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Flooding – What to do?

Michiana has seen its share of flooding. What to do?

Follow these tips from the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC):
Safety first
Before entering a building where flood damage may have occurred, make sure it’s safe: check for electrical hazards and structural damage, and use proper protective gear like boots, gloves and respirators. Before you start any construction or repairs, check for common hazardous materials like lead paint and asbestos, which may require help from professional and State-licensed contractors.
Act quickly
The severity of damage escalates the longer water sits and building components and contents stay wet, so time is of the essence in the aftermath of a flood. In fact, mold will grow within 48-72 hours, so aim to start removing water and drying the environment within 48 hours. Have a list of professionals on hand to call, and understand your insurance policy, as some only cover mold damage up to a certain amount, while others don’t provide any reimbursement for mold.
• Ventilate affected areas to prevent mold growth
Mold loves moisture and organic materials such as paper or particleboard. In order to mitigate or slow damage, open windows if weather permits and place fans inside of them to keep air moving and maintain moderate temperatures. Work toward the fan as you clean to minimize cross contamination.
Assess damage to items and materials
Assess the type of water absorbed by items, such as rainwater, water from broken pipes, contaminated river water or bacteria-filled sewage. There are ways to salvage specialty items but the decision on whether to save or trash an item will vary depending on the dollar and sentimental value to the owner. It may not be worthwhile to salvage drywall, carpets and pads, mattresses, pillows, box springs and particleboard. On the other hand, it might be worthwhile to restore costly Persian rugs, leather couches and antiques or heirlooms. Wet clothing and many household fabrics may be salvageable through machine washing, and a 10-minute soak in detergent and hot water, to remove contamination and stains. The IICRC strongly recommends that in water damages where there are contaminants present (e.g., bacteria, sewage, mold) or where small children or immune-compromised individuals are present that an inspection be conducted by an appropriately trained restorer and remediator.
Expose pockets of saturation
Hidden and concealed pockets of saturation need to be opened for cleaning and drying. Layers between building materials hold water that must be discovered and removed or dried. On walls, find the water line and inspect at least a foot beyond it to make sure all damage, wet materials and mold are discovered. Remove and discard the damaged drywall and wet wall insulation. Wet carpets can usually be dried by professionals with the right equipment, but carpet padding, which is like a big sponge, should be discarded. Wood base trim and hardwood can also be saved with the right equipment if they can be accessed and completely dried on both sides. Remember to investigate concealed cavities such as behind walls, in mechanical spaces, under cabinets and furniture, and in crawl spaces.
Conduct a thorough cleaning
Durable, non-porous or semi-porous materials, such as studs and joists, hardwood flooring and vinyl products, can be cleaned with common cleaning products or specialized products with detergents. During cleaning, take care to protect areas that are unaffected by the water or mold. After a thorough cleaning of salvageable materials, a disinfectant solution may need to be applied in case of harmful bacteria from sewage, river water debris or even standing water that has gone bad. Professionals like water restoration and mold remediation contractors and indoor environmental professionals can help you decide what is best for your situation. Once you’ve cleaned the wet materials, conduct another round of cleaning. If you choose to vacuum, use a HEPA-filter vacuum to remove allergens, fine dust and spores.
Confirm drying before reconstruction
In order to prevent dry rot and structural damage, it’s important not to reconstruct or cover wood and other wet materials until the moisture content has been adequately reduced. A water restoration professional can confirm proper drying before reconstruction.

8 Surprising Things Your Homeowner’s Policy May Cover

We usually think of “fine print” as a bad thing, but sometimes there’s good stuff there. The typical homeowner’s policy may include coverage you didn’t know you had. Here are 8 things included in most policies that you may be unaware of. Be sure, though, to check with your agent for information about your policy.


