9 Smoke Odor Removal Musts
"I live in a crack house. Well, it used to be a crack house until the new owner threw out the old tenants and restored the home, to the relief of the neighborhood. But I’m afraid that it wasn’t completely restored. I’m a non-smoker, and on humid days the smell of cigarette smoke can be pretty pervasive in some rooms. I’m guessing a lot of it may come from the popcorn ceiling that was only painted over when it probably should have been removed. But on fire restoration jobs, this is a much bigger issue."
One of the most critical concerns for fire restoration contractors is failing to control or eradicate odors. This problem can lead to frustrated customers as well as potential legal and financial dangers. Eliminating this problem is made more difficult when remodeling work was undertaken by either inexperienced homeowners or unprofessional contractors, as their alterations may have contributed to hidden places for fire and smoke damage to linger.
Remediating a fire loss may also take longer, meaning you might have to wait a while before you’re paid. In fact, some contractors have avoided getting involved in fire restoration because it seems too complicated. But it’s not, as long as you appreciate the principles and correct techniques of fire restoration and odor control. Here are some things to remember:
- Make sure there’s a straightforward exchange of information between you, the customer, the insurance adjuster and any possible subcontractors. Communicating clearly and setting expectations is a critical component of the job.
- Get a written agreement from the homeowner on exactly what areas have been damaged by the fire and what items should be salvaged or discarded. You don’t want them coming back to you later claiming you’ve trashed an heirloom or didn’t finish the job.
- The way that fire and water damage jobs are handled do have some similarities, but they can’t be interchanged. Confirm that only techs with at least a Fire and Smoke Restoration Technician (FSRT) certification are allowed to work on the site. Being Odor Control Technician (OCT) certified is also helpful.
- Smoke and fire residues can be poisonous, as fires can include the demolition of plastic, foam, fabric, carpet, wood products, synthetic textiles, and asbestos-containing materials. Ash and smoke can also cause widespread corrosion, etching and staining, as well as persistent powerful odors. So removing these and their sources should be your first priority.
- If the damage is localized, contain those areas to assist in removing odors.
- Carefully inspect all areas that may have numerous layers of wall board. These may hide unexpected gaps and voids that turn into superhighways for circulating smoke and odor.
- Examine all wall cavities, duct work, and plumbing chases to establish whether they suffered any smoke residue or fire damage.
- Use a borescope to discover any damage that may otherwise have been impossible to see without having to completely remove a part of the structure. If the fire is recent, use of a thermal imaging camera may reveal hidden warmer areas, indicating possible fire damage.
- Aside from losing their valuables, the majority of homeowners are underinsured. They may even have to take up temporary lodging. So you’re going to be dealing with some very distraught people. Train yourself and your employees on how to be empathetic and ways to successfully communicate with them.
When eliminating malodors on fire jobs, remember that there are several factors that can impact the strength of the odor:
- Size - The bigger the fire, the more objects have burned, and thus there’s been more smoke.
- Length -The longer a structure has been exposed to smoke, the more deeply odor has seeped into porous materials.
- Space - When a fire occurs in a smaller room, the smoke odor becomes more intense and concentrated.
- Stuff - Not all odors are equal. For instance, burning wood, plastic and protein all have very different smells and consistency. This may influence the types of odor eliminators you use.
WHERE the damage occurred and WHAT burned will always be your two main concerns in fire restoration. Knowing the full answers to those questions will likely ensure that your restoration efforts will be complete and that you’ll be able to eliminate all of those irritating malodors, while at the same time eliminating any call backs.
What To Do When Your Business Encounters Extreme Damage
Remain positive and hopeful because SERVPRO of W. Vancouver is here to help 24 hours a day, 365 days a year! 360-695-4418
Natural disasters can cause significant and costly damages to homes, roads and, of course, local businesses. While you should always be prepared for such events, by maintaining adequate insurance coverage and secure file backups, you sometimes get little warning before disaster strikes. And if something happens, you'll want to get your business back up and running as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, the road to recovery isn't always easy. A previous Business News Daily article about recovery from 2012's Superstorm Sandy reported that just 25 percent of small businesses had backups of critical programs and data before the storm, and even fewer (20 percent) said they had protected their buildings from the storm or prepared emergency survival kits.
Execute your business continuity plan
Your business continuity plan should prepare you for major disaster scenarios, such as the loss or unavailability of IT systems, key people or a facility third party. Make sure key personnel will have access to the plan on secured mobile devices immediately after a disaster.
Don't have a business continuity plan? This Business News Daily guideoutlines how to create one.
Check your backed-up data
You should have already backed up and safely stored your most critical data: your business license, major contracts and legal documents, tax returns and financial statements, and other critical business and customer documents. Following a disaster, make sure your vital records are still securely accessible from the devices you're using.
