Does Your Insurer Impact The Coverage You Need

Does Your Insurer Impact The Coverage You Need?

Imagine you come home one day to see a raccoon climb out of your attic vent and scurry down a tree. You hurry inside to investigate and find that the raccoon has done considerable damage to your attic. Will your homeowner’s insurance pay to fix it? Coverage varies.

What’s Covered?

Homeowner’s insurance generally covers damage to the structure of your home from things like fires and storms. If lightning strikes your home, the damage will be covered. Similarly, if a tree falls on your roof, your insurance will pay to fix it.

When you get beyond the basics, though, coverage varies. Insurers may cover different amounts of damage. They may also offer additional coverage that can be added to your policy. Often, homeowners don’t realize some damage isn’t covered until after it has already occurred.

Floods and Sewage

Most areas of the country are prone to storms. Although lightning damage is covered by standard policies, if the same storm causes your basement to flood, the damage to your basement will not be covered.

Along the same lines, if flooding causes your sump pump to fail or sewage to back up into your house, that’s usually not covered by standard policies either.

If you live in an area where flooding occurs, even infrequently, it’s a good idea to purchase flood insurance. Many insurers also offer coverage for sewer backup. Paying a small fee now helps you avoid footing the entire bill for cleanup later.

Earthquakes

Like floods, earthquakes are often left out of standard homeowner’s policies. If earthquakes are a concern where you live, it’s smart to purchase coverage that will allow you to repair damage or rebuild your home if necessary.

Mold

Mold is a serious problem that can damage the structural integrity of your home. It also poses a health hazard to you and your family. Unfortunately, the coverage provided by insurers varies widely.

Some insurers only cover mold if it is caused by specific perils listed in your policy. Others offer more broad coverage that pays for mold damage unless the cause is explicitly excluded.

Coverage for mold is often confusing, and many insurers attempt to exclude it altogether. It’s wise to ask your agent about specific scenarios to get an idea of what is covered under the policy you’re considering.

Animals

If we return to the scenario this post opened with, the good news is because it was a raccoon, there’s a good chance the damage is covered. However, there are exceptions. If your insurer finds that the raccoon was nesting in your attic for a prolonged period of time and you made no attempts to block its access, you may not be covered.

Unlike damage from raccoons, rodent damage is virtually never covered. If you have a rat, mouse, or squirrel problem, odds are you’re on your own. In contrast, if a deer crashes into your bay window or a bear pulls your door open and raids your cabinets, you’re probably covered.

When it comes to damage from animals, the damage usually needs to have happened in a single event. If it happened over time, your insurer may say you could have taken steps to prevent the damage.

If you live in a wooded area, where wildlife is plentiful, we recommend talking to your insurance agent to see what types of animal damage are covered by your policy.

ECOS has over a decade of experience working with insurance companies to get our clients covered. Whether you’re experiencing damage from water, animals, mold, or fire, we are happy to help you navigate the often-confusing process of getting insurance claims approved.

In the event that damage is not covered by your insurer, ECOS will work with you on the most cost-effective method of cleaning and restoring your home to a healthy environment. If your home has been damaged, don’t wait for problems to get worse. Call ECOS today.

Common Water Damage to Homes

The Most Common Damage Done To Homes With Water

Your home is your sanctuary, and it’s also a significant investment. Water is a constant threat that has the potential to do profound damage to your home. Below, we discuss the most common ways water damages homes and how to avoid four common plumbing issues that lead to them.

1. Broken Or Clogged Pipes

Plumbing is necessary for us to live healthy and comfortable lives, but when pipes break or become clogged, thousands of gallons of water could leak into your home. According to one report of the most expensive insurance claims made by homeowners, water damage from plumbing and appliances made up 19% of all claims.

The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors recommends regularly checking your pipes to make sure they aren’t leaking, dripping, or clogged. Additionally, make sure you know where your shut-off valves are. Labeling them can help you use them quickly to minimize water damage if a leak occurs.

2. Frozen Water Lines

Plumbing issues aren’t limited to leaky pipes and clogged drains. The weather presents its own set of issues, particularly in the winter. Water expands as it freezes, and that means your pipes may burst.

