Synthetic stucco is quite different from historic stucco. Historic stucco is basically a plaster made with water, sand and lime. While the composition of stucco has changed over time, it has always been applied wet over a brick, stone or wood surface to form the visible outside layer of a wall.
Synthetic stucco is foam board and fiberglass mesh attached to a wall that is covered with a polymer-based material, which is then textured to look like historic stucco. It is technically known as an exterior insulation and finish system, or EIFS. It has been in use in Europe since the 1950s, and in the U.S. since the late ‘60s. It is often used on wood-framed houses.
Why is water damage a concern?
Any building material used on the exterior of residential homes will allow water or water vapor that finds its way inside to eventually escape back to the atmosphere. EIFS itself, however, blocks the movement of water and water vapor – it does not “breathe.” This, coupled with interior vapor barriers that are often required by building code, can lead to prolonged moisture intrusion and, eventually, rotting of materials.
Water can find its way inside through any cracks that have developed, or through any areas where the EIFS is jointed with a different material, such as door and window frames, or at the roof. If the EIFS continues below ground level, any cracks or openings in the finish will allow moisture, as well as wood-destroying organisms, such as termites, inside. When prolonged moisture intrusion of the wood behind the EIFS reaches 30%, rotting will occur.
Has water damage occurred or is it likely to occur?
A preliminary visual inspection may reveal if water damage is actively occurring, as well as whether it is likely to occur due to improperly installed synthetic stucco. There have been many reported cases of EIFS manufacturer installation instructions not being followed correctly by builders, leading to problems. It’s a good idea for inspectors to understand some of the methods of installation so that they can check some likely areas of moisture intrusion.
A few places to start visual inspection include:
• Ground contact: EIFS should not continue down a wall into the ground. It should terminate no less than 6 inches from finished ground level. The bottom lip of the EIFS should also be properly wrapped and sealed;
• Roof flashing: Kick out flashing should be installed where the EIFS meets the roofline. If this is missing, there is a good possibility that water is entering the wall cavity. Check for any areas that feel soft or are discolored;
• Joints around windows and doors: Check caulking joints around windows and doors to make sure that there are no cracks, even small ones. If wood on window or door frames feels soft, or it is discolored, water may have entered the wall assembly around the frame; and
• Areas of cracking or bulging: If there are cracks in the EIFS itself, moisture will be able to infiltrate the wall assembly and cause rotting. Bulges can indicate that coatings are delaminating or detaching from the polystyrene board. These would be causes for concern.
• Cracks or openings in foundation and in the basement floor can allow water to enter. As hydrostatic pressure builds up around the foundation it pushes the basement floor slab and foundation walls, traveling into the breaches and cracks in the floor and wall structure.
Inspection for Moisture Intrusion
If a visual inspection reveals any evidence of damage, or that the EIFS has been installed incorrectly, further inspection may be in order. An inspection for moisture intrusion consists of inserting a small probe through the outer wall into the frame area to determine the moisture content of the cavity. The probe will leave holes about 1/8-inch in diameter, which can be sealed afterward. The moisture readings can be gathered from typical problem areas, such as around windows and doors, roof eaves, near decks, and so on. Once a more precise estimate of damage is obtained, the homeowner can evaluate options for repair. These may include anything from additional caulking and sealing to removal and replacement of synthetic stucco sections. Therefore, it is best to catch any possibility of water damage to EIFS at the earliest stage possible, before any lingering moisture has had time to cause rotting.
TG Project Management, LLC has been trained and certified by International Restoration Institute IRI in Mold Remediation and is IAC2 Certified, with concepts on how to inspect and write a detailed comprehensive report in accordance with the EPA & OSHA guidelines.
When licensing is not required mold certification can be required to preform remediation projects for banking, property management and insurance industries.
TG Project Management, LLC uses the state of the art FLIR Infrared camera to detect the mold that is not seen by the naked eye.
IRI Mold Remediation Certification Training Masters:
Understanding mold testing dynamics for mold remediation
Types of Sampling
Mold Remediation Methods
Identify Tools and Equipment for Mold Remediation
Materials and supplies for Mold Remediation
Types of Toxic and Non- Toxic Mold
Mold Remediation Cleaning Guidelines
Mold Remediation Containment Guidelines
Mold Remediation Containment Construction
Identify Tools and equipment for Mold Remediation
Personal Property Restoration for Mold Remediation
Mold Remediation Site Safety
Mold Remediation Communication procedures
Understanding the Mold protocol for Mold Remediation
Mold Inspection Procedures for Mold Remediation
Understanding Sick Building syndrome
Understanding Anti-microbial and biocides applications for Mold Remediation
Reading lab results from testing for Mold Remediation
Access to our online campus business resources area
Access to our online campus construction video reference
• Mold Basics
◦ Why is mold growing in my home?
