Categories
Flooding & Water Damage Mold

Hurricane Preparation: What You Need to Know Before and After the Storm

Hurricane Preparation: What You Need to Know Before and After the Storm

Hurricane season is underway. If you are prepared, you may be able to minimize and even avoid flooding and damage to your home. Follow these expert tips on the dos and don’ts of Hurricane preparation.

DO:

Be sure your gutters and downspouts are free from leaves and debris

It is important to make sure your gutters and outside drains are clean before the storm. Remove any debris from gutters and downspouts, and be sure that they are adequately angled away from the house, otherwise, water will collect at the edge of the house and leak into the foundation and basement. If you have extensions on your downspouts to direct water away from the foundation, be sure to secure them in place with rocks or stakes. With hundred mile per hour winds, they may blow off.

Prepare your basement

If you think you may have flooding, there are several things you can do in advance to prepare. Check basement floor drains to be sure they are not covered. Remove anything from the floor that you do not want to get wet. If you have boxes or any other cellulose materials on the floor, place them on tables or crates to alleviate direct contact with water. Remove items from places water may get in, like below windows.

Follow these steps if you get water in your home:

  • Take pictures of the damage, and remove the water immediately.
  • If you rent your home or apartment, be sure to alert your landlord and building superintendent as soon as possible so they can take the necessary steps. If you live in an apartment building and have leakage or flooding, water could travel through ceilings and walls to neighboring apartments and mold could affect an entire building in a short time.
  • Mop, vacuum, or pump water out of the affected area as soon as possible. Remove wet items and materials from the area.
  • Dry out residual moisture that is left in the concrete, wood, and other materials. You can use a dehumidifier or ventilation. If you have windows that open to the outside, mount fans in them. Unplug electrical devices and turn off the circuit breakers in the wet area, if possible.
  • Some items, once wet, should be thrown away immediately. This includes food, cosmetics, medical supplies, stuffed animals, and baby toys.
  • Some material that cannot be dried within 24 – 48 hours, it should be disposed of. 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.

Be prepared for a power failure

Be prepared to power your sump pump by an alternative method if you have a power failure. Sump pumps only work if you have electricity. If you have a generator, make sure it is connected to the sump pump and fueled or charged. If you don’t have a generator, make sure you keep an eye on your basement for flooding.

Have your home tested for mold if you have flooding

If you are a victim of flooding and have concerns about mold growth in your home, have a certified mold inspector in to test and assess the damage and give you options on how to fix it. Mold can cause serious health problems, including asthma, upper respiratory tract symptoms, coughing, and wheezing in otherwise healthy people. Infants exposed to mold in their first year of life are three times more likely to develop asthma. Toxic mold can cause even more serious health problems. Call RTK at (800) 392-6468 for more information or to set up a test.

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.

Avoid 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 the current storm. 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.

 

DON’T:

Do not wait for your insurance company to call you back

Take pictures and start removing the water immediately. Waiting even for a few hours could accentuate your water and mold damage.

Do not use a generator indoors

You may think it’s better to keep your generator indoors to avoid getting it wet, but this is extremely dangerous. If using a generator, be sure it is well ventilated and never use it indoors.

Do not leave your generator in the basement

Many people make the mistake of leaving their generator in the basement until the power goes out. By then, you may already have water in the basement, and the generator may be flooded and not work.

Do not wait for leaks to start

Some of us know that we have trouble spots in our home. Don’t wait until leaks start – prepare now. Anticipate them in advance, if you can. Check every window in the house to be sure they are closed tight. Place towels and buckets on the floor in the affected areas. If you know a window leaks, secure towels in that area before the rain begins. In heavy rains, you may need to change the towels and empty the buckets several times. Most importantly, once the rain and leaking has stopped, remove the wet towels and buckets from the area immediately, or you risk mold growth, which can grow in as little as 24 – 48 hours.

Do not wait until the last minute to buy supplies

We know that this is going to be an active hurricane season, so prepare now. Put together a hurricane kit. Have plenty of water, batteries, flashlights, candles, matches, dry and canned food, a can opener, a first aid kit, gasoline, a portable radio, and medications ready so when the time comes, you won’t be scrambling to get the necessities together.

Do not use the same company to test and then remediate

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 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.

Categories
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 Angie’s List, 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.

 

 

Categories
Health Healthy Home Soil and Water Video

Video: Is Your Well Water Contaminated?

In 2014, testing revealed that 70% of wells in Stamford, CT were contaminated with uranium and arsenic. Wells from Boston to Washington, DC have tested positive for a variety of harmful contaminants. You may mistakenly believe that because your drinking water comes from a well, it’s purer and safer than water from reservoirs. But well water can contain a host of contaminants, including coliform bacteria, uranium, lead, arsenic, E. coli, nitrates, VOCs (volatile organic compounds) radon, pesticides, and MtBE (a gasoline compound), which can cause a wide variety of health problems, including skin problems; damage to the brain, kidneys, and neurological system; gastro-intestinal illness; hair loss; and immune deficiencies.

