Mold Risk in Your Home

Okay, we all know that mold is a natural part of the outdoor environment, and we know that mold damage may be encountered on a daily basis with no ill effects whatsoever. We also know that mold becomes a problem when it begins to grow within the confines of a home or business, because mold spores are suddenly encountered and inhaled in large concentrations. The end result may be health problems ranging from the slight to the severe. In fact, there may be up to 300 variations of mold that can present serious health risks if they are inhaled, ingested, or even touched.

Photo of mold growing on walls and ceiling

Mold found in home on walls and ceiling

Why mold is more prevalent today

Mold has become a greater risk in recent years, oddly enough due to improvements in home construction. New homes are more tightly sealed, allowing water and moisture to become trapped inside which creates the perfect breeding ground for mold. The result is that people may inadvertently move into a brand new home that already has a serious mold problem. In recent years, there have been some highly publicized court cases stemming from just this sort of problem.

If there is good news on the mold front, it’s that most folks with healthy immune systems can resist the effects of mold fairly easily, for a time anyway. Repeated long term exposure to mold spores will eventually result in some unwelcome side effects. They may be as slight as a mild allergic reaction, or it may manifest itself as a severe respiratory problem.

How do I know if I have mold?

Also, determining if you have a mold risk isn’t as difficult as you might imagine. While some people pay for expensive mold testing, in many cases, the presence of mold may be determined simply through a cursory visual inspection as well as sniffing the air for musty smells that may denote mold growth. Usually if there is a mold problem, there is no mistaking it.

As mentioned, the health problems associated with mold are wide and varied. Sometimes just touching mold can trigger an allergic reaction. It can also disturb the growth and send hundreds of thousands of mold spores into the air, allowing them to spread throughout the home. Residents in the home may experience skin rashes, sneezing, coughing, runny noses, and itchy or watery eyes.  Many times, these problems are viewed strictly as allergic problems and mold isn’t even considered. Elderly people and babies….generally folks with compromised immune systems, are at greater risk for problems related to mold.

Stratobotrys atra, more commonly known as Black mold, has been responsible for several high profile cases involving long term or permanent health issues resulting from exposure in infested homes. 

In 2003, bill H.R 1286 was introduced. Known as the United State Toxic Mold Safety and Protection Act,  this bill mandates comprehensive research into mold growth, as well as creating programs to educate people about the danger of mold and provide assistance to mold victims. The act will also provide guidelines for preventing indoor mold growth, establish mold removal standards, and provide grants for mold removal in public buildings.  It will also authorize tax credits for the inspection and remediation of mold problems, and provide insurance coverage for catastrophic losses due to mold damage.

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Sacramento Summer Water Damage

As we move into the middle of a Sacramento summer, we begin to experience late afternoon showers and the occasional thunderstorm. Summer showers may often be of the severe variety, bringing torrential rains, damaging hail, strong winds, and dangerous lightning. Many times the damage left behind may be considerable. This threat is especially pertinent in light of the recent mild winter, which forecasters predict will give way to a very active storm season. It is important to be properly prepared when it comes to protecting your home or business from a malevolent Mother Nature.

Sacramento weather forcast storms

Summer storms in Sacramento aren't uncommon

Water damage is the single most destructive force that can affect any home, even more dangerous than fire. Water damage has the ability to cause severe damage from the outset, and then continuing to cause problems for as long as it is allowed to remain standing. Carpets, furniture and valuable items may be seriously damaged or destroyed, floors may warp and crack, and drywall may be softened to the point where it is damaged beyond repair. Water may also get into the homes electrical and HVAC systems, requiring substantial repairs and inspections before any further use is granted.

Worse, substantial flood waters may actually shift a home on its very foundation, making it prone to collapse. Always verify that a water or flood damaged structure is solid before making any attempt to re-enter. The building could collapse around you.

If the spill occurs upstairs, such as from an overflowed tub (or worse, a burst pipe), then you end up with a trickle down effect, where water runs until it finds a vulnerable spot to seep down, through ceilings and drywall, causing more and more damage as it goes. Ceilings may often begin to sag and droop as the result of water weight being placed upon it. If you happen upon a room where the ceiling has a visible sag, avoid it. It could give way at any time, sending hundreds of gallons of water cascading into the room. A person standing in the wrong place could be seriously hurt.

