Hot Environmental Topics

What Is A Sewer Line Scope Inspection?

Jan 24, 2024 2:55:00 PM / by David C Sulock

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What Is A Sewer Line Scope Inspection & Do I Need One?

One of the oldest mission-critical pieces of plumbing is your sewer line. It is also as old as your house (most likely) and used daily. Mission critical when it does not function, it means you know what.   Home inspections while a prudent due diligence step in buying a property do not inspect buried sewer lines as part of a typical inspection. The inspection of sewer lines is a separate inspection and is commonly referred to as a Sewer Line Scope.

What Is A Sewer Scope?

A sewer line scope inspection, or plumbing scope inspection, uses a flexible borescope camera, which is run through the home’s main drainpipe aka sewer lines. The inspection as its name implies scopes the sewer line looking for cracks, damage, blockage, caves in, dips, or roots.

How is a Sewer Line Scope Performed?

The inspector will insert a flexible rod with a waterproof high-resolution camera into the sewer line from the house to your main sewer line. Many cameras are 100' long so that is a typical inspection distance.  The camera provides real-time images of the sewer line.  I'll be real it's not a riveting film for sure, but the real horror is when the cameras detect roots, debris, and failure of the sewer line.  In short the inspection allows the inspector to determine the condition of the inside of the pipe and look for any problems.

residential sewer line scope      sewer line inspections

Should I Get A Sewer Line Scope?

Fast answer yes, there is no reason not to, even on newer construction.  We have seen the failure of lines on older homes and dips on sewer lines at new construction (likely from heavy equipment traversing the site and the trench of the line settling). The point is that if you don’t know 100% your sewer line is 100%, you need to know. You sewer line which is typically made of cast iron, PVC, less common or older homes terra-cotta, or Orangeburg. So you have a variety of pipe materials utilized, some better than others but all subject to age, wear, and tear.   You might brag about a new patio or deck, you won’t about a $12,000 sewer line replacement. Yes, you read correctly, you can pay North of $10,000 to replace a sewer line. Knowing that you can see the advantage of inspecting the sewer line.

sewer line scope NJ

What will a sewer line inspection provide you? Sewer Inspection

Most sewer inspections are recorded so you can see where the deficiency in the line is located and if perhaps the line is failing in multiple locations. The point is you can actually see if the pipe is clear or not.

sewer line scope

If you are buying a home a sewer line inspection is a wise inspection to perform. Many home inspectors perform sewer line scope and they should be your first point of contact for the performance of this inspection.

If you are a Home Inspector and perform this service, please leave a comment with your contact information and what areas you service.

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Does my home contain lead-based paint? 

Jan 10, 2024 10:48:00 AM / by David C Sulock posted in Lead, lead paint, Lead paint inspections, NJ Lead safe, lead visual inspection, lead risk assessment, NJ Lead Law, lead paint wipe sample, NJ Lead Safe cert

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Where do you find lead in a home?

It is found in the air (briefly), soil (brought in from outside), dust (the rubbing of painted surfaces generates dust that can contain lead), and the paint (typically beneath newer coats of latex paint, that will chip off or lose adhesion from the building material substrate) of some homes or buildings built before 1978 (Lead paint was banned by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in 1978). It has been well-established that exposure to lead can cause serious health problems.

 What are popular times when lead paint was used?

Lead in paint was popularized during colonial times for use in interiors and exteriors of homes, due to its durability. 

 Why was lead even added to paint and stains?

Think about painting, do you want the paint or stain to dry fast, so you can add a second coat or just to put stuff back in the room?   Do you want the paint or stain to be water resistant so if you leave a window open and water hits the window well or sill it resists water damage?   Do you want the surface to be durable and wear like iron, ahem lead. How about making the surfaces washable?   All these desirable features were obtained when you added lead to paint and stain.

 Does my home contain lead-based paint?How can I tell if my home contains lead-based paint?

 What is the most common lead exposure to humans?

Lead dust is the most common way that people are exposed to lead. Inside the home, most lead dust comes from chipping and flaking paint or when paint is scraped, sanded, or disturbed during home remodeling. Chipping and peeling paint are found mostly on surfaces that rub or bump up against another surface.

