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Healthy Home Mold

Fall into Winter Home Prep: 4 Tips to Keep Your Home Cozy, Healthy and Safe

Fall into Winter Home Prep: 4 Tips to Keep Your Home Cozy, Healthy and Safe 

Winter is coming…so take advantage of these last temperate days to winterize your home.  Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, you can avoid costly repairs during the winter months with the following tasks: 

Check your attic. 

Mold and poor indoor air quality issues often stem from your attic. Ever heard of the “Stack Effect?” It’s when heat and air rise to the highest point in a dwelling. Since houses naturally have to breathe, the air starts at the bottom and works its way up through the exterior walls into the attic. Ideally, this air should exit through gable vents or ridge vents. However, if those vents are blocked or inadequate, moisture and heat can build up in the attic creating the perfect environment for mold to grow. 

Prior to the winter season, it’s essential to inspect your attic to ensure proper ventilation. If you happen to see mold, schedule a test with an independent testing company like RTK. They can determine the extent of the issue, and what, if anything, needs to be remediated.  

Clean your gutters. 

Prioritizing regular gutter maintenance is crucial, particularly before the onset of colder weather. This pre-emptive action serves as a vital defense against the formation of ice dams, a common winter woe. Ice dams occur when melted snow accumulates and subsequently freezes along the edges and eaves of your roof. This ice ridge then acts as a barricade, preventing the efficient drainage of water originating from the melting snow. With nowhere else to go, this water can infiltrate your home, causing significant harm to your walls, ceilings, and insulation. Unfortunately, where there’s water damage, mold is often not far behind.  

Regardless of the season, clogged gutters, burdened with fallen leaves, have the potential to pull away from your home’s structure. This detachment can result in leaks that not only damage your residence but also foster the growth of mold.  

Additionally, it’s essential to ensure that your downspouts are correctly angled away from your home, as this simple measure can effectively ward off basement leaks. 

Check your roof for leaks. 

You certainly don’t want to start your winter off with a leaky roof. Begin by inspecting your ceilings for any signs of trouble, such as water spots, mold, or stains. If you spot them, before you call in a roofer, have a professional mold inspector test your home for potential mold growth. This proactive step will provide you with a clear understanding of exactly what needs to be repaired or 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.   

Set the thermostat. 

It may seem incongruous to turn on the heat as it is still warm outside, but in a few months when the temperature drops below freezing, a heated house, even at 50 degrees, will prevent your pipes from freezing and keep your home dry through the winter. Most experts recommend keeping the thermostat between 60 and 68 degrees. The heat won’t kick in until the indoor temperature drops below the thermostat’s temperature setting. But, if you are concerned, you can subscribe to an Internet-based system with equipment that monitors the inside air temperature and alerts you to freezing temperatures. 

To prepare for the impending winter, taking action now to safeguard your family’s well-being is of the utmost importance. The steps outlined above offer a comprehensive approach to ensure that your home remains safe and healthy during the colder months. Prioritizing these tasks not only shields your home from costly repairs but also ensures a healthier environment throughout the winter season. Your proactive approach today can make all the difference in the comfort and safety of your home tomorrow. Contact RTK today. 




Healthy Home Indoor Air Quality & Radon Mold

Appliance Maintenance to Prevent Mold

Appliance Maintenance to Prevent Mold

Here’s what you should do and how often to prevent mold growth in your home.

Dehumidifiers, bathroom exhaust fans, and kitchen range hoods can vastly improve the air you breathe indoors, but they also have a downside: if not maintained properly, they can become little mold-producing factories.

Consumer Reports says that neglecting to thoroughly clean a bathroom fan or dehumidifier, for example, allows dirt to accumulate and this, plus a little moisture, creates the perfect environment in which mold can grow. Another place you are likely to find mold growth is in a front load washing machines.

mold dehumidifierCleaning dehumidifiers once a month is recommended.  Yet, according to the article, 60% of the dehumidifiers found in today’s households are not cleaned frequently enough and may be fostering mold growth. Bathroom exhaust fans are another source of mold but only 16% are cleaned every few months as recommended.

Failure to clean these appliances rigorously can also result in the growth of fungi and bacteria that cause lung inflammation.

kitchen fan moldHere are the recommended cleaning schedules for household appliances:

So, if you’re the culprit and neglected to clean household appliances regularly, check them carefully for mold. Mold can spread from these devices to other parts of your home, and that can be detrimental to your health – let alone your wallet.

