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Mold Mold Testing

Four Things Insurers Need to Know About Environmental Testing

Four Things Insurers Need to Know About Environmental Testing

 

With insurance standards constantly being changed and updated, it’s hard to get a handle on what’s important right now. So, we’ve compiled a list of the top things’ insurers should know about environmental testing.

  1. To help avoid liability issues, test for asbestos prior to mold remediation.

test for asbestos before removing moldThe most experienced adjusters and agents know that a claim can become a lot larger if mold remediation is not conducted properly. This even includes accidentally contaminating a home because walls, tiles, or ceilings containing asbestos or lead were ripped out without proper precautions being taken, contaminating a much larger area. Aside from that, testing for asbestos prior to mold remediation is a good idea in general to protect the health of the insured and the workers on the job. (It can also shield you from further liability.)

 

  1. “Cleaning” mold is not an alternative to remediation.

mold remediationA recent article in PropertyCausalty360 states that killing mold is not enough for an insurance claim. The current standard of care uniformly emphasizes physical removal as the primary means of mold remediation. Since most home and business policies have caps on the amount paid out to deal with mold remediation, smart adjusters won’t waste time and money with ineffective solutions.

The best solution to the problem is remediation. According to the article, because there are no federal mold remediation rules in place, the industry was left to establish its own standards for dealing with mold contamination. Numerous government agencies, industry associations, and private organizations agree that the best practice is to pinpoint the mold through independent testing, then hire a different contractor to physically remove the mold following the blueprint provided by the testing company.

mold claimSome states, including New York, require accreditation and licensing for the companies or individuals who do mold inspections and removal. The rules also do not allow the same company to conduct testing and renovation on the same job. In other unregulated states, like Connecticut and New Jersey, many testing and remediation companies don’t have the requisite training and knowledge. These consultants and contractors often opt for alternate methods of removal such as using sprays, mists, and fogs to treat and remediate mold. Low standards can create potential problems for insurers. An adjuster who unwittingly recommends a contractor whose work is outside of what is determined as “acceptable industry practice” can be liable for more than the covered loss.

 

  1. Clearance testing is critical to prevent future claims.

clearance testingOnce mold remediation has been completed, it is vitally important to do follow-up clearance testing to ensure the mold was removed properly. This way, if there is a new claim for mold from the same claimant, you can be sure that the new problem was not caused by the initial problem, which could open you up to liability. Additionally, if the insured comes back to you complaining of health symptoms and demanding additional payment, you’ll have proof that it wasn’t caused by the remediation.

 

  1. Working with a qualified, unbiased testing company which does not do remediation can save you money.

Not every mold testing company is the same. There are those that do both testing and remediation, which is a clear conflict of interest. For, the more mold they say they find, the more they stand to make in the remediation to follow.

RTK Environmental only does testing and never remediation, so you can rest assured our results are unbiased and accurate. Additionally, RTK provides you with a blueprint for remediation. By removing mold only in the specific areas designated, you can potentially save thousands of dollars son unnecessary remediation costs. And with our fast turnaround times, you can reduce the cost of ALE.

Contact RTK to schedule an inspection for your claim today. Click here or call 800.392.6468.

 

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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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Flooding & Water Damage Mold Mold Testing

4 Signs of Mold in Your Home

4 Signs of Mold in Your Home

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

Look for these 4 signs of mold in your home.

1. Visible Mold

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

2. Musty Odor

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

3. Unexplained Health Symptoms 

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

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

4. Structural Damage

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

Tip: Avoid Mold Removal Scams

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

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

 

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

Why It’s Important to Check For Mold in May

Why It’s Important to Check For Mold in May

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

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

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Mold Mold Testing

A “Free” Mold Inspection? Here’s the Catch…

A “Free” Mold Inspection? Here’s the Catch…

One-stop shops that both test for and remediate mold woo customers with “free” tests or low prices, but consumers often end up paying thousands more in unnecessary repairs.

You may think you are getting a deal by hiring a company that offers “free” or inexpensive mold mold testing new yorktesting. Think about it, though – nothing is free.  Here’s where they’ll get you: A company that offers both testing and remediation has a financial incentive to find problems that may not exist in your home.

Mold Test BaitMany of these companies that offer free and discount mold testing will claim to find mold in your home, and then conveniently offer their own remediation services to fix the problem.  What they don’t tell you is that there is mold present in the air in every home and environment, so technically they are not outright lying! It’s the level and type of mold that counts, but they don’t specify what your “problem” is. An independent testing firm, like RTK Environmental Group, that only tests for mold and does not perform remediation work, does not have a conflict of interest. RTK’s only concern is to find the real trouble spots in your home.unnecessary repairs

Robert Weitz, a certified microbial investigator and principal at RTK Environmental Group, says the result is the consumer may be paying thousands of dollars for bloated repair estimates or an improper and ineffective remediation. “You may think you are saving money, when in reality you end up paying way too much for a problem that may not even exist.”

crooked contractorsInvestigative reporter Jeff Rossen shed light on this scam when he conducted an undercover investigation on NBC-TV’s Today Show into mold remediation, and the results were shocking. He found that some companies were willing to claim that eye shadow smeared on a wall was mold, and then would charge upwards of $10,000 to remove the ‘mold problem.’

Your best bet is to use an independent and certified testing service, like RTK Environmental Group, so there’s no possible conflict of interest. You’ll sleep better knowing you didn’t have to pay for a problem you never had.

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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.

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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.

 

Categories
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.

 

 

 

Categories
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.

 

Categories
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.