8 Surprising Things Your Homeowner’s Policy May Cover

  • If you hit someone while riding your bike – even if you’re away from your home – your homeowner’s policy will probably cover that.
  • Usually your homeowner’s policy will cover damage to a grave marker, even if the cemetery is miles away.
  • If you’re sued for slander (“a malicious, false or defamatory statement”) or libel (“defamation by written or printed words”), the liability coverage in the typical homeowner’s policy will cover that.
  • If you’re a dog lover, you’ll be happy to know that the typical homeowner’s policy covers dog bites, generally with limits of $100,000 to $300, 000. That’s good news: according to the Insurance Information Institute, the average cost of a dog-bite claim is over $25,000. There may be exclusions for certain breeds that are known for aggressive behavior and account for a large share of injuries. Some communities are requiring liability for certain breeds. As always, check with your agent.
  • Personal property coverage included in homeowner’s policies also covers college students who live on campus. Most of their personal possessions are automatically covered by the parents’ homeowner’s policy.
  • Since nearly 10% of Americans currently rent a storage unit (according to the Self-Storage Association), it’s good to know that you’ll have protection there, too, for losses from fire and theft. Check your policy, of course, but typically off-premises coverage is limited to 10% of the policy limits. Be aware that flooding, earthquakes, and damage from mold and mildew may not be included. (
  • Things dropping out of the sky….you’re covered there, too.
  • And finally, skunk odor is covered. If some wild critter gets into your house and causes damage, that’s an insurance claim.

What Does Hail Damage to Your Roof Look Like?

The average hail storm only lasts six minutes, but the National Weather Service estimates that the damage caused, every year, by these short storms is close to $1 billion. How do you know if your roof has suffered damage? Travelers Insurance has some tips:


Shingles can react differently when struck by hail. As an example, hail damage to asphalt and composition shingles can look very different than hail damage to wood shingles. It is important to know the different effects of the damage to properly identify whether or not you have roof damage from hail.

Asphalt and Composition Shingles Hail Damage

  • Random damage with no discernable pattern.
  • Hail hits that are black in color.
  • Loss of granules, which may expose the roof felt.
  • Asphalt and/or mat that appears shiny.
  • Hail hits that are soft to the touch, like the bruise on an apple.

Wood Shingles Hail Damage

  • Random damage with no discernable pattern.
  • A split in the shingle that is brown/orange in color.
  • A split in the shingle that has sharp corners and edges.
  • A split in the shingle that has little to no deterioration at the edges.
  • Impact marks or dents along the splits.

There are many other types of damage to shingles that can be mistaken for hail damage. For example, exposure to inclement weather and sunlight makes shingles brittle and gives them an aged appearance. This type of damage is normal wear and tear of shingles, which is sometimes misidentified as hail damage. Other types of normal wear and tear may include blistering, cracking, granule loss, flaking and algae. Manufacturing defects and mechanical imperfections in shingles can also be mistaken for hail damage.

If you believe your home has sustained damage from hail, call your agent or insurance representative to discuss possible next steps.

5 Ways to End Basement Flooding

According to The American Society of Home Inspectors, about 60% of homeowners experience a wet basement. If you have water in your basement after a heavy rain, the most likely source is water penetrating the foundation. An inch of rainfall on a 1000SF roof amounts to about 623 gallons of water. That’s a lot of water! There are things you can do, however, to stop basement flooding.

Learn more in….

5 Ways to End Basement Flooding

Basement flooding can cause damage to floors, walls, furniture and electronics. Worse, if it happens once, chances are it will happen again. Here are five strategies to stop the flooding:

  1. Be sure that water drains away from the foundation rather than toward it.        Water is a powerful force. Enough pressure against the foundation can cause water to penetrate. Ideally, the slope away from the foundation should drop 1 inch per foot.  You may be able to change the grading yourself.
  2. Be sure that gutters and downspouts work to drain water away from the foundation. Blocked gutters can dump water next to the house. And add extensions to downspouts so that they discharge water at least 4 feet from the house, again being sure that the slope causes water to drain away from the foundation rather than toward it.
  3. Check window wells to be sure they’re not trapping water. The well itself should be much deeper than the window sill to hold rain that might fall into it. The top rim of the window well should be well above grade with the ground sloping away so that water drains away from the window well rather than into it. If the window well is positioned where the wind drives the rain against the house, a plastic bubble cover will keep rain out.
  4. Repair cracks in the foundation. You can patch them yourself with hydraulic cement (available at hardware and do-it-yourself stores).
  5. And this one is a little more complicated……  So far we have addressed the flooding caused by surface water, but ground water is another cause of flooding and a bit more difficult to correct. When the water table is high, water constantly exerts pressure against the basement walls, which can lead not only to water in the basement, but can also cause cracks, shifts, collapses and other structural problems. You may have to install foundation drainage system. It is important to do this correctly or find a contractor who has expertise in this area.