Contact RTK to schedule a mold or indoor air quality test today!

Mold Healthy Home

Summer Mold Hotspots

Summer Mold Hotspots


summer mold Summer is in full swing, and we’re in the habit of dropping wet towels from the pool on the floor, blasting the AC, and taking longer showers after a day in the sun. These seemingly innocent acts can serve as an invitation for mold growth. Mold thrives in a humid, damp climate. So before running off to that summer rental or hosting the barbeque of the season, ensure you aren’t harming yourself or others. Let’s look at the top hotspots mold grows in during the Summer.

Top Spaces Mold Tends to Grow

  1. Kitchen and Bathrooms

Spaces individuals use the most are prime targets for mold to grow due to moisture accumulation in these areas. Cooking, doing the dishes, and taking a hot shower all generate moisture that leads to a humid environment conducive to mold. Specific areas in these spaces include on or behind walls, sinks, toilets, on the floor, showers/baths, refrigerators, behind or under dishwashers, windowsills, and behind the stove or microwave.

  1. bathroom humidity causes moldBasements / Crawl Spaces

Basements and crawl spaces are notorious for dampness, as they are often in close contact with the ground. Moisture seepage, inadequate insulation, outright flooding, or poor ventilation can create a perfect storm for mold growth.

  1. Attics / Roofs

Attics and Roofs are susceptible to mold growth due to poor ventilation and potential leaks.

  1. Air Conditioners

Air Conditioners provide relief from summer heat but can also contribute to the inhabitation of mold if not properly maintained. Moisture can easily accumulate. In AC units, this occurs most often in the condensate drain and evaporator coils.

  1. Laundry Rooms

washing machine moldLaundry Rooms often have high humidity levels due to washing machines and dryers. Proper ventilation and regular maintenance of these appliances are crucial in preventing mold growth.

Any appliances that use water have the potential to harbor mold.

What to Do

In order to avoid your everyday routine being interrupted by mold, ensure you are doing the following preventative measures.

  • Proper ventilation by using exhaust fans or opening windows during and after engaging in activities that conduct steam and humidity. Use the fan during bath or shower and keep it on for at least 30 minutes after.
  • Regularly clean and dry countertops, stovetops, microwave, and refrigerator.
  • Repair any leaks or plumbing issues that may cause moisture buildup.
  • Don’t let dirty dishes pile up in the sink.
  • Use dehumidifiers to maintain optimal humidity levels.
  • Run fans while cooking or showering.
  • Insulate pipes to prevent condensation and fix any leaks or cracks in the foundation.
  • Provide proper air flow in attics with soffit and ridge vents, gable vents, fans, opening windows, etc.
  • Have your roof checked periodically by a professional for defects or leaks.
  • Clean and change air filters in AC and HVAC units regularly.
  • Clean dryer vents regularly to remove lint buildup and ensure that they vent outdoors.
  • Avoid keeping wet clothes in your washing or dryer and be sure to keep the washer door cracked open for ventilation.

causes of bathroom moldIf you do get to the point where you encounter mold in these hotspots, don’t panic. That’s when RTK professionals can come in to help you plan the next steps.

  • RTK provides comprehensive indoor air quality and mold testing, which can help you to pinpoint the problem.
  • Once the source and contaminated areas are identified, RTK provides a blueprint for mold removal, which you provide to a mold remediation contractor of your choice.
  • Since we only test and never remediate, we have no conflict of interest.
  • Once removal is complete, RTK can come in to ensure the mold was removed properly, and that you don’t risk a future mold outbreak because of sloppy work.

Mold Health Concerns

mold health symptomsThe fact is mold causes health issues. Aside from the damage to one’s home, there are several harmful factors to an individual’s health. Symptoms of mold exposure include headaches, trouble breathing, rashes, brain fog, dizziness, fatigue, asthma, and allergy-like symptoms.

If you are concerned about mold in your home or workplace, contact RTK at 800.392.6468 or click here.

Healthy Home

Environmental Home Inspections: People Are Asking; Realtors Are Listening

Environmental Home Inspections: People Are Asking; Realtors Are Listening

mold home inspectionIn recent years, many urbanites in search have left the cities in search of more space and a healthier lifestyle. And, as they want to be sure that their prospective new homes don’t have any problems that could lead to health issues, environmental inspections are making the list.

