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What to Do About Wet Insulation

Tuesday, April 6th, 2021
wet insulation

Wet insulation can occur from a number of different sources, mainly depending on the location of the insulation. If it’s installed in the attic, roof leaks are the usual suspect when insulation becomes wet. Wet insulation inside walls, however, may result from leaky plumbing pipes routed through walls or outdoor flooding that has entered the structure. Wherever it occurs, wet insulation requires attention and action, ASAP.

Water affects common types of residential insulation—fiberglass batts and cellulose loose-fill—in two ways:

  • Loss of insulating value. This means the wet material no longer stops heat loss in winter or heat gain in summer.  
  • Wet fiberglass insulation frequently spawns mold growth in the attic

Can Wet Insulation Be Saved?

Two circumstances affect the decision of whether to save or replace waterlogged insulation:

Time Frame

The drying process of wet insulation must be initiated within 48 hours to prevent mold contamination in the material, particularly with fiberglass insulation. If that time frame elapses, replacement of the insulation is the best course.   

Type of Insulation

Fiberglass insulation may be dried in certain circumstances. Continuously directing fans across batts of attic insulation and also keeping a dehumidifier running in the attic may dry wet fiberglass. Alternatively, fiberglass batts may be removed from the attic and dried in a place with better air circulation and warm temperatures.

If fiberglass insulation is installed inside wall cavities, the walls must be opened up or dry air must be injected into the cavities using special drying equipment. The wall cavity and associated wooden structure will typically be wet, too, and must also be properly dried and treated to prevent mold growth.  

Blown-in cellulose insulation is composed of pulverized paper and thus very absorbent. Mounds of cellulose in an attic or inside walls retain moisture for an extended period of time and resist drying methods. In most cases of water damage, except the most minor, replacement of wet cellulose insulation is the best option.

The bidet incident of Feb 2021 – Fort Myers 33908

Tuesday, April 6th, 2021

On Feb 1, 2021, Rytech arrived to find the insured had a leak due to a faulty water supply line connected to a bidet in the property above them. The water damage extended into 10 different rooms of the homeowner, impacting approximately 935 SF. Rytech worked quickly to clean up all water damage throughout the home and investigated for Mold in each room. After extensive clean up and dry out, it was determined that all rooms were free and clear of mold. All moisture levels passed acceptable levels and the water damage claim was processed through the insurance company – Tower Hill. Our home owner asked the upstair neighbor to remove their bidet – we have no response on the request.

UnFitted bath tub leads to a major mold problem in Tallahassee FL – 32311

Tuesday, April 6th, 2021

A recent clients bath tub was fitted improperly by Bath Fitters. The improper installation caused on on-going leak from the shower pan. The tub was replaced but the shower pan was not, causing a major mold remediation effort in this home. To fix the mold problem, the baseboards, tub, shower and all drywall needed to be removed from the bathroom. While Bath Fitters fought with Farm Bureau about ‘who was at fault’, Ryech got to work – safely getting rid of all of the mold caused by this botched installation! Farm Bureau went ahead and approved Rytech’s estimate and work. All mold was successfully remediated from the home and the insurance company, Farm Bureau subrogated the claim to Bath Fitters.

