Frequently Asked Questions
Consult with us and a restoration technician will be able to fill you in on estimated dates and phases of your restoration process. Because there are many variables and many services involved in fire and smoke restoration, it is difficult to predict how long the complete restoration process will take.
Professional cleaning systems and products used by experienced, trained restoration technicians give you the best chance for complete restoration of your belongings. We suggest that you do not attempt any do-it-yourself cleaning methods without consulting us first. Our fire restoration technicians pretest, use the right agent for the particular item, mix deodorizing agents with cleaning solutions, and use correct dilution rates to control the best results.
At ServiceMaster of Kalamazoo, occupant and worker safety is top priority. During the initial inspection, safety hazards are identified and addressed, including debris removal, air quality, electrical hazards, slip and trip hazards, etc. Burnt electrical cords and appliances are separated out for disposal, and questionable electrical appliances are unplugged and tagged for evaluation of safe operation. Electrical power may be turned off and kept off until evaluation by a licensed electrician.
We recommend that you do not turn on your furnace or air conditioning unit without clearance from the HVAC contractor.
We recommend you make a list of items (including food items) deemed non-restorable. Use a format like the sample below or download a copy of the non-restorable items sheet, or obtain a similiar items sheet from your insurance company.
- Gasoline Cans
- Personal Documents
- Valuable Jewelry
- Valuable Paintings
This is ultimately your decision. Some things you may want to consider are safety concerns, odors, electricity, noise from equipment, etc. Consider the following if you’re vacating your premises for any length of time: (1) forward your mail to your temporary residence (2) stop newspaper and other deliveries (3) notify utility company, cable company, etc., of temporary suspension of service.
There are some items that may require general contractors such as drywall/painting, electrical, plumbing, roofing, framing/finish carpentry, flooring and carpet, installation of doors, windows, cabinets, post-construction cleanup, etc.
It depends on the source and extent of the fire. It might be best to remove all belongings to secure facility for cleaning, storage and to make room for restoration or construction. ServiceMaster of Kalamazoo will work with you and your insurance claims representative to manage this process.
Yes. All we need is advance notice, and we can schedule time for a restoration technician to meet with you and provide access to your requested items. A service charge may apply.
Some higher valued items require restoration by a specialist. We will work with your insurance claims representative to help you identify these items and locate a restorer.
Ultimately, the property owner is responsible for payment and will need to sign a form authorizing payment for the restoration services. If this is an insurance claim, we generally collect only the deductible (co-payment) amount from you and bill the balance to the insurance provider. If you have a large loss, your mortgage company may be included as a payee on the payment from your insurance company, and you may need to obtain a signature from them as well. If your claim is not covered by insurance, or you decide not to file a claim, you will be expected to pay in full.
On average, 3-5 days, depending on your conditions. Drying time is determined by a combination of factors: (1)location, (2)duration, (3)source of water, (4)types of building materials, (5)weather conditions, and (6)how quickly emergency services begin. We monitor consistently during the drying process and we know when drying is complete. Sometimes, your carpet will feel dry to touch, but the padding and subflooring might be wet underneath.
We use specialized equipment to perform proper testing. Touch is a false indicator, and we rely on our equipment.
Not necessarily. We will adjust the temperature to its optimum setting for proper drying conditions. Please do not change the setting or shut off the HVAC system; doing so will prolong drying process.
If you filed a claim, your insurance adjuster will work with you to make the final decision as whether to replace or refinish your floors. Wood flooring is evaluated during the drying process. We use specialized drying systems and dehumidifiers to create an environment so the wood floors can dry efficiently and resume original shape.
Your furniture must be dried before damage can be adequately assessed. Depending on extent of damage and construction, your furniture might be able to be restored. Non-salvageable furniture will be documented for you, and if any sale items need to be discarded, a customer release form will need to be signed.
