Tuesday, September 19, 2017

School Indoor Air Quality

As our kids (big and small) return back to the hallowed halls of academia, pulling on backpacks and sharpening pencils, the indoor air quality of their learning environment certainly isn’t on their minds. A school both new and old can have harmful indoor air quality that may be affecting your child’s ability to learn as well as their health. Most people know that outdoor air pollution is bad for our health, but in indoor environments, pollutants that affect indoor air quality can be two to five times higher than outdoor levels. Since we all spend nearly 90% of our lives indoors, making sure that the indoor air quality of our schools is beneficial to both our children and their teachers.

Poor indoor air quality in school buildings can be caused by many things. Many old schools are plagued by mold growth, which happens when moisture and poor air circulation meet organic materials, like insulation, the grout in bathrooms, or even school books and other paper materials. Mold can be hazardous to indoor air quality and your health because to spread, mold releases airborne spores that are easy to breathe in. Mold spores can irritate children and adults with asthma and other chronic lung conditions, as well as cause itchy watery eyes, nasal congestion, and headaches.

Indoor air quality pollutants like VOCs and other chemicals are often a problem in learning environments as well. These harmful chemicals can come from a variety of sources such as building materials, soft or hard furnishings, or the materials used to clean the building. There is a growing awareness of scent-free environments in the adult workplace, but it’s not a bad idea to consider it for schools as well, as many students are easily affected by scents in their indoor air quality.

In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency reports that approximately 50% of schools have indoor air quality issues. Children are especially at risk because they are still growing and developing, and poor indoor air quality has been shown to make it harder for both children and adults to concentrate and focus. When the indoor air quality environment is poor, cold and flu viruses also spread quickly and affect more people, causing more absenteeism and lost learning experiences.

If you are concerned about the indoor air quality of the school your children attend, or a school where you work, the best way to create change is to get involved. Asking your parent association, school council, or board of directors to run indoor air quality testing to make sure that your school’s indoor environment is safe for everyone can give you peace of mind, especially if you have a child that suffers from chronic illness. indoor air quality issues in a school can require fixes both big and small, but providing a healthier learning environment benefits us all, and can start from small fixes, like changing to scent-free cleaning products, to larger solutions, like upgrading old HVAC and removing old building materials, such as things containing asbestos.

Get in touch with us at INSPECT IT ALL SERVICES if you’re interested in testing the indoor air quality of your school or workplace.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

How are Properties Restored After Fire Damage?

After a fire, properties are in critical condition due to fire, smoke and water damage. The only true way to restore a property after a fire is with the help of a damage restoration company. These companies use specialized equipment and techniques in a step-by-step process to bring back the property to its pre-loss condition. Here are the different stages of the fire damage restoration process:

Assessing the Degree of Damage

The restoration technicians inspect the property and assess the extent of the fire, smoke and soot damage, as well as damage from the water that was used to extinguish the fire. The restoration team will then discover all the visible and hidden damage.

Handling of Contents

After the extent of the damage is determined, the workers will move or remove items from the property. Items can be either restored or discarded, depending on the amount of damage they suffered. Restorable items can be restored on site or at a different location.

Protecting the Property

In a fire damage event, roofs, walls and windows will most likely be damaged. This can compromise the security of the property. The restoration contractor will provide board-up and roof-trap services to the property to secure it from intruders.

Removing Water and Drying

Once the property is secured, the damage restoration continues with removing the excess water that resulted from extinguishing the fire. After the water is removed, the technicians will dry the property completely to prevent further water damage.

Removing Smoke and Soot Residue

When the property is dried, the restoration team will clean the soot from surfaces, such as ceilings, floors, walls and items, using specialized equipment. The contractor will also eliminate biological and chemical pollutants and remove smoke odors using equipment such as foggers, ozone generators, and hydroxyl generators.

Cleaning and sanitization

At this stage in the fire damage restoration process, the remaining dust, debris, smoke and soot residue will be removed from items and surfaces, and the property will be sanitized.

