Professional Disinfector Character in Overalls Processing Damaged Walls with Sprayer from Mold. Removal of Black Fungus in Apartment and House, Spraying Pesticide. Cartoon People Vector Illustration

What is that musty smell?

Do you have a musty smell in your home? There’s a good chance it could be mold. If you smell mold, you most likely have some mold present.  It might not be visible, but it can still be present.  The rule of thumb is if it’s under 10 square feet it can be cleaned up by the homeowner.  Anything over 10 square feet is recommended to be dealt with by licensed mold professionals.

How you clean it depends on what kind of material the mold is on.  You should speak to a professional before undertaking any mold cleanup to make sure you aren’t going to make the problem worse.  There are antimicrobial solutions available in stores that can be used to clean nonporous materials.  Porous materials can sometimes be cleaned by other methods but in some cases its best to discard them.  If it’s a very porous surface like furniture, carpeting or clothing it’s probably best to throw it away.

If you have had water intrusion such as flooding, or even minor long term water intrusion, the indoor air quality in your home may be seriously compromised. Even high humidity can lead to mold growth.  If you don’t remove the contaminated materials and reduce moisture and humidity it can present serious long-term health risks. Some people are more susceptible to mold allergies than others, but everyone is affected by toxic molds such as stachybotrys which releases mycotoxins.  There are many different types of molds so don’t be fooled by mold because it isn’t black as well as there are many types of molds that release mycotoxins.

If you need professional assistance, here’s how it works. New York State has instituted a licensing program to help people deal with mold problems. First, you contact a licensed mold assessor who will visit the property, analyze the situation, take samples, and send them to a laboratory, and ultimately come up with a remediation plan. Then, you can give the remediation plan to a Mold Remediator who will provide a price based on the plan the Mold Assessor designed. Once the project is completed, the Mold Assessor will come back and confirm the work was done properly and that there is no longer a mold problem.

As an aside, we recommend a dehumidifier for every basement or crawl space. We also recommend that the dehumidifier have an internal pump and hose to dispose of the water without needing to empty a bucket.

Safe Harbor has several licensed Mold Assessors on staff so if you ever have a question about mold, feel free to contact us.

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Close-up Of A Shocked Woman Looking At Mold On Wall

So what’s the story with Mold?

Many of our inspection clients (especially first-time homebuyers) are concerned about the presence of mold. Especially if they have young children.

There’s mold in the air wherever we go, even outside. But if there is a lot of mold inside, it may cause health issues.If there’s a musty smell, usually it’s because there’s mold. It can grow on cardboard, sheetrock, wood, carpets, clothing, etc. Anything organic, including dust.

If it’s a fairly small area, less than 10 square feet, it can be dealt with by a homeowner. A mixture of 10% bleach and 90% water in a spray bottle can do the trick. There are lots of DIY mold cleaning products available in home improvement stores.

If it’s a larger area, you should call a New York State licensed Mold Assessor who will analyze the situation and write a prescription (report) for curing the issue. (The assessor is forbidden to remediate because of the conflict of interest.)

A Mold Assessor typically takes swabs (samples) of the mold and does air tests in order to determine the extent and type of mold. The test materials get sent to a lab and ultimately the Mold Assessor will advise you what to do. Once you have the Assessor’s report, you can have a Remediator do the work.

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Are Dehumidifiers worth it?

I wanted to share my opinion with you about dehumidifiers. Basically, we feel that all basements should have dehumidifiers. Basements are inherently moist areas. As a result, mold, dust mites, wood destroying insects, and musty smells can develop.

We also feel that all dehumidifiers should have a pump and hose connection so that the water automatically gets pumped out of the structure rather than into a bucket that requires frequent emptying. (Dehumidifiers with a bucket are almost useless because we forget to empty the bucket and the dehumidifier turns itself off.)

Also, dehumidifiers can be adjusted so that they automatically turn off when the air is dry (so they don’t waste electricity). The adjustment dial is called a humidistat and should be set between 30% and 50% to reduce the possibility of excess moisture issues.

So, the bottom line is, properly set up dehumidifiers are absolutely worth it for the comfort and safety of your home. A good dehumidifier with a pump can be had for under $300 and it’s a great investment.

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