Return to the Blog Home Page

How to Control Window Condensation in Your Home this Winter

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

controlling window condensationIn case you don’t have it marked on your calendar, window condensation season is coming up. As outdoor temperatures drop and furnaces begin cycling on, a common principle of physics is demonstrated. Because glass is an efficient conductor of heat, windows are often the coldest surface inside a home during winter. Meanwhile, indoor air is warm and humid from gas-fired heating and activities such as cooking, bathing and even breathing. The resultant formula never fails: Warm humid air + cold glass = window condensation.

It’s not only the unsightly spotting and streaks from droplets of condensation on your once-crystal clear windows, this unwanted moisture source causes other significant issues including:

  • Mold growth. Chronic water formation anywhere in a home is a certain trigger of mold. Black mold is particularly common around wet windows.
  • Deteriorated window components. Constant dripping moisture rots window frames and sills, swells wooden materials and makes windows jam. It can also deteriorate drywall surrounding the window unit.

Short of installing dual-pane high-efficiency windows, you can’t do much to keep window glass warmer in winter Therefore, efforts to reduce window condensation must address indoor humidity, instead.

Exhaust Moisture

Bathrooms, the kitchen and the laundry room are major contributors to indoor humidity. Reduce the indoor humidity load by installing exhaust fans to pull moist air out of these rooms and exhaust it through dedicated ducts all the way to the outdoors.

Add Dry Air

In winter, fresh outdoor air usually contains less water vapor than indoor air. Opening windows to let it in, however, causes heat loss and impacts comfort level. A heat recovery ventilation (HRV) system inducts fresh, filtered outdoor air while exhausting an equal volume of humid indoor air. An integrated heat exchanger extracts heat from the outgoing stream of indoor air and adds it to cold incoming outdoor air to stabilize the household temperature.

Treat Mold

Where mold growth is already established in wood and drywall around windows, contact professional mold remediation services to evaluate and permanently eliminate the contamination. Left untreated, active mold growth will spread to additional locations in the house.


Can Water-Damaged Insulation Be Salvaged?

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018

wet insulationInsulation in the attic is often the first victim when roof leaks occur or when plumbing pipes routed through the attic leak. The two most common types of insulation — fiberglass batts and blown-in cellulose loose-fill—are vulnerable to attic water damage in two specific ways:

Loss of insulating value. Wet insulation no longer performs its primary function of inhibiting heat transfer. Saturated insulation typically loses at least 40% of its insulating R-value. While fiberglass is technically waterproof, inside an enclosed attic the thick batt retains moisture which degrades its thermal resistance properties. Cellulose loose-fill, made of pulverized particles of paper and cloth, absorbs a large volume of water and compacts, losing the fluffy characteristics that make it an effective insulator.

Mold growth. Fiberglass insulation traps dust, which typically contains microscopic airborne mold spores. Following exposure to moisture from attic leaks, active mold growth affecting the paper backing of fiberglass batts is common. Cellulose insulation is treated with chemical fire-retardants that also make the material itself fairly mold-resistant. However, the absorbency of cellulose means destructive mold is still a major factor if it becomes wet. Saturated cellulose insulation acts like a wet sponge that continuously transfers moisture to adjacent wooden structure in the attic and to the ceiling drywall below, causing mold growth and destructive decay in these materials.

Can Wet Insulation Be Saved?

  • Fiberglass batts will eventually dry if lifted up and exposed to warmth and sustained air circulation. However, if active mold growth is evident, the material should be removed. Drying a large area of soaked insulation as well as detecting mold is a labor-intensive process. Because fiberglass batts are relatively low-cost, instead of attempting to salvage wet, possibly contaminated material the better option may be removal and replacement with new insulation.
  • Soaked cellulose insulation will retain absorbed water for an extended time and resists drying. During that time, it will also degrade wooden structure and trigger attic mold growth. Wet cellulose is generally not salvageable and needs to be removed, then new material blown-in to replace it.


