2 Things Not To Do After Water Damage to Your Home
When your home has suffered extensive water damage after a broken pipe or flooding, your first instinct may be to start cleaning up the mess. As strange as it sounds, this may not be the best course of action. If you plan on filing a claim with your insurance company, you’ll need to provide evidence of the damage and get approval before making any repairs. Not only that, hiring a professional water damage mitigation service, to handle the clean-up and restoration of your home can save you time and money.
1. Don’t Throw Anything Away
Before you throw away any possessions damaged by a broken pipe or flood, you’ll need to photograph or video them, record their make, model, age and condition and allow a claims adjuster to inspect them. It’s also worth letting a water damage expert assess the damage too. They have specialized equipment for drying, cleaning, deodorizing and restoring everything from furniture to photographs, so there’s a fair chance they can salvage damaged possessions.
2. Don’t Try To Remove the Water Yourself
As distressing as it is to see so much water in your home, don’t try to get rid of it yourself. Again, you’ll need to have the damage assessed by an adjuster before you begin clean-up. When you contact your insurance company, talk to them about hiring your own public adjuster to do the assessment as a way to speed the process along.
Experts in water damage mitigation have access to specialized equipment that will make water removal faster, more efficient and much easier than anything you can do on your own. Their industrial de-humidifiers and fans can dry out your belongings before they begin to grow mold, saving you the cost of replacing furniture and carpets.
It’s easy to panic when a broken pipe or other disaster floods your home, causing extensive water damage. Whatever you do, however, don’t throw anything away or try to remove the water yourself until you file an insurance claim and talk to an expert in water damage mitigation.
What is Mold?
When it comes down to it, not many people actually understand what mold is. So what is mold? Well, in this blog we are going to discuss just that.
What is Mold:
The word “mold” refers to a group of fungi that are very common on food or wet surfaces. This fungi will include the green mold that produces penicillin as well as the mold that you will commonly see on fruit, bread, or cheese as it spoils. Most molds you will find growing on damp building materials are actually found in soil and is adapted to grow on a wide variety of materials. In the outdoors mold will grow in soil, on plants, and on decaying matter. There are thousands of different types of this fungi we refer to as mold. These types will range from different moisture conditions as well as a vast array of different colors. Many times (but not always) there is a very musty odor that can be associated with the presence of mold. Live spores will act like seeds in spreading and forming new mold growths that we refer to as colonies under the right conditions. We are all exposed to a variety of fungal spores on a daily basis both indoors and outdoors. So how does this fungi we call mold find its way into our homes and buildings? Let’s discuss.
How mold enters a structure:
We now understand that mold and fungal spores naturally occur outdoors. Indoors, however, mold will require moisture in order to grow. This will commonly occur from water damage in your home or building. Water damage may appear in your home due to flooding, roof leaks, storm-driven rain, pipe leaks, damp basements, or condensation on cold surfaces. Fortunately, there are several ways in which to prevent mold growth which you can read about in our next blog!
Inspection and Water Damage Assessment
When responding to a water damage emergency, we begin with a detailed inspection of your home or property, including a damage assessment. At this stage, our professionals are trying to determine the scope of the damage so that we can develop an appropriate plan of action.
We will identify the category and classification of water damage to ensure our professionals restore your property based on industry guidelines. The level of contamination of the water will affect the specific restoration processes we use.
- Category 1: "Clean Water"
- Category 2: "Gray Water"
- Category 3: "Black Water"
We inspect and test to determine the extent of damage and how far the moisture has traveled to ensure proper and complete restoration. In addition, we will inspect for safety concerns that may be evident. If there are any safety issues like lead or asbestos, please bring them to our attention.
- Survey Damage
- Complete Safety Inspection
We move furniture and property contents and block items to help prevent rust or furniture stains on wet carpet.
What Homeowners Should Know About Sewage
Sewage is one of the most dangerous substances to enter homes or buildings. It contains fungi, bacteria and viruses, many of which are disease causing. Unfortunately, many people fail to understand the hazards that sewage presents, particularly for the very young or very old, or for those with compromised immune systems or respiratory problems.
