Beware mold problem this fall

Fall is here, and with it comes football, colorful fall foliage, cooler temperatures, and mold.

That’s right, mold!

Here’s the reason: as the temperature begins to cool down outside, your air conditioner is not going to run as frequently, but it is not really cold enough yet to need heat.

Although the temperature inside your home may be within an acceptable range, the humidity can build to an unacceptable level since the air conditioner is not drying the air. This humid air may be enough to cause a mold problem. In addition, many people open their windows and doors to take full advantage of these wonderfully cool temperatures. All that “fresh” air coming in through open windows and doors is bringing a multitude of mold spores with it.

But don’t fear. We have a few simple tips to help prevent a mold problem in your home during the autumn months.

5 Ways to Prevent Indoor Mold this Fall

  1. Adjust the temperature on your thermostat to ensure that the air conditioner cycles at least a few times every day.
  2. Run ceiling and/or room fans to circulate air inside your home.
  3. Cycle your HVAC system fan at least a few times every day by switching the fan to “on” rather than “auto” on your thermostat to circulate air throughout the house. This also helps to clean the air because it is being pulled through the air filter(s).
  4. Limit opening windows and doors to times when the humidity is low outside.
  5. If you do open your windows, place an air filter (preferably a high efficiency pleated filter) over an open window on one end of your house and a box fan facing out an open window on the other end of your house to to draw in fresh “filtered” air.

Enjoy the cooler weather this fall, but don’t make the mistake of turning off your air conditioner to save money, just to end up with an expensive mold problem inside your home.

How Branch Environmental Can help

Branch Environmental is a full-service mold inspection, assessment, and remediation company.

Contact us today if you would like to schedule a mold inspection, request a remediation estimate, or simply have questions regarding how to prevent a mold problem.

How to clean mold

Everyone knows the best way to clean mold is with bleach, right? Wrong! Keep reading to find out the best way to clean mold — and why not to use bleach.

Why Not Kill Mold With Bleach?

The goal of mold cleaning is not to kill mold, or even to disinfect a surface or material, but rather to remove mold from a surface. Think of mold like dirt. If you had a wall with dirt on it, would you simply spray it with bleach and consider it cleaned? Of course not. Bleach is a disinfectant, not a detergent.

Bleach is also highly toxic, especially when mixed with other cleaners or chemicals. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discourages the use of bleach and biocides for mold cleaning.

Remove Mold With Detergent

The best method for cleaning mold on non-porous and some hard, porous surfaces is to scrub and/or damp wipe the surface with a mild detergent solution. Surprised? What about all of the mold cleaners that are being marketed? What about the claims that a certain product kills mold, removes mold, removes stains, disinfects surfaces and prevents mold from ever returning? If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

What you really need is soap. It’s simple physics. Mold is hydrophobic, meaning it lacks an affinity for water or repels away from water and aerosol sprays. When water is applied to a moldy surface, it causes mold spores to scatter. When detergent is added to the water, it acts as a surfactant and breaks down the surface tension. This causes the mold spores to be released from the surface and allows them to be easily removed by wiping.

You might be surprised to learn that some of the most effective detergents for cleaning mold are liquid dishwashing detergents, such as Cascade and Dawn. Dishwashing detergent does not produce suds, making it easier to see the surface you are cleaning. Dishwashing detergent is designed to cut through tough grease and grime, but is gentle enough to not irritate skin.

We recommend treating surfaces with a product such as Concrobium Mold Control after cleaning to kill any remaining mold spores and to provide some level of inhibition of future mold growth.

What About Porous Items?

Porous items such as upholstered furniture, clothing, carpet and ceiling tiles are more difficult to clean. If the mold is extensive, then these items will likely have to be discarded.

Light mold growth can be removed using a HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner, by professional laundering or by specialized furniture or carpet cleaning companies. Even after cleaning, remaining mold stains may be difficult or impossible to remove.

How Branch Environmental Can Help

A complete mold remediation involves not only cleaning, but also identifying and correcting the moisture problem(s) that led to mold growth in the first place.

Branch Environmental is a full service mold inspection, assessment and remediation company. Call us today if you would like to schedule a mold inspection, request a remediation estimate, or if you simply have questions about how to clean mold.

I love working with accounting and the different items that are related with the company’s growth.

