Commercial Fire And Water Damage Prevention Tips
No matter what kind of commercial building you have, fire and water damage are a risk for businesses all over the country. Many events that cause significant damage to commercial buildings can be avoided by taking simple preventative measures.
Having quality fire and water damage prevention is the best and cheapest defense. SERVPRO would rather help you avoid an incident, but our commercial restoration team is standing by to help you recover quickly.
Here are some simple steps to prevent fire and water damage to your commercial building.
Keep your fire protection equipment up to date.
When was the last time you checked the expiration date on your multipurpose extinguishers? Do all your employees know where each fire extinguisher is around your building? Have you checked to ensure your smoke detectors are in good working order? Is your emergency kit supplied with items like a flashlight, bottled water, and first aid kit? Many businesses also include fire escape masks to prevent smoke inhalation in the event of a fire.
Many local governments offer to have a visit from the fire marshall to conduct workplace fire risk assessments and help you create a fire prevention plan. This is an excellent tool for lowering your risk of fire damage.
Protect your building from accidental or intentional fires
The US fire departments respond to more than 3,000 office property fires each year. Most fires are caused by human error, like leaving a coffee pot on, burning food in the kitchen, or spilling liquids on electrical equipment.
Fires that occur between 3 pm and 12 am are usually the most damaging because fewer people are around to catch it early. Keep dumpsters away from the building and empty trash cans inside your building every day to prevent smoldering papers or things from becoming a full-fledged fire.
Keep the trees and bushes around your building trimmed. If you have security cameras or motion sensor lights, it is essential to have a clear line of sight around your property. This will make it easier to spot problems or suspicious activity.
Keeping your HVAC and electrical systems maintained is key to fire prevention and safety. About 9% of commercial fires happen because HVAC systems and other appliances malfunction. Have your heating systems and other appliances inspected regularly, especially before the winter months when your heating systems will be working overtime. Ensure the smoke detectors in utility and storage rooms work correctly.
No smoking policies can dramatically reduce the risk of fire around your commercial property. Cigars, cigarettes, and other smoking materials cause about 9% of fires in office properties. Make sure your employees know and abide by the smoking rules. Provide safe ways to dispose of cigarettes in all the designated smoking areas to reduce the risk of fire.
Prevent commercial water damage with regular inspections.
When was the last time the roof, plumbing, and electrical systems in your commercial building were inspected by a professional? Sinks, toilets, and leaking roofs are common causes of water damage in commercial properties.
An easy and effective way to prevent expensive water damage is to have your facility inspected regularly. Air conditioners, water heaters, water pipes, and other plumbing can develop leaks, cracks, and weak areas over time. It’s essential to catch problems early instead of waiting until they cause thousands of dollars of damage.
Old toilets usually have weak water pressure, which can lead to more clogs. If the toilets clog frequently, it can cause damage to the pipes and lead to black water flooding. Newer toilets are more efficient and effective. Consider replacing old toilets and plumbing before there is an issue.
Have the sprinkler systems inspected to prevent leaks and malfunctions. Sprinkler systems are excellent at minimizing fire damage, but if the pipes leak, they can cause severe water damage.
Inspect your roof frequently. Look for damage to the perimeter flashing or areas where water is not draining correctly. Make sure the gutters and drain pipes are clean, especially before any major storms to prevent your roof from leaking.
Consider installing water leak detection sensors that will send an alert if there is a leak. These are especially useful around water heaters ice and beverage machines, and other utilities that have the potential to cause serious damage if they malfunction.
Perform Risk Assessments
A risk assessment is a careful inspection of your property and work habits to look for things that could cause damage to people or property. Many companies perform risk assessments for you, or you can designate a person in your organization to receive risk assessment training.
The benefit of conducting regular risk assessments is that you are aware of the vulnerabilities and threats to your property so you can take steps to prevent accidents. It is always better to be proactive than reactive.
Develop an Emergency Readiness Plan
Use the SERVPRO Emergency READY Program (ERP) to prepare for disaster ahead of time. A SERVPRO disaster recovery specialist will assess your business and help you create an emergency READY profile for your building and property.
The ERP profile includes critical information about your business, like emergency contact information, locations for all your shut-off valves, and other vital details that you, your employees, and the emergency response team will need to know in the event of a disaster.
Having this information in one place will help you and the SERVPRO team respond quickly and effectively to minimize damage in an accident or disaster. There is even a Smartphone app with access to your plan from anywhere, 24/7.
SERVPRO specializes in commercial property restoration from any disaster. Our technicians will clean and repair your business quickly, so you can get back to serving your customers. Contact us today to set up an Emergency READY program for your business.
Seven Ways To Prevent Mold
It's impossible to create a mold-proof home because mold is all around us. Most of the time, we live peacefully with mold spores all around us. But, if the spores find a damp environment with organic matter to feed on, they can quickly grow into a mold colony. Then, it's only a matter of time before the mold begins to spread. Once that happens, it can be challenging to eradicate.
