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FAQ about Mold Damage

1/10/2023 (Permalink)

Black spots of mold on a white wall Mold found behind a dresser in a Santa Barbara, CA apartment

Mold is a microscopic fungus that grows in places that are damp and dark. Whether you're an expert or new to the world of mold, this FAQ will answer your questions about how it grows, how to prevent it and what you can do if you have a problem with mold.

What is Mold?

Mold is a fungus that grows in damp places with poor ventilation. The spores (tiny fruiting bodies) of the mold spread throughout the air and can be carried by the wind. Mold requires food and moisture to grow, so it is most likely found where water has been present for some time, such as basements or crawl spaces where there has been flooding or leaky roofs.

There are many different types of mold that can grow indoors, some common types include: Aspergillus niger (black mold), Cladosporium cladosporioides (environmentally friendly), Penicillium chrysogenum (yellowish-green mottled with white), Stachybotrys chartarum (greenish black).

Where Does Mold Grow?

Mold can grow in any damp place—including your home, workplace and vehicle. Mold is a fungus that grows on surfaces where it finds moisture. The type of mold that you see will depend on the material it’s growing on and its location:

  • On porous materials like wood, paper or drywall, molds produce spores that spread through the air when disturbed.
  • In warm and humid environments like showers or bathrooms, mold will grow quickly on moist surfaces such as grout lines between tiles or under wallpaper due to high humidity levels there.
  • On foods (such as bread) that have been exposed to moisture for long periods of time without refrigeration.

Is Mold Common Indoors?

Mold is everywhere, but not all mold is harmful. For example, you can find some molds growing on your food in the refrigerator or inside of cardboard boxes. However, when it comes to indoor buildings and homes, there’s a difference between harmless molds and those that could cause major issues, like property damage.

Mold can grow indoors in areas with high humidity or moisture like bathrooms and kitchens because these rooms tend to have less ventilation than other parts of the house. If these areas become too moist over time due to leaks or condensation buildup from appliances like air conditioners then you may have an issue with mold growth on surfaces such as drywall, wood beams/joists/flooring etc.

Will Opening the Windows and Doors Help When I am Cleaning up Mold in my Home or Business?

No, opening the windows and doors will not help. The spores are still in the air, and they can still grow on other surfaces.

Mold can continue to grow for up to 2 weeks after you've cleaned it or removed it from your home or business. You may think that if you open up all of the windows and doors, then you'll be able to remove some of those mold spores from your house—but this is not true! Mold grows best in dark areas with high humidity levels, so it'll just continue to grow elsewhere inside until you're able to fix all of those issues.

If you have a lot of debris built up around your home (like leaves or grass clippings), make sure that they're removed before cleaning any water damage caused by flooding so that there aren't any more places where mold could start growing again.

Doesn't Bleach Kill Mold?

If you've ever owned a house or apartment, you've probably heard about bleach as a solution for mold. However, it's important to understand that bleach is only effective at killing bacteria and viruses—it doesn't kill mold. In fact, some experts say that using bleach to clean up after a mold problem can actually make things worse because it damages your home's structure.

Do I Need to Have my Home Tested for Mold Before I Clean up a Minor Mold Problem?

If you're just cleaning up a small area of mold growth, you don't need to test for mold. However, if the affected area is 10 square feet or greater, we recommend testing for mold before removing it. This will ensure that you're taking all proper precautions to avoid ingesting any harmful toxins and prevent the spread of spores throughout your home.

How Do I Clean up a Small Area of Mold Growth (Less Than 10 Square Feet)?

If you have a small amount of mold growth in your home, use a HEPA filtered vacuum to remove the spores. Be sure to clean the area with soap and water, then dry it well with a fan or hair dryer. If you need to remove some of the moldy area from walls or other surfaces, use a utility knife carefully so as not to damage any existing wallpaper or paint on those surfaces.

