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How to handle potential issues during your home improvement project

Female worker of cleaning service removes the mold using antimicrobial spray and scrubbing brush.

Now that COVID-19 is in full swing and social distancing orders have been implemented, many people find themselves spending more time than ever before at home and possibly in need of something to do. Once you have the surface cleaned your house, perhaps it is time to move on to a bigger project. For instance, cleaning out the garage, finishing the basement or renovating the bathroom. But what should you do if you come across something a little unexpected? Perhaps a touch of mould in the bathroom? Lack of insulation in the attic?  Here is how you can deal with some unanticipated of you next at COVID-19 induced home improvement project.

Mould

Discovering mould in your home is never a pleasant experience but rest assured it does not have to be a disaster. Whether the patch of mould is big or small, there are always ways to rid your home of it for good. If you are lucky enough to catch the mould early then, you can potentially scrub it out yourself, with the proper protective equipment. Mould spores can cause an allergic reaction or irritation if they are inhaled, it is recommended to wear a mask while cleaning the mould. Scrubbing the mould with a mixture of bleach and water then allowing it to dry should kill the mould spores, but you should be careful to check that it has adequately dried and fixed any underlying causes.

If you are unlucky enough to discover a large area of mould or have a reoccurring issue, then it is better to call in professionals, like Urban Environmental, to ensure the pesky mould is dealt with efficiently and permanently.

Insulation

As you start in on renovations like finishing the basement or the attic, then it is essential to ensure this new space if as comfortable and cozy as possible so that your family may enjoy it year-round. Installing insulation is something that is best left up to the professionals. While it may sound like a simple task for any handyman out there, improper insulation installation can lead to increased home heat loss and increased energy consumption, which in turn will lead to higher home heating bills. In other unlucky cases, the improper installation of insulation will also lead to trapped moisture and eventually the growth of mould. The growth of mould can, in turn, lead to long term respiratory issues or structural weakness of affected wood.

When installing insulation, it is highly recommended to go with fast, efficient and professional service like you would find from Urban Environmental. Give us a call today to find out how we can help with your latest home improvement projects!

How to clean your house for COVID-19

As a professional remediation company, we know a few things about deep and meaningful cleaning. We have been inundated with questions about how we to clean surfaces and homes. So, we thought it was time to put pen to paper and help our clients in and around Vancouver!

Hard Surfaces
As COVID-19 can live for a number of days on hard surfaces, you will want to start here. For hard surfaces, you will first want to use traditional soap and water to clean the surface area. Once that is done, you can move to disinfect. You should look to use an EPA approved disinfectant, but if that is not available, you can use a diluted bleach solution with five tablespoons of bleach per four litres of water. Spray, and wipe down this solution and let dry.

Soft Surfaces

As these surfaces can be a little tougher to clean, it is essential that you follow both the manufacturers and EPA guidelines for cleaning. If the material can be thrown into the laundry, do it. Otherwise, use an EPA approved cleaner, and follow the instruction from the manufacturer. Spray the cleaner, and let it dry completely before use.

Cars

Make sure to pay attention and wipe down your vehicle’s interior. You can utilise wipes such as Armour All or other manufacturers to get a deep clean that will disinfect while you go. As well, you may want to use a softer disinfectant on your steering wheel and gear shift as you come and go from your vehicle.

Electronics

As with soft surfaces, make sure to follow the manufactures instructions to avoid any damage to the electronics. Consider using alcoholic wipes on gaming systems, remotes, game controllers or headsets. As well, for mobile phones, you can disinfect and let the phone dry. Before using, make sure that the alcohol or disinfectant as entirely dried!

Linens and Clothes

The easiest thing for these materials is to put it in the wash. Make sure to add in commercial soap, or another cleaning agent to ensure that the contents are washed thoroughly. You do not need to add disinfectant or other agents.

COVID-19 is not a bad case of the flu, and people around the Greater Vancouver area should pay attention and take appropriate steps. Remember, do not hoard, listen to our medical professionals and stay home and most important of all WASH YOUR HANDS!

What are the most common places for mould?

