Yes, we clean that too.....
When you think of SERVPRO, you may only think of water, fire or mold cleanup. While that is a huge part of our business, it's not all we do when it comes to cleaning. Situations that are too messy, too personal, too risky or just too much for you to clean, we can clean!
Our technicians are specially trained to deal with all sorts of cleanup - those that come from unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances (crime scene cleanup, death/suicide cleanup) and those that seem an insurmountable task (hoarding situations, pet waste, etc). We do it all! We do the "yucky" stuff that people don't want to do.
It's not just a matter of restoring the property to "before" condition. It also has to do with following strict laws and guidelines that govern bio-hazard cleanup as well as properly sanitizing the affected areas. SERVPRO is not your everyday carpet cleaning company. We are equipped and ready to dive in and take care of any sticky situation and bring you back to "Like it never even happened."
Our staff is compassionate and empathetic to your situation and understands that many situations that involve bio-hazard cleanup are uncomfortable and emotionally taxing.
We want to take as much worry and stress off of you as we can. There really isn't much we can't clean up, so if you have any questions or wonder if we can tackle your messy cleaning job, just call us! We're available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to take the burden off of you and your family.
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.
Don't Forget Renter's Insurance!
If you're a homeowner, you most likely have homeowner's insurance, for several reasons. If you have a mortgage on the property, it's required. But even if it wasn't required, you want to protect your home and it's contents in case something catastrophic happens.
If you're a renter, it's not that much different. While you are not responsible for the actual structure that you live in, think what you would do if everything in your home went up in flames. What if your flat screen TV was stolen? What if everything you owned was ruined because the roof ripped off in a tornado?
Don't be fooled by thinking your landlord's insurance will cover your things. It doesn't. Therefore, you'll be out in the cold with NOTHING if you don't have renter's insurance when you need it.
Beyond just having renter's insurance, be mindful of the limit you place on your belongings. While it may be tempting to lowball your possessions for the lower premium, think about how much money you'd really need to replace all your clothing, jewelry, furniture and other things often forgotten like pots, pans, kitchen utensils, linens, personal hygiene items, small electronics forgotten in a drawer, like tablets and game consoles. Would $25k be enough? $50k?
Last summer, SERVPRO of Cheviot and Cleves were called to a local apartment complex that had caught fire due to negligence in cooking of a neighbor. So it wasn't even the customer's FAULT, yet her entire apartment affected, covered in soot and smelling of smoke.
We were on scene in minutes, packing up her belongings and hauling them back to our warehouse to be cleaned and inventoried. While she went through such a traumatic event, she didn't have to worry about her stuff or where it would end up.
We cleaned everything that was salvageable, and returned them to her in her new apartment weeks later. Her renter's insurance covered it all. The packing labor, materials, hauling, storage fees, everything.
Renter's insurance is pretty cheap, considering the benefits. Policies had be had for as little as $9 a month when bundled with other insurance, or a standalone policy is around $15 and up per month. Your stuff is worth that, right? You bet it is!
The Steps That Lead Back Home
Major Fire Damage affects many people on the same level as the loss of a close family member.
What Just Happened?
A customer once told me that he had been called at work and told that his house was on fire. For a second he thought it was a joke but then he could hear the sound of nearby fire engines moving down the road. He immediately left work and began to rush home. He worked relatively close to home so it didn’t take long before he saw a huge plume of smoke in the distance. As much as he wanted to believe it wasn’t his house, he knew what would be at the end of this particular drive home. At least he thought he knew.
Every homeowner reacts differently to major damage to their home. Some homeowners grieve their loss very quickly and move on to the logistics of getting their life put back together. Others find it much more difficult to deal with the devastation that a major property damage delivers to their front door. The unfortunate part of life is that no matter what their mental and emotional state is, there is still a lot that must be dealt with. Regardless of what tasks lie ahead, it’s important to acknowledge the emotional impact on our customers.
What Do I Do FIRST?
After the fire is out there are only a handful of things that need to be done immediately. This blog series is focused on recovery relating to the dwelling (structure) and of the personal property (contents) components of a property damage and will not be able to address any insurance related issues outside of our scope of services. We also try our best to acknowledge and provide help for the mental and emotional state of those who have suffered such a loss where we can.
Protect Your Property
One of the first things that needs to be done regarding the property is to have it secured or “boarded up” from any damage to windows, doors and other openings either from the fire or the fire fighting efforts. BEWARE: This step can happen as soon as the fire department is wrapping up their equipment and many times a line of contractors that has been listening to police/fire scanners is already waiting at the end of your driveway hoping to get you to use them. They may be legitimate contractors, but what does it say that they trying to get you to sign a contract for repairs when the fire department hasn’t even left yet? That’s high pressure. If you run into this and decide to use one of them for the board up, it would make sense to only agree to board up services at this time and nothing else. DON’T SIGN a contract for all of the repairs right now! You will have time to decide what to do with your home and who to use for the repairs. If do you need board up services, call us anytime 24 hours a day and we’ll respond to help you out.
