If you have a dilapidated garage, shed or less-than-pleasant basement, you may have several items that appear to be damaged by water. While it may be a known fact that you get a little water or moisture in these areas in the spring or heavy rain seasons, the damage might actually be something else--animal urine. Before you hire a water damage specialist, you may want to determine just what it is you are looking at--urine or water. Here is how you can safely tell the difference and then hire the right contractor or clean-up expert for the job.
PH Test Kits
Because animal urine, especially rodent urine, can have some very nasty effects on your health, smelling the damage with your bare nose is not recommended. (If anything, you should wear a respirator and disposable work gloves if you are going to get up close and personal with anything that might have wild animal urine on it.) A better option is to go to your local hardware store and request a PH kit, specifically one that is used to test well water. These kits have testing strips that when moistened and/or set against something moist, they will change color to show the level of acid or ammonia in or on the moist objects being tested. If these test strips reveal that you have a very high concentration of ammonia, then you are looking at a urine-soaked item or area.
Use a Blacklight
While you are at the hardware store looking for a PH kit, see if you can purchase a hand-held blacklight as well. Urine glows intensely under a blacklight, whereas water damage just makes the objects look darker. If the only "reflection" you get under the blacklight is a darker, blacker object, then it is safe to assume that all of the damage you see is just water damage and the expert you hire for water damage repair can safely remove all of this without any major concerns for his or her health.
Signs of Droppings Near the Damage
One final thing you can do is to look for animal droppings near the areas you suspect are urine-damaged. Be careful, as some rodents leave very small, rod-like droppings that can be mistaken for dirt. If you see anything of the sort, it is safe to assume (and to err on the side of caution) that what you have is urine damage. Treat it as urine damage and ask a pet control expert how to best dispose of the damaged items. Some pest control experts may dispose of the materials for you if you hire them to put out rodent traps.
For more information, contact Complete Restoration Services or a similar company.