How to Shut Off Your Water in an Emergency
There’s nothing that can get a person to move faster than to have a pipe break in a home, with water spraying everywhere, soaking everything, and ruining furnishings, flooring, documents, and more.
The “moving faster” part of this unwanted exercise is often the frenzy with trying to find and turn off the water source, the main water feed into the home, and that location is usually not top-of-mind until the moment it is urgently needed.
Turning a valve off and saving your home is a simple concept, but if you don’t know where to find that valve, extensive damage will occur.
With most properties in warm climates, the main valves are often outside, easy to access. But in colder climates, those valves are inside, either in a basement if the home has one, or in a utility area, out of the way. And often, none of them are marked.
In addition to the typical shut-off valves, most homes have a main valve in the yard, an underground area with a cover that can be removed and give you access to it. Sometimes a special tool is needed to operate the valve.
But if you own a typical home with a basement, you have an advantage. The main shut-off valve is most often found near the front, on or near the wall closest to the street, where the water feeds into the home. If you have a private well, it should be on the side of the well, on that wall. If the valve isn’t on that type of wall, it may be near the furnace or water heater.
If you have a crawlspace, you may have a disadvantage. The valve may be in there, in that tight space that is usually full of cobwebs and dirt. You might have to go in there to reach the valve. But make sure it is in there; do that right now, so you aren’t trying to reach a valve that turns out isn’t in there at all.
When you do find the valve, you have to turn it. Turn clockwise, like when putting a screw into a board or a lid onto a jar. The valve may be rusty, difficult to turn. Lack of use makes the task more difficult. You can use a wrench to do it but be careful not to break the handle of the valve.
If, or more precisely, when a pipe breaks and you have resulting water damage, do the right thing. Contact your favorite disaster restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
How to be Flood Safe and Savvy
One of the worst times for many when it comes to the possibility of a flooded home is during springtime, when the ground is thawing, snow is melting, and then relentless rain starts pounding down.
Hopefully, your roof is leakproof, your foundation is up to the task, and your sump pump (if you need one) is chugging along faithfully. Water is intrusive and can find the weakest spot in your home and create all types of damage and costly repairs.
There are ways to be flood safe and even flood savvy by paying attention to advice and guidance from the experts.
The first thing to do is logical and you are probably already doing it: Watch the weather. Monitor your favorite news source for weather alerts and updates, especially when you know a storm may be brewing and coming your way. You can set automatic alerts easily. And understand weather event terminology. There’s a big difference between a flood watch and a flood warning. A watch means flooding may occur. A warning means weather conditions are prime to create flooding.
You can prepare your home for possible flooding. While you should always vacate your home and find a safe place if severe and dangerous weather is coming your way, most weather issues won’t dictate evacuation. But all weather-related issues should prompt preparedness, which may include checking all doors, windows, openings to your home, and checking your basement or first floor areas for items that can easily be damaged in a flood. Put them up high — just in case. Going through and picking up soggy items that could have been safely put on a shelf is not a task you have to face if you think ahead.
Be prepared for power outages. Have plenty of fresh food and water on hand in the event you have to wait out the storm.
Remember, floods are the most common natural disaster that affects the most people. They can be caused by a variety of events, including hurricanes, heavy rain, high winds combined with rain, and even thawing snow. Just a small amount of water in your home where it doesn’t belong can cost thousands of dollars in damage. Make sure your homeowner’s insurance policy covers flooding that could possibly occur in your area. Don’t assume you have flood insurance as part of a normal insurance policy.
If the unthinkable does occur and you suffer from a flooded home, do the right thing. Call your favorite disaster restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
The Devastation of Ice Dams
As temperatures change, water freezes, then melts, and refreezes against. Often, as water moves down a surface, you see icicles form. While icicles might be beautiful to look at, when they are hanging from your roof or gutters, they can cause devastation inside your home. What you see might be the start of an ice dam, which can be the root cause of a water damage.
How does it happen? After all, don’t most water damages occur from broken pipes or sudden heavy rain? Not always.
How ice dams form
In the winter, where temperatures drop below freezing, snow melts and then the water runs down the roof and then hits the cold roof eaves and gutters and freezes into ice dams. These tear off gutters, loosen shingles, and cause melting water to work its way under the shingles, and into your home—instead of off the roof like it normally should.
This can damage interior walls, insulation, woodwork, ceilings… it can warp your floors and even lead to mold forming inside your home, where it does not belong. But all of this can be prevented with a little planning.
Preventing ice dams
In the short term, you can put some ice melt products (calcium chloride), much like you would put on the sidewalk, on areas where ice may build up. You can sprinkle these liberally on the eaves and in the gutters. Some recommend putting the ice melt products in socks or pantyhose and laying them up on the roof, so it crosses over the eaves and gutter. No matter what you do, think safety first and be very careful on ladders or when accessing anything high.
