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Determining Your Home’s Risk Level During a Flood

9/10/2019 (Permalink)

A house surrounded by flooded water Flood zone in West Falmouth, ME

When a major storm hits your neighborhood, the results can be devastating. For those living in a flood zone in West Falmouth,ME, the risk of serious or total loss of your home and possessions is significantly higher. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has mapped out these areas, since your home’s location will help determine whether you need flood insurance and how much assistance FEMA will provide.

Understanding Flood Risk Levels

FEMA has built an ever-evolving map, called the Flood Insurance Rate Map, that allows homeowners to easily see whether they live in a flood zone. There are three main designations in which your home can fall:

  1. Special Flood Hazard Area: Homes in this area have a 1 percent chance of flooding in any given year, often referred to as the 100-year flood
  2. Moderate flood hazard area: Often more inland, homes in this area have a 0.2 percent chance of flooding, known as the 500-year flood
  3. Minimal flood hazard: Those homes located in higher elevations are considered unlikely, though not impossible, to fall victim to floods with a probability higher than 0.2 percent

Note that the 100-year and 500-year flood designations do not indicate that these types of storms are expected to only happen once every 100 or 500 years. While unlikely, they can happen multiple times a year, but the designation comes from the probability that flooding will occur in any given year, so a 1-in-a-100 and a 0.2-in-a-500 chance, respectively.

Where To Determine Your Risk Level

The FIRM mentioned above can be found on the FEMA website. Here you will be able to input your address and easily see the flood zone in which your home is located. This site also has valuable information, including insight on obtaining flood insurance, which you will need when you begin the flood cleanup and restoration process.
Knowing the risks associated with your home’s location will allow you to have a plan of action ready in the event of a major flood, which will help you get your home, and your life, back to normal more quickly.

A Professional Response to Smoke and Fire Damage

8/21/2019 (Permalink)

employee on lift cleaning ceiling Cleanup process in a Windham, ME commercial building

Fire has a tremendous capacity for destruction and is one of the most widespread and common risks when it comes to commercial properties. As a result, most businesses have insurance coverage that includes protection against fire losses. When flames do break out, business owners contact professionals to respond to the fire and smoke damage. With the right equipment, these professionals help business owners get their properties back into working condition.

The Scope of Destruction

Experienced fire and smoke cleaning technicians understand that fire damage goes beyond the direct destruction. They take quick action to respond to several fire-related issues:

  • Stains left behind by soot resting on porous surfaces
  • Mold and mildew growth after the use of water to put out flames
  • Corrosion on metal surfaces exposed to water and oxygen
  • Poor air quality as smoke and mold particles hang in the air

The longer commercial properties sit after smoke damage occurs, the more likely it is that the extent and scope of the destruction will increase. The best response to fire and soot damage is to act as soon as possible.

Assessment of the Damage

As professionals arrive at a commercial property to respond, they'll assess the amount of fire, smoke, and water damage. As they begin their inspections, technicians also focused on safety. There are several safety risks inherent in the destruction left after a fire. Experienced fire damage cleanup and remediation professionals are certified and licensed to enter the property. In addition to training and authorization, they have the proper protective equipment to enter weakened structures.

The Cleanup Process

With safety procedures underway, cleanup and restoration professionals are ready to secure entry points and property breaches (such as broken windows and holes in the roof), establish security against further destruction, and begin removing debris. Technicians also remove as much equipment and inventory as possible. At this point, water removal and deep cleaning can begin.

The end goal of the cleanup work is to remove all evidence that a fire took place. When Windham, ME, properties are affected by the fire and smoke damage, the work of professionals begins with safety and results in pristine buildings.

Why Your Business Needs Flood Insurance

8/21/2019 (Permalink)

flood insurance document with glasses and a pen Storm damage can be devastating to a commercial building. However, with proper flood insurance, your losses will be covered.

With Proper Flood Insurance, Your Losses Will be Covered

If you own a business in Falmouth Foreside,ME, you may think that regular property insurance for your office building is sufficient. However, general commercial insurance policies, including Business Owners Policies and Commercial Package Policies, do not cover flood damage.
That is why you need to buy separate flood insurance for your building. This insurance provides coverage for flood damage, which can be caused by:

  • Snowmelt
  • Prolonged or heavy rains
  • Broken levees or dams
  • Storm surges
  • Overflowing streams and rivers
  • Blocked storm drains

Flood cleanup after any of these disasters can be extensive. Insurance, however, can cover the cost of replacement items and any water damage repair. In fact, if your property is in a high-risk zone, you may have to buy a flood policy as part of the terms of your mortgage.

