What should I do when I find mold when I am renovating?

By | Indoor Air Quality, Indoor Environmental Quality, Mold, Renovation | No Comments

Many D-I-Yers that take on home renovation projects like interior painting, kitchen remodeling, bathroom renovation, floor replacement, and window replacement, rarely understand the risks of mold. Even if they do, they may not know how to ensure that the mold contamination is prevented from spreading throughout the home.

The biggest risk you encounter by doing the renovation yourself or hiring an inexperienced contractor is contamination, meaning the mold spores spread throughout the home. You need to contain the area where you find mold to prevent this from happening. Most importantly, prevent the spores from entering and contaminating your HVAC system and air ducts, which could spread spores throughout your home.

With this in mind, if you find mold during the teardown process of drywall, removal of carpet or flooring, and/or during the removal of bathroom fixtures such as the tub, shower liner, etc. your  FIRST STEP is to determine the extent of the problem. 

Before you continue with your project, determine what the underlying moisture issue is because mold only grows when there is moisture present. Further renovations and reconstruction should only resume once the cause of the moisture problem is identified and fixed. Failure to do this will result in future costly headaches if this step is not taken.

If you are seriously considering removing the mold yourself, contact an indoor environmental consultant for an educated assessment and further advice on how to tackle the issue.

It is worth getting a mold inspection and/or air quality test on your home before you decide to remove any mold yourself. It is better to be safer than sorry when you are dealing with mold because exposure can cause health issues.

If you decide to remove the mold yourself, make sure you keep these tips in mind:

  1. Prevent cross-contamination by setting up containment, using a polyurethane barrier at least 3 mil thick that you can get from your local hardware store. Also, be sure to cover any vents or shut down the HVAC system in the area of mold removal.
  2. Understand that mold can be life-threatening, so be safe. Wear safety glasses, rubber gloves, an N95 or equivalent respirator, and a disposable suit.
  3. Don’t just spray the mold-contaminated materials with bleach, praying your mold problem will go away. Bleach is not effective on porous materials, so it is best to properly dispose of contaminated ceiling tiles, carpet, drywall, etc. Be sure to use 3 mil thick trash bags and dispose of mold-contaminated materials properly, double bagging is recommended.
  4. Mold contamination on non-porous materials can be scrubbed or brushed off then possibly encapsulated with mold inhibiting paint. You may find a microband at your local hardware store or online that could be effective.
  5. To prevent mold spores from becoming airborne and spreading use a HEPA-equipped vacuum that filters up to 99.97% of contaminants.

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY ebook.

Do You Know The Most Dangerous Material In Your Pre-1980 Home?

By | Home Improvement, Indoor Air Quality, Renovation, Safety | No Comments

Do you know what it is?

And more importantly, do you know if you’re at risk?

Let’s say you’re deciding whether or not to go with a new look with your kitchen or bathroom this summer before the holidays. You’ve created a checklist of things like

  • New cabinets
  • Paint
  • Appliances
  • Flooring.

After doing some research and finding out what direction you want to go in, you now schedule to have a licensed contractor come and give a few estimates. During this inspection, he mentions your home has asbestos 9×9 tile in the kitchen.

Now you’re stuck wondering what to do next, how much it will cost, whether your health is in danger, and many other questions you will have along the way.

We have the information you need.

Our first recommendation is: Get it tested

Not all 9×9 tile is asbestos positive, but most 9×9 tile in a home built before 1980 is greater than 1% asbestos.

Our second recommendation: See if it is in good condition

If the tile is in good condition then don’t disturb it. Asbestos is only dangerous to your health once it is disturbed. In most cases, you can cover the existing floor with another layer of flooring material which lowers the risk of being exposed to asbestos fibers.

Our third recommendation: Take action if it’s in bad condition

In this case, you should think about contacting a licensed asbestos abatement contractor. The risk of exposure once the tile is disturbed, whether it be broken already or breaking the tile during removal, is extremely high and without proper P.P.E your health would be at risk. According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the dangers of asbestos can be Asbestostis (chronic lung disease), lists various types of cancer and also some nonmalignant diseases. Either way, it’s best to keep yourself educated to make sure you are doing everything possible to keep you and your family safe.

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY ebook.

What is one of the most dangerous long term effects of a Basement Renovation?

By | Home Improvement, Radon, Renovation | No Comments

The simple answer is exposure to radon gas, which is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.

