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Fire Damage FAQs

The Nuts-n-Bolts of Fire & Smoke Cleanup

Is it safe to stay in our home while repairs or emergency services are being completed?

In most situations it is safe to stay in your home.  Your daily routine may be disrupted and some of our equipment can seem loud and make it difficult to sleep.  In some cases where the house is inhabitable, we would recommend to the insurance company that additional living arrangements may be required.  Approval of alternate living accommodations must come from your insurance company.

What is the difference between On The Spot and a contractor?

We have spent thousands of dollars on specialized training and equipment, dealing specifically with fire & smoke damage.  Our main objective is to minimize the impact on your day to day living.   If you hire a general contractor, often they do not understand the concept of saving/cleaning verses replacing.

The fire department recommended that our home be boarded up.  Is this something that On The Spot can do?

Yes.  On The Spot will be on your site within 2 hours or less for the initial call to board up broken windows and doors, provide temporary demo and support to provide a safe structure, and/or tarp your roof to create a weather tight envelope.  Our goal on a board up is to provide fast service to secure and prevent further damage to your home.

How long will my restoration project take?

All smoke and fire damages are unique in size, construction complexity, and severity.  On The Spot is very aggressive in its time lines for returning clients to a restored home.  Please speak with your On The Spot Project Manager to give you a written schedule and time line on your project.

Have you ever worked on a project like mine?

Every project is unique in itself and your home can be more than simply where you sleep at night.  Rest assured that On The Spot has worked on thousands of restoration projects both large and small.  It is extremely likely that we have worked on a project similar to yours and we will give it the attention and detail that we would our very own homes.

My house is wet after the fire department was here, can you dry it out?

Yes.  We use specialized equipment to dry out your house.  We are highly trained and certified in water damage cleanup and restoration.  (Please see our “water damage question & answer” guide.)

How do I get rid of smoke smell?

There are many techniques to removing smoke damage and smell, depending on the extent of the damage.  Charring on wood may require soda blasting and encapsulation and ozone.  Least severe smoke removal may be taken care of using hydroxyl and chemical sponges.

Will I still smell smoke when you are done?

We use very specialized equipment and products to remove and/or neutralize smoke.  We use the latest techniques available to put your home back to a pre-loss condition.  Our job is not complete until you are completely satisfied.

Why do I have so many cobwebs?

They’re called “smoke webs” and are formed from smoke particles linking together forming a chain.  When you see smoke webs throughout your home, it is not from your lack of housekeeping.

Why does it look like water is running down from my ceiling?

Smoke is made up of small water droplets.  Smoke rises and concentrates at the ceiling and causes large amounts of moisture to collect.

Will the smoke odors go away on their own?

Not necessarily.  The smoke odors will only go away if the smoke residue has been removed and effective steps have been taken to neutralize the smell.  In other words, that overwhelming smell may linger for a long time if you don’t take steps to get rid of it as quickly as possible.

Can I clean up the smoke damage on my own?

It may be all right to clean it up on you own, but you’ll want to talk to our smoke damage cleanup professionals first.  Please give us a call, and our trained team members will help to assess your situation.  If the smoke damage is limited and confined to a small portion of your home, it may be all right to clean up the smoke on your own.

If you use ozone, will it hurt me or my things?

We are very careful when using ozone and will only use it on items that will not be harmed.  After we have used ozone, we will only allow you in the area when it is safe.  We also now use Hydroxyl Generators for odor control.  They are totally safe to use around people and pets.

What is an air scrubber?

We use air scrubbers to help clean the air.  They use two pre-filters and a large HEPA filter.  Air scrubbers remove 99.97% of all air-borne particles, making a safer work and living environment.

What About All of My Belongings?

A lot of the valuables in my house were burned in the fire.  What can I do?

On The Spot has a contents restoration division that will be able to clean and restore many of your valuables to their original state.  So, don’t give up on your valuables just yet.  We have a high success rate at restoring everything from electronics to heirlooms to clothing.

