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.

Protecting Basement Storage

Most homeowners utilize their basements for storage, but protecting them is something many don’t think about until a disaster occurs. A failed sump pump, for instance, can spell disaster if you have cardboard boxes full of belongings piled on the floor. That’s why, if you have basement storage, it can’t hurt to take steps when it’s dry to help protect your items from potential water damage.

Preserve Your Memories
The Library of Congress advises against storing photographs in the basement, which may be prone to leaks or extreme temperatures. The U.S. National Archives and Record Administration also suggests avoiding the basement, unless it has a dehumidifier; otherwise, your photos may be exposed to moisture that could case them to get stuck together. But if your photos end up down there, you’ll likely want to preserve your memories the best you can. The National Archives suggests storing photographs in plastic enclosures made from uncoated pure polyethylene, polypropylene or polyester to preserve them.

Store Important Files in a Safe
If you’ve ever waited in line for hours to receive a new Social Security card or if you travel frequently, then you know how important it is to keep birth certificates, savings bonds, passports and other critical documents in one place that is easy for you to access. If you plan to keep these documents in the basement, you also need them to stay dry. The Federal Emergency Management Agency suggests storing important documents in waterproof containers in a high location, or in a waterproof or fireproof safe.

Don’t Forget Your Digital Files
You’ve finally created digital files of your favorite photos and saved your almost-finished novel on a flash drive. Where should you store these digital files? Consider stashing your files in a safe. Before purchasing a safe, think about what you want to preserve. As noted by Consumer Reports, some safes can reach interior temperatures of 350 degrees Fahrenheit; depending on the format of your digital files, such as CDs used to store family photos, you may want to consider selecting a safe that better protects its contents from high temperatures.

Save Your Stamps
A little water in your basement could potentially wipe out a lifelong hobby if, for instance, your stamp collection is not properly stored. If you must store such valuables in your basement, the Smithsonian National Postal Museum advises placing your items on a high shelf. The museum cautions, though, against using a shelf located along a concrete wall or or near an exterior door, as heat, humidity and even dryness may put your collection at risk.

Care for Seasonal Decor
From special holiday decor that has been in your family for generations to the newest addition to your collection of Halloween inflatables, storing seasonal items in your basement can be a cumbersome task. When it’s time to take down those holiday decorations, the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment at the University of Kentucky (UKAg) recommends laundering any washable items, such as tablecloths, before returning them to storage. Ornaments and other decor should be cleaned thoroughly at the end of the season, too. And, the organization adds, keeping those boxes off the ground can help prevent moisture from entering them.

Perform Routine Maintenance
Some regular maintenance may help prevent water from trickling into the basement. According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, homeowners should inspect sump pumps annually to ensure the pump’s components are not jammed or tangled. Don’t forget the exterior of your house, too. Seattle Public Utilities suggests cleaning gutters and drainage downspouts about twice per year to keep water flowing off and away from your home. While you’re at it, the agency recommends directing downspouts so that water flows away from your foundation; don’t direct the flow to your neighbors’ homes, either.

Basements can come in handy when it comes to storing items you don’t need to access regularly, but they may also be sources of dampness or subject to extreme temperatures. By making the effort to store your various belongings appropriately, you can help ensure that they are in the same condition you left them in the next time you need them.

Condensate Line Maintenance

In newer homes, excess water from condensation goes right into a nearby floor drain. But many older homes don’t have a floor drain next to the furnace. So furnace installers mount a condensate pump right on the furnace and route the drain line to a far-off sink or floor drain. If that pump fails, the water overflows the pump and it can cause major water damage. That doesn’t necessarily mean the pump is bad; the problem could be just algae buildup in the pump’s check valve.

So start your diagnosis by unplugging the pump. Disconnect the drain line and empty the water into a bucket. Then remove the check valve and plug in the pump. If the pump doesn’t work, buy a new one (about $60 from a home center or online HVAC store) and swap out the old one. However, if the pump works, you’ve got a stuck check valve.

Try cleaning the valve by soaking it in warm, soapy water. Then flush it. Clean out any remaining crud with compressed air and test it. If you can’t remove all the crud or the valve is still stuck, replace it with a new valve (about $10 from the pump manufacturer’s parts department). The furnace or A/C will continue to drain while you’re waiting for the new part to arrive, so jury-rig a bucket system. Clean any algae buildup from inside the pump with soapy water and a brush before installing the new valve. Then install the new valve and test. To prevent algae clogs, place algae reduction tablets in the pump reservoir. Condensate lines can cause sizable backups and water damage and mold in your basement which will require water damage restoration and mold remediation.  By maintaining this pump regularly, you can avoid costly repairs.

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Heavy Rain Safety Tips

It is important to remember that floods caused by rain can occur anywhere, with floodwaters rising gradually or flash floods striking suddenly. Water is a powerful force that can easily overtake vehicles and people.

