Benefits of hiring a general contractor

8 Benefits of Hiring a General Contractor

Construction projects are complex irrespective of their type. Any construction project will involve a considerable amount of workforce each of who might have to complete some unique tasks. The race against deadlines, the availability of resources, and the resource allocation often contributes to the complexity.

This is where a general contractor can turn out to be a godsend.

What is a general contractor?

A general contractor can be the main or prime contractor who is in charge of the routine supervision of the construction site. The general contractor brings all the vendors, trades, and other stakeholders under one umbrella to ensure clear-cut communication and the deadlines are met.

If the above explanations are not sufficient, read on for some points that will answer your question “Why should I hire a general contractor?”

Saves time

Construction projects can span from a few months to years. Unforeseen circumstances like bad weather or lockdowns could slow down or even bring the project progress to a standstill. This is where the expertise of a general contractor can come in handy.

An experienced general contractor always has most of these unforeseen barriers on the cards and can schedule his subcontractors efficiently. He would also have the expertise to handle issues that may arise promptly and his negotiation skills can help manage most setbacks.

Saves money

Store A sells the construction material that you need for $$ and is of high quality and Store B sells the same material that you need for $ but is of moderate quality.

An inexperienced contractor would go for Store B. However, an experienced contractor, with his connections and negotiating skills can get material from Store A at a discounted rate thereby ensuring quality and affordability.

Moreover, subcontractors are known to charge more when working under the building owner. To subcontractors, general contractors are a major source of continuous projects, which makes them charge less.

Moreover, general contractors are in the position to place projects on bids, which creates competition and thereby reduces the project budget further.

Adds versatility to project planning

With his network of subcontractors and vendors, you could pull off any construction project type with the assistance of an experienced general contractor. This gives you an option to be flexible even if you need some minor improvisations during the project.

Moreover, you also have the option to share your ideas and requirements with a general contractor and he can come up with some custom options to choose from.

Covers licensing and insurance

Hiring a licensed general contractor contributes to the smooth functioning of the project. This ensures that the project is progressing as per the rules and regulations put forward by the state or county. With liability insurance, you won’t be responsible for any construction site accidents that may occur.

Single communication point

Dealing with a plethora of subcontractors and vendors can be a hassle. Imagine getting the overall project status from a single experienced contractor who can answer all your questions and seems to have things under control. This is exactly what you’ll get if you hire an experienced and licensed subcontractor.

Constant updates and feedbacks

Constant progress updates are vital to ensure that the project meets the deadline. Your general contractor can offer constant updates and even offer some suggestions to improvise as per the market conditions.

Experience

Your general contractor is your eyes and ears in the market. His experience will allow him to foresee scenarios and act smart to ensure that everything is under control. For example, news related to a ban on certain construction material could reach his ears before the ban is in place.

Even if the material is not banned straight away, working with an alternative material will help you prevent chaos in the long run.

Better budget control

With the proper management of vendors, subcontractors, and other stakeholders, you could expect the project to be completed in budget or even less than the budget on some occasions. This is where the excess money can flow back to you.

Hiring a licensed general contractor could be the ultimate means of having total control of your construction project, especially if you work around the clock.

Home Reconstruction & Insurance Coverage Things to Know

Home Reconstruction & Insurance Coverage: Things to Know

Losing your home to a fire, flood or other natural disasters can be heart-breaking. To add to your misery, what if you do not receive the expected coverage from your insurance career? nothing worse, right?

Natural disasters are always unpredictable, with one on the radar; you do not have any other option rather than leaving the comfort of your home to a safer place. Damages to properties, especially houses are inevitable during natural disasters.

Once the chaos dies down, you should be certain about engaging in some level of residential reconstruction work. This is where you would look at different options regarding insurance coverage, their policies, exclusions, and inclusions.

This post will feature some residential insurance coverage regulations worth understanding.

Insured value assessment

Once residential reconstruction is on the charts, the first step is to compare the reconstruction estimate with the insured value. Any damage to residential properties is often marked as emergency situations.

With a non-functioning house, you might not have a place to stay; this is where you might be compelled to reconstruct the property as quickly as possible while overlooking the price of necessary raw materials. If you do not take some time to foresee the financial aspects and compare the insured value against the reconstruction estimate, you will always end up paying additional amount to the insurance carrier.

Coverage type

It is mandatory to look into the insurance cover type when choosing a package. The commonly chosen standard insurance cover might not cover everything that your property needs.

For instance, standard residential insurance cover usually covers fires, hail and windstorm damage, but something like an earthquake and flood coverage can come as ‘optional’.

Prepare an estimate

An accurate reconstruction estimate can do wonders when it comes to ensuring that the whole process progresses smoothly. Consider getting multiple quotes prior to putting pen on paper.

Factor in any additional cost aspect which is not covered under insurance. For instance, before the reconstruction work starts, you need to clean your house and perform some inspects like mold or mildew. These costs are usually not covered under standard insurance packages.

Collect evidence

It is recommended to take pictures and compiling an inventory of the contents in your house to be provided to an insurance assessor if you decide to claim.

Reconstructing your house can be a painful task. You need a considerable amount of effort to get the insurance paperwork right. Choosing a reconstruction company that can assist you with insurance paper works is another smart way of tackling the situation. Always stick with a professional company that abides by the standards like IICRC best practices and have significant certifications and reviews.

Wooden Floor Damage in house west palm beach

Wooden Floor Damage Causes & Solutions

Hardwood flooring is an influential element when considering the aesthetics of any residential property. Being a preferable choice among the modern-day homeowners or builders, its maintenance can be a bit challenging. Unfortunately, this flooring type if vulnerable to water damage, time decay, or even humidity changes.

This post highlights the different causes and solutions to hardwood flooring damage.

Causes

Mold: mold growth can be a prime trigger for your hardwood floor damage. Mold growth beneath the wood surface, subflooring, or framing and sheathing can catalyze the time decay process and make your floor non-usable in no time.

If your wooden floor is mold-infested, you would come across symptoms like the musty smell, which may get stronger with high humidity levels.

