What Your Flood Insurance Covers (and How to Use It)

Living in beautiful Maryland, comes with its perks: scenic landscapes, charming communities, and access to the Patapsco River. But it also means facing the occasional weather-related challenge, including floods. While we can’t control the elements, being prepared for flood damage can ease the stress and financial burden when disaster strikes.

One crucial element of preparedness is understanding your flood insurance policy.

Navigating insurance policies can feel like wandering through a confusing maze, but don’t worry – Flood Department is here to guide you. We’ll demystify common covered scenarios, claim filing procedures, and tips for maximizing your coverage benefits so you can weather any storm with confidence.

What Does Flood Insurance Cover?

First things first: what exactly does flood insurance cover? Unlike standard homeowners insurance, flood insurance specifically protects your property and belongings against losses caused by rising water.This includes:

  • Direct physical damage to your building structure, foundation, and covered contents like appliances and furniture.
  • Additional living expenses if your home becomes uninhabitable due to flood damage, such as hotel stays or rental costs.

Remember, flood insurance only covers damage caused by rising water, not other water-related issues like:

  • Sewer backups (though some policies may offer optional coverage)
  • Broken pipes (covered by homeowners insurance)
  • Surface water (may be covered by additional riders)

For a comprehensive understanding of your specific coverage, refer to your policy documents or consult a trusted insurance professional.

Claim Filing Essentials: Know Your Process

Facing flood damage is stressful, but knowing how to file a claim can streamline the process. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Report the damage: Contact your insurance company immediately, ideally within 72 hours of the flood event. This allows for prompt assessment and avoids potential claim delays.
  2. Document everything: Take detailed photos and videos of the damage, including affected areas, damaged belongings, and floodwater levels. Gather receipts for any temporary repairs or emergency purchases.
  3. File your claim: Submit your claim online, by phone, or through your agent. Be prepared to provide details about the incident, your policy information, and supporting documentation.
  4. Work with your adjuster: An insurance adjuster will be assigned to assess the damage and determine your coverage amount. Collaborate openly and provide any requested information promptly.

Remember, the more organized and prepared you are with documentation and information, the smoother the claim process will be.

Maximize Your Coverage: Pro Tips for Success

Understanding your policy and filing procedures are key, but here are some additional tips to ensure you get the most out of your flood insurance:

  • Review your policy regularly: As your needs and property value change, so might your coverage requirements. Update your policy accordingly to avoid gaps in protection.
  • Consider additional coverage: Depending on your location and risk factors, consider optional riders for sewer backups, overland flooding, or increased contents coverage.
  • Take preventive measures: Mitigating flood risks by elevating appliances, waterproofing basements, and installing sump pumps can lower your premiums and potentially reduce damage severity.
  • Choose a reputable provider: Research companies with strong financial stability and positive customer reviews to ensure smooth claims processing and reliable support.

Remember, Flood Department is always here to help! Reach out for more information on flood insurance basics, risk assessment tools, and valuable resources to guide you through the process.

Additionally, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers a wealth of information on flood preparedness and flood insurance on their website: https://www.fema.gov/flood-insurance.

By understanding your flood insurance coverage, knowing the claim filing process, and implementing smart strategies, you can weather any flood with confidence and minimize the financial impact on your home and belongings. Don’t wait until disaster strikes – take action today to secure your peace of mind and protect your loved ones.

Unexpected Sources of Water Damage in Your Home

Overflowing laundry

Water damage is a homeowner’s nightmare. Often associated with burst pipes and heavy rain, the reality is, water damage can sneak up from surprising sources, leaving you with costly repairs and potential health risks. Don’t be fooled by the seemingly dry corners of your home – unexpected culprits lurk within, waiting to unleash their watery wrath. Let’s delve into less common causes of water damage and equip you with the knowledge to detect and prevent these hidden threats.

