Can I Handle Mold Cleanup By Myself

Mold-Remediation-Drywall-GrowthMold can be a pain when it arrives, worst of all, it’s easy to get. Mold can develop in your home and all it takes are three common things?

1.    Moisture: Mold needs moisture to grow, which is why you see it all the time in showers and baths… and, unfortunately, in basements. You can clean up the mold in a shower or bath, but when you see it in other parts of the home, it’s best to call All Pro Restoration.

2.    Food: Mold is alive, and needs to eat. So usually you won’t see mold growing on plastic surfaces in your home. It will grow on wood and other organic surfaces. However, dirt in the carpet or on the floor can be a food source, so keeping your house super clean is smart.

3.    Darkness: Mold likes the shadows of your home, and grows quickly in the dark. That’s why basements are often the first place mold is discovered.

Do-it yourself mold removal?

If you are going to clean up some mold in your house, it’s important to protect yourself. A mold removal specialist knows the dangers of mold, and if you hire a pro, you will see him all suited up and protected against possible contamination.

For cleaning up very small amounts of mold, like you might find in a shower stall, be sure to wear rubber gloves, the type that come up to your elbows. And wear a good mask, the type the EPA recommends (like an N-95 from your hardware store) so that you don’t inhale mold spores. Spores are actually the dangerous part of mold, and they are very tiny and float in the air, which means you can breathe them in. Eye protection goggles are also smart, but avoid goggles that have holes in them.

Be Prepared with Sewer & Drain Coverage

It is always important to understand the simple fact that no two insurance policies are created equally. One type of policy may provide more than enough funds to recover from a particular type of disaster, while another policy might provide no funds at all. Your insurance policy should also be tailored to your specific situation. Don’t be fooled by “optional” coverage that you can add to your policy at an additional expense. Some of these concerns are very real and you always want to make sure that your policy will cover you in the event that you really need it. Sewer backup and drain backflow coverage are two of these provisions that are exceedingly important.

Sewage Backup

As its name suggests, sewer backup coverage is designed to protect homeowners in the event of a city sewer line failing. If a sewer line fails, it may cause sewage to back up into your home. If you think that the city will cover the cost of damages because the backed up sewer line is their responsibility – think again. The city will be the first one to knock on your door and hand you a release letter, telling you that they are not responsible for this incident.

Sewage BackupSewer backup coverage comes with caps ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 or more depending on the insurance company in question. As a general rule, we always recommend $10,000 in coverage. It’s better to have the funds available to recover from disaster and not need them than it is to need the funds and not have them. Sewer water can cause an incredibly amount of damage in a very short period of time. More than that, the city is very difficult to go after from a legal perspective for property damage. Instead of going after the city yourself, the insurance company will instead take the city to task for reimbursement of whatever they end up paying you.

Drain Backflow

Drain backflow coverage, by comparison, is designed to cover you in the event that your own sewer line breaks or has blockage issues that cause the line to back up and destroy property in your home. As with sewer backup coverage, drain backflow coverage comes with caps of $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000. Some policies do not actually have a cap at all, which means that you will always be covered – even in the event of a catastrophic total loss. For more information about the caps that are available with your insurance company, ask your insurance agent for details.

In these types of situations, we always recommend pursuing an insurance policy with no cap at all. Drain backflow issues can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage in almost no time at all. What’s worse is that these issues essentially have no warning signs and can happen very unexpectedly.Sewage Backup

A backed up sewer drain leaking raw sewage into your home for even a small period of time like an hour can cause an unbelievable amount of damage – we have seen it happen. If you only have $10,000 in coverage and experience $25,000 worth of damage, you will be personally responsible for whatever the insurance company does not provide for. In these situations, it is always best to pursue the maximum amount of coverage available to help prevent these types of unexpected expenses.

For more information about sewage contamination and how it is handled by a professional restoration company, see our “Sewage Cleanup” page for more details.

What are the benefits of Insurance Claims?

Many people are hesitant to file insurance claims for a wide variety of different reasons, even when it is the most best and logical step to take in a particular situation. Some people don’t want to deal with the sometimes lengthy and involved process of filing a claim in the first place and dealing with an insurance adjuster after they’ve already dealt with some type of disaster. Others are afraid that their insurance premiums will go up. Despite these very real issues, filing an insurance claim still brings with it a wide variety of different benefits that cannot be ignored.

