Rebuilding Your Home After Fire Damage
After a fire has damaged your home, restoration and repairs will need to occur for a home to return to preloss conditions. Based on the size of the fire and what areas in the home were affected, homeowners will need to decide on whether they will rebuild parts of their home and understand what that entails.
What Does An Inspection Of My Fire Damaged Home Entail?
At this point in the process, the property’s insurance provider has been contacted and will likely require a full inspection of your home.
Based on the damage, an inspection may be conducted by your restoration company, an engineer, or general contractor who may evaluate all of the following and more:
- Flooring and Walls
- Electrical circuits/wires
- Windows, Doors, Door Frames
- Systems in the home like water heaters, pumps, HVACs
What Does Restoration Look Like?
After consulting with the restoration company or third party vendor, your insurance will likely provide an estimated coverage per your policy.
- Any areas of the home that need to be secured like broken windows, exposed roofing, or enter ways will be boarded and tarped. This will help to prevent any other elements from entering in your home and causing further damage.
- Water removal is typically always necessary as water is used to extinguish a fire. Smoke, soot, and odor removal will also occur in affected areas.
Some homeowners may choose to sell their home for what is valued at after a fire, should their insurance provide coverage for this. However, that is not always an option. Repairing more than just drywall and floors is necessary for maintaining your home’s structural integrity. As fire can weaken and warp certain building materials replacement may occur
SERVPRO of West Palm Beach has the ability to provide repairs/reconstruction for your home where needed whether it is structural, drywall, or flooring damage. In fact, our team is highly experienced when it comes to many reconstruction projects, working with many insurances and homeowners throughout West Palm Beach. A fire can be devastating but does not always amount to complete loss of your home. Reconstruction is possible and can have your home back to comfortable living conditions.
Finding Black Mold in Your West Palm Beach Home and Common Questions
Hearing or thinking the words “black mold” can be daunting for many homeowners. All too often, companies and the internet sensationalize black mold and instilling fear into homeowners who then believe any black mold or mildew is in fact toxic black mold. Mold can come in a variety of colors and even mildew can appear black. Many of our customers call us because they have noticed mold that is black in color and are unsure what exactly they may be dealing with. Here are a few common questions we get:
1. What Is Black Mold?
Black Mold, or Stachybotrys Chartarum, is a certain type of mold that can grow in a home. This mold can be a dark black or even green in color. While this mold is thought to be more harmful than other molds, we always stress to our customers that whether they are truly dealing with black mold or not, all molds should be considered as unhealthy and do not belong in a healthy home.
2. How Did I Get Black Mold?
Regardless of black mold or not, if you are in fact dealing with mold damage, your home was likely exposed to some kind of water or moisture. Once exposed to water, the growth of mold spores is triggered (which are naturally present everywhere) and your home’s materials act as an additional food source.
3. Mold or Mildew?
Mildew typically occurs in areas that stay wet for long periods of time. Think of your bathtub or kitchen sink caulking. You may see grayish looking spots that are easily removed with a household cleaning agent.
4. Can I Clean the Mold Myself?
While there are ways to help combat mold, mold cleaning is not recommended. Mold can easily spread; improper cleaning without the use of protective equipment or proper containment can cause exacerbate the mold damage or cause it to grow in other areas of your home.
Keeping your home’s environment healthy is important to keeping yourself and family healthy. Calling a professional to deal with black mold damage will attain just that! Our mold damage experts understand how to inspect for mold, the mold remediation process, and what is right for your home.
Fall Weather Hazards to Prepare For in West Palm Beach
At SERVPRO of West Palm Beach having one of our Business Development Representative’s, Amy Alex, as an NOAA Ambassador helps our team stay on top of all things weather-related. This is especially important during the storm season months when our main concern is notifying our community and customers to prepare for upcoming tropical cyclones.
Our recent meeting with the NOAA was all about Fall Preparedness. September 1st is the start of the meteorological Autumn, though the first day of the season is not until September 22nd. Regardless of when Fall starts, being advised of potential hazards early will only further your safety.
Fall will call for a number of weather events including hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, wildfires, fog and snow. While snow is not a problem for South Florida and wildfire season tends to be in May through June, the remainder of the hazards definitely can be.
- Hurricanes & Tornadoes: Though Florida tends to experience it’s most rainy season during the summer months, the official storm season does not until November 30th. Remaining prepared with your family’s emergency kit is vital during these next two months. As we have seen, hurricanes, tropical storms, and tornadoes can form and become a problem quickly.