 

Identifying Lead Paint: What Does Lead Paint Look Like?

 

Which route of exposure is the most common for lead?

Lead exposure in humans and most importantly in children occurs primarily through ingestion. On a normal day dust can be generated by rubbing of leaned coated surfaces, such as doors, windows, and floors (yes lead was used in stains and the friction on floors wears them down and generates dust). This dust can enter your body by touching it and hand-to-mouth activity.

Young children crawling on the floor and playing on the floor are exposed to the dust making it the most common route of exposure. Lead also has a sweet taste so hand to mouth activity of young children is increased due to the flavor profile.   Adults are less likely to be crawling on the floor or chewing on paint chips, but if the dust is airborne from cleaning, lead can be inhaled. If dust is on an adult's hand and hand-to-mouth action incurs lead can be ingested.   Renovation of buildings that contain lead, including component removal and replacement, sanding for painting, demolition, etc. will generate dust that can be inhaled or ingested.  

Where is lead hiding?

It can be found in dirt and dust, some things we eat, paint in old houses, and contaminated water. Even very small amounts of lead are not safe for children. Lead poisoning occurs when lead builds up in the body, often over months or years. Even small amounts of lead can cause serious health problems.

 Should I have a lead paint inspection performed?

You have to ask yourself if you know where lead is or isn't how is that information going to be used?

A lead paint inspection would tell you where lead is or isn't.  Any construction, repair, or renovation work can disturb lead paint and produce lead dust.  Lead dust inhaled or ingested has well-documented health effects in humans and children in particular.    So knowing where lead is when disturbing building materials has huge value.

How do you remove lead dust from a house?

You can use a special vacuum cleaner called a High-Efficiency Particulate Air Filter (HEPA) vacuum to clean up lead dust. The HEPA vacuum has a special filter that can pick up and hold small pieces of lead. Another option is to use a wet/dry vacuum in the wet setting to clean up the wash or rinse water.

Lead Questions? Call the Experts

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 What houses have lead poisoning?

Any house or apartment built before 1978 could have lead paint. Houses and apartments built before 1960 have the most lead paint. Common household repairs (like painting or fixing a door that sticks to the doorframe) can produce lead dust or paint chips. This dust and paint chips can contain lead.

Do all homes built before 1978 have lead?

In the environmental industry, you presume it is present until proven otherwise, so the answer is you presume it to be present.   That said although the paint was banned lead paint still existed and may be brought to a home built in 1979 from a home built before 1978. You may also have an heirloom piece (an old fixture of some sort from a pore 1978 home installed in your post-1978 home that has lead paint or varnish. Think doors, old windows, corner cabinets, mantels, etc..

How to know if you have lead paint

I gutted my house, how can it still have lead?

As you scrape, drill, cut, open walls, remove trim, demolish, or perform other renovation activities, you create dust that may contain lead and may remain in the dwelling. Think about lead touching every surface (lead paint on wood, plaster, stairs, etc.), and lead stain or varnish on floors, stairs, and doors.   Now think, did you remove all these surfaces?   Did you gut the closets, and replace the stairs, including your painted basement stairs? How about painted surfaces in the basement? Basement walls, stairs, ceiling, windows, are they painted with lead paint?

The timeline below shows how popular lead paint was in the United States. Clearly, as you approach 1978 lead usage decreased.

Lead paint testing

 

Lead Questions? Call the Experts

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Do not misuse the term Phase I  ESA

Dec 20, 2023 10:43:00 AM / by David C Sulock posted in Phase I, Property Transaction Screens, AAI All Appropriate Inquiries, Phase II, Phase I ESA, ASTM E1527-21

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Do not misuse the term Phase I

A Phase I ESA (Environmental Site Assessment) is historical research on a property, typically commercial that looks for potential environmental impairment to the property.   No testing or remediation is performed in a Phase I.  A Phase II is all about testing and a Phase III is Remediation. 

The map below is of a long-since-developed site, that in the map was a train turnaround.  Trains are notorious for oil leaks and spills, surely a train turnaround such as this would hold legacy contamination that an unsuspecting property owner could be inheriting if they did not complete a Phase I.

