What You Should Know About Mold

What You Should Know About Mold

Mold is a fast-growing fungus that can spread within 48 hours of water damage. In some cases, like after a flood, the need for restoration is obvious. In other cases, mold can be growing behind your walls without you noticing. Mold spores spread easily and quickly, and mold can grow almost anywhere under the right conditions: on carpet, clothing, cabinets, drywall, in your walls, or even in your ceiling. In addition to being difficult to remove, mold can also produce allergens and, in some rare cases, even toxins. Taking the necessary steps to protect your home against mold, learning to spot the signs of mold, and knowing the negative effects of mold are important to keeping you and your family safe.

PREVENTING MOLD

Dry Wet Areas Immediately

  • Depending on conditions, mold growth can occur within 48 – 72 hours of water damage. During everyday occurrences, such as spills, wet cloths, etc., make sure to dry everything up right away. Quickly fix roof leaks, old dilapidated pipes, cracks in the walls and foundations, and make sure to regularly check HVAC units for clogs
  • If you experience a large loss, such as a flood, burst pipe, flooded basement, etc., call a restoration company immediately.

Monitor Humidity in Your Home

  • The EPA recommends keeping humidity in your home between 30% and 60%. You can measure humidity with a moisture reader purchased from a hardware store.

Keep House Well Ventilated

  • Even simple, daily activities can lead to mold growth – cooking, taking a shower, or doing the laundry can facilitate mold growth if the room is not properly vented. Make sure to vent moisture-producing appliances, such as dryers and stoves, to the outside of the house, not the attic.
  • Mold needs moisture to grow and, as the air temperature drops, air is less able to hold moisture. Keeping your A/C on and/or running a dehumidifier during hot/humid days can help prevent mold growth.
  • Improving airflow in your house can also prevent excess moisture from condensing on your walls, windows, and floors. To increase circulation, open doors between rooms, move furniture away from walls, open closet doors, and open windows.

Identify Problem Areas in Your Home

  • The best way to do this is to do an audit of your home. Do you notice frequent condensation on your window? Is there a water stain on your ceiling? Are there often wet spots in your basement? Looking for signs of moisture in your home will help you identify the places most susceptible to mold growth.
  • Once something is wet, fixing it may be as simple as throwing out wet furniture or ripping up wet carpet. Or it may require major mitigation and reconstruction. Either way, it is very important to fix it immediately.

Direct Water Away from Your Home

  • If the ground around your home isn’t sloped away from the foundation, water may collect there and seep into your basement or crawlspace. It can even compromise the integrity of the foundation over time.

Check Gutters

  • Clogged or broken gutters can lead to roof leaks, which can cause mold growth in your ceiling. Have your roof and gutters inspected and cleaned regularly. Keep an eye out for water stains after heavy rain fall, as they can indicate a leak.

SIDE EFFECTS OF MOLD EXPOSURE

  • Foggy thoughts and temporary memory loss, loss of focus, headaches
  • Weakness of muscles and exhaustion
  • Joint pain, nerve pain, random muscle pains
  • Tingling of numbness in the body
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Coughing or shortness of breath
  • Slight tremors of the body
  • Change in appetite, diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal pains
  • Irregular body temperatures changing at random intervals
  • Increased urination and higher intake of liquids

 

MYCOTOXINS

What are mycotoxins?

  • Mycotoxins are chemicals released by fungi and they are toxic to both humans and pets. They are not required for mold to grow, since most mold will not produce mycotoxins, but they act as a kind of defense mechanism and allow mold to more easily infect a host.
  • Short term symptoms of mycotoxin exposure include headaches, muscle pain, nerve pain, night sweats, difficulty breathing, fatigue, confusion, vision changes, and disorientation. Long term effects of mycotoxin exposure include poor kidney function, liver necrosis, lung hemorrhage, gastrointestinal ulcers, and seizures.
  • Mycotoxins can harm any organism that competes with the mold for space and nutrition, which can include other mold. If you have various molds competing, mycotoxin production may increase. Although most molds won’t produce mycotoxins, the best way to avoid them is to prevent and get rid of any mold growth.

SIGNS OF MOLD

Watery or Stinging Eyes

  • Many people have allergies to mold. If you are consistently experiencing itchy/watery eyes, coughing, and/or nasal congestion, there may be mold in your house.

