Is there a Way to Prevent Phantom Water Damage

Severe water damage on a cinderblock wall in a neglected basement. Its covered in dirt, cracks, mold and mildew.

Phantom water damage happens without your conscious knowledge. It’s taking place in your attic,
under the house in the crawl space, within a wall somewhere in the house. How can this happen? Is
there any way to prevent it from happening?

Evenings in my house after the kids go to bed, I was able to settle in and watch a couple of the television shows. A good western or some cop show, something to provide a little drama and disconnect while I relaxed before bed.

A few times during the programing change there were brief moments of silence my ear would catch a
strange noise; something that sounded like a faucet dripping. I’d get up from of my chair, walk to the
nearby restroom and kitchen to turnoff a faucet I thought I heard dripping. Flipping on the light I
wouldn’t see the faucet dripping in either room. It baffled my mind but I’d want to set back in my chair
and finish watching my shows, so I’d let it go. The noise was kind of funny though. Some evenings I
would hear it quite plainly and others I couldn’t hear it at all. But I just couldn’t nail it down. I even
talked myself into believing it was the large clock on the wall ticking.

I don’t know why I didn’t pay greater attention to it, but for some reason it didn’t seem pressing and I
just let it go. After all I didn’t see anything dripping, no harm…no foul.

After a short while maybe two to three months, I can’t really remember, we would come home from a
visit or errand-run and when we first walked into the house my wife said she could smell something
funny. I couldn’t smell anything and when I asked her to describe the odor, she couldn’t place her finger on it and I just played it off as something being in her head and I really wasn’t interested in pursuing any investigation because I wasn’t sure what to do…I didn’t smell anything.

Not long after the tip-off from my wife, I’d come home from work and began to smell something funny. I admitted to my wife I could now smell it but then once again we couldn’t tell where in the house it was coming from. Not long after that the smell turned to a musty odor. That’s when it finally caught my attention and I knew I had a problem. Now I just had to locate it.

For the next few evenings after dinner I’d make a walk through the house looking for the problem. I
looked under every sink even the ones not near the living room. I when down to my partial basement
and looked and around the last night I crawled into the crawlspace and looked it all over. I’m glad to
report everything was dry as a bone.

I have a friend in the water restoration business and I thought I’d call him and ask if he couldn’t come
over to reinvestigate. The following Saturday he came over bright and early and asked for my ladder and the attic access. Attic, I thought…crap the only place I didn’t look in. When he opened the access door to the attic the whole house immediately filled with a strong aroma of mold. As we climbed into the attic, sure enough not far from where I sit in the living room was ground zero. My roof had developed a small leak and as the snow melted it was dripping through this very tiny hold in the roof.

Funny thing about attics, they usually are extremely dry. Because of that, being dry, when water is
introduced to the substrates they absorb it quickly and as I found out very quickly. Mold loves three
things. It loves “dark, stagnant, damp areas,” everything my attic provided, so, the mold….it grew
exponentially. Not only did the mold grow in the attic, the water found its way down the adjacent wall
void and a wall provides the exact same environment as the attic. Guess what we weren’t done yet. That wall void went into a nearby closet of a very seldom visited third bedroom. Wow, once we opened the door to the closet, oh man, it was evident the closet and many of the clothes stored there were ruined.

Now, I’m really scared. Can I even live in this house? Should I, my wife and kids pack up and move to a hotel. The mold looked black to me and I saw those television shows Dateline or 20/20 or some such
station that this stuff can kill you.

Luckily, my friend calmed us down and we made a plan to get this taken care pronto. I called my
homeowners insurance 24-hour claims number and got claim submitted. They gave me a claim-number to give to my friend’s company and he called his office and turned in the job and we were off and running.

It turns out that whatever television show I had been watching un-necessarily hyped up the dangers of
“Black-mold.” It’s not black mold we really have to watch out for, it’s kind of a blueish/greenish color
mold called aspergillus ssp. This mold can actually cause lung problems to the point of killing you and it’s far more prevalent than the black mold. But it’s not casual contact you have to worry about its on-going contact; it’s living with the mold on a continual basis. If we had continued to live in that house with that mold and ignored all the signs…I and my entire family could have been comprised.

If you live in the Greater Kansas City Area and think you may have a problem…call Frist Call Restoration KC at 816-804-0154. They’re experts in water mitigation and mold remediation. They work with all property insurance companies in our region and they will respond promptly.


