Categories
Indoor Air Quality & Radon Mold

Post-COVID, How to Prepare Your Office for A Healthy Return to Work

Post-COVID, How to Prepare Your Office for A Healthy Return to Work

 

office reopeningMany employers are preparing to reopen their offices after employees have been working remotely for the past 15 +/- months. In addition to preparing for new cleaning, health, and safety protocols and updating policies and work-from-home procedures, you should stop for a moment and consider the environmental state of the office you will be returning to.

 

With offices largely unused for long periods of time, there may have been little or no good air circulation. If so, the office may be harboring mold and poor indoor air quality.

 

HVAC mold“We’re seeing offices, schools, and other facilities with significant mold issues says Robert Weitz, principal of RTK Environmental. “In cases where companies turned off air conditioning or increased the indoor temperature, stagnant air and humidity may have begun to create major mold problems.” Weitz said in those cases, the cleanup might come with a hefty price tag.  “Most offices will not have such significant damage, but you should still take precautions for your own health and safety as well as that of your employees,” he says.

 

Mold in Offices

 

mold under sinkMold is a serious health hazard that should not be taken lightly. Mold causes breathing difficulties, allergies, fatigue, rashes, lower productivity, and more. With offices being shut for many months, moist conditions might have contributed to the growth of mold colonies in refrigerators, carpeting, HVAC systems, and may be widespread behind walls. Before you return to the office, it pays to have a mold test.

 

Indoor Air Quality in Offices

poor office air qualityPoor indoor air quality is caused by mold, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), dust, and other contaminants. It can cause headaches, fatigue and listlessness, dizziness, nausea, nervousness, and difficulty concentrating, among other issues. And, if you have new office equipment, carpeting, flooring, or furniture, you may have elevated VOCs, as these materials tend to off-gas toxins.

 

Here are some important areas to check:

HVAC Systems

HVAC IAQWhether you turned off your HVAC system or not, you should at the get go change the filters, as dust and debris are likely to have taken up residence there. Worse, the HVAC system may 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 the building. The safest bet is to test your indoor air.

Refrigerators

Many people are returning to work to find mold growing in their refrigerators. This can usually be cleaned with bleach or an anti-fungal product. You may also spot water stains on the carpeting, meaning that the refrigerator leaked during the closure. If that is the case, you may have a mold problem that goes deeper than the fridge.

Carpets and Ceilings

If you notice water staining on ceilings or carpets, there was likely significant water intrusion. Burst pipes and leaks may have gone unnoticed. Mold may be growing in places you cannot see. But you won’t know that unless you test.

Computers and Office Equipment

VOC office equipmentDust and debris are likely everywhere on your computers, keyboards, copiers, and other office machines. Be sure to dust and vacuum your equipment thoroughly so that you don’t release any extra irritants into the air once the machines are back in use.

Under Sinks

Check for water staining under sinks, as there may have been a leak in the pipes, which would cause mold growth.

 

Before you reopen the office, have a mold and indoor air quality test. Not only does it show your employees that you care and are taking safety guidelines seriously, but it will protect the health of your employees, leading to a more productive workforce. Call us at 800.392.6468 to schedule a test.

Categories
Healthy Home Mold

What Should I Do If My Summer House Has Mold?

What Should I Do If My Summer House Has Mold?

So, you’re heading to the beach as summer season begins. The thought is delicious! But don’t be surprised if you’re greeted by a musty odor after you walk into what you had hoped would be your home away from home. Mildew! Mold! Whether you are at the Jersey Shore or the Hamptons, there’s an excellent chance that the home you’re renting or own has been flooded during a hurricane, been exposed to excess moisture and humidity, or has had a leak. Now, your nose is getting a strong whiff of the result. So what can you do?

“The first thing to do is open the windows and get air to circulate,” advises Robert Weitz, Certified Microbial Investigator and principal of RTK Environmental Group. Weitz says this is a common problem, as many vacation homes sit empty and closed up over the winter months, collecting moisture, especially since air conditioning or heat has been turned off for the season. “Mold is not picky – it only needs moisture and a food source, such as wood, ceiling tiles, carpet or sheet rock, to begin growing. The house next door may be fine, and yours may be a serious health hazard.” The important thing is to have your home tested right away so the problem can be fixed,  your health is not compromised, and your summer is not ruined.

