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It's never good news when a homeowner discovers mold, especially dangerous black mold, somewhere in the home.
Homeowners can't solve a mold problem by selling their home to an unsuspecting buyer. Here's what buyers and sellers should know.
Is the cabin conditioned year round or at all?
Are there any grading or moisture issues that are allowing bulk moisture into the crawl?
Conditioning the crawl is usually the best answer but if it is sporadic use and/or makes better sense to leave as a vented space, you need to do the following for optimum performance:
- Install a vapor barrier across the floor. Seal all piers and penetrations as well as seal to the stem wall.
- Insulate the underside of the floor and ideally thermally break the floor joists from the earth.
- This is best accomplished by covering the floor joist with a rigid foam and sealing all the seams.
When you say vented to the roof, do you mean into the attic UNDER the roof, or through the roof with a duct up through a roof jack into a roof hood ? Hopefully the latter, otherwise you have the likely source of the problem.
You are clearly getting moisture in this area still, so more insulation will not help and may hurt - insulation does not stop moisture but does trap it, particularly if you add enough tht the freezing front moves well down into the insulation, so vapor coming up from the house freezes in the insulation (making it wet when it thaws) rather than venting into the attic and evaporating from there.
You need an expert check on the bathroom area - that the fan unit and any light fixtures are tighly sealed to the vapor barrier. Usually they are installed with about a 1/4-1/2 inch void all around for ease of installation, and not sealed at all, so moist bathroom air vents around themm into the attic.
Then the fan unit needs checking for openings - many have openings in the plastic or metal case from manufacturing that are not sealed but should be. Do NOT use any type of unit that, because of big lights or heat lamp, says it has to be vented and cannot be sealed in, because moist air goes right up through it.
Then the duct from the fan up through the roof needs checking for leaks (and should be insulated, at least if your attic goes below freezing ever), and should have a roof jack where it penetrates the attic - a rubber seal in a metal plate that fits tightly around the duct, so the air blown into the vent hood on the roof cannot circulate back down into the attic. Most installers just cut about a 1 foot opening in the roof (especially if they can install the duct that way without having to crawl around in itchy attic insulation), run the duct up through it into the roof hood, and walk away. That leaves that big opening in the roof sheathing for the wet air and condensation in the hood to corculate right back down into the attic. Some installers (like my house whenn I first bought it) really take the easy route and don't even connect the duct to the hood - they just terminate it a foot or so below the sheathing so ALL the moist air goes into the attic.
I would also check the kitchen and any other bathroom fans for the same leak sources or improper installation, and make sure all vent pipes are intact to above the roof, and that there are no furnace or HVAC ducts disconnected or damaged that could be adding moisture.
Also look around all roof penetrations for ducts and pipes for staining on the underside of the sheathing, which would be indicative of roof hood or jack leaks that should be repaired. (Hopefully, with a new roof you would not have any).
The area most affected should have the insulation moved away and checked to see if the vapor barrier has holes or tears, openings around pipes, ducts, light boxes or wiring, or was maybe totally torn out by some prior workman. If your vapor barrier is not effective, moist household air will move into the attic almost year around, but especially in cold weather, carrying moisture into the attic, where it will condense and cause mold.
Also - if you have a fireplace chase (wood boxout around metal chimney) in that area, it may connect to the house in the firebox area and be open to the attic (which is a real fire spread hazard but for some reason is not contrary to code), letting household air flow by that route.
The mold should be brushed and vacuumed away, then treated - there are commercial sprays that are fungicides that commercial mold and mildew removal contractors have, a sprayed chlorine bleach and borax solution has also been shown to work but you would have to have an air supplied respirator and chemical suit to work with that, which only professional remediation contractors have. Do NOT paint the area - especially the underside of the roof sheathing and trusses. They needs to be able to breathe, not have any moisture from above locked in.
Stains in the attic (assuming this is an unoccupied area) can be bleached, and then if you want the evidence to go away and make it easier to tell if there is new staining or mold, sanded to remove the worst of them.
