Archived Blog Posts
All In 2016
Congratulations to the 2016 NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers! For basketball fans and Cleveland natives today is a great day of celebration and awe. Having been born in Cleveland and being a die hard Cleveland sports fan I feel a sense of connection with those players and certainly with all the Cleveland fans. Go Cavs!!
Why even think you can win?
A documentary was recently released called "Believeland" that told the story of Cleveland almost winning so many times in the past only to have championship runs end in some miserable fashion. It had been 52 years since the last major sports championship in Cleveland. Cavs were down 3-1 in the best of seven series where no team in NBA history had ever come back to win in the finals. The Cleveland Cavaliers had never won a championship before. So what makes you think you win?
Perseverance is that thing that doesn't look at the final result when deciding whether or not to get out of bed tomorrow and try again. Living in the Cincinnati area as a Cleveland fan I get ridiculed on a regular basis and I get asked why I continue to root for teams "that can't win". The answer is perseverance. There once was a drought that caused devastation to the farmers and others who called that area home. Being a spiritual people they asked different priest, tribal leaders and everyone they could think of to get it to rain. Finally they found a "rain doctor" that claimed a 100% success rate at making it rain. Many people didn't buy into it, but they hired him in desperation and he began his rain dance with intense focus and belief that it would rain. Weeks went by with no rain but he kept dancing. Weeks turned into months and he kept dancing. There were cloudy days that still produced no rain and he kept dancing. Then finally, after the last believer had giving up on him, a rain drop finally fell from the sky followed by another and another. When the rain came pouring down the people ran out to celebrate with the rain doctor who had never given up and continued to dance everyday. One skeptic asked the rain doctor on that day, "How could you be so sure you could make it rain and not give up?" He replied with what he thought was obvious, "Because I danced until it rained."
Belief in a win
As excited and relieved as I am as a fan to have the long drought end I still can't help but draw a parallel to the customers we serve. When there is a major fire, water, mold or other damage to their home it can be a gut wrenching blow. Many times it can feel like they have lost and that they just don't know how they'll be able to win again. My hope is that through our service we can help give our customers that hope so that they can persevere and rebuild not only their home, but their hope that it will be OK. That one day it will be "Like it never even happened."®
Cheviot all mucked up after water main break
Water damage is one thing, but . . .
Sometimes it would be great if there was only water damage. SERVPRO of Cheviot and Cleves helped this customer in Cheviot clean up from a water main break that brought hundreds of pounds of mud into the house. The water was so powerful that it actually knocked the bottom section of the garage door off the tracks! No worries though, our Hero Ready technicians are up to the task.
Where do I start?
Most homeowners would not know where to start with damage this severe, but SERVPRO of Cheviot and Cleves has been there before and has a plan for your recovery. In this case our technicians had several needs to satisfy including:
- Classify, inventory and remove damaged contents
- Fix the garage door for security purposes
- Get the mud out!
- Inspect for water damage throughout the entire basement
- Sanitize the entire basement
- Help with the insurance claim process and billing
- Preserve the value of the property
Too much Too Fast
Recently we were able to serve customers out of town that were affected by Hurricane Matthew. While North Carolina grabbed most of the headlines, our crew was sent to Virginia Beach, VA. It never ceases to amaze me how nature can put a wrench in our plans by damaging our property. We saw a incredible amount of damage, not from ridiculously strong winds or trees falling on homes, but from flooding. While I certainly believe that North Carolina sustained heavier damage, Virginia Beach got a lot of the rainfall that accompanied the hurricane which caused pockets of extreme flooding. One of our customers was injured during the flooding and rescue crews had to use a boat to get him from his house to an emergency vehicle. I couldn't imagine having to boat up to my front door!
Many Hands Make for Light Work
Once the flood waters receded it was time for SERVPRO to go into action. One thing that excites me about this company is our ability to respond in times of need. SERVPRO's Storm Team is able to organize and send hundreds of crews to help when our customers need it the most. We have the resources to get all the equipment, supplies, tools and trained team members to the right spots quickly. It was phenomenal yet again to see so many SERVPRO trucks and vans from so many different parts of the country helping a city in need.
Help Isn't Just Being There, It's More
It's not just quantity that matters. We follow the same standards to help flood victims that we do every other day of the year. It's important to me that our customers know that we are there to help, not to take advantage of the situation they are in. Some contractors only see dollar signs. We follow IICRC standards for completing the job and we use the same estimating and pricing system that we always use. I found that this allowed our customers to trust us immediately even though we were from out of town. And trust is important to helping restore our customers. After all, it's important to restore the property, but it's more important to restore the customer's faith that it will be alright.
