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Protecting Your Home From Storm Water Damage

A heavy rainstorm has finally stopped. Or maybe a long winter has finally ended, and the deep snows have begun to melt.

While good weather may seem like a relief, the potential for water damage may just be beginning. Storm water runoff can quickly overwhelm natural and manmade systems, leading to flooding and property damage.

The steps you take today to prepare your home and yard for proper drainage can help avoid time-consuming and costly repairs when the bad weather does blow through.

In a natural environment, storm water runoff is absorbed by soil, evaporates into the atmosphere or flows into bodies of water, such as streams, lakes or rivers. Homeowners may need to recreate the natural environment on their property to address storm water runoff. This includes planting trees and other vegetation, building rain gardens and installing rain barrels or cisterns to collect roof water.

Rain on roof of a house

How Can You Protect Your Home from Storm Water?

“The key to developing a yard drainage plan is to understand the specific characteristics of your property and implement the system that works best for you,” says Mike Koppang, a Travelers Risk Control professional. During a storm, you can go outside and observe how the water flows. Take note of the different grades and slopes and whether they divert the flowing water away from your home. Look for any low spots that collect or pool water and for any steep slopes that have indications of surface erosion.

Consider the steps needed to protect your property from water runoff. Rain that falls on roofs, driveways, patios, roads and other impervious areas moves across the ground surface at greater speeds. The property adjacent to these areas could be more susceptible to damage. Frozen soil can also increase risk of damage by preventing water from being absorbed by the soil. Replacing impervious areas with pervious surfaces, such as permeable paving stones or pavers, can also help.

Other questions you might consider:

Is storm water that falls on impervious surfaces diverted away from your house? This is the work of things like roof gutter downspouts, driveways, walkways and patios. Runoff from these surfaces should be directed to an area that has the ability to absorb or slow the surface flow, such as landscaped areas, and away from your house.

Does your house have a stream, pond or lake close by? Consider the flood potential and how it may impact your property. You can research local flood maps that will detail flood water levels for various storm events and their flood potential.

Does your driveway or other impervious surface have a negative pitch back toward the house? Consider installing trench drains or area drains to help prevent pooling and divert water away from the house.

Do you have retaining walls on your property? If so, it is important that the walls have a drainage system in place to alleviate pressure behind the wall. Periodically clean weep holes to ensure they are not clogged. Surface water should not be allowed to cascade over the top of the wall and instead should be diverted to the end of the wall or around it.

Is a portion of your house below ground level, such as a basement? Make sure any sewer and water lines, or any other pipes or lines that penetrate subsurface walls, and foundation cracks are properly sealed. Basements that are prone to water intrusion should have a water collection system in place, such as a sump pump system. This system should be maintained with a battery backup for continued operation in the event of a power failure. Consider elevating mechanical systems or installing curbs around areas that need protecting but cannot be elevated, such as finished areas and storage areas. Exterior basement window wells should have covers and the ground surface of the well should be below the well rim.

Do you have a sewer or septic system and property with known high water tables? Have the system checked by a professional. If the groundwater rises too high, it can affect the efficiency and operation of the system. In some cases, this may lead to sewer back up or waste leaching above the ground or back into the house.

Surface storm water is not the only consideration for protecting your home. It is also important to assess the functionality of your whole home envelope system. Make sure that your house exterior is maintained, including roofing, flashings, weather barriers, windows, doors and sealants.

While you cannot prevent against all damage from storm water runoff during large acts of nature, these steps can help protect your home when storms do hit.

 

 

 

 

 

Admin. “Protecting Your Home From Storm Water Damage” Web blog post. Prepare & Prevent. Travelers Insurance. 7 Nov 2017 

Dishwasher Flooding

The standard dishwasher is a modern-day convenience many of us utilize with a great degree of satisfaction. This economical water-saver offers much relief when it comes to daily chores. In fact, Energy-Star rated dishwashers use, on average, as little as three gallons of water per load. On the other hand, washing dishes by hand consumes up to 27 gallons of water per load! Modern appliances like the handy dishwasher are a built-in time saver as well as an environmentally friendly machine.

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Dishwashers, like most kitchen appliances, are built to last. Many offer years upon years of convenience. On occasion, these dependable appliances have a tendency to leak or break, causing utter devastation within the kitchen. Not only is the automatic dishwashing convenience temporarily halted, but the damage that results can be an expensive fix.

Problems with Broken Dishwasher

The suds and dirty water that leak from a broken dishwasher can seep into your kitchen floorboards within minutes. Mold growth occurs within as little as 24 hours. So unless you detect the flood sooner rather than later, you’re in for a costly cleanup.

Periodically inspecting your handy dishwasher for leaks or potential problems is a tedious task, but one that will save you significant labor expenses and, perhaps, a high-cost replacement.

How to Prevent a Broken Dishwasher

The dishwasher is a tidy and prim device, with all the central hoses and components tucked neatly away inside. The appliance seems relatively uncomplicated. Checking your dishwasher takes a little familiarity with its inner workings. So where do you begin?

Inspect the Gasket

What is a gasket? The gasket is a rubber lining that keeps the suds and water from leaking out of your dishwasher anytime it operates. Easily check the functionality of the gasket with, first, a visual inspection for any obvious wear, and second, a piece of paper. Close the dishwasher door upon the paper. If the paper can be easily removed when the door is closed, a tight seal is not in place. Replace the gasket in this instance.

Notice the Water Level

In general, an operational dishwasher’s water level will remain at the lowest part of the dishwasher door. Upon running the dishwasher, if you notice the water level to be higher than the edge of the door when you open it just prior to the wash cycle, the float switch could be damaged; or, food particles may have clogged the strainer. Simply remove the strainer and thoroughly rinse it to remove any debris. If the water level continues to be high, replace the float switch.

Examine Both Hoses

Dishwashers come equipped with two hoses, one that fills and one that drains. Prior to inspecting the hoses, be sure to turn off the power to the dishwasher from the breaker box. You can check the hoses by removing the lower panel of your dishwasher. If you see any traces of wetness, the hoses may be too worn to operate efficiently. Significant water damage is likely to result over the long run. An additional method to check for the functionality of the hoses is to place a piece of paper underneath the hoses. If the paper becomes wet or saturated at any point, replace both hoses. Also check for and undo any kinks in the hose.

What to Do About a Flooded Dishwasher

An unexpected leak may spring if you do not perform periodic checks of the dishwasher’s internal mechanisms. Soapy suds that spread along the kitchen floor leave more than watery puddles to clean up. Developing mold spores are a cause for concern. Plus, in no way is it safe to step into a wet kitchen floor with a malfunctioning electrical appliance. The combination of electricity and water is extremely dangerous. All is not lost, when you are aware of the steps necessary to remediate the sudden mechanical failure.

