Categories
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.

 

 

Categories
Healthy Home Asbestos Dust Flooding & Water Damage Lead Mold

Environmental Issues: Is Your Home Trying to Tell You Something?

Is Your Home Trying to Tell You Something?

environmental home issues

We are attuned to listening to the steady messages of our loved ones, our coworkers, and even our bodies. The question is, do you pay attention to the subtle signs your home may be telling you about an issue? Probably not. Often, many unhealthy environmental toxins in the home come with warning signs – you just have to know what they are.

Here are the Top 5 Signs of a Potential Environmental Issue:

  1. Musty Odor

musty odor moldIf you smell something afoul, don’t ignore it. A musty odor may indicate a mold or mildew problem, which can cause serious health issues. In addition to allergy like symptoms, trouble breathing, and rashes, mold can also cause headaches, fatigue and dizziness.

If you catch a whiff of that musty odor, you should schedule a mold test. An independent mold test (from a company that does not also remediate) can help you to find hidden mold and pinpoint the problem. This will enable you to hire a reputable contractor to remove the mold precisely, and save you thousands of dollars on unnecessary repairs.

  1. Chipping Paint & Dust Window Panes

leaded window

If you see dust around your window sills or chipping paint in your home that was built before 1978 (the year lead paint was banned), it should be a red flag. Chipping lead paint is a big source of lead poisoning, which is extremely dangerous, especially for children, older adults, and pets. Lead poisoning can cause a serious host of issues including neurological and cognitive deficits, autism-like symptoms, mood swings, and even violent behavior.

The most common cause of lead poisoning is lead dust, which is created every time you open or close a lead painted window, or through improper renovations. Lead dust can spread throughout a home and even into the soil surrounding your home. Unfortunately, most of the time you cannot see lead particles in dust or soil, so unless you test for it, you may not even know that this hazard exists.

  1. Smelly or Discolored Water

polluted waterIf your water is not running clear or smells funny, you likely have a problem, either with your well or older pipes. Bacteria, heavy metals, and other contaminants can cause your water to be less than fresh, and sometimes dangerous.

You may mistakenly believe that because drinking water comes from a well, it’s pure and safer than water from reservoirs or city supplies. However, well water can contain a host of contaminants, including coliform bacteria, uranium, lead, arsenic, E. coli, nitrates, VOCs (volatile organic compounds) radon, pesticides, and MtBE (a gasoline compound), which can cause a wide variety of health problems, including skin problems; damage to the brain, kidneys, and neurological system; gastro-intestinal illness; hair loss; and immune deficiencies.

If you have town or city water and you still notice something off, it may be your pipes. Older pipes can leach lead or other heavy metals into your water supply, causing discoloration, odors, and even a fine grit. If something is off with your water, have it tested. Most of these issues are easily fixed.

  1. Leaky Roof

leaky roof moldIf you go running for a bucket and towels every time it rains, your problem is likely larger than a leaky roof. When water intrusion occurs, like a leaky roof, mold can grow within 24 – 48 hours. And, if you let it go, it can literally grow. And grow. And grow. Mold colonies can be hidden under roof tiles, behind ceilings, sheetrock, and inside walls. And every time it rains, spores will grow larger. If that’s the case, by not addressing the issue, you could be causing structural damage, not to mention the many adverse health effects mentioned earlier.

  1. Chemical Smells

vocOften, that “new car smell” is caused by off-gassing from volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. VOCs are toxic vapors that are off-gassed from man-made materials and everyday household (and workplace) items. VOCs cause poor indoor air quality, which can cause headaches, dizziness, listlessness, depression, and much more. Common causes of poor IAQ are cleaners and disinfectants, new furniture or carpeting, candles, electronics, and paints. If your indoor air isn’t quite right, or if you are experiencing unexplained symptoms, have an indoor air quality test. This can pinpoint or rule out mold and VOCs, and help you breathe easier.

If you suspect that your home is trying to tell you something, please don’t wait. Your health, and that of everyone in your home, may be at risk. Call RTK today to schedule an environmental inspection at 800.392.6468.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Flooding & Water Damage Healthy Home

Bacteria Testing for Blackwater and Sewage Issues

Bacteria Testing for Blackwater and Sewage Issues

blackwater testing

bacteria water testingSewage backups are very common in commercial and residential buildings. This usually happens when a blockage of waste becomes lodged or pipes deteriorate, causing sewage to backflow up from drains, cleanouts, showers, and toilets. This is known as blackwater. When a blackwater intrusion occurs, it can end up causing serious problems – from damage to your property to severe health concerns.

