Archived Blog Posts
Inspecting the Interior Surfaces
The first step to cleaning the interior surfaces of your home after a fire is an inspection. Remove debris and trash as well as undamaged items that you want to keep. That should give you a clear view of the walls, ceiling, and floors to determine the extent of the damage.
You may need to remove standing water or use a large shop vacuum to eliminate loose soot and other debris. The cleaning process should start after you have a dry surface that is free of loose particles and burnt items.
If you see mold or other signs of serious water damage caused by the water used to put out the fire, you should contact our team for help. You want to restore your home to a healthy environment that is free of mold and ash.
How to Clean Interior Finishes
If a lot of water was sprayed inside your home to put out the fire, you can wipe those surfaces down with a bleach solution to reduce the risk of mold and mildew growth. For every gallon of water used, add one cup of liquid household bleach. Mix thoroughly and wipe down one small area of the surface to test for discoloration. If no discoloration is shown, you can continue wiping down all surfaces as needed.
To clean the interior surfaces, you can use a mild cleaning solution or a homemade mixture of tri-sodium phosphate, bleach, and warm water. These solutions will work for most hard, flat surfaces inside your home. Let’s go into greater detail on how to clean fire-damaged walls, floors, and brick.
Water Damaged Ceilings
Blistered or peeling paint or a discolored spot on your ceiling, especially if it's bulging, means water damage. And unfortunately, if you visibly see these telltale signs of damage, there is probably a lot more water somewhere that has caused it, which could lead to structural damage and hazardous ?mold growth.
What do you do if your ceiling has water damage?
Once you spot a leak, damage control is your top priority.
Get something to contain the water. Grab one or more waterproof containers to catch dripping water.
Move or cover your furniture.
Soak up water on the floor.
Make a small hole for drainage.
Call a plumber or roofer.
5 Reasons to Request the Professionals
Water damage can be a minor irritant or a major problem, and even the minor irritants can become major issues if left untreated. Here are five basic reasons why you should dispense with the “do it yourself” approach and call in a professional. We can spot the small stuff. Not all sources of water damage are immediately apparent, and a good water damage mitigation company will be able to look at your home and determine from where the next major problem might come. Taking care of it now will save a lot of money in the long run. We explain the processes we use. A professional water restoration company will be able to explain in detail the procedure that they are going to utilize to remove the water, dry out the property, repair and restore everything that was damaged, and the steps to be taken to ensure that there are no long term issues. Water damage repair and restoration can be an expensive project in virtually any scenario, so you want to be sure of exactly what you are paying for and the results that you should logically expect to see. You get a comprehensive treatment. It is almost never just the area directly affected by water that is the problem. Proper restoration treatment means being able to identify all the problems associated with the water damage and taking the steps to correct them. Some of these problems may be easily overlooked unless the technician is properly trained on what to look for and how to deal with it. A pro will take the measures necessary to prevent future damage. This would include informing you of necessary repairs, bringing in the subcontractors needed for the repairs, or perhaps treating the humidity level in a home to ward off mold growth. You want a company that can take these steps. A professional restoration company will recognize small problems and take care of them before they become major issues. One sunken floorboard can be repaired but left unattended may soon become a whole series of sunken boards. A pro understands the signs around your home that point to future issues.
Preventing Unseen Water Damage
Unseen water causes the most damage to a property, especially when the water contains bacteria and causes mold, rot, and other damage. You should understand where to look and what to look for - what causes this type of damage? For example, the pipes and fittings in your home or businesses walls and floors can develop leaks due to failures in materials, joints, and seals. Leaky pipes inside a structure are hard to find and can cause major damage, since they go unnoticed until the water leaks through to visible areas from your ceilings , walls, and floors. Four places to look for water damage: Pipes: Blocked bathroom drains, failure of waste disposals, and roots in sewer lines. Air Conditions: Ignoring air-conditioners results in costly repairs, poor performance, and moisture issues. Appliances: Water heaters, washers, and dryers often crack, permitting water to trickle inside. These kinds of leaks may expand and create a flood over time, even though the leaking begins gradually. Hoses have a tendency to deteriorate from the inside out, also resulting in leaks. Basements: A wet basement is brought on by moisture accumulations that drip through the foundation. Humidity is increased even though there are no leaks or standing water. High humidity can cause condensation on the cold concrete walls and floors.
?How Does Water Damage Homes?
Water damage is not always the result of dramatic events like hurricanes and floods. Homes often are ruined by pinhole-sized leaks in pipes, poorly graded soil, blocked gutters, or a sump pump that refuses to turn on. Much water damage results from easily curable flaws that most do-it-yourselfers can fix well in advance of a problem.
Water damage in a house can be truly disastrous. Left unchecked, even a slow leak will rot out drywall and studs, create black mold, and eventually weaken major structural elements like joists and beams. Stopping leaks before that first drop of water starts is the best way to prevent water damage.
Financially, water damage can affect your bank account, as well. Homeowners insurance may cover much of the cost of repairs. Even so, deductibles and coverage limits mean that homeowners will still need to pay out-of-pocket for repairs. A better solution is to address potential problems well in advance.
The ruin that fires cause is another particularly challenging type of property damage for commercial property to sustain. If not controlled and extinguished quickly, the entire building and all the assets inside are at risk. An engulfing fire can therefore be devastating. To successfully file a fire damage claim, you should photograph damaged items and the building itself. And keeping as much of this evidence as you can without discarding it is important, however, just in case your insurance provider requests to see it in person.
Problems With House After Purchase: Undisclosed Defects
Bad sewer lines or rusted pipes.
Hidden water damage.
Rotted wood or termites (learn more about termite letters)
Huge cracks in driveways or house foundation.
Bad or old ventilation or windows.
Septic system or heater issues.
What are the main benefits of home ownership?
Homeownership helps families build wealth, in part, because it is a forced-savings mechanism. When homeowners make their mortgage payments, they are locking wealth away into their homes without having to think about it. Home prices tend to go up over time, which also contributes to wealth gains.
Know where your home’s main water supply shut-off is located, and how to use it.
SHUT OFF THE WATER TO YOUR HOUSE AND DRAIN THE PIPES
This may sound drastic, but it will keep your house from flooding. Take away the water and there’s no pressure on weak points in your system. And even if something does break there’s no water to flood through. Removing the water from your pipes also keeps them from freezing, another big cause of flood damage.
Just before you lock the door for your vacation, turn off the water at your home’s main water supply shut-off. Then flush the toilets and turn on a faucet in the lowest part of the house. Let the water run dry before you leave.
IF YOU NEED WATER RUNNING IN THE HOUSE, FOR PETS OR PLANTS, TURN OFF THE VALVES TO THE TOILETS, FAUCETS, WASHING MACHINE, AND REFRIGERATOR.
Maybe you never noticed, but all of these things have their own little shut-off valves. And while you’ll still have water in the big pipes in your house, these are much less likely to fail than a faucet or refrigerator line. Only leave the water on for the one faucet that will be used for your plants or pets.
CHECK FOR LEAKS
A few weeks before your trip scrutinize areas under sinks and around the water heater to make sure you don’t already have a leak somewhere. According to the American Water Works Association, a leak of 30 drips per minute totals up to nearly five gallons in a day. Imagine if you took five milk jugs right now and poured them out on your hardwood floor, then left that liquid for a week. Then someone came along tomorrow and added five more jugs to the pool. Trust me, this could be your reality. If you find a leak, get it fixed right away.
HAVE SOMEONE CHECK ON YOUR HOUSE
The monstrous damage our house sustained suggests the leak went unchecked for days. If someone had discovered the deluge sooner, we would’ve saved thousands of dollars in damage and blunted the heartbreak of blindly returning home to a disaster.
Whether you turn the water off or not, have a friend or neighbor go into your house every couple of days. Make sure they know where your main water shut off is located. And give them a local emergency contact in case something does go wrong.
HIRE A HOUSESITTER
If you want true piece of mind, find someone to stay in your house while you’re away. Not only will this defend against pressure build-up in your pipes, but if something breaks or leaks you will have a helpful person right there to respond. Ask friends and family for a recommendation or see if someone you know would be willing to housesit.
INVEST IN A WATER SENSOR SYSTEM
Increasingly, there are technological solutions to help prevent devastating water damage to your home. From water sensors that send an alarm when they get wet, to automatic shut-off systems that stop water flow; many options exist. In the next few months we will be investigating this topic – look for a future post with more in-depth analysis and advice.
KEEP YOUR STUFF IN PLASTIC STORAGE BINS
Even if everything goes wrong and your house fills up with water, you can still protect your possessions with plastic storage bins. We lost a lot of belongings in our flood, but my grandmother’s photos survived untouched. Even though they were directly under the breach, effectively at the bottom of a waterfall, inside their plastic storage bin was perfectly dry.
What was not in a plastic bin was my laptop and several other valuable electronics, and only my laptop survived (thanks to a heroic rescue from our local computer shop). If it’s small and can easily be stashed when you leave, put your laptop, tablets, and other sensitive gear in a safe or at least in plastic. This makes it harder for burglars to find too.
GET A SAFE
A safe is good policy even if you don’t have a flood. It can protect sensitive documents and electronics from water, fire, and theft. If you invest in a safe, get one big enough to hold your laptops and tablets. And don’t forget to stash everything in there before you go on vacation.
DOUBLE-CHECK YOUR INSURANCE COVERAGE
If it’s been awhile since you’ve reviewed your homeowner’s coverage limits, be sure you aren’t underinsured. With reconstruction costs often topping those from fire, water can damage everything from your furnace to wood floors to walls to the actual structure of your house. Make sure your policy will cover the full cost if you have a disaster.
Professional Team with a Personal Touch.
Has your home or business fallen victim to water or fire damage? Our franchise is committed to offering quality restoration services to homes and businesses throughout Fairfax and Arlington County. We will work quickly to clean up your property, repair the damage, and get your building back in operational order. We offer 24/7 emergency services and outstanding personalized service to completely address all of your concerns.
Let SERVPRO of McLean Help Your Business Thrive
Floods and fires can take a toll on business owners, especially if you have to cut operations to clean up the mess. Instead of facing the problem alone, count on SERVPRO of McLean. Our team has extensive experience, advanced tools, and helpful resources available to quickly clean up damaged property and get your company operating in no time.
Our commercial services include:
Storm damage restoration
Water damage restoration
Fire damage restoration
We can also work directly with your insurance company to ensure that you receive the best services to assist you through the inconveniences that you are experiencing. You should never go through a disaster alone, and when you work with SERVPRO of McLean, you will not have to!
Is my insurance going to cover this water damage to my home?
Many homeowner insurance policies do provide some level of coverage in a water damage situation, but you will need to contact your agent for details about your policy. The source of the water damage is important when dealing with insurance. Some flooding related to weather events requires special insurance that is gained through the National Flood Insurance Program.
What should I do after a water damage event in my home?
When a water emergency occurs in your home or business, it’s only natural to want to take action immediately. Below are some preliminary steps you can take before we arrive, but only attempt what you can do safely.
- Shut off the water source, if possible. If you’re not sure where the water is coming from, we’ll inspect and handle the situation as soon as we arrive.
- Remove excess water by mopping, blotting, or wiping. This could include flooring and hard surface furniture which has standing water on it. Do not use your household vacuum to remove water, since it could cause damage to the vacuum or be unsafe.
- Protect carpet, rugs, drapes, and upholstered items from further damage. Place aluminum foil or parchment paper between furniture and wet carpet or rugs. Remove books, magazines, or other colored items from carpets and rugs. Hang draperies up with coated hangers to avoid contact with wet floors. Remove pillows or cushions from wet upholstered items.
- Avoid using electric or electronic items that have come into contact with water. This may include items such as light fixtures, ceiling fans, televisions, or appliances. If there is a possibility that someone else on the property may turn on an electric item that has come in contact with water, consider turning off the power to individual circuits within the power distribution panel of the property.
How long does it take to dry out water damage?
Drying out a structure depends on the severity of the water damage that occurred, and they type of structure, with an average situation taking 3–5 days. This can vary greatly though, depending on the magnitude of damage, amount of contents affected, any demolition that may be required, and the presence of any hazardous materials.
Returning a home or business to its preloss moisture levels is a closely monitored process, with our professionals making adjustments to equipment to help ensure the area is recovering as quickly as safely possible.
How to clean after fire damage?
The majority of cleaning after a fire is working to remove soot residues from the structure and contents of the home or business. We have a specific process we follow, which is tailored to each fire damage situation.
Protecting Your Home This Winter Season
Protecting Your Home This Winter Season
A winter storm can produce beautiful scenery in its wake, and it can be easy to overlook the level of damage that is sustained when overwhelmed by the snow globe-like appeal. However, as a homeowner, it is essential to remedy any potential threats before they cause significant structural damage.
1. Avoid an Indoor Blizzard
A blizzard belongs outside of your home, but with the combination of strong winds and ice, it is possible that the storm may end up overwhelming your property inside and out. Blizzards have a reputation for blowing open doors or even sending ice chunks through windows, and when no one is around this can lead to interior water damage. Invest in durable storm doors and windows to help prevent this type of loss.
2. Prevent Potential Roof Collapse
Living in Northern Virginia it is not uncommon for a winter storm to unload significant amounts of snow, and while that may not be an issue for people with a steep roofline or metal shingles, others may experience significant roof damage and possibly even collapse. Thankfully there are tools and other solutions to prevent snow buildup on your roof.
- Roof Rakes
- Heating cables
- Calcium chloride tablets
3. Ensure You’re Using Snow Removal Equipment Properly
While winter can cause several problems for your home, damaging your property in the process of removing snow is not unheard of. Snow blowers are powerful machines, and when chutes are not correctly controlled that machine can send ice hurling through the air and your beautiful bay window.
4. Have Assistance on Speed Dial
While there are many ways to prevent storm damage in the winter, no method is foolproof. It can be a good idea to have the contact information of emergency restoration services in your area. Additionally, it may be worthwhile to customize an emergency response plan as a precautionary measure.
A winter storm is easy to overlook as a threat because inside you are removed from the immediate danger, but that snow and those winds can be detrimental to the structure of your home. Therefore, to avoid damage, invest in precautionary tools and solutions and always have a backup plan.
Is Water Damage on the Menu at Your Restaurant?
How to Prepare Your Restaurant for Water Damage Recovery
Restaurants throughout the Northern Virginia area are plentiful, so you need to work continuously to set your business apart from the competition in the area. While part of this comes from your commitment to providing your customers with top quality food and service, it is also about how quickly you can respond in the face of adversity. When situations like water damage occur, you need to work fast to prepare the property for restoration – even if it is out of your skillset to perform it.
With how quickly emergencies like water damage in a Restaurant can get out of control, you have much more than your building to protect. In addition to structural concerns, you have the investment that you have made in the food and supplies to consider, as well as the foot traffic of your loyal customers. Even without the ability to handle widespread water loss as our SERVPRO professionals can, there are steps you can take to prepare your property for restoration work to come.
- Start by shutting off any water that is feeding the loss incident. If there is a break in the plumbing or you have an appliance that has malfunctioned, you can often locate an independent valve to shut off just this portion of your shop to keep everything else running normally.
- Do your best to contain the spread of the water loss incident when possible. You can even begin employing specific water removal efforts, such as using a mop and bucket, to slow the progression of these damages with our SERVPRO professionals are in route.
- If the restaurant must close for a brief period, make sure you protect the investment you’ve made in the perishables, supplies and other food items by relocating them if consistent power becomes an issue in the building.
5 Tips for Avoiding Candle Fires
Many homeowners light candles to freshen up a room or to have lighting during a power outage. However, candles still have the potential to create a fire that spreads throughout the building. Avoid a candle fire at all costs, and follow these helpful tips to stay safe.
1. Do Not Leave Candles Unattended
If you are leaving a room with a candle in it, first extinguish the flame. After all, you can always relight a candle if you desire.
2. Keep the Area Around Candles Clean
The shelf or stand where you place the candle should not have anything flammable on it. Additionally, you should avoid placing a candle on a nightstand near your bed. The bedding may catch fire if you are not careful.
3. Toss It Once It Is Less Than Two Inches Tall
You do not want to risk a candle fire by allowing the flame to get too close to the base of the candle. It is better to simply throw away a candle once it is less than two inches high. They are relatively inexpensive to replace.
4. Keep Candles Away From Pets and Children
Candles should be placed high enough that kids and animals cannot get them. It is dangerous for children to play with anything lit. If the candle is left on a coffee table, then a dog’s tail may accidentally hit it and cause it to fall onto the floor.
5. Do Not Put Out a Candle With Water
It is preferable to put out a flame by blowing on it rather than pouring water. The reason is that water can cause the wax to spill all over the place. The hot wax may still catch fire, causing flames to spread throughout a home in Northern Virginia. Candles are meant to be enjoyed, so always follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions to avoid a nasty candle fire and the impending smoke cleanup.
We Are The Crew To Call If Your Home Experiences A Flood
Removing Damage And Restoring Homes After A Flood
To remediate the effects of flood damage in Northern Virginia, SERVPRO technicians pay close attention to the walls and other places where water collects and remains after the flood retreats, and we remove standing water. Quick removal helps to eliminate further damage and reduces the effects where damage already started.
Response team members quickly remove furniture outside for cleaning, but efforts inside center around replacement or restoration. As an example, interior walls often absorb much water, but can still be restored to a clean, usable condition.
SERVPRO technicians start by removing floor trim and drilling holes into drywall to release standing water. If the drilling shows that an affected panel is already crumbling or it cracks upward, then it absorbed too much moisture and required replacement. Team members then carefully break up the damaged panels, bag them, and remove them for proper disposal.
If there is no cracking or crumbling, then we take steps to dry each panel and the space behind them. For the exterior, this means directing an air mover to generate warm, dry air over the surface that carefully forces out moisture, so it evaporates into the air.
