Update October 15, 2017 - from the Houston Chronicle -
Last debris pickup will be November 3, 2017. All items must be on curbside.
Also, residents in unincorporated Harris County MUST obtain rebuild permits. Call 713-274-3880.
Update October 12 - had a long chat with our remediation specialist, Anthony Cruz of Avantaclean (281-644-9560) about duct cleaning. He recommended that people should watch the video produced by the association who governs duct cleaning. It covers the basics of duct cleaning. Also the EPA is an excellent resource
The main reason we are recommending this is because those whose home have "failed" to have clean air and receive the certificate, can consider cleaning the ducts and changing out the return plenum liner at the end of the work.
Once we have certified that the walls have no visible mold growth and have tested - and yet the air tests don't come back good, then we must consider that the spores or growth in the a/c. Please follow this link to learn how to avoid ripoff duct cleaners - recommend reading the FAQ
UPDATE October 11 - we went into two homes today - both made the SAME mistake!!! The lower walls have a black polyethelene wrap over the wood substrate (OSB). THIS MUST BE CUT so that the wood can dry. If this is you - it has been too many days that the wood has been covered - it is now rotted and has lost its ability to hold the exterior cladding. Insurance should cover this problem and we can help convince them. Please call us to document this for you, and perform mold testing if desired. Here is what it looks like:
UPDATE October 4 *** we heard today about a guy associated with a roofing company in the Woodlands who is "offering" mold testing for $350.00. He is not licensed and cannot give you the proper certification you will need when selling your house. ***
you can check if somebody is LICENSED by going to vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us to perform a license search. Or TDSHS/mold (license search is on the left column) you don't have to sign in to do this.
!!! HOUSTON STRONG !!!! its not just a slogan - it is YOU
First of all, we have just got to say that we are amazed at everyone we met. Facing financial setbacks/disaster and on a time deadline to get the house to studs because of mold - everyone is AMAZINGLY upbeat and honestly, we are humbled.
We admire and support you do-it-your-selfers who spend all their spare time ripping out sheetrock and anything that can harm themselves or their families...then go to bed, get up the next day to do it all over again.
You have been investigating mold like never before, right? Well...
We are the real deal - licensed, and live here in Spring, Texas, to perform air quality tests and assessments. Rated A+ BBB
We can help you get your home free of mold. We support do-it-your-selfers!!! See updates below.
We provide legitimate Certificates for Mold Damage Remediation, licensed by the State Department of State Health Services
Things to do before an indoor air quality test
1. Make sure your home is as clean as you can get it with HEPA vacuuming, new air filters, and wet wipe-down with warm sudsy water (frequent rinse changes) prior to our visit.
About HEPA vaccuums - We just can't empasize enough the need to use these for the construction dust and mold - yes they are expensive, but worth it! Even shop vacs have them available - insist that your contractor use them - and change them. http://rainbowsystem.com/products/rainbow-system/
shop vac https://www.shopvac.com/us/en/im-looking-for/a-way-to-reduce-my-allergies
2. An hour before we are to arrive, turn off all fans, dehumidifiers and the a/c. We will turn on as needed for testing
3. No work/action should be occurring an hour before our arrival. We do not want the air stirred up. Keep the doors and windows shut.
To schedule an appointmennt:
if you are a new client, our number is 713-249-8581 - due to the number of calls, please text your address and needs to Fernando , who will get back with you within 4-6 hours. Texting is much better than calling. You can help us by texting important info back to us - location (we schedule by location) and address - if flood related - or if any other type of inspection is needed (stucco or TREC), your name and best time to call you back.
Now we are moving into the pre-gypsum re-install. For that you MUST be sure that the wood is completely dry. If you purchased your own meter, particularly if it is the type - make sure you push the pins as far into the wood as you can for accurate reading
For your own sake, time saving products you should force your contractor to use are:
1. HEPA vacuums or filters are available for shop vacs
2. Building containments to segment the house into quadrants using 6-mil polyethelene barriers, taped and sealed around the perimeter. Particularly the upstairs from the downstairs. For entering the area, this is now availabe at Home Depot:
UPDATE: October 2, 2017
We have entered the drying out phase. A few homeowners are already allowing gypsum to be installed on their walls. However, we think that it is too soon. Many contractors and homeownerrs have purchased moisture meters but please realize that the pins just can't read into the doubled and tripled up studs at corners! Those areas need their own dehumidifiers now - and at least another week to dry out.