It’s wise to take steps to prevent your pipes from freezing. The American Red Cross recommends adding insulation to unheated spaces, removing and draining outdoor hoses, and draining swimming pool and sprinkler lines before winter.

Once cold weather arrives, leave cabinet doors open to allow warm air to enter spaces around pipes. Leaving the cold water dripping also helps keep pipes from freezing. It’s also a good idea to leave your heat on while you’re away and keep it turned up at night.

If your pipes do freeze, thaw them with a hair dryer or heating pad. Do not attempt to use propane, kerosene, blow torches, or similar devices. These pose fire and carbon monoxide risks to you and your family.

3. Appliance Failures

Many of the appliances in our homes use or produce water, including the refrigerator, washing machine, dishwasher, air conditioner, and hot water heater. If these appliances fail, water can leak into your home.

The Insurance Information Institute suggests checking the hoses leading to your appliances on an annual basis. Replace any that are cracked, and get new hoses every five to seven years.

4. Sump Pump Failure

Homes with basements often have a sump pump. Sump pumps are designed to move water out of your basement and away from your foundation. However, if your sump pump fails, your basement can become flooded.

Since sump pumps run on electricity, a power outage is a common reason for failure. Having a generator can help get you through a power outage.

Sump pumps may also fail if they are the wrong size. Have a professional inspect your sump pump to make sure it can adequately address your home’s needs.

Dirt and debris can also clog your pump. Your sump pump should be serviced every six months to ensure it is working properly.

Getting Help With Water Damage

As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We always recommend taking steps to prevent water damage. However, emergencies happen, and if you experience a leak, we are here to help.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can clean up and repair the damage yourself. It only takes 24-48 hours for mold to colonize, putting you and your family at risk. Additionally, if sewage is a problem, bacteria and other pathogens become an immediate concern.

ECOS is here to help. We are on call 24-hours a day and seven days a week. If you are experiencing a leak or suspect water damage, give us a call. We’ll work quickly to minimize the damage done to your home and restore it to a healthy and safe environment.

Bad Air Quality Health Risks

Bad Air Quality – How To Evaluate The Health Risks

If you’ve had headaches, itchy eyes, or sinus congestion, you probably just chalked it up to a cold or allergies. That could be the case. However, people often fail to consider air quality as a possible cause. Read on to see how the air in your home could be making you sick.

What Causes Bad Air Quality?

According to one article, people spend an estimated 90% of their time indoors. That means it’s crucial that the air we breathe when we’re indoors is clean.

There are many factors that change the air quality in our homes and other buildings. Pet dander, mold spores, and dust mites can build up, especially in the winter. Outdoor pollution can enter through ventilation systems, and moisture can find its way inside.

The things we use to clean and heat our homes can harm indoor air quality, too. The habits and behaviors of occupants also matter. For example, it’s well known that smoking creates a health hazard inside.

How Do I Know If Bad Air Quality Is Making Me Sick?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, you may experience symptoms after just one exposure to bad indoor air. Your eyes, nose, and throat may feel irritated. You might feel dizzy or fatigued, and you may have a headache.

Clearly, the symptoms listed above are vague and can be caused by a variety of illnesses. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to when they happen. If you feel better after leaving the building, there’s a good chance your symptoms are caused by bad indoor air quality.

Long-Term Problems

Sometimes, bad indoor air quality causes health problems years after the fact. Repeated exposure to bad air quality over a long period of time also leads to serious health problems for some.

Respiratory diseases, cancer, and heart disease can all be caused by bad indoor air. Since these diseases are often fatal, it’s important to address indoor air quality issues as soon as possible.

What Can You Do About Bad Indoor Air Quality?

There are some easy steps you can take to improve indoor air quality. First, keep your home clean. Vacuuming, clearing clutter, and washing bedding and drapery all cut down on allergens.

Choosing to install hard flooring rather than carpeting can also be helpful. If you do have a carpet, make sure your vacuum has a HEPA filter, and use it several times a week.

Change filters in heating and cooling systems regularly and let fresh air in whenever possible. Consider purchasing an air purifier to help clean the air and a dehumidifier if damp areas are a problem.

Other Considerations

Bad indoor air quality impacts some people more severely than others. Vulnerable people like children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems are particularly susceptible.