Tell us a little about the work you do with Branch?

I work primarily in Job Costing, Accounts Payable, and Payroll.

What are your biggest personal goals?

To stay debt free and prepare financially for retirement.

What are some of the activities you enjoy with your family and friends?

Spending time at the lake with family in Hiawassee, hiking, motorcycle riding.

Who is one of the most influential person in your life and why?

My Husband because of all his moral support!

What is your favorite thing about the work you do with Branch?

Working with accounting and the different items that are related with the company’s growth.

If you had to name one thing that makes Branch just a little different, what would it be?

The Christian atmosphere.

I enjoy all the different things I get to do. When people ask me what I do, I love to tell them.

Tell us a little about the work you do with Branch Contractors?

I am a part of the “Solutions Team” at Branch Contractors. I manage the warehouse, facilities, and truck inventories. However, I also help on demolitions and organize plans for our contracting projects.

What are you biggest personal goal?

To be debt free.

What are some of your interests outside of work?

I love to spend time with my family. We enjoy gardening together.

What is your favorite thing you do at Branch Contractors?

I enjoy all the different things I get to do. When people ask me what I do, I love to tell them. One day I might be doing and asbestos inspection, the next day an abatement, the next day I may be working in our warehouse, the next day I may be driving a skid steer helping demo a house, or the next day planning for an upcoming project.

Our commitment to excellence. We will not consider a project finished until complete satisfaction by both the customer and Branch Contractors, Inc. is accomplished.

What are your favorite kinds of things to read?

Cookbooks. I have a large cookbook library and am constantly adding to it. My favorites are vintage cookbooks from antique stores and estate sales. I especially love finding cookbooks with notes from the original owner inside.

What are some of your interests outside of work?

Cooking, baking, running, riding bikes and working in my yard.

Do you have a favorite vacation destination?

Any beach, anywhere, but I can also frequently be found in the North Carolina mountains hoping to be snowed in or getting away from the summer heat.

What is your favorite thing about the work you do with Branch?

Baking the Christmas gift baskets and year round dessert cups that we send out to our customers.

If you had to name one thing that makes Branch just a little different, what would it be?

Our commitment to excellence. We will not consider a project finished until complete satisfaction by both the customer and Branch Contractors, Inc. is accomplished.

Cleaning mold

It seems like nearly every week someone calls and wants to know how to kill mold. We then explain why cleaning surfaces to remove mold is more important than killing mold.

Always remember that unless you correct the moisture problem that led to mold growth, then it will return whether you kill it or clean it.

Why do we care about mold in the first place?

Before we can address cleaning mold vs. killing mold, we first have to understand why mold is a problem. It is a widely known fact that breathing or coming into contact with mold is unhealthy.

Mold is an allergen, similar to pollen, dust mites, dander, and pet hair. But mold is also a sensitizer, meaning that the more you’re exposed to mold, the more sensitive you may become. People with existing health concerns such as allergies and asthma, as well as infants and the elderly, may be more sensitive to mold.

While certain types of mold are more dangerous than others, all mold is unhealthy. Some molds produce microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs), which can be highly toxic if inhaled or ingested.

Allergens should be removed from your environment, not “killed”

Mold, like other allergens, should be removed from your indoor environment. If you had pet hair, dust, pollen or any other allergen present in your indoor environment, would you simply spray it with bleach or some other product to “kill” it?

Of course not, you would remove the allergen by cleaning. The point is that even dead mold spores present a health concern. Stay tuned for our next post on how to clean mold for more information on the process.

What happens when you “kill” mold instead of cleaning mold?

We recently performed a mold and indoor air quality inspection for a customer who had purchased a home, and within the first month of living in the home, was experiencing odors and breathing problems.

Prior to the purchase of the home, a home inspector found mold in the crawl space. The sellers hired someone to perform a mold remediation. Come to find out, the mold “remediation” consisted of a guy spraying the mold in the crawl space with some unknown chemical. No cleaning or mold removal was involved.

Our inspection revealed a crawl space full of mostly dead mold and several issues with the HVAC system that were allowing the system to draw in dirty crawl space air full of mold spores and supply this air to the home. We recommended that an HVAC contractor seal all the penetrations in the system, clean the ductwork and air handler, replace the filter with one sized appropriately for the unit and seal where the duct boots pass through the subfloor.

