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How to Prevent a Costly Mold Cleanup

Water damage restoration contractors come across this scenario often, especially during the spring & summer seasons as temperatures heat up. The way to accomplish turning a $5K water job into a $20K mold job is as follows…

First, at a minimum, you will need a substantial onetime water condition like a flooded basement from a burst pipe or a defective boiler in a typical residential home or commercial structure. Multiple water leak events or continual slow leak conditions make your chances much more likely to achieve this award. The second most critical aspect is to do an improper water mitigation & de-humidification. That is all you need, wasn’t that easy???

All kidding aside, the above is accurate and not exactly funny if you are the owner of the dwelling or space. Whenever we restoration contractors hear stories about a previous leak or leaks, our ears perk up. We immediately look for the tell-tale signs of mold growth, like black mold behind the base moldings or door casings. Seeing some visible mold growth in these spots are like seeing the tip of an iceberg. There is likely a large area of mold growth on the back side of the sheetrock, out of view, which is the real concern and often very difficult to determine how bad & far reaching the growth is.

In NYS there are strict mold testing & remediation guidelines. Only a NYS licensed mold testing companies can legally test for the presence of dangerous levels of mold. They are also the only company type that can confirm with post testing that a successful mold remediation was done. NYS guidelines also state that only a licensed mold remediation contractor can perform the necessary mold removal & mold cleaning protocols as outlined by the testing company. Further stated in the NYS guidelines, the remediation company cannot do the testing & the testing company cannot perform the remediation on the same project.

Hidden Mold
It’s the mold you cant see in between the walls, that is the major concern.

The mold remediation process is detailed, time consuming & very costly. Take some advice from a pro, DO NOT attempt to cleanup & dehumidify a large water condition on your own, without the proper equipment & know how. Most homeowners think they can turn on a few small fans & tiny dehumidifiers to solve the problem. The reality is they likely only evaporated the visible standing water into the air which created an elevated moisture environment throughout the entire space. This simple act creates a perfect condition for unseen mold growth. You see how easy it is to make a simple water cleanup job into a very large & costly mold remediation project?

If you have a known, repeating water leak or continuous high moisture condition, as is common for many homes with basements on Long Island, you should act swiftly on neutralizing this condition ASAP.

If you or a friend has an emergency condition involving water or mold, the first call should be to a restoration contractor for a site visit for a complete, professional no cost evaluation & consultation. Please consider the information presented in this blog before making the decision to tackle a job like this on your own. For more information on other water, smoke, fire & mold restoration please visit our blog https://truerestorations.com/blog/

For more on mold, including the Do’s & Don’t s, please visit our site https://truerestorations.com/mold-damage-restoration/

Regards,

The True Restorations Team

Homeowners Insurance Claim Payout FAQ’s

man giving estimate for insurance claim
Auto check up and car service shop concept. Mechanic writing job checklist to clipboard to estimate repair quotation to client at workshop garage.

What are all those acronyms on the repair estimate, EMS, RCV, ACV, D&R, R&R, O&P?

EMS = Emergency mitigation service

RCV = recoverable cash value, which would be the total value of the labor & materials needed to repair and/or replace the exact same finished materials (a.k.a. like, kind & quality).

 ACV = actual cash value. This value is the amount of the initial repair payout, which is typically the RCV less the recoverable depreciation.

D&R = detach & reset. This Xactimate entry is used as a labor only entry for salvageable items that need to be removed / salvaged / and reset as a part of the repair process. Example: A vanity is being replaced but the sinktop & faucet would need to be salvaged & reinstalled on the new vanity cabinet.

R&R = Remove & replace. This Xactimate entry is used when an item is being entirely demolished & replaced with a new similar item of similar grade & composition.

O&P = Overhead & profit. This extra add-on is typically applied to Xactimate repair line item entries to compensate for having to hire a professional contractor to manage & coordinate the repair portion of your project. This multiplier is often left off repair estimates when homeowners try to “go it alone” without the assistance of an industry professional assisting in settling the claim.

Why is my insurance payout for the repairs so low?

Most likely your payout will be the ACV (actual cash value) less the amount of your deductible. Example, the RCV (recoverable cash value) on your repair payout is $10,000 and your ACV (actual cash value) is $8500, $1,500 is withheld and that is the recoverable depreciation. If you have a $1,000 deductible, your initial insurance repair payout will be $7,500. You can also get the $1,500 from your insurance carrier under certain conditions.

