Asbestos Flooding & Water Damage Health Healthy Home Indoor Air Quality & Radon Lead Mold Mold Testing Soil and Water Weitz Advice

Storm Cleanup: After a Storm, Don’t let Mold or Toxins Take up Residence in Your Home

Storm Cleanup: After a Storm, Don’t let Mold or Toxins Take up Residence in Your Home

As massive cleanup efforts and power restoration continue throughout the region after a lightning-fast-moving storm, homeowners should be aware of the potential that flooding and water damage are causing.

Flooding & Water Damage Mold Mold Testing

Signs of Mold After a Storm

Signs of Mold After a Storm

Storms can bring on drenching rains, flooding (both indoors and outdoors), and high winds causing leaks and other issues that contribute 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, and a musty order usually signals the problem. That’s when you know that mold growth has really kicked in. The problem with mold is that it can cause structural damage, poor indoor air quality, and health issues.

Look for these signs of mold after a storm.

Visible Mold

water stain moldIf 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.

Mold Creates a Musty Odor

But what about the mold you cannot see? 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.

Health Symptoms from Mold and Poor IAQ

If 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

Structural Damage Can Cause Mold

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 can eat away at wood structure, floorboards, and sheetrock, leaving them susceptible to decay.

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.


Mold Mold Testing Testing vs. Remediation

Mold Testing: Do-It-Yourself Kits vs. Professional Testing

Mold Testing: Do-It-Yourself Kits vs. Professional Testing

Is it ok to use a do-it-yourself mold testing kit? Are home testing kits for mold reliable? Will a home testing kit ensure the health of my family? We get questions like these all the time. The answer is simple – no.

There are offers for home mold testing kits everywhere, from your hardware store to the internet. Each guarantees you will be able to determine if there is mold in your home. But before you invest in one of these kits, there are some important facts to keep in mind.

Basic Science

Mold is everywhere, and actually plays an important part in our ecological system. For example, if it weren’t for mold, fallen leaves would not break down, with the result being mountainous piles of leaves everywhere.

Home mold kits are basically science experiments that tell you if your home has mold. All homes have some level of mold. What you need to know is:

– The type of mold present in your home;

– Where the mold is located;

– The source of the moisture in your home; and

– What can be done to rid your home of mold.

DIY-mold testing kits do not reveal this information. You need a professional mold test, conducted by a certified microbial investigator (CMI), to accurately report these important facts.

How DIY Mold Testing Kits Work

Home mold testing kits use “settle plate applications.” You set the provided dish out for a specific period of time, usually 24 to 48 hours, and the spores are supposed to fall into the dish. Unfortunately, false negatives and false positives are common with home mold tests. Additionally, even if the test discovers you have mold, it does not identify the type of mold, and whether it is toxic or not. To find out this important information, you have to send the dish of collected samples back to the company who distributes the testing kit, of course at an additional cost.

The results come back, and in most cases, they are unreadable. Instead of saying you have black mold or that you need black mold remediation, it will, for example, give the scientific term, “stachybotrys.” It’s up to you to find out what type of mold this is, and whether you need mold removal or remediation.

Where is the Mold?

Sometimes you can see mold growing. In most cases, you cannot. It’s hiding behind your walls, in your ceiling, or under your carpets. Home test kits will not tell you where it is, so without your knowledge, mold is still spreading out of sight.

CMI’s Tool Kit

A CMI’s report is accurate and precise. The investigators test for mold with sophisticated tools, including infra-red equipment, borescopes (to view inaccessible areas), moisture meters and hygrometers (to measure moisture content).

Professional Mold Testing

It’s important to hire a professional environmental testing company that only conducts testing, not mold remediation or mold removal, so you are assured of an accurate and unbiased assessment. A CMI’s inspection will:

  • Discover where and why excess moisture is entering your property;
  • Conduct air monitoring, air sampling and bulk sampling to compare the results with normal background mold levels;
  • Send all samples to independent laboratories accredited by the American Industrial Hygiene Association;
  • Identify the affected areas and measure the amount and types of mold present;
  • Determine if the health of your family is at risk and if professional mold remediation is necessary;
  • If mold removal or mold remediation is required, once it is completed, the CMI will return to your home to conduct a final mold testing. This is the only way to make certain all your mold is gone.

