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Sewage Backup Prevention

Sewage Backup Prevention

Sewage in your home is an unwelcome surprise that, if left untreated, can cause serious issues that impact the structure of your property and cause health problems for you and your family. If you’re careful and follow some basic guidelines to prevent sewage backups, you should be able to minimize the chance of having sewage problems. Read on for some useful tips to help keep your property free of backups.


The Renter’s Guide to Mold

The Renter’s Guide to Mold

Whether you’re a first time renter or an apartment pro, you’re too familiar with the hassles of rental life such as noisy neighbors and parking problems. However, indoor mold is one of those issues you hope to never face. Your friends here at Tri State Restorations have compiled a guide to help you quickly spot the signs of indoor mold and quickly to deal with it.

Signs of a Mold Problem

Mold becomes a problem indoors when moisture and warmth meet a food source (think: wood, drywall, plaster or even carpet). Sometimes, a mold problem is not visible to the naked eye. Here are a few signs that point to mold in your apartment:
  • Water stains on the ceilingStained ceilings could mean roof leaks, pipe leaks or appliance/bathtub overflows from your neighbor upstairs.
  • Bulging, bubbling or peeling paint or wallpaper – Bubbling or peeling paint hints at moisture problems behind the wall, such as a slow leaking pipe.
  • Rusty nails, pipes or fixtures, condensation on windows – Rust and drippy windows can mean it’s too damp inside. Mold can easily grow behind walls and on wood studs when the humidity is too high.
  • Musty or stale odor indoors – Does your apartment smells like an old library book or a locker room shower? You could be smelling mycotoxins – a byproduct of growing fungi.

    Uncovering extensive microbial growth behind a ceiling.

  • Previous water damages or leaks – If you’re a new renter, you may not know the damage history of your apartment or building. If the unit had previous, untreated water damages, you could have conditions present that allow mold to grow,
  • Patches that appear to be dirt, dust or soot (and they keep coming back) – If you notice patches of suspected dirt or soot popping up in humid corners of your apartment or bathroom, this could actually be visible mold growth. Take photos and if possible, seal off these areas with strong plastic to prevent spores from going airborne.
  • New allergies while indoors – If you’re coughing or wheezing more; have new skin rashes or hives; get headaches, nosebleeds, or sudden bouts of forgetfulness, you could be experiencing health effects from mold exposure. A doctor can confirm whether or not this is the case.

As a renter, you should document all your findings with photos and with notes detailing when you first noticed these conditions. You can also help prevent future mold issues by quickly reporting any leaks, water overflows, or any of the above signs of mold to your landlord or property manager ASAP.

Detecting and Testing for Mold

Don’t wait to take action if you’re convinced of a mold issue in your apartment. Mold is not just a cosmetic issue! If left to grow, mold can damage your possessions and contribute to serious health concerns. Hardware store testing kits often give false negative results, so resist temptation for a quick and cheap answer.

Instead, hire (or ask your landlord or property manager) a mold remediation firm to perform an indoor air quality inspection. An experienced mold remediation company (such as Tri State Restorations) will be able to do a thorough visual scan. They will often use tools such as an infrared camera and spore sample traps to confirm their findings. Next, they’ll send any tests to an third-party lab for an independent, non-biased analysis. Your mold pros will explain their detailed findings to you and/or your landlord, and will come up with a plan to cure the property of mold.

Only a doctor can diagnose health problems related to mold exposure. However, you should quickly address any elevated indoor mold and have it removed by a professional. Your property continues to be at risk for mold damage until the quick resolution of underlying problems (such as leaks).

Rights as a Tenant

Many landlords and property managers take indoor mold very seriously and quickly work with you to address indoor air quality issues. Most states now require your landlord to maintain suitable housing. This includes quickly fixing most underlying conditions that contribute to mold, such as leaking pipes, windows, roofs, etc.

However, at the time of writing, there are no federal laws in the United States that specifically address tenants rights as they pertain to indoor mold exposure.

In Maryland and Virginia, landlords are bound by an “implied warranty of habitability.” Your landlord is obligated to provide you with a property in livable condition. Depending on your situation, you could be entitled to have your apartment remediated and your costs to test for mold recouped under this warranty. However, if the damage was caused by negligence on your part, you could be on the hook for these costs.

In Washington D.C., your landlord must appropriately remove mold in your unit. After sending written notice of the issue, your landlord must inspect the mold within 7 days. They must remove the mold contamination to EPA and DOEE standards within 30 days.  Tri State Restorations is certified by the DOEE to perform mold removal within the District of Columbia. This law went into effect in 2014, and is still in effect at the time of writing.

