How to Prevent Frozen Pipes in the Winter

frozen pipes

Aspen and the surrounding area is known for cold winters, with average January temperatures ranging between about 9 and 35 degrees. When temperatures drop below-freezing numbers, we know to bundle up when we head outdoors. But how much do you know about what below-freezing temperatures can do to your pipes?

Frozen pipes can cause serious household damage. Flooding and even the pooling of water caused by a burst or cracked pipe can lead to long-term issues with mold and deterioration.

Fortunately, there are ways that you can prepare for the winter and protect your pipes from becoming frozen. There are also steps you can take when pipes do become frozen to mitigate damage.

Read on to learn everything you need to know to protect your pipes and your home from freezing temperatures this winter.

Frozen Pipe Prevention Tips

There’s nothing you can do to warm things up outside during a Colorado winter. However, there are some preventative measures you can take to protect your pipes when temperatures drop. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can lower the risk of frozen pipes.

Disconnect and Insulate

Some pipes are more likely to freeze than others. These same pipes typically aren’t needed in the winter months. Drain the water supply lines connected to any outdoor swimming pools, hose connections, and sprinkler supply lines.

Also, you’re going to want to increase the insulation in your home. Did you know that American households lose up to 25% of their forced heat circulation due to poor insulation?

First, insulate areas around your vents and light fixtures to prevent heat from making its way into the attic. Look around your basement and crawl space for any cracks in the wall and seal them off, as well. These cracks often appear around your utility service lines.

Exposed pipes or pipes that are located near exterior walls may also need some extra insulation. You can use foam and duct tape to wrap the pipes and help keep out the cold.

Allow for Heat Circulation

Indoor temperatures should stay above 55 degrees to prevent frozen pipes. To maximize the work your HVAC system can do, you’re going to want to make sure that heat is circulating where it counts.

When temperatures drop below 32 degrees, open up the cabinets concealing any pipes. You can also increase the heat in your basement with a space heater, but make sure that you plug it into a grounded outlet and keep it away from flammable materials. Do not leave the space heater on overnight.

Should You Keep a Faucet Dripping?

It’s not uncommon to see people advocating for keeping one or two faucets dripping to prevent frozen pipes. Does this work and is it worth it?

Water freezes at temperatures of 32 degrees or lower. However, for the pipes to freeze, temperatures typically need to drop to around 20 degrees or lower.

When temperatures dip below 20 degrees, it isn’t a bad idea to keep a faucet running, especially if the connecting pipes are attached to an external wall. A slow and steady drip will help the water continued to circulate, lowering the chances that the water, itself, will freeze–which can then cause the pipes to freeze or burst, as well.

Signs and Symptoms of Frozen Pipes

How can you tell if you already have a frozen pipe somewhere in your house?

The first telltale sign is a faucet that doesn’t produce water when you turn it on. However, to determine that a frozen pipe is a culprit, you’ll need to rule out other possibilities.

Look for signs of leaking beneath the faucet in question. You will also need to check your basement or crawl space for leaks, as well. If you find no leaks or burst pipes, the odds are good that you have a frozen pipe on your hands.

How to Deal With Frozen Pipes

Before you try to tackle a frozen pipe, go around and open your faucets. Thawing a frozen pipe can cause a pressure build-up and you need to ensure that any water caught in that pressure has somewhere to go.

Then, locate the frozen pipe and apply heat to it. You can do this with electric heating pads that are designed to safely wrap around pipes. You can also do this with a hairdryer, although the first method is better for pipes that have experienced a large amount of freezing.

Never use a blow torch to heat a frozen pipe. This level of heat is too high for most pipes and could cause serious damage.

My Pipes Froze and Burst! Now What?

Sometimes, homeowners don’t catch a frozen pipe until it’s too late. If your pipes burst and you’ve got flooding on your hands, don’t panic.

First, head to your main water shut off valve. You can usually find this in your basement or on an outside wall, depending on where your utility wall is located. Shut off the water supply to stop further flooding until the pipes are fixed.

Then, give us a call for water damage restoration. Any existing water needs to be addressed immediately to prevent costly issues down the road. Plus, most insurance companies want to see that you mitigated the damage to the best of your abilities before footing the bill.

In fact, you’re going to want to call us before you contact your insurance or a plumber. When you’ve got flooding on your hands, that excess water is the first thing you need to address.

We’re Here to Help

Living in Colorado means dealing with long, cold winters. In turn, that means that Colorado homeowners should be aware of frozen pipes, how to prevent them, and what to do when a pipe or two is already frozen.

At Helpers Disaster Restoration, we make it our job to take care of the unforeseen. If you’ve experienced flooding in your home, don’t panic. Contact us and let us help you restore your home after a disaster.

