Chimney Cleaning for Fire Safety

Water Damage, Fire Damage and Smoke Damage Erode Your Chimney Over Time, Leaving Your Home Vulnerable to Disaster

It’s not fireplace season yet, but soon enough you’ll be ready to fire up the chimney and enjoy the beautiful glow and smell of fresh burning firewood with your family. Before you light up the first log, you need a thorough chimney cleaning to prevent possible home fire hazards, especially if you have prior damage from water, fire or smoke. Chimney cleaning can be complicated business, so don’t take any chances by trying to do it yourself. Do yourself a favor and schedule an inspection by a professional before the temperature drops so that you can start using your fireplace as soon as winter sets in.

How Often Should You Have Your Chimney Checked?

Fireplaces and chimneys become hot commodities during the winter, but they need special attention during the rest of the year to keep them working safely. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, chimneys should be inspected once a year at minimum to ensure structural soundness and to remove any deposits or obstructions. Any necessary chimney cleaning, repairs and restoration should be performed before using your fireplace for the first time during the cold season. Even if you don’t regularly use your chimney, you should still have it inspected for animal nesting or deterioration.

Why Should You Schedule An Annual Chimney Cleaning?

In addition to routine maintenance by a professional, you should regularly sweep your fireplace as soon as you notice sooty buildup. Acidic soot deposits can drastically shorten the lifespan of your chimney and serve as fuel in the event of a home fire. Chimneys in areas that are prone to a lot of snow and ice such as Indiana need special attention because cracks can form in the mortar as water freezes and expands. Wear and tear from water and smoke can add up over the course of a year, and it can affect the durability and efficiency of your unit. Structural repairs can take time, so you should have your chimney inspected and cleaned during the warm months before you’re tempted to light up your fireplace.

Paul Davis Provides Restoration Services in Indiana

Don’t wait for disaster to ignite. However, you can’t always prepare for unexpected disasters. If your home has suffered fire damage, contact Paul Davis today for restoration and reconstruction services.

Is Mold Hiding In Plain Sight?

What You Don’t Know Could Harm Your Home and Health

If you’re suffering from inexplicable sneezing, congestion or other common allergy symptoms, the cause may be unseen mold inside your home. Mold thrives in damp, dark places, so it should be no surprise that most mold problems go undetected. If you’ve ever had significant water damage, fire damage or smoke damage, the chances of mold living in your walls or carpet are very high. If you suspect that a fungal colony is growing in your home, you need a professional inspection right away before it inflicts lasting harm on your property and your health.

The Health Hazards of Hidden Mold

According to the CDC, allergic reactions to mold spores can trigger headaches, asthma attacks and chronic sinus complications. In worst case scenarios, mycotoxins from specific molds like stachybotrys chartarum can cause problems including depression, difficulty concentrating and even memory loss. If your symptoms are more noticeable while you’re at home but improve when you go out, it’s very possible that household mold is keeping you sick.

Signs of Hidden Mold

Mold often has a distinctive pungent, musty smell, but mold may still be present even if you can’t smell or see it. People sometimes mistake small mold growths for dirt or rust. Mold may appear black, brown, white, orange and even pink or purple when it grows behind wallpaper. Large amounts of condensation on your windows or pipes means that there is a lot of moisture in the air, which makes ideal conditions for mold growth.

The Causes of Mold

Mold needs moisture to grow, so water damage (including residual damage) provides a fertile ground for fungi. A common sign of moisture problems is discoloration of your walls, floors or ceilings. If you notice your paint or wallpaper peeling, cracking or warping, that could also be indicative of water issues. Anytime you have flooding, you should have your home inspected for mold damage as soon as possible. If you suspect mold in your home, contact Paul Davis for a consultation today.

How to Be Calm before the Storm

Preparation is Essential

When a hard storm is on the way, you need to be ready to keep your home, your family, and yourself safe. You may even need to plan ahead in case of evacuation. If you have everything you need packed in a backpack, you won’t be scrambling at the last minute to find the following necessary items.

• One or two flashlights with extra batteries
• Portable battery-powered radio
• Drinking water for each person in the family
• Nonperishable food
• Medications and prescriptions
• First aid kit
• Emergency phone numbers list
• Cash
• Personal documentation such as passport, social security cards and other important papers.