What Isn't Covered

While a flood policy is a great way to protect your business in case of a storm, this type of insurance doesn’t cover everything. Most policies do not cover damage to septic systems, business vehicles or landscapes.

How To Get a Flood Policy

To protect your business from flood damage, you can contact a private insurer. You can also get coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program. While you cannot buy insurance from the NFIP directly, the organization can refer you to a qualified agent who can get a policy for you.
A typical flood policy usually provides $500,000 in coverage for the contents of your building and another $500,000 for the structure itself. If you think your property is worth more than this, or if you are worried about an expensive storm cleanup, you can also purchase excess coverage. Excess insurance may even compensate you for the temporary closure of your business following a flood.
Storm damage can be devastating to a commercial building. However, with proper flood insurance, your losses will be covered.

What Steps Should I Take After a Sewage Backup?

8/21/2019 (Permalink)

man wearing white protective gear Use of protective gear while cleaning sewage backup

Initial Steps o Take In a Sewage Cleanup Process

The moment you discover a sewer backup at your home in West Falmouth,ME, panic is likely to set in. A flooded toilet is one sign that a disaster is looming. Your floor may already be flooded with water and debris, accompanied by a foul odor. It’s overwhelming, but immediate action must be taken to minimize damage. Here are the initial steps to take in the sewage cleanup process:


Get Ready for Cleanup


First, it’s important to turn off the electricity if there are any appliances or other electronics in the standing water. Wear protective gear such as safety goggles, rubber gloves and boots. Do not flush toilets.


Start the Drying Process


Standing water is best removed with a wet/dry vacuum; it can quickly eliminate water and debris. Soak up the remaining water with a mop or towels. The area will need to be thoroughly dried. Turn up the heat in the area, use space heaters and dehumidifiers.


Discard Contaminated Property


Any porous items that aren’t easily sanitizable should be thrown out. This includes big items like mattresses, upholstered furniture, carpeting and rugs. Toys such as stuffed animals should also be discarded. Affected drywall will need to be cut out above the waterline.


Sanitize Everything


During the sewage cleanup process, it’s critical that everything is thoroughly sanitized, even tiny crevices, furniture, walls and appliances. You can mix up your own disinfectant (one part bleach to nine parts water) or use a commercial heavy-duty disinfectant.


Call Professionals


Unless you have professional equipment, you probably won’t be able to sanitize everything as well as it should be. It‘s likely that a stench will still be present after the cleaning. Now it’s time to hire sewage cleanup specialists to complete the job.


Call Insurance Company


If you have enough damage to file an insurance claim, take pictures of the damage. Call your insurance company to get instructions on how to navigate the claims process.
The faster you act after a sewer backup, the less damage to your property. It’s imperative that the sewage cleanup process is completed as quickly as possible.

Should You Buy a Property Without a Mold Inspection?

7/25/2019 (Permalink)

Windows - Rainwater leaks and condensation from humidity can cause mold formation

As you consider purchasing a commercial property in Gorham, ME, you likely have a checklist of things to look for. The building should suit all your business needs, but you also want to ensure that it is in good structural condition. This means checking for signs of mold and knowing when you may need a mold inspection.

Know Where to Look

Mold grows best in damp, moist conditions. As you walk through the property, consider any areas of the building that fit this description, and keep an eye out for signs of water damage. Some notable places to look for visible mold include:

  • Bathrooms - Check near showers, sinks, tubs and toilets.
  • Basements - Pay attention to signs of leakage or condensation on pipes, as well as flood-prone areas.
  • Windows - Rainwater leaks and condensation from humidity can cause mold formation.

Of course, not all mold is outwardly apparent. It can lurk within HVAC ducts and behind walls, ceilings or floorboards. If you notice any current or previous signs of water damage, you may want to have a professional mold inspection done.

