Posts Tagged ‘home safety’

How to Get Rid of Mold Yourself and Why to Hire a Pro

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

mold contractorWhen you think of mold, you may think of a household nuisance, something that creates a musty odor in your shower. You can easily remove small areas of mold with a spray bottle of bleach and some paper towels. But mold can destroy building materials and create miserable health problems for those encountering hidden colonies or scattered spores. Just like water damage or smoke damage, mold remediation requires a professional touch. Here are five reasons why:

Your problem may be too big to do it yourself

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends homeowners handle any moldy area less than 10 square feet by themselves. However, that's the equivalent of a square a bit more than 3 feet 3 inches on each side. A small roof leak might provide that sort of area before you notice, but most serious sources of water damage—flooded basement, storm damage, burst pipes, etc.—can easily cause a far larger mold infestation.

If you have mold, you probably have structural damage

Some mold infestations are due to excess humidity in the home or poor ventilation. But in cases where mold grows after water pours into your home or business, mold may not even be your main problem. Water itself is an emergency. If mold is growing on or in drywall, insulation, flooring or ceilings, they can be structurally compromised, especially if it's been more than 24 hours since they became wet. It could be necessary to remove and replace these materials for safety.

The health effects can be serious

Mold can cause serious health problems up to and including fungal lung infections or poisoning from mycotoxins, but a far more common response to mold spores is a simple allergic reactions. These reactions can range from irritated skin and eyes to a runny nose, sinus problems, hoarseness and throat irritation, headaches, wheezing or chronic coughing and sneezing. Mold can also trigger migraines and asthma attacks. It's essential that all the mold is removed as quickly and completely as possible, especially if anyone who spends time in the building is allergic, asthmatic or has a weakened immune system. Bringing in a mold removal specialist ensures it will be completely gone on the first pass.

Killing surface mold is not enough

The Centers for Disease Control recommend donning proper gear (rubber boots, rubber gloves, goggles, dust mask) and cleaning moldy items with a bleach and water mixture. But to guarantee safety, mold needs to be removed completely. Allergic reactions and asthma attacks can be caused by dead mold as easily as live mold. On top of that, mold often grows through or inside building materials and fabrics, so killing the visible mold on the surface leaves the rest of the colony free to grow, destroy more materials and spread more mold spores into the air. It may be some time before you're aware of the full extent of the mold infestation, even when you assume the problem is solved. True mold remediation—like true water damage repair—requires the full removal or restoration of all damaged materials. A surface treatment can't accomplish that, but mold removal experts with the best training and equipment available can.

Peace of mind is worth its weight in gold

Wondering whether there's mold lurking in your home or facility, continuing to cause damage day in and day out isn't going to help your stress level, or help you return things to normal after a disaster. To have peace of mind, you need certainty, and unless you can be absolutely sure you've found and dealt with every place where excess moisture has given mold a chance to grow, you won't have that. Bringing in a professional mold remediation contractor will not only give you peace of mind, it may be covered (or required!) by your insurance carrier. Professional mold contractors will work with your insurance adjuster to carefully document the extent of the damage and what items need to be replaced. For all but the smallest mold infestations, bringing in professionals is the common sense, zero stress solution to get you back to normal as soon as possible. LDR Cleaning and Restoration is one of the premier restoration companies in Rockford, Illinois and Southern Wisconsin. LDR provides restoration services from water damage, mold removal, fire damage restoration, storm and hail damage repair for commercial and residential properties. Capable of handling any size loss and working with all types of insurance providers, the LDR disaster team is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. Click here to contact LDR, or call 1-888-874-7066. Image courtesy of stockimages / Free eBook shows how to make a home disaster plan  