Tingling Skin

  • If you’re allergic to mycotoxins, you can experience tingling, itching, or burning sensations when you come into contact with mold.

Paint Bubbling

  • Bubbling paint is a sign of moisture build up. It is important to fix the underlying problem before repainting.

Odd Smelling Chimney

  • Moisture can build up in the porous bricks and mortar in a chimney and mold growth can produce a musty smell. Rusty chimney caps or damaged flashing can let rain and snow seep in.

Bathroom Exhaust Fan isn’t Working

  • Exhaust fans can get clogged and, if it’s still steamy five to ten minutes after you get out of the shower, your fan isn’t circulating enough air. The bathroom is one of the rooms most susceptible to mold, so it is imperative to fix a faulty bathroom fan immediately.

Even if the water damage to your home may not seem significant, it is important to use a qualified restoration company to bring your home back to pre-loss condition. Trying to fix a major mold problem in your home on your own is not only generally ineffective, it can also be dangerous. Any cleaning a homeowner does is usually only at the surface level, leaving potentially harmful mold, bacteria, and toxins beneath your floors or in your walls. This can lead to bigger and more costly damages down the line.

 

 

Mental and Physical Effects of a Disaster – And How the Right Restoration Company Can Help

Any natural disaster is devastating for those who must endure them. Hurricanes, floods, tornados, fires, and other disasters can wreak havoc on your health, home, and livelihood. Surviving these types of disasters are life changing and stressful enough, but what about after the event? In all the chaos and confusion that happens after a loss, what are the smaller things you need to look out for? What kind of mental and physical risks are there for you and your family? And how can you best get your life back on track?

According to Tulane University, “mental health problems rank among the most widespread long-term effects of natural disasters.” Yet, mental health is easy to overlook in the face of losing your property and working to have it restored. Many people suffer from grief, shock, anxiety, or depression after a disaster. The disruption of a daily routine and the loss of cherished possessions can be hard to deal with on top of the chaos and confusion that accompanies a disaster. Some common feelings associated with experiencing a traumatic event are shock, disbelief, fear, sadness, helplessness, guilt, anger, and shame. These types of feelings are normal, but lasting psychological effects can occur if there isn’t a return to normalcy.

These types of mental trauma can also express themselves in a physical way. Physical responses are completely normal and can include trembling, pounding heart, rapid breathing, lump in throat. So, it’s important to get the restoration help you need right away.

In addition to these mental problems, there are significant risks to physical health after a disaster. Your home can be compromised by unsanitary and potentially hazardous conditions. Ruptured gas lines, mold growth, vermin infestation, and stagnant water containing bacteria are just a few of the safety hazards that can affect your home. Take a look at this list of the side effects of mold exposure.

  • Foggy thoughts and temporary memory loss, loss of focus, headaches
  • Exhaustion and Muscle Weakness
  • Joint pain, constant nerve pain, random muscle pains
  • Tingling and numbness in the body
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Coughing or shortness of breath
  • Slight body tremors
  • Change in appetite, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain
  • Metallic taste in the mouth
  • Dehydration, decreased urination

Even if the damages to your home do not seem significant, it is important to use a qualified restoration company to bring your home back to pre-loss condition. Trying to fix damages to your home on your own is not only generally ineffective, it can also be dangerous. Any cleaning a homeowner does is usually only at the surface level, leaving potentially harmful mold and bacteria beneath your floors or in your walls. This can lead to bigger and more costly damages down the line.

Those who have suffered a loss might not understand the whirling emotions, frustrations, and feelings of hopelessness that are common during the restoration process. The knowledge, equipment, and manpower that comes with a restoration company can restore your property to its pre-loss condition much quicker and more effectively than any homeowner.

Safety is one of the major advantages to hiring a restoration company. Even minor issues can turn into large ones; things that don’t seem important, like a little mold or soot, can become health hazards for you and your family. With their expertise, restoration companies can get your life back to normal. Using a professional company means things can move along quickly and still be done to the highest standard of care.

In addition to this, restoration companies can help you to fully understand your insurance coverage. Insurance policies are often difficult to understand and interpret, especially in the wake of disaster. A professional disaster restoration company works with insurance companies every day, so they are best equipped to help you through the process of dealing with insurance agents and claims adjusters.

