Recent Mold Remediation Posts

Preventing mold growth in your Chicago home

5/20/2021 (Permalink)

Mold can grow quickly and get out of hand in a hurry if not mitigated properly.

Stealing one of my favorite lines from "Carnac the Magnificent" from the old Tonight Show with Johnny Carson:  Q: How to prevent shark bites? A: Never leave Omaha.

The only true way you can prevent mold from growing inside your home is to live in a kiln-dried structure, or have everything made out of glass.  Other than that, you risk having mold growth.

But, there are ways you can keep that risk low:

  • Dry wet areas quickly.  Organic material (drywall, paper, cardboard, wood) that becomes wet, can eventually harbor mold unless it is dried quickly and thoroughly.
  • Make sure you have adequate ventilation.  If the weather outdoors is pleasant, open doors and windows to allow trapped inside air to escape, to be replaced by the outside air.  Open inside doors, closets, and drawers to encourage air transferring from room to room.
  • Monitor indoor humidity.  In winter, some people run humidifiers to add moisture into a room (heating a room causes the air to dry).  If there is condensation on the windows, there is too much humidity already.  Also, ensure that the exhaust fan is running in the bathroom when taking showers.
  • Check outside influences.  Make sure that the roof is in good order.  Gutters and downspouts are not clogged or broken, where water can emerge in unintended areas.  Also, check for low spots near the foundation where water can accumulate; make sure the grade runs AWAY from the house.

If you suspect mold in your home, call the mitigation experts at SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank at 708-430-3600.

What does mold eat?

8/10/2020 (Permalink)

Lots of mold in this room, but its not attacking everything.

Mold will eat any organic items, items in your home, such as:  drywall, cardboard, insulation, wood, and paper.  Mold cannot consume materials such as: concrete, plastic, steel, or glass.

Mold spores are everywhere, floating around until it encounters moist organic material.  Once it does, it will root in and begin to consume.  As long as there's a food source and moisture, mold will continue unchecked.

In the picture below, you see that mold has attacked the drywall behind the wash machine.  This room was from a closed house, and had very high humidity in it for a long period of time.  But, the mold has not rooted in to the plastic covering near the pipes, the metal wash machine itself, nor the glass container or even the counter top.  Though there was plenty of moisture available, these items are not organic.

If you see mold in your home, don't panic!  Simply call the mold experts at SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank at 708-430-3600 to schedule an inspection.

I've dried the structure; will mold go away?

3/27/2019 (Permalink)

Moldy spots on the wall, but how much is hidden inside the wall cavity?

So, you've had a water damage.  Your walls got wet, perhaps some carpet as well.  A couple days pass, and you notice a small amount of mold on your drywall.

The water damage was fixed, and you're pretty sure the walls are now dry.  You can still see the mold spots, but do not smell any of that musty smell you normally get when you have active mold.  Is the mold now gone?

The answer is no.  Mold does not simply go away.  

Once it has eaten into the drywall, wood, cardboard, paper, or anything organic, it will stay there until physically removed.  If the musty smell has gone away, it simply means that the mold has gone dormant.  Once the moldy areas encounter more moisture, the mold will re-energize.

And remember, there can be more mold INSIDE the wall that you can't see!

If you know someone who suffered a water loss (pipe break, roof leak, sump pump failure, etc), and you tried to dry it yourself, and now you have a possible mold issue, call the experts at SERVPRO of Bedford Park/Burbank at 708-430-3600.  We will come out, assess the situation, give you options to fit your budget, and answer all your questions.

Can I paint over mold?

1/16/2019 (Permalink)

Though it's tempting to simply paint over mold like this, the better way is to remediate it properly.

Everyone looks for the quick, easy solution.  So, after you discovered you had a water damage due to a leaky pipe, you fixed the pipe.  Unfortunately, mold started to colonize and grow where the leak was.  Now you’re wondering if you can simply paint over the mold.

If you are seeing mold on drywall, all you’re seeing is the exterior of the wall.  What about the interior wall cavity?  The framing?

Painting over the mold hides the mold, but does not eradicate nor remediate the mold.  It can trap moisture behind/under the paint, giving the existing mold more moisture to work with. 

