Water Damage from Small Flooding

Water Damage from Small Flooding

Not All Water Damage is from Bad Weather

You leave for work one day, and then when you come home, you open the door and see that there is water everywhere – your home is flooded.  The water supply line to your washer burst during the day and now there is 2 or 3 inches of water on the floor throughout your house.  You need to act quickly to avoid costly water damage .  It’s not Harvey or Irma, but it is a real mess nonetheless. Here is what to do.

First – turn off the water.  You should be able to turn the valve just before that burst water supply to shut off the water.  But if it is not accessible, then you will have to find the valve for the whole house.

Next – take photos of everything as documentation for the insurance company.  And that is your third step – call your insurance agent and find out if they will send an adjuster and what they require you to do.

Get rid of that water!

Water is the stuff of life, but when it gets out of control it can create it’s own problems, even in a small-flood issue like this.  Your most important task to minimize water damage is to get everything dry within the next 48 hours to prevent the growth of mold, mildew and fungus.

If it is a large amount of water you have to deal with, the easiest solution is to call a carpet cleaner and request water extraction services. Their truck mounted machines have tremendous vacuum power and large storage tanks. They can vac up that water quickly, and may have powerful ‘air movers’ that can speed drying.

If it is not so much water, you may be able to use a shop ‘wet vacuum’ to vacuum up that water. Be aware that the reservoir is small and you will have to stop and empty the tank frequently. Remember that water is heavy!

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Keep the Air Moving

Once you have vacuumed up as much as you can, point fans at wet areas, turn the fan in your HVAC  to the ‘On’ position, borrow more fans, do everything possible to keep air moving and keep that water evaporating.

If the drywall is waterstained higher than the baseboards, you may need to remove those baseboards to check for trapped water. Hope and pray that there is no water trapped in the walls behind the baseboards!

It is absolutely crucial that you get your home dry within 48 hours or mold WILL start growing. All mold needs to grow is water. In dry condirions, spores which are floating around us everywhere, may land on the carpet. But since it is dry, nothing happens, mold does not begin to grow.  Add a bit of wetness, however, and natures little recyclers come to life and start growing resulting in water damage.

Remember that bleach DOES NOT KILL  MOLD.  It will weaken the mold and it may make it change color, but bleach does not kill mold.

SNiPER  kills mold and if you spray the air using atomizing sprayer, you can kill the spores in the air too.  SNiPER is so safe because it is not a poison.  You don’t need to wear protective gear to apply it, it doesn’t leave toxic residues, and it is non-corrosive, so you can spray it down – and walk away. Nothing could be easier.

We have several documents to help guide you in dealing with mold.

Flood Recovery

Flood Recovery

OMG Flooding

Disaster! Your home has been flooded! Two feet deep. And all that water came with a LOT of mud and muck that has started to stink. What to do? How can SNiPER or Nok-Out help with flood recovery? Restoring a home that has been flooded is an immense amount of work that is complicated by the sludge left behind because that sludge is likely to have everything from toxic chemicals to overflow from sewage ponds in it. Given that you must dry everything within 48 hours to stop the growth of mold, mildew and fungal infestations, you have a powerful need for a disinfecting odor eliminator to help you restore your home, your car, your offices. This is a perfect use for SNiPER, because with this one product, you can both disinfect and deodorize as part of flood recovery.

Disinfection

You need to disinfect not only for the nasty pathogens that may come from the sewage ponds, but also because natures little recyclers (mold, mildew, fungus) will begin growing within 48 hours if you cannot dry it out. Some – not all!  – but some of those molds are actually quite toxic and you really don’t want that stuff adding to the problems.

Odors

Many stinks in the world are of biological origin. A good example is sweat. Our perspiration is not smelly, until bacteria living in our skin start eating it. Their excrement is what stinks – not your feet! So killing or holding down the growth of biologicals can help keep horrible odors at bay.  As both a disinfectant and odor eliminator, SNiPER is perfect for flood relief, and home restoration.

How can SNiPER help my flooded home?

