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Flooding & Water Damage Healthy Home Mold Mold Testing

The Hazards of Summer Storm Damage: Mold Growth

The Hazards of Summer Storm Damage: Mold Growth

Summer storms can bring much-needed relief from the heat, but they also pose significant risks to our homes and health. At RTK Environmental, we understand the risks associated with storm damage, especially the development of mold in the aftermath. Summer storms can bring flooding, leaks, downed trees, and power outages that last for days. Here’s what you need to know to protect your home and family.

An Active Hurricane Season and Intense Summer Storms
The tri-state area has already experienced some intense summer storms, highlighting the need for mold awareness. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is also predicting an active hurricane season for the East Coast. With increased storm activity, the likelihood of severe weather events causing extensive damage is higher. This makes it even more crucial to be vigilant about the potential hazards, especially mold growth, following a storm.

The Mold Menace After Storms
Mold thrives in damp, humid conditions, which are common after summer storms. When a storm hits, it can lead to:

  • Flooding: Whether it’s from a swollen river, storm surge, or heavy rainfall, flooding can infiltrate your home, soaking floors, walls, and furniture. Mold can begin to grow within 24 – 48 hours on wet surfaces.
  • Leaks: Roofs, windows, and walls can develop leaks during a storm. Even small leaks can create the perfect breeding ground for mold if not addressed promptly.
  • Downed Trees: Trees falling on homes can cause structural damage, leading to openings where water can enter and create damp conditions ideal for mold growth.

Power Outages: A Perfect Storm for Mold
Extended power outages, common during severe storms, exacerbate the risk of mold. When power goes out, several factors contribute to mold growth:

  • Lack of Air Circulation: Air conditioners and dehumidifiers stop working during a power outage, allowing heat and humidity levels to rise and moisture to linger.
  • Standing Water: Sump pumps, which are crucial for removing water from basements, stop functioning, leading to water accumulation that can quickly lead to mold growth.

Addressing Mold Growth

If your home has been impacted by a summer storm, make sure to take these steps to address possible mold growth:

  1. Inspect for Damage: Check your home for leaks, flooding, and structural damage. Pay special attention to basements, attics, and areas around downed trees. Take photos of damage if safe.
  2. Remove Water Quickly: Use pumps, wet vacuums, and absorbent materials to remove standing water as soon as possible.
  3. Promote Airflow: Open windows and doors to improve ventilation. Use fans and dehumidifiers once power is restored to dry out the area.
  4. Discard Damaged Items: Remove and dispose of any items that cannot be thoroughly dried, including carpeting, insulation, and upholstered furniture.
  5. Clean and Disinfect: Clean and disinfect affected areas with a solution of water and detergent. Disinfect with a bleach solution to kill mold spores. DELETE
  6. Monitor for Mold: Keep an eye out for signs of mold, such as a musty smell or visible growth. If you suspect mold, contact a professional for testing and remediation.

While immediate action can mitigate some risks, professional assessment and remediation are often necessary to ensure your home is safe. RTK Environmental specializes in identifying and addressing mold issues following storm damage. Our team uses advanced techniques and equipment to thoroughly inspect your home and provide effective solutions. If you had flooding or a water intrusion from a storm and think you may have mold, or if you just want to be proactive, call and schedule a test today at 800.392.6468.

Stay safe, stay dry, and stay vigilant.

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Flooding & Water Damage Mold Mold Testing

Combatting Water Leaks and Preventing Mold in NYC Apartments

Combatting Water Leaks and Preventing Mold in NYC Apartments

New York City living comes with its charm and challenges, with water leaks topping the list of potential issues that can lead to costly repairs and health risks. From terraces leaking to malfunctioning washing machines, these issues, if unaddressed, are a leading cause of mold growth. RTK Environmental reports that approximately 30% of all residential structures have some form of moisture problem, which can escalate into mold.

“The main issue in apartment buildings is that water travels downward but also laterally,” says Robert Weitz, founder of RTK Environmental. “It will travel through floors and walls to ceilings and walls below, as well as from one dwelling to another on the same floor. When that happens, you are at risk of developing a mold problem,” he explains.

Common Sources of Leaks in NYC Apartments

Terraces:

Leaves and all kinds of debris clog drains. When that happens, water has nowhere to go but into a nearby apartment. Water will travel to the weakest point of entry, which could be just about anywhere. If you have a terrace, be sure to keep your drains clean. Over 50% of terrace-related claims are due to clogged and inadequate drainage systems.

Toilets and Plumbing Pipes:

Pipe breaks are an apartment building’s nightmare. Hundreds, or even thousands of gallons of water can cascade through the halls and stairwells, not to mention walls, floors, and ceilings. One pipe break or plumbing leak can affect dozens of apartments and common areas. Fast action is needed to remove drywall and dry structure and remaining floors as quickly as possible. It’s recommended to treat water like a fire – quick action helps prevent further damage.