The IICRC complied guidelines for professional sewage cleanup called the Standard for Water Damage Restoration (S500).
Here are the key principles homeowners should know about sewage back-ups:
- Sewage contains a variety of pathogenic – disease causing – fungi, bacteria, viruses and parasites. Anyone who works on sewage losses must have updated vaccinations, including one for Hepatitis B.
- Sewage exposure is particularly dangerous for people with weakened immune systems, including anyone under two or over 60, those who are pregnant, ill, recovering from surgery, on prescription drugs or chemotherapy, or are AIDS victims.
- It is not safe to stay in a building that’s flooded with sewage unless the contaminated area can be completely sealed off and placed under controlled air flow so that there will be no cross contamination of unaffected areas.
- Highly absorbent sewage-saturated materials, such as carpet, pad, upholstery, bedding, wicker, paper or even fabrics that can’t be washed in hot water (130°F/54°C) for at least 10 minutes, must be contained and disposed of properly. This goes for sewage-saturated drywall, insulation and several other structural materials too. There’s simply too great a health risk involved if any of these materials are dried in place and cleaned only.
- Only the most highly trained professionals should attempt sewage remediation work. Then, a “third party” indoor environmental professional can provide post-remediation verification or “clearance testing” to ensure that the home or building is safe to re-occupy.
If you have any sewage issues, call SERVPRO of South Albany County.
How to Prevent Water Damage
Most Homeowners insurance policies cover basic water damage claims up to the purchased limit.
But you know what’s a lot easier than going through the claims process? Preventing the water damage in the first place!
Check out these 5 suggestions for preventing water damage:
- Be careful where you plant
Some plants and trees, like weeping willows, have pretty invasive roots. If you’re not careful, they’ll grow right into your sprinkler system, drainage field, pipes, and septic tanks. Plan before you plant to keep roots away from any water lines.
- Clean out roof gutters
You know it’s on your to-do list anyway, so if you can, take a safe climb up to your roof next Sunday and check out your gutters. If you’re seeing lots of leaves, birds’ nests, sticks, and whatnot up there, your gutters may not be doing the job you hired them for. And on a rainy day, a clogged gutter can send water spilling into your home’s foundation, through the roof, or down to your basement. That could cause some serious water damage! So next time you’re doing some seasonal cleaning, make sure those gutters are clean. And if your gutters are too high, be safe and get a professional to check them.
- Keep an eye on your water bill
With so many water pipes hidden behind walls and in the floors in your house, you might not know there’s a leak until the damage is done. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your monthly water bill. If you see it starting to creep up, or get one that’s uncommonly high, it’s a pretty good sign that you may have a leak somewhere.
- Use a drain snake instead of unclogging chemicals
No matter how crazy clean you are, from your shower to your kitchen sink, clogs are going to happen. And chances are at some point in your life you’ve used one of those powerful chemical drain cleaners to get things moving again. But as convenient as they may be, most folks don’t realize those caustic chemicals are also eating away at their pipes (and they might not be too good for you either). If you rely on them a lot, you could be setting yourself up for leaks. That’s why owning a drain snake is a good solution to clear away clogs. They’re pretty inexpensive, you can get them at your local hardware store, and they can cut through most any clog you’ll have without damaging pipes or making your eyes red and teary.
- Never pour grease down your sink
You’ve probably heard this before, but you should definitely avoid pouring grease down your kitchen sink. It doesn’t matter if you flush it with hot or cold water. It can still congeal and cling to your pipes, and could still cause some serious damage and blockage.
Some people use detergent to break up grease before pouring it down the drain…and that may help sometimes. But there’s no guarantee that it’ll keep the grease from sticking to your pipes, so why take the risk?
The safest thing to do is just to pour your grease in an empty can, and either let it sit or put it in the refrigerator. Once it hardens you can toss it in the trash and get rid of it. Done and done.
10 Fire Tips for Your Home
For most people, homes are one-time assets, containing their most precious belongings. A home is the most important thing you own. It is prudent to ensure the security of your home and family from destructive elements such as fire.