It’s not just the odor that’s off-putting, but the risk to your health. Bacteria from feces, urine, and other bodily fluids contained in blackwater can contaminate entire areas. And that can be a real challenge.

If you’ve been exposed to sewage through contaminated wastewater, you may experience any of these symptoms.

  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • Stomach cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

What Causes Blackwater Intrusions?

Common causes include:

  • Sewage backups
  • Water intrusion
  • Septic tank leakage
  • Severe flooding
  • Leaking sewer pipes

Categories of Wastewater

There are three categories of wastewater, of which blackwater is the most contaminated.

Category I Clean Water: Clean water generally does not contain any contaminants. It refers to wastewater that has come from toilet tanks, appliance feed lines that have broken down, other broken water lines, water from melting snow, and rainwater. This water is initially free from anything that could contaminate it, but it can that can change quite easily once exposed to various elements.

Category II Gray Water: Gray water is usually discharged from appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, sinks, hot tubs, and showers. This can pose a potential risk to health as it can have chemical or biological contamination. The longer it is left untreated or stagnant, the worse it becomes. Gray water can turn into the most serious category in as little as two days.

Category III Blackwater: Blackwater is wastewater that comes from broken sewer pipes, septic tanks, or leaking and broken bathroom appliances and toilets. It can also occur in floodwater. Blackwater will almost always be a contaminant risk, as it contains feces, urine, and bacteria.

How Do I Know If There’s a Blackwater Intrusion?

Quite simply: it’s the odor, which is most potent near a bathroom. You may also see standing water near a sink, shower, toilet, cleanout, or in your basement. That’s another telltale sign.

What Should I Do If I Have a Sewage Backup and Blackwater Intrusion?

bacteria testingThe first step in sorting out a blackwater problem is having the area tested for bacteria and contaminants by an independent testing company – one that does not also do sewage cleanup and remediation, as this would be a clear conflict of interest. RTK can help you sort out your sewage problems quickly, effectively, and with minimum hassle.

 

Once RTK has tested the area for bacteria, we will provide you with a blueprint for remediation. Then you can hire a professional to do the cleanup and sewage treatment. By having a blueprint, you can save thousands in unnecessary repairs, as you will only remove and remediate areas that are in need of it.

 

If you need bacteria testing for a water intrusion, call RTK Environmental at 800. 392.6468.

 

 

 

Categories
Flooding & Water Damage Mold Mold Testing

4 Signs of Mold in Your Home

4 Signs of Mold in Your Home

Mold is out in full force. Humidity has been high, and storms have dumped drenching rains, causing major flooding (both indoors and outdoors). Plus, high winds and power outages may have caused leaks, sump pump failures, flooded basements, and other issues. These are some of the contributing factors to mold growth and poor indoor air quality. Problem is, we often don’t realize the extent of the damage until days or weeks after the storm or event, and a musty order usually signals the problem. That’s when you know that mold growth has really kicked in. Mold should be taken seriously, as it can cause structural damage, poor indoor air quality, and health issues.

Look for these 4 signs of mold in your home.

1. Visible Mold

new york mold testingIf you see mold, then you clearly have a mold issue. If you see water stains, you probably have a mold issue as well. The question then becomes how big is the problem? Because mold is often hidden, growing on the back sides of walls and sheetrock, and under carpets and floorboards, the only way to be sure is to have a mold inspection performed by a certified professional.

2. Musty Odor

Musty odors usually point to mold, and mold causes poor indoor air quality. RTK can test to see where the odor is coming from so that you can remediate with confidence, and don’t miss any hidden sources or spots. Summer months are particularly prone to mold growth as high humidity and heat accelerate the proliferation of this fungus.

3. Unexplained Health Symptoms 

how to tell if you have moldIf you are having physical symptoms such as itchy eyes, cough or wheezing that occur in one location of the premises that clear up when you are elsewhere, it’s a sure bet that the location is harboring mold. If you have any of the following unexplained symptoms, they may be caused by MOLD EXPOSURE and poor indoor air quality. In that case, you should have a mold and indoor air quality test.

