Read the Farmer’s Almanac article posted forecasting another abnormally cold winter.  As you know, this past winter impacted our industry in a big way.  The influx of freezing weather brought us all a lot of water damage work, even more than a couple hurricanes generally produce.  Restorers were out of equipment, trucks, and people.  Many of our customers had 30 to 40 jobs out, while 30 to 40 more calls were coming in.  It made for a busy start to the year for everybody and it extended into early spring season.  The signs of a similar winter are upon us.                  

Here are some tips to consider:

– Get your existing drying equipment fleet checked, serviced, and ready.  CleanSource has a full service department for drying equipment.   We are setup to turn around repairs on dehumidifiers and airmovers in an efficient manner.  We also offer a $99 Maintenance Special for dehumidifiers. 

– Look at your existing staff and prepare trained technicians to step up into crew leaders that can direct part time or temporary labor through a water damage job

– Stock up on common consumables like gloves, suits, masks, bags, poly, tape, disinfectant, sprayers, etc.  Regarding disinfectants, consider using Benefect Disinfectant.    With new technicians and unskilled temp labor, it makes sense to have a disinfectant that can be applied with much less liability to be concerned about.  Also, minimal PPE is required for application, however the job conditions may dictate otherwise.  Also, you will be able to bill more through Xactimate because of its green classification.

– Develop a network of fellow restorers that you can work with in case of equipment, trucks, and labor shortages

– Utilize Section 179 for tax savings on capital expenditures at the end of 2014.  The cap has been lowered now to $25,000 for 2014.  If you were not prepared last winter, you may want to consider investing in additional equipment.

– Prepare your existing staff for possibly working multiple weeks without time off.  Identify who may not be a fit for an extensive period of overtime work for whatever the reason good or bad.  Create a rotation for on call because most if not all staff will be working overtime if this winter repeats itself.

– Make sure you have subsurface extraction tools on every emergency response vehicle for  water extractions.  Wet vac wands are on sale through the end of the year and the new FlashXtractors are built very well and have never been more economical.

– Check your meters and make sure they are working properly.  Also consider some economy meter sets that you can have available for your technicians that may not carry an extensive meter kit with them everyday.  There are some good meters from Flir/Extech now that are more economically priced but work well.

– Invest in an IR Thermal Imaging Camera.  During a flood of water calls, there is no better way to quickly and correctly assess the damage and get the job setup and started than using the new FLIR cameras with MSX (3D) imaging.  You can save so much labor by assessing the scope of water damage and starting the drying process more efficiently.  The new technology gives you IR images that makes documentation convincing especially when you need faster response from the adjuster or homeowner.  With multiple jobs going on, you need every tool at your disposal.  The new MSX FLIR Cameras start at just $995.

– Also, consider proper storage for truckmounts and drying equipment during freezing temperatures.  Vans and trucks parked in non-insulated storage or outside to the elements may require space heaters during freezing temperatures.  We see a lot of truckmounted and portable equipment that freezes during cold snaps even in South Carolina.   Freeze damage can cause up to thousands in unforeseen damage to truckmounts especially.  We have customers that experienced freeze damage last winter and are just now getting through all the fittings and component damages that pop up down the road.  Always keep your eye on the lows everyday to protect your equipment.  You can try running anti-freeze through some extraction equipment as an option if you will be out of town or if stored away for an extended period of time.  One other important point about freeze damage:  equipment manufacturers do not warranty any freeze damage related repairs.


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