What is a Phase I Environmental

Regarding testing, no Phase I is required to test, A Phase I identifies areas that could require testing.  Case in point, the photo below shows a storage tank on its side.   There is a concern because anything stored in the tank could have leaked out because the tank is on its side.  There would be a recommendation in a Phase I to test the soil around the tank.   But no testing is completed during the Phase I, that is left for Phase II.

Dumping fund Phase  I ESA

You can't skip a Phase I and go to a Phase II as the Phase I is your road map of what to inspect. 

The most common misuse of the term Phase I is from residential home inspections.

We are commonly called to do an inspection of a property after a Home Inspection is performed.   It is not uncommon that the home inspector notices evidence of mold, or some other environmental hazard such as a former oil heat, and recommends further evaluation, which is prudent and warranted for sure.   But when a Phase I is recommended, it shows a clear misunderstanding of what a Phase I ESA actually is.

Here is an exert from such a report

"Underground Fuel Tanks Noted:
The evidence noted is the presence of either a fuel tank fill pipe or a fuel tank breather pipe at the referenced location. There is evidence of an underground fuel tank installed on the property. Further investigation is required to determine the condition of the tank as well as the presence of any leakage into the soil. A Phase 1 environmental audit of the subject property is recommended to determine the presence and/or condition of the underground oil tank and to see if other environmental hazards are present. The soil should be evaluated, and the tank should be pressure tested. Permanent removal of the underground storage tank should be considered. They do not leave fill pipes behind if the tank was removed. There is no evidence an oil tank was located in the basement.

A Phase I ESA follows ASTM protocol for historical research of a property, 99% of the time it’s performed on commercial not residential, unless multi-family.

A Phase I is meant to identify the potential for contamination of a site by hazardous or toxic materials and to identify other possible environmental constraints on the site. It is not meant to be a detailed, comprehensive investigation based on quantitative or qualitative analytical data. No environmental sampling and analysis will be performed under the Phase I scope of work. The form and content of this ESA I will follow the form and content as outlined in ASTM standard E 1527-21. The results of the Phase I ESA will be used to determine whether or not further study (such as a Phase II ESA) is warranted, based on the background information gathered and the results of the site inspection.

https://www.currenenvironmental.com/blog/why-a-phase-i-is-important

 

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What are acceptable CO2 levels?

Dec 12, 2023 9:16:00 AM / by David C Sulock

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Elevated or excessive indoor carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in a home, school, or office building can be hazardous.   Humans produce and exhale carbon dioxide (CO2) as part of normal metabolic processes so occupancy of an indoor space will increase CO2 levels naturally.  The CO2 build-up in a built environment such as a building, when humans occupy said space can be detrimental to human health.   A common byproduct of elevated CO2 levels in humans is a feeling of tiredness, lack of focus, decreased cognitive skills, and even a sick or nausea feeling. Many people will typically feel this way after a large meal, but the timing of these systems and meals can rule out a full stomach and point to an indoor air quality issue.  In short, elevated CO2 levels are not a health benefit. 

 

What is considered a Safe CO2 Level Indoors?

What are acceptable CO2 levels?

CO2 levels will vary from outdoor to indoor, the rub is what is considered a high CO2 level.

In a perfect world indoor CO2 levels will be comparable to exterior levels.

Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health (PEOSH) standards or the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standards both use a standard of below 1,000 parts per million (ppm) as a guideline for acceptable indoor air quality in buildings.

Many professionals evaluating indoor air quality relative to CO2 utilize the 1000 ppm standard. For comparison, an outdoor typical CO2 level will be around 400 to 500 ppm.

That said an indoor CO2 level of 700 and 800 ppm are baselines commonly used as markers for good indoor air quality.   Not unlike mold indoor air quality evaluations, you do not want indoor levels to be excessively above outdoor air quality standards. For mold, it is common to flag an indoor issue if spores are 10% higher inside as compared to outdoor levels.   Regarding CO2 excessive indoor levels have a higher variance.

What is considered a Safe CO2 Level Indoors?