For the interior, our technicians use another air mover with an attached hose to force air into the wall cavity. That helps to dry the panel and the wall frame where it is attached. One of our inspectors uses a moisture meter to check that everything is back to a normal level and then team members patch the holes and reattach the floor trim.
For SERVPRO it is not really about customers. We work to help our neighbors return their residences to a clean, dry condition so they can get on with their lives. If this situation includes your home, call us today to find out what we can do for you.
Helpful Hints About Toilet Replacement
A toilet is expected to be reliable, and they can last for 30 years or more. But sometimes the porcelain material they are cast in can develop a crack or the tank may break. When that occurs and water begins to escape, it is time to replace the leaking toilet. Here are a few tips to help you master the plumbing repair.
After discovering the leak, there are a few steps to take before you can replace the toilet.
• Before beginning the project, purchase a wax ring gasket, water-supply tube, and toilet.
• There are different types of water a broken toilet can leak. If the toilet bowl itself is leaking, consider calling a professional cleanup crew to make sure the water is not contaminated and hasn’t seeped into your walls and flooring.
• Once the water is removed, allow the area to dry thoroughly.
• Remove all standing water from the toilet tank and toilet bowl.
Once the area is dry and disinfected, you are ready to remove the old toilet.
• Disconnect the water supply line from the toilet.
• Remove the bolts securing the toilet to the floor.
• Lift the cracked toilet away.
• Scrape the wax ring and check flange for cracks.
Time to replace that leaking toilet with a new one.
• Center new wax gasket over the flange.
• Connect the water supply to the toilet base.
• Set the toilet in place over the wax gasket and press softly until the toilet meets the floor.
• Tighten bolts or hex nuts at toilet base.
• Connect water supply to wall shut-off valve.
• Sit on the toilet to compress further and re-tighten bolts.
Once the water is restored to the toilet, flush the unit several times. If water leaks between the toilet and floor, it probably means the wax ring was not properly seated or didn’t seal correctly. To correct the issue, consider installing a new ring to finish the toilet repair.
How to Take Care of The Aftermath of Broken or Bursting Pipes
Dealing with water damage is never fun. Bursting pipes can lead to flooding, which can cause a lot of problems in your home. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to fix a broken pipe quickly so that the damage is lessened.
Keep Pipes in Good Condition
The best way to handle flooding is to keep it from ever happening in the first place. While there’s not always a way to prevent bursting pipes, there are measures you can take to help keep pipes in good condition and lower their chances of breaking:
• Keeping pipes from freezing
• Checking pipes regularly
• Turning off water while on vacation
Act Fast When Things Go Wrong
Even though you may take good care of your pipes, things can still occasionally go wrong. If flooding occurs, one of the most important things is to act fast. The more water that floods into your home, the more damage there is to be fixed and cleaned up. A damage restoration company can help you handle bursting pipes and the aftermath of flooding. The faster everything is dried out, the less risks there are of unpleasant aftereffects such as mold and odors.
Identify What’s Happening
There are several things to be identified when flooding occurs. You not only need to figure out where the water is physically coming from but also decide if it is clean water, such as water from a tap, or black water, such as sewage. A restoration company can help you handle all types of water and hopefully get the problem taken care of quickly.
Bursting pipes can cause a lot of problems, but you can get them fixed without too much trouble by keeping pipes in good condition, acting fast, and hiring a professional company to help you. If repairs are done quickly and well, you should be able to avoid other problems, such as mold, later on.
Water Classification: Making the Claims Process More Accurate
As an insurance agent in the Northern Virginia area, it is your job to move the claims process forward. However, it is also necessary that claims are accurate assessments of the damage sustained to a property. Pretesting water damage can help you deliver an accurate insurance claim.
1. Water Categorization
Water categorization refers to the type of water and its level of contamination. There are three categories.
- Category 1
- Category 1 is considered clean water. It comes from a sanitary source, but prolonged standing could lead to contamination from other sources.
- Category 2
- Category 2 is contaminated water. This water presents as a darker color and likely has unsafe levels of chemical and biological matter. Avoid contact with the skin and do not consume as it may make you ill.
- Category 3
- Category 3 is contaminated and dangerous. This water is likely contaminated with sewage and other toxic chemicals. Contact or consumption could cause serious illness or disease.
2. Category Classification
Pretesting will also provide a classification to the damage. Each category and level require different restoration and mitigation practices which effects price. There are four classifications.
- Class 1
- Class 1 water damage means minimal exposure. This means that water is affecting a small area of a room and that there is minimal absorption into the surrounding materials.
- Class 2
- Class 2 water damage involves an entire room and a lot of water absorption into surrounding materials. This level also involves affected structural materials.
- Class 3
- Class 3 water damage involves the highest level of water absorption. This level of damage typically requires significant repair or replacement of all materials in the space.
- Class 4
- Class 4 is more related to drying times than water damage. This level involves specialty drying equipment and times due to deep pockets of saturation.
Pretesting provides an overview of the damage inflicted on a property. The higher the category and classification level the more extensive the repair. Therefore, testing the water before a restoration provides an accurate picture and price point for the claim being made.
Don't Let Mold Damage Close Your Business
Mold Damage in Your Northern Virginia Business Is No Need to Panic
Much hype exists in the media about the dangers of mold, leading to your need for a fast fix if an infestation manifests in your commercial space. We have the certification to offer professional mold remediation services and are happy to evaluate your scenario and discuss the process from start to finish. Our crews master the techniques during the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) training. We also invest in the equipment needed to abate mold growth efficiently and safely.
Avoid Long-Term Shutdowns
Every minute your business is on hold because of mold damage, your customers lose access to your products and services. We are sensitive to this issue as statistics bear out that nearly half of companies that shut their doors even temporarily because of a disaster might not reopen. When our project manager arrives, we discuss ways to partition off the moldy area safely and according to local ordinances. Permitting you to operate in at least a portion of your commercial building with as few limitations as possible during mold remediation is a priority. We also make every attempt to find and help arrange to eliminate the water source fueling the mold growth.
Adherence to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Protocols
Our Applied Microbial Remediation Technicians (AMRT) follow the procedures developed by the EPA for commercial buildings and schools. After we locate and determine the dimensions of the mold outbreak, the SERVPRO team partitions the affected space off from the rest of your business. Heavy-duty sheeting defines the perimeter. We then use negative pressure air scrubbing technology for two purposes. First, it seals the partitioned spaced, preventing drift. Second, it pulls airborne contaminants, including spores and other moldy residues, through HEPA filters, exhausting the air to the outside.
Scraping and brushing remove active mold colonies from solid surfaces. SERVPRO also works hard to save porous materials with innovations like soda blasting. Through gentle abrasion to agitate and dislodge the surface mold, the soda also inhibits the rebound of mold growth. Vacuuming and wipe-downs ensure we collect all debris for appropriate disposal as hazardous waste.
To inhibit mold regrowth, SERVPRO applies EPA-registered antimicrobials to affected areas. We might consider the use of disinfectant-infused sealers to provide a barrier and a smooth, mold-free surface for refinishing.
Residential vs Commercial Fire Damage
Commercial fire damage is very difficult to get rid of on your own, especially when you consider what goes into fire restoration. Fire restoration involves many different steps and processes, and this is why it is imperative that you hire a fire damage expert who can come to your home and do the cleanup for you. They will be able to come and take care of the electrical fire or utility room fire that has happened after firefighters have left using their fire trucks and fire hoses.
Along with having this type of commercial fire damage repair done, you may also want to consider a fire sprinkler system and fire suppression system along with fire restoration. Fire restoration alone is simply not enough, since you will want to prevent the issue from happening in the future using a fire sprinkler system and fire suppression system for your own needs. This is why a lot of people have made the decision to contact the experts after dealing with an electrical fire or utility room fire.
Another wonderful benefit hiring commercial fire damage experts and those who deal with basic fire damage is that they will take care of the smoke damage and soot damage that has been left behind. Both the smoke damage and soot damage is problematic for homeowners and business owners. This is why it is so important to call the fire damage experts and Commercial fire damage professionals after you have dealt with an electrical fire or utility room fire. Firefighters alone with their fire trucks and fire hoses are not going to be able to do the fire restoration for you.
The fire suppression system and fire sprinkler system is also important when it comes to ensuring that fire damage is no longer problem for your home. Firefighters will also recommend that you put in a fire suppression system and fire sprinkler system in order to prevent an electrical fire or utility room fire from getting out of hand in the future. They are not going to be able to put out a significant fire with their fire trucks and fire hoses alone. Smoke damage and soot damage can be handled by the professionals as well.
Once you have made the decision to hire the professionals to take care of the smoke damage and soot damage left behind after a fire, it is important that you work with the experts and understand what firefighters have recommended using their fire trucks and fire hoses. There are many different options available to you when it comes to hiring a professional company to come in and do the work for you. One of the main issues that a lot of people face is the fact that they cannot handle the issues on their own, so they are left trying to figure out how to handle it themselves.
Thankfully, there are tons of different reputable companies out there that will be able to help you in one way or another. This ensures that your home or business is put back to its former glory and that you will find it to be incredibly beneficial in many different ways. If you have some type of insurance on your property, you will also find that this is incredibly helpful when paying for the services that are rendered. It can be incredibly expensive for you to do the repair work on your own, so make sure that you consider this as an option and work with the professionals in a way that is going to be beneficial for you and your loved ones. You might be amazed at how inexpensive this type of work can be once you work with the right experts and have some type of insurance that will help to pay for the costs that are associated with having all of the work done on either your home or business.
Preparing Yourself for Winter Storms
PREPARE YOUR HOME & VEHICLE
- Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
- Insulate you home by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
- Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year.
- Keep a supply of Sand, Rock Salt, or Non-clumping Kitty Litter to make walkways and steps less slippery.
PUT TOGETHER A SUPPLY KIT
A basic emergency supply kit should include the following recommended items:
- Water – at least a 3-day supply; 1 gallon per person per day
- Food – at least a 3 day supply of non-perishable, easy to prepare food
- Battery powered radio (extra batteries)
- First Aid Kit
- Flashlight and Multi-purpose tool (pliers or wrench-to turn off utilities)
- Medications (7 day supply)
- Family and emergency contact information
- Baby Supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
- Pet supplies
- Warm Clothing –Jacket/coat, long pants and long sleeved shirt
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items
When evacuation is deemed necessary:
- Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
- Cell phone with chargers
- Extra Cash
SERVPRO is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Whether you need emergency winter storm damage remediation or other restorative services, you can trust us to make your house feel like home again. We have the training, experience, and equipment to quickly get your home looking its best.
Some Shortcuts to Commercial Mold Damage Remediation
Reducing the Threat of Mold
Almost everything in your entire Park Slope café is organic, meaning that the entire assortment of items remains susceptible to mold and microbial threats. The fastest route for these colonies to start in your business is poor ventilation or a botched cleanup and drying of a water loss incident that occurred in recent weeks. Water damage does not always dry up on its own, and lingering effects can feed mold spores naturally occurring in the environment to encourage them to seat and spread on surfaces.
You might not realize that mold damage in your business has started until it has spread to the point of concern. Your customers are a primary focus here, and you need professionals that can assess the risks and determine if containment and remediation can allow you to keep your doors open. Because of how many coffee shops and cafes are in Northern Virginia alone, we understand how important it is to get back up and running at full capacity as quickly as possible.
Reaching out to our SERVPRO team is reaching out to a team of qualified and well-trained technicians accredited through the standard-setting Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC.) For remediation alone, we have certified Water Restoration Technicians (WRT), Fire and Smoke Restoration Technicians (FSRT), & Applied Microbial Remediation Technicians (AMRT). With the strict regulations and codes for mold remediation and construction work, professional services are a must.
Content management is critical to protect much of the furniture in the outer-lying areas of the damaged zone. We can move wooden furniture and other susceptible materials and items to a safer space while the mold region gets sealed off with thick, 6 mil plastic sheeting. Our remediation contractors can determine if drywall, flooring, and other fixtures must get removed before we deploy our effective colony removal strategies like media and soda blasting.
The discovery of mold requires a fast response from our SERVPRO team. We have effective containment strategies and tactics to stop the spread of the organism while we get to work on the necessary steps to remove the colony entirely.
What Are Some Resources to Contact After a Fire?
An unexpected fire in a home or fire in a business can cause extensive fire damage that is impossible to deal with without additional help. Luckily, there are a number of resources for property owners who require fire damage restoration to contact in order to get the help they need. Fire cleanup is a lengthy and complication process which should not be tackled alone, especially when there are a number of organization that specialize in fire damage restoration.
Financial considerations are usually the first thought to come to a property owner's mind after a fire in a home or a fire in a business. Commercial fire damage can be absolutely devastating to a small business. After the fire has been stabilized by the fire department, the first organization to contact should be the insurance company. Insurance can sometimes cover the costs involved in hiring a restoration company, which can ease the transition back to normalcy after all the soot damage, smoke damage, and fire damage has been dealt with.
After the coverage of a restoration company's services is discussed, a fire cleanup team should be scheduled. A professional from the restoration company will evaluate the extent of the fire damage caused by the fire in a home or the fire in a business. The costs of repair and replacement will be discussed, and all commercial fire damage will be recorded and itemized. The fire cleanup team will also collaborate with the local fire department to discuss safety concerns and any damage to the building's structural integrity.
If walls or roofs are compromised, temporary walls and roofs may be put up by the fire damage restoration team. Windows and doors are usually boarded up to prevent unwarranted access to the premises. This boarding up of entry points allows for the property owner to rest assured that his or her property is safe while fire damage restoration is still under way. Because commercial fire damage can often damage locks, boarding up the doors is generally a good idea.
Once the building is secured, it is essential that all personal belongings damaged or not be organized and itemized. Soot damage and smoke damage may render some items unsalvageable. These items are then disposed of by the fire cleanup crew using regulated heavy machinery. The soot damage and smoke damage that is present is also evaluated for sanitization and possible restoration.
Smoke smells can be removed from fabrics and other surfaces using a variety of techniques including heavy vacuuming, steam injection, ozone treatment, thermal fogging, ventilation, and others. The smoke smell may persist and require multiple treatments before it is completely gone. Some individuals believe that ventilation alone can reduce smoke smells, but it sometimes requires treatments with chemicals called counteractants.
Because water is used extensively by the fire department to put out fires, water damage containment is also necessary. A fire in a home or a fire in a business can often result in extensive water damage and mold growth. Therefore, a specialist who can dry out the property and prevent further damage is necessary and usually contracted by the restoration company.
Fire damage can cause the loss of important paperwork like passports, driver's licenses, marriage certificates, birth certificates, insurance policies, and medical records. It is important to contact the authorities managing these documents immediately to have them replaced.
The fire department will also need to be in contact with the property owner to maintain the safety of the premises. Smoke damage and soot damage can sometimes cause a property to be dangerous. The smoke smell may be cause for the fire department to investigate further. Commercial fire damage is examined particularly deeply.
What causes flooding?
There are many causes of flood damage in your home or business.
Anything can happen to flood your home or cause water in your business; even small accidents like a supply line break or a pipe break can cause a flooded home. Some causes are preventable, others are not.
The most common causes:
- Broken water heaters / Sump Pumps
- Leaking pipes
- Supply line break
- Frozen water lines / pipe break
- Storm water
- Blocked Sewer Lines
- Overflowing appliances (Bathtubs, dishwashers, washing machines)
Effects of Excessive Water?
Unless the water cleanup and drying is handled correctly and by a professional, the devastation can quickly spread. A Water Damage Restoration Professional is experienced in the mitigation process and can save you time, money and headaches. Without them, you are exposing yourself to all types of additional problems with water in your home or water in your business:
- Contaminants in the water
- Structural problems
- Building materials
- Carpets and carpet padding
- Loss of personal property
- Electrical / mechanical problems
There is more involved than just fixing a pipe break or supply line break.
The 5 Step Water Damage Restoration Process
Flood damage is one of the most expensive types of property damage in the United States. Each year, billions of dollars are spent on repairing damage due to pipe breaks, supply line breaks or natural sources of flooding. Thankfully, water damage is almost always containable. But it is absolutely imperative that a professional restoration company be called in to begin mitigation efforts, the second any water in the home or water in the business is seen. Left untreated, flood damage will quickly compromise the structure and its materials, leading to potentially massive property damage and even condemnation of the property.
The good news is that, in the United States, hundreds of years of indoor plumbing, living on rivers and lakes and experiencing some of the most severe weather in the world, have all conspired to create a water damage restoration industry that is the best in the world. Almost every town in America has at least one professional restoration company. It's crucial that if any flood damage occurs to a home or property, the local professional restoration company is called in as soon as possible. With a prompt response, flood damage can almost always be completely reversed. With a delay of more than 24 hours, however, the chance of a successful restoration begins dropping precipitously with every passing hour.
The first step in the water cleanup process is calling in a team of restoration and mitigation specialists to the flooded home or business. A professional mitigation team has access to heavy-duty, specialized equipment that is specifically designed to handle flooded homes or business. They also have the expertise and manpower to attack the situation, head on, completely removing all water from the property, typically within just a few hours of arrival. Remember, the sooner a call to the pros is made, the higher the chances of a successful mitigation of potential damage.
The next phase of the cleanup process begins the second the water cleanup team arrives. They will immediately enter the property, surveying the extent of the water in the home or water in the business. At this stage, they will locate the supply line break, pipe break or other failure. If the pipe break or supply line break is causing active leaking, the water cleanup team will shut off the source of any additional flooding. In some cases, the supply line break or pipe break may need to be welded off using heavy equipment, such as torch cutters and gas welders.
If there is standing water in the business or home, the team will begin its extraction. Using ultra-powerful pumps and special vacuum equipment, the team will be able to remove up to 2,000 gallons of water in the home or water in the business, per hour. Within one hour or less, all standing water in the flooded home or business will be completely evacuated.
