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Winter weather allows for water to penetrate foundation imperfections

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Fluctuating temperatures and precipitation can allow for water to penetrate foundation imperfections. Water follows the path of least resistance which can push groundwater through a hole or crack in the foundation. It is important to check exterior walls of a home or business for any moisture and a slow leak can turn into big damages. Discovering a problem with the foundation of a building can be an unsettling situation, but Team Newman is here with some helpful information so you can be educated about what to do with if you suspect water is coming through a foundation crack.

 

Vertical cracks are the most common – As a home settles, it is typical for vertical cracks to develop. Vertical cracks are found most often in basement walls and are typically the easiest type of foundation crack to fix. The main issue that comes with vertical cracks is how they allow for water to penetrate the foundation. However, a foundation waterproofing injection can solve the issue and prevent interior water damage.

 

Diagonal crack may point to bigger issues – If a foundation crack has an angle from 30-75 degrees, it is considered a diagonal crack. These can be caused from the foundation settling in an uneven manner. If water does not drain properly from one side of the house, it can cause the soil to compact more on one side and create a diagonal foundation crack. Along with fixing the crack, additional steps may need to be considered to ensure the cause of the uneven foundation settling is addressed. Landscaping and drainage issues often need to be addressed. A diagonal crack can also require a structural fix to ensure the integrity of the foundation.

 

Horizontal crack can cause issues with structural integrity – This is the most serious type of foundation crack. Pressure on the foundation wall can cause it to bow inwards. This can lead to the failure of the foundation and collapse of the property. It is a very serious issue that needs to be addressed right away. Fixing a horizontal crack is often a major project. It can involve installing anchors or piers to prevent any further bowing to prevent the foundation from failing.

 

Fix it when you have the chance – When a crack is discovered, it is best to seal it right away. If a crack is left unattended, it can grow and lead to a more costly repair. A horizontal foundation crack may require that the property be evacuated until it can be fixed. Many vertical cracks can be sealed with a waterproofing injection. Horizontal and diagonal cracks may need a structural fix if recommended by a structural engineer. 

 

Be on the lookout for signs of a structural issue – Water or added humidity in a basement or crawl space is a common sign that there is a foundation crack allowing for water penetration. Pungent or musty odors are also an indication that water is entering the property through a slow leak or foundation crack. Cracks in plaster walls and doors that no longer open easily are a sign that the foundation is settling in an uneven matter. These signs are a good reason to have your home and foundation inspected. 

 

Water damage from foundation cracks may not be covered by insurance – Many homeowners are not protected from foundation cracks and the ensuing water damage. Because the water is coming from outside the home, many insurance carriers will deny coverage. It is always best to have an understanding of your liabilities or gap in insurance coverage. Often, a flood insurance policy can protect homeowners from water damage due to an outside source. However, it is important to cover the topic with your specific insurance company.

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Understanding your insurance policy

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Water, fire and mold can impact a home in many different ways and leave the property owners with an expensive bill for remediation. Having insurance coverage can protect property owners from a large bill. However, policies are different and have a variety of protections and gaps depending on the plan. It is important for policy owners to know their coverages and exposures in their insurance policy.

 

File a claim quickly – Water, fire and mold damage can get worse if it is left unattended. Filing a claim starts the process with an insurance company and they will determine if the damage is covered. It is important to contact insurance right away as it may take time for them to send out an adjuster and make a determination. Fire damage claims can take longer if an investigation is required. Some types of damage will also have claim limits so it is important to know those limits when starting a restoration project.

 

Sudden ruptures or failures – Homeowners insurance covers sudden ruptures and failures of plumbing. This often comes in the form of a burst pipe or broken water line. These occurrences can create a large claim in a short period of time. Depending on the policy, repairing the broken plumbing can be the responsibility of the homeowner. Code upgrades may also be an expense for the homeowner depending on policy and extent of damage.

 

Accidental water damage – Homeowners insurance will often cover accidental water damage. This can come from a sink or bath overflowing and damaging the property. It is important to address issues with accidental water damage right away. In many cases, the water damage will be covered but any microbial growth from lingering damage will not be covered. 

 

Mechanical failures – A sudden failure of an appliance is often covered by a home insurance policy. Some appliances have warranties that cover damage. If your appliance is being installed by a professional company, ask about their coverage period after installation. In some instances the insurance company will investigate the broken appliance to determine coverage.

 

Leaks – This is an area where coverage will depend on the specific policy. Slow leaks from a pipe, plumbing or water line will be covered by some policies and not covered by others. Slow leaks can linger for a long time before damage is noticed. This can result in a large bill, especially if the slow leak occurs inside a wall or in a crawlspace or attic. Slow leaks often develop microbial growth which makes the restoration project more expensive. 

