Do You Know How to Identify Black Mold in Your Home?

Posted Friday, November 11th, 2016

Is the Mold in My Home Harmless or Toxic?

Mold loves moisture and will grow wherever it is found. It quickly spreads in nooks and crannies in the bathroom, behind pipes in the kitchen, in basements, furniture and even your HVAC system. As most allergy sufferers know, many common molds can irritate allergies or cause other respiratory problems, including fungal infections in the lungs of elderly and other immunocompromised people. This makes it extremely dangerous for anyone living in a mold-infected home. Knowing how to identify black mold in your home—and prevent it from forming in the first place—is a key for any homeowner.

What is Black Mold?

Black mold is a fungus which produces mycotoxins that can be quite dangerous to humans. Though there’s insufficient evidence to conclusively link black mold to rare health complications, like acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage in infants, the CDC recommends preventing and removing black mold where you can. Since it can be expensive to remove mold once it’s colonized a large area, here are a few tips for identifying and avoiding black mold in your home.

Keep Your Home Consistently Dry

Mold quickly dies without water, so keep every space in your home at around 50% humidity. A good dehumidifier, regularly emptied, will often adequately dry damp spaces. Air conditioning will also help, particularly in warm humid climates. Be sure to run your home ventilation fans appropriately, so that the bathroom and kitchen stay as dry as possible when you shower or cook. If you notice a leaking pipe or appliance deal with it as soon as possible. Every drip creates a more hospitable environment for the mold spores that are constantly floating in the air.

Use Your Nose to Sniff Out the Source

Smelling something musty? Try to track it down to the source. You may know of a likely spot based on previous water damage, but if not, let your nose guide you. Does a certain area of the carpet, section of the wall, or piece of upholstery, seem particularly malodorous? It could be hiding a mold colony.

Spot the Mold (If You Can)

Sometimes mold grows behind walls or in fabric, making it hard to see. However, once you find the origin of the moldy smell, it’s possible you might notice visible mold. Mold comes in many colors: yellow, pink, orange, black, white, and green. Black mold is dark, as the name suggests, growing in a particular shade of blackish green. Other molds are also dark so the color alone is not enough to confirm that you do have black mold living in your home. Still, if you see patches of a black colored mold, you should take further steps immediately.

Test the Mold

The CDC has partnered with two biotech companies to sell revolutionary testing kits that rapidly detect several strains of mold. An affordable kit from either Advnt Biotechnologies or Alexeter Technologies comes with a user-friendly test strip, that should allow you to rapidly test your home for a variety of molds.  This can help you identify visible mold, or detect molds that hiding behind walls or in carpets and upholstery.

Eliminate Mold Colonies

There are a variety of home solutions for removing mold from various surfaces. Some tile and grout cleaners are specifically formulated to attack the mold growing on hard surfaces in your bathroom. A homemade bleach solution will usually kill mold on any hard surface. Mix a cup of bleach with a gallon of water, then wipe or spray over the moldy area. Allow it to sit, then clean it off thoroughly with rag or scrub brush.

Call for the Experts

If you smell mold in carpet or upholstery, professional cleaning is your best choice. Only professional cleaning equipment can penetrate deeply into fibers and padding, delivering a targeted amount of cleaning solution, and removing mold. Leather should also be cleaned professionally. With any delay, the problem will only get worse with time, potentially ruining your furniture and carpets.

When your mold problem has gotten out of hand, Modernistic is here to help. Our certified technicians offer a full list of services, including:

  • Professional evaluation
  • Air sampling and testing
  • Containment of the affected area
  • Growth removal and treatment of all affected areas
  • Disposal of affected materials
  • Re-testing of air samples

We can tackle the most resistant strains of mold, even when the growth is extensive. Don’t let mold destroy your belongings, your home and your health. Contact Modernistic today!

Serving Lansing, Michigan for 40 years.

Flood damage from a burst pipe? Here’s what to do.

Posted Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Your pipe burst and there’s water everywhere.

If water suddenly begins gushing from your washer, toilet, or sink, you’ve probably burst a pipe. It’s a serious problem, but if you act quickly, you can mitigate most of the damage. Mold, for example, won’t start to grow for at least 24 hours.

