Health and Safety: Top Concerns of Water Damage
Preparation is key in responding to water damage. If you’ve ever called a restoration company about water damage mitigation, you’ll remember that a number of questions were asked over the phone. Those questions are designed to better prepare crews and technicians for the scene they’re walking into. They must make sure they have any necessary safety equipment that would be required for them to do their jobs properly. You’ll also be asked in detail about the source of the water damage or where it originated from. Water is broken down into three categories of contamination in our industry. Each one must be handled slightly different than the others and requires varying degrees of safety equipment.
Category 1 – Water that originates from a sanitary source and does not pose substantial harm to humans. Some examples of Category 1 water could be: broken/leaking water supply lines, tub or sink overflows with no contaminants, appliance malfunctions involving water supply lines, melting ice or snow, falling rainwater, broken toilet tanks and toilet bowls that do not contain contaminants or additives. However, once clean water leaves its exit point, it is possible that it can become contaminated by contacting other surfaces or materials such as: building materials, systems and contents or soils. Wearing gloves and/or rubber shoes is advised when cleaning category 1 water.
Category 2 – Water that contains a significant level of contamination and has the potential to cause discomfort or sickness if consumed by or exposed to humans. This category can contain potentially unsafe levels of microorganisms or nutrients for microorganisms, organic or inorganic matter. This could include: discharge from dishwashers or washing machines, overflows from washing machines, overflows from toilet bowls, broken aquariums and punctured water beds. It is important to take moderate safety precautions when handling water of this nature. Gloves and rubber shoes as well as eye protection and in some cases full body coverage is necessary.
Category 3 – Water that is highly contaminated and can contain pathogenic, toxigenic or other harmful agents. Elderly persons, those under age two and anyone that has a compromised immune system, respiratory problems or allergies should not occupy the job site until the building is safe. Examples of category 3 water include: sewage, all forms of sea water, ground surface water and rising water from rivers or streams, and other contaminated water entering or affecting indoor spaces. Most organizations require that any personnel that encounters this category of water use proper protective equipment to include: splash goggles, rubber gloves, boots, coveralls and a respirator.
Water damage remediation is not a DIY project, trained professionals are the only ones who should attempt to dry out or remove affected materials following a water loss. Failure to do so can result in the growth of mold as well as numerous other harmful organisms. If you’ve experienced water damage in your home or business, call SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork!
6 Tips to Prevent Water Damage This Winter
As temperatures fall to their lowest this time of year it’s important that we make homeowners and business owners in the Dutch Fork area aware of the dangers that winter poses on your home or office. We layer on clothing and break out our thick socks but have you taken precautions to be sure that your homes and offices will not be affected by the chill in the air?
A recent study performed by the Insurance Information institute stated that water damage accounts for almost half of all property damage claims. They found that 57% of homeowners who have experienced a water leak claim more than $5,000 on clean-up costs and around 15% spent $20,000 or more. These were all individuals with homeowners insurance policies that covered their claims. If you’re unsure what type of coverage you have involving water and storm damage, give your agent a call and discuss your policy before something happens!
We’ve developed a list of 6 simple ways to help protect your biggest asset:
- Install a water detection device – a minor water leak can cause massive amounts of damage if undetected. A small water supply line to an appliance has the ability to rack up thousands of dollars in damage because it goes unnoticed and spreads water over a vast area. A water detection device is a simple, easily installed device that can help detect moisture in areas you might not frequent. Installing one near water heaters, behind or under washing machines and around appliances that use water is a great way to detect water quickly and early on as to prevent further damage. Some models send alerts to your phone if moisture is detected or if there is an increase in the amount of water being used in your home.
- Turn off main water supply – if you’re leaving town or traveling, even for short periods of time, you can eliminate the possibility of returning to a flooded home. Not sure how to do this? Call your water company and they’ll walk you through the correct way to turn the water off at your residence.
- Check your water supply lines regularly – Just like an annual checkup at the doctor, your home deserves to be looked over regularly! Check water supply lines in your fridge, dishwasher, washing machine and any other appliance that may have a water supply flowing. Cracks, wear and tear and visible molding are indicators that they should be replaced. Most replacements can be picked up at your local hardware store and are far more inexpensive than cleaning up water damaged surfaces.