- Fog: Late Fall into Winter and Spring, fog in the mornings can be especially dense. Fog can be dangerous during early morning drives, impairing a driver’s vision and ability to see further than the front of their car. Reworking your schedule if possible until the fog clears up can avoid any dangerous driving conditions. If driving is necessary be sure to drive the speed limit, use fog lights if you have them, and be cautious of the cars around you.
- Flooding & Wind: As many Floridians are aware, during severe storms wind and flooding can be extremely hazardous and should be prepared for. Fortifying your home and business before an expected strong storm can help keep your family and property.
Fall usually reminds many people of cooler weather and the holidays around the corner, not hazardous weather. Fall should still be associated with those wonderful things however it is always smart to be aware of your risks and prepare yourself in dealing with these hazards.
Staying Prepared During Peak Hurricane Season
The Atlantic hurricane season has already been extremely busy. The NOAA just recently updated the anticipated number of storms to 25 names. Just within this week, there are two systems forming in the Atlantic with an 80% chance of developing. This is no surprise as August and September are peak months in the season. Now is when we may see much more activity in the Atlantic heading our way. Why is this the case?
Wind shear and temperature of the ocean can create the perfect environment for a strong hurricane. Wind shear is the difference in wind speed or direction. Strong wind shear is what impedes a tropical cyclone, hurricane or tropical storm, from becoming a major threat. Summer months like August and September mean warmer, moist air and warmer ocean temperatures. During peak season low wind shear combined with warm tropic oceans will help fuel any tropical cyclone. Some experts also believe climate change creates bigger and slower storms. A large, slow hurricane may mean that the storm can sit over a particular area for days with unrelenting rainfall and winds.
If you’re tempted to pack away your hurricane kit, don’t do so just yet. Local officials and experts urge residents and businesses to remain prepared and vigilant into these months. In fact, September is National Preparedness Month. Family and community disaster planning are encouraged through this month to limit the impacts that an emergency event may have. Even if you believe you are ready, we have all learned in the face of the current pandemic to always expect the unexpected. Check your kit, review your plan, and talk to your friends and family. Do this every few weeks or so, to stay prepared for a hurricane or tropical storm in West Palm Beach. As experts in dealing with disasters and storm damage we can agree with the National Preparedness Month theme: “ Disasters Don’t Wait. Make Your Plan Today.”
How Hurricane Isaias Affected South Florida Businesses
Much anticipation was felt in West Palm Beach during Hurricane Isaias. The storm was expected to hit Florida’s eastern edge with heavy rainfall and powerful winds. As with all storms and their potential to change direction, Isaias spared West Palm Beach from storm surges, power outages, flash floods, and property damage. Why did the storm slow down and how did Isaias affect South Florida businesses?
The change in speed and course of a hurricane can be explained by its size. Smaller storms can quickly weaken from changes in the surrounding environment as they contain less mass. Wind shear, dry air, and land interaction are all affecting factors. During Isaias, Southern United States was still feeling remnants of the Saharan Dust Cloud. Mixed with the dry Saharan air and upper-level wind shear the storm dragged over the Bahamas and missed most of Florida. Had Isaias occurred in September, which is the second month of peak season, West Palm Beach and surrounding areas could have faced a much bleaker outcome.
The realization that Isaias could have been extremely damaging has forced the local economy to re-examine their business plans. Prior to Isaias changing course, many businesses were still forced to close, challenging an already fragile local economy. This need to close doors for a few days and amidst a pandemic, shed light on the number of business owners who feel and may be extremely unprepared. With a few more months left of hurricane season, being unprepared is a risk many cannot afford to take.
In an annual hurricane survey, lack of proper insurance to protect against business interruption is a big problem many face. The inability to operate after a hurricane can quickly lead to a bill that many businesses cannot foot. Property damage especially is one of the costlier disruptions in business flow. Business interruption insurance can range from actual hurricane coverage to having a plan in place in the case of a disaster. As many as 50% of businesses close after suffering storm damage; this number does not account for those that have suffered economic impacts due to the pandemic.
The fact remains that there is a large chance that another tropical storm or hurricane will soon form and possibly hit South Florida. However, there is still time for business owners in West Palm Beach to prepare for a hurricane. Understanding your insurance policy, ensuring you have the proper coverage and having an emergency plan in place for your business can all abate the stress of a tropical storm or hurricane.