Removing Mold

The first priority of any remediation firm contracted to remove mold from your apartment should be to protect the safety of occupants. Contrary to popular lore, you cannot “fix” mold by covering it with paint, or wiping it away with bleach. The only way to truly get rid of mold is to treat the underlying issues and physically remove any contamination. An experienced remediation firm may also utilize tools such as:

  • Air ScrubbersAir scrubbers exchange contaminated air in the space for HEPA-filtered air, which removes 99.97% of airborne mold spores and other particles (0.3 μm or larger)
  • Containment BarriersSturdy, plastic barriers are set to prevent cross-contamination into non-affected areas of the property
  • HEPA VacuumsHEPA-filtered vacuums to extract spores admixed with dust from surfaces such as floors and walls.
  • DehumidifiersDehumidifiers are often placed to assist with any high humidity conditions or preexisting moisture problems.
  • Antimicrobial agentsAt points throughout the remediation process, surfaces may be treated with an antimicrobial agent to help inhibit future mold growth.

Additionally, our workers will always wear full personal protective and respiratory gear while cleaning your apartment. For additional details about some of the steps involved with a typical mold remediation, read more here.

We’re not qualified to give legal advice but…

Regardless of where you live, a legal professional can clarify what laws in your municipality protect you against mold. Your landlord has a stake in ensuring his or her property is mold-free and safe for habitation. However, if your landlord fails to respond to you, you can retain a lawyer and consider filing a lawsuit. Ask your attorney about getting an order of repair or a reduction in rent. They can also advise you about recouping your actual damages and any attorney’s fees if you must go to a trial.

It’s a good habit to keep copies of everything incurred in the investigation and treatment of mold damage. This should include receipts, work orders, medical records, communication with your landlord, or any notes or photos documenting the damage.

If you suspect a mold problem in your apartment or rental property, Tri State Restorations’ friendly experts are always happy to answer any questions you may have, or assist you with scheduling an air quality assessment as soon as possible. Call us, or have your landlord call us today at 1-866-818-1949.

Happy 2018 from Tri State

Happy 2018 from Tri State

Happy New Year! As we wrap up 2017 and look forward to a New Year, we’re gearing up here at Tri State HQ for a busy winter.

As you probably know if you’ve stepped outside this week, it would appear that the dreaded polar vortex is back. Our area last experienced this phenomenon in the early months of 2015, with prolonged temperatures in the teens and single digits. A polar vortex is a wide, swirling low pressure area in the Arctic that sometimes migrates far enough south to affect our region– by pummeling us with frigid, unbearable cold weather. More than just making it unpleasant to be outdoors, this kind of weather wreaks havoc on your home or building.

Have you taken steps to winterize your pipes yet? Taking a few simple steps now can prevent a costly water damage in your property this winter.

  • Disconnect your garden hoses. If your external water has a separate shut off, go ahead and turn it off and (if you can) drain the water from those faucets.
  • If you have exposed pipes in colder areas (such as a garage or utility room), take a few steps to get them insulated. You can buy adhesive foam-rubber pipe insulation that adheres to pipes which is easy to install on your own, or call your preferred plumber for advice.
  • Seal any holes or cracks around your property with foam sealant or silicone caulk.
  • If bathroom pipes run along exterior walls, leave vanity doors open to allow the warmer interior air heat the pipes. Consider leaving a faucet slightly open to allow water to trickle.
  • Maybe the most important step of all: know where your water main shut off is! In the event of a worst-case scenario, you’ll be able to shut the water off and prevent additional damage. This step can save thousands!

Do you suspect your pipes are already frozen and in danger of bursting? If you turn on a faucet and nothing comes out, it’s a likely scenario. To prevent an emergency water damage cleanup, turn off your water main supply and open all the faucets (flush the toilets as well) in order to drain the remaining water. Next, try and locate the frozen pipe (you may need to enlist the help of a trusted plumber). Once you’ve located it, simply apply heat– hair dryers and heating pads are effective tools, as well as adding a space heater to the area. DO NOT USE A BLOWTORCH OR APPLY DIRECT FLAME TO THE PIPE! You don’t want to burn down your house (trust us on this one). If you observe the pipe leaking, go ahead and call your trusted plumber pal to repair.

If you’re too late and come home to a flooded basement, go ahead and call our emergency line – 866-818-1949. We’re armed with all the tools needed to get you cleaned up and dried out, day or night.