Your first step? Take a deep breath. The water is running and the clock is ticking, but panic will slow you down. Quick action will mitigate a lot of flood damage from a burst pipe. So put your game face on, call a plumber and Modernistic’s 24-hour emergency restoration team, and let’s get ready to tackle this.

Cut the power and turn off the water.

Water conducts electricity, and the two make a dangerous combination. To protect yourself and your family from serious injuries or even death, turn off the power to the flooded area and unplug nearby electrical appliances.

If the water is still running, shut it off. Check for any electrical appliances nearby, but be careful, especially if you’ll need to wade through water to reach the shut-off valve. If you have any reason to doubt your ability to safely shut off the water or electricity, stand back and wait for help to arrive.

Be aware of potential dangers from pollution.

Clean water running from the kitchen sink is unlikely to be polluted, but it can pick up grime and bacteria as it flows across the carpet or down the walls. Sewage from a toilet, on the other hand, will almost definitely carry harmful bacteria.

So what should you do? Wear gloves and boots if you can, and be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after the project. Be especially careful not to ingest any of the water, and keep an eye on children and pets who may be tempted to splash around.

Modernistic’s team will arrive in about an hour. What can you do until then?

Your homeowner’s insurance almost definitely covers damage from burst pipes, especially if you haven’t neglected routine maintenance or ignored minor problems. Grab a plastic bag or something waterproof to keep your camera secure and dry. As you survey flood damage from a burst pipe, snap photos for documentation. With this in hand, you’ll be more prepared to talk with your insurance agent about making claims.

When Modernistic’s crew arrives, you can leave further documentation to us.

Remove carpet, furniture, and valuables.

Do any valuables or heirlooms look salvageable? If so, move them to a dry place as soon as possible to prevent further damage or loss. Don’t spend too much time cleaning them, though — if there’s anything you can save for later, save it for later.

Unfortunately, many soaked items, like rugs and furniture, may not be salvageable. If anything looks too heavy or dangerous to remove, leave it – our expert crews will take care of it when they arrive. If the weather permits, and if you can do so easily and safely, you can hang rugs and other small items outside to dry.

Sop, mop, and remove the water.

The next step is to remove standing water, a task that becomes more difficult as the water gets deeper. If you’re lucky, all you’ll need is a mop and some towels to sop up the water. Once you finish, discard or thoroughly wash any sponges or towels you used. If you’re not so lucky and the water is too deep, wait for our crews to remove it.

Between the cracks and behind the drywall

Water damage can seep deep into your walls, floor, and ceiling, so a mop won’t be able to get all of it. Modernistic’s team will evaluate the area, identifying what’s been affected and how badly. After that, we’ll provide you with an itemized list of recommended services and a price quote.

Our professional, trained, and certified team will quickly remove water and moisture to minimize further damage. We’ll move and protect anything affected by water damage and provide you with industrial-strength air moves and dehumidifiers to dry the area beyond what a towel can do. We monitor and document the moisture levels daily until the area is completely dry.

After this, we’ll get to work restoring the damage.

Will my insurance cover flood damage from a burst pipe?

Nobody wants their pipes to burst, but it happens – and that’s what insurance is for. Dealing with paperwork and red tape can be a pain, but Modernistic is here to help.

While our crew takes care of the damaged area, we’ll also take care of you. We have working relationships with many insurance companies in Michigan, and our teams are familiar with the claim-filing process. We’ll document what needs documentation, keep you informed, and make sure your claim isn’t overlooked.

It’s stressful, but with Modernistic’s help, you can handle it.

We’ll be with you every step of the way, from assessing damage to filing claims.

Before long, your home will feel like home again.

Serving Grand Rapids and Ada for 40 years.

Simple & Quick Ways to Prevent House Fires

Posted Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

It’s Fire Season Here In Michigan

Every year, thousands of homes across Michigan are affected by house fires. Clogged dryer vents, open fireplaces, cooking mishaps, and many other hazards all increase your risk of a destructive fire affecting your home. Fortunately, there are a few Simple & Quick steps you can take to help protect yourself!