After you have pumped out the water, after the carpet and the upholstered furniture has all been thrown out to the curb, after the baseboards have been removed and holes poked in the drywall to allow trapped water to escape, it may well still be damp. But you can already begin spraying SNiPER even if it IS still a bit damp. Lightly spraying those damp areas that have stayed wet for 48 hours will slow the growth of biologicals and is an important part of flood recovery. It will not prevent the growth, but it can slow it down until your home has dried out further. The only thing that will stop the growth is for the area to be dry and SNiPER can retard growth enough to help prevent the entire structure being eaten by mold.

If mold has already started growing visibly, spray directly on it. (Be safe! Wear an N-95 mask, gloves and eye protection. If you start feeling ill or woozy, stop, go outside and breathe fresh air, before deciding if you can continue.) Use a soft scrub pad from the kitchen and try to scrub the crud loose, wipe it away, spray one more time and then you can walk away, leaving it to air dry naturally. If possible, use a ‘fogger’ for maximum efficiency in spraying. See below for links to many of our ‘how-to‘ articles on controlling mold.

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Why can’t I just use bleach?

Bleach doesn’t kill mold. Let me say this one more time – bleach does not kill mold. It will weaken the growth and it will make it change color, but bleach does not kill mold or the spores. SNiPER kills both – safely.

What about my furniture?

That overstuffed sofa that you like so much is likely to take several days to dry in the best of conditions. It is highly likely that mold will begin growing deep inside the stuffing where you cannot see it. Given the difficulty of drying and then removing the odor from that sludge, it is unlikely that sofa will ever be usable again. It is possible that you could clean it up, but given the demands on your time and the difficulty associated with cleaning it up, you will have to decide if it is worth trying to save it. It will certainly be a long row to hoe if you want to save it!

What about clothing? Can SNiPER save my clothes?

Yes – SNiPER or Nok-Out can be added to loads of laundry and if there is visible mold present, SNiPER will kill it. See https://www.nokout.com/Laundry-Odors.html for instructions.

Spores?

“My home is mostly dry, but still damp in some places. I know mold is growing because I can smell it. Should I worry about the spores in the air?”

Yes – you should worry! Breathing in mold spores is not a good idea. Spraying the air with SNiPER will kill the spores. A professional would use a fogger to spray the air, because this machine can create droplet sizes that are small enough to float around on the breeze. Wonderful machines, but expensive. A slower alternative is to use a common household vaporizer or a room humidifier. These can do the same thing but are very slow. We have a good article for you here.

I have a 2500 ft2 house. How much SNiPER do I need?

A very good question. And, one that is not easy to answer because it depends on so many things, such as ‘how much do you spray’?, ‘should I spray more here’? ‘am I spraying enough? or not enough’? and so on. We think that you will need around 1.5 gallons to make it around the house once spraying economically. But you may find that you need more than that.

In general, spray enough that the area becomes wet, but not so much that it runs down the wall as if you had sprayed too much paint. Do not wipe it away, instead, allow it to air dry. SNiPER is non-corrosive and will not damage the sprayed surfaces.

Sewer Bacteria

A very important consideration is the bacteria that come up out of sewers during a ‘big flooding’ event. Wherever that nasty water went – it carried those bacteria with it. These bacteria can easily pass to you if you touch something wet and then later, touch your mouth. Stop this mode of transmission by spraying interior surfaces with SNiPER.

Stay Safe!

Wear the mask (N-95) to avoid the possibility of breathing in spores and other muck. If you begin to feel ill – stop! Go outside and recover. Consider hiring a pro to do this for you. Here are symptoms to watch out for:

  • headaches
  • rashes or hives
  • eye irritation
  • nasal passage/sinus congestion or irritation
  • difficulty breathing
  • nosebleeds

Keep children away from standing water and mud, which is often contaminated with toxic chemicals and sewage. Pay attention to dangerous debris such as boards with protruding nails. Unplug all electronics and electrical devices. Make sure that gas is shut off. Avoid drinking tap water until you are sure it is drinkable again.

