Recent Posts

What category of water is a dishwasher leak?

8/5/2022 (Permalink)

We all like to think that we'll never have a problem with our home appliances. 

Consider your dishwasher. Would you think twice about loading it in the morning before work and starting it up before you run out the door?

Most people wouldn't, and for the most part, they'd be fine. But for a fraction of the population, this exact scenario leads to disaster when their dishwasher fails or leaks and they come home to significant water damage.

What kind of water damage are we talking about? In most cases, a dishwasher leak like this is classified as a "category 2" water damage event.

Category 2 events are events where the water contains "significant contamination" and could cause discomfort or sickness if consumed. While they're not as contaminated as category 3 events, they're still very serious.

Dishwasher leaks qualify as category 2 events because the water from the dishwasher is contaminated with solids from the contents of the dishwasher, remnants of detergents and chemicals, and other contaminants that should not be consumed. 

Water damage becomes more contaminated over time

8/5/2022 (Permalink)

When you have a water damage event at your home or business, you really don't have any time to waste. 

Water damage should be dealt with urgently and immediately. That's because the longer it sits, the more damage it can cause, and the more dangerous that it becomes.

One example is the level of contamination of the water. 

Say you have water from a clean water source - a toilet supply line, for instance. If this were to leak, it would be classified as "category 1" water damage and considered relatively uncontaminated as compared to other types of damage.

However, water that leaks becomes steadily more contaminated over time. Even if it doesn't go anywhere and just pools on the floor, it attracts and nourishes microbes, bacteria and other contaminants.

In fact, the standards published by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification state clearly that category1 water that sits for 72 hours or more should be treated as category 3 - the same level of contamination as raw sewage.

Awareness and mitigation workshops for schools

8/5/2022 (Permalink)

This summer (summer of 2022, if you're reading in the future), we've introduced a brand new program that's been going great: a series of half-day workshops put together for local school districts to educate them on a variety of topics related to risk, safety and property damage.

These workshops, put on in partnership with Stohl Environmental, are designed to inform school buildings and grounds staff about risks they might encounter in the workplace, as well as how to react in emergency situations.

The day begins with a two-hour asbestos awareness course taught by Stohl Environmental. This course satisfies OSHA requirements for school employees.

Next, we team up with Stohl for an hour-long course covering the risks, regulation and remediation of mold and microbial growth.

Finally, we wrap up with a primer on understanding and properly mitigating water damage before we arrive on-site.

Interested? Give us a call and let us know you'd like us to come to your school!

See you on Breakfast With Disaster!

8/5/2022 (Permalink)

One of our most popular ways of connecting with the community and the people that we serve is a little something that we call "Breakfast With Disaster."

"Breakfast With Disaster" is a weekly livestream that we put out via social media and YouTube every Tuesday at the exact same time: 10:10am. 

Each broadcast is only ten or fifteen minutes long, but it's jam-packed with actionable information about property damage, insurance claims, restoration, mitigation and construction aimed at working insurance professionals and commercial real estate professionals across the region.

Of course, we have a little bit of fun too. "Breakfast With Disaster" pairs every broadcast with our SERVPRO Mug Club.

Members of the Mug Club receive a SERVPRO coffee mug with a number on the bottom. That number gets put on a prize wheel.

If we call their number at the end of the broadcast, they win a prize. And if they're watching when we do it, they win a double prize. 

The relationship between water and mold

6/30/2022 (Permalink)

Mold is a living thing, and it needs water just like you do.

In fact, water is one of the ONLY things that mold needs to grow (the other two being oxygen and a food source).

Usually, water is the X factor that causes microbial contamination to start to take off and get out of control. That’s why the relationship between water and mold is so well-documented.

Inside your house, mold spores usually aren’t much of a problem. They float around in the air but don’t really bother most people.

But if they land on a damp spot, or there’s an elevated amount of humidity, those spores can begin to grow and spread.

Because of this, it’s important to know that the key to fighting mold growth is moisture control.

If you remediate the mold without getting your moisture problems figured out, it’s just going to grow back and undo the work that you’ve done.

You must both clean up the mold and fix your moisture issues. Without both, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

How does a sprinkler head work?

6/30/2022 (Permalink)

In the movies, it’s a common trope to see a huge explosion of sprinklers go off in a commercial building when there’s a fire.

The implication is that, if one sprinkler head goes off, all of them go off, creating a huge mess even when the fire itself is relatively contained.

It makes for cool cinematography, but this really isn’t how sprinkler heads function in real life.

