Storm Damage Challenges In Alabama

By Bruce Bowen

Alabama weather patterns bring an intensity that can cause severe storm damage to residents and businesses. During the hurricane season both coastal and interior areas deal with the residual winds and rain after a tropical storm system comes ashore. Tornadoes also make an appearance even in the winter months, creating a less widespread but potentially devastating effect.

Property owners after an Alabama storm face damage that goes well beyond what a do it yourself effort envisions. All those videos and pictures of neighbors pitching in to help each other with chainsaws and after high winds, rain, and even slush and ice in the colder months are heartwarming. The reality is, however, that without the assistance of professional storm remediators you may have a deceptively tidier yard or grounds, but the structure, interior, and contents of your home or business are far from ready to shelter you and your family or to support the prosperity of your business.

Safety is the most significant consideration when you make decisions concerning how to clean up after an Alabama storm. Damage from fallen trees signals the possibility of downed wires, a potentially lethal situation. Never attempt to move or cut even branches without consulting professionals who received training in how to accomplish this without further damage or danger.

The supporting walls, windows, and doors of a building or home that survived a storm may show severe structural damage a layperson cannot recognize, making even an evaluative walk through your property treacherous. In addition to electrical issues, water and gas lines may have been compromised, increasing the incidence of flooding, explosions, and fires.

Water most likely invaded the property in multiple ways during and after the storm. The destruction done by water rivals the harm caused by crushed walls or shattered windows. If water damage waits for abatement for even 48 hours secondary damage including mold growth is almost a given. Buildings are full of cellulose-based materials that absorb water quickly, warping and deteriorating fast if standing water and residual moisture is not removed as soon as possible.

The amount of water a building may need to be evacuated requires high-efficiency professional quality pumps and extractors. Swift action by a team of individuals is needed to begin that process, while measurement of moisture levels in the air and structure informs drying goals to reduce that remaining wetness. Training in setting and achieving these goals is necessary as fans and dehumidifiers join other tools to dry out a storm-damaged building.

Repairs and replacement of damaged roofs, windows, doors, siding, and a wide range of interior spaces tops out the list of concerns after Alabama storm damage. Failing to complete any of these steps risks further deterioration of your property. Insurance claims also need evidence and proof of proper remediation for coverage.

The overwhelming list of things that must be managed after an Alabama storm damages homes and businesses can be cut down to size with the help of a reliable local storm damage restoration company. Find a firm that has IICRC trained staff with experience in a variety of damage recovery.


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Ceiling, Floor, And Wall Cleaning In Alabama

Ceiling, Floor, And Wall Cleaning In Alabama

By Bruce Bowen

Maintaining a clean indoor atmosphere requires constant cleaning. Surfaces throughout your home can become welcome mats for all types of soil. Three surfaces that remain ever-present are your walls, ceilings, and floors. Just as air-borne particles can become attached to these surfaces, air currents can also reverse the process and whisk them back into the air, producing slight but ongoing odors.

Outdoor contamination can add to the amount of soiling these surfaces might sustain. Automotive exhaust, pollen, and dust enter your home and end up deposited here and there. Professional cleaning technicians quickly rid hard surfaces of these particles.

All surfaces must be free of anything that is not attached to them. Everything on walls needs taking down until the walls have dried. Photographs, posters, curtains, and drapes cannot remain in their normal locations during the process. Cleaning of ceilings requires that furniture is taken out of the area, also. After completion of these precautions, a drop cloth is put into place to protect the floor.

Areas with typical soiling receive a patterned cleaning, in a back and forth manner, by a spray-on cleanser. After spraying, non-porous surfaces are wiped clean with a continuously rinsed sponge. It is easier to work small, squarish areas at a time instead of longer ones. Overlap does not present a problem between one section to another, as they are spotless and dry when the technicians finish.

Heavily soiled areas receive intensive cleaning. When finished, no staining should be visible unless truly permanent. The utmost care is taken to ensure that degradation of the surface does not occur. For hard, durable surfaces, a brush can work wonders, but on softer surfaces such as drywall, it can seriously damage the area. Special sponges are more suited for areas near wall switches and other places where stains build up over time. 

Flooring must also receive appropriate cleaning measures to protect from a build-up of debris. Depending on your flooring type, regular carpet cleaning, wood flooring care, or even deep cleaning and oiling of brick flooring, can protect your floors by removing destructive debris.

To keep your home looking as fresh and beautiful as possible, a professional cleaning company can help remove the dirt and other particulates that make your home seem dingy and dusty.