Happy New Year from your friends at Tri State Restorations

We recently came together as a staff and celebrated the holidays at our annual party and had a great time. During the holiday season, it’s a great blessing to be able to relax and toast another great year with coworkers in a non-work setting. Is anyone planning a big New Years Eve party or an elaborate meal with guests? Remember to celebrate responsibly! Keep fireworks well away from your home– fireworks cause 1,500 property fires a year (but you may want to stay inside with these cold temperatures). Christmas trees and decorations are also a fire risk, so if you’re lighting those up for your New Year’s celebration, make sure your tree is adequately watered and if it’s dried out, get rid of it (sorry).Many of our communities offer tree recycling this time of year. Christmas tree fires are uncommon but are among the most destructive and dangerous.

As you wrap up the year, a few more words of caution:

  • Follow proper operating instructions for space heaters– don’t leave them unattended and maintain a 3 foot clear zone from drapes and other inflammable materials
  • Keep chimneys and fireplaces cleaned and maintained, and ensure fireplaces have a heavy screen to prevent sparks.
  • The majority of kitchen fires are caused by unattended stoves and ranges. Don’t be distracted in the kitchen!

Again, Tri State is here to help with your emergencyfire and smoke restoration 24 hours a day, but we want you to celebrate safely.

Winding down 2017, we want to thank you for your support over the years and look forward to a great 2018! Have a safe and happy New Year and don’t wait to call us with your emergency fire, flood or restoration needs: 866-818-1949 – you’ll always speak with a member of our staff(yeah…one of those guys up there) qualified to assist and answer any questions you may have.

HAPPY 2018!

2017 Hurricane Outlook

2017 Hurricane Outlook

It’s that time of the year! With hurricane season looming (June 1 – November 30), we already have a good idea of what’s shaping up for our storm outlook in 2017 and how it’s compared to recent summers past.

According to The Weather Channel, we can look forward to a slightly busier than average hurricane season, with 14 named storms (2 more than the 30-year average of 12 — we already have one in 2017!), 7 hurricanes and 3 storms Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale. These numbers are higher than projections set just a month ago in April. This is due to warmer northern Atlantic sea-surface temperatures, and the diminished potential for El Nio to develop later in the summer.

Hurricane damage can devastate towns and cities with strong winds and driving rains. How will you prepare for hurricane season?

Though it seems like the weather in our region is always a wildcard, it never hurts to be prepared! Tropical storms and hurricanes have caused devastating damage to our region. Hazards associated with large summer storms include inland flooding, coastal storm surges, strong winds, and tornadoes.

Laying in a stockpile of disaster supplies well in advance of impending storms will ensure the basic needs of you and your family are met in the event of lengthy power outages or temporary relocation. Your disaster kit should minimally include bottled water and food for each member of your family for one week, a supply of prescription drugs, a NOAA radio and fresh batteries, and some cash.

Securing your property is also essential when a hurricane is impending. Taking basic steps around the house such as trimming back overhanging or broken tree limbs, ensuring outdoor patio furniture is secured or brought indoors, and keeping gutters and downspouts cleared are small steps you can take that can prevent collateral damage to life and property during a summer storm or hurricane.

Having a disaster plan in place when a storm strikes can be priceless– don’t wait to prepare!

Lastly– ensure you have a plan in place for when a storm is on the way! Now is the time to do it. There are several resources available online to assist you for preparing to keep you, your family and your property as safe as possible:

  • WeatherReady Nation: A series of modules presented by NOAAand Raytheon for kids that teaches about how to be prepared in the event of various weather scenarios and how to help your family come up with a disaster-preparedness plan
  • FLASH Hurricane Safety: Resources from the Federal Alliance of Safe Homes that explain the basics of hurricanes, how to assemble a disaster kit, how to come up with a Family Disaster Plan, and much more.
  • READY Make A Plan: A US Department of Homeland Security resource that explains the necessity for forming an emergency communication plan, as well as tips for creating your own.
  • Tri State Restorations: Your trusted, local source for same-day property recovery and restoration following a storm or any traumatic disaster.


How do you and your family prepare when a storm is on the way? Leave a comment below!

Congratulations Tara!

Congratulations Tara!

The team at Tri State Restorations commends and congratulates staff member Tara Wilson on obtaining herCouncil-certified Microbial Remediation Supervisor (CMRS) designation by the American Council for Accredited Certification (ACAC). This prestigious, board-awarded certification recognizes Wilson’s knowledge and field experience in mold, microbial and bacterial remediation.

To earn the CMRS designation, Tara passed a rigorous examination based on respected industry texts. She then submitted documented, verifiable field experience to a board of peers, earning a unanimous vote of approval. Read more here.