Next, the cleanup team will begin the drying process. This will be carried out through the use of heavy-duty drying equipment, such as that seen in car washes, as well as giant and powerful dehumidifiers. The drying process is the longest stage of cleanup, usually taking between a few hours to a full day. Upon completion, the flooded home or business will no longer have any traces of uncontained water. This will mark the point at which the structure is no longer at risk of incurring further water damage.
Finally, the team will thoroughly clean every item and surface affected by the flood water. This is to prevent mildew and mold growth, as well as removing smells that inevitably come with materials being soaked.
3 Reasons To Rely On SERVPRO For Large Loss Response
Relying On SERVPRO
In the event of a major storm, fire or flood in Northern Virginia, commercial property owners may obtain a faster and more professional response from a local franchise location of a national restoration company. Here are three reasons to choose SERVPRO to handle catastrophic loss.
1. Many Franchise Locations
SERVPRO has more than 1,700 franchise locations. This means that the closest professionals can arrive on site in four hours or less, which may be faster than other regional mitigation and restoration services. In the event of widespread damage such as flooding or storm damage, additional experts and equipment may report from nearby locations.
2. National Corporate Support
The backing of one of the nation's leading mitigation and restoration companies enables local franchises to be better trained and equipped than most independent companies. Insurance jobs are only offered to locations that satisfy all of the requirements of a 21-point Participation Agreement. This oversight and company-wide services such as the Claims Information Center elevate the standard of service and make SERVPRO the right choice in the event of catastrophic loss.
3. Industry-Leading Standards
This national corporation is also a certified training school for the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration. Each franchise must employ at least one technician who specializes in a particular area such as storm damage to maintain certification. The IICRC requires technicians to obtain continuing education credits to ensure that professionals keep up with current best practices in the mitigation and restoration field. This means that the work performed by these employees should be up to the highest standards in the industry.
Tips To Protect Your Home From Water Damage
Water damage is the second most frequently filed homeowner insurance claim. Coming home after a day at work, or a relaxing vacation, to find water in your home can be devastating. Whether a small unnoticed water leak, or a catastrophic flood, the results may be disastrous. Common causes of leaks that lead to water damage in our homes are:
- Water heaters
- Washing Machines
- Tubs and Showers
- Leaky roof
By following these simply guidelines you can protect your home from water damage.
- Know where and how to shut off you water main. If a pipe were to burst, it is imperative to know how to shut off the main water supply.
- Check hoses and faucets regularly. It is recommended that hoses that lead to your washing machine, refrigerator, and dishwasher are checked on an annual basis and replaced every five to seven years. Consider switching to a stainless-steel reinforced hose.
- Check showers and tubs. The caulking around your shower and tub should be watertight. If cracks in the caulk are visible, replace it. This is a simple, inexpensive way to prevent water seepage.
- Regularly check your roof for missing or damaged shingles.
Call it Murphy's Law, call it an act of God or call it just plain bad luck - whatever the term, disasters always seem to strike at the worst possible time. Chances are, whether a flood strikes the day before a big party or a holiday weekend, SERVPRO has been there and restored that. We are available 24/7, so in your hour of need, we are only a phone call away. We have earned the trust of our customers by combining an industry-leading process with a true passion for customer service. Our technicians identify the source and type of water, which determines the proper course of action. We use drying equipment that controls temperature and humidity, minimizing secondary damage. When water damage takes control of your life, we help you take it back.
What are Signs of Mold Growth in a Bathroom?
SERVPRO has extensive training to handle any type or size of mold remediation in your home
One thing to remember about mold growth is that it will not stop until the conditions allowing it to flourish in a home get eradicated. Only then will remediation efforts work to halt any further mold colony spread or growth. It is vital not to rely on DIY methods and engage a professional company. Signs that you may have a mold issue in your bathroom include:
- A musty odor that is persistent
- Visible signs of mold growth
- Delamination of tiles or wallpaper
- Damp conditions that do not diminish due to poor ventilation
Can Tile With Mold Damage Get Reused After Cleaning?
When SERVPRO techs handle mold damage remediation in your properties, their goal is to save as much of the structure as possible. Porous items such as sheetrock and fabrics may require disposal if there is no way to return them to a sanitary standard for reuse. However, if the fabrics and clothing can be washed and disinfected in an Esporta washing system, these can be restored.
Not only do the technicians remove the items that got ruined by the mold infestation, but they also scope the property to discover the reason for it. Frequently seen reasons for this type of issue in a bathroom are unseen leaks behind a wall or poor exhaust ventilation trapping the moist air from showers or baths in the bathroom. In the case of common walls in apartments and condos, the water source should be inspected and fixed.
SERVPRO is certified to handle mold damage remediation by IICRC and can determine the reason for the infestation and necessary repairs to help prevent recurrences.
Smoke and Soot Clean Up
Smoke and soot are very invasive and can penetrate various cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. Our smoke damage expertise and experience allows us to inspect and accurately assess the extent of the damage to develop a comprehensive plan of action.
SMOKE AND SOOT FACTS:
- Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.
- Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go floor to floor.
- The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process.
Different Types of Smoke
There are two different types of smoke - wet and dry. As a result, there are different types of soot residue after a fire. Before restoration begins, SERVPRO will test the soot to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. The cleaning procedures will then be based on the information identified during the pretesting. Here is some additional information:
Wet Smoke - Plastic and Rubber:
- Low heat,
- Pungent odor,
- Smeary, &
- Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.
Dry Smoke - Paper and Wood:
- Fast burning,
- High temperature, &
- Heat rises therefore smoke rises.
Protein Fire Residue - Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire:
- Virtually invisible,
- Discolors paints and varnishes, &
- Extreme pungent odor.
Our Fire Damage Restoration Services
Since each smoke and fire damage situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored for the specific conditions. We have the equipment, expertise and experience to restore your fire and smoke damage. We will also treat your family with empathy and respect and your property with care.
Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
Call Us Today.
We Get You Back In Business After A Flood
Common Issues with Commercial Flood Damage in Your Businesses
Commercial flood damage has the potential to shut down a business if it is not correctly cleaned up. Numerous factors affect the outcome of the restoration and how rapidly it can reopen.
When SERVPRO technicians help local businesses experiencing commercial flood damage, the technicians work to not only get the company reopened as quickly as possible but also to save the property owners from the cost of replacement and repair through their restoration methods.
Saving Stock From Cross-Contamination
In almost any business, stock and equipment are significant investments. When they are on-site during flood water cleanup, SERVPRO technicians take careful measures to protect unaffected areas on the premises from cross-contamination from pollutants in the groundwater. This may include actions such as sealing off the loss area with plastic, coving HVAC vents, and in some cases, pack-out of undamaged items to a secure location until mitigation efforts complete.
Mold is a Threat
The high humidity of a flood loss structure makes an ideal breeding ground for mold colonies, and airborne spores can germinate and begin to spread as fast as 24-hours. SERVPRO technicians have a mold remediation certification and know the early warning signs of a mold infestation as well as proactive treatments to inhibit growth.
Common Losses Seen with Groundwater Damage
Even half-an-inch of groundwater leaves behind significant flood damage. Industrial carpet and tiles tend to be adhesive-backed and often delaminate in the presence of extended exposure to water. SERVPRO technicians remove items with too much damage for restoration and carefully note the condition along with photos. This attention to detail is part of a report created to assist property owners in filing insurance claims to expedite reimbursement.
Sheetrock wicks water rapidly, and once it has warped or buckled, it requires removal. Technicians measure to the water-line and cleanly cut several inches above it to halt any further damage and open up the wall cavities for complete drying.
Everything You Need to Know About Fire Damage
Fire damage is often much worse than people realize, and it has a lot to do with the unknown damage it causes. Soot damage, smoke damage, and the smoke smell that lingers for so long after a fire in the home or fire in the business occurs are some of the worst forms of damage. Fire itself causes ample damage to most structures, whether it’s commercial fire damage or a fire in the home. Add the soot damage and smoke damage to the mix, and the mess requires the help of a company that specializes in fire cleanup.
Fire damage is devastating, and there is nothing homeowners or business owners can do but hope their belongings can be salvaged. If fire damage didn’t destroy personal effects when a fire in the home or fire in the business occurs, the soot damage and smoke damage might have done the job instead.
If commercial fire damage occurs, it’s even more imperative people call for professional fire damage restoration. Attempting to restore the property themselves can have even worse results either due to incorrect processes, or additional revenue loss from business interruption while the process is taking longer than needed to clean up . When fire damage occurs, it’s imperative home and business owners call for professional fire damage restoration.
What Happens After a Fire in the Home or Fire in the Business
When fire occurs, so many things happen. Items in the home or business are damaged because of several issues commonly associated with fire. Soot damage occurs when soot from the fire lands on the items in a home or office. Soot damage can stain or destroy items, and it’s not easily cleaned without the help of a professional. Smoke damage is another issue. Smoke damage can cause things to never smell the same, it can destroy artwork and books, and it can destroy clothing.
The smoke smell might never come out of furniture or clothing without professional fire cleanup. Most people can’t just wash the smoke smell out of things, which is why calling for professional fire damage restoration is so important.
A professional has the ability to work miracles such as removing the smoke smell from virtually everything. Don't let a home or office go uncared for after a fire because it's intimidating to start.
Why a Flood Cut Is Worth It After a Storm
When a storm hits flooding is many homeowners’ biggest fear. However, while contamination from standing water is a serious danger, water damage and contaminates left after the flooding recedes can not only cause health concerns but issues with your home’s insulation. A flood cut, or removal of the drywall from the floor to 12 inches above the flood line in a room affected by flooding, can ensure that your walls dry completely and don’t harbor mold or other health hazards. Additionally, a tear out of the drywall can reveal further water damage that must be repaired.
Not all cases require a flood cut. When the flooding only involves clean water, as from a broken pipe, and if there is no insulation in the wall, a flood cut may not be necessary. Flood cuts are typically used in the following situations:
• If flooding is due to a storm or sewage backup and the flood water may be contaminated
• If wet insulation is detected
• If microbial growth of any kind is detected
Flood Cuts Keep You and Your Family Healthy
When flood water is contaminated, it can foster the growth of mold and other bacteria harmful to your health. Because flood waters can seep through drywall, health hazards can be hidden in the walls even if the room looks dry and clean on the surface. A flood cut ensures that walls are thoroughly dried and free from growth, keeping you and your family safe.
Flood Cuts Reveal Hidden Damage
While not all walls are insulated, flooded homes with insulation need flood cuts to reveal water damage behind the drywall. Drywall tear out can reveal whether insulation has been damaged by the flood. Because insulation cannot be properly dried after a flood and maintain its R-value, any wet insulation must be replaced.
When your home floods, professional water restoration experts can ensure that you and your family stay healthy and your home stays insulated.
How to Choose the Right Water Damage Restoration Company
Broken sewerage systems, plumbing technicalities, and floods can cause serious water damage to a home or a commercial building. As a homeowner or a manager of a commercial building, it's prudent to consider hiring the services of professional water damage remediation services to prevent the damage from escalating and causing even further damages like mold buildup or collapsing of the entire building. Furthermore, such damages can cause problems to your wiring system and affect other expensive appliances like the air conditioning unit. Time is crucial when it comes to responding to flood damage. If the flood damage is not resolved as soon as possible it might lead to other substantial losses that will definitely be too costly to replace or repair. The only ideal step to take is to hire a professional water cleanup service provider to restore the mess. Here are a few tips and guidelines on how to choose the best professionals for the job.
Certifications and accreditation
Although the mitigation process is supposed to commence as soon as possible, it doesn't mean that due diligence shouldn't be followed. Don't just hire anyone who claims to be certified and experienced in offering flood damage restoration services in the neighborhood without verifying the certifications and accreditation. In fact, a credible water cleanup contractor should have specializations in other fields such as plumbing and wiring so as to disconnect and connect broken pipes to restore the water damage satisfactorily. The contractor should have accreditation documents from relevant bodies like the Better Business Bureau.
Years of experience in the mitigation
Hire experienced professionals who have handled water damage mitigation situations that are even worse than the current flood damage problem. Experienced professionals have a good reputation. A good start is to ask friends and close family members for referrals of some of the reputable water damage restoration professionals in the neighborhood who can handle comprehensive drying.
Remember, proximity is an issue here, therefore don't hire contractors who will take several days to get to your home when it has started developing mold. Mold and fungus can start developing on the site after two days. If the home or commercial building gets a mold manifestation, it may require that the building owner hires a mold removal company on top of the water damage restoration expenses. Some valuable possessions and furniture can get damaged if not salvaged in good time. Therefore, hiring professional contractors from the locality is a good idea.
To avoid unnecessary lawsuits in case of any unexpected eventualities during the water in a home or water in a business drying process, it's advisable to hire insured and bonded water in home or water in business removal companies. The water mitigation company should be bonded and licensed and comply with all policies regarding professional operation of a mitigation company.
Tools and equipment
The tools and modern equipment used by the water cleanup companies in removing the water in home or water in business are designed to be more effective than equipment sold for home use. Most businesses or homes can't afford to buy the expensive drying equipment necessary for the drying of the water for personal use. It's necessary to inquire about the type of equipment that the water in home or water in business Restoration Company will use in the water cleanup before signing any contract papers. Sometimes usage of certain equipment is prohibited in some residential estates.
The water removal company professionals should also wear protective gear such as gloves and masks when handling contaminated water from broken sewerage systems so as to avoid cross contamination. Ask the residential or commercial water Restoration Company to recommend any necessary repairs that should be conducted on the building after the restoration project.
Water Crisis in Your Home?
Why SERVPRO Is Uniquely Qualified to Respond to Water Damage
The residential housing in Northern Virginia typically has a long history, with many renovations over the years. When a water crisis occurs in your home, the original structures plus any remodeling or rehabbing that happened can create barriers to hinder water removal and rapid structural drying. We have many talented and multi-certified and experienced employees who have “seen it all,” yet are up for the next challenge. That is why we are confident when we take on your unique project.
Layers of Building Materials Lengthen Drying Times
When water damage in your home is complicated by multiple layers of sheetrock, expect extended drying times and increased potential for secondary damage like mold growth. The drying time for a single layer of saturated drywall typically is five to seven days. Adding layers in place because of DIY or professional remodeling you or previous owners completed requires adjusted drying times, often more than twice as long. Our team is skilled in the use of penetrating moisture meters with non-stick probes to establish the presence of moisture and to monitor progress. We can head off issues that might be brewing deep inside your walls.
Floors, ceilings, and built-in cabinetry can funnel water damage into remote spaces and cavities within your home. When we follow the migration of water, the following question arises: can we employ controlled demolition techniques to gain access to caches of water and damp areas challenging to extract and dry? The training and mentoring by more experienced experts our employees receive is another reason why SERVPRO can respond to unusual water damage circumstances with creativity. Opening up moisture-filled spaces with holes and strategically placed cuts allows our extraction equipment to reach the water. Our air movers, heaters, and dehumidifiers are also able to utilize planned demolition to introduce psychrometry - or the science of drying - to mitigate and remediate water damage far from the original loss.
Build Back Support
Our residential contractor license permits us to offer our customers rebuilding services after controlled demolition. This wrap-around approach is why SERVPRO ensures your water-damaged home eventually returns to preloss condition, “Like it never even happened.”
Removing Flood Damage From Your Property
Removing Flooring Flood Damage in Northern Virginia
According to the NFIP, businesses comprise only 5% of flood policies as of August 2019. While it could be tempting to cut costs, losses incurred by flooding can lead to more than just long-term damaged structures. Without professional mitigation, local businesses can lose significant amounts of revenue.
If your Northern Virginia business has suffered flood damage, IICRC-certified SERVPRO technicians are available to help you 24/7. Disasters do not always occur during regular business hours, so this team strives to help small business owners restore structures and get back to business as usual. Your local SERVPRO is actively involved with beneficial organizations like CERT, the American Red Cross, and many other drives and charities that seek to improve the community.
Assembling a Small Business Disaster Supply Kit
• Pack battery-powered essentials such as flashlights and radios to monitor disasters and navigate more safely.
• Keep a stock of non-perishable foods, including canned goods and calorie- and nutrient-dense granola and energy bars, as well as disposable utensils and a manual can opener.
• Make sure there is a gallon of water per person per day in your kit.
• Mylar blankets are another must-have in the event of the flooding-related disaster at your business.
• Personal hygiene items and first-aid materials are a must-have in your disaster supply kit. Be sure to have garbage bags handy to dispose of trash and maximize sanitation.
Keep emergency numbers and procedures available throughout your facilities, and go over evacuation routes and procedures with your employees to maximize safety for both your staff and customers. If you have special needs employees or clients, include special accommodations for them in your planning.
How SERVPRO Restores Businesses
If you have over 2 inches of standing water in your business, technicians can deploy submersible pumps to suck up water fast. Technicians can then use extraction wands to remove moisture in surfaces and wall cavities and prepare the space for disinfection and drying. Carpet and pad need to be removed from the facility to maximize safety.
If your business keeps porous merchandise, these items may require removal as floodwaters contain microbes and other contaminants. If you need mold remediation after a flood, this SERVPRO team is licensed to address mold with EPA registered antimicrobial cleaners .
What to Do When You Suffer Storm Damage
What to Do When You Suffer Storm Damage
Water is the world's most powerful force, and while most people just focus on the wind when they think about a hurricane, flooding is almost always the bigger issue. In places around the world where storm damage has happened, river flooding, ground water problems and other subsequent issues have led to roof damage, roof leaks and other similar concerns. When you find yourself inundated with flood water and hurricane damage, what should you do? Whether it's hail damage, ice damage, wind damage or damage to your flood pump, it's important to have a plan. Here's where to start with storm remediation.
