REE-Construction/First General Idaho

Water Damage
Winter has finally come to the Northwest after a long and mild Fall season.  The time is right to make sure your property is ready for below freezing temperatures and the possibility of frozen pipes and water damage that may follow.  Certainly water damage is a year round possibility as hot water fittings may fail, washing machine hoses may wear out and a dishwasher can lose its door seal, but winter weather is a major culprit in water damage to homes and businesses.
A simple preventative measure is to make sure that any garden hoses are disconnected from the outside water spigots.  Every year we see numerous instances where water freezes in an outside spigot, causing a connection to break or a pipe to split inside the wall of a home or business.  The thing about this type of break is that the actual shutoff is typically located about 18″ inside the wall and so when the line breaks it may not leak water right away.  Often the damage occurs in the spring after the spigot is turned back on.  A mysterious water damage occurs and it is only after some investigation that it is discovered that the leak only manifests itself when the water is turned on to the outside.
Often, especially in a second home or when people go on a winter vacation, temperatures in the house are put at a lower setting to save energy instead of heating an empty house.  When the inside temperature of a home is set at, say, 55 degrees while the outside temperature is well below freezing, it may not freeze in the finished space inside a home, but inside the walls the temperatures may drop well below freezing and low enough for a water damage to occur.  While it is tempting to try and save money by lowering inside temperatures, this can become a case of penny wise and pound foolish.  The damage from a broken pipe running water into a home during an extended time a way can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.
At the very least if someone is setting temperatures lower than typical in an unoccupied house, the doors to areas around sinks and fittings (in bathrooms or the kitchen should be left open to allow circulation of warmer air into these areas.  Even a small fan to move air into that “dead spot” can help prevent freezing and the damage that accompanies it.
Water damage will happen from time to time, but the most obvious causes can often be avoided with a little planning.

Beaver Creek Wildfire-Cleanup and Restoration

We seem to have five seasons in Idaho;  Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer and Smoke.  Whenever there is a good sized fire near homes and other occupied buildings, we get a lot of calls about cleaning up when it’s over and when do I need a professional fire damage restorer?


Photo By Steve Dondero

Let’s start off with some basics.  Not all fires are the same.  Often, in the case of a fire actually in a home or other building, there are  plastics, nylon, paints, coatings and other synthetic materials as well as wood and paper that are completely or partially combusted.  This can leave some pretty difficult residues to deal with as well as physical damage to walls, ceilings, furnishing and other finishes.  We like to think that this is a job for a restoration company with equipment, experience and training to successfully assess, remove, repair, replace, restore and (sometimes most importantly) deodorize a building so it can be occupied without discomfort.


Actually one of the most difficult smoke/fire events to successfully restore is the eggs, beans, turkey or whatever that gets left on or in the oven and ends up being deposited as a nasty smelly protein residue on everything throughout a house. It is the one of the most commonly screwed up restoration projects there are, because the damage is difficult to see and too often is not removed because it is too much labor. Instead  efforts are concentrated on covering up with sweet smelling foo-foo juice (save money on labor) and it means starting over to make it come out right.


When there are wildfires, there are obviously physical damages that occur to structures.  All too often the building is completely destroyed, but there are heat and fire damage to roofs, decks,exterior surfaces, windows and furnishings.  There may also be heavy ash residues on the building as well.  Again, we think this probably is a job for super restorer to put things back like they were before the fire.


We also see a fairly new phenomena that requires removing the foam and retardants that are either purposely or accidentally applied to exteriors of buildings to prevent actual fire damage.  Again, we suggest a call to super restorer to bring things back to normal and make sure the mess isn’t just made worse by well intentioned, but untrained responders.


The difference between a wildfire and a typical structure fire is the type of residues that remain when it’s over.  With wildfire, the primary (if not only) material combusted is cellulosic (e.g., trees, grass, sagebrush) and the combustion is often  complete.  The remaining residues are ash that blows in the wind.  As much as it pains me to say it, often times addressing the odor and cleanup of the remains of a wildfire in a house doesn’t really call for special powers of super restorer.  While they may be labor intensive, the trick is executing simple cleaning techniques very well.


