Mold Cleanup: DIY vs. P-R-O

As the snow starts to melt and the weather gets warmer, many homeowners begin to find mold growing in their houses, specifically in lower levels, such as their basement.  As soon as you find even the smallest bit of it, you NEED to remove it immediately to prevent any damage or health hazards.

That’s when you need to decide…should you hire a professional or should you do it yourself?  Before you start, you need to know what options you have.

It’s okay to clean mold by yourself when…

  • Each section of mold (if more than one section) only covers a small area.
  • The mold is growing on an easy to clean surface, like glass or windows, metals, floor or wall tiles, tubs, sinks, or similar materials.
  • The mold is visible on a surface that’s hard to clean, but easy to replace or remove from the house such as carpet, old furniture, window screens, shower curtains, etc.
  • The mold is growing on something that can be thrown out, such as toys, equipment, books and related items.
  • You have no health concerns that removing mold will put yourself in danger, such as asthma, mold allergy, pregnancy or any respiratory issues.
  • It’s a small type of mold such as mildew that won’t make anything rot, but is an easy clean up.

You should hire a professional if…

  • The mold takes up an area bigger than 3 feet by 3 feet (according to the Environmental Protection Agency). The larger the mold, the easier it can spread.
  • The mold is circulating inside your HVAC system.
  • You find the mold in a hard to clean spot, such as grout lines in bathrooms, drywall, house siding, damp wood, etc.
  • You find mold after a flood or around an excessive amount of water that also needs to be removed.
  • You have a health concern that prevents you from safely cleaning, such as asthma, mold allergies, pregnancy or any respiratory issues.
  • You are sick, suffering from a runny nose, sneezing, wheezing or related symptoms.

If you choose to clean up the mold in your home, be sure to take proper care of it.  Use the appropriate products recommended for mold removal and clean up any debris.  Wear gloves and older clothes that you can throw out after cleaning.  Turn off any air conditioning or heat when cleaning so extra particles don’t get caught up in your air system.

Cleaning up mold is time-consuming and if you feel you don’t have the energy to finish the job or aren’t sure how to do it yourself, hiring a professional like Perfect Basement is the best option for you.  We will do our own investigation to figure out what type of mold is in your home and will use the correct, professional and safest procedures to remove it.

The most important thing is SAFETY.  Whatever mold removal process you choose to take, just be sure to do it correctly to prevent future harm.

If you want a certified professional to remove mold from your home, contact us at 888.665.3259, or online at perfectbasement.us/free-inspection.

Woman Blames Propane Company for Toxic Mold

Most of us know that mold occurs most commonly from water being allowed to saturate an area for extended periods of time.

This story from The West Virginia Record of a woman who became ill after a utility company damaged her property illustrates that sometimes mold can develop in unexpected ways.

Read the article below, or at the original link: http://wvrecord.com/news/272483-woman-blames-propane-company-for-toxic-mold.

If you want to get rid of mold in your home, call our professionals at 888.665.3259 for a free estimate.

———–

A woman is suing a company over claims it negligently crushed a sewer line in her home, resulting in her becoming sick.

Myra A. Watts filed a lawsuit January 7th in Jackson Circuit Court against AmeriGas Propane.According to the complaint, on August 8, 2012, AmeriGas Propane replaced a propane line on Watts’ property. While in the process of installing the line, defendant crushed a sewer line, causing sewage and water to accumulate under Watts’ property, resulting in the formation of toxic mold, the suit states.On January 7, 2013, Watts discovered black mold on the floor and on January 8, 2013, she became ill, the suit states. Watts visited her doctor January 15, 2013 who discovered her lungs were diminished, and diagnosed her with mold exposure, according to the lawsuit.Watts alleges AmeriGas Propane negligently damaged her sewer line, causing her to develop mold exposure and subsequently become ill.She seeks compensatory damages, along with punitive damages, interest and attorney fees. Watts is represented by attorney Eric J. Holmes of the Law Offices of Harris and Holmes in Ripley.

 

 

 

Six Questions to Ask When Hiring a Contractor

There are times when hiring a contractor is the best option for specialized projects. These questions can be a great starting point to ensure you’re getting the most reputable contractor for your needs.