You should also have access to pictures of your home before any flooding or water damage. Most importantly, make sure everyone knows where the emergency supply kit is stored for a quick evacuation.

Protect your Home

Not only should you have a storm safety plan for your family, you should also write out a storm preparedness checklist for your home. If a severe storm is expected in your area and you are waiting for an evacuation order, you can prepare your house by:

• Shutting off gas and water mains
• Filling bathtubs with clean water
• Securing storm shutters on your windows
• Bringing in outdoor furniture and loose items from your yard.

Restoration after the Storm

If your home has been damaged by a flood or severe storm, there is help available. One important resource is the National Storm Damage Center, where you can learn how to protect yourself and your home before and after a storm. If your home has suffered damage, contact Paul Davis to begin the restoration and reconstruction process for any water damage within your home.

Flood Preparedness

Is Your Home As Ready For Summer As You Are?

Most people look forward to hot weather with great enthusiasm, but as a homeowner, summer also means you have a seasonal routine to maintain. In addition to keeping the lawn well-manicured and fighting pest incursions, you need to fortify your property against potential high water.

Even if you’re not anticipating a deluge of mythical proportions, it’s critical that you adopt a proactive stance. It doesn’t necessarily take a lot of flooding to cause serious material damage. For instance, the National Flood Insurance Program estimates that a single inch of flooding in a 1,000 square foot home could result in more than $10,000 of financial loss. Getting ready in advance is definitely worth it, so keep the following steps in mind.

Assess Your Water-Management Fixtures

Gutters and roof systems are designed to divert excess rainwater in a constructive fashion. While extensive flooding can overcome such protections, they’ll resist the flow of water longer when they’re maintained properly.

A well-cleaned system of gutters and downspouts can redirect more moisture away from your building and its foundations. Check around welded pipe joints, mounting brackets and other fixtures for leaks, rust or signs of pooled water. This could help you catch a small problem before it leads to a disaster in the middle of a serious downpour.

Poke Around Your Foundation

Flood waters don’t always enter buildings via the most obvious paths. For instance, a longstanding crack in your concrete basement wall might weaken gradually for years. Water accumulation during your next storm could exert enough pressure to weaken the existing fault in a single catastrophic burst. If you weren’t aware of the problem in advance, you’ll be in for an unpleasant surprise.

It’s vital to inspect your basement on a regular basis. Check features like sealed joints and high-stress points, such as corners, for signs of stress. One good sign of excessive moisture in the earth surrounding basements is efflorescence, or built-up powdery substances and tiny crystal deposits that occur when water evaporates through your walls and leaves behind salt and minerals.

Repair Current Damage

Finally, don’t neglect problems you already know exist. If you already experienced flooding or excessive moisture that caused damage, letting the material deficiency sit uncorrected is a prime way to leave your property vulnerable to future floods.

Take immediate action by contacting a restoration expert so that they can assess and fix the issue. This is also a good way to spot related faults that might indicate the existence of structural weak points, such as bowed basement concrete walls or warped timbers. To become better prepared for flooding or just fix existing problems, get in touch with Paul Davis right away.

Summer Fire Safety For Your Home

Five Simple Tips to Keep You Safe This Summer

Summer is finally here. It’s time to play outside, barbecue in the backyard and chill under warm evening skies. The season comes with its share of routine chores around the house too. As you gear up for lawn mowing and tree trimming, put these home fire safety tips on your must-do list, too.

1. Baby Your Grill – Without regular maintenance, your outdoor cooking station can cause serious fire damage. Keep drip pans and grates free of grease build-up that can turn open flames into dangerous flares. If your setup uses a gas tank, check lines for wear, and make sure connections are tight. Always keep kids and pets a safe distance away from the grilling action.

2. Keep Things Wet – Shrubs that shrivel under the hot summer sun are potential fire hazards. A stray spark from the grill or a carelessly tossed match can ignite flames in a dry backyard. Keep the lawn watered, replant dead areas, and cut back dry brush. Keep an eye on tree branches over your grill too. A flare-up that scorches burgers can also ignite that shady canopy overhead.

3. Keep Extinguishers Handy – When you’re cooking outdoors, always have an extinguisher within reach, and keep another one handy in the kitchen. Check the pressure gauge every month. Replace any extinguisher that shows wear on its hose or nozzle. If your extinguisher is older than 10 years, invest in a new model. It costs far less than addressing water damage and smoke damage to your home after a fire.