What You Can Do To Prevent House Fires

Each October, the NFPA makes fire safety front and center in order to help prevent fire disasters. Modernistic is proud to support Fire Prevention Month, and we would like to offer these Simple & Quick tips to help prevent house fires:

Check your smoke alarms!

Test and replace the batteries in all of your smoke detectors before they start chirping. Here’s an easy way to remember: change your smoke alarm batteries along with your clocks whenever there’s a time change.

Know where you keep your fire extinguishers!

Keep at least one fire extinguisher on each level of your home, and keep up on their expiration dates.

Don’t leave your heaters on!

Turn off portable heaters when you leave the room or when you go to bed. When you shut the lights off, shut off the heaters too!

Stay alert in the kitchen!

Keep a close eye on anything you are cooking, and try not to leave the kitchen while heating food.

Get the lint out!

Have Modernistic professionally clean your dryer vent once a year to remove flammable lint and debris.

No one wants to have to rebuild after a fire; We would know, Modernistic has been Fire Damage Restoration experts for years! By taking a few easy precautions you can avoid smoke odor, burn damage, and other complications from house fires. To learn more about Fire Damage Restoration, see our fire damage page here. Stay safe this season with these tips from Modernistic!

Storm damage? Here are your first steps.

Posted Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Storms are coming, Haslett. Are you ready?

Seasonal changes always bring story weather. While it’s important to protect yourself before the storm, what can you do after the damage is done? We know it’s a stressful time, so here are your first steps for tackling storm damage once the weather clears.

Safety first

If you see downed power lines, call 911 and the power company right away. Don’t touch the power lines, and keep your children and pets away.

If your house has electrical problems and flooding, turn off the power. Because water conducts electricity, stepping into a flooded basement with an electrical problem can cause serious injury or death. Turn off the power even if the power’s out—you don’t know when it will come back on, and you don’t want to be standing in water when it does.

Document all damage

Are your rugs stained from flood damage? Is your window cracked from the wind? Is your paint bubbling? What does your crawl space and attic look like? Are your roof shingles intact? Starty by taking photos, videos, and notes of all the damage and compile them into a detailed, itemized list. Then write down the date and time of the storm, and find news articles showing the storm hitting your area. This will come in handy when talking to your insurance company.

Call the insurance

Find out what your insurance policy covers. Michigan law allows homeowners to purchase insurance for flood damage and tree or debris removal in addition to their standard insurance policy. Every time you speak with the company or an agent, write down the date of the conversation and what you discussed. Then submit your itemized list of damages along with other required paperwork to make a claim.

Clean quickly and thoroughly

Time is of the essence in any cleanup job. Bacteria and mold love to grow in warm, damp, dark places, and they can flourish under your carpet and on the walls after a storm. Mold can be especially dangerous for people with allergies, asthma, or other respiratory problems.

In order to prevent mold and bacteria from spreading, keep wet areas open and well-ventilated. Open windows, crank up the dehumidifier, and disinfect to keep the microorganisms from spreading.

Bring in a professional team

If there is significant damage to your home, cleanup with be a big job and you’ll need help. At Modernistic, our 24/7 emergency response team is ready to be at your home, helping you repair damage in your hour of need. Our truck-mounted water extraction system will get the water out of your home, and our moisture mapping technology will ensure that we don’t miss any areas of potential mold growth. We can also work with your insurance company to help provide you peace of mind and help you get back in your home as quickly as possible.

Signs Your Basement Could Be at Risk for Flooding

Posted Thursday, September 29th, 2016

Is Your Basement at Risk For Water Damage?

A flooded basement is a homeowner’s nightmare. The water can destroy treasured possessions, ruin flooring, lead to structural damage, destroy wood or drywall, and create the right conditions for toxic molds to grow. Luckily there are a few ways to know whether your basement could be susceptible to water damage. Here’s how to check the signs your basement could be at risk for flooding.

