Emergency Water Extraction and Dry Out
Location: Danvers, MA 01923
Problem: Frozen ground, 8 inches of snow melt and 2 more inches of rain led to a busy Saturday night for AdvantaClean of the North Shore. We had 4 pump-out calls within and hour. When we got to our last call in Danvers, the homeowner had almost 2 feet of water in the basement and was using a cat litter bucket to bail out the water and keep it from submerging the burner on the boiler.
Solution: Aside from the water in the basement, the first thing we noticed was that the small 1/3hp sump pump that was installed in the basement had burned out and failed. We removed the failed pump, and put in two emergency 1/2hp pumps with 1-1/2" discharge lines. We placed one in the existing sump pit and one in a low spot in the basement. It took about 20 minutes to pump the water down to the bare floor.
We replaced and re-piped the failed pump with a temporary, removed the emergency pumps, and then began the dry out. Fans and a commercial dehumidifier were placed in the basement, and it was dried out by Wednesday afternoon. We'll return in a few weeks to replace the temporary pump with a new Blue Angel 1/2hp dual pump with a battery back-up and pipe the system using 1-1/2" PVC pipe away from the house so the basement won't flood again.
Crawl Space Transformation
Location: Beverly, MA 01915
Problem: A recent customer had an Oceanside home in Massachusetts with small crawl space under house. The space was musty and damp. The homeowner wanted to use the space as storage for outdoor sauna area, but didn't feel safe using it because items would get moldy and dirty. We needed to come up with a solution to the old torn 6mil plastic sheet that covered a ledge, and figure out an economical way to keep the space dry.
Solution: We started by removing the old plastic sheet that was torn and dirty, and then groomed the surface of the ledge. After removing the rotten boards used to hold the old plastic sheet down and cleaning up the debris, we sprayed the entire space with a strong antimicrobial solution and allowed it to dry. We then re-encapsulated the entire surface of the ledge with a new 36mil vapor barrier and side aprons, then sealed the barrier tightly along all edges. That solved the encapsulation issue.
Next, we needed to find an economical way to condition the interior space to regulate ambient moisture and temperature. Since the space is unheated and close to the ocean, a dehumidifier was not an option. We decided on an ATMOX air management system. We installed an intake and exhaust air fan assembly to the existing sill wall vent, and piped the exhaust fan with 8" flexible aluminum duct deep into the space so that the system would create circular air movement. The system utilizes an inside and outside sensor system that regulates the fans based on outside and inside ambient temperature and relative humidity. The system operates on a 24 VDC circuit and sips power. By pulling in cool dry air, and exhausting damp moist air, the system relies on natural temperature and humidity conditions to regulate the air quality in the space.
Hair Salon Dryer Vent Cleaning
Location: Lynn, MA 01902
Problem: A high volume hair salon was experiencing long waits for towels and capes to dry. Lint was actually blowing back into the salon from separations in the dryer vent line that had been previously sealed with gray duct tape.
Solution: The owner of the salon booked an appointment with AdvantaClean of The North Shore to clean the dryer vent. When we got there the first thing we noticed was the clogged rodent/bird cage on the vent cover. We removed and cleaned this first.
Due of the length of the duct work, we needed to separate the line into three zones, clean each zone separately, and power boost fan, then reseal all of the joints with aluminum tape and clamps to code. We were in and out in about 90 minutes, all while the busy salon was in full swing.
Moldy HVAC Vents
Location: North Andover, MA 01845
Problem: Customer in North Andover, MA scheduled a routine HVAC duct cleaning. The system included a fresh air make-up unit fed directly into the supply plenum. Before we started, we pulled a vent cover on the supply side because there was some sooty dust that we couldn't account for around the edges of the louvers, and black spotting on the vent cover itself. Upon removal, we noticed that the back of the cover was covered in mold. We then removed all of the supply covers and found the same issue. We couldn't do a normal cleaning and pull all of that contamination back into the system, especially with young children in the house.