Some of our ‘How-to’ mold articles

https://www.nokout.com/Cleaning-Mold-and-Mildew.html
https://www.nokout.com/Get-Rid-of-Musty-smells.html
https://www.nokout.com/Basement-Mold-and-Mildew-Removal.html
https://www.nokout.com/Get-Rid-of-Black-Mold.html
https://www.nokout.com/Mold-and-Mildew-Problem.html
https://www.nokout.com/Keep-black-mold-out-of-your-shower-stall.html

More Information

https://www.epa.gov/mold/mold-cleanup-after-floods?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=
https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2017-08/documents/mold._homeowners_and_renters_guide_to_cleanup_after_disasters.pdf

To Fog, or not to Fog

To Fog, or not to Fog

Using a fogger is an excellent way to apply Nok-Out or SNiPER very efficiently.  It is especially useful when you want to apply over large areas – such as your basement, or the whole of your house. A fogger is simply an electric sprayer. A good one will be adjustable and you can  dial the droplet size up or down. Using the smallest setting, the droplets are around 15 microns across and are nearly invisible they are so small. At this size, the airborne droplets can float around on the air currents in a room.  When dialing in the larger droplet size, the volume of spray is increased and so it sprays out much greater quantity of liquid.  The larger size droplets will not ‘float’ in the air as long as the smaller size droplets.  Foggers are tools used by professionals because they allow you to be  efficient and they are fast.  Many consumers use them also, for the same reasons.

If your basement has a tendency to get a little damp at times, a fogger is a great way to spread a very thin coat of Nok-Out or SNiPER very evenly over large areas.  It is quick and takes only a few minutes to ‘fog’ large areas.  Being able to spray such a thin coat makes it efficient, because you don’t use much of the spray, so it can help you be efficient as well as effective.

How to use a fogger

You can ‘paint’ the walls and other surfaces you would like to spray, treating the fogger as if it were a ‘paint sprayer’.  A larger droplet size makes this very quick.  Or you can spray the air until the atmosphere becomes saturated with moisture. At this point, the excess moisture will begin to condense onto literally every surface in the room. When you start spraying the air, the little droplets will also come in contact with mold spores, dust and dander and will fall to the ground where they can be vacuumed up easily.  In this way, you can lay down an extremely thin layer of Nok-Out or SNiPER onto literally every surface of a room.  This is perfect for some things, such as when you are trying to get rid of smoke odor, which, as you know, get’s onto every surface in a room.  Fogging a smokers room is the perfect way to get Nok-Out or SNiPER to come into direct contact with residue from smoke, whether it is fire or tobacco.

When ‘painting’ surfaces using a fogger, the idea is to spray enough that the surface gets wet.  But not so much that the liquid begins to run down the wall, or that puddles form on horizontal surfaces.  In this way, you can be most efficient in your use of Nok-Out or SNiPER.  This efficiency and ease is what using a fogger is all about.

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Uses for a Fogger

  • sanitize a locker room or sports facility using SNiPER disinfectant and odor eliminator
  • get rid of cooking odors with Nok-Out
  • remove smoke odor (tobacco or fire) using Nok-Out
  • treat large areas using SNiPER for mold, mildew or fungal infestations (SNiPER)
  • hotel smoking rooms  (Nok-Out)
  • remove smoke odor or musty odors from upholstered furniture (Nok-Out)
  • remove smoke odor from cars (Nok-Out)
  • basement odors (SNiPER for microbial related odors, Nok-Out for non-biological odors)
  • sanitize or disinfect a kennel (SNiPER)
  • sanitize or disinfect a day care center, or elder care center (SNiPER)
  • hospital or clinic settings (SNiPER)
  • micro-sanitizing of mouse droppings (SNiPER)

At Nokout.com, we like the ‘Fogmaster Jr’ and keep them in stock. It is available here: https://www.nokout.com/Fogmaster-Jr.html. A more professional fogger is the RL Flo Master 1035B.  Foggers are very nice tools, but they are expensive. Maybe you only have a one-off need for this type of application. In this case, you could consider using a ‘vaporizer’ or room humidifier or a pump up atomizing sprayer, etc., which will be much slower, but can also put Nok-Out or SNiPER in vapor form into the air. It is really slow though, and if time is an issue, may not be a good alternative. See: https://www.nokout.com/Vaporizer-How-to-use.html to see if this may be right for you.