Mold serves an essential purpose in the environment. It helps break down organic material like leaves and dead plants. They also help create useful things like cheese and penicillin. At the same time, mold can cause serious health issues for people.
You cannot mold-proof your home, and SERVPRO would rather help you prevent mold from invading than wait until there is a mold problem to intervene. There are some easy steps you can take to make your home mold-resistant to avoid the hassle and cost of mold remediation. Here are ten easy ways to create a mold-resistant home.
Seven Ways To Prevent Mold
Prevent Mold and Mildew in the Bathroom
The bathroom is one of the most vulnerable rooms in your home because of all the moisture and humidity. Make sure you have a functioning exhaust fan to remove moisture more quickly and circulate the air.
Mildew and mold can grow easily on fabrics. Spread out damp towels after you use them to help them dry more quickly. Wipe down or squeegee the shower after each use. Also, choose shower curtains that dry quickly and clean easily so that soap residue doesn't build up. Soap scum can foster mold growth.
Ventilation is vital for your home. New homes are more energy-efficient, preventing air leakage, which saves money but can allow moisture to build up inside your home. Routine activities like cooking dinner, showering, and doing laundry can encourage mold to grow in your house.
Make sure your kitchen, laundry room, and other high-moisture areas are well ventilated. Add vents to the outside (not the attic) to appliances like clothes dryers and stoves. Use air conditioners and dehumidifiers to control the moisture levels in your house, especially in humid climates.
Open doors between rooms and move furniture away from the walls to increase circulation around your home. Open your windows on beautiful days with low humidity to let in the fresh air.
Keep Mold Off Your Houseplants
Plants are beautiful and improve the air quality in your home, but the moist soil around the houseplants are the perfect breeding ground for mold colonies. Don't get rid of your beautiful plants! Add a little Taheebo tea to the water when you water them. Taheebo tree oil is resistant to fungi, even in the humid, damp rainforests, and it helps prevent mold from growing in the plant soil. Taheebo tea is readily available in most natural food stores.
Monitor Moisture Levels
It is easy to monitor moisture levels in your home with a hygrometer. The EPA recommends keeping the humidity levels in your home between 30 and 60 percent.
You can also look for telltale signs that there is too much moisture in your home. Condensation on your windows, pipes, and walls is one of the most obvious symptoms of high moisture levels. Dry the surfaces immediately and turn off any humidifiers. Consider putting a dehumidifier in moisture-prone rooms.
Use a Properly Sized Air Conditioner
Make sure your air conditioning unit is the right size for the home and the climate. A central air conditioning unit might cool your home faster, but it won't remove the right amount of moisture from the air. If you live in a climate with high humidity, consider adding a dehumidifier to the central air conditioning system.
You can also raise the temperature in your home so the moisture doesn't build up and cause condensation.
It is also essential to have your air conditioner cleaned and ducts and regularly maintained, including the unit drip pans and drainage lines. Water collects in these dark areas, creating a perfect environment for mold to thrive.
Ventilate Crawl Spaces
Crawl spaces and basements are cool, damp, and dark--the ideal environment for mold colonies to grow. Make sure crawl spaces have the right amount of ventilation and lay down heavy-duty plastic sheeting over dirt to keep moisture from seeping up from the ground.
Clean and Maintain Your Gutters and Roof
One of the easiest ways to prevent rainwater from seeping into your home is to keep your gutters and roof cleaned and maintained. Make sure the gutters and downspouts aren't blocked with leaves and debris. The downspouts should move rainwater at least five feet away from the foundation of your house. This will help keep your basement and crawl spaces dry.
It is important to clean mold properly and as quickly as possible to prevent it from spreading to other areas of your home.
How To Clean Mold and Mildew From Fabrics
It is essential to carefully take the fabric or upholstery outside if possible to prevent mold spores from spreading throughout your home. Once outside, brush as much of the mildew off as possible with a rag or gentle brush. Be sure to wear gloves and a mask to protect your skin and lungs.
Wash the fabric in chlorine bleach and hot water to kill the mildew. If that is not possible, soak the cloth in oxygen bleach and hot water for about 30 minutes, then wash as directed. It is also helpful to allow the fabric to dry in the sunlight.
Vacuum any upholstery that you cannot take outside, then immediately replace the vacuum bag or take the canister outside and clean it thoroughly to remove the mold spores. Mix 1 part ammonia and 1 part cold water and use a clean, white cloth to sponge the mold stains. Blot the stain until all of the solution is absorbed. Repeat the process until the stain is gone, then clean the area with cold water to remove the ammonia. Make sure the upholstery dries completely with a fan, hairdryer (set on cool), or dehumidifier.
How To Clean Mold From Wood
Cleaning small amounts of mold or mildew from wood surfaces is not as difficult as you might think. However, it is important to clean the area thoroughly to prevent it from spreading elsewhere around your home.
