Curren Environmental Blog

Home Inspector finds "Mold Like Substance" Do you get a Mold Inspection?

Posted by Tiffany Byrne on Jun 21, 2017 9:35:00 AM

A Home Inspector finds a “Mold like Substance”,

What Should You Do Now?

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Curren receives many calls where the home inspection report flags a fungal like growth, possible Mold like substance, black mold and evaluation by a licensed a qualified Mold company is recommended” sometimes the home inspector adds the following “Mold is due to high moisture levels” or “a Mold inspection is recommended due to a possible allergic reaction”.  In the state of New Jersey Home Inspectors are not licensed to inspect for Mold, they can state “fungal like growth” “Mold like substance” and recommend further evaluation.  This is where Curren Environmental offers their expertise on the Mold Inspections and Mold Remediation.

When a Home Inspector finds Mold and recommends a further evaluation what should the realtor and buyer/seller do?  First, is suspect mold is found in an unfinished attic, basement or crawl space, understand these are the most common areas for growth as these spaces are unconditioned.  By unconditioned I mean not heated or cooled by a HVAC system.  Mold likes to grow at temperatures and moisture (humidity) levels humans do not.  If you find yourself holding a home inspection you should contact an environmental company that has been in business for a long time (over 10-20 years) not one with PO Box # with an address and one that doesn’t just work with Mold and is not into restoration. 

On the further evaluation on the “Mold like substance”.  If the Home Inspector sends a detailed report to the buyer/seller with photos than that document can be emailed to the Mold Inspector.  Better inspectors photo document and detail where, most home inspectors do not list the mold location in great detail.  When photos are available, often times a qualified mold consultant can determine the complaint room and if Mold is present.  Curren Environmental typically will visit the property in question, do a walking inspection, check for any ways of water entry and get measurements of complaint room to provide a scope of work involved and a detailed quote to remediate without testing (Again EPA does not recommend testing if Mold is visibly present). During this type of transaction the buyer usually is the one who has the home inspection and would like the Mold remediation.  This Mold Remediation scope and quote is given to the seller who in turn either gets the remediation done or the price is worked into the cost of the house and the buyer gets the Mold remediation done after the purchase of the home.

 It is safest to get the mold work done before you buy, in the event that additional mold is found, say behind a wall or above a sheetrock ceiling. After any mold remediation is performed, we provide a detailed checklist with how to remain moisture free (ex. Adding gutters, leading water away from the dwelling, closing cracks in the foundation. Etc)

In most cases Mold takes years to grow, especially in older homes.  If a qualified Home Inspector provides a detailed report there typically is no need to test the Mold unless the seller wants to contest that what was found is actually mold.  Again EPA does not recommend testing when obvious Mold growth is present. The only reason to test for Mold is if the buyer really wants to know what type of spore it is such as Cladosporium or Stachybotrys or one of the 100’s of thousands of spores.

Now, in the case that there is no visible sign of Mold but the home inspector feels as if there might be a moisture problem and a Mold Inspection should be performed than there should be Mold Testing.  Mold inspections are a safe bet when you are dealing with a house that had undergone rehab, a flipper is involved or in general the house has been improved specifically for sale.  From years of experience it is these homes where we find mold.  Since the cosmetic work performed is meant to give the home inside curb appeal, people take short cuts, as we have found the following. 

  1. They may remove mold themselves not following proper procedures and we find high levels of spores in the air. We also find that they don not address the water issue that caused the mold.
  2. Mold gets painted over.
  3. Moldy basements get finished with sheetrock, covering over the mold.
  4. Insulation is placed on moldy ceilings in basements and crawl spaces.
  5. Crawl space openings get sealed over to avoid access for inspection.

This is when Curren Environmental would perform a Thorough Mold Inspection.   When no mold is visible present but there is reason to believe mold is present, inspections look for hidden mold, this is where testing (air) is mandatory as this form of testing is highly reliable in finding hidden mold.

  • Visual Inspection of the outside of the property
  • Visual Inspection of the inside of the property
  • Infrared inspection
    • Moisture reading
    • Check walls for moisture
    • Air testing (one outside and one in complaint rooms)

 

As a realtor or a buyer be very careful in a situation like this.   Mold can be hidden, and hidden well behind those freshly painted walls and newly painted trim. Above that painted ceiling as well.

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Remember, most common areas of a residential property for Mold growth are in areas where moisture is high.  Areas that are cold damp or have a high humidity - such as the attic, crawl space, basement, under the sink, next to the bathtub or in a closet.  Other areas highly likely areas for Mold to grow are around the furnace (might be leaking or wet), near a sump pump or in an area that you haven’t been in a very long time (like that closet in the basement with all those empty Amazon boxes!).

