Surviving Water Damage

Water damage is a devastating experience for most homeowners.  Your home and belongings are soaked, and at first, it seems that nothing can be saved, but not all hope is lost!  If you have ample information about the reasons, outcomes, and best approach for handling water damage you will more easily survive the catastrophe.  here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about water damage:

Common causes of water damage- natural disasters, such as floods, heavy storms, or hurricanes can result in water damage.  You can also experience burst pipes, appliance/drain malfunctions, leaky roofs, foundation cracks, sewage system failure, poor drain fields, sewage issues and a host of other problems.

Why should I worry about water damage?

Any water that comes in from outside can contain dangerous contaminants like raw sewage, chemicals, viruses, germs, and bacteria.  If the floodwater is not drained from your home in the first couple of days, it can become stagnant, or serious structural failure can occur.  This stagnant water can also promote mold growth that can affect every portion of your home, even those areas that did not suffer water damage.  Document the damages throughout the process (cell phones are a great way to do this).  This is not only handy when dealing with your insurance; it might aid authorities or be used when seeking other assistance.

 What steps do I take after flooding, sewage overflow, or water leaks?

If possible, shut off the utilities in your home to avoid a dangerous situation.  Try to open the house to facilitate drainage and drying.  Do not go in to your home if it has suffered structural damage.  Try to stop any more flooding if possible.  Finally, consider contacting a professional water damage restoration company as soon as possible.  Waiting more than a couple of days can cause mold to take hold and cause permanent damage to the wood, furnishings, walls, and carpet in your home.  Contact your insurance company promptly to start your claim process.

 How do professionals typically handle serious water damage?

The first thing a certified technician will do is remove any items that will be restored or discarded.  These Materials can include fascia board, trim, baseboards, shelving, insulation, furniture, carpeting and padding, upholstery, drywall, and other things in your home.  Step 2 involves the technicians drying out the water while disinfecting affected areas.  They may utilize Special equipment like fans, shop vacs, and dehumidifiers in the drying process.  Mold-infected areas will be addressed.  Surfaces will be disinfected and restored as quickly as possible to contain the mold.

Does homeowners insurance cover this type of damage?

Typically, your Homeowners policy will provide coverage for sudden or accidental damages.  These are things like those that a water heater ruptures, the HVAC malfunctions, or your pipes burst.  In the case of flood damage (storms, overflowing sewers, rivers or lakes, hurricane), unless you have purchased special coverage, it is NOT covered by standard policies.  In addition, the water damage that results is most likely not covered on a standard homeowner’s policy either.

Fire damage restoration tips

Fire is one of the most formidable forces on earth, and living through one can be devastating.  After a fire ransacks your home, there are many decisions you must consider and immediate steps you must take.  Here are five major tasks to tackle after afire.

  • ASSES THE SITUATION-Is any one hurt, or in danger, (this is THE most important question!)? Do you need emergency services because of a perilous situation like live electrical wires, spewing gas, spilt chemicals, or someone trapped?  If you do not need emergency services, Let us look at what steps you can take in your own recovery until help can arrive.
  • STOP ANY FURTHER DAMAGE- shut off all utilities, and, if possible, block any holes in the roof or breaks in walls that may allow damage from the elements. Remove any standing water.  If the fire was contained to one area, you still may have to look to adjacent rooms to asset damage from smoke, ash, or water that may have spilled over in to those areas.
  • BEGIN CLEAN-UP- Clear out any loose debris, garbage, and items that cannot be saved. Use shop vacs, rags, sponges, etc to wipe and clear away loose ash and soot.  Use of a broom can be more detrimental than not as it can rub ash and soot into surfaces.  Use a deodorizer and disinfecting cleaner to eliminate smells, bacteria, and the possibility of mold growth.  After basic cleaning, you can determine what larger items need to be removed for deep cleaning, and which items are ruined that need to be disposed of.  Make sure to keep concise records for insurance and tax purposes!
  • PREPARE THE AREA FOR RESTORATION- Once preliminary cleaning and clearing is done, larger pieces can be removed for restoration or disposal. Walls, carpeting, and pads can be removed as needed.  CARPET PADDING SHOULD NEVER BE SAVED   During this entire process, care should be taken to check all surfaces frequently for mold growth, and signs of structural problems like leaning walls or cracks in walls, floors, and ceilings.
  • REPAIR AND REBUILD-If you must tear out walls, ceilings, floors and carpets act quickly.  The faster damages are remedied the less chance there is of these damages becoming severe.  Cleaned and repaired walls can get a fresh coat of paint, news floors and carpets can be installed, and your cabinets are replaced or refinished.  Light fixtures and fans can be re-hung, and hopefully after everything is back in place your home will look and smell better than ever!

