A Small Kitchen Fire Left Soot Everywhere

It doesn’t take long for a fire to start, and once it does, the resulting damages can be sudden and substantial. The most common type of fire to occur in a home today, is a kitchen fire.  This type of fire usually starts when a person begins cooking, often with oil in a heated pan.  The cook gets distracted, perhaps by a phone call, and might even leave the room, with the pan of food still cooking in the oil on the stove. The oil overheats and catches fire, and the flames rise to the point of setting fire to the upper cabinets.  The fire continues until someone, either the property owner, or the fire department puts the fire out.  Sometimes, in a condominium or apartment with a sprinkler system, the sprinklers are set off, and a whole new level of damage occurs, as the water puts out the fire, but the damage from the water compounds the situation.

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In a matter of a few minutes there can be damage to the kitchen cabinets, paint, flooring, stove, and there can be smoke and soot throughout the residence, with the lingering smoke being absorbed by all of the porous personal contents onsite, including the clothing and furniture.

The site of this situation would be upsetting and alarming for most people.  It would be particularly upsetting if the owner did not have their property insured.

There is a remedy for this situation, and it begins with immediate action, starting with an emergency service call.  This call should be to a professional restoration company, that would perform an initial evaluation of the property, and discuss with the owner the necessary action that would be required to mitigate further damage to the building and its contents. Some companies perform emergency services and smoke cleanup only, while a full service General Contractor, that specializes in water and fire losses, has the licensing and ability to handle a fire loss, like the one described above, from beginning to end.

When looking at a fire to determine the extent of the damage, one would look at the area where the fire began, and determine if the fire was contained to the area of the dwelling below the ceiling. If there were no penetrations in the ceiling drywall, there is a good chance that the ceilings will not have to be removed.  If there is an area where the ceiling has been penetrated by the fire, the attic space will have to be addressed.  This means that the ceiling insulation will probably require replacement, and the attic space treated for odor control.  If the fire burned through the roofing plywood or trusses, there will be substantial repairs to be made to the structural part of the roof, as well a replacing the roofing material itself, whether it be shingles, tile or metal. Heat that is transmitted to the roofing materials can compromise those materials, even if there is not an actual hole in the roof.

Let’s look at the scenario where the fire did not penetrate into the attic space, but there is soot throughout the house. In this case, the dwelling will probably have to be cleaned from top to bottom, and throughout the home.  Contents will need to be addressed, as they can seriously impacted by smoke and soot.  Quick action is the best way to mitigate any further damage. If water used to put the fire out, proper drying should be done to prevent or minimize any mold growth issues or further water damage.  Proper pre-cleaning of metal surfaces can prevent damage to metals, and the proper cleaning and ozone treatment of content items can eliminate smoke odors in porous furnishings and clothing.  Clothing and linens might need to be professionally cleaned by a textile restoration company specializing in smoke damaged fabrics.

In many cases, the dwelling will have to be sealed and painted after cleaning.  Flooring will require the evaluation by an experienced restorer, and may need simple cleaning, or complete replacement.

Small, sooty kitchen fires are traumatic to most homeowners, but an experienced restorer can allay the concerns of the owner, and bring the property back to the pre loss condition in a reasonable amount of time, as well as prepare the documentation required by an insurance carrier.

Restoration Xperts offers its “fire cleanup and boardup services”  to property owners in Broward and Palm Beach counties in Florida. For quick help in emergencies  24/7 its crews are available to respond to fire or water damage. Its professional team can guide property owners through the process, and handle restoration projects from start to finish. Restoration Xperts maintains all of the required licensing and certifications required for structural drying, mold remediation and reconstruction.

Posted in Fire Damage

What is the 14 day rule regarding water losses?

In recent times, insurers have been writing into their policies, language that would cause a claim denial, if a water leak has gone on for more than 14 days. This denial is said to include leaks that are obvious or hidden.

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While obviously long term damage claims have always been denied, the question now arises, of how long a leak has been going on, and not just, when was it discovered. More carriers are using this language to deny claims, and to us, as a restoration company, it seems that claims that are legitimate are being denied, because someone determines that the leak has been going on for more than 14 days.

