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Calls have been coming in “pretty much non-stop” since the first heavy rain hit July 3, a cleaning services manager said.
REBECCA BARNETT | The Roanoke Times
Tony Dickerson (from left), Patrick Perkins and Loren Ford clean out Perkins’ basement which was flooded this week.
Thursday, July 18, 2013
As Roanoke’s water levels recede in the aftermath of this month’s record-setting rainfall, business is surging for local repair crews.
Dale Allen, general manager of the Roanoke and Lynchburg offices of Kidd’s Restoration and Cleaning Services, said the water-damage side of his business has been inundated with requests lately.
“Since the night of July 3, it’s been pretty much non-stop here. As soon as we thought we were catching up, another storm would come,” he said Wednesday. “Between Roanoke and Lynchburg, we took in as many as eight calls today. And this is days and weeks later. We’re still constantly visiting sites.”
Allen said most calls have come from homeowners with flooded basements. He said many of his clients were shocked when they discovered that their insurance policies do not cover flood damage.
“A lot of folks don’t sit down and read their policy from start to finish to know what’s covered until something like this happens. A lot of policies don’t cover groundwater,” he said.
Roanokers affected by this month’s torrential rains could face steep repair bills. Tom Millehan, owner of Rainbow International Restoration and Cleaning, said some try to fix their homes themselves to soften the blow to their wallets. Anyone who did not dry out their flooring and drywall well enough, he said, face serious mold concerns after a week of hot, humid weather .
“There are a lot of people who thought they got all the water from the July 4 storm. The house wasn’t properly dried. And now they have mold,” he said. “It’s not just the carpet you’re drying. Water gets in underneath it. And with how humid it’s been, if you’re opening up a window, you’re just letting more humid air in. So there’s even more mold.”
Allen said companies such as his send teams armed with high-tech equipment to pinpoint areas of concern.
“If there’s 4 feet of water in the basement, that’s visible. But if that’s not there, we use moisture meters that give us a quick idea on moisture content,” he said. “And there’s the thermal image camera. The temperature of the materials that got wet will be lower than the rest.”
Allen said drying out a basement is a simpler task than removing mold once it has grown. He said the least expensive job he’s seen lately was a $75 fan installation to prevent the growth of mildew in a basement with only minor damage. But costs are all over the board, he said.
“Basements are all different. It’s hard to say that your basement getting wet will cost X,” he said. “What’s the basement made out of? What’s in the basement? Is it furnished?”
Millehan said simple fixes that cost less than a couple of hundred dollars are rare.
“The low end, we’ve gone as cheap as $800. And that’s to extract water, pull pads up, pull a carpet up, spray an antimicrobial to fight mold, and install drain equipment like dehumidifiers and fans that will run for around three days. On the high end, that’s $3,000,” he said. “And if you have sewer backup and have to tear everything down to two-by-fours, that might run as high as $30,000.”
Homeowners can be proactive in defending their houses against water, said Joe Caruso, senior system designer at Evergreen Basement Systems, which offers outdoor waterproofing services like foundation drain replacement and chemical coating. Caruso said the exteriors of many older homes may not have been built to keep water out.
However, he said this kind of work can be costly, and heavy equipment pressing against the foundation of a home can create new problems. The interior waterproofing side of the business has been a more popular option in recent years, he said. It involves installing a pumping system underneath the basement floor that helps redirect groundwater.
Caruso said his company can swap out drywall with inorganic building materials more resistant to mold growth.
“Mold food is anything organic. Drywall, which is sheet rock coated in paper, is very easy for it to eat,” he said.
Caruso said inorganic materials are used mainly to fortify furnished basements. He said replacing drywall is a much more effective mold preventative than options like waterproof paint.
“If water’s built up enough to push through concrete on the outside of the house, the best coat of paint won’t stop that,” he said.
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