- What should I do after finding a water leak? Water leaks both big and small can cause a great deal of damage if not addressed immediately. Here are some step you can take to help reduce damages to your home or business:
- Turn the source of water off or the main water shut off which will be located near your water meter or basement area.
- Use towels to absorb as much water as you can and try to contain the water from spreading.
- If water damage is extensive and you feel comfortable, turn off you homes power. REMEMBER, never enter a flooded room if electrical devices or outlets are wet.
- Contact First Response to have our trained and experienced technicians assist you with the drying and reduce any additional damages. We are available 24-7-365!
- What are the most common causes of water damage? There are numerous causes of water damage ranging from rain water flooding to a leaky pipe. If you do encounter water damage it is vital for you to address it immediately. This is why it is important to call a professional to assess the situation before it gets worse.
- When finding water damage should I call my insurance first? No. In fact, insurance companies prefer you contact a restoration company first so they can begin to mitigate the damages as soon as possible. The faster the crew are able to arrive, the more destruction can be prevented, which in turn decreases cost for both you and your insurance. You still want to call you insurance, but you want to get the problem resolved first.
- What does the water restoration process look like? When a water technician arrives at your home, the first step will be to stop the source of the water. Your technician will then inspect the damage and begin the mitigation. This can include extracting the water, setting drying equipment, set dehumidification and any demolition necessary to help enhance the drying process.
- My walls feel dry but my technician says they are still wet. Why is that? Many times after a day of drying, walls may feel dry to the touch of hand. When a professional is able to test your drywall and flooring, they can use scientific tools that can penetrate beyond the exterior and get a reading on the moisture inside and behind the wall. Without these meters and testing, you may think the wall is dry and thus remove the drying equipment. That will then vastly increase the likelihood of mold to form.
- What are the different categories of water? Water intrusion comes in three different categories:
- Clean Water This type of water poses no harm to people. The would be a sink, laundry, bathtub or dishwasher malfunction.
- Gray Water This type of water can cause harm if exposed to. This would include water that has a significant amount of contamination.
- Black Water This type of water can cause severe illness to people. This is extremely unsanitary and known contaminants. This would include sewage water and ground surface water that may have entered the structure.
- How long will it take for my property to dry? Every home varies in building materials and their ability to hold moisture. Drywall for example dries much quicker than plaster. Our goal is to dry your property as quickly as possible while making sure we are as effective as possible. Speaking with your technician on site will give you a much better idea in for your specific situation.
- Why will you not give me a water extraction estimate? Due to the unknown nature of dry time, size of area affected and materials affected, it is very difficult to give an accurate estimate of water mitigation. Many times we can give a general ballpark figure but an exact line item estimate, as you would expect with a structural repair scope, is not required or realistic for water mitigation prior to the structural drying taking place.
- Will my insurance company cover damage restoration costs? A home or business owner’s insurance policy may or may not cover the water damage. Every policy is different but many are based on how the water affected the home.
Negligence on behalf of the insured will most likely result in the claim being denied by insurance. Sudden mishaps, such as a leaky dishwasher are usually covered by insurance. Flooding is rarely covered by insurance and in most cases is an entirely separate policy.
- What is mold remediation? Mold remediation is the process of removing or remediating mold from an indoor environment, such as a home or business. If a home or business has serious mold damage, it is best to hire an experienced and trained professional in order to ensure the mold is removed properly.
- What makes mold grow? Mold enters your home as tiny spores. The spores need nutrients, oxygen, and favorable temperatures in order to properly grow and flourish. Mold can grow on almost any surface and is most commonly found in higher humidity areas.
- How long does the mold removal process take? This varies based on the area affected and the amount of mold present. Most mold removal projects can take anywhere between 1-5 days. Once the mold remediation portion is complete, you will meet with an estimator to go over any structural repairs that may be needed.
- How do I know when the mold removal is complete? There are two ways to determine whether or not the mold removal is complete:
VISUAL: You may see that what was once visible mold is not longer present. This is a very limited test as mold spores are small and can hide from the naked eye. This is not a recommended way to ensure mold removal is complete.