Whether you hire a mold inspector or put up with it will probably depend on whether you are the owner or renter, how long you will be there, and whether you or your vacationers have allergy or breathing issues.

Short-Term Solutions to Summer House Mold:

–      Keep the windows open as much as possible if the weather is dry;

–      Use a dehumidifier to reduce moisture;

–      Change the filter in the air conditioner before you turn it on;

–      Wipe off any visible mold on walls, floors and tiles with a bleach/water mixture;

–      Use allergy medication to help lessen symptoms;

–      Let the landlord know there’s a mold problem.

The Best Solution:

–      Get an independent mold inspection to identify the source;

–      Ask that the inspector pinpoint if the mold is toxic or not;

–      Have the mold properly remediated.

Remember, if you own the house or plan to be there for an extended stay, mold could affect your health, causing wheezing, asthma, and allergy symptoms. The home should be tested by a certified microbial investigator, who can then advise you as to the next steps depending on the outcome of the mold testing. In New York, it is illegal for the same company to test and remediate on the same job. Whatever the case, mold can become a big issue quickly, so don’t ignore it!

 

Categories
Indoor Air Quality & Radon Mold

Poor Indoor Air Quality May Be Rampant in Gyms & Fitness Centers

Air Quality in Gyms: Poor Indoor Air May Be Rampant in Fitness Centers

Most people patronize gyms and fitness centers to improve their health and wellness, or so they think. But not all these facilities are as “healthy” as they could be. In fact, some actually have poor indoor air quality (IAQ) – a concern, especially since gyms and fitness centers are now reopening as the pandemic wanes.

gyms vocs

First, all that huffing and puffing actually impacts IAQ. According to a study released in 2021 by the University of Colorado Boulder [1], one sweaty, huffing, exercising person emits as many chemicals from their body as up to five sedentary people. Those human emissions, including acetone from breath and amino acids from sweat, chemically combine with disinfectants and bleach cleaners to form new airborne chemicals that negatively impact indoor air quality. You’re more likely to inhale the toxins while exercising because you are breathing more heavily and at a faster pace.

gym air qualityThen, there’s the building itself. At a recently constructed or renovated facility, testing often finds much higher levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) due to the off-gassing from new building materials and gym equipment. Included in that list would be new furniture, carpeting, adhesives, composite wood products like cabinets and lockers, work-out machines, and vinyl, such as mats, shower curtains or tile. The quality of ventilation also comes into play. Often, high levels of VOCs, formaldehyde, CO2, and particulate matter accumulate because of inadequate ventilation.

Exposure Issues

voc air qualityWhere you live also impacts IAQ. The CDC, EPA, and several medical journals point out that exposure to air pollutants in urban areas is linked to higher rates of asthma and abnormal heart rhythms, and increases the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases, and all other natural causes. [[3],[4],[5]] That said, poor indoor air quality can be present in any indoor environment, with VOCs and mold being the primary causes.

Exposure to VOCs in high levels can cause skin irritation, neurotoxic, and hepatotoxic (toxicity of the liver) effects, and certain of them are carcinogenic.[6] They also make you tired, cranky, and unfocused. The studies found that the concentrations of these substances generally exceeded most accepted standards for indoor air quality. However, no government agency in the United States formally monitors air quality in gyms.

Mold in Gyms

sauna moldYou probably know that feeling when you walk into a gym – it’s humid, damp, and smells sweaty. It’s no surprise, then, that many gyms contain elevated levels of mold, with the steamy sauna, swimming pool area, and shower areas that are in use all day long.

Mold is a health hazard. Breathing in mold is far worse than ingesting it. Mold can cause respiratory issues, sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, itchy or watery eyes, nose and throat, cough and postnasal drip, wheezing, rashes, and more.

What Can You Do?

indoor air quality testing gym

It never hurts to ask a question. Talk to your gym or fitness center management and find out if they’ve had an indoor air quality test. If they haven’t, request one. If you’re deciding which facility to patronize, choose one that has large open areas and windows that open. Oh, and while you’re at it, be sure your indoor air quality at home is acceptable as well, since you spend a majority of your time there.

