7 Important Things Everyone Should Know In A Water Damage Emergency

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1 7 Important Things Everyone Should Know In A Water Damage Emergency A Consumer Awareness and Emergency Planning Guide By Chris Schmidt Liberty Services of America 24 Hr. Emergency Number (586)

2 7 Important Things Everyone Should Know In A Water Damage Emergency A Consumer Awareness and Emergency Planning Guide Dear Friend, Your home is one of your most valuable assets. That s why it s so important to know how to react when disaster strikes. The intrusion of water into your home can be devastating. Not only can your floors, walls and even ceilings be damaged, but so can your valuable items, paperwork and furniture. In these cases you need a company you can trust to get you back to a pre-loss condition as quickly as possible. The objective of any restoration company should be to get your home safe and dry by the quickest and most efficient means available. In situations like these, there is just no room for cutting corners or compromising on safety. An ethical, reputable restorer will be licensed and certified and be able to promptly supply you with references and testimonials regarding their work. This guide was written to help you better understand the restoration business so that you ll know exactly what to do and what not to do if you suffer a loss due to water damage. With this valuable information, you ll be able to develop an educated and informed plan of action for your home and family. Respectfully, Chris Schmidt IICRC certified restorer, WRT, ASD Solutions Provider, Liberty Services of America, Inc.

3 2009, Liberty Services of America, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any informational storage or retrieval system without express written permission from the publisher. Published by: Liberty Services of America James J Pompo Fraser, MI DISCLAIMER AND/OR LEGAL NOTICES While all attempts have been made to verify information provided in this book, neither the Authors nor the Publisher assumes any responsibility for errors, inaccuracies or omissions. Any slights of people or organizations are unintentional. If advice concerning legal or related matters is needed, the services of a qualified professional should be sought. This book is not intended for use as a legal source or accounting advice. Any references to any persons or businesses, whether living or dead, existing or defunct, is purely coincidental. PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. 2009, Liberty Services of America, Inc.. i. 7 Important Things Everyone Should Know In A Water Damage Emergency

4 Table of Contents Preface: The Purpose and Intention of This Guide pg. 1 #1: Safety First! 6 Immediate Steps You Must Take pg. 2 #2: Smart vs Dumb : A Quick Lesson On Water pg. 3 #3: We Suck! The Importance of Extraction pg. 4 #4: With Drying, Speed Matters: Directed Heat Drying vs Conventional Drying pg. 5 #5: White Glove Service: You Deserve To Be Treated Right! pg. 8 #6: Got A Question? 15 Frequently Asked Questions pg. 10 #7: In Case of Emergency: Making A Disaster Plan pg Hour Emergency Number (586) ii.

5 Preface: The Purpose and Intention of this Guide Preface: The Purpose and Intention of this Guide The intent of this guide is not to frighten or panic you, but to inform you of the best practices of the restoration industry and guide you along the path of developing a response plan in the event of a water damage loss. Since there are no bodies that directly govern restoration companies, virtually anyone could hold themselves out as a restorer. Fortunately the industry has developed self-policing bodies such as the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). The IICRC is an independent, non-profit certification company that promotes standards and ethics designed to protect the consumer, worker and environment and seeks to advance the science of cleaning and restoration. Any reputable restorer will be trained and certified and able to produce proof of certification for you. Of course in the event of an emergency it is unlikely that you will have the time or inclination to do much checking up on a company you might call into your home. Unfortunately, this can be a costly mistake that could cause more trouble and heartbreak than the water itself! This is why it is vitally important to have an action plan in place before an emergency occurs. In addition to highlighting several options you might have, how to investigate a restoration firm, and what to ask, this guide will help you to create a plan, including a list of contact numbers in case of an emergency. It has been my experience that many home owners and business owners are caught unprepared when a flood happens, whether due to weather events, sewer back-ups, pipe breaks, overflows, accidents, malicious intent or any other source. Very often, the victim will call the first number in the phone book or first result on their internet or mobile search, or simply take whichever restorer their insurance company prefers to recommend that day. You may very well end up with a great restoration company or you may not. Sadly, the only way you will know for sure is after they have started the job, or more likely, after they are done and have left and you are stuck with a moldy smell and a damp, disassembled home. Or worse yet, years later, when hidden moisture breeds mold spores that can greatly impact your health! Liberty is committed to educating the consumer and ourselves alike. It is for this reason that we are glad to share what we know with you and will gladly work with you to create your disaster plan. Our ultimate goal is to help you heal the hurt of a loss. We are always available to consult with you on any concerns you may have in a loss situation, day or night. 7 Important Things Everyone Should Know In A Water Damage Emergency 1