To learn more about the great city of Prattville, Alabama visit

Your Insurance, Water Damage And You!

Your Insurance, Water Damage And You!

By Bruce Bowen

Did you know that regular homeowners insurance does not cover most of the types of water damage that may occur in your home? With that said, you may find it necessary for you to discuss any available options with your insurance provider before you have issues on your property.  

It is sad to see homeowners surprised by additional costs associated with water damage in their home when they do not have the proper coverage for problems that regularly occur in their area. You should always get help with water issues that occur immediately; waiting can lead to additional damages that you insurance company simply does not cover.

Your insurance might cover the damages caused by a sudden overflow from your dishwasher. However, if you have what seems like a slow leak from a pipe or plumbing fixture, it becomes classified as an unresolved maintenance issue, leaving you accountable for the bill.

On the same topic, your insurance company might pay for the costs associated with removing and repairing the damaged floor, but the replacement of the washing machine that caused the problem is usually up to you. Hopefully, you have an extended warranty with the company that sold it to you. If not, it becomes something you have to replace yourself.

Sewer backups are also not typically covered by a traditional insurance policy. As a homeowner, you should install backflow valves, and sump pumps to prevent such issues, or purchase an addition to your policy that protects you against these problems, or both. A local water damage restoration company can install the valve, submersible pump, and any additional drainage necessary to prevent these issues.

All homes are susceptible to flooding, never assume you are safe. You need to discuss flooding coverage with your insurance company and contact a qualified restoration company for ways to protect your home against flooding. Storms, ground water, overflowing, surges, faulty plumbing, and appliances all lead to flooding that causes devastating damage to your home.

Take my advice and get the protection you deserve today. A local restoration company can provide you with the services necessary to protect your household and personal belongings, today.


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Odor Removal Can Bring Joy Back Into Your Home Or Office Again

Odor Removal Can Bring Joy Back Into Your Home Or Office Again

By Bruce Bowen

Various sources can cause a home or business to have a bad smell to it, or worse, a stench that doesn’t seem ever to go away. Some causes of odors are from fires or water damage that were otherwise cleaned up, but microscopic remnants of previous damage remain behind and in difficult to reach locations. Some odors have long-term causes, such as cooking or smoking. Hoarding and pest infestations also are known to produce long-lasting odors, even after the situation has been resolved.

One solution that can work wonders is professional odor removal treatments. There are different methods available, and the particular set of circumstances involved can help determine which method will provide the best results. Some of these methods are better suited for slight but continuously present odors, where other methods would be too powerful. These stronger methods are reserved for those situations where strong, penetrating smells continue to exist, even after other methods have been used. Machines used for odor removal work because odors may be carried in the air, but they are caused by solid particles that your nose detects. Some people are more sensitive to certain odors than other people, so people may smell something that others do not notice.

Air scrubbers can remove larger particles of soot that are left behind after fires. These particles may be so small they were not removed by cleaning and restoration efforts, but continue to produce an after-fire smell. Another use for air scrubbers is to eliminate loose mold components from the air. Mold itself does not have a scent but instead gives off Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (MVOCs), which produces smells that can become bothersome to some people. Because remediation can stir mold up, air scrubbers are used to not only help contain the errant mold but also the MVOCs.

Devices with HEPA filters can help keep the air cleaner and therefore reduce smells when carpets are vacuumed with HEPA-filtered vacs. Heating and cooling systems with HEPA filters provide much cleaner-smelling air than those that have regular filters installed. If the cause of odors in this type of situation is inside the unit, either cleaning and sanitizing is needed. Otherwise, only HEPA filters will continue to make a difference. These filters also work well for insect pest smells.

Generators that produce special gasses can work wonders for the strongest smells found in a home. Rodent infestations that have caused extremely difficult problems with air quality can be remedied with this method. The same applies to water damage that permeates a home. There are two types – ozone and hydroxyl generators.

Ozone generators are much stronger than hydroxyl generators and act much faster, sometimes by as much as three or five times faster. However, these are not safe for use when dampness of household furnishings are present. Residents must leave the premises, as well, and no pets can remain inside. Plants also need to be removed before using this type of odor removal system.

When situations exist where leaving the premises is not possible, as, in the case of nursing homes or hospitals, a hydroxyl generator can provide the same results. The length of time required, though, is much longer than it is with an ozone machine. Another advantage is that this type of generator can be used when carpeting is still damp, so waiting time is reduced without the risk of damaging a carpet’s color.