Stains on areas visible from the outside like walls and rafters can be treated with Chlorine bleach (beware of dripping on good finishes below), painted with Kilz or similar anti-fungal primer, then painted. Stains on the underside of the sheathing visible in the soffit area can be bleached and then when dry, sanded away.
Ventilation is essential, but without removing the source of most the moisture you will not win this war no matter how many times you battle it.
While I would guess the fans and vents are the problem, is there anything different about the attic ventilation to this area versus the other parts of the roof - soffit covers, blocked eave openings, insulation-clogged bug screening or soffit cover openings, lack of air chutes or eave baffles, insulation pushed up against eave opening or up against roof, horizontal blocking that prevents or obstructs airflow, no ridge vent above it, etc ?
If you are not able to find an obvious source of the moisture, I woud consider getting a thermal IR scan of the attic. For typically about $200-300 an energy conservation expert with thermal scanner can scan the attic (might have to be done at night or VERY early morning if done in summertime, to accentuate the temp difference between house air and attic air, unless you have AC in which case turning the AC down low and blower on full can work by pushing cold air rather than hot up through any gaps or voids. If you have that done, check on price to add in the rest of the house too - probably not more than about $100 more, and can show you where your air leaks and poor insulation air. You should try to get one who can provide the entire scan to you on CD or DVD, so you can review it in the future. Here is a link to some images so you know what I am talking about -
Call in the professionals.
There is no sense addressing the mold issue until you resolve the basement leaks.
High ground water that is seeping into your basement is going to lead to long term, serious damage to your foundation and basement walls. Any mold you remove will just keep coming back. The first question is the age of the home and whether or not you have working perimeter drain tile installed. If you home is pretty old (30+ years) it is possible you do not have a drainiage system, or the system is clogged / deteriorated beyond function. For a newer home, perimeter drain tile was a requirement, but doesn't mean it was installed properly.
I recommend you hire a licensed architect to review your house's construction, the site and look for indications that a drainage system is in place and functioning. They should be able to find out where the drain comes out, and to check it (after a rain or by doing a water test) to see if it is working. If it is working, it is possible your system is undersized or only failing in a specific area. It is also possible a second, lower water table exists that is below your current drain system. A site change, to change the current flow of ground water or above ground water may resolve your issue as well. Something as simple as a new drainage ditch, retention pond or higher grades around your building may resolve your issue.
Working with a professional will prevent you from worrying about a 'draingage expert' recommending a high cost repair when another option may be available.
Some drainage people will propose installing a new perimiter drain inside your basement walls. This system gets the water that gets through the walls and under the floor, and carries it back out. This is a last ditch idea. The best method, to solve the issue for good, is to dig back down to your footers, repair the waterproofing on the wall, then place drainage board over it (this protects the waterproofing while allowing moisture a travel path to your drain tile). Then place gravel fill with geo-fabric over it, then backfill. Now, no matter how much water you have in your ground, it will be directed away from your basement.
A sump pump in the basement to handle flooding or low water tables below your basement slab will augment this system.
Once you have the moisture issue resolved, then worry about stopping mold. In the interim, any materials that are growing mold need to be removed (use protective measures). Make sure you run a dehumidifier at all times and keep air moving by turning on the basement hvac vents or putting some fans in the area.
Working with a licensed architect will help ensure you pinpoint the exact problem, and have a knowledgable person to discuss the options with before doing any costly work. The architect will also be able to assist with finding contractors and overseeing that the work is installed correctly (It is worthless to redo the drainage if any one area is not done correctly). Good luck.
Mold Removal reviews in Los Angeles
They were so incredibly customer-service oriented from start ...MoreRead more of this review to finish. It was super easy to schedule a time for the inspector to come and take a look. On the initial inspection, the source of the wetness was identified and they even offered some really helpful suggestions to help stop to the leaking and reduce the overall moisture in the area while we worked with our AC guy to correct the originating problem and scheduled the necessary repairs. Throughout every step of the process the folks at Absolute were truly outstanding.
Once the work got under way it was fascinating to see how they set up what felt like a true hermitically sealed area to contain any possible mold contaminants. Although watching them suit up to remove the moldy materials was a little frightening (not THEM - but the fact that something that dangerous can just pop up in your house! Who Knew?!), it was definitely reassuring to see how careful they were and to know how incredibly professional and thorough they were with everything.