Communicate with your employees and external parties
Leverage your website, social media channels and text messaging to reach your employees, customers, partners and vendors. Reassure your customers that you're still in business, while making sure that no communications will inadvertently create legal liability or adversely affect service-level agreements.
Contact your insurance company
Once you and your employees are safe and accounted for after a disaster, survey the damage. Contact your insurance company to file a claim. You should always do an occasional check-up to ensure you have adequate coverage for major disaster types, including cybersecurity insurance. Office break-ins and vandalism may occur during a disaster, and if someone steals computer equipment or paper documents containing personally identifiable information, and the information was not encrypted, you may have a legal requirement to notify your customers. To be safe, encrypt your customer data, digitize paper documents and store all critical data in a secure, cloud-based document-management system.
If your insurance doesn't cover the full cost of the damage, you may be eligible for a disaster loan from the Small Business Administration of up to $2 million. The SBA may even provide working capital loans, even if you didn't have any property damage.
Remain positive and hopeful because SERVPRO of W. Vancouver is here to help 24 hours a day, 365 days a year!
Source: Business News Daily
What To Do Before, During, and After A Fire
Contact your fire experts at SERVPRO of W. Vancouver / Clark Co. for further assistance in recovering from the fire @ (360) 695-4418
Before A Fire
- Install the right number of smoke alarms. Test them once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year.
- Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one.
- Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home and know the family meeting spot outside of your home.
- Establish a family emergency communications plan and ensure that all household members know who to contact if they cannot find one another.
- Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year. Press the smoke alarm test button or yell “Fire“ to alert everyone that they must get out.
- Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.
- Teach household members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire.
If A Fire Starts
- Know how to safely operate a fire extinguisher
- Remember to GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL 9-1-1 or your local emergency phone number.
- Yell "Fire!" several times and go outside right away. If you live in a building with elevators, use the stairs. Leave all your things where they are and save yourself.
- If closed doors or handles are warm or smoke blocks your primary escape route, use your second way out. Never open doors that are warm to the touch.
- If you must escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your exit. Close doors behind you.
- If smoke, heat or flames block your exit routes, stay in the room with doors closed. Place a wet towel under the door and call the fire department or 9-1-1. Open a window and wave a brightly colored cloth or flashlight to signal for help.
- Once you are outside, go to your meeting place and then send one person to call the fire department. If you cannot get to your meeting place, follow your family emergency communication plan.
Recovering After A Fire
- Call 9-1-1. Give first aid where needed; cool and cover burns to reduce the chance of further injury or infection.
- Let friends and family know you’re safe.
- People and animals that are seriously injured or burned should be transported to professional medical or veterinary help immediately.
- Stay out of fire-damaged homes until local fire authorities say it is safe to re-enter.
- Contact your fire restoration and cleanup experts at SERVPRO of W. Vancouver / Clark Co. for further assistance in recovering from the fire @ (360) 695-4418.
Source: American Red Cross - National Sponsor of SERVPRO
What Is Black Mold?
If you suspect you have a mold problem, contact SERVPRO of W. Vancouver / Clark Co. immediately.
You may have seen sensational news reports that warn about the dangers of “black mold” or “toxic mold”. These reports can be alarming and confusing so it’s beneficial to get the facts to better understand mold.
Stachybotrys chartarum is the type of mold often called black mold, and it does produce allergens and irritants. However, many types of mold can produce allergens and irritants. Treat any mold with caution – stay out of affected areas and don’t touch or disturb the mold.
Learn more about mold and what to do until help arrives by visiting Mold Damage Tips.
How Do I Tell If It’s Black Mold?
Since many types of mold can cause reactions, you should contact us regardless of the color or type of mold. In many instances, multiple types of mold may exist in the same house or structure. If you suspect you have a mold problem, contact SERVPRO of W. Vancouver / Clark Co. immediately.
When water intrudes into your property, mold growth can start in as little as 48 hours. Consider the following mold facts:
- Mold is present almost everywhere, indoors and outdoors.
- Mold spores are microscopic, float along in the air, and may enter your home through windows, doors, or AC/heating systems or even hitch a ride indoors on your clothing or a pet.
- Mold spores thrive on moisture. Mold spores can quickly grow into colonies when exposed to water. These colonies may produce allergens and irritants.
- Before mold remediation can begin, any sources of water or moisture must be addressed. Otherwise the mold may return.
- Mold often produces a strong, musty odor, and that odor can lead you to possible mold problem areas.
- Even higher-than-normal indoor humidity can support mold growth. Keep indoor humidity below 45 percent.
