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Frequently Asked Questions

CRAWL SPACE SERVICES:

What warranties are included with an IES Closed Crawl Space?

  1. Lifetime Warranty where CleanSeal is applied (transferable to future homeowners) – “no toxic mold shall penetrate the treated surface, nor shall any such microorganisms emerge from beneath a treated surface”
  2. 1 year NO mold, NO condensation IES Closed Crawl Space Warranty (renewable with Annual Healthy Home Service)
  3. 10 years Materials and Craftsmanship on all crawl space components (excludes mechanical components i.e. sump pump, dehumidifier, etc. These components are covered by their specific manufacturer warranties.)

Why does IES use foil/foam reflective insulation moisture barrier instead of 10, 12 or 20 mil plastic?

Foam/Foil is a better performing product for crawl spaces. Our unique liner is thicker (150 mil thick) provides padding, insulation (conductance and reflectance), prevents condensation and NO notorious “cat pee” odor associated as with plastic liners.

The foil/foam reflective insulation barrier reflects lost energy from the home’s subfloor and air ducts radiating it back into the house keeping your crawl space and lower level floors nice and warm in the winter.

The foil/foam reflective barrier allows us to create a much more temperature-stable and humidity-controlled environment with less energy input into the system.

What about odors in my home from a closed crawl space? I’ve heard horror stories...

This is a real problem that occurs in even code compliant crawl space. IES has had extensive experience in remediation of odor issue over the years and are proud to say we have a 100% success rate with our ammonia/cat pee odor mitigation projects.

The “cat pee” odor is associated with the plastic liners, inadequate air sealing and bacterial overgrowth.

Off gassing from expanding foam can also create strong odors.

“Ask our clients” – call us to request the contact information for our clients that have experienced these issues, they are happy to discuss information to our future clients!

Why does IES use a supply vent instead of a dehumidifier?

IES preference is to use a supply vent where possible because both the initial and lifetime cost of a supply vent are substantially lower than that of a dehumidifier.  A supply vent requires zero maintenance and should never need replacement. A dehumidifier, on the other hand, will add significant initial cost to your project, requires annual maintenance, regular filter changes, and [because it is mechanical] will eventually need to be replaced.

It is important to note that the drying mechanism (i.e. supply vent or dehumidifier) is only one part of a closed crawl space system. An IES Insulating Radiant Moisture Barrier Lined Closed Crawl Space is designed as a system to control humidity and condensation, prevent mold, and protect IAQ for many years to come with minimal maintenance and energy input.

If the closed crawl space system is clean, well sealed and insulated, very little energy input is needed to achieve these goals.  Too often we have seen closed crawl space systems that rely on expensive dehumidifiers to compensate for poorly installed closed crawl space systems.  It is true that a poorly installed or incomplete system can in fact allow IAQ issues to persist and in some cases cause new ones to occur.

There are some cases in which a dehumidifier might be a preferred option over a supply vent for your home including:

  • If your HVAC system does not have the needed capacity to condition the crawl space (this is rare as the needed amount of conditioned air is small compared to the needs of living areas)
  • If your temperature preferences (thermostat settings) are outside of the normal range for extended periods of time (i.e. less air conditioning or heat use than is typical). You will need to maintain thermostat settings between 65-75 degrees year-round.
  • If you do not live in the home full time or otherwise have control of HVAC temperature settings i.e. rental property or vacation home.

Why is it important to address drainage issues before proceeding with a Closed Crawl Space?

Effective landscape drainage diverts water around your home/crawl space, not into your foundation and crawl space. A closed crawl space is designed to address

No closed crawl space system (including ours) is designed to withstand a flood event or chronic water intrusion issues. If water from outside is getting through the foundation of your home and into the crawl space it can cause a host of issues for your home that will not be addressed by a closed crawl space system.

The best practice solution (and often the best value) is to invest in exterior measures to prevent water from contacting your foundation and entering the crawl space wherever possible. Doing so before you invest in a closed crawl space system is the best way to protect your closed crawl space investment from water damage.

In addition, it is also important to include an interior drainage system of some kind as part of your closed crawl space design to allow water to get out “in the event of a plumbing break”. This is often just a single “drain to daylight” or sump pump that discharges outside. Many homes will already have a drain in the crawl space, and most are clogged at the discharge point.