Water Works: How to Handle Water Damage in Aspen

Water Damage

There are two things every Aspen resident needs, according to the city government: flood insurance and a flood plan. This is especially important for anyone living in the 100-year floodplain.

Why is flooding such a pressing issue in Aspen? Living so close to Roaring Fork River means anticipating a possible flood anytime the water levels rise. Plus, flooding of any kind can cause some serious water damage in your home.

What do you after a flood hits your home? Whether you’re looking at a burst pipe or a natural disaster, it’s important to know how to handle it and what to do to restore your property.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about handling water damage in Aspen.

Preparing For an Emergency

The best way to handle an emergency is to prepare for it in advance. Let’s talk about some of the steps you can take before a flood hits that will help mitigate some of that water damage.

Preparing for Natural Disasters

When you live in an area like Aspen, it’s important to stay prepared for flooding. Make sure you know what radio stations provide updates when flooding occurs and pack an emergency disaster kit. Remember, an emergency disaster kit should include both the supplies you need and copies of all of your important documents.

When you know a flood is coming, take precautions. Move your valuables to higher floors. If you’re in a zone that tends to get hit the hardest, make sure you’re prepared to sandbag and ditch your property.

Finally, make sure you know where your emergency breaker is. In the event of a serious flood, it’s important to shut off your electricity.

Preparing for Burst Pipes

It may seem counterintuitive to prepare for something as unexpected as burst pipes. However, the solution is simple.

Your biggest priority, when a pipe bursts, is to shut off the water supply. Make sure you know where your main water supply shut off valve is. In most residential properties, you will find this valve in the basement or on a utility wall outside.

Assessing the Damage

Once the source of flooding has been addressed and it is safe to return to your property, it’s time to assess the damage. Let’s take a look at how that works and why it’s important.

Documenting Water Damage

When you’re documenting the water damage in your property, you’re going to want to gather as much evidence as possible. That means taking photos and videos in addition to itemizing any destroyed valuables.

If the damage is severe, you may want to bring an appraiser to the property to get a professional opinion.

Contacting Your Insurance

Why do you need to document the damage? Why can’t you just start fixing it right away?

Most Aspen property owners have flooding insurance and with serious water damage, you’re going to want to use it. However, to receive full coverage, you’re going to need to prove two things.

The first thing you’ll need to prove is how bad the damage is. The second is what you’re doing to address that damage as quickly as possible to mitigate worsening damage down the road.

Calling in Flood Restoration

Should you try to tackle water damage on your own? After serious flooding, it’s best to call in flood restoration professionals. With a Helpers Disaster Restoration in Aspen, you don’t need to outsource to Denver to get professional restoration.

Let’s take a look at what we’ll do to restore your property.

Dry Out the Property

First thing’s first: we dry out your property. After severe flooding, your property needs more than just an overnight airdry. It will take industrial equipment to remove water from the walls and floors and reduce the humidity inside.

Why is this such an important step? When a property remains damp for too long, it becomes more likely to develop costly structural damage. Property with severe structural damage becomes uninhabitable.

Plus, lingering moisture creates the perfect breeding grounds for mold. Mold isn’t just unpleasant to look at. It can also exacerbate symptoms of respiratory ailments such as asthma and allergies.

By prioritizing drying out the property, we can stop the water damage from spreading and getting worse.

Replace Water Damaged Structural Elements

Some structural elements are bound to undergo damage in the event of flooding. Many of these elements are easy to replace and it often makes more economic sense to replace them rather than restore them.

Anytime we’re dealing with flooding, we’re probably looking at floor replacement. Whether you have carpeting, linoleum, or wood flooring, it often makes the most sense to remove the damaged sections and rebuild. In some cases, your flooring may look fine on the surface but have damaged subflooring just below.

We may also need to demolish and replace certain walls, especially if the drywall or insulation sustained water damage. We work quickly and efficiently to ensure that you can get back to your property as soon as possible.

Let Helpers Disaster Restoration Deal With Your Water Damage

If you live in Aspen, Colorado, you’re bound to see a flood or two in your lifetime. Whether you’re concerned about your residential property or your commercial property, rest assured that Helpers Disaster Restoration is here to help. Water damage is no laughing matter, and we work hard to restore your property as diligently and quickly as possible.

To get started, contact us today. Call us at 970-927-3600 or fill out our online form with your name, email, and a description of the damage to be restored. We’ll be in touch right away to discuss what we can do to restore your property.

7 Warnings Signs Your Home Needs Asbestos Testing

asbestos testing

If you have an older home, asbestos testing is well worth the investment. Asbestos has been used in building materials in the U.S. for decades. While it’s commonly found in a lot of products and construction materials, exposure to large amounts can be dangerous.

