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Horrible Hornets

Hornets are among the most troublesome pests that homeowners can encounter. Their stings can be extremely painful—even deadly for those who are allergic to their venom. If you find hornets on your property, take these steps to help get rid of them safely.

Eliminate protein sources. Hornets are attracted to protein-rich food sources such as pet food and compost. Don’t give hornets free snacks! Keep your pet’s food in sealable containers, put compost materials in a bin and securely fasten garbage can lids.

NEVER swat a hornet. While it’s tempting to stomp on a hornet or swing at it with a fly swatter, a threatened insect will release a pheromone to warn other hornets of danger. This could cause them to attack you as a group.

Vacuum hornets indoors. If a hornet makes its way into your home, vacuum it up. Even if it survives, it will succumb to dehydration or starvation after a few days of being trapped in your vacuum container.

Kill the nest. You can exterminate a colony of hornets using aerosol insecticides developed for killing these pests. Wait until evening when most of the hornets are inside the nest and less active. As a precaution, put on a jacket, long pants tucked into socks, a hat and gloves. Spray the nest’s entrance first, then totally wet the nest with the insecticide. Most sprays kill hornets on contact, but repeat the next day if you notice activity. After about two days of no activity, the nest can be removed. Hornets nests can be difficult and dangerous to remove. If you don’t feel comfortable removing the nest, call a professional exterminator.

Keep them away for good. Once you have removed the nest, wipe down the area with an enzyme cleaner. This destroys the hornets’ pheromones, which could otherwise attract new hornets to the spot. Another option: Put up insect mesh to deter hornets from nest-prone spots such as under household eaves.

Be sure to review our other articles for great information on other summer specific pests & maintenance!

Mold Problems

Mold Health Problems – Getting Sick From Mold

When you first see mold in your home, you may be immediately repulsed by the look of the green or black fuzzy fungus. Growing rampant over walls, ceilings or even on the bathroom tile, mold spores can make your skin crawl. But beyond the ‘ick-factor’ of mold is a much more serious threat, one that affects the health of your family. Mold health problems can be experienced well before you actually find evidence of mold in your home. Since mold spores can be airborne, you may be breathing in these toxic spores for months before you understand what’s happening. Since many signs of mold health problems can be attributed to other illnesses, you may not even realize that the cure to your illness lies not in a physician, but in a mold removal contractor. Mold is considered a biotoxin since it is a biological organism and can be toxic. In order to live, mold breaks down and destroys whatever organic material it invades. This process then releases microtoxins in the spores, which are airborne and travel through your home finding more places to infest. You and your family easily inhale these airborne spores as you sleep, eat, watch television and enjoy your home. The inhalation and possible physical contact with spores leads to a long list of complications and health problems. Understanding these problems and realizing that the symptoms you are experiencing could be due to exposure to mold gives you a clear direction toward the resolution.

Some symptoms and complications of mold health problems:

Respiratory complications including:

  • Persistent cough
  • Nose and/or throat irritation
  • Nasal and/or sinus congestion
  • Aspergillosis (when mold begins to grow in the lungs)

Neurological disorders including:

  • Mood swings
  • Memory loss
  • Headaches Suppression of the immune system including:
  • Chronic body aches and pain possibly leading to a Chronic Fatigue or Fibromyalgia diagnosis
  • Allergies to food
  • Skin rashes and/or irritation
  • Eye irritation

If you and your family are experiencing any of these symptoms, it may be time for you to contact a mold removal contractor to inspect your home. HIP is the right contractor for you.  We can help you rid your home of mold and prevent these mold related health problems from worsening or developing into chronic conditions. It is important during the mold removal process that you follow the instructions of your mold removal contractor. While professionally removing mold, often more health issues can occur if not taken the proper safety measures. The cleaning process creates more airborne spores, containment and proper protective gear are imperative in preventing further mold health problems. We provide local mold removal and remediation to make your home safe is again.  Contact us today to learn more and find out how we can help you.

No Mold is “Good” Mold

One of the biggest questions about Mold is,

“Do I have the bad Mold?”

