Category Archives: Water Damage Restoration

It’s Personal…

What’s More Personal Than a Person’s Home?

HomeWe all hope that we’ll never need the services of a professional restoration company. The reality is that you or someone you know will have a situation that requires them. Why should Whalen Restoration Services be the first choice for Cape Cod, MA property owners? Most people want to work with an established company that has a great reputation. They want the company to be licensed and insured, the workers to be experienced and trained, and the best tools available to be used with up-to-date techniques. There isn’t a restoration company that won’t claim to have all of these positive attributes. Our special difference: Whether the project involves a residential property or a commercial property, our President, Bill Whalen, is tuned in to the needs of the owner.

Bill ensures that all of us at Whalen Restoration Services realize that there is nothing more personal than someone’s home. If put in the same situation we would want to be back in our own homes as soon as possible, and we work diligently to be sure that our clients are. Business owners have additional concerns, specifically the expense of being unable to operate the business while the restoration is ongoing. We helped one restaurant owner who had a fire just before a major holiday, and another restaurant owner whose building was hit by a car at the height of the summer season. Anyone who is familiar with Cape Cod knows that being closed during those times would be devastating for business! We also saved business for a hotel where, had we not responded in the fashion that we did, a wedding would have been forfeited. Our timely restorations also saved the insurance companies significantly in all of these cases. Bill’s empathy and understanding for the business owner contributes immensely to the successful completion of their restoration projects.

Many of us here at Whalen Restoration Services have homes and families of our own, so we completely understand that it is personal to have us in yours. This business is even family owned and operated. These are huge reasons why we’re committed to restoring every residential and commercial property to its pre-loss condition in a timely fashion with quality and courtesy.

Want to learn more about Bill and our office staff? Read on!

Burst Pipes! Preventing, Thawing & Fixing

Brrr, what a cold snap!

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Not only is it below 32 degrees F, with the wind chill and the heavy rain yesterday we have a recipe for severe pipe freezing. You can take a few simple steps to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting, but if it’s too late there are other steps you can take to lessen the damage they cause.

To Prevent Frozen Pipes

  • If the property is only a seasonal property used in the warmer months, winterize it when not in use.
  • If you’re going away for a few days turn the water main off and open your faucets.
  • Keep your thermostat no lower than 65 degrees F day and night. Make sure you have enough fuel for your heating system, and have the system checked annually by a licensed professional.
  • Keep all your interior doors open so warm air can easily circulate. Open doors to cabinets that have plumbing running in them.
  • Make sure any exterior walls that have plumbing in them are insulated.
  • For pipes in un-heated areas, wrap them with insulation. Self-sealing foam insulation is easy to install, comes in different sizes to suit your pipes and is very affordable! Don’t forget the corners. They make special pieces for those, or you can miter the corners of straight pieces and foam tape the joint.
  • Seal any holes to the outside of your home (like where you may have had to drill for cable wire access) with expanding foam or calking.
  • Before freezing temperatures hit, make sure to shut off exterior water supplies like outdoor spigots and showers.
  • Install frost-free spigots. After installation you should still shut off the water supply and drain them before the temperatures start to dip below freezing.
  • SMART Tip: Install water detection sensors and/or smart thermostats. Something to keep an eye on things while you can’t, and alert you if something does go wrong.

To Thaw Frozen Pipes

Maybe the cold snap came as a surprise, or maybe the heating system failed at just the wrong time. Whatever caused the pipes to freeze, there are things you can do to property thaw them and hopefully avoid any breaks.

  • If you turn on the faucet and water doesn’t flow out, the plumbing is probably frozen. Leave the faucet open.
  • If you’re not sure where the freeze is, or if you can’t get to the frozen area, call a licensed plumber.
  • If you know where the freeze is and can easily access it, make sure to thaw it slowly and very carefully. Start by turning up the thermostat to increase warmth in the area.
  • SLOWLY apply heat to the frozen section of the pipe. A hair dryer would work well. You could also use a heat gun, but NEVER use an open flame device. Once the water is able to start working its way past the freeze it will help unfreeze the section. If you’re successful you should hear the water finally running out of the open faucet. Double check for any leaks!

What to do with Burst Pipes

First off, don’t panic. These things happen, and there are professionals who can help you with this exact situation.

  • Start by turning the water off at the main. If you can’t get to the main, you can call the town and request that it be shut off at the street. Assess if your heat and electricity are working (as long as you can do so safely!).
  • Call a licensed plumber to fix the broken pipe.
  • Call a property damage restoration specialist to help you with emergency mitigation services (Whalen Restoration Services to the rescue!). You’ll want the water extracted, any wet structure treated with an antimicrobial treatment, and you may need some drying equipment to run for days.
  • If the water has affected your electricity, call an electrician to get that back up and running so you can power lights and drying equipment.
  • If the water has affected your heating system (or if the system failing was what allowed the pipes to freeze) have a professional assess it and get it back up and running as soon as possible to prevent any additional damage from the cold.
  • Call your insurance company and report the claim.

Now these may not be in the exact order that you’ll need to do them, but it’s a great checklist.

Questions? Concerns? Reach out to us! We’re happy to help!

Protecting your home from flooding

From August of 2017 to spring of 2018 we saw more groundwater damage on the Cape than ever before. Most of the homes and businesses were unprepared for the events that happened making property losses devastating to owners. Now that it has happened it is very real to the local owners that even if their basements never flooded before it doesn’t mean they won’t, and severe damage can happen within a matter of minutes. We hope the information below helps more people prepare for that possibility, minimize damage and protect their belongings.