Getting Rid of and Preventing Future Mold Problems

To prevent a mold problem from recurring, you must take action to fix the source of moisture that caused it in the first place. There are several ways to do this:

  • Remove all porous materials from the area and replace them with non-porous ones, such as vinyl or linoleum.
  • Repair any leaks in your home's foundation, roof or walls so that moisture cannot enter anymore.
  • If you have an appliance that uses water (such as a dishwasher), make sure there is adequate ventilation for air circulation around it so that humidity levels aren't too high inside your home at all times.

You can also try using a dehumidifier if needed to keep humidity levels low in areas where mold appears often or stays long after cleanups are complete. In addition to cleaning up after any mold growth has occurred and preventing further damage by removing its causes once again, keep windows open whenever possible during warm weather months across entire house so fresh air can circulate throughout interior spaces. In order ensure success when dealing with moldy spots on items like floorboards wool carpets etc., use products containing bleach.

If you discover mold in your Santa Barbara, CA home, start by contacting a professional for help. Mold can be a large problem, so it’s important to have it professionally removed if possible.

Steps to Create a Defensible Space In Preparation For a Wildfire

12/9/2022 (Permalink)

firefighters battle a blaze Defensible space is also important for the protection of the firefighters

How to Prepare for a Wildfire by Creating a Defensible Space

Wildfires are an unfortunate fact of life in many parts of the United States. While it's impossible to predict when or where these fires will occur, you can take steps to prepare your home for potential danger and make sure that your family is safe during this time.

In this article, we'll cover what you need to do before a wildfire strikes so that you're ready for whatever happens next. We'll also discuss how to create a defensible space around your house so that if one does ignite near your home, there's less chance that it will damage or destroy your property.

Create a space that is clear of flammable plants and other debris.

Maintain a 30-foot zone of bare ground around your home. Remove dead leaves, branches, and other flammable materials from your yard. Keep trees and shrubs trimmed to 10 feet from the house, so that fire can’t jump from them to the roof (or vice versa). Also keep grass short by mowing regularly – a good rule of thumb is to keep your grass around three inches high. 

Inspect chimneys for proper clearance from the roofline, eaves, or walls of your house. Chimney fires are common causes of structure fires during wildfires because they can quickly spread through attics if not properly maintained and inspected every year.

Review your insurance plan or speak with your insurance agent to make sure your home is covered in the event of fire.

If you have a homeowner's insurance policy, go over it to make sure that you have enough coverage for:

  • Your home and its contents
  • Any pets or livestock (farm animals) on the property

Review your landscape to identify potential hazards.

  • Identify areas of high fire risk.
  • Identify areas that are not easily accessible when in a fire, such as steep slopes and areas with limited access.
  • Identify areas where you can't see the fire, such as a canyon or valley.

These are all things to consider when planning your defensible space.

Remove dead leaves and debris from rain gutters and roofs.

The best way to prevent a fire is to have your roofing system inspected and maintained on a regular basis. We recommend having your roof inspected every year, especially if you’re in an area that has high fire danger or where wildfires are common.

Clean out dry brush and weeds growing under decks and along fences.

  • Clean out dead leaves and debris from rain gutters and roofs.
  • Remove any shrubs, trees or other vegetation that could cause a fire to spread quickly.

When landscaping, select plant species that are fire resistant or have a high moisture content.

When landscaping your home, it is important to select plant species that are fire resistant or have a high moisture content (such as palm). This will help prevent wildfires from spreading from the ground up. You can also find online resources for tips on building a safe space around your home for this purpose.

In addition to landscaping, you should be sure that there is no flammable vegetation or debris on your property. This includes dead trees and dead or dry grasses.

Conclusion

A defensible space is an important defense against the spread of fire. By taking these steps, you can protect your home and loved ones from harm in the event of a wildfire, as well as reduce property damage.

