What to Do After a House Fire
If your Morganton home has a fire, don't panic! If you take the necessary steps, your home can be restored to its pre-fire condition!
There are few things more stressful than having a fire damage your home and belongings. It can disrupt your life, dissolve your peace of mind, and destroy precious mementos. Unfortunately, people are often unprepared for these situations and aren’t sure what steps to take to begin returning their lives to normal.
That’s why we’ve created this guide—so you can begin the road to recovery.
Making Important Phone Calls
After a house fire, there are plenty of people you’ll want to contact, but there are some that will be extraordinarily helpful in giving you back your peace of mind:
- Your Insurance Company or Agent. If there’s anyone who’s going to help you reclaim your life, it’s your insurance representative. Call them as soon as possible because they will be able to advise you on any necessary actions regarding safety and recovery. If you have an agent, they will be able to help you file a claim. Depending on your policy, you may even be entitled to financial support while you get back on your feet.
- Disaster Restoration Company. Your insurance representative is going to walk you through the process, but your local fire damage cleanup company is the one who will actually do the work to restore your home and belongings. Your insurance will generally recommend their preferred restoration company, but you are legally entitled to choose your own. Be sure you choose one with a solid reputation and a wide range of services to make sure they can handle all of your needs. Your restoration provider will also have experience working with insurance during moments of crisis, so they will be able to help you take care of any necessary steps.
- Family and Friends. Once you’ve contacted your insurance and a reputable disaster restoration company, call your loved ones and update them on the situation. If you do not have a safe place until you can occupy your home, consider asking somebody if you can temporarily stay with them. (If you do stay with friends or family, consider talking to your insurance about reimbursing them for putting you up.)
- Disaster Relief Programs. If you need the help, consider contacting your local disaster relief program, such as the Red Cross or the Salvation Army. They might be able to provide necessities like food, shelter, and other resources.
- Your Physician. If you evacuated without essential medications or devices, call your physician as soon as possible to review your options. Medications left in the home should not be consumed because they will likely have been contaminated by smoke and gasses.
- Your Creditors. Call any lending institutions you deal with (such as your mortgage, credit cards, utilities, etc.) as soon as possible. While you might not have to make any payments in the immediate future, most companies will work with you during moments of crisis. It’s possible they will reduce or defer payments.
Re-entering Your Home
After the fire’s been extinguished, you’ll probably want to run in and check on your belongings. Before you do, there are a few warnings:
- Do not re-enter your home until the fire department has given you an explicit OK. Structural damage and reigniting flames are highly probable immediately after a house fire, so do not enter without that permission.
- Do not consume anything that has been near flames, smoke, soot, or the water used to put the fire out. Even if food or water has been sealed in a jar or bottle, most consumables will be spoiled or contaminated due to extended exposure to heat or toxic fumes. This includes food in the refrigerator and freezer, which do not have airtight seals.
- Do not turn on any utilities if you’ve been instructed not to do so. Your local fire department will have advised you whether or not it is safe to use your utilities. If you’ve been told they are unsafe, do not turn them back on.
Once you re-enter and assess the damages, follow any instructions your insurance representative gave you. If your chosen disaster restoration company is there, they will likely be able to assist you in that process.
Restoring Your Home and Belongings
Depending on the size of the damage, you might feel that your home will never be the same again. But by working with your insurance and a disaster restoration team, your home and belongings can be restored to their pre-disaster state.
If you live in Morganton, NC or any of the communities in the Unifour area, our team is always here to help. If not, here are some things you can expect a quality disaster restoration company to do to restore your home after a house fire:
- Assess your home for damage. To make sure the team can perform the appropriate services to make your home as good as new, your house will be given a comprehensive assessment. This information will be especially useful to your insurance representative.
- Store your belongings. Instead of worrying about where you should store your non-vital belongings until your home is restored, some restoration companies will pack and store these items until you are equipped to take them back.