Finding, identifying, and testing the mold requires professional testing and handling. If you find mold within the wooden structures after performing a cut test, it would be ideal to hand the situation over to a mold/environmental testing specialist.

Water damage: Water damage to wooden flooring is often hard to prevent. However, smart thinking and quick responses can help you to keep the concern under check on most occasions. Keep an eye out for the following risks related to water damage to wooden flooring.

  • Leaky ceiling
  • Plumbing leaks or a drippy faucet
  • Indoor tracking in of rain or snow
  • Dog water bowl splashes and drool

Using a water-absorbent material or mats on areas vulnerable to water splashes or spills is an ideal means to control the situation.

Using a silicone mat on the area just beneath the kitchen sink and the front door of your house can be a good start. If you have toddlers at home, it is ideal not to feed them near wooden flooring.

Pet stains: pets can contribute in their own way to catalyze wooden floor damage. Pet urine can be strong enough to infiltrate through the wooden layers and reach depths where no amount of sanding will help to remove it.

Additionally, pets with untrimmed nails can be a walking indoor disaster. Drooling can also retain stains on the wooden flooring. When managing pets indoors, prepare a spot for them away from the wooden floor. Consider getting them pet beds and also groom them on a regular basis.

Heavy furniture: heavy bookshelves, sofas, and the dining tables can dent or scratch your wooden flooring. Place them away from wooden floors if possible. Another smart alternative is to use gliders for your furniture.

Work with a professional

Identifying wooden floor damage early can make the fix easier. However, if you overlook the condition and leave it unsupervised for too long, you might end up paying a hefty bill in terms of finance, time and comfort. Consulting a certified wooden floor damage specialist as early as possible can be the key to save money and time on most of the occasions.

Damage to wooden floors from issues like mold infestation can be hard to diagnose. This issue if left to prevail can be equally harmful to your health and the building structure. Foresee these factors and take the necessary steps for long term protection.

Mold-inside-the-drywall-in-a-house-in-Jupiter

What to Expect from a Professional Mold Removal Service

If not handled properly, mold growth in houses and offices can be a recurring problem. Incidents of mold growth disrupting the lives of people have increased in the past two years.

With the rise in indoor fungal and bacterial contaminations, the task of finding a professional mold removal services has become a challenge.

Once you observe those obvious signs of mold growth in your house or office and feel that things are getting out of hand, you need to hire a mold remediation specialist.

The checklist below will provide you a snapshot of how a professional mold removal service operates.

Assessment Checklist

Since mold growth is usually visible, your remediator will start with a visual assessment to understand the extent of mold contamination.

The specialist can also use high powered light sources coupled with fiber-optic borescopes to survey hidden areas like cavities.

Additional industry-level tools/equipment will be used for the assessment; which will be discussed later in this post.

A mold removal specialist can also interview the occupants of the building to understand the following:

  • The extent of mold contamination
  • Events of water incursion in the past, if any and the pertinent details like how, where, type and how long
  • Whether infected areas have been covered in the past with paints, sealants or other coatings
  • The history of the building (this information will come in handy for the documentation process, which will be discussed later.)

detailed picture of mold inside drywall
Mold equipment

Mold assessment and removal equipment used by mold cleanup services. Following factors will influence usage of equipment in this list.

  • Geo location
  • Structure type, age, materials involved
  • Mold contamination level

Assessment/inspection equipment: Your mold remediation specialist should use some or all the below listed equipment to analyze and document the status of the structure, infected area and systems during remediation.
A professional mold removal company uses the same assessment tools and equipment at the same geo-location to ensure the following:

  • Consistent data collection
  • Accurate project forecasting
  • Accurate budgeting and post-cleanup evaluations

Moisture sensors: Moisture sensors are used to determine the moisture levels in multiple materials. The device has multiple pins that penetrate the material to provide moisture level readings audibly or visually. These sensors help remediators to identify things that are beyond repair.

Moisture meters: Mold specialist uses moisture meters to review the moisture levels of materials with known or acceptable moisture content.

The result from the moisture meters are compared with the acceptable moisture content in materials and used to set target drying goals.

Thermo-hygrometer: professional mold specialists will use the same thermo-hygrometer to read determine the temperature and relative humidity in the contaminated area.

Environmental conditions are documented before, during and after remediation. If fluctuations in readings indicate conditions that support microbial growth, remediators take preventive measures.

IR Thermometers & Thermal imaging devices: IR Thermometer and imaging devices are used to detect moisture level fluctuations on material surfaces.

IR and thermal devices cannot provide moisture readings within the material. These tools list the materials eligible for a moisture meter check.

Supplemental systems: heating systems, air conditioning equipment and power generators can fall under supplemental systems.

Remediators use these systems when gas, fuel oil and electrical systems need to be disconnected as part of remediation efforts.

Any supplemental mechanical system used should adhere to the local laws and regulations set by the federal, country or the state.

Removal materials/equipment: a professional mold remediation service will strategize the remediation process using the following removal equipment.

6-mil polyethylene sheets/ bags: uncontaminated or occupied areas in the building are separated from the contaminated area using 6-mil polyethylene sheets.

Materials beyond repair are securely sealed using 6-mil polyethylene bags and discarded in composing landfill rather than recycling landfill.

Antimicrobial coatings and sealants: Water-based coatings and sealants with a standard permeability rating of minimum 1.0 perms as per ASTM D-1653 should be used.

Low odor, low volatile organic compound-driven and the ones that don’t create a vapor barrier are usually preferred.

Chemicals: A mold removal specialist will only use chemicals or antimicrobials in conjunction with proper cleaning standards.

The source removal of mold contamination is always the priority. Indiscriminate use of antimicrobials, coatings, and sealants can trigger health concerns like asthma, headache, and itchy eyes.