Inspection and Remediation

If there are no signs of mold or water damage, it may not be worthwhile to pay for a mold inspection. However, if you suspect a problem, trained inspection and restoration experts can help you determine the extent of the issue and figure out a cleanup method. The good news is that even if your ideal property has a slight mold problem, this does not mean it is out of the running. With the assistance of skilled mold remediation specialists, you can fix the source of water fueling the mold growth and move ahead with a full cleanup and mold removal.

Whether or not an inspection is necessary depends on the condition of the property and if there are signs of water damage. In either case, it is important to know that with professional help, many buildings can make a full recovery in the aftermath of a mold problem.

The Purpose of a Flood Cut

7/23/2019 (Permalink)

Flood cuts performed in a Portland, ME home.

After a storm rages in Portland, ME, it is likely that your home will experience a bit of flooding. When this happens, you will probably hear the water remediation technicians you hire talk about making a flood cut. A flood cut is a mark that is made 12 inches above the spot where the water damage stops. Specialists tear out everything below the flood cut to stop the spread of contamination and prevent mold growth.

Q/A Regarding Flood Cuts.

Here are some common questions about this process.

  1. What Circumstances Require a Flood Cut?

Any time there is damage that cannot be dried with a fan, professionals are probably going to use a flood cut to be on the safe side. Insulation cannot be dried, so if there is wet insulation, the wall has to be cut out and the insulation removed. If the water is contaminated by storm-related debris or sewage, the wall must be discarded. If tests show any harmful microbes, the affected area must go.

  1. Why Does the Flood Cut Have To Be a Foot Above the Damage?

Water damage from flooding does not like to stay politely in its place. What technicians can see with the naked eye may only be the beginning of the story. Placing the flood cut 12 inches above the visible water damage ensures that everything affected is remediated.

  1. Is There Any Way To Save the Wall?

If the water damage is minimal and no insulation is affected, it is possible that quick removal of water and fast drying techniques can allow the wall to be salvaged. The water in question must also be clean. If it is contaminated at all, the wall has to be replaced.

Flooding in Portland, ME, may cause damage to your home. While technicians will do everything they can to avoid removing walls, a flood cut may be required to make sure your home is completely restored.

How To Keep Your Pets Safe in the Case of a House Fire

7/18/2019 (Permalink)

Remember to include your pet in your fire escape plan

Pets become part of the family and, for some people, their safety matters almost as much as their own kids! In the event of a fire emergency or other disaster in Westbrook, ME, it’s important to prepare ahead of time for both your family and pets.

Pet Evacuation Plan

Many families with small children create a fire emergency escape plan and occasionally practice evacuating the home. It’s a good idea to include your pets while you’re running through your drill, and even including some pet training if possible so they’re more likely to be cooperative in a time-sensitive situation. It may also be a good idea to prearrange a place for your pets to stay if you’re unable to return to your home for a period of time.

Preventative Pet Preparation

If you have a disaster or fire emergency kit that you know to grab as you leave the house, prepare one for your pets as well. This can include:

  • Pet ownership and vaccination records
  • Food and water supply and dishes
  • Feeding instructions
  • Medications and instructions (if applicable)
  • Leash and collar/harness
  • Pet carrier and bedding/blankets
  • First aid kit
  • Cleaning supplies

In the case that you’re not home when a fire breaks out and firefighters need to enter, keep your pets near the door when you leave and keep leashes and your fire emergency kit in a visible place. There are also “pet alert” stickers you can place on a visible window with the number of pets in your home so they aren’t left behind.

Pet Safety

Pets are an important part of most families, and if disaster strikes, it’s always better to be prepared. Create your emergency kit using the checklist provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and include your pets when you practice evacuating the home. This type of preparedness takes time, but the peace of mind it brings will be well worth the effort.

Identifying and Fixing Flood Issues After a Storm

7/9/2019 (Permalink)

Flooded basement in Portland, ME

A heavy storm in Portland, ME, can affect your home in several ways. One of the main issues to look out for is a flooded basement. Water can get into the lowest level of your home through various means. First you must identify the problem. Then you can take measures to resolve it.

Where Did It Come From?

When you see water in your basement, the first thing to figure out is where it came from. When it's wet outside, flooding can come from many places:

  • Seepage from excessive groundwater
  • Water running down exterior walls into cracks in the foundation
  • Clog in your home's sewer line
  • Sewage backing up from clogged municipal line

Locating the source of the floodwater is key. This is the first step to figuring out whom to call or how to stop more water from getting into your basement.