- Board up holes. The fire likely caused window, wall, and roof damage, which leaves your house exposed. A good restoration team will board up affected areas to prevent any further damage.
- Remove and dry water damage. If your home is wet from the firefighters’ efforts, this will be addressed immediately. A drying process will remove visible and hidden moisture to ensure you don’t get mold growth or additional structural damage.
- Remove soot and smoke from surfaces. Your disaster restoration company will use an array of tools to remove the fire’s residue from your walls, floors, ceilings, and any other affected surface.
- Clean and sanitize your home and belongings. You don’t want to return to your home just to be reminded of what happened. A good company will thoroughly clean, disinfect, and deodorize your structures and belongings to get them back to their pre-fire condition. In addition, they will use equipment to eliminate any lingering odors. Depending on the company, they may be able to restore and preserve damaged photos, documents, and other sensitive belongings.
- Restore your home. After everything else is complete, the team will make any necessary cosmetic or structural repairs. In the end, it should be “Like it never even happened.”
Finally, after working diligently with your insurance and your local disaster restoration company, your home and belongings will be back in pristine condition. Make sure you continue to work with both parties to complete any necessary paperwork and payments, if applicable. Once you move and settle back into your home, you can resume your life as normal.
3 Ways to Prevent Water Damage While You’re on Vacation
Vacations are a great way to take a break from reality, but water damage problems can disrupt that peace.
If you go on vacation, the last thing you want is to come home to find water damage. Unfortunately, this is a fairly common problem our local residents experience. Although our water mitigation team is available 24/7 to clean up the mess, it’s generally both a stressful and expensive process. You can potentially avoid these types of incidents by taking a few different precautions before you leave.
- Shut off the water. If you know you’re going to be gone for a few days, eliminate the risk by shutting off your home’s water before you leave. This simple step can give you complete peace of mind!
- Install water detection devices. In some cases, you may need to keep the water on while you’re gone. If so, you can keep tabs on potential incidents by installing water detection devices around your washing machine, hot water heater, and other similar appliances. If these sensors detect moisture, you’ll get an alert, so you can call a friend or neighbor to look into before it becomes a major issue.
- Consider having a friend or family member check on the house. If you have somebody local you can trust, consider having them periodically check on your home. Just make sure they know where the main shut-off valve is—if you have an incident, they can stop it from getting worse!
We go on vacations to refresh and take a break from the real world, but water damage incidents can abruptly bring you back. If you do have an incident, reach out to your local water cleanup company to address the issue. Fortunately, if you live in the Lenoir, NC area, SERVPRO of Alexander & Caldwell Counties is always here to make any damage look “Like it never even happened.”
3 Tips to Help Prevent Water Damage
One of our technicians removed water from carpet after it had been soaked.
Our customers are almost always caught off-guard when they have a water damage incident. Leaks and flooding aren't something most people worry about, and even if they did, most people don’t know what steps they can take to minimize their risk. As experts in the disaster restoration field, we’ve seen firsthand the types of accidents that can flood your home. If you’re a homeowner concerned about water damage, here are 3 things you can do to help prevent an incident.
- Shut off your water when you’re leaving for an extended period of time. If you’re going on vacation or are otherwise going to be away from the home for more than a day or two, consider shutting off your water until you return. A lot of water-related incidents occur while homeowners are away, which can result in greater damages than if they were home to detect it. It’s also one less thing you have to worry about while you’re gone!
- Install water detection devices. An undetected leak can cause a lot of damage if given enough time. Get additional eyes in your house by installing a water detection device. This sensor will alert you when it comes into contact with moisture, which can allow you to step in before it’s too late!
- Check your water pressure. You might like a little kick to your shower, but if your home’s water pressure is too high, it can actually lead to major plumbing issues. Elevated water pressure can knock the pipes out of alignment and cause gallons of water to pour into your home. Have your pressure tested, and if it’s too high, install a regulator to keep it in check!
