Recent Water Damage Posts

Do you see what I see?

1/25/2017 (Permalink)

Water Damage Do you see what I see? Infrared cameras are one of the tools professional water damage mitigators use to identify wet building materials.

   There are a couple things we hear almost every time when arriving on a water damage job.

   "It's OK, everything will dry on its own."

   Or, worse . . .

   "Everything is dried up. Nothing is wet."

   With the first statement at least the property owner is acknowledging that the building materials are - or may be - wet. However they are misinformed. Building materials will not dry by themselves, at least not quickly enough. It's the reason that fully half of our business consists of mold remediation. We do mold remediation when the building materials don't in fact dry up quickly enough, and mold grows. We would love to take these customers to the current mold remediation jobs that we have ongoing at any given moment and they'll realize that, in fact, building materials don't dry by themselves quickly enough, and that is why we have to do mold remediation.

   The second comment is more concerning because the customer isn't even acknowledging and sometimes isn't willing to learn that the building materials are indeed wet.

   This is when the capabilities of a professional, experienced water damage mitigation expert can be of benefit. We at SERVPRO of Miami Beach possess the equipment that will help identify what building materials are wet and what building materials are not wet. 

   We are happy to come out to our community at any time and help a property owner know whether or not they have water damage. It isn't always obvious – many times you can't even tell a wall is wet until you start smelling nasty odors or seeing mold colonies form on the building materials. Just call us for a free consultation at (305) 532-5411, or visit us at

   The moisture detection equipment we possess allows us to identify whether or not materials are wet, and where exactly they are wet. They are allowing us to  mitigate and dry the structure quickly and precisely in a rifle-shot manner. One example is in the picture below – infrared cameras help us quickly scan an area that has come under attack by a water damage. Water is tricky and will find its own way to make it down to lower floors. In this photo we see that the water has clearly come from above down a certain vein. Only a small section of this wall was affected. This precision diagnosis allowed us to attack this small area quickly efficiently and cost-effectively, eliminating the risk of a costly and potentially harmful mold situation. 

   Ignorance is bliss. Except when it isn't. When it comes to water damage, ignorance can cause unnecessary and preventable property deterioration, which can powers financial hardships or worse yet harm to the health of building occupants.


Paying for Water Damage Mitigation: When Are You Getting Gouged?

1/4/2017 (Permalink)

Water Damage Paying for Water Damage Mitigation: When Are You Getting Gouged? After a water damage, the last thing people want to realize is that they're getting gouged on mitigation prices.

When it comes to pricing, we probably get the same types of responses most businesses get. Some customers will (do) say we are expensive.  Some will (do) say we are less than average.  Others will (do) say we are fair and just right.

The truth is, it is hard for typical customers entering the water damage industry to know if they are getting treated fairly. Most people have never had a water damage. Nor have they needed a mold remediation, and are even less likely to have purchased fire/smoke/soot cleanup services. Most people have no idea what to expect. 

The situation gets especially stressful for the consumer who doesn't have insurance. If they don't have insurance the cost for cleanup and mitigation, it's a double-whammy. Not only are they going to have to pay out-of-pocket, but they encounter the stress of wondering if they're getting treated fairly or not. That stinks. 

The rules we've established for ourselves at SERVPRO of Miami Beach when performing water damage mitigation services is to charge standard and customized rates. The reason for this is simple.  We want our staff and customers to focus on the job at hand -- getting residents and business owners back into their property. We find that once people know they will be paying from a juried price list, the fear goes away, and the comfort level rises. 

What are standard and customary rates? What exactly does that mean? 

There are two answers to this question, and they go hand-in-hand. We feel they are critically important for the customer to know so that they get treated fairly and that they have a sense of comfort that they are being treated fairly. 

The first answer has to do with the pricing system called "Xactimate." Xactimate is an estimating software of national influence that features a price list with standard and customary prices. The pricelist in this software is updated monthly for local market conditions. The prices are juried, meaning they are not made up by us.  The prices are deemed standard and customary.  Generally speaking, they are high enough to pay for competent service providers. Xactimate is the single most dominant and widely used software and price list employed by insurance carriers to pay contractors for the type of work we do.  

The second answer has to do with adhering to standards that are established by standards-setting authorities. The most prominent of these organizations is called the IICRC, the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification. This is, in our view, even more important than the individual rates we charge for services. We see and hear of so much abuse by contractors in this area.  It is disturbing.

For example the IICRC established standards that govern how much equipment mitigation contractors should reasonably place on a job.  This is critical because it is how many abusive mitigation contractors over charge and in some cases double or triple a bill versus what it really should be. The IICRC has set standards in terms of how many air movers and dehumidifiers should be placed on a water damage job. They use cubic footage, square footage, and linear footage to set the standards. For example a space with a certain amount of cubic footage may justify only one dehumidifier of a particular capacity. Many contractors will place two or three dehumidifiers in the same space even though only one is justified.

