Outside temperatures are soaring, HVAC air conditioning systems are running constantly as a result. When the hot air of your house gets sucked into your HVAC system return and travels past the coiling coil the result will be an accumulation of water / moisture at the coil location. Your HVAC air handler / blower will collect the condensation water & direct it through a pipe away from the unit. If your blower is in your attic, this condensation line will be pitched toward your gutter where gravity can allow the drainage water to easily drain down to the ground below. Homes that have air handlers in a basement will often have no available way to gravity drain this condensation water to the exterior, in these situations the water is gravity drained to an electrically fed condensation pump. The condensation pump will have the ability to pump the water vertically into a higher internal sewer line or possibly out the exterior via a pipe drilled through the foundation.
Most HVAC systems will not only have this primary condensation drain but will also have a secondary condensation pan (a.k.a. drip pan) below the condensation coil. This pan can collect quite a bit of water if the primary drain is not draining sufficiently. Typically, this secondary drain would get directed to the same gutter location but instead of dumping water into the gutter the installers direct this water over the gutter so homeowners can be alerted to act immediately if they ever see water dripping from this secondary condensation drain. Water exiting this secondary drain means that the primary drain is not functioning properly. There may also be a “high water” shutoff switch within the drip pan to act as a unit “cut-off” switch which would stop the unit from working. The triggering of this switch means that the primary & secondary drain both are likely clogged, and the drip pan is becoming very full.
Once your HVAC system condensation system stops draining away water as designed you can be faced with a substantial internal water condition equivalent to leaving a water faucet turned on. The amount of internal water damage to ceilings, walls, floors can be extensive and very costly to cleanup & repair. If this leak occurs when you are at work, or even worse, while on vacation, the ensuing damages can be catastrophic especially with the specter of advanced microbial growth in higher temperature locations like attics, closets and other non-cooled areas of your dwelling.
It’s HVAC leak season, be sure to have regular servicing of your HVAC system
It’s HVAC leak season, best to take a preventative approach by having your air handler condensation lines cleaned prior to turning on your air conditioning units. Regular servicing of your HVAC system should be done with yearly cleaning & maintenance. During this maintenance process the filters would get replaced, the coil would get cleaned and most importantly the condensation line that directs the water away from the air handler would be flushed / cleaned. For those who have sustained internal damage from an HVAC leak or overflow of the drip pan, we recommend you have a water damage cleanup contractor come do an emergency cleanup & dehumidification of the affected areas to prevent the rapid onslaught of dangerous mold growth.
When faced with the total loss of your home or business from a fire, the ability to manage your own expectations will make the harrowing cleanup & rebuild much more manageable. Understanding the critical path of a fire restoration job will help you tremendously in this regard.
Once the fire is out there will be a pressing need to get your family a place to sleep, the property sealed up and valuable items secured and safeguarded. We’d recommend you reach out to your insurance broker to start an insurance claim and ask for a referral of an experienced large loss fire damage restoration contractor. Once that contractor is signed, they will coordinate the board up and safeguarding of your valuables and will work rapidly to get approvals of all the other specialty contractors needed to cleanup and salvage as much of the structure & contents possible. Now you can then work on getting your family settled with a new living space, likely a hotel for a few nights until a more semi-permanent residence can be setup. Next step is to slow down, this is the 1st step in managing your own expectations. This whole process is intricate & will only get more difficult if you relax and let the process play out. You might not want to hear it but sadly for you, the cleanup & rebuild will take many, many months and there really isn’t much you can do to make it go faster.
There will be many contractors out front, climbing all over you to get your business. Hopefully you listened to your insurance agent and signed up with their referred fire restoration contractor, if you did, tell those sharks / vultures to all go home. That will help you be calmer & be able to think things through. Please resist the temptation to hire a Public Adjuster. We know the promises they make about securing a huge payout for your claim and how great this will be for you. Honestly, it is great…. for them, that’s how they make their money. They will dramatically slow down your project as they fight & battle the adjusters by wearing them down in the hopes of securing that huge payout which ultimately benefits them as their fee is a percentage of the whole claim payout. Worse yet, they supplant you as the decision maker on the policy. You cannot even speak to the adjusters or your insurance agent about the claim after they are signed up.
