Water Damaged Hardwood Flooring

Many homeowners now put hardwood flooring in their homes.  It has become extremely popular and so people commonly ask if they are able to dry and save their hardwood if they have had flooding.  Hardwood can be very expensive so it would be a major blow to have to completely replace it.  Hardwood flooring may be able to be salvaged but like many items after a flood it depends on a number of factors.

When it comes to saving just about anything from water, one of the most important things to consider is the length of time the item has been wet.  The same goes for hardwood.  Wood absorbs water quickly and dries out much more slowly.  Wood is also very prone to mold growth.  The clean up process must begin as quickly as possible.  If your hardwood flooring has been wet for more than 48 hours, there is a significantly diminished chance of being able to salvage it.  Mold can begin to grow from anywhere between 48 – 72 hours. 

The severity of the water damage will certainly determine if anything can be done to prevent having to completely replace the flooring.  If the hardwood is badly warped it will have to be replaced.  There is also the possibility that the subflooring has been damaged and will need replacement.  If the water damage is not too severe, such as minor cupping, it can be okay to keep it as long as it is properly dried out.  The wood can be refinished after the drying process is complete and the moisture levels are considered normal.

The level of moisture that the wood has absorbed will be another determining factor.  Normally the hardwood can be salvaged as long as the moisture level has not gone beyond 12%.  Anything over that and there is not much that can be done.  The risk of mold growth will be too high and therefore the flooring will need to be replaced.

Also the type of wood will make a difference.  There are 3 types of hardwood flooring; strip wood, plank wood and engineered wood.  Depending on the factors discussed above, these types of wood flooring potentially can be saved.  Many people also have laminate in their homes but this flooring should not be confused with hardwood.  It consists of a few different layers including high or medium density fiberboard.  Laminate is very poor in tolerating moisture.  It will easily show signs of water damage and in most cases will need replacement.

Hiring a professional water restoration company will give you the best chance of saving your hardwood flooring.  A qualified company will have the knowledge to advise if restoring your  flooring is possible.  If so, they have the top quality professional equipment to get the job done effectively and efficiently.  Industrial fans, blowers and dehumidifiers will be used to help remove the moisture.  Depending on the situation it can take 7 to 10 days to dry.  It is also worth getting in a professional because they will monitor the moisture levels to ensure that mold growth does not become an issue.  This can end up saving you a good chunk of money.

Restoration Mate can assist you with this process as well as mitigating other damages from flooding.  Remember that especially with water damage the faster the response time, the better.  You can rely on Restoration Mate anytime. We are open 24/7!

DIY Mold Testing Kits vs Professional Mold Detection

If you suspect mold in your home you may wonder if a do-it-yourself kit is sufficient.   Mold kits are widely available over the internet and at hardware stores.  They are significantly cheaper than having a professional come in for an inspection but are they trustworthy?  The answer really is no.  These tests can often give false positives or false negatives.  They also do not provide all of the information needed or tell you the scope of the problem.

Mold is everywhere in the environment.  Spores are floating around in the air all around us.  Every home will have some type and level of mold growth occurring.  Therefore, using a DIY mold kit does not normally prove to be very helpful and are not recommended.  Usually they will determine that there are mold spores.  What is important to know is the species of mold, the location of the mold, what is causing its growth and the amount of mold growth.  Mold can often be growing in places that cannot be seen such as behind walls and underneath carpets so it is important to accurately identify the problem areas.

Mold test kits work by obtaining a small sample in a petri dish or a swab.  When using a DIY kit, you will need to send the samples away to have them analyzed at a lab in order to know what species of mold you are dealing with.   It costs additional money to do this and you will not get a straightforward answer back as to if you need mold remediation.  What you will receive back will be a scientific name for the mold species.  You would then have to rely on your own research in regards to its toxicity.  Also, when mailing in your sample you have no way of knowing how the sample was handled.  This can play a part in how accurate your results will be.  Furthermore, there is no control sample so there is nothing to compare the results to.

The better option is most definitely to have a mold remediation and removal company to come and do an assessment of your home.  Although it is pricier than a do-it-yourself mold kit, you will certainly get much more reliable and credible information on your mold situation. This information is extremely important since mold can cause many problems.  It can cause structural damage to your home and even worse can potentially cause serious health issues to those in the household.

An experienced company will be able to use professional equipment during the inspection process.  Thermal imaging and hygrometers will be used to help determine the source of the problem.  In order to learn the species of mold as well as the quantity, air testing will be done.  DIY kits cannot compare to having a full mold inspection done.

Getting in a professional company will completely take care of any mold problem that needs to be dealt with.  The cause of the mold will be rectified, a remediation plan can be established, the mold accurately analyzed and safely removed.  All areas that were affected can be treated properly to  greatly minimize chances of regrowth in the future.  Once everything has been cleaned another air test will also be done to ensure that the problem has been successfully rectified.

