What you need to know after a disaster stricks
Surviving a natural disaster that strikes your home or business is only the beginning; recovering from the event inevitably brings new challenges. While property owners carry insurance to protect their investments and facilitate recovery, failure to understand the finer points of these policies can set the stage for frustration and hardship.
Disasters are emotionally devastating, and they often pack a bruising financial punch as well. They are also on the rise. Tornadoes and thunderstorms were the costliest types of disaster, racking up insured losses of more than $25 billion, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Insurance companies also paid out another $5.5 billion for insured losses caused by hurricanes. Other forms of a disaster like floods, earthquakes, fires, and landslides also contributed to the rising cost of a disaster.
With both the number of disasters and their costs increasing, insurance companies are taking steps to ensure that they have the dollars needed to pay for insured losses by limiting the amount paid out for reconstruction, offering smaller reimbursements for common types of damage and requiring higher deductibles. Why do property owners accept these less generous policies? For many, the choice is driven by a desire or need for lower, more affordable insurance premiums.
While property owners should always be aware of what their insurance does and does not cover, there is one type of disaster that demands special attention: flooding. The most common form of disaster, floods can be triggered by hurricanes, storms, landslides, earthquakes, and other catastrophes, and the damage they cause is typically not covered by standard homeowner insurance policies. Unfortunately, many property owners do not realize that fact until it is too late. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, a third of U.S. heads of household mistakenly believe that flood damage is covered by a standard homeowner policy; it is a costly misunderstanding that can leave property owners without the financial means to recover after a disaster.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency says that flood claims averaged over $2.9 billion a year. Unsurprisingly, residents living in high-risk areas made the majority of the claims; after all, statistics show that a home in these locations has a 1 in 4 chance of flooding during a 30-year period. However, individuals living in other places can still suffer damages. One-fifth of flood claims are made by people living in lower-risk areas.
A mere 20 percent of the homes in the United States that are at risk for flooding are covered by flood insurance. Why do so few people have coverage for flooding? Part of the problem is that most private insurers will not offer flood insurance because they simply cannot make the economics work thanks to a concept known as adverse selection. What is adverse selection? Simply put, it means that the people at greatest risk are most likely to buy insurance. Normally, insurers offer coverage to a large number of customers, charging each a small fee. Not everyone will suffer damage, and the amount the insurers collect allows them to pay for the claims filed by those who do while still making a reasonable profit. However, in a perfect example of adverse selection, the people who tend to purchase flood insurance are also the ones who live near large bodies of water and have the greatest risk of suffering water damage. Individuals who view flooding as unlikely are generally uninterested in buying flood insurance. As a result, the pool of people willing to pay for flood insurance is not large enough to generate sufficient funds to meet the demand created by people making flood claims.
If private insurers do not offer flood insurance, what can property owners concerned about flooding do? Policies are available that are backed by the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program. Here, participating communities agree to meet FEMA's guidelines for reducing flood risk. In return, they receive the promise of federal help if a flooding event occurs. Both property owners and renters who live in a participating area can buy flood insurance. Costs vary widely. The price tag for this type of policy is determined by the deductible selected, the amount of coverage purchased, the condition of the property and its location.
How would you recover if your home or business was damaged by water? Ensuring your home or business is one of the best ways to protect your property and increase the chances that you will have the assets you need to recover from a disastrous flood. Be sure that you understand your policy, and do not wait until a storm is imminent to buy flood insurance. In most cases, there is a 30-day period between when the policy is purchased and when it goes into effect.
If flooding or some other type of disaster does damage your residential or commercial property, SERVPRO of San Mateo can help. We are capable of responding rapidly to catastrophes of all shapes and sizes. As trusted leaders in the restoration industry, we understand that delay can result in additional damage. That is why we are available 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Our highly skilled technicians are trained in water damage restoration and structural drying, and they have the professional equipment needed to get the job done properly. If you need assistance recovering from a disaster or would like to learn more about our services, contact SERVPRO of San Mateo today. 650-931-6060
Don't let water damage affect your business
In the Bay Area, floods can happen from external sources, requiring that floodwater residue be removed and sanitation ensue after, or clean water can also be the source of water woes. When SERVPRO of San Mateo technicians mitigate water disasters, we make sure that the moisture level is reduced and that sanitary conditions are also restored. To complete this, we remove standing water and work toward smaller levels of moisture-elimination as quickly as possible.
