Spring and summer months can bring a lot of water damage to the southeastern United States. As the weather warms up, all kinds of storms roll in, bringing floods, leaks, and other types of damage. Not just this, but other types of water damage can show up at any time of year. If you’ve experienced one of these events in your home, you should know that decontamination after water damage is absolutely vital to your health and safety.
Most restoration tips tend to focus on what happens after your disaster is well underway. Today, we want to focus on how you can minimize damage and help make the best of a bad situation. First, you’ll want to contact a local restoration team as soon as you notice your home is flooded. They can take over and do things professionally as soon as they get there. Taking these five steps while they’re still on their way can help ease the entire process.
Crime scene cleanup can be traumatic and hazardous to your health. In the event of a violent crime, or even a suicide/homicide, the potential for bodily waste contamination is high. The sooner a space is cleaned, the sooner the property owner can begin to handle the difficulty of the event in question. Hiring a crime scene cleanup and restoration specialist gives you peace of mind and protects you from emotional and legal harm.
Duct cleaning is one of the most overlooked aspects of spring cleaning. But taking the time to get in there and drive out the pollens, dander, and dust can make a huge difference in your home. Cleaning out ducts can ease allergies and fight odor issues in the house. However, duct cleaning is tough to handle on your own. Professionals can really help get your home smelling fresh and allergen free.
Strong odors cause significant damage to the market value of your home. Even if you’re not trying to sell it, persistent odors can be damaging to your dinner parties and even your health. Thankfully, if your home has any persistent pet, smoke, or mold odors, there are some things you can do to tackle it on your own. However, if home odor removal doesn’t work out, you need to call a professional.
Don’t Mask the Odor
One thing that you want to be careful of is masking odors in your house. Most so-called “home odor removal” tips don’t wholly remove odors. Air fresheners are the worst offenders because they don’t fight the cause of odor. They mask it with other, stronger scents. Breathing too many chemicals isn’t always healthy. Worse, when those masking odors fade away, the offensive odor could come back gradually. Because the smell is gradual, it gives your nose a chance to get used to it. Sadly, you may never notice the scents creeping back while others who visit your home do.
Breaking Down Scents in Fabrics
The one good thing about pet odors is that you often know exactly what’s causing it. When your new puppy has an accident, it’s easy to find the source of the smell. One of the reasons pet odors linger is that we don’t always clean the area as well as we’d like. Urine, in particular, contains uric acid, which smells terrible and is difficult to clean! If you have a recent pet mess, now is the time to tackle it. Soak the area in some white vinegar. While the acidic vinegar smells even worse at first, it breaks down the uric acid. Simply flush the vinegar out with regular water and pat the area dry.
Set in uric acid is much more difficult to remove. With time, it soaks into the undercoating, making it difficult to reach in order to remove it for good. A deep cleaning is necessary to fix any lingering causes of odor.
Paint and Smoke Odor
Paint holds odors long after the cause has vanished. Cleaning a kitchen after a grease fire takes a lot of effort because the scent has actually soaked through to paint layers beneath the surface. Home odor removal can stump even dedicated DIYers. If you find yourself stumped, you need a professional cleaning service to help you. Professionals assess whether they need to strip your paint entirely, or if it’s possible for a professional cleaning to save it.
If you’re ready for a lot of work, one method to finally eliminate smoke odors in paint is to get rid of it. Strip the paint off the walls, treat the walls, and then paint over it. It’s a great thing to do if you were planning to remodel anyway. If you didn’t have that kind of time, speak to a professional.
Professional carpet cleaning can be truly transformative. A professional carpet cleaning service can bring a worn and dirty carpet back to nearly-new condition. Why can’t you do the same? If you’re frustrated with your lack of success cleaning your carpets yourself, it’s not your fault. There are reasons that professional carpet cleaning just looks better.
