight without water damage and high humidity, which is why anytime there is a leak or flood there is a higher level of danger for mold formation.

Calling a professional allows you to rest in assurance there is an end in sight. Professional removal means you have the option to prevent mold in the future, which is what many homeowners and business owners consider a good deal. Paying a professional now means keeping mold removal costs down in the future, because mold that comes back when you attempt to do it yourself is a much larger problem than you might imagine. Visit for more information on mold removal and remediation.

Are Environmental Hygienists Really Necessary?

5/16/2018 (Permalink)

When you can see (and smell) mold growing up the walls and on the surfaces of your Newtown, PA home, do you really need a certified environmental hygienist to tell you that you have a problem and you need a proper mold cleaning? In short, the answer is yes. While you can find the mold that’s visible with the naked eye, an environmental hygienist can do so much more. The resources available to most homeowners only allow you to scratch the surface of mold identification and remediation.

So What Can an Environmental Hygienist Do That I Can’t Do?

Environmental hygienists are trained and certified in mold identification, mold cleaning, mold remediation, and more. Understanding mold infestations in the home is a complex science. Environmental hygienists can:

• Use complex instrumentation to detect mold in hidden places
• Identify the types of mold and the dangers they may pose to your home
• Ensure proper use of protective safety equipment when dealing with mold on surfaces and throughout your home
• Counsel on appropriate mold remediation methods
• Effectively address the source of the mold to prevent future outbreaks, including identifying leaks or humidity issues

What an environmental hygienist’s certification promises is safety. Environmental hygienists are certified to ensure they handle any mold contamination or infestation as safely as possible without further spreading the outbreak or causing additional issues that might damage your home.

Can’t I Just Use a Home Test?

Home tests aren’t as reliable as you think, and can often either lead you down the wrong path or cause greater frustration. You’re constantly surrounded by mold spores in your natural environment, so a mold test will always return false positives without pointing you to the source of a real infestation. An environmental hygienist’s equipment and knowledge can provide laser-sharp accuracy in pinpointing the actual source of a mold outbreak, and recommending mold cleaning and remediation solutions.
Visit for more information on mold. 

3 Reasons Not To Use Bleach for Mold Cleanup

4/28/2018 (Permalink)

Give SERVPRO a call if you notice mold growing in your home or business.

If your commercial property in Newtown, PA has an infestation of mold, resist the urge to clean it with bleach. While the instructions on the bottle may promise proper disinfection, it is not effective for fungus cleanup and may actually make the problem worse. There are several reasons why it is not appropriate for mold remediation.

1. It does not kill mold. Bleach gives the appearance of eradicating mold without any real results. The change in color you see when applying this solution to help you clean up mold is merely the leaching of the color from the fungus. The mold is still there; it’s just in a lighter shade. It also is not meant to be used on porous surfaces. Mold, however, establishes its roots in porous surfaces, making it an ineffective solution.

2. It can make your mold problem worse. Rather than destroying mold growth and aiding in fungus cleanup, bleaching can actually encourage growth. Mold thrives in moist environments, and the solution in the bottle is mostly water. When you apply it to the area where the growth occurs, you are probably feeding the fungus more than you’re hurting it.

3. It is corrosive and can cause damage to the surfaces you are trying to save. In addition to being ineffective and counterproductive, bleaching can cause corrosion to the surface where the mold is growing. It can break down drywall and destroy the fibers in wood surfaces. When this corrosive element is combined with the toxic fumes it releases, it is not much better for your building than the mold that is growing there.

There are many solutions better suited to fungus cleanup than bleach. Mold remediation specialists in Newtown, PA can assess the damage and get rid of the problem with tried-and-true methods. It is best to avoid trying to resolve the issue yourself. Not only does bleaching not get rid of the mold problem, but it can also make the mold growth harder for the professionals to tackle. Visit for more information on mold. 

What Do Hygienists Do?

3/26/2018 (Permalink)

The mold growing on this door has a random pattern.