Running water leads to a moldy mess in Saint Johns FL – 34986

Tuesday, April 6th, 2021
On Feb 10, 2021, our client explained to Rytech hat he was hearing water in the back area of his home where his guest bedrooms are located. He told us that he noticed his floors were buckling and he could hear running water. The customer said he called a plumber immediately who found the leak in the wall inside of the guest bedroom closet. The leak was quickly fixed, but our technicians found moisture in the drywall and the laminate flooring inside of the guest bedroom and second bedroom closet.  The drywall has already been cut inside the closet by the plumber before Rytech arrived. Our technicians were able to feel standing water underneath the tub and, inside of the closet the shelves were beginning to separate and warp. They needed to be removed. Rytech technicians quickly cleaned up the remaining standing water. 
Pictures of wet readings in all affected areas were taken with our moisture reading equipment. In the hallway and bathroom, elevated moisture readings were found in the drywall.
The two bedroom doors were sealed up with six mill plastic and ‘do not enter’ signs were taped to the containment door. The AC vents were sealed off and our techs began moving items out of the closets. We removed the remaining laminate in the guest bedroom and took all of the content placed it in the second guest room and it wrapped with six mill plastic.
Pictures were taken of the demo completed in the 2 closets.  Once the shelving was removed we cut two feet up on the affected walls to ensure complete removal of all mold from this water datama. The backside of the drywall above 2 feet had no mold and was clean. The studs were metal so we wiped them down with anti microbial wipes to ensure no future thread of mold. The exterior wall inside of the closet was removed and wooden studs and plywood were exposed. They were sanded and the wiped down with anti microbial spray to ensure no mold growth.

Finally, we opened up the wall inside of the closets to expose a cavity where the tub was installed. We sealed up  all of these areas with six mill plastic to avoid contaminated air from entering the environment. Equipment was cleaned, walls were scrubbed and the floors were sprayed and wiped. After the anti microbial cleaning, each room was fogged and the homeowners property was ready for testing to ensure all mold was remediated properly.

Rytech processed the claims for the homeowner directly with his insurance American Integrity Insurance and our homeowner was safe to return to his mold-free home!

What Is Drain Tile?

Thursday, April 1st, 2021
drain tile

If you experience frequent water infiltration into the basement and/or secondary consequences like basement mold contamination, a drain tile could be the solution to these problems. Water soaking into the ground during rainfall, or a naturally high soil water content, exerts hydrostatic pressure on basement walls. Tiny cracks or porous concrete may allow seepage into the basement. While locating and sealing identifiable cracks or leaks is one approach to help inhibit the effects of water infiltration, eliminating the cause by maximizing soil drainage is another viable method. 

What Is It And How It Works

Also known as a French drain, a drain tile is a series of underground pipes laid close to the foundation of the house in a narrow trench filled with loose rock. This material allows groundwater to percolate quickly into the pipe through perforations running along the top of the pipe.

The pipe is installed on a slight grade so water flows through the pipe and out to a location further from the house where water will not infiltrate into the basement or foundation.

Drain Tile Specs

Here are some specifics about materials and installation of a drain tile:  

  • Most residential drain tile pipe is 4-inch diameter PVC.
  • If the main source of infiltration into the basement is surface water due to rainfall, the pipe may be buried about two feet in the ground. Water originating from subsurface sources requires a deeper pipe at least six feet underground.
  • Loose rock material in the trench to facilitate drainage into the pipe is usually 3/4-inch gravel. A drain tile is typically covered by at least one foot or more of gravel.  
  • Tar paper or other material that provides a filtering effect is placed on top of the layer of gravel to prevent fine soil from infiltrating the drain tile and obstructing the flow of water.  
  • Soil is placed on top of the tar paper to fill in the trench and restore the normal surface of the lawn.  

Dealing With Leaky Window Wells

Tuesday, March 30th, 2021
leaky water wells

Leaky window wells are one of several common causes of basement water damage. Basement windows that extend below ground level contribute natural light to the basement and also provide fresh air ventilation. The excavated well that extends around the window naturally collects water during rain. However, while most window wells include a gravel bed at the bottom to allow water to dissipate into the surrounding soil, basement water infiltration may still occur due to leaky window wells.  

Signs of leaky window wells include:

  • Visible water trickling down the basement wall from the window and/or puddles forming on the floor during rain.
  • Permanent stains, streaks, or other discoloration on the basement wall beneath the window well.  
  • Mold growth on the indoor window structure or on the wall and floor below.
  • Water-damaged items stored near the window.  

