Knowledge is Power
Flooding conditions on Nantucket after a storm hits the area.
SERVPRO is a family own and operated company specializing in the cleanup and restoration of residential and commercial property damage of fire or water. We also provide mold inspections and remediation. We work directly your insurance to make an easier and seamless process for the property owner. With our repair/rebuilding services available to you, our team can truly make your property damage, “Like it never even happened.”
Born and raised here on Cape Cod, we understand the concerns and needs people have when their property has a damage; whether residential or commercial. Resolving issues quickly is our number one goal. We want you to feel confident in our services and know that we care about you because we are your neighbors. We believe all members of the team need to be training in property damage. That training is continuous from initial to more advanced certifications with IICRC. Our team is equipped with the knowledge, equipment and professionalism to restore your property quickly.
Over the years, SERVPRO has worked with thousands of customers and it is surprising the most common statement we hear is, “I don’t understand my insurance policy.” We find that people in general have little knowledge about how their policies work, what type of coverage they have, what is and isn't covered and basically the entire claims process. After all, we all have busy lives. I thought it may be helpful to write a blog series on these topics in hopes of helping people learn more about something that most of us are required to have in our lives but know very little about.
- Lesson #1: If you have a mortgage it’s guaranteed that you will be required to have insurance on your property.
- Lesson #2: If you default on your payment to the insurance carrier and the insurance policy and its coverage lapse the bank will secure insurance on your behalf charging you for it, and at a premium price most likely.
Common Question: What Does Insurance Cover?
That can be a trick question because most policies vary. The things you need to think about are what is the amount of risk or liability covered for an individual or entity by way of insurance services. Insurance coverage is issued by an insurer in the event of an unforeseen or unwanted occurrence. Personal property coverage may not help protect everything you own. You may find that certain types of belongings, such as jewelry or a coin collection, have limited coverage under a standard policy. Some other situations that require additional insurance is water damage or better known as flooding or ground water intrusion. Flooding is not covered under a standard insurance policy. Another situation that has questionable coverage is sewage backups. Depending on what the source of the backup will determine coverage. Check out your water IQ; Having a good understanding of what is and what is not covered when it comes to insurance coverage is the key to peace of mind before filing a claim.
Know the Lingo
When vandalism happens to your home or business SERVPRO can make the aftermath, "Like it never even happened."
What is lingo?
It is the language used by a certain group to communicate commonly used word or words to describe a situation. If you are out of the loop with the slang used by a group then it is nearly impossible for you to understand the conversation taking place. The same can be said for homeowners discussing their insurance policies with a carrier, agent or adjuster. Sometimes our job includes being the bridge between the customer and the insurance adjuster. With so many restoration companies to pick from why choose us? It's simple, we are here to help you!
Recently, we were called out to property in East Falmouth that had been broken into while the family was away. The homeowners had called their insurance carrier and the local authorities to report the break in and damage done. Once the police were finished with processing the crime scene and the insurance adjuster had determined the cost of the damage it was our turn to restore the property. Some of the damage included the finger printing powder used by the officers to investigate the crime scene along with the evidence of broken glass, the blood associated with the broken glass and the fire extinguisher residue that was sprayed by the criminals throughout the premises. But the mess did not end there. It was apparent that the party had made its way into the backyard where more damage was done to a fence and shed. In an instance like this one there were so many parties involved in this claim that the property owner felt overwhelmed. We helped them with the process and though the trauma of the vandalism will never go away completely our team helped to make the damage, “Like it never even happened.”
To better help property owners with these types of situations below is a cheat sheet to help with the lingo needed to reclaim your life after a property damage. We hope that by defining the following "lingo” when dealing with a property damage there is a sense of knowledge and we all know that knowledge is power.
- Dwelling protection. This coverage typically covers your home and attached structures, like a deck or garage. The key word here is “attached.” I shed or fence may not be covered under a dwelling policy.
- Personal property protection. From furniture to electronics, this coverage may help pay to replace belongings that are stolen or damaged by a covered loss. You are going to want to make sure you have a list of these items along with appraisals of their value.
- Other structures protection. This coverage may help pay to repair or replace structures on your property that aren't attached to your home, like a fence, detached garage or shed, if they are damaged by a covered peril. Note: as mentioned above this is not considered dwelling protection.