Create a solution of equal parts vinegar, soap, and warm water. Use a clean, soft rag to wipe away the mold or mildew. Make sure to scrub between cracks or joints as much as possible. Rinse the area with clean water and dry the wood thoroughly. Use a fan or dehumidifier to make sure there is enough ventilation in the area.
It is important to clean mold with the right methods and equipment to prevent the spores from spreading to other areas of your home. It's easy to clean small amounts of mold growing on hard surfaces with commercial mold and mildew removers. It is crucial to address the cause of the mold.
Because mold spores travel by air, SERVPRO technicians use technology like negative air chambers and HEPA air filters with "air scrubbers" to prevent the mold spores from spreading while they clean and disinfect the area. SERVPRO uses the following process to remediate mold:
- Inspection and assessment: SERVPRO agents inspect your home for mold using a variety of technologies to detect unhealthy mold levels and hidden areas of moisture.
- Containment: Depending on the extent of the mold contamination, SERVPRO agents will use things like negative air chambers to keep mold spores from spreading during the cleanup process. They usually turn off the heat and AC to keep mold spores from spreading through the air ducts.
- Filtration: SERVPRO uses specialized air filtration equipment to clean spores out of the air. HEPA vacuums and "air scrubbers" help bring the mold spores down to normal levels.
- Removing mold and damaged materials: Technicians remove all the mold-infested things like drywall, carpeting, insulation, and other materials from your home. Then, they use antimicrobial and antifungal treatments to kill any remaining mold and prevent new mold colonies from growing.
- Cleaning your belongings: SERVPRO is committed to restoring as much as possible to its original condition, including your belongings like furniture, clothing, curtains, and decorative items. They use a variety of chemicals and cleaning techniques to sanitize everything and remove the moldy smell.
- Restoration: The job isn't complete until the SERVPRO technicians make all the necessary repairs to return your home to its original condition.
If you find mold in your home, contact SERVPRO immediately. Technicians are available 24/7, and they are trained to handle all kinds of mold issues.
Preventing Water Damage While You’re On Vacation
Summer is finally here, and it’s time to head out for family vacations! Unfortunately, water damage is not just a winter concern. Even though you won’t have to worry about frozen pipes, many other things can cause water damage in your home during the hot summer months.
Here are a few things you can do before you head off on vacation to prevent water damage while you are away. Remember, no matter what happens, SERVPRO is always standing by to help with any size disaster.
Begin by making sure all the rain gutters and downspouts are clean. Clogged gutters can allow water to pool on the roof or around the foundation of your home.
While you are cleaning the gutters, check the roof for any loose shingles or damaged flashing that might let heavy rain to seep into your house.
Next, inspect the windows and doors to make sure the seals are tight and the locks work properly. This helps prevent water damage and break-ins. Don’t forget to check and lock the pet door and garage door!
Check your water bill
There are hundreds of feet of water pipes snaking through the walls and floors of your house. Unfortunately, you can’t see them all to ensure there are no leaks. One way to catch leaks early is to keep an eye on your water bill.
If you notice your bill increasing inexplicably or the amount of water consumed doesn’t seem to match previous months, there may be a leak somewhere. Be sure to take other factors into consideration, like hosting summer guests or watering the garden.
One way to keep an eye on your water consumption is to compare your bill for the current month to the bill for the same month one year ago. Unless there was a notable change, (more people live in your house, you added appliances, or the price of water has increased) there should not be a dramatic difference in the amount of water your household consumed.
Check for leaks
Before you leave for vacation, check all the accessible places in your home for leaks. Look under all the sinks for signs of water damage and check the water heater for rusting or cracks.
Ensure none of your faucets (inside or outside) leak or drip. Even small leaks can become big problems quickly, especially if it goes unnoticed for a week or two.
Check all the water hoses in major appliances. Washing machines, refrigerator ice machines, and dishwashers use plastic hoses to connect to the water supplies. Make sure there aren’t any kinks, cracks, or leaks.
For an extra measure of defense, replace the standard plastic water hoses for more durable stainless steel hoses. This is a very cost-effective preventative measure against in-home water damage.
Test your sump pump
Take the time to test your sump pump before you leave for summer vacation. Sump pumps help keep groundwater out of your basement.
Testing your sump pump is easy. Fill the sump pit with water and watch to make sure the pump activates and removes all the water. As it runs, make sure the motor is not making any strange sounds.
If you haven’t already done so, consider installing a backup battery on your sump pump. This will keep your sump pump working even during a power outage!
Turn off your water heater
Not only will this prevent any potential water leaks, turning off your water heater while you are on an extended vacation helps save energy. If your water heater is well maintained, then there is little risk of having an issue, but it will give you peace of mind while you are relaxing at the beach.