If you feel that there is too much for you to handle, call a professional service, and have a complimentary consultation.  A reputable company of caring individuals will come out and asses your situation.  They will offer solutions based on their years of experience and tempered with learned compassion.  You cannot endanger your home and family by allowing the damage to remain unchecked, nor can you rush into a hasty and uninformed decision for something so important.

3 Sewage Cleanup Questions Answered

This is one spill no one really wants to think about and the cleaning up after a Sewage spill can be hazardous to your health if not handled properly. Sewage spills could come from your own waste water system, but also from the public sewers.

 

Why is Sewage so dangerous?

Sewage water can contain human and animal excreta, blood, industrial waste, hospital and commercial waste, deceased animals, storm water runoff, chemicals and other hazardous items. This type of water can contain many contaminants that can cause various viral, fungal, bacterial and parasitic infections. Water is usually treated in treatment plants before being reclaimed. When raw Sewage is released into the environment or home before being treated, it can cause serious illnesses. Your home and surroundings will all need to be treated properly in order to remove the threat posed by these types of spills.

 

What does a Sewage clean up company do?

Sewage cleaning specialists will have experienced staff, equipped with the correct safety gear and equipment to clean your home as quickly and effectively as possible. They are able to reclaim some of your items that can be cleaned at a high heat to remove all the contaminants and some items may be able to be saved by cleaning and disinfecting.  Some items that are very porous would however, need to be replaced such as drywall and most types of carpeting. They use a combination of steam cleaning, water removal, sanitization, decontamination, deodorizing, mold prevention, dehumidifiers and air scrubbers to clean and sanitize your home. There may also need to be treatment of the environment to ensure there is no contamination left behind after a clean up if the spill is outside of the home.

 

When do you call in a Sewage cleanup company?

If the spill is more than a minor spill or if it has spread to more than one room, if the Sewage water has been sitting in your home for a while (more than 12 hours), you have young children or vulnerable people staying in your home, the spill is caused from a septic tank or sewer back up.  It is always good to get in people to repair the piping, remove the blockage or clear up the issue that caused the Sewage mess before finishing the cleanup, otherwise there may be a second spill.

You need to keep your family safe and ensure that you take the proper precautions to protect them from diseases that can be spread by the germs found in Sewage spills. Even when it comes to small spills, you need to take the necessary precautions such as wearing protective clothing such as gloves and masks. The area would need to be cleaned and all solid and liquid removed, there would need to be proper aeration, and the area would need to be disinfected properly. Anything more than a minor spill should be handled by professionals in order to ensure your family’s health. People with the necessary experience will know what to look for and what to do to ensure your home is decontaminated properly and that there is no risk to your family from the Sewage spill.

Dealing with the moldy aftermath of water damage

After a severe flood or home disaster like a burst pipe, most of us feel that we are able to handle the clean up ourselves.  While mopping, washing, and drying is a big part of the job that is only touching the surface.  What we do not see is the deep down damage.  More than likely, all that water is going to leave you with a mold problem!  This serious problem can threaten you, your family’s health, and your property.  This type of problem may even need the attention of a professional.

WHAT IS WATER DAMAGE?

Any Damages caused by heavy rains,  flooding bodies of water , overrun storm drains, burst pipes, or even defective appliances, can cause heavy  water damage in your home.  This type of destruction can cause extensive problems including ruined walls, floors, and furnishings, damage to appliances and personal items, structural damage, and most likely, mold.