- Family liability protection. Accidents can happen. Liability coverage may help protect you if someone is injured on your property and you are found legally responsible for damages. Just because someone is family doesn’t mean you aren’t at risk of being sued.
- Guest medical protection. If a visitor is injured at your home, this coverage may help pay for their resulting medical expenses. This coverage is a must if you’re the family that is planning the big party after graduation to celebration.
- Additional living expenses. This coverage may help you pay for temporary increased living costs, such as hotel bills, if you are unable to stay in your home after a fire or other covered loss. We often get asked about this coverage. It’s important to know you have the right to housing if you are unable to stay at your property due to harmful conditions.
- Deductible. This is basically the amount “deducted” from an insured loss and represent a sharing of the risk between the insurance company and the policyholder. What is my deductible is by far our #1 question from insurers. Look for more information about deductibles with our next blog posting, Know Your Deductible.
The Dirty Secrets of a Mice Infestation
Mice Infestation cleanup by SERVPRO of Upper Cape Cod & The Islands.
With the warm days of Spring come the chores of mulching the flower beds and cleaning the yard up after the winter. Pulling out the outdoor furniture and stacking wood for those parties are other essentials for preparing for the Summer season. Humans are not the only ones who prepare for the upcoming season. However, in many cases property owners find that soon it is discovered that they need to evict wildlife after an unknown "winter rental." The fact they they have made their way into properties for the winter results in a problem for property owners, especially if the issue is a mice infestation rather than just one unwanted guest there are usually many more than you see.
Because these rodents are without a skeletal system, they can easily maneuver into tiny spaces to gain entrance to a building. Once they are in, they get behind walls, in attics, basements and crawlspaces where fluffy pink insulation provides the ideal spot for nesting. If you think rabbits multiply, mice can double in population just as easily.
Once you begin to see evidence of the rodents—usually in the form of tiny black feces no bigger than a sesame seed or holes chewed out of food containers in the pantry—you are going to have to address the problem. While getting rid of one or two mice is a one-person job, getting rid of the mess of many requires the expertise of a professional. While exterminators can come in and eradicate the property of the mice infestation, that is where their job ends—leaving the property owner with the clean up. And if there were a significant number of mice inside the structure, the damage and the clean up are going to be far more than just picking up a few droppings or throwing out food from the pantry.Hint: If you suspect a mice infestation, contact a professional immediately.
How To Deter Mice From Entering Your Home
- Install door sweeps on exterior doors and seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home or building.
- Do not leave doors open and this includes the bulkhead.
- Keep trash in secure buckets outside and away from the house.
- Dispose of trash on a regular basis.
- Store firewood at least 20 feet from the home or building.
SERVPRO recently has been called onto jobs where the rodents had a field day, practically establishing an entire condominium complex inside the rafters of the basement. They damaged the insulation and contaminated large portions of the property. Our team comes in and removes the killed rodents—exterminators usually set traps containing poison that, once eaten, kill the creatures immediately which leaves a pungent odor. We also dispose of their feces and any contaminated insulation. Lastly we, sanitizing the framing and studs and replacing the insulation, making it “Like it Never Even Happened.” If you would like help with this type of situation please contact us SERVPRO of Upper Cape Cod & The Islands.
Water heater recall: Rheem, American Standard
Recall: Rheem Water Heater, American Standard. If you need assistance cleaning up call us at 508-888-5985
We recently came across this recall from Rheem who issued a recall May 26 on its Rheem Performance Platinum brand of electric water heaters in 40-, 50- and 80-gal. capacities due to fire and burn hazards caused by the overheating of control panels. If you have experienced a fire damage due to your Rheem water heater and need help cleaning up contact SERVPRO of Upper Cape Cod & The Islands. Water Heating Technologies Corp. issued a recall May 24 on its American Standard brand of gas water heaters in 30-, 40- and 50-gal. capacities due to a fire or explosion hazard caused by a space between the burner flange and the combustion chamber.
