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Stack Effect? Say What?

We’ve said it a hundred times; you can’t have a mold problem without first having a moisture problem. Mold needs moisture to grow and that’s all there is to it. You can’t have mold without water. So if your house has no water leaks, you shouldn’t worry about mold, right? Nope. It’s easy to focus on leaky plumbing or flooded basements as sources of moisture, but don’t forget about the air circulating throughout your home. It carries moisture in the form of water vapor and humidity throughout the HVAC systems, exhaust fans, and living spaces in your home. That moisture can lead to mold growth due to something called the stack effect.

 

 

Never heard of stack effect? Long story short, it is the pattern of air flow throughout a building based on temperature and structure. During colder months, cold air is pulled in close to the ground through basements, crawlspaces and air leaks along the main level. That air replaces warm indoor air as it rises to the upper levels and attic of the home.  In warmer months, just the opposite occurs. Warm air is pulled in through the attic, upper level air leaks and other sources. As that air cools, it flows to lower levels and new, warmer air is pulled in to replace it. All that sounds fine right? For the most part, it’s not a terrible thing. It can lead to some energy loss depending on severity of air leaks and may explain some temperature differences between living spaces. It’s the moisture part of the equation that causes the problems.

As air enters and leaves your home, the temperature differences between the inside and outside air can cause condensation and high humidity. That’s typically all the moisture you need to feed a mold problem and why mold frequently grows in attics, crawlspaces and basements. They are the entrance and exits points for air due to stack effect. They are also the places we tend to spend the least amount of time; so mold can grow unchecked and out of control. It’s important to periodically check all areas of your home for signs of moisture or mold concerns.  If you spot something that causes concern or want us to do the checking for you, we are happy to help.

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No Mold At Mammaws

Chances are good that the senior citizens in your life value their independence and have opted to stay in their home for as long as they are able to do so. Thankfully, advances in in-home care, adaptive equipment and technology have made that possible for so many people. However, there are some things that can’t replace the presence of someone that cares. If that person is you, please take the extra time to check in and spend some time with your elderly friends, family members and neighbors. Check on them and their homes especially after periods of heavy or consistent rain, bouts of extreme temperatures, and if you notice a decline in home maintenance.  Here are some of the most common situations we encounter and how you can help.

 

  1. Check the basement. Limited mobility may mean difficulty accessing basements or upper levels. Explore unoccupied levels for water leaks, high humidity and mold growth. Chances are, they are storing a lifetime of memories in their home. The lack of air flow and dust associated with those items can provide an excellent environment for mold growth.
  2. Check the temperature. Seniors are more sensitive to changes in temperature and may prefer their thermostat set a little higher. This may lead to above average humidity levels and encourage mold growth, especially in areas that aren’t frequently used or get less fresh air. On the other hand, it is common for seniors to avoid turning up the thermostat or using air conditioning to save money. These habits can lead to frozen pipes in the winter and high humidity in the summer. Encourage indoor temperatures appropriate for the season and aim for a relative humidity between 35- 55%.
  3. Walk the perimeter. Clogged or damaged gutters, downspouts not extending away from the house, and outside drainage issues are a common cause of interior water issues. Left unchecked those leaks become moldy basements, crawlspaces, attics and bedrooms.
  4. Open the windows. If you notice a musty smell, open the windows and bring in some fresh air. Excess dust and a lack of air flow can make a home smell musty. If you notice that the smell returns quickly or doesn’t seem to diminish after increasing circulation it may be time to look for moisture issues and mold growth.
  5. Be observant. Our understanding of the risks associated with mold exposure has come a long way in the last 20 years. Many seniors still may be of the mindset that mold is harmless and can easy be cleaned with bleach. They may be surrounded my mold and not understand the risks to their health. If they do recognize the risks, they may believe that remediation is far too costly or could jeopardize their ability to stay in their home.

 

If you spot areas of concern don’t hesitate to call Green Home Solutions for an honest and accurate mold assessment. Dealing with a mold problem can feel overwhelming for anyone, especially for seniors that have the added concerns of housing and fixed income. We pride ourselves on customer service that listens, educates and provides affordable solutions for everyone.

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Moldy Misconceptions

If there is one thing we’ve learned during our years in business it is undoubtedly that mold is widely misunderstood. We’ve met so many wonderful homeowners that have been misled about the extent of their mold problem. We’ve also met many disappointed homeowners that underestimated their mold problem and its impact on their wellbeing.

While every home and every person is unique, there are some universal mold truths and we think it’s important that you know them.