Many homes are destroyed due to fires. Fires may occur due to accidents through carelessness or negligence. It is therefore essential to know of ways and means to keep your house safe from fires.
Listed below are 10 tips for ensuring fire safety for your home:
1 Install a few smoke detectors, preferably on each level. Smoke detectors help save lives and property with early-warning mechanisms. All instructions regarding smoke detectors must be observed scrupulously.
2 Maintain and test smoke detectors periodically. Replace smoke alarm batteries. Most detectors give out signals when the batteries get low to avoid the danger of forgetting about you batteries.
3 Keep an eye out for potential fire hazards. Look for things like frayed or torn cords on electrical devices such as televisions, stereo systems, lamps or computers. Watch out for heaters that are too close to flammable items such as clothing, fabric, books, magazines or old newspapers.
4 Keep match boxes and lighters out of reach of children. Children are fascinated with fire, and curiosity can get dangerous. Keep temptation at bay by hiding matches and lighters. Better still, keep them locked away.
5 Stay on guard when cooking or baking in the kitchen. Many home fires begin in the kitchen. It's always best to be cautious and exercise care in attending to areas that are prone to fire accidents.
6 Have an emergency fire-exit plan handy at all times. Family members should be aware of this plan, and safety drills are in order from time to time. Escape plans have helped families to be safe in fires.
7 Always exercise caution when using, placing or lighting candles. Candles can easily allow other things to catch fire if you are not careful. Have proper candle holders, protective covers and extinguishers for candles.
8 Avoid electrical fires by always unplugging all electronic devices and appliances after use. Plugged-in appliances and electronic devices are fire hazards.
9 Take good care of fireplaces or wood-burning stoves that you use during the winter. Ensure proper safety and upkeep of such devices and keep children out of reach of fire.
10 Teach children about the hazards of fire and ensure they are aware of fire safety rules. Remember, the wellbeing of your family is important and everyone is responsible in understanding the hazards of fire.
SERVPRO Helps Keep Your Home Liveable
Except in the most severe situations, you should be able to live in your home even as SERVPRO technicians go through the motions of water damage restoration. We always try to keep residents in their homes wherever possible, even if it means making accommodations in how we go about our business. Of course, access to some parts of your home may be impeded while we do our work, but these efforts are designed to keep the rest of the building working and livable with as little trouble to you as possible. Here's a brief overview of how we try to keep your home functioning as normal during restorations.
When water damage in your home has especially strong odors or mold presence, our technicians may put in place some quarantine measures to keep a section of your home separate from the rest of the structure. While this may entirely cut off access to part of your house, it also stops odors and mold spores from reaching beyond where they have already taken hold. Our quarantines range greatly in size, from a small area in the corner of a room to an entire wing or section of the home.
SERVPRO technicians put up markers and warnings wherever there may be a safety hazard, helping to keep them as well as you safe from harm. This can be especially beneficial in situations with flooding or otherwise serious water damage where major electrical, structural, or chemical hazards may exist.
Our personnel is always careful to inform homeowners and insurance companies alike when the situation changes or needs shift. If anything happens that may change your living conditions or personal safety in any way, our technicians or representatives always contact you before going any further in their work. Keeping homeowners informed and updated on the restoration process has helped to earn us a national reputation for quality care and service.
American Red Cross Ready Rating Program
Teaming Up to Help You Be Ready
SERVPRO is teaming up with the American Red Cross to help business and homeowners across the nation get READY for any disaster.
The American Red Cross Ready Rating program is a free web-based program designed to help businesses, organizations and schools become better prepared for emergencies. Through the Ready Rating program website, readyrating.org, property owners complete a 123-point self-assessment of their level of preparedness for weather-related or other emergencies. The Ready Rating assessment also offers tips and best practices to help improve their level of preparedness.
“Through the generosity of SERVPRO, the Red Cross will help empower workplaces to re-open more quickly after natural or man-made disasters such as water main breaks, medical emergencies, power outages, tornadoes, floods and hurricanes through the Ready Rating Program,” said Tom Heneghan, manager of Business Continuity Programs for Red Cross.
