Services increase with Knowledge
IICRC Water Restoration Technician training
Running the office at SERVPRO is a pretty interesting job. The scenario changes day to day; you literally have no idea what the next phone call will bring.
With our extended winter and several rain storms so far this spring, the bulk of our work lately has been water damage mitigation. I know my fair share about water damage (I thought) just from processing the jobs, taking the calls and speaking with the technicians that complete the work and take the pictures of job sites.
When the Water Certification Class came around, my boss, Kevin suggested that I take the course. I thought….me? Why would I need to be certified in Water Damage mitigation if I’m not a technician? I just work in the office. Well, after taking the class, I now know why he wanted me to.
Getting Down To Business
For the average person, the thought of learning the ins-and-outs of water damage mitigation may be mind-numbingly boring. However, the folks that work for SERVPRO are a different breed. I sat in a class of about 30 people, most of them new technicians for several SERVPRO franchises across Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. This group was stoked to learn the “right way” to get these jobs done. They were full of enthusiasm and questions. What I thought would be the longest three days of my life, flew by.
I learned how to address each situation upon entering the premises, to make sure to do no further harm, and to spot safety issues at the start. I learned how to STOP the “bleeding” and start the healing for each homeowner. I learned what things are the most important, and which things can be addressed a little later. I learned the technical aspects of which product to use, which dehumidifier works for each specific situation and why you don’t direct an air mover onto a surface that contains mold (it could contaminate adjoining areas). But beyond that, what I realized is that these trainers that journeyed from our corporate office in Tennessee to teach us…was not just how to clean up a backed up sewer or overflowing washing machine….but how to put people back to “whole”. How to help a distraught customer who sees his belongings floating in river water. How to empathize with someone who just bought new furniture and now sees it soaking in water from an upstairs bathroom leak.
A New Excitement
I realized that SERVPRO isn’t just about cleaning up the job and moving onto the next one. They really are about putting the customer at ease and assuring them that everything WILL be all right….and the phrase "Like it never even happened,"™ isn’t just a slogan. I realized that these people in the class with me were EAGER to learn how to do this, so that they too would be “hero ready” when the time comes.
I think I did pretty well on the test (we won’t know for a few weeks), but what I took away from the class was not just a possible certification in Water Damage Mitigation, but a better understanding and lesson in compassion for our fellow man. I just run the office at SERVPRO of Cheviot and Cleves, but I think that’s a lesson that we all could learn.
Tough Commercial Cleaning
Fire Damage Clean up Prepares SERVPRO for Tough Commercial/Industrial Cleaning Jobs
SERVPRO Technicians and Project Managers gain valuable experience by cleaning up some of the toughest property damage around, and that experience benefits your business when you have a tough cleaning job. A typical fire damage in a home or business can have hundreds of different materials exposed to drastically different conditions such as soot level, amount of heat, pre-existing conditions and moisture levels. There are also safety concerns and specialty equipment that is needed on many jobs. You can use this valuable experience to your advantage by calling on SERVPRO for those tough commercial and industrial cleaning jobs.
Employees do what employees do best
We hear time and time again that regular employees dread and sometimes even refuse to do heavy cleaning on the equipment they run and maintain daily! SERVPRO technicians receive training on cleaning processes which start by identifying the surface being cleaned and the soil that needs to removed. Next it’s time to put a plan together by identifying cleaning processes and solutions that will ensure the best result possible. Sometimes there is a perfect cleaning agent and process that will cut through the grime and sometimes it is a matter of good old fashioned elbow grease! Either way, our experience in property restoration translates directly to cleaning your toughest jobs.
Consider safety and efficiency
Safety and ergonomics play a role in this type of cleaning too. Your employees have extensive training and experience on running your machines safely and SERVPRO employees are well trained on the proper mixing, using and disposing of cleaning agents, use of ladders and lifts and also accessing confined spaces. Inefficiencies can even pop up after the project is complete if you use your own staff to do the work. Regular employees are typically not prepared for the physical demands of this difficult work and can develop injuries from over-use of muscles they don’t normally use in their daily jobs.
Too much Too Fast
Recently we were able to serve customers out of town that were affected by Hurricane Matthew. While North Carolina grabbed most of the headlines, our crew was sent to Virginia Beach, VA. It never ceases to amaze me how nature can put a wrench in our plans by damaging our property. We saw a tremendous amount of damage, not from ridiculously strong winds or trees falling on homes, but from flooding. While I certainly believe that North Carolina sustained heavier damage, Virginia Beach got a lot of the rainfall that accompanied the hurricane which caused pockets of extreme flooding. One of our customers was injured during the flooding and rescue crews had to use a boat to get him from his house to an emergency vehicle. I couldn't imagine having to boat up to my front door!