Property restoration

In the final step, the restoration team will work to get the property back to its pre-loss condition. If needed, the property will undergo repairs and reconstruction, such as painting, replacing drywall or carpet, remodeling, or other necessary modifications. Some companies also offer demolition and complete property reconstruction services.

Finding the right fire damage restoration company is a difficult but critical task. The INSPECT IT ALL SERVICES team stands ready to provide professional restoration services to any property affected by fire, water or mold damage.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Safe Flood Clean-up Tips

Before entering a building where flood damage may have occurred, make sure it’s safe: check for electrical hazards and structural damage, and use proper protective gear like boots, gloves and respirators. Before you start any construction or repairs, check for common hazardous materials like lead paint and asbestos, which may require help from professional and licenced contractors.

Then, follow these tips:

Act quickly
The severity of damage escalates the longer water sits and building components and contents stay wet, so time is of the essence in the aftermath of a flood. In fact, mold will grow within 48-72 hours, so aim to start removing water and drying the environment within 48 hours. Have a list of professionals on hand to call, and understand your insurance policy, as some only cover mold damage up to a certain amount, while others don’t provide any reimbursement for mold.

Ventilate affected areas to prevent mold growth
Mold loves moisture and organic materials such as paper or particleboard. In order to mitigate or slow damage, open windows if weather permits and place fans inside of them to keep air moving and maintain moderate temperatures. Work toward the fan as you clean to minimize cross contamination.

Assess damage to items and materials
Assess the type of water absorbed by items, such as rainwater, water from broken pipes, contaminated river water or bacteria-filled sewage. There are ways to salvage specialty items but the decision on whether to save or trash an item will vary depending on the dollar and sentimental value to the owner. It may not be worthwhile to salvage drywall, carpets and pads, mattresses, pillows, box springs and particleboard. On the other hand, it might be worthwhile to restore costly Persian rugs, leather couches and antiques or heirlooms. Wet clothing and many household fabrics may be salvageable through machine washing, and a 10-minute soak in detergent and hot water, to remove contamination and stains. The IICRC strongly recommends that in water damages where there are contaminants present (e.g., bacteria, sewage, mold) or where small children or immune-compromised individuals are present that an inspection be conducted by an appropriately trained restorer and remediator.

Expose pockets of saturation
Hidden and concealed pockets of saturation need to be opened for cleaning and drying. Layers between building materials hold water that must be discovered and removed or dried. On walls, find the water line and inspect at least a foot beyond it to make sure all damage, wet materials and mold are discovered. Remove and discard the damaged drywall and wet wall insulation. Wet carpets can usually be dried by professionals with the right equipment, but carpet padding, which is like a big sponge, should be discarded. Wood base trim and hardwood can also be saved with the right equipment if they can be accessed and completely dried on both sides. Remember to investigate concealed cavities such as behind walls, in mechanical spaces, under cabinets and furniture, and in crawl spaces.

Conduct a thorough cleaning
Durable, non-porous or semi-porous materials, such as studs and joists, hardwood flooring and vinyl products, can be cleaned with common cleaning products or specialized products with detergents. During cleaning, take care to protect areas that are unaffected by the water or mold. After a thorough cleaning of salvageable materials, a disinfectant solution may need to be applied in case of harmful bacteria from sewage, river water debris or even standing water that has gone bad. Professionals like water restoration and mold remediation contractors and indoor environmental professionals can help you decide what is best for your situation. Once you’ve cleaned the wet materials, conduct another round of cleaning. If you choose to vacuum, use a HEPA-filter vacuum to remove allergens, fine dust and spores.

Confirm drying before reconstruction
In order to prevent dry rot and structural damage, it’s important not to reconstruct or cover wood and other wet materials until the moisture content has been adequately reduced. A water restoration professional can confirm proper drying before reconstruction.

In most cases its best to call professionals to clean up and tear out the affected materials.  If you need help contact Inspect it All. We can help you with every step!

For emergency services call 306-540-6832 on our 24 hour hotline.