We would like to start at the humidity level, but this is impossible because moisture travels from wet areas to dry areas. Because equilibrium can never be achieved when there is a source of moisture, we must eliminate from largest to smallest – from standing water to puddles, then on to wet areas, and eventually from dampness to higher humidity.
Our sanitizing procedure includes cleaning every contaminated surface as well as the air. The air must be cleaned, so that not only is breathing pleasant but also safe. Contaminants produce appalling odors for a reason - they are not safe to breathe in, especially on a regular or continuous basis. This is true for shops even when the water that created the disaster is from a pipe or other heavy water leak.
We may have IICRC certifications in Applied Structural Drying (ASD) and Water Damage Restoration (WRT), but we are also experienced in the disasters that can affect any business, and we can help you solve the problems that come with these disasters. With the help of our highly trained technicians, SERVPRO of San Mateo helps restore your property to its preloss conditions.
When your commercial property has experienced water damage that threatens to wash your business away, call us, SERVPRO of San Mateo, at (650) 931-6060. Emergencies and disasters have no off-hours, so we never close, making us always available 24 hours, even on holidays.
Lately, we have been dealing with nonstop storm rains and unfortunately, a lot of homes and businesses have been affected in all types of ways. The storm has affected from flooding to trees being knocked over. Most people may think it is not important to have there home be dried after water damage but it is the best way to avoid any secondary damages such as having the water continue to travel or have water sit inside the walls until it turns into mold.
When dealing with water damage whether it be in your home or business we make sure to make the process as easy as possible. We do this by following the specified steps.
Step 1: Emergency Contact
Step 2: Inspection and Damage Assessment
Step 3: Water Removal/Water Extraction
Step 4: Drying and Dehumidification
Step 5: Cleaning and Repair
Step 6: Restoration
The weather is unpredictable but you can always count on SERVPRO of San Mateo to be there to help. You can rest assured knowing we are here to help minimize the interruption to your life and quickly make it "Like it never even happened". We do this by having crews be available 24/7 including all holidays. Don't let the water stop you from spending time with your loved ones. Call SERVPRO of San Mateo at (650)931-6060 or you can even send an email with pictures at office@SERVPROsanmateo.com
Break down of Large Loss
Emergency management officials often say that the best time to prepare for a disaster is before any threat is on the horizon. Being proactive by creating and testing a disaster plan for your business allows you to have everything needed in place, increasing the odds that your company will survive the storm and be able to get back to business quickly after a catastrophe. There are several things you need to do when crafting a disaster recovery plan.
The SERVPRO of San Mateo Commercial Large Loss Division is composed of our best of the best in restoration. Our elite large-loss specialists are prequalified and strategically positioned throughout the United States to handle any size disaster.
Every large loss is supervised by a commercial operations manager to help ensure seamless communication and timely mitigation.
At SERVPRO of San Mateo, the difference is our ability to dispatch trained production professionals and cut costs through the strategic placement and oversight of temporary labor. Get the professionals, call SERVPRO of San Mateo.
Some disasters are universal; for example, fire is always a threat. The risk of other disasters, like hurricanes or earthquakes, varies depending on your location. First, determine what types of disasters are most likely to impact your business. Then, identify how various disasters would affect your operations and plan accordingly. Emergency management agencies in your area are a good resource.
Review your insurance and make certain that you understand exactly what it covers. Does it provide sufficient compensation for physical losses? Will you be able to restore crucial materials and equipment? Is flood damage covered? What about business interruption?
Certain business functions are absolute necessities. Who and what will you need to keep things functioning in the wake of a disaster? Work up a list of responsibilities and assign them to your employees so that everyone is prepared to respond effectively.
Communications often break down in a crisis, so it is important that you have a plan in place. Draft a list of emergency contacts and store them in multiple locations. Know who will provide notifications and how they will do so.
