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.

TOP CAUSES OF WATER DAMAGE AT HOME AND HOW YOU CAN PREVENT THEM

Water damage can happen at any time. From plumbing leaks to faulty or broken appliances, water overflow has the potential to cause some serious damage, especially if it’s not taken care of right away. In order to reduce common risks like mold growth, foundational issues, and flooding caused by water damage, use these tips from ServiceMaster Restore to effectively maintain your fixtures and appliances.

BROKEN OR LEAKING PIPES

Leaking or broken water pipes are among the most common causes of water damage to a home. If a pipe ruptures in your home, serious water damage can occur. Sometimes, all it takes is a change in water pressure or freezing temperatures to cause pipes to burst. Even a minor dripping leak can lead to substantial water damage over time. However, not all water damage is visible. Plumbing or drain damage can often be unseen and can go unnoticed within the walls of your home, or in areas that are not highly trafficked.

To guard against leaks, inspect your home often for signs of leaking pipes. Early moisture detection can prevent more extensive damage down the line. If a pipe does burst, call a professional immediately. Early moisture detection can prevent more extensive damage down the line. If you suspect there may be an unseen leak, there are some signs of water damage to watch out for. This includes listening at night for any sounds of dripping water and looking out for water rings or stains. If a pipe does burst and there is considerable damage to your home, call a water damage professional to ensure that the proper steps are taken to restore your property to normal.

WATER OVERFLOW

Forgetting to turn off the sink or tub faucet can lead to a soggy problem fast. Water overflow caused by sinks or toilets can wreck flooring and carpeting- and even break through a downstairs ceiling if ignored long enough. If not completely cleaned up and restored right away, you may also experience permanently damaged wood and mold growth. Remember to always keep an eye on running faucets. To ensure your toilets don’t overflow, know how to turn off the water supply on each toilet at the valve located on the wall.

If you’re unable to reach your faucet or the taps won’t close, turn off the main water supply lines to your home to avoid further damage. If the damage is minor, you can call a plumber and a repairman to help fix the issue and the related minor damage, but extensive damage may require calling a water damage restoration expert. Acting quickly is key to avoid costly damage to your home and belongings.

FAULTY HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES

Malfunctioning and clogs can cause appliances to leak. A dishwasher leak, for instance, can cause water damage to cabinetry and lead to warped wood or mold growth. Refrigerators may have a clogged pipe or leaking defrost pan that needs to be addressed. Likewise, washing machines and HVAC units can become worn with time and start to leak unless they’re regularly maintained.

The fact is, if there is water where you can see it, there is very likely water where you can’t. That’s where the serious water damage can occur. If your dishwasher or other appliance has a leak, clean up the leakage as quickly as possible and have your appliance repaired or replaced. Calling a professional for regular maintenance is the first step to preventing water damage to your home. If the leakage is extensive, you’ll need to call emergency mitigation services to ensure that the water flow is stopped and the damage is contained and restored.

CLOGGED GUTTERS

Gutters are meant to direct water away from your home during a severe storm. A clogged gutter can cause water to overflow and slowly seep into your property through roof leaks, damaged siding, or a damaged foundation. Periodic cleaning is important to ensure that your gutters are free of any debris. Twice a year, take the time to remove any leaves, twigs, seedpods, and other blockage from your gutters. A gutter specialist is recommended, but if you’re planning on cleaning your own gutters, follow proper safety precautions.

SEWAGE BACKUPS

Sewer backups are either caused by brutal storms or tree roots blocking your home’s pipes. Both of these instances can lead to catastrophic water overflow, especially if you aren’t able to act fast.

To guard against the risk of tree roots blocking your pipes, have a sewer expert clean out your sewer line every other year. While you can’t combat a storm, we recommend contacting your insurance agent to discuss which homeowner policy can protect you against water damage caused by sewer backups.

PREVENT LONG-LASTING EFFECTS FROM WATER DAMAGE

Even with the best precautions, it can be difficult to guard against all the causes of water damage in the home. If damage does occur because of plumbing leaks or water overflow, call on ServiceMaster Restore to act fast and restore your home back to normal. Our experts will analyze your damage and create a unique, comprehensive restoration plan to get your home up and running as soon as possible.

DIY: REMOVING WATER FROM BASEMENT

 

After a heavy rain, flood, or burst pipe, you may be in a situation where you need to remove standing water from your basement. There are some important things to take into consideration and only a short amount of time. Here are some tips to ensure you know what to do if disaster were to strike.