RTK provides fast and unbiased mold and indoor air quality testing. To schedule a test or learn more, call 800.392.6468 or click here.

References

[1] https://cires.colorado.edu/news/sweat-bleach-gym-air-quality

[2] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0360132314002856

[3] http://www.epa.gov/airnow/2014conference/Plenary/Monday/Boehmer_NAQC_2014_final2.pdf

[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25712593

[5] http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM200012143432401#t=abstract

[6] http://ibe.sagepub.com/content/12/6/427.full.pdf+html

 

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.

Categories
Health Mold

Seasonal Allergies? A Cold? COVID-19? Something Else?

Seasonal Allergies? A Cold? COVID-19? Something Else?

This is going to be another nerve-wracking allergy season, as every sneeze, sniffle and cough will spark concern. Our best advice is to try not to panic. There can be several explanations for a cough that might have nothing to do with the coronavirus at all.

During this time of the year, flu, the common cold, and seasonal allergies cause respiratory distress. And now, with us spending so much time indoors, there can be allergens – like mold – that can be causing runny noses and coughs.

Here are a few things to consider about your symptoms.

Check for a Fever

Check for feverIf you are running a fever, this pretty much rules out allergies. But the fever might be caused by the flu, a virus, a cold or something else.

Seasonal Allergies or Cold

itchy eyesDoctors note that cold is not usually associated with itchy eyes, so if your eyes are red and irritated, you may be allergic to pollen or an allergen like mold. If you have a cough with no fever, it likely doesn’t mean that you’ve contracted the coronavirus. Check with your physician if in doubt.

Is it a Mold Allergy?

If you are having respiratory issues and other symptoms when you are in one location that clear up when you move elsewhere, it’s a good sign that you have a mold allergy. Signs of a mold allergy and symptoms of mold exposure include:

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

If your allergy symptoms do occur in one place more than another, you may want to have the location tested for mold. RTK safely performs mold testing, as it is regarded as an essential service. Call us at 800.392.6468 to schedule a test or if you have any questions.

About Coronavirus

coronavirusThe World Health Organization (WHO) issued a report on coronavirus symptoms. It found that almost 90% of COVID-19 patients had a fever, and nearly 70% had a dry cough. Additional symptoms of coronavirus have included:

  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
  • Loss of taste and smell
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue

The bottom line is, when in doubt, check with your physician. If you believe you have a mold problem, call RTK at 800.392.6468.

Categories
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.

Categories
Health Mold

What’s causing your allergies? The answer may surprise you.

What’s causing your allergies? The answer may surprise you.

As trees bloom, that’s when allergies start. Most of us assume our runny noses, itchy eyes, and scratchy throats are caused by pollen. But what’s really causing the mayhem is not just pollen; it can be mold. Why? Because warmer weather and increased humidity create the perfect environment in which mold grows. Mold is a serious allergen, that we don’t often think about as a contributor to allergy and asthma attacks.

allergy causesUnlike pollen, which you can see coating cars, windows, and other items, indoor mold can hide easily in your home (or workplace) – behind walls, in air ducts, under sinks, and in other hard-to-see places.

How do you know if you have a mold allergy? One telltale sign is if your allergies tend to act up when you are in one specific location over others. Indoors, that could mean your home of office. You may have an indoor air quality issue or mold in that location. The symptoms of mold exposure are similar to those of allergic reactions. However, if you suffer from asthma, mold spores can actually complicate your symptoms and even trigger an attack.

Common symptoms of indoor mold exposure can include:

– Sneezing

– Stuffy nose

– Itchy, watery eyes

– Scratchy throat

– Coughing, wheezing

– Runny nose, nasal drip

– Skin rash

So how do you know when your symptoms are no longer allergies and actually a reaction to indoor mold? The best way to find out is to have your home or office tested for mold and indoor air quality by an independent environmental inspector.

RTK Environmental Group is a non-biased company who specializes in environmental testing. RTK can test for mold, indoor air quality, radon, asbestos, lead, and other dangerous toxins that can negatively affect your health. Unlike many companies, RTK only does inspections, so there is no conflict of interest in terms of remediation.