If the Home Inspector requests a further evaluation by a qualified Mold company it’s in your best interest to do so.  In New Jersey there are NO licensed Mold companies, (only 4 states have licensing) go with a referral or again one that has been in business for a many years and is an Environmental company.  

Tags: Mold Testing

Successful Oil Tank Removal - Avoid Tank Problems

Posted by David C Sulock on Jun 6, 2017 9:57:36 AM

Keep in mind that if have an oil tank you need removed, this will most likely be a he only time in your life you will ever have to deal with something like this.  Odds are against you making the best decision regarding removing the underground tank, which is why we have devised this handy tank removal reference guide.   The following information regarding tank removal are a cumulation of 20 years of tank removal experience and speaking to people who had their tank removed and their decision making regret.

Google oil tank leak and you will see some scary web pages. If you are selling a property with a tank and don't you think it's an issue, realize your buyers are reading these pages and they know an oil tank can be an issue.

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 Here are important oil tank removal fact.

  1. Most oil tanks do not leak.
  2. Most oil tanks that leak do not require expensive remediation and can be addressed by testing.
  3. Every state allows a permissible amount of oil to remain in the ground.

Few if any tank removal firms will tell you these facts.

Tank removals while not cheap can cost between $1200.00 and $2,000.00 on average.  Remediation of leaking oil tanks can cost $10,000.00, $16,000.00, $40,000.00 dollars or more.  Do I have your attention?  Many firms will suck you in with a competitive price on tank removal and then whack you with a bill to remediate the leaking oil tank.   Many people call our office after their tank is removed and after they get an outrageous proposal to remediate.   These tank remediation quotes appear on the same day as tank removal or within a few days and are 90% of the time baseless money grabs.  

Google oil tank removal and you will see some slick web pages, not as scary by any means as the tank leak search. These pages have happy people, testimonials and some sales oriented content. You may be swayed by the nice web pages or even that the company is LOCAL.   Local has nothing to do with an oil tank removal, you probably have a few pizza shops close by and one is your favorite.  Proximity to your property is not like a pizza shop, good environmental companies are not known to be as popular as pizza shops.  Contract with these firms and if your tank has any remote evidence of leaking, you will regret your choice of contracting.  Here is why. 

I had no indication that my tank was leaking and the company I hired agreed.

Big, big trouble is brewing in this sentence.  I would hope that no one wishes ill will on anyone, but let us look at an oil tank leak as a possibility based on the following.

Oil tanks do not last forever and on average a tank lifespan is between 20 and 30 years.

Age of tank.   If your oil tank is the original oil tank for the house and it is older than 30 years, well it has outlasted the refrigerator, washer, dryer, roof, ect. It is most likely the oldest replaceable fixture in the dwelling that was NEVER REPLACED.   So can we agree there is a CHANCE the oil tank maybe leaking?  Just a chance.   If your answer is yes, well should a brief conversation occur about the oil tank leak scenario?  If yes, then the what if my oil tank leaks discussion should be written into your oil tank removal contract, so you know what steps will occur in the event of a leak.   Trust me the answer is yes and your proposal like so many we see will not have the language in there and you are setting yourself up for problems. 

 Soil samples.  You do not want them because soil sampling is not required by law, you do not want to test because you do not want to find a problem.  I mean who wants to go to the doctor, you know the doctor is going to find something wrong.  Soil sampling after a tank is removed is 100% important and not sampling is the biggest mistake you can make. 

Remember the google search for oil tank leak?   Well how are you going to certify the tank did not without testing?   Perhaps you think the township will inspect and certify the tank did not leak?  Wrong their job is a construction inspection, remember they are not licensed to remove an oil tank, the company you hired is licensed and they hold the burden to certify the work. 

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How do we certify that a tank did not leak?  

Not by looking at it, believe it or not.  No one knows your cholesterol level without blood work, there are marathon runners that have heart disease, healthy looking people get cancer, my point is looks can be deceiving you cannot look at an oil tank and be 100% certain the tank did or did not leak.   Please do not tell me you will be able to tell if the tank leaked because you are going to look for black oil in the ground, because everyone knows that is how you can tell, WRONG.   The tank is not the Beverly hillbillies, heating oil is not black its dyed red.  (Google it, heating oil is red, no lie).

Back to soil testing, hey if you were buying a house with an oil tank that was removed, wouldn't you want testing completed and a report certifying the tank did not leak?  If you don't care, leave this web page, go play words with friends, understanding the pitfalls of oil tank removal are not your topic of interest. 