◦ Can mold cause health problems?
◦ How do I get rid of mold?
• Mold Cleanup
◦ Who should do the cleanup?
• Mold Cleanup Guidelines
◦ Tips and techniques
◦ Bathroom Tip
• What to Wear When Cleaning Moldy Areas
◦ How Do I Know When the Remediation or Cleanup is Finished?
• Moisture and Mold Prevention and Control Tips
◦ Actions that will help to reduce humidity
◦ Actions that will help prevent condensation
◦ Tips for Renters
◦ Testing or sampling for mold
• Hidden Mold
• Cleanup and Biocides
RADON TESTING AND MITIGATION:
WHAT IS RADON AND WHY IS IT A CONCERN?
Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the breakdown of naturally occurring uranium in soil and rock. It is invisible, odorless and tasteless, and can only be detected by specialized tests. Radon enters homes through openings that are in contact with the ground, such as cracks in the foundation, small openings around pipes, and sump pits.
Radon, like other radioactive materials, undergoes radioactive decay that forms decay products. Radon and its decay products release radioactive energy that can damage lung tissue.
The more radon you are exposed to, and the longer the exposure, the greater the risk of eventually developing lung cancer. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, resulting in 15,000 to 22,000 deaths per year.
Testing your home for radon is easy and homes with high levels of radon can be ﬁxed (mitigated).
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recommends that all homes be tested for radon.
SELECTING AND ARRANGING FOR TESTS
Homeowners can hire a New Jersey certiﬁed radon measurement company to perform the testing make sure the technician who places and picks up the test device is certiﬁed by the State, by checking their DEP certiﬁcate or calling the Radon Information
Line. It is against the law to do radon testing or mitigation without certiﬁcation in New Jersey.
A single short-term test of 2-7 days in length can be used to indicate the radon level in your home. If a single short-term test reveals levels of 4 pCi/L or more, DEP data indicate that subsequent testing would conﬁrm that levels in the home are 4 pCi/L or more in 80% of cases. If a second short-term test is conducted in the same location (either simultaneously or at different points in time), and the results of the tests are averaged, the average will provide a slightly more accurate estimate of radon levels.
A variety of short-term test devices are available, including charcoal canisters, electrets, and continuous radon monitors. The DEP Radon Section considers all short-term test devices used by certiﬁed companies to be equally reliable.
A long—term test of 3-12 months will provide your best estimate of average exposure over time, since radon levels ﬂuctuate daily and by season. Because gases are drawn to areas of lower pressure, radon gas will enter the home at a rate that depends on the air pressure inside the home, which is affected by temperature, wind conditions, exhaust
systems in the home, etc. Long-term testing should include the winter months, when radon concentrations are often higher than at other times.
Long-term test devices are usually either alpha track detectors or electrets; both tests are considered equally reliable.
Real Estate Transactions:
A single short-term radon test may be used for real estate transactions. An escrow account, with funds set aside by the seller, can be arranged for the buyer who prefers to test after closing. The funds can then be used to mitigate the home if testing reveals concentrations of 4 pCi/L or more.
If you are a potential homebuyer and are concerned about the possibility of test tampering, discuss anti-tampering methods with the radon measurement contractors you are considering hiring. Also, be sure to check that the contractor will close and pick up the test, as required by regulation. Neither the buyer, the homeowner nor the real
estate agent can perform any part of the test, including: closing the test, picking it up, or sending it to a laboratory.
INTERPRETING YOUR TEST RESULTS
The test report will usually give your radon reading in picocuries per liter (pCi/L). Picocuries per liter is a measure of how much radiation is in a liter of air, which is about the size of a quart. Sometimes results will be given in Working Levels (WL). You can calculate the pCi/L level by multiplying the WL reading by 200.
The DEP and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) both recommend that you take action to mitigate your home if your test results indicate radon levels of 4 pCi/L of radon or more. If you used two or more short-term tests at the same location, the results should be averaged.
There is no truly “safe” level of radon since lung cancer can result from very low exposures to radon — however, the risk decreases as the radon concentration decreases. If your test result is less than 4 pCi/L, you may want to discuss with mitigation companies whether the radon level can be brought down still further. In about half of the homes that have been mitigated in New Jersey, radon levels have been brought to less than 1 pCi/L.
