1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

September 19, 2008

:263 Moisture Meters

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:263 EcoTip: Moisture meters typically measure the conductivity of a material. Wet materials are more conductive than dry materials. Whereas your hand can only feel moisture that is present on the surface, these meters usually measure to a depth of half and inch or more. If the wood or material is still wet below the surface – the moisture will migrate into the new building materials and potentially damage them. Insurance typically won’t pay for replacing materials twice after a water damage – so it is important to do it right the first time. Of course that assumes you have flood insurance (:177). Most homeowners policies exclude flooding.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :177, :256, :257, :258, :259, :260, :261, :262

This is the eighth in a series of EcoTips about protecting oneself when remodeling and working around buildings when participating in disaster recovery such as occurred with hurricane Katrina and is going on now with Ike. This information is timely since 2008 is the most active hurricane season since 2005 and many buildings are being damaged.

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September 18, 2008

:262 Clean and Dry

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:262 EcoTip: Before reconstruction after flooding can begin – it is critical that the indoor environment be clean and dry. If its not clean there can be organic material that results in odor problems or bacteria. If its not dry mold can develop and materials may degrade. You can’t tell if many types of construction materials are dry by touch – it is important to confirm they are dry using a moisture meter.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :256, :257, :258, :259, :260, :261,

This is the seventh in a series of EcoTips about protecting oneself when remodeling and working around buildings when participating in disaster recovery such as occurred with hurricane Katrina and is going on now with Ike. This information is timely since 2008 is the most active hurricane season since 2005 and many buildings are being damaged.

The following is from my book Extreme Weather Hits Home. I am discussing the reconstruction process in Key West Florida after hurricane Wilma in 2005:

Storm surge-damaged gypsum board and insulation can’t be saved, so in most of the buildings I looked at they had been removed shortly after the water damage occurred to allow air drying of the remaining wood framing or concrete block that is commonly used for construction on the island. In those buildings where it had not been removed, the gypsum board was falling apart, full of mold growth, and smelling horribly from the bacteria and dead sea life that hadn’t yet been removed and disinfected.

In the cases where the residents quickly removed and discarded the water-damaged gypsum wallboard, they simply left the wet wood framing in the homes exposed to allow natural air circulation for drying. What I found surprising was that even after three months of air drying the wood framing materials and furring strips had a wood moisture content greater than 30 percent. It became apparent that mechanical drying using dehumidifiers and air circulation would be necessary to get these buildings dry enough for reconstruction. Experience has shown that if the wood surface is exposed to air circulation it is rare for mold to grow even if the center of the wood still has elevated levels of moisture. Fortunately, leaving the walls open and not rushing reconstruction avoids the problem of mold growing.

One of the big problems I observed while in Key West were homes where the gypsum wallboard and insulation had been removed and replaced with new materials while the wood still had these elevated levels of moisture. These homes began to grow mold on the paper of the brand-new gypsum wallboard materials.

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September 16, 2008

:260 Flood Contamination

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:260 EcoTip: When catastrophic disasters such as hurricanes Katrina and Ike hit – there are frequently not enough professional resources available to help. This means people need to become knowledgeable in safely and effectively managing their own recovery.

In my book Extreme Weather Hits Home: Protecting Your Buildings From Climate Change  I discuss ways to recognize potential problems and protect your home – but once disaster has struck information published by the Red Cross is a very good primer. 

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :256, :257, :258, :259

This is the fifth in a series of EcoTips about protecting oneself when remodeling and working around buildings when participating in disaster recovery such as occurred with hurricane Katrina and is going on now with Ike. This information is timely since 2008 is the most active hurricane season since 2005 and many buildings are being damaged.

The Red Cross has posted an excellent booklet for flood recovery. It contains a lot of helpful information. You can view it at http://www.redcross.org/static/file_cont333_lang0_150.pdf

Here’s an excerpt about basements that get flooded:

If your basement is flooded, don’t be in too big a hurry to pump it out. Here’s why. Water in the ground outside your home is pushing hard against the outside of your basement walls. But the water inside your basement is pushing right back.