Industrial hygienists work to protect individuals and communities by providing precise analysis and informed insight into the environmental effects of known health and safety hazards, such as mold. If you are deciding whether to contact a hygienist to assess mold damage in your home in advance of mold cleaning or mold remediation, you should look for a certified hygienist in Newtown, PA who specializes in mold.

A hygienist may identify mold based on either or both of these methods:

• Microscopy: This visual method of mold analysis allows specialists to identify the type or genus of the fungus. Depending on the lab, this method may result in an accurate identification in as little as two days.

• Culturing: This method involves growing mold in a petri dish and provides more detailed results, including the subspecies of the mold sample. This method is slower and more costly.

An experienced hygienist can rely on one or both of these methods to help you determine which type of mold is growing in your home. They can also offer professional insight regarding remediation strategies that you should hire specialists to pursue. Some companies that provide mold cleaning services also have certified hygienists on staff. You may want to seek the opinion of an independent hygienist to ensure that a remediation service is making the best choices for your situation. The expertise of a hygienist may be beneficial before and after the remediation process. A hygienist can make sure that all traces of mold have been removed prior to restoration.

Industrial hygienists may be certified by the American Board of Industrial Hygiene or hold other certifications that indicate their awareness of and compliance with industry-wide health and safety standards for mold cleaning. A hygienist may be able to help you make the most informed remediation and restoration decisions as you deal with mold damage in Newtown, PA. Visit for more information on mold. 

How SERVPRO Conducts Mold Remediation in Your Makefield Home

3/26/2018 (Permalink)

Mold and Fungi are extremely common in our environment, unfortunately, we don't always need them in our homes and businesses. Call us today!

While there are numerous challenges that homeowners can experience in Fairless Hills, dealing with the presence of mold in their residential property can be particularly difficult. Luckily, retaining a professional mold remediation service like SERVPRO can help you limit and eliminate mold growth in your home. Learn more about this important matter by reviewing the following short outline:

The Benefits of Professional Mold Remediation Services

There are many benefits that result from hiring a professional mold remediation service. The professionals from SERVPRO conduct a detailed inspection to determine the source or sources of the mold growth. In addition to locating the source of mold growth, our professional remediation specialists are effective in fixing the cause of water leakage to prevent future growth of mold by eliminating moisture. Extensive training gives us the option, when needed, to utilize specific containment techniques to isolate and destroy the mold. We can utilize negative pressure chambers to prevent mold spore from cross-contamination. And to prevent the mold from returning to the treated areas, SERVPRO mold remediation experts will disinfect and use deodorizing absorbing foggers to purify, not mask the air.  More specialized filtering gear such as "air scrubbers" and HEPA vacuum help to prevent the migration of mold spores.

The mold remediation includes a clean up process dependent upon your personal home situation in Makefield. After the antifungal and antibacterial chemicals have been applied, the focus is put upon cleaning furniture, clothing, drapes, and your important possessions. Any porous materials like drywall or carpeting that are infested with mold will be removed from the premises. Mold remediation is the process of returning your home to a healthy environment and stopping structural damage to your building and its contents. Since mold spores are endemic to the air, it would be a mistatement to say that we can eliminate all mold from your home.

In recognizing all of the benefits and the difficulties involved in achieving positive results, it makes sense to make the call to SERVPRO. Our expert technicians have extensive IICRC training, the most current industrial grade equipment, and the will to successfully return your home in Makefield to a safe haven for your and your family.

Locally Owned Company with National Resources

We live and work in Fairless Hills too; we might even be neighbors. As a locally owned and operated business, SERVPRO of Newtown Yardley is close by to New Hope, Wrightstown, and Washington's Crossing and ready to help with your mold-damaged property. Please call us for help. (215) 785-1777

Control the Moisture, Control the Mold

2/26/2018 (Permalink)

Did you know that mold spores exist almost everywhere?

It’s true – but most buildings will have a low enough presence that it has little to no impact on a healthy individual. Problems do occur, however, when mold is given the perfect environment in which to grow and thrive. It is important to be aware of what these conditions are so you can take the appropriate measures to prevent them.


