Mermin inspections Blog

Archive for May, 2009

From The Inspector: Jacob Mermin CHI/CMI

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Chinese Drywall Update.

I was out to the River Hall development near Alva, Fl. again last week. I was asked by one of the residents to do the $99.00 visual inspection that I am advertising on my website and other outlets. My client wanted to know where they stood. This home is a second residence and occupied several times of the year. A second air conditioning evaporator coil was replaced one day before my arrival. I requested that my client ask the air conditioning company to leave the coil so that I could include it in my inspection and investigation. Unfortunately the a/c company said they couldn’t do that as it was to be sent to the manufacturer for warranty. Couldn’t postpone that one day, go figure. I asked if my client could do part of my job by taking pictures of the contaminated evaporator coil before it was taken away.



As you can see in this picture the old evaporator coil with it’s blackened copper tubing is in stark contrast to the new shinny copper tubing of the new evaporator coil. This is definate evidence that this home maybe suffering from the effects of the chemicals associated with   Chinese Drywall.



My visual investigation continued by inspecting several electrical outlets and switch plates. As you can see in this picture there is a wire that is connected to a ground screw on the left side of the electrical outlet. I found several electrical outlets that had this blackened copper ground wire.




All types of plumbing fixtures are a good area to find if there is visual evidence of the effects of the chemicals associate with Chinese Drywall. As you can see with this sink plug it is very corroded and pitted. Stainless steel or chrome are very effected and visual evidence is usually easy to see. Your darker bronze type fixtures are the most difficult to see.



This matching faucet in the same guest bathroom is also effected by the chemicals that are associated with Chinese drywall.






In this close up picture of the home’s dryer electrical plug you can see that the brass elements are just starting to turn black. On several occasions I have seen the brass elements of the common dryer plug become completely black in color with no sign of that shinny copper color. This dryer plug may eventually fail due to Chinese Drywall.


 In this Chinese Drywall update I have given a few examples of the evidence that I have found during my many inspections. There are plenty of other household locations that can be effected by the chemicals associated with Chinese Drywall. These include mirrors, refrigerators, freezers, and main panel electrical breaker boxes that are found inside condominiums instead of the garage. These are usually in the laundry room and can be a major problem if the copper wire is effected.

Again the latest developement is the River Hall community on State Road 80 near Alva, Florida on the way to Labelle. This home was located in the Cascades section of the development. Remember earlier I was asked to inspect on of the model homes now owned by Bank of America. All inquires should be sent to them as they have taken over the responsibility of River Hall when Levitt and Sons went bankrupt.

Bulk drywall testing is available through my company Jacob Mermin Inspections. I use Assured Bio in Oakridge Tn. a nationally certified laboratory with extended experience. You can referr to an earlier post that has a message from the laboratory manager Lyn Pope. I have been instructed by Lyn Pope to take my drywall samples for testing from a wall that has an electrical outlet that has that blackened copper wire. She has told me to take a sample from every wall that has that effected electrical outlet. That many tests may prove to be too costly for the average homeowner. Beware there are inspectors who are not qualified to perform this testing. I recommend that my clients have as many samples done as they can afford. My policy is to give my clients the most for their money and if neccasary spread fewer tests out around the home.

Do not take the builders word for testing. Many builders have claimed that they performed testing in their homes and no Chinese Drywall was used. Ask for the test results. Ask for the visual inspection report. In many cases these builders were taking samples of drywall no where near any evidence of Chinese Drywall. For example, I take drywall samples next to electrical outlets where I found blackened copper ground wires. They do not. They take samples on walls where the electrical outlets showed no evidence of the blackening of copper ground wires. I do not mean that all builders are not being honest about their inspections and testing. I have not heard of very many builders bragging about independent visual inspections and testing. I would count DSD Homes of Lehigh Acres, Fl., Desoto Holdings of Ft. Myers, Fl., and the folks out at the models in the RiverHall development as those companies who want independent inspections and testing.

