Case Study: Flood Damage

Project Manager: Jeff Filmer


A 3,800 square foot 2-story home suffered a water loss due to a failed toilet supply line. The homeowners were on vacation when the loss occurred and came home to standing water throughout a large area on the main floor. Upon further investigation it was discovered that most of the storage and 3 car garage below the source of the loss were affected as well. Emergency water mitigation was contacted and the dryout process begun immediately. There was an extensive amount of content in all rooms that required pack out. All hardwoods were buckled along with insulation and dry wall hanging in the garage as the water had been sitting in the home while the customers were gone for an extended period of time. Once non-salvageable dry wall was removed, technicians found large areas of growth throughout the lower level, which required remediation.


Pack out crews began working along water mitigation technicians due to the amount of content affected from the loss. All content was processed, inventoried, and packed out to be transferred to our facility while the dry out continued. Once content was packed out, water mitigation continued upstairs, all carpets were lifted and addressed using specific drying techniques to salvage those rooms. Dehumidifiers, air movers, and drying plates were placed on tile and hardwoods upstairs. A containment was set in the garage below the source of the loss along with air scrubbers to help ensure proper air quality during the remediation process. Technicians successfully removed the affected material and remediated all affected material in the lower level. Upon completion of the remediation, drying equipment was set below and technicians were able to utilize a “sandwich” drying process to speed up dry out of the subfloor separating the garage and affected rooms above.


All salvageable items were transported to headquarters to be cleaned, dried, and placed in storage for the remainder of repairs. Some memorabilia required the use of subcontractors to address, such as fine textiles, antique furniture, and high end electronics. Remaining non-salvageable items were inventoried and processed with the customer prior to disposal in order to assist with the claim process. The contractor was contacted following the completion of water mitigation, remediation, and pack out to begin the repair process. Once construction was complete, all items were transferred back to the customer. Technicians were able to successfully complete all processes mentioned above while allowing the customer to live in the home. This would not have been possible if it was not for the ability of crews to communicate and work with the customer throughout the process.

One of the drying techniques used.

Growth found in the lower level.


Case Study: Content Recovery

Project Manager: Courtney Reese


An electrical fire on the front porch caused fire and smoke damage to the whole 3800 square foot home. All contents in the home needed to be evaluated for smoke and fire damage. The home included a rec room with full size arcade games, an entire room with NASCAR memorabilia that required extreme care with cleaning and inventorying, a weight room with several large pieces of equipment, and a full built in bar needing to be disassembled.


We coordinated the move out with various subcontractors on site, including Golden West Games to handle the arcade games and pool table, World Wide Moving to dismantle the custom bar and bed frames, a specialty gym equipment company that could dismantle the work out equipment and reassemble once complete, a furniture refinisher for several wooden furniture pieces, and a textile company was contracted to handle soft goods throughout the home.

We evaluated and inventoried all content for salvageability. All salvageable content was brought back to our facility to be cleaned and stored until repairs were completed, roughly 15 months.

Arcade games in rec room.

Custom bar.

NASCAR room.

Collector NASCAR items including soft textiles.

October is National Fire Prevention Month

Do what you can to protect what matters most. Practice the following fire safety tips to help prevent a disastrous fire in the home.

  • Create a fire escape plan and make sure that everyone is familiar with the steps, including kids. Take the time to practice often, so that no one forgets what to do in case of a real fire.  
  • Replace batteries in every smoke detector when Daylight Savings ends and begins (only a few more weeks!). According to the National Fire Protection Association (, 3 out of 5 home fire deaths happen from fires in homes with either no smoke alarm or homes with alarms not in working order. 
  • Don’t overload an electrical outlet and go easy on your surge protectors.  
  • If you have an in-home fireplace, have your chimney inspected before you make your first fire of the season. 

If your home does have a fire, get out, stay out, and call for help.  

DIY Fall Inspection Checklist

Fall has arrived! The cool weather is part of what makes tailgating, pumpkin carving and baking holiday treats so special. It might also be the breath of cool air you need after a hot summer. However, crisp air, wind and rain can also cause weather-related damage to your property. Before the sun is completely covered by grey clouds, prepare your home or commercial property for the cool months ahead with ServiceMaster of Tacoma’s DIY Fall Inspection Checklist.


  • Dust your vents and turn your heater on. If you see debris fall from your vents or smell a musky scent, consider scheduling a professional air duct cleaning. Ensuring your vents are clean can improve your indoor air quality.

Portable Heaters

  • Always watch portable heaters while in use to avoid a fire disaster.
  • Make sure your heater’s cord is in good condition. If it’s frayed, stop using immediately.
  • Set up your portable heater on a flat, stable surface like wood or tile floors.
  • While your heater is running, check the outlet and cord. If it’s hot to the touch, turn off your heater and consult an electrician.


  • Inspect your chimney for excess soot.
  • You should conduct a thorough chimney cleaning at least once per year depending on use. Call a professional chimney sweep to remove flammable soot.


  • Inspect areas that are prone to water leaks like bathrooms and laundry rooms. You might have to look behind appliances and observe them in use.
  • Consider wrapping exposed pipes with pipe insulation to prevent frozen pipes during the cooler seasons ahead. You’re most likely to find exposed pipes in your basement or attic.


  • If possible, break out your ladder to inspect your roof.
  • Look around the outside of your chimney to ensure the caulking is in good condition.
  • Replace missing shingles and fill cracks, especially around your chimney. Gaps in your roof will allow water to seep under your roof, often causing mold growth.