Mold needs the following conditions to grow:

• Presence of spores
• A food source (i.e. paper, wood, dirt, drywall)
• Low light
• Warm temperatures
• Oxygen
• High levels of humidity or moisture for 24 to 48 hours

Overall, moisture has been shown to be the biggest contributing factor to mold growth. The key to preventing this growth is controlling this element within your building. Areas such as kitchens, basements, bathrooms, and cleaning closets may be especially susceptible to humidity or moisture that may lead to mold growth.

Moisture Problems

What are some causes of moisture that you should be aware of? General humidity levels, leaking pipes, condensation, poor ventilation, flooding, damp basements and leaking roofs are all causes of moisture that could lead to mold.

The most obvious cause of a mold-friendly environment in your commercial building would be a water leak of some sort. The culprit might be a broken pipe, a damaged roof or the aftermath of a flood, among other things. If your business has experienced any of these problems, it is important to fix the issue and dry the area as quickly as possible. Mold growth can occur within 24 to 48 hours of a water issue, so the longer water damage persists, the costlier the remediation will be.

If you suspect you have a mold problem due to its visual presence or a persistent musty smell, you may want to call in a mold specialist in Newtown, PA, to assess the damage. Leaving mold to its own devices can cause extensive damage and lead to issues no business owner wants to deal with.

Five Critical Steps to Home or Office Mold Remediation

7/25/2017 (Permalink)

Five Critical Steps to Home or Office Mold Remediation

If you are concerned about possible mold damage in your home or office, here are five important steps to follow. Doing so will help to limit or contain fungus and mildew, which may also reduce mitigation costs. Mold growth can occur very rapidly, especially mold growth behind wall areas where you cannot see it. Often, mold in home or office locations will occur due to weather-related damage, flooding due to home appliances such as a broken sump pump, or poor air circulation throughout the building. For help in deciding whether you need to address mold removal or consult remediation specialists, check the following.

Check for a mold smell.

Sniff around the suspected areas of mold damage to see if you notice a fungus odor. It smells like mildew, rancid and stale. If you do notice a smelly odor, you might have mold damage. Fortunately, clean-up initiatives include deodorization, so the smelly odor will not linger afterward. However, detecting the scent of fungus suggests you may want to contact a mold mitigation specialist for advice for help in searching for mold in home areas that are hard to see and likely request deodorization service.

Look for discolored fungus growth.

Finding mold in home environments often requires the help of a commercial mold damage specialist with experience in residential and commercial structures. A skilled restoration company knows where to look and how to evaluate fungal growth or mildew that may be signs of serious mold damage. Mold can be almost any color, and is sometimes multi-colored, so it may take commercial mold damage experts to determine whether mildew patches in your basement, attic, or walls are evidence of dry rot or mold growth. Black mold is especially hazardous, but any kind of mold growth, no matter the color, should be analyzed by a professional restoration company for accurate assessment.

Test home or office structures for mold.

In addition to noticing a smelly odor or discolored patches of fungus growing in a building, remediation experts can advise how to check for any signs of mold growth behind walls. Using special instruments, skilled mold removal technicians can look for mold in home areas that are not readily accessible, such as behind walls or under flooring. An experienced restoration company knows where to look and how to evaluate the findings as to whether the building has residential or commercial mold damage or a case of dry rot. Since mold can cause dry rot or develop from it, professional evaluation is needed. If no smelly odor is detected, deodorization may help to prevent residual moldy smell following remediation treatment. Mitigation experts can also distinguish between dry rot, mildew, and mold and recommend appropriate treatment. Hidden black mold is important to find before it circulates through a building's HVAC system.

Follow recommended procedures.

Working with a qualified restoration company, follow their recommendations to support the mitigation process for containment and mold removal. If a building is water damaged, try to remove the water to prevent mold growth. Avoid disturbing moldy patches, as movement may spread the spores. Don't use the air conditioner or heater during remediation until all mold is removed, mold growth behind walls. Those allergic to mold may want to leave the structure until mold removal treatment is complete, as well as deodorization. Commercial mold damage mitigation may require the building to be closed temporarily if the problem is substantial.

Recheck treated areas.

