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Paint: It’s not just for looks!

Can a few gallons of paint save you big bucks? Yes! A good paint job is worth its weight in gold. Read on to see how to prevent water damage and mold in your Florida home.

It was a multi-million dollar home in Delray Beach. A lovely sprawling home with lavish 8-foot tall hand-carved wood doors and a scenic view...and a mold problem. Sadly, the new owner has not even lived in the home yet. They just bought it. Even worse, mold remediation had (supposedly) already been completed. Ugh. The remediator skipped the first and most important step: Find the cause of the mold problem, and then fix it.

What lurks behind door #1?

George was called to find the reason for the nasty mold odor. As soon as he walked in, the mold smell smacked him in the nose. 

There were many issues with this house. Much of the water damage was not obvious. But, that's why we take time to find the cause of the problem before starting mold remediation. George found active roof leaks, window leaks, air conditioning system failures, missing insulation, and the least noticeable but most extensive problem: failed paint. Yes, paint.

Many people look at paint as purely cosmetic. After all, it makes your home attractive and stand out (or blend in, depending on your HOA rules!) in your neighborhood. But, paint is your first line of defense against water. Think about it. No matter what material your Florida house is clad in (wood, stucco, or fiber cement board) it needs to be painted. (Note: Brick, stone, aluminum, and vinyl sidings are not common materials in Florida. Brick and stone hold the heat…who needs more of that? Aluminum and vinyl siding simply don’t hold up to the sun and rain.)

What is the P in the paint for?

Paint is a protective coating for the siding materials. In fact, the paint industry is referred to as the protective coatings industry. (I can geek out on that, but for more info check out for residential and commercial coatings and for industrial and marine coatings.)  Coatings protect the siding that protects the building structure that protects the living space…and you. The layers are in place to ensure a comfortable living space and help the house structure last for many years.

In the case of our Delray Beach home, the paint had become dry and chalky and allowed water to seep into the stucco. The stucco then cracked, allowing water to pass through to the plywood beneath. Guess what happened next? The water caused the plywood to rot. As the plywood continued to absorb water, rot, and mold, the water was absorbed by the drywall inside the house. Although the dampness was not visible to the naked eye, George used his years of experience and trusty FLIR e-75 infrared camera to find the hidden moisture. Then knowing where to look, he went outside and spied the stucco cracks and the extent of the water damage to the exterior. After a mere 15 years, this house will need so much more work than it should…all for the want of a paint job.

Paint now or pay later?

So, brush off the paint (pardon the pun, I couldn’t resist) and get to it. George says to go outside on a sunny Florida day and take a look at your paint. Is it chalky? Peeling? Cracked? If so, take steps to stop the water damage before it starts. A bit of maintenance goes a long way.

Need a good painter? Call us at 561.693.8955. We have several excellent painters who can help. We’re always happy to share our resources with you.


Toxic mold in Wellington: Families scramble to find new housing

Wellington officials bring in expert George Vincent to help families with toxic mold

Stachybotrys - commonly known as black toxic mold - recently displaced four Wellington families from their homes. Realizing they didn't have the expertise on staff, Village of Wellington inspectors brought in expert George Vincent to help.

It’s an all-too-common story: A tenant gets settled in a new place and then starts seeing signs of water damage, like water stains starting to show through fresh paint. Then they start smelling mold. At first, the odor is only in one room, but as the weeks go by, the mold smell permeates the whole house.

Wellington Cares

This is what happened in Wellington. The tenant called the Village of Wellington for help and they responded. Kudos to Wellington! When their inspectors arrived, they knew something wasn’t quite right. But they also realized they didn’t have the expertise on staff to address this problem.

So, they called in expert George Vincent, the Real mold guy! to detect leaks and identify the cause of the visible mold. “Finding the source of moisture and stopping it is always the first step before mold remediation,” said Vincent.  Wellington also brought in mold assessor Brad Fishbein to collect air and surface samples to see if the substance on the walls was really toxic mold. And it was.

The Lab Confirms Toxic Mold

When the lab results confirmed the presence of Stachybotrys, among other high spore counts, the Village of Wellington posted a notice that the building was not safe and the tenants were to vacate immediately.  “What bothers me the most? It’s preventable” said Vincent.

This is one of those good news-bad news situations. The good news is the Village of Wellington stepped up to protect four families in their community. The bad news is those families now need to find a new place to live.

The village says four units in a multi-family Wellington home are uninhabitable.

Source: Toxic mold in Wellington: Families scramble to find new housing


Irma Clean-up: 3 Questions to Ask Your Contractor

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We’ve weathered Hurricane Irma and Jose took a detour, so it’s time to start cleaning up. Whew!

If you have or suspect significant water damage, likely you’ve already started. But beware South Florida: After events like this, pretty much anyone looking for a quick buck will show up in our area. So, before you sign on the dotted line, take a moment to think about it. Here’s an easy to protect yourself from untrained or unscrupulous contractors:

Ask these three simple questions:

What work will be done?

