This is an interesting problem. Some companies offer very low cost 'mold testing' with air samples for your home. If the mold report comes back with a higher score for the inside of your home a mold remediation is then recommended for your home that can cost several thousand dollars or more that they are more than happy to do for you. It is also worth noting that a company can sometimes manipulate the samples taken, depending on the circumstances, in order to show your home is in need of an expensive remediation.
This is one reason why my Company does not do Mold Remediation due to a conflict of interest. Though there is no 'law' about doing this it is a good practice to keep the inspection company and remediation company separate. When I do an inspection I stay objective and am not looking for ways to 'create' work for myself or my company. The recommendations that are made in my reports are based on evidence of potential or current issues to help safeguard my client.
One thing to know is that mold testing or sampling should always be done in conjunction with a Mold Inspection, that is an inspection for potential moisture or mold issues. The reason is that the inspection will normally help explain why there is a higher count if there is one. There are certain recommendations to follow depending on what is found during this inspection which should be specific not general.
There should always be photo documentation of the possible issue. Example: a picture of the moisture reading of '35%' noting where this was found and following up with a specific recommendation.
It is important to understand that air samples can be higher inside a home than outside for a number of reasons and one should not be hasty about employing a company to 'remediate you home' just because a lab report says it is higher than the outside.
A case in point: If I do a Mold Inspection and do not find anything significant from that but find that the Mold Samples taken show a higher count inside than outside I have basic recommendations that cost very little overall to do in this situation.
1. Do a good cleaning of the home or affected areas.
2. Use a vacuum with a hepa filter which captures mold spores and other contaminants in the air and use on carpet, drapes and fabric furniture.
3. Use an anti-microbial (disinfectant) to wipe down all applicable surfaces to kill possible mold and bacteria growth.
4. Get one or more air cleaning machines with hepa filters for all rooms in you home that need one. Some models cost less than $100 and can be rotated throughout your home though more than one may be needed from a practical standpoint.
5. Maintain regular house hygiene so mold does not build up even if you don't see it.
These are things that can be done that does not cost an arm and a leg, assuming there is nothing else going on like an unseen leak.
It is important to maintain good Hygiene Habits but especially with the current global pandemic that everyone is focused on. That being said being more diligent about our personal and House Hygiene can help prevent other dangers to our Health and Safety.
Part of this diligence is regularly checking the various workings of our home such as faucets, drains, water pressure and potential leaks. The reason for this is Very Important for Our overall Health and Safety.
This is because leaks or other moisture issues that develop in our home without our knowledge can quickly develop into a Health Hazard that can compromise our health and make us even more vulnerable to COVID-19.
In a recent post I talked about how water in the home left untreated (like a leak or water intrusion) can start growing bacteria in 3 to 5 days and is also considered a Health Hazard per the CDC in Atlanta. Another few days after that (another 3 to 5 or more) can develop into 'Black' water which has more dangerous bacteria which is an even Higher Health Hazard.
So while many are now at home why not take the time to check out your home to make sure there are not potential moisture or mold issues. If you are not sure or suspect some then by all means contact me so I can asist.
Good Health to you!
As a result of the COVID-19 court operations have been put on hold except for very important or emergency type items such as 'restraining orders' I found out.
In any event many may fear taking their landlord to court while still living on the property fearing eviction. The law prevents that from happening if there has been an event such as a leak or mold found due to landlord neglect or refusing to take necessary steps to take care of the situation. The law refers to this as 'retaliation' and prevents landlords from asking tenants to vacate or leave or even evicting them if such an event has occurred within a 180 day period or is even ongoing.
Not all landlords are aware of this and still may try to get you to leave anyway. As long as you are paying your rent there is not much they can do until their obligations are taken care of.
And then they will likely have to wait the 180 days or end of lease to give you a vacate notice.
The price to file court papers and then have these served on your landlord may cost up to about $350 give or take depending on which service you use. Assuming you win the case you can get these fees back by court order. The scheduling currently is about 1 to 2 months for this type of small claims filing.
