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.

KITCHEN FIRE CLEANUP AND PRECAUTIONS

Your kitchen is a hub of daily activity. It’s a place to nourish your family, entertain friends, and even retreat for a secret midnight snack. The kitchen is the heart of any home, which is why a kitchen fire can be especially devastating. Even a small fire has the potential to cause significant damage and interrupt your daily routine. The most important thing during a fire is to protect yourself and those who depend on you. Plan and practice your fire safety plan regularly. After the fire is contained, use these tips from the experts at ServiceMaster Restore to stay safe, clean up, and get the heart of your home healthy again.

  1. Take Precautions

Even small kitchen fires can have unforeseen consequences. Follow the advice of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) (PDF) to stay safe. Even if the damage doesn’t look severe, you should have professionals check for damages in areas you can’t readily see, including the electrical system, gas lines, and ductwork. Once the fire department or safety inspector confirms it’s safe to enter your kitchen, wear gloves, masks, pants, long sleeves, and boots to prevent injuries and the transfer of grease, smoke, ash, or soot.

  1. Assess the Damage

Before moving or cleaning any items, take pictures of all the damage. Capture details and keep lists of anything impacted to support any insurance claims you make. Call your insurance company, and file your claim immediately. Your insurance provider may want to send an agent out to assess the cost of necessary repairs. Avoid cleaning or repairing damages until your insurance company completes its evaluation and says you can move forward.

  1. Tackle the Cleaning

Expansive or challenging fire damage should be handled by professionals who have the tools, processes, and experience to restore your kitchen safely, quickly and effectively. That said, there are some ways to clean up after a kitchen fire that are less likely to make the problem worse or put you in harm’s way. You should:

  • Always wear protective gear when cleaning up after a fire
  • Avoid eating or drinking around hazardous materials
  • Open windows to ventilate the area and let smoke and odors escape
  • Remove salvageable, valuable, and meaningful items first
  • Throw out debris and unsalvageable items
  • Remove kitchen cabinets and drawers to access the interior space
  • Wipe down stainless steel appliances and other metallic surfaces
  • Clean plastic and painted surfaces using an alkaline (soap-free) detergent
  • Change your air filters

Cleaning requirements will vary depending on the source and severity of the fire. Smoke and soot particles that pass through your vents can attach to fabrics and surfaces anywhere in your home – not just in the kitchen. If sprinklers went off during the fire, you’ll also need to mitigate water damage to prevent mold growth. If you aren’t sure what to consider, or need help cleaning up after a kitchen fire, call the professionals at ServiceMaster Restore. Our experienced teams are available 24/7/365 with the advanced tools and proven processes you need to get your home and life back to normal as soon as possible after any disaster.