Can Belongings Be Restored After House Fires?
After a fire is extinguished and the occupants are safety, quickly assessing damage is important. There are two types of damage that restoration technicians document when arriving on site. One is structural loss, which is damage to the walls, flooring, roofing, or foundation of the home. The other is contents loss, which is damage to personal items inside of the home such as furniture, artwork, appliances, and electronics.
The SERVPRO of West Palm Beach approach is to restore rather than replace because we understand the original item holds a unique value. If you have recently experienced a fire, call our SERVPRO office at 567-795-5410.
When arriving at the scene of a home or business after a fire, the SERVPRO technicians begin by completing a Contents Claim Inventory. This service provides a detailed and accurate list of all belongings. This inventory includes photos and an accurate report that can make the insurance claims process quicker.
While some personal property insurance coverage can include replacement for the contents of a home, they typically include cost limitations. The payment for replacing contents can be capped and potentially may not cover the entirety of the home’s damages. These policies tend to also include a storage coverage limitation if belongings need to be moved and stored while home restoration is underway. SERVPRO of West Palm Beach offers pack out and storage services that protect items and allow for a quicker reconstruction process.
You can save money and sentimental belongings with the contents restoration services our team offers. Our methods protect belongings from being further damaged. Electronics can be restored through a careful process of qualified electronics technicians removing smoke residues. Document drying can be achieved through air drying, dehumidification, freezer drying, and vacuum freeze or thermal drying.
A few of the methods we use to clean contents include:
- Dry Cleaning - Used for cleaning light residues or to pre-clean prior to wet cleaning.
- Wet Cleaning - An effective cleaning method for removing moderate to heavy residues.
- Spray and Wipe -Effective for items that cannot withstand wet cleaning.
- Foam Cleaning - Used for upholstery fabrics that might shrink or bleed if wet-cleaned.
- Abrasive Cleaning - Involves agitation of the surface being cleaned.
- Immersion Cleaning - Contents are dipped into a bath of the cleaning product.
For more information on fire services and to find fire damage tips, visit the fire damage section of our website.
Will My Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?
When water damage affects your home, quick action is needed to mitigate the issues. Repairs can become tricky when determining whether to put in a claim with an insurance company. It is important to periodically review your insurance policies to understand what coverage you have and what maintenance is expected of the insurance company.
Typically, the determining factor in insurance paying for a water damage claim is whether the damage occurred accidentally. Damage that develops over time is seen by most insurance companies as negligence by the resident. Negligence is failure to act in a reasonable way in a circumstance that leads to damage. If the insurance company gathers evidence to show that the water damage did occur and worsen over a certain period, it can deny claim coverage.
Other factors that could deter insurance companies from covering water damage claims:
- If the water came from an external or outside source (such as ground water that travels through a building or foundation walls)
- If the water is from storm damage such as: flood water damage, runoff surface water, or spray from flooded areas. This specific water damage source would be covered under a flood insurance policy that is separate from a homeowners insurance policy. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maintains a specific definition of flood water.
- If the water came from sewer or drain backups.
- Poor maintenance of property.
- If water damage is from a leaking roof. If the leak is new, then the insurance company may cover the cost of internal structural damage. Typically roof damage is not covered in homeowners policies so it is important to verify the specific verbiage in your policy.
Quick and sudden water damage usually indicates an accident has occurred. These types of accidents include plumbing problems, vandalism, accidental overflow from appliances (sometimes), and water damage from the extinguishing of a fire.
Mold damage is a common issue in South Florida due to the humidity and rainy seasons. Mold can sometimes be included in a homeowners policy but it is circumstantial. Homeowners will usually have to prove that accidental water damage led to mold growth in the home. Seek guidance from insurance agents on how to prevent mold in your home. Take precautions by monitoring and maintaining mold hotspots in your West Palm Beach home such as bathrooms. For more information on mold damage and mold remediation, visit the SERVPRO of West Palm Beach information webpage on mold.
Water damage can occur at any time. Asses the risks to your home and community in case you decide you would like to add on certain clauses or extra coverage to your insurance policies. In the event of a water emergency, call the SERVPRO of West Palm Beach experts at 561-795-5410 to respond with emergency services.
Fourth of July Fire Safety
Independence Day is approaching and while gatherings are becoming a part of normal activity again, safety should be a part of everyone’s holiday plans. One of the most pressing safety concerns for the holiday is fire safety.
