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CATCO is a full-service catastrophe (fire, water, storm, flood, mold) restoration company. The articles appearing here give you a glimpse of our work, our industry and tips to help you with anything related to our services or those that may help owners facing these challenges.

Do your “Homework” Before Your Summer Vacation: Protect Your Home from Losses While You’re Away

It’s summertime. Many of us are making packing lists, checking reservations and maintaining vehicles before our trips. Just don’t forget to prep your house before you lock the door and head out of town.  As a disaster restoration company, we’ve seen many homes severely damaged while the occupants were gone.  While we certainly need business, we prefer to help our clients prevent losses or minimize them when we can.  There are lists on the internet that can help you prepare, but here is ours:
Summer Vacation Camping
Camping one of Summer's Possibilities
  1. Hire a House Sitter/Pet Sitter if You Can.  Ask a responsible close friend or relative to stay at your home to effect the best “occupied” look for your home.  If you have the extra funds, you may even be able to hire someone.  That person can take care of your pets and your home, take in mail, newspapers, mow the lawn, move vehicles in and out, and generally make the house look “lived in.”
  2. Create a “Lived In” Look Otherwise. If #1 is not an option for you, do whatever you can to create an occupied look by having a neighbor collect mail and newspapers for you, have someone mow the lawn, set timers at different intervals on lamps and perhaps a radio inside.  You may even ask someone to park a car occasionally in the driveway.  If you have no other options, at least place a vacation hold on your mail and newspaper deliveries.
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Water Damage: Signs You’ve Chosen the Right Crew for Your Restoration

It’s been storming for days, your sump pump quit working, and you had water spreading onto the finished side of your basement. You called someone you found online to help remove the water and dry it out. Now that they are in your home, you’re relieved, yet a little worried.  How do you know you called the right company?
Water Damage
We all feel that little ball of remorse forming inside when we’ve contacted a contractor for any reason, but there are things you can identify as good signs you’ve hired the right restoration firm. Of course, if you haven’t yet made that call, review this list first:
  1. How long have they been around?  We all know that most businesses fail within five years of start-up.  If you’re looking for guaranteed work, you may want to be sure the company has been around longer, especially in your locality.  Even a national franchise that opened just within the past couple years may be gone next year.
  2. Are they restoration specialists? There are many companies in related fields that decide to get into water damage clean up as an added service—and to reap the added dollars.  Some do a great job, but many are there just to open the door for their sales staff to sell you a plumbing, carpet cleaning or other service contract.  You should look for a full-service restoration firm or one that specializes in water extraction and drying, as their first line of service, not as an afterthought.
  3. Are they an IICRC Certified Firm? The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification is an international non-profit certifying body that develops standards and certification programs for the cleaning and restoration industry. Certified Firms have earned the right to display the IICRC logo as a symbol of quality. They’ve met a rigorous list of standards in business ethics and expertise. To learn more, or to see a list of firms in your area, you can go to their website. http://www.iicrc.org/iicrc-benefit/for-consumers/
  4. Are they identifiable?  Does the company have a good online presence, with a website that describes their services and their direct contact information?  Are they listed on the local Better Business Bureau website? Do they have well-marked company vehicles?  Are the employees wearing uniforms or badges? 
  5. Did they bring clean equipment?  A good restorer will bring in extraction equipment, then high speed air movers and dehumidifiers to dry your property as efficiently as possible. What does that equipment look like? Is it clean and identified as belonging to them, or does it looked like they pulled it from a swamp or through World War III? Cross contamination between projects is likely if the company doesn’t clean, sanitize and service their equipment between jobs.  And you don’t want to breathe in whatever was flowing through the last sewer loss they handled.      
    Want this dirty thing in your home?
  6. Do they regularly work with recognizable insurance companies?  While the restorer works for the property owner, the good ones also coordinate their restoration with reputable insurance adjusters. Their references should include a list of the insurance companies they’ve worked with on projects big and small.
  7. Are they bonded and insured? Anyone who sets foot on your property needs to be covered for liability and workers’ compensation. Part of the bonding process means workers are properly vetted as well. Reputable restorers have background checked and tested their employees to comply with numerous insurance programs as well as their own bonding company’s requirements.
  8. Do they explain the process to you? Both the person who answers your phone call and onsite crew should be able to explain the process to you, including what work they’ll be performing, products they’ll use, and why if you ask.
Many insurance companies will either directly refer a company to you, or they will give you a list of those with whom they are comfortable.  It’s your decision, as you are the property owner. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask them.  A good restoration representative will be happy to answer them. 
For more information about a reputable contractor in the St. Louis and Kansas City metro areas, go to our website at www.CATCOInc.com.
Drying equipment ready to go
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