1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

September 22, 2008

:266 Finding Moisture Pockets

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

1:5:10:266 EcoTip: Thermal imaging using an infrared camera can help identify materials that are wet after flooding or water intrusion. Depending on the nature of the damage – many materials that look dry may in fact be wet. Capillary action and movement of water vapor can cause secondary damage that goes well beyond where the action water flowed. A thermal imaging scan can quickly help identify areas for investigation with a moisture meter. This can help identify pockets of moisture that might otherwise be missed. 

 

Thermal Image of a wet wall courtesy of Restoration Consultants at www.moistureview.com

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :037, :256, :276, :258, :259, :260, :261, :262, :263, :264, :265

This is the eleventh in a series of EcoTips about 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.

 

John Banta with Fluke thermal imaging camera from www.moistureview.com

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September 21, 2008

:265 Preventing Mold

Filed under: :265 Preventing Mold — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:45 am

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

1:5:10:265 EcoTip: There are no magic chemicals or treatments that will prevent mold growth. The secrete is keep it dry.

The victims of hurricane Ike are now being let back into their areas to begin recovery. Unfortunately enough time has passed that mold prevention won’t be possible so a lot of mold remediation will be needed. Just as with every other disaster of this nature – there will be a lot of claims about various treatments and coatings that can be used to prevent future problems. Unfortunately the claims don’t hold up to scrutiny. Health problems have been linked with dampness in buildings. Mold is only one of many issues that develop when buildings are damp. Using a chemical treatment and ignoring the underlying moisture simply doesn’t work. Keeping the environment dry always prevents organisms from growing – so why waste the money on chemical treatments that may introduce their own problems.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :256, :257, :258, :259, :260, :261, :262, :263, :264

This is the tenth 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.

Would you like to receive an email alert for each new 1:5:10:365 EcoTip? Sign up for a Google Alert.

September 20, 2008

:264 Paperless Gypsum Board

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

1:5:10:264 EcoTip: DensArmor Plus is a paperless gypsum board product by US Gypsum that will hold up better to residual levels of moisture better than the gypsum board coated with paper. Its coated with fiberglass – so some care during installation needs to be taken, but when it comes to not providing nutrients for mold – this product may be a good choice. Many people think using green board will protect them from mold growth – but it won’t. I’ve seen plenty of mold growing on the surface of green board.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :256, :257, :258, :259, :260, :261, :262, :263

This is the ninth 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.

Would you like to receive an email alert for each new 1:5:10:365 EcoTip? Sign up for a Google Alert.

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.

Would you like to receive an email alert for each new 1:5:10:365 EcoTip? Sign up for a Google Alert.

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 17, 2008

:261 Physically Removing Mold

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

1:5:10:261 EcoTip: There has been a lot of confusion about using biocide to kill mold after it has grown in buildings. In part this is because there are many chemicals being marketed for mold. The key consideration is the material on which the mold has grown. If you have mold in the bathroom tile grout or other hard non-porous surfaces – then mold cleaners can be effective (although frequently quite toxic). If mold has grown on gypsum wall board, insulation or other porous surfaces – the use of biocide is a waste of time and money, and may make things worse by providing a false sense of security and making the environment more toxic.

For cleaning hard non-porous surfaces with mold – I like H2 Orange2 cleaner. It is hydrogen peroxide based and has a Green Seal certification as an environmentally responsible cleaning product. 

For porous materials they should be physically removed. The IICRC(see EcoTip :259) has published the S520 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remedaition. This is the standard of care for the mold remediation industry.

EPA also has excellent information at www.epa.gov/iaq/molds

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 Additional Information:

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

This is the sixth 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.