4. Play Safely With Fireworks – Fireworks are fun, but they can also be dangerous. Always light them a safe distance from the house, and keep them away from the kids. Don’t try to light up the sky all at once. Proceed with caution, and keep a bucket of water nearby for duds and spent fireworks.

5. Develop a Plan Now – Every home needs a solid fire evacuation plan. Get the family together, and determine multiple escape routes out of the house. Go over evacuation basics that include staying low to the floor to avoid smoke, testing door knobs for heat and using windows for exits if necessary. Identify safe routes out of the backyard too.

We want you to stay safe this summer and enjoy the season. If you’d like more ideas for home fire safety tips, contact Paul Davis today. We offer more than 20 years of professional reconstruction and restoration experience, and we’re here for you 24/7.

Renewing Your Home Inside and Out

Top Remodel Tips for Safety and Structural Integrity

Your home is one of the biggest investments that you will ever make, but keep in mind that it also provides one of life’s basic necessities: shelter. It has to withstand both freezing temperatures and sweltering summer heat. The weather might be dry one minute and pouring rain the next. Over time, weather will exact quite a toll on your home, but just like your vehicle and personal health, taking care of your home will keep it safe and sound for decades to come.

Prevention Is Key

The best defense against fires, leaks, and other accidents is prevention. When it comes to remodeling, basic construction and utilities — electrical, plumbing, heating and air, and properly sealed exterior walls — are just as important as aesthetic or functional upgrades such as new kitchen cabinetry. We understand that most people have a limited budget and a dream bathroom or kitchen in mind, but if some of your electrical outlets are sparking or a shower is slow to drain, those issues ought to be addressed before any finishing touches such as new flooring or molding are added.

Put Security Above Your Head

One of the very best structural remodels in which you can invest is a brand new roof if your current shingles are curling, the plywood sheathing sags when you walk on it, or the roof is simply at the end of its life expectancy. Roof leaks always get exponentially worse with time — water damage, mold, and rotting insulation are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to headaches you’ll encounter with rain making its way inside your home. A new roof can cost thousands of dollars, but it’s a fraction of what you could end up paying for reconstruction.

Windows of Opportunity

Leaky windows can make you uncomfortable when it’s hot, cold, or humid outside, and you’ll end up paying more for utilities, but most people don’t realize leaky windows can also make their homes more vulnerable to high winds. Some of the newest research into tornadoes and hurricanes shows homes with properly sealed windows and doors fare better than homes with porous exteriors.

Other common structural remodels include:

  • Upgrading electrical and plumbing to meet modern codes
  • Installing underground drains to channel water away from your home
  • Repairing footers and strengthening your home’s foundation

What to Do After a Fire or Flood

Fire damage often looks worse than it actually is after a small blaze. Even if your home’s studs are exposed and slightly charred, we can often save your home’s original structure, which saves you money. Smoke damage on drywall typically requires nothing more than a fresh coat of primer to seal the odor and then two top coats of paint to match your home’s existing colors.

Accidents still happen, and if you have a leak or fire in your home, first make sure that you and your family are safe. Turn off all water to your home in the case of a leak, and contact the restoration professionals at Paul Davis.

Full-Service Emergency Restoration

Experiencing a fire or weather disaster is traumatic, and the aftermath can transform even the calmest of lives into stressful chaos. Water, fire and smoke damage is often overwhelming, and structural instability or collapse may lead you to believe that your home or place of business is hopelessly lost. In most cases, this isn’t true. Experienced restoration specialist Paul Davis can quickly assess damages and put even worst case scenarios on a smart and sound path to recovery by restoring normal living conditions, managing secondary problems and helping you find your way through the confusing recovery process. Here are the steps Paul Davis takes to ensure the best possible outcome.

Paul Davis Full-Service Emergency Restoration

1. Emergency Board-Up and Structural Stabilization

As soon as you and your family are safe, stabilizing your property is an essential task. Paul Davis understands the importance of promptly boarding up windows and providing structural stabilization to prevent further destruction caused by hidden damage to framing and walls.

