Adjustor Express

Adjustor January 2016 Newsletter

Fred McGuireWhat is the dry standard and how do you calculate it

By Fred McGuire/Jerold Anderson

When faced with water damage, drying building materials back to its original state is your goal.  So what are the dry standards and how do I know when I get there?

Let’s start by defining the Dry Standard: The drying goal established in water restoration.  It is determined by measuring the moisture content of unaffected materials in an environment.

Simply stated:  A sample reading taken on an unaffected material. This reading is then used as the unaffected control or drying goal.


We see the effects of water damage on walls every day.  Drywall is a panel made of gypsum plaster pressed between two thick sheets of paper. Its thickness varies between one-half inch and five-eighths inches.  Meanwhile, lathe and plaster is a building process used to finish mainly interior walls and ceilings in the United States until the late 1950s. After the 1950s, drywall began to replace it.

Drywall and plaster can absorb water and be successfully dried. For drywall, if the paper is wet but the gypsum inside has not started to degrade; you are probably ok to salvage it. If the paper is saturated and the gypsum is starting to turn mushy, or is crumbling you are likely too late.

When drywall is wet, it can be dried without demolition if a trained professional does the work.  This requires a combination of the proper number of air movers and dehumidifiers.  Drywall will dry to a hardness that will be equal to other areas that were not wet and much less costly to do so.  Therefore we often dry walls without removing them.

So how do you know when a wall is dry?  Using a non-penetrating moisture meter, you begin by determining the dry standard for that home by testing it in an unaffected area.  This should be at least 5 feet away from any wet area or in an unaffected room of the house.  That is the dry-standard for the home.  In Minnesota it is normally reads from 7 to 9.

Plaster/lathe Exceptions

Plaster/lathe normally takes longer to dry than sheetrock. It may take the infusion of extra heat over the surface to increase the energy so water molecules move faster speeding evaporation.   Expect dry times to be 5-7 days vs 3-5 for sheetrock.  Drywall nailed over paneling, and the reverse, is a challenge.  These layers don’t promote drying.  We can’t dry it easily.

According to the IICRC the drying process can be finished when the readings are within 4 points of the original dry standard. Then you can expect materials to finish drying the rest of the way in a few more days.

Wood Floors

Wood floors have a normal dry standard of their own.  Check a dry place on the floor for set your standard and then check daily to monitor the results.  Solid wood floors often respond well to the drying process, laminate floors not so much. Laminate flooring most often is replaced due to its composite construction which warps when wet.  Hardwood floors warp also but they can be dried and regain their original shape.  Laminate floors most often need to be replaced.


Carpets are dried after the pad is removed and discarded.  They respond well to air movers and dehumidifiers.  Oftentimes the carpet is floated by and air mover as part of the drying process.  Later the pad is replaced and the carpet re-stretched. However if carpet is wet for too many days, it will delaminate as the glue breaks down and needs to be replaced.

Rely on ServiceMaster to attempt to dry all structures and building materials rather than replace them which saves time and money.  Our highly trained staff will do their best to do so and therefore will save money on each claim.



Adjustor June 2015 Newsletter

Substitute TeacherBoy laughing

Walking through the hallways at the middle school where I work, I saw a new substitute teacher standing outside his classroom with his forehead against a locker.

I heard him mutter, “How did you get yourself into this?”

Knowing that he was assigned to a difficult class, I tried to offer moral support.

“Are you okay?” I asked. “Can I help?”

He lifted his head and replied, “I’ll be fine as soon as I get this kid out of his locker.”

Soda Machine

Julie was standing in front of a soda machine saying, “You are a dumb-looking button. You don’t have much of a future, either. People are going to be punching you all your life. Then you are going to be replaced by a much better-looking button.”

I foolishly asked what she was doing.

Julie pointed to the notice on the front of the machine, which said, “Depress button for ice.”


A doting father used to sing his little children to sleep until he overheard the four-year-old tell the three-year-old, “If you pretend you’re asleep, he stops.”


Why use Air-Scrubbers on a water loss? Air Scrubber

By Fred McGuire

Why do adjustors frequently see Air-Scrubbers used on a water loss?

Air-Scrubbers are often seen at fire restorations since the air is heavily contaminated for both the workers and the homes occupants.  Insurance adjustors should also use HEPA air scrubbers on all water losses.  Why?

Water losses, just like fires, create opportunities for several types of unseen air pollution.  Tiny particles such as mold and bacteria grow in wet indoor situations.  Water problems originating from clean sources can even trigger indoor air pollution.

How does this happen? Air movers produce a high volume of air at high velocity. When air movers are used to dry surfaces and other remediation activity occurs, contaminants are released into the air.  Once airborne, workers and homeowners can inhale them causing adverse health problems.  Air-Scrubbers will significantly reduce if not eliminate all types of air pollution.  They can also keep the dust in check throughout the process to reduce the costs of final cleanup.

