Friday, January 30, 2015

What do you look for when hiring a Home Inspector... or Contractor.. or any Service Company?


The Best Companies to work with are the ones that actually CARE about their Clients/Customers, outside of Selling the a Product or Service

Pro Chek Home Inspection Services has been servicing the needs of Home Buyer & Sellers throughout Connecticut and New York for more than 30 years. Pro Chek takes great Pride in the Services that we provide to our Clients and we truly ENJOY being a part f one of the biggest decisions and largest investment of our Client’s Lives. Pro Chek has structured itself to be unlike any other Home Inspection Company around and from the first phone call or email, out Clients realize that Pro Chek is not the average Home Inspection Company. All of us at Pro Chek are well aware that our Competitors also care about the Client also, but again, we try to take the extra step and go above an beyond to make sure our job is not over when the inspection ends.  Our Staff is always available to assist our Clients before, during and after their inspection, and also up to the day of the closing and even after our Clients have moved into their new home.

Below are some of the examples that show Pro Chek Home Inspection Services truly does care about our Clients, from the initial phone call to years after their original inspection with us.

Complimentary Final Walk Through Inspection (Pre – Closing Final Walk Through)

Complimentary 11th Month Warranty Inspection for Newly Built Homes (prior to the Builders 12 Month Warranty expiration)

Courtesy Service Calls back to the home at a later date to:
1.       Inspect the roof (if the roof was snow covered during the time of the original inspection)
2.       Test the Central Air Conditioning – if the temperature was below 60 degrees at the time of the original inspection
3.       Re-Inspect the Attic or Basement due to Clutter or stored items
*Please Note that there are times when some of the Courtesy Service Calls listed above can be performed at the Final Walk Through Inspection, which may be necessary due to scheduling conflicts, etc.

Preventative Maintenance Tips and Recommendations & Referrals of Service Companies that are Honest and Reliable and share our commitment to Superior Customer Service

Available for follow discussion regarding all reports once they have been reviewed by our Clients

Available 7 days a week, 365 days per year and able to schedule on demand inspections for the situations that require an immediate reaction.

Chris Sudano
Pro Chek Home Inspection Services
Office:  203-830-4500

*Inspect with the Best - Pro Chek Home Inspection Services*



Friday, January 23, 2015

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Westchester County Private Well Testing Law




WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NEW YORK - PRIVATE WELL WATER TESTING LAW
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 Applicability & General Requirements
1. What does the Private Well-Water Testing Law require?
2. What types of properties are subject to the testing requirement?
3. When in the real-estate sales process does testing have to happen? When the contract is signed?
What about rentals? What about new wells or wells that have not been in use?
4. When do the testing requirements take effect?
5. How much will the testing cost? Who pays for the testing?
6. What will happen if the testing is not done? Will the property sale be void?
7. My property has public water for drinking, and also an on-site well used only for other purposes
such as lawn watering. Does that well have to be tested?
8. Does the testing requirement apply to drinking water wells at newly constructed residences?
9. What contaminants must the well water be tested for?
10. What is the difference between a primary and secondary contaminant?
11. Are there additional regulations that apply to the Private Well-Water Testing Law?
12. Where can I find a copy of the Law and the Westchester County Heath Department Rules &
Regulations For Private Well water Testing?
13. If testing reveals that the well water system does not meet drinking water quality standards for
one or more of the contaminants tested, does treatment have to be installed?
14. If treatment is currently installed, does my well still need to be tested?
15. If treatment is currently installed, is this treatment acceptable when water testing does not meet
drinking water quality standards for one or more primary contaminants?