If you just bought or rented a house, signs that someone has painted over mold in the past are:

  • Bubbled, cracked, or chipped paint.
  • Water staining has returned.
  • Signs of mold coming through the paint. Active mold can actually eat through the paint.
  • Musty smell has returned, especially on humid days.

Steps to properly remediate mold are to:

  1. Correct the water issue.
  2. Remove all moldy materials (affected drywall, for instance) where mold cannot be removed cost effectively.
  3. Dry all remaining structure thoroughly.
  4. Spray an anti-microbial to help prevent mold growth.
  5. Repair all damaged areas.

Or you can:

  1. Call SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank at 708-430-3600. We are the mold experts!

Musty smell in your Chicago home?

10/24/2018 (Permalink)

Some mold is easy to see, while there might be mold behind the walls as well.

We've all experienced it.  Go down into your basement, crawl space, or even up into the attic and you encounter a musty smell.  Some days it smells worse than others.

That smell most likely is active mold, and it is currently flourishing.  It can be out in plain sight, or it can hidden in walls, ceilings, or even under your flooring.

When mold is active, it consumes wood, paper, cardboard, or fabrics, and it is throwing off this smell.  If conditions cause the mold to go dormant (like take away moisture), little to no smell can be detected.

Mold has to be physically removed to help prevent further growth.  Cutting out affected drywall, for instance.  But care must be taken with these pieces as to not cross contaminate other areas of the home.

Call the experts at SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank.  708-430-3600.  We have the knowledge and experience necessary to help get rid of your mold problem.  We can tackle the actual mold and odors, all while protecting you and your home from further exposure.

Don't risk you or your family's health by trying to do it yourself.  Call 708-430-3600 today and schedule an inspection.  After SERVPRO is done, you'll be able to breathe a sigh of relief!

Will my air purifier prevent mold?

5/23/2018 (Permalink)

Air purifiers can help eliminate single mold spores, but will not prevent mold growth.

Air purifiers have improved in many details over the years.  They can reduce/eliminate dust particles, pollen, bacteria, as well as mold spores.

There are two types of air purifiers: Active and Passive types.  Active air purifiers use ionization to clean the air.  Passive air purifiers use filters to capture particulates traveling through the air.  There are some newer models that perform a combination of both.

Ionization occurs when the purifier creates negative ions, allowing the airborne particles to be attracted to a plate or grid, similar to static electricity.  These particulates can be cleaned off at a desired time.

Most purifiers that use filters use HEPA filters, or High Efficiency Particulate Air filters.  These filters, first designed in the 1940’s for use on the Manhattan Project, collect very tiny particles moving through the air.  How tiny?  Particles as small as .3 microns are captured by the series of filters.  To put that size in perspective:

  • A human hair is approximately 60 microns wide.
  • Mold spores range from 3-10 microns wide.
  • Red blood cells are about 5 microns wide.

Remember, mold spores are everywhere; they are on the trees, bushes, and plants outdoors, and get carried indoors each time a door or window is opened.  This also means that mold spores are trapped behind paneling, drywall, under carpets, etc inside your home.  Once excess moisture triggers those mold spores, colonies will begin to develop.

So, even though air purifiers have improved indoor air quality, it doesn’t mean it sterilizes the air completely.  If you have suffered a water damage, or have excess condensation in a particular area, mold will continue to be an issue.

If you suspect you have mold in your home or business (a musty smell could mean you have mold actively growing), call the experts at SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank at 708-430-3600 and schedule an inspection.

Ways to prevent mold growth

5/4/2018 (Permalink)

Having moisture levels in check helps prevent mold growth.

Mold is everywhere.  Mold is on the trees, bushes, and plants outside.  Mold spores use air currents to travel, so each time you open a door or window, mold spores are entering your home.

How can I prevent mold from growing in my home?  Mold primarily needs two things to grow: a food source and moisture.  Since you cannot eliminate every food source for mold to grow (drywall, paper, wood, cardboard, etc), you can work on keeping moisture in check.