If you suspect your home has asbestos, a professional can perform tests and removal procedures to keep you and your family safe. Long-term exposure to asbestos can cause respiratory problems, chest pain, and even cancer.

Luckily, this round-up has everything you need to know about asbestos. From the type of materials used in your home to its age, we’ll go over the six most common asbestos signs to watch for. Here’s how you can tell if you may have asbestos in your home.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos consists of six natural minerals. These minerals make soft, flexible, heat resistant fiber. In the early 1970s, the U.S. consumption of asbestos products peaked. Asbestos products were affordable, easy to manufacture, and cost-effective to build with.

Exposure to asbestos over several years can cause serious health and respiratory problems. Thankfully, by the late 1970s, people began to better understand the dangerous effects of too much asbestos exposure. Labor unions began to require safer work environments and asbestos-free conditions.

Asbestos is still used in a number of consumer goods and construction materials. Products made with less than 1% of asbestos are still allowed in the United States, today.

1. You Have an Older Home

If you have an older home, it’s likely your home may contain asbestos. If your home was built prior to 1980, chances are asbestos materials were used. Asbestos is in walls, floor tiles, roofs, and ceilings in almost all homes built before the 1980s.

If you’re purchasing an older home, you can ask if an asbestos test was ever done. If it hasn’t, you may be able to order one prior to closing. If you’re planning on doing significant renovations, you’ll want to assume there was asbestos used so you’re prepared for the removal costs when you get started.

2. Your Home has Vinyl Tiles

Asbestos is most commonly found in vinyl tiles versus other types of flooring. Before you buy a home with vinyl flooring, know that it is highly probable you have asbestos under your floor.

Vinyl tile flooring was especially popular in the 1980s. Many products were made before asbestos restrictions were put in place. If you’re ripping up old vinyl tile floors, you’ll want to hire an asbestos professional to test and remove the asbestos before you continue with construction.

3. Insulation on Your Pipes

If you have an older home, your pipes were likely insulated with asbestos because it is fireproof. If you see gray or white insulation around your pipes that were installed before the 1980s – these will likely contain asbestos. Pipes may contain a large amount of asbestos so it’s important to have them professionally tested.

4. You Have Old Ceiling Tiles

If your ceiling tiles are older, there could be asbestos inside. Before you start tearing a celling apart, make sure you have a professional come to inspect them. When asbestos is disturbed, the particles can become dangerous to breathe.

Have a professional come in to remove any asbestos particles before you start remodeling your ceiling or adding an addition. Breathing in too much asbestos can be dangerous to your respiratory system when inhaled.

5. Your Home Has Roofing Sheets

Most of the corrugated, flat, sheets of roofing have some asbestos in them. White asbestos is the most durable for roofing projects due to its fireproofing. There can be dangerous levels of asbestos in these products, however so it’s best to call a professional if you suspect you have asbestos on your roof.

If you’re purchasing a new home, your home inspector may be able to tell you about any suspected asbestos they find. A roofer may also find this during an inspection or any maintenance work.

6. Health Problems: Do I Have Asbestos Poisoning?

If you’ve lived in an older home for a long period of time, you may have been exposed to asbestos. Small amounts of asbestos exposure aren’t likely to cause damage, but over enough time you could feel serious side effects.

Symptoms of asbestos poisoning include shortness of breath, a dry cough that won’t go away, weight loss, loss of appetite, chest pain or finger and toe clubbing. Clubbing is when your toes and fingers look rounder and wider than they normally do. Asbestos poisoning can also lead to cancer in some cases.

If you feel any signs of asbestos poisoning, talk to your doctor right away. If you suspect asbestos in your home, call a professional to inspect it and remove it before symptoms worsen.

When Your Home Needs Asbestos Testing

If your house is older, there’s a good chance you may have asbestos in some part of your home. There are several different types of materials used in home construction containing asbestos.

If your home has asbestos it could be causing you or your family health problems. Long-term exposure to asbestos can cause severe respiratory problems and even cancer if left untreated. Professional asbestos testing is the only way to tell if it’s present in your home.

If you suspect asbestos, fill out the form here to get in touch with a professional who can come and inspect it.

Sewer Back Up? How to Fix and Prevent Sewer Line Damage

sewer line

What do you do when your main sewer line backs up? How do you identify the warning signs? How do you make sure it never happens again?

You’ve got the questions, and we have all the answers.

This guide will cover the basics of identifying, repairing, and avoiding sewer damage to a home or business.

Common Warning Signs You May Have Sewer Line Damage

Sewer problems often show signs that trouble is brewing. Sewer backup or foul odors are clear signs there is a problem, but sometimes other symptoms can be more discreet or mistaken for common household problems.