Turn Off the Electricity

First, turn off the electricity to the kitchen. This safety precaution ensures that leaking water and electricity do not mix. Advise your family that the kitchen is off limits until the dishwasher is safe to use once again.

Shut off the Water

A quick reaction is necessary to prevent additional water damage to the flooring or paneling of surrounding cabinets in your kitchen. Find the waterline that works in conjunction with your dishwasher. You’ll likely locate this under the kitchen sink. Turn the valve clockwise completely to shut off the water to the dishwasher. Once the water source is turned off, take this time to examine the cause of the flooded dishwasher.

Mop Up Excess Water

Soak up any water that leaked onto your hardwood flooring, kitchen tiles or surrounding cabinetry. Hardwood flooring and wooden cabinets absorb water easily, creating a risky environment that encourages mold growth or discoloration and damage to surfaces, including swelling and warping. Swift action can prevent mold spores from contaminating the space as well as reduce other unfavorable conditions.

Call a Professional

Once water seeps deep into the kitchen flooring and cabinets, the resulting damage is difficult to remediate without professional help. Water damage restoration professionals are trained and experienced in all facets of water extraction and drying. Reputable companies like ServiceMaster by Restoration Contractors are immediately available to eliminate the standing floodwater that easily and effortlessly penetrates surfaces. Advanced water-extraction machinery is the most effective method used by trusted water damage restoration experts to thoroughly dry water-damaged areas, furnishings and structures.

When your dependable dishwasher suddenly interrupts your peace of mind with an unexpected leak, water damage restoration experts are a phone call away. Service technicians are available 24 hours a day in the event of emergencies to thoroughly remediate the results of any and all water damage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luke Armstrong. “Dishwasher Flooding: How to Prevent and React” Web blog post. Restoration guides, Restoration Master. 31 Oct 2017

 

How to Stay Safe During a Hurricane

Image result for trees in hurricane

After our first hurricane since living in Texas, we realized there was a lot we didn’t know.  I know there are many more people out there who aren’t quite sure what to do in the event of a major hurricane.  We’re sharing these with you in hope that they’ll help you stay safe and be as comfortable as possible in the event that you lose power or find flood waters seeping into your home.  Here’s what you need to know.

 

 

Hurricane Survival Tips

1. Evacuate. Evacuate. Evacuate.
When you can and it’s safe to do so, leave low-lying areas or danger zones and move inland and to elevated areas.  Call a friend, contact a shelter in another city or make plans to stay in a hotel.  Fill up on gas and get out of town as soon as you are able to.  In the event that you can’t get away, here are more tips to help you stay safe.

2. Fill your car with gas.
If you don’t plan to evacuate, at least make sure that you’re family cars or rentals are loaded and full of gas.  It’s not a bad idea to fill a couple of gas cans and keep those in your trunk just in case.  It’s always better to be prepared, than to need it and not have it.

3. Have plenty of cash on hand.
In the event that the power goes out, stores may not be able to sell you items by using a credit or debit card.  Make sure you have plenty of cash on hand to buy emergency supplies, for hotel stays or to help another person in need, should the situation arise.

4. Make sure you stock up on water and food.  
Sometimes power can be out for a week or even longer.  Make sure you’re well prepared with plenty of fresh drinking water.  Often times flooding will cause sewage and chemicals to infiltrate your water sources.  Don’t rely on water from the pipes.  Make sure you have clean water on hand.  Buy food that doesn’t require cooking.  Bread, fresh fruit, hard-boiled eggs, peanut butter, powdered-milk, sandwich supplies and snacks are always a good bet.   If you’re able, you can grill meats outside after the storm has subsided, even after you’ve lost power.  So make sure you have grilling supplies like charcoal and fire starter.  Canned goods that don’t require heating, like canned fruit, potted meat, etc., are also a good idea.  If you have pets, make sure you stock up on food for them as well.

5. Plastic cutlery and supplies.
You won’t have access to clean dishes during a hurricane if the power and water stops running.  Make sure you have plenty of plastic plates, bowls, utensils and cups on hand.  Wrap them in plastic bags and tie them securely to make sure that the contents stay clean and dry.  You can do the same with your food supplies.

6. Buy lots of bug spray.
After a flood or heavy rain, the mosquitos are out in force.  You more than likely won’t want to stay indoors in the sweltering heat without air conditioning, so make sure that you get plenty of bug spray and repellent to keep pests away.

7. Have flashlights, candles, lanterns and extra batteries on hand.
If the power goes out, you’ll need a way to see to make trips to the bathroom at night, to eat or just to keep the kids distracted when they get scared of the dark.  Make sure you have plenty of flashlights, candles, battery-operated lanterns and alternate lighting options to last you at least a few days.  Also, stock up on batteries.  AA, AAA and C batteries are usually the most common.  After a hurricane, the power can be out for 1-2 weeks at least, so make sure you have enough to be prepared for the worst.

8. Buy a weather radio.
Keep a hand crank or battery operated radio on hand so you can stay up to date with weather reports.  You’ll probably be able to use your cell phone at least until the storm hits, but once the power is out, the battery dies or signal drops due to the storm, you’ll be completely in the dark.  Make sure you have a back up device, like a weather radio, to keep you informed.

9. Keep your devices charged.
More than likely, you’re going to lose power at some point.  Make sure you charge your kids tablets so they have something to do when the storm gets scary or the house is dark.  Charge your cell phones so you can maintain what might be your only lifeline or way to check in with family and friends throughout the storm.  You can also use a portable rechargeable battery to keep your devices charged long after the power has gone out.

10. Stock medical supplies.
If you have medicines, prescriptions or other items you’ll need, make sure you stock up before the storm.  Many stores may be closed for days or weeks after a major hurricane.  In case of injury, you’ll want to have some basic first aid items on hand.  Getting to a hospital isn’t easy during a hurricane and especially if there’s flooding.  Make sure you have medicines, antibiotic ointments, tourniquets and other supplies on hand in case of an emergency.  And remember that allergies are at their highest in the aftermath of a hurricane, so make sure you have plenty of allergy medications and remedies on hand, especially for small kids who often won’t know how to cope with the effects.  Keep kids well hydrated and order extra allergy medications ahead of the storm so you have them on hand.

11. Bring in all outdoor items and secure patio furniture so they don’t become projectiles.
Clean up your yard and patio area so that your lawn chairs, children’s toys and shovels don’t become projectiles.  This is for both your protection and your neighbor’s.  Make sure that all items are secured in your garage, basement, or in your home.  We also tied down our trash can to make sure if wouldn’t blow into the streets and block traffic during the storm or cause any damage.

12. Board up your windows to prevent damage and exposure to the elements.
Make sure you have plywood or another solid type of covering to secure your windows.  This will prevent fencing, branches or other debris from entering your home and will also hold back intense rain and flood waters.  If you can’t board your windows, you can at least cover them with a mattress or heavy blankets from the inside if needed.