Safe, Organic and New & Improved have varying meanings and interpretations.   Safe CO2 levels can mean “best”, “not good”, “bad” or “potentially harmful.” Since we as humans manufacture CO2, levels can spike in a crowded room.

Best Indoor CO2 Levels: The best CO2 levels indoors are levels that match outdoor levels. Using 400 ppm as an outdoor baseline, levels at 400 would be considered best. Now we recently tested outdoor CO2 levels and came up with 500 ppm and used that number for indoor comparison.   The point being levels can vary from acceptable averages.  The industry using the 400 ppm (outdoor CO2 concentration) level, sets a threshold of CO2 being no more than 700 ppm above outdoor air.  This bumps the 1000 ppm standard to 1,100 or 1200 ppm with a 500 ppm outside level.

Good CO2 Indoor Air Quality: CO2 levels below 800 ppm.

Acceptable C02 Levels: CO2 levels below 1,000 ppm are generally considered acceptable for most indoor environments.

How do I know if I have a CO2 problem? Have an indoor air quality assessment performed.

Our office fields many calls about indoor air quality and well over 75% of the complaints come from suspect mold.   When we do an indoor air quality evaluation and test for mold and find normal indoor fungal ecology, we start talking about CO2 and other “suspects”, and blank stares ensue.

Mold and even CO2 are not always the smoking gun, meaning  CO2 levels alone do not determine overall indoor air quality. Other pollutants, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particulate matter, cleaners and other chemical contaminants stored or used indoors can contribute to and degrade indoor air quality.

To maintain acceptable CO2 levels in buildings, proper ventilation systems and practices are mission-critical. Indoor CO2 concentrations are a combination of outdoor CO2, indoor breathing and the ventilation rate of the building (the HVAC is the lungs of the building). As buildings and homes become more energy-efficient and airtight, this means we have less fresh air and an increase in CO2.

Couple that with the fact that most all ventilation systems recycle indoor air to conserve energy, essentially moving the contaminated air around rather than cycling in new air. This results in high CO2 concentrations and poor indoor air quality.  We thought that due to covid there would be an increase in upgrades to HVAC systems that would increase the intake of outside (fresh air) which helps with indoor air quality.

Air Quality Issues? Call the Experts

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What is the Difference between a Phase I and a Preliminary Assessment?

Nov 28, 2023 10:46:00 AM / by David C Sulock posted in LSRP, Phase I, AAI All Appropriate Inquiries, Due Diligence, Phase I ESA, Preliminary Assessment

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A Phase I ESA is like your common screwdriver, a trusty, and dependable tool that most people know what it is used for, just like buyer due diligence, which is your insurance when buying a property.  A Phase I when completed properly provides protection under CERCLA, the Federal Superfund law, so Federal protection.

A Preliminary Assessment or "PA" is more like the tool in your workbench that you are not 100% sure what it is or how to use it.  New Jersey has its own innocent purchaser defense that requires a property owner to demonstrate that, at the time they acquired the property, they did not know and had no reason to know that any hazardous substance had been discharged at the property, by performing an “all appropriate inquiry” prior to purchase.  The PA provides NJ innocent landowner defense. 

 

what is a preliminary assessment

A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment is meant to identify Recognized Environmental Conditions (REC)as defined by the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM).   A Phase I report will include a comprehensive records review, interviews with knowledgeable parties, noninvasive walking inspection of the property, any data gap identification, an environmental lien search, and a comprehensive historical records review (think a 100 year lookback).

The current ASAT standard for a Phase I is E1527-21 which outlines how to assess the environmental condition of the Property utilizing the All Appropriate Inquiry (AAI). AAI is defined as an inquiry into the previous ownership and use of the Subject Property consistent with good commercial or customary practice as defined by CERCLA 42 U.S.C. §9601(35) (B). According to ASTM E1527-21, non-scope considerations that a consultant may want to assess in connection with commercial real estate and to which no implication is intended as to the relative importance of inquiry into such non-scope considerations consist of: asbestos-containing building materials; radon; lead-based paint; lead-in-drinking water; wetlands’ regulatory compliance; cultural and historic resources; industrial hygiene; health and safety; ecological resources; endangered species; indoor air quality; biological agents; and mold.