Sacramento flooding in the middle of Summer

Sacramento flash flooding in the middle of Summer

It goes without saying that electrical devices and switches should be avoided. Water and electricity do not mix, and turning on a light while standing ankle deep in water (as depicted in a rather notorious Youtube clip) may have dire results. Instead, turn off all utilities at their source. If you are unable to reach the source, don’t put yourself at risk. Call in a professional electrician or gas representative or whoever you need to find.

Already this year we have seen strong storms across theOhioValleyand the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.  Any time you’re staring down severe weather, it can only mean that you have to protect your home from the elements, and that includes your chimney.

Chimneys are probably the most often overlooked portions of a house when guarding against water damage, which is strange since the chimney is an open outlet on the very top of your house, a veritable welcome wagon for water problems. And recent studies have concluded that the major cause of damage to chimney construction is water, not fire. They are built to withstand fire, less so to tolerate that much water, and water exposure deteriorates mortar, brick, and tile. It also corrodes steel and cast iron components. Thawing after a hard and long free may also result in gaps which can allow dangerous gases into the home. 

In any event of damage to your home, prevention is the key. Head the problem off at the pass before it has a chance to take root.

Chimney caps or rain covers should be standard on your chimney, since it is the most cost effective way of keeping out leaves, debris and small animals. Any one of these may easily fit down an unprotected flue, and the same covering also prevents sparks from leaping out of the chimney and accidentally igniting something.

The chimney crown should be looked at and replaced if it is damaged. Most of these are made of mortar, which is not designed to withstand years of abuse at the hands of wind, rain, ice, and snow. High quality cement should be utilized in the construction to create an overhang offering protection for all sides of the chimney. If the crown has been damaged, there is a good chance that the flashing around it has been as well. Damaged flashing is a main culprit when it comes to allowing water inside your house.

Not many folks think about waterproofing their chimneys, but remember that mortar and brick are like sponges, absorbing moisture like nobody’s business. Utilize a waterproofing agent that is designed to release moisture but not accept it. Paint is also a big problem when it comes to retaining water inside the chimney. 

Pay for a quality chimney inspection every year or so before firing up the fireplace for the first time. This will allow you to catch any threat before it has the chance to cause problems. If there is already water damage, repair it. Remember the longer water damage is allowed to remain, the more problems you will have.

In most cases of water damage, you should contact your local Sacramento water restoration professionals. The restoration process is a complex one, with a series of steps to be taken in a predetermined order, so you want somebody who knows how the procedure works.  Your local industry certified professionals will be available 24/7 and ready to serve the Sacramentoarea area with quality, efficient water damage restoration services.  Same day service is provided in most cases, and all work performed is guaranteed.

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Rancho Murieta Water Job

It was 7:45PM on Saturday evening in Rancho Murieta when we received a call. It was a water job. On the other end was a frantic realtor – one of her listings was flooded. Apparently the tenant who had recently been evicted for not paying rent (among other things) had broken back into the home and turned the upstairs shower and bathroom faucets on and then left locking the door behind them – vandalism. The neighbor heard the water running a few days later and called the home owner. That’s how we got the call. 

Upon our arrival we walked into the house and found water running down through the master closet ceiling which had flooded the entire master bedroom, hallway, master bathroom and part of the laundry room. This was now a category 2 class 3 water loss and if we didn’t get equipment in there quickly it would soon turn into a category 3 loss with the possibility of mold damage. As soon as we opened the door we were greeted by the same musty smell that you get with any water job if left for a few days to ripen. Bacteria was already multiplying under the carpet and carpet pad, baseboards were already swollen as was the built-in shelving in the master closet. The laminate flooring was buckling at the edges of each board and the photo finish was also starting to bubble. We knew we couldn’t save the floors and they would need to come up. Typically we can save most hardwood floors with our floor drying mats and dehumidification equipment, but laminate floors are a different kettle of fish. 