Many Hands Make for Light Work
Once the flood waters receded it was time for SERVPRO to go into action. One thing that excites me about this company is our ability to respond in times of need. SERVPRO's Storm Team is able to organize and send hundreds of crews to help when our customers need it the most. We have the resources to get all the equipment, supplies, tools and trained team members to the right spots quickly. It was phenomenal yet again to see so many SERVPRO trucks and vans from so many different parts of the country helping a city in need.
Help Isn't Just Being There, It's More
It's not just quantity that matters. We follow the same standards to help flood victims that we do every other day of the year. It's important to me that our customers know that we are there to help, not to take advantage of the situation they are in. Some contractors only see dollar signs. We follow IICRC standards for completing the job and we use the same estimating and pricing system that we always use. I found that this allowed our customers to trust us immediately even though we were from out of town. And trust is important to helping restore our customers. After all, it's important to restore the property, but it's more important to restore the customer's faith that it will be alright.
All In 2016
Congratulations to the 2016 NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers! For basketball fans and Cleveland natives today is a great day of celebration and awe. Having been born in Cleveland and being a die hard Cleveland sports fan I feel a sense of connection with those players and certainly with all the Cleveland fans.
Why even think you can win?
A documentary was recently released called "Believeland" that told the story of Cleveland almost winning so many times in the past only to have championship runs end in some miserable fashion. It had been 52 years since the last major sports championship in Cleveland. Cavs were down 3-1 in the best of seven series where no team in NBA history had ever come back to win in the finals. The Cleveland Cavaliers had never won a championship before. So what makes you think you win?
Perseverance is that thing that doesn't look at the final result when deciding whether or not to get out of bed tomorrow and try again. Living in the Cincinnati area as a Cleveland fan I get ridiculed on a regular basis and I get asked why I continue to root for teams "that can't win". The answer is perseverance. There once was a drought that caused devastation to the farmers and others who called that area home. Being a spiritual people they asked different priest, tribal leaders and everyone they could think of to get it to rain. Finally they found a "rain doctor" that claimed a 100% success rate at making it rain. Many people didn't buy into it, but they hired him in desperation and he began his rain dance with intense focus and belief that it would rain. Weeks went by with no rain but he kept dancing. Weeks turned into months and he kept dancing. There were cloudy days that still produced no rain and he kept dancing. Then finally, after the last believer had giving up on him, a rain drop finally fell from the sky followed by another and another. When the rain came pouring down the people ran out to celebrate with the rain doctor who had never given up and continued to dance everyday. One skeptic asked the rain doctor on that day, "How could you be so sure you could make it rain and not give up?" He replied with what he thought was obvious, "Because I danced until it rained."
Belief in a win
As excited and relieved as I am as a fan to have the long drought end I still can't help but draw a parallel to the customers we serve. When there is a major fire, water, mold or other damage to their home it can be a gut wrenching blow. Many times it can feel like they have lost and that they just don't know how they'll be able to win again. My hope is that through our service we can help give our customers that hope so that they can persevere and rebuild not only their home, but their hope that it will be OK. That one day it will be "Like it never even happened."®
Cincinnati the party’s over
Vandalism comes in many forms
This clean up was a new one to me, but given what caused the damage it seems like it shouldn't have been. A commercial property in Cincinnati had a top floor that was a residential apartment. There was a social gathering at the apartment and a fire extinguisher was used. The only problem . . . there was no fire! The extinguisher was discharged in the common stairwell by one of the party guests and found its way into two of the businesses in the building. This may seem somewhat harmless and just a little mess, but this was considered vandalism and cost over $10000 to clean up (thank goodness for insurance!)
It's just dust, right?
Fire extinguisher powder is a made up of very fine particles that can be harmful to our lungs, but is very effective against fire. Although this looks like it is "just dust" it will make its way through a typical shop vac or vacuum cleaner filter and back into the air. Sure, some will get trapped in the filter, but it will take a tremendously long time to keep cleaning and recleaning until it's all gone. In this case the dust didn't flow exactly like soot in a fire because there was no heat to create the same kinds of drafts, but the extinguisher dust did go throughout 2 businesses that had their doors closed. Several of the workers in one office were extremely concerned about their respiratory health and told us about coughing spells that they had after trying to work in there. They only made it half a day before leaving and trying to work from home.