Make it standard procedure to back up all critical data regularly. Backups should be stored in an off-site location. Copies of insurance policies, legal papers, and other important records should also be stowed safely.
Prepare to protect your technology by developing a recovery plan for your information technology. Make certain that it includes a way to regain Internet access, resource requirements, data restoration plans, and procedures for the recovery of computers, wireless devices, networks, servers, apps, and your data.
What happens if a disaster renders your location unusable? What arrangement would allow you to keep operating? Is telecommuting a possibility? Would you rent facilities or temporarily share space with other businesses?
What suppliers and other businesses are vital to your operations? Identify alternative vendors so that you will know where to turn if a regular one is unable to deliver due to an emergency. Also, identify a restoration company that can help you get your company’s premises back to normal.
Every emergency is unique, and following the directives of the emergency management authorities in your area is essential for the safety of you and your employees. When it’s time to begin the recovery process, count on SERVPRO of San Mateo. We can respond quickly with highly trained restoration technicians who employ specialized techniques and equipment to restore your business or home to pre-disaster conditions.
Since 2016 SERVPRO of San Mateo, has been helping the community of San Mateo and all neighboring cities. We have been assisting in all types of situations from water to fire even mold. When running into any of these situations you can always count on SERVPRO of San Mateo to respond immediately. We provide emergency cleaning and restoration services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week—including all holidays.
Here at SERVPRO of San Mateo, we make sure all of our employees have the proper training to better inform you on the process of your situation. Not only are our technicians trained but also our office representatives that way you know you are always getting the correct information. Now you may be wondering what type of training. Our Professionals study IICRC standards and best practices in water restoration, fire restoration, mold remediation, carpet and upholstery cleaning, and other cleaning and restoration courses. The way our employees are granted this is by taking an in-person class to get their certifications.
When called on to assist in your property's situation our office representatives are gathering information to make sure all proper circumstances are taken to better assist the situation. When our technicians arrive on-site they are documenting, labeling and taking pictures of the entire process so all involved parties are updated on a daily bases.
SERVPRO of San Mateo understands how stressful any damages can be that is why we work with all types of insurance companies to help get your property restored to preloss conditions. We work with you in all situations, whether insurance is involved or not.
Northern California Fires
This past week PG&E announced its public safety shutoff to help prevent wildfires. At this time it is highly recommended we are all prepared by having enough to last the whole shutoff. Making sure safety measures have been discussed and emergency bags are prepared. With the power being shut off does not grantee fires will no longer happen. Therefore we must always be prepared. When you have fire damage to your home or business SERVPRO of San Mateo is ready to help. San Bruno mountains near South San Francisco have recently suffered from a fire that rapidly spread around 4-5 acres. Each fire damage situation is a little different. When various materials burn, the soot and residue they create differ greatly and require a specific cleaning procedure. If your home or business suffers from fire and smoke damage call SERVPRO of San Mateo. After you have contacted our offices we understand you might want to know what are the next steps. Making sure you are 100% safe is the most important. Avoid going into the building especially if the ceiling or walls are falling apart. If you have been hurt by the damage we highly recommend contacting the medicals as soon as possible. Since the air can be extremely smokey we recommend wearing a mask to avoid inhaling any smoke particles. The fire restoration process begins when you call us. Our SERVPRO of San Mateo representative will guide you through the crisis and may ask several questions to help us better understand the equipment and resources. Something very important when dealing with fire damage is there is always damage to the structure of the building and then there is damage to the contents, being any belongings. In a fire damage inspection, our highly trained technicians will be meeting you onsite to asses the damage. This helps frame the entire restoration plan to how many days it will take to how much equipment is needed as well as people. In this step you can expect to have a walkthrough with our technician, they will be labeling, taking pictures and doing a scetch of the affected areas. At this time paperwork will also need to be signed. Everything will be reported back in scope and recommendations to you and or your insurance company. Once all has been approved and work is ready to be scheduled. Always keep in mind not all jobs are the same, especially with fires. If immediate Board-Up is needed they will start with this. Then proceed with tear-outs and pack out. Some may require processing for belongings to be cleaned to make sure all smoke and soot has been removed properly. Some damages may have secondary damages like water damage. Whether you have the fire, water or both types of damages SERVPRO of San Mateo is always ready to help. The way we do this is by having our emergency crew ready as soon as you call.SERVPRO of San Mateo provides emergency cleanup and Restoration services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week—including all holidays.