 

Microbial growth – Microbial growth can often be outside of a homeowners insurance policy. Policies may also have a coverage limit when it comes to microbial growth. Mold remediation work can result in a large bill. This might be an area where homeowners want to extend their policies coverage or up limits.

 

External water source – Water damage coming from outside the home is a common exclusion from policies. Water coming from a flood or through a foundation crack is a typical out-of-pocket expense when it comes to water damage. Separate flood insurance may need to be purchased to have coverage from these sources.

 

Sewer backup – Sewer damage resulting from a backup is another common policy exclusion. Coverage can be denied for a lack of maintenance (tree roots growing through lines is a common cause) or because it originated from an outside source (city main line). Like microbial growth, additional coverage or increasing limits for sewer damage can be an important discussion to have when deciding or changing an insurance policy.

 

Roof damage – A water intrusion coming from roof damage is often covered under a home insurance policy. Damage from hail or ice dams can lead to water damage in the ceiling or attic. In most cases, the roof damage will need to be inspected by an adjuster. 

 

Review your home insurance policy and find coverage gaps – It is important to know where gaps exist in a policy. This allows the policy holder to add additional coverage and avoid any surprises when dealing with water damage. 

 

Renters insurance – If you are renting, do you know what would happen to your personal items if they were damaged by water or fire? In most cases, a renter policy will protect your belongings. The property owner will have insurance for the rental property and this will not cover the personal items of the renter, just the structure itself. So having a solid renter insurance policy will protect your valuables.

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Be prepared for the incoming cold weather

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Team Newman has a few tips and ideas to help keep your home heated efficiently as we all prepare for the incoming cold weather. 

 

Check rubber seals around windows and doors – Preventing drafts from windows and doors is a key to keeping a home warm in the winter. Damaged or missing window seals can allow the warm air to leak outside the home or cold air to draft inside. If a door is letting in a draft from below, there are a few quick fixes to help keep in the warn air. There are many products sold to stop a drafty door, but a rolled up towel can be effective temporarily. 

 

Invest in a programmable thermostat – A programmable thermostat can be a money saving investment. Many new units have eco modes that can be programmed and use a time setting to gently heat the home before you arrive. They are also convenient to check on the home when you are away as they often come with a mobile app.

 

Clean air duct system – A clean duct system allows the warm air to travel throughout the entire home in an efficient manner. It also saves on wear and tear for the HVAC system. Team Newman recommends having a professional duct cleaning every three years. It is also important to have a HVAC company inspect your furnace if you are concerned about efficacy or efficiency. Newer systems have been proven to heat the home more effectively with less impact on the electrical bill.

 

Utilize a fireplace or wood burning stove – This is another option to heat a home for low cost, especially if you have a supply of firewood. Make sure that a well used chimney is swept once a year to allow for smoke to draft properly and to prevent a dangerous creosote buildup. A chimney sweep also puts your mind at ease knowing that you have mitigated risk of a dangerous buildup. Plus, who  doesn’t enjoy the crackle of a fire during a long winter evening. 

 

Move furniture away from vents – When trying to heat your home, blocked vents can limit efficiency. Furniture too close to a vent will actually absorb heat and keep it from heating the home. Make sure vents are free of any obstructions to allow for the proper dispersion of warm air. Couches are the main culprit of heat absorption as they can often be placed in front of a vent and they are prone to absorbing warm air and not allowing it to distribute around the room efficiently. 

 

Utilize your curtains – Sunlight can bring warmth into a home. Keep curtains open during the day to allow sunlight into the home. Keep curtains closed when the sun goes down to keep as much warm air in the home as possible overnight. 

 

Do not let the temperature drop below 50 – If the temperature gets too low in a home it can create a frozen pipe. Make sure to check the basement daily because it is often the coldest area in a home. Even if the thermostat is reading above 50 degrees, it is possible for other sections of the home to be much colder. Having a few thermometers placed around the home is an excellent way to monitor temperatures and make sure you are avoiding dangerously low temperatures. 

 

Use your ceiling fan – It may seem counterintuitive, but running a ceiling fan in reverse can pull cold air up and recirculate the warm air. It is another way to efficiently keep your home heated. Allowing warm air to circulate the home is extremely beneficial for heating it efficiently. 

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Air duct cleaning comes with unexpected benefits

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September and October are the perfect months to have a heating and cooling system cleaned to ensure maximum efficiency. Team Newman recommends a cleaning every three years for an HVAC system. This not only benefits efficiency but also promotes cleaner air quality inside a home or business. 

