Let’s talk snot!

Working sick spreads the fluAs business managers and owners, we’re used to watching costs. We track our department expenses, office space and equipment costs, and some of us even guard the thermostat with a tricked out lock system! But what about the expenses that are “snot” so easy to track?

I’m talking of course about the cold, flu, and crud that goes around this season. Consider this statistic from the CDC:

Each year, on average, 5 percent to 20 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu, tens of thousands are hospitalized and thousands die from flu-related illness. This costs an estimated $10.4 billion a year in direct medical expenses and an additional $16.3 billion in lost earnings annually. (CDC Website)

And that’s just the flu. Think about how many times you’ve had to send someone home because of some other office crud. It’s expensive and good business owners and managers are responsible for providing a better environment for our employees and customers.

Sick days prevent spreading the fluPut a stop to snot.

It’s our responsibility to encourage healthy practices in the workplace. One way is by making it easy for employees to stay home when they’re sick – we don’t want them to pass on the snot! Offer the option to work from home or provide sick pay so your employees are motivated by recuperation instead of the financial burden of being out of the office.

Of course, prevention is key, so also consider these important tips:

    • Wipe it. Use a disinfectant – such as microban or a vinegar and water mix – to clean all hand touched surfaces before, during and after work. Don’t forget the coffee pot, either!
    • Flu shots. Encourage your employees to get a flu shot. Make it easy by making it free or reduced cost – and pay for their time to get the shot!
    • Clean the carpets and upholstery. Think of everything that gets tracked into your office. Without regular maintenance, that crud stays in the carpet and can aggravate allergies or invite other unwelcome illness.
    • Filters. Change the furnace filter to increase the airflow and trap the dust that contain pollutants and bacteria.
    • Fresh air. Get fresh air into your building when possible. The air quality inside buildings can become contaminated and stale, so replacing with fresh air helps act as a filter.

We’re here to help.

You may think it strange to get an email from us about flu and cold prevention. But you know what? That’s what makes us different – we’re not just selling you our services. Of course, if you do find your home or office has been damaged by water, fire, or wind, we hope you’ll think of us first.


What To Expect In A Good Estimator

The role of an estimator. In the water damage restoration industry an estimator is the individual who helps you estimate the costs of damage to your home or business.  They need to have a complete knowledge of residential and commercial construction, the effects of water damage and whether something can be restored or if it needs replaced.

 Once a complete scope or evaluation is complete then they need to have idea on costs of labor, materials and any unforeseen items that may come up.  This will help with the communication and coordination of completing your project.  Everyone has heard of escalating costs on a project that was unexpected that created a burden upon the person responsible.  If the insurance company is paying for the damage and it’s a covered claim then your estimator plays a major role in making sure that your costs are being covered by the insurance company and not you.

 The insurance adjuster’s role is to interpret the loss according to your insurance policy and adjust the cost of the claim.  It is crucial that the estimator have the ability to estimate the costs for the project and make sure the insurance company will pay the associated costs and not let the homeowner or building owner with additional costs.  The importance of a competent estimator is crucial to the success of your project being finished timely and on budget.

What qualities make a good estimator? The qualities you should look for in a good estimator:

  • Integrity – Do they seem trustworthy? Do they provide you with documentation of what was agreed upon?
  • Communication – Do they help you to understand what your job entails and what to expect? Do they take time to listen and answer your questions?
  • Value – Do they ensure the work will be of quality for the price you are paying?
  • Accountability – You will have to hold them accountable for not doing the things that you told them to do.
  • Customer Service – Are they friendly? Do they follow up with you throughout the project?
  • Knowledge – They need to have a solid background in construction. This seems simple but it is very important for them to have that knowledge in order to build a good estimate.
  • Experience– The individual must have experience, training and longevity in the line of work you are hiring them for.  The last thing you want is a green horn in charge of your project to build their resume upon your life interruption with this disaster.
  • Likable– You must like them in order to trust them, if you don’t like them regardless of their reputation you won’t have a great experience.

When an estimator comes to your home or business the first thing they need to do is write a scope of the job. What does this mean? A scope is a written description of what damages have occurred and the necessary work to restore the home to pre-loss condition. The estimator will evaluate the loss, take measurements, and sketch the project. The estimator will then take that information and use a software program to create a estimate for the insurance company.

Once you have an agreement for the contractor to do the work. The first thing you should expect is to sign a contract. The next step is the estimator will provide you with a schedule of work and keep you informed of progress. This process can take a while depending on the size of the project and it can be frustrating at times. The estimator should make you feel important and that your project is a priority to them. The third step is for the estimator is to live up to the expectations that he/she set and hold them accountable.

A great estimator will make your project run smooth and according to budget.  When hiring a company, take these tips into your decision process and you will have a great experience from the disaster forced upon you.


Understand These Common and Avoidable Water Damage Causes

Catastrophic floods may grab all the headlines, but more common water damage from plumbing systems ends up costing homeowners, renters, and landlords billions of dollars every year. Water can cause serious problems when left unattended and create thousands of dollars of damage within hours. However, water damage doesn’t necessarily have to occur if there’s an issue in your home or business. Avoiding water damage is all in timing and treating it correctly right away.

The average American uses between 80 to 100 gallons of water a day, and statistics indicate that over 1 million incidents involving water damage occur every year in the United States. Most of this damage is caused by these common culprits:

  • Improper installation
  • Defective parts (including poor quality)
  • Defective seals
  • High pressure over time
  • Breaks, corrosion, or cracks over time
  • Settling or shifting of structure or foundation over years
  • Damage by occupants
  • Clogging from build up over time
  • Rust
  • Freezing or melting (heat from appliances or electricity)

Your number one method of defense is to be aware. If you see any water outside of where it’s supposed to be, don’t ignore it. Find the source of the water leak and get it fixed as soon as possible.