Solution: We shut the system down and sealed off the supply side from the return side. We removed each vent cover carefully, bagged it, and then brought it outside for further cleaning and disinfection. We then sealed each boot, and the supply side plenum, and pulled a HEPA vacuum at each boot individually, then cleaned and disinfected each supply side duct from the plenum to the boot so as not to spread any spores towards the air handler. Each vent was hand scrubbed and treated with an antimicrobial solution. We then cleaned and disinfected the return side of the system and the make-up air unit as well.
When everything was completed we ran a few bio-tape samples in key parts of the system. Thankfully the weather was mild and dry that week, so the customer didn't need to run the AC or heat while we waited for the lab results. The lab results came back clean, and the customer was happy with the results.
Dryer Vent Rebuild
Location: Wakefield, MA 01880
Problem: New home owners scheduled a dryer vent cleaning for their second floor laundry room. The old home owners had left the washer and dryer as part of the sale, and the new home owners complained of a bad smell and lint build-up in the dryer closet. While it was nice that the old home owners had left the washer and dryer, they forgot to tell the new homeowners they had been venting the dryer into the floor for years.
Solution: When we pulled the dryer away from the wall, the first thing we noticed was the empty hole in the floor that was filled with dryer lint. We pulled all of the lint that we could reach out of the hole by hand and with a vacuum, but we couldn't actually find the vent stack. We knew there was an exit vent cover on the outside of the house, so we used our video probe to see what was going on. We found the end of the stack (corrugated aluminum duct). It had been shredded and cut about 6 inches from the hole, and was full of lint. We can only assume that someone had tried to clean it before us, got into trouble, then pulled on the duct and shredded the end. At that point, they just ended up sticking the dryer's duct connector down the hole.
We ended up having to cut the tile floor back enough to tie a new connector and elbow onto the existing stack, securing the elbow to the floor with an aluminum flange. We finished cleaning the stack and dryer internals and replaced the dryer's connector duct with a new 6 foot flexible aluminum duct. All secure, running fine, and clean as a whistle!
Attic Mold and Stain Removal
Location: Georgetown, MA 01833
Problem: Client selling home and needed to have mold remediated from attic for contingent P&S agreement. The mold was very heavy along the north-facing soffit interior up to about 8 feet and then abruptly stopped. We needed to clean up the mold and remove the staining. Customer also wanted to know why the mold only came up so far, and how to mitigate it in the future.
Solution: The mold remediation and stain cleaning were pretty straight forward. We set up containment and then proceeded with the remediation protocol that included a thorough HEPA vacuuming of all exposed surfaces followed by a spray/wipe down using an EPA recognized antimicrobial solution, and then a second HEPA vacuuming. This was followed with a stain removal treatment using a sodium hypochlorite solution. Mold and staining were gone! What we found was that the attic insulation had been packed so tightly into the soffit bays that no air could get through until the end of the old Rafter-mates (4' line), We pulled back the existing insulation to open up the soffit vents and replaced the old Rafter-mates to allow for unimpeded airflow from the soffit vents to the ridge vent, Case solved, sale pending!
Clogged Line on New Dryer
Location: Marblehead, MA 01945
Problem: Customer called saying that she could not get her new dryer to dry clothes at all. Had appliance repairman to the house to find out why. He stated that the dryer was working properly and that she needed to get the dryer vent cleaned. Customer also stated that the previous owners had had dryer issues as well.
Solution: We disconnected and removed the old corrugated connector duct from the dryer to the stack, then proceeded to scope the stack for a clog. While the stack needed to be cleaned, we could not find a clog. After we had cleaned the stack and the dryer, we decided to replace the old connector duct because it was frayed and kinked from years of use. We hooked the dryer back up and it ran perfectly, no filter warning light. As we collapsed the old connector duct for recycling, we noticed a clot of lint. We cut the old duct open in the center and found a slug of lint about 6 inches long, very dense, but very light. While we would have found this had we decided to keep and clean the old duct, it was still a surprise to us. The homeowner said when the new dryer was delivered, the installers just hooked up the old connector and left. Apparently, this clog had been in the system for years!