What are some of the common warning signs that sewer problems are on the horizon?

Foul Smelling Sewage Odors

Sewage has a very distinct scent that compares to rotten eggs. If you smell foul odors, it’s a sure sign something is not quite right.

Sewers are designed to be airtight, so that smells and other things are trapped inside. Damage such as cracks, holes, and leaks allow sewage to escape and thus leave you with an awful smell.

Sewage Backup and Blockages

There is a good chance there’s a problem with your sewer line if flushing the toilet in one bathroom causes water to back up in another room in your home. Blockages and clogs can be diverting water and forcing an alternate route due to a clog.

Sewer backup is a definite red flag you have a clogged sewer line. A sewer repair contractor can use a sewer camera to diagnose the problem.

Slow Draining

Does your sink or shower drain slowly? Does your toilet keep getting backed up? Your sewer line may have a blockage forming. If the blockage is left untreated, it can lead to cracks and other major sewer problems.

If you tried to DIY the problem with a sewer snake or drain unblocker without success, get in touch with a professional.

Trying to fix the problems on your own by using products that often include harsh chemicals can lead to further damage to your pipes and make sewage problems even worse if you have older hardware.

Mold

Damage in your sewer line, such as cracks, can leak water into your walls. This excess moisture can cause mold growth. Because of their increased humidity, bathrooms are especially vulnerable to mold.

If you notice mold growing on your walls or ceilings, the source could be from your sewage pipe. Even if you see no mold growth but can smell it, it could be a sign of sewer line damage.

To prevent further damage to your walls or ceilings, call a professional to find out if you need to have your sewer line repaired.

Cracks in Your Home’s Foundation

This is a severe sign of possible sewer line damage that needs attention ASAP. Cracks in your home’s foundation could mean leaking water from a sewage or water line.

If you see an excessive amount of water around the foundation of your home, contact a professional before you end up with major (and more costly) problems with your foundation.

Lush Patches of Grass or Pools of Water in Your Yard

If you see lush patches of grass in your yard, specifically grass growth that is unusually thicker or greener, it could be a sign of a problem. Sewage acts as a natural fertilizer and will create lush patches of grass in your yard.

Another sign to look out for is soggy areas or pools of water in your yard. This could be a warning sign of a much more significant problem like a collapsed sewer line.

Pests

Just the sight of that word can instill fear into any homeowner. Rodents and pests live in sewers, and openings in your sewer line create entry points for inviting them into your home.

Keep in mind that nothing will prevent pests from coming in if they find an easily accessible way into your home.

Call in the Professionals

Before you look up “how to clear a main sewer line clog” and attempt to fix it yourself, think again. Plumbing problems are best left to a professional.

One of the benefits of hiring a professional is that most plumbing companies often have video inspection available. Video inspection uses a sewer camera to review the state and condition of pipes as well as identifying other problem areas.

A sewer camera can pinpoint the exact location of a damaged or clogged sewage pipe. Once the problem is identified, they can be solved through either traditional sewer repair or trenchless sewer repair.

Preventing Sewer Line Damage

Routine preventative maintenance can save you more money in the long run.

1. Professional sewer cleaning is a great way to keep your sewer line in tip-top shape and avoid costly sewer line replacement. If you want to avoid having to deal with sewer backup or sewer line repair, make sure you are availing of this maintenance task.

2. Only put toilet paper or human waste down the toilet. Anything else will lead to a clogged sewer line.

3. Do not throw grease down the drain and throw all excess food dishes into the trashcan before washing them. Grease from oil or fatty foods lead to clogs and will cost you a professional sewer cleanout.

4. Stay away from sewer lines when planting trees. Tree root invasion is the leading cause of sewer problems.

5. Take a preventive approach. Tackling problems right away can save you from further damage, and having to spend an even greater amount of money — an ounce of prevention over a pound of cure. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Fixing and Preventing Sewer Line Damage

What do you do when your main sewer line backs up? How do you identify the warning signs? How do you make sure it never happens again?

You’ve got the questions, and we have all the answers.

We hope this guide gave you more insight into identifying, repairing, and avoiding sewer damage. If you found this article helpful, check out more from our blog!

How to Identify Asbestos: A Full Guide

identify asbestos

Asbestos-related diseases kill over 12,000 Americans every year. Despite this staggering total, many homes still harbor this toxic material.

Knowing how to identify asbestos is the first step towards quick removal. The faster you remove this harmful material from your home, the better.