Faulty Appliances: Beyond Leaky Faucets

While dripping faucets are a telltale sign of trouble, they’re not the only appliance villains. Dishwashers, washing machines, and even refrigerators can harbor leaks. Check hoses and connections regularly for cracks or wear and ensure proper drainage by clearing debris from filters and drains. Pay attention to unusual sounds or vibrations, as they might indicate internal leaks. Remember, early detection is key, so be mindful of any changes in your appliances’ performance.

Silent Storms: The Threat of Roof Leaks

Even minor roof damage can lead to major water infiltration. Schedule regular inspections, especially after storms, to identify loose shingles, cracked flashing, or clogged gutters. Look for telltale signs like water stains on ceilings or walls, musty odors, or even unexplained mold growth. Don’t underestimate the power of preventive maintenance. Sealant touch-ups and proper gutter cleaning can go a long way in protecting your roof and your home from hidden leaks.

Condensation Catastrophe: When Moisture Becomes Mischief

Believe it or not, even everyday activities can contribute to water damage. Cooking, showering, and even drying laundry generate moisture that, if not properly ventilated, can condense on hidden surfaces, leading to mold growth and structural damage. Invest in proper ventilation like exhaust fans and dehumidifiers. Ensure adequate air circulation, especially in bathrooms and laundry rooms. Remember, prevention is cheaper than remediation, so address those moisture concerns before they turn into costly problems.

DIY Troubleshooting Tips: Be Your Own Water Detective

While professional help is always recommended for major issues, some DIY detective work can go a long way in the early stages. Turn off the water supply to isolate the source of a leak. Use a moisture meter to check for hidden dampness behind walls or under flooring. Visible signs like peeling paint, warped wood, or even rusting nails can also point to hidden water damage. Remember, when in doubt, call a professional for a thorough assessment and proper mitigation.

Preventing the Deluge: Proactive Steps for a Watertight Home

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially when it comes to water damage. Regular maintenance is your best defense. Install water leak detectors in vulnerable areas, like basements and laundry rooms. Invest in smart home devices that can monitor temperature and humidity, alerting you to potential problems before they escalate. Finally, educate yourself and your family on water conservation practices and responsible appliance use.

Don’t let hidden water damage turn your home into a watery nightmare. By being aware of the unexpected culprits and taking proactive steps, you can keep your home safe and dry. Remember, early detection and prevention are key. And if disaster strikes, Flood Department is here to help you navigate the restoration process with our expertise and dedication. Learn more about water damage restoration services and start living worry-free today!

Additional Resources:

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): https://toolkit.climate.gov/ provides valuable information on flood risks and preparedness.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): https://www.floodsmart.gov/ offers flood insurance options and resources for homeowners.

By staying informed and taking action, you can ensure your home stays a haven, not a victim of hidden water damage.

Helping Hoarders: How to Get their Space in Order

We all probably know someone who has way too much stuff.  It’s easy for junk to pile up and take over our homes.  Most of us eventually clean it up, but some people have a very difficult time with this task.  This condition is called hoarding. Helping hoarders is important and we have some tips.

Definition of Hoarding

Hoarding disorder occurs when a person hangs on to a bunch of items and just can’t get rid of them.  Doing so causes them significant distress. Hoarding can lead to dangerous clutter and unsafe living conditions. It can also interfere with a person’s quality of life.  Up to 6% of people in the U.S. have hoarding disorder.

Common Hoarded Items

Things that hoarders tend to keep include newspapers, magazines, household goods and clothing.  Animals can add up too, which are often not properly cared for.  Hoarders often pile up items that have little or no monetary value.  The reason is they are convinced they might need the items in the future.

Hoarding Versus Clutter

If you realize you have clutter, that’s a good sign.  You just need to motivate yourself to organize it and throw out stuff you don’t need. Hoarding occurs when people become obsessed with holding onto items and can’t get a handle on clutter.  The first step is to admit to yourself you need help.

Help for Hoarders

Here are some key tips to help you cope with the disorder.

Start slowly.  Take small steps forward when dealing with hoarding.  Slow and steady wins the race.

Seek Therapy.  A professional can help you cope with difficult feelings that surface as you start the clean up process.  Hoarders often have physical and emotional baggage that needs addressing.

