Author - Reynaldo Rolo

Dealing with Water Damage After a Hurricane

Hurricane season is in full swing throughout Florida and the Caribbean and it’s important for homeowners to know what to do and how to handle any damage to their home caused by the storms. As South Florida and the Caribbean braces itself for Hurricane Matthew, residents will be boarding up windows and stocking up on essentials. There’s plenty of literature out there on what to do before a hurricane, yet many homeowners still won’t know what to do after storm damage occurs on their property.

Tropical storms alone can cause billions in losses and damaged property, let alone a much more powerful hurricane. While some of the damage may come from storm winds, it is more often the water damage inflicted by flash floods, heavy rainfall and storm surge in coastal areas that tends to wreak the most havoc on a property. Water damage is often the culprit that causes the biggest insurance claim headaches for homeowners or the biggest losses, sometimes. It’s important to handle it carefully and correctly to ensure that your property is protected and salvaged.

Insurance Coverage

Many homeowners’ insurances won’t cover what they consider to be flood damage. Flood damage is often the type of water damage inflicted by storm surge. It would be in your best interest, especially if you live in a coastal area, to have flood insurance specifically. Even if you don’t live directly on the coast, storm surge can go miles inland, backing up rivers, lakes and other bodies of water, thus causing widespread flooding. In places that are high-risk and prone to floods, tropical storms and hurricanes, like Florida, many residential lenders actually require homeowners to carry flood insurance.

When preparing to file an insurance claim on a property that has sustained a hurricane or storm, first gather this information:

  • Is the type of damage your home or property sustained is covered?
  • Does the damage exceed the deductible on your policy?
  • How long will it take to process the claim?
  • How long you have to file the claim?
  • Will you need to get estimates for the repairs?
  • What possessions and property have been damaged or need to be replaced? It would be a good idea to take inventory of this and make a list with dollar amounts assigned to each item before filing your claim.

Take Precautions When Heading Back Home After a Storm

If you are heading back to your home after a hurricane, remember to approach your home with extreme caution. Keep an eye out for fallen power lines on or around your home; if there are any, let the local power company know right away. Once inside, (if it’s safe to enter) shut the power off from the main circuit breaker or fuse box to avoid an electrical hazard. Avoid standing water at all costs, as this is a major hazard after a hurricane. It could be hiding debris, broken glass, fecal matter or other bio-hazards due to broken pipes and sewage spills. Downed power lines or frayed, live wires in the water could cause electrocution.

If your home might be unstable or you are unsure about the severity of the damage, it might be best to wait for professional help to show up and handle the clean up instead of risking your own safety. Apart from the safety factor, it will be in your best interest to allow an adjuster to take inventory of all the damage so that your insurance claim is complete and all your losses are accounted for accurately. If any repairs are done on the property and paid for already, you’ll want to save receipts or invoices to make sure those repairs are covered by your insurance.

Cleanup

When it comes to cleaning up after a hurricane, it can be difficult to fight the urge to go in and start cleaning up yourself. It can feel like it’s an easy enough task and that you’d be wasting time when you could be fixing and replacing things. Even though it can be nerve wrecking to wait, it’s often the best idea to allow professional help to show s sup and handle it. Just as the power company will be called to come out and take care of downed power lines, so will a professional restoration company come out, assess the damage and begin formulating the game plan to repair it.

The insidious nature of water damage requires immediate action if you want the best chance of preventing more damage and salvaging the property. Take reasonable steps to protect your property from sustaining further damage. This might include protecting or patching up broken windows so as to keep the elements from getting in; it might also include protecting the roof, as this is where more water would pour in from directly, especially if there are residual rain showers lurking around, adding insult to injury.

South Florida based company Liberty Extraction and Drying offers free roof tarp installation services to help stop any more water from leaking into your home or property. One less thing to worry about here will be the bill, as this company bills the insurance company directly so that you pay exactly zero dollars out of pocket and show that you are taking action to help prevent further damage from being incurred on the property you insured.

