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Flooding & Water Damage Asbestos Healthy Home Lead Mold Mold Testing

6 Mistakes People Make When Rebuilding After a Storm

6 Mistakes People Make When Rebuilding After a Storm

 

Recent storms have caused a great deal of damage and mold. Knowing what to do in the event that you have flooding and water damage is critical in preventing mold growth. Additionally, there are several things to know about rebuilding, which you may not be aware of. Whatever phase of the post-storm cleanup you are in, these tips can help you get your life back to normal.

Avoid These 6 Mistakes:

  1. Don’t Rebuild Too Quickly

Many people make the mistake of ripping out wet materials right away and not letting the area dry out completely before they rebuild. This can cause major hassles down the road, as mold will grow with a vengeance.

wet sheetrock

  1. Wet Sheetrock

Mold loves to grow on sheetrock, so you want to ensure everything near the new sheetrock is clean and dry. Be sure to clean wood framing before putting sheetrock back. Also make sure concrete floors are dry. If there is any moisture still left, you run the risk of regrowing your mold problem.

wet fiberglass

  1. Don’t Leave Wet Fiberglass Insulation in Walls

Wet fiberglass insulation left in wall cavities can turn into a hidden mold nightmare. Make sure you remove and replace any wet insulation before you restore the sheetrock. This can save you thousands in unnecessary repairs.

lead and asbestos hazards

  1. Disturbing Asbestos and Lead Paint

In a rush to put things back to normal, many people don’t realize that when they are ripping out wet and damaged materials, they may be inadvertently disturbing asbestos fibers and lead paint, which are both serious health hazards. The only way to know what you are about to unleash in your home is to have the area tested for lead and asbestos, especially if your home was built prior to 1980.

mold testing after a storm

  1. Test for Mold Before and After Remediation

Why test twice? Simple. The first test is to identify where the mold is, and map out what really needs to be removed and remediated. This can save thousands in unnecessary repairs.

 

The second test is called a clearance test which occurs after remediation, which is important for a few reasons. Primarily, you want to ensure that the mold was removed properly, as your health is at stake. Additionally, it’s important for future insurance claims. If your home floods again and mold returns, your insurance company may question whether the mold was caused by the new event. Without proof that your home was deemed mold-free after repairs were made, the insurance company might take the position that a new claim is not justified or that you have met your policy limit. Finally, if you are in an area prone to storms and flooding, when reselling your home, you may be asked to prove that your home is free from toxins.

wet carpet mold

  1. Don’t Keep Wet Flooring

Nobody wants to throw out a floor. But if water has made its way below the carpeting, tiles, or wood flooring, you may have mold growing where you can’t see it. Rebuilding the walls and ceilings above it without removing the affected area is a waste of money if you don’t fix the underlying issue. An independent mold test can tell you whether your flooring is salvageable.

 

An independent, certified testing company like RTK Environmental does not do remediation, and therefore, offers consumers an unbiased opinion about any contamination. If you have questions about recent water damage or restoration, call us at 800.392.6468.

 

Categories
Flooding & Water Damage Indoor Air Quality & Radon Mold

Fall Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Winter

Fall Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Winter

With autumn in full swing, take advantage of the crisp days and sunshine to prepare your home for winter. Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, complete these tasks and you won’t spend a fortune on home repairs this winter.


gutters mold
Clean your gutters.

It’s a hassle, but you should clean your gutters before the temperature drops to help prevent ice dams, which form when melted snow pools and refreezes at roof edges and eaves. This ridge of ice then prevents water caused by melting snow from draining from the roof. Since it has nowhere to go, the water can leak into your home and damage walls, ceilings, and insulation. Water damage will soon be followed by mold. No matter what the season, gutters filled with heavy leaves can pull away from your house and cause leaks that damage your home and lead to mold growth. Also be sure your downspouts are angled away from your home to prevent leaks in the basement.

Check your roof for leaks.

You certainly don’t want to start your winter with a leaky roof. Check your ceilings for water spots, mold, or stains. If you spot them, before you call in a roofer, have a mold inspector test your home for mold. That way you’ll know exactly what needs to be replaced so the mold doesn’t come back. You may have small stains or dark spots now, but once the heavy snow sets in, the problem could get much worse, and you could wind up with a full blown mold infestation. You should also check your attic for moisture, as mold can easily grow there if it is not properly ventilated.

Clean your HVAC units, fireplace, furnace, and wood-burning stove.