13. Place sand bags in front of your doors and in other areas where water might seep in.
Typically, your city officials will pass out free sand bags if you live in an area affected by a hurricane.  Make sure you watch news reports and follow your city, police or fire departments social media pages to find out when and where you can pick up your sand bags.  Place them in front of doorways or anywhere else where water might seep in.  This will slow the flooding process so you can hopefully make it through safely until the storm ends.

14. Put things up away from flood waters.
Make sure you put up things that you don’t want to see destroyed by flood waters.  Family pictures, memorabilia, heirlooms, electronics, etc.  Put them up on top of furniture, desks, counters, in cabinets or the tops of closets when possible.  If you have a safe, dry place to store important items, please get them put away well ahead of time.

15. Fill your bathtub with water so you can flush toilets.
During a hurricane, you may find that you can no longer flush your toilet or access water in your home.  Make sure that you fill up your bathtub, sinks and washing machine with water so that you’ll be able to flush toilets even in the event that you don’t have water.

16. A closet is usually the safest place to go in the event of high winds.
Clean out a closet and make enough space for your family to sit comfortably inside.  If your closets aren’t large enough, you can also use a bathroom.  This will be a place where your family can escape the loud winds and comfort small children.  It is also a safe space in the event that a hurricane or tornado may cause damage to your home.

17. Pack clothes and personal care items.
Whether you evacuate or not, make sure you pack a few pairs of clean, dry clothes (including undergarments and extra shoes) and supplies like toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.  Pack as if you were going on a week-long trip and make sure they you also put these items in plastic bags and seal them tight to protect them from the elements.

18. Prepare important documents and records.
In the event of a hurricane, you’ll need to protect all of your most important records.  Make sure you have your insurance policies, lease agreements, car title and registration, marriage license, birth records, forms of identification, pet records and any other important records packed in air-tight bags and ready in case you need them.

19. Stock up on baby and kid supplies.
After the hurricane, most stores will be closed and you likely won’t be able to find a place to get supplies for weeks.  Make sure you stock up on diapers, wipes, formula, sippy cups, snacks and other supplies well before the hurricane hits.  You definitely don’t want to be without these in the event of a disaster.

20. Emergency contacts.
In the event of an emergency, make sure that you have the phone numbers, Facebook pages and Twitter handles of people who could help you if needed.  Have contact info for the police department, city government and both national and local organizations that help with hurricane rescue and relief.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Admin. “Hurricane Survival Tips: How to Stay Safe During a Hurricane” Web blog post. Tips & Safety. Bicultural Familia. 25 Aug 2017. 23 Oct 2017.

Issues From High Indoor Humidity Levels

When the humidity levels soar outdoors, it’s natural to seek sanctuary indoors, thanks to the marvels of modern air conditioning. If you move fast enough between the house, the car, and buildings, you hardly have to feel humidity levels that make you feel like you’re breathing a wet sponge. But just because that cool air is enclosed inside four walls doesn’t mean it’s protected from high humidity. It doesn’t just make you feel hotter; humidity in your house causes all kinds of trouble, ranging from mild discomfort to damage to your home and possessions, and even your health.

Poor Indoor Air Quality

Even with the benefits of air conditioning, air quality suffers with excess humidity levels. Modern construction techniques and better building materials mean that there are fewer gaps to let air leak in or out. While it’s important to keep the hot, humid air out and keep the nice, cool air in, these tightly sealed buildings also seal in dust mites and mold spores that are commonly found in the air. All the spores need to grow are food sources, which are in building materials and textiles, and humidity. While air purifiers and plants can help clean the air somewhat, the best way to manage the quality of the air inside your home is to control the humidity levels.

Mold And Mildew Growth

If your home or business has a problem with high humidity levels, it’s not a matter of if there’s going to be a problem with mold and mildew, but when. Mold spores occur naturally in the air and are microscopic, so there’s no way to eliminate them completely. Spores begin growing into mold within 48 hours of exposure to high humidity levels because they find plenty of food sources in drywall, paper, fabric, and other materials. Left untreated, mold will continue to grow, quickly moving into hidden areas like walls where it can travel through a building undetected, spreading into areas that weren’t affected by the initial infestation.

Lower Quality Sleep

Anyone who’s gone camping in the middle of summer or lived without air conditioning knows the challenges of trying to sleep when the humidity is high. When the air is humid, water can’t evaporate from your skin and cool your body. When your body is too hot, it’s difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep, so the quality of your sleep suffers. Poor sleep quality affects so much of your everyday life, so it’s worth investing in a window air conditioner or a dehumidifier for the bedroom if excess humidity is a problem.

Increased Asthma & Allergy Symptoms

Besides damaging your home or business and its contents, mold caused by high humidity impacts your health. If you already have asthma or allergies, mold growth will only make them worse. Worsening symptoms means more visits to the doctor, which means more lost time from work or school, and more money spent on medications. Even if you don’t have asthma or allergies, mold growth irritates eyes and respiratory systems, so reactions feel more like a cold that just won’t go away, no matter what over the counter medications you try.

Warped Wood

Long-term exposure to high levels of humidity can warp hardwoods and wood furniture in your home. Often the damage is irreversible, especially if the damage is wide spread or affects a large area, such as a hardwood floor. Wood furniture and floors are expensive investments that need protection from high humidity.

Strained HVAC Systems

High humidity levels make the air feel hotter, so it’s natural to turn on the air conditioning. This puts an added strain on your HVAC system, which may already be struggling due to age, dirty filters, or a lack of preventative maintenance. The extra work may even shorten the lifespan of the system.

Higher Utility Bills

The other nasty by-product of turning on the air conditioning more often is an increase in the utility bill. Obviously, the more the air is on, the more electricity is used. There are plenty of cost of living increases that are beyond our control, like gas and medical expenses. However, by keeping the humidity in your home or business under control, you can keep your air conditioner on less often and keep the utility bills down.

Restoration costs vary, depending on the extent of the flooding and the presence of mold. According to HomeAdvisor.com, the national average to remove standing water is $2,779. The national average to repair water damage is $2,436. The national average to test for mold is $719 and the national average to remove mold and toxic materials is $2,241.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Luke Armstrong. “Issues From High Indoor Humidity Levels” Web blog post. Restoration Guides. Restoration master finder. 30 Aug 2017. 12 Oct 2017

 

10 Most Likely Places To Find Water.

Finding water damage can be one of the most annoying problems to find for property owners; it’s one more task to add to the never ending to-do list and it can be costly to fix, depending on where it has spread. But it is highly recommended by water damage restoration professionals to have it restored as soon as possible to prevent the problem from becoming worse over time. Mold can also develop from any untreated areas containing high amounts of moisture.

