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Flooding & Water Damage Mold Testing vs. Remediation

What’s Your Mold IQ?


Common Questions on Mold, Answered

In the wake of recent frozen pipe breaks, ice dams, hurricanes, and storms, there has been a lot of information disseminated about mold. Unfortunately, much of it is incorrect, and could end up costing homeowners a lot of money. We’ve created a list of the top mold questions, from black mold to mold certification, as well as common misconceptions. Take this quiz and see whether you’ve been getting good advice or not on these frequently asked mold questions.

Once mold is remediated, it’s gone and won’t come back.

mold infestationAnswer: Wrong. Mold can return to water damaged sites that were remediated too quickly, before the area was completely dry. In these cases, remediators sealed up the walls only to trap moisture inside a dark, warm area, where mold thrives. Don’t get caught in a trap. If you had water damage and had it repaired immediately or incorrectly, you may still find mold reappears, either because the home didn’t fully dry, treatment did not work, or unscrupulous contractors didn’t actually kill it. Trust only an independent, Certified Microbial Investigator to tell you where the mold is and when your home is dry enough to fix.

I only need to test before I remodel and not after, correct?

Answer: Incorrect. Testing after the remediation and renovation is done is just as important as testing before. You need to make sure the mold is gone and that the remediation was done properly to avoid a future problem.

Can you take care of a mold problem by yourself rather than hiring a professional?

mold removalAnswer: Possibly. If the mold is visible and the area is small enough (less than a 3-ft.-x- 3-ft. square patch), you can probably clean the mold yourself. The EPA provides information on how to clean mold on your own. If the area is larger than that, you should have an independent testing company assess the area and provide a removal blueprint for a remediation company.


It’s cheaper and easier to hire a company that does both remediation and testing, right?

Answer: Wrong. Homeowners should hire two separate vendors for testing and  Warning Conflict of Interestremediation, according to an article from Angi which states “Hire one company to do the testing and another to remediate to eliminate any conflict of interest.” Companies that offer to test and then remediate may offer mold testing on the cheap, but they could plan to make up the difference through remediation services. They’ll tell you all the mold is gone, but you can never be sure if the problem was properly remediated – or if it existed at all. Many consumers end up paying thousands of dollars for bloated repair estimates or an improper and ineffective remediation. In New York State, a consumer protection law was passed in 2016 making it illegal for the same company to test and remediate on the same mold job.

Do mold companies and inspectors need to be certified?

rtk mold connecticutAnswer: Yes, although many are not. Be sure that your environmental testing company holds the Certified Microbial Investigator accreditation from the American Council for Accredited Certification. In New York, mold inspectors must also be trained, certified, and licensed by the state. Choose carefully. To find out if the individual or company you want to hire is certified, click here to search for them on the ACAC site.

If you’d like more information on mold, click here. If you’d like to schedule an appointment to have a mold inspection, please click here to contact RTK.



Mold Weitz Advice

Six Steps to Protect Your Summer Home Over the Winter

Enjoy the last glories of summer sun, as news has surfaced that the Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a bitterly cold and stormy winter. Even this early, there are steps you can take to protect your home from the ravages of winter.

long island mold 1. Have your home tested for mold and other toxins.

If you suffered any leaks or flooding, MAKE SURE the mold and toxins are gone before you close the door on this season. If moisture or mold lurks behind your walls or under floorboards, you can count on a full-blown mold infestation by next spring.  Have your home tested now by a certified microbial inspector. He will let you know if your home is safe to close for the winter.

2. Prepare your home’s exterior.

Turn off water to outside faucets and drain hoses before storing prepare your home for winterthem. Take all furniture and outdoor recreational equipment indoors so that it does not fly away if there are strong winds. You should also shut the fireplace flues and dampers to avoid anything unwanted coming down the chimney. If you have storm shutters, make sure they are closed and secured. Finally, make sure your gutters are clean and downspouts are angled away from your home to avoid flooding and ice dams later on.