In the long term, insulating your attic should be a priority. Have it inspected to ensure you have the right type and amount of insulation materials. If you can keep the entire roof the same temperature as the eaves, you stop the formation of ice dams. You do this by increasing ventilation in the attic and plugging every possible air leak that might warm the roof, which melts the snow. We all know everything must melt, but premature melting is the issue here.
But when and if water damage happens, you need help before things go from bad to worse. Do the right thing and call your favorite disaster restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Previous Water Damage Concerns
When your home is the victim of a water damage event, such as from a leaky roof, when a pipe breaks, a basement floods from heavy rains, whatever the cause… you know when it happens, unless you are on vacation and discover it when you return home.
When water damage occurs, you are quick to clean up the mess and call a professional water damage restoration company. That’s smart home ownership.
But what about when something happened in the past and it wasn’t cleaned properly, or you didn’t even know about it? Such as when you purchase a home, and the previous damage wasn’t disclosed? The longer damage remains, even if hidden and unnoticed, the worse it becomes.
What can you do? Of course, when purchasing a home, asking a lot of questions is important, and a home inspection can reveal what a casual observation will miss.
When buying a home
When you are looking at a home to buy, or even rent, be sure to ask about any previous water damage or other structural issues. Ask about the cause of the damage, and how extensive. A fresh-water leak is much different from a sewage backup, and you need to know this. Was the damage cleaned by the homeowner or a professional restoration firm?
Ask a professional if there is the potential of long-term effects from the previous damage. You want an honest opinion. You do not want to purchase someone else’s issues that should be resolved before you purchase the home.
What can you do?
When you own the property or even if you rent, you have options. Having the previous damage inspected by a professional is a way to protect your family and loved ones. After all, we all know that water damage can lead to mold issues and possible exposure to mold spores. Only a pro will know the extent of the damage and have the proper remediation plan.
Remember: Any damage can be repaired. While it is best to dry out and clean up after a storm or water damage issue, even if months or years go by you can have damaged materials replaced. There is no cost too high that should stop you from doing the right thing and protecting your home and family.
And when in doubt about anything related to disaster restoration issues, water damage, mold contamination, whatever it is, do the right thing. Call your favorite restoration company for a consultation. After all, it pays to call a pro!
How Condensation Works
Not many consider condensation a danger to the belongings or the actual structure in their home, apartment, or commercial building. After all, a little moisture on surfaces isn’t a big deal and can easily be wiped off.
Right? Maybe, but that’s not the entire picture. Even water in very small quantity can be an issue.
Water comes in several forms, such as gas, liquid, and solid. Condensation is formed when molecules of water vapor combine to become liquid water. This happens when water vapor meets colder air and surfaces.
The danger is when this collects in areas prone to condensation, such as your basement. But this isn’t limited to basements. Condensation can collect on surfaces that can be damaged by moisture in virtually any part of the home or office. Condensation threatens metal items that can rust, natural furnishings, such as those made from wood or fabric, books and papers, and other personal items.
While most often think of rainwater, broken pipes, and leaky basements as sources of water damage, condensation can be a hazard as well, but with the slow effect of it, you don’t notice the damage until it is too late.
Here are a few easy tips to limit the impact of potential condensation.
Dehumidify: A simple household dehumidifier is a great device to remove moisture from the air and reduce condensation. The disadvantage is they use quite a bit of electricity, so purchase one that is efficient.
Insulate: Pipes, especially cold-water pipes, can build up condensation and then drip down onto areas adversely affected by moisture. By wrapping your pipes with insulation, you may stop this from happening.
Ventilation: Monitor the humidity inside and outside your home. You might open windows if the weather permits it and humidity is lower outside, or you could run the HVAC system and keep the humidity down with mechanical methods.
Keep moisture away: Ensure your downspouts are working properly and ground water is directed away from foundations. Water seepage can be insidious and very damaging over time, so proper maintenance is important. Make sure windows and doors are properly sealed and weather stripping has been installed, especially in humid areas.
But when anything happens that involves water intrusion and resulting damage, do the right thing. Call your favorite disaster restoration company. They know what to look for and the best way to protect you and your family from more damage and even potentially toxic issues such as mold. After all, it pays to call a pro!
How Evaporation Works
When something gets wet or damp from water damage in your home or even at work, the longer it is wet or damp, the worse the damage over time. Evaporation, while a simple principle we all benefit from every day, is an important scientific concept that you can manipulate to work better for you.
First to consider is what evaporation is… it’s an activity that occurs when a liquid substance turns into or becomes a gas. Think about when you boil water, and you hold a glass above the pot. What happens? The glass gets wet. That’s because evaporation is occurring in the pot and the gas is moving up onto the glass you are holding. You also see condensation on windows. That’s because evaporation put water into the air as a gas and now it is coming back to a surface. Many energy sources increase the rate of evaporation, such as when you put a wet item outside on a sunny day.
