Are you facing a disaster in your home? Do you need to find restoration services for your Northern Virginia home right now?
If you are a homeowner or property manager who needs residential or commercial restoration services in Northern Virginia, you are in the right place. If you need to hire a qualified, licensed, bonded and professional restoration services company in Northern Virginia that can handle major problems like fire, flood and mold, first you need the right education to help you make an informed decision about who to hire. To help homeowners and property managers become more informed, and as part of NOVA NARPM’s informational spotlight series, we recently interviewed Joe Dudziak of Servpro of Dale City/Lake Ridge and Servpro of Woodbridge/Lorton to help Northern Virginia homeowners and landlords become better educated about local restoration services in Northern Virginia. ServPro is locally owned and operated since 2004 and provides restoration services for fire, smoke and water damage as well as services like water removal, dehumidification, catastrophic storm response, duct cleaning, mold remediation, biohazard and crime scene cleanup and more. They also offer regular maintenance services such as carpet cleaning, drapes, upholstery, floors and full deodorization for example.
Joe Dudziak, account manager of two ServPro franchises in Northern Virginia offers expert insight about restoration services, and provides consumers with the important information they need in order to make an educated decision when choosing a restorations services company in Northern Virginia. He tells NOVA NARPM, “When you call us for water damage for example, it can be 2 a.m., doesn’t matter, one of our customer service representatives (CSRs) is on call and they’re going to pick up the phone. You’re not going to get a voice automated system. We’re going to answer that call and we’re going to dispatch within an hour or less. We handle emergency calls 365 days a year being nights, holidays and weekends and even Christmas Day.” In Dudziak’s recent interview with NOVA NARPM, he offers straightforward advice about how to respond to a major home disaster, information about preventive maintenance and what to look for in a great restoration services company.
Real Advice From A Qualified Restoration Service Expert
NOVA NARPM: Let’s talk about the major problems a homeowner may have to deal with. What’s a typical scenario? Can you walk us through what happens?
Joe Dudziak: Fire, flood and mold are the big ones. I remember one time my wife and I were in the house and I was barbecuing and she was making some French fries. She momentarily took her eyes off the frying pot–she was watching Jeopardy (chuckling)–and the pot caught on fire. I saw it out of the corner of my eye and I ran in and was able to put a lid on it and knock down the flash point. A grease fire like that is very common. Dryer fires are also actually very common because people forget to clean the lint filter. Maintaining that tray is critical and you need to clean it every single dryer load. It can cause a major fire that can take out most of the house. A lot of people only clean it on occasion but you can’t do that. You have to clean it every time. You also really need to change the dryer vent once a year at least. It’s really simple to do. Home Depot and Lowe’s sell very simple applications that aid homeowners with hooking up a new vent. With water damage there are so many scenarios that cause damage like backed up toilets and leaks. For us, we try to be especially fast on calls for people that have hardwood floors because water and wood don’t mix. If the water gets underneath it it’s usually going to warp the wood in either a concave or convex manner, so we try to get to those problems as quickly as possible. And of course there’s mold, which often occurs when the water damage isn’t found quickly enough or isn’t known. Mold situations can be a real problem to a lot of homeowners. And sometimes people try to handle water damage or mold themselves, which often makes the situation worse. When it comes to major problems like these, it really is best to hire a professional. If you want to change the carpet, that you that you can do, but major water damage, you need professional help.
NN: What advice can you give to homeowners in terms of acting quickly in these circumstances? What’s the protocol you recommend?
JD: Well, people panic, they really do and that’s natural. Some of these things are pretty scary. I tell people to just take a deep breath like anything else, and eat an elephant one bite at a time. As bad as it looks, just know that it’s going to get cleaned up. And try to remember that there’s help and a company like ours, for example, is going to take care of you. Our mantra is ‘like it never happened!’ I mean, I recently had a sewage backup from my toilet and I was stressed about it. But you know, the insurance adjuster got in and we handled it. These things happen.