Homes, anywhere and at any time, can harbor mold, asbestos or radon, and contain poor indoor air quality, polluted water, or volatile organic compounds (VOCs), any one of which can threaten one’s health. That is why savvy realtors are now recommending investing in environmental testing services prior to purchase or sale. For buyers and sellers both, a toxic environment can kill a deal.

A Traditional Home Inspection Isn’t Enough

Home inspections are obviously necessary for the sale or purchase of a home. But what many buyers are realizing is that these inspections usually do not take into consideration mold infestation, lead, asbestos, and water quality. Most home inspectors lack the knowledge and certifications necessary to test for potentially toxic substances.

What Is an Environmental Home Inspection?

environmental home inspectionMold testing, lead inspection, asbestos testing, water contamination testing, and indoor air quality testing may all be performed during an environmental inspection. Environmental home inspections can vary depending on the age and condition of the home. Such inspections should be scheduled with a certified, independent testing company, even before your buyer signs a contract. It’s important that the company you hire doesn’t perform both testing and remediation, as that is a conflict of interest.

Why Have an Environmental Inspection?

Testing makes sense. If buyers invest in an inspection prior to purchase, they can save tens of thousands of dollars in remediation and repair costs afterwards. For sellers, if environmental issues are found prior to going to contract, they will have the ability to remediate before the deal goes south.

new york mold testing“I recommend environmental testing as part of a home inspection checklist,” says Fiona Dogan, a real estate agent with Julia B. Fee Sotheby International Realty in Rye, New York. “Smart buyers want to be sure that the home they are about to purchase contains a healthy environment.” She also recommends environmental testing for sellers in order to identify issues even before putting the property on the market. “This can help you to sell your home faster and avoid costly rush charges to have last-minute issues fixed.”

As you help your clients navigate selling or buying a home, give them the option of an environmental inspection. Not all environmental hazards are obvious, and they can cause serious health issues. To detect them requires expertise, licensure, technology, and experience. If you would like more information on what types of environmental inspections may be right for your client, please feel free to call us at 800.392.6468.

Healthy Home Lead

Lead Paint Warning: Most Homes in NY Metro Area Built Before 1978

Lead Paint Warning: Most Homes in NY Metro Area Built Before 1978

Risks from Lead Paint And Contaminated Lead Dust Abound

lead paint older homesApproximately 80 percent of homes in the New York Metropolitan area were built before 1978, according to U.S. Census figures. This means that you should be aware that particles from lead paint, which was commonly used in homes before 1978, still pose a health risk throughout the region.

Healthy Home Mold

Mold vs. Mildew

Mold vs. Mildew

Do you know the difference between mold and mildew? For many, that mildew smell may actually be an unhealthy mold problem.

What do mold and mildew look and smell like?

Molds tend to be green or black, and usually grow underneath the surface of anything that has gotten wet. Its’ texture can be fuzzy or slimy. Mold has a strong, musty odor.

Mildew is typically white, gray or yellow and grows on the surface of moist, warm areas. Mildew smells similar to mold. If you have a musty odor, you should test to ensure it’s not mold. The smell of mildew often masks a larger mold problem.

Where are mold and mildew found?

Mold is typically found in basements, attics, and behind walls, whereas mildew is often found on floors, walls and tubs.

Mold is found in indoor and outdoor spaces that have gotten wet, such as crawl spaces, garages, basements, HVAC units, sheds, and attics. Mold is often hidden from view.

Mildew often thrives on items that have damp surfaces, with tile, wallboard and leather being some common household items that might end up with mildew after they get wet. It’s often found in bathrooms.

Health Risks of Mold and Mildew

Both mold and mildew have similar negative affects on your health.

Symptoms of mold and mildew exposure include cough, allergy symptoms, asthma, headaches, and difficulty breathing. Mold can also cause respiratory issues, heart problems, joint pain, migraines, fatigue and depression.

A professional at RTK Environmental Group can help, if you think you have a mold issue.

mold mildew

Healthy Home Indoor Air Quality & Radon Mold

What Should I Expect From An Indoor Air Quality Test?

What Should I Expect From An Indoor Air Quality Test?

Maybe you haven’t been feeling well and neither you nor your physician can figure out why. Or maybe you’re trying to live a healthier lifestyle and simply want to know if the level of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in your home or workplace is acceptable.