6 Common Sense Tips for Mold Removal and Prevention

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

mold intruderMold is one of the most common consequences of water damage in American homes and businesses, and one of the most insidious. It can damage parts of your home while lurking unnoticed for weeks or months. Worse, it can cause health problems ranging from allergies and infections to asthma attacks. Some molds even excrete a type of poison called "mycotoxin." The good news? Mold removal, indeed preventing the growth of mold in the first place, is a relatively simple process. Here are some tips to beat that sneaky little intruder: Keep water away from your foundation Though they're cool compared to the rest of your house, a wet basement can a great environment for mold growth, so preventing seepage is key to prevent mold in your basement. Here are a few places to check for water seepage:
  • Check and clean your gutters regularly. Clogged gutters almost always deposit water against the foundation of the building.
  • Watch out for other conditions, which can leave water pooling against the foundation such as sloping ground such as leaky faucets or misdirected sprinklers.
  • Check the drip pans and drain lines on any air conditioning units.
  • Check out our recent blog for a full set of tips to prevent water damage in your home.
Watch for condensation Another source of water which mold can use is condensation, especially from pipes. Again, this can be a significant problem in your basement, because of the relatively cool temperature. Use a dehumidifier to prevent condensation on all surfaces and pipe insulation to deal with condensation on your basement plumbing. Pay special attention to areas where a pipe moves from one environment to another, such as passing through a wall. If you're not careful, condensation can drip undetected from the pipe inside the wall. When water does get in, move quickly to dry it out Mold can easily establish itself and grow within 24 to 48 hours, possibly creating a long-term health concern. If you notice a leak, clean up the water as soon as you can, within the first 24 hours if at all possible. Remove and dispose of items (especially fabric items), which have been damaged unless you can dry them completely. Quick water damage repair goes beyond mold removal. When structural materials like drywall and flooring are left wet too long, they can be compromised and will need to be removed and replaced by professionals, greatly increasing your cost and inconvenience. Keep your house ventilated If air is being circulated—and more specifically, if moist air is sent outside—mold spores will find it difficult to gain a foothold. Any time you're introducing moisture into the air of a room inside your home (by cooking, washing dishes, taking a shower, etc.) make sure you either have a window open or an exhaust vent moving the moist air out, or both. Keep air moving inside the home as well Fresh, dry air is mold's enemy. Look around at how your furniture is arranged. Can some items be moved apart and moved away from walls, allowing air to pass between them? Keep your interior doors open as much as possible so that air can flow between rooms. Keep the air dry We mentioned humidity in the basement, but addressing it in the rest of your home is one of the best steps you can take to prevent mold growth. Indoor humidity should be somewhere between 30 and 60 percent, and you can check it with a moisture meter available at any hardware store. It's almost impossible to eliminate mold completely, but if you follow these tips, you can keep it—and its damaging effects—to a bare minimum. LDR Cleaning and Restoration is one of the premier restoration companies in Rockford, Illinois and Southern Wisconsin. LDR provides restoration services from water damage, mold removal, fire damage restoration, storm and hail damage repair for commercial and residential properties. Capable of handling any size loss and working with all types of insurance providers, the LDR disaster team is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. Click here to contact LDR, or call 1-888-874-7066. Image courtesy of chanpipat / Save $25 on Air Duct Cleaning - Free Coupon  


10 Fireworks Safety Tips for a Happy Independence Day

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

fireworks safetyIn the United States, the Fourth of July is a weekend full of friends, family, cookouts, and FIREWORKS! Fireworks can be very dangerous if they aren’t handled properly, thus turning a weekend of fun into a possible disaster. If you are planning to use fireworks, keep the following safety tips in mind:
  1. Use fireworks outdoors only.
  2. Obey local laws - if fireworks are illegal where you live, do not use them.
  3. Always have water close by - a garden hose, bucket of water, etc.
  4. Use fireworks only as intended – don’t try to alter them or combine them in any way.
  5. Never attempt to relight a “dud” firework - wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  6. Use common sense – Spectators should keep a safe distance from the shooter, and safety glasses are highly recommended for anyone lighting fireworks.  Fireworks have been known to backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction.  Never throw or point fireworks and someone, even if done in jest.
  7. Keep your pets or other animals in mind - animals have sensitive ears and the noise and lights of fireworks can often frighten or stress animals.  Keep them inside if possible.  Also pick up any remaining debris at the conclusion of your fireworks.
  8. Alcohol and fireworks do NOT mix - have a designated “shooter.”
  9. Only persons over the age of 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers of any type – When lit, sparklers can get six times as hot as a pan of cooking oil, or 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
  10. Use in a clear, open area and make sure the area overhead is also clear of obstructions – Watch out for dry grass, brush or any other type of flammable items that could catch fire, like your home or garage.
Fireworks by the numbers:
  • 30,100 - estimated number of fires caused by fireworks each year
  • 7,000 - estimated number of injuries caused by fireworks each year
  • $34 million – amount of direct property loss caused by fireworks each year
Sources:  National Fire Protection Association, Consumer Product Safety Commission, and National Council on Fireworks Safety. Image courtesy of nixxphotography / Download your free home disaster planning eBook


