Recent Posts

NEVER...walk away from your stove

1/3/2019 (Permalink)

Sporting Events and Television!

It happens, especially during sporting events…… you can hear the roar of excitement from the other room, and you know you are missing the big play of the game. So you leave the stove, just for a quick peek. Only it’s just never as quick as you anticipate. Meanwhile back in the kitchen….grease fire has erupted. It can happen so quickly, the cooking oil gets over heated and out of control.

Good Rule: never leave the stove or turn your back for any period of time.

Think fast!

1) Evaluate – call 911 if it is out of control while gathering family and get to safety

2) Put a metal lid on it

3) Turn off the heat

4) Dump baking soda

5) Chemical fire extinguisher is best as a last resort or if the above options are not available

6) Stop. Let the area sit, cool down, before you address the damage.

NO, NO, NO

1) Do not throw water

2) Do not use a hand towel

We hope you never need to remember these tips. But your SERVPRO Team is here to help with the clean up should disaster strike. The photos are from a kitchen grease fire; just a second of “unattended”. The good news is the final repairs are beautiful; "Like it never even happened." No family members, or pets were injured in the event. Just frayed nerves and a bit of quilt. (Accidents happen and we should learn from them and move forward.)

Quick thinking allowed the structure damage to be contained to the kitchen. However soot and smoke damage occurred throughout the residence.

We are here to help 800-648-1212

Timing is Everything

12/27/2018 (Permalink)

Water damage requires a quick response by stopping the source of water intrusion as soon as possible.  Knowing where your water shut off value is located in your residence, and reviewing the location with your immediate family and service professionals (housekeeper, babysitter, dog walker, house sitter, ect) is critical.  Prompt response to stopping the water intrusion and clean up and dry out can greatly reduce overall restoration costs.  Before water mitigation can begin, the source of the water intrusion will need to be addressed.

Initial steps to assess the damage and evaluate the level of contamination will help to formulate an action plan and determine if professional assistance is needed to help restore your home.

Professional water mitigation should be highly considered when:

  • Water originated from a contaminated source: dishwasher, water bed, drain line, toilet, washing machine, flood water, etc.  When addressing contaminated materials protecting the home from cross contamination, mold and securing the environment for the occupants becomes a primary focus for the emergency services.
  • Porous materials affected by water: hardwood flooring, cabinetry, carpet and padding, drywall, etc.  An immediate response to with water extraction and application of a biocide can help reduce the amount of structural material damage and reduce the amount of time the home or affected area is out of use.
  • Water traveled from one floor to the floor or floors(s) below.  It’s not the obvious water that causes damage, you can easily mop up that.  When water and bacteria is trapped between layers of structural materials, this “hidden moisture” can cause long term damage and possible mold growth.

SERVPRO’s professional mitigation team is IICRC Certified, trained, and expertise knowledge to help you evaluate the extent of damage, and create an action plan for cost effective dry out of the affected area(s). 

Remember, quick response time can reduce the overall mitigation costs and loss of use.  Contact our office to schedule a site inspection and scope of damages for your home today.

Mold Stain Remover

12/3/2018 (Permalink)

Mold stain removal can be challenging, even after you have removed the mold itself. Unfinished areas of the home such as the basement and attic are often susceptible to mold stains, as these areas are not typically seen and the longer the mold lives, the longer the stains can penetrate the surface of the material. Wood decks and concrete are also susceptible to mold stains because they have porous surfaces that allow the mold stains to penetrate deep, making them harder to clean. Not all mold stains can be removed, but there are some steps you can take to reduce or eliminate staining.

What Causes Mold Stains?

To understand mold stains, it helps to understand the structure of mold. Mold is a fungus that grows in multi-cellular filaments called hyphae. These hyphae produce pigment, or color. Mold colors can range from white or gray to green, red, brown or black, and the darker the color, the more pigment it produces.

