FAQs

WATER

How long will it take my property to dry?
Drying time is determined by a combination of factors, including the location, duration and source of water, the types of building materials, the weather conditions and how quickly emergency services begin. Through consistent monitoring and evaluation of the drying process, we can determine when the drying is complete. Your carpet may feel dry to the touch, but padding and subfloors may still be wet underneath. While there are no rules to determine how long your property will take to dry, we can tell you it may take between three and five days or more, depending on the conditions.

How do I know when my property is completely dry?
Proper testing with our specialized equipment is the correct way to determine if things are completely dry. Touch alone may be a false indicator.

Will turning up the heat help dry things out?
Not necessarily. We will adjust the temperature to its optimum setting for the proper drying conditions. Please do not change the setting or shut off the HVAC system; doing so may prolong the drying process.

My wood floors are wet and buckling. Will they have to be replaced?
Wood flooring must be evaluated during the drying process. We employ specialized drying systems and dehumidifiers that enable us to create an environment where wood floors can dry more efficiently and resume their original shape. Due to the density of hardwood flooring and urethane finishes, drying may take up to three weeks or longer. If you filed a claim, your insurance adjuster will work with you to make the final decision as to whether floors will need to be refinished or replaced.

What about my wet furniture?
The extent of damage and the construction of the furniture will determine if your furniture can be restored. Your furniture must be dried before damage can be adequately assessed. Nonsalvageable furniture will be documented for you, and if any items need to be discarded, a customer release form will need to be signed.

Do I need to move out of my property during this process?
If you file an insurance claim, you may receive guidance from your insurance representative. However, this is a decision you must reach on your own. Here are several things to consider. Safety is paramount. Our equipment is as childproof as possible, but we require your supervision to make sure no children play with it. Air movers and dehumidifiers will create noise and make your property drafty for a few days. It is important that the equipment remains on, so if the noise is disruptive to you, you might want to consider an alternate place to stay.

What’s that smell?
It is not unusual to smell odors during the drying process. Increased heat and humidity can also lead to increased odors that may be coming from the drying building materials, or dormant spill and accident areas. Do not confuse these normal odors with the odor of mold. As the drying process continues and humidity levels drop, you’ll notice these odors disappearing on their own. Deodorizers are often used to minimize these effects as well.

Does everything need to be moved out during restoration?
Not usually. If items need to be moved out, we will let you know in advance.

My ceilings are wet. What needs to be done?
Our technicians will evaluate moisture content, determine the severity of the damage and may have to remove some of your ceiling for ventilation. Wet insulation can also be a hazard and may need to be removed.

Should I open the windows to help the drying process?
Opening your windows to assist the drying process is not always recommended. Outside weather conditions may vary, so the technician will determine when and if the outside air is appropriate.

Can I walk on the area during the drying process?
It is strongly suggested that you keep the traffic to a minimum. Wearing shoes is recommended for your safety.

Can my carpet be restored or will it have to be replaced?
A few reasons your carpet may not be salvageable:

  • Delamination (occurs when the backing separates from the carpet fiber)
  • Loss of adhesion (may be caused by prolonged exposure to water or age of the carpet)
  • Permanent stains
  • Carpet covers wood flooring (to salvage the wood flooring)
  • Sewage contamination

Why does my specialty floor need to be removed?
Nonporous flooring can trap water and prevent it from drying properly.

Why did the technician leave wet carpet on my stairs?
Carpet on the stairs is generally not removed for safety reasons. Exposed tack strips or staples, especially on steps, is dangerous. However, there are situations where removing carpet from stairs is necessary to prevent damage to hardwood steps or in the case of sewage contamination. Removing tack strips is not advised, as this may damage the hardwood or the subfloor. Extreme caution must be used whenever the tack strip is exposed or when the carpeted stairs are damp. If carpet left on the stairs is unsalvageable, it will be removed when new carpet is installed.

How will you match my carpet pad?
A sample of your pad is brought to our office for a match. When available, an identical pad will be used. When your original pad is not available, we will provide a pad of the same quality, thickness and density. A similar pad may differ in color based upon the time it was manufactured.