They also specialize in extracting the water and moisture as well as thoroughly drying out your property. They use advanced technologies and drying methods to fully dry the property and thus preventing mold from forming and causing further damage to your property and health. Lastly, this is a service that won’t keep you waiting and wishing you could jump in and do it yourself; they boast an impressive 5 minute response time across South Florida. Not only does this help ease your worries but more importantly, it will keep more water from getting in, mold from forming or multiplying and ultimately, more damage from occurring.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, after a hurricane, you’ll want to be two things: speedy with the reaction time and careful across the board. Be meticulous and cautious as you assess the damage, attempt to clean or repair and as you collect inventory of your losses. Be speedy with the action; the longer your property or possession stay wet, the less chance you have of salvaging it.

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5 Things to Check Before Leasing a Commercial Space

If you’re in the market for a commercial space to lease, you’ve likely been reading up on what to look for. From finding the right broker to finding the right amount of square footage to the appropriate zoning for the type of business you’ll be conducting, there’s plenty to think about when deciding on where to run your business.

While some of the more obvious aspects to consider might be crossed off your list, like rent, the location, who will be paying for what, the stipulations of your leasing contract, and more, it’s important to leave no stone unturned all the way until you get those keys in hand. This will help you foresee and avoid any potential problems in your day to day workflow, identify any repairs that need to be done in the space before you take occupancy and it will allow you to allocate the work expense to the appropriate party (you as the tenant or the landlord,) detailed in the lease.

One of the make-or-break moments where many tenants drop the ball and end up creating headaches for themselves later on is during the walk-through. Before you sign that lease, you’ll need to make a note of some very important details that will affect the ergonomic functionality and even the safety of your business, within the terms of its day to day operations.

Electric Wiring Check

Another essential aspect to running your business smoothly will be the electrical aspects. Check the space for sufficient and well placed electrical outlets. Inspect static light fixtures and look for any broken, frayed or otherwise damaged electrical cables in or leading out of the building.

Data Connectivity

In today’s business world, everyone relies heavily on internet connection no matter what their business model consists of. Unfortunately, internet capacity isn’t equal across the board and can often vary widely from building to building. The location you’re considering might be a dream space, flaunting a cool look, great price and whatever else you’re hoping for, but if internet providers do not offer high speed internet in that area, you’ll be setting yourself up for some major setbacks and frustrations.

Slow loading, excessive buffering times and frequent internet drops could translate to hundreds of lost dollars and eventually, lost customers, regardless of the nature of your business. Ask the landlord, check with providers or even interview neighboring business owners to be sure your new commercial space is up to speed.

Plumbing Inspections

Unless you happen to also have plumbing expertise yourself, you likely won’t have the in-depth know how and insight to fully inspect a premises for proper plumbing layout. You can, however, focus your attention to certain things that will reveal whether or not the plumbing deserves a closer look from a professional. Make sure all faucets and toilets are in good working order, with no water pressure issues.

Looking under cabinets or places where pipes are found may reveal cracks or signs of water damage that point to previous or current leaks. You can always hire a plumber that has no stake in the deal to do a walk-through with you and point out any possible issues before you sign the lease.

Mold Inspections

One huge problem that could arise, if not detected before moving in, is mold. The undetected presence of mold in a commercial space could reveal damage to the property later on that you will be blamed for and expected to pay for. It could also result in penalization for building code violations, legal issues from employees or customers who may be affected by breathing in the mold, and an overall blow to the image of your business if customers start detecting the mold when they visit your establishment. All of these possibilities translate to dollars lost and serious harm to your business.

A business with toxic mold can lead to serious problems, even high profile lawsuits that will inevitably shut down the business. It is imperative that a commercial space be inspected by a certified professional prior to the lease signing; the professional will point out if there is mold, the type, and the level of damage it may have caused. It is then crucial to have mold remediation performed properly, also by a certified mold remediation company, to rectify the problem.