Water damage is one of the last things you want to experience, so take the above precautions to minimize your risk. If you do have an incident, however, know that SERVPRO of Alexander & Caldwell Counties is available 24/7 to clean up and restore your damaged property. Call our professionals today at (828) 396-1070!
3 Ways You Can Help Prevent Flooding
Flooding can cause signficiant damage, but there are some steps you can take to minimize your risk.
Our community has had a lot of rain in the past few weeks, which has caused several local homes to have flooding incidents. While our team is available 24/7 to clean up these disasters, it’s always a good thing if you can avoid them altogether. There is no definite way to prevent flood damage, but there are a few steps you can take to mitigate your home’s risk.
- Make sure your gutters are clean. Your home’s gutters are your first line of defense against flooding but only if they are clear of obstructions. Be sure to clean them on a regular basis as they direct water away from your home!
- Identify and seal cracks in the foundation. If your home has cracks or crevices, rain will find a way into your home. Check for these issues during your annual maintenance and have them sealed before it rains and leads to water damage.
- Grade the lawn away from your home. The last thing you want is for rain to pool on the edges of your home, but if your yard isn’t graded properly, this may happen. The next time it rains, identify areas where water collects and then have your yard graded so that it leads away from your home.
There’s no way to control the weather, but you can take steps to reduce your risk of having flooding. If you do have water damage, however, know that SERVPRO of Alexander & Caldwell Counties is always available to clean up and restore your property.
3 Ways to Mitigate Wind Damage
Wind damage can vary in strength, but if you take precautions, you can mitigate its impact on your home.
After nearly every storm event in our area, we get calls from customers whose homes have wind and water damage. Even mild storms can cause destruction if the conditions are right but fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to mitigate your home’s risk of having wind damage.
- Remove trees close to your property. Storms and downed trees go hand-in-hand, but that doesn’t mean your home needs to be at risk. If you have any trees within range of our house, consider having them trimmed or removed—especially if they are sick or dead.
- Secure or remove furniture and debris in your yard. Nearly any unsecured object—including furniture, toys, and debris—on your property can be transformed into a projectile. Either fasten these objects or have them temporarily relocated into your home until the storm passes.
- Install storm shutters. Even if you completed the above steps, there’s still a possibility something could smash into your windows and cause damage inside your home. Professionally-installed storm shutters are an excellent way to prevent this potential damage.
While there are several ways you can mitigate your home’s risk of having wind damage, there’s no sure way to prevent it completely. Fortunately, if you do have damage, our team at SERVPRO of Alexander & Caldwell Counties is always available to clean up and restore your property. We’re available 24/7 by calling (828) 396-1070!
How to Maintain Your Smoke Alarm
A smoke detector can save lives and mitigate damage, but you have to properly maintain it!
Although not every home has a smoke detector, most do. A properly functioning smoke alarm can detect a fire before you do, giving you a faster response time, which can possibly lead to saved lives and limit overall damages. But just having a smoke detector isn’t enough—you need to make sure each unit in your home is maintained and functioning. Fortunately, maintenance isn’t difficult once you know what to do!
Testing Your Smoke Detectors
To ensure your systems are working and operational, you need to test them at least once a month. Testing is actually a straightforward process. On most devices, there is a small test button, often found on the face of the device. If you press the button once, it will beep once; if you hold it down, it will beep intermittently for a few seconds. If you hold the button down, all alarms in the home should sound; if they, don’t the system may not be set up properly or a unit(s) may need a new battery.
Replacing Your Smoke Alarms
Unfortunately, smoke alarms don’t last forever, and they do need to be replaced over time. The batteries will be the first to go, as they should be replaced once a year. (Pro Tip: An easy way to remember to replace your batteries is to coincide it with an important day or holiday, such as every New Year’s Day.)
The units themselves last for a longer period of time (about 10 years), but they do need to be replaced. If you’re not sure when yours were installed, the manufacturing date is usually printed on the back of the device.