If you have a gas water heater, turn the thermostat up or to the “vacation” setting. If you have an electric water heater, simply turn the breaker off to save energy.
Turn off the water main
If there is nobody to check on your house while you are away, consider turning off the water main. If you are leaving for more than a week, turning off the water main prevents water pressure from building up in the pipes.
If you have a clogged or weak area in your plumbing, turning off the water main will prevent the water pressure from building up and causing something to break while you are gone.
After you turn the water main off, turn on all the faucets in your home to let the water drain out.
Have someone check your house
If your vacation plans take you away from home for more than a week, consider asking a neighbor or friend to check on your house every few days. This will give you peace of mind that nothing will go unnoticed for very long.
Asking a trustworthy friend or neighbor to look after your home will give you peace of mind and ensure that any incidents are handled quickly. Leave your insurance and SERVPRO information in the unlikely event something goes wrong and your friend needs to call for help.
Taking these easy steps before you leave for vacation will prevent water damage year-round and allow you to relax and thoroughly enjoy your holiday.
BONUS Two fire prevention steps
It is equally important to prevent fire damage while you are away on vacation.
Unplug electronics: Before you leave, unplug all the electronic devices. Not only will this save electricity, but it also reduces the risk of an electrical fire. Don’t just disconnect cables from electronics; unplug the cords and power strips from the wall outlets.
Check your smoke detectors: While you are checking for water leaks, make sure all your smoke detectors are in good working order. Consider installing smart smoke detectors that alert your home security system or send a notification to your phone if something goes wrong.
How to Restore Your Property After Fire Damage
How to Restore Your Property After Fire Damage
As a homeowner, there is no shortage of concerns to keep at the front of your mind. When a serious disaster such as a fire causes damage to your home, it's important to act quickly and correctly. Because dealing with fire damage is often a distressing event, it's crucial that you stay informed so that you know how to deal with a fire if one should occur. Follow our simple tips and you'll know what to do if you ever need to confront fire damage repair and restoration.
First and foremost, any homeowner who has had a fire should detail the scale and harm of any damage incurred. Cleaning the affected areas of any burned objects or ash can provide a clearer picture of what damage was caused to the home itself. It's a good idea to log everything and include detailed photographs of damage before you begin the restoration process. This way you have evidence to consult should you have a lapse in memory.
Next you should sort any undamaged items. The fire department should be able to limit damage if detection is able to provide a warning 10 to 15 minutes before of the end of the incipient stage, regardless of suppression system activation or the location of the fire. But every fire is different, and you can never be too certain. Always create a clear space so that damage is easily identifiable throughout the repair and restoration process. It's always prudent to contact your insurance company, as an experienced agent can explain the relevant points of your coverage policy. Additionally, your agent should have the resources to get you started on the repair and restoration process.
As a related consequence, smoke damage should also be considered as you clean and document areas of the home affected by fire. Soot and smoke damage can be more difficult to identify and clean, as its properties are much more subtle and potentially evasive when compared to damage caused by flames. A significant portion of the restoration process is devoted to revealing smoke damage and restoring the property through the removal of odors and other unseen damages.
Once you've identified the scale and amount of damage, cleaned the space, and spoken to your insurance company to determine the coverage offered by your policy, you can move onto fire damage repair and restoration. It's wise to hire a trustworthy company that has lots of experience dealing with fire damage, as it is a specific field and hiring lackluster help will only lead to further problems down the road. A reputable company will be able to decide on a course of action. It's often nearly impossible for the average homeowner to determine whether it's best to restore or replace. For these reasons, a good fire damage repair and restoration service is there to guide you through the difficulties of handling fire damage in your property.
Preventing Storm Water Damage
Water damage is costly and often difficult to clean up. While SERVPRO is available 24/7 to respond to any water damage situation, we prefer that you not have water damage at all.
Here are eight steps you can take to prevent water damage from storms or flooding in your home or business.
1. Clean your drainage systems regularly.
This may seem simple and obvious, but clogged gutters and drain spouts allow water to pool around the foundation of your home or business. Make a habit of cleaning the gutters at least twice per year and inspect the drainage system. Replace or repair any cracked or damaged parts that might allow water to collect or leak near your home.
If your property has drainage problems, consider installing a French drains system. They allow water to move away from your home or business via a ditch filled with gravel or rock and perforated pipes. This helps the water disburse over a wider area and prevent it from pooling near the foundation.
2. Inspect your roof.
Schedule an annual roof inspection. It’s a good idea to have this done each spring to assess any damage done over the winter but before the big summer storms roll in. Catching any issues early will go a long way to prevent rain and wind damage.
3. Assess your landscaping.
A well-planned landscaping design will help guide water away from the foundation of your home or commercial building. Make sure the ground slopes away from the foundation.
Experts recommend a slope of ¼ inch per foot going away from your home. This allows gravity to work in your favor, pulling the water away from the foundation. If necessary, add some fresh soil to make sure you have this grade.
