Frequently Asked Questions Following a Home Fire
We understand the stress and worry a homeowner may feel following a fire event in their home. Our fire damage restoration team has the knowledge and experience to help ease your worries during the restoration process. We do this every day and our purpose is to not only make it "like it never even happened", but also to be a resource for your during the claims process. Below are some frequently asked questions during the beginning of the claims process.
How long will this take?
A complete recovery from a fire event at your home or business can take weeks or months depending on how extensive the damage is. How badly was the property’s structure affected? Does the roof need to be repaired? How much of the structure needs to be removed and replaced? The answers to these questions and several others will determine a clearer project timeline. Before beginning the restoration process, we will give you an estimated project completion date and update you along the way if any changes need to be addressed.
How do you determine what was affected by the fire?
The fire may have been contained to one room in your home or business, but soot can travel via your air conditioning system to several other areas throughout the property. Soot is often hard to detect with the naked eye, but with time acidic soot will lead to discoloration and erosion of materials. Our fire project manager will utilize dry sponges to test areas in your home or business for hard to see soot. Therefore, if soot is discovered in a certain room, then the structure and contents of that room must be cleaned.
How much will this cost? How do you write the estimate?
We use Xactimate to create our estimates. Xactimate is a software program used by all insurance companies for restoration project estimation. The prices for each line item are set within the program and accepted by insurance companies. All estimates include labor, time, and materials required. Again, we will send final estimate and any required supplements directly to your insurance company. The estimation process is exceptionally detailed, tedious, and dependent upon services rendered. That being said, a conclusive estimate can only be completed once the project is finished due to the nature of the restoration process.
What is subrogation?
Subrogation occurs when the insurance company believes a third-party is responsible for the damages and seeks legal action to recover costs for the claim. When subrogation is necessary, the insurance company may not allow anyone to work in the affected area while the investigation is pending. The investigation process may greatly affect our ability to perform services and extend the projected completion date. Our team will have no control over this. Please refer to your insurance company for any questions regarding subrogation.
What should I do now?
If an insurance claim has not already been opened, then calling your insurance company and doing so is the first step. Request a copy of your insurance policy declaration page from your insurance agent or claims specialist to review your coverage. Learn how much coverage you have for structure (labeled dwelling) and for contents. You may need to find another place to stay during the cleaning process. Read your policy or ask your insurance agent to help you understand what is covered under the additional living expenses (ALE) or “loss of use” section in your policy. Ask your insurance company to give you a list in writing of what is commonly covered under these sections. We are not your insurance company and do have any control over your policy limits.
How do I know which items can or cannot be cleaned?
Our fire project manager will help you understand which items are generally able to be cleaned after a fire and which items we suggest discarding of. Some insurance companies may not be willing to pay for our team to create an inventory list of your contents. If your insurance company will not cover the expense of our team inventorying your contents, then we will help instruct you as best as we can. You will want to create a list of all items that need to be discarded and take pictures of each item. Depending on your policy, your insurance company will either pay for the replacement cost of the items or an actual cash value. It will be your responsibility to negotiate an amount for your contents with your insurance company. One tip is to take the list of items needing to be replaced to a large box store and create a registry to show the total of those items.
What is the adjuster’s role in this process?
The adjuster assigned to your claim is working for the insurance company either as an employee or a hired contractor through a third-party claim management company. The adjuster will create an estimate of the needed repairs and your claim will be awarded that amount. We will communicate our restoration plan and share any suggestions or necessary supplements with the adjuster.
Who can help with the rebuild portion of my claim?
Our purpose as your trusted restoration vendor is to clean and/or remove materials affected by the claimed event. We work to mitigate damages to prevent any further damages from occurring in a timely and cost-efficient manner. We are only allowed to remove what is necessary for proper mitigation. Restoration and rebuild are two separate portions of your claim. Following our cleaning process, you will need to hire a contractor to finish repairs. We recommend our partner company Complete Restoration Services and would be happy to have someone contact you with more information.
To learn more about our fire restoration process or for assistance with your home, please send an email to kayla@SERVPROofcovington.com.
3 Home Maintenance Tips to Help Prevent Water Damage
Wood flooring buckling following a water damage event.