Most professional remediation treatments are effective and lasting. However, some forms of mold are hard to find, or they may grow back after removal. Black mold and any mold growth behind walls should especially be double-checked.

Building mold is not uncommon and can usually be readily treated by professionals. Consult mold removal experts if you suspect mold growth.
Visit for more information on mold.

Containment: The Weapon of Choice in Mold Remediation

3/16/2017 (Permalink)

The rooms are completely sealed before any mold work can be done. SERVPRO can help you out with any of your mold needs.

As a “mold warrior” or more commonly known in the correct circles, a mold remediator, you are constantly fighting a war.

Whether daily, weekly or monthly, you battle against a very small, incredibly durable, micro-sized enemy, invisible to the naked eye.

This enemy has the ability to survive a wide range of temperatures, can withstand harsh chemical attack, cannot be drowned and has an uncanny ability to camouflage itself among the most ordinary dust.  Give it a bit of food and moisture, and it will reproduce itself at such phenomenal rates that even the most sophisticated video processor available would have difficulty showing the process on your X-Box console.

We're talking about fungal particulate- whole intact spores capable of germinating, broken spore fragments, and pieces of the bodies of living and desiccated molds which, when inhaled by unsuspecting human hosts, can have drastic health effects.

The great mold warriors we meet and work with on a daily basis all have a common advantage- like the greatest generals in history, they know their enemy. More specifically they know and understand that the greatest strength of their enemy is its invisibility.

Before your own battle begins, you have to understand that you must strategically approach the enemy by devising systems to discover, collect, and contain it which will work despite your inability to visualise its presence. 

Begin your battle by heeding the current Nobel Laureate for literature:  "The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind." [Of course that was an anti-war song…but let's not get too hung up in details…]

Since we know our enemy, we know it's greatest weakness - it cannot move on its own accord.  It is entirely dependent on air currents to power its invasion. Manage the skies, and you will win the war.

Erecting containment and generating and directing the air flow within that containment will enable us to win the air war, by controlling the enemy's movement. 

Where is the most strategic location of this containment?  It should be placed as close to the source of invasion as possible while still permitting us to gain access and accomplish our work.

Taken to its extreme, if it allows you to do what you need, it can be as small as a glove bag over a pipe, such as is used by our asbestos warrior brethren.

One of the most common flaws in mold remediation projects is a containment structure that is larger than it needs to be:  Larger containments require more equipment for managing airflow, have more possible leak points, and require more time and effort to decontaminate prior to de-mobilisation. While erecting a containment, one must carefully balance the trade-offs between size and work access. 

To do so, one can rely on the knowledge of experienced mold warriors and follow the established principles. 

Principle #1:

Choose the smallest possible surface area with the fewest "seams" that will get the job done cost-effectively.

A curtain is the structure for our containment but a curtain does not cause air to flow.  Fans cause air to flow.  If we are to control the air war, we need to control the airflow. For true functionality, we need fans capable of creating a pressure differential of sufficient magnitude that it can overcome any other air currents, but not too strong that it creates eddy currents in the opposite direction (watch the area upstream of a large rock in a swift-flowing river and see the direction of flow of fallen leaves.  Air is just thin water, both are fluids, and both behave identically). To control the air war, control the airflow by sealing the edges of the containment.

Principle #2

Effectively seal the edges of your containment.

The amount of suck we apply to our containment is determined by the amount of leakage, regardless of the size of the internal area of the containment (really!).  Build a containment with minimal leakage, and a specified pressure differential can be maintained with a small fan. Build one with lots of leakage and it will require a lot more suck to be effective.

Sealing the edges will ensure that the leakage into the containment comes mostly through the intended pathways - the traffic area for personnel and equipment, and the waste removal area (these can be the same).  We will need inward airflow in these transit areas to prevent dust containing our enemy to escape by hitching a free ride alongside people and equipment.  (Stealthy, huh?)

Build a containment where most of the volume of air exhausted by the fans is used to overcome diffuse leakage from poorly sealed edges and the directional airflow will not be easily achieved and maintained where it is most needed.  