What will you do with my area rugs?
Rugs are taken to our warehouse for special care. They need to be dried carefully to minimize bleeding of colors and discoloration. Your rugs will be dried, cleaned and returned.

Why are air movers and dehumidifiers used?
When water damage has occurred, water can be absorbed into the drywall (sheetrock), baseboards, subflooring, etc. Drying these surfaces requires high velocity air movers to accelerate the release of absorbed water into the air. Dehumidifiers are necessary for removing this excess moisture to help protect property and create conditions for efficient drying. Please do not turn off or move drying equipment without first calling ServiceMaster Restore.

Who is responsible for monitoring the drying equipment?
Our water damage mitigation specialists will place and monitor equipment to achieve optimal results in the shortest amount of time. Please make sure no one turns the equipment off or moves it. Please notify our office immediately if the power goes off or if the equipment turns off.

What will it cost to run the equipment?
Based on average electrical rates, it may cost about $1 per day per piece of drying equipment to operate. Actual costs can vary depending on current rates from your local electricity provider.

What about sewage contamination?
Hard-surfaces can be cleaned and sanitized. Affected items that cannot be sanitized require disposal. Porous materials such as drywall, ceiling tiles, insulation, particleboard, paneling, etc., that have been directly affected should be removed during the emergency service visit.

Who is responsible for paying for the service?
Ultimately you, the property owner, are responsible for payment. As the property owner, you will need to sign a form authorizing the work and payment. However, in most cases damage from water is covered under your homeowner’s policy.  If this is an insurance claim, ServiceMaster Restore generally collects only the deductible amount and bills the balance to your insurance provider as a service to you. If you have a large loss, your mortgage company may be included as a payee on the payment from your insurance company, and you may need to obtain a signature from them as well. If your claim is not covered or you decide not to file a claim, you will be expected to pay in full at the time of service.

FIRE

How long will the restoration process take?
Because there are many variables and many services involved in fire and smoke restoration, it is difficult to predict exactly how long the complete restoration will take. Consult with your ServiceMaster Restore Restoration Technician on the estimated dates and phases of your restoration project.

Can I clean it myself?
We suggest that you do not attempt any “do-it-yourself” cleaning methods without consulting your ServiceMaster Restore Restoration Technician. Pretesting, using the right cleaning agent for the particular item, mixing deodorizing agents with cleaning solutions and using correct dilution rates are just some of the ways a fire restoration technician expertly controls the results. Professional cleaning systems and products used by experienced, trained ServiceMaster Restore Restoration Technicians give you the best chance for complete restoration of your belongings.

What are some safety concerns?
At ServiceMaster Restore, occupant and worker safety is top priority. During the initial inspection, safety hazards are identified and addressed, including debris removal, air quality, electrical hazards, slip and trip hazards, etc. Burnt electrical cords and appliances are separated out for disposal, and questionable electrical appliances are unplugged and tagged for evaluation of safe operation. Electrical power may be turned off and kept off until evaluation by a licensed electrician.

Can I turn on my heating and air conditioning unit?
We recommend that you not turn on your furnace or air conditioning unit without clearance from the HVAC contractor.

What items do I keep in my possession?

  • Cash
  • Medications
  • Valuable Jewelry
  • Checkbooks
  • Personal Documents
  • Valuable Paintings
  • Flammables
  • Pets
  • Weapons/Ammunition
  • Gasoline Cans
  • Stamp/Coin Collections

How do I keep track of non-restorable items?
We recommend you make a list of items (including food items) deemed nonrestorable. Use a format like the sample below, or obtain a similar form from your insurance company. Make a copy for your insurance company and keep one for yourself.

Do I need to move out of my property during this process?
This is ultimately your decision. Some things you may want to consider are safety concerns, odors, electricity, noise from equipment, etc. If vacating your premises for any length of time consider the following: forward your mail to your temporary residence; stop newspaper and other deliveries; notify utility company, cable company, etc., of temporary suspension of services.