It is always best to try and work things out but if the landlord is unwilling then you need to do what is necessary, within the law and moral principle, and take legal action as has been mentioned.
Most renters don't realize they can take their landlord/property owner to court and it is not that difficult when it comes to important issues like Health and Safety. For those that do realize it they may think it is an insurmountable task that cost lots of money. That is not necessarily true.
For example; if there has been some type of leak in your home and it has not been properly taken care of you can take them to court for 'Breach of Contract and Implied Warranty of Habitability'. Let's explain this a bit more.
California Senate Bill 655 (which passed over 4 years ago) requires property owners to ' maintain the property free of dampness and mold'. If either of these conditions exist in the home after the owner has been duly informed then they become in 'Breach of Contract' as stated above.
One reason dampness is in the bill is that it leads to mold growth within a day or two of the moisture being present. In addition it also leads to harmful bacteria growth within about 3 to 5 days of moisture (left untreated) which is called 'gray water' or category 2 water as mentioned in a previous post. Then within about another 5 days it becomes 'black water' or category 3 water due to more extensive bacteria growth.
Both of these is listed as a 'Health Hazard' per the CDC and every health department in the country. But before rushing to court you want to make sure you have the proper 'evidence' to do this. Keep in mind that 'safety' is paramount and the primary issue we all have to be concerned with.
Depending on what action your landlord has taken on the problem to your home you likely will need an inspection of the affected areas or property by a professional such as a 'Mold Inspector' or other similarly certified person who can evaluate the issue and put it into a written report that can be used in court. The inspector would also have to be potentially available to testify to the report in court. The inspector being present to testify is especially important as he/she would be considered the expert on the issue and to 'validate' the report.
In this example I am referring to using 'small claims' court in California. In small claims neither side can have a lawyer and the judge may tend to favor the tenant when there is a violation by the landlord. So there is no lawyer expense. However, I do recommend you consult with one in the specific health and safety issue and they can recommend how to proceed. I would also recommend have a 'Legal Shield' policy which provides unlimited consultation on the phone for a basic monthly fee of about $25/month. And you don't have to keep the policy in force for more than your consultations if you don't want to. I will write more in the next post.
Did You know that many have water come into their home from the outside?
It is important to pay attention to the height of the soil grade outside your house. General code recommends that the dirt (soil grade) height be from 4 to 6 inches below the weep screed of the stucco (which roughly corresponds to the top of your foundations). The weep screed is this metal at the bottom of your stucco allowing water to drip down. If you don't have stucco then this would normally be the bottom edge of the wood siding above the dirt.
The reason has to do with helping to prevent water intrusion into your home. If the dirt level (soil grade) is too high, say about the same level as the top of your foundation then when rain comes, or sprinklers are used regularly this allows easy water penetration into your home without you being aware of it.
When this happens then the wood sill plate (which is the horizontal 2x4 on the concrete foundation) gets wet then the drywall inside your home can get wet along with any flooring that is present. This can often happen slowly over a period of time growing mold and causing water damage to the home without it being readily noticed for a while.
In extreme cases during heavy rain the water can come straight into your home like a slow flood.
So by keeping your soil grade well below the top of the house foundation the safer your home will be from this type of water intrusion and water damage and, of course, mold growth.
OK folks. It has been a good while since I posted, mainly because I have been busy with other stuff. I want to at least give people a good warning on a particular point.
WET DRYWALL or WET WALLS or Ceiling.
If you are concerned there may be mold behind wet walls or ceilings don't worry, there IS. It is a scientific biological fact that if there is moisture there will be mold whether you see it or not.
The reason is that mold starts to grow about 24 hours after getting a water source. And the longer the moisture has been there the more mold will grow. In the case of wet walls most of the mold is likely inside the wall where you may not see it. But the mold will still grow on the outside of it at some point.