Photo showing PuroClean drying cabinet in bathroom

PuroClean drying water damaged cabinet in place

After getting the homeowner’s authorization, we got to work. We removed both the carpet and padding; we removed all the baseboards and built-in shelving and cut out the master closet ceiling to dry the sub floor of the second story. It is sometimes important to remove parts of the structure that would normally take too long to dry, this way it prevents the need later for mold removal work. We removed all the wet laminate flooring and underlay cushioning and drilled holes into the exterior walls so we could ensure the base plates and insulation dried efficiently. After removing all the non-salvageable materials we added our drying equipment. We added a total of two large industrial dehumidifiers, ten air movers (large fans), and a HEPA500 air filtration device to pick up any airborne particles disturbed by the other equipment. The air movers remove the humid air directly above the water damaged structure (walls and floors), while the dehumidifiers pull the moisture from the air at a maximum rate of 200 pints per day (per unit). This promotes fast evaporation and drying of all structure and contents in the area. There were a lot of wet cabinets in the bathroom and laundry which we dried with the use of our DriForce units which inject hot dry air into small holes drilled into the base of the cabinets. This approach prevents us from having to remove the water damaged cabinets and drying them in place is extremely cost effective saving the insurance company money. 

PuroClean water job in rancho murieta showing drain line and drain assembly fault

Drain line from upstairs shower wasn't installed correctly causing water damage to a local home

After we removed the sheetrock ceiling in the master closet we discovered the source of all the water. The 2 inch drainpipe attached to the upstairs shower drain assembly wasn’t securely attached and once we dropped the ceiling the drainpipe came loose from the assembly. The entire thing was missing the caulking gasket and caulking nut – an expensive plumbing mistake. According to the plumber who was called out to fix this blunder there was meant to be a trap door of some sort in the ceiling too to make it up to code – there was no trap door to access the drain pipe or assembly. 

We also came to find out later that the home owner had recently upgraded the bathroom floor with wood flooring. She was under the impression that she had received solid hardwood flooring because that’s what she had paid for. It wasn’t solid wood flooring; it was laminate, which is why we couldn’t save it. Needless to say the homeowner isn’t impressed and will be contacting that contractor who tried to mislead her. Something to keep in mind, always ask for a small piece of the flooring to keep in a safe place when you have work done. It serves two purposes: it proves you got what you paid for and it helps mitigation companies like PuroClean when it comes time to making a judgment call on whether to save it or remove it. 

Photo showing fixed drain line that previously had caused the water issue

Rancho Murieta Plumbing were called out and Martin did a great job of repairing the problem

The entire drying process for this Rancho Murieta water damaged home will take between 3 and 4 days and we will monitor it daily. As areas dry, equipment will either be removed or repositioned to other areas that are taking a bit longer to dry. Once everything is dry we will give the go-ahead to the construction company and they will replace carpet, pad, sheetrock, baseboards and the laminate flooring. The entire loss will be covered by the homeowners insurance and in all likelihood they will subrogate it against the last tenants if they can prove vandalism. 

Oh, and the locks were changed too…


07/12/2012 Update:

This Rancho Murieta water job was completed a few weeks ago and everything was perfectly dry. As I mentioned above the plumber had already fixed the incorrectly installed shower drain line and everything was ready for the contractor to put sheetrock back and new flooring. Last week I received a call from the same realtor – the landscape contractor had decided to turn the water mains back on because the grass was turning brown and the empty home flooded once again. Unfortunately because the water mains were off the plumber couldn’t check that his fix had corrected the problem, it had, but there was a secondary problem with the drain pan in the upstairs shower. No-one noticed the water flooding the home once again until the realtor went to check on things a week later and was greeted by running water once again.

We responded immediately, but unfortunately the walls had been wet for longer than 7 days and they had to be cut out, as this was a category 3 water loss. The only fortunate thing was the rebuild from the prior water damage loss hadn’t begun yet, so there was no more damaged flooring, but we did have to remove the upstairs shower and cut out additional wet sheetrock. After spraying the remaining materials like subfloor and studs with anti-microbial we added our drying equipment once again and dried the home. Insurance will now need to pay for a new upstairs shower too.



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Sacramento Water Damage and Mold Removal

Water Removal Process

Removing water damage from a Sacramento home or business can be a daunting task and take a lot of know-how and the right equipment. Most home owners think a flooded home isn’t a big deal and once the carpets dry everything is good, unfortunately they couldn’t be more wrong. Water travels further than people think and finds a way to get behind hard to reach places like baseboards, vinyl and into wall cavities affecting insulation and wood studs.

When you call PuroClean of Sacramento for help there is a high level of service that you will experience from our fully certified technicians to get your home or business back to the same condition it was in prior to the water loss. Our team is availbale 24/7 and will respond within the hour or sooner based on location.

