Tuesday, September 20, 2011

After the torrential rains this past summer, I was called to a flood job in Brookline MA. Upon arriving, I found the entire finished basement had water damage. The home owner was unsure as to where the water had come from. He said he never had a problem with a wet basement in the past.  After my technicians extracted the water, they found that water was seeping in thru a crack on the floor.  I showed the owner where the water was coming from and explained that “because this was not a pipe break, unfortunately, it probably would not be covered by insurance.”  (But I did suggest that he call his insurance agent to be suCentral Air Conditioning Unit resized 600re).  
Next, I figured out the amount of equipment needed to dry out the home so I could give the home owner an estimation of what it would cost.  After giving him a price, the home owner asked me a great question “what is the difference between AC and a Dehumidifier?”  “Because central air conditioner removes humidity, right?”  The home owner thought that he could save a little money by not renting a dehumidifier.
I explained to him that the difference between AC and a dehumidifier is not very great. An air conditioner like a dehumidifier pulls warm moist air over its cold coils; the difference is that AC does not reheat the air beforeDehumidifier resized 600exhausting into your home.  What you get is nice cold air blowing out of the Air conditioning unit.  It also doesn’t have a humidistat, so when the home reaches a preset temperature the AC will shut down, even though your home may still have high humidity.  But more importantly, depending on when you turn on the air conditioner, it may do more harm than good.  For example if the temperature in your flooded home is 74⁰ degrees Fahrenheit and the relative humidity (RH) is 90%  and you turn on the air conditioning system, when the cool air coming out hits the dew point at about  70⁰ degrees it’s going to start raining (condensation) all over the inside of your home.  So it’s best to use a dehumidifier and not an air conditioning to help dry out your home.  The dehumidifiers job is solely to remove humidity.
There are times however when an air conditioning system can help if certain conditions are present. But this should be left up to a water damage restoration professional to monitor the home’s environment to determine when it is the best time to turn on and off the AC unit.
In conclusion the difference between an AC and a dehumidifier is not much, but the usefulness of each system can be quite different in each situation.

Water Damage Local.com is available 24/7 to handle all of your water restoration needs.

Five Steps To Mold Free...

If there is anything that has been established beyond all reasonable doubt over the course of writing this blog, it is that mold is the single most common and most dangerous side effect of water damage.  As I’ve said before, it shows up within 48 hours following a water damage event, spreads rapidly, can be extremely difficult to remediate, and can bring with it all manner of various and sundry health problems.  To put it mildly, mold can be a bear to deal with.

We have also talked at length about how to deal with mold if you find it in your home or business.  What we haven’t talked much about, however, are the simple things you can do to prevent the problem from cropping up in the first place.  That being said, I present you with five basic steps you can take in your home to reduce the chances of mold occurring.

Ceiling fans.  These are an excellent and inexpensive way to combat mold.  They are ornate and functional, adding beauty to your home while at the same time increasing the air circulation for the room they are in, keeping things cool in the winter and warm in the summer (a fan will prevent the heat from rising as quickly).  
Proper air circulation is vital to preventing mold from making an appearance, and ceiling fans go a long way towards helping this goal.

Dehumidifiers.  You see these mentioned a lot in our blog entries, usually as something to be utilized after the water damage fact.  Yet they are a valuable commodity.  Costing around $200 for a decent model, dehumidifiers do exactly what their name implies, they remove excess humidity from the surrounding air, making it inhospitable for mold spores to take root and grow.

Bathroom exhaust.  You could easily make your own jokes here, but I’m referring to the idea of removing humidity from what is normally one of the most humid rooms in any household.  Showers and baths build up moisture levels rapidly, so using your bathroom fan really helps keep levels in check.  Mold is quite common in bathrooms, however, so keep an eye out for it around sinks, showers and tubs, and treat these small growths before they have the chance to be fruitful and multiply.

Bleach is a common weapon used against mold.  It is one of the accepted cleaning agents for mold growth, and spraying mold prone areas with bleach every week or two is a good way to prevent mold from getting a foothold and becoming a serious problem.  Always wear gloves when working with bleach, and make sure the area where you are working is properly ventilated.