Final thought. You must find an inspector you can trust. Those concerned will not take your word for anything. You need a Certified Inspector to visually inspect your concerns and produce a report. Also get your Certified Inspector to get your testing done. Don’t take the builder’s word for it. Every attorney that I have talked to wants this report and testing for any type of litigation or class action lawsuit. I would advise you have all your eggs in a basket for them ahead of time. This way you are in control of it and not the lawyers. Remember your homeowner insurance company is also going to want this information. You definitely don’t want to use their inspections and testing.

From the inspector

Jacob Mermin CHI/CMI


From The Inspector: Jacob Mermin CHI/CMI

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Chinese Drywall Update: Drywall bulk testing.

From Lynn Pope Assured Bio Laboratory Manager.

AssuredBio uses advanced infrared imaging analysis to detect contaminated Chinese drywall.  The technology is Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy, or FT-IR.  By measuring the way the molecules in a drywall sample are excited across a spectrum of light, a fingerprint of the sample is created.  Like humans, every fingerprint is unique, but there are distinguishing characteristics that types of drywall have in common.  The contaminated drywall samples have a peak that is not present in uncontaminated samples.  That peak has been traced to sulfide and disulfide compounds and can be seen in the image below. 


This technology is not unique to the Chinese drywall issue.  In fact, is has been used in crime labs and court rooms for over 70 years to detect everything from illicit drugs to counterfeit currency.  The same technology is used to check the purity of all raw materials imported into the EU that will be used in pharmaceuticals. 

Many people wonder why this type of analysis is less expensive than other laboratory analyses available.  This analysis provides superior results while the time, labor, and materials that go into the analysis are far less than other analysis methods.  This allows us to provide a more cost-effective analysis than others on the market with better information. 

Currently, no analysis that can be conducted in-home to determine if there is contaminated Chinese drywall – only a visual inspection to find marked Chinese drywall.  Beware of quick and cheap tests, as they can provide false positives and false negatives.

AssuredBio ( is a premier Indoor Air Quality Lab, specializing in DNA-based mold and bacteria analysis and contaminated Chinese drywall testing.  AssuredBio recommends Jacob Mermin Inspections for all mold and Chinese drywall inspections as a reliable, ethical, and valuable inspector.


The Mortgage Broker’s Corner:ByJim Marcinkowski

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

“I WILL ACT NOW. I WILL ACT NOW. I WILL ACT NOW.” Og Mandino. The markets
took those words to heart last week, with plenty of timely action ranging
from telling economic reports to interesting announcements from the
government, related to homebuyers.

On the economic news front, the headlines were mixed. On the disappointing
side was a worse than expected Retail Sales Report, which showed that
consumers are continuing to tighten their purse strings. Not entirely
surprising, but it did mark the eighth decline in the past ten months for
Retail Sales. Initial Unemployment Claims were also reported worse than
expected – which some said were due to massive Chrysler layoffs – but still
was disappointing after there had been some recent signs of improvement in
the labor markets.

However, there was positive economic news as well, including improved
readings from the manufacturing sector, as the New York Empire State
Manufacturing Index improved for the third month straight. Consumer
Sentiment was also better than the previous reading and the best since
September of last year. So although the consumer isn’t out spending money
with abandon just yet, this report shows that most folks are indeed starting
to feel better about the economic outlook, likely due in part to the values
of their investment accounts improving as Stock values move higher.

Remember, inflation is the archenemy of Bonds and home loan rates, so I will
be keeping a close eye on this in the coming months.

And as if that all weren’t enough, the government got in on the action, with
the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Federal Housing
Administration making a very interesting announcement that ultimately
appeared to be slightly premature. They announced a new plan to allow
first-time homebuyers to use the Federal tax credit of up to $8,000 for a
down payment at closing, rather than making buyers wait to receive the
benefit after the fact at tax time. However, no details or logistics of how
this will actually work were released, causing them to actually pull some of
the industry announcements as they regroup to provide more details. This
could be great news for first-time homebuyers, who are slated to account for
53% of home purchases in 2009.