In this guide, we’ll go over what asbestos is and how to figure out if your home has it.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos refers to 6 different types of silicate minerals that insulated homes up until the late 20th century. These fibrous materials include Chrysotile, Tremolite, Crocidolite, Amosite, and Anthophyllite. Over 95% of asbestos contains Chrysotile.

The construction industry viewed asbestos as a versatile material before labeled as dangerous, as it’s a cheap way to fireproof, caulk, and insulate.

In the 1970s, scientists deemed asbestos a health hazard. The material is a cancer-causing agent and studies proved that exposure leads to deadly diseases such as lung cancer.

Currently, an asbestos ban in 55 countries is in effect. Despite its ban, asbestos is everywhere.

To this day, many buildings still have asbestos lurking in the walls. If you currently live in a home built before asbestos regulations had taken effect, it’s vital to check for signs of asbestos.

Where Does Asbestos Usually Hide?

There are a few areas in your home that are more likely to hold asbestos than others. For example, Bathrooms and kitchens were often built with asbestos in the floors because they’re water-resistant and helped prevent water damage from floods.

Asbestos may hide in your home’s exterior, too. Shingles for both roofs and siding were often installed with asbestos to help with insulation.

Pipes tend to hold asbestos because the material was once thought to prevent pipe corrosion and increase friction resistance. This is particularly dangerous because the asbestos can infiltrate drinking water.

Attics are another type of area where you’re likely to locate asbestos. This material was widely used to insulate attics and keep them fire-resistant. The type of asbestos used in attics has a pebble-like consistency, which is easy to spot.

An unexpected place where you may find asbestos is in HVAC ducts. Heating ducts installed before the phase-out may have asbestos insulation fibers. Asbestos fibers were an inexpensive way to fix and insulate pipes before deemed dangerous.

Asbestos-Related Diseases

Unfortunately, asbestos causes many dangerous lung conditions. Health conditions caused by asbestos are mostly seen in workers who constructed homes before the material was banned entirely.

Mesothelioma is commonly caused by asbestos. Other lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer are commonly caused by asbestos exposure.

Asbestos exposure doesn’t typically cause health issues immediately. It takes anywhere between 10 and 40 years to see the negative impacts of exposure. However, there are a few key symptoms to keep an eye out for.

A chronic dry cough is an indication that you’re regularly exposed to asbestos. In addition to constant coughing, shortness of breath and chest tightness all point to asbestos exposure.

If you have any of these symptoms and you live in an older home, it’s best to start thinking of inspecting your home for asbestos exposure.

How to Identify Asbestos

Asbestos is made of microscopic fibers. Identifying it relies on more investigative work than looking at it. While you need professional help for proper confirmation and removal, there are several clues you can search for that help prove you have an asbestos problem.

If you spot any of these indicators, call a professional to help you take the next step towards identification.

Consider Your Home’s Age

The easiest way to rule out if you have asbestos in your home is to figure out when your home was built. If it was built before 1995, which was the last year before it was completely phased out, you need to take action.

Identify Your Home’s Insulation Material

If you have access to your home building certificate, take a look at the insulation material or codes cited on the record. If you’re unfamiliar with the types of insulation materials and codes, do a quick Google search to identify whether the material is made of asbestos.

Look for Clues

If you spot aluminum runners outside your home, that may indicate asbestos was used. These runners were used to implement asbestos materials and may occur along the sides of residential or commercial buildings.

On the interior of your home, look for “popcorn” walls and ceilings. This refers to walls and ceilings that have a bumpy texture.

Vinyl or linoleum tiles are other clues that point towards asbestos. Asbestos was often used as a bottom layer in vinyl tile construction as cheap insulation.

What to Do When You Identify Asbestos in Your Home

First and foremost, don’t interact with the asbestos you’ve spotted. Don’t renovate your home while asbestos is still in it. If you know you have asbestos, and it’s well-contained, it doesn’t pose an immediate threat.

Knocking down walls, drilling, or any other renovation work will cause asbestos exposure. Disturbing this mineral will spread its fibers in the air, leading to illness.

Visual confirmation is a good first step. But to confirm you have asbestos, you can’t rely on visual identification. You’ll need to send samples to a lab to verify whether or not the material you found in your home is asbestos.

To begin proper identification and removal, you need to request a professional asbestos removal service. Trained professionals quickly resolve your asbestos issue by safely sampling, removing, and disposing of the material.

The Next Steps

While there are several ways to identify asbestos on your own, getting rid of asbestos requires trained professionals. Don’t hesitate to take the next steps toward asbestos removal. Your health is counting on it!

Do you need help removing the asbestos in your home? Contact us and we’ll provide fast and reliable asbestos removal from your property.

