Nelson, a much welcomed 2017 addition to the Cowleys team, joined our established construction/home improvement crew. He works on a wide variety of projects including repairing the aftermath of destructive wildlife intrusions, crawl space repair, weatherization of homes through TAP insulation, mold treatment, and other home improvement services. Nelson is systematic, analytical, and thorough in his work and thrives on finding solutions to the most complex repair problems. When, at first blush, a home appears to be in shambles and the damage irreparable, Nelson views the situation as an opportunity and a challenge.
Nelson joined Cowleys with a strong background in the construction trades, bringing extensive experience in home repair and improvement to Cowleys. He comes to us with a decade of experience in fire, water, and mold remediation and an unmatched expertise in the clean-up and restoration process that follows potentially catastrophic events. Homeowners facing severe mold issues will benefit by his keen understanding of the processes necessary to make homes and other structures safe and inhabitable once again. Besides his experience in fire, water, and mold restoration, Nelson is a carpenter and framer by trade, so he can handle virtually any home improvement or repair project thrown his way. He also worked for a number of years in installing all types of insulation.
In his spare time, Nelson enjoys working out to keep him fit and injury-free for the physical demands of his job. As a Long Branch resident, he is a stone’s throw away from the beach and takes full advantage of all of the outdoor opportunities available for those of us lucky enough to live at the Jersey Shore. Nelson also enjoys unwinding and relaxing with his good, positive friends, sometimes going out to the movies or some event, and oftentimes just hanging out and enjoying good conservation over a quiet dinner.
To keep the air quality of your home healthy, prevent damage to your attic and roof, and keep your HVAC system running cost-efficiently, it’s important to maintain an air barrier between the living space of the home and the attic. Simply put, everything works better when attic air is kept out of the house and house air is kept out of the attic. Why? Let’s start with keeping attic air where it belongs. If you’ve ever ventured into the attic, especially during the warmer months, you know that attic air can be outright nasty. It often contains dust particles and other contaminants — contaminants that can cause health problems for the home’s occupants. The less attic air that enters your home’s living spaces, the better.
Just as important, we want to keep living space air out of the attic. Living space air can can be filled with water vapor. When that air is exposed to colder attic temperatures, the vapor gas condenses into water droplets that can potentially cause roof rot and mold growth (unfortunately, mold is an all-too-common attic contaminant). Living space air naturally tries to move up into the attic, especially in the winter, because of the “stack effect.” Heated air rises and expands. As air heats up, its molecules are pushed farther away, making it lighter (that’s why hot air balloons float). The air pushes upward against the attic floor. If there is a way for the air to find its way in, it will. Air leakage into the attic stresses your HVAC system, increasing your heating and cooling bills. There are a number of possible sources of air leaks, but attic hatches are at the top of the list. More often than not, attic hatches are unsealed and have gaps that allow for unwanted air movement. There is an easy solution for this: Attic stairway covers.
The homeowner mentioned to us that he was concerned that his attic hatch was causing significant air leakage. We had the perfect product: the Hatchmaster Attic Stairway Cover. This lightweight, durable cover secures around the perimeter of the attic hatch frame. It’s made of double-bubble reflective insulation, has a 15 R-Value, and a heavy-duty zipper to open and close.
Over the years Atlantic City Electric has been having issues with barn swallow flying in and nesting above the I- beams in the loading dock area. When asked by Cowleys pest control company for a solution, we immediately went out to the job site and installed Bird Slope on top of every I- beam. Bird Slope prevents birds from landing and nesting in those areas permanently.
A commercial facility in Egg Harbor Township, NJ, nearby Atlantic City, was having an on-going problem with birds gaining access to a tool storage area of the building. The manager contacted Bird Solutions By Cowleys to resolve this bird infestation once and for all.
Our two-man crew inspected the area to determine how the birds were gaining access. It did not take us long to find the opening. The problem was a gap above an I-beam that gave the birds wide open access. To restrict the bird from further entry, we constructed a bird barrier by closing this space off with hardware cloth. With this access point permanently closed, birds will no longer be able to enter this space and make a mess of things.
