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.
Gaps and cracks in the attic are an unavoidable part of homeownership. Fortunately, we can solve these... Watch Video »
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.
Recently, we went on a service a call in Bayville, NJ for a homeowner who was complaining of an excessive amount of moisture in his crawl space. Excessive moisture in your crawl space can have a major impact on your family’s health. In fact, 40% of the air in your home comes up through the crawl space — which means that moisture and mold can seep into your home, where you're breathing it in.
Once we arrived at the property, we equipped our personal protective equipment (PPE) and began our inspection. After surveying the crawl space, we noticed that the homeowner had a dirt floor crawl space and that his home was located right on the bay. Dirt floor crawl spaces attract and absorb moisture. When the dirt dries, it causes humidity levels to rise in your home. After a thorough inspection, we determined that this was the cause of the moisture build-up in the crawl space.
The best treatment method to remove the moisture is to encapsulate the crawl space. First, we installed a vapor barrier. A vapor barrier is a super-durable, 20-mil 7-ply plastic sheet material made up of high and low-density polyethylene with polyester-cord reinforcement. The vapor barrier resists the passage of air and by stopping air movement from the ground, it can also turn your crawl space into a semi-conditioned space. Next, we removed the existing fiberglass insulation and replaced it with encapsulated comfort thermal insulation. Then, we installed a smart pump with a battery back up and auxiliary pump to remove any groundwater underneath the liner.
Finally, in order to prevent mold growth, we installed a SaniDry XP commercial dehumidifier. These machines are specifically designed and manufactured for the challenging environments of basements and crawl spaces. 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.
Now, the moisture in the crawl space is greatly reduced, helping prevent mold growth.
A couple in Manalapan, NJ had a major issue with foxes living underneath their deck. We were sent out, inspected the entire area, and set-up our devices to safely retrieve the fox family. Shortly after setting up trapping, the foxes were safely retrieved and we relocated them to a new, humane location.
Although the foxes were safely removed, that was only half the battle. The deck area was still vulnerable for future intrusions from foxes and other nuisance wildlife.
To fix this, we dug a trench around the entire perimeter of the deck area that was 1 ft deep and 1 ft out from the bottom of the deck and then installed hardware cloth. This creates a sturdy "L shaped" perimeter that the foxes (and other nuisance wildlife) are unable to dig through.
Once we finished installing the hardware cloth, we installed lattice around the entire perimeter of the deck. Now the deck is not only protected from future intrusions from any nuisance wildlife, but it looks aesthetically pleasing as well.
Recently, this homeowner in Freehold, NJ had a severe issue with bats in his attic. Fortunately, our Wildlife Division safely removed all the bats out of the attic and then excluded the area to prevent future intrusions from not just bats, but all nuisance wildlife and birds as well. Unfortunately, there was a bigger issue that needed to be addressed.
The insulation throughout the attic was saturated with bat guano and needed to be removed ASAP. If not, there are several health concerns that could arise from the bat droppings, such as Histoplasmosis. Histoplasmosis is a disease that primarily affects the lungs and can be life-threatening, particularly to those with a weakened immune system. It is transmitted when a person inhales spores from the fungus that grows on bat droppings.
First, we carefully disposed of all the contaminated insulation and disinfected the entire attic. Next, we added approximately 12 inches of blown-in Tru-Soft Cellulose attic insulation. The cellulose insulation creates a thermal barrier to help keep the home more comfortable and energy-efficient and the cellulose insulation will fill the attic to the recommended insulation levels.
Now, not only is the attic disinfected and the bats are removed, but now, because of the cellulose insulation, the homeowner will save a lot of money on his energy bill.
Previously, we conducted a thorough inspection of a homeowners attic in Howell, NJ and reached the conclusion that it was under-insulated. We brought this to the homeowner's attention and, after thinking about for a little while, wanted Cowleys to add cellulose blown-in insulation in his attic.
