Categories
Healthy Home Mold

The Link Between Christmas Trees, Mold & Asthma

 

The Link Between Christmas Trees, Mold & Asthma

Every wonder why your asthma and allergies get worse around the holidays? It could be your Christmas tree, which can be filled with mold spores and allergens.

According to Dr. Alison Stallings, a dermatologist at Advanced Dermatology of Westchester, it’s more common than you think. “Patients come in with a rash that started on their arms, and it turns out they’ve been wrestling with putting up the tree,” she explains. Rashes can be the result of a mold allergy or sensitivity, she says, noting that other symptoms can include headaches, fatigue, throat and eye irritations, wheezing, and many respiratory problems including asthma.

Symptoms increase when the tree begins to decay and mold spores are released into the air. Indoor mold counts can rise rapidly within two weeks of bringing a live tree into a home. Research done at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University found that 70% of the molds found in live Christmas trees can set off reactions like severe asthma attacks, fatigue, and sinus congestion.

For people with a mold sensitivity or allergy, limit the time you keep a live Christmas tree in your home to no more than seven days. If tossing the tree so quickly isn’t for you, you can seek relief by taking over the counter allergy medicine.

Here are a few additional tips to help you enjoy a fresh tree:

  • Protect yourself. Wear gloves and long sleeves to bring the tree into your home, and again when you decorate. This will protect your arms from touching the sap, needles, and mold spores.
  • Wash allergens away. Spray the tree down with water before you bring it inside to remove some of the mold and pollen.
  • Dry it out. Allow the tree to stand in a bucket of water and let it dry outside for a few days, which can help prevent mold from growing.
  • Purify your air. Put a household air purifier in the same room as the tree to help remove allergens that are airborne.
  • Toss the tree. Get rid of the tree ASAP. Mold spores may accumulate the longer your tree is in the house.

Once the tree is discarded, make sure you vacuum and dust the room thoroughly. If you want to be certain that you’ve removed all possible mold spores and that they did not contaminate other areas of your home, call an environmental inspection company to test your home for mold and other environmental hazards. This way, you can start the New Year with a clean bill of health for your home.

Categories
Healthy Home Mold

7 Tips To Ensure Your Home is Healthy and Holiday Ready

7 Tips To Ensure Your Home is Healthy and Holiday Ready

Before the guests arrive, make sure your home is in tip-top shape with these often overlooked household checks. After all, healthy guests make for much happier holidays!

1. Musty Odors

You may think that musty odor is barely noticeable, but that’s likely because you’re used to it. Your guests will notice right away, and if they have allergies, sit them as far away from the turkey as possible, get them a box of tissues, and watch out for the sneezing that will ensue! A musty odor means that your home may have a mold problem, which causes allergies, asthma, and other health issues. You probably can’t see the source of mold, so hire an independent mold inspection expert and check this off your list!

 2. Indoor Air Quality Check

You’ve cleaned, touched up the paint, put in new air fresheners, and even replaced that old rug in the living room with brand new carpeting. You may think all these steps make for a healthier home, but each of these ordinary activities can actually cause poor indoor air quality. Dangerous VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are released into the air from many man-made materials, like detergents, furniture, cleaning products, and candles can cause headaches, fatigue, and other health issues. Studies have shown that indoor air can be up to 100 times more polluted than outdoor air. It’s no wonder we tend to be sicker in the wintertime, when we’re sealed up indoors. Mold is also a major cause of poor indoor air quality. An indoor air quality test can assure that you and your guests are breathing clean air.

3. Clean the Bathroom Fan

This is a given, especially around Thanksgiving. Not only will a properly functioning bathroom fan help dispatch the stench from Grandpa Joe’s reading session, it will also quickly remove humidity from the air, preventing costly mold remediation after too many long showers and inadequate ventilation.

4. Holiday Decoration Hazards

Before you start swinging the hammer and staple gun to get those Christmas decorations up, find out if you are going to disturb possible toxins, such as lead paint or asbestos. If your home was built before 1978, it may contain lead paint, which is extremely dangerous when disturbed. If you are not sure, have your home tested. Also, many Christmas lights, artificial trees, and ornaments contain lead, so read the label carefully, and don’t put your family at risk for permanent neurological damage by purchasing products that contain toxins. Real trees can also be a problem, as they can release mold spores, as well as create mold on wood floors and carpets if you accidentally spill when watering them. Come January, you’ve got a moldy mess.

5. Check the Shower Curtain & Bath Mat

When was the last time you changed your shower curtain or bath mat? If you’re thinking to yourself, “never,” you’re not alone. But these two items are conduits for unhealthy mold spores, bacteria, and other nasty things. And if you have a guest bathroom that hasn’t been used in ages, you may assume it’s clean because it is not used that often. Do your guests a favor and look under the mat before you throw them to the spores!

