Fort Myers Apartments Positive for Mold

Fort Myers Apartments Positive for Mold

Fort Myers Apartments Positive for Mold

In Southwest Florida, mold is a common topic. The warm tropical climate and increased humidity levels create moisture in building structures that are perfect environments for mold growth. For years news reporters in the Fort Myers area have been reporting on apartment complexes where mold has taken over. Most of these reports speak to tenants that are just “passing through” to grab some items from their apartment on their way back to their friends’ couch or hotel. These tenants are paying rent while living elsewhere until they find new living quarters.

Mold and Health

The majority of the reports within the past year have been featured on WINK news in Lee County. During these reports, several tenants speak up regarding health concerns. Mold is known to cause severe health-related illnesses. Every person reacts to mold differently and will exhibit their individual responses based on their body chemistry.

In the case of an apartment complex, “Sick Building Syndrome” becomes a serious concern. Sick Building Syndrome takes place when occupants of a building all exhibit related illnesses during the same time in the structure; however, these symptoms subside after time outside of this environment. With many of the tenants, this has been their experience, resulting in many residents moving out or living part-time in motels until arrangements for moving can take place. One resident interviewed by WINK stated he began hallucinating within fifteen minutes inside his apartment. Sick Building Syndrome has been known to be the basis of several lawsuits regarding mold-related illnesses.

Symptoms of mold exposure can be any of the following:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Itchy/ red eyes
  • Itchy nose
  • Migraines
  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Memory lag
  • Skin rashes
  • Hair loss
  • Itchy skin/ rash
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Sore Throat and more.

Southwest Florida tenants in reports as recent as 2019 have reportedly experienced severe health risks resulting in Emergency Room visits from apartment mold.

Mold Growth in Apartments

According to the tenants in Fort Myers, the mold growth was not a subjective answer. Occupants brought newscasters into their homes and revealed the excessive mold growth. Tenants were desperate to find the cause of their illnesses. Peeling back flooring, busting through drywall to find the mold embedded deep within the structures. Mold was found in air ventilation systems, growing under carpeting and vinyl floors, even in the ceilings.  Several tenants were charged with destruction of property looking for mold, but are disputing that it was for their health. While some tenants did not explore the apartment in hopes the landlord would look instead, some tenants did not need to look deeper to get an answer. Mold growth causing mushrooms to grow became a sign for a few tenants that the mold was uncontrollable. WINK news showing video of mushrooms growing out of kitchen cabinets and walls shows apparent signs that mold has invaded the complex.

Mold Inspections

If you believe that mold is an issue in your apartment, or are experiencing any symptoms listed above, consider a mold inspection. While desperate tenants took matters into their own hands, you don’t have to destroy your home in search of an answer. With innovative technology available to our licensed technicians, Mold Inspectors of Florida has the ability to located mold growth without pulling apart your floors.

Specialized tools allow us to measure levels of moisture in your walls that would contribute to mold growth. A tenant that had this test done in Fort Myers found the moisture level to be 69%, which is considerably higher than a building reading should be. We also utilize infrared thermography as a visual aid for mold growth in walls and floors, as well as testing air samples and surface swabs for quantity and species of mold spores.  Check if your complex has kept up with routine HVAC maintenance. Failure to do so and the condensation from your air conditioning unit will breed mold spores that become homogenous with your indoor air.

Speak to your landlord about the concerns that you have and inquire about a mold inspection for your building.

Mold in Your Southwest Florida Winter Home

Mold in Your Southwest Florida Winter Home

Mold in Your Southwest Florida Winter Home

Escaping the tundra of the north to the southern tropical climate is a popular winter living choice for many retired northerners. These “snowbirds,” as they are respectively named, allow for seasonal migratory residents to enjoy family and stay within comfortable climates all year round. However, leaving a house unattended for half a year may prove problematic if you overlook necessary precautions.

The Absent Season

The rainy season takes place simultaneously to snowbirds enjoying the warmer northern months. Bringing about water, excessive moisture, and increased humidity levels, which mold will thrive in on in an uncopied home. Cellulose present in the building materials of houses (walls, flooring, etc.) gives the nutrients needed for the mold to colonize. This colonization allows a snowbird to return to a home that has been overtaken by this unwanted inhabitant.

Preparing for their departure up north, these residents tend to perform the same habits one would do in preparation for a short-term vacation. With drapes drawn shut and HVAC systems turned off mold is sure to thrive in the warm moisture-ridden home left behind. Returning to warped floorboards, mushrooms in carpets or musty odors is a snowbird’s worst fear.

Best practice is to be proactive versus reactive. Here are some tips for preparing your snowbird home to keep mold away.