After allowing the space to completely dry, they then rebuilt sections of the wall that had been removed, complete with fresh drywall and paint. it looks AMAZING! The two men who completed the work were so professional and pleasant and I just can't say enough great things about these folks.
I'm probably not be a typical "Angie's List-er"... Most of the time, I tend to use it as a resource-only and, quite honestly, have never taken the time to write out a review here, so this is a first for me. But, having experienced such incredible service with these guys, I really had to let everyone know. Mold remediation is not something you ever hope or plan to have to deal with but knowing that the process can be as easy and as pleasant as this one was is just amazingly reassuring.
Thank you and Consulting! You are THE BEST!!!!!
About a month ago (after a serious rain storm by LA standards), I discovered a significant leak in my bathroom. Not only was water rushing into the house through a light fixture, but I also noticed a significant amount of water in the heating ducts beneath the floor. After frantically calling around for help, I came ...MoreRead more of this review across Absolute. The second I spoke with , I was immediately put at ease. He agreed that I had an urgent problem, carefully explained the process we would go through, had a team to my house the same day (a Sunday no less), and personally came to my house to look over the situation. Within a week, he and his team repaired a section of my roof, dried out the ceiling and four walls, replaced a section of the heating duct, and inspected and repaired many failing window and door frames. He treated my house as if it were his, never made any decisions without a prior conversation, and the final bill was exactly as he stipulated. There could not have been a better ending to a stressful situation.
The job was to entail addressing a flooded kitchen with what he called heavy mold, at least some of it toxic, in the floorboards and cabinets. He promised that his team would work to preserve the parts of the kitchen that seemed unaffected and at the very least would keep all of the hardware and keep information regarding the layout of the cabinets so that they could be replicated exactly. The location is an architectural home and a lease. The cabinets were all custom and it was very important that they be rebuilt exactly as they were before the flooding. Additionally, his staff was to help wipe down each item that could be saved coming out of the kitchen and essentially do the packing part of the moving out of the kitchen. I let them know that there would not be electricity and was told that they had a generator if they needed it and that it would not be a problem. I left a deposit check and they got started.
I never saw again after he walked off with the deposit check. The attention to detail never happened. The team which he left behind, although friendly fellows, definitely needed a supervisor. I stayed with them for a few days and then had to leave as I now live 6 hours away, and completing this job, with its various stages of repair, is the only thing that is keeping me from completing my move and I have to be present for a full time job. In the time that I was there I saw that the wiping of down of items from the kitchen with a mold removing agent was spotty and the packing was clumsy, at best. Sure, its nice that they offered to do it I suppose, and that they brought packing materials, but essentially I am paying for those packing materials-with a markup mind you- and the guys are not skilled at packing at all, which could have left my items damaged or broken. It would have been more appropriate to keep this "service" off the bill and to ask me to hire separately for that or to do it myself. Furthermore, while I was still there, they began to tear out the cabinets and throw away the hardware as well. Had I not been there they would have been dumped. I had to ask them to go through massive bags of demolition which were tied up to be hauled away.
There was no communication of what had been promised me to the staff who was actually going to do the work. Furthermore, the "staff" admitted to me that they were just subs even though they with frequently. So apparently the difference in price between what he actually paid these guys and what he collected himself as a fee to get them the job, was purely that, as again there was no supervision involved.
I departed as they told me they had the rest under control and we planned a date for my return. I confirmed before leaving my new home with his "staff" that they were ready for me and they said I could arrive 2 days later, that the floors were still drying.
But when I arrived they still needed three more days and no one had updated me. So now, I'm missing work, waiting for them to get started again,and have to stay at a hotel,or with friends or in the house's side unit which is essentially a storage place with no electricity because they didn't update the timeline with me even though they knew how far away I was coming from. I did all of the above. I'm pretty sure they got another job and were working on that job while putting me on hold. I asked if it was ok to go into the main house to retrieve mail and was told "No"- that it was better to wait until a final cleanup job was done. When the fourth day was passing and it had reached later afternoon, I departed, locking the house. I had wasted an entire work week ( its a day of driving each way), put more than 650 miles on my car, wasted money on a hotel and gas, and had inconvenienced my friends. I had to get back. I had arrived thinking I would spend the a day or two, release a check and head right back. Not quite.