Flip House Moisture Control
Location: Ipswich, MA 01938
Problem: New owners of flip house needed an updated moisture control system for the basement. House is situated in an ocean-side community with a high water table, the basement was wet and damp, and house flipper did not do anything to provide for moisture control beyond an old sump pump.
Solution: After an initial inspection of the basement, we drew up a plan for basement moisture control with the new homeowners. The plan included a new sump pit and dual sump pump with battery back-up, cleaning of the slit drains in the basement and the installation of a commercial dehumidification system. The slit drains were clogged with sediment and debris from the flip work done on the house and needed to be cleaned and disinfected. Once this was completed, standing water in the drains flowed freely to the new sump pit. The new sump pit is self-contained and sealed and has the capacity to receive all of the water flow. The new dual provide plenty of drainage capacity to handle bis storms, and with the battery back up, will provide drainage if the power goes out. The new dehumidifier is drained directly to the sump pit and will keep the basement dry throughout the year with virtually no maintenance.
Attic Mold and Ventilation Issues
Location: Georgetown, MA 01923
Problem: Homeowner in Georgetown, MA call us to take a look at a persistent mold issue in his attic. The customer had the entire roof replaced due to mold including the original sheathing less than a year prior, and now the mold was back with a vengeance on the new plywood sheathing.
Solution: After inspecting the attic, we recommended that the entire space be fully remediated, including disposal of the existing fiberglass insulation. That would take care of the current mold problem. However, because of the way home was situated, the attic was still hot and humid and had virtually no air movement between the soffit and ridge vents. We recommended and installed an ATMOX attic system that draws cool, dry air into the attic as it exhausts heat and humidity using both interior and exterior temperature and humidity probes. The system went in perfectly. We went back to the home a week later to check on the system. It was a warm, misty day. The exterior probe read 79 degrees at 100% relative humidity. The inside probe read 94 degrees at 17% relative humidity. The system is working perfectly. Remove the moisture, and the mold stays away!
Dryer Vent Clog - Don't call the repairman yet
Location: Beverly, MA 01915
Problem: 2 year old LG dryer took two cycles to get clothes dry. The customer had already scheduled an appliance repairman to address the flashing "FILTER" message on the control panel, but he couldn't come until later in the week. They decided to have the dryer vent cleaned in the meantime. When we arrived and unhooked the system, we could only get a light draw on the duct with our HEPA vacuum.
Solution: The dryer vent, in this case, was 30' long and had several elbows between the dryer and exit vent. We ran about 25' of rotary brush into the duct, and then it stopped. We went to the last elbow in the line and disconnected it. The lint had built up and clogged the line at that point to a depth of about 2'. It was wet and had to be pulled out by hand. The lint had a consistency of paper mache. We cleaned up the clot, reran the rotary brush, replaced a 10' section of corrugated duct work and resealed the system.
Once the clog was removed and the system re-cleaned, the duct line drew a very good vacuum. We started the dryer, and the "FILTER" message went off. The dryer is operating like new, and the appliance repairman's appointment was canceled."
Black Attic Sheathing
Location: Wenham, MA 01984
Problem: Very large open attic in house for sale. Northern facing interior sheathing was covered in mold and needed to be cleaned before the purchase agreement would be signed. The customer called in a panic and needed a fast turn around, remediation, and stain removal in a hurry!
Solution: We were able to shift our schedule around to accommodate our customer. Since they had already packed up the attic, it gave us plenty of room to move around, though we still needed to bring in some planking to move around on. After containing the space and placing air purifiers both in the attic and below the drop staircase, we started with two HEPA vacuums from either end and vacuumed both sides of the attic. We then used a sprayed-on solution of sodium hypochlorite on the north facing attic ceiling and dormers to eliminate the staining. We completed the project with an anti-microbial spray down and fogging. In and out in a morning. Purchase agreement signed that afternoon. Closing on schedule!