As these mold hyphae grow into the material of your home, be it wood, drywall, fabric or others, the pigment can transfer to that material. So, even if you kill or remove the mold, the pigment is left behind.

Are Mold Stains Dangerous?

Unlike the mold itself, any stains left behind after you have removed the mold are harmless. However, mold stains are an aesthetic problem and removing the mold stains is important for property value and improving the appearance of your home.

While you may choose to ignore mold stains in an unobtrusive area of your home like the basement or attic, you should never ignore the growth of mold. Mold can grow on most surfaces in your home including tile grout, wood, carpet, drywall/sheetrock, ceiling tile, painted surfaces, fabric and paper. Unchecked mold growth can cause damage by eroding the structural integrity of beams, trusses, walls, ceilings, floors and more.

In addition, mold growth is a sign that you have a water problem that needs to be addressed immediately. You must identify the source of the water, whether it is a leaky pipe, humid bathroom, broken appliance, septic tank backup or storm water infiltration, and perform the necessary repairs.

Mold growth is also dangerous because it is a known health hazard. Mold acts as an allergen, and if you breathe in mold spores you may experience sneezing, nasal and sinus congestion, asthma symptoms, itchy eyes and more. Over time, your symptoms may get worse or you may experience fungal infections or chronic rhinitis or asthma. Mold can cause more serious, long-term health problems in young children, the elderly and people with other health conditions or compromised immune systems.

Mold Stain Removal Guidelines

Mold stain removal depends upon the material where the staining has occurred. You can try using soap, vinegar and household cleaners to remove stains. For difficult to remove mold stains, we recommend Concrobian Mold Stain Eraser. It is bleach-free, so it won’t damage surfaces. It is safe to use on wood, stone, fiberglass, plastic, laminate, metal, aluminum and concrete.

Grout: Mold growth in grouts cannot be satisfactorily removed because it grows into the grout. If you try to clean it, it will quickly grow back. The grout has to be dugout and replaced with new grout.

Wood: Mold stain removal on wood such as flooring, decks, fences or wood trim may require a trip to the hardware store. But first, try cleaning with ingredients you probably have in your kitchen. To clean surface wood stains, mix vinegar, mild dish soap, and water. Dip a rag in the vinegar mixture and wipe the wood. Wipe again with another damp rag, and dry thoroughly. If the mold grows back in a week or two, that means it has penetrated the surface.

If the mold has penetrated the surface of the wood, you will need to sand it to remove it all. Sanding can be dangerous because it will release mold spores. Always wear an N-95 face mask when sanding moldy wood, and only sand wood that is located outdoors. Using #100-grit sandpaper, sand the wood in a circular motion wherever you see mold. Then follow up with #220-grit sandpaper. Use a HEPA-vacuum to clean up the dust after sanding. Now you can repaint or re-stain the wood. If you are unable to completely remove the mold because it has penetrated too deeply, you should replace the wood.

If the wood is located indoors, it is not safe to sand it yourself. The risk of inhaling or spreading mold spores is too great. For small amounts of mold on wood inside, clean as much as possible by scrubbing with a cleaner, allow the surface to dry, and then encapsulate any remaining mold with a commercial mold sealant, like Foster 40-50. If the mold covers more than 10 square feet, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends hiring a professional removal company.

Walls and Ceilings: Walls and ceilings are usually porous, so if the mold has penetrated the material, it will need to be replaced. To clean surface mold from painted walls and ceilings, use a mold cleaner. Spray the affected area and scrub with a soft brush or rag to remove the mold. If staining still shows then the mold has penetrated the surface, and the material should be replaced. 

Make sure that all of the mold has been removed before repainting. Otherwise, the mold will continue to grow and return.