It should go without saying that leaving gaping holes (or multiple small holes) at the edges of the containment will dramatically increase the amount of fan power necessary to ensure inward flow of air.  Leave a large enough effective leakage area, and your chosen fan will not be big enough to create inward flow.  How to be sure we've not made this mistake?

Principle #3

Always measure and monitor the pressure differential of containment using appropriate instrumentation to ensure adequate airflow management.

Fortunately, we have a way of measuring whether the fan size is properly matched to the effective open area of the containment by measuring pressure differential. An electronic or mechanical dial-type instrument known as a manometer or micromanometer, with one tube attached to the interior of the containment and one tube attached to the exterior of the containment will show precisely how good a job you've done in sealing those edges.

Whether you express this differential in pascals (metric) or inches of water column (an obsolete system surprisingly still used by otherwise intelligent people) it should match your company's SOPs or the job specification’s recommended pressure differentials for containments. The correct differential will provide sufficient flow for controlling our enemy's movements without creating eddy currents allowing them to sneak through our defenses.

Build a good containment with sealed edges and monitor the pressure differential and you effectively have both structure AND functionality. 

Principle #4

Ensure that the make-up air entering the containment is free of both fungal particulate and general particulate by minimizing the volume of air and HEPA filtering it prior to entry.

There is another reason to properly seal the edges.  Since our enemy is camouflaged within ordinary dust, all leakage points are sources for the entry of external dust.  There are two ways this can lead to problems. 

One is if that dust is hiding our enemy - the classic Trojan horse invasion.  If there is a source of fungal particulate outside the containment, it can be brought in with the containment make-up air.  Our efforts to remove the fungal particulate within the containment will then be compromised by an ongoing source of new fungal particulate from outside the containment, and no matter how much cleaning we do it will be replaced with new fungal particulate. Not a situation leading to victory in the war.

Secondly, if the areas outside the containment are dusty, or contaminated with construction or demolition debris absent fungal particulate, we will have a very difficult time achieving clean interior surfaces within the containment and will likely fail a visual inspection, despite the absence of fungal particulate.

 Therefore you cannot get away with a sloppy leaky containment and more fans, even if they are maintaining adequate pressure differential. Install the HEPA filter in a location that creates the airflow through the entry/exit points that is most beneficial. 

Follow these four principles, and shortly you will find your rising up the ranks to command your elite warriors.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

Know When to Say No in Mold Remediation Projects

2/6/2017 (Permalink)

Home covered throughout in mold.

January 6, 2017

Michael A. Pinto 

I really do feel sorry for somebody trying to learn the English language. One of the things that makes it so difficult is the large number of “homophones” - words that sound the same when spoken but are spelled differently and have different meanings.  The most common English homophones are to, too, and two.  Since they sound the same, the listener has to figure out which one applies based on the context of the conversation.

Another homophone which is more important to restoration contractors are the words “know” and “no”.  Understanding the importance and power of these words is critical for all cleaning and restoration professionals, especially for those offering mold remediation services. 

Knowing About the Standard of Care is Critical

As an example, think of the importance of the word “know” for someone who decides to offer services related to the investigation or control of fungal contamination.  Although there are many regulations that apply to mold remediation work (employment rules, safety standards, fire codes, and the like) the core practices for professional mold removal and cleanup are determined by a standard of care. If somebody working in that field does not know of the existence of this standard of care, they may come to the mistaken impression that they can perform a mold inspection or remediation however they like because “there are no regulations”.  In many such cases, the client who knows better has resorted to the legal system to get the mistakes corrected that such a naïve assumption by the contractor caused.

Mold professionals ‘in the know” also realize no single document fully describes the current standard of care. As good as the IICRC S520 or New York City mold remediation guidelines are, neither one completely captures all the details and nuances of the current standard of care.  Therefore, if a building owner, insurance adjuster, or consultant insists that the contractor follow some detail in one of those documents that does not make sense in contrast to the bigger picture of the standard of care, the best response is to say no.