If you decide you need a fogger, be sure that the one you get is NOT a ‘thermal’ fogger because the high heat will damage and reduce the effectiveness of Nok-Out or SNiPER.

Allergy Season and Indoor Air Quality

Allergy Season and Indoor Air Quality

Suffering from Allergies? Runny nose, teary eyes, congestion, sneezing got you down?

It’s the time of year that some of us dread – the coming of Allergy Season. Indoor Air Quality is directly related to our experience of allergy season because we spend a lot of time at home, yet is something most of us take for granted. We have air filters for our HVAC, our car, home, and office too, that trap particulates to prevent us breathing them in. This is a good thing because  much of that stuff masquerading as dust is actually pollen, spores, dander and other nearly invisible biological material that can irritate eyes, nose and throat and in some cases, can provoke a headache, dizziness or fatigue.

The degree to which allergy season affects you can vary widely. The blessed among us may never notice anything at all. Allergy sufferers, on the other hand, may dread the arrival of spring and/or fall because of the load of pollen, spores and other stuff floating in the air. Some of the immediate effects of breathing these are very similar to the symptoms of a cold or the flu, which may cause a bit of confusion.

These ‘pollutants’ in your home or office may have many sources:

  • combustion by-products
  • tobacco products
  • new construction (new floors, carpets painted surfaces, cabinetry
  • newly manufactured furniture such as mattresses that emit VOC’s
  • dirty HVAC filter
  • high humidity inside your home
  • things that continuously emit ‘fragrances’ or other odor masks
  • outdoor sources such as pesticides, and human-caused environmental pollution such as smoke and particulates arising from manufacturing and construction

For many of these a great solution is simply to open the windows and air out the home or office – but this is not always practical, or desirable if the outdoor air is filthy.

Filtration Helps

Fortunately, we have filters in our homes that help. If you suffer during allergy season, you should not skimp here. Purchase HEPA air filters with the finest filtration ratings you can find, and replace them regularly. There are other filtration sources in the home as well – your carpet is one of them. Drapes and curtains are another. A too-full vacuum cleaner bag can release particulates right back into your home.

How can you reduce ‘allergy triggers’ (allergens) in your home?

Remember that we can’t change conditions outdoors much, but we can have a positive effect on our indoor environment!   Don’t let allergy season get the best of you. Here’s how you can make a difference in your home.  With a little effort and knowledge, you can restore your indoor environment, to be comfortable  at home during allergy season.

1) Place doormats both outside and just inside entryway doors – one on each side of the door. Cleaning your shoes on both of them will help keep floors clean – and the air, too. Clean the mats as part of your weekly housecleaning. If this is unappealing, consider removing your shoes on entry to your home and wearing house shoes while at home.

2) Change your HVAC air filter regularly. Increase the air filtration with the use of an additional air filter. You can make a DIY one with a 20 inch box fan to which you tape a 20 inch square HEPA air filter. (The better quality air filter you get, the better this simple device will work for you – and, it’ll take some of the load off of the HVAC filter, allowing your HVAC filter to last longer and consequently, to run more efficiently).

Also, have your drapes/curtains and carpets professionally cleaned regularly. It is amazing how much filtration is provided by these household items, so keeping them clean will reduce allergens noticeably.

3) Dry wet items quickly. This will prevent the growth of mold and spores. Mold can begin growing on almost any surface within 24 – 48 hours. Put a squeegee in your shower stall and use it before you leave the shower every time. With mold, prevention is far and away the best solution.  Manage the water to manage the mold!

4) Dust and vacuum often. Replace your vacuum bag with a new one when it gets 2/3 full, because a full bag will leak particulates back into your home environment. Dust mites, animal dander, fleas and other small insects can be controlled effectively by frequent vacuuming.

