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Preventing Moisture to Avoid Mold

August 16, 2017

Moisture plus warm, interior conditions can lead to the dreaded four-letter word: MOLD. Even in the cooler fall and winter months, mold can take hold behind walls or under floors as a result of water finding its way in through roofs, rotten window frames, improper ventilation or plumbing leaks. For property managers, proactive, exterior maintenance programs that prohibit moisture are the key to good health … and avoiding costly lawsuits.

There is some very interesting reading on the internet, in various books and magazines, and even seminars that address mold and fungus and their effects on construction, re-construction, and the health of people in the buildings where mold is found to be growing.  The Center for Disease Control has compiled a lot of useful information on the effects of mold and how to test for it.


Photo credit: Ameriprise Auto & Home Insurance

Cleaning solutions or mildewcides are more relevant to small homeowner situations that might occur such as the mold and mildew you might need to address in your bathroom. And as a rule of thumb, affected areas of less than 10 square feet can be simply cleaned up using cleaning solutions or mildewcides.  However, if the area is over 10 square feet, a professional should be consulted and called in immediately.

Mold is a fungus, but not all fungi are molds. There are black, green and white varieties, gelatinous and furry varieties, opaque and clear varieties.  In fact, there are thousands of mold species, but there is one that is considered problematic wherever it presents itself.  This mold is called Stachybotrys Chartarum.

Stachybotrys Chartarum has been linked to health issues since the 1930s. The sequence works like this; a musty odor is detected, possible health effects become evident, and the musty odor is traced to a room or an area of a room. The mold infested building components are removed and replaced and the source of the moisture is identified and eliminated.  Air quality testing can also be done.

There are a variety of factors involved with this issue; the type of building or where in the building it is growing, the type of mold, and the general health of the people living within those buildings. Air testing and dry residual testing is necessary for all public buildings because insurance companies, lawyers, and doctors will all require this as a base line for future testing levels.  However, testing is not always required in order to perform remediation.

Typically, when a mold spore lands or settles on an area, it will remain dormant until it has enough food and water to support growth.  If it lands on food (organic material) it will simply wait for moisture to come in contact with it.  Once the moisture is present, growth will occur at an alarming rate, taking only days to become a nuisance.

There are two key points to be considered when doing mold remediation when the affected area has not been subjected to gross water problems (i.e. leaks in plumbing, HVAC, roof, window, wall, or basement).  These are (1) the temperature and (2) the %RH (relative humidity).

For unique temperature situations consider the room or section of a room and then consider the barrier to moisture.  For example, a single pane window on a cold day or vinyl wallpaper will sometimes be the root cause of mold because the temperature difference coupled with a substrate that does not have a high MVTR (moisture vapor transmission rate) will lead to mold growth.  For unique %RH situations, you must evaluate eaves, attics, crawlspaces, and cold pipes in the summer and basements, to root out all sources of water development.

Most of the building materials present in our buildings (except brick, concrete, and steel) are considered a food source for mold.  The best prescription for preventing moisture intrusion and mold formulation is a preventative maintenance program utilizing consultants and professionals qualified in building envelope technology and mold detection/remediation in combination with trusted on-call licensed contractors.

If you have new construction or a remodeling project in the horizon, working with a qualified, licensed contractor will help you prevent any moisture from entering the building. There are many construction materials marketed as “mold-resistant” today, including mold-resistant wood, drywall, paint, carpet, caulk and other sealants. A well-ventilated, dry environment will save on costly remediation services in the future.

For this, and more great articles, visit the Landmark Associates Blog.  Reprinted with permission from  on October 26, 2016 in Property ManagersTips for Homeowners

Posted by Amy Cafazzo, Studio A Marketing

10 Bathroom Dilemmas – Solved

August 7, 2017

From a casual analysis of popular search terms, we can draw a few conclusions about people’s feelings toward their bathrooms: They’re too small, there’s too much stuff in them, and when they’re not building up clogs, they’re springing leaks. To free you from these familiar annoyances, here we solve 11 common bathroom dilemmas in the simplest ways possible.

By Debra Immergut


  • How do I squeeze more storage into my small bathroom?

    Small bathroom storage

    Start by hanging plenty of hooks and getting a medicine cabinet with a mirror. Inexpensive stacked units are also great options to maximize space under the sink, in the shower, and behind the bathroom door. Do an online search, or check out the storage solutions at your local home goods or hardware store.

