After your family has safely vacated the premises and the fire department has been involved, you will need to contact your insurance company as soon as possible for direction. Notifying the insurer at time of loss is a condition of your policy.
How long does it take to clean up after fire damage?
This can vary depending on severity of the damage. There are many factors that change the scope of work from one fire to the next (extent of damage to the structure, affected contents, potential water damage, etc.). WRS has worked on small smoke damage claims that can be completed in days or entire interior home/business fires that take weeks or months.
Can I inspect my home and belongings after fire damage?
Typically, you will want to contact your insurance company for direction regarding this. Without clearance you may jeopardize an investigation. For severely damaged homes, your home will normally need to be cleared for re-entry by the fire department and cause and origin investigators.
Should I try to clean it up myself?
Soot and odor can travel into areas you may not even be aware. It is best to let trained professionals cleanup after a fire. A certified mitigation company will complete an evaluation and review their recommendations directly with your insurance company as well as the family. Different types of cleaning methods and agents are employed for different types of fires. For example: a kitchen fire that involves protein or greases will be addressed differently than an electrical fire. Using the wrong methods and wrong cleaning agents can make clean up more difficult in the long run.
What are some safety concerns?
Breathing in soot and chemicals from a fire can be detrimental to your lungs and general health. Safety should be your priority. When deemed necessary professionals use personal protective equipment during the cleaning process as soot is a known human carcinogen. The particulates generated in a fire are very small - we call them "respirable" as they can deeply penetrate the lungs - which can cause issues later in life. This is particularly important when it comes to demolition when the particulates are aerosolized by the act of necessary material removal.
What items do I keep in my possession?
Typically, personal items such as personal paperwork, prescription medication, cash, jewelry, bullion, or firearms are not handled by restoration companies. There are also generally limitations on certain personal property items that you need to be aware of.
How do I keep track of non-restorable items?
If your insurance company permits, your restoration company can complete an itemized inventory and photo document any contents that may have been deemed non-restorable. Non-restorable items will not be disposed of until approved to do so by both the insured and the insurance company.
Who is responsible for paying for your service?
Ultimately the insured is responsible for payment, typically restoration companies work directly with both the insured and the insurance company/adjuster. Payment may be issued direct to the restoration company in some cases. Sometimes the insurance company will provide a "two-party" payment, where both the restoration company and the insured is named as a payee to protect interests of both parties.
Do you communicate with my insurance adjuster?
Yes, we will work directly with your adjuster to obtain all approvals prior to the start of the demolition and cleaning process. As some of us at Watermark were employed as licensed property adjusters in the state of Michigan, and because we are a part of multiple "preferred vendor programs", our suggestions and recommendations are taken very seriously. In some cases, we may not require approval to begin work - it depends on the insurance company.
What are some common effects of water damage?
Sometimes it's the water that you don't see that could potentially cause the most damage. For example, an upper-level bathroom may have ceramic tile floor and tile walls, the water can potentially travel through multiple layers of flooring, into the ceiling directly below and migrate to the walls affecting drywall, insulation, and framing. This can all happen without showing visible signs of the damage and this is where DIY projects go awry. If water damage is left unmitigated, mold and structural rot can form which is always a more costly outcome of a water loss.
What does the water damage restoration process involve?
Once the source of the water has been stopped, our restoration technicians can complete a thorough evaluation of the affected areas. After a scope has been completed and recommendations made, the homeowner can determine whether they want to begin the process. Removal of wet materials, applying an antimicrobial agent as well as placing drying equipment is typically part of the recommended scope. Tracking the moisture levels within an environment at the beginning, middle, and end of a project are important from both a quality assurance and billing standpoint. Normally if an insurance claim is involved adjuster approval is requested prior to removal of items such as cabinets or asbestos containing materials.
How much does it cost to fix water damage?
Cost for water damage restoration can vary depending on the complexity of the damages. We've seen simple toilet overflows which damage only twelve or so square feet of a given room cause thousands of dollars of damage. We've also seen clean water losses cause less damage than anticipated by the homeowner when drying begins quickly and less demolition is required. Forming a scope of work and providing a rough range as to what the damage will cost is called "reserves" and is an important component of the insurance claims process. Ask us when on site and we can provide a rough range for you: but please know that the process is ever evolving, and additional hidden damage is often found during the process.
