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Steps Towards a Healthier Home – After a Major Storm
Steps Towards a Healthier Home – After a Major Storm

Has your home recently been affected by a major weather event such as a hurricane or tornado? Perhaps you're anticipating a big storm and want to be sure you're protecting your household as much as possible. It can be a scary thing to experience an intense weather episode no matter how many times you've been through it before. Each storm is different and has the potential to damage your home.


Impacts of a Major Storm

Your house is one of your biggest financial assets, and it's also a sanctuary for all who inhabit it, so it's natural to want to make sure it is in the best condition possible. For those living in a climate that has unpredictable storms or a predictable storm season, there's a lot to think about when it comes to securing your home against damage during a weather episode. Intense storms can seriously take their toll on the structural integrity of a home if proper steps aren't taken after damage occurs. It's easy to get overwhelmed with damage to your home after a storm, after all, it can get pretty costly. However, when all is said and done, the most important thing is that your home is still a healthy environment to live in after a storm.


Common Household Damages

So, what type of damage can happen to a home after a storm? Of course, the more intense a storm is, the more potential it has to cause damage to structures in the area. The most common damage you will find to a home will be due to water from precipitation getting into the house along with damage from high winds that often accompany a storm.


High winds most commonly cause damage to the roof including the shingles and gutters, siding, windows, garages/sheds. Powerful wind can uproot trees, bring down power lines, and even turn a seemingly lightweight object into an airborne danger. When the high-velocity wind picks up an item in the middle a storm, there's no predicting what route it will take or what damage it will cause! Water damage can quickly turn into a mold remediation issue if you do not take steps to get rid of the water in the home as soon as possible. Mold resulting from water damage can seriously affect the health of those who live in the household!

 

Steps Toward a Healthier Home

Here are some quick steps you can take to protect your home after a major storm like a hurricane:

  • Create airflow through the house and ventilate the area by opening doors and windows
  • Dry any wet items that you find as soon as possible, and throw away anything that was damaged too badly for use in the future
  • Ensure any mold remediation is done by a licensed professional in the field
  • Deep clean the entire home to make sure there isn't any moisture lurking around
  • Take precautions to prevent future water intrusion with home repairs both indoors and outdoors
  • Create a structured plan for cleaning, drying, and remediation so you aren't scrambling if it happens again

 


When Humidity Rears Its Ugly Head
When Humidity Rears Its Ugly Head


What is Humidity? 

Humidity is described as the amount of water vapor or water molecules that are currently present in the air. So, what causes humidity in the air to begin with? It can all be traced back to the water cycle and wind patterns on the planet. When it rains and water reaches the ground, it evaporates back into the atmosphere when it reaches a certain temperature. When you hear meteorologists talking about humidity, they are referring to "relative humidity". What does that mean? This term simply compares the current amount of moisture in the air to the total amount of moisture that the air can hold.


Where Humidity is Most Common

Warm air can hold more water than cold air, which is why you experience those unbearably hot and humid days during the summer months. So, it's safe to say that you can usually expect higher levels of humidity in warm climates, especially if they are by a large body of water or experience a lot of rainfall. Humidity is often pushed up from wind currents originating from humid places around the world. This is exactly what causes changes in weather.


Indoor Humidity 

Humidity outside is one thing to deal with, and humidity indoors is another. The level of humidity in your home can impact the concentration of indoor air pollutants, which relates to the overall air quality. Having excess moisture in your house creates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to form. Mold in the home can cause a variety of health disturbances, and it can affect the structural integrity of your home if it goes unchecked. Headaches, dizziness, respiratory issues, and asthma symptoms are some of the health dangers that mold in the household can bring. Mold caused by high humidity levels can wreak havoc on your health, emotional state, and bank account if you have to resort to remediation! This is why it is important to control the level of humidity in your home, especially in unfavorable weather conditions.


Controlling Humidity in the Home

You might be wondering, "How do I keep the humidity of my house in check in a climate like Florida?", and we're here to give you some tips. It is recommended to consistently use a dehumidifier in your house if you are experiencing excess humidity indoors, even in the cool winter months. Depending on the weather, you may need to adjust the dehumidifier when it does cool down a bit. You can also get a hygrometer, which is a small tool that measures the relative humidity level in a room. You generally want the relative humidity level to be between 35 and 45 percent, depending on your household. When using a dehumidifier, you'll want to be certain you're replacing the filters and cleaning it as needed. If you're using a dehumidifier with a dirty filter, mold and bacteria can grow quite easily, and those spores will go right into the air.

What To Do After a Flood
What To Do After a Flood

 

Your home is a major investment, and as a homeowner, you naturally want to protect it from damage. This is why it can be very upsetting to deal with a flood in your home. Your house isn't just an investment, it's a major part of your daily life. Flooding can happen anywhere, it isn't only a regional issue. The potential for damage to your possessions and health is enough to become informed on how to deal with this issue if it arises. Flooding can damage your sentimental belongings and even create health issues for your family in the future if not taken care of in an efficient manner.