Mold inside piping system in a house in Jupiter

Safety work practice checklist

A professional mold remediation service adopts the best workplace safety precautions. Some of these restrictions or precautions are:

  • Enforce wearing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and a daily inspection before use
  • Electrical safety practices like using Lock Out, Tag Out (LOTO)
  • No edible consumables or smoking in contaminated area
  • Proper containment of PPE before moving from one area to another
  • Enforcing the use of multiple gloves to address the concern of personal injury
  • Adhering to buddy system while working in isolated or high heat workspaces
  • Daily standup meetings to track progress, layout deadlines and review safety concerns

Project documentation & record keeping

How many of you have thought about checking whether your mold removal specialist keeps a record of the recent remediation work? If yes, do you know how detailed their documentation is? Are the same person involved in the future remediation work if mold reoccurs?

A perfect mold project document and recordkeeping are critical for successful execution and completion of the remediation project. This documentation becomes inevitable in cases of mold reoccurrence.

Perfect project documentation will have the following:

  • The complete list of readings and observation for all materials and areas involved
  • Documentation of important communication
  • Pictures of previous conditions
  • Strategies used to decontaminate for e.g. use of specific chemicals, sealants etc.
  • A detailed work/activity log that lists the technicians involved in specific activities, how long, the outcome and any potential risk identified but not resolved during the project

Identifying a professional mold removal specialist is a tricky task. Review this checklist and ensure that the specialist that you hire has experience with all the pointers listed above. This can be your starting point.

home-insurance-paperwor

What does home insurance usually cover?

Most people underestimate home insurance, while some consider it a luxury, others overlook it completely. In the real world, home insurance is never a luxury but a necessity.

The fact that there are several home insurance providers and different respective schemes can be a bit intimidating. Often, a homeowner with limited experience finds it difficult to differentiate the right plan from a dodgy insurance scheme for their home. This facilitates the thought process and the actions from a homeowner’s perspective to overlook home insurance as such.

This post features the standard 3 essential home insurance coverage types and some additional related pointers worth understanding and acting on.

Actual cash value

The actual cash value is the cost of replacing any damaged or stolen property minus the depreciation of the respective property at the time of loss.

Literally transformed, it is the actual value for which the property can be sold at that time and condition and it’s always less compared to the cost of replacing it.

Replacement cost

Replacement cost is a preferred insurance scheme that covers the actual cash value of your home and without considering any deprecation.

This scheme essentially lets you reconstruct or renovate your home or damaged property to the actual value.

Guaranteed/or extended replacement cost/value

This coverage scheme factors in the inflation-buffer and pays the policyholders to rebuild or repair their home, even if the costs exceed the policy limit.

The fact that this scheme offers compensation that exceeds your policy limit makes it popular and usually, insurance providers set a cap limit which is 20 to 25% higher than the actual policy limit.

Whats usually covered

Homeowner insurance in the United States usually covers the following:

  • Damage to your house and any adjacent properties like the garage or other buildings
  • Loss of personal possessions and belongings example: furniture due to incidents like theft
  • Coverage incurred as extra living expenses for incidents where you are forced to move out of your house temporarily due to incidents like flood or storm damage

What can you include in your coverage schemes?

You may decide to include coverage for the following with your homeowner’s insurance scheme:

  • Property damage or third party physical injury caused due to negligence
  • Accidents in your name, in and away from your home
  • Personal properties in storage
  • A limited coverage for possessions like gold, jewelry and antique collections

What are the key takeaways to consider when home insurance policies?

Homeowners’ insurance policies usually cover damage/loss of the possessions and both the interior and exterior damages to the property.

The three basic levels of home insurance coverage to look at are actual cash value, replacement cost and extended replacement cost/value.

The rates of the policy chosen are calculated based on the following factors:

  • Your historical claims related to home, possession damages/loss
  • The condition of the house

Trying to resort to a professional insurance provider should be your priority. In cases of a loss or damage to your property, presenting your claim professionally is crucial to ensure that your insurance provider is not underpaying you. This is where dealing with professionals like Titan Restoration Construction can be a remarkable decision.

How to prevent your insurance carrier from underpaying you

A home insurance policy can turn out to be crucial especially when you reside in an area prone to natural disasters. If the unexpected or the worst happens, it is time for you to evaluate the damage and plan and start an insurance claim process.

There are several options to consider when it comes to dealing with an insurance career. For instance, you have the option i.e. is to let the insurer repair the damage or to accept an equivalent cash settlement.

This post features some tips to prevent your insurance carrier from underpaying you.

Choose an experienced restoration company

There are tons of fire/water damage restoration specialists who offer to take up the task of performing the restoration and handling all the paper works to be reviewed by the insurer. This is where an experienced disaster restoration company can play a crucial role.

A disaster restoration company and assess the damages suffered to your property and advise you whether to go ahead with an insurance claim or not. After the initial review, if a claim seems to be on the charts, the restoration company can clean up, rebuild restore and collect all the pieces of evidence in a timely and efficient manner.

As the property owner, you should understand that it is your right to choose your own restoration company. Bear in mind that a professional insurance company can take over the tedious task of dealing with an insurance adjuster.

Dealing with an insurance adjuster will involve repeated negotiations and paperwork assessments and re-assessments. An experienced disaster recovery company can stand up against this task to ensure that that insurance company doesn’t underpay you.

Importance of collecting evidence

You can expect the following reports from a specialist disaster restoration company.

• Official reports from Fire and Police departments
• Report from the plumbing company
• Scientific data in terms of moisture readings and dehumidifier readings
• List of damaged properties or items
• Financial estimate based on the list of damaged properties or areas within your house

Bear in mind that something simple like taking multiple photos of the damaged area or property might not satisfy your insurance company. The insurance company wouldn’t say no to a series of pictures documenting the whole restoration processes, especially if the damage was inflicted by water.

Think and act smart

Once your property has suffered a disaster, call the insurance company straight away. Waiting too long to notifying your insurer can even lead to the denial of your claim.

Review the conditions in your insurance claim and do not hesitate to raise questions to the insurer like “Am I covered for this?”. Most insurance careers will have a preferred disaster recovery specialist; however, it is not mandatory that you choose this company.

