Know these simple principles for maintaining a healthy home or building:

By | Indoor Environmental Quality | No Comments

Know these simple principles for maintaining a healthy home or building:

  • Keep it dry: Prevent water from entering your home through leaks in roofing systems, prevent rainwater from entering the home due to poor drainage, and check your interior plumbing for any leaking.
  • Keep it clean: Control the source of dust and contaminants, creating smooth and cleanable surfaces, reducing clutter, and using effective wet-cleaning methods.
  • Keep it safe: Store poisons out of the reach of children and properly label. Secure loose rugs and keep children’s play areas free from hard or sharp surfaces. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and keep fire extinguishers on hand.
  • Keep it well ventilated: Ventilate bathrooms and kitchens and use whole-house ventilation for supplying fresh air to reduce the concentration of contaminants in the home.
  • Keep it pest-free: All pests look for food, water, and shelter. Seal cracks and openings throughout the home; store food in pest-resistant containers. If needed, use sticky-traps and baits in closed containers, along with least-toxic pesticides such as boric acid powder.
  • Keep it contaminant-free: Reduce lead-related hazards in pre-1978 homes by fixing deteriorated paint, and keeping floors and window areas clean using a wet-cleaning approach. Test your home for radon, a naturally occurring dangerous gas that enters homes through soil, crawlspaces, and foundation cracks. Install a radon removal system if levels above the EPA action level are detected.
  • Keep it well maintained: Inspect, clean, and repair your home routinely. Take care of minor repairs and problems before they become large repairs and problems.
  • Keep it thermally controlled: Houses that do not maintain adequate temperatures may place the safety of residents at increased risk from exposure to extreme cold or heat.

For more detail, visit https://www.hudexchange.info/resource/5675/healthy-housing-toolkit-for-housing-counselors/

Or

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit baxtergroupinc.com.  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY e-book.

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PROTECT YOUR BUILDING OCCUPANTS and FAMILY

By | Indoor Environmental Quality | No Comments

“A healthy home is a home that is maintained to avoid illness and injury.  Health hazards in the home can affect anyone, but children are particularly vulnerable.  Concerns include air quality, mold and moisture, lead hazard control, pest management, and injury prevention.” – US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Which hazards are at the top of the list?

  • Lead-based paint and lead hazards
  • Mold and moisture
  • Radon
  • Pests
  • Home safety and injury prevention
  • Carbon monoxide.

For more detail, visit https://www.hudexchange.info/resource/5675/healthy-housing-toolkit-for-housing-counselors/

Or

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit baxtergroupinc.com.  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY e-book.

Don’t let your Home and Building Maintenance catch you off guard! Don’t let it get off-track!

By | Indoor Environmental Quality | No Comments

It’s Spring!  What are some of the items a building owner should be checking?

  • Deck/patio for mold and mildew.
  • Deck/patio slant so that water drains away from the house.
  • Hoses and outdoor facets to confirm they are working properly.
  • Gutters and downspouts for repairs or clogs.
  • Sprinklers for leaks or necessary adjustments.
  • All air filters. Replace where needed.
  • Windows and screens for damage.
  • Air conditioners and/or HVAC systems for proper performance.
  • Dryer vents and hoses for debris or obstructions.
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors for proper performance.
  • Kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans for debris, clogs and proper performance.
  • Caulking in showers, tubs, and sinks.
  • Roofs for leaks, cracks, broken shingles. Don’t forget to check the flashings.

For a more detailed HEALTHY BUILDINGS CHECKLIST, email a request to jm@baxtergroupinc.com.

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit baxtergroupinc.com.  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY e-book.

What are the benefits to a Healthy Building Check-Up?

By | Indoor Environmental Quality | No Comments

Regular Healthy Building Check-Ups are inspections that ensure a building and all its systems function properly to keep the building healthy and safe.

  • Inspections help identify existing hazards in a building.
  • Inspections help identify potential hazards before they become a crisis.
  • Inspections help identify underlying causes of unhealthy buildings or safety risks.
  • Inspections reveal corrective actions needed to avoid compliance issues.
  • Inspections help monitor risks or hazards.

A Healthy Building Checklist can be requested by emailing jm@baxtergroupinc.com.

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit baxtergroupinc.com.  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY e-book.

The Dangers of Deferred Maintenance!

By | Indoor Environmental Quality | No Comments

Preventative maintenance saves building owners thousands of dollars over the lifetime of a building.  Maintenance is a big part of making sure that equipment and building systems remain safe and functional.  With limited budgets it is tempting to forgo regular maintenance and healthy building check-ups.

