WHAT TO DO AFTER A FLOOD:

If your home or business has experienced damage from flooding, you need to act fast to save as much as possible. When it comes to flood cleanup, there are some things you can and should do immediately, and other things you’ll need help doing. To ease your stress and guide you through what to do after a flood, the professionals at ServiceMaster Restore® put together a list of five critical flood cleanup tips.

1. CHECK FOR SAFETY HAZARDS

If you have flood insurance, call your insurance agency first to report your flooded home. Then, start to assess the damage. Here are a few questions you should ask to ensure your safety:

Is your home structurally secure? Call the experts for a safety inspection. Water damage can threaten the stability of your home, from its foundations and floors to its supporting beams and ceilings. If the flood water level is significant or you are concerned the structure might collapse, do not risk entering your home.

 Is your power still on? Standing water mixed with electricity puts you at risk for an electrical shock – so don’t proceed without taking a few precautions. If you have safe exterior access to your breaker box, turn off the power before coming into contact with any standing water. If you don’t have access, contact your local power company before going inside. If you’re unsure whether your power is still on, do not enter your house, especially if the water level is above your outlets.

Is there a gas leak? If you smell any gas, do not enter your home. Gas leaks are extremely hazardous and potentially deadly. Alert your utility company right away if you suspect there is a gas leak in your home.

Is the flood water contaminated? Sewage and harmful chemicals often contaminate floodwaters, which can put your health at risk. If you suspect contaminated floodwater, seek help to assess the damage, start the cleanup, and protect your health and belongings.

Related: FLOOD AWARENESS AND PREPAREDNESS TIPS

2. REMOVE ITEMS WITHIN YOUR REACH

When it is safe to return to your home, remove as many items as you can to prevent further damage. Even items not in immediate contact with water can be damaged by increased humidity and moisture after a flood. The faster you remove items, the more likely they can be repaired or restored. Take particular care removing electronics – they too can create electric shock if powered up or plugged in, yet they are often the items you want to save most. Do not attempt to remove submerged electronics unless they are unplugged and your power is off. Dry any recovered items completely to prevent mold growth and water damage, then store in a secure, dry area. The sooner you call us, the sooner we can send a team out to help you recover as many items as possible.

3. EXTRACT WATER AND PREVENT MOLD

Depending on how high the water level is and whether you have carpets, you can attempt water extraction on your own or call in flood damage restoration specialists. If attempting to remove the water yourself, rent a wet vacuum or submersible pump and remove as much of the water as you possibly can. To prevent mold growth, it’s absolutely critical to keep the humidity level as low as possible while you dry your home and furnishings. Open as many windows as you can and run fans and dehumidifiers to increase the ventilation around your house and accelerate the drying process. We can exponentially accelerate the drying process by bringing in our specialized drying equipment.

4. CLEAN, SANITIZE AND RESTORE

Once water damaged areas have dried out, including wood beams, carpets, and drywall, you must clean and sanitize the surfaces to avoid toxic mold growth, infection, and disease. All carpeting and upholstery need to be thoroughly cleaned and dried, as well, including carpet padding and cushions. Carefully wash and sanitize anything touched by floodwaters. You’ll need different techniques and approaches to clean floors, countertops, carpets and furniture, clothes, and personal belongings. Some items may be beyond saving and should be replaced. Once your home is dry, assess the level of damage to prioritize what gets cleaned and what gets replaced. We are able to thoroughly sanitize to prevent any mold growth, as well as remediate any mold that is already present.

5. KEEP A RUNNING INVENTORY

Keep a careful record of all damages, including pictures, videos, and any estimates and receipts for restoration or repairs. You’ll need these items for any insurance claims (this is something we are happy to help with as well!). Flood Cleanup and Expert Guidance ServiceMaster Restore® is by your side with our genuine commitment to getting you safely and effectively from crisis to resolution after a flood. If your home is flooded and you need guidance and expertise, call the professional water damage repair experts at ServiceMaster Restore® as soon as possible to handle the initial assessment, water extraction, and drying. We provide written estimates every step of the way and have technologically advanced tools to ensure proper flood cleanup. ServiceMaster Restore® also offers document restoration, electronics recovery, carpet cleaning, and mold remediation services to save your home and as many of your memories as possible after a flood. It’s never easy to clean up after a flood, but it’s easier with help from the experienced professionals at ServiceMaster Restore®.

