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AAHS Blog

Coming changes relating to Radon testing

Posted by William Flaherty on Fri, Apr 17, 2015 @ 10:22 AM

radon_3

It has come to my attention that in the near future, all federally backed mortgages will require that radon testing be perfomed as part of the due diligence on the property.

 

Buyers, sellers and their agents should be aware of this and get the test done early in the due diligence process.

The new regulation applies to single family and multi-family dwellings. Although the rule would appear to apply only to loans from from Fannie & Freddie but independent lending institutions will likely follow suit.

 

Please keep this in mind so that you don't get a last minute surprise.

 

Tags: Atlanta Radon Testing, Radon, Radon Testing

Concerning Commercial that could affect a Mold Inspection

Posted by William Flaherty on Mon, Aug 25, 2014 @ 11:24 AM

 

As I was watching TV the other night, I saw a commercial for a spray that would make water stains and "mold stains" disappear on various surfaces. As an IEP, my antenna went upimmediately as I could envision several ways that this product can be used for the wrong reason.


Assuming that the product works as advertised, I see negatives with the product for the following groups:

  • Homeowners/tenants:  This group could fall into the trap of "peace of mind" in that if they don't see it, it is not a problem. This group could unknowingly allow their health to be compromised by leaving a pathogen in place that just can't be seen.
  • Home Inspectors:  Home inspectors will typically alert their client to the presence of stains indicating current or past water leaks or suspicion of possible fungal growth during an inspection. If this spray works, they may not see visible signs of trouble that could cause them to miss these items and potentially have a legal problem later when the stains re-appear.
  • Mold Assessors:  When mold assessments/inspections are performed, the visual portion of the evaluation is important as it not only points us to the problem but also helps to track the source of the moisture. Something that has been hidden can prevent the scope of the problem from being realized and therefore the findings and protocol may not be all inclusive.

Another Group could use this spray for less benign purposes:

  • Sellers/landlords:  This group could use the spray to hide the obvious visual evidence of moisture or mold to help sell or rent a property faster.
  • Unscrupulous remediation companies:  This group could use the spray to let customers or IEPs think that they have actually performed a remediation thoroughly while actually just concealing the lack of work.



These types of products can make an already difficult enough situation even worse and cause people to make decisions that may not be in theirs or someone elses interests. It also comes back to the thought process that killing mold is not the answer, removal is.


 

Tags: Indoor Air Quality Testing, Atlanta Mold Testing, Mold inspections

Atlanta Radon Testing - HUD requiring radon testing

Posted by William Flaherty on Wed, Feb 13, 2013 @ 8:19 AM

On Feb 1 of this year HUD announced that it is requiring radon testing to be performed on all multi-family dwellings when applying for financing or re-financing. This underscores the importance of radon testing for all owners or renters of homes.

Atlanta Radon Testing - HUD requiring radon testing

Radon is the largest cause of lung cancer in non-smokers in the USA. There is no real pattern as far as one area that is worse than another. There is an EPA map but the reality is that it is on a home by home basis. Your home may have elevated levels and the home next door may not.

Atlanta Radon Testing - HUD requiring radon testing

 

The only way to know is to have your home tested. The Surgeon General recoemmends that all homes be tested every two years as conditions can change which may affect your air quality.

Most folks think of single family homes as the primary places where radon can be a problem but high rise apartment and condominium buildings are now being found to have elevated radon levels. This is for to a few reasons:

1. The buildings are often a poured concrete shell which does not have any openings that would allow gases to escape.

2. There is usually very little ventilation in each occupyable space.

3. They tend to share a common HVAC duct system and if the basement where the HVAC systems are located has elevated radon levels, then radon gas can be delivered to the units on upper floors.

 

Atlanta Radon Testing - HUD requiring radon testing

Having your home or building independently tested is an inexpensive way to know what your situation is.

 

Tags: Atlanta Radon Testing

Atlanta Allergen Testing - Rodent Control

Posted by William Flaherty on Sun, Feb 03, 2013 @ 7:45 AM

Sometimes rats and mice get indoors, creating a nuisance. They damage property, contaminate food and transmit deseases. The following suggestions should help in eliminating rodents in your home.

