Mold Experts: Certified Mold Remediation Firm

Not all mold remediation companies are the same.  Helpers is an IICRC certified firm (Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification).   The IICRC is responsible for setting international quality standards for restoration activities from carpet cleaning and water damage restoration to professional mold remediation.  These standards are based upon industry accepted best practices.

Helpers achieved certification by meeting rigorous requirements set by the IICRC.  Our technicians participate in ongoing, specialized training.  We are committed to provide our customers with exceptional services that meet the highest consumer protection standards set by the IICRC.   We don’t cut corners.

You can be confident that Helpers will restore your home or property to healthful living standards.  Look for the IICRC logo when selecting a disaster restoration company to insure you are getting the very best service and care for your property.   Only certified remediation firms can use the Clean Trust Certified logo.

The following is taken from the IICRC website and lists the requirements that Helpers is committed to:

IICRC Certified Firms have earned the right to display the IICRC logo as a symbol of quality. In order to achieve IICRC-certified status, firms must meet a rigorous list of standards in business ethics and expertise. All IICRC Certified Firms must:

  • Present accurate information to consumers and conduct business with honesty and integrity.
  • Require a technician on all jobs who has been formally trained and passed all required tests.
  • Require a continuing education program to keep technicians up-to-date on the latest changes in the industry.
  • Maintain liability insurance to protect all parties in the event of an accident.
  • Maintain a written complaint policy and agree to Better Business Bureau or similar arbitration to resolve disputes, and accept the conclusions and recommendations of arbitration.

5 Point Winter Checklist: Water Emergency Prevention

deer

Brrrr.  The temperature is starting to drop outside, with the first official frost of the season on its’ way.  Are you ready?  More importantly, is your home ready?

It is no coincidence that winter time is Helpers’ busiest time of the year for indoor flood calls.   Plummeting temperatures, lack of preparation or deferred maintenance can put your property at risk.

Check out this 5 Point Checklist to run through to help prepare your home for the winter:

Maintain Outdoor Plumbing Fixtures:  Outdoor hose spigots are a significant source of home water damange in the winter.  If you have an indoor shut off control make sure you turn this off and follow any instructions to drain lines before freezing temperatures arrive.  If you cannot turn spigots off internally, you can replace them with freeze and frost proof spigots or cover them with foam faucet covers to prevent freezing. This includes outdoor showers or dog washes (if you are lucky enough to have them).

Insulate Piping:  Any plumbing that is located in an unheated area of your home such as an attic, basement  crawl space or garage, as well as pipes that are located close to an exterior wall, are at greater risk for freezing.  Installing foam pipe insulation can help reduce freezing risk.

Kitchen plumbing located on an exterior wall can be warmed on really cold nights by opening the cabinet doors and letting additional heat in.    If you live in an older home or have areas of your home that have poor insulation, you can add foam or fiberglass insulation to hold in the heat.  Caulking and spray foam can be used in smaller spaces to keep the cold out.

Protect Your Home When You Are Away:  Planning on escaping the cold for a warmer destination?   Make sure your home will be safe while you are away.  Houselogic recommends setting your thermostat no lower than 55 degrees and turning off your main water supply. They also suggest draining your water lines by running water and flushing toilets.  If you have a heating system that relies on water or a fire suppression sprinkler system, consult a plumber before you take this step.

Clean Your Eaves-troughs:  Your eaves-troughs can clog with leaves and other debris creating dams for water.  These dams can freeze and expand which can not only damage the troughs themselves, but can also cause water to back up into your home.  If you have a low sun exposure area, you can add heat tape the length of a drain pipe, eave or in an area of the roof line to prevent ice build up.

Close Crawl Space Vents:  During the summer, moisture build-up in crawls spaces is prevented by opening vents located around the perimeter of the space.  Because winter months tend to be dryer, starting around October, these vents can be closed in the winter to reduce cold air entering your home.  Be sure to open them back up in the spring before moisture can begin to build up in the space.  Also, DO NOT close off any venting that is installed to vent furnaces or appliances!

 

Does Your Insurance Cover Water Damage in Your Home: 5 Things You Should Know

Photo by L Church
Photo by L Church

Indoor plumbing is a modern convenience that first appeared in homes in the late 1800’s.  When everything goes right, it brings you your hot shower and fresh drinking water.   However, when things go wrong, such as a ruptured water line, failed hot water tank or overflowing toilet, water can wreak havoc in you home.

These unexpected events are more common than you may think and can be very costly to clean up and repair.  Fortunately, the majority of home owner’s insurance policies have coverage for sudden, accidental water events.   There are instances however, such as neglected maintenance or failure to fix a leak the first time you have water damage that can lead to a loss of coverage.  Check out these five important tips to make sure your water loss is covered.

Keep Your Homeowner’s or Renter’s Insurance Current:   Your home and your possessions likely represent one of your most significant investments and are where a majority of your wealth lies.   More often than you might guess, homeowners and renters find themselves without insurance coverage following a damaging water event.  Missing payments and letting policies lapse are common causes of lost coverage.

Make sure you have a plan in place to monitor your insurance coverage (eg. when premiums are due, when your policy is due for renewal, what your coverage is).

Don’t Defer General Home Maintenance:   Besides just making good sense, preventative maintenance may be effective enough to eliminate water events altogether.  Checking pipes for leaks, making sure plumbing fixtures are installed properly and monitoring the condition of your roof can be small steps to prevent much larger repair and replacement steps down the road.

Knowing the most common as well as the less known areas of maintenance are important.  “Most homeowners and business owners may not realize that they are responsible for the maintenance and repair of their house or sewer lateral – the pipeline between the city sanitary sewer main, usually located under the street, and the building”, sources at The Insurance Institute report.

Insurance coverage may not pay for the repair of damage caused by leaks that have been ongoing and not repaired.  It is important to repair any water damage or leaks as soon as possible after they occur, rather than allow several events to happen before making the repair.  Otherwise, you may end up paying the bill.

Make Sure You Have Coverage for Septic or Sewage Back Up:  Many policies may not include damage related to sewer back up.  Often, this type of coverage is a add-on to your policy at a relatively low cost of $40-$50 per year according to several insurance websites.  Sewer back ups are one of the more common water events our company sees throughout the year.

Report Water Damage as Soon as Possible:  When you discover water damage in your home, you should call your insurance company as soon as possible.  They will initiate a claim on your behalf and will often provide a local insurance adjuster to review and approve your claim.  Timely reporting will give you the best opportunity for coverage as well as expedite the restoration of repair of the damage to your home.

Team up With Your Mitigation Company:   Dealing with insurance companies can be time consuming and challenging.  Your professional mitigation company  will work directly with your insurance adjuster, on and off-site, to make sure you receive the full coverage you are entitled to.

Experienced technicians speak “insurance language” and are knowledgeable regarding industry standards for water mitigation services and repair.  They can assist you in understanding the entire claim’s process.  We recommend not accepting any insurance settlement offer for your property damage without first consulting a professional mitigation company to make sure that you and your insurance adjuster, fully understand the extent of damage and the likely cost of repairing your home back to pre-event condition.

 

Proper Cleaning of Contaminated Flood Events in Your Home: Carpet Cleaning is not Enough

E Coli Bacteria

Sewer overflows and back-ups are common property water emergencies.   Proper remediation of your home is essential to restore a healthful and safe environment for occupants.  Restoration procedures for these types of events are often extensive and costly.  Understandably, consumers want to make sure they are getting the right service for their money and not getting taken for a ride.   What do you need to know to make sure the job is done right?

Understanding the Situation

The type of water introduced to your home environment during these events, in our industry, is labelled Category 3 water.  Each category of water (there are three) has its own remediation standards and risk ratings.  Category 3 water is defined as ” …grossly unsanitary, and could cause severe illness or death if ingested.  Sources for category 3 water include, but are not limited to, sewage; flooding from rivers or streams; wind-driven rain, water from beyond the toilet trap; water from the toilet bowl with feces [basement ejector pumps]; and standing water that has begun to support microbial growth.”

Often, this water may appear mostly clear, and homeowners might assume that is not actually “dirty water”.  Appearances can be deceiving.   According to one definition, sewage consists mostly of grey water (from sinks, tubs, showers, dishwashers, and clothes washers), black water (the water used to flush toilets, combined with the human waste that it flushes away); soaps and detergents; and toilet paper.  Even though this flood water may not contain obvious feces (although it can), the connection to your septic and home waste removal system, creates a pathway for the introduction of bacteria and contaminates none-the-less.  Ejector pumps for example, often clear waste water from lower level bathrooms where traditional plumbing in not available.  The basins for these pumps contain raw, untreated, sewage.

Is Carpet Cleaning Enough?

Depending upon the surface exposure to contaminated water and the nature of the material, it is recommended by industry experts, that “[Remediation Companies] remove and dispose of carpet and carpet pad from all affected areas and remove and discard all contaminated porous and semi-porous structural materials (e.g. wooden baseboard, saturated drywall and wall coverings)”.  Materials not removed, may remain impregnated with the contaminants from sewage (e.g. viruses, bacteria (including e-coli), and fungi) .  Beyond the obvious risk of exposure to these substances, a fertile ground for mold growth can be created.

Frequently, we will meet customers who have had category three water events in their home and have merely extracted the water and steam cleaned the carpets.   A remediation specialist who proposes that this is sufficient, in an attempt to save you money, is not really doing you any favors.  As industry experts, certified technicians, know that this falls short of the recommended steps for a safe and complete home restoration.  The cost of full restoration, may lead consumers to make decisions that can leave their homes and its inhabitants at risk.

According to the Carpet Buyers Handbook, “This type of flooding [unsanitary water] can produce serious health effects…All floor covering materials must be discarded and other surfaces should be carefully evaluated.”   In fact, only in instances of sanitary water leaks, is extraction of water sufficient if handled immediately.

What are the Recommended Steps?

Our industry standards of care are taken from the ANSI/IICRC S500 and S520 guidelines for professional water damage restoration (The American National Standards Institute/Institute of Inspection and Cleaning and Restoration Certification).  To properly address a Category 3 water event, your remediation specialist should:

  1. Locate the source of the water and stop any further intrusion. It may be required to contact a professional plumber or other contractor.
  2. Protect furniture and personal items.
  3. Extract water from carpet and/or pad using a sub-surface extraction tool.
  4. Apply a biocide to all affected surfaces to help prevent and retard the growth of microbials.
  5. Remove and dispose of carpet and carpet pad from all affected areas. Remove and discard all contaminated porous and semi-porous structural materials.
  6. Inspect all areas that water may have traveled. Document all moisture levels in affected areas.
  7. Install air movers (approx. every 10-15 linear feet) and dehumidifiers. All air movers should be blowing in the same direction.
  8. Monitor job daily. Record all drying data and keep accurate records.
  9. Reinstall carpet with new pad after drying is complete.
  10. Replace all structure materials that were removed.
  11. After drying is complete, all affected areas will need to be cleaned.

 

Because all water events are unique, Helpers will assess a home flood to determine the source and the extent of work that should be completed to insure full restoration.  These standards are well known within our industry and established by our certification body.  Carpet cleaning and extraction may be sufficient for clean water floods, such as with an over-filled tub or a burst pipe, however, if the source is more nefarious, make sure you know what the proper procedures are.  Helpers’ mission is to restore your home to pre-event health and safety.  We wouldn’t cut corners in our own homes and we won’t cut corners in yours.

 

Complete Mold Remediation: Fogging vs. Removal

big mold

The prospect of removing mold growth from your home can seem overwhelming and expensive. Different mitigation companies may offer different methods for mitigating mold, but which one is the most effective?

Some companies will suggest that fogging or spraying the mold with chemicals to “kill” it is sufficient for correcting your mold problem. Complicating matters further, these bids will seem attractive as they are usually significantly lower than a complete remediation estimate. This is understandable as often these bids do not include actual mold removal or air quality tests or guarantees upon completion of the work.

According to the IICRC (The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration), killing mold without removing it is not considered a complete solution to your mold problem. In their newly published guidelines  (2015 Guidelines), the IICRC states “Remediators should not mist or fog disinfectants or sanitizers in an attempt to kill mold in lieu of source removal”. The EPA is in agreement stating, “Dead mold may still cause allergic reactions in some people, so it is not enough to simply kill the mold, it must also be removed.”

Complete and effective mold remediation includes the removal of mold at the source such as drywall, insulation or other porous materials. Mold is resilient and covering it up is not a solution.

Helpers is a Certified Mold Remediation firm that follows the highest industry standards to insure that your home is safe and hazard free.‪#‎helpers‬ ‪#‎moldremediation‬ ‪#‎dontcutcorners‬

Beware the Lowest Bidder: 5 Questions to Ask

Low Bidder

Is the lowest bid the best bid?

When gathering bids for work around your home, whether it be construction or mold mitigation, it may be tempting to jump at the cheapest price provided. Homeowners be aware, all bids may not be created equal. If you have received several bids and one stands out as substantially lower than other bids, this could be an early warning sign of trouble down the road. Here are five tips to consider when deciding which proposal is best for your project.

1. How Low is the Lowest?: If you have more than one bid and there is a big difference in price proposal, that could be an early warning sign of potential problems or disputes down the road. Sometimes low bidders have made errors in their bidding or be using a “low ball” bid just to get their foot in the door (with expensive add-ons coming your way after you award the contract).

If you have two bids that are very different, it’s worth the effort to get a third bid to see which bidder might be the outlier.

2. Does Each Bid Cover the Same Amount of Work?: At first glance, a low bid may seem like a money saver, but be careful that you are comparing apples to apples. Check the scope of work outlined on each bid and make sure they match your expectations and the requirements of your project. Clauses in construction contracts that state the bid can be changed due to unforeseen circumstances could add up to surprise bills down the road.

3. Are Your Bidding Contractors Insured and Licensed?: Sometimes bids can be lower from companies that cut corners on industry requirements (such as liability and workers compensation insurance or license and certification requirements) unbeknownst to the homeowner. Make sure you vet your contractors before you hire them with reference checks or prior work review. Easy acceptance of a low bid without due diligence could lead to costly redo’s or shoddy workmanship.

4. Are Your Contractors Equally Qualified and Experienced?: Many contractors can claim to offer different services, however, they may not all be cut from the same cloth. Check into the special training or experience they might have related to your project. In the mitigation industry some companies follow higher quality standards based upon state certifications for example. This could mean the difference between a thorough job done properly versus an incomplete job.

5. Is the Bid too Good to be True?: If it seems like it, it probably is. There are countless stories about homeowner’s paying to re-repair poor workmanship that caused more trouble down the road. Don’t pay twice to get your project done correctly. Be willing to take the more realistic bid to make sure your work is done properly and that you get full value for your money. Trust your instincts. ‪#‎helpers‬ ‪#‎lowestbidder‬ ‪#‎rightthefirsttime‬

Helpers: Part of Your Community

Helpers Disaster Restoration is proud of its’ local heritage and ownership.  Red Cunningham, owner of Helpers, has lived with his family in the Roaring Fork Valley for nearly twenty years.  Like many of you, he is grateful to live in such an amazing place and to raise his family here.

For Red and all of us at Helpers, it is important to us that our community thrives.  That is why a big part of our mission is to support local organizations and events.  Helpers staff volunteer at a variety of events and are members of our local chambers.

In addition, Helpers will be a sponsor for the 2016 Carbondale Wild West Rodeo as well as The Roaring Fork Sports Foundation Annual Golf tournament.  They will also provide sponsorship to the Sopris Century Ride: Ride for the Child.

Helpers looks forward to many more years of partnering with our community.

Red Cunningham
Red Cunningham

Flood: Fast Water Shut-Off Reduces Loss

Do you know where your home or office water shut off valve is? In times of flood or water leak events, fast shut off of your main water supply can significantly reduce structure and property damage. Helpers recommends that you take time to locate your shut off valve and show others who might be the first to respond to a water emergency where it is and how to shut the water off.

water shut off

Sewer Back Ups: A Dirty Water Emergency!

sewer problems

Sewage back-ups are common causes of home and business property damage. Sewage is contaminated water that contains bacteria including E-coli and other toxic substances. It can cause illness or spread disease if it enters your living or work space and is not properly cleaned.

Here are 5 prevention tips:

1. Avoid flushing objects down the toilet that can clog your pipes.
2. Remove trees near septic and sewer lines to prevent pipe blockage or damage from invasive tree roots.
3. Have a sump pump installed in your basement to handle flooding.
4. Have back flow prevention devices installed.
5. Have your sewer lines cleaned if they are prone to blockage.