  1. Mold type cannot be identified on sight. There are hundreds of different types of mold. Some are known to be toxic and some are not. They come in a variety of colors and textures. Just because a mold is black in color does not mean it is “black mold”. The only way to determine mold type is through mold testing.
  2. Bleach is a bad idea. Bleach on porous surfaces like drywall, wood, fabrics, etc. can actually encourage more mold growth. The chlorine in bleach can remove some of the surface mold on porous surfaces but that chlorine is quickly used up and loses its effectiveness. What’s left of bleach when the chlorine is gone? Water. Bleach is largely made of water and guess what loves water? Mold! The water found in bleach is absorbed into the surface you are cleaning and actually feeds the root of the mold problem you’re fighting. See? Bleach is a bad idea.
  3. New or “clean” houses don’t have mold. Mold doesn’t care how often you mop your floor or when your house was built. Can keeping a tidy house help prevent a mold problem? Sure it can. Avoiding clutter and cleaning water spills or leaks quickly are good ways to prevent mold growth in your home but sometimes mold just happens. New homes can actually be more susceptible to mold growth caused by high humidity because they are built to such high energy efficiency standards that they don’t “breathe” well.

Mold growth can be tricky to understand and it’s not typically something anyone spends time thinking about until they have a problem. We get it and we understand mold remediation is never something you budget for. We are here to help. If you have questions, we’re happy to talk through the options for a mold inspection, remediation or testing. If you think you’ve been misinformed, reach out and we’ll do our best to help. Lastly, we promise never to suggest more remediation than is necessary and we will continue doing everything possible to keep our pricing fair and affordable.

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Deck the Halls, We Will Deck The Allergens

It’s that time of year again! The leaves have all fallen, the winter coats are out and we’re all heading indoors to stay warm while preparing for the holiday season. There are lots of things to love about these colder months from holiday decorations and more time with family, to cozy fires and hot chocolate. However, just as synonymous with these colder months are stuffy noses, coughs and all the joys of flu season.

We like to blame our winter colds and allergy symptoms solely on the colder weather and the spreading of germs that goes hand in hand with spending more time indoors, but there is more to the story and it begins with indoor air quality.

When temperatures drop we head indoors, where we spend about 90% of our time. Closing the windows and turning on the heat result in more warmth for us, but can cause a significant decline in our indoor air quality. The molds, dust, pet dander and other allergy triggers that cause us to suffer are trapped inside with us all winter long. Those molds find their way inside on our fresh cut or stored Christmas trees, the greenery we drape over the fireplace and on our shoes as we walk through the decaying leaves outside. The decorations we bring out of storage are likely covered in a healthy layer of dust and if you have pets, you’ll experience an increase in pet dander as our pets spend less time outside.

All of these factors and many, many more like the cleaning supplies we use and the candles we burn can have a negative impact on the air quality in your home. Combine these irritants with the natural uptick in cold and flu symptoms during the colder months and your chances of sneezing your way through the holiday season dramatically increase.

Green Home Solutions has a variety of safe, affordable products and services that can help you breathe easy this winter.

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What You Need to Know About Snow in Your Crawl Space

Crawl spaces are built below ground level, so unless they are properly designed and maintained, they will allow groundwater in on a regular basis. The presence of water in your crawl space is due to excess water pressure from the melted snow. This then is pushed through the cracks in your home’s foundation that are already existent. Not only can numerous moisture problems like rot, mold, and decay occur, but also major structural damage to the foundation. Snow can ultimately be the reason that the structural integrity of your home has faltered. The design of crawl spaces is not capable of withstanding perpetual dampness, which is why deterioration occurs.

Crawl spaces are not impervious to the effects of moisture, and tend to suffer worse in the winter. As the snow melts, a variety of issues can arise including drainage problems and intensifying leaks. A damp environment can make your crawl space susceptible to mold, mildew, as well as attracting insects to your house. It should be a top priority to repair any damage to your crawl space so your home is kept safe. Mold removal is another urgent issue that should be taken care of as soon as possible.

Even if you do not utilize your crawl space, the effects of water damage can extend to your home. The mere existence of condensation in crawl spaces has the ability to spawn dangerous mold and warp hardwood floors on the level above. This means that the destruction from melting snow will be able to cause greater harm to your house. Since your crawl space is not easily accessible, it can be hard to monitor the condition of it. If you are trying to sell your home, this can seriously limit your chances of finding a buyer. Depending on the damage sustained in your crawl space, it can turn away prospective home buyers from considering your place.