Q1: What does the Private Well-Water Testing Law, Westchester County Local Law 7 of 2007, Laws of
Westchester County § 707.01 et seq. (PWTL) require?
A1: The Law applies to properties served by private wells used for drinking water, and requires that
private well water systems be tested for primary and secondary contaminants upon the sale of any
real property, and for leased real property by November 19, 2008 (or within twelve (12) months from
the date that any real property becomes subject to a leasehold if a lessor begins leasing the real
property after the law’s effective date (i.e., November 19, 2007)) and at least once every five (5)
years thereafter. The Law also requires that all new private wells, prior to first use, and all private
wells not in use as a potable water supply for a period of five (5) years must be tested. The results of
the water test must be delivered to both the buyer and seller, or in the case of a leased property, to
the lessee(s). The law contains provisions on the rights and responsibilities of parties whenever
testing reveals that the well water system does not meet drinking water quality standards for one or
more of the contaminants tested , and sets forth the procedural requirements placed on the parties to
remediate or correct the condition to establish safe levels of contaminants. The Law does not apply to
a property served by a regulated Public Water Supply where the potable water supply system either
serves five or more properties or regularly serves an average of twenty-five (25) or more individuals
daily for at least sixty (60) days out of the year.
Q2: What types of properties are subject to the testing requirement?
A2: The Law covers SALES and LEASES of properties served by private wells, as well as properties
with NEW wells or wells that have not been in use for a period of five years. The law does not apply to
gifts of real property nor to transfers of property that occur by operation of law. The law also does not
apply to real property served by a public water system. Q3: When in the real-estate sales process does testing have to happen? When the contract is signed?
What about rentals? What about new wells or wells not in use?
A3: The Law requires the following:
• Upon the signing of a contract of sale for a property subject to the Law, the seller must
cause a water test to be conducted in the manner provided, and for at least the contaminants
required, by the Law.
• The lessor of real property served by a private well must test the well water: (1) by November
19, 2008; or (2) within twelve (12) months from the date that any real property becomes
subject to a leasehold if a lessor begins leasing the real property after the law’s effective date
(i.e., November 19, 2007)); and (3) at least once every five (5) years after the dates
established in (1) or (2) above Results must be provided to current lessees within (5) days of
receipt of water test results. Every time a rental property subject to the Law is leased, a
written copy of the most recent test results must be given to the lessee.
• All new wells, prior to first use must have the well water tested prior to use. All wells not in
use for a period of five (5) years are treated as new well and must be tested prior to use.
Q4: When do the testing requirements take effect?
A4: The effective date of the Law is Monday, November 19, 2007. Accordingly, on and after that
date, all sales of property served by private wells, all new wells and wells that have not been in use
for a period of five (5) years are subject to the Private Well-Water Testing Law and are required to
meet the testing requirements. Testing is not required for real estate transactions that were already
under contract before the statute went into effect (November 19, 2007). The testing requirement for
leased properties must be completed by: (1) November 19, 2008; or (2) within twelve (12) months
from the date that any real property becomes subject to a leasehold if a lessor begins leasing the real
property after the law’s effective date (i.e., November 19, 2007)); and (3) at least once every five (5)
years after the dates established in (1) or (2) above.
While testing is not required under the law for real estate transactions under contract prior to
November 19, 2007, the County Department of Health recommends that well water be tested in
connection with the real estate sale. This testing provides important water quality information that
people and their families should know.
Q5: How much will the testing cost? Who pays for the testing?
A5: Laboratories testing rates vary, depending on how hard it is to collect the sample, the location of
the property in relation to the lab, and other factors. The DOH estimates that the average price will be
between $400 and $450. In the case of the sale of real property, the seller is required to arrange and
pay for the cost of water testing. In the case of leased property, the lessor must obtain and pay for
the testing and provide the results to the tenant.
Q6: What will happen if the testing is not done? Will the property sale be void?
A6: Testing of your well water is important to your family's health. If testing is not done, you and
your family may face a health risk and not know it. While the property sale may not be void,
offenders may be subject to enforcement action by the County Department of Health.
Q7: My property has public water supply for drinking, and also an on-site well used only for other
purposes such as lawn watering. Does that well have to be tested?
A7: No. Only drinking water wells are subject to the law. Q8: Does the testing requirement apply to newly constructed residences?
A8: Yes, the law applies to any drinking water well if the well is newly constructed and to any drinking
water well at existing residences if the property is being sold or leased.
Q9: What contaminants must the well water be tested for?
A9: All wells must be tested for the following primary contaminants: total coliform bacteria; nitrate,
arsenic, lead, all primary organic contaminants (POCs) including in Part 5 of the New York State