Proactive Solutions

Air Conditioning: Although you don’t have to face the brunt of the summer heat, your home still does. Keep the HVAC system running while you are away. Aiming for an average temperature of 80-85 degrees with humidity between 30-50%. These parameters will allow your HVAC system to regulate indoor humidity and temperature levels to ward off potential mold, while also keeping utility bills at a manageable cost in your absence.

Windows and Doorways: Weather sealing windows and doorways will assist in fighting off the outside humidity and wet conditions that occur during the summer. Leaving a home susceptible to wet conditions, which are common occurrences in Southwest Florida summers, contribute to possible mold colonization.

Pools: Draining some water from the pool is advised to keep water from flooding over during the rainy summers ahead. However, fully draining a pool is not recommended as pressure from summer storms has been known to cause pool shells to pop from the ground or crack without the water counter pressure. Asking a friend or service to tend to the pool in your absence is the safest and most financially sound course of action.

Too Late, Time to Be Reactive!

Winter is upon us, and you are receiving tips too late- whoops! Coming back to leaks, roof damage, condensation build-ups, and more- now what? The savvy choice is to bring in a licensed mold inspector.

First, take a look around your property and search for evidence of water intrusion.

  • Condensation build-up
  • Flooding or water leaks from outdoor sources
  • Roof damage such as cupped shingles or discolored areas on ceilings
  • Leaks in the siding or foundation of the structure
  • Gaps or cracks around doors or windows
  • Clogs in gutters, downspouts, or pool filters near the foundation (these may have resulted in flooding)
  • Leaks from indoor sources such as broken pipes or adjacent neighbors in condominiums.

Should any of these water intrusion signs be present, mold is most likely present as well. Although microscopic, mold spores can do damage to your health and home quickly upon your return. Even without these signs present, the chances of mold are still high.

A licensed mold inspector will investigate your home with attention to the most minute details. Spores that you are unable to visualize are present on surfaces and in the air. Visual mold, such as green growth on drywalls or mushrooms in carpeting, are signs that a much more severe colonization has occurred. With the inspection tools available to them, mold inspectors can test air particles, microscopic surface samples, and even within the walls of the structure. Utilizing infrared thermography and 72-hour lab results, Mold Inspectors of Florida provides you with accurate results promptly.

Tool Kit of A Mold Inspection

Tool Kit of A Mold Inspection

Tool Kit of A Mold Inspection

When Mold Inspectors of Florida arrive at a home or commercial property, we bring state-of-the-art tools to give you the best results possible. A proper mold inspection should include a conversation about concerns you may have with visible mold, moisture problems, or health issues in the building. Beyond the discussion phase, a licensed mold assessor from MIOFL will begin to inspect all accessible areas of the structure meticulously.  Our technicians are educated in the science of non-invasive testing and will be able to use these tools to detect even the slightest presence of mold even if there are no noticeable signs.

Air Sampling Pump

Not visible to the human eye, mold spores can be airborne through the ventilation system of your home. Obtaining an air sample during a mold inspection requires the air sampling pump to force air into the device for collection. This specimen is then sent off to a laboratory for analysis on species and quantity of mold spores. The best practice for air sampling is when used in a controlled environment. Taking samples from a regulated condition and problem condition area will help determine before and after effects of mold remediation. Upon the initial sampling and completing analysis, mold remediation will typically take place by a mold remediation company. Bringing back the initial inspector to take a sample after-the-fact helps ensure a mold-free living space.

Air sampling is a helpful tool to find mold spore chains in the air. These chains typically break apart when spores are airborne and intact chains mean undiscovered (or unseen) mold is nearby.

Moisture Meters

Moisture meters are designed to measure the level of moisture in building materials.  High moisture levels may lead to structural or safety hazards. Should this moisture device, detect elevated levels of moisture, a more in-depth inspection should take place. Mold, rot, and decay could all become possible findings depending on the speed in which the moisture damage is present. Moisture meters detect moisture that would not otherwise have been apparent by an inspector.

Using an area of the building that appears dry, the moisture meter can be used to determine a baseline reading. After this reading, other measurements from around the building can be compared to this baseline to determine troubled areas in the structure.

Infrared Thermography

This technology has been seen in Hollywood for years. Infrared thermography is used in crime scenes and spy shows to spot buried items or to know where an antagonist is before the police take action on a building. Mold inspectors utilize this same technology as an enhanced visual tool for moisture build-up. Just as moisture meters measure the moisture in materials, infrared thermography measures significant temperature rises that indicate possible mold growth and leaks. These photographs can prove invaluable when documenting mold cases for clients and insurance companies. This technique is especially helpful for detecting moisture and potential mold build-up within the structure walls and flooring that are not easily accessible for inspection.