Wetting and mold growth of ceiling decorative panels. Black fungal mold.

As we live in a rain forest, mould is a significant concern for homeowners and renters in and around Vancouver! So, as one of the leading mould remediation companies in the city, we thought it might be time that we put pen to paper to help out some of our clients. So, here are the most common places for mould to grow in and around the Greater Vancouver Regional District.

Roofs

As the winter turns to spring, we see a lot of rain here in the GVRD. Although most of our roofs are waterproof, you can see significant water damage to older roofs across the coast. Where there is water infiltration, there is probably mould. Mould loves a dark, wet and warm place, and your attic or roof lining is the perfect spot for mould to grow and flourish!

Living Rooms

Living rooms are a common place for mould because of books. No, we are not kidding. Mould needs something to grow on, and as books have wood pulp, they are an excellent place for mould to grow unnoticed. Add into the fact that books are often stored on wood bookshelves; you have all of the ingredients for an infestation.

Basements

Cold, dark and damp, the perfect spot for mould to grow. If your basement is susceptible to flooding or water leaking in, it needs to be checked at least every couple of weeks. We dark basements are the perfect spot for mould growth to explode, and if not properly treated, you could have issues for months, if not years.

Garage

As one of the few places in our homes that are regularly exposed to the elements, your garage can be home to serious mould growths in only a few weeks. If your garage door is leaking, or water is getting through in that window that always has a few drips going down the panes, you can have a mould colony in a few hours. If left unattended, this can turn serious quickly, and that is a problem only an expert can clear.

Laundry Room

As your laundry room has an exhaust to the outside, it is prime for mould growth, and you probably did not even know it. Think about it, if you have any leak into the area, the heat from the dryer is only going to speed up mould growth!

If you think you may have mould, or need assistance with remediation, then it is about time that you called Urban Environmental. We are the leading Vancouver based mould remediation company and are here to help. Call us today and see how expert technicians can remediate mould from your home for good!

 

What are some of the causes of mold?

Man shocked to mold a kitchen cabinet.

Here on the West Coast, we get a lot of rain, and that means that mold is always a threat. Naturally, a few of our clients have started to ask what some of the causes of mold are, but we thought it would be better if we went in a little different direction.  We know that water causes mold, but what else needs to be in the area or room to cause mold to grow.

Mold Spores

First and foremost, you need the presence of mold spores to grow mold. These spores can come from a variety of sources, and it is tough to find the cause. Mostly, it is either through the environment or rotten food.

A Food Source

Mold spores can only do so much, but they need a food source to feed off of. In most homes, you will find mold spreading via exposed wood or drywall. As well, if you are storing clothes or bedding in an attic, mold loves cotton and other natural fibres. As long as the fibres can bind with mold, you have yourself a food source.

Darkness

Mold is a substance that needs the dark to grow. The reason for this is that mold cannot grow under any ultraviolet light. This means that if there is any sunlight or natural light from the outdoors coming into a room, you will see a lack of mold growth.

Warmth

Mold needs to find a sweet, warm spot to grow, and no matter the area or building, if it is warm, it can become. He reasons for this is that mold is unable to produce in sub-zero temperatures, and it is part of the reason that you will not see any mould issues in outdoor buildings.

Oxygen

Like all life, mould needs oxygen to survive. This is why mold will flourish in attics or other open rooms with access to fresh air. However, you will see a lack of mold growth if you open an old safe or blocked off room.

Moisture

Whether it be rain, water run-off or humidity, moisture is needed to spur on mold growth. It does not need to be a lot, but once it starts, it can get out of hand quickly.

Time

Most mold colonies need between 24-48 hours to start to spread; that is, it. So, what does this mean? It would help if you got on top of mold growth before it gets out of hand.

If you notice mold growth or some tell tale signs of mold in your home or office, you need to get on top of it and call the team at Urban Environmental. We are your local source for all things mold remediation, and we can help. We are proud to offer our services across the Vancouver area, and we cannot wait to help you and your home out with your mold issue!