Claims negotiation

Claims negotiation is the most critical step during the whole insurance claim process which mirrors the effectiveness of your efforts. This is where a reputed disaster relief company can act on your behalf to present all the necessary pieces of evidence in a timely and efficient manner and to go through to till the end to ensure that you get the deserved amount in return.

Choosing the right disaster restoration company is the key to ensure that you do not get underpaid by the respective insurance carrier. Always, stick with a company that has certified professionals, can work around the clock and with a quick response rate.

Removing asbestos in a house in Florida

Asbestos Poisoning: How Serious can it be?

Asbestos is a deadly substance known to cause thousands of deaths worldwide. Naturally occurring fibrous silicate materials are collectively known as asbestosis. It was widely used for construction purposes until the late 1980s.
Asbestos in its naturally occurring state can be harmless until it is damaged. When damaged or during deterioration, it can start producing powdered asbestosis fiber that can trigger health concerns if inhaled.

Risk of asbestos

Asbestos can trigger the following health concerns:

Asbestosis: a chronic lung disease triggered by the inhalation of asbestos fibers. The condition at its latter stage leads to lung tissue scarring, chronic cough and shortness of breath. The individual diagnosed with this condition might not exhibit the symptoms until many years of consistent exposure.

Mesothelioma: a rare cancer type caused by Asbestos. The condition affects the protective membrane called mesothelium that covers the majority of the internal organs. The mesothelium of the lungs is more vulnerable to this condition. The condition is incurable if not diagnosed at an early stage.

Lung cancer: people that are diagnosed with asbestosis are vulnerable to lung cancer. The condition might take years to develop.

Factors that drive health concerns:

The fact that asbestos can trigger serious health concerns without any warning or signs/symptoms is something that makes it deadly. The following factors contribute to the risk of a health concern trigger from inhaling asbestos fiber particles:

• The density of airborne particles
• Frequency and duration of exposure
• Time elapsed after the first exposure
• Size of the particles inhaled

Defining the fine line between normal and abnormal levels

As per the EPA and the Department of Health and Human Services, there are no safe levels when it comes to asbestos exposure.

Any scenario where the asbestos within the structure of your house is disturbed can start triggering the risk of exposure. For instance, mice or rodents can dig through the walls insulated with asbestos. They are more likely to dig a hole through to your kitchen in search for food. This can turn out to be critical as they can spread the asbestos powder in a place where you store food.

A simple task of drilling a hole in your wall to hang a picture can turn out to be a mistake too. The only safe means to avoid health concerns from asbestos might be to live in a house that does not have any.
How to do an inspection for asbestos in your house.

Identifying whether your house contains any materials made of asbestosis can be a hard task. If your house was built before the 1980s, it is more likely to contain asbestos. Some of the common areas where asbestos can be involved are:

• Textured paint
• Flue pipes
• Cement pipe columns
• Hot water pipe insulation
• Cement and brick claddings

Removing asbestos is also a task that needs to be considered seriously and done efficiently. It is ideal to engage with a qualified professional to perform an asbestos inspection and get it removed from your house.

Florida new house west palm beach

New Residential Construction in West Palm Beach

With Titan Restoration Construction, you get much more than a company that hangs new drywall after a flood. We have over a decade as a licensed contractor, helping residents with not just restoration, but new construction in West Palm Beach as well. Regardless if you want to build a new home or an addition to your current home, we have the experience, equipment, and employees to help you realize your dream.

New house design blueprint west palm beachWe have planners on-staff that can take your drawings from a napkin and turn them into a house that is the envy of your neighborhood. Since this is your home, we include you at every stage of the design and can make changes right up until it is time to dig out the foundation and begin pouring the concrete.

No matter the size of that foundation, we can excavate it. We keep a large inventory of backhoes and other equipment that can dig out the area for everything from a mini-mansion to a freestanding guesthouse behind your family home.

After we pour the concrete, an experienced team of carpenters begins the interior framing. Once we have the walls and sub-floor in place, our licensed plumbers and electricians lay in the pipes, conduits, and wiring needed to ensure your home meets Florida construction and safety standards. Even at this stage, we can still make changes to the floorplan in your direction, such as increasing closet space or altering the shape and layout of the living room.

When it comes to finishing the outside and installing a roof, we use only the best materials. All of the framing and support structure wood we use is treated to resist the effects of weather and insect infestation. With your approval, we use brick exteriors or siding and paint treated against weather and sunlight damage. If you desire, we can also install roof tiles treated to reduce damage from sunlight.

Today is an excellent time for starting new construction. Not only is it the perfect season to begin, but the last year of economic growth makes building a new home or adding to your current one an ideal investment. For more information on what Titan Restoration Construction can do for you, call us today at 562-345-3751.

For more information regarding West Palm Beach, click here.

Renovated kitchen palm beach gardens

General Contracting Services In Palm Beach Gardens You Can Count On

Looking for the right contractor to perform work on your property can be rough. There are far too many available in the area, making the decision difficult. However, many of them lack the qualifications you should be looking for, a fully licensed, bonded, and insured expert, with years of experience.

You want someone dedicated to providing your Palm Beach Gardens home with general contracting of the highest quality. Someone who can bring advances in technology into your project that meet building codes and other requirements while providing noticeable differences to even the smallest job. A professional, like those available at TITAN RESTORATION CONSTRUCTION, helps improve the aesthetic appeal of your home as well as making any possible improvements to your living environment. Our contractors understand what it takes to change the temperature and humidity levels of a room making quality changes to improve every aspect of your home.

Broken window pane palm beach gardensTITAN RESTORATION CONSTRUCTION provides you with expertly trained personnel who can provide simple repairs or full room additions. We do everything from simple caulking jobs, drywall patches, replacement of broken windows, or installation of screens throughout your property. Our team can replace broken cabinet fronts, rehang doors, and help make it easier to clean and maintain every area of your home.