Following the HVAC work and installation of a sealed vapor barrier, we cleaned the entire crawl space to remove all mold, dead or alive. The homeowner no longer smells moldy odors inside the home, and is breathing easier thanks to a thorough mold remediation and properly functioning HVAC system.

How Branch Environmental can help

A complete mold remediation involves cleaning mold, not killing it, and a successful remediation relies on correcting the moisture problem that led to mold growth in the first place.

Branch Environmental is a full-service mold inspection, assessment, and remediation company. Contact us today if you would like to schedule a mold inspection, request a remediation estimate, or simply have questions regarding mold cleaning.

I believe that the company must always follow through on its promises and commitments.

I was born and raised in Oconee County and currently live in Bishop with my wife, Katie and our daughter, Ellavie. I am actually a 9th generation Branch to live here in Oconee so my roots run pretty deep. My family has traditionally been mostly farmers and I have not fallen far from that myself as I also have a small farm in Bishop.

I graduated from Oconee High School in 1994 then began attended college at Truett-McConnel back when there was a satellite campus here in Watkinsville. In 1995, while attending Truett, I started Branch Contractors. When I started the company, I did not plan for it to be as it is today as it was just a way to earn income until I finished college. Shortly after starting the business, I began to see a need for and target in repairs after fires, floods or storm damage. Looking back at the beginning, it is amazing to me to see how well we have grown.

I have been very blessed to have a great and talented Team that works hard to give an excellent product. I have to say that I am extremely pleased with the feedback that I receive from customers and the community regarding their work quality and customer service

What kinds of things do you like to read?

I really enjoy reading books on leadership and personal and business development. I read one about every six weeks.

What are some of your interests outside of work?

Outside of work, I spend most of my time playing farmer. It’s a great interest of mine and I am in the very beginning stages of taking my hobby farm and transitioning it to a naturally-grown vegetable and meat producing operation.

If you had to name one thing that makes Branch Contractors just a little different, what would it be?

The number one thing that makes Branch different is our commitment to making it right. I believe that the company must always follow through on its promises and commitments. This means standing behind the product we produce beyond a normal warranty period and simply doing what is right.

Water damage mitigation and mold remediation in Greensboro, GA

In January of this year, a homeowner in Greensboro, GA had a frozen pipe that burst and flooded his finished basement. In response, a contractor removed some of the water-damaged building materials, and used limited drying equipment to dry out the basement.

The next month, while getting ready to rebuild, the homeowner called Branch to perform a mold inspection to find out whether the home had sustained mold damage. By calling before construction began, the homeowner was able to ensure that mold would not be a problem after investing in extensive home repairs.

Untreated Damage and Basement Mold

When we visited the home in February, we inspected the residence and found visible mold growth on baseboards, drywall, door casings, and wall studs.

We used moisture meters to determine that framing components were still wet. We recommended the removal of all the baseboards and drywall with visible mold growth, all drywall up to two feet high in areas affected by water, the bathroom vanity and all swollen doors and door casings.

The Mold Remediation Process

Once all water-damaged building materials were removed, we returned to perform mold remediation. The entire basement had been affected by water and we found mold in each room, so there was no need for containment within the basement itself.

In order to prevent the spread of mold spores to the rest of the home, a ZipDoor barrier was installed in the staircase that connects the basement and main level of the home. Removing the baseboards and moisture-affected drywall took care of the majority of the mold, and we hand-cleaned to remove remaining mold on the wall studs and bottom plates using a mild detergent solution.

After all of the mold had been removed, we treated the basement with Concrobium® Mold Control, which kills any remaining mold spores and provides one more layer of protection against future mold growth.

After Mold Removal

Following the mold remediation, we dried remaining wet building materials to an appropriate level by running six dehumidifiers and ten fans for four days. Throughout the drying process, we monitored and adjusted the equipment to maximize efficiency.

Once impacted building materials were dried to a similar moisture content as non-impacted materials, we performed a final visual inspection in order to ensure that all mold had been removed and that the basement was ready for reconstruction.

To Prevent Mold, Rapid Response is Key

When water damage occurs, it’s important to prevent mold growth by immediately drying or removing water-damaged building materials. In the right conditions, mold can start to grow within 48 hours after flooding! Performing water damage mitigation quickly and thoroughly can save you thousands of dollars and serious headaches by preventing the need for mold remediation.