First Steps  

There are initial steps you can take if you notice signs of water intrusion in your home. Essentially, you'll want to dry the area as soon as possible. But before you do that, take pictures to fully document the issue for your insurance purposes, and turn off the electrical source to the room. Be sure to check over your insurance policy to ensure you're aware of the coverage that you have. Depending on your policy, certain items like the essential systems in the home and appliances could be the only things covered. Each policy is different, don't be surprised about what is and isn't covered when it is too late.

Don't Forget to Document 

Documentation is important before and after a flood! Always keep copies of your policies on hand along with contact information for the insurance company to review when needed. If you experience flooding, contact them as soon as possible. The longer the water stands, there is greater potential for property damage and mold growth, especially within the first 48 hours. This is why it is important to remove the water and ventilate the area to dry!

Avoid These Mistakes 

Besides the top mistake of waiting too long to remove water after a flood, there are other common mistakes to avoid. Many people decide to wade into the waters without thinking about what might be lurking underfoot. Depending on the severity and location of the flood, you could unknowingly walk into an electrical hazard, contaminated sewer water, unstable foundations, or sharp metal and glass objects. It is best to let a professional with the tools and experience to begin remediation. You might think your shop vac and household fans can resolve the issue, but this could actually make things worse. The peace of mind of knowing that mold isn't lurking and growing in unseen areas of a house is reason enough to call in the professionals.

Call the Professionals 

Begin your search for professional remediation immediately after experiencing flooding in your home. Ideally, look for a company that is licensed and insured for your protection. The issue is time sensitive, so they should have a flexible schedule to accommodate those with emergencies. If they aren't available within the next 24-48 hours to assess and begin remediation of the issues, it's wise to look for another company.


How To Prepare Your Home For Hurricane Season
How To Prepare Your Home For Hurricane Season


Living in a climate like Florida where severe weather is common creates challenges for homeowners. It's important to know how to prepare your home for the 2018 hurricane season! Any effort that you put into storm-proofing your house will help when it comes to the safety of your family and structural integrity of the home.

 

Hurricane Aftermath

There are plenty of issues that can occur with the damage storms bring. Even the best drainage systems and foundations can get overwhelmed with the amount of water brought in with a hurricane. Water getting into the home can weaken drywall, soak insulation and carpet. This creates the perfect conditions for mold to grow. The longer you have standing water in a home, the more potential there is for long-term damage. Furniture, electrical systems, and appliances can get ruined with any amount of water exposure. If you don't have one already, consider buying a generator for when the electricity gets knocked out. Make sure you know how to use beforehand too!

 

How To Prepare

Preparing a home for hurricane season should be a top priority for homeowners in Florida. First, be sure to review any insurance policies that are in place so you're not left in the dark. Does your policy cover damage from a flood that follows a big storm? Storm guard your home by cleaning gutters and placing storm shutters on windows. Re-caulking windows and doors add another layer of protection against water damage. You can also install bolts on entry doors to protect against high wind. Since your roof is the biggest opening within the home, you want to make sure it's secure as possible. It's worth it to spend the extra money to seal your roof deck and fasten hurricane clips to the roof and walls. Remember, any lawn decorations or patio furniture can become airborne during a storm, so place them in a secure spot before the winds pick up.

 

What Lies Ahead

The Atlantic hurricane season begins with the first of June and lasts until November 30. Several forecasts are predicting that there will be anywhere from 13 to 18 tropical storms coming through this year. They're reporting ten of those have the potential to become hurricanes. The average number is around eight named storms per-year, so we are already looking at a potentially busier than average Florida hurricane season in 2018. Some areas are still recovering from the 2017 season, so you can see the importance of preparing your home.

 

Post-Hurricane Steps

The most important thing to do when you're dealing with damage from a hurricane is to get in touch with a professional as soon as possible. There are some simple measures you can take to alleviating a problem such as removing excess water and airing out the area. But, nothing replaces the skill and expertise of professionals. You can learn more about how to detect damage and steps to take by reviewing some information we've written on the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.


Water Damage | How to Spot It
Water Damage | How to Spot It

 

Water damage is an occurrence caused by many different factors which include one we've been hearing about a lot in the news; hurricanes. Other natural disasters that cause major water damage are heavy rainfall, tsunamis, and storm surges. You would have to be really unlucky to experience all of them, or even one, but there are more common causes of water damage that typically happen more frequently inside of homes including leaks, plumbing issues, HVAC systems, household appliances, and issues caused by clogged gutters.


Water damage in Florida is typically an ongoing issue especially during the hurricane and heavy rain seasons. There are several parts in Florida that have a greater chance of experiencing floods and water damage with the main reason being living near large bodies of water. The main areas in Florida that are likely to flood are:


  • South Florida
  • Tampa
  • Miami
  • Fort Myers
  • Sarasota

 

Flooding in and of itself is difficult to deal with, but when you consider everything else that comes along with water damage (mold growth) the stress of it all begins to rise. Because of mold growth, water damage over time can affect your health and can become very dangerous. Black mold infestation is one of the consequences of not taking the proper actions when water damage occurs that can increase health risks to many individuals. People suffering from asthma and allergies are typically affected the most as well as infants, children and the elderly. They can experience respiratory problems, eye and skin irritation, and many other long-term affects down the line. Black mold is especially dangerous within your home because flood waters are contaminated from sewage and can bring on more severe problems.