Acoustics & Shared Walls

Unforeseen by many commercial tenants, one potential disruptor of day to day operations is noise; depending on the nature of your business, the acoustics of a space could have a large impact on your team’s efficiency. Make sure the room you select as a sales office does not echo. This will eliminate any communication issues on calls with potential clients and, if there are multiple sales people in one room, it will keep calls from getting mixed up with each other.

Also, be sure to check out who you share walls with; if your business is a spa, for example, that calls for a relaxing, quiet space and shares a thin wall with a recording or dance studio, you may run into serious problems in the future.

While you may be eager to move into your new commercial space and it may seem tedious to go through all these additional checks, taking the extra time to inspect these aspects thoroughly, with the help of professionals, can end up saving you countless hours, dollars, and headaches down the road.

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Water Damage Restoration FAQ

Taking instant action is crucial when dealing with water damage. Water damage can occur due to many reasons such as a pipe leakage, overflowing toilet, leaky roof, sewer blockage, and storms. The extent of the damage may be small or it may be so extensive that the house becomes inhabitable. No matter what is the cause or extent of water damage, you must call a specialist water damage restoration firm to fix the problem.

We have compiled frequently asked questions about water damage restoration that will help you in taking appropriate actions in case of water damage to your home.

Water Damage Q&A

Why Should I be Concerned about Water Damage?

Water damage can cause serious problems for the property owners. It can cause long-term property damage if not removed immediately. This may also depreciate property values. In addition, water damage may result in mold infestation that poses a significant health risk to the individuals in the form of increase in respiratory problems.

Should I Contact my Insurance Company in case of Water Damage?

Yes. The home insurance usually covers new roof leaks, plumbing problems, or overflowing toilet. An insurance company representative will assess the water damaged home and provide information about the procedure to claim the insurance. The representative will also inform you whether the claim will cover the cost of water damage restoration.

p>Home insurance contracts include a section known as ‘loss mitigation clause’ that require homeowner to take prudent and responsible action to protect, preserve, and secure the property from further damage. That is why it’s important that you contact a professional water restoration specialist immediately. You may have to assume financial responsibility of damage incurred due to not taking appropriate action within a reasonable period.

Will the house flooring, walls, and/or ceiling have to be demolished to fix water damage?

Due to advances in drying technology, little or no demolition will take place to fix the problem that occurs due to water damage. However, demolition may be necessary in case the flooding occurs due to contaminated sewer water that has seeped through the walls, floors, and ceilings.

Why does the house smell after the water damage?

Excessive moisture due to water damage results in formation of bacteria in the wet building materials. The smell will subside after the building materials dry out.

How is it possible to know whether the home has dried out or not?

A trained technician can tell just by the smell when the home has dried out completely. However, in order to verify that the building has dried down, the water damage restoration experts utilize specialized equipment such as temperature/humidity meters, Infrared cameras, and non-penetrating and penetrating moisture meters. The technology ensures that the house is again restored to its pre-loss condition.

Is standard procedure followed in restoring water damaged houses?

Yes, water restoration experts follow ANSI/IICRC S500 standard for water restoration. The licensed and trained technicians know standard procedures that are followed when restoring the water damaged home. They attend specialized training sessions to update their knowledge about the latest water damage standard procedure.

What steps are required in water damage restoration?

The general process involved in restoring water damage property includes the following:

  • Extraction of water from the home
  • Installation of equipment for accelerated drying
  • Demolition if required and necessary
  • Assessment and monitoring of condition using specialized equipment
  • Documentation of process

Note: The exact procedure that is used in water damage restoration varies depending on the type and extent of damage to the property.

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3 Ways the Restoration Industry is Changing and What You Need to Know

Over the past 5 years alone, the restoration industry has gone through massive change. The industry itself is only a few decades old. Very recently however, industry standards, insurance companies, regulation and science and research have been influencing what a restoration company should look like today and in the near future.

