Fires, floods or other disasters can strike suddenly as a result of accidents, natural events or willful acts. When such tragedies occur, fire and water damage restoration services can help homeowners switch their priorities from lamenting what was lost to helping salvage damage property.
While it's important to remain realistic, these services can often show victims that their situations may not be as bleak as they seem after a disaster. Therefore, choosing the right service to help with fire and water damage restoration can be a difficult one, necessitating careful consideration of what each one offers.
Need Fire or Water Damage Restoration?
We'll match you with the right company that knows exactly what you need.
Top 9 Best Rated Fire and Water Damage Restoration
ServiceMaster offers disaster-restoration services and specializes in repairing fire and water damage. It has been in business for more than half a century and currently operates over 4,500 franchises worldwide.
|Read 553 Reviews|
PuroClean is an emergency service for properties damaged by water, fire, mold, mildew or bio hazard. The company sends immediate aid to property owners, insurance companies and residential customers in the US and Canada.
|Read 13 Reviews|
Stanley Steemer offers residential and commercial steam cleaning services that include furniture, carpet, tile and grout. The company also offers hardwood and air duct cleaning, plus water restoration services.
|Read 16 Reviews|
Indoor-Restore is a real-estate services company that specializes in detecting, assessing and eliminating indoor contaminants and property damage. The company founded in 1993 offers services to clients all over the country.
|Read 15 Reviews|
Paul Davis offers services to clean up and repair water and fire damage as well as mold and other issues. It was founded in 1966 and currently has a network of over 370 independent franchises across the United States and Canada.
|Read 16 Reviews|
Rainbow International Restoration offers emergency services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in case of flood, fire or water damage to property. Certified technicians also clean and deodorize properties that have suffered damage.
|Read 6 Reviews|
BELFOR Property Restoration offers a range of emergency cleanup and restoration services for public and private properties. In addition to basic services, BELFOR offers soot removal, contents restoration and machinery repair.
|Read 11 Reviews|
SERVPRO is a cleanup and restoration company that was founded in 1967 to address the need for restoration professionals. The company was launched in Sacramento, California, but now consists of over 1,650 franchises nationwide.
|Read 170 Reviews|
AdvantaClean offers cleaning and restoration services for residential, commercial and government buildings. Professional staff are trained to respond to mold and mildew damage as well as clean air ducts and vents.
What features matter most?
It is imperative to make certain that the company in question has all the required state and local certifications to complete the restoration job. These certifications should also be up-to-date.
- Certification: Look for credentials from the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, also known as the IICRC, for well-trained fire and water damage experts.
- Sub-certifications: The IICRC has additional specializations such as mold remediation or structural and commercial Drying. Ask the company for details about their sub-certifications.
- Restoration vs. reconstruction: Note that the IICRC refers to restoration, not reconstruction. If the damage is to severe that contractors are required to partially or completely rebuild/reconstruct properties, make sure that they have all the proper local licenses and certifications necessary.
Every disaster is unique and requires the utmost care. If a company begins operating from the wrong starting assumptions, it can prolong or completely derail the restoration project unnecessarily.
- Relevant experience: Make sure that the company providing restoration has dealt with many previous situations that are similar to the current task at hand. For example, standing water from a flood could become contaminated with chemicals or substances that make it a biohazard. Make sure the company knows what they are dealing with before they come out to avoid added confusion that slows down the job.
- Comprehensive evaluations: Don't hold back any information. Even details that don't seem to be significant initially can greatly impact the company's professional evaluation of the restoration requirements or the extent of structural damage.
Different kinds of materials - such as furniture, computers, floors, etc. - require different treatments under very specific timetables.
- High-priority assets: Decide which assets have the highest priority and then look for the company that specializes in that particular area.
- Practicality: Replacing property or recreating data may be less expensive than restoration. Don't compromise your practicality.
- Pre-inspection reports: Some types of leases require a pre-inspection report by qualified restoration personnel to establish insurability levels.
Time to recovery
Hours, and sometimes minutes, can make all the difference in what is recoverable. Make sure the company will be ready the moment disaster strikes.
- Rapid response: The first few hours after a disaster can make all the difference in terms of what is recoverable. Look for rapid response times. Also critical, is advice on what to do immediately and what needs attention within the first 24 hours.
- Schedules: Look for a company that can give a full, detailed schedule of steps that they will need to perform before an estimated completion date.
- Variable costs: Be prepared for costs to vary greatly based on factors that aren't obvious at first, such as structural damage and the extent of smoke damage.
Some restoration companies offer storage facilities. Find out how much space the company has to house your undamaged assets and what their storage rates are.
- Storage conditions: Make sure that storage facilities are nearby and adequate in terms of factors like temperature control and security.
- Packing services: Ask if they provide packing services, which means that they can thoroughly clean property before packing it up and putting it into the company's storage facility.
