Why SERVPRO – Steps for an Insurance Home Inventory
A home inventory can help you determine the kind of homeowners’ or renters’ coverage that’s right for your lifestyle!
Here at SERVPRO of Missoula, we work to make water, fire, and mold damage “Like it never even happened.” Restoring your home after damages of these kinds occur often means replacing items that were affected, so an up-to-date home inventory can be a big help for both restoration professionals and insurance adjusters working on your claim. Also, home inventories aren’t just for home owners or for people who already have insurance; they can be a great first step in determining what level of coverage you might need, and are also valuable in seeking renter’s insurance or filing a claim as a renter.
While perhaps time-consuming at first, building a home inventory is a simple process. To get started on yours, just follow these steps:
- Go through your home room by room and take pictures of the entire room, as well as close-up pictures of individual items you would want replaced in the event of a loss
- For each item, record a description of the item, the serial number if applicable, when and where the item was purchased, and the cost at time of purchase (or appraisal of cost if actual cost is unknown)
- Add new items to your inventory as they’re added to your home, and keep copies or pictures of receipts whenever possible
- For antique items or collections, check with your insurance agent to determine if special coverage is needed
In our increasingly digital world, home inventories are easier than ever to create. You can organize one in an online spreadsheet, or check out several free app options to use directly on your phone or a tablet. In the event of an emergency at your home, your inventory can then be accessed off-site. Finally, as an extra preparedness step you can add important contact information to the bottom of your document, like the numbers for your insurance agent and for SERVPRO of Missoula!
How SERVPRO of Missoula makes commercial water damage “Like it never even happened.”
SERVPRO of Missoula makes water damage “Like it never even happened.”
If water damage occurs at your business, you may be tempted to remediate the problem yourself, thinking that will create less of a disturbance to your business operations than a professional restoration company would. On the contrary, SERVPRO of Missoula’s highly trained team of restoration technicians respond to emergency water losses quickly to minimize the extent of damages, and use specialized equipment to speed up drying time.
SERVPRO of Missoula engages all the three sides of the drying triangle (see our other blog: How SERVPRO of Missoula makes residential water damage “Like it never even happened,” by using air movers, temperature control, and dehumidifiers to create the most ideal drying environment for your business’s unique space. In addition, our project managers have extensive experience speaking with insurance adjusters, and will be there every step of the way to help you navigate your claim so you can get back to business as soon as possible.
While emergency water losses are often covered by insurance, long-term losses or damage that could have been prevented with proper intervention are usually not covered. That’s why it’s important to get it right the first time. If a burst pipe, flooding, or other water emergency occurs at your business, call the team that’s “Faster to any size disaster” – SERVPRO of Missoula 406-327-9500.
Missoula Mold 101: What is it? Where is it?
Mold is everywhere, but if you can see it or smell it in your home, call in SERVPRO of Missoula, your remediation professionals!
When you hear the word ‘mold,’ a specific image probably comes to mind. That image might be fuzzy green patches on a loaf of bread, or black splotches in the tile grooves of your shower wall. Either way, ‘mold’ does not typically conjure up a pretty picture. But what is mold, really?
Mold is a fungus that can grow anywhere moisture, oxygen, and organic material are present. That definition may sound vague, but it has to be in order to encompass the 100,000+ species of mold that there are in the world. And with so many species of mold, it stands to reason that not all molds are bad. After all, we wouldn’t have foodie favorites such as blue cheese or hard salami if it weren’t for mold. On the other hand, some mold can cause health effects, so how do you know when to take action against it, and when to let it be?
According to the CDC, “there is always a little mold everywhere—in the air and on many surfaces.” This is because, when disturbed, mold spores become airborne and can be transported in and out of the home via doors, windows, and HVAC systems, or can hitch a ride on clothes, shoes, and pets. For the most part, we’re unaware of and unaffected by the mold spores being transported all around us. Mold infestations that require action, though, are those that can be seen or smelled. Visible mold growth, regardless of the type of mold present, should always be remediated. If you find mold growth in your home or business, don’t panic! SERVPRO of Missoula can make it “Like it never even happened.”
Trimming the Christmas tree with SERVPRO of Missoula
: Prevention is the key to a merry, bright, and fire-free holiday season.
Here at SERVPRO of Missoula, we’re committed to fire preparedness, which is why we’ve previously covered topics such as the importance of checking your smoke detectors routinely and having + knowing how to use a home fire extinguisher.
That said, prevention is really the most effective tool against home fires, especially during the holiday season. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), approximately 160 Christmas tree fires and 780 decoration fires are reported each year, with candle fires in particular reaching their peak on Christmas and Christmas Eve. Similarly, the peak days for home cooking fires are Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Christmas Eve, respectively.
