Recent Posts

A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture and Your Home

11/17/2017 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture and Your Home SERVPRO of N. Summit County can respond quickly, working to first contain the mold infestation and prevent its spread to other parts of the building.

Provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Air and Radiation- Indoor Environments Division, this Guide provides information and guidance for homeowners and renters on how to clean up residential mold problems and how to prevent mold growth.

Contents:

  • Mold Basics
    • Why is mold growing in my home?
    • Can mold cause health problems?
    • How do I get rid of mold?
  • Mold Cleanup
    • Who should do the cleanup?
  • Mold Cleanup Guidelines
  • What to Wear When Cleaning Moldy Areas
  • How Do I Know When the Remediation or Cleanup is Finished?
  • Moisture and Mold Prevention and
    Control Tips
    • Actions that will help to reduce humidity
    • Actions that will help prevent condensation
    • Testing or sampling for mold
  • Hidden Mold
  • Cleanup and Biocides
  • Additional Resources

Click Here for the full PDF file

Have a Mold Problem? Call SERVPRO of Northern Summit County Today – 800-648-1212

Include Safety in Your Thanksgiving Holiday

11/15/2017 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Include Safety in Your Thanksgiving Holiday Candles cause an estimated 15,600 house fires, 150 deaths, and 1,270 injuries each year. Never leave a candle unattended.

Especially during the holidays, the kitchen is the heart of the home. From baking and decorating cookies to testing family recipes, keeping kitchen fire safety at the top of your mind is a must- certainly when there is a lot of activity and people in one space.

Some Thanksgiving not-so-fun facts:

  • Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Eve/Day.
  • In 2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,760 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving.
  • Unattended cooking was the leading contributing factor in cooking fires and fire deaths.

With that said, here are some safety tips for the 2017 Thanksgiving holiday:

  • Stay in the kitchen/home when you are cooking so you can keep an eye on the food.
  • Make sure kids stay away from the stove and oven.
  • Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
  • Be sure electric cords are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child or pet.
  • Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children.
  • Never leave children alone in room with a lit candle.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working.

Caution is not a buzz kill. A house fire, on the other hand, is.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday, Summit County!

How to Thaw a Frozen Pipe

11/14/2017 (Permalink)

Water Damage How to Thaw a Frozen Pipe A frozen pipe can exert pressure at over 2,000 Lbs/ square inch, enough pressure to rupture almost any pipe filled with water.

Frozen water pipes are a serious risk during very cold winter weather. When water freezes in a pipe it expands and can exert pressure at over 2,000 pounds per square inch. This pressure is enough to rupture almost any pipe filled with water, which provides no place for the ice to expand. A burst pipe can spill several hundred gallons of water per hour, and that equates to thousands of dollars of damage to your home. Pipes are most susceptible to freezing when they are located:

  • in an outside wall
  • in a cabinet under a sink (especially near an outside wall)
  • in an unheated crawl space or basement

If your pipe is frozen but not yet ruptured, you must thaw it right away. There are a few thawing techniques to try, depending on where the frozen pipe is located.

Warning: Never use a blow torch or other open flame to thaw a pipe. This presents a serious fire hazard and can damage the pipe.

A frozen pipe that hasn't burst yet often reveals itself at a faucet: when you turn on the faucet and no water comes out or it has slowed to a trickle, there's probably a blockage of ice somewhere in the line. It's time take immediate action:

  • Shut off the water to the faucet locally or at the home's main water shutoff valve.
  • Open the faucet that is supplied by the frozen pipe; do this even if you don't know where the blockage is.
  • Identify the frozen pipe and locate the blockage: Follow the pipe back from the faucet to where it runs through cold areas, such as an exterior wall or unheated crawl space. Look for areas on the pipe that have frost or ice; it may also be slightly bulged or fissured.

When you find that the frozen—but not yet burst—pipe is behind a wall or ceiling, you've got a challenge on your hands. You have three options for thawing the pipe:

  • Turn up the heat in the house and wait.
  • Cut out a section of the wall or ceiling to access the frozen section of pipe, then thaw the pipe as an exposed pipe (see next slide).
  • Use an infrared lamp to help heat the wall section in front of where you believe the pipe is frozen. Infrared lamps are better than regular heat lamps because they pass through the air without heating it and will direct more energy to warming the wall and frozen pipe.