But if you can restore the water damage yourself, know that the first step is to locate and remove the source of the damage; it wouldn’t help to repair the damage if the water keeps flowing. If you can’t find it right away, here are the most likely places to find water leaks:

 10-Most-Likely-Places-to-Find-Water-Leak-ServiceMaster

Common Places To Find Water Leaks:

1. Hot Water Heaters. About 70% of all water heater failures have been caused by a water leak or sudden burst. This can occur after 10 – 15 years of having the water heater, depending on the quality and size of the tank. To check if this is the source of the water leak, remove the drain pipe and listen for a hissing sound. You may also notice a puddle underneath the tank. Water-Heaters-Most-Likely-Places-to-Find-Water-Leaks

2. These clog all of the time and can become messy if they overflow. But they can also seep water around the seal in the floor. If you find a small puddle around the toilet, turn the water off and inspect the tank. Depending on the severity of the damage, you may have to call a plumber.

3. Water Pipes. Especially in the winter time, pipe bursts are extremely common as the water expands and adds more pressure to stressed pipes. Be sure to inspect each one thoroughly for any drips or small holes.

4. Refrigerator and Freezer. Because it is constantly pouring water, ice maker leaks are very common. To see if there is a leak, unplug the appliance and inspect the back of the freezer or freezer to find any water damage on the wall. There could also be a small hole or two in the pipes if they are plastic. If you see any dripping, consider replacing the tubes with copper pipes.

5. Air Conditioner. While moisture around this appliance is common and won’t hurt anything as long as there is not any moisture on the drywall, excessive dripping can cause significant damage. To see if there is a problem, check the condensate pump, refrigerant, and drain line for any leaks.

6. Washing Machine. During each cycle, there are about 15 to 30 gallons of water running through the washing machine. Any small hole within the appliance, drain, or tubes can result in major water damage.

7. Gutters. Not all water damage sources are located within the home. Any gutters containing significant amounts of leaves, dirt, and other debris can cause water to flow over the side and seep into the foundation; this is a very common source of basement flooding.

8. Showers and Sinks. Next to washing machines, sinks and showers are among the most common sources of water damage. Any holes in the water supply lines or worn-out caulking can spring major damage at any time.

9. Sump Pump. Especially after a big storm, sump pumps can fail and create the risk for basement flooding, if it hasn’t happened already. After repairing the pump, it would be best to schedule annual maintenance and inspect its condition to prevent future failures.

10. Air Ducts. Because they are connected to the air conditioning unit, it is common for moisture to accumulate within the ductwork and spring a leak. If you notice any condensation on the air registers or ducts themselves, you may find a leak in another area. Professional air duct cleaning can also prevent this problem in the future.

Restoring Water Damage From Leaks.

While you will need a plumber to fix any pipes or leaks, fixing the water damage is crucial to prevent additional destruction. Once an area has been affected, the water will spread and damage additional areas. But as soon as the source has been removed, don’t hesitate to call a water damage repair professional.

 

Widely known as the nation’s top restoration company, ServiceMaster specializes in flood cleanup and water damage restoration. Their professionals are available 24/7 and will arrive within 2 hours of your initial call to prevent the damage from spreading, dry out the affected areas, and restore the property structure. You can count on them to return building materials of all types to their original condition. They will even work with your insurance provider to allow you to focus on other matters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luke Armstrong. “10 Most Likely Places To Find Water” Web blog post. Restoration tips, Restoration Master. 18 Sep. 2017. 3 Oct, 2017.

The Difference Between Mold & Mildew.

Mold and mildew are both types of fungi that are commonly found in the home. They thrive in moist environments, spread easily, and live on various surfaces which makes them very difficult to get rid of. If left unattended, however, the harmful microorganisms can quickly affect large areas of your property and may even result in health problems and structural damage. While the two types of fungi share many common features, they pose different risks and respond to different treatment.

So, in order to come up with an efficient cleaning strategy and ensure the safety of your living environment, you need to understand the difference between mold and mildew.

Mold removal for bridge city and west lake

What Is The Difference Between Mold And Mildew?

Mildew can be described as a specific type of mold. Mold is a fungus that contains multiple identical nuclei and grows in the form of black or green patches which penetrate beneath the surface of the affected material. Mildew, on the other hand, has flat growth that remains on the surface where it can be easily removed. While mold usually grows on food or inside permanent structures, such as walls and crawl spaces, mildew is to be found on damp surfaces, paper, fabrics, and various organic materials in your home.

Common Mildew Types

Primarily, mildew is a plant disease that causes great damage to crops and plants. It is classified as powdery and downy:

  • Powdery mildew mainly affects flowering plants and first appears as white or gray patterned splotches that gradually become yellowish brown or black as the fungus grows;
  • Downy mildew is commonly found in agricultural products, such as grapes and potatoes. Its appearance varies depending on the type of surface it grows on, but usually downy mildew starts as yellow spots that eventually turn brown.

Common Mold Types

Although the number of mold species that can live indoors exceeds 10,000 according to the latest CDC estimates, most household molds belong to one of the following five types:

  • Alternaria grows on walls, in showers, around windows, under sinks and in various other damp places. It is often found in buildings that have suffered some kind of water damage. Alternaria mold can appear black, grey, or dark brown and has a wooly or down-like texture. Prolonged exposure to this kind of fungi can cause allergic reactions and asthma attacks;
  • Aspergillus is the most common type of mold found indoors. It can look grey, brown, yellow, green, white, or black. Aspergillus mold usually grows on walls, insulation, paper products, and clothing. It can causes allergic reactions and respiratory infections, as well as inflammation of the lungs in people with weak immune systems;
  • Unlike many other molds, Cladosporium can grow in cool areas. It usually appears on fabrics, such as carpets or curtains, and on wood surfaces, like cabinets and floorboards. It has a characteristic black or olive-green color and can cause a variety of respiratory problems;
  • Penicillium can be found on various materials that have been in contact with water, including carpeting, wallpaper, insulation, and mattresses. It looks blue or green and produces strong musty odors. Penicillium spores spread very easily and often result in allergic reactions;
  • Stachybotrys chartarum, often referred to as “black mold” because of its color, is the most dangerous kind of household mold – it produces toxic compounds called mycotoxins that can cause severe health problems, such as allergic symptoms, breathing problems, asthma attacks, chronic sinus infections, fatigue, and depression. The toxic black mold has a characteristic musty odor and usually grows in areas that are constantly damp – around leaky pipes, inside air conditioning ducts where there is a lot of condensation, etc.

How To Tell The Difference Between Mold And Mildew?