Restore Proper Drainage

A major reason for leaky window wells is the simple fact that the window structure becomes submerged in water during rain because well drainage is sluggish. To support proper drainage and eliminate leaky window wells, take these steps:

  • Keep the window well clear of material that obstructs drainage through the gravel bed. Make sure dead leaves, grass clippings, and other debris are not accumulating at the bottom of the well and interfere with proper drainage.  
  • Consider adding a drain. A window well drain installed at the bottom of the well includes a grated drain opening and pipe that extends underground to discharge water into the soil further from the house.  
  • Window well covers are available in common sizes. Clear polycarbonate plastic covers completely exclude both rain and debris while still admitting light. Alternatively, simple mesh screen covers keep out well-clogging debris like leaves but still allow water to enter the well.

Eliminate Water Sources

Keep excess water out of window wells by cleaning roof gutters to prevent clogging and during heavy rain. Also grade the slope of the ground to prevent pooling and direct water out into the yard, away from the window well. 

Preventing Basement Flooding: Landscape Considerations

Thursday, March 25th, 2021
Preventing basement

Water damage that occurs in the basement may have its beginnings in the landscape surrounding the house. While basement flooding may occur from indoor sources like a broken plumbing pipe, or from naturally high underground water beneath the house, excess water saturating the soil immediately around the perimeter of the home can also slowly leak into the basement through structural cracks and other openings. Avoiding over-saturation of the soil as well as diverting accumulating water away from the house are landscape considerations that can help reduce outdoor causes of indoor water damage down in the basement. 

  • Grade the ground. Landscape sloping toward the house—a condition known as “negative drainage”—causes rainwater and water from sprinklers or other sources to accumulate near the house and saturate deeply into the soil, potentially causing water damage by infiltrating basement walls. Soil adjacent to the foundation should be sloped downward away from the house at least four inches over the first six feet of horizontal distance.  
  • Keep big vegetation away. Large shrubs and/or trees attract and retain considerable water in the surrounding soil. To prevent this water from entering a nearby basement or foundation, these large plants should not be planted closer than three feet from the wall of the house.  
  • Detour the water. Certain areas of the lawn near the house may tend to retain excess water after rain due to the type of clay present in the soil. To prevent potential water damage to the basement, create a one-foot deep trench with gently sloping sides to collect and reroute the water to another part of the lawn further away from the house. Once replanted with grass, this shallow depression will not be visually conspicuous nor interfere with mowing.  
  • Grass is good. The specific root structure of grass very efficiently absorbs water from the soil and contains it. Planting grass close to the house is therefore an ally to prevent basement water damage. Once the grass matures, avoid cutting it too short, which weakens roots and diminishes water absorption.

Water Damage From Leaky Kitchen Pipes

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021
leaky kitchen pipes

When it comes to the room where home water damage is most likely to occur, the kitchen actually takes second place. Bathrooms are usually the location of the most damaging water incidents. However, while a toilet overflowing or a shower stall leaking through the ceiling below is hard to miss, kitchen leaks are often concealed and water damage may go unnoticed for some time. Here are typical leaks that cause water damage in the kitchen.

Kitchen Drain

Drain water isn’t under pressure but the gradual drip-drip into the cabinet under the sink can trigger water damage, including wood rot and mold growth. The most likely kitchen drain leaks occur around the joint between the sink drainer body and the main drain pipe, or in one of the joints at the u-shaped trap at the lowest point in the drain pipe.

Sink Water Connections

Cold and hot water pipe connections to the sink faucet are under pressure and may leak and cause water damage. These joints can be difficult to see just by glancing into the cabinet below the sink. You may need to lie on your back and use a flashlight to look up into the narrow space where the pipe connections to the faucet are located at the back of the sink.
Disposal Connections

The joint where the large discharge pipe connects to the disposal is subjected to vibration from the disposal motor so leakage may be more likely. A smaller pipe attaching to the side of the disposal conveys drain water from the dishwasher down the sink drain pipe. Leakage from this joint would be most likely during dishwasher operation.

Dishwasher Leaks

Remove the kick plate at the bottom front of the dishwasher and look beneath the unit with a flashlight. Signs of water damage to the floor under the dishwasher may originate from leakage where the clean water supply pipe connects to the water inlet valve on the underside of the unit. Another nearby leak may occur at the joint between the dishwasher drain outlet and the drain pipe that leads up to the sink drain connection.