Indoor air quality suffers in the winter because your home is closed up most of the time. Toxic fumes, including carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), can be emitted from fireplace and wood burning stove smoke and may back up into the house, which can cause serious health issues. Mold and dust can also build up in HVAC units over the summer months, then spread throughout your home when the heat is turned on. To make sure your indoor air quality is at an acceptable level, schedule a test from an environmental inspector like RTK Environmental Group. They will test for VOCs, mold, particulate matter, and other chemicals. For additional tips on indoor air quality, visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s Web site.

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Lead Health Healthy Home

Prevent Lead Poisoning: Get Your Home Tested, Get Your Child Tested, Says the EPA

Prevent Lead Poisoning: Get Your Home Tested, Get Your Child Tested, Says the EPA

Protect Your Children By Following These Preventive Do’s and Don’ts

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is October 24th – 30th

prevent lead poisoningAlthough lead poisoning is the #1 preventable childhood disease in the US, every year, over 500,000 children under the age of six are diagnosed with lead poisoning. Incredibly, this figure does not include the number of children between the ages of six and eighteen that already suffer from lead poisoning. In addition, many other children have not yet been diagnosed, especially since the numbers of children tested during COVID dropped.

To that extent, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that in the early months of the pandemic, roughly 10,000 children with elevated levels of lead in their blood may have gone undetected. Additionally, the CDC estimates that more than 20 million housing units in the United States contain lead-based paint, which was banned in 1978, so with the stay-at-home orders that were in place for over a year, more children were consistently exposed to lead. About 3.3 million American households have children under 6 years of age who live in homes with lead exposure hazards. Even relatively low levels of lead exposure can impair a child’s cognitive development.

lead in water testTo alert parents that they need to act to protect their children from the permanent and irreversible damage of lead poisoning, the U.S. Environmental Protection Action has designated Oct. 24 – 30 National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. Early action, especially testing the home for the presence of lead paint and lead dust — will help to prevent serious health problems and save lives, since even small levels of lead exposure can irreversibly influence children’s development. Lead poisoning causes autism-like symptoms, brain damage, lower IQ, ADD, violent tendencies, and behavior and learning problems, among other devastating issues.

The more parents know about lead poisoning, the less likely their children will be harmed. Here are eight valuable do’s and don’ts from Robert Weitz, a licensed lead consultant and principal of RTK Environmental Group, to help protect you and your family from the devastating effects of lead poisoning.

DO’S:

1. Understand the facts about lead paint.

lead paint hazardsLead was an additive in residential paint until 1978. When disturbed, it is highly toxic and dangerous to your health. Lead paint and lead dust, which forms when lead paint deteriorates, or is chipped away or sanded, both cause lead poisoning. Contrary to what most people think, a child doesn’t have to eat paint chips to get lead poisoning. Most lead dust is invisible, travels through the air, and is very harmful when inhaled. Lead dust is the most common form of lead poisoning.

2. Have your home tested for lead paint, especially if it was built before 1978.

Whether you are planning to renovate or are moving into a new home, have your home tested for lead paint to see if you and your family are at risk. Hire an independent, certified testing company that only conducts testing and does not do abatement, as that is a major conflict of interest.

3. Know the sources of lead poisoning.

Lead paint that is ingested is the primary cause of lead poisoning. It can be in the form of lead paint chips or lead dust released from window frames, doors, stairs, or multiple interior components, or uncontained renovations, which gets into the air, water, soil, and on the floor. Lead dust can also be found on playground equipment, pools, and toys. Other sources of lead are older pipes and plumbing fixtures, stained glass, toys, pottery glazes, leaded crystal, jewelry, antiques, folk remedies, food cans, artificial turf, and more.

4. Take proper precautions when renovating.

Before you start any renovation, whether you hire a contractor or do-it-yourself, have your home tested to see if and where you have lead paint. If your home was built before 1978, chances are that there is lead somewhere. And unless you know where the lead is lurking, you or your contractor can unknowingly release toxic lead dust into the air. If a professional lead inspection firm finds lead remnants in your home, you will likely need a lead cleanup plan.

DON’TS:

1. Don’t assume lead poisoning cannot happen to you.

Lead poisoning does not discriminate. Many people believe that lead poisoning occurs only in inner city housing, yet as of the 2010 Census, suburban, owner occupied homes are now the main cause of lead poisoning in the US. Unfortunately, in suburban and rural areas, most people do not even consider the lead paint dangers that may be in their homes. Whether you live in an 1800’s Victorian mansion or a studio apartment in a big city, if your home contains lead paint, you and your family are susceptible to lead poisoning.