Many times, the source of bad indoor air quality is invisible. Radon is a gas that can be a problem in some areas. Carbon monoxide is emitted by gas heaters and stoves, leaking chimneys, furnaces, and tobacco products.

Construction materials and furnishings can also pose a danger. If your home was built before the 1980s, it may contain asbestos. Formaldehyde is used in furnishings, building materials, and household products. There are often higher concentrations of formaldehyde indoors. Both formaldehyde and asbestos can cause serious health problems, including cancer.

Seeking Help From A Professional

It’s a good idea to have your home checked by a professional, particularly if you are experiencing symptoms consistent with bad indoor air quality. Professionals have the knowledge and equipment to deal with dangerous contaminants like asbestos and radon.

If you need help identifying the source of your bad indoor air quality or in remedying the problem, give ECOS a call. We have a live operator available 24/7, and our equipment is safe for the people and pets in your home.

Hoarder Cleanup

Six Things You Can Get Help With When Cleaning Up Hoarding

If you are faced with the task of cleaning up a hoarding situation, the sheer volume of objects in the home can be overwhelming. The good news is help is available to you. Below, we discuss six things you can get help with when cleaning up hoarding.

1. Therapy

One thing that’s important to recognize is that people who hoard are suffering from a recognized mental disorder. As such, getting appropriate therapy is crucial. Simply removing all their possessions will not fix the problem and may subject them to a great deal of emotional stress.

Here at ECOS, we work with the family and the therapist to ensure people are treated with respect throughout the process of returning their home to a healthy environment. If you or someone you love suffers from hoarding, reach out to a licensed therapist for help.

2. Cleaning Up With Respect To Feelings

When cleanup begins, it’s important to remember that the person suffering from hoarding experiences anxiety over parting with their possessions, even things that seem meaningless or like trash to others. Cleaning up after hoarding requires a specific process that respects that anxiety yet still restores the home to cleanliness.

At ECOS, we have over 12 years of experience cleaning up hoarding. We work with professionals and ensure that everyone is treated with respect and sensitivity throughout the process.

3. Sorting

While someone from outside the situation may look at a hoarded home as a giant pile of trash, for the person who hoards, it is all valuable in some way. As a result, necessary documentation, family heirlooms, and the like can be mixed in with other items or even trash.

Sorting through the items in the home is important so that items that are truly valuable are saved. Additionally, remember that the person who has hoarded must be involved in the process and able to make decisions. Forcefully removing a person’s possessions will cause emotional distress.

When you are ready to begin the process, having a professional cleaning company help will ease the burden and speed up the process of restoring the home.

4. Safety

An important consideration of cleaning up hoarding is the safety of everyone involved. Hoarding may mask structural problems, leaks, or dangerous mold. Additionally, there can be pathogens from large amounts of bacteria in the home.

A professional cleaning company has the equipment to handle the job safely. They will also recognize any problems that need to be addressed. Once the home is clean, any necessary repairs can be made by appropriate professionals.

5. Trash Removal

Often, there is a huge amount of trash in a home that has been hoarded. It’s far beyond what you can set out on the curb for pickup.

Getting help from a cleaning company keeps you from being overwhelmed with all the trash that has to be thrown away. A cleaning company can bag, remove, and haul all the trash away for you.

6. Repairs

Heavy furniture, piles of books, magazines, etc. can weaken a home’s structural integrity. Spills and leaks may cause beams and floors to rot. There can be pest invasions, as well. These are things beyond the average homeowner’s experience.

After cleaning, it’s important to restore the home to safety. For structural repairs, call a licensed contractor. If pests are a problem, reach out to a pest removal company for assistance.

Hoarding creates a daunting situation for both the people who hoard and their loved ones. Embarrassment may prevent people from calling for help, but help is available. If you or your loved one need help cleaning up after hoarding, consider giving ECOS a call.

You can learn more about our hoarding cleanup service here. Rest assured we will treat you and your loved ones with dignity.

 

Weather damage to property

How To Claim Insurance From Weather Damage To Your Property

Water damage, winter storms and spring thaws cause weather damage to your property. How do you file a claim due to that loss appropriately?