What is going to happen with my damaged furniture and/or contents?

We will do our best to restore your contents to a pre-loss condition.  If we are not able to restore any items we will set them aside to be itemized and turned in to your insurance adjuster.  Your adjuster will determine coverage according to your policy.

 Where do my personal items go when they leave my property?

An initial assessment of your personal goods will be made and an inventory will be taken.  No contents are disposed of without your written consent as well as approval from your insurance adjuster.  Items, which are deemed salvageable, are inventoried, carefully packed, moved off site and stored in our secured facility.  These contents are then processed in our warehouse and stored until your repairs are completed.  Once the repairs are completed, the processed contents are moved back to your home or business.  A detailed inventory will be provided.

Will I have access to my belongings while they are in storage?

Yes.  With advance notice we can schedule time for an On The Spot representative to meet with you and provide access to your requested items.

Can you salvage smoke damaged clothing & contents?

Yes, most soft contents can be salvaged.  On The Spot is a full service restoration company and are able to clean soft contents through specialty cleaning and laundering.

What is ultrasonic cleaning & how does it work?

Ultrasound is energy in the form of a wave-motion, which is above the maximum level of audible sound.  This energy is transmitted to the cleaning solution via a bank of transducers underneath the machine.  The result of this process is termed “cavitations”, tiny bubbles of vaporized liquid that implode when they reach a high pressure.  Cleaning takes place as shock waves dislodge soil from the surface of contaminated articles placed in the water bath.

The Smoke Odor is Gone – What About Repairs?

Is the final choice on the finish product my decision or the adjusters?

The choice of repairs is always yours.  Your insurance company typically covers replacement with like, kind, and quality materials.  If you choose to do something else, you may have to pay the difference out of your pocket.

Do I have to replace with the same materials, or can I upgrade?

You may upgrade; however we will need you to sign a change order. Showing the difference in price and giving us the authorization for repairs, and you agreeing to pay the difference in cost.

What if we want to make changes during the re-construction phase?

We will happily provide a separate quote over and beyond the insurance portion for any upgrades or changes you request.  Any changes with the insurance repair scope will need to be well communicated and approved by the insurance adjuster.  Any agreed changes will be well documented and a Change of Work Order must be signed.

What if we want to do the repairs ourselves?

The most critical part of the fire or smoke damage is the drying process and odor control.  If you want the odor guaranteed to be gone, we recommend that our trained and certified technicians perform the repairs.  If you want us to only to the emergency repairs, we will gladly bill you insurance company for those repairs separately.  You are always welcome to do the repairs yourself but please keep in mind that On The Spot has a team of very qualified repair specialists.

 Who’s Paying For All of This?

Will my insurance provider pay for repairs?

Fire damage cleanup can be very expensive.  Fortunately, almost all standard home policies will pay all the costs of recovery up to the maximum payout.  As we’re cleaning up your home, we’ll work with your adjuster to ensure that your out-of-pocket expenses are as low as possible.

Do I need an estimate before you start any cleaning or repairs?

Often the amount of the cost to clean contents is unknown; however, our pricing is based on standardized pricing for the industry.   We use a computer-estimating program that downloads new price lists every month.  Your insurance company also uses the same program and price lists.  When an adjuster is assigned to your claim, we will explain to them what we have done up to that point for any emergency repairs, then get any authorization before further steps are taken.  Before any repairs are made, we will have an agreed-upon estimate with your insurance company.

Who do I pay my insurance deductible to?

Your deductible is paid to the company whom you’ve hired to perform the dry-out process (in this case, it’s On The Spot).  Your insurance company will subtract your deductible from our bill and cut a check for the balance.  As an example, if you have a deductible of $250.00 and our bill is $1000.00

Insurance check           $   750.00

Deductible                     $   250.00

                         Total amount paid         $ 1000.00

(Note: This is an example only.)