    Photo: ikea.com

  • How do I fix a running toilet?

    First, try jiggling the handle. If that doesn’t stop the toilet from running, open the tank lid and have a peek inside. Check out the flapper and flush valve, and clean or replace as necessary. If you continue to have a problem, drop a bit of food coloring into the tank. If you see the color seeping into the bowl, you may have a leak that requires further investigation.


  • How do I fix a clogged toilet?

    Start by grabbing your plunger. If it has a rubber flange, make sure it’s extended for the best seal. Angle it to cover the opening and start plunging, slowly at first, and then more vigorously. If you’ve given it 15 to 20 tries and the water still isn’t draining, you’ll need a plumber’s snake—or a plumber.

    How do I fix low water pressure in the shower?

    If the water pressure is just fine in other areas of the house, your shower head probably has a clogged nozzle. Unscrew the head and soak it in a vinegar-water solution. If that doesn’t work, you may need to invest in a new shower head.


  • How do I remove mold from my shower curtain?

    If you don’t want to take the curtain down, try spraying the spots with a bleach-infused spray cleanser, then rubbing them with a plastic scrubber and rinsing the curtain off with water. For a no-scrub solution, run the shower curtain through the washing machine on gentle cycle, using cold water and a cup or two of vinegar.


  • How can I improve bathroom ventilation?

    If you have a fan installed already, clean it by removing the cover, taking down and rinsing off the grille, and using a cloth and vacuum to get rid of all the dirt and dust that’s accumulated on the fan blades and in the housing. Get into the habit of always running the fan after you shower, or opening a window if you can. If you don’t have a fan, consider investing in one: It’s not a terribly expensive upgrade, and it cuts down on the growth of mold and mildew.


  • How can I fix a slow drain?

    Standard unclogging liquids are full of nasty chemicals, so either purchase a less toxic product or try pouring a half cup of baking soda and a whole cup of white vinegar down the drain. Cover the drain with a cloth or stopper for five minutes, then flush with a gallon of boiling water. If you suspect that there’s a lot of hair in the drain, pick up a plastic “hair snare” or “drain stick” at the hardware store. These long, flexible snakes have jagged teeth that grab at the clog and yank it out of the drain, solving the problem instantly.


  • What’s the best way to clean grout?

    Make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it to the dirty grout using a stiff plastic brush. Spray the paste with white vinegar, let it sit for a while, then scrub with your brush. If you have marble or stone tile, you may want to avoid this method and opt instead for a specialized cleaner to prevent surface damage.

  • How do I fix a leaky faucet?

    A worn-out washer is often the cause of a leaky faucet. To replace it, remove the handle (there’s usually a screw holding it in place) and use a crescent wrench to unscrew the nut and stem. You’ll find the seat washer underneath these. Replace it with one of the same size, then reassemble the faucet.

  • Where can I store my kids’ bath toys?

    The smartest option here is a mesh hammock that mounts on the tub or shower wall with suction cups. This solution will keep all those rubber and plastic doodads in one spot while allowing plenty of air to circulate around them. Letting the toys drain and air-dry will cut down on mold and bacteria growth. You could also try placing a colorful plastic basket near the tub, or hanging a perforated drawstring bag on a faucet or shower head.


Stuck and need help? Call us, we are here for you!

Jim Lavallee Plumbing
Serving Eastern Massachusetts and the Boston area (more…)
Phone: Toll-free (888) 884-4122


7 Things to Buy If You Want to Spend Less on Plumbing & Heating

August 7, 2017

Let’s face it: Owning a home isn’t cheap. You’re on the hook for mortgage payments and property taxes, of course, as well as maintenance and repair expenses. Under typical circumstances, cost-cutting options are frustratingly few, but there’s one crucial exception—utilities. You don’t pay a fixed price for things like electricity, water, and natural gas. Rather, from one month to the next, the size of your bill depends on the extent of your usage. That means it’s at least possible to reduce ongoing operating costs. For many families, however, it’s just not practical to cut back significantly on these key essentials of daily living. With smart upgrades to hardworking household fixtures and appliances, boosting efficiency and reducing waste can be easier than you think.