Testing Swabs and Tapes (PLUS 72 Hour Turn Around)

Testing swabs and tapes perform two different collection techniques that end at the lab for analysis. Testing tapes collect specimens on areas of suspected or verified mold presence. The tape is then removed and put on a micro-glass slide, sealed, and sent to the lab for examination. This test typically produces a microbiology mold spore presence by quantity.

Testing swabs are cotton-tipped applicators used by physically collecting samples from surfaces with suspected or verified mold presence. This test evaluates and determines the specific strains of mold present.

Our laboratory assessments for air and surface testing work within a 72-hour turn around time. With Mold Inspectors of Florida, you will receive your fully detailed laboratory report in 72 hours, or expedited within 24 hours for an additional fee.

When Do I Need a Mold Inspection?

When Do I Need a Mold Inspection?

When Do I Need a Mold Inspection?

A mold inspection is a useful tool for a home or business owner. Ensuring the air you breathe is free from hazardous mold spores will give you peace of mind. Many people wonder when they need a mold inspection and when obtaining one is questionable. A common example of when obtaining a mold inspection is debatable is when mold is visible. When you can see the mold, some believe you no longer need a mold inspection; you need mold remediation. While this sounds accurate, there are more details to consider. Several other scenarios call for a complete mold inspection, including visible mold.

New Home Purchase: Pre-owned or New-Build

Whether buying pre-owned or newly constructed housing, mold can be an issue. Prior to signing closing paperwork, a mold inspection is a savvy addition to the general house inspection. Home inspectors do not specialize in mold inspecting and will not be qualified to give you advice on this concern. With older houses, previous owners are typically required to disclose if the home has ever had a mold issue and if mold remediation has taken place. In new homes, building materials tend to be left outside against the elements for weeks at a time. In Florida, this proves a more significant problem as the increased natural humidity and rainy season will add to the likelihood of your housing materials growing mold before you move in.

Unoccupied Buildings

A house or commercial building that has been left unattended for months or years tends to build up humidity levels due to the lack of a working HVAC system. Especially true in Southwest Florida homes where the humidity is high, mold will grow at a rapid pace. If you are purchasing a home or office building that has been unoccupied for a length of time, a mold inspection prior to signing any paperwork is a smart move.

Visible Mold with Unknown Sources

As aforementioned, when mold is visible, most people believe this to mean a mold inspection is no longer necessary. However, mold inspections don’t merely “look for mold.” The inspector won’t quit looking once locating the mold. Inspecting for mold requires looking in challenging to see spaces where mold tends to thrive unseen. In addition to checking for concealed mold, the origin of the mold is also a factor in mold inspections. Without finding the source of the mold growth, the problem will never fully resolve. At Mold Inspectors of Florida, we believe that due diligence in completing a job requires finding the source of the mold to provide you with all the answers you need.

When mold is visible on a surface, it doesn’t mean the mold starts and stop there. Mold on a drywall surface could mean there is a mold colony growing in the insulation, carpeting, or subflooring surrounding it. A thorough mold inspection is the only way to know for sure.

After Mold Remediation

Inspecting for mold will give you the answers you need when approaching a mold remediator. However, after the remediation is complete, it is not uncommon to bring the same inspector back again with his prior notations and reinspect the home. After going through the effort to find and remove the mold, having the satisfying inspection results that the problem has been completely remediated and will not return is always a safe choice.

Inspection is also the right choice when purchasing a home that has been disclosed to have previous mold remediation done. While the previous homeowners may have documentation of completion with a mold remediator, it is common to bring a mold inspector in to take a deeper, and up to date look. This inspection will be detailing mold activity as usual, but also compare his notes with the previous records on the disclosure. This check allows you to know that the past mold infestation is absent, and no new mold has begun to grow.

After Water Damage Has Occurred

Mold lives and grows where moisture is present. Once a building structure has water damage, mold can develop quickly. Broken pipes, roof leaks, or HVAC issues can all provoke mold to take hold. If the area was not dry within 24-48 hours, it is highly likely that the moisture and Florida humidity has prompted mold to grow.

Unexplained Health Concerns

If you or another resident in the home, or several employees of a building begin feeling ill, it may be time for a mold inspection. Known as “Sick Building Syndrome,” this condition becomes a concern if occupants of a building feel symptoms arise while in a building and subside when out of the building. Symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome can include feeling headaches, fatigue, hair loss, nausea, or have itchy eyes. A mold inspection can look for signs of moisture, plumbing, or HVAC leaks, as well as common hidden mold.