An interesting situation has been developing since April 7th this year. It has to do with what happens when a landlord fails to fulfill his/her responsibilities under the law. And what do you do when mold grows in your home and its not your fault? Stay tuned. More will come in a few days here and on my Facebook page.
What are things you can do to minimize mold growth in your home? The following recommendations will help you do this.
1. Maintain good house hygiene; (meaning clean your home regularly).
2. Use a vacuum equipped with a hepa filter. This filter will remove up to 99.97% of contaminants, including mold spores, from the air.
3. Use Air Cleaning machines that have a hepa filter. As mentioned above this filter will remove up to 99.97% of contaminants, including mold spores, from the air.
4. Address any suspected leaks or mold growth promptly.
5. Use 'Damp-Rid' or similar product in closets and other potential problem areas where there is low air circulation or high humidity as this will absorb the excess humidity and thus reduce the chance for mold growth.
The above are some solid things you can do to help safeguard your home from potential mold growth. It I impossible to stop all mold growth in the home but you can maintain a relatively much safer home with very little mold growth.
Since It can be a challenging at times to be able to live up to all the legal and implied obligations of a property owner, it is important that if you lease or rent property you be thoroughly familiar with what is required of you as a landlord. Although, much of it may seem like common sense that can change depending on how any one person views a particular situation. Senate bill 655 that came into affect January of 2016 states, among other things, that the property must be maintained free of dampness and mold.
For example, what happens if a small leak has developed and it is reported by your tenant, business or residential? Obviously the first step is to find and repair the leak or source of water intrusion. Once that is accomplished many may feel that is the end of it and simply leave the area(s) to dry out on their own. Some will leave the wall open (such as after a plumber has cut out some drywall to repair the leak) to 'air it out' so it can dry. Is that really the wise course of action? No it is not.
The reason is that you really don't know how much moisture is there and were it has gone to. Keep in mind that mold starts to grow about 24 hours after getting a water source. So the longer the moisture is there trying......to dry out, then mold will continue to grow for that period of time. Let's say it hypothetically takes 2 weeks for the area to dry. At that point mold can be said to have been growing for almost the same amount of time.
Mold starts out microscopic (from 2 to 100 microns) so you can't see it until the growth accumulates to a certain extent. Just because you don't see any mold does not mean it is not there. There are mold spores in the air we breath all the time. And especially in newly opened walls where a repair has been made there area already mold spores present from when the house or building was built. Once the wall is opened up these spores now are released into the living area of the home or office even though you can't see them. Too many mold spores can cause breathing and other health problems depending on the person's immune system and the type of mold spore, mold or even mycotoxin they are exposed to.
So the point I am trying to make is that you just can't leave to chance an area to dry on its own. Have a professional like my company or another evaluate the situation and listen to their recommendations to address the situation. What about the potential costs of this scenario. We'll talk about how to deal with that next time within the next two weeks.
California Senate Bill No. 655 was passed October 9, 2015 and went into effect January 2016. While this bill says many things we will focus briefly on the obligation of the property owner to maintain the property free of dampness and mold. If any area of the property you rent is 'damp' or 'wet' then you need to make your landlord aware of it. This way they have the opportunity to take the needed action. If you don't notify them in a timely fashion, depending on how wet things are, then the landlord cannot be held liable for the property being wet or mold growing as a result. You would not be able to collect 'damages' from the owner in that case. Of course, you may want to consult legal counsel on this as needed.
Once you inform the owner and no action is forth coming on his/her part then you have the right to take necessary action to correct the problem that poses a threat to you or your families health. A code enforcement officer or health officer can enforce compliance from the owner on the matter of active moisture or leaks. Some renters are able to 'repair' the situation and then send the invoice to the owner and take it off of their rent but you are only allowed to do this twice in a year. And in this context we are talking about situations that pose a risk to the health and welfare of your family and property.
