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Don’t Skip the First Step When Renovating a Home: Comprehensive Environmental Testing

Don’t Skip the First Step When Renovating a Home: Comprehensive Environmental Testing

Renovating a home can dramatically improve its comfort and aesthetics, but people often don’t think about what might be lurking behind the walls, ceilings or under the floors. So, it’s crucial to find out if any environmental issues or hazards exist, then address them before renovating begins. Hidden dangers such as the presence of lead, asbestos, and mold can pose significant health risks if disturbed or improperly managed while renovating and after.

The Hidden Dangers of Asbestos in Renovations

Asbestos, a once-common building material known for its durability and fire resistance, can still be found in many homes built before 1980. Commonly used in insulation, walls, floor and ceiling tiles, and fireproofing materials, asbestos is hazardous when disturbed.

Health Effects of Asbestos
If asbestos fibers are released into the air during renovations, they can lead to severe health issues, including lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. And while the latency period for these diseases can be extensive, often taking 15–40 years to manifest, it is still crucially important to protect against it.

Conduct an Asbestos Survey
Before any renovation or demolition, conduct an asbestos survey. This survey will determine if materials containing asbestos are present. If so, plan for their safe removal to prevent airborne contamination. Even minor renovations, such as installing a ceiling fan or updating a bathroom, can disturb asbestos and that can have serious implications.

Mold Contamination: A Pervasive Issue

Mold spores are ubiquitous in the environment but become a problem when they find moist conditions conducive for growth. Areas under sinks, behind walls, or beneath floorboards commonly host mold spores. Anywhere there’s moisture the opportunity for mold exists. During renovations, disturbing these areas can spread the spores through HVAC systems, potentially contaminating the entire house.

If you notice musty odors or suspect water damage, it’s critically important to test for mold before proceeding with renovations. Discovering mold early can start the process for professional remediation or DIY removal following strict EPA guidelines, which involve specialized equipment and safety measures to prevent cross-contamination.

The Perils of Lead Found in Older Paint

In homes built before 1978, the presence of lead paint is a common concern. Sanding or cutting into painted surfaces can release lead dust, which is harmful if inhaled or ingested, leading to lead poisoning, causing severe neurological damage, among other health issues.

A speck of lead dust the size of a grain of sand can poison a child. Improper renovations can spread lead dust throughout a home and even outdoors, contaminating the soil near your home as well, which can also leach into your water supply.

Before starting any work, whether it’s a major remodel or a simpler task like hanging a fan, test for lead. If lead is present, follow the EPA Lead Safe work practices as outlined in the Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program (RRP). These practices are crucial to protect your health and prevent the spread of lead dust during renovations.

Expert Insights on Environmental Testing

Robert Weitz, founder of RTK Environmental, emphasizes the importance of environmental inspections before renovations. “We’ve seen so many renovation projects go awry because the homeowner didn’t start with an environmental inspection,” says Weitz. Identifying hazards like mold, lead, and asbestos upfront can prevent costly remediation and help ensure safe indoor air quality throughout the renovation process.

For homeowners planning renovations, taking the time to conduct thorough environmental testing is not just about compliance—it’s about ensuring the health and safety of everyone involved. By identifying and mitigating these risks before they become a problem, you can save on future costs and safeguard your home against potential disasters.



Why Insurance Companies Choose RTK

Why Insurance Companies Choose RTK

When choosing an environmental inspection firm, insurance companies have a lot of options. We know your time is precious, and the faster the damage is repaired, the lower the Additional Living Expenses or ALE bill. However, there are other important factors to consider, including quality of reports, industry knowledge, and customer service. Because without these factors, you may find yourself back where you started. And that’s time-consuming and expensive.

Here’s why insurance companies should turn to RTK:

1. We’re an Independent Testing Firm with No Conflict of Interest

Choosing an independent inspector, like RTK Environmental Group, assures you that the results you get are accurate and unbiased. Never hire a company that both tests and remediates, as it is a clear conflict of interest.

2. RTK Provides Outstanding, Quick, High-Quality Service

mold insurance claimIt is important to move quickly – not only for the insured, but for the insurers as well. ALE costs quickly add up in situations involving water intrusions, mold, and fire damage, especially if lead and asbestos testing are required before remediation. Therefore, high-speed, responsive, high-quality environmental testing is critical.

RTK works quickly and hand-in-hand with the adjuster and technical team. We get to the site rapidly (within a day or two) with the appropriate inspectors for the job at hand. Our inspectors are highly trained, professional, knowledgeable, and know how to work with discerning clientele.

3. We Provide Timely Test Results

Prompt turnaround time is just as important as initial response time. Once our inspectors assess the scene and take samples, we can usually process reports by the next day. RTK understands that adjusters want to minimize the exposure of a problem, and get the ball rolling on remediation, keeping ALE down.

4. You’ll Receive Actionable Reports and Follow Up

storm damage claimOur reports are written in clear and understandable language, and they present the best method to approach the situation, which may include a blueprint for remediation. We also make ourselves available for fast, post-job testing to make sure the cleanup is done correctly. At RTK, we believe the inspector’s initial job isn’t over after the report is submitted. There must be ongoing communication among the adjuster, testing firm, insured, and remediation company.

If you would like to speak with an expert at RTK about their unmatched services for insurance companies, please call us at (800) 392-6468 or email us at welcome@rtkenvironmental.com.