What is recoverable depreciation & how can I get that money reimbursed?

Typically, If you can show your insurance carrier receipts for any supplies you paid for directly along with paid invoices to your contractor that add up to the RCVvalue (or greater) than you would qualify to get reimbursed the recoverable depreciation…..or…….you may be able to have the carrier release the recoverable depreciation once you have a signed contract with a contractor equal to the RCV.

What if I want to do some or all of the work, are there any advantages or disadvantages to doing this, can I still get the recoverable depreciation?

Your carrier would LOVE for you to do this, as the deck is stacked in their favor if you go that direction. The same rules would apply regarding showing paid receipts totaling the RCV value in order to get the recoverable depreciation, which won’t really be possible if you provide your own labor. Plus, the adjuster will likely not afford you overhead & profit (O&P) which will drastically reduce your payout as you are not a contractor with overhead or profit concerns.

Why can’t my contractor do all the repair work and wait to get paid from my insurance carrier like they do on the EMS side?

Collections on the EMS portion of your claim, though it takes a lot of time & delays, the carriers will often cut a check directly to your contractor as a sole payee, which is proper due to the fact that the signed service authorization states those particulars, plus….all the work has been completed. The emergency work is handled this way because the scope of work is unknown and providing an estimate often takes time, additional time typically causes more damage. Your insurance carrier prefers to have the emergency work commence immediately to minimize the damages and is prepared to be billed directly from the restoration contractor. With a signed direction of payment from you (aka: DOP), that document instructs the carrier to pay the emergency cleanup contractor directly for the EMS work.

On the repair side most contractors don’t offer credit terms on repair work as they are  not a bank or a lending institution. This is mainly due to the insurance carrier’s unwillingness to guarantee unencumbered payments directly to the contractor. They’re  policy is to put additional parties on the checks (mortgage companies). Your mortgager would have the legal right to the funds if there are delinquencies, which creates an untenable situation for a contractor.

We hope this information helps you understand your confusing insurance claim. Thank you for taking the time to read this & please peruse our blog for other helpful posts related to emergency cleanups & repairs.

The True Restorations Team

 

 

Why you should use a “full service” restoration contractor

You just experienced a water damage event at your home and are searching for a restoration contractor. Do you know not all water damage restoration companies perform the same services? Many only perform the emergency mitigation/cleanup services and not build back / restoration. In fact, for companies that advertise themselves as a restoration contractor while not offering the repairs seems disingenuous, if not misleading – don’t you think?

Exactly what services do full-service restoration contractors offer and how can that benefit you? A list of full services would include insurance claims assistance, on-site consultations & communications with the insurance companies field adjuster, content cleaning and pack-out services of salvageable contents in the affected areas, mitigation and clean up services, complete repairs of all affected finishes….everything.

The benefit of utilizing a full-service restoration contractor as compared to a “mitigation only” are many. The major difference is time and effort to settle the claim and get rebuilt back to pre-loss condition. Having a full-service restoration contractor to assist you in the entire claim will easily save you weeks if not months of delays and aggravation. Trying to settle your claim while simultaneously getting quotes from typical contractors that match up to the insurance adjusters estimate is a daunting task. What is a month of your time and aggravation worth? Go with a full restoration company.

If a water leak happens should I file an insurance claim?

When a water leak occurs, the initial reaction is to stop the leak. Once stopped, most people will attempt a quick clean up by themselves. They sop up all the water and notice some damage to the floors, walls, base moldings and doors. They review their insurance policy and see it has a $1,000 deductible and wonder, “how much will all this cost to fix?” They call their insurance agent for advice, and luckily their agent is knowledgeable and committed to high levels of customer service, and recommends that they call in a trusted restoration contractor for a free consultation

The recommended restoration contractor arrives and tests the affected floors, walls and finishes for signs of trapped moisture with a moisture meter. He explains that even though the puddles are gone, the water has soaked up in-and-behind the sheetrock and trim. Without proper water mitigation and de-humidification, this trapped moisture can rapidly start dangerous mold growth within the unseen walls.

The estimate for the mitigation is $3000 to $5000 and the repairs including replacement of the ripped-out floors and walls is $10,000 to $12,000. If all this wasn’t traumatizing enough, the restoration contractor explains that most homeowners’ policies won’t cover mold growth unless the mold condition was created by a “covered” water loss. He says, “I’ve seen this a countless number of times, there is a profound trapped moisture condition that people don’t feel they need to start a claim for and try to mitigate it themselves…unsuccessfully. Months later, they discover the presence of mold and can’t get coverage because they never started a claim for the water condition. They should have started a claim immediately, got it covered as a water loss and with this “covered loss” status, they would have had mold coverage protection.