How do I protect my Closed Crawl Space after installation is complete?

Your crawl space will be clean, dry, radiant barrier bright, durable, low maintenance, no mold, or insects, constant temperature and humidity 😊 It’s now a wonderful storage area and great place for other trades to work. Just be sure the trades people clean up their mess and call IES for annual Health Home Service.

IES installs a runner at the entry point, which provides extra protection. Service workers should take care to prevent damage to the liner including protective shoe coverings.  Moving blankets or cardboard are helpful in preventing damage to the barrier while moving tools, equipment or materials around in the crawl space.

Encourage service workers to let you know if they think there is a problem, or something is damaged. Repairs are usually simple but best-done ASAP to prevent further compromise of the system.

Loose debris from renovations or construction in the closed crawl space should be cleaned once renovations are completed.

Exterior crawl space doors should not be left open for extended periods if avoidable to prevent outdoor pollutants/humidity and pest entry into the closed crawl space.

Your closed crawl space can be used as a clean, dry storage area, however, please avoid storing harmful or dangerous chemicals, fuel, or lumber/paper.  We also recommend avoiding using cardboard boxes for stored items, plastic totes are preferable.

IES recommends an annual “Healthy Home Service” be completed for your closed crawl space. This annual checkup covers a full inspection, cleaning and minor repairs as needed, inspection for water intrusion, a dryer vent cleaning and more to ensure your system is operating at it’s best and as designed, cost is typically $375 but is dependent on your specific system.

IES also offers cleanup/checkup visits if there is a need for a standard service fee (usually $375).  If you have renovation or other service work that you think may have impacted your closed crawl space, we encourage you to reach out to us and we can advise you regarding any specific recommendations.

What is a Healthy Home Service?

Our Healthy Home Service is an annual maintenance program designed to maintain warranties and ensure your investment is one that will last a lifetime. With this service our crew will address each of the following:

  • inspect all IES work that was performed (including your crawl space, air ducts and/or attic)
  • perform minor repairs and touch-ups (as needed)
  • replace bug sticky plates and check to see if there are bug/rodent entry points that need to be re-sealed
  • inspect crawl space for water intrusion and plumbing leaks
  • assess supply vent and/or dehumidifier to ensure it is properly dehumidifying your crawl space
  • clean the Filtered Fresh Air Ventilation System and provide a new year’s worth of filters
  • clean and sanitize your HVAC coil – they will also inspect air ducts for potential mold growth (if accessible)
  • perform a dryer vent cleaning (if accessible)
  • renew your “no condensation, no mold warranty” for another year

What is a Filtered Fresh Air Ventilation System (FFAVS) and why is it important?

Our FFAVS is a simple, low cost and effective way to bring filtered fresh air into your home.

The Filtered Fresh Air Ventilation System is an add-on component to your HVAC system. When your HVAC system is heating, cooling or circulating air it will also bring in a little bit of Filtered Air From Outside.  The carbon pre filter is changed each season and the secondary electrostatic filter can be washed and reused.

The benefits of filtered fresh air are many, less pollen, more oxygen, less CO2, smog, and radon combined to make the FFAVS a priceless add-on to your HVAC system.

Filtered fresh air and the quantity of incoming air is especially critical in newer homes, which are built to be tight. Tight Building Syndrome (TBS) is a serious health concern as the homes are quickly congested with chemicals off-gassing from building materials.

Will the foam used on the foundation wall prevent water intrusion?

The closed crawl space system that we have proposed does not include the use of spray foam insulation on the brick foundation walls. Our system includes a foil/foam flexible insulation blanket that is adhered to the foundation wall. This will provide an excellent vapor/air barrier as well as insulation properties. If significant water intrusion is occurring through the masonry wall, over time this can cause the adhesive to fail. This situation is not covered under warranty and is one of the reasons we recommend addressing water intrusion issues prior to or as part of a closed crawl space project.

AIR DUCT SERVICES:

Why do I need my air ducts to be clean?

Clean air duct are more efficient and don’t spew particles into the air, which are then inhaled, leading to asthma, and allergies. Mold tends to grow on organic material in the air ducts, and the dirt, skin flakes, fibers-of-glass, pollen etc. are also a food source for cockroaches, mites and spiders.