With these facts in mind, there are several preventative steps you can take to decrease the risk of a holiday fire in your home:
- Never leave a stovetop unattended when cooking
- Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything flammable
- For string lights, read the manufacturer’s instructions to find the maximum number of strands to connect
- Replace string lights with worn or broken cords, or loose bulb connections
- Make sure your tree is at least three feet away from any heat source or vent, and that it does not block exits
- Water your Christmas tree daily
- Get rid of your Christmas tree as soon as it dries out
- Turn off string lights and blow out candles before leaving your home or going to bed
By working these preventative measures into your holiday routine, you can make sure your home stays merry and bright—and fire-free—this winter.
The SERVPRO of Missoula team wishes you and yours a safe and joyous holiday season!
Winter is Coming to Missoula: Winter Storm Preparedness
It’s important to prepare for winter storms before severe weather strikes.
Like those Christmas decorations in the department store, it may seem a bit early to think about winter storms, much less prepare your home for one. However, the middle of a blizzard is hardly the time to wonder when your heating system was last serviced. By taking action now, you can head into the holiday season comfortable in the knowledge that your home and family will be safe in the face of severe winter weather.
Before those nightly temperatures plummet, you’ll want to take preventative measures to keep your pipes from freezing (stay tuned for another post with more info), and help your home retain heat by weather-stripping doors and windowsills and replacing your heating system’s filter. Then, you might consider buying emergency heating equipment (and fuel) or a portable backup generator—but not before checking that your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector are in good working order! And in case you’re unable to leave your home for a prolonged amount of time due to weather conditions, having a stock of non-perishable food items in your pantry is always a good idea.
While you can hopefully avoid the roads entirely during a winter storm, in the event that you’re caught traveling or need to evacuate an area when a storm strikes, you also want to be sure your vehicle is winter-ready. The American Red Cross recommends having a maintenance check and tire evaluation in autumn so that any necessary maintenance can be completed before winter arrives, and having an emergency road kit with the following provisions: a windshield scraper, a small sack of sand (for generating traction), matches in a waterproof container, tire chains or traction mats, a bright red cloth to tie to your antenna, warm clothing, water and snack food, and a battery-powered radio.
It’s never too early to think about emergency preparedness—for more way to get started, check out the free SERVPRO Ready Plan App in the app store or at SERVPRO.com
Sump Pumps: What they are and how they work for your Missoula home
Sump pumps automatically direct water away from your foundation when it begins to pool under your basement or crawlspace.
From snowmelt runoff to river flooding to summer storms, groundwater has the potential to affect Western Montana properties no matter the season.
Because water naturally migrates through soil, elevated moisture on the surface can spell trouble for crawlspaces, unfinished basements, and even basements with concrete flooring. When groundwater penetrates the floor of a basement, it can lead to mold or mildew growth, and if the seepage is extreme, it can cause flooding and damage to your belongings.
So how do you keep your basement dry and mildew-free when those heavy rains strike? Installing a sump pump (or checking that your existing pump is in good working order) is one good option.
For houses at risk of underground wetness—which is over 60%, according to the American Society of Home Inspectors—sump pumps prevent damage by collecting that seeping groundwater and redirecting it to a discharge pipe pointed away from the structure’s foundation. To accomplish this, the pump sits in a pit dug at the lowest point of the basement or crawl space, and automatically turns on when the pit begins to fill with water. A one-way valve in the sump pump’s pipe, called a check valve, ensures that the water doesn’t run back.
While sump pumps are not a cure-all for water damage in every home, they are certainly a viable option for homes in a number of climates and terrains. If you’re concerned about dampness or the smell of mildew in your basement, call SERVPRO of Missoula today. Our technicians can perform a dry-out and mold inspection of the space, as well as help pinpoint the source of water so you can safely move forward with adding preventative measures, and maybe even a sump pump.
Carbon Monoxide: What you need to know
Half of carbon monoxide-related deaths are preventable with an audible carbon monoxide alarm!
In the movies, the most dangerous kind of villain is one the protagonist never sees coming. In your home, carbon monoxide is one such villain.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas produced whenever fuel is burned, and is dangerous to humans and animals because when inhaled, it starts to replace the oxygen in red blood cells and can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning or death. According to the CDC, carbon monoxide poisoning causes over 400 deaths each year, and more than 24,000 trips to the hospital, with the most incidents occurring in January and December (in direct correlation to the use of in-home heating systems).
You can typically run furnaces and use fireplaces in your home without the worry of carbon monoxide poisoning because fuel-burning appliances meant for in-home use are always designed with ventilation systems, like pipe vents for furnaces and chimneys for fireplaces, to direct emissions outside. However, a clogged chimney or poorly maintained furnace (or gas water heater, stove range, oven, etc.) can cause your home to fill with carbon monoxide. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, the CDC recommends: having your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal-burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician annually; having your chimney cleaned prior to winter each year; never burning charcoal or using a portable gas camp stove or a generator indoors; and installing carbon monoxide detectors on each level of your home and checking their batteries every six months (the EPA estimates that approximately half of carbon monoxide-related deaths are preventable with the use of an audible CO detection unit).