There are several crucial differences in the appearance and properties of mold and mildew that will help you recognize the type of indoor fungi you have discovered in your home:

Differences between Mold and Mildew in Appearance

Typically, mold appears black or green while mildew looks gray or white. Yet, there are some more detailed specifics in the appearance of the fungi:

  • Mildew usually grows in a flat pattern and appears either powdery or fluffy. It can be easily identified as a patch of white, gray, or yellowish fungus that is lying on the surface of a moist area. Mildew usually turns black or brown over time;
  • Mold is usually fuzzy or slimy in appearance. It appears as irregularly shaped spots that can have different colors – blue, green, yellow, brown, gray, black, or white. Oftentimes, surfaces that are covered in mold begin to rot.

Differences in the Effects of Mold and Mildew

Both mold and mildew need to be taken care of in a quick and efficient manner as they can cause a lot of trouble over time:

  • Mildew usually affects plants and crops. If it develops indoors, however, it can also pose health risks. When inhaled, mildew spores cause coughing, headache, sore throat, and respiratory problems;
  • Mold can result in considerable structural damage when left unattended for a long time. Prolonged exposure can cause a variety of health problems, depending on the strain of mold. Common health effects of mold include various allergic reactions (sneezing, skin irritations, irritation of the eyes and throat, nasal congestion, etc.), respiratory problems (difficulty breathing, coughing, pneumonia, asthma attacks), heart problems, migraines, inflammation and pain in the joints, dizziness, depression, and extreme fatigue. The mycotoxins produced by black mold are particularly harmful and may have severe long-term health effects, especially in younger kids and individuals with weak immune systems.

Mold and Mildew Testing

If you are not sure what type of fungi you are dealing with, you can have them tested:

  • Home testing – the easiest way to identify the kind of microorganisms in your home is to drip a few drops of household bleach on the affected area. Wait for about five minutes and inspect the spot:

– if it has become lighter, you are dealing with mildew;

– if it remains dark, it is mold that has developed in your home.

You can also use various mold and mildew testing kits that are available on the market;

  • Professional testing – if you suspect considerable mold growth in your property or if you aren’t sure about the best course of action to take, your best bet is to ask for professional assistance. Contact a trustworthy mold removal company in your area for inspection, testing, evaluation, and efficient mold removal services that will help you get rid of the harmful fungi in your home.

How To Get Rid Of Mold And Mildew?

If you can prevent mold and mildew in the first place, you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle and headaches.

How to Prevent Mold and Mildew

The most efficient way to prevent mold and mildew in your home is to keep all the areas dry and moisture-free. Maintain a humidity level of about 40-50% inside the house (a dehumidifier provides the most advantageous solution for ensuring appropriate indoor humidity), have your heating and cooling systems regularly inspected, keep air ducts clean and in good condition, ensure good air circulation inside the premises, fix any leaks in the bathroom, kitchen or other areas, etc. Remove any mildew-affected plants and weeds as soon as you notice them in order to prevent mildew infestation.

How to Clean Mold and Mildew

Mildew is a surface fungus that can be efficiently treated with a commercially available cleaner and a scrubbing brush. Just make sure you work in a well-ventilated area and wear a facial mask to prevent inhaling mildew spores, as well as to avoid breathing in fumes given off by the cleaning product you use. It is also advisable to put on rubber gloves in order to protect your hands both from the mildew and from the cleaning agent. Clean all the surrounding areas carefully as well, to ensure that all the fungi have been successfully removed.

Mold, on the other hand, attaches to the affected materials with microscopic filaments that penetrate beneath the surface. The mold spores spread very easily and can survive in extreme conditions, so they can quickly affect large areas of your property and result in permanent damage. Moreover, despite its characteristic musty smell, mold is only visible to the eye when the colonies start growing, so early detection and prevention is very difficult. Worst of all, mold can have a very negative impact on your health, so DIY removal attempts are not recommendable. Besides, DIY remedies are rarely efficient because the fungus usually grows in areas that are very difficult to access and to treat.

The safest and most efficient way to get rid of a mold problem is to call a mold remediation company. An experienced professional will come to your home to assess the situation and determine the type of mold or mildew in your property, as well as the extent of the damage. Then, the most appropriate actions will be taken to remove the harmful fungi and prevent its appearance in the near future. The experts will help ensure not only the safety of your living environment, but also your peace of mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Luke Armstrong. “Mold Vs Mildew: The Main Differences Between Mold And Mildew” Web blog post. Mold Removal, Restoration Master. 12 April 2016. 28 Sep 2017. 

How To Save Water At Home.

A dripping faucet or a pipe with a slow leak may seem harmless, but even small amounts of wasted water can quickly become expensive problems. Save yourself money and head-aches by learning how to stop water leaks—and possible damage—before they start.

It flows from faucets, fills washing machines, collects in gutters and runs down drains. When it’s unseen or unwelcomed, however, water can turn disastrous. Leaks in American homes waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water annually. Your home may seem water-tight, but there’s a 1 in 10 chance it hides a leak that spews 90 gallons or more every day. That’s like throwing at least $50 per year down the drain. And a small leak left unchecked can turn into a pool that causes serious problems. Excess moisture can destroy furniture, carpeting, walls and more.

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According to State Farm® records, the average cost of a water damage claim in 2015 was $11,013, and that price tag can skyrocket when the home also experiences structural damage. Undetected water can also pose a health risk by encouraging the growth of mold, mildew and bacteria. Hiding behind walls, it can exacerbate allergies or asthma and cause respiratory problems in healthy family members.

Luckily, it’s easy to correct most common sources of water seepage. Quickly replacing a worn toilet flapper or fixing a dripping faucet, for example, can save you about 10 percent on your water bill and could help prevent more serious problems.

Here are some ways to limit wasted water and help ensure your home is ship-shape.

Pipe Dream

Indoor plumbing is one of civilization’s great innovations, but it’s not flawless. The pipes that deliver water are common sources of leaks. The risk increases with age because pipework joints can degrade with time. Homes older than 30 years are three times more likely than newer homes to have plumbing problems. Common causes of leaky pipes are:

  • Rust or corrosion of galvanized steel pipes or of the metal joints and connections of newer PVC or copper piping
  • Too much water pressure; fixtures and appliance hoses can withstand only so much before faltering
  • Cracked or broken pipes and hoses, which can happen with age, pressure or freezing

To avoid these problems, replace galvanized pipes with plastic if possible, and hire a plumber every few years to inspect your pipes for rust. If your home has a water-pressure regulator, adjust it or hire a plumber to address pressure problems. Finally, insulate exposed pipes and those in the attic and basement. Once a pipe springs a leak, it’s best to have a professional repair it. One telltale sign of a leak is decreased or inconsistent water pressure. If you notice such problems with your faucets, call a plumber.

Play Detective

When you picture water damage, you may imagine a flooded basement or a waterfall pouring from a toilet. But most problems don’t start with giant splashes; more common is a slow leak that goes unnoticed until the damage is done. Early intervention is key. Waiting too long inflates your utility bill and allows water to build to a destructive point that can result in costly restoration expenses. How do you know if your home hides water leaks?