Household Flooding – Why Fans And A Dehumidifier Are Not Enough For Drying Out

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

flooded homeIf your home was flooded, whether it was due to a recent storm or a broken pipe, you’ll want to make sure that you begin drying any water damaged spaces as quickly as possible. However, basic fans and dehumidifiers aren’t going to be enough. When it comes to drying a water damaged space effectively, you’re going to want to hire a professional water damage restoration service. The following are a few reasons why you’ll want to leave it to a professional:

  • You may need to remove water – Your fans and dehumidifier aren’t going to be nearly enough to remove standing water. You’ll want to remove any water that’s present as quickly as possible — the longer it sits, the more likely it is to cause damage. Not only can a professional remove standing water quickly, they can do so safely. There’s an inherent risk in removing standing water if you’re not trained to do so — not only can standing water present a health risk, it can present a safety risk if the power isn’t shut off properly.
  • You’ll want to prevent mold growth – If your floors and walls aren’t dried as quickly as possible, mold may begin to grow and spread throughout your home. Basic fans and dehumidifiers may be able to dry out water damaged areas eventually, but it may be too late by the time they are able to do so.
  • You may be able to save water damaged items – Even if there’s standing water, your flooring, walls, furniture and other possessions may still be saved if they are dried out as quickly as possible. To ensure that they dry fast, industrial drying equipment that only water restoration services have access to will need to be used.

While fans and dehumidifiers can help with drying a water damaged space, they won’t be able to do so as quickly as professional equipment. Because time is of the essence if you want to save your furniture, flooring, walls and other possessions, you’ll want to hire a professional.

When Drying A Water Damaged Space Isn’t A DIY Project…

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

industrial dryerything beyond that limited scope, however, properly drying a water damaged space requires more than do-it-yourself grit and determination. Here are some additional scenarios where professional service is indicated.

  • If the source is questionable. Only Category 1 water, straight from a broken household supply line or other sanitary source should be considered DIY-friendly. Category 2, typically drain water, an overflowing toilet bowl or washing machine, etc, contains bacterial contamination and requires prompt, professional removal. Category 3—also known as “black water”—refers to a sewage backup or outdoor flooding that has inundated the house. Classified as an acute toxic bio-hazard, clean-up should be handled strictly by experienced technicians only.
  • If water is on the move. Inside a house, water rapidly migrates under walls and through floors away from the point of origin. Drywall, insulation and other building materials absorb and retain water. Damaging wetness can spread far and wide long after the initial event—pipe rupture, flood, whatever—has been resolved. Simply mopping up what you see here and now only removes a partial amount of total moisture from the house.
  • If you’re not equipped. Effective, efficient water damage recovery requires specialized equipment purpose-built for the task. This ranges from powerful extractors to pull water out of carpets and flooring, high volume pumps to remove standing water, ventilation fans, moisture detection meters, industrial strength dehumidifiers and other stuff that probably isn’t out in your garage. Reputable, certified water damage recovery firms make substantial investments in the latest hardware and technology to do the job right.


Does Water Damaged Carpeting Need To Be Replaced?

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

water damaged carpetWater damaged carpeting is almost a given whenever a large quantity of water from any source inundates a home. A carpet and the pad beneath act like highly efficient sponges that readily absorb and retain water. In addition, carpeting is ground zero for dormant mold spores that penetrate deep into the fibers, awaiting only contact with water to trigger into active growing mold. Given these facts, is it always possible to save water damaged carpeting.

Potential sources of water damage

A lot depends on the source of water that has soaked the carpet:

  • Clean water – Water directly from a ruptured supply pipe or water heater inside the home is the best-case scenario for successful carpet restoration. In some cases, rainfall leaking into the house may also be considered clean. If the issue is addressed in a timely manner and professional techniques are applied, most carpet affected by clean water can be saved. Today’s powerful water extractors can even pull water out of the carpet and the padding below without removal of either. Disinfectants can interrupt nascent mold growth before it becomes established.
  • Gray water – This originates from sources like an overflowing washing machine, dishwasher, or soapy bath or shower water from a broken drain. A carpet soaked with gray water is considered mildly contaminated, which is usually not a deal-breaker for restoration. However, the following caveat applies: if too much time elapses before professional treatment begins, growing bacteria and other toxins may convert carpeting into a more highly contaminated material. At that point, carpet affected by gray water may not be a good candidate for restoration. Evaluation by a qualified water damage professional is required.
  • Black water – This refers to raw sewage, outdoor floodwater, or any water contaminated by dangerous chemicals. Carpet soaked by black water is a health hazard and you don’t want it in your house. It should be stripped out (along with the pad beneath it) and properly disposed of. Additionally, the subfloor underneath will need to be disinfected and dried before installing new carpet.

Ask the professionals at Rytech for more answers about water damaged carpeting.