- Clean gutters and inspect your roof – leaves and debris tend to hold on to water and can cause stress on the structure of your roof. They can also clog your gutters and direct the flow of water down the side of your home/office or under the roof. Replace any damaged or missing shingles that might allow water to seep in.
- Protect your pipes – insulate accessible pipes with pipe insulation materials. Attics and crawl spaces that are accessible should be looked over to see if there are any exposed to the air. Purchase a spigot insulator for any water sources on the exterior of your home.
- Let a faucet drip – on nights when temperatures are expected to drop below freezing, turn a sink faucet on to allow water to lightly flow. This allows the water to move through the pipes in your home which lowers the risk of freezing. Keep cabinet or closet doors open to allow the warm air in your home to insulate the pipes under sinks and around water heaters.
Finding time to take these simple steps becomes much easier when you consider the damage and time it takes to restore your home following water damage. If you’ve experienced a water loss this winter be sure to call SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork.
SERVPRO Storm Response Team
Did you know that each SERVPRO Franchise has the opportunity to leave their designated regions to assist in the event of a catastrophic storm? By joining the SERVPRO Storm Response Team, each participating franchise sends a crew to the affected areas to assist in high volume storm losses. The idea behind this operation is to reduce the amount of time homeowners and business owners are displaced or working/living in unsafe conditions. If residents of communities affected by catastrophic storms depended solely on the local mitigation services, it’s likely they would wait months even years to have their structures restored.
Working together as a Storm Response Team also allows multiple franchises to team up and accomplish jobs even faster. During Hurricane Florence our crews worked alongside multiple others to remove water and dry out an elementary school on the coast of North Carolina. Because of the teamwork structure set up by this program the school was completed in just three days! We’re proud members of this program and hope to continue to help those in need. The SERVPRO Storm Response Team is proud to make it “Like it never even happened.”
Spruce Up Your Business!
Most offices, stores and other businesses have a cleaning crew or janitorial staff. Some even utilize internal employees to complete daily cleaning tasks. But sometimes a daily sweeping and mopping isn’t as effective as we would like. A more thorough and time consuming clean is necessary for spaces with high traffic. SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork not only helps you when you’re in need of fire, water or mold mitigation – we can bust dirt, dust and grime! Our technicians recently finished a four-phase cleaning regiment for an office building that surpasses 100,000 sq ft. They worked outside of the business operating hours to clean every surface in and around work spaces, lobbies, bathrooms and kitchen areas.
These areas don’t get dirty because of negligence, the janitorial staff is quite diligent! Because of the size of the building and the amount of work space, it’s often difficult to keep up with a small cleaning staff working on limited time. Our staff cleaned dust that could not be reached without special lifts, scrubbed cubicle walls and cleaned carpeted surfaces using portable extractors.
There is never a bad time to spruce up your office or business, with the holidays around the corner you want those shelves and displays looking their best!
For a free estimate on a deep clean call SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork at 803-749-0178
Call SERVPRO - You'll Be Glad You Did!
When you place a call to SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork you can be sure to expect a few things: friendly service, a sense of understanding, and reassurance. We strive to maintain our reputation as the trusted leader in the restoration industry! No matter if you discovered our franchise during your own online search or at the recommendation of a friend or insurance agent, we pledge to deliver the most positive experience possible.
During your initial contact you’ll be asked a series of questions to paint a picture of the situation you see on your end of the phone. These questions give us a better idea of what our technicians will need to prepare for. That could mean special equipment, protective gear or paperwork. The stress of dealing with any type of loss in your home can take its toll on you, and we certainly don’t expect you to have all of the answers at that time. If you’re able to talk through the situation in your home we ask you the following:
- Your name and address at which loss has occurred
- The type of loss as well as the cause
- When the loss occurred
- Number of rooms or areas that were affected
- If water and electricity are currently available in the property
- Insurance claim number if a claim has been filed
We understand that answering a number of questions is challenging when your focus is on returning your home or business to its normal condition. Our representatives are ready to help walk you through step-by-step all the while reassuring you that calling SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork was the right decision!
If you're not always prepared, are you prepared at all?
Pay close attention to storm warnings - keep new channels on and weather apps up to date as they issue notifications for your area.