Regency DRT is the Company for All Your Restoration Needs

  • We Do It All
    • Regency DRT specializes in full-service disaster restoration, providing a one-stop-shop for our clients.
  • There When You Need Us
    • Disasters don’t rest, and neither do we. Regency offers 24-hour emergency response. No matter the time of day or night, a team is prepared to immediately respond to your property emergency.
  • We Work with All Insurance Companies
    • Regency has extensive experience working with insurance companies and claims adjusters on property insurance claims. We will work directly with your insurance company and coordinate everything from our initial response until your property is restored to pre-loss condition. Our objective is to make this process as smooth as possible for you.
  • We Provide the Highest Quality of Service
    • Regency DRT was founded on the belief that a restoration company should provide superior quality of service to their customers while maintaining the industry’s highest standards. We pride ourselves in our extensive training and knowledge of restoration services. When choosing Regency DRT, you can rest assured knowing you will be receiving the best restoration services available.
  • We Can Handle Losses of All Sizes
    • We can quickly respond to any disaster with the necessary amount of equipment, resources, and staff for the unique needs of your job, whether it’s a single residential loss, large loss, or area-wide disaster
  • We Are Committed to Customer Satisfaction
    • Regency DRT is confident that we can meet and even exceed customer expectations. To guarantee the highest level of service, we constantly monitor our work and immediately correct any area that does not meet our strict set of standards. In addition to this, we encourage customer communication and use your input to continuously improve our level of services provided to you. Our ultimate mission is to leave a smile on your face, happy and satisfied about the work performed in your home. 

 

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How to Respond to Water Damage Like a Pro

Although water is essential for life, too much of it in the wrong places can be devastating. We at Regency DRT know how water damage can be both financially and emotionally draining, especially when not taken care of properly. Since most homeowners don’t deal with water damage on a regular basis, they don’t have a good grasp on how to respond. Follow the guide below to learn how to begin water damage restoration in your Panama City home.

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    1. Act quickly. If the stress of water damage doesn’t motivate you to act quickly, the possibility of mold might. Mold can begin to develop within 24-48 hours of exposure to moisture. Say hello to airborne spores and harmful particles! Since mold has been linked to serious illness, be sure to act quickly whenever water damage is suspected. 
    2. Stop the flow of water. Assuming it’s safe to proceed, shut off the water supply leading to the damaged area. If you can’t tell where the water is coming from, get in touch with an expert immediately. 
    3. Turn off the power. For small cases of water damage, this step can be skipped. However, when water has saturated walls and floors, it’s better to be cautious. Don’t unplug or switch off electrical appliances when in contact with water. Some homeowners have fallen into the “It won’t happen to me” trap and gotten injured. Stay safe and smart. 
    4. Assess the damage. Before you or a professional water damage restoration company begins remediation, take stock of the damage. Write down exactly what looks damaged and the source of the damage. Use your phone to snap pictures of visible signs of the damage. This photographic evidence can help you in filing an insurance claim and can offer your restoration company more guidance on the source of the problem. 
    5. Salvage your most valuable possessions. Again, this step should only be done if the area is safe to enter. If you can, locate and remove your most important items from the damaged area. If your items are severely damaged, many restoration companies offer content restoration services. Content restoration is a process of individualized restoration to specific items and is ideal for homeowners with a wide variety of possessions that have been damaged. Contact our team for more information on this service.
    6. Prepare the area. To prepare the affected area for full restoration, dry up visible water. Place old towels on the ground and sop up as much water as possible. Standing water is devastating to a home’s structural integrity and can compound water damage into more costly restoration projects. 
    7. Contact a professional. Unfortunately, many do-it-yourself restoration projects fall flat. With limited knowledge and equipment on the process of water damage restoration, homeowners usually only scratch the surface of remediation. Warped flooring returns and moldy smells become more apparent. Panama Beach is no stranger to water damage. Whether you’ve experienced major flooding or just a subtle leak, contact Regency DRT for your restoration needs. 

 

 

 

 

A graphic showing hurricane season probability and numbers of named storms.

2019 Hurricane Outlook

As of May 23, the NOAA is predicting a “near-normal” Atlantic hurricane season this year, with a total of 9-15 named storms and 2-4 major hurricanes. A storm is named once it reaches sustained speeds of 39 -73 mph. Their outlook forecasts a 40% chance of a near-normal season, a 30% chance of an above-normal season, and a 30% chance of a below-normal season. The official findings below are provided by the NOAA with a 70% confidence.