6 #1 Safety First! 6 Immediate Steps You Must Take: 1. Avoid Hazards!: Be extremely careful of the deadly combination of water and electricity. Water can end up in many unexpected locations when a flood occurs, so be sure to take all the necessary precautions when you suspect electricity may be present in a wet or flooded area or when using outlets or switches. Also be careful of slippery wet carpets and floors. Stay away from raw sewage back-ups, which can contain virulent bacteria and can be harmful to your health. 2. Stop the Source!: Locate and stop the source of water, if possible. However, keep rule #1 in mind at all times! If you cannot locate the source or cannot stop it, contact your plumber immediately. Contacting a plumber will be one element we incorporate into your disaster plan. We can also contact a plumber for you if you are local to us many have 24/7 emergency service. 3. Remove Furniture: Wood furniture may cause stains which cannot be removed. Rust stains from metal can be difficult to remove and can sometimes be permanent. 95% of water damage jobs are restorable and most of the 5% that are not could have been prevented by following this procedure. If furniture cannot be removed, place a protective surface under the legs/feet, such as plastic glides or tinfoil. Most restorer will also aid you in moving furniture from affected areas or elevating it off the wet surface. 4. Hang up draperies and pin up upholstery skirts to prevent water rings; allow leather items to dry at room temperature. Wash wet clothes and linens as soon as possible and hang cleanable fabrics up to dry. DO NOT store wet items in plastics bags! This will cut off airflow and encourage mold growth! 5. Increase Airflow!: Open windows and doors if possible, or turn on the heat or air conditioning if it is safe to do so. Place fans circulating over affected areas. Open drawers, cupboards and closets to increase airflow to these areas. 6. Take Immediate Action!: Consult and enact your disaster plan. Call your restorer or plumber if there is a water source you cannot safely or easily stop. Remove affected contents if you are safely able to. If you can, prevent water from migrating to unaffected areas. You may use towels, squeegee or a mop to capture or contain water. Of course always think of your safety first. Water can be dried, items can be replaced, but there is no replacement for you! Hour Emergency Number (586)

7 #2 Smart vs Dumb : A Quick Lesson on Water This is just a quick lesson on water and how we view it in our industry. Don t worry! There won t be a test. Water can travel in unexpected ways in a flood situation, often ending up not just where you can see it or where you might expect it to be, but also to completely unexpected places and to locations not visible to casual inspection. The first kind of water we ll refer to (lovingly) as Dumb water. This is water and damage that is visible to the naked eye and detectable by touch. It is also generally where you expect to find it. We ll call it dumb because it is easily found and easily removed it s not very good at hiding. Most dumb water can be removed by extraction and/or evaporated via air movement. It s on the surface and will evaporate quickly. The next type of water we ll call Smart water. It s smart because it can hide very well from visual and touch inspections and may not show the damage it is causing until it s too late. It can also get into the darnedest of places. This is the more difficult-to-dry water, but the most vital to find and get to as soon as possible. Because it is likely to be beneath the surface or outside the visibly wet area, special tools are needed to find it and determine how much there is. A trained and certified professional will have a number of specialized meters and equipment to survey your home or business and find ALL the water, not just the Dumb stuff. This is also where specialized drying equipment comes into play. Simple fans and mops cannot extract Smart water. A certified restorer will be able to find and dry ALL the water in a loss, not just most of it. In fact, chances are that most of the water in affected materials is absorbed into the items themselves or has traveled behind or beneath them. Hence an insufficient or incomplete drying job will likely result in secondary damage to the structure and possible mold growth which can pose a great danger to you and your loved ones. Be sure that you include a certified professional in your emergency plan, so that you aren t a victim of Smart water. 7 Important Things Everyone Should Know In A Water Damage Emergency 3