There are ways to eliminate any snow from seeping into your crawl space, and keep it dry throughout the year. Correct runoff and drainage systems can direct water away from your home, but water can still make its way by. A sump pump will lead water away from your home with a pump. A vapor barrier provides protection against the elements to keep the area free from water. It also has the benefit of reducing your home’s energy costs as well. For the best results, enlist experts who can properly seal your crawl space so weather will have no affect during the next winter.

If your home is in need of mold removal, Green Home Solutions can be of service. We specialize in eliminating mold and mildew by utilizing safe and effective methods. Our treatments are eco-friendly, so you do not have to worry about any negative effects to the environment. We work quickly to locate the source of the contamination and fix the underlying moisture issue.  Our business provides service to all of Central Kentucky, including Lexington, Versailles, Georgetown, and Nicholasville. Call us today to schedule an appointment for a home consultation.

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Will Your Live Christmas Tree Affects Your Home’s Air Quality

Christmas trees are the symbol of Christmas. They are topped with a star, covered in pretty lights and ornaments, and filling your home with the woodsy scent of pine. Between 25 and 30 million live Christmas trees are purchased every holiday season. Christmas trees will always be a widely used and beautiful Christmas décor item, but they can have an impact on the air quality in your home. At Green Home Solutions, serving all of Central Kentucky, including Lexington, Versailles, Georgetown, and Nicholasville, we want to show you how a live Christmas tree can affect your home’s air quality and help keep your holiday season worry-free when it comes to your tree.

Mold and Your Christmas Trees

Most Christmas trees are pre-cut weeks in advance and then delivered to Christmas tree retailers in refrigerated trucks. This transportation process involves bundling the tree so it is as small as possible for transport and then exposing it to the cool moisture inside a refrigerated area. Unfortunately, this makes an ideal environment for mold to begin growing. When Christmas trees are later opened up in your home the mold begins to reproduce and multiply rapidly, and within a few weeks mold spores can be out of control. In addition to producing a large amount of mold in a relatively short time frame, live Christmas trees can also be home to a large variety of mold types. Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Cladosporium are all common molds found in trees that are very likely to trigger allergies. The longer you keep a live Christmas tree in your home, more mold spores will be produced.

Pollen and Your Christmas Tree

Fortunately, live Christmas trees are not an issue for pine pollen. Unfortunately, live Christmas trees are frequently exposed to grasses and ragweed, which cause allergy issues for a large number of people. When live Christmas trees are unpacked in your home their sap, which holds pollen spores, dries out. The dried sap is what releases these other pollens into the air in your home.

Air Quality Control

While live Christmas trees do pose an issue for the air quality in your home, there are a number of ways that you can prevent air quality issues during the holidays. This may not be an option for some individuals, but buying a tree that is freshly cut or that you cut yourself, helps decrease the potential for mold growth. Before you bring a live tree into your home, thoroughly clean the trunk of with water and bleach. Remove as many pollen grains and mold spores as possible by leaf blowing your tree outside before it comes into your home. Lastly, if you are still concerned about air control issues consider calling the experts at Green Home Solutions for air testing or to set up an appointment to help improve the air quality of your home during the holiday months. At Green Home Solutions, we can help you achieve the best air quality in your home while providing you with outstanding customer service and reliable personal attention. Contact our team of experienced professionals today.

 

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What You Need to Know About Indoor Allergies This Winter

Allergies are not just a problem in the summer, as indoor allergies can plague you in the winter too. Here are some common triggers of indoor allergies.

The most common aggravator of allergy and asthma symptoms is dust mites, which are miniscule insects. They thrive in environments of high humidity and temperatures. Dust mites prefer soft furnishings, like bedding, but can be found virtually anywhere in your home. They do not bite, so you will not be left with any puncture marks. Washing your bedding every seven to ten days in 130 degree temperatures, will help ward off dust mites. It is recommended to use allergen-proof encasings for your pillows, box springs, and mattresses.

Your pet can be the source of your indoor allergies. Hypoallergenic dogs and cats do not exist, so it is important to find out if you’re allergic before getting a pet. The dander pets shed can trigger symptoms for those who are allergic. If you already have a pet, try to minimize contact, and keep them from areas you spend lots of time. Vacuuming often can help, as well as replacing carpet with hardwood, linoleum, or tile flooring. For long-term relief, speak with your allergist about allergy immunotherapy.