1. Not all restoration jobs are created equal.

Many old or inexperienced restoration companies will still use the same methods on every job no matter how easy or complex the job is. To service your Honda, you may take it to the local mechanic down the street, but if you drive a Tesla or Prius, it may call for a different type of mechanic. If you apply the methods and procedures you would normally use on a residential job to a large multi-floor commercial loss, you probably won’t restore the property properly or you will take a very long time to do so.

The Restoration Industry is Changing!

Many restoration companies think they can get away with dropping some fans and turning on a few dehumidifier and call it a day. This may work on a small property by pure accident, but it won’t work in a large warehouse that may require a large industrial desiccant.

Depending on something as simple as how dirty the water loss is radically change the way the job should be handled. Some losses are clean water from a pressure line leak and can require simple drying methods with very little to no tear out at all depending on the materials affected. However, when a water loss emanates from a sewer line or from a flood outside, affected materials should almost always be discarded and cut out. There’s even a method for categorizing and classifying water losses depending on how dirty water is our the volume of water which has affected an area.

2. Licensing and continuing education is crucial.

“The only thing that is constant is change”
–Heraclitus.

If a restoration company is not investing in licensing and continuing education, they’re probably not changing their methods and principles. Not putting focus towards greater education and updating you knowledge base is potentially disastrous to your clientele and suicide for your business.

There are many certification tracks and training programs to achieve for the business owner, managers, supervisors and employees. By cross training your team in multiple areas such as water extraction, fire and smoke removal, mold testing and mold remediation, you will enrich the synergy between the tiers and hierarchy of your business which will result in better service for your clientele.

Restoration companies that adhere to industry best practices and standards and enrich their team with education will be standing when the dust settles at the end of the day. The IICRC S500 standard guide has gone through 3 editions since 1994 and is almost on its 4th edition! Many restoration companies that have been in business over 20 years aren’t even WRT/ASD certified by the IICRC

3. Insurance companies are catching up

Insurance companies understand how much the restoration industry has changed recently and how fast it’s changing currently. They want to see standards and industry best practices. They want to know that when they pay a restoration bill, they got their money’s worth.

The insurance company is spending millions on performing comparative estimates and training their adjusters. The insurance company wants to be able to look at more than just an invoice – it won’t be sufficient anymore. They expect photos, Infrared thermal imaging, daily dry logs of separate affected areas, moisture mapping, dehumidifier sizing forms, thermal hygrometer readings, etc.

Insurance companies will eventually become experts in this field over the next few years and will put forth intense efforts to apply standards and pressure on the industry to ‘up the ante’. They will weed out the inexperienced and unorganized and it will cost those companies dearly. If your restoration business is heavily reliant upon insurance generated work, you need to raise the bar and make sure you are differentiating yourself from the crowd.

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Why Homeowners Should Never Try to DIY Mold Removal

Whether you’ve had a flood in the home due to a natural disaster, a broken water heater, or some other issue, you could be facing mold damage. Mold develops quickly and thrives easily in wet, damp environments, so when you have water in the home, it’s urgent to get it dried up as quickly as possible. If you start to see mold growth, it can be tempting to try to get rid of it on your own in order to save money. However, that is definitely a mistake. Mold remediation should only be undertaken by skilled experts. Here are a few reasons why homeowners should never try to DIY mold removal:

Proper mold cleanup isn’t easy

While you may find many tips online suggesting that you simply spray mold spots with bleach, this is incorrect and ineffective. Bleach does nothing more than mask the problem. It won’t kill off the existing mold, or prevent it from thriving. Spraying mold with any homemade chemical solution is not enough- in order to ensure proper, complete removal, you need to get rid of the affected area, whether it’s a piece of drywall, carpet padding, floorboards, etc.

The damage could be more extensive

The mold that you see on the surface may only be a small part of a much bigger problem. If you try to spray a spot of mold to remove it, you may actually be missing more extensive spots that spread into walls or floorboards. As a mold remediation expert, I’ve seen many instances where mold is only visible in a small area, but once we begin the remediation process, we find that there’s more than meets the eye. We have the equipment to detect larger areas of mold damage, which then allows us to ensure that we remove it all for a complete, proper cleanup.