HOW MOLD GROWS

Mold is a microscopic organism that exists by digesting organic matter.  It has a very high rate of reproduction and spreads by “blooming out “.  It releases thousands of spores into the air that can immediately begin to grow by this process.  Unfortunately, many of the spores can finds their way into your reparatory tract causing serious problems.  Mold requires moisture, warmth, and a suitable medium for optimum growth.  Your water-damaged house is the perfect setting.  Your mold crop will set in 24-48 hours after being introduced to the area.  Most molds in homes are not discovered until it is too late for superficial surface cleaning.  By the time, you discover your problem it has probably already caused extensive damage to your home, and is responsible for respiratory problems in family members and even pets.

HOW TO PREVENT THE GROWTH OF MOLD, EVEN AFTER HEAVY WATER DAMAGE

Since we know the growth of mold begins within 24 hours of a water incident, you can take steps to stop it.

  • All water must be removed from the area. The use of use vacuums, fans, and dehumidifiers may be necessary.  Remember mold like humidity.  50-90 humidity is optimum for spore growth.
  • Carpets, insulation, and even walls may need to be removed to control the growth of mold
  • Wash all exposed areas with a mold killing cleaner, like industrial bleach. This will prevent the growth and spread of mold.

 

Keeping your home safe from mold

The best way to prevent mold in your home is to keep moisture and water damage from occurring.  While you are not in charge of Mother Nature, you can maintain your home and check regularly for leaky pipes and faucets, faulty drains, and hoses around your home.  Remember likely culprits will be showers and tubs, condensation from HVAC unit, and appliances like your dishwasher, fridge, and washing machine.  Often the best course of action if you do sustain heavy water damage is to contact a professional service.  A mold remediation company can handle you problems quickly and efficiently.  They are trained in finding and identifying mold at its source, and have the right tools and equipment to do the job right.

Get rid of foul odors in your home naturally

We have all experienced our homes not smelling as fresh as we would like.  Often our first thought is to reach for pressurized aerosols that promises to give us instant “fresh air” What if you could get rid of the musty smell in your home naturally, without spraying chemicals around your home.  Here are some things you probably have on had that can freshen your home naturally.  A few of them may surprise you!

  1. Citrus is natures odor absorber

Don’t throw out those citrus peels!  Boil the peels of lemon, and orange in a little water.  Allow the steam to waft around the room for a natural freshener.  You can place the cooled mixture in your fridge to absorb bad odors, or pour down your drains to remove bad odors.  You can even add custom touches like lemon grass, fresh ginger, nutmeg, or cinnamon sticks for an exotic smell.  Grapefruit is a natural absorber of mold and mildew.  Use a grapefruit candle or boiled peels in an area that has suffered water damage and kept the musty smell.  The oils in orange peels will remove stains and smoky doers form your wood paneling and furniture.  Just rub the fresh peels over the area, and wipe with a clean damp rag.

  1. The bliss of essential oils

There are hundreds of scents available in the essential oil market today.  Each of them has a valuable use.  Some are excellent air fresheners.  A blend of mint and eucalyptus placed on cotton balls and placed around your home can really freshen up your surroundings.  Lavender oil in a diffuser or mixed with boiling water is perfect for giving your laundry room or nursery a light fresh smell.  Use a few drops in your laundry to keep the washer fresh too.  Lemon grass and Eucalyptus oil in boiling water or a diffuser can remove the stale smells left behind by body odor and sickness in bedrooms.  Floral oils such as rose, gardenia, honeysuckle and other popular scents are a welcome addition to your home as well.  They give it a bright outdoor feeling that can be refreshing.

You can ever make DIY air freshener by adding five to ten drops of essential oil to a half cup of water and using it in a spray bottle.  Don’t be afraid to mix and match your own favorite aromas to create a custom blend!

  1. white vinegar is nature’s answer to almost anything

White vinegar is found in almost every home.  It is a condiment, you can cook with it, it is a cleanser, you bath with it, use it to clean wounds, and whiten tile.  It can remove stains, set dyes, clean clothes, and act to preserve foods.  Women have used it on their skin for a clear complexion and in their hair to keep it shiny.  It is also a great natural odor remover.  A bowl of water with white vinegar is a kitchen odor absorber.  Place a bowl out when you are cooking fish, cabbage, liver, or other odorous foods to keep your kitchen smelling fresh.