Congratulations, Tara! We’re proud to have you on our team!

For your mold remediation needs, call us today at 1-866-818-1949 or contact us online!

Tropical Storm Damage

Tropical Storm Damage

Tropical Storm Damage

hurricane damageHave you been experiencing tropical storm damage of any kind? Whether you have hurricane damage or wind damage from a cyclone, you may be experiencing excess water, sewer backup, or mold growthproblems that can grow more serious the longer theyre left untreated. In order to avoid health complications for you and your family and prevent serious structural damage to your home, its important to have hurricane repair work done immediatelytypically within 24 to 48 hours, at most.

Tri State Restorations helps home and business owners keep their properties safe from harmful bacteria and toxins that grow with storm and water damage. We treat tropical storm and hurricane damage throughout Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia, providing 24-hour service so you can count on us whenever theres an emergency. Contact us today!

What Are Common Forms of Tropical Storm Damage?

Depending on what type of storm hit and how severe it was, there are various types of tropical storm damage you may be dealing withtypically related to heavy winds, flying debris, and excess water. Common forms of tropical storm damage include:

  • Flooding
  • Mold growth
  • Sewage backup
  • Roof damage
  • Damage to interior walls, flooring, and furniture
  • Large amounts of debris
  • And more

These are just some common forms of tropical storm damage, but you could be facing a number of other problems as welland the methods of treatment depend on the nature of the issue. If you have roof damage, for instance, youll need to tarp this area whereas if you have excess water, youll need to remove damaged furniture and undergo water extraction.

Tropical Storm & Hurricane Cleanup

As soon as the storm has passed its important to begin hurricane cleanup immediately. Call a professional restoration company as soon as possible and be sure to avoid any unstable power lines while you wait for us to arrive.

Of course the type of tropical storm damage treatment we give you depends on what type of damage you have. However, the process usually consists of the following steps, with some variation:

  • Assess the extent of any damage
  • Provide water extraction
  • Set up fans and dehumidifiers for ventilation
  • Remove any damaged materials and furniture
  • Tarp and board up the roof area (for those with wind damage)
  • Provide structural drying
  • Remove any growing mold
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect damaged areas

Treating Tropical Storm Damage in Maryland, Washington, DC, & Virginia

Do you need help dealing with hurricane damage or tropical storm damage of another kind? Dont leave your building untreated! The longer you wait, the bigger the chances that the indoor air quality in your home is affected by mold growth and harmful bacteria are released into the airpotentially leading to disease and aggravating health issues related to asthma or allergies. You could also be in danger of getting electric shock or slipping in the excess water.

Dont leave tropical storm damage untreated! Contact Tri State Restorations within one to two days to begin tropical storm or hurricane cleanup in Maryland, Washington, DC, or Virginia.

Coping with Fire Damage and Loss

Coping with Fire Damage and Loss

A fire damage can be one of the most physically, emotionally and psychologically damaging things you can hope to never experience as a homeowner. As horrific as the initial fire can be, the rebuilding of life and property can be a trying and stressful ordeal, regardless of the cause of fire. However, navigating your insurance claim shouldn’t be an additional trauma. Read on for some valuable advice on how to ensure you’re treated fairly following a fire. More

Sewage: Its Grosser Than You Think Part 3: Risks & Health Hazards

Sewage: Its Grosser Than You Think Part 3: Risks & Health Hazards

Sewage: Its Grosser Than You Think

Part 3: Risks & Health Hazards

Dangers that lurk in sewage and sludge

If youve checked out our last two posts, you know about how to prevent sewage damage in your property and how to respond appropriately in the untimely event of a sewage loss. This week, well discuss the risks that raw sewage poses to health and property, and exactly why preventative action is so important, and why urgent steps are required when dealing with a sewage intrusion on your property.

Last week, we discussed hiring a professional when handling any kind of sewage damage. One of the principal reasons professionals should be employed to deal with sewage is because untreated sewage contains pathogens and chemicals which pose a grave threat to the lives of humans and pets. Untreated sewage must also be disposed of carefully and in accordance with local and federal laws; sewage dumped inappropriately contaminates soil and groundwater. Be cautioned that even water from a sewage backup that appears clean or clear almost certainly contains pathogens and other harmful agents.

Below is a list of common pathogens that flourish in water that originates from an unsanitary source such as sewage pipes or drain backups.

