Winter Water Damage Can Lead to Mold if You Don’t Act Appropriately
Water damage can lead to mold if not dealt with professionally
Winter Water Damage Can Lead to Mold if You Don’t Act Appropriately
Living in the High Desert of Central Oregon has its perks. We enjoy around 300 days of sunshine each year and direct access to world-class outdoor recreation. But we also have our fair share of severe storms with varying types of precipitation. Despite the storms and sometimes snowy winters, we have a very dry climate.
Now, when you think of mold, perhaps Florida or another tropical location comes to mind. But, many are surprised to learn that one of the most common calls we receive at SERVPRO of Bend is for mold remediation. We’ll explain why the High Desert is a hot spot for mold.
First, the basics. Mold is a microscopic spore that readily floats through the air. But mold isn’t a problem unless it has food. And mold food is moisture. As we mentioned, living in the High Desert has perks. And our dry climate means mold doesn’t have the food it needs to grow as readily as it does in more humid climates. Therefore, mold isn’t a big issue…until it is.
Water Damage and Mold - A Recipe for Disaster
With the freezing temperatures we’ve experienced this winter, there have been many frozen and subsequent burst pipes. The quick response to the average homeowner is to hire a plumber to address the burst pipe, mop up the water, and get on with the day. But, this is not usually the best course of action. Residual water that is not appropriately addressed becomes a breeding ground for mold spores - very quickly. Even our dry Central Oregon climate won’t dissuade hungry mold spores from tearing through your drywall.
So what’s hiding behind your walls?
Many homeowners with water damage won’t see mold as an issue until it has progressed and become a costly problem. You see, pipes that bust behind walls or in your crawlspace are hidden. Unless you tear out the walls (or go under your house), you won’t know a problem exists. And who wants to do that? You can wait and see if you notice the telltale scent of mold (it is musty). But even that is too late. So what should you do?
What to do in the event of water damage
- Act fast. Have a plumber fix the leak. Remove excess water by mopping it and then blotting it - including on furniture, carpets, upholstery, and cushions. Put aluminum foil between furniture legs and carpets. You can also prop up furniture with wood blocks. Move art, books, magazines, etc., out of the area.
- Get help. Don’t assume the water damage is resolved. A plumber will fix the source of the leak, but they aren’t going to address the damage done to your home. Remember, mold grows over time. If you do not address water hidden behind your walls, mold will take residence at an alarmingly fast pace. Hire a professional to inspect the area for water damage. We offer a basic inspection or a full inspection. The main difference are the tools we use for water detection.
- Don’t ignore old problems. If you had water damage in the past, you could still have an inspection to ensure mold isn’t growing anywhere in your home. Even if it is an old problem, mold will continue to grow until the source of moisture is addressed. Mold can be dangerous. Protect your family by ensuring it doesn’t have a chance in your home.
At SERVPRO of Bend, we have the tools, capability, and knowledge to identify and remediate water damage and mold issues so your home is safe and healthy for your family. If you have water damage or mold concerns, do not hesitate to contact our office for an inspection. We serve homes and commercial buildings throughout Central Oregon, including in North Deschutes, Crook, and Jefferson counties, and are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also request water damage repair and mold remediation by clicking the link here.
Tips for Weatherproofing Your PNW Home
As the temperature drops, the susceptibility of our most significant assets increases. Weatherproofing your home can save thousands of dollars on heating and repair costs and make the winter more comfortable. Here are fifteen tips for weatherproofing your home this winter.
- Check for drafts around windows, doors, and fireplaces and address them. The last thing you want when you are trying to keep your home toasty and warm is a draft letting in cold air. Apply caulk around windows to seal them against the cold. Consider applying weather stripping around doors and windows.
- Install storm doors. Consider installing a storm door if you want a double layer of protection against drafts. Not only do storm doors protect your home against drafts, but they also prevent moisture from reaching your door frame. Plus, storm doors allow the sun to warm your home a bit on sunny days and create a nice sunny spot for the family dog to rest. Tell your dog we said you're welcome.