  • Check Your Water Bill: Review usage amounts during the coldest months. A household of four using more than 12,000 gallons per month probably has some serious leaks.
  • Call Your Water Company: Ask whether your utility provider has a leak detection program that alerts homeowners of unusually high water usage. If so, find out how the system works, so you can take appropriate action.
  • Conduct a Meter Check: Record your water meter reading; then turn off all water inside and outside your home, and make sure no one uses anything that requires water for two hours. Record the reading again; if it’s up, it’s likely there’s a leak. These procedures can help identify the presence of leaks, but they don’t tell you their locations. That requires further investigation, starting with examining the most common culprits—pipes, appliances, toilets, faucets and the home’s exterior.

On Alert

As Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Help protect your home from water damage by using water leak alarms in several strategic locations.

These sensors can detect water in hard-to-see areas; an alarm sounds for little as one-sixteenth of an inch of water. Basic battery-operated detectors typically cost $5 to $10. Other models, for about $35, connect to smart-home systems such as Iris, Wink and SmartThings. Use the alarms under or near toilets, sinks, refrigerators with icemakers, dishwashers, washing machines, water heaters, sump pump pits, whole-house humidifiers, window air-conditioning units, and any areas that leaked previously.

Rise of the Machines

Many appliances and mechanical systems use a lot of water. When they have problems, they can leak and cause costly damage. Routine maintenance can help!

  • Dishwasher: If a hose leaks or bursts, it can quickly flood your kitchen with gallons of water. The problem is most common with rubber hoses; $20 replaces these with sturdier, steel-braided options.
  • Washing Machine: Half of leaks result from burst water supply lines, which can loosen with vibration and degrade over time. Check your hoses frequently for cracks and kinks, and replace them every three to five years as part of a proactive maintenance program.
  • Refrigerator: Almost three-fourths of leaks happen because of a failed plastic hose that connects the icemaker to the water line. Check the hose every six months, and replace it if it’s discolored or cracked.
  • Water Heater: Three out of four fail before age 12. Protect yours by flushing the tank every six months. Check annually for corrosion, leaks and a bulging tank. Have a professional check the anode rods for rust every two years.
  • Whole-House Humidifier: If the refill valve in a humidifier fails, water can leak directly into your sewer. Inspect the equipment frequently during the heating season, and turn off its water supply when not in use.

Toilet Troubles

Considering how often we use them, it’s not surprising that toilets are common sources of leaks. In fact, more than a third of all residential toilets have at least small leaks. Even worse, water damage from toilets averaged $14,891 in homeowner claims, according to State Farm records.

Finding most toilet leaks is easy. Ten minutes after flushing, remove the tank cover. If the water level is at the top of the overflow tube, you have a leak.

Another way to check: Put several drops of food coloring in the tank; if the color appears in the bowl within 10 minutes, there’s a leak. If the toilet valve makes a semi-regular or constant hissing or gurgling sound, there’s likely a large leak.

Some toilet leaks are easy to fix, while others require skilled professionals. Before hiring help, try replacing the flapper valve. Often a worn or warped rubber flapper with a bad seal is the source of problems. Swapping out this $5 part is so easy, most homeowners can tackle it themselves. If a new flapper valve doesn’t stop the leak, call a plumber. The problem could be a broken part, such as the refill valve or a loose gasket or bolt.

Most issues can be fixed at little expense. If the problem is a cracked tank or bowl, however, the only solution is replacing the entire toilet. When replacement is necessary, consider investing in a WaterSense-labeled model. This third-party certification means the toilet uses 20 percent less water than the federal standard. For as little as $80, the toilet may save the average family nearly $2,400 in water and waste bills over its lifetime.

Faulty Faucets

The drip-drop of a leaky faucet or showerhead is more than a nuisance. Just one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons of water per year. And the average repair bill for water damage from a leaky sink is $7,000, according to State Farm records.

Faucets have many moving parts that can degrade, making leaks commonplace with enough time. There are four basic types of faucets, and each is repaired slightly differently. To stop a slow leak, first replace worn inside fittings (washers, gaskets, O-rings, cartridges and ceramic discs) and make sure they are secured tightly. You can likely find a tutorial online.

It’s also a good idea to remove mineral buildup in the aerator once a year by taking it out and soaking it in vinegar. If those steps don’t resolve the problem, hire a plumber.

Remember also to inspect faucets in your bathtub or shower, on the water heater, in laundry basins and utility sinks, as well as your home’s exterior.

Showerheads also can cause water issues, but fixing a leak is often as simple as using Teflon tape and a wrench to tighten the connection between the pipe stem and the showerhead. Replacing the washer or O-ring inside the showerhead may also do the trick. As with a faucet, it’s also wise to remove the showerhead annually and soak it in vinegar.

Leaks that aren’t resolved by these tricks may be caused by valves or other parts that a licensed plumber should tackle.

Look Outside

Sometimes water seeping in from outside can cause damage inside. When you search for the source of a leak, walk around your home to examine these possible offenders:

  • Water Supply Line: If there’s no rain but you find wet soil where the water line enters your home, there may be a leak in the line that runs between the meter and your home. The water utility should inspect the line and determine responsibility.
  • Sewer: Tree roots can invade and block drain lines, causing problematic (and smelly) sewer backups. Flush an enzyme drain treatment down the toilet each month in spring and summer. If this doesn’t help, hire a plumber to video-snake the system to look for problems.
  • Foundation: As your home settles, the shifting foundation can cause pipes to detach from each other and create leaks inside your walls. Check your walls frequently, especially those in the basement, and call a plumber if you find wet spots or cracks larger than one-sixteenth of an inch
  • Roof: Water stains in the attic or on the ceiling and upper walls may indicate a roof in need of repair. Roof leaks are most common in areas that get frequent hail, freezing temperatures or severe wind. Hire a roofing pro each spring—or after a major storm—to inspect your shingles and make necessary repairs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Admin. “How To Save Water At Home” Web blog post. Simple Insights, State Farm. 22 Sep 2017.

 

Removing Water From Your Home After A Flood.

Making a Flooded House into a Livable Home Again

House floods are terrible, catastrophic, and unfortunately, common in many parts of the world. The destructive power of water is amazing to behold from afar, but when it starts inching its way up to your doorstep or in though the basement, that same water becomes your nightmarish reality.

Flooded House

After the flood waters have receded, trying to pick up the pieces may seem daunting, but if you follow the right steps and put in some hard work, it’s not that hard to make your home liveable again. Here’s our guide to removing water from your home, and making it livable again.