Cincinnati the party’s over
Vandalism comes in many forms
This clean up was a new one to me, but given what caused the damage it seems like it shouldn't have been. A commercial property in Cincinnati had a top floor that was a residential apartment. There was a social gathering at the apartment and a fire extinguisher was used. The only problem . . . there was no fire! The extinguisher was discharged in the common stairwell by one of the party guests and found its way into two of the businesses in the building. This may seem somewhat harmless and just a little mess, but this was considered vandalism and cost over $10000 to clean up (thank goodness for insurance!)
It's just dust, right?
Fire extinguisher powder is a made up of very fine particles that can be harmful to our lungs, but is very effective against fire. Although this looks like it is "just dust" it will make its way through a typical shop vac or vacuum cleaner filter and back into the air. Sure, some will get trapped in the filter, but it will take a tremendously long time to keep cleaning and recleaning until it's all gone. In this case the dust didn't flow exactly like soot in a fire because there was no heat to create the same kinds of drafts, but the extinguisher dust did go throughout 2 businesses that had their doors closed. Several of the workers in one office were extremely concerned about their respiratory health and told us about coughing spells that they had after trying to work in there. They only made it half a day before leaving and trying to work from home.
If you were to pull out a human hair, cut it in half and then look at the surface you just cut you would be looking at something about 90 microns in size. Fire extinguisher dust is about 20 microns in size, less than 1/4 the size of a human hair. It's designed this way to get into small nooks and crannies to do it's job. Cleanup requires equipment that is up to the challenge. HEPA filters, by definition, trap particles down to .03 microns in size. We use special vacuums and air scrubbers with HEPA filters that are rated to trap these tiny particles so that they don't go right back in the air.
We sent a small army to this job and got the common areas and the business offices cleaned within 2 days so those companies could get back to work ASAP. It was a great feeling as a business owner knowing that we were able to get other businesses up and running again. It's always satisfying on a job like this to know that our specialized equipment worked as it should and there was no call back for any dust resettling. But the most important result we achieved in this job was that employees of those businesses felt safe going back to work knowing the job was done right and their health was not at risk. "Like it never even happened."®
Anderson Gobble, Gobble
Better on sandwich
Every other customer that I've ever served that had a turkey involved in their clean up also had cooking involved. Without a doubt this was one of the most unique situations I've ever come across. I've seen jobs before where a deer had crashed through a basement door or window and I've seen times when a bird tried to fly through a window like on the glass cleaner commercials, but failed with a resounding thud. This was the first time I'd ever seen a bird succeed. A wild turkey flew up high enough and was large enough to shatter the glass on this second floor window. It wasn't able to get through the screen, but the damage was done.
Extent of the problem
Glass in automobiles is tempered glass which tends to break into small chunks when it is broken for safety. The glass that generally goes into windows for our homes is typically not tempered and one, two or three panes. This type of glass breaks into large, sharp, pointed pieces and also very small slivers that can be very hard to see. In this case, the window burst into a carpeted bedroom with no clear idea exactly where every single piece went. There was a bed next to the window, a dresser within a few feet and clothing in a closet right across from the bed. Small pieces of glass can get embedded in fabrics like carpeting, clothing and bedding and this is a room where skin comes in contact with those materials on a regular basis.
Our technicians began immediately to clean up the glass and then remove the carpet. We just can't take a chance that a small sliver of glass gets stuck in the carpet and then makes its way into our customer's foot later on. We emptied all the dresser drawers, removed all the bedding and had all the clothing professionally cleaned. We thoroughly cleaned the subfloor and took extra care to make sure that nothing we removed could possibly allow a piece of glass to leave the room. Whether it's vandalism due to animals or humans, we've seen it before and we have a plan. Of course the best plan of all is to keep the turkey on a sandwich!
Call us for mold problems!
Procrastination grows things!
Don't ignore the signs of potential water leaks! Musty smells, bubbling paint, stained drywall, and swelled paneling just to name a few. It's what you don't see that can become the big problem. Over time wet materials in your home can become a new home for something you don't want moving in like mold or other microorganisms. Like most living things, water is the key to life. So keep your home dry and keep it healthy. If you suspect a water leak, call us! We will inspect your areas of concern for free!
Mold has needs too
Mold needs a few things in order to grow:
- Stagnant air
- Agreeable temperatures
Mold can't eat synthetic materials like plastic or vinyl, rather it likes natural fibers like wood, paper and cotton or leather. Water is key to mold growth. Many times molds require more water to develop. Mold can't grow if the spores (like seeds) can't settle down because they are always blowing in the wind. Mold tends to grow slower or not at all in colder temperatures, but don't think that it can't grow. Have you cleaned out your fridge lately and found mold growing in that pasta sauce you forgot about from two years ago?
