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David C Sulock


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Are free Mold inspections scams?

Sep 23, 2021 2:33:00 PM / by David C Sulock posted in mold remediation, mold cleanup, mold contractor, Mold Testing, mold inspections, mold survey, mold professional, Mold, Mold growth, mold remediation

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It is not uncommon for mold to be found at a residence. Mold will grow silently over years in areas of your home that you may not even go in. 

Free mold inspections
During the home inspection or a mold inspection, mold  will show up during a real estate transaction. The rub with mold is that someone may see staining and call it mold or during a  home inspection, the inspector may test a surface for mold and confirm mold and then you are left with the knowledge that mold is present. What you won't know is why it grew, how to prevent it in the future and to what extent the mold is present.

The mold dilemma is there are only 11 states that have mold regulations so the industry lacks real mold professionals. If you are in NJ, PA or DE there is no mold licensing so in theory you can't find a mold professional or you can't find a state licensed professional.

The lack of mold regulations create no barrier of entry for someone wanting  to do mold work.  If you don't need a license  that saves you a lot of time and brain power.

Companies try and drum up work by offering "Free Mold inspections".   Are mold inspections truly free?    The time to give professional advice is not free,  as there has to be a cost involved to evaluate a property and provide professional advice. Free mold inspections, should read, "You are going to pay me to remediate mold if you need it or not". In the photo below, an inspector said that was mold and recommended remediation. 

Mold or water damageProfessional mold inspections can average around $500, plus or minus depending on size of property and if surface or airborne sampling is performed.

mold inspectionsLet's be clear we have given thousands of 2nd opinions over the years and there is always three common threads we find with mold advice.

  1. Many owners of properties that are told they need mold remediation, do not actually need mold remediation.
  2. Mold often grows back when the mold was inadequately addressed. Read, consultant never stopped the actual cause of the mold. (Leak, moisture intrusion, humidity, etc)
  3. The mold testing person doesn't understand the results of the mold testing, the cause of the mold growth or the actual extent.  Case in point inspector sampled a crawl space and a basement that were connected. We were asked to provide a cost to remediate the crawlspace, when in fact the basement had the bigger mold issue and people used the basement to exercise, so the mold exposure was greatest in the basement, but that is not what the consultant recommended.    The problem with non-mold professionals is they like to take a samples because they will get a really long, slick looking report of lab data, which is all pretty boilerplate, but it looks nice.  Because the lab gives such a nice package the actual mold consultants feel they do not have to provide an opinion in writing, it happens all the time.    So they find mold but they can't say it doesn't have to be remediated, why it would need remediation, what would be the difference or really most important what is the cause, causes or even likely causes for the mold.  

Regarding the "report".  A mold inspection report isn't the lab data from the lab, it should be a written report detailing the inspection, what was found, what wasn't found, and most importantly is why was there mold in the first place.  The report should also go over, in detail, what the lab data means, along with photos.

The bottom line is many mold companies work in their best interest not that of the owner or client.  This is particularly true if you are being offered free advice.

 

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Mold From Flooding

Sep 15, 2021 8:15:00 AM / by David C Sulock

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Hurricane season is half over for 2021 and New Jersey as well as many parts of the country have experienced flooding from storms.  Hurricane Ida hit NJ with heavy rain and flooding.    Because of the flooding our office has been inundated with calls regarding concerns of mold from water entry in home's offices and businesses.   

mold from flooding

People are concerned about black mold and toxic mold and want a professional opinion.  First, black mold and toxic mold are made up terms and do not exist.  Curren has done more inspections and consulting on these impacted properties then with Super Storm Sandy.  We have also given out a lot of fee advice to "talk people out of having mold inspections" performed or being sold a mold remediation they did not need.  

The fact is, many people who do mold inspections/remediations rely on fear and general misinformation, as opposed to a rational approach, which looks to see if what happened had the likelihood of causing mold to grow.   There is a real fine line here because if you rely on mold to make a living, we find people push remediation when it really isn't warranted.