  • Common Sewage PathogensE. coli – This is one of the most commonly-known bacterial pathogens that causes illness. While many forms of E. coli do not promote disease, virulent forms can cause gastroenteritis, severe abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and fever. In severe cases, E. coli infection has contributed to bowel necrosis, septicemia, peritonitis and pneumonia. Commonly found in the lower intestines of people and other warm-blooded animals, E. coli poisoning occurs from exposure to contaminated feces.

  • Salmonella – Another commonly-known bacteria, often responsible for food poisoning. Salmonella is a gram-negative bacteria which is especially threatening because it can survive for weeks in contaminated properties without the need for a living host or a water source. Salmonella causes gastrointestinal disease, and some strains cause typhoid fever: a potentially severe infection causing fever, malaise, skin spots, severe diarrhea, intestinal hemorrhaging, encephalitis and other life-threatening symptoms, including neurological.

  • Norwalk Virus – Also known as winter vomiting virus, Norwalk or norovirus is the most common cause of viral gastrointestinal upset in people, infecting 167 million people and causing 200,000 deaths a year. Infants, elderly and the immunocompromised are the most severely affected by norovirus. Extremely contagious, norovirus is easily transmitted through aerosolized fecal or vomit particles present in sewage.

  • Cryptosporidiosis – A parasitic illness caused by the protozoan Cryptosporidium, Cryptosporidiosis causes intestinal illness and is transmitted via water, soil, food that has been exposed to contaminated feces. In immunocompromised people, the symptoms can be especially severe and are frequently fatal. This infection causes watery diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration. It can also contribute to cholera-like infection which is often deadly.

  • Campylobacteriosis – This bacterial infection is caused by Campylobacter and transmitted by ingesting contaminated food, water or feces. Like many other infections, Campylobacteriosis causes bloody diarrhea or dysentery, cramps, fever, abdominal pain, and sometimes periodontitis.

  • Giardiasis – Also known as beaver fever, this is a parasitic illness caused by the protozoan Giardia lamblia. This infectious agent colonizes in the small bowel and prevents the intestine from absorbing water and nutrients from food. It also causes severe diarrhea, and can lead to vitamin B-12 deficiency, permanent lactose-intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome. Giardiasis can also adversely affect pets and livestock.

With any sewage damage, there is the risk of cross contamination throughout unaffected parts of the property when the affected area is not properly treated and cleaned. Improperly disposing of sewage in your property can also damage soil and groundwater supply. Bacteria such as E. coli can proliferate in water, and spread further illness if ingested. Other potential components of sewage such as nitrogen and phosphates encourage algae growth which can form potentially harmful algae blooms on water supplies. Remains of household chemicals, prescription drugs, detergents and other chemicals present in wastewater and sewage can kill plant life, crops and endanger local wildlife which depend on these resources.

The treatment of any kind of sewage damage is best left to a professional in order to avoid serious illness and further damage to health and property. When you need a sewage cleanup expert, you can depend on Tri State Restorations for help. We have teams throughout the DC Metro area, including the cities of Fairfax, Rockville, Frederick, Manassas, Reston and Bethesda. If you live anywhere in Maryland, Virginia or Washington D.C., we promise to arrive at your home within 90 minutes, seven days a week.


Sewage: Its Grosser Than You Think  Part 2: The Aftermath of Sewage

Sewage: Its Grosser Than You Think Part 2: The Aftermath of Sewage

Sewage: Its Grosser Than You Think

Part 2: The Aftermath of Sewage

Aftermath of Sewage DamageAs we discussed last week, sewage backups immediately create stressful situations and can result in significant losses and health hazards. When faced with a sewage emergency on your property, you might be thinking: how bad is the damage? Can I clean it up myself, and if not how long will it take and how much will it cost? Do I have to throw all my belongings away? Will my health or the health of my family and occupants be adversely affected?


Sewage: Its Grosser Than You Think  Part 1: Preventing Sewer Backups

Sewage: Its Grosser Than You Think Part 1: Preventing Sewer Backups

Sewage: Its Grosser Than You Think

Part 1: Preventing Sewer Backups

Clogs can lead to sewage backupsProperty ownership is a blessing and a curse. If you own a home or other property, you may have experienced a few of the pitfalls of property ownership: plumbing emergencies, electrical mishaps, appliance malfunctions or more. However, one of the biggest nightmares for a property owner is walking into your basement or lower level to find it under water. Even worse: the water is visibly contaminated with silt, sludge and other debris. Your immediate thoughts range: how bad is the damage? Can I clean it up myself, and if not how long will it take and how much will it cost? Do I have to throw all my belongings away? Will my health or the health of my family and occupants be adversely affected?


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