Benefit:  The job gets done right

One of the biggest benefits of filing an insurance claim comes by way of the fact that it allows a restoration company to do their job 100% correctly thanks to having access to all of the funds required given the situation. The issue of “cost” is not a concern at all, as your insurance company is paying for the issue – regardless of the extent of the damage that you saw.Benefit

Along the same lines, another benefit is that making a claim allows a restoration company to adhere to all standards that need to be followed given a situation. Not only do local building codes need to be followed when all types of restorations are performed, for example, but there are also many safety standards that need to be followed to a proverbial “T.” These standards can easily be followed without a question of cost. For more information about restoration standards, see our “Restoration Standards” page on our website.

Benefit:  Financial means are not an issue

Another major benefit of filing an insurance claim is the peace of mind that only comes with knowing that the concern of both cost and exceeding a certain dollar amount is not an issue. If it costs $5000 to fix the issue that you’re experiencing, your insurance company has you covered thanks to the claim. The same is true of a $10,000 bill, a $20,000 bill or higher.

Many people also don’t realize that unexpected additional damages may be found during the mitigation and restoration process. Filing a claim brings with it the benefit that these types of unexpected issues can be adequately addressed without needing to both stop work and receive financial approval from the homeowner. If you’re paying for restoration services out of pocket, $5,000 in additional work can be a large issue. If the funds are coming from your insurance company, all of these unexpected issues can be addressed quickly and in the best way possible.

BenefitMany times after suffering some type of disaster like a fire, homeowners are very concerned with the cost. If you’re paying for the cost of restoration out of your own pocket, restoration companies are essentially limited on the services that they can provide with the money that they have available to them. After filing an insurance claim, however, restoration companies can work to the fullest extent of their natural abilities without having to worry about these types of concerns.

At the end of the day, It is important to realize that a homeowner takes out an insurance policy for a reason. It is to insure against catastrophes. You pay premiums for your entire life to guard against situations exactly like these. It would be a shame not to use that resource if you have it available – some people aren’t so lucky.

How much do Insurance Claims Costs?

CostsPeople may be hesitant to file an insurance claim for a wide variety of different reasons. The most common reason is because that person feels that their insurance rates may go up to unaffordable levels due to even one small claim. The reality of the situation is that insurance claims are a natural part of the process and may be the only way to help get the money you need depending on the specifics of the situation. When it comes to filing an insurance claim and why the process is so important, one of the key things to understand is how much that claim is going to cost.

Insurance Claim Costs

When talking about homeowner’s insurance, the cost to file an insurance claim will depend very much on the specifics of the policy in question. The cost to the homeowner is dependent on two key things: individual policy limitations and deductible amounts.

Deductibles are the total amount of money that you have to pay out of pocket for a particular claim before your insurance will go into effect. These deductibles are made available to the homeowner well in advance and are typically agreed upon when signing up for insurance in the first place. The average deductible can range anywhere from $250 to $5000 or more depending on the policy. However, the most common are $500 or $1000.

Your deductible should play a factor in deciding when and if to make a claim. If you are filing for a loss of only $100, it may actually be more beneficial to you in the long run to just pay the money out of pocket and avoid filing the claim altogether. If you lose your home to a fire and suffer a total loss, on the other hand, even a deducible of $5000 or more will still pale in comparison to the amount of money that your homeowner’s insurance will pay out to replace all of your goods and belongings.

Insurance Caps

Some homeowner’s insurance policies also have specific caps on them for certain types of losses. If the type of loss that you have incurred falls into one of these pre-defined areas, you may not necessarily get all of the money you need to rectify the situation – even if your homeowner’s insurance policy is valued at much more.

Mold remediation, for example, is usually capped at $0, $5000 or $10000. If you suffer $20000 worth of damages, have a one million dollar homeowner’s insurance policy but a $10000 cap on mold remediation, you would only receive the capped amount of money and not a dollar more.Costs

Sewer drain backups are also a common category that are usually capped by insurance providers. These are sometimes (but not necessarily always) capped at values like $1000, $5000 or $10000.

If these types of situations are of serious concern to you, it may be worth looking into a different policy that will provide a larger amount of coverage in the event that these types of situations do occur.