Find a Support Group. Join a community of others who are in the same boat.  You will feel less isolated.

How to Assist Hoarders

If you are helping someone clear out their hoarded clutter, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Respect their decisions.  Hoarders are often emotionally attached to their items.  Stuff that may not matter to us, can be extremely important to them.  Don’t take charge. If you take over their space, they might not let you help.  Be patient.  It can take a long time for hoarders to part with items.  Celebrate successes.  Offer encouragement when they finish cleaning up a small area.

How to Overcome Hoarding

Although it can take a long time, you can overcome hoarding.  Here are some ways you can help kick it to the curb.

No use for it.  If you have no use for an object, get rid of it. The question is not whether you can use an object, but if you’re going to actually use it.

Keep only one copy. There’s no need to hang on to extra bicycles or microwaves, for instance.  Just keep one of them and part with the extras.

Make a few piles.  Put aside one pile for items you want to keep, a second one for donations, and a third for things to throw away.  Then, take action.

Don’t overthink it. Once you decide the fate of an item, don’t look back.   You will never free yourself of clutter if the decision-making process is too long or complicated.

Be strong.  Be willing to face your fears and understand which are irrational.  Also, be patient.  Noone overcomes a hoarding problem overnight.

Let Us Clean Up the Mess

When a disaster strikes,  Flood Department is here to help. We provide water damage repair, clean-up services, including compassion cleaning, and more for homeowners and businesses. We cover Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.  We are dedicated to helping reverse the damage done by water, mold, sewage, smoke and fire.  Contact us at 301-829-2600 or visit us online.

 

Sources

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/helping-someone-with-hoarding-disorder.htm

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/hoarding/helping-someone-who-hoards/

https://www.oprah.com/home/how-to-overcome-hoarding/all

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/clutter-making-you-crazy-how-to-tell-if-youre-a-hoarder/

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17682-hoarding-disorder?_gl=1*18ewn9o*_ga*MTUyNjYwMTkyMy4xNjc2NjU0ODEz*_ga_HWJ092SPKP*MTY3NzA4MTQ1NS4zLjAuMTY3NzA4MTQ1NS4wLjAuMA..&_ga=2.59038381.1210832197.1677081455-1526601923.1676654813

Summer Fire Safety Tips

Summer is almost here and that means backyard barbeques, campfires, and fireworks. With that being said, we have some fire safety tips for the summer in order to help you stay safe.

However, along with the outdoor fun comes a risk of fires and injuries. Keep these fire safety tips in mind as you enjoy spending time with family and friends.

Grilling Safety Basics

Grilling is an extremely popular summertime activity.  Before you pull out your grill for the season, be sure to do a pre-check. Gas grills can have leaks and breaks.  Check the gas tank hose before firing up your grill for the first time.  If you smell gas and there is no flame, turn it off. Get the grill serviced before using it again.

  • Clean the grill after every use. Don’t let leftover grease and fat build up and possibly catch fire.
  • If you have a charcoal grill, only use charcoal starter fluid to light it. Never add more to the flames to make them bigger.
  • Keep the grill at least three feet from anything that can catch fire. This includes your house, deck railings, eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Never fire up a grill indoors or in an enclosed space. They are meant for outdoor use only.
  • Always keep an eye on the grill while cooking. Don’t leave it unattended.

Outdoor Fire Safety

Many of us enjoy warming up by a fire pit when evening comes, or lighting up a campfire and sleeping under the stars.  Keep in mind that campfires are allowed only in permitted areas. They must be at least 25 feet away from a structure or anything that can burn.  Clear away dry debris that can catch fire before lighting the campfire.

Never use gasoline to help start a campfire, or add it to an open flame.  Same goes for a fire pit or chiminea.  If an outdoor fire can’t quickly be extinguished, call 911.

Always use water and sand to douse the flames of the campfire when you’re done.

If you have a backyard fire pit, make sure it’s at least three feet away from your house or combustible materials.  Use a metal screen over wood-burning fires to keep sparks from flying out.  Closely watch children when using a firepit.  Extinguish the fire when you are done.