8 #3 We Suck! The Importance of Extraction By far the best, fastest and most effective means of removing water from a structure is through extraction. Extraction takes out the dumb water we talked about, and maybe a little of the smart (but not so smart!) water too, if done correctly. In 2003 the International Society of Cleaning Technicians (ISCT), in conjunction with Shaw Industries and IICRC-approved instructors, conducted a study called the Water extraction Efficiency Testing study (WET) to determine best-practices for extracting water from a structure. According to the W.E.T. study, using a high-efficiency extractor can increase drying efficiency up to 99.91%. That means extraction is 1200 times more effective than evaporation. You can see why having good extraction methods is just as, if not more important than, having good drying methods. There s just no need to attempt evaporating what can be extracted in a fraction of the time! Water Claw Xtreme Xtractor When selecting a restorer to incorporate in your disaster plan, you should ask what methods and equipment they use for extraction. The top-performing extraction tools in the WET study were the Xtreme Xtractor and Water Claw. These tools are able to remove over 90% of the free water in carpet and padding, leaving it 8 times drier than extracting with just a light wand (a light wand is what a cleaner would use to clean your carpet). If your restorer has only a light wand to extract your padded carpet, you may want to reconsider. Light Wand 4 The IICRC does recognize that a light wand is sufficient for extracting water from direct glue down carpet (without padding) only. 24 Hour Emergency Number (586)

9 #4 With Drying, Speed Matters: Conventional Drying vs Directed Heat Drying You may not realize it, but right now there is a revolution going on a revolution in drying. As it turns out, drying with heat works better. That may sound obvious, but even today many restoration companies are still using conventional drying methods instead of directed heat drying. Conventional drying operates on the principal of applying air movement to wet surfaces causing evaporation and dehumidification. Since just air movement alone cannot evaporate water as quickly as heated air, dehumidifiers are sufficient to capture the evaporated moisture. Conventional methods very often include removing some of the affected items entirely and immediately. Padding and drywall are most common on that list, since they often cannot be dried quickly enough to be saved. Carpeting is another item that is commonly torn out and replaced. The more wet material they remove, the easier they make it to dry, as there is less water left to dry! Unfortunately, this often leaves you needing to replace the removed items. Diagram of How Conventional Drying Works Obviously, slow drying could have potentially negative side-effects, such as secondary damage or mold growth. It may even end up costing you more, as more items will have to be removed and replaced because they cannot be dried quickly enough to save them. This can include hardwood floors, tile and grout flooring and more! 7 Important Things Everyone Should Know In A Water Damage Emergency 5

10 #4 With Drying, Speed Matters: Directed Heat Drying vs Conventional Drying Directed heat drying operates on the principal of applying hot, dry air movement directly to the wet surfaces. This concept in itself is not novel you ve been doing it for years to dry you hair and clothes! With directed heat drying, evaporation happens so rapidly that it would overcome the capacity for most dehumidifiers used on conventional drying, so massive evacuation is used to exhaust the air directly from the home, rather than condense and capture it to be drained out later. This means it takes a lot less time to dry with directed heat. Examples of Directed Heat Drying Methods As you can see, this method applies the hot, dry air directly to where the water is, promoting faster evaporation. Conventional drying equipment might raise the temperature of the wet surface 10 degrees or so. This can help a little, but it still takes many days to dry. Directed heat drying raises wet surface temperatures as much as 50 degrees or more! This added energy in the form of heat will increase the drying potential by 7-fold or more, allowing items to dry in hours rather than days. Because of this massive evaporation, dehumidifiers are generally not used; rather air movers controlled by a thermostatic control device are used to evacuate the hot, wet air from the structure and to control the ambient heat Hour Emergency Number (586)