Put in a call to FEMA
Perhaps the first step when you've suffered storm damage is to put in a call to FEMA. Whether river flooding filled your house or you suffered a roof leak from wind damage, a call to FEMA is the first step in storm remediation. FEMA is a federal agency set up to help people deal with storm restoration, home restoration and other types of storm remediation. If you've taken a direct hit and are suffering from hurricane damage, FEMA can sometimes provide you with money to use in the storm remediation. You'll have to get a FEMA number to get the process started.
Gather and protect your personal information for insurance and other claims
If you've been the victim of flooding, wind damage, roof damage, roof leaks and other problems, you may be able to file an insurance claim that will provide you with the money to hire a professional to fix your home. Ground water and flood water can be dangerous, so it's critical to get the process started early. Even if you're the victim of a winter storm and you have frozen pipes from ice damage along with hail damage, you should still gather your information for insurance purposes. The home restoration process from a problem with ice damming or wind damage is largely the same. It should start with the successful protection of your most important documents so you'll have what you need when you go to file an insurance claim to cover that roof repair.
Get out of a damaged house as quickly as possible
Whether an ice dam has busted of you need storm restoration because of wind damage, it's critical not to spend time in a damaged home. Those homes suffering from ice damage or ice damming problems can have structural issues and be unsafe. If you don't have ice damage and you instead have river flooding, you may be living in a veritable cesspool. Your safety should be most important, so it pays to get out before you start the process of a complete home restoration or water restoration. After you've gotten out, you can find a professional company to provide storm damage help, including roof repair for a roof leak, water pump action for flooding, and full home restoration for ground water problems.
Call a company to provide professional help
Water restoration in your home is easiest with an professional flood pump, and frozen pipes from an ice dam issue shouldn't be handled by an amateur. If you find yourself fixing frozen pipes because of ice damming, you are doing it wrong. The better option to rid yourself of flood water or handle that roof repair is to invest in professional help. If it's hurricane damage that's brought that river flooding into your home, then you'll likely have a long road ahead of you. The flood water and ground water problems can do significant damage to the bones of your home, and a professional water restoration company may have to fix your home over the long haul. Even if it's just hail damage or ice damage from ice damming problems, you may have an insurance payoff to help you get professional help into your home. Take advantage of that and save yourself the trouble.
If it's storm restoration you're after, get your affairs in order and call a professional storm restoration company with skilled people and a real flood pump. If it's something like roof damage or other structural storm damage, allow a professional to do that roof repair or fix problems from an ice dam. Frozen pipes and water restoration from hurricane damage are nothing to play around with. A professional who has dealt with ice dam issues or hail damage before can walk you through a stressful time. Their flood pump may just accelerate the process, too, if you have extensive water in your home.
Handling Water Damage to Your Restaurant
With the high volume of traffic that your franchise eatery receives every day, you need fast and reliable water restoration.
Natural disasters and accidents that impact your Northern Virginia restaurant's productivity and operation are rarely situations that employees and property managers can handle on their own. Broken sprinkler heads, damaged sink fixtures, or broken pipes in the walls can cause substantial water damage to the building. How these conditions get addressed can often be a difference in whether your facilities can stay up and running after a loss or if the doors to your restaurant must close temporarily for professional water restoration companies to complete their recovery.
Because water damage repair for Northern Virginian restaurants can encompass so many individual tasks, each approach for compromised businesses varies based on the circumstances and structure's layout. Certain fundamental mitigation steps are the centerpiece of our initial activity, but even these approaches get tailored to specific situations. For example, controlled demolition might not be necessary for most metal frameworks in wall systems. However, older franchise restaurants might still feature wood framing in the walls that could become overly damaged with exposure.
What Water Mitigation Services Must Occur?
Even with a fixation on cleaning and restoring a damaged property after a water disaster, your restaurant depends on the initial mitigation and emergency services our SERVPRO team provides. Applying some of these actions immediately can keep your facility open in some capacity, allowing you to continue serving customers while restoration, cleaning, and drying continue. Mitigation involves several quick approaches, including:
- Extraction – Removing standing water is a considerable initial concern, especially when floor drains in the building have become clogged or overwhelmed. This process involves several water removal tools, including pumps, extractor trucks, and wet vacuums.
- Containment – Establishing physical barriers between damaged areas and unaffected portions of the restaurant can allow the establishment to operate in a limited capacity.
- Controlled Demolition – Sagging and destroyed materials can be a hazard to employees and restorers working to recover the damage.
- Repairs - With a team of in-house contractors on our roster, we can locate plumbing or fixture damage and repair it to prevent further property losses and restore water service.
What Materials Are Affected by Standing Water?
No matter where the bulk of the damage exists in the restaurant, from the kitchen and food prep areas to the dining portion of the building, our contractors and restorers' response remains the same. Understanding what materials are the most likely to become damaged by the presence of water ensures that the appropriate drying and cleaning occurs promptly to reduce tear-out.
- Drywall - Drywall is often a quickly damaged material, even if the entire wall surface does not become impacted. Establishing a dryline allows for flood cuts to get made that remove compromised portions of sheetrock.
- Subflooring – Carpets common to your restaurant's dining area either leads to concrete subflooring or OSB board. With the right length of exposure, both of these materials could become damaged.
- Wood Framing – While newer commercial construction utilizes aluminum framing, older buildings can still be susceptible to migrating moisture and its effect on wood frames.
- Furniture – Tables and chairs throughout the dining area can also be sensitive to water damage when exposure persists long enough to penetrate the finished wood.
Is Mold Possible?
If mold exists because of the water damage situations in your restaurant, it could welcome several immediate health and safety concerns for your patrons and staff. When water damages exist, our SERVPRO professionals work quickly to limit the spread and treat surfaces with antimicrobial solutions when possible.
Removing Smoke Odors from a Local Library
Fire damage to your local library can make it close for a while. Contacting SERVPRO can provide remediation services for your library.
Fire damage odors can be a considerable obstacle for restorers, and there are multiple deodorization strategies to help.
When even a small fire ignites in a Northern Virginia library, there are many potential obstacles and hurdles that fire restoration companies like our SERVPRO team must overcome. While much of these initial steps involve the mitigation stages such as debris removal and surface cleaning, in many ways, lingering odors can pose the most significant challenge to making fire losses "Like it never even happened."
While fire damage restoration for public structures involves a careful union of advanced cleaning techniques and containment strategies, libraries add further challenges with so many volumes of literature to preserve and protect. These contents are as crucial in many ways as the structure itself, as this represents the borough's investments into the education of its residents. While smoke residues and ash can present immediate threats to these books and works, odors can become a lingering concern that stays trapped in the paper pages and covers of these novels stocked on the shelves. Removing odors often falls to several capable pieces of equipment in our inventory, including:
- Thermal Fogging
- ULV Fogging
- Hydroxyl Generators
- Ozone Generators
- Air Scrubbers
Is Fogging the Best Odor Removal Approach?
While each of these deodorization approaches can have its ideal use in fire restoration cleanup and recovery, few have the versatility of thermal and ULV fogging. By creating a mist or vapor of deodorizing compounds, they can penetrate porous surfaces and contents to neutralize smoke and burning odors already embedded there. With the lightweight portability of fogging units, they are among the most widely used in odor removal approaches. Fire losses can be a challenge for public buildings like the library when contents become exposed.
How to Remove Water From Your Business
Our Professionals Can Get Your Doors Back Open Quickly with Effective Extraction, Drying, and Repair Approaches
Water losses might vary in their cause and origin, but their effect on your hair salon can be universal with almost any other business. Disasters threaten your ability to serve your customers and cause damage to your building that exceeds your cleaning or restoration abilities. Our SERVPRO professionals have helped many businesses to get their doors back open again after a water loss incident, and we can help yours too.
From the pressing content damage to a need for water removal in your Northern Virginia business, cleaning up the mess is a vital step in the right direction. Our technicians have a wide variety of powerful tools and technologies that can work towards managing the loss as quickly as possible. The faster that our team can mitigate the damage, the sooner we can get the salon cleaned up and ready for your loyal clients to return.
Is Professional Extraction Faster?
It is a common misconception that DIY restoration approaches are as effective as professional ones. Especially when you consider efforts like extraction and drying, the equipment available to even a knowledgeable property owner pales in comparison to the industry-leading tools in our inventory. When you consider hard flooring materials like the ceramic tile and laminated wood throughout your main open floorplan, we have multiple available tools already stocked in our READY trailers and production vehicles to help like:
• Submersible Pumps
• Wet Vacuums
• Squeegee Wands
Extraction is one of the most vital efforts in our mitigation process, as removing standing water can remove much of the pressing threat for the exposed materials and contents in the central area of your shop. Powerful extraction equipment like our submersible pumps can keep water from getting high enough to damage your mounted swiveling chairs and wooden shelving and stations for individual stylists working for your salon.
Is the Floor Damaged Beneath the Surface?
One of the things that you cannot tell with a visual inspection of the damage is how widespread water loss effects have become. The migration of water can be one of the most significant hazards of these disasters, as threats can continue out of sight to facilitate mold and mildew growth, or spread and allow the deterioration of structural supports and subflooring beneath otherwise stable looking surface materials. Identifying moisture pockets and the path of migrating water involves sophisticated tools and intricate drying equipment when these damp points get discovered.
Moisture Detection Tools
We have multiple moisture detection tools that can help our SERVPRO technicians to identify moisture pockets beneath the surface material like tile. Probing meters are the most effective for this approach, though surface meters and thermal imagery also have their place in moisture identification.
Floor Mat System
If moisture pockets get recognized underneath the hard flooring materials in your salon, it is vital to get the water removed as soon as possible. Floor drying mats can be a useful tool for this task, as they provide a steady draw of moisture that can get readily monitored to prevent over-drying the affected areas.
How Long Does Drying Usually Take?
Because no two drying or restoration projects are exactly alike, it is impossible to say with certainty how long drying takes, as many variables could impact these results. We continually modify our drying approaches, equipment, and layout of these machines to maximize drying production.
High-Velocity Air Movers
At the center of all drying efforts by our technicians are the air movers. These tools continually manipulate airflow to increase evaporation. Evaporative drying is the centerpiece of every water recovery project we undertake.
By monitoring the progress of our drying tasks, we can identify what elements need to get manipulated more to increase our output. For example, this monitoring might indicate that centrifugal air movers should get moved to new locations or that there are not enough dehumidifiers to meet the rising moisture content.
Our experienced professionals have a working knowledge of practical drying sciences and how these factors can speed up or slow the drying process. Airflow, humidity, and temperature all must blend harmoniously to meet an efficient moisture removal result.
Does SERVPRO Clean After Drying My Shop?
Cleaning after a loss incident is one of the final ways that we can work to make loss incidents “Like it never even happened.” We can wipe down surfaces and clean flooring with products like thymol oil to improve their sheen and appearance before you reopen your doors to your patrons.
Storm Safety & Awareness
Flood Safety & Awareness
Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States.
Flooding can occur during any season, but some areas of the country are at greater risk at certain times of the year. Coastal areas are at greater risk for flooding during hurricane season (i.e., June to November). Flooding can occur in several ways, including the following.
- Excessive rain or snowmelt cannot be fully absorbed into the ground.
- Waterways are blocked with debris or ice and overflow.
- Water containment systems break, such as water or sewer systems.
- Strong winds from tropical storms or hurricanes cause a storm surge by pushing seawater onto land. The speed and duration of flooding can vary significantly.
To avoid being trapped when floodwaters threaten your area, the best action to protect yourself and your family is to evacuate before flooding starts. Know and follow the directions from local officials for community evacuation or seek high ground for localized flooding. If you do not evacuate before the flooding occurs or you are trapped by flash flooding, do not enter flooded areas or moving water either on foot or in a vehicle, including areas that appear to have only inches of water. Protecting yourself today means having sources for information, preparing your home or workplace, developing an emergency communications plan, and knowing what to do when a flood is approaching your home or business. Taking action today can save lives and property. Know your flood risk. Move costly possessions and important documents – shift valuables and electrical goods off the floor for their own protection, ideally upstairs. SERVPRO recommends the following steps to protect you, your family, and your home.
- Protect furnishing – Small pieces of furniture, rugs, and draperies can be moved upstairs if flooding looks likely.
- Stock up on sandbags – Use sandbags to block doorways, as these will help you fight the flooding and protect your home.
- Protect Irreplaceables – Items of sentimental value, such as photos, should be packed in waterproof containers or bags and put somewhere safe, ideally upstairs. No amount of insurance money can bring these back, so put them out of harm’s way.
- List important contacts – write down important numbers such as your home insurance provider and policy number.
- Keep informed – Watch the weather forecast to keep up-to-date on any threats
SERVPRO is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Whether you need emergency flood damage restoration or top-to-bottom home cleaning, you can trust us to make your house feel like home again. We have the training, experience, and equipment to quickly get your home looking its best.
Does Business Have to Grind to a Halt When Your Building Needs Restoration?
Give the Experts at SERVPRO a Call When You Need Restoration of Your Northern Virginia Business
If anything is more frustrating than the disruption of a water loss on your business property, it surely is when you also have tenants whose operations are affected. Northern Virginia commercial buildings can be full of many shops, cafes, offices, and production sites, so water damage affects dozens to hundreds in our neighborhoods. Add in disappointed customers, and the effect spreads.
Can a Restoration Company Help with Containment, So That “Business as Usual” Can Proceed?
Customers can be fickle, so it is crucial to maintain a presence when your Northern Virginia business needs water damage restoration. You cannot afford to have the customer base you and your tenants built go elsewhere as your damaged building recovers. To ensure that you and your commercial tenants can still honor customer requests, partnering with a restoration company helps immensely. Erecting containment and barriers while building contained workspaces for water damage restoration can carve out safe, welcoming areas that permit your and your tenants’ businesses to continue operation.
Once Was Enough -- Is There a Way to Avoid The Chaos of Water Damage Restoration in the Future?
Think about partnering proactively with SERVPRO by collaborating on an Emergency READY Profile (ERP). We encourage our commercial clients to consider our ERP to prepare for water damage or another disaster much the same way you prepare for other business crises. To access the benefits of an ERP, do the following:
- Schedule an in-person assessment with one of our experienced water damage restoration project managers
- Review any recommendations resulting from the evaluation, and implement them
- Store critical documents off-site or digitally
- Raise equipment above typical flood lines
- Repair leaks and upgrade utility configurations
- Designate employees or others to act on your business’s behalf if you are unavailable during a disaster
- Discuss the final concise, digital ERP plan with our managers, so you anticipate accurately what a water damage restoration job means to your operations and create planned adaptations to keep you going during the restoration
We are Cleaning Experts
SERVPRO is Here to Help during this time of need
During this unprecedented time caused by the global pandemic of coronavirus, this is a reminder to our customers that we are specialists in cleaning services, and we adhere to the highest cleaning and sanitation standards.
We are prepared to clean and disinfect your home or business, according to protocols set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We have years of experience in dealing with biological contaminants, and we will go beyond the scope of work that regular janitorial staff perform on a daily basis.
The CDC encourages cleaning of high-touch surfaces such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, light switches, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and tables. Other spaces mentioned in the CDC’s guidance for commercial spaces include:
Carpets and Rugs
The CDC recommends usage of a labeled hospital-grade disinfectant with claims against similar pathogens to the coronavirus. Multiple products in the SERVPRO® product line carry the EPA-approved emerging pathogens claims. While there is currently no product tested against this particular strain of the coronavirus, we are following all guidelines as provided by the CDC and local authorities.
Call Today for a Proactive Cleaning
If your home or business needs deep cleaning services, call the experts today – SERVPRO of McLean, 703-448-8444
Dos & Don'ts of Commercial Water Damage
Unfortunately, water damage events are never scheduled. They typically occur at the most inconvenient time.
Because it is your business, quick response is critical in AVOIDING:
- Business interruptions
- Revenue loss
- Costly repairs
- Undue stress
That's where SERVPRO® of McLean professionals come in to help you get back to business quickly.
- Remove as much excess water as possible with extraction equipment.
- Wipe excess water from wood furnishings after removing any contents lying on the surface.
- Remove and prop wet upholstery and pillow cushions for even drying.
- Clearly designate wet areas with floor signs and safety tape.
- Pad or block wood furniture to prevent permanent staining or carpet.
- Turn off circuit breakers for wet areas of the building when access to the power distribution panel is safe from electrical shock.
- Attempt to vacuum up water with standard retail vacuum equipment (e.g. ShopVac or upright vacuum).
- Turn on ceiling fans or light fixtures if ceiling is wet.
- Stand beneath sagging ceilings.
- Attempt to use electrical devices exposed to moisture.
- Turn on unexposed electrical devices while standing on wet floors - especially wet concrete.
Top 3 Fire Damage Safety Tips
As weather starts to change, so should your fire safety considerations in your McLean home. Preventing fires is important all year long, and focusing on the appropriate fire safety tips for the season can make your efforts more worthwhile. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind as the temperature gets cooler and the leaves start to fall.
1. Candle Safety- You might be tempted to start bringing out your favorite fall scented candles soon. There’s just something about a beautiful, fragrant candle that feels comforting on a fall day. Candles come with their own safety considerations, however. Keep candles 12 inches away from anything that can burn and blow out candles when you are leaving the room. Never use a candle if there is oxygen being used in your home for medical purposes; electric candles are a safer option.
2. Heating equipment- Make sure your heating equipment is in working order and has been inspected before you start to use it. Since this equipment has been out of use for the last several months, it’s important that you follow the appropriate steps to make sure the unit is clean and functioning properly. If you use space heaters, make sure that they are surrounded by three feet of empty space and that they are turned off when you leave the house or go to bed.
3. Chimney inspection- if you have a usable fireplace, it’s essential to make sure that it is cleaned and inspected before you start using it to prevent built up creosote from previous fires. Cozying up next to a beautiful fire might be a quintessential part of your fall, but make sure that you do so as safely as possible. Also, consider using a screen to prevent sparks from igniting a fire somewhere in your home.
