Oh My…. What do I Do Next?


         We usually pick a subject for this column that is topical for the season and events. The problem this time is that there are a bunch of choices. The news has been filled with home health and safety stories ranging from “After the Flood” to Zika.


        Instead of describing why something is an issue, how to recognize the issue and then solve the problem, we are just going to jump to what to do to fix the problems. By the way, if you go to www.PittsburghMoldTesting.com, you will find a full story for each of the topics we will mention here. That site is where House to Home articles are posted.


After the Flood or Other Water Has Leaked into the Home

         This can be gutter ice dam leaks, roof leaks or foundation leaks. The quicker the home is dried, the less damage occurs to the materials and contents. Drying the home quickly can avoid mold. Avoiding mold growth with a quick dry down can save thousands of dollars and lots of grief. There are restoration companies that specialize in drying out homes with the proper equipment. If this is not an option, go to the website at the end of this article for tips on how a homeowner can start the drying process.


No Heat” in a Home    

         This is a problem when utilities are off for an extended time or the heating system fails. Turn off the water main for the home and open every spigot to drain as much water as possible from all pipes. Pour RV (non-toxic) antifreeze into commodes and sink traps. Depending upon the reason for “no heat”, call your HVAC person or find alternate heat methods. The process of begging for help goes much easier if you have had the heating system regularly maintained by a professional that already considers you a customer. You do not want your call to start with the sentence “you do not know who I am.” Have your heating system annually serviced by a reputable company to increase that chance of having it fixed when it breaks.    


Frozen Pipes

          Shut off valves to an area of frozen pipes if just a part of a home is frozen. If the whole house is frozen, turn off the main valve for the house. If the pipes have burst in the pipe section before the shutoff valve, have the service shut off at the street. The goal is to avoid water leaking into the home from pipes when they begin to thaw.


        Open all of the valves to drain down water as the pipes thaw. Even if the traps and fixtures are frozen, adding RV antifreeze may reduce the damage to fixtures. If you do not have antifreeze, add salt to try to reduce the amount of freeze damage. The salt will not know it is in a commode as opposed to on your sidewalk and will melt the ice.


The House Smells like Mold after the Water Event

         When mold is the result of a water leak or event, quickly addressing the issue can avoid damage to materials and the spread of mold into contents and furnishings. This is different than mold from long term moisture problems which may require extensive remediation. A treatment such as an enzyme treatment system can save money I the long run. A current list of good treatment systems and contractors is at the website below.


Selecting A Professional to Work on Your Home

         The internet has changed almost everything. One thing that it has not changed is that references from trusted friends and associates are the best source for referrals.

The professional web based listing services are in business to make money, not do a free service. They make money from the advertising dollars of the listed professionals.  In some of these listings there is a review of the contractor’s reputation, in others “not so much.” Position on almost all of the sites is dependent upon advertising payment. Understand that the first company may be the worst on the list.

        If using a list on the internet, check the company for certifications. Then check the certifying agency to make sure they actually have the certification. Check the PA State Attorney website. In a high portion of consumer complaints, the contractors provided a contractor’s license number that was a fake or expired.


Talking with an Insurance Adjuster

            Keep in the very front of your mind that their perspective is to get the claim finished.  Check out the contractor they send or refer even if they are on “the list” of approved contractors. When there is high demand for contractors, they may bring in poor quality contractors to get the claim resolved at as low a cost as possible.

Some companies will not deal with the underlying causes that lead to the claim. It is in your best interest to have those items addressed before repairs are made to avoid reoccurrence of the problem.


You Have an Empty House

            When nobody is home, the heat can go out or the house stripped of plumbing pipes and nobody know until after the damage is done. An alarm system can avoid a lot of problems for a relatively little cost. Simplisafe is one of many available systems. They have a system that includes motion sensors, low temperature, water and smoke alarms. A couple of years ago we did a story where thieves got less than $40.00 in scrap copper from a home and did over $6,000 in damage to get it. 


Zika, Mosquitos and What to Do

       You are traveling to a warm area or looking ahead to mosquito season where you live.  

In order to protect from birth defects, we must take every possible precaution to interrupt the process of mosquitoes infecting people with the Zika virus.

·         Wear light covered, loose fitting clothing that covers as much skin as possible

·         Apply insect repellant using safe products and methods

·         Remove any items that contain standing water from the area

·         Use screens in windows and air conditioning in sealed homes where possible

·         Conduct a barrier spray program. Treating the grounds for a special event like a wedding
or   pool party may meet your needs.