Antonio, a Freehold resident, is part of our construction/home improvement crew, which includes crawl space encapsulation, attic insulation, mold removal, wildlife clean-up and repair, and variety of other home improvement services. Although Antonio joined us full-time in 2019, he is a “known quantity” at Cowleys. He’s been working with us seasonally in our Christmas Décor division over the past three years, and has proven himself to be a reliable and conscientious team player.
We’re so pleased that Antonio is joining us year-round (although it did take us giving him quite a few not-so-subtle hints!). You could not ask for a harder worker. He is always ready to get “down and dirty” to make sure the job is done right. Antonio stays in great shape, has no fear of heights, and is also comfortable working in tight challenging areas like dark, damp, spider-infested crawl spaces. To him, anything new is another challenge to conquer.
Antonio loves working outdoors, no matter whether it’s freezing cold, wickedly hot, or raining, snowing, or sleeting. During the rest of the year, Antonio had worked at a local golf course as a jack-of-all-trades. He’s an experienced handyman having installed and removed insulation, and has done sheetrock and roofing work. All of these skills will necessary when dealing with the aftermath of wildlife infestations. Antonio is looking forward to working with Cowleys year-round and acquiring new skills. As a fast learner with a strong mechanical aptitude, along with an amazing can-do attitude, Antonio is a welcomed addition to the Cowleys team.
In his spare time, Antonio enjoys spending time with his family, especially taking his son to a nearby park playground. If anyone needs an expert playground swing pusher, Antonio is the one to call! For his own quiet time and to “decompress” at the end of the day, he enjoys listening to music, which he describes as his passion.
Recently, we were contacted by homeowners in Millstone Township, NJ who decided to have a dehumidifier installed in their basement as a permanent long-term solution to their chronic humidity problem. High moisture environments in crawl spaces and basements invites mold, insects, and even structural damage to the home.
The readings on our hygrometer, which measures the humidity (amount of water vapor) in the air, confirmed that this basement had an unacceptably high level of humidity. Homes require an acceptable range of humidity for our comfort and health, and air that is too dry or too wet can be the source of problems for a home’s occupants. Our homes are most comfortable at humidity levels between 30 - 50%. Almost always, the problem with basements and crawl spaces Is too much humidity. High humidity levels can cause condensation on windows, wet stains on walls and ceilings, musty odors, and over extended periods of time, wood rot and structural damage. humidity levels rise above 55%, a home is ripe for mold growth. Mold spores attach to wet or damp surfaces, consuming whatever organic material that it grows upon.
Based on the size (cubic volume) of the basement and its humidity level, we recommended a SaniDry XP commercial dehumidifier. We only install SaniDry commercial-grade dehumidifiers. These machines are specifically designed and manufactured for the challenging environments of basements and crawl spaces. Generic residential dehumidifiers simply aren’t up to the job. For example, the SaniDry XP is a powerful energy-efficient dehumidifier that outperforms standard household dehumidifiers by as much as 10 times while using the same amount of energy to run. The SaniDry XP can effectively cover indoor living spaces over 3000 square feet, making it well-suited for basements and crawl spaces over 40” high.
The most important difference between a residential dehumidifier and a SaniDry commercial dehumidifier is its ease of use and automatic operation. A residential dehumidifier requires human intervention to empty the pan of collected dehumidified water. If not timely emptied the pan will overflow and the machine usually huts off once the flow bucket is full. Our commercial dehumidifiers direct the extracted water pulled out of the air into either a sump pump or, if a sump pump isn’t present, a small condensation pump that pumps the water through a 1/2” condensate hose that runs to the outside of the basement. For this installation, we needed to drill a 1/2” hole through the foundation wall to run the hose outside. The installation went off without a hitch. Now, this basement will no longer have chronic humidity issues. The home will be more comfortable and the risk of dangerous mold growth has been removed.
April showers bring May flowers, including heavy rains into crawl spaces! Recently, we received a call from a homeowner in Farmingdale, NJ who had an issue with their crawl space. During heavy rainfall, their crawl space kept getting flooded and the sump pump wasn’t working properly. Not having a clean crawl space can have a major impact on your family’s health in so many ways. In fact, 40% of the air in your home comes up through the crawl space. This means that moisture, mold, dust, and pathogens can seep into your home, where you're breathing it in. Asthma or allergy symptoms could be a response to this. Once we arrived at the property, we put on our Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), full-face respirator masks and began our inspection. After thoroughly inspecting the crawl space, we discussed with the homeowners what they needed. A crawl space encapsulation.
Crawl space encapsulation eliminates moisture, prevents damage from moisture, keeps unwanted critters out, and saves you money on your utility bill. First, we removed all the debris out of the crawl space. Then we laid down drainage matting which will allow any water to work its way over to the sump pump. Once that was done we dug a hole to remove the old sump pump and installed the new sump pump. Then we filled the outside of the hole with stones to allow water to make its way into the sump pump. Finally, we lined the entire crawl space with a vapor barrier liner. The vapor barrier is a 20-mil 7-ply sandwich of high-and low-density polyethylene with a polyester-cord reinforcement. It's also treated with an antimicrobial finish that protects against mold and mildew growth. This vapor barrier is made-to-take-a-beating and is puncture and tear resistant. Now the homeowner will no longer worry about their crawl space getting flooded.
Recently, our crawl space specialists completed an upgrade for a home in Point Pleasant, NJ. The homeowner thought that after a recent heavy rainstorm he better check his crawl space for water. It was a good thing he did. The crawl space had stagnant water along with high humidity levels. He was concerned, and rightly so, that mold could develop. Moisture build-up in crawl spaces creates an ideal environment for mold growth. When hidden mold forms in the non-living spaces of homes like crawl spaces, basements, and attics, airborne spores circulate throughout the entire home adversely affecting air quality for the home’s occupants, and those sensitive to mold can develop respiratory issues. Excess moisture can lead to structural damage, including wood rot wood and rusted metal, and is also an attractant for insects and wildlife. Mosquitoes, for instance, breed in standing water.