I have performed many inspections for tenants that had large amounts of moisture or dampness in their unit that was not being addressed by the owner properly, if at all. In a case like that talking with the building department of the city you live in and specifically with a code enforcement officer can help get things rolling to force owner compliance on matters like this especially if you are not in a position to pay for it yourself and then take it off the rent. Be sure to look up 'renter's rights in California' pdf which has valuable information on these issues and more specifically on pages 47 to 52.
Contacting the Fair Housing Foundation for the area in which you live can provide valuable information and insight as to how to address such issues with your landlord. Within 1 to 2 days you will have good information you can use to deal with this type of situation and start the ball rolling to getting things corrected.
In an era where many of us are following online tutorials to make our home improvement dreams come true, it’s important to know when a DIY will turn into a living nightmare. Unless you’re a professional, you can run into a heap of trouble, risking your home, health, and safety. Before you grab your tools and roll up your sleeves, be aware of these home improvement no-no’s.
Handling asbestos. If you own a home build prior to 1980, chances are it contains asbestos. The asbestos would be in the form of ceiling texture, siding, insulation, or adhesives. Asbestos becomes dangerous when it’s disturbed and you can breathe it in, at which point it could damage lung tissue. The experts at Redfin explain that if you do a remodel or renovation, you will need to budget for a professional to handle asbestos remediation.
Removing mold. Homeowners are sometimes confused about mold, since most of us remove mold in places like bathrooms on a routine basis. However it’s important to understand some forms of mold are dangerous for you to remove yourself. According to HouseLogic, mold spores found growing on studs, drywall, or subflooring could be hazardous, and you should hire a professional to manage the removal.
Plumbing. Leaking showers and dishwasher installations indicate you should call a plumber. Any time you feel pipes need to be disassembled or assembled, some experts warn you are in over your head. Pipes are actually complex and require specialized expertise, so don’t DIY plumbing-related projects.
Wall removal. Open floor plans are all the rage, but you better think twice before tearing out a wall. If the wall is load-bearing, removing it could cause your ceiling to collapse and potentially endanger you and other members of the household.
Roof repairs. Replacing a few shingles or fixing a leaky roof may not sound like a big deal, but if you don’t do it correctly you can exacerbate your problem. Roof leaks and repairs are more complicated than they seem, and you need to be able to accurately locate where damage occurred in order to fix it properly. Besides, lots of homeowners fall off roofs in an attempt to save a few bucks. Call in a contractor before creating more headaches or a trip to the emergency room.
Electrical issues. If you don’t handle electricity properly, you risk a house fire or electrocuting yourself. Unless you have necessary skill and knowledge, you shouldn’t install your own light fixtures. Even more dangerous is tampering with your electrical panel. As HGTV explains, repairing or changing your electrical panel is not only hazardous, it requires a special permit. Hire a certified electrician to navigate electrical additions and repairs.
Waterproofing a foundation. Wet basements are difficult and costly to fix, so sometimes homeowners try to save money doing the work themselves. However the job is a major undertaking, involving removing the soil around your home’s foundation and installing a special membrane and drainage tiles, and sometimes a sump pump is required. This isn’t a job to skimp on; look for a waterproofing contractor that offers a 15- to 25-year warranty on the work.
Tree removal. Working on trees is hazardous in many ways. Climbing can leave you open to a dangerous fall, decaying trees can crumble unexpectedly, and limbs can fall on people or structures nearby, so some professionals recommend hiring a tree removal service instead of attempting the work yourself.
Don’t DIY. You may enjoy doing certain home improvements yourself, but it’s vital not to get in over your head. When the job exceeds your ability and knowledge, you can create more problems or risk health and safety. Recognize your limits and know when to call in a pro.
Mold spores range in size from about 2 to 100 microns with most being in the 2 to 20 micron range. To put this into perspective 1 inch = 25,400 microns. Mold spores are what germinate or grow actual mold once these get a water source. And it stands to reason that when mold first starts to grow you cannot see it with the naked eye.
