Frequently Asked Questions for Residential Customers
For Commercial Customer FAQs, click here.
Water Damage Restoration
How long will it take my property to dry?
Drying time is determined by a combination of factors, including the location, duration, and source of water, the types of building materials, the weather conditions, and how quickly emergency services begin. Through consistent monitoring and evaluation of the drying process, we can determine when the drying is complete. Your carpet may feel dry to the touch, but padding and subfloors may still be wet underneath. While there are no rules to determine how long your property will take to dry, we can tell you it may take between three and five days or more depending on the conditions.
How do I know when my property is completely dry?
Proper testing with our specialized equipment is the correct way to determine if things are completely dry. Touch alone may be a false indicator.
Will turning up the heat help dry things out?
Not necessarily. We will adjust the temperature to its optimum setting for the proper drying conditions. Please do not change the setting or shut off the HVAC system; doing so may prolong the drying process.
My wood floors are wet and buckling. Will they have to be replaced?
Wood flooring must be evaluated during the drying process. We employ specialized drying systems and dehumidifiers that enable us to create an environment where wood floors can dry more efficiently and resume their original shape. Due to the density of hardwood flooring and urethane finishes, drying may take up to three weeks or longer. If you filed a claim, your insurance adjuster will work with you to make the final decision as to whether floors will need to be refinished or replaced.
What about my wet furniture?
The extent of damage and the construction of the furniture will determine if your furniture can be restored. Your furniture must be dried before damage can be adequately assessed. Unsalvageable furniture will be documented for you, and if any items need to be discarded, a customer release form will need to be signed.
Do I need to move out of my property during this process?
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. Here are several things to consider. Safety is paramount. Our equipment is as childproof as possible, but we require your supervision to make sure no children play with it. Air movers and dehumidifiers will create noise and make your property drafty for a few days. It is important the equipment remains on, so if the noise is disruptive to you, you might want to consider an alternate place to stay.
What’s that smell?
It is not unusual to smell odors during the drying process. Increased heat and humidity can also lead to increased odors that may be coming from the drying building materials or dormant spill 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. Deodorizers are often used to minimize these effects as well.
Does everything need to be moved out during restoration?
Not usually. If items need to be moved out, we will let you know in advance.
My ceilings are wet. What needs to be done?
Our technicians will evaluate moisture content, determine the severity of the damage, and may have to remove some of your ceiling for ventilation. Wet insulation can also be a hazard and may need to be removed.
Should I open the windows to help the drying process?
Opening your windows to assist the drying process is not always recommended. Outside weather conditions may vary, so the technician from ServiceMaster RRH will determine when and if the outside air is appropriate.
Can I walk in the area during the drying process?
It is strongly suggested you keep the traffic to a minimum. Wearing shoes is recommended for your safety.
Can my carpet be restored or will it have to be replaced?
A few reasons your carpet may not be salvageable –
- 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
Why does my specialty floor need to be removed?
Nonporous flooring can trap water and prevent it from drying properly.
Why did the technician leave wet carpet on my stairs?
Carpet on the stairs is generally not removed for safety reasons. Exposed tack strips or staples, especially on steps, is dangerous. However, there are situations where removing carpet from stairs is necessary to prevent damage to hardwood steps or in the case of sewage contamination. Removing tack strips is not advised as this may damage the hardwood or the subfloor. Extreme caution must be used whenever the tack strip is exposed or when the carpeted stairs are damp. If carpet left on the stairs is unsalvageable, it will be removed when new carpet is installed.
How will you match my carpet pad?
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.
What will you do with my area rugs?
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.
Why are air movers and dehumidifiers used?
When water damage has occurred, water can be absorbed into the drywall (sheetrock), baseboards, and 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 move drying equipment without first calling ServiceMaster RRH.
Who is responsible for monitoring the drying equipment?
Our water damage 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. Notify our office immediately if the power goes off or if the equipment turns off.
What will it cost to run the equipment?
Based on average electrical rates, it may cost about $1 per day per piece of drying equipment to operate. Actual costs can vary depending on current rates from your local electricity provider.
What about sewage contamination?
Hard surfaces can be cleaned and sanitized. Affected items that cannot be sanitized require disposal. Porous materials such as drywall, ceiling tiles, insulation, particleboard, and paneling, etc., that have been directly affected should be removed during the emergency service visit.
