What to do after flood or water damage in your property

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Just suppose you got back from vacation and found three inches of water in your home. What would you do first? Hopefully, you’d call your trusted home insurance agent! But what would you do next? Would you use a Yellow Pages to find an NYC water damage restoration contractor? Or maybe jump on Google or ask for suggestions on Facebook?

Here some great tips to help you to protect your rights as a homeowner.

  1. What is the IICRC?
  2. What’s one dangerous mistake contractors that are not IICRC certified might make?
  3. How can a homeowner turn off their water immediately?
  4. What is the most important call a homeowner needs to make when they have water damage?

What’s the IICRC?

“The first thing we would encourage them to do is to pick a water restoration pro that has been certified by the IICRC,”

What does the fancy acronym stand for? “It stands for The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification,” The official website tells us that the purpose of the IICRC is to set and promote high standards, ethics, and practices for the inspection, cleaning, and restoration service industries. According to the website, “As an ANSI-accredited Standards Developing Organization (SDO), the IICRC has led the way in establishing the main industry standards and reference guides for professional carpet, upholstery, and fabric cleaning, water damage restoration, and mold remediation.”

Can you give us an example of dangerous mistakes contractors that aren’t IICRC certified might make?

“There are different categories of water damage. There’s Category 1, 2, and 3. They’re not all treated the same. For example, Category 2 water is considered “gray” water, perhaps from a leaky washing machine hose. On the other hand, Category 3 water is sewage water. So, if a toilet backed up, you couldn’t simply disinfect, mop up, and install a dehumidifier! Instead, there would be special restoration steps that are required so that the consumer is protected from health risks. Someone who’s not certified may not know that and could unintentionally threaten the homeowner’s health.”

“Another mistake had to do with hardwood floors,”. “The IICRC calls for dehumidifiers being used for 2 days before making the decision to see if the floors need to be replaced. The bad contractors you can use, can return the next morning and tore up your floors before giving them a chance to dry out. This can cause the insurance agency to pay the bill for all new hardwood floors. This is bad for everyone because it makes your homeowner’s premiums go up unnecessarily.”

The lesson for you? Make sure that the professionals you choose are IICRC members.. To achieve IICRC-certified status, firms must meet a rigorous list of standards in business ethics and expertise. According to the “Benefits for Consumers” page on the website, all IICRC certified firms must:

  • Give accurate information to the customer and act with honesty and trustworthiness.
  • Require a formally trained technician that has passed all necessary tests for all jobs.
  • Have a continuing education program so that technicians keep up with the latest changes in the industry
  • Have liability insurance to protect all parties in case there’s an accident.
  • Have a written complaint policy and agree to Better Business Bureau or similar judgment to resolve conflicts, and accept the conclusions or recommendations that are reached.

Do you know how to turn the water off?

If you discover a water leak, the first thing you need do is turn it off. The longer the water flows, the more damage you’ll sustain. The odds are greater that you’ll have mold problems later on.

So here are a few million dollar questions for you:

  • Do you know where your whole-house water valve cutoff is?
  • Do you know how to turn the water to your washing machine off?
  • Do you know where the shut-off valves for your toilets are located?
  • Can you turn off the water to your water heater tank?
  • Can you turn off the water to your dishwasher?

There’s an old Ben Franklin quote that says, “An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.” This really applies to the water shut-off valves in your home. To figure out how to turn things off, first visually inspect each of the appliances mentioned above. Usually, you can spot the shut-off valve when you look for it. Still not sure? Check on Youtube for video instructions or ask a friend who’s a plumber or handyman to point them out. Worst comes to worst, you can call a water damage pro.

Don’t wait for an emergency to figure this out. Take 20 minutes and walk through your home and figure out how to turn off all water-based appliances right now. In an emergency situation, your head will probably not be screwed on tight. Learn where the shut-off valves are now and teach your family how to turn off the appliances, too.

Call your insurance agent first.

They’ll schedule a time for an adjuster to come look at your home’s damage. You can use your own contractor if you’d like.. If you want to search for your own contractor, then be sure to check out their reviews carefully.

The lesson? Your agent is an ally. Call them and they’ll walk you through the steps to help the claims process go quickly and smoothly.

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