Energy Saving Tips for the Colder Months
The strategies below will help you save energy, save money, and stay comfortable during the cool fall and cold winter months. Some of the tips below are free and can be used on a daily basis to increase your savings; others are simple and inexpensive actions you can take to ensure maximum savings through the McLean winter.
Take Advantage of Heat from the Sun
Open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
Cover Drafty Windows
Use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration. Install tight-fitting, insulating drapes or shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.
Adjust the Temperature
When you are home and awake, set your thermostat as low as is comfortable. When you are asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat back 10° to 15° for eight hours and save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills. If you have a heat pump, maintain a moderate setting or use a programmable thermostat specially designed for use with heat pumps.
Find and Seal Leaks
Seal the air leaks around utility cut-throughs for pipes ("plumbing penetrations"), gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets. Add caulk or weather stripping to seal air leaks around leaky doors and windows.
Maintain Your Heating Systems
Replace your filter once a month or as needed for furnaces and heat pumps. Wood- and Pellet-Burning Heaters need to have the flue vent cleaned regularly and the inside of the appliance cleared out with a wire brush periodically to ensure that your building is heated efficiently.
Lower Your Water Heating Costs
Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). You'll not only save energy, you'll avoid scalding your hands.
5 Sewage Backup Tips
Sewage is one of the most dangerous substances to enter your McLean homes or buildings.
Sewage can contain fungi, bacteria, and viruses; many of which are disease-causing. Unfortunately, many people fail to appreciate the hazards that sewage presents, particularly for the very young, the elderly, for those with compromised immune systems, or those with respiratory problems.
The IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification) has compiled guidelines for professional sewage clean-up called the Standard for Water Damage Restoration (S500). Our SERVPRO® Technicians are certified in multiple specializations through the IICRC.
Here are the key principles homeowners should know about sewage back-ups:
- Sewage contains a variety of pathogenic – disease causing – fungi, bacteria, viruses and parasites. Anyone who works on sewage losses must have updated vaccinations, including one for Hepatitis B.
- Sewage exposure is particularly dangerous for people with weakened immune systems, including anyone under two or over 60, those who are pregnant, ill, recovering from surgery, on prescription drugs or chemotherapy, or are AIDS victims.
- It is not safe to stay in a building that’s flooded with sewage unless the contaminated area can be completely sealed off and placed under controlled air flow so that there will be no cross contamination of unaffected areas.
- Highly absorbent sewage-saturated materials, such as carpet, pad, upholstery, bedding, wicker, paper or even fabrics that can’t be washed in hot water (130°F/54°C) for at least 10 minutes, must be contained and disposed of properly. This goes for sewage-saturated drywall, insulation and several other structural materials too. There’s simply too great a health risk involved if any of these materials are dried in place and cleaned only.
- Only the most highly trained professionals should attempt sewage remediation work. Then, a “third party” Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) can provide post-remediation verification or “clearance testing” to ensure that the home or building is safe to re-occupy.
Prepare Your McLean Household for Spring
The Department of Energy (DOE) says weather stripping the windows on your home is an easy and effective way to help save money on your energy bill. In the spring and summer, weather stripping works by keeping the cool air inside and the warm air out. In the summer, if the cool air is contained inside, then the AC will not have to work as hard, and that may help you save money on your energy bill.
Test and clean ceiling fans. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, an efficient ceiling fan in each room can help allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4 degrees Fahrenheit without reducing your comfort level. Ceiling fans can be a good way to air out the house and generate a cross-breeze.
Replace your AC filter. The National Center for Healthy Housing recommends that you replace the filters in the air conditioner in the spring. A new filter will likely optimize the efficiency of the unit.
Replace torn or damage window screens. If you don’t have an air conditioner, or if you simply like to keep the windows open in the spring and summer, it’s a good idea to make sure your screens are in good shape — you don’t want to let flies in with all that fresh air!
The National Center for Healthy Housing suggests that in the springtime, you may want to consider these outdoor maintenance projects:
Check your roof shingles. This should be done by a professional, as working on the roof can be dangerous without the proper training. You should ask the professional to make sure the shingles are not curling or clawing.
Replace rotten siding or trim. Make sure your home’s siding and trim aren’t damaged from windy, icy conditions.
Clean gutters and downspouts. Get rid of any leaves or other debris that accumulated during the winter to make sure your gutters and downspouts are ready to take on those April showers.
4 Safety Tips for Landlord and Property Managers
Here are four tips from various McLean landlord and property manager resources to get the conversation started:
- Don’t give out your home address. Instead have rent checks sent to a P.O. box, placed in an on-site drop box, or deposited electronically. Although it can be easy to get someone’s home address these days, if an irate tenant who has just received an eviction notice has to spend a couple of hours looking, it might give him or her a chance to cool off.
- Consistently follow a screening process. When selecting tenants review applications for consistency and consider checking criminal records. Require references and call present and previous landlords. Use a reverse look-up service as an applicant may give you a phone number for someone who is pretending to be an ex-landlord. Also, check identification carefully, as some applicants may pretend to be someone they’re not.
- Program emergency numbers on your phone. If you need emergency assistance, the ability to press a single button on your list of “favorites” will save you time and prevent you from making dialing errors, which can happen if you’re in a panic.
- Know who you’re showing rental property to. Before you show your rental home have a formal meeting in a public place or your business office with the potential renter. Have him or her show at least two forms of ID and fill out a contact information form or rental agreement. Criminals tend to look for easy victims, and if you make the process more formal and require them to work a little, they may look elsewhere for trouble.
Methods of Fire Restoration
Team SERVPRO® Uses Appropriate Cleaning Methods When Dealing with Soot and Other Damage After a Fire
After a fire damage incident, the smoke particles that move around the structure can negatively impact ceilings and walls in many ways. To prevent permanent or further damage, you need to take immediate action, and it is not advisable to do the cleaning by yourself. Not all fire events are the same, and that calls for professional help to determine the most suitable restoration procedures for your property.
Specific factors guide our SERVPRO® technicians when selecting the most appropriate technique after a fire damage incident. For instance, if we are cleaning walls and ceilings, we look at the type of smoke residues, the nature of the surface, and whether the area is dry cleanable or wet cleanable. Peroxide active cleaning, wet cleaning, and dry cleaning are the primary cleaning methods that we use.
Our SERVPRO® technicians use dry cleaning when cleaning surfaces that have non-oily smoke residues. In this method, we use a dry clean sponge to do the job, and it is among the initial steps that we perform before extensive cleaning starts. If we need to remove light to heavy smoke residues from wooden, metal, and painted ceilings, then wet cleaning is an option.
Peroxide active cleaning is a suitable method for cleaning greasy particles that are on acoustical ceilings and other forms of nonporous and porous ceilings. We prefer this method when there are chances of dissolving the coating on textured ceilings through aggressive wet cleaning methods. The method also preserves the appearance of blown tiles.
When our SERVPRO® technicians are dry cleaning your property, we usually start by cleaning the ceilings before moving to the walls to avoid introducing dirt to clean areas. To avoid streaking the walls with the cleaning solution during wet cleaning, we start by cleaning the walls and then move to the ceilings. We also clean walls from the bottom to the top when performing wet cleaning.
Spring Storm Safety for McLean
Be Aware of the Weather Conditions
The most important thing you can do is to stay aware of weather conditions in the areas that you will be traveling. Tune into the local radio stations, watch the weather channel, or go to weather-related websites that will cover the area along your route. Awareness is essential part of spring storm safety, not only during tornado season, but during the winter as well, when snow and ice can make the roads a serious danger. Staying informed of any potential for severe weather will help you plan a safe route.
Stay Out (or Get Out) of the Danger Zone
If you can, stay away from any potential dangerous weather by planning your route accordingly. If your route goes through an area that shows a potential for storms, check the map and find a route that helps you avoid the situation entirely. If your destination is in the area of the storm, see if you can leave early to miss the storm or wait it out until the potential for hazardous weather has passed. It may not always be possible, but being proactive and avoiding the hazardous conditions altogether is the best way to stay safe during storms and tornadoes.
Stay Away from Overpasses!
If you do find yourself in a storm, never go for the myth of hiding under an overpass. For years, drivers believed this is one of the best places to wait out a storm, but in fact it’s one of the worst. Overpasses can become wind-tunnels, interacting with a tornado to create even more powerful winds. Stay away from overpasses, whether you’re in your cab or on the ground. Which brings us to another topic: whether or not to leave your truck...
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
This topic is highly-debated among truckers in the industry. Some swear by staying in your cab, while others advocate leaving the truck and seeking low ground like a ditch or valley. It seems the best answer depends on the situation itself. Sometimes, it may be best to stay put and let the cab be your shelter, while other situations call for leaving the truck. However, if there is real shelter nearby, like a building or home, this option is always better than staying in your truck or hiding in a ditch.
Benefits of Staying in the Truck
Inside your cab, the truck will act as your shelter, protecting you from hail, lightning, and debris. Keep your seatbelt on, as this will protect you if the winds become strong enough to overturn your vehicle. You should also crouch below the line of the windshield to protect yourself from flying debris.
Benefits of Getting Out
Getting out and hiding in a ditch puts you below the strongest winds and flying debris. If winds hit your truck hard enough, it could overturn, in which case you will be thankful you’re not inside. If you choose to get out, make sure you are far enough away from the truck in case it is pushed over.
In the end, it really comes down to being informed and aware. The #1, undisputed spring storm safety tip for truckers is to avoid the severe weather altogether. Yes, you need to do your job and be a dependable trucker, but taking risks with your life just to make your delivery is simply not worth it.
No reasonable person will be upset with you because you chose to avoid severe weather. In fact, most people will applaud your regard for safety.
Safe Flood Clean-up Tips
Before entering a building where flood damage may have occurred, make sure it’s safe.
Check for electrical hazards and structural damage, and use proper protective gear like boots, gloves, and respirators. Before you start any construction or repairs, check for common hazardous materials like lead paint and asbestos, which may require help from professional and State-licensed contractors.
Then, follow these tips:
- Act quickly
The severity of damage escalates the longer water dwells and building components and contents stay wet, so time is of the essence in the aftermath of a flood. In fact, mold will grow within 48-72 hours, so aim to start removing water and drying the environment within 48 hours. Have a list of professionals on hand to call, and understand your insurance policy, as some only cover mold damage up to a certain amount, while others don’t provide any reimbursement for mold.
- Ventilate affected areas to prevent mold growth
Mold loves moisture and organic materials such as paper or particleboard. In order to mitigate or slow damage, open windows if weather permits and place fans inside of them to keep air moving and maintain moderate temperatures. Work toward the fan as you clean to minimize cross contamination.
- Assess damage to items and materials
Assess the type of water absorbed by items, such as rainwater, water from broken pipes, contaminated river water or bacteria-filled sewage. There are ways to salvage specialty items but the decision on whether to save or dispose of an item will vary depending on the dollar and sentimental value to the owner. It may not be worthwhile to salvage drywall, carpets and pads, mattresses, pillows, box springs and particleboard. On the other hand, it might be worthwhile to restore costly Persian rugs, leather couches, and antiques or heirlooms. Wet clothing and many household fabrics may be salvageable through machine washing, and a 10-minute soak in detergent and hot water, to remove contamination and stains. The IICRC strongly recommends that in water damages where there are contaminants present (e.g., bacteria, sewage, mold) or where small children or immune-compromised individuals are present that an inspection be conducted by an appropriately trained restorer and remediator.
- Expose pockets of saturation
Hidden and concealed pockets of saturation need to be opened for cleaning and drying. Layers between building materials hold water that must be discovered and removed or dried. On walls, find the water line and inspect at least a foot beyond it to make sure all damage, wet materials and mold are discovered. Remove and discard the damaged drywall and wet wall insulation. Wet carpets can usually be dried by professionals with the right equipment, but carpet padding, which is like a big sponge, should be discarded. Wood base trim and hardwood can also be saved with the right equipment if they can be accessed and completely dried on both sides. Remember to investigate concealed cavities such as behind walls, in mechanical spaces, under cabinets and furniture, and in crawl spaces.
- Conduct a thorough cleaning
Durable, non-porous or semi-porous materials, such as studs and joists, hardwood flooring and vinyl products, can be cleaned with common cleaning products or specialized products with detergents. During cleaning, take care to protect areas that are unaffected by the water or mold. After a thorough cleaning of salvageable materials, a disinfectant solution may need to be applied in case of harmful bacteria from sewage, river water debris or even standing water that has gone bad. Professionals like SERVPRO® professionals and indoor environmental professionals can help you decide what is best for your situation. Once you’ve cleaned the wet materials, conduct another round of cleaning. If you choose to vacuum, use a HEPA-filter vacuum to remove allergens, fine dust and spores.
- Confirm drying before reconstruction
In order to prevent dry rot and structural damage, it’s important not to reconstruct or cover wood and other wet materials until the moisture content has been adequately reduced. SERVPRO® professionals can confirm proper drying before reconstruction.
Customer Experience and Expectation Management
What To Expect When We Arrive
1) On-site personnel is not permitted to give estimates or opinions on pricing and total cost as emergency services often include unforeseen costs.
2) Length of Process:
- The average water damage restoration takes 1-1½ weeks to complete start to finish.
- The average mold mitigation takes 1-1 ½ weeks to complete start to finish.
- The average fire damage remediation takes 2-3 weeks to complete start to finish.
- Please expect multiple visits throughout the project.
3) PLEASE BE SURE TO CONTACT YOUR INSURANCE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, if you haven’t already.
What To Expect During Remediation
1) Regular business hours are between 9AM and 4PM, Monday - Friday. All other times incur “After Hours” fees at a rate of up to 40%.
- Some insurance will not cover “After Hours” fees.
- Any fees not covered by insurance will be the responsibility of the Authorized Customer.
- Request clarification from your insurance company.
2) Appointment reminders are sent to you via text the day before work is to be performed. Customer MUST confirm via text message, failure to respond WILL result in the job being cancelled.
3) Customers who have missed an appointment or cancelled same-day WILL be charged $200.
4) Equipment is required to run 24 hours every day of the project. Drying equipment is loud and heats the area it is placed in. Please DO NOT turn off equipment as this will result in unsuccessful drying and will cause the customer to accrue additional charges.
Situations To Be Prepared For
1) If removal of structural materials is required:
- Reconstruction can be performed by our construction department after mitigation.
- Insurance carriers may require you to use a construction company of their choosing.
2) Contents may be deemed unsalvageable based on:
- If materials are porous (containing pores).
- What type of damage they incurred.
3) Please take time to inventory and bring to the site manager’s attention any family heirlooms, jewelry, antiques, and items of emotional value.
4) Containment may be required on site to assist with drying or to prevent secondary damage to unaffected areas. While containment is in place, please limit your use of these areas for the duration of the project. Containment is set up for your health and safety.
5) Please be aware that since this is an EMERGENCY SITUATION there may be unforeseen circumstances, time-frame extensions, structural conditions.
6) We WILL mitigate and remediate to the best of our ability in a timely fashion, following industry Standards, and providing you with a quality result.
What To Expect At Job Completion
1) Invoices will be sent to the customer’s email that they provided.
2) Invoices will also be sent to the insurance adjuster (if applicable).
3) Payment is required 15 days from date of received invoice.
Commercial Building Management Winter Checklist
Freezing or Bursting Pipes
One of the most common causes of damage to commercial buildings during the colder months is freezing and bursting pipes. As a building owner, there are measures you can take to prevent pipes from freezing; however, sometimes the worst happens anyway. If it does, the result can be thousands of dollars of damage to your building, furniture, electronics, and other business property.
Following are a few tips on protecting the pipes in your building from winter’s worst:
- Locate the turnoff valve and drain the lines, also known as winterizing.
- Protect spigots with Styrofoam attachments. These can be purchased at most home improvements stores and they offer much better insulation than wrapping the spigot with a towel.
- Search for pipes that are not insulated. These pipes may pass through unheated areas, such as crawlspaces, basements or garages. Pre-molded foam rubber sleeves can be fitted to the pipe and offer essential insulation to keep them from freezing. Fiberglass insulation is also an option. You may also consider wrapping the pipe with heating tape.
As winter begins to recede, the risk of damage from freezing pipes fades with it. However, melting snow and ice bring a new concern for building owners—flood damage to property resulting from the runoff of the melt. In many areas of the country, snowmelt is a greater threat for flooding than any other source. The bad news is that flood resulting from melting snow and ice is still considered a flood and, therefore, may not be covered by standard commercial property insurance.
Damage from Ice, Sleet or Snow
Ice, sleet and snow can be incredibly destructive to your property. They can be the source of damage or amplify existing damage—for example, ice getting into a crack in a wall. Unfortunately, damage caused by ice, snow and sleet are not covered by most standard commercial property insurance policies. While some policies will cover damage resulting from the abrupt collapse of a building’s roof under the weight of ice, snow or sleet, others will not.
Protecting your building from harsh winter conditions takes a great deal of preparation.
5 Simple Tips to Avoid Christmas Tree Fires
Most house fires happen during the holidays and Christmas trees are one of the most common reasons. Christmas trees looks so elegant with the strings of lights and an electric tree topper of some kind. When Christmas trees burn, many go up in flames in seconds.
Some Holiday Fire Facts:
- One of every three home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems.
- Christmas tree fires are more likely to be serious, resulting in death once in every 31 occurrences (compared to an average of one death per 144 total reported home fires).
- A heat source too close to the tree causes 25% of all Christmas tree fires.
Here are 5 safety tips to avoid tree fires:
- Water your tree every day or at least every other day.
- Keep your tree away from any heating elements like a portable space heater or a radiator.
- Check your tree lights to make sure they are not frayed or damaged.
- Make sure all electrical items are plugged into a surge protector as an extra precaution.
- Make an escape plan for your family so you are prepared in case of emergencies.
When Lightning Strikes in McLean
Each year thousands of home and other properties are destroyed or damaged by lightning strikes.