Masonry Surfaces: Unpainted masonry surfaces, such as walls and ceilings, constructed of unpainted concrete cinder blocks, poured concrete, cement boards, clay blocks, ceramic tiles, plaster, marble, and granite, do not support mold growth. However, white salt deposits that migrate to the surface can have elevated levels of mold and bacteria. Also, if the masonry surface was painted, mold can grow on the paint. Remove the mold by spraying the surface with water, then use a wire brush or scraper to remove the salt deposits and loose paint. Allow it to dry, HEPA-vacuum, and then spray with a fungistatic disinfectant such as RMR-141. Any remaining stain can be removed using Concrobian Mold Stain Eraser.

Leather: Mold on the surface of leather can be cleaned using either mild soap or vinegar. If you choose to use soap, mix a solution of gentle detergent or saddle soap and water in a spray bottle. Spray the stained leather and wipe with a clean, dry cloth. Or you can spray vinegar and wipe it off, or wipe the leather with a cloth soaked in vinegar. In either case, don’t let the surface get or stay too wet, otherwise the moisture can permanently damage the leather. If mold has penetrated the surface, it will come back, and the leather will need to be discarded.

Clothing: Your success in removing mold stains from clothing can depend on the fabric and how long the stain has been sitting. For white cotton fabrics, wash with chlorine bleach according to the instructions that came with your washing machine or on the bleach bottle. For colored fabrics, use a wash booster like OxiClean or pretreat the stain with a stain lifter. It may be helpful to let the item soak in OxiClean before washing. For delicate fabrics, items that are not machine washable, or stains that don’t come out with the other suggested methods, you can try taking it to a dry cleaner. Be sure to point out the stain so they can treat it properly. If the mold cannot be removed, the clothing should be disposed of.

Mold Remediation

11/4/2018 (Permalink)

How to determine if I can handle the mold clean up in my house? 

Do I need a professional mold remediation company?

Firstly, the source of the water intrusion needs to be resolved.  If the source continues to allow water intrusion, the home will eventually return to an unhealthy condition.  

You might want to consult a mold remediation company….

  • If the visible mold spores affected area, from tip to tip, is larger than a 10 square foot area
  • If you suspect that the heating ventilation system may be contaminated
  • If the original water was from a black water source (sewage contamination)
  • If you have health concerns of the occupants

There are numerous mold cleaning products on the market for consumer use.  It is best not to use OVER USE any harsh chemicals.  Simply scrub hard surfaces with a detergent and water, and let the area dry.  It is very important to use personal protective equipment while cleaning: eyes, hands, and respiratory system.  Upon completion of the cleaning, the area should be free of  visible mold spores and musty, moldy odors (mold staining on structural materials may still be present).  It is critical to monitor the affected area for a few months to make sure the area does not return to unhealthy.  The area needs to continue to be dry, clean and odor free.  If the area again begins to deteriorate, go back to correction of the source of water intrusion.  It is possible that the original correction was not sufficient or there might a secondary source of water intrusion.  

If you determine that your home or business has a mold problem, and the source of the moisture intrusion has been corrected, SERVPRO of Portage County can inspect and assess your property. If professional mold remediation is needed, we have the training, equipment, and expertise to handle the situation.

How to keep clients’ properties dry in all seasons

11/3/2018 (Permalink)

With water around every corner, clients’ properties are more vulnerable to water damage than many would imagine. In fact, water is the number one property-related homeowners claim, according to Chubb’s claims data, and the Insurance Information Institute found that one in 50 homeowners will experience a related claim each year. When they do, it will cost close to $10,000 per leak.

Despite being both a common and costly risk, a recent Chubb survey of homeowners examining their approach to water damage prevention shows that it’s a threat clients largely overlook. Luckily, agents and brokers can help clients prevent water from damaging their homes, no matter where it comes from. It starts by helping clients understand the seasonal exposures they face.

Ensuring a fun, carefree vacation

Most clients take advantage of the summer to travel with family and friends. Yet too many vacations are ruined as a result of clients failing to take the appropriate water protection steps before departing. Consider that even though many clients ask a caretaker to watch their homes while away, Chubb’s study found that just 30% leave water leak information and only 17% provide information about what to do in the event of a weather-related flood with caretakers.