1. Cleanup

Cleanup inside and store food in glass or metal containers. Floors should be swept often to deny rodents food. Garbage should be placed in trash cans with lids. Food and pet food should not be left out overnight unprotected. Mice hoard food in inaccessible places, so removal of known supplies may not reduce mouse infestations immediately. The control of weeds around the outside entryways is also an important factor.

Atlanta Allergen Testing - Rodent Control

 

2. Trapping

Traps should be placed along the walls and in paths where rodents travel. Beware of trap-shy rats and mice, and leave traps un-set until bait has been taken at least once. It is better to use too many traps than not enough. Traps do not have to be washed after a catch. Some recommended baits for traps are: peanut butter, pineapple, nuts, doughnuts, cake, fried bacon, raisins, chocolate and gum drops. Rats are attracted more to ground meat or fish. 

3. Poisoning

Poison bait can be used along with trapping to increase capture and kill. There are some very good poisons available. Warfarin, Pival, Fumarin, Chlorophacinone, Bromadiolone and Cholecalciferol. BE SURE TO USE THESE ACCORDING TO LABEL INSTRUCTIONS. Mice tend to nibble so expect a longer period of time to get control of them with poison. Also, poison may cause rodents to die in inaccessible areas leaving unpleasant odors of decaying carcasses. Children and pets should be kept away from the poison baits.

4. Rodent Proofing

Rodent proofing is a vital part of a complete rodent control program. The objective is to close all present and potential openings which may serve as entries for rats and mice.  This means changing building details to prevent entry. It is important not to seal rodents indoors until baiting, trapping and removal is completed.

Inspect first! Begin with a thorough inspection of the premisies and locate openings larger than 1/4 of an inch and openings where utilities enter. Check floor drains and sewer pipe grates. Make sure doors, windows and screens fit tightly. Other possible entry points are transoms and letter drops.

The materials for rodent proofing should be rodent resistant such as sheet metal, heavy wire mesh, concrete, brick and mortar. Steel wool is a good substitute for plugging holes.

Rodents urinate everywhere and are a source of disease in living quarters. Rodent droppings can get distributed by HVAC systems that are located in crawlspaces and attics when they dry out and become aerolized. There have been instances of individuals contracting Hantavirus when exposed to droppings from rodent nests in flood situations. Humans can become extremely ill and in some cases die from the effects of Hantavirus.

Exercise care and be diligent in your efforts to control these vermin.

Source: Pittsburgh Public Works

 

 

 

 

Tags: Atlanta home inspections, Atlanta allergy testing, Atlanta allergen testing

Does Mold Affect the Value of Your Home

Posted by William Flaherty on Mon, Jan 21, 2013 @ 1:44 PM

I belong to a number of online industry forums and I came across a good subject that was published in "Budgeting Money".

What I took away from the article was how beneficial it was financially, not to mention from a health perspective, to have mold in your home properly remediated.

Property valaution experts found that a severely infested luxury home in Kansas lost 53% of its value because of an active mold infestation. Another financial advisor writing in "Realty Times" noted other case studies found an average of 17-23% value loss due to the presence of mold. Regardless of the actual amount of devaluation, which is subjective, other issues such as the unavailablility of insurance can make it difficult to sell any property that is affected by mold.

Does Mold Affect the Value of Your Home 

Even when properly remediated, some buyers will not even consider buying a home with a history of mold infestation at full price. Experts  estimate that homes that have undergone proper and documented treatment for mold lose about 3 percent of their value. Attitudes are changing however indicating that properly dealing with mold problems can preserve your property value.

If your home has a mold problem, you should contact a certified mold testing company to determine the source of the moisture and the scope of the problem. They should provide a "protocol" which will detail what steps should taken to stop the moisture source and to properly remediate the mold. A certified mold remediation company should then be contacted to perform the work.

 

Be sure to have all remediation procedures and repairs documented so that you can show buyers that you have properly taken care of the problem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: Atlanta Water Damage, Atlanta Mold Removal, Atlanta Mold Testing

Mold Remediation - Fogging

Posted by William Flaherty on Wed, Jun 27, 2012 @ 9:17 AM

As you can imagine, we come across numerous ways that remediation companies use to perform a remediation on a building whether they were provided a protocol (instructions from a certified third party professional) or whether they took on the job without one.

