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What You Need to Know about Sandy's Water Damage

Here's what you need to know about mold, water damage and indoor air quality.

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If your home was affected by Hurricane Sandy, please read the following very important message.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), during a flood cleanup, the indoor air quality in your home or office may appear to be the least of your problems.  But failure to remove contaminated materials and to reduce moisture and humidity can present serious long-term health risks.  Standing water and wet materials are a breeding ground for microorganisms, such as viruses, bacteria, and mold.  They can cause disease, trigger allergic reactions and continue to damage materials long after the flood.

Keep indoor humidity low. If possible, keep indoor humidity below 60 percent relative humidity. Between 30 and 50 percent is ideal. Relative humidity can be measured with a moisture or humidity meter. 

Water damage can be deceptive. Water penetrates into structural cavities creating trapped pockets of saturation.  The detection of water in these areas can be discovered with sophisticated moisture detection meters.  Undetected moisture will continue to cause damage.  Fowl odors will begin to permeate the air, and then damage spreads to materials that become delaminated, shrunken, split and further deteriorated until required repairs become quite costly.  Dealing with the moisture and odor first will prevent such extensive damage.

Odor in homes and buildings arises from many sources, including disasters contaminates, moisture problems or just plain soil.  Routine cleaning automatically removes the sources of general soiling odors.

Odor removal involves four general principles:

  1. Removing the source as possible.
  2. Cleaning affected surfaces and materials.
  3. Recreating the conditions of penetration with appropriate counteractants.
  4. Sealing restorable surfaces as necessary.

Certified professionals are trained and experienced in dealing with related odor. They have the detection tools, the specialized agents, the equipment and the experience necessary to deal with odors of all kinds.

Inspection equipment:

Moisture sensor – senses moisture in materials over seventeen percent moisture content; helps determine perimeter of water damage; unable to determine which layer is wet or when dry

Thermo-hygrometer – determines temperature / relative humidity in all required atmospheric areas of inspection; helps determine open or closed drying system; further determines dehumidifier requirements after initial placement.

Moisture meters – invasive and non-invasive; determines moisture content; establish, monitor and determine when dry standards are met.

Serious water damage occurs when a large amount of water is absorbed and evaporated.  This situation can affect an entire room or many rooms as water is absorbed into building materials including carpets, pads and walls where it can wick up two feet high!

In such cases where water has migrated across a large area of flooring, it will be absorbed into walls and framing, saturating subflooring and insulation.  Water will then migrate under vinyl, tile or hardwood flooring, and seep behind cabinets.

Greater problems occur when water comes in from overhead, such as a roof and ceiling leaks caused by pipe breaks or storms, which can affect an entire room or many rooms.  In these cases, virtually the entire interior of an affected room or building is wet including upper walls and ceiling.

Wet materials having low permeance and porosity create deep pockets of saturation resulting in reservoirs of trapped moisture.

Note: Determining the extent of water damage is an essential part of calculating the amount of initial air movement and dehumidification capacity required to manage the anticipated moisture saturation condition.

A bigger concern is your hired contractor who may be from OUT OF STATE.  After all is said and done, and the emergency is over, a few weeks or months go by when you may experience problems, odors and concerns about the work and service that they provided.  They may no longer be in the area to make the necessary repairs and address your issues.  This is will be a big problem for many that were affected by this storm.

As for mold testing..... According to the Board of Health
A visual inspection is the most important initial step in identifying a possible contamination problem. The extent of any water damage and mold growth should be visually assessed. This assessment is important in determining remedial strategies. Ventilation systems should also be visually checked, particularly for damp filters but also for damp conditions elsewhere in the system and overall cleanliness. Ceiling tiles, gypsum wallboard (sheetrock), cardboard, paper, and other cellulosic surfaces should be given careful attention during a visual inspection. The use of equipment such as a boroscope, to view spaces in ductwork or behind walls, or a moisture meter, to detect moisture in building materials, may be helpful in identifying hidden sources of fungal growth and the extent of water damage.

Air Monitoring
Air sampling for fungi should not be part of a routine assessment. This is because decisions about appropriate remediation strategies can usually be made on the basis of a visual inspection. In addition, airsampling methods for some fungi are prone to false negative results and therefore cannot be used to definitively rule out contamination.

Air monitoring may be necessary if an individual(s) has been diagnosed with a disease that is or may be associated with a fungal exposure (e.g., pulmonary hemorrhage/hemosiderosis, and aspergillosis).

Air monitoring may be necessary if there is evidence from a visual inspection or bulk sampling that ventilation systems may be contaminated. The purpose of such air monitoring is to assess the extent of contamination throughout a building. It is preferable to conduct sampling while ventilation systems are operating.

Air monitoring may be necessary if the presence of mold is suspected (e.g., musty odors) but cannot be identified by a visual inspection or bulk sampling (e.g., mold growth behind walls). The purpose of such air monitoring is to determine the location and/or extent of contamination.

Remember that this is your HOME and You need to do whats best for You and Yours.......please feel free to call or email even text me any question you may have, and I'll do my best to help.

This message is provided by www.VangoCleaning.com

Robert Deacon 631-974-7034 (Suffolk)

                      516-858-1150 (Nassau)

                      718-509-0706 ( Bklyn/ Qns)

                      347-721-9644 (NYC)

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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