What is the “Specialized Equipment Deposit”?

In almost every case, when our crew gets started on your fire / smoke damage project, they’ll be setting up and leaving behind any number of pieces of equipment specially designed to remove air-borne soot and odor.  And although you or your insurance company won’t be charged for our services until after all the work is done, we do require a deposit for our equipment of $250.00.

And this deposit will be applied to your insurance deductible or the final bill.

Will my insurance company pay for the power used by all of this equipment?

Although all insurance companies set their own policies regarding payment for electrical usage, the likelihood that your particular carrier paying for the electricity use is good.  Most of the time the insurance company will pay for the increase in usage compared to the same month of the previous year.  We recommend you speak with your adjuster regarding electrical charges.

Will your company work with & bill my insurance?

We will make every effort to help you through the insurance process.  We have a great relationship with all major insurance companies.  However, we do not have a contract with your insurance company.  What this means is that although we submit all charges to your insurance company, they are under no obligation to pay us.  They are only legally obliged to pay their insured (you).  For this reason, we will work very closely with you and your insurance company to allow for timely payment, but please keep in mind that our service agreement is with you.

I received a bill from your company BUT the job is not done – What’s up?

There are 2-3 parts to every fire / smoke loss.  They consist of namely, the cleanup of building (also know as “mitigation”), the contents cleaning,  and the repairing/reconstruction of the job.  Because they are separate in nature, they are billed and collected individually after the completion of each.  So, when you receive a bill before the “whole project” is complete, it is likely for the “cleaning” portion of the job.  The “repair/reconstruction” part of the project will be invoiced after final completion.

Why do you need my mortgage information?

Due to the laws, rules, regulations and policies of insurance companies, many times when the insurance claim exceeds a designated dollar amount, the company is required to include the names of all “interested parties” on the insurance draft.  If you have a mortgage attached to your home it is likely that your insurance company has an obligation to your mortgage company the same as you do.  Therefore, your mortgage company’s name will be included on the draft and they will have to “sign off” before payment can be completed.

Here at On The Spot, we’re well versed in how to work with your mortgage company and to make the process easy on all parties.  But, we’ll need your help.  That way, you don’t have to worry about the stress of working with your mortgage company.  That’s why we ask you for your mortgage information.

I received the insurance payment and my mortgage company’s name is Included.  What should I do?

We understand the process and can assist you through it.  We will contact your mortgage company and provide them with the necessary claim documentation so they can process the insurance payment.  We’re happy to work with you or on your behalf through the mortgage company process.  Please call our office and we will gladly walk you through this process.

The Meat & Potatoes

Why must we go through all this paperwork prior to you working?

We try to stay as organized as possible to help insure the quality and customer service you deserve.  Paper work is a very important part of the foundation to help us to achieve this.

What is the “authorization for repairs and direction of payment” form and why do I need to sign it?

The form is a written agreement between our company and you, the home or business owner.  It’s a legal document that makes you aware of the events that are about to take place and gives us your permission to complete them.  It also gives your insurance company permission and directs them to make payment to our company for the services we’re about to provide.  As with any agreement, it needs to be agreed upon before any work proceeds.  Thus, we’ll need your signature and authorization before we start work.  You will be provided with a copy of the signed document.

Should we make arrangements for you to get in our house?

Yes, it is very important that we have access to the job.  If you are not going to be available, then we need to work out a plan to gain access.

Do I need to do anything?

We have worked very hard at building a business where your responsibilities are very minimal.  For the most part you should be able to just go about your daily activities without much worry or concern.  However, there may be a few items, such as floor coverings & paint that you will need to pick out.   Your Project Manager will talk to you about the things that will need to be replaced and supply you with a list of things that will require your “personal touch”.

 Do you guarantee your work?

Yes, we guarantee our work.  After we complete your job, your Project Manager will do a “final walk-through” with you.  When you are completely satisfied with the work we will ask you to sign a work completion and satisfaction form.