Protecting Your Property From Water And Mold Damage - A Guide To Choosing The Right Equipment.

With the increasing knowledge of the health effects pertaining to mold exposure, it only makes sense that more and more individuals are concerned with preventing water damage within their property. In order to do so, one needs to understand the best approaches to achieving this somewhat tall order. The intention of this blog post is to provide guidance to those looking to evaluate moisture conditions within their homes, workplaces and even their means of transportation.

First and foremost, why would someone want to evaluate their property, or prospective property for moisture? Well, the answer is quite simple! Moisture left in materials can lead to the development of mold, which can lead to health effects from mold exposure. Does this mean that if I spill a cup of water on my carpet and don’t remove all of the moisture quickly, that I’m going to grow mold? Absolutely not! However, this isn’t to say that the developmental stages won’t now be set into place, just waiting for more excess moisture down the road. In short, prevent excess moisture within a property and you will prevent mold growth, mildew within bathrooms and an array of other prospective indoor environmental hazards.

Great… Now that I know why I want to prevent excess moisture from going unnoticed, how can I evaluate my property for moisture? Great question, and one that I will explain in detail. When it comes to evaluating or assessing your property for moisture, you’ll want to invest in a quality meter, or set of meters. When it comes to meter options, we don’t quite have the time to talk about all makes and models - so I’ll stick to what I have personal experience with. Ok, so I’ve used everything from all-in-one meters to dual-purpose meters and even meters specifically designed for one task. There are a medley of options for one to choose from out there, so how do you decide on a purchase? Well, let’s dissect the different types of meters in the next paragraph.

Types of Meters For Evaluating Moisture Content Within Materials And Relative Humidity.

  • All-in-one Meters: These meters are capable of acquiring moisture content in multiple ways. The first is in a non-destructive manner, typically by applying part of the meter atop the surface you’d like to evaluate. These meters will also allow for penetration into a substrate, typically with attached or detached replaceable pins. Lastly, these meters will be able to collect information on the moisture content within the air. This hygrometer feature allows for most meters to view temperature, relative humidity, dew point, grains per pound (GPP) and often wet bulb temperature and BTUs per pound (Enthalpy). Additionally, many of these meters possess a connection point, allowing for other adapters to be connected (e.g. deep penetrating prongs and specialty attachments for sliding behind baseboards).

  • Dual Purpose Meters: Possessing the ability to acquire both penetrating and non-penetrating moisture readings, these meters are used widely among both restoration professionals, general contractors and even the general public. Because of their more affordable price-point, when compared to the all-in-one meters, this type of meter is often sought after and highly desirable for many. These types of meters lack the ability to collect moisture content and additional information from the ambient air.

  • Specific Use Meters: The explanation of this type of meter is right there in the name - meters used to collect specific information. Whether you’re looking to take a non-destructive relative moisture reading, wanting to penetrate a material to determine specific moisture content or desiring knowledge of the Relative Humidity (RH) within the air - there’s a meter for each of these tasks. Note: When it comes to taking moisture readings in concrete, you’ll need a meter specifically designed for concrete. Utilizing a meter not specifically designed for concrete will produce wildly varying moisture percentages, of which will provide no relevant information for interpretation.

Choosing The Right Meter For the Job.

With so many meter options, which one is best for your needs? Well, that depends on what you’re looking to accomplish. If you’re only wanting to check moisture content in walls throughout multiple properties, as you search for the right place for you, a non-penetrating moisture meter would likely be the best choice. Generally, most property owners are not wanting damage to be made during an inspection process. When it comes to a Home Inspection, by a qualified professional, exceptions are often made. For a consumer looking to perform some moisture screening steps prior to settling on a property, the less destructive the better!

For individuals looking to truly evaluate a property for elevated moisture conditions, a relative hygrometer is needed. Whether a stand-alone thermohygrometer, or an all-in-one meter, you’ll need the capabilities of these types of meters to find out how humid the air within a space may be, as well as what specific areas of a property are more subject to higher humidity. If you’re looking to purchase based on price-point, with the least costly meter being the objective, an all-in-one meter will be best suited. However, if the combination of quality and accuracy is most important to you, you’ll likely be better off buying either individual meters or a dual purpose meter paired with a separate thermohygrometer.