Click here or call 800.392.6468 to contact RTK Environmental Group and set up a mold inspection.




Mold Mold Testing Testing vs. Remediation

Video: Why is Independent Mold Testing Important?

Video: Why is Independent Mold Testing Important?

‘One-stop shops’ that do both mold testing and remediation tend to magnify the problem in hopes of charging large fees for the remediation to follow, which may or may not be necessary. This became clear on Long Island after the disaster of Superstorm Sandy.

If a company offers you testing and remediation services: think twice. Why? You may wind up paying thousands of dollars for exaggerated repair estimates or an improper and ineffective remediation, and you won’t know if the problem exists or not. An independent mold test can save you thousands. Also, it is now illegal in New York State to conduct mold testing and remediation on the same job. You must hire two independent companies.


Flooding & Water Damage Mold Mold Testing

After the Flood: Warning Signs of Mold & What You Can Do

After the Flood: Warning Signs of Mold & What You Can Do

When storms soak an area with inches of rain in a short time frame, flooding is inevitable. If you had water in your home for at least two days, chances are some mold colonies are growing, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Here’s what you may not realize: mold may not be visible immediately, but its spores are growing.

Here are warning signs that mold may be a growing problem post-flooding, and advice to help you deal with it:

What’s that smell?

Although mold begins growing within 24 hours after water enters your home, it takes a while before you can actually detect the musty odor that means mold. So, over the next few weeks, be sure to keep your senses on alert for a musty smell developing in your home or business.


Why can I smell mold and mildew, but can’t see it?

Mold plays hide-and-seek, which is why testing is so important. Typical hiding places include:

• the back side of dry wall, wall paper or paneling;

• the top side of ceiling tiles;

• the underside of carpets and pads;

• around pipes – inside and outside your walls;

• the surface of walls behind furniture;

• inside ductwork;

• in roof materials.

What should I do about that musty smell?

It’s important to test for mold to determine where it lurks, as well as its root cause. Do-it-yourself testing kits can be unreliable. Qualified, trained mold inspection services are much more thorough and, therefore, offer the best protection. If you can see the mold on hard surfaces, clean it off with detergent and water. Be sure to dry the surface completely. If the problem is too large, a commercial cleaning or remediation company is your best solution, depending on the location.

Who should test for mold and when?

Consumers should have a certified professional test for mold, but they should not perform remediation services so as to avoid any conflict of interest. A certified microbial investigator will discover mold’s root causes and provide a detailed report with recommendations on how to remove the mold. You should test for mold before you hire a remediation company, and again after work is complete to make sure the mold has been properly removed and will not grow back and resurface a few months later.

What is the health impact of mold?

Mold can cause a host of health issues. It has been known to trigger allergies that cause headaches and coughing, as well as irritate the nose, skin, and eyes. For people with asthma, mold can make breathing particularly difficult. Read more in depth about the health risks of mold.

For more information on mold, click here.

Healthy Home Mold Mold Testing

Mold: Common Questions & Answers

Mold: Common Questions & Answers

There is a lot of information out there about mold. Unfortunately, much of it is incorrect and could end up costing homeowners a lot of money and compromising their health. RTK Environmental has created a list of common misconceptions and questions. Take this quiz and see whether you’ve been getting good advice or not on these frequently asked mold questions.

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

It’s May, So, It’s Time to Check for Mold

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.

Healthy Home Indoor Air Quality & Radon Lead Mold Mold Testing

Yes, Sick Building Syndrome is a Thing

Ever get a headache, cough, feel nauseous, or have a wave of exhaustion come over you for no apparent reason?