- Add a door sweep. Consider installing a door sweep if there is a gap between the bottom of your door and the threshold. You can easily install a door sweep, which will fill the gap at the base of your door, locking out the cold.
- Insulate your attic. Nearly 40% of the heat in your home is lost through the attic. Think about it. Hot air rises, and your attic is the highest place in your home. If your attic isn’t properly insulated, all that hot air will escape. Attic insulation is a necessity in the PNW. Generally speaking, insulation should be replaced every 15 to 20 years. However, this can vary depending on the type of insulation used. The safest bet is to get an inspection now, so you have time to install insulation if needed.
- Winterize your plumbing system. Water damage is the most common call we get from homeowners. Take the time to winterize your plumbing system properly so freezing temperatures don’t wreak havoc on your home.
- Blow out your sprinkler system. If you haven’t already, blow out your sprinkler system to ensure lines do not crack. You may not realize the damage until the summer when your yard turns into a lake and your water bill skyrockets.
- Insulate any exposed pipes in your walls or crawlspace with foam sleeves.
- Turn off your outdoor faucet and cover it with an insulated faucet cover.
- Disconnect, drain, and store your garden hoses in your garage.
- Close foundation vents. Go around your home and close your foundation vents. Place foam insulation plugs in each vent to prevent cold air and moisture from entering the living spaces in your home.
- Get your roof inspected. If you’ve lived in Bend through the 2017 Snowpocalypse, you can appreciate the importance of a sound roof. Get your roof inspected to ensure your roof doesn’t have any loose or damaged flashing and that your shingles have not deteriorated. Many local roofing companies provide free roof inspections. We are happy to provide a recommendation or two if needed.
- Clean and check your gutters. Clean leaves and other debris from your gutters to prevent them from getting clogged, which can lead to water damage in your home.
- Keep the heat on in your home - even when you aren’t there. Even if you’re going on vacation or only live in your PNW home part-time, the heat should remain on throughout the winter. Keep your thermostat set at 55 degrees to avoid frozen pipes.
- Allow the faucets to drip. When temperatures drop below 20 degrees, let the faucets drip or run in a slow stream to prevent frozen pipes.
- Get your HVAC inspected. Don’t be without heat on the coldest day of the winter. Most local HVAC companies provide plans to inspect and service HVAC units to prevent getting left in the cold. And if you have a gas fireplace, they can inspect and service that too.
- Trim overhanging branches. Branches that overhang your roof can cause a lot of damage during a storm. Trim any overhanging branches and cut back dead limbs to keep your roof better protected.
- Replace your air filters. You should replace your furnace or central air filters every three months so they can run efficiently.
- Replace batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every six months. The best way to remember is to change them during daylight savings time.
- Install roof heat tape. Ice dams cause leaks when melting snow hits a dam of ice. Heat tape, also known as heat cables, creates channels that allow the water to escape from your roof.
Your home is your biggest investment. That’s why we highly recommend annual inspections and servicing to identify issues before they become a costly problems. Taking the time to weatherproof your home will help ensure you and your family stay warm and safe throughout the winter season. And if disaster strikes, SERVPRO of Bend is ready to help, 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
Mold Removal Isn’t the Same as Mold Remediation And Why You Should Care
You’ve got mold. You need to get it removed. Pretty straightforward, right? Or do you get it remediated? Is there a difference? Should you care?
Before you grab some bleach and a sponge, there are some essential things you need to know that can impact not only your property but your health too.
Mold Removal Doesn’t Remove All Mold
Some restoration companies advertise “mold removal” and may even guarantee to remove all mold. This is a fallacy because removing all mold from a home or business is impossible. Microscopic mold spores exist almost everywhere, both indoors and outdoors. Mold spores float in the air and may enter your home or business through windows, doors, and AC/heating systems. They can even hitch a ride indoors on your clothing or family pet.
Mold spores thrive on moisture and can quickly grow into colonies when exposed to water. These colonies produce allergens and irritants and have the potential to cause other adverse health effects.