Assuming assessment of moisture content within materials is the only goal, consider buying a dual purpose meter. You’ll see a more affordable price tag, when compared to purchasing a separate penetrating and non-penetrating meter. You’ll also only have to worry about battery replacement within one device. While some may not care about this, it’s definitely a factor that comes into play over the lifetime ownership of a meter.

What Brand Meter(s) Should I Purchase?

Let me start by making it known that I am not endorsing any specific brand, nor am I being compensated for the promotion of any specific brand. The meters referenced here are those that I’ve personally utilized at one point or another during my 15 years within the property damage restoration/ consulting industry. There are numerous meters out there and I encourage anyone considering the purchase of a meter to conduct their own research. While this blog post is a great start, comparing specific features offered by the varying meters from manufacturers is also recommended.

  • Tramex: Like most of the brands referenced within this post, Tramex has been manufacturing multiple different types of meters for many years. They not only produce quality products, but are well respected within the property restoration industry - making them a shoe in for consideration. Price point for Tramex meters will be more premium than those often found at local hardware stores and even online retail websites.

  • Delmhorst: A major player within the property restoration and farming industries. Delmhorst is yet another top-tier company when it comes to the manufacturing of quality, accurate meters. While their meter design is somewhat dated, don’t let that deter you from considering the purchase of a Delmhorst meter. Similarly to Tramex, Delmhorst meters are at a more premium price-point.

  • Vaisala: Headquartered in Finland, this International company has been a global leader in the manufacturing of environmental measurement equipment for quite some time. Vaisala has been well known for their superior accuracy with their Thermohygrometers. Even established companies already manufacturing property restoration equipment have made the decision to private label Vaisala’s meters - a strong testament to the confidence in Vaisala’s equipment. You should expect a very premium price-point for many of the meters manufactured by Vaisala.

  • Protimeter: While this may be the most common brand for meters used within the property restoration industry, these meters are also among the most attractive looking - if that’s something you’re into. Sporting nice curvatures and rubberized grip throughout, these meters definitely feel like a premium product! When it comes to pricing, Protimeter seems to be comparably priced to Delmhorst meters.

  • Flir: While still the “new kid on the block”, Flir has been manufacturing state of the art equipment for years. Furthermore, Flir continues to own the Thermal Imaging market, offering some of the most technologically advanced equipment around. It’s no surprise that when they acquired Extech, they would soon start producing moisture detecting equipment of their own. Being the first manufacturer to combine moisture detection and infrared imaging within a single meter, expect this company to be a major contender in the years to come. For now, their line-up of moisture meters are certainly above average, but not quite on the level of some other companies. Nonetheless, you can pickup an all-in-one meter for much less than many other companies as well!

  • General: If this name looks familiar to you, it should. General moisture meters are in just about every local hardware store across the country! While this manufacturer is not a contender within the property restoration industry, it certainly contends well with those looking to equip themselves with an inexpensive moisture meter. Having owned one of their pin-style meters for years, solely as backup meter, I can say that their pin-type meters works as advertised - and will differentiate between wet and dry conditions with no problems.

Bringing This Post To A Close…

Well, I can only imagine that if you’ve gotten this far, you’ve found some relevant content. I do hope that the content provided within this post will assist you in making a near or future purchase of a moisture meter. As I mentioned above, this post should solely be used as reference, during your search for a new, suitable meter for your needs. As a restoration professional, I’ve had the liberty of working with many different types of meters and will include photos of those within my own current personal collection, as well as some teaser photos for a future blog post - pertaining to moisture sensor monitoring equipment for properties. Should you have any questions relating to moisture meters, best practices, etc, my inbox is always open. For the sake of preventing the lovely world of internet spam, I’ll break up my email address, but I think you can figure out how it goes - josh @ discreetrestoration .com

Best of luck in your meter researching!

Contractor vs. Mold Remediator - What’s The Difference?

Oh, the question that plagues many - “Why would I hire a professional mold remediation company, when I can just have my contractor remove the mold and repair the area?” To be fair, it’s a valid question, and one that deserves a discussion. When it comes to contractors, there’s a long list of skill sets that many of these individuals/ companies possess. From framing to drywall and even painting, the skills cannot be ignored. Some of these individuals have even been part of the home building process.