While sometimes water damages are caused by an accident, like a water supply line break or a water heater malfunctioning, some water damage is due to improper home maintenance. Follow these tips below to help protect your home from incurring water damages:
- Make sure gutters are cleared of debris and properly working to divert water away from your home. When gutters are clogged rainwater can accumulate around the foundation of your home and cause water damage. You should clean your gutters at least twice a year. The best times to do this are right before hurricane season begins in June and one day in November as fall is ending. Downspouts should be positioned 5”-10” from house.
- Hire a roofing professional to examine the condition of your roof once a year and after each major storm. You may be able to notice some major damages yourself without the help of a professional. However, a roofing specialist will be able to detect issues only a trained eye will notice, like shingles that should be replaced or faulty flashing around your chimney. Immediately repair any damages you may find. Often a roof leak may go unnoticed for a significant amount of time and lead to mold or mildew growth inside of the home.
- Check for water leaks underneath sinks, around window casings, and behind your refrigerator. Again, slow, persistent leaks can lead to mold and mildew issues. Water damages also attract termites and carpenter ants. If you notice any leaks, then find the source and correct the issue immediately. After, dry the wet materials or remove all materials that are damaged beyond repair. Our water damage restoration team is available 24/7 for any water damage emergencies.
Ethics Continuing Education Class
Attention all local insurance agents and insurance adjusters:
By popular demand, the next continuing education class we will be teaching will be Ethics on September 12, 2019. This is a three hour class that will be taught at our office located at 68424 James Street in Mandeville. Registration will begin at 8:00 am. The class will begin promptly at 8:30 am and end at 11:30 am. There is no charge to attend the class. We are also happy to provide breakfast and coffee for attendees. After the class, your credits will be filed with the state within the week.
This class is limited to thirty insurance professionals. To reserve your spot or for more information, please send an email to kayla@SERVPROofcovington.com.
Blood Drive at SERVPRO of Greater Covington and Mandeville Office
Every 2 seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood and just one donation can potentially save up to 3 people. Did you know our community is currently in dire need of blood donations? If you're able to donate blood, then please swing by our office on August 23rd to do so. The Blood Center's Bloodmobile will be parked in our parking lot from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm taking donations. We will provide snacks and drinks for those donating.
Four Mold Myths Debunked
Myth #1: Your house and business can and should be totally free of mold.
Truth: Microscopic spores are all around us, both indoors and outdoors. Tiny, invisible to the naked eye mold spores enter our homes and businesses through open doors and windows, heating and air conditioning systems, and can even be carried in by our pets. If you were to have an indoor air quality professional or an industrial hygienist conduct a mold test in your home or business, then you would learn every indoor space has an acceptable or natural mold spore count. The problem arrives when you have an elevated mold spore count or see visible mold growing on materials inside your property. In those cases, you should contact us immediately for mold remediation services.
Myth #2: Black mold is toxic.
Truth: Thousands of different mold species have been scientifically identified in the United States. Some molds appearing to be black are actually a dark green color. The most commonly known dark green mold species associated with health concerns is Stachybotrys chartarum. However, not all dark green or black colored molds are Stachybotrys. Regardless of which specific species of mold you may have in your home or business, you should have it removed. Also, despite the particular species, all microbial growths should be remediated using the same method: position containment around the affected area, stabilize the environment, removed affected porous materials, clean and disinfect remaining nonporous materials, and "scrub" the contaminated room with a HEPA air scrubber. Please note, the source of the issue must first be identified and resolved.
Myth #3: Bleach kills mold.
Truth: Bleach does not kill microbial growth. Bleach will discolor the mold spores for a short period, but the mold will continue on growing. Eventually, you will notice colored microbial growth again. Also, as previously stated, microbial growth is caused by a moisture problem and the original source must be corrected. Applying bleach to the affected material will only amplify the moisture problem.
Myth #4: You can remediate mold yourself.
Truth: While you may be very capable of removing affected materials, like drywall and carpet yourself, without the necessary professional equipment and expertise you risk spreading the microscopic mold spores throughout more rooms in the property. Remember, the first few steps in our mold remediation process are to set up containment around the affected area and to stabilize the environment. Our protocol works to prevent the spreading of microscopic spores by protecting the unaffected areas. By utilizing negative airflow and air scrubbers with HEPA filters, our mold remediation technicians can not only remove microbial growth but also protect the rest of your home or business. Our mold remediation technicians are trained and certified to properly remove microbial growth. Trust our professionals.
