Misery and Michigan Frostbite

January 21, 2012

It doesn’t matter how cold it gets in Michigan in January, there is always someone walking around ill-prepared for the elements. You might see her on the street with a light jacket when it’s 25 degrees out. You might see him shoveling his sidewalk without gloves. Or you might be that person we’re talking about.

At Aaron’s Restoration, we deal in disasters all the time: storms, fires, floods, etc.. But our business involves working around things that can be replaced. It may be flooring damaged by flooding, a dryer burned in a fire or a wall lost to a tree felled by a storm. But human fingers and toes aren’t easily replaced when amputation becomes necessary after frostbite.

It may seem unusual for a restoration company to be discussing a medical condition. After all, you won’t find a doctor blogging about mold remediation. But we understand the need to be comfortable in your home, your sanctuary. It’s difficult to do that when your health and well-being are affected by the impact of frigid weather on your body. Even just adding a hat that covers your ears can prevent you from losing 40% of your body heat when you’re out in these chilly conditions.

Working outside for any period of time makes it imperative to dress properly for the weather. As you’ve certainly felt recently, our temperatures have stayed below freezing quite often, and even a gentle breeze at those temperatures can produce a fierce wind chill. That’s why we make sure our crews are prepared for the weather each and every time they respond to a call.

A little bit of extra time getting dressed for our cold Michigan winter days and nights is always well worth it. It may only take an extra sixty seconds to find those thick gloves and put on a warm hat. Easy enough, right? You want to be prepared for an emergency, not become one.

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Warm Those Pipes, Michigan

January 19, 2012

As January rolls along, temperatures in Michigan are dropping even further. In fact, as daytime highs fail to climb out of the 20s, you’ll miss those warmer winter days when our highs topped 40 degrees. But while you’re dressing in layers outside or covered with an extra blanket inside, your water pipes may not feel so warm and toasty.

There are numerous ways to protect those pipes. For example, you could buy a product to insulate them. Some people recommend leaving a tap on to allow water to steadily flow through the pipes, reducing the risk of a freeze. Yet whatever option suits you best, it’s wise to address the potential problem before it becomes an actual problem.

The extended freeze makes a pipe burst more likely because the daytime temperatures don’t warm up enough to make a difference. And there is a huge difference between a few degrees. 29 is not 33.

A few days of freezing temperatures coinciding with a weekend can lead to a disaster if no one is home to tend to the pipes. A wise Michigan resident who is out of town during these particularly cold spells will contact someone to check on the house in his or her absence. An early observation of a developing problem can become a significant game changer with the right intervention.

A developing problem that gets neglected during a deep freeze can lead to widespread damage, depending on where the pipe burst occurs. It may affect flooring, furniture, walls and much more. By the time the disaster is discovered, the expense of clean-up could have doubled, tripled or worse.

Your best bet is to expect the best but prepare for the worst. That’s pretty much a smart policy to adopt in any area of your life, especially if you’re new to Michigan. Winters around here can pack a pretty cold punch.

Aaron’s Restoration is ready to handle disasters round-the-clock, during even the most chilly conditions. Whether it’s water mitigation, mold remediation, fire and smoke clean-up or virtually any other home disaster, the team of specialists at Aaron’s Restoration can return a home to its original condition quickly and expertly. Visit www.aaronsrestoration.com today or call 888-442-2766.

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MICHIGAN’S MAN-MADE DISASTERS

October 26, 2011

It happened in Grand Rapids and again in Shelby Township. It also took place in Allegan and Georgetown Township. Residents in these Michigan locations have experienced the destructive outcome of a car crash, not on the road, but in their homes. Unlike other potential threats, such as fire, flood or tornadoes, there seems to be no way to prepare for this kind of unexpected man-made disaster. The only response, barring any personal injuries, is repairing and restoring your Michigan home as quickly as possible.