Even though we live a safe distance from the coast, there is a chance of a tropical storm or hurricane making its way to the Chapin, SC. In the event that a powerful storm does make it to the Midlands of South Carolina, the last thing you want to think about is where you put that box of batteries or whether you have enough food for you and your family. The SERVPRO family recommends preparing for situations that might leave you without power, water and even shelter. To prep for any situation and the aftermath review these top tips:
- Put Together an Emergency Kit
Evacuation orders can be issued at any time - If you’re required or even voluntarily choose to leave your home in a hurry, you'll want some necessities handy. Keep the following supplies, recommended by FEMA, in a portable container in the area of your house where you'll take shelter:
- Three days' worth of food (nonperishable)
- Water (at least a gallon per family member)
- Battery powered (or hand crank) flashlights and radio
- Extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Trash bags and duct tape, along with a dust mask
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Regional maps
- Cell phone with chargers, inverter, or solar charger
- Moist towelettes and any personal sanitation or specific family needs, like pet supplies
- Prescription medication along with some generics in case they’re needed
(For additional recommendations, be sure to check out ready.gov)
We also suggest having smaller versions of your kit stocked with a few necessities like walking shoes, snacks, and a flashlight at work. In general, you'll also need enough cash on hand for five days of basic needs (gas and food), but any amount of ready money will help if ATMs are down.
Once you have your supplies together, it pays to go through them at least once a year too, to weed out expired food and batteries.
- Make an Action Plan
When things get chaotic, you want to make sure that every family member knows what to do. We suggest designating two meeting places (one close by and one a little further away in your neighborhood) and hang a map with the spots marked near your emergency kit.
It also pays to have important contacts written down if the power goes out and there's nowhere to charge your cell phone. Make a mini contact list — ready.gov has templates you can print out — with important numbers that everyone can stow in their wallets. Leave a copy in your emergency kit, too. Establish a plan for checking in with relatives in case local lines get jammed. Text messages will often go through, even when phone lines are clogged.
- Prep Your Home
If the power goes out and you have time, unplug appliances and electronics and turn off air conditioners, whether you stay or go. This will prevent damage when the electricity surges back on. Leave one lamp on so you'll know when the power's back.
How you store food can also make a difference when it comes to salvaging items afterwards, according to the FSIS. If there's a chance of flooding, be sure to store dry goods in waterproof containers high enough that they will be safely out of the way of contaminated water.
Grouping food together in the freezer can help it stay colder longer in the case of a power outage. If you have advanced warning, freeze any items you don't need right away, like leftovers, milk, and fresh meat and poultry to keep them at a safe temperature longer and stock your freezer with as much ice as you can fit. Coolers stocked with ice can also be helpful if the power is out for more than four hours.
Though you'll want to minimize the amount you open and close your refrigerator door once the power goes out, FSIS recommends keeping an appliance thermometer in your fridge and freezer to help you determine if food is safe to eat. The refrigerator temperature should be lower than 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer temperature should be below zero degrees Fahrenheit.
After the Emergency
Coming home after a major disaster can be daunting. Call SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork to help you in the event your home is affected. NEVER enter a home that has been struck by heavy debris or fallen trees.
Renting? Make Sure You're Covered.
Owning rental property can be a very lucrative investment. If you’re lucky you might even make a small fortune with very little effort. But rental properties can also drain you, physically and financially. Allowing tenants to rent your property for any period of time should be done with great caution. Contacting references, performing credit checks and verifying the identity of those applying and planning to live in your investments, are simple yet critical steps you should consider taking if you own and manage rental properties.
In your own home, if something goes wrong, you’re able to respond in the way that you see fit. Say a pipe bursts, you know (hopefully) where your main water shut-off valve is and you’re able to stop further damage from occurring. In rental properties this is not always the case. This brings us to the importance of INSURANCE! As an organization that works daily with insurance adjusters, agents and homeowners filing claims with their homeowners’ policies, we see both sides of the industry and we understand the frustration when finding out your coverage is not what you had hoped for.
Rental property insurance should be one of the most researched decisions you make in beginning your rental investment venture. If you’ve convinced yourself that nothing will go wrong, nothing will break and surely nobody will vandalize your property, think again. It will inevitably happen, and likely when you’re least prepared or unable to get to the home in time to help the tenants. Review your policy carefully with your agent to ensure that all aspects of the property have coverage, this may take some time but will surely save you a headache in the event of a disaster.