  • Sneezing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Itchy eyes, nose and throat
  • Cough and postnasal drip
  • Watery eyes
  • Wheezing
  • Rash

4. Structural Damage

If a storm caused a leak from your foundation, walls, or your roof into your basement, mold is sure to follow. A mold colony can grow within 24 – 48 hours. So, it’s important to test for mold, because when the next storm hits the structural issue that allowed water intrusion will likely occur again if it is not repaired. Mold tends to hide behind walls and under floors, so you may not see the problem. But left unchecked, mold can eat away at wood structure, floorboards, and sheetrock, leaving them susceptible to decay.

Tip: Avoid Mold Removal Scams

Never hire a company that does both mold testing and mold remediation. Why? It is a clear conflict of interest. Often, unscrupulous companies will embellish a mold problem or offer testing on the cheap in hopes of making money on the remediation to follow. But at RTK, we only test for mold and do not remediate, so there is no conflict of interest. Once we have tested your premises, we provide you with a blueprint for mold removal, and you can hire the remediation company of your choice.

If you had flooding or a water intrusion from a storm and think you may have mold, call and schedule a test today at 800.392.6468.

 

Categories
Flooding & Water Damage Mold

Help! Black Mold is Creeping Up My Walls!

What Can You Do If You Have Black Mold Creeping Up Your Walls?

Q. I have black mold growing up the walls in my basement. Can I remove mold myself? – Nancy K., White Plains, NY

A. First, it’s important to keep in mind that mold — in any form — can be harmful to your health.

So all of your mold must be removed. There lies the problem: The mold growing on your walls is easy to see, but most of the mold growing in homes is hidden. The only way to pinpoint where it is lurking is with mold testing. (In our next blog post, we will discuss do-it-yourself mold testing kits vs. professional mold testing.) So yes, may be able to remove visible mold, but without professional testing, you won’t know how serious the problem really is.

You failed to mention whether your basement walls are cement or Sheetrock. If the mold is on Sheetrock, it is impossible to remove it. The moldy areas must be cut out, removed, and the walls must be replaced. And, if the moldy area is more than about 10 square feet (less than roughly a 3 ft. by 3 ft. patch), the EPA recommends professional mold remediation.

What you will need to assess and clean mold:

  • First, schedule a professional mold test to assess the situation. This will give you a blueprint of where the mold is, and whether you will be able to clean it yourself;
  • A mask or respirator to filter out the mold spores you’ll be disturbing;
  • Eye protection;
  • Rubber gloves;
  • Rags and a scrub brush;
  • Non-ammonia soap or detergent;
  • Large pail;
  • Bleach;
  • Fan and/or dehumidifier;
  • Work clothes, either old or white, since you will be using bleach;
  • Plastic garbage bag;
  • White vinegar.

Before removing black mold from a cement wall, dampen the moldy area well with a rag and plain water. This will keep the mold spores from disbursing through the air. Then scrub the area thoroughly with a scrub brush and non-ammonia soap or detergent to remove as much of the mold as possible.

Next comes the all-important bleach wash, which will remove any leftover mold, in addition to stopping future mold growth. In a pail, add 1½ cups bleach to 1 gallon of water. Wet the surface well with this mixture, letting it soak in for about 15 minutes. Scrub the area with the scrub brush. Then rinse well with clean, clear water. Repeat these two steps until all visible mold is gone. Next, use a fan and/or dehumidifier to dry the area well. If you leave any moisture behind, you are leaving your wall open to mold growth.

And finally, remove your work clothes in the basement, place them in a plastic bag, and head to your washing machine. The clothes will be coated with mold spores, and the last thing you want to do is track those spores throughout your house. Add ¾ cup white vinegar to your wash water to kill the mold on your clothes.

If you suspect you have mold in your home, call RTK Environmental Group at 800.392.6468 for information about mold testing or to schedule a test of your home.

Categories
Flooding & Water Damage Healthy Home Mold Mold Testing Testing vs. Remediation Weitz Advice

Why It’s Important to Check For Mold in May

Why It’s Important to Check For Mold in May

Here’s How Mold Spores Can Affect Allergies, Health, and Home

April showers may very well bring May flowers, but spring’s warmer temperatures and wet weather can certainly dampen one’s health.

