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.


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.


Restoring Kindness

Flood Department began our Restoring Kindness campaign as a way to recognize and give back to our community. As we watch our lives, families, friends and local community emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic; we wanted to acknowledge our local nonprofit organizations for their continued hard work and dedication.

Flood Department chose the Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Company for our first Restoring Kindness event.
The men and women who make up the MAVFC are hardworking, selfless and have a long standing presence in the community.

Officially joining the Carroll County Fireman’s Association along with the Maryland State Firemen’s Association in 1926, the MAVFC has maintained an integral commitment to Mount Airy residents and support to other local towns and neighbors. From Engine 1, the company’s first Pumper truck put into service late in 1926 to Truck 1, the first aerial ladder truck just put into service on April 3, 2021, the MAVFC continues to put our community first.

Flood Department pledged to give the MAVFC a portion of all the proceeds received during the month of May, 2021. Advertising through post cards, social media and word of mouth, our Restoring Kindness campaign was able to give the Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Company $1,453.15.

On June 3, 2021, members of Flood Department met with members of the MAVFC to tour the fire house, view the restored Engine 1 and the new Truck 1, and present a check for the proceeds. Pictured below is President of MAVFC, Dan Caiola and President of Flood Department, Ken Braden.

It is Flood Department’s honor to be able to give back to our community and we look forward to continuing our Restoring Kindness campaign and recognizing other nonprofit organizations.

The Effects of Mold and Mildew on Your Health

effects of mold and mildew on your health

Mold and mildew are fungi that flourish in wet and moist areas inside and outside of your home. Over time, both types of fungi can cause damage to the surfaces beneath them. Thanks to rapidly-spreading spores that can quickly become colonies, it is hard to control mold growth. If you are experiencing a musty odor in your home and not sure if it is a real problem, you should know more about the effects of mold and mildew on your health.

How Does Fungus Harm Your Health?

Some children and adults are very sensitive to mold and mildew. Symptoms can range from itchy eyes to skin rashes. Those dealing with chronic lung and sinus issues can suffer serious infections after exposure to either type of fungi. One study, conducted by the Institute of Medicine, discovered a link between exposure to a damp indoor environment and respiratory symptoms in healthy people.

The symptoms of fungi exposure include:

    • Coughing and wheezing
    • Rashes
    • Watery or itchy eyes
    • Redness of the eyes
    • Hay fever-like symptoms

In rare cases, people can develop serious reactions, including fever and trouble breathing. Unfortunately, there is no way to predict whether or not someone will have a bad reaction to mold, which makes it even more important to proactively test for it and remove it.

How Is Exposure Treated?

If you are concerned that you have been exposed to mold, you should first try to determine where you were exposed and if the source can be removed. If you cannot get rid of the mold in your home or workplace immediately, you should take antihistamines. These can be purchased over the counter or prescribed by your doctor. If you have a serious reaction, your doctor may need to prescribe corticosteroids or nasal sprays to manage your symptoms.

Controlling Mold In Your Home

        • Monitor humidity levels
        • If you use a dehumidifier or humidifier, be sure to constantly adjust them based on the humidity level in your home, as the level should never be higher than 50%
        • Fix leaks in your home as quickly as possible
        • hire a professional remediation company to remove affected material, thoroughly dry out the area and test to ensure that all fungus is gone
        • Whenever you have flooding, even if it is a small amount in the basement, contact a water damage remediation service to assess the damage, troubleshoot the problem and dry out the area to prevent fungus growth

Protect Your Family’s Health with Flood Department

Flood Department emergency water removal can complete a wide range of mold removal, flood damage restoration and clean-up services. To learn more about our services and whether or not you have a mold problem on your hands, give us a call at 301-829-2600.

Preventing Water Damage in Your Home

how to prevent water damage in your home

A burst pipe, leaking appliance or terrible storm could lead to water damage in your home, as well as large expenses and homeowner’s insurance claims. To keep your home safe from the costly and stressful effects of water damage, here are some of our best tips on how to prevent water damage in your home!