This homeowner in Princeton, NJ found herself with bats nesting under the fascia leaving guano (the excrement of birds and bats) deposits all over the deck. Bat guano happens to be an excellent organic fertilizer because of its high nitrogen and phosphorus, but it is also a health hazard. Bat and bird guano can contain numerous pathogens including a fungus that causes histoplasmosis, a serious chronic lung disease, and exposure, Including breathing in these airborne particles, is dangerous for homeowners. Also, bats are major carriers of rabies. Bat infestations need to be removed and professional experienced in excluding bats from nesting in your home should be brought in. This is not a DIY project and you should not be working in a bat-contaminated area without proper protective equipment. For this home, I completely covered the fascia with a metal barrier to keep them from roosting in and between the fascia board.
Recently, a homeowner in Freehold, NJ, found himself with both a bird and squirrel infestation in his attic. It’s more common that you would think having different wildlife infesting a home at the same time. An entry point that’s good enough for one animal is often good enough for others. Our nuisance wildlife technicians had already come in to trap the squirrels. Once all the wildlife was removed, they located and sealed up the entry points that allowed the invading wildlife access to the attic.
Then it was our turn. A two-man crew from the Cowleys contractor division was called in to handle the aftermath of this infestation. Unfortunately, once birds or other wildlife take up residence in the attic, there is often more is involved than the animal eviction and sealing the entry points to prevent a re-infestation. Once inside, these animals often cause a significant amount of property damage. As the squirrels and birds did to this home, they turned the attic into a bona fide health hazard by leaving behind a mess of dangerous waste materials. These droppings can contain all types of disease-transmitting pathogens that can trigger serious chronic respiratory diseases and other health issues. Once animal droppings are dried out or disturbed, waste particles can become airborne, traveling throughout the entire home. “Dirty” air filled with microscopic particles from animal waste (or mold for that matter) deposited in a nonliving areas of the home like attics and crawl spaces circulates everywhere throughout the living areas of the home, endangering the home’s occupants.
Our job was to clean up this mess and make sure that the the attic was made safe and looked as good as new. After an attic wildlife infestation, the insulation is often ruined. Insulation not only acts like a sponge for wildlife waste, but also makes for excellent nesting material. Fist, we safely removed all of the damaged and waste-contaminated insulation from the attic. Next, we thoroughly hepa-vacuumed, sanitized, and deodorized the entire attic. We not only remove the dangerous waste, but just as important, we remove the lingering smells and remnants of the infestation. It is important to wipe out the wildlife scent markers so that more wildlife is not attracted into the home.
Finally, as a licensed installer of TAP Insulation, we replaced the ruined insulation with our own. TAP stands for the three key properties of this insulation: Thermal, Acoustical, and Pest Control. TAP is blown-in cellulose insulation that, unlike fiberglass batts and blankets, blown-in insulation effectively covers every attic corner, nook, and cranny, providing complete insulation coverage. We blew in a full 12’ of TAP. This insulation offers top-notch thermal and acoustical (sound-deadening) properties. Also, this homeowner was pleasantly surprised to learn that TAP insulation, unlike regular insulation, has a pest control component. Its paper fibers are treated with a borate solution that is harmless to people (and wildlife), but lethal to many insects including ants, beetles, and termites. The old batt insulation had an R-value (thermal resistance) of 30. Now, with TAP, the insulation was boosted up to an R-value of 42. With a more energy-efficient attic, this this homeowner will save on future heating and cooling costs.
As you can see from the photos, after completion of this job, the attic looked brand new. Although this wildlife infestation was one big unexpected headache for this homeowner, he appreciated that, when we were done, he was left with a better attic.
These homeowners in Edison, NJ had with a squirrel infestation in their attic. A team from our nuisance wildlife division handled the trapping and relocating of the trespassing critters, and also sealed up their entry point. However, as often happens, the nesting wildlife made a mess of the attic. There were toxic droppings all about. When these droppings dry out or are otherwise disturbed, particles can become airborne and circulate throughout the home. If breathed in, these microscopic spores can trigger serious respiratory diseases. In addition, as often happens, the sponge-like attic insulation becomes contaminated from animal waste.
A two-man crew from Cowleys contractor division was called in to deal with the aftermath. As part of the clean-up, we carefully removed the contaminated insulation, used a powerful HEPA-vacuum to clean up the droppings left behind, and finally sanitized and deodorized the entire attic. After a wildlife infestation, it is essential to remove all signs and indications that there was once wildlife activity in the attic. Otherwise, the attic can become an attractant for insects and other wildlife that pick up on the lingering smells, and if you’ve ever dealt with one of these infestations, those smells are pungent! Also, an attic must be properly cleaned after a wildlife infestation to ensure the health of the home’s occupants.
