Healthy Home & Home Safety

fanToxic black mold, or Stachybotrys chartarum, as it's known to scientists, can release spores as it feeds on organic materials in common household materials like drywall, carpet, insulation or sub-flooring that have been exposed to moisture.

These spores, if ingested or inhaled, can cause a range of unpleasant and even dangerous symptoms in humans.

The most common black mold symptoms and health effects are associated with a respiratory response. Chronic coughing and sneezing, irritation to the eyes, mucus membranes of the nose and throat, rashes, chronic fatigue and persistent headaches can all be symptomatic of black mold exposure or black mold poisoning.

In particularly severe cases of prolonged exposure, black mold health effects can be more dangerous. Often compounded by allergic reaction to the black mold spores, these symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, and bleeding in the lungs and nose.

Toxic black mold can be costly to remove, and black mold exposure and black mold poisoning can cause a wide range of health problems, some of them severe. Understanding black mold symptoms and health effects can help you and your family.

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The Biggest Threats to a Healthy Home

moldAreas that you suspect may trigger mold growth should first be inspected for any leaks or excess moisture.

Once any existing leaks have been repaired, mold susceptible areas can be kept dry with a dehumidifier, which should reduce the incidence of mold growth.

Treating areas of existing mold growth should always be done while wearing a respirator or mask rated for work with mold spores, and arms, legs and hands should be covered to prevent an allergic reaction. After removing any moldy debris such as sub-flooring or drywall, hard surfaces can be treated with commercial mold control products containing bleach or ammonia, which can help to eradicate any surviving mold.

For continued mold prevention in problem areas, you can apply vinegar one to two times a week. Vinegar makes areas too acidic for mold growth, and can prevent moldy buildup in areas like showers and sinks. WE use vinegar in condensate pipes to eliminate mold that breeds in the discharge from your AC unit. A regular scrub of the area with borax and water will also help to prevent and control mold growth. Always follow the manufacturer's directions for the correct mixture ratio.

Mold in homes can cause significant damage and even health risks, but by understanding the range of mold control and mold prevention products available, you'll be equipped to keep your home mold free.

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9 Tips To Prevent Mold

Mold can be good - it's essential in making brie and penicillin.

For example, and necessary for the decomposition of organic matter in nature - but it can also be very, very bad, especially when it grows undetected in your home. Mold spores spread easily and cannot be completely eradicated.

moldMold can grow anywhere: on carpet, clothing, food, paper, and even in places you can't see, such as the backside of drywall, areas inside walls around leaking or condensing pipes, and above ceiling tiles. Not only is a mold problem difficult and costly to fix, but mold can also produce allergens and irritants (and, rarely, toxins) that may compromise your health.

So, what can you do if you're concerned about mold growing in your home? The best approach is preventing mold before it becomes a problem. The key to mold prevention is simple: moisture control. Here are nine ways to curb moisture indoors, and the mold that thrives on it.

1. Identify problem areas in your home and correct them.

You can't mold-proof your home, but you can make it mold-resistant. Do an audit of your home: where are the problem areas? Do you notice frequent condensation on an upstairs window? Is there a water stain on the ceiling from a persistent leak? Preventing mold from growing or spreading might be as simple as ripping up carpet in a damp basement, installing mold-resistant products, or repairing damaged gutters. Or it may be a matter of major excavation and waterproofing. Whatever the case, address the problem now. It might cost some money up front, but it will surely be costlier down the road if mold continues to grow unchecked.

2. Dry wet areas immediately.

Mold can't grow without moisture, so tackle wet areas right away. Seepage after a heavy rainfall, accumulation from a leaky pipe, even a spill on the carpet should be dried within 24 to 48 hours. If you've experienced a flood, remove water-damaged carpets, bedding, and furniture if they can't be completely dried. Even everyday occurrences need attention: don't leave wet items lying around the house, and make sure to dry the floor and walls after a shower. Don't leave wet clothes in the washing machine, where mold can spread quickly. Hang them to dry - preferably outside or in areas with good air circulation.

3. Prevent moisture with proper ventilation.

It may be that your routine domestic activities are encouraging the growth of mold in your home. Make sure an activity as simple as cooking dinner, taking a shower, or doing a load of laundry doesn't invite mold by providing proper ventilation in your bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, and any other high-moisture area. Vent appliances that produce moisture - clothes dryers, stoves - to the outside (not the attic). Use AC units and dehumidifiers (especially in humid climates), but make sure they don't produce moisture themselves by checking them periodically and cleaning them as directed by the manufacturer. Your energy-efficient home may be holding moisture inside, so open a window when cooking or washing dishes or showering, or run an exhaust fan.