Are you insured, bonded, or licensed?

This is the one of the most important and should be one of the first few you ask.  You are ensuring that you will not be held responsible should something go wrong on the job.  The contractor will be responsible for the injuries sustained on the job.  Also, when you are going to waterproof it is important to know if the work will require a permit.

How long have you been in business?

Asking this question can tell you a lot about the potential contractor.  The most important thing you can learn about is their level of experience, and how well versed they are in dealing with your specific issue.

It is also imperative to ask about the effectiveness of the process they are recommending as the solution to your problem.  For example, if they are recommending something that they have only been using a couple years, a sound evaluation of the reliability might not be as accurate.

Whom have you done work for? Do you have references?

Getting information about your potential hire is vital when it comes to getting work done in your home.  If the company has had years of satisfied customers that is a definite plus.  It might be in your best interest to call former clients to make sure the work held up.  Research as to whether they have done work for other companies and get their opinion.

What is the scope of the work? How long will the job take?

This is basically a step by step plan on how the work is going to be implemented. How they plan on fixing the problem, the machinery that will be used, how and what they will have to dig, etc., should all be answered when you speak with your contractor.

A good follow up question is “How long will this take?”.  After the contractor explains the scope of the job, then a timeframe should be discussed as well.  While it is tricky to predict an exact time frame because unexpected issues may occur, they can give you a ballpark estimate.  If you are paying by the day or hour, this estimate will be vital when making your final decision.  After all, cost and time are two of biggest factors.

Do you use subcontractors?

Asking your contractors if they do the work themselves or hire subcontractors is very important information.  As the client, you are entitled to know who will exactly be doing work on your home.  It is important to make your contractor aware of your feelings should you have opposing opinions.

Do you have any sort of warranty or guarantee?

Standing by the product or service is very important when it comes to great customer relations.   If a company does not stand by its product or service, then that should be a telltale sign of the quality of work they do.  Be sure to ask what the warranty or guarantee covers for the work that is going to be performed.  Know exactly what they offer should you ever need to take advantage of the feature.

Hiring the right contractor to waterproof your basement is very important.  Knowing what questions to ask can help mitigate problems down the road, and provide a clear picture of what the desired outcome is for both contractor and homeowner.

If you would like a free estimate for waterproofing or mold remediation, call us at 888.665.3259 or contact us online at: perfectbasement.us/free-inspection/.

Costs and Causes of a Flooded Basement

Flooded basements are the worst nightmare for homeowners.  Not only do they come at the most inopportune time and are a headache to clean up, they can cause damage to your home.  If the water sits for a long time, the moisture can lead to mold and other issues.  Consequently, it costs time and money to correct the problem or to clean up the mess.  Being fully aware of what causes flooded basements can help alleviate some of the stress.

The most common cause of floods is rain.  Having excessive amount of rain in a short period of time can saturate the ground around the basement pushing water through the foundation cracks.

Another cause of flooding is due to the grade or slope of your lawn.  Water flows from high to low ground.  This means that the water should flow away from your house to the sewer system.  Checking this is easy as taking a walk around your home when it is raining and checking for pools of water.

When your sewer systems backs up it can cause flooding as well.  In most suburban homes, there is a sewer line that is lower than the floor of the basement allowing the water to be carried away.  However, if this becomes clogged or damaged and the water rises above the basement floor, the water will come back into your home causing floods.

Sometimes the failure of your home’s sump pump can be the culprit of a flooding basement.  Sump pumps are designed to pump out excess water by being inserted into a basin drilled into the floor.

Once you have determined the cause of water in your basement it is time to find a solution to fix the problem.  It depends on the amount of water, how long it sits, the size of your basement, what is affected, etc… that determines the amount of damage and ultimately amount of money that is required to fix the issue.

To help be as cost-effective as possible, it will help to dry out your basement.  If there are pools of water on your floor, use a shop vac or other product to soak up the water to remove it.  Also using a dehumidifier will help dry out the basement.

Determining the exact cost and best course of action to make necessary repairs is based on a number of factors, but is worth the time and cost to find the best solution.  If you need to have water removed from your basement, please call us at 888.665.3259 or contact us online at: http://perfectbasement.us/free-inspection/.