Flood Water Contact Rules

Rule Number One: You should always assume that flood water is contaminated. This means that you need to wear appropriate gear when cleaning up your home and follow strict guidelines of how to deal with items that have come into contact with the water. Some of the most important rules to follow are:

  • Wear waterproof boots or waders and gloves.
  • Throw away any food (including canned goods) that have been in contact with flood water.
  • Disinfect after clearing away remaining water.
  • Clean and protect any bodily cuts.
  • Keep children and senior citizens away from flood water.
  • Bury any fecal matter you discover immediately.
  • Wash your hand thoroughly with soap before eating anything or touching your eyes and mouth.

Removing Flood Water from a Home

The first step when recovering from a flood is removing remaining water that is left inside your home. This can be done with a shop-vac or water pump that is specifically designed to suck up water, or it can be done the old-fashioned way with buckets. The key here is to get as much standing water out of your home as quickly you can.

If you decide to use a shop-vac, make sure you thoroughly read the instruction manual as you may need to remove the filter prior to use.

Maintaining a Drainage Environment

Although a flood will saturate a city or town’s drainage capacity, it will not be long before the infrastructure is capable of draining away remaining water. In order to utilize this, make sure that your home’s drains are clear of debris and that the water in and around your foundation has a clear path to the city sewage systems.

Additionally, it would be wise to make sure the street-gutters near your home are not blocked with debris. It’s very common for leaves and trash to accumulate around your drainage system in your street, preventing excessive amounts of water from draining in an efficient manner. If you keep this area clear of debris, the water will recede at a quicker pace.

Drying Out Your Home

Once all of the standing water has receded or been removed, you can begin the process of drying out your house and your possessions. Anything that can be removed from the house to dry in the sun (as long as it is not raining, obviously) should be removed immediately and set outside. If it is dry you should also open all of your home’s windows and doors to let the trapped moisture escape. It would also be wise to invest in an indoor dehumidifier to remove the evaporating moisture from your home.

A dehumidifier is the best tool you can use for this, but it would also be wise to put a couple of fans in the area to help speed up the drying process. The circulating air will help the drying process.

Looking for Trapped Mud or Water

Completely removing all trapped moisture will prevent mold and decay from causing serious problems for your home down the road. This is much easier said than done as you must remove baseboards, shower trays, and anything that has space beneath or behind it. Remove the mud you find and begin drying these areas immediately. Before replacing the fixtures, these spaces need to be completely dry.

The Risks of Allowing Trapped Moisture to Linger in Your Home

When looking at the flood waters bearing down on your home, the risks of floods are immediately apparent, but you might not be aware of how dangerous it is to let even a little moisture trapped in your home. Some of the risks of trapped water include:

  • Compromised Structural Integrity:

    Moisture locked in flooded home supports can cause the wood to rot, weakening its ability to hold up the weight of your house.

  • Illness Inducing Mold:

    Some molds can be deadly if they are left to grow in your home for too long. It is only after the surfaces of your house are completely dried that you can begin to bleach and clean up mold. If there is remaining moisture, mold will continue to grow.

  • Severely Depreciated Home Value:

    Although a flood will almost always make your house less valuable, you can minimize the loss by properly cleaning and drying out your home after a flood. If a prospective buyer finds that trapped water has created hazardous living conditions, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to sell your home when you wish to or for anywhere close to your asking price.

Home Sweet (and Dry) Home Again

By following the right steps, removing flood water from your home is easier than many people think. With the proper equipment, including a dehumidifier and water pump, you can make your home ready to live in even after something as terrible as a flood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeff Flowers. How to Remove Water From Your Home After A flood. Web blog post.  Learning Center, Compact Appliance. 5 Feb 2014. 18 Sep 2017

Returning Home After A Hurricane.

Preparing to return home after evacuating will keep you safer while inspecting and cleaning up the damage to your home. Before traveling, ensure local officials have declared that it’s safe to enter your community and that you have the supplies you will need. Follow the suggestions below for returning to, inspecting and cleaning your home.

Image result for after a hurricane

(Photo: Survival Life )

Before Returning

  • Find out if it is safe to enter your community or neighborhood. Follow the advice of your local authorities.
  • Carry plenty of cash. ATMs may not work and stores may not be able to accept credit or debit cards.
  • Bring supplies such as flashlights, batteries, bottled water and non- perishable foods in case utilities are out.
  • Create back-up communication plans with family and friends in case you are unable to call from affected areas.
  • Plan for delays when traveling. Bring extra food, water, pillows, blankets and other items that will make the trip more comfortable. Keep the fuel tank of your vehicle as full as possible in case gas stations are crowded, out of fuel or closed.
  • Carry a map to help you route around heavy traffic or impassable roads.
  • Find out if local medical facilities are open and if emergency services are functioning again. Do NOT call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number to do this.
  • Understand that recovery takes time. Focus on the positive and have patience. Others will have similar frustrations.

First Inspection

  • If possible, leave children and pets with a relative or friend. If not, keep them away from hazards and floodwater.
  • Beware of snakes, insects and other animals that may be in or around your home.
  • Before entering your home, look outside for damaged power lines, gas lines, foundation cracks and other exterior damage. It may be too dangerous to enter the home.
  • If you smell natural gas or propane, or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and contact the fire department.
  • If your home was flooded, assume it is contaminated with mold. Mold increases health risks for those with asthma, allergies or other breathing conditions.
  • Open doors and windows. If the house was closed more than 48 hours, let it air it out before staying inside for any length of time.
  • Turn the main electrical power and water systems off until you or a professional can ensure that they are safe. NEVER turn the power on or off, or use an electrical tool or appliance while standing in water.
  • Check the ceiling and floor for signs of sagging. Water may be trapped in the ceiling or floors may be unsafe to walk on.

Cleaning Your Home

  • Be careful when moving furnishings or debris, because they may be waterlogged and heavier.
  • Throw out all food, beverages and medicine exposed to flood waters and mud, including canned goods and containers with food or liquid that have been sealed shut. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Some cleaning solutions can cause toxic fumes and other hazards if mixed together. If you smell a strong odor or your eyes water from the fumes or mixed chemicals, open a window and get out of your home.
  • Throw out items that absorb water and cannot be cleaned or disinfected (mattresses, carpeting, cosmetics, stuffed animals and baby toys).
  • Remove all drywall and insulation that has been in contact with flood waters.
  • Clean hard surfaces (flooring, countertops and appliances) thoroughly with hot water and soap or a detergent.
  • Return to as many personal and family routines as possible.
  • Caution: Carbon Monoxide Kills
  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
  • The primary hazards to avoid when using alternate sources for electricity, heating or cooking are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock and fire.

Items to Take When Returning Home:

  • Government-issued photo ID and proof of address
  • Important phone numbers
  • Bottled water and non-perishable foods
  • First aid kit
  • Cleanser/hand cleaning gel for personal use
  • Hygiene products and toilet paper
  • Insect repellent and sunscreen
  • Long-sleeved shirts, long pants, sturdy waterproof boots and work gloves
    Flashlight, portable radio and extra batteries
  • Cameras for photos of damage for insurance claims

Using Generators Safely

  • When using a portable generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Do not connect a portable generator to a home’s electrical system.
  • If you are considering getting a generator, get advice from a professional, such as an electrician. Make sure that the generator you purchase is rated for the power that you think you will need.
  • Wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots.