Prior to entering the crawl space, we donned our personal protective equipment. Mold is a bio-hazard in enclosed spaces and proper safety precautions must always be used. With gloves, masks, and goggles in place, we began a thorough inspection of the crawl space. There were multiple water puddles throughout the crawl space, so the area was ripe for mold growth. However, after inspecting every nook and cranny of the crawl space, we couldn’t find any mold growth that had yet taken hold.
Continuing our inspection, we concluded that the moisture was coming up right through the dirt floor soil. Soil is a porous medium that acts like a sponge. About half its volume is air space and the other half is mineral and organic. It can soak up a large amount of water from above and below. Different soils have different water-holding capacities based on its porousness up to its point of saturation when all its pores are full. After rainfall, soil soaks up water, and once the soil is saturated, it will form surface puddles along with moisture and humidity. Although it was a good sign that there was not yet any mold growth in the crawl space, with this level of moisture build-up, it was only a matter of time before mold would form. This was a case where a homeowner had the foresight to realize there was a potential problem and contacted us early on. Usually, we are contacted after mold has already formed.
It was time for us to upgrade the crawl space. For this job, the homeowner requested that we install a vapor barrier. But not any vapor barrier. Many of the vapor barriers installed are no better than contractor bags. We use super-durable, 20-mil 7-ply plastic sheet material made up of high and low-density polyethylene with polyester-cord reinforcement. These barriers are as tough as nails and can be walked on without fear of tearing. We placed the vapor barrier on the dirt floor crawl space and anchored it directly into the wall. This barrier will deter moisture from entering the crawl space. A dry crawl space prevents mold growth and other water-related problems.
This job was a great example of a homeowner taking a proactive approach to prevent mold and mildew growth. Crawl spaces are notorious trouble spots for homeowners. It’s far better to identify and fix crawl space water and moisture problems before mold takes hold.
A homeowner in Belmar, NJ, who was in the process of building his dream home, decided to invest in a dehumidifier for his basement, and he contacted us. Cowleys has a contractor division with an experienced crew that installs and services SaniDry dehumidifiers. These commercial-grade dehumidifiers that are specifically engineered for the challenging environments of crawl spaces and basements, and we limit our line to these workhorse machines. In these sub-grade areas of homes, chronic humidity is a problem, especially with our hot and muggy New Jersey summers.
Dehumidification is the only effective long-term solution to remove excess moisture in the air. High indoor humidity levels are responsible for a host of problems for including mold growth, a favorable environment for insects, wood rot and other structural damage. Also, dehumidifiers improve the liveability of a home. They help eliminate musty odors that can waft into the living areas of the home and dramatically improve indoor air quality by removing airborne mold spores and other allergens, helping relieve allergy and other lung and respiratory symptoms. After inspecting the homeowner's basement, and based on the size (cubic volume) of the basement, we recommended a SaniDry XP commercial dehumidifier.
You may be thinking why not go with a residential dehumidifier? Can there really be that much of a difference between these commercial-grade dehumidifiers and the generic residential ones? The short answer is that there is no comparison. As many homeowners find out the hard way, the generic dehumidifiers sold in hardware stores simply aren’t up to the job. For example, the SaniDry XP that we installed for this homeowner is a powerful energy-efficient dehumidifier that outperforms standard household dehumidifiers by as much as 10 times -- while using the same amount of energy to run! The SaniDry XP can effectively cover indoor living spaces over 3000 square feet, making it well-suited for basements and crawl spaces over 40” high.
The key difference between a residential dehumidifier and a SaniDry commercial dehumidifier is its ease of use and automatic operation. A residential dehumidifier requires human intervention to empty the pan of collected dehumidified water. If not timely emptied, the pan overflows, and usually, the machine shuts off once the flow bucket is full. Our commercial dehumidifiers direct the extracted water pulled out of the air into either a sump pump or, if a sump pump isn’t present, a condensation pump that pumps the water through a condensate hose to the outside of the basement. These machines work 24/7 year-round automatically.
The homeowner was ecstatic to know that he would have clean, dry air circulating throughout his home and the reduced humidity levels in his basement would prevent mold growth. For him, this dehumidifier was an investment that protected both his home and his family’s health.
Recently, a two-man home repair crew went out on a service call to a home in Red Bank, NJ, to repair a wall that had been severely damaged from a termite infestation. Although the home was treated after termites were discovered, as often happens, there was already damage from these wood-devouring insects. The drywall around a window in his living room had to be completely removed and replaced.
Prior to starting our repair work, we first inspected the entire interior and exterior of the property before beginning my repairs. Even though a termite treatment was recently done, we wanted to be 100% positive that there was no more active termite activity in the home. After ensuring the home was free of termites, we began the repairs.
First, we needed to remove all of the damaged wood, insulation, and drywall. The good news from all this was that it could have been worse. Fortunately, the termite damage was limited to this one section of his home. Next, after cleaning the area, we and installed all new pressure-treated wood, replaced the insulation, and installed new drywall. Pressure treating is a preservative process that helps wood withstand the elements and ward off termites, microorganisms and fungal decay. As we were replacing the drywall the homeowner told us that he already scheduled an appointment with a professional painting company to paint and spackle the drywall.
Now, with the repairs done, the wall was as good as new! As you can see, no one would have the slightest inkling that this home once had termite damage.