Fireworks Safety

Fireworks are dangerous and are best left to the professionals.  Enjoy them at a public Fourth of July event instead. Many people like to light sparklers at home.  If you are one of them, keep them away from children.  Sparklers can reach 1,200 F and cause third-degree burns.

Home Fire Safety

Keep your home safe from fire as well.  Test your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace the batteries regularly.  Check your fire extinguishers to make sure they are working.  Have a family escape plan in case a fire erupts.  Make sure all of the windows and doors are easily accessible.

Let Us Repair the Damage

When it comes to water, flood or fire damage,  Flood Department is here to help. We provide water damage repair and clean-up services for homeowners and businesses. We cover Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.  We are dedicated to helping reverse the damage done by water, mold, sewage, smoke and more.  Contact us at 301-829-2600 or visit us online.

Sources:

https://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/outreach/summer.html

https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Publications-and-media/Blogs-Landing-Page/Safety-Source/Blog-Posts/2021/06/02/Summer-is-almost-here-NFPA-offers-five-key-tips-for-keeping-it-fire-safe

https://www.tdinsurance.com/products-services/home-insurance/tips-advice/summer-fire-safety-tips

How to Manage a Leaky Roof

how to deal with a roof leak

If water is seeping through your roof, don’t panic. Take action and win the battle!  Here are some DIY tips on how to deal with a roof leak.

Telltale Signs of a Leaky Roof

Your roof is probably leaking if you have water stains going across the ceiling or down your walls.  They usually show up as brown spots.  Fix leaks right away to avoid an expensive repair bill down the road. Even small leaks can lead to big trouble. If you let them go, they can cause mold, damage your ceiling and destroy the insulation.

Finding Roof Leaks

When searching for a leak, look for items that penetrate the roof. Chimneys, plumbing and roof vents are the most common sources of leaks.  Sometimes water appears at a spot some distance away from the leak, making smaller leaks harder to find. Look for roof patches that are brittle or damaged by age. Also, examine metal roof flashing. Once you spot a problem, go into the attic with a flashlight and look for water stains, black marks or mold.

Preventing Roof Leaks

There are steps you can take to prevent leaks from occurring.  Water can seep into your home through cracked, bent and missing roof shingles. Replace missing shingles right away. A cracked shingle can be repaired with roof sealant.  Call a professional if you feel you don’t have the ability to make the repairs yourself.

Look for puddles on your roof after it rains.  Ponding can cause a roof to rot, which can lead to leaks and water damage.  Flat and low-sloped roofs are the most vulnerable.  Have the surface repaired as soon as possible.

Clear out your gutters regularly.  If they are clogged, they won’t be able to properly move water away from your roof and siding.  Gutter guards help prevent debris buildup so you won’t have to clean your gutters as often.

Inspect your attic ceiling for leaks.  If you notice damaged or moldy insulation; rotting or stained boards or ceiling panels, you may have a leak.

In areas that have a lot of snow and ice, ice dams can form.  Heat rises from your home and melts the snow on the roof.  The snow melt can refreeze on the colder edges of your roof and clog your gutters.  Check your attic to make sure it has enough insulation.  

How to Manage Roof Leaks

After you schedule a date for repairs to be made,  you can take a few temporary measures while you wait.

Minimize the damage to the inside of your home.  Move furniture and valuables to another spot. Cover the area with a waterproof plastic sheet or tarp. Place a large bucket beneath the leak to catch falling water.

Check the attic or crawlspace to try to pinpoint the source of the leak.  If you find it, create a barrier. Try laying a piece of plywood across the joists to stop the water from reaching the ceiling.  Place a large bucket on top..

You can also redirect the leaking water with a bottle funnel.  This homemade device features a hose, an empty plastic bottle, and duct tape. The water will flow through the tunnel and out of the house.

Has Water Damaged Your Home?

