Our finished basement flooded thanks to a backed up sink and the iron filter discharge running. As far as we've been able to discern, our insurance does cover this. We've had a cleanup crew sent out by the insurance company. However, I've got some concerns on how it's being handled, specifically that not enough and not enough of the right work is being done.
posted by LANA! to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
First, I apologize for the length, I'm trying to capture as much detail as possible. My home insurance is through State Farm, and I am in Wisconsin. The house is a bi-level, so there isn't really a true basement, rather the lower level is half underground and finished.
The flooding happened late Saturday night, my spouse and I were both in bed at the time. I came downstairs, probably around 11pm, to see standing water. A quick check of where all the water came from (sort of quick, I was half asleep and stunned, it took me a bit to wake up enough to figure it out). The sink in the laundry room was nearly full of water. The whole house iron filter was repaired recently, and it's discharge is much faster than before and I think that may have contributed to the flooding. But we don't know what caused the sink to be plugged, all I know is that when I discovered the flood, the sink was full and water had filled the laundry room floor, seeped through the walls into the living room, down the hall way, into the space under our stairs, and into a bedroom.
I think it was a slow drain, because water was going down in the sink, about 4 inches when I found, it. It just must have been going really slowly. The iron filter usually starts around 9:30pm, I can't recall how long it runs for. The iron filter discharges a lot of waste water, and under pressure, so when it's working right, it really puts out a lot of water. We were able to clear the drain with a plunger, but nothing actually came up from it so I still don't know the cause. The iron filter is off for the time being.
The laundry room is linoleum. The living room is carpet but no pad. The bedroom has carpeting and a pad. The walls are drywall.
My husband got the water cleaned up as best he could and set up a bunch of fans. He did the work so we could wait to call our insurance company rather than calling an emergency service. He contacted the insurance company Sunday morning, they instructed us to wait until Monday to have their people come out. Says it will be fine if it's addressed within 48 hours. So we did. Meanwhile, the air was so awful that I ended up going to a hotel in the wee morning hours Monday (about 4am). I have allergies and asthma though, and was getting a migraine. My husband opted to stayed home with the pets as it wasn't affecting him like it was me.
Monday afternoon, the water damage remediation people come out with my husband home, start getting some fans set up, molding removed from the walls and a big dehumidifier set up. However, they decided there is just too much stuff down there, so they need to get a portable storage unit to move things out of the downstairs before they can get serious.
Yesterday (Tuesday), they came back and I'm the one that was there with them. They spend their time focusing on the living room, but I keep asking, what about the laundry room, as it's pretty cramped, and how are they going to get that dried. They gave me a hand wavy answer that they've got moisture detectors as long as one side is dry, it will "suck" the water out of the other side. So I asked them about the bedroom, which has a carpet with a pad, and they say the same thing. Now, the bedroom, just inside where it flooded, has two shelves and I was concerned water may have made it under there. The cleaner is not concerned. He says the way their equipment works, it won't be a problem. In fact, supposedly their dehumidifier is so powerful, it could be a risk to some fish tanks in another room, and they promise to put up a plastic barrier to that room.
As they're focusing on the living room, I ask about the laundry room side of things, and in talking to the lead guy, he thinks that the flooding started at the iron filter, in another room also adjacent the living room, but across the hall from the laundry room. I explained the whole thing again; that started in the laundry room, at the point where the iron filter discharges into the sink, not actually at the iron filter. He says not to worry, they'll get everything up on blocks and put their big fans in there. (And checked with my husband later that night, he indicated he had trouble getting them to understand the same thing).
They did find one place with mold, which they said the insurance company will not cover because it takes more than 72 hours for mold to visibly grow. I asked how that could be since we have, you know, mold right where it had flooded, and they said that it could have leaked from the furnace which is right next to that wall and if it was a slow drip, could have been it. Possible, we've had trouble with that furnace and ac a couple years back having to have the furnace replaced, and additionally, the home inspector that reviewed our home before we purchased it missed a bunch of things, it wouldn't surprise me he missed something like that. Unfortunately it's taken us years to find those things, so I don't think we could do anything on that end.
Anyway, I wasn't about to fight over it; I told them to remove it and we'll eat that cost, so they did.
I had to leave while they were still working, and they called me when they were done, letting me know they'd be back tomorrow (Wednesday) to check the progress. Now it's been a dizzying couple of days, and I've finally gotten a chance to look up more information on water damage and cleanup. And I have some big concerns.
The biggest is that I keep reading in cases of flood that you need to trash the carpet and any drywall that got damp, up to 12" above the water level, otherwise you risk mold growing inside the wall. However, I've also read a number of things that suggest the mold panic is overblown. Several websites have said that sometimes they can just drill into the wall and put a water sensor in there, and determine from there if they need to remove the drywall. That was not done either.
The laundry room seems to be an afterthought. They did not put everything on blocks, but did move a shelving unit away from the wall. They did not remove the molding. I'm not sure if they still don't understand that is where the water problem came from or if they just gave up. They would have to get behind the dryer, the furnace, and two closed and plumbed 30 gallon barrels of water (for my fish). I asked them repeatedly if I needed to empty those or not, and was told not, they'd just "tip them and get blocks under there".
They did zero with the bedroom that had water seeping in. In fact, they closed the door so there is no realistic way that their fans could pull water.
They didn't put the zipper vapor barrier up to the room with my fish like they said would be necessary. We've closed it and padded the bottom of the door with a towel for the time being.
Lastly, we don't have great power in the place, especially where they need to put the fans. We told them that, and ran an extension cord to the washing machine circuit. Yet they plugged additional fans into outlets we told them couldn't carry that much load, and managed to trip a circuit and didn't tell us; I discovered it when getting back home and the clock was flashing. I don't know if I should be upset about this, but it left a bunch of fish equipment not running because it needs to be manually restarted. Fortunately I was home a couple hours later to fix it.
They are supposed to come back tomorrow and check the progress. However, even if they come back tomorrow and , it will be past the magic 72 hour window they quoted me for things needing to be lifted up and dried.
I'm concerned that they aren't doing enough to ensure a mold overgrowth. And I'm concerned x number of months down the line we'll have a mold problem, which the insurance company emphatically states that they do not cover. I'm not sure if what they're doing is enough, or if we should push for more. Right now we've mostly been dealing with the lead remediator, except for the initial contact to the insurance agent. I'm not sure if what they're doing is acceptable, or if we need to hire someone independently to verify what they did is okay. (And if I do, how to find someone trustworthy). If we should be pressuring the insurance agent, or if we need to take it even a step further and get a lawyer involved (this may be premature, but water damage and subsequent mold problem horror stories abound).
One thing to note is that the carpet isn't in the greatest condition to begin with. It came with the house, the previous owners had dogs and we have dogs and cats. So it's well-worn, but it's serviceable. We were eventually going to replace it anyway, or possibly put in something new like some of the nicer vinyl floors (wood would be too risky and tile to expensive), and in a way even if the insurance company won't pay for it, now might be an ideal time since they've removed so much from the downstairs. However, we also just paid the deductible, which means we may not have the money to afford doing it now. I mention this because I wonder if the insurance company is trying to avoid replacing it because it's in shoddy condition. I'm not sure if that's a possibility.
I also fully accept that these guys are the experts and I really might not have any idea. The internet is, well, the internet. I don't know if I'm reading worst case scenarios, or if there really is a problem with how this is being handled. And they sound like they know what they're doing. It's just what I read is different than what I'm hearing from the remediators. My husband and I are absolutely out of our depths on this.