Jim Marcinkowski

Mortgage Consultant

Neighborhood Funding, Inc.

8695 College Pkwy.

Suite 2440

Fort Myers, FL 33919

Your Direct Lender!

239-936-4232 Office

239-826-6400 Cell

239-985-4486 Fax

Apply online @


Licensed in: Florida, California, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina,
Arkansas, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas, Oregon, Conneticut, Washington and soon
in Indiana.


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privileged. The information is intended only for the use of the individual
or entity named above. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby
notified that any disclosure, copying, distribution, or the taking of any
action in relation to the contents, is strictly prohibited. If you have
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The Waterman’s Corner

Friday, May 29th, 2009
Kangen TM Water - Change your water, change your life!

Hello again!

Did you know that approximately 70% of the human body is made up of water?  It should be obvious then that the kind of water we are drinking is extremely important.  For our body to be at optimal health, we need to be consuming the most beneficial water possible.  

Take a look at these startling facts and statistics:

  • 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated.
  • 37% of North Americans have suppressed their thirst mechanism to the point that it is often misinterpreted for hunger.
  • Even mild dehydration can slow down one’s metabolic rate by as much as 3%.
  • A University of Washington study, found that nearly all participating dieters were able to deter their midnight hunger pangs by just drinking a glass of water.
  • The No. 1 trigger of daytime fatigue is lack of water.
  • Preliminary research has indicated that drinking 8-10 glasses of water each day could improve back and joint pain for up to 80% of suffers.
  • A mere 2% drop in body water can negatively affect short-term memory and the ability to concentrate.
  • Drinking five glasses of water each day can decrease the risk of breast cancer by as much as 79%, bladder cancer by 50%, colon cancer by 45%, and deadly heart attack by 41%.

Drink the best – use Kangen water!

Now that you know just how important water is to the body, you can begin to understand how crucial it is to be drinking the right kind of water.  Here are some bad choices you can make:

  • City water – It’s often full of chlorine and other unhealthy chemicals.
  • Well water – It can sometimes be contaminated by run-off and pesticides.
  • Bottled water – Even this can be unhealthy due to high acidity.

Kangen water offers a better alternative. This alkalized and ionized water restores your body’s proper pH balance.  It’s pure and acts as a powerful anti-oxidant.  In addition, Kangen water detoxifies and super-hydrates your body.


Kangen water produces incredible results!

By drinking Kangen water you are positioning your body to be at optimal health.  You are better able to ward off sickness because you have a boosted immune system.  You are also more likely to lose weight, slow down the aging process, and better absorb important vitamins and minerals.

Get your Kangen Water System TODAY!

The Kangen Alkaline Ionized Water System is compact and easy to install.  It will transform your tap water into healthy water that is perfect for instilling proper pH balance in the body.

US FDA Disclaimer
The products and the claims made about specific products on or through this site have not been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration and are not approved to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging.

You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment.

You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem.


All the best,

Martin Bjornson
Preventive Health Promoter
Cape Coral, Fl.
(239) 945-7072

For more direct product information, visit:

For shocking information about your body and common diseases, visit:

From The Inspector: Chinese Drywall Update, Testing???

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Here is a quiz, what do you think this piece of equipment is and what is its common use? leak-detector-2

You think about if for awhile and I will give you my latest Chinese drywall update.

I was called by a representative of Bank of America and requested to give them my opinion, actually a second opinion on a model home. As it turns out Bank of America is now responsible for the bankrupt builder Levitt and Sons. I was asked by a very nice young woman to come out to River Hall,a golf club community just before Alva Florida, which is on the way to Labelle. I jumped at the chance because I have been wanting to see this new golf course designed by Davis Love lll.