DAMAGE OUTSIDE A MICHIGAN HOME

In some instances, damage to the outside of your Michigan home may be contained to the point of impact. Homeowners and property managers will want to secure the home from unwanted visitors by temporarily sealing damaged walls and windows. Foot traffic may also be directed away from the point of impact if a portion of the structure is deemed unsafe. If the incident occurs during extreme weather conditions, the home may be uninhabitable until repairs are complete.

If the exterior damage is more extensive, the home may be structurally unsound. An expert evaluation will tell you if the home is safe to live in during the repair and renovation process or if finding an alternative location is recommended.

DAMAGE INSIDE A MICHIGAN HOME

Depending on how far a vehicle enters the home, interior damage can vary greatly. In one of the Michigan incidents referenced above, the crash sparked a fire which led to more damage in the home. (Thankfully, no one was home at the time.) Typical interior damage can affect furniture, flooring, appliances, electrical systems, and more.  In some cases, damage contained to one room can allow a family to remain in the house during the repair and renovation process.

If the interior damage is more extensive—the kind that is possible when a vehicle passes through the entire house—the house will likely be deemed unlivable until the repair and renovation process is complete and the structure meets building codes once again.

INSURANCE COVERAGE

Your homeowners insurance coverage policy—and your insurance adjuster—will help you understand what your particular policy covers in regards to this type of disaster. Maintain a file of all communication with the insurance agent, and help expedite the process by documenting (in writing, photos, video) the damage to your home. Create a list of all damaged or missing items as well. Also, keep in mind, loss of use coverage in a policy may help families forced to live elsewhere during the renovation process cover any reasonable living expenses incurred.

TEMPORARY REPAIRS

Even with insurance coverage, homeowners are responsible for preventing future damage. Make immediate temporary repairs to help reduce the risk of more damages, and save receipts for reimbursement of reasonable expenses. Consider all repairs temporary until the property can be assessed by an insurance agent and a claim is processed. Avoid contracting an individual or crew to make any permanent repairs to the home before the insurance claim is complete. This is especially important as your home may draw the attention of numerous unlicensed and less-than-desirable contractors.

A TURN-KEY SOLUTION FOR MICHIGAN & OHIO

In a world of unexpected developments, choosing the right contractor is one thing that is always within your control. An optimum restoration company provides both 24-hour emergency service and comprehensive solutions for cleanup and recovery in your Michigan home. Immediate board-up service can prevent further damage to your home and your belongings. Careful assessment of the property can minimize overall expense by determining which items are salvageable. Licensed, experienced companies also understand how to work with insurance companies to minimize cost in other ways and return a home to its original condition as quickly and efficiently as possible.

When disaster strikes in Michigan or Ohio—whether it’s man-made or caused by Mother Nature—rely on the experts at Aaron’s Restoration to handle the job. Aaron’s Restoration will erase the effects of car crashes, fire, wind and water, and return your home or business to the livable or workable environment you deserve. With its sterling reputation, it’s no surprise Aaron’s Restoration has been the trusted contractor for homeowners and business owners for nearly two decades. Call 888-442-2766 or visit aaronsrestoration.com.

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Contents Restoration for Michigan, Ohio and the Upper Midwest

After a disaster at a home or business in Michigan, Ohio and the Upper Midwest, home and business owners face a challenging period. There is the disruption of routines. In the wake of a disaster, such as flooding, fire and storm damage, returning a structure and property back to a functional level takes time. Also, the property or business may be uninhabitable. But one of the biggest difficulties for an individual may be handling the reality that important belongings were damaged or destroyed.

Contents restoration aims to minimize the stress for the homeowner or business owner. These people typically have never experienced the impact of a disaster and the strong emotions that follow. By working closely and sensitively with the property owner, the restoration team can determine specific goals for the project, work quickly and efficiently, and provide an excellent value by making cost-effective decisions throughout the process.

The restoration team will identify, assess and restore or remove damaged contents. All efforts are made to salvage items at a reasonable cost, while educating property owners about the expense of restoration and cleaning compared to replacement. When it’s not cost-effective to restore a item, a recommendation to replace the item will be made.