Top Causes of Water Damage
And What to do About Them
Water damage is the second-most often filed claim among home and business owners in America — and it can also be one of the most damaging incidents. That's largely because water damage itself doesn't just have the potential to ruin building materials and personal goods, thereby requiring extensive rebuilding to affected areas, but if impacted areas aren't restored correctly and to industry standards, subsequent mold growth can wreak further havoc on a property.
The good news is that it's estimated that the majority of water damage incidents can be prevented, and at SERVPRO of San Mateo, in addition to being there to bring the damaged property back to preloss condition, we're all about empowering home and business owners with the information to prevent such disasters. On this note, we've broken down the top causes of water damage and what you can do to help prevent them.
Top Causes of Water Damage
- Plumbing issues: Plumbing issues are among the leading causes of water damage in homes and businesses. The bad news is that such issues are often difficult to detect, as much of a home or facility's plumbing is located inside of wall cavities and only noticeable when the issue has escalated to a point of seriousness. Other plumbing issues are easier to detect, like leaking faucets or leaks underneath a sink. What's more is that any type of plumbing leak doesn't just have the potential to lead to water damage, but also to increase your water bill. The best way to prevent water damage from plumbing issues is to take note of any common signs. Look for water stains on ceilings, sagging drywall or mold spots. Periodically check under sinks for any signs of water. If the signs are there, take the necessary measures to resolve them before the situation becomes too dire.
- Busted pipes: We tend not to experience too many freezing temperatures in California's Bay Area, but every now and then a cold spell can sneak upon us. When it does, the chances of freezing pipes becomes much greater. What's more is that if frozen pipes aren't resolved, they can expand and break, flooding home or business with water. Frozen pipes are fairly easy to prevent in cold temperatures. You can purchase insulating sleeves, drip water from faucets or move portable heaters into areas of concern to prevent freezing.
- Natural disasters: Water damage from natural disasters is much more difficult to prevent, as Mother Nature can't easily be predicted and flash flooding from heavy rainfall isn't easy to manage. There are a few things you can do to minimize the chances of water intrusion during heavy rainfall. One, make sure your home is graded away from the foundation. You can also make sure that your gutters are clean, so water can drain properly, and that doors and windows are properly sealed. Like we said, no matter how much you prepare for inclement weather, however, water may still find its way into your basement, crawl space or lower level of your home. If it does, SERVPRO of San Mateo is there to help.
- Equipment failure: The final leading cause of water damage that we'll cover here is an equipment malfunction. Some of the leading malfunctions that lead to water damage include a faulty washing machine hose or a failing hot water tank. The best way to prevent these issues from happening is to make maintenance of such appliances as a part of your annual checklist. Washing machine hoses tend to loosen after about a decade of use, and hot water tanks tend to rust out at the bottom over time if sediment isn't routinely flushed. Just pay a bit more attention to these appliances to prevent issues with them.
No matter how much effort you put into preventing home water damage, know that it still may occur — from one source or the other. And when it does occur, SERVPRO of San Mateo is there ready to respond and take the necessary steps to restore your home to preloss condition. We follow all industry standards on water damage jobs, and we'll also take the necessary steps to resolve the underlying issue. Contact SERVPRO of San Mateo—trusted restorers in California's Bay Area—for more information today.
SERVPRO of San Mateo Commercial Water Damage Restoration
There’s never a convenient time for flooding or water damage to strike your business. SERVPRO of San Mateo has the training, experience, and equipment to handle large commercial flooding or water damage emergencies. Whether your water damage happens in an office building, store, or mall. So when a water emergency situation arises in your business, give us a call we provide emergency cleanup and restoration services.