So, with such an array of skills, why wouldn’t you just hire a contractor to handle any and all mold-related repairs within your home? [*Cracks knuckles] Here we go… For starters, let’s take a look at the track record for your average contractor. While the workmanship may be impeccable, how well did they do with dust control? Was plastic hung in door openings and used to cover furniture? Were workers careful abut tracking dust out of designated work areas? The fact remains that your average contractor knows what they know, and that’s all they know.

Let’s take a look at your average mold remediator now… are they more expensive than a contractor? Heck yeah! What all are you getting for the additional expense? For starters, remediators understand the importance of proper dust control, as not doing so can lead to cross-contamination and potentially thousands of dollars in secondary damages/ clean-up. Furthermore, there should be a great deal of piece of mind knowing that your average mold remediation company carries an additional insurance policy solely for instances in which accidental cross-contamination occurs. Accidents happen, so it’s nice to know that there’s a 1-2 million dollar policy there just in case things don’t go as planned. The policy that we’re talking about is Contractor Pollution Liability, or CPL for short. It’s imperative that you check with any remediation firm that you’re considering for hire, as to ensure that they carry this coverage.

So, what are some other distinguishing factors between mold remediator and contractor? Here’s a brief list of some additional differentiating characteristics.

  • Remediators own an array of equipment specifically for mold removal and cleanup, whereas contractors typically rent this equipment. Remediators are in a better position to work with you on costs associated with additional days of required machinery.

  • Most remediation firms have employees that possess industry specific certifications, whereas the average contractor likely doesn’t know how far to go with material removal, cleaning, etc. Google “IICRC certifications”, if you’re curious what I’m talking about.

  • Mold remediation companies guarantee their work, and a “passing” result following service. A contractor may stand by their work, but most are stumped when results are unfavorable. No one is perfect, but knowing how to handle situations that require additional work is a great trait to have.

Keep in mind the above information the next time you’re faced the decision to hire a licensed mold remediation company or a contractor that claims to know how to handle mold.

Why Mold Remediation Companies Have to Battle a Bad Industry Reputation…

If you’re a business owner within the restoration industry, like myself, there isn’t a day that goes by when you find yourself having to prove that you aren’t one of those “corrupt restoration companies”. Does it bother me that I have to play the roll of Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, nearly 5 days a week? Not at all! Would I prefer to walk into my office, slap a big red easy button and focus on other tasks at hand - for sure!

Alright, so enough with the silly references above. So, why do Mold Remediation Companies have such a bad industry reputation? Well, it’s phone calls similar to the one I received on Thursday, that pretty much summarize the events that lead to the stigma that all Mold Remediation Companies are only in the business for self gain. A lovely woman called our office, informing me that she came across our company name a few weeks back - at 1:30am to be specific. Why is this time frame important? Because she wasn’t getting sleep, staying up at night wondering if the company she had working in her home locked up after they left, employed workers with malicious tendencies, were doing what they said they were going to do, etc.

For the sake of time here, I’ll spare you the small talk throughout our conversation. Some of the big takeaways was her perception of the insurance claim process, following damages that she suffered to her home. For one reason or another, this woman decided to hire a PA (Public Adjuster). Don’t get ahead of me here, as there is absolutely nothing wrong with hiring a PA to assist with an insurance claim. In fact, I often recommend it, with the shift that I’ve personally seen with the tactics that some (not all) insurance carriers employ. With hiring the public adjuster, a Mold Remediation Contractor was recommended (nothing wrong with this process thus far).

Flash forward to the commencement of the Mold Remediation Service and the company used begins tearing apart just about everything in this woman’s home, according to her. Upon completion of the work, a licensed Mold Assessment Company came in to confirm that the Mold Remediation Service was successfully performed. They were there to make sure the home was returned back to a satisfactory or better state. This is where the process gets out of hand, as it took 5 instances of the Mold Remediation Company coming back to perform further work, in order to successfully complete the service. As a result of the additional expenses incurred for assessments by the Mold Remediation Contractor, they had the audacity to ask the homeowner to pay a portion of her invoice - despite engaging in an Assignment of Benefits, whereby the service company will wait to collect from an insurance carrier. Fun fact: All reputable Mold Remediation Contractors should incur the costs for re-testing (additional assessments) until the service is successfully completed. There are instances in which this is not the case, but these are rare.