In 2015, winter storms led to about $3.5 billion in insured claim losses. Weather patterns shift, and increasingly, bring harsh conditions to areas that didn’t experience a severe level of weather activity previously. The good news is that most homes and businesses are properly insured and can receive coverage and compensation for losses through their insurance company.

Insurance Claims and Weather-Related Loss

Weather-related loss can occur in many ways. The most frequent causes of weather damage include:

  • Water damage
  • Sudden thaws leading to floods
  • Roof damage
  • Hail damage
  • Fallen trees
  • Freezing pipes
  • Sewer backup
  • Wind damage
  • Displacement caused by power failure

Your insurance company should cover most of these types of weather damage. However, your insurance company does not typically cover flood damage. Thus, you need to look into obtaining national flood insurance in the future, and the FEMA website offers a great resource for research.

In the event of liability, your home insurance typically covers liability. One of your first steps should involve contacting your insurance company, even when you think you are not at fault. So, don’t try to resolve the issue yourself. You pay the insurance company to help you in times like these.

Your insurance company also has relationships with emergency contractors and clean-up experts who can step in to help you resolve the issue quickly and safely. ECOS Environmental has years of experience in doing just that. We can help you document the damage and repair through every step of the claim process.

Document and Prevent Further Damage

Waiting for the insurance company to step in? You still have a responsibility to prevent further damage to the property.

It’s normal to feel anxious and want to get started immediately. First, look around and access. Start taking photos, videos and notes about what you notice on your property. Where has damage occurred? What are the dates and times involved? What is the value of damaged materials and electronics in your home? Do you know the date of purchase? Keep track of receipts and records of any money spent.

The where, what, when and why becomes important as the insurance company reviews the claim. This scenario is where restoration and clean-up experts like ECOS Environmental really shine and offer support. When weather damage follows an emergency, our crews often reach the site faster than the insurance company can.

Keeping Up With Your Weather Damage Claim

Always contact your insurance company any time you notice weather damage or are accused of responsibility for damage to another’s property. Access and document the damage, gathering information. Additionally, keep a claim log about who you speak to regarding the damage, noting the status, date and time. Note every contact.

So, always check with your insurance provider before throwing out damaged items. Take photos before discarding if your municipality requires you to get rid of damaged materials for safety. This documentation process will also help you when it comes time to submit an inventory to the insurance company.

Sign up for text alerts from your insurance provider, so you can keep up with the status of your weather damage claim. This step will help you keep track of when an estimate becomes available or when a payment is issued.

Your home insurance policy should offer you the best possible coverage and support your best interests. Consequently, don’t take on extensive costs that you hold no responsibility for or cause more damage by resolving the issue yourself.

Always go through the proper channels. Contact ECOS Environmental to make sure every step in the claims and clean-up process is impeccably handled. You will come out on top safely, more informed and save more money.

Flood Clean Up

Cleaning Up After Flooding 5 Steps You Need To Take

The floodwaters begin to recede. Understandably, you want to get back into your home or business to clean up and rebuild. However, rebuilding too quickly can mean you skip over significant damage and endanger those in the building.

Otherwise, persistent and hazardous issues such as infestations, mold growth and structural deterioration will present safety and health problems that can cost you more money in the long run. Don’t trust that flood water or materials damaged by flooding are safe. Here are the five steps you need to take after flooding to clean up.

1.Contact Professionals to Report and Assess

After flood water recedes, contact the professionals to report and assess the conditions following the flood. Do contact your insurance company as soon as possible, but also don’t neglect to contact disaster restoration professionals to assist with the documentation and restoration process.

ECOS Environmental is experienced with working with insurance companies and their standards. We will stay with you from start to finish. We know how to safely and effectively clean up all kinds of disasters and will restore your home or business with care.

People say that fire is both destructive and creative, but water seeps. It seeps through everything, including your ceiling, drywall, floors and walls.

2. Protect Yourself When Entering

There are some aspects of cleanup that you can safely DIY but never charge into a structure without it being cleared as safe by the experts and authorities.

Cracked foundations and broken floors obviously present hazards. Always turn the electricity off before going into a room with standing water. Also, don’t turn on electrical appliances while standing on wet flooring or carpeting. Never disturb mold, which can form within 48 hours of flooding.