Apparently an inspector, what kind I don’t know had inspected one of the models for Chinese drywall. This inspector had this device pictured above and apparently it started alerting to the presence of Chinese drywall. This inspector told this Bank of America representative that this device was telling him that there was Chinese drywall in this bathroom. I was told that the air conditioner’s air handler evaporator coils showed evidence of the effects of Chinese drywall. For all of you unfamiliar with these effects the chemicals in Chinese drywall vent gasses that turn copper black, pit and corrode chrome, blacken mirrors and etc, etc, etc. You can read previous From the Inspector posts for further information. Being an EPA Certified Type ll air conditioning technician I am allowed to open up and test air conditioning equipment, also to include using and handling Freon. I found that there was definite visual evidence of the effects of Chinese drywall. I must admit that it was not the most effected air conditioning evaporator coil that I had seen to this point. Nerveless there was evidence of the blackening of the copper tubing in the coil. I then proceeded to the bathroom and removed electrical outlet switch plates to inspect the solid copper ground wire that is connected to the green ground screw. It was not black. I inspected the master bathroom mirror and it was not black. I inspected the water shut off valve under the vanity and saw that it was not black. Now this made me even more curious. How could this inspector’s Chinese drywall sniffer go off as they say alerting him to the gasses venting that are associated with the effects of Chinese drywall.


Now remember the device pictured in this post. Remember I asked you if you knew what its common use was. It is a Freon Leak Detector. This detects Freon leaks; it is used by air conditioning technicians to determine if air conditioning systems are leaking Freon. To be fair similar devices are used to detect natural and propane gas. I brought my Freon leak detector from my truck and showed it to the Bank of America representative and asked her if it looked like mine. She said it did, it was just a different color. I can assure you, the reader, that this inspector did not have a Chinese drywall chemical and gas venting detector. To be fair this leak detector that he had could possibly pick up venting sewer gasses from the toilet.


Here comes the part that really bothers me. He told the Bank of America representative that they would have to pull out a piece of drywall near the floor and send it to a lab. I am also a Certified Mold Inspector and I take mold samples all the time. There are certain protocols that need to be followed. One is that a Chain of Custody Form has to be filled out. COC form lists the sample taken, what they are going to be tested for and the requirements for those tests. This form is then signed in front of the client to show your client that you are taking responsibility for the sample. You are also telling your client what lab you are sending it to. You then explain to your client that the lab technician who is going to work on that sample also signs the COC form showing your client that they have taken responsibility from you and on to themselves. This COC form is given to the client with the results of the testing. According to the Bank of America representative there was no Chain of Custody Form.


Speaking of the testing, this bulk testing that was being done would take about 10 business days and costs on average of $1100.00. In two weeks the representative did not hear anything from this person. I was called in for a second opinion on weather there was any evidence of the effects of Chinese drywall. The original inspector told the representative that the master bathroom would need to be completely gutted and redone. He put her in contact with a contractor that he new and this contractor told her it would be $15,000.00 to do the bathroom. He put her in contact with a contractor that he new and this contractor told her it would be $15,000.00 to do the bathroom. Do I have to repeat it again or do you understand what I mean. As an inspector you claim that there is Chinese drywall gas in a bathroom picked up with a Freon leak detector and recommends that the bathroom be gutted and it will cost $15,000.00 that can be done by someone he recommends.


The only evidence in this model was the black copper tubing inside the evaporator coil in the air conditioner’s air handler located in the garage. The representative asked me how come this is the only evidence. My possible explanation was that since there is a ceiling return, maybe a few sheets of the Chinese drywall were used in the ceiling near the air conditioner’s return grill. I have found many homes where several different brands of drywall were used. This small amount of drywall could have caused the blackening of the copper coils because of it strategic location nears the return in the ceiling. I believe that these gasses over time expel themselves. The chemicals could be still there but no longer expelling the gasses associated with the chemicals in Chinese drywall. The only testing that should have been done is a piece of the drywall near the return grill. This should be done for piece of mind, and good customer relations. Show your clients that you care and you are not hiding anything.