Now the process begins. Your restoration contractor will liaison with your carriers’ adjusters. Yes, there are multiple adjusters working on your claim, one for the structure, another for contents. Your damage restoration contractor will get approvals on a scope of work to agree on what can be salvaged and what would need to be demolished & discarded. Any contents that cannot be salvaged will need be accounted for and viewed by the adjusters so don’t throw anything out just yet. Once the approvals are secured work will commence. Below is a step by step overview of the critical path of a fire restoration job.
Step1: Getting clearance from the fire marshal to enter dwelling.
Step 2: Board Up, safeguarding of valuables, winterizing of house (if applicable).
Step 3: Getting approval from your carriers’ cause & origin team. They are looking to see if there was a defective appliance or some other device that they can “pin the blame on” in the hopes of subrogating a claim against the manufacturer to help offset their losses.
Step 4: Getting salvageable contents out of the structure is the next step. Textiles (soft goods like clothing, blankets, curtains, throw rugs, shoes, etc) will be evaluated by specialized textile cleaning contractors. The items that can be cleaned and restored will be pulled offsite for cleaning & storage. They often turnaround your normally worn clothing rapidly so you can have some clothes to wear rather than having to buy new items. Your full-service fire damage restoration contractor will likely pull out all salvageable furniture and other contents back to their warehouse for cleaning & storage.
Step 5: Documenting, counting, and quantifying all the other unsalvageable contents is next. Often there are a HUGE amount of these items, and this can take a few weeks to accurately account for each & every item. You don’t want to rush this aspect as it will impact the amount of recoverable cost you can receive for these items. The more you miss, the less money you get. We recommend you ask your restoration contractor to bring in “your guy” to do this. If you don’t, the carrier will bring a contractor in that might not be as thorough. Once everything is counted, these contents would then get discarded.
Step 6: Demolition, dry down & smoke odor neutralization of the structure is next, which typically includes a total gut of the structure as smoke from the fire coupled with water from the fire hoses penetrates every surface and even the framing members & insulation behind the sheetrock. Your restoration contractor wants a total gut approved as they know that they are responsible to make your structure have no residual smoke odor. When sheetrock is left intact and not removed, there is a higher likelihood of having smoke odor particles imbedded into the unseen framing members and insulation behind the sheetrock. This can cause a lingering smoke smell well after the project is completed. The insurance carrier is trying to minimize their rebuild costs and they typically push to try to save as much of the interior finishes as possible. We recommend you join forces with restoration contractor and speak in one voice to get a total gut approved. You are the policy holder, you paid the premiums, they owe you the right cleanup.
Step 7: Repair estimating, which will be done by the carriers’ adjuster, which means you do not necessarily need to get contractors involved just yet. Hopefully you hired a full-service restoration contractor for the cleanup, if you did, they will likely offer you complete repairs services as well. We’d recommend you ask YOUR hired restoration contractor to do a competitive, comparative estimate to rebut the adjusters estimate. Their experience in estimating with the same database as the adjusters will help you get the best, most accurate payout of like, kind, and quality finishes that you had in your structure prior to the fire. They can also help coordinate securing any needed structural plans, Town permits, inspections as well as guiding you in your purchases of major purchase items like cabinetry, flooring, tile, etc.
Most insureds don’t have the ability to “self-fund” a repair and need the insurance monies. The quicker you can get your repair claim payout settled, the quicker you can get your repair monies and start your rebuild. Note: If you still have a mortgage on your property, the repair payout will likely list the mortgager as a payee. We recommend you find out ASAP as to what your lenders policy on releasing these funds once the check is received. The lenders policy can be time consuming and might leave you with a funding gap during the rebuild.
Step 8: Now you can start the Repairs & rebuild back to pre-loss condition. You can use any contractor you want. You can act as your own general contractor and hire your own subcontractors or do some of the work yourself. You get the repair monies & contents payout monies and can call your own shots.We recommend you hire one contractor to coordinate most, if not all of this rebuild. Your time is best spent shopping for your replacement products, which can be timely & exhausting by itself. The best restoration contractors will do the repairs for the exact payout from the carrier. There will be a temptation to try to “net out” monies by hiring cheaper contractors and to try to manage your own project. You will sorely regret that decision when your project takes forever to get done and you have cost overruns do your inexperience negating the imagined savings you had in your head.
