Storms and Little Warning
Storms occur with little warning and can be especially devastating, so you’ll need the company that you can trust to rise to the occasion. Regardless of the type of storm, SERVPRO of Northern Summit County can handle any size disaster.
When severe weather breaks, storm water builds up on streets, near lakes, rivers, and local storm control channels. Should storm water begin to accumulate around your house, here are a few easy steps that may help protect your home:
- Make sure all windows are closed tightly – especially check windows in your basement area
- Move valuables to higher ground
- Continuously monitor the sump pump (if you have one) to verify that it is operating properly
- Make sure to secure any outside furniture or decorations that can become airborne with high winds
- Cover basement window wells to help divert water from pooling inside the well
- Make sure to pick items off the floor that may get damaged from water exposure
- Keep your shoes, car keys, and family emergency kit near the door
Safety should always be your main focus when faced with storm water.
- Do not walk through moving water, as even 6’ of water is enough force to knock you off your feet
- Stay away for flood waters as it is contaminated and unhealthy and may pose health hazards
- People or vehicles in flooded areas can hamper Emergency Responders ability for quick response
Storm and flood water damage can be very destructive. Immediate action is needed, and you need the company with storm damage experience. SERVPRO of Northern Summit County has the expertise and the resources to handle any size disaster. If you need assistance with storm or flooding call 1-800-648-1212.
Looking at the weather predictions for the week, today is a great day to check your sump pump to verify it is working properly.
When to check your sump pump? How To Test Your Sump Pump?
When to replace it?
When to check it? Sump pumps remove water pressure from homes during times of excessive snowmelt or rainfall. To ensure that your sump pump will work properly when it’s needed, you should check it periodically. It is a habit in my house to check it before, and sometimes during, an extreme weather event.
When to replace it? Did you know that generally sump pump manufacturer warranty their sump pumps for 1 year, 3 year or 5 years. When is the last time you replaced your sump pump? Depending on how much your sump pump runs – you should consider these warranties a good indicator of replacement time. Just because it is still running, doesn’t mean it is functioning at full capacity.
How to test your sump pump? The following tips will help prevent sump pump malfunction:
- Debris in the Basin: Sometimes debris such as children’s toys and other household objects may fall into the basin and interrupt the float mechanism which can cause it to malfunction. The float mechanism can also fail naturally over time. To test this mechanism, fill up the basin with water to make sure the sump pump starts like it should.
- Check Valve: The check valve prevents water from going back into the sump pump in the event of a failure. Make sure to check this valve because it is not always installed properly; the arrow should be pointing away from the sump pump.
- Weep Hole: Sometimes sump pumps may have a weep hole between the pump and the check valve. You can clean the weep hole with a tiny object such as a toothpick, just be careful not to break anything off in the hole.
- Clean the Impeller: The impeller is a small filter that may become clogged and when this happens it can cause the sump pump to suddenly stop running or make a whining noise. Cleaning or replacing the impeller can get the sump pump to function properly again.
- Back Up Power Source: Sump pumps are only useful when plugged into a power source and if the power goes out during a thunderstorm, the sump pump will stop working. Installing a backup power source for the sump pump is the best way to prevent this from happening in the middle of a thunderstorm when the sump pump is needed the most.
NEVER... Walk Away from the Stove
Sporting Events and Television!
It happens, especially during sporting events…… you can hear the roar of excitement from the other room, and you know you are missing the big play of the game. So you leave the stove, just for a quick peek. Only it’s just never as quick as you anticipate. Meanwhile back in the kitchen….grease fire has erupted. It can happen so quickly, the cooking oil gets over heated and out of control.
Good Rule: never leave the stove or turn your back for any period of time.
1) Evaluate – call 911 if it is out of control while gathering family and get to safety
2) Put a metal lid on it
3) Turn off the heat
4) Dump baking soda
5) Chemical fire extinguisher is best as a last resort or if the above options are not available
6) Stop. Let the area sit, cool down, before you address the damage.