Water Mitigation Procedures

11/7/2022 (Permalink)

three fans placed on kitchen after water damage Water damage in a Santa Barbara home

The Water Mitigation Process

Water damage can be a serious issue, especially if it happens to your Santa Barbara, California home. The problem is that water has a knack for making everything it comes into contact with wet and soggy. This includes drywall, insulation, flooring, furniture, and even clothing. So if you've experienced flooding in your house or business due to something like a burst pipe or toilet overflow, then it's time to take action!

Clean Up the Water

The first step is to clean up water, you'll want to remove as much of it as possible. Use wet/dry vacuums with a pump or a shop vac to suck out excess water, removing it by hose or vacuum lines. For particularly stubborn areas of standing water, you can use buckets and mops to soak up excess moisture as well.

Dehumidify the Space

The next thing you will want to consider is how to dehumidify the space. Use a dehumidifier to reduce excess moisture in your home, which can lead to mold growth. If you don’t have a dehumidifier, turn on your fans and open windows in every room of your house to get rid of excess moisture.

Remove wet clothes, towels, and bedding from the home immediately. After floodwaters recede, remove wet carpets or rugs as soon as possible—even if you plan to clean them later. This is because carpeting acts like sponges that soak up moisture from floors or subfloors; once saturated with water, these materials can take weeks to dry out completely and even then may still harbor mildew or mold growth when exposed to heat sources like vents or radiators.

Disinfect and Sanitize 

The third step is to disinfect and sanitize appliances and any parts of the home that have been in contact with the water. Use a disinfectant to clean all items, including countertops and floors (following the manufacturer's instructions). Sanitize with a bleach solution of 1/4 cup bleach per gallon (2 liters) of cold water. Soak for 10 minutes. Rinse thoroughly after soaking as described above. Dry with a clean cloth if you do not want a residue on your appliance or floor surfaces. Disinfect/sanitize again if needed. If you need to remove mold from walls, ceiling tiles or other parts of the home make sure they are dry before beginning this process. If possible, identifying areas where mold has developed will help determine what materials might be affected by mold growth: wood, fiberglass insulation, fiberglass siding etc. When you have mold growth, it’s always a good idea to call a professional like SERVPRO of Santa Barbara to remediate the mold.

Repair or Replace Damaged Materials

Whether you’re looking to repair or replace wet building materials, furniture, and personal belongings, there are several steps you should take:

  • Replace any damaged items. If the item is beyond repair and no longer usable, then it needs to be replaced. Damaged items can include carpeting, hardwood floors, drywall, plaster, and molding. 
  • Clean and sanitize any items that are salvageable. If the item has not been contaminated with mold or mildew (and there is hope for cleaning) then clean it thoroughly with a disinfectant cleaner (such as Lysol). Do not use bleach or ammonia-based cleaners because they may cause further damage if left in contact with wood surfaces for an extended period of time.

Monitor the Drying Process

It is important to monitor the drying process for a few days after the cleanup is complete to ensure everything is fully dry. If you don’t, mold can grow. You should check for mold every few days over the course of at least one week or until you’re sure it has dried out completely.

Act Quickly

Water damage can quickly spiral out of control, so it's important to take steps to fix it as soon as possible. Water damage that is left untreated can lead to structural damage and mold growth—both of which can be expensive to fix.

Water is an incredible force of nature, but it can also lead to costly damage if not handled properly. Our experts are here to help you clean up your Santa Barbara home or business after a flood or other water-related disaster, so don't hesitate to call us with any questions.

Basic First Aid for Burns

10/1/2022 (Permalink)

First Aid Training - Burn injury. First aid course. The first step in treating a burn is to stop the burning process.

Basic First Aid for Burns

The first aid for burns is to stop the burning process, remove clothing and jewelry from the affected area, keep burned skin under cool (not ice cold) running water or apply a compress until medical help arrives. Do not use ice, which can cause further tissue damage. Avoid breaking blisters, which help your skin heal and prevent infection.