Cleaning Up After a Fire
Smoke alarms don’t prevent fires, but they can help you respond quickly so you can mitigate the damage. If you do have a fire, you’ll want to call SERVPRO of Alexander & Caldwell Counties to clean up and restore your property. Our team is available 24/7, so call us anytime at (828) 396-1070!
Cleaning Water Damage in a Lenoir Apartment Complex
Our team extracted water from this local apartment by using our truck-mounted extracting equipment.
The problem with multi-level apartment complexes is that if an upper floor has water damage, it’s often that the lower floors do as well. In fact, any person living in a housing unit that shares a structure is at the mercy of their neighbors.
We were recently called by a local apartment complex to extract and clean up water that had overflowed from a bathtub in an upper unit and made its way down the unit below. Fortunately, our team has experience dealing with these kinds of situations and was able to respond immediately.
Cleaning Up Water Damage in Multiple Apartment Units
Although there are often different conditions in a commercial situation, these types of water damages are cleaned up exactly the same way as a residential water job. In this situation, we had to work with both the property manager and the two tenants to coordinate the cleanup process.
Once we did the initial inspection and squared away the paperwork, our team began to extract the water from both floors and set air movers and dehumidifiers to speed up the drying process. Once everything was dried out, it was “Like it never even happened.”
Available to Clean Up Any Size Disaster
In this instance, the water damage was confined to only two smaller units, but we have helped apartment complexes clean up several rooms after they’ve had water and fire damages. If you have an incident at your apartment property, we have more than 70 experts who are available 24/7 at (828) 396-1070!
What You Need to Know About Flood Insurance
Flooding can be quite destructive, but flood insurance can help you mitigate the overall cleanup and restoration costs!
Flood damages aren’t as rare in Lenoir as they might seem. Back in both June 2019 and February of this year, we had two major storm events that caused major flooding here and in surrounding communities. In both events, our team received hundreds of calls from customers whose homes or businesses had been overwhelmed by rain.
Unfortunately, most of these callers didn’t have flood insurance; many didn’t even know they needed it. Without flood insurance, you’re fully responsible for paying for the cleanup and restoration costs—an expense that could easily go into the thousands. But if you’ve never had or heard of flood insurance, there are some things you should know.
30-Day Waiting Period
With many types of insurance, you can expect coverage to start almost immediately after you purchase it (barring certain exceptions). Flood insurance isn’t one of them. In almost all cases, there is a 30-day waiting period before your flood insurance coverage kicks in. This is mainly to prevent people from refusing to buy it until a storm is on the way.
So if you’re thinking about buying a policy, it’s best to go ahead and do it. Otherwise, you may still be on the hook for the damages.
Flood Insurance is for Everyone
A common misconception is that only people living in designated flood zones need to buy flood insurance. After all, if you don’t live in a flood zone, you can’t have flooding right?
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Many of the calls we received during the two recent flood events were from customers who didn’t live in a flood zone. Heavy rains, faulty sump pumps, and even structural damages can all lead to flooding no matter where your property is located. So before you write it off as unnecessary, consider getting flood insurance, just in case.
Recovering from Flood Damages
Flood insurance will help you keep your out-of-pocket expenses to a minimum, but if you have flooding, you’ll still need to hire a cleanup and restoration company. Since 2009, SERVPRO of Alexander & Caldwell Counties has helped thousands of homes and businesses recover from fire and water disasters. We’re available 24/7 to clean up and restore flood damages, so call us today at (828) 396-1070!
Why We Restore Your Belongings
Our textile cleaning facility can clean most damaged soft goods. We take every precaution possible to save your damaged belongings!
We recently had customers whose entire home was damaged by an electrical fire. In fact, our repair team had to completely rebuild most of their house. For the homeowners, the recovery process was long and stressful.
But for the wife, it was particularly difficult because her cherished cabinet—passed down from her grandmother—had been lost in the fire. Or so she thought.