Soil testing protects you from unscrupulous tank removal firms that would remove your tank, show you a hole in the tank after removal, show this hole to the construction official, report you to the state and give you a cost to remediate, which is many times more expensive than the tank removal and more profitable for the removal company.

 

Here is the short story of a property where a tank was removed, the tank was found to be leaking and got a quote 

1.Oil tank was removed.

2.Property owner want soil testing.

3. Tank removal company says soil testing is a waste of money.

4. Tank removal company has X-ray vision and can just tell that the tank leak is bad and you need remediation, why test?

5. Owner is told testing is expensive, $5,000.00, true story, owner was told why spend the money to test if you know it leaked?

6. Truth, testing of an oil tank, say a 275 to 550 gallon oil tank would cost under $250.00!  Think that money is worth spending?

7. Owner was given a quote to remediate a day after removal.  

At this step in the tank removal, the ownerr felt something did not add up.  Owner brought in another company to test the removed tank area.   Yes contamination was found, but it was with acceptable standards.  

Success tank removal depends on testing, if you test, you could save thousands in unnecessary oil tank remediation.

If you don't test the soil after a tank is removed, the removal company can quote you an expensive remediation, good for them, not for you.

Why are we posting oil tank removal problems, showing you how to be a better consumer of these services, well we remove tanks but we also help people who had their tank removed and we are repeating their stories for your education.   Unethical tank removal firms give all companies a bad name.   To be frank as well, we get a little tired of hearing the same story over and over again.

 Common compliants after a tank is removed?

My oil tank contract was based on the tank not leaking.  It leaked and I am getting billed alot more than the cost of the removal.

My tank had holes when it was removed and I have to remediate.

My leak was reported to the NJDEP AND NOW I HAVE A CASE NMBER.

The removal company said testing wasn't in my contract so they didn't test.

The removal company said testing was a waste of money and I have to remediate.

Environmental company gives a 10k quote to remediate, my house is under contract for sale and I have to clean up the leak or risk losing the buyer.

 

We have been involved with more projects than I care to count that fits those details. Sit down before I tell you what we find at these sites.

Close to 80% of the time, we find little to no oil in the ground or we find that oil levels are within acceptable levels, meaning no expensive remediation.

The other 20% of the time, well yes, remediation was necessary but sadly, not to the extent they were quoted.

 Do you have questions we didnt answer?   Common oil tank question and answer can be found at Residential Heating Oil Underground Storage Tanks (USTs) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 Want to speak to a live person call up MOnday to FRiday 8:00 am to 5:30 pm Esatern Standard time at 856-858-9509

Tags: NJDEP oil tank removal grant, oil tank removal new jersey, tank removal, tank leak

It's Opening Day for Mosquitoes...

Posted by David C Sulock on May 25, 2017 6:29:28 PM

Memorial Day marks an official start of summer with a three-day weekend and a guaranteed opportunity to be outside. It is also an opening for mosquitoes to feed, and the longer you are outside the more likely this will occur, particularly in the early mornings and evenings. 

In today world where speakers talk back and cell phones allow a constant connection to information, people are becoming less tolerant to inconvenience and mosquitoes tops the list this time of year.    People are becoming more used to hearing about Mosquito Remediation as a service they can rely on to take back their yards.

Mosquito remediation, mosquito extermination or mosquito control are all descriptions on the management of these pests.   Science has allowed us too safely and effectively reduce the mosquito population in a given area by utilizing barrier sprays that help knockdown current populations and lower future population growth.   These sprays are proven to help keep you outside without the bothersome biting.

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Mosquito control (mosquito remediation) barrier sprays outperform the tradition of masking your scent that is attempted with citronella candles, garlic spray, scented oils and flowers meant to ward off mosquitoes.   By applying a barrier to your surroundings as opposed to your person (have you ever read the warning label on DEET containing lotions?) you stop the mosquitoes before they bite.

In today's environment, backyards are considered an extension of the house and people want to be comfortable wherever they are.  The familiar pain and itch after being bitten by a mosquito is an annoying part of being outside and drives many people indoors or even to apply chemicals to their person to ward off mosquitoes.

Mornings and evenings when the temperatures are cooler are those times that mosquitoes come out to pray.   Mosquitoes, due to their size (a whopping 2 millimeters), dislike the heat of the day  (the Asian tiger mosquito is the exception) and stay out of the sun or else they could bake and dry out. Mosquitoes are engineered to reproduce at large quantities, with the female being the only one that actually bites.  Females need blood to lay their eggs, your blood, and the blood from dogs, cats, any blood helps these females reproduce.  These blood meals are also what makes mosquitoes a vector of disease -  as a mosquito will feed off several hosts (you,  your friend, even the friend of the friend you don’t even know) for a blood meal increasing the chance of transmitting disease which each person bitten.How do you combat mosquitoes?  Mosquito control or in the industry mosquito remediation is how you  manage mosquitoes. 