Deductible Costs

Most of the time, however, the homeowner will only be responsible for the cost of the deductible. If you suffer one million dollars worth of damage and have a two million dollar homeowner’s insurance policy with a $5000 deductible, you will only have to pay $5000 to completely replace your home in the event that the disaster fell into an uncapped situation. Your homeowner’s insurance will take care of the rest.

As it relates to pricing for the actual project, restoration companies are required to use a price list called Xactimate. This price list helps ensure that restoration companies are following a “fair” price list that is approved by all insurance companies. The scope of work may vary slightly from restoration company to restoration company, however the line item prices should always be the same. It is important to keep in mind that every project is going to be different and a “baseline” quote cannot be provided on the phone. The job must be assessed by a technician before any kind of pricing can be provided.

Will Insurance Claim Premiums Rise?

PremiumBuying an insurance policy is something of a paradox unto itself. Generally speaking, insurance of all types is something that you purchase hoping that you never have to use it at all. You would never buy a car and just let it sit in the garage, hoping that the day never came where you would have to get behind the wheel, put the key in the ignition and go for a spin. Despite that, insurance is still necessary to have in the unfortunate event that you do need it the most. One of the most important factors that many people struggle with has to do with the claims process. People do not want to make an insurance claim at all because they are concerned that their premiums will go up. As with insurance as a concept, the answer is not necessarily straightforward.

Your Premium Will Change Over Time

For starters, you should never worry about filing an insurance claim because your rates might increase for one simple reason: your rates will likely increase whether you want them to or not. Many of the reasons why your rates might go up will have little to do with the claim in question.

One of the primary reasons why insurance rates might increase has to do with the age of the home in question. The older the home, the more liability there is for the insurance company to insure and financially protect that home. As your general sense of liability increases, so do your insurance premiums.

Natural disasters in surrounding areas can also increase your premiums. If your area has seen a rash of fires, floods, storms and other types of events that are beyond your control, your insurance company may look at you as statistically more likely to suffer from the same types of damage and increase your rates as a result.

Mass Claims Affect Premiums

Another reason why your rates might go up has to do with the amount of recent claims the company in question has been dealing with related to certain types of losses. Sometimes certain portions of your policy are designed to naturally get more expensive as homeowners in the surrounding area have made claims pertaining to one specific type of loss. If there has been a rash of burglaries in your area, for example, other homeowners may cause your rates to go up even if you have not been affected.

The point is that every insurance company is different regarding what events cause a premium to go up and what allows that money to remain unaffected.

It’s always a good idea to speak to your insurance agent. He or she will be more than happy to sit down with you, go over the specifics of your own personal policy and address any and all concerns that you may have.Premium

A lot of insurance agents will do just about anything to retain their customers. As a result, they may actually have significant pull in the decision about the way that your premiums might be altered after filing a claim. Though it is not a guarantee, talking to your provider about your concerns may be a way to allow your premium to remain the same even if a claim has taken place.

The most important thing to remember involves how serious the situation in question really is. Will the claim that you are filing exceed your deductible? If the answer is “yes”, then you do not need to make a claim. Can you afford to pay for the services that you need out of your own pocket in the event that it does exceed your deductible? If the answer is “no”, then the situation dictates that you should likely make a claim.

Prevent Your Washing Machine From Flooding Your House

Washing MachineWater damage can be devastating in the unfortunate event that it does occur. Water is the natural enemy of a wide variety of different things in your home – from wood floors to carpeting to appliances and everything in between. Even a “small” water damage issue can quickly equate to thousands of dollars in costly repairs when everything is said and done. When it comes to preventing water damage, one of the biggest sources that you need to watch out for is undoubtedly your washing machine. By keeping just a few key tips and tricks in mind, you can both identify small problems before they become big ones and keep even those small problems from rearing their ugly heads altogether.

Replace Your Washing Machine When Necessary

The first thing you should know about preventing water damage from your washing machine is that you should always replace that washing machine every five to seven years. When people spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on an appliance, they generally do so hoping that they will last as long as possible. When you begin to push the limits of that washing machine outside that five to seven year window, however, you are essentially placing a bet that nothing too bad will happen. The parts inside the washing machine begin to wear down, plumbing can become an issue and you could face other problems that would result in water leakage and eventual damage. It’s better to pay to replace your washing machine with this frequency than it is to risk a potentially limitless amount of water damage.

