Why Choose SERVPRO?
SERVPRO provides many of the services you may need after a storm blows through your area. We provide emergency roof tarping and board-up services to help prevent additional damage from the elements and provide security to your property.
What to Do After a Storm Damages Your Home: 5 Steps to Take
If a storm damages your home, it can feel like your life is suddenly flipped upside down. You may feel overwhelmed with the destruction the storm has caused, and it can be difficult to know what to do first. But careful planning before a storm hits can help you navigate the challenging waters afterward, so you can return to normalcy as quickly as possible. So what should you do after a natural disaster? Here are 5 steps to take so you can be prepared if a storm damages your home.
1) Be careful and stay alert
The destruction and aftermath of a storm of any kind can pose serious injuries. Once you’re certain you and your household members are safe and unharmed, take the necessary precautions to avoid injuries. It’s common to come across hazards from storm damage like broken glass, exposed nails, or displaced screws, so keep an eye out. Be alert of unsecured piles of debris like caved-in roofing materials, standing water, and collapsed walls.
It’s important to always assume that downed power lines are still energized and dangerous. Stay as far away from the power lines if possible and alert the police if you find downed power lines in your neighborhood. Additionally, if you smell gas, immediately shut off any gas valves to prevent further danger.
2) Assess the damage and take photos of the storm damage
After the storm has passed and before contacting your insurance company, assess the storm damage to your home. To ensure you’re fully compensated, take pictures of any interior and exterior damage to your home. Your house could have structural damage, so always be cautious as you’re moving about your home. When you’re inspecting the interior and exterior, record any of the following:
- Roof lifting and lost shingles. Be alert of any holes or leaks in the roof, split seams, dents on vents and gutters, missing, broken, or dented shingles. You can work with an experienced roofer to find a local, reputable insurance agency.
- Missing or damaged exterior siding. Rain can cause damage to siding and strong winds can tear it right off.
- Broken windows and destroyed doors. The wind itself as well as the debris it carries can easily break windows and blow open doors.
- Damaged or broken appliances, including your air conditioner. This is commonly due to water damage.
- Basement flooding. When the soil surrounding your home becomes too saturated with water, your basement or crawl space can flood, causing damage to your belongings and the foundation of your home.
- Moisture damage. Rain and water can seep into your home and cause mold to develop in insulation, wood, furniture, and carpeting.
- Fire damage. Electrical shorts caused by downed power lines or water entering outlets and electrical equipment can cause fires.
Don’t forget to record the loss or destruction to your personal items too. Most homeowner’s insurance policies include personal property coverage up to a scheduled limit.
3) Call your insurance agent right away
After you’ve taken photos of the storm damage, call your agent as soon as possible and stay in contact until your claim is resolved. They’ll be able to explain what kinds of damage your insurance policy covers. Make sure to discuss the damage caused to your home and provide the photos you took along with proper documentation. Following this, your insurance company will send out an adjuster to determine the extent of the damage.
4) Stop further damage
Now is the time to do what you can and stop any further damage from occurring. If storm damage is allowing wind and water to get into your home, start by covering broken windows or a leaking roof with a tarp or plywood. Do what you can first to minimize further damage, then consider contacting a local restoration service provider to help you out. They can help you tackle storm damage and get your property back to normal. If you don’t know of a trusted contractor in your area, oftentimes your insurance company can help you get in contact with a reputable contractor to avoid any scams.
During this time, if your home is in poor condition, consider booking a hotel room or staying with friends and family for the time being. If your home requires extensive repair, make sure you return only when it’s safe to do so.
5) Stay organized and keep receipts
Keep good documentation for any claim to your homeowner’s insurance. For example, save all receipts for materials and labor to ensure you receive fair reimbursement.
Familiarize yourself with what your homeowner’s insurance policy covers. For example, a typical homeowners insurance policy will cover tree damage from a storm, but the biggest exception to most coverages is flood damage. Regardless of carrier, flood damage is not covered as part of a standard policy. Therefore, you’ll need flood insurance in the event that your home is damaged by a flood.
A homeowner’s insurance policy will typically cover three scenarios:
- Weather damage: This typically includes damage due to hail, wind, fire, snow, and more.
- Non-weather events: Common non-weather events are actions like theft and vandalism.
- Sudden/accidental events: This includes situations like a water pipe breaking or a water leak.
If you live in an extreme-weather area with high storm risk, speak with your agent to find out if it’s in your best interest to protect your home and belongings with storm damage or flood insurance. It’s an additional coverage you can opt for in your homeowner’s policy, but can help you after a storm damages your home
Perhaps surprisingly, window damage claims make the list of top commercial property damage claims. This type of damage can occur due to storms, high winds, or hail and doesn't necessarily involve shattered glass. Structural or seal damage to window and fenestration systems are often overlooked since they're not readily apparent. Speak with an experienced attorney to make sure you're not omitting window damage in your claim.