Mosquito remediation, mosquito extermination or mosquito control are all descriptions on the management of these pests.   Science has allowed us too safely and effectively reduce the mosquito population in a given area by utilizing barrier sprays that help knockdown current populations and lower future population growth.   These sprays are proven to help keep you outside without the bothersome biting.                     Shed.jpg

Years of remediation experience has helped Curren Environmental utilize the principals of soil an groundwater remediation to mosquito remediation. Like any successful approach you must apply the solution to appropriately to be effective.  This means applying a micro encapsulated barrier spray (low dose, think teaspoon) insecticide with copious amounts of water applied via a precision misting blower to areas where mosquitoes go and humans do not.  

The secret is in the sauce.  The micro encapsulated formula makes water wetter and allows a broad-spectrum coating to be applied to knockdown mosquitoes and provide long-term (3-week) effectiveness until the next application is performed.

Don’t be scared out of your back yard by mosquitoes this summer season.  Control and knockdown mosquitoes by using mosquito remediation.  Learn more with Curren Environmental and enjoy your yard this memorial day and throughout the summer and into the fall seasons.

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What Can You Do On Earth Day?

Posted by Tiffany Byrne on Apr 21, 2017 8:55:00 AM

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Earth day became a National day from Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin.  Founded in 1970, Senator Nelson was inspired after witnessing the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.  Following the anti-war movement, Senator Nelson thought that he could bring this to colleges across America with campus teach-ins. Working with Pete McCloskey, a Republican Congressman as co-chair they recruited Harvard student Denis Hayes.  Denis Hayes was very interested in what Senator Nelson had in mind for the environment that he directly went to interview Senator Nelson and from the interview, Denis Hayes became the national coordinator building a staff of 85 to promote events, selecting April 22nd as the Earth Day date because it fell between spring break and final exams. 

On April 22nd, 1970 over 20 million Americans were lead to streets, parks and large gatherings to demonstrate the need to for a healthy and sustainable environment. Earth Day received such support from both the Republicans and the Democrats that by the end of the first year (1970) the government created the Environmental Protection Agency, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Acts.  By 1990 Earth day became global with more than 200 million people in over 141 countries involved with environmental issues taking the world stage.  Recycling efforts became more global leading to the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit.  Senator Nelson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995 for his contribution of Earth Day.

Now, Earth day is celebrated by more than a billion people ever year.  What can you do on Earth Day, April 22nd, 2017?

Events in New Jersey, Central PA,  Philadelphia, and check out the EPA for events around the country.

Tank Scans & Tank Sweeps

Posted by David C Sulock on Apr 4, 2017 9:10:00 AM

Oil Tank Sweeps,  Tank Scans, GPR, Groud Penetrating Radar...

The liability associated Underground Heating Oil Tanks (USTs) is fairly well known to most buyers and sellers nowadays, but our office still gets calls regarding why a tank scan should be performed.   We explain that historically home heating oil has been stored in Underground Storage Tanks (UST’s). Homes built in the early 1900’s to around the mid 1990’s are most likey at risk to having a buried oil tank.  When tanks leak, homeowners can face environmental regulations originally written with businesses in mind, not residential homeowners.  Property owners can face cleanup costs in the thousands of dollars, and find their homes difficult to sell, because banks and mortgage loan companies do not make mortgages on properties with abandoned, untested tanks.  Rust never sleeps and Underground Oil Tanks will not last forever.

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The laws are set that when you own a property you own the problem, the courts have ruled that a current residential property owner with a leaking underground storage tank that was decommissioned or "closed" prior to the property’s purchase is now liable for cleanup costs. The residential real estate market must conduct their due diligence to include inquiry regarding underground storage tanks. You buy the property you buy the problem.

 An oil tank sweep is like a home inspection but is specific to one thing, finding an "undisclosed" buried oil tank. Tank sweeps are becoming more common in the real estate sales process.  Today both sellers and buyers are having tank sweeps performed due to the large concern over leaking tanks.  All anyone has to do is google "oil tank leak" and you will find a plethora of scary web pages, photos and horror stories of tanks leaking and the expensive headache filled experience that ensues.