Although there is currently no cure for mold allergies, you can take steps to minimize the symptoms:

– Remove main sources of indoor mold

– Use a dehumidifier

– Regularly clean AC, HVAC, and fan ducts to prevent spores from being distributed (and redistributed)

– Regularly check under your sink for leaks and dampness

– Keep your gutters free from organic debris (year round)

– Regularly clean your bathroom and use the fan after showering, to keep the bathroom dry

Don’t just assume that because you’re sneezing you’re allergic to all pollen and allergens. Indoor mold can cause complications and even pose threatening health risks. By having your home’s indoor air quality regularly tested, not only will you be safer and healthier, but you’ll also breathe easier.

 

Categories
Healthy Home Asbestos Health Lead Mold Soil and Water

First Time Homebuyers: What You Need to Know About Environmental Toxins

First Time Homebuyers: What You Need to Know About Environmental Toxins

 

The coronavirus pandemic has urbanites fleeing the city in droves and moving into their first house. Many are snatching them up at a quick glance, not realizing that the house comes with more than just additional space and fresh air. Environmental hazards like mold, asbestos, lead and radon may be lurking in your new home, and without a proper environmental inspection, you may not know until health symptoms develop.

Homes, anywhere and at any time, can harbor mold, asbestos, lead, or radon, and contain poor indoor air quality, polluted water, or volatile organic compounds (VOCs), any one of which can threaten one’s health. That is why investing in environmental testing services prior to purchase or once you’ve made the investment is a good idea.

5 Environmental Hazards to Watch Out For:

Mold

mold behind cabinetsMold can be visible or hidden behind walls, ceilings, or floors, under carpets, and even in HVAC systems. Mold can cause serious health issues including trouble breathing, allergies, headaches and dizziness. Mold can also be present and affecting your health even if no symptoms present themselves – everyone if affected differently. Testing for mold can pinpoint the source of the problem so that proper steps can be taken to remediate the issue.

Lead

lead soilLead is found in most homes built prior to 1978, the year lead paint was banned for residential use. Lead dust is the most common cause of lead poisoning, as lead dust can spread throughout a home and even into the soil surrounding your home. Unfortunately, most of the time you cannot see lead in dust or soil, so unless you test for it, you may not even know that this hazard is present. Lead poisoning can cause serious host of issues including neurological and cognitive deficits, autism-like symptoms, mood swings, and violent behavior.

Asbestos

Asbestos is commonly found in older homes in pipe insulation, tile, and attic or wall insulation, among dozens of other places. Breathing in asbestos fibers can cause serious health implications. At the least, asbestos is a breathing irritant. At worst, asbestos can cause mesothelioma, a serious cancerous condition that can lead to debilitating health problems and usually death.

Radon

radon testingRadon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas, is extremely hazardous to your health. It’s the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US. It is an odorless, tasteless and invisible gas produced when uranium naturally decays in soil and water. Since 90 percent of the land in the Northeast is likely to have elevated radon levels, every home should be tested for radon.

Poor Indoor Air Quality

indoor air quality testingVolatile organic compounds, or VOCs, and mold make up almost 90% of indoor air quality issues. VOCs are toxic fumes that are off gassed from many building and everyday materials including new flooring or carpeting, paint, cleaners and detergents. Poor indoor air quality can cause headaches, nausea, allergies, difficulty breathing, and rashes, just to name a few.

A Traditional Home Inspection Isn’t Enough

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

What Is an Environmental Home Inspection?

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

Not all environmental hazards are obvious, and they can cause serious health issues. To detect them requires expertise, licensure, technology, and experience. If you would like more information on what types of environmental inspections may be right for you, please feel free to call us at 800.392.6468. Live well!

 

Categories
Indoor Air Quality & Radon Health Healthy Home Mold

9 Tips for Better Indoor Air Quality

9 Tips for Better Indoor Air Quality

 

 

good indoor air qualityWe’re all looking for simple ways to be healthier, especially in light of the COVID pandemic. Good health starts with a clean home environment. If we breath air that is unhealthy, our bodies eventually let us know. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to potential issues like mold, mildew, and other causes of poor indoor air quality.