Because mold is everywhere, it is not possible to remove all of it. The best you can do is remove any visible mold. It is a temporary solution that will come back if not fully treated with a vengeance. And despite living in a dry climate, mold remediation in Bend is one of the most common services we provide both residentially and commercially.
Mold remediation, on the other hand, goes a considerable step further. The remediation process involves removing visible mold growth and then identifying the underlying cause of mold in your home or office. Remember, mold needs moisture to thrive. That means identifying the source of moisture is paramount to fixing the problem. Here’s how SERVPRO of Bend addresses mold remediation.
Mold Remediation in Bend, Oregon
- Mold Identification. Once you recognize a mold problem, contact someone to address it. At SERVPRO of Bend, we’re available 24-7 via our mold remediation emergency service. You can also request mold remediation help online by completing a form on our website. Either option will result in a SERVPRO of Bend team member asking for some details about your mold problem, so they can best serve you.
- Mold Inspection. As mentioned previously, to adequately address mold, it is critical that the underlying cause and the type of mold that is present be identified. Because it is sometimes difficult to detect the cause of mold, we use cutting-edge technology, including water meters and, when needed, an infrared-guided measurement. This technology allows us to find concealed moisture and provide a more accurate estimate of the extent of the damage.
- Mold Containment. Because mold can quickly spread to other areas of the home or office, it is vital for mold containment. This is also why it is important not to try to remove mold on your own. We use special equipment such as negative air chambers and physical barriers to prevent mold from spreading to other areas. HVAC units are also turned off during remediation to prevent mold from spreading through air ducts.
- Air Filtration. Another way we prevent the spread of mold is through the use of air filtration devices, which are air scrubbers and special HEPA filtration vacuums. These tools pull the microscopic spores from the air.
- Mold Removal. The next step to proper mold remediation is removing any contaminated materials depending on their porosity and susceptibility to damage. For example, drywall and carpet are both highly porous and susceptible to damage from mold. Because they are tough to clean thoroughly, they most often need to be replaced.
- Cleaning and Odor Removal. Mold typically has a musty odor. In fact, the odor may be how you first identified there was a mold problem. We thoroughly clean and treat any remaining elements that have been affected by mold to prevent future growth. This often includes flooring, furniture, curtains, and even important documents.
- Restoration. Every mold remediation job we do is different. Depending on the severity of the damage, our treatment process can vary. Any damaged items will be restored. This may involve minor repairs, such as replacing drywall and installing new carpet. We also offer documentation restoration, so your important documents aren’t lost forever. Our cutting-edge technology allows us to restore your paper goods to as close to their pre-damaged condition.
At SERVPRO of Bend, our tagline is “like it never even happened,” and we take it seriously. Mold only becomes a bigger problem with time. If you identify mold in your home or business, contact the mold remediation experts in Bend, Oregon. We offer both commercial mold remediation and residential services throughout Central Oregon and would be honored to help you.
Getting the Stink Out of Your Home or Business Odor Removal Services in Bend, OR
The nose is an excellent detector when things are amiss. And when the temperatures are hot outside (and quite frankly, when they get hot inside, too), smells that were undetectable suddenly rear up and smack you in the face. Once the odor has your attention, most people go into detective mode, searching for clues as to the source of the stench.
Odor Removal Services in Central Oregon
In Central Oregon - especially in the summer, we get plenty of odor-related calls. The big reason is heat. Our hot summer temperatures promote odor. Have you ever noticed that smells come out of the woodwork (pun intended) when it’s hot outside and hot in your home or commercial space)? There’s a reason. When wood gets warm, it expands, and odors get caught within it. Then, on a nice and hot day, the odors are released. Voila, now you’ve got a stinky house (or business).
The challenge is zoning in on the source of the odor, which can be character-building to identify. Thankfully, SERVPRO of Bend is ranked #1 in the cleanup and restoration industry due to our ability to identify and effectively treat a variety of damages that can occur in a home or commercial space.
We don’t use masking agents just to cover up the smell. Our odor removal process includes pairing and filtration agents, disinfectants, sanitizers, enzyme digesters, oxidation, and air purification.