Contact a professional odor removal and deodorization company immediately to eliminate bad odors from your property.

Asbestos Testing And Treatment

By Bruce Bowen

Since the late 20th century, the United States government and people alike have become well aware of the effects of asbestos. Formerly used widely in building materials as additional insulation, asbestos is now recognized as an exceedingly toxic substance when exposed to humans for prolonged periods of time. Asbestos has been identified as the cause of numerous long-term diseases and health effects, due to its extremely minuscule fiber sizes and ability to disrupt cell mitosis. Complicating the matter is asbestos’ incredibly small nature, with the largest of its fibers being the same size as the smallest human hairs and far thinner than those on your head.

Asbestos Removal

Due to asbestos’ microscopic form in building materials, testing for it can be a difficult, costly, and highly specialized procedure. Most buildings from before the latter decades of the 20th century used asbestos, especially in concrete and foundations. Testing for asbestos is critical to finding out if these buildings pose a health hazard, and to avoid potential lawsuits before demolitions or construction can begin on the structure. If you require testing for any property, take care to go through certified biohazard cleanup and restoration professionals to guarantee that all goes smoothly and in accordance with common laws.

Asbestos causes damage to the human body in the long-term due to its diminutive size and unique cleavage patterns. The material breaks apart into long, very thin strands which can become very sharp despite their size. These, over time, can scar the interior of the lungs and throat, leading to an array of negative medical effects. In addition, asbestos is often small enough to be comparable in size to the chromosomes of your body’s cells, interfering with their reproduction. This can lead to incurable long-term diseases, and due to its prevalence, asbestos is a leading cause of many diseases. Proper asbestos testing and cleanup is the only way to avoid further health issues, so if your building needs it, it is best not to delay.

Mold Cleaning and Remediation is a Job for Professionals

Mold Cleaning and Remediation is a Job for Professionals

By Bruce Bowen

Visible mold growing inside your home or business may pose serious health risks for some people, and it should be properly removed as soon as possible.
Mold spores, which are similar to the seeds of a plant, are microscopic in size and ever-present in the air and on surfaces, both inside and outside of buildings.  There are several stipulations necessary for mold spores to take root and grow, and it must have a growth medium, excessive moisture, and time to grow. A bit of dust, or soil, or food residue on any surface (even concrete or tile) is enough to serve as a growth medium for mold or other microbes. Porous materials such as carpet or drywall can be an excellent growth medium. Humid conditions combined with warmer temperatures can accelerate the growth of some types of mold. When moisture remains in a suitable growth medium for more than a day or so, mold and other microbial growth is possible and likely, which is why it is important to keep an indoor environment clean and dry.

Once mold becomes visible to the naked eye, it is usually active and growing. “Black Mold” is a common expression utilized when visible growth is identified. When this occurs in an indoor environment, it may be cause for concern, and you should contact a mold remediation professional to perform a visual inspection to attempt to identify any potential excessive moisture issues. The restoration technician will begin by checking for wet conditions in the building. Moisture plays a critical role in fostering the growth of microbes, so the amount of moisture present in the air, the building contents, and the building materials must all be taken into consideration. The technician will attempt to determine the source of any excess moisture. Any leaks or other sources of excess moisture must be addressed.

The technician may employ any of several methods and devices to measure the moisture in each of the areas above. The tool used most commonly by professionals for measuring moisture in the air is a thermo-hygrometer (sometimes called a psychrometer), which is essentially an electronic psychrometric calculator. The primary readings used by the technician are temperature and relative humidity.  The readings from the psychrometer may also be inserted into a psychrometric chart. From this, the technician can see the relationship between relative humidity, temperature, dew point, and the humidity ratio. Relative humidity is the percentage of moisture in the air compared against the quantity of moisture the air is capable of holding at a given temperature. Dew point is the temperature at which water will begin to condense from the air onto surfaces. The humidity ratio is the actual amount of water vapor in one pound of dry air, usually expressed as a ratio of grains of water vapor per pound of air (GPP).

There are several tools used to determine the moisture content of the materials in the building. A non-penetrating moisture meter will measure to a depth of approximately 3/4 of an inch. Most have separate settings for wood, drywall, or masonry. Wood moisture content is measured as a percentage, while other materials use a points scale. A pin-type penetrating moisture meter is employed to check for moisture deeper than 3/4 inch, or to check for wet materials behind a wall or under a floor. It has probes that must be driven into or even completely through one material to test for moisture in another, such as insulation or studs behind drywall, or subfloor materials beneath a vinyl rug. Another method for finding wet materials that may not be visible to the naked eye is with an infrared camera. Infrared cameras are extremely sensitive, with the ability to detect temperature differences to as little as .05 degree Fahrenheit. They can enable the technician to locate wetness in buildings that cannot be found using conventional moisture meters.