Fireworks are not only a fire hazard to homes and buildings, but they also can cause serious injuries. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission of America, fireworks were involved with approximately 10,000 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments in 2019. Fire and smoke damage threatens your home and belonging as well as your general health.
A safe way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a show where professionals can control the environment. On Sunday evening the City of West Palm Beach will host their annual fireworks show, 4th on Flagler, which will also be broadcasted live. If you do choose to create your own fireworks experience at home, it is important to take safety precautions and have an emergency plan.
Setting off fireworks at home
- Set up the launch site on a driveway or paved area at least 25 feet away from homes and flammable materials (dry brush or dry grass).
- Always have water on hand.
- Wear safety glasses when lighting off fireworks.
- Be aware of wind conditions. Rearrange shooting site if wind shifts, to prevent material blowing toward spectators or homes.
- Make sure any fire extinguishers you have are up to date and review instructions on how to operate them.
- Keep people and pets away from the launch site.
- Do not light or handle malfunctioning fireworks.
- Douse the used fireworks in a bucket of water before discarding them.
- Review list of emergency contact numbers:
- Never light sparklers inside.
- Hold lit sparklers at arm’s length.
- Drop spent sparklers in water as they can remain hot long after they burn out.
- Do not run with, throw or hand a lit sparkler to someone.
- Only grill outside. Position the grill in an open area away from the house and anything else that could catch fire.
- Don’t put starter fluid on charcoal coals that are already lit.
- Never leave a grill unattended.
Create a disaster response plan in case of fire, smoke, and odor damage
After a fire is extinguished emergency service is needed to address the fire damage left behind. The SERVPRO of West Palm Beach team of certified technicians respond to emergencies with care and quality service. Our 24 hour service provides a quick response at any time of day or night. We offer inspection and fire damage assessments, upholstery and fabric cleaning, fire and smoke restoration, odor and soot removal and repairs. We help restore the condition of your home and its contents, which will also restore your peace of mind.
Call 561-795-5410 to find out more about fire, smoke, or soot damage and to learn more about our 24 hour emergency service.
House Fire Prevention Tips
Fire events of any size can lead to long-lasting damage and loss. It is important to have a fire prevention plan that includes a fire response team and fire restoration service to help with the aftermath of a fire. A proper house fire emergency plan should include the following:
- Routine smoke detector tests
- Exit plans and rehearsal of an evacuation
- Determine a meeting place outside of the home
- Operational all-purpose extinguisher (labeled “ABC”)
- Make digital copies of important documents
- A plan to teach children in the household how to check doors for heat (using the back of their hand) and to travel low to the ground to avoid smoke while traveling to one of the exits
Fire damage threatens people, the structure of a home, and the belongings inside of the home, otherwise known as a home’s contents. Be sure to have clarity on any insurance policies you have and any fire protections they may have. Fire water damage from a water source that extinguished a fire (such as a sprinkler system or high-powered hose) could lead to extensive mold issues. Water cleanup services will be needed to protect walls and flooring.
There are different types of smoke that can linger after a fire such as wet smoke, fuel smoke, dry smoke, and protein smoke. It may be tempting to try to clean up the visible residue that these types of smoke leave behind, but it could lead to more damage if not done by a trained specialist. Smoke damage can have soot seep into porous areas. Our SERVPRO of West Palm Beach technicians provide thorough fire cleanup and fire restoration services that carefully remove odor, soot, and smoke.
When it is time to conduct fire damage repair and rebuilding, SERVPRO of West Palm Beach can make your home comfortable. With the help of subcontractors such as locally-owned Service Resource, we transform a fire damaged West Palm Beach home into a comfortable space again.
For more information on fire safety visit FEMA’s fire prevention information and review our page on fire damage.
Preventing Water Disasters in Commercial Buildings
Commercial buildings serve many purposes from office buildings and retail spaces to residences and hotels. Regardless of the building use, these large spaces have interconnected systems that make water damage potentially dangerous and widespread. Prevention is crucial to maintain the integrity of the business and safety of the people inside. Here are some guidelines for preventing water disasters in a commercial building.
Reexamine the Roof Often
The roof is the barrier between the rain and storms. Protect the most vulnerable part of your building by keeping on top of roof repairs. While repairs can become expensive, the investment in the short-term helps prevent the high cost of water damage restoration for an entire building later. Commercial roofs often include HVAC equipment and other building equipment, which if damaged, could lead to cascading effect to floors below. Water intrusion is particularly threatening during heavy rains and storm season.
