Flood Damage Restoration Recommendations for Uninsured Losses
As we are still watching Houston residents escaping the floodwaters of Hurricane Harvey, it is never too soon to start to consider what steps need to be taken especially when you don’t have adequate insurance for water damage.
The following recommendations assume a flooding situation with horizontally traveling Category 3 (unsanitary) water containing silt and other contaminants have infiltrated into homes and businesses to a depth of a few inches or feet and remained for multiple days. When structures are completely submerged or remain substantially flooded for several weeks, more elaborate procedures may be required.
- Foremost, consider safety:
- Evacuate potentially respiratory or immune-compromised, or non-essential persons (e.g., children, the elderly, pregnant women; those recovering from extended illness or surgery, or those on regimens of prescription drugs or chemotherapy). When medical questions arise, consult with public health professionals.
- Before entering a heavily flood-damaged structure, open windows and doors and air it out thoroughly. Ventilation must be maintained during and following the restoration effort. This reduces but does not eliminate, the potential for inhaling pathogenic (disease causing) microorganisms. Also, allow as much sunlight into the structure as practical, since fresh air and ultraviolet light help inhibit microorganism growth.
- Consider the structural integrity of a damaged building before entering. Wear protective clothing, boots with steel or fiberglass shanks, and a hard hat. Have the building checked by a qualified builder or structural engineer when in doubt.
- Ensure that electrical shock hazards have been eliminated. Consult a licensed and qualified electrician when questions arise.
- Protect yourself from pathogenic microorganisms. Wear protective gloves before handling contaminated materials. Splash goggles should be worn to protect and prevent microorganism entry through the eyes. A vapor respirator (paint respirator) should be worn to prevent inhalation of most microorganisms or spores.
- Remove quantities of debris (silt, vegetation, floating objects) with shovels, rakes or any safe means practical. Clean and sanitize all tools when complete.
- Remove and dispose of drywall (Sheetrock®), paneling or other wall materials up to a point 15-24″ inches above the visible water line. If practical, stay within four feet of the floor to salvage as much wall material as practical since drywall is usually installed horizontally in 4’x8’ or 4’x12’ panels.
- Remove and dispose of insulation materials exposed during wall removal. Look for evidence of moisture wicking up insulation materials. Leave only materials that are durable, dry and minimally porous, and which can be cleaned and decontaminated with relative ease.
- Remove and dispose of carpet, cushion, pad, felt and sheet vinyl, or laminate flooring materials. Porous materials may absorb considerable quantities of water and contaminant, and non-porous materials may trap moisture to prolong drying. The inevitable result will be rapid microbial growth, along with associated odor and potential health hazards. Solid wood flooring should be removed since contaminants and moisture collect underneath in hollow areas between the wood and subfloor. The following procedures may require the assistance of a professional water-damage restorer, who has specialized biocides, and application and extraction equipment, if available.
- While maintaining ventilation and respiratory protection, liberally spray durable salvageable materials (e.g., studs, decking, joists) with appropriate biocides. Household chlorine bleach (e.g., Clorox®) mixed 1 part bleach to 11 parts water (½%) may be used on durable, colorfast surfaces. Never mix chlorine bleach with ammonia or strong acids!
- Following application of properly diluted biocides, brush agitate all areas to remove visible soils and to encourage biocide penetration into cracks and crevices. Professional restorers use pressurized spraying to accomplish this step.
- When fresh water is restored within the structure, flush contaminants from salvageable surfaces with a water hose or pressure washer. Work from top to bottom and from walls to flooring.
- Wet vacuum or mop up excess rinse water from flooring materials immediately. Thoroughly flush all contamination from wall frames. Pressure washing, if available, is specifically recommended to flush contaminants from hard-to-access areas, following contaminated water removal with industrial wet vacuuming equipment.
- Repeat steps 6-9 as necessary, until all surfaces are clean and contamination is physically removed.
- Lightly spray a final application of an approved non-chlorinated disinfectant to all salvageable surfaces.
- Dry structural components with plenty of air circulation, while maintaining constant ventilation (weather conditions permitting). If practical, take advantage of low outside humidity (check local weather reports). Use oscillating or box fans, moving them around the structure every few hours. Avoid temperature extremes that might slow drying or promote microorganism growth (68-86oF/20-30oC is ideal for growth). Rent high-volume professional drying equipment (airmovers and dehumidifiers) if available, especially in areas where ventilation is not possible (sealed buildings, security issues). All electrical components that were below the water line should be checked for operational safety by a qualified contractor.
- Leave cleaned structural surfaces exposed for several days or even weeks, or until you are sure that they have returned to within four percentage points of normal moisture content (generally the normal moisture content of structural wood is around 10%). Otherwise, subsequent structural damage and health hazards can result after wall and flooring materials have been replaced or painted.
- Durable, colorfast contents (e.g., washable clothing, dishes, glassware, furniture) might be salvageable if washed in warm detergent solutions. Common sense and caution should be used in determining contents salvageability.
Where financial resources permit, comprehensive restoration should be accomplished by trained, Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) Water Damage Restoration Technicians. They may be located by calling the IICRC referral line at 844.464.4272 (www.iicrc.org). To prevent mold growth on structural materials, property owners should consider hiring a professional restorer to evaluate moisture levels in structural materials before reconstruction.
How Do Professionals Use A Carpet Extractor?
To extend the life of carpeting and keep it smelling fresh and looking brand new, professional cleaning services will often use a carpet extractor. But many wonder just how this method works. A cleaning solution is injected into the fibers via a wand. The solution then adheres to the dirt and soil, and the use of pressure and suction brings the soil to the surface. The machine then extracts the remaining water, solution and dirt. Professionals use a carpet extractor in conjunction with other methods for the most effective results.
Dry extraction is a method in which a dry solution is used on the affected areas. The solution brings the dirt to the surface and then is removed through vacuuming.
Dry foam cleaning involves adding a foam detergent to the affected areas. The foam is worked into the carpet fibers and is then extracted, trapping the dirt in the foam.
Steam cleaning, also known as hot water cleaning, uses different rations of water and cleansing agents. Sometimes the carpet is preconditioned and then a cleaning wand applies the solution using high pressure to remove hard to reach dirt. The cleaning equipment then removes the water, solution mixture and the dirt.
Any of these methods can benefit professionals because they produce effective and high-quality results. Using cleaning equipment with proper techniques and cleansing agents can extend the life of the carpet.
Why IICRC Is A Top Carpet Cleaning Institute In America
The most respected carpet cleaning institute in America should be one that provides industry best training, excellent networking opportunities, and plenty of resources for professionals. This is what the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification (IICRC) strives to offer its registrants, and why it is considered the best treatment organization in the world. After all, with more than 50,000 professionals and 6,000 firms filling out the IICRC’s ranks, it’s a clear sign that the IICRC is a top organization.
The IICRC is not just the leading carpet cleaning institute in America. It is the leading organization in the world, with offices in Canada, Japan and Australia as well. Few other organizations can even come close to the IICRC’s global outreach, and no other organization in its field has received the ANSI’s approval in regards to their practices and standards.
It’s these practices and standards that truly help the IICRC stand out, as they are considered the industry’s best. During the IICRC’s training courses, which are taught through one of many approved schools, professionals will learn these practices, which can help them identify and remove a variety of soils. Once a professional attains certification through the IICRC, they can pick up additional skills with continuing education courses and other certification classes. Subject areas like odor control, color repair, and water damage restoration are just a few more disciplines that the IICRC can provide assistance with.
For more than 40 years, the IICRC has worked to improve professional knowledge in the industry, and with its standing in the field, it will be a respected member of the industry for many more decades.