Preventing Basement Water Problems Through Proper Planning

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

installing rain guttersBasement water problems are an indoor phenomenon. According to experts, however, over 95% of the time they are a result of outdoor issues. Once these problems become established, long-term consequences like structural damage and mold contamination are inevitable. Advance planning to prevent basement water problems in the first place is a more effective and efficient course of action than after-the-fact remedies. Here are some ways to plan not to have basement water problems in your home.

  • Install gutters. Any home with a basement should have functional rain gutters, too. Without gutters, water pouring off the edges of the roof during heavy rain penetrates deeply into the ground below. As it saturates underground soil adjacent to the basement wall, water infiltrates into the basement through tiny cracks and crevices. Gutters catch roof runoff and divert it safely away from the house.
  • Get proper grading. The conformation of the ground around the perimeter of the foundation should divert water away from the house. Proper grading prevents pooling during rain that soaks into the ground and eventually leaks into the basement.
  • Have an exterior drain tile installed. Consisting of a perforated pipe installed underground in a bed of gravel that extends around the exterior of the basement wall, a drain tile collects ground water from the soil and conveys it away from the house to prevent over-saturation. This keeps the zone adjacent to the basement drier to prevent leakage into the house.
  • Relieve hydrostatic pressure with a sump pump. If you live in a locale with a naturally high water table, rising ground water may exert pressure on the underside of the foundation and permeate into your basement. A sump pump relieves the pressure by collecting ground water in a basin excavated in the basement floor, then automatically pumping it outdoors to a discharge point, usually in the backyard.

If basement water problems are a concern, contact the professionals at Rytech, Inc. to learn more about effective plans to prevent water damage.

How To Spot Early Signs Of Water Damage

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

early water damage signsSigns of water damage will eventually be hard to miss—structural deterioration, damaged possessions, toxic mold growth. However, early indicators can be more subtle. Because the effect and extent of water damage inside a house is very time-sensitive, reputable professional water damage remediation services operate on a 24/7/365 basis to get to the scene ASAP. The earlier signs of water damage are recognized by the homeowner and help is summoned, the less complicated the ultimate ramifications will be.

Here are some early warning indicators to be aware of:

  • Changes in flooring. If water is seeping into subflooring due to a saturated foundation or leakage in pipes routed through the crawl space, tile may loosen without explanation or even any noticeable wetness. Linoleum can peel and laminate flooring may warp.
  • Evidence on walls. Sagging, saturated drywall is obvious. More subtle signs of water leakage inside walls, however, include paint that is peeling or bubbling. Cracking may appear in drywall as small amounts of water on the inside of the wall cause the material to swell and retract without appearing soaked.
  • Stains and spotting. Walls may exhibit stains or spots that may be permanent or appear and then fade. These may be mere discolorations or obvious signs of mildew or mold that indicate hidden moisture inside a wall—a leaky water supply line or roof leakage that has migrated down into wall voids, for example.
  • Musty odors. These are the giveaway to mold growth somewhere in the house. Mold doesn’t grow without the presence of moisture so, unless you have a high natural relative humidity inside the house, you can assume there is a plumbing leak somewhere or water seeping in from outdoors.
  • Sounds of water running. Late at night when the house is quiet, can you hear the subtle hiss of water running in the plumbing system or sounds of dripping inside walls? Mark any spots where you can hear water in motion for further investigation.

At Rytech, Inc., water damage remediation is our profession. To learn more about the advance signs of water damage, contact us today.


Safe Document Storage: Prevention Is Easier Than Replacement

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

document storageSuccessfully salvaging documents after water damage is a complex procedure that goes far beyond simply air drying. Often, specialized technology such as commercial freeze dryers are needed to prevent damaging mold growth while removing moisture from paper materials. Moreover, if professional recovery methods aren’t applied in a very short time interval, certain documents and materials such as photographs may be unsalvageable using any technique.

Preventing water damage to important documents is far preferable to salvaging documents after water damage occurs. While water damage is usually a random, unexpected event, you can take advance preparations to make sure that, if and when it happens, damage to documents is avoided or at least greatly minimized.