During a small storm, go outside and observe how the water flows through your property. Note any areas where water is collecting or places where rainwater is running toward the foundation. If it would be helpful, mark the “problem” areas with little construction flags so you can address these landscaping issues later.
4. Have sewers and septic systems checked.
If the groundwater rises too high, it can impact the effectiveness of sewer and septic systems. In more extreme cases, it can lead to sewer backup or waste leeching to the surface or back into the house. Make sure these systems are inspected regularly.
5. Inspect your foundation.
The most common cause of basement flooding is cracks in the foundation that allow water to seep in during a storm. Have your basement and foundation inspected regularly and repair any cracks as quickly as possible. Some cracks can be repaired easily with caulking or similar products.
Make sure any windows in your basement are in good shape. The wood frame around a window can rot or deteriorate over time, allowing water into the basement. Aluminum or vinyl windows tend to last longer than wood.
6. Consider a sump pump.
If your basement or crawlspace floods regularly, consider installing a sump pump. These handy little gadgets are installed under the floor in your basement or crawl space to collect groundwater and redirect it away from your home before it can cause problems.
If your crawl space or basement has belowground moisture, you should consider a sump pump as a “first line of defense” against flooding. The American Society of Home Inspectors says more than 60% of homes are prime candidates for sump pumps due to ground moisture. You should always have a sump pump if your home is located in a flood zone.
If you have a sump pump, make sure to have it serviced to keep it running at tip-top shape. Make sure the back-up battery works, so the pump will continue running if you lose power. If your pump does not have a backup battery, many plumbers can easily install one.
7. Protect your products and information.
Whether you own a home or business, you have valuable property, products, and documents. Make sure critical paperwork is backed up electronically and store important documents in a waterproof file cabinet or safe that will protect them from fire, water, and smoke damage.
Keep non-waterproof items above floor level or in waterproof containers to avoid potential water damage. Store valuable items on high, stable shelves or stacked wooden pallets.
8. Check your trees.
Make sure there are no dead or diseased trees on your property. These trees may not be able to endure a major storm and come crashing down. Remove any precarious tree branches that might damage your home or power lines if they break.
Even though most insurance policies cover damage from falling trees, prevention is far easier and safer.
Preparing for a coming storm.
If you know a major storm is looming, there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself and your property.
If you know a major storm is on the way, unplug appliances or use surge protectors. This will protect your electronics and help prevent electrical fires.
Secure outdoor areas.
In strong winds, outdoor furniture can become dangerous flying objects. A strong gust of wind can toss a patio chair or even a grill, breaking a sliding glass door or causing some other damage. Bring outdoor furniture in and anchor heavy objects.
If you live in a low-lying or flood-prone area, consider putting up floodgates, sandbags, tarps, and other “dry flood protection” materials. These will help keep floodwaters out of your home or business.
Take photos for the insurance company.
“Before” photos are very helpful in filing an insurance claim and throughout the recovery process. “Before and after” photos, video, and documents make it easier for agents to assess the full extent of the damage.
Create an emergency response plan and kit.
Whether you have a family and home or a business and commercial property, an emergency response plan allows everyone to know how to react in an emergency.
Write down important phone numbers for family, friends, and important business contacts. Even if you have the numbers memorized, it’s helpful not to need to rely on your recall in a stressful situation.
Pack an emergency supply kit that includes all the food, water, and supplies you might need to survive up to 72 hours on your own. Store your kit in an easy-to-carry container like a plastic bin or duffle bag, and make sure everyone knows where it is.
Dealing with Water Damage in Your Home
A water emergency can happen at any time and often without warning. Recovering from a water emergency, and the water damage left behind can be overwhelming and scary, thankfully, there are plenty of ways for you to recover from such an event and restore your home.
A water emergency can be anything from your basement flooding due to a broken, cracked or clogged pipe, improper sealing on the flooring or walls, or debris in your gutters to a disaster-related event like flash flooding. In the last five years alone flash floods and floods, in general, have been experienced in all 50 states. It is becoming more and more common for homeowners to experience flooding related to natural disasters than in previous years. Since flooding and water emergencies are common, it is important to know how to deal with flood damage, water removal, and water cleanup to successfully restore your home after receiving water damages.
How to Deal with Water Damage and Water Removal
When a flood or water emergency impacts your home, there are many things to take into consideration. For example, water can contain mud, bacteria, sewage, and other toxins that can contaminate your floors and belongings. This is why it is important to deal with the water removal and water cleanup as soon as possible following a flood event. It is imperative to start the water removal process as soon as you can safely enter your home or access the flooded part of the building. The safest and quickest way to deal with water removal and the cleanup is to contact a professional. However, you can assist in the process by removing excess water. This can be done with the use of a mop or towels to soak up any of the remaining water. You can also bring in large fans to assist with drying the area out and removing any furniture or rugs from that area. Essentially, you want to remove any objects from the impacted area and place fans or turn on the air conditioning to assist in the process. You should also keep mold damage in mind as you start restoring your home.