Here are the dangers of deferring a Healthy Building Check-Up and preventative maintenance:

  • Costly equipment failure
  • High costs of reactive maintenance
  • Unhealthy or unsafe environments for occupants
  • Decreased occupant satisfaction with the property
  • Long lists of unexpected work orders or repairs
  • Fines from regulatory agencies
  • Shorter equipment life cycles
  • Hampered productivity
  • Negative impact of the store-front image
  • An overworked team experiencing burnout and stress

Preventative maintenance programs are designed to help a maintenance teams get ahead of maintenance issues, ensure properly functioning equipment, and save money over time.

How to Overcome Deferred Maintenance Issues?

  • Audit current maintenances processes, systems, and projects.
  • Employ a system of logging all maintenance activities in each particular building.
  • Employ a centralized work order system.
  • Prioritize maintenance issues.
  • Employ annual or bi-annual Healthy Building Check-Ups.

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit baxtergroupinc.com.  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY e-book.

 

What are the typical basement waterproofing or water-control methods one should consider in basements and crawlspaces?

By | Wet Basements | No Comments

Waterproofing methods are actually water-control methods!  The water must be controlled to prevent it from penetrating the basement foundation or floor or to divert it away from the building.

Popular methods include:

  • Interior wall and floor sealers
  • Interior water drainage
  • Exterior drainage
  • Exterior waterproofing coatings
  • Box-type waterproofing
  • Foundation crack injections
  • Dehumidification systems

Prior to any such systems being installed, all other systems that could be contributing to water intrusions should be identified and addressed.  Poor landscaping, gutters and downspouts, driveway and sidewalk issues, etc., should be addressed.  Water takes the easiest path of entry into basements and crawlspaces.  Building systems such as these were created to control water and keep it out of our buildings.  Once it’s determined that these systems are not enough, then a water-control system should be employed.

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit baxtergroupinc.com.  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY e-book.

 

WHAT CAUSES MOLD?

By | Mold | No Comments

No one likes mold in their home. Mold not only causes health problems such as allergies and even infections, but mold is an eyesore and can spread like wildfire. Understanding what causes mold in your home, is the first step in preventing mold in your home.

What causes mold?  Mold is caused by an excess of humidity in your home. The humidity levels in your home should never be more than 50%. You can test your home’s humidity by purchasing a digital hygrometer, which measures the humidity in the air of your home.

How to prevent mold?  Preventing mold is a lot simpler than it may seem. You do not need anything fancy. If you find that the humidity in the air is over 50%, then you can purchase a dehumidifier for your home or air moisture collecting bags to hang up.

There are some other measures you can take as well when it comes to mold prevention in your home too. Making sure that air is flowing freely is a must. When airflow is restricted or cut off, moisture in the air can settle and build up, causing mold. Make sure ventilation is not blocked off and that air can get through all parts of your house.

Leaks are another big culprit of mold growth. Identifying any leaks and fixing them helps to prevent excess moisture from collecting.

Flooding is also a common reason people develop mold in their homes. Even small floods need to be cleaned and dried as quickly as possible to prevent any mold in the home.

Using the right flooring is another way to ensure your home stays mold free. Certain types of flooring, such as carpet, can retain moisture more than other types of flooring, like laminate flooring. Because of this, carpet is a bad choice for places like your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room. There are a lot of opportunities for the floor to get wet in these areas. When carpet is not properly dry, it makes a great place for mold to grow. So, when your carpet does get wet, dry it immediately to prevent mold from harboring in your home.

Written and contributed by our friends at LAUNCHUX.

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit baxtergroupinc.com.  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY e-book.

What is basement water-control and when should a basement water-control system be considered?

By | Wet Basements | No Comments

Basement water-control simply means that the water in and around the building foundation is being controlled.  Buildings have numerous systems, including gutters and downspouts that are meant to control the water and keep it from entering the building.  A basement water-control system is a system that captures the water and routes it out of and away from the building.

Water in soil causes hydrostatic pressure to be exerted underneath basement floors and walls.  This hydrostatic pressure can force water in cracks, which can cause major structural damage as well as mold, decay, and other moisture-related problems.

Water seepage in basements and crawl spaces usually occurs over long periods of time and can be caused by numerous factors.  A full assessment of the property should be performed prior to considering the installation of a water-control system.  An assessment should include:

  • A visual walk-through of the basement and/or crawlspace,
  • An exterior inspection, including roof, gutter, downspout, landscaping, etc.
  • An interior inspection, including plumbing, appliance exhausts, etc.