11 #4 With Drying, Speed Matters: Directed Heat Drying vs Conventional Drying A Brief Lesson In Physics Certainly, more than that goes into controlling where and how the heat is applied, regulated and evacuated, but the core concept is the same. The science behind it is this: Adding energy to the water molecules trapped in the wet materials allows them to change their state faster. We all know the three phases of water: Solids are Ice, Liquids are Water and Gases are Water Vapor. Solids like ice have less energy than gases like water vapor. A vapor can escape a material easier than a liquid or solid. So adding heat to the water turns it to vapor faster. It also increases the Vapor pressure surrounding that water, which makes it want to evaporate faster. Now lets recall the Process of Osmosis. High pressure moves to low pressure. When water molecules are hot and have a lot of energy, they create more pressure in the form of Vapor Pressure. It follows that with less (heat) energy they create lower pressure. That is why we heat the surface, and not the whole room! It actually helps water evaporate faster by moving easily from a high pressure area (the hot, wet surface) to a lower pressure area (the cooler, drier air in the room) and it makes your home much more livable while the drying is in progress. See, that wasn t so bad was it? Of course drying via any method can only save so much. In certain cases, such as when the water is contaminated or the structure has been wet for extended periods, removal of certain affected items may be necessary. Additional services like Mold Remediation might also be required if mold has developed while the structure s been wet. Even in these cases, one should always consider the value of quickly drying with heat to reduce cost of replacement where possible and to reduce time out of the structure. Even when replacement is necessary, the faster it dries, the sooner rebuilding can begin. 7 Important Things Everyone Should Know In A Water Damage Emergency 7

12 #5 White Glove Service: You Deserve To Be Treated Right! In today s business world, it can sometimes seem that service is lacking. Every day I seem to encounter an instance where an employee, representative or even a business owner has complete disregard for the needs and desires of the customer. This sort of selfish insensitivity can be very off-putting even when we are out of the home or in someone else s place of business. However, when it happens to you in your home in the midst of a crisis it is downright appalling. You should never be forced to experience such treatment, least of all in your own home! Therefore I strongly encourage you to find a restorer that you know will treat you with nothing less than the utmost respect and whom you can trust in your home. There is no shortage of so-called splash n dash companies out there. Perhaps you have had to make that call late at night due to a water loss and had a disgruntled employee show up, slap in their equipment without regard to your property (or even their own!) and leave without sufficient explanation about what was being done, why or how, or what to expect. This should never happen to anyone and you can make sure it never happens to you again. When you create your disaster plan you can take your time evaluating the level of service a company provides. You will be able to ask questions you might not have the time or presence of mind to when a disaster strikes. Be sure to fully evaluate any company you might consider until you are completely satisfied that you will get the treatment you deserve from them. You might even try some of the other services they may offer. I fully believe that the most important thing anyone can provide in any business is kindness, compassion and courtesy. Anyone can call themselves a restorer, buy some equipment and even get training. But not everyone values manners and ethics. If you ever have any doubts go with your gut! It will pay to ensure that you will have some peace of mind in a water emergency. An ethical restorer will have a vested interest in your safety and well-being and in saving as much as possible from the affected areas and items in your home or business Hour Emergency Number (586)

13 #5 White Glove Service: You Deserve To Be Treated Right! At Liberty, we train our staff, from technicians, to office staff to the management everyone to create an experience for our clients. Now I know that maybe that sounds like a hokey line that someone might try to sell you, but we really do believe that. And we make each contact we have with our clients the sort of experience we would want to have if the shoe were on the other foot, so to speak. This is especially important in an emergency situation. In fact, we send our technicians to receive special training on how to treat the client right. Service is very important to us and we take it very seriously. It is for these reasons that we have worked to develop the pinnacle of service to our restoration clients. We appreciate the fact that these clients come to us not out of a position of desired service but from a position of immediate need. As I have mentioned often in this guide, speed is of the essence. However, it is never right to move so fast that we disregard the very real needs that our clients have. We want to do our job quickly and properly, but that is ultimately impossible if you ever feel less than 100% satisfied with our service. We like to think of our service to water clients as a sort of concierge service. We provide you with a 24-hour a day phone number where you can reach THE person in charge of handling your case. We appreciate that our equipment will be in your home and running 24-hours a day, so it is only right that you have a way to contact us at any time with any questions or concerns you might have. We can also appreciate the distress and disruption you may experience, so we will do what is within our power to ease this period of stress and heal the hurt. Our ultimate goal is to restore not just your home and items, but also your life and peace of mind to a pre-loss condition as quickly as we can. If you are located in southeast Michigan, I would love to personally discuss our dedication to service with you. If you happen to be outside of our range though, or have a relative or friend in another area of the state or country, I can direct you to a website where you can find ethical cleaners and restorers who are just as dedicated to service as we are. I encourage you to visit when you devise your disaster plan and review the companies there when deciding which restorer deserves the right to serve you. 7 Important Things Everyone Should Know In A Water Damage Emergency 9