UltraClean believes in prevention. Rather than putting thousands of dollars into fixing water damage, a better solution is to help home and business owners prevent those same damages from happening in the first place, and that’s what we aim to do.

For further information on preventing water damage in your home or business, read these other blog posts for more detailed tips to keep your structure safe:

What’s Causing All This Water Damage?
9 Tips to Protect Your Home From Freezing Temperatures
Do you have icicles hanging from your roof?

UltraClean is Flooded!

Phone calls are literally flooding in at UltraClean. Residents all over Boise and the Treasure Valley are having water damage issues.

What’s causing all the damage?

Frozen Pipes

Burst pipes are the number one reason people are calling us right now. With the inconsistent subfreezing temperatures, the sporadic snow fall, the slick ice, and dangerous freezing rain we’ve been seeing a lot of water damage as a result from pipes freezing and then bursting.

A pipe that has burst can dump out 200-300 gallons of water an hour. To put that number in perspective, think about a hot tub. In less than 2 hours, you could fill an 8×8 6 person hot tub with the water that has flooded your home.

Ice Dams and Icicles

We have received several phone calls about water damage on the ceiling. If you’re noticing any discoloration, odor, or leaks in that area, you could have an ice dam on your roof.

Ice dams occur after a heavy snowfall and several days of freezing temperatures. Warm air from inside your home leaks into the attic and warms the underside of the roof. This causes the accumulated snow and ice on the roof to melt. The melted water then drains along the roof, under the snow, until it reaches the cold overhang. The overhang tends to be at the same temperature as the outdoors, and the melted water refreezes to form an ice dam and icicles.

The ice dam can cause damage to your roof, which will result in water leaks to the inside of your home or business. They can be very dangerous, especially when super slick freezing rain has put an extra layer of ice on everything.

Washing Machines

If you took an average of the whole year, the most common water damage that homeowners deal with is from their washing machines – it is the most common claim filed on a homeowners policy. Water damage caused from a washing machine leak is very expensive and very messy to clean up.

Here are some washing machine flood protection strategies; starting with the least expensive:

  • Turn the water off to your washing machine after every load.
    Cost: Free
  • Get a washer floor tray – If you can’t afford to replace or repair your leaking washing machine right away or want to protect against future leaks, slide a water catching tray under your washing machine to catch drips and leaks. It’s a simple, inexpensive way to prevent water damage to your floor from a leaky washing machine.
    Cost: around $20.
  • Replace the water supply hoses – Over time, water supply hoses can become brittle and burst. Check them periodically and replace your old hoses with the new auto-shut-off connector hoses. They protect against catastrophic water damage by automatically shutting off the water supply to the washing machine if excess water flow is sensed.
    Cost: $20 each.
  • Install a flood protection device – An automatic water leak detection device prevents flooding by immediately shutting off both the hot and cold water supply to the washing machine when sensors detect a water leak. These devices are quick and easy to install by homeowners and provide 24/7 protection against damage caused by washing machine floods. Some options even sound an audible alarm.
    Cost: less than $150.
  • Install an automatic washing machine water shutoff valve and leak sensor – This “intelligent” valve does it all to protect against catastrophic water damage from a burst inlet hose connected to a washing machine that is in use or unattended. It allows water to flow only when it senses that the washing machine is turned on and stops water from flowing if the machine is turned off. It also stops water from flowing if it senses excessive water flow or detects a leak. Easy to hook-up yourself.
    Cost: under $200.

If you find yourself confronted with a leaky washing machine or a burst pipe, contact UltraClean. With our 24/7 service response, we will resolve the issue, remove all water damage, and have your home or business back to normal quickly and cost-effectively.

How to Prevent Water Damage From Snow Melt and Rain

Treasury Valley winters are known for subfreezing temperatures, freezing rain, snowfall, and ice. With these cold, wet conditions throughout the winter, residents of Boise, Meridian, and surrounding areas may be facing a risk of flooding and water damage from thick slush and quickly melting snow and ice as temperatures rise.

To avoid water damage and expensive repairs, try these simple steps to keep your home safe:

  • Remove large accumulations of snow from areas where it could melt and enter your home.
    Shovel snow away from the perimeter of your home. Also consider clearing decks, patios, and driveways that slope toward the house.
  • Clean snow and debris from ground drains and gutters. Make sure drains near your home, typically around the driveway, as well as gutters are unblocked. Ice and compact snow can create dams that keep water from draining properly.
  • Consider where snow will go when it melts. The combination of melting snow plus rain can create extreme runoff conditions. When shoveling snow on your property, think about which direction it will drain when it melts. You may want to dig channels to divert water to the nearest drain.
  • Do not get on a ladder and do not attempt to climb onto your roof to remove snow. If you see the snow melting and dropping off the edge of your roof, that’s a good sign. It indicates ice dams are probably not developing. In extreme circumstances, if ice dams need to be removed from your gutters, call a professional water damage company.

You should also know what categories of water damage are covered by your insurance policy when considering home maintenance. Not all household water damage is treated alike. For example, freezing pipes may be assessed differently than seeping snow. Check your policy or call your local agent to determine what water damage is covered for your home.

Most importantly, at the first sign of dampness inside your home, contact UltraClean immediately for professional help before long-term damage sets in.