Washing Machines:

An estimated 10% of water damage claims are linked to washing machine hose leaks, which are often preventable with routine checks and timely replacements. In many buildings, there is a common laundry room in the basement–all well and good. But, what’s also common, are storage areas in the basement that contain boxes and other items comprised of cellulose, which mold loves to grow on. The humidity and any leaks created from the laundry can cause mold growth in any basement.

HVAC Systems:

HVAC systems often cause mold outbreaks in buildings, especially during the summer months, when the air conditioning systems create condensation. Where there’s moisture, there’s mold. And since mold spores can travel throughout the building through the HVAC system, you can expect that mold colonies are sure to develop.

Steam Pipes:

In older buildings especially, steam pipes and old radiators typically leak inside the walls or ceilings, which go unnoticed. The steam leaks are usually hidden, so damage and mold growth can go unnoticed for weeks or even months. But a musty odor signals that there is mold in the vicinity.

 

The Mold Menace

Mold thrives in moist environments, and even a minor leak can lead to a significant mold issue within 24-48 hours. If you suspect you have mold in your apartment, the smart thing to do is have it tested. If you do notice an odor or staining, call in an independent professional who has the technology to detect water behind walls, in ceilings and under floorboards. They can ascertain where the mold is and what needs to be done to remove it.

Conflict of Interest

It is important to get two different companies to do the testing and remediation. Why? When the same company does both, it is a clear conflict of interest, and could cost you extra for repairs that are unnecessary. A competent, independent testing company will tell you exactly where the problem is and provide you with a blueprint for remediation. The remediation company will then do only the necessary work, minimizing disruption and cost. In New York State, it is illegal for the same company to do both testing and remediation on the same job.

Who Covers the Cost?

Insurance often covers the cost for mold testing and remediation, especially as it relates to issues with an apartment building. If you rent and are concerned about possible mold, speak with your landlord or the building management. Apartment owners must be more diligent and fast when it comes to identifying mold growth.  The most important thing is to take care of the potential problem quickly. Live well! Be healthy!

Leaks and moisture issues are a significant concern for NYC apartment dwellers, but with the right approach, they can be managed effectively. Taking proactive steps to monitor and address these issues will help maintain a healthy and safe living environment.  Don’t let a small leak lead to a big problem. Contact RTK Environmental today for an expert assessment and state-of-the-art solutions to protect your apartment from leaks and mold.

 

 

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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.

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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

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.

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Flooding & Water Damage Mold

5 Tips for Tackling a Flooded Basement

The wild storms that hit the tri-state area dumped massive amounts of rain into an already floodingsaturated ground. This caused additional flooding of rivers and streams, road closures, and the collapse of many retaining walls because of waterlogged soil. It also left many basements flooded. If you don’t act fast, you could quickly develop a mold problem.

When the rain falls at such a rate, the ground cannot handle the volume and rather than being absorbed, water pools near our homes. This causes many of our basements to flood, which can lead to problems very quickly. Damp and wet areas are prime locations for mold growth, which can blossom within 24-48 hours. Drying out the affected areas as soon as possible is very important.

Here’s what you can do right away to prevent mold:

  1. Mop, vacuum, or pump the water from the area. But be careful if the outside soil is saturated – If you pump out the area too fast, the pressure from the exterior water could damage your basement wall or possibly collapse it.
  2. Remove all wet materials from the area.water damage DC
  3. Dry out residual moisture that is left in the concrete, wood, and other materials. If you have windows that open to the outside, mount fans in them.
  4. Use a dehumidifier and ventilate the area well.
  5. Remove carpeting and dry outside, if possible. If you can’t remove the carpeting, remove as much moisture as possible by using a wet vacuum. Then use fans to circulate air both over and preferably under the carpet. The carpet must be dried within 12 to 24 hours,
    or it will become infested with mold and need to be discarded.

If you are unable to take these steps quickly or are unsure as to whether you already have a mold problem, the best thing to do for the health of your family and your home is to call in a professional to conduct a mold test.

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Flooding & Water Damage Mold

7 Tips To Prevent Frozen Pipes

flooding-new york

The temperature hovering well below freezing, we have more to worry about than finding matching gloves and a scarf. To make it worse, combine subzero temperatures with strong winds, and you have the perfect scenario for frozen pipes. A burst pipe oftentimes causes major flooding in your home, which can lead to major problems, including mold.

Pipes freeze for three main reasons – quick drops in temperature, poor insulation, and thermostats set at too low a temperature. So what can you do to protect yourself from your pipes freezing?