HOW TO PREVENT A WATER HEATER FAILURE

Imagine waking up to a strange sound. You walk through your home, searching for the source of the popping, hissing, humming, or rumbling noises. With further inspection, you realize the sound is coming from straight from your water heater. What do you do? If you want to avoid the damage and headache that comes with a water heater failure, learn the signs that your water heater is failing, how to turn it off if you suspect a problem, and what you should do if it does end up breaking.

WHAT CAUSES A WATER HEATER TO BREAK?

Whether gas or electric, water heaters typically last 10-13 years – if you pay attention to them. Sometimes, a water heater will start leaking near the supply lines, and if you don’t correct the leak, it could not only damage your surrounding floor and drywall but also lead to corrosion and failure. Other common causes of water heater failure are internal rust, sediment buildup, and high water pressure. Improper sizing can also cause your water heater to burst unexpectedly, leaving you with a huge, expensive mess.

HOW CAN I KEEP MY WATER HEATER FROM BREAKING?

As with any appliance, frequent inspection can make your water heater last longer. Set an annual reminder to check for moisture or pooling water around the water heater, and tighten any loose fittings you find. If you see signs of water or mold damage, call the experts at ServiceMaster immediately. The faster you fix the issue, the less damage and cleanup you’ll have.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I THINK MY WATER HEATER MIGHT BREAK?

First thing’s first – turn it off. If you notice any signs that your water heater is about to burst, including any strange noises, immediately shut it off. If it’s a gas water heater, twist the dial on the top of the thermostat from the ON to the OFF position. If it’s an electric heater, switch the circuit breaker to the OFF position.

AFTER YOU TURN OFF YOUR WATER HEATER:

  • Turn off the water supply. Turn the water valve located on your water heater clockwise until it stops. If it doesn’t move or turn off, shut off your home’s main water supply.
  • Drain your water heater. Attach a hose to the drain valve at the bottom of your water heater’s tank. Run the other end of the hose to a lower area where you can drain dirty water without risking more damage. Then, open the drain valve. You may need to use a screwdriver or another tool to open it.
  • Open the pressure relief valve. Flip the relief valve handle to prevent a vacuum from forming while the water heater drains. Be careful – the water may be hot.
  • Rinse with cold water. After your water heater is finished draining, open the water supply for a few minutes to flush any remaining sediment out of the water heater.

Even if you think your water heater is in good condition, you should drain and refill it once a year as part of your regular water heater maintenance to keep it working properly and efficiently. Simply follow the steps above, and then close the relief and drain valves and turn the water supply back on to refill it.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY WATER HEATER BREAKS?

If your water heater is broken, find a professional to assess the problem right away. If your water heater has burst or you know there’s water or mold damage to the area, call the experts at ServiceMaster Restore®. Our water damage services are available 24/7/365 to ensure you get the help you need, right when you need it.

DIY MOLD REMOVAL: PROCEED WITH CAUTION

Mold can thrive wherever there’s moisture, which means it’s right at home here in the Pacific Northwest. While you may be tempted to tackle a mold outbreak on your own, it is not a safe nor an easy cleaning process to take on. Between the health dangers involved and the risk of exacerbating the problem, this is a job best left to the professionals. Here are just a few reasons why DIY mold removal can do more harm than good:

Mold is Dangerous to Clean

Indoor mold damage is a threat to the health of everyone who comes in contact with it. Mold spores irritate the respiratory system and can cause symptoms that include sneezing, runny nose, itchy or watery eyes, and aggravation of asthma symptoms. Those with compromised immune systems are especially at risk of illness caused by mold exposure.

When you attempt to clean mold by yourself, you risk not only your own health but also that of those around you. Mold spores can easily become airborne without the right cleaning tools and techniques. With so many severe health threats in play, it’s always best to rely on a professional mold removal service to tackle any mold you encounter in your home or business.

You Don’t Know What is Causing the Mold

The surest way to combat mold is to eliminate the moisture that is allowing it to thrive. Sources of excess moisture can include humidity, leaking pipes and appliances, spills, wetness in bathrooms, and more. You cannot simply clean up the symptoms of a mold outbreak without addressing the cause. A mold remediation company, on the other hand, knows how to diagnose and eliminate the source of the problem, including hidden trouble spots you might easily overlook.

