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Coronavirus Lockdown, Is it All Bad?

7 positive Changes We Should Continue

We live in a busy world. Our schedules are filled with jobs, meetings, calls, hobbies, friends, and the list goes on and on. We Wake up early, rush around all day, come home late, hit the hay and do it all again the next day. Amidst all this noise and chaos, it’s easy to forget to stop, take a breath and smell the roses. This pandemic has caused a lot of headaches and commotion in our lives and a lot of pain in others. Is it all bad though? Here are seven things the coronavirus lockdown has forced us to do that I think we should all consider making permanent.

Spend more time with family

In our normal lives, it’s easy to neglect spending time with family. We make excuses like “I’m too busy” or “It’s been a long day, I’m tired”. Now we can’t make excuses. The world has been turned off and we have been told to stay home. Many have filled this extra time by consuming news and complaining about the situation, but others have taken this opportunity to spend time with their family and make the most of it. They are putting old board games to use, dusting off the basketball, and settling in for a nice movie night. The sad part is that as soon as this lockdown is over, people will revert to their normal lives and the excuses that come with it. Instead of doing that,  let’s make an effort to prioritize family time like we prioritize a work meeting.

 

Go for a walk

“The gym is closed! Orangetheory shutdown! What will I do?”. Yes I know we are all used to our nice air conditioned gyms with excessive amounts of equipment but this situation has a positive side as well. The amount of people I have seen out for a walk over the past couple of weeks has been nothing short of amazing. It’s not only walks either. I’ve seen people on bike rides, hiking, working out outside etc. People are putting away the screens and enjoying nature and I hope it’s something we can continue.

Develop new skills

What a wonderful time it has been to learn something new. You have nothing to do and nowhere to go, so why not hop on youtube and learn something new. During this lockdown I’ve seen everything from people learning to knit, to people learning to do a handstand. In our busy lives it is easy to become stagnant and not learn anything new but I challenge you to learn a new skill every 2-3 months even after the lockdown is over.

Save money for the next emergency

This crisis has taught us a lot about money, and it has definitely shown us that a lot of people were not financially prepared for an emergency. It’s hard to blame anyone because of how extreme and unprecedented this situation has been but it is something we can learn from to be better prepared for the next one. People have been forced to take inventory of their expenses and prioritize needs and wants. Now most people should have an idea of the minimum amount of money they should need in case of an emergency and can prepare for the next one.

Lend a helping hand

One of the most amazing things to come out of this pandemic is to witness the generosity and kindness of people. Sure we fight and argue a lot with each other about politics, religion, work etc. but when things get tough, we look out for one another. We make meals for the less fortunate, lend money to a neighbor to get them through the month, go to the grocery for an elderly person so they don’t have to leave their house and so on. I challenge anyone reading this to not make these acts of kindness exclusive to crisis but routine in everyday life.

 

Shop with local and small businesses

If one thing is evident, it’s that a worldwide lockdown is detrimental to the Small businesses. The larger companies have the resources to stay afloat, whereas some of these small businesses survive due to the business of people in the local community. Seeing the support and help people have extended to local businesses and the generous steps some of these businesses have taken to ensure the financial stability and health of their employees has been amazing to witness.

 

Stock up on toilet paper

To be honest with you, I’m not sure if I’m typing this as a joke or not….But maybe having a couple months supply of toilet paper isn’t such a bad idea.

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Reactive Disinfection vs Routine Disinfection

Reactive disinfection

Reactive disinfection includes disinfecting an area as a response to the area being contaminated by an infected individual. The disinfection process would undergo standard protocols and disinfect the entire area regardless of what the infected individual did or did not touch. The reason for this is because cross contamination can happen very easily. For example imagine the infected individual (we will call him john) coughed into his hand and proceeded to pour himself a cup of coffee from the pot in the breakroom. Ten minutes later Susan comes along and pours herself a cup. Now not only do the things that John touched need to be disinfected, but  the things Susan touched as well. For these reasons it is very important to disinfect an entire area to prevent the spread of contaminants.