Here are just a few ways you can curb moisture indoors:

  1. Check problem areas inside the home and correct them. Go through your house and identify the problem areas.  Does the basement have seepage issues?  Is there frequent condensation on upstairs windows? Are there water stains on the ceiling, and is the area getting larger? Fixing these issues may cost money upfront, but it can be far less than having mold grow unchecked in your home.
  2. Immediately dry wet areas. Having even small water damages or issues can lead to mold if not dried quickly.  “Leaving it to dry on its own” is never a good strategy.  Whether it’s drying the basement after a storm, mopping up a spill on the carpet, or drying wet clothes from the wash machine are ways to help eliminate excess moisture.
  3. Ensure your home has proper ventilation. Throw open the windows when the weather is nice outside.  Use the vents/fans when cooking, taking a shower, or doing laundry.  The more moisture that gets vented outside means there is less inside for mold to utilize to grow.
  4. Monitor indoor humidity. During the winter months, air that is heated dries out.  That is why some people use humidifiers.  But, if condensation is collecting on the windows near the humidifier, then there is an excess amount of humidity.  Refrain/reduce its use until the condensation disappears.
  5. Improve indoor air flow. To increase the air circulation inside your home, open doors between rooms, open closet doors, open dresser drawers (especially if the dresser is on an outside wall), and move large furniture away from outside walls (where possible).
  6. Check problem areas outside too. If the gutters are full of leaves and debris, rain water or snow melt may back up and cause roof damage.  And even if the gutters are clean, if the yard is pitched so that water runs back towards the house, water may find a way inside your home.  Correct the pitch so water flows away from the structure.

Remember, if you smell a musty smell, that could mean you already have active mold growing in your home.  Call the mold experts at SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank at 708-430-3600 to set up an inspection.

Mold in the attic

4/1/2018 (Permalink)

The attic is one place where mold can grow, but how often do you get up there?

Sometime during the winter, you had a roof leak.  Perhaps it’s because of missing shingles, or perhaps you had some ice damming.  Either way, water invaded your attic.  And since you were unaware of its presence, it was left to dry on its own.  But before it could dry, mold started to grow.

You had the windows and doors open for a couple of really nice Spring days, and then closed everything up when the rains came.  Once everything was closed up, you noticed a slight musty smell in the upstairs bedroom and bath.  Upon investigation, you found the culprit; mold in the attic.

The roofer came in and repaired the roof.  The roofers did a great job repairing/replacing only what was needed.  You’re convinced the roof will not leak again.

A couple of months later, that moldy, musty smell returned, especially after another rainstorm.  You check the attic area, and cannot see any obvious wet spots.  But the smell is worse there.

Even though you spent a great deal of money on the roof, you failed to get rid of the mold in the attic.  In essence, you treated the symptom and not the disease.

That musty smell means you have active mold, mold that at this minute is eating drywall, insulation, paper, cardboard, anything and everything it can.  You need to call in the mold experts.

SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank has the experience and expertise dealing with mold.  We know what can be treated and what needs to be removed.  We even have treatments that can help prevent mold from occurring again.

If you suspect mold has infiltrated your home, call us at 708-430-3600 and set up a no-obligation inspection.  You’ll be glad you did!

Preventing mold in storage areas

3/26/2018 (Permalink)

Many times there's more mold hidden behind the walls than hat you can see.

It’s time to put away the winter clothes and get out the summer gear, and get ready for some fun in the sun!  But, the storage area you put the summer clothes in now has a musty odor, and you can see some mold staining on a few of the clothes.

But, don’t make the same mistake this season, pack the winter clothes away carefully and perhaps avoid a repeat in the fall.  Here are some tips:

Don’t pack wet/damp clothes or items away.  Anything damp will not dry quickly in the confined space of a closet, attic, crawl space, or any storage area.  Ensure that everything to be packed away is completely dry.

Don’t pack items too tightly.  Air currents help prevent mold from finding a cool, damp place to hide, and then colonize.  Try to leave space in between hangers in a closet, and don’t pack plastic tubs full to near overflowing.