When it comes to home disasters,  Flood Department is here to help. We provide repair and clean-up services for homeowners and businesses.  We are dedicated to helping reverse the damage done by water, mold, sewage, smoke and more.  We cover Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Contact us today at 301-829-2600 or visit us online.

Sources:

https://improveitmd.com/managing-roof-leaks/

https://modernize.com/homeowner-resources/roofing/best-ways-to-prevent-water-damage-on-your-roof

https://www.familyhandyman.com/list/roof-repair-how-to-find-and-fix-roof-leaks/

How to Waterproof Your Basement

how to waterproof your basement from the outside

If your basement has suffered water damage, you are not alone.  Statistics show 98% of basements will experience some sort of water damage.  Household water damage costs up to $20 billion annually, and 14.6 million homes are at risk of flooding.  Here’s how to waterproof your basement from the outside.

How Water Enters Basements

There are several  ways water can seep into your basement and cause a mess. Here are a few of them to look out for.

Foundation Leaks

Wall cracks are the most common source of seepage in basements with a poured concrete foundation.  They are usually caused by stress, settling or shrinkage during the concrete’s curing process.  Most cracks are hairline ones and are relatively easy to fix.

Floor Seepage

Seepage from the floor happens often, especially during heavy downpours.  Water gets in through cracks in the basement floor and the cove joint.  Sealing the cracks isn’t recommended.  You are best off having an interior drain tile system installed.   It drains the water that has collected beneath the floor and directs it to a sump pump.

Sump Pump Issues

Sump pumps don’t always work as they should.  If you suspect problems, contact a professional for an inspection.

Water in Window Wells

If there’s too much water in the window well, it can easily leak through the window frame and into your basement.  Leaves and other debris can easily clog the drain, allowing water to build up.  As soon as the weather conditions allow, remove the water from the well.  This can be done with a wet/dry vacuum or a pump. You might want to consider buying a custom window well cover. 

Uneven Grading

If your home isn’t properly graded, water can easily seep into your basement.  Make sure the ground is sloped away from your home. If you live on flat land, make sure the grading doesn’t extend above the top of the foundation.  If it does, water can access your basement through cracks in the mortar.

Waterproofing Essentials

Before you start doing a waterproofing project in your basement, there are some basic steps you can take to make the job easier.

Clean the area you will be waterproofing. Remove any existing coatings on surfaces. Many waterproofing products won’t work unless they are applied directly to the foundation.  Plug holes and large cracks with hydraulic cement. Seal smaller cracks with filler. Use caulk to seal openings in doors, windows, and window wells. Once you are done sealing, put a waterproof coating on your basement surfaces.

Protect Your Basement

There’s no doubt that water can wreak havoc if it gets into your basement. Here are some tips that will help keep the water away.

Maintain the foundation by sealing up any cracks. Gutters that have proper downspouts and extensions will steer water away from your home’s foundation.  Make sure they are free of debris.  Locate downspouts at least six feet away from your home to stop water from collecting.  Install a sump pump to get water out of your basement. Control condensation by insulating pipes and walls.  Reduce the humidity level with a dehumidifier.

Let Us Clean Up the Mess

When it comes to home disasters,  Flood Department is here to help. We provide repair and clean-up services for homeowners and businesses.  We are dedicated to helping reverse the damage done by water, mold, sewage, smoke and more.  We cover Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Contact us today at 301-829-2600 or visit us online.

Sources:

https://www.uswaterproofing.com/learning-center/top-5-most-common-basement-waterproofing-problems

https://www.ringsend.com/blog/post/how-to-waterproof-your-basement-in-5-steps

https://ipropertymanagement.com/research/water-damage-statistics

https://www.drymich.com/resources/basement-waterproofing/tips-to-protect-your-basement/

How to Conserve Water at Home

Leaking pipes, dripping faucets and lawn overwatering all impact our daily water use. To cut back on costly water bills,  here are some tips on how to conserve water at home.

Monitor Indoor Water Usage

There are many things we can do to stop wasting water in our homes.