- Check rooftop penetrations and HVAC systems regularly.
- Look for any water stain marks, which could be a sign of roof issues.
- Inspect roof drains monthly.
- Be sure the drain outlets are free of debris.
Be Maintenance-Minded and Inspect the Property Regularly
It is important to diagnose and repair issues within a building efficiently and consistently. Water is pervasive and persistent. Building operations should include a complete routine checkup of all systems that are vulnerable to water damage and other emergencies. Catching issues early on will also minimize the cost needed to fix problems.
A maintenance plan should include inspection of:
- Plumbing, drains, mitigation
- Wall Systems
- Heating and cooling systems
- Sewer issues
Be Prepared to Respond Quickly to Water Damage Events
While proper planning can help prevent water damage, some water events such as storm damage, are unavoidable. Know the process for filing claims with your insurance agency in the case of unpreventable water emergencies.
Choose a certified, qualified cleanup and restoration company like SERVPRO of West Palm Beach. have 24/7 response team that is available to respond to water damage, mold remediation, storm damage and restoration needs.
Maintain a rehearsed emergency response plan, like those developed for free by SERVPRO of West Palm Beach specialists in the Emergency Response Profile (ERP). It includes: a profile document that contains only critical information needed in the event of emergency, facility details such as shut-off valve locations, priority areas, and priority contact information.
Water issues can lead to extensive damage and mold infestations later. Prepare with routine maintenance, repairs, listening to concerns of tenants, and developing a thorough disaster preparedness plan. Call SERVPRO of West Palm Beach today at 561-795-5410 for assistance and visit our blog for more tips.
Storm Season Preparation for Hotels and Resorts
Hotels are often viewed as a sanctuary during a storm crisis. To keep operations running efficient when a hurricane hits the West Palm Beach area, proper planning is required.
Seek Guidance from Insurance Providers.
Understand the specifics of your coverage and seek guidance via checklists or other information your provider can offer you. Insurance companies have a shared interest of minimizing any storm damage, fire damage, water damage, or need for restoration.
Develop a Plan. Communicate it to Employees and Visitors.
The best way to ensure customer trust and employee cooperation is to begin preparation before an immediate threat of a storm arises. It is helpful to review hotel policies for any modifications that may better serve the comfort of guests (pet or cancellation polices) or the safety of the staff (hours of operation, and evacuation plans). Inform guests of the policy changes and procedures upon booking their stay. Mutual aid agreements with other businesses or hotels outside of the evacuation zone could provide a stable backup plan.
Let the Professionals Build A Preparedness Plan.
SERVPRO West Palm Beach offers water damage restoration for commercial businesses. We develop an Emergency Ready Profile (ERP) to streamline the process of emergency response. Our Emergency Ready Profile is a resource to help guide you through disaster and prevent the situation from escalating and a path toward restoration. An ERP can include:
- A complete profile document that contains only critical information needed in the event of emergency.
- Establishes SERVPRO West Palm Beach as your disaster mitigation and restoration provider.
- Provides facility details such as shut-off valve locations, priority areas, and priority contact information.
- Identification of the line of command for authorizing work to begin.
- A no-cost assessment of your facility.
- The user-friendly SERVPRO Ready Plan app, which is a mobile application that provides quick, portable access to your plan that was prepared by the SERVPRO West Palm beach team.
- Through this app you can submit water damage claims at the touch of a button and the SERVPRO West Palm Beach team can quickly process and respond to the request.
The ERP is not only beneficial for hotel/ resort managers and SERVPRO West Palm Beach. If other vendors need to come to the property to assist with repairs, they will have access to this thorough guide including shut-off valve locations, priority areas and priority contact information.
Refresh Your List of Community Resources.
Keep a close watch on all alerts issued by authorities. Plan as if a hurricane path near the hotel perimeter will hit and treat “watch” statuses to “warning.” This helps the hotel and resort teams to feel calm and prepared if a situation worsens.
For national storm updates, follow the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
For Local Evacuation Zone Tools Visit Palm Beach County’s web page for Hurricane Preparedness Information in Palm Beach County
To learn more about fire/water damage, and water damage restoration visit our blog
To learn what to do if you are experiencing a water damage emergency, read our tips for emergency water damage.