The motto of this story is had they first called in a full-service restoration contractor who did the complete job from start to finish it would have only cost the homeowner their $1,000 deductible. Also, they would have been no fear of mold growth because the job was done correctly from the beginning!

Smoke damage looks bad and smells bad too!

smoke-damage-restorationsSmoke damage isn’t just the visible soot on ceilings and walls the real damage is the lingering smell that is trapped in nearly every part of a smoke affected structure. This lingering smoke smell is generated by the smallest of smoke particles, invisible to the naked eye, that can and will penetrate all porous surfaces.

Understanding the composition, travel path, and proper cleaning techniques of smoke  is best left to professionally trained smoke damage cleanup companies. Attempting to provide smoke damage restoration as a layman will exacerbate and frustrate most homeowners. Worst,, all that work will need to be duplicated or more expensive solutions deployed to rectify the lingering smoke smell from a structure.

The best smoke smell removal companies deploy carbon filtered HEPA air scrubbers to filter the air immediately after a fire or profound smoke condition within a structure. They know that microscopic smoke particles will stay airborne for days & days after a fire. Unless these particles are filtered out of the air, they will be breathed in by occupants and will settle down on EVERY surface and be absorbed into textiles (clothes, blankets, towels & linens). Improperly cleaning these items may cause these toxic particles to be further embedded into these porous surfaces, locking in that nasty smoke smell.

Water damage – do it yourself or call in a pro?

Water Damage inside your home can come from broken pipes, broken or defective appliances such as boiler and hot water heater leaks, Also, wind driven rain or rising water from a flood or other ground water penetrations are other ways that water can penetrate a home. Besides the obvious cleanup of standing water, most people don’t understand all the unseen damage and the potential consequences of improperly mitigating (cleanup) the unseen trapped moisture.

The starting point for every water condition should be an immediate call to a professional water damage restoration company. These companies have specialized training and moisture assessment equipment and experience in assessing every type of water condition. A competent water technician from a water damage cleanup company will also have valuable insight in the insurance claims process if your water condition warrants initiating an insurance claim. Once a claim is started, the restoration contracting pro can be an invaluable resource and a liaison when interacting with the insurance adjuster.

Understanding building construction is another advantage “the pros” have over most homeowners during the initial survey of water damages. Understanding the travel path of water and knowing where to look for trapped moisture is another benefit of bringing in a professional.

Specialized tools used to detect trapped moisture hidden within, behind & under finished surfaces is what the water tech will use and is yet another reason why you should call a pro. The tech will use invasive, pin type penetrating moisture detecting probes as well as non-invasive surface scanning water meters and infrared thermal scanning tools to probe and detect surfaces for signs of trapped moisture. Once the survey is complete, a moisture map and mitigation plan will be formulated to effectively dry down the affected space.

Puff Back Cleanup Specialists In Long Island NY – True Restorations Inc.

Puff Back Cleanup Specialists Long Island NY

Dealing with a puff back or a severely smoked out structure will require the assistance of an experienced Puff Back Cleanup Specialists who specializes in smoke damage cleanup along with smoke odor removal. This cleanup job requires specialized equipment & techniques and is a likely going to be an insurance claim. True Restorations is a top smoke damage cleaning company on Long Island that you will want to have involved all aspects of this type of project, including insurance claims processing, smoke & soot cleaning, air filtering, odor removal & neutralization, textile cleaning, contents cleaning & deodorizing and odor encapsulation.

A puff back is a smoke condition created by a defective oil fired hot water boiler, this “puff back” can cause thick black smoke to be pumped throughout a structure rendering all surfaces to be covered with a layer of greasy, oily soot. Before any attempt at cleaning & deodorizing of your home you should be aware that improper cleaning techniques can cause smoke particles to be pushed deeper into porous surfaces causing further damages and even more work to effectively deodorize the structure

If you have ever witnessed a house or structure that has sustained a puff backs or a severe smoke condition from a fire, you can attest to the extent of damages that can occur. There will likely be a layer of soot over every surface in the entire house, inside the closets, embedded in carpets & other soft goods, inside the ductwork, cabinetry…. everywhere. Even days after the puff back or fire occurred, spending time inside a smoked-out structure will leave you with a burning sensation in your eyes & throat due to residual microscopic smoke particles. The odor created by this condition will remain until proper cleaning & deodorizing treatments are done. Proper cleaning protocols will likely entail HEPA vacuuming every surface in the home along with a chemical sponge wipe down, followed up with a wet wipe solvent mixed with an odor neutralizing degreaser. This work will be done while simultaneously filtering the air with a HEPA filtered air scrubber coupled with a hydroxyl generator.