 

Robert Weitz, founder of RTK Environmental Group, warns that if you see mildew on any surfaces, mold is often not far away. “Mildew is a form of mold, so if you detect a musty odor or see mildew, there is likely a bigger problem that needs to be addressed.” Mold and mildew are common causes of poor indoor air quality. Testing for mold is the first step in restoring the health of your home.

 

Mr. Weitz offers many tips to improve your indoor air quality. Poor indoor air quality can cause health issues, including headaches, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue.

 

Here are some of his top suggestions:

  1. Be aware of common indoor pollutants. Around 80% of indoor air quality issues are caused by mold or volatile organic compounds, or VOCs.
  2. Keep a tidy house. Be sure to remove household dust, as it contains all types of particulate matter – from dead insects to skin cells. Gross!
  3. hepa vacuumAdd a certified HEPA vacuum to your cleaning arsenal to prevent smaller particles from being reintroduced into your environment.
  4. Install a whole home air purification system. They can be put directly into your HVAC equipment and can filter out harmful particles.
  5. Buy cleaning products that contain both disinfectant and surfactant to disinfect while removing contaminating particles from surfaces. Low-VOC cleaning products are recommended.
  6. Be proactive against water damage events. If you have a leak or flood, act fast as mold can start to grow within 24 hours. Also, keep an eye on humidity levels in your home; they should remain below 50%.
  7. dirty filterChange the filters on your HVAC system at least every six months and clean all ductwork.
  8. If you have water damage, test for mold, and then have remediation performed based on the results. When remediation is completed, you should conduct clearance testing to ensure the mold was properly removed.
  9. Allow new furniture and carpeting to off-gas and release VOCs and other toxins before moving it into your home. This can be done outdoors or in a dry garage.

 

Be aware of your home’s indoor air quality, and always get an independent company to test when any suspicious odors, spots, or stains are present. Remember, when in doubt, check it out!

 

Categories
Flooding & Water Damage Mold

Top 7 Questions on Ice Dams Answered

Top 7 Questions on Ice Dams Answered

The icicles are beautiful to behold, but there’s a dark side. If you see them hanging from your gutters, you may be in for some trouble. Here’s why:

When you see icicles, it means you have ice dams, and ice dams wreak havoc with roofs. They prevent melting snow from draining, and that means the water has no place to go – except into the tiny little crevices and cracks beneath the roof. And that means the water can seep into your interior walls, attic, and underneath the roof shingles. Dampness can cause mold growth within 24-48 hours, and mold can wreak havoc with your health, causing asthma, headaches, fatigue and more.

1. Water is leaking into my house – What should I do?

icicle roof leak

Act quickly and don’t panic. Report the problem to your insurance company, but don’t wait for their response. You’ll need to take these steps right away:

  • Take pictures or video of the damage, and start to remove the water immediately. Don’t wait for your insurance company to get back to you, because waiting — even for a few hours — could mean more water and mold growth;
  • Wet/dry vacuum, mop, or pump water out of the affected area as quickly as possible. Remove wet items;
  • If you are using towels to catch the water, be sure to change them every few hours so that mold doesn’t start to grow;
  • Outside, pull off snow from above the ice dam with a long-handled aluminum roof rake, while you stand safely on the ground. According to This Old House, this action will help prevent the melting snow from forming new ice dams;
  • Dry out residual moisture that is left in the wood, concrete, and other affected materials inside your home. To do this, you can use a dehumidifiers or plain ventilation;
  • Unplug electrical devices and turn off the circuit breakers in the wet area, if possible;
  • If a material cannot be dried within 24 hours, it should be thrown away. Unfortunately, this includes carpeting, mattresses, pillows, upholstered furniture, and items containing paper, including wallboard;
  • Have your home tested for mold.

