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Frequently Asked Questions

With over 30 years of experience in the industry, Buffalo Restoration is the trusted name in restoration in Southwest Montana. Our IICRC certified technicians follow industry-standard procedures for quality you can count on. We offer 24-hour emergency service and can work directly with your insurance provider to make the process as easy as possible for you.

Insurance coverage is very situationally dependent. Each policy from each different company will have different levels and types of coverage. The best way to know if your damage is covered is to keep a copy of your policy on hand and call your agent directly with any questions you might have.

As a homeowner, seeing your home damaged is extremely stressful, and it's difficult to know the right course of action. Will trying to clean up on your own help or make things worse? No matter what kind of damage you've incurred, the very first thing you should do is take photographs as long as the area is safe for you to be in. If you have water damage, the best thing to do is extract as much standing water as you possibly can while you wait for help. If you have fans, set them to start drying things as much as possible. They won't be enough to completely dry the area, but they can help minimize the chance of secondary damages. In the event of mold or fire, it's best to just leave the damage alone until a professional can address it. Disturbing mold can disperse spores throughout the home and fire damages can be made worse if improper cleaning techniques are used.

Yes! We can arrange for tree removal before roof tarping. We'll coordinate the entire project for you.

The length of time for proper restoration to occur is dependent on the type and size of the damage. A typical water damage project usually takes 5-7 days to dry and remove any unsalvageable materials. Mold remediation can take anywhere from a few hours to several days, depending on the extent of the damage. Fires cause the most extensive damage and can take weeks to complete restoration. Keep in mind that these are all estimates, and they're only for the restoration portion of the job. The rebuilding portion of the job, where everything is put back into place, has its own separate process and timeline.

Most homeowner's policies cover most water damages, but not all water damages are created equal. There can be a lot of exceptions to coverage depending on the intricacies of your policy. This is why it's a good idea to be familiar with your policy and call your agent right away when damage occurs.

A good portion of water damage can be prevented by proper household maintenance. Routine plumbing maintenance, as well as sump pump and appliance maintenance, are effective ways to avoid preventable damages. If you live in a cold climate, preparing your home for the winter can also help avoid damage. Finally, it's a good idea to regularly check the exterior of your home, particularly your roof, for damage to ensure water isn't unexpectedly leaking into your home.

Water damage insurance claims depend on a few different criteria. Ultimately, that's a question you'll have to clarify with your insurance company. However, we can tell you that the viability of water damage insurance claims depends primarily on what caused the damage (storm, burst pipe, plumbing malfunction, localized flood, sump pump failure, etc.). Some insurance policies will outline scenarios that will NOT be covered without specific riders, like flood insurance or sump pump failure insurance.

Contacting a restoration contractor and your insurance adjuster at the same time is a good idea because the restoration contractor will help make sure that the water extraction and dry out will be covered, but the rebuild process that should follow. If the full scope of the claim isn't outlined and agreed upon from the start, there may be issues down the line, and property owners may have to pay out of pocket to get the property completely back to normal.

That depends on the types of materials that were affected by water. Drywall, carpet, and hardwood floors will take longer to dry than other materials in the space. We use moisture meters throughout the process and in many different locations to gauge the moisture levels and will continue to adjust our fans and dehumidifiers to achieve an efficient but effective dry time. The bare minimum of "three days to dry" may only produce a surface dry but can still leave behind moisture levels that create an ideal environment for mold to grow.

Most homeowners start trying to remove the water themselves before they realize they'll need to contact their insurance company about a claim so they can call in a water damage restoration company. However, standing water around anything with a power cord or outlet or sagging ceilings make the area unsafe. Also, many insurance claims require documentation of the loss BEFORE any work is done, including removing the water. Always take plenty of photos of the damage you see before taking any action to start cleaning up the mess. Your restoration contractor will be able to back up your insurance claim scope with the necessary technical documentation.

If the water damage involves Category 1 water (clean and free of microbes and bacteria), many of your personal belongings can be salvaged. Category 2 water would include other water sources, including rainwater, that, while not containing biohazards or sewage, still pose health risks and the potential for destructive microbial growth and mold. A water damage restoration technician will help you sort through the property's contents to determine what can be safely dried, what can be restored by a textile/contents technician, and what can't be saved or salvaged. There are off-site facilities in the area that specialize in restoring water-damaged contents. Your restoration team will document all of the contents leaving the property for restoration or disposal for your records and reimbursement from your insurance company.

Identifying the source of the water damage is one of the first steps in both the insurance claim process and before beginning to dry out and repair the damaged areas. After all, if you replace a sagging, wet ceiling that was caused by a roof leak but don't fix the roof, too, the next rainstorm will start the cycle all over again. The buckling of your hardwood floor could be caused by a leaking pipe. We will pinpoint the exact cause of your water damage and make sure the source is repaired. We make sure your restoration job is done right the first time.

