Homeowners have lots of experience paying for home owner insurance. In contrast, they have little knowledge of home construction so how will they don't know if the settlement offered by their insurance company will cover all repairs? That's why hiring a public adjuster makes lots of sense, to ensure you receive the money you need to return your home to its condition prior to your emergency.
Hiring a Public Adjuster – Too Many Lies
When the phone call came telling me water was gushing out the front door of my home in Florida, I was in Maine … 1400 miles away. Through that evening and the next day, I had numerous conversations with the water mitigation team sent by the insurance company. They consistently reassured me they'd prevent mold by removing the cabinet toe kicks and baseboards to thoroughly dry out the walls of my house.
When I asked why they weren't removing the drywall, the said some insurance companies do this and others don't. As they seemed so confident that what they were doing was sufficient, I didn't return to Florida right away. After spending 10 days in Maine helping my sister who was confined to a wheelchair, I flew home to meet the forensic engineer reviewing the source of the water leak.
Problem #1 – House Temperature Over 90 Degrees
When I arrived at my flooded home late Monday night, what I found was appalling!
- House temperature was ridiculously high at 92° Fahrenheit, and it was 9:30 at night. The mitigation team never mentioned they'd be raising the temperature in the house. So my HVAC system ran continuously (higher electric bill will get added to insurance claim). My concern though was how this temperature affected mold growth, especially inside the walls.
Digging for more information about temperature and mold growth uncovered these articles:
- New York Times article, How to Dry Out a Flooded House, said “When the temperature has reached, say, 80 degrees or so, the heat should be turned off and the air-conditioning turned back on … repeated until the house is dry. If you leave the heat on too long, you're basically turning your home into a greenhouse.”
- Drying Water Damaged Walls said the house should be checked daily to monitor progress and make adjustments as needed.
RyTech arrived Thursday night at 7:30 pm, and worked until 11 pm. They returned the next day to finish setting up. Per my request to address mold in the garage, they returned the following Wednesday to install a dehumidifier. A week later when I asked what the status was, Josh said they were coming to take moisture measurements and remove most of the equipment.
Problem #2 – Only Three Toe Kicks Removed!
This didn't make me happy as it told me I'd been lied to and it was time to uncover what else this water mitigation team failed to do to protect my home. First let me explain how unprofessional this was:
- Kitchen (18 lf) – had 5 toe kicks but only 3 removed? … and that's where mold was first found!
- Master bathroom (7 lf) – no toe kicks removed and that's where the leak started.
- Guest bathroom (6.5 lf) – had no toe kicks removed.
- Home office (8 lf) – had no toe kicks removed.
- Mud room (5 lft) – had no toe kicks removed.
What's hard to understand is why only 3 of the 10 toe-kicks in the house were removed? They're glued on and easy to pull off so why wasn't this done? When you need to dry out cabinets, here's what should be done:
These actions were all listed in RyTech's own article, How to Dry Out Cabinets After Water Damage Occurs, so why, why, why didn't they do steps 1, 2 and 3? Per one of RyTech's team members, they were told “not to touch anything” by the insurance company adjuster.
Problem #3 – Less Than 5% of Baseboards Removed!
You can imagine the steam pouring from my head as I toured my devastated home. It was bad enough to see my newly completed home in total disarray (see flooded house). It was unacceptable to see that the actions promised to insure no further damage, like removing baseboards, had not been done.
This left me wondering how much water damage was hiding inside the walls or under the tile floors. Given my years of experience running a handyman business, I knew I would never put the house back together until the drywall was removed to prove there was no mold.
Fast forward a few weeks and we found mold when pulling out the base cabinets, proving my fears were valid. Now the battle is about to start with the insurance company. They need to pay for more extensive mold testing and mold remediation.
Problem #4 – Wet/Soggy Things Left on Floor
It took a few days to catch up on all that had happened (or didn't happen) at my house. My schedule was based on meeting the forensic engineer sent by the insurance company to inspect the source of the water leak. As a blogger, I've been trained to photograph everything. It's actually a wonderful habit because you can spot lots of problems in photos that focus on one or two things.
For example, while standing in the master bathroom where the leak started, I'm overwhelmed by ruined vanities, toilet paper, personal belongs scattered everywhere, my dining room chandelier (ruined by the flood) on the floor in a cardboard box and so much more.
The most amazing offense was the packages of toilet paper sitting in the bathroom vanity where the water leak started. Reviewing my photos showed me there was still toilet paper (above) sitting in the vanity where the leak started. I couldn't understand why the water mitigation people didn't remove the toilet paper?
The next morning I met the forensic engineer at the house. For fun and for a witness to the insanity of the soggy toilet paper, I pointed out the problem. I said I believed the toilet paper packages were still full of water, how they should have been removed and picked up the packages that were dripping.
You can even see where mold has started growing inside the toilet paper packages … OMG!!!
There's a lot more to this story so click and learn about …
- Brand new rug and pad that was left on floor, where moisture exceeded 40 percent humidity.
- Personal belongings n the garage when the water mitigation people told my son they'd dry out there.
- Wall hangings, most of them tossed in the garage and left there to … get moldy?