Flood facts to keep in mind:

  • Groundwater can cover a variety of actual sources like rain, storm/ocean surge or high water tables.
  • Damage caused by groundwater is often not covered by a typical homeowners insurance policy.
  • Flood policies often exclude personal items stored in the basement. If you have a flood policy make sure to double check the exclusions and have them clarified by your agent.
  • If your basement floods because the water tables are very high you may not be able to do much about the water until the levels have subsided. If you pump the water out into your yard it will probably seep right back in unless the pumping is continuous.
  • You do have options! Just because you take on groundwater under severe conditions doesn’t mean you have to sell and move on. You may have to invest in waterproofing solutions but it can be maintained.

Recommendations for properties in flood-prone areas

  • Raise basement appliances and contents up off the ground. Put them up on blocks, shelves or pallets. You could even install a false floor over the slab to allow for water to drain below to a sump pump.
  • Install a sump pump! Some basements may need more than one. Regardless of how many you install make sure you set up a battery back-up or generator. Last year some owners had pumps but they needed electricity to run and the storms knocked out the power for days so the areas flooded. Odds are that when the flooding is bad so isn’t the weather and power outages will be likely.
  • Properly grade your landscaping. You’re bound to see problems if you have a yard that directs water towards your basement. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that the soil around the foundation slopes 4-6 inches for a distance of 3′ from the foundation walls.
  • Check your downspouts. Just like with the landscaping you want to make sure your down spouts are directing the water away from the house. Water should be directed at least 3′ from the foundation.
  • Install an interior drainage system to give the water a place to go. There are several different kinds to suit different types of foundations.
  • Seal your basement walls. This and many of the other options listed here can be taken care of by basement waterproofing professionals. Do your research, read reviews and get quotes from a few places before deciding on the company to help you with your unique waterproofing needs.
  • Make sure you dehumidify. This is important whether you sustain flooding or not, but certainly a necessity if you do. Anything that gets wet needs to be properly dried to avoid mold growth.
  • For more severe cases like properties that take on storm surges that cause feet of water to quickly collect you may want to look into more drastic measures such as raising the entire house.

Flooding on Cape Cod

We’ve seen many storms and some pretty nasty winters the last few years here on Cape Cod, but last week was certainly something different for the area. While locals braced themselves for a storm after sustaining a long cold snap they didn’t quite expect to be facing such a major flood situation.

Provincetown’s high tide just after noon measured a whole 4’ higher than the previous tide, hitting a total height of over 10’ and turning Commercial Street into a river. Not only did the tides raise, the groundwater level rose so places like dirt crawlspaces flooded and all of the melting snow didn’t drain completely into the ground. Some areas reported surges that exceeded those of the historic Blizzard of ’78!

Eastham, MA Storm Surge Flooding

Not only were areas of the Cape being devastated with storm surge and groundwater damage, the warmer temperatures thawed homes with frozen pipes causing water damage in other areas.  We can’t stress enough the importance of winterizing your home if you’re going to be away for an extended period of time. Even if it’s just a short while, make sure someone checks in on it, that your water is off and that your heat is on. Open your cabinets under sinks to allow for the warm air to flow to the plumbing. If you’re away often, purchase a water detector for damage prone areas like the basement to alert you as soon as water is detected, and Wi-Fi enabled thermostats so you can monitor the temperature in the house.  These things help you act fast when disaster strikes so you can minimize the amount of damage you sustain.

Complicating matters even further were the power outages. Most heating systems rely on electricity to work so when the storm knocked out power to areas it also knocked out the heat. Later that night temperatures dropped to a deep freeze.  It was a recipe for disaster. Pipes were even freezing in homes that were primary to the residents and the heat was on. It was really that cold, and the wind was that strong that it froze pipes in their exterior walls and ceilings.

Although there are a lot of areas where homeowners are required to purchase flood insurance because of their location on FEMA’s flood maps those policies don’t cover damaged contents. Think of all of the things that people keep in their basements; seasonal clothes, pantry items, extra furniture, etc. Finished basements could be entire bedrooms, offices and TV rooms. Flood insurance at least covers damage to burners and electrical equipment, but the cost to not only replace but dispose of all of the contents can be in the thousands.

“25% of homes with flood claims each year are in low risk zones.”

It has been a real eye opener. As restoration efforts continue and our crews remain available round-the-clock for emergency services we hope that everyone really takes a look at the measures they have in place for such disasters to protect themselves, their business and their homes from future events. It’s obvious the weather patterns continue to change, and the storms seem to be getting stronger, so please, stay safe out there and make sure you prepare for all of the possibilities.

January Home Maintenance

Happy New Year! I love January for the fresh start it brings to mind. Start your year off right by updating your new calendar with your scheduled appointments and tasks, and tackling this month’s list of your home to-do’s early! You’ve got this!

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  • Test all of your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Keep an eye out for bargains on discontinued appliances and tools. Before buying, make sure the warranties are still valid.
  • Organize your home improvement files. Review warranties and product manuals for recommenced maintenance for furnaces, equipment, appliances, and tools. Update your calendar to keep everything on schedule.
  • Update your home inventory list. Add new items that you received as holiday gifts. Photographs to go with your room-by-room list will be very helpful in the event of a fire, flood, or other disaster.
  • Review your homeowner’s policy. Make sure you have enough coverage under your contents section (your updated inventory list comes in to play here), and be aware of the different deductibles you may be subject to. For instance, a wind deductible is usually higher than a standard policy deductible, and groundwater is often not a covered loss.
  • Remove drain traps from under your sinks and clean them thoroughly along with the pop-up drain plugs. Test your water heater temperature pressure relief valve by lowering the test lever and allowing some water to flow through the pipe. If no water flows or if it only trickles out, replace the valve.

Here’s your printable January Home Maintenance Checklist