Fix leaks.  Small household leaks can add up to gallons of water lost everyday.  The EPA reports average household leaks can add up to nearly 10,000 gallons of wasted water annually.  Common ones found in the home include worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets and leaking pipes.  These can easily be repaired and can save homeowners about 10% on their water bills.

Overusing Bathroom Water.  This is where over half of all water use in our home takes place.  To cut back, turn off the tap while shaving or brushing teeth.  Take showers – they use less water than baths.  Remember to keep them short.

Cut Back in the Kitchen.  When washing dishes by hand, plug the sink, or use a wash basin.

Scrape your plate instead of rinsing it before you put it in the dishwater.  Run the dishwasher only when it’s fully loaded. Keep a pitcher of cold drinking water in the refrigerator.  Thaw food in the fridge instead of running hot tap water to warm it up.

Laundry Room Savings. Wash only full loads of laundry, or reduce the load size on the washing machine.  Don’t use warm or hot water to wash clothes. Set your washing machine to use cold water.

Outdoor Water Use

A lot of the water we use is wasted when we overwater our lawns and aim sprinklers toward our sidewalks and driveways.   Here are some ways to cut back on outdoor water use and help our communities.

Drop the hose and sweep driveways, sidewalks and steps instead.  Wash the car using a bucket of soap and water. Cover your swimming pool to reduce water evaporation.  During the hot summer months, water your lawn in the early morning or evening. Also, inspect irrigation systems, fix leaks and repair broken or clogged sprinkler heads.

Conserve Water Resources

There are other ways you can help ease the burden on your local water supply.  Collect rainwater in a rain barrel and use it for outdoor watering.  Plant a rain garden to catch stormwater runoff from your roof and driveway.  Check your water bill and monitor how much water you use.  Ask your local government about a home water audit.

Save Water, Save Energy

It takes a lot of energy to deliver and treat the water we use daily for bathing, shaving, cooking and cleaning.  Homes with electric water heaters spend one-quarter of their electric bill just to heat water.  The best way to save both water and energy is to invest in water-efficient products.

Got Water Damage?

When it comes to water, flood or fire damage,  Flood Department is here to help. We provide water damage repair and clean-up services for homeowners and businesses. We cover Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.  We are dedicated to helping reverse the damage done by water, mold, sewage, smoke and more.  Contact us at 301-829-2600 or visit us online.

Sources/Links

https://www.americanrivers.org/rivers/discover-your-river/top-10-ways-for-you-to-save-water-at-home/

https://www.epa.gov/watersense/start-saving

https://www.epa.gov/watersense/fix-leak-week

https://www.epa.gov/watersense/watersense-summer-infographic

How to Spot Water Damage in Your Home

When the weather outside is frightful, it can get into your home as well.  Clogged gutters, drain pipes and downspouts can lead to indoor water damage. Look for leaking pipes and clogged drains inside your home too.  If you know the signs of water damage in your home, it can prevent bigger issues.

Signs of Water Damage

Many people tend to put off repairs or try to fix the issues themselves.  However, the damage you see may only be the tip of the iceberg. It’s best to have a professional check it out before you take action.  Here are some signs to look for that could indicate trouble is brewing.

 Stains.  A key sign of water damage is discoloration or stains on your walls or ceilings.  For instance, a beige or brown spot that appears on a white surface is a clear indication of damage. Water damage on darker colored walls or ceilings can appear as a patch that is deformed or sunken.

Paint.  Drywall isn’t waterproof. If moisture seeps in, the paint on the wall will begin flaking and peeling.  Excess moisture also causes paint to lift off its surface.

High Water Bill. If your water bill is gradually increasing or suddenly spikes, it could indicate a water leak. Have a professional check your home.   According to the EPA, about 10% of all homes have water leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day.  Fix these and save money on your water bill.

Strange Sounds.  If you hear running water when no one is showering or using appliances, you may have a problem.  Try to pinpoint where the sound is coming from and look for water damage on the wall.

Damaged Drywall.  If your drywall is warping, swelling or sagging, it’s likely water is weighing it down. This could eventually lead to structural damage in your home.