2. Never let an unlicensed contractor work on your home, especially if it contains lead paint.

lead testing new yorkThe company that does your work – from a simple painting job to a full-house renovation – must be certified in lead-safe work practices by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Do not let a tradesperson tell you certification is not needed. It is. Under the EPA’s Renovation, Repair, and Paint rule (RRP), all work performed on painted surfaces in a pre-1978 built home must follow a strict protocol. Certified tradespeople have to document the work they perform. Once the work is performed, the next and very important step is to have the environmental testing firm conduct a second lead test to be sure your home is 100 percent lead free.

3. Don’t assume your pediatrician tests your child for lead.

Pediatrician Lead TestingIn some states, lead screening for children under the age of three is mandatory. But in most, it is left at the discretion of the pediatrician. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, testing for lead poisoning often depends on where you live. The best way for you to know if you child has been tested for lead poisoning is to ask your pediatrician. If your doctor does not automatically test for lead, ask that it be done. It’s a simple blood test and could save your child’s life.

If you would like to schedule lead testing, give us a call at 800.392.6468 or click here.

Categories
Mold Video

Video: The Importance of Cleaning Your Gutters Each Fall

 

The Importance of Cleaning Your Gutters Each Fall

Ever wonder why you may get ice dams in the winter, which lead to leaks, flooding and mold?

Probably because you didn’t take the time to properly clean your gutters and downspouts from leaves and debris in the fall.

Robert Weitz, certified microbial investigator and principal of RTK Environmental Group, explains what you can do now to prevent ice dams and mold later.

 

Categories
Indoor Air Quality & Radon Mold

How to Filter and Clean Indoor Air to Keep You Healthy

How to Filter and Clean Indoor Air to Keep You Healthy

Almost all the air pollution indoors is caused by things within the house such as your gas stove or furniture. These things release gas and other debris into the air. Day-to-day living inside the home and pets can also cause indoor issues such as mold, dander, and dust. Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are also a major polluter. Here are some tips for improving indoor air quality. 

Checking the ventilation

clean HVAC systemAir exchange and ventilation within a house are key components of your HVAC or Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning system. They are extremely useful for maintaining clean air inside a home. You must monitor the ventilation in your home, and be sure to check for mold. Inspect the vents outside the home. They need to be open and also keep the return air vents clean. These vents within the house are also significant for improving the air quality of your home. It is a good idea to have an exhaust fan inside the kitchen. If the kitchen doesn’t have an exhaust fan, just open a window while cooking. Using exhaust fans in the kitchen is particularly significant when you are cooking by using a gas stove. Stoves and heaters that burn fuel also release carbon monoxide which can make you sick.

It is also a good idea to open the window slightly while you are using a gas heater. Keep the fireplace flue open if you have a wood-burning fireplace. When you have a wood-burning fireplace you will have flue accumulated within your chimney. The chimney is the duct that releases gas and smoke from the fireplace outside your home. If you fail to open it, this smoke will engulf and pollute the living area of your house. Almost all the air conditioners these days have a digital thermostat for regulating the temperatures and an air filter for filtering out the debris and dust. 

Controlling the moisture

control moisture to prevent moldExcessive moisture within the house can lead to the growth of mold, mildew, bacteria, and bugs. They can be caused by moist vapor such as water-damaged areas, steam, and standing water. For keeping the bathroom air clean, use your bathroom exhaust fan that can eliminate the contaminants from the bathrooms. The kitchen exhaust fan can also pull out the humidity caused by cooking and washing.

When you are living in humid areas you can use a dehumidifier to get rid of excessive moisture. Your dryer vent must be vented outside for moving heat, chemicals, and moisture outside. In case your home was damaged by flood water or other water problems just fix the issues. In case the dryer is unvented or is not working properly you will have particles and moisture within your laundry area. In case the dryer is gas-fired it might even release carbon monoxide when it is not properly vented. 