Use Your Nose

Do you smell a musty odor? Mold and mildew need only slightly elevated levels of moisture to begin to grow, and your basement might be a good habitat. The concrete walls of your foundation are porous enough to allow moisture to pass through. And typically poor ventilation in basements traps humid air. However, you might have a small leak increasing the moisture in the basement, which could turn into a big problem after a heavy rain.

Look for Stained Walls and Blistering Paint

Is there visible discoloration, water marks, or bubbling paint on the walls of your basement? It’s easy to spot, and a clear sign of water seepage. On the ceiling rather than the walls, this might indicate a leaking pipe or water heater, or an improperly sealed toilet or tub. Wherever you see damage, it’s smart to call in a professional right away before more water enters the space.

What about cracks?

Most foundation walls have small vertical or diagonal cracks after they settle. However, if you noticed long horizontal cracks, especially if the walls are also bowing, you may have a serious problem, and should call a foundation contractor. Any crack, though, might be an entrance point for water, and could be closed with a sealant or caulk.

Step Outside

Check for worn seals on window wells, clogged gutters and downspouts, and adjacent ground that slopes towards your home. Each of these allows water to pool along the foundation. Pretty soon, some of that water will make its way into your basement. Make sure your home’s gutters are properly cleaned, the window wells are in good repair, and the ground slopes away from your walls on all sides.

Sump Pump Issues

If your sump pump doesn’t turn on when it should, you can look forward to floating boats across your basement. Make sure it is in good working order by having a contractor service it regularly. Also see that the discharge lines are insulated from freezing Michigan temperatures. It’s also important to monitor the lines for clogs, so that falling leaves or snow don’t prevent the water from draining properly.

Know When to Call for Help

After reading this, if you suspect your basement could be at risk for flooding, call a waterproofing professional. And remember that if the floodwaters do rise, Modernistic is ready to respond immediately with professional restoration services, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

How to prepare your house for a storm

Posted Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Sterling Heights: what steps should you take to guard your home before the storm hits?

They say in Michigan that if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes. And that’s true: the weather is changeable, and a big storm can hit with little warning, leaving you with very little time to prepare. However, there are steps you can take to be prepared in the event of a storm. How ready are you?

Make your emergency preparations before an emergency strikes.

You don’t wait to buy a first aid kit till you actually need one—by then it’s too late. Storm preparation in Michigan is the same way: they come in fast, and by the time you know one’s coming it’s too late to stock up. Take a moment to think about a big storm heading your way: what would you need now that you don’t have?

Invest in a generator.

If your house is at risk for flooding, make sure you have a generator installed and hooked up to your sump pump that will automatically turn on in case of a power failure. Otherwise, if the power fails while you’re away from home, you may return to a nasty situation. Gasoline generators usually need to be turned on manually, and will require you to have gas at hand for them to run. Whatever solution you chose, be sure you know how to start it and have the necessary fuel to get it running.

Where do you store your important items?

Many families store important documents in their basement, as it’s a seemingly obvious storage space. But if your basement floods, you could lose the documents you hoped to protect. If that still seems like the most reasonable choice, store them on a high shelf in a water-safe box.

Trim back trees near your home.

If you have a large tree near your house with branches close enough to touch, trim them back. A strong wind can cause those branches to knock against your home, causing damage to roofs, windows, and siding. If the tree seems to be in poor health, cut it down before it falls through your living room.

Clear away debris.

Make sure your gutters and downpipes drain properly: if they’re clogged, they could contribute to basement flooding. Also take time to clear debris from your yard. A fallen branch, or even toys left outside, can turn into a dangerous projectile during a storm.

Know who to call for damage control.

If a big storm hits and damages your home, you don’t want to be scrambling to find help last-minute. An emergency is a stressful time to make big decisions, and you want your home in good hands. Modernistic is at hand 24/7 to help repair your home after a big storm. So keep our number handy, and if you need us, we’ll be there.

Protect your home from basement flooding

Posted Monday, September 12th, 2016

Preventative measures will help limit the damage of flooding in your home.

Midland is no stranger to flooding. Like many Michigan cities, it boasts a network of lakes, streams, and wetlands, all of which contribute to a high water table. Not to mention the Tittabawassee River has been known to spill its banks. If you’ve experience basement flooding in the past, or if you’ve recently moved to the Midland area and would like to protect your new home, here are some preventative measures to take to limit the likelihood of basement flooding.