The answer is, “No Mold is good Mold”.

Mold is, “Toxigenic“, which means it may not always be producing toxins into your environment. However, for no explainable reason the same Mold that was not producing toxins yesterday, may indeed today begin to produce toxic spores. You must remember Mold is a living breathing orginism, best described as half animal and half plant. This is why it has been classified into its own,”Kingdom“, the Kingdom of “Fungi”.
 
Mold does not have to be black to make you sick. Simply the terms “Black Mold”, or “Toxic Mold”, have been sensationalized by the news media, these terms are actually not correct.

Mold Sickness and related illnesses from Mold Exposure are REAL. Mold has been linked to Lung Damage, Brain Damage, Cancer and even Death. The latest discovery of Mold Fine Particulates  in our environment coupled with the associated medical documentation; prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, sickness and disease from mold exposure and exposure to Mold Fine Particulates are very real.

If Mold spores are inhaled or ingested you can become seriously ill. The longer you go undiagnosed, and untreated, the Mold will continue to grow inside your body, making you sicker with each passing day. As Mold continues to grow inside your body it produces poisons called “Mycotoxins”, these poisons leach into your body day after day. Each day it is left untreated the colonies of Mold grow larger producing and releasing larger amounts of toxins into your body.

Different spicies of Mold produce different toxins and people will suffer a wide range of different symptoms. Mold Sickness will affect many people in many different ways and produce a variety of symptoms.

Because the variety of symptoms from mold exposure are so wide in range many physicians deem their patients to have psychological problems.

Below are the symptoms of Mold Sickness.

Level – I Common Symptoms of Mold Exposure
  • Sneezing
  • Itching Skin
  • Redness and skin irritation
  • Watery Eyes
  • Itching Eyes
  • Headache

Level – II Advanced Symptoms of Mold Exposure

The following symptoms of Mold exposure have been reported generally as a result from persons being in a Mold contaminate environment on and off for an extended period of time. Symptoms are reported to have become more severe and longer lasting directly in proportion to the length of exposure time. Their reported symptoms are as follows:
  •  Constant Headaches
  • Nose Bleeds
  • Feelings of Constant Fatigue
  • Breathing Disorders
  • Coughing up Blood or Black looking Debris
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Weight Loss
  • Hair loss
  • Skin Rashes
  • Open Sores on the Skin
  • Memory Loss “Short Term”
  • Neurological & Nervous Disorders
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Swollen Glands in the Neck Area and under the Armpit
  • Sudden Asthma Attacks or Breathing Disorders
  • Ear Infections and Pain
  • Chronic Sinus Infections
  • Chronic Bronchitis
  • Pain in the Joints and Muscles

While it seems Mold can cause many symptoms one must remember that there are thousands of species of Mold. Different species of Mold can have a wide variety of reactions within different people.

Level – III Late Stage Symptoms of Mold Exposure

 

The following Mold exposure symptoms are the most severe and are attributed to high levels of exposure:

  • Blindness
  • Brain Damage
  • Memory Loss “Long term”
  • Bleeding Lungs
  • Cancer
  • Death

 What does all of this mean for you?  It’s simple, Mold can destroy your health, your property, and if not treated correctly the first time, it can grow back and keep destroying your health and your property.

  

There are many things that need to be addressed when you have Mold. At HIP we strive to educate our clients rather than alarm them.  Knowing what you’re dealing with and how to handle it properly is the first step.  Facts about mold… no hype, just the real life stuff about Mold, identifying it, removing it, and preventing it and protecting your investment.
 

If You Would Like to Speak to Someone About Your Mold Problem,  We Understand and are here to help.  

Contact us today!         

 

New Study: Diseases caused by Mold Fine Particulates” Mold Fine Particulates” The largest  major medical breakthrough in diseases caused by mold.
Please visit http://www.moldsymptoms.org/ for more details.


Detecting Mold within Your Home

Mold, at times, can be tricky to detect, but, by following a few easy tips, you can often times detect a mold problem without having to call a professional.