Beware of VOCs

VOCs are toxic vapors that are off-gassed from man-made materials, and everyday household items. VOCs cause poor indoor air quality. Exposure to VOCs can leave you feeling sick without explanation or a known cause. They can be very dangerous to your health and can be toxic. Unfortunately, VOCs are found in many places, including new carpeting, bedding, and furniture; composite wood products, like cabinets and flooring; paint; copiers and printers; adhesives, personal care products, vinyl shower curtains or tile; scented candles; cleaning and disinfecting chemicals, air fresheners, laundry detergents – the list just goes on. Proper ventilation and the use of low- or no-VOC emitting products will help ease the potential side effects of these toxic gases.

Do not smoke indoors

Smoking and the secondary smoke caused by smoking are both hazardous for your health. Smoking cigarettes releases several harmful chemicals that are capable of making you sick. Adults and children that are exposed to this secondary smoke have greater chances of being affected by heart diseases. Even the kids are likely to receive lung infections, ear infections, aggravated allergies, and asthma. Yet, your home can have clean air even if you are a smoker. You can either quit smoking or smoke outside the home. Make it a point to smoke outside even when the weather is wet, cold, or uncomfortable. While smoking outside, ensure that all the windows and doors to the house are closed and the smoke will not make its way back inside the living area.

Growing air purifying plants

air purifying plantsHouseplants are great for cleaning the air in your home. They can remove VOCs, which irritate eyes and skin or make it hard to breathe due to their build-up potential on carpets and fabrics. English ivy is a popular choice because its leaves naturally scrub away dirt from surfaces while removing these noxious molecules at the same time! When growing indoor plants, you might have to use LED grow lights as a source of light in spaces where sunlight is missing. These grow lights will help your plants grow fast and healthy.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that maintenance of your systems, vents, and filters together with the use of good practices are significant for maintaining clean air inside the house. If you suspect mold or VOCs are causing an issue, hire an independent environmental testing company – one that does not also remediate, as this is a clear conflict of interest. It is a good idea to get a licensed HVAC contractor to inspect the existing systems and ensure that you are on the right track and taking the right steps. If you are unable to fix the problems immediately, try to get rid of the damaged instruments. Allowing the damaged instruments to sit in the home can lead to bacteria and mold growth, among other things, and this can make you and your family sick.

 

Categories
Healthy Home Indoor Air Quality & Radon

18 Common Things in Your Home Polluting Your Indoor Air

Headaches? Tired for no reason? You are not alone. If you’ve been feeling sick without explanation or without a known cause, you may have an indoor air quality issue caused by everyday items that release volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, into the environment.

VOCs are toxic vapors that are off-gassed from man-made materials, and everyday items in your home or workplace. They cause poor indoor air quality, commonly referred to as Pillow fabric release VOCs“indoor air pollution.”  VOCs can be toxic, and very dangerous to your health.

Common symptoms of VOC exposure include headaches, fatigue and listlessness, dizziness, nausea, nervousness, and difficulty concentrating. Long-term exposure to VOCs can result in cancer, and damage to the kidneys, liver, and central nervous system. The only way to know what is in your air is to have it tested. So where do VOCs come from?

Here’s a list of the top indoor air quality polluters:

  1. New carpeting
  2. Furniture and cabinets, VOCs in the homeespecially those made of composite material
  3. New bedding, mattresses, and pillows
  4. Paint
  5. Photocopiers and printers
  6. Newspapers
  7. Adhesives and glues
  8. Cosmetics and toiletries
  9. Permanent markers and DIY craft supplies
  10. Vinyl, such as shower curtains or tile
  11. Scented candles
  12. Fabrics
  13. Cleaning and disinfecting chemicals
  14. Air fresheners
  15. Moth balls
  16. Dry cleaning and laundry detergents
  17. Wood-burning stoves
  18. New cars (that “new car” smell)

If you suspect that your indoor air quality may be causing health issues, have your home tested. RTK can test to scented candlesdetermine if there are dangerous levels of mold or chemicals and VOCs in your home including formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and chemical particles. We can then determine what the source of your contamination is. We also test for common asthma triggers, such as dust mites and insects cells. Once you have the results, we can show you how to eliminate the source of the problem, and how to keep future household chemical contamination under control. For information on when to conduct an indoor air quality test, visit our IAQ and Radon page.

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Healthy Home Mold

Mold That Cross Contaminates: A Growing Problem

Mold That Cross Contaminates: A Growing Problem

Unhealthy indoor mold spores are microscopic, and when disturbed, travel quickly and easily through the air, landing wherever the current takes them. That’s the problem with indoor mold. First, mold spores form colonies and grow quickly. Second, they spread easily and can cross contaminate “clean” spaces if not properly handled. Once mold spores spread, your problems grow – literally.