The nature and severity of the disaster and the value of the belongings are criteria to consider at the onset of each restoration project. Items that can be repaired or restored after smoke damage, water damage or storm damage may differ. For example, some electronics and fine art may be salvaged after sustaining smoke damage but may need to be discarded after being flooded. On the flip side, certain clothing may handle flooding but not be worth cleaning after smoke damage.

Much of the restoration work of contents in a home or business does not take place on site. Items that need to be restored off-site get packed for removal, and an inventory list accompanies them to a secure storage location. When the restoration work is complete, the items are returned to the home or business.

Whether it’s due to a fire in Clinton Township or flooding in Grand Rapids, Aaron’s Restoration can provide contents restoration to property owners with 24-hour emergency service. The emergency number to call is 888-442-2766. Non-emergency calls are welcome too.

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There’s Mold in Your Michigan Apartment

October 18, 2011

As a mold remediation expert for Michigan, we often hear from homeowners who discover a mold problem which is both unsightly and unhealthy. But mold can also be a serious issue for people who don’t own their residences. These apartment building tenants, duplex occupants and others may be living with mold issues left unaddressed by landlords and management companies.

Their recourse may not be so simple. In Michigan, no state laws exist that require the clean-up or removal of mold from any indoor environment. Also, tenants will find no existing programs that address mold problems. A landlord can let a mold problem go untreated for months and is not required to report it. That means a new tenant could move into an apartment with an existing mold problem and not be aware of it at the time of signing a lease agreement.

As a sensible practice, new tenants should inspect an apartment thoroughly before signing any agreement or paying a deposit. Signs of mold may not be obvious if hidden in places such as drywall or drop ceiling tiles. Be sure to ask about a residence’s history of mold and flooding incidents that may have been caused by pipe bursts, leaky roofs and faulty appliances.

If a tenant does discover mold after moving in, it’s imperative to contact the landlord or management company at once to ask for the situation to be professionally evaluated. A tenant can even expedite the process by providing the name and contact number of Aaron’s Restoration. If the landlord refuses to accommodate the request, the tenant needs to remember that he or she has the right to expect minimum standards of safe and sanitary housing in Michigan. Consulting Michigan’s guide for Tenants and Landlords can provide some helpful information and direction in response to the situation. We have provided the link below.
http://www.mi.gov/documents/dleg/Tenants_and_Landlords_304581_7.pdf

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Upgrading During Restoration

October 13, 2011

A restoration project has a simple mission: get the home back to its original, pre-disaster condition. But that doesn’t mean the restoration work can’t coincide with other plans to upgrade and enhance a home. In fact, tying a restoration project to an upgrade can really work in a homeowner’s favor.

One advantage is using the “down time” of restoration work means not disrupting life at home a second time to handle the upgrade. In some cases, the upgrade can immediately follow the restoration. The two projects may also be in progress simultaneously with respect to each other.

As the written agreement for the restoration gets assembled, a homeowner who is interested in adding some upgrading to areas of the home should make those interests known to the contractor. Adding it afterwards can be accommodated, in some cases, but may slow down the restoration process and alter the delivery of the initial work. Working out the details in advance instead gives a homeowner a more accurate timeline for completion of the work.

Here is one way it could work to restore and upgrade at the same time. A flood causes water damage to a home, prompting the need to repair walls and replace flooring. At the same time, the homeowner now wants wider hallways and doors to allow more ease in mobility for an existing physical condition, the work can be done to meet both objectives.

Aaron’s Restoration is ready to help homeowners in Michigan return to their normal lives at home, and can help upgrade at the same time when that is a homeowner’s plan. The work need not be strictly related to barrier-free services; it could be any general contracting services we provide. Ultimately the goal is to provide a comfortable place for you to live, and extra comforts and convenience are certainly great reasons to go home every day.