Many times the very best location for mold to take root and begin growing is inside wall cavities, like in the photo above. There could be a substantial amount of growth on the back side before enough grows on the face of the wall to be discovered. The key is to inspect your home for potential or existing water intrusion. If you suspect mold but aren't sure call SERVPRO of Cheviot and Cleves.
Finding Hidden Damage
I was out on an inspection due to "musty odor". Visual inspection showed nothing out of the ordinary with the exception of a little staining on a piece of baseboard. Moisture meter readings showed all was dry. I was about to pack up and leave, but the stain on the baseboard bothered me. I got permission to remove the baseboard...good thing I went this extra step! The back was covered in growth! I then cut an inspection hole in the drywall and found growth on the back of the drywall. What does all this mean?? One, don't ignore your nose! Two, make sure you get a thorough inspection!
We have great tools that help us track down water, mold and fire damage in your property. the funny thing about tools is they don't work right in an untrained hand. Our technicians all receive thorough training and certification. Our corporate office has an entire training department that makes it easy for us to provide our customers with trained, knowledgeable technicians. We also send the best technicians to outside training to become certified through the IICRC and rise to the level of Lead Technician. Our Lead Technicians have the training, the tools and the experience to keep digging to find all the damage and make sure your property is returned to a clean, safe condition.
We appreciate you!
Help Us Help You
I like great movie lines and "Jerry McGuire" had a few. "Help Me Help You" was one of those lines that many people recognize instantly. When our technicians come to your home it is critical that we receive feedback from you, our customer. One of the things that keeps our work interesting is that no two customers are alike and no two properties are alike. Each customer has their own particular ways and therefore different expectations. Some of our customers are reluctant to tell our crews that they are unsatisfied with something because they really appreciate their hard work and don't want to crticize the crew. Rest assured, our crews are not upset. Quite the opposite. When we actively look for ways to serve you we want to know if we are serving you well and to your satisfaction. It is critical for our customers to communicate if any of our services did not completely meet their expectations so that we can remedy the situation, exceed your expectations and leave you feeling happy and confident with our services. That is how you can help us help you!
I would like to ask a favor of you if have had great service. In today's world, word-of-mouth has taken a new form . . . social media. We appreciate your reviews and comments in places like Yelp!, Facebook, Google+ and others. It helps us be more visible to future customers. If our service didn't reach your expectations please email us at support@SERVPROcheviotandcleves.com or call our office at 513-467-6666 so that we can resolve any issues and ensure your satisfaction.
An ounce of prevention . . .
The 3 day outlook shows lows in the single digits with negative wind chills. Pipe bursts can cause the most damage of any water source we deal with. Sometimes there can be multiple pipe bursts in the same property and many times they burst when no one is there or when everyone is asleep. We have even seen times when a copper pipe pops out of joint allowing a 1/2 water line to run wide open! Imagine the damage that can cause! So what can be done to prevent this type of damage?
5 tips to keep your pipes warm
Below are some simple tips to keep pipes from freezing at your home or business:
- Open any cabinetry that houses plumbing on exterior walls to help keep the pipes from freezing!
- Wrap pipes that are at risk, like in a garage or attic, in the foam insulation sleeves designed for pipes.
- Keep your thermostat no lower than 60-65 degrees if you are away for a day or more. Many people think 55 degrees is sufficient, but we have seen many troubles arise with thermostats set that low.
- Use pipe heating wires when appropriate. Make sure they are installed according to instructions.
- Use hose bib covers outside to prevent cold air from entering around the pipe and freezing it.
Severe Fire needs Hero Level Service
Where Do I Start???
Any fire or smoke damage can be disruptive to our normal lives. Major fire damage has the ability to put us into a complete tailspin. The initial shock and awe of what just happened to this homeowner was extreme, but it is OK. What else would you expect when the entire 2nd floor of your house caught fire and burned? This homeowner had a normal life that he was living before this. He has appointments to keep, work to do, life to live. Now, for the immediate future his life would be dealing with this catastrophe. Surveying all the damage, the state of his long time home, he simply did not know where to even start.
We Help Restore Our Customer
Our skills, tools and training are geared toward cleaning, fixing and restoring property and belongings. But our employees from top to bottom, Sales to Production are focused on restoring our customers. Your insurance company can help put your mind at ease by writing checks to pay for damage, but our techinicians are the Heroes on the ground ready to service our customers until they feel restored. Our goal is to use our skills in fire damage restoration to restore our customer's sense that it will all be OK, that life will be good again.