UPDATE September 24, 2017
HOUSTON STRONG!! So many homeowners have the unenviable job of restoring their homes to normal - without mold - and are doing it RIGHT!
From what we have seen, the homes that fail the air quality test are those that are not cleaned sufficiently. HEPA vacuuming and wet wipedown of horizintal surfaces is necessary.
Also the possiblity of failing is higher when cabinetry or veneer of the first step of stairwells are "saved" in place without enough anti-microbal agent and dehumidification. Areas under cabinets that are not removed need their own dehumifier. Also, double and triple studs are difficult. Keep an eye out for visible mold and attack it!
If you have hired us to come to test, please turn off your fans and dehumidifiers 15 minutes in advance of our visit so that the air can "settle". We will turn off and wait if you cannot/have not done so. This increases your chances of success.
If you have any questions, we are here for you! Please call or text questions to 713-249-8581
Advice for do-it-your-selfers -
09/21/2017 - update. The time has passed for removing cabinets or other items, such as staircase bottoms and door casings (things that hide sheetrock) - "things" with suspected or visible mold growth. To remove these now you must remove attempt to get the mold spores that are released, due to the de-construction - to the outside. This can be done in a simple way by turning off the a/c unit(s) so that you can direct air flow to the outside by use of fans (giant fans or many fans directed to the nearest door or window) during the de-construction. Items removed should be carried outside immediately. t
09/2017 Update: second phase: catching the small stuff and drying, prepare for the dus
1. For the most part what we have seen is excellent work by the do-it-yourselfers. Working against mold growth by spraying with mold inhibiting products and keeping air circulated and dehumidified – it is working.
2. Some areas have gone under-noticed, however.
· Gypsum behind door casings require the casing to be removed (can be cleaned for reinstallation). The first step of a staircase may have many "layers" of wood that just can't be dried without removing much of it.
· Flow-through airing of cabinetry, if you have not torn out cabinetry you remove the toe kick at the base and the gypsum on the adjacent wall behind it. Flow-though is important for drying. Drilling holes for air doesn’t work
· If you are trying to save tearing out your bath wall tile, it depends on how high the water rose and the backing used. If gyp board was used, which can be seen at the entry edges, it cannot be saved – the gyp will lose integrity – removal of the shower tile is recommended. Tile flooring and mud bed do not necessarily need to be removed – this is a case-by-case decision.
· If the water was high enough to reach your air return – you must remove the grate to reach gypsum for removal and change interior duct board. An HVAC tech can assist.
· “Moisture barrier/flashing” on exterior walls, whether it is polyethylene, gyp board or brown board – remove entirely between the studs on perimeter walls.
3. Most people we meet want to rebuild too quickly. Many have their own moisture meters; however, they need to understand that each meter has its own scale. We use Delmhorst BD2100, considered state of the art. It is much better to wait – to not wait invites a mold smell.
4. The areas that are toughest to dry – tripled up studs and wood joining wood and underneath cabinetry – should have their own dehumidifiers.
5. For those with two stories – you should create a barrier between the first and second floor to keep the airs from intermingling (and reconstruction dust). An entry into the area can be as simple as a 6-mil polyethylene “sheet”, taped and stapled on the ceiling and walls, to allow no air flow between zones. Then cut down the center and add an “opening” flap, taped at the top, to allow entry. (Zippered openings can be used also, available at Sherwin-Williams, however, these can be trip hazards). Overlooks should be sealed off also.
6. After complete drying has occurred, rebuild can begin. The containment discussed above can be a work-saver, keeping construction dust isolated to the ground floor. This can also be done per room.
7. Note that you must continue to change air filters in the downstairs every day if cheap enough, however recommend MERV 8, if possible.
8. Since this was a blackwater flood, you should take care to wear masks and gloves (and goggles); ask your doctor if there are any shots to protect your health, no sense risking your health just before your life gets orderly again!