Pay Attention To Your Washing Machine

Another great way to prevent water damage from your washing machine is to make sure that you are paying close attention to the floats on the inside of the unit. The floats on the inside of washing machines will begin to fail over time, which can cause the machine to overflow during a routine cycle. Think about how much water is funneled into a washing machine during a regular cycle. Now, think about the damage that amount of water would do if it overflowed from the machine and got into the rest of the room. This is just one of the situations why making sure that the floats are functioning properly is always important.Washing Machine

Another important step to take involves making sure that the drain line is securely hooked up. This is especially true if you move your washing machine on a regular basis. The drain line can become loose, get bumped out or more and leak a huge amount of water into the room.

Avoid Frequent Moves

On that topic, you should avoid moving the machine in and out in general because one or more supply lines can become loose or damaged, leading to problems down the road.

On a personal level, you should always make sure that you are never over filling the washing machine during use. Use an appropriate amount of water based on the size of the load that you are trying to wash.

You should also replace all existing supply lines with braided steel supply lines. Braided steel is of a much higher quality and is much less likely to fail over time.

Insulate Your Washing Machine

When those cold winter months of the year roll around, you should also take care to make sure that your washing machine is well insulated. If the water in the washing machine freezes, it could potentially expand and cause cracks. Those issues would lead to water damage both during the winter and when the weather gets warmer out again.

You should also try to be home when loads of laundries are done so that any leaks can be caught immediately.

Finally, if your washing machine is on the top level of your home, you should always keep an eye out for all standing water, water staining on the ceiling below the washing machine and other signs that a leak may be present.

Prevent Flooding from your Fridge / Freezer Combo Units

FridgeWhen people think about the devastating effects that water damage can have on a home, they usually take a few normal steps to help prevent a small problem from turning into a big one. Everyone knows that frozen pipes during the winter can burst and lead to water damage, for example, and will take steps to avoid those situations entirely. What many people do not realize is that there are also a variety of different smaller and less obvious ways that water damage can wreak havoc on a home. Case in point: one likely culprit is an improperly maintained refrigerator/freezer combination unit, much like the one that you probably have in your home right now.

Regularly Replace Your Fridge / Freezer

One of the most important steps that you can take to prevent water damage from your refrigerator and freezer combination unit is to make sure that you are replacing the copper and small plastic supply lines with braided steel. Leaks can develop in the supply lines over time just through routine use. Instead of replacing them every few years (and incurring the materials and contractor labor expenses as a result), you can replace them less frequently if you go with high quality braided steel as a material solution.

Properly Insulate Your Fridge

Another step that you will want to take to help prevent water damage from your refrigerator and freezer combination unit involves making sure that the unit is always well insulated. This is especially true if you and your family are getting ready to head out on vacation and nobody will be in the home for an extended period of time. Vacation is actually the most common time for freezer supply lines to break, which is why proper insulation is always a must in these types of situations.

Keep Your Fridge Still

One way to prevent refrigerator and freezer combination unit water damage comes from a solution that many people do not actually think of. Make sure that you are not moving the fridge in and out of its normal position too often. If you do have to move the fridge in and out for whatever reason, make sure that you always do so slowly and carefully. When moving the unit in and out too much, you can easily weaken the copper supply line that the braided steel supply line is attached to. Every time that line weakens just a little bit more, you’re potentially opening yourself up for a leak. Even if you do not notice the leak at first, rest assured that it will eventually get large if you are not careful.

Inspect Your Fridge Regularly

Speaking of leaks, you should always inspect the underside of the fridge for leaks as often as possible. Get down on all fours and look in between the bottom of the refrigerator and freezer combination unit and the floor. Make sure that no water is present, even small amounts. Any amount of water present in this location could be the sign that lines are weakening, materials are cracking or that a full-fledged leak is developing. If you check often enough, you are likely to catch a small problem before it turns into a larger and much more expensive one.Fridge Inspection

You will also want to take care to keep an eye out for warping, buckling and other signs that there is a leak on the floor around the fridge. Even if you did not necessarily prevent the leak, watching out for these warning signs will help clue you into its existence during its nascent stages when it is much easier and cheaper to fix.