Safety tips for driving in heavy rain:

  • If you must drive in the rain, drive slowly and steadily.  Pull over and stop if it is raining so hard that you cannot see.
  • DO NOT DRIVE THROUGH FLOODWATERS!
  • Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing loss of control or possible stalling.
  • One foot of water will float most vehicles.
  • Two feet of rushing water can sweep away most vehicles — including SUVs and pick-ups.
  • Stay away from water that electrical or power lines have fallen into; electric current passes through water easily.
  • Stay off your cell phone unless you must report severe injuries or call for help.

Safety tips for walking or cycling on urban trails:

  • When rain is falling, it’s best not to walk or bike near a river or stream, even on Denver’s paved urban bike and walking trails; water flow can quickly increase and flooding can occur without notice.
  • Move to higher ground and never go into a culvert! If you are on a streamside trail during a rainstorm use the alternate trail up to street level to avoid underpasses and culverts.
  • NEVER take shelter in a culvert, under a bridge, or in an enclosed space, especially in low elevations by rivers and streams. Always go to higher ground out of the flow of water.
  • Do not walk or bike through moving water. Six inches of moving water can cause a person to fall.
  • If lightning is present, do not stand under or near an isolated tree or group of trees.
  • Never allow children to play around streams, drainage ditches or viaducts, storm drains or flooded areas.

Localized street flooding:

  • In underpasses and some areas that are geographical low-points, water cannot be expected to disappear down the storm inlets instantly; the pace and volume of the rainfall may be too quick and too great to immediately drain off. It takes time for the system to accommodate the rainfall.
  • If you know that your street tends to flood because it is located in a low point, be sure to move your vehicles to higher ground whenever rain is forecast.

MoldSolutions24-7.com

One More Night of Winter

Spring can’t seemingly get here fast enough and today we brace for a wintry mix with the possibility of snow even though it’s April 9th.  With that being said, this is a quick reminder to avoid costly water damage to your home which then could result in mold growth from broken pipes.  The last few weeks the weather has spiked to the 70’s, and many people have turned their spigots back on to wash their fronts, cars, etc.  Those pipes should be drained and turned back off today prior to the temperature dropping below freezing.  In the Delaware Valley, we could see the temps dropping to 25 degrees, and that’s enough to cause pipes to freeze especially if the water is on.  This could cause swelling within the copper and a crack that will result in water damage to your home.  Water damage restoration is the process of removing damaged materials while structurally drying the property to avoid further damage and the potential of mold.  If left untreated, then the initial loss will become more severe due to water wicking and also result in microbial growth which then will require extensive mold remediation.  So be sure to spend the few minutes of turning off your exterior plumbing, protecting any interior plumbing which is at risk, and save yourself what could potentially be thousands of dollars in costly water damage and mold remediation costs.

From BIOWASHING.com

Flooded Day Care

With the recent storms, many homes and businesses have endured severe water damage.  Here’s a set of photos showing a local business which was unfortunate and had several inches of water damaging not only the carpeting and drywall, but a lot of contents.  The pictures show the wet rugs and walls, the moisture meter indicating the high levels of moisture, (since the some of the photos don’t display the water damage because the carpeting is dark), and the remediation and structural drying.DSCN1565 DSCN1566 DSCN1571 DSCN1638 DSCN1639

Ice Dam Prevention – Part 2

Insulating the Attic

The attic floor should be airtight, have sufficient insulation, and keep the transfer of heat from the downstairs to the attic at a minimum. Even a well-insulated attic floor may have a number of openings that can permit warm air from below to seep up into the attic. For instance, these items may cut through the attic floor:

  • exhaust pipes and plumbing vents
  • fireplace and heating system chimneys
  • light fixtures

Seal all openings around these penetrations, but be careful not to block attic vent s with insulation. The at tic vent s, as explained below, must be kept clear so that they can do their job. Additionally, pull-down stairs or a set of regular stairs leading up to the attic from the lower level can be avenues for rising heat. Weatherstripping around the edges of the attic access door and insulation on the attic side of the door should minimize the passage of heat to the attic.  Any heat-generating equipment in the attic should be relocated.

Ventilating An Attic

There are several ways to ventilate your attic. You can do it with eave vents, soffit vents, a ridge vent, a gable vent, or some combination of these. Most modern residential roofs combine a ridge vent with soffit or eave vents. To the extent that household heat penetrates the attic, it should be able to rise and escape through, for instance, a ridge vent, while soffit or eave vents pull in cold air to replace it. Local building codes generally require a minimum level of ventilation.

Proper ventilation of the attic to let cold in, together with air sealing and insulation on the attic floor to help keep household heat out of the attic, work to minimize the likelihood of ice dams.

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