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Our Water Damage Steps:

1 – We will extract the standing water from your floors and carpets with our Flood King and ride-on rover. Our water removal equipment extracts over 95% of the water from the carpet, pad and subfloor which makes the remaining water easier and quicker to dry.

Image showing our PuroClean services2 – We will take initial readings to determine what’s wet and what’s dry – this helps formulate a plan and calculate how much equipment is needed to dry out the structure. The plan will take into account the types of materials affected and amount of water trapped in those materials.

3 – All affected baseboards will need to be removed because we need to dry the walls behind the baseboards. Most baseboards in Sacramento are painted with a high gloss paint which doesn’t allow water to escape as well as a flat paint would.

4 – Exterior walls will need holes drilled into them in order to get air to circulate within the wall cavity. The main reason for this is to ensure the wet insulation also dries. If the source of the water damage came from above and you have blown-in insulation then the insulation will need to be replaced because wet blown-in insulation will pack down and loose it’s R-value.

5 – When drying walls there are multiple factors to take into account (aside from the insulation), like the paint – flat painted walls dry faster than high gloss and latex painted walls. Wall paper will dry if it’s made from paper, but vinyl wall paper wont and needs to be removed. Plaster also takes a lot longer to dry. At PuroClean in Sacramento we understand all these factors and know what it takes to get the job done.

6 – When it comes to water damaged floors, like with wet walls, there are just as many factors to take into account. We can save most solid hardwood floors with our floor drying mats, but laminate floors and particle board doesn’t respond well to drying and needs to be replaced. Vinyl floors (normally found in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms) wont allow water to escape and if the water remains trapped under the vinyl it can lead to mold, so vinyl flooring needs to be removed if water has found it’s way underneath.

7 – Cabinets need to be checked too. If water finds it’s way under or behind cabinets then special steps need to be followed to dry them out. Normally we can remove the toe kick to get air flow under them, but it not we need to drill small holes and inject air into them.

Picture of drying equipment used by PuroClean

State of the art PuroClean drying equipment

8 – Once all the materials that don’t dry well have been removed we will install the right amount of equipment to dry the remaining structure. Air movers circulate the air and help speed up evaporation from wet surfaces, while dehumidifiers remove the moisture from the air and make the air more thirsty to aid in quicker drying.

9 – PuroClean will return daily to take moisture readings and ensure everything is drying as required. As areas dry, equipment is removed.

10 – If you are going through your insurance provider then we will bill your insurance company directly. We work with all carriers and use Xactimate to create our invoices.

At PuroClean all our technicians are fully certified and trained in all the latest water and mold removal techniques. We are licensed and bonded and certified with the IICRC (The Clean Trust). As mentioned above we work with and bill all insurance companies directly and use Xactimate as required by most carriers.

If by chance you are unable to call PuroClean immediately following the water damage and building materials remain wet for an extended period of time then mold will develop and mold removal is required. This is a different process but our technicians are also fully trained and certified to deal with mold and mildew.

Water Fire Mold services image

Our Mold Removal Steps:

1 – We will provide you with a free mold estimate and will walk you through the entire process so you are well informed before we start.

Photo of technician in mold containment

Mold removal technician inside containment

2 – PuroClean will start off building containment so all mold spores will remain in the area of the building being remediated and not spread to previously unaffected parts of the building. Containment is built using poles, tape, staples and 6-mil plastic. We place an air scrubber inside the containment and one outside the containment to scrub the air.

3 – While drywall (sheetrock) affected by mold growth is removed in a controlled manner with a HEPA drywall saw, the containment will be placed under negative pressure. This negative pressure within the containment will prevent any mold spores from escaping while material removal is ongoing.

4 – All removed materials will be doubled bagged and removed from the site.

5 – Any affected wood studs, subfloor or rafters will be HEPA sanded to remove all visible mold growth.

6 – All surfaces within the containment will be wiped down and HEPA vacuumed at least 3 times on 3 separate days giving the mold spores a chance to settle between treatments.

7 – Lastly, the containment will be wiped down and the air scrubbers turned off in preparation for the final mold clearance test which is conducted by an independent third party mold tester. Note: this final clearance test should not be performed by the mold removal company themselves as that would be a conflict of interests.

Here at PuroClean in Sacramento we are so confident that we will pass a mold clearance test after our mold removal work, that if we fail due to cleaning we will return an clean again for free – we will even pay for the second mold clearance test.