Restoring Your Home after Water Damage
Once your home has dried out you will want to keep an eye out for mold. Mold infestations are common after flooding, and you can often identify them just by observing the area that was impacted and received water damage. Keeping the area cool and dry can help reduce the likelihood of a mold infestation, and the restoration process also helps with mold remediation. Here are a few things to keep in mind when restoring your home after water damage. The restoration process helps improve your living space by preventing mold and mildew; it also allows you to preserve your home’s value by cleaning and restoring the home quicker and often to a better state than it was previously. Many homeowners explore selling their homes after water damages, or flooding occurs, but many find this difficult due to the state of the home, which is why restoring it is a great option!
When your home suffers water damage, it can be difficult, and when it comes to water damage repair, it can be hard to know where to start. Finding a professional water damage repair and restoration business in your area can make a huge difference in recovering from water emergencies. The benefits include: stopping further damage; ensuring a proper cleanup; reducing your losses and saving you time and money.
What to do When Water Damage Happens
It’s horribly inconvenient to have your daily life disrupted by water damage. Whether it’s a pipe burst, a flood, a slow leak from the ice machine, or your little tyke decided to shove his favorite stuffie down the toilet, water damage can be costly and stressful. SERVPRO of Percy Priest / Hickory Hollow has experienced professionals who are equipped to help you deal with even the worst water damage in an organized, thorough manner.
We hope you never have to call us to restore water-damaged property; but if you do, this guide will help you understand the different classes of water damage, first steps to take, and what to expect during the cleanup process.
What to do first when you find water damage
No matter how much water damage your home or business suffers, it’s important to act quickly and take the right steps to prevent further damage.
Before you do anything, make sure any water sources that may be leaking are turned off. You don’t want water to continue leaking, causing more damage. Next, turn off the electricity in the impacted area. Electrical shocks and similar accidents are surprisingly common in water damage situations because people are so concerned about addressing the water issue that they forget about other dangers.
Next, identify the class of damage and the type of water involved. Only licensed professionals can officially identify the “class” of water damage your property has suffered. Knowing this information is important, as it will determine certain steps in the cleanup process and make sure you cover all the proper safety measures.
What are the classes of water damage?
There are four classes of water damage and three types of water that may be involved.
Class 1 Cleanup: This is one of the smallest water damage situations and the simplest to clean. The impact is confined to a small area and the water did not sit for very long, so very little moisture seeped into the flooring or other materials.
The cleanup process can be as easy as mopping up as much water as possible. Circulate fresh air and get fans and dehumidifiers in the room to make sure everything dries thoroughly to prevent mold and mildew from growing. Quickly remove furniture, area rugs, or anything that needs professional cleaning and throw away anything that is unsalvageable.
Class 2 Cleanup: This level of damage usually impacts an entire room, damaging carpets and padding, subfloors or plywood, and even concrete. Moisture may have crept up to 24 inches up the walls, damaging structural wood, drywall, insulation, and other materials.
Class 2 water damage situations can quickly deteriorate so it is important to dry the area as quickly as possible by circulating fresh air and using dehumidifiers and fans. This will help prevent mold and microorganisms from growing.
It will be difficult to thoroughly dry the area without professional equipment and expertise. With this level of saturation, surfaces often feel dry to the touch but still have water trapped deep inside. That trapped water can cause mold and structural problems down the road if not properly addressed.
Class 3 Cleanup: This is perhaps the most serious level of water damage. A significant roof leak, a pipe burst, or a catastrophic failure of an upstairs appliance that leaks hundreds of gallons of water is often the cause. Damage usually impacts the ceiling to subfloor and practically everything is saturated.
Because of the extent of the damage in a Class 3 cleanup, it is wise to avoid the area until professional help arrives. Take extra safety precautions when entering the area. Wear gloves, goggles and a respirator to protect you from exposure to microorganisms, mold, and other contaminants.
Class 4 Cleanup: This level of water damage often includes standing water that can only be removed with special equipment. Standing water quickly grows bacteria and other microorganisms that pose health threats and can cause further damage beneath the surface.
Class 4 cleanup is perhaps the most extensive and involved cleanup and restoration process. After the standing water is removed, the drying process can begin. Materials like wood, brick, or concrete can trap water deep in the pores. It takes special equipment to thoroughly dry these materials and spaces.
The type of water that caused the damage matters
There are three categories of water that can cause damage to your home or business. The type of water that causes the damage significantly impacts the cleanup process.
Category 1 water is potable drinking water or safe water. It does not pose any threat to people or animals and comes from “clean water supplies” like broken pipes, overflowing sinks, and some broken appliances.
Category 1 water is the easiest to clean up because it does not pose an immediate health risk or contain potentially harmful bacteria.