If the frozen pipe is exposed, you have several options for thawing it. Whichever remedy use use, heat the pipe from the faucet toward the frozen area. This allows water to flow out as the ice melts.

  • Hair dryer: Usually the easiest and safest way to thaw a pipe. If the pipe is close to the wall, place a cookie sheet behind the pipe to help radiate heat onto the backside of the pipe.
  • Heat lamp: You can use an infrared or incandescent heat lamp. As with a hair dryer, if the pipe is close to the wall, use a cookie sheet behind the pipe to help reflect heat onto the pipe.
  • Portable heater: A small, powerful heater works great for warming pipes under a kitchen or vanity base cabinet. Direct the heater onto the frozen section of pipe. It will work like a hair dryer on steroids!
  • Electric pipe heat tape: Heat tape is a ribbon-like wrap that contains electrical heating elements. You wrap it around the pipe you want to heat and plug it into the wall. The temperature of the tape is controlled with a thermostat. Heat tape can also be used to prevent pipes from freezing in critical areas; you can leave the heat tape on the pipe and plug it in only when needed.

There are a few things you can do to prevent the problem of freezing pipes from occurring again:

  • Leave the faucet dripping slightly during the coldest time of the day or night.
  • Open the cabinet doors to allow the heated air from the room to reach pipes inside the cabinet.
  • Wrap the problem pipe with electrical heat tape.
  • Insulate problem pipes with foam insulation wrap, especially those that run through unheated spaces. Note: Insulation merely slows the transfer of heat and will not prevent a pipe from freezing if the surrounding air is cold enough.
  • Heat unheated areas with a permanent heater, just to keep the temperature above freezing, or about 40 degrees F. Warning: Do not use portable heaters, which should never be left running unattended.
  • Remove garden hoses attached to outdoor faucets (hose bibs or sill cocks). If the faucet is not a frost-proof type, turn off the water to the faucet inside the house and drain the exterior section of the pipe and faucet.

Is It Possible to Restore Clothes that Have Been Affected by Mold?

11/9/2017 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation Is It Possible to Restore Clothes that Have Been Affected by Mold? If you decide to remove mold from clothes yourself, be sure you do it safely. Refer back to our blog for more on clothing restoration.

Any garment or fabric that has not suffered physical deterioration or discoloration as a result of mold growing on it, and that is washable (typically, a minimum of 130ºF for at least 10 minutes), can be restored completely. That goes for bacterial contamination as well, as evidenced by hospitals daily as they wash linens, gowns, surgical drapes, etc.

Dry cleaning also does a good job when evaluated and cleaned - often twice - by a qualified professional. Again, this assumes no deterioration or discoloration of the garment. Ultimately, sampling and evaluation by a qualified environmental professional can be used to confirm remediation of the garment.

Professional restoration technicians understand the need for quick response. Immediate remediation is key to controlling any escalating costs. The longer the remediation is delayed, the higher the cost of restoration. Certified restorers have the knowledge to test materials and apply the restoration techniques required to return the items to their preloss condition. Look for the IICRC logo to verify IICRC certification.

Does your home or business have mold damage? Call SERVPRO of Northern Summit County at 800-648-1212

Agents: Watch Word Choice in Claims Letters

10/31/2017 (Permalink)

Commercial Agents: Watch Word Choice in Claims Letters Grammar matters.

The following bullets point out random errors in word choice. You may not lose a client because you make a poor word choice, but you’re not helping the relationship either. Here are several word choice issues to watch for as you phrase your letters:

  • “ABC Insurance Company will make no voluntary payment of your claim…” Voluntary?
  • "e.g., and i.e.," most people don’t know the difference. Use e.g., when you are giving examples; use i.e., to introduce your thought “in other words.”
  • “Exception” and “exclusion” are words that have their own meanings. One adjuster wrote,” the exception that pertains to your loss can be found in your policy and is provided below for your reference. I think the word should be “exclusion.”

Here’s the difference: An insurance policy tells you what is covered.

Exclusions are classes of items that are not covered, such as nuclear war, acts of God, or terrorism. Exceptions are “exclusions to the exclusions, reinstating particular items within a whole category that had been “excluded.” For example, a homeowner’s policy may have an exclusion for all motorized vehicles. The exception to that exclusion might be a lawnmower, because a mower helps service the premises.