  • While you’re at it, take a look at your gutters.
  • Remove debris with a small shovel or plastic spatula.
  • Check downspouts to make sure they’re directed away from your home and toward a path that allows it to escape from your property.

Windows & Doors

  • Make sure all openings to your home can close securely. Inspect your windows and doors for gaps.
  • If you find gaps, seal with weather-stripping that can be found at your local home improvement store.

Lawn Mower

  • Remove leftover gas from your lawnmower either by mowing your lawn one last time or storing it in a gas canister.
  • Store your lawnmower in a shed, away from the elements.


  • Trim trees and other large greenery. Gusts of wind can sweep branches into windows causing extensive damage.
  • Disconnect, drain and store hoses.
  • Use outdoor faucet covers to prevent them from freezing in low temperatures.

ServiceMaster of Tacoma has been serving our local community for 38 years. We care about our neighbors. That’s why we stand for the highest quality standards possible. Contact us to restore your peace of mind. We’re available 24/7 for emergency restoration services. When you need weather-related restoration from Seattle to Tumwater, you can count on us. The quicker you call the more damage we can prevent.

Case Study: House Fire Pack out

Project Manager, John “Scooter” McDonough

Before pack-out services.


1300 sq.ft. home suffered fire and smoke damage throughout the structure. The cause of loss was a cigarette left on the back porch. The upper level suffered an extensive amount of fire damage, while the lower level had significant water damage.



ServiceMaster was instructed by the insurance adjuster to pack out the entire home of salvageable content. In

After pack-out services.

addition, the customer’s grandson wanted a best effort on items that were damaged by the fire. Due to a large amount of content in the home, we utilized a moving company to assist with transporting the items back to our facility for cleaning.




The items brought back for cleaning were completed within a week of arrival. These items will be stored in our secure, climate-controlled warehouse for approximately 10 months while the customer’s home is being repaired.


Case Study: Consignment Shop Fire

Take a look as the crew performs a pack out at a local consignment shop. The shop had a significant fire, and being an older building, showed traces of mold and asbestos, which is why our crew is decked out in PPE gear. These items will be inventoried and transported back to our facility for professional cleaning, and then stored until the shop is restored and ready for inventory again.

Restoration Relay

In case you wanted to see more of our “Restoration Relay” from the BBQ last Friday… things got a little competitive.

Fire Damage: Filing a Claim

Even the most cautious and prepared people sometimes experience firesIf you do find yourself suffering from some unfortunate fire damage, first call 911 (if they haven’t been called) and then, your insurance agent. The sooner your insurance is involved, the better. You could face negative consequences by delaying your insurance claim.

When you get in contact with your agent or adjuster, you will need to provide information, such as a list of your losses, living expenses post-fire, fire or police reports, and any repair estimates.

List of Losses:

Document everything from the beginning to the end of the loss. Try to make a list of everything lost in the fire, and take as many pictures as possible. Any visual documentation you can provide to your insurance company should make the claims process move smoothly.

Living Expenses:

If fire damage doesn’t allow you to live in your house, your insurance company may be able to provide you with temporary housing and assistance. Store receipts from hotel stays, restaurants, gas fill-ups, laundromats, and any costs associated with your fire loss.

Fire or Police Reports:

After the fire, get copies of the report from the fire department to report to your insurance company. Firefighters could have cut holes in your roof, broken down doors, or broken through windows to let heat and smoke escape. These damages may be covered by insurance. Also, if there are any police or hospital reports applicable to your loss, provide those as well.


Contact a fire damage restoration company such as ServiceMaster Restore to provide you with a scope and estimate that you can present to your insurance adjuster. Make sure that all of your contents have been evaluated and recorded before throwing anything away. You may be surprised at what can be restored by the proper professionals.

Throughout the process, keep in constant contact with your adjuster. If you need a professional opinion on fire damage at your home or business, don’t hesitate in contacting ServiceMaster of Tacoma. Remember, don’t wait to mitigate!

DIY Mold Removal: When to contact a mold remediation specialist

Mold is everywhere.

Mold is a type of fungus that grows from tiny spores that float in the air. These spores can land and thrive wherever there is moisture. There’s a chance that there is currently some form of mold in your home right now! Some people are seemingly unaffected by mold, while others have severe sensitivity to mold. Mold can be invisible or visible, smelly or undetectable, and anywhere from black to white and everything in between for color. Some molds are more toxic and destructive than others. Because of all these things, we do not suggest trying to “clean” mold yourself. 

When it comes to determining what type of growth you have, you should hire a professional. This would be an “industrial hygienist” or an “environmental hygienist”. Their services often include: 

  • Mold inspection & testing 
  • Air quality testing 
  • Asbestos survey & analysis 
  • Lead testing & analysis 
  • And more. 

A certified mold inspector can then give you a recommended plan of action based on the scope and results. You can read up on common household molds but again, to know for sure, pursue the advice of a mold professional. 

If you aren’t scared off by mold and want to attempt to clean up a small mold job by yourself (think 5-10 square feet), you can use a mold removing cleaner to wipe down the surfaces. For any materials being removed, bag and contain the affected materials before moving them throughout your house and spreading it further. Check out this article for how one DIYer handles mold

Once again, we do not recommend taking mold removal into your hands, at least without consulting a professional first. There’s a chance of spreading a mysterious growth through your house and putting yourself and your family’s health at risk.  

 Need to talk about a mold issue? Give ServiceMaster of Tacoma a call at 800-339-5720.  

ServiceMaster’s Melissa M.

Meet the newest addition to our Accounting Department, Melissa! masterofdisaster