Every water disaster is different, from the amount of water to the level of contamination of the water. Each scenario requires its own situation, for example, commercial water damage will need to have more equipment and depending on the damage a bigger crew of highly trained technicians, but the general process stays the same. The steps listed below illustrate our process for the “typical” water damage process.
When dealing with water damage it is crucial to start the water damage restoration process to avoid any further damage to your business. SERVPRO of San Mateo provides emergency cleanup and Restoration services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week—including all holidays. When you call our team will ask several questions regarding the damage this is to help determine how to proceed with restoration services.
Our SERVPRO Representative will ask several questions:
- Your name and contact information
- Your insurance information (if applicable)
- The street address of the water-damaged home or business
- When did the flooding or water damage occur?
- What caused the water damage (if known)?
- Is there electricity available (on-site)?
- Is there standing water?
When dealing with the emergency response this step will be combined with step 3. For any type of damage, we will have our lead technician asses the damage to better determine the extent of damage and how far the moisture has traveled to ensure proper and complete restoration as well as to identify the type of water.
During emergency services, we have a crew immediately head out to the property. In this process, if there is any standing water we will start to extract the water, baseboards will be removed and depending on the amount of water there is a possibility the carpets will have to be removed.
Once all the visible water has been removed we place equipment to make sure every part of the structure is completely dry. The amount of equipment placed very on the size of the damage, the type of equipment placed will either be air movers or dehumidifiers.
Once the entire structure is completely dry we will vacuum any remaining dust using our HEPPA vacuums and making sure everything is sanitized completely to ensure the best care possible.
Insurance Claim Support
We work with all insurance companies and provide direct billing to your insurance agency. We provide real-time documentation to your carrier and use standardized pricing for an easier process. Whether you're a homeowner, business owner or manager, we can assist in dealing with your insurance company or work with you directly to get things back to normal.
Fire Damage vs. Smoke Damage: What's the Difference?
There's fire damage. There's smoke damage. And while smoke damage is often the result of a fire, a property doesn't necessarily need to experience fire damage in order to endure smoke damage.
Make sense? In case it doesn't or in case you just want to learn more about the main differentiators between smoke and fire damage, you've come to the right place. Here at SERVPRO of San Mateo, we specialize in restoring fire and smoke damaged properties to preloss conditions in California's Bay Area. We work closely with property owners to correctly assess each job we're on, so we can come up with the best restoration plan. And while we specialize in mold remediation and water damage restoration as well, fire and smoke damage restoration jobs are among the jobs we take the most pride in. Why? Because they're the jobs that we truly have the opportunity to impact lives the most.
Fire Damage 101
It's estimated that there's a fire every 24 seconds in the United States. This shouldn't be a surprise when you consider the wide variety of factors that can cause a fire. There are household issues, such as faulty electrical wiring, to human error, such as cooking mistakes or failure to turn an iron off or blow a candle out. Then there are fire-causing factors that are less controllable, such as wildfires, downed electrical wires during inclement weather and even lightning strikes.
Regardless of the cause of the fire, the steps we take to restore property remain the same. We'll respond quickly and work with local fire authorities to determine when the property has been secured and when it's safe for us to enter and properly assess things. Following our assessment, this is the process that we take at SERVPRO of San Mateo, which abides by industry standards on every job:
- Remove damaged components: Some components are damaged beyond repair and/or restoration and may need to be discarded. Other contents can be packed out and sent for cleaning and restoration if applicable.
- Remove damaged building materials: We'll likely have to remove all damaged building materials that were affected or else risk the property's structural integrity. This means that any floorboards, studs, paneling, etc. that were impacted will have to go. Evaluation of the property's structure is always one of the most important parts of any evaluation.
- Treat: If any of the property's structure that was impacted can be saved, we'll take the right steps to deodorize and decontaminate it.
- Rebuild: Following our assessment and material removal, we'll then work to rebuild the property to preloss condition. Depending on the severity of the fire, fire restoration jobs can take anywhere from weeks to months.
Smoke Damage 101
Like we said in the introduction, you don't necessarily have to have fire damage in order to have smoke damage. Grease fire or small, easily extinguished fire might not result in any structural fire damage, yet it could leave certain rooms of a home or building engulfed in a smokey mess. Smoke damage can result in more than just smell — it can lead to discoloration of building materials and contamination too.