TIP: An effective way to clean your bath mats and tub liners is to toss them into your washing machine on a gentle cycle with a few light-colored towels, laundry detergent, a cup of baking soda, and 10 or so drops of tea tree oil, which can kill mold. This should have them fresh and clean in no time!

6. Fix that Leaky Sink

In addition to wasting water, leaky sinks can cause big problems in your home. Moisture under a sink can immediately cause mold growth, which causes asthma, allergies, or other serious ailments. Since mold spores occur naturally in the environment, the best way to prevent mold growth is to curtail the moisture source.

7. Turn Up the Thermostat!

A frozen pipe that bursts during your festive dinner can be a disaster! To prevent a burst pipe, turn up the thermostat. This is even more important if you are going away for the holidays, because a quick drop in temperature may cause a pipe to freeze and burst, and you won’t know until you return – a week later – which can be catastrophic! Remember: It can cost more to repair damage from a frozen pipe than it does to keep the thermostat up a few degrees this winter.

Have a happy and healthy holiday season, and call us today to get ready for a healthy home for family and fun!

Categories
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.

 

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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
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.

Categories
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.

 

Categories
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.

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 Lead Mold

Brand New Life: How to Remodel Your Old House

Brand New Life: How to Remodel Your Old House

By Jennifer Monroe

Breathing fresh air into your old house can sometimes be accomplished simply with a fresh coat of paint, but at others, it requires a remodel. At some point, every house requires a remodel, no matter how much TLC it was given over the years. The difficulty is knowing where and how to begin the process. There are so many different options for changing aspects of your old house, so it largely depends on what you want out of the remodel. In this article, there will be five tips to get you started on the process of remodeling your old house.

Plan it All Out

remodeling adviceBefore beginning your remodel, it is best to plan out what you want to be done and how you want the final product to look. This is because when you begin, you can get bogged down and lose sight of what you actually want, and change your mind halfway through. It is also advisable to consider why you are doing the remodel, if it is for you then you can really change it to suit all of your needs, however, if it is for an investment then it is better to look into popular trends before starting your project.

Have a Budget

remodeling budgetDeciding how much money you have available to you for the remodel will definitely influence what you want to be done and how you’ll do it. Knowing your budget before you start is one of the best things you can do, otherwise, you could end up spending a lot more than you have available to you. Your budget will determine how much you can do, whether you will need to do the remodel in stages, and what materials you will have at your disposal.

Test for Hazardous Materials

When remodeling an older home, toxins will be lurking where you least expect them. Before you start tearing into walls and removing flooring or tiles, have your home tested for asbestos and lead, both dangerous health hazards. If you unknowingly disturb these materials during the remodel process, you could also be looking at a hefty price tag for the clean-up. Lead causes permanent cognitive damage, violent behavior, autism-like symptoms, loss of IQ and more. Asbestos causes lung-related disease like mesothelioma. Best to have a blueprint of where hazardous materials are so you can take proper precautions.

Do Your Research

When planning to remodel your home it is important that you delve into research; ask those around you who you trust and have done something like this previously for advice and look at the prices and different styles that could potentially be what you want your house to look like at the end. By researching there is a higher chance that you won’t have the wool pulled over your eyes and will feel more confident in your choices. It also helps in the sense that you will have others to tell you what will work and what won’t before it is built instead of going ahead with your vision then realizing it doesn’t have the impact you would want it to.

Think About What Needs to Stay

renovation adviceWhen remodeling your home, it is wise to investigate what can’t be moved from where it currently is. This is particularly true for things like a load-bearing wall because you will be unable to knock this down even if it is the main thing that you want to accomplish. It is also good to keep your small devices so you don’t have to spend extra money on buying new ones. Sometimes there will be ways around it, which is another way your research will come in handy, but otherwise, some things won’t be able to be adapted as you may want them to, so you’ll need to work the remodeling around this.

Contact a Professional

If you want something done in a specific way, or you feel that a job is beyond your skill set, it is best to call in a general contractor. Contacting a professional early on in the process can be handy as well because they can advise you of any pitfalls that may occur in both the planning and building stages. This is where doing research by talking to others who have already been there can come in handy, as they will either have recommendations or be able to tell you who to avoid, which is important as you will need to be able to trust the people who will be spending that much time in your home.

Final Thoughts

So, before you even begin any work, it is important that you look into the different points above. There is no reason that you won’t be able to accomplish the plans you want, but you need to be aware of all the work that is needed in the process of remodeling so that you aren’t caught off guard by anything.

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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.