Water Damage to Your Home, What are the Top Five Problems

water damage restoration

Water as a flood inside your home can be devastating. I know, I’ve had a supply line fitting to our dishwasher break open and flood our kitchen while the dishwasher was running. When my wife called me in a panic at work, I instructed her to shut off the water to the dishwasher. She opened the door to the washer, which caused the machine to stop running and walked to the other side to start calling the insurance and restoration company. As I walked into the house the dishwasher was still gushing water. I ran downstairs to the basement and shut off the water to the entire home. My wife explained, she thought by stopping the machine from running the water would stop. The problem was the break in the line was ahead of the actual control of the machine. So the water ran a good 40 to 50 minutes before I arrived.

Here’s our damage; our pre-finished hardwood floor in the kitchen was only 6 months old. It had to be replaced. The water ran down to the basement, which was unfinished but used for storage. I kept my extensive 30-year-old library of business and religious books on three large bookshelves for easy
retrieval and I lost roughly half of my collection and the bookshelves.

We were, of course, displaced from the kitchen for one week while the dry down process proceeded. The machines are really loud and it was next to the living room so having a conversation or watching television was extremely difficult. Then we had to wait another 2 weeks walking on cupped hardwood flooring while the adjuster got everything approved and for the new flooring which was ordered and arrived. We were displaced from the kitchen once again for a few more days while that work proceeded.

That was water running uncontained in our kitchen for approximately 45 to 50 minutes. Think about a second-floor wash machine fitting failing while everyone has gone to work and the water is allowed to run unabated for hours before someone returns; (It happens all the time). The washer’s water line is twice the size of my dishwasher line. These things happen all the time. In fact, in the Greater Kansas City Area, there are hundreds of water
damage calls each month on a regular basis. When the area suffers a cold snap of two or more days the numbers goes up exponentially.


  1.  Plumbing Failure. Dripping faucets and leaky pipes that are being ignored.
  2.  Toilet overflows. When this happens it is considered a Category 3 (contaminated) water loss
  3. Slow or Clogged Drains causing backups
  4.  Wash machine hose failure
  5.  Sump Pump or Water heater Failure

Mechanical failures happen, that’s just a simple fact. Things just wear out but many times they give us some sort of warning. Leaky pipes and fixtures are the number one indicator. These issues should be taken care of immediately to prevent greater damage. Others require a more proactive action through inspection. Such as, taking a large bucket of water or a garden hose down to the sump pump to fill the pump well, making sure it comes on once the float is triggered as you fill the well. Things to look for, are the slow start or splutter start. Has debris fallen into the well? Does the float work? Does the well empty quickly or slowly once it’s triggered? Of course, slow means you need to do further investigation. Is the outlet hose clogged? Is the outlet hose tight against the fitting? (Since you can’t see the fitting under the water and at the bottom of the well. If the fitting isn’t tight it can leak water at the fitting while trying to empty the well.)

Are you getting all the hot water you need? If the water has been hot but now is not, or do you have rusty water when you first turn on the hot water? You may have a tank failure in your future. Find out the age of your hot water tank. Typically they last 10 -13 years. If it’s older consider changing it out. If it’s more than 15 years old experts say it’s better to be proactive.

The second and third issues usually go together. Many times if you have a toilet back up it comes down to clogged drains. If the toilet is emptying slow or you have to flush twice it can mean you need to adjust your toilet flush valve. You can easily check it by lifting up on the valve manually and if it still doesn’t perform as required this could indicate a clogged drainage pipe and need a drain cleaning service to fix the issue.

About twice a year while doing the laundry check out the hoses in the back of your wash machine. Do they look worn or old? Run your finger around the fittings both at the wall and where it connects to the machine. Does your finger feel wet at all? If so, think strongly about changing the hoses.

If you have a failure and you are in need of the mitigation and restoration company to dry out the structure and make necessary repairs, call First Call Restoration, Inc. of Kansas City at 816-804-0154. We will respond quickly to your problem and get the work done. Many of these problems are paid for through your property insurance. We’ll work with you and your insurance company to see you get the best rates available.



Dangers of Mold

Here at First Call Restoration, Inc. in the Kansas City area, people question us on many occasions about mold with the number one question being, can mold make me sick. The most vulnerable people for mold affecting their health are people who have allergies, asthma, anyone who is immune suppressed and the very old and young. People with allergies can suffer greatly, with itchy watering eyes, sinuses problems, rashes and it can even trigger asthma attacks, which can be dangerous, even leading to death.