Routine disinfection

Routine disinfection is similar to reactive disinfection in the protocol but different in the overarching objective. Like reactive, routine disinfection uses standard disinfection protocols to disinfect an entire area rather than just common touch points. The difference lies in the thought process behind the two. Reactive disinfection is exactly that, reactive. Routine, however, is implemented to “maintain” a healthy environment rather than “restore” an already contaminated one. A routine disinfection would include regular disinfection of things like phones and door knobs, as well as semi-regular and thorough professional disinfection.

The residual effect

When developing a disinfection plan and selecting a product or company, residual effect is something that you should pay attention to. The residual effect is the ability for a disinfectant to continue working long after it has been applied. For example Green Home solutions use an Enzymatic hospital grade disinfectant. The plant based enzymes in the product will continue to work as long as there is organic material ( bacteria, pathogens, mold etc.) to breakdown. The enzyme treatment is known as an active or catalytic treatment meaning they continue to work after initial delivery. Chemicals are typically stoichiometric, meaning they are consumed up all at once with no residual effect. Finding a product with some residual benefits can help maintain a healthy environment especially when coupled with a routine disinfection strategy.

Which is better for me?

As with most things, the answer depends. Germs spread easier in some environments than in others. For example the risk level of a gym is higher than the risk level of a cubicle style office. In a gym there is an excess of metal surfaces and  people are constantly picking things up that other people just put down. If you work in a cubicle style office space, there are fewer common touch points than in a gym. Things like the printer, door knobs etc. would have a few people touching them a few times a day, whereas in a gym that dumbbell you just picked up could have been touched by 50 people in the last few hours alone.

 

The safest bet when it comes to disinfection would be to use the routine method. With this method, not only do you disinfect areas after a known contamination has occured, you also disinfect areas that have been contaminated by someone who didn’t know they were contagious. Researchers conducted a study by randomly selecting 249 people. These people were observed and it was noted how often they touched common objects and how often they touched their face. The researchers found that the subjects typically touched common objects about 3.3 times per hour and their face about 3.6 times per hour. You may find it tough to track contamination across the many points of contact in your building and nearly impossible to know the exposure people had before coming into the building. With that being said, it just depends on the specific environment. Some factors to consider are types of surfaces, amount of traffic, open floor plan or private offices etc. Talking to an expert like Green Home Solutions can never hurt and as a general rule of thumb, better safe than sorry.

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6 Healthy Habits to Continue After Coronavirus Lockdown is Over

If there is one thing this pandemic has shown us, it is the importance of cleanliness and hygiene. All of the trivial things your mom told you to do as a kid apply now more than ever. Many people are focused on the coronavirus and how to stop it (as they should be) but this wasn’t the first virus and it certainly won’t be the last. This article will outline six healthy habits you should continue even after this virus has passed.

 

Wash Hands before you leave the house and as soon as you get home.

The goal is to wash your hands as frequently as possible. Wash your hands after leaving any place and after using the bathroom. The problem is there is not always a place to do so or you just forget. This is why washing your hands before you leave your house and as soon as you get home is a good minimum to shoot for. Washing your hands before you leave the house limits the pathogens and germs in your house from being transmitted to people outside your home. Washing your hands as soon as you get home limits the transmission of germs or pathogens from the outside world to your home.

 

Limit touching people outside your home

Yes we all love a good hug or a good handshake but, if at all possible, limit those actions to as few people as possible. Certain viruses and pathogens, like the coronavirus, are easily transmitted. A good way to slow transmission is to limit unnecessary contact with others.

 

Carry hand sanitizer with you or in your car

This follows along the same lines as washing your hands frequently. Having a bottle of hand sanitizer on hand or in your car can make it easy to keep your hands clean when moving from place to place. This not only helps prevent the transmission of disease to you but also from you.