“Up to 40% of businesses never re-open their doors after such disasters; SERVPRO’s partnership will enable more businesses, schools and organizations to become better prepared. We are excited to have SERVPRO join us in community outreach efforts to educate and highlight the importance of community preparedness in neighborhoods across the country.”
“This partnership just makes perfect sense,” said Rick Isaacson, Executive Vice President of SERVPRO Industries, Inc., “and truly completes the readiness equation for businesses and other property owners. The Red Cross Ready Rating Program allows individuals to assess their readiness for a disaster, so they can take all the necessary steps before disaster strikes to protect their property from damage and loss. But, when disaster does strike, knowing what to do and who to call saves time-and fast response is key to minimizing damage and downtime. That’s where SERVPRO’s Emergency READY Program can help. Together, these two programs offer maximum peace of mind to businesses and other organization.”
Protecting Your Home from Storms
Flooding in your home can happen at any time, but your home can be even more exposed to water damage when it rains. As we move into the late fall and winter months, storm damage becomes more of a threat to your property. Follow these tips to help protect your home from water damage during the next rain storm.
- Modify your homes water valves. If the city's main sewer line gets backed up during a heavy rain storm, you could find yourself standing in a a puddle of you-know-what. You may want to consider installing a interior or exterior backflow valve. Backflow valves prevent your water system from being contaminated from water flowing backwards into your supply lines.
- Clear gutter, drains, and downspouts. Clogged gutters and downspouts can end up in a messy flood. Take the time to clean them and clear them of any and all debris before the rain comes.
- Cover air vents. One of the most common ways water fins its way into a home is through the home's air vents. If you know that heavy rain is in the forecast and that you are at risk of flooding, cover your air vents with thick plastic sheeting from both the outside and the inside.
- Check your sealant surrounding doors and windows. Make sure that any gaps or holes in the sealant surrounding the doors and windows are filled in. This will help stop rain water from finding its way into your home.
Water Damage isn't a DIY Project
Trained and Equipped to Quickly Dry and Protect Your Home and Belongings
A mop and common household cleaning products may not be enough for black water intrusions. SERVPRO is trained to safely clean and restore your home, utilizing the following procedures:
- Identify the Source/Type of Water
- Measure Temperature and Humidity for Drying Analysis
- Survey the Extent of Damage and Inspect the Premises
- Perform Emergency Water Extraction
- Move and Block Furniture
- Provide Floor Service
- Inspect Carpet Pad/Carpet and Provide Service
- Apply Necessary Treatments (Disinfectants/Deodorization)
- Utilize Dying Equipment and Monitor Drying
- Dispose of Refuse
Emergency mitigation means that under normal circumstances, SERVPRO is on-site within four hours to begin drying and decontaminating your home and restorable contents. SERVPRO is trained and understands how to manage the drying process. By utilizing the proper equipment and moisture measuring devices, a structure is quickly and thoroughly dried, which helps prevent secondary water damages.
Abiding by OSHA guidelines and all applicable health regulations, SERVPRO removes moisture, sewage, and contaminants, disinfecting and deodorizing as they safely clean your home and restorable belongings.
Any water damage in your home is bad. Especially when the water contains potentially harmful bacteria that can affect the health of your family and the value of your home. Toilet overflows, sewage backups and other dark water intrusions are more than nasty, smelly messes; these biohazardous damages also introduce harmful microorganisms into a home, as well as the moisture necessary to support their growth.
SERVPRO understands how disruptive black water damages can be for your entire family. For this reason, SERVPRO offers 24-hour emergency response, and, under normal circumstances, will have trained, uniformed technicians on-site of a water damage within four hours to begin emergency mitigation services. By responding quickly with a full line of water cleanup and restoration services, SERVPRO can help you regain control quickly while drying, deodorizing and protecting your home and belongings.
So, before you risk your health by attempting to clean up the mess yourself, call your local water damage cleanup and restoration experts at SERVPRO of South Albany County.