Posts Tagged ‘air duct cleaning’

Prevent Mold Growth by Identifying the Mold Triangle

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

mold triangleIn science class, many of us learned about the “fire triangle.” Combustion depends on three things—heat, oxygen and fuel—and if any of the three is removed, the fire dies.

If you’re dealing with mold in your home—or trying to keep it out—you should know that mold has a triangle, too: Warmth, Food and Moisture. Let’s look at each side and what you can do to remove it:

Warmth

Breaking this part of the triangle is definitely the most difficult. Molds and fungi grow in a range between 40 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which means room temperature is ideal. Turning your home or business into an oven or walk-in freezer is probably not a project you want to sign on for, so let’s move on to the next thing mold needs.

Food

Mold doesn’t just see the food in your fridge or breadbox as a meal. It can dine on almost anything in your home or business. The Centers for Disease Control note that “almost all commonly used construction materials and furnishings can provide nutrients to support mold growth.” Anything from drywall to couch cushions can be a rich “growth medium” for a mold colony.

Dirt and other contaminants on surfaces in the environment can give mold extra nutrients and a place to gain a foothold. Keep surfaces as clean as possible, especially in areas that will be warm and moist, such as bathrooms. Use anti-microbial cleaners when possible.

If you’re remodeling your space you have a prime opportunity to prevent future mold growth by using mold-resistant building materials. These products range from specially treated lumber—which is also termite resistant—to insulation, drywall, carpet and even paints. Some are treated with (or contain) fungicidal chemicals while others are made of materials mold can’t eat. It’s still necessary to keep these products as clean as possible so mold doesn’t grow in dirt or contaminants instead of the building material itself.

Moisture

Controlling moisture is the easiest (and arguably the most important) way of dealing with mold growth. One crucial fact to keep in mind is that mold doesn’t need standing or dripping water to grow. The moisture from high humidity or water absorbed into building materials can be more than enough. The key is to keep the moisture out or remove it from the air once it’s in the area. Here are some things to watch for:

  • Drafts and leaks not only waste energy used for heating and cooling, they allow moist air in.
  • Even air that’s supposed to be moving into your home or business through vents and intakes can be a source of extra humidity. Be sure there are no leaks around the vents themselves or in the ducting.
  • Use fans, vents or even open windows to send humid air (from showers, cooking, laundry, etc.) out of the building.
  • Check any area where there might be a sharp difference in temperatures. These can be prime spots for condensation to occur.
  • Keep a sharp eye out for any area where there might be standing water for any reason. Even if it’s not a constant problem, standing water now means humidity when it evaporates.
  • Use a dehumidifier to eliminate chronic moisture problems.

Most importantly, if mold has already formed and is taking up an area more than about 3 feet by 3 feet, call in professionals trained in water damage remediation and mold removal.

Mold can damage building materials and create long-term health issues ranging from skin irritation to lung infections. Watch for signs the mold triangle is forming and when you see it, break it before mold can break in on you.

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Dirty air ducts and allergies: Nothing to sneeze at

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

allergy air duct cleaningEyes are itchy and watery? Can’t walk outside without constant sneezing? Popping allergy pills like Pez? Aaa-choo. Yep, it’s allergy season. In fact, it’s estimated that more than 35 million Americans have allergies—and that number continues to climb. But while allergy sufferers battle their symptoms with antihistamines and immunizations, they may be overlooking a practically invisible culprit lurking indoors: allergens.

According to the American Academy of Allergy & Asthma Immunology, over half of all homes contain at least six detectable allergens such as dust mites, pet dander and molds. Not coincidentally, a recent study by the EPA suggests that people are more likely to get sick from pollution inside the home or office than outdoors. As spring (what many consider the worst allergy season) approaches, air duct cleaning is a common-sense option to consider.

Air duct cleaning is the removal of dirt from the surfaces of the duct system in your home or business, with the goal of minimizing the levels of allergy-aggravating particles in the air. The EPA advises that if you or someone in your household or work environment is experiencing signs of allergy, consult a doctor, of course. In addition, consider air duct cleaning if:

  • The surface of your ducts (or other components of your heating and cooling system) have a substantial amount of visible mold on them.
  • You suspect rodents, insects or other vermin are infecting your ducts.
  • Your ducts are clogged with dust and debris.
  • Dust or debris is being released into your home through your registers.

Yes, point #2 mentioned vermin…and as unpleasant as this thought may be, it’s true that much of the dust found in ducts is composed of the hair, droppings and skeletons of mice, cockroaches and other creepy creatures. Cockroaches are common in urban areas, and rodents in cold regions often sneak inside seeking warmth. Even fastidious housekeepers are shocked at what the pros can find in their ducts!

Speaking of professional air duct cleaners, here are a few tips on selecting them. First, make sure they are legitimate and can accurately provide the services they offer. Check their credentials and ask for references. Improper or careless use of a vacuum collection system, for example, can actually release more allergens into your space and cause costly damage to your ducts or HVAC system. Finally, ask if chemical biocides or sealants will be used, as these methods are only appropriate under specific circumstances.

Spring cleaning is in full force. So do your homework now to determine whether your air ducts could use a good cleaning and locate a trusted specialist to do the job right. Your family, friends or coworkers will breathe a sigh of relief this allergy season!

LDR Construction Services, Inc. Cleaning & Restoration has proudly served all of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin since 1991. LDR specializes in the complete repair of fire, smoke, wind, water and vandalism damage to both commercial and residential properties. Capable of handling any size loss and working with all types of insurance providers, the LDR disaster team is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. For more information, visit www.ldr4service.com or call 1-888-874-7066.

Photo by brookenovak.

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4 Simple Steps to Avoid Mold Contamination

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

mold cleanupNot to sound trite, but here’s the easiest method of mold removal known to man: Keep it from growing in the first place. How do you do that?

Monitor moisture and keep your home dry

Of course, that means making sure naturally moist areas in your home — such as your basement and bathrooms and storage areas — are properly ventilated or dehumidified, or at the very least aren’t retaining consistent moisture. Moisture and oxygen are the only things that those ubiquitous mold spores need to grow.

And if they find them, they will grow.

“Stop the moisture intrusion that helped the mold to grow in the first place,” says James Gryder, cleaning and mitigation supervisor at LDR Construction Services, Inc., Rockford, Ill. “All homes have mold spores present, it is just a fact of life. The issue is if there is enough moisture present for the mold that is present to start growing.”

So staying on top problem moisture spots in your home will save a lot of mold cleanup later. But wait – what if you already have mold? Then what? Well, there are a couple of mold abatement steps you can take on your own.

First, if you find mold, the key is proper containment and air filtration. The goal is to avoid cross-contaminating other areas of your home with mold spores. After just two days of wetness, there is mold present whether you see it or not. The Centers for Disease Control recommends removing mold-contaminated items from your home if those items have been wet for more than two days to let them dry.

Containing the problem may also mean removing damaged drywall, trim, wood products or other items. Then, if you have the means, wet-vacuum the contaminated area if there is enough water present to justify it. Otherwise, you can dry-vac the area with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA (High-efficiency Particulate Air) filter. That will help to ensure that mold spores are contained.

Those are big “if’s.” So if you lack the proper equipment, you may need to call a professional mold remediation company, such as LDR Cleaning and Restoration, to contain and mitigate your mold problem so that other areas of your home don’t get contaminated, as well.  Service providers like LDR use water meters and other equipment that homeowners are unlikely to have, which allow them to diagnose and fix problems more quickly.

“That is why calling a professional, like LDR, who will take the needed steps to make sure the issue is handled property through containment and the use of air filtration devices, is the best route to go,” Gryder says.

And if preventing mold damage to your home isn’t enough to convince you to avoid mold problems, or call in professional help when problems do occur, then preventing health problems might.

“An unmitigated mold problem can be a real health issue to children, people with compromised immune systems, and even what we would term healthy people,” Gryder says. “If there is moisture present, and the mold is able to grow unmitigated, it will just continue to get worse and worse. Eventually, the spores may find their way into the HVAC system and contaminate that, or they can get inhaled cause respirator problems.”

And those are problems nobody wants. So remember:

  1. Monitor moisture
  2. Contain the mold problem
  3. Remove mold damaged items
  4. Call in professional help for your mold abatement issues

You won’t be sorry you took the necessary steps.

Image courtesy of Photokanok / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Do Your Air Ducts Need Cleaned?

Monday, November 1st, 2010

If you have one or more of the following conditions, it is recommended that you have your ducts cleaned at a minimum of once per year, if not twice.

  • Your home contains smokers.
  • You have pets in your household.
  • The area you live in is known for having high pollen count.
  • The area you live in has high levels of moisture or humidity.
  • You have recently completed a home renovation project or you have just purchased a newly constructed home.
  • Frequently use chemical cleaning products.
  • Your home has suffered flood damage.
  • You live near industries that emit a lot of smoke and other pollutants.
  • There are rodents such as mice and rats running through the ducts.

Contaminants in your ducts can affect your health.  As the particles blow through the home, occupants are at a high risk of inhaling them.  This can lead to such health problems as asthma and other respiratory illnesses, sinus problems, constant coughing and sneezing, severe allergies, headaches, and sleep problems.

Some benefits of having your ducts cleaned include:

  • Good for your heating/cooling system:  Most duct system failures occur because of an accumulation of dust and dirt.  By cleaning your ducts, your system will be more efficient and could lower your energy costs.  The EPA states that a buildup of just .042 inches of dirt on heating or cooling coil can result in a 21% decrease in efficiency.
  • Healthier children:  If you have children, you know that they need to eat healthy and get regular exercise to grow into healthy adults.  Because children’s immune systems are still developing, they are at a higher risk of illness.
  • High risk individuals:  People who already have a health condition such as asthmatics and the elderly will benefit a great deal.  They will breath better and the risk of developing respiratory illness will be reduced.

Once your air ducts have undergone a thorough cleaning by trained professionals, there will no longer be any containments being blown throughout your home.

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