NO, NO, NO
1) Do not throw water
2) Do not use a hand towel
We hope you never need to remember these tips. But your SERVPRO Team is here to help with the clean up should disaster strike. The photos are from a kitchen grease fire; just a second of “unattended”. The good news is the final repairs are beautiful; "Like it never even happened." No family members, or pets were injured in the event. Just frayed nerves and a bit of quilt. (Accidents happen and we should learn from them and move forward.)
Quick thinking allowed the structure damage to be contained to the kitchen. However soot and smoke damage occurred throughout the residence.
We are here to help 800-648-1212
Timing is Everything
Water damage requires a quick response by stopping the source of water intrusion as soon as possible. Knowing where your water shut off value is located in your residence, and reviewing the location with your immediate family and service professionals (housekeeper, babysitter, dog walker, house sitter, ect) is critical. Prompt response to stopping the water intrusion and clean up and dry out can greatly reduce overall restoration costs. Before water mitigation can begin, the source of the water intrusion will need to be addressed.
Initial steps to assess the damage and evaluate the level of contamination will help to formulate an action plan and determine if professional assistance is needed to help restore your home.
Professional water mitigation should be highly considered when:
- Water originated from a contaminated source: dishwasher, water bed, drain line, toilet, washing machine, flood water, etc. When addressing contaminated materials protecting the home from cross contamination, mold and securing the environment for the occupants becomes a primary focus for the emergency services.
- Porous materials affected by water: hardwood flooring, cabinetry, carpet and padding, drywall, etc. An immediate response to with water extraction and application of a biocide can help reduce the amount of structural material damage and reduce the amount of time the home or affected area is out of use.
- Water traveled from one floor to the floor or floors(s) below. It’s not the obvious water that causes damage, you can easily mop up that. When water and bacteria is trapped between layers of structural materials, this “hidden moisture” can cause long term damage and possible mold growth.
SERVPRO’s professional mitigation team is IICRC Certified, trained, and expertise knowledge to help you evaluate the extent of damage, and create an action plan for cost effective dry out of the affected area(s).
Remember, quick response time can reduce the overall mitigation costs and loss of use. Contact our office to schedule a site inspection and scope of damages for your home today.
How to keep clients’ properties dry in all seasons
With water around every corner, clients’ properties are more vulnerable to water damage than many would imagine. In fact, water is the number one property-related homeowners claim, according to Chubb’s claims data, and the Insurance Information Institute found that one in 50 homeowners will experience a related claim each year. When they do, it will cost close to $10,000 per leak.
Despite being both a common and costly risk, a recent Chubb survey of homeowners examining their approach to water damage prevention shows that it’s a threat clients largely overlook. Luckily, agents and brokers can help clients prevent water from damaging their homes, no matter where it comes from. It starts by helping clients understand the seasonal exposures they face.
Ensuring a fun, carefree vacation
Most clients take advantage of the summer to travel with family and friends. Yet too many vacations are ruined as a result of clients failing to take the appropriate water protection steps before departing. Consider that even though many clients ask a caretaker to watch their homes while away, Chubb’s study found that just 30% leave water leak information and only 17% provide information about what to do in the event of a weather-related flood with caretakers.
Why the concern? Time is of the essence when it comes to water damage, with even the smallest leaks or drips building up over time. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety reports that plumbing supply system failures and toilet failures are the two most common sources of residential water loss. If either of these systems drip for days, the results can be devastating, both in terms of property and financial damage.
Before your clients head out, advise them to:
- Turn off the water supply. This is the only way to prevent a leak from occurring while away; or
- Install a water shut-off device. This is the surest way to prevent wide-spread damage in the event of a leak.
Beyond travel, the warm summer months also provide clients with the opportunity to jumpstart home renovations. But in their desire to drive value, the number one home-related concern identified in Chubb’s study, many clients are inadvertently inviting new water risk into their homes.