Should You Stay or Should You Go? 4 Home Disaster Planning Tips

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

disaster planning at homeWhere is the safest place to be during a disaster? The answer is, it depends on the type of emergency situation you find yourself in. You'll either be safest by staying in your home or by getting far away from it very quickly. In either case it’s important to prepare for both options.

Shelter at Home

Your home shelter in some cases can be your entire house, but you should choose a particular room to deal with certain situations, such as tornadoes. Basements are an ideal location to shelter during severe weather. The below ground location is best for riding out tornados or severe winds. In any case, your shelter should be a strong interior room with as few windows and doors as possible. Move your emergency supplies into the room, and don't forget the battery-powered radio. Your home emergency kit should contain what you need to remain in your home for three or more days. The Department of Homeland Security has recommended these items:
  • Water—At least one gallon per person per day in sealed plastic containers
  • Food—Non-perishable foods that won't need to be cooked. Canned foods, nuts, dried fruit, peanut butter and granola bars are ideal
  • A manual can opener
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Flashlights
  • Extra batteries for both
  • Sanitation or "baby" wipes
  • Soap
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Garbage bags
  • Warm clothes for winter storms
  • First-aid kit
  • Local map
  • Utility and/or pocket knives
  • Plastic sheeting (preferably precut)
  • Duct tape
  • Dust masks or cotton t-shirt to filter dust
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Whistle—To signal for help
  • Entertainment items—Books, paper, pens, crayons, cards, etc.
  • Family communication list
Special items: Make sure you include diapers, baby food, medications and medical equipment, pet food, etc.

Sheltering Away from Home

In certain disasters such as a house fire or fallen tree where your home could be damaged, it may be necessary to leave your home. Your getaway bag should be a smaller version of your home kit. It should be pre-packed in a sturdy duffle-type bag and stored in a place where it can be accessed quickly. You will need smaller quantities of most items, because you will be moving to a shelter or pre-selected evacuation site. Make sure you also include some cash, important personal information (such as medical insurance numbers) and a sleeping bag or blankets. Consider carefully what you will need, and if in doubt, put it in the bag. It is better to find you didn't need something (or even discard it) than discover you left it at home. Image courtesy of artur84 / Download your free home disaster planning eBook  