The growth of indoor mold typically thrives in dark and damp environments, such as basements or bathrooms. Any moisture leaks can also produce mold. Leaky roofs or pipes should be repaired and sealed. Dehumidifiers can be useful in high humidity areas. Basements should not have carpet flooring because in the event of flooding, the carpet will retain the moisture. Proper ventilation and cleaning will deter the growth of mold. Once mold or mildew is present, it releases tiny spores that cause indoor allergy symptoms. If the mold spreads over a ten square feet area, it is time to contact a professional.

Cockroaches may be the source of your allergy problem in the winter. They are more prevalent in cities and in the southern United States. According to the EPA, cockroaches are a big instigator of asthma within the inner-city population. Allergens are found within the feces and saliva of this pest. If you have only seen one cockroach in your home, that traditionally means more are present. Make sure all your food is kept in sealed containers, and promptly clean up after eating. Leaky pipes and faucets should be fixed immediately, as the cockroaches will rely on this water to survive.

The symptoms of allergies resemble the symptoms of colds, but there are differences. Someone with indoor allergies will experience a runny nose with clear, watery secretions. Their eyes will feel itchy. The symptoms will persist for weeks rather than just seven days. The best way to discover the triggers for your allergies is to visit an allergist.

At Green Home Solutions, we can eliminate mildew, mold, and other malodorous menaces in your home. We utilize advanced, eco-friendly solutions that are able to quickly pinpoint and eradicate the issues. We are focused on performing services in an efficient and safe manner. We provide service to all of Central Kentucky, including Lexington, Versailles, Georgetown, and Nicholasville. Contact us to make an appointment today!

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How to Keep Your Home Odor-Free

odor

If you home smells less than lovely, it can be an embarrassing problem. Finding the source of the smell may prove difficult if you cannot tell where it originates. However, there are a multitude of odor removal techniques you can try.

Cooking is an easy way to have your home filled with a pleasant scent. If you have guests coming over, baking cookies or other delicious goods will distract from any bad smells. Visitors will only be able to register the yummy aromas instead. Stovetop potpourri is another option. To make this you just have to let water simmer on low heat in a small saucepan and add herbs, like mint or lavender, or orange slices. The heat will carry the delectable scent to every room. You can customize the ingredients to suit your tastes. You can also use a crockpot as the heating element instead of the stovetop. The crockpot is a safer option if you have young children in your home.

If you notice a smell permeating from your kitchen, the source may be your garbage disposal. Try pouring some lemon-scented dish soap into the disposal, allowing the water to run, and then turn it on. If the odor persists, dispense a half cup of baking soda into the disposal while warm water is running. You can make garbage disposal cubes yourself as well. Simply create a mixture of citrus and white vinegar, and allow it to freeze in an ice cube tray. Once frozen, insert the cubes into the disposal and let them melt.

There are many more tricks for odor removal in your home. You can place car deodorizers on your air vents. Simply clip the car air fresheners, from brands like Glade and Febreze, to the metal slats and wait for the air to turn on. When the vents are working, it will waft the fresh scents everywhere. Storing scented dryer sheets in random places is another option. The lovely scent from the dryer sheets should not be reserved for just the laundry room. Placing the dryer sheets in linen closets or in dressers is sure to make your house smell fresh and clean. You can use indoor plants to purify the air naturally. Not only will having plants in your home add some beauty, but it will serve a purpose as well. Palm trees, peace lilies, and orchids all have great purifying capabilities. Other plants to consider are geraniums, eucalyptus, gardenias, Arabian jasmine, and Cuban oregano.

If you are not having success in removing bad smells from your home, it may be time to consult professionals. The professionals at Green Home Solutions are experts in odor removal. TWe offer odor testing to determine the source of any mysterious odors in your home. We use innovate treatments to swiftly identify the problem and to eliminate it completely. We are focused on providing excellent customer care, so they only use safe remedies that will not affect your family. Green Home Solutions services all of Central Kentucky, including Lexington, Versailles, Georgetown, and Nicholasville.

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Mold Allergies: What You Need to Know

Mold allergies occur when your immune system has a reaction when mold spores find their way into your body. This condition can be tough to manage as fungus can grow in various places. There are 1,000 species of mold in the United States alone, some of which cannot be visually detected.

The symptoms of mold allergies coincide with the symptoms associated with upper respiratory allergies. Nasal congestion, runny nose, and sneezing can occur. Coughing and an itchy throat may be present, as well. Irritated eyes and wheezing are also possible. The symptoms can range from mild to severe and will vary between individuals. Mold spores can also trigger or exacerbate asthma symptoms.

