Steps for Successful Environmental Cleanup
1. Assess 2. Repair 3. Clear 4. Monitor
A clear plan developed from our interview with you, the site inspection and testing will result in a clear, concise Scope of Work.
Planning will save you money. With a clear, understandable Scope of Work you can request quotes for the necessary work and receive bids on only the requested work. Then your choice of environmental contractors becomes a lot simpler.
After the job is complete, get a clearance test with documentation. Read your quote carefully to see if your contractor pays for clearance retesting if an area fails.
Long term monitoring of the humidity is highly recommended.
Of the Steps for Successful Environmental Cleanup, ASSESS is the most important. You need to know the complete problem to successfully plan the repairs.
The source of mold growth is always water, including high humidity, in inside areas where it doesn’t belong.
With professional tools and experience the sources can be pinpointed, photographed, and included in your draft and final reports.
It is critical that ALL sources where water or high humidity are occurring are identified.
Our written reports will include the areas of water intrusions. This makes it easier for contractors to repair and confirm all water leaks are repaired. High humidity can be controlled through ventilation; such as kitchen and bath exhaust vents and opening windows. Commercial buildings can control humidity through the HVAC systems.
Residence should begin with a humidity gauge. Any area that has humidity higher than approximately 52%RH needs corrective action, i.e. turning on exhaust vents and opening doors and windows.
Take a good look around the areas of elevated humidity and suspected water leaks; especially above the baseboards and where the ceiling meets the walls. If you see discoloration, peeling or bubbling paint, you need a professional mold inspection with cleanup instructions. The mold removal Standard IICRC S520 Standard is highly recommended.
Before your mold remediation begins, confirm through testing if asbestos or lead are present if the building was build before 1978 in San Francisco for lead and 1981 for asbestos.
As soon as possible you need to stop the plumbing leak. Notify the facilities manager, landlord, or property manager immediately. If this is not appropriate, then call a plumber and an Environmental Contractor that will remove the water and start the drying process. If this begins in 24-48 hours after the spill, mold growth may be significantly reduced.
Get people and pets out of the area and barricade the area of the spill going two feet past any visible water/sewage.
Get a professional sewage abatement contractor who will also have drying equipment to begin as soon as possible.
If you can begin drying within 24 hours of a water spill the chances of mold growth are greatly reduced. Important: your abatement contractor must test for dryness before removing drying equipment, unless all wet/damp materials are completely removed. The IICRC S500 Standard is recommended. Professional assessment is recommended as early in this process as possible
Is asbestos the primary contaminant?
Before your asbestos abatement begins, know what building materials contain asbestos fibers and the square footages of each area. If your project is less than 100 sq. ft., the ACM (asbestos containing material) can be discarded as residential trash. If there is more than 100 sq. ft. all ACM must go to a toxic dump site. Your asbestos abatement contractor can advise you.
All bearing walls and other interior structural areas that will be removed require an asbestos inspection regardless of the build date.
A permit is needed for removal of more that 100 sq. ft. and/or a bearing wall from the BAAQMD. Permits may also be required for your job from the local building department. Here’s the link for the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection permit tracking.
Be sure you get a copy of the Bill of Lading that transported the material to the toxic waste site, per EPA rule. The property from which the asbestos was removed is responsible for the maintenance for the asbestos put in a toxic site forever. This rule is referred to as “cradle to grave”.
For most building permits a professional inspection with testing from a licensed inspector is required.
The SFDBI will usually require a J-card (asbestos inspection and testing by a licensed professional) before a building permit is issued.
Is lead the primary contaminant?
Lead dust can be removed by cleaning with damp cloths. The cloths are discarded after a single use.
It’s critical that all occupants stay out of a lead containment. I know it’s inconvenient. I know the machines are loud. But if you allow occupants inside the containment before lead clearance, there is a strong change your job will fail the clearance testing. This means the lead abatement contractor comes back and redoes the job, including an expensive change order.
For the sake of the children, stay out of a lead containment.
Even with a lead NOV from the City, we often find lead identified where no lead is present. We always recommend lead testing to determine the complete areas that contain lead; the NOV may not be completely accurate. A professional assessment is recommended.
Are VOCs or Formaldehyde the primary contaminant?
Depending upon the situation, VOC or Formaldehyde abatement is done using heat or encapsulation.
The heat treatment is not turning up the HVAC. The chemical off-gassing needs to be filtered and exhausted from the building. Heat treatment, when done correctly, is a complex process with the interior temperature measured and logged.
Professional assessment is critical in getting this level of job successfully completed.
The second step for Successful Environmental Cleanup, is choosing an experienced, licensed, and insured environmental cleanup company for REPAIR will go a long way in your project’s success.
The initial assessment with cleanup recommendation will outline the Scope of the Work that needs to be done. A clear and complete Scope of Work allows you to get multiple quotes from environmental contractors. Those environmental contractors will give you bid for the same work on the same project.
If you choose an environmental contractor can perform removal of all contaminates identified, such as toxic mold, asbestos, and lead-based paint, without subcontractors, your job will probably go much smoother and quicker.
If you have concerns or questions throughout the repair (abatement or remediation) process, give us a call. We’re here to help!
Always have a written contract that include milestone payments.
Always check licenses and insurance.
Time is of the essence, so don’t accept a low bid that is for next month. Your problem will grow while you are waiting and that will cost you money.
CLEAR a Successful Environmental Cleanup at the end of your project and before any reconstruction begins.
Contaminants can’t be seen – that’s why we test. An onsite inspection is important to confirm the removal of contaminated building materials as well as sealing the envelope of the building where removal was performed. This is an expensive and sometimes, frustratingly long, process. So, let’s get it right the first time, so you get your life back.
Always get clearance testing from an independent consultant that has no financial interest in having your job pass or fail.
Keep your family safe – use a competent, independent consultant.
If you’re a landlord, use an experienced independent consultant that can stand up for you in court if the situation arises. If you don’t have successful clearance on your environmental jobs, the occupants may become sick and/or loose their possessions. Then it gets messy and no one wins.
To maintain a Successful Environmental Cleanup, MONITOR will alert you so corrective action begins before it becomes a much larger problem.
It may be as simple as weatherproofing a door to your garage so TVOCs don’t come into your living space; or turning on an exhaust fan when the humidity becomes too high. These simple things can go a long way in maintaining a healthy environment.
Whether you spend $25 on a humidity monitor from Amazon or more for a more sophisticated monitory like the uHoo, USE IT. You will have a warning when your environment becomes compromised. The sooner you know and can take action, the less time and money fixing the problem will be.