 

Energy savings – Contamination build up inside the duct work of an HVAC system can cause a system to operate inefficiently. A proper cleaning will eliminate the built up debris and allow the system to operate properly and improve effectiveness. A more efficient HVAC system can reduce the energy bill at a home or business. Have you looked inside your registers lately? A quick peek behind registers can often show the potential buildup of dirt and debris inside the system. If there is visible dirt, dust, pet hair or trash behind the register or vent cover, it is likely those same contaminants are throughout the system.

 

Improve air quality – Dust, pollen, dirt and debris can sit inside the duct work and impact the air quality of a home or business. A professional air duct cleaning will remove these contaminants and improve the air quality. A disinfecting spray can also make a tremendous impact on the pollen and microbial growth in the air duct system. If you live in a home with pets, indoor plants or you keep the windows open often, a duct cleaning can make a significant impact on the indoor air quality.

 

Less wear and tear on the HVAC system – A clean system will run more efficiently and increase the lifespan of the HVAC system. A professional cleaning every three years lessens the chances of costly repairs.A more efficient system can also heat and cool the home faster. It will reduce the electrical bill and make it easier to change temperatures in a home or business. 

 

 Peace of mind – Once a system has been cleaned, it is often relaxing to know that you will be experiencing all of the benefits of a clean HVAC system. Whether it is improved indoor air quality or a more efficient heating and cooling system, the benefits can pay off in various ways.

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Stay vigilant with cleaning habits at home and at work

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Whether at home or at work, there are multiple steps that can be used to protect against COVID 19. The most important steps remain maintaining social distancing, getting vaccinated, wearing masks when appropriate, regular hand washing and staying home and getting tested when showing symptoms. 

 

According to the CDC, risk of infection from touching a surface is low. With no confirmed or suspected cases, cleaning once a day is recommended. When dealing with a positive case, disinfecting surfaces is recommended. The CDC has lists of products recommended for both cleaning and disinfecting. 

 

Develop a plan and schedule for cleaning. Whether at home or at work, it is important to have a plan for cleaning. This can ensure no spaces are overlooked. Prioritize the cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces. These often include desks, door handles, fixtures, keyboards and remotes. Ensure the cleaning products being used are appropriate for the situation and surface. Read the label to understand the health hazards of certain cleaners and disinfectants. Gloves and or eye protection may be required. 

 

If someone in the household is showing symptoms it is important to clean and disinfect areas they have occupied. Gloves and masks and frequent hand washing should be utilized. Wash clothing, towels and bedding on the warmest possible setting. 

 

If someone has tested positive in the workspace, the CDC has multiple recommendations on how to handle the situation. Close off the areas utilized by the person who has been sick. Wait as long as possible, at least several hours before cleaning and disinfecting. When cleaning, open doors and windows and use fans and HVAC systems to circulate air. Use a mask and gloves when cleaning and focus on the areas utilized by the person who has tested positive. 

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Sweep your chimney before first use this winter

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For most of us, we do not think about getting a chimney sweep until the first few cold days of fall when we want to use our fireplace. However, scheduling a chimney sweep for the summer months has a few advantages.

 

Avoid the scheduling rush – Most of us think about utilizing a fireplace for the first time when the temperatures start to drop. However, chimney sweep companies can be very busy in the fall and early winter. Make it easy and support a local business by getting it scheduled in the summer. 

 

Safer work environment and avoid delays – Frost or snow buildup on a roof can make it dangerous to perform a chimney sweep. If the weather conditions are too hazardous it can lead to a cancellation. Performing a chimney sweep in the summer makes the situation safer and easier.

 

Be ready for that first cold day of fall – With a professional chimney sweep in the summer, your fireplace will be ready for that first cold day of fall. This will eliminate any worry or concern of a backup or issue.

 

Why is a chimney sweep important – Newman Restoration recommends a yearly chimney sweep. This will prevent a dangerous creosote buildup from occurring. This is a common cause of a house fire. A chimney sweep also helps with drafting and allowing for the smoke to efficiently flow out of the home. 

 

What is the chimney sweep process? – At Newman Restoration, we utilize a three fan, HEPA filtered vacuum which is inserted into the fireplace or wood burning stove. A series of brushes and rods are deployed from the top of the chimney, when possible, and the vacuum at the bottom catches the debris. After the sweep, the fireplace or wood burning stove is cleaned. Team Newman uses plastic and tarps to ensure the area around the fireplace is protected.

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Foundation Cracks and Groundwater Issues

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A foundation crack can lead to water or structural damage in a home or business. Discovering a problem with the foundation of a building can be an unsettling situation, but Team Newman is here with some helpful information so you can be educated about what to do with a foundation crack. 