Stop the Burning Process

The first step in treating a burn is to stop the burning process. To do this, you need to put out the fire by covering it with clothing, sand, or a blanket. If you don’t have anything to use for this purpose, try rolling on the ground and smothering it with your body weight until help arrives.

If clothes are stuck to your skin after having been burned by something hot like an oven or stovetop burner (or if they have melted onto your skin), remove them carefully without causing further damage. You should also remove any jewelry from the affected area so that it doesn’t get caught under bandages later on. This can be done by cutting off pieces that are stuck together using scissors or tweezers (if possible).

Cool the Burned Skin Down

While waiting for help to arrive, keep burned skin under cool (not ice cold) running water or apply a cold compress – such as a clean towel or sheet– until medical help arrives. Do not use ice, which can cause further tissue damage.

Do not apply bandages or creams unless instructed by emergency medical personnel; doing so could make matters worse if they become infected later on. And never rub the burned area: this will only increase circulation and worsen symptoms while increasing pain levels significantly

Avoid Breaking Blisters, Which Help Your Skin Heal and Prevent Infection 

The first thing to do is avoid breaking blisters, which are a natural part of the healing process. If the blisters are not infected, they should be left intact.

It is important to cleanse the wound and then cover it with a dressing.

This is a quick guide to aid someone who is burned, do not use this as a substitute for proper medical care from a qualified professional. If you have any questions or concerns, contact your doctor. This is not a comprehensive guide, only a basic first aid guide.

If you suspect that someone has been burned, the first thing to do is remove them from the source of their burn immediately. 

Flooded? Don't Let Mold Take Hold

8/29/2022 (Permalink)

Thermal Imaging Camera Infrared cameras can find water in unexpected places

Flooded? Keep Mold From Taking Root

Storm flooding can occur in Santa Barbara, CA, without much warning. It is crucial to act quickly to clean up flood water in order to prevent mold growth. Even small amounts of moisture can allow mold to grow, so it is important to get help from an experienced professional who will assess the extent of water damage, remove the water, and ensure that affected materials are completely dry.

1. Assessing the Damage

Water damage may be apparent, but moisture is often invisible. If you don't address excess moisture levels quickly following a flood, you risk needing mold removal down the line.
An experienced storm damage restoration specialist has the knowledge and equipment necessary to detect water levels in porous building materials where moisture can hide. He or she can restore your house to its pre-flood condition, whether that means drying or replacing the material.

2. Extracting the Water

Any area that has flooded can have water removal challenges. Specialized machinery may be needed to remove standing water and extract it from carpets, furniture, and walls. Such equipment may include submersible pumps and powerful wet/dry vacuums. These machines generally will be able to remove most, but not all, of the flood water from your home. At this point, there is still an opportunity for mold growth until moisture has been reduced to acceptable levels.

3. Eliminating the Moisture

To eliminate excess moisture, you'll need a professional to detect where it remains and equipment to dry it. Moisture detectors such as hygrometers and infrared cameras can find water in unexpected places, such as behind walls and underneath carpet. Dehumidifiers and industrial fans help extract moisture from materials and move it out of the building. Moisture levels should be rechecked until they have reached levels low enough to inhibit mold.

Act quickly to ensure that you prevent mold growth following a flood. An experienced professional can help you to assess the extent of water damage, extract the water, and ensure that all moisture has been properly dried.

7 Tips for Preventing a Space Heater Fire

8/20/2022 (Permalink)

Space heater A burned space heater can lead to disastrous results.

Seven Ways to Avoid a Space Heater Fire

A space heater is an excellent appliance to have when you need extra warmth to take the chill off or if your Goleta, CA, home's furnace goes out. However, the chance of a burned space heater is always a possibility when you're using one, so safety is essential.  

1. Prepare a Fire and Smoke Cleanup Plan
There are never guarantees when you have a space heater in your home, so you should create a fire preparation plan and share it with your family. Include the phone number of fire damage restoration professionals so that you can call them quickly in an emergency. 

