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Are you prepared for the cold weather?

Is your home and yard prepared for the colder weather?3777843796?profile=RESIZE_710x

As any homeowner will tell you, cabin fever isn’t just a state of mind affecting those who live inside the cabin—it’s hard on the cabin too. Over the winter, snow and cold can wreak havoc on everything from a house’s roof, chimney, pipes, yard and more. And yet, as the weather begins to turn chilly, many homeowners in the Denver area scratch their heads thinking about how to best care for their houses and yards.

Although caring for your property over the winter can instill a sense of unease, there some effective and easy-to-follow steps that will help preserve your house and yard over the long winter months. There is nothing you can do to prevent the freezing temperatures from coming, but there are certainly preventative measures that you can take.

With a bit of proactive planning, you can protect the areas of your home most vulnerable to the elements well before they show up at your door. Here is a winterizing your house checklist with the areas that need the most attention to make sure you, your family and your home make it to the spring intact.

 

1. The Roof & Gutters

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It’s not rocket science but all of that snow that accumulates on your rooftop has to go somewhere once it begins to melt. That’s why it is imperative that gutters and downspouts—your roof’s drainage system—are cleaned and kept clear of all clutter. All of those leaves that fell in fall can cause ice dams, a leaking roof and even roof collapse if not properly disposed of.

Installing leaf guards keep debris out of gutters for good. Adding gutter extensions ensures that once the snow melts, all of the water flows well away from the house foundation. Also leaking gutter joints can be sealed using a caulking gun. A contractor can inspect your roof for loose gutters and damaged roof shingles.

Make sure chimneys and woodstoves are cleaned thoroughly early in the season to prevent dangerous clogs. Performing these steps in early fall and then double-checking just before the first snow can work wonders in protecting your roof.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. The Pipes

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Getting home ready for winter means addressing vulnerable and exposed pipes. According to the Building Research Council at the University of Illinois, the “temperature alert threshold” is 20°F. Exposing pipes temperatures at or below that puts them at risk of bursting due to back up and pressure.

The best way to prevent this from happening is to remove all hoses and garden equipment from outside spigots, let water drip from the sinks and faucets to keep the water from freezing in unheated pipes and open cabinets in the bathroom and kitchen to allow pipes exposure to heat. You should also test the main shut off valve to prevent it from debris build-up and rust.

Frozen pipes are one of the risks of property damage once the temperature drops and almost 40 percent of frozen pipe failures occur in the basement. A burst pipe can lead to $5,000 of basement water damage or more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. The Sump Pump

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If your house has a basement, you have one of these unsung heroes. The sump pump is responsible for keeping the basement dry in the spring and summer. However important, it’s a delicate piece of equipment and needs to be properly prepared for winter.

The first thing to do for your sump pump is to test it in the fall by removing debris and filling the pump with clean water. Leave the pump plugged in as water can collect in the basement at all times. Keep a backup pack of batteries in case of a clog or power outage. The last thing you can do in the winter it to remove the extension hose as water can freeze inside and cause a blockage.

As winter fades to spring it important to test the sump pump again to ensure that it’s in good working order as it will be put to the test as the snow melts.

 

 

 

4. The Sprinkler System

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Prepping your lawn sprinkler system is also an important step to prevent water damage. Similar to your pipes water left in the system can freeze and expand. This action puts heavy pressure on pipes and valves and can make them burst or crack. A burst pipe is bad news for a house’s foundation as water from one can seep into the house and can produce all sorts of problems, such as mold or other damage.

That is why it’s very important to winterize your lawn irrigation system. A big part of this is just expelling all of the water—and when we say all, we mean it—out of the sprinkler system and equipment. As mentioned before, it is also important to detach hoses and other watering devices from spigots on the exterior of your home.

If you suspect a frozen pipe in your sprinkler system or anywhere else for that matter, you must take no chances and contact a home restoration expert immediately.

 

 

5. The Yard

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The last and perhaps the biggest place you should concentrate on to prepare your property for winter is the yard. Let’s face it, so much work goes into creating, presenting and maintaining a great yard and it should come as no surprise that the work does not simply cease once it starts getting cold.

