Mold, nature's by-product of excessive rainfall

It seems like its been raining every day for months. And while the Denver metro area has received a significant amount of rainfall this year, it has yet to break a record.

In fact, just rainfall in May lifted the Denver-area to above-average levels for the first time this year.

National Weather Service meteorologist Dave Barjenbruch said Thursday that Denver International Airport has gotten 3.66 inches of rain in May. That’s more than double the amount of precipitation that fell in the first four months of the year. Experts say the area has a more than 2-inch surplus of rainfall, with more slated to fall.

But all that rain isn’t necessarily a good thing. The excess moisture breeds bacteria and mold and that can be hazardous to your health. Mold is the enemy within; it can form behind walls, on top of ceiling tile and fill your house not only with a foul smelling odor but also with toxic spores and fumes. You don’t have to see mold to feel its effects.

There are some steps you can take, however, to keep yourself and your home safe.
Clogged or faulty rain gutters can cause excessive water leakage through the walls, roof, and foundation of the home. You can clean your rain gutters with a light broom, a garden hose with a controllable-spray nozzle, or by using one of many gutter-cleaning devices on the market.

Adding perforated covers over your rain gutters will cut down on the frequency of cleaning. Rainwater and some dirt/small debris can permeate the cover but large debris, such as large leaves and twigs, cannot. These covers can typically be found in a local hardware store for only a couple of dollars for about every 4-feet of length.

Make sure your gutters’ downspouts are properly cleaned too. Spray water into the gutter or the top of the downspout to ensure it drains freely and with no obstructions. Water must also be diverted away from your home’s foundation.

In cold weather, leaks caused by ice dams occur when warm, heated air from the home begins to migrate through the insulation and into the attic area of the house. Without proper ventilation, this warm air collects in the attic area and may warm the underside of the roof decking. You may not see these during the winter, and the leaks could get worse with each passing summer storm.

The Centers for Disease Control cites a 2004 Institute of Medicine Study and lWorld Health Organization literature from 2009 that supports a link between large amounts of mold and mild to severe reactions, including headache, nasal congestion and respiratory complications.

The CDC lists guidelines to restrict mold growth, including:

  • Keep humidity levels between 40 and 60 percent in the home.
  • Use dehumidifiers and air-conditioners.
  • Fix roof, wall and plumbing leaks.
  • Remove water-logged carpets and dry flooded areas within 24-48 hours after occurrence.
  • Make sure exhaust fans are installed in areas of high humidity such as kitchens and bathrooms.

Insurance agents say the financial toll of recent hailstorms in Colorado is in the millions of dollars. The Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association says the insured damage to cars and homes in Colorado alone is estimated at $165 million.

Storms, Flooding, Basement Water and Headaches

Surface water, run off, basement flooding…call it what you will, the type of rain and storms which occurred in the Rocky Mountain Region recently have given quite a bit of anguish and headaches to any party that had property effected by water entering the building envelope.

Surface water should not to be confused by ground water. Ground water generally means waters from a fluctuating water table. Most issues from torrential rains creates potential for surface water/flooding. Unfortunately for most insured this may not be covered by standard insurance policies (always best to check with an insurance agent for full details). This creates large headaches for an insurer as many people could be disgruntled no coverage and time spent processing the inquiries.

Listed here are some general ways the majority of water entering into a basement can be avoided and in many cases, eliminated. For the most part, the best way is to ensure surface water is moved away from the foundation. Some way include

  1. Make sure your roof guttering system is moving the water away from the discharge area. Usually gutter extensions perform this quite well.
  2. Make sure your gutters are cleaned out. When a gutter gets clogged, the discharge of water will be in an unwanted place.
  3. As buildings mature, there is a tendency for the soils to compress or compact. This becomes an issue if the soils close to the foundation settle, creating a negative water flow (toward the foundation). Landscaping the area to create a positive flow away from the building alleviates many of the surface water entry issues.
  4. Create a vegetation free zone 3-4 feet around the perimeter of the structure. In many locales this is part of the building code, to have no plants or watering in this 3 foot area.

Ground water. This is a large topic and not within the scope of this article. One recommendation is to regularly check your sump pump, if you have one. This was generally installed to discharge water which may be from a rising water table.

With some proactive effort, the majority of surface water flooding can be avoided.

2011 Scholarship Winner Announced

Restoration Logistics is pleased to announce the winner of our 2011 Colorado Fire Service Scholarship Award.

This year, Miss Shelby Lynn Lowder is the recipient of our college scholarship fund. To date, Restoration Logistics has awarded $85,000 in funds to 14 individual students.

Shelby is the daughter of Sheldon Lowder, a volunteer firefigher with Monte Vista Fire Department. Shelby was selected by our Scholarship Selection Committee from more than 100 applicants.