7 Disaster Planning Steps You Can Take at Home

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

planning for disasterIn many ways, creating the family disaster plan is the most important part of your preparations. If you know what options you have in a dangerous situation and have made some of the choices ahead of time, you won't panic and all of you will be moving in the same direction. Each plan will be unique, just like the family that makes it. Here are some tips for constructing your emergency preparedness plan: Plan with your family. Call a family meeting and involve everyone in the process. The more involved they are, the more likely they are to provide good ideas or notice gaps in the plan. Plan for each type of disaster. Consider each calamity you may have to deal with. Begin with fire. Plan your escape routes, where your meeting place will be when you get out of the house and how you will get there. Move on to disasters that will require you to remain in your home, such as a tornado, and those that may require evacuation, such as flooding. Choose what room or rooms will be best for a shelter at home and what routes and methods you will take if you have to leave. Decide where you will seek medical attention if necessary, and how you will deal with injuries if medical personnel aren't immediately available. Plan for wherever you will be. Some members of your household may be at school, work or other sites away from the home. Be sure you discuss how you will handle being separated, and make sure you know what the disaster plans at those locations are so you can adapt your family plan accordingly. Plan in writing. Write down the basics of your plan. This will not only aid memory, it will make it available for you to review periodically. Make a list of emergency supplies. Plan to be flexible. The basics of your plan should be firm, but leave room for changing conditions and common sense. Surprises should allow you to change your mind, not derail you. Plan for special needs and special skills. Account for any family members who will need extra assistance or special items. Know who will help them and how you will attend to their needs. If you have medical training, trade skills or language skills you can use to help yourselves or your community, consider how you will put them into practice. Consider taking courses in first aid and CPR. Plan to communicate. A family communication plan is crucial. No matter how bad things are, being able to locate your loved ones will be a major stress reliever, save time and perhaps save a life. The good news? It only takes three simple steps:
  1. List each person's name, important personal information (such as allergies and medical conditions), email address and cell phone number.
  2. List the workplaces, schools and other places they frequent. Each listing should have an address, main phone number, the separate extension of your loved one if they have one, and the location that the school or business will evacuate to in a disaster.
  3. Add the contact information for a person out of town you can all contact (see sidebar) as well as a place you can meet in your neighborhood and a place you can meet in the region if your neighborhood is in danger. Add the police non-emergency phone number, the numbers of your doctors, pharmacist, religious leaders, insurance companies, restoration company and veterinarian and/or kennel. Include the address of Safe and Well (, a website where you can post a message letting friends and family know you're OK.
Give a copy of this list to each member of the family. Keep one in an easily accessible spot in your home and place one in each of your emergency kits. Give one to a trusted neighbor or friend in case of fire. Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / Free eBook shows how to make a home disaster plan  


What’s Not Covered by Your Homeowner’s Insurance May Surprise You

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

homeowners insuranceWhen buying a homeowner’s insurance policy, look carefully at the wording -- what you don’t see could end up biting you. Here are four major items to verify with your agent when buying or updating your homeowner’s insurance policy:
  1. Flood Damage. Most homeowner’s insurance policies do not automatically cover damage from what is usually called “surface water.” If you live in a high-risk area, you probably were required by your bank to purchase flood insurance with your homeowner’s policy. But because standard policies are written with the “average” homeowner in mind, you can only get coverage for flood damage if you purchase it separately. If you are not required to purchase flood insurance but live in an area that’s even at moderate risk for flooding, seriously consider adding flood insurance to your homeowner’s policy. The extra insurance could cost you as much as $500 per year, depending on what flood zone your home is in – but compare to a $100,000 loss from flood damage, it’s money well spent.
  2. Motorized vehicles. People might assume that if a car or motorcycle is destroyed while parked in a garage that burns down, the homeowner’s policy automatically covers it. Not so – if a vehicle is used on a roadway, it may not be covered. A four-wheeler that’s not used for home maintenance may not be covered. Your boat might not even be covered. Check with your insurance agent and parse the find print of your policy – if you haven’t already done so. Certain items might be covered under your auto insurance policy, but make sure you know what is covered, and what the coverage is.
  3. Personal items. That $10,000 stamp collection you have tucked away in 14 carefully catalogued albums probably is not covered by your homeowner’s policy -- even if, in general, your personal belongings are. That’s because costly items such as jewelry, firearms and collections typically are subject to sub-limits – a $500 or $1,000 standard limit on coverage within the total amount (say, $100,000 worth) of personal belongings that the policy covers. Check to see which items in your house are subject to those sub-limits. If you want those items covered by insurance, they also need to have a separate policy or rider covering them, for which you pay an extra premium.
  4. Lost items. If a personal item, such as a camera or an expensive purse, is stolen or destroyed in a storm or fire, you are covered for the value for that item above your deductible. However, if you simply lose that item out of forgetfulness, what is sometimes derisively called the “stupidity clause” kicks in. In short, tough luck.
For a rundown of helpful hints, check out this free Consumers’ Guide to Home Insurance from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Other helpful websites: Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee / Free eBook shows how to make a home disaster plan  