 

 

Here are a few tips:

  • Insulate pipes in your home’s crawl spaces and attic, since exposed pipes are most Drip Tapsusceptible to freezing;
  • A trickle of water can prevent your pipes from freezing. Open your faucet and let it drip;
  • Seal spaces and openings that allow cold air inside near where pipes are located;
  • Don’t change the thermostat dramatically at night. Dropping it a degree or two is fine, but sudden drops in temperature can cause your pipes to freeze;
  • If you go away for the weekend, don’t turn the thermostat down too much to save money. If you do, you may return to a disastrous, wet, moldy mess;
  • Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to uninsulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls;
  • Disconnect garden hoses, turn off the water supply valve inside, and keep the faucets open outside.

If you open a faucet and no water comes out, don’t take any chances call in a plumber to see what the story is. 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.

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

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Mold

5 Tips to Survive a Basement Flood & Prevent Mold

You don’t have to be a meteorologist to know that this summer, rivers in the Northeast have had their fill, and then some. Unfortunately, road closures and downed trees because of waterlogged soil and flooding are not the only issues. The combination of steady rains and soaked soil have left many basements flooded. Combine that with the hot weather, and suddenly mold rears its ugly head.

When the rain falls at such a rate, the ground cannot handle the volume and rather than being absorbed, water pools near our homes. This causes many of our basements to flood, which can lead to problems very quickly. Damp and wet areas are prime locations for mold growth, which can blossom within 24 hours. Drying out the affected areas as soon as possible is very important.

Here’s what you can do right away:

1. Mop, vacuum, or pump the water from the area. But be careful if the outside soil is saturated – If you pump out the area too fast, the pressure from the exterior water could damage your basement wall or possibly collapse it.

2. Remove all wet materials from the area.

Get the water out quickly.
Get the water out quickly.

3. Dry out residual moisture that is left in the concrete, wood, and other materials. When the rain stops, if you have windows that open to the outside, mount fans in them.

4. Use a dehumidifier and ventilate the area well.

5. Remove carpeting and dry outside, if possible. If you can’t remove the carpeting, remove as much moisture as possible by using a wet vacuum. Then use fans to circulate air both over and preferably under the carpet. The carpet must be dried within 12 to 24 hours, or it will become infested with mold and need to be discarded.

Remove wet items immediately. Use a dehumidifier or fan to help dry out the area.
Remove wet items immediately. Use a dehumidifier or fan to help dry out the area.

If you are unable to take these steps quickly or are unsure as to whether you already have a mold problem, the best thing to do for the health of your family and your home is to call in a professional to conduct a mold test. To learn more about what you can do to prepare for future storms, click here.

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Flooding & Water Damage

4 Top Tips for Pre-Storm Preparation

Hurricane season has begun, and Tropical Storm Andrea has already drenched us. With the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) predicting 13-20 named storms (7-11 being major hurricanes), we have a lot to prepare for.

Luckily, there are things homeowners can do to get ready for the storm and protect your home from developing a mold problem after flooding. They may not stop the gale-force winds, heavy rain, and some flooding, but following these tips can lessen the potential damage to your home.

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

moldy-gutterIt 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 youMold Testing 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.

If you do have flooding in your basement or home, check out this helpful article for tips on what to do right away. And if you think you have a mold problem, the best thing to do for the health of your family and your home is to call in a professional to conduct a mold test.

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Flooding & Water Damage Mold

Winter conditions can be ripe for mold growth

If you have to run (and empty) dehumidifiers to fight mold growth in your home all summer long, you probably enjoy having a break from your war on mold when winter comes. Well, we’re sorry to be the bearers of bad news, but winter weather can create mold problems, too. And these situations are often beyond your control.

frozen pipeWhen temperatures dip below freezing, inadequately insulted pipes can burst. If you’ve been reading this blog regularly, you know you have to you clean up the water within 24 hours, otherwise mold will begin to multiply. But the water you see may only be the tip of the iceberg. A burst pipe is likely to spread water through the floors and walls, where it is invisible to the naked eye.

That’s why a company like RTK Environmental Group (the sponsor of this blog) tests not only for mold but also inspects your home for hidden leaks and moisture, which will lead to mold problems down the road. It uses scientific tools to spot hidden moisture in your walls and floorboards, and pinpoint the source.

So how does moisture lead to mold? Every home has airborne mold spores that are too tiny to see. Mold spores need only two elements to take root: moisture and food from a porous material such as carpeting, upholstered furniture, and Sheetrock. After a water pipe bursts, moisture encourages mold spores to form a mold colony. As the colony grows, it releases more mold spores into the air, where it can easily be carried by the gentlest air currents throughout your home.

There are home testing kits to detect mold, but they are often inaccurate, and cannot detect mold or moisture that is not visible to the naked eye. The Environmental Protection Agency suggests professional mold sampling to be sure your home or office has been adequately cleaned or remediated. For more information on how RTK approaches mold inspection, click here. If you’d like to find out if you might need a mold inspection, call 800.393.6468.