The Musty Basement
Fixing a musty basement is a chore that must be done quickly yet can be very frustrating. Trying to chase down a musty odor is not easy. It’s a restoration project that is crucial to you enjoying your home.
A smelly basement is notjust an odor problem; it usually indicates something more severe is going on. What you are smelling could be just damp materials, but it could also be mold growing, and the off-gassing of that process. This isn’t pleasant nor healthy.
There are several steps you, as a homeowner, can take to help fix this issue.
Doing some simple cleaning can accomplish quite a bit. Keeping things clean – and dry – is key to curbing the smells that can come from a basement. Take the time to inspect all the materials in your basement and take out and clean those that might be damp or have an odor. A little suspicion goes a long way.
Most likely, these items that could have odor issues are porous materials, such as clothing, bedding, and similar items. Have your carpet cleaned professionally, if there is carpet in the basement. Using a home carpet cleaning machine might actually do more damage than good. Hire a pro.
Look at the sources of potential musty odors. Windows that are drafty, walls the seep in water, anything that can create odors should be inspected and addressed. Remember that musty smells usually come from mold growth.
Although you may think that your basement is nice and dry, it might not be. The only way is to monitor the humidity level. You can do this with a hand-held device, the type your restoration pros use, but that may not be practical for you. Those devices can be very expensive.
Better yet is to set up a dehumidifier that has that information on it with its display. This way, you can run the dehumidifier as needed to keep the humidity at the level you want it to be. The lower the humidity, the less you should experience musty odors in the basement.
And the absolute best way to know if those musty smells from the basement are due to water intrusion, or other restoration issues, and what to do about them, is to consult with your favorite water damage professionals.
After all, it pays to call a pro!
Candles might seem quite harmless and innocuous, and we use them all the time for a variety of reasons, but did you know that they can be a big problem for most homeowners?
According to some reports, nearly one billion pounds of wax are used every year to make candles, all sold to homeowners just like you. Besides traditional candles, there are other uses for those waxy substances.
Thinking of that huge number of waxes being used, you can imagine some of them could cause issues with the safety of your household.
No matter the use you have for candles and their place in your home, here are some tips to make sure all is safe in your household.
Remember, a candle is an open flame, which means that it can easily ignite anything that can burn. And if this happens to you, don’t think you are alone. The flickering and warming effect of a burning candle is something most can’t ignore.
FEMA reports that some 15,000 candle fires every year are preventable, with half of them igniting substances close to the ignition source.
What you can do
Remember the burning candles should never be left unattended. That’s the most dangerous part of using a candle, that you leave it for a moment and it then causes a home fire.
Never leave a candle unattended. And keep them aware from anything else that can burn.
Make sure the candle you use can’t tip over or catch other substances on fire.
And, of course, make sure your children and pets aren’t within reach of your burning candles.
Don’t forget that no matter how safe you try to be, that nothing replaces a proper alarm. Make sure your smoke and fire alarms are in good working condition.
No matter how careful you are, it’s always best to get expert advice. Do the right thing and protect your family and friends. Call your professional restoration company for advice. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Evidence of Water Damage
When something fails, such as a high-pressure fresh water source to your toilet… or perhaps a leaky drain pipe underneath the kitchen sink… no matter what it may be, you usually know what to do.
You know the drill… clean it up, get it dry, and call a professional water damage restoration company to ensure all is good and there is no possibleway mold can grow. You want peace of mind, and this is the way to get it.
However, sometimes you just don’t know when things happen, when things leak or when water intrusion occurs — because it can be slowly invasive and build up over time.
There are several steps to determining if you have an actual water damage situation and when you mustcall a pro — and when you can do it yourself. Remember, you can’t be too cautious with the well-being of your loved ones.
The nose knows
Damp and wet areas affected by water intrusion demonstrate themselves after a day or two with a very easy to detect odor. It will just smell wet, musty, and unhealthy. If you detect anything like that, it’s time to do some serious investigating. You may not actually see the water intrusion, but no doubt it is probably there.
You can often see swelling materials, such as the particle board under a sink, providing evidence of water intrusion. When things buckle, even if you notice it after the surface has dried, there is potential of subsequent water damage, because if it leaked once… it will again!
You can usually see this in the ceilings and areas around water sources. Sometimes it is around windows. If you detect water marks (think of a carpet under a water fountain in a building) then you need to put your investigative hat on and figure out if it is a big deal or not — and most likely, it will be a bigdeal.