If you are looking to make improvements, our team specializes in customization. TITAN RESTORATION CONSTRUCTION works with you to perform kitchen or bathroom remodels and make additions to your home that complement any style. You can let your imagination soar, adding a basement, great room, or even a den. Any choices you make can greatly increase the aesthetic and resale value of your home; we work to make your dreams a reality.

Our services involve making you a part of the process. You are an essential partner that makes improvements easier, every step of the way. Get the help you need to address accidents that happen, perform much-needed maintenance, or enhance the overall appearance and functionality of your home, today.

Contact TITAN RESTORATION CONSTRUCTION for access to contractors who work hard to make your dreams a reality. (561) 345-3751

For more information regarding Palm Beach Gardens, click here

Mold Remediation

Molds are ubiquitous in nature, and mold spores are a common component of household and workplace dust. However, when spores are present in large quantities, they are a health hazard to humans, potentially causing allergic reactions and respiratory problems.

Some molds also produce mycotoxins that can pose serious health risks to humans and animals. The term “toxic mold” refers to molds that produce mycotoxins, such as Stachybotrys chartarum, not to all molds.[1] Exposure to high levels of mycotoxins can lead to neurological problems and in some cases death. Prolonged exposure, e.g., daily workplace exposure, can be particularly harmful.

Symptoms of mold exposure

Symptoms of mold exposure can include:[2]

  • Nasal and sinus congestion, runny nose
  • Eye irritation, such as itchy, red, watery eyes
  • Respiratory problems, such as wheezing and difficulty breathing, chest tightness
  • Cough
  • Throat irritation
  • Skin irritation, such as a rash
  • Headache
  • Sneezing/Sneezing fits

Health effects linking to asthma

Infants may develop respiratory symptoms as a result of exposure to a specific type of fungal mold, called Penicillium. Signs that an infant may have mold-related respiratory problems include (but are not limited to) a persistent cough and/or wheeze. Increased exposure increases the probability of developing respiratory symptoms during their first year of life. Studies have shown that a correlation exists between the probability of developing asthma and increased exposure Penicillium. The levels are deemed no mold to low level, from low to intermediate, from intermediate to high.[3]

Mold exposures have a variety of health effects depending on the person, some people are more sensitive to mold than others. Exposure to mold can cause a number of health issues such as; throat irritation, nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, cough and wheezing, as well as skin irritation in some cases. Exposure to mold may also cause heightened sensitivity depending on the time and nature of exposure. People at higher risk for mold allergies are people with chronic lung illnesses, which will result in more severe reactions when exposed to mold.

There has been sufficient evidence that damp indoor environments are correlated with upper respiratory tract symptoms such as; coughing, and wheezing in people with asthma.[4]

Causes & growing conditions

Molds are found everywhere inside and outside, and can grow on almost any substance when moisture is present. Molds reproduce by spores, which can be carried by air currents. When these spores land on a moist surface that is suitable for life, they begin to grow. Mold is normally found indoors at levels that do not affect most healthy individuals.

Because common building materials are capable of sustaining mold growth, and mold spores are ubiquitous, mold growth in an indoor environment is typically related to water or moisture indoors. Mold growth may also be caused by incomplete drying of flooring materials such as concrete. Flooding, leaky roofs, building maintenance problems, or indoor plumbing problems can lead to mold growth inside. Interior moisture vapor commonly condenses on surfaces cooler than the moisture containing air which enables mold to flourish.[5] This moisture vapor passes through walls, ceilings and condenses typically in the winter months in climates where the heating cycle is extended. Floors over crawlspaces and basements (without vapor barriers or with dirt floors) are also problem areas. (The “doormat test” is very good at detecting moisture vapor emanating from under concrete slabs that are missing a sub-slab vapor barrier.[6] )

For significant mold growth to occur, there must be a source of water (which could be invisible humidity), a source of food and a substrate capable of sustaining growth. Common building materials, such as plywood, drywall, furring strips, carpets, and carpet padding are food for molds. In carpet, invisible dust and cellulose are the food sources (see also dust mites). After a single incident of water damage occurs in a building, molds grow inside walls and then become dormant until a subsequent incident of high humidity; this illustrates how mold can appear to be a sudden problem, long after a previous flood or water incident that did not produce such a problem. The right conditions reactivate mold. Studies also show that mycotoxin levels are perceptibly higher in buildings that have once had a water incident (source: CMHC).

Although this home suffered only minor exterior damage from Hurricane Katrina, small leaks and inadequate air flow permitted this mold infestation.

Spores need three things to grow into mold:

  • Nutrients: Cellulose is a common food for spores in an indoor environment. It is the part of the cell wall of green plants.
  • Moisture: Moisture is required to begin the decaying process caused by the mold.
  • Time: Mold growth begins between 24 hours and 10 days from the provision of the growing conditions. There is no known way to date mold.

Mold colonies can grow inside building structures. The main problem with the presence of mold in buildings is the inhalation of mycotoxins. Molds may produce an identifiable smell. Growth is fostered by moisture. After a flood or major leak, mycotoxin levels are higher in the building even after it has dried out (source: CMHC).

Food sources for molds in buildings include cellulose-based materials, such as wood, cardboard, and the paper facing on both sides of drywall, and all other kinds of organic matter, such as soap, fabrics, and dust containing skin cells. If a house has mold, the moisture may be from the basement or crawl space, a leaking roof, or a leak in plumbing pipes behind the walls. People residing in a house also contribute moisture through normal breathing and perspiration. Insufficient ventilation can further enable moisture build-up. Visible mold colonies may form where ventilation is poorest, and on perimeter walls, because they are coolest, thus closest to the dew point.

If there are mold problems in a house only during certain times of the year, then it is probably either too air-tight, or too drafty. Mold problems occur in airtight homes more frequently in the warmer months (when humidity reaches high levels inside the house, and moisture is trapped), and occur in drafty homes more frequently in the colder months (when warm air escapes from the living area into unconditioned space, and condenses). If a house is artificially humidified during the winter, this can create conditions favorable to mold. Moving air may prevent mold from growing since it has the same desiccating effect as lowering humidity. Molds grow best in warm temperatures, 77 to 86 °F (25 to 30 °C), though some growth may occur anywhere between 32 and 95 °F (0 and 35 °C).[7]

Removing one of the three requirements for mold reduces or eliminates the new growth of mold. These three requirements are:

  1. Moisture
  2. Food source for the mold spores (dust, dander, etc.)
  3. Warmth (mold generally does not grow in cold environments).