Winter can do a number on your trees, shrubs and lawn. Ice storms, wind and below-freezing temperatures can cause plants and trees to dry out, weaken and to lose branches. Dead leaves leftover from the fall collect moisture and can lead to ugly mossy or mold spots on your lawn.

There are a few things you can do to avoid these problems. Aerate, fertilize and mow the lawn before the first freeze. Also add mulch to trees and shrubs after checking for cracks in the soil around them. If there is a crack in the soil be sure to fill it. Raking is an exhausting, seemingly never-ending process but no one would do it if it wasn’t paramount to maintaining a healthy lawn over the winter. You can sweep the lawn every few weeks over the winter to keep debris off and strictly enforce the ‘No Walking on the Lawn’ rule.

 

Following these cold weather tips for home won’t guarantee that your house makes it out of winter unscathed. There is always a chance that a pipe will burst or a gutter will be clogged. If you find that your house has been damaged over the winter you can call the restoration experts at American Restoration 24.7

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Environmental Considerations in the Claims Process

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Focus on Water and Fire Restorations

 
 

Following notification of impact to a property through the claims notification process, restorers are regularly called upon to make necessary initial decisions regarding water extraction and drying and impacted material removal. Prevailing documentation, including the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC’s) S500 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration, guides restorers to perform procedures to “safely restore” impacted property. Specifically, S500 indicates that specialized experts should be used to perform damage assessments where “Regulated, Hazardous Materials and Mold” are present. This conforms with prevailing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that indicate that where specific regulated materials may exist and will be disturbed, sampling must be performed.

As a result, a building materials assessment for environmental hazards should be conducted where materials to be restored/repaired or removed are located, and should be performed by accredited/licensed environmental professionals. This is the best way to ensure that damages are properly accounted for and to make certain that the restoration specification/protocol captures those environmental hazards that may not be readily apparent to the building consultant or restoration contractor. Assessing these potential environmental hazards through sampling protects against the inadvertent disturbance of these environmental hazards that could result in increased costs for restoration efforts or expose building occupants to materials in their working environment. Knowledge of the presence and location of these materials drives restoration efforts and may result in selecting options to not disturb materials or utilization of drying in place methods, in lieu of removal of substrates.

"Some of the most commonly encountered hazardous building materials include asbestos, lead-based paint, PCBs, and mercury."

Asbestos

Asbestos is commonly found in building materials including floor tile and mastics, sheet vinyl flooring, pipe insulation, spray-on fireproofing, drywall joint compound, spray-on acoustic ceiling, plaster, ceiling tiles, roofing, cement boards and pipes, mortars, seam sealants, caulking, and glazing compounds to name just a few. In accordance with 40 CFR Part 61, Subpart M, known as the Asbestos National Emissions Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (Asbestos NESHAP), “…prior to the commencement of the demolition or renovation, thoroughly inspect the impacted facility or part of the facility where the demolition or renovation operation will occur for the presence of asbestos…” This should be performed by an appropriately accredited/licensed Asbestos Inspector, prior to disturbing these materials. Licensing regulations differ by state, and it is critical to know the provisions of each state’s requirements for asbestos inspection and abatement design.

Many facilities have historical asbestos sampling data, and this may be utilized, in lieu of performing additional sampling. In the absence of this information being available, sampling of materials to be disturbed for the purpose of water and fire restoration efforts should occur, regardless of the date of construction. Special handling procedures associated with disturbing these materials should be incorporated into the restoration protocols and associated cost of repair estimates. Even with building demolition, the abatement of asbestos containing materials must occur prior to demolition activities. Further, clearance testing prior to re-occupancy, even for demolition activities following abatement, must be performed by licensed personnel. Many states require negative declarations regarding the presence of Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) prior to building demolition being permitted.

Where building materials exist that contain detectable amounts of asbestos, but below the regulatory threshold of asbestos concentration of more than one percent, other regulations are still applicable to restoration workers.