Sanitary Code, vinyl chloride; and methyl-tertiary-butyl-ether (MTBE); and the following secondary
contaminants: pH, iron, manganese, sodium and chloride. If sample tests positive for total coliform
bacteria, a test must also be conducted for either fecal coliform or Eschericia coli (e-coli). Appendix A
of the Westchester County Health Department Rules & Regulations contains a table showing all
contaminants that must be tested with their corresponding Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL),
sources in drinking water, health effects, and recommended treatment.
Q10: What is the difference between a primary and secondary contaminant?
A10: A primary parameter or contaminant is a term that describes the maximum contaminant level
set by the New York State Department of Health for contaminants such as bacteria, nitrate and
arsenic. Primary contaminants impact sanitary water quality. Wells that fail the primary contaminant
tests pose a health risk. A secondary parameter or contaminant generally refers to contaminants
related to aesthetic water quality, such as iron, chlorides, and manganese, and also include sodium
and pH.
Q11: Are there additional regulations that apply to the Private Well-Water Testing Law?
A11: The Law requires that the Westchester County Department of Health promulgate Rules &
Regulations to supplement the Law which may be found at www.westchestergov.com/health
Q12: Where can I find a copy of the Law and the Westchester County Heath Department Rules &
Regulations For Private Well water Testing?
A12: Both the Law and the Rules & Regulations may be found at the Westchester County Department
of Health website www.westchestergov.com/health.
Q13: If testing reveals that the well water system does not meet drinking water quality standards for
one or more of the contaminants tested, does treatment have to be installed?
A13: Treatment must be installed only when one or more primary contaminants do not meet drinking
water quality standards following any other remedial actions taken. If there are only secondary
contaminants that do not meet drinking water quality standards then treatment is not required.
Section 3.0 of the Westchester County Health Department Rules & Regulations provides details on
required remediation and treatment.
Q14: If treatment is currently installed, does my well still need to be tested?
A14: Yes.
Q15: If treatment is currently installed, is this treatment acceptable when water testing does not
meet drinking water quality standards for one or more primary contaminants?
A15: Maybe. Appropriate remediation and treatment measures are summarized in Section 3 and
Appendix A of the Westchester County Health Department Rules & Regulations. Collection & Analysis of Samples
1. Who must collect the sample? May I do it myself?
2. May a real estate agent collect water samples for analysis?
3. Where can I find a list of certified laboratories ?
4. Where in my house should the water sample be collected? What if I have a water softener or
other treatment unit installed? Is the collection location the same for lead analysis?
5. For lead analysis, what is the difference between a first draw sample and a flushed water sample?
6. Previously, I had water testing done for other reasons. May I use those test results to comply
with the PWTL? For example, may I use test results from four months ago?
7. Can more than one laboratory be used for the testing?
8. May I test my well for additional parameters not required in the PWTL or its rules and regulations?
9. Who pays for the sampling and testing?
Q1: Who must collect the sample? May I do it myself?
A1: The sample must be collected by either an employee of a laboratory certified by the New York
State Department of Health to test for drinking water contaminants; or by an authorized
representative of such a laboratory. See the PWTL which may be found at the Westchester County
Department of Health website www.westchestergov.com/health for definitions of "certified laboratory"
and "authorized representative."
Q2: May a real estate agent collect water samples for analysis?
A2: Unless the real estate agent is an employee or authorized representative of a "certified
laboratory," as defined in the Law, the real estate agent may NOT collect samples for well water
testing.
Q3: Where can I find a list of certified laboratories?
A3: The list of certified laboratories registered with the Westchester County Health Department to
conduct water tests pursuant to the Law may be found at the Westchester County Department of
Health website www.westchestergov.com/health
Q4: Where in my house should the water sample be collected? What if I have a water softener or
other treatment unit installed? Is the collection location the same for lead analysis?
A4: The water sample must be collected on untreated water. If the plumbing in the house or building
has a water softener, water filter, or other treatment unit installed, the water treatment system must
be disconnected or otherwise disabled prior to the collection of the water sample or the sample must
be collected before the water goes through the treatment system. If there is no treatment unit
installed, the water may be taken from any cold water, non-aerated spigot or tap that draws from, or
feeds water to, the potable water system of the property. In the case of a new well construction and
installation where there is no spigot or tap on the property, the sample may be collected directly at
the wellhead (raw water sample). For lead analysis, two water samples must be collected: a first
draw tap sample and a flushed water sample. Q5: For lead analysis, what is the difference between a first draw sample and a flushed water sample?
A5: Under the Law, a “first draw tap sample” means, for the purposes of lead analysis, a one liter
sample of water collected from a cold water tap after the water has stood in the plumbing system for
at least six hours and is collected without flushing the tap. A “flushed water sample” means water
that has been taken from a cold water tap after the water has been allowed to flush through the
plumbing system and the tap for at least two minutes or until the water changes to a cold