The evidence of water damage can be easy to see, and sometimes it hides and continues to affect surfaces and your health until it becomes a serious issue. If you have any water damage issues or questions, do the right thing. Call your favorite water damage professional company today. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Getting Ready for Weather
For many across the country — and the world — changes in weather patterns, especially from warmer weather to colder weather, means preparing the home for the inevitable intrusion of wind, rain, and more.
What does that involve? One would be weatherproofing, which means you are proactive in protecting your home from suffering from damage. Even a small freezing-cold draft entering a home and affecting a pipe can freeze it and cause it to burst, resulting in a water damage situation.
Here are some easy time-saving tips to ensure you not only save money on your gas or electric bill but also minimize the risk of damage to your home in very cold weather.
This means start looking for openings — any openings — in your home that can allow air or water intrusion.
For air intrusion, check around doors and windows, and this is pretty easy if you just hold a facial tissue up around potential cracks and crevices. If there is any type of air leak, the tissue move and show that.
For possible water intrusion, look for water stains in basements, around windows, any place that seems possible for water to enter your home. Plug any openings you find with quality materials.
Filters and vents
You want the maximum efficiency from your furnace system so change all filters on a regular basis, usually monthly.
Now might be a good time for a professional inspection of your duct work and having the ducts cleaned, if they are soiled.
Replace old weatherproofing
All your doors and windows should have weatherproofing material. With time and weather factors, these weatherproofing strips can and will age and become brittle and fail.
Purchase quality replacement weatherproofing materials and replace them if you notice they are not providing an air-tight seal. It’s not a bad idea to replace them every few years no matter how they appear.
Prevent to protect
With a thorough inspection and a little work on your home, you can prevent issues from arising during cold weather. Spend the time to do it right.
However, if something bad does occur — it happens! — and you suffer from any type of damage to your home, do the right thing and get professional help right away. Call your favorite restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
When Insurance Fails
Devastating pipe breaks, failing sump pumps, a smoky kitchen fire, the roof leaking from damage from high winds… no one wants to deal with anyof that.
But it does happen, and when it does, you probably do what is natural – you pick up the phone and call your insurance company, most likely your insurance agent, who may direct you to anyone from a central call center to handle your claim, an insurance adjuster, or perhaps to a local disaster restoration contractor they know.
And then the fun begins.
You aren’t sure yet if you have coverage, because the insurance company is dragging its feet. The adjuster isn’t able to come out for a few days, something you can’t believe. You worry, fret, and wonder if the damage to your home will be covered, and if you will have to pay for some (or all?) of the damage. You know you have to cover the deductible, and that’snot cheap.
The work begins. Everyone is in a hurry because if the damage isn’t fixed right away, other issues will surface. The restoration contractor does what he is trained to do, and the work progresses nicely, and eventually all is well again at home.
A few days late, the adjuster shows up. And he delivers a devastating blow. While you have coverage, the cost to repair the damage is more than the insurance company feels is fair, so they will only pay a percentageof the costs. The rest? You have to pay for that yourself.
What can you do?
One thing is to get another opinion. Hiring an independent insurance adjuster to review the job, all the paperwork, and your insurance policy might shed light on the issue and give you more info you need.
Depending on the new information you receive, you can revisit the issue with your insurance company. Taking this information to the insurance adjuster who you are battling with probably won’t do much good. It’s time to go over his head, as the saying goes.
If the difference between the costs of repairs and the offer from the insurance company is high enough, you can also consider a claim to the state entity (such as the insurance commissioner) that has authority and power to help. Many claim to be subject to bad business practices. You might be advised to hire an attorney, all which will cost you more.
The good news is if you hire the very bestdisaster restoration company, they have the experience to help you deal with all of this. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Triage Tips to Save Contents
The main goal for protecting your home from water damage situations is to prepare and anticipate what can happen.
This means many things, such as keeping your sump pump in good working condition, repairing leaky pipes and dripping faucets, and ensuring that during cold weather your home is snug and tight against intruding freezing temperatures.
But things do happen. Pipes break, spewing water everywhere. Flood waters can enter your home and wreak havoc while you are away. Leaky plumbing fixtures can slowly cause damage and spawn mold growth.
When this occurs, it affects not only the building materials of your home, such as the walls, floors, and ceilings, but the contents as well. You know, the valuables you care so much about. These can be anything from stuffed animals to books to photographs to electronic equipment and more. Even mementos that just can’t be replaced.
If any of this occurs to you and your home, use these tips for best content triage strategies.