You will also want to keep an eye out for water staining on the ceiling immediately below the fridge. If you have a basement in your home, for example, the chances are that a portion of the ceiling in that basement will be located directly beneath the refrigerator and freezer combination unit on the upper floor. If you start to see water staining, buckling and other signs of stress, water could be leaking out of the unit and into the floor. You should definitely have that taken care of before it causes not only water damage, but serious structural damage as well.

Prevent Your Dishwasher From Flooding Your House

DishwasherOne of the most common sources of water damage in a home is the dishwasher that you rely on daily in your kitchen. There are a number of important steps that you should be taking to help prevent water damage sustained from these types of appliances.

Replace Your Dishwasher As Needed

One of the first things that you need to keep in mind to make sure that you do not go through water damage from a dishwasher is the cycle at which you replace your appliances. As a general rule of thumb, you should always replace your dishwasher every three to five years. That may seem like a short amount of time and a large amount of money to spend, but the shell of the dishwasher can form hairline fractures over time just from routine use alone. Hard water and soap residue can build up, causing these fractures. Those fractures will only get larger and larger, which will result in thousands of dollars of water damage if you are not careful.

On the years when you are not replacing your dishwasher, you need to make sure that you have the drain line and supply line inspected for both leaks and cracks every year. These components will also wear naturally through routine use, which can quickly get out of hand if you aren’t proactive about monitoring them.

Dishwasher Drain Line

Along the same lines, you should also make a habit of ensuring that the drain line is correctly hooked up to the sink. The drain line should be tightly connected to the plumbing under your sink and should not be loose in any way. If it is, the natural water pressure from the dishwasher will continue to wear at the connection between the two components and could dump an entire dishwasher’s worth of water into your kitchen.

Another preventative measure would be to only run the dishwasher when you are home so that you can guarantee you will catch any leaks immediately as they occur. If you turn on the dishwasher and leave the home, a leak could develop during the cycle and water damage might only occur 20 or 30 minutes later. If you are home, you can shut off the dishwasher and disconnect the water line right away. If you are not, water will continue to pour into your kitchen with no end in sight.

Dishwasher and Surrounding Flooring

You should also keep an eye out for warping or buckling on the floor in the area of your kitchen immediately surrounding the dishwasher. This is especially true if you have hardwood floors. If you have carpeting, make sure that you’re watching out for wet or damp patches. This is a sure sign that your dishwasher has a leak and that you have an issue that should be investigated by a professional as quickly as possible.

If you live in a home with a basement level immediately below your kitchen, you should also continually monitor the ceiling in that area for any water staining and other signs of distress. This is a sign that there is a leak, though the extent of which will not necessarily be clear until you employ the services of a professional to come check it out. There is still time for you to fix a small problem before it turns into a much larger and more expensive Dishwasherone.

Finally, you should always make sure that you are not improperly filling your dishwasher. Doing so will cause water during the dishwasher’s cycle to move in ways that it should not necessarily be moving, which would exacerbate small problems at the same time.

Prevent Your Water Heater From Flooding Your House

Water HeaterWhen people think about the types of preventative maintenance that they need to perform on their homes on a regular basis, one area that doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it should are the appliances contained inside. In that regard, it can be helpful to think of home appliances like water heaters as similar in concept to your car. You need to make sure that you’re getting tune ups, oil changes and other types of preventative maintenance services performed regularly to help identify small issues that naturally occur over the lifespan of a car before they become much bigger and more expensive ones. The same logic is true with appliances, only instead of suffering only a massive system failure, an appliance like a water heater could suddenly flood your home and cause thousands of dollars in damage before you even realize you have a problem. You can prevent water damage from water heaters in your home by carefully following a few key steps.

Replacing Your Water Heater

For starters, you should be replacing your water heater every seven to ten years for the best possible results. Though some people may balk at the admittedly large expense that a new water heater will represent, the alternative is much more costly. If you let your water heater go for too long and it bursts, flooding the basement or first level of your home, you stand to lose thousands of dollars of personal items in one fell swoop. That is to say nothing of the huge amount of irreplaceable items with sentimental value that can be lost in the same way. Not only that, but by replacing the water heater in your home at that level of frequency you can help make sure that you always have a model that is operating at peak efficiency with all of the latest technological advances.