The first step to protecting your home is contacting a professional who is qualified to design and install a certified lightning protection system. It will be designed to control or force the discharge onto a specified path, thereby eliminating the chance of fire or explosion within non-conductive parts of the house such as those made of wood, brick, tile, etc. A lightning protection system is not intended to prevent a strike. Its purpose is to provide a safe path on which the current can be safely directed to the ground.
A typical lightning protection system
A complete system is made up of the following components:
- Air terminals: Also referred to as lightning rods, these inconspicuous copper or aluminum rods are vertically mounted on the roof at regular intervals. The air terminals serve as strike receptors, designed to intercept the lightning strike.
- Main conductors: Constructed of aluminum or copper, these braided cables connect the air terminals to the other system components and the grounds.
- Grounds: A minimum of two ground rods, driven at least 10 feet deep in the earth are required for all structures. The ground terminations direct the dangerous current into the ground, to eliminate the chance of injury or damage to the structure.
- Bonds: Bonding joins metallic bodies (roof components) and grounded building systems to the main conductor to ensure conductivity and prevent side flashing (lightning jumping between two objects).
- Surge arresters and suppressors: A surge is an increase in electrical current due to a lightning strike on or near a power line or utility service. Surge suppression is installed at the electrical panel(s) to prevent the entrance of over-voltages which can cause a fire. Arresters installed at electrical panels help protect heavy appliances and prevent fires at service panel entrances. Additional devices may be needed to protect other in-house electronics. Surge protection devices are typically installed in conjunction with a lightning protection system.
- Tree protection: The Lightning Protection Institute recommends that any tree taller than a home or within 10 feet of the structure be equipped with a lightning protection system. Trees do not offer protection and many homeowners choose to have trees protected for their own value. An unprotected tree in close proximity to a structure can also create a side-flash hazard to the nearby home.
5 Money Saving Tips for Your Water Bill
What is wastewater averaging?
Wastewater averaging is the practice of estimating the amount of wastewater discharged from your home into the city’s sanitary sewer system. It is essentially a cap on the volume of wastewater you will be billed for each month for the next year. This practice goes by a variety of names including average winter consumption, wastewater winter averaging, winter averaging, winter quarterly average, or winter period average.
Check with your local utility company to see how they handle your wastewater charges. Some utilities don’t want to mess with all these calculations, so they charge a flat, monthly wastewater fee.
Your water utility uses a wastewater average because they can’t measure the actual amount of wastewater discharged from your home. The best way to measure the wastewater discharge is to use your water meter to measure your monthly water use and then estimate the amount of wastewater that could be returning to the city sewers.
Shouldn’t water flow IN be equal to water flow OUT?
Well, in the winter time, it generally does, but during the rest of the year, it doesn’t since you could be using water outdoors. The water you sprinkle on your lawn doesn’t go to the city sewers. Therefore, the wastewater averaging period typically happens during the winter months when there should be little to no outdoor water use.
Typically, a multiple month average during the late fall and winter months is used rather than picking one month during the year. This averaging is more fair just in case you have a higher water use during a single month. If you use more water than your wastewater average, then it is assumed that this additional water has been used outdoors and will not be returned back to the city’s sewers for processing and treatment. Therefore, you are not charged for this water usage on your wastewater bill. Conversely, if you use less water during a month than your wastewater average, then your wastewater charge should equal only the actual amount of water used that month.
Why is this so important?
Generally, the cost of wastewater is higher than the cost of potable water. Due to the nature of wastewater, you can imagine it would be more expensive to treat before being released back into environment. In order to achieve these savings throughout the year though, you have to reduce your water use during your wastewater averaging period.
Conserving water in the winter = Saving money all year long
Using less water during the wastewater averaging period will result in a corresponding lower wastewater bill throughout the entire year. Here are ways to reduce your winter time water use and consequently your monthly wastewater bill:
- Fix all leaky fixtures – This one is a mundane tip but leaks are a major culprit of unintentional water use in our homes.
- Shower at your gym – Not only will this conserve water at your home but it could also get your New Year’s resolution to lose weight started early.
- Don’t wash your car at home – This one is easy.
- Turn off your irrigation system – Your landscaping probably won’t need water during the winter months since the plants will be dormant.
- Insulate hot water pipes – Since the cold weather is coming, this is a perfect time to insulate any exposed hot water pipes for more immediate hot water at the faucet. You’ll save some energy as well.
McLean Businesses and Fire Safety
When a fire breaks out at your business, you won’t have time to sit down and research what to do. You’ll be busy trying to get everyone out and grabbing important documents amidst all the chaos.
That, along with many other reasons, is why your business in Plant City, Lakeland, Winter Haven, and nearby central Florida areas needs to have a fire safety plan in place before a fire starts.
Why a Fire Safety Plan Should be a Top Priority
Running a business takes time and money, so it’s tempting to put administrative items on the back burner until you have time to get to them. However, you need to address a fire safety plan sooner rather than later.
Without a plan in place, you could be setting yourself up for even more of a disaster, including employee lawsuits and other liability issues. You also need to be cognizant of what could cause a fire in your business. A restaurant obviously has fire dangers in the kitchen, whereas a tech company could have equipment that overheats, and a retail store could have other issues arise.
Employee Safety is Key During a Fire
It’s vital to ensure that your employees will be safe in case of a fire. During storm season, it’s possible that a fire could break out due to a lightning strike. Fires start with no warning and most people will react with a flight response, running out of the room.
Without a plan in place, they may run to the wrong area of the building and there is no way to keep track of which employees went where or if they got out safely. In other words, during a disaster is not the time for employees to learn proper procedure. Instead, create a plan and make sure each employee has knowledge of what to do in case of a fire.
HOST QUARTERLY FIRE DRILLS AND MAKE SURE FIRE SAFETY TRAINING IS PART OF NEW EMPLOYEE ONBOARDING.
What Your Fire Safety Plans Should Include
Any business, small or large, should have a fire safety plan in place. There are many elements that go into ensuring a successful fire safety plan, which include:
- Building plans and layout that depicts planned evacuation routes, emergency phones, fire alarms, and fire exits for each floor
- Outline where each evacuation route should meet outside the building
- Explicit step-by-step instructions on what employees should do in the event of a fire
- How to train managers on proper steps during a fire or fire safety drill
- How often and when fire safety drills should be conducted
- Address evacuation of anyone who may require special assistance to get out
- A map for firefighters that outlines access points
- Create an accountability system for managers to keep track of all their direct reports so that it is easy to quickly identify who is safely out of the building
- Include an up-to-date list of staff, as well as any vendors or visitors who may be on site
What to Do After Fire Strikes Your Business
After you begin to pick up the pieces when a fire strikes your business, it’s important to quickly address the fire damage that has happened. Restoring fire damage is vital to ensuring the building structure and items inside can be salvaged. Contacting a company such as True Builders to assist with the fire damage restoration process should be one of your first steps.
Fire Place and Chimney Safety
Gather round the hearth. Even if you use your fireplace only occasionally, you should check it annually for damage and hazards.
Inspect your flue for creosote. Creosote is a flammable by-product of burning wood. If it accumulates in a flue or chimney, the result can be a devastating fire. Have your chimney inspected annually for creosote buildup. If you use a fireplace or wood stove frequently, have the flue inspected after each cord of wood burned.
For most people, the best option is to have your entire chimney system inspected by a chimney sweep. Once you know what to look for, you can perform the inspection by shining a bright flashlight up the flue, looking for any deposits approaching 1/8 inch thick. These deposits should be cleaned by an experienced chimney sweep.
Look for flue blockages. Birds love to nest at the top of an unprotected flue. A chimney cap can prevent this from happening. If you don't have a cap, look up the flu to ensure that there are no obstructions.
Exercise the damper. The damper is the metal plate that opens and closes the flue just above the firebox. Move it to the open and closed positions to ensure that it is working properly.
Check your chimney for damage. Make certain that the flue cap (the screen or baffle covering the top of the chimney) is in place. Inspect brick chimneys for loose or broken joints. If access is a problem, use binoculars.
Keep the humidifier humming.
You may know that bone dry winter air is bad for your health, but did you also know it can make fine wood more prone to cracking? You and your home will feel more comfortable if you keep your central humidifier in tip-top shape during the months it is running.
Here's how: First, inspect the plates or pads, and if necessary, clean them in a strong laundry detergent solution. Rinse and scrape off mineral deposits with a wire brush or steel wool.
Head-off gas problems.
Keeping a gas heater in good shape is both a safety and a cost issue. An improperly maintained heater may simply be costing you more to operate. Have a professional check these devices annually. There are also some maintenance items you should address.
Here's how: First, shut off the heater. Then check the air-shutter openings and exhaust vents for dirt and dust. If they are dirty, vacuum the air passages to the burner and clean the burner of lint and dirt. Follow the manufacturer's advice for any other needed maintenance.
Be Prepared if You're in a Flood Zone
When a Flood is Imminent
- Be prepared! Pack a bag with important items in case you need to evacuate. Don't forget to include needed medications.
- If advised to evacuate your home, do so immediately.
- If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground.
- If possible, bring in outdoor furniture and move essential items to an upper floor.
- Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances.
During a Flood
- Do not walk through moving water. As little as 6 inches (15 centimeters) of moving water can make you fall.
- If you have to walk in water, wherever possible, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
- Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely.
- Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
After a Flood
- Listen for news reports to learn whether the community's water supply is safe to drink.
- Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or raw sewage. Water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
- Avoid moving water.
- Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
- Stay away from downed power lines, and report them to the power company.
- Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
- Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters.
- Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are serious health hazards.
- Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and chemicals.
Hot Tips for Extreme Cold
Extreme cold weather can be hard on both you and your home. Here are some tips to put into practice when freezing weather, snow, and ice hit your area.
How to Deal with Frozen Pipes
- Disconnect and drain garden hoses before the freezing temperatures hit.
- Cover outside faucets with insulating foam covers.
- Turn off water to outside faucets, if available, and open valves on faucets to allow them to drain.
- Turn off sprinkler system and blow compressed air through the lines to drain them.
- Close or cover foundation vents under house and windows to basements.
- Close garage doors.
- Insulate exposed pipes (both hot and cold) under house with foam pipe insulation.
- Open cabinet doors under sinks.
- Drip hot and cold faucets in kitchen and bath. Drip single control faucets with lever set in middle.
- Set ice maker to make ice if the water line to it runs under the house.
- Don’t forget to check on pipes to your washing machine in the laundry room.
- Locate water main cut-off valve, and have a cut-off key handy.
- Use a hair dryer, heat lamp, electric heat tape, or a portable space heater to thaw frozen pipes that have not burst.
- Keep the faucet open when thawing frozen pipes to allow water to begin flowing through it.
- After the weather has warmed above freezing and any frozen pipes have thawed, turn off dripping faucets and monitor your water meter to check for unseen leaks.
How to Keep Warm in Your Home
- Have your furnace inspected before cold weather arrives. Inspect the heat exchanger for cracks, install a clean air filter, and check the thermostat to see if it’s working properly.
- Inspect fireplaces and chimneys before using, and have them cleaned if needed.
- Keep drapes and blinds closed, except when windows are in direct sunlight.
- Put up storm windows, or install sheet plastic window insulation kits on the inside of windows.
- Cover or remove any window air conditioners.
- Insulate electrical outlets and switches on exterior walls with foam seals available at home centers.
- Caulk any cracks or holes on the outside of your house.
- Repair or replace weather stripping and thresholds around doors and windows.
- Run paddle ceiling fans on low in reverse (clockwise when looking up) to circulate warm air.
- Put draft snakes on window sills, between window frames, and against doors.
- If you heat with propane or fuel oil, make sure the tank is full.
- If you heat with wood or coal, have plenty of fuel on hand.
How to Protect the Outside of Your Home
- Spray an ice repellent solution on steps and walks before freezing weather arrives.
- Check antifreeze levels in cars. Add if needed, then run the engine to circulate the new antifreeze through the radiator and engine block.
- Add freeze resistant windshield wiper fluid, and spray to circulate it in lines.
- Check air pressure in tires, since cold weather causes the pressure to lower.
- Bring in container plants, add mulch around plants, and cover plants that are prone to frost damage. Remove covering when temperatures warm above freezing.
- Drain birdbaths and fountains.
- Gently sweep snow off plants and shrubs in an upward motion with a broom.
- Use rock salt, sand, or clay based kitty litter on walks and drives (NOTE: Salt can damage grass and other plants).
- Don’t overdo it when using a snow shovel. Physical activity is harder on your body during freezing temperatures.
- Clean your gutters and downspouts before cold weather arrives to prevent ice from forming in them.
- Stay off your roof during freezing weather, but once the ice and snow have melted, inspect your roof for any damage.
Water Back Up: Prevention and Protection
There are a number of preventative measures you can take to avoid water back up damage and minimize the amount of damage should it occur. But a significant amount of water back up incidents may not be preventable. For example, Colorado Springs Utilities estimates that water back up damages amount to $1,000,000 annually and that 80% of these losses are unpreventable. Worse, 80% of homeowners do not have insurance protection against water back up.
Water back up most often occurs in the basement and can damage heating systems, water tanks. Basements that are used as laundry areas, for seasonal storage or are finished and used as additional living space put even more property at risk from this cause of loss.
Most homeowner policies do not provide coverage for water back up loss, but the protection can be added usually for as little as $25 to $50 a year.
Sump pumps and back flow valves installed in the sanitary sewer and drain lines are good measures against water backing up from those sources. Maintaining the sewer and drain lines is also an important loss mitigation measure. Homeowners are generally responsible for the sewer and drain lines running from the house to the street, so it is a good idea to have these checked periodically for blockage due to tree root intrusion or an accumulation of dirt, hair, grease or paper products.
Seepage through a building foundation is another common entry point for water back up. This can be avoided by making sure your basement is sealed and rainwater drains away from your home or office. Extremely heavy rains will saturate the ground and result in basement seepage even in homes that have had no problems in the past.
According to the Insurance Information Institute the results of water back up can range from minor financial set back to a potentially devastating consequence. A sewer backup can lead to disease, destruction of your valuables, damage to your house or business, and can even result in electrical malfunctions. Prompt cleanup of the affected property can help minimize the inconvenience and prevent mold and further damage. In the event of sewer backup, immediately arrange for the cleanup of your property. This should include:
- Wet-vacuuming or removing spillage
- Mopping floors and wiping walls with soap and disinfectant
- Flushing out and disinfecting plumbing fixtures
- Steam cleaning or removing wet carpets or drapes
- Repairing or removing damaged wallboard or wall covering
- Cleanup of ductwork
Fire Damage Follow Up
The first few days following a fire are often the most emotional for families and individuals but they are the most important! As soon as the fire is extinguished, the time immediately begins to work against you. It’s absolutely critical that you take the first steps to save your home and valuables.
What you shouldn’t do when your home is damaged by a fire is clear: do not waste time, and do not attempt the clean-up and restoration on your own.
Experienced Professionals Should Begin Fire Restoration Work Within Two Days.
Cleaning up from fire damage and beginning restoration isn’t as simple as opening the windows and scrubbing the walls. There could be unseen damage that poses a safety risk to anyone entering the home. The air could be unhealthy for breathing, and mold may begin to grow.
It’s very important to call in a professional restoration team within two days of the incident. That’s why our team is on call 24/7 to receive new requests to respond immediately.
THE MORE TIME THAT ELAPSES AFTER A FIRE, THE MORE LIKELY IT IS THAT FURTHER DAMAGE CAN BE DONE TO THE STRUCTURE OF THE HOME.
The soot and smoke that lingers after the fire can continue to degrade the structural integrity and more corrosion is possible. For proper, full restoration and repair, it’s important to start the process within the two-day window. If it’s been more than two days, we can still fight to save your property and belongings.
Professionals Bring Advanced Equipment & Experience For Fire Cleanup & Repair
Some homeowners may think a simple Google search and some sponges will do the trick. What they don’t know is that behind the walls, in the attic, and even in the foundation of the home there could be damage that may lead to a collapse.
It’s important to call in professionals to do the job right. Fire cleanup, restoration, and repair require advanced equipment and experience to avoid injury and further damage.
To clean the air, we use special dehumidifiers, air movers, and HEPA vacuums designed to trap dangerous particles found in the air of fire-damaged homes. We also utilize specialized cleaning products designed to cleanse fire-damaged building materials. The restoration and repair process often requires a visit from one of our structural engineers or licensed contractors with extensive knowledge of how to identify structural integrity and safety issues. A DIY approach to fire restoration can be very dangerous and lead to costly repairs and even structural failure down the road.
Our team is fully capable of handling every step of the process to ensure your safety and to preserve what remains of your personal property and the structure of your home or business.
Water Damage Remediation Explained
Here’s What To Expect During a Water Damage Remediation & Restoration Project
If you’ve had a burst pipe or flooding in your home or business location, a water damage remediation & restoration project may be necessary. Here’s what to expect from the process.
From the moment you discover water damage, speed is key to resolving the issue without lasting damage to your property. Your first step should be to prevent further leakage by shutting down your main water supply. Next, call your trusted water damage restoration experts. The sooner you hand over the situation to the pros, the sooner the cleanup process can begin.
Who to Call After Water Damage Is Found In Your Home or Business
SERVPRO® will work directly with all homeowner’s insurance companies to resolve your issues. We ask that you call us first because oftentimes we can help resolve issues faster that could potentially prolong the process by calling your insurance company first.
Water Damage Inspection
Our water damage restoration expert will inspect the property to determine the work required. Not all water damage restoration projects were created equal. The work required will depend on factors such as how long the water has been leaking, how much water has escaped, and the extent and severity of the damage. Specialized moisture detection instruments are used to assess the damage and determine the next steps. Your water damage mitigation expert will outline the process in detail and keep you in the loop at every stage.
The Water Damage Remediation Work Begins
Getting the process completed quickly could require a team moving in immediately, so you may need to make accommodation arrangements. While the work takes place, SERVPRO®; your water damage restoration experts will stay in touch with you every step of the way until the work is complete.
