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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 protect yourself from hurricane repair scams.

Homeowners affected by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey have already absorbed a body blow from damaged homes and lost possessions.

Now, they’re bracing for another: repair scams.

After weather calamities, fraudsters — also known as “storm chasers” — exploit the severe strain on insurance companies. In affected cities, like Houston, due to the extent of damage, insurers have had to recruit independent claims adjusters, some from out of state. This gives scammers an opportunity to sell themselves to unsuspecting homeowners.

The overall bill will be steep: The cost of Irma and Harvey will range between $150 billion to $200 billion, including property damage and lost output.

While filing insurance claims, consumers should keep detailed records of communications, and be wary of potential scammers.

“If you find yourself in a situation where you signed the dotted line without checking with your insurance company first, give them a call,” Chris Hackett, senior director at the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, told CNBC.

Government assistance is available

In the meantime, government agencies are stepping in. U.S. attorneys in four Florida districts have formed fraud task forces. The National Center for Disaster Fraud, formed in response to Hurricane Katrina, also has a hotline.

Also in Florida, the nonprofit Citizens Property United, which provides insurance for homeowners who can’t obtain private coverage, has warned policyholders to “be wary of unlicensed contractors or deals that sound too good to be true.”

Other organizations, such as the Better Business Bureau, make public consumers’ accounts of scams. Victims of fraud are encouraged to report incidents, too.

“It’s terrible that there are people who will take advantage of storm victims, but we see it all the time at BBB,” said spokeswoman Katherine Hutt. “Storm victims need to protect themselves and be vigilant.”

“If someone shows up at your house unannounced and claims to be an insurance adjuster, do not invite them into your home. Ask for company ID. If they don’t have any, ask them to leave your property and shut the door,” Hutt said. “If they do have identification, call your insurance company to verify. Don’t give them any information until you’ve confirmed their identity, and never give them any money.”

Beware that phony insurance adjusters and contractor scammers will frequently insert themselves between homeowners and insurance companies, according to Angie Hicks, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Angie’s List, a home-services consumer-review site.

For homeowners, here are some precautions to take:

  1. File a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible.
  2. Document the destruction. Take detailed, interior and exterior photos of your home, said Hicks.
  3. Don’t hire just any contractor or adjuster. “The first impulse might be to hire the first contractor who comes along,” Hackett said. Ask for proof of identity, Hicks said.
  4. Pay via credit card or check to create a paper trail. No cash.
  5. Pay for repairs incrementally. “Don’t pay for all work upfront before work begins,” Hackett said.
  6. Do your homework. Research consumer-review sites. Consult with trustworthy people — family, friends, neighbors — before hiring a contractor.
  7. Get several estimates on the cost of damages.
  8. Continue to pay your mortgage. Doing so protects your credit score and helps you avoid defaulting on a loan. Also ask your insurance agent and bank to explain what’s covered versus what’s negotiable. “These are extenuating circumstances, so ask for leeway on what is most important to you; the worst they can say is no,” Hicks said.
  9. Try to limit further damage. “Protect or repair what you can, but keep all receipts for materials to give to your adjuster,” Hicks said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natalie Daher. “How to protect yourself from hurricane repair scams.” Web blog post. Personal Finance, CNBC. 20 Sep 2017. 26 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.

Before A Hurricane Hits.

Following a hurricane evacuation plan helps keep you and your family safe. Protect the property you leave behind with these hurricane preparation tips:

Reinforce the structure

Before a hurricane hits, add strength to the structure of your home to help prevent wind and water damage.

·         Help prevent broken windows. But don’t tape them. Instead, install impact-resistant permanent storm shutters for the best protection during a hurricane. If those are not an option, add permanent fasteners to windows so protective plywood panels can quickly be put in place.

·         Brace the roof. Follow instructions from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for installing braces at the gables or through the trusses of the roof. Attach hurricane clips at the studs and rafters. Use polyurethane sealant and stainless steel screws to secure soffits to the walls and fascia.

·         Keep shingles secure. Ask a roofing professional to set extra roofing cement under shingles to keep them in place during a hurricane.

·         Waterproof the basement. Fill cracks with hydraulic cement, and coat walls with waterproof masonry cement.

·         Protect the garage. Retrofit garage doors with vertical boards, install hurricane-resistant garage doors or use a steel bracing kit to support the door against wind pressure.

·         Avoid damage to doors. Ensure all entry doors have three hinges and a dead bolt lock with at least a one-inch bolt throw length.

·         Seal small openings. Add caulk to any cracks or holes where cables, pipes or wires enter your home.

Image result for house prepared for hurricane

Remove excess from the exterior

·         Store any non-secure items or non-structural elements from around your property, such as:

·         Patio furniture

·         Grills

·         Garbage bins

·         Porch swings

·         Landscaping ornaments, such as sculptures or bird baths

·         If you own a boat, follow these tips to protect it during a hurricane

Protect against extreme conditions

Be prepared for any situation.

·         Trim trees and bushes to make them more wind resistant.

·         Clear gutters of any debris so water can flow freely.

·         Apply sealant around windows and doors.

·         Consider flood or wind insurance to help you recover from hurricane damage.

·         Protect utilities ” such as your furnace and electrical panel ” by turning them off right before you evacuate. If possible, move utilities to the second level of your home.

·         Unplug electronics before you leave.

·         When preparing your home for extreme weather, it’s also important to review your insurance coverage, create or update your home inventory and plan your evacuation route. Find more hurricane safety tips here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Admin. “Follow This Hurricane Evacuation Plan” Web blog post. Simple Insights: Safety. State Farm Insurance. 7 Sep 2017.

 

How To Prepare An Emergency Kit.

Hurricane Irma could hit the United States by this weekend, meaning now is the time for coastal residents — along both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico — to prepare.

Irma strengthened to a Category 5 storm Tuesday morning, the National Hurricane Center said, with sustained winds of 175 mph.

AccuWeather meteorologist Dave Samuhel issued a warning on Monday: “Have emergency supplies ready.”

Here’s what to pack in an emergency kit and additional steps to take ahead of a hurricane, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Emergency kits should combine basic staples (food, water) with supplies reflecting your family’s unique needs, such medications or baby formula.

Water: First and foremost, store at least three gallons of water per person — enough to last each three days. If you think you’ll be cut off longer, add an extra gallon per person per day.

Cash: Banks and ATMs could shut down. Power outages render debit and credit cards useless.

Documents: Keep copies of key documents in a waterproof, easy-to-carry container. These include identification such as passports and Social Security cards as well as insurance policies and bank account records.

Medications: Keep a one-week supply of prescription medications plus any over-the-counter items like pain relievers and antacids.

Food: Lay in a three-day supply of canned foods and dry mixes — nothing that needs refrigeration. Avoid thirst-inducing foods, and remember the dietary needs of those around you, including infants (ready-to-feed formula) and pets. Secure a hand-operated can opener.

Sanitation: Think moist towelettes, garbage bags and diapers. Consider paper goods such as plates and cups as well as plastic utensils.

Backup phone batteries: Extra batteries for your devices, also called portable power banks, could prove essential in a power outage. Here’s how to prep your smartphone for disasters.

Additional items: Flashlights with spare batteries, blankets, a first aid kid and NOAA weather radios are all recommended.

FEMA offers an extensive printable checklist for all-purpose emergency supply kits, too.

The agency also recommends tailoring supplies to whether you plan to evacuate or stay put at home, and to sign up for local alerts (just Google your city or country name plus “alerts”).

 

 

 

Josh Hafner, USA TODAY. Hurricane Irma: How to prepare an emergency kit. web blog post. News, USA Today. 5 Sep. 2017