For questions regarding indoor microbial growth issues or for a mold remediation quote, please contact our office by dialing 985-871-5375.
How to Prevent Mold From Growing in Your Bathrooms
One of the most common rooms in a home conducive for microbial growth is the bathroom. Mold only needs three things to grow: moisture, a food source, and time. Bathrooms are naturally more humid environments and grime left after baths and showers contribute as a regular food source for microscopic mold spores to feed on. To prevent mold from growing in your bathroom make sure to alleviate as much moisture as possible following each use. Use the vent while showering and leave it on for an extra five minutes or so when you leave. If you do not have a vent in your bathroom, then consider installing one or open a window or door during shower time. If it isn’t more humid outside, then this should help. However, this certainly wouldn’t be helpful during summertime in Louisiana. Installing and regularly using a vent is the best preventative action. Another way to remove moisture from your bathroom is to wipe down or use a squeegee in the shower, tub, and basin after each use. This may prove to be tedious but trust us it’s less of a headache than having to renovate your bathroom because of a mold problem. If you have recently discovered mold growing in your bathroom, then please give us a call now to schedule an appointment with one of our mold remediation technicians. Our office number is 985-871-5375.
Pet Fire Safety
Pets are a part of your family and should be included in your family's home fire safety and escape plans. Follow the tips below to help prevent your pets from starting fires and to help protect them during an emergency.
The National Fire Protection Association estimates that nearly 1,000 home fires each year are accidentally started by the homeowners' pets. The American Kennel Club and ADT Security Services have joined forces to provide the following tips to help prevent pets from starting fires:
- Extinguish open flames - Pets are generally curious and will investigate cooking appliances, candles, or even a fire in your fireplace. Do not leave your pet unattended around an open flame and make sure to thoroughly extinguish any open flames before leaving your home.
- Remove stove knobs - Be sure to remove stove knobs or protect them with covers before leaving the house - a stove or cooktop is the number one piece of equipment involved in fires started by pets.
- Invest in flameless candles - These candles contain a light bulb rather than an open flame and take the danger out of your pet knocking over a candle. Cats are notorious for starting fires when their tails turn over lit candles.
- Secure young pets - keep them confined away from potential fire-starting hazards when you are away from home such as in crates or behind baby gates in secure areas.
Preparing for a Fire
- Include them in your escape plan - Include your pets in the exercise when practicing your fire escape plan with your family. Practice calling for your pets while existing your home. Teach young children to focus on existing the home as quickly as possible and to never reenter the home to search for a pet. Teach them the firefighters will help search for pets once it is safe to do so.
- Help firefighters help your pets- Put a decal on your home's front window showing the kind and number of pets you have.
- Make sure your pet can be found - During a fire emergency it may be hard to locate your pet if they run off. To prevent your pet from getting lost, make sure their collar has updated information on it. Also, having your pets microchipped will help relocate them if they do become lost. Keep leashes by your front door for easy access as your escaping your home.
- Use smoke alarms connected to emergency responders - Install a smoke alarm that will alert the local fire department in case no one is home.
Important Information Regarding Tropical Storm Barry
Over the past few days, our team has been meeting with other SERVPRO® disaster recovery team members to complete our response plan for Tropical Storm Barry. We understand the stress and worry both homeowners and business owners are currently feeling, but please rest assured SERVPRO® of Greater Covington and Mandeville is prepared to handle any size disaster. With our local resources and the help of our national resources, we are prepared and ready to help. Our emergency restoration team will be available 24/7 this weekend to help once it is safe to do so.
We offer the following emergency restoration services:
- Roof tarping and repair
- Flood damage restoration
- Contents restoration
- Document restoration
- Mold remediation
- Project management
As of now, we urge you to check off the following items from your personal emergency preparedness checklist as soon as possible:
- Fill up vehicles with gas
- Withdraw cash to keep on hand
- Charge your phones and recharge portable phone chargers
- Stock up on enough food and water for at least 3 days
- Stock up on toiletries (don't forget toilet paper or wet wipes) and refill your first aid kits if necessary
- If a storm drain is located outside of your home, then please try to clean it or reach out to someone for help.