Dirty air ducts and allergies: Nothing to sneeze at

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

allergy air duct cleaningEyes are itchy and watery? Can't walk outside without constant sneezing? Popping allergy pills like Pez? Aaa-choo. Yep, it's allergy season. In fact, it’s estimated that more than 35 million Americans have allergies—and that number continues to climb. But while allergy sufferers battle their symptoms with antihistamines and immunizations, they may be overlooking a practically invisible culprit lurking indoors: allergens. According to the American Academy of Allergy & Asthma Immunology, over half of all homes contain at least six detectable allergens such as dust mites, pet dander and molds. Not coincidentally, a recent study by the EPA suggests that people are more likely to get sick from pollution inside the home or office than outdoors. As spring (what many consider the worst allergy season) approaches, air duct cleaning is a common-sense option to consider. Air duct cleaning is the removal of dirt from the surfaces of the duct system in your home or business, with the goal of minimizing the levels of allergy-aggravating particles in the air. The EPA advises that if you or someone in your household or work environment is experiencing signs of allergy, consult a doctor, of course. In addition, consider air duct cleaning if:
  • The surface of your ducts (or other components of your heating and cooling system) have a substantial amount of visible mold on them.
  • You suspect rodents, insects or other vermin are infecting your ducts.
  • Your ducts are clogged with dust and debris.
  • Dust or debris is being released into your home through your registers.
Yes, point #2 mentioned vermin...and as unpleasant as this thought may be, it’s true that much of the dust found in ducts is composed of the hair, droppings and skeletons of mice, cockroaches and other creepy creatures. Cockroaches are common in urban areas, and rodents in cold regions often sneak inside seeking warmth. Even fastidious housekeepers are shocked at what the pros can find in their ducts! Speaking of professional air duct cleaners, here are a few tips on selecting them. First, make sure they are legitimate and can accurately provide the services they offer. Check their credentials and ask for references. Improper or careless use of a vacuum collection system, for example, can actually release more allergens into your space and cause costly damage to your ducts or HVAC system. Finally, ask if chemical biocides or sealants will be used, as these methods are only appropriate under specific circumstances. Spring cleaning is in full force. So do your homework now to determine whether your air ducts could use a good cleaning and locate a trusted specialist to do the job right. Your family, friends or coworkers will breathe a sigh of relief this allergy season! LDR Construction Services, Inc. Cleaning & Restoration has proudly served all of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin since 1991. LDR specializes in the complete repair of fire, smoke, wind, water and vandalism damage to both commercial and residential properties. Capable of handling any size loss and working with all types of insurance providers, the LDR disaster team is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. For more information, visit or call 1-888-874-7066. Photo by brookenovak. Save $25 on Air Duct Cleaning - Free Coupon  


3 Spring Cleaning Tips to Prevent a Flooded Basement

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

leaves in gutterIt’s that time of year, and in case you’ve just had too much on your plate to get around to spring cleaning around the yard, just remember one thing – leave the leaves. All those oak and maple and birch leaves that fell last fall – the ones you didn’t quite rake out of the bushes or scoop out of the gutters – can cause more trouble than just being an eyesore.

Unclog the gutters

Ensuring good water flow away from your home is probably the top mandate of any spring-cleaning yard job. So if you don’t have screens over your gutters, you should definitely invest the time necessary to clear old leaves out of your gutters and downspouts, no matter how clear you think they are. The work you do on your gutters can actually save problems with your foundation, even prevent water from seeping into your basement. “If your downspouts are plugged, water's going to come over the edge of the roof or overflow the gutter and just come down along the foundation,” says Bob Alexander, foreman with Feste and Co., Inc., a landscape service provider in Byron, Ill. “And if you have issues with your foundation leaking, it's just going to go right down through there. That would be the main issue in terms of water control.”