The bigger question is why. There is a variety of answers to that question so we’ll provide some background.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer according to the EPA. Radon gas is inert, colorless and odorless. Radon is naturally in the atmosphere in trace amounts. Outdoors, radon disperses rapidly and, generally, is not a health issue. Most radon exposure occurs inside homes, schools, and workplaces.

Radon is a soil gas that is formed from the Polonium and Uranium in the soil around your home that tends to seep through the imperfections in your basement retaining wall. Imper

fections may include plumbing or electrical penetrations through below-grade walls that aren’t sealed properly, cracks in slab floor or below grade walls, and possibly an unsealed sump. It is recommended to test for radon before and after the renovation project to assess whether the radon level is higher than the EPA recommends.

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY ebook.

Mrs. B’s Anxiety . . . Another true story advocating safe renovations . . .

By | Renovation | No Comments

Mrs. B’s anxiety was running rampant… Another true story advocating SAFE RENOVATIONS!

The mid-1950s home was located in a quiet Western Maryland neighborhood.  Moving boxes were on the front porch.  A dumpster sat in the driveway full of old cabinets and shelving.  The sound of a saw and hammers resounded from within the home. I was greeted by a friendly face, but I could tell in her expression she was uneasy. We walked in her residence as she explained to me that she just bought the home and was planning on removing a wall and opening up the kitchen space.  She painted a picture of the renovated kitchen with a center island, stylish cabinets, and rustic colors.

Mrs. B explained that she had not been able to sleep after seeing a news report about potential hazardous building materials in older homes.  In looking around at the kitchen I shared the fact that she may be disturbing lead-based painted components and asbestos-containing floor tile and mastic currently in her kitchen.  Her face signaled dismay as she asked, “Why would you think these materials are hazardous?”

Quality paints produced prior to 1979 typically contained lead-based paint.  When knocking out the wall, the disturbance to the painted surfaces would release lead dust into the building.  I highly recommended that she have it tested prior to renovations.  If it is lead-based paint, then she would want to protect herself and the environment from the spread of lead dust.  An XRF Analyzer would indicate the concentration of lead in the paint to help her plan to remove the wall safely.  She asked me to take a reading of the paint.  The analyzer instantly have me a reading of 1.1 mg/cm sq. In Maryland anything at or above 0.7 mg/cm is considered lead-based paint and the proper precautions should be taken when removing.

Then she asked about the floor tile.   The only way to know for sure if the tile contained asbestos is to have it sent to a lab for analysis. We found that it contained 3% Chrysolite.

After a few simple tests, Mrs. B was now able to put a renovation plan in place that includes safe renovation practices that would protect her, her helpers, and her neighborhood.

If you would like more information on lead-based paint or asbestos-containing materials in homes and buildings, please email for free literature.

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


PROTECT Yourself & Your Team from the Health Risks of Remodeling!

By | Renovation | No Comments

PROTECT Yourself & Your Team from the Health Risks of Remodeling!



By RE Resources Team

February 10, 2017 at 3:38 PM

If you’ve recently purchased a fixer-upper and a home remodel is on your agenda, beware of potential health risks. Older homes are notorious for harboring numerous hazards like lead, asbestos, radon, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). Mold and mildew are often another problem when opening up walls during demolition, which allows dangerous pollutants to fill the air you and your family breath. Respiratory problems (or worse) can become serious health issues when you don’t manage these pollutants properly. However, if you’re aware of the risks, you can take measures to minimize the effects these hazards might have both during and after your home remodel. Start by learning what hazards to look for and where they might hide in older houses.

Lead Paint

Lead paint is one of the two most well-known hazards. Prior to the ban of lead paint in 1978, lead was used as a pigment and drying agent for painting homes. Thus, you can assume any house built before the ban probably has lead paint present, though it may be hidden underneath several layers of lead-free paint.

Lead paint was actually banned in Staten Island and throughout New York City in 1960. NY authorities caution homeowners not to remove paint by dry scraping or sanding in homes older than 1960, because dust from lead-based paint is the most common cause of lead poisoning in children.

Certification by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required of any firm performing a home remodel where lead-based paint will be disturbed. Each renovator must also be certified and taught by EPA-approved trainers. Rules for properly disposing of lead-based paint debris varies by municipality, so contact local authorities before disturbing old paint.


