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How to Avoid Home Restoration Scams After a Natural Disaster

10/13/2020 (Permalink)

Natural disasters can create opportunities for unscrupulous people who seek to profit off the misfortunes of others. Here’s how you can protect yourself from home restoration scams. 

Watch for Red Flags

Natural disasters can bring out the very best in people. It’s not uncommon to see neighbors and strangers respond to a disaster by rolling up their sleeves and opening their wallets to help victims recover. Unfortunately, disasters can also create a perfect opportunity for scammers who use the opportunity to make a quick buck. Sadly, the restoration industry is not immune to scams. There are plenty of unscrupulous providers who are all too happy to take your money and run after providing shoddy work or, what’s worse, no work at all.

While restoration scammers can approach homeowners with unique tactics; most share some common traits that make them easy to identify. These include: 

  • They use high-pressure tactics that often include limited-time offers.
  • They demand that consumers sign documents immediately to acquire a now-or-never deal.
  • They ask for up-front cash for the entire amount of the job.
  • They won’t provide a written estimate for the restoration project.
  • They can’t or refuse to provide local references.
  • They ask the homeowner to obtain the building permit.

These red flags are typically a sure sign that you are dealing with a disreputable home restoration contractor. Fortunately, you can protect yourself by asking a few targeted questions.

Questions You Should Ask

Anytime you are hiring someone to repair your home, you should take the time to properly vet the company. Before agreeing to anything, be sure to: 

  • Ask the service provider to show evidence that they are licensed in your state.
  • Ask for references and follow through by contacting each one. 
  • Make sure the company can provide a written estimate with detailed job specifications on the labor, materials, timeline and total charges for the work. 
  • Obtain a written contract that clearly states exactly what will be done, material quality, warranties, the total cost of the job and start and completion dates.
  • Do not sign a contract that has any blank spaces, and make sure you understand your cancellation rights
  • Protect yourself by demanding that the contractor, subcontractor and any suppliers complete and sign a "waiver of lien" form. This will help protect you if the contractor or company doesn't pay its bills and a subcontractor or material supplier decides to place a lien on your home. Unfortunately, this can happen even if you paid the primary service provider in full.
  • Be sure your service provider is fully insured and also carries worker's compensation, personal liability and property damage coverage. Always ask for copies of insurance certificates. If the provider is not properly insured, you could be held liable for damages or injuries that occur during the project.
  • Always check with your home insurance provider to determine the extent of your coverage. 
  • Avoid paying for the project with cash. Instead, pay by credit card or check and always get a receipt.
  • Maintain thorough records, including copies of the contract, as well as any correspondence and change orders.

While it may seem like a headache, doing your due diligence will help ensure that you are getting quality work from a reputable restoration company. By asking some direct questions and following up with some light research, you can identify less reputable service providers before you open your wallet.

Go with a Recognizable Name

To protect yourself from a disaster restoration scam, it’s a good idea to choose a national brand with a recognizable name. This will help ensure that you are working with a trustworthy provider with the ability to meet your needs and the agility to respond quickly to the scene. 

With more than 1,700 Franchises in the U.S. and Canada, SERVPRO is a trusted name in the restoration industry. Whether you need immediate help with emergency flood damage or assistance with cleaning, you can depend on our experienced technicians. 

SERVPRO of Denver East specializes in flawless water damage restoration. Empowered by extensive training, modern equipment and an experienced team of professionals, we can quickly restore your home to its original condition. Contact our team to learn more.

SERVPRO of Denver West Responds to Eastern Iowa Derecho

8/20/2020 (Permalink)

On August 10, a powerful inland storm--also known as a derecho--blew through Eastern Iowa, bringing with it 140 mph winds that are typically only seen in hurricanes. The storm ravaged 10 million acres of local corn crops and tore apart structures in popular Iowa communities like Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Marshalltown. 

In Cedar Rapids alone, more than 800 businesses, homes, and apartment buildings had partial roof collapses, with uprooted trees strewn across yards and roads. The derecho’s powerful winds also tore off siding and brought down power lines, leading to nearly 600,000 Iowans without power. 

While Iowa is no stranger to these storms, this particularly powerful and destructive derecho came with little warning. A key difference between derechos and hurricanes is that hurricanes form over the ocean and are typically tracked days in advance before making landfall. Derechos, however, are much more difficult to predict; less than an hour after thunderstorm warnings were issued, the storm hit, giving residents little to no time to prepare for the destruction it would bring. 

The sum total of the damage caused by this storm is yet to be determined, but it’s highly probable to be in the billions of dollars. One facet of derechos makes them particularly destructive: once they’ve destroyed roofs, they leave the affected structures extremely vulnerable to torrential rains that almost always accompany these types of storms. Home and business owners unlucky enough to have experienced this will likely be devastated to learn of flood and water damage in addition to structural damage. For those lucky enough to pull through the storm with no immediate damage, the possibility of flood water damage due to rising river waters becomes a hazard as well. 

SERVPRO’s mission has always been to provide relief to the fullest extent possible when natural destruction of this magnitude hits. Our disaster cleanup team is specially trained to deal with severe flood and storm damage as a result of severe thunderstorms, hurricanes, and tornadoes.

After the Iowa derecho ravaged Cedar Rapids and nearby areas, the SERVPRO of Denver West team went to the scene almost immediately to provide relief, performing inspections, debris cleanup, water removal / extraction and drying procedures. Our team will continue to provide assistance in Iowa as 30,000 residents remain without power, doing our part to help restore the countless properties destroyed by this event.

This storm hits especially close to home for SERVPRO of Denver West, as our founders once called Iowa their home, and have personally witnessed the destruction that’s been caused by increasingly violent weather patterns in the midwest. 

Despite these trying times, we at SERVPRO believe that challenges of this size and scope, while disheartening to face, ultimately build character and community. As a family-owned business, we understand the emotional weight that such an event can carry. As we continue to provide storm damage relief in Iowa, we hope to also instill compassion, understanding, and care in those affected, to lift that weight as much as possible.

Winter Storm Preparation

7/28/2020 (Permalink)

When the mercury drops in Colorado, it’s often a mad dash to batten down the hatches and prepare for the worst.

Winter storms in our state can be brutal. Between the high winds, freezing rain, hailstorms, and big-time snowfall, both home and business owners do themselves a favor by taking steps to prevent damage to their property. 

What can be done to help stem the damage caused by inclement winter weather in Colorado? Quite a bit, actually. The team at SERVPRO—the fire and water cleanup professionals serving West Denver and the surrounding area—is here to help with some tips. 

Actions to Take Before

As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To prepare for the worst that Colorado weather has to offer, do these five things now: 

  • Sign up for alerts from local news or weather agencies. The National Weather Service or your favorite news outlet are great places to start. Make sure you are a part of whatever email or text-based alert programs they have available. This way, you’ll be made aware of potentially damaging weather before it gets here.

  • Insulate pipes in your home or business. This can be tricky, as many of the pipes that serve water throughout a building can run behind walls and along difficult-to-reach crawl spaces. Locate whatever sections of pipe you can, and use things like old newspapers or insulation material to help protect them from freezing.

    Another great preventative measure is to allow taps to slowly drip the day before an expected freeze.

  • Cover windows with plastic sheeting. Large, plastic sheets with enough surface area to cover windows are available at your local hardware store. This measure can help to insulate the home or business, as windows are often the ‘Achilles heel’ for most buildings encountering freezing weather.

  • Ensure that your property insurance coverage is up-to-date. Check with your insurance provider to make sure that you have adequate insurance coverage in the event that winter weather does cause damage this season.

  • Stock up on supplies that might be necessary in the event of a power outage. Things like batteries, lanterns, blankets, and ready-to-eat food will make periods of power interruption much more bearable. Try to avoid using things like generators or propane heaters as these can be causes for fires.

Even though the public utility companies in Colorado do a fantastic job of getting to work after a winter storm has hit, taking the above-listed actions will go a long way in preempting property damage caused by such a storm. 

Actions to Take After

Even though you might have done all you can to prepare for a bad winter storm, sometimes, the brunt of it can be too much for your property to stand.

Do these things after the storm has hit:

  • Conduct a safety check of your building and land. In the aftermath of a strong winter storm, it’s not uncommon for there to be large accumulations of ice, snow, and slush. These hazards can post a significant post-storm danger. Walk your property and look for any potential safety risks.

  • Document any damage and contact your insurance company as soon as possible. The best time to begin taking account of damage done by a storm is immediately after it has passed. Get your camera out, start taking pictures, and begin the claim process sooner than later.

  • Monitor news sources for emergency information and/or alerts about more weather coming your way. Often, bad weather in Colorado is followed up with—you guessed it—more bad weather. Make sure you’re kept informed about whatever might be coming your way even after the worst of it seems to have passed.

  • Contact SERVPRO to get a jumpstart on fixing damages. Remember that your SERVPRO team is standing by to help restore your property to pre-storm condition. We are experts at working with insurance companies, too, making the entire process much less of a headache than it has to be. 

Whatever winter weather Mother Nature decides to send our way this season, it will pay to be prepared for the worst. Implement the advice contained in this article, and you’ll be doing your part to ensure that you ‘weather the storm’ the best you can. 

Stay safe this winter season, and don’t hesitate to contact your local SERVPRO office to schedule an on-site evaluation of damage caused by inclement weather.

Remember that, when harsh weather strikes, you always have a restoration resource available to you, no matter the damage and no matter the cause.

Maintenance to Prevent Water Damage

7/28/2020 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of West Denver specializes in the cleanup and remediation of water damage

So, as you might expect, we’ve seen some of the worst possible water damage, from burst water heaters to ruptured pipes to actual flooding. 

What’s remarkable about many cases of water damage is that, often, the damage could have been prevented with proper maintenance. This is something that many home and business owners simply do not know, which is why we’re dedicating this week’s blog post to the basic maintenance you can do to prevent water damage to your home or commercial building. 

[Note: Please keep in mind that these tips are not provided as guarantees against water damage, and every property is going to differ when it comes to maintenance best practices.]

#1: Disconnect garden hoses, especially during the Fall and winter months.

We see this a lot: when hoses are left attached to a water source, the standing water within them can often freeze. When this happens, the freezing water expands, and the ice blockage travels inside the building, sometimes causing pipe bursts and subsequent water damage to the property. 

This can happen even when the interior temperature of the building is significantly higher than the outside temperature. As a general rule, disconnect all hoses from their spigots when they’re not in use. 

#2: Perform quarterly inspections of all water-using appliances. 

Every few months, make it a point to inspect the operational condition of the appliances in your home or office. Pay extra attention to the connections between the appliance and the water supply, looking for leaks, corrosion, or loose fittings. 

If your dishwasher, water heater, clothes washer, or other water-using appliance is in need of repair or replacement, doing so sooner than later can help protect you from costly water damage down the line.

#3: Consider installing water detection devices. 

Small, battery-powered devices that detect moisture can be installed near water heaters, toilets, and other appliances. They will emit an alarm when moisture levels reach a certain threshold, giving you the opportunity to get ahead of leaks and overflows before they cause serious damage.

Installing these devices may be overkill for smaller homes, but for those with numerous water-carrying appliances, they can offer much-needed peace of mind. 

#4: Unblock gutters, downspouts, and other external water routing hardware.

It’s tempting to let debris-filled gutters go unattended for months or even years. However, doing so could be setting you up for water damage. 

When the water routing system on your roof isn’t functioning effectively, spillover can wreak havoc on the ground below. Standing water begins to accumulate, and before long, water intrusion starts taking its toll. 

Also, blocked gutters can cause water to collect on the roof. This pooling can freeze in the colder months, causing expansion that can burst gutters and downspouts, causing potentially thousands in damage. 

To address this, inspect your gutters, downspouts and other water runoff routing hardware for signs of blockages, and clear them away on a regular basis. 

#5: Take a water pressure reading.

Most residential and commercial buildings have adequate water pressure regulation, but this isn’t always the case. 

Having exceptionally high water pressure puts a lot of strain on the pipes and valves that are integral to the water transmission system within your home or commercial building. This strain can cause leaking and bursting without any warning whatsoever. 

To take a water pressure reading, buy a water pressure gauge at your local hardware store, install it onto an external water spigot, and then turn the water on to maximum flow. If the water pressure reading exceeds 100 PSI, you’re going to want to install a water pressure regulator (also available at most hardware stores). 

#6: Keep tabs on your water use by checking your bill for spikes.

If your home or commercial building uses a ‘normal’ amount of water most months and then, suddenly, you notice your water bill spike, there could be a leak somewhere. 

Surprise water leaks can be insidious, not to mention very costly. Not only are you paying for the wasted water, but it’s possible the water being wasted is also causing damage to the building. If you suspect this is happening, put on your detective hat and try to get to the source of the mystery water leak. 

Is the Damage Already Done? Contact SERVPRO. 

If your home or commercial building has already been marred by water damage, then it’s time to take action to remediate it. That’s why your local SERVPRO is available, 24 hours a day, to assess water damage and take the necessary steps to repair it. 

To get started, contact us today.

Related Posts: Prevent Water Damage Before It Happens

5 Things to Do to Prevent Further Damage During a Power Outage

7/28/2020 (Permalink)

Power outages are not only an inconvenience; they can also end up causing costly damages. At SERVPRO of West Denver, we’ve seen first-hand the kind of property damage that can come as a result of a power outage. Even though it may seem counterintuitive to think that a power outage itself can cause damage, the truth is that it can start a chain of events that becomes gradually more destructive. 

To help protect yourself against the compounding damage that can come in the wake of a power outage, take these five steps. 

#1: Exercise extreme caution when using candles, stoves, and generators. 

It’s not uncommon to have a stash of long-burning candles tucked away for just such an emergency as a power outage. The use of candles isn’t itself necessarily dangerous; however, unattended, lit candles can quickly start a structure fire, potentially causing thousands in damage. 

A good rule-of-thumb to keep in mind during a power outage is never to use a gas stove to stay warm. As tempting as it may be, gas stove emissions contain carbon monoxide, which can accumulate in the air and cause serious personal harm—even death. 

When it comes to the use of gas-powered generators, always be sure that they’re operated in a well-ventilated area, ideally near a window or exhaust fan. For the same reason using a gas stove to keep warm is a bad idea, generator emissions can also be very harmful. 

Also, never use a charcoal grill as a means of producing warmth indoors. The smoke from burning charcoal can be incredibly dangerous to inhale.

#2: Defend against food spoilage by using ice coolers to preserve existing food.

If the power is going to be out for an extended period of time, then you’re going to need a strategy for preserving your refrigerated food.

While a typical freezer can be expected to stay cool for about 48 hours, the rest of the fridge is going to succumb to higher temperatures by about the 4-hour mark. For this reason, it might make sense to fill a cooler full of ice and preserve whatever refrigerated foods you can. 

Also, try not to open freezer or refrigerator doors more than is absolutely necessary, to conserve the cool. 

#3: Deactivate and unplug appliances. 

This especially applies to older appliances that may not have modern surge protection built into them. 

When the power comes back on after a power outage, it’s possible that the sudden surge of electricity could cause damage to whatever is plugged in. After a power outage has taken place, walk through each room and check to ensure that appliances are in the ‘off’ position and/or unplugged from the wall. 

[Tip: If you live in an area where power outages are especially common, it might be worth investing in a 12-volt battery and inverter combination. Most auto parts stores carry power inverters that can turn 12-volt DC power into 120-volt AC power for supplemental use by critical appliances.]

#4: Stay tuned in to local news outlets or radio transmissions for updates.  

During a prolonged power outage, staying current on developments is critical to mitigating damage. Keep yourself apprised of the power outage status by opting into SMS text alerts from your local utility provider. 

While it is possible for power outages to affect cellular transmission towers, this is very rare, which means you’re likely to still have a cell phone connection during an outage. Use your phone to stay abreast of what’s going on around you. 

#5: Get ahead of water damage.

One of the more common sources of water damage caused by a power outage is thawed ice in the freezer. If you have no use for the ice as a way to keep your perishable food cool during the outage, dispose of it in some other way, so that it doesn’t melt and seep into the floor and walls. 

If the power outage is accompanied by below-freezing weather, don’t forget to allow your faucets to slowly drip until the power is restored. 

What to Do after an Outage

When power is restored, take stock of the condition of the area. Have there been any water leaks? Are all the appliances functioning normally again? Are there any lit candles that need to be extinguished? 

And remember, if there is any damage that results from a power outage, know that your West Denver SERVPRO is here to help with the restoration. 

Contact us today for an on-site evaluation and a no-obligation quote.

Is Storm Damage Tax Deductible?

7/28/2020 (Permalink)

Colorado storms—whether they bring heavy snow, rain, or hail—have the potential to cause millions of dollars in damages for home and business owners. And, because our weather patterns here are so unpredictable, damaging storms are often impossible to prepare for. 

This climatic feature of our state can create a concerning scenario for anyone who has a vested interest in maintaining the condition of any real estate in Colorado, whether commercial or residential. Here among the Rockies, damaging storms are almost always just around the corner. 

To be sure, Colorado roofing firms and general contractors are always hopping busy. It’s clear this is one of the most profitable places for restoration companies to thrive. And, because of the frequency of damaging storms, a common question arises: “Is storm damage a tax deductible loss?”

At SERVPRO of West Denver, we specialize in providing the advanced, comprehensive restoration services that are needed to fix the damage caused by storms in Colorado. We work with both businesses and homeowners, and we’ve seen just about the worst that storms can do (along with the most costly damages you can imagine). 

So, we know a thing or two about the expenses associated with storm damage. 

The Answer Is: It Depends

As you likely know, if you earn money in Colorado, you owe taxes both to the state and to the federal government. 

When you incur a casualty loss—which is the technical, ‘tax term’ for storm damage—your deductions on your state taxes will likely not change. That is, unless you were affected by a national disaster, in which case you’ll want to complete a specific form when you file. More information on this unique kind of state tax deduction can be found here

However, when it comes to filing your federal taxes, there are possible tax deductions for which you might be eligible. A few important conditions must be met, though, in order for your deduction to be legitimate: 

  • Your property must have suffered a loss to its fair market value (FMV) because of a casualty event. This could be much more than a storm, by the way—damage caused by landslides, tornadoes, and even falling aircraft can qualify as casualty losses.
  • If your property was insured, you must complete a timely claim for reimbursement by your insurance company. Uncle Sam wants you to recoup your costs as much as you can before you file for any deductions. Any losses you incur that were not included in your insurance reimbursement would qualify for a deduction, minus a few ‘administrative’ subtractions.
  • You must deduct $100 and 10% of your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) from the calculated loss. Let’s say storm damage destroyed your roof and you need a completely new one. But, your insurance company will only pay for $25,000 of the $30,000 bill. You would take the $5,000 difference, reduce it by $100, and then subtract 10% of your AGI in order to arrive at the proper deduction.
  • You must file this deduction during the tax year when the damage occurred. The only exception to this rule is if your property was located in a designated national disaster area, in which case you have other options for what tax year you can file your deduction in.

For some property owners who work from home, it might be tempting to deduct any loss of income you might have experienced because of storm damage. Unfortunately, the federal government doesn’t consider this a qualifying condition for a tax deduction. 

Commercial properties or income properties are treated slightly differently by the IRS, and it’s advisable to consult with a tax professional in the event your business or income property was damaged by a storm and that damage prevented your property from producing an income. Depending on the extent of the damage and how much income was lost, you could qualify for more than one federal tax deduction.

For Storm Damage Cleanup, Go with the Pros 

Even though the tax code may be complex and confusing, working with SERVPRO to restore your storm-damaged property won’t be. We specialize in doing the ‘dirty work’ required to bring damaged property back from dereliction and destruction at the hands of Mother Nature. 

Our team is expertly trained to swiftly and effectively restore damaged property so that the disruption to your life or business is reduced as much as possible. 

Looking for top-tier storm damage restoration? Contact SERVPRO of West Denver today!

How to Discover Mold

7/28/2020 (Permalink)

Like it or not, mold is an everyday part of our lives. It’s all around us. 

Mold spores propagate very easily, and wherever there is a source of moisture in a house or commercial building, there is the potential for mold to grow. If left untreated, significant mold infestations can become serious health hazards, and the damage caused by mold can be astronomically expensive to repair.

SERVPRO of West Denver is your local, resident expert in all things mold remediation, so we’re here to help with a few steps you can take to discover mold in your own home or office building. 

Mold Identification

By identifying mold early, you can take the steps necessary to eliminate it before the problem gets out of hand. 

The earliest signs of mold are small, black spots that appear in areas of higher-than-normal amounts of moisture. This early stage of mold growth is also referred to as mildew, and without prompt cleaning, mildew will continue to colonize as long as there is a source of moisture and as long as temperatures are within a 40-100° F. 

On its own, mildew doesn’t present a serious health risk except for those who have sensitive allergies or a compromised respiratory system. It does, however, have a distinct odor that can often be detected before visual signs present themselves. This musky, pungent odor is often a sign that mold has taken root and it’s time to identify the source. 

Distinguishing Mold from Dirt

Dirt accumulation can often be mistaken for mold. To determine if you’re dealing with a mold issue or if a surface is simply dirty, all you need is a little household bleach. 

Using a cotton swab or liquid dropper, apply a small amount of bleach to the surface, and then wait a minute or two. Do not scrub or debride the area during this time. 

If the area turns bright white very quickly, it’s likely that mold is there. If, however, there is no change in the coloration of the surface, it could simply be dirty. The reason this test works is because bleach kills mold spores on contact, whereas dirt is unaffected. 

If you’re still uncertain whether you have mold or not, mold test kits are available at your local hardware store. While these kits can help you determine if you’re dealing with mold, they’re not going to identify the source; nor are they going to fix the underlying problem. 

Surface Mildew vs. Mold-Induced Rot

Most mildewed surfaces can be scrubbed clean with a detergent that is specifically effective against mold (diluted bleach works well for this on surfaces that can handle it). However, when mold infiltrates subsurfaces and makes its way into drywall, studs, or other structural areas, rot is the inevitable outcome. 

If mold-induced rot has advanced to the point of affecting these areas, the symptoms are immediately apparent once the exterior surface is penetrated. 

To check for mold-induced rot, use a screwdriver to probe the area. Soft, crumbling wood is a telltale sign that the mold fungus has established itself and that the rotting process is well underway. 

Locating the Root Cause of Rot

Modern plumbing makes homes liveable. We often take for granted the seemingly unending water supply that is at our fingertips through the spigots and faucets located throughout our homes. 

However, leaks in the pipes that carry our water are often the culprits for mold-induced rot. This is why it’s important to check for plumbing leaks if you think you might have a mold issue. 

To do this, check the inlets and outlets of all water-using appliances in your home or commercial building. Be sure to include inspections of your washing machine, dishwasher, ice maker, evaporative cooler, and any other appliance that uses water to perform its function. 

Even a small leak that only produces a few drops of water every day can be all that is needed for a serious mold problem to materialize. 

If you are able to locate plumbing leaks, fix them sooner than later. 

Remember that the second most significant source of moisture in a building comes from outside. So, after inspecting all of your plumbing for leaks, check vents, deck flashing, window wells, and any other interior area that butts up against an exterior area. 

Is Your Mold Problem out of Hand? Contact SERVPRO

Most cases of mildew can be easily addressed using household cleaners. However, when mold growth affects structural areas of the home, more extensive work is needed to restore the area.

To schedule an on-site inspection with a qualified SERVPRO mold remediation expert, contact us today.

Can Mold Make You Sick?

7/28/2020 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of West Denver specializes in mold remediation, whether it’s caused by flooding, neglect, or simply the passage of time. 

Our team is trained to identify molds of all varieties, whether the mold is just taking hold or it’s been lurking in the crawl spaces for years. 

At its best, mold is a nuisance that can be fairly quickly dealt with using the right tools and solvents. At its worst, mold can overtake entire indoor areas, requiring extensive demolishing and replacement of structural support.

For home and business owners who are concerned with mold, the question can arise, “Can mold make you sick?”. This is a reasonable question to ask, because a small amount of common mold may not hold an especially significant health risk. However, other mold strains—regardless how much there is—can be potentially toxic for some people. 

In this blog post, we’re going to tackle the topic of mold toxicity, and we’re going to give you some things to think about if you’re concerned with protecting your health from the damaging effects of mold. 

Not All Molds Are Created Equal

First of all, we want to draw the distinction between the two kinds of molds that exist in the world: those that occur naturally, outside of man-made structures, and those molds that often propagate indoors and are unwelcome visitors. 

Outdoor molds actually play an important role in the health of our environment. Without them, many natural processes would slow or stop altogether, and trillions of biologically useful organisms would die as a result. 

Many strains of indoor molds that can be potentially toxic to humans include: 

    • Fusarium. Fusarium mold is very common in places that are cold and damp, much like most of Colorado can be during the fall, winter, and spring months. Fusarium mold can cause health effects.
  • Stachybotrys Chartarum. This is the commonly termed ‘black mold’ that grows in wet areas that aren’t properly disinfected. This mold is potentially toxic due to its secretions of something called ‘mycotoxins’—microscopic substances that are released into the air.

    Inhaling the mycotoxins released by Stachybotrys Chartarum can result in health effects.
  • Aureobasidium. Aureobasidium mold loves to grow on industrial adhesives. This means you’re likely to find this mold growing behind old wallpaper, in areas of heavy caulking, and on wooden surfaces fused together with putty or wood glue.

    Old, wooden furniture that hasn’t been professionally cleaned in years can exhibit signs of Aureobasidium mold infestation, which can be identified as pink and black blotches.
  • Trichoderma. Trichoderma species of mold, often called ‘trich’ or ‘trick’, is common, green mold. This is the mold strain that is most likely to form on old bread.

    Trichoderma is not highly toxic, and most humans can ingest small amounts of it and be fine. However, for those with compromised immune systems, this kind of mold can cause health effects.

This is just a brief list, and there are even more mold strains and species that could very well find their way into your Colorado home or business. 

What to Do about Mold

The best way to prevent mold is to keep indoor areas dry and clean.

However, even the most ardent cleaning efforts may sometimes come up short in the fight against mold. 

When you locate mold, it’s best to conduct a thorough cleaning of the entire area. This involves:

  1. Sealing off the affected area so mold spores don’t travel to other areas of the building. 
  2. Using warm water mixed with a household cleaning detergent that is antifungal and antibacterial. 
  3. Treating exposed surfaces to diluted bleach.
  4. Repeating steps two and three enough times to ensure that the mold is completely eliminated. 

In some cases, prolonged neglect and/or certain weather events can cause mold to grow into a problem that simple house cleaning cannot remedy. When this happens, it’s time to call SERVPRO.

Our team of mold remediation experts will conduct a thorough appraisal of your mold problem and determine what the best next steps are to return the area to normal. Often, just one or two visits are needed to adequately treat a serious mold problem. In other cases, they can work with you to develop a treatment schedule that will minimize disruption to your home or business. 

If you have a mold problem, we recommend addressing it sooner than later. If left untreated, mold can exponentially develop into a potentially toxic disaster. 

To learn more, contact SERVPRO of West Denver today!

Does Liability Insurance Cover Fire Damage?

7/28/2020 (Permalink)

Structure fires can lay waste to homes or commercial buildings in mere minutes, and the resulting damage can be astronomical. 

Regardless of how a fire starts—be it a result of neglect, natural disasters, arson, or a ‘perfect storm’ scenario—recovering from a fire is often a long and arduous process. Considering this, it’s no surprise so many home and business owners look to insurance coverage that specifically includes protection against losses due to fires. 

With all of the different kinds of insurance you could buy to protect your property from fire damage losses, you might find yourself wondering, “If I buy basic liability insurance, will fire damage be covered?”

SERVPRO of West Denver specializes in fire damage restoration. We know how catastrophic a fire can be, and we understand the disruption they can cause to the normal operation of business or home life. We also know how insurance policies often operate when the time comes to make a claim for fire damage losses. So, in this blog post, we’re going to be answering the question as to whether or not basic liability insurance covers fire damage. 

Liability Insurance, Defined

According to Investopedia, liability insurance:

“...provides the insured party with protection against claims resulting from injuries and damage to people or property.”

Here’s an example of how liability insurance might work in the case of a fire: 

  1. A kitchen fire breaks out in a restaurant. The fire causes damage to the physical structure, and there are no injuries.

  2. The property adjacent to the restaurant incurs fire-related damages. This could be due to smoke exposure or fire propagation.

  3. The restaurant owner had an existing liability insurance policy. The liability policy included specific provisions for liability coverage in the event of a fire.

  4. The restaurant owner did not have insurance coverage against fire-related losses for themselves. Whether this insurance wasn’t purchased because of budgetary reasons or some other reason, the restaurant owner has no recourse to recoup the losses to their own property as a result of the fire. 

However, because the liability insurance carried by the restaurant protected the business owner from third-party legal action resulting from fire damage, the fire’s impact on the adjacent building would be covered by the liability insurance policy. 

When You Think Liability, Think ‘Third-Party’

It’s important to note the distinction between property insurance and liability insurance. When a homeowner buys insurance coverage for their home, that coverage typically includes fire damage that impacts the property in question. However, without liability insurance that specifically protects the homeowner from claims made by a third party, a fire that spreads to a neighboring property might not be covered. 

It’s important to dive deep into the terms and conditions of any insurance policy you may be considering for your home or business. Because fire damages can be so costly, it’s worth the extra time to make sure you have a full understanding of what is and what isn’t covered by the policy. 

Arson

In some cases, fires are intentionally started by those engaging in a criminal activity. As long as the arsonist was not listed as a beneficiary of the policy that protected the home or business, the fire damage would be covered by the property insurance policy. 

Motor Vehicles

Just about every US state has a law that requires drivers to carry Public Liability and Property Damage (PLPD) insurance. This insurance kicks in whenever damage is done to persons or property as a result of an accident caused by the driver. 

However, this kind of coverage is restricted to third parties, not to the driver him/herself or the vehicle itself.

So, if a motor vehicle operator who was only covered by basic PLPD insurance strikes a utility pole and starts a fire that totals her car, the PLPD insurance would cover the damage done to the utility pole and any damage to any person or property aside from the insured and her vehicle.

Comprehensive insurance would be required in order for damage done to the vehicle itself to be covered. 

Have Fire Remediation Questions? Contact Us

Fire damage doesn’t have to mean ‘the end’ for a home or commercial building. In many cases, smaller fires can leave things looking worse than they may actually be. SERVPRO of West Denver has the tools, techniques, and trained staff needed to restore fire-damaged interiors safely, effectively, and quickly.

If your home or business has been damaged by a fire, contact us to schedule an on-site visit with one of our fire damage experts.

How Does the Commercial Restoration Process Work?

7/28/2020 (Permalink)

Disasters such as fire, mold, or even flooding and water damage can happen at any time. But when it happens to a commercial property, not only is the property damaged but also disrupts business operations. Whether it's a small enterprise or large corporation, the devastating effects of any disaster can be confusing and overwhelming to deal with.

Thus, the commercial restoration process must be comprehensive and effective to get your business back running in the shortest time possible. This informative guide is designed to help business and property owners understand the restoration process in the event of a disaster.

Emergency Contact

SERVPRO of West Denver offers 24-hour restoration service. A round-the-clock customer service provides you with quick access to request for restoration services. The restoration process typically begins with contacting the restoration company. On the call, a trained technician will guide you through the process and ease your mind.

Damage Assessment

Upon the arrival of the restoration team, a thorough assessment of your property is done to determine the extent of damage caused. Based on the findings, the team will formulate the best plan of action for the restoration process. At the same time, this will allow them to create an accurate estimate of the expected reconstruction cost and date of completion and obtain necessary permits for restoration.

Document for Insurance

Proper documentation of the damage is crucial when filing an insurance claim. During the assessment phase, it is paramount that you are as detailed as possible when documenting. The documentation can include having photos of your property taken both inside and outside to showcase the extent of the damage. Ensure your pictures are clear and detailed.

This will help determine and prove the replacement costs and will make the claims process a lot easier. At every phase, have your insurance company's details readily available and maintain the necessary info they may need well- organized to ensure a seamless restoration process.

Mitigation and Salvage of Items

Mitigation may be necessary depending on the severity of the damage to prevent any further damage to your property. After disaster mitigation, any salvageable item inside is moved to a secure location. This helps minimize the losses you'd have incurred.

An efficient commercial restoration plan should include cleaning, drying, and deodorizing much of the salvaged items to make them usable again.

Property Cleanup

The fifth phase of the process will include a full cleanup effort. Using advanced restoration equipment, the team will eliminate debris and other contaminants from your property. Then, apply sanitizers and disinfectants to ensure proper compliance with applicable regulations, protocols and best practices.

Property Reconstruction

The last step is the reconstruction phase, which may include doing repairs and renovations. At this time, your commercial property is reconstructed to make it functional again. This is usually the longest part of the process. But the time taken to complete is determined by the severity of the damage sustained.

Working with a professional commercial restoration service like SERVPRO ensures you have the expertise necessary to handle and execute your property reconstruction in a timely, affordable way.

Are you looking for professional commercial restoration services? Contact us today the moment a disaster has occurred to your commercial property for expert mitigation and restoration services.