Keep closet/storage areas doors open (when possible).  Just like above, you need air to circulate as much as possible.  So, if you have the doors and windows open on a nice, Spring day, also open your closet doors and dresser drawers, to let the air circulate in those areas as well.

If you see mold, or smell a musty odor, do NOT ignore it.  Mold will not simply go away; it will go dormant until another shot of moisture triggers it again.  Mold can be dormant for many years.

If you think you may have a mold situation, call the experts at SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank.  We can come out and inspect the areas, and, if you do have mold, give you options on how to combat it.

Having an air test to check mold levels

1/22/2018 (Permalink)

Collecting an air sample in a room formerly affected by mold.

Sometimes in mold remediation, protocol calls for an air test after the work has been completed, to ensure mold levels inside the home or business closely match the levels outside.  If levels inside the home or business are higher than those outside, the remediation is not complete.

SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank has an independent company come in and perform the air test.  The tech will collect an air sample outside the structure, and usually do 2 inside.  The samples are then sent to a lab.  Results are generally known in a couple of days.

The tech also uses a thermal imaging camera inside the structure, to ensure all moisture has been mitigated as well I the affected areas.

Making sure the job is done, and done well, is all part of the SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank strategy!  Results you can count on!

If you think you have mold issues in your home or business, call the experts at SERVPRO.  708-430-3600.

Using containment when battling mold

10/26/2017 (Permalink)

Using containment to keep unaffected areas safe from mold and dust.

As you were putting away the seasonal clothes, and getting ready for the next season, you smelled a musty smell in the room.  Upon investigation, mold is discovered behind the drywall and on the framing.

Before tearing out the affected materials, SERVPRO Bedford Park / Burbank sets up containment to prevent the unaffected areas of your home from getting contaminated with a barrage of mold spores.  Keeping the spores contained reduces the chance of having mold spread to unaffected areas.

Containment is simply a plastic barrier that divides the areas that free from mold growth from the areas where the work will be done.  This way also, people will be able to utilize these areas without risk of ingesting an elevated amount of mold spores.

As the affected materials are removed, mold spores will fly off and drift around, looking for another easy target to settle and colonize.  SERVPRO also uses an machine to capture those loose mold spores, called an "Air Scrubber".  These machines have a series of filters that clean the air of mold spores, particulates, dust, and other debris floating around.  The air goes in contaminated, and comes out >99% clean.

SERVPRO Bedford Park / Burbank takes great care in keeping the occupants safe, and also preventing secondary damages in your home.

If you suspect you have mold in your home or business, call the experts at SERVPRO Bedford Park / Burbank (708-430-3600), and we'll come out and investigate.

How quickly does mold grow?

10/5/2017 (Permalink)

Mold is visible in this photo. But, how about INSIDE the walls?

Mold is naturally occurring.  It's primary existence is to help nature break down dead or decaying organic materials, such as leaves, trees, etc.

Mold reproduces by spreading tiny mold spores throughout the air, to be carried until it encounters a moist or wet area.  These spores are so tiny, you could fit 10-15 spores across the width of a human hair!

Some people have reactions when they encounter mold; sneezing, coughing, illness, etc.  Tom Skilling gives us a mold allergy report each night during his weather segment.

Mold will grow large enough to be spotted with the naked eye in just a couple of days, depending on the amount of moisture present.  Remember, though, that mold can also grow BEHIND walls, wallpaper, or under flooring!

As mold eats and digests the moist organic material, it will emit mycotoxins (that's the musty smell you detect on humid days in your basement or crawl space).  It's these mycotoxins that can make you sick.

Simply removing the moisture source will not kill the mold; it will simply go dormant until it is re-energized by more moisture.  Some molds can go dormant for many years.

The only true way to get rid of mold is to physically remove it.  Care must be taken as to not throw more mold spores into the air and cross-contaminating non-affected areas of your home or business.

The experts at SERVPRO Bedford Park / Burbank will set up containment as we remove affected items.  We also use machines to clean the air, capturing loose mold spores as the travel through the room.

If you suspect you have mold in your home or business, call us at 708-430-3600 and schedule an inspection.

