Super Storm Sandy Clean-Up Part 2

Welcome to the second installation of our series on dealing with damage caused by Super Storm Sandy. Yesterday we addressed general safety concerns, specifically when dealing with clearing trees and debris. Today we turn our attention to damage that may have occurred to your home or other buildings.

Any time that there is damage to your home there are two primary questions that will help you determine what needs to be done. The first question to consider is: Is the damage penetrating through the exterior envelope? Or, in other words, is the damage simply to the outside of the home, or has it broken through to the wall cavity? The second question is: did the damage impact lived-in areas of the home (as opposed to being contained to only a basement, crawl space, and/or attic-type area)? These two questions help determine not only the immediate clean-up needs, but also what may need to be done to prevent future issues such as insect damage, mold growth, and decay to building materials.

For the sake of this post, let’s assume that the water did penetrate through the exterior envelope and has impacted lived-in areas of the home. In that case, the first thing you need to be concerned about is mold growth. The best way to prevent mold is to dry the area in question as quickly as possible. 48 hours is the maximum amount of time that materials can be damp before mold starts to become a potential issue. Dehumidifiers can help to dry out these areas and prevent the onset of mold.

Building sciences have changed the way that closed walls and other inaccessible areas are to be treated for mold. Research shows that in almost 70% of closed walls that had water entry and were not opened and properly dried out, mold growth was found within six months after the initial damage. The same was found to hold true in circumstances where water got between a subfloor and the surface floor. In an effort to save money it is possible that insurance adjusters and others will tell you that walls do not need to be opened and dried, or later inspected for mold. We recommend doing thorough research, and if you have any questions or hesitations, having a qualified mold evaluator come to your home. Mold can cause significant health issues if left undiscovered and untreated.

Let’s say that you do open up a wall or floor cavity and find mold. DO NOT use Bleach to clean the mold unless you are absolutely certain it is located on a non-porous surface such as metal, plastic, or glass. Bleach works as a topical agent only, and while it may kill some of the surface spores, it can also release the rest into the air. Furthermore, most bleach solutions are approximately 70% water, which serves to feed the root mold particles and can cause additional growth in the long term. For this reason, industry standard no longer generally includes bleach treatments in remediation plans. Instead, wet or damaged Sheetrock should be removed and replaced, wood dried out with fans and heaters, and a proper mold-inhibition product applied.

Aside from mold and general decay to building materials, insects are a concern especially with storm-related damage. Many insects that can cause damage to your home, such as carpenter ants, look to nest in damp or softened wood. Wood that has been exposed to a large quantity of water, or that has been moist for a period of time, provides favorable conditions for these insects. The issue can be exasperated by downed trees in the area, due to the possibility that a downed tree (or one that is manually cut as part of the clean-up process) may have contained an ant nest, and those ants will then be searching for a new home. The best way to try and prevent this type of nesting is to dry out affected areas as quickly as possible, and if there is any question of insect entry or damage to have a professional complete a wood destroying insect inspection in your home.

Come back again tomorrow for the last installment of the post-Super Storm Sandy clean-up series. And remember, if you have questions about today’s post, or would like any additional information you can always email us at inspections@sherwoodinspection.com, or call our office at 866-646-9983.

Super Storm Sandy – Part 1

As most of you are all too aware, our region was recently impacted by Super Storm Sandy. Although a month has passed, the recovery efforts are in many cases just beginning, and there is a long road ahead for many. To all of those who were affected, our hearts go out to you. This series of posts is intended to provide information that will hopefully help you in your storm recovery efforts.

First a word of caution: with any catastrophic event emotions run high. People and organizations are stretched thin, overwhelmed, and often exhausted. In those moments it is easy to make snap decisions that may ultimately cause negative effects on your home, health, and safety. Please consider the information here to simply be a guide to help you, but understand that every home, and every type of damage is different, and consulting with experts specific to your needs is always recommended. Feel free to contact us at Sherwood Inspection Services, LLC., either via phone at 866-646-9983, or via email at inspections@sherwoodinspection.com if you have specific questions or would like any clarification or additional information.

Part One:

The biggest issue with any storm clean up is safety. It is imperative that equipment is used properly, and potentially unseen dangers are accounted for. One of the primary clean up issues we have seen in our area is the need to remove downed trees and other debris. When removing trees and brush, first ensure that your tools are in good, clean, operating condition. Chainsaws (and other tools) should always be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Electric chainsaws are not recommended for this type of clean up as the power cords can easily get caught in branches, fall into puddles or other sources of moisture, or arc at the connection of the extension cord. If you absolutely must you an electric chainsaw, please use the utmost caution and awareness with regards to the power source.

Another consideration for your equipment is size/power of the equipment as compared with the task at hand. Make sure that you are using tools that are built for the size of the task you are undertaking. If you think that your personal equipment is not up to standards, it is far better to wait and borrow the proper equipment, than to potentially injure yourself or others by pushing the equipment past its intended

As we said, safety should always be a top priority. Proper safety equipment such as goggles, gloves, and appropriate footwear will help to prevent unnecessary injury. Ensure that other people, children, and pets are clear of any area before you begin cutting trees or branches. Many emergency room visits that arise from storm clean-up efforts could be avoided with simple safety measures.

When the obvious and visible dangers are handled, it is time to consider unseen dangers. Super Storm Sandy resulted in many downed power lines. Even if your neighborhood is lacking power, assume that all power lines are live and charged and DO NOT approach or try to move them. Power can back-feed into lines from generators and other sources. Underground electrical cables for yard lighting, etc., also need to be taken into consideration. Make sure you are fully aware of any cables that might be under the ground before you dig in your yard. If needed you can contact your power and cable companies for this information.

Lastly, and possibly most difficult, try not to over-exert yourself. Emotions and adrenaline can run high in these situations, and over-working yourself in your clean up efforts can lead to additional exhaustion, stress, and even illness or injury due to lack of attention. Even if you want to get everything done remember, it’s better to rest and tackle it again when you’re up to it, than to push yourself to the point of not being able to work at all. You can’t get much accomplished from a hospital bed.

Check back tomorrow for information about damage to your home, and how to handle it.

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