2. Water Damage Control

Whether it’s due to broken pipes, storm damage or fire extinguishing efforts, water infiltration can quickly deteriorate building materials and create conditions favorable to dangerous mold and mildew growth. Addressing water damage quickly can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in repair costs. Paul Davis uses industrial-grade water extractors, air movers, dehumidifiers and other professional equipment to efficiently remove water from rooms and damp materials. To prevent mold and mildew disasters, disinfectants and antimicrobial products are used to sanitize affected areas.

3. Smoke and Fire Damage Restoration

Paul Davis uses environmentally friendly methods to conduct fire and smoke damage restoration processes such as soot removal, odor elimination and air purification. All affected items including furniture and personal possessions are removed and carefully inventoried for cleaning and restoration.

4. Reconstruction Services 

Unfortunately, if severe damage has occurred, some areas of an affected building may need to be reconstructed. Paul Davis is fully qualified to conduct reconstruction and meets all state licensing and insurance requirements. A variety of reconstruction services are available for home and commercial projects.

5. Assistance With Insurance Claims

Filing insurance claims can be confusing for the average person, especially when extensive property damage has occurred. In the midst of dealing with the fallout of a disaster, the last thing you need is to be overwhelmed by a complicated claims process or unfamiliar terminology. Paul Davis will help you with the insurance claims process so that you can focus on getting other aspects of your life back to normal.

When Disaster Strikes, Paul Davis Is Here to Help

Disasters happen, but having the right people in your recovery plan greatly reduces the negative impact they have on your life and your future. Don’t let a fire, weather catastrophe or other chaotic event disrupt your peace of mind. Contact Paul Davis for a consultation today.

After the Disaster: Restore and Remodel

How An Indiana Weather Event Can Translate Into A Home Improvement

If your Fort Wayne home has been damaged by water, fire or smoke, you’ll need professional help. Home disasters are traumatic events that you shouldn’t try to fix yourself. Fortunately, home restoration specialists like Paul Davis can help you get your life back on track. The sooner you call for help, the easier it will be to correct the problem. Without prompt professional treatment, the situation will rapidly get worse.

From Home Disaster To Home Restoration To Home Improvement

Most of us have visions of what we would like to change in our homes if given the opportunity. A home disaster can be a stepping stone to making those changes. While your home is in the process of restoration, take some time to consider whether this would be a good time to implement one or more of your home remodel ideas.

Benefits Of Remodeling After A Home Disaster

Focusing on a home improvement project instead of on water damage, fire damage or smoke damage is a great way to recharge your spirit and turn your lemons into lemonade. Consider all the things you’ve been wanting to change in your Northeast Indiana home but kept putting off because of the disruption and inconvenience involved. Here are just a few good reasons to implement those home improvement ideas now instead of later:

  1. Starting a home remodel project after a disaster won’t make the chaos any worse.
  1. Upgrading your property with energy-efficient improvements can save you big money in the long run.
  2. You can perform the residential repair work you’ve been putting off without causing additional disruption.
  1. You’ll have water, flood, fire or other insurance money to work with.

Combine The Home Reconstruction Process With The Home Remodeling Process

If you decide to remodel your home after a disaster, it helps to have just one reputable contractor handling both projects. At Paul Davis, we can help you to clarify the home improvements you wish to make and to incorporate those improvements into the home restoration process. We can provide total project management services from initial consultation to finished product. We will work within your budget to turn your home improvement dream into a reality.

Why Paul Davis?

The team at Paul Davis has been helping Northeastern Indiana property owners to clean up after water damage, fire damage and smoke damage for almost 25 years. Because we are a local franchise, we have the advantage of being close to your home while also having access to the resources of over 300 Paul Davis locations nationwide.

The Paul Davis Difference 

We are experts in loss management and have been certified by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). Your home emergency will be resolved efficiently and effectively. With over 260 years of combined experience in residential and commercial property restoration, we can consistently deliver excellent results in accordance with the highest industry standards.

Want to learn more about transforming a damaged Fort Wayne residence into a new and improved home? Visit the Paul Davis homepage or contact us directly for more information.

Disaster Recovery From Inspection to Insurance Claims

What Does It Take to Complete a Successful Disaster Claim?

There are many factors that go into the insurance claim process during disaster recovery, and this can be seriously daunting for those who have just survived disasters. Fortunately, the procedure isn’t as mysterious as some policy providers might like you to believe.

