What is Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis

Hypersensitivity pneumonitis can develop over time in patients who are sensitive to mold spores in the air. One of the most common types of hypersensitivity pneumonitis is known as “farmer’s lung.” Farmer’s lung is a serious allergic reaction to mold found in hay and other types of crop material. Because farmer’s lung is so often undiagnosed, it can cause permanent damage in the form of scar tissue on the lung. This scar tissue, called fibrosis, can worsen until the patient begins to have trouble doing simple tasks.

Once farmer’s lung progresses to a more chronic form, symptoms may become more severe than simple histamine reactions. Farmer’s lung patients may experience:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Blood-streaked sputum
  • Muscular pain

Those who work around potentially moldy crop materials on a regular basis should watch for early histamine reactions and seek treatment if they suspect farmer’s lung may be developing. While mold exposure is generally not deadly, increased exposure can make symptoms worse. Mold allergies are progressive. Over time the attacks become more severe. The key is to prevent moisture from building up by repairing any leaks in your home.

If you notice a water build-up in any part of your home, stop the leak immediately. When working in situations where outdoor mold may be present, wearing a face mask can drastically reduce your exposure to the allergen. Masks that will protect your respiratory system from being affected by mold spore exposure are available.

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Spring Checklist

Spring is finally here and we can pack away our winter clothes and the snow blower cause longer sunny days are here and summer is around the corner.  It’s also time for some home maintenance items that will help you avoid big repair bills later on.

Inspect Your Roof.  Whether you have shingles, tin or even concrete tiles, your roof is your home’s first line of defense against water damage. Now is the time to inspect and repair any water damage. If you delay, you could find yourself facing water damage inside your home, too.

Clean your gutters.   Gutters direct rain away from your roof and home, protecting both in the process. Clogged gutters, meanwhile, open your home to water damage—and there’s a good chance you won’t notice the damage until you need an expensive repair.

Clean or replace your HVAC filters.   You need to do this more often than once a year. A dirty filter forces your HVAC system to work harder, which in turn drains your wallet. It could also shorten the life of your blower motor.

Clean your dryer vent.  Not all lint is caught in the lint trap; some makes its way into the dryer vent. A clear vent will save you money by reducing the time your dryer has to run. A plugged vent not only wastes money, but could also cause a house fire.

Check the washing machine fill hose.  Look for cracks that could become leaks. A leaky hose under pressure can cause major damage in a short period of time.

Clean and repair your screens.  Trying to reduce your electric bills this summer? In many parts of the country, you can keep your house cool (at least at night) by opening windows. Gently scrub on a flat surface with soapy water. Also, patch small holes, as needed.

Clean decks, driveways, fences and other outside surfaces.  A pressure washer makes the work much easier. If you don’t have one, borrow one from a neighbor or rent one from a home center. While you’re cleaning, inspect for damage that needs mending.

Fix cracks in your walks, driveway and the outside of your home.  Unlike the human body, cracks in asphalt, concrete or stucco don’t heal themselves. Fortunately, most of these repairs are fairly easy if done immediately.

Repair any cracked or peeling paint.  A good paint job makes your home look nice, while providing a protective barrier from the elements. Touchup painting is easy to do and inexpensive.

Vacuum your refrigerator coils.  The coils you’ll find on the bottom or back of your refrigerator conduct the hot air from inside the unit. If they’re coated with dust, they do the job less efficiently and cause your fridge to work harder. That means a higher electric bill for you. Use a vacuum cleaner hose or a brush to clean the coils.

Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors.  You never know when you’ll need them. Sometimes, it’s a matter of life or death, so take the time to change the batteries now.

Prepare your lawn mower for summer.  Change the engine oil and sharpen the cutting blade. You’ll lengthen the life of the mower and improve the look of your lawn.

Check seals around windows and doors.  Winter weather can crack and harden caulk and other weather seals. Inspect them now and repair and replace as needed. You’ll reduce your air-conditioning bill and could prevent water from entering your home and causing damage.

Clear vegetation around your AC compressor. To work efficiently, the compressor needs good airflow. Prune any plant growth that could block it.

Drain your water heater.  Sediment builds up in your water heater tank. Use the spigot near the bottom of the heater to drain it. By doing so, you’ll prolong its life and reduce your electric bill.

You’ll probably need to dedicate a couple days to complete the list, but don’t look at them as chores. View them as crucial preventative measures—ones that will help you save on your utility bills and avoid big repairs later on. It could be the highest paid work you’ll do this week!

