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.
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."®
Call us for mold problems
Procrastination grows things!
Don't ignore the signs of potential water leaks! Musty smells, bubbling paint, stained drywall, and swelled paneling just to name a few. It's what you don't see that can become the big problem. Over time wet materials in your home can become a new home for something you don't want moving in like mold or other microorganisms. Like most living things, water is the key to life. So keep your home dry and keep it healthy. If you suspect a water leak, call us! We will inspect your areas of concern for free!
Mold has needs too
Mold needs a few things in order to grow:
- Stagnant air
- Agreeable temperatures
Mold can't eat synthetic materials like plastic or vinyl, rather it likes natural fibers like wood, paper and cotton or leather. Water is key to mold growth. Many times molds require more water to develop. Mold can't grow if the spores (like seeds) can't settle down because they are always blowing in the wind. Mold tends to grow slower or not at all in colder temperatures, but don't think that it can't grow. Have you cleaned out your fridge lately and found mold growing in that pasta sauce you forgot about from two years ago?
Many times the very best location for mold to take root and begin growing is inside wall cavities, like in the photo above. There could be a substantial amount of growth on the back side before enough grows on the face of the wall to be discovered. The key is to inspect your home for potential or existing water intrusion. If you suspect mold but aren't sure call SERVPRO of Cheviot and Cleves.
Finding Hidden Damage
I was out on an inspection due to "musty odor". Visual inspection showed nothing out of the ordinary with the exception of a little staining on a piece of baseboard. Moisture meter readings showed all was dry. I was about to pack up and leave, but the stain on the baseboard bothered me. I got permission to remove the baseboard...good thing I went this extra step! The back was covered in growth! I then cut an inspection hole in the drywall and found growth on the back of the drywall. What does all this mean?? One, don't ignore your nose! Two, make sure you get a thorough inspection!
We have great tools that help us track down water, mold and fire damage in your property. the funny thing about tools is they don't work right in an untrained hand. Our technicians all receive thorough training and certification. Our corporate office has an entire training department that makes it easy for us to provide our customers with trained, knowledgeable technicians. We also send the best technicians to outside training to become certified through the IICRC and rise to the level of Lead Technician. Our Lead Technicians have the training, the tools and the experience to keep digging to find all the damage and make sure your property is returned to a clean, safe condition.
We appreciate you!
Help Us Help You
I like great movie lines and "Jerry McGuire" had a few. "Help Me Help You" was one of those lines that many people recognize instantly. When our technicians come to your home it is critical that we receive feedback from you, our customer. One of the things that keeps our work interesting is that no two customers are alike and no two properties are alike. Each customer has their own particular ways and therefore different expectations. Some of our customers are reluctant to tell our crews that they are unsatisfied with something because they really appreciate their hard work and don't want to crticize the crew. Rest assured, our crews are not upset. Quite the opposite. When we actively look for ways to serve you we want to know if we are serving you well and to your satisfaction. It is critical for our customers to communicate if any of our services did not completely meet their expectations so that we can remedy the situation, exceed your expectations and leave you feeling happy and confident with our services. That is how you can help us help you!
I would like to ask a favor of you if have had great service. In today's world, word-of-mouth has taken a new form . . . social media. We appreciate your reviews and comments in places like Yelp!, Facebook, Google+ and others. It helps us be more visible to future customers. If our service didn't reach your expectations please email us at support@SERVPROcheviotandcleves.com or call our office at 513-467-6666 so that we can resolve any issues and ensure your satisfaction
Knowledge comes with increased Service
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 most people 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 all 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.