Seeking insurance revolves around verifying that the damage you want to claim is worthy of compensation. In other words, the inspection is key to whether you actually receive the assistance you need.

What Does a Good Insurance Inspection Involve?

Property-damage inspections are designed to let experts take a firsthand look at the different damaged areas of your property that you’d like to be compensated for. They should also make close assessments of the building materials and components you might not know were damaged.

For instance, if your home was damaged in a fire, it makes sense to inspect the timbers around burned-out walls to ensure they can still provide safe structural support. What many homeowners miss out on, however, is the fact that inspectors also need to examine fixtures like soldered pipe joints in the vicinity, electrical wiring and nearby ductwork.

Because such components are commonly hidden, they’re easy to overlook. Anything is vulnerable to disaster damage, however, so it’s vital that everything be assessed.

Who Should Perform My Damage Inspection?

Your primary inspector must have extensive disaster remediation experience. A friend or relative may indeed be a building expert due to the fact they own a construction business, but they have no business assessing your property damage.

Restoration work commonly involves processes including damaged material removal, deep cleaning and property replacement, and rebuilding. Remediation professionals possess a greater understanding of the associated costs, so they’re more likely to help you make an accurate claim.

Remember that the claims adjuster sent by the insurance company isn’t necessarily there to help you get the coverage payout you require. Their primary function is to confirm that your claim isn’t fraudulent, so you also need an inspector who’s willing to work on behalf of your interests.

When Does My Property Need to Be Inspected?

As with most insurance interactions, inspections should be performed as soon as possible. The quicker you get someone to determine what’s actually damaged, the faster you can commence making effective repairs. Staying on the ball also gives you more leeway to negotiate with your insurers if necessary and clear up any miscommunication before you commit to a costly repair.

Another important reason to inspect early is that doing so minimizes damage and could increase the chances that your claim will go through. If your home goes a week with a gaping hole through its side, exposure to weather and the environment might spread existing damage further. By inspecting sooner rather than later, you limit such possibilities, and the lessened repair costs could make paying your claim in full seem more enticing to you policy provider. If you’re ready to jump on the process with an inspection, contact a Paul Davis specialist now.

After the Disaster: How to Deal With Insurance Claims

Seeking Payouts Doesn’t Have to Be Stressful

After a fire or other life-altering event, you may be thankful just to be in one piece. Nonetheless, it’s important to start rebuilding, and the quicker you begin, the sooner you’ll be able to resume life as normal.

While additional responsibilities are probably the last things you want to deal with at this point, restoration and reconstruction usually go better when you handle them proactively. If you’re like most homeowners in such dire straits, this probably means you’re going to have to negotiate your way through an insurance claim. Here are some key steps that might help you file for the damages and still keep your cool.

Document Everything Under the Sun

Successful insurance claims depend on accurate, extensive documentation. Remember that there’s never such a thing as submitting too much paperwork.

At some point, you may disagree with how your policy provider is handling your case. For this reason, experts say it’s vital to maintain records of all communications, including emails and calls. You’ll also want to document your new living expenses so that you can claim various unusual hardships, like the cost of having to lodge in a hotel or travel further to and from work.

Note that this is all in addition to photos of damaged property and professional restoration estimates. Make things easier on yourself by being as organized as possible.

Learn Your Policy’s Boundaries

You can save yourself a lot of heartache by finding out what your policy covers early on. For instance, if a fire damages your roof, your terms may only compensate you for an amount equal to the value of the damaged roofing prior to the blaze, and this figure might include depreciation. Understanding these differences can stop you from having to pay out of pocket for restoration work that exceeded your limits.

File Your Claim Sooner Rather Than Later

Filing early is by far the most important part of the claims process. Most policies only permit payments for those who submit claims without delay. Letting too much time elapse between the event and when you file might even cause your provider to earmark your claim for potential fraud.

If you plan on reoccupying your existing property someday, this is also the time to obtain estimates on repairs and restoration. For example, letting flood-ruined building materials sit around may allow damage to spread and result in you requiring more extensive corrective work. Since insurers are less likely to pay higher claims, controlling costs by staying on the ball could give your request better chances.

Wondering how you’ll fare during the insurance claim process? Chart out a restoration plan that eases the burden by getting in touch with Paul Davis online.