If you were to pull out a human hair, cut it in half and then look at the surface you just cut you would be looking at something about 90 microns in size. Fire extinguisher dust is about 20 microns in size, less than 1/4 the size of a human hair. It's designed this way to get into small nooks and crannies to do it's job. Cleanup requires equipment that is up to the challenge. HEPA filters, by definition, trap particles down to .03 microns in size. We use special vacuums and air scrubbers with HEPA filters that are rated to trap these tiny particles so that they don't go right back in the air.
We sent a small army to this job and got the common areas and the business offices cleaned within 2 days so those companies could get back to work ASAP. It was a great feeling as a business owner knowing that we were able to get other businesses up and running again. It's always satisfying on a job like this to know that our specialized equipment worked as it should and there was no call back for any dust resettling. But the most important result we achieved in this job was that employees of those businesses felt safe going back to work knowing the job was done right and their health was not at risk. "Like it never even happened."®
Cheviot-All mucked up after water main break
Water damage is one thing, but . . .
Sometimes it would be great if there was only water damage. SERVPRO of Cheviot and Cleves helped this customer in Cheviot clean up from a water main break that brought hundreds of pounds of mud into the house. The water was so powerful that it actually knocked the bottom section of the garage door off the tracks! No worries though, our Hero Ready technicians are up to the task.
Where do I start?
Most homeowners would not know where to start with damage this severe, but SERVPRO of Cheviot and Cleves has been there before and has a plan for your recovery. In this case our technicians had several needs to satisfy including:
- Classify, inventory and remove damaged contents
- Fix the garage door for security purposes
- Get the mud out!
- Inspect for water damage throughout the entire basement
- Sanitize the entire basement
- Help with the insurance claim process and billing
- Preserve the value of the property
An ounce of prevention . . .
The 3 day outlook shows lows in the single digits with negative wind chills. Pipe bursts can cause the most damage of any water source we deal with. Sometimes there can be multiple pipe bursts in the same property and many times they burst when no one is there or when everyone is asleep. We have even seen times when a copper pipe pops out of joint allowing a 1/2 water line to run wide open! Imagine the damage that can cause! So what can be done to prevent this type of damage?
5 tips to keep your pipes warm
Below are some simple tips to keep pipes from freezing at your home or business:
- Open any cabinetry that houses plumbing on exterior walls to help keep the pipes from freezing!
- Wrap pipes that are at risk, like in a garage or attic, in the foam insulation sleeves designed for pipes.
- Keep your thermostat no lower than 60-65 degrees if you are away for a day or more. Many people think 55 degrees is sufficient, but we have seen many troubles arise with thermostats set that low.
- Use pipe heating wires when appropriate. Make sure they are installed according to instructions.
- Use hose bib covers outside to prevent cold air from entering around the pipe and freezing it.
Severe Fire needs Hero Level Service
Where Do I Start???
Any fire or smoke damage can be disruptive to our normal lives. Major fire damage has the ability to put us into a complete tailspin. The initial shock and awe of what just happened to this homeowner was extreme, but it is OK. What else would you expect when the entire 2nd floor of your house caught fire and burned? This homeowner had a normal life that he was living before this. He has appointments to keep, work to do, life to live. Now, for the immediate future his life would be dealing with this catastrophe. Surveying all the damage, the state of his long time home, he simply did not know where to even start.
We Help Restore Our Customer
Our skills, tools and training are geared toward cleaning, fixing and restoring property and belongings. But our employees from top to bottom, Sales to Production are focused on restoring our customers. Your insurance company can help put your mind at ease by writing checks to pay for damage, but our techinicians are the Heroes on the ground ready to service our customers until they feel restored. Our goal is to use our skills in fire damage restoration to restore our customer's sense that it will all be OK, that life will be good again.
How We Help
- We Have A Plan = you are able to gain confidence in our company, but more importantly, you are able to see for the first time that it will be OK, that you will be OK
- Inventory and Packing services = you continue your normal schedule while we sort, photograph, pack and list your belongings in a way that will help you throughout the claim
- Web Link to Inventory = you can view your inventory in your leisure from any laptop or tablet because trust and your convenience is important to us
- Navigating Insurance = we can help reduce your anxiety when dealing with an insurnace claim by helping provide documentation, photos, loss item lists, accurate estimates and invoices and even pricing of loss items
- Complete Property Repair = you don't have to search for multiple companies and act like your own general contractor, rather we bring a team to serve you and stay accountable to you
The home we are discussing in this blog ended up being a total loss and was bulldozed. But thanks to our plan, our service and our Hero Ready team, we were able to help the homeowner make good decisions all along the way. We quickly inventoried, packed and moved all salvageable items to our warehouse and created a loss list for our customer to turn into his insurance company. Then we worked fast to create accurate estiamates for mitigation and for repairs. That information was critical. It turned out that the cost to repair the property exceeded the limits of the policy and value of the home. The homeowner made the decision to tear down the home and buy a manufactured home to put in its place. Without good information property owners will likely make bad decisions that will end up costing more. Because this customer consulted the professionals he was able to make the best decision for himself.