Why the concern? Time is of the essence when it comes to water damage, with even the smallest leaks or drips building up over time. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety reports that plumbing supply system failures and toilet failures are the two most common sources of residential water loss. If either of these systems drip for days, the results can be devastating, both in terms of property and financial damage.

Before your clients head out, advise them to:

  • Turn off the water supply. This is the only way to prevent a leak from occurring while away; or
  • Install a water shut-off device. This is the surest way to prevent wide-spread damage in the event of a leak.

Beyond travel, the warm summer months also provide clients with the opportunity to jumpstart home renovations. But in their desire to drive value, the number one home-related concern identified in Chubb’s study, many clients are inadvertently inviting new water risk into their homes.

Start with encouraging clients to pay close attention to a contractor’s qualifications, prioritizing certifications and licensing above word-of-mouth recommendations. Although both play an important role in the hiring process, Chubb’s study found that 42% of homeowners prioritize the latter, versus 32% who emphasize the former. If contractors don’t have the right experience or professional background, they should not be involved in the client’s renovation project.

Making the most of your time outdoors

Homeowners eager to enjoy the last warm days of the year often spend time working on their gardens, yards and outdoor areas. Many use this time to install sprinkler systems, construct outdoor kitchens and build decks, all designed to enhance their homes’ landscapes. According to Chubb’s survey, close to a third of homeowners (30%) think these types of exterior upgrades most positively impact their homes’ values.

Yet, these projects can quickly let water into all the wrong places. Agents and brokersshould encourage clients to consult with a landscape architect about how enhancements may alter the slope of their garden or clog drains and gutters. Failure to take this into account means new upgrades could redirect water toward clients’ homes, seeping into the foundation or basement over time and potentially resulting in significant damage. By speaking with your clients about their garden renovation projects, this is an expensive loss that agents and brokers can help clients avoid.

Forecasting frozen pipes

Most homeowners know that the pipes in their homes are at risk of bursting during the cold winter months. Homeowners are 40% more likely to have water damage in the winter than any other time of the year, according to Chubb claims data.

Still, only 21% of homeowners report installing pipe insulation, even though it is one of the surest, simplest and cheapest ways to protect exposed pipes in the basement or garage in cold weather. Homeowners might also want to consider hiring a contractor to install pipe insulation for interior pipes that are located adjacent to an outside wall.

Not only does installing pipe insulation help keep the water in a home’s plumbing system from turning to ice and expanding (and thus bursting the pipes), it often helps homeowners save money on their energy bill. In essence, a reminder to install insulation could help clients avoid a major winter headache while also lowering utility bills.

10 tips to prevent chimney fires

11/3/2018 (Permalink)

Proper home maintenance requires constant vigilance.

Chimneys, in particular, require upkeep. A chimney that is dirty, blocked or in disrepair can inhibit proper venting of smoke up the flue, and can also cause a chimney fire. Nearly all residential fires originating in the chimney are preventable, according to the New York State Homeland Security and Emergency Services.

Chimney fires account for 75% of home heating fires, meaning homeowners should actively monitor their chimneys. Homeowners looking to avoid damage to their property and increased premiums should prepare for fires by checking their smoke alarms and updating their emergency plan.

The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends looking for these signs of a pending chimney fire: a loud cracking and popping noise; a lot of dense smoke; or an intense, hot smell.

Cyber Awareness

11/3/2018 (Permalink)

Why is SERVPRO concerned about creating community awareness regarding cyber attacks and cyber security?  The more our world becomes connected to the internet the greater the risk for property damage.  Consider the following scenarios:

  • Hackers gain access to a steel mill via a phishing attack introducing malware to the control system that prevents the shutdown of a blast furnace causing massive damage.
  • A power grid is remotely disabled by hackers causing extensive power outages.
  • Using a homemade transmitter, a teenager trips rail switches and derails train cars.
  • A hacker infiltrates the computerized waste management system and deliberately spills millions of gallons of raw sewage.
  • Machines at a hospital are infected by malware and a remote-access program is installed on the hospital's HVAC system.  This jeopardizes patient safety by putting drugs and other medical supplies at risk by altering the heating, AC and ventilation systems.