Your contents payout, if assisted by the unsalvageable contents contractor you hired, will likely be sizable enough to get you the extra monies needed to cover your deductible cost.
We hope this blog helps you or someone you know who had a large loss fire in their home or business. For more information on damage restoration related topics, please visit our website blog at www.truerestorations.com/blogKind Regards,
you are entitled to be kept safe in a clean environment
You are entitled to be kept safe in a clean environment, that’s what insurance is Yes, we have encountered this situation many times, people choosing to sleep in a house after a small fire or major smoke condition like a puff back. Even when some clients become aware that their insurance coverage would pay for all the cleaning and the policy likely has A.L.E (alternate living expense) coverage that would reimburse them for housing costs. Even when presented with this information, they still choose to stay. Yes, you are entitled to be kept safe in a clean environment, that’s what insurance is for, we say you use it.
We explain the inhalation risks of toxic smoke particles in the air that can’t be seen and that they will be breathing in. These particles, not visible to the naked, eye will remain airborne for up to a week or more. We show them that all surfaces, textiles (soft goods like blankets, drapes & clothes) clearly smell and should all be cleaned immediately so that more toxic smoke particles don’t become airborne when these items are moved or used. In addition, wearing clothing that has toxic smoke particles absorbed into them creates a pathway for intrusion into your body through absorption by physical contact on bare skin. Smoke will penetrate the interior portions of cabinets & closets exposing their food, cups, dishes, etc. During intense smoke conditions even the interior of refrigerators will show signs of smoke intrusion.
Why stay in a toxic environment?
What really makes us scratch our heads is why would anyone expose themselves & their family (pets included) to these hazards when their insurance policy would likely cover all of the necessary cleaning & air filtering to make their home safe? Yes, it will be inconvenient and you might actually have to move out but if you have ALE, there is no cost. Plus, accessing ALE will give you two additional benefits. The first benefit is your insurance carrier will expedite the processing & paying of this claim so they can minimize the ALE costs. The second benefit in moving out is that it will give your smoke damage cleanup contractor full access to clean every square inch of your home with a large crew which should make the project go much quicker.
Use your A.L.E (alternate living expense), stay safe.
With all the above said, wouldn’t anyone & everyone want their project to go quicker? Who would knowingly expose their family to dangerous carcinogens so their insurance carrier could save money?
Should you call a plumber first for a pipe burst in your home or business? You can’t go wrong with that, agreed, but you can probably do better. What if you called a “full-service” water damage restoration contractor first? This type of contractor can not only fix the burst pipe but can also assist you with starting an insurance claim, can perform immediate cleanup on credit, can help you with damaged contents, can provide cleaning and storage of salvageable contents, can assist you in a consulting capacity to settle your repair payout & can provide full repairs services for the exact insurance payout and can also coordinate any specialty service needed, wouldn’t that be a better first call?
Fix the burst pipe
Fix the burst pipe
Assist you with starting claim
Immediate cleanup on credit
Assist with damaged contents
Provide cleaning & storage of salvageable contents
Assist you in settling your repair payout
Provide full repairs services
Coordinate any specialty service needed
Call a full service restoration contractor, the best “first call” that you could make
If your home or business is affected by water, smoke, fire or mold and you are in need of emergency assistance, a full-service restoration contractor would be the best “first call” that you could make. These contractors have vast experience in handling every need that arises from these conditions. Their insurance claims experience is invaluable from the start. They can expertly convey the site conditions & cause of the loss to the claims department when the claim is first filed. Many policyholders don’t realize that saying the wrong thing to an insurance carriers claim intake representative can cause their claim to be denied. Additionally, having a plumber come in first to do an emergency repair and not having the plumbers invoice prepared properly can end up costing the unwitting owner a bunch of money that should normally be reimbursed. An experienced restoration contractor would have a plumbers invoice prepared to show one cost for the actual pipe repair and a second invoice or line item for the cost to access the damaged pipe including cleanup costs. Invoicing like this is better because typically the demolition & cleanup needed to access the pipe is reimbursed whereas the pipe repair is not.