The moisture levels in most materials must be measured against a ‘dry standard’, which will vary with local environmental conditions. The dry standard for materials in a building along the Gulf of Mexico will usually allow for a higher average moisture content than for materials found in a building in the Desert Southwest for example. The technician will take readings from an area of the structure, or a neighboring structure, that has not been affected by the water damage event to set a ‘drying goal’ for each type of material, which will approximate the dry standard.Mold

When a building incurs a water loss, the level of wetness is classified, and the level of contamination is categorized according to standards established in the S500, a manual by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). Water damages are divided into 4 Classes.
•    Class 1 water damage is the least amount of wetness, confined mainly to the floor with only part of a room or area affected and little or no wet carpet or carpet pad.
•    Class 2 is a significant amount of water, with very wet flooring materials in at least an entire room and moisture wicking up the walls no more than 24 inches.
•    A Class 3 water loss is the greatest amount of water, with entire rooms saturated from ceiling to floor, where water may have leaked down from above.
•    Class 4 is a Specialty Drying situation, with hard to dry materials such as concrete, plaster or masonry, and deep pockets of saturation, which may require very low humidity or heat to dry.

Water contamination is broken into three categories:
•    Category 1 water is water from a clean or sanitary source, which may be from a broken supply line, or toilet tank or bowl. Category 1 water can degrade over time to Category 2 or 3 with exposure to higher temperatures or contaminants, such as animal feces or animal carcasses.
•    Category 2 water is mildly contaminated, and may cause illness or discomfort if ingested. Sources of Category 2 water may include a washing machine or dishwasher overflow, toilet overflow with no feces or a small amount of urine. Category 2 water can degrade to Category 3.
•    Category 3 is grossly contaminated water which would likely cause serious illness or death if ingested. Examples include sewage, intruding water from flooding rivers or streams, toilet back-ups that include feces, or water that has been sitting long enough to support microbial growth. Water associated with a significant mold loss is usually considered to be Category 3.

If mold is discovered or suspected, the restoration company will usually contact a third party Certified Industrial Hygienists to take samples and have them tested. Samples are normally taken from surfaces inside the building, and from the air both outside and inside of the building. The process of taking samples may require somewhat intrusive measures, such as moving furniture, lifting carpeting, opening air condition ducting, or even removing sections of drywall or flooring. The hygienist will take the samples to a laboratory to be examined under a microscope to identify the type and quantity of any microbes present. The results for the interior and exterior samples are compared against each other. The quantity of mold spore for a given volume of air should be somewhat less indoors than outside. The type and amount of microbes normally present in the local environment are also taken into consideration. It is not uncommon in cases of severe interior mold infestations that the quantity of mold spores discovered in the interior air samples is significantly higher than the outdoor sample. Another indicator of an interior mold problem is the presence of a significant quantity of spores from the indoor air sample that is of a different type than the majority of spores present in the outdoor air sample.

When the results of the laboratory analysis are positive for mold, a remediation protocol is developed. This protocol must be followed by the mold remediation professional. Before the remediation can begin, any standing water must be removed from the environment. Air scrubbers (Air Filtration Devices or AFD) may also be installed inside the building. Air scrubbers are high-efficiency particulate arresting (HEPA) air filters, which remove 99.97% of particles from the air, down to a size of .03 microns. This filtration level is fine enough to capture the majority of mold spores, which can help reduce the amount of it in the air, and the likelihood that the mold will spread.

Technicians must don the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) before beginning the remediation. Different levels of PPE may be required depending on the project. This usually includes an impermeable suit and gloves, a respirator and eye protection. The remediation technicians will construct engineering controls (a containment barrier) around the affected area to close-off unaffected areas from the remediation process. Slight negative air pressure should be maintained within the containment, with any air exiting the chamber also filtered through an air scrubber, to reduce the likelihood of cross-contamination of unaffected areas. Any wet and contaminated, porous materials, such as carpet or upholstered furniture, must usually be discarded. Materials to be discarded must be sealed in a container (such as a trash bag) while still within the containment area. Once removed from the building, it can be tossed out with typical construction waste.