24/7 Emergency Water Damage Services
Are you experiencing a water emergency? We are here to help you, no matter the time of day or night!
Don’t wait for the damage to spread throughout the home. We are faster to any size disaster. If water is present in your home call our team immediately! The long-term effects water damage could be worse than the event itself.
Call SERVPRO West Palm Beach at 561-795-5410 for immediate, local 24/7 response for your water damage emergency.
Do not hesitate or wait until morning. With SERVPRO of West Palm Beach we are available any time of day, helping you get ahead of the water damage before it gets worse.
Call us immediately if you are experiencing:
- A burst pipe
- Overflowing toilet, sink, or tub
- A water heater or dishwasher malfunction
- Sewage backup
- Or any other commercial or residential water damage emergency!
Call Us Now At – 561-765-5410
And our experienced team will be on our way to you.
REMEMBER, You Need IMMEDIATE Attention - to Your Water Damage Emergency
- Our water damage response team is available to you around the clock and will respond quickly anywhere in Palm Beach County.
- Our highly trained employees are IICRC-certified and provide prompt, professional service.
- Our experienced team uses state-of-the-art equipment to handle ANY water damage situation.
- As soon as we arrive, our team will immediately begin the water damage restoration process.
- The long-term effects of water damage can be worse than the event itself.
Call Us Now – Operators Are Standing By
You can always expect our team to:
- Work quickly and efficiently, ensuring your home does not suffer from any prolonged or secondary water damage
- Walk you through every step of the process and what to expect
- Work and communicate with your insurance company
- Be highly professional, understanding, and trustworthy
If you have a water emergency, give us a call no matter the time or day! We are available 24/7 to help anyone in the Palm Beach County area.
Can Residents Expect a Hurricane in West Palm Beach During the 2021 Storm Season?
Don't rely on chances - be prepared!
Last year West Palm Beach and Florida in general were spared from any major hurricane making landfall, during a year that not only brought a pandemic but one of the most active hurricane seasons we have seen.
Florida’s hurricane season in 2021 may not bring such luck. Conditions in both the Atlantic and Pacific, warm subtropical waters and the absence of El Nino, along with the a shift in the Bermuda/Azores air patterns, are all calling in favor for a major storm to hit the East Coast hard.
Many scientists, hurricane forecasters and local officials are concerned that Floridian residents may not properly prepare for this season, leaving them especially vulnerable to hurricane damage to their homes and businesses.
2020 Hurricane Season Recap
Though there were no major hurricanes in West Palm Beach that made landfall, Florida did have a few brushes with storms in 2020. In September, Hurricane Sally made landfall in Alabama, rains and winds severely impacted the Florida Panhandle, causing hurricane damage from 121 mph wind gusts and storm surge flooding. It took until November 8th , the last month of the hurricane season, for Hurricane Eta to be the first major storm to make landfall in Florida, mostly affecting the Florida keys.
What to Expect in 2021
As of April this year, experts are calling for an above-average season.
- 17 named storms
- 8 Hurricanes
- 4 major hurricanes
This season is definitely a lot less active than compared to 2020, which had 30 storms, though that does not rule out the 45% chance of a major storm making landfall in Florida and causing major hurricane damage. For this reason, experts and local officials are warning residents and business owners not to give in to a false sense of security and prepare now.
What to Remember
Peak season is not until July and the accuracy of how many storms we will actually get is not known until then. However, extra caution for this year should be taken especially after West Palm Beach residents have not only had to endure a pandemic but also being deemed the 14th place for one of the wettest and warmest years on record.
With rainy season starting May 15th, it is vital to begin preparations now for both your family and property:
- Create a disaster kit with enough non-perishable food, water, hygienic other safety items that will last for at least 3 days for your entire household.
- Start securing your property for potential hurricane damage. This includes checking for leaks during heavy rains or potential flood areas and begin mitigation.
- Have an evacuation plan in the case it is ever needed. Know what shelters are in your area.
- Create a list of important contacts that will prove useful before, during and after a hurricane in West Palm Beach. These contacts may include your utility vendors, insurance agent, local emergency departments, contractors like plumbers or damage restoration providers, neighbors, family , and friends.
After so many changes in 2020 to for West Palm Beach residents and business owners, 2021 is not the year to go unprepared for hurricane season. Make a hurricane preparedness plan today!