On the day I returned they were already finishing up as I had a neighbor hide a key for them to start as I wanted to make sure they would be done while I was there. My drive was slower than I hoped and I was stuck in traffic and I notified them that If they finished before I got to the house they could leave and meet me at the end of the day for a final review and final payment.
When we met at the end of that day, the lead guy was not there. They had left earlier and he did not feel like returning. I did the walk through with two other fellows who said they didn't know if the job was truly finished, that I would need to talk to the gentleman who did not show up. They took pictures of the areas of concern and said that they would text or email them to him and get a response and that he could meet the next day. I did not hear from him that night or the next morning. I needed to leave. Because I was leaving, I had issued a check and left the key with a housekeeper who could meet if more work would have to be done to complete the job. The lead guy did not respond to the pics and say that the work was done, wanted to go back to the house, and agreed to meet with my old housekeeper a couple days later. I would pay her to be there that day. On that day, she was late. He was impatient and left without ever letting me know that she had not showed up on time, texting me as he was driving off that I would have to now contact the original contractor for any concerns. I sent an email to the contractor and he did not respond. So I didn't clear the check. Guess who popped up? Suddenly he was available, saying that what was left could be completed by the next contractor when that person was installing new floors. When I protested, he simply sent me a certificate of completion and tried to make me look like a complete deadbeat. Its true that this disaster has been an unexpected financial and that I am making financial choices right now that I would rather not be making, but to make this out to be an issue of my finances is disingenuous.
Let me add, that when I did the final walk though with the two gentleman, what I found was a kitchen gutted, not remediated. Now, it could be that the mold did indeed spread everywhere. But for someone who advertises on Angie's List as a full time mold remediation specialist ( but whose truck simply advertises general contractor), after an initial walk through and inspection, I should not be given the idea that half of the kitchen is likely to be saved, if absolutely everything is going to be destroyed. It was literally an empty shell. It definitely crossed my mind that it was simply easier for them to gut a kitchen than to remediate half of it. I'll never know if some of could have been saved. The other bidders all had seemed to think that half of it could have been saved as well.
One other thing. Because they took out ALL the cabinets, they needed to remove the counter tops. Two large stone counter tops. Apparently one had a fine crack in it from the expansion of the wood underneath which was dismaying. I was assured they would work with them with the greatest care to prevent possibility of breakage. One of the guys even claimed to be a "stone expert".
Apparently, after seeing my agony over the possibility of a break, they did connect with who delivered them a piece of lumber to carry out the counter top with, thereby avoiding stress to the middle and preventing a break. He did not come to supervise them and well, these fellows placed the lumber under one countertop and left that counter top in the kitchen and then proceeded to pick up the other counter top without any support underneath. The middle of the counter top had a large cutout for the range, where they stone would be most prone to break anyway. They grabbed it by either end and it immediately snapped in two. I got the call from the lead guy who recounted this exact story to me, probably being so honest out of shock and his own dismay. He knew how much more this was going to cost me- to find the same stone- to custom cut it to size along with the same cutouts and bevel. If I had been there this would not have happened. If had been there, I would like to think that he would also have pointed out that that was what the lumber was for. That you can't carry stone slab that way. I discussed it with and he quietly admitted that this is what had happened and I think that was part of the reason he never showed up again, in addition to perhaps not really caring as this was not a high profit job for him, and it being around Thanksgiving when people get busy with the holidays. Or perhaps this was just his MO, I could not tell. Still, the poor results and extra expense were to be absorbed by me with out comment.
Which I was prepared to do, and not express any frustration. But after the insulting way they "closed out" the job, we are now fighting about whether they will actually complete the job, offer a reduction, or if we are just supposed to waste more time, energy and money battling over the final $2,000. I have a lot on my plate already and this is a huge extra
Would you choose this contractor? I never would again.
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