Wexford

Wexford (Change Location)

Case STUDIES

case studies in Pittsburgh PA

Case Studies

Garage Ceiling Mold Remediation with Hidden Water Source 

Location: Wexford, PA 15090

Problem: Customer called to have a mold inspection and estimate for suspect microbial growth on the drywall ceiling of her garage and rear drywall wall of the garage which housed a powder room on the other side.

Upon inspection visible suspect growth was observed and moisture meter readings indicated affected areas were currently wet. Ceiling and wall would need to be opened up after placing area under containment and negative air pressure to evaluate the growth on the backside of the drywall that was not visible.

The customer was not sure where the water source was coming from, as far as she knew there were no water issues but she suspected it could possibly be rain runoff coming from her patio which is located along the concrete block wall and is at the ceiling height. She stated the mold had only recently appeared but they also recently had some work done on the patio. Mold removal was performed due to the water damage. 

Solution: Set corner of garage and powder room under containment and negative air pressure using a HEPA filtered air scrubber. Removed approximately a 5' x 5' area of the ceiling drywall as well as a 2' x 8' section of the rear wall. Discovered additional growth on the rear of the powder room wall which also had to be removed. After opening up the ceiling it was found that the 3" black plastic drainage pipe had a very small 2" long crack in the pipe at one of the 90 degree fittings in the ceiling thus letting water drip out every time the sink or shower were used upstairs. The pipe was repaired by a plumber and all the surfaces inside the containment area were HEPA vacuumed then wiped down with an EPA approved anti-microbial and then HEPA vacuumed again. The air scrubber was left to run an additional 48 hours to contain any air borne spores after which the mold remediation was complete and ready for replacement of the drywall and insulation.  

Sometimes the problem is not what it appears to be and it is good to call in a professional to evaluate the situation.

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115 Year Old Home Air Duct Cleaning 

Location: Pittsburgh, PA 15221

Problem: Customer requested air duct cleaning of their home which is approximately 115 years old. The home originally had a coal stove/coal room (coal room and coal remnants still present today) and forced air heating was added about 50-60 years ago. The home had years of layers of coal dust on the beams and surfaces in the basement where the furnace was located at. This typically means all that dust from the basement was being circulated throughout the forced air system over the years, so I was expecting the duct work to be extra dirty. I was not disappointed! Air duct cleaning was the then performed. 

Solution: We hooked up our HEPA filtered high powered vacuum to the system to create negative air pressure starting on the supply trunk lines. We donned our respirator protection and proceeded to get to work. We removed each register grille HEPA vacuuming the grille and wall boot then wiping down each with a mild cleaner. After all the grilles were removed and cleaned we sealed off all of the grille openings to create maximum negative air pressure within the system. We then fired up our 175 psi air compressor and starting with the furthest most branch line agitated the branch line duct work using a combination of whips and air pressure to move the dirt and debris back to the HEPA vacuum for collection. We repeated this procedure for all of the supply vents then moved the vacuum over to the return vents and did the same. When it was all said and done the vacuum collection bag was filled with heavy particulate and black powdery dust and we looked like we just worked a shift in the coal mine! All in all the 115 year old home now has a clean set of lungs and the home owners can breathe easier now. 

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Dryer Exhaust Gone Wrong

Location: Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Problem: The salon owner called us in to clean their dryer exhaust as they were having issues with the towels drying. Once on site we found that the dryer vent was connected into a larger round duct that also was being used for the exhaust fans in 2 bathrooms and 2 bathroom/shower areas. These 4 bathrooms the owner pointed out to us had considerable water staining around the ceiling exhaust fans and 2 even had signs of possible mold growth. Obviously there was a high moisture problem related to the bathroom exhausts. and how they were vented. I told the owner we would find out what was going on and get the problem corrected for them. Moisture control and dryer vent cleaning was performed. 

Solution: We started as we normally do by disconnecting the dryer flex line out of the back of the dryer. Cleaning the dryer flex line, the back of the dryer, the lint trap and door then wiping everything down with a mild cleaner. We then cleaned the 4" dryer duct up to the point where it entered the larger 8" round duct in the ceiling. So far so good the duct work definitely needed cleaning but nothing out of the ordinary until....we got to the larger duct in the ceiling! Once we opened up the larger duct we found that the 4 bathroom exhaust fans were connected to the larger main duct from the bottom. The dryer vent was connected to the end which allowed all of the dryer lint to collect along the bottom of the larger duct basically clogging the bathroom exhaust vents. This created a blockage on each fan and with the added moisture coming from the dryer vent along with bathroom moisture, water was pooling in the bottom of the larger duct and dripping down into the bathroom exhaust fans and ceiling causing the water staining. We actually had one of the bathroom exhaust light fixtures filled with water when we removed it. Ultimately we were able to clean the entire length of the larger duct work (about 50') and got each exhaust fan up and running (except 1 the motor burned up!) as well as the dryer again. But I let the owner know this could have caused a fire and the dryer vent should ALWAYS have its own exhaust to the outside and never be mixed in with any other type of exhaust fans. I should also mention since we were working in the ceiling over the spa suites the work had to be completed after hours over the weekend in the evening so as to not disturb any clients. The dryer vent cleaning made the customer very happy. 