Asbestos is the other most well-known hazard and another common problem in older homes. You may find asbestos in old insulation, pipes, floor coverings, cement siding, roofing, ceiling tiles, spackling compound, adhesives and more. Again, contractors or renovators must have EPA accreditation and be fully trained and qualified in the safe removal of asbestos.

The greatest danger from this pollutant is when it becomes airborne, which can happen if you disturb it during a home remodel. Inhaled or ingested asbestos particles can cause lung disease and various cancers, and the symptoms might not even surface for years.

Insulation and pipe coverings are often the most likely and most dangerous source of asbestos in older homes, because the dried material crumbles easily and releases asbestos freely. While asbestos in floor tiles and roof shingles is less likely to become airborne, they should still be handled appropriately.

Keep Dust Down

In most home remodel projects, dust isn’t just the biggest nuisance, it’s also one thing both lead and asbestos have in common. Both pollutants become harmful or even toxic when disturbed and their dust particles present the most danger. It’s important you and your contractor have a dust control plan for every project that produces dust. This could include isolating the area you’re working on from the rest of the house, removing or covering furnishings and sealing all doors and air ducts. While dust is a natural part of the renovation process, capture and minimize dust as much as possible to protect you, your workers and family members.

Avoid Mold Growth

Damp or wet conditions can lead to mold growth. Older homes have had numerous opportunities for various water-related incidents. Leaking roofs, busted pipes, broken water heaters, backed up drains and flood water all leave behind moisture. If each drenching wasn’t properly cleaned up, mold could lurk underneath carpets or other flooring, in the attic or basement and/or behind walls.

Removing flooring or opening up walls with mold contamination can release harmful mold spores into the air. The most toxic is black mold, which is greenish-black and typically slimy, but can appear powdery when it dries out. Respiratory problems and irritation to the mucous membranes are common when you’re exposed to black mold, but it could lead to worse health issues.

Many of the potential health risks associated with remodeling an older home can be serious, chronic or even fatal. Hazardous materials you might encounter could cause balance and coordination issues, breathing difficulties, central nervous system problems, eye irritation, fatigue, frequent cough, frequent headaches, lead poisoning, liver and kidney damage, lung cancer, Mesothelioma, nausea, nose and throat irritation, skin rash and more. Approach any home remodel with caution and order appropriate testing of substances you’re unsure whether they pose a potential threat to your health, because you never know what might be lurking in your home.

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

UNDERSTANDING VOCs in Paint for Safe Renovations

By | Renovation | No Comments

Understanding VOCs in paint and coating materials for a safe and healthy renovation project

Most paint and coating materials off-gas VOCs. Although they may still emit an odor and VOCs, high-quality, low- or no-VOC paint and coating products are available and are a better choice when protecting the quality of the air in indoor environments.

Water-based acrylic latex paints are generally lower in VOCs than other options, are safe to handle, and can be cleaned up with water, reducing the health risks to workers and minimizing hazardous waste.

Review the SDS to confirm that the products contain no lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium or cadmium. Industrial and commercial paints may still contain these components.

Other building materials should be isolated and protected from the off- gassing so as not to absorb the VOCs and emit them back into the air after renovations.

Properly ventilate the area or use negative air machines exhausted to the outdoors during renovations and for a minimum of 72 hours after renovations are completed to minimize any off-gassing or VOCs that may be released in the air.

When sanding building components or painted areas, a respirator should be worn by all workers in the work area.

Work areas and areas adjacent to the work areas should be unoccupied during the application of paint and other coatings. When feasible, consider applying coatings to building components off-site prior to installation.

Prior to application of paints and coatings on-site, cover all surrounding surfaces with poly sheeting to minimize damage and absorption of off- gases.

Follow manufacturers’ recommendations and instruction for application, cleanup, storage, and disposal.

Keep paint and coating containers covered as much as possible to minimize the amount of off-gassing.

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


THINGS TO DO so You Have No Regrets After Remodeling!