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Changing Restoration Companies in the Midwest

October 5, 2011

While Aaron’s Restoration provides turnkey solutions following disasters caused by storms, fire, water and wind, we know there are times a homeowner here in the Midwest has called another restoration company first. That call may have come in the middle of the night or during a confusing and stressful time. The only goal was to get someone, anyone on the job immediately. But the homeowner may soon discover that company is providing substandard service or is working in an area where it does not have experience. Is it too late to change companies?

The answer is “no.”

If the first responder, who is handling the immediate clean-up of your home, is not providing satisfactory services, you can limit the scope of that company’s work. A poor restoration job can create an unsafe and unhealthy home for your family. Thinking long-term rather than in the heat of the moment will allow you to carefully evaluate a restoration company’s impact on your life for years to come, long after the bill is paid.

The reason you hire a restoration company immediately is to avoid secondary damage to a home, such as damage caused by smoke from a fire or the chemicals used by firefighters. The urgent tasks may also include drying out a flooded home or boarding up a home damaged by a falling tree. These steps protect the home from further damage as well as protecting your valuables. But, as a homeowner, you can restrict the first company’s work to the most urgent needs in the home while hiring a second restoration company to complete the actual restoration work.

It’s important to keep your insurance agent informed about this type of change. Your insurance agent may also have an established relationship with a restoration company that he or she may recommend, if you’re looking for one. But be sure to choose the contractor who will best complete the job of restoring your home, a company that specializes in the type of disaster your home sustained.

It’s valuable to use a restoration company that specializes in a particular type of disaster response, such as fire and smoke damage, because of the company’s awareness of and compliance with industry standards regarding that disaster. Ask the prospective contractor what standards are used to complete the work. Get the agreement in writing, and do not pay for or authorize payment for any work that is not listed in the agreement.

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Water Damage Threats Inside a Michigan Home

September 28, 2011

With flooding stories in the national news a lot lately, it’s easy to forget some other common ways a home can sustain water damage. As water remediation experts for Michigan and Ohio, Aaron’s Restoration is often called upon to remedy problems related to flooding or excessive water in a home. Many of the clean-up jobs involve a source that a homeowner did not anticipate could lead to serious trouble: an appliance.

Three appliances in particular pose a serious threat to your home, if not properly maintained. One is a water heater. Another is your dishwasher. The third is your washing machine. You may notice a dishwasher leak quickly but the other two appliances tend to be placed in a basement or a closet so they’re not visible most of the time. This means a problem could develop and not get noticed for hours or even days.

Before you need to call for service of any of these appliances, you can get familiar with recommended maintenance and troubleshooting steps listed in the owner’s manual or online. For example, a washing machine leak may be related to the hoses or connections, unless the leak is actually drain water from a backed-up standpipe. As a safety measure, install “no-burst” stainless steel mesh hoses to avoid water damage caused by bursting supply hoses. You can also install lever-type, shut-off valves that allow you to turn off the hot and cold water in between washing machine uses or anytime no one will be home for days or weeks at a time.

Your water heater needs some special attention, too. Drain it occasionally and remove any collected sediment. Make this a routine part of your home maintenance, and get immediate attention for any suspected problem that requires professional service.

Another essential step in reducing the risk of water damage is learning how to shut off water at the main or at the appliance. Once you’re comfortable with the preventative measures and ongoing maintenance duties, there is still more you can do to minimize the risk of unwanted water from your appliances. Turning your attention to your home’s drainage system can let you know if it has the capacity to handle high volumes of water moving quickly. If not, it may be time for an upgrade, especially if you live in an older home.

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Avoiding Autumn Fire Dangers

September 22, 2011

Autumn is notable for its bright colors, cooler temperatures and warmer clothing. But the season also presents some potential threats, including fire hazards. Some homeowners in Michigan and Ohio may be living with dangerous conditions that could lead to a house fire right now. Even worse, they may not even know it.