You Don’t Know What Type of Mold You’re Dealing With

Not all types of mold are the same. Some are more dangerous and difficult to clean than others, and only a professional mold inspection and testing service can accurately determine the type and severity of a given outbreak. You may be able to detect mold growth visually or by the musty aroma that it gives off, but knowing how to eradicate the problem takes expert equipment and methods. Mold spores must be sent to a lab to be identified, and not all types of mold react to the same cleaning agents. In the case of a particularly dangerous growth such as toxic black mold, the last thing you want to do is exacerbate the problem by failing to adequately get rid of it.

You Cannot Eliminate the Entire Problem

On that note, it’s vital to understand that many DIY mold removal methods can not only fail to fully eliminate a mold problem, but can even make them worse. Oftentimes, mold will eventually return if painted over, sprayed with bleach or non-commercial mold-killing agents, or scrubbed with simple soap and water. What you risk doing in these instances is disturbing mold spores and sending them airborne, which triggers health dangers and only helps the mold spread. Mold is stubborn, which is why a professional mold remediation company is really your best defense when an outbreak occurs.

With decades of experience in identifying and eliminating mold at homes and businesses of all sizes, ServiceMaster Restore® has the know-how and equipment necessary to tackle even the toughest of mold challenges. If you believe you have mold in your home or business, contact us to discuss a customized mold remediation plan to stop the problem in its tracks, before it gets worse. With not only the appearance of your building but also health on the line, this is definitely a job you’ll be glad to leave to the experts.

Mold or Mildew – How Do You Know?

Mold growth is more likely than mildew in your house

Mold on interior wall.

As a young parent, one morning I pulled back the curtain in my baby’s newly decorated nursery to find black furry spots covering the window frame. The question of mold or mildew did not apply here; this was definitely mold growing undetected on the wood frame of a damp single pane window. The warmth of the sun on the window and moisture from my too-frequent use of a humidifier provided its favorite conditions. It couldn’t have been happier.

I was staring in disgusted shock at what is commonly referred to as “black mold” (Stachybotrys Chartarum).  But not every patch of mold or mildew encountered is so easily identified. There are in fact thousands of types of mold in the United States and hundreds of thousands of types worldwide.

Mold grows on dead organic materials

Heavy mold growing in wallboard.
Drywall contains cellulose, a plant fiber, which is a favorite food for mold.

The difference between mold and mildew is best determined by the substance on which it grows. A general rule of thumb makes for easy determination:  mold grows on dead materials that were once alive. These materials include wooden framing or sheathing in the attic, drywall under the sink, underneath bathroom vinyl or just about anywhere in your home. It can grow on dead leaves in a crawl space, leather furniture left sitting on a damp carpet and even on natural fibers such as cotton and wool garments.

Powdery mildew on the other hand, generally grows on living organisms – plants. Powdery mildew looks like its name: it has a white appearance and spreads in a flat pattern. It’s not typically found indoors except on houseplants.

Mold and mildew growth should not be allowed in your home

Mold growth discovered on wall and floor after moving appliance.
It’s possible to have mold growing behind cupboards and appliances and not be aware of its presence.

Of course, whether it’s mold or mildew isn’t usually critical to determine. Both have the same undesirable characteristics of maturing to the point of releasing viable spores. When these spores are inhaled, they may cause negative effects on those allergic to the substances they emit. Both will spread if proper conditions continue. And both should be removed to maintain the health and integrity of your home. Click here to read more about mold’s effects on your home and health.

Mold requires specialized cleaning techniques

Crew member in hazmat suit applying mold serum to interior sheeting
Large areas of mold removal require professional equipment and safety gear.

For more information on mold and how to clean mold yourself, The Centers for  Disease Control and Prevention provides excellent information. Or, if you already know you have a bigger job than you can handle and are wondering how much it costs to get mold removed, contact us. We are mold and mildew removal experts.

If it is necessary to determine the type of mold or mildew present in your home, or how to test for mold toxicity, ServiceMaster by Roth can help. Contact us.