Restoration Logistics will be making a formal presentation of the scholarship funds on July 25, 2011 at the Monte Vista Fire Department to Shelby and her family.

Watch our next newsletter for photos and more details about Shelby and her academic plans.

Congratulations Shelby!

Storm season is here! 5 tips to safeguard your home and family

Storms season is here, and while we don’t get the big thunder-boomers and tornadoes they do in Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma, we do get weather for which we need to prepare.

Here are some measures you can take to protect your family and property when severe storm strikes:

Maintain your landscaping. Use shredded bark instead of gravel or rock. This helps reduce damage from flying debris that can damage windows, siding, and automobiles. Remove weak branches or trees that could fall on your house.

Build an emergency kit. Use a large plastic tote to store a flashlight and batteries, first-aid supplies, portable weather radio, cash, clothing, blankets, extra keys, work gloves, a jug of water, and non-perishable food. Every few months, remember to replace items no longer usable. Store your kit in a safe place such as your basement.

Create a home inventory. Maintain a record of your belongings in your home and with an online program. In the event of damage from a severe storm, an inventory helps you during the claims process. Prevention ConnectionSM, our online safety resource, is packed with useful information, including, a free program for creating an online home inventory.

When a storm approaches

Secure outdoor items. Move your lawn furniture, ornaments, and other objects to a safe place, like a garage or shed, when a high wind or tornado watch is issued. A tornado watch means the weather is favorable for storms to produce tornados. However, if a tornado warning is issued, move immediately to a designated shelter, such as your basement, or a small interior room without windows, such as a bathroom. A warning indicates a tornado is imminent.

Keep your windows closed. At one time, people thought opening windows during a tornado could help save a house. Now experts agree that you could make things worse by allowing wind and rain into your home.

Restoration Logistics proud to sponsor AAMD Maintenance Olympics

The 12th Annual AAMD Maintenance Olympics had a record breaking attendance of more than 800 service personnel. DRI was proud to be a Torch sponsor for this year’s games.

For the second year Legacy Partners won the “We Hammered Em” award based on scoring for attendance numbers and competition rankings. Also for the second year, Lannon Quintana of Legacy Partners had the fastest overall time of 02:17.940 which may qualify him again for Maintenance Mania Nationals in Las Vegas this June. For a list of the medal winners for the competitions >> click here<<. This year was the first year for a Manager's Race Car Challenge and to continue the Legacy Partners winning streak, Pat Hutchison received the 1st place Gold medal. Jason Allen from Carmel Partners was 2nd for the Silver, and Sharon Ingram from Simpson Properties was 3rd for the Bronze. Click here for the flyer.

DRI sold to Jenmar Investment Group, LLC

After a quarter-century of local ownership, DRI, Denver’s premier disaster restoration firm, has been sold to an investment group from Nevada.

Terms of the April 19 sale to Lake Tahoe-based Jenmar Investment Group, LLC weren’t announced. Jenmar is an investment group providing opportunities to its members.

“Jenmar could not be more pleased by the acquisition of DRI. DRI is poised in the marketplace with the best infrastructure and technical expertise to become the dominant company in the Mountain West market. They make a great addition to the Jenmar portfolio,” a Jenmar spokesman said.

Throughout its history DRI has been there for home and business owners, helping them mitigate damages from disasters such as water, smoke, fire and mold.

James Spinosa will be the company’s president, according to Jenmar officials, who also said some additional members of DRI’s management team will remain during a short transition period.

DRI most recently made headlines when it stepped in to help the Dr. Phil show avert a disaster with just hours before filming was set to being. DRI staff successfully mediated a basement flooding and assisted the homeowner in finding a replacement water heater. For its efforts, Dr. Phil acknowledged DRI on-air.

DRI has provided more than $60 million worth of restoration and re-construction during its 25-year history. In addition, DRI sponsors the Colorado Fire Service Scholarship Fund. The fund has awarded more than $75,000 since 2004 to outstanding children and grandchildren of Colorado’s active fire service personnel in an effort to help these exceptional students achieve their higher education dreams.

Wescott Fire Chief retires; now takes on toughest battle of his life

Few words elicit fear and trepidation into one’s soul more than the six-letter, two-syllable one of cancer.

“You never give up; you got to keep fighting.”

About the only thing to make a cancer diagnosis worse is to add the word pancreatic.

“[Doctors] told me to go home and get my personal affairs in order. They don’t know me and I said, ‘Yeah, that’s okay. I am going to find somebody else, because I am going to fight this.’”

Those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are given the “months to live” speech. General life expectancy is just five to eight months. A scant 20 percent will make the one-year anniversary of their diagnosis. Pancreatic cancer is so aggressive less than five percent of sufferers make it to the five-year mark.