Start with encouraging clients to pay close attention to a contractor’s qualifications, prioritizing certifications and licensing above word-of-mouth recommendations. Although both play an important role in the hiring process, Chubb’s study found that 42% of homeowners prioritize the latter, versus 32% who emphasize the former. If contractors don’t have the right experience or professional background, they should not be involved in the client’s renovation project.
Making the most of your time outdoors
Homeowners eager to enjoy the last warm days of the year often spend time working on their gardens, yards and outdoor areas. Many use this time to install sprinkler systems, construct outdoor kitchens and build decks, all designed to enhance their homes’ landscapes. According to Chubb’s survey, close to a third of homeowners (30%) think these types of exterior upgrades most positively impact their homes’ values.
Yet, these projects can quickly let water into all the wrong places. Agents and brokersshould encourage clients to consult with a landscape architect about how enhancements may alter the slope of their garden or clog drains and gutters. Failure to take this into account means new upgrades could redirect water toward clients’ homes, seeping into the foundation or basement over time and potentially resulting in significant damage. By speaking with your clients about their garden renovation projects, this is an expensive loss that agents and brokers can help clients avoid.
Forecasting frozen pipes
Most homeowners know that the pipes in their homes are at risk of bursting during the cold winter months. Homeowners are 40% more likely to have water damage in the winter than any other time of the year, according to Chubb claims data.
Still, only 21% of homeowners report installing pipe insulation, even though it is one of the surest, simplest and cheapest ways to protect exposed pipes in the basement or garage in cold weather. Homeowners might also want to consider hiring a contractor to install pipe insulation for interior pipes that are located adjacent to an outside wall.
Not only does installing pipe insulation help keep the water in a home’s plumbing system from turning to ice and expanding (and thus bursting the pipes), it often helps homeowners save money on their energy bill. In essence, a reminder to install insulation could help clients avoid a major winter headache while also lowering utility bills.
10 tips to prevent chimney fires
Proper home maintenance requires constant vigilance.
Chimneys, in particular, require upkeep. A chimney that is dirty, blocked or in disrepair can inhibit proper venting of smoke up the flue, and can also cause a chimney fire. Nearly all residential fires originating in the chimney are preventable, according to the New York State Homeland Security and Emergency Services.
Chimney fires account for 75% of home heating fires, meaning homeowners should actively monitor their chimneys. Homeowners looking to avoid damage to their property and increased premiums should prepare for fires by checking their smoke alarms and updating their emergency plan.
The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends looking for these signs of a pending chimney fire: a loud cracking and popping noise; a lot of dense smoke; or an intense, hot smell.
Why is SERVPRO concerned about creating community awareness regarding cyber attacks and cyber security? The more our world becomes connected to the internet the greater the risk for property damage. Consider the following scenarios:
- Hackers gain access to a steel mill via a phishing attack introducing malware to the control system that prevents the shutdown of a blast furnace causing massive damage.
- A power grid is remotely disabled by hackers causing extensive power outages.
- Using a homemade transmitter, a teenager trips rail switches and derails train cars.
- A hacker infiltrates the computerized waste management system and deliberately spills millions of gallons of raw sewage.
- Machines at a hospital are infected by malware and a remote-access program is installed on the hospital's HVAC system. This jeopardizes patient safety by putting drugs and other medical supplies at risk by altering the heating, AC and ventilation systems.
Sound like science fiction? They are all true incidents and it is predicted that as the IoT (Internet of Things) continues to expand, property attacks will become more prevalent and costly. Imagine hackers gaining access to the freezer temperature control at a frozen food manufacturer or infiltrating the computer system that regulates the fire sprinkler system in a large hotel. The focus on cyber security and providing appropriate cyber coverage for commercial customers is not only important to protect data but also to protect vital system functions. Hackers have only scratched the surface when it comes to property damage so it is important to educate yourself about cyber risks before a catastrophic incident occurs.
How to determine if I can handle the mold clean up in my house?
Do I need a professional mold remediation company?
Firstly, the source of the water intrusion needs to be resolved. If the source continues to allow water intrusion, the home will eventually return to an unhealthy condition.