Standing water must be extracted. Extraction is normally accomplished using a powerful portable unit or truck mounted vacuum unit that is capable of pulling a strong vacuum. Once standing water has been removed, any remaining residual moisture must be removed from materials to be saved through dehumidification. Refrigerant dehumidifiers are usually employed to reduce humidity levels.  Conventional dehumidifiers are employed for small jobs operating near normal room temperature.  Low grain refrigerant (LGR) dehumidifiers are used on small to medium size losses and higher moisture levels, as they are capable of discharging air at even lower humidity levels. However, to achieve maximum efficiency, refrigerant dehumidifiers must operate within a relatively narrow temperature range. Desiccant dehumidifiers are capable of achieving extremely low humidity levels in a wide range of temperatures, but they require a method to discharge moist air from the environment, which may not always be feasible, especially in the presence of mold. However, for large spaces desiccants may be the best and only option to maintain a regulated humidity level, especially in commercial and industrial environments.

When materials such as concrete or plaster become saturated with moisture, they can be difficult to dry, and will usually take much longer than materials such as wood, drywall or carpet. Heat may be added to the drying process in this case. However, heating the materials or the drying environment can also stimulate mold growth, and may not be the most practical tool to utilize in a mold job until humidity levels have been reduced below 50%. Air movement may also be applied to help in moisture removal, although this too is often curtailed in the presence of mold, to prevent spreading and cross-contamination.

It is not uncommon for the subfloor and structural members of a building to be contaminated with mold as well. Solid wood flooring or structural wood can be sanded or otherwise abraded to remove mold.  HEPA vacuum equipment is employed to capture all of the dust and debris created by this process. The extent of material that must be removed will be specified in the protocol. Since sanding or grinding can compromise the integrity of some structural members, it may be necessary to consult with an engineer to decide how much material can be safely removed before having to be replaced.

The objective of a mold remediation is to return the indoor environment to normal, sanitary conditions.  When the remediation protocol has been fully executed, the Industrial Hygienist will re-test the affected area to confirm whether the air and surfaces have been returned to pre-loss conditions.  Sometimes further remediation and re-testing may be necessary. Once the remediation is complete, the containment barrier can be disassembled, and any reconstruction can begin.


Choosing a Restoration Company for Fire Damage Cleanup

Choosing a Restoration Company for Fire Damage Cleanup

By Bruce Bowen

Clean up after fire damage requires the right time and industrial equipment, and is a daunting and tedious task. For clean ups like this, a regular vacuum cleaner is not sufficient for the job. Immediately after a fire time is of the essence. Victims of fires are looking at arrangements for temporary housing, insurance matters, and even possible health concerns, so homeowners are not likely to put salvage efforts at the top of their list of priorities. This entire situation could sadly make a costly problem, however, in cases like these, the services of a professional fire restoration company can be invaluable. When you delay cleanup after fire damage, it could have serious consequences. Besides the obvious devastation caused by flames, heat, water, soot and smoke, there are strong destructors and contaminators left behind. Intervention needs to be taken right away to lower the exposure to these agents which are very damaging to help limit the cost of restoration.

It only takes several minutes after the blaze is put out for acidic soot to cause the discoloration of plastics. In just hours this same soot can cause the yellowing of countertops, bath fixtures and tarnish and any protected metals. Furniture can also become discolored by acidic soot. In just a few days, the walls of a house can discolor permanently, and metals can begin corroding and rusting, plus flooring of vinyl or wood will have to be replaced or refinished. If cleanup is left for weeks untouched, carpeting can become unsalvageable from discoloration and fixtures that are silver-plated may become corroded. Besides the structural damage from the fire itself, acidic soot can cause damage to a home’s belongings and interior that are irreparable. However, their are additional problems from a fire that do not end there, as odor removal can be another issue, and box or ceiling fans by themselves do not have enough power to disperse the smoke smell. Water damage caused by firemen to put the fire out can complicate things even more.

Homeowners might be able to save some of their belongings with a sponge and soap or by laundering and vacuuming. Extensive water damage, heavy soot, corrosion control and removal of odors, however, are best left to professional technicians. These technicians have all that is needed to clean up the damage and restore the inside of your home back to a condition like it was before the fire. A general contractor can always be contacted for any structural damage. When choosing a restoration company to do the cleanup after fire damage, you should make sure that they have up-to-date training which they can back up with formal documentation. The technician’s or company’s safety and health certificates should be up-to-date as well. The technician ideally should have substantial experience in a variety of different skills for restoration, and be able to give you the proof of their professional license, plus the applicable insurance needed.