According to the EPA in Mold Remedaition in Schools and Commercial Buildings

The purpose of mold remediation is to remove the mold to prevent human exposure and damage to building materials and furnishings. It is necessary to clean up mold contamination, not just to kill the mold. Dead mold is still allergenic, and some dead molds are potentially toxic. The use of a biocide, such as chlorine bleach, is not recommended as a routine practice during mold remediation

 

 

 

 

So why do the Red Cross and FEMA advocate the use of chlorine bleach after flood losses? Its for the bacteria – and that is perfectly appropriate. The problem is people assume it will help with the mold -but as stated above the goal with mold isn’t killing it – its physical removal.

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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 14, 2008

:258 Respirators

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

1:5:10:258 EcoTip: A variety of respirators are available to help protect against breathing harmful gases and particles during disaster recovery. In order for a respirator to be effective it must be used properly. Improper use of respirators can be dangerous. Not everyone is fit to wear tight fitting respirators. In order to pull the air through the cartridges – the wearer must have healthy lungs. Everyone wearing tight fitting respirator should have training, a medical evaluation and fit testing.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :256, :257

This is the third 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.

For more information about worker respiratory protection training go to http://www.restcon.com/training.restcon.com/WRPA/index.php

Would you like to receive an email alert for each new 1:5:10:365 EcoTip? Sign up for a Google Alert.

September 13, 2008

:257 Mold Respiratory Protection

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

1:5:10:257 EcoTip: According to the EPA – the minimum respiratory protection that should be worn when working around or disturbing mold is an N-95 disposable face piece respirator. After hurricane Katrina, CDC found that about one out of three recovery and aid workers were not able to identify what a proper filter type respirator was by looking at pictures. In addition according to a study published in the Journal Emerging Infectious Disease only 24% (129 of 538) wore the N95 respirator devices properly. The most common errors were not tightening the nose clip (71%), incorrectly placing the straps (52%), and wearing the respirator upside down (22%).

For extensive work around mold – EPA recommends more effective respiratory protection – which will be the topic of tomorrow’s post.

 N95 disposable face piece respirator is only effective if worn properly.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :256

This is the second 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.

According to the CDC study:

Of 159 residents interviewed, 82 (51.6%) were male; the overall mean age was 51 years (range: 18–81 years). Nearly all (96.2%) residents responded affirmatively to the question, “Do you think mold can make people sick?” One hundred eight (67.9%) correctly identified particulate-filter respirators as appropriate respiratory protection for cleaning of mold. Sixty-seven (42.1%) had cleaned up mold; of these, 46 (68.7%) did not always use appropriate respirators.

Basic mold awareness training and training regarding cleaning small areas of mold is available on-line at http://www.restcon.com/training.restcon.com/MAT/index.php

On-line respirator training is available at http://www.restcon.com/training.restcon.com/WRPA/index.php

Would you like to receive an email alert for each new 1:5:10:365 EcoTip? Sign up for a Google Alert.

September 12, 2008

:256 Mold and Water Damage

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

1:5:10:256 EcoTip: With the United States being pummeled by more hurricanes this year than since 2005 – the year of Katrina – it is time to look at some of the lessons learned. A January 20, 2006 CDC report examined the knowledge recovery workers had regarding personal protective equipment and mold. The paper cites evidence that exposure to mold and damp buildings can have adverse health complications.

Over the next several days my tips will focus on this and other lessons learned from Katrina that can be used during any construction activities whether it be due to catastrophic damage such as from tornadoes or hurricanes or a routine home upgrade or repair.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review:

This is the first 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.

According to CDC:

In 2004, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) reviewed the literature regarding health outcomes related to damp indoor spaces (4). In addition to the risk for opportunistic fungal infections in immunocompromised persons, IOM found sufficient evidence for an association between both damp indoor spaces and mold and upper respiratory symptoms (nasal congestion and throat irritation) and lower respiratory symptoms (cough, wheeze, and exacerbation of asthma).

Basic mold awareness training and training regarding cleaning small areas of mold is available on-line at http://www.restcon.com/training.restcon.com/MAT/index.php

For more information about how to protect your home – check out my book – Extreme Weather Hits Home

Would you like to receive an email alert for each new 1:5:10:365 EcoTip? Sign up for a Google Alert.

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