As I wrapped up my phone conversation with this woman, she mentioned that she looked into the Mold Remediation Company after the fact to find that they did not have stellar reviews. She also mentioned that there were numerous instances in which the company left her property unlocked - occasionally leaving doors and windows opened to the outdoor elements. Absolutely no regard for the homeowner and her belongings! If you’re a homeowner reading this blog post, the point that I would like to get across is to trust, but verify. The Mold Remediation Industry, is a major referral business - as is much of the construction industry. While there are still companies, such as ourselves, that refer business with the best of client intentions in mind, not everyone shares the same interests. Do your homework. Check online resources for company information. Establish communication with referred contractors before you simply invite them into your home. I will include a couple of links to reputable websites, where you can verify contractor licensing and reputation, as well as file complaints below.

Verify a license:

Verify reputation/ File a complaint:

Black Toxic Mold! Why All The Hype by Contractors, And Should You be Concerned?


Oh, the ole’ “black toxic mold is inhabiting your home and will slowly eat away at your family’s health”… As if! So, what exactly is “black toxic mold”? Well, I don’t recommend performing an extensive Google search about this - unless you’d like to have nightmares. In the simplest explanation, the terms black mold and toxic mold, sometimes used together, are utilized to describe specific species of mold. Stachybotrys is the most notorious species of mold that ties to the toxicity that is this overly-used scare tactic of words. One in fact that restoration professionals have created to drive consumers to hire a remediation Company out of sheer panic

Is all Black Mold Toxic?

Good gracious, no! Mold comes in all colors, shapes, patterns and sizes. More often than not, multiple species of mold will inhabit a space. Stachybotrys is a mold that scares many, as the health effects are something not to mess around with. Because this is a species of mold attributed with long term water damage, it’s color often has many shades of black. That said, Penicillium Aspergillus are species of mold that are much more common - as their growth is often the result of excess humidity within the air. Why does that matter? Well, these specifies of mold are also black in color in many instances. The black spotting that typically develops on walls is very often Penicillium Aspergillus.

What Mold Can Affect My Health?

Great question! Short answer is that you should be concerned with all species of mold equally. No, this doesn’t mean to drop everything and run out of your house at the first sight of mold. This does, however, mean that you should not put greater importance on one species of mold over another - unless of course you know that you have allergies toward something specific. Many individuals now-a-days are having allergy tests performed at their doctor’s office, when they begin to develop cold-like and flu-like symptoms more frequently.

What Should I do When I Discover Black Mold, Green Mold or any other Color Mold?

First, relax… There’s no reason to panic. If you or anyone else within the property are experiencing health issues, it would be advantageous to separate yourself from the environment - or minimize being in these areas at the very least. The next step would be to take advantage of the offering that most professional mold remediation companies promote - “free inspections” or “free estimates”. The benefit of having a remediation professional visit your home is through the acquisition of information from someone with industry knowledge. Mind you, if the professional you bring in is a pushy salesman, you want to find another company. Now, if you’re looking for something a little more concrete, and often without bias, you may want to entertain the thought of hiring a mold assessor. A mold assessor is an individual capable of performing testing (known as sampling) for mold - in addition to the same thorough visual and metered inspection that remediation contractors perform on a first visit. These individuals have the advantage of providing objective data, indicating definitively if mold is present.

Reform is Here For Florida Assignment of Benefits (AOB) Regarding Property Claims

For those of us who are restoration contractors, we had a feeling that this day may come. If you’re not in the mold remediation and water damage repair industry, there are some changes that you need to know about the assignment of benefits - as this will change the insurance claims process that you may have been used to in the past.

Before we get into the AOB Reform Bill that was passed yesterday (04/24/2019), let’s make sure we’re all on the same page - as to what the assignment of benefits actually is. According to the Florida Division of Consumer Services, “An AOB gives the third party authority to file a claim, make repair decisions and collect insurance payments without your involvement“. So, what does this mean in the restoration industry? Well, if you have a pipe leak and proceed to hire a remediation professional by signing an AOB, that company now has the right to file a claim on your behalf and even be paid directly. Sound scary to you? It shouldn’t, but it could have been when greed is the motivational factor behind having you sign such a document.