Finally, after everything was cleaned up, we installed approximately 10” of our blown-in TAP insulation. TAP stands for Thermal, Acoustical, and Pest Control, which are the three key components that make this insulation such a great homeowner investment. This product offers superior thermal and acoustical (sound-deadening) properties. The ten inches of TAP that we installed for this homeowner translates into a 40 R-value, more than enough thermal resistance (insulating power) to deal with the temperature extremes that come with living in New Jersey. Because a higher R-value increases the efficiency of the HVAC system, these homeowners will save on their cooling and heating bills. This insulation offers a pest control component, a benefit not available with most other insulation products. Its paper fibers are treated with a borate solution that is harmless to people, pets, and other animals, but lethal to many insects including ants, beetles, and termites.
I was sent to a home in Belmar, NJ to help a homeowner dealing with a bird infestation. Some birds had decided to use her chimney to nest. Chimneys can be quite popular nesting spots for birds since they resemble high perches in nature. Nuisance birds can cause significant property damage with their acidic droppings. As pretty as birds are from a distance, they happen to be dirty wildlife and are dangerous to have around homes and other structures. Their droppings are toxic and contact with them or even just breathing in their airborne particles can cause serious respiratory diseases.
First, to deal with this bird infestation, I carefully removed any nesting material and debris left behind from the birds in the chimney. I then installed a chimney cap and placed Bird Barrier Optical gel in plastic pucks on top of the chimney, gluing them in place with a silicone adhesive.
Bird control is all about behavior modification. The objective is to create a inhospitable environment, so they move elsewhere. This bird gel is one of my favorite bird deterrents. To us, this product looks like a bland, boring white gel. However, birds look at it much differently. They have far better color vision that us and see a much broader spectrum of colors. To birds, this gel looks like a giant fireball. Birds aren’t the brightest of creatures, but no bird has any interest heading into a raging fire! This big bird illusion is highly effective in keeping them away.
This Belmar homeowner was quite relieved that I had taken care of her bird problem so quickly. Once birds find a good nesting spot, they don’t usually leave on their own. As a bird control specialist, my job is to determine the best “incentives” for that property to get the birds to vacate on their own. Now, with the chimney cap and optical gel, these birds will be relocating to a friendlier location.
Recently, a homeowner in Lincroft NJ, contacted Cowleys because of raccoon activity in the upper dormer area of the home. Raccoon weight can vary considerably with habitat, but they generally weigh around 20 pounds, making them one of the largest nuisance wildlife that we deal with on a regular basis. These nocturnal animals are extremely intelligent, resourceful, great climbers, and with their human-like five-finger forepaws, they are amazingly dexterous. A determined raccoon will find a way to get into your attic, especially when the female is looking for a quiet, private nesting area to give birth to her kits. Raccoons, especially protective moms, are territorial and can be vicious when confronted. They are also the major rabies vector in New Jersey.
With nuisance wildlife infestations, we always determine how the critters are gaining access into the home. Because of the size of raccoons, their entry point is generally pretty obvious. Here, the raccoon was entering through the fascia area right below the roofline. Fascia boards are often exploited by wildlife because they are often weakened from water damage from the roof and gutters, and the outdoor elements. Raccoons can easily tear through these materials to gain access to the attic.
After ensuring that there were no pups inside the home, we set up traps and repaired the damaged fascia by framing in the hollowed-out area and then installing new fascia material. When we were done, the home looked as good as new!
The property manager of a professional services building in Ocean Township, NJ, observed turkey vultures landing on the peak of the roof. The primary nuisance birds in New Jersey are pigeons, house sparrows, starlings, and seagulls. However, every so often, residences and commercial buildings are used as nesting and roosting spots by other bird species, including vultures!
Many are surprised to learn that there are vultures in New Jersey. We are home to two vultures species, turkey vultures and black vultures. Turkey vultures, whose bald red head and dark plumage resembles wild turkeys, are historic residents of the state. Black vultures are a more recent arrival. Vultures are nature’s clean-up crew that help our ecosystem by feeding on dead, decomposing animal carcasses (carrion). The reduce the risk of disease and contamination from rotting animals. If our road maintenance crews don’t quickly remove roadkill left behind on our busy New Jersey roadways, these birds are happy to take over. How can vultures eat decomposing, even diseased, flesh and organs without getting sick? They have highly acidic stomach acids that kills any pathogens. These acids are also their primary defense mechanism. If threatened, vultures will regurgitate its rancid stomach acids, not to mention its stomach contents, onto an intruder. Most intruders, once covered with vulture vomit, tend to rethink their plans.