Sound like science fiction?  They are all true incidents and it is predicted that as the IoT (Internet of Things) continues to expand, property attacks will become more prevalent and costly.  Imagine hackers gaining access to the freezer temperature control at a frozen food manufacturer or infiltrating the computer system that regulates the fire sprinkler system in a large hotel.  The focus on cyber security and providing appropriate cyber coverage for commercial customers is not only important to protect data but also to protect vital system functions. Hackers have only scratched the surface when it comes to property damage so it is important to educate yourself about cyber risks before a catastrophic incident occurs.

Vacant Homes and Mold Growth

11/3/2018 (Permalink)

Vacant homes or unattended homes have unique issues that can that increase the likelihood of mold growth.  These homes are locked up without inhabitants coming or going, turning on the heat, running air exchangers or ventilation fans, and have restricted air flow. Thus moisture or condensation can build up inside and create an ideal climate for mold. To thrive mold needs moisture, oxygen, a food source and a surface on which to grow; easily available within a residence.  Mold spores are abundant in our environment, and once a mold spore has attached itself to dust particles, which provides the nutrients needed, all the spore needs is moisture. 

Procrastinate where mold cleaning is necessary can be a costly decision. If mold spores are allowed to proliferate, you may be faced with extensive structural damage to your home and possibly loss of property value. Today’s buyers are very leery about investing into a home with visible mold contamination. Additionally, consumers are very aware that some molds species can produce toxins and allergens. 

The remediation priority would be to correct the excessive of moisture build up in the residence. Remediation would include 1) water proofing, 2) corrective measures to secure windows and doors, 3) create healthy air flow. etc.  After the corrective measures to reduce the moisture, professional mold remediation of all affected structural materials, contents, and HVAC system would need to be completed.  If the issues that are causing the elevated moisture are not corrected prior to remediation services, after a period of time, the home would again become unhealthy.

If you determine that your home or business has a mold problem, and the source of the moisture intrusion has been corrected, SERVPRO of Portage County can inspect and assess your property. If mold remediation is needed, we have the training, equipment, and expertise to handle the situation.

Evaluating Mold: Air Sample Testing

11/3/2018 (Permalink)

All buildings contain mold spores since they a natural part of the environment.  An elevated mold count especially one that contains spores from varieties of mold that are commonly found when water damage is involved, such as stachybotrys chartarum, can indicate that there may be a structural moisture problem.     

In the insurance claim process, mold testing in is generally utilized after the mold has been remediated to confirm that the mold spore count is at or below the count found outside the building. The test is conducted while the remediated area is contained in order to confirm the success of the cleaning process. 

Determination of airborne spore counts is accomplished by way of an air sample, in which a specialized pump with a known flow rate is operated for a known period of time. Conducive to scientific methodology, air samples should be drawn from the affected area, a control area, and the exterior.

The air sampler pump draws in air and deposits microscopic airborne particles on a culture medium. The medium is cultured in a laboratory and the fungal genus and species are determined by visual microscopic observation. Laboratory results also quantify fungal growth by way of a spore count for comparison among samples. The pump operation time was recorded and when multiplied by the operation time results in a specific volume of air obtained. Although a small volume of air is actually analyzed, common laboratory reporting techniques extrapolate the spore count data to equate the amount of spores that would be present in a cubic meter of air.


If you have questions or need further information about the mold testing process, contact SERVPRO of Portage County at 800-648-1212. 

After the Disaster: Providing Restoration Solutions, Not Suggestions

10/25/2018 (Permalink)

Hurricanes.  Tornadoes.  Flooding.  Frozen pipes.  Storms. 