A Phase I includes zero testing but may find RECs that require testing.  The Phase I evaluates a property’s environmental condition and assess its potential liability for contamination. 

Levels of Due Diligence in New Jersey-Do I Need a Phase I AND a Preliminary Assessment?

A Preliminary Assessment follows EPA guidelines not ASTM and is like a Phase I on steroids. The Preliminary Assessment will include an Order of Magnitude Analysis to ensure that previously generated environmental data is compliant with current regulations.  The PAR (Preliminary Assessment Report) is more detailed regarding both research and database research.  The Preliminary Assessment will look at historical manufacturing directories, deeper level of contamination identification, including recommendation(s) should the PA reveal any Areas of Concern (AOC) that require further investigation.  The more extensive environmental evaluation in a Preliminary Assessment entails a search/evaluation of the Site, specific to both current and historic operational and environmental information to determine if there have been any confirmed or potential releases or discharges.  A key part of this is an “Order of Magnitude” evaluation comparing past investigation results to current regulations and standards. Standards change and what may have been acceptable in the past can be out of compliance today.  Past environmental investigations can be found to be lacking and not compliant with today's standards, thus requiring further evaluation.  The additional layer of evaluation helps support a property owners NJ Innocent Purchaser Defense and, in some circumstances, can help acquire funding to remediate sites should contamination be found that was not identified in the report. 

Phase I  Preliminary Assessment Pro Tip 

In New Jersey, if you are opening a daycare or are subject to ISRA,  you need to complete PA, as NJDEP requires a PA not a Phase I.

 

IMG_7521

Important facts about a Phase I vs a Preliminary Assessment

1.   A Phase I ESA is a screening tool to evaluate possible environmental liabilities at a property.   It is strictly lender level ASTM compliant research and data review for financial transactions. The party paying for the Phase I may choose to not investigate(test) any RECs from the Phase I.  A Preliminary Assessment covers state (NJ-specific) liability and is necessary to be in compliance with NJDEP's Technical Requirements for Site Remediation (N.J.A.C. 7:26E)  to obtain protection from potential liability as an innocent landowner (under the NJ Spill Compensation and Control Act N.J.S.A. 58:10-23.11) 

2.  The timing of a Phase I is 2 to 3 weeks.  A Preliminary Assessment takes longer and can  take 20-45 days, due to the additional research involved and you have to wait to receive File Review replies from local and state agencies.

3.  A Preliminary Assessment will include recommendations for a Site Investigation of Areas of Concern (AOCs).   A Phase I does not require recommendations for further investigation.

 Can you combine a Phase I & Preliminary Assessment?

The short answer is yes you can develop a Phase I - Preliminary Assessment report,  If you’re performing real estate due diligence in New Jersey and want to qualify for both federal and state innocent purchaser liability protections, you need to perform both an ASTM Phase I ESA, as well as a NJDEP PAR

Curren has been working on PHIs for over 30 years and this has been a more recent trend in real estate sales.  Curren has been performing PHI/PAR reports for many clients with legal representation in the transaction.   

Phase I or Preliminary Assessment Questions?

Call the Experts

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No testing is performed during the typical PHI and PAR.  The sampling would be performed during the PHII ESA or Site Investigation phase.
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Phase I ESA Tips  aka The Best Phase I

Nov 15, 2023 11:49:00 AM / by David C Sulock posted in Phase I, AAI All Appropriate Inquiries, Due Diligence, Phase II, Phase I ESA, Phase II GPR, ASTM E1527-21

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Phase I is the foundation of due diligence when buying a property. Phase I environmental audits are so important for purchasers of commercial real estate. Environmental regulation places the burden of environmental cleanup on a property owner.  If contamination occurred at a property 40 years ago and 5 owners ago, regardless of who owned the property in the past, the current property owner is the Responsible Party for the cleanup. 