What Is Mold Remediation? Everything You Need to Know

mold remediation

You wake up and look around at the carpet you just had cleaned professionally a few days ago. Ah, how nice! Then, you take a deep breath and cough a little. There’s a musty smell, and it’s emanating from the carpet.

What do you do? Is it time for mold remediation?

Mold is helpful when it’s outdoors since it breaks down dead organic material, such as the fall leaves you mulched with the lawnmower or that old tree that fell in the forest behind your house.

When mold is indoors, though, you need mold remediation services. Let’s discuss those and what they do.

What Is Mold Remediation?

Let’s begin by talking about mold—what is it and where and how it grows. Mold is a fungus that manifests in various colors, though black mold is probably the most widely spoken about due to its reputation for toxicity.

Mold thrives in moist areas and produces tiny spores that dissipate through the air. Mold is generally harmless in small amounts. However, when the spores find a moist environment, they will land and grow colonies there.

That’s when mold becomes a problem—for health, breathing, and overall cleanliness.

Mold Remediation Certification

The legal definition of mold remediation is “the removal, cleaning, sanitizing, demolition, or other treatment, including preventive activities, of mold or mold-contaminated matter that was not purposely grown at that location.”

In short, mold remediation is about keeping naturally-occurring household mold under control by using available resources from routine cleaning to professional mold remediation services.

If you have less than three square feet of mold in your home, it should be all right to try and remove it yourself, using substances like vinegar, bleach, and borax. Remember, though, the key is to eliminate the source of the moisture.

Suppose the area is larger than a square-yard or the problem returns. In that case, you should call a mold remediation company with a mold-remediation certification from the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC).

Our society needs mold remediation services more than ever before. It’s is because our homes are sealed more tightly than they used to be due to our well-intentioned energy conservation efforts. We also keep our homes a bit chillier on average.

How Is Mold Remediation Different From Mold Removal?

We’ll begin and end here by saying that “mold removal” is a term used by businesses that are dishonest or naïve.

Mold is present throughout the natural environment, and its visibility in our homes means that it has found favorable conditions there.

So, while you can remediate mold, you can’t make it go away any more than you can make the air or the soil go away. Again, mold remediation is about keeping indoor mold under control, not making it go away (since that’s impossible).

What Happen During Professional Mold Remediation?

Are you wondering what happens during professional mold remediation? The following are the steps professional, certified companies always follow:

1. Take Care of the Moisture Source

  • Identify and repair the moisture source that caused the mold growth.
  • Dry out the area and restore the humidity to a healthy level.

2. Contain the Mold

  • Contain the mold before disturbing it. This prevents its further spread.
  • Construct a containment area from protective plastic sheeting.
  • Create negative airflow from the affected space to remove mold spores from the air.

3. Remove and Dispose of Contaminated Materials

  • Bag all contaminated, non-structural materials (such as drywall, floor coverings, or insulation) and properly dispose of them.

4. Clean and Treat the Affected Area

  • Treat surface mold with an eco-friendly and biodegradable cleaner to allow for further mold removal.
  • For larger or more densely affected areas, use a wire brush or high-pressure baking soda-blasting.
  • Vacuum the cleaned area using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
  • Wipe the area thoroughly with microfiber cloths and an anti-microbial product.
  • Spray the anti-microbial on all surfaces as a final protective measure.

5. Have the Treated Area Inspected

  • Arrange for a certified indoor air quality inspector from a third party company to test the surfaces air for any lingering mold.

What Is a Mold Remediation Calculator?

A mold remediation cost calculator is a tool provided by various commercial entities to help homeowners calculate the cost of mold remediation based on the area needing treatment.

These can be helpful since, on average, professional mold remediation costs $500 to $6,000. A professional mold inspection, which is recommended, adds a bit to this figure. Mold remediation costs can go even higher if the problem worsens.

You should estimate the amount of mold damage so that you’re not in total shock when you see the bill for the mold remediation. Also, knowing ahead of time might give you time to do some of the preparatory work yourself.

If you do, proceed with care. PPE isn’t only to protect you from the danger of COViD-19.

Attic Mold Remediation

Attic mold ultimately comes from the same source as any other household mold, mold spores in the air. Attics are a little different from the rest of the house, though.

For one thing, many attics are unfinished, and people seldom go there. So the homeowners might have little idea what is going on up there.

Mold remediation services can tell us exactly what has caused mold in the attic, though. Here are at least a few of them:

  • The obvious cause: roof leaks
  • Missing or old insulation or the wrong type of it
  • Insufficient attic ventilation
  • Ice dams (usually the fault of plugged gutters)

Despite their conspicuous location in a house, attics are quite vulnerable to leaks and other moisture incursion types. That’s where we come in—but hopefully, before the moisture and accompanying mold have caused severe damage.