  • First, decide which documents are most vital and/or cherished to protect in original form. For documents with high value in both content and original form, before properly storing, scan them to digital files, then store on an external hard drive or other storage media. Backups should be made and kept in a separate place.
  • Store vital papers in commercially available water-resistant and impact-resistant file cabinets with lockable drawers. Never locate these cabinets in the basement—it’s usually the first place in the house to flood with the deepest accumulation of water.
  • If storing documents or other paper materials on shelving, make sure they are on a shelf that is a minimum of six inches above the floor to reduce the chances of contact with pooling water. Don’t utilize the top shelf, which may be exposed to dripping through the ceiling. Also don’t store documents in contact with the wall directly behind. Saturated wallboard wicks water and may transfer this moisture on contact.
  • If you have a large amount of valuable documents stored in a specific space, install water alarms in the room to alert you of water intrusion.
  • For irreplaceable documents of greatest value, consider off-site storage in a bank safety deposit box or another commercial facility.

If you’re faced with the necessity of salvaging documents after water damage, remember that time is a critical factor in a successful outcome. Contact the water damage experts at Rytech, Inc.

Avoiding Dishwasher Leaks (and the Resulting Water Damage!)

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

leaky dishwasherDishwasher leaks have a reputation for causing water damage that often goes unnoticed for long periods of time. While seepage around the dishwasher door is conspicuous, less obvious, chronic leaks may occur beneath the unit,  slowly rotting the wooden subfloor and forming a hidden focal point for the growth of toxic mold.  Learning to remove the kick plate at the bottom front of the dishwasher and check beneath the unit with a flashlight is good preventive maintenance to avoid long-term water damage.

Here are the primary causes of dishwasher leaks and how to spot them.

Leaky Door Seal

The seal around the dishwasher door may eventually fail due to wear and tear or accumulation of soap residue or food particles. The signs of this particular leak are hard to miss. Typically, you’ll notice water pooling on the kitchen floor in front of the unit after every dishwasher cycle. For a DIY approach, first try cleaning the door seal and corresponding surface on the unit with white vinegar. However, if excess wear or other physical damage is present, seal replacement will be necessary.

Defective Water Valve

Leakage from the solenoid-operated water inlet valve can be detected by removing the kick plate and looking underneath the unit where the water supply hose connects. Usually, it shows up as a slow drip that may persist whether the unit is operating or not. You will often be able to see rust or mineral residue encrusting the valve. Valve replacement is the only option.

Worn Pump Seals

The drain pump that removes water from the dishwasher incorporates rubber seals around a metal shaft. As these seals wear over time, water may begin to drip from the pump housing. Often times, leakage only occurs while the drain pump is running, so looking under the dishwasher when the unit is off or not running in drain cycle may fail to pinpoint the drain pump as the source of water leakage. Rebuilding or replacing the pump is required to stop leakage.

For more on avoiding dishwasher leaks and the long-term water damage that they cause, contact Rytech Inc.

Can Carpeting Be Saved After a Flood?

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

carpet mold after floodingQuestions about carpet mold after flooding are common because carpet is usually the first casualty of any water inundation in the house. Always located below the water line, the carpet and the padding beneath it basically act as an enormous sponge. The first question is often whether the carpet can even be saved. That depends mostly upon the source of the water that has inundated the house. If it’s clean rainwater or water from a ruptured water supply line, for example, carpet is usually salvageable with professional treatment. If, however, the house has been flooded by a sewage backup, or by localized storm flooding that may carry raw sewage and/or other unknown toxins, the best course is to discard it. Contaminated carpet can pose a permanent household health risk.

Even when affected by water that doesn’t pose a biological hazard, however, carpet mold after flooding is always a concern. Because dormant mold spores exist everywhere and are activated by exposure to moisture, mold growth begins within hours after a flood event. Professional water damage remediation experts will usually utilize some of these methods to prevent carpet mold after flooding:

  • In most cases, the carpeting will be pulled up from the tack strips to expedite drying and the padding beneath discarded—saturated padding is rarely worth saving. Small area carpets that can be removed from the house will be taken outdoors.
  • Using powerful wet/dry vacuums designed for the purpose, residual water will be extracted under high suction from the carpet.
  • Carpeting will be dried utilizing special drying fans that direct high volume of air at floor level across the carpet. Industrial dehumidifiers are also employed to reduce the humidity in the home to levels that promote fast drying. The goal is complete drying within 12 hours to minimize the chance of mold growth.
  • After the carpet is dried, it will be steam-cleaned utilizing formulas that disinfect and kill any latent growing mold. The flooring underneath the carpeting may also be steam-cleaned.

For more about professional services to prevent carpet mold after flooding, contact the water damage experts at Rytech.