Our team had actually managed to locate a specialist who was able to completely restore the cabinet. The moment we finally revealed the restored item was one that many of our employees still remember.
At SERVPRO of Alexander & Caldwell Counties, we put an emphasis on restoring your belongings—not replacing. We believe this approach is often cheaper and helps you keep the items you hold valuable.
Restore vs Replace
You can’t replace sentimental value. That’s one of the reasons our team takes every measure we can to try and restore your belongings. If you replace an item, you may get a similar—or sometimes better— version of the one you had before, but that’s often not enough for customers.
For example, if the aforementioned customer had purchased an exact replica of her grandmother’s cabinet, it wouldn’t be the same one that her grandmother had given her. It would be an identical copy, but the customer would know it wasn’t the same.
Even if sentimental value isn’t a concern, restoring an item can often be cheaper. If the insurance company had paid for an identical cabinet, they might have had to pay $3,000, for example. But if it only cost us $1,000 to have it restored, then the insurance company can save $2,000.
This matters because your policy will have a coverage cap, so once your insurance company pays a certain amount, you will be on your own for anything that hasn’t been recovered. The cheaper it is to have things replaced/restored, the more items you can potentially save.
The Restoration Process
Although we had to hire a specialist to restore the cabinet, we can actually restore most items ourselves. Our team is IICRC-certified, plus we have a variety of specialty equipment and products we can use to restore your valuables.
If your belongings only have surface-level damage, we have a few different options for cleaning them. In some cases, we wipe items with rags and dry sponges. If the damage is heavier, we will use proprietary cleaning products to help remove residue.
Some items require more substantial cleaning that can’t be done by hand. In these cases, we may have to use our ultrasonic cleaning equipment. During this process, qualified items are placed in water or a specific solvent and agitated by sonic waves, which helps remove contaminants from the items. This works especially well for jewelry, electronics, and other sensitive objects.
SERVPRO of Alexander & Caldwell Counties is one of the only restoration companies in the region with a dedicated textile cleaning facility. At our facility, we are able to clean most damaged textiles, including clothing, linens, and even stuffed animals. We even have an Esporta, which is a machine capable of cleaning more than 90% of soiled soft items!
Depending on the incident, your belongings may have a distinct odor. We have proprietary products and equipment that are capable of eliminating virtually any smell. If your belongings have odor problems, we can take care of that through our ozone chamber, CLO2 treatments, or other options.
Calling the Restoration Experts
At SERVPRO of Alexander & Caldwell Counties, we care about you and your valuables. Although some items are beyond saving, we exhaust every option available. If your home has been in a disaster, don’t assume your belongings are lost forever. Call us at (828) 396-1070, and see what we can do to have them restored!
Disinfecting Our Local Fire Departments
Our team has cleaned multiple businesses in the area, including some of our local fire departments!
Once COVID-19 spread to North Carolina, most of us were asked to stay home with few exceptions. Although many of those restrictions have been lifted or relaxed, our local first responders have continued to serve our community through it all.
While we rely on their services, this unfortunately puts them at risk of being exposed to COVID-19. In fact, the Sawmills Fire Department recently had 6 confirmed cases on their force. While the department has been able to continue serving the community, it has highlighted the risk these men and women face.
SERVPRO of Alexander & Caldwell Counties has always supported our local fire departments. That’s why we have offered to disinfect our local departments for free. We started with Sawmills Fire Department after their confirmed cluster, but we have also begun to clean and disinfect others throughout the community. Our cleaning process involves fogging and wiping down high-traffic areas with EPA-approved products!
Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned
At SERVPRO, we believe in supporting our community—especially during times of need. Our Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned initiative is a defensive pathogen cleaning program that is aimed at building confidence in business owners, their employees, and their customers. Even if you’re not a first responder, you can call us today at (828) 396-1070 to get a quote for a professional cleaning!