Mold Mold Testing Testing vs. Remediation

NY Law Protects Homeowners From Costly Mold Scams & Improper Remediation

Homeowner Alert: New York State Law Now Requires Separate Companies to Perform Mold Inspection and Mold Remediation on a Single Job, Saving Consumers Thousands

– Mold Inspectors and Contractors Must Also Now Attend Certification Classes and Be Licensed –

If you oMold Remediation Lawwn property in New York State, a new law aimed at protecting homeowners from mold remediation con games can save you thousands of dollars in unnecessary repairs, as well as protect your health. The law, which went into effect January 1, 2016, bars a contractor from assessing a home’s mold problem and then doing the cleanup. This necessary measure was taken to avoid a scam in which a company exaggerates or lies about a mold problem in order to make large profits on remediating a very small problem. The law also requires NYS licensure and certification in order to conduct mold testing or remediation, which will prevent unskilled workers from improper handling of mold and possible cross contamination that can lead to health issues.

“This is great news for everyone,” says Robert Weitz, Principal and Senior Project Manager at RTK Environmental Group, which serves scores of clients in New York every day.  “When one company does both testing and remediation, consumers may view that as an advantage as all they have to do is work with one company. But as soon as you explain the inherent conflict-of-interest, they understand it right away. Our clients recognize the value of dealing with two companies, to make sure that the work is done properly and efficiently.”

New Mold Law Protects ConsumersAccording to the New York State Department of Labor, the law mandates that an assessment be performed to define the scope of mold remediation before the cleanup is carried out, a practice that RTK has employed for decades.

Consumers and lawmakers began to understand the depth of the industry-wide problem when Superstorm Sandy, which slammed parts of New York with storm surges and flooding in 2012, brought an increased public health risk from mold growing in homes and commercial buildings.

It also brought scammers who took advantage of the situation, said state Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky, D-Long Beach, who sponsored the bill.

“Unfortunately, many Superstorm Sandy victims found that those who claimed to fix their
mold problems were actually unqualified scammers who took their money and left their homes in a dangerous condition,” Kaminsky said.

Weitz points to a lack of knowledge at the time about how to properly deal with mold infestation. Consumers didn’t realize how much of a health hazard indoor mold was, and the contractors didn’t understand the complex and technical steps required in removing indoor mold.

“You had contractors haphazardly ripping out walls and floorboards to get the job done as quickly as possible. In doing so, they managed to cross-contaminate entire dwellings, adding expense and health risks for the homeowner,” said Weitz.

Superstorms aside, most of mold remediation scams come down to contractors who both remediate and test for mold in order to inflate their profits; the more mold they can identify, the more they can profit from remediation.

In 2012, NBC News investigated crooked mold contractors in Rossen Reports: Are mold contractors charging for unneeded work?  Hidden cameras revealed that several contractors tried to charge big bucks for unnecessary repairs.

“A home we inspected recently had a leaky pipe in a finished basement. Carpeting, wallboard, some furniture, and toys had to be discarded,” said Weitz. “An unbiased mold inspection will pinpoint the source of the mold and provide a remediation plan that can be given to the remediation contractor of your choice. It’s really the most honest and cost-effective way to clean up an unhealthy mold problem. I’m really glad that New York State has taken the step to protect its residents and businesses from mold scammers.”

Violators of the new law will face civil penalties of $2,000 to $10,000.

Mold Testing

Mold Inspection When Buying a House

John Maher:  Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Robert Weitz of RTK Environmental, an environmental testing and consulting firm. Robert is a Certified Microbial Investigator. Today, we’ll be talking about mold inspection when buying a house. Welcome, Robert.

Robert Weitz:  Thank you, John.

Is mold inspection when buying a house required?

John:  Robert, if I’m looking to buy a house, am I required to get a mold inspection? Is it a good idea to get a mold inspection before I buy a house?

Robert:  It is certainly a very good idea. Particularly through the past years, mold has become a bigger and bigger issue. Not that mold wasn’t always there, but people have become so much more aware of it and what the issues are, particularly health issues, asthma, all the different things that mold can cause. It’s become a lot more important.