2. Ensure It Has Automatic Safety Features
Make sure the unit has an automatic shutoff feature. Many heaters will power off automatically if they begin overheating or tipping over. Some also have timers.

3. Give It Space
Put at least three feet between your space heater and other objects. There are many flammable objects in a home, such as curtains, bedsheets, upholstered furniture, stuffed toys and aerosol cans.

4. Place It on a Solid Surface
Place the space heater on a stable, solid surface so it won't tip over. Also, make sure it's not on the edge where someone could accidentally knock it off.

5. Don't Leave It Unattended
Many space heater fires happen when they are left unattended. These fires can have devastating consequences because the burned space heater won't be noticed immediately. Shut the appliance off when leaving the room or going to sleep. 

6. Keep It Out of High Traffic Areas
Don't place the space heater in a high traffic area. Also, keep the unit out of reach of children and pets. 

7. Unplug It After Each Use
Unplug your space heater when you're not using it. Also, inspect the power cord and unit itself regularly for damage. 
A burned space heater can lead to disastrous results. Practice these tips to keep your family and home safe while keeping them warm. 

3 Ways To Protect Yourself as a Flood First Responder

8/15/2022 (Permalink)

N-95 Mask An N-95 respirator provides the best protection if you find mold growing in flooded areas

First Responders To a Flood: Three Ways To Safeguard Yourself

With historic flooding occurring across the United States in the past few years, the role of the first responder has become more essential than ever before. As one of the first to arrive on scene at disaster sites in Santa Ynez, CA, your help as a specially trained responder can often mean the difference between life and death for those trapped by floodwaters. In order to help others, it is important for you to take precautions to protect yourself before you even reach the disaster scene. Here are three ways to shield yourself in those challenging initial responder situations.

1. Update Vaccinations
Before heading out to a flood response disaster, make sure you are up to date on your immunizations. Tetanus shots are required every 10 years and usually contain diphtheria and pertussis protection. Another protective vaccine that is often required is Hepatitis B.

2. Beware of Possible Hazards
Depending on how long the floodwaters have been on the ground and what category of water you are working in, there are some hazards you may face as a first responder. Wearing an N-95 mask can help protect you from mold that can begin growing in flooded areas in as soon as 24 hours. Also, be careful of chemicals, sinkholes, and disaster-related sharp objects.

3. Protect Yourself
As an initial responder, wearing protective clothing can help guard you from chemicals, fecal matter, and other pollutants in the floodwaters. The clothing should include boots, gloves, eye goggles, and an approved outer protective suit.
Whether the flood is of epic proportions or the result of a broken levy that floods a handful of homes, your role as a first responder can be a heroic one. If you have questions about how best to protect yourself or about the different categories of floodwaters you may be called to work in, contact a water and mold remediation specialist for information to help protect yourself.

3 Things To Inspect in Your Irrigation System Before Turning It On in Spring

7/29/2022 (Permalink)

Irrigation system Doing regular irrigation maintenance can help extend the life of your system

Three Things To Check In Your Irrigation System

Just as you did irrigation maintenance before turning your system off for the winter, you need to do that again before turning the system on in the spring. Not taking the time to check each part of the system could lead to flooding in your Santa Barbara, CA, business, and thousands lost in revenue and costs for water damage restoration services to repair the destruction from the flooding. Here are three things to check in your irrigation system.

1. Check the Forecast
It's normal to get warmer days, while the nights stay close to or below freezing. Check the extended forecast before assuming that the temperatures are acceptable and turning your irrigation system back on. Turning the system on when there is still a chance of freezing temperatures could mean that your irrigation pipes freeze and burst, causing your business to flood.