If you sustain any kind of smoke condition at your home or business, immediately call True Restorations at 631-757-0212 for a free consultation and assistance with cleanup & processing of any insurance claim.

To know more about our services, visit Smoke Damage Restorations.

We also provide Water, Fire, Mold & Wind damage restoration services for residential & commercials.

Regards,

True Restorations Inc.

Water Removal Only?

Water Damage Cleanup And Restoration Long Island NYWater damage in Long Island is not uncommon, with it being surrounded by water and all. But it doesn’t mean you should take it lightly. The water pooling up on your floor may get sucked up but the unseen water & moisture behind walls & under the flooring can wreck tremendous havoc if not dealt with properly. Have a professional take care of flooded basement water removal as well as detecting, exposing & drying hidden, trapped moisture before mold growth occurs will ensure the safety of you and your family. True Restorations, a top company dedicated to water damage restoration in Long Island NY, ensures complete removal, cleanup, and restoration of your home.

You wake up one morning to find 1” of water throughout your finished basement. You search for the source but are unable to find a broken pipe or cracked plumbing pipe. You remember that there was a torrential downpour late last night & that somehow this build-up of water must have found some way to get into your basement. You think “this is going to be a lot of work”. After a call to your insurance agent, you learn that groundwater entering your home from this situation is known as ‘seepage” and that there is no coverage under your current policy for this type of work. Now what??

You go to your laptop computer, open up Google and type in “flooded basement water removal company near me”. After perusing a few sites & make a few appointments for site visits for an evaluation & quote, then, and only then does the magnitude of the coming cleanup occur to you.

The first company to respond in for an assessment & quote was a local, reputable, highly rated water restoration company. Their assessment echoes your insurance agents, there likely will be no coverage, this work will have to be paid “out of pocket”. The restoration tech also explains many other aspects of a proper clean-up that you have never heard about. Terms like: category 3 water, elevated moisture readings showing trapped moisture in sheetrocked walls, potential harmful mold growth as a result of improper dry down of the affected structure. They present you with a quote for full water restoration services as per the IICRC guidelines. You think…..”Wow, this is way more work than you were thinking, all you want is the water removed”. You thank them for the quote and then wait for a second evaluation.

The second company to respond to your request for help is a local plumber who specializes in pump-outs, typically sewer backups. He is not trained in water restoration and doesn’t even own a water meter that can detect elevated moisture readings in sheetrock, wood or even concrete or other surfaces. The plumber says, “only 1” of water….this is a piece of cake, I will have this water soaked up in 45 minutes”. He recommends that you set up a few fans to help dry everything down. He also recommends to maybe spray some bleach and do additional precautionary clean up.  He gives you a price that is about one-quarter of what the restoration contractor quoted.

After the two assessments & quotes and some thoughtful reflection, you make your decision on what to do. This scenario will play out for countless property owners, over & over again…… every day. Which direction any particular property will be determined by factoring available monies coupled with risk tolerance. If you can afford to pay to have the restoration contractor who is licensed, insured & trained to perform a full water restoration project with complete dry down and anti-microbial treatment and you absolutely are risk-averse to exposing your family to the potentially harmful affects of improperly cleaned surfaces or potential mold infestation. If your situation presents you with limited unavailable disposable income and an inability to access credit to pay for services, you may be forced to hire the “cheap guy” even knowing or wanting the full restoration & cleanup offered by the trained, competent restoration contractor.

We at True Restorations are realistic & understanding about any one person’s particular financial situation and ability to pay for services will vary. We will respond to these types of emergencies for a free consultation. We will provide pricing for full restoration services as well as ala carte pricing for less than a complete water restoration project as we realize that without proper insurance coverage, some clients will need a modified scope of work that they can realistically afford.  We do however seek an indemnification from our clients for protection against not following the IICRC guidelines for proper restoration along with executing the modified cleanup & dry down of the affected structure.