You might want to consult a mold remediation company….
- If the visible mold spores affected area, from tip to tip, is larger than a 10 square foot area
- If you suspect that the heating ventilation system may be contaminated
- If the original water was from a black water source (sewage contamination)
- If you have health concerns of the occupants
There are numerous mold cleaning products on the market for consumer use. It is best not to use OVER USE any harsh chemicals. Simply scrub hard surfaces with a detergent and water, and let the area dry. It is very important to use personal protective equipment while cleaning: eyes, hands, and respiratory system. Upon completion of the cleaning, the area should be free of visible mold spores and musty, moldy odors (mold staining on structural materials may still be present). It is critical to monitor the affected area for a few months to make sure the area does not return to unhealthy. The area needs to continue to be dry, clean and odor free. If the area again begins to deteriorate, go back to correction of the source of water intrusion. It is possible that the original correction was not sufficient or there might a secondary source of water intrusion.
If you determine that your home or business has a mold problem, and the source of the moisture intrusion has been corrected, SERVPRO of Northern Summit County can inspect and assess your property. If professional mold remediation is needed, we have the training, equipment, and expertise to handle the situation.
Vacant Homes and Mold Growth
Vacant homes or unattended homes have unique issues that can that increase the likelihood of mold growth. These homes are locked up without inhabitants coming or going, turning on the heat, running air exchangers or ventilation fans, and have restricted air flow. Thus moisture or condensation can build up inside and create an ideal climate for mold. To thrive mold needs moisture, oxygen, a food source and a surface on which to grow; easily available within a residence. Mold spores are abundant in our environment, and once a mold spore has attached itself to dust particles, which provides the nutrients needed, all the spore needs is moisture.
Procrastinate where mold cleaning is necessary can be a costly decision. If mold spores are allowed to proliferate, you may be faced with extensive structural damage to your home and possibly loss of property value. Today’s buyers are very leery about investing into a home with visible mold contamination. Additionally, consumers are very aware that some molds species can produce toxins and allergens.
The remediation priority would be to correct the excessive of moisture build up in the residence. Remediation would include 1) water proofing, 2) corrective measures to secure windows and doors, 3) create healthy air flow. etc. After the corrective measures to reduce the moisture, professional mold remediation of all affected structural materials, contents, and HVAC system would need to be completed. If the issues that are causing the elevated moisture are not corrected prior to remediation services, after a period of time, the home would again become unhealthy.
If you determine that your home or business has a mold problem, and the source of the moisture intrusion has been corrected, SERVPRO of Northern Summit County can inspect and assess your property. If mold remediation is needed, we have the training, equipment, and expertise to handle the situation.
Evaluating Mold: Air Sample Testing
All buildings contain mold spores since they a natural part of the environment. An elevated mold count especially one that contains spores from varieties of mold that are commonly found when water damage is involved, such as stachybotrys chartarum, can indicate that there may be a structural moisture problem.
In the insurance claim process, mold testing in is generally utilized after the mold has been remediated to confirm that the mold spore count is at or below the count found outside the building. The test is conducted while the remediated area is contained in order to confirm the success of the cleaning process.
Determination of airborne spore counts is accomplished by way of an air sample, in which a specialized pump with a known flow rate is operated for a known period of time. Conducive to scientific methodology, air samples should be drawn from the affected area, a control area, and the exterior.
The air sampler pump draws in air and deposits microscopic airborne particles on a culture medium. The medium is cultured in a laboratory and the fungal genus and species are determined by visual microscopic observation. Laboratory results also quantify fungal growth by way of a spore count for comparison among samples. The pump operation time was recorded and when multiplied by the operation time results in a specific volume of air obtained. Although a small volume of air is actually analyzed, common laboratory reporting techniques extrapolate the spore count data to equate the amount of spores that would be present in a cubic meter of air.
If you have questions or need further information about the mold testing process, contact SERVPRO of Northern Summit County at 800-648-1212.