DIY Mold Removal can end up costing you more in the long run

Spraying on a chemical solution or cutting out an area of mold may seem like a cost effective and easy way to handle the situation. However, you will probably end up spending more money in the long run to get it taken care of the right way. If you do decide to purchase supplies and equipment, it may be pointless once you do have to call in the experts. We have the tools needed to safely and effectively get rid of mold.

Don’t put your health at risk

Ultimately, it just is not worth it to risk your own health by attempting a DIY mold cleanup. Mold spores can cause breathing and respiratory issues, and once released into the air, your whole home could become contaminated. A skilled mold remediation company has the proper protective and safety gear, as well as the right equipment to ensure that the job is done properly. If you suspect that you have mold damage in your Miami area property, give us a call. We’ll make sure that the mold removal is done correctly so that your home is a healthy place to be.

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What You Need to Know about the Dangers of Mold

When it comes to mold in the home, it’s important to remember that looks can be deceiving. Your home may be clean and well kept, but what’s lurking in the basement, walls, ductwork, floors, or ceilings, could be causing you harm. Mold growth may not always be obvious, but if it’s present in your home, you want to contact a professional mold remediation company. The dangers of mold extend beyond cosmetic issues, as it can be causing serious and sometimes fatal health problems.

Common health issues associated with mold exposure

One of the most obvious and common signs of mold exposure is breathing issues. It can cause asthma attacks, respiratory problems, coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, and shortness of breath, just to name a few. Depending on the severity of the mold growth, you could experience lung infections, wheezing, headaches, muscle aches, etc. It’s nothing to take lightly, and if anyone in the home has a compromised immune system, it could be made much worse. Mold spores spread easily throughout homes, so even if you think that the problem is confined to one area, like the basement, those spores can actually make their way into other areas.

The most likely places for mold to appear

Mold needs moisture to thrive, and it can commonly be found in basements, bathrooms, and kitchens. If you’ve ever had a flood due to inclement weather, or even just a small leak in your plumbing system, you could have mold. That’s why it is so important to call in the experts after experienced flood and water damage, whether it’s from heavy rains, a burst pipe, a damaged roof, or a backed up septic system.

Mold spores can actually be present in the home for a long time before they can start to infest and thrive. We often find mildew in the dampest areas, like in the bathroom, where it can be difficult to keep humidity and moisture levels down. If you notice a musty smell in any area of the home that just won’t go away, there’s a very good chance that mold is growing. It’s not enough to simply mask the smell; you need to make sure that it’s taken care of in order to ensure that the air in your home is as safe and healthy as possible.

When to call in the experts

If you do find mold in your home, you want to call in a professional mold removal expert as soon as possible. Save yourself the time, money, and effort of attempting to clean away the mold on your own. As a professional service, we have the right equipment and the skills needed to get rid of the problem safely. You want to make sure that the mold is completely gone, rather than simply spot treating the area where it’s visible. This can mean removing damaged carpeting, drywall, floorboards, and ceiling tiles. A mold remediation service knows what to look for, and how to go about fixing the problem, once and for all.

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What Happens After a Crime? How Professional Crime Scene Cleanup is Carried Out

One thing that you won’t see on any of those popular crime dramas on TV is the crime scene cleanup that happens after the investigation has begun. Most crime scenes contain biohazard material, which includes blood and other bodily fluids. As you can imagine, this isn’t something that can be taken care of with bleach and a scrub brush. Only a professional service should tackle the task of biohazard remediation.

After a crime or traumatic incident

Once a crime has occurred and been reported to the authorities, law enforcement will come to the scene to gather evidence. When they have completed their work at the scene, then it needs to be cleaned up properly. It’s especially important in public areas.