For Curren we do  a lot more than just mold so a mold job here or there doesn't make or break our bottom line.     The snap shot of some of our excavation equipment (which isn't used for mold remediation) keeps us busy doing non mold projects. 

At Curren what is important is people are treated morally and ethically.

IMG_0590

Our deepest sympathies goes out to the people displaced from the flooding, to help others we would like to offer some perspective and help bring down the level of anxiety people have regarding mold.

basement flooded mold

So people are calling wanting inspections and remediation of mold growth, most of the properties in question fall into two distinct categories, those that have a mold problem from the storm and those that do not.  The difference between the two are like Yin and Yang.

basement water causes mold

Basement got several inches of water from the storm, do I have mold?

So the basement had water entry, you were home and you saw it, clearly you could have a concern about mold, but you likely do not have a mold problem.   If the home retained power and you removed the water within 48 hours you likely have no mold growth attributable to the flooding.  (you might have mold that grew over the years, which is not uncommon in older homes).  

Call for Mold Questions.

The reason a few inches of water didn't cause mold is that mold needs 48 to 72 hours to start to grow.  If you can make the space dry within that time frame, you need not be worried about mold.  Removed the water means, you pumped the water out, dried the area and have a dehumidifier operating.  If you ran a fan, you only put the moisture into the air and that creates a super moist environment and mold can grow.

Basement was Flooded for days

Basement was flooded and water was measured in inches and feet, property lost power house was wet for over a 3 days or longer owner was not in the house during the flooding.    99% of the time in this scenario you have mold.

rainstorm mold

Creating a swimming pool in a building elevates the humidity and moisture to the points that surfaces are saturated and the mold that is invisible and always present is provided the ideal conditions for growth and rapid growth at that.    Once the mold grows it will likely get worse because it will be hard to dry out the building quickly (you may not have power, a working pump or access to buy vacuums and dehumidifiers since bad weather affects everyone and can make a mad rush to the home improvement store, can anyone say Snowstorm?)  You may also have an insurance claim that you want to be seen by an adjuster.  

The key take way here is the length of time the space was wet, the shorter the less likely you need mold.  If you question the need for mold remediation, use some common sense as follows:

Do you smell musty odors?   Musty odors are associated with active mold growth so if you smell it you likely have it somewhere.

Do you see discoloration of organic surfaces?  Mold can be white, grey, pink, black, so if you see staining that wasn't present previously well then you likely got some growth. 

We have over 20 years experience with environmental consulting including mold.

888-301-1050

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Are mold inspections free advice?

Aug 4, 2021 9:30:00 AM / by David C Sulock

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You get what you pay for, is free ever free?    Free means there is a catch.   Free mold inspection, mean, I will make money on mold remediation if you need it or not.

are free mold inspections free?

Regarding the photo above, do you need someone to complete a mold inspection?   The answer is yes, because you have to remediate the mold but you also want to know the causes of the growth.  Yes causes, there are typically a few reasons that compound upon each other to fuel mold growth. 

Mold happens, it grows silently and relentlessly.  In a perfect world you would only notice mold outside, because you see it everyday but don't realize it, how else do leaves, mulch and grass clipping breakdown?   The rub is all those items are organic and unless you live in  a glass house, you have organic material that mold would like to consume.

 

expert mold inspections

So don't be surprised if mold is in your home and its found during the sale of the house, or maybe you find it due to odor, visual or health concerns, those are the common situations that trigger our involvement with mold.

Professional mold advice is an oxymoron, since New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware have no mold licensing you are hard pressed to find a company that would actually be professional.  Add to the fact that there are mold remediation franchises, it tells you how popular mold is.

People I consider to be mold professionals, mold experts, mold guru so to speak, well they have years of hands on experience and use tools to perform inspections, such as the thermal image photo below.

Inspectors should have spent time actually remediating mold, so they have the hands on understanding of mold, learn by doing, not just inspecting.

 

best mold inspections

 

How to Find a Mold Professional

I am going to offer some sage advice on mold remediation, based on thousands of mold projects and 20 plus years doing those projects.  aka where have I seen mold failures and mold successes.