These machines are filtration systems that remove mold, dust, gasses, and other airborne contaminants from the air to help improve indoor air quality.  Air-Scrubbers typically use fans to draw air through a series of filters to remove the contaminants and then release the filtered air back into the work area or are vented outside.

Air-Scrubbers have a first stage standard paper pre-filter that captures large particles, and a second-stage primary HEPA filter rated to capture 99.97% of remaining particles down to 0.3 microns.  This traps even the smallest mold spore and much more. Carbon filters can be used to absorb organic vapors, thereby reducing odor.

Again, using an Air-Scrubber during water clean-up removes particulates in the air generated by the remediation process, water moving through a structure and odors from the water contamination.  It also eases the customers mind about the clean-up process.  Often residents have respiratory issues that can be minimized by scrubbing the air especially if they are sensitive to allergens and air borne dust.

Using Air-Scrubbers will:

  1. Remove potentially harmful particles and pollutants from the air by scrubbing the air at least 5 times per hour.
  2. Lower job clean-up costs and the recontamination of clean areas.
  3. Provide negative air pressure (if needed) to avoid cross contamination in the structure.
  4. Remove foul odors and low levels of VOC’s.

Not scrubbing air can lead to higher clean-up costs, increased worker health issues and frequent homeowner complaints.  Even clean water sources pose the risk of releasing harmful particulates in the air and result in a happier, healthier property owner.

The Lack of Margin in Our Lives: Learning to Expect The UnexpectedMargin

By Fred McGuire

When demands appear to be greater than our resources, the result in our lives is stress. We feel stressed in different areas of life: finances, time, physical energy, emotional energy, and relational energy. Stress then displays itself in our lives in a variety of negative ways.

Some years ago, Dr. Richard Swenson wrote a book entitled, “Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives”. The concept of “margin” is that it is wise to leave space in our lives to deal with the unexpected or unplanned events in our lives therefore relieving stress. This is in contrast with our tendency to pack our schedule full. I have learned much from his writings.

The problem is – life does not occur without interruptions. If we plan and schedule our days and lives with no room for the “unexpected”, then the stress in our lives dramatically escalates when the “unexpected” occurs.

The odds of one of these things (both positive and negative) happening in the near future is very high:

  • Traffic/road construction delays
  • Computer or internet problems
  • One of your children gets sick
  • Weddings
  • Births
  • Car breakdown
  • Moving
  • Professional opportunities
  • A major client calls with a problem
  • Getting sick
  • Weather delays


Results of Living Without Margin

Results like: increased stress, irritability, tension, poor communication, relational conflict, being chronically late, missing important events, not being adequately prepared for meetings, poor quality work, frustration and anger, guilt, loss of sleep, depression.

How Do We Start to Change

Change starts with awareness and acceptance of a problem. Is this you or not? Be honest.

Next, look at your calendar for the next week and month. Are there any unscheduled blocks of time (during the work day, evenings, weekends) or is your calendar already packed?

In what arenas of your life do you tend to live “close to the edge”? With your time? Finances? Physical and emotional energy? Develop a plan to explore and correct the distortions you have.

Remember, we were not designed to live life under constant, unrelenting pressure.

* * * *

Note: This is one of those topics where I share some wisdom which I am still in the process of incorporating in my own life.

2015 Charity Golf EventsSM Cup Trophy

All events are to raise money for the Salvation Army. Donate $30/player to save your place in the event. Winning teams are invited to the ServiceMaster Cup Championship at Madden’s in the fall.

Sign up as a team of 4 or we will pair you up with others. Clients, friends or family are welcome.

July 31st @ Bunker Hills, 9 AM Start

August 6th @ Dacotah Ridge, 10 AM Start

Learn more at .


Fred McGuire2Continuing Education

$10/class for CE in 2015

Celebrating 10 years of CE, all 3 hour classes are now only $10! Attend two classes on any date in 2015 for six hours of CE will only cost you $20 and that includes lunch!

You will find two new classes for 2015 including a new “Framing our Ethics” and “Extreme Cleaning: Handling a Hoarding Dilemma” taught by instructor Fred McGuire.

Find the complete schedule on our website at

See you there.


Matt Paxton TeachingHandling a Hoarding Claim?

Many adjustors attended our recent special event featuring hoarding expert, Matt Paxton from the TV show “Hoarders”. With over 1,000 hoarding clean-ups under his belt, he had some great advice for all of us when faced with a claim in a hoarded house.

The following is an excerpt from Matt Paxton’s book, The Secret Lives of Hoarders.

When cleaning starts, hoarders tend to pick up and clutch items in their hands without putting them down. Pretty soon their arms and pockets start to fil up like they are a squirrel storing for the winter. They talk very fast and won’t look people in the eye. These are sure signs that anxiety is taking over. Someone having and anxiety attack simply can’t function.

Dealing with the anxiety is not necessarily the job of the cleanup crew, which is why it’s essential to have a trusted and empathetic advocate on call—a therapist, social worker, or clergyman—who is not involved in the physical cleanup. Depending on the severity of the hoarder’s anxiety, the cleanup may be halted briefly, or for a longer time if other professional and emotional support is needed.

