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Understanding microbial growth in your home


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One of the most common questions asked of a professional restoration company is, “do I have mold in my home?” It is a common concern for many homeowners, however the answer to the question is not always easy. 

 

At Newman Restoration, we typically do not use the word mold, but instead refer to it as microbial growth. There are many varieties of spores and growths which can occur in a home, and they can not be accurately diagnosed with a visual inspection. To properly diagnose microbial growth, samples must be collected by an industrial hygienist and analyzed in a certified lab. 

 

Microbial growth needs a food source, time and the proper atmospheric conditions to grow in a home. The food source is often drywall or wood and with the proper atmospheric conditions it can begin to develop in 24 to 48 hours. Microbial growth also requires moisture to allow it to grow. This water source can be from a variety of factors inside a home.

 

A flood or slow leak are the most common sources of moisture which allow for microbial growth. A flood from a burst pipe or external water source can develop an issue quickly if the water is not removed. A slow leak from a sink, dishwasher or toilet can allow for microbial growth over time. High levels of humidity are another possible source of moisture. Elevated humidity in a crawl space or attic can develop condensation and allow for microbial growth. 

 

Preventative measures are necessary to avoid microbial growth. Check faucets, toilets and appliances for leaks and get them fixed right away if any leak is detected. Regularly inspect crawl spaces and attics  for elevated humidity. If you do have a flood in your home, have the water extracted and necessary demolition and dry out completed.

 

There are a few physical signs of microbial growth which require immediate attention. If a home is starting to develop a stale or mildew type smell, it can be a sign of microbial growth occurring. Microbial growth can develop inside a wall cavity or underneath flooring and the first sign may be an odd odor. Visual signs of microbial growth will also occur. Stringy or fuzzy patches of growth can appear on building materials. These growths can be a variety of different colors, from black, brown and grey to yellow, pink and green. Any of these signs should be addressed immediately. 

 

It is important for microbial growth to be addressed correctly. It is very easy to spread spores and contaminate other areas of the home. Proper personal protective equipment must be utilized to keep workers safe when they are removing microbial growth. A professional remediation company will set air containment chambers and use specialized equipment to protect themselves and prevent cross contamination. Depending on the severity of microbial growth, building materials may need to be removed and replaced.

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