First of all, the odor is much more transient and associated with that dry ash residue. We know that bringing home a sleeping bag  from a camping trip that has that campfire odor is often corrected by simply providing some ventilation on the clothesline before rolling it up and putting it away.  A dose of “out with the bad air, in with the good”.  Similarly, the majority of the smell associated with a wildfire is transient as well and while we can’t hang our house on the clothes line, other ventilation will go a long way toward curing what ails a house as well.  A few changes of the filter on the furnace, opening the windows (when the wind isn’t blowing ash around) and the passage of a few days can make many of the pungent odors that seem to be everywhere a thing of the past.


The next step is removing the residues.  Success typically involves simple everyday cleaning techniques like dry vacuuming, dusting and wiping down horizontal and vertical surfaces.  We all understand that when the wind blows, even without ash from a wildfire, residues (dust) end up getting things dirty again.  With all the extra  residue (ash), the effect is certainly magnified, but the result is not so much damage as just a need for stepped up housecleaning.


Most of us have dodged the bullet as far as actual structural damage.  We can be thankful for some heroic efforts of firefighters from all over the state and the country for making this more of a big campfire than the property damage catastrophe that it could have been.  If you need a professional super restorer or are unsure if you do or don’t, please feel free to give us a call.  We will give you the benefit of our experience in making an honest assessment of how best to address your situation.  If appropriate, we will provide our best super restorer skill to help you get back to normal.  You can also find tips  under “FAQ and Insurance Claims” at our website


We may be visited by some folks from out of town looking for work when this is over as well.  Its a good idea to always remember to be careful when speaking to strangers.







Principle #4-“Complete” means crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s.

If you had to make a choice, which would be better, someone who started strong and then didn’t complete the task at hand or someone who got off to a bit of a rocky start , but finished strong and made sure the project was complete?A fire damage project after completion


Everyday in the property damage restoration is somewhat analogous to taking on a remodeling project without having the opportunity to plan ahead.  Seldom is there a pre-catastrophe meeting to discuss the property owner’s vision of the how catastrophic event will unfold, what the extent of the damage will be and how the finished project will look. There are almost always no plans, many times we may have not even have met the property owner before hand.  It’s is more often than not, “pleasure to meet you”, “sign here please” and the relationship starts with us re-arranging people’s personal contents, maybe pulling up floor coverings or cutting drywall and generally starting that remodel project that we will work out the details of later.  It can be a little overwhelming.  Usually, if we’ve responded in a timely manner when that first call that came in, if our crews do what they do best or bring in extra team members with special expertise when needed and if we don’t expend too many resources on lost causes or neglect items of importance to the property owner, if we can provide value during those sometimes chaotic first moments and keep the process moving along while we let everyone come up to speed and the planning for the end catchup; damage restoration projects have a good chance of turning out a success.

Actually the first part is the easy part, because if there are molehills that pop up-there is usually an opportunity to address them before they turn into mountains.  However, it is not uncommon to hear from people who have suffered through a property damage (as well as a remodel) that it took forever to get the last few details taken care of or worse yet, there is still something like a piece of trim or a bit of touch up paint that never quite got finished.


We believe that the goal of the project is to make sure that everything is put back to a pre-loss condition.  This means that the paint and the carpet and contents and everything else is back to normal, not “almost” back to normal.  We can’t control whether an insurance policy or the company that issued it covers all of the damage that results from a fire, flood, or other damage event. We can make it a part of our company culture that our part of the job isn’t finished until it’s finished and that everyone on our staff needs to finish their part of the process-not leave anything that was agreed to be completed, incomplete.Fire damage restoration after

So, if we succeed at being “quick”,”competent”, “appropriate” and finally “complete” in all of our interactions with our client property owners  and all of the other materially interested parties in the damage restoration process, we believe we can provide a valuable service to everyone in the process.