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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Let all parts of the unit dry before reassembling and re-filling the unit.
If your unit has a filter, be sure to change the filter as the manufacturer recommends.
Clean your unit thoroughly before your first seasonal use and before you store it away.
If you have ever experienced a fire in your home or business you know that putting the fire out is only the beginning of the recovery process. After the fire department leaves, your property will be drenched with water from the fire fighting efforts and the smell of smoke will be evident in just about all of your property contents and spaces. With proper remediation steps, it is possible to recover your home and get rid of any lingering smoke odor.
Clay Buerger, Project Supervisor, and Helpers’ fire remediation specialist, put together a list of the top five things our remediation company will do to help restore your property to its former condition and make sure the evidence of smoke related smells are removed.
Five Important Smoke Odor Fixes
1. Charred and/or smoke damaged, porous materials will be removed, including any charred building or structural materials. These will be replaced in the reconstruction process. Heavily damaged and charred materials will continue to off-gas for extended periods, expelling odor and as a result can keep the smokey smell around.
2. Ducting, HVAC, and furnaces are professionally cleaned as smoke can easily enter these hidden areas. Fire pressurizes the property interior, forcing microscopic smoke particles into ducting and furnaces that will continue to recontaminate the home with smoke odor if not properly cleaned.
3. The entire property is HEPA vacuumed. HEPA filtration equipped vacuums will lift and capture the microscopic smoke particles that can coat every surface within your home or business following a fire. These particles must be physically removed and HEPA vacuuming is an effective way to accomplish that.
4. All smoke and fire damaged, fibrous, structural materials will be encapsulated. Materials continue to release odors for long periods of time. Sealing the structure with a specialized shellac product contains odors.
5. The entire space will be treated with thermal fogging. This helps to further eliminate odor. This process involves thermal fogging with both a Masking and Pairing agent. These environmentally safe chemicals, fill the smallest spaces found in building materials. The pairing agent, will chemically alter the odor molecules. The masking agent adds a desired odor to the home, helping overcome the smell many fire loss victims are challenged with.
Trust Our Experience
Helpers’ has experience with successful smoke and fire remediation. Our team is always sensitive to your unique situation and the impact that such as event can have on you and your family. We work with you to make sure the process is as easy and efficient as possible, supporting you from start to finish and navigating the complicated insurance claim process. If you have any questions about Helpers Fire Remediation services, please contact Clay at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Did you know that if you rent a home or commercial space every item that you moved into that space is at risk for losses from fire, theft or flood, unless you purchase renters’ insurance? That’s right…no matter the origin of the damage, your personal property is not covered under the property owner’s insurance.
We have seen first hand renters’ lose all of their property following a home fire because they did not purchase renters’ insurance. One of our clients had significant smoke damage to her personal property after badly burning a turkey in her oven. She was unable to afford the cost of replacing and repairing her damaged furnishings, and without renters’ insurance, she had no options but to swallow the loss.
Another client experienced a flood in their basement level rental. Even though the flood came from a damaged water main, his personal items were still a total loss because he did not have insurance. His landlord did have insurance..but this only protected the landlord’s property.
Another benefit of renters’ insurance is that should you be forced to temporarily move out of your home because of a significant event, often your insurance will cover the costs of moving you out and housing you while your home is repaired. Coverage will also usually pay to clean, repair or replace your damaged property.
Some landlords make it mandatory that their tenants purchase insurance. For as little as $10.00 to $30.00 a month, you can protect yourself from a catastrophic loss. Don’t leave your property and piece of mind at risk. Talk to your insurance agent today to find out more about renter’s insurance.
Disclaimer: Depending upon your personal needs and the terms of the coverage purchased the amount of coverage you are eligible for may vary. Helpers has no affiliation with any insurance broker, agent or carrier and does not profit in any manner from the provision of this advice. We strongly advise you to contact a licensed insurance broker to learn more about the coverage options that are best for you.
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!
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.
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:
Locate the source of the water and stop any further intrusion. It may be required to contact a professional plumber or other contractor.
Protect furniture and personal items.
Extract water from carpet and/or pad using a sub-surface extraction tool.
Apply a biocide to all affected surfaces to help prevent and retard the growth of microbials.
Remove and dispose of carpet and carpet pad from all affected areas. Remove and discard all contaminated porous and semi-porous structural materials.
Inspect all areas that water may have traveled. Document all moisture levels in affected areas.
Install air movers (approx. every 10-15 linear feet) and dehumidifiers. All air movers should be blowing in the same direction.
Monitor job daily. Record all drying data and keep accurate records.
Reinstall carpet with new pad after drying is complete.
Replace all structure materials that were removed.
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.
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.