Buyer beware; most air duct cleaning companies do not perform a through service, because to do it right takes more time and money. First, we need technicians that care, are trained and using the right equipment for the specific air ducts. Next removal of all debris and dust, mold remediation of internal insulation, air sealing all leaks, using non-toxic food based disinfectants and installing the right furnace filters.

Why is this Note included with my Air Duct Cleaning estimate, “NOTE: If there is mold in the secondary flex ducts, air duct cleaning will not effectively remove it. To properly remove mold, secondary ducts will need to be replaced.”?

Mold can not be completely removed from some air ducts, especially flexible ducts. Air duct mold remediation cost more then air duct cleaning and we want our clients to know that if mold is present, cleaning alone will not get rid of it.

Best practice is inspecting the air ducts and determining their condition and cleaning or mold remediation protocol prior to the air duct cleaning crew arriving.

Can’t you just sanitize my air ducts to kill all the mold?

Not all air ducts can be effectively sanitized due to access challenges and the different types of duct materials installed.

Disinfectants can be sprayed/fogged into the ducts but contacting the mold in all the nooks and crannies is an overstated service/benefit. Also, even mold that has been “killed” by a disinfectant still has its allergenic, and toxicogenic properties.

The removal of colonized mold from plastic flexible air ducts is not feasible in most situations; removal of the ducts is the only method that will confirm the removal of mold from these components of your HVAC system.

In addition, there are practical problems with relying on all existing application methods of fungicides or sanitizers to HVAC interior surfaces as a means to address a colonized mold infestation. First, achieving adequate coverage and dwell time during application of these chemicals inside the ducts via fogging or other techniques is difficult and is without a means to verify efficacy. Second, adding additional potentially harmful chemicals to the home poses additional unnecessary risks to IAQ and the health of the home in general.

“Killing” the mold does not solve the problem as even “dead” or non-viable mold still presents an exposure risk. The safe removal of mold and the conditions that caused it is the best practice method for ensuring the issue has been correctly addressed and the only one that allows for implementing a standard of clearance to your project before getting started that can be independently verified after remediation is completed.

MOLD REMEDIATION:

How will I know that all the mold has been addressed correctly and that my home is now safe?

Start with a through protocol, trained and experienced personal, responsive management, good reviews and proper insurance.

The success of the project is built upon each step. Get each step/phase right and pass visual inspection and testing of air borne particles, & mold spores, etc.

Mold remediation can be expensive and in addition to the financial impact, the concern for the health and safety for your family is justified and understandable. The first way to ensure that your remediation project will go smoothly and be successful is to engage the services of a qualified and experienced mold/environmental inspector to assess the extent of the mold damage and to design a remediation protocol that includes a plan to prevent cross contamination to other areas of your home or business, prevent exposure to you and your family during and after remediation, and achieve a standard of clearance that meets your needs. Second, hire a remediation provider that is certified to perform the type of remediation needed and can meet the standard of clearance in place. Mold remediation service providers should also be insured specifically for this type of work. This insurance is known as “pollution liability”.

IES inspectors are fully certified and insured to perform environmental mold inspections and have the experience to design a remediation protocol for a variety of situations as well as clearance standards for your individual situation. IES can provide you with a detailed remediation plan to take to the remediation provider of your choice as well as provide you with post-remediation clearance inspections and testing.

IES is also a fully certified, and insured mold remediation service provider. If you already have a remediation protocol and are ready to move forward, we can help and are ready to meet the clearance standard you need. Please note, IES may not be able to assist you with your project if your remediation plan will not meet a minimum standard for a safe remediation.

Do I have black mold? I heard that not all mold is dangerous.

With many molds the danger or health impact has to do with the type, amount and duration of exposure. A person’s general health and immune response also plays a role in the health impact.

The term “black mold” is a commonly used colloquialism meant to denote more harmful known species of mold. It is also a misnomer in that the color or physical appearance to the naked eye of mold is not related to its harmfulness or species but more influenced by the surface it is colonized on, i.e. the nutrients available to it and the local environmental conditions as well as its level of development or phase of life.