Once the Mold Remediation Is Complete

The good folks at the mold remediation company have done a terrific job getting rid of your household mold, wherever it was. Now, you know all too well the need for mold prevention, not just costly remediation.

Avoid letting moisture collect from soaking or vapor-producing fixtures and appliances. Clean up spilled liquids, especially on porous surfaces. Clear out your gutters. And keep an eye on your attic!

Contact us if you need mold remediation or any of our other disaster restoration services. At Helpers Disaster Restoration, we’re there when you need help.

Flu Facts: Protect Yourself this Flu Season

It’s all over the news: this year’s flu season is a big one, the most aggressive in more than 13 years.  Dr. Dan Jernigan, Director of the Influenza Division in the CDC’s national center, shared, “It has been a tough flu season so far this year. And while flu activity is beginning to go down in parts of the country, it remains high for most the U.S., with some areas still rising.”   Therefore, it is still very important to stay vigilant and take precautions to protect yourself and your family from catching the flu.

Most people who get the flu, will experience a variety of symptoms including fever, chills, muscle aches, cough, congestion, runny nose, headaches, and fatigue.  Most people will recover following only a brief period of discomfort, however the very young, the elderly and the immune compromised are at high risk for more severe symptoms including death.  Interestingly, this year’s flu is also affecting the baby boomer crowd particularly hard, ages 50-65.

How Does Flu Spread?

The CDC website states, “People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.”   If you are sick, it is best to stay home to avoid spreading the flu to others.

The flu virus is not a very strong virus outside of the body and does not live on surfaces for very long.  It does live longest on hard surfaces, up to 24 hours.  WebMD, states that the flu virus lives only minutes on soft surfaces such as towels and pillow cases, but it is still best not to share.  Cleaning products that contain bleach, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and detergents (soap) can kill the flu virus.  Periodic wiping of hard surfaces can help reduce spread from surface contact, however the CDC shares that flu spread from hard surfaces is less common than airborne, droplet spread.

How Long Am I Contagious?

You may be contagious even before you know you are sick.  According to the CDC, “You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.”

Stay home if your symptoms are severe or you have a fever as you are likely still contagious.  The CDC recommends being fever free for 24 hours before returning to work or school.   Avoid exposing high risk people to the flu and stop the spread by observing these guidelines.

How I Can I Avoid the Flu?

  1.  Get a Flu Shot.  This years flu strain is one of the toughest (H3N2).  “When flu vaccines are well matched to circulating viruses, effectiveness is, at best, about 60 percent,” states the Washington Post.  This years vaccine is not well matched and the flu shot doesn’t work as well against the current strain dominating the US with only about a 10% effectiveness rate.  That being said, there is still an upside to getting the shot, with a reduced risk of getting the flu from other circulating strains. It is also not too late to get a shot as there are several weeks to go before this flu season ends.
  2. Avoid Sick People (Crowds).  You can’t get the flu if you are not exposed to the virus.  Do your best to avoid people who are showing cold or flu symptoms.  Crowds, hospitals, doctor’s offices, and schools offer increased opportunities for exposure.  If you are sick, do everyone a favor and stay home!
  3. Wash Your Hands…A Lot.  Wash for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.  Alcohol based hand sanitizers are also effective and great to put in your child’s back pack!
  4. Keep Your Hands Away From Your Face!  Your nose, eyes and mouth are the gateways for the flu to enter your body.
  5. Wear a Mask.  A surgical mask can reduce the exposure to droplet spread.
  6.  Wipe Down Hard Surfaces.  Although not a primary infection route, touching hard surfaces contaminated with flu virus and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes, can be a way to catch the flu.  Periodic wiping of commonly touched, shared surfaces, like door knobs, light switches, stair railings, faucets, etc. may help reduce your risk.
  7.  Stock Up on Hand Sanitzer.  In classrooms, offices, at home and elsewhere, easy access to alcohol based hand sanitizer can help control the spread of the flu.  There are even fun versions of this product available with glitter, perfume and color!  Kids might be more apt to use hand sanitizer if it is fun.  Check out Bath and Body Works to see their wide selection of minis.

What do I do if I Get the Flu?

Prompt treatment (within two days) with antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu are used to treat confirmed cases of the flu, particularly those at highest risk.   They can reduce symptom severity and decrease the amount of time the flu lasts.  These are prescription medicines that are different than antibiotics (which treat bacterial infections). Even if you have been vaccinated, if you develop severe flu symptoms or in a high risk group, you should see your doctor.

Taking care of yourself by staying hydrated and eating a well balanced diet can also help reduce the severity of symptoms.    Over the counter medications to treat your symptoms can help keep you more comfortable.  Consult your pharmacist or doctor for recommendations.