- Pick up sandbags and stage outside any areas where water may enter your home
- Continue watching the news and social media for updates
- Be home as early as possible (New Orleans residents are required to be home by 8:00 pm tonight)
- Due to the recent algae bloom in Lake Pontchartrain, everyone should avoid coming into contact with any flood waters around the lakefront in Mandeville.
- Stay off the roads as much as possible. If you have to question whether you should drive down the street or not, then don't! Turn around and find another way.
- If your home or business does experience flooding:
- Make sure the property is safe before entering
- Take pictures of everything
- Do not throw anything away before taking pictures and itemizing the items
- Contact us immediately to begin cleanup and reduce secondary damages
- Begin the claims process by contacting your insurance company and/or agent
- If any important documents have been damaged by flood waters and you still have power, then place the documents in a freezer. We can help with document restoration.
Fourth of July Fun on the Northshore
This year the fourth of July falls on a Thursday and celebration events will kick off the weekend before.
The partying will kick off on Friday, June 28th with the Columbia Street Block Party in downtown Covington. This free, family-friendly event is a great way to stroll down Columbia street, view classic cars, and show your support for local businesses. Columbia street blocks 200-500 will be blocked off from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm.
On Saturday, June 29th the cities of Abita Springs, Mandeville, and Slidell will each offer family-friendly events with musical performances. Abita Springs will host a free Independence Day Celebration from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Presented by VFW Post 8720, the celebration starts with a decorated bike and wagon parade rolling through the town (patriotic costumes encouraged!) and features live music, a flag retiring ceremony, local civic organizations with fun activities and games, Abita Beer and concessions by a local restaurant as well as hot dogs, baked treats and snowballs. In Mandeville, people are encouraged to picnic and celebrate on the lakefront beginning as early as 10:00 am. The Old Mandeville Business Association Food Court will begin selling food at 5:00 pm. Entertainment on stage begins at 6:00 pm, with a special patriotic tribute to all who have served and continue to serve in our nation's military. The tribute will be followed by live music featuring Four Unplugged. Fun, free activities will be provided by Keep Mandeville Beautiful’s Kid's Tent, and the evening closes with fireworks over Lake Pontchartrain sponsored by The City of Mandeville, Lakeview Regional Medical Center - A Campus of Tulane Medical Center, and Baker Pile Driving. The stage will be located between Coffee and Carroll Streets. And lastly, the Slidell Heritage Festival offers families music, entertainment, food, fireworks, and so much more to celebrate America's birthday. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids ages 4-12, and free admission for children 3 years old and younger. The festival is from 4:00 pm to 11:00 pm, with a firework show at 9:00 pm.
On July 3rd, Pearl River will host a fourth of July celebration from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm throughout downtown Pearl River and at the Pearl River Town Hall. This celebration is free and will feature a pie eating contest, a petting zoo, a firework display dusk, and much more. Also on July 3rd, is the Sparks in the Park celebration at the Bogue Falaya Park in downtown Covington. This free, family-friendly event will be from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm and boasts music, a firework display, games, and even a hot dog eating contest.
And finally, on July 4th, you can celebrate America at three different events across the Northshore. Bright and early at 7:30 am, there will be a Four on the Fourth Family Fun Run/Walk in Covington's Hubie Gallagher Park. The Land-O-Pines Campground will have a DJ and a firework display from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm. And for a place to celebrate all day, you can head over to Madisonville for the Madisonville Old Fashioned 4th of July Celebration beginning at 11:00 am. This event offers music, games, food, the Miss Madisonville Beauty Pageant, and a firework show at 8:30 pm.
Dedication Ceremony for Ernest Cooper Memorial Fire Station
A brief Dedication Ceremony recognizing the completion of the 2-Bay expansion and the interior renovations at the Ernest J Cooper Memorial Fire Station will be held on Wednesday, June 26th at 10:00 am. Citizens of Covington, area first responders, and the general public are invited to attend. This finished project will provide for better fire protection for our community.Did you know the Covington Fire Department has one of the best response times in the state of Louisiana and responds to over 1,700 emergency calls each year? Our Covington Fire Department firefighters and administrative staff members spend countless hours teaching fire prevention and fire safety throughout our community. Members of the department also help teach emergency planning for residents and business owners. To contact someone with the Covington Fire Department please visit http://www.covla.com/fire_department/contact_information2.php.