With a lot on the line, we recommend contacting a professional water damage restoration service when you have water in your basement. Experts at ServiceMaster Restore® know how to clean up a flooded basement with the right safety measures and equipment to do the job properly.

Immediate Steps After a Basement Flood

  • Turn off the power. When your basement fills with water, the first thing to do is safely turn off energy sources around the area. This includes electricity and gas. If you can’t do this without going through standing water, stay safe and leave it to a professional.
  • Wear boots and gloves. It is wise to assume that floodwater can be tainted with sewage or other pollutants. You should keep clear of the area, but if you have to go near the basement for something, cover up. Use waterproof boots and gloves to protect your skin from anything harmful in the water..
  • Call your insurance company. Homeowners’ policies typically don’t cover natural floods, so check with your insurance provider to see what your coverage is. If you live in an area where flooding from natural disasters is common, you should consider adding flood insurance to your policy. Remember – it’s never good to find out after the fact that you don’t have adequate insurance.

Dangers of a Flooded Basement

There are a number of dangers associated with DIY basement water removal. The average homeowner can easily get in over their head in trying to figure out how to remove water from a basement. Because of this, we always recommend letting the experts take care of any flooding/water damage you may be facing. We know what to do with a flooded basement to mitigate damage as much as possible and help keep you safe. However, if you ever are dealing with a flood, these are some possible hazards to be aware of:

  • Graywater or blackwater. This is ground water or rain that swells up and seeps into basements. It’s full of ground pollutants, biological agents, bacteria and other hazards to your health. Unclean graywater or blackwater can cause serious illness and must be cleaned up carefully.
  • Electric shock. Submerged appliances or outlets in your basement pose a risk of severe electric shock or even death. Never wade into water where there might be live electricity.
  • Structural rot. Drywall, insulation, and beams weaken more and more as they remain underwater, putting the very structure of your home at risk. Only professionals have the right equipment to fully dry out your basement and prevent potentially catastrophic damage from occurring.
  • Buckling walls. Walls can buckle when pressure in the surrounding soil builds up due to over-saturation and inadequate drainage. An expert will be able to spot the warning signs.

If you experience flooding in your basement, don’t let a DIY job put your health and the well-being of your home at risk. Instead, contact the experts at ServiceMaster Restore. We’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to handle disasters large and small. When a flood happens, your best bet is to have professionals on-site as quickly as possible, so your home can be properly restored.

DOES RENTERS INSURANCE COVER WATER DAMAGE?

 

 

 

Renters insurance helps protect you and your belongings when you’re renting an apartment, house or other living space. Rates for renters insurance vary by company and also range in price depending on the amount of coverage purchased, the deductible amount and the type of coverage selected. While many renters focus on coverage for belongings if their rental is burglarized, it’s also important to consider coverage for water damage.

Does Renters Insurance Cover Water Damage?

A basic renters insurance policy may provide coverage for personal property losses caused by the following:

  • Windstorm or hail
  • Weight of sleet, snow and/or ice
  • Smoke
  • Fire and/or lightning
  • Explosions
  • Freezing of plumbing systems
  • Fire sprinkler failure/accidental discharge
  • Accidental or sudden discharge of water from a plumbing system or other appliance

This list will vary depending on the insurance company and the policy purchased by the individual renter. It’s a good idea to check your policy before damage happens to ensure you have the scope of coverage that’s right for you. When damage does occur, for example, if a pipe breaks under your sink and floods the kitchen, in most cases your landlord would be responsible to repair the broken pipes and any structural damage. You would be responsible for repairing or replacing any damaged personal property. If something like this happens, call your property manager immediately and then place a call to your renter’s insurance agent to make sure your personal property is covered.

How ServiceMaster Restore Can Help

When your furniture and other personal belongings suffer water damage, look to the professionals at ServiceMaster Restore for safe, thorough water damage cleanup and restoration of your personal belongings. We’re here for you, whether it’s to clean your rugs and upholstered furniture or to provide pack-out services.

RESIDENTIAL FIRE & WATER DAMAGE RESTORATION SERVICE

In the event of a house fire, countless gallons of water can be poured into your home. Water damage as a side effect from fire-fighting can be devastating to your floors, walls, possessions and even the structure of your house. At ServiceMaster Restore, we respond immediately using advanced equipment and techniques to remove water quickly.

Remember, the faster you get water extraction services, the less flood damage you’ll have in your home. So when the unforeseen happens, call in the experts at ServiceMaster Restore right away.