Keep things clean.  I’ve long maintained that the best defense is a great offense.  Keeping your bathroom, kitchen, and other surfaces clean will do much when it comes to preventing mold.  It is far easier to keep it clean now as opposed to having to declare war on a mold invasion later on.  Adopt a cleaning schedule for your home and stick to it.

Of course if you do have mold, it isn’t enough to simply clean it up….you have to make the environment an unwelcome one for mold spores.  Clean up, disinfect, sanitize, but go one further and increase the ventilation.  Bring down the humidity levels.  Only by doing so will you be able to prevent the mold from returning like some refugee from a Grade Z horror film. 

Water Damage Local.com is of course available 24/7 to handle all of your mold removal and other water restoration problems.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Saving Water Damaged Carpet....

It takes less than an inch of water to cause serious damage to the carpeting in your home.  Not only is the carpet itself soaked, but the padding beneath is ruined, and the flooring and drywall may also end up warping or cracking.  Basically, it makes for a lot of problems. 

In almost every case, the easiest thing to do would be to simply throw the damaged carpet out and start all over again with new, but for some reason, there are folks who exist in this world who feel it necessary to do all they can to save their carpeting.  The good news is, it can be done.  The bad news is, once you do it, you may find yourself convinced that throwing it out should have been your first choice.

But I digress.  Water damaged carpets can be cleaned, provided that they have been soaked for less than 48 hours, and provided that the water in question is not sewage based.  If you have a sewage problem, skip the rest of this article and just throw the carpet out.  You’ve got far more serious issues to contend with.  Trust me on this one.

When it comes to cleaning a water damaged carpet, the first thing to do (as with any kind of water damage) is to locate the source of the water and shut it off.  This prevents more water from coming in, but it also allows you to determine what kind of water you’re dealing with.

The excess water will need to be removed from the carpet.  Usually this is accomplished through the use of a wet dry vac unit or pump.  Most of the water can be removed during this process, but not all of it.  The bad news is that the carpet will still retain a good bit of moisture, not to mention that found beneath the carpet or in the walls.  The good news is that the carpet should now be light enough to lift.

Yes, children, I said lift.  The carpet will need to be taken up and moved outside to completely dry, preferably somewhere that it can be laid flat, such as a patio or driveway, and in direct sunlight.  You can also use fans or blowers to help speed the process along.  Laying the carpet out flat is imperative…..otherwise it may dry unevenly and may not even fit back into the room from whence it came. 

Once the carpet is dried out, it will need to be clean, disinfected, and sanitized…..twice.  That’s right, once it’s all done, do it again for good measure.  You want it to be as clean and fresh as it can possibly be before putting it back down.

While the carpet is drying, don’t neglect the flooring.  Chuck all the padding out the door and replace it with new padding.  Trying to repair damaged carpet padding is an exercise in futility.  Don’t put yourself through it.  
Make sure the flooring is dried out, cleaned, disinfected, sanitized, you know the drill.  All surfaces must be completely dry before the carpet is put back down, or else you’re inviting mold to start growing. 

Depending on the depth of the water, check the surrounding drywall for the telltale stains or swelling that usually accompany water damage.  The drywall may have to be cut and either partially or wholly replaced. 

Remember, the operative word in the whole operation is “dry”.  Everything must be completely dried out in order to prevent subsequent problems from materializing. 

Again, my advice would be to call in an airstrike and start all over again, but if you are one of those folks who believe that your carpet can be saved, and that we have the technology, etc etc……then the good news is that it can be done, provided you act swiftly and thoroughly.

Water Damage Local.com is available 24/7 to handle all of your flood damage and waterrestoration needs.  Call today for a free estimate.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Water Removal Process...

With any sort of water damage, be it a pitcher of tea overturned in your living room or the pipes bursting in the upstairs bath, the overriding goal is still the same, to remove the excess water and dry everything out promptly to insure against further problems such as staining, rotting, smelling, or at the very worst, mold and mildew. 

Even the smallest of spills, such as the aforementioned pitcher, can leave unsightly stains on carpeting and may even result in some measure of mildew if not properly wiped up.  You can imagine how severe a more serious spill or flood situation might be.

So we look at a severe situation, such as the burst pipes.  Say they are in your kitchen and water has flooded into your living area and soaked your carpet.  A half inch of water may not sound all that bad, but look at your living room and imagine a half inch of water and see just how much of it could be affected.   So what do you do?