14 #6 Got A Question? 15 Frequently Asked Questions 1. Q: Do I need an estimate before you start the dry-out? A: Often the amount of the dry out is unknown, however our pricing is based on standardized pricing for the industry. We use a computer-estimating program that is commonly used by most insurance companies. When an adjuster is assigned to your claim, we will explain to them what we have done up to that point, then get an authorization before further steps are taken. 2. Q: Do I have mold? A: This is a very big concern and we at Liberty Services have invested ourselves in continuing education to become qualified in water damage restoration. In most cases if the drying process can be started fairly quickly, you generally do not need to be concerned with mold. If we do detect mold or feel that there is a possibility of risk associated with mold, we will notify you and make any necessary recommendations at that time. 3. Q: What is the difference between you and a contractor? A: If you hire a general contractor, often they do not understand the concept of saving verses replacing. We have specialized our training and equipment to deal specifically with water damage. Our main objective is to minimize the impact on your day to day living. Just an example: over 90% of the time we are able to save drywall, padding and other absorbent materials. A contractor is much more likely to tear out most or all of the wet materials and spend weeks renovating your home or business. 4. Q: Is it O.K. to keep this equipment running or do I need to do something with it? A: The equipment we use is capable of running for weeks without being shut off. It will not overheat. If you hear or smell anything which seems to be abnormal, please call us (586) or (586) Our technicians will be checking all equipment and dry out progress on a regular basis. 5. Q: How long will the dry out take? A: The average water damage job can be dried within 30 hours using directed heat drying. However, each situation can have its own unique circumstances and some items, such as wood floors or tile, can require special procedures and extra time. Even with extenuating circumstances, if drying proceeds according to our standard process flows, we should be able to have your home or business dry within a matter of days. 6. Q: How do you know if everything is dry? A: We use very high tech moisture meters designed to specifically check for proper moisture content. We will not repair or cover up any areas which may be still wet. This is why you have made a good choice to call us, not just a construction company. We are trained and certified in water damage, assuring you the homeowner of the best quality service and giving you the peace of mind that it will be dried out properly. 7. Q: If it can t be dried, what will be replaced? A: Our job is to bring you back to a pre-loss condition. After the drying process has been completed, we will be able to determine what has permanent damage Hour Emergency Number (586)

15 #6 Got A Question? 15 Frequently Asked Questions 8. Q: Must I stay in my home during the dry out process? A: You can often stay in your home depending on the areas that are affected. You may lose the use of your bathroom, kitchen, etc. If you need to stay outside of your house, you may want to ask your adjuster about additional living expense or A L E coverage. 9. Q: Should we make arrangements for you to get in our house? A: Yes, it is very important that we have access to monitor the job. If you are not going to be available, then we need to work out a plan to gain access. 10. Q: Why do you have to monitor the job so often? A: For us to achieve the best results, we need to closely monitor the dry out process. This may include moving, adding, or removing equipment and checking humidity and temperature readings. 11. Q: Why does the adjuster wait so long to inspect my loss? A: Often the adjuster will wait until the dry out process is complete in order to be able to assess damages. Other times because of our relationship with the adjuster, they may rely on our photos and documentation to determine the scope of repairs, if any, without doing an inspection of their own. 12. Q: Will my insurance company cancel me now that I have made a claim? A: Because each insurance company is so different, I would advise you to ask your agent or adjuster. 13. Q: Will my insurance premium go up now? A: Each insurance company has different guidelines. You will need to ask you agent or adjuster. 14. Q: Why must we go through all this paperwork prior to extraction? A: We try to stay as organized as possible to help ensure the quality and customer service you deserve. Paper work is a very important part of the foundation to help us to achieve this. 15. Q: Why do I give Liberty Services My deductible? A: Your deductible is your responsibility to pay. Your insurance company will subtract your deductible from our bill and pay us the balance. As an example, if you have a deductible of $ and our bill is $ Insurance check $ Deductible $ Total amount paid $ Important Things Everyone Should Know In A Water Damage Emergency 11