Categories
Flooding & Water Damage Mold

Top 7 Questions on Ice Dams Answered

Top 7 Questions on Ice Dams Answered

The icicles are beautiful to behold, but there’s a dark side. If you see them hanging from your gutters, you may be in for some trouble. Here’s why:

When you see icicles, it means you have ice dams, and ice dams wreak havoc with roofs. They prevent melting snow from draining, and that means the water has no place to go – except into the tiny little crevices and cracks beneath the roof. And that means the water can seep into your interior walls, attic, and underneath the roof shingles. Dampness can cause mold growth within 24-48 hours, and mold can wreak havoc with your health, causing asthma, headaches, fatigue and more.

1. Water is leaking into my house – What should I do?

icicle roof leak

Act quickly and don’t panic. Report the problem to your insurance company, but don’t wait for their response. You’ll need to take these steps right away:

  • Take pictures or video of the damage, and start to remove the water immediately. Don’t wait for your insurance company to get back to you, because waiting — even for a few hours — could mean more water and mold growth;
  • Wet/dry vacuum, mop, or pump water out of the affected area as quickly as possible. Remove wet items;
  • If you are using towels to catch the water, be sure to change them every few hours so that mold doesn’t start to grow;
  • Outside, pull off snow from above the ice dam with a long-handled aluminum roof rake, while you stand safely on the ground. According to This Old House, this action will help prevent the melting snow from forming new ice dams;
  • Dry out residual moisture that is left in the wood, concrete, and other affected materials inside your home. To do this, you can use a dehumidifiers or plain ventilation;
  • Unplug electrical devices and turn off the circuit breakers in the wet area, if possible;
  • If a material cannot be dried within 24 hours, it should be thrown away. Unfortunately, this includes carpeting, mattresses, pillows, upholstered furniture, and items containing paper, including wallboard;
  • Have your home tested for mold.

2. I don’t see any water, so my roof isn’t leaking, right?

Not necessarily. Ice dams can cause seepage in areas the naked eye can’t see, including Ice Dam preventionbehind walls and under floor boards or carpets – wherever the water finds a path to travel. Mold can grow from even a very small leak, which can have detrimental consequences to your home, and ultimately, to your health. If you think the ice dams on the eaves of your house or gutters are causing indoor leaks, the safest thing to do is hire a certified microbial investigator, who can use a moisture meter to check for wet and damp areas behind walls, as well as take air samples to see if there is a mold problem. If you decide to wait, be diligent about checking attics, basements, and other less trafficked areas in your home for musty odors or visible mold, which are telltale signs of hidden mold. If there’s mold, you should have your home tested for other infestation (often unseen) by an independent mold inspector – one that does only testing, and not remediation, as this would be a conflict of interest.

3. What should I do about the icicles and chunks of ice in my gutters? ice removal

This is a tough one, because a lot can go wrong. The first instinct is to just get the ice out, but that is easier said than done. Getting up on a ladder that is set on snow and ice is dangerous in itself, but add to that a swinging axe, ice pick, or chainsaw, and you could be in trouble. Not only will you mess up your roof and shingles, you can cause yourself bodily harm. If you go online, you may discover some “creative” ideas to remove ice dams, but you should stay away from blowtorches, steam cleaners, heating pads, salt, boiling water, and hot bacon grease. To be safe and not cause further damage to you or your roof, remove the snow from the bottom portion of your roof, closest to you, with a roof rake or long-handled broom. Tip: Don’t stand on your roof to do this! You could slip and fall off, or worse, the roof could collapse right under you from the strain of your weight coupled with the weight of the snow and ice. Stand on the ground to remove roof snow. Just be sure to watch for falling icicles.

4. Can damage from ice dams go further than my attic?

Depending on how and where your ice dams form, the water can go anywhere. We’ve even seen water pouring into the basement. How? The ice dam grew so large that water traveled to a deck attached to the house, pooled, and then headed into the basement. If ice dams travel down your downspouts or the icicles get so large that they are nearing the ground, water may be pooling near your foundation with nowhere to escape.

5. What is the most common mistake made in dealing with ice dams? ice dams roof

It happens all too often: people do cosmetic repairs without making sure the area is completely dry and checking for mold growth. Then, when the weather warms up, they discover they have a full-blown mold infestation. That’s why when there’s water damage, it’s important to test for mold. Hire an independent mold inspector, one who does not do remediation, to get honest and accurate results. An independent testing company can conduct air monitoring and surface sampling tests; identify affected areas and measure the amount of mold – even if it cannot be seen by the naked eye.