My pipes have frozen! Now what!
As we get deeper into winter, one of our most common calls is water damage from frozen or burst pipes. As temperatures drop outside, it is important to ready your home for the changes that are coming so that your home and its contents don’t face this messy and unfortunate outcome.
How can you prevent frozen or burst pipes? A special consideration is plumbing that supplies outdoor spigots. Often times these pipes freeze inside wall cavities. A good solution is to cut a hole in the drywall and then cover it with a vent cover (a return vent for HVAC can be used for this) so that heat from the room gets into the wall cavity where the pipe is. Similarly, it’s a good idea to keep cabinet doors that hide pipes (under kitchen/bathroom sinks) open to facilitate warm air flow.
On the outside, it is imperative that hoses are disconnected from spigots. Even if water is turned off to the spigot and it is a “freeze proof” spigot, leaving a hose connected will trap water and freezing can still cause it to crack. A final step would be to attach a Styrofoam insulation cover over the spigot. This covers the entire spigot and fits tight to the house with a foam gasket which will prevent cold air from getting in and around the pipe. (These can only be installed with the hose detached).
Keeping pipes insulated are very important. Any exposed pipe is subject to freezing at the right temperature. Keep your garage door closed in winter to maintain heat inside the home. Frequently inspect your pipes for any cracks and leaks and repair as soon as possible. You don’t want to find out at 2am on a frigid February morning that your tiny crack caused the basement to flood and ruin all your furniture.
Keep your thermostat at the same temperature, day and night, and never lower than 60 degrees. This is not the time to be worrying about your utility bill. Maintain a proper heat level in the home to avoid disastrous surprises.
But what if after all this, your pipes freeze anyway?
Firstly, KEEP the faucet open. As the ice starts to melt, water will flow and any running water will help melt the ice in the pipe. You can apply direct heat to a frozen area using a heating pad wrapped around the pipe, a hair dryer, or towels soaked in hot water.
A space heater can be used, as long as it kept away from flammable materials and you are there to supervise its use. Heat should be applied until full water pressure is restored.
If you cannot find the frozen area, or if you cannot reach it or thaw the pipe, called a licensed plumber.
NEVER use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove or other open flame device…or you will be calling SERVPRO for fire damage cleanup instead of water damage cleanup!
Hopefully, these tips were beneficial and will help you get off on the right foot for 2020. However, should you be struck with burst pipes, a flooded basement or anything in between, call us here at SERVPRO and we’ll make it "Like it never even happened."
We bring order to chaos!
A common call we get at SERVPRO is "what exactly do you guys do?" That's a broad question, and a GOOD question! In short, we bring order to chaos. How so? Let me explain...
Unexpected property damage brings with it uncertainty, confusion and disorder. Even the smallest occurrence can bring anxiety to our customers and people around them. Extreme cases can displace families and businesses, destroy memories and in short, bring chaos.
Our job, or work, our purpose, is to bring order to chaos. For uncertainty, we bring confidence. For confusion, we bring a plan of action. For disorder, we bring organization. We are SERVPRO HEROes and we bring order to chaos.
H - Helping
E - Everyone
R - Restore
O - Order
We cannot bring to our customers what we are not. Our ability to bring order to our customer’s chaos is directly related to our daily ability to bring order to our own chaos. Left unattended, a well manicured garden will become overgrown with weeds and what once was beautiful will become ruined. This is the way of the world. Clean becomes dirty, new becomes old. We have the very unique ability in this world to restore what was ruined and fix what was broken. We have the skills to make beautiful what has been damaged. We are on the front lines pushing back against chaos, using our skills, our attitudes, our abilities, our compassion, our motivation, our learning and our execution. We bring order to chaos.
As a purposeful SERVPRO HERO, I bring order through my punctuality, my organization abilities, my leadership, my focus, my accomplishments, my understanding, my team-first attitude, my skills, my proactive communication, my safety practices and in everything I do. When I stand for what is right, I bring order.
When I demand order in my own life and I bring that order to my work, I help restore people, not just property. When I decide to finish a task instead of leaving it for later, I build my character which makes my team stronger. I believe that serving brings its own rewards. As I bring order to my customer’s chaos job after job, I see that when I help enough people get what they want, I can have everything I want.
We bring order to chaos.