Winter water intrusions are often traced to two sources, ice dams and frozen pipes that expand, burst, and flood rooms or even entire homes.

Ice dams form at the edge of a roof and keep melting snow from running off. The resultant liquid is held in place until it finds gaps or cracks, then it dribbles down through the attic and into dry wall, then it can flow out into carpets and under flooring.

Frozen pipes that burst (even a small crack) can send hundreds of gallons of water through a home or office every day – and the owner may not even realize it is happening.

As the water intrusion progresses, the contamination travels to carpets, furniture, books and papers, discoloring them and creating a “bed” for mold and bacteria to grow.

Tables, chairs and couches begin to swell and crack, drawers expand and get “stuck.” Bedding absorbs water like a sponge.

Wood floors delaminate, curl and buckle. Some metal surfaces begin to rust, electronics are in jeopardy because of excess moisture in the environment.

And while the structural professionals are busily replacing damaged walls and flooring, the contents team has to treat every affected, valued item. For example, the techniques used to dry the walls, floors and ceilings may dehydrate the already weakened wood furniture much too quickly causing further damage. And no amount of drying the structure (sheetrock, floors, ceilings and carpets) will remove mold spores from clothes and bedding once they have begun to form – so specialized cleaning and restoring is an absolute necessity.

According to FEMA, it can take as little as 24 to 48 hours for mold to grow on a moist surface. And perhaps not too surprisingly, mold can form and spread in virtually any room in your home. It can grow on photographs, paintings, brick, painted surfaces, cabinets, leather, furniture and hundreds of other surfaces.

Insectapedia.com even has photographs of mold growing on surfaces where bleach has been splashed by an undertrained and unsuspecting contractor. Most contractors can repair the structure, including the interior of a home or office, but only contents restoration professionals can restore the insured’s items, documents and valuables to pre-loss condition.

Reports show that they can clean, dry, and restore more than 90% of soft goods in a home insurance claim and that they can remove bacteria, mildew, mold, odors and other contaminants – thus reducing the average burst pipe claim to a fraction of what cashing out would cost.

And they can use “human friendly” biocides to kill up to 99.9% of germs, yet are harmless to office staff or family members. There aren’t even any warning labels required on their solutions.

This is the kind of team a homeowner or business owner wants to see – and that is why adjusters and agents seek them out for water intrusion assignments throughout the year!