Animals and Odor Remediation
Would you be surprised to learn that one of the most common odor-related problems we see in Central Oregon is due to animals? We’ve got quite a few critters who would love to make their home inside our home. The more rural a location that your home is located, the greater your chance of having unwelcome visitors and even more unwelcome odors.
If you’ve had the family pet vomit or defecate in your home, chances are you can appreciate the challenge of removing the odors associated with the act. Multiply that stench, and you’ve got an idea of what damage a wild animal can do. We ensure that doesn’t happen with our four-step odor removal process.
Mold and Odor Removal
Actively growing mold releases microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs), which usually have a distinct odor - earthy, pungent, and reminiscent of rotting wood. Mold feeds on moisture, which is why it is often caused by a leak or persistent moisture and could grow behind walls, under wallpaper, under floorboards, or in ductwork. It is damage that perpetuates until it is treated, and its signature smell won’t disappear until then.
Our team of professionals possesses the skills and expertise to clean various odors. Whether the damage is located in your home or commercial space, we’re ready to help. Call for an assessment, so we can make it smell "Like it never even happened."
Debris Caught In Scupper Causes Water Loss
When thunder and lightening recently passed over the High Desert, the owners of this dance studio discovered water flowing down an internal wall. The water rushed in extremely quickly and began flooding the hallway and a utility room. The owners quickly called quickly called SERVPRO of Bend to assist with situation.
Upon arriving, SERVPRO of Bend water technicians began extracting water in the hallway that had suffered most of the damage. When the storm passed, the technicians when on the roof to see if there had been an obvious cause of loss.
Upon following the path of the water, it was discovered that a "scupper" (a drainage system for flat roofs) had been obstructed by debris that had settled on the drain. Since the flow of water was blocked, the water quickly filled the area and overflowed into the internal hall below.
SERVPRO of Bend was able to extract the water and dry the affected area without having to remove any damaged material.
If you have any questions about water losses or suspected damage caused by a water loss, feel free to call SERVPRO of Bend at 541-385-7044.
Demystifying Insurance for Disaster Restoration Claims
Insurance is purchased to protect our assets in the event of a disaster. But insurance can be very confusing to the average person. Especially when something happens that you thought was covered by insurance but wasn’t. As Central Oregon disaster restoration experts, we help homeowners, renters, and business owners, restore damages to their pre-disaster state. We work with insurance companies daily to help our customers repair the damage quickly and professionally.
In this blog, we sat down with SERVPRO of Bend and SERVPRO of N. Deschutes, Jefferson, and Crook Counties owner Brent Irwin to answer some of his most common insurance questions. We hope this information will help you better understand how and what to do should disaster strike you.
- I have water/smoke/fire damage in my home (or business). What do I do? According to Brent Irwin, the best thing to do in this situation is to call a restoration professional to evaluate the loss. While it may be tempting, don’t try to repair the damage yourself before notifying the insurance company and filing a claim. There are many situations where some of the damage may be hidden. Depending on the structural material and the cause of the loss, restoration providers have infrared cameras and moisture meters to follow the path of the damage. This information allows us to understand the extent of the damage better and provide the insurance company with as complete a picture as possible for claim review.
- Is my loss covered? We expect insurance to cover our losses, so we purchase it. But not all losses are covered by insurance. The insurance agent best addresses a question regarding limitations in coverage. Find out if your policy covers fire damage restoration, water damage restoration, smoke damage restoration, and even mold remediation.
- How much will the restoration cost? As restoration experts, we would love to know the costs before starting. The challenge, however, is that until the affected material is removed, we don’t know. As mentioned in the first question, the use of tools helps us provide as complete a picture as possible, but it isn’t an exact science. Sometimes we remove material and discover that damage effects go beyond what was initially thought. That’s why we at SERVPRO of Bend remain in constant contact with insurance companies to get the proper approvals BEFORE removing any material. This process protects you, our customer, and ensures that every possible box has been checked before starting.
