What Exactly Is Mold?
When it comes down to it, not many people actually understand what mold is. So what is mold? Well, in this blog we are going to discuss just that.
What is Mold:
The word “mold” refers to a group of fungi that are very common on food or wet surfaces. This fungi will include the green mold that produces penicillin as well as the mold that you will commonly see on fruit, bread, or cheese as it spoils. Most molds you will find growing on damp building materials are actually found in soil and is adapted to grow on a wide variety of materials. In the outdoors mold will grow in soil, on plants, and on decaying matter. There are thousands of different types of this fungi we refer to as mold. These types will range from different moisture conditions as well as a vast array of different colors. Many times (but not always) there is a very musty odor that can be associated with the presence of mold. Live spores will act like seeds in spreading and forming new mold growths that we refer to as colonies under the right conditions. We are all exposed to a variety of fungal spores on a daily basis both indoors and outdoors. So how does this fungi we call mold find its way into our homes and buildings? Let’s discuss.
How mold enters a structure:
We now understand that mold and fungal spores naturally occur outdoors. Indoors, however, mold will require moisture in order to grow. This will commonly occur from water damage in your home or building. Water damage may appear in your home due to flooding, roof leaks, storm-driven rain, pipe leaks, damp basements, or condensation on cold surfaces. Fortunately, there are several ways in which to prevent mold growth which you can read about in our next blog!
Home Mold Prevention
Now that we have discussed what mold is, let’s discuss how we can prevent it from occurring in our homes!
When trying to take preventative measures against mold growth in your home, the key is to control excessive moisture and condensation. Keeping areas in your home clean and dry that are especially susceptible to moisture and dampness is of the upmost importance. There are three main factors which will contribute to condensation of water on surfaces:
Condensation will occur when air is saturated with water and cannot hold any more moisture. Steam from hot showers or cooking commonly fill the air with moisture which will then condense into droplets of water on cooler surfaces. Air conditioners and dehumidifiers are great tools in controlling the humidity in your home.
Warm air holds more moisture than cold air. When humid air comes into contact with a cold surface condensation occurs. Condensation particularly occurs on north facing walls if they are not properly insulated. Cold water pipes should be covered with insulation to prevent condensation
Indoor humidity can build up if there is not enough ventilation to exchange indoor and outdoor air. This can lead to increased condensation and mold growth. Air should be allowed to circulate between rooms to remove humid air.
These are just some of the many ways we can begin to prevent mold from forming in our homes. Little precautions such as these are crucial as mold remediation can be a costly affair that is not often covered by insurance companies. Should you have any questions about mold do not hesitate to call SERVPRO of Garden City/Hempstead!
What is a Superstorm?
When you mention Hurricane Sandy, everyone knows exactly what you are talking about. The superstorm of the century that greatly affected our local area of Long Island New York. What you may not know is what exactly makes a storm a “superstorm”. In this blog we will discuss just that.
Sandy had begun as a normal hurricane getting energy from the warm waters of the Caribbean. She then made a sharp left which pushed her to collide with a winter storm like system. The warm water crashing into the cold wintry atmosphere caused the hurricane to morph into a winter cyclone and drastically increase in size.
Winds then began to about 1000 miles across which resulted in record breaking storm surges in coastal areas and in turn, blizzard conditions to the mountains. Parking lots became small lakes as this storm progressed, leaving residents to return home after evacuation to find many of their belongings floating near their homes. Mountainous piles of sand filled the streets and cars and boats were pushed around almost effortlessly by the intense winds and extreme water levels. The results of this superstorm were nothing short of devastating.
A “superstorm” is really a general term used by meteorologists when there are so many components making up the extreme weather that it cannot be classified as just one thing, such as a hurricane or blizzard. There is actually no formal definition for this term as it still fairly new. While there may be no specific definition, the dramatic effects speak for themselves.
If another superstorm is to ever hit Long Island do not hesitate to contact us at SERVPRO of Garden City/Hempstead (516) 620-4579, as we will be prepared to help in any way possible with our crew of experienced professional technicians and our extensive collection of professional water mitigation equipment.
We all know what hail storms are, and many of us have even been caught in them at one time or another. Here we will discuss a few aspects of hail storms and exactly how they form! First, let us define hail. Hail is a type of frozen precipitation that occurs in severe thunderstorms and can develop at any time of the year.
How Hail Forms:
During the storms, currents of air move upwards and downwards. Inside these udprafts water vapor and rain are pushed high into the cumulonimbus cloud. At a certain height, the air temperature will drop below freezing and the water will condense onto dust. The supercooled water molecules condense onto the condensation nucleus and freeze producing a tiny ice particle which serves as a center of the hailstone. As this tiny ice particle falls below the freezing line due to gravity it will collide with rain drops and other ice particles and accumulates a layer of water that turns into ice making it too heavy for the updrafts to carry so it falls to the ground. In order for a storm to produce a dime sized hail the updraft speed needs to be at least 37 mph!!! For a golfball size the speed would have to be around 56 mph!!!