HVAC systems can create all three requirements for significant mold growth. The A/C system creates a difference in temperature that allows/causes condensation to occur. The high rate of dusty air movement through an HVAC system may create ample sources of food for the mold. And finally, since the A/C system is not always running – the ability for warm conditions to exist on a regular basis allows for the final component for active mold growth.

Because the HVAC system circulates air contaminated with mold spores and sometimes toxins, it is vital to prevent any three of the environments required for mold growth. A) Highly effective return air filtration systems are available that eliminate up to 99.9% of dust accumulation (as compared to 5% elimination by typical HVAC air filters). These newer filtration systems usually require modification to existing HVAC systems to allow for the larger size of electrostatic 99.9% filters. However, thorough cleaning of the HVAC system is required before usage of high efficiency filtration systems will help. Once mold is established, the mold growth and dust accumulation must be removed. B) Insulation of supply air ducts helps to reduce or eliminate the condensation that ultimately creates the moisture required for mold growth. This insulation should be placed externally on the air ducts, because internal insulation provides a dust capture and breeding ground for mold.

Assessment

The first step in an assessment is to determine if mold is present. This is done by visually examining the premises. If mold is growing and visible this helps determine the level of remediation that is necessary. If mold is actively growing and is visibly confirmed, sampling for specific species of mold is unnecessary.[8]

These methods, considered non-intrusive, only detect visible and odor-causing molds. Sometimes more intrusive methods are needed to assess the level of mold contamination. This would include moving furniture, lifting and/or removing carpets, checking behind wallpaper or paneling, checking in ventilation duct work, opening and exposing wall cavities, etc.

Careful detailed visual inspection and recognition of moldy odors should be used to find problems needing correction. Efforts should focus on areas where there are signs of liquid moisture or water vapor (humidity) or where moisture problems are suspected. The investigation goals should be to locate indoor mold growth to determine how to correct the moisture problem and remove contamination safely and effectively.

Sampling

In general the EPA does not recommend sampling unless an occupant of the space is symptomatic. When sampling is necessary it should be performed by a trained professional who has specific experience in designing mold-sampling protocols, sampling methods, and the interpretation of findings. Sampling should only be conducted to answer a pertinent question: examples “what is the spore concentration in the air”, or “is a particular species of fungi present in the building.” The following additional question should be asked before sampling: “what action can or should a person take upon obtaining data.”

The sampling and analysis should follow the recommendations of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA). Most importantly, when a sample is taken the proper chain of custody should be adhered to. The AIHA offers lists of accredited laboratories that submit to required quarterly proficiency testing.

Three types of sampling include but are not limited to::

  • Air sampling: the most common form of sampling to assess the level of mold. Sampling of the inside and outdoor air is conducted and the results to the level of mold spores inside the premises and outside are compared. Often, air sampling will provide positive identification of the existence of non-visible mold.
  • Surface samples: sampling the amount of mold spores deposited on indoor surfaces (tape, and dust samples)
  • Bulk samples: the removal of materials from the contaminated area to identify and determine the concentration of mold in the sample.

When sampling is conducted, all three types are recommended by the AIHA, as each sample method alone has specific limitations. For example, air samples will not provide proof of a hidden source of mold. Nor would a tape sample provide the level of contamination in the air.[9]

Though it may not be recommended, air sampling following mold remediation is usually the best way to ascertain efficacy of remediation, when conducted by a qualified third party.[10]

Remediation

The first step in solving an indoor mold problem is stopping the source of moisture. Next is to remove the mold growth. Common remedies for small occurrences of mold include:

  • Sunlight
  • Ventilation
  • Wall insulation/Dry Wall
  • Non-porous building materials
  • Household cleansers
  • Dehumidifiers

There are many ways to prevent mold growth; see heating, ventilating, improved insulation and air conditioning. There are also cleaning companies that specialize in fabric restoration – a process by which mold and mold spores are removed from clothing to eliminate odor and prevent further mold growth and damage to the garments.

Improper methods for cleaning mold include exposure to high heat, dry air, sunlight (particularly UV light), ozone, and application of fungicides. These methods may render the mold non-viable, however, the mold and its by-products can still elicit negative health effects. As noted in following sections, the only proper way to clean mold is to use detergent solutions that physically remove mold. Many commercially available detergents marketed for mold clean-up also include an anti-fungal agent.

Significant mold growth may require professional mold remediation to remove the affected building materials and eradicate the source of excess moisture. In extreme cases of mold growth in buildings, it may be more cost-effective to condemn the building rather than clean the mold to safe levels.

The goal of remediation is to remove or clean contaminated materials in a way that prevents the emission of fungi and dust contaminated with fungi from leaving a work area and entering an occupied or non-abatement area, while protecting the health of workers performing the abatement.[11]

Cleanup and removal methods

The purpose of the clean-up process is to eliminate the mold and fungal growth and to remove contaminated materials. As a general rule, simply killing the mold with a biocide is not enough. The mold must be removed since the chemicals and proteins, which cause a reaction in humans, are still present even in dead mold.