Wear protective gear when you enter the building. Wear masks, waterproof boots and long sleeve clothing.

3. Start Cleaning ASAP

Begin the cleanup process once the building is cleared for you to enter safely. The degree to which you can contribute personally to the cleanup process depends on the degree of damage and concerns for potential health hazards. You don’t and shouldn’t do all the cleanup on your own.

Contact with floodwater and damaged materials endangers your life. It takes a long time, and you can’t work to support yourself and loved ones while cleaning up. If you DIY the cleanup, always wear protective gear. Only what is reasonable and safe for you and your health, such as wiping down surfaces and opening windows.

One of the first and easiest steps that you can DIY is to dry out the contents of the property completely. Focus on items that won’t retain harmful bacteria and mold. You will throw those items away. Many non-porous materials can be salvaged, so take the items outside to dry in the sunlight. Dehumidifiers and fans will help air out the property to prepare for restoration efforts.

4. Exercise Caution with Mold Damage

Where there is moisture, you will most likely find mold. After flooding, mold can quickly develop as soon as 24 hours after water comes in contact with a surface. Please wear a mask when you re-enter a building.

Soap and bleach can help address some mold issues, on the surface, but the problem area can “grow” deeper. Experts can offer you a free estimate and plan for addressing the damage.

5. Address Necessary Repairs Before Restoration

Part of the cleanup process means addressing the necessary repairs before you leap into the restoration process. The early stages of your cleanup efforts must focus on getting everything clean and dry while working with your insurance company and flood cleanup and restoration experts.

Following that, you should address the necessary repairs before restoration. Seal up all leaks and prevent further issues with moisture, especially for future prevention. If you are in a high-risk flood zone, you can investigate the possibility of elevating your home or installing a flood barrier after you take care of those must-do repairs.

Contact ECOS Environmental to guide you through the flood cleanup and restoration process from start to finish.

How to Go About Cleaning Up After a Critter Invasion

Wildlife should stay outside, but they don’t. Mice, squirrels, raccoons, bats and birds decide to take up residence inside in search of warmth, shelter and food. Nesting materials, food, oil, urine and droppings also create a draw for insects as well as encourage other critters to intrude upon your sanctuary. Before you know it, you end up with a critter invasion.

However, wildlife also has a tendency to roast in places that are hard to reach.  That makes it unsafe and unsanitary for home and business owners to DIY the issue. How do you go about cleaning up after critters enter your home or business?

Cleanup Assessment of a Critter Invasion

First, you need to send the professional wildlife technicians where the animals retreat. You must know what level of damage and contamination exist in order to know what the cleanup process will entail. For example, technicians will investigate the building materials and insulation in the attic and follow up with repair recommendations for your approval.

Some areas, such as crawl spaces, present safety and health hazards to owners wanting to assess structures for damage on their own. Grab your flashlight, mask, gloves, old clothes and sturdy boots to take a peek. For a deeper investigation, please call in the experts to protect your health.

Clearing Out and Cleaning Up After a Critter Invasion

The waste and damage left behind by animals can be hard to reach and difficult to handle for the standard vacuum cleaner. Sure, you could try to create a DIY biohazard suit, thinking that duct tape and heavy-duty garbage bags will do, but they won’t do.

It’s not safe to touch animal waste, and you can also breathe in the dust of animal droppings that may spread disease. Many owners will attempt to DIY critter cleanup because they fear it will cost too much money to hire experts. However, insurance typically covers damage done by raccoons and other wildlife. In the case that insurance is an issue, quality providers like ECOS Environmental will make the effort to provide cost-effective solutions for critter cleanup.

ECOS Environmental utilizes industry-leading equipment and techniques to clear out contaminated materials and make repairs. Advanced trade vacuums and breathing equipment allow us to get into those hard to reach places safely and efficiently. You don’t waste money on clean up gear you don’t need. You can focus on your life while the experts take care of the problem.

The cleanup process consists of what you would expect on the surface: removing damaged and soiled building materials, sanitizing, deodorizing and vacuuming. But to truly make your space livable and safe, serious restoration and prevention efforts must be put into effect. Rather than spraying Febreeze around the attic, ECOS Environmental would use an enzyme-based or other specialized cleaners to break down organic matter while deodorizing the area.