- Record keeping: Make sure to take photographic records of the condition of your property before it goes into storage.
Ask for names of commercial or governmental agencies that the company has worked for and look for referrals.
- Referral limitations: Don't discount a company just because its referrals aren't perfect. Some items simply aren't restorable, and that fact creates disappointment.
- Reputation vs. proficiency: Balance the value of the company's reputation with the company's demonstrated proficiency at deploying new technology.
- Additional advice: Ask your insurance carrier or lease holder if they have any specific recommendations or requirements for disaster-recovery providers.
What are different types of restoration?
The most common type of restoration services deals with water damage from weather events, from plumbing ruptures or from actions firefighters had to take to put out a fire. If not handled properly and quickly, standing water can lead to mold growth, corrode electronics and the weaken the structural supports of a building. Dealing with mold prevention, detection and remediation as a result of standing water is the next most common suite of services. If water damage has resulted from damaged plumbing, the company must have the resources to treat the property for contaminated water and biohazard recovery.
Fire damage services include recovery after a natural or man-made disaster. Many people don't realize it also includes smoke damage, even if the fire was suppressed before it grew out of control. Smoke can permeate and damage many different types of materials, even stone. Often, smoke damage from a thermal or chemical fire can be so severe that the roof, walls and floor are not restorable. Restoration experts must have many years of experience to properly identify which items they can save and which items to replace.
When fire or water damages paper files or electronic equipment, data recovery services attempt recover as much lost information as possible. Services for data recovery after a disaster have become the fastest-growing area of restoration services. Specifically, these services deals with techniques to retrieve irreplaceable data from damaged devices, system failures, common accidents or cybercrime. This field is changing rapidly as new technology develops that can recover data in ways that were impossible even a few years ago.
Who's it for?
When there is a disaster at a private home, apartment building or vehicle, fire and water restoration specialists need to possess a greater level of sensitivity about personal losses. In many cases, people who have lost their homes and property may need community support in order to handle the costs of restoration. Homeowners may also need additional help from the restoration provider in dealing with their insurance companies. Due to the sentimental value of items in the home, victims of fire or water damage many need help assessing whether it is more practical for their property to be restored or replaced.
The companies that specialize in restoration services for commercial properties understand the full cost of downtime and lost revenue while the restoration takes place. The damage to the company's reputation and brand value can be permanent if the fire and water restoration is not handled rapidly and efficiently. They are fully aware of the heightened legal responsibilities of business owners to protect employees, customers, investors and all of their personal data. Industrial clients often have very specific requirements in terms of handling their most valuable assets, such as semiconductors and cooling towers.
Government and non-profits
Organizations dedicated to public welfare or positive social outcomes often have an increased exposure to natural and man-made disasters. Government agencies and non-profits often have to operate under stricter guidelines, with greater regulatory oversight and under tighter pricing requirements for the contractors they choose.
Victims of data loss
It doesn't take a great deal of water to destroy electronic equipment or paper files. Moisture in carpets has been responsible for destroying paper files and spilled drinks have wiped out millions of dollars worth of data on company computers. Rebuilding after a fire or water disaster means getting the business back open as soon as possible, and that requires rapid data recovery. Lost customer data due to water damage can also expose the company to legal and regulatory liabilities. In the information economy, a simple electrical accident involving water damage to private data can wipe out the viability of a business faster than the physical damage from a fire or flood.
PuroClean has been rapidly expanding across North America, adding more than 300 offices since 2001. They are sponsors of the American Red Cross Disaster Responder program and have built partnerships with local plumbers and property managers in the areas they serve. They handle fire, smoke, water and mold restoration services.
- Best for Those who need extra care in dealing with the psychological effects of loss, families and homeowners.
With 35 years of service in this field, this group of experts has built hundreds of recovery offices in 10 countries. They handle fire, water and mold restoration services.
- Best for Those who want to be especially proactive about protection, businesses and homeowners.
AdvantaClean has been rapidly expanding across North America with more than 300 offices since 2001. They handle water and mold restoration services for residential, commercial, industrial and government customer.
- Best for This company is best for those who need the assurance of restoration experience, businesses and government and non-profits.
This experienced restoration and cleaning company, with services since 1947, has offices in 48 states. Though known more for their steam-cleaning equipment, they also handle residential and commercial water restoration services.
- Best for Although they do not cover fire-damage recovery, this company is an effective business partner for rapid water-damage recovery and cleaning.
Belfor has high-tech mobile-command centers with arrays of computers and dedicated satellite towers. They operate the largest fleet of restoration vehicles containing state-of-the-art recovery equipment. They handle fire, water and mold restoration services.
- Best for Belfor is for large-scale operations that need the most advanced technology, like businesses and government and non-profits.
Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.