Also, before you purchase that house, it’s one of the most important times for the buyer to beware. By having a home inspection done, that’s certainly an inspection of all the different components and how they function. A mold inspection is very specific and should be done by a very qualified individual.

At RTK Environmental, our inspectors are Certified Microbial Investigators, and that is a designation. It involves a tremendous amount of training and experience in the field over a period of time.

When you come into a house that you’re going to purchase, we’re working for the buyer. Not that the investigation is really any different, but we want to identify in that inspection, “OK. Are there current mold conditions? If there are, what’s the severity and what would need to be done in order to get rid of it?”

This is very important. As I often say to my clients, “You want to have your inspection done for mold prior to your purchase because if there is mold, it’s the seller’s mold. It’s not your mold yet. It’s the seller’s mold.

That’s the time to identify it. For a little bit of money, relatively speaking, you may identify a problem in that dwelling that may cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to take care of. Once you purchase the home, it might be very difficult to work backwards and get that seller to pay for what needs to be done.

If we identify a mold problem by a visual inspection, by thermal image, by moisture meters, by air testing, all of these things go together into a picture of what the mold condition is in a dwelling. If we find something, then in a negotiation process, typically, a buyer will say, “OK, seller. I found this mold through my inspection process, and I want it to be taken care of before I’m going to purchase this home.”

What if a mold inspection turns up mold issues?

John:  …which gets into my next question. I was going to say if the mold inspection turns up mold issues in the house, what should I do? You’re saying the first step would be to go back to the seller and say, “Hey, my inspection found mold in your house. Let’s negotiate and figure out what we’re going to do about this.”

Robert:  Just that. At that point it goes back to the mold that’s been identified being the seller’s mold.

Certainly, all deals are different. If someone feels that they’re getting a terrific deal on the house, then depending upon the severity of the mold, they may not even bring it back to the seller. They just may say, “Look. I’ll take care of it after I move in.”

In most cases, people are making the biggest investment of their life. They don’t particularly want to buy a house that has mold in it. Almost always that seller is going to become responsible, in one way or another, for either getting rid of it before the house is actually sold or putting money into escrow, it’s called, in order to cover the cost of the remediation after the house has been purchased.

Mold Inspection and Mold Remediation

John:  Will the mold inspector give me a rough idea of what the cost would be to remove the mold?

Robert:  Not a reputable mold inspector. An inspector that’s unbiased, no conflict of interest, is an inspector that does not do remediation. Be very careful in not hiring an inspector that also does remediation because obviously there’s a tremendous conflict of interest there.

Usually, the mold inspector does not have tremendous knowledge of what the remediation costs will be because they don’t do that work themselves. A careful inspector will usually not give even a ballpark price.

Our reports at RTK, that’s a tool, that’s a blueprint. You can give that right to a remediation company or two or three. They’re all bidding on the same thing. It’s the same blueprint. Then, they will give you pricing back of the cost that will be associated with that remediation and any cleanup that needs to be done as well.

Get a Mold Inspection When Buying a House

John:  When are the mold problems too big to deal with, where they might just keep me from buying a house? Or is it just a matter of cost in terms of getting rid of the mold?

Robert:  It’s just a matter of cost, although there have been documented times when houses have literally had to be torn down because of the extent of mold. In my 20 to 25 years of experience, I’ve never seen that. A mold issue almost always can be solved.

Something can be done, remediation can be done, cleaning of the whole house can be done if necessary. There’s almost always something that can be done to eliminate that mold so that the house can then at whatever degree be rebuilt, and then can be perfectly habitable, as long as the cause of the mold has been eliminated.

John:  All right. Buyer beware, and make sure that you get a mold inspection before you buy your house. Robert, thanks very much for speaking with me.

Robert:  Thank you, John.

John:  For more information, you can visit the RTK website, at or call 1‑800‑392‑6468.