Category 2 water is also called “grey water”. It contains large amounts of chemical, biological, or physical contaminants. Grey water can cause illnesses and infections because of the microorganisms, bacteria, or viruses in it.
Broken toilets, sump pumps, water leaking from dishwashers or washing machines are the most common causes of grey water damage. While Category 2 water does not contain sewage or seawater, it is important to clean the affected area cautiously and use the proper chemicals.
Category 3 water is known as “black water” and it poses the greatest health risk to animals and people. It contains harmful bacteria, sewage, and other contaminants. Black water often comes from seawater, river water, backed up sewage lines, and similar sources. Back-flow from toilets, sewage pipe bursts, or large-scale floods are the most frequent causes of water damage by black water.
Professionals must take extra precautions when cleaning black water damage as it can cause serious illness and infection. It is important to take the proper safety precautions and use the right chemicals and cleaning methods to restore everything safely.
Time, temperature, and other factors can cause the water-damaged area to deteriorate. Even clean category 1 water can quickly become a category 2 situation if left untreated. A category 2 water leak can quickly become a serious health hazard if not cleaned properly.
Call the professionals
SERVPRO has certified experts and specialized equipment to handle any water damage situation. They use sensors and other equipment to identify the water migration line and all the materials that were impacted by the water. The sensors also help them find where the water may still be “bound” in materials—even where the surface feels dry!
Our technicians are trained and equipped to handle water restoration, carpet and upholstery cleaning, mold mitigation, and drying techniques to help minimize property loss after water damage. And we’re available 24 /7.
Our first step on the scene is to perform a detailed inspection of your home or property, including a damage assessment. We determine the scope of damage and develop a plan of action.
Next, we check for any sources of moisture to make sure all the potential water leaks are stopped. Then we check for contaminated water to ensure everyone’s safety. Identifying the type of water and classification of water damage is important to make sure your home or property is fully cleaned and restored.
Depending on the amount of water that needs to be removed, SERVPRO technicians will use pumps and wet/dry vacuums to clean up any excess water. Carpets, padding, and other materials that easily hold water are inspected and removed if necessary.
SERVPRO technicians use infrared cameras to find “hidden” water behind walls, ceilings, and in floors. Industrial-grade dryers and dehumidifiers help us remove all the water from the area. Moisture detectors, hygrometers, and other devices measure the extent of the damage and ensure everything is fully dried.
We hope you’ll never have to call us to restore water-damaged property, but if you do you’ll know what to expect and be equipped with the right information.
Home Damage: Why Restoration is Best
While you don't want to ever have to deal with any type of fire or water damage, the reality is this: 14,000 people are affected by water damage emergencies in the home or workplace daily. Fire damage restoration and water damage repair are necessary to help restore a home to its original condition again. Learn why restoring a home is better than starting all over again or ignoring the situation in the first place.
You Protect What Healthy Foundation You Have
Having a healthy foundation will help preserve your home when you encounter water emergencies or smoke damage. Did you know that it only takes two days for mold to start to set in when you get moisture damage in the home, and that the longer things stay wet, the more likely they are to be permanently damaged?
This is why getting your home restored after any type of fire or water damage is so important. You need to preserve as much of your home's foundation as possible, allowing yourself to keep as much of your expensive investment intact as you can.
You Keep Your Family Safe
When you have smoke damage restoration done on your home, you improve the air quality of your living space and make your house easier to be in. Water damage restoration prevents mold and mildew from building up, which is beneficial in its own way as well. You want to keep your family safe by creating a healthy environment for them following a home disaster.
You Preserve Your Home's Value
Any lingering damage to your home will cause the value of your property to drop dramatically. Mold damage and warped wood, soot-stained walls, peeling paint, and other damages caused by smoke and water will make your home not only lose value, but become an expensive investment when you do decide to finally fix up what has been damaged. In getting fire damage restoration and other needs completed as soon as they occur, you help keep your home's value stronger than ever.
If you have smoke, water, or another type of home disaster occur, seek professional services right away. Your home remediation specialist will give you the assistance you need to make your home sound and livable again.
Could You Have Mold Damage in Your Home? What To Look For and What To Do
When water has come in to your home, caused by any number of things – from what may seem like a small problem with persistent moisture from a slow leak or excessive condensation to broken pipes, toilet overflows, appliance failure such as the washer, dishwasher, or water heater, roof leaks, or flood waters from a natural disaster— mold can begin growing in as little as 48-72 hours.
How do you know if you have a mold problem? What do you do if mold is found? Are there precautions one should take? Read on as we answer your mold questions.
Mold: What is it?
Mold is a naturally occurring organism that is found anywhere there is oxygen. It is a type of fungus and thrives in moist environments. In nature, molds play an important role in helping break down organic material like leaves, fallen trees, and the like. How many different species of mold there are is actually unknown, but experts estimate there are between tens of thousands to more than three hundred thousand. Cladosporium, penicillium, alternaria, and aspergillus are the most commonly found mold species in indoor mold situations.