First things first: locate the source of the spill and shut it off.  This will not only prevent more water from coming in, but it will also give you an idea of what kind of water you are dealing with.  Check out this article on types of water damage for details.

You should also shut off any utilities at their source.  Water and electricity make strange bedfellows and leaking gas can cause fire or explosion….either scenario could have unfortunate results. 

You should also open windows and doors and get air moving through the area.  The vast majority of the restoration process will happen through air circulation.  Loose items and furniture should also be removed to a safe place for drying and cleaning. 

Excess water should be removed using a wet dry vac unit or pump, depending on depth and severity, and this process may take several hours. 

Once the excess is removed, don’t make the mistake of assuming it’s all over, as even a touch will reveal that surfaces are still quite wet.  Even concrete can manage to retain a significant amount of moisture.  You’ll need to make use of fans, blowers, and other air movers to finish the process we like to refer to as “secondary drying”.  Dehumidifiers will also need to be used to bring down the level of moisture.  Excessive moisture can set the stage for additional problems such as mold.

Carpets will need to be taken up, dried, cleaned and disinfected, along with the flooring beneath as well as any drywall that may have been affected.

If all this sounds like a lot, it is.  That’s where Water Damage Local.com comes in.  We are a nationwide network of water restoration providers, available 24/7 and able to provide a full range of services from water removal to structural restoration and everything in between. 

Contact the professionals at Water Damage Local.com for all of your water damage and flood restoration needs.

The Age Old Question: Are You Covered?

In the fading wake of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, more and more property owners are waking up to some fairly unpleasant news, namely that they are not in fact covered for such a disaster by their homeowners’ insurance policy.  Some insurance agencies are reporting near round the clock calls from harried homeowners, and have had to hire additional phone help to handle the overload.

Water damage is a tricky issue when it comes to insurance.  In most cases, flood damage is not covered, and in many cases, general water damage isn’t covered if it can be in any way proven that the damage was the result of negligence on the part of the homeowner. 

If the exterior of your home was damaged by a tree falling due to high winds, that would be covered, but water in your basement as a result of a flash flood likely would not.  It would be seen as a scenario that was preventable by most insurance companies.

Most homeowner’s policies include living expenses for occupants to stay somewhere else while the home is repaired, but flood insurance does not.

Of course the best thing for any homeowner to do (and this is not the first time I have written this particular piece of advice) is to go and have a sit down meeting with your homeowners’ policy provider.  Go through your policy step by step and determine what is and what is not covered.  If you do not have flood insurance, check to see if your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is the government provider for flood damage insurance, and add the coverage you feel is necessary to protect you and your home and family.

Flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program covers water damage caused by water that has either migrated over two parcels or engulfed two acres of land.  Any items you wish to have covered must be listed on the policy.

As of April 2010, the program insured about 5.5 million homes, the majority of which were in Texas and Florida. While recent storms have depleted much of the NFIP’s funds, the government has passed legislation guaranteeing continuance of the program for at least another two years.

Water Damage Local.com works alongside your insurance company and claims adjust throughout the repair and restoration process.  We take care of the red tape and paperwork; that way you have one less headache to worry about.  We figure you have enough problems by this point already.

And of course we are available 24/7/365, with a full staff of trained professionals, the latest in water restoration gear and procedures, and offer a full range of services from water removal and drying, to carpet cleaning and mold removal, to structural repair and restoration.  We can have a technician out to your property within an hour of your call, ready to assess the problem and begin the restoration process.

Don’t wait for the rain, go ahead today and contact Water Damage Local.com to get connected with an IICRC certified provider in your area.  It doesn’t matter if there isn’t a cloud in the sky or if you are in a brand new home with new pipes…..make the call today for peace of mind tomorrow.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tips On Documenting Flood Damage For An Insurance Claim

Suffering with flooding in your home is something that nobody wants to have to experience, and trying to cope and recover what is possible from such flooding is something that everyone will want to do.  One of the most important thing when it comes to dealing with flood damage is that it is vital to comprehensively document any damage that has occurred, and to take pictures of everything before it is disposed of in order to show to the insurance company, so that they cannot suggest that items that weren’t affected by the flood damage was disposed of.

