February 2004 Edition

Is Mold A Threat?

Medical experts and building scientists agree that mold is not a widespread health risk. But remediation, related lawsuits and insurance exclusions have made the toxic-mold crisis big business. Mold hysteria is being fueled by pictures of remediators in white suits and respirators. But unless you're allergic or have a weakened immune system, small quantities of mold are not a health risk. It’s the rising costs of remediation that might make you sick.
This conclusion was reached at "Mold, Moisture, Misery and Money," a symposium held in Washington, D.C., last June, sponsored by The Building Environment & Thermal Envelope Council (www.nibs.org).

Mold 1

To put the crisis into perspective, it helps if you understand the conditions that cause mold problems. For mold spores to reproduce and thrive, they need three things: food, favorable temperatures and water. An average wall cavity provides two of the three. Controlling the third, water, is the best defense against mold growth.
Unfortunately, many people focus on the mold, not the water. Because most insurance doesn’t cover mold damage, people are turning to builders, architects and engineers, and filing lawsuits in an attempt to escape remediation and repair costs. According to Pete Fowler, a general contractor and mold remediator from California. when third parties, including lawyers and mold investigators, become involved, water problems often remain unfixed, mold continues to grow, and the price tag on the problem rises exponentially.
Insurance that covers mold damage and pays for repairs is available but is hard to find and expensive. Builders who are able to find an underwriter to cover mold claims can expect to pay exorbitant premiums. More information is available at the Environmental Risk Resources website (www.erraonline.org).
If your home has a mold problem, fix it quickly. For small amounts of mold (less than 10 square feet), all the protective gear you need is latex gloves and a dust mask. You can wash off most surfaces with soap and water. Discard moldy drywall and, most importantly, investigate and repair the water problems that allowed mold to grow in the first place.

Source: Daniel S. Morrison, Fine Homebuilding October/November 

More On Mold?

Doctors not buying into toxic-mold scare

Mold 2

After examining the current scientific knowledge about molds and the mycotoxins that some molds produce, a group of physicians associated with the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) has concluded that most of us have nothing to worry about. In the summary of their report, published October 2, 2002, the researchers state: "Current scientific evidence does not support the proposition that human health has been adversely affected by inhaled mycotoxins in home, school or office environments." Even if mold won’t kill us, the authors are not suggesting that anyone ignore it. "Mold growth should not be tolerated," the report says. "Mold physically destroys the buildings on which it grows, mold growth is unsightly and may produce offensive odors, and mold is likely to sensitize and produce allergic responses in allergic individuals." The authors recommend that the best way to prevent mold— as well as bacterial growth and dust-mite infestation—is to eliminate water intrusion and to control indoor-humidity levels. The full report, titled Adverse Human Health Effects Associated with Molds in the Indoor Environment, can be downloaded from www.acoem.org.
Editor's Note: The information on mold does not necessarily represent the views of this organization and is given for informational purposes only. It is up to each individual to determine the level of hazard mold represents and the appropriate action to take.

Light Bulbs Burnout?

 We have recessed lights over our kitchen counters and a light bulb goes out every week or two. What can we do to make the bulbs last longer?
This is a very common problem. Finding the solution may take a while. There are at least five possible causes.

Light Bulb

  • Are you using bargain brand light bulbs? Better quality bulbs will last longer. Look for the average life printed on the package and compare.
  • Are your lights overheating? Do the light fixtures have insulation around the housing that can be trapping excess heat. Only recessed light fixtures labeled "IC" for insulated ceilings can have insulation around the fixtures. If not rated, remove the insulation 8 inches away from the metal housing.
  • Is there excessive vibration around the light fixtures? If the problem is vibrations, try using light bulbs that are rated for rough service (RS). Rough service bulbs offer greater support and bracing for the filament inside the bulb to reduce the effect of jolts and vibrations.
  • Another cause could be excessive voltage in your electrical service. If you have higher voltage coming into your home, this could raise your 120 volt service to 125 volts. This could dramatically shorten the life of an average light bulb. Try purchasing 130 volt bulbs which should be able to handle the excess voltage.
  • The last issue could be a grounding problem. Sometimes rodents, such as squirrels, can chew through the braided aluminum grounding conductor coming from a telephone pole. This can cause the lights to blink or dim which can damage the bulb filaments. If this is the case, a licensed electrician should check the service ground.
Both rough service and 130 volt bulbs can be purchased at Lowe's or Home Depot.

If you have a question, change of address, comment, home tip or would like to send Home Tips to your clients, send your letter to Home Tips, Christian Building Inspectors, Inc., 3697 Habersham Lane, Duluth, Georgia 30096. You can E-Mail your questions to us at rodharrison@christianbuildinginspectors.com. We reserve the right to edit questions for length.

Quote Of The Month

"I Wasn't lucky. I deserved it."

Margaret Thatcher 

A Tip Of The Hat To:

Roy Holman

Re/Max Of Atlanta

2131 Pleasant Hill Road

Duluth, Georgia 30096

**** Thank You****

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