Save yourself time, money & aggravation when you chose a restoration contractor
Another reason to call a restoration contractor first is to enjoy a seamless, time saving advantage in having the pipe repaired and cleanup started as soon as the pipe is repaired, often times with both being done simultaneously. The full-service water damage restoration contractors’ services will also expedite all other aspects of the job through completion with net savings of time that could add up to weeks, if not months. Wouldn’t everyone want their home or business fully fixed back to the way it was quicker & with much, much less time, effort & aggravation in coordinating multiple contractors? We think so and so do all of our clients.
Ice Damming, is this worthy of an insurance claim? First, let’s understand what is occurring with an ice dam. Your typical ice dam will occur when the underside of a sloped roofs snow layer melts from the radiating heat within a structure below. That melted snow (water) will run down the roof shingles to the lowest portion of the roof, typically the uninsulated, unheated roof overhang and into a gutter or off the roof. During times of extreme cold, that water runoff will rapidly freeze at the overhang, before it exits into the gutter and forms into a growing block or dam of ice. The ice dam allows more runoff to collect and rapidly freeze into a sheet of ice that will continue to grow & expand back up the roof. The ice will grow under the roof shingles & even under the membrane below the shingles, which is typically called felt paper or tar paper on older roofs. Once the growing ice sheet grows high enough to reach the outside wall of the house, the radiating heat below will thaw the growing ice sheet and cause water to drip onto the ceiling or floor system and down & within the outside wall affecting the framing, insulation, sheetrock, windows, doors, electrical wiring, etc. This leak could be the entire length of the exterior walls, 30-50 feet or more.
Ice damming is a serious condition that can result in hazardous mold & expensive repairs
Ice damming is a serious condition that will need to be addressed ASAP, especially with the likely trapped water and moisture within exterior walls, ceiling & roof systems. The trapped moisture can and will cause hazardous, unseen, harmful mold to grow if left unaddressed. Water infiltrating electrical devices within these hidden cavities is another major concern that should be investigated and dealt with. An experienced water damage restoration contractor will seek out the trapped moisture with a host of specialized tools including, non-invasive moisture meters, thermal imaging cameras, invasive moisture probes to check for wet insulation. Once insulation gets wet, it won’t dry out naturally and will need to be physically removed. Sadly, the proper way to mitigate this condition is to strip the walls down to the studs to expose the wet framing members & exterior wall/roof sheathing. The wall, ceiling & roof cavities can be dried with air moving equipment coupled with industrial strength dehumidifiers. Exposing the hidden cavities also gives access to the potentially compromised electrical connections for inspection & replacement, if needed.
To make matters even worse, these ice dam leaks occur often in kitchens areas that have cabinet runs on the exterior walls. When this occurs, the wall cabinets, base cabinets, countertops & backsplashes typically need to be removed to access the wet walls behind them. This will make living in the dwelling during the cleanup & repairs extra challenging for inhabitants.
File a claim
Based on our field experience in dealing with these situations and the snowballing costs to not only properly mitigate & cleanup the damages but coupled with the repair costs to replace the demolished items, it really is a “no brainer” to file a claim. Stopping the ice dam causing the leak is tricky and not likely covered by your insurance policy. That work should be done before you mitigate & should be done by a competent roofer with the use of a more modern roof membrane called “rain & ice shield”. Newer roofs should already have this membrane and if installed correctly should prevent a leak from an ice dam. Stopping an ice dam from even occurring is another ball of wax that would require a more exotic intervention such as heating the roof overhang with heating elements, which is rarely done and likely very costly to install.
If you see water stains or dripping water in many locations along an exterior wall or floor / ceiling at an exterior wall, suspect an ice damn & call a water damage restoration contractor for an immediate assessment. Early intervention can help minimize the damage which will minimize the overall amount of needed demolition, disruption & cost to you.
We hope you found this information helpful. If interested in viewing more damage restoration information please visit our blog at https://truerestorations.com/blog/
The True Restorations Team
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.