Recent Posts

Giving Back

2/26/2019 (Permalink)

At SERVPRO we feel that it is important to give back to the community so we’ve partnered with our local insurance agents to support local domestic violence shelters.  Every 9 seconds in the U.S. a women is assaulted or beaten.  Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women- more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined.  92% of women surveyed list reducing domestic violence and sexual assault as their top concern.  In December of 2018 women in our industry came together to provide Christmas gifts to over 140 women in local shelters.  The outpouring of support was staggering!  We plan to continue the supporting domestic violence shelters by providing volunteer opportunities and continued donations.  In May we plan to give jewelry and scarves to the shelters so the children can give them a moms a Mother’s Day gift.  To all the generous women who have helped provide gifts for our local domestic violence shelters a special Thank You for your kindness and caring.  We will continue to keep everyone updated on this cause which is very near and dear to all our hearts.  Thank you!   

Backup or Overflow?

2/26/2019 (Permalink)

What is the difference between a water backup and an overflow?  Overflow is caused by a blockage in the plumbing system.  Water causing damage never enters the sewer system and in some cases, water damage can be considered an overflow if blockage is in the lateral pipe.  It all depends on insurance policy language.  A backup is a situation where water or sewage enters through drains or sewers or overflows from a sump pump, sump pump well or any other system designed to remove subsurface water which is drained from a foundation area.  A water backup is excluded in most Homeowners policies but coverage can be added with an endorsement.  Coverage is usually limited to a specified amount but a few insurance companies offer more extensive options.  Water backup coverage is critical for not only homeowners but condo owners, renters and commercial insureds as well. 

Keep in mind that any property can experience a backup and the damage can be expensive especially if the area is finished.  There are four main areas to consider when deciding how much coverage you need including mitigation or drying out the area, structure reconstruction, contents damage and mechanicals such as furnace and water heater.  Be sure to discuss the right coverage option with your insurance agent so you are well protected in the event of a backup event.    

Ordinance or Law Coverage- Every Building Should Have Coverage

2/19/2019 (Permalink)

Ordinance Or Law Coverage allows for payment of losses arising out of the enforcement of building laws or ordinances, including those that may require the demolition of damaged structures that increase the cost of repairing or rebuilding the damaged property.  According to Adjusters International Disaster Recovery Consulting, compliance with ordinances and laws after a loss can add 50% or more to the cost of the claim. 

Building codes or ordinances set minimum standards that must be met when structures are built or reconstructed. Their purpose is to protect the health and safety of building occupants. Building codes may be enacted and enforced by state and/or local governments.  Building codes are primarily directed at new construction. Yet, they may also apply when existing structures are renovated, altered, reconstructed or used in a different way. 

Some codes may require a building that is only partially damaged to be demolished and reconstructed rather than repaired. A building may require demolition and reconstruction if the damaged portion is worth 50% or more of the building's value. Codes can affect the size, design, height, usage and location of a structure. They may also determine the building materials that may be used.

Building codes change frequently. Codes that existed when a structure was built may be outdated when a loss occurs. To meet current codes, a damaged building undergoing repair may require expensive materials. Some structures may need to be reconfigured. Thus, building codes can significantly increase the cost of the repairs or renovations.

Homeowners policies often include a standard amount of ordinance or law coverage which is 10% of the dwelling coverage or coverage A.  This may be enough for newer or updated homes but careful review of possible building code issues should be made in order to determine if more coverage makes sense.  In commercial insurance, ordinance or law coverage is not typically included and can be added with an endorsement.  It is important to take a comprehensive look at the building and potential ordinance or law costs that may be incurred in order to determine how much coverage should be added. 

Consult your insurance agent for more information so you won’t get burned if you have a disaster.

Storms and Little Warning

2/5/2019 (Permalink)

Storms occur with little warning and can be especially devastating, so you’ll need the company that you can trust to rise to the occasion. Regardless of the type of storm, SERVPRO of Portage County can handle any size disaster. 

 When severe weather breaks, storm water builds up on streets, near lakes, rivers, and local storm control channels.  Should storm water begin to accumulate around your house, here are a few easy steps that may help protect your home:

  • Make sure all windows are closed tightly – especially check windows in your basement area
  • Move valuables to higher ground
  • Continuously monitor the sump pump (if you have one) to verify that it is operating properly
  • Make sure to secure any outside furniture or decorations that can become airborne with high winds
  • Cover basement window wells to help divert water from pooling inside the well
  • Make sure to pick items off the floor that may get damaged from water exposure
  • Keep your shoes, car keys, and family emergency kit near the door

Safety should always be your main focus when faced with storm water.

  • Do not walk through moving water, as even 6’ of water is enough force to knock you off your feet
  • Stay away for flood waters as it is contaminated and unhealthy and may pose health hazards
  • People or vehicles in flooded areas can hamper Emergency Responders ability for quick response

Storm and flood water damage can be very destructive. Immediate action is needed, and you need the company with storm damage experience. SERVPRO of Portage County has the expertise and the resources to handle any size disaster. If you need assistance with storm or flooding call 1-800-648-1212.

Sump Pumps

1/30/2019 (Permalink)

Looking at the weather predictions for the week, today is a great day to check your sump pump to verify it is working properly.

When to check your sump pump? How To Test Your Sump Pump?

When to replace it?

When to check it? Sump pumps remove water pressure from homes during times of excessive snowmelt or rainfall. To ensure that your sump pump will work properly when it’s needed, you should check it periodically. It is a habit in my house to check it before, and sometimes during, an extreme weather event.

When to replace it? Did you know that generally sump pump manufacturer warranty their sump pumps for 1 year, 3 year or 5 years. When is the last time you replaced your sump pump? Depending on how much your sump pump runs – you should consider these warranties a good indicator of replacement time. Just because it is still running, doesn’t mean it is functioning at full capacity.

How to test your sump pump? The following tips will help prevent sump pump malfunction:

  1. Debris in the Basin: Sometimes debris such as children’s toys and other household objects may fall into the basin and interrupt the float mechanism which can cause it to malfunction. The float mechanism can also fail naturally over time. To test this mechanism, fill up the basin with water to make sure the sump pump starts like it should.
  2. Check Valve: The check valve prevents water from going back into the sump pump in the event of a failure. Make sure to check this valve because it is not always installed properly; the arrow should be pointing away from the sump pump.
  3. Weep Hole: Sometimes sump pumps may have a weep hole between the pump and the check valve. You can clean the weep hole with a tiny object such as a toothpick, just be careful not to break anything off in the hole.
  4. Clean the Impeller: The impeller is a small filter that may become clogged and when this happens it can cause the sump pump to suddenly stop running or make a whining noise. Cleaning or replacing the impeller can get the sump pump to function properly again.
  5. Back Up Power Source: Sump pumps are only useful when plugged into a power source and if the power goes out during a thunderstorm, the sump pump will stop working. Installing a backup power source for the sump pump is the best way to prevent this from happening in the middle of a thunderstorm when the sump pump is needed the most.

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.