Check the Outside of Your Home

Are there any hoses connected to your home with standing water inside of them? In the best-case scenario, the hose will freeze and stop water flow. In the worst-case scenario, the water will cause your pipes to explode and create serious damage to the walls, floor and foundation of your home. You should also take the time to check your gutters and downspouts. Are they both free of debris? If you allow debris to accumulate, it can lead to blockage and ice dams. Standing water on your roof can also lead to serious damage that requires professional repairs or replacement.

Pay Attention to Your Appliances

Inside of your home, you should take the time to check your appliances regularly for any leaks. Are there pools of water around the base of your dishwasher or washing machine once you are done using them? Any signs of leaks or water problems should be taken seriously and dealt with as quickly as possible. A small leak can become a big problem over time.

Keep an Eye on Your Water Pressure

If water pressure is set too high, pipes and hoses might break under the pressure. Use a water pressure gauge on an outside faucet to check how strong your water pressure is. Install the gauge and turn your faucet as high as it will go. Most homes have pipes that are designed for water pressure between 40-70 psi. If your home’s pressure is higher than 100 psi, you should install a pressure regulator to reduce the likelihood of a burst pipe.

Use a Drain Snake

Even if you do a great job keeping your kitchen and bathroom clean, there is a chance that blockages in your pipes will occur. While it’s okay to use a high-powered drain cleaner once or twice to get things moving, you should avoid using them frequently. Using them too often can lead to pipe damage. Instead, purchase a drain snake to fish out whatever is blocking the way. They can often cut through tough clogs with ease and get things moving again.

Remedy Water Damage with Flood Department

Flood Department emergency water removal can complete a wide range of mold removal, flood damage restoration and clean-up services. To learn more about our services and whether or not you have a mold problem on your hands, give us a call at 855-350-0360.

Warning Signs That You Have a Mold Problem

warning signs of mold

While the mold on the old slice of bread in your bread basket isn’t inherently dangerous, the mold lurking behind your walls might very well be. Household mold is incredibly common and, depending on the variety, also very dangerous. It can be hard to tell whether or not you have a mold problem if you don’t know what to look for.

Warning Signs of Mold: Your Health

If you have a mold problem in your home, you might be experiencing symptoms that feel a lot like seasonal or household allergies. If your symptoms improve when you leave your home and seem to get worse when you’ve been at home for longer periods of time, there’s a chance that it’s a mold problem. The warning signs of mold include:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy, sore or scratchy throat
  • Runny nose
  • Sinus pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Irritated and itchy skin

Depending on the type of mold in your home, there might be many serious consequences of long-term exposure including organ damage, cancer, internal bleeding or death.

Warning Signs of Mold: Your Home

If you take the time to pay attention when walking around your home, you can often detect the early signs of a mold problem.

  • Musty Odor: Every mold does not produce a smell, but many of them do. If you have a lingering musty odor, there might be mold in your home.
  • Visible Mold: It might go without saying, but visible mold is definitely a sign that you have a mold problem. Some molds appear to be white, while others look like clusters of dark black spots. Mold can be almost any color, including gray, green, brown, pink, purple or orange. If you are not sure whether or not a growth in your home is mold, don’t hesitate to call the experts at Flood Department.
  • Water Leaks: If you have a persistent water leak in your home or just discovered one, there’s a good chance that mold has been growing behind the scenes. Leaks behind walls or in areas of the home with poor circulation, like your basement, will lead to mold over time.
  • Water Damage: Water damage does not occur without a source of moisture, so signs of water damage could also mean that there is mold present. Cracking or peeling paint, bubbling in wallpaper and discoloration are all signs that mold-friendly conditions are present in your home.
  • Past Flooding: If your home experienced flooding in the past (especially if you did not use professional mold remediation services), there is a high likelihood that there is some type of mold present.

Correct Your Mold Problem with Flood Department

Flood Department emergency water removal can complete a wide range of mold removal, flood damage restoration and clean-up services. To learn more about our services and whether or not you have a mold problem on your hands, give us a call at 855-350-0360.