Rheem Performance Platinum recall
The Rheem recall is for 54,000 of its Performance Platinum brand of electric water heaters (40-, 50- and 80-gal.) sold exclusively at Home Depot locations nationwide and online from January 2014 through April 2016 for between $450 and $720. The control panel on the water heaters can overheat, posing fire and burn hazards. The firm has received 296 reports of control panels overheating, including one report of a fire which resulted in $5,800 in property damage. No injuries have been reported.
Consumers should immediately turn off and stop using the recalled water heaters, and contact Rheem to request a free repair by a Rheem field technician. Call toll-free at 866/369-4786 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CT Monday through Saturday, and from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. CT on Sunday, or visit www.rheem.com/recalls.
Getting Organized; Cape Cod & Islands
This photo shows a job that we did where the bedroom door couldn't open. We were able to help them restore their home back to a safe environment.
There is a reason the DIY shows push storage and organization solutions during Springtime. It’s because they know that there is no better time than after a long winter to tackle the task of cleaning or more specifically, getting organized. The start of the new season combined with cold winter days that kept us house bound for months makes it the perfect opportunity to clean out linen and clothes closets as well as other areas of the house that become a catchall for miscellaneous items that no longer have a place in our lives and rediscover areas cluttered with stuff.
Now is the season for cleaning and organizing—for opening the closets and drawers and finally getting rid of some of the things that you no longer use. Before the summer guests start to arrive, head out to a big box store, pick up some storage and organization solutions and start cleaning. Purging is good. It not only creates more space, it can free you from some of the things that may be holding you back.
And if you start a project of cleaning and organizing a room, the basement, attic or garage and find yourself retracting from it or even avoiding it because it just seems like too big of a task to accomplish on your own call our team at SERVPRO of Upper Cape Cod & The Islands to help you when you need it most!
Hoarding is a serious issue here in Cape Cod & The Islands
When a room gets buried in stuff sometimes it's better to call SERVPRO of help to clean and organize it up.
Many of us are guilty, embarrassed or even ashamed of keeping things longer than we probably should and collecting items that we really don’t need; for some reason, however, we cannot bring ourselves to toss these things out. Does this behavior make us hoarders? More than likely, the answer to that question is no. Many of us use the word hoarding when we really mean to say we have clutter. It is a good indication, however, that we need some storage and organization solutions, to keep the things we love and get rid of the things that are taking up too much space in our homes and our lives. However, if you can not sleep in your bed, bath in your tub or cook on your cook top in your kitchen because of piles of "stuff" it may be a warning that there may be a more serious issue than clutter.
What is hoarding? Hoarding can be described as either the acquisition of or the failure to discard a large number of possessions. This condition impacts approximately 15 million people in the U.S. Hoarding is not bias and effects people of every age, race and financial demographic in our country. The main difference between hoarding and squalor is even though a room may be heavily cluttered, there are no signs of infestation, mold, rotting food or human/animal waste. As a restoration company that offers “extreme cleaning services,” I have seen hoarding situations. My number one concern is to be respectful and protect a person's privacy while working through this experience. By the time we arrive on the scene in these homes, the collection of debris has gotten to a point where it is classified as a health issue. If there are pets living in the home, the situation can be even worse.
My team has cleaned properties that were in squalor condition. The person living there had fallen into a deep depression and not cleaned up after himself or his four dogs for at least nine months. In addition to all of the stuff he had amassed, the dogs had not been walked and there was fecal matter…along with bacteria... throughout the home. We came into the home and removed what needed to be thrown out and cleaned everything else to the level of cleanliness to please a health inspector. This is what I call extreme cleaning and it requires the services of a professional company that has the equipment and trained professionals who are "empathetic but not emotionally connected” to the things that need to be removed and the ability to sanitize what is left that has been neglected for an extended amount of time or even years. If you or someone you know needs help there are services.
Extreme cleaning is something that is far beyond day to day cleaning. It is even beyond the spring and fall cleaning most homeowners do when they pull out the furniture and vacuum under it and pull down window treatments to clean them…and the windows, too! If you or someone you know is in over their head with "stuff" that they have acquired or not thrown away we can help restore a safe and health home again. For more information please visit our website.
Some Cape Cod & Islands Property Owners Left Dealing with Water Damage from Arctic Blast
If you or someone you know is experiencing a water damage from frozen pipes call us for service at 508-888-5985.