Why this is important:
Mold spores are, for the most part, everywhere and originate outside. When a house is built many mold spores are trapped inside the walls. When water or moisture penetrates the wall then mold Will Grow!
Whether a person sees visible mold when the wall is open or not there will be mold because science says that within about 24 hours of getting water to these mold spores mold starts to grow.
The reason I emphatically point this out is because most people are not aware of this fact and if a wall is opened in your home for any reason mold spores will be released into the common air of that room and the home. In most situations this will not even be noticed except some of the symptoms of exposure to excess mold spores or the wrong type of mold spores depending on the immune system of the person being exposed. This can range from no noticeable symptoms to mild allergic reactions and even to extreme health symptoms that can make breathing more difficult and more.
In a recent inspection moisture was found in the ceiling and walls of a home as a result of a air conditioning condensation line leaking for an unknown period of time but likely several weeks. When the company removed the wet drywall of the affected areas no Visible Mold was found and informed the owner of such. However, this was misleading since when air samples were taken in the area (under containment) there was an excessive amount of mold spores in the area, specifically Aspergillis/penicillium in the 8,000 count range. This happened because the company performing the remediation work did not seal the opened wall cavities which allowed 'extra' mold spores to enter the contained area and eventually the home when a containment breach occurred by accident. Subsequently more work had to be done.
So please keep in mind, especially if you have health concerns or conditions, that when walls are opened for any reason you can be exposed to excess mold spores for this reason and you should take precautions. Downloading my Special Report on this site at
http://www.ocmolddetection.com/landing.html will help you to know what precautions to take.
HBecause so many people rent now since the 2008 financial melt down it is important to understand what you are legally allowed to do as a renter in taking necessary action when your landlord is not available or cannot be reached. You can Google renter's rights and you will find a pdf that is authored by the California Department of Consumer Affairs which helps you understand what rights and responsibilities you as a renter and landlord have. I normally will reference pages 47 to 52 which covers items that are of necessity that a tenant can do in certain situations.
For Example: Let's say it is Saturday night and a pipe bursts in your property and the home is getting wet and flooded as a result. You do need to call your landlord and inform them so they can take appropriate action. But what if they are gone for the weekend or don't answer the phone? After leaving a message you then need to take necessary action to protect your family and home you are renting. Because of this being a safety concern the renter's rights document indicates you can do what is needed and basically take it off your rent. That means hiring an appropriate professional to take care of the immediate problem whether it be a plumber, water damage restoration company, mold inspections and many others. However, I was recently informed by legal counsel myself that 'repair and deduct' expenses cannot be more than the rent itself. This may well be different if the landlord authorizes further work for you to handle. In this case we are referring to something of immediate concern and the landlord is not available.
This is not to say you have a blank check to do what you want. Do what is needed that can be reasonable justified per the renter's rights of California. Of course many landlords will not necessarily like this but they principally have to allow for it if they are not available to handle the situation or fail to take the needed action in a timely manner. You, as a renter, want to familiarize yourself with this document especially the pages mentioned. You will find that many times the landlord is not aware of these rights you have and will need to educate them on these by showing them the document and pointing out the items of concern.
If you have legal concerns or questions then click on the link on the main page of this sight for LegalShield which can provide needed and valuable legal advice, consultations and more.
What are Clearance Inspections? These are inspections done to ensure the work just completed, such as a mold remediation or category 3 water mitigation, has been done properly and the area is free of mold and/or the bad bacteria associated with category 3 water. (Category 3 water is water from any drain because of the bad bacteria and other contaminants that are present. I will use the phrase 'toilet water' when talking to clients to put it in proper perspective.)
When a mold remediation is performed sometimes a company (or its technicians) can get lax in following proper protocol when performing work. If a company knows you are not going to get a Clearance Inspection they may well not perform the work as well as it could or should be done. I have performed recent Post Mold Remediation Clearance Inspections where the company knew this inspection was taking place and it still failed inspection due to some missed preparation on their part.