 

(Image: NOAA)

This prediction is developed as a reflection of competing climate factors, such as the ongoing El Niño: which is expected to persist and suppress the intensity of any storms this hurricane season. Climate patterns that are expected to counter the effects of El Niño are the expected warmer-than-average sea-surface temperatures in the Atlantic and an enhanced African Monsoon. Both climate patterns favor increased hurricane activity.

In a report issued by CSU on June 4, researchers stated a slight increase in their forecast from early April. They estimate that “2019 will have about 6 hurricanes (average is 6.4), 14 named storms (average is 12.1), 55 named storm days (average is 59.4), 20 hurricane days (average is 24.2), 2 major (Category 3,4, or 5) hurricanes (average is 2.7) and 5 major hurricane days (average is 6.2). These numbers also include Subtropical Strom Andrea, which formed in May.

A graphic showing 2019 Atlantic tropical cyclone names selected by the World Meteorological Organization.

(Image: NOAA)

Keep in mind that it is impossible to predict hurricane activity with 100% accuracy. No matter what is predicted, you should always properly prepare for hurricane season. Having a plan that everyone in your family knows is the best way to prepare and stay safe during hurricane season. Ready.gov has an easy-to-follow guide to help you set up an emergency plan, as well as a list of supplies you should have in an emergency kit. FEMA recommends having these supplies in your kit:

  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Portable, battery-operated weather radio and extra batteries
  • First aid kit and manual
  • Emergency food and water
  • Nonelectric can opener
  • Essential medicines
  • Cash and credit cards
  • Sturdy shoes

If you have any pets, make sure you have an emergency plan for them as well. You should include current vaccination records, a week’s worth of food, water, leash, and photos in your emergency kit in case the pet is lost during the storm. Make sure they have a current identification tag on their color with your phone number and, if possible, an out-of-state contact’s phone number.

If possible, having a good insurance plan is the easiest way protect you home and belongings in the event of a catastrophe. In the case of flood insurance, there is generally a 30-day waiting period, so check into it early. Ready.gov recommends these tips for making your home hurricane ready:

  • Trim or remove damaged trees and limbs to keep them from damaging your house
  • Secure loose gutters and clear any debris/clogged areas to prevent any water damage
  • Retrofit the property to secure and reinforce the roof, windows, doors, and garage doors
  • Purchase a portable generator or install a generator for use during power outages and make sure to keep it at least 20 feet away from the house and protected from moisture

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About Regency DRT/DKI

Regency DRT/DKI is a nation-wide leader in emergency services and property restoration services with 7 offices in Florida and Michigan, including West Palm Beach, Orlando, Sunrise, Port St Lucie, Panama City, Fort Walton/Pensacola and Detroit. Regency DRT/DKI was founded on the belief that a restoration company should provide exceptional quality of services to their customers while maintaining the industry’s highest standards.

Regency DRT/DKI offers 24 Hour Emergency Response and has extensive experience in working with insurance companies and claims adjusters on property insurance claims, coordinating everything from initial response until the property is restored to pre-loss conditions. With our extensive training and knowledge of restoration services, we are able to quickly respond with the necessary amount of equipment, resources and staff for the unique needs of the job, whether it’s a single residential loss, large loss or area-wide disaster.

Regency DRT/DKI is also a proud Member of Disaster KleenUp International (DKI), North America’s largest disaster restoration contracting organization. Being a DKI member also provides us with nationwide affiliates and partners to provide nationwide coverage to our clients. Call us at 1 (888) 354-2447 or visit our website at Regencydrt.com.

After the Disaster

Insurance companies play an important role in pro- tecting individuals from a total loss when catastrophe strikes. However, in the chaos following a fire or water disaster, insurance policies can be confusing and easily misinterpreted. Despite all the turmoil and confusion, it is critical to make wise and educated decisions becuase you will be living with the results long after the confu- sion has passed and the disaster has been resolved. Your insurance policy entitles you to certain rights and certain obligations. As professional restoration contrac- tors, we believe that it is in your best interest to under- stand tha rights and options available to you. The Restoration Industry Association (RIA) has com- pleted a list of 12 questions frequently asked by policy- holders.

