Clothing and Electronics Damage
Electronics Damaged by Fire and Soot
Represent a Special Case
When SERVPRO is called in to clean up after a fire in a home or business, we often find that clothing and electronics have been damaged. The kind of damage can range from residual smoke odor to charring or melting from extreme heat. Sometimes, too, the efforts to extinguish the fire have resulted in water or chemical damage that must be addressed.
Both clothing and electronics are “special case” items. They generally require special skills, tools, cleaning agents and handling to be properly restored following exposure to the smoke and flame of a building fire. We generally subcontract this part of the work because the companies that provide such services are usually the best hope for restoration of such items.
Insurers behind both homeowner’s policies and business insurance policies recognize this and their adjusters almost always direct that clothing and electronics be put through restoration procedures by an approved subcontractor with a track record for successfully restoring such items.
In the rare cases in which no insurance company is involved, the owners of the property must make the call on who attempts to restore clothing and electronics.
Once an adjuster has okayed a subcontractor, their employees come into the jobsite, package up the damaged goods, take them back to their own place of business for cleaning and restoration and then deliver them back to the jobsite after all other cleaning and restoration work has been completed. This leaves the jobsite available for SERVPRO employees to carry out their specialized work on the remaining structure and contents. In almost all cases, this involves a “pack out.” Residents, if any, of the building have to be relocated temporarily to other quarters during restoration work. Building contents have to be moved offsite by SERVPRO for cleaning and restoration and then brought back after cleaning and restoration work on the original jobsite have been completed
SOOT AND SMOKE ODOR CLEANUP
Soot After Fire
After a Fire
If you have had a fire in your home or place of business, two of the main objectives you are bound to have are these.
- Cleaning of soot from the structure and contents
- Removal of smoke odor from structure and contents
Soot has a way of stubbornly clinging to surfaces after a fire, particularly on interior surfaces like walls and ceilings as well as on the surfaces of furniture, appliances and other building contents. Cleaning these surfaces requires some special products and equipment and the experience and skill to use them. That’s why it’s best to have professionals like SERVPRO do this work. They know what they’re doing and they have the right tools for the job.
Cleaning Soot from Contents
For the contents, like furniture and appliances, it is often best to remove them from the home or business and take them offsite to clean them. SERVPRO has professional cleaning stations set up in their headquarters location that make the cleaning job quicker and better and – because the items have been removed from the fire site – less likely to be resoiled before being returned to the jobsite.
Cleaning Soot from the Structure
For the walls, ceilings and other interior surfaces at the site of the fire, some special cleaning products are needed and they are not the sorts of things a home or business would typically have on hand. Owners are not very likely to even know what they should buy to do the work or where they could find it for sale. For example, chemical dry sponges, made of vulcanized natural rubber, for absorbing soot to remove it from surfaces on which it has been deposited during the fire.
Smoke Odor Removal from Textiles
Removal of smoke odor is a special problem. Getting the odor out of textiles like clothing or draperies frequently has to be done by third-party vendors who have the products, equipment and expertise to do this special kind of cleaning. Insurance companies know this and will usually approve the hiring of such vendors for this work.
Smoke Odor Removal from the Structure
Removal of smoke odor from the structure itself can be done by cleaning professionals like SERVPRO because they have the needed cleaning products and know how to do the careful cleaning required to remove smoke odor from both porous and non-porous surfaces.
If you find you need help with cleanup after a fire, call SERVPRO 24/7 at 586-412-9595. You’ll be glad you did.
Water Supply Lines to Refrigerators and Toilets
Copper Water Line Kink
Can Cause Serious Flood Damage
You might think that most home flooding would occur because of heavy rain storms or rising waterways, or both, but that is not the case. The most common cause of home flooding by far in our region is a failure of a basement or crawl space sump pump. What surprises a lot of people is finding out that the SECOND most common cause of home flooding is a leak from or failure of the water supply line to a refrigerator or toilet.
If a refrigerator in your home has a water dispenser or an ice maker, it also has a water line made of plastic or of copper/stainless steel tubing. The lines made of copper or stainless are the ones most prone to develop leaks. When you pull the refrigerator out, for example to clean behind or under it, a metal water supply line can develop a kink or pinch which produces a weak spot that sooner or later starts leaking. For this reason, most refrigerator installers will use quite a bit more copper or stainless tubing than is needed and coil the extra tubing into large loops behind the refrigerator. These large loops allow your refrigerator to be moved away from and back to the wall with minimal bending of the metal tubing and also minimal risk of kinking or pinching. With plastic water supply lines there is far less risk of kinking or leaking.
If a refrigerator water line should begin leaking while you are not at home, the volume of water that could escape into your home could be considerable. And if leaking should begin while you are on vacation, a horrific amount of damage could be done to floors, walls, and carpeting in multiple rooms, to say nothing of damage from microbial growth in the soaked building materials. We have seen some homes nearly destroyed in just this way.
If you are using a metal water line for a refrigerator, you’d be wise to switch to the safer plastic variety.
A toilet water supply line almost always fails at the compression fitting at either end of the line. It pays to tighten these fittings with great care to avoid the risk of failure and flooding. If you find any water supply line leakage in your own home, call SERVPRO 24/7 at 586-412-9595. We have the people, equipment and experience to extract the water and dry out the rooms affected by this or any kind of flooding.
Sewage Backup from Basement Drain
Sewer Backup Can Leave a Mess
Sewage Backup from Basement Drain
One of the worst problems that can occur in your home, and most disgusting and dangerous to boot, is sewage backup from your basement drain. This is most commonly caused by