Mold reproduces by releasing spores. Mold spores are microscopic particles, unable to bee seen without a microscope. Many types of mold spores are easily blown around, travelling through the air, settling and stirring with the wind. Other types are “sticky” and find their way by contact, sticking to a surface and transferring off somewhere else.
Spores can withstand extreme drought, extreme heat, and cold; they can survive in the spore state for years. These mold spores come into our homes through windows and doors, heating or air conditioning systems, and even traveling in on your clothing, shoes, or pets’ fur.
Like pollen and dust, when these spores are still “dry”, they for the most part they get vacuumed up or washed away when you clean house (make no mistake,they are still present, however in small, natural amounts.). They become problematic when they meet moisture indoors for an extended period of time.
Mold thrives in moist conditions and will begin growing when it comes in contact with moisture, and when in your home, it will begin “digesting” whatever it is that is wet that it has landed on – drywall, carpet, wood, even fabric.
What to do – and not do if you suspect mold damage
When you have water damage, if it hasn’t been dried out quickly and thoroughly by a professional, or if the source of the water hasn’t been found and repaired, it is very likely that you will develop mold, and subsequent mold damage.
Mold can cause damage to your property and pose potential health risks if not taken care of thoroughly and professionally. SERVPRO of Percy Priest/Hickory Hollow offers mold remediation services, and has professionals on staff with the proper training and equipment to safely and effectively handle mold issues. Until a mold remediation expert arrives, some safety precautions should be taken. Here are some basic “do’s and don’ts” for suspected mold issues:
- DO be aware of “smells” after a water damage event. Any “musty” “old” “like dirt” or “like rot.” smells can mean mold is present.
- DO keep the humidity inside your home at about 45% for your comfort (too dry can be uncomfortable) and inhibiting mold growth (too wet, over 50%, makes conditions ideal for mold growth.)
- DO keep clear of the mold affected area. Depending on the severity, it may be wise to stay somewhere else until remediation is complete – especially if you have children, elderly, immune compromised, or folks with respiratory trouble.
- DO shut down your air conditioner, heater, and any ventilation fans.
- DO close the space off from the rest of your dwelling, if at all possible.
- DO call SERVPRO of Percy Priest/Hickory Hollow as soon as you suspect a problem.
- DON’T attempt to dry out an area affected by mold on your own.
- DON’T disturb the mold affected area or move any furniture/items that are in the area.
- DON’T attempt to clean the mold affected area yourself.
If you think you have a potential mold problem in your home, call the experts right away. SERVPRO of Percy Priest/Hickory Hollow have experts at the ready to help with any of your mold remediation needs.
What Should You Do When Your Basement Floods?
It's every homeowner's worst nightmare: basement flooding. Not only can flood damage be devastating on an emotional level, but it's also becoming a more common scenario for American families to experience. During the last five years, all 50 states have experienced floods or flash floods. In order to reduce the impact of water damage, it's important to know exactly what to do if and when your basement floods. That way, you can control the situation as much as possible and seek out the emergency services you need right away. Here's a brief checklist that you can follow if flood warnings turn out to hold water.
- Put Safety First: Before you do anything else or think about water cleanup, you'll need to put safety first and foremost. That means you'll want to shut off all power (including both gas and electricity) to your home. If you are unable to access the circuit breaker or do not know how to turn off the power, you'll want to call your electrician to help you. Do not enter a basement that's flooded until the power is shut off and you have confirmation it's safe.
- Get Moving: Once you know your basement is safe to answer, you'll be able to start the water cleanup process. While you may be able to move out and save certain items, keep in mind that the longer your belongings are exposed to standing water, the less likely it will be that the environment will be a sanitary one for you to be in. You should always wear gloves, boots, and a protective mask when in your flooded basement. If you can safely move these items to a place where they can dry out, you may be able to salvage at least some of the items you might otherwise lose. However, you should not attempt to save any appliances that have been exposed to water, as these will likely be irreparably damaged.
- Contact the Professionals: Although there are some homeowners who might assume that they can handle water cleanup on their own, the truth is that any extensive flooding requires help from professional emergency services. Whether the flooding is the result of a natural disaster or a burst pipe, it's important to have the water cleaned up as efficiently as possible. Your DIY methods may simply not cut it -- and you may not even realize you've sustained water damage or are experiencing mold growth until much later. If you call the experts from the start, you'll be able to have the problem cleaned up and the damage restored with urgency. Ultimately, that means you can beat the flood at its own game.
Although you can take steps to minimize the effects of a flood, you may be proactive and still require emergency services to mitigate flood damage after the fact. Whether you tried to prevent this damage or the flooding caught you by complete surprise, we're here to help. Contact us right away in the event of a flood and we'll be there -- 24 hours a day, seven days a week.