Clean the shrubs

Even after you’ve cleared out the gutters, the tedious work isn’t over. Now you should look to the health of your shrubs, evergreen and deciduous. The reason? Those palmate leaves form a wet blanket over the root bases of those shrubs and provide a perfect breeding platform for molds and other pests that can damage the plants that create a big part of your home’s curbside appeal. “The important thing is to get them out from underneath the evergreens, like junipers and ewes, and one of the reasons why is that you want to get good airflow underneath them,” Alexander says. “If you're trying to spruce up your yard for spring, it just looks better to get all the leaves out of there. And with dogwoods and viburnums and larger shrubs, down inside where the roots come up out of the ground, it's good to clean them out of there because it doesn't stay wet in there.” That’s especially important for viburnums, which often get attacked by borers. Clearing the leaves out gives the insects one less place to lay their eggs and kill your plants.

Keep good bed lines

In addition to leaves, clearing grass out of your flower beds will also help to ensure that your plants remain healthy and get the nutrients they needs. For flower beds, reestablish the bed line by cutting down 2 or 3 inches into the soil along the line you want and then scoop out the area of the flower bed where your lawn has invaded. Maintaining the bed line is especially important in areas where you have planted groundcover plants such as dichondra or vinca.  The groundcover plants make it especially difficult to remove the grass without damaging the groundcover, too. All in all, maintaining good water flow away from your house and maintaining the health of your landscaping not only gets your yard gets off to a good start this spring, it can help prevent basement flooding. Free eBook shows how to make a home disaster plan  


Riding the Storm Out: How to Stay Safe in Severe Weather

Monday, April 29th, 2013

april showersWeather wise, most of us can agree it was a long, unpredictable winter. But with spring temperatures finally here—by the way, you’re on probation, Punxsutawney Phil—we’ve had more than our fill of April showers…with more yet to come. And unfortunately, some are guaranteed to take a turn for the dangerous. In 2011, severe thunderstorms (including tornado events) cost $25.9 billion in insured losses—more than double the previous record—and $46.6 billion in economic losses, according to risk management group Munich Re. It was also the deadliest thunderstorm season in over 75 years, with 553 direct fatalities. To learn more about losses due to natural disasters, download our free publication Tradition, Technology and Taking Risks: Five Modern Tips for Marketing Your Insurance Business. At any given moment, about 2,000 thunderstorms can be moving over the face of the earth. Even though most severe storms last less than 30 minutes, some form long-lasting squall lines or expand into mighty super cells that can spawn tornadoes. In general, the dangers of thunderstorms include strong winds, heavy rain, hail, flooding, and of course lightning. So, how should you prepare to ride out the storm and stay safe when spring showers turn ugly? Since spring weather conditions can change rapidly, it’s important to keep up with the forecasts via weather updates on your smart phone, alerts on your desktop at work, or simply switching on the TV or radio when you have a free minute. A severe thunderstorm watch means unsafe storm activity is possible in your area, so plan your day accordingly. A storm warning, on the other hand, means stop what you’re doing and take cover now. If you’re outdoors and a strong storm catches you by surprise, stay low and seek shelter as fast as possible. If you’re in a group, spread out rather than huddling together (thus making yourself a larger target). Don’t get close to trees, metal objects or water. Finally, use your head: Feeling your hair stand on end is a sign that lightning will strike any second; drop to your knees and crouch down versus laying flat on the ground. Should a severe storm strike while traveling in your car, pull onto the shoulder and turn on your emergency flashers. Again, keep your distance from tall trees and, surprisingly, highway underpasses that can flood or become clogged with other vehicles or debris. Remain inside the car but avoid touching metal objects whenever possible. Once it seems safe to resume driving, avoid roads that are covered by water; shallow-looking spots can be deceiving and may stall or sweep away a vehicle. Being indoors during a severe thunderstorm may be the best case scenario, but there are still plenty of precautions to heed, starting with staying off the phone or using any electrical equipment. Common sense will tell you to also stay out of the shower or bath during unstable weather to avoid electrocution. Unplugging computers and appliances is another smart move—and speaking of moves, move away from windows and hunker down with your flashlight in a sturdy interior room. By familiarizing yourself ahead of time with these simple tips, you’ve increased your odds of staying safe in the event of threatening thunderstorms. Now, bring on those May flowers! Sources: Insurance Information Institute (; Weather LDR Construction Services, Inc. Cleaning & Restoration has proudly served all of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin since 1991. LDR specializes in the complete repair of fire, smoke, wind, water and vandalism damage to both commercial and residential properties. Capable of handling any size loss and working with all types of insurance providers, the LDR disaster team is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. For more information, visit or call 1-888-874-7066. Free Disaster Planning Checklist  