There are several factors that can make you more susceptible to developing mold allergies. If your family has a history of asthma or allergies, you have a higher chance of having mold allergies. Your choice of occupation can be influential too. Certain fields of work have higher exposure to mold such as farming, carpentry, logging, baking, millwork, greenhouse work, furniture repair, and winemaking. If your household has humidity higher than 50%, this can increase the risk of mold. Humidity can create damp surfaces, which are the perfect environment to cultivate mold. If your home has high enough levels of mold, this can produce mold allergy symptoms. If you are living or working in a building that has surplus of moisture, this can allow mold to thrive. Flood damage, leaky plumbing, and seepage of water from rainstorms can all introduce additional moisture to the buildings. Areas that lack proper ventilation are also a factor in developing mold allergies. Ventilation helps to alleviate extra moisture from rooms.

There are various methods that can prevent or reduce the growth of mold in your household. Changing the filter on your air conditioner and furnace regularly can help. The use of a dehumidifier in high humidity areas, such as the bathroom and kitchen, can bring your humidity levels below 50%. Fixing any leaks can be a crucial step to stop the spread of mold. Groundwater seepage and leaky pipes need to be eliminated, as they are a source of unnecessary moisture. Avoid carpeting bathrooms and basements, as these are high-moisture areas, and any moisture can be trapped in the fibers of the flooring. If your home already has carpet in these rooms, it is best to remove them. It’s important that your bathroom has proper ventilation to remove lingering moisture from showers and bath. If your bathroom does not have a ventilation fan, then opening a window or door is helpful. These are just some tips to keep in mind if you wish to keep your home free of mold.

If you believe you are experiencing mold allergies, you need to have your home evaluated for mold. Green Home Solutions are experts in mold removal. Customer care is their primary focus, so you can rest assured that you will receive only the highest quality of service. They employ a treatment that offers a safe and fast approach to mold elimination. Green Home Solutions provides service to all of Central Kentucky, including Lexington, Versailles, Georgetown, and Nicholasville.

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Tips for Keeping Tabs on the Moisture in Your Home

When humid air interacts with a cooler surface, the moisture is transformed into water droplets. Showering, cooking, washing dishes, and drying clothes are all household tasks responsible for contributing moisture to the air. Droplets can build up and trickle down onto windows, walls, and structural components. This can cause rot and paint to peel, not to mention providing a suitable habitat for mold and mildew to flourish. It’s important to limit the amount of moisture in your home in order to lessen the chances of damage occurring.

Winter is a perfect opportunity for moisture to occur. The mixture of freezing outside temperatures and the heater keeping the home warm can cause moisture to materialize. Storm doors and windows help create separation between the interior and exterior. Windows that have double-or triple-panes will add greater insulation than just singular pane windows. This would be a smart investment, not only to limit moisture production but to help your home conserve energy. Another winter time tip is to keep your curtains open to allow warmth to reach the window. This may lead to some condensation, but it’s less likely to collect in the presence of better circulation. Make sure to fit your cold-water pipes with insulation for the summer time, the difference in temperature can lead to moisture as well.

Having an air tight sealed home is an important step to keeping moisture away. Weather-stripping and caulking will keep humid air from infiltrating the house, and will improve energy efficiency. However this method will reduce airflow exiting the home as well, so if moisture is present it cannot leave. Your heating and cooling system can be a valuable tool in helping moisture levels. Gas and electric furnaces supply dry heat into rooms and thus diminish the amount of humidity. The air conditioning provides this service too, with cool air instead. Having proper air flow is essential for these systems to have an impact, so make sure that your registers are fully opened and not obstructed. It’s also crucial for the systems to be inspected and receive maintenance frequently.

There are a few other approaches to keep your home from being susceptible to mold. Installing vents in the kitchen, restroom, and other high humidity places can be helpful. If your home has crawl spaces, covering the ground with a plastic vapor barrier can be beneficial. Keeping certain houseplants such as Boston ferns, can draw moisture out of the air. If no other methods are alleviating the moisture problem, placing a dehumidifier in the troubled area is sure to help.

It’s important to lower the moisture levels to spare your home from bacteria and mold. If you are worried that your home may have moisture related problems, contact Green Home Solutions. They are a locally, family owned business that prides themselves on excellent customer service and tremendous work ethic. They exclusively use products safe for families and pets, so you can rest assured that the chemicals pose no danger. Green Home Solutions is available by appointment and provide service to all of Central Kentucky, including Lexington, Versailles, Georgetown, and Nicholasville.