Before we go any further, you may be wondering where I stand on the use of the assignment of benefits within our industry. Well… my company has utilized an AOB only twice in nearly a decade of operation. Does this mean I’m against it? Absolutely not! Like anything in life, I feel there is value when used properly. An example of this would be when a homeowner is not in a position to afford an emergency service. What I am against is the selection of contractors that have abused the AOB, and required homeowners to sign over their rights to work that was yet to be performed. The leverage that a contractor then possesses is unfair to the homeowner - as they lose the right to hire other contractors for upcoming services that are part of the claim.

Ok, so now that you know that myself and our company is split down the middle with the usage of the Assignment of benefits, here’s what changes you need to be aware of, according to the Restoration Association of Florida…

Changes to Florida’s Assignment of Benefits (AOB) for Property Claims:

  • $3,000 or 1% of coverage A: Cap on emergency repairs

  • Allows for 14 day rescission period of AOB.

  • Allows for policies to be sold that do not allow an assignment, at a lower cost.

  • Provides that you must turn in your AOB within 3 days with a detailed estimate of costs.

  • Lastly, the attorney fee structure has been amended, no longer allowing Restoration contractors the ability to recoup attorney’s fees.

Overall, I don’t think there are very many contractors, consumers or insurance professionals out there that would disagree that the AOB required some level of reform - but this extent of revision will certainly change the way in which the contractor and consumer work together. There will no longer be a simple “sign and move forward” process. More discussions will have to be had relating to proposed services, following water and mold damage. While not necessarily a bad thing, homeowners will need to understand that contractors now have their hands tied the second an estimate reaches the $3,000 mark with emergency services. Financial plans on how to handle the workload beyond this point will be a topic of interest for both the contractor and consumer

Assignment of Benefits (AOB) Sources:

Division of Consumer Services:

Restoration Association of Florida:

Mold Contamination During The New Construction Phase

With South Florida’s climate, it’s no wonder that mold will bloom at the first sight of moisture. Over the past year, I’ve had the luxury of working closely with one of my builder colleagues. It was at one of his properties that I witnessed first-hand a rapid humidity bloom (mold growth developing on surfaces as a result of excess moisture within the air). I’m talking overnight blooming of microbial growth along the entire bottom of walls within a part of the home that was not well ventilated.

So, what does this tell us about mold development within new construction homes? Well, for starters, better ventilation and even air movement is needed in some areas of these newly built properties. Also, it was no surprise to me that self leveling concrete was recently poured in the home - adding excess moisture to the air, as the concrete evaporated the water content. If creating air movement proves to be a difficult task during the construction phase, it’s certainly worthwhile to entertain the thought of operating dehumidifiers within areas reading higher humidity.

Not only does our company offer consulting services during the construction phase of properties, but we are also an advocate for widespread of valuable information. This blog post is one way in which I personally work to spread information on how we as professionals can minimize, and possibly eliminate the potential for mold and moisture hazards within new construction homes.

Here are a couple of pointers to recap for our builder friends:

  • Allow for ample ventilation or air movement to all larger areas of a property.

  • If there are no pedestrian doors to the outside and windows are fixed pane, consider implementing a dehumidifier in these areas of a property.

  • Ensure that functional doors and windows without overhead coverings are closed, or only left open slightly when no one is on-site. We all know how Florida can go from Sunny to monsoon in a matter of minutes!

  • Monitor humidity during the construction phase - picking up an inexpensive hygrometer could be the difference between catching the conditions promoting mold growth before it even happens.

  • Work with a remediation consultant that you can trust. After all, not all of us are monetarily driven. Some of us are fueled on passion alone! My team and I additionally offer managed solutions for moisture oversight within pre and post construction properties. Shoot us a message for more information!

Is Mold Testing Before Remediation Services Needed?

Short answer - no, but don’t jump to conclusions just yet. First, there is a major difference between merely collecting mold samples (testing) and performing a mold assessment. When it comes to mold testing, often times air and/ or surface samples are collected by and indoor environmental professional (IEP) and submitted to a laboratory. The results of these samples are then passed on to the property occupants.