The internet has made everyone more informed regarding topics that were once only known to professionals.   People now know that when you buy a property you buy the good and the bad with a home.   Good school system, check, safe neighborhood, check, oil tank leak and associated cleanup, check.   You buy a property and don't perform due diligence, you are at fault and responsible for imperfections and repairs to a property.

 

So what is a tank sweep?  There are two types with disparate costs and variable results.

First and most basic is a sweep performed with a metal detector.  These sweeps utilize metal detector that can cost only a thousand dollars and yet the charges to perform a tank sweep with a metal detector range anywhere from $50.00 up to $250.00.   Their low cost is based on the low quality of the sweep and the low cost of the equipment involved.   Metal detector tank sweeps are typically hand stamping a transaction that a tank probable isn't present.   These sweeps while on the surface make sense (buried metal, metal detector should find something), they are a needle in a hay stack.   Geology on any property will have some amount of metal (ferrous metal deposits) naturally occurring, as well as from the development of the site (we have found screws, nails, license plates, buried metal trash..  Buried metal can include buried pipes that service or serviced the property including electric lines, water, sewer, drains, as well as surface metal such as fences, metal used in the home (most tanks are close to the house).   Concrete sidewalks, driveways and patios can have wire mesh or metal rebar in the concrete that can set off a metal detector and give false positives.  All this buried metal is competing for the attention of the metal detector and can give a background reading and can mask the actual tank when encountered. This happens by the buried metal fooling individuals performing a tank sweep to adjust the sensitive of the metal detector due to the detector constantly spiking (beeping) from the background metal on a site.  Therefore, while a metal detector sounds fool proof it is the more foolish of the two options. 

The second type of tank sweep and much more throughout utilizes GPR or ground penetrating radar.   These scans range in costs that are comparable to a home inspection, but utilize specialized equipment costing tens of thousands of dollars.  Gpr is not fooled by buried debris as it utilizes radar as a detection method. Like sonar, radar sends a signal into the ground.  This radar signal can't penetrate buried objects with density such as metal tanks and accordingly when radar finds a tank, the signal is reflected back to the surface where a screen reads a graphical interpretation of the objects.  The signal is best described  as a pyramid reflection.  Pipes return a small pyramid, tanks return a bigger pyramid.

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If you want to get more technical, GPR radiates short pulses of high-frequency EM energy into the ground from a transmitting antenna.  When the EM energy (wave) encounters the interface of two materials having different properties, a portion of the energy is reflected back to the surface. Buried Oil tanks or metal pipes reflect the EM signal back to the surface, indicating a found buried object.   If the signal does not encounter a buried object the EM signals goes deeper into the ground indicating no object found.  The difference between these two readings is what allows a GPR technician to determine a buried object from normal soils. The radar can go through concrete and asphalt.

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So why hire a company like Curren to do a GPR tank scan?  First, we provide turnkey solutions including tank locating, removal testing and remediation.  Our technicians have been involved with tank removal so they are familiar with the various ways a tank system is constructed and thus know what to look for when performing a tank sweep.  When you hire a firm with over 20 years of service experience, you are dealing with a firm that has helped thousands of client. Our repeat customers and referral network is large and a testament to the quality of our service.

Curren completes tank scans with equipment costing tens of thousands of dollars.  The least expensive and reliable are metal detectors.  If you did not know, 85% of oil tanks are within a few feet of the foundation of a house.  Houses have metal, underground pipes have metals, buried metal can be found naturally and by man on any property.  These smaller metal signatures can confuse a metal detector and provide false readings, both when a tank is and is not present.   GPR does not have these limitations. 

Curren Environmental has over 20 years’ experience with tanks and all work is performed in house and by company personnel, this ensures both timely execution of projects as well as cost savings by avoiding subcontracting.  Curren is licensed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) and Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC).

Tank Sweep Questions?

Inheriting Environmental Problem

Posted by David C Sulock on Feb 16, 2017 9:38:00 AM

Is there an Environmental Issue with your Inherited property?

It always sounds good an inherited property.  You can reap the benefits by keeping the property as your home or selling the property to cash out.  What does not sound good is if this inherited property has an underground oil tank and to top that off, the oil tank leaked.  When you inherit a property, you may be inheriting a property that can be easily sold or holds years of headaches, potential lawsuits and a financial black hole.  How can you protect yourself, first hire an attorney with experience in estates, real estate and environmental issues.  Do not disburse liquid assets in the estate as monies that are available may be needed to manage the property in the form of taxes, utilities, inspections and potential repairs are upgrades requested by a purchaser.   If you have already accepted the inheritance than you just inherited, the problem and you should seek an environmental consultant and an environmental attorney.  The laws state that whoever owns the property owns the problem.  You may choose to do nothing about the oil tank, which can deterr potential purchasers of the property as they may not be able to get a mortgage or insurance with the tank in question.