Create an odor-eliminating kitchen cleaning scrub by combining 1 part baking soda to two parts white vinegar.  Clean smelly grease and other deposits from walls, vents, and appliances with this paste.  Use vinegar in the laundry to remove tough odors.  Place small bowls of cotton balls soaked in vinegar around your home where bad smell are most persistent.  You can even add a few drops of extract like vanilla or your favorite essential oils to the mix to add a pleasant aroma to the air.

Once you try natural remedies for foul odors in your home, you will probably discover many more.  Don’t be afraid to invent your own scents, and try new things.  Always take care when mixing two components, and check areas for colorfastness before applying any new mixture.

Handling Flood Water Safely with 3 handy tips

Standing water in your home can become a serious health hazard or danger to your family.  It can harbor a variety of bacteria from the ground and other sources.  It can become stagnant and grow mold.  If your home has recently gone through a flood, or has suffered through burst pipes or a leak, your safety needs to be your greatest consideration before you dive head first into a DIY cleanup job.  Let us help you identify the potential dangers that you could face.  Find out how to take all the proper precautions before you begin the job.  We want to make sure you are equipped with the correct safety gear and supplies.  It also doesn’t hurt to have the numbers for emergency services and a professional clean-up company on hand for backup.

To DIY, or Call for help.

The first crucial step in water damage reparations is to evaluate if you are equipped to handle the situation.  If you know, the water is contaminated with sewage or chemicals STOP!  Please call a water damage Specialist.  Raw Sewage, dangerous chemicals, or moldy stagnant water should be handled by a professional company.  If you determine that you can handle the situation on your own, you need to understand the dangers you face and everything you need to proceed safely.

Potential dangers you might face as the result of Water Damage

Floodwaters pick up contaminants from the ground and surrounding surfaces as they rush along.  Water entering your home could contain sewage, garbage, bacteria, or chemicals.  You can become seriously ill from contact with this type of water.  Stagnant water poses another problem.  If you have water that has been sitting for several hours, it has become a hotbed for breeding for mold and bacteria.  You could become very ill from breathing in bacteria or suffer serious respiratory distress from breathing mold spores.  Other dangers to consider is electrical shock if live wires are present or creatures such as snakes washing in with flood waters.

Proceeding with caution

Cover holes in your roof, broken windows or holes in exterior walls with plastic to prevent further damage.  Before beginning your work, make sure that all electrical service and gas lines are shut down.  If possible, remove all standing water.  Once the area is cleared of all standing water, you can safely use fans or dehumidifiers to aid in drying out the area.  Always run any electrical items on extension cords from a safe area, do not to use the outlets in the flooded room until they have been checked out.  If you must enter the flooded area to remove the water, Make sure that you know the layout.  Are there lines, pipes or other trip hazards that might be hidden beneath the water?  Did the room contain chemicals or any other hazardous materials that could now be in the water?  

Secure the proper gear and supplies for the job

You need heavy gloves to avoid the risk of cuts or punctures, a breathing mask, possibly even a respirator if hazardous chemical are in play, and protective eyewear.  Adequate clothing is also important.  Make sure that your arms, legs, and body have ample coverage.  Waders or high rubber boots are also a wise idea.  Wearing the proper gear and attire will provide necessary protection while cleaning up damaged areas, and can help protect your body, lungs, and eyes from any dangerous traces present in the water.  You will also want rags, a mop, buckets, trash bags and a good disinfectant/ mold killer like bleach.

Floodwater doesn’t always look dangerous.  take precautions even if you think the water is safe.  It is wiser to contact a professional service to handle your problem.  They have the proper equipment and knowledge to handle the job the right way!

DIY Crawl Space Mold Prevention for Property Owners

A big problem with crawl space is that the area is always humid and moisture rich. Ideal conditions for growth of mold. And mold is the one thing you don’t want in your house. However, because of the design and structure crawl spaces are typically the best places for mold growth. Heat and moisture (wiring and plumbing) are naturally present in these spaces. So once mold takes roots in your crawl space, it is only a matter of time before it spreads through your property.

Common Issues with Crawl Space

As mentioned earlier, because much of your wiring and plumbing goes through the crawl space, there are always specific risk factors that encourage mold growth such as leaking plumbing or damaged insulation. And because of the design of the crawl space, it is difficult to ensure adequate ventilation. All of these conditions make it conducive for a mold attack.