How We Help
- We Have A Plan = you are able to gain confidence in our company, but more importantly, you are able to see for the first time that it will be OK, that you will be OK
- Inventory and Packing services = you continue your normal schedule while we sort, photograph, pack and list your belongings in a way that will help you throughout the claim
- Web Link to Inventory = you can view your inventory in your leisure from any laptop or tablet because trust and your convenience is important to us
- Navigating Insurance = we can help reduce your anxiety when dealing with an insurnace claim by helping provide documentation, photos, loss item lists, accurate estimates and invoices and even pricing of loss items
- Complete Property Repair = you don't have to search for multiple companies and act like your own general contractor, rather we bring a team to serve you and stay accountable to you
The home we are discussing in this blog ended up being a total loss and was bulldozed. But thanks to our plan, our service and our Hero Ready team, we were able to help the homeowner make good decisions all along the way. We quickly inventoried, packed and moved all salvageable items to our warehouse and created a loss list for our customer to turn into his insurance company. Then we worked fast to create accurate estiamates for mitigation and for repairs. That information was critical. It turned out that the cost to repair the property exceeded the limits of the policy and value of the home. The homeowner made the decision to tear down the home and buy a manufactured home to put in its place. Without good information property owners will likely make bad decisions that will end up costing more. Because this customer consulted the professionals he was able to make the best decision for himself.
My pipes have frozen! Now what!
As we get deeper into winter, one of our most common calls is water damage from frozen or burst pipes. As temperatures drop outside, it is important to ready your home for the changes that are coming so that your home and its contents don’t face this messy and unfortunate outcome.
How can you prevent frozen or burst pipes? A special consideration is plumbing that supplies outdoor spigots. Often times these pipes freeze inside wall cavities. A good solution is to cut a hole in the drywall and then cover it with a vent cover (a return vent for HVAC can be used for this) so that heat from the room gets into the wall cavity where the pipe is. Similarly, it’s a good idea to keep cabinet doors that hide pipes (under kitchen/bathroom sinks) open to facilitate warm air flow.
On the outside, it is imperative that hoses are disconnected from spigots. Even if water is turned off to the spigot and it is a “freeze proof” spigot, leaving a hose connected will trap water and freezing can still cause it to crack. A final step would be to attach a Styrofoam insulation cover over the spigot. This covers the entire spigot and fits tight to the house with a foam gasket which will prevent cold air from getting in and around the pipe. (These can only be installed with the hose detached).
Keeping pipes insulated are very important. Any exposed pipe is subject to freezing at the right temperature. Keep your garage door closed in winter to maintain heat inside the home. Frequently inspect your pipes for any cracks and leaks and repair as soon as possible. You don’t want to find out at 2am on a frigid February morning that your tiny crack caused the basement to flood and ruin all your furniture.
Keep your thermostat at the same temperature, day and night, and never lower than 60 degrees. This is not the time to be worrying about your utility bill. Maintain a proper heat level in the home to avoid disastrous surprises.
But what if after all this, your pipes freeze anyway?
Firstly, KEEP the faucet open. As the ice starts to melt, water will flow and any running water will help melt the ice in the pipe. You can apply direct heat to a frozen area using a heating pad wrapped around the pipe, a hair dryer, or towels soaked in hot water.
A space heater can be used, as long as it kept away from flammable materials and you are there to supervise its use. Heat should be applied until full water pressure is restored.
If you cannot find the frozen area, or if you cannot reach it or thaw the pipe, called a licensed plumber.
NEVER use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove or other open flame device…or you will be calling SERVPRO for fire damage cleanup instead of water damage cleanup!
Hopefully, these tips were beneficial and will help you get off on the right foot for 2020. However, should you be struck with burst pipes, a flooded basement or anything in between, call us here at SERVPRO and we’ll make it "Like it never even happened."
We bring order to chaos!
A common call we get at SERVPRO is "what exactly do you guys do?" That's a broad question, and a GOOD question! In short, we bring order to chaos. How so? Let me explain...
Unexpected property damage brings with it uncertainty, confusion and disorder. Even the smallest occurrence can bring anxiety to our customers and people around them. Extreme cases can displace families and businesses, destroy memories and in short, bring chaos.
Our job, or work, our purpose, is to bring order to chaos. For uncertainty, we bring confidence. For confusion, we bring a plan of action. For disorder, we bring organization. We are SERVPRO HEROes and we bring order to chaos.