Radon Risk for Smokers and Nonsmokers
(EPA’s Assessment of Risks from Radon in Homes (PDF), EPA 402-R-03-003)
Radon Level (a)
Lifetime Risk of Lung Cancer Death (per person) from Radon Exposure in Homes (b)
pCi/L Never Smoked Current Smokers (c) General Population
20 36 out of 1,000 26 out of 100 11 out of 100
10 18 out of 1,000 15 out of 100 56 out of 1,000
8 15 out of 1,000 13 out of 100 45 out of 1,000
4 73 out of 10,000 62 out of 1,000 23 out of 1,000
2 37 out of 10,000 32 out of 1,000 12 out of 1,000
1.25 23 out of 10,000 20 out of 1,000 73 out of 10,000
0.4 73 out of 10,000 64 out of 10,000 23 out of 10,000
a – Assumes constant lifetime exposure in homes at these levels.
b – Estimates are subject to uncertainties as discussed in Chapter Vlll of the risk assessment.
c – Note: BEIR VI did not specify excess relative risks for current smokers.
MITIGATING YOUR HOME
The most common type of radon mitigation system is the sub-slab depressurization system. This system uses venting and sealing to lower radon levels in the home. A pipe is installed that runs from below the basement ﬂooring to above the rooﬂine, with a fan at the top that draws radon out from under the slab. Cracks and openings in the foundation are sealed. The radon is vented through the pipe to the outside, where it is quickly diluted.
The average price of such a system is $1,300, although prices can range from $500 to $2,500, depending on characteristics of the home and the underlying soil. You can install the system yourself, if you are highly experienced in making home repairs, or you can hire a New Jersey certiﬁed radon mitigation company to do the work for you. New Jersey certiﬁed radon mitigation professionals meet speciﬁed education and experience standards and must take continuing education classes each year to maintain their certiﬁcation. It is against the law for uncertiﬁed contractors to do mitigation work in
After your home has been mitigated, make sure the mitigator does a post-mitigation test to prove the system is working properly. in addition, you can contact the Radon Section to obtain a free post-mitigation test (you will have to provide a copy of your mitigation contract). Retesting your home every two years will tell you whether or not your system is still working effectively in reducing the radon level to below 4 pCi/L. If you believe that your system was not installed correctly, you can contact the Radon Section to arrange for a free inspection and test of the system.
Structural pest inspections
TG Project Management, LLC has been trained and certified by Professional Home Inspection Institute in pest management, with concepts on how to inspect and write a detailed comprehensive repor in accordance with the EPA guidelines.
Inspections for wood-destroying organisms are one of the most complex tasks a pest inspector will perform. The inspector must be part detective and part diplomat. A good inspector is very thorough and methodical, even though they may receive pressure from realtors or home sellers to go easy on written reports.
An inspector must be able to locate wood-destroying insects and fungi and be able to identify conditions conducive to these pests. The potential liability resulting from a poor inspection makes it critical that an inspector be an expert in these areas.
Complete vs Specific Inspection
Since there are two types of inspections, there is some confusion over which inspection is needed. Complete Wood Destroying Organism (WDO) inspections are done for properties being bought, sold, refinanced, or resulting from a telephone solicitation. Specific Wood Destroying Organisms (WDO) inspections are conducted in conjunction with any proposal or estimate for prevention or control of WDOs.
The reports are prepared once an inspection is completed and will vary depending on the type of inspection.
We master the following:
• Pest identification, prevention and control.
• National Standards of practice for pest inspections.
• How and where to find pest infestations.
• The code of ethics for pest inspectors.
• How to complete a pest inspection report.
What are termites?
Termites have been around for over 250 million years living as social insects. Termites live in colonies located in the ground or in wood; feeding on the cellulose in wood or wood by-products such as paper.
Based on the location of their colonies, termites are usually divided into three species: subterranean, drywood, and dampwood. Since each group has varying habits and biology, they will be explained separately.
Using special protozoan in their intestines, the termites digest the cellulose material. This leaves no sawdust as other wood boring insects do. Wood damaged by termites may have the interior wood riddled with tunnels while the exterior is left intact and looking sound.
Termites have several characteristic features. The body is divided into three sections (head, thorax, and abdomen). If wings are present, there are usually four wings, with both pairs having similar size and shape. The wings are almost clear to smoky black in color, and when not in flight the wings extend past the tip of the abdomen. These wings are broken off after the mating flight is finished.
Termites have a broad waist and antennae that resemble a string of beads. These features along with their coloring allow for the identification of termites.
It is important to be able to distinguish between swarming termites and ants. The two often swarm around the same time, but the means to control them are very different.