If you drain your basement too quickly, the pressure outside the walls will be greater than the pressure inside the walls—and that may make the walls and floor crack and collapse, causing serious damage. To avoid this situation, follow these steps when you pump the water out of your basement:

Never go into a basement with standing water in it unless you are sure the electricity is off.

After floodwaters are no longer on top of the ground, you can start pumping the water out of the basement. Do not use gasoline-powered pumps or generators indoors because gasoline engines create deadly carbon monoxide exhaust fumes. Pump the water level down two to three feet. Mark the level and wait overnight. Check the water level the next day. When the water stops going back up, pump down another two to three feet and wait overnight. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until all water is pumped out of the basement.

 

CDC and NIOSH also has lots of good information at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/flood/  

 

 

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September 15, 2008

:259 Water Damage Help

Filed under: :259 Water Damage Help — Tags: , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:37 am

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:259 EcoTip: Recovering from flood and water damage generally requires experienced help. Unfortunately when disasters occur there are often offers for help that range from well meaning, but uninformed to some that are downright shady. The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification offers advice and certification for companies that provide these services.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :256, :257, :258

This is the fourth in a series of EcoTips about protecting oneself when remodeling and working around buildings when participating in disaster recovery such as occurred with hurricane Katrina and is going on now with Ike. This information is timely since 2008 is the most active hurricane season since 2005 and many buildings are being damaged.

From the IICRC web-site:

To make sure you hire certified, trained professionals, the “Industry Guardians” at the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) invite you to visit http://www.certifiedcleaners.org/ or call 1-800-835-4624 to locate qualified experts to handle your cleaning needs.

The IICRC is a nationally accredited, non-profit certification body that works to protect consumers from deceptive and unreliable companies in the cleaning, restoration and inspection industry. IICRC-Certified Firms and Technicians must meet the highest industry standards to maintain their good standing.

IICRC offers water and flood damage tips at http://www.certifiedcleaners.org/ts_tips_advice.shtml you can use their directory search to help find a certified firm. 

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June 25, 2008

:177 FloodSmart

Filed under: :177 FloodSmart — Tags: , , , , , , — John Banta @ 8:55 am

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:176 EcoTip:  FloodSmart is the official web-site of the National Flood Insurance Program. Enter your address at their site to find out what this government program considers your home’s flood risk to be.

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 Additional Information:

According to FloodSmart :

  • Floods and flash floods happen in all 50 states.
  • Everyone lives in a flood zone.
  • Most homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage.
  • If you live in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) or high-risk area and have a Federally backed mortgage, your mortgage lender requires you to have flood insurance. (To find your flood risk, fill out the Flood Risk Profile to the left.)
  • Just an inch of water can cause costly damage to your property.
  • Flash floods often bring walls of water 10 to 20 feet high.
  • A car can easily be carried away by just two feet of floodwater.
  • Hurricanes, winter storms and snowmelt are common (but often overlooked) causes of flooding.
  • New land development can increase flood risk, especially if the construction changes natural runoff paths.
  • Federal disaster assistance is usually a loan that must be paid back with interest. For a $50,000 loan at 4% interest, your monthly payment would be around $240 a month ($2,880 a year) for 30 years. Compare that to a $100,000 flood insurance premium, which is about $400 a year ($33 a month).
  • If you live in a low-to-moderate risk area and are eligible for the Preferred Risk Policy, your flood insurance premium may be as low as $119 a year, including coverage for your property’s contents.
  • You are eligible to purchase flood insurance as long as your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program. Check the Community Status Bookto see if your community is already an NFIP partner.
  • It takes 30 days after purchase for a policy to take effect, so it’s important to buy insurance before the floodwaters start to rise.
  • Your home has a 26% chance of being damaged by a flood during the course of a 30-year mortgage, compared to a 9% chance of fire.
  • Last year, one-third of all claims paid by the NFIP were for policies in low-risk communities.
  • The average annual U.S. flood losses in the past 10 years (1994-2004) were more than $2.4 billion.
  • When your community participates in the Community Rating System (CRS), you can qualify for an insurance premium discount of up to 45%. Read more about CRS Ratings.
  • The NFIP awarded over $16 billion in flood claims in 2005.
  • Since 1978, the NFIP has paid $31.4 billion for flood insurance claims and related costs (as of 3/31/06).
  • Over 5 million people currently hold flood insurance policies in more than 20,200 communities across the U.S.