Have You Cleaned Your HVAC Recently?
What Is HVAC Cleaning?
HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning. HVAC cleaning is important when it comes to ensuring your system is working efficiently and safely for you and your office. When it comes to cleaning your HVAC system, most people are referring to air duct cleaning. The air ducts are passageways that transport cooled and heated air throughout your office and require regular maintenance. According to the National Airduct Cleaners Association (NADCA) it is recommended that air duct cleaning happen every 3 to 5 years.
Why Air Duct Cleaning Is Necessary
Did you know that the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) states that indoor air can be up to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air? Impurities such as mold and other pollutants can build up over time in your air ducts and as a result will circulate throughout your office potentially putting your clients and employees in harms-way.
As we all know, mold loves to grow in dark damp environments, and your HVAC system provides the perfect setting for these spores to flourish. If you ever see physical mold, smell a must in the air, you might need a cleaning performed on your duct work.
With all the construction that is going on in downtown West Palm Beach and throughout Palm Beach County, even new construction air duct cleanings should be performed. This will rid your ducts of the drywall dust and other construction debris that can accumulate during the construction process.
Air Duct Cleaning Can Save You Money
Have you ever walked into an office and for some reason the air conditioning is blowing noticeably colder and more forcefully in one room in comparison to another room in the office? This is an additional sign that you might need a duct cleaning. Dust and debris build up over time can affect the efficiency of your HVAC system over time, not only resulting in the system overworking but also costing you more money. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, about 25 to 40% of the energy used for heating or cooling is wasted. A professional cleaning can not only allow your ducts to circulate cleaner and safer air but it will save you money on your energy bill.
Storm Season Insurance Guide
Hurricane Season is from June 1st to November 30th, and we can’t stress enough how important it is to be prepared; for preparation is the best defense against disasters. As a restoration company we tend to stress heavily on physical preparation, such as checking your home for leaks, cracks, mold, or any hazards that can allow additional damage to occur should a storm hit. However another major preparation factor that NEEDS to be addressed is property insurance.
There are thousands of insurance policies out there, each with varying degrees of coverage and you’d be surprised at how few homeowners truly know their coverage. If you haven’t already, contact your local insurance agent and schedule a time to sit down and go over all of your coverage details- don’t wait till after you have a loss to check your insurance. When speaking with your agent, here are a few topics you should be sure to discuss and understand prior to storm season.
Understanding Your Deductible:
With property insurance there tend to be two different deductibles when it comes to storms. One is Hurricane deductible and the other is windstorm deductible. Insurers in every costal state include separate deductibles for hurricanes and/or windstorms in their homeowner’s policies.
A hurricane deductible is applied only to hurricanes, whereas a windstorm deductible applies to any type of wind. When speaking with your agent, be sure to understand how these deductibles affect your pay out, for it might be advisable to set aside additional funds incase you need to rebuild your home.
What Disasters Insurance Covers:
Its important to be knowledgeable of what disasters your insurance policy covers. Most standard homeowner’s insurance policies provide coverage for hurricanes, wind, theft, fire, explosions, lightning strikes, and many other disasters. However, all policies also list exclusions, with one of the more common exclusions being flooding. While many people might not feel flooding insurance is necessary, what they don’t know is that 90% of natural disasters (especially hurricanes) include some form of flooding. Living in Florida, flood insurance is a must.
Are Your Possessions Covered:
When analyzing your coverage, its important to make sure that your possessions are well insured. Your policy not only protects your home but all of your belongings, so be sure that your policy provides protection against loss or damage due to a hurricane. In order to ensure you have efficient coverage, we recommend that you determine the value of your possessions with a home inventory, so you know how much coverage you actually need.
Additional Living Expenses:
If a storm is to leave your home uninhabitable, its important to make sure that your policy provides enough coverage for additional living expenses such as hotel and food expenses.
Damage Mitigation Responsibilities:
Lastly but most importantly, if disaster is to strike your property you are responsible for taking necessary steps to prevent further damages. For example. should a hurricane cause roof damage or window damage allowing water to get into your home, you are responsible to do all you can to mitigate your losses. By performing such steps not only are the homeowners experiencing less of a loss, but it also reduces the expense that would be payable under the claim for insurance. If this step is not taken and you abandon your property after the storm and the damage grows worse due to your neglect, then you may find your claim denied by insurance which can result in a hefty out of pocket fee.