THIRD PARTY TESTING: This is the best way to determine the completion of a project and the way preferred by First Response.
- Do I need to hire a professional or can I remediate the mold myself? Legally speaking, you can remove the mold yourself. The biggest area of concern is that proper safety measures are in place to prohibit mold spores from spreading to unaffected areas. Improper removal can result in mold affecting previously unaffected areas of the home, rather than one small room where it is currently present.
The only way to properly remove mold is to build a pressurized containment using negative air and wearing proper personal protective equipment. You should also follow the IICRC S-520 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mold Removal and hire a licensed environmental hygienist to perform the necessary pre and post testing.
- Should I hire the same company doing the mold remediation to also perform the mold test? NO! We cannot state this any clearer as this is a complete conflict of interest. It might be more cost effective but in no way should that be the route you choose to go. Hiring an independent third party helps reduce liability for both you and the contractor. If you are still uncertain, look at this real-life scenario:
Imagine you are constructing a home and decide to have the same general contractor perform the inspection once the project is deemed complete. The general contractor then hands you a “certificate” saying they looked everything over and the house is sound structurally. Sounds great, right? The problem is, how often do you think that general contractor would come up to you and say, “Sorry, it looks like we forgot to install a crucial support beam and right now your home is no longer safe for you to be in. We need to do some additional work in order to address this error on our part.” This is not likely to occur and having an independent third party test the mold remediation process allows everyone to have peace of mind that the project was completed correctly.
- Can mold cause serious health problems? Yes. Prolonged exposure and significant exposure can cause a variety of different symptoms based on an individuals tolerance level. Young children and elderly are most likely to feel affects of mold earlier than others due to potentially having a compromised immune system. Mold exposure can look like a common cold or flu and most family doctors would treat as such. It is important to let your doctor know if you feel your symptoms are associated to mold exposure rather than a common cold.
- Is mold damage covered by my insurance? This is something that varies based on the insurance company and on the cause of the mold. Mold takes time to develop and so most insurance companies are of the opinion that if you are properly maintaining your home or business, you should be able to spot any mold issues early in the process so they never become a large issue. If it is a “freak accident” that caused the mold, many insurance companies will cover your loss. If it is due to an ongoing issue that they feel was not resolved in a timely manner, most cases those claims are denied.
If you do have any general coverage questions, feel free to call our office and we can let you know the likelihood of a covered claim based on our previous experience. We always recommend calling your insurance agent to get an official claim decision prior to any work beginning. This allows everyone to be on the same page early in the process.
- How do I know if I have storm damage? There are many answers to this questions. It can appear very obvious when some damage occurs and other times it can be less noticeable. If you had a sever storm in your area and noticed visible damage to your neighbors home, there is a good chance that your home may have experienced damage as well.
- How long do I have to file a claim? In most cases you have one year from the date of the storm. However, all policies are different so it’s best to set an appointment for inspection of damages as soon as they are noticed.
- My insurance company stated I need 3 estimates, is this true? No., You as the homeowner can choose the contractor you desire to do the repairs. First Response will work with you and your insurance company to determine the price and scope of repairs.
- How do I choose a contractor? The best way to choose a contractor is based upon word of mouth and previous customer reviews. Research companies in your area that are well-trained, qualified and have a positive track record. A contractor that is familiar with insurance claims is also an added benefit!
- What does the restoration process involve? There are different stages depending on the type of loss you experienced. The beginning stage would be to help reduce the chance of any secondary damages. This could include tarping the roof, boarding up any open cavities or extracting any excess moisture and perform any structural drying necessary.
The next stage would be working with your insurance company to reach an agreed upon scope of work and cost. Once approved, the final stage is that the repairs will be scheduled and timelines will be given based on the severity of your loss.
- What if my insurance company will not agree to pay for all the repair work? At First Response, we work for you, not the insurance company. We can help you appeal to the insurance company’s decision through various options to help you reach a deserved scope of work.