For more click here:  MoldSolutions24-7.com

Building Materials & Fire Part 1

Building fires, which normally reach temperatures of about 1000 ºC, can affect the loadbearing capacity of structural bearing elements in a number of ways. Apart from such obvious effects as charring and spalling, there can be a permanent loss of strength in the remaining material and thermal expansion may cause damage in parts of the building not directly affected by the fire. In assessing fire’s effects, the main emphasis should be placed on estimating the residual load-carrying capacity of the structure and then determining the remedial measures, if any, needed to restore the building to its original design for fire resistance and other requirements. Obviously, if weaknesses in the original design are exposed, these should be corrected.

Making an analysis of the damage and assessment of the necessary repairs may be possible within a reasonable degree of accuracy, but final acceptance may depend on proof by a load test, where performance is generally judged in terms of the recovery of deflection after load removal.


Timber browns at about 120 to 150 ºC, blackens around 200 to 250 ºC, and emits combustible vapors at about 300 ºC. Above a temperature of 400 to 450 ºC (or 300 ºC if a flame is present), the surface of the timber will ignite and char at a steady rate. Table A-2 shows the rate of charring.

Analysis and Repair
Generally, any wood that is not charred should be considered to have full strength. It may be possible to show by calculation that a timber section or structural element subjected to fire still has adequate strength once the char is removed. Where additional strength is required, it may be possible to add strengthening pieces. Joints that may have opened and metal connections that may have conducted heat to the interior are points of weakness that should be carefully examined.


The physical properties and mechanisms of failure in masonry walls exposed to fire have never been analyzed in detail. Behavior is influenced by edge conditions and there is a loss of compressive strength as well as unequal thermal expansion of the two faces. For solid bricks, resistance to the effects of fire is directly proportional to thickness. Perforated bricks and hollow clay units are more sensitive to thermal shock. There can be cracking of the connecting webs and a tendency for the wythes to separate. In cavity walls, the inner wythe carries the major part of the load. Exterior walls can be subjected to more severe forces than internal walls by heated and expanding floor slabs. All types of brick give much better performance if plaster is applied, which improves insulation and reduces thermal shock.

Analysis and Repair
As with concrete, it is possible to determine the degree of heating of the wall from the color change of the mortar and bricks. For solid brick walls without undue distortion, the portion beyond the pink or red boundary may be considered serviceable and calculations should be made accordingly. Perforated and hollow brick walls should be inspected for the effects of cracks indicating thermal shock. Plastered bricks sometimes suffer little damage and may need repairs only to the plaster surfaces.


Building Materials & Fire Part 2


The yield strength of steel is reduced to about half at 550 ºC. At 1000 ºC, the yield strength is 10 percent or less. Because of its high thermal conductivity, the temperature of unprotected internal steelwork normally will vary little from that of the fire. Structural steelwork is, therefore, usually insulated.

Apart from losing practically all of its load-bearing capacity, unprotected steelwork can undergo considerable expansion when sufficiently heated. The coefficient of expansion is 10-5 per degree Celsius. Young’s modulus does not decrease with temperature as rapidly as does yield strength.

Cold-worked reinforced bars, when heated, lose their strength more rapidly than do hot-rolled high-yield bars and mild-steel bars. The differences in properties are even more important after heating. The original yield stress is almost completely recovered on cooling from a temperature of 500 to 600 ºC for all bars but on cooling from 800 ºC, it is reduced by 30 percent for cold-worked bars and by 5 percent for hot-rolled bars.

The loss of strength for prestressing steels occurs at lower stressing temperatures than that for reinforcing bars. Cold-drawn and heat-treated steels lose a part of their strength permanently when heated to temperatures in excess of about 300 ºC and 400 ºC, respectively.

The creep rate of steel is sensitive to higher temperatures and becomes significant for mild steel above 450 ºC and for prestressing steel above 300 ºC. In fire resistance tests, the rate of temperature rise when the steel is reaching its critical temperature is fast enough to mask any effects of creep. When there is a long cooling period, however, as in prestressed concrete, subsequent creep may have some effect in an element that has not reached the critical condition.