Encountering mold in your Chicago home

5/23/2017 (Permalink)

Mold like this can also be hidden inside the walls!

Winter is finished for another year.  As you put the winter coats, hats, scarves, and gloves away, you notice a musty smell in your storage area.  And those Spring/Summer clothes you are dragging out also smell a bit musty.  What you smell is active mold!

Mold spores are floating around everywhere, indoors and out.  When they land on something they can digest (wood, drywall, paper), and encounter a bit of moisture, they start to grow and colonize.  As they eat that substance, they release toxins in the air; that's the musty smell you detected.

If you simply take away the moisture without removing the mold, the mold will simply go dormant and sit and wait for more moisture to energize again and grow.  Mold has to be physically removed to prevent that from happening.

Call the experts at SERVPRO Bedford Park / Burbank, and a qualified mold technician will come out, assess the situation, and give you the best course of action.  Waiting or postponing the situation will only bring temporary relief, not a permanent solution.

So, if you encounter musty smells in your attic, crawlspace, basement, or storage area, call SERVPRO Bedford Park / Burbank right away!

Mold in a Car

4/25/2017 (Permalink)

Milk left for months while this vehicle was in storage.

Milk.  It does a body good.  Unless you find it in a back of a vehicle, and it's been sitting there for months.  Six months.

This vehicle was involved in an accident upon returning from a supermarket.  A couple gallons of milk was in the back, and the containers leaked milk all over the back carpet and into crevasses down deep.  The vehicle was stored in an impound lot for months.  Mold grew, and flourished, inside the closed up vehicle.

When the litigation was complete, and it was time to put the vehicle back together again, there was an incredible stench inside, along with mold all along the back carpet.

SERVPRO Bedford Park / Burbank was called in, and we not only performed the mold remediation, but also deodorized the inside so well, there wasn't even a trace of moldy milk left.

SERVPRO Bedford Park / Burbank has had some unique calls over the years, but it's hard to find a situation that we can't handle! 

Difference between mold and mildew

4/11/2017 (Permalink)

The room sustained several inches or water damage, and mold was the result in this case.

Both mold and mildew are part of the fungi kingdom, very similar in appearance.  They both need a moist environment to thrive.  They both throw off a musty smell, a telltale sign that you have active mold or mildew.

Mold can be found anywhere in your home or business, living on some organic material (wood, drywall, paper, etc) that is moist enough to have it continue to colonize. It has a root system that gets into the material as it eats it. 

Mildew can be anywhere in the home as well, but primarily found in the bathroom. Mildew does not have a root system, so you can find it on tile, say in the shower, living on the soap residue. And since it does not have a root system, it is easily cleaned off. Outside of the bathroom, you will find mildew generally on plants. 

In either case, simply removing the moisture is not the answer; it needs to be completely removed. Without moisture, it will simply go dormant, waiting for another source of moist conditions to energize it again. They can be dormant for years!

If you have any questions about mold or mildew in your home or business, simply call the experts at SERVPRO Bedford Park / Burbank and schedule an inspection.

How do I get rid of mold?

3/7/2017 (Permalink)

Materials that get wet an are not dried quickly can develop mold.

Mold is a living thing.  It consumes materials such as drywall, paper, or wood.  As it eats these materials, it sends out mycotoxins out into the air; that's the moldy smell you detected.

Mold needs moisture to stay active.  If you remove the moisture, the mold does not go away, it simply becomes dormant.  Like a bear hibernating, it stays there, waiting for that trigger to awaken it again.  The mold can stay dormant for years, waiting for moisture to jump start it again.  To get rid of mold, it must physically have to be removed.

SERVPRO Bedford Park / Burbank takes great care in mold remediation.  We set up containment to prevent mold spores from cross contaminating non-affected areas in your home.  We use air scrubbers (a machine used to clean the air) to help collect floating mold spores as we remove the affected materials.  Then we spray an anti-microbial to help prevent mold from returning.

If you suspect you have mold (you see dark spots on materials that sustained some water damage, or you smell something musty in an enclosed area), call the experts at SERVPRO Bedford Park / Burbank.  We'll come out and assess the area.