How Does Cross Contamination Occur?

Cross contamination occurs in a variety of ways:

HVAC Units

  • mold cross contaminationMold spores are microscopic, so HVAC units can easily spread clusters of spores through ductwork. Mold spores in a basement can be propelled through HVAC ducts and contaminate clean spaces, even on another floor!

Improper remediation

  • There are terrific remediation companies that do great work. And, there are some remediation companies that don’t properly train their employees, leading to sloppiness and carelessness. If your contractor did not properly contain areas where mold was being removed, they may have inadvertently released the spores into the air and contaminated other parts of your living space. Less-than-reputable contractors may look to take advantage of homeowners who want to quickly fix a mold concern following a major storm or hurricane.

Forgetting to remove contaminated clothing

  • mold contamination Mold spores are frequent travelers. Spores can adhere to your shoes or clothing, which can carry them from one room to another. It’s important to remove shoes and clothing and clean them after you’ve been in an area that is contaminated by mold.

Moving contaminated objects around

  • Moving objects and contents from a contaminated area to other parts of your home or office can also pose a threat of cross contamination. Ask an expert like RTK before removing items from a room where you can see mold. It’s a simple question that could save you thousands in additional remediation.

How Will I Know If I Have Mold Cross Contamination?

mold inspectionThe only way to know if mold has spread to other areas of your home or office is to have it tested by an independent mold testing company like RTK. A complete mold inspection involves testing in other areas where mold may not be visible. Our trained and licensed inspectors take air samples in multiple rooms to pinpoint all the mold contamination. A few extra samples at the beginning can save you a lot of money later in cleanup costs, protect your health, and document which rooms were and were not contaminated before remediation.

What Can I Do to Avoid Cross Contamination?

The first thing to do is to check for mold. During a mold inspection, additional mold samples may be taken to assess potential cross contamination into other areas of the property. Once you know where the mold problem is, it can be properly contained and removed.

An independent testing company will identify contaminated areas and provide a “blueprint” for remediation. Then, make sure you are working with an experienced, professional mold remediation company who will follow proper procedures to remove mold contamination without the risk of cross contamination.

Remember, a reputable company will only remediate and will not test for mold because that is a clear conflict of interest (and illegal in New York State). Here’s what a reputable remediation company will do:

  • proper mold remediationWear proper safety gear
  • Seal off the work area using plastic sheeting so that mold spores do not become dispersed throughout the home
  • Use HEPA vacuums, HEPA air scrubbers, air exchange and commercial-strength dehumidifiers to ensure the air is properly cleaned of airborne mold spores once the physical removal of mold is complete
  • Use an antimicrobial chemical to clean any remaining mold after remediation
  • Apply a sealer or encapsulant to make the treated areas more resistant to water damage and mold, and to minimize possible odors

Once mold remediation is complete, have a clearance test performed to ensure work was done properly and ensure that cross contamination has not occurred.

If you have a mold problem, take action to prevent cross contamination. Speak with your RTK mold inspector about your situation; the inspector will be able to assess potential hazards and keep your mold problem to a minimum.

 

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Healthy Home Indoor Air Quality & Radon

Indoor Air Quality and Your HVAC System: Steps to Take Now

Indoor Air Quality and Your HVAC System: Steps to Take Now

In the northeast, it’s almost time to turn on the heat. But before you do, check the condition of your HVAC system. If it is not clean, you may wind up with poor indoor air quality, and that can open a can of worms. This is especially important now that we are still spending a great deal of time at home due to the Coronavirus pandemic. If the air we are breathing is not healthy and contains toxins, we are more susceptible to getting sick.

dust in hvacOver time, dust and debris collect in HVAC and heating units, which means when you turn on the heat, you may get a dirty surprise. Worse, the system may also be harboring mold.

During summer months, condensation, which can cause mold growth, often occurs in HVAC units and associated ducting. Once the heat is turned on, microscopic mold spores can easily spread through ductwork. The spores can contaminate clean spaces anywhere in a home or office.