When it comes to a mold assessment, much more of an investigation is performed. Using a combination of the olfactory system, flashlight, hygrometer, moisture meters, thermal imaging camera, air quality particle counters, a borescope and good ole’ experience - a hypothesis can be rendered on what is occurring within a property, and a conclusion made. During a mold assessment, collecting mold samples (testing) is often performed. Pairing these samples with other information collected, such as particulate counts, an IEP now possesses objective data to either support or counter their hypothesis. After all, a mold assessment is made up of objective and subjective data - further distinguishing itself from simple mold testing.

Mold Assessment vs. Mold Testing Wrap-up

So, what does this all mean? Well, if you’re simply looking for a laboratory sheet discussing quantities of mold, with intentions on comparing pre-remediation results to post-remediation results - save your time and money; it’s just not needed! However, if you’d like to stand the best chance at successfully remediating a property on the first try, a pre-remediation mold assessment is highly recommended. An IEP and a remediation contractor working together to develop an accurate scope of work is something magical to see in this industry.

Mold Restoration Companies in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

So, I’m often asked why mold remediation and removal services within the South Florida area, specifically Fort Lauderdale and Miami, are so different than those in other areas. Well, for starters, South Florida has a much different climate - compared to other cities and states within the US. Beyond that, it’s definitely fair to say that this region of the United States is the Wild West - when it comes to restoration services.

So, what do I mean by calling this area the Wild West? It’s simple! This area is heavily saturated with remediation and restoration professionals, and as a result, there are so many varying approaches to removing and treating mold. While there are a number of approaches, one thing remains the same: The ANSI/IICRC (Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification)’s S520-2015 Standard for Professional Mold Remediation is still the standard in which mold remediation professionals must abide by. While this standard does allow for professionals to deviate at times, it also makes note that these deviations need to be performed in a manner of which is in the best interest of all parties.

For more information pertaining to our standards as mold remediation contractors, as well as locating a certified professional, please head on over to the institutions page:

To learn more about our mold remediation services within the Ft. Lauderdale area, head on over to our local city page:

Addressing Mold in Homes With CIRS Patients

If you have CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome), or know someone who does, you understand first-hand the struggles that come along with it. Chronic fatigue, sensitivities to odors, cloudiness, and numerous other symptoms that could very easily fill a full paragraph here! What was once an unknown illness, in which many individuals were misdiagnosed, is now something that is not only known, but now better understood and being treated by a number of doctors.

Within the South Florida area alone, there are doctors treating CIRS patients from West Palm Beach to Broward and down into the Miami area. While there are more and more doctors/ physicians treating CIRS and similar chronic illnesses, there is still a shortage of remediation contractors to assist with the treatment process. What exactly is the treatment process? Well, it varies from doctor to doctor, however, one recommendation remains the same - a patient must live within a healthier environment. Acquiring a healthy home can range from seeking professional remediation to achieve this level of cleanliness, but may sometimes require moving to an entirely new property.

When it comes to remediation efforts in properties with chronically ill individuals, a traditional mold remediation service simply will not do. Small Particle Remediation, which is what patients with CIRS, Lyme disease and even severe cases of asthma often need, differs from the more common remediation service. For starters, products containing chemicals are not used during the cleaning process. Air-filtration devices, equipped with HEPA filters are utilized more closely to the water damaged areas, allowing for local exhaust - ultimately limited the spread of smaller particles during the demolition process.

The biggest difference between traditional remediation and small particle remediation is the meticulous cleaning process as the final step. Surfaces must be cleaned numerous times, ensuring that no visible debris transfers to the cleaning cloths being used. Due to the inhalation potential of such small fragments, it’s imperative that an environment be cleaned to the point where no visible dust remains. The best way to think of small particle remediation is the removal of dust and other fine particles - which of course may contain fragments of mold and other symptom-triggering allergens.

New Look, Same Great Service! Our New Website and Blog.

Being that it’s 2019, we felt that our website should match the caliber of our service. Over the past 30 days, the entire staff here at Discreet have contributed in one way or another, bring updated imagery and content to our revamped website. With an easier navigation and more responsive website, moving from one page to the next will be a breeze!

Looking for immediate answers to questions about indoor environmental services, but don’t feel like picking up the phone, no problem! Our new website has built-in chat functionality, allowing for visitors to chat live with one of our professionals from 8am to 8pm EST.

From all of us here at the Discreet Team, we welcome you to our new site. Please don’t hesitate to drop us an email if there’s anything that we can improve upon.

Best Wishes!