Water Damage Extraction, Evaporation & Dehumidification
Getting rid of any stagnant water is a crucial stage in a water damage restoration project. This job is performed using high-powered vacuums, dehumidifiers and evaporation techniques. Your damage restoration company will make sure that while the property is drying out, the water is contained in the affected area and does not cause damage to the rest of your house.
The Water Damage Drying
Once all stagnant water has been removed, the area will be dried out using a variety of methods and equipment designed to circulate air through your home. Among the equipment used are dehumidifiers, heaters, high-velocity air movers and air filters. Not surprisingly, the drying process can be quite noisy, and can also make the environment uncomfortably hot. If power is lost at any point, don’t hesitate to call your damage restoration company and notify them immediately.
During the drying phase of the project, your restoration crew will periodically assess how the drying process is progressing and adjust the equipment if necessary.
Keeping You In The Loop
The water remediation & restoration drying process could take three to five days to complete. However, it drastically depends on the depth and severity of the water damage. Some drying times can last longer. During this time, you will hear from our team who are handling different aspects of the project. You can expect to be kept well informed at every step via communication channels that suit you, whether it’s via email, in-person visits or phone calls.
After The Water Damage Drying Process
When all the water has been removed and the affected area is dry, the water damage remediation project can then move into fixing any areas of your home or business that were destroyed due to the water damage. This is the process we call water damage restoration.
Water Damage Restoration
Any damage that was caused due to water and now needs to be fixed is called Water Damage Restoration. This is where our team will get your home or business looking back to normal. This includes but isn’t limited to fixing:
- Drywall Ceilings
- Kitchen Islands
- Bathroom Vanities
- Bathroom Showers & Bathtubs
- Interior and Exterior Doors & Doorframes
- Personal Content
- Broken Plumbing
- Destroyed Electrical
Our mitigation expert will talk you through the work step-by-step and walk you through the whole process. Our quality control experts will verify & check that you are completely satisfied with your water damage restoration result.
Once you and our team have finalized all the details and your home or business looks better than it did before, our equipment will be removed, and your life can go on as normal.
9 Tips on How to Prepare Your Commercial Building for a Snow Storm
Is your commercial building and HVAC system ready for a snow storm?
Prevent Costly Facility Issues with these Facility Maintenance Winter Tips
Snow, ice, and freezing rain can wreak havoc on a commercial building, especially if you are not prepared. Here is a checklist of tasks to help any building owner or property manager prepare for a snow storm.
Checklist to Prepare Your Office Building for a Snow Storm:
- Have a Plan: As a property manager, it is important to have a written emergency and disaster plan in place, including preventive measures and procedures. Also, list critical shut-off locations for water, electrical mains, emergency generators, and fire protection systems.
- Preventative Maintenance: Have your water heater and HVAC system inspected and serviced regularly. These systems work especially hard during the winter.
- Identify and Address Potential Issues: Before the storm hits, it is important to identify and address potential issues, such as pavement deficiencies that may become covered by snow, or roof drainage issues that can cause water to drain onto walkways.
- Snow Removal: The flat roofs on most commercial buildings are prone to freezing, thawing, and refreezing, which can plug roof drains and add excess weight, which could cause the roof to collapse. This is why it is so important to remove snow as necessary, ensuring areas around vents and exhaust pipes are clear.
- Pipes: Wrap vulnerable pipes with insulation sleeves to keep them from freezing. If a pipe does freeze and burst, turn off the main water supply to the pipe immediately and leave the faucet open until repairs can be made.
- Clear Walkways: Keep walkways clear of snow and ice. Use salt, chemical pellets, and sand as appropriate. It is also a good idea to display caution signs where appropriate.
- Emergency Generators: Check the fuel oil supply for Emergency Generators in case there is a power outage.
- HVAC System: Be sure your cooling tower heaters and piping heat traces are functioning to protect them from freezing. Also, heat pumps and condensing units can fail when snow builds up around them and restricts airflow, so be sure to keep them clear of snow & ice buildup. Make sure your economizer is not calling for outside air. Check that outside dampers function properly as in some instances they may need to be closed manually.
- Temperatures: Check your set-back temperatures after hours and determine if hard-to-heat areas need to be adjusted to higher temperatures to protect critical building equipment and systems.
Fire Safety Tips for the Winter
Winter is one of the most dangerous seasons due to the need to heat your home, cook large meals, and decorate for the holidays.
Half of all winter house fires occur between December and February; over 905 people die in winter home fires each year, according to the National Fire Incident Reporting System. Two-thirds of those fires occur in single and multifamily homes. During the winter months cooking triggers most house fires, while heating equipment is the culprit of one in seven house fires and one in five winter house fire deaths. More than one-third of home decoration fires are started by candles, so be sure to keep all candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.
Keep this checklist from the U.S. Fire Administration handy around your home to keep you and your family safe.
What you should know about home cooking safety:
- Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or stovetop.
- Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling food.
- If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the kitchen while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
- Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.
If you have a cooking fire:
- Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
- Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.
- If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.
- Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid
over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
- For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
For More Information: https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/By-topic/Top-causes-of-fire/Cooking
Safety Considerations for Heating Your Home:
- Only plug one heat-producing electrical appliance in at a time in an electrical socket (such as a space heater).
- Make sure your space heater can automatically turn off in case it tips over.
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators or space heaters.
- Close wood stove doors unless stoking the fire or adding wood or pellets.
- Get a qualified professional to inspect your chimney and vents every year.
- Install a metal or heat tempered screen around your fireplace.
- Store cooled ashes at least 10 feet from your home in a tightly sealed metal container.
- Make sure to have a carbon monoxide alarm installed and test it at least once per month.
- Store portable generators away from windows and as far away as possible from your house.
- Shovel snow at least three feet away from fire hydrants to be sure firefighters can get to them quickly if the need arises.
How to Prevent Mold Growth in the Winter
Mold spores are all around us, but the growth of mold can be prevented.
Mold needs moisture, warmth, and food in order to grow in your home. When you deprive mold of moisture, warmth, and food, you will stop it from growing, but you won’t kill the mold that is already there. The mold spores will stay dormant and start growing again if they get moisture, warmth, and food. So, it’s important to prevent mold from growing in the first place.
If you live in a climate where you need to heat your home frequently, mold can start growing in the winter on your home’s inside walls, especially on the surfaces closest to the outside of your home. Moisture that travels through the air from your basement, bathrooms, or kitchen may condense when it comes in contact with a cold wall. One thing you can do to prevent mold growth is make sure your walls are well-insulated. Well-insulated walls can prevent condensation and mold, as well as cut down on your heating and cooling bills.
Here are some other steps you can take to prevent mold growth during the winter:
- During the cold season, make sure that your indoor humidity level is below forty percent. If you use a humidifier, as many of us do in the winter, make sure it does not produce an excessive amount of humidity.
- Remove possible sources of mold growth by regularly vacuuming and cleaning. Pay close attention to bathrooms and other areas of your home that are likely to generate a lot of moisture.
- Use area rugs or washable floor surfaces rather than wall-to-wall carpeting in areas or rooms that have a moisture issue. It’s not usually a great idea to have carpeting in your entryway, for instance, if you live in a cooler, wet climate.
- Paper, books, and clothing are sources of food for mold, so don’t store them in humid parts of your home, such as your basement, especially close to the floor or walls.
- Leaks in your roof or windows need to be repaired as soon as possible.
- Make sure that your gutters and downspouts are clean and that the area under your downspouts is graded so that water from the roof flows away from your foundation. If necessary, extend your downspouts.
- In the bathroom and kitchen, use exhaust fans or open windows when producing moisture, such as taking a hot shower. Exhaust fans should be vented to the outdoors and not to an attic or crawl space.
- Make sure your clothes dryer is vented to the outdoors.
- Consider getting a dehumidifier for your basement. The cool basement floor and walls can be a source of moisture build-up, and a dehumidifier will control the humidity level and make it harder for mold to start growing.
- Make sure your attic is well insulated and ventilated.
- If you have a crawl space under your house, cover the soil in the crawl space with waterproof polyethylene plastic, also called a vapor barrier. If your crawl space has vents, close the vents in the summer and keep them open in the winter.
- If you have water problems in your basement or crawl space, clean up affected areas as quickly as possible and call an expert.
Why Pipe Freezing is a Problem
Water has a unique property in that it expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. No matter the strength of a container, expanding water can cause pipes to break.
Pipes that freeze most frequently are:
- Pipes that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, and water sprinkler lines.
- Water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets.
- Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation.
How to Protect Pipes From Freezing
Before the onset of cold weather, protect your pipes from freezing by following these recommendations:
- Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer's or installer's directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful, and is dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.
- Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
- Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in these areas.
- Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
- Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a "pipe sleeve" or installing UL-listed "heat tape," "heat cable," or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes – even ¼” of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing.
- Consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing.
How to Prevent Frozen Pipes
- Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
- When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing.
- Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
- If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
How to Thaw Frozen Pipes
- If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
- Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
- Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
- Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you cannot thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
- Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.
Indoor Flooding Focus
Flooding can be associated with water intrusion from and ocean, reservoir, river or canal. However, in Northern Virginia flooding is frequently caused by intense rainstorms or melting snow with which drainage systems cannot cope. The risk of the premises being affected by floodwater needs to be assessed and appropriate precautions taken. Some buildings constructed using modern methods of construction can be particularly susceptible to damage from flooding. In some cases additional flood protection measures over and above country specific Building Regulations’ requirements may be necessary to adequately protect the premises against permanent floodwater damage.
The following general points should be considered in relation to flooding:
- Check whether there has been a history of flooding in the area.
- Check the current local flood risk with the responsible Government agency.
- Have recent developments in the area made flooding more likely?
- Local Government agencies and local water companies/authorities should be able to advise on specific areas which are liable to flood, and on recent modifications to drainage routes.
- Have the authorities installed new flood prevention measure?
- Where applicable, check you understand how the local flood warning system operates and have an emergency plan prepared for such an event.
- If flooding is known to be a possibility, preventive measures to stop floodwater include: – installation of intervening walls or banks, provision of flood boards and sills to doorways or gateways in walls, – blocking up unnecessary openings in the building, – provision of sandbags for emergency use.
- Check for any signs of site drains overflowing. If this has occurred, was it due to a blockage or were the drains inadequately sized? – Next time the flood could be more serious.
- Check that basement areas are provided with adequate drainage. Where necessary, sump pumps should be provided.
Cleanup at Local Business
A business in Alexandria, VA experienced structural damage as a result of a serious workplace accident. SERVPRO has the expertise and equipment to provide remediation for damage resulting from an accident such as this one. In this particular situation, an employee of the business was attempting to retrieve fluorescent light bulbs from there storage location on top of a drop ceiling. The employee lost his footing and caused a panel from the ceiling to fall out and approximately 15 fluorescent light bulbs to fall through and shatter. Luckily there was no one underneath the area and the employee was able to catch himself before falling on top of the resulting broken bulbs.
SERVPRO was able to HEPA vacuum to ensure no tiny shards of glass created any safety concerns. We also created a temporary cover for the ceiling. The business owner and office manager were very grateful to be able to use the space again within a matter of hours!
Tornado Watch Vs Warning
During recent years, the spate of historic severe weather systems, flooding and tornadoes affecting much of the Nation has impacted rural America significantly. A storm is any disturbed state of an environment or astronomical body's atmosphere especially affecting its surface, and strongly implying severe weather.
Tornado Watch - Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans, and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives!
Tornado Warning - A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Go immediately under ground to a basement, storm cellar or an interior room (closet, hallway or bathroom).
If you live in a floodplain, elevate and reinforce your home to make damage less likely during a flood.
Check with a professional to:Raise your furnace, water heater, and electric panel to floors that are less likely to be flooded. An undamaged water heater may be your best source of fresh water after a flood.Install check valves in plumbing to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home. (As a last resort, when floods threaten, use large corks or stoppers to plug showers, tubs, or basins.)Construct barriers such as levees, berms, and flood walls to stop floodwater from entering the building (if permitted by local building codes).Seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage through cracks.
Use sand bags when flooding is expected:It takes two people about one hour to fill and place 100 sandbags, creating a wall one foot high and 20 feet long.Make sure you have enough sand, burlap or plastic bags, shovels, strong helpers, and time to place them properly.If a flood is expected, some communities will offer free sandbags to residents. Be sure to watch or listen to the news so you can access these resources.
Remember: Standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding but flood insurance does. Get information at www.FloodSmart.gov.
9 Reasons NOT to Use Bleach on Mold
1. Bleach encourages toxic mold growth on porous surfaces because it provides excess moisture. Bleach contains about 90% water. When you apply bleach to a surface, the chlorine quickly evaporates leaving behind a lot of water. Then, when the water soaks into porous surfaces like wood, it encourages mold growth. So, bleach can actually make your mold problem worse.
2. Bleach only removes the color from mold. After you spray bleach, only the surface appears clean. But the problem is, the mold’s roots, or hyphae, continue to grow.
3. The EPA and OSHA specifically advise against using bleach for mold remediation.
4. Chlorine bleach is extremely harmful to surfaces. For example, when you use bleach on wood, it starts to weaken it by breaking the fibers. When you spray bleach on metal, it starts to corrode it almost immediately. Thus, using bleach to kill mold creates problems with the structural integrity of a home.
5. Bleach is extremely corrosive. When you spray bleach and it evaporates, it releases chlorine gas. It irritates and eventually causes damage to the skin, lungs, and eyes.
6. The corrosive nature of bleach is even worse when it’s mixed. Bleach should never be mixed with acids, because it causes dangerous fumes. Remember: Mixing cleaning compounds containing ammonia with bleach and ammonia produces deadly gasses that can kill with just a few breaths.
7. Bleach doesn’t work as a sanitizing agent when it’s mixed with organic material. To be a successful sanitizer, bleach has to be used on clean materials and surfaces. That’s why bleach products get used in the laundry after the wash cycle. Light and heat compromise the sanitizing properties of bleach. Despite the fact that the chlorine odor lingers for a while after you use it, bleach loses strength so quickly it doesn’t have a residual effect. That is, it doesn’t prevent future bacterial or fungal growth.
8. Most bleach products are not registered with the EPA to be used as antimicrobial agents.
9. And last, but not least, you don’t want to use bleach to kill mold because there are many antimicrobial alternatives readily available. These antimicrobial agents are registered with the EPA specifically for killing mold. Some are formulated to be friendly to the environment, your family and your pets. In addition, they are cost effective, easy to use, and, they have a true residual effect. That means they actually prevent bacteria and mold from re-growing.
Plumbing Tips for Commercial Properties
Simple Maintenance May be the Responsibility of Tenants
Commercial property owners who rent space to tenants should be aware that in some cases, the tenant is responsible for well-functioning plumbing. What should tenants do?Drip faucets when temperatures dip down to freezing levels to prevent frozen pipes.Avoid putting harsh chemicals or solids down drains.Immediately report a toilet that won’t flush, or make a repair.Immediately alert property manager regarding substantial drops in water pressure or leaks.It is important to check the pressure gauge once the boiler is operating to ensure it is functioning per the pressure levels recommended by the manufacturer. When the pressure is lower than recommended, you can top it up – but do so with caution, as the pressure release valve can easily sustain damage. When this happens, you will need to call a professional for repair.Sufficient space around your boilers is essential as well, so make certain that the area where the boiler is housed is clutter-free. Your boiler needs to breathe, so remove coats, shoes, bags, and other items. If housed in a box, be sure ventilation requirements are met according to manufacturer instructions and that there is an access panel to make your boiler easily accessible for maintenance.
Never Put Up with Leaking Faucets or Pipes
Not only do leaking faucets or pipes waste water (in fact, approximately 900 million gallons in the U.S. each year), leaks also contribute to the growth of mold, wood rot, and other structural issues.
While not all leaks are noticeable, if the water pressure drops you should have a plumbing contractor investigate the situation at once, as it could indicate a leak in the plumbing network. It is not always possible to prevent a leak, however investing in a thorough plumbing inspection once or twice each year is the best way to manage your system and avoid leaks.
Fire Prevention in the Outdoors
Unlike many natural disasters, most wildfires are caused by people—and can be prevented by people, too. People in fire-prone areas should plan ahead and prepare to evacuate with little notice. Here are some tips on how to prevent wildfires and what to do if you're caught in the middle of one.
How to Prevent a Wildfire
- Contact 911, your local fire department, or the park service if you notice an unattended or out-of-control fire.
- Never leave a campfire unattended. Completely extinguish the fire—by dousing it with water and stirring the ashes until cold—before sleeping or leaving the campsite.
- When camping, take care when using and fueling lanterns, stoves, and heaters. Make sure lighting and heating devices are cool before refueling.
- Avoid spilling flammable liquids and store fuel away from appliances.
- Do not discard cigarettes, matches, and smoking materials from moving vehicles, or anywhere on park grounds. Be certain to completely extinguish cigarettes before disposing of them.
- Follow local ordinances when burning yard waste. Avoid backyard burning in windy conditions, and keep a shovel, water, and fire retardant nearby to keep fires in check. Remove all flammables from yard when burning.
- If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
- Know your evacuation route ahead of time and prepare an evacuation checklist and emergency supplies.
- Wear protective clothing and footwear to protect yourself from flying sparks and ashes.
Preventing Mold in the Winter
The wet season in the winter months is one of the best times of year for molds to grow and expand. Often mold is contained near sources of water where it can easily grow and reproduce. As it grows, mold can breakdown and compromise the integrity and strength of the source in which it lives.
Mold spores are microscopic and are naturally found in the air we breathe indoors and outdoors. When large amounts of spores grow, one’s health may be compromised. Mold can be killed, but if it is not removed properly, it can remain in the area just cleaned and the dry spores can be released into the air. Mold remediation services can help eliminate the mold in your home and personal items affected by water damage.