Traumatic events such as assaults, murders, and suicides need to be cleaned with care. There is often a great deal of blood spilled, and there can be other bodily fluids present, as well. It’s not uncommon for these scenes to have urine and fecal matter. While blood breaks down over time, it’s dangerous in the moments immediately following an incident, since it can contain diseases and blood-borne pathogens. The affected area has to be sanitized according to strict regulations. Hazardous waste also needs to be disposed of properly.

Crime Scene Cleanup Equipment and Cleaning Supplies

Each type of crime scene contains its own set of challenges. They can range from a meth lab to a murder, and a skilled crew needs to be properly protected. This means head to toe safety gear should be worn, which is made out of a non-porous material. Cleaning supplies include heavy duty disinfectants and sanitizers, which are the same type used in hospitals and medical facilities. An enzyme killing solvent will kill off viruses and bacteria. In some cases, carpet cleaning is necessary, and heavy duty deodorizers may be used to eliminate any lingering odors.

The cleanup crew doesn’t always know what they’re dealing with until they arrive at the scene. Depending on the incident that occurred, they may have a very tough task to carry out. They have to be prepared with all of the gear and equipment, since every crime scene is different.

Other biohazard materials

Another task that should only be taken care of by skilled professionals with the proper safety gear is sewage cleanup. If the sewer system has backed up on your property, you probably won’t even want to stick around, due to the smell and the mess. Exposure to raw sewage is hazardous to your health. Call in restoration experts who have the proper protective gear and the necessary equipment to handle the job. It’s far too risky to attempt to deal with it on your own.

Ensuring that a crime scene cleanup or sewage cleanup is carried out correctly is essential. As a restoration expert, I understand the importance of following proper procedures when carrying out this type of work. Make sure that the professional service you choose has the experience, skills, and training to carry out a biohazard cleanup.

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Tips for Dealing with Your Insurance after a House Fire Damage

A house fire can be a devastating experience, and as a fire damage restoration expert, I understand how difficult it can be once the smoke clears and the dust settles. Dealing with insurance just adds to the stress of such a traumatic situation for homeowners. Here are some tips for dealing with your insurance after a house fire:

Keep records of correspondence

As a property owner, you need to look out for yourself. Keep detailed records of all of your interactions with the insurance company, from phone calls to emails to letters. For phone calls, take note of the time, date, and the names of the people that you speak to. Print out copies of email exchanges and put them in a folder for safekeeping.

Take your own photos

While an insurance adjuster will be coming to the property to photograph the damage, you should not rely on them alone. Take your own photos of the home, detailing the damage in each area, as well as the damage to your personal belongings. You’re more familiar with your home and you know exactly what has been damaged, so as difficult as it may be to face the reality of the fire, you need to do it to protect the value of your property. It’s very helpful if you have photos and receipts for big ticket items stored away before an incident occurs.

Don’t accept reimbursement until you are completely comfortable with it

Take the time to go over the details to ensure that you are getting what you are entitled to. There is no need to rush and make a hasty decision. Ask for explanations of the numbers that the insurance company has come up with, and don’t accept an offer that only covers cosmetic fixes. You want to be sure that any structural issues and damage below the surface have been looked into so that you can have the necessary repairs made.

Choose a fire damage restoration company that offers direct insurance billing

Direct insurance billing gives homeowners peace of mind. There’s so much to think about after a fire, and it’s helpful to have the restoration company bill the insurance directly. This means that you won’t have to stress about the numbers and deal with confusing phone calls and back and forth. Managing a claim can be difficult for any homeowner, since they aren’t typically familiar with the details of the process. Let the experts handle the claim and make all of the necessary repairs, while you worry about getting your life back to normal.

A skilled restoration company will know what to look for, in terms of damage, and they will make sure that all of the issues are uncovered and accounted for. Homeowners may just simply take the initial settlement offer, and find that the repairs end up being far more extensive and costly. One of the best ways that homeowners can protect themselves after a fire is by working with a qualified fire damage restoration company.

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