One of the processes that is used is "fogging". This process is used or sold by a number of remediation companies to homeowners and is attractive because it appears less traumatic to their living space and costs less. It essentially sprays a chemical on the affected surface which is then wiped off. This is called a remediation by some people.

Mold Remediation - Fogging

The problem I have with this process is that the objective of mold remediation is to REMOVE the mold NOT KILL IT!

 

It is extremely important that proper procedures and techniques are used in these situations so that you don't have to revisit the problem again in the future.

 

It is in everyone's interest to see that your home or building is properly remediated which includes fixing the moisture source.

Mold Remediation - Fogging

Be sure that an independent environmental professional assesses your situation and provides the instructions for the remediation company to follow.

 

Tags: Indoor Air Quality, Mold Remediation, Mold Testing

Mold testing Atlanta - Apartments & Condos

Posted by William Flaherty on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 @ 8:18 AM

In a recent article I received in one of my online forum groups, a topic was highlighted that I run into too often.

Mold growth in apartment or condominium complexes.

This particular article revealed inadequate maintenance practices usually due to un-trained maintenance workers and sometimes, unfortunately, due to the management trying to ignore or coverup the problem.

Mold testing Atlanta - Apartments & Condos

I get a lot of calls from tenants in apartment buildings and single family homes that are rented about health issues that they experience after moving into a building or after a water event that maintenance has "cleaned up".

This doesn't need to happen. If the management company would deal with the initial problem properly they can avoid the upset tenant, loss of revenue due to the tenant moving out or even worse, the cost of a lawsuit and penalty awarded.

Mold testing Atlanta - Apartments & Condos

If you have experienced any problems with your living situation, talk to the on-site manager in a civil way and hopefully, they will do the right thing. If they don't, then hire a certified indoor environmentalist to assess the problem and provide instructions that  detail how the condition is to be corrected. This can be presented to management which will let them know that you are armed with information.

If you are a landlord or property manager, I suggest aligning yourself with an IEP (Indoor Environmental Professional) to protect you against an escalating problem and also to develop a reputation as someone who does the right thing by their tenants. In the long run, it will be cheaper and prevent unnecessary vacancies.

Tags: mold inspectors, Mold Remediation, Mold Testing

Radon Testing: Radon Gas in U.S. Classrooms

Posted by William Flaherty on Sun, Mar 04, 2012 @ 7:23 AM

I found this article from "healthy Living" very interesting:

Imagine your child is smoking a half a pack of cigarettes per day at school. Inhaling radon, even at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s action level, the level at which it recommends schools take action to mitigate radon exposure, yields just about the same result as that half-pack-a-day habit. That’s what radon expert Bill Field told the Today show in a new investigative report.

Radon Testing: Radon Gas in U.S. Classrooms


NBC correspondent Jeff Rosen explored radon gas exposure — a big — and invisible — problem facing schools across the country:


Exposure to high levels of radioactive radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer after smoking, according to the EPA, which links radon to more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths per year. In addition to lung cancer, a recent study published in the European Respiratory Journal linked radon to death from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Radon Testing: Radon Gas in U.S. Classrooms


“Of all the environmental exposures you get, this is the one that causes the most deaths,” Field told the Today show.


But the even bigger problem is that school districts aren’t testing their buildings radon levels.
A nationwide survey of radon levels in schools found that nearly one in five has at least one classroom with a short-term radon level above the EPA action level (4 picoCuries per liter), according to the EPA. They round that out to about 70,000 classrooms.


Despite the numbers, the NBC news team noticed a trend when asking schools across the country, specifically ones in radon “hot zones,” if they were interested in free radon testing. They’re not. Out of 60 schools contacted, 40 declined or failed to respond.


There’s no federal regulation requiring radon testing in schools. Many states also don't require it. According to Rosen’s report, only five states currently mandate radon testing in schools.

Radon Testing: Radon Gas in U.S. Classrooms


Making matters worse, funding for EPA’s radon program is being cut, eliminating money to help schools perform such tests. “Although EPA and the federal government are facing difficult budget challenges, EPA will continue the fight against radon exposure,” the agency said in a statement. “EPA strongly recommends that both homes and schools are tested for radon, and that action is taken when high levels are found.”