Mold and Bad Smells. Damp, musty or moldy smells often mean water damage is present.  If something smells off in your home, check it out. Mold looks like light green to black spots and has a distinct odor.

Protect Your Home from Water Damage

There are some things you can do to protect your home from water damage.  Install smart water leak detectors.  They will alert you to leaks and can prevent costly damage.  Make roof repairs.  Fix missing, rotten or damaged shingles.  Clean out your roof gutter as well.  Fix water damage quickly.  Mold, mildew, or structural damage can result if you put off repairs.

What Insurance Covers

A standard home insurance policy normally covers water damage that happens abruptly.  This includes appliance or plumbing related damage caused by an unexpected event in your home. However,  water damage caused by lack of routine maintenance is not included. Be sure to address persistent leaks and recurring maintenance issues right away.

Let Us Clean it Up

When it comes to water, flood, or fire and smoke damage,  Flood Department is here to help. We provide water damage repair and clean-up services for homeowners and businesses. We cover Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.  We are dedicated to helping reverse the damage done by water, mold, sewage, smoke and more.  Contact us at 301-829-2600 or visit us online.

 Sources/Links:

https://www.bobvila.com/articles/signs-of-water-damage-in-walls/

https://www.kadecleaning.com/have-you-seen-the-signs-of-water-damage-in-your-home/

https://www.amfam.com/insurance/home/coverages/water-damage

https://19january2017snapshot.epa.gov/www3/watersense/pubs/fixleak.html

https://www.thesilverlining.com/westbendcares/blog/bid/179265/six-tips-to-protect-your-home-from-water-damage

Removing Smoke Odors From Your Home

removing smoke odors

One of the biggest challenges following a house fire is removing smoke odors from your home.  Even a small fire has byproducts that can continue to cause property damage and jeopardize the health of the inhabitants.  Here are some tips to help eliminate the smokysmell quickly and effectively.

Removing the Stench

The flames may be gone, but tiny smoke particles continue to stick to household surfaces and porous materials like carpeting, furniture and books.  How well the odor can be removed depends on the size of the fire, length of exposure and the types of burned materials.  Try the following DIY methods first to remove the smoke odor. If none of them work, it’s time to call in a professional.

Let Fresh Air In

Open all the doors and windows so the outside air can come into your home.  Place fans throughout your house to help push the smoke smell out of the house.  Fresh air will reduce the smell of smoke, but won’t get rid of it all.

Deep Clean Everything

To eliminate the stench completely, you will need to do a deep cleaning of the items and surfaces that were impacted by the smoke.  Remove all fabrics such as curtains, rugs, and furniture covers. Wash or dry clean them. Keep them out of the house until the smoke has cleared.

Smoke particles are especially hard to get out of carpeting and furniture. To absorb odors, sprinkle them with a generous amount of baking soda.  Let it sit overnight, and then vacuum it up.

Wash the windows, screens and shades.  Wipe down all of your solid surfaces including walls, floors and light fixtures with a mixture of dish soap, white vinegar and warm water.  If the DIY cleaning method falls short, you may need to purchase specialized cleaning products.

Make sure you clean the HVAC system. Smoke can get into the ductwork and ventilation system and linger in your home.  Change the heating and air conditioning filters and have your HVAC system inspected for damage..

Do a Repainting Job

If the paint on your walls retains the smoke odor, you’ll have to wash, dry and repaint them to remove the bad smell.  Use cleaning products that contain ammonia or glycol to wash the walls. Apply a primer designed to lock in odors. Repaint the walls with latex paint.

The Scoop on Odor Removers

Save your air fresheners, odor-eliminating sprays and oil diffusers until after the smoke is cleared.  These items only temporarily mask the smell, but don’t get rid of it.

Activated charcoal can reduce the smell of smoke.  Charcoal contains carbon molecules that chemically “trap” smells, clearing them from the air. Most home improvement centers offer a variety of activated charcoal products. Make sure the package reads, “smoke or odor eliminators.”

Smoke that is left to linger in a home can cause headaches, bad smells and even respiratory issues.  Be sure to clear the smoky smell as soon as possible, and consider calling in a professional to do the job.