Short story, a professional firm, was closed over a weekend.  When employees returned on Monday, they found a 14,000-gallon tank in their parking lot.  The tank was dumped there over the weekend.  This dumping was reported to the police and security cameras caught the entire process, unfortunately, the cameras could not decipher the license plate.  The bottom line the property owner had to pay to properly dispose of the dumped tank. 

dumping

 

That said, how do you know you are getting the best Phase I?

The environmental company should express that the  Phase I can be completed within 3 weeks on average.   Longer time frames would occur if there are government records (environmental reports at the State) that must be reviewed which can take three (3) more weeks to access.  You, as the client, need to be told that Phase I may not be able to be completed as fast as you would like, which many environmental consultants do not want to address.

Quick Story

Environmental company out of Buffalo, NY, did a Phase I at a property in Southern, NJ for an SBA loan.  Timing was mission critical, Phase I report was completed but it had a large data gap, as their recommendation below states:

Recommendations
Additional investigation is warranted to assess the on-site subsurface conditions due to the potential for on-site USTs and long term automotive repair, and should include the area of the floor drain/sump discharge and former in-ground lifts. A review of the 2016 NJDEP Case may help reduce the scope of work. Nevertheless, if investigation identifies a concern, further investigation/remedial work may be required.

Reading between the lines here the consultant knew there were reports with NJDEP but did not review them as they had to complete the Phase I in a short time frame.  Fact, the Phase I was not complete and should not have been issued until the State files were reviewed. Now the consultant wants more money to review files that should have been reviewed as part of the Phase I.  This is very common and wrong on many levels.

Your takeaway should be that you have to be provided realistic time frames to complete the Phase I.

It is estimated 70% of Phase I's require some form of a Phase II.  Now understand that while a Phase I could be classified as white collar, a Phase II will include an aspect of blue-collar work.  Most environmental consultant do not staff people or equipment necessary to perform a Phase II.  Many Phase I customers end up getting hit with the markup from subcontractors that consultants utilize for the Phase I.  You also get wacked with dealing with a 3rd party schedule.

Quick Story

Curren completed a Phase I for a business and property being sold.  Phase I found contamination, buyers bought the site and one of the partners had a friend that worked at another environmental company, that took over the management of the contamination post purchase.  The rub was the friend's company, owned no equipment and subcontracted everything and they had fallen into and out of bankruptcy several years ago and had a long list of vendors they never paid.  Curren Environmental got called back to supply equipment for the investigation and remediation of the site, only Curren couldn't extend credit to the environmental company due to their prior bankruptcy.  The buyer had to pay for all our work which the partners questioned why they switched companies in the first place.  I think their biggest concern was the financial health of the company they hired.

The lesson here is hiring a company that covers tasks of Phase I, II & III, can make your project smoother.

Best Phase I ESA  Choosing a company for a Phase I

 

3    Ask the consultant to Predict Your Future

  • When you hire a company for environmental you want experience.   The more you know the better you are at evaluating  risk.
  • Buying a farm = GPR for tanks, past farmer dumping and pesticide contamination.
  • Buying a gas station = former tanks
  • Buying a strip mall = any past tenants that could cause contamination?
  • Industrial Land = What operated there? Manufacture companies and waste generation.
  • Buying land to redevelop = Any off-site contamination concerns that could affect your development
  • Known Contaminated Site = what has been done and how viable is owner of value of land vs contamination

If you give us the site address and some prior history, the crystal ball can go to work to prep you for what could be in store for you.    This is often bad news and potential negative issues that could affect the transaction, but topics that you should be aware of during your due diligence.  This may even deter you from proceeding with the purchase.

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How long does New Jersey Lead Safe Certification Last?

Nov 8, 2023 10:57:00 AM / by David C Sulock posted in Lead, Lead paint inspections, NJ Lead Law, Lead wipe sample, NJ Lead Safe cert

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A New Jersey Lead Safe Certificate is good for 2 years but can last 3 years.

When a certificate expires, you have to have another inspection, either after two (2) years or between two (2)  2 years and three years.   The New Jersey Lead safe certification is never-ending and your obligations are perpetual. The law is also very confusing, so let's clear up the biggest question people have which is how long does the lead safe certificate last?