Whether or not you’re allergic to molds, mold exposure can still irritate your eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs. Physicians report anytime you have a continued irritation, especially, in the throat and lung area can also setup an infection due to soft-tissue irritation.
When the general public thinks of mold in their homes they think about “Black Mold,” which is Stachybotrys chartarum or “Stachy” for short. In my view the public has an unhealthy fear of Black-mold bought about by television news reports and shows like Dateline and 20/20, who misrepresented the effects of “Black-mold.” Much of what they reported has never been proven to be true and it takes away the concern about other molds much more dangerous than Stachy.

If I don’t have to be so concerned with Stachy, then what mold should I be concerned with? The most prevenient mold is Aspergillus mold. It is found almost year around both inside and outside the structure. Of course, we’re only concerned with interior exposure when we find an active growth inside the structure. Prolonged exposure to aspergillus can cause aspergillosis, which is mold growing inside the lung area. Because aspergillosis is not a reportable infection in the United States, the exact number of cases is difficult to determine. Milder, allergic forms of aspergillosis are more common than the invasive form of the infection. The CDC determines based on a few studies that the more invasive type is 1 to 2/100,000 in population, which translates to 3,000 to just over 6,000 cases per year.

There is yet another mold that we should be concerned with but not overly so. That is Histoplasma, which causes Histoplasmosis. There is both pulmonary histoplasmosis (Histoplasma growing in the lung) and Ocular histoplasmosis (which is Histoplasma growing behind the eyeball). The fungus lives in the environment, particularly in soil that contains large amounts of bird or bat droppings. In the United States, Histoplasma mainly lives in the central and eastern states, especially areas around the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys. The fungus also lives in parts of Central and South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. Area where large flocks of pigeons gather and nest are of particular concern. The mold grows on the bird dung and then when it is disturbed by the bird activity, it is picked up by the wind and then intermingles with the unknowing public. Our main concern as people with this knowledge are that these large flock areas are not being addressed with remediation processes and exclusion barriers being place to prevent further contamination. People can get histoplasmosis after breathing in the microscopic fungal spores from the air or the spores landing in the eye working their way behind the orbit.

One another concern with this mold and that is with people who have pet birds but do not routinely clean the aviary. I personally know of two pulmonary cases where one client passed-away from her infection and another is awaiting a lung transplant.

Mold growing within the work and living environments should be taken seriously. If you believe you have mold contamination in the Kansas City area, please call, First Call Restoration, Inc. a 816-804-0154
• 913-909-0412 we can help with setting up a mold test and mold remediation if necessary.



First Call Restoration
By Don M. McNulty, MBT AT- OSHA, MTC ©COPYRIGHT 2018


A Day in the Life of a Bio-Technician

biohazard cleaning

Each day is yet another day to help people. This is the motto we live by in our lives. Here at Crime Scene Cleaners, LLC in Kansas City we have a culture of ministry, which means the act of helping others. Company culture is a strange thing, even as we hire technicians we’re already looking for people who have this servant’s heart toward the work and as they go through their training it isn’t long before they are totally vested into our culture of helping others. The evidence of this mind-set lies not in how we compassionately interact with our clients and the surrounding community as we do, but the dedication to be on-call 24 hours each and every day of the years.

We know the suffering families go through from the loss of a family member through suicide, homicide or an unattended death, or some other incident creating trauma, that’s why we say, “no one should be victimized twice;” first by the death and second by having to cleanup from the trauma afterwards. This is why we exist; Crime Scene Cleaners has almost two decades into helping families from these traumatic incidents and have literally helped thousands of people in the Kansas City area with crime scene cleaning or what some call forensic restoration. We’ve traveled from as far away from the Greater Kansas City Area as Lawrence and Topeka, KS; south to Joplin, MO and East to Columbia, MO. On the Northside of the Kansas City Metro-plex we’ve traveled as far as the Missouri and Kansas borders.

Death scenes aren’t the only jobs we perform. We have also helped families for our time in business with deodorization problems, and hoarding syndrome. We have become experts in infection control and disinfection of homes and businesses, even schools from Flu outbreaks, Norovirus (cruise ship illness) and from C. diff, MRSA, VRE and Meningitis outbreaks. Our company also performs work cleaning and restoring structures from teargas and clandestine drug lab contamination.

If you and your family or business for that matter, have suffered from some sort incident were you need expert cleaning, remediation and restoring services please call us 913-808-7642 or 816-808-7642 or you can reach us by Allow us to help you in your time of need.


First Call Restoration

By Don M. McNulty, MBT AT- OSHA, MTC ©COPYRIGHT 2018