Video: NBC New York: Storm Damage Repair Warning

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For some local residents, the damage left behind by recent storms will require major work. But as NBC New York’s Ken Buffa explains, rushing to make those repairs could have serious lasting consequences. Here’s the story:

Robert Weitz, a certified microbial investigator and founder of RTK Environmental offers this additional advice:

Make Sure You Have A Plan

If you’ve endured any kind of damage, you need a plan. Here are some steps to put into action:

  • Inspect the damage. Be sure to take photos and video of everything for insurance purposes;
  • Contact your insurance company and FEMA to find out what benefits and help may be available to you;
  • Throw away any still-wet materials. They are likely to contain mold growth;
  • Dry out areas with water damage completely;
  • Check for wind and tree damage on the roof and windows, which can cause leaks and subsequent mold;
  • If you lost power, check appliances that use water, such as refrigerators or washers, for leakage and mold – both inside and around them.

Don’t Go In Blind

  • If you have damage, start with an environmental inspection to assess your current and future environmental risk.
  • An independent examination will pinpoint exactly what needs to be removed, what’s salvageable, and which environmental hazards are present or could occur.

Don’t Hire the Wrong Contractor

  • Beware of any “one-stop-shop” contractors who both test for environmental hazards and perform the repairs. That’s a conflict of interest and a red flag.
  • After Hurricane Sandy, so many consumers were duped by contractors offering to both test and remediate, that New York State passed a law that makes it illegal for the same company to test and remediate mold on the same job. In addition, mold inspectors and contractors must now be certified by the state to ensure that they are properly trained to handle your mold problem.

Don’t Pre-Pay for Services

  • Never pre-pay for work to “hold a timeslot,” or give a large down payment before any work has started.
  • Check contractors and testing companies on verified sites like the Better Business Bureau and Angie’s List.

Testing Before and After You Rebuild

  • If you rebuild before a water-damaged area is completely dried out, you will be sealing mold into your walls. Mold can easily grow back and cause major damage.
  • Test before you rebuild and have a blueprint for removal.
  • Afterwards, test to be sure the job was done correctly and the mold was cleaned up properly.

Obtain Proper Documentation

  • An independent environmental testing company will provide you with a detailed report, documenting that your home is cleared to be rebuilt. This documentation will be critical when you sell your home or file insurance claims.
  • To ensure that your document holds up in court or elsewhere, make sure the testing company is certified, licensed, insured, and does not perform remediation, which could result in a conflict of interest claim.

Get the Proper Paperwork

  • If your home sustains water damage again and mold returns, your insurance company may question whether the mold was actually caused by the new event or the old one.
  • Without independent proof that an inspector found your home to be mold-safe after earlier repairs, the insurance company might take the position that a new claim is not justified or that you have met your policy limit.

Call us today with any questions or to schedule a test at (800) 392-6468.

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