Evaluating mold exposures

Before beginning mold remediation you should make sure you assess the area infected with mold to ensure safety, you clean up the entire moldy area, and properly approach the mold.[8]

  • Assess the area infected with mold, checking for any hidden mold
  • Fix moisture problems before you remove and clean up the moldy area to prevent future mold growth issues
  • If the area of mold is large you should get a remediation manager to properly dispose of the mold
  • Be sure to identify the source of water or moisture that caused the mold growth to begin with
  • Check all air ducts, ventilation systems and air handling units so that the mold problems do not persist in the indoor environment
  • Consult a qualified professional if you have any problems or if you are not confident that you can properly remove all mold or sources of mold growth

Cleaning recommendations

These steps should always be done by a trained professional.[12]

  • First, make sure to remove any object near the insulation system that may have been contaminated from floodwater. Properly dispose of the contaminated materials according to your local, state, and Federal regulations. (The insulation you might removed may be contaminated with asbestos. Always make sure to call a trained professional to avoid serious injury or death)
  • Make sure to remove the contaminated HVAC filter media to ensure your HVAC system is not bringing in contaminated air. Make sure to dispose of it reading the same regulations listed above.
  • Remove any debris and insulation; clean all components of the HVAC system to ensure nothing becomes contaminated and/or more contaminated from floodwater. Use a HEPA-filtered vacuum, cleaner to make sure you get rid of all the debris, dirt, and microorganisms. Pay special attention to the drain pans, filter areas, curves, and air ducts since debris often collects in these places.
  • Disinfect all components of the HVAC system after turning off the HVAC system. To clean use 1 cup of normal household chlorine bleach mixed with a gallon of water, do not mix this with cleaning products containing ammonia.
  • Be sure to use fans to create filtration by blowing the contaminated air outdoors, to protect the health of the workers.
  • After cleaning all components with bleach rinse with clean water to eliminate the potent bleach smells.
    • Important: You must remove and properly discard the HVAC components that are contaminated with floodwater to prevent the growth of mold if it cannot be cleaned, and replace them with new components.
  • After the HVAC has been properly cleaned and disinfected, replace the insulation in the HVAC system with an external, smooth-surfaced insulation to prevent future floodwater contamination.
  • To ensure safety have your HVAC system tested by a qualified professional before you begin using your HVAC system again.

What to wear when removing mold

When cleaning up mold it is important to avoid breathing in mold or mold spores, as this can have major health implications. To avoid airborne mold exposure you should wear a respirator to protect your lungs. Half-face or full-face respirators have removable cartridges that will stop the mold spores from entering your nose or mouth. A full-face respirator will also protect your eyes. Be sure to follow the directions carefully, if it does not fit properly or is not put on correctly it may be ineffective.

Filters used with the respirator should ideally be rated P-100. Some cartridges also come with an activated carbon element. The carbon helps to remove the odor given off by mold and mildew.

Protective clothing should also be worn. Disposable hazmat coveralls are available to keep out particles down to one micrometer. Protective suits keep mold spores from entering any cuts on the skin.

Next be sure to wear gloves to ensure protection from mold. You should wear gloves made of rubber, nitrile, polyurethane, or neoprene so that no mold or disinfectant materials get through to your skin.

If a half-face respirator mask is used, goggles should be worn to keep mold spores from entering the mucus membrane and propagating. Appropriate goggles should not have ventilation holes so that no mold particles will get in. Full face respirators have an advantage here as the air breathed in is directed to the inside of the lens first which keeps it from fogging as you work.[8][11]

Dry brushing or agitation device

These systems are known for the removal of the biological material in the ductwork that the mold spores feed upon. A good brushing or agitation machine will break the static bond and remove the hard and soft debris in the ductwork. Dry brushing introduces nothing foreign into the HVAC system and is the only system that sweeps all surfaces.

Dry ice blasting

Recently, some companies have begun using dry ice blasting to remove mold from suitable surfaces, such as wood and cement. Soda Blasting is also a good method to remove the mold. Media Blasting, which removes mold is a preferred method to encapsulation, which only cover the mold.

Vacuum

Wet vacuum cleaners are designed to remove water from floors, carpets and other hard surfaces where water has accumulated. Wet vacuuming should only be used on wet materials, as spores may be exhausted into the indoor environment if insufficient liquid is present. After use, this equipment must be thoroughly cleaned and dried as spores can adhere to the inner surfaces of the tank, hoses, and other attachments.

Damp wipe

Damp wipe is the removal of mold from non-porous surfaces by wiping or scrubbing with water and a detergent. Care must be exercised to make sure the material is allowed to quickly dry to discourage any further mold growth. With surfaces such as metal, glass, hardwood, plastics, and concrete, mold should be scraped off as much as possible. Then, scrub the surface with a moldicide or fungicide cleaner.[citation needed]

HEPA vacuum

High Efficiency Particulate Air filtered vacuum cleaners are used in the final cleanup of remediation areas after materials have been thoroughly dried and all contaminated materials have been removed. HEPA vacuum cleaners are recommended for the cleanup of the outside areas surrounding the remediation area. During this process the workers wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent exposure to mold and other contaminants. The collected debris and dust should be stored in impervious bags or containers in a manner to prevent any release of debris.

Disposal of debris and damaged materials

Building materials and furnishings contaminated with mold should be placed into impervious bags or closed containers while in the remediation area. These materials can usually be discarded as regular construction waste.

Equipment

Several types of equipment may be used in the remediation process and may include:

  • Moisture meter: a tool that measures the moisture level in building materials. It can also be used to measure the progress of the drying of damaged materials. Pin moisture meters have a small probe that is inserted into the material. Pinless moisture meters usually have a flat sensing area that is pressed directly against the material’s surface. Moisture meters can be used on carpet, wallboard, woods, brick, and other masonry.
  • Humidity gauge: measures the amount of humidity in the indoor environment. Often gauges are paired with a thermometer to measure the temperature.
  • Borescope: a hand-held tool that allows the user to see potential mold problems inside walls, ceilings, crawl spaces, and other tight spaces. It consists of a camera on the end of a flexible “snake”. No major drilling or cutting of dry wall is required.
  • Digital camera: used to document findings during assessment.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE): includes respirators, gloves, impervious suit, and eye protection. These items can be used during the assessment and remediation processes.
  • Thermographic camera : Infrared thermal imaging cameras are often used (and effective) in addition to moisture meters to double check moisture meter findings, and look at the broader picture. They help mainly in identifying auxiliary points of moisture intrusion.