Analysis and Repair
In general, a structural steel member remaining in place with negligible or minor distortions to the web, flanges,
or end connections should be considered satisfactory for further service. Exceptions are the relatively small number of structures built with cold-worked or tempered steel, where there may be permanent loss of strength.
This may be assessed using estimates of the maximum temperatures attained or by on-site testing. Where necessary, the steel should be replaced, although reinforcement with plates may be possible. Microscopy can be used to determine changes in microstructure. Since this is a specialized field, the services of a metallurgist are essential.


Concrete’s compressive strength varies not only with temperature but also with a number of other factors, including the rate of heating, the duration of heating, whether the specimen was loaded or not, the type and size of aggregate, the percentage of cement paste, and the water/cement ratio. In general, concrete heated by a building fire always loses some compressive strength and continues to lose it on cooling. However, where the temperature has not exceeded 300 ºC, most strength eventually is recovered.

Because of the comparatively low thermal diffusivity of concrete (of the order of 1 mm/s), the 300 ºC contour may be at only a small depth below the heated face. Concrete’s modulus of elasticity also decreases with temperature, although it is believed that it will recover substantially with time, provided that the coefficient of thermal expansion of the concrete is on the order of 10-5 per degree Celsius (but this varies with aggregate). Creep becomes significant at quite low temperatures, being of the orders of 10-4 to 10-3 per hour over the temperature range of 250 to 700 ºC, and can have a beneficial effect in relaxing stresses.

Termites vs. Water Damage

Homeowners can easily confuse termite damage and water damage. Termites create high-moisture nests, signs of termite damage are often similar to signs of water damage. For example, both problems can cause paint to bubble and peel. Homes constructed primarily of wood are not the only structures threatened by termite activity. Homes made from other materials may also host termite infestations, as these insects are capable of traversing through plaster, metal siding and more. Termites then feed on cabinets, floors, ceilings and wooden furniture within these homes.

Water damage to wood often creates square-shaped “cells” in the wood. This pattern can be called “cubicle rot,” referring to the cube-shaped square cells. It also is called “alligatoring,” because the square-shaped cells resemble an alligator’s back. These square-shaped cells are created because the wood expands and cracks with the increased water content. When subterranean termites consume wood, they eat along the softer spring-wood and leave the harder summer-wood. If you look at a cross section of a tree, the lighter-colored rings are spring-wood and the darker-colored rings are summer-wood. In a cross section of subterranean termite-damaged wood, summer-wood has a honeycomb appearance after the spring-wood has been eaten. Length-wise, summer-wood looks like thick sheets of paper after the spring-wood has been eaten.

When drywood termites consume wood, they eat along and across the grain. They excavate large galleries for their nests, and they connect these galleries with tunnels. Due to their smaller colony size, drywood termites typically do not damage wood as much or as quickly as subterranean termites. Some species of termites, including dampwood termites, only feed on wood that has already been damaged by water. In this case, you would need to address the water issue and termite infestation simultaneously, before repairing the damage.


Checking Your Attic

An attic is the one room of the home that often is overlooked.  Because most attics are not used and some are just for storage, it becomes one of those “out of sight, out of mind,” kind of things.  But checking your attic from time to time is quite important especially because it is an early indicator of several issues that may effect your home.  First, checking your attic for any leaks will allow you to see if there’s any issues with your roofing or chimney.  The first stage of water infiltration from the roof will penetrate the attic and then the interior ceilings of the home.  Secondly, checking that all fans are in working condition allows you to monitor the humidity, and hence, check to see if you have any mold issues.  Mold remediation in attics is a very expensive and an extensive project that takes any where from several days to a couple of weeks depending on the size of the attic and costs thousands of dollars.  If the attic is susceptible to water damage or high humidity, then mold growth is very likely.  Third, making sure your insulation is not compromising the eaves is also vital to air flow and prevents high humidity.  It’s easy to see if there is a problem with your eaves because if you do not see sunlight coming from the exterior at the far edge of the attic, then your eaves need clearing or your insulation needs adjustment.

So remember, just because your attic may not be a room that you use every day or even at all, doesn’t mean that it should be ignored.  Checking the insulation, looking for any holes or leaks in the roof and monitoring the humidity can save you money from costly water damage and mold remediation in the future.

For more click here to visit our site:  BIOWASHING.com

Late Flu Season & Pollen

Flu seasons can vary in their timing, severity, and duration from one season to another. This flu season started a little later than it has during the previous three flu seasons. The season also peaked later than usual and activity has remained elevated later also. While H3N2 viruses predominated early in the season, H1N1 viruses have been the most common in recent weeks and are now the predominant virus for this season. This is the virus that emerged in 2009 to cause a pandemic. In the past, H1N1 flu viruses have caused severe illness in some children & young-and middle-aged adults. While there have been reports of severe flu illnesses and deaths this season, overall this season has been milder than the previous three seasons and severity indicators have not been excessively high.