1. Make sure water flows away from your foundation.

When water begins to pool near your foundation, it increases the risk of basement flooding. Take some time after the next rainfall to check for any standing water near the base of your house. If you notice frequent pooling near your foundation after a rainfall, consider re-grading your lot to improve water flow. Keep your gutters, downspouts, and roof drains clear, and make sure they drain far away from your home.

2. Install a sump pump.

Sump pumps work by collecting potential flood waters into a basin, and then pumping them away from your home. They can be especially useful if your home’s foundation lies below the water table. To be extra secure, install a backup sump pump and an emergency generator so that your sump pumps will work even if you lose power.

3. Install a check valve.

Rainwater isn’t the only thing that can leak into your home. During a heavy rainfall, sewer lines can back up. A check valve makes sure that the sewer doesn’t back up all the way to your basement! They’re also one of the most affordable preventative measures you can take.

4. Limit your losses if flooding does occur.

Even after all these measures, your basement may still be at risk for flooding. However, you can limit the damage by storing important documents on a different floor or on higher shelving. Also consider hiring an electrician from a directory like to move your power outlets higher up the wall. Many homeowners use their basements as default storage spaces, but make sure anything valuable is stored high off the basement floor.

More information to protect your home from basement flooding

The City of Midland provides more information their website for how you can protect your home from basement flooding. And if the worst happens, Modernistic’s flooding restoration team is available 24/7 to respond to your emergency.

What to do if your basement floods

Posted Thursday, August 11th, 2016

Don’t worry, Kalamazoo, we’ve got your back.

Summers in Michigan are times of extreme weather shifts: scorching hot for days on end, and then a sudden storm barreling through from off the lakes. This leaves many areas around Michigan at risk for flooding, and river valleys such as Kalamazoo face extra risk.

If you’ve dealt with basement flooding in the past, you know it can be messy and expensive to clean up. However, you can mitigate the damage if you act quickly and call a professional. If you find water in your basement, here’s what you should do first.

1. Shut off all power

This is the absolute first priority. Do not go anywhere near flooded water in your basement until you are certain that there is no danger of electrical shock. If you are not certain how to turn off the power in your basement, contact someone who can do this for you.

2. Call a professional and contact your insurance

If there’s any significant level of standing water in your basement, you’re going to want a professional to help. Not only are they better qualified to assess damage and make safety recommendations, but they will be better equipped to handle the cleanup quickly and efficiently.

Also call your insurance company and file a claim. Keep track of all your information so that you can work with your cleanup team more efficiently.

3. Wear protective clothing

Depending on the source of your basement flooding and when you discovered it, the water in your basement could be quite dangerous. It could contain sewage, chemicals, and other pollutants. Definitely wear a face mask as well as rubber boots and gloves if you enter the flooded area.

4. Start pumping water out

Find out the source of the flooding and make sure no more water is leaking into your basement. Use a sump pump, a pool pump, a wet/dry vacuum, or (if there’s not a lot of water) a mop and bucket. If you don’t have these items, a professional can help.

5. Dispose of anything that could grow mold

Move dry items somewhere safe. Books, cardboard, and electronics are particularly vulnerable. Don’t touch anything that has already gotten wet, as you risk spreading mold to other parts of your house. Clothes and bedding can usually be washed, but will require special treatment to remove mold. You will have to dispose of anything that takes longer than 24–48 hours to dry, or which can’t be thoroughly cleaned once it is dry, as it poses a significant mold risk.

We can help you with emergency restoration if your basement floods

No homeowner wants to come home to a flooded basement. Depending on the damage, it can be a very upsetting time. The best solution, practically and emotionally, is to move quickly and get help as soon as possible.

At Modernistic, we are available 24/7 to respond to your flood emergency, and our aim is to have a cleanup crew at your door within 60 to 90 minutes. Our IICRC- and RIA-certified technicians can handle every stage of the cleanup, bringing you peace of mind and returning your life to normal as quickly as possible.

If you need our help, contact us immediately.