My Property Is a Crime Scene: Now What?

what to do if your property is a crime scene

No property owner ever wants to deal with the stress, trauma and ugly realities of a crime scene. The aftermath of a violent crime is not pretty, and if a crime occurs at your place of business or your home, you need to take steps to restore the property back to normal as quickly as possible. So, now what? Here’s what to do if your property is a crime scene.

Notify the Proper Authorities

You should always call the authorities before doing anything else. Never move things around at a crime scene, unless someone is in immediate danger. Wait for police and paramedics to arrive before you attempt to start the clean-up process and follow any instructions that the police give you. If the building is sealed while the crime is investigated, you will need to find temporary housing if it is your home. You may also want to make an insurance claim, depending on how much business you lose and the funds needed to restore things.

Call a Crime Scene Cleanup Service

Once the scene has been cleared, your next step should be calling a crime scene cleanup company like Flood Department. Under no circumstances should you attempt to clean the scene yourself. The scene will contain numerous dangerous biological contaminants, like blood and bodily fluids. Bacteria and viruses like Hepatitis, HIV and C-diff all survive in blood, and coming into contact with the pathogens could harm you or someone else.

Trauma cleanup can take care of decontaminating and deodorizing the scene. All crime scene cleanup workers are trained in proper remediation methods and have professional equipment, chemicals and tools to safely treat anything left behind. While we can never remove the horrors that happened at your place of business or house from your mind, we can remove every trace of them from your property.

Keep Information Together

You should keep any information that the crime scene cleanup company and your insurance company will need to know in a central location. Keep track of where the incident occurred, any contents of your property that were affected and the measurements of the area. You will need detailed lists of things that were damaged before making a claim, including flooring, drywall, furniture and anything else.

Crime Scene Cleanup from Flood Department

Flood Department can complete a wide range of mold removal, flood damage restoration and crime scene clean-up services. To learn more about our services and whether or not you have a mold problem on your hands, give us a call at 855-350-0360.

The Most Common Types of Indoor Mold

common types of mold

While some indoor molds are worse than others, none of them are a good thing to spot. Understanding the most common types of indoor mold will help you to identify them and any potential threat to your family’s health.


This mold species is commonly found in basements that are not waterproofed and that have experienced high moisture levels or basement flooding. Cladosporium can cause severe asthma attacks, so it is important to remove it the moment that it is detected. Inside, this indoor mold can be spotted on carpeting, flooring, acrylic walls, underneath wallpaper and in insulation. Cladosporium is deep green, brown and black and expands into branching colonies. This mold appears to be fuzzy and is soft to the touch.


This is more commonly known as black mold, which is highly toxic to humans and, after short-term or long-term exposure it can lead to a wide range of health problems. Stachybotrys thrives in warm conditions and grows along damp surfaces. It appears in long streaks and is black or dark blue in color. It appears to be slimy and will smear if you touch it.


Aspergillus is a type of indoor mold that can weaken the immune system and cause health issues. It grows along wallpaper, flooring, carpeting, upholstered furniture, gypsum board, insulation, plastic, leather and wood. It is green and white and forms in circular patches. It appears to be soft and will crumble if you touch it.

Why Is Mold So Dangerous?

Indoor mold can be very toxic and have long-term effects depending on the length of exposure and the mold species. Seniors, pregnant women, children and anyone with pre-existing health conditions will be disproportionately affected. The health effects of mold can range from mild sensitivity to chronic conditions.

Those with mold sensitivity typically experience:

  • Congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Dry, sore, itchy or watery eyes
  • Skin rashes and irritation
  • Headaches

Anyone with an existing respiratory illness, like an upper respiratory infection, asthma or lung illnesses can also react severely to mold. Indoor mold can even cause dangerous conditions like asthma to develop in children.

Indoor mold exposure, in the most severe cases, can lead to:

  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Cancer
  • Pulmonary bleeding
  • Kidney and liver conditions
  • Immune system and blood conditions
  • Neurotoxicity

If you find mold in your home, you should call an experienced mold remediation professional to take care of the problem. Never attempt to remove mold on your own.

Remove Indoor Mold with Help from Flood Department

Flood Department can complete a wide range of mold removal, flood damage restoration and clean-up services. To learn more about our services and whether or not you have a mold problem on your hands, give us a call at 855-350-0360.