 

 

What you need to know about grow-ops as a new homeowner/landlord

closeup of condensate fungus mold on window frame. high humidity indoor at home

Locations used for the growth and production of cannabis, legal or otherwise, are sometimes referred to as “grow-ops”. People are often surprised to learn that many residential buildings have been used at some point or another in their history as a grow-op, with some estimates being as high as 1 in 4 in some regions of BC. These locations can remain contaminated for ten years, or sometimes more. Mold is a significant concern in these buildings. The dangerous toxins caused by mold do not merely disappear; naturally, they must be removed for an area to made safe again. While a larger and long-term set-up may cause more overall damage, size and scale may be less important than you might think. A small set-up that was only in operation for a few days can still be dangerous for a variety of reasons. Both individual homeowners and landlords are at risk, in terms of health problems as well as financial cost.

  • If you are planning to live in the building
    • The high moisture and humidity requirements of a grow-op can lead to warped or rotten wood
    • The same conditions are likely to create mold, which poses many serious health risks
    • Modified building structures such as drill holes in concrete, electrical or ductwork that seems sloppy, hastily done, or with no clear legitimate purpose are common in former grow-ops
    • Any of these issues will require structures/systems to be repaired, replaced, and sometimes even demolished if the damage is too severe
  • If you are planning to rent the building out
    • In addition to credit checks, applicant forms, and interviews, landlords should make it known that they will regularly inspect the exterior of a property.
    • This serves a dual purpose: by examining the exterior of a building, a landlord can be on the lookout for many of the previously mentioned signs a homeowner would look for. It also discourages anyone who would potentially use a rental property as a grow op from doing so, as a vigilant landlord is likely to spot the signs of the operation.
  • If you suspect a location is contaminated
    • If you suspect that a building has been used as a grow op, you should contact a professional service.
    • Even if it seems to be only a minor problem, only trained experts have the tools and knowledge to determine the scope of the problem.
    • Properties should always be inspected to ensure they meet municipal safety standards

 

No matter if you are planning to live in the building, or suspect it is contaminated, trust the local experts at Urban Environmental to ensure that your grow-op is treated and eradicated the right way.

How to prep your home for a Vancouver winter

man on ladder cleaning house gutter from leaves and dirt

 As one of the leading environmental cleanup companies on the west coast, we often get asked, what is the best way to prepare for winter. Naturally, we thought it was time that we put pen to paper and finally answered that question on our blog! So, here is how to prep for a Vancouver winter to prevent any future issues.

Check your home’s rain readiness

We get much rain in the winter here in the Lower Mainland, and your home needs to be prepared for a west coast winter! Make sure to spend some time checking on your gutters, are they flowing well, and free of debris? If they are not, clean your gutters, and downspouts before the rain starts. Next, you should check the paint on the outside of the home; paint is designed to colour your home but also is designed to keep moisture away from rotting the house. If it is flaking or peeling, it might be time for a touch-up.

Reverse your ceiling fan

This might seem funny, but then you have to remember your high school physics class. Remember, heat rises, so in the winter you will want to push warm air down and limit your overall cost of heating the home. While you are at it, it might be time to change your furnace filter to help your unit during the winter.

Clean your roof!

The winter is a time of moisture, wind and terrible weather, and if you are like most west coast homes and living under cedar shakes, then you need to treat it right! Cleaning your roof allows you to remove debris and moss from the roof which can affect how water comes off the roof. This yearly cleaning will not only extend the life of your roof, but it will also ensure all of that water is going to the right place.

Prep, your deck

We all love enjoying a beautiful day on the deck, but before winter hits, you need to prep your deck for the season. This means removing any pillows or cushions into a dry area, emptying clay pots from their soil and of course, completing any treatments you might want to do to the deck itself.

Final Thoughts

As one of the premier environmental companies on the west coast, we know what it takes to prepare for winter in the lower mainland. From checking your homes rain readiness to doing things such as prepping your deck or cleaning your roof, preparing for winter can be a bit of a process. Make sure to spend the time to prepare, and you and your home will make it through yet another west coast winter to enjoy a gorgeous Vancouver summer! If you need any help with issues that may arise, make sure to call the team at Urban Environmental today!