Of the thousands of known and identifiable species of mold, most are considered “allergenic” meaning that they are a known irritant. The level of risk is dependent on the extent of exposure and individual sensitivities. Many of these allergenic molds can easily and commonly colonize both indoor and outdoor environments. There are also many species of mold that are typically only found growing in an outdoor environment and when found indoors are usually the result of infiltration rather than colonization. The last group are known as “toxigenic molds” because when growing they produce mycotoxins that are an additional exposure hazard to all individuals. These molds are rarely found in outdoor environments and instead prefer indoor environments and especially wet building materials (i.e. drywall, carpet, paper, wood and particle board). These molds are associated with flood or water damaged buildings and are often called “water loss indicator” molds for this reason.

So, some mold is more dangerous than others and all mold has the potential to be a problem depending on where it is occurring, why, and to what extent as well as who is exposed to it and how often. A thorough inspection and careful assessment by a qualified inspector of the environmental conditions as well as the occupants is the best way to determine the extent of the remediation needed.

I heard that all homes have mold and that this is normal. Why should I be worried?

Its estimated that over 60% of buildings in America have water damage. Mold needs moisture to grow, therefore if you have visible colonized mold growth then you have moisture/water issues and homes with water issues may be “normal” but in this context it’s best not to be normal, as moisture issue are something to worry about😊.

It’s true that all homes will have mold of some kind.  If by “normal” you mean “common”, we agree.  But if by “normal” you mean not a problem; we say it’s not that simple and it depends on some other factors.  Mold is almost ubiquitous to our world.  When considering if mold is an issue in an environment, we are assessing the current fungal ecology of the environment and comparing it to what is determined to be a “normal” or healthy fungal ecology.  For a residential or commercial building regularly occupied by people this means in general that there are no indoor sources of mold and that the levels of mold inside the environment are lower than outside levels and consist of the same species found in the outdoor environment.

Determining the correct fungal ecology for an environment requires an assessment of the regular use of the environment and the types of individuals who occupy it.  Different situations and individuals will require different levels of cleanliness to remain healthy and chronic exposure to environmental contaminants can cause sensitization in individuals leading to a need for change in the environment.

What if you discover that more work is needed once the project is underway? I’m concerned about hidden charges or unexpected fees that will force me to pay more than I expected, I’ve heard horror stories of disreputable contractors taking advantage of people.

A thorough inspection is required by IES for any services to proceed. An important part of our inspection process also involves assessing the potential for unexpected issues which allows for accurate planning and establishing expectations for your project.

If during a project our crew discovers any issue that would require a change in the scope of planned work they contact the project leader and inspector to relay the details at which point we would contact you to go over what was found, where, and what options are available. No change in scope or cost for a project would take place without your approval first.

Every member of the IES team is dedicated to the goal of ensuring that every project goes smoothly and that the process is as stress-free as possible for our clients. Our process is imbued with attention to detail and exceptional communication at every step-in order to meet this goal. To be sure, we cannot plan for everything and sometimes the unexpected happens. If it does, please be assured that we will act quickly to resolve any issues to keep your project on track and that you understand all the available options.

Check references; We can provide you with referrals of our fantastic past clients who are now pleased to share their experience with potential future clients, please call our office or ask your project manager for references.

Based on the mold found in the crawl space, is it okay for us to live in the home while the work is performed?

This will be determined on a case by case basis. In short, we will leave that decision up to you. At IES, we take mold very seriously and prioritize containment above all else (to minimize cross-contamination). However, some of our customers do experience mold allergies and varying sensitivities. If you or anyone in the home has known sensitivities to mold, we recommend you/they leave the house on Day 1 (when mold remediation is performed).

ATTIC SERVICES:

Why do IES Attic Services cost more than other quotes I’ve received?

IES likes to be through, do no harm and deliver on performance. We keep it clean, use non/less toxic products and have a trained, experienced and caring crew, (we also pay them more). We document your project with before and after pictures, which confirms we followed through on our protocol/services.

We put down runner for floor protection, use True HEPA Air Filter to prevent fibers-of-glass from entering you living areas, bring port-a-johns so we are not in your bathroom, and that’s just for starter😊.

Knowing where and how to air seal, using non-formaldehyde insulation, and durable, high reflectance foil products makes our attics a thing of no maintenance high performance beauty.

Not all services are equal in their quality.  Air sealing and insulation work in hot, cramped attics is difficult.  For air sealing to be effective, it must be as complete as possible.  To get it right requires a meticulous attention to detail, pride in your work, and the determination to provide consistent quality from beginning to end.  Because all of this important and detailed work is difficult to inspect visually and almost impossible after new insulation covers it up, a great deal of integrity is critical to ensure that the finished result will be effective for many years to come.