3. Turn off the main water supply.

Pipes can freeze and burst during winter if they are filled with broken pipe moldwater and the heat is off. So, turn off the main water supply and open all faucets and drain them. If your home is located in a very cold region, you may even want to drain the toilets and water heater. For more information on how to winterize a toilet, click here. Many experts suggest adding RV or boat antifreeze to the toilet and sink. To see how to drain a water heater, click here.

4. Set the thermostat.

control temperature to prevent moldIt may seem incongruous to turn on the heat as it is still warm outside, but in a few months when the temperature drops below freezing, a heated house, even at 50 degrees, will prevent your pipes from freezing and keep your home dry through the winter. Most experts recommend keeping the thermostat between 50° F and 58°. The heat won’t kick in until the indoor temperature drops below the thermostat’s temperature setting. But, if you are concerned, you can subscribe to an Internet-based system with equipment that monitors the inside air temperature and alerts you to freezing temperatures.

5. Clean out the refrigerator and freezer.

Some people choose to empty them completely, and Prevent Mildewturn off the unit for the season. If you do this, be sure to prop the doors open to prevent mold growth inside. If you decide to leave the fridge on, do not leave anything in it that may spoil if the power goes out. This can be especially dangerous if you leave food in the freezer and lose power for an extended period of time. When the power goes back on, the food will refreeze, and you won’t know that it had defrosted and probably rotted.

6. Set up a system for snow removal.

mold snow connecticutIf your home is in the Northeast, it’s a sure bet that you’ll see snow. The only question is, how much? Make provisions now for a snow removal company or friend to remove snow once it reaches a certain height. This will help to prevent ice dams on the roof and leaks in the basement, which can cause mold to grow within 24-48 hours. If you want to be extra cautious, you may want to have someone stop by periodically to make sure nothing is awry.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at (800) 392-6468. We’ll be happy to answer your questions or set up an appointment to test your home for mold or any other toxin. 

Health Mold

The truth about allergies – it may not be pollen, but mold!

You are sneezing, your eyes are watering, your nose is running, and your throat tickles. It must be pollen, right? Not necessarily. It does get a lot of the blame, but mold may be your problem. Seen and unseen, mold may be playing a bigger role in your allergy suffering than you realize. Here’s some expert “Weitz Advice” on mold allergies.

Robert Weitz, CMI and founder of RTK Environmental Group, offered these tips to Expert Beacon on reducing and treating mold allergies.

seasonal allergiesDO:

  • know the different between mold allergies and season allergies
  • know that there is a direct connection between mold and asthma
  • take the following steps to reduce household mold
  • realize that mold in schools and work environments could also be affecting your allergies
  • learn how to manage mold allergy symptoms


  • allergy sufferingassume your allergies are from pollen
  • forget that outdoor allergies shouldn’t bother you indoors
  • rule out black mold or toxic mold exposure
  • forget to check your air conditioning units and HVAC systems for mold
  • expect that medication alone will help your allergies


Health Indoor Air Quality & Radon Mold

Ah-choo! Is It the Cherry Blossoms or Hidden Mold?

mold testing washingtonAh-choo! Is It the Cherry Blossoms or Hidden Mold?

The National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC has ended, but our allergies are just beginning. What’s making you sneeze and your eyes water, nose run, throat tickle? Pollen is the usual culprit, and gets much of the blame. But mold, seen and unseen, may be playing a bigger role in your springtime suffering than you realize.

Most people assume that their symptoms are caused by pollen and ragweed, so they diligently close windows and turn up the air conditioning. You may be so focused on the allergens outdoors, however, that you could be missing equally troublesome irritants, like mold and mildew, inside.

mold testing marylandStudies by the Environmental Protection Agency, among others, indicate that indoor air pollution is at least twice as high as outdoor air pollution. As indoor ventilation tends to be limited, allergens like mold can wreak havoc. If you are taking allergy medication and keeping your windows closed, yet are still suffering from symptoms generally caused by allergens, you should consider having your home tested for mold and indoor air quality. You also should take the following steps to reduce household mold:

  • Remove organic debris from your gutters and yard – especially if it is spring clean allergydecomposing. Dead branches and leaves are prime growth spots for mold.
  • Clean bathrooms, and especially bathtub and shower areas, windowsills and shower curtains with a bleach or disinfectant mixture at least once a month to prevent mold growth.
  • Use an exhaust fan in bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms to vent excess moisture. Also, make sure the exhaust fan is cleaned every 3 months.
  • Use a dehumidifier – especially in damp areas of your home. Keep the mold testing virginiadehumidifier set at 50% humidity. Any more than that will encourage mold growth.
  • Try to keep your home dry and ventilated.
  • Keep your basement carpet-free to avoid moisture build up and mold growth.
  • Regularly check under sinks for leaks. Mold can grow quickly where there’s moisture.
  • Don’t put wet shoes or damp clothing in your closets. Let them dry fully first to avoid mold growth.

mold or pollenIf you are having problems with allergies and medication doesn’t seem to be clearing it up, have your home tested by an independent professional, like RTK, to see if mold may be the culprit. Once the source of mold is pinpointed, the professional can help you devise a remediation plan. It is important that the testing company does not also do remediation because of the inherent conflict of interest. In such a case, you may be setting yourself up for inflated bills and unnecessary repairs. For more about hidden allergy triggers, read this article from WebMD.

Healthy Home Indoor Air Quality & Radon Mold

Mold Exposure in Kids Increases Asthma Risk

mold testing dc

Mold Exposure in Kids Increases Asthma Risk

Here’s a scary fact: infants who live in homes that contain mold are three times more likely to develop asthma by age seven, the age at which asthma can be diagnosed,

according to a study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Led by researchers from the University of Cincinnati, the study determined that early life exposure to mold played a critical role in childhood asthma development. Eighteen percent of children enrolled in the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study were found to be spring allergy moldasthmatic at age 7. Mold exposure levels were measured using a DNA-based analysis tool developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — the environmental relative moldiness index (ERMI). The tool combines results of the analysis of 36 different types of mold into one index, which describes the mold burden in the homes.

Another study from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and Yale University showed a strong connection between children who were exposed to mold in their first year of life and the development of a wheeze and cough by twelve months of age. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vital Signs (May 2011), one in ten children in the US had asthma – that’s almost 7 million children.  Asthma was also responsible for nearly 3,500 deaths in the US in 2007, and cost nearly $56 billion in direct medical expenses.

mold allergy connecticutCommon symptoms of asthma are:

– Coughing, especially at night;
– Wheezing or whistling sound, especially when breathing out;
– Trouble breathing or fast breathing that causes tightness in the skin around the ribs and neck;
– Frequent colds that settle in the chest.

How can you protect your newborns from asthma? The first step is to know if you have mold in your home. The best way to do that is to have your home tested by a professional. If they determine that levels are too high, they can devise a remediation plan for you so that the problem can be corrected.

Call RTK today at (800) 392-6468. Then, both you and your little one will breathe a whole lot easier!

Flooding & Water Damage Health Healthy Home Mold

Why I Should Have Had A Mold Inspection

By Joan S.

For years, we battled a leaky roof. We patched it, but it still leaked. Water would soak the ice-roof-leakceilings and pour into the house during a big storm.  Buckets and towels became our best friend.

During the winter, ice dams were another problem; we could not seem to prevent leaks. Eventually, mold set in. Everyone in the family has allergies, and we could tell that mold was causing a problem as our asthma and conditions got worse.

cimney leak moldTo add to our headaches, we had a leak somewhere in the chimney that plagued us for years. Nobody could seem to solve this problem, so water would come in through the chimney flashing and soak the living room wall as well.

We finally wound up replacing the roof, had the chimney redone, and hired a contractor to fix the visibly damaged walls and ceilings. This is where we made our big mistake. We did not have a mold inspection or mold removal or remediation plan.

mold testing new yorkThe contractors fixed the ugly parts, not realizing that there was mold in places they could not see. Thousand and thousands of dollars later, mold suddenly started reappearing on our new walls and ceilings.  Our breathing and allergy problems continued. We decided to get a mold inspection this time, and were able to pinpoint where the problems were. We had to shell out a ton of money yet again for a contractor to come back and do the work properly.