3 Tips for Cleaning up After Wind Damage

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

wind damageNow that winter snows are melting across the Midwest, homeowners unfortunately have other messes to think about with the approach of storm season. When thunderstorms, tornadoes or the rare but long lasting windstorms called derechos, sweep through and damage your roof or trees, don’t rely on your own wits to fix the aftermath. Instead, do what any kid would do – call for help.

Power Down

Strong winds in any wooded area inevitably knock down tree branches and even larger limbs – making after-storm cleanup all the more dangerous. Home and property owners whose trees are near overhead power lines should make sure they have cut tree limbs back at the beginning of storm season. And even though utility companies have regular tree-trimming schedules, downed limbs still cause about 30 percent of all power outages, according to Wisconsin Public Service Corp., Green Bay, Wis. If a limb should knock down an electrical line, follow a simple rule: assume the line IS HOT until it’s back on the pole. “If there’s debris down by lines, you’re going to want to make sure the utility company comes out to make sure that line is not energized,” says Lisa Prunty, public relations manager for Wisconsin Public Service. “There may be more debris if we have to cut trees to get into the area that’s affected. So then again, we would have that customer wait until we know that that line is de-energized or back up on the pole where it should be.” In preparation for high winds, WPS also advises people to stow anything that could blow into the air and into a power transformer -- lawn furniture, even Mylar balloons.

Fiddling on the roof

Before storms hit, make sure edging and tiles on your roof aren’t loose or drooping. High winds can grab loose tiles and fixtures in a heartbeat and peel them off like an orange rind. Should tiles or other pieces of your roof get damaged, do-it-yourselfers should inspect the carnage carefully. Water from a rainstorm can seep through damaged tiles and – depending on how long the leak has been there – ruin the plywood underneath, making a walk on the roof more dangerous. When in doubt, call a reputable roofer, preferably one that you or someone you trust knows. If you don’t know one, while you’re on the phone with your insurance company, ask an adjuster about the trusted contractors in your area that her or she uses (more on that later).

Too good to be true

What you don’t want to do is hire – much less give a deposit to – the first roofing outfit that blows into your neighborhood after the storm blows out. If your roof is damaged badly enough to require professional repair work, have that work done by somebody who really knows what to do. Beware especially of roofing crews that:
  • Don’t have a local address.
  • Have only a local P.O. box for an address.
  • Offer to fix your roof for far less than going market rates (for those, ask other local contractors or builders).
  • Can’t provide proof of bonding or insurance.
  • Can’t provide references from past jobs in the area.
Roofing crews running scams often try to talk homeowners into hiring them and paying them in a hurry. Many of them track storms on The Weather Channel or other news sources and show up amazingly quickly after the storm subsides. They may even work quickly – but they’ll often do substandard work that that will need to be replaced in a few years. Worse, many skip town before completing the job or doing any work at all. To avoid scam artists, make sure you have an insurance adjuster inspect extensive damage before you hire out any repair work. Then, find out what repair work really needs to be done and ask advice about local roofing companies. At the end of the day, doing what you can to avoid trouble before and after harsh spring storms will save you a lot of added grief – and help you enjoy the spring weather all the more. download the free Emergency Response Plan guide.  



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