Are you among the nearly 50 million people cleaning up after Hurricane Sandy? If you live near the coast in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, you’ve likely experienced the most significant water damage and indoor mold contamination in the region.
Here are the first steps you should take in addressing water damage and mold contamination:
Get a proper plan together by calling RTK:
Improper demolition or renovation can 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.
An independent environmental inspection from RTK will pinpoint exactly what needs to be removed, what’s salvageable, and which environmental hazards are present.
Why is “independent” important?
Because we do tests only and do not perform repairs and remediation, there is no conflict of interest when you hire RTK. RTK has been trusted and recommended for nearly 20 years.
STEP 1 CHECKLIST:
Have damage, but haven’t done anything yet? Here’s what you need to do first.
¨ Inspect the damage. Be sure to take photos and video of everything for insurance purposes.
¨ Contact FEMA and your insurance company to find out what benefits and help may be available to you.
¨ Throw away any wet materials, especially if time has passed. They are likely to have mold growth.
¨ Dry out the area completely. Use fans, vents, dehumidifiers, and open windows when possible.
¨ Call 1-800-392-6468 and have RTK, an independent testing company, pinpoint the extent of the repairs needed, and identify any health hazards like mold, lead, asbestos, and bacteria from sewage.
¨ Check for roof and window damage, which may have caused leaks and mold.
Now that you have your independent environmental test report in hand from RTK, decide whether to hire a remediation firm or do the work yourself.
We’re happy to refer you to the area’s most reputable remediation contractors. Remember: Beware of any contractor who both tests for environmental hazards and performs the repairs. It’s a conflict of interest.
STEP 2 CHECKLIST:
¨ Clean anything that was flooded with disinfectant, as there are a number of contaminants, from sewage to bacteria, which reside in floodwater. A mixture of water and bleach works best. Make sure you wear gloves, goggles, and a proper fitting mask. Warning: Never mix ammonia and bleach – it creates a toxic vapor that can be deadly.
¨ Contain work areas before you start. To prevent further contamination, cover surfaces in that area and adjacent to it with plastic sheets in order to prevent further contamination from mold spores, lead dust, or asbestos. Also, seal ventilation ducts/grills in the work area and in the area adjacent to it with plastic sheeting. If the area is large, a mold remediation plan is highly recommended. Exhaust fans, HEPA devices, workspace isolation, and a decontamination room will be necessary.
¨ Only a professional should perform asbestos removal.
¨ Wear the proper protective gear. A respirator, such as an N, R or P-95 or 100, is recommended. Non-vented goggles, long gloves, and protective clothing are also suggested.
¨ Remove any wet drywall and insulation.
¨ Once wet drywall and insulation are removed, you must completely dry the area out before rebuilding to avoid mold contamination.
¨ Have 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.
Note: If you’ve gutted the damage and are ready to rebuild or have already rebuilt, 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.
Test your home for mold BEFORE you rebuild to make sure that the mold has been properly removed. Test your home AFTER you rebuild to be sure the job was done correctly, and was cleaned up properly.
Protect Yourself with Proper Documentation
An independent environmental testing company like RTK Environmental Group 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. Be prudent. Call RTK Environmental Group to perform the independent test.
Reselling Your Home
Sandy’s widespread damage means that future home buyers will be asking tough questions about whether your home was flooded or struck by falling trees. 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-Sandy environmental contamination like mold, lead, asbestos, and bacteria from sewage.
Future Insurance Hassles
If your home floods again and mold returns, your insurance company may question whether the mold was caused by the new event and not from Sandy. 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
Some 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. An independent test from RTK can save homeowners thousands!
An independent, certified testing company, like RTK Environmental, does not do remediation, and, therefore, offers consumers an unbiased opinion about any contamination. If asked, RTK will offer recommendations of reliable remediation companies.
Why Choose RTK?
– Leading Independent Environmental Testing Company
– No Conflict of Interest Policy
– Accurate and Unbiased
– 20 Years’ Experience
– Certified Microbial Investigators
– Building and Construction Backgrounds
– In-Depth Report Returned in 2-4 Days
– State-of-the-Art Equipment and Technology
– Extensive, Multi-Room Testing to Ensure Accuracy
OSHA Fact Sheet on Sandy Mold Hazards and Cleanup
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New York City Sandy Recovery Information
New York Sandy Recovery Information
New York Sandy Unemployment & Business Services
Connecticut Sandy Recovery Information