Professionals Know How to Work
Professional carpet cleaning teams hone their craft. Just like you’re better at your job than someone who would try to do it once a week, professional carpet cleaners are going to be better than you. They know the tricks of the trade. They understand how the weave of your carpet affects your cleaning. They know how to clean behind that one spot that your vacuum can never seem to reach. Knowing the tricks of the trade is one way that they have better results, but it’s not the only thing that they have going for them.
Different Suction Vacuums
Professionals can bring in professional equipment. Professional strength vacuums are actually built differently; they have stronger suction but also a different rolling design. A typical vacuum presses down on the carpet as it rolls across, preventing the suction from reaching deep down to the base of your carpet fibers. Professional vacuums reach deeper. They can also use steam or other additions to get your carpet sparkling clean. Remember how it looked when you moved in? It can be that way again! In fact, the way a professional vacuuming lifts and straightens your carpet fibers can increase the life expectancy of your carpet! Cleaning your carpet twice a year (professionally, you still should clean it the rest of the time) can be enough to get these benefits.
Fight Odor on a Molecular Level
The look and feel of your carpet is part of keeping it beautiful. The other aspect is the fresh scent that goes with it. Carpets can trap odors so deeply that you don’t even know they’re there. We get desensitized to odor over time. The people we invite into our homes? Not so much. Professional carpet cleaners use deionization technology to break down scents that have infiltrated your carpet. No more bad smells, and a fresh, clean new smell in the air when you get home.
If you can’t get your carpet “professionally cleaned fresh” on your own, don’t stress about it! You’re not a dirty person and you don’t have a problem keeping your home clean. The combination of professional experience and amazing, high-tech tools can’t be beaten. Professional carpet cleaning doesn’t have to break the bank or be done every week; schedule your cleanings for twice a year, and you’ll be able to use your lower-tech options to keep it acceptably clean between professional visits.
Pet stains and odors are very difficult to clean on your own. Even the best behaved animal has an accident now and then. Something as simple as a urinary tract infection, or age-related loss of muscle control, can lead to your usually well behaved pet embarrassing themselves. Unfortunately, tackling these issues on your own can lead to unsightly stains and embarrassing odors in your home. This is a result of uric acid, the smelliest part of urine. Uric acid is difficult to break down with cleaners. Additionally, you become desensitized to the smell and may not realize it’s lingering on. Improper cleanup could encourage your pet to go again. If you have a problem with pet stains in your house, call a professional to end the cycle.
Uric Acid is Resistant to Cleaners
Urine is a complicated substance. As mentioned earlier, the part of it that gives you that distinctly “urine” odor is uric acid. It has a sharp, unpleasant odor that lingers on anything that it gets into, making it difficult to get rid of. Most cleaners work by breaking down the chemical substance that causes an odor, enabling you to just wipe away the moisture. Uric acid can stand up to some of the toughest common cleaners. That leaves you with options like soaking your carpet in diluted hydrogen peroxide, which usually works–but frequently damages your carpet and discolors it as well.
To really attack the uric acid in your carpet, you need a professional cleaning service. A professional cleaning service has access to technology that makes it easier to attack smells on a molecular level. A steam cleaner, coupled with strong cleansers, can break down uric acid and clean it away, getting rid of the odor at the source.
You Become Desensitized
When you spend too much time smelling a strong odor, you become desensitized to it. Your brain decides to ignore some of the data that your nose is giving it in order to focus on new and changing information. Your brain’s boredom with the status quo works against you when it comes to pet stains and odor. When you can’t smell the problem, you may think that a little spot isn’t so bad. It is, and anyone who visits your home (and thus, isn’t used to the smell) would agree.
Improper Cleaning just Makes Things Worse
Not cleaning your carpets all the way creates a feedback loop with your pet. In a perfect world, your pet would always be able to go outside or in their litter box. In real life, once they’ve had an accident it gives them conflicting ideas, especially if you didn’t properly clean the spot. They know they’re not supposed to go inside, but their nose is telling them that they already did. Unfortunately, it draws them back to the same spot the next time they don’t want to hold it to their litter box or their evening walk.
