Surface Sampling in Attics

We get quite a few calls per week with customers claiming to have mold in their attics.  While some do, other attics have nothing more than “Suspect Areas” of concern and we always recommend testing.  The proper testing for such a situation is surface sampling.  This is a direct lift of the suspect area which is then sent to a lab to be tested for mold.  The reason this is so important is because attics tend to look like they have mold, but may just be dirty, discolored, etc.  Competitors of ours will claim anything that any discoloration they see is mold and try to start the work immediately, but with attics being one of the highest costs of remediation in the mold business, spending a small fee to insure what is in your attic is truly mold is money well spent.  So, when having your attic inspected, if it’s not clearly evident that you do have mold, then having surface sampling will be something that takes the guess work completely out.

What is a Pollen Count?

The pollen count tells us how many grains of plant pollen were in a certain amount of air (often one cubic meter) during a set period of time (usually 24 hours). Pollen is a very fine powder released by trees, weeds and grasses. It is carried to another plant of the same kind, to fertilize the forerunner of new seeds. This is called pollination. The pollen of some plants is carried from plant to plant by bees and other insects. These plants usually have brightly colored flowers and sweet scents to attract insects. They seldom cause allergic reactions. Other plants rely on the wind to carry pollen from plant to plant. These plants have small, drab flowers and little scent. These are the plants that cause most allergic reactions, or hay fever.

When conditions are right, a plant starts to pollinate. Weather affects how much pollen is carried in the air each year, but it has less effect on when pollination occurs. As a rule, weeds pollinate in late summer and fall. The weed that causes 75 percent of all hay fever is ragweed which has numerous species. One ragweed plant is estimated to produce up to 1 billion pollen grains. Other weeds that cause allergic reactions are cocklebur, lamb’s quarters, plantain, pigweed, tumbleweed or Russian thistle and sagebrush.

  • Trees pollinate in late winter and spring.Ash, beech, birch, cedar, cottonwood, box, elder, elm, hickory, maple and oak pollen can trigger allergies.
  • Grasses pollinate in late spring and summer.Those that cause allergic reactions include Kentucky bluegrass, timothy, Johnson, Bermuda, redtop, orchard, rye and sweet vernal grasses.

Much pollen is released early in the morning, shortly after dawn. This results in high counts near the source plants. Pollen travels best on warm, dry, breezy days and peaks in urban areas midday. Pollen counts are lowest during chilly, wet periods.

Plumbing Issues – Part 5

In our last part of our Plumbing Issues Series, we’ve included a photo showing water damage to a living room ceiling due to leaky pipes under a sink.  The customer placed a bucket and a couple of rags to catch the slow drip from the water line under the bathroom sink.  When he wasn’t home, the pipe opened up and flooded the ceiling.  This caused ceiling, wall and carpet loss, all because the repairs weren’t made in a timely fashion.  In conclusion, when you have identified a leak in your plumbing, call a professional if you aren’t capable of fixing it properly.  Otherwise, this can happen to you.DSCN1703

Plumbing Issues – Part 4

Low Water Pressure

Usually, poor water pressure is caused by clogged pipes. But if you’ve already replaced them or have a newer house with new pipes, try the obvious first. Make sure the shutoff valves near the water meter are fully open. Sounds basic, but plumbers still have to charge for a service call to simply turn a valve handle. Then check the water pressure. If your house is on city water, ask your local water department for a pressure reading. A reading of 45 to 55 psi is ideal.

Or test the water pressure yourself with a pressure gauge (sold at home centers). Hook up the gauge to an outside water spigot, turn on the water, and you’ll get an instant reading. If the reading is low, the city may be delivering water at a low pressure (less than 40 psi). If the city isn’t likely to boost the pressure, consider installing a water pressure booster system, starting at $300 at a home center or plumbing store, or online. Any setting over 80 psi will wear out the washers on your plumbing fixtures. The system we show is only made to fit 1-in. pipe. If you install it yourself, apply for a plumbing permit so your work will be inspected. Some municipalities require a reduced pressure and backflow preventer to be installed when a water pressure booster is hooked up.

Plumbing Issues – Part 3

Running Toilet

This is a very common and annoying plumbing problem that can quickly cost you money. Luckily a running toilet is also easy to fix on your own. Toilets typically run when the flapper valve that lets water pass from the tank to the bowl no longer fits properly, the float is imbalanced or the fill tube comes loose. Toilet repair kits work for most models and require little effort to install.  Occasionally, though, toilets run for more complex reasons. If you’ve replaced the flapper, float apparatus and fill tube, you may have sediment that’s affecting proper flushing and filling. Higher water bills could also indicate a silent leak. To detect a silent leak in your toilet, add a few drops of food coloring to the upper tank and wait 15 to 20 minutes. Look in the bowl for any hint of color; if you see tinted water, your flapper valve isn’t working as it should.  If all else fails or you do feel confident in taking on such a task, then call a plumber to repair the toilet before it turns into a major loss.