Although RestorationXperts, a General Contracting Company, and a Restoration Company, cannot legally make coverage determinations, we can certainly discuss the physical damages to a property, drawing upon our many years of experience. In my personal experience, I have claims denied due to the 14 day rule, where it appears clear to me, that whatever damage occurred during the first 14 days of water leaking, is pretty much the same damage that occurred after perhaps 21 days, or 30 days.

Drywall replacement is recommended after 72 hours of water exposure, for example, so whether a leak went on for 14 or 30 days has no impact upon the requirement to replace drywall. If cabinets that are constructed of particle board are wet for three days, they are typically non-restorable. If they are wet for 15 days, they are also non-restorable.

If the spirit of the policy language is to have the ability to deny a claim that appears to be due to long term water exposure, then we, as restorers, can certainly agree, that if a property lets a condition go on for an extended period of time, their claim will be denied. If a family, however, goes on a two week vacation, and they spend a couple more days traveling, a water loss could be denied with the 14 day rule applying. Is this the intent of the policy language?

We, as restorers see many claims being denied, that would have not been denied five years ago. While we understand the stand of the insurer, we can certainly understand the position of the property owner, that feels unfairly treated by a denial under these terms. There are other factors that might complicate the matter, such as determining if a loss will be covered, if for example, a tropical storm caused water intrusion for a day or so, and then the weather changed, and the intrusion ended. The damage, however, continued to increase, as the water in the walls created a mold condition that was not discovered for more than a month afterward. The leak itself happened only for a short period of time, but the damaged continued to grow.

Posted in Water Damage

Hurricane Damage in South Florida

During the Hurricane season in Florida, there is cause for great concern for storm damage from a hurricane. This is a real threat for those that live in areas where hurricanes are most likely, however, it is far more likely that a property might be affected by a substantial tropical storm, that is, not necessarily a hurricane.

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A hurricane by definition requires maximum sustained winds of 74 mph. If a tropical storm has maximum sustained winds of 65 mph, by comparison, guaranteed there will be a lot of damage, but it will not necessarily be from the wind itself.

Heavy winds and rain can cause a great deal of damage to a property, without the roof being blown away. Wind driven rain penetration can cause substantial water damage to the interior of a building even if the roof is intact. Substantial water can enter a building through small cracks in stucco, around windows or any penetrations of the building envelope. Unsealed bolt penetrations that were used for the mounting of hurricane shutters are notorious for allowing water infiltration into a building, though no apparent penetrations are seen to the untrained eye.

If you were to find that the interior of your home or office has had water penetration, the best advice is to determine the cause of the water intrusion, perform the required maintenance to prevent further intrusion, and have your property properly dried by a professional drying company.

Restoration Xperts, offers its services to property owners in Broward and Palm Beach counties in Florida. For quick help with your emergency 24/7 its crews are available to respond to water damage, weather it just happened, or even if it has occurred sometime in the recent past. Regardless of the water source, proper drying is performed to prevent, or minimize the growth of mold.

Water in a building can be a disasterous event, but the event can become substantially worse if it is not addressed property, for additional damage in the form of mold, may not become evident for days after the incident, without a proper drydown.

Although less dramatic than a fire, a water event in a home or office can produce major damage, and the remedy might well be more cleanup and repairs than you had ever expected. Aggressive and timely action is always best.

Posted in Wind Damage

Mold Contamination and Removal in South Florida

Mold in the home and workplace has become a hot topic for property owners everywhere, especially in Florida, where heat and humidity can encourage rapid growth of mold contamination. For mold to grow, three components are required: food, water, and time. If a property is properly kept cool and dry, the likelihood of mold growth is minimal.

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Mold spores, seeds, are everywhere. The risk to humans occurs when the quality of the air in our indoor environment experiences a seriously elevated quantity of mold spores, to which some people may experience varying degrees of irritation and health effects. Different species of mold have a varied effect in humans, so if samples for analysis are taken from your home, the quantity and type of mold present in your home or office can be determined.