Don't hire any mold person working out of their house.  Why, well mold remediation is labor intensive and you need equipment and labor which a one may show must subcontract (read hire cost, lower quality control).    Second when you review mold testing data its nice to get a 2nd opinion two heads are better than one.  We require all our reports get a 2nd review and opinion in our office.  It's hard to proof read your own work and 2nd opinions matter. 

Are Franchisee Mold Companies good?

Franchise Mold is a hard pass.  Look a restaurant franchise is fine, everybody has to eat, not everyone needs mold work, but a franchise must pay fees and you will pay for those fees, we see it all the time the franchises have awesome marketing, but high prices and low quality of work, we inspect and have seen what they call remediated, what we see is something that needs more work.   We also get calls about franchise warranty work, its very common that franchises change owners and new owners don't want to warranty the work (read not get paid) for the prior franchises mistakes. 

The mold company must be able to define the cause of mold, not just want to remediate the mold.  Bottom line you don't fix the mold cause, mold will come back, see it all the time, all the time.  

Hire a company that can test/inspect and remediate. Yes I know that goes against common advice you read, but hear me out.   We charge for mold inspections, because we are professionals and can on average find the mold cause within about 15 minutes of a site inspection, we can also test for mold and actually understand what the test data means.  The point is mold inspections are a fee for hire professional service and worth the money.  Hey if we find mold, sure we can provide a cost to remediate, if we don't end up doing the mold remediation, no harm no foul we were hired and paid for an inspection and that's fine.

 

See the photo below this was a mold air test supplied by a person working out of his house.  The sampling is 100% wrong, because the sample collection was on the ground no breathing height.

Air Sample Equipment
The photo below shows the proper way to test the mold for air, which is at breathing height on a tripod, center of the room.  You do this to avoid bias in the sample.
mold inspection with testing

Understand the fox guarding the hen house. 

The opposite of my above statement, is don't hire someone to both test and remediate.  I get it, but lets pull the layers of the onion back.  One, if you feel like you are being sold a service, you likely are. 

Professionals don't sell, they provide objective data and allow you to make an informed decision.  Nothing is free, a free mold inspection has a hidden cost, which is being sold a remediation that may not be needed, maybe over priced and typically will be needed to make up for the free inspection.  Sorry folks you get what you pay for.

 

Black Mold is a Scam

Don't buy into black mold.  Black mold is not a mold, its a color but it is also a sales word use to scare people (you have the black mold).   If you get pitched with scare tactics, you are getting sold. 

Quick story, I mold inspected a basement for a young couple buying the house.  There was mold throughout the basement, mold was present due to a couple issues.   After buying the home, the couple was planning on making a part of the basement an exercise room for the wife, who also had an asthma issue.   Another another area was going to be a play room for kids (it was a descent size basement).  One of the kids had asthma.    Again the basement had heavy growth throughout the space, I don't scare clients, I inform and make calm statements. After the inspection I explained what I saw, afterwards the couple said "so the mold is not that bad, we don't need to do anything"?  This was a lightbulb moment, my calm statements lulled them into not seeing what I was seeing.  I had to switch gears and walk them around again and show them that mold was present (white greyish in color, no black).  I had to clearly say the mold was heavy and worse than a lot of sites I inspect, mold remediation was 100% needed and at a minimum the wife and child would be at risk due to their health issues.  The wife in particular as she would be doing cardio in a basement (not a lot of fresh air) just sucking in the spores.  They remediated, but I learned I have to ask people to spit back out what they think I said or even wrote in a report.  

Mold inspections are a professional service and like any professional service there are fees involved.  These fees pay for the advice and paying protects your best interest as their are no hidden agendas to recoup money from doing something for free.

Call for Mold Questions.

Professional Advice 888-301-1050 for over 20 years. 


 

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Top 10 "Things to Know" prior to your oil tank removal.

Jul 27, 2021 10:59:00 AM / by David C Sulock posted in tank removal

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INTRODUCTION:

Our office gets a constant influx of calls from property owners who had an underground oil tank removed and ended up with issues from the company removing the tank (not Curren Environmental).  Tank issues include spills during the tank removal, permit issues or lack of obtaining permits,  no report included in the price and worst of all over the top expensive remediations that were not warranted. 