Most sprinkler heads are individually temperature-controlled, meaning that each head will only go off and allow water to flow if the temperature passes a certain threshold.

Most modern heads achieve this individual control through the use of a frangible glass bulb inside the head itself.

Inside the bulb is a tiny bit of liquid and an even smaller bubble. When heat increases, the liquid expands and the vapor compresses, breaking the bulb.

When the bulb breaks, the water inside the supply line releases and, the vast majority of the time, puts the fire out and restricts it to the initially effected area.

Pretty cool, right?

Should you buy a home generator?

6/21/2022 (Permalink)

When we do emergency planning for commercial buildings, one of the first things we ask about is the generator. Where is it? What does it power? How much power can it put out?

That’s because having reliable backup power is basically non-negotiable in most large facilities. At the very least, during an evacuation or an outage, people need to be able to safely get out of the building without tripping over each other.

But that’s a commercial business. What about your home? What are the benefits of investing in a home generator?

We’ll skip the obvious answer (you get power) and focus on two major disasters that can be avoided with generator power.

The first is spoiled food. If your power goes out for a significant period of time, then all of the food in your fridge or freezer is going to be at risk.

Without a generator, you’re going to end up throwing out a lot of stuff. In some rare cases, people actually forget about their freezers for days when the power goes out, leading not just to spoliation but a full-on biohazard.

The second is your sump pump. Consider the fact that your power is most likely to go out as a result of a storm. Storms bring the potential for major flooding, and no power means no sump pump keeping your basement dry. A generator can keep your pump running no matter what the scenario.

We’re not saying that you have to have a generator, but we’ve seen it come in handy quite a bit over the years.

What is flood insurance?

6/21/2022 (Permalink)

Unless you live in a flood zone, you may never have thought about flood insurance.

Most people don’t realize that flooding is covered by a totally separate policy than their traditional homeowner’s policy. In fact, in many cases, damage from water coming from outside the home is not covered at all by a standard homeowner’s policy.

That’s where flood insurance comes in. The National Flood Insurance Program is a federal program managed the FEMA and administered by a hand-picked network of insurance companies.

Why get flood insurance?

On one hand, you might legally have to. If your home or business is located in what’s been designated as a high-risk flood area, and your mortgage comes from a government-backed lender, then you are required to carry flood insurance.

In other cases, you may simply want to protect yourself. Just because you’re not in a high-risk zone doesn’t mean that you’re safe from flooding, and considering the fact that just one inch of floodwater can cause up to $25,000 in damage (according to FEMA), it pays to be prepared.

Can HVAC systems cause fires?

6/21/2022 (Permalink)

Over the past few years, especially during the height of COVID-19, people have been paying quite a bit of attention to their HVAC systems.

These systems, which are crucial for maintaining comfortable temperatures and pleasant indoor environments, are almost always safe and relatively easy to maintain if you know what you’re doing.

That said, we do sometimes see HVAC units causing problems for home and business owners. Specifically, we’ve seen a few fires start within components of the HVAC system and spread throughout the building.

Often, the fire isn’t really the HVAC system’s fault. For instance, a gas leak can start anywhere, but it gets spread by the HVAC system, eventually leading to some kind of combustion.

More commonly, though, we see malfunctions in the HVAC system due to improper maintenance. Specifically, we see motors overheat and catch fire. These problems are almost always preventable and stem from lack of cleaning, insufficient lubrication or poor maintenance in general.

Take our advice – don’t defer necessary maintenance. Take care of your building and it will take care of you.

Can you clean acoustic tile after a fire?

6/21/2022 (Permalink)

Acoustic ceiling tiles are an incredibly common building material. Installed as a drop ceiling on a metal grid, these tiles can easily improve the look of a room while also softening ambient noise pollution.

Unfortunately, in an emergency situation, they’re also incredibly susceptible to damage. Here’s why.

Even in a day-to-day cleaning scenario, acoustic tile is very difficult to clean. These tiles are usually made out of fiberboard and PVC and are extremely porous. If you’ve ever moved one to access the true ceiling in a room, then you know how much dust and debris they can trap.

Even if you try to clean that dust up, you stand a good chance of either being ineffective or damaging the tile. Vacuuming can remove some dust, and some surface cleaning may be possible with a soft brush or even a dry sponge.

But what if the tile has been exposed to water damage, or smoke from a fire?

In most cases, we’ll advise you to throw it away. There may be no real way to restore its integrity and get it back to an acceptable level of clean, and even if there were, it probably isn’t cost-effective. 99% of the time, you’re better off replacing the damaged tile.