  • “Said” – Very legalistic: “Said payment would allow you a discount of $300.” Just write, “This payment would allow you a discount of $300.”
  • “Regard” and “Regards.” Do not write, “This is in regards to…” Write, “This is in regard to…”
  • “Were” and “was.” Take the phrase, “If there were no coverage…” Using “were,” known as the subjunctive mood in English, represents situations contrary to fact.
  • “Confirm.” When you confirm a lunch date, you restate your agreement as to the time and place. In insurance, however, it’s common to see a claims letter that starts, “This will confirm my phone call of 4/11/17." But what does “confirm” mean? Is the writer summarizing the previous call? Documenting it? Confirming is something you do to re-check a future date or agreement.
  • “Advise.” About 80 percent of the time claims people use “advise,” they just mean “tell” or “inform.” No need to use “advise” in a sentence like, “Let me advise you that it will rain today.” There is no “advice” being given. However, if you write, “Let me advise you to bring your umbrella,” you are using “advise” correctly.

"Your grammar is a reflection of your image. Good or bad, you have made an impression, and like all impressions, you are in total control." -Jeffrey Gitomer

Preparing Your Home for Winter Weather- Avoid Water Damage

10/31/2017 (Permalink)

Water Damage Preparing Your Home for Winter Weather- Avoid Water Damage Inspect your roof and gutters on a regular basis — at least twice a year.

With winter on the way, we’re heading into a busy time of year that includes several major holidays coming back-to-back. The last thing we want to worry about is the risk of water damage due to the changing weather.

Here are some wintertime considerations to keep your home safe and reduce, or even prevent, possible insurance risks:

  1. Keep your drains and gutters clean. Exactly how frequently depends on where you live, but you want to plan for twice a year. Clogged gutters can cause a few issues including roof leaks. If your gutters can't drain properly, the excess water can soak through the shingles and eventually start leaking into your home. Don't forget melting snow can also fill up the gutters, causing similar issues!
  2. Inspect your roof for damage and leaks. While you're cleaning those gutters, take the time to inspect your roof. Keep an eye our for cracks, leaks where different parts of the roof meet, and general wear and tear. You should do this also twice a year at least.
  3. Water expands, its mass increasing by about 9% when it freezes. Blocked pipes result in a buildup of pressure, which can cause a burst pipe, equipment malfunction, or contaminated water back-up inside the building. To avoid this, consider insulating your water lines and using heat tape as well.
  4. For extreme weather, it is wise to always leave a tap running at a trickle because running water is less likely to freeze.

Watch for our next blog post on how to defrost a frozen water pipe.

Defending Your Family Business Against Fraud

10/26/2017 (Permalink)

Commercial Defending Your Family Business Against Fraud Fraud can occur anywhere within a company and the right controls can limit its successful execution.

In a study done by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), the 2016 Global Fraud Study found that "businesses with fewer than 100 employees, which are in many cases family-owned, experience fraud at a rate of 28.8%, compared to the 19.8% experienced by those with more than 10,000 employees."

Smaller business often suffer more from fraudulent activities. It's more difficult to manage the damage it causes in a $5 million company than a $250 million company. This kind of activity also damages the company culture.

The median fraudulent loss suffered by small organizations is the same as large organizations: $150,000. However, while it is the same number, this number takes up a larger percentage of the small business revenue.

Here are 5 ways to defend your small business from fraudulent activities and enforce internal controls:

  1. Segregate financial duties. Create a three-person system of checks and balances: one person opens the bank statements, one prepares the bank reconciliations, and a third reviews all transactions and canceled checks.
  2. Stay away from signature stamps. Family and small businesses should require two signatures for any payment over a certain monetary amount.
  3. Establish routine checks of payroll, supplier and vendor lists by multiple people within the company. The final payroll list should be reviewed by someone other than the person distributing checks and preparing the payroll, and the list of vendors should periodically be checked for unrecognized names.
  4. Educate employees on financial reporting. To increase levels of security, outsource your financial reporting and ensure someone is monitoring for fraud.
  5. Every employee — including family members — should understand protocols in a business from expectations to pay rates and benefits. Clear expectations help avoid a power struggle and will clearly define who is double-checking various aspects of the business.