The Arctic Blast that came in last weekend is now a distant memory for many. However, for some the effects have just begun. At SERVPRO of Upper Cape Cod & The Islands we've been experiencing a higher volume of calls from both residential and commercial property owners who are now experiencing broken pipes and water damages across Cape Cod & The Islands now that temperatures have returned to above normal across the region.
Here is some information for those dealing with water damage on Cape Cod & The Islands
Some other things you should consider when hiring a company to help you recover from storm damage here on Cape Cod & the Islands
- When contracting a cleanup and restoration company that can help you restore your property, "Like it never even happened." make sure they have the correct insurance to be doing this type of work.
- If you need to hire someone to do the reconstruction make sure they hold a General Contractors License and are fully insured with both liability and worker's compensation. Note: Anyone that works on your property should carry their own WC Policy or any accidents that may occur will be covered under the property owners policy.
- Make sure a building permit is acquired and all inspections are passed before final payment is issued. And remember to report any upgrades or changes to your property to your insurance agent or carrier so they can add it to your policy. Note: Upgrades to kitchens and bathrooms or even flooring should be noted in your policy for future coverage.
Going through a water damage is hard enough but not having the right resources and information to guide your decision making can sometime add unneeded stress to an already stressful situation. At SERVPRO of Upper Cape Cod & The Islands we want to help you recover from a water damage as quickly and effortlessly as possible. Call 508-888-5985 for help 24/7!
Here are some other helpful resources:
A list of local insurance agents and carriers
Six Steps to a Water Damage Clean up & Repair
Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification
Flooding Water Can Turn Into A Mold Problem Fast!
Flooding storm surges in the streets of Cape Cod & The Islands can turn into a mold problem for properties.
With outside temperatures dipping and storm tides rising, the furthest thing from most property owners’ minds right now is the possibility of mold spores spreading on their walls. But it is not just summer’s humidity that can invite dampness or moisture into a home. Despite winter’s dry air, moisture can find its way into properties through ice dams and other means, creating the perfect environment for mold spores to form and take root.
It’s a good idea to check interior and exterior walls after a storm has passed and the ice begins to melt. I also recommend that property owners do a brief inspection at the end of the winter season. Any dark spots or water stains on the walls can be an indication that water infiltrated the home and it needs to be assessed sooner rather than later. Here’s what happened at a job we recently completed in South Yarmouth.
Our customer called, asking us to clean up what he thought was just a minor water damage in South Yarmouth, MA. But when we got there and looked at the problem, we realized the area of damage must of occured from an ice dam the previous winter and the damage done over the course of a year was significant. Mold spores had already formed and the fungus had established itself. The mold damage affected an interior wall in the kitchen area and the mold spores spread to a point that the entire kitchen had to be replaced.
Not sure if you have a mold problem in your home or business?
Signs and Symptoms that there are mold spores living with you.
- A stale, musty odor pervading the inside of your home. This odor will cling to fabrics, drapes even carpeting, including linens, window treatments, clothes, sometimes even after they have been washed.
- There are speckles of black and white appearing on surfaces in your home, such as on the walls.
- The black marks reappear even after you have cleaned them.
- Cardboard items in your basement, attic, or garage feel damp.
- The wooden parts of the structure of your house are soggy and or are rottening.
Mold Inspection versus Mold Testing
At SERVPRO of Upper Cape Cod and the Islands, inspecting for mold is a standard part of what we do. We know the signs to look for and how to identify a problem. Once we detect signs of mold, we search for the cause. After determining the source of the moisture, we begin the process of fixing the problem.
If there are no visible signs of mold spores, but there are some symptoms, allergens for example, the property owner can choose to have their home or business tested for mold. In this case, we recommend that they call in an unbiased, third party to do the testing. This eliminates any doubt or questions about the test results and makes for a good system of checks and balances. At SERVPRO of Upper Cape Cod and the Islands, we sell our services based on information and not scare tactics. If you need more information please contact us.