Who is responsible for paying for the service?
Ultimately you, the property owner, are responsible for payment. As the property owner, you will need to sign a form authorizing the work and payment. If this is an insurance claim, ServiceMaster RRH generally collects only the deductible amount and bills 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.
Fire Damage Restoration
How long will the restoration process take?
Because there are many variables and many services involved in fire and smoke restoration, it is difficult to predict exactly how long the complete restoration will take. Consult with your ServiceMaster RRH restoration technician on the estimated dates and phases of your restoration project.
Can I clean it myself?
We suggest that you do not attempt any “do-it-yourself” cleaning methods without consulting your ServiceMaster RRH restoration technician. Pretesting, using the right cleaning agent for the particular item, mixing deodorizing agents with cleaning solutions, and using correct dilution rates are just some of the ways a fire restoration technician expertly controls the results. Professional cleaning systems and products used by experienced, trained ServiceMaster RRH restoration technicians give you the best chance for complete restoration of your belongings.
What are some safety concerns?
At ServiceMaster RRH, occupant and worker safety is a top priority. During the initial inspection, safety hazards are identified and addressed, including debris removal, air quality, electrical hazards, and 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.
Can I turn on my heating and air conditioning unit?
We recommend that you not turn on your furnace or air conditioning unit without clearance from the HVAC contractor.
What items do I keep in my possession?
- Valuable Jewelry
- Personal Documents
- Valuable Paintings
- Gasoline Cans
- Stamp/Coin Collections
How do I keep track of non-restorable items?
We recommend you make a list of items (including food items) deemed nonrestorable. Your insurance company may have an appropriate form. Make a copy for your insurance company and keep one for yourself.
Do I need to move out of my property during this process?
This is ultimately your decision. Some things you may want to consider are safety concerns, odors, electricity, and noise from equipment, etc. If vacating your premises for any length of time consider the following: forward your mail to your temporary residence, stop newspaper and other deliveries, and notify utility company, cable company, etc., of temporary suspension of services.
Do I need general contractors?
Some items may require general contractors such as drywall/painting, electrical, plumbing, roofing, framing/finish carpentry, flooring/carpet, installation of doors, windows, and cabinets, and post-construction cleanup, etc.
Do my belongings need to be moved away from the premises?
Depending on the source, nature, and extent of the fire, it may be best to remove all belongings to a secure facility for cleaning, storage, and to make room for restoration or construction. ServiceMaster RRH will work with you and your insurance claims representative to manage this process.
Will I have access to my belongings while they are in storage?
Yes. With advance notice we can schedule a time for a ServiceMaster RRH restoration technician to meet with you and provide access to your requested items. A service charge may apply.
What about special items? Artwork, china, heirlooms, etc.
Some high-value items require restoration by a specialist. Working with your insurance claims representative, we can help you identify these and locate a qualified restorer.
Who is responsible for paying for the service?
Ultimately you, the property owner, are responsible for payment and will need to sign a form authorizing payment for the restoration services. If this is an insurance claim, ServiceMaster RRH generally collects only the deductible (co-payment) amount from you and bills 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 by insurance or you decide not to file a claim, you will be expected to pay in full.
What is mold?
Mold is a microscopic fungus that is part of the natural environment and necessary for our ecosystem. While it is necessary in the outdoor world, too much mold inside a structure can be dangerous and unsanitary. Mold produces spores as part of its lifecycle, and these spores float through the air both inside and outside.
Why is mold a problem?
Many people aren’t aware mold can cause serious structural damage to homes and businesses. If left undetected, mold can cause a property to lose value and/or require significant repairs. If you have ever suffered from allergies, exposure to molds can often cause nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, skin irritation, or even more severe reactions.
What does mold need in order to grow?
Mold needs a moist environment, temperatures above freezing, and a food source like leaves, paper, dirt, wood or other building materials. Mold is more likely to be found in damp, dusty spaces or areas with stagnant air.
How can I tell if I have mold?
If you see mold growth or water stains, a mold test can help identify related microbial activity. You can also look for areas where water leakage has occurred, such as roofs, pipes, ceilings, or walls. Musty smells may also indicate the presence of mold.
What can I do to prevent the growth of mold in my home?
The most effective means to keep mold in check include keeping the humidity level of your home at 40-60 percent, using an air conditioner and/or dehumidifier during humid months and in damp spaces like basements, and always utilizing exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens, along with dryer vents outside your home. Lastly, if there are leaks in your roof, walls, or plumbing, it is important to repair them as soon as possible.