Pet stains are difficult to clean because of the chemicals in them. Uric acid doesn’t break down easily, which leads to a strong, offensive odor that wears you out after a few days. You might think the problem is solved, but your pet things they now have a cool indoor bathroom–and will treat your home as such. A professional cleaning can end this cycle and get your home back on track.
Some water damage is caused by a force of nature. There is, realistically, nothing you could have done to stop your neighbor’s tree from crashing into your house, or the river from flooding. Most water damage is not caused by a catastrophe, however. Most water damage that homeowners face could have been prevented if they hadn’t made some of these simple mistakes.
1. Don’t Let Their Faucets Drip on Cold Nights
Burst pipes are a major source of water damage. You don’t control the weather, but you can control how vulnerable your pipes are to the cold temperatures. In addition to wrapping exposed pipes and adding insulation to your house, you want to be sure to let your faucets drip when the temperatures dip into the record lows. Moving water is much less likely to freeze, and in the unlikely event that your pipes freeze anyway, the open tap allows the ice to expand that way rather than having nowhere to go but out.
2. Don’t Maintain Appliances
If your old dishwasher hasn’t seen a day of maintenance in ten years, you’re begging for a disaster. Regular maintenance can prolong the life of your appliances, and also put off the day they belch water out all over your kitchen floor and you have to deal with the water damage. Any appliance that draws water has the potential to ruin your day–get them checked up at the first sign of trouble, and consider scheduled maintenance to be sure nothing’s sneaking up on you.
3. Let Grout Cracks Go Unfilled
Cracked grout in your kitchen or bathroom is more than just an inconvenience. It can lead to a widespread moisture problem. A little missing grout can allow water to seep in under your tile. Germs and mold can flourish and spread.
The good news is grout maintenance isn’t difficult. Keep a jar of your grout handy and learn how to apply it yourself. Tackling a crack right when it happens is much easier than dealing with a large break (plus water damage) down the line. You don’t have to be a handyman to keep your house in great shape!
4. Plant Heavily Irrigated Plants Close to Their Walls
A lush garden is a dream for many, but how you organize it can impact your foundation’s health. If you’re going to be planting anything that needs a lot of water, keep it away from your walls. Drenching your foundation regularly can lead to it warping or cracking over time. While it won’t happen overnight, it’s the kind of thing to keep in mind when you’re designing or redesigning your landscaping.
5. Habitual Carelessness
At the end of the day, it’s the little things that you don’t tackle that will catch up to you. Letting a “little” leak in the roof remain because it only leaks when it’s really raining hard. Not wiping up puddles on your kitchen floor because it’s just a little water, no big deal. Simple things like not checking if you closed the attic window until after a big storm can add up. Make a checklist of the most commonly forgotten areas in your home and make sure you’re checking on them regularly.
Don’t put off fixing things around your house. A little leak today could be a flood tomorrow. Water damage gets worse the longer it goes on, so fix problems as they occur. A dab of grout and a little dishwasher maintenance can keep your home water damage free for a long time.
There are a lot of factors that go into a restoration company’s success. A company can’t succeed without good workers and the equipment to get the job done. The company has to be good at estimating costs and keeping a time commitment to projects. However, good restoration companies with the right tools still fail if they can’t deliver excellent customer service. Clients won’t be at their best when they call; communication is key to managing expectations. Caring, clear customer service dedicated to the best possible outcome is the only way to get ahead.
Clients Won’t be at Their Best When They Call
The vast majority of a restoration company’s clients are going to be in crisis when they call you. They just came back from vacation and found that a pipe burst while they were gone. A storm took out half their roof and rained on family heirlooms. A property manager just found out that their renter has been smoking inside the house and the smell is everywhere. This is not a good day for them. They never planned on talking to you, and now that they are, they don’t particularly enjoy it. It’s harsh, but true.