Blown-in cellulose insulation is used to fill the attic to the recommended insulation levels. The blanket of insulation will create a thermal barrier and help keep the home more comfortable and efficient. Cellulose also has higher R-value than other insulation and instantly improves home energy performance. Our cellulose insulation is treated with non-toxic borate, giving it the highest Class-1 fire safety rating and creating incredible resistance to mold and pests. Not only does cellulose insulation efficiently optimize energy-usage, but it is made primarily from recycled newspaper, making it the perfect choice for environmentally conscious property owners.
Once we arrived, we re-inspected the attic and then began adding approximately 10 inches of blown-in cellulose insulation. Now the home has an extra layer of insulation to prevent against heat loss.
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.
Recently, we went on a service call for a homeowner in Point Pleasant Beach NJ, who was having an issue with birds getting into his home. As we inspected the exterior of the home to find the birds’ point of access, we came across a damaged plastic exhaust vent. As we took a closer look, a Starling peak his head out of the dryer vent and flew off!
Starlings are stocky black birds with short tails, triangular wings, and long, pointed bills. They nest in holes and cavities and often use holes in buildings — primarily dryer vents. Sterlings will exploit a vent opening to build a nest inside the home. Damaged exhaust vents not only allow birds and other critters to gain access to your home but also allow moisture to come in, which can lead to mold and mildew problems.
First, we thoroughly inspected the entire interior and exterior of the home to find any other nesting areas, to which we didn’t find. Next, we spoke with the homeowner regarding the dryer vent and mentioned that it needs to be replaced. He agreed and immediately scheduled an appointment with a contractor. Then, we sanitized and deodorized the vent with a solution that targets bird mites. Bird mites are tiny, semi-transparent parasites that feed on the blood of birds. When birds leave their nests, the mites are left behind without a suitable host for their next blood meal. They will enter a home and feed on the blood of humans. Bird mites are the main reason why extreme care is needed when removing a nest.
After removing all remnants of bird activity, as a temporary solution, we secured hardware cloth on the inside of the vent to prevent any more birds from attempting to access that area. Now the homeowner will no longer worry about annoying birds gaining access into his home.
A new customer in Spring Lake, NJ thought that the insulation in his attic had mold on it, so he called our office to inspect further. After a thorough inspection, we didn't find any signs of mold nor any conducive conditions that could potentially lead to mold growth (the insulation was just old and filthy). However, we did notice that the attic was severely under-insulate, which can lead to costly utility bills and fluctuating temperatures throughout the home. After bringing this to the owners attention, he wanted us to insulate the attic.
When it comes it attic insulation, blown-in cellulose is the best. Blown-in cellulose insulation is used to fill the attic to the recommended insulation levels and this blanket of insulation will create a thermal barrier and help keep the home more comfortable and efficient. Cellulose also has higher R-value than other insulation and is treated with non-toxic borate, giving it the highest Class-1 fire safety rating and creating incredible resistance to mold and pests.
Once we arrived, we re-inspected the attic, removed the old insulation, and then added 10 inches of blown-in cellulose insulation. The result will be a much more efficient and comfortable home!
After our Wildlife Division had safely removed and humanely relocated a family of raccoons in this homeowner's attic in Spring Lake, NJ, we were sent out to remove all the contaminated insulation and reinsulate the attic.
Unfortunately, the family of raccoons had been present in the attic for quite some time and the insulation was badly damaged and soiled with urine and raccoon feces. When it comes to wildlife in the attic, removal, and exclusion only fix half the problem. Damaged insulation can lead to health concerns, wasted money in higher heating/cooling costs, and hazardous conditions such as damaged ductwork and potential fire hazards.
After equipping our personal protective equipment we carefully removed all the contaminated insulation. Next, we disinfected the entire attic and added approximately 12 inches of blown-in TruSoft cellulose insulation. TruSoft cellulose insulation not only creates a thermal barrier and helps keep the home more comfortable and energy-efficient, but has a higher R-value than standard fiberglass batts and is treated with non-toxic borate, giving it the highest Class-1 fire safety rating and creating an incredible resistance to mold and pests.