In the event that you do experience a water damage event in your home or business, consider calling Branch Environmental to perform a mold inspection before you begin to rebuild. Don’t risk serious problems down the road — take steps to prevent mold on your property! For more on what to do when you’re concerned about mold growth, check out our other featured projects and educational resources.

Mold Remediation Winterville, GA

The Mold Problem

After an annual termite inspection, one of our customers in Winterville, GA called us to inspect her crawl space for moisture and mold. Upon inspection, we found that her crawl space had excess moisture, which was sustaining the mold growing on the floor insulation, floor joists, and subfloor.

The moisture in the crawl space originated from water seeping through the foundation along the back of the house. The grade sloped toward the house rather than away from it, so rain water naturally flowed toward the base of the home. Although a partial vapor barrier was in place, it did not cover all of the dirt in the crawl space, which left a significant amount of dirt exposed. Water had accumulated both under and on top of the vapor barrier.

Before we began the remediation process, the homeowner informed us that she preferred that we not use any toxic products or products that would produce strong or offensive odors.

The Remediation Plan

The first step toward removing the mold was correcting the source of moisture. To keep the water out, the grading in the backyard needed to slope away from the house. We recommended a general contractor that regraded the yard, excavated and waterproofed the foundation and installed French drains to capture and divert any water that does make it to the foundation.

Once the client corrected the source of accumulating moisture, we determined that to remove the mold and provide long-term mold prevention, we would take the following steps:

  1. Remove the floor insulation.
  2. Soda blast all floor joists and subfloor.
  3. Coat all floor joists and subfloor with a mold inhibiting coating.
  4. Install a new vapor barrier.
  5. Fog the crawl space with a mold inhibitor.

We created a two-day timeline to carry out the mold remediation in accordance with the client’s preference for natural products.

The Removal Process

Day One

When we arrived on site, we began by removing and bagging all of the floor insulation. We then used a soda blaster to clean the floor joists and subfloor. We used soda blasting in this case because it leaves an extremely clean, stain-free surface. The blasting media, baking soda, is non-toxic, and the structure of the home allowed easy access for the blasting equipment.

We used a Buster Blaster 100 soda blaster powered by a trailer-mounted, diesel-fueled air compressor. The crawl space was 1,220 square feet, which required four 50-pound bags of soda blast media.

After blasting was completed and we removed the residual baking soda from all of the surfaces, we sprayed the floor joists and subfloor with a mold inhibiting coating. We chose the EPA-registered Foster® Full DefenseTM Fungicidal Protective Coating (40-25) because it kills residual mold and provides long-term fungicidal activity.

Foster® Full DefenseTM provides a clean, white finish on coated surfaces, which results in a brighter crawl space, with spotless surfaces that the homeowner can see clearly. We applied a total of five gallons of the product using an airless sprayer.

Day Two

We started day two by preparing the floor of the crawl space for the new vapor barrier. We removed the old vapor barrier, dug out all of the rocks and debris, raked the surface smooth, and leveled out several piles of dirt that had collected in the corners.

We then constructed the new vapor barrier over the newly smoothed dirt surface. From foundation wall to foundation wall, we installed 6-mil clear polyethylene sheeting. To keep all moisture out, we wrapped the sheeting around the base of the foundation piers, overlapped seams by at least 2 feet, and sealed the seams with spray adhesive and tape. To keep the vapor barrier in place, we inserted 6-inch galvanized spikes and washers every 5 feet along the perimeter and seams.

For the final step, we fogged the crawl space with Concrobium® Mold Control to kill any remaining airborne mold spores and to provide one more layer of protection against future mold growth.

The Results

We were able to completely eliminate the crawl space mold while meeting the homeowner’s need for non-toxic, low or no odor products:

  • The soda blast media consists of ordinary baking soda.
  • Foster® Full DefenseTM is a low odor, low VOC, water-based coating.
  • Concrobium® Mold Control is a non-toxic product that produces no odor and no VOCs.

This project resulted in a dry, bright and clean crawl space, free of mold growth and protected for years to come with a solid vapor barrier and a full fungicidal coating. Our customer was satisfied with both the results and our remediation process. Contact us today to find out how we can solve your mold problems!

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