What action does my insurance policy require after a loss?
In addition to notifying your insurance carrier, most policies require that you take reasonable ac- tion to protect your property from further damage. If you fail to do so, your insurance may not cover any additional loss caused by your failure to pro- vide such protection.

Am I required to use the restoration company with the lowest price?
You are not required to accept the lowest bidder. Repair rates should correspond to prevailing stan- dards in your area for work of professional quality, amd you may not be forced to use the “cheapest” or “lowest price” bid.

If I have obtained adequate coverage, what should my insurance pay for? After a covered loss you are entitled to be paid the fair cost of restoring your home to its pre-dam- aged condition, minus your deductible. However, you should not expect to be paid for the repair of unrelated problems such as deterioration, pre-ex- isting damage, or code deficiencies.
Can my insurance company hire a repair firm to work on my house? Only the owner of the property can authorize a company to perform work on that property. The repair contract is between the owner and the contractor. Your insurer does not have the right to directly contract for your repairs or insist that you employ a particular restoration firm.

Must I hire a restoration company recom- mended by my insurance company?
Your insurance policy does not state that you must retain a restoration company that is referred or ap- proved by the insurance company. You are entitled to employ the services of a reputable, full licensed, and insured repair firm.

What quality of materials and workmanship am I entitled to receive?
Your insurance policy should pay for materials and workmanship that are equal to the kind and quality of your existing ones. After repairs, the proper-
ty should suffer no loss in value as a result of the damage. However, the insurance company is not obligated to improve your existing installation.

NOTE: This information is distributed for educational purposes only and is not intended to and should not be construed as providing legal advice.

How do disclosure rules affect my repairs?
Under current laws you may have to disclose past damage to any future buyers, making it essential that all evidence of damage be completely elimi- nated. Damage that has been covered up may be discovered later and raise serious problems for the prior owner.

How can I evaluate a restoration contractor?
First, ask for references to three jobs the contractor is currently working on or has recently completed. Call them. Second, check with your local Better Business Bureau for any unresolved complaints. Third, ask the contractor for credentials and associ- ation memberships that idicate professional train- ing and status in insurance repair and restoration, since this differs from ordinary home improvement or maintenance.

What should my contract include?
You are entitled to receive a detailed listing of repairs, as well as the quantities and types of materials to be used before work begins. The specifications should be a part of your contract. Don’t accept thumbnail or “repair as necessary” specifications. The possibility of hidden damage or additional charges should be fully described at the outset.

What if the insurance company and I cannot agree on the amount of the loss?
If disagreement arises between you and the insur- ance company over the amount of the loss, you are entitled to request arbitration (“appraisal”) as de- scribed in your policy. The standard homeowner’s policy spells out the procedures for appraisal with- out resorting to a lawsuit. The insurance company may also request appraisal.

Is a special license required for insurance re- pairs?
States have differing licensing requirements for home repairs. There are also local regulations and home improvement laws to be considered. Federal regulations also may apply to home repairs, such as recission notices and special requirements for asbestos, lead, and bloodborne pathogens. You are entitled to reject any contractor not in compliance with all federal, state, and local requirements for residential construction.

How long must I wait for my insurance pay- ment?
You are entitled to receive payment from the insurance company within the time specified by the policy and your state insurance regulations. Usually this is 30 to 60 days after submittal of the signed proof of loss. However, the policy also has time requirements for the policyholder. Check your policy or ask your adjuster or agent about them so that you will know what to expect.

Checklist of things to do immediately following a fire or flood:

  • Get your family some place safe and secure.
  • Contact the American Red Cross – www.redcross.org or your local chapter – they can supply temporary housing, clothing, food, medications, etc.
  • Do not re-enter the building until declared safe by an emergency management official.
  • When able to enter the premises, remove valuables such as jewelry, medication (for replacement purposes only), clothing, and important papers. Do not remove food or cosmetics.
  • Secure the building to prevent further damage from weather or vandalism – e.g., screw plywood over windows, place tarps over open roof areas.
  • Contact your insurance company.
  • Select a service provider. Be sure to check references.
  • Get a notebook to record dates and times of conversations and individuals you speak with concerning your claim.
  • Save all receipts for meals, hotels, toiletries, replacement clothing, etc.