H - Helping
E - Everyone
R - Restore
O - Order
We cannot bring to our customers what we are not. Our ability to bring order to our customer’s chaos is directly related to our daily ability to bring order to our own chaos. Left unattended, a well manicured garden will become overgrown with weeds and what once was beautiful will become ruined. This is the way of the world. Clean becomes dirty, new becomes old. We have the very unique ability in this world to restore what was ruined and fix what was broken. We have the skills to make beautiful what has been damaged. We are on the front lines pushing back against chaos, using our skills, our attitudes, our abilities, our compassion, our motivation, our learning and our execution. We bring order to chaos.
As a purposeful SERVPRO HERO, I bring order through my punctuality, my organization abilities, my leadership, my focus, my accomplishments, my understanding, my team-first attitude, my skills, my proactive communication, my safety practices and in everything I do. When I stand for what is right, I bring order.
When I demand order in my own life and I bring that order to my work, I help restore people, not just property. When I decide to finish a task instead of leaving it for later, I build my character which makes my team stronger. I believe that serving brings its own rewards. As I bring order to my customer’s chaos job after job, I see that when I help enough people get what they want, I can have everything I want.
We bring order to chaos.
Wow that fire is hot
Wow that fire is hot!
Recently we were challenged with a very extreme basement fire. The fire was so hot that it actually burned through several floor joists and created a hole in the first floor. It is estimated that this basement was over 1100 degrees Farenheit and with that much heat the fire doesn't just create soot, but it bakes the soot into everything. It's one thing to clean smoke and soot residue off of walls, ceilings, floors and belongings at the opposite end of a house from the fire, but quite another when extreme heat is a factor.
Baked on soot meets its match
They say that sometimes you have to fight fire with fire, but not in this case. In order to find a cleaning process that will get the baked on soot cleaned off we turned to . . . ice? Dry Ice actually. Dry Ice isn't actually ice in the sense that there is no water present in Dry Ice. It is made up of CO2 cooled and compressed into a solid and shaped into pellets that are about -109 degrees F. Special equipment then blasts these pellets at the surface that needs to be cleaned much like sand or soda blasting. Dry Ice blasting is less aggressive than sand blasting which is perfect for fire damage clean up without the need for heavy, burdensome suits and other personal protective equipment. The other major benefit is the speed of clean up after the blasting. Once the Dry Ice hits a surface it turns back into a gas and "evaporates" instead of leaving hundreds of pounds of media (sand, soda, etc.) to clean up.
Steps to get back home!
What Just Happened?
A customer once told me that he had been called at work and told that his house was on fire. For a second he thought it was a joke but then he could hear the sound of nearby fire engines moving down the road. He immediately left work and began to rush home. He worked relatively close to home so it didn’t take long before he saw a huge plume of smoke in the distance. As much as he wanted to believe it wasn’t his house, he knew what would be at the end of this particular drive home. At least he thought he knew.
Every homeowner reacts differently to major damage to their home. Some homeowners grieve their loss very quickly and move on to the logistics of getting their life put back together. Others find it much more difficult to deal with the devastation that a major property damage delivers to their front door. The unfortunate part of life is that no matter what their mental and emotional state is, there is still a lot that must be dealt with. Regardless of what tasks lie ahead, it’s important to acknowledge the emotional impact on our customers.
What Do I Do FIRST?
After the fire is out there are only a handful of things that need to be done immediately. This blog series is focused on recovery relating to the dwelling (structure) and of the personal property (contents) components of a property damage and will not be able to address any insurance related issues outside of our scope of services. We also try our best to acknowledge and provide help for the mental and emotional state of those who have suffered such a loss where we can.
Protect Your Property
One of the first things that needs to be done regarding the property is to have it secured or “boarded up” from any damage to windows, doors and other openings either from the fire or the fire fighting efforts. BEWARE: This step can happen as soon as the fire department is wrapping up their equipment and many times a line of contractors that has been listening to police/fire scanners is already waiting at the end of your driveway hoping to get you to use them. They may be legitimate contractors, but what does it say that they trying to get you to sign a contract for repairs when the fire department hasn’t even left yet? That’s high pressure. If you run into this and decide to use one of them for the board up, it would make sense to only agree to board up services at this time and nothing else. DON’T SIGN a contract for all of the repairs right now! You will have time to decide what to do with your home and who to use for the repairs. If do you need board up services, call us anytime 24 hours a day and we’ll respond to help you out.
Find a Place To Stay
Many times, the Red Cross is called out to provide immediate assistance and can even help with temporary lodging if needed. If the Red Cross does not respond, then you may unfortunately be on your own to find a hotel or other arrangement. Ultimately your insurance will likely cover this cost of lodging, but depending on the day of the week your damage occurs on, you may not meet with a claims representative at your property for several days. That’s the earliest possible time that you would begin to receive any kind of compensation for your loss and the added expenses of staying somewhere else.