Different Types Of Cleaning Courses Available
Professionals in the carpet cleaning industry are constantly looking for every advantage, as competition is tough among technicians, and cleaning courses and certification can be that advantage for many. Homeowners are no longer satisfied with just picking out any technician online and hiring them, no questions asked. Now, consumers expect their technicians to be extensively trained and educated, and the best way for a professional to attain this education is through an organization like the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, or IICRC.
Among the IICRC’s cleaning courses is the Carpet Cleaning Technician, or CCT. The CCT is the IICRC’s most popular class, and teaches the foundation that every professional should have. During the CCT, students are taught how to identify the variety of fibers they are likely to encounter while on the job. Students will learn how to treat each of these fiber types, using modern detergents and equipment.
By the time a professional completes the CCT course, they will be ready to take on a variety of jobs, and if a technician wants to improve their skills further and attract additional clientele, they can take other IICRC classes. Through the IICRC, a professional can learn how to neutralize odors, repair color damage, restore fire or water damage, and handle a variety of resilient flooring types as well, such as wood and stone.
The IICRC offers comprehensive training resources to professionals that want to improve their standing in the field, and once completed, these classes can provide a technician with a wealth of additional tools for their firm.
Getting A Carpet Cleaning Certification In AZ
When a professional is ready to get started in the industry, or when a professional wants to fill in any cracks in their knowledgebase, a carpet cleaning certification course in AZ can be the answer. The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) has the most comprehensive practices in the world when it comes to cleaning carpets, and this is why tens of thousands of professionals have become registrants through the organization.
Carpet cleaning certification courses in AZ are mostly available in Phoenix and Tucson, so professionals in the southern half of the state can easily get to a course without going far. Alternatively, students may travel to Las Vegas or Albuquerque for training if they don’t want to make the trip to Phoenix or Tucson. Regardless of where a professional travels, though, they will only need to be out of town for a couple days to complete the course and pass the exam.
During the IICRC’s course, professionals are tasked with handling a variety of work settings and soiling conditions. For each one, students will identify the soiled fabrics and learn how to effectively treat each fiber type. This is done with the IICRC’s five pillars concept, which is focused on removing both dry and suspended soils, drying and grooming the carpet.
Once a professional completes the course, passes the exam and becomes an IICRC registrant, they will be ready to better their career and take advantage of the IICRC’s other education resources, which can improve their skills further.
What To Do If You Find Water In The Basement
One of the worst nightmares for any homeowner is finding water in the basement, and in most cases, the only way to deal with such a situation is to bring in a professional. Excess water, especially when it is contaminated, has the potential to cause a great deal of damage, and if the problem is not dealt with properly, the situation can quickly get out of hand. This is especially true when water is pooling in the home and coming in contact with organic materials like drywall or fabric.
Water in the basement can be caused by a lot of factors. The room may sit under the water table, which will slowly push water into the home. A disaster like a flood can quickly fill the room with fluid, as well as a burst pipe or other plumbing mishap. No matter what causes the water to build up in the home, it will take a certified team to remove it and restore the basement effectively.
There are a couple steps, though, that a homeowner can take to minimize damage and make the home safe to navigate through. If a pipe burst or is leaking, then cutting off the supply line into the home can halt the problem. Also, switching off the home’s power may be necessary, as an electrical discharge can make walking through water exceedingly dangerous and cause a fire.
Safety is the primary concern when contending with excess moisture, and a certified crew will be able to get the home restored in while avoiding any dangerous situations.
6 Steps To Follow After Fire Damage
Safety is a primary concern when dealing with fire damage. Returning to normal may seem impossible, but thankfully it isn’t. After calling the fire department, home and business owners should be aware that the building may be dangerous. Entering the building should be avoided since the environment could be toxic. No one should enter the house or office until the emergency responders approve that it is safe. Roofs and floors could be unsafe and could possibly cave in without notice. Smoke, soot and water are problems that need to be dealt with as soon as possible. Home and business owners should take the following steps following a fire:
- Contact local disaster relief. In some cases, relatives will open their home for their families or friends in an emergency. If that is not an option, local services can help families find shelter, food and medication
- Contact the insurance company. The insurance company can help home and business owners understand what they must do in order to file a claim and receive compensation.