If you file an insurance claim, you may receive guidance from your insurance representative. However, this is a decision you must reach on your own. Several things to consider: (1) Safety is most important. Our equipment is as childproof as possible, but we require your supervision to make sure they don’t play with it. Air movers and dehumidifiers will create noise and make your property drafty for a few days. It is important that the equipment remains on, so if noise is disruptive to you, you might want to find a different place to stay.
It is not unusual to smell odors during the drying process. Increased heat and humidity leads to increased odors from, the drying building materials, dormant spills, and accident areas. Do not confuse these normal odors with the odor of mold. As the drying process continues and humidity levels drop, you’ll notice these odors disappearing on their own. Natural deodorizers are often used to minimize these effects as well.
Not usually. If items need to be moved out, we will let you know in advance.
Our technicians will evaluate moisture content to determine the severity of the damage. We may have to remove some of your ceiling for ventilation. Wet insulation can also be a hazard and may need to be removed.
Our technicians will determine if it’s appropriate to open them. We figure out humidity in and outside your home. Opening the windows is not always recommended because of how often and quick the weather changes.
It is strongly suggested to keep all traffic to minimum. Wearings shoes is highly important.
Here’s a few reasons your carpet may not be saved:
- Delamination (occurs when the backing separates from the carpet fiber)
- Loss of adhesion (may be caused by prolonged exposure to water or age of the carpet)
- Permanent stains
- Carpet covers wood flooring (to salvage the wood flooring)
- Sewage contamination
Nonporous flooring can trap water and prevent it from drying properly.
If carpet is left on the stairs, it is more than likely unsalvageable, and it will be removed when new carpet is installed. Carpet on the stairs is generally not removed for safety reasons. Exposed tack strips or staples is dangerous. However, there are situations where removing carpet from stairs is necessary to prevent damage to hardwood steps or because of sewage contamination. Removing tack strips is not advised, as this may damage floor or subfloor. Extreme caution must be used when tack strips are exposed.
A sample of your pad is brought to our office for a match. When available, an identical pad will be used. When your original pad is not available, we will provide a pad of the same quality, thickness, and density. A similar pad may differ in color based upon the time it was manufactured.
Rugs are taken to our warehouse for special care. They need to be dried carefully to minimize bleeding of colors and discoloration. Your rugs will be dried, cleaned, and returned.
When water damage has occurred, water can be absorbed into the drywall (sheetrock), baseboards, subflooring, etc. Drying these surfaces requires high-velocity air movers to accelerate the release of absorbed water into the air. Dehumidifiers are necessary for removing this excess moisture to help protect property and create conditions for efficient drying. Please do not turn off or more drying equipment without first calling ServiceMaster of Kalamazoo.
Our water mitigation specialists will place and monitor equipment to achieve optimal results in the shortest amount of time. Please make sure no one turns the equipment off or moves it. Please notify our office immediately if the power goes off or equipment turns off.
Based on average electrical rates, it may cost about $1.00/day per piece of drying equipment to operate. Actual costs can vary depending on current rates from local electricity provider.
Hard surfaces can be cleaned and sanitized. Affected items that cannot be sanitized require disposal. Porous materials such as drywall, ceiling tiles, insulation, particleboard, paneling, etc., that have been directly affected should be removed during the emergency service visit.
Ultimately you, the property owner, are responsible for the payment. As the property owner, you will need to sign a form authorizing the work and payment. If this is an insurance claim, ServiceMaster of Kalamazoo generally collects only the deductible amount, and then we bill the balance to your insurance provider, as a service to you. If you have a large loss, your mortgage company may be included as a payee on the payment from your insurance company, and you may need to obtain a signature from them as well. If your claim is not covered or you decide not to file a claim, you will be expected to pay in full at the time of service.
First of all, that is amazing! Contact the Hoarding Task Force or ServiceMaster of Kalamazoo. Please do not hesitate to reach out to someone no matter what the situation is. Don’t worry, chances are we have heard about situations that are much worse than yours. We also understand this may take time, so your initial contact doesn’t really have to lead anywhere. What’s important is that you reach out, even for a moment, because that is the first step and you’ve recognized an issue and now are addressing it. Keep up the good work.