What you need to know before you remove your tank:

  1. Licensed Company. Did you know that an unlicensed company could remove your oil tank?  It is true, but it is always better to hire a firm that is licensed for Closure (removal) and Testing (Subsurface).  Some companies have only one of the two required certifications.  If you hire the firm that can only remove and not test, you will have issues if remediation is needed, as they will have to subcontract services.  Hiring a licensed firm ensures that you are dealing with a firm that is capable of performing the tank removal through to completion.

  2. Permits. Every tank removal requires a permit from the local construction office.   Each permit has a fee, while you may not know the exact cost of the fee - you need to be made aware of the fee.  The company who removes the tank (assuming you hired a licensed and insured firm) should always apply for the permit themselves. If a property owner applies for the permit, they are taking on the responsibility of ensuring everything is performed to code.  Property owners are neither licensed nor insured and do not have the knowledge on tank issues to assume that liability.

  3. Tank removal costs. On average, removing an oil tank can cost between $1,200.00 and $2,000.00.  What makes a tank removal more costly is the work involved. Larger tanks cost more.  Tanks that are harder to access such as under decks or beneath asphalt/concrete can cost more.  That said, you get what you pay for has never been more true, choosing the lowest price can cause you to sacrifice quality.  Many firms lure people in with a low cost for removal knowing that a remediation of a tank leak can be between $5,000.00 to $15,000.00 (on average).  Ensuring they get to remove the tank means they have a better chance at recouping monies by remediating the tank leak.  Sometimes selling remediation services when they are not necessary.

  4. Did my oil tank leak? This is the Number One question Curren Environmental is asked.   Tank removal companies can be very vague in explaining how they know your tank leaked.  To understand how to know 100% is to know the difference between qualitative and quantitative.                   

    1. Qualitative data is the description of data in a language rather than in numbers. This method does not measure the characteristics but describes them. Meaning, the tank removal companies sees a hole in the tank or smells the soil and it smells like oil or not, so the company says the tank leaked and you have to remediate it.  To put it more plainly in lieu of having your cholesterol tested the doctor guesses by looking at you.  

    2. Quantitative data is data that can be numerically counted it deals with measurements like height, length, volume, area, humidity, temperature, etc. Quantitative data would be testing of the soil after a tank is removed so you know 100% what the concentration of oil is in the soil.   Again, it can be compared to having your cholesterol level tested by getting blood work done.   Bottom line if you don’t test the soil, you don’t know if you need to remediate or not.

  5. Assume your tank is not leaking. This is the backbone of most every tank removal contract Curren Environmental reviews. To be fair, it is an assumption and possible, but there is always a chance that the tank is leaking, even if it is a 1% chance, don’t you think that the tank contract should include a line item discussing what would happen if indeed the tank did leak.

  6. No soil sampling listed in the tank removal contract. If your contract has no reference for soil sampling, be concerned, because when the tank is removed you will be told that they just know you have to remediate. Holed Tank with writing.jpg

  7. NJDEP reporting and obtaining a Case Number. Did you know that if the removal company sees a hole in the tank after the tank was removed they must call the NJDEP and get the property placed on the Known Contaminated Site List?

  8. What level of oil requires remediation? If you have a tank leak, only testing of the soil will determine if remediation is required.  Your tank contract should include what the testing standards are, meaning how much oil is permissible in the ground.  Did you know that anything above 5,100 ppm for EPH demands remediation in New Jersey?  Did you know anything below 1,000 ppm for EPH is fine?  Did you know that if you are between 1,000 ppm and 5,100 ppm EPH you might not have to remediate (further testing is necessary)?

  9. If the oil Tank Leaked now what? What if your tank leaked – what does the company do now? The company you contracted with should delineate, which means obtain soil samples to determine the size (area) of the leak. Not just guess the size so that they can make more money off the remediation.  In short, oil will spread out when it leaks from a tank, you need to obtain soil samples BOTH in and around the tank location to create a 3D model of the plume of contamination.  The company calculates the area length, height and width to determine how much soil is necessary to be removed.  If you do not follow this step you are more or less guessing.