Let Your Family Know You’re Safe

If your community has experienced a flood, or any disaster, register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well Web site available through RedCross.org to let your family and friends know about your welfare. If you don’t have Internet access, call 1-866-GET- INFO to register yourself and your family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Red Cross. “Returning Home After a Hurricane or Flood” Web blog post. Hurricane Central, The Weather Channel. 19 Sep 2014. 13 Sep 2017

Clean Up Safely After A Disaster

Highlights

  • Stay away from damaged buildings or structures that have not been examined and certified by an inspector.
  • Wear hard hats, goggles, heavy work gloves, and watertight boots with steel toe and insole cleanup work.
  • Carbon monoxide can cause illness and death.
  • Remove and discard items that cannot be washed and disinfected.
  • Never turn power on or off or use an electric tool or appliance while standing in water.

When returning to your home after a hurricane, flood, or other natural disaster protect yourself and your family by following these tips.

 

Reentering Buildings

  • Stay away from damaged buildings or structures until they have been examined and certified as safe by a building inspector or other government authority. You may want to wait to return to buildings during daylight hours, when it is easier to avoid hazards, particularly if the electricity is off and you have no lights.
  • Leave immediately if you hear shifting or unusual noises that signal that the structure may fall or if you smell gas or suspect a leak. If you smell gas, notify emergency authorities and do not turn on the lights, light matches, smoke, or do anything that could cause a spark. Do not return to the house until you are told it is safe to do so.
  • Keep children and pets out of the affected area until cleanup has been completed.

General Safety Measures

  • Have at least two fire extinguishers, each with a UL rating of at least 10A, at every cleanup job.
  • Wear hard hats, goggles, heavy work gloves, and watertight boots with steel toe and insole (not just steel shank) for cleanup work.
  • Wear earplugs or protective headphones to reduce risk from equipment noise.
  • Use teams of two or more people to move bulky objects. Avoid lifting any material that weighs more than 50 pounds (per person).
  • When using a chain saw, operate the saw according to the manufacturer’s instructions, wear appropriate protective equipment, avoid contact with power lines, be sure that bystanders are at a safe distance, and take extra care in cutting trees or branches that have gotten bent or caught under another object. Use extreme caution to avoid electrical shock when using an electric chain saw. For tips on safely operating a chain saw, see Preventing Chain Saw Injuries During Tree Removal After a Disaster(https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/chainsaws.html).
  • If there has been a backflow of sewage into your house, wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles during cleanup of the affected area.
  • In hot weather, try to stay cool by staying in air-conditioned buildings, taking breaks in shaded areas or in cool rooms, drinking water and nonalcoholic fluids often, and wearing light and loose-fitting clothing. Do outdoor activities during cooler hours. For more information on protecting yourself against heat-related illness, see the CDC Extreme Heat Web site(https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/index.html).

Carbon Monoxide Exposure

  • Never use generators, pressure washers, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning devices inside your home, basement, garage, or camper—or even outside near an open window, door, or vent. Carbon monoxide—an odorless, colorless gas from these sources that can cause sudden illness and death—can build up indoors and poison the people and animals inside.

For more information, see Carbon Monoxide Poisoning After a Disaster(https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/carbonmonoxide.html).

 

Mold and Cleanup

  • Remove and discard items that cannot be washed and disinfected (such as mattresses, carpeting, carpet padding, rugs, upholstered furniture, cosmetics, stuffed animals, baby toys, pillows, foam-rubber items, books, wall coverings, and paper products).
  • Remove and discard drywall and insulation that has been contaminated with sewage or flood waters.
  • Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces (such as flooring, concrete, molding, wood and metal furniture, countertops, appliances, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures) with hot water and laundry or dish detergent.

See Mold After a Disaster(https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/mold/), Homeowner’s and Renter’s Guide to Mold Cleanup After Disasters and the CDC Flood Web site(https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/floods/index.html) for further guidance on safely reentering flooded homes, cleaning up flood or storm water, worker safety issues, and mold cleanup issues.

Electrical Issues

  • If electrical circuits and electrical equipment have gotten wet or are in or near water, turn off the power at the main breaker or fuse on the service panel. If you must enter standing water to access the main power switch, then call an electrician to turn it off.
  • Never turn power on or off or use an electric tool or appliance while standing in water.
  • Do not connect generators to your home’s electrical circuits without the approved, automatic-interrupt devices. If a generator is on line when electrical service is restored, it can become a major fire hazard and it may endanger line workers helping to restore power in your area.

 

Hazardous Materials Issues

  • Call the fire department to inspect or remove chemicals, propane tanks, and other dangerous materials.
  • Wear protective clothing and gear (for example, a respirator if needed) when handling hazardous materials.
  • Wash skin that may have come in contact with hazardous materials.
  • Wear insulated gloves and use caution if you have to remove a car battery. Avoid any acid that may have leaked from a car battery.

 

Hygiene and Infectious Disease Issues

  • After completing the cleanup, wash with soap and water. If there is a boil-water advisory in effect, use water that has been boiled for 1 minute (allow the water to cool before washing). Or you may use water that has been disinfected for personal hygiene use (solution of 1/8 teaspoon of household bleach per 1 gallon of water). Let it stand for 30 minutes. If the water is cloudy, use a solution of 1/4 teaspoon of household bleach per 1 gallon of water.
  • If you have any open cuts or sores that were exposed to floodwater, wash them with soap and water and apply an antibiotic ointment to discourage infection.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if you become injured or ill.
  • Wash all clothes worn during the cleanup in hot water and detergent. These clothes should be washed separately from uncontaminated clothes and linens.

Water Issues

  • If the building is flooded, the waters may contain fecal material from overflowing sewage systems and agricultural and industrial waste. Although skin contact with floodwater does not, by itself, pose a serious health risk, there is risk of disease from eating or drinking anything contaminated with floodwater.
  • If you have any open cuts or sores that will be exposed to floodwater, keep them as clean as possible by washing them with soap and applying an antibiotic ointment to discourage infection. (See also Clean Hands Save Lives: Emergency Situations(https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/handhygienefacts.html) .)
  • To reduce cold–related risks when standing or working in water which is cooler than 75 degrees F (24 degrees C), wear insulated clothes and insulated rubber boots, take frequent breaks out of the water, and change into dry clothing when possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Admin. “Fact Sheet: Clean Up Safely After a Disaster” Web blog post. Disasters, Clean up. Centers For Disease Control And Prevention. 30 Aug 2017, 12 Sep 2017.