2. I don’t see any water, so my roof isn’t leaking, right?

Not necessarily. Ice dams can cause seepage in areas the naked eye can’t see, including Ice Dam preventionbehind walls and under floor boards or carpets – wherever the water finds a path to travel. Mold can grow from even a very small leak, which can have detrimental consequences to your home, and ultimately, to your health. If you think the ice dams on the eaves of your house or gutters are causing indoor leaks, the safest thing to do is hire a certified microbial investigator, who can use a moisture meter to check for wet and damp areas behind walls, as well as take air samples to see if there is a mold problem. If you decide to wait, be diligent about checking attics, basements, and other less trafficked areas in your home for musty odors or visible mold, which are telltale signs of hidden mold. If there’s mold, you should have your home tested for other infestation (often unseen) by an independent mold inspector – one that does only testing, and not remediation, as this would be a conflict of interest.

3. What should I do about the icicles and chunks of ice in my gutters? ice removal

This is a tough one, because a lot can go wrong. The first instinct is to just get the ice out, but that is easier said than done. Getting up on a ladder that is set on snow and ice is dangerous in itself, but add to that a swinging axe, ice pick, or chainsaw, and you could be in trouble. Not only will you mess up your roof and shingles, you can cause yourself bodily harm. If you go online, you may discover some “creative” ideas to remove ice dams, but you should stay away from blowtorches, steam cleaners, heating pads, salt, boiling water, and hot bacon grease. To be safe and not cause further damage to you or your roof, remove the snow from the bottom portion of your roof, closest to you, with a roof rake or long-handled broom. Tip: Don’t stand on your roof to do this! You could slip and fall off, or worse, the roof could collapse right under you from the strain of your weight coupled with the weight of the snow and ice. Stand on the ground to remove roof snow. Just be sure to watch for falling icicles.

4. Can damage from ice dams go further than my attic?

Depending on how and where your ice dams form, the water can go anywhere. We’ve even seen water pouring into the basement. How? The ice dam grew so large that water traveled to a deck attached to the house, pooled, and then headed into the basement. If ice dams travel down your downspouts or the icicles get so large that they are nearing the ground, water may be pooling near your foundation with nowhere to escape.

5. What is the most common mistake made in dealing with ice dams? ice dams roof

It happens all too often: people do cosmetic repairs without making sure the area is completely dry and checking for mold growth. Then, when the weather warms up, they discover they have a full-blown mold infestation. That’s why when there’s water damage, it’s important to test for mold. Hire an independent mold inspector, one who does not do remediation, to get honest and accurate results. An independent testing company can conduct air monitoring and surface sampling tests; identify affected areas and measure the amount of mold – even if it cannot be seen by the naked eye.

6. Will homeowners insurance cover damage from ice dams?

According to the National Association of Realtors®, most homeowners insurance policies cover conditions such as damage caused by ice dams, when water can’t drain into the gutters and instead seeps into the house. But, if the water from an ice dam enters the home from the ground, homeowners insurance generally won’t cover mold remediation. You would need flood insurance for that.

7. How can I prevent ice dams in the future?

There are a number of ways to prevent future ice dams, depending on your situation and how your home or place of business is constructed. Here are a few tips:

  1. Properly insulate.
    Proper insulation of the attic is one solution, as is a tight vapor barrier to prevent ice dam roof moisture from passing from the living areas into and through the insulation. If air from your home finds its way to the underside of the roof sheathing, the heated air raises the temperature of the roof, causing snow to melt, then refreeze when the temperature drops again. Important: make sure you have enough insulation. An insufficiently insulated home is more likely to suffer damage caused by ice dams. To find out how much insulation your home should have (based on location and age), refer to this chart on the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association webpage.
  2. Protect your gutters.
    Whether it’s a snow and ice shield or electrified gutters, there are several ice dam removalproducts that will prevent water from working its way into the home. (A snow and ice shield consists of a membrane that seals the roof under the shingles, forming a continuous barrier to water.)
  3. Ensure adequate ventilation.
    In order to make sure that your attic and roof are properly ventilated, there should be venting at both the eaves and soffits and/or at the gable ends of the attic. You need to have a space for cold air to flow above the insulation to keep the roof cold and prevent the snow from melting. If you have a finished attic, it is a little more complicated, but it can be done. House Logic shares some additional tips here.

If you are experiencing damage from ice dams and melting snow, call RTK Environmental today at (800) 392-6468 to discuss your options and figure out a plan to keep your home and family safe.