Gardening Health Healthy Home Soil and Water

This Summer Make Sure Your Water, Air and Soil Are Safe

Home inspections 101

Summer is almost here, so now’s the time to make sure your season is safe and healthy.

Before you dive into the pool, crank up the air conditioner, or start that victory garden, you’ll want to make sure that your water, air, and soil are clean and safe. Let’s face it; the frigid temperatures, wild winter weather, and common wear and tear that are typically noticeable this time of year are all indicators of potential contamination.

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

Why It’s Important to Check For Mold in the Spring

Why It’s Important to Check For Mold in the Spring

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

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

Healthy Home Health

Ways Our Homes Make Us Sick – and What to Do About It

Ways Our Homes Make Us Sick – and What to Do About It

If you worry your home is making you sick, you might be onto something. Our homes can secretly contain chemicals, toxins, pathogens, and microbes that can’t be seen with the human eye. However, when these toxic dangers are present in your home in large enough quantities, they can wreak havoc on your family’s health. So here are some tips to keep your family safe, courtesy of RTK Environmental Group.

Ways Your Home Might Be Making You Sick

health symptoms moldFirst, we need to cover the basics. Illness due to exposure to household triggers is so common that there are even specific terms for it, such as “sick building syndrome.” Sick building syndrome describes an illness which seems to be linked to time spent in a particular building, especially when no other underlying cause of the illness can be determined.

Although we typically associate sick building syndrome with the workplace, it can apply to our homes as well. Recent studies have named it a health hazard because it is occurring with increased frequency.

Similar to sick building syndrome, “building related illnesses” include diagnosable symptoms that can be directly traced back to a specific culprit within the building. This might include airborne contaminants such as mold, formaldehyde, asbestos, pollutants, allergens, or potentially cancer-causing chemicals and toxins. If you suspect that you will be exposed to any of these irritants, ensure that you wear a protective mask. This is doubly important if you plan to be cleaning up any of these harmful products, as interacting with them can cause them to become airborne.

Toxic mold is one of the most common airborne contaminants linked to building related illnesses. Mold spores produce mycotoxins which, if inhaled, may cause physical symptoms ranging from allergies and asthma to pulmonary hemorrhage or memory loss. People with compromised immune systems are also susceptible to systemic mold infections.

Here’s What You Can Do About It

Some easy home repairs reduce illnesses by removing black mold, toxins, chemicals, allergens, or pollutants from your home. You could also hire a trained professional to check your indoor ventilation for adequate air flow, or to test the air in your home for factors such as black mold or cancer-causing chemicals. Afterwards, make any home repairs as needed.

If you’re worried about paying for home repairs, refinancing your home could give you an injection of cash that you can use for home improvement projects. Before refinancing, research the cost to refinance, lenders, and loan types.

Additionally, keep your home clean and dry to reduce dust, mold, and other natural allergens. Frequently wash your sheets and pillowcases to remove contaminants. Don’t allow friends or relatives to smoke inside your home. Purchase a high-quality vacuum with a HEPA filter. Another tip is to leave your shoes at the door, which reduces the toxins, allergens, and pollutants you’ll track into your home. 

A Green Home is a Healthy Home

Even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms, there are several other ways to take your health into your own hands. For instance, you might purchase an air purifier to remove contaminants from the air you breathe in your home. You could also invest in an at-home water filtration system to ensure your water is clean and purified.

Read labels before purchasing products, and try to opt for chemical-free, toxin-free household items, including cleaning products. During trips to the grocery store, opt for organic, GMO-free, “green” and all natural products whenever possible.

Products or Building Materials to Avoid

Whether you’re searching for a new home or making some renovations, you should avoid potentially harmful products or building materials. These include (but are not limited to) chemical sealants, harmful plastics, and insulation fibers that have been linked to cancer.

The illnesses caused by sick building syndrome often make us sicker over time. Unfortunately, many people are living with chronic illnesses that aren’t properly treated because they don’t realize their home could be the underlying cause for their illness.

Sometimes, all it takes is a few simple household adjustments to completely eliminate symptoms. By taking proactive action before you start experiencing symptoms, and by following the tips listed above whether you are sick or not, you can make your home cleaner and greener. A few simple product switches and lifestyle adjustments can go a long way in keeping your family home safe, healthy, and happy for years to come.

For your commercial or residential environmental testing needs, contact RTK Environmental Group today!