temperature, whichever is later.
Q6: Previously, I had water testing done for other reasons. May I use those test results to comply
with the Law? For example, may I use test results from four months ago?
A6: If the sample was collected and tested in accordance with all the requirements of the Law and the
Rules and Regulations promulgated thereunder, the test results may be used to comply with the Law
for one year after the sample was collected, except for the coliform results, which may be used for six
months after sample collection. Of course, if a new well were installed, the test results from the old
well could not be used.
Q7: Can more than one laboratory be used for the testing?
A7: Yes, as long as all the laboratories are certified by the New York State Department of Health for
the analysis of the particular parameters the laboratories are analyzing. It is important to note that
the party collecting the sample must be an employee or authorized representative of a certified
laboratory registered with the Westchester County Health Department to conduct water tests pursuant
to the Law. The list of certified laboratories registered with the Westchester County Health Department
to conduct water tests pursuant to the Law may be found at the Westchester County Department of
Health website www.westchestergov.com/health However, the Law requires that one lab coordinate
and submit all the test results electronically to the Westchester County Health Department.
Q8: May I test my well for additional parameters not required in the Law or the Rules and
Regulations?
A8: Yes. The Law and the Rules & Regulations set minimum parameters. Anyone is free to test for
more contaminants. If you choose to have additional tests, the Westchester County Health
Department recommends using a laboratory certified by the New York State Department of Health for
the analysis of that parameter in drinking water. Results of other parameters tested, that are not
required to be tested under the Law or the Rules and Regulations, shall not be reported by the
Certified Laboratory to the Department. However, the public is advised to contact the Department
should there be any questions regarding the results of other parameters tested.
Q9: Who pays for the testing?
A9: When there is a sale of property, the costs for testing for the parameters set forth in the law are
borne by the seller. Where the parties to a sale of property test for additional contaminants not
included in the Law, the costs for those additional parameters are negotiated between the buyer and
the seller. When property is leased, the lessor must obtain and pay for the testing and provide the
results to the tenant. Interpreting Test Results & Subsequent Actions (including treatment)
1. Will the lab tell me if my water is clean?
2. If the well water does not meet one or more of the drinking water standards, does that mean it's
not safe to drink?
3. If the well water does not meet one or more of the drinking water standards, can the property
sale be completed? Does the water have to be treated before the property is sold or rented?
4. If testing reveals that the well water system does not meet drinking water quality standards for
one or more of the primary contaminants tested, who will pay to have the water treated?
5. If a well fails to meet one or more of the standards, will the County DOH make that information
public?
6. What are the types of home drinking water treatment devices available, and which are generally
effective for specific contaminants?
7. What is the current effective Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for Arsenic in potable well
water?
8. What can I do to reduce my exposure to arsenic?
9. If the well water does not meet one or more of the drinking water standards, what type of
assistance from the County or the State is available for treatment?
10. What happens if a water test discloses a primary parameter water test failure and the premises is
occupied as a residence?
11. Who is responsible for correcting or remediating the condition after a water test discloses a
primary parameter water test failure?
Q1: Will the lab tell me if my water is clean?
A1: The laboratory is required to report the test results to the person who requested the test, on a
Private Well Water Test Reporting Form (pdf format) provided by the County Department of Health. If
all analytical results are below the applicable maximum contaminant levels, guidelines and within the
optimal pH range, the statement shall read: “All analytical results meet primary and secondary
contaminant standards for drinking water.” If the analytical result for one or more primary
parameters exceeds maximum contaminant levels, the statement shall read: “One or more of the
analytical results do not meet primary water quality standards for drinking water.” If the analytical
result for one or more secondary parameters exceeds the guidelines or optimal range, the statement
shall read: “One or more of the analytical results do not meet secondary contaminant standards for
drinking water.”
Q2: If the well water does not meet one or more of the drinking water standards, does that mean it's
not safe to drink?
A2: Not necessarily. Some of the standards are based on aesthetics (secondary standards), while
some are based on long-term health effects (primary standards). The fact that water tests above the
standard would not necessarily mean that the water is unsafe to drink. For example, high levels of
iron (secondary standard) in the water are generally not dangerous but do give the water an
unpleasant taste. On the other hand, the presence of nitrates (primary standard) above the MCL may
cause a condition called blue baby syndrome in infants. Q3: If the well water does not meet one or more of the drinking water quality standards, can the
property sale be completed? Does the water have to be treated before the property is sold or rented?
A3: The law does not prohibit the sale of property if the water fails one or more primary parameter
drinking water standards. The seller and purchaser may agree, in writing, to consummate the sale