9. A HEPA vacuum is a MUST. High-efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) vacuum and/or bags do not allow spewing of intake to re-enter the air. They are not expensive. We own one from Sears for $295.00 It is the bags that are expensive. These capture dust and spores and hold them. Use this to clean up sheetrock dust prior to any wet-wipe down or you will create a hard to clean mess.
10. Until reinstallation of sheetrock is complete (tape, floating, sanding) there is no sense in cleaning. After the above is complete, however, it will be essential to clean from the top down, room by room, using warm sudsy water (changing rinse water frequently). This captures mold spore that fly easily though the rooms and land on both horizontal and vertical surfaces.
11. If there is an area that was forgotten (such as shower tear out), removal of the shower or cabinet, or whatever, at this stage can be made by turning off all fans and a/c in the downstairs until work is complete. Use the fans to direct dust and mold to the nearest door leading to the outside. After dust has settled (overnight), and walls have been sprayed with a mold product, turn the fans and dehumidifiers on to resume drying. Change filter to a/c more frequently.
12. Don’t forget to replace, depending on submersion water damage - outlets, spa motors, garbage disposers, water heaters, a/c compressors
Beginning phase one:
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP PREVENT MOLD IN YOUR HOME
1. As soon as possible go out and purchase dehumidifiers, box fans, Clorox bleach or vinegar, rubber gloves, N95 dust masks (or better quality, if you know you are allergic to mold) and heavy duty garbage bags and tarps. Photograph all belongings
2. Next step is to remove all wet objects from your home. Wearing a mask and gloves, sort items that you want to keep and clean / throw away (throw them into garbage bags and put out for trash). This includes gypsum (cut 2' beyond the water line) and baseboards. Carpets and pads must be thrown away, as should mattresses. Anything that can fit into a clotheswasher should be washed and dried, then stored in labeled garbage bags.
3. Items to be cleaned can be put out to dry in the sun until you have time to clean them with warm sudsy water. Cover with tarps if rain threatens. Heirlooms may need professional services.
4. Cabinetry and door frames do not have to be removed / thrown away - it is , but the walls that they are attached to must be opened from behind to facilitate drying time. Remove gypsum from the wall behind. Opening of walls will help dry them out. Drill holes in the baseplates to allow air flow. Set up air blowers, fans and dehumidifiers This stage we are still trying to PREVENT mold growth.
5. For ease of repair, doors should be removed to the outside to allow to dry in the sun for future cleaning (cover with tarps if rain threatens).
6. Use a mixture of 70% water and 30% bleach blot or wash all surfaces that have been in water or have mold. Vinegar alone also works.
7. The a/c unit should not be running if mold growth is visible in the home, as spores will be pulled into it and strewn throughout the house. If you were able to remove wet items and there is no visible mold growth, go ahead and run the a/c to help with humidity.
If mold growth begins, you may need our professional advice. Please feel to call us at 713-249-8581.
Note that neighborhoods with several feet water also likley have sewage (e-coli), which will require more careful handling of items - use of proper personal protective equipment (gloves, masks, Tyvek suits) may be requiried. When E-coli dries it is no longer hazardous. Mold, on the other hand, becomes dormant and can still be allergic.
WHAT WE CAN DO FOR YOU
- Invasive stucco inspection
- General home inspection
- Mold Inspection, testing and document for remediation
- E-coli testing (must have notice to procure proper testing agar
- Expert witness for construction defects or mold
- Arbitration between contractor and homeowner (prior to or with attorney involvement)
10 reasons why are WE are #1 HOME INSPECTORS in Houston
And there's more..
- Experienced - Fernando Martinez is licensed TREC Professional Inspector, Certified ICC Code, Licensed Mold Assessment Consultant and expert witness
- State-of-the-Art equipment * re-calibrated professionally regularly. Infra-red certified and used on every job (included in price)
- Stucco inspection team with on-site determination of repairs needed which will be reflected in the report. Turn-key oversight for stucco replacement/repair is available.
- Quick turnaround time on structural, mechanical or stucco reports, early as same day or by noon next morning. Mold results within 24 hours, except Friday - will receive Monday (we use Fedex overnight (included in the price). Note that sometimes Fedex fails to deliver overnight, therefore we cannot guarantee overnight results.