Your world has just been turned up-side-down. People are calling from all over the place. Some are wanted calls of support, some are not. There are a million things racing through your head and each idea gets interrupted by the next one, and the next emotion. Take some time now, at the beginning and try to remind yourself of what you do have. There is a tremendous amount of help throughout this process that you can count on. For the rest of this day, don’t try to plan out the whole repair or even the next week. Today, just take this one step at a time. The rest of your decisions will be better if you have had time to grieve this loss and prepare mentally for all the steps that will lead back home. One of the best ways to help calm the mind is to write down your thoughts and concerns as they happen so that you can set each burden down for a while, but know that you won’t forget about it. Almost all smart devices have a notebook or journal of some kind. Many of them can record voice notes. If all else fails, text someone you trust the thing you want to remember. This way you’ll have a written record and some help remembering to check on that concern!
Safety First, Valuable Items Right Behind
Firearms and other weapons should be a priority for you to gather up and remove from the property to a safe location. Even that sword that you think of as a family heirloom or cool decoration should be addressed. Ammunition should be inspected for heat damage and may need to be properly and safely disposed of if it has become compromised. Once those safety concerns have been addressed it is time to focus on other important items. Keep in mind that over the next several months there could be many people in your home assisting your restoration. Miscommunications between different companies could result in items being misplaced or even disposed of that are important to you. It is best for you to get the most important, most valuable items out and take them with you. Start making a list of things like jewelry, important papers, medicine and medical devices, cash, credit cards and checkbooks and other personal high value and high importance items. At this point, don’t worry as much about collections, tools or large items, but focus more on important personal items that you can’t afford to lose.
Hurry Up And Take Your Time
There’s no doubt that time is of the essence at the beginning of a severe fire damage. If the fire department used heavy amounts of water fighting the fire, the drying process needs to begin immediately to prevent secondary damage. The longer soot sits on your belongings, especially electronics, the more damage it does and the harder it is to clean. Companies need to be notified, services need to be paused, reports need to be filed, lists need to be made. It can feel like it all has to be done right now! While it’s true, certain things need to be done to prevent further damage, it’s OK to take a minute with each decision to make sure you are comfortable with what is happening.
Ask More Questions
Ask, ask, ask! If you feel embarrassed to ask a question because you may have already asked it, ask anyway. If you don’t know the question to ask, but you don’t quite understand what's going on just tell someone that this doesn’t happen to you all the time and ask them to explain it again, or in more detail. The only way to get comfortable with what’s going on is to learn about what’s going on. Most professionals understand the situation you are in and are glad to answer questions (again) and provide clarity.
Several more blogs will follow this one to help lay out how to handle the details of cleaning up and rebuilding from a severe fire damage. The next part will dive into how to handle all of the personal property that must be sorted through and put onto one list or another. If you should find yourself in this situation, please know that SERVPRO of Cheviot and Cleves is always Here To Help.
Don’t forget renters
If you're a homeowner, you most likely have homeowner's insurance, for several reasons. If you have a mortgage on the property, it's required. But even if it wasn't required, you want to protect your home and it's contents in case something catastrophic happens.
If you're a renter, it's not that much different. While you are not responsible for the actual structure that you live in, think what you would do if everything in your home went up in flames. What if your flat screen TV was stolen? What if everything you owned was ruined because the roof ripped off in a tornado?
Don't be fooled by thinking your landlord's insurance will cover your things. It doesn't. Therefore, you'll be out in the cold with NOTHING if you don't have renter's insurance when you need it.
Beyond just having renter's insurance, be mindful of the limit you place on your belongings. While it may be tempting to lowball your possessions for the lower premium, think about how much money you'd really need to replace all your clothing, jewelry, furniture and other things often forgotten like pots, pans, kitchen utensils, linens, personal hygiene items, small electronics forgotten in a drawer, like tablets and game consoles. Would $25k be enough? $50k?
Last summer, SERVPRO of Cheviot and Cleves were called to a local apartment complex that had caught fire due to negligence in cooking of a neighbor. So it wasn't even the customer's FAULT, yet her entire apartment affected, covered in soot and smelling of smoke.
We were on scene in minutes, packing up her belongings and hauling them back to our warehouse to be cleaned and inventoried. While she went through such a traumatic event, she didn't have to worry about her stuff or where it would end up.
We cleaned everything that was salvageable, and returned them to her in her new apartment weeks later. Her renter's insurance covered it all. The packing labor, materials, hauling, storage fees, everything.