By | Renovation | No Comments

THINGS TO DO so You Have No Regrets After Remodeling

  • Make a thorough plan. Start with the end in mind and work backwards with what steps and tasks need done.
  • Create a budget and estimate the costs knowing you may need to adjust upwards.
  • Careful with the timing . . . what is more important: That the project be complete by a certain date? Or, that your dream renovation be done correctly and to perfection.
  • If you lack expertise in certain steps of the project, hire an expert. In the long run, you can save yourself time, money, and aggravation.
  • Confirm what building permits, building codes, and regulations may impact your project.
  • Prior to starting renovations, have the lead-based paint and asbestos identified so that you can protect yourself during renovations.
  • Make sure your renovation project includes safe work practices and personal protective equipment.
  • Plan on isolating the work area from other parts of the home or building so as not to contaminate any living spaces.
  • 2021 Recommendation: Don’t start the project until you have all the materials and supplies.  Many construction materials are currently on back order.

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


Mr. W’s Lead-in-blood levels were through the roof . . . a true story advocating for SAFE RENOVATIONS

By | Lead, Renovation | No Comments

The early 20th century house sat just off the sidewalk of a side street of the little Pennsylvania town. The missing steps and deserted tools evidenced the porch under construction. There were no curtains in the front window, and a 2×4 could be seen leaning over the inside of the window. The sound of a running bandsaw vibrated through my ear as I headed for the side entrance as instructed in our phone conversation. I knocked on the door, the saw went silent, and I was greeted by the retired couple. Huge smiles and a welcoming hand captured my attention immediately. As I shook Mr. W’s hand, he gently drew me into his kitchen.

After introductions, he said, “Let me show you what we are doing.” With enthusiasm, he noted that the kitchen was complete, and he was currently working on the front living room and performing some work upstairs. After a tour of the living room, fireplace room, back porch and upstairs living room, we settled on the bar stools at the kitchen island. Mr. W pulled out the report from his doctor noting that the lead in his blood was at 97 – dangerously high for an adult. He suspected that the lead may be leaching from the solder in the old copper pipes of their home and current renovation project. They had stopped drinking from their well water, but their doctor recommended that he have the water tested.

As my eyes glanced across the counter, I noted it was the only space without a layer of dust. I expressed my concern about the possibility that the dust was the issue. Mr. W looked at me puzzled, then commented, “But, I’m not eating the dust.” I handed him the EPA brochure, “The Lead Certified Guide to Renovate Right” and let him know I had brought the water test kit he had requested on the phone. I had also brought my XRF Analyzer and would like to have permission to take an analysis of some of the painted surfaces he was disturbing. Staring at the pamphlet, he nodded his head in a slow, still puzzled, “Yes.”

I walked into the living room, walked pass the band saw, pressed the nose of the XRF against the wall, and pulled the trigger. Twenty-five seconds later the screen displayed a number and the word “negative.” Mr. and Mrs. W released a sigh of relief as I announced the negative reading. Then I went to the pile of baseboards that had been removed from the wall, placed the nose of the XRF against one of them and pulled the trigger: positive.

  • Windowsills: positive.
  • Crown moldings: positive.
  • Hall wall: positive.
  • Hall floor: positive.
  • Fireplace mantel: positive.
  • Stair rail: positive.
  • Stair stringer: positive.
  • Stair tread: positive.
  • Bedroom wall: positive.

I took a sample of the water, and a few days later the lab report returned with a negative for lead. The dust wipes I had collected, however, came back with high readings for lead content. When I called Mr. W with the results, it was obvious he had not only read the pamphlet I provided him with, he had also done some on-line research. He had become the expert on SAFE RENOVATIONS. He had also scheduled an appointment for Mrs. W to have her blood tested. He shared his deep regret that he had not protected his wife of 40 years from potential lead poisoning. Mr. W. would have been safe if he had contained the work areas so as not to cross-contaminate the areas around the work area and had he donned the proper personal protective equipment.  He then added, “… and what else could I have disturbed that could cause us and our visiting family future health issues?”

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

Renovations by Baxter Group

By | Renovation | No Comments


Renovations by Baxter Group, Inc.

After a recent acquisition, Baxter Group now sports the expertise to give your home or office a fresh new look! In need of a new deck or just looking to spruce up a space? We’ve got you covered!

Check out our new services:

  • Additions
  • Crawlspace Conditioning
  • Foundations
  • Masonry Wall Reinforcement and Crack Repairs
  • Remodeling (Basements, Bathrooms, Kitchens, and More)
  • Repairs
  • Replacements (Doors, Siding, Windows, and More)
  • New Construction (Garages, Decks, Porches, etc.)
  • Basement De-watering Systems

Check out some of our recent work