- My insurance carrier told me to go with a different company. Do I have to? In Oregon, it is your right as a consumer to use any disaster restoration professional you choose. That said, SERVPRO of Bend and SERVPRO of N. Deschutes, Jefferson, and Crook Counties are preferred providers for most major insurance carriers.
- How do I know that the contractor is qualified to do the work? Working with a contractor or remodeler licensed through the Oregon Construction Contractors Board is advantageous. The license ensures they have the skill set needed to provide an estimate of the repairs needed.
- How will the contractor be paid? Similar to health insurance, your property insurance carrier will have an adjuster responsible for reviewing the costs associated with the project. It is their job to compare the estimate provided by the restoration company to the contractor’s estimate. If both parties agree on the amount listed, the insurance will usually send the payment directly to the restoration contractor. This benefits you, as the consumer, as it removes you from being involved with the financial side of disaster restoration.
At SERVPRO of Bend, we have extensive experience in disaster restoration. We also are used to working with insurance providers to help support our customers during a very stressful time. Our goal, with every restoration project, is that the result looks and feels like the damage never even happened. Often our results look better than before the damage occurred. If you need water damage repair, mold remediation, fire damage restoration, or any other type of disaster restoration, contact us at SERVPRO of Bend or SERVPRO of N. Deschutes, Jefferson, and Crook Counties.
We look forward to helping you.
How Does Defensible Space Work?
During late summer and early fall it is not uncommon to experience many thunder storms in Central Oregon. With thunder comes lightening. Though thrilling to watch, lightening is also very dangerous and unpredictable. It's impossible to pin point where lightening is going to strike, but similar to any other type of unpredictable weather pattern, we can take preventative measures to minimize the possibility of any damage.
Defensible space can make a significant difference during a wildfire and protect from embers that can travel several miles from the actual fire front and the fire itself. According to the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal, "embers are the leading cause of home loss during a wildfire. They can travel up to three miles ahead of the large flame front."
Defensible space is the buffer a property owner can create between the home or business and the grass, trees, shrubs, or any other wildland area that surrounds it. The best defense is to clean areas such as gutters, eaves and around a chimney where combustibles like dry pine needles may settle.
If a wildfire is within the area, it is important to keep patios dry and remove any flammable items like outdoor furniture cushions and any combustibles that may ignite if coming in contact with an ember. Proper planning now can be the difference between suffering a catastrophic loss in the future.
Understanding Prescribed Burns for Preventing Wildfires in Central Oregon
A frequent occurrence in Central Oregon and in other heavily forested areas of the state are prescribed burns - but what is prescribed burning used for? In most parks, management-ignited prescribed fires are used instead of lightning-caused fires to manage vegetation. Prescribed burns have been ignited to reduce hazardous fuel loads near developed areas, manage landscapes, restore natural woodlands, and for research purposes.
In the event of a wildfire, talk with all family members about a fire escape plan and test out the plan twice a year.
Communication and preparedness are key in fire prevention. We recommend creating a detailed fire escape plan and making it habitual - that way, all of your family members are prepared in case of unforeseen circumstances.
We hope your property remains safe and protected. Should it require fire damage restoration, SERVPRO of Bend is here to help, 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
Central Oregon and Severe Weather - Tips to Keep Your Biggest Asset Safe
They say that if you don’t like the weather in Central Oregon, wait 15 minutes. And while our weather doesn’t change that often, it can be unpredictable and intense. This year is no different.
We've seen it all, from heavy rains and flooding to hail and thunderstorms, and it is only July. Despite our dry climate, we are highly prone to mold in Central Oregon homes and businesses. Mold can be dangerous, so it is essential to familiarize yourself with how water often makes its way into our beloved homes so you can prevent it from entering yours.
- Perimeter Drain - Does your home have proper channels around its perimeter for water drainage? These channels are critical for diverting water away from your home’s foundation. These are located underground, and all homes today are built with them. That said, they can become clogged with dirt, roots, and underground debris, leading to flooding in your crawlspace. Sometimes you can see signs of perimeter drain issues—for example, water pooling in your yard or against your home.
