Who To Expect After a Flood

After a flood disaster such as a hurricane, expect multiple visitors who will want to either assist you with aid or offer their services. It’s common for multiple visitors to perform damage assessments on your home. No matter who may be knocking, always ask for identification and the purpose of the visit. Never give out personal information such as your Social Security or bank account number, and never sign a power of an attorney especially to a contractor or public adjuster. Government officials will never ask for money and you should never pay for their service, nor should you be so quick to sign any contracts with contractors who may pressure you into doing so.  Here’s some of the people you may expect to contact you after a major loss.

FEMA Inspector: If you apply for federal disaster assistance, a FEMA inspector may call and visit to assess your property damage. They will have a FEMA ID badge.

SBA Loss Verifier: If you apply for a Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loan, an SBA loss verifier may call to discuss your property damage or schedule a visit. They will have an SBA ID badge.

Local or Government Building Inspectors:  Officials inspect damaged buildings to determine if they can be occupied. If they have damage, officials (state/county/local) may visit to gather damage data in the weeks and months after an event to inspect and collect information. They should have an ID badge from their agency.

Local Flood Plain Managers: If you live in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), a local floodplain manager may call or visit to determine if a structure is “substantially damaged” and to explain how to comply with current floodplain regulations. They should have their agency’s ID badge.

Flood Insurance Adjuster: If you have filed an NFIP policy claim, you will receive a call and a visit from a flood insurance adjuster. They will collect information, take photos, and help fill out claims paperwork. They will have a Flood Adjuster Certification Card and picture ID.

Your Homeowners Insurance Adjuster: If you file a claim with your homeowners insurance, a homeowners insurance adjuster will call and visit to assess non-flood damage. They should have a state-issued agency license or ID.  It is also possible to see your Auto Policy Adjuster if you sustained damage to your vehicle.

Lawyers: Various lawyers or their representatives may offer to help you file claims for insurance, grants, and loans. Their services may be free, low-cost, or cost a significant sum—up to 30% of your insurance claim. Be cautious, and be sure to check their credentials and ask about fees.

Public Adjusters: Third-party certified public adjusters may offer help to inspect damaged homes and help you file claims for insurance, grants, and loans, but be cautious. There is usually a fee of 10% to 30% of your total settlement. Be sure to ask for credentials. One organization, the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters, certifies members who must agree to a Code of Ethics and other requirements.  Some trusted adjusters can actually help you get what you’re supposed to get from the insurance company while expediting your claim.

Contractors: Be cautious if a contractor or other repair professional approaches you directly and unsolicited. Ask for IDs, licenses, proof of insurance, and references. Do not pay for all repairs up front, though legitimate contractors may request a percentage of their fees to begin work. Obtain a contract with both labor and cost estimates.  If your claim has been approved, a mitigation contractor shouldn’t be paid anything upfront whatsoever.

Non-Profit Organizations: A group of highly-competent organizations with service-oriented missions and ministries that leverage skilled and passionate volunteers. They can be connected to the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (National VOAD) forum by government partners and should be easily identifiable with signage.

Scammers: No fees should be charged for the inspections performed by government or NFIP representatives. Social Security and bank account numbers are never required by inspectors or adjusters. Always safeguard your personal information, and when in doubt, don’t give out information.

You may also receive visitors such as HOA representatives, Condo Association Members and Engineers, who will do damage assessments and also insure structures are safe from further damage.

Where Does Moisture Come From?

There are three main sources in your home; the first being air leaks.

Air can leak into the home through walls, roofs, and floors and have damaging effects on a house. Uncontrolled airflow through the envelope of the home not only carries moisture into framing cavities, causing mold and rot, but it can also account for a huge portion of a home’s energy use and can cause indoor air quality problems. In a leaky house, large volumes of air – driven by exhaust fans, stack effect, and the wind – can blow through the floor, walls, and ceiling.

moisture: Cut-away view of a two story house with a basement, using arrows to indicate the flow of air through the structure.

The second source of moisture is diffusion through materials.

This is a process by which vapor spreads or moves through permeable materials caused by a difference in water vapor pressure. An example of this is when the soil becomes saturated and moisture enters the crawl space through the walls by vapor diffusion. Installing a vapor barrier can help reduce the amount of moisture that makes its way into the crawl space and into the rest of the home.


The final source is internally generated moisture.

A family of four produces on average two pints of water an hour, or up to 25 pints of water a day, simply by washing dishes, taking showers, cooking, and breathing.

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Rental Property Checklist

Many cities have friendly neighborhoods with great properties. However, it’s important to know what to look for in a rental listing, so you can make a smart assessment about each rental listing you’re interested in.

Use this rental property viewing checklist to stay organized and prepared when viewing properties.