You need more than surface clean up and repair. Animals respond strongly to scent. Trace amounts of droppings can and will draw more critters back into entry points that have not been sealed. Then, you are back to square one and end up spending more money. Get vents, ductwork and insulation repaired or replaced. Seal up access points that critters can slip through and get into your building.

Professional Cleanup and Prevention Is Key

Raccoons, squirrels and mice sneak into businesses or homes for shelter. They may take up residence in an open chimney or inside walls, as well as in the attic, deck or porch. As you clean your gutters and do other household maintenance chores, make sure you make efforts to wildlife-proof the building and check for unexpected access points or damage.

Start with the foundation and look for signs of activity from animals. Any exit points for cables, pipes and vents present prospective entry points for wildlife. Also, look at where various building materials join, such as dryer exhaust vents, gaps in brick or window wells. Seal holes that are only a few inches wide with caulk or expandable foam.

You also don’t want to seal critters in with your wildlife proofing efforts. Place a cloth or loose insulation over suspect entry points before you seal up the holes. If you notice the materials have moved, then you will want to contact the professionals to further investigate.

ECOS Environmental has over 13 years of experience in critter cleanup and animal waste removal. Contact us for a cost-effective critter cleanup assessment of your space today.

 

Image: Pexels

Is There Sewage In Your Flood Water?

“It’s just water,” you think. What could go wrong if you just decided to dip a toe into the flood water and work your way to the other side? The water doesn’t look too deep or radioactive from afar.

That standing water looks passive enough, but flood waters pose various risks and may threaten you with injury, chemical hazards and infectious diseases. Don’t try to downplay the risks. Even if the current won’t carry you away, you still need to worry about the possibility of sewage in your flood water.

Sewage Can Leak Into Water During a Flood

According to the Scientific American, sewage floods are more likely to happen in the coming years as heavy rains increase. Between 1895 and 2011, rainfall has increased by two inches each year, and it’s only going to continue rising. In 2016, Baton Rouge, Louisiana faced a deluge of 20 inches of rain within 72 hours, necessitating 30,000 rescues.

Many families end up waiting until the flood hits their front door to evacuate, and then they have to do it by boat. What do they end up seeing and treading through? Raw sewage.

That’s what happened to folks in Baton Rouge. The city’s piping, booster systems and life stations were built around a century ago, and the system couldn’t handle the torrential downpour leading to what is known as a “sanitary sewer overflow” — or unsanitary, rather. Do you know how old the pipes are in your neighborhood? It’s worth looking into.

Cities are responsible for adhering to the Clean Water Act. Older systems are designed with fixed degrees of water and rainfall in mind, but more flexible systems need developing.

Outfall points release the sewage into larger bodies of water, but sometimes, shallow slopes don’t allow for proper flushing. In New York City alone, three billion gallons are released into just one stream — the Newton Creek. Find out about how your city treats and tests its water by visiting your government website and asking direct questions.

How Can You Get Ill From Sewage in Flood Water?

Fortunately, most modern people are good about washing their hands after using the restroom and cautious of spreading possibly infectious viruses and diseases. However, sewage in the flood water can spread fecal-oral diseases from the organisms that are released into the water.

These diseases spread from touching dirty hands to your mouth. Spreading can occur by direct contact with the flood water, sewage or someone who becomes sick with disease. You can also become sick by indirect contact with the flood water when you touch damaged furniture, toys or other items or consume food exposed to sewage-contaminated water.

If infected, you may experience nausea, cramps, fever, headache, vomiting and diarrhea. You should contact your doctor if you experience these symptoms for more than 48 hours.

That’s why it’s important to avoid contact with flood water as a rule of thumb in general. Find a sanitary facility to shower or bathe if you do come into indirect or direct contact with flood water. The incubation period for many fecal-oral diseases consists of one to three days.

Safety Practices Regarding Sewer Contaminated Flood Water

Reduce your risk of contamination and illness by avoiding flood water altogether. If you come in contact with a flooded area, wash yourself with clean soap and water as soon as possible.