2. Look for Potential of Sprinkler Flooding
Even if recessed into the ground, sprinkler heads can still be easily disturbed or damaged in the winter months. When doing the irrigation maintenance, remove each sprinkler head and check it for any cracked or missing parts. Pull the sprayer out of the sprinkler head and thoroughly inspect that as well. Replace all heads that have any issues. When you reattach the sprinkler heads, make sure you don't overtighten them.

3. Run Each Zone Separately
When you turn the main water on, make sure you do it slowly to ensure you don't overwhelm the pipes. Then, turn on each sprinkler system zone one by one and allow them to run for a few minutes while you look for potential issues. Adjust the sprinkler heads to ensure they're spraying where you want them, and check around them for leaks. After you have checked each zone, schedule the system to turn on as you desire.
While it can take some time and work, doing regular irrigation maintenance can help extend the life of your system and keep your commercial property looking great all year long.

Stay Safe After a Flood

7/18/2022 (Permalink)

Flooded homes Powerful storms that flood your home can be very distressing

How To Avoid Danger After a Flood

If you have a flooded home after a storm, the most important thing that you can do for yourself and your loved ones is stay safe. Here are some tips on what not to do, and how to avoid danger after flood water takes over your Goleta, CA, home.

1. Never approach standing water in your home. Underground power lines and other power issues could cause this water to be electrically charged. Avoid it and do not stand in it under any circumstances.

2. Don’t forget your cell phone charger. If you can find somewhere that is safe and secure to charge your phone, keep it powered up and charged for as long as you can. If you cannot find or plug in a charger, use the device as little as possible to preserve battery life. Remember to never plug your phone in near water.

3. Do not skimp on your protective gear. Always wear knee-high boots made of rubber and sturdy gloves to protect yourself from electrical currents and contaminated flood water - the more coverage you can find for your body, the better.

4. Never take cleanup matters into your own hands. A flooding home and related damage can be a lot to deal with as a homeowner, but you should never attempt cleaning or renovation projects on your own. Wait until the chaos dies down, then contact a local water damage restoration service for professional help with mold growth, structural damage, and other flood-related issues.

Powerful storms that flood your home can be very distressing, especially when your property and safety are at stake. Be as careful as you can be and waiting for professional help whenever possible are your best bets for staying safe and protecting your home. Flood water is not a joke, so finding the best help you can for post-storm cleanup should be your first priority after all the commotion has died down.

Finding the Best Commercial Property Coverage

7/2/2022 (Permalink)

Man holding a paper with a pen, paper says insurance It is important to find comprehensive insurance coverage for your property.

As a business owner, you understand the importance of finding comprehensive insurance coverage for your property. Making the right choice when selecting a plan can seem daunting, however. It's a good idea to discuss all available options with your insurance agent to ensure you are covered if an emergency occurs.

Commercial Insurance Considerations

There are many issues to consider when selecting your property insurance plan. Make sure your package includes coverage for the following damages:

Property Repairs and Renovations - If your property is damaged due to a covered peril, such as a fire, or because of vandalism or theft, the cost of renovations would be covered after your deductible is met. This would include the removal of smoke and fire damage after a devastating fire.
Business Equipment Replacement - Machinery, furniture, office equipment and other electronics would be covered in a commercial insurance plan. This could also include any employee belongings that have been lost or damaged.
Business Documents - Office documents, including both paper and electronic copies, must be included in the coverage. 
Business Interruption Protection - This coverage is typically a separate package, but can be included in the comprehensive plan. It would pay for the cost of relocating and would cover expenses in the interim. 

Finding the Best Insurance Fit
Many commercial insurance companies have specialties. Some are more experienced with small businesses and some with large corporations. Make sure your insurer has a good understanding of the type of risks faced by your specific industry so that they can offer you the best comprehensive coverage.
Your insurance company should also give you advice on trusted commercial restoration services in Santa Ynez, CA. Making your selection in advance will help to reduce the damage and loss that occur during a fire or other devastating event.
Prepare your business in advance of unexpected incidents with an inclusive property insurance package.