There are many issues with DIY mold testing kits.  Although getting the professionals in is a greater expense, you can rest assured that your mold problem is effectively taken care of and you won’t be dealing with more severe problems down the line.

Restoration Mate has many years of experience with mold and will ensure that a full and proper inspection is carried out.  We can guarantee successful and safe mold removal.  Give us a call today for a full mold inspection in Toronto and surrounding areas.

Fireplace Safety

As the cold weather approaches, not much is more comforting than sitting around a warm, glowing fire.  The warmth and the lovely smell of burning wood is something that many people enjoy and look forward to in the winter season.  However, it is important to remember that  fireplaces have their risks and need to be properly handled and maintained to ensure their safety.  Always complete a fireplace safety check at the beginning of the season and be sure to have the chimney swept out at least once a year to get rid of any soot or debris build up.

Here are some other things to check in order to keep the risk to you and your home as low as possible.

  • Cap the chimney
    • This will help to protect the flue from rain, debris and animals from entering.
    • A cap can also protect the roof by trapping embers and sparks which could begin a fire.
  • Inspect the chimney for any cracks
    • It is important to have the chimney inspected before lighting the first fire of the year.
    • If there is any sign of cracking, missing mortar or loose bricks, they should be repaired immediately.
  • Clear any overhang
    • It is a fire hazard to have tree limbs overhanging the chimney.  If you have any, they need to be cut back before using the fireplace.
    • Tree limbs may also restrict a proper air flow
  • Check for creosote buildup
    • Creosote is a byproduct of wood burning and when it travels up the chimney and mixes with cooler air it will condense and stick to the inside of the chimney.
    • Creosote is highly flammable so it is essential to have your chimney cleaned regularly to prevent a chimney fire.
  • Burn the right type of wood
    • Hardwoods are best such as birch, oak and maple.  They release less creosote than soft woods like pine and cedar.
  • Check that the damper is working properly
    • The damper should be able to open and close without issue.  Having a working damper and knowing how to use it correctly is critical to safely having fires.

It is also ideal to have a good fireplace guard.  This will prevent embers from escaping and beginning a fire.  You should be sure to keep your fire small and always build the fire towards the back of the fireplace.  Never use any kind of flammable liquids as this can be very dangerous.

 Always remember that coals from the fire can stay hot for many hours or even days after the fire has been put out so make sure that they are cooled before disposing of them.  Getting rid of them too quickly can cause them to reignite.  Last but definitely not least, it is crucial to have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home.  Frequently test them to ensure they are working and regularly change the batteries, at least twice a year.

Fireplaces are enjoyable but dangerous if not cared for and used properly.  Fires spread so quickly, the damage can be devastating and of course there is the potential loss of life.  Responsible usage and maintenance will ensure the enjoyment of your fireplace in the safest way possible.

Can A Water Damaged Carpet Be Saved?

So you have had a flood and your beautiful carpet is now soaking wet.  You are definitely wondering if there is anything that you can do to salvage it and your carpet pad.  Carpets can be expensive so of course that would be your first choice but there are a few factors that come into play that will determine if it is possible or not.

The first determining factor is the category of flood water that saturated it.  There are 3 categories of flood water that are classified by the amount of contamination in the water source.  The categories are as follows;

Category 1

This is when the flood water is from a clean source.  This can be rain water or a broken water supply line.  This type of flood water does not have contaminants.  It is drinkable water.  If this is your situation you should be able to save your carpet as well as the pad although timing does make a difference.  The carpet should not have been wet for longer than a maximum of 48 hours before the drying and restoration process.  If this time frame is surpassed, the category 1 may be changed to a category 2.

Category 2

This type of flood water is known as “greywater.”  Greywater is from sources that are not clean and drinkable water sources.  Examples can be from toilets with no solid waste, dishwashers or washing machines.  Carpets can normally be saved in this circumstance as long as the water has not been sitting for longer than 48 hours.  In the case of greywater the carpet pad will need to be replaced. 

Category 3

This category is “Blackwater.”  This flood water is very highly contaminated and can make individuals that come into contact with it extremely ill.  It may contain harmful bacteria, viruses and microorganisms.  This would include storm water, overflow from rivers or streams and sewage backup.  In this case it would not be recommended to salvage the carpet or pad and it should be discarded and replaced.

Whether the carpet and pad can be replaced can also depend on the age of carpet and its condition.  If it is an older carpet it can have many food sources that will encourage mold growth.  Carpets that are aged and not in good condition will not be worth having them cleaned.  It will make more sense to just replace them.

Whichever is the situation, it is best to hire a professional company.  Professionals will be able to assess the situation accordingly and mitigate the damages to your home.  A professional restoration company can dry out and treat your carpet in a way to greatly minimize the risk of any mold growth from occurring.

Do not waste time and risk greater repair and restoration costs. Restoration Mate is here for you in any home or business emergency such as flooding in Toronto and the GTA. 