Renter's insurance is pretty cheap, considering the benefits. Policies had be had for as little as $9 a month when bundled with other insurance, or a standalone policy is around $15 and up per month. Your stuff is worth that, right? You bet it is!
It will be ok
The Sun Is . . . Rising
While in Virginia Beach helping to clean up from the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew I was fortunate enough to stay right on the beach. (It turns out off season rates are as good as anywhere else in the area!) I began taking a picture of the sunrise over the ocean each morning because I don't get that opportunity very often and I would send the picture to my wife each day.
I was in Virginia Beach throughout the Presidential campaign season I returned home just before election day. When I was looking back over my pictures from this trip I saw this particular sunrise and thought of a story I have heard several times over the years. It is said that when the Constitutional Convention was concluding Benjamin Franklin commented on a chair that George Washington had been sitting in throughout the convention that had a semi-circle sun carved into it. He said that he was unsure if that was a rising sun or a setting sun throughout the convention. Finally, at the end of the convention he became certain that for America, the sun was indeed rising.
When I thought of that story and this picture of the sun rising over Virginia Beach I thought about this Hurricane and all the other Storm Events that I have travelled to. I thought about all the storms that have hit our country in the past and I thought to myself, it's going to be alright for these people. Our country is at its best when helping those in need and we have an amazing ability to overcome difficulties in order to keep moving forward. That story of the rising sun chair and the picture I took reminded me that everyone on the East Coast that was affected by Hurricane Matthew may never be the same and it may take a long time to fully recover. But I am certain because of the people I met that for Virginia Beach and any other community affected, the sun is rising.
Lots of rain!
Lots of rain is predicted for Cincinnati. If your sump pump fails or sewer backs up, call 513.467.6666. We'll be there to clean it up!
Most likely underinsured
The Man Family Cave
I was supposed to have the project done before my son was born, but before I knew it, there he was at 2 years old, climbing through the cabinets I was about to install as part of my basement remodel. It turns out that when you do it yourself, it takes a little longer! When I finally completed it, my family had a re-vamped basement that we could use for entertaining, playing or just connecting while watching a movie together. I was proud of my work and began to add up all the money I saved by doing it myself. Then I thought about the money I spent just on materials like carpet, drywall, paint, cabinets and tile not to mention the furniture and my son’s toys.
Being a SERVPRO owner, I know that the most common damage in basements is water damage. There are all kinds of sources like broken pipes, water heaters, washing machines, water softener tanks and of course anything that happens upstairs will eventually find its way down to the basement. But I felt really good knowing that if any of those things happened in my revamped basement my insurance would kick in and I could have someone else repair it!
Not So Fast!
Our customer was a young traveling sales rep and was gone from her home for several days at a time. This particular time, she had returned to find that the basement she just recently spent thousands of dollars to have finished sustained a water damage. There was a drain in the laundry area that backed up after a heavy rain and it was estimated that only about an inch or two of water got into the basement, but it made its way all over. By the time she returned home to find her wet basement and called us out, the water had already wicked up the walls about 14 inches!
No worries though! Insurance was there to cover the loss and everything was returned to preloss condition with little-to-no financial harm to the customer, right? I wish I could say that was the case. However, our customer discovered that this source of loss was only covered by a special coverage attached to a homeowner’s policy. Good news – she had that coverage. Bad news – there was limit of only $5000!!! For this job we had to cut out drywall 2ft from the floor, tear out carpet, remove baseboards, steam clean, apply a sanitizer and install drying equipment just to get the basement clean and dry. There was also a small bar that had to be removed and 4 rooms of furniture that sustained water damage plus the cost of repairing everything that had to be removed. I’m sure you can see that $5000 left our customer woefully underinsured.
The next day I began to think about my own basement and a particular drain right in front of the washing machine. I knew that I had drain back-up coverage, but I never really looked at my policy in detail to see how much. My basement wouldn’t be nearly as expensive to repair as our recent customer's if the same thing happened, but I also knew that it would take more than $5000. The next day I called my agent and found out that that I did indeed only have $5000 of coverage, so I asked to increase it. At that time, for an extra $50/year I could increase my coverage by $20,000 with my carrier. What a bargain!
All Things In Moderation
I’m not saying to run out and buy a bunch of insurance for drain back up if you don’t need it. I’m not saying go buy $50,000 or $100,000 of drain back up coverage if you do need some. However, I highly recommend taking a quick inventory of what you have in your basement and maybe do some online shopping to see what it might cost to replace those items if they were damaged by either rain water or sewage backing up from a sump pump or drain. Think about the materials that were used to finish your basement. Tile can withstand water damage especially when installed on concrete. Carpet may survive a sump pump or water heater failure, but it has to be disposed of if the water originated from a sewer drain. Cabinets may survive a sump pump failure, but not if the water sits long enough to cause warping. My advice is to work with your insurance agent to determine the right coverage for you and your situation. If you need this special coverage, you will be happy you have it if you sustain this kind of loss. If you need higher limits because you have more to lose it will cost a little more, but you will be relieved that you have it if you ever need it. Make sure you review your policy or call your agent today before it’s too late.