Find a Place To Stay
Many times, the Red Cross is called out to provide immediate assistance and can even help with temporary lodging if needed. If the Red Cross does not respond, then you may unfortunately be on your own to find a hotel or other arrangement. Ultimately your insurance will likely cover this cost of lodging, but depending on the day of the week your damage occurs on, you may not meet with a claims representative at your property for several days. That’s the earliest possible time that you would begin to receive any kind of compensation for your loss and the added expenses of staying somewhere else.
Your world has just been turned up-side-down. People are calling from all over the place. Some are wanted calls of support, some are not. There are a million things racing through your head and each idea gets interrupted by the next one, and the next emotion. Take some time now, at the beginning and try to remind yourself of what you do have. There is a tremendous amount of help throughout this process that you can count on. For the rest of this day, don’t try to plan out the whole repair or even the next week. Today, just take this one step at a time. The rest of your decisions will be better if you have had time to grieve this loss and prepare mentally for all the steps that will lead back home. One of the best ways to help calm the mind is to write down your thoughts and concerns as they happen so that you can set each burden down for a while, but know that you won’t forget about it. Almost all smart devices have a notebook or journal of some kind. Many of them can record voice notes. If all else fails, text someone you trust the thing you want to remember. This way you’ll have a written record and some help remembering to check on that concern!
Safety First, Valuable Items Right Behind
Firearms and other weapons should be a priority for you to gather up and remove from the property to a safe location. Even that sword that you think of as a family heirloom or cool decoration should be addressed. Ammunition should be inspected for heat damage and may need to be properly and safely disposed of if it has become compromised. Once those safety concerns have been addressed it is time to focus on other important items. Keep in mind that over the next several months there could be many people in your home assisting your restoration. Miscommunications between different companies could result in items being misplaced or even disposed of that are important to you. It is best for you to get the most important, most valuable items out and take them with you. Start making a list of things like jewelry, important papers, medicine and medical devices, cash, credit cards and checkbooks and other personal high value and high importance items. At this point, don’t worry as much about collections, tools or large items, but focus more on important personal items that you can’t afford to lose.
Hurry Up And Take Your Time
There’s no doubt that time is of the essence at the beginning of a severe fire damage. If the fire department used heavy amounts of water fighting the fire, the drying process needs to begin immediately to prevent secondary damage. The longer soot sits on your belongings, especially electronics, the more damage it does and the harder it is to clean. Companies need to be notified, services need to be paused, reports need to be filed, lists need to be made. It can feel like it all has to be done right now! While it’s true, certain things need to be done to prevent further damage, it’s OK to take a minute with each decision to make sure you are comfortable with what is happening.
Ask More Questions
Ask, ask, ask! If you feel embarrassed to ask a question because you may have already asked it, ask anyway. If you don’t know the question to ask, but you don’t quite understand what's going on just tell someone that this doesn’t happen to you all the time and ask them to explain it again, or in more detail. The only way to get comfortable with what’s going on is to learn about what’s going on. Most professionals understand the situation you are in and are glad to answer questions (again) and provide clarity.
Several more blogs will follow this one to help lay out how to handle the details of cleaning up and rebuilding from a severe fire damage. The next part will dive into how to handle all of the personal property that must be sorted through and put onto one list or another. If you should find yourself in this situation, please know that SERVPRO of Cheviot and Cleves is always Here To Help.
Service Increases With Knowledge
Water damage may not look tremendously devastating to a home initially, but if left untreated it can cause great harm to the home and the homeowner.
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.
You're Most Likely Underinsured
Water Damage throughout a finished basement can easily cost more than $5000 to fully repair. Make sure you have what you need when the time comes.
The Man Family Cave
I was supposed to have the project done before my son was born, but before I knew it, there he was at 2 years old, climbing through the cabinets I was about to install as part of my basement remodel. It turns out that when you do it yourself, it takes a little longer! When I finally completed it, my family had a re-vamped basement that we could use for entertaining, playing or just connecting while watching a movie together. I was proud of my work and began to add up all the money I saved by doing it myself. Then I thought about the money I spent just on materials like carpet, drywall, paint, cabinets and tile not to mention the furniture and my son’s toys.
Being a SERVPRO owner, I know that the most common damage in basements is water damage. There are all kinds of sources like broken pipes, water heaters, washing machines, water softener tanks and of course anything that happens upstairs will eventually find its way down to the basement. But I felt really good knowing that if any of those things happened in my revamped basement my insurance would kick in and I could have someone else repair it!
Not So Fast!