What should you do before inheriting a property?

First, know that you are not required to accept the inheritance.  You also have the right to have an inspection on the property such a structural review, home inspection, mold inspection and a tank sweep to name a few.  While you are inheriting and not buying the property the adage, buyer beware is still relevant. In cases where you are bequeathed separate items, such as items, cars, cash, stock and jewelry, you can accept one and not the other i.e., you can cherry pick.    You do not have that same luxury as non-liquid assets such as real estate. You cannot take only a part of piece of property.  

Hire an experienced Attorney and Environmental Consultant.

When inheriting a property, be it residential or commercial, you should first consult with an attorney.  Attorneys will advise you regarding Proper Due Diligence prior to acquisition of the property.  Older dilapidated properties as well as newer move in condition properties may have environmental isssues.  The property may have hidden mold (or visble for that manner in an area you are not frequenting like an attic, crawl space, ect.  There may also be there is an underground oil tank or undocumented removed tank. If either mold or tanks are unknown, you need to hire an environmental consultant.  If there is any chance that there was or may still be an oil tank on the property a tank scan should be performed.  A tank scan consists of taking measures to properly scan the property for an oil tank.  The property should be scanned with a Ground Penetrating Radar system.  This system uses a series of radar wave pulses that are directed below ground.  When a solid object is encountered such as a metal tank, the waves are reflected back to the surface with a distinct signature. GPR tends to be more reliable , than a metal detector, as metal detectors are not discriminating and will pick up naturally occurring metal in the ground, metal from buried pipes, metal in the house, fences ect.   The best approach is GPR with a metal detector verification.  If this property is a commercial property you should perform a Phase I, for more information on Phase I click here.

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Did the property have an Underground Oil Tank?

Find out first if there was ever an oil tank located at the property. If the dwelling is older than 1940 or was built in 1940 to 1985, there is a high possibility of an underground oil tank.  Older homes in regards to heat sources started out with wood or coal then moved to oil heating.  Also, 9 times out of 10 if there is an above ground oil tank there probably was an underground oil tank.  You may check with the borough to find out if a permit was provided to take the underground oil tank out of the ground.  But, that permit does not answer the question if the oil tank leaked.  The only answer the permit allows is that there was an underground oil tank and that tank was taken out of the ground.  The borough does not test the soil for any leak from the tank, not do they require it.  Tank removal is a construction activity, tank leaking is environmental and is handled on a state level, not on a local level.

If you do find out that there was an underground oil tank and that said tank was taken from the ground, that environmental company may have taken soil samples to make sure there was no leak.  That environmental company would hopefully, have given the property owner a report on the soil samples and if the tank leaked or did not leak.

If you have no records of any soil samples or soil testing that it is advised to get soil samples done. First you would check the soil for any contamination. In the New Jersey there are regulations of how much contamination can be in located in the soil.  If there is contamination, there may be a need to test the groundwater as well. 

Pertaining to mold, while it is ubiquitous and needed in an ecosystem (it is grass, leaves, mulch, soil), when found inside it is indoor air pollution and a health concern.   Mold needs moisture to grow, which can be supplied not just from water leaks, but also from improper ventilation or lack thereof in a structure.   Mold means you have a water issue, meaning you not only have to remediate the mold but also fix the root cause of the moisture that fuels the growth.  Mold inspections can include visual walking inspections of a site and can include sampling inside to evaluate for hidden mold.  Mold is becoming more and more of a hot issue with homebuyers and must be considered as part of an evaluation before you take possession of a property.

After your due diligence, which can include testing and remediation and review of the findings with your attorney, you will be better prepared in the decision to accept the inherited property.  Remember the estate can pay for these inspections and repairs prior to you acquiring the property. It is also important to consider that long term you will probably sell the property, and when that occurs the buyer will do their due diligence which can include the afore referenced inspections.  Better to ferret out the issues before you own the property.

 

Tags: Estate

First Time Tank Removal

Posted by David C Sulock on Feb 7, 2017 10:15:00 AM

So here's the story...a hired tank removal company was found on the first page of Google, they had the cheapest price.  A tank was found to have a hole after it was removed from the ground.  No evidence of oil contamination was present in the soil, meaning staining or odors of petroleum in the tank grave.  Due to the hole the NJDEP hotline was called and a case number was obtained.   Removal company acquired one soil sample for laboratory analysis, which was found to have a level of ND (Non Detect).  After removal, client was billed almost double the quoted amount and then told they would have to spend another $3,600.00 to close out the called in NJDEP case number, even though the tank did not leak (Soil sample was non detect).