under terms negotiated by the parties and the purchaser shall provide any appropriate remediation
and treatment measures as required by the Law and the Rules & Regulations. The seller also has the
option of correcting the condition or canceling the contract. Treatment must be installed only when
one or more primary contaminants do not meet drinking water quality standards following any other
remedial actions taken. If there are only secondary contaminants that do not meet drinking water
quality standards then treatment is not required.
Q4: If testing reveals that the well water system does not meet drinking water quality standards for
one or more of the primary contaminants tested, who will pay to have the water treated?
A4: In the case of the sale of real property, the seller is required to pay for the cost of water
treatment. However, the seller and purchaser may agree, in writing, to consummate the sale under
terms that the purchaser shall pay for the cost of the water treatment. In the case of leased property,
the lessor must pay for the cost of water treatment.
Q5: If a well fails to meet one or more of the standards, will County Department of Health make that
information public?
A5: No. A laboratory shall not release water test results to any person except the purchaser and seller
of the real property at issue, the lessor and lessee(s) of the real property at issue, any person
authorized by the purchaser, seller, lessor or lessee(s), as the case may be, the Department of Health,
or any person designated by court order. While the Department may make available to the public a
general compilation of water test results data arranged or identified by municipality or appropriate
geographic area therein, the information may not include names, specific addresses or location
information.
Q6: What are the types of home drinking water treatment devices available, and which are generally
effective for specific contaminants?
A6: Appendix A of the Rules & Regulations includes recommended treatment options. Information on
home water treatment systems and how to find vendors and manufacturers of such systems may be
found at the USEPA website http://www.epa.gov/safewater/faq/pdfs/fs_healthseries_filtration.pdf
Q7: What is the current effective Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for Arsenic in potable well
water?
A7: The current Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for Arsenic in potable water is 0.010 mg/L or 10
ug/L. This standard was set by the EPA to protect consumers from the effects of long-term, chronic
exposure to arsenic.
Q8: What can I do to reduce my exposure to arsenic?
A8: Because Arsenic occurs naturally in the environment and as a by-product of some agricultural
and industrial activities, it can enter drinking water through the ground or as runoff into surface water
sources. If your water contains high level of arsenic, treatment such as reverse osmosis filters or
activated alumina filters may be used to reduce the levels of arsenic in drinking water.
Q9: If the well water does not meet one or more of the drinking water standards, what type of
assistance from the County or the State is available for treatment?
A9: Generally, homeowners are responsible for installation and maintenance costs that are incurred
concerning their potable well water. Q10: What happens if a water test discloses a primary parameter water test failure and the premises
is occupied as a residence?
A10: In the event that any part of a residence is occupied at the time a water test discloses a
primary parameter water test failure or becomes occupied thereafter, the owner of the property shall
immediately provide potable water and continue to provide potable water until such time as the
condition is corrected or remediated.
Q11: Who is responsible for correcting or remediating the condition after a water test discloses a
primary parameter water test failure?
A11: Where a water test discloses a primary parameter water test failure with respect to the
reported presence of any primary parameter:
(1) For sales of real property:
(a) In the event that the seller elects to correct the condition, the seller shall remediate or
correct the condition within sixty (60) days or as soon as practicable; or
(b) In the event that the seller elects to cancel the contract of sale, and any part of the
residence is occupied at the time the test discloses a primary parameter water test failure or becomes
occupied thereafter, the seller shall remediate or correct the condition within sixty (60) days or as
soon as practicable; or
(c) In the event that the seller and purchaser agree to consummate the transfer, the
purchaser shall remediate or correct the condition within sixty (60) days of closing or as soon as
practicable.
(2) For leased residences, the lessor shall:
(a) In the case of a vacant residence, have the option of either correcting the condition at
his or her own cost and expense prior to renting the property or refraining from renting the property
until such time as the lessor either performs the necessary remediation or connects to the public
water supply.
(b) In the event that any part of a residence is rented or occupied, the lessor must
immediately provide potable water and within sixty (60) days, or as soon as is practicable, remediate
or correct the condition. Should the lessor refrain from performing the obligations created by the Law,
the lessee, in the event the property is rented, upon prior written notice to the lessor, may, at the
lessee’s personal expense, remediate the condition and obtain a subsequent test of the water and set
off the cost of such remediation and subsequent water test by a reduction in rent until the cost is
covered by such rental reduction.
(3) For new wells or wells not in use:
 (a) The well may not be used as a potable water supply until the condition is remediated
or corrected and a subsequent test establishes a safe level of contaminants. Upon remediation of the
condition, a subsequent water test must be conducted within thirty (30) days establishing a safe level
of contaminants.