Mold contamination in a building is typically linked to a water loss, where building materials, in particular, those containing cellulose, are wet for an extended period of time, allowing for mold colony formation. These colonies will grow where moisture is trapped, such as, behind baseboards, under and behind cabinets, under wallpaper, beneath flooring, inside walls etc. If water is trapped in these areas, mold will probably begin to grow within 72 hours, and often sooner. The best preventative action for mold growth is proper drying of a structure after a water event.

Such an event could be related to a malfunctioning toilet, a leaking hot water heater, a broken hose on a washing machine, a leaking dishwasher, a leaking roof, or a broken pipe. Mold can also grow in an indoor environment where the relativity humidity exceeds 65%, and the dwelling heats up, creating a great environment for mold to flourish. In such cases, mold can grow on practically anything, feasting on any digestible material. It is not unusual to find mold eating a property owner’s shoes hats clothing and draperies. In such cases many items are typically deemed unsalvageable.

Restoration Xperts, is a General Contracting company that specializes in mold remediation, and is fully certified for this type of work. It offers its services to property owners in Broward and Palm Beach counties in Florida. For quick help with a water related emergency 24/7 its crews are available to respond. Proper structural drying minimizes the risk of mold growth, so quick and complete drying activity is always recommended.

All mold removal projects beyond minimums, should be accompanied by the evaluation of a “Certified Mold Assessor”, and Restoration Xperts works routinely with professional assessors to document a proper remediation has been achieved. A “Clearance Report” is provided by this third party at the end of a remediation project. By using a “third party” for performing assessments, a property owner can rest assured that there is never a conflict of interest

Most mold remediation projects that are the result of a covered loss, are also covered by most insurance carriers. Restoration Xperts has handled more than seven hundred remediation projects in the past 12 years, and has successfully dealt with most insurance carriers with relation to water damage and mold claims.

Posted in Mold Removal, Water Damage

How to deal with Serious Water Damage to your Home

Although many homeowners have remodeled a room in their home, perhaps a kitchen, bath, or another room, few have had the experience of dealing with a serious water damage incident, that may affect their entire home. How do they deal with an entire home, where multiple rooms have been damaged by water. How do you prevent mold from growing in the home?

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It usually happens without any kind of notice, and is “sudden and accidental”. What do you do when you wake up in the morning, step on the floor, only to find that you have an inch of water in your bedroom, and that the water flooded several other rooms in your home as well? To most people that have never experienced such an incident, the first reaction might be panic or overwhelm. What do I do?

The logical first step would be to be sure that any other people in the home be made aware of the incident immediately. The next step would be to stop the water leak. The source of the water could be a malfunctioning toilet, a broken hose on a washing machine, a leaking hot water heater, a leaking dishwasher, or broken pipe. Regardless of the source of the water, shutting off the main supply valve is the best way to be sure that the leaking has stopped, but then the challenge of dealing with the water begins.

Water damage to property can be minimized by immediate action. Sometimes this action can begin by simply opening an exterior door to let the water flow out of the home. Using a broom might the most expeditious way to remove a large volume of standing water, but in most cases professional attention is the best alternative.

Restoration Xperts, offers its services to property owners in Broward and Palm Beach counties in Florida. For quick help with your emergency 24/7 its crews are available to respond to water damage, weather it just happened, or even if it has occurred sometime in the recent past.

Proper drying requires the removal of the excess water, moving contents to allow for extraction and equipment placement, and then removal of building components that might prevent proper structural drying. Baseboards, carpet, wood or laminate flooring, wallpaper, cabinetry, all might require removal, so that a proper “dry down” can be performed, and though the drying activity might seem extreme in some cases, the owner needs to understand that the prevention of a mold infestation is the challenge.

Mold contamination leads to mold remediation, and the best way to avoid both, is the quick response of a professional drying company.

Since most water damage incidents are covered losses by insurance companies, your insurance company will encourage your hiring a mitigation company to perform drying services. Proper drying can greatly reduce further damage to your home, office, or personal property. Mitigation of your water loss is the first priority.

Posted in Mold Removal, Water Damage
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