NJ lead safe certificate-1

That answer is confusing as is the NJ Lead Law, so let me clarify.

A lead safe certification lasts two years.

But if you have a tenant that occupies a rental unit that has a valid (unexpired) lead safe certificate and that tenant remains a tenant past the 2-year certificate expiration, then the cert can be valid for 3 years (from date of issuance) or shorter if the tenant only stays say 6 months past the 2-year period.

Lead Safe Certification Duration Example

Let's say you have a tenant that signs a 5-year lease.

You get a lead safe cert that’s good for 2 years.

The lead safe certificate will last 3 years because a tenant has occupied the unit during the initial 2 years and the law has a belief that the tenant knowing the property is lead safe would notify the landlord if it became unsafe. This carnal knowledge so to speak allows the cert to last 3 years.

Now at the 3-year mark, you must get a reinspection, even if the tenant is staying. The longest anyone can go without another lead inspection is 3 years.

Following this example, when this dream tenant who has signed a 5-year lease leaves at year 5, you must get another inspection.

Lead Questions? Call The Lead Experts,

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NJ lead inspections

 

 

 

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Selling a house with an Oil Tank

Nov 7, 2023 3:07:00 PM / by david sulock posted in NJDEP oil tank removal grant, oil tank removal new jersey, oil tank

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In the United States people would initially heat their homes with wood up until the early 1900's. Then the use of coal became popular from 1920 to 1940,  and then oil heat was king post WWII. Natural gas came into play in the 1990s  and finally natural gas (1990's).   Homes built pre-1990 have a high probability that oil was a fuel source at one time.  After World War II oil was plentiful and cheap,  the United States was a steel-making machine.      Cheap oil and industry-dominating steel production = heating oil tanks, buried and above ground for commercial and residential properties.

 

IMG_9826-1

As of today, oil has been replaced largely by natural gas that is piped into homes which removes the need for calling for oil delivery to fill up a tank.  When neighborhoods that originally never had natural gas were piped for gas homeowners slowly upgraded as their heaters needed replacement.  What happened to the oil tanks? For the most part, they were abandoned, disconnected from the heater, and left where they were buried in the ground or in a dark corner of the basement up to about the mid to late 1980s.   In the 1990s some tanks were removed, some were abandoned in place by filling with an inert material like sand, concrete or foam and some were simply left where they were.

Photo Aug 15, 11 06 40 AM-1This brings us to today why should anyone be concerned about an oil tank, oil comes from the ground.   Well, New Jersey has no past or present drilled oil wells, we are not an oil-rich state, simply put oil is not naturally present in the ground in New Jersey.   What we are burdened with are regulations.   Yes, there are regulations governing oil tanks.  The most broad-reaching regulation is the Spill Act from the 1970s which says any release of a contaminant to the environment is reportable to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP).   On top of this law are regulations that dictate what amount of oil is permissible and what is not.  Levels above what is permissible require what is known as remediation.   Other laws are construction defining what you must do to a tank when you remove it from service (either remove it or clean and abandon it in place).   You are also burdened with the definition of a Responsible Party (RP).  An RP is kind of like a store policy that says you break it you buy it.  In terms of an oil tank that leaks and requires remediation, well if you own a property or buy a property with an oil tank that leaks, well you are responsible for addressing it, hence the Responsible Party term.  This is why home buyers are wary of oil tanks.  This is why homeowners selling a property with an oil tank have problems, nobody wants to have the financial burden of cleaning up an oil tank leak.   Let me add another layer to this, banks, and mortgage companies are wary of providing financing for a home purchase if an oil tank was or may present.  Oil contamination can and has devalued homes, somewhere it makes sense for homeowners to walk away from the mortgage, leaving the bank with the problem.  

 

 

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Mold Myths

Oct 25, 2023 2:44:00 PM / by David C Sulock posted in Mold Testing, mold inspections, mold survey, mold professional, Mold, Mold growth, mold remediation, black mold

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How often do I hear ......"You have the black mold"!

Mold is a four-letter word you don't want to utter or hear.   Mold is alleged to be the cause of so many health issues and typically by people self-diagnosing themselves.