 

Vertical cracks are the most common – As a home settles, it is typical for vertical cracks to develop. Vertical cracks are found most often in basement walls and are typically the easiest type of foundation crack to fix. The main issue that comes with vertical cracks is how they allow for water to penetrate the foundation. However, a foundation waterproofing injection can solve the issue and prevent interior water damage.

 

Diagonal crack may point to bigger issues – If a foundation crack has an angle from 30-75 degrees, it is considered a diagonal crack. These can be caused from the foundation settling in an uneven manner. If water does not drain properly from one side of the house, it can cause the soil to compact more on one side and create a diagonal foundation crack. Along with fixing the crack, additional steps may need to be considered to ensure the cause of the uneven foundation settling is addressed. Landscaping and drainage issues often need to be addressed. A diagonal crack can also require a structural fix to ensure the integrity of the foundation.

 

Horizontal crack can cause issues with structural integrity – This is the most serious type of foundation crack. Pressure on the foundation wall can cause it to bow inwards. This can lead to the failure of the foundation and collapse of the property. It is a very serious issue that needs to be addressed right away. Fixing a horizontal crack is often a major project. It can involve installing anchors or piers to prevent any further bowing to prevent the foundation from failing.

 

Fix it when you have the chance – When a crack is discovered, it is best to seal it right away. If a crack is left unattended, it can grow and lead to a more costly repair. A horizontal foundation crack may require that the property be evacuated until it can be fixed. Many vertical cracks can be sealed with a waterproofing injection. Horizontal and diagonal cracks may need a structural fix if recommended by a structural engineer. 

 

Be on the lookout for signs of a structural issue – Water or added humidity in a basement or crawl space is a common sign that there is a foundation crack allowing for water penetration. Pungent or musty odors are also an indication that water is entering the property through a slow leak or foundation crack. Cracks in plaster walls and doors that no longer open easily are a sign that the foundation is settling in an uneven matter. These signs are a good reason to have your home and foundation inspected. 

 

Water damage from foundation cracks may not be covered by insurance – Many homeowners are not protected from foundation cracks and the ensuing water damage. Because the water is coming from outside the home, many insurance carriers will deny coverage. It is always best to have an understanding of your liabilities or gap in insurance coverage. Often, a flood insurance policy can protect homeowners from water damage due to an outside source. However, it is important to cover the topic with your specific insurance company. 

 

Groundwater issues

 

In addition to foundation cracks, groundwater issues can develop multiple times a year. They are common when the snow melts and the groundwater becomes saturated. They can also develop from irrigation issues or nearby flooding.

 

Many homes are built with defenses against groundwater. Whether it is a protective coating around the foundation, a drainage system or sump pumps, these measures can go a long way in defending a home from groundwater. 

 

Make sure pump systems stay operational and drains remain clear. Without being able to work properly, these issues can prevent them from working. It is a good idea to test sump pumps and make sure they continue to work. 

 

What to do if groundwater becomes an issue? The first step is to remediate any damage from the groundwater inside the home to prevent microbial growth. Afterwards, it may be necessary to consult with a structural engineer to develop a solution for groundwater issues. The amount of groundwater is impacted by multiple factors, including the source and current weather conditions. Not all solutions will be the same and often require the help of an expert to find the most appropriate defense.

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Reducing the impact of allergens

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Have allergies been a summer nuisance? If so, Team Newman and LeSqueegee have a couple recommendations for around the house that can improve your indoor air quality and reduce the impact of allergens.

 

Take care of the spaces you occupy most – Having a clean bedroom is vital to avoiding irritating allergies. Clean bedding and a dust free area is very important to getting a good night sleep. A room air filter can also be a huge benefit in reducing allergens. Frequently change or wash sheets and vacuum frequently. Be mindful of how often you leave your window open as it can be a gateway for allergens to enter the home. 

 

Carpets and rugs can be a trap for allergies – Allergens can settle within the fibers of carpet. Regular vacuuming can be a solution, however it is best to vacuum with a HEPA filter. This will trap allergens that can filter through regular vacuums. If vacuuming isn’t doing the trick, invest in a professional carpet cleaning. Not only will it improve the look of carpets or rugs, it will make a significant impact on the allergens, dust and dirt trapped within. 

 

Clean filters and ductwork is vital to stop allergens – Set a reminder on your phone or calendar to clean or switch the filters in the HVAC system. Filters need to be checked monthly and replaced if they are dirty. Normally, filters require changing every two months. A clean filter helps an HVAC system operate properly. A professional air duct cleaning should occur once every three years to maintain high air quality and clean ductwork.