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Damp Basement Wall

Location: Pittsburgh, PA 15241

Problem: Customer called us in to examine an unpainted concrete block wall in her basement that previously had become damp after heavy rains. She had just recently purchased the home and the area in the basement that was damp was directly below a downspout on the outside of her home. She determined that the downspout was clogged causing water to overflow onto the ground causing excessive water and thus the basement wall became wet, she since has had the downspout cleaned out. We noted some areas of the wall showing white and dark discolorations. The white was probably efflorescence (minerals and salts in the block coming to the surface with the moisture) and the dark areas probably just water staining as mold does not typically grow on an inorganic material such as concrete block. The wall appeared dry at the time of our inspection so hopefully the water issue was resolved. But the customer wanted a moisture control solution to keep out any moisture in case it re-occurred.

Solution: We first wire brushed the wall to remove as much of the mineral deposits and staining as possible. Then we HEPA vacuumed the entire wall to be sure it was free of dirt and dust. We then applied 2 coats of Masonry Guard which is a mold-resistant waterproof coating to the concrete block. End result is a beautiful white finished wall that will ward off moisture, mildew and mold for years to come! Here basement is now moisture free and water damage should stay out! 

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Garage Ceiling Mold Remediation w/ Hidden Water Source!

Problem: Customer called to have a mold inspection and estimate for suspect microbial growth on the drywall ceiling of her garage and rear drywall wall of the garage which housed a powder room on the other side.

Upon inspection visible suspect growth was observed and moisture meter readings indicated affected areas were currently wet. Ceiling and wall would need to be opened up after placing area under containment and negative air pressure to evaluate the growth on the backside of the drywall that was not visible.

The customer was not sure where the water source was coming from, as far as she knew there were no water issues but she suspected it could possibly be rain runoff coming from her patio which is located along the concrete block wall and is at the ceiling height. She stated the mold had only recently appeared but they also recently had some work done on the patio.

Solution: Set corner of garage and powder room under containment and negative air pressure using a HEPA filtered air scrubber. Removed approximately a 5' x 5' area of the ceiling drywall as well as a 2' x 8' section of the rear wall. Discovered additional growth on the rear of the powder room wall which also had to be removed. After opening up the ceiling it was found that the 3" black plastic drainage pipe had a very small 2" long crack in the pipe at one of the 90 degree fittings in the ceiling thus letting water drip out every time the sink or shower were used upstairs. The pipe was repaired by a plumber and all the surfaces inside the containment area were HEPA vacuumed then wiped down with an EPA approved anti-microbial and then HEPA vacuumed again. The air scrubber was left to run an additional 48 hours to contain any air borne spores after which the mold remediation was complete and ready for replacement of the drywall and insulation.  

Sometimes the problem is not what it appears to be and it is good to call in a professional to evaluate the situation. 


Mold Hidden Behind the Chair!

Location: Cranberry Township, PA

Problem: Customer called stating they moved a chair in their basement family room that was up against an outside wall and found a small spot of mold growing on the back of the chair and a small spot on the wall. They would like us to look at it and provide a recommendation and estimate for remediation. Family Room wall is concrete block foundation that is approximately 3'-4' below grade that is finished drywall with fiberglass insulation behind it. At time of inspection the visible mold growth on the wall was approximately 12"-18" wide (relatively small) and situated on the lower portion of the wall. When moisture level readings were taken on the wall surface the readings indicated the wall was wet well beyond the area with the visible signs of growth. This typically means the majority of the mold growth is on the backside of the wall where the moisture is present. No plumbing lines or known water leaks were found in this area, but ground moisture could be the suspect. The only way to know for sure how extensive the growth is would be to open up the wall and remediate.

Solution: Setup a containment area of approximately 8' wide along the portion of the wall with the growth. Placed the containment under negative air pressure to contain any spores from contaminating the rest of the home. Proceeded to start removing the drywall with the visible growth. We quickly found the growth went well beyond the initial visible area on the back of the drywall. Continued to remove drywall until we were 2' past the last visible signs of growth. Found that the fiberglass insulation was saturated with moisture, some to the point the insulation was dripping water when removed. Further found the wall studs also were saturated as well as the concrete block. While no water was visibly seeping in, the wall was very wet to the touch. Continued on with the remediation by wire brushing any areas of heavy growth on the studs and concrete block. HEPA vacuumed all surfaces in the entire containment. Then we applied an EPA approved anti-microbial solution on all surfaces to kill off any spores left and also to kill any spores that might have penetrated into any of the porous surfaces. We then repeated the HEPA vacuuming of all the surfaces. Once completed we let our HEPA filtered air scrubber run inside the containment under neutral pressure for an additional 48 hours to collect any spores they may have become airborne. Came back and removed the containment and the wall was now ready for reconstruction. All in all the area removed was approximately 7' wide by 3' high. The concrete block did dry out once air was allowed to circulate over the wall. We advised the homeowner to check the grading outside against the wall to be sure it slopes sufficiently away from the home. We also suggested they apply a moisture resistant coating to the inside of the wall and to not replace the insulation with fiberglass but to use foam board as that will not break down or hold any moisture when in contact with damp surfaces. What seemed like a small surface growth of mold on the wall turned into a sizable mold problem....sometimes you never know what dangers lurk behind a chair!

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