Some people will want to cut open the drywall or have someone else do it to see if they can see mold. PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS! If this is done then you will release the accumulated mold spores from inside the wall or ceiling and you will not see them and expose your family to this. Not a good idea.
There is also bacteria that is present due to the moisture being there for a good many days or longer. That is a health hazard per the CDC. I'm purposely trying not to get technical. But please be aware of this.
Mold in CA Senate Bill 655
Or CA SB 655 went into effect January 2016.
A person can contact the Fair Housing Foundation in California. They can assist if there is a moisture or mold issue in the home. By law in CA a landlord has to maintain the property free of dampness and mold per the CA SB 655 that went into effect about 3 years ago. Of course this refers to items that are their responsibility and not the tenants. If the landlord tries to force a person to move due to this type of event, that is viewed as 'retaliation' and basically can nullify any vacate notice. The landlord is obligated to fix a problem that is their responsibility.
An example of what is not the landlord's responsibility is: a tenant fails to clean the tub for a period of time (say a month) and mold starts growing as a result. This is not the landlord's responsibility.
Say on the other hand one notices what appears to be visible mold growing on the drywall under a sink or mushrooms growing out of the wall due to moisture or water having leaked into the wall, this would be the landlord's responsibility.
If a person wants to confirm that there may be a moisture/mold issue then a company like mine can be hired to inspect (and take samples if needed). If the inspection reveals the issue is the landlord's responsibility then the tenant (by law) can get credited the expense of the inspection and sampling as the tenant is allowed to 'repair and deduct' twice per year if the landlord fails to take action.
Since this type of event is a 'health issue' you have every right to hire an inspector for mold/moisture issues without the landlord's permission or consultation. Contact me for further information if needed.
Here are a few tips to help minimize mold growth in your home and how to address some of that issue.
1. Maintain regular house hygiene.
2. Promptly address any spills or leaks. The longer water sits or is present the longer mold will grow. Remember that mold starts growing about 24 hours after getting a water source.
3. Get at least one (if not several) air cleaning machines equipped with a hepa filter. The key is 'hepa' filter as this is what will remove up to 99.97% of air contaminants including mold spores. This can make a big difference in air quality in the home. There are many brands out there and with extra bells and whistles if you can afford them. A basic model can be purchased for a $100 or possibly less.
4. If one suspects moisture being present or recently experienced a leak then have the area(s) inspected as soon as possible by a professional such as My Company and follow the recommendations provided.
5. If a person is experiencing adverse health symptoms and want to rule out mold or confirm it consider having air quality and other samples taken. These can provide valuable information on what the family is being exposed to. The lab report can be taken to your doctor who can test to see if the molds found are affecting a person.
6. Keep in mind it is normally best to have an inspection done for potential moisture or mold issues in the home in conjunction with mold sampling/testing. The reason is this. The mold sampling/testing can provide information as to whether there is excess mold in the home. However, the samples cannot tell why there is excess mold in the home. The inspection can help determine why this is the case and also provide how to address the issue(s) found.
Check back for more later!
One example of a mold 'Unfriendly' to people is a genus called Stachybotrys which is in the family of Stachybotryaceae. Because of the color normally being black this particular mold type is what has become known as toxic black mold. However, it is important to know that not all species in this genus of Stachybotrys are considered unfriendly or harmful to people.
At any rate the ones that can be toxic depends on how contact is made with the mold and a person's immune system. One person can have an allergic reaction when this touches their skin and a rash may occur depending on the sensitivity of the person.
The most extreme example can be this: A person fresh out of a lung transplant who inhales one or two spores from this genus (of the ones that are considered potentially harmful) can die. This is the extreme case where the average person inhaling a couple of spores from this genus will not be affected at all. But affects will vary from person to person based on their individual immune response and the amount of mold spores and type the person is exposed to.
Mycotoxins from mold can also play a part. These are produced by molds to 'combat' other molds in the area which I like to refer to Mold Warfare. Notice some affects below.
Long-term mold exposure, even if it doesn't cause immediate symptoms, may also lead to:
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.