Be careful, there are always bad elements in our society that will try and make easy money off someone’s misfortune. Hire a certified inspector to do a visual inspection first. You can go on from there. Take your time and don’t jump into anything. I believe that unless you have the rotten egg sulfur smell air testing will not show elevated levels of the gasses associated with the effects of Chinese drywall. Stay tuned and remember I value your comments.


Jacob Mermin CHI/CMI


Mortgage Broker’s Corner: Jim Marcinkowski

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Life After Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is an uncomfortable subject for a variety of reasons. The most obvious is the potential havoc it can wreak on your finances. Running a close second is the negative stigma which is often attached to the process. This negativity is important to mention because strong emotions can sometimes lead to unsound financial decisions with devastating results.


Bankruptcy becomes a viable option for someone who is “upside down” in terms of cash flow. In other words, when a person has more money going out each month than coming in, bankruptcy should be considered if no reversal of this negative cash flow is within sight. The longer someone waits to explore the various options available, the more serious his or her situation may become.


One of the worst things people can do in this situation is to borrow more money to try and pay off their debts. On paper, this is clearly an unwise financial decision. In the real world, however, it is very common for individuals to pursue this strategy in an attempt to buy time and hold off on filing for bankruptcy. On the surface, this is certainly a noble notion; however it can often compound the problem and serves only to delay the inevitable.


For many homeowners in the midst of this upside down cash flow, speaking to a qualified mortgage professional is a much better option. An experienced loan officer can objectively look at your finances and help you determine if restructuring your mortgage would not only help, but possibly even alleviate any need for bankruptcy.


If bankruptcy is the only option, seek out a reputable bankruptcy attorney and credit counselor. A qualified mortgage specialist can provide references for you as well, as he or she works with these professionals on a regular basis. Reliable references are essential in this case because experienced professionals greatly increase the odds of a successful bankruptcy experience. It’s that simple.


When filing for bankruptcy, be completely honest and accurate regarding every aspect of your financial situation. This includes any changes to your income which may occur throughout the process. Bankruptcy is a federal procedure, adjudicated by real judges, and scrutinized by representatives who coordinate with the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the IRS.


Here are some additional steps you can take to make the bankruptcy process as painless as possible:


  • Save all paperwork regarding your bankruptcy, and keep it organized. This will prove beneficial after your bankruptcy as you now have all of the pertinent information in one place. Also, be sure to write down your discharge date. It’s surprising how many people forget to do this.
  • Establish a household budget. This can be accomplished in many ways, but there are several inexpensive computer programs available which do an excellent job.
  • Throughout the bankruptcy, do your best to not only live below your means, but to save as much cash as possible. You never know what you may need it for once the process is completed.
  • Be prepared for a barrage of junk mail. There will be sharks on the loose who are hoping to capitalize on your need for credit.


Tips for Rebuilding Credit:


  • If you must buy a car, focus on transportation as opposed to style. Buy an inexpensive, used car, and try to get a loan for it. It’s a good idea to figure out what your budget allows in terms of a dollar amount first. This means obtaining financing prior to looking for a car.
  • Get a secured credit card. Secured credit cards allow for the cardholder to deposit a said amount of money into an account, thus establishing the spending limit of the card. Missed payments result in deductions from the account. Some of these cards will reward responsible borrowers by upping the limit without an additional deposit. Some will even convert the account into a traditional credit card. (Be wary of offers of “easy credit” or any card which asks you to call a 900 number. You will be charged for the call.)
  • Meet with a credit repair specialist. Not only can they help you clean up the damage to your credit report, they can advise you on specific ways to rebuild the credit you lost as well.

While it does take time, there is definitely life (and credit) after bankruptcy. Some mortgage lenders will even lend to you within a year or so after a bankruptcy. If you’re in serious financial trouble, the trick is to get the help and advice you need from professionals you trust.