How do I tell if I have a mold problem?  The most practical way to find a mold problem is by using your eyes to look for mold growth and by using your nose to locate the source of a suspicious odor. If you see mold or if there is an earthy or musty smell, you should assume a mold problem exists. Other clues are signs of excess moisture or the worsening of allergy-like symptoms.

  • Look for visible mold growth (may appear cottony, velvety, granular, or leathery and have varied colors of white, gray, brown, black, yellow, green). Mold often appears as discoloration, staining, or fuzzy growth on the surface of building materials or furnishings. When mold is visible, testing is not recommended.
  • Search areas with noticeable mold odors.
  • Look for signs of excess moisture or water damage. Look for water leaks, standing water, water stains, condensation problems. For example, do you see any watermarks or discoloration on walls, ceilings, carpet, woodwork or other building materials?
  • Search behind and underneath materials (carpet and pad, wallpaper, vinyl flooring, sink cabinets), furniture, or stored items (especially things placed near outside walls or on cold floors). Sometimes destructive techniques may be needed to inspect and clean enclosed spaces where mold and moisture are hidden; for example, opening up a wall cavity.

Should I test for mold?  No.  It is not recommend that homeowners test for mold themselves. Instead, simply assume there is a problem whenever you see mold or smell mold odors and call a professional. Testing should never take the place of visual inspection and it should never use up resources that are needed to correct moisture problems and remove all visible growth.  Sometimes, mold growth is hidden and difficult to locate. In such cases, a combination of air (outdoor and indoor air samples) and bulk (material) samples may help determine the extent of contamination and where cleaning is needed. However, mold testing is rarely useful for trying to answer questions about health concerns.

Click here for more information about Mold and here for Tips on Mold Clean-Up and Removal.

If, at any time, you are concerned about your home and would like a Mold Inspection done by Home Inspection Professionals, please contact us anytime at 1-800-HIP-3200 or click here to Request an Inspection via the web.

Mold Clean-Up and Removal Tips

It is impossible to get rid of all mold and mold spores indoors; some mold spores will be found floating through the air and in house dust.  Indoor mold growth can and should be prevented or controlled by controlling moisture indoors.  The mold spores will not grow if moisture is not present.  If there is mold growth in your home, just remember that you must clean up the mold and fix the water problem.  If you clean up the mold, but don’t fix the water problem, then, most likely, the mold problem will come back.

How do I clean up the mold?   To clean up and remove indoor mold growth, follow these steps, as they apply to your home.

1.  Identify and Fix the Moisture Problem – the most important step in solving a mold problem is to identify and correct the moisture sources that allowed the growth in the first place. Common indoor moisture sources include:

  • Flooding
  • Condensation (caused by indoor humidity that is too high or surfaces that are too cold)
  • Movement through basement walls and slab
  • Roof leaks
  • Plumbing leaks
  • Overflow from tubs, sinks, or toilets
  • Firewood stored indoors
  • Humidifier use
  • Inadequate venting of kitchen and bath humidity
  • Improper venting of combustion appliances
  • Failure to vent clothes dryer exhaust outdoors (including electric dryers)
  • Line drying laundry indoors
  • House plants – watering them can generate large amounts of moisture

To keep indoor surfaces as dry as possible, try to maintain the home’s relative humidity between 20-40 percent in the winter and less than 60 percent the rest of the year. You can purchase devices to measure relative humidity at some home supply stores. Ventilation, air circulation near cold surfaces, dehumidification, and efforts to minimize the production of moisture in the home are all very important in controlling high humidity that frequently causes mold growth in our cold climate.

2.  Begin Drying All Wet Materialsas soon as possible, begin drying any materials that are wet. For severe moisture problems, use fans and dehumidifiers and move wet items away from walls and off floors. HIP offers services for emergency flood Check with equipment rental companies or restoration firms to see if you can rent fans and dehumidifiers.

  • Run your sump pump. If you don’t have one, it would be helpful to get one now to drain your basement of any leftover water. If your basement has a floor drain, mop all the water to the drain. If your basement does not, mop up the excess water.

  • Turn on a few large fans and a dehumidifier to dry out the basement. Typically this will take at least 24 hours, but you’ll be too busy to notice. It is important to quickly dry your basement to prevent mold, mildew and extra bacteria growth. Bacteria love moist areas. 

3.  Remove and Dispose of Mold Contaminated Materials – items which have absorbed moisture (porous materials) and which have mold growing on them need to be removed, bagged and thrown out. Such materials may include sheet rock, insulation, plaster, carpet/carpet pad, ceiling tiles, wood products (other than solid wood), and paper products. Likewise, any such porous materials that have contacted sewage should also be bagged and thrown away. Non-porous materials with surface mold growth may be saved if they are cleaned well and kept dry.

Take Steps to Protect Yourself – the amount of mold particles in air can increase greatly when mold is disturbed. Consider using protective equipment when handling or working around mold contaminated materials. The following equipment can help minimize exposure to mold:

  •  
    • Rubber gloves
    • Eye goggles
    • Outer clothing (long sleeves and long pants) that can be easily removed in the work area and laundered or discarded
    • Medium-efficiency or high-efficiency filter dust mask (these can be found at safety equipment suppliers, hardware stores, or some other large stores that sell home repair supplies) — at a minimum, use an N-95 or equivalent dust mask
    • Take Steps to Protect Others – plan and perform all work to minimize the amount of dust generated. The following actions can help minimize the spread of mold spores:
      • Enclose all moldy materials in plastic (bags or sheets) before carrying through the home
      • Hang plastic sheeting to separate the work area from the rest of the home
      • Remove outer layer of work clothing in the work area and wash separately or bag
      • Damp clean the entire work area to pick up settled contaminants in dust

Haul up soggy and destroyed belongings while the basement dries. This is the hardest part of a flood cleanup effort. Always lift with your legs because wet boxes and belongings way much more than dry ones.

  • Discard anything that cannot be properly sanitized. Paper products like books, boxes and cards should get thrown away. Anything that can be hosed down with bleach and water, place in your yard or driveway to clean later.
  • Scrub the walls and floors that got wet with a solution made of 1 cup of bleach and 5 gallons of water. Be sure to wear rubber gloves and work clothes.
  • Run the fans and the dehumidifier once again. Again, this could take 24 hours or more. Although the moisture in your basement is now clean moisture, you don’t want it to attract bacteria. Your basement should no longer look or feel moist and humid.
4.  Clean Surfaces – surface mold growing on non-porous materials such as hard plastic, concrete, glass, metal, and solid wood can usually be cleaned. Cleaning must remove and capture the mold contamination, because dead spores and mold particles still cause health problems if they are left in place.
  • Thoroughly scrub all contaminated surfaces using a stiff brush, hot water and a non-ammonia soap/detergent or commercial cleaner
  • Collect excess cleaning liquid with a wet/dry vacuum, mop or sponge
  • Rinse area with clean water and collect excess rinse water

5.  Disinfect Surfaces (if desired) – after cleaning has removed all visible mold and other soiling from contaminated surfaces, a disinfectant may be used to kill mold missed by the cleaning. In the case of sewage contamination, disinfection must be performed. Contact your home inspector for advice.

  • Mix 1/4 to 1/2 cup bleach per gallon of water and apply to surfaces where mold growth was visible before cleaning. The solution can be applied with a spray bottle, garden sprayer, it can be sponged on, or applied by other methods.
  • Collect any run-off of bleach solution with a wet/ dry vacuum, sponge or mop. However, do not rinse or wipe the bleach solution off the areas being treated — allow it to dry on the surface.

Always handle bleach with caution. Never mix bleach with ammonia — toxic chlorine gas may result. Bleach can irritate the eyes, nose, throat, and skin. Provide fresh air (for example, open a window or door). Protect skin and eyes from contact with bleach. Test solution on a small area before treatment, since bleach is very corrosive and may damage some materials.

6.  Remain on Mold Alert – Continue looking for signs of moisture problems or return of mold growth. Be particularly alert to moisture in areas of past growth. If mold returns, repeat cleaning steps and consider using a stronger solution to disinfect the area again. Regrowth may signal that the material should be removed or that moisture is not yet controlled.

When can we rebuild after mold clean-up and removal?  Rebuilding and refurnishing must wait until all affected materials have dried completely. Be patient it takes time to dry out wet building materials. 

Click here for more information about Mold and here for Tips on Detecting Mold.

If, at any time, you are concerned about your home and would like a Mold Inspection done by Home Inspection Professionals, please contact us anytime at 1-800-HIP-3200 or click here to Request an Inspection via the web.

Mold: Annoying Nuisance or Threat to My Investment?

Mold gradually destroys the things it grows on.  You can prevent damage to your home and furnishings, save money, and avoid potential health problems by controlling moisture and eliminating mold growth.

What is mold and why is it growing in my home?   Molds are fungi that grow throughout the natural and built environment.  Outdoors, molds play a part in nature by breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees, but indoors, mold growth should be avoided.  Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores; the spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through outdoor and indoor air.  Mold may begin growing indoors when mold spores land on surfaces that are wet.  There are many types of mold, and none of them will grow without water or moisture.

What does mold need to grow?  Mold only needs a few simple things to grow and multiply:

  • Moisture
  • Nutrients
  • Suitable place to grow

Of these, controlling excess moisture is the key to preventing and stopping indoor mold growth.

Should I be concerned about mold in my home?  Mold should not be permitted to grow and multiply indoors. When this happens, health problems can occur and building materials, goods and furnishings may be damaged.

Can mold make me and my family sick?  Mold can affect the health of people who are exposed to it. People are mainly exposed to mold by breathing spores or other tiny fragments. People can also be exposed through skin contact with mold contaminants (for example, by touching moldy surfaces) and by swallowing it.  The type and severity of health effects that mold may produce are usually difficult to predict. The risks can vary greatly from one location to another, over time, and from person to person.

What type of health problems can occur from mold exposure?  The most common health problems caused by indoor mold are allergy symptoms. Although other and more serious problems can occur, people exposed to mold commonly report problems such as:

  • Nasal and sinus congestion
  • Cough
  • Wheeze/breathing difficulties
  • Sore throat
  • Skin and eye irritation
  • Upper respiratory infections (including sinus)

Are the risks greater for some people?  There is wide variability in how different people are affected by indoor mold. However, the long term presence of indoor mold growth may eventually become unhealthy for anyone. The following types of people may be affected more severely and sooner than others:

  • Infants and children
  • Elderly people
  • Individuals with respiratory conditions or sensitivities such as allergies and asthma
  • Persons having weakened immune systems (for example, people with HIV infection, chemotherapy patients, organ transplant recipients)

Those with special health concerns should consult a medical professional if they feel their health is affected by indoor mold.

Are some molds more hazardous than others?  Some types of mold can produce chemical compounds (called mycotoxins) although they do not always do so. Molds that are able to produce toxins are common. In some circumstances, the toxins produced by indoor mold may cause health problems. However, all indoor mold growth is potentially harmful and should be removed promptly, no matter what types of mold is present or whether it can produce toxins.

How do I get rid of mold?  It is impossible to get rid of all mold and mold spores indoors; some mold spores will be found floating through the air and in house dust.  The mold spores will not grow if moisture is not present.  Indoor mold growth can and should be prevented or controlled by controlling moisture indoors.  If there is mold growth in your home, you must clean up the mold and fix the water problem.  If you clean up the mold, but don’t fix the water problem, then, most likely, the mold problem will come back.

Click here for more information on Detecting Mold within Your Home and here for Tips on Mold Clean-Up and Removal.

If, at any time, you are concerned about your home and would like a Mold Inspection done by Home Inspection Professionals, please contact us anytime at 1-800-HIP-3200 or click here to Request an Inspection via the web.