Preventing Bathroom Mold

Bathrooms are notorious for mold.  Mold flourishes in moist, humid environments which makes bathrooms very hospitable for them.   If you can control the moisture and humidity levels in your bathroom you should be able to prevent it from growing.  Mold can grow practically anywhere in the bathroom such as caulking, grout, around windows, the ceiling and walls, shower curtain and mats.  With a few simple steps you should be able to create a mold resistant bathroom!

Since mold does so well in high humidity areas, you should tackle the humidity issue first.  Proper ventilation in your bathroom is crucial.  You should have an exhaust fan installed in your bathrooms to expel the excess humidity.  The fan should be kept running during your shower and for at least 30 minutes afterwards.  If you do not have a fan and cannot afford one right away, you can alternatively keep the window open and if you are comfortable, keep the bathroom door open to allow the humidity to escape and air to circulate.

Get rid of any excess water as soon as possible.  When you are done showering you can use a squeegee and a cloth to remove any leftover water.  Be sure to wipe down the grout and corners.  Grout, especially if it is cracked is a great place for mold to begin to grow.  Clean your tiles and grout with a shower cleaner and scrub with a brush once a week.  If you already have signs of mold growth on your grout, you should have it replaced in the near future.  Not only is the mold on the grout but it could also be growing behind it and the bathroom tiles.  If your grout is discoloured but shows no signs of mold or cracking, it should still be effective.  You can apply a grout sealer about once a year which can provide protection against mold growth.

Regularly inspect your shower curtains, mats, and towels for any signs of mold.  Any surface that gets wet is susceptible.  If you notice any dark spots on your shower curtain, you should replace it right away.  You should also often wash your shower curtains, even the plastic ones can be thrown in the washing machine.  Replace your shower curtain liners about once every 6 months to prevent mold and bacteria growth.  Bathroom mats also need to be washed frequently.  They absorb tons of moisture and can sometimes take time to fully dry out, making them a breeding ground for molds.  This applies to towels as well.  Wash them every couple of days in hot water and when reusing towels, be sure that they are hung up properly to allow them to fully dry out between uses. 

It is beneficial to allow the items in your shower to dry out after your shower.  You can use a shower caddy or remove everything from around the shower when you are finished.  Leaving loofahs and bottles around the shower allows for mold to grow under them.  Water settles underneath and cannot dry out.

Mold prevention is much easier and less expensive than removal.  By following these prevention methods, you should be able to control the mold growth in your bathroom. 

Smoke Alarm Safety

Having working smoke detectors in your home is mandatory.  In Ontario you must have a smoke detector on every level of your home and outside all sleeping areas.  They should be secured high up on a wall or on a ceiling since smoke rises.  Noncompliance can result in tickets and fines.  It is a serious safety issue to not have the required alarms.  Many deaths occur every year due to not having working fire alarms. These are largely preventable.  Also, having these devices can allow you to notify emergency services more quickly which will hopefully lead to less damage to your property.

You should regularly check your fire alarms to ensure that they are working properly.  You should be testing them every month.  You can easily test them by pressing the button to see if the alarm sounds.  They can also be tested by blowing out a candle and holding it underneath the alarm.  However, never test a smoke alarm with an open flame.  You could end up damaging the device or even setting a fire.

It is also necessary to ensure that the batteries are working and changed regularly.  Batteries should be replaced twice a year.  You can make this easy to remember by changing them once in the fall and once in the spring when you change your clocks.  If you do get a low battery warning alarm, you should change the batteries immediately.  Never pull the batteries out without putting new ones in right away.  Having smoke detectors with no batteries is the same as having no smoke detectors at all.  This is a very risky and dangerous thing to do.

Cleaning your smoke detectors is also a part of regular maintenance.  It should be done roughly every 6 months.  You should follow the directions in the instructions manual that came with your alarm.  Generally this should be done by removing the cover and very gently vacuuming the inside with a soft brush attachment for your vacuum.  You can also gently wipe it down with a cloth to remove any dirt and dust build up.  Pay special attention to the vent openings.  If these are clogged it will prevent the unit from detecting smoke properly.  After cleaning, make sure it is still working by doing a test.

Fire detectors do not last forever, even if you regularly clean them and change the batteries as recommended.  They only have a lifespan of 10 years.  After this time period they are more likely to fail, putting you and your home at risk.  It is never a good idea to play with fire safety.  If you are not sure how old your fire alarms are, have them replaced.  They are not very expensive and it is much better to be on the safe side.

If you have a smoke detector that keeps going off, do not disable the unit.  You should look into the cause.  Most likely you’ll find that the unit needs cleaning or is located too closely to a bathroom or an appliance like a stove.  They should be at least 10 feet away to prevent false alarms.  If your unit is electronically powered, it could also be due to an electrical problem and you should have an electrician take a look.

Following these recommendations will ensure that your family and home are as protected as possible.