Inspect Your Water Heater

Another way to prevent water damage from your water heater is to have it inspected by a licensed plumber every year. A licensed plumber will be able to check for certain “warning signs” that an issue may be on the horizon like leaky gaskets, pipe corrosion and more. Remember that just because it does not appear that an issue is brewing with your water heater doesn’t mean that there aren’t warning signs.

Flush Your Water Heater

One of the most important things that you can do to prevent water damage from your water heater is to have the tank flushed every six months to a year. The act of flushing the tank will prevent sediments from settling at the bottom of the tank, which if left unchecked will lead to the rusting of that bottom portion at some point in the future. The rust will begin to build up on the inside of the tank, so by the time you actually see the rust yourself on the outside it will be far too late. Even if you have not yet suffered water damage, you will still need to replace the unit – which is something that could be prevented by regular flushing from a licensed plumber.

Install Your Water Heater Correctly

Some of the best ways to make sure that your water heater will not cause water damage in your home involve making sure that it is installed in the right way. You should always have the tank on the main level of the home, for example, preferably on a concrete floor. Additionally, you should keep your water heater near some type of floor drain in the event that it does begin to leak. Finally, you should keep your water heater well insulated during those cold winter months of the year. Water heater closets that are outside the home are very popular for keeping such a large appliance out of sight, but they are also prone to freezing when the weather starts getting cold outside.

How Sewer Water Can Affect My Health

Sewer Backup in Shower

Sewer backup that backed up into the shower pan.

For most homeowners, the only time they give real consideration to sewer water is with the associated utility bill that comes at the beginning or the end of the month. After that, they do not spend a great deal of time thinking about sewer water at all – though they really should. Contaminated sewer water can represent a very real health concern that people should be aware of. The key to understanding how sewer water affects your health involves knowing a little bit more about the topic as a whole.

Simply put, sewer water is water that contains human waste. It is traditionally transported through a series of pipes both inside and around homes, businesses and other types of public places. When an individual uses the bathroom in their home, for example, all of the associated waste product is flushed into a nearby septic tank. The contents of the tank are then transported via a series of sewage lines through the nearby sewage treatment plan. In the absolute best case scenario, this process will happen quickly and efficiently and without any problems whatsoever.

Unfortunately, these types of large systems do not always operate with 100% efficiency. If a sewer line breaks at some point during the journey between a home and a sewage treatment plant, that contaminated water could get into recreational or drinking water sources that are nearby. When sewage treatment plants do not properly dispose of contaminated water, it could also find itself in nearby beaches and other sources of recreation. However, the most common way to come in contact with sewage is via your own sewer line backing up into your home.

Sewer Water Can Make You Very Sick

Sewage itself contains many of the same organisms that commonly live inside the human body including parasites, bacteria, e-coli and more. Humans can potentially come into contact with sewage in a variety of different ways, which would ultimately reintroduce these types of organisms back into their bodies under less than ideal circumstances. If exposed to sewer water, humans and animals can become devastatingly sick in a relatively short amount of time.

There are three main conditions that a person would have to worry about if they found themselves exposed to sewer water or raw sewage in general. The first is gastro-enteritis, which can induce vomiting, diarrhea and more. The second is hepatitis, which can cause a discoloration of a person’s skin due to a failure in a person’s liver. If a person has any cuts or rashes, those types of conditions could also be made worse due to an exposure to sewer water. Cuts and rashes would become infected and would likely discharge pus at various times. All three of these conditions can also cause a fever.

Act Immediately

If you believe that you have been exposed to sewer water in any way, either in liquid form via a burst or backed up pipe or in gas form, it is important to consult the help of a medical professional immediately. If left untreated, many of the negative effects of a sewer water exposure can quickly prove to be disastrous. Exposure to the types of bacteria and parasites that are normally contained in sewer water can result in conditions like reactive arthritis, potential cancer and in some situations, fatality.

In the event that a situation occurs at home like a sewer pipe backs up into your basement, it is always important to wear protective clothing (including goggles and masks) before you attempt to clean it up. Even if the water appears “clean”, it still contains the same bacteria and pathogens that are found in “black water”. The best thing to do is to call your 24/7 Restoration Professionals right away!