When does mold need to be handled by a professional remediation company?
Most experts recommend a professional remediation company like ServiceMaster RRH when elevated mold levels are detected. Remediation professionals are specially trained to isolate and treat mold-affected areas to avoid contaminating adjacent spaces.
Some molds have the reputation of being more dangerous than others. Is identifying the mold important?
Sometimes you will hear terms like “toxic mold” and “black mold” used to refer to molds. While identifying the type of fungus or mold may be interesting, it doesn’t affect the course of action. If mold is present, the CDC has strongly recommended that it be removed, no matter the type*.
*Source: “Facts about Mold and Dampness.” Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention. 18 September 2012. Web.
Air Duct Cleaning
Is air duct cleaning expensive?
The cost of the service varies and depends on factors such as where you live, how dirty your system is, how easy it is for the contractor to access the ducts, and what material is used in the construction of the ducts. However, our expertise, training and satisfaction guarantee are built into the price of service.
How long will it take to have my air ducts cleaned?
The amount of time it takes to clean a residential HVAC system can vary depending on the complexity of the system. Once a skilled and trained technician arrives, they should be able to give you an estimate of how long it will take. For standard purposes, we ask for at least three to five hours to get the job done right and to your satisfaction.
Will air duct cleaning be disruptive to my family?
Your professionals at ServiceMaster RRH can schedule a time most convenient for your family and when most of the household is not present. Depending on the magnitude of the job, we should have your house back in normal operation in a matter of a few hours.
How often do I need to get my air ducts cleaned?
We recommend air duct cleaning every three to five years. Customers who fall in the following conditions should consider more frequent cleaning of their duct systems:
- Pets that shed a lot
- Recent water damage
- Home remodeling or improvements taking place
- Residents with asthma or allergies
- Humid or moist environmental conditions
Do I need to do anything prior to the technician arriving for my scheduled service?
For safety, the technician should be shown where the fire extinguisher and first aid kit is located. It is best to provide them with any emergency contact information.
Duct cleaning can be noisy. It is best to do it when most family members are not present.
Ask your technician how much space is needed around each air vent register and how much space they will need around the furnace and air conditioner. It is best to have these areas cleared beforehand.
Prior to cleaning, perform a walkthrough of your home to go over where protective coverings such as drop and corner guards will be placed. It is also necessary to talk with your technician about the ducts, how they will be cleaned, and the accessibility of them.
Why should I have my air ducts cleaned?
Air duct cleaning helps the following:
- Reduce energy costs in your home
- Reduce the potential for mold growth
- Improve indoor air quality
- Increase air circulation and flow
- Increase your home system performance
- Extend HVAC equipment life
Is there anything I can do to help maintain clean air ducts?
To help maintain clean air ducts, change air filters based on the manufacturer’s recommendations. Regular vacuuming will also help reduce pet dander and airborne dirt and debris.
Will you clean the home without the customer being present?
We prefer to work with the customer in the home, but under specific medical situations, we can do so with their input, even if they’re not present. We will never clean out a home without the customer’s knowledge, approval, and understanding.
How involved must the customer be in the cleaning process?
While we do not ask the customer to physically move items, we do ask for their guidance when it comes to making decisions. After all, the more involved in the cleanup the customer is, the greater the chance they’ll have a positive experience and outcome.
How do you handle a resistant customer?
Our job is to help the customer clean up their home. We focus on building trust first and teaching skill sets second. While the customer may get pushed beyond their original comfort zone as the cleaning advances, our teams are trained to identify and communicate with the customer when the cleanup becomes challenging.
Can friends, neighbors, and church groups help?
Because homes are filled with high emotional situations, our experience has shown friends, neighbors, and church groups are best suited to be support groups after the cleanup has been completed.
Can you help family members educate another family member on the cleaning process?
Absolutely. Our team will work with the customer and their family members to help them better understand the cleaning plan. We’ll invest the time to make sure all parties are fully informed.
What does a hoarding cleanup cost?
Every job is unique and pricing will vary on many situations, including the size of the home, type of items kept, ability to make decisions, and hazards found in the home. We provide free estimates and will work with the family to find a solution that works for your needs.
How long does cleaning take?