Protection levels

During the remediation process, the level of contamination dictates the level of protection for the remediation workers. The levels of contamination are described as Levels I, II, III, and IV. Each has specific requirements for worker safety. The levels are as follows:[13][14]

Level I

Small Isolated Areas (10 sq ft (0.93 m2) or less) for example, ceiling tiles, small areas on walls.

  • Remediation can be conducted by the regular building staff as long as they are trained on proper clean-up methods, personal protection, and potential hazards. This training can be performed as part of a program to comply with the requirements of OSHA Hazard Communication Standard ( 29 CFR 1910.1200).
  • Respiratory protection (for example, N-95 disposable respirator) is recommended. Respirators must be used in accordance with the OSHA respiratory protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134). Gloves and eye protection should also be worn.
  • The work area should be unoccupied. Removing people from spaces adjacent to the work area is not necessary, but is recommended for infants (less than 12 months old), persons recovering from recent surgery, immune-suppressed, or people with respiratory diseases.
  • Containment of the work area is not necessary. However, misting and dust suppression is recommended.
  • Contaminated materials that cannot be cleaned should be removed from the building in sealed impermeable plastic bags and disposed of as ordinary waste.
  • The work area(s) used by workers for access/egress should be cleaned with a damp cloth or mop and a detergent.
  • All areas should be left dry and visibly free of contamination and debris.

Level II

Mid-sized Isolated Areas (10-30 sq ft) – for example, individual wallboard panels.

  • Remediation can be conducted by the regular building staff as long as they are trained as for Level I. Respiratory protection, occupation of the work and adjacent areas, and handling of contaminated materials are the same as for Level I.
  • Surfaces in the work area that could become contaminated should be covered with sheet(s) of plastic that are secured in place. This should be done prior to any remediation process to prevent further contamination.
  • Dust suppression methods, such as misting (not soaking) surface prior to remediation, are recommended.
  • The work area(s) used by workers for access/egress should be HEPA vacuumed and cleaned with a damp cloth or mop and a detergent.
  • As with Level I, all areas should be left dry and visibly free of contamination and debris.

Level III

Large Isolated Areas (30-100 sq ft) – e.g., several wallboard panels

  • Industrial hygienists or other environmental health and safety professionals with experience performing microbial investigations and/or mold remediation should be consulted prior to remediation activities to provide oversight for the project.
  • It is recommended that personnel be trained in the handling of hazardous materials and equipped with respiratory protection (N-95 disposable respirator). Respirators must be used in accordance with OSHA respiratory protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134) Gloves and eye protection should also be worn.
  • Surfaces in the work area and areas directly adjacent that could become contaminated should be covered with a secured plastics sheet(s) before remediation to contain dust/debris and prevent further contamination.
  • Seal ventilation ducts/grills in the work area and areas directly adjacent with plastic sheeting.
  • The work area and areas directly adjacent should be unoccupied. Removing people from spaces adjacent to the work area is not necessary, but is recommended for infants (less than 12 month old), persons recovering from recent surgery, immune-suppressed or people with respiratory diseases.
  • Dust suppression methods, such as misting (not soakings) surface prior to remediation, are recommended.
  • Contaminated materials that cannot be cleaned should be removed from the building in sealed impermeable plastic bags and disposed of as ordinary waste.
  • The work area/areas used by workers for access/egress should be HEPA vacuumed and cleaned with a damp cloth or mop and a detergent.
  • All areas should be left dry and visibly free from contamination and debris.

Level IV

Extensive Contamination (greater than 100 contiguous sq. ft in an area).

  • Personnel trained in handling of hazardous materials and equipped with:
    • Full face respirators with HEPA cartridges
    • Disposable protective clothing covering the entire body including the head, shoes and hands
  • Containment of the affected area:
    • Complete isolation of the work area from occupied spaces using plastic sheeting sealed with duct tape ( including ventilation duct/grills, fixtures, and other openings
  • The use of an exhaust fan with a HEPA filter to generate negative pressurization, a decontamination room, and airlocks
  • Contaminated materials that cannot be cleaned should be removed from the building in sealed impermeable plastic bags and disposed of as ordinary waste.
  • The contained area and decontamination room should be HEPA vacuumed and cleaned with a damp cloth or mopped with a detergent solution and be visibly clean prior to the removal of any isolation barrier.

In conclusion, after the moisture source has been eliminated and the mold growth removed, the premises should be revisited and then re-evaluated to ensure the mold growth and the remediation process was successful. The premises should be free of any moldy smells or visible growth.

Mold prevention and control

In order to avoid mold from growing in your home one should do the following:

  • Clean and repair roof gutters on a regular basis so that moisture will not seep into one’s house from the gutters
  • If one is using an air conditioning machine one should make sure to keep drip pans clean; also make sure the drain lines are not being obstructed by anything so that it can flow properly
  • Humidity in the indoor environment is a major problem that can lead to mold growth if it is not kept below sixty percent. If one is not certain what is the humidity level in your home one can purchase a humidity meter at any hardware store.
  • If one sees any moisture or condensation, one should act quickly by drying the wet surface and find the water source so it can be avoided in the future.
  • Any exposed structural wood or wood framing should be encapsulated with an EPA approved fungicidal encapsulation coating after pre-cleaning methods have been applied. Areas of typical concern can be found in homes that have a crawl space and unfinished basement. Attic’s with poor ventilation can have spikes of high humidity throughout the year and can benefit from using an EPA approved fungicidal encapsulation coating.[8]

Hidden mold

After a major storm or flood one should look out for any signs of hidden mold growth. One can detect mold by the smell and any sign of water damage on the walls or ceiling. Mold can grow in many places that are not visible to the human eye in the indoor environment. Mold is often found behind wallpaper or paneling, the topside of ceiling tiles, back side of dry wall, or the underside of carpets or carpet padding. Piping inside the walls may also be a source of mold growth since pipes often leak and cause moisture and condensation. One must also check in roof materials above ceiling tiles since roofs often leak and water collects inside the walls and insulation. If one is suspicious about mold growth one should investigate with caution to prevent exposure to mold.[8]