Always wash your hands after you use the toilet or eat. Keep your hands under the clean water for at least twenty seconds as you scrub.

For decontamination of objects, in many cases, you can use about eight tablespoons of laundry bleach per gallon of water to preserve some toys and other household objects. Always discard cloth objects, such as clothes, plush toys or pillows.

Use gloves, masks and proper clothing to avoid contact with the water as you clean and throw away the trash. Open up the windows for ventilation.

These tips will help you get through light flooding, but even when the water doesn’t look too deep, you never know what sewage might linger in your flood water — chances are, it’s there.

Don’t risk your health. Contact ECOS Environmental to help clean up, sanitize and restore the area, documenting every step of the process for insurance purposes for you.

Surprising Environmental Disasters Categorized As A Biohazard

It’s easy to come home from work and declare your kitchen as a biohazardous threat. You found the perfect excuse to order pizza. It’s no surprise that a good pizza party heals about anything and elbow grease will handle the rest.

Some of the most benign substances that we consider safe can be categorized as a biohazard under the “right” conditions. Pollutants can contaminate water, so that’s why you’re urged not to tread through flooded areas even when the water level is low. Officials can categorize natural disasters and the spread of highly-infectious diseases as biohazards, but thresholds of seemingly non-threatening weather or materials can present a biohazard under certain conditions.

Contaminated Water and Flooding

That thunderstorm was a little heavier than you thought, huh? Tsunamis and hurricanes — you expect these will devastate an area and contribute to biohazardous conditions. However, standing water caused by flooding and seemingly generic thunderstorms can also quickly turn into a biohazard.

1.1 billion people don’t have access to safe water. One of the biggest health threats to people around the world is Cholera, a fatal illness that can kill people within three hours. Diseases like this commonly spread by contact with water or food contaminated with fecal matter.

Food left to rot and untreated raw sewage may contaminate floodwaters. Other chemical containers can also break down and travel downstream. So, you should never wade through water after a flood until professionals have cleared the area as safe. Water damage creates perfect conditions for mold growth which can develop in under 48 hours and adversely affect the immune system of even typically healthy individuals for the long-term.

Health Epidemics: Sharps Waste and Bodily Fluids

You’re familiar with Ebola and Marburg as examples of viral diseases that are highly contagious. You can contract these diseases through contaminated needles and transmitted through contact with bodily organs and fluids. These threats are considered a level four biohazard, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). However, outside of a health epidemic, natural disasters can also affect the homes of patients. Dispose of sharps waste carefully as they can escalate to being considered a biohazard.

Pathogens can linger as long as 16 days outside the human body. You can find blood-borne pathogens like Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, H1N1 (bird flu), HIV, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) and other communicable diseases. A pattern of folks being resistant to antibiotics could merit a potential biohazard as a communicable disease continues to spread, and Staph lives everywhere.

Coverslips, glass sides, needles, scalpels and IV tubing with an attached needle all count as biohazardous sharps waste — a type of biomedical waste that can include anything used to puncture the skin. This type of waste can also include scissors, razors and X-ACTO blades.

People generate sharps waste outside a hospital setting. For example, insulin-dependent people with diabetes often need to dispose of their sharps waste in the home or when traveling. So, many larger institutions and airports offer sharps containers for proper waste disposal inside restrooms. At home, diabetics sometimes substitute more hard containers for needle disposal, such as emptied milk jugs.

Food Poisoning and Reports of Decaying Carcasses

It’s just a dead animal on the side of the road, right? The bacteria involved in decomposition aren’t commonly harmful. However, decomposing bodies sometimes contaminate drinking water or transmit infectious disease, if the animal or human was infected. Even bedding materials used by animals infected with pathogenic organisms are biohazardous.

Biohazards in various foods lead to major recalls and health concerns. People typically think of food poisoning as something that puts you out of work for a day or two and that these recalls only affect a few hundred people who have accessed the contaminated food. In 2003, Mad Cow Disease reached the U.S. when detected in one imported cow from Canada, costing the U.S. $4.7 billion and an over two-year ban on Canadian beef. Fortunately, this was caught before people were adversely affected.