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.

Healthy Home Tips: Caring for Your Home Humidifier

During dry winter months homeowners often use home humidifiers to restore their homes to comfortable humidity levels and relieve the drying effects of increased indoor heat use.  Healthy humidifier care is essential to prevent harmful exposure to bacteria and mold or mildew growth.

While using a humidifier, monitor your home’s indoor humidity levels.  Recommended indoor humidity is between 40-50%.   Avoid humidity levels above 50% or at levels that cause water to condense on windows.  These levels can lead to home mold and mildew growth.

Warm or Cool Mist?

Several types and models of humidifiers are available.  The most common types are cool mist, warm mist or ultrasonic.  According to mayoclinic.org, cool mist humidifiers are safer for small children due to burn and scald risk with warm units, however they pose a greater bacterial growth risk if not cleaned properly.  No matter if the mist is warm or cool as it leaves the humidifier, the temperature of circulating air moisture will be the same by the time it is inhaled.  Ultrasonic units, tend to be quieter which is their key benefit.  Standing water in either unit is the culprit in bacterial growth.

Humidifier Care Tips

  1.  If your home has a “hard” water supply, which can add mineral build up to the humidifier unit, consider using bottled water that is distilled or purified.  Otherwise, the use of vinegar, which breaks up these deposits, should be used with cleaning.
  2.  Rinse the water tank daily and use either a vinegar, hydrogen peroxide or bleach based (1 part bleach to 9 parts water) rinse.  DO NOT mix these cleaning agents as toxic chlorine gas or volatile reactions can be created.  Also, be careful when using concentrated bleach as it can damage rubber seals in your unit.
  3.  The entire unit should be cleaned once per week.  Disassemble your unit (see instructions specific to your unit).   Take care when emptying the unit.  Avoid water pouring over switches or electrical parts.  Using your chosen cleaning solution or an antibacterial wipe, clean the entire unit.
  4. If there is a heating element with mineral build up, soak this with vinegar for 30 minutes to break down these deposits.  Gently remove deposits and rinse the area.
  5. Let all parts of the unit dry before reassembling and re-filling the unit.
  6. If your unit has a filter, be sure to change the filter as the manufacturer recommends.
  7. Clean your unit thoroughly before your first seasonal use and before you store it away.

Mold in Your Washing Machine? 5 Tips to Keep it Clean

Despite constantly being used for cleaning,  washing machines have all the necessary conditions for mold and bacteria growth: water and residue build up.  Have you noticed a musty smell in your washing machine or mold and mildew growing in your detergent dispensers?  You are not alone.

Follow these 5 prevention and maintenance tips to keep your washing machine and your laundry clean and healthy:

  1.  Washing With Hot Water.  Energy conscious homeowners are using more cold water to wash their laundry.  Mirroring this change in laundry habits, detergents are designed to be effective with cold water washing.   Using hot water can help kill bacteria and keep your washer from smelling musty.   Hot water use on highly bacteria prone items like musty towels, stinky socks or other odor laden materials can prevent bacteria from growing on the clothes and in your washer.  Hot water washing reduces detergent and fabric softener build up, a common source of odor and bacteria.  Running your machine periodically without any laundry with hot water and either vinegar, bleach or baking soda is a great cleaning option.  For best results, let the water sit in the machine for several minutes before you complete the washing cycle.
  2.  Wash Mold From Detergent and Fabric Softener Dispensers.  Build up of detergents and trapped dirt or lint combined with a moist environment are perfect conditions for fowl smelling mold growth.  In some machines, these come out really easily and can be soaked and scrubbed with either a bleach based cleaning solution or vinegar.   If you can’t remove them, simply clean them in place.  Avoid using too much detergent.  High efficiency washing machines require a lot less detergent and most homeowners are actually putting in too much leading to build up and odors.  Follow with Tip 1 for best results.
  3. Clean the Rubber Seal.  Most washing machines have a rubber sealing rim around the wash basin.  Periodically wipe this with a bleach based cleaner or cleaning wipe to remove residue build up.
  4. Use Washing Machine Specific Cleaning Products.  Many companies make detergents or pods that are specifically designed for cleaning your washing machines, particularly front loaders.    Found in the laundry product section, these can be used to help remove odors and bacteria.
  5. Don’t Let Wet Loads Sit.  I am a big culprit in our house for starting a load of laundry and then forgetting about it…for days.  If your laundry is starting to smell, it is a good idea to re-wash everything in hot water to help kill any bacteria.  If the washing machine is not cleaned following a bad smelling load…the smell will linger and spread to the next load and so on.    Follow your preferred washing machine cleaning procedures to get rid of that smell.