Why would the contractor place two or three times as much equipment in a space as the standards call for? Are they doing an extra good job? Truthfully, in this hypothetical case the additional dehumidifiers provide no additional benefit. If one dehumidifier bills out at $110 a day and it takes three days to dry the space, the final bill for that dehumidifier will be $330. But if the contractor places three dehumidifiers when only one was needed, we all can do the math. The bill will be $990 instead of $330. In this case the mitigation contractor violated the standards set by the IICRC as a way to squeeze more blood out of the insurance company's rock -- or your wallet, if you don't have insurance. Most times they'll get away with it because the homeowner signed a contract before the job because they were so stressed out about the inch of water on their floor. After the job, the last thing they want to do is get a lawyer and fight their mitigation contractor. They just want to get back into their business or home. The insurance carrier is experienced enough to know they're getting gouged. But they too simply want to move on and get the file off their desks. Unless it's egregious to a substantially material degree, they will probably pay the bill and move on to the next one.

There are exceptions to the rule of using Xactimate to bill out water damage jobs. For example, on larger jobs we tend to use a pricing system called "Time and Materials" (T&M). This system, too, is widely expected ad understood by adjusters who tend to work on these larger jobs. The adjusters prefer this type of system because it makes their lives easier and the bills typically come out lower.

At the end of the day, our biggest advice to consumers is to find a contractor to work on your water damage that will have an established pricing system that is fair, standard and customary.  That's what we offer at SERVPRO of Miami Beach!

It Doesn't Dry By Itself . . . Fast Enough

12/30/2016 (Permalink)

Water Damage It Doesn't Dry By Itself . . . Fast Enough This didn't dry fast enough. That's why there's mold.

Of all the things we hear, the most common is this:  "It'll dry up by itself." It's a polite way of telling us, "Thanks but no thanks, we don't need your drying mitigation services, because my house or commercial property will dry up on its own, without your mitigation services."

Sure it will.  Over time. Yep, it will dry up.

The question is, will it dry up fast enough?  Just what is "fast enough?"

Let's put it this way.  Roughly half our business is comprised of "mold remediation."  This means, a lot of times it didn't dry up fast enough.  Mold remediation is the activity we do when a water intrusion dampened building materials or contents, and mold began to grow as a result. The building materials remained wet enough, long enough, that mold began to grow, to a point that it needed to be cleaned.  Frequently it gets to a point comparable to what is seen in the attached photo. 

It doesn't dry fast enough, without proper attention.  The baseboard and wallboard in this picture remained wet for an extended period of time, creating an ideal environment for mold to grow.  Perhaps the surrounding environment was humid, preventing moisture from escaping the building materials and evaporating into the air, leaving the building materials wet for a sustained period.  Perhaps there was insulation inside the wall cavity, keeping the exterior-facing wall and baseboard wet all the while. One thing we do know, if proper attention had been given to these materials quickly enough, the materials would have dried out quickly, preventing mold growth.

Without proper service, the wall and baseboard would dry. It could be two weeks.  It could be a month. It depends on various factors. But either of those alternatives is not "fast enough."

Our recommendation is to have your building properly mitigated at the earliest possible opportunity, to prevent the microbial growth that can arise. Give us a call at (305) 532-5411 and we'll be happy to walk you through the process!

Dangers of Cleaning Up Yourself

11/30/2016 (Permalink)

Water Damage Dangers of Cleaning Up Yourself Sewage backups can cause serious health risks and should only be handled by a trained professional.

"My brother is sick -- diarrhea, vomiting, you name it.  He got it bad."

This comment came from a customer whose brother cleaned up her condo after the toilets erupted and spilled gross water into the residence. It came as no surprise to us that her brother, untrained at the profession of water damage mitigation, would get sick.

Cleaning up after a water damage is not something to be taken lightly. Water damages, even in 'clean scenarios,' should only be handled by a trained professional, for myriad reasons. This is infinitely more true after a sewage water damage.

Called "black water" by most people, sewage technically falls in a category our industry calls "Category 3."  According to the IICRC (Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification, which writes the standards for how to handle these situations, Category 3 water is "That which is highly contaminated and could cause death or serious illness if consumed by humans."

Given that description, we are glad her brother only feels sick.  Category 3 water can indeed pose serious health risks.  Sometimes it may look clear and clean, visibly absent of solids (like feces).  However Category 3 water can carry bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, Giardia, Hepatitis, and many others.

SERVPRO of Miami Beach performs mold remediation.  We definitely take seriously the impact mold can have on human health.  However, mold can hardly compare with the damage that Category 3 water can do to a person. As one expert told us, exposure to some mold for a limited period of time may make you sick.  Exposure to Category 3 water can put put you in a in a hospital . . . or a grave.

Height of Hurricane Season

8/30/2016 (Permalink)

What separates SERVPRO from competitors? In the event of a hurricane, which can bring water damage en mass throughout the South Florida region, SERVPRO franchises from across the country will descend on our area and provide services when NO ONE ELSE will be able to. No other provider in the world possesses the storm team capabilities SERVPRO does -- we proved it in Louisiana these past weeks, we proved it during Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast, and countless times in between.

When a massive regional storm happens of these magnitudes, every local provider will quickly be at capacity. Your calls to a previously loyal vendor will go unfulfilled.  SERVPRO's storm team has the power to route calls to trained technicians who will provide mitigation services in your time of need. Put this number in your cell phone -- (305) 532-5411. In the event of a major storm, we will "get you in the network."