16 #7 In Case of Emergency: Making A Disaster Plan Below I have provided an outline to assist you in making your Disaster Plan. I sincerely hope that you never have to put it into action, but should the need arise, I will be glad that I was able to be of service to you in your time of need. Please note that this is only an outline and you should feel free to add or change it as you see fit. I have attempted to be as inclusive as possible considering the broad range of possible needs and events. I m sure it is not an exhaustive list, but it is a good place to start. 1. Safety First! A. Before you go any further, have you identified any possible health or safety risks? Electricity Slip Hazards Contaminated or Waste Water Compromised Structures B. Is everyone accounted for and safely away from the affected areas? Children Elderly Pets Other at risk 2. Stop the Source! Where is the water coming from? Am I able to safely stop the source of the water myself? A. If not, my Emergency Plumber is: Emergency Phone #: OR, my restorer will call the plumber for me call my restorer. B. If the source is stopped and/or the plumber is on the way, call my restorer immediately! My Emergency Restorer is: Emergency Phone #: C. Is this an insurance claim? My Insurance Company is: My agent is: Emergency Phone #: Hour Emergency Number (586)

17 #7 In Case of Emergency: Making A Disaster Plan 3. Remove or Elevate Furniture Which pieces of furniture have wooden or metal legs or feet? Are there any sensitive items that need to be removed? What can I safely remove from the room(s)? Do I have plastic glides or triple-folded tin foil to protect the furniture I cannot remove? 4. Hang Draperies and Skirting Have I pinned up any drapes or skirting that may be exposed to the water? Have I collected any affected towels, sheets or blankets etc? If so, wash these ASAP. DO NOT store them in plastic, they will mold. 5. Increase Air Flow! Can I open any doors or windows? Have I opened any affected cupboards, closets, drawers or interior doors? Can I safely place a fan over the affected flooring? Can I safely operate the heat or air conditioning? 6. Contain Free-flowing Water! Can I safely stop water from traveling to another room? Can I contain the water with towels, mops, squeegees? 7. Other People I Should Notify Does anyone need to be notified of a disaster? Name: Emergency Phone #: Name: Emergency Phone #: Name: Emergency Phone #: 7 Important Things Everyone Should Know In A Water Damage Emergency 13

18 #7 In Case of Emergency: Making A Disaster Plan 12 Questions To Ask When Choosing A Restorer For Your Disaster Plan 1. Is your firm IICRC certified? If not, what certifications do you carry? 2. What certifications do your technicians carry? 3. Are you licensed and insured? 4. Do you use directed heat drying? 5. How often are you able to save padding, drywall and other sensitive materials? 6. Do you offer 24-hour emergency service? 7. If I suffer a water loss, who will be in charge of the job? May I meet these people? 8. Can you provide references or testimonials? 9. How long does your average job take to dry? 10. Can I stay in my home while you complete the job? 11. What do you suggest a home owner do in case of an emergency? 12. Will I have to pay anything up front? Hour Emergency Number (586)

19 Experience Our Services Experience Our Services A water damage loss can be an especially challenging and trying time. Hopefully this guide has been informative and helpful, so that if you ever do have such a misfortune, you will be well-prepared, saving yourself time, money and hassle. Since this guide is available across the country, I have no idea where you live. But, if you live within our service area encompassing southeast Michigan and would like to speak with me personally, please don t hesitate to call me for some free advice. I truly enjoy helping folks! We ve been serving the metro Detroit area for over 25 years and have extensive experience in providing memorable client experiences through many other expert services, such as: Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning Oriental Area Rug Cleaning Tile and Grout Cleaning Natural Stone Polishing Indoor and Outdoor Pest and Rodent Control Lawn Care Window Cleaning Nature Stone Epoxy Flooring We will be happy to provide you with our recommendations for any other service you might need, like plumbing, painting,electrical, heating and cooling, duct cleaning and more...we have developed solid relationships with the best service providers in the area and would be happy to steer you in the right direction. Year after year, many happy home owners have chosen Liberty to services their homes and businesses because they appreciate our dedication to service and drive for excellence. We d like for you to join our family too. If there is ever anything we can do for you, please call. If we don t offer it ourselves, chances are we know a quality person who does. 7 Important Things Everyone Should Know In A Water Damage Emergency 15

20 Notes Hour Emergency Number (586)

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