  1. What is the cost of rent?
    Clarify the asking price to guarantee you don’t overpay. If the landlord states a higher rent price than listed, highlight the inconsistency to be sure you get the lower advertised price.
  2. Is there an application process or screening criteria?
    Ask the landlord to explain their application and screening processes, and ask about application fees. A thorough screening process shows the landlord is careful about finding good renters.
  3. What payment methods are accepted for rent?
    Landlords can choose which forms of payment they will accept. However, some landlords make it easy for tenants and allow tenants to pay rent online . The option of online payment allows for automation, security, and convenience for both tenant and landlord.
  4. What is the procedure for submitting a maintenance request? Who makes the repairs?
    You want to be sure the landlord appropriately manages the property and responds quickly to repair requests. Clarify the maintenance procedure and confirm there is a plan in place for repairs. When viewing a property, inspect the current condition because it will offer clues to the upkeep routines of the landlord.
  5. Are furnishings and appliances included?
    It is common for renters to provide their own appliances and furnishings. However, this is not always the case. If the unit is furnished, be sure to ask exactly what is included in the contract so there are no surprises when you move in.
  6. Is there any water damage or mold related issues to disclose?
    Asking this question and having proper documentation of the answer can save you down the line if problems should occur.  Landlords are bound by law to provide a home with a healthy environment for their tenants.  No home should have ongoing water damage issues and/or mold growth at any time during your lease.
  7. Does it fit the budget?
    Be realistic about expenses. Confirm the property fits your budget so you are able to pay bills on time, build savings and still have money for entertainment and travel.

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How a Hygrometer Works

Does your home often feel dry? Or too muggy? If you are experiencing chapped/dry skin, or difficulty breathing while in your home, you may need to get your humidity level checked out. Humidity levels that are not between the averages of 30- 50 percent can be potentially dangerous for your health. You can personally check your humidity level in your home by using a hygrometer.

A hygrometer is an appliance that is designed to calculate the amount of humidity in a room or building. While a hygrometer can’t actually prevent mold from growing, it can warn you to take any steps necessary before the problem occurs. Hygrometers can provide the accurate levels of relative humidity and absolute humidity. Relative humidity is the percentage of humid moisture in the air. Absolute humidity is the actual amount of moisture in the atmosphere.

What Makes a Hygrometer Work?

There are two commonly used types of hygrometers: Mechanical hygrometer and wet and dry bulb psychrometer.

Wet and Dry Bulb Psychrometer

This is the easiest way to measure humidity. This type of hygrometer is equipped with two mercury thermometers, where one has a wet bulb and the other has a dry bulb. Because of the evaporation of water on the wet bulb the temperature will drop and read a lower temperature than what is displayed on the dry bulb. The difference between the two temperature readings equal the amount of relative humidity in the atmosphere.

Mechanical Hygrometer

A mechanical hygrometer requires a little more effort to determining humidity levels in a room.

  • This tool was first created in 1783 by a physicist named Horace Benedict de Saussure.
  • Mechanical hygrometers work by using an organic material, typically a piece of hair where its behaviors can predict the amount of humidity in the air.
  • If you’ve ever noticed how human hair tends to frizz when there is a lot of moisture in the air or it is very hot outside, then it will be easy for you to understand how this tool works.

For example, the piece of hair is attached to a spring and needle instrument that exposes the hair to humidity. Based on the reaction of the hair, the humidity level can be classified. Although a wet and dry bulb is more accurate and easy to understand, a mechanical hygrometer is still as effective.

How to Reset Your Hygrometer

Should you need to ever reset your hygrometer, you can do so by using at-home methods:

  • In a room with normal, consistent temperature, place your hygrometer in a cup or container filled with salt water on a counter space. Leave it to sit for 10-12 hours.
  • After the allotted time, the hygrometer should read a standard relative humidity level of 75 percent.
  • This process should be performed at least once a year to ensure your hygrometer is always providing accurate results.

What makes it effective?

Hygrometers are the go-to source for measuring humidity. This tool can be used in laboratories, manufacturing sites and storage vicinities. Even meteorologists use hygrometers to report the most accurate amount of relative humidity in the community. Hygrometers are widely used because they come with hard-to-beat features. Many hygrometers are built with alarms that will alert you when the humidity level in your home is under that 30 percent or over the 50 percent average humidity level.

Hygrometers can serve as a great way to keep you, your family, home and belongings healthy. They can also come with humidistats, which control the operation of your humidifier or dehumidifier.

Carbon Monoxide Protection At Home & Work

Every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hundreds of people in the U.S. die from carbon-monoxide (CO) poisoning—and the invisible, odorless gas sickens thousands more.

The numbers seem even more tragic when you consider that most of these deaths and illnesses are preventable. Here are tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to help protect yourself and your loved ones at home and work.

At home

  1. Make sure you have CO alarms—and that they work. You should have a CO alarm on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas. Test them and replace batteries regularly, too. The alarms themselves should be replaced every five years or as recommended by the manufacturer.
  2. Get your chimney and furnace checked. A chimney or furnace that isn’t functioning properly can lead to CO buildup inside your home. Have a professional examination and/or service before you begin using them.
  3. Be careful with generators and grills. Neither should ever be used inside your home or in an enclosed space, such as a garage—even semi-enclosed spaces like porches can be risky, too. Keep generators at least 20 feet away from the house when in operation.

At work
In general, the same precautions for homes apply here, but there are a few additional considerations for the workplace, particularly one where gas-powered machinery is used:

  1. Be mindful of ventilation. Every year, workers are poisoned by CO while using fuel-burning equipment in areas that don’t have adequate ventilation.
  2. Try using different tools indoors. Consider electric tools or ones powered by compressed air, and if possible, avoid using forklifts, pressure washers and other gas-powered equipment. Ensure machinery and tools are maintained properly, too.
  3. Report unsafe conditions or issues. If you see something that might cause CO buildup, or you suspect CO poisoning in you or a co-worker, get people out of the area and report the problem to your employer immediately.

Whether you’re at home or work, always be on the lookout for symptoms of CO exposure: They include dizziness, drowsiness, headaches, and nausea. If you suspect an issue, leave the area as soon as possible and call 911—because when it comes to CO, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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