What Should I Do After a Flood?

what should i do after a flood

Just a few weeks ago, the second tragic flood in two years struck Ellicott City, MD. While the level of flooding that occurred is not easily remediated, smaller floods due to heavy rain have become commonplace in many Maryland homes. What should you do if your home is full of water?

Prevent Further Risks

If the flood that happened was so severe that you needed to leave your home, you should take care when returning to the property. Check for structural damage like cracks, warping or holes before entering the property. You should also contact your utility provider immediately if you are concerned about damage to water, electric, sewer or gas lines. Turn off all water and electricity supplies to the home to prevent further hazards.

Take Photos

Before you remove water, you should thoroughly document the damage to your home in photos and videos. Your insurance company will need to see as much evidence as possible to determine what you will receive for the damage. If you remove water or items before you take the time to document everything, you could decrease your insurance coverage and be unable to afford the necessary repairs.

Protect You and Your Family

Even if the water sitting in your home appears to be clear and clean, there is a high probability that it has been contaminated by sewage, chemicals and debris. Before entering, you should put on waders or waist-high waterproof boots. You should get rid of any perishables that have had contact with the water. You should call a professional water remediation company like Flood Department.

Call Your Insurance Company

You should notify your insurance company as quickly as you can after a flood occurs. If the entire area around you has been affected as a result of heavy rains, remember that your insurance agent might be overwhelmed with calls. Most groundwater flood damage is not covered by the average homeowner’s insurance policy, so if you do not have flood insurance, you will also need to figure out what caused the flooding and what can be covered. If the cause was inside of your home (a pipe, for example), your insurance policy might cover more.

Stop Mold Damage

Once water has been removed, you should take immediate action to prevent mold from accumulating. Mold can rapidly develop within 24-48 hours of flooding. Anything wet inside of the home, like bedding and carpeting, should be removed right away. Again, you should photograph all flood-damaged items and contact your insurance company to make sure that throwing those items away won’t hurt your coverage.

Flood Cleanup from Flood Department

Flood Department can complete a wide range of mold removal, flood damage restoration and crime scene clean-up services. To learn more about our services and whether or not you have a mold problem on your hands, give us a call at (301) 829-2600.

The Causes of Attic Mold

what causes attic mold

There are plenty of things stored in your attic—old yearbooks, your wedding dress and seasonal decorations waiting for colder weather to roll around. However, there can be less-than-desirable things also hiding in your attic. Attic mold is a health hazard for your family, and it can do serious damage to your home. What causes attic mold attic mold?

A Leaky Roof

If you have a bad leak in your roof, the water might leak into your attic and then drip through the floor underneath to give you a heads up. While that’s a pain, you will at least know the problem before it can get even worse. However, sometimes small leaks in the roof go unnoticed until someone goes upstairs to grab a box and sees an old puddle. Even if you have the mold removed, it will always return until you get the roof repaired.

Insulation Issues

Did you DIY your insulation? Missing insulation or poorly installed installation can also foster mold growth. The wrong type of insulation can trap moisture from the lower level of the home that rises and lead to mold. If you used insulation on top of insulation and chose one with foil or paper backing, you might have created a vapor barrier that will lock moisture in and encourage attic mold.

Vents and Fans Leading to the Attic

If your dryer vent, plumbing vent, kitchen fan or bathroom fan is routed into the attic, the moisture in the air can get trapped and cause mold growth. Since mold needs three things to grow (food, moisture and warmth), keeping a warm flow of moist air into your attic can cause attic mold to thrive.

Water Heaters or Furnaces in the Attic

While traditionally the basement was the only place that water heaters and furnaces were installed, modern homes can be built with either or both installed in the attic. This technique can allow you to have a gorgeous spa tub in the bathroom, but it can also add even more moisture to your attic and lead to attic mold.

Attic Mold Testing and Remediation from Flood Department

Flood Department can complete a wide range of mold removal, flood damage restoration and crime scene clean-up services. To learn more about our services and whether or not you have a mold problem on your hands, give us a call at 855-350-0360.