Both types of inspections will involve verifying the areas are dry, visually acceptable and various types of samples are taken to ensure the bacteria is gone and/or the mold spore levels are within industry guidelines. A written report is prepared of the inspection documenting all related items and giving it a thumbs up or thumbs down. So help keep your family safe and have these Clearance Inspections performed.
Because of having several leaks in their home during recent years I was hired to do an inspection for potential moisture and mold issues. This happened to be done during a re-piping by a plumbing company which involved removing drywall from several ceilings and walls to accomplish the work. As a result this exposed wood members in the wall and ceilings with visible mold in many areas. Surface samples confirmed the presence of mold. Fortunately the family was staying elsewhere during this work.
The Basic Problem: How do you protect your family when work like this results in exposing the home to mold and thus the family? From a liability standpoint this is the responsibility of the contractor performing the work. However, most contractors doing this type of work rarely think about the work they do exposing a family to mold. And most people don't necessarily think much about it either. To a large extent this is realistically a scenario that has not been addressed in the general construction industry. Not to mention most contractors have no training to keep from exposing a family to mold in these situations.
The Solution: Because of contractors in general have no real knowledge of or training in protecting people from mold the home owner or tenant will have to bring the issue up prior to any work being done. It really should be done in the hiring or contract negotiation stage. It likely will involve having at least 2 contractors and one consultant (meaning someone who can write a protocol to follow to protect the family from mold exposure; this can be someone certified in Industrial Hygiene Management, an industrial hygienist or microbial consultant), one that does the work of re-piping (as the example in the opening paragraph shows) and one contractor has been trained or certified in following the protocol that will be written for that particular project.
An example of what a protocol may involve in this type of scenario could be:
1. Set up plastic containment for all work areas where the drywall will be opened so as to keep possible mold spores contained in that area.
2. Have an air scrubber (air filtration machine with a hepa filter) available to run when apparent mold is encountered to continually clean the air of mold spores.
3. When apparent mold is encountered the workers would then follow OSHA requirements of wearing PPE.
4. The persons living in the home may vacate while the work is being done.
The above is only outlining some possible protocol steps and is not to be taken as a standard procedure for all to follow.
Of course these additional steps will cost more to do and increase the overall project costs for a typical re-piping or other similar projects. This will also add to the time it takes to complete the project. If you are serious about protecting your family from mold exposure like the example above then it is important to talk with your contractor before hand to insist that appropriate precautions be taken.
My company, or myself, is available to write the needed protocol for you home or office project.
Many times when a person discovers a leak in their home and a plumber will come out and repair the problem. In the process a wall is often opened up to repair the leaky pipe. The owner may then ask the plumber, 'did you see any mold?' or 'should we do anything else?'. And many time the plumber may say 'I did not see any mold' or 'just let it dry for a couple of days and it will be fine' leaving the interior of the wall exposed. This situation is not a good one.
Let me explain. When a leak occurs by the time the owner notices the problem likely a significant amount of building materials have gotten wet such as drywall, wood sill plates, wood studs, baseboard and so on. However, this not always noticed by the naked eye and wetness or moisture will likely be present for days if not weeks and months to come and mold will start growing (within about a day or so) if the area is not dried quickly with the right equipment.
Keep this in mind; most plumbers as well as Handy Men (and just about all other tradesmen) have not been trained or certified in water mitigation (or water damage) and mold remediation (normally referred to as applied microbial remediation) which also includes category 3 water (that is water from a drain or 'toilet') also called 'black water'. As a result cannot properly advise you of what you should do. Some plumbers, though, have learned from water mitigation companies a thing or two and some even carry a moisture meter so they can at least advise the owner to take additional action. Many even refer a water mitigation company that they network with.
The point I am wanting to make is that you need a professional who has been trained to be able to assess the area in question after discovering a leak and can properly advise you. Of course, that is what I, or my company, does. You want someone who will put in writing what needs to be done, if anything, so you and your family are protected health wise and property wise.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.