If we had just invested in a mold inspection the first time, we would have saved about $15,000 and a ton of aggravation. Lesson learned!

Flooding & Water Damage Health Healthy Home Mold

Ice Dams, Icicles and Roof Leaks: Part 1 – The Big Melt

The big melt is starting, and we have been getting inquiries round the clock with great questions about the melting snow and ice on our roofs wreaking havoc on our homes, creating more drips inside than your toddler eating ice cream. In this two-part blog, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions.  Here’s what you need to know.

What is an ice dam and why should I care?

The icicles hanging from the eaves may look pretty, but they spell big trouble.  During the day, sun melts the ice dam mold damagesnow. When the temperature drops at night, the water refreezes to form ice dams, which prevent melting snow from draining off the roof. Since the water has nowhere to go, it can leak into your home or office, causing damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and floors. Once that happens, mold is sure to follow. A new mold colony can be established in less than 24 hours. When inhaled, mold spores can cause chronic allergies, headaches, fatigue, skin rashes, throat and eye irritations, wheezing, and many respiratory problems including asthma – especially in children. The bottom line: ice dams can cause structural damage as well as health issues.

How can ice dams damage my home?

connecticut mold testDamage from ice dams – outdoors and indoors, doesn’t occur all at once. Outside, ice dams can rip off gutters and downspouts, loosen shingles, and damage roofs. Inside, the damage can be much worse. Water leaking into your home can destroy walls, ceilings, wallboard, floors, insulation, and more. Once wet, insulation will lose its ability to insulate well, and you will lose heat. Luckily, that damage usually can be seen easily. What you may not be able to see is mold infestation behind your walls.

Water is leaking into my home – what should I do?

The most important thing is to act fast. You can call your insurance company, but don’t wait for them to mold testing new jerseyrespond before you take action. Here are the first steps:

  • Take pictures of the damage, and remove the water immediately. Don’t wait for your insurance company to call you back. Waiting — even for a few hours — could accentuate your water and mold damage;
  • Mop, vacuum, or pump water out of the affected area as soon as possible. Remove wet items and materials from the area;
  • mold test new yorkIf you have an ice dam, try to create a channel for the water caused by melting snow to drain off your roof. One recommendation from This Old House is to fill the leg of discarded pair of panty hose with a calcium chloride ice melter. Lay the hose onto the roof so it crosses the ice dam and overhangs the gutter. The calcium chloride will eventually melt through the snow and ice and create a channel for water to flow down into the gutters or off the roof.
  • Dry out residual moisture that is left in the concrete, wood, and other materials. You can use a dehumidifier, fans or ventilation. Unplug electrical devices and water damage new yorkturn off the circuit breakers in the wet area, if possible;
  • If a material cannot be dried within 24 hours, it should be tossed. Unfortunately, this list includes mattresses, pillows, carpets, upholstered furniture, and items containing paper, including wallboard;
  • Put aluminum foil under the legs of furniture to avoid staining floors;
  • Have your home tested for mold.

If you are experiencing any water leakage or flooding, please call us at (800) 392-6468. We are happy to answer any of your questions.

Want more? Click here to read Part Two of this series.




Mold Mold Testing Video

Video: Prevent and Remove Mold in Your Home

It is estimated that 70% of homes in the U.S. have mold behind the walls. This expert advice can help you find out if you have mold, teach you how to prevent it from invading your home, and guide you through the cleanup and removal process.

Flooding & Water Damage Mold

How Frozen or Thawing Pipes Can Lead to Mold Infestation

While most of us might not know what a ‘polar vortex’ is, I can tell you that it’s making us downright cold! (Okay. A polar vortex sends blasts of arctic air our way, causing sub-normal temperatures.) We’re not the only ones suffering; the pipes in our homes and offices may be feeling the frost as well.

pipe burstBelow freezing temperatures can cause pipes to burst (when water freezes, it expands which can cause a pipe to burst), which can lead to flooding, and then mold infestation. There is also the possibility they will burst when they thaw, so you may be in for an unpleasant surprise if you weren’t aware it froze in the first place.