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.
Homes that were built with dirt floor crawl space foundations became very popular after World War II when there was a huge demand for new and more affordable homes. Crawl spaces could be built faster and much cheaper than basements. However, no one could foresee the major issues that dirt floor crawl spaces can have on a home. For instance, this homeowner in Avon-by-the-Sea, NJ was experiencing incredibly high humidity levels and abundant moisture buildup in his crawl space. If left untreated any longer, this could lead to mold and mildew growth and structural damage. Fortunately, the homeowner decided to have Cowleys encapsulate his crawl space.
The benefits of crawl space encapsulation are dramatic. Relative humidity will stay below 70% even if the outdoor humidity is higher. You’ll save on your utility bills, have better air quality in the crawl space, and not only keep out moisture, but also keep out unwanted pests!
First, we cleared out all the debris and installed a drainage matting. A drainage matting is a dimpled plastic mat that allows water to work its way over to the sump pump. Next, we replaced the old, broken sump pump with a smart drain sump pump to allow any water that gets on top of the liner to flow down underneath the ground.
Then, we installed a clean space liner covering the ground of the entire crawl space. A clean space liner is a super-durable, 20mil plastic sheet material designed to permanently prevent moisture, outside air, and pests from getting into your crawl space. The vapor barrier is installed over the foundation walls and floor to create a continuous air and moisture barrier. Finally, to control the humidity levels we installed a Sani-Dry dehumidifier. These machines are 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 directs the extracted water pulled out of the air directly into the sump pump.
Now the humidity levels will be at a comfortable level, the value of the home has increased, and there will be no more moisture buildup in the crawl space.
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.
After we inspected this homeowner's attic in Red Bank, NJ, we came to the conclusion that it was severely under-insulated. After bringing this to the homeowner's attention he wanted us to add blown-in cellulose insulation to his attic.
Some of the consequences of having an under-insulated attic are uncomfortable temperatures throughout the home, a lower R-value, and high heating and cooling costs. Adding blown-in cellulose insulation is a great way to improve the R-value in your attic, improve the home's energy performance, and upgrade your attic insulation. Our cellulose insulation is treated with non-toxic borate, giving it the highest Class-1 fire safety rating and is resistant to mold and pests.
Once we arrived we first needed to remove the current insulation and then sanitize and deodorize the attic. Once that was done we began to add in the blown-in cellulose insulation. This blanket of insulation will create a thermal barrier and dramatically increase the home's energy efficiency
A new residential client in Highland, NJ contacted Cowleys after hearing birds chirping in his attic. We went out, inspected the attic and found starlings, their nesting debris, and droppings all over the insulation.
Starlings are an invasive species and have a negative impact on the US economy and ecosystem. They are stocky black birds with short tails, triangular wings, and long, pointed bills. They nest in holes and cavities and often exploit openings in buildings to build a nest inside the home. So how did they invade this home? Well, after a thorough inspection of the exterior we discovered that the home had a builders gap.
A builders gap is a gap between the fascia board (where the gutter is hung) and roof decking. This gap is caused when roof decking is stopped too short and is not flushed with the fascia. The gap is meant to help with airflow throughout the attic but also is a perfect place for nuisance birds and wildlife to enter your home. Because the roof shingles only cover the gap, birds and nuisance wildlife can wiggle under the shingles and slip right in — which is exactly what the starlings did!
First, we carefully removed all the nesting debris and the contaminated insulation and disinfected the entire attic. Next, we installed over 150 feet of Pest Blok Metal Roof Edge Cap to close the builders' gap. This material is constructed out sturdy sheet metal with a silicone protected polyester coating that will protect the area against a variety of nuisance birds and wildlife.