- We appreciate client attendance and participation, unlike many inspectors we love to teach and answer questions we LOVE first time homebuyers!
- In-depth inspection of structural systems including the foundation and roof, if walkable, electrical panel and mechanical/appliances. We recommend other professionals only as needed, for instance, we do not do termite or septic.
- We can offer on-the-spot indoor air quality testing for mold if the need exists. During our inspection, we always look for mold or mold-producing problems and will present you with the facts so you can decide whether to test.
- Fernando is ICC Code certified for brand- new homes or warranty walk-through inspections.
- Fernando is an experienced expert witness, if needed, with references. Eperience with jury trials, depositions, arbitration
- We are fully insured, including workman's comp, E&O and liability and can email the docs upon request
- We have "sample" reports of typical inspections so that you can see how detailed we are.
* We use our infra-camera on every inspection! And not just any old infra-red camera, our B200 is so sensitive that it can detect even the smallest amount of moisture inside walls. Our camera produces a duplicate of the infra-red, useful for court, if needed . Fernando is FLIR certified.
The difference between our camera and other inspector's cameras is that ours cost $10,000! Exquisite sensitivy and duplicate digital/infra-red images show where the problems are located. Most inspectors have a $1,000 camera that just doesn't do the same job. We take pride in our tools - out investment help do a better inspection for YOU. We keep them professionally calibrated for forensic purposes.
Unfortuntely, as opposed to what some inspectors and homebuyers believe, stucco cannot be tested with an infra-red - there is NO substitution for an invasive inspection.
more ....... what we can do for you -
Home Inspections and re-inspections
Depending on the age, size and location of a home we can give you the best home inspection or stucco inspectdion that money can buy. Call Fernando at 713-249-8581. With us you receive a high quality inspection with a great deal of background knowledge that you just can't get with "newbie" inspectors.
Invasive Stucco Inspections (see stucco page for YOUTUBE VIDEOS for procedures and repairs performed)
Indoor Air Quality Testing and Assessment
Smell mold? See visible mold growth? Have allergy issues? We can test your indoor air and any other location that may have water penetration problems (mold must have chronic past or present water to exist). But we do more than just test. An important part of our job is the "Assessment" - a basic inspection in which we are searching every possible avenue of chronic or hidden water peneteration/leaks, which is required for mold growth. Then we send the tests off to our laboratory for professional results - included in the price.
What to do if the tests show elevated mold -
We are licensed to write a document for the removal of mold - called a "Protocol for Remediation", which a licensed mold remediator will need to properly remove the mold from your home. This is an extra cost and will normally require final testing - "clearance testing" - that comes with a certificate showing that the source and the mold have been removed - essential for the resale of your home, and for your security.
What we do: We use a team approach to every inspection, with each member specializing in certain aspects, such as leak detection or structural deficiencies. We go over and above the minimum standards as set forth by the Texas Real Estate Commission.
Our lead inspector ICC certified code expert, Fernando, is ready to consult on code issues.
All three inspectors are licensed Mold Consultants with the Department of State Health.
What we don't do:
- septic systems
- Second and third story roofs may not be accessible, and if so, we will do our utmost to view it from all angles using binoculars.
- We do not perform Spanish tile roof, however, we do carefully inspect the support structure.
- We don't perform mold remediation work
- We don't repair stucco (however, we do have a Turn-key inspecton service that oversees repairs)
How to pay us: we accept checks, cash or credit cards (use Paypal to process any credit card without being a member of Paypal by using the "Buy Now" button on the right. The steps are easy to follow.
713-249-8581 (Fernando's cell) He will return your call if on a job, please leave a specific message. Texting is better than emailing.
Email Us: HOMEINSPECTOR@SWBELL.NET
For inspections of all types, call or text: 713-249-8581 (Fernando) Elissa (713-248-6284) for on-going stucco inspections repair oversight,Wendy (713-249-4267) for questions on reports
today to find out what we can do for you. If emailing us please give us the address or a link to the listing so we can Google it for exact specs and directions. If new property, please include the most recent map or address of an existing building for coordinates.