Homeowners can reduce the risk of these threats by evaluating some key areas. Start with your smoke alarms to ensure they are functioning properly. Carbon monoxide detectors are another valuable purchase. They detect a deadly build-up of the odorless gas, which can lead to immediate health effects as well as fire.

While you’re thinking “up”, consider another danger area: light fixtures. Faulty wiring and other problems can lead to a fire, if not addressed. One warning sign is an excessive amount of heat around the fixture.

Protecting yourself and your family also involves carefully cleaning the lint trap in your dryer. With an increase in laundry loads and a busier schedule, this area may get overlooked more often. A dryer fire can lead to a much larger disaster, especially if it breaks out when no one is home.

Examining all major appliances is another helpful part of this annual home review. While extending the life of an old appliance is financially wise, continuing to use an appliance, such as a water heater, that has been malfunctioning or shows signs of electrical damage is more risk than it’s worth. If you you think cannot afford a replacement, consider the expense caused by a house fire started by that problem appliance.

Vents are another important area to focus on. Venting for dryers, water heaters and furnaces are appealing places for animals to build nests. While they are dark and secure, animals may also be drawn to this type of shelter to escape the cooler weather of the season. Unfortunately the nests block the flow of hot air and other substances through the vents, and the dry materials in the nests could ignite.

Before using your furnace for the first time, it’s ideal to have it professionally serviced to ensure it’s functioning safely and properly. Uncleaned furnace filters can be a fire hazard. Another heating source, the chimney, should also be cleaned before first-time use this season. A professional chimney sweep can clean from top to bottom, ensuring no blockage along the way that could later ignite. Also, purchasing a chimney cap can keep animals an debris out. As an added safety measure, many Michigan homeowners have switched from wood-burning fireplaces to gas log systems.

As always, be sure to hire only licensed and reputable contractors for your fire prevention work. You’ll save yourself problems later, and have peace of mind knowing your family is safer at home. That’s a good feeling, especially when winter arrives and you’re spending a whole lot more time in the house.

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After the Flood: Mold Prevention Strategies

September 10, 2011

Late summer has been an active time for flooding this year. Whether it’s caused by tropical weather or regular storms, the flooding has left thousands of U.S. homes under water, at least temporarily, and forced homeowners to seek help for clean-up. In many instances, mold remediation has been or will be necessary.

As flood waters tend to drive families out, the return home is a time to act quickly to reduce the threat of mold growth. Cleaning and drying out the home is the first goal, and can be expedited by opening windows and doors and using fans and dehumidifiers. Removing water-soaked items (carpets, wallpaper, ceiling tiles) and storing them outside the home—pending your insurance claim—is a sensible next step. Items should be sorted by what will be discarded and what may be cleaned or repaired. Cleaning wet items and surfaces with detergent is another part of the initial response to prevent mold growth. Also, cleaning and disinfecting the dishwasher, and other appliances, before use is recommended.

Homeowners will want to closely examine all areas of the house for signs of mold growth—even if flooding did not occur. Homes with roof or pipe leaks and homes with excessive humidity are also susceptible to mold growth. The visual inspection should include ceiling tiles, cardboard and paper. But, keep in mind, mold contamination is not always easy to see and could be contained within interior walls and ceilings.

When working in areas potentially contaminated by mold, use of protective equipment is recommended. Protection for eyes and skin includes gloves which prevent contact with both mold and cleaning solutions. Protective clothing can help prevent the spread of mold from contaminated areas to street clothes. Respiratory protection, such as a dust mask, can help prevent a homeowner from inhaling large particles but may not be adequate for some hazardous airborne particles.

The potential health risks and complex nature of mold remediation are among the primary reasons to hire a licensed contractor to handle the the work. An experienced water damage expert will understand how to safely and comprehensively evaluate and clean a home, from its floorboards to its heating, cooling and ventilation systems. A company that also offers contents restoration will be able to advise you about whether to salvage mold-contaminated items, such as clothes or leather goods, or discard them.

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