From there, intensive deep cleaning and deodorizing begin. Fabrics and window dressings that are removable can usually be washed and salvaged, as can most other hard goods and contents in an affected area. In-place building materials, such as flooring and drywall, are often more difficult to properly clean. Non-porous surfaces such as hardwood and tile can simply be hand cleaned. Carpets can be professionally deep cleaned in most circumstances. Even drywall can be salvaged from smoke damage about 80 percent of the time. Drywall typically only requires removal if the smoke has gotten behind it. Following deep cleaning, an odor counteractant is deployed to the affected area and the HVAC system is cleaned so that there's no recontamination of the area (or cross-contamination to other areas of the building).
As we said, fire and smoke damage has the potential to be among the most intense jobs that we're likely to take, but they're also among the most rewarding. For more information on our smoke and fire damage restoration services, call the Bay Area restoration experts, SERVPRO of San Mateo, today.
What Materials Need to be Discarded During Mold Remediation?
Home mold growth can be very dangerous for a variety of reasons. For starters, mold can weaken building materials and spread over time, making what was once a seemingly small problem a large, complex and expensive one. And secondly, it's estimated that up to 30 percent of all humans have some sort of a mold-related sensitivity. These effects from being around mold range from minor to major, and may consist of things like runny noses, watering eyes to chest pain and respiratory issues.
As we said, mold can be dangerous on multiple levels, and it's why you should always rely on the professional to remediate any issues in your home or business. In California's Bay Area, SERVPRO of San Mateo is that professional for you. Whether it's minor mold growth or a major outbreak, we've got the experience, tools, and knowledge to remediate the mold in a safe and effective manner. We follow all the industry standards for mold remediation and structural repair, and the latter aspect of mold issues is important for consumers to understand. When it comes to water damage and subsequent mold growth, there's a good chance that we'll need to remove at least some building materials that have been affected. Here's a closer look.
What Moldy or Water-Damaged Materials Can be Salvaged?
Generally, anything water damaged or experiencing mold growth that is porous must be discarded of. This includes the likes of drywall, carpeting and carpet padding when it comes to building materials. For example, if the lowest level of your home flooded, SERVPRO of San Mateo would come in, pack out salvageable contents and then work to remove drywall in the room up to the point where it was affected. In these situations when you're dealing with porous materials, it's crucial to remove drywall and paneling down to the studs or else mold will surely begin to grow — that is if it hasn't begun to grow already. You can't safely dry out porous materials, and that's why we take the necessary steps to remove them. Following mold remediation or water damage cleanup, porous materials — such as drywall — will need to be replaced to restore the area to a preloss condition.
Non-porous materials are a different story and typically do not have to be removed unless there is significant rotting or other damage to them. Even in the event that they have mold growing on them, it can be fairly easily removed with a hand brush and then disinfected so that any remaining mold spores are destroyed. These materials can then be dried and drying can be sped up utilizing the likes of air blowers, dehumidifiers, and other fans.
Contents restoration, or the successful restoration of personal items, belongings, and materials, has drastically improved over time to the point where nearly everything can be restored if it's gotten to in time. This includes the likes of clothes, electronics, books, textiles, hard goods, photographs and more. Technology has advanced so notably that if these items are packed out and restored in a timely manner, the success rate is very good. If they're not addressed quickly enough, however, then they may have to be discarded — another reason why it's so important to call in the professionals promptly whenever there are those first signs of water damage and/or mold growth. Ultrasonic cleaners, ozone washing, special electronic cleaning stations and more can all help restore a variety of contents to preloss conditions.
Contact SERVPRO of San Mateo Today
Obviously, you hope that nothing ever happens to your home or business — but at the same time, it's best to be prepared in the event of a disaster. That's where the professionals at SERVPRO of San Mateo can come in handy. As experienced restoration and remediation professionals, we pride ourselves in being the complete solution for damaged property in California's Bay Area. And when disaster strikes, you can count on us to respond promptly, create an action plan and get to work. For more information on our mold remediation services, contact us today.