Preparing Your Home For Winter Weather
If you encounter damage to your home this winter make sure you call SERVPRO of Vancouver 24 hours a day, 365 days a year! (360) 695-4418
If you live in the Northeast, Midwest, or Northwest you know the drill. Four to five months of heavy clothes, seeing your breath and generally freezing outside. Sometimes even elsewhere, Old Man Winter stops in for an unexpected visit. But beyond the inconvenience and discomfort, a winter storm or other severe weather conditions can cause real damage. So it's important to think about winter preparedness.
Protecting your home is vital. A frozen water pipe can burst and flood your house or basement. An ice dam in your gutter can cause water to seep into and saturate an interior wall. And then there’s your car. Making sure it’s prepped to face winter’s worst is just as critical. After all, what would happen if a blizzard stranded you in your car?
Some winter weather tips to help you get through a severe stretch of cold:
- Stay indoors during the storm.
- Walk carefully on snowy, icy walkways.
- Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. It’s a serious workout, and going at it too hard can bring on a heart attack − a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside.
- Stay dry. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits the cold rapidly.
- Watch for signs of frostbite: loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities. If any of these occur, get medical help immediately.
- Watch for signs of hypothermia: uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion.
- If any of the hypothermia symptoms appear, get yourself (or the victim) to a warm location, remove wet clothing, and warm the center of the body first. Give the patient warm, non-alcoholic beverages if they are conscious. And of course, get medical help as soon as possible.
Prepare your home
Some tips to brace your home for a winter storm:
- Clean out the gutters, disconnect and drain all outside hoses. If possible, shut off outside water valves.
- Insulate walls and attics, and caulk and weather-strip doors and windows.
- Repair roof leaks and remove tree branches that could get weighed down with ice or snow and fall on your house – or your neighbor's. (Avoid liability for the latter.)
- Wrap water pipes in your basement or crawl spaces with insulation sleeves to slow heat transfer.
- Consider an insulated blanket for your hot water heater.
- If you have a fireplace, keep the flue closed when you're not using it.
- Have a contractor check your roof to see if it would sustain the weight of a heavy snowfall.
- Make sure your furniture isn't blocking your home’s heating vents.
- During cold spells, keep cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate around pipes, particularly those in the kitchen and bathrooms.
- Keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets connected to pipes that run through unheated or unprotected spaces.
- If your house will be unattended during cold periods, consider draining the water system.
- Avoid ice dams – where water from melted snow refreezes in the gutters and seeps in under the roof, soaking interior walls. Here’s how:
- Ventilate your attic.
- Insulate the attic floor well to minimize the amount of heat rising through the attic from within the house.
- Consider having a water-repellent membrane installed under your roof covering.
Water Damage Caused by Ice Dams
If you encounter water damage this winter pick up the phone and call SERVPRO of Vancouver 24/7 365 days a year! (360) 695-4418
An Ice Dam is a hump of ice that forms at the edge of a roof under certain wintertime conditions. An ice dam can damage both your roof and the inside of your home. It will put gutters and downspouts at risk too.
There are several things you can do to avoid getting an ice dam or to reduce the risk of damage after one has formed, but there’s really only one cure: a combination of better sealing, insulation, and venting in the attic and eaves.
HOW DO ICE DAMS FORM?
An ice dam forms when the roof over the attic gets warm enough to melt the underside of the layer of snow on the roof. The water trickles down between the layer of snow and the shingles until it reaches the eave of the roof, which stays cold because it extends beyond the side of the house. There, the water freezes, gradually growing into a mound of ice.
The flatter the pitch of the roof, the easier it is for an ice dam to get a grip. Gutters at the eaves can also trap snow and ice. If snow and ice build up high enough in the gutter, it can provide a foundation for an ice dam.
WHAT DAMAGE DO ICE DAMS CAUSE?
When an ice dam gets big enough, melted water backs up behind it and seeps underneath the shingles. Eventually, it will drip into the insulation and down into the ceilings and exterior walls beneath the eave, ruining sheetrock and paint. If the ice dam breaks free, it can pull shingles and gutters off with it, and it will damage anything it falls on: shrubs, windowsills, cars, pets, and people. If the roof sheathing stays wet, it can form mildew and start to rot.
HOW CAN YOU DEAL WITH AN ICE DAM?
There are two avenues of attack: dealing with an existing ice dam and preventing one in the first place.
DEALING WITH EXISTING ICE DAMS
1. Remove the ice dam by breaking it free in small chucks. Do NOT use an ax or other sharp tool! You’ll cut through the shingles. Instead, tap lightly with a blunt mallet. This is slow, dangerous work, so hire someone experienced at roofing. Even if you do it safely, the chunks of ice can take pieces of shingle with them.
2. Clear out gutters and downspouts. Again, this is ladder work and an easy way to damage either plastic or metal gutters and spouts.