Prevention, however, is what will help keep your lungs healthy and homes and buildings strong. We’ve put together a few tips on how you can help thwart mold from infesting your home that are efficient and realistic:
General Home and Building Maintenance:
- Keep all areas clean.
- Make sure there is good air circulation. Use an exhaust fan or open a window when showering, cooking, and washing the dishes.
- Prevent mold and water damage by turning off the water flow to broken appliances and pipes.
- Replace cracked or defective mortar in basements. If you find your basement is wet or has water leaking into it, inspect the outside drainage systems.
- Spread moisture-barrier materials in crawl spaces over the soil. Heavy roofing paper or plastic film made of polyethylene can be used for this. Make sure there is good ventilation in the crawl space and, if possible, do not enclose it. One may need to use a fan to blow out humid air from under the building.
- One can get rid of humidity or dampness within a building by heating it for a short time. After heating, open up the doors and windows, or use an exhaust fan, to let out the air that is moist.
- If there are freezing temperatures, take measures to insulate pipes inside and out to ensure they will not crack and/or burst.
- Make sure all the seals on the windows and doors are not compromised and in good-working condition.
- Clean and repair roof gutters regularly.
- Make sure the ground around your building slopes away from the foundation so water does not collect around or enter in to it.
- Act quickly if you see condensation on windows, pipes, or walls inside a building. Dry out the area and determine if the source of the condensation is from a leak or the result of high humidity.
Hurricane Preparedness in Northern Virginia
WHAT IS A HURRICANE?
Hurricanes are massive storm systems that form over warm ocean waters and move toward land. Potential threats from hurricanes include powerful winds, heavy rainfall, storm surges, coastal and inland flooding, rip currents, tornadoes, and landslides. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. The Pacific hurricane season runs May 15 to November 30. Hurricanes:Can happen along any U.S. coast or in any territory in the Atlantic or Pacific oceans.Can affect areas more than 100 miles inland.Are most active in September.
IF YOU ARE UNDER A HURRICANE WARNING, FIND SAFE SHELTER RIGHT AWAYDetermine how best to protect yourself from high winds and flooding.Evacuate if told to do so.Take refuge in a designated storm shelter, or an interior room for high winds.Listen for emergency information and alerts.Only use generators outdoors and away from windows.Turn Around, Don’t Drown! Do not walk, swim, or drive through flood waters.
Prepare NOWKnow your area’s risk of hurricanes.Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.If you are at risk for flash flooding, watch for warning signs such as heavy rain.Practice going to a safe shelter for high winds, such as a FEMA safe room or ICC 500 storm shelter. The next best protection is a small, interior, windowless room in a sturdy building on the lowest level that is not subject to flooding.Based on your location and community plans, make your own plans for evacuation or sheltering in place.Become familiar with your evacuation zone, the evacuation route, and shelter locations.Gather needed supplies for at least three days. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Don’t forget the needs of pets.Keep important documents in a safe place or create password-protected digital copies.Protect your property. Declutter drains and gutters. Install check valves in plumbing to prevent backups. Consider hurricane shutters. Review insurance policies.
5 Water conserving Tips for Summer Gardening
To keep your grass or your garden alive during the summer heat wave without driving your water bill to new heights, follow these tips.
1. A standard garden hose and nozzle is the least efficient means of applying water to plants because so much water is lost as mist, runoff and evaporation. Use a soaker hose or a sprinkler wand.
2. For most Americans, a good rule of thumb is that a lawn needs 1 inch of water a week and perennial plants and shrubs will need from 1 inch to 2 inches a week. There's no neat rule for watering annuals, so your best guide is always the plant tag (the small spear-shaped plastic tag that came with the plant when you bought it). It will tell you the sun, soil, pH and water requirements.
3. When in doubt, keep the plant's soil lightly moist and see how it responds. If conditions are especially hot and windy where you are, keep a careful eye out for wilting. If you see the signs, add water to the soil, but don't overcompensate by drowning the plant. Over-watering is just as bad as under-watering; it leads to root rot and soil compaction that robs the roots of air.
4. Don't soak the plant's foliage; it does little good. And don't apply water outside a shrub's or a perennial's root zone. A shrub's root zone is roughly 1 to 3 times the diameter of its canopy, and keeping the water inside this radius will allow it to soak down to where the plant's roots can reach it. If you see water puddling or running off, stop; let the water soak in before resuming. Likewise, water that runs off your lawn or off the top of a flower bed onto paved surfaces does no good. The same applies to running lawn sprinklers: Water your lawn, not the side of your house or the driveway.
5. Mulch is great for holding in moisture and keeping the base of plants cool. However, a thick layer of mulch can also form a crust that prevents water from soaking in. Break up crusted mulch with a rake to allow water in.
You can buy a tool to gauge your soil's moisture level at a nursery or through a horticultural supply catalog. But if you don't have one, a large straight blade screwdriver is a good standby. Poke it into the soil; the drier the soil, the more resistance you'll meet.
The SERVPRO® Emergency Ready Profile (ERP) Advantage
The Best Way to Reduce Business Interruption Following a Disaster is to Plan For it NOW!
As many as 50% of businesses may never recover following a disaster, according
to the latest industry research. Of the businesses that survive, the overwhelming
majority of them had a preparedness plan in place. Pre-planning can serve as an
insurance policy aimed at peace of mind.
By developing a SERVPRO® Emergency READY Profile for your business, you
minimize business interruption by having an immediate plan of action. Knowing
what to do and what to expect in advance is the key to timely mitigation and can
help minimize how water and fire damage can affect your business.
Are You Ready?
Preparation is a key component for making it through any size disaster, whether it’s a small water leak, a large fire or an area flood. The best time for planning for such events is not when the event happens, but well before it happens. No one ever plans on a disaster, but you can plan for it. Now is the time to ask yourself, “Are you ready for whatever could happen?”
The SERVPRO® Emergency READY Profile is a startup approach that provides the critical information needed to begin mitigation and recovery services. It is designed to serve as a quick reference of important building and contact information. By working with SERVPRO’s Emergency READY Profile, your business will receive the benefit of over 40 years of experience in reducing the impact of any natural or man-made disaster. SERVPRO® is a leader in water and fire damage response and can help you quickly get your property back in working order.
The SERVPRO® Emergency READY Profile AdvantageA no cost assessment of your facility.
This means there is no need to allocate funds, giving you a great value at no cost.A concise Profile Document that contains only the critical information needed in the event of an emergency.
It will only take a little time to complete and will not take you away from current projects. But it will save a lot of time if ever needed.A guide to help you get back into your building following a disaster.
This can help minimize the amount of time your business is inactive by having an immediate plan of action.Establishes your local SERVPRO® Franchise Professional as your disaster mitigation and restoration provider.
You have a provider that is recognized as an industry leader and close by.Identification of the line of command for authorizing work to begin.
This saves time, so we can begin the work of mitigating the damage which can save you time and money.Provides facility details such as shut-off valve locations, priority areas and priority contact information.
Having a quick reference of what to do, how to do it and who to call provides solutions in advance of an emergency so that during the emergency you are “Ready for whatever happens.”
3 Tips for Commercial Property Owners' HVAC Systems
If you run a commercial property, you probably have HVAC units to maintain. You care about keeping your tenants comfortable and it wouldn’t hurt to cut down on energy costs. Well working HVAC systems not only keep people comfortable but also foster a lower upkeep. With that in mind, here are 3 tips for commercial property owners to make their HVAC systems work for them.
1. Develop a System
You should always make sure to schedule regular HVAC maintenance for your residents. That means, at the bare minimum, you should clean air ducts on a regular basis for all of your tenants. In addition, make sure you are consistently getting rid of standing water. Water collecting in drain pans, humidity managing equipment, and cooling towers can harbor harmful bacteria and other microbial horrors if left unattended to.
2. Constantly Clean and Disinfect
Especially for managing large amounts of HVAC systems, whether for business property or living spaces, you need to make sure everything’s perfectly clean. Otherwise you’re putting your tenants in danger. Use brushes and other equipment to loosen debris from all components, and extract contaminants with a vacuum or a power washer. This is a great time to inspect any worn or damaged equipment and you can replace as necessary.
3. Dispose of Contaminants Safely
If not only for the environment, you should dispose of all contaminants in a safe green way for the heath of all your employees and tenants. After you clean everything thoroughly, make sure to follow the EPA guidelines for disposing of any excess.
Holiday Home Safety
Safety for Holiday DecoratingOne of every four home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems.On average, one of every 32 reported home Christmas tree fires results in a death compared to an average of one death per 143 total reported home fires.A heat source too close to the tree causes one in every four Christmas tree fires. So keep your Christmas tree away from heat sources and room exits.The top three days for home candle fires are Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Christmas Eve.Candles start two out of five home decoration structure fires.Water your live Christmas tree daily to keep it from becoming dry.Only use decorations that are flame-retardant or not flammable.Check holiday lights each year for frayed wires or excessive wear.Don’t link more than three strands of holiday lights.Never leave a burning candle unattended. Consider using battery-operated flameless candles.
Find more information at www.usfa.fema.gov
Mold Allergies and You
Mold is a family of organisms that are found throughout nature. Unlike plants, mold needs food and water sources in order to thrive. This food source is often in the form of a carbohydrate material, such as wood or cellulose.
Mold grows in units called mycelium and reproduce through the formation of spores. Spores frequently become airborne, and like pollen can cause allergic disease.
What Types of Diseases Can Mold Cause?
Mold has well-known associations with human disease. People can develop fungal infections of various types, especially those with poorly functioning immune systems. Fungi are also known to produce toxins, which have been blamed for causing various diseases.
Molds can also cause severe immune reactions as a result of colonizing (living in, but not causing an actual infection) the lungs (hypersensitivity pneumonitis) and the sinuses. Molds are also well known to cause various allergic diseases, such as allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma.
Which Molds are Known to Cause Allergies?
There are thousands of types of mold, however, only a few of these are currently available for allergy testing. The following are the most likely causes of allergic disease based on the types of mold spores collected in the air:
- Alternaria is a common outdoor mold; allergy to this mold can be associated with severe asthma.
- Cladosporium is the most common airborne outdoor mold.
- Aspergillus is a common indoor and outdoor mold; also associated with allergic
- Penicillium is a common indoor mold; allergy to which is not associated with antibiotic allergy.
- Helminthosporum is more commonly found in warmer climates.
- Epicoccum is found in grassland and agricultural areas.
- Fusarium is a commonly found on rotting plants.
- Aureobasidium is a common outdoor mold, commonly found on paper, lumber and painted surfaces.
- Phoma is an outdoor mold, especially common during wet periods.
- Smuts are abundantly found in areas of agriculture.
- Rhizopus and Mucor are commonly found on decaying leaves and damp indoor areas. Airborne forms of these molds are less common.
- Yeasts are commonly found in the air during wet periods in agricultural areas. Allergic disease to Candida albicans is controversial, despite some people having positive allergy testing to this type of mold.
What Times of the Year Does Mold Allergy Occur?
In colder climates, molds can be found in the outdoor air starting in the late winter and peaking in the late summer to early fall months (July to October). In warmer climates, mold spores may be found throughout the year, with the highest levels found in the late summer to early fall months.
While indoor molds can occur year-round and are dependent on moisture levels in the home, indoor mold levels are higher when outdoor mold levels are higher. Therefore, a common source of indoor mold is from the outside environment, although can also be from indoor mold contamination.
What Measures Can Be Used to Decrease Indoor Mold Levels?
- Prevent outdoor molds from entering the home by keeping doors and windows closed and using air conditioning equipped with allergen-grade air filters
- Control indoor moisture with the use of dehumidifiers
- Fix water leaks in bathrooms, kitchens, and basements
- Ensure adequate ventilation of moist areas
- Clean (or replace) contaminated surfaces with diluted a chlorine bleach solution (one part household bleach in 9 parts water), while using proper protective gear (mask and goggles)
- Utilize HEPA-filters on vacuums or as a stand-alone air filter
- Limit indoor houseplants, and ensure those that are present are free of mold on leaves and in potting soil
For more information: https://www.verywellhealth.com/mold-allergy-83231
Summer Storm Safety
Summer arrived with greenery and colorful flowers. However, the season can also bring severe weather. The American Red Cross wants everyone to know what steps they can take to stay safe if dangerous weather is predicted for their community.
Summer can be the peak season for tornado activity. Tornadoes occur mostly on warm days between 3:00 and 9:00 p.m. However, tornadoes can occur anywhere, at any time of the year, at any time of the day. The Red Cross has safety steps people should take now to be ready if a tornado warning is issued for someone’s neighborhood:Know your community’s warning system.Pick a safe room in your home where family members can gather if a tornado is headed your way. This should be a basement, storm cellar or interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.Prepare for strong winds by removing diseased and damaged limbs from trees.Move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.Know the tornado danger signs – dark, often greenish clouds, a wall cloud, cloud of debris, large hail, a funnel cloud or a roaring noise.
Thunderstorms are most likely to happen in the spring and summer, during the afternoon and evening. However, like tornadoes, they can happen anywhere, at any hour of the day. Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people every year that tornadoes or hurricanes. The Red Cross has steps you can take if a thunderstorm is predicted for your area:If thunder roars, go indoors. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning.Watch for storm signs like darkening skies, flashes of lightning or increasing winds.Postpone any outdoor activities. Many people who are struck by lightning are not where it is raining.Take shelter in a substantial building or a vehicle with the windows closed. Shutter windows and close outside doors securely. Stay away from windows.Do not take a bath, shower or use plumbing.
Summer can be a time of year for flooding. Communities in the Midwest and south have already seen floodwaters inundate neighborhoods. Snow melt and heavy spring rains fill rivers and streams and flooding can occur. Flash floods occur suddenly when water rises rapidly along a stream or low-lying area. People should be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice and head for higher ground when a flood or flash flood warning is issued. Other safety steps includeStay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.Keep children out of the water. They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
What to do After Flooding
After any water damage situation, your primary focus should be safety:Is it safe to stay in the house?Electrical and "slip and fall" hazards are some of the most prevalent concerns.Only do activities that are safe for you to perform.Wet materials can be VERY heavy. Be careful!
What To Do After Flooding:Remove excess water by mopping and blotting.Wipe excess water from wood furniture after removal of lamps and tabletop items.Remove and prop wet upholstery and cushions.Place aluminum foil or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpeting.Turn air conditioning on for maximum drying in summer.Remove colored rugs from wet carpeting.Remove art objects to a safe, dry place.Gather loose items from floors.
What NOT To Do After Flooding:Don't leave wet fabrics in place. Hang furs and leather goods.Don't leave books, magazines or other colored items on wet carpet or floors.Don't use your household vacuum to remove water.Don't use television or other household appliances.Don't turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet, and keep out of rooms where ceilings are sagging.
Odor Removal Done Right
As experts in deodorization, SERVPRO professionals are trained to identify and eliminate offensive odors. Malodors can come from a number of sources both inside and outside of a structure.
SERVPRO Franchises teach IICRC technical classes in the proper removal of odors. SERVPRO has the training and equipment to identify and eliminate these offensive odors. By identifying the cause of the odor and determining the conditions in which it contacts any surfaces, the odor can often be removed over time without a trace. Masking (using air freshener) and other short cuts don't work when your odor problem is serious or persistent. We start by removing the cause of the odor, be it bio-hazardous, mold, smoke, etc. SERVPRO technicians are then able to use SERVPRO’s state-of-the-art equipment and professional techniques to clean and remove the odors that plague your home or business.
The science of identifying and eliminating odors can be tricky, so give SERVPRO a call, and leave the restoration to us.
What to do After a Winter Storm
You might be ready for the next winter storm, but after it hits, what is next?
Here are some tips:Continue listening to local news for updated information and instructions. Access to some parts of the community may be limited or roads may be blocked.Avoid driving and other travel until conditions have improved.Avoid overexertion. Heart attacks from shoveling heavy snow are a leading cause of death during the winter.Check on your animals and ensure that their access to food and water is unimpeded by drifted snow, ice, or other obstacles.If you are using a portable generator, take precautions against carbon monoxide poisoning, electrocution and fire.
Frostbite and hypothermia are cold-related emergencies that may quickly become life or limb threatening.
Take these steps to avoid frostbite and hypothermia:Be aware of the wind chill. Dress appropriately and avoid staying in the cold too long. Wear a hat and gloves when appropriate with layers of clothing. Avoid unnecessary exposure of any part of the body to the cold.Drink plenty of warm fluids or warm water but avoid caffeine and alcohol. Stay active to maintain body heat.Take frequent breaks from the cold.Get out of the cold immediately if the signals of hypothermia or frostbite appear.
How to Clean Your Own Air Ducts
One of the best ways to ensure that the air in your home stays tidy is to clean your air vents. The air ducts in your house contain millions of particles of dust, hair, dirt, pollen, spider webs and other allergens. Cleaning your air vents will also save you money on heating and air conditioning. So, read the tips listed below and learn about how you can clean the air vents in your house.
Here's what you'll need:
- Heavy duty vacuum
- Face mask (N95)
- Cleaning Brush
Here's what to do:
- Turn off the power connected to the heating and air conditioning system.
- Unscrew the air duct covers or grilles from the walls. Use your brush to clean the grates thoroughly. If they're very dusty and grimy, you may want to use soap and water to make them gleam.
- Vacuum the ducts as much as possible. Consider renting a heavy duty vacuum for this purpose. The standard household vacuum isn't powerful enough to clean deep into the crevices of the ducts. Make sure that the vacuum you rent has a long hose to reach deep into the ducts. If you want the ducts to be cleaned more thoroughly, consider hiring a professional to do the job.
- Clean the grilles in your ceiling. If you can't reach them with the vacuum or screwdriver, use a broom to attack the dust. Remember that if you haven't cleaned them for a long time, you will want to protect yourself from all the dust and debris that will fall down by wearing a dust mask.