It's never a quick fix, though we've gathered together a multi-discipline team of contractors and technicians to work in tandem to complete the work as soon as possible. From structural repairs to sand/soda-blasting to odor removal to contents cleaning, our fire damage restoration crew begins as soon as the project scope is determined, and we don't stop until the job is done and both you and the insurance company are satisfied with the results.

Most often, yes. You'll need to check your specific policy for the full scope of coverage, but in general, if the damage was caused by a flame, it's covered. Your best bet is to hire a professional restoration to help you through the claims process. We know how to avoid some common missteps when making sure the entire loss is documented and covered. Many homeowners and insurance companies forget, for instance, to consider that your HVAC system will need to be cleaned of soot, and, since fires are extinguished using water, many areas of your home may need to be restored due to water damage even if they weren't directly affected by the fire.

Depending on the extent or location of the fire damage, some homeowners can move back in a few days or longer. The fire department will usually turn off electricity and gas to the property right away, and that won't be restored until a building inspector says that it's safe to turn those utilities back on. If you experienced significant smoke damage and the home's occupants include elderly persons, young children, or those with chronic health conditions, you may be wise to stay until the smoke cleanup is complete. Contracting with a company experienced in fire damage restoration can often get you back home sooner because they'll have the resources to hire and manage the many tradespeople who will need to work together to make the home liveable again.

DIY soot removal is not recommended. Commercially available products can cause permanent damage to surfaces. Soot itself is primarily oil-based, but that residue also contains toxic, possibly biohazard contaminants.

Smoke damage is rarely limited to one area of the house, and it leaves behind a residue that can hide in crevices and out-of-reach areas, and a simple "airing out" may not be sufficient. We recommend consulting with a smoke damage technician who can help you troubleshoot the next steps.

Anytime the moisture levels in your home are at 60% or higher, mold can grow. What's frustrating for many property owners is that they don't see a puddle on the floor or water dripping from the ceiling. When mold grows, the source of the moisture is usually hidden under floorboards or behind walls.

It could be. Because mold spores are microscopic and airborne, you'll breathe them into your lungs. Depending on the type of mold and how well your immune system functions, you may develop some serious health symptoms that could result from mold. That's why a mold remediation company takes mold removal so seriously. The space affected by mold is isolated and contained during cleaning, so the spores won't spread to other areas of the house, and the remediation team stays suited up in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during the process.

For most surfaces in your home, bleach won't eliminate your mold problem. It's the "iceberg effect." Visible mold is usually a small percentage of the actual amount of mold growth. Bleach can't kill mold on porous surfaces like wood, and while tile or fiberglass surfaces can be cleaned with bleach, often the mold has spread far deeper. The reason why mold remediation companies don't recommend DIY cleanup isn't that they want to make more money; they know, in their experience, that a mold problem is usually far more invasive than can be seen with the naked eye. Simply cleaning the surfaces can provide false assurances that you got rid of the mold, only to have it come back time and time again.

Sometimes mold remediation is included if the cause of the mold was a "covered peril" like a burst water heater or water damage caused by firefighters extinguishing a fire in your house. Gradual water damage - like a leaking pipe or hose - will often cause mold growth, but your insurance coverage will usually not cover that by claiming that it was caused by poor maintenance or neglect. If your insurance company denies your claim, you should request an inspection from a mold remediation company that can help you document the source of the mold.

If the inspection/assessment process could pinpoint the source and cause of the mold growth, once that source is repaired, you could be relatively confident about the success of remediation. Ask if your restoration technician has the IICRC certification for "Applied Microbial Remediation." You can also request a "post-remediation mold clearance" from a third-party mold inspector to re-test the area for any remaining traces of mold before the area is treated with a sealer or encapsulant to resist future mold growth.

Leaving sink cabinet doors ajar allows warm air to circulate around the pipes to help keep them from freezing. Wrapping pipes near exterior walls will also help protect them from freezing.

Infrared heat lamps or space heaters can gently thaw frozen pipes if you notice frost accumulation. Be careful not to heat the pipes too aggressively, though, as that may also cause them to burst. Remember never to leave a heat source unattended to avoid fires.

Pipes running along exterior walls, especially below ground level, are prone to freezing and bursting during cold weather.

Temperatures 20 degrees Fahrenheit or less, sustained for 3 days or more, will likely cause frozen pipes. If the weather is also windy, any temperature below 32 degrees Fahrenheit can also create a frozen pipe situation.

Inexpensive styrofoam spigot covers go a long way to prevent the adjacent plumbing from freezing and draining any water from those faucets after shutting off their water supply inside the building. Most homeowners forget this important step, only to have their basements or crawl spaces flood in the spring when they turn their outdoor faucets on for the first time after winter.

While it is very true that you can't just drape a tarp over a gap in the roof, tack down some nails and call it good enough, some form of a fastener is required to secure the tarp while causing the least damage to the "healthy" areas of the roof. We wrap the edges of the tarp around boards to pull it taught and then carefully screw the board itself into the roof deck or the underside of the eaves.