Before doing any type of work in your home after a water damage situation, make sure you are safe. This means your electricity and power sources are turned off (if appropriate and the damage warrants this), and water has been extracted or reduced to a minimum level.
Before starting work, and during the work process, take pictures of everything. What you can’t dry and save yourself will no doubt be replaced with insurance dollars. But without proof, you might have a fight on your hands with your insurance company.
When contents get wet, damage is minimal — for now. Get those valuables up off wet surfaces and do what you can to dry them out and set them where they won’t cause more damage and where they can dry. Depending on the items, move them out into the sun for faster drying. Documents, pictures, and other similar valuables will need careful handling and professional care.
There are some items more valuable to you than others, and emotions can get involved. Prioritize what you are going to save. Odd are, if you don’t call a professional restoration company right away, you aren’t going to be able to save everything. Electronics and other valuables may be beyond saving. Don’t waste time on what can’t be saved. That’s what insurance is for.
When you have any type of disaster situations at your home, whether from fire, smoke, floods, or water damage, do the right thing. Contact your favorite disaster restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Storms, floods, water damage, and other issues that can impact you and your family are always a possibility. You want to be prepared as best you can.
But sometimes, disaster strikes. It can be somewhat containable, such as a pipe that breaks while you are home and able to turn off the water. Other times, it can be flood waters entering your home during a storm and creating havoc with all your belongings.
One important category of personal belongings that can become damaged by water (whether clean water, dirty water, or sewage) and that you would think is easy to clean up would be clothing, or garments. Just think of how many items of clothing are in your home. Can be a staggering number.
The cleanup may not be as easy as you think. Consider these quick tips:
The source of damage
Most of your clothing can be saved, but if the damage is from sewage backup or other bio-contaminants, it is best to discard and buy new. While you want to save what you can, think of the health of your family. Anything damaged by sewage or bio-contaminants is best discarded.
Separate and conquer
Another step is to separate your laundry just as you would normally, but also create a category of “heavy soil” — such as clothing heavy with dried mud. Take those items outside and do your best to break off hardened mud and use a garden hose to remove as much as possible after that, and then after drying, launder them as normal. You don’t want to damage your washing machine by using it for muddy clothes.
Now it’s time to get to business with all those dirty clothes. Use quality laundry detergent and an appropriate disinfectant. Use hot water as practical. Here’s a very important tip. Don’t overuse the detergent. You might think because of the soiling that more detergent is best. It’s not. Use what manufacturers recommend and follow directions. If you need more cleaning, just rewash clothes repeatedly. A repeat washing continues to flush out soils.
Be safe, be smart
As you can see, tackling storm or water damaged clothing can be intensive, and we have only touched the basics here. Often, your damaged belongings are covered by insurance. Check with your insurance carrier. But for all restoration work, no matter the situation, do the smart thing. Call a water damage restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Drying out Water Damaged Papers
With the arrival and impact of electronic devices, such as smartphones and tablets, many have given up their favorite pastime of reading paper newspapers and books. But if you look around your home, you may still find plenty of books, documents, and valuable paper products that you prefer over the electronic variety — or that you just can’t get rid of.
Many of these items end up in the basement or other storage areas, and just when you least expect it, can become damaged from moisture, a broken pipe, flooding from storms, or a failure of your sump pump. Water damage can come from many sources. When that happens, it’s time to dry everything out, and that’s not always easy.
The first step is to wipe off and remove as much excess water that you can, without damaging the paper.
For loose papers, such as documents, lay them out individually on absorbent cloths and then carefully blot. If using paper towels, make sure they are pure white, with no color print on them. Loose papers are fairly straightforward to dry. Some air movement from a small fan can help the drying process. After drying, you can compress the papers to flatten them out.
For books, very carefully open the covers of each book, and stand your books upright on a stack of several, absorbent pure white paper towels. Place several layers of absorbent towels inside the covers, and gently close them. Allow the towels to pull moisture from the pages; replace them as they get wet, checking frequently. As you progress, carefully open pages, perhaps every 20-30 pages or so, and place more towels or cloths inside those pages, closing the book, allowing moisture to transfer into the towels or cloths. Keep the book on its sideas you do this.
Eventually, as the book dries, you can open the pages, and put the book in front of a fan to continue drying out the pages.
What if you have many books or documents, and they are valuable and must be saved and you don’t have the ability to do it yourself? That’s when it’s time to get some professional help. Put your damaged documents or books in the freezer. It’s now time to contact your favorite disaster restoration company for help. After all, it pays to call a pro!