Home Repair of Water-Damaged Items

Thursday, March 18th, 2021
water damage repair

Because most of your home’s interior is not waterproof, water damaged items may be numerous and wide-ranging after indoor flooding from any cause. The source of the water is an important determinant, as well as the elapsed time before professional water damage recovery begins. Here’s a general overview of typical water damaged items and how they may be repaired—or not.

Carpets and rugs. If water is from a clean source, water damage recovery professionals may use extractors to remove water and dry carpets and rugs. However, in many cases, the padding beneath carpet requires replacement and cannot be repaired. If water is contaminated drying and repair of wet carpets may not be feasible or worth the cost.

Drywall. In some instances, drywall on walls can be successfully dried. However, several factors such as type of water damage, length of time drywall has remained wet, and construction materials behind drywall will impact the likelihood of drywall walls needing to be removed, or dried in place. Affected drywall in ceiling and/or walls are water damaged items that can be repaired by cutting out small segments and replacing with new material. However, because drywall is usually readily replaceable, larger segments affected by water damage should be treated by removal and replacement with new material.

Tile and flooring. Repairing versus replacing most flooring depends largely on whether water has penetrated into the subfloor. Wet wooden subflooring swells and dislodges flooring materials. It’s also subject to rotting and mold. Therefore tile and flooring need to be removed and subflooring professionally dried. Certain flooring types may be reinstalled after subfloor drying, others require replacement.

Furniture. Wet furniture should be removed from the house. Commercial wood cleaning products can be used to clean wooden furniture and items slowly dried, away from sunlight. Water damaged items that are upholstered or include cushions are less likely to be economically salvaged, depending on the origin of the water and elapsed time since items were wet.

Appliances. If flooding was only a few inches, most major appliances can be saved. However, all should be checked before turning the units on. If water was deep enough to enter internal spaces in the unit and/or contact controls, motors, electrical circuitry, or gas valves or burners, these water damaged items should be replaced.  

Water Damaged Wood: Repair or Replace

Tuesday, March 16th, 2021
water damaged wood

Because wood is a naturally porous material, water damage inside a home is its natural enemy. Wood is vulnerable to several water-related issues including rotting, discoloration and mold growth. While different types of wood are more susceptible than others, the common denominator for limiting wood water damage is quick preventive action. As time elapses after water exposure, wood is increasingly likely to incur damage, some of which may be irreparable. That’s one more reason why rapid response by water damage professionals is critical after any incident.  

Here are some common types of wood water damage and steps that may be required to restore it.  

Hardwood Floors

  • Stay out of flooded rooms until the electricity is shut off.
  • Mop up pooling water and/or push water out of the house through a nearby exterior door. A wet/dry vacuum is also helpful to remove pooling water.
  • Water damage recovery includes utilizing high-volume fans and dehumidifiers to continue the floor drying process over an extended time frame.
  • Disinfectants may be applied to the floor surface to inhibit mold growth.
  • Moisture meter readings will determine whether water has penetrated beneath hardwood flooring into the sub-floor beneath.  

Wooden Baseboards

Water damage at the floor level usually affects wooden baseboards. Most residential construction includes baseboards made of multi-density fiberboard (MDF). This composite material does not resist water well and, if thoroughly wet, typically requires replacement. To prevent damage to the drywall behind it, water damaged baseboard must be removed ASAP and rapid drying applied to the wall followed by mold disinfectants.  

Wooden Furniture

Some wooden furniture affected by water damage can be dried and rehabilitated. Other types are not good candidates for repair.

  • Wooden furniture should be removed from the wet indoor environment, wiped dry and then allowed to air dry. Fans and dehumidifiers can accelerate drying.
  • Hardwood furniture that is valuable may require professional reconditioning as glued joints may have been loosened by water exposure.
  • Water stains and discoloration may affect hardwood furniture and require professional refinishing.
  • Common wooden particle board furniture swells and decomposes after absorbing water and is usually not worth the expense of salvaging.