Our customer was a young traveling sales rep and was gone from her home for several days at a time. This particular time, she had returned to find that the basement she just recently spent thousands of dollars to have finished sustained a water damage. There was a drain in the laundry area that backed up after a heavy rain and it was estimated that only about an inch or two of water got into the basement, but it made its way all over. By the time she returned home to find her wet basement and called us out, the water had already wicked up the walls about 14 inches!
No worries though! Insurance was there to cover the loss and everything was returned to preloss condition with little-to-no financial harm to the customer, right? I wish I could say that was the case. However, our customer discovered that this source of loss was only covered by a special coverage attached to a homeowner’s policy. Good news – she had that coverage. Bad news – there was limit of only $5000!!! For this job we had to cut out drywall 2ft from the floor, tear out carpet, remove baseboards, steam clean, apply a sanitizer and install drying equipment just to get the basement clean and dry. There was also a small bar that had to be removed and 4 rooms of furniture that sustained water damage plus the cost of repairing everything that had to be removed. I’m sure you can see that $5000 left our customer woefully underinsured.
The next day I began to think about my own basement and a particular drain right in front of the washing machine. I knew that I had drain back-up coverage, but I never really looked at my policy in detail to see how much. My basement wouldn’t be nearly as expensive to repair as our recent customer's if the same thing happened, but I also knew that it would take more than $5000. The next day I called my agent and found out that that I did indeed only have $5000 of coverage, so I asked to increase it. At that time, for an extra $50/year I could increase my coverage by $20,000 with my carrier. What a bargain!
All Things In Moderation
I’m not saying to run out and buy a bunch of insurance for drain back up if you don’t need it. I’m not saying go buy $50,000 or $100,000 of drain back up coverage if you do need some. However, I highly recommend taking a quick inventory of what you have in your basement and maybe do some online shopping to see what it might cost to replace those items if they were damaged by either rain water or sewage backing up from a sump pump or drain. Think about the materials that were used to finish your basement. Tile can withstand water damage especially when installed on concrete. Carpet may survive a sump pump or water heater failure, but it has to be disposed of if the water originated from a sewer drain. Cabinets may survive a sump pump failure, but not if the water sits long enough to cause warping. My advice is to work with your insurance agent to determine the right coverage for you and your situation. If you need this special coverage, you will be happy you have it if you sustain this kind of loss. If you need higher limits because you have more to lose it will cost a little more, but you will be relieved that you have it if you ever need it. Make sure you review your policy or call your agent today before it’s too late.
The last thing you want is to find out it’s going to cost more than you have to put your home back “Like it never even happened.™”
Tough Commercial Cleaning
Tough Commercial Cleaning Job in Cincinnati
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.
What is a tough cleaning job anyway?
Tough projects we have completed in the past range from a deep cleaning of a break/lunch room at a foundry to the basement of a distribution business. We have taken on jobs from cleaning brand new equipment on a processing line after it was installed to cleaning a machine that was roughly 80 years old that had the built up grease and grime to prove it! We’ve cleaned warehouse walls and floors and even ceilings above sensitive machines that required protection from falling debris from cleaning at night while the set up also allowed the machine to run during the day. Whether Fire, Water, Mold or General Clean Up, SERVPRO can help make it, “Like it never even happened.”™
It Will Be Alright Again
Sunrise on Virginia Beach . . . nothing more to say.
The Sun Is . . . Rising
While in Virginia Beach helping to clean up from the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew I was fortunate enough to stay right on the beach. (It turns out off season rates are as good as anywhere else in the area!) I began taking a picture of the sunrise over the ocean each morning because I don't get that opportunity very often and I would send the picture to my wife each day.
I was in Virginia Beach throughout the Presidential campaign season I returned home just before election day. When I was looking back over my pictures from this trip I saw this particular sunrise and thought of a story I have heard several times over the years. It is said that when the Constitutional Convention was concluding Benjamin Franklin commented on a chair that George Washington had been sitting in throughout the convention that had a semi-circle sun carved into it. He said that he was unsure if that was a rising sun or a setting sun throughout the convention. Finally, at the end of the convention he became certain that for America, the sun was indeed rising.
When I thought of that story and this picture of the sun rising over Virginia Beach I thought about this Hurricane and all the other Storm Events that I have travelled to. I thought about all the storms that have hit our country in the past and I thought to myself, it's going to be alright for these people. Our country is at its best when helping those in need and we have an amazing ability to overcome difficulties in order to keep moving forward. That story of the rising sun chair and the picture I took reminded me that everyone on the East Coast that was affected by Hurricane Matthew may never be the same and it may take a long time to fully recover. But I am certain because of the people I met that for Virginia Beach and any other community affected, the sun is rising.
City crews in Virginia Beach take garbage from the mess created by Hurricane Matthew. Servpro was there to take care of people and property.
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.