Termites go through a simple metamorphosis: egg, nymph, and adult. The colonies occur underground and contain several types of termites; each specialized for their job. A few eggs will develop into termites that can reproduce, or primary reproductives (the king and queen). A majority of the eggs will develop into workers. The workers are sterile termites that maintain the colony, forage, and feed the colony; other eggs develop into soldier termites. The soldiers’ primary task is to defend the colony. Worker and soldier termites can be either male or female.
What are Beetles?
Beetles, along with termites, make up the major group of insects that are capable of destroying seasoned wood. Seasoned wood is a difficult habitat for insects to live. The wood is a very dry and tightly compact environment with very little water. What water is in the wood is chemically bound to the wood, and is only available after digestion. This leaves very little wood being digested.
Attacks done by these beetles are often overlooked since the beetles live in and infest areas that are not often seen by people. The damage done is characterized by small to medium sized holes in wood. The breaking down of wood by these insects can lead to serious structural weakness. Unlike termites, beetles leave behind sawdust as the larva burrow through the wood. This sawdust can be used to identify species and if infestations are active or inactive.
Active infestations will have exit holes with fine sawdust near them and lighter edges than the surrounding wood.
Beetles go through a complete metamorphosis: adult, eggs, larvae, and pupae. These pests do not form colonies, but many larvae may infest the same area and continue to re-infest the area if conditions are not treated. Adults lay their eggs in the pores of wood. Once the eggs hatch the larvae burrow into the wood and begin to feed, creating the damage. Once the larvae have eaten enough they continue to grow to pupae. They finish their metamorphosis near the surface of the wood. Once the beetle is an adult, it burrows out of the wood, leaving a small exit hole, to begin the cycle again.
What are ants?
Ants became a problem for people when people began to build homes in areas that the ants were already using for foraging. As the houses take up the foraging areas the ants simply begin to use the houses as foraging areas. Sometimes even turning a part of the house into a secondary colony.
Unlike termites and beetles, ants do not eat the wood. The ants excavate the wood to expand the size of their colonies. This leaves sawdust near the entrance of the nest and can lead to damage of structural supports if the ants begin to tunnel into them.
Ants are a fairly easily recognizable social insect. The workers are wingless, all castes have elbowed antennae, and all have a narrow waist. Colonies are started by a single queen and begin to grow to contain between several hundred to several thousand ants.
Within these colonies, ants are divided into distinct castes: workers, queens, and males. The only purpose of males is to mate with the queen. The queen produces eggs and starts new nests while the workers perform all other functions. Depending on the size of workers their jobs can consist of simple colony maintenance and expansion to defending the colony or foraging.
Ants go through several developmental stages within the colony: egg, larva, pupa, and finally adult. Until the ant develops fully into an adult they need other
ants to do everything for them. Workers will transport eggs, larvae, and pupae to other section of the colony if need be.
The general life style differs depending on the species of ant. Some ants are carnivorous; others may eat fungi, seeds, or the honeydew of other insects. The ants that cause annoyance to humans are the ones that are omnivorous and will feed on any type of foodstuff, often what humans will eat. Ants will make their nests in trees, rotting logs, the soil, or nests of other insects. Identification is key to know how to deal with the varying insects.
What are bees?
Bees are important pollinators across North America. Some have even been semi domesticated to help pollinate alfalfa and blueberries. It is when the bees begin to use people’s homes to build their nest that they begin to become pests.
Like ants, the carpenter and leafcutter bees do not eat wood. They live in it either by cutting into the wood (carpenter) or building a nest out of plant materials in a crack or hole (leafcutter).
Neither the carpenter or leafcutter bee will cause much property damage. The exception to that is when carpenter bees continue to re-infest the same spot year after year. This will slowly cause more and more damage. These two types of bees are not social bees, so there is no colony. Each year there is only one generation of bees wintering in their nests during the winter before they emerge in the spring. The leafcutter and carpenter species of bees are both fairly docile. They may appear different, buzzing around people’s heads, but will only sting if handled or if in an unusual circumstance (caught in some clothing).
What is fungi?
Decay destroys more wood each year than fire, floods, and termites combined. Wood destroying fungus needs three things to survive: air, water, and food. Since we cannot eliminate air, and their food is the wood we are trying to protect, the only way to control fungus is to eliminate water.
Wood decaying fungus uses the cell walls of wood as food. The fungus produces special enzymes that destroy cell-wall material such as cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. This causes the wood to lose structural strength and in extreme cases make the wood unfit for construction.
Fungi need moisture to survive and usually only grow on wood that is wet from rain, roof leaks, plumbing leaks, or contact with moist soil. Severe decay requires wood to have a moisture content greater than 20 percent.
One type of fungi, dry rot, does not require moisture. Instead it brings the moisture to it.