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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Fire Damage to Your Rental Home

7/6/2020 (Permalink)

Looking into a fire damaged home through a burnt window. Home fires happen when we least expect them, make sure that you have home/renters insurance to protect your personal belongings.

Renting a single family home, apartment or condo may be the way that you personally choose your housing.  There are many perks that people really like about renting.  The biggest perk is that you are not typically responsible for the major incidents that may occur within those four walls like an electrical fire, busted frozen water pipe, roof leak, or even when that 15 year old furnace decides it has served its purpose.  While those are great perks, you still have the responsibility of your own personal property that may become damaged due to a number of issues that may arise while living in a home you personally do not own.  Many renters mistakenly assume that their landlord's homeowner's policy will cover them if disaster strikes.  I too felt that way at one point, until I ended up on the restoration side of the disaster.  I thought, well if the homeowner/condo owner neglected issues like water pipes, electrical and even the roof.  There is no way that their insurance wouldn't cover my personal property.  How in the world could I be responsible for something I had nothing to do with?  This was my personal theory until I began doing the work I do now.  

I truly didn’t have a full understanding of how important that renters insurance was until I was working an apartment complex fire.  The flames were contained to the one apartment, but that wasn't the biggest issue.  It was the smoke and soot that affected nearly 20 apartments throughout 7 floors.  The smoke and soot got into apartments on the other side of the building.  Here's the thing, one smoke particle is half the size of bacteria, 1/8 the size of a red blood cell neither one of those are visible to the naked eye.  Smoke and soot will find little pathways to follow holes around plumbing, and also find its way to your second floor or cooler parts of the home.  So essentially we had to pretest every apartment within that building.  A good majority of the condo renters didn't understand how they were going to have to pay for the smoke and soot cleanup within their apartments when it was a single condo that was the source of the smoke and soot.  

Unfortunately, that was the case for quite a few people within that complex.  They ended up having to attempt to clean their contents themselves, even when the owners of that condo were able to have their structure cleaned professionally.  The cleaning of smoke and soot can be very tedious and time consuming even for professionals like SERVPRO of North Kanawha Valley & Teays Valley.  Our technicians are trained and certified to identify and remediate smoke and soot properly.    

There are four types of soot: 

  • Dry smoke residue: Powdery, dry small and non-smearing particles resulting from fires that burn quickly at a high heat
  • Wet Smoke residue: Smearing, sticky and strong-smelling particles caused by fires that smolder at low temperatures, resulting in smoke webs that may be challenging to remove.
  • Fuel oil soot: Dispersed by puff backs from furnaces
  • Protein Residue: Very strong-smelling, but practically invisible residue that can ruin the color of varnish or paint. 

Renters insurance is typically covered for a small monthly premium, the average renter’s policy has a $20,000 - $25,000 worth of coverage for your contents.  There are even rider policies (Which is coverage for things that may be worth more than the per-item limit on your renter’s insurance policy).  The value of your personal contents can add up quickly.  The most important aspect of renters insurance is deciding whether to purchase replacement value or actual cost value coverage.  While renters insurance is important for smoke and soot, it also covers many other things.

  • Fire, lighting
  • Windstorm, hail
  • Explosions
  • Riots
  • Damage by aircraft
  • Damage by vehicle (As long as it's not your own because you fell asleep in the driveway.)
  • Damage from smoke
  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Volcanic eruption (Hopefully not needed in the Kanawha and Putnam counties)
  • Falling objects
  • Weight of snow, ice, sleet
  • Damage from steam- heating/water-heating appliances/systems
  • Leakage or overflow from water or steam
  •  Freezing of plumbing, heating, air conditioning
  •  Short-circuit damage caused by electrical appliances.

Bottom line renters insurance is essential and relatively inexpensive so call your friendly insurance agent and get a quote.

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