Plant One on Me!

With all the decorating ideas out there for basement spaces, the one area that might be most overlooked is houseplants. After all, there aren’t many plants that can thrive with little to no light, right?

Before going the plastic plant route, consider these attractive options that can bring color and life into your basement.

  1. One of the most common types of low-light houseplants is the Fern. The American Maidenhair Fern is most recognizable as the “standard” Fern popular from the 1970s, and still popular today, with good reason. Great in terrariums, pots or hanging baskets, this versatile plant grows slowly and does well in moist to wet soil; especially good if there is humidity in the basement. The decorative, frilly leaves come in different varieties, like the Silver Lace Fern, with variegated leaves.
  2. With so many different types, the Bigleaf Hydrangea is a great flowering plant option for low light areas. Although it may be a surprising addition to this list, due to the tendency to see it more outdoors, Hydrangeas can thrive indoors as well. Blooming in blue, pink, purple, red or white, this drought-tolerant flower can be used in a cut floral arrangement or potted plant.
  3. Mint. With so many ways to use it – from teas, salads, to just eating it raw – this multipurpose plant can thrive indoors. The spearmint variety, English Mint, works better when started from cuttings.
  4. As a hardy perennial, Begonias are a fragrant addition to any room. The Hardy Begonia variety blooms throughout the summer, and a Rex Begonia will live quite happily without any direct light. Don’t overwater it; soak it and let it dry out.
  5. For very little light, consider creating a moss terrarium. With minimal moisture and light, position it near a window where it will get refracted light and it should thrive. Starter kits available at home and garden outlets make this an easy option.

With so many options available at home and garden centers, injecting some life into any basement is easy with the addition of plants.

Fix My Foundation: What Are My Options?

The foundation is the most important part of your home, and is as vital to maintain as you would any other part of your home. There are different methods that are used to fix foundation issues: i-beams or wall reinforcement beams, carbon fiber straps, and helical anchors. Below we discuss the different methods and their effectiveness.

 

Steel Beam Foundation Reinforcement

To install steel beam foundation support, the floor along the foundation walls must be jackhammered where the beams will be placed.  The beams are then installed and bolted to the wooden floor joist above.  The pressure bearing against the wall is transferred to the wood floor joist, which can lead to damage and buckling in the floor above. Because the pressure against the wall itself is not addressed, there is still great pressure against the walls.  This continued pressure can widen the cracks, and over time, even cause the steel beams to bend.

This installation has other shortcomings.  Because the steel beams are straight, rigid supports, they will only touch the foundation wall where it’s bowed outwards the worst- the rest of the wall will not be supported.  These beams are also large and awkward, and their installation causes the homeowner to lose several inches of living space while forcing them to remove drywall panels for the installation.  Finally, the installation merely braces the walls, whereas other foundation repair methods can provide a way to actually straighten and repair the wall as well.

Carbon Fiber Fabric

Carbon fiber fabric installs in tough strips on the foundation walls in order to reinforce the weakened areas.  To install these, the areas where installation will occur are treated and applied with epoxy glue.  Carbon fiber fabric strips are installed on the treated areas and the installation is complete.  The installation is fast and relatively inexpensive.

This installation is better than some options, however it does have some weaknesses.  Because these strips are not installed along the entire length of the wall, the bottom portion of the wall can still crack and shift and the top portion of the wall can still be pushed inwards, causing leaning foundation walls.  The installation relies on epoxy glue to be successful, and the carbon filter fabric cannot be used to fix walls with severe cracking or displacement.  Finally, this method of foundation repair also cannot restore the wall to its original position, as foundation anchors can.

Helical Anchors

Helical anchors are designed with three main parts: an exterior earth anchor, an interior wall plate, and a connecting steel rod.  Together, they work to counteract the pressure being exerted against the wall. When foundation anchors are installed, a small area of lawn is removed, and the space underneath is excavated.  The earth anchor is placed inside the hole, and a hole is drilled through the foundation wall from the inside.  A steel rod is driven through this hole and is pushed out to the earth anchor in the yard.  On the outside, an anchor is fixed on the rod, with a wall plate installed against the inside foundation wall.  This anchor is tightened against the wall, and the tightening process is repeated over time.  Once the installation is finished, the hole is filled in, and the removed portion of lawn is restored.