Generally, we'll wait for a break in the rain before climbing onto a roof when the rain is still sheeting due to the safety risk. One of the best benefits of choosing Buffalo Restoration is that we live right here in Southwest Montana, so we'll be watching the weather along with you. Just give us a call, and together we'll determine the best time to tarp your roof.

Probably not. Most attics lack the ventilation or air movement to draw moisture out. If your roof is leaking, there is probably some water damage as well. Not to worry; our team includes IICRC-certified water damage restoration technicians who will use moisture meters to determine the scope of the roof leak and place air movers and dehumidifiers. Because we're licensed general contractors, too, we can handle any of the repairs inside the house and the ones on your roof!

They often go hand-in-hand, depending on the extent of the damage. If your roof deck was compromised by the impact of a heavy branch or tree, we'll install a plywood board over the gap before securing a tarp across the roof. Board up is required whenever there is damage that reduces the structural integrity of your house until permanent repairs can be made. Roof tarping, on its own, is only meant to keep out rain or other weather from causing more damage. We'll know the best course of action when we get to your place for the free inspection.

The Buffalo Restoration team employs trained professionals to remove the ice and snow build-up from your residential or commercial roof. Ice dam removal will not damage the roof if done properly by trained professionals.

Yes, Buffalo Restoration is fully licensed, bonded, and insured for residential and commercial buildings in the state of Montana.

Generally, yes. We provide 24/7 emergency service, and if you have water leaking through your roof from an ice dam, we will respond immediately to start the removal and roof repair process.

That is hard to determine. Many factors go into how long it takes to remove an ice dam, including weather. If it's warmer out, the ice gets removed much faster. Another significant factor is how far up the ice goes on the roof. Ice can range from 2 feet up the roof to 15 feet. The more ice there is, the longer it will take to completely remove the ice.

Yes. Once water is leaking through your roof and into your home, most insurance companies will cover the cost to remove the ice from your roof. We always advise checking with your insurance company to ensure you understand what is covered.

An efficient HVAC system keeps your home comfortable and saves you money. The first and most important way to increase the efficiency of your system is to regularly clean and replace your filters. You'll also want to schedule routine maintenance and tune-ups for your entire system, including ductwork. Programmable thermostats greatly decrease the load on your system, which saves money on bills and wear and tear on your system. Finally, although it's a big upfront investment, considering a system upgrade will pay off in the long run.

Programmable thermostats can range from run-of-the-mill electronic thermostats to sophisticated smart thermostats, but they have accuracy and efficiency in common. Because they're automated once programmed, they offer both convenience and savings. Programmable thermostats allow you to customize your heating and cooling to different times of the day, optimizing your HVAC system and cutting costs by keeping your system as efficient as possible. Programmable thermostats have been shown to have approximately a half degree variance in temperatures which is a stark contrast to the up to five degrees of variance seen in manual thermostats. This is hugely important because each degree can account for 1-2% of savings in your heating and cooling bills. Smart thermostats have the added benefit of running on wifi and being accessible anywhere to adjust your heating and cooling even when you're away from home.

While the exact length of time a filter can last depends on several variables, a good rule of thumb is to never go longer than 60 days between replacing your disposable air filters or cleaning your washable filters. The state of your air filter greatly impacts the efficiency of your system, so replacing/cleaning your filters is an absolutely necessary part of your HVAC maintenance schedule. Some of the factors that determine the length of time your filter will last are:

  • The model of the air filter
  • The indoor air quality
  • Whether the home is occupied daily or not
  • The number of occupants in the home
  • The number of pets in the home
  • Whether or not anyone suffers from allergies
  • The air pollution levels around the home

Many people often balk at paying a professional to inspect their household appliances when they seem to be working perfectly, but professional care upfront can save big in the long run in both money and comfort levels. Maintenance should be scheduled at least once a year. The best time to schedule maintenance is just before the time you'll be needing the system the most – so either going into a cold winter or a hot summer. If you're using the system equally during these seasons, it's optimal to maintain it in spring and fall to ensure that your heating and cooling are running efficiently. A professional technician will be able to assess your system during an inspection, diagnose any issues, and perform any cleaning or repairs that are necessary beyond the routine maintenance you can perform yourself. This will ensure that your system is running at the optimum efficiency and that any problems are caught as early as possible.

In between professional maintenance, you can do your own upkeep to ensure your system is performing at its peak. The most important thing you can do is remember to change your filter regularly – every 30-60 days is ideal. Check the battery in your thermostat and give it a once-over to ensure it's not damaged and working properly. If you have an outdoor unit, make sure it's clear of dirt and debris that can build up and reduce airflow and drainage. You'll also want to make sure the unit is still level. Finally, clean any buildup and debris in and around your indoor unit and ductwork.

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