If you have any water damage or mold damage in Sacramento or any surrounding area, give PuroClean in Sacramento a call - we will get your life back on track restoring your home to a pre-loss condition like it never happened.

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Severe Weather in Austin TX

Texas leads the rest of the country when it comes to flooding and other severe weather related events. Austin,TX lies directly in the path of what is commonly referred to as Flash Flood Alley, an area prone for rapidly developing flood conditions that offer little or no advanced warning to those who may be in their path. Flash floods have the ability to form within a matter of minutes and sweep across the landscape causing enormous damage to life and property. At the time of writing this article authorities in central Texas have blocked off roadways and there are thousands without power as rains pour down and flash flood warnings are being issued. Already 2.85 inches of rain have been recorded at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Many of creeks and streams are already flooded and driving at night is strongly unadvised, as the low-water crossings have become dangerous. Forecasters says its going to be a busy 24 hours, with all elements of severe weather possible including hail, strong winds, flash flooding, and even an isolated tornado or two.

Image of collapsed ceiling

Collapsed ceiling following a storm

For residents in the Austin TX area, water damage is a serious matter. Homes and businesses may be severely damaged or destroyed as a result of water problems, and it becomes important to know how to handle it when it does occur. Around 150 people die each year in the US because of floods. A vast majority of those deaths are from electrocution or other accidents that take place after the flood waters have subsided. The water damage restoration process should always begin as soon as possible following a water damage event. Doing so prevents further damage from occurring, as well as eliminating the threat of more serious long term problems such as mold and mildew.

In the event of flash floods, higher ground is always the preferred option. In most cases you will have very little warning so a prompt evacuation is a must. Never try to drive through or walk through rapidly moving flood waters as you may find yourself swept away by the current. If you must wade through standing water use a wooden stick for turning items over, scaring away animals and snakes, and moving electrical wires.

The power of water is considerable to say the least. Flood waters can literally shift a home or business on its foundation, rendering it structurally unsafe. Always check to make sure the structure is sound before attempting to re-enter it. Check the foundation of your home for cracks or other damage. You can also check porch roofs and overhangs to ensure they still have all their supports. Check if there is a gap between your porch steps and your home. The font door sticking can also be an indication of potential danger. If it sticks at the bottom it could just be swollen from the water and it can be forced open, but if it sticks at the top it could be an indication that the ceiling may be ready to fall. Open the door and wait outside for a few minutes, when you enter the home pay attention to the ceiling and look for any obvious structural damage. If you spot major structural damage, call a building inspector out to check the home before you enter it.

The electricity and gas should be shut off at the source for safety reasons. Water and electricity do not mix and even a slight spark could be enough to ignite any leaking gas. Turn off the power at your breaker box even if the electricity has been switched off for the entire community, that way you can determine whether it’s safe for your home to receive electricity again independently of the community. You wouldn’t want the electricity company turning on the power without warning while you’re working on it.

You should also be aware of any dangers within a flooded out house, especially animals such as snakes that are often swept by floodwaters into abandoned houses. Be sure to wear protective clothing, gloves, boots, and eyewear when working in or around flood waters. Pregnant women, young children and people with health problems should stay away from the flooded area altogether until cleanup is complete.

Photo of a flooded town following a stormIt may sound like a small thing, but open the windows and doors in the structure and get air moving through the area. Air circulation is the benchmark of the drying process, and the sooner you allow this process to begin, the sooner things will be dry.

If there are any damaged items such as furniture or personal effects, remove them. They can be taken elsewhere for drying, cleaning, and repair, and will not impede other water damage restoration efforts. Keep in mind your residence and personal items may appear to be beyond hope, but the truth is quit a few of your belongings can be restored with the exception of porous materials such as wallboard and mattresses. These items will hold mud and contaminants forever regardless of how many times they are cleaned. When in doubt, throw it out – it’s more cost effective and safer.

Of course you should also call your local water damage restoration professionals, as they have the skills, training, and experience necessary to be able to remove the water from your property and return the home to its pre loss condition. They are available 24/7 and all work is guaranteed.

With severe weather season upon us, the time is now to get ready and be prepared in case disaster does strike.  Grab the number for your local water damage restoration professionals today. For you local Austin Restoration Company check these guys out: link

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