The damage that will result from a hail storm will vary depending on the size of the hail. This damage will include personal injury to both humans and animals and property damage to homes and cars as well. Every year hail storms cause approximately $1 billion in property as well as crop damage. Hailstorms can also severely damage airplanes traveling through thunder storms. Despite the extensive damage it may cause, hail storms are actually pretty rare.
The best way to avoid injury during a hailstorm is to seek shelter in a sturdy building as soon as the warning is issued. If you MUST be outside during a storm such as this, be sure to protect you rhead!
Wood Burning Stove
One of the best ways to heat your home during the cold months is a wood burning stove. In this blog we will go over some safety tips to ensure that the use of your wood burning stove never leads to a fire in your home.
When you install a wood burning stove be sure that there is a 36 in clearance of combustible materials around the entire perimeter of the stove. Insufficient clearance could result in the heat produced by the stove penetrating nearby combustibles ultimately causing a serious fire. You should make sure to install a heat shield along the combustible wall as well.
The chimney for a wood burning stove should be masonry. Never should an unlined, single brick chimney be used for a wood stove. This is due to the fact that single brick chimneys are prone to deterioration, which could potentially allow for dangerous situations to develop. If you have a double brick chimney check for cracked mortar or missing bring. Metal chimneys must never be used with a coal stove as the corrosive flue gases produced by a coal fire will cause rapid deterioration of the chimney.
Venting the stove is the most important aspect of using a wood burning system. 90% of all stove related fires originate within the venting system. A venting system is not the chimney itself!!! The venting system is insulated stovepipe which connects the stove to the appropriate chimney type. Keep the vent as short as possible. Stovepipe clearance is important as well. It must never pass through an interior wall, floor, or ceiling.
For proper maintenance make sure you always use the proper fuel such as hardwoods, regular cleaning is of upmost importance using a wire brush. It’s good to clean the stovepipe at least once per year. Avoid creosote buildup which is a highly combustible fuel that burns intensely.
Backyard Fire Pit
One of the most enjoyable parts of summer is being able to gather family and friends around a backyard fire pit. To ensure that these nights are as safe as they are fun, here we will go over some safety tips to prevent a fire from occurring.
Make sure your fire pit is a minimum of 10 feet away from any structure. Do not position the fire pit under a covered porch or low hanging branches, it’s best to have it out in the open with no neighboring trees or bushes. Always place a fire pit on a non-flammable surface such as concrete. Never put a fire put on a wooden deck or directly on grass.
Clear away any flammable materials in close proximity before lighting your fire pit. A five foot break in vegetation around the fire pi will help prevent any escaped flames from spreading. Piling dirt or rocks around the pit will also help prevent any spreading of fire. The pit should be about six inches deep at the center and two feet across to help keep embers and flames contained.
Always check the wind direction when lighting your fire pit and be sure to remove anything down wind of it. If it is too windy do not light your fire pit. Do not use lighter fluid, while it may be easier, instead a commercial fire starter stick with kindling will work just as well. Do no use any flammable fluids to light or relight the fire.
Always have a shovel on hand to extinguish any escaped flames. Extinguish with water, drown it and then stir with the shovel until it’s fully extinguished. Dispose of ashes in a metal tin kept nearby and let cool for several days as ashes may stay hot for up to 72 hours. Never discard of hot ashes in a compost pile, paper bag, cardboard box, or anything that is combustible!
One major cause of water damage is bursting pipes in the colder months. When a pipe freezes and then defrosts the water trapped inside will expand causing the pipe to burst as you can read about in our other blog post. Here we will discuss pipe insulation which will in turn prevent the freezing and bursting of pipes in winter time.
Pipe Wrap Insulation:
Pipe insulation has many benefits, one of which is its ability to minimize heat gain and loss. This benefit may very well be the most important. When water travels through pipes in a home without pipe insulation hot water will lose heat and cold water will gain heat. Pipe insulation will allow you to greatly diminish these otherwise inevitable inefficiencies. This could result in lowering monthly energy bills and you won’t need to wait as long for the hot water to reach fixtures in your bathroom! When surfaces of plumbing pipes are cooler than the surrounding air, insulation helps control the condensation. This could otherwise result in slowly corroding pipe. Though condensation may not seem like a major concern, it’s quite common particularly when cold water lines come in contact with warm air. There are many types of pipe insulation made of different materials. Some are more suitable for hot water and some for controlling condensation. Being there are so many types to choose from, each with a different purpose, be sure to do your research before installing. Asbestos is not uncommon in many older home pipe insulations. Asbestos insulation is not always easy to spot but has a distinct corrugated look. If you are suspicious be sure to contact a professional. Pipe insulation is almost never a bad idea and should be thoroughly looked into before attempting. The benefits of this procedure far outweigh any negative effects!
