Studies estimate nearly 5 percent of Americans are diagnosed hoarders, meaning they have a compulsive urge to stockpile belongings in abnormally high quantities. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America defines hoarding as the compulsive purchasing, acquiring, searching, and saving of items of little or no value. Hoarders face difficulty organizing and discarding their accumulation of possessions and their behavior interferes with normal daily activities.
Not every home disaster is caused by a storm, a burst pipe, or a fire, resulting in water or fire damage. Hoarding is an increasing problem for many families that require professional cleaning and restoration services. Many times we are not aware of a hoarding situation until we arrive on site in response to a fire or water loss. In in other cases, a landlord or family member may call after the death of a loved one when they discover the condition of the premises. As Restoration professionals, our job is not to judge; our job is to clean and sanitize in the most efficient and effective way possible.
Not only is hoarding a nuisance to neighbors; it is also dangerous to the hoarder themselves, and to others who live in or even visit the home. Depending on the level of neglect, a hoarded home can swiftly become unsafe and unlivable. When the health and well-being of the home’s occupants are in danger, cleaning up a hoarded home is absolutely necessary. Here are some of the most common dangers of hoarding and the extensive steps involved in the clean-up process.
Dangers Associated with Hoarding
The accumulation of trash, paper, and other flammable materials can pose a fire safety threat not only to an already unstable structure but the resident as well. Fires can easily occur when objects cover a heating vent or damaged wires. Cluttered hallways and rooms can jeopardize firefighters’ ability to respond to an emergency, while also making it extremely difficult for the resident to exit the building.
As items begin to pile up, there’s a higher chance your property will become a home for pests. Vermin such as mice, cockroaches, and other animals are attracted to left-out food, trash, and clutter. This can contribute to the unsanitary conditions and cause damage to the building’s structural integrity.
When clutter prevents proper air circulation, and condensed water or leaking pipes are hidden behind clutter, the air quality becomes poor and humidity levels rise – creating the right conditions for mold growth. Mold can develop if trash, spoiled food, or other expired household items aren’t disposed of properly. The mold can eventually spread to the walls and floors, leading to structural decay.
It’s also possible for a hoarder to amass a collection large enough to cause structural damage. A property’s framework is often first compromised by decay, which can contribute to the structure’s instability until it is unable to bear the weight of the items.
Drains may become clogged in more severe cases of hoarding, leading to sewer backup and leaks. If not taken care of quickly, it can eventually lead to serious water damage and mold growth.
Hoarding Clean-Up Services
It is recommended to call a professional remediation company that specializes in biohazard clean-up and removal. When you’re ready, seek cleaning and deodorizing services from Xtreme Home Improvement. Restoring homes to a clean, livable state is one of our specialties. You can trust our professionals to do more than just haul away debris, we will remove harmful contaminants and restore your home to its original condition. Our services include:
- Sorting the contents of the home to determine what should be hauled away and what might be salvaged
- Preparation of a fully itemized inventory of the home’s contents
- Assistance in preparing items to be donated to a charity organization or store
- Recovering items of value and sentiment
- Collecting and sorting of important papers and documentation
- Removal and recycling of faulty appliances
- Properly disposing of unwanted items and fast furniture removal
Once the space has been cleared, our experts will thoroughly clean all the affected areas. We treat every surface, ensuring it is left fully decontaminated, sanitized, and deodorized. If necessary, we will remove items such as furniture or other contents to our facility for cleaning. And, if any structural repairs or renovation work such as painting needs to be done, we will coordinate with the homeowner to have that work completed as well.
Cleaning out a home can be an emotionally intense experience and approaching a homeowner with a sense of compassion can help them handle these changes. Hoarding is not something that has to consume a life. With a little help and guidance, it’s possible to live clutter-free.