- Utilities should not be turned on if the emergency responders have shut them off. They could be extremely hazardous and should only be used if a professional says it is safe.
- Call the landlord or mortgage company and inform them about the situation
- Call the police and inform them that the office or home will be vacant until the building is restored.
- Receipts should be saved to provide information to the insurance company and to claim losses on income tax forms.
Fire damage can be severe, but restoration is possible. It is important to proceed with caution to prevent any further damage. With experienced restoration professionals and some time, a house or office can often be restored to its original condition.
Why Is Mold And Mildew Such A Big Threat?
Mold and mildew are some of the most persistent enemies a homeowner can have, and getting rid of them for good can be a major hassle without professional assistance. Fungi is particularly stubborn in humid areas, though they can take root in any home that has issues with moisture buildup. All it takes is a slight, steady plumbing leak, or a slightly cracked window to give the fungi all the moisture and space it needs to operate. And once it shows up, it will spread quickly if not checked. This is why homeowners are often best served by seeking out certified professionals, as they will be able to completely eliminate the contamination without allowing it to spread.
The primary threat that mold and mildew produce is to the building inhabitants. Fungi contamination can aggravate allergies and respiratory conditions such as asthma. This is especially problematic in young children and the elderly, who are susceptible to both. Fungi, though, can also destroy material and necessitate expensive replacements and repairs if not dealt with promptly.
Remediation firms are experts at halting the spread of fungal contamination, and they know how to seal off the area to keep it from dispersing. And with their commercial grade products and processes, the contamination can be eliminated in short order. This quick response will minimize the damage and ensure the home is healthy enough for a family to live and relax in.
Why Is Attending Carpet Cleaning School Beneficial?
There are thousands of restoration services throughout the country, and those looking to improve their skills should look into carpet cleaning school. Courses and seminars can benefit a technician and prevent costly mistakes. With today’s technology, courses can be taken locally or online at the convenience of the technician. Most courses are only one to two days long, and the information they provide is invaluable. With the availability of the internet, just about anyone can learn tips and tricks on how to clean something, but certified technicians will offer the best results.
But what makes carpet cleaning school so beneficial? People who reach out to a cleaning service do so because they are afraid of ruining their furniture or making the problem worse. Technicians who take a course will learn the science behind the fiber types and the best cleansing agents for each. With a course, they won’t learn cookie cutter solutions, but instead will learn how to figure out the best course of action depending on the particular situation.
These courses also help professionals who already have certification. Technicians can attend courses in order to develop a specialty. Courses can be purely academic, or offer demonstrations of different products and materials. Since technicians and businesses do not need to be certified, doing so will prove how dedicated and serious they are about the service they provide.
Why Should IICRC Certified Carpet Cleaners Be Hired?
IICRC certified carpet cleaners have experience, qualifications, and training to provide quality service. Unqualified companies may try to lure in customers with low-rates or specials, only to provide poor service from a lack of training. Many homeowners will avoid professionals and try to do the job themselves. Unfortunately, DIY projects can result in ruining the carpeting in a number of ways. This often occurs because customers don’t know who to trust. Pricing for a professional doesn’t have to be expensive, it should be reasonable.
The IICRC provides technicians with resources for hands-on training and certification. They also provide consumers with resources to ensure that the technicians that are hired are properly and extensively trained. Professionals must attend classes and pass an exam to become certified. In addition, technicians can further their education to become specialized in a number of areas within the industry. Customers can also ask for references from previous customers. If a technician can’t provide proof of their training or experience, then customers should look to a different company to do business with. Customers can search through the IICRC’s online database to find a company that is certified. When working with IICRC certified carpet cleaners homeowners can rest assured that the job will be done right the first time.