Pipes freeze for three main reasons: a drop in temperature to below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, poor insulation, proximity to exterior walls and unheated spaces, and thermostats set too low to stave off the cold. So what can you do to protect those pipes? Here are a few tips.





  • Insulate pipes in your home’s crawl spaces and attic, since exposed pipes are most prevent frozen pipessusceptible to freezing;
  • Seal spaces and openings that allow cold air indoors near where pipes are located;
  • A trickle of water can prevent your pipes from freezing. Open faucets that are vulnerable to freezing and let them drip slowly;
  • Don’t lower the thermostat dramatically at night or when you leave for the day. Dropping it a degree or two is fine, but sudden drops in temperature can cause your pipes to freeze;
  • Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to un-insulated pipes such as under sinks and near exterior walls;
  • Disconnect garden hoses, turn off the water supply valve inside, and keep the faucets open outside so any leftover water doesn’t freeze in the pipes.


  • Open the faucet to release pressure, and then add heat from a portable hair dryer or heater to the pipe to try to thaw the blockage. (You can tell if the pipe is frozen if there is no running water or just a trickle, and there is frost on the pipe or the pipe is slightly bulged or fissured.) But never use a flame torch!
  • If water is trickling out, leave the faucet open as dripping water helps prevent a total blockage.
  • If the pipe remains frozen, call in a plumber immediately.
  • If a water pipe bursts, turn off the water at the main shut-off valve and leave the faucet open.
  • Try to dry out the area as quickly as possible. Damp and wet areas are prime locations for mold growth, which can blossom within 24 hours.
  • Once the repairs are complete, have a certified microbial inspector come in to test the area and make sure there is no lingering mold. Often times, remediation companies will come in right away and fix the main water issue, but do not allow ample time for floors, ceilings, and wall board to dry before finishing the job. Moisture is sealed into these areas,  creating a perfect environment for mold to grow behind the walls and floors.

For additional information on freezing and thawing pipes, you can visit the Red Cross website.

Health Mold

Sneezing? It Could Be Your Christmas Tree!

new york mold testingAh, the delightful scent of a piney Christmas tree, filling your home with love, light, good cheer – and mold spores! Yes, trees decay and release mold spores into the air. And right about now, when the tree has been in your home at least a week, is when the sneezing and wheezing begins.

Connecticut researchers have discovered that the mold count mold allergy new jerseyfrom a live Christmas tree rose to five times the normal level two weeks after the tree was brought indoors. According to Philip Hemmers, MD, an allergist and immunologist with St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, Conn., the high levels of the mold correlate with allergic rhinitis and an increased rate of asthma symptoms and asthma-related hospitalizations in other studies. Dr. Hemmers’ advice: If you don’t feel well during the holidays, your evergreen Christmas tree could be the culprit.

He recommends people with mold sensitivity keep a live Christmas tree in their home for only four to seven days. Signs of mold sensitivity can include chronic allergies, headaches, mold allergy treatmentfatigue, skin rashes, throat and eye irritations, wheezing, and many respiratory problems including asthma.

If tossing the tree so quickly isn’t for you, another option is over the counter allergy medicine. It works wonders for many people, letting you enjoy your fresh tree until after the New Year.

Once the tree is discarded, vacuum and dust well. To be sure you’ve removed any mold spores, and to see if mold is growing even in places you can’t see, call an environmental testing company. “Getting your home tested for mold now can save you big headaches allergy connecticutlater,” says Robert Weitz, a certified microbial investigator. “Most people wait months, long after a mold infestation has taken root, before they deal with the problem. Once this happens, repairs are often extensive and very expensive. I’ve seen people who had to leave their homes for extended periods while these problems were being remedied.”

Weitz is a principal at RTK Environmental Group, the Northeast’s leading environmental testing company. For more information or to schedule an appointment to have your home tested for mold, click here.