How to complete a building demolition

Demolition of the old building dredge

As one of the few companies in the Greater Vancouver Area that can complete complicated building demolition, the team at Urban Environmental has received many a phone calls on what the usual steps are in the process. So, we thought it might be time to put pen to paper and go through the steps on how to complete a building demolition in this great city. 

  1. Determine the demolition method

You can either complete a demolition by machine, which means front end loaders and bulldozers complete the work, or you can complete the demolition by hand. Mechanical demolition is usually the fastest and cheapest route, with the average demolition costing around $8000.

  1. Find the right contractor

This is where Urban Environmental can come in, especially if we are completing a job that includes vermiculite or asbestos. We know this industry like the back of our hand and can assist in finding you a contractor that knows what they are doing.

  1. Complete a home inspection

This can also be helped along by Urban Environmental, as we will be able to complete the inspection or bring in an outside inspector to complete the job. We know what to look for, and no matter if we are dealing with an older home or an abandoned home, we will find any issues that may cause problems moving forward.

  1. Obtain the necessary permits

Each city is a little different, so you will need to go to the city website or down to city hall for the process, but you may need to get notifications or permits for the demolition, noise or even the removal of the debris.

  1. Prepare for demolition

Contact all of the necessary services and have them disconnected by the company. You should also contact Urban Environmental to ensure you are covered for removal of the debris once the building is demolished. Many cities will require you to list your rubbish removal company, so you may want to consider this earlier in the process if necessary.

  1. Tear down and removal

Finally, you will have the demolition contractor start the process of tearing down the house, and have your debris moving company into place as soon as they are done. The average home takes an afternoon to take down, while debris removal may take at least a couple of days. If you are looking to prep the site for a new build, you may be able to utilise the same equipment for the job, but you will need to chat with the contractor.

As one of the premier building demolition companies in the lower mainland, the team at Urban Environmental would love to sit down and chat. With our years of experience and vast knowledge in the area, Urban Environmental is your go-to company for all things demo!

 

How to choose the right insulation

Close up Various Scattered Blocks of insulation Model Hous in Different Standing on Top of the Wooden Table

When you are looking to re-install or complete a renovation in your home, you are often left with a decision on what kind of insulation you will choose for space. It might seem like an easy decision, but it turns out that you need to know a little about where you are putting the insulation and keep in mind of where you live.

How insulation is measured

Insulation is measured in R-value. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation is at performing in lower temperatures. Thus, if you live in a colder temperature, it is essential to invest in higher R-value insulation if you lived in a warmer climate such as Arizona.  However, you do have to consider if you have to compress your insulation, your R-value will drop.

What is best in the lower mainland?

Here in the lower mainland we are blessed not to have horrible winters, at least in terms of cold. This is why the insulation that is best in the lower mainland would not do great in Northern BC. With that in mind, here are the best options for insulation in Vancouver, and the rest of the lower mainland.

Ceiling Above Attics

It is best to utilise R-60 insulation in this critical space. The attic and the roof above are where the majority of your heat is lost in your home and can cause significant costs in terms of heating and cooling. We would suggest either a Batt insulation or if you can, blown insulation in this space.

Cathedral Ceilings

In these high ceilings, you should be looking to insulate as much as you can. This space should use either R-31 Batt insulation, or alternatively you can also use R-10 CodeBord if that fits better. 

Floors over unheated spaces

Spaces such as your garage, or additions may have to deal with unheated spaces under their floorboards, which can lead to significant heat loss. This is why in these spaces you should look to use Batt insulation of at least R-31 or you can use R-10 CodeBord as well.

Walls above grade

When it comes to your walls that are above the foundation, you should be looking to utilise insolation that will help keep the heat inside. These spaces are not as integral as ceilings or floors above unheated areas, but they are still relevant. You should look to use R-5 CodeBord, or if you prefer, you can also use R-24 Batt insulation.

Foundation Walls

Naturally, as these spaces are a little cooler, and because you have a natural heat barrier in the foundation, you can utilise lighter insulation. Look to use R-14 Batt insulation, or if you are looking for CodeBord, R-10 will do.