For evaporation to occur, the surface of the water must be exposed so there can be an escape of moisture. For any water damage situation in your home, exposing wet or damp areas is critical. Running a fan on an object that has moisture inside, and the air can’t get to that area, is worthless. This is why a professional water damage company will work to expose all wet or damp areas affected by a flood or leak and allow that moisture to escape — into the air and then into a dehumidifier.
The more energy you apply to a wet area, the better the evaporation. You must remove the moisture from damaged items, building materials, and other affected areas to avoid a musty smell and mold that can develop in a short amount of time. That energy can come in the form of air movement (running a fan), adding heat (professional restoration companies use this technology) and ventilation (opening windows so air can move, running the air conditioner or furnace system).
Really, although evaporation is a simple process and we rely on it (imagine if you never dried off after a shower!), it is also a science. When anything gets wet in your home that shouldn’t, don’t wait for things to dry on their own. At minimum, contact your favorite disaster restoration company and ask them what they think you should do. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Where There’s Mold…
Where there’s mold, there is usually an underlying condition that you must discover and remediate, and quickly. Mold occurs because of conditions that allow it to grow, and some types of molds are tenacious.
Recently, we considered the difference between mildew and mold and what the EPA has to say about what we need to know.
And while the cleanup of mold and mildew may seem basic at times, there are situations when removal and cleaning can be challenging to tackle. Here are some important points to consider and remember… to play it safe means consulting and usually hiring a professional mold remediation company.
Toxic or non-toxic?
Mold is a common problem and as a fungus it can appear in different areas for many different reasons. Usually because of a dark, moist condition. But just because you find mold doesn’t mean it is necessarily toxic. After all, everyone has different reactions to substances. What may be harmful to one person may not be to another.
But always be safe and when cleaning up mold, wear gloves, a respirator, and proper personal protective equipment that a mold remediation expert would recommend.
Most of the time, the mold you find, such as in a bathroom, a windowsill, or other common areas, can be easily cleaned. It is unlikely you will call a mold remediation expert to take care of the mold growing on the grout in your shower. Just be safe and wear a mask and gloves, and use products designed for removing small amounts of mold.
Mold is a type of soil. It’s organic growth. No need to panic, just be smart about cleaning it up. After all, if you were in the garden and saw some mold, you wouldn’t run screaming into the house. Simply applying a cleaning product for mold and mildew removal, scrubbing and wiping it up, completely, often fixes the issue. But sometimes, the mold has grown into surfaces, such as baseboards, walls, or even the subfloor that you discover as you replace flooring material. When that occurs, removing and replacing affected areas is often the best solution.
Hiring a pro
If the mold appears significant, and you have some doubts on removing it, it’s best to call a professional. A mold remediation company utilizes technicians who are trained and have experience in safely removing larger amounts of mold, or the types of mold that are known to affect more individuals with mold allergen sensitivities.
Who pays for all of this? Sometimes, your insurance company, if the cause of the mold is from a water damage situation. Talk to your favorite restoration company about all of this. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Should You Test for Mold?
Recently, we discussed mold that can be found in unlikely places, such as in the bedroom, bathroom, and the kitchen. After all, most report mold in basements or crawlspaces, but mold can actually grow virtually anywhere.
There is one thing we can all agree on. You do not want hidden mold growing in your home. If there is mold somewhere, anywhere, with the potential of causing health issues with your family, you want to know about it so you can remove it and keep everyone safe.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has much to say about the need for mold testing. “In most cases, if visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary,” according to a statement on the EPA website. And what the EPA says makes sense. If you can see the mold, you do not need to take samples and run tests because you know the mold is there. The professional restoration company that removes the mold will figure out what type it is and proper procedures for your specific case.
But what if you can’t see the mold but you feel something is there?
Then it’s time to engage mold sampling and testing. According to the EPA, surface sampling may be useful to determine if an area has been adequately cleaned or remediated.
Who should do it?
Sampling for mold should be conducted by professionals who have specific experience in designing mold sampling protocols, sampling methods and interpreting results. Sample analysis should follow analytical methods recommended by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), or other professional organizations, says the EPA.
Regulations and guidelines
Standards or threshold limit values (TLVs) for airborne concentrations of mold, or mold spores, have not been set. Currently, there are no EPA regulations or standards for airborne mold contaminants.
But if you have mold, you no doubt aren’t driven by regulations or guidelines, or lack thereof. You want to know if there is mold and if there is, what you can do to remove it.
One option is to purchase a do-it-yourself mold testing kit, something that you test surfaces with and send in for testing at a laboratory.
Another is to contact an industrial hygienist who is an expert with issues such as this, and have professional testing conducted.
No matter what you do, if you do have mold growth, do the right thing. Turn the work over to your favorite restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!