Storms are the most common cause of roof damage, as strong winds, down-pouring elements, flying debris, and falling trees can impact the structure of a building's roof. It's not uncommon for insurance providers to deny roof damage claims by arguing that the roof was old, that the damage was a result of normal wear and tear, that it was built from known risky materials, or that the business owner in some way caused the damage.
What To Do if You Experience Commercial Water Damage
Commercial water damage is one of the most frequent and expensive claims small businesses face. When it comes to your business and water damage, it doesn’t take much to face a costly claim. In fact, our data shows that about 75% of losses come from leaks related to:
- HVAC systems
This is why it’s important to carry commercial property insurance. Without it, you’d have to pay out of pocket to cover water damage repairs to your business’ property. If you notice commercial water damage or an issue that can lead to property loss, it’s important to take immediate action.
4 Steps To Take for Commercial Water Damage Restoration
From finding the source of water and starting the restoration process to filing a claim with your insurer, there are steps to follow that are critical to mitigate the damage.
- Identify the source of water damage. Water leaks and intrusions can happen in many places. Some common areas to check are pipes or holes in your roof or walls. You can also work with a local plumber to help identify the source.
- If necessary, shut off the water main. If you have a leaking or burst pipe, shut off the water main to prevent more damage.
- Immediately contact your insurance company. Notify your insurance company about the water damage as soon as possible. It’s a good idea to also document the damage with photos.
- Find a restoration team. You can work with your insurer to find a company specializing in commercial water damage repair. If there’s extensive damage, there may be an emergency service for water extraction or mold remediation available for your business.
Water damage describes various possible losses caused by water intruding where it will enable attack of a material or system by destructive processes such as rotting of wood, mold growth, bacteria growth, rusting of steel, swelling of composite woods, de-laminating of materials such as plywood, etc.
Can You Clean a Fire-Damaged House?
In some cases, you can clean a fire-damaged house. Even if you don’t know where to start, we have some tips that will teach you how to clean after fire damage.
The first step is taking burned debris and ash seriously. It may contain harsh chemicals that have the potential to damage your lungs. If ash touches your skin, it may leave a burn, rash, or other signs of irritation. You also want to avoid contact with your eyes to prevent permanent damage.
You do this by wearing long pants, long sleeves, an N95 mask, and protective shoes with closed toes. Cover your hands with thick gloves as well. Open all windows and doors to help air out some of the harsh chemicals and lingering smoke. If you need to take short breaks to get out in the open air in the early stages of cleaning, give yourself that time without feeling guilty.
With those protection measures in place, it’s time to get into the details of learning how to clean after fire damage.
How to Clean After Fire Damage
There are three types of damage that you may need to clean after a home fire:
- Fire damage
- Smoke damage
- Water damage
Let’s break that down into a quick checklist that will give you an overview of the cleaning process:
- Carefully remove all debris.
- Remove any standing water.
- Repair or replace anything that shows signs of water damage.
- Remove smoke particles and soot from all areas of the home.
- Clean the vents to eliminate soot and smoke particles that could damage the lungs. Make sure to turn your HVAC system off soon after the fire. You don’t want to spread those particles through your ventilation system and into other areas of the home. A thorough cleaning of the system is needed if you think that has happened.
- Throw away clothing and household items that are beyond repair or that you can’t wash. That’s an overwhelming step, but remember that most things are replaceable.
- Eliminate the smoky aroma that tends to set in after a fire.
- Purify the air to improve air quality throughout the home.
You can follow this checklist to clean up most areas of the home in the aftermath of a fire. If you find any of these tasks too difficult or you don’t have time to handle a post-fire cleanup, you may need to contact our team of experienced professionals.
How to Clean the Exterior
Before you start cleaning your home after a fire, make sure it is structurally sound. Even if you’re working on the outside first, you want to have the following checked for strength and functionality:
- Outdoor living spaces – porches, decks, etc.
You can start cleaning the exterior surfaces with a power washer. If you don’t have access to that equipment, use the stiffest brush you can find and a mixture of water and borax or another safe cleaning solution.
Cleaning exterior surfaces by hand can take a significant amount of time unless the damaged area is small. The longer the soot and ash are allowed to sit on your home, the more likely it is to cause permanent damage. You should consider renting a power washer or hiring a professional if you’re dealing with a large area of damage.
After power washing, you can clean the gutters, porch, deck, sidewalks, driveway, and windows. All of these surfaces can collect dust and other debris from even a small house fire. You can use a power washer if you have it. Consider bringing in a team of professional cleaners to get this done quickly if you don’t have the proper equipment or manpower.