 

Regular temperature checks

As you’ve probably heard from the CDC, members of the coronavirus task force, and people who work in the medical profession, regular temperature checks are a quick and easy way to help gauge potential infection and prevent the spread of viruses. While it’s not the most effective, considering people can be contagious without running a fever, the quickness and simplicity of it are well worth the benefits, even if they may be limited.

 

Avoid touching your face

DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE. As hard as this can be, it is very important to be aware of it. The less often you touch your face, the fewer opportunities there will be for a virus to infect you before you get the chance to wash your hands. It’s a simple concept that can be hard to put into practice but try your best.

 

Disinfect homes and offices frequently

Disinfect the places you spend a lot of time on a REGULAR BASIS. Ideally you would disinfect the office anytime you or someone else left and/or came in but we all know that is unrealistic. Try to disinfect things as you use them and keep your hands clean to help limit the need for other disinfection. We at Green Home Solutions recommend at MINIMUM, a thorough cleaning and disinfection once every three months.

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Your Crawlspace Misses You

Crawlspace Image

When was the last time you were inside your crawlspace? Six months? A year or longer? Crawlspaces are often the most neglected areas in a home. They are expected to be dirty, wet and an altogether unpleasant place to spend time. So much energy is spent focusing on maintenance of interior spaces that the crawlspace is forgotten and its impact on the integrity of the structure and the health of those inside is overlooked. Did you know that up to 50% of the air on the first floor of a home comes from the crawlspace? Think about breathing in all that unpleasantness and what it could be doing to your health. Breathing in the dust, mold, and products of pest infestation doesn’t seem like the best way to keep you and your home healthy.

One of the most important things you can do to protect the structural integrity and air quality in your home is ensure that the space under the living area is well maintained. One of the most important aspects of a healthy crawl space is to be sure it has a functional vapor barrier installed. What is a vapor barrier? Also sometimes called a moisture barrier or crawlspace lining? A traditional vapor is a layer of plastic, usually at least 6mm thick, that covers the ground of the crawl. Its function is to limit the amount of water vapor and humidity that makes its way up from the ground. By limiting moisture, the vapor barrier prevents against mold and water damage to the structure of the home. It also discourages pests that may burrow up from the ground. Prolonged exposure to water and mold will deteriorate floor joists and supports that are critical to the home’s stability. Also consider the piping, appliances, and electrical wiring that frequently run throughout a crawlspace. Keeping these things dry are important for safety and longevity of those items.

Though they may seem unrelated, an adequate vapor barrier can also impact the attic space. (https://centralkymold.com/stack-effect-say-what/  ) The unchecked water or humidity in a crawlspace causes warm, humid air to travel up through the living space and settle into the upper levels and eventually the attic. This can cause warped flooring, sweating walls and mold growth. These problems can be further complicated when the home has fiberglass insulation installed in the crawlspace. Moisture from the ground settles in the insulation and causes it to sag and fall. Once this happens the insulation is no longer functioning properly and the exposed paper backing can become a great food source for mold. One problem always leads to another right? And for what it’s worth; we recommend no fiberglass insulation in crawl space and if you must… paper side up please!

Like most things, vapor barriers need replaced over time. The plastic can become brittle or torn due to changing temperatures, frequent exposure to ground water or pests. A seemingly minor tear in a vapor barrier can be enough to allow significant amounts of water into the space. This is problematic because the water then becomes trapped on top of the plastic with nowhere to reenter the ground. The water evaporates upwards into the home’s floors and throughout the living space. Mold requires moisture and an adequate food source like wood, paper or other organic materials in order to grow thus making a crawlspace an ideal place for it to thrive and grow unchecked. In many homes, the crawlspace is home to a furnace and ductwork. Keeping mold out of these places is important because they can and will easily circulate mold spores, dust and other unhealthy air throughout the living area. Once inside, those mold spores can find additional sources of moisture (like humid air coming up from the crawl) and food to take hold and continue thriving. Considering this, it isn’t hard to figure out why many interior mold problems often begin in the crawlspace.