5) Take control of indoor humidity levels by using the vents in the bathroom after a shower, and by using the vent over your stove when cooking (but only if it is vented outside the house). Use dehumidifiers in your basement during the times of year when it becomes damp.

6) Reduce your use of cleaning products that leave toxic residues. See: http://blog.nokout.com/replace-your-toxic-household-cleaning-chemicals-for-a-safer-home-environment/ (The Indoor air pollution blog entries are relevant also, part 1, part 2 part 3.) Non-toxic Nok-Out and SNiPER disinfectant are good alternatives for your bathrooms and even the kitchen.

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Indoor Air Pollution – Sick building Syndrome – Part 2

Indoor Air Pollution – Sick building Syndrome – Part 2

In the last issue, we looked at what indoor air pollution is about, and saw that it is mostly due to the accumulation and build-up of toxins in an indoor environment that can result when modern building are so tightly sealed that the toxins released by biological and man-made sources have no way to escape, so it simply accumulates. At some point, this accumulation can reach toxic proportions. Other causes include biological contaminants such as mold and mildew, heavy metals such as lead, and combustion pollutants such as carbon monoxide and even carbon dioxide.

In this article, we will explore what you can do to mitigate these issues and how they might be ‘fixed’.

The single most important thing is – ventilation. Simply venting inside air to the outside and thus drawing in fresh air, can reduce the toxicity levels. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) publishes a ‘ventilation standard that can be compared to your system. See it here. If your home or building’s issues continue due to continuing release of toxic chemicals, The EPA has published an excellent guide to air cleaners and filtration systems. A simple Google search for ‘air purification systems’ will yield good results. Here is a pretty good example: http://www.home-air-purifier-expert.com/iq-air-purifier.html.

Air filters are important to reduce particulates in the air. A great DIY approach is to purchase a 20 inch box fan and tape a high quality air filter to the back of it. Youtube has a video of this here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9bIWINK8hI and a somewhat more detailed model can be seen here: http://tombuildsstuff.blogspot.com/2013/06/better-box-fan-air-purifier.html. Good air filtration is complemented by good vacuuming using a HEPA filter. This is important for allergy sufferers and can reduce the ‘load’ that causes symptoms.

VOC’s

One of the primary sources of indoor air pollution is something called VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds). Many newly manufactured things will release gases for some time. A good example is a mattress. Various glues and chemicals are used to manufacture these things and they may ‘outgas’ for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. It may be a good idea to allow this outgasing to take place outside the home if possible. Unwrap it and leave it outside, out of the weather if possible.

Another way to reduce VOC’s and toxic chemicals released into your home is to take care of what you bring into the home. Bleach and other powerful cleaning agents have toxic chemicals. Check to see if you can find other cleaning agents that do not contain these things. (This is where Nok-Out and SNiPER products excel – they are unlikely to ever release toxic by-products and are hypo-allergenic. Additionally, SNiPER kills mold and other biological growths.)

Where VOC’s are concerned, prevention is the easiest thing – don’t bring them in! Don’t allow anyone to smoke in your home. Paint that old dresser outside outside and allow it to dry for at least 24 hours before bringing it inside.

Biologicals

As the name implies, biologicals are, or were, alive at one time. A partial list of biologicals might include various types of mold, mildew and fungus and their spores, pet and people dander, dust mites, insect body parts, pollen.

What can you do about Biologicals?

Prevention is easier and better than clean-up where biologicals are concerned. For molds and other living things, be aware that they depend on moisture for growth. Control the moisture and you control the growth of these things. So, fix that dripping leak, Use a de-humidifier in places that are prone to moisture condensation (like the basement). If you are using a room humidifier in the winter, watch the windows and wipe them dry frequently. Use a squeegee in the shower. And so on.

SNiPER disinfectant is a great way to treat biologicals issues without increasing the toxic load in your indoor environment. See: http://www.nokout.com/Cleaning-Mold-and-Mildew.html.

In the next issue we will learn what NASA has to say about ways to mitigate indoor air pollution.