To schedule the Westchester County Private Well Water Test at your home, prior to Listing/Selling your Home, please contact Pro Chek Home Inspection Services at #800-338-5050 or email us at christophersudano@prochek.com or info@prochek.com



What is the White Staining on My Chimney?

What is the White Staining on My Chimney?

Many homeowners just assume that this white discoloration is simply a sign of aging on a chimney. Nothing could be farther from the truth the white residue called efflorescence is actually a symptom of water leaking into your chimney system. This condition if left unchecked will cause premature aging and deterioration of the chimney structure for sure. Water and moisture are the biggest enemies of the structural integrity of your chimney.

What is Efflorescence? 
Efflorescence forms from soluble-solutions moving through masonry material and evaporating on the other side, leaving behind the salt residue. It then becomes a white crystallized or powdery substance found on the exterior of stone, block, or brick masonry. The substance forms as a result of excess water in the structure that after crystallizing takes on a fluffy or fuzzy form and coats the exterior of the stone over time.
The efflorescence is formed when problems occur with the chimney masonry which lets in excess water to the structure. This could include chimney material cracks, a chimney that has not been properly sealed or is missing a cap or other sealant. This defect allows rain water to seep into the brick or stone walls. As water moves through the wall, it dissolves salt particles naturally present in the masonry along the way. The water will then evaporate through the outside wall and leave behind the salt residue on the surface. These salt deposits create the white residue left on the chimney surface. While the salt deposits themselves are mostly an aesthetic problem and will not cause structural damage, they are a tell tale sign of excess water present within the structure. The visible salt residue is a sure sign of water leaking into the stone structure and if left alone, can cause serious damage to the structure. While the white salt on the surface is relatively easy to remove compared to other stains, further investigation must be done to stop the water leak at the origin before substantial damage to the structure is done.

3 Conditions Needed for Efflorescence to Exist
Without each of the following conditions, efflorescence will not occur.
1. Soluble-salts present within the masonry structure
2. Enough moisture to create a soluble-solution from the salts
3. A means for the salt to travel through the structure in order to evaporate on the exterior and leave behind the resulting crystallized efflorescence

Brown, Green, or Yellow Efflorescence
The most common form of efflorescence is the white powdery residue, but it can come in brown, green or yellow as well. The color of the stains depends on the types of salt found within the structure wall. Crystalline deposits from over twenty different compounds have been found on masonry walls. Efflorescence producing salts typically come from sulfates of sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and sometimes iron. The various colors come from different minerals. For example, molybdenum, magnesium compounds, and vanadium sometimes create a greenish colored stain. Manganese compounds can also create a brownish stain at times.
Protect Your Home from Efflorescence before it Appears
The best way to take care of efflorescence is to never get it! It is difficult to guarantee efflorescence will not later develop when building a chimney, but there are ways to lessen the chances of its occurrence. By taking away any one of the 3 conditions listed above, efflorescence will likely not take place. The most straight forward way to reduce the appearance of efflorescence is to use materials in the building process that do not contain large amounts of soluble salts, or those that contain low alkali. Proper drainage away from the structure will also serve to prevent efflorescence from occurring. Eliminating the source of the moisture will not allow the soluble-solution to form in the first place. Otherwise, brick sealants in the building process and before efflorescence has begun will prevent the deposits as well.