Ultimately, the person hoarding needs to decide if they’re ready to be helped or not. Having compassion and giving positive support is critical. Saying things like, “It’s really dirty in here; time to clean it up,” is not being a positive support. A different thing to say might be, “There are people in Kalamazoo that help, and I would be happy to set you up to talk with someone if you ever want.” Leave it at that. Try to use your best judgment, be patient, and have a nonjudgmental attitude when you decide to bring the situation into a conversation. This process takes time and we all need to be understanding.
Every job is unique and pricing will vary in many situations. We provide free estimates and will work with you to find the needed solution. Prices may vary due to: size of home, type of items kept, amount of time, and hazards found in home.
Focus on building trust first and teaching skill sets second. While the person may get pushed beyond their original comfort zone as the cleaning advances, specialty cleaning teams are trained to identify and communicate with the customer when the cleanup becomes challenging.
Any valuables found in the home are the property of the customer. During a cleanup, finding valuables is an exciting event that we use to build confidence and momentum. Something of value (emotion or monetary) is brought to the customer immediately, and hearing about the story behind an item is an important part of the process.
Ultimately, the person living in the hoarded home has to decide if they’re ready to be helped or not. Being kind, compassionate, and nonjudgmental are the first steps. Then, willingness to contact specialists is the next step; keep in mind being patient is crucial.
Helping clean out a hoarded house can be overwhelming, and we recommend professional help. Hoarding can be a sensitive topic and a serious situation to work through. The ServiceMaster team has received specialty training, including training from extreme cleaning specialist, Matt Paxton. We use insight and techniques shared by Paxton to help those who are hoarding gain back their space and, in turn, their lives.
You should never clean out a home without the person’s knowledge, approval, and understanding. Preferably the house should be cleaned with the owner in the home, but under specific medical situations, it can be done with their input, even if they’re not present.
Timing differs for each home depending on volume, size, hazards, and more. Professional cleaners can clean a home in 3-5 days. Depending on the person who is hoarding, the process can easily be extended for several weeks.
Each job will be tailored to customer’s ability to focus and make decisions. Whether that means we work half days or full days, we’ll monitor the customer’s well-being and encourage breaks as needed.
While it is not necessary for them to physically move items, it is suggested to ask for their guidance when it comes to making decisions. After all, the more involved in the cleanup the person is, the greater chance they’ll have a positive experience and outcome.
Yes. Our team can assist with the details of donated items. Once the customer selects a preferred donation organization, our team can sort and document all items and can take them to the donation center. We can take a detailed inventory, fill out the donation receipt, and return it to the customer for tax purposes.
While we can connect the customer to partners specialized in selling specific items, our team does not personally sell the items. The sales partners will typically take a commission for selling the items, but our team does not share in any profit of sold items.
We have partners nationwide that can affordably store items, and our team can help you figure that out. However, long-term storage after a clean-out should only be used in special situations.
Animal hoarding is a reality of our business, and we understand that our customers have the best intentions for their pets. Depending on the severity of the situation, we may partner with local animal organizations to gain the healthiest and safest location for the animals.
All of our teams nationwide are licensed, bonded, and insured. You can trust that anyone entering your home from our team will be trained, trustworthy, courteous, and compassionate.
These are perfect reasons to use professional cleaners. Animal hoarding is a reality, and we understand that people usually have the best intentions for their pets. Depending on the severity of the situation, partnering with local animal organizations to gain the healthiest and safest location for the animals may be necessary. The right professional cleaners offer many services to clean and repair mold, water, fire, and smoke damage, as well as odor and hazardous materials. These services can be discussed during the cleaning evaluation and again at the end of the cleanup. Highly trained teams recognize dangerous situations, from structural issues, to mold and fecal matter, and everything in-between. After walking through the home, they will let the customer know if there are any dangerous situations and will discuss how they can best be handled. Professional cleaners should be licensed, bonded, and insured. You need to trust that anyone entering the home will be trained, trustworthy, courteous, and compassionate.