The quotes above are from Jeff Edwards, one-time Army medic and Green Beret, former chief of Donald Wescott’s fire department and longtime friend of DRI. Edwards was told he had pancreatic cancer in June of 2009, just after he finished a tour of Iraq.

“When I went home, within 72-hours of my arrival, my abdomen was all distended and bloated. I was retaining fluid, which promoted an emergency room visit,” Edwards told Colorado Springs TV station KRDO. “It wasn’t until they went in with a scope, within 10 seconds, the (doctor) went in and my whole pancreas was white and my abdominal wall had small two millimeter nodules coating my pelvis toward my lungs.”

Edwards took over the Donald Westcott fire department in the winter of ’05, taking over for 73-year-old Bill Sheldon, the department’s 15-year veteran of the chief’s chair.

At the time, Edwards said this to the Colorado Springs Gazette: “Chief Sheldon was a good mentor, like a father figure to me. I guess I’m creating my own path.”

Using experimental drugs, a new diet and exercise regime and a positive mental attitude, Edwards is continuing to fight the cancer and survive. Truly, he is creating his own path.

At his recent retirement dinner, Edwards said, “all we can do is our best, what we’ve been trained to do, and do it our best. We cannot always control the outcome, so we must do our best.” Chief Edwards challenged his department personnel and long time friends, to live by that motto.

DRI is honored to know Jeff Edwards and call him a “friend.” He is an inspiration to each of us.

How can you protect your house for wildfire safety?

As the first wild fire of the season burns in Golden, there are some tips home owners might consider to lessen the chance for losing their homes.

1) Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind.

2) Select materials and plants that can help contain fire rather than fuel it.

3) Use fire resistant or non-combustible materials on the roof and exterior structure of the dwelling. Or treat wood or combustible material used in roofs, siding, decking, or trim with UL-approved fire-retardant chemicals.

4) Plant fire-resistant shrubs and trees. For example, hardwood trees are less flammable than pine, evergreen, eucalyptus or fir trees.

How do wildfires spread?
In combination, weather, topography and fuel supply determine how destructive a wildfire will be. A fire burns in a patchwork of intensity and as it spreads, it can even create its own weather patterns. Spreading into the crown of the tree, the fire nourishes itself with oxygen drawn from below (like a chimney). Hurled by the convective drafts, floating embers can ignite dry fuel far from the fire.

How can you prevent wildfires?

1) Don’t park your vehicle on dry grass.

2) If off-road vehicle use is allowed, internal combustion equipment requires a spark arrester.

3) Know your county’s outdoor burning regulations. Unlawful trash burning is a punishable offense.

4) At the first sign of a wildfire, leave area immediately by established trails or roads. Contact a Ranger as soon as possible. If escape route is blocked, go to the nearest lake or stream.

5) Never take burning sticks out of a fire.

6) Never use stoves, lanterns and heaters inside a tent.

7) Store flammable liquid containers in a safe place.

Deep Freeze leaves Colorado residents in a quandry

The Arctic storm that blasted through the Front Range shortly after lunchtime on a Wednesday in mid-January droped temperatures nearly 20 degrees in less than an hour and brought gusty northerly winds that topped the 50 mph mark.

While Winter 2010-2011 has been short on storms for metro Denver, it has proven to pack a huge punch across most of our nation. With record snowfalls in much of the Midwest and eastern United States, Colorado has been spared the brunt of the storms wrath. Front Range residents have, however, experienced several days of bone chilling cold.

The sub zero temperatures had a phenomenal impact on emergency response agencies, schools, plumbers, carpet cleaners and restoration companies alike. DRI’s crews responded to countless multi family units, private residences, assisted living facilities, hotels and commercial businesses all suffering from broken pipes and flooding. A multitude of calls came into DRI’s emergency dispatch center within a 72 hour period forcing the need for a waiting list to be developed.

In the mountains experts are hoping the sub-zero temps lasted long enough to displace pesky pine beetle larvae which have been a scourge on the landscape for the last few years.

If you suffered any damage at the hands of Old Man Winter, please contact us immediately.

DRI: If we're good enough for Dr. Phil . . .

TV’s most famous doctor, Dr. Phil, known for helping those in need, called on the experts at DRI when a shoot was in danger due to flooded basement.

“Dr. Phil called us up and asked if we could help out,” a spokesperson for DRI said. “We were happy to do it.”

DRI’s staff responded, cleaned up the basement and even helped the woman find a company to replace her water heater. The taping of the segment went on as scheduled.

“Our new motto is, ‘If we’re good enough for Dr. Phil, we should be good enough for you,” joked a DRI spokesman.

Dr. Phil’s team gave a shout out to DRI during the show that aired in mid-February.

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