How Do You Prevent Flooding?

There are quite a few ways to lower the chances of a flooded basement. Keep gutters and downspouts clear so that they can direct water away from your foundation. Have your foundation inspected for cracks frequently. Perform regular maintenance on your home sewer lines to keep them free of clogs, and install backflow valves to prevent sewer backup from city lines.

How Do You Prevent Damage?

Even the most vigilant maintenance regimen can't prevent all flooding. You can minimize damage, though. Elevate all sensitive appliances and equipment at least 18 inches off the ground. Store heirlooms and important documents in waterproof containers on a high shelf. Install a sump pump in your basement to remove excess water when it floods. You may still need flood restoration specialists to mitigate the damage to your basement floor and walls, but at least you can keep important items out of harm's way.
A strong storm can easily lead to a flooded basement. Identify the source of the flood and taking the appropriate steps to fix it.

5 Things You Should Do Following A Fire

6/27/2019 (Permalink)

Board the building up if needed to prevent weather damage or looting

There are many things that could start a fire at your business in Falmouth Foreside, ME; electrical or machinery malfunctions, space heaters and placed too close to flammable materials or plugged into an extension cord, even an overcrowded outlet or a glitch in a break room microwave. Lightening during an intense thunderstorm can also cause a hazardous fire, but is much less likely than things that can go wrong during an everyday work situation.

Encouraging employees to be careful, replacing defective appliances and machinery, and having your electrical system inspected regularly can all help prevent a fire disaster. Sometimes, however, prevention is not enough and the unexpected can happen.

5 Steps To Take Immediately After a Fire

There are several things that need to happen right immediately following a blaze before fire restoration can begin. There are also some big don’ts. Here is a helpful list to keep in mind.

  1. Call 911, then get everyone out and to safety, if possible
  2. Call your fire insurance company for instructions
  3. Board the building up if needed to prevent weather damage or looting
  4. Do not let anyone go back into the building prior to an inspection and an OK that it is safe.
  5. Do not touch anything or try to do anything about the damage yourself – it is possible to get injured or to void your insurance company’s requirements of coverage.

Getting Professional Help can Make it Easier

The best thing you can do next is to get help from a professional fire restoration service in Falmouth Foreside, ME. They can perform a through assessment of the damage and help you file the report for fire insurance. They can also direct the cleanup and removal of destroyed materials, smoke cleaning and help with restoration of your building.
Although a blaze can be a serious setback for your business, you can take some comfort in knowing that your local fire restoration service can help. As always, prevention is the best route, but if an unforeseen fire happens, following these steps can help get you back on track.

Tips for Avoiding a Dryer Fire

6/26/2019 (Permalink)

Cleaning your Portland dryer vent will prevent future fires from lint and dust.

Though you and your family probably take the time to exchange chore duties in your Portland, ME, home, some cleaning tasks inevitably fall by the wayside. One of these tasks includes keeping your dryer maintained and well-kempt, preventing a potential dryer fire in the process. Here are three helpful tips for avoiding a fire through your home’s dryer, whether it be due to a lint fire, an electrical issue or something more hazardous.

3 Helpful Tips for Avoiding a Dryer Fire

  1. Be sure to clean the lint filter before and after every load of laundry. While cleaning out lint from the trap can easily be overlooked, creating a schedule to regularly follow can quickly make the task become a common habit in your family. This prevents considerable lint and dust build-up from forming near the heating element, eliminating a possible dryer fire hazard with every use thereafter.
  1. Make it a priority to snake out your air exhaust vent pipe. A lint fire can erupt just as easily through the exhaust pipe as the filter since air flow can become restricted in the ventilation path due to build-up over time. Not only should professional inspections be conducted on a consistent basis but the outside vent ducting should be unblocked from time to time, as well.
  1. Frequently inspect for and remove any dust collection behind the dryer, and ensure that flammable items aren’t resting too close to the heating element. Excess dust, lint and dirt can collect on the electrical wiring and tubing behind your dryer, so using a duster or vacuum to remove build-up is crucial to keeping the machine working properly and safely. Furthermore, be wary of storing any flammable objects or chemicals near the heating element. 

While perfectly maintaining your Portland, ME, home at all times can be impossible due to everyone’s busy schedules, making dryer maintenance a priority is vital to preventing a potential lint fire in your residence.