If there was black mold, you would also hear about brown, grey and white mold.  Black mold was invented by the media and is only the color of a mold, just like brown and grey, and white colored mold. 

Black Mold

Most all molds have names that are very difficult to pronounce and many types of mold are black in color when you see a black-colored mold you could be seeing over a hundred possible types of mold. 

The list below is a snip of a fungal library, you can see molds under A, B, F S, what you can't see under the B list is a Black Mold or any molds in the list that are named for a color. Naming a mold for color is not performed.

 

Is black mold real

Pro Tip

If you have mold you have a water problem which caused the mold.  Bottom line you don't have mold unless you have excess water. If someone says you have black mold, you are being scammed.

True Story

A guy built his own house, that had a crawlspace.  He installed vents in the crawlspace, as was required by code.  He also opened the vents in warm weather and closed them in the cold weather, as he was told to do.  Fast forward 10 years, he is selling the home, and the buyer's inspection process finds mold in the Black MOLD crawlspace.     He became our client and we had to explain to all parties that black mold doesn't exist and that there was indeed mold in the crawlspace, from moisture in the air caused by the opening and closing of the vents.  Had he sealed the vents and operated a dehumidifier in the space, he would have removed moisture because moisture is the fuel that drives mold growth, but that is not what the construction codes say.

You see at Curren Environmental, we are environmental professionals, we provide advice regarding a variety of Environmental topics, mold being just one of them.  No hype, no trying to scare you, science-based assessments of problems and their associated solution.

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Buying a house with mold.

Oct 19, 2023 1:47:00 PM / by David C Sulock posted in mold, mold remediation, mold cleanup, mold assessments, mold expert

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Are you buying a house with mold? Is mold harmful? Should I be concerned about mold?

Mold is ubiquitous in our environment, but not all homes have mold and visible mold growth is a sign that something went wrong.

mold testing

Mold can have an adverse health effect on people. Mold affects different people differently. Clearly if you are not allergic to peanuts or dairy products, consumption of these food items (within reason) will not cause you harm.  The problem with mold is people are subjected to it unknowingly after they move into a new residence and after days, weeks or months health concerns arise.   

Should you have a mold inspection prior to a home purchase?   Yes, if you want to ensure the home doesn't have mold, years you should have a mold inspection.

 

 

 

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Mold can be harmful in a variety of ways.  Inhaling mold spores creates a reaction, which is your body finding that it doesn’t like the mold and your body fights the spore.

 

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Think about how pollen can create a reaction in susceptible people. Now certain molds can produce mycotoxins and microbial volatile organic compounds which can affect humans. These are created by mold growing, you are inhaling these compounds when you smell the musty odor associated with mold.

Understand mold digests organic material, a great example is how mold breaks down your compost pile outside. So mold in a building will consume organic material, such as paper, sheetrock, cellulose, wood, and other items. As these materials are consumed, compounds are made (think stomach acids) by the consumption of the material as well as the building materials breaking down into other compounds. Paint is paint, right? Or is paint a number of compounds that are the ingredients of paint? The paint is present on a sheetrock wall, when this wall has mold growth, mold breaks down the paper and the paint causing off-gassing. A person can be allergic to the compounds that mold creates when consuming your home. Now mold is really resilient and will grow when conditions permit the mold to grow and will go dormant when the conditions are not conducive for mold growth. So, if you add water and warmth to a room, mold can grow. Take away the water and put temperatures below 50 degrees and mold goes dormant, waiting to grow another day. If you intermittently smell a musty odor, it mold gets wet and grows. The smell goes away when the water goes away. This situation means you have a water leak that is intermittent.

Mold inspections can test for hidden mold and molds that are not actively growing. An abundance of invisible airborne mold spores can be a health hazard to humans when inhaled.

Is mold everywhere? Yes pretty much anywhere on earth mold is present, that said we have completed thousands of mold inspections, and not all inspections find mold. So if someone tells you every home has mold, well, it may be accurate, but it depends on what level of mold growth and airborne spores are present.

When Mold is present it points to an issue, could be a water issue, moisture, leak and much more. Want to speak to a mold expert?  

856-858-9509

 

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