Trying to power through the cleaning process with a hoarding having an anxiety attack will only make it worse. Ignoring these emotions and not listening to the hoarder could cause major issues down the road for the cleaning and the relationship.

Want a free copy Matt’s book or to borrow a copy? Email Fred McGuire at and you will get one.

Adjustor March 2015 Newsletter

Jokes of the Day

Biology RevisitedBoy laughing

– When you breathe, you inspire. When you do not breathe, you expire.

– Mushrooms always grow in damp places and so they look like umbrellas.

– Thesaurus is an ancient reptile with an excellent vocabulary.

– It has recently been discovered that research causes cancer in rats.

– Before giving a blood transfusion, find out if the blood is affirmative or negative.

– Genetics explain why you look like your father and if you don’t, why you should.

– Dew is formed on leaves when the sun shines down on them and makes them perspire.

– Sterility is hereditary: If your grandfather didn’t have children and your father didn’t have children, you won’t have children too.


Continuing EducationFred McGuire ServiceMaster of Minnesota

$10/class for CE in 2015

Celebrating 10 years of CE, all 3 hour classes are now only $10! Attend two classes on any date in 2015 for six hours of CE will only cost you $20 and that includes lunch!

You will find two new classes for 2015 including a new “Framing our Ethics” and “Extreme Cleaning: Handling a Hoarding Dilemma” taught by popular instructor Fred McGuire.

Find the complete schedule on our website at then choose the “adjustor” menu.

See you there.


Hoarding Matt Paxton Teaching

Many adjustors attended our recent special event featuring hoarding expert, Matt Paxton from the TV show “Hoarders”.  With over 1,000 hoarding clean-ups under his belt, he had some great advice for all of us when faced with a claim in a hoarded house.

The following is an excerpt from Matt Paxton’s book, The Secret Lives of Hoarders.

Not all those who hoard figure out their triggers, but Marcie, the shopaholic, was able to do so.  As we worked on cleaning her house, Marcie started talking about whey she shopped so much as saved it all, and she confessed that she wanted to figure out what had made her become this person.

In our time together, I had noticed that her husband was a big, angry guy.  He yelled at her a lot during the cleanup, and I wondered if it went further than yelling.  I mentioned the yelling to Marcie, and she was pretty frank in asking me if it was obvious that he hit her.  She kept talking to me about it, wondering if she was hanging on to things to comfort herself, to feel safe and protected.

I’ve witnessed cases like Marcie’s repeatedly.  Those who hoard aren’t slobs who don’t care about being clean.  They are people struggling with overwhelming emotional issues.   A pile in her house isn’t a pile of stuff; it can be many things: a pile of sadness, a pile of quitting, or sometimes even a pile of hope.  It’s never really about the stuff, those who hoard are just confusing their possessions with their emotions.

Want a free copy Matt’s book or to borrow a copy?  Email Fred McGuire at and you will get one.


Managing PeopleBoss


Will you, the boss, be a buddy or a bully?  By Harvey Mackay

Bosses have tremendous power over those they supervise.  Whether the owner of the company or a middle manager, employees understand that the person they report to can be their biggest cheerleader or their worst nightmare.

Study after study has concluded that the most important factor in job satisfaction is a positive work environment.  Praise is vital, and salary is important, but nothing ranks as high as loving what you do.  Location matters, but people are willing to go great distances for a job that makes them happy.  Titles aren’t even near the top of the list.

The determining factor is often closely related to the boss.  A truly great boss will engender loyalty before any of those other factors will.  A committed boss works hardest at positive leadership and a professional environment.  A perceptive boss remembers her own early challenges and draws on those experiences.  A responsible boss understands that mentoring his staff and helping them develop skills reflects positively on him.

Now here’s the most important piece of boss advice I will ever give you:  Your employees don’t really work for you.  They work for your customers.  Customers are their real bosses.  And yours too.


Mackay’s Moral:  Be a mentor, not a tormentor.


Book to ReadSecret Lives of Hoarders book

The Secret Lives of Hoarders by Matt Paxton

The Secret Lives of Hoarders is much more than harrowing tales of attacking the ugliest, dirtiest, and most shocking hoarding cases in the country. It is a behind-the-scenes look at this hidden epidemic- what it means, how to recognize it before it gets out of hand, and how to deal with it.


Movie to WatchMcFarland USA

McFarland USA (in theatres now)

Inspired by the 1987 true story, “McFarland, USA” follows novice runners from McFarland, an economically challenged town in California’s farm-rich Central Valley, as they give their all to build a cross-country team under the direction of Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner), a newcomer to their predominantly Latino high school.

Coach White and the McFarland students have a lot to learn about each other but when White starts to realize the boys’ exceptional running ability, things begin to change. Soon something beyond their physical gifts becomes apparent—the power of family relationships, their unwavering commitment to one another and their incredible work ethic.