Typical assessments reveal:

  • High humidity levels which could lead to structural damage and mold contamination.
  • Pockets of air that have developed in the concrete, causing the concrete to crack, which then allows water to force its way through the wall or floor.
  • Movement in foundations or footings caused by the building settling, soil erosion around the foundation, or seismic activity, which allows water to force its way in.
  • Damaged or clogged exterior weeping tile, gutters or downspouts that were installed to direct water away from the property that is now allowing the rainwater to be absorbed by the soil at the foundation adding to the hydrostatic pressure.
  • Hydrostatic pressure from soil saturation, causing enough pressure to force the water through cracks, gaps, and openings.
  • Water build-up in window wells during or after heavy raining or snow, leading to leaks in basement window seams.

All these issues should be addressed prior to considering a basement water-control system.

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit baxtergroupinc.com.  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY e-book.

#breathehealthyinitiative

DAMP is an Enemy to Buildings!

By | Wet Basements | No Comments

DAMP is an Enemy to Buildings!

When performing your Spring Healthy Building Check-Up be on the lookout for indications of dampness.  Dampness provides an environment for mold to grow and pests to water.  Dampness is also the fuel for deterioration to attack building components.

Dampness and interior humidity levels at 60% or more should raise the question: “What is the source?”  The source should be remedied prior to cleaning up the area of concern or repairing damaged components.  Without addressing the source, the problems caused by the dampness will resurface.

Common types of dampness in a building include:

  • Condensation
  • Ground water absorption
  • Water intrusions
  • High humidity

Condensation typically occurs when moist air is prevented from escaping the property due to poor ventilation.  Signs of condensation issues include water droplets on windows or walls, peeling or stained building components, musty odors, or mold growth.  Condensation can be remedied through proper ventilation or control of humidity levels.

Ground water absorption tends to occur when moisture barriers fail or the ground water levels increase in the soil surrounding the foundation of the building.  Signs of ground water absorption include an efflorescent layer on building materials (looks like salt), dark patches or stains on concrete or brick walls, musty smells, rotting building components.

The source of ground water absorption and water intrusions should be identified.  Check landscaping to confirm that water is taken away from the building.  Check gutters and downspouts to confirm they are not in need of repair and confirm they take the water away from the building.  If all sources of possible water intrusion have been identified and remedied, a water-control system may need to be considered.

A dehumidifier in rooms that tend to have humidity levels over 50% can be an occupant’s best friend.  Today’s dehumidifiers can be set to come on automatically at 40 or 45%, keeping the humidity at levels conducive to the health of the building and its occupants.

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit baxtergroupinc.com.  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY e-book.

#breathehealthyinitiative

SO, GOT A WET BASEMENT or CRAWLSPACE. WHERE TO START?

By | Uncategorized, Wet Basements | No Comments

SO, GOT A WET BASEMENT or CRAWLSPACE. WHERE TO START?

Having a full assessment is the wisest move. Stories are rampant of building owners who have paid for extensive and expensive waterproofing systems … only to find that by making other water-control repairs they could have avoided installation of such a system.

Needed gutter repairs is a great example: The rainwater pours off the roof, around and through the deteriorating gutter system, down the foundation  wall of the building and right into the newly installed French drains. However, if the gutters had been repaired, the need for the French drains would have been eliminated.

In performing a full assessment, all sources of water are being identified, whether they are coming from landscaping issues, issues with the exterior systems of the building, or issues with the interior systems of the building. A full assessment would start with a visual walk-through of the interior, inspecting any suspect items or areas (like plumbing) that could be a source of water entry, noting areas of concern, and taking pictures where possible. The more information one has the better. All the information will be used in developing a permanent water-control plan.

This would then be followed by a visual walk-about of the entire exterior of the building and its surrounding landscape. Possible concerns noted in a visual walk-through of the interior would include:

  • Cracks in the walls and floors.
  • Peeling paint and efflorescence.
  • Movement in the foundation or footings.
  • Water intrusions in the walls and floors.
  • Buckled or bowed walls.
  • Sump-pump issues.
  • Hydrostatic pressure or high-water table indicators.
  • Visible mold.
  • Leaking pipes.
  • Water stains.

The exterior assessment would begin with identifying any issues with landscaping and grading, drainage, gutter, downspout, roofing, or windows.

When performing a full investigation, personal safety should be considered, especially in older buildings were there could be issues with electrical wiring, mechanical systems, deteriorating asbestos-containing material, or hazardous material storage. In all buildings, radon exposure should be a concern as well. In both crawl spaces and unoccupied basements, be weary of animal and insect infestations, feces and other animal waste. Precautions should be taken to protect the person(s) performing the assessment.

All of the information gathered is then reviewed and an action plan is established. The action plan may encompass a process of making repairs and then determining if those repairs were enough to eliminate the water problem. When all repairs have been made and one finds that the water has not been controlled, it is then time to move to a water-control system, aka waterproofing.

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit baxtergroupinc.com.  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY e-book.

#breathehealthyinitiative