Dealing with insurance companies is something that many people will find to be a frustrating and difficult experience, although there certainly has been a focus on the treatment of customers in such situations where flood damage has caused significant destruction in the family home, and is inevitably a very stressful time for people.  However, by being proactive and friendly with the insurance company, and especially the officer who will be dealing with your flood damage claim, you are much more likely to get a human response, and will enjoy a better rapport with that person.

There are so many things that will need to be done if the flood damage has been extensive.  And with most homes containing thousands of pounds worth of goods that will need to be repaired or replaced, and there will often be structural or electrical damage too, then repairs can lead to a long term process.  Trying to be systematic in a difficult situation is certainly an attitude that will pay dividends, and being reasonable and calm about the situation will also help in dealing with the insurance company and helping to progress towards a solution and full repair of the damage caused by the flood.

Taking as many photographs as possible, both of the damage to the house itself and of any damage to the goods and fittings within the house can be a good place to start, as they will provide the evidence that insurance companies may ask for at a later date.  This will also help to inventory everything that is removed from the house because of the flood damage, and will be included in the claim that will eventually be paid out by the insurance company.  They will also find that photographs will help to identify any issues that need to be dealt with, and the kind of repairs to the flood damage that may be necessary.

Finding that flood damage has struck your home is something that is painful to see, and can often cause a lot of heartache to those people who have suffered from an unexpected or particularly severe flood.  However, by being diligent in dealing with the damage and cooperating with the insurance company as much as possible, it can be possible to get the right result from a flood damage insurance claim, and have the claim processed in a timely and efficient way.

Flooding, Then Mold, Then What?

Property owners still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee are slowly discovering the less glamorous part of storm damage, namely the proliferation of mold in and around their homes and businesses. 

The fuzzy, greenish-black stains along their walls are bad enough, but what is worse are the mold problems that remain unseen, those growths that generate inside drywall or within basements and crawlspaces, in short those elements that you won’t find unless you know where to look.  Mold spores will be rampant in the surrounding air following a flood damage event, and all it needs to put down roots and grow is sufficient moisture and / or humidity.  It only takes a single spore to start a brand new mold colony, and with thousands of spores occupying an enclosed area, it becomes rather obvious just how rapidly the problem can get out of hand.

Mold occurs naturally in the outdoor environment, acting as nature’s recycling system, breaking down dead plant and animal tissue, reducing it to its base elements such as carbon and nitrogen.  Most homes are dry enough to prevent any significant mold growth, save for regular humid spots such as your bathroom, however flood damaged homes can accumulate more than sufficient moisture to sustain a mold colony.

This week, along Irene’s and Lee’s paths, homeowners are beginning to see the first traces of mold in their damaged homes.  If the growth is caught early enough, remediation presents no problem, but if the colony has had time to grow and spread, more intensive, professional treatment may be required.

Obviously, the first step is to get rid of the mold and thoroughly dry the area.  But this alone is not enough to guarantee that the mold will not return.  Any items exhibiting mold growth should be thrown out.  Moldy clothes can be washed and the mold killed, but even dead mold can become a serious irritant, especially to folks with severe allergies.

Equipment and tools made of metal can be bleached and saved. For objects of high value, remove the mold by freezing the object in the refrigerator and scraping or sanding off the frozen remains.

The only way to fully prevent mold from returning is to properly treat the affected area, and then make sure the environment is not one that would be conducive to mold growth.  Drying out the area is one thing, but then making sure humidity and moisture levels are significantly decreased is quite another, often requiring the aid of a dehumidifier (perhaps several).  Resist the urge to use fans as they can help spread mold spores into other areas of your home.  Humidity levels in the home environment should always be kept below 50% if you want any sort of guaranteed results at all.

Homeowners can remove mold from wood framing with sandpaper. Professionals may also use pressure treatments of dry ice or baking soda, microbicide sprays and sealants. Some hardware stores may carry microbicides and sealants.

The Center For Disease Control recommends wearing a N95 face mask when working around mold to prevent inhalation of mold spores into your respiratory system.

Mold is usually harmless, we encounter it in our showers and tubs all the time, but in large enough concentrations it can become a primary cause of respiratory issues, allergic reactions, and in some cases, more severe neurological disorders.  It is always advisable to have large mold colonies removed by a professional.

And of course by professional, we mean the pros at Water Damage Local.com, who are available 24/7 and ready to handle all of your water removal and mold remediation needs.