Good customer service will turn their panic into confidence. It responds to their emotions without getting emotional in return. It takes a negative situation and offers hope: there is a way out, and it’s your services. If your customer service can’t make clients feel confident, you’re going to have trouble getting good reviews.
Managing Expectations is Key
The true cause of disappointment in the world is unmet expectations. Great customer service involves good communication. It makes sure the client knows that the estimates you offered were realistic, but not absolute. It’s common sense that if you uncover more damage, your restoration will take longer, but some clients don’t know. They might think that your estimate is a worst case scenario or any number of honest to wishful-thinking related misunderstandings. Master customer service and clear communication and you’ll save yourself (and your clients) a lot of headaches.
Better Service Means a Smooth Insurance Experience
You may be great at cleaning up water damage, but if you’re not good at providing documentation to insurance companies you’re going to go out of work fast. No client wants a bad insurance experience. You’re not able to control what the insurance company does, but a prompt response to any requests for documentation is the bare minimum. Remember, the sooner the claim is settled, the happier your client will be.
Clients are vulnerable when they call restoration companies. They’re fighting something terrible that’s happened to them. It takes excellent customer service to assure them of your skills and get them to fully understand your estimates. Manage their expectations to keep everyone on the same page. Most of all, respond promptly to all requests for documentation. Providing responsive, clear, and confident customer service will keep your clients happy and your business running smoothly.
Hoarding cleanup is a difficult subject for many reasons. For one, when a hoarder seeks help, they are especially vulnerable. Cleanup should happen quickly and painlessly, but that’s not always possible for hoarders to accomplish on their own. Friends and family can band together, but this can be embarrassing for the hoarder and dangerous for the volunteers. Alternatively, professionals can work efficiently, compassionately, and have the ability to clean up any biohazards they encounter in the cleanup process.
Potential Biohazards May Lurk
One of the greatest risks with hoarding cleanup is that you never know what you’re going to find. The piles are often undisturbed for years or decades. As a result, hoarding often leads to significant mold growth. The untouched piles also provide the perfect place for pests to make their home. Reaching blindly into stacks can be a dangerous proposition. Thankfully, professional cleaners possess the gear to make hoarding cleanup safe. From face masks to the right kind of gloves for the right kind of mess, professionals are in a better position to safely clean up anything they encounter.
Efficiency is Key
As you can clearly see, hoarding cleanup is a massive undertaking. Whether you’re dealing with a large estate or a small apartment, the amount of work that is needed feels overwhelming. That’s part of the reason that hoarders don’t reach out for help, Cleaning up in one fell swoop is the best way to deal with hoarding cleanup, but even the most dedicated friends and family can get burned out trying to get it done.
Professionals know how to work quickly. They also know how to clean efficiently, so that things are taken care of with as little conflict as possible. Meaning that cleanup includes sanitizing areas immediately after removing the hoarded items. The work doesn’t stop at taking out the trash. Hoarding cleanup also involves shampooing carpets and eliminating odors. When you work with professionals, they handle the whole job, from item collection to rug cleaning.
Compassionate but Impersonal Care is Best
Hoarders may be distressed by the prospect of cleaning. In addition to their own emotions related to letting go of items they’ve protected, they also suffer from a fear of judgment. For many hoarders, it’s easier to have a professional clean their home because the work completed is impartial. While professionals should be compassionate and understanding towards the hoarder, ultimately their opinion won’t matter to the hoarder the same way a family member’s or a friend’s opinion would. Distance is sometimes the best thing.
Hoarding cleanup can be very demanding. You never know what biohazards may be lurking inside a formerly safe pile. However, professionals possess the tools to handle all parts of hoarding cleanup. They tackle everything from item removal to cleaning the rugs and eliminating odors. Best of all, some hoarders find the impersonal professionalism much easier to bear than the caring of friends and family who would otherwise have to do the cleaning with them.