Over time, periodic retightening of this anchor can potentially pull the wall back to its original position- a possibility that merely providing a brace cannot present.  Foundation anchors are a cost-effective and fast installation, usually installing in a single day.  Installation is possible year-round, and the job is completed with minimal disruption of the yard and with no need to replace the foundation. Alternately,  helical anchors may not be as effective in rock or gravel areas, as in soil. There also needs to be enough space in the work area so that the anchors may be installed correctly.

Whichever method is best suited for your needs, we are educated to provide the highest quality service to keep your foundation, and your home, a safe and pleasant place to live. Please contact us for a free estimate at 888.665.3259, or at our online contact form at: http://perfectbasement.info/free-inspection/. We look forward to servicing you.

What Does Waterproofing Do for My Basement?

Water in the basement is a homeowner’s worst nightmare.  Taking preventative measures to avoid wet or musty basements can be beneficial for you as the homeowner.  We highlight five great reasons to waterproof your home before it happens again.

Add Space/Increase Value of Your Home

Your basement is more than a permanent storage unit in your home.   It accounts for ⅓ or ½ of a home’s total space, a good portion of your home that can be used for all sorts of things.  To keep it a useable space, keep it free of bacteria, mold, and seepage.  Making the basement healthy and useable will add space and if you ever decide to sell, will add value.

Reduce Energy Costs

Did you know that if you waterproof your basement or crawl space you might be able to save money on your energy costs?  During the winter and fall months, cold air enters the house through cracks in the basement.  Sealing them up can increase your energy efficiency.  During the summer months, the cracks cause moisture to enter the home, causing your air conditioning to work harder to get rid of the warm moist air.  When you waterproof, humidity levels should decrease, which helps with air conditioning efficiency.

Avoid Serious Long Term Health Risks

One of the biggest issues in basements is mold. The combination of water, temperature, and moisture can cause mold to grow – in as little as a 24-48 hour period. Exposure to mold can lead to upper respiratory symptoms, cough, and wheezing in otherwise healthy people. Mold is also linked to the worsening of asthma symptoms in people who have asthma.

Protect Your Investment

Many people work very hard to decorate, remodel, clean, and furnish their homes.  It is just as important to show the same care to the structural components of your home.  By investing time and money into maintaining your basement, you are protecting your investment, while also strengthening the value.

Peace of Mind

Waterproofing your basement is one of the best decisions you can make as a homeowner.  This adds space and value to your home, while keeping the moisture out.  It also helps keep you energy costs low.  Your HVAC system will not have to work as hard to keep the moisture out.  Waterproofing can also help improve your overall health, by not allowing the growth of mold.

With our experience in waterproofing and mold remediation, we can make your basement a place to enjoy. To see examples of our work click here, and call us at 888.665.3259 for a free inspection.

Foundation Cracks FYI

Whether you are just buying your first home, or have lived in it for many years, one of the things that can instill the most fear is finding cracks in the foundation of your home.

Even though they can look scary, we can help you determine the problem, and how to fix it.

The most common reason for foundation cracks is water. It can cause pressure in the ground soil, causing it to expand and contract, which in turn, causes cracking.

Some signs that show there is foundation damage are tilting or bowing. When a foundation wall is tilting, it means that the top of the wall is being pushed in by the soil pressure. This pressure can be caused by improper drainage that increases the soil pressure. When only a section of the wall is weakened, this is known as bowing. If the wall is made of concrete, the cracking will occur along the joint lines between the individual blocks. If you have “stair step” cracks in blocks or bricks, they can be temporarily repaired with epoxy putty, but it only stops water from coming in, not actually repairing the foundation. You need to fix the underlying problem. This is where a foundation repair specialist can help.

A foundation repair specialist, or CFRS, is different than a general contractor or a mason. The foundation specialist focuses only on the foundation, and has greater specialized education and knowledge of the problems from foundation cracks, and how to solve those problems effectively.