Signs of Mold In Air Ducts:

  1. There is a musty smell in the home or office.
  2. You are experiencing allergic symptoms, which may include a runny nose, trouble breathing, rash, or watering eyes.
  3. When you turn on the heat, your nose, throat, and eyes feel irritated.
  4. You suffer from unexplained headaches that go away when you leave the premises.
  5. You feel nausea, fatigue, and dizziness only when you are home or at the office.
  6. You see mold growing in the intake vents and around the air ducts and drip pans.
  7. There is staining around the vents.

hvac moldIf you think you may have mold in your HVAC system, the best course of action is to have the system tested. An independent company, like RTK, can assess whether you will be spreading mold spores when you turn on the heat. If you’ve already turned on the heat and weren’t aware that you had an issue, you may opt for a mold and IAQ test to ensure mold didn’t spread when it was initially turned on, as this can cause further problems.

Meanwhile, be sure to have your HVAC unit cleaned prior to turning on the heat to prevent indoor air pollution. Also, be sure to change your filters and clean the drip pans.

Mold and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are the most common causes of indoor air pollution, and can easily be tested for and treated. Call RTK to schedule a test today. We follow strict health protocols for COVID, and wear our masks and protective equipment properly.

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Flooding & Water Damage Mold

Quick Guide to Clean Up a Flooded Basement

Quick Guide to Clean Up a Flooded Basement

More heavy rain is causing problems for home and business owners throughout the Tri-State area. Flooded basements are everywhere.

With the torrential rains, flooding is rampant because the ground cannot handle the volume of water due to a high water table. The pools of water in your yard and close to your home’s foundation could indicate that water may be seeping into your basement. Once your basement gets wet, it becomes a prime area for mold growth, which can emerge within 24 – 48 hours, and even spread throughout your home.

Mold causes serious health issues, including asthma, allergies, headaches, fatigue, and coughing. Exposure to toxic black mold causes more severe health consequences, including chronic bronchitis, heart problems, learning disabilities, mental deficiencies, and multiple sclerosis. Here are steps you can take to prevent mold growth.

Top 4 tips to prevent mold growth in your flooded basement:

1. Make sure the drain in your basement floor is free from debris and the sump pump is working.

This will help the water drain properly. Also, make sure your sump pump is working, if you have one. Sometimes after the power goes out, your sump pump may need to be reset before it kicks on.

2. Remove anything from the floor that is wet.

Boxes, toys, carpeting, and any other cellulose materials are very susceptible to mold growth. Get them out of the water and to an area that they can dry out in. If they can’t be dried within 24 hours, they may become infested with mold and need to be discarded.

3. Pump or vacuum the water from the area quickly.

You can also mop it out. Remember, the soil outside is already saturated, so be careful not to pump out the area too fast. The water still has nowhere to go, and the pressure of the water on the outside of your home could damage your basement wall, or even collapse it.

4. Use fans, a dehumidifier, and ventilate the area well.

 

After the flooding has stopped and the bulk of the water has been removed, you need to dry the rest of the area with fans, including concrete floors, drywall, wood, and more. Then, use a dehumidifier, set to no higher than 50%, to combat residual moisture, which causes higher humidity, and provides an idea environment for mold to grow. Mold in your home can cause health issues and make asthma symptoms worse.

If you are unable to take these steps quickly or are unsure as to whether you already have a mold problem, the best thing to do for the health of your family and your home is to call in a professional, like RTK, to conduct a mold test.

Categories
Flooding & Water Damage Asbestos Healthy Home Lead

Post-Hurricane Cleanup Guide

Post-Hurricane Cleanup Guide

Flooding and water damage from storms and hurricanes can be devastating. Knowing what to do in the event that you’ve experienced an indoor water intrusion is critical in preventing and stopping mold growth. Additionally, there are several things to know about rebuilding, which you may not be aware of. Whatever phase of the post-storm cleanup you are in, these tips can help you get your life back to normal.

Get a Plan Together

Hurricane Flooding DamageDon’t rush repairs after water damage occurs. Improper demolition or renovation may not only cost you thousands more in unnecessary repairs, it can also send a host of toxins into parts of your home that were not affected, including mold spores, lead dust, and asbestos. The first step is to get an independent environmental inspection from a company like RTK Environmental Group. The independent inspection can protect your financial interests by pinpointing exactly what needs to be removed, what’s salvageable, and which environmental hazards are present.

Why is “independent” important?Have damage, but haven’t done anything yet? Here’s what you need to do first.

  • Inspect the damage. Be sure to take video and photos of everything for insurance purposes.
  • If more than 24 – 48 hours has passed, contact an independent inspection company like RTK Environmental to do a mold assessment, as mold has likely grown during that time.
  • Contact FEMA and your insurance company to find out what benefits and help may be available to you.
  • Call 800.392.6468 and have RTK pinpoint the extent of the repairs needed, and identify any health hazards like moldleadasbestos, and bacteria from sewage.
  • Check for roof and window damage, which may have caused leaks and mold.