Fraud can happen anywhere. The more you believe it won't happen to your business, the more susceptible you become to it.

Source: 5 Ways to Defend Your Family Business Against Fraud by Bill Kowalski

Mold Cleanup Information for You and Your Family

10/23/2017 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation Mold Cleanup Information for You and Your Family We invest in the latest equipment and ongoing mold remediation training because it helps us restore your home or business quickly and effectively.

Molds are a natural part of the environment. They can be found anywhere there is water and moisture, so the key to controlling them in and around your home or business is moisture control. If mold is found in your home or business, you should clean up the mold promptly and fix the water problem immediately. It is also important to dry water-damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer resources for proper and safe mold cleanup. Click here for more information on mold cleanup information for you and your family.

Mold Damage? SERVPRO of Northern Summit County will help- 330-650-4486

Also check out our webpage for our mold remediation process.

Water Damage After a Major Storm

10/20/2017 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Water Damage After a Major Storm We have the storm damage restoration experience and specialized equipment to restore your home or business back to pre-storm condition.

When a major storm passes close to the house, the home may suffer water damage that is difficult to repair.

There are many things a family can do to begin repairing any destruction, but a certified professional will likely be needed to get rid of any serious health or structural threats. Contaminated storm surges or floods can carry pathogens and become a breeding ground for mold. If allowed to fester, these mold spores can spread throughout the building and become even more difficult to remove. In many cases,  governmental agencies could condemn the structure if the microbial threat is too great.

The main reason a home is sensitive to water damage is because moisture is difficult to detect once the floods recede. Standing liquids can encourage microbial growth within 24 hours and can saturate all kinds of textiles and seep through drywall. Moisture may collect behind the walls, where mold and bacteria may multiply out of sight.

Professional restoration services can quickly identify what items in the home are compromised by water damage. Normally, anything that is porous may need to be discarded if it has come in contact with contaminated fluids. These items, like mattresses, box springs, pillows and particle board, trap more moisture than other materials and foster the growth of microbes.

A family can prepare for professional cleaning by getting rid of these items before the technicians arrive, but be sure to properly record and itemize the items for insurance purposes prior to disposing. Once professionals arrive at the building, they will be able to track down any pockets of excess moisture and remove them. 

It’s important for a family to hire professionals that are certified through a reputable organization. Technicians trained in this area know how to find compromised areas and do what it takes to restore them.

Flood damage in your home or business? Call SERVPRO of Northern Summit County today at our 24/7 Emergency Service Line - (330) 650-4486 or at our Online Help Line.

The Truth About 100-Year Floods

10/17/2017 (Permalink)

Water Damage The Truth About 100-Year Floods The above image includes a diagram demonstrating the magnitude and frequency of water levels during a flood.

Whenever a strong hurricane or storm causes significant flooding, there is often talk of a 100-year flood. People will think a flood of that magnitude occurs once every hundred years, so they should be safe from harm for the next hundred years. Some base their decision to buy flood insurance on this false belief, putting them at risk of a catastrophic loss.

In order to determine the true frequency of floods, scientists will create a history of the area, tracking the frequency of different sized floods and the average number of years between them to develop the probability of a given sized flood in a particular year.

But rain volume alone does not always create the flood. The condition of the ground before the rain is critically important. If the area has received a lot of rain recently and the ground is already saturated, less rain is needed to flood the area. If the area has been experiencing a drought and the rain is falling fast, it is possible for the water to run off instead of soaking into the ground.

Factors such as a river basin and the addition of dams and levees will be considered. Once a flood recedes, high-water marks will be surveyed by scientists to estimate the maximum flows and streamgages will record the height and quantity of flow.

Explained by Property Casualty 360 in their article "The truth about 100-year floods," "The accumulation of data allows for a determination of the annual probability that a given stream or river will exceed its banks. This is known as annual exceedance probability, or AEP. A 1% AEP flood has a 1 in 100 chance of occurring every year, with an average recurrence every 100 years. This is the 100-year flood." They also predict during a span of a 30-year mortgage, "there is a 26% chance of a home in a 1% AEP, or 100-year flood area, of being flooded."

Questions about flood damage? Call SERVPRO of Northern Summit County today at- 330-650-4486.