In addition to contacting a specialist, there are simple things you can do on your own to ensure a solid foundation. Make sure soil is graded, or sloped, away from the house – it should slope at least 6 inches for every 10 horizontal feet. Make sure gutters are in clean and working order to pipe away all gutter water. Replace water-thirsty landscaping within 5 feet of the walls with plants that need little water or install a concrete path around the house so rainwater can’t soak in that area.

Whether you have a crawl space, a slab, or a basement foundation, we have the knowledge and experience to ensure a dry, safe foundation for your home. For a free inspection of your foundation, please contact us at 888-665-3259, or complete our online contact form at http://perfectbasement.info/free-inspection/. We look forward to servicing you.

Why is Attic Ventilation Important?

Does your room feel chilly this winter, despite having the heat on? The problem may not be your heating system, it may actually be improper ventilation in your attic.

Attics are probably one of the most overlooked spaces in your home. Having a stable ventilation system in place provide year-round benefits such as cooler attics in summer and drier attics in winter, helping reduce energy consumption, helping to prevent ice dams, and less overall damage to the home’s structure.

There are a number of issues that can occur in your home if you don’t have proper ventilation.  In the summer, the air can cause the attic to reach temperatures of 140ºF on a 90º F day. The heat and moisture can cause damage to the roof decking and roofing shingles, which can cause deterioration. In the winter, heat can also escape from living spaces, causing appliances to work harder. In turn, your energy bill will be higher.

Ventilation works by creating a very specific type of air movement.  Air movement can be created either by natural (stack and wind effect) or by mechanical ventilation.  Mechanical ventilation, like fans and HVAC systems, relies on a power source. The system parts must be the correct size and positioned properly to prove constant airflow .

The stack effect occurs because hot air is lighter than cold air, so it rises. The air pressure in the upper parts of the attic increases, and the air pressure in the lower parts decreases. The exhaust vents are strategically placed near the ridge; the highest points in the attic, and intake vents are placed at the roof edge; the lowest points in the attic.

The wind effect works by having a wind-driven flow of air against and over a building’s exterior surface, creating areas of high and low pressure. High pressure causes air into the attic and low pressure pulls air out. A well-designed system requires the balance between both of these systems, and the correct placement of intake and exhaust vents to cycle unobstructed air flow throughout the attic.

We would be happy to help make sure your home isn’t wasting energy this winter by doing a free attic ventilation inspection.  Contact us at 888.665.3259 for an appointment today.

 

Five Ways to Improve Your Basement

Do you have an unfinished basement, but no plans on what to do with it? Here are some great tips to start toward creating more living space in your home, for little or no money.

1. Stop Playing “What’s That Smell?”

If you’ve been putting off examining your basement for musty or moldy odors, now is the time to take care of it. Get rid of areas of water or dampness in your basement by cleaning up standing water. Identify where cracks, holes, and leaks are, and call us to help you eliminate water and mold problems.

2. Designate and Delegate!

The hardest thing to do is to part with things you love. But once started, you’ll find that you’re loving the amount of room you have to work with even more! Separate items into four categories, Keep, Toss, Donate and Sell. Keep things that are meaningful and have a purpose in the new room. Toss broken or damaged items that can’t be repaired. Donate things you or your family have outgrown, like clothing and toys. Sell things in a town-wide yard sale, or online. Soon you’ll be on your way to a fabulous new space!

3. Light It Up

Since basements don’t get a lot of natural light, brighten things up with higher wattage bulbs. It’ll make the space less spooky, more functional, and help show off all the work you’ve done.

4. Plant One On Me

Think that plants won’t thrive in a basement? There are plenty of low-light house plants that can. Try a Chinese Evergreen or a Dieffenbachia, or visit your local garden center for more ideas. Adding plants to any room in your home can help with humidity and oxygen levels – and contribute to a healthier home.

5. Curtains and Throw Rugs and Paintings, Oh My!

Once you have a clean, dry, safe, and well-organized basement, there’s a lot you can do to incrementally improve the aesthetics. Consider differentiating work areas with paint colors and designs, using salvaged vintage doors to create a unique folding room divider, or just “shopping your home” to find accessories that will fit your new space.

The best part of revitalizing your new space is that you don’t have to do it all at once. With some clever ideas, sweat equity, and patience, you can create a much more comfortable and functional space ― without burying your budget.