3. Melt troughs through the ice dam with calcium chloride ice melter. Do NOT use rock salt! It will damage paint, metals, and plants beneath the eave and wherever the salty water drains.
A good trough-maker is a tube of cloth (a leg from an old pair of panty hose works well). Fill it with calcium chloride, tie off the top, and lay it vertically across the ice dam. It will slowly melt its way down through the dam, clearing a path for the underlying water to flow free.
PREVENTING ICE DAMS
You can scrape snow from the roof whenever it falls, using a snow rake from below or a broom or plastic shovel from above. BE CAREFUL: The first method can bury you in snow, while the second can send you slipping off the roof. Hire someone who knows how to use a safety line.
You can replace your shingle roof with standing seam or other metal roof. Or you can replace the bottom three feet or so of your shingle roof with a wide metal drip edge. Whatever you do, install a water-repellent membrane under any new roofing.
NOTE: If your roof is not very steep, an ice dam can still form on metal roofing and drip edges.
All of these methods treat the symptoms, not the underlying problem, which is the warm roof, caused by poor insulation and venting of the space under the roof. We have found that the only way to cure an ice dam – and prevent one in the first place – is to:
1. Seal all points where warm air leaks from the living space into the spaces immediately below the roof sheathing.
2. Insulate the living space well enough to prevent conduction and convection of heat through the ceiling.
3. Vent the space between the insulation and the roof sheathing, so any heat that does leak through is carried away.
Smoke Detectors Save Lives
Smoke Detectors Save Lives
- Three out of Five fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms or when the alarms are not working.
- Smoke alarm failures usually result from missing, disconnected, or dead batteries.
- More than one-third(37%) of home fire deaths result from fires in which no smoke alarms are present
- The risk of dying in a house fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms.
- Install smoke alarms at every level of the home along with every bedroom.
- Be sure to test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button.
- Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year. If an alarm "chirps", the battery is low and should be replaced right away.
- Replace smoke alarms every 10 years with brand new smoke alarms.
- Information provided curtosity of The American Red Cross
Winter Weather Preparation
Most storm damage in the Northwest is caused by high winds and freezing temperatures. Make sure you're prepared!
*Protect your pipes from freezing. Allow water to drip from faucets when temperatures dip below freezing. Wrap outdoor faucets with an insulated faucet cover or towel.
*If leaving your structure for more than a few days, consider turning off the water supply. Have a designated person checking in on your structure. Keep your home or business at a moderate temperature helping to decrease the chance of pipes freezing and breaking.
*Leave cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate around pipes while observing the status daily.
*Clear gutters of all debris, leaves and other objects that can lead to blockage of the gutters ultimately causing roof damage and interior water leakage/damage.
*Keep walkways and nearby storm drains clear of debris to alleviate flood hazard potentials.
Whether it is heavy winds, rain, freezing temperatures, sleet or snow, all these factors can cause costly damage. While we cannot control the weather, we at SERVPRO are here to help you take a preventative approach and help take the sting out of winter weather.
Further Questions and/or Mitigation Needs, Please Call 360-695-4418
It never hurts to be prepared!
*A note from our Sales and Marketing Manager - Shelly.
In the training's and certification's that I have completed through the American Red Cross, I can tell you that it is time to prepare for natural disasters of all types and sizes.
The first step is to have a plan for all of the members of your family.
Not all disasters happen when all of the family members are at home or even in one central location together. Make a plan as to where you will all meet once it's safe.
Choose a specific contact person outside of the state that you live in. Make sure all family members know the contact person's telephone number's and email address. Each person needs to check in with that person immediately if possible. The contact person can then share with all family members the where about's of all members that have checked in.
Make sure each person knows what their role/responsibility/duty in survival/ is in the event that everyone is home when disaster strikes.
For further preparedness planning, please call Shelly of SERVPRO of W. Vancouver/Clark Co. 360-991-6977
Quick Response & Proper Drying = No Mold
Don't be a victim to mold damage, call SERVPRO today!
The last thing you hope to ever worry about is "Mold."
The primary physical damage from water or moisture usually includes wet floors, walls, ceilings and furnishings.
Secondary damage to other furnishings and structural components can result from indoor humidity or molds that may develop as a result of improper drying. If water and moisture problems are not addressed promptly, molds and other microbes can begin to grow. These microorganisms can feed on a variety of materials including wood, paper, paint, adhesives and backing materials. Proper and prompt water mitigation is essential in preventing mold and additional damage from a water loss.
So if the unthinkable happens, call SERVPRO so we can turn your traumatic before into a happily ever after. "Like it never even happened." Inspections are scheduled as an appointment. Be proactive instead of reactive. If mold is present, time can be your enemy.
Please call SERVPRO of W. Vancouver/Clark Co. @ (360) 695-4418