  10. Do you due diligence. Get more than one quote. Make sure the company has been in business for a long time and that they do not work from their home address or a PO Box.  Everything must be in writing.


Fill out the form below for your Oil Tank Removal Check List.

Contact Curren for more information regarding your tank removal at info@CurrenEnvironmental.com or call 856-858-9509.  


 

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Tank Scans & Tank Sweeps in Delaware

Jul 12, 2021 8:43:14 AM / by David C Sulock

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

We have recently been getting a large influx of calls from buyers in Delaware concerned about the need to perform a tank sweep.    Delaware famously known as the First State has a long history of oil heat.  In Delaware as in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, many property owners filled their oil tanks in place when they stopped using the tank.    Its basic math that when you convert from oil to natural gas or propane or even electric you are spending money.  You would spend even more money if you do something with the oil tank, so many people just cut off the pipes to the buried tank to more or less remove any evidence of oil heat.   Some filled the tank with sand, fewer still actually removed and tested the tank.  The most money spent with an oil tank?  Well that is when the tank leaks as the photo below shows you how bad a tank leak can get.

why tank sweeps are so important

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 likely 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.

 

Fact

After over two decades (1998) of performing tank sweeps, it is not uncommon that after we find a tank, and the property owner SUDDENLY has an epiphany about the tank.  They suddenly remember that there was a tank on the property when they bought it and they even have paperwork for it.  Our clients  are almost always taken back but this sudden revelation of information.  The common denominator is the seller was hoping we wouldn't find the oil tank.

People hide tank because they bought the home not understanding the liability associated with a leaking tank.  Delaware is just becoming more aware of tanks as an issue as the migration of buyers from New Jersey and New York who have first hand knowledge of oil tank leaks.   Bottom line tanks rust in any state.

leaking tanks delaware

 

The laws in Delaware 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.

 

Tank Sweep Questions?

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.

GPR scan is the best tank sweep 

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.

buried oil tank GPR tank sweep

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.

best tank sweep

 

abandoned oil tank found via GPR

Tank sweeps with GPR

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 sweeps with GPR

 

Tank Sweep Questions?

 

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Why a Phase I is important.

Jun 21, 2021 1:45:00 PM / by David C Sulock

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A Phase I ESA (Environmental Site Assessment) is historical research to evaluate a property (typically commercial) for past uses of the site that could have had an environmental impact to the property.

What is the difference between a Phase I and Phase II?

  • A Phase I is research to find Areas of Concerns (AOCs) or Recognized Environmental Conditions (RECs).  In short, a Phase I is meant to identify a particular and/or potential environmental impairment on a property.  The Phase I protects a buyer from the property's historical uses.
  • A Phase II tests for the risk found in the Phase I.
  • A Phase II, well that remediates the issue found via a Phase I or II.

No you can't jump to a Phase II and not do a phase I, as you may missing something.

In today's world, we recycle and try to be as green as possible.  In the past, that was not always the case.  The photo below is a downtown area at the turn of the century.  You see a trolley car, a horse and carriage and what looks to be a model T ford.  My point is what an area looks like today can be very different than what was present 100 yeas ago.

why a phase I is important

Take the photo below, it shows a historic filling station (gas station) from the 1920's.  The site today is far removed from that use, but if you had a site where you didn't perform a Phase I, would you know the property was  gas station in the 1920's?   Probably not.  If you bought the property without doing a Phase I and later on contamination is found, once you buy the property you buy the environmental problem that comes with it. 

the need for a phase I

The document below is from a Phase I, as you can see this is another property that was a gas station, the two circles in the image with the letters GTS stands for Gasoline Storage Tanks.

 

phase II

 

You would have to do a Phase II, GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar)/Tank Scan survey to see if these tanks are still present.

