#PropertyProblems: What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

It’s a quiet winter morning. You wake up, well-rested, and make your way to the kitchen, where you start the coffee maker and open the shades to discover it snowed overnight. You are overcome by the beauty of the scene and the warmth of the coffee cup in your hand. You turn to take a seat in your living room when you feel it: a breeze. Then you see it: you’ve left a living room window open, the wind has blown out the screen, and melted snow is covering your hardwood floors.

Maybe you’ve never experienced something that dramatic, but all Wisconsin residents are familiar with the #propertyproblems that come with winter weather. A frozen pipe that bursts. A roof that caves in. And it’s not just snow that brings bad news for our buildings in the winter: Fire and smoke, floods, storms and other common occurrences can spell trouble this time of year.

Disasters don’t care what day it is or how prepared you are. The real question is: What do you do now?

In many cases, you or your building manager will need to call a professional restoration company. A restoration company will be able to handle the entire process, from initial mitigation all the way through to a potential remodel. They also will act as a liaison between you and your insurance company, making sure everything runs smoothly as they manage your project.

Often, there are steps you can take before the restoration company arrives. Here are four common property problems and some ideas for what to do when you don’t know what to do.


The situation:

The heat in your condo complex is controlled by management, and you’re just too warm! You open a window to cool off – but forget to close it before you go to bed. You wake up the next morning to find a snow storm has blown through the screen, and snow has piled (and is now melting) on your floor.

What do you do?

Call your building manager right away – and you may want to alert your downstairs neighbors if you’re on a higher floor. Then, it’s time to get to work:

  • Remove as much of the remaining snow as you can. Shovel it into buckets and dump it in your bathtub.
  • Begin soaking up the water using mops and towels.
  • Talk to your manager about contacting a professional if the flooring or walls have been extensively damaged – you may need to repair drywall, trim and finishings and repaint.


The situation:

Your spouse tried to melt ice from your balcony porch using a blowtorch – and set the woodwork on fire. You were able to put the fire out before it spread too far – but your porch is damaged and smoke got into your home.

What do you do?

No matter the size or scope of the fire, call 9-1-1 to assess the problem. You will also need to immediately alert your building manager – and managers should make sure their residents know the proper contacts to make. Even a very small fire that only damages a small portion of your property can mean bigger long-term problems. The pervasive smell of smoke can damage your flooring, walls and furniture. You may need to use advanced, professional cleaning and deodorization tools, but for DIY fixes that are sure to help:

  • Air out the home.
    • Place a large fan, facing inwards, outside your front door. Leave one window or door in a different part of the residence open, but close all other doors and windows.
    • Repeat this process, changing the exhaust window/door every 15 minutes, until you have done this in each part of the home.
  • Deep clean the house.
    • Remove all curtains, area rugs, blankets, pillows and other fabric materials – wash them or dry clean them.
    • Wash the windows and shades.
    • Wash all solid surfaces.
    • Clean carpets and upholstered furniture.


The situation:

You return home from Christmas vacation at the in-laws to find your home flooded. You suspect that a pipe has burst.

What do you do?

A professional may be need to be contacted if carpeting, flooring, walls or ceilings have been soaked beyond immediate repair. Regardless, you can help a restoration professional by:

  • First thing’s first: find your home’s main water valve and shut it off.
    • If you don’t have access to it yourself, call your building manager immediately and explain your problem.
    • Managers should be prepared to contact their electrical company to cut off electricity to the complex or apartments in question – since a flood in one unit most likely has affected other units as well.
  • Contact a plumber.
  • Remove as much water as possible using mops, towels and buckets.


The situation:

You’re watching the grandkids on New Year’s Eve and, during bath time, water splashes everywhere. You wipe everything up with a towel and put the kids to bed. It seems dry! Two weeks later, the bathroom floor has buckled and you smell something funny.

What do you do?

You or your building manager should call a restoration professional right away. Even though you wiped the water off of the floor, the water likely soaked into the sub floor. That smell is probably mold, and the whole room needs to be mitigated professionally for safety and health reasons.


Kelmann Restoration is an award-winning restoration company. We see your project through from start to finish – from mitigation of the initial property disaster all the way through to the full remodel. Do you have water damage from a pipe bursting? That’s our sweet spot.

Learn more about our process and see before and after photos, and give us a call any time: 414-774-3799.


This article was originally written for and published by Community Associations Institute – Wisconsin Chapter. Read the original publication here.

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