Water Stain Ceiling
It is not uncommon that water stains will appear on the ceiling of your home or business. In this blog we will discuss the causes and solutions to this unsightly problem.
Whether is a roof, upstairs bathroom, or leaky pipe, you should be able to identify the cause of the water stains fairly easily. It’s also not uncommon for water to run along rafters or piping before dropping onto the ceiling, obfuscating the true source of the problem. Old caulking is another common source of water seepage. Piping or a shower pan that has come into disrepair is a possibility as well. Your pipe could have a leak or may just be sweating from inadequate insulation, which was discussed in another blog post. Pipes could be old and need to be replaced or hard water could be causing premature damage to pipes. If the water stain is coming from the roof you need to identify the nature of the disrepair. It may not necessarily be a leak as there are many causes when the roof is involved. Consider upgrading your insulation and not necessarily your roofing. If you choose to contact a roofing contractor, the more information you can provide for them the better.
You must make sure the water or moisture problem is corrected before attempting to fix the stain or damaged drywall/plaster! If the water continues to seep or leak all of your hard work will have been for nothing. Only when you’re positive that the problem has been solved should you proceed to fix or remove the area containing the water stain. A professional handyman can assist in this project fi you feel it’s beyond your capability. If the stain is purely cosmetic, get some stain-killing primer before repainting the area.
Deal with it:
The worst possible thing you can do is ignore the water stain! Clearly there is an underlying issue that needs to be addressed before any more damage occurs. If you deal with the stain and the underlying issue promptly you avoid a more costly repair in the future.
Asbestos At Work
In this blog we are going to veer off the beaten path a little bit and discuss asbestos in a work environment. If you believe you may have asbestos in your place of work feel free to give us a call as we are associated with a fantastic team of asbestos abatement professionals.
High Risk Occupations:
While even the average office worker can potentially face exposure to asbestos, these are some of the more common fields in which you could come in contact. Construction workers, as this industry has one of the highest uses of asbestos-containing materials. Construction is generally considered one of the most dangers fields as it is due to the many accidents that can occur. It’s estimate that 1 million construction workers are exposed to asbestos materials each year. Shipyard workers, as shipyards contain high quantities of asbestos. These workers are among the most diagnosed with asbestos related diseases. Mechanics, as whether it be a vehicle or an aircraft, asbestos exposure is always a high risk. Auto repair shops often times have poor ventilation and circulation which can make asbestos more concentrated. Plant workers, as both chemical plant and industrial plant workers face asbestos exposure on the job. Power plant workers deal with equipment such as boilers, generators, and turbines, which all pose a threat of asbestos. Firefighes unfortunately are exposed to toxins like asbestos on the job on a regular basis. Many older buildings built before 1980 contain asbestos materials. In many cases protective gear worn for fighting fires will also help prevent exposure to the asbestos.
While there are many proactive regulations in place to help protect workers, many may still be exposed on the job. If you feel you have gotten sick as a result of asbestos exposure at work you may have legal rights in the situation. Always wear protective material and know what signs to look for when working in an area that could potentially contain asbestos.
Property Owners and Renters
If you rent an apartment or unit in a building and experience water damage, here is some information for you! Figuring out exactly what is your responsibility or your landlords can be very tricky and this blog is here to potentially help guide you in the right direction.
If there is damage to the building itself, look into your lease as your landlord most likely will have insurance for their property. If this is unclear in your lease, ask your landlord where you stand in the event of water damage so you know before it happens.
Anyone who rents should have renters insurance. Some places will even require it before allowing you to move in. Of course there are many varieties of renters insurance. Some cover interior fixtures like walls, floors, and pipes while others cover personal belongings.
A landlord should ensure that the units are livable. This would include upkeep and repairs to prevent such things as water damage from occurring. However, it is still up to the renter to repeatedly contact the landlord about any issues that may occur until they are resolved.
If you are the owner of the building you are renting out, the property itself should be covered under your insurance. This would include the floors, walls, and interior fixtures. It may fall under renters insurance as well.
If you are the landlord of a building and find yourself facing any type of water, mold, or fire damage, do not hesitate to contact us at SERVPRO of Garden City/Hempstead! We will work with you and your insurance company whether you are renting units to tenants or units to business owners.