Insulation levels should be consistent over all areas of the attic, not just where they’re easy to see.  Insulation should not block existing attic ventilation openings or spill over onto floored storage or service access areas which requires careful preparation work before installation.  In addition, the quality of the materials used has a direct effect on their efficacy and durability.  IES uses only high quality, non-formaldehyde insulation and offers fully low-odor, low-VOC options upon request!

Our hardworking (heat resistant) and dedicated crew knows how to get it right and takes great pride in doing so each and every time!  IES documents all of our work photographically and will provide you with before and after pictures of all the detailed work deep inside your attic so you can be sure that we did what we said we would do.  In addition, our crew will treat your home with care and respect; protective coverings on floors and over furniture as needed in the work areas and HEPA air scrubbers in use during the entire process.  Not enough? IES can offer additional before and after testing options that can measure the difference our work has made.  IES can also provide this additional verification process as quality assurance for your attic service provider of choice.

Why is Attic Air Sealing so important?

Allowing hot or cold air to blow through insulation defeats its purpose. Therefore, pugging the holes that allow air movement is critical for insulation to be effective.

Insulation in your home is like a sweater on a cold day; it helps to trap in heat but if the wind is blowing through your sweater then you will lose heat and feel cold. Air sealing is like putting on a windbreaker over your sweater.

Air sealing as many of the gaps as possible between your unconditioned attic areas and living areas is the most cost-effective way to reduce the amount of energy your home uses for heating and cooling. These gaps that allow air to easily pass into and out of your home contribute to how drafty and dusty your home is which directly affects how comfortable it is. Adding more insulation is helpful for improving energy efficiency and comfort but without air sealing, air leaks will bypass your new insulation making it less effective. Make the most of your new insulation investment by making sure that all the gaps and cracks in your home’s construction beneath the insulation have been correctly sealed first.

INSPECTIONS:

What is included with a Whole House Air Quality Inspection?

Our Inspection includes a full visual inspection of all accessible/relevant areas of your home for evidence of mold, moisture, and air quality issues including living areas, HVAC systems, attic areas, crawl space, and basements.

Our standard inspection process will include readings and measurements of temperature, humidity, particulate, chemicals, and carbon dioxide.  These metrics are an excellent baseline to create a snapshot of the general IAQ and health of your home in combination with the visual assessment.

Depending on your needs, suspected issues, or findings during the visual inspection IES can recommend and offer additional testing options including air and surface testing for mold and mycotoxins, and air testing for TVOCs (airborne chemical analysis).  Additional testing beyond what is included in the standard inspection will carry additional fees.  When scheduling your inspection, a member of our team will help you to determine what services/testing may be recommended based on your needs as well as any applicable fees.

The standard inspection process in the average home usually takes 1-2 hours to complete though more or less time on site may be needed depending on your home or testing needs.  Your inspector will have a few questions for you before getting started and may have follow-up questions after inspecting your home.

Once the visual inspection is completed, your inspector will be happy to go over initial findings with you and answer questions.  IES recommends that all interested parties and/or decision makers are present for this part of your inspection because it is a great opportunity to make connections between the inspectors’ findings and what you are experiencing in the home. Your inspector’s time onsite may sometimes be limited but the opportunity for follow-up discussion by phone is available if needed.

After your inspection, your inspector will complete a full inspection report that includes pictures and descriptions of findings and recommendations as well as the results of any testing that was done.  If your inspector determines that your home can benefit from services that IES offers and you would like, we will be happy to provide you with estimates at no additional charge.  If needed, IES can assist you by scheduling additional consulting at any time (before or after, with or without scheduling an inspection) by phone or video call.  Our standard remote consulting fee is $75 per hour.

INDOOR AIR QUALITY:

How do I test my home for radon?

Radon levels fluctuate and will vary over time. To get an accurate idea of what your radon levels are we recommend a continuous digital radon meter, the cost is $150. EPA recommends taking action at 4.0 pCi/L or above, yet the WHO is recommending 2.7 pCi/L. Both organizations recommend getting levels as low as possible.

IES can discuss the various methods available for radon mitigation and provide a referral for a qualified mitigation service provider. Recommendations will vary depending on the type of foundation (crawl space, slab or basement) and circumstances.