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How to Identify and Prevent Mold & Asbestos When Renovating

In warmer months, home and business owners’ thoughts often turn to property improvements. Many intend to do the work themselves, tackling the front yard with an electric lawn mower or refinishing the kitchen cabinets. Understanding the possible difficulties that can be caused by discovering mold or asbestos in a property before you begin will aid property improvement work.

Both mold and asbestos pose serious risks to health, the structure of the building, and its resale value. Below are some tips for responding to a discovery of either mold or asbestos in your property.

The Dangers of Mold and Asbestos

Both mold and asbestos pose a serious risk to respiratory health. Mold can cause blocked nasal passages, throat and eye irritations, and, in some, skin reactions. Mold is especially harmful to those with breathing and lung conditions such as asthma and other chronic lung illnesses.

If you find mold in your home or place of business, it needs to be cleared away as soon as possible. The moisture problem causing the mold must be fixed to avoid it from returning in the future.

Asbestos is a dangerous material that is still used in fireproofing and roofing materials today. Health warnings issued in the 1970’s about the links between asbestos and lung cancers and other chronic respiratory conditions have resulted in strict guidelines on how asbestos can be used.

However, it is essential that DIYers and contractors hired to renovate or redecorate buildings are aware that asbestos is likely to be found in roofing tiles or areas that require fireproofing. This includes inside chimneys, garbage chutes, and other fire-prone areas of a home or building.

Detecting Mold and Asbestos in a Building

Mold is often discovered in the process of lifting carpets, knocking down walls or removing tiles from bathrooms. Occasionally, the substance is found on window frames and the corners of ceilings. In these cases, the mold should be cleaned away and the source of moisture located and repaired to prevent its return.

Mold can be detected by smell and sight. A musty, mildew smell can indicate mold is hidden somewhere in your home – possibly under carpets or behind furniture on walls.

Mold comes in a variety of types. Generally speaking, the mold found in homes will be grey or black and one of a number of different varieties. If you are concerned the mold found in your property is toxic, it is advisable to carry out mold testing. Special precautions should also be taken, such as wearing protective clothing and quarantining the area with poly sheeting to prevent its spread.

Asbestos is harder to identify and becomes dangerous when the fibers are exposed. If your home or office was built prior to 1980, it is safe to assume it will contain asbestos in any number of different areas from ceilings to floors and below.

Being aware of thelikely places you will find asbestos, such as bathrooms, basements and roofs, is an essential part of identifying asbestos. Typically, products containing asbestos have a slightly dimpled texture and uneven surface. It is also important to understand that asbestos poses no immediate threat as long as the materials containing it are in good condition.

Removing Mold and Asbestos From Your Home and Preventing Their Return

On non-porous materials such aswalls, doors and windows frames, mold can be removed by wiping the surface with an over the counter mold control substance. The space should then be treated with a mold and mildew inhibitor.

For porous areas, such as carpets and wood frames, mold is more difficult to remove. In such instances, the affected areas may have to be professionally cleaned or removed and replaced. When removing mold affected items, protective clothing including face masks and gloves should be worn. Moldy items should be double-bagged and the area closed off to prevent the spread of spores.

Before replacing any items, the cause of the mold (like leaks or humidity levels above 70%) must be addressed to avoid its return. Leaks should be fixed as soon as they are discovered and humidity levels can be combated with a dehumidifier or improved ventilation in affected areas.

Discovering asbestos can be alarming, but it is important not to panic. Materials containing asbestos that are in good condition should be left in place and checked regularly for deterioration as there is no immediate danger present.

If materials containing asbestos are in poor condition or need to be removed, it is strongly advised that professionals with the appropriate knowledge, experience, and tools are called to do this work. Materials containing asbestos should never be dusted, swept, vacuumed, sawn into, sanded, or scraped. Any of these activities will release the tiny fibers that cause severe respiratory health issues if inhaled.


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