All of these will occur during the course of a year. All will cause major damage to dwellings and buildings. What is one of the major sources of damage- WATER. Water damage is caused by a variety of things including plumbing leaks, burst pipes and broken hoses, moisture ingress within a structure, clogged toilets, foundation cracks and leaking roofs. While the symptoms will be addressed by plumbers, roofers, foundation specialists and other tradesmen and tradeswomen, clean-up and remediation specialists have some of the toughest and potentially dangerous jobs to tackle to ensure a safe and functional dwelling or building. Before a building is considered safe, someone must disinfect affected areas, remove damaged or mold/mildew- contaminated items, properly dispose of the water-damaged items and then review and inspect areas to ensure that they’re safe. 

So, what can we recommend to residents and occupants of the buildings that have significant (or even small levels of) water damage? 

  • Stop the flow of water.
  • Turn off the power.
  • Assess the conditions. Is it safe to stay in the building?
  • Look for electrical hazards and “slip and fall” areas. Stay away from compromised areas.
  • Get away if possible, but if you must stay, then only do activities that are absolutely necessary.
  • Try not to lift wet materials. Water will add significant weight to any material that absorbs.

What can you recommend an owner do after flooding?

  • Gather items from floors and low lying areas.
  • Remove any excess water by mopping or blotting up the water with towels or absorbent material.
  • Remove wet rugs and carpeting that can easily be removed.
  • Remove any wet upholstery, cushions, pillows, blankets and dry them out
  • Wipe excess water from furniture, cabinets, accessories
  • Turn AC ON for maximum drying during the summer

What should you recommend an owner NOT do after flooding?

  • Don’t use household appliances, televisions or any other electronic devices
  • Don’t leave wet fabrics in place. Hang luxury items such as leather goods, furs and dresses.
  • Do not use a vacuum cleaner (unless it’s a wet-dry vac) to remove moist or water from a room.
  • Don’t leave colored items on a wet floor.
  • Don’t turn on ceiling fans or lights if the ceiling is wet. 
  • Stay out of rooms where the ceiling is sagging.

After a homeowner or building occupant has taken the requisite steps to ensure his/her safety, then its time for the professional to come in and do their work. Professionals will use the following steps to assess and restore property following water damage:

  • Initial contact and pre-inspection survey
  • Inspection and water damage assessment
  • Water removal and extraction
  • Drying and dehumidification
  • Cleaning and sanitizing
  • Restoration

A fast response is crucial to prevent long term damage, sick-building syndrome and irreversible damage. While professionals are responsible and knowledgeable, sometimes little things that might be missed become critical to the successful remediation/restoration after water damage or flooding.

  • Mold and Mildew are the ENEMIES. Protect yourself and building inhabitants by using the proper protective gear including body suits, gloves and masks or respirators. Contain the mold/mildew before trying to disinfect. Wrap your booties, pants and gloves with tape to ensure a good and proper seal of your body suit.
  • Use environmentally-friendly antimicrobial and antibacterial treatments when you can. These will leave less of an impact to the inhabitants once the job is complete. 
  • Properly dispose of refuse. Bag the molded, damaged and soiled items in a thick plastic bag and twist the opening to form a goose-neck then seal the opening tightly with duct tape to ensure that the contents are secure and will not escape during transport to the landfill, preventing further contamination.
  • Seal off the contaminated environment from the area that is not contaminated or is being used by the building inhabitants. Hang poly-sheeting, build airflow containment units and properly seal them off with strong polyethylene or cloth duct tape suitable for use in damp, moist environments. Innovative containment systems with pre-inserted zippers and doors are now available for ease of use.

Customers are now used to fast, reliable and almost instantaneous service. The e-commerce model used to obtain goods is now being applied to service as well. By offering easy “one-stop” access to water damage cleanup; easy contact, assessment, water removal, drying, cleaning, sanitizing and restoration; you will enhance your relationship with your customers and attract them to your business. Remember these tips when communicating potential water leakage and flooding issues with your customers and you will become their one-stop source providing solutions, not suggestions.