So, in these major situations, if you have an insurance company, call them. Typically the insurance company will give you a choice of who to work with. Some companies respond differently. Our techs for example act as junior insurance adjusters in that they assist with all the picture taking, the measurements, inventory, listings and so forth so that you, the homeowner, don’t have too much to do. In terms of acting quickly, of course, respond to the emergency first by calling 911 (if it’s an emergency). If it’s a water problem, if you can safely get to the main shut off valve in the house, you need to do that as quickly as possible and shut down the water. In that scenario you’re going to have to also call a plumber. You know, you gotta put the horse before the cart. As far as mold, that is something that requires professionals and homeowners have to be very careful when it comes to mold. A lot of times we get a call for mold but it’s not mold. Instead it’s dirt, mildew or white efflorescence powder (like on a chimney). We get a lot of calls from homeowners who have gotten quotes for mold removal from other companies when they don’t in fact have mold. For us, our reputation matters and we’re going to be honest with customers. For that reason, we’re very well-liked in the community and we want to keep that reputation going strong. It’s important that you find the right company to work with. Don’t do the fly-by-night thing and get somebody that doesn’t have insurance or bonding because you want to make sure that the people that are coming into your house are good people that are fully licensed, insured, bonded and certified.
NN: We get some serious storms here in Northern Virginia. Can you talk to me about catastrophic storm and major event response? Can you tell a story of an experience?
JD: A company like ours has an emergency response team and no matter the situation, we are there. I mean, the best example I can give is 9/11, we were there and we were at the Pentagon. We managed the fire and water response when the terrorists attacked the Pentagon. Of course that’s a very large building and it was all hands on deck. We had many trucks there, like 18-wheelers loaded with smaller trucks. It was a multitude of franchises basically there to help as quickly as possible. In any kind of extreme situation, we’re going to get the call and we’ll be there. In major situations we often work side-by-side with competitors. Like I said, we have an all hands on deck mentality.
NN: Mold is a fairly common problem. Can you offer local homeowners advice about how to deal with mold problems?
JD: Well, we try to offer as many recommendations as we can so we can hopefully save a disaster from happening. With mold, a lot of people will notice an odor or smell in the house and assume its mold. It may or may not be mold so definitely get it checked by a professional. There could be a lot of different variables at play. Sometimes people have pets and don’t clean their air ducts for like 15 or 20 years and all that byproduct goes into the duct work and is constantly recirculated by your air handler–that can cause an odor too. We’ve found dead animals like squirrels and raccoons in the duct work decomposing and that’s extreme. Unfortunately, these are also common scenarios where unethical companies tend to take the most advantage of homeowners, so you have to be really careful when it comes to mold. To help prevent mold, a lot of home maintenance has to happen to the exterior of the home, like keeping gutters clean because leaves and debris build up which leads to water damage that can then lead to mold problems. Keep your lawn manicured and bushes trimmed back away from the house to help prevent water from collecting and bugs from entering the house. Also, be sure to clear away debris from the heat pump so that it circulates properly.
NN: Can you talk about the Restore vs. Replace mentality? What does that mean?
JD: Well, for us, we do a lot of business with insurance companies and they’re primary function is, of course, to keep costs down. So what happens if a house floods for example–typically we’ll look to cut-out the bad carpet for example and try to dry it out quickly. This approach allows the claim to be as low cost as it can possibly be. That’s essentially ‘restoration.’ A ‘restoration contractor’ is different and they typically pull everything out and replace. Sometimes restoration from a disaster isn’t possible though, like delamination for example. This is usually from really bad water damage and happens when the carpet pile separates from the glue. If that happens, you’d have to replace the flooring because it’s damage beyond use. That’s just one example.
NN: There are a lot of companies out there for consumers to choose from? What is your advice to them when it comes to choosing the right company? What criteria should they look for?
JD: Well, of course, we’d say to check out the websites and read reviews. We recommend looking for a company that’s been around for a long time. ServPro, for example, have been around for over 40 years. You want a company that has a good reputation, has the knowledge and has the training to handle the situation. You also want to make sure the company you hire has the manpower to handle a problem.
Servpro of Dale City/Lake Ridge and Servpro of Woodbridge/Lorton have been serving the Northern Virginia market since 2004 and specializes in the cleanup and restoration of residential and commercial property after a fire, smoke or water damage. Servpro of Dale City/Lake Ridge and Servpro of Woodbridge/Lorton serves Northern Virginia and does not go into Washington D.C To learn more about them visit www.servprodalecitylakeridge.com and www.servprowoodbridgelorton.com and find them on Facebook @SERVPRO Dale City/Lake Ridge/Woodbridge & Lorton. Also, be sure to connect with NOVA NARPM on Facebook at NOVANARPM.