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This was the story that was explained to our office.   Curren reviewed the removal contract, soil laboratory test results and the subsequent proposal for $3,600.00 to do additional testing.  It was at this point that it was clear to Curren Environmental that the property owner did not have to do anything and was being taken advantage of.

The property owner hired a removal company without doing the proper research and inturn getting taken advantage of - these are the mistakes the owner made:

  • Owner went with cheapest price, which is really getting what you paid for. When you compared the quotes there was a difference between the hired company’s cost and the next one.  We often see these low cost quotes try to make up the difference by selling additional services that are not typically warranted.  Keep in mind a tank removal is perhaps a once in a life time decision.
  • The tank removal contract had no reference of taking any soil samples after removal, even though there was a chance the tank may have been found to be leaking.
  • Going back to item 2, there was no explanation regarding if testing was performed what would constitute a good or bad results. Results of Non Detect (ND) requires no further testing. 
  • The contract did not include any report. If you were buying a property that had a tank removed, wouldn’t you want a report about the removal?

In this case, the soil test was clean and the tank company said more testing was required, the owner was confused as to why more testing was necessary.  Curren thought it possible that a case number was obtained due to a hole in the tank, which may not have discharged any oil as the hole may have not fully appeared until AFTER removal from the ground.  It is confusing that if the tank leaked that your soil sample is clean. 

We asked the owner to question the need for further testing, their response was as follows:

Unfortunately NJDEP regulations state that if there are holes in a tank then a case number is required.  Even if contamination is not found in the ground, the potential for contamination is cause for a case number. 

Soil samples for closure are required to be collected by a NJDEP licensed subsurface evaluator.  Once the samples are collected and returned from the laboratory, a report can be generated to close out the case number. 

We cannot provide any letter stating there is no contamination or closeout the case with NJDEP without the required samples that must be collected by a NJDEP subsurface evaluator.

The only time sampling is not required is if the tank passed inspection and was not considered a leaking tank. 

Have an Environmental Issue? 

Their response is misleading.  Yes a hole in a tank can be cause to report a spill, but if you acquire a soil sample and it is clean, you have proven that the hole did not create a discharge to the environment.  The NJDEP can be contacted and explained to that the spill reported was in error.   This is what was ultimately done with Curren’s assistance and no further monies were spent.

Curren explained that no testing is required by law for a tank removal and the contract clearly does not include any contingency for sampling the tank excavation after removal and what the results would mean.    Testing is important to prove the tank did not leak and should have been included as an option in the quote, it was not.

Tags: tank removal

What is the NJDEP LSRP Program?

Posted by David C Sulock on Jan 17, 2017 8:52:00 AM

In 2009, the New Jersey Legislature in conjunction with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) enacted the Site Remediation Reform Act, which was designed to expedite and better manage contaminated sites in New Jersey.  In essence, the NJDEP privatized the management and environmental cleanup of commercial contaminated properties in New Jersey.    Previously the NJDEP would take a more active or inactive role in the management of these sites depending on how you defined managed.  The new regulations require owners of contaminated sites (responsible party) to retain a LSRP (licensed site remediation professional) to direct said owner in following the applicable NJDEP regulations.  There are steep fines for owners that do not follow these regulations and these fines are meant to ensure compliance.  To establish timely compliance, the NJDEP also has timeframe deadlines for when specific tasks must be completed, such as defining the extent of a plume -  both on and off site, if and when applicable.  Additional incentive for property owners to remediate a property relates to annual fees the NJDEP imposes on owners of the contaminated site. The theory being if you are being charged for owning a contaminated site you will be motivated to remediate and thus remove those fees.

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Licensed site remediation professionals" (LSRPs), are private sector professionals authorized to act instead of the NJDEP to evaluate contamination and supervise asd well as approve remediation efforts at industrial/commercial sites. LSRPS’s have education and experience requirements as well as having to pass a proficiency exam and complete on going continuing education relative to environmental regulations.  In short, the LSRPs do what the NJDEP formerly did, and in theory do it more efficiently and expeditiously. At the conclusion of a cleanup, LSRPs issue the site an approval called a "response action outcome" (RAO).  RAO’s, say that the site is in compliance with environmental regulations.  RAO's, replaces what the NJDEP historically had provided for sites, which was an NFA or "No Further Action".  NFA’s while still provided for residential sites, were formerly issued by the NJDEP under the prior system on commercial sites. Commercial sites no longer receive an NFA under these regulations

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The NJDEP still has oversight over LSRP’s, although somewhat limited as the regulations allow the LSRP’s to use professional judgement. The LSRP program has both fans and critics.   There are federal and state environmental regulations in the United States, but of all the states only two have an LSRP program (Massachusetts and New Jersey).   Bottom line, if you have interests in commercial property in New Jersey and that is contaminated, you will be retaining an LSRP.