- The fire department put out the fire but now we have a lot of water in the house. What should we do? Water damage resulting from a fire is very common and in many cases, can cause more damage than the fire itself. Our expertise in water mitigation and structural drying will allow us to take the necessary steps to reduce the possibility of secondary damages.
- If the fire was relatively small and only affected a small area, do we really need to use a professional restoration company? While it is very easy to identify the visual affects of a fire, it is very difficult to identify that which can not be seen. Thus, smoke that traveled throughout the home and snuck into wall cavities, inside electrical outlets, and absorbed into flooring will not be identifiable to the untrained eye. Studies show that within seconds smoke and soot can cover your walls, ceilings, cabinets, light fixtures and windows. Within minutes, heavy layers of smoke and soot can cover and compromise outlets, appliances, wall cavities and electronic devices. In fact, many times this is the vast majority of the restoration clean up.
Even smaller fires can cause major damage to your home and belongings that will leave unwanted odors if not treated properly. This is where First Response has both the experience and knowledge that a general contractor normally do not possess. That is why many times after a home owner uses a general contractor, the smoke smell is still present in different areas of the home that “appear” unaffected.
- I just had a fire and all my belongings are affected. What do I do now? For many homeowners or renters, this would be covered under a different policy of your insurance. First Response has the trained and experienced contents cleaning personnel that can identify items that are able to be restored to their “pre-loss” condition and items that are no longer salvageable.
We will create a detailed inventory of every affected item in your home and provide this to you and the insurance adjuster along with pictures and documentation for cleaning and reimbursement. When possible, First Response will clean items on-site, but in some cases it is more cost effective and necessary to securely transport those items to our state of the art cleaning facility for cleaning, restoration and storage until the project is complete.
- Do I need to use the company my insurance company recommends? Many insurance providers will recommend contractors and cleaning vendors but you are not obliged to use their services. You are allowed and encouraged to do your own research to find a reputable company with experience, personnel, and customer reviews that fit what you are looking for in a contractor. There’s no better referral than hearing and seeing what other customers have experienced with the same company.
- Can my family stay in the home during restoration? This varies from loss to loss. First Response and your assigned adjuster will assess the loss and your adjuster will then make the final determination based upon the scope of work and your policy. If your policy allows, most insurance companies can provide a source of temporary housing whether that be a hotel or a more long term solution. This is a great question to ask your adjuster.
- How do I know my project will be completed correctly? At First Response we have our own employees which allows us to perform the majority of the work in-house but we also are partnered with the best licensed and insured local contractors. We work with each of them regularly and do a thorough investigation prior to partnering with our vendors. These vendors share the same ethical and moral compass as First Response and stand by their work. They are professional and prompt and show great attention to detail. They understand how the insurance industry operates and know the expectations placed on them from both First Response and you, our customer.
- How long will it take to complete the restoration process? This is obviously dependent upon the size and scope of your project. The most difficult part of the project is the beginning phases. Quite often after a fire, the scene in on lockdown by local authorities as they do their investigation as to the cause and origin of the fire. Your insurance company might also send out a member of their internal team for this purpose. Do not be alarmed as this is a normal procedure. Many times this is to help determine whether or not subrogation is necessary.
Once the scene is released, First Response and your assigned adjuster will create a scope for the repairs. First Response will submit their scope to the adjuster for review in order to get approval to begin the work with an agreed upon price. This allows everyone to know exactly what is covered and what insurance is paying. Once we get approval from the adjuster, we will go over our scope with you and provide you with target dates for each major step of the restoration process.
- How much is this going to cost? Most homeowner’s insurance policies cover fire and smoke damage so in most cases your insurance company will be covering the restoration minus your pre-determined deductible amount. Your policy may even cover personal items lost in the fire, as well as the cost of temporary housing during repairs (when applicable).
First Response Disaster Restoration Specialists is a family owned company with an expert team that has the experience needed to provide South Bend with quality restoration services. Whether your property is residential, commercial or industrial, we’d love to show you why we are one of the area’s leading choices for restoring places back to suitable conditions. Contact us today for services in South Bend, and you'll receive professional assistance for all your restoration needs.