What to Know About Tropical Storms in West Palm Beach
June to November are the most active months for storms in Florida. During this time many tropical depressions form in the Atlantic, some dying out before they are able to make any strides. There are some depressions that do become tropical storms once its winds have sustained 39 MPH.
The speed of wind even at 39 MPH can still cause significant damage, though some people associate a tropical storm with less urgency and less threat than they would a hurricane. This is a mistaken belief and can be a costly one. Tropical storms can be extremely destructive reaching winds of 73 MPH. Once over 73 MPH, they become a Category 1 hurricane. The ability to quickly become a Hurricane should be daunting and push many people to prepare.
Hurricanes and tropical storms are both types of tropical cyclones. The difference is the level of intensity in each. While tropical storms do not have as intense of winds and flooding, they do produce a lot of rain and their winds are strong enough to carry debris. Homes and buildings can still be subjected to damage during a tropical storm, so taking precaution can be necessary.
- Know your zone and whether your area is susceptible to storm surge or flooding.
- Strengthen your home for potential impact. This includes securing doors, windows, or loose items like patio furniture.
- Prepare your emergency kit now rather than wait until the last minute. As we have seen in recent months, many residents may panic buy, limiting availability of certain supplies.
- Track the storm and stay updated on local news. Some Floridians may feel a certain “been there, done that” attitude when it comes to storm season but as we have noticed nothing is typically in 2020. Keeping up to date is vital in ensuring yours and your family’s safety.
Tropical Storm Isaias is making its way to Florida in the coming days. As the path in which the storm will travel is still widely unknown, as is the damage it can cause, understanding the characteristics of a tropical storm and prepping for what may come is vital.
Fire Damage Cleanup in West Palm Beach
No one ever imagines that their home or business may one day suffer from a fire. For some reason, the idea of a fire seems distant for many people, almost unrealistic. The chances of a home or business suffering from fire damage is high as accidents can happen anytime, anywhere. Lack of acknowledging reality often leaves people feeling paralyzed once they find themselves in such situations. There are a few important things to know when faced with fire damage in West Palm Beach.
Fire damage cleanup is a lengthy, multi-step process that is determined by varying factors. The size, nature, and location of the fire are accounted for in the beginning of the cleanup process.
To fight a large fire, Fire Rescue teams may need to use gallons of water to extinguish the fire. It is also not uncommon with a larger fire for windows to be broken or structural holes placed for ventilation. Incidents like these in a large fire may result in structural or water damage. If this is the case, cleanup will need to include emergency water mitigation and board-up services. The longer the house is exposed to outside elements or if water is not extracted damage will only be exacerbated.
During an assessment the severity of damage to content will be determined. Other than obvious burnt items, damage also takes the form of smoke and soot. Both effects can cause discoloration to items and are highly corrosive. If contents are not inspected quickly and sent off for restoration, it is unlikely they will be salvageable in the future. While special care and restoration can be given to contents like electronics, clothing, or furniture, there are items that may be dangerous to keep after a fire and should be thrown away. These include both non-perishable and perishable food, medicines, hygiene or cosmetic products, and anything that is obviously burnt.
The entire cleanup process includes:
- Inspection of the structure and total damage assessment
- Board-up and roof-tarp services if needed
- Water extraction and drying if needed
- Smoke and soot removal from all surfaces
- Cleaning and sanitizing for the structure
- Restoration and rebuild based on the level of damage endured
Fire damage cleanup is usually best left to a professional restoration company that can safely and effectively mitigate the aftermath of a fire in West Palm Beach.
Insurance Coverage Tips for Storm Damage in West Palm Beach
During storm season the reality is your West Palm Beach home may endure some level of damage. Homeowners should take preventative measures to reduce damage should a major storm hit, regardless of the storm's category. Aside from physically securing the protection of your home’s interior and exterior, it is vital to secure protection via your homeowner’s insurance policy.
Understanding Insurance Coverage and Storm Damage
Your insurance policy is definitely one of the important documents that should be copied and stored in case of a major storm. It should also be thoroughly read through and understood. Examine your policy for details on what events are covered, the amount of coverage, and steps to take should you need to submit an insurance claim after storm damage. Your home’s insurance policy may exclude some types of storm and water damage.
- Most insurance policies may have specified provisions for protection against hurricanes. These provisions may only cover wind damage as additional flood damage policies may be needed. It is important to know your hurricane deductible as well. A hurricane deductible is typically a percentage of what a home insured for.
- Standard homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover flood damage. Though it is not required, flooding can happen relatively anywhere even if your home is not in a high-risk flood zone; purchasing additional flood damage insurance coverage is encouraged.