We frequently take calls from concerned homeowners and potential buyers wanting to test a crawlspace for mold. Typically, we do not recommend testing a crawlspace for several reasons. A mold test is largely validated by how it compares to air samples taken outside.  Mold counts are compared to those naturally occurring in the outdoor setting to indicate if a home’s air has higher than normal occurrences. This is almost impossible to do in a vented crawlspace because of the exposure to outside air and the natural occurrence of mold in the dirt or gravel floor. Surface samples can provide some insight but not much in the way of overall crawlspace health. Surface samples consists of testing small areas of the crawlspace using an adhesive tape. Those results will indicate how much and what type of mold is present, but only in that exact spot. It is difficult to generalize those results to the crawlspace overall and the presence of some mold on those surfaces is to be expected. The best method for determining mold in a crawlspace is through visual inspection of the space. If mold is visible on several surfaces, wipes off relatively easily (unlike a stain) and can be attributed to a moisture source chances are good that the area needs remediated or steps should be taken to prevent the problem from worsening. A vapor barrier is a critical start to that process.

There are several options when considering replacing or installing a new vapor barrier. As mentioned above, a traditional barrier consists of 6mm plastic spread along the crawlspace floor. Seams are taped or overlapped depending on the space. An enhanced vapor barrier is also an option for spaces more prone to water entering along walls or foundations. This plastic is thicker (9mm reinforced) and covers the floor as well as a portion of the foundation walls. Plastic is attached along the wall but below vents to allow adequate air flow to the space. Finally, complete crawlspace encapsulation is an option for those interested in completely sealing off a space from outside air or moisture. In this case, the thick plastic covers the floor, walls and pillars. Vents are sealed to prevent outside air from entering. When encapsulating a crawlspace, it is important to take note of appliances that may be located under the home, the need for a dehumidifier, and how the home is insulated. Encapsulation is becoming the standard in new construction homes and is ideal when the right conditions are met.

For the health of your home and family, it is important to be aware of the condition of your crawlspace.  Take the time to venture under the house and look for signs of water damage, mold growth, or an inadequate vapor barrier. It can be difficult to spot problems if you aren’t sure what to look for. Keep an eye out for fallen or wet insulation and insulation that is installed paper side down. Check floor joists for evidence of water, sagging or soft spots caused by prolonged moisture exposure. Missing or torn vapor barriers. Remember, a vapor barrier that has been pulled to one side or does not cover the entire floor is a problem. Check vents to be sure they are not blocked by leaves or anything that can prevent proper air flow. Remove any trash and avoid using the space for extra storage. Trash can serve as additional food source for mold and contributes to torn and disturbed vapor barriers. If your crawlspace is prone to significant water intrusion following heavy rains or because of the home’s location consider installing a sump pump to quickly remove water. Be sure the sump pump is in location that the water will easily flow towards it and that it drains outside the crawlspace (yep, we’ve seen it) and to an area where the water will not easily reenter. Finally, inspect the crawlspace entrance to be sure it is properly closing to prevent water or animals from entering the space.  As always, if doing the crawl space army crawl isn’t your thing; call us and we’ll do the dirty work for you! We install all types of vapor barriers and can help correct mold problems that have occurred due to insufficient or lacking barriers.

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Disinfection

We know our focus is usually on mold and how it relates to indoor air quality, but believe it or not, we know a thing or two about disinfection as well. The product involved in our mold remediation process is also an EPA registered disinfectant and so we are up to speed on proper techniques and products for disinfection. We are sharing some basics with you because…you know… 

First it is important to know the difference between cleaning and disinfecting a surface. Cleaning refers to removing germs and dirt from a surface. It is helpful in preventing the spread of bacteria and germs because it reduces the quantity of those things on a surface. Disinfecting, however, refers to the use of chemicals to kill germs and bacteria on surfaces. The best approach is to clean a surface followed by disinfection. 