You can contract pathogens and resulting diseases during any stage of dealing with meat. That may mean it occurs on the cutting board or through a simple kiss from an animal you care for. As the population rises, more people rely on processing plants and other resources for manufacturing convenience foods. Cutting corners risks infection by foodborne illness.

In and of themselves, a weather event, water, deceased animal or person, common bacteria, food or medical supplies may present little to no threat to your health or safety. Under the right conditions or severity, these become elements of disasters that escalate to biohazards.

ECOS Environmental experts have helped clean up blood, bodily fluids and other commonly known potential biohazards for years. However, some disasters can catch you by surprise. ECOS will disinfect and reinstate a safe environment for you correctly under any concerning circumstances.

professional carpet cleaning

How Often Should Carpets Be Professionally Cleaned?

Carpets add texture, color and comfort to your space. However, carpet fibers retain grime, dirt and pet hair over time, hiding them from view. Professional carpet cleaning can restore the appearance of your carpets and protect your health.

One study found that the typical indoor carpet is 4,000 more times grimier than a toilet seat. That adds up to 200,000 bacteria per square inch. It almost makes you almost want to sleep with your socks on forever. Yikes!

Frequent cleaning and vacuuming can help mitigate the bacteria, but a professional carpet cleaning gets deep into carpet fibers to eliminate bacteria from the “root.” So, how often should carpets be professionally cleaned?

From DIY to Professional Carpet Cleaning

At what degree of dirtiness do you call in a professional to clean the carpets? Is it when you can’t get the red wine stain out, or when there’s a perceptible, lingering odor? Let’s break it down by cleaning stages.

1. How often should you vacuum?

For light to medium soiling, vacuum your carpets one to two times a week. For the typical household, it’s best to vacuum two times a week, especially if you have kids, pets, smokers or messy employees in a similarly high traffic area.

2. How often should you spot clean?

Spot cleaning prevents the buildup of grime and bacteria and is not cutting corners when practiced regularly.

Spot clean light, medium and heavy soiling as soon as you noticed spots and keep up treatments daily. Stubborn or toxic spots require professional cleaning, especially in the case of a flood whether caused by bursting pipes or a hurricane.

Does anyone have specific allergies? Then, you may require more frequent cleaning passes with green cleaning products. For heavily traffic areas, depending on the degree of soiling, you should clean your carpets at least three times a week. You may need to vacuum or spot treat areas daily.

3. So, how often should your carpets be professionally cleaned?

We generally recommend that you professionally clean your carpets at least once a year. It mitigates long-term damage to your carpets and health as a result of letting problem areas go. Those spots add up — especially when a natural disaster strikes.

When water soaks into a carpet, it can spur on the growth of mold and bacteria — not to mention inviting bed bugs and other pests to come to live with you.

What Are the Benefits of Professional Carpet Cleaning?

Regularly vacuuming and spot cleaning can help combat dust, dirt, food particles, pet dander and other particles that transfer to the carpet. These particles need to be removed regularly, or they can cause odors, stains and permanent damage — to the carpet and potentially your health.

“Seasonal” allergies may not be seasonal. If you let these particles build up in your carpet fibers, the spread of bacteria can adversely affect your health.

A professional carpet cleaning also extends the longevity of your carpets and improves their appearance. Life gets too busy and rushing to get things done can put such chores at the bottom of your to-do list. So, when you let those chores go, it’s easier and cost-effective to bring in a professional for restorative servicing.

You put money into your carpets, and their appearance adds to the impression of your residence or company. A grimy carpet makes guests cringe and can quickly send them running for the front door. The buildup of bacteria-causing particles can wear away at the carpet’s structure and deteriorate the carpet. After a while, you may need new carpet installed rather than a professional cleaning.

Vacuuming, spot cleaning and some over-the-counter treatments can maintain your carpets for general cleaning. However, the long-term health and appearance of your carpets are a concern that needs to make your yearly to-do list.

Over time, grime and bacteria build up to destroy the structure of your carpets and spread. That’s when you definitely need to call in the professionals. ECOS Environmental uses safe and green cleaning products and techniques to deep clean your carpets and restore them to their original beauty. Contact ECOS today 24/7 at 888-491-4652 to speak with us about your professional carpet cleaning needs.