Do I need general contractors?
There are some items that may require general contractors such as drywall/painting; electrical; plumbing; roofing; framing/finish carpentry; flooring/carpet; installation of doors, windows, cabinets, post-construction cleanup, etc.

Do my belongings need to be moved away from the premises?
Depending on the source, nature and extent of the fire, it may be best to remove all belongings to a secure facility for cleaning, storage and to make room for restoration or construction. ServiceMaster Restore® will work with you and your insurance claims representative to manage this process.

Will I have access to my belongings while they are in storage?
Yes, with advance notice we can schedule time for a ServiceMaster Restore Restoration Technician to meet with you and provide access to your requested items. A service charge may apply.

What about special items? Artwork, china, heirlooms, etc.
Some high-value items require restoration by a specialist. Working with your insurance claims representative, we can help you identify these and locate a qualified restorer.

Who is responsible for paying for the service?
Ultimately you, the property owner, are responsible for payment and will need to sign a form authorizing payment for the restoration services. If this is an insurance claim, ServiceMaster Restore generally collects only the deductible (co-payment) amount from you and bills the balance to your insurance provider as a service to you. If you have a large loss, your mortgage company may be included as a payee on the payment from your insurance company, and you may need to obtain a signature from them as well. If your claim is not covered by insurance or you decide not to file a claim, you will be expected to pay in full.

MOLD

What is mold?
Mold is a microscopic fungus that is part of the natural environment and necessary for our ecosystem. While it is necessary in the outdoor world, too much mold inside a structure can be dangerous and unsanitary. Mold produces spores as part of its lifecycle, and these spores float through the air both inside and outside.

Why is mold a problem?
Many people aren’t aware that mold can cause serious structural damage to homes and businesses, which, if left undetected, can cause a property to lose value and/or require significant repairs. And if you have ever suffered from allergies, exposure to molds can often cause nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, skin irritation or even more severe reactions.

What does mold need in order to grow?
Mold needs a moist environment, temperatures above freezing and a food source, which could be leaves, paper, dirt, wood or other building materials. Mold is more likely to be found in damp, dusty spaces or areas with stagnant air.

How can I tell if I have mold?
If you see mold growth or water stains, a mold test can help identify related microbial activity. You can also look for areas where water leakage has occurred, such as roofs, pipes, ceilings or walls. Musty smells may also indicate the presence of mold.

What can I do to prevent the growth of mold in my home?
The most effective means to keep mold in check include keeping the humidity level of your home at 40–60 percent, using an air conditioner and/or dehumidifier during humid months and in damp spaces like basements, and always utilizing exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens, along with dryer vents outside your home. Lastly, if there are leaks in your roof, walls or plumbing, it is important to repair them as soon as possible.

When does mold need to be handled by a professional remediation company?
Most experts recommend a professional remediation company when elevated mold levels are detected. Remediation professionals are specially trained to isolate and treat mold-affected areas to avoid contaminating adjacent spaces.

Some molds have the reputation of being more dangerous than others. Is identifying the mold important?
Sometimes you will hear terms like “toxic mold” and “black mold” used to refer to molds. While identifying the type of fungus or mold may be interesting, it doesn’t affect the course of action. If mold is present, the CDC has strongly recommended that it be removed, no matter the type*.

*Source: “Facts about Mold and Dampness.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 18 September 2012. Web. http://www.cdc.gov/mold/dampness_facts.htm

AIR DUCT

Is air duct cleaning expensive?
The cost of the service varies and depends on factors such as where you live, how dirty your system is, how easy it is for the contractor to access the ducts and what your ducts are made of, and what material is used in the construction of the ducts. However, our expertise, training and satisfaction guarantee are built into the price of service.

How long will it take to have my air ducts cleaned?
The amount of time it takes to clean a residential HVAC system can vary depending on the complexity of the system. Once a skilled and trained technician arrives, they should be able to give you an estimate of how long it will take. For standard purposes, we ask for at least 3-5 hours to get the job done right and to your satisfaction.

Will air duct cleaning be disruptive to my family?
Your professionals at ServiceMaster Restore can schedule a time that is most convenient for your family and when most of the household is not present. Depending on the magnitude of the job, we should have your house back in normal operation in a matter of a few hours.