Timing differs for each home depending upon volume, hazards, and more. An average home takes between three to five days. Preparing for the cleanup can take weeks, but the actual cleanup is usually less than a week.
Does the customer get breaks during the cleanup?
Each job will be tailored to the 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.
What do you do with valuables found in the house?
Any valuables found in the home are the property of the customer. During a cleanup, finding valuables is an exciting event we use to build confidence and momentum. Something of value (emotional or monetary) is brought to the customer immediately, and the story of the item is shared with the crew. Taking the time to acknowledge and hear these stories is an important part of the process.
Can you help donate items?
Yes, our team will help assist with the details of donated items. Once the customer selects a preferred donation organization, our team will sort and document all items and can take them to the donation center. We will make a detailed inventory, fill out the donation receipt, and return it to the customer for tax purposes.
Can you help sell items?
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 profits of sold items.
Can you store items?
Many of our locations do have the ability to store items in their warehouses for an additional fee. If our location does not have internal storage, we have partners nationwide that can affordably store items. In all cases, our team will handle the logistics of getting the items to storage locations. However, long-term storage after a clean-out should only be used in special situations.
Do you remove animals from hoarding situations?
Animal hoarding is a reality of our business, and we understand our customers have the best intentions for their pets. Depending upon the severity of the situation, we will partner with local animal control, veterinarians, adoption agencies, shelters, and rescue teams to gain the healthiest and safest location for the animals. Please call ServiceMaster RRH with questions about your specific situation and know all calls are confidential.
Are you bonded/licensed/insured?
All of our teams nationwide are licensed, bonded, and insured. You can trust anyone entering the home from our team will be trained, trustworthy, courteous, and compassionate.
What if mold or other hazardous materials (feces, asbestos, etc.) are found in the house?
ServiceMaster RRH offers a full suite of services to clean and repair mold, water, fire and smoke damage, as well as odor and hazardous materials. The services are an additional cost and will be discussed during the cleaning evaluation and again at the end of the cleanup.
What if you find a dangerous situation in the house?
Our teams are highly trained to recognize any dangerous situations, from structural issues to mold and fecal matter and everything in between. After walking through the home, we will let the customer know if there are any dangerous situations and will discuss how it can best be handled.
After the cleaning process, can you help the customer maintain the newly cleaned home?
We’ll help the customer and family create a plan to maintain a clean home. In addition, we’ll follow up by phone to see if the customer is doing well or if help is necessary.
How discreet will this process be? Will neighbors find out?
We understand that privacy is of extreme importance. We will work with the customer to be as discreet as possible.
How long will the reconstruction project take?
Because of the many variables involved, it is difficult to predict exactly how long the reconstruction project will take. Consult with your ServiceMaster RRH Project Manager on the phases of your reconstruction project and estimated completion date.
What does pre-loss condition mean?
ServiceMaster RRH is responsible for returning your home to how it was before the damage occurred, or its "pre-loss condition." We use materials of like kind and quality. There may be some damage that existed prior to your loss. Therefore, these damages will not been included in the scope of repairs.
At your request, ServiceMaster RRH will provide you with an estimate for any additional renovation projects, also called non-insured work.
What is non-insured work?
Any renovation project unrelated to your loss is considered non-insured work. At your request, ServiceMaster RRH will provide a separate estimate for a non-insured renovation project, and we will require separate authorization and payment terms. If non-insured work will delay the completion of an insured portion, then the situation must be discussed with your Insurance Adjuster and the ServiceMaster RRH Project Manager.
Do I need a permit?
When required, your ServiceMaster RRH Project Manager will take out the appropriate permit(s) on your behalf, identifying ServiceMaster RRH as the general contractor. If applicable, permit fees are included in the estimate and may be covered by the insurance company.
What is a code or by-law upgrade?
It is an upgrade that is made when your home’s pre-loss condition no longer meets legal building codes. Your insurance company may recognize code upgrades in the estimation process. Any questions regarding code upgrades should be directed to your Insurance Adjuster.
Will I have to be home all the time?
No. We will do our best to make sure you may go about your daily routine. For site access, you can provide a key to your Project Manager or opt for a lockbox on the property.
Do my belongings need to be moved away from the premises?
Depending on the scope of work, contents may often remain on location. We will take appropriate measures to securely cover and protect contents. Any construction-related dust that collects will be addressed in the post-construction cleaning.