 Many a Phase I leads to a Phase II which is testing, meaning the Phase I finds a potential issue that has to be verified as an issue or not.  Pertaining to suspect buried tanks, a Ground Penetrating Radar  (GPR) Survey is a common Phase II activity.  The idea of using GPR to scan for tanks is that if the tank is present and the owner didn't know it was there, allows the buyer to request the tank be removed and tested when found. 

Phase II Ground Penetrating Radar Survey

The image on the screen below is that of a buried petroleum storage tank, which the owner of the property was not aware existed.  But now they do and the tank needs to be removed and tested and no the current owner never did any research before buying the property.

The image below shows a tank found from a GPR survey

Phase II GPR survey

 

What happens when a Phase II finds an issue? You do a Phase III, which remediates the issue.  In this case the UST was removed.

 

New Jersey Tank Removal 

Need  expert advice on Phase I, Phase II and Phase III's? Want a company that does thousands of GPR surveys? Call Curren Today.  
Call Curren Today Or 
Phase I, II, III Questions? Click Here

 

 

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Why do you have to remove a filled in place oil tank?

Jun 16, 2021 8:30:00 AM / by David C Sulock

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Why do you have to remove previously filled in place oil tanks?

A small tank leak can range between $8,000 and $15,000, which is an expense and a liability home buyers do not want to assume.  The risk associated with a tank leak drives tanks to be removed and tested, regardless if a tank was previously filled in place.   The photo below was over $140,000.00

IMG_5250

Why were oil tanks neglected?

When property owners converted from oil to natural gas thousands of dollars were spent, and many property owners didn't have the extra monies to remove the oil tank.  So many properties that were converted to gas, simply had the oil tank piping removed and the tank left in the ground.    Some property owners (likely because the permit for conversion required something be done with the oil tank) had the tank filled in place.   This was common 20 plus years ago and may have been done by the HVAC company as part of the package deal of installing the new HVAC equipment.  The rub was the HVAC company was not an environmental company and most certainly did not test the tank.

People also didn't want to find a tank leak by removing the tank and seeing holes in the tank.    The photo below shows a tank that has been excavated, cut open enough to allow human entry for cleaning.  At this point, the tank could be either removed or filled in place.  It's actually more effort to fill in place since you have to pack the fill material through the opening, ensuring that entire tank void is filled.  The photo is a perfect example of  a tank that would better off in the long run being removed, but the temptation of filling in place and never finding a problem is a huge attraction.

nj tank removal

Fast forward to today and that tank is getting removed.

Removing filled in place oil tank

Today when selling a home with a tank,  these filled in place tanks are getting removed.  The common response we get from the tank owners is the regulations changed since the tank was filled in place which is why the tank must be removed.  They are 100% wrong, filling a tank in place has always been legal.    Today's buyers want assurances the tank did not leak.

 

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Second Opinions on Mold in a home.

Jun 7, 2021 1:00:00 PM / by David C Sulock

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Mold is a serious concern, it can have adverse health effects to people who are sensitive and exposed to mold.   Sometimes, you can see the mold, sometimes you can smell it, sometimes both and sometimes you just suspect mold (maybe you do not feel well). In all these situations a professional mold evaluation is warranted.  What is a Professional when it comes to mold is subjective.

The  photo below is normal and unusual.   This is an unfinished attic with a drop down set of stairs located in the primary bedroom closet.   Mold grew with reckless abandon in the space.  The wife of the couple who owned the home was having issues they suspected those issue were due to mold, since there was an exposure pathway in their bedroom. Curren Environmental inspected and tested and sure enough, mold was impacting the bedroom from the attic.    The remediation of this area included remediating the mold but also correcting the cause of the mold.

mold 2nd opinion

So the solution was two fold, removing the mold and fixing the cause of the mold which was actually three different causes.  This was easy as we have seen it before.

Now there are way to many people who talk the "mold talk" but don't quite know what they are doing.  Its pretty easy to sample mold either on a surface or in the air.  The hard part is understanding the test results.

It is all to common that people have an inspection with testing, and the lab report is confusing to all parties, including the people who did the testing.  We know this because we are mold experts and we get calls and emails everyday asking our opinion regarding test reports.   It is a real problem that people who paid for testing can’t get a straight answer on what the testing means.  From the number of calls we get throughout the United States we can see this is a widespread issue.    It doesn't help that there are no federal regulations, with only 11 states having actual mold regulations,  people can get easily confused regarding mold.