How often do I need to get my air ducts cleaned?
We recommend air duct cleaning every three to five years. Customers who fall in the following conditions should consider more frequent cleaning of their duct systems:

  • Pets that shed a lot
  • Recent water damage
  • Home remodeling or improvements taking place
  • Residents with asthma or allergens
  • Humid or moist environmental conditions

Do I need to do anything prior to the technician arriving for my scheduled service?
For safety, the technician should be shown where the fire extinguisher and first aid kit is located. It is best to provide them with any emergency contact information.

Duct cleaning can be noisy. It is best to do it when most family members are not present.

Clear work areas. Ask your technician how much space is needed around each air vent register and how much space they will need around the furnace and air conditioner. It is best to have these areas cleared beforehand.

Prior to cleaning, perform a walkthrough of your home to go over where protective coverings such as drop and corner guards will be placed. Also it is necessary to go over the ducts, how they will be cleaned, and the accessibility of it.

Why should I have my air ducts cleaned?

Air duct cleaning helps:

  • Reduce energy costs in your home
  • Reduce the potential for mold growth
  • Improve indoor air quality
  • Increase air circulation and flow
  • Increase your home system performance
  • Extend HVAC equipment life

Is there anything I can do to help maintain clean air ducts?
To help maintain clean air ducts, change air filters based on the manufacturer’s recommendations. Regular vacuuming will also help reduce pet dander and airborne dirt and debris.

CONTENT MANAGEMENT

Will I have access to my belongings while they are in storage?
Yes, with advance notice we can schedule time for your ServiceMaster Restore Project Manager to meet with you and provide access to your requested items.

Who is responsible for paying for the service?
Ultimately you, the property owner, are responsible for payment and will need to sign a form authorizing payment for the content management services.

If this is an insurance claim, ServiceMaster Restore generally collects only the deductible amount from you before work begins, and bills the balance to your insurance provider as a service to you. If your project is not covered by insurance or you decide not to file a claim, a payment schedule must be agreed upon prior to the start of any non-insured work.

IMPORTANT NOTE: To avoid confusion, please direct any insurance-related questions to your Insurance Agent or Claims Representative.

RECONSTRUCTION

How long will the reconstruction project take?
Because of the many variables involved, it is difficult to predict exactly how long the reconstruction project will take. Consult with your ServiceMaster Restore Project Manager on the phases of your reconstruction project and estimated completion date.

What does pre-loss condition mean?
ServiceMaster Restore is responsible for returning your home to how it was before damage occurred, or its pre-loss condition. We use materials of like kind and quality. There may be some damage that existed prior to your loss. Therefore, these damages have not been included in the scope of repairs.

At your request, ServiceMaster Restore will provide you with an estimate for any additional renovation projects, also called non-insured work.

What is non-insured work?
Any renovation project unrelated to your loss is considered non-insured work. At your request, ServiceMaster Restore will provide a separate estimate for a non-insured renovation project, and we will require separate authorization and payment terms. If non-insured work will delay the completion of an insured portion, then the situation must be discussed with your Insurance Adjuster and the ServiceMaster Restore Project Manager.

Do I need a permit?
When required, your ServiceMaster Restore Project Manager will take out the appropriate permit(s) on your behalf, identifying the ServiceMaster Restore Franchise Business as the general contractor. If applicable, permit fees are included in the estimate and are typically covered by the insurance company.

What is a code or by-law upgrade?
It is an upgrade that is made when your home’s pre-loss condition no longer meets legal building codes. Your insurance company may recognize code upgrades in the estimation process. Any questions regarding code upgrades should be directed to your Insurance Adjuster.

Will I have to be home all the time?
No, we will do our best to make sure you may go about your daily routine. For site access, you can provide a key to your Project Manager or opt for a lock box on the property.

Do my belongings need to be moved away from the premises?
Depending on the scope of work, contents may remain on location. We will take appropriate measures to securely cover and protect contents. Any construction-related dust that collects will be addressed in the post-construction cleaning.