Best Practices to Avoid Mold Growth in Crawl Spaces

The one big mistake that most property owners make is that they wait till after mold damage to do something about the issue. Prevention is always better than cure. And with the right strategies, mold growth can be effectively limited and or even stopped. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are a property owner.

  • Check your foundation walls and crawl spaces for water leakages on a regular basis. If you find any cracks or damage to the structure then address it immediately. If you are confident about your DIY skills, great. If not they seek professional help with the repairs.
  • Check the insulation of the crawl space and if you find it either missing or damaged, chances are there could be a water leak somewhere.
  • Check all plumbing and the HVAC ducts for water leaks on a routine basis. Any kind of water pooling can lead to the build of a damp and moist space which is a safe haven for mold growth.
  • Ensure the crawl space is sufficiently ventilated. Ideally, there should be a square foot of ventilation for every 150 square feet of crawl space area. If the crawl space vents needs to be kept closed, check with experts on other ventilation options. Humidity control is crucial so don’t ignore the importance of adequate ventilation.
  • Manage all water flow to ensure that it leads away from the foundation of the building. The last thing you want is for water from a gutter or drain spouts to enter the foundation. In addition to damaging the structure, water can also enter the crawl space which then means an invitation to mold growth.

Consult with experts on how best to insulate the crawl space and foundation walls to provide protection from moisture build up. Plastic sheeting covers are an ideal protective solution. In addition to this, you also need to ensure that the dyer vents drain outside. If not it can lead to a build-up of moisture and humidity within strategic places such as the crawl space, attic and or the basement.

These are some of the best practices that property owners can take to prevent mold growth in crawl spaces. If however, you find that mold damage is extensive and out of control, then it is best to call professional services who are trained specifically in mold damage restorative work.

Is Mold taking Control of your Health and Lifestyle?

A house is supposed to be the one place that keeps you safe, warm, and comfortable at all times. But what do you do when your safe haven is under attack from mold infestation?

All molds can lead to the development of serious health conditions. Allergens can trigger reactions. People who are allergic to mold can also suffer from asthma attacks.  Some molds can also produce toxins and/or irritants to human and pet health. The three most common molds are Stachybotrys (black mold), Aspergillus, and Penicillium. Not only are they dangerous, but they are the most commonly found indoor toxic molds.

Why you should be Worried about Mold Infestation?

If your house has mold damage, then don’t wait till the problem gets out of hand. Take action quickly. Microscopic fungus just needs oxygen and moisture to grow. There is hardly a house which is deficient of these two elements! Your flooring, walls, furniture, windows, and just about any surface can fall victim to mold infestation. Once mold spores start growing within your home space, the invasion can be quick and the damage can run deep.

Mold penetration is more extensive when it comes to absorbent surfaces such as your carpets, rugs, and drywall. Children, elders, pets, and anyone with prior health (respiratory) conditions is at a bigger health risk from mold infestation. Common mold related health conditions include sore throat, runny nose and irritation to the eyes, skin rashes as well as severe respiratory conditions such as an asthma attack.

Take Charge – Here’s what you can do

Once you know you have a mold situation, the first thing you need to do is to contact a specialist. Reason being, a trained mold removal professional knows how to locate the source of mold damage. Any kind of clean-up is only going to be effective if the source is tackled first. In addition, here are a few things that you can do to address the mold infestation issue.

  • Reduce humidity by ensuring there is adequate movement of fresh air in places where moisture collection is unavoidable such as your bathrooms and laundry rooms.
  • Use exhaust fans to balance the humidity level in your house.
  • Check your plumbing for leaks and if you do have excess water issues, dry the affected area if possible.
  • When you wash surfaces, make sure all excess water is allowed to drain and the area is dry after the clean-up.
  • Absorbent surfaces such as carpeting, rugs, and upholstery are easy prey to mold infestation; if possible, try and dry the materials completely.

Most of these are in fact activities that home owners should follow regardless of whether there is a mold infestation issue or not. Proper ventilation, drying up excess water and moisture, preventing or addressing water leakage issues quickly can go a long way in preventing mold infestation. However, when the mold damage is extensive, the best course of action is to contact a mold removal expert as quickly as possible.