Luckily, there is one major sign of water damage you can look out for: brown stains on your ceilings and walls. This a key sign of roof leaks caused by rainfall. If there are streaky stains on your walls in the bathroom, this could be a sign of a burst pipe. Streaky stains on the walls of your home can also be caused by overflowing gutters or appliances. Floorboards can show signs of water damage too. If your floorboards have discoloration or changes in texture, this is a clear indication of water coming from somewhere. Some signs to look for in your floorboards include:

 

  • Warping caused by changes in humidity levels and temperature
  • Unevenness between the individual boards 
  • Soft spots in the wood which are signs of rotting wood

 

Believe it or not, you can use your ears to detect water damage. If you can hear dripping or rushing water, you may have a problem. If you hear a noise similar water dripping, look for things in your home that have changed appearance. Another sense you can use is your sense of smell, for instance by smelling musky/rotten mold.

As always we want to reiterate how important it is that you look over your insurance coverage to see if flood damage is covered. When your property is damaged, please don't wait to take action! It's also a great idea to have a plan-of-action in place in case you do experience water damage. Do your research now on water damage companies in your area and let them know they're part of your emergency plan. Lastly, do not worry because, in the end, everything will get better and be okay.

 

References:  Lowes


 


Articles of Interest: The Assignment of Benefits
Articles of Interest: The Assignment of Benefits

 

Very frequently, homeowners have questions about billing, insurance, and their rights when it comes to hiring companies to perform work inside their homes. We want to make sure not only our clients, but everyone is aware of all possible outcomes to ensure all jobs are performed in good faith.

 

This article presents a recent situation where a homeowner was left battling with their insurance company over 2 years because of a technicality which did not event exist. It’s a GREAT read for a quick lesson learned that could potentially save anyone from a lot of trouble in the wake of an emergency. 


Insurance Company’s Defense Based on an Assignment of Benefits Form Fails



The 411 on Leaks & the Damage They Cause
The 411 on Leaks & the Damage They Cause

 

Many times, a leak can be an easy fix with just a small replacement or adjustment as needed. Other times, a small leak can stem from a large problem where major damage control is required. If and when you detect a leak in your home or place of business, the issue should be addressed as promptly as possible. Ignoring signs of a leak can cause issues within your home that you can potentially avoid when you respond immediately.


There are many places leaks can occur:


o   Roof

o   Water Heater

o   Toilets

o   Washer

o   Faucets

o   Dishwasher

o   Pipes


Leaks can cause minor problems such as and an irritating runny faucet, waste of water, and high water bills. One household can waste up to 10,000 gallons of water per year just from water leaks. That waste not only has a negative impact on the environment, but also your wallet. Common household leaks cause your water bill to rise, which is money out of your pocket that you could have spent otherwise.


Although minor problems can be very troublesome, there are bigger issues that can severely damage your home.


Mold development is one of the most common and most consequential causes of leak damage. Mold can form anywhere moisture is present within 24-48 hours. This is the #1 reason why you need to act quickly when you find a leak because the quicker you get rid of a leak, the less chance mold has to form. To reduce the development of mold, you must control moisture. If mold penetrates an area surrounding a leak, the entire area must be removed to eliminate mold. For example, if you smell a musty odor coming from below your sink, you most likely have a mold problem. Fixing the leak will not get rid of mold, it will still continue to spread because of the existing moisture. Removing the surrounding cupboard and base may be necessary to get rid of mold entirely. This is a must especially because mold is overall very harmful and can cause serious health issues


Structure deterioration is a cause of damage from roof leaks. Chronic roof leaks can cause the wood in your home’s structure and ceilings to deteriorate. Although this can be a slow process, watch for signs of roof leaks such as dark spots in your ceiling. When you see water come through the ceiling and leak onto the floor, this means that the surrounding area within the ceiling is absorbing most of that water. Keep a close watch on even the smallest roof leaks because even one can cause wood to weaken and eventually cause a ceiling collapse.


Electrical issues can also be a factor in assessing damage from water leaks. As your household leaks pass through and comes in contact with many interiors, it will most likely reach the electrical components of your home. Uncovered wires and outlet framework can easily cause shock and even fires when coming in contact with water. It only takes one small spark to cause an entire building to burn down. Flooding can also be a factor in carrying electrical currents and causing a fire. Act quickly if you ever find yourself in a flood and turn off your electricity in the flooded areas. This can prevent your entire home from burning down and even prevent death.


To avoid major issues and costly repairs take care of leaks in your home or business facility immediately! Ignoring what might look like a small issue can uncover extreme structural damage and can even cause harm to those around it. Call your local leak detection service company at the first sign of a leak.

 

AQA Website - Leak Detection Services

Environmental Protection Agency

Alliance for Water Efficiency