Online resources
http://www.home-air-purifier-expert.com/sick-building-syndrome.html

Indoor Air Pollution – part 1

Indoor Air Pollution – part 1

Modern buildings are amazingly energy efficient and are awesome at keeping your HVAC bills low. But for some buildings, there is a decidedly negative side effect. These homes and buildings are so tightly sealed that in some cases, the ventilation does not allow noxious substances to escape. These toxic substances can build up and accumulate and over time, this build-up can result in what has become known as “Sick Building Syndrome”. SBS symptoms first began to be reported in the 1970’s when some people – not all – experienced allergy-like reactions, headaches and other symptoms from non-specific causes that disappeared when they left the building. Symptoms include nausea, dizziness, irritation of the nose, throat and mucous membranes. SBS is a result of indoor air pollution, but this problem can be remedied.

Since the symptoms disappeared upon leaving the building, the issue became know as Sick Building Syndrome.

Sick Building Syndrome

According to the “home air purifier expert” there are four main sources of indoor air pollution that contribute to SBS:

  1. Biological air pollutants
  2. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s)
  3. Combustion pollutants
  4. Heavy Metals

Biological Air Pollutants are, as the name suggests, come from biological growths and are a frequent source of allergens. If you suffer from allergies, it is likely that this is a source of much misery. This category can include the toxic black mold which grows when there is moisture damage or high indoor humidity.

But this category includes much more than just mold, mildew and fungal infections. There are also other biological sources including dust mites, pet and people dander (skin cells that have been sloughed off), pollen, viruses, and bacteria. A reputedly potent source of indoor allergens is insect body parts. Yech!

Biologicals may be the most common household sources of toxicosis (from black molds), infections of body tissues, and can result in a hypersensitivities.

Volatile Organic Compounds

These are ‘organic chemicals’ that release vapors at ordinary room temperatures. Wikipedia tells us that, “VOCs are numerous, varied, and ubiquitous. They include both human-made and naturally occurring chemical compounds.” Some sources of information on VOC’s assert that there are more than 400 different chemicals in this category. The EPA has prepared a list of hazardous air pollutants here: https://www3.epa.gov/airtoxics/187polls.html. There is another list that is perhaps easier to read here: http://www.home-air-purifier-expert.com/household-products.html.

VOC sources can include newly manufactured products such as a new mattress, a stove, painted items. But there are MANY other sources including household cleaning chemicals, personal hygiene products such as nail polish and nail polish remover, glues, furniture polishes, paints. Even the fragrances in the products we enjoy are often not safe. Tobacco smoke has an astonishing list of VOC’s and is a potent source of indoor air pollution. This list could go on and on and on.

Lesser- known pollutants

Combustion pollutants include Carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. These gasses are the byproducts resulting from combustion in heaters or gas fired appliances that are not then vented outside properly or sufficiently.

Heavy Metals are not as common an indoor pollutant as they used to be. Lead in paint, for example, has mostly been discontinued. It is not commonly known, but paint also used to contain mercury. Other sources of mercury are fluorescent tubes – which contain a small amount and nowadays, CFL bulbs.

In this day and age, we have clearly mastered our world. We enjoy a standard of living that would have astonished our ancestors of a mere 200 years ago and we enjoy a comfort level that was unattainable even a few generations ago. But with this high living standard, we have also brought a concentration of toxins into our homes that also would not have been possible in our yester-years.

For most of us, this level of toxicity in our home environment is unlikely to result in sickness and the cleanliness of our homes does result in a healthier environment that allows us to live longer and more happily. But some people develop more or less vague sickness as accumulations of toxins build up in our tissues and this can result in chemical sensitivities that can really affect lives. These people may suffer from “Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). For more information on this, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiple_chemical_sensitivities.

The next installment of this topic will begin to address what we can do to protect ourselves.

Online resources for more information

  1. http://www.home-air-purifier-expert.com/sick-building-syndrome.html#pollutionsources
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sick_building_syndrome
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiple_chemical_sensitivity
  4. https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/guide-air-cleaners-home
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2796751/
  6. http://www.home-air-purifier-expert.com/biological-pollutants.html
  7. https://www.epa.gov/learn-issues/learn-about-air