Jim Marcinkowski

Mortgage Consultant

Neighborhood Funding, Inc.

Your Direct Lender!

239-936-4232 Office

239-826-6400 Cell

239-985-4486 Fax

Apply online @


Licensed in: Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Indiana, Arkansas, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas, Oregon, Conneticut and Washington.


Confidentiality Notice: The documents in this transmission contain confidential information belonging to the sender, which is legally privileged. The information is intended only for the use of the individual or entity named above. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any disclosure, copying, distribution, or the taking of any action in relation to the contents, is strictly prohibited. If you have received this facsimile and/or email in error, please notify the sender immediately and destroy the document(s).


Monday, May 4th, 2009

Kangen Water: By Martin Bjornson

water_purifier1Hello all health seekers! My name is Martin J. Bjornson and my company is
MJB Distributors LLC. I am a local distributor of Enagic water ionizers that
quite simply produce the best anti-oxidant rich alkaline water available on
the planet. This “Kangen water” is made right in your home at your very own
tap. Enagic machines make an unlimited amount of five different types of
water for drinking, cooking, sterilizing and personal beauty care. This is
all done at a small fraction of the cost of what you are spending daily on
your family’s bottled water consumption. This is the first of many
newsletters that I will be posting on this blog to help the reader
understand the benefits of health that your family can experience by
hydrating your bodies with the proper water. Please visit my three websites
below for further information on this amazing technology that’s sweeping our
country since Enagic debuted in 2005. Call me with any questions you have
at the number listed below.

[image: Kangen TM Water - Change your water, change your life!]

Prevent sickness with Kangen water!   Do you find yourself having to take
the following types of drugs more often than you would like:

   – Aspirin
   – Cold medicines
   – Allergy medications
   – Antibiotics

A lot of people in the world today are living with immune systems that are
not working their absolute best.  In fact, a body that is at optimal health
is designed to fight off illness on its own.  However, many of us are
finding ourselves having to take loads of man-made, chemical-filled drugs

Have you ever looked at the ingredient list on your medications?

It’s a little overwhelming to do so… Most often there’s a long list of
words that you can’t even begin to know how to pronounce. They all sound
very scientific and leave you with no better understanding of what is
actually in the pills you are taking.

Now, there’s a more holistic approach to take for good health – begin
drinking Kangen water!  The easiest way to become less dependent on drugs is
to get your body functioning at its peak.  Kangen water can help you to
achieve optimal health, and thus, be less susceptible to illness.
   How exactly can Kangen water help?

One of the contributing factors to many sicknesses (ex:  diabetes, high
blood pressure, obesity, etc.) is having high levels of acids within the
body.  This condition is also known as acidosis.  Over time, it can have
some very damaging effects on the body, specifically the blood.  That’s
because acidic blood has a harder time circulating, which then causes
devastating harm to vital organs.
  Luckily, drinking alkaline, ionized Kangen water can help prevent
acidosis. Kangen water works to balance the body’s pH levels so that blood
can travel freely throughout the circulatory system.

The result is better functioning organs and overall increased health, which
then beefs up your immune system and keeps you from getting sick as often.
   Kangen Alkaline Ionized Water Systems can produce amazing results.

The Kangen Water System was developed by a 32-year-old Japanese company and
has been used by people all over the world with fantastic results.  The
small machine fits in perfectly with any kitchen, is easy to install, and
provides a necessary alternative to your regular acidic tap water.

After drinking Kangen water, over time you will be absolutely amazed at how
much better you feel.  You’ll even end up saving money because by not
getting sick as often, you’ll have fewer medications to buy.  Kangen Water
Systems are a win-win situation!

All the best,

Martin Bjornson
Preventive Health Promoter
Cape Coral, Fl.
(239) 945-7072

For more direct product information, visit:

For shocking information about your body and common diseases, visit: