Where can I find published standards for the restoration industry?
The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) is an international training and certifying organization which sets and maintains industry standards for the entire disaster restoration industry in over 33 countries. The IICRC offers a certification process for companies willing and able to adhere to respectable business practices and strict industry guidelines. More information about the IICRC can be found on their website at www.iicrc.org.
What can I do to help before you get here?
While it is best to leave the restoration process to professionals, there are things you can do to prevent further damage and ensure your own safety…
- Take up saturated area rugs
- Remove lamps, telephones and decorative items from wet furniture tops
- Place aluminum foil squares under furniture legs to protect the furniture and avoid carpet staining
- Inspect surrounding rooms (also above and below) for evidence of additional water damage
- Stay out of rooms where ceilings are sagging from retained water
- DO NOT use a vacuum to attempt to remove water
Can I turn the equipment off at night?
No. The drying equipment should stay running continuously to ensure that drying progresses as it should. Interruption of the drying process may extend the amount of days required and prevent a thorough drying, which increases both the costs, the extent of secondary damage and the potential for antimicrobial growth. It is safe to leave the equipment running while you sleep and during the day.
Are you replacing what you removed?
United Services is a full service restoration company; however, while we DO provide repair services, it is considered a separate service and not automatically assumed after the restoration is complete. If your insurance company is involved, your adjuster can either approve us to perform the repairs or refer another preferred contractor. If you’d like United Services to perform repairs, please contact us to ensure that the project can be scheduled and coordinated.
What is psychrometry?
Psychrometrics or psychrometry are terms used to describe the field of engineering concerned with the determination of physical and thermodynamic properties of gas-vapor mixtures. In human terms, psychrometry is the science of measuring water-vapor content of the air.
How do I know when the structure is dry?
Determining whether water damage has been dried property can be done only with professional moisture detection instruments. Moisture readings should be taken prior to the start of the restoration process and upon completion to ensure the progression and completion of drying.
I have water damage. How can I prevent mold?
Water damage should be mitigated by a certified professional immediately upon its discovery. The sooner the drying process begins, the less potential there is for antimicrobial growth, so rapid response is vital.
How can I safely inspect my house after fire damage?
Dangers still exist even when the fire is extinguished. Do not endanger yourself or your family after a fire event and always keep children and pets away. Try to protect yourself and your family from stress, fatigue and fire related health hazards such as smoke and dust particles. If you feel it is absolutely necessary to enter a fire damaged area you should determine the structural stability, ensure there is no probability of gas leaks, check the power supply, wet down debris, discard hazardous materials safely and always use protective gear such as gloves and masks. It is safest to ensure a professional is with you during your inspection to help avoid any hazards.
What are the best ways to secure my property after fire damage?
After fire damage it may be necessary to board up and/or tarp the structure, windows, doors and roof. United Services provides emergency services to protect and secure the property after a disaster. Also keep in mind that alarms may malfunction if the electricity or telephone service has been interrupted. Break-ins are common after structural damage
What about my contents?
Throughout the restoration and rebuild process it may be necessary to remove your personal property from your home or business for better restoration and for storage until the structural repairs are completed. Typically, contents from the home are removed, inventoried and securely packed. Once at our storage facility, items are unpacked, inventoried, repacked and stored. Before the removal of contents you will be given a list of important things to keep (i.e. passports, paperwork, prescriptions, etc.) that you may require while in temporary living. Feel free to contact us for a tour of our facility.
Will the smoke odor ever go away?
While flames cause significant damage, the effects of smoke may linger long after the burnt material has been removed. For this reason it is important to contact a professional for proper deodorization. We use many methods of deodorization which include but are not limited to: ozone neutralization, thermal fogging and other odor counteractants, cleaning of the ductwork and HVAC systems and sealing of raw structural materials.
What is mold?
Molds are tiny microscopic organisms that digest organic matter and reproduce by releasing spores. Mold is a type of fungi and there are over 100,000 species. In nature, mold helps decompose or break-down leaves, wood and other plant debris. Mold becomes a problem when it goes where it is not wanted and digests materials such as our homes.
What makes mold grow in my home?
There is no way to get rid of all molds and mold spores from your home. Mold is naturally occurring in all environments; however, an excessive amount of mold creates a problem. Mold enters your home as tiny spores. The spores need moisture to begin growing, digesting and destroying. Molds can grow on almost any surface, including: wood, ceiling tiles, wallpaper, paints, carpet, sheet rock and insulation. The mold grows best when there is a lot of moisture from a leaky roof, high humidity or flood damage.
Can mold affect my health?
When molds are disturbed, they release spores into the air. You can be exposed by breathing air containing these mold spores. Most molds do not harm healthy people. But people who have allergies or asthma may be more sensitive to molds. Sensitive people may experience skin rash, running nose, eye irritation, cough, nasal congestion, aggravation of asthma or difficulty breathing. People with an immune suppression or underlying lung disease may be at increased risk for infections from molds.
A small number of molds produce toxins called mycotoxins. When people are exposed to high levels of mold mycotoxins they may suffer toxic effects, including fatigue, nausea, headaches and irritation to the lungs and eyes. If you or your family members have health problems that you suspect are caused by exposure to mold, you should contact your physician. A mold remediation specialist should also be contacted.
When is mold problem?
You know you have mold when you smell the “musty” odor and see small black or white specks along your damp bathroom or basement walls. Some mold is hidden growing behind wall coverings or ceiling tiles. Mold is often found in areas where water has damaged building materials and furniture from flooding or plumbing leaks. Mold can also be found growing along walls where warm moist air condenses on cooler wall surfaces, such as inside cold exterior walls, behind dressers, headboards, and in closets where articles are stored against walls. Mold often grows in rooms with both high water usage and humidity, such as kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and basements. If you notice mold or know of water damaged areas in your home, it is time to take action to control its growth.
What does a mold remediator do?
Understand that mold is everywhere, but in indoor environments when molds and moisture come together they can cause the degradation of structure and lead to adverse medical conditions. The goal of mold remediation is to return the indoor environment to a state we call “normal fungal ecology”.
The Claims Process
Can you give me an estimate? Should I call around for multiple estimates?
In most cases emergency services are provided without a prior estimate, as rapid response is necessary to prevent further damage to the property. When using a contractor referred by your insurance company, it is usually not necessary to receive multiple estimates. These contractors typically work with the insurance company to collaborate a legitimate and agreeable estimate that has been priced according to the industry standard.
Understanding the terms and titles of the insurance world and claims process is confusing.
Agent / Broker- Your insurance agent is the representative that sold you your insurance policy.
Insurance Adjuster (or claims adjuster, claims processor)- Once your submit a claim on your insurance, you are assigned a representative that is responsible for seeing the claim through from start to finish and processing any funds that may be distributed for the claim.
Vendor- Vendors are companies that are providing a service for you through the claim. This may include restoration companies, electronics cleaning companies, dry cleaning companies, repair contractors and other companies that are hired through the process.
Contractor- The word “Contractor” typically refers to the company hired to perform repairs in your home. This may or may not be your restoration company.
Estimate- The word “estimate” has two meanings in the insurance industry. An estimate may be performed before services are rendered (in a non-emergency response situation), or you may hear the word “estimate” to describe the final invoice for services issued to the insurance company.
Restoration- Restoration is the process of stabilizing, drying and restoring your property (structure and/or contents). This term is typically used to describe the emergency services and preparation necessary to prepare a structure for the repairs process, and usually does not include the repairs and rebuilding process.
Mitigation- Mitigation is a term for the emergency response services that reduce the effects of disasters when they occur.
Repairs- Repairs is the process of rebuilding your property after the restoration process is complete.
Who hired you? Do you work for me or my insurance company?
This doesn’t happen to you every day. Knowing this, as a courtesy your insurance company maintains a list of vendors to refer for services you may require. Using a vendor that has been referred by your insurance company many times provides an extra layer of protection, as most insurance companies require vendors to be reputable, licensed, insured, maintain employee background checks and provide some type of service warranty.
It is your property and you are our client.
United Services will work directly with your insurance company (or other third parties such as property managers, etc.) throughout the project to ensure they receive the communications and documentation necessary to process your claim.
How much do you charge?
For standard residential projects, we use Xactimate Estimating Software, which is industry specific software designed to standardize the billing and pricing for the restoration industry. Price lists are updated monthly and specific to the area in which the property is located. The services provided are estimated using this software and standardized price lists, to ensure fair and comparable billing. Commercial pricing may differ.
So how do you get paid?
Typically, estimates and invoices are sent electronically to your adjuster (or other third parties such as property managers, etc.) for approval. The estimate/invoice is carefully reviewed to ensure that the line items and pricing are legitimate and fair. Through the approval process any requested changes are communicated and processed, and the final estimate/invoice is prepared for payment, minus your deductible. Payment for services may be sent to us, but are many times sent to you for endorsement and forwarding. Please review all checks received, made out to you or co-payable to us both, to ensure that they are distributed to the correct parties.
As our Client, you are inevitably responsible for ensuring that payment is rendered for services provided in a reasonable time. Therefore, your assistance in collection of payment from any third parties (i.e. insurance company, mortgage company, property manager) may be required.
You are responsible for your deductible and any amount not covered by your insurance company due to exclusions, limits and other such coverage issues.
When is the deductible paid?
Any applicable deductibles are your responsibility and are due before services begin.