4. Equip your home with mold-resistant products.

Building a new home or renovating an old one? Use mold-resistant products like mold-resistant drywall or mold-resistant Sheetrock, and mold inhibitors for paints. Traditional drywall is composed of a gypsum plaster core pressed between plies of paper. Mold-resistant drywall is paperless - the gypsum core is covered in fiberglass, making the surface highly water-resistant. Moisture-resistant drywall is especially valuable in areas prone to wetness, such as bathrooms, laundry rooms, and kitchens. Not only is traditional drywall more susceptible to mold than the paperless kind, but it is also difficult to rid of mold, and removal and replacement can be expensive. Mold-resistant gypsum board is also available; the core of the drywall is developed in such a way to prevent moisture absorption, and thus prevent mold growth.

5. Monitor humidity indoors.

The EPA recommends keeping indoor humidity between 30 and 60 percent.

You can measure humidity with a moisture meter purchased from your local hardware store. You'll also be able to detect high humidity by simply paying attention to potential problem areas in your home. Telltale signs of excessive humidity include condensation on windows, pipes, and walls. If you notice condensation, dry the surface immediately and address the source of moisture (for example, turn off a humidifier if water appears on the inside of nearby windows).

6. Direct water away from your home.

If the ground around your home isn't sufficiently sloped away from the foundation, water may collect there and seep into your crawlspace or basement.

7. Clean or repair roof gutters.

A mold problem might be a simple matter of a roof that is leaking because of full or damaged gutters. Have your roof gutters cleaned regularly and inspected for damage. Repair them as necessary, and keep an eye out for water stains after storms that may indicate a leak.

8. Improve air flow in your home.

According to the EPA, as temperatures drop, the air can hold less moisture. Without good air flow in your home, that excess moisture may appear on your walls, windows and floors. To increase circulation, open doors between rooms, move furniture away from walls, and open doors to closets that may be colder than the rooms they're in. Let fresh air in to reduce moisture and keep mold at bay.

9. Keep mold off household plants.

They're beautiful and help keep your indoor air clean - and mold loves them. The moist soil in indoor plants is a perfect breeding ground for mold, which may then spread to other areas of your house. Instead of getting rid of your plants, try adding a bit of Taheebo tea to the water you give to your houseplants. The oil of this tree, which withstands fungi even in rain forests, helps hinder mold growth in plant soil and can be found at natural food stores.
Finally, educate yourself on our climate - it's hot and wet here in the South - quite different from the cold and wet Northeast, the hot and dry Southwest, or the cold and dry West - understand how it responds to moisture. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to mold prevention. Knowing what works for your climate and your home is an important first step. As I mentioned before, never leave your home for an extended period without calling us and instating a weekly home watch regimen.

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Hurricane Season

hurricaneThe official hurricane season begins on June 1st and ends December 1st.

Global Weather Oscillations (GWO]) says the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season will be stronger than last year, and it will be the most dangerous and costliest in 12 years for the United States.

GWO has issued the most accurate preseason predictions of any organization the past 8 years, including last years' prediction that the "Atlantic Basin" (which includes the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico) - would enter a Climate Pulse Hurricane Enhancement Cycle in 2016.

David Dilley, Senior Meteorologist correctly predicted 8 months in advance that GWO's prediction zones for the Florida Panhandle and Florida's East Coast northward to North Carolina - would experience hurricane and/or strong tropical storm conditions in 2016, with multiple strikes likely.

I'm reminded of the Girl Scout and Boy Scout motto, which is relevant as we approach the 2017 storm season "Be Prepared".

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STORM WATCH

stormAlways Home is the only licensed real estate company in Sarasota that has an extensive Storm Watch program.

Our program is professionally run with extensive crew selection, training and supervision - ensuring our members' shutters are installed properly and immediately upon a storm watch.

For a community to qualify for the Storm Watch program we require a minimum of ten members. Each participant in the program is required to have an inspection inventory conducted by our crew chief in advance of Storm Watch activation. We have found that in 80% of all inventories either parts or shutters are missing or installation problems occur. This the reason for an inventory.

When we are alerted to a storm watch or alert we call you and ask permission to install your shutters. Our prices are 50% or less of those you try to call before a storm. Be Prepared this year. Your home is one of your largest investments - protect it!

Current members - Ensure we have your current mobile number, email address and your annual membership is paid. If you do not wish to pay by credit card - leave a check for your contract amount in your garage in the event of a storm.

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