The mild winter temperatures throughout the U.S. may be the reason for the late flu season and the early allergy season. The above-average temperatures that have allowed more U.S. citizens to spend more time engaging in outdoor activities may have triggered a later-than-usual peak in flu cases. Vitamin D is able to boost a person’s immune system, helping to fight off illnesses such as the flu. While the above-average temperatures have been a blessing when it comes to the flu, allergy sufferers may not be feeling healthy at all.

The warm winter temperatures have allowed some flowers and trees to begin blooming and budding early. The early onset of the growth cycle has plants releasing pollen into the air earlier than usual. The pollen may even stick around longer if the spring is rainy. The rain will benefit the flowers and the blooms could be around longer than usual. This will release even more pollen into the air.

Importance of Renters Insurance

Even if you don’t own a home, unexpected events may arise. While you may not always be able to prevent certain situations, such as a break-in or visitor’s injury, you may be able to help minimize the impact. Whether you’re renting a single-family home or an apartment, renters insurance may help protect you in important ways. Here’s a look at some key coverages that a typical renters insurance policy may include.

Personal property coverage, a typical component of renters insurance, may help cover the cost of replacing your stuff if it’s unexpectedly damaged or ruined. That protection generally applies to certain risks (also referred to as “perils”), such as fire and theft, the Insurance Information Institute (III) explains. So, if your computer and television are stolen, or your furniture and clothing are destroyed by a fire, this coverage may help you pay for the cost of replacing them. It’s important to know that coverage limits — the maximum amount your policy will pay for personal property losses — will apply. Read your policy carefully or contact your agent for information on what may or may not be covered.

When purchasing a renters insurance policy, you may face a few different choices. For instance:

  • You’ll want to set coverage limits that are appropriate for your situation. Creating a home inventory may help you assess the value of your belongings and help you decide how much personal property coverage is right for you.
  • You may also have to decide what kind of personal property coverage to purchase, the III says. A policy that provides actual cash value protection typically covers belongings up to their current market value (taking depreciation into account). Meanwhile, a policy that includes replacement cost coverage may help you pay to replace your items at today’s retail prices after a covered loss.

It’s important to consider that personal property coverage may not help protect everything you own. You may find that certain types of belongings, such as jewelry or a coin collection, have limited coverage under a standard policy. A local agent can help you decide whether additional coverage designed to help protect specific items (often referred to as scheduled personal property coverage) makes sense for you.

Proper Mold Inspecting

There’s many different sorts of mold tests from air sampling to surface and bulk lifts, which all depend on the situation of the property being tested.   But one thing that’s becoming more and more recurring with a lot of  mold testing contractors is testing for mold when visible mold exists.  As an example, let’s say a basement has mold on the drywall because the home owner explained there was previous water damage that was never cleaned up, which this example is actually true from a home we just visited.  The mold is on all the walls and in some spots three feet high.  A competitor of ours goes in and pushes for a mold test because they need to know the type of mold and to see if it’s throughout the house.  Now, although it may be in other sections of the home, why would anyone want to sample the air when there is prevalent mold growth in the basement?  The reason it shouldn’t be initially tested regardless of what mold inspector will try to sell you to line their pocket, is because the air quality in the basement could in fact effect the air quality on other floors of the home.  Hence, the test will be skewed because of the condition of the basement.  If there’s mold, there’s no reason to test for mold.

Now we’re all supposed to indicate that all mold is suspect until tested, but when it’s abundantly obvious, then there’s no reason to charge someone for a test to clarify the obvious.  And, like I mentioned, the air quality in the basement could in fact effect the sample collected on the next floor.  What would the proper method be without trying to charge for services not needed or three times?  You remove the mold in the basement, then perform a test not only to assure that the mold in the basement is rectified, but also to check the rest of the home without any influence.  Remember, most mold companies use testing as a way to make money and not for service, or to secure that they’re locked into a project, hence the reason for the push.  Mold Testing should be a service of clarification and assurance, not something just for profit.  So, don’t get oversold with companies trying to push a service on you that isn’t needed because they’ll tell you so.  You always have the right to either say, “No,” or “Let me get back to you,” so you can further research your options.