Vultures are a protected migratory bird species, as are most birds. The objective with bird control is to make your property inhospitable to birds using deterrents, so they change their behavior and move elsewhere. They types of deterrents depend on the type of bird infestation and the specifics of the property. There is no one-size-fits-all single bird solution.
For this particular bird job, we installed 80 feet of shock track along the entire peak of the roof. These tracks gives off a low-volt shock should a bird attempt to land. It does not harm them in any way, but it does send a clear message to seek another area to rest. Even for birds, that aren’t the brightest, it does not take too many negative reinforcements for them to realize that they are no longer welcomed here.
Needless to say, the property manager was quite pleased for these birds to be gone. Most of the businesses operating here are for professional medical services. The last thing anyone wants to see when visiting their doctor or dentist is seeing large birds hovering overhead that are, literally, waiting for death. With the shock tracks in place, these unattractive birds will no longer be taking up residence on the roof, making a mess from their droppings and making visitors uncomfortable.
The homeowner in Red Bank, NJ, contacted Cowleys because he was concerned about his crawl space access, which was wide open. Cowleys has a contractor division that specializes, among other things, in crawl space improvements. Vented crawl spaces are often a source of many homeowner issues.
These chronically humid below-grade spaces often develop mold, and their environment attracts insects, mice, and wildlife. This homeowner was motivated to fix this opening because he has young kids who play around the house, especially now that spring is here and temperatures have warmed up. He was justifiably concerned that their curiosity may get the best of them and they could accidentally fall in the entry hole. A dangerous situation, to be sure. Candidly, upon arrival, when we first saw the opening, we were surprised that nuisance wildlife had not yet exploited this opening. There was a high likelihood, even if the homeowner was not aware of it, that overwintering mice had vacationed in the crawl space.
We had the perfect solution for this particular type of crawl space access — The Turtl. It’s not what you think. We didn’t block the crawl space entry hole with a giant snapping turtle! This particular “turtl” is the brand name of a solid PVC vinyl weatherproof crawl space door and entry system that eliminates the need for a crawl space door and access pit in one fell swoop.
Crawl space entry doors made of wood or steel can weaken over time through rot or rust leading to unwanted water intrusions, mold, and insect an wildlife infestations. The Turtl crawl space entry, with its locking lid, provides a tough attractive entry system that protects your crawl space from the harsh outdoor elements and keeps out insects, wildlife, and even little kids looking for trouble! The Turl crawl space access attaches directly to the foundation so it can’t shift or move. Also, it is manufactured using a rotational molding process, as are many chemical and fuel tanks, so it is seamless and can’t split. As you can see from the before and after photos, the Turtl turned an unattractive and potentially dangerous crawl space hole into a safe, protective crawl space entry system.
These homeowners in Atlantic Highlands, NJ, were having problems with squirrels “squirreling” their way into their attic. They were tired of dealing with these periodic squirrel infestations into their home, and contacted Cowleys in the hopes of finding a long-term solution. We had the perfect answer for them!
Our contractor division installed CritterProof, a critter protection product manufactured by Leaf Supreme, a leading designer of gutter protection systems. CritterProof is specifically designed to cover the fascia gap and exclude various wildlife that often makes their way onto the roof and into the attic. The most common “attic invaders” that we see time and time again here in New Jersey are squirrels, raccoons, and bats. Mice also find their way into the attic, but usually they first enter the home through the basement or crawl space.
CritterProof is a protective system that stops wildlife from chewing and clawing their way through the delicate fascia boards to gain access to the soffit area and, ultimately, where the attic. For wildlife, attics are the perfect refuge to escape the harsh outdoor elements and they make for a wonderful nesting area to care for their young. After all, attics are warm, quiet, private, and free from the preying eyes of predators.
A home’s soffit/fascia area is one of the more common routes we see for wildlife to gain entry. CritterProof’s unique adjustable design provides custom coverage of the fascia gap while still maintaining critical attic ventilation. CritterProof is available in black, white, and other colors by special order.