The Dangers Associated with Efflorescence

Efflorescence is not mold, although it is often mistaken for it. But the two household pests do have some common traits; both are caused by excess water. The wet conditions associated with efflorescence mean that the ideal climate for mold and other moisture related problems are present. Therefore, mold is commonly found along with efflorescence on the interior of the structure. Along with the removal of the white composites left behind from the efflorescence, the building where efflorescence is found should also be inspected for problem mold, allergens, and bacteria. Surfaces that contain organic material should also be closely examined. These include materials such as wood, painted surfaces, carpet, insulation and padding.
Most of the time harsh rain and winds will remove outdoor efflorescence on its own with normal weathering. And if this is not the case, or if the efflorescence is indoors, these deposits are relatively easy to wash off by hand (see the DIY guide below), but the problem will continue to reappear if the leak is not fixed at the source. The crack or missing part that let the water into the structure must be found and if there is not a place like this, the brick must be sealed so that moisture does not continue to permeate the stone.

To find the source of the excess moisture being let in, begin at the top of the chimney working your way down while looking for missing mortar, cracks, missing caps, bad flashing and anything else that looks in need of repair. If there are no obvious problems, then the excess moisture is most likely seeping in through the brick and the brick will then have to be sealed once the current efflorescence has been removed. Brick does not act like a wall against moisture, the material acts like a sponge so further protection may be necessary.

DIY Efflorescence Cleaning
When the weather outdoors does not take care of much of the unsightly white residue of the efflorescence, the underlying problem is still present and the stains will reoccur. If you have a severe case of efflorescence deposits on your hands, there are DIY instructions on several websites detailing the use of muriatic acid (very harsh chemical) diluted with water to remove the white stain coating from your chimney walls. There are also premixed solutions available for do-it-yourselfers to clean stained brick.
A chimney professional should inspect any chimney that has efflorescence to determine the extent of damage caused from the moisture that has been allowed to enter the brick and mortar. If the damage is minimal, the chimney may be able to be cleaned and then coated with a water resistant sealant to the protect the chimney. These waterproofing sealants provide an increased barrier against moisture, but are not a permanent solution especially if the condition has already damaged the brick and mortar.

Reference:  https://www.ctsweep.com/blog

Friday, January 2, 2015

Radon hazard during Winter Months


Old man winter is knocking at the door and he might be bringing radon with him. In homes that are located in cold weather environments, radon levels can increase during colder months. This often-overlooked issue with radon gas is potentially one of radon’s greatest threats.


If you are like me, you hunker down for the cold months. When not at work, you tend to spend more time in the house enjoying a book, catching your favorite sports event or watching a movie. The house is our safe haven from the harsh weather outside. But is it really that safe? Radon levels in many homes tend to be higher during the winter months. Here are a few of the reasons why:









1.    Greater stack effect can draw more radon into the home. During the winter, stack effect tends to be greater as the warm air within the house rises and escapes to the colder air outside. As air escapes, the house has to replace the air to equalize pressure. Many houses get new air through drafty doors and windows. Houses also get new air from the soil they are built upon. The air from the soil can be pulled in through cracks in the concrete, plumbing pipe penetrations, sump pump pits, floor drains, crawlspaces and any other areas that have contact with the soil. This new air that enters can contain radon gas.
2.    Greater concentrations of radon can enter the home during winter months. Radon enters the home from the soil below it but more radon escapes through the soil around the home and dilutes into the fresh outdoor air. During winter months, in cold climates, the ground in our yards can freeze and be covered with a layer of snow. This creates a blanket effect that can trap radon in the soil around the house. Since less radon in the soil is able to escape through the frozen ground in the yard, the house may be pulling in higher concentrations of it.
3.    Closed house conditions during the winter can keep radon gas levels from being diluted by fresh air. During warmer months some dilution can occur when you open the windows to bring fresh air in. During the winter the windows are usually shut to keep the house warm which can effect the concentration of radon in the house. Note: Opening windows can have the opposite effect by increasing the home’s stack effect and therefore pulling more radon in.