It would also be wise to promote or even require that your tenants have a renters insurance policy. This covers their personal belongings, in most policies. Young and inexperienced renters often assume that your insurance covers their furniture, electronics, etc. Sadly, this is not the case and they face hardship when trying to replace what might have been damaged in a fire, water or mold situation.
As always, if you do find yourself with water, fire, mold or vandalism in your rental property – give SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork a call (803) 749-0178
Protecting Your Business After A Fire
This warehouse experienced a fire stemming from an ice machine. All contents, walls and ceilings were cleaned and burned materials removed.
If your Columbia, SC business has experienced a fire it’s likely that you’re unsure how to proceed. The two most important steps of restoring any building that has experienced fire damage, no matter how large or small the fire, are:
- Protecting the property
- Cleaning affected areas/materials
First – Call Your Insurance Agent
One of the first calls you should make (after 911 of course) should be to your insurance agent. They can help you determine if you should file a claim or pay out of pocket for the steps necessary to restore your business. If the fire was small, let’s say a break room kitchen fire or something similar, you very well could be better off not filing a claim against your insurance. Your agent may also recommend a restoration service they know and trust to help you with the cleanup process while protecting your property from further harm.
Second – Contact a Restoration Service
Soot and smoke are extremely difficult to clean without the proper knowledge and equipment to do so. We always recommend calling a professional fire restoration service to handle this. SERVPRO of the Dutch Fork offers board-up services to secure your property and keep unwanted guests and animals out. We also offer tarping services if damage has occurred to the roof. This prevents water from gaining access to the space and causing further damage.
If water was used to extinguish the fire you may also be facing water damage, this requires a restoration company also. If the water damage is left untreated, you’ll likely be facing issues with mold down the road.
Has your business suffered fire damage? Call SERVPRO of the Dutch Fork, the trusted leader in the restoration industry for fire damage restoration.
Testing For Mold In Commercial Properties
As a business owner there are often times when you’d like to mutter four-letter words. Things go wrong, items get broken, money gets spent. One four-letter word we hope you never have to say, is MOLD! While fairly simple to prevent, it is often challenging to remove. Mold can cause a number of health issues to those who come in contact with it regularly. Some business owners can be shut down indefinitely if mold is discovered in their facilities.
Mold is not always green, fuzzy and highly visible. In fact, if it is visible, it’s very likely that the surface behind or under the location you’ve spotted it, is much worse. By calling SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork to come inspect your property you could be saving yourself thousands of dollars in lost revenue and repairs. We look for areas that have unusual moisture levels, soggy floors and improper ventilation. Since 1998 SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork has been blasting mold from crawl spaces, attics and every other surface brave enough to let it grow. Trusting our expertise can save you a few four-letter words.
When You Should Test For Mold:
- If your building has experienced flooding, leaking or sewage back-up
- If your building has a roof leak, areas that feel damp, or HVAC issues
- If you have sported mold on any surface
- If you are can smell foul or musty odors
- Before you purchase, rent, or lease a commercial property
- If you are planning to sell, renovate, or expand your commercial property
Don't wait until it's too late. Call SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork today! (803) 749-0178
While You Were Away....
Post-Vacation blues are real… imagine coming home after some much needed vacation time to find your home damaged! While crime rates in the Chapin and Irmo area are fairly low, vandalism does happen! Especially in homes that are under construction or do not appear to be occupied. Storms as well as water leaks and even fires are prone to happen while you’re away. If you’re hours from home there’s not much that can be done to remediate or stop further damage…you feel helpless!
Don’t waste time trying to find the best company to help you, call the trusted professionals at SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork right away. We work quickly to stop further damage from occurring and pride ourselves on fast response times that give you peace of mind and make your home “Like it never even happened.”
In the midst of the shuffle to get out the door and on vacation time, try and follow these easy tips that can potentially save you a phone call to our office:
- Unplug anything electronic that is not a necessity – doing so helps reduce the risk of fire
- Locate your water main shut-off, turn the water off. If a pipe or hose bursts in your home there will be less water to flow inside if the supply line is off.
- Ensure all doors and windows are locked and secured.
- Let neighbors or nearby family members know you will be gone and ask that they check on it periodically to make it appear that someone is in and out.
If you return home to a mess, don’t stress, call SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork (803) 749-0178