The fact is many people involved with mold do not know what they are talking about  and that only compounds the problem.

Unfortunately, the consumer is partially to blame.  People want suspect mold evaluated, so they hire someone without a clear description of what they were going to do to evaluate for mold or how the mold testing will be interpreted.    I have read thousands of reports and the vast majority of the reports are very vague regarding the test results and cause.     When I have inquired by calling the people who did the inspection and testing regarding what they were trying to say, the common response is the report is vague on purpose.

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The rub is people spend money for mold testing and or evaluation and then need a 2nd opinion because the first opinion is so vague.  The 2nd opinion is needed because the first opinion is unclear, they don’t agree with the opinion or lastly there is no opinion just lab data.  

This is where Curren Environmental comes in, we have tested and evaluated thousands of sites.  We can peer review your data.  A peer review is a 2nd set of eyes evaluating data and providing an unbiased interpretation.   You are going to spend a couple hundred dollars on average to have your testing reviewed, but the piece of mind is immeasurable.    

What are common mold second opinions?

  •  We review lab data where a company says mold remediation is warranted and it isn't.
  •  Areas have to undergo a second mold remediation  because the the prior mold work was done improperly.
  • We find mold where others didn't

Fact

Too many people involved with mold want to put money in their pocket rather than working in the best interest of the client.

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Tank Sweep Differences

Jun 1, 2021 10:45:00 AM / by David C Sulock posted in OIl Tank Sweeps

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People are different. Homes are different. Not all cars are the same. 

What about Tank Sweeps?

The generic term, "Tank Sweep" gives you two distinct approaches to perform a sweep and the quality level are polar opposites.

First off, the purpose of having an Oil Tank Sweep done in NJ, PA and DE is to detect for the presence of an intact, underground oil tank. The reason you want to identify an underground tank before you buy a property, is to avoid the potential of paying for a contamination cleanup from a leaking tank. In our world a small clean up is under $15,000, more extensive cleanup start around $75,000 and go into the $100,000's.     You can see why a quality tank sweep is important. 

So when you are faced with tens of thousands of dollars to address a tank leak, go with the best approach which is using GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar) for a tank sweep.  The technology will cost you a few hundred dollars more than someone using a metal detector, but the quality of the two approaches is night and day.  

GPR sends radio waves in the ground which can reflect off of a metallic object giving the technician an image.   Certain images are tanks, some are pipes, some are debris.

IMG_8520

 

There are dozens of people who have bought an $800.00 metal detector and work out of their home and do tank scans.   If only a tank was the only metal on a property, then these people would be super geniuses, but alas, metal is abundant in the ground, naturally in some soils, rocks, pipes, rebar, buried debris, above ground what do you have that doesn't have metal?  The point being you can't use cheap technology for such an important service.

To top it off, these one person bands,  as they don't remove tanks, so if you find a tank, now you have to find a company to remove it,  In a real estate transaction delays are bad.

The icing on the cake is we have been hired to remove tank found by the metal detector sweep person to only dig up not an oil tank. Really, we find no tank about 65% of the time. 

Five Tank Sweep Tips.

1. Ask the selling about prior oil heat.  In NJ they are supposed to disclose it, in PA they are not.  In every state we work the owners have  not been 100% honest with a tank disclosure.   I say this because we do thousands of tank sweep, tens of thousands tank removals so we touch more properties than pretty much any company in the area (we have been do this work for decades.)

How are owners not honest about an oil tank?  Well after we find one, many owners suddenly have tank paperwork or now remember yes there was a tank on the property.  This is 100% accurate statement

So always ask in writing about what they know regarding prior oil usage at the site.  People lie about USTS (Underground Storage Tanks) and ASTs (Aboveground Storage Tanks).   