Emotions are high and you’ll just want to get the job done. But, any professional contractor will write out what they are going to do. It is perfectly reasonable for you to require a written detailed estimate. And you want details! If they are going to repair the roof, make sure they spell out what that means: do they plan to just throw a tarp up there or replace shingles or replace damaged roof sheathing and shingles? You deserve to know what is being done to your home.

How much will it cost?

In most cases, an hourly rate or time and materials estimate is not appropriate. An experienced professional should be able to give you a firm price quote, or at least a narrow price range. If the damaged area is not accessible due to a hazard, then get a narrow price range or price quotes for different scenarios. For example, a tree fell through the roof and it’s not safe to enter the attic until the tree is removed. The roofer can’t see if the trusses are damaged. But, he can say the price to repair the roof would be X. If he needs to reinforce or replace trusses, the cost would be X + Y.

When will the work be done?

This is very important. The last thing you want is to sign a contract and then wait two months for work to start! Emergency repairs may be done right away but permanent repairs may take longer because there are so many people who need help. A shortage in building materials after natural disasters like Irma can also cause delays. So, ask when work will start and if the building materials are available.

We are not roofers but George Vincent, the Real mold guy! is a pro at pinpointing the source of roof leaks. So, if you have a water leak or suspect water damage, call us to schedule a leak detection inspection in South Florida at 561-693-8955.


How Not to Botch Mold Remediation. Learn 3 vital steps to good mold remediation in Florida with George Vincent, the Real mold guy!

How Not to Botch Mold Remediation

Arlene wakes to burning eyes. She has a pungent mold smell in her home but it's worse in the kitchen.  She had mold remediation done 6 months ago in her Delray Beach, Florida home but now the problem is back. Neither the remediator nor the insurance company will return calls. She’s stuck with a stinky house and a raging mold allergy.

My heart went out to her. It was an all too familiar story of a bungled mold remediation that started with the contractor not finding the cause of the water damage and ending with the homeowner right back where she started.

In Arlene’s case, the insurance company steered her to one of their vendors saying they would guarantee the work for 5 years. Now, wouldn’t that give you peace of mind? Wouldn’t it be a relief to believe that the insurance company had vetted their contractors and was so confident in their work that they, your insurance company, would guarantee the work was done right? Whew!

And they lived happily ever after…Not!

They Missed 3 Vital Steps

Unfortunately, some guys are in too big a hurry to get to the payday that they skip this first and most critical step: find the cause of the problem otherwise, you’ll just be wasting your time and money. Since they didn’t find the problem, they also skipped the second essential step: fixing the cause of the problem.  At that point, the remediation was likely doomed.

Insurance companies are often in such a hurry to “mitigate the damage” (read: minimize their payout) that they approve ridiculous amounts of drying equipment before the source of the damage is identified. (This can eat up the homeowner’s policy money so the homeowner pays more out of pocket.) Frankly, I’m surprised they paid the claim with no confirmed cause of damage.

Homeowners, too, bear responsibility here. Namely, to do whatever you can to stop the spread of damage. This includes hiring professionals to assess damage and make repairs…even if your policy covers it. (Reporting damage than doing nothing while waiting for insurance to determine coverage is a dangerous game, but that’s a topic for another post.)

Get a Clearance Test

The remediator also skipped his validation: the clearance test. This is the test done after remediation to confirm the home is “mold normal”. It is done by a mold assessor, not the remediator, to assure all parties that the work was done correctly.  It boggles my mind why a licensed, professional who makes his living doing remediation would skip the chance to prove he did a good job. Everybody craves an “atta boy” don’t they?

The customer relinquished her power to the insurance company and the remediator. She requested the clearance test but stopped short of buying it herself. Since the insurance company paid the claim, they likely would have reimbursed her for the cost of the test. After all, they want to make sure work was done correctly since they are guaranteeing for 5 years!

Mold is one of those disclosures required in a real estate contract. So, if you plan to rent or sell your home any time in the future, it’s a good idea to get a clearance test. By law, you must disclose that you had a mold problem, but the clearance test proves that you had it taken care of so the buyer/tenant doesn’t worry about it. So, follow your instinct: Get an independent clearance test and be willing to pay for it. A few bucks now could save you thousands later.

The Moral of the Story

Use common sense: find the problem then fix it. Follow your gut instinct. If you want a clearance test, get it. In the grand scheme of things, it does not matter if you tick off the contractor or the insurance company. It’s your house and you will be living there.

BTW, we do not do clearance testing.  the Real Mold Guy! is a mold remediation and water damage restoration firm. We get rid of the mold. The mold assessor confirms that remediation was done right. We want you to be safe. That’s just one of the reasons we’ve been in business for 20 years and counting.

If you have questions or think you have water damage or mold in South Florida, feel free to call us at 561-693-8955. We’re here to help!

Found Mold? Don't Panic, We can Help!

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