If you are looking for insulation services, call the team at Urban Environmental

today! We offer a wide range of insulation services that will cover your home from foundation to ceiling.

How to prevent mold

Close-up Of A Shocked Woman Looking At Mold corner

Working to avoid mold is half of the battle, and here in the lower mainland, you need to know how to prevent mold from growing or even spreading before you own your first home. However, if you are new to the area, or want to know a little bit more about how to prevent mold from infesting your home you are in luck. Here are four tips on how to prevent mold from taking over your home.

  1. Identify Issue areas and fix them

Issue areas that grow mold are often found around the house in all corners of the home. One of the most common areas is leaky windows that have a significant and almost constant stagnant wet or moist areas. Older windows will struggle to keep up, and one of the easiest ways to prevent mold is to identify those areas and replace the issue windows in your home.

  1. Install proper ventilation

Areas such as attics and areas with vent appliances need adequate ventilation in and out of the home. Without proper ventilation, these areas would start to become moist and could start to grow mold, especially if there is traditional drywall surrounding these areas. One of the easiest ways to avoid these issues is to install a mold-resistant gypsum board instead of drywall to limit the possibility of mold spreading.

  1. Direct water away from the home

Although most homes do this already, there are some homes in the lower mainland that continue to fail to direct the water away from the home’s foundation. As we get a lot of rain here on the west coast, directing water away from your home’s foundation is crucial to avoid mold and other issues such as damages to the foundation. A simple change to the eavestroughs or other changes could help take water away from the home, and let your home enjoy a water-free existence.

  1. Keep indoor plants mold free

It might seem a little silly, but your indoor plant’s soil is a prime spot for mold growth. It is wet, moist and often forgotten, and for many in the lower mainland, it is where your mold growth can start. To prevent any future issues, you can add a bit of Taheebo tea to the water. The Taheebo tree is known for its mold-resistant nature and can be found in many natural food stores around town.

If you happen to be dealing with mold in your home, now is the time to call the team at Urban Environmental to complete the abatement process. We are the real experts in the city when it comes to mold abatement, and we cannot wait to help you and your home get rid of that nasty stuff.

Vermiculate Removal, why you need to do it right

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 For some houses and offices in and around Vancouver, vermiculate is a severe concern, especially if you are looking to renovate your old space. You see, vermiculate as you may know was a frequent and cheap building material on the west coast for much of the 1900s and no matter if you were looking for a great way to insulate the home or wanted to use some of the best-insulated material on the market, vermiculate was a great option. However, we have now discovered that vermiculate is not only dangerous but downright horrid for your health and is part of the reason that you need to remove vermiculate right.

  1. It can be damaging to your health if left exposed

Vermiculate does most of its damage to the human body when air born, and thus if you find vermiculite in your home, you will need to quarantine and remove it properly. Failure to do can result in long-term health concerns, including cancer, raspatory issues and in the worst case, death.

  1. It can be anywhere, and you need professionals to help

Vermiculate was used everywhere back in the 1900s, and you can find it throughout older homes. This means that you can discover it when you are dealing with flooring removal, in the pipes, and of course, on the ceiling. As noted above, if you find out vermiculate you will need to call in a team to quarantine and remove the material. This is why mid-century remodels can often become quite a bit more costly than first expected; vermiculate removal is not cheap!

  1. Professions know how to dispose of it

Vermiculite, unlike common construction waste, cannot just be thrown out at the dump, or grabbed by your local junk guys; it has stringent recycling laws that govern who and how it is disposed of in the lower mainland. It is best to call a team like Urban Environmental who has the connections in the industry that can not only quarantine and remove the vermiculate but also remove the waste from your home safely. This is not a job for the local contractor, but rather it is a job for a team of experts that know what they are doing.

Here at Urban Environmental, we have seen our company grow over the last few years, and especially in our vermiculate and asbestos abatement team. With a number of older homes starting to be renovated and outright destroyed to make way for new builds, our calls for abatement services continue to grow. No matter if you need assistance in a renovation, or simply have some questions about vermiculate abatement, call the team at Urban Environmental today, and talk to the experts in Vancouver.