Decide Whether to Hire a Remediation Firm or Do the Work Yourself

Mold remediationWhether you choose to do the work yourself or hire a contractor will depend on the size and scope of the damage, and the potential environmental hazards involved. Once you have the results of independent mold, lead, and/or asbestos testing, you will have a good idea as to whether you can handle it or not. Remember: Beware of any contractor who both tests for environmental hazards and performs the repairs. It’s a conflict of interest, and they stand to make money remediating any “problems” they find. 

If you decide to do the work yourself, here’s what to know first:

  • If the area is more than a 3’x3’ area, the EPA does not recommend you remove the mold yourself. Anything larger should be handled by a professional.
  • Please be aware that contaminants, from sewage to bacteria, reside in floodwater. These are serious health hazards, and can cause severe illness.
  • Know that if your house was built before 1980, it may contain asbestos and lead, which when disturbed are serious, even deadly, health hazards. Be sure to test for lead and asbestos before doing any demolition that may cause the fibers and dust to become airborne so you know how to prepare.
  • asbestos warningHave an RTK certified microbial investigator test the area after you’ve completed the work to ensure that you haven’t missed anything during the repair process.
  • Keep the RTK inspection report in a safe place so you have proof of proper repair should you decide to sell your home.
  • Call RTK Environmental Group at 800.392.6486 if you have any questions. We’re happy to help.

Following any removal and remediation, here are some things to consider:

Test Before and After You Rebuild

If you rebuild before the area is completely dried out, you will be sealing mold into your walls. The mold will grow back and cause major damage. This happened quite often during Sandy, and RTK saw hundreds of mold regrowth cases over the next several years. Walls that were rebuilt had to be taken down, mold remediation was performed again, and homes were rebuilt a second time. And, it has been determined that potentially thousands of demolition projects occurred without proper testing for asbestos or lead paint.

Test your home for mold before you rebuild to make sure you know where the problem is. Test your home after you rebuild to be sure the job was done correctly, the mold was cleaned up properly, and there are no remaining lead or asbestos hazards present.

Protect Yourself with Proper Documentation

test before you rebuildAn independent environmental testing company will provide you with a detailed report, documenting that your home is safe or is cleared to be rebuilt and has a safe environmental toxin level (mold, lead, asbestos, radon, bacteria, and other toxins). This documentation will be critical when you sell your home or for insurance claims. To ensure that your document will hold up in possible legal situations or in court, make sure the company that performs the testing is certified, licensed, insured, and does not perform remediation, which could result in a conflict-of-interest claim.

Reselling Your Home

home sale adviceFuture homebuyers may be asking tough questions about whether your home was flooded or struck by falling trees during any of the noteworthy northeast storms so you’ll want to be able to prove via documentation that your home was properly repaired afterwards. Otherwise, doubtful purchasers might cause you to have to lower the sale price, and you might run the risk of a potential lawsuit from the new owner who could claim that you knowingly sold them a home with post-hurricane environmental contamination like mold, lead, asbestos, and bacteria from sewage.

Future Insurance Hassles

Mold InsuranceIf your home floods again and mold returns, your insurance company may question whether the mold was caused by the new event and not from Henri. Without proof that your home was deemed mold-free after repairs were made, the insurance company might take the position that a new claim is not justified or that you have met your policy limit. 

Independent Testing Companies vs. One-Stop Shops

Free Mold TestingSome companies offer mold testing on the cheap and then conveniently offer their own remediation services to fix the problem. This is a clear conflict-of-interest, with the result that the problem is not often remediated – if it exists at all. The consumer may be paying thousands of dollars for bloated repair estimates or an improper and ineffective remediation. Contact RTK for an independent, unbiased test.

Why Choose RTK?

– Leading Independent Environmental Testing Company

– No Conflict-of-Interest Policy

– Accurate and Unbiased

– Certified Microbial Investigators

– Over 25 Years’ Experience

– Building and Construction Backgrounds

– Results in as little as 24-hours

– In-Depth Report Returned in 2-4 Days

– State-of-the-Art Equipment and Technology

– Extensive, Multi-Room Testing to Ensure Accuracy

Call us at 800.392.6468.