6. Will homeowners insurance cover damage from ice dams?

According to the National Association of Realtors®, most homeowners insurance policies cover conditions such as damage caused by ice dams, when water can’t drain into the gutters and instead seeps into the house. But, if the water from an ice dam enters the home from the ground, homeowners insurance generally won’t cover mold remediation. You would need flood insurance for that.

7. How can I prevent ice dams in the future?

There are a number of ways to prevent future ice dams, depending on your situation and how your home or place of business is constructed. Here are a few tips:

  1. Properly insulate.
    Proper insulation of the attic is one solution, as is a tight vapor barrier to prevent ice dam roof moisture from passing from the living areas into and through the insulation. If air from your home finds its way to the underside of the roof sheathing, the heated air raises the temperature of the roof, causing snow to melt, then refreeze when the temperature drops again. Important: make sure you have enough insulation. An insufficiently insulated home is more likely to suffer damage caused by ice dams. To find out how much insulation your home should have (based on location and age), refer to this chart on the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association webpage.
  2. Protect your gutters.
    Whether it’s a snow and ice shield or electrified gutters, there are several ice dam removalproducts that will prevent water from working its way into the home. (A snow and ice shield consists of a membrane that seals the roof under the shingles, forming a continuous barrier to water.)
  3. Ensure adequate ventilation.
    In order to make sure that your attic and roof are properly ventilated, there should be venting at both the eaves and soffits and/or at the gable ends of the attic. You need to have a space for cold air to flow above the insulation to keep the roof cold and prevent the snow from melting. If you have a finished attic, it is a little more complicated, but it can be done. House Logic shares some additional tips here.

If you are experiencing damage from ice dams and melting snow, call RTK Environmental today at (800) 392-6468 to discuss your options and figure out a plan to keep your home and family safe.

Categories
Flooding & Water Damage Mold

Expert Advice: What Can I Do About A Frozen Pipe That Bursts?

Expert Advice: What Can I Do About A Frozen Pipe That Bursts?

Tips to protect your health, prevent mold, and save money on unnecessary remediation because all that water in your home can cause problems.

thaw pipesThe more temperatures slip into the teens and even lower, the greater the chances that pipes will freeze. And when they freeze, they can burst. And that can lead to a whole rash of problems: flooding, structural damage, and mold. And mold can lead to health problems.

“Pipes freeze for three main reasons – quick drops in temperature, poor insulation, and thermostats set at too low a temperature,” says Robert Weitz, founder of RTK Environmental Group, a leading independent environmental testing company serving the northeast for over 20 years. “Pipes often burst when they thaw, so you may be in for an unpleasant surprise,” Weitz continues.

WHAT TO DO IF A PIPE BURSTS:

  •      burst frozen pipe preventionTurn off the water at the main shut-off valve and leave the faucet open.
  •      Try to dry out the area. Damp and wet areas are prime locations for mold growth, which can blossom within 24-48 hours.
  •     Call the plumber.
  •     Take photos and videos of the damage.
  •     Call your insurance company to see if water damage caused by frozen pipes is covered by your policy.
  •     Call an environmental inspection company to test the affected area for mold. RTKDepending on the age of your home, (anything built pre-1980) you may also want to test for asbestos and lead. This will ensure that when the remediation is done, toxic fibers, dust, and mold spores are not released into the air, contaminating the rest of your house or business.
  •     Once the repairs are complete, have an independent certified microbial inspector come in to test the area again to make sure there are no lingering toxins.

Why is a post-remediation test necessary?

It’s not unheard of for a remediation company to fix the main water issue quickly, but not allow ample time for floors, ceilings, and wallboard to dry before finishing the job. When that happens, moisture is sealed into these areas, creating a perfect environment for mold to grow behind the walls and under floors. That’s why testing is so important.

First, it will ensure that you are living in a safe, healthy environment.

tape lift sample moldSecond, an independent environmental testing company will provide you with a detailed report that documents that your home is mold-free. This documentation will be important for possible 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 or the previous one. 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.

“The most important thing you can do if a pipe bursts is to have your home or office properly tested for mold and professionally remediated,” Weitz states. “To make sure you are not taken advantage of, hire an independent mold inspection firm that does not perform remediation, as they don’t stand to make additional money on a repair,” he says. To that point, a law was passed in New York in 2016 making it illegal for the same company to perform mold testing and remediation on the same job.

If you have questions or would like to book a test, call RTK 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.