2.  Look at the neighborhood, are there houses with oil heat?  Bingo do a scan.

3. Don't ignore ASTs (Aboveground Oil Tanks), many AST's replaced USTs.

4. If a property had a tank removed, don't assume that was the only tank.  Do a tanks weep, many sites had 2 tanks.

5. Check with the town regarding any permits for tank replacement, filling or removal.

What if a tank sweep finds an oil tank?

At Curren we provide a cost to remove and test the tank.  Tested clean tanks are not a problem. Many owners will hire us because they need to address the tank they didn't know about and well, we do this a lot, are competitive,  experienced and work in our client's best interest.  If we can save a client money we do, its in our DNA.

That said, don't run away from a property after you find  a tank (the next property may have one), rewove and test it.  Of course if the property owner refuses to address the tanks, well in that case, run away (walking isn't fast enough).

Bottom line when you find a tank, you want it removed and tested, and remediated if it leaks.  It truly doesn't matter to us if we remove the found tank or not.  Hey many property owners are mad we found a tank, true. We just want the tank removed and tested so our client doesn't have to deal with that expense. 

 

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Seller and Buyer’s perspective differ on “as is” property sale.

Apr 21, 2021 1:31:15 PM / by David C Sulock posted in mold inspections, tanks weep

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Seller and Buyer’s perspective differ on “as is” property sale.

People think when they advertise “as is”, buyers will understand that “you get what you get, and you don’t get upset” and the buyer will in turn, not to ask for repairs. Truth be told every sale is “as is” until the buyer has professional inspections performed. Buyers pay for professional inspections of the home and want things repaired, termite, electric, HVAC, mold you name it. Curren receives phone calls regarding an “as is” sale because the buyer wants the mold remediated or the tank removed.   Bottom line an as is sale means different things to different people.

As consumer we are conditioned to receive good service and not buying a headache. If your restaurant meal is not up to expectations, you say something. You buy cars with warranties and will still be miffed if you have to take the car in for warranty repair. Your new technological device not working? You call the help line. Sorry we are used to a certain quality of service (QOS) and products that don’t need repairs in most everything, and buying a home is no different.

An As Is buyer will ask for repairs

On a level playing field a buyer walks through a home with their eyes open, looking to see if the home and property are what they are looking for.  When an offer is made the buyer has not Kicked the Tires, so to speak, that happens with inspections.   A buyer can see the kitchen is outdated, yard needs a fence and a patio, they will not ask for these items to be addressed because you don’t need a trained eye to see those types of flaws during the walk through of the home.   What the buyer cannot see or is not looking for will turn into a request for repair. Once the buyer pays for a professional inspection, such as a home inspections, mold inspections, termite, tank sweeps, and radon, the buyer decides that “as is” is not acceptable. This happens time and time again. The bottom line is that the seller will get the mold and/or tank addressed but will bemoan that they had to fix termite damage, install a radon system, replace the sub pump, fix the leak in the crawl space.

mold found in a house

Pro Tip    Disclose What you know

Let’s explain the best “as is” situation. The seller decides to pay for their own home inspection prior to putting their house on the market. This report is to share with the buyers. This makes a situation where it is tough for a buyer to dispute the “as is” sale. The seller is not hiding the flaws of their property, but instead, letting the buyers know exactly what they are purchasing in terms of problems. Now, many buyers will still do their own home inspection and reply with their list of repair items that may or may not have been on the seller’s report. Environmental issues such as mold and tanks are not covered under a typical home inspection so can be a surprise to the seller. What you do not know will hurt you as a buyer when it comes to mold and tank environmental issues on a property. By hurt I mean an expense not in your budget.  

as is home for sale

 

Pro Tip Negotiating As Is Repairs

When negotiating the repairs, Curren Environmental has seen mold remediation costs split between the parties or a credit provided to a buyer. Oil tanks on the other hand, would normally be removed by the seller since there is a chance that the underground oil tank leaked which can add thousands of dollars to the cost. Bottom line when tanks leak, it may be a costly problem to remediate the contaminated soils.  Mold could cost you a few thousand dollars not tens of thousands of dollars.

The term “as is”, when it comes to selling a property may have two different definitions, one for the buyer and one for the seller.

 

as is sale

 

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