Always use an EPA registered product for disinfection. Pay attention to the directions on each product. Be sure to consider dwell times for each product. A general misconception is that disinfection occurs with a simple wipe and spray of a disinfection product. There are additional steps in the process. In many cases, the disinfectant should be applied to a surface and allowed to stay on that surface for a period of time before being wiped away. Always remember to protect yourself during the process as well. Follow guidelines for wearing protective gloves and limiting contact between skin and some products. Also take note of the types of surfaces on which each product is best suited. The use of peroxide-based or bleach products may stain or discolor fabrics or other porous surfaces. 

It is important to disinfect commonly touched surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, remotes, keyboards, cell phones, countertops and faucet handles, etc. on an ongoing basis. Remember that disinfection products do not provide residual benefits. Because a surface has been disinfected does not mean that it cannot be contaminated again. It may be helpful to develop a regular routine around disinfecting commonly touched surfaces with additional cleaning as needed. 

If you are considering use of a professional service for general disinfection services, there are many to choose from and doing your research on methods, products and applications can help to determine the right fit for your home or business. Ask questions about types of products, what is included in the service, required PPE, and when it is safe to enter a space following disinfection. There are lots of services to consider and each has its unique benefits. Green Home Solutions of Central Kentucky provides general disinfection services that could be the right fit for your home or business. As always, we are happy to answer questions and help in any way we can!

When it comes to disinfection, the CDC is our source, and the best source for accurate information. Follow guidelines, do your research and empower yourself! 

Read article about Clean & Disinfect

*Pertaining to COVID-19; information regarding the virus is continuously updated. Always refer to the CDC for guidelines to protect yourself and your family*

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To Test or Not To Test…

Should I test my home for mold? It’s a good question and the internet will give you plenty of confusing, panic inducing answers. In the end, it’s up to you and what gives you the peace of mind you need, but we want to provide some helpful insights to help with the decision to test for mold.

Before we get into the why’s and why nots of mold testing, it’s important to know a little about the most common types of tests. At GHS, we utilize 2 main methods for mold testing.  Air sample testing collects air in specific locations through a home or structure. The mold spores in those samples are collected on a slide and sent to a lab for analysis. The resulting report outlines the different types of mold and quantities found in those samples.  In most cases, an air sample is also taken outside the home to serve as a control for indoor results. Why the control? The CDC has not set specific parameters for what constitutes acceptable mold levels. With the exception of the presence of some toxic molds, the levels are considered acceptable if they are reasonably similar to the outdoor mold counts.  The major benefit of air testing is that it allows for general assumptions about the overall concentration of mold in a home as well as indicating problems when they are not visible.

The second most common type of mold testing is surface sampling; also called a tape sample. In this method, a sample is taken from a surface with visible or suspected mold growth. That sample is sent to a lab to determine the concentration and type of mold present. These types of tests are helpful if it is necessary to know they exact type of mold in a very specific location. These results, however, cannot be used to generalize the overall mold problem in a home.

It’s important to note that mold testing is not usually a clear pass/fail test and that many factors contribute to the decision to remediate. Each home is unique and the location, type, contents, and inhabitants have to be factored into the results. That said, a test result is always considered problematic if toxic molds are present.

We suggest conducting an air quality test for mold in the following situations;

  1. Mold is suspected but cannot be found visually.
  2. As a clearance test following mold remediation.
  3. When advised by a medical professional.
  4. If there is a history of water damage or flooding.
  5. If the occupant has unique mold sensitivities or health concerns.

 

We typically do not suggest mold testing if;

  1. Mold is visible throughout the structure (save your money for remediation!)
  2. The area is directly vented outdoors like a crawlspace or attic.
  3. You are hoping for zero mold spores (sorry, that’s impossible)

 

We understand that all this may still be confusing. Green Home Solutions is always available to answer questions and help with your decision to test or remediate.

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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.