Dryer Vent Nightmare
Location: Danvers, MA 01923
Problem: Routine dryer vent cleaning job, or so we thought! Laundry closet on second floor with ducting through the attic. We searched the sides of the building and could not find a dryer vent cover. That didn't really concern us, as sometimes they are vented through the roof, and as long as we can reach it, we can clean it. When we traced the duct to the eave, we found that the entire corner of the attic was covered in an inch of lint and that the duct actually vented to nowhere.
Solution: After we peeled away the insulation covering the duct, we discovered that the 90 degree elbow duct fitting was turned down into the eave pocket. There was a covering on the outside of the soffit, but it was for ventilation of the attic, not a dryer vent cover. It was also caked in about 6" of lint. We finished cleaning the ductwork and dryer, and surrounding area, then scraped away the layer of lint on the soffit vent cover. As we were finishing up, we noticed that 4 other units also vent through this persons attic, and all 4 were in the same condition. The only difference was that the surrounding insulation had been packed in tight so that the lint couldn't blow back into the attic. We notified the complex's management company who are now in the process of cutting proper vents into the buildings attic. We'll be back in a few weeks to clean up the other dryer ducts as well.
Vaulted Ceiling Mold Removal
Location: Hamilton, MA 01982
Problem: Older home with 18' high vaulted ceiling was covered with mold and soot. The center beam was cut from an old barn beam and though painted, was rough and gouged from the hand tools used 200 years ago to shape it. We needed to get the mold and soot cleaned from the beam before the room was repainted.
Solution: Due to the extreme pitch of the ceiling, we spent a long morning HEPA vacuuming the ceiling and beam, followed by a hand wiping with cotton cloths and an anti-microbial solution. This was all done on an aluminum extension ladder, heads bent into the angle of the beam, and an arms reach at best to the left and right. We had to get to both sides of the beam and the underside as well. When we completed the final vacuuming, we still weren't pleased with the results. One of our techs came up with an idea and ran back to our shop for a 30' telescoping pole that we use for roof algae jobs. He wrapped and taped a cotton cloth to the end, soaked it in sodium hypochlorite, and gently dabbed the cracks and crevices that still looked dirty. The solution worked great. The mold was eliminated as we watched from the floor. We followed up with a second wipe down with the anti-microbial solution (using the pole technique this time), and now it's the painters turn to scale the ladder.
Grease and Odor Containment
Location: Danvers, MA 01923
Problem: Old seaside commercial building had a persistent problem with grease and odor containment in basement crawlspace and needed a fast, cost-effective solution to both. The odor had to be eliminated, not just covered over, and the crawlspace could not be excavated to remove the grease build up.
Solution: To tackle the persistent odor problem from many years of sea-water infiltration and grease buildup, AdvantaClean of the North Shore used Chlorine Dioxide gas packets to completely destroy and eliminate the odor problem. This was done over night while no one was in the building. The gas was blown clear early the following morning. We then put down in excess of a cubic yard of a granular Diatomaceous Earth/Bentonite Clay mix on the floor to absorb the grease in place and neutralize it. The absorbent mix will hold up to 140 times its weight in liquid and will stay in place as the floors substrate. The crawlspace is now clean, odor free and safe for utility/maintenance personnel.
Old Fiberboard Return Duct Cleaning
Location: Danvers, MA 01923
Problem: This HAVC system was installed in a small retail store when the building was built in 1974. The store manager noticed that the system was not operating properly in the heating mode, and called their contract HVAC provider to inspect and fix the problem. Upon inspection, the system was discovered to have been installed with two independent sets of return air filters in the same return line. The primary filters had completely clogged with dust and debris and were starving the system of makeup air. The primary filters were removed permanently from each return line, but 45 years of dust and debris had accumulated and coated the ductwork in front of the primary filters and needed to be removed.
Solution: Because of the age of the ductwork, the thickness of the accumulated dust and debris, and the friability of the duct board, traditional air whips and rotary brushes would not remove the build up. After several tries, we finally resorted to manual cleaning methods using soft bristle round and rectangular vacuum brush heads and small HEPA vacuums to clean the ducts.