If your home or business is affected by water in any way, please call us right away at 631-757-0212 for an immediate response, consultation & quote for services.

To know more about other services visit here

 

True Restorations Inc.

“One Call Does it All”

Why Hire A Smoke Cleanup Company?

Smoke can be hazardous to your health, worsening asthma and causing respiratory conditions. Don’t underestimate its power and have any smoke-related damage taken care of right away. True Restoration, a smoke damage restoration company, will help you go through a full smoke removal, smoke cleanup & deodorizing procedure in the event of a smoke damage emergency.

If you have ever experienced a small fire or smoke condition in your home or your business, you probably can remember how the smell penetrated everywhere throughout the structure. Perhaps you attempted to provide your own smoke cleanup, a puff back cleanup or soot cleanup from a fire. Maybe you attempted to mask the smell of the smoke by deodorizing on your own. I would be willing to bet that the smell never really went away. There is a very good reason for the lack of success in attempting a smoke cleanup on your own….it’s a tricky & laborious process that requires a lot of knowledge & expertise as well as specialized equipment.

Trained smoke & fire restoration contractors possess specialized equipment & training for cleaning & deodorizing a structure. It would be highly advisable to seek out help from one of these contractors right from the onset of a smoke condition.  These contractors are not only highly trained in cleaning & deodorizing, they also are very familiar with dealing with insurance companies in navigating the insurance claims process. They can be a tremendous asset & advocate in assuring that the proper cleanup is done, as well as securing a proper payout from the insurance company, minimizing or eliminating out of pocket expenses for their clients. Understanding some of the dynamics of a smoke condition can help one understand the level & type of cleaning & deodorizing needed for any particular smoke cleanup project.

What causes smoke?

When a liquid or a solid (oil, wood, plastic, etc) is heated up, it changes states to a gaseous form. As this change of state occurs, this new gas created is also oxidizing (combining with oxygen). You can see this rapid oxidation process, which would be visually represented by a flame. High heat is the byproduct of rapid oxidation, this high heat, in turn, heats up the solid/liquid even more & creates a feedback loop which in turn causes more vaporizing along with more oxidation and so on. The smoke that you see is the gaseous form of that solid/liquid that has not completely oxidized (a.k.a., unoxidized, unburnt fuel). The smoke particles that are within the smoke will vary in size, the size will vary based on the type of material being vaporized & amount of heat generated by the oxidation process. A high heat fire creates very small diameter smoke particles, so miniscule in nature that a lot of them cannot be seen by the naked eye. This vaporizing & oxidizing process also creates highly pressurized conditions within a structure, which causes the penetration of smoke particles to virtually every part of the structure. The size of the particles will affect how deeply they can penetrate into surfaces & materials contained within a structure. Also, the smaller the size, the less visible they are the more likely for them to stay airborne & unsettled. These particles are an extreme inhalation risk for inhabitants and should be collected & scrubbed from the air ASAP.

We all know that heat rises, the same goes for the heated smoke particles. Highly heated, pressurized smoke particles are searching for a way to vent out of the structure. They will go out open windows, or more likely, will travel vertically through a structure and collect at the highest levels and then mushroom out searching for a way out from the highly pressure environment they are in. Understanding the travel path of smoke is the key to knowing where the smoke particles will be potentially trapped and linger & remain as a smelly reminder well after the fire. Getting at these odor causing particles & neutralizing them takes specialized equipment & techniques.

An untrained, unequipped homeowner attempting a smoke restoration or soot cleanup may unwittingly cause more damage to surfaces and finishes during cleanup by driving smoke particles deeper into surfaces during the cleanup process. Not having access to an industrial strength air scrubber with carbon filtering could mean that recently cleaned surfaces can be re-contaminated with smoke particles that can stay airborne for up to 10 days. Also, the unwitting homeowner may not realize that smoke particles have penetrated behind the walls, behind paneling, or have worked their way into the cracks where the trim meets the walls & floors, or realizing that odor causing smoke particles have been trapped in insulation, or have penetrated into the pours of soft framing lumber hidden from view. All this can mean that a deodorization can never be achieved without the use of specialized equipment & techniques that can penetrate & neutralize these trapped odor producing particles. In short, it is unwise for a novice to attempt a smoke or soot cleanup.

If you sustain any kind of smoke condition at your home or business, immediately call True Restorations at 631-757-0212 for a free consultation and assistance with cleanup & processing of any insurance claim.

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Regards,

True Restorations Inc.

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