What are the major causes of water damage?
Prevention is the best way to avoid water damage - maintenance is key. Ensure that your sump pump is working properly, a plumber will tell you a change-out every (5) years is common. Insulate your pipes so that they don't freeze in the winter. Keep snow cleared from troublesome areas on your roof to avoid a potential ice dam. Check your supply lines to sinks, toilets and refrigerators regularly for leakage. Avoid clogged drains by properly maintaining - snaking once a year is considered a minimum.
How do I know if I have mold?
If you had water damage at any point in the past and did not properly mitigate it the potential for mold growth is very high. Often our clients will advise they smell a "musty odor" which prompts further investigation. Discolorations on building materials and structural wood can be a strong indicator, although not always a confirmed presence of microbial growth. To truly "know" you have mold one must perform either a tape lift test or an air quality test. As a certified remediation company, Watermark Restoration Solutions is happy to provide multiple referrals for certified mold testers to our clients as performing the tests ourselves would be considered a conflict of interest.
What's the difference between mold and mildew?
The term mildew is often used generically to refer to mold growth, usually with a flat growth habit. Molds include all species of microscopic fungi that grow in the form of multicellular filaments, called hyphae. ... Mildew often lives on shower walls, windowsills, and other places where moisture levels are high. (www.epa.gov)
What does mold look like?
Mildew typically grows on surfaces and can easily be wiped off with over-the-counter products, such as tile systems. This will present as a light haze in high humidity areas. Mold can grow behind wet drywall, under flooring, as well as on other surfaces and unfortunately can cause health issues if not properly remediated by professionals. We've observed mold in many different forms: black, white, red, green, blue, pink, and sometimes rainbow colored! We've even seen mushrooms growing out of carpet and structural materials in buildings when a chronic problem has been occurring for too long. It's important to note that a common benign substance called "efflorescence" can form in higher humidity areas. This presents as a chalky white crystalline substance. Efflorescence is essentially a harmless salt deposit and is the result of high humidity which generally forms on concrete. Granted: only mold testing can confirm whether or not a substance is actually mold, although we have been able to inspect basements and advise that a given substance does or doesn't present as microbial growth.
How much does mold remediation cost?
Cost for mold remediation can vary depending on the complexity of the damages. We ask all our clients to please understand that if you see some mold on the top side of a material, the damage is quite likely worse behind it. We've performed mold remediation projects for as little as $500.00 for very simple small jobs and, on the flip side, we've performed remediation work that has cost five figures in residential settings and six figures in commercial settings. It cannot be overstated that a quick response to a water damage situation is of the utmost importance.
Couldn't I just remove the mold myself?
It is recommended that you leave mold remediation to the professionals due to the potential for serious health issues. Another factor to consider is that microbial growth can and will spread if it is not removed under controlled means. We've worked on projects where a homeowner had performed some of their own demolition and inadvertently spread the mold throughout two of the three levels of their home. What could have been several thousand dollars turned into a much larger project because they didn't utilize some of the practices and principles of the IICRC S520. It is recommended that a qualified industrial hygienist complete a pre-test and write a protocol on larger projects or where those who are immune compromised are involved. We would then base our scope on the recommended protocol and provide a free, no obligation estimate.
What health problems can mold cause?
In every scenario where this question is asked, we would tell our client to ultimately discuss any health-related questions with their doctor. That being said, it is generally understood and accepted that long term exposure to certain types of mold can have an adverse effect on your health. We've studied peer reviewed articles that demonstrate detrimental health effects of long-term exposure to both toxigenic molds such as Stachybotrys (black mold) and Chaetomium. These examples of mold are not toxic in and of themselves, but they release toxic chemical byproducts called mycotoxins during their reproduction cycle. There are also pathogenic molds such as Histoplasma capsulatum - which can be created by and within animal droppings. In contrast to this, there is certainly evidence of positive benefits from select molds. One well known example of this is the antibiotic Penicillin which is derived from the species Penicillium notatum and Penicillium chrysogenum. We'd encourage you to call Watermark Restoration Solutions for a free consultation on any assumed or confirmed microbial growth condition in your home!