The only way to know if your water is harming your family is to have it tested by an independent testing service like RTK Environmental. If you are interested in learning more or setting up a test, call us at (800) 392-6468 or learn more about water testing here.

 

Categories
Healthy Home

The Post-Sandy Baby Boom Is Here! Tips for Baby-Proofing Your Home

Click on the link below to find out what you need to know about making your home safe for baby.

Tips for Baby-Proofing Your Home – Westchester Magazine – August 2013 – Westchester, NY.

Also, check out our Healthy Baby, Healthy Home site for additional tips and information.

Categories
Flooding & Water Damage Health Soil and Water Video

Testing on soil covered by Superstorm Sandy floodwater reveals contaminants – Part 2

In part two of this incredible investigation, RTK helps News 12 New Jersey uncover contaminants in some NJ soil post-Superstorm Sandy.

If you think you may have contaminated soil from Superstorm Sandy flooding, feel free to contact us at (800) 392-6468 to discuss, or click here.

Categories
Flooding & Water Damage Health Mold

Experts Warn of Bad Allergy Season Ahead Due to Superstorm Sandy

allergies moldIt’s been nearly six months, and Superstorm Sandy still won’t give us a break. Even as spring arrives, allergies from mold created when homes and were flooded last year are turning into a big problem all across the tri-state area.

Dr. Philip Perlman of St. Francis Hospital on Long Island explained to WCBS 880 how the extra allergen could affect people. “Now that houses are dried out, [people are not free from the effects of mold as] allergy season northeastthe mold is growing behind the walls and they’re not realizing it’s there… Now they’re realizing something else is going on – sneezy, stuffy feeling and watery eyes,” Perlman told WCBS-AM.

Experts, including allergy specialist Dr. Clifford Bassett, clinical assistant professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine, say the problem will be compounded now that trees are bursting with pollen. “We’re expecting to see a very robust allergy season because of a lot of precipitation during late winter and the warmer temperatures we’re seeing now,” said Bassett.

So what can you do? Aside from the regular regimen of allergy medications and nasal mold allergy new jerseysprays, become informed. Knowing fact from fiction can make the difference between misery and relief for millions of spring allergy sufferers, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Most important: have your home tested for mold, especially if you indoor allergiessuffered damage from Superstorm Sandy. If you are living in an environment that contains allergens both inside and outside, you will suffer round the clock. If an independent inspector finds that you have mold, hire a reputable contractor that does only remediation work not a combination of testing and remediation, as that’s a conflict of interest.  Then you will breathe a lot easier!

Contact RTK at (800) 392-6468 to schedule an appointment or click here.

 

Categories
Healthy Home Video

Home Maintenance Tips from RTK’s Robert Weitz

By taking a few preventative steps on home maintenance, you can save big money in the end. Robert offers some “Weitz Advice” on ABC in Baltimore. For more information on how we can help you, please call us at (800) 392-6468.

Categories
Flooding & Water Damage Mold

Preparing Your Home for Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy could land in the New York tri-state area early next week with gale-force winds, flooding, heavy rain and possibly snow.  Luckily, there are things homeowners can do to prepare for the storm and protect your home from developing a mold problem after flooding.

Tip 1: Be sure your gutters and downspouts are free from leaves and debris.

It is important to make sure your gutters and outside drains are clean before the storm. Remove any debris from gutters and downspouts, and be sure that they are adequately angled away from the house. Otherwise, water will collect at the edge of the house and leak into the foundation and basement. If you have extensions on your downspouts to direct water away from the foundation, be sure to secure them in place with rocks or stakes. With gale-force winds, they may blow off.

Tip 2: Prepare your basement.

If you think you may have flooding, there are several things you can do in advance to prepare. Check basement floor drains to be sure they are not covered. Remove anything from the floor that you do not want to get wet. If you have boxes or any other cellulose materials on the floor, place them on tables or crates to alleviate direct contact with water. Remove items from places water may get in, like below windows.

Tip 3: Be prepared to power your sump pump by an alternative method if you have a power failure.

Sump pumps only work if you have electricity. If you have a generator, make sure it is connected to the sump pump and fueled or charged. If you don’t have a generator, make sure you keep an eye on your basement for flooding. If using a generator, be sure it is well ventilated and DO NOT use indoors.

Tip 4: Anticipate leaks in advance, if you can.

Some of us know that we have trouble spots in our home. Don’t wait until leaks start – prepare now. Check every window in the house to be sure they are closed tight. Place towels and buckets on the floor in the affected areas. If you know a window leaks, secure towels in that area before the rain begins. In heavy rains, you may need to change the towels and empty the buckets several times. Most importantly, once the rain and leaking has stopped, remove the wet towels and buckets from the area immediately, or you risk mold growth, which can grow in as little as 24 – 48 hours.

Check back soon for more tips on what to do if you have flooding and mold.