- Wind & Rain
- Damage caused by wind itself is likely covered through your policy. Water damage from rain, including wind-driven rain, may not be covered in most cases.
Additional Insurance Tips
- Adequate Coverage
- If you are satisfied with the policies you currently have, check that coverage is adequate for your home’s structure, contents, and additional living expenses if needed.
- Mitigate & Document
- Take pictures of your home before & after a storm. These pictures will be vital when submitting an insurance claim based on storm damage.
- Beware of Scam Repair Companies
- The aftermath of a major storm is a great opportunity for many repair companies to offer their services. Not all companies are legitimate or truthful and have hurt homeowner’s who have not done their due diligence on these companies.
It is important to always report all claims and damage to your insurance company. Your agent can help you in determining coverage and next steps to mitigating storm damage, including contacting a storm damage restoration company in West Palm Beach.
Florida Summer Wildfire History and Tips on Prevention
According to charts from the Data Face, Palm Beach County and the rest of South Florida are responsible for the top 10% of acres burned in U.S. wildfires. Peak wildfire season is in the summer for Florida, with the risk of a fire subsiding after June. Even after the month of June there is still a very real chance that one can occur, potentially destroying thousands of acres and many homes. As a result it is the responsibility of everyone to understand Florida’s wildfire history and tips on prevention.
- In 1935, over 35,000 acres were burned in the Big Scrub Fire in the Ocala National Forest.
- In 1956, the Buckhead Fire in the Osceola National Forest burned 10,000 acres in a single day.
- The Palm Coast Fire in 1985 burned 250 homes. This was one of the first serious fires to affect wildlife and residential areas.
- In 1998, 2,200 fires affected the Palm Coast, requiring evacuation of 45,000 people.
- Severe drought was prevalent in Florida during 1999. High temperatures and high winds brought over 50 brush fires that consumer close to 5,816 acres.
- In 2001, brush fires in Mallory Swamp burned for over two weeks. Close to 61,000 acres were affected.
- 2017 saw Florida’s worst wildfire season in years with over 150,000 acres in Florida burned by 2,000 wildfires.
There are many lessons to be learned from past wildfire seasons. Aside from prescribed burnings conducted by Florida officials, remembering the following can help with prevention:
- Never leave a lit grill or outdoor fire unattended.
- Use the proper equipment and materials when lighting any source of heat.
- Keep any dry debris and vegetation away from sources of heat and your home.
- Have a preparedness plan for your family in the event of a fire or evacuation.
Florida is no stranger to natural disasters. Much of the year is spent preparing for or enduring hurricanes and tropical storms. Wildfires should be no exception. Understanding how wildfires start and properly preparing for them is a shared responsibility for residents and local officials.
Commonly Asked Mold Remediation Questions
Frequently Asked Mold Questions
1. What is Mold?
Mold is a kind of fungus that causes biodegradation of natural materials.
2. Where Does Mold Grow in a Home & Why?
Mold spores can be found naturally in the air of a home. For mold to become a problem and form large colonies, temperatures of 40F moisture, and organic matter are required. Any area of a home that has been exposed or is prone to moisture are likely to have some form of mold growth. This includes bathrooms, basements, attics, kitchens and appliance areas, like around an HVAC or boiler.
3. Can Mold Affect My Health?
Mold can spread very quickly, producing allergens, irritants, and other potential health effects if left unmitigated.
4. What is Mold Removal vs. Mold Remediation?
Due to mold’s ubiquity, mold removal is not possible. Mold remediation however, can treat and mitigate damage caused by mold.
5. When Should I Test for Mold?
Visible mold growth may not require a test, as mold testing determines the air quality of your home and the presence of mold in it. If mold is not visible but suspected, especially after any water damage, testing is recommended.
6. Can I Clean Mold Myself?
Cleaning or remediating mold can be difficult without the proper equipment or training. While we encourage acting quickly upon suspicion or confirmation of mold, remaining safe is always a top priority. Mold damage requires efficient and safe solutions that only a mold remediation company in West Palm Beach can provide. Call a qualified professional before attempting to DIY.
7. How Do I Prevent Mold?
Keeping indoor humidity controlled can help prevent mold growth. Fast response to any water damage will also reduce the chance of developing a serious mold issue.
If you are seeing signs of mold in your home or business, call SERVPRO of West Palm Beach today and our trained Mold Remediation Specialists can assist you.