What’s That Growing Inside Your Home?

Eek!
BY: BILL DING

Jose Lima knows mold and mildew when he sees it. And he wants you to know a few things about it. The first is that mold spores are everywhere. Mold spores in general aren’t a problem, but they can become a problem very quickly given the right ambient conditions (heat and moisture).

The other thing he wants you to know is that if mold has infiltrated your home, it’s going to take more than the old home remedy of hitting it with bleach to get rid of it.

ozone.JPGJose is the owner of Prozone, a company that specializes in mold inspection and removal. He started Prozone after Hurricane Odile hit in 2014. He had been working as a photographer and small farmer, but the storm wiped out his farm and greenhouse. Even though insurance covered the damage, he had no business left, as the restaurants and hotels that had been his clients were focused on rebuilding.

Jose was evaluating his options, wondering how he could benefit from the construction that was occurring everywhere after Odile, when he remembered a previous job he’d had that had shown him how badly mold could affect people. Jose realized the same thing could happen here, so he went online to do some research and learned that he could certify himself as a mold inspector and to operate the ozone machines he uses now to kill mold.

Ozone is a gas that’s created when oxygen molecules are split into single atoms. These atoms combine with nearby oxygen to form a three-oxygen molecule. Ozone is good for killing mold and mildew because, at high levels, it deteriorates the mold’s cell structure and breaks down its ability to reproduce. According to Jose, ozone is 3,200 times more effective than bleach at killing mold. And because it’s a gas, it can kill the spores in the air that you can’t see.

Jose’s company uses machines (which look like something out of a sci-fi movie), to pump ozone throughout the homes they treat. As the ozone fills the house, every interior surface - including floors, ceilings, closets and furniture - gets sanitized. While ozone isn’t able to go through solid walls, it goes where normal air can go, even down into cracks and crevices. In houses that have central air conditioning systems, Jose will put the ozone into the air ducts, so it goes throughout the system.

“That’s when ozone is fantastic,” he says. “It’s one of the very few things that you can put inside the system that won’t damage the equipment.”

The ozone machines take about 12 hours to kill the mold. No people or pets can be in the house at the time. Jose’s clients usually leave the house for the night while the machines work, but you can also choose to have them start early in the morning, so they’ll be finished by the evening.

So, how can you tell if your house has a mold or mildew problem? Obviously, the easiest way is to see it. The other way is to smell it. And then there are the physical symptoms: if you’re continuously suffering from headaches or migraines, nausea, sneezing, teary eyes or asthma attacks, you might have a mold infestation in your home. And if you feel better once you’re outside of your house, when you’re at school or at work, that’s a big red flag.

Jose also recommends that anyone looking to buy a house in Los Cabos have a mold inspection done. “I think it’s a cultural gap,” he says. “Home surveyors in Mexico don’t look for mold. They look for leaks, at more of the architectural soundness of the building, but not mold. It’s a very, very specific field.”

And even if you don’t have any mold in your home, you can still use the ozone treatment as preventive maintenance.

Jose says it’s a common misconception that mold is a cleanliness issue; that’s not the case. He’s seen mold in low income properties and multi-million-dollar homes. He saw a $100,000 USD kitchen that had to be dismantled and rebuilt because of mold. The issue is moisture, and the mistake people make is in not tackling the mold fast enough or in the right way. That’s especially true in cases where there is water damage. Many people seal up the damaged rooms or areas instead of ventilating them, which causes the mold to grow faster.

Jose’s inspection services start at $350, depending on the size of the house. And it’s not just a visual inspection; he also uses an endoscope camera to go inside different areas and behind walls.

Ozone treatments start at $200, depending on the size of the house, and how many machines. For mansions, they have to go by sections. Jose says they can also treat boats and yachts. According to him, he is the qualified mold and mildew treatment provider in Los Cabos.

For more information, contact Jose by calling (624) 141-6627 or emailing him at clients@lahuertadelsol.com.