How to Effectively Handle Water Damages On Your Own

Water damages are the kind of problem that just won’t go away on its own. In fact, the longer that the problem lingers, the more it will cost to restore your home afterwards. Although calling up a restoration company is an effective solution that will save you a lot of time and money, there are small things you can do about the damages to reduce damages in the time it takes to sort things out with your restoration company.

Make sure your safety is ensured:

One of the most important things to keep in mind when you start working on water damages is the level of risk that the water poses to you. If you notice that the water is colored very dark, or is murky and oily, you should try your best to avoid that water. Another thing you should take care of is making sure there is no mixing of sewage into the water. You could get contaminated with sewage pollutants, as well as inhalation or entry of harmful microbes inside your body which can make you very sick.

If the water is somewhat murky, you can proceed to clean, but employ several precautionary measures to ensure your safety. If you are cleaning the water up, make sure you are wearing thick, tall shoes which will prevent entry of water inside or near to your feet. Also, be sure to use rubber gloves to cover your hands while you clean out the water, along with a face mask so you don’t inhale anything dangerous while cleaning.

Remove as much clutter as possible:

When you start working on your home that suffered water damages, make sure your first remove all of the dirt and damaged possessions first. If you have furniture that you think has a chance of being restored to the way it was, leave it outside and have it inspected. Even after the water has been removed, make sure there isn’t any carpeting left which can prevent the water from being removed by retaining some of the moisture.

Removing the collected water:

Now, you should make sure that any standing water is promptly removed. This may be done using pumping, however if the water damage is extensive, you should ask a professional to handle this step. In cases of small puddles, you can start by using a vacuum which can help remove all the water. Next, open up the windows and use dehumidifiers to remove all of the water, even the water in the air.

Assessing the damages to your home:

If you have a quick eye, you can pick up on the damages that your home may be facing as a result of the issues with water. Check your home for mold growth or any signs of rotting in the walls or in the floors. If you notice anything, handle it as soon as possible to avoid further problems. Finally, make sure your home is disinfected using a cleaner with antimicrobial properties. This way you can get rid of microbes and mold at the same time.

How Mold Remediation Can Help Protect You and Your Loved Ones

All the specialists and experts agree – mold is an extremely dangerous and harmful thing that can cause a lot of damage to you, your loved ones, and to your home. However, with the correct awareness, you can actually save yourself from the disastrous effects of mold growth or at least minimize the damages. The best thing to do in such a situation is to call up a restoration company. They will help you out with their extensive training and expertise, along with their professional level tools to remove any unwanted molds inside the home.

  • What mold is and how it affects you:

Molds are technically fungi. Molds are found all around us, and are a vital part of the living systems around us. What molds and other fungi do is that they take large materials and break them down into small parts, creating raw material for other plants and animals. This is part of nature, but this isn’t a part of your home. When the mold starts growing in your home, this can be very dangerous for your health and safety.

Molds travel through the air, with aids of microscopic spores. These spores travel easily from parts of your home and wreak havoc everywhere they go. Molds can grow in almost all of the surfaces inside the home, such as carpets, woods, and even floors. However, in addition to this, mold also needs moisture and other nutrients. Most often, mold growth spreads rapidly when there are water damages involved, as they can provide the perfect environment.

  • How molds can pose dangers to your health and safety:

Mold spores can easily travel through the home, but they can also easily be inhaled by the people living inside the home. When the spores enter inside the body, they cause a lot of problems, and result in symptoms such as running noses, coughing, sneezing, and itching in the eyes. Sometimes, this can escalate into even more severe problems such as allergic rashes and asthma attacks.

  • How the mold grows inside your home:

Molds usually grow after some kind of water damages. If the water is unsafe or contaminated, the mold may grow even faster than usual. Mold is one of those problems that can simply not be ignored. The minute the mold is noticed it must be addressed or the problem will only get worse as time goes by. If you sense a musty smell around it, you should contact a remediation or restoration company at once.

  • Removal of mold:

Now that the mold is discovered, the restoration team will cover up the area and prevent further spreading. They will work on removing the water in the area that is promoting the growth. Machines like Rovers and dehumidifiers can be used to remove any potential moisture that can prove to be problematic. Now, the mold will be removed, and the things left behind will be scrubbed clean.

If you notice mold growing in your home, don’t hesitate to call up an efficient licensed restoration team that can help you bring your home back to the way it was.