Let Us Clean it Up

When it comes to water, flood, or fire and smoke damage,  Flood Department is here to help. We provide water damage repair and clean-up services for homeowners and businesses in  Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.  We are dedicated to helping reverse the damage done by water, mold, sewage, smoke and more.  Contact us at 301-829-2600 or visit us online.

Sources/Links:

https://www.standardrestoration.net/how-to-get-smoke-smell-out-after-kitchen-fire

https://www.servicemaster-dak.com/blog/remove-smoke-smell-after-fire

https://www.bobvila.com/articles/smoke-smell-removal/

Preventing Chimney Fires: How to Stay Safe

chimney fires

There is nothing better than cozying up to a warm fire on a cold winter’s night.  The sound of the crackling flames helps us to relax and takes the chill away.  However, as we enjoy the roaring blaze, danger may be lurking. A chimney can quickly catch fire and spread to the rest of our home, causing extensive damage.  Here are some facts you need to know to stay safe.

What Causes Chimney Fires

A dirty chimney is to blame for most chimney fires.  When you burn wood, the smoke contains unburned wood particles. As smoke rises up the chimney, it leaves condensation on the walls of the flue lining in the form of creosote, a black or brown substance.  Creosote builds up in your chimney each time you light a fire and is highly flammable.  It takes just a one-eighth-inch buildup of creosote to spark a fire.

Types of Chimney Fires

There are two types of chimney fires: the fast burn and the slow burn.  Signs of a fast-burning fire include loud popping noises or a low rumbling sound; large plumes of black smoke or sparks coming up through the chimney top; and an intense, hot smell.  If you have a slow-burning fire, it may not be visible. They often go undetected until a chimney inspection, but can still cause plenty of damage.

Signs of Chimney Fires

There are several tell-tale signs that your chimney has previously caught fire.  These include a “puffy” or “honey combed” creosote; a discolored or distorted rain cap; warped metal on the damper; evidence of smoke escaping through mortar joints of masonry or tile liners; cracked or collapsed flue tiles; tiles with large chunks missing; and a heat damaged TV antenna.

 How to Prevent Chimney Fires

  • The first line of defense against a chimney fire is to schedule an annual chimney inspection and cleaning.
  • Burn only dry, properly seasoned firewood. Wet or green wood is a major contributor to creosote production and buildup.
  • Make sure the chimney is properly lined and the liner is in good shape.
  • Have a quality chimney cap installed to keep outside debris out.
  • Make sure the chimney gets enough air. Keep the damper fully open while a fire is burning.

Chimney Maintenance Tips

It is crucial to keep your chimney in working order.  Here are some important safety tips.

The fireplace damper must function properly.   If it doesn’t fully close when the fireplace isn’t in use, outside drafts will get into your home and impact your electric bill.  The damper must always be able to stay open during a fire.

Waterproof the chimney.  Moisture and the elements can weaken the structural integrity of your chimney, cause mold and even damage the walls and floor by the fireplace. Add a water sealant to the outside of the chimney to waterproof it.

Do a regular sweeping.  A good rule of thumb is to clean the chimney after every 50 burns.

How often you have it cleaned will depend on how much you use it.

Get an annual inspection.   Problems won’t always be spotted with the naked eye. You need a professional to do a thorough chimney checkup once a year.

Gas Option

Gas log fireplaces burn much cleaner than wood burning ones.  They produce less harmful smoke and are extremely energy efficient.  Since a gas log fireplace burns up to 99% of the gas used, there’s less soot in your chimney, and less chance of a fire.

Let Us Clean it Up

When it comes to water, flood or fire damage,  Flood Department is here to help. We provide water damage repair and clean-up services for homeowners and businesses in  Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.  For immediate assistance, call us at 301-829-2600 or visit us online.

Sources/Links:

https://www.csia.org/homeowner-resources/the-facts-about-chimney-fires-your-questions-answered/

https://verticalchimney.com/blog/chimney-maintenance-tips/