Have an Environmental Issue? 

Tags: LSRP

10 Things You Need to Know About Black Mold

Posted by David C Sulock on Jan 12, 2017 10:09:00 AM

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  1. Black Mold is one of the most misused words when referring to mold.
  2. Black Mold is a term made up by the media.
  3. There is no mold that has the scientific name Black Mold. In all the thousands of types of molds present in our environment, there is no mold called Black Mold
  4. Molds have difficult names to pronounce like Cladosporium, Basidiospores, Chaetomium, and Periconia. Having a mold named Black Mold would make things too simple. 
  5. The term Black Mold is misinformation, a term that is meant to confuse and scare you. You will see the "Black Mold"  most often utilized by someone in the mold industry.   These simplistic references to Black Mold as an actual type of mold clearly shows that the individual is not familiar with mold... at all. 
  6. You cannot identify mold by color.
  7. The color of mold has no correlation to how it will affect someone. (black,brown, yellow, orange, greent...etc.)
  8. If you are told you have "Black Mold" you are being told a lie. 
  9. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) does not recognize the term Black Mold.
  10. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) does not recognize the term Black Mold.

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Questions About Mold?


 



 

Tags: mold

Don't Let Your Pipes Freeze!

Posted by Tiffany Byrne on Jan 5, 2017 9:51:00 AM

There are many horror stories regarding pipes freezing. Pipes freezing can lead to bigger problems. Don’t let this be your story…

Going to on vacation?

A family of 5 was on their way to their vacation. Before vacation the family prepped the house for departure -  they closed all the bedroom, bathroom and basement doors.  Temperatures plummeted to below freezing for a day and two nights. The pipes froze.  Two days later the temperature rose to above freezing and the pipes burst. Water poured through the house and the walls to the basement.  The water stayed there for more than 48 to 72 hours allowing for mold growth. Don’t let this happen to your home.

How can you keep your pipes from freezing?

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Ten Tips for keeping your pipes from freezing during the colder months:

  1. Insulate your pipes. Insulate all hot and cold water pipes located in the crawlspace as well as under your house and in in the basement, attic, and exterior walls (if accessible) with snap-on foam insulation (https://www.lowes.com/pd/Frost-King-0-75-in-x-6-ft-Foam-Plumbing-Tubular-Pipe-Insulation/3133245). Make sure foam insulation fits tightly without gaps.
  2. Secure the basement doors and close and weather strip the exterior basement windows and doors.
  3. Drip both your hot and your cold water faucets in the kitchen and bathrooms. This helps keep water moving through the pipes and relieves built-up water pressure in the pipes if they should freeze. Pay particular attention to the pipes running in the outside walls.
  4. Turn off your sprinkler system and make sure you blow out compressed air through the irrigation lines to ensure the water is drained.
  5. Disconnect and drain garden hoses.
  6. Open up the cabinet doors under the sinks in the kitchen and bath if they are on exterior walls to allow heat to flow through to the interior pipes.
  7. Wrap your water heater with an approved manufacturer’s blanket.
  8. Don’t set thermostat lower than 55 degrees when traveling. Ask a neighbor to check on your house during below freezing temperatures.
  9. In your laundry room make sure your faucet is on drip and set your washing machine on warm and start the fill cycle periodically for few minutes to run the water through the pipes.
  10. Keep your garage doors closed during extreme cold weather.

Remember don’t let the temperature in your house get too low.  If you have a second home and you do not turn off the water make sure the heat is turned on at a temperature of 55 or higher.  Make sure you use the tips above…since you are not at that location all of the time and if the pipes burst/thaw and you will have a water problem. If that water problems sits for more than 48 to 72 hours than your problem becomes more than a water problem.  It becomes a mold problem.

What do you do if your pipes freeze? Locate the main cut-off valve and have the water cut-off key handy before attempting to thaw out the frozen pipes.  Open the faucet the pipe runs to before actually thawing the frozen pipe to allow water to flow through the pipe and relieve any built up pressure in the pipe.  You could also use a hair dryer, heat lamp or a portable space heather to thaw out the frozen pipes to help with any pressure built up in the pipe

Make sure you follow the 10 tips to keep your pipes from freezing.  Whether you are home or not you do not want your pipes to burst.

Tags: mold