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April 8, 2008

:099 Weak Garages

Suggested Review – :098

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:099 EcoTip:  The attached garage is usually one of the weakest parts of a home. This is because the large garage door is poorly supported in comparison to other areas of the house. When strong winds, tornados, hurricanes, floods or earthquakes hit the unsupported garage door, the weakness makes it easier for the walls to collapse. The garage roof falls and can pull the roof for the rest of the home along with it.

Tomorrow I will discuss bracing garages for greater duribility

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Additional Information

The information in this post has been taken from my new book – Extreme Weather Hits Home.

Extreme Weather Hits Home, Protecting Your Buildings From Climate Change

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February 7, 2008

:038 Emergency Weather Radio

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Source: http://www.weatherradiostore.com/

1:5:10:038 Tip: Purchase a NOAA Emergency Weather Alert Radio.

There are many types of extreme weather emergencies that are being monitored by NOAA with emergency broadcast alerts. An emergency weather radio silently monitors these broadcasts and can be set to automatically come on when an alert is issued in your area allowing your family to brace for the recognized extreme weather event.

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Additional Information

A wide variety of emergency weather alert radios are available from http://www.weatherradiostore.com/ for under $50.00

A note from John Banta: I had originally planned to post this 1:5:10:365 tip on February 26 prior to tornado season beginning, but decided to post early due to the recent spate of tornado deaths in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Kentucky. Most of the deaths were in rural areas that did not have community sirens. Emergency Weather Radios save lives by making sure that you are wakened and alerted when emergency events are occurring in your vicinity.

Extreme Weather Events appear to be occurring more frequently, intensely and earlier each year. A February tornado has been a rare event in the past, but the monitored weather conditions were such that NOAA was able to predict the increased tornado activity six days in advance, and pinpoint the areas that were hit to provide a few minutes to get to a safer area and not be caught by surprise.

My new book Extreme Weather Hits Home is about preparing our dwellings to better withstand and recover from the extreme weather conditions that are becoming more prevalent.

If you find these 1:5:10:365 Tips helpful –  please tell your friends, and ask your local bookseller and library to get my book.

ewhhsmallcover.jpg

www.extremeweatherhitshome.com

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January 10, 2008

:010 Water Damage

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip.

1:5:10:010 Tip: There are many ways that buildings can become water damaged. Few situations will ever be as extreme as when levees broke after hurricane Katrina.

When water damage does occur it is important to get a specialist in water damage involved as quickly as possible to help return the building to a safe and habitable condition and prevent mold growth. Just because materials feel dry to the touch doesn’t mean they are. Moisture meter measurements are the only way to be sure of what is going on below the surface. The time to learn what to do when a pipe breaks or a tree-limb comes crashing through the roof during a rain storm is – before it happens! Of course prevention is best, but accidents still happen.

FEMA tells us that a quarter of buildings that get flooded from disasters are located in areas that were not deemed to be prone to flooding. So if you don’t know what to do when water strikes, you should spend another 5 minutes reviewing some basic information below.

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New Orleans after Katrina, credit: Jocelyn Augustino –  FEMA

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Additional Information

The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification www.iicrc.org is the place to go for flood damage restoration company referrals. They have tips for minimizing post flood damage at http://www.certifiedcleaners.org/water_damage.shtml

http://www.certifiedcleaners.org/ts_storm-damage-restoration.shtml

http://www.certifiedcleaners.org/ts_flood_damage.shtml

Listed companies must promise to abide by the IICRC’s code of ethics and be insured.

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You can read more information about preparing and protecting your home from floods and other extreme weather events in my new book Extreme Weather Hits Home Protecting Your Buildings From Climate Change. Published by New Society Publications. www.extremeweatherhitshome.com

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