Lately, we've had a lot of rain and floods in Westchester County NY. Unfortunately, this has led to water damage in many homes, especially in basements - sometimes from water seeping in and sometimes due to failure of electrical equipment (e.g. water heater, sump pumps, etc).
If you or your friends have had a flood or water damage, here are some steps you should take:
1. Call your insurance company/insurance broker to see what you are covered for. Most insurance policies will cover you for failure on electrical equipment (e.g. water heaters, sump pumps) but not for floods. "Floods" (in insurance terms) are due to water seeping in from the outside...and unless you have flood insurance (which most people in our area don't), you aren't covered. But, if the water seepage is due to sump pump failure (which sometimes happens because the sump pump couldn't handle everything...or because of power outage), you usually are covered. Report it right away...this will save you a lot of headache in the long run. Ask them what you are covered for, how much your deductible is for and for any advice (e.g. do they have someone they would recommend to help you mitigate the damage.
2. Call a restoration company, such as ServPro in Scarsdale/Mt Vernon 914-699- 5181 or Belfor in White Plains (914-798-1440 to help you with the mitigation. Not only will they help you mitigate and fix the water damage, but they will also help prevent mold damage. One of the biggest mistakes customers make is waiting and letting the water and/or dampness sit there. Mold can start to grow in 48-72 hrs...and once you have it, it becomes more expensive to fix. Not only can it affect the floors, but also the walls, so prevent it. It will be even more expensive and time consuming to fix this later.
The other mistake many people make is trying to fix it and dry it themselves (or with a handyman or GC who does not specialize in this). They may use a shop vac or something and they never fully get the dampness out...only to find 2-3 months later much bigger and costlier problems.
If your insurance covers all this, definitely call the professionals. Your insurance will cover it. There's no sense potentially putting your family's health at risk, not to mention your home and the costs you'll spend later in repair.
In addition, the restoration company is your friend. They have a vested interest in getting your home back to normal and making sure you are not out of pocket. They will work with the insurance company to make sure you are fairly reimbursed for what has happened - for the mitigation and the restoration work - and your belongings. If you need to stay somewhere else while things are being repaired, they'll work with your insurance company to help you find a hotel. Trust me, you want them on your side.
2a. Take care of whatever you can before help arrives. Sometimes, when there is a major rain storm, you are not alone in your flood. The insurance companies and restoration companies' phones are ringing off the hook and it make take them some time to get to you. You'll have to be the best judge of this. If you can see where the issue is arising and do something to prevent more water from coming in, provided it's safe, do that. Move your personal belongings before they get wet, move stuff out of the area, etc...again, provided it's safe.
If you have carpet there, you may want to try to remove it. It's the carpet pad itself that usually causes the biggest issue so the faster you (or someone) can get that up, the better off you'll be (and the less your house will smell.
3. Okay, now you're ready to replace your carpet and get things back to normal. Sometimes your restoration company will help you get everything back to normal. They will replace the flooring (and call someone like me), repair the walls, repaint, etc...basically, they are there to help you get your room(s) back to how it was before and replace "like for like." This means that you should be getting the same sort of quality that you had before...but of course if you want to change colors or styles, you can. If you would like to upgrade, you can...provided you pay the difference in the cost.
Sometimes, the insurance company gives you an estimate on the replacement value (via the insurance adjuster) and they may even cut you a check and from there you can hire whomever you want to replace the flooring. Other times, they ask you to find someone like me to provide an estimate and then they'll compensate you - sometimes before the work is done; sometimes after 0 each company works differently.
I've been brought in to provide estimates. Sometimes the one put together by the insurance company is dead on; other times, they have missed stuff, so it's usually good to have a professional flooring (or painting or handyman or whatever type of company) come in to give an estimate and validate the #'s. Usually when the insurance company has forgotten something, they will usually compensate you for that. They are not the experts and haven't always seen your home, so they may not know that floor prep is involved or furniture to be moved, etc.
If you live in Westchester NY or Fairfield CT and have had a flood, feel free to give us a call at Floor Coverings International 914-937-2950. We'd be happy to help you replace your flooring - carpet, hardwood, laminate, tile - and make sure that you are getting full replacement value. We can provide an estimate to your insurance company. We can also recommend someone who can mitigate the flood and/or other damage or even mold. Or, if all you need is a carpet cleaner, we can recommend that to you as well.
Floor Coverings International is here to help you.
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