Saying No to Bad Work Plans Means Saying Yes To Good Work Plans

The simple truth of mold remediation projects and legal responsibility is that the contractor is ultimately accountable for the success of the project. Mold control professionals should not follow bad advice, even from someone with credentials. Doing something you know is outside the standard of care just because it is in the work scope or written remediation plan runs the risk of endangering the crew members, negatively impacting the occupants, and even damaging the building or contents. 

Two real-life examples illustrate the importance of saying no to someone who does not know what they are talking about. 

Example #1

A contractor responding to storm damage in Florida sought us out to provide some support to his “no” to an insurance adjuster.  In this particular case the roof of a law office had been severely damaged in a storm.  The second floor offices were flooded and power outages in the entire area kept water extraction and drying from starting for nearly a week. The initial response by a contractor who did not have the equipment and manpower to handle that size job added another week before the professional contractor took over.  By that point, the gypsum board backing behind the hardwood mahogany paneling had developed extensive fungal colonies.

The contractor talked to the insurance adjuster about readjusting their reserves for the project.  All of the mahogany paneling had to come down so that they could access the gypsum, with no guarantee that they could reinstall the original material in a fashion that would return the building to a preloss condition.  In response, the adjuster instructed the contractor to leave the paneling in place and utilize an ozone flooding technique to kill all the mold behind the mahogany woodwork. 

Knowing that following such a plan would put the occupants at risk for continuing health problems in the future from the “dead” mold as well as putting his organization at risk of a lawsuit from the occupants who were attorneys, the contractor solicited assistance in explaining the standard of care to the adjuster.  Pointing out that multiple documents clearly state the use of gaseous ozone in place of physical removal is unacceptable helped to push the adjuster toward approving proper remediation.  The deciding factor was some background information on the building occupants — a legal firm that had been successful in a number of high profile mold cases for the plaintiffs.  Explaining that the policyholder was definitely in the know regarding mold helped the contractor’s “no” stand up under pressure.

Example #2

Another case where knowing better helped to support a “no” answer involved an apartment used for a marijuana grow operation. By the time apartment managers entered the unit, the crop had been harvested and all that was left behind was the interior that looked like a jungle. Grass and moss several inches high covered nearly the entire carpet. Multicolored fungal contamination, including large black patches that tested out as Stachybotrys, blanketed the walls and ceiling in a quilt-like pattern.

Because of the expected extent of the remediation, the property’s insurance representative was brought in.  They provided a certified industrial hygienist to conduct the investigation and write the remediation work plan.  The contractor who had a pre-existing service agreement to provide fire and water restoration services to the entire complex was presented with a mold remediation plan and immediately said no. 

Although the work scope did require removal of all carpeting and interior finish gypsum board, it specifically stated that no negative pressure enclosure or bagging of the waste was necessary.  The work plan instructed the contractor to open the sliding glass door to the balcony, allow outside air to dilute the indoor contamination, and toss the removed materials into a dumpster that was to be set up in the courtyard below. The hygienist even opined that the open door would minimize the airborne concentration levels to the point where workers did not have to use personal protective equipment.  To support their viewpoint the consultant noted there were no current permissible exposure levels for mold or regulatory mandates regarding remediation practices in that particular state.

The contractor involved explained how the standard of care is designed to protect nearby occupants.  The hygienist’s belief that the firewalls separating the various apartments would keep any contamination from entering adjacent spaces was countered by both contractor and the apartment maintenance staff who knew from experience that even block firewalls under the finish material are rarely airtight. In that case, knowing from experience was more important than knowing from a textbook.

Not knowing all the salient details was also important to saying no to the idea of throwing un-containerized waste from the second floor balcony into a dumpster.  Just asking the consultant if they knew all of the underlying health issues of all of the apartment dwellers that surrounded the courtyard where the dumpster would be was enough to get them to rethink the cost-saving measure of handling mold-contaminated debris in that fashion.

Know and No Often Go Hand-in-Hand

There are many more examples I could share about mold remediation contractors who have used their “know-power” to support their “no-power”.  Many mold remediation professionals are even extending their know how in order to say no to a potential client who they know from experience will not be a good match for their type and quality of services. This proactive use of the word no may seem like it is giving up business, but in many cases knowing when to say no will save your business.