Dirty Air Ducts on Cape Cod & Islands: May Cause Health Problems
Does your air duct system filter look like this one? If it is clogged up with dust and debris like this one you may want to get your system cleaned pr
Health Risks Associated with Dirty Ducts
The risks of having dirty air ducts may be more severe than you might know. Have your allergies been getting the best of you lately and you’re not sure why? Can’t get rid of that nagging cough or cold? When it comes to cleaning, there are a few areas of your home that may get overlooked and one of those areas might be the HVAC system. As a restoration company, we offer air duct cleaning services.
Some Health Effects of Particle Pollution
- Asthma and chronic bronchitis
- Acute respiratory symptoms, such as coughing and chest tightness
- Decreased lung function, experienced as shortness of breath
- Heart attacks
- Premature death in people with heart or lung disease
Exposure to particle pollution can affect both your lungs and your heart. Health research suggests that short-term exposure to coarse particles can lead to coughing, minor throat irritation and reduced lung function, while long-term exposure may increase the rate of respiratory and cardiovascular illness. Many of these conditions contribute to work and school absences, emergency room visits, and hospital admissions. Any unexplained allergy-related illnesses could be a sign that your HVAC system needs to be cleaned.
Who is Most at Risk
- Children, because their lungs are still developing
- Elderly, particularly those with or prone to cardiovascular disease
- People with asthma or other respiratory ailments
- Healthy adults who exert themselves during periods of elevated fine particle concentrations also may be affected because they tend to breathe more while working or exercising.
You can learn more on EPA’s website.
If you are concerned about the health and wellbeing of someone you love, please feel free to contact us for a quote. We are here to help!
Dirty Air Ducts Cost You Money on Cape Cod & The Islands
Photo of a air duct before and after cleaning. Notice how much dirt and debris is covering the surface of the duct before just one cleaning.
Like your dryer and furnace your air duct system can cost you more money if it is running inefficiently and that simply translates into you spending more money to heat or cool your home or business. Do you often find yourself wondering, how often should I get my air ducts cleaned? Or is it necessary to clean air ducts? Then you have come to the right place for answers. When it comes to the chores of spring and fall cleaning, we all know that we have to wash the windows, move the furniture, and clean the window treatments. Cleaning the HVAC system doesn’t even make the list because it’s not something we see or notice on a regular basis. A dirty heating and cooling system not only spews tiny particles of dirt, dust, and debris which can cause health issues it can cause clogging of vents which may shorten the life span of your furnace and electronical devices. Hiring a Cleaning & Restoration Company can in turn save you money and give you cleaner air to breathe.
What Makes Air Ducts Dirty?
Beyond the day to day pollutants such as dust and debris there is the question of do you have pets? Chances are their fur is not only collecting under the furniture and in corners, it can be collecting in air ducts as well. Speaking of animals, if there is any evidence that wildlife such as squirrels, chipmunks or mice are nesting in your heating and cooling system, immediately call a pest control company to eliminate the animals. Then a Cleanup Company can come in to remove the deceased animals, their excrement and any affected insulation followed by sanitizing the system. We recently responded to a job for a customer whose tenant was complaining of a strong odor throughout the home. Once we inspected the system we discovered not only to our surprise but to our customer too that over 60 mice had been living within the system and wall cavities of the home for some time. We were hired to cleanup up the deceased mice and their excrement. They were so relieved to finally have a solution to their hidden odor problem while saving their relationship with a good tenant.
If you have a furnace malfunction you can be affected by, in industry terms, a Puff Back. During a puff back event, oil based soot usually covers all areas of the property including drapes, bedding, furniture, clothing, cabinets, ceilings, walls and floors and is extremely difficult to remove. Most times, you will know that you’ve had a furnace puff back! But there are times when it is harder to detect since the soot coverage can range from a light dusting to a concentrated dark appearance especially on horizontal surfaces like countertops. While you may be tempted to clean the affected area, the "dust" will “re-appear” hours later. You can read more about Puff Backs and how to deal with them in a blog posting from earlier this year.
If you are planning to have work done that would include cutting wood such as carpentry it helps to seal off the ductwork during the renovations, but if they weren’t, dust could have collected in the ducts. If you recently remodeled or renovated a room in your home or business and this task wasn’t done the ductwork may need to be cleaned. Please feel free to contact us for a quote.