The last thing you want is to find out it’s going to cost more than you have to put your home back “Like it never even happened.”
My roof caused a flood in my basement?
Most people think that their roofs are just there to keep rain from getting in the house, so how could it cause a flood in the basement? Roofs are just a part of a complete drainage system where each part must work together to keep water from coming into the house anywhere. Like any system, if any part is not maintained it could cause the whole system to fail. Here is a quick look at some of the components of the drainage system of most properties:
- Roof (shingle, tile, rubber, metal, etc.)
- Gutters (and other metals like flashing and valleys)
- Drain pipes (above ground, underground)
- Sump Pump (and drain tile)
- Landscape grading
Where's the breakdown?
Roofing materials can wear out over time, gutters can become clogged or damaged, downspouts can get dented which reduces water flow, sump pumps can seize and mulch and dirt can wash out over time and build up against the foundation. When a part of the drainage system fails gravity takes over and generally deposits the rain into the basement. Do I have anyone interested in home ownership yet? The good news is that with a little bit of maintenance and inspection all of these parts of the system can keep water out of your basement as long as you live there. Lack of maintenance could result in the situation you see in the picture!
A season of opportunity
Spring is the season of opportunity. The season to sow, to try something new, to clean up and shake off the remnants of winter. So take the opportunity to walk around your property and look at these different drainage systems. You could even test some of them by spraying water on your roof to inspect for problems. You may not exactly feel like singing in the rain, but it is the best time to see how your drainage system is working. Keep safety in mind when you inspect and ask for help if you are unsure. If you believe water has already gotten into your basement we'll be happy to come out and inspect for wet materials and damage at no charge. Some simple maintenance will provide for years of happy homeownership.
We clean this too!
When you think of SERVPRO, you may only think of water, fire or mold cleanup. While that is a huge part of our business, it's not all we do when it comes to cleaning. Situations that are too messy, too personal, too risky or just too much for you to clean, we can clean!
Our technicians are specially trained to deal with all sorts of cleanup - those that come from unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances (crime scene cleanup, death/suicide cleanup) and those that seem an insurmountable task (hoarding situations, pet waste, etc). We do it all! We do the "yucky" stuff that people don't want to do.
It's not just a matter of restoring the property to "before" condition. It also has to do with following strict laws and guidelines that govern bio-hazard cleanup as well as properly sanitizing the affected areas. SERVPRO is not your everyday carpet cleaning company. We are equipped and ready to dive in and take care of any sticky situation and bring you back to "Like it never even happened."
Our staff is compassionate and empathetic to your situation and understands that many situations that involve bio-hazard cleanup are uncomfortable and emotionally taxing.
We want to take as much worry and stress off of you as we can. There really isn't much we can't clean up, so if you have any questions or wonder if we can tackle your messy cleaning job, just call us! We're available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to take the burden off of you and your family.
Please don't walk away from your stove while cooking! Flare ups can often happen and if you are not paying attention your cooking area can become an inferno in moments. Make sure all rags and any other easily combustible items are away from that area because they can easily accelerate and spread a flare up. Just by paying a little more attention to your cooking can save you and your family from a lot of damage. Be safe and remember that before you know it a fire can start!
If such a loss occurs remember we can make it “Like it never even happened.”
Our crew recently returned home from a two week trip to Chicago to aid in storm damage cleanup. On the night of April 17th the Northern Illinois and Western Michigan areas received around 5-7 inches of rain. SERVPRO was ready and dispatched one of our Storm Teams to help the massive amounts of customers with flood damage.
Our Storm Teams were developed precisely for this type of situation and have specially designed systems to get help to our customers as fast as possible, even during trying times like these. SERVPRO of Cheviot and Cleves is proud to be a member of the Storm Team that responded to the Chicago area.
We handled many different situations during our trip from an inch or two of water all the way up to 5 1/2 feet of water in basements. Some basements were not finished and some were. Many of the customers we helped experienced sewage backing up into their basement because the storm and sewer drainage systems in the area could not handle the tremendous amount of rain. Thankfully we are always ready with the knowledge, training, equipment and willingness to handle even the toughest jobs. In Chicago we definitely helped to make it "Like it never even happened."