Because radon exposure doesn't cause immediate symptoms, you may not realize you've been exposed to dangerous levels until you develop symptoms like coughing and wheezing or are diagnosed with lung cancer or another lung condition. When it comes to radon exposure, prevention is key.


Would you want your son or daughter’s school tested for radon? Has it been? Have your school representative contact us for more information. 

 

Tags: Radon, Radon Testing

Home Inspection: Basements

Posted by William Flaherty on Mon, Jan 30, 2012 @ 8:17 AM

Our topic for this article will be basements. Many of the things we will touch on can also contribute to crawlspace issues as well but because a basement can become part of the living quarters, we'll focus on that.

Efflorescence

Moisture Problems: Virtually all basements leak from time to time. Even basements that have never been damp may someday show moisture or even a trickle of water. Sometimes this happens after an unusually heavy rain. Often, basements spring a leak because silt has accumulated in the gravel backfill/perforated pipe drainage system buried underground. When this happens, water accumulates above the footings, creating water pressure that penetrates tiny cracks that abound in most foundations. No foundation can serve as a reverse swimming pool – keeping out water that builds up above its footings.

 

Contributing Factors: Perhaps voids under concrete slabs have created a channel for water to flow next to the foundation. Perhaps a growing tree root has channeled water to the foundation or even cracked the foundation wall. A new flower garden or similar project may have loosened the soil next to the house. Gutters or downspouts may have become clogged and are dumping water near the foundation instead of flowing it away from the house.

 downpsout

Practical Approaches:

  1. Create positive slope away from the house by raising the soil level next to the house. Be careful not to come within 8” of the siding with the new soil level.

  2. Remove excess vegetation from around foundation walls. Do not plant shrubs or trees next to the house.

  3. Be sure water from downspouts is routed away from the building. This can be done by putting elbows at the bottom of the downspout and also using splash blocks.

  4. Be sure to keep gutters and downspouts flowing freely so that water does not overflow around the foundation.

  5. Remove large roots from around the foundation. (This might kill the tree)

  6. Seal all driveways, steps, and patios where they join the house.

  7. Repair any cracks that you notice.

 

If these approaches don’t solve the problem, you may want to hire an inspector to analyze the situation and recommend an approach.

 

Tags: Water Damage, Home inspector, Home Inspection

Mold Testing: Closed Cell Spray Foam Insulation?

Posted by William Flaherty on Mon, Jan 16, 2012 @ 10:18 AM

In an industry forum that I frequent on LinkedIN, there was a post regarding this question that I thought was interesting. I wanted to share his input and my take on it for your benefit.

Closed cell spray foam is a widely used method of applying insulation to seal buildings from air and moisture intrusion. Spray foam is the "new" fix for everything product.

Although there are installation guidelines, the real issue may be lack of certification and training that ultimately leads to poor application practices. There are many companies running around eager to fill your home with foam .... But I say buyer beware.

The author had several clients that had 1: Spray foam applied in a crawlspace without encapsulating it resulting in high mold spore counts in the crawlspace and upper level floors buckling from the wicking of moisture, 2: off-gassing from the foam due to improper installation, 3: Soffit area spray foamed in an unconditioned attic. Although there was a ridge vent and gable vent the area between the attic floor and gable had no ventilation resulting in significant mold growth. In a 5 year old home, moisture was trapped between the roof decking and insulation causing deterioration of the roof decking.

Crawlspace water

During installation, if the chemicals are not mixed correctly or at the proper temperature, incomplete curing of the two checmicals can occur, ether of which is toxic on its own. Although rare, the risk is still there.

Once applied (correctly or incorrectly) a house is bound up and glued together in a manner that is impossible to reverse, limiting the ease of future renovations dramatically. It also can produce toxic gases in the event of a fire.

I'm certainly not against foam insulation but as a professional and homeowner I would make sure the application methods are sound.

I could just sit back and let the spray foam industry build my business for the future but I'm more interested in helping my clients make the right decisions to ensure a healthy home.

 

 

Tags: Indoor Air Quality Testing, Spray Foam, Mold Testing