Regulations applicable to asbestos work practices include 29 CFR 1910.1001 Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) General Industry Standard, 29 CFR 1926.1101 OSHA’s Construction Standard, and 40 CFR Part 763 Subpart E – Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), as well as other applicable federal, state and local regulations.

Lead and Lead-Based Paint

Lead-based paints are commonly found in buildings built prior to 1978. Lead-based paints are still applied to bridges and other steel structures for their rust inhibiting properties and ability to resist weathering, and are found in both public and private housing.

The assessment of paint condition and potential resultant lead hazards is required in child-occupied facilities and target housing by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) where materials to be disturbed may contain lead. Specifically, the Lead-based Paint Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Rule in 40 CFR 745 Subpart E requires that a determination be made by licensed personnel “…that the components affected by the renovation are free of paint or other surface coatings that contain lead.” Again, licensing regulations differ by state, and it is critical to know the provisions of each state’s requirements for lead inspection and abatement design.

Many facilities have historical lead sampling data, and this may be utilized in lieu of performing additional sampling. In the absence of this information being available, sampling of materials that will be disturbed for the purpose of water and fire restoration efforts should also occur. Special handling procedures associated with disturbing these materials should be incorporated into the restoration protocols and associated cost of repair estimates. In addition, clearance testing or cleaning verification following abatement or renovation is required to be performed by licensed personnel.

Prevailing regulatory requirements regarding sampling materials to be disturbed include OSHA Lead in Construction Rule (29 CFR 1926.62), the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Rule (40 CFR 745, Subpart E), as well as other federal, state and local applicable regulations. Samples of the demolition waste stream also should be analyzed by the Toxicity Characteristic Leachate Procedure (TCLP), in order to determine if the waste stream is hazardous (greater than 5 milligrams of lead per liter of leachate). This impacts restoration and repair costs, when waste handling and disposal measures differ from normal construction and demolition debris.

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

PCBs are commonly found in building components including caulking, paints, elastic coatings, lighting ballasts, transformers, capacitors, hydraulic oils, cable insulation, and many others. PCBs can become a significant contributor to indoor air pollution, if not properly handled during restoration efforts. Identification of the presence of these materials and quantities that may be disturbed during restoration efforts should occur prior to these restoration or demolition efforts, and this should be performed by experienced environmental consultants. Disposal of PCB bulk product waste (those containing greater than or equal to 50 parts per million (ppm)) is regulated by the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) at 40 CFR 761.62. Disposal of PCB remediation waste (materials contaminated by bulk sources) is regulated by TSCA at 40 CFR 761.61. These handling and disposal procedures can impact restoration and repair costs associated with the claims process.

Mercury

Mercury is commonly found in building components including fluorescent, compact fluorescent, and HID light bulbs, thermostats and thermometers, mercury switches in a variety of appliances, gas pressure regulators, boilers (heat regulators), pilot light sensors, certain flooring systems (flexible gym flooring), and mercuric oxide battery systems to name a few. Regulation of the assessment and disposal of mercury containing equipment is covered by the EPA’s Universal Waste Rule at 40 CFR Part 273. Again, the identification of the presence of these materials and quantities should occur prior to restoration or demolition efforts, and this should be performed by experienced environmental consultants. These handling and disposal procedures can impact restoration and repair costs associated with the claims process. If materials containing mercury are released during restoration or demolition efforts, and contact other materials, they also will be considered mercury-impacted for the purpose of handling and disposal, which can absolutely impact restoration and repair costs associated with the claims process.

What to Know and Do:

• Where materials to be restored/repaired or removed are located, comply with prevailing standards and regulations by utilizing a specialized expert to check for the presence of environmental hazards.
• Where sample data does not exist regarding the potential presence of environmental hazards in a property, utilize licensed/accredited personnel to sample for these materials.
• Follow federal, state and local laws regarding licensing and inspection requirements and sample suspect materials before disturbing them.
• Where environmental hazards exist, incorporate their presence, location and quantities into restoration and repair protocols, using licensed/accredited personnel to complete this work.
• Incorporate these restoration and repair protocols and associated costs into the claims process.

 

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