- Clogged Gutters - Fall leaves and other debris not cleared from gutters can lead to water flooding the home. Here’s how, during a heavy downpour, the gutters overflow with water; this can cause a trench to form next to your home, putting pressure on your foundation and walls. Clogged gutters can also result in roof damage, siding damage, erosion, and ice dams in the winter.
- House Wrap Moisture - Most homes built today are wrapped to protect them from various problems by preventing the air and water from getting inside your home. Some home wraps are less permeable to moisture vapor, which can lead to mold, mildew, and rot. This can trap water against your home in the event of a leak or flood.
- Moldy Crawlspace. Crawl space and basement mold are two of the most common areas in a home with mold growth. And at SERVPRO of Bend and SERVPRO of North Deschutes, Crook, and Jefferson Counties, we see a lot of it in our local homes. Mold is everywhere and can hitch a ride into your home from unsuspecting pets and humans. But it can also enter through windows and your HVAC. Mold can enter your crawl space if it is not vented, sealed, or if a moisture barrier isn’t present. Mold needs moisture to thrive. As long as there aren’t any water issues in your home, mold is benign. But in the face of a storm or after water damage, trapped water can lead to mold growing and spreading. We recommend that homeowners have their crawl space inspected annually. Doing so will allow you to first and foremost know if you have mold. But it will also let you know if any issues could attract mold growth, such as leaking pipes, cracks, and decayed wooden joists and beams.
Your home is your most significant investment. Treat it as such by taking the preventative measures mentioned above. If you identify issues that need to be addressed, the experts at SERVPRO are ready and willing to help, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Protecting Your Space from Wildfire: Tips for Central Oregonians
In addition to barbeques, hikes, and floats in the Deschutes, comes the substantial risk of wildfires every summer. And while their permeation of our summertime air is a relatively recent occurrence compared to our area’s logging history, it is a danger nonetheless.
Wildfires are an ecological process designed to keep our forests healthy. As homes creep closer to our forests, the risk of fire damage to homes substantially increases. According to the Deschutes County Wildfire Mitigation Report, 96 percent of Deschutes County's land is located in a fire hazard area. And as the risk for fire damage increases, the need for fire damage prevention measures becomes more critical.
How is Wildfire Prevented?
Central Oregonians know the phrase “prescribed burn,” which the Forest Service manages to benefit natural resources and reduce the risk of unwanted wildfires in the future. These burns maintain the health of a forest by removing dead leaves, limbs, and other debris. By clearing the land, the prescribed burn helps prevent a wildfire.
But as we know, they don’t provide a 100 percent guarantee against wildfires from occurring. It is up to our Central Oregon homeowners to ensure their property is fire-safe. One of the best ways to achieve this is to create a defensible space.
What is a Defensible Space?
A defensible space is a virtual bubble surrounding the home where burnable material (fuel) is minimized. According to the OSU Extension Service, in the event of a wildfire, defensible spaces allow firefighters to safely defend homes and other structures while severing a direct pathway from a fire to a home.
How to Create a Defensible Space?
To create a defensible space, you must reduce flammable vegetation and other fuels around the home. There are different zones; what you do for each zone depends on the distance to the house.
Zone 0 - extends 0-5 feet from the structure.
Zone 1- extends 30 feet from the structure.
Zone 2 - extends 30-100 feet from buildings.
Some examples of creating a defensible space include:
- Removing dead plant materials, such as leaves and dry mulch) that accumulates on the ground surrounding your home and in the gutters.
- Removing or trimming limbs that overhang the home, so they are no closer than 10 feet from the roof or siding.
- Replacing mulch with rocks or other nonflammable material within 10 feet of the home.
- Storing firewood and lumber at least 10 feet from the home.
- Limiting plants surrounding the home to low-growing, non-woody, and adequately watered species.
- Cutting grass to no higher than 4 inches.
- Use fire-resistant plants that are native to Central Oregon.
If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, the steps outlined above can help make a significant difference should a wildfire spread near your home. Take the time to protect your biggest asset now; you’ll be glad you did.