 

Avoid tracking allergies – Allergens can be carried into a home on shoes and clothing. It is a good idea to remove shoes when entering a home to avoid spreading dust and dirt. This can have a major impact on what gets spread throughout a home. If you do like to wear shoes inside, have a pair of indoor shoes you can put on that stay clean. 

 

Windows can also be a problem area for allergens – including drapes and curtains – Open windows can easily allow for pollen and other irritants to travel into a home. Drapes and curtains are a common collection point for these allergens. Vacuum drapes and curtains regularly or if suitable, machines wash them. 

 

Summary – The best way to reduce the impact allergens have on your home is to keep it clean. Eliminating dust buildups, removing shoes at the door and regular cleaning is a great start. If issues persist, look to the professionals for help. A professional carpet cleaning or duct cleaning can provide major relief.

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Avoid damage from heavy rain storms

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Summer rain storms strike quickly in central Montana. A few minutes of heavy rain are enough to cause costly water damage. Team Newman has a few tips to help prevent water damage from heavy rain. 

 

Proper drainage is a major factor – Directing water runoff away from the property is the best way to avoid costly water damage. Water pooling up around the foundation will find a way through the foundation. Downspouts must be directed away from the property and stay free of blockages. Gutters must also be kept clean in order to work efficiently. Poor landscaping allows water to settle close to the property. If the landscaping slopes toward a home, it causes the water to flow directly to the home and settle near the foundation. Designing and maintaining landscaping to divert water away from the home is a major factor in protecting your property.

 

Prep window wells – Window wells are a common spot for water to enter a home during a rainstorm. If possible, cover window wells to prevent rainfall from entering. Coverings can also stop fallen branches or debris from breaking a window and causing major damage. Even with a proper cover, window wells can fill with groundwater. This issue can be solved with proper drainage. In many cases, a drain system can be installed in window wells to properly divert water away from the home. All drain systems must be properly maintained to ensure effectiveness. 

 

Inspect property after a heavy rain – The first thing to look for is any signs of water damage inside the home. Check around the exterior walls for wet carpet or swollen trim. It is also a good idea to check the exterior. Look for water in window wells and see if it has pooled anywhere around the exterior of the home. This can show where water is not draining properly. Address issues immediately to prevent damage in the future.

 

Inspect for foundation cracks – Foundation cracks are another common source of water damage during a big rain storm. Water saturates the ground and pushes its way through the foundation. Some cracks are not visible because they are covered by sheetrock. However, some foundation cracks can be seen from the exterior. If a foundation crack is visible, it is a good idea to invest in a waterproofing crack injection.

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Home Improvement Safety for Summer Projects

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The summer is a popular time for home improvement projects. Team Newman has a few safety tips to help make sure your home renovation is a success.

 

Be on the lookout for hazardous building materials – Asbestos and lead paint can be harmful even in small doses. If you are renovating a building built before 1980, be aware of asbestos. Asbestos can be found in drywall, textured surfacing (popcorn ceilings), siding, insulating materials, laminate flooring, floor tiles and mastic. It is best to contact an asbestos expert before starting a renovation on an older home. Newman Restoration can help identify possible asbestos containing materials and conduct asbestos testing. Along with asbestos, lead paint can be found in older homes. At home lead paint test kits can work if administered properly. However, contacting a lead paint professional is never a bad idea.

 

Wear proper clothing to protect yourself – Use safety glasses when cutting or drilling. Wear a respirator when sanding. These are good steps to help keep your lungs and eyes protected. Be careful of baggy clothing which can catch on power tools. Also, if working outside, take frequent breaks to avoid dehydration and heat exhaustion. 

 

Follow instructions and safety recommendations – Use power tools and equipment only in ways for which they have been designed. Improper use of tools and ladders is a common cause of injury. Having a first aid kit and knowing where it is located is crucial before starting a home improvement project.

 

Know when to leave it to a professional – There is a reason why it takes years of training to become a plumber or electrician. Plumbing and wiring, especially in an old house, can be complicated and dangerous. While it may be an unwanted upfront cost, leaving plumbing and electrical work to the professionals can often save time and money. 

 

Develop a plan first, don’t start with digging or cutting into walls – Home renovation can cause a big mess. Do not cut or tear walls without having a plastic containment system. It is very easy to create a large mess in only a few minutes. Be aware of possible electrical and plumbing built into walls, as a small cut can cause major damage. It is also a good idea to have a plan before digging. Even professionals can make a mistake when digging outside. If you aren’t sure what is underneath the ground, call 8-1-1 before you dig. Please look at the forecast before you start a major outdoor project. Loose dirt and gravel can wash away into window wells during a heavy rain storm. 

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