A few years ago the A&E television network ran a show called “Hoarders” featuring individuals with incredible piles of stuff in their home. Watching on television may be interesting to some; however, for family members living this reality, it is painful and dangerous. Most of us can look at a hoarding mess and think, “Oh my goodness; how could anyone live in such a situation?”

Hoarding creates many dangers inside a home with fire as the most common problem. When objects cover heat vents and appliances don’t have adequate air circulation, fires can start. Add to that an unending array of flammable accumulation that will fuel a fire and turn any home into an inferno.  Then, imagine the fire department rushing into a house, tripping over everything, finding access blocked; it’s a formula for everyone’s disaster.

Fire isn’t the only problem. A resident may easily trip over hoarded items in a house causing injury. I've seen situations where everything is piled to the ceiling, threatening to fall on anyone who walks by.

A home crowded with an unreasonable assortment of books, boxes, and discarded items will give an easy home to cockroaches, mice and rats, all of which carry disease. Often these unwanted guests make many nests before the homeowner realizes there is a problem. With too much stuff scattered and stacked, it makes finding and removing these nests difficult until the area has been cleared of unnecessary material.

People who live in a home overwhelmed in this way usually neglect regular maintenance.  How can you maintain something you cannot see?

Frequently when the home is overwhelmed with hoarding, it includes some type of organic material.  This provides the perfect environment for mold to start growing.  It becomes a substantial health issue to anyone living or visiting in the home.

Another problem involves the fact that hoarded material generates extra dust in the air.  This introduces another health issue for those in the home.

The good news is that while hoarding clean-up is not easy work, professional help is available from Service Team of Professionals of Coeur d’Alene. We have the experience and equipment to execute a clean-up quickly and safely.

Of course a homeowner and their family are capable of cleaning up this type of situation; however, safety is important. When our technicians attack a hoarding situation, they wear protective gear like suits, gloves, and dust masks to protect them from infectious diseases and bacteria that could be lurking. We also keep a fire extinguisher ready, as well as a first aid kit and repellent spray because we never know what we may encounter.

As we clean up the property we use specialized equipment and tools to remove the trash. We work in advance with the family or homeowner to understand what items should be disposed and what items should be kept.  Obtaining this agreement at the beginning is crucial.  If we are unable to reach an agreement to get reasonable permission to throw away whatever is unusable or unsafe, we step back from the job.

Often we bring in a dumpster so we are able to quickly start the disposal process. The dumpster reduces stress on the homeowner and protects them from having to look at the items that are tossed.

As we engage in the sorting work involved in cleaning a hoarded house, we don't just make two piles: one to throw out and one to keep. We also separate items that should not be added to a local landfill.  This includes paint, explosives or other toxic items that require specialized disposal techniques. As we sort we recommend that the family set aside items that can be salvaged and donated to organizations such as the Salvation Army or another resale shop.

After a house is free of excess debris, we can review what repairs the home needs.  This might include new carpeting, paint, damage restoration, and removing mold or other biohazard concerns. Furthermore, when mold is present; we will apply the correct products and take appropriate steps to remove the mold from your home.

Cleaning a hoarded house is emotional work for the hoarder.  We generally recommend that the homeowner stays with family members until the cleaning process is concluded. Otherwise unresolved emotions sabotage our cleaning efforts. Arguments between the homeowner and those trying to restore the home may erupt over everything the restorers are endeavoring to toss out. This isn’t helpful for anyone. That’s why when there is not complete agreement between Service Team of Professionals of Coeur d’Alene, the family, and homeowner; our policy is to politely decline the job. We need to work as a team with the homeowner, not as an adversary.

Hoarding is a complicated problem. Undoing what years have created is not easy.  However Service Team of Professionals is a team who wants to be part of the solution to restore a safe place for you to live.  If you or someone you know is ready to reclaim a home from hoarding, Service Team of Professional is ready to help S.T.O.P. the dangers of hoarding.