By taking these precautionary steps, you can be comfortable in the knowledge that your family will be safe, warm, and CO-free this winter. For more prevention guidance, you can also visit Cdc.gov
Fall is upon us, Missoula! Time to break out the rake!
Raking fallen leaves early and often can help keep mold growth to a minimum in your yard.
With the sudden cold-snap we experienced here in the Missoula Valley, leaves have begun to drop from the trees at a rapid rate. Add in all that rain (and even snow!) that we’ve been getting, and your yard becomes a potential breeding ground for mold. That’s because freshly fallen leaves still have a fair amount of minerals and nutrients in their system, which promote mold growth under the right conditions. For the ‘right conditions,’ look no further than that perpetually shady, dew-covered spot under the tree in your yard or created by the shadow of your house. In other words, mold thrives in moist, dark environments.
However, there is a simple solution to preventing your yard from becoming an irritant to those with mold sensitivities: rake early, and rake often. If you don’t allow those leaves to sit and collect moisture, they’ll have less of a chance to grow mold. That also means bagging and disposing of leaves once they’re raked, instead of leaving large piles in your yard. If mold has already begun to grow and you’re worried about releasing mold spores into the air while doing yard work, you can always don a pair of gloves and an N95 respirator mask (found at any standard hardware store) before setting out.
Leaf mold isn’t all bad, though! If you’re a gardener, you can look into repurposing those leaves as mulch; this gets the leaves off your lawn and puts them to work for you. Or if you’re looking for other ways to keep your home mold-free this autumn, you can also make sure that all of your gutters and water drainage systems are draining away from your foundation, and clear those gutters of leaves and blockages.
I bought a fire extinguisher for my Missoula home -- now what?
Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep until the fire is out!
So, you read our recent blog about fire extinguishers in the home, and you went out and bought one. (If you need to catch up, no worries; just scroll down the page a bit for “Should I have a home fire extinguisher?”) Now you may be thinking that you’re as prepared as you could possibly be for a home fire. However, owning a fire extinguisher won’t do you much good if you don’t know how to use it. Fires can double in size every 60 seconds, so you don’t want to wait for a fire to break out in your home to look over the directions for the first time.
Before you even reach for that fire extinguisher, make sure the fire is still in the incipient stage (the flames aren’t taller than you) and that it’s not threatening to block your evacuation route. If you’re good on both of those fronts, all it takes to effectively operate most fire extinguishers is remembering and executing the acronym P.A.S.S:
PULL the pin.
AIM the nozzle at the base of the fire.
SQUEEZE the handle to release the fire extinguishing agent.
SWEEP the nozzle from side to side until the fire appears to be out.
After executing the P.A.S.S. technique, don’t turn your back on the area of the fire as flames may still flare up. And remember to evacuate immediately and call 9-1-1 if the fire gets out of hand. Your safety is the number one goal of a fire preparedness plan!
How SERVPRO of Missoula makes storm damage "Like it never even happened."
Heavy rain storms can cause flooding in your Missoula home.
When your home falls victim to storm damage, the hours and days immediately following can seem chaotic and even a bit hopeless. However, one of the worst things you can do in this event is to wait. The longer it takes cleanup & restoration professionals to arrive, the more mitigation and repairs may be necessary. Acting quickly and having an idea of what to expect will help ease your mind.
Our technicians here at SERVPRO of Missoula are trained in a number of storm damage cleanup and restoration services, including the most common type of property damage caused by storms: flooding. Here’s what you can expect when you call SERVPRO of Missoula after a storm has brought flood waters into your home or business:
- If there is standing water, our technicians will remove any affected contents to prevent further damage, and then use pumps to extract the water.
- For carpeted areas, our technicians will lift the carpet and pull the pad underneath before relaying the carpet and placing drying equipment (fans and dehumidifiers). For tile and hardwood surfaces, we use extraction mats to help pull water from the material.
- After removing any standing water, our technicians will use a Moisture Meter to perform a moisture inspection of the affected rooms, and continue to run drying equipment and to monitor your home until everything is confirmed to be dry.
- For unsalvageable materials (such as affected drywall or flooring), our technicians are trained to complete the repairs necessary to make the storm "Like it never even happened."
If a storm causes damage to your home, you do not need to feel helpless. Not only do our technicians carry the knowledge and tools to restore your home, they will work directly with you and your insurance company to make the process as easy for you as possible. Call SERVPRO of Missoula, we’re here to help.