  1. Low-Flow Shower Head

    Aerating water saving shower heads

    There’s more than one way to save on your water bill. For instance, you can always bathe less often or take shorter showers. But in practice, many homeowners who try to conserve water ultimately fail to do so. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that installing a low-flow shower head saves the average family up to 2,900 gallons per year. Plus, because the water heater won’t have to work as hard, you’ll save not only water, but energy as well. For maximum savings, O’Brian specifies, “be sure to choose a shower head with a flow rate of no more than two gallons per minute.”

    Photo: supplyhouse.com

  2. Wi-Fi Thermostat

    Wifi thermostats

    Your father was right to guard the thermostat like a watchdog. In the average home, more than half of all energy dollars go toward cooling and heating, so it pays to moderate indoor temperatures whenever possible. That said, it’s a real pain to adjust the thermostat over and over, day after day. True, a programmable thermostat helps solve the problem by automatically adjusting the temperature settings on a preset schedule. Enter the Wi-Fi thermostat. By enabling you to adjust the temperature setting of your thermostat from anywhere—via your computer, tablet, or smartphone—a Wi-Fi thermostat gives you the power to capitalize on every opportunity for trimming HVAC costs, no matter where you happen to be.

    Photo: supplyhouse.com

  3. Tankless Water Heater

    Tankless water heater types

    It takes no small amount of energy (and more than a few energy dollars) for standard, storage-tank water heaters to keep a large volume of water always at the ready. That’s right: Even in the middle of the night, when there’s little chance that anyone wants to take a long, hot shower, traditional units chug along at full tilt. Fortunately, homeowners today enjoy an alternative—tankless water heaters. Because they operate on demand, only when a point-of-use fixture or appliance calls for hot water, tankless units slash energy consumption by a quarter or more, saving the average family approximately $1,700 over the lifetime of the water heater.

    Photo: supplyhouse.com

  4. HVAC Filter

    Hvac filter types

    The air filter in your HVAC system performs two pivotal roles simultaneously. For one, it defends the air you breathe from the harmful effects of dust, pollen, and other impurities. As well, it protects the HVAC system itself, helping to ensure its continued performance and longevity. Here’s the catch: As the filter removes more particles from the air, it gradually becomes clogged. At that point, if you don’t replace the filter (or at the very least clean it), you can say goodbye to energy efficiency.

    Photo: supplyhouse.com

  5. Hot Water Recirculation System

    Hot water recirculation system

    When you turn on the shower or sink faucet, does it take a while for the hot water to arrive? If so, you’re definitely not alone. The Department of Energy estimates that simply in waiting for the water to get hot, the average household wastes as much as 12,000 gallons per year. The issue is that as hot water flows through plumbing, it gradually cools down, and that cool water must come out first. To speed things up—for convenience as much as for savings—many homeowners opt to install a hot-water recirculation system. Recirculation sends cooled water back to the water heater to be reheated and reused, while the system pump compresses the travel time from the water heater to the fixture. No, it’s not a glamorous home upgrade, but it’s certainly an effective one.

    Photo: supplyhouse.com

  6. Outdoor Reset Boiler Control

    Outdoor boiler reset types

    If your home heating system depends on a boiler—if it’s a radiator, radiant floor, or hydronic baseboard system—listen up: You can increase energy efficiency by 15 percent with a simple accessory called an outdoor reset control. Affordable and easy to install, this add-on works by monitoring the outdoor temperature, calculating the indoor heating demand, and modulating boiler performance accordingly. That way, the boiler never runs longer or harder than necessary. There are a number of outdoor reset controls on the market, with varying features, but no matter which model you choose, the installation benefits are clear and compelling.

    Photo: supplyhouse.com

  7. Faucet Aerator

    Faucet aerator types

    Nowadays, faucets usually come with built-in aerators—disc-like doodads that limit the flow rate and inject air into the water as it leaves the pipe. That said, if you live in an older home with correspondingly old kitchen and bath fixtures, retrofitting each faucet with an aerator may be the quickest, cheapest, and easiest way to put a dent in your water bill. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, homes with faucet aerators save an average of 700 gallons of water per year, for a savings of about $50 each month. Bear in mind that actual savings depend on a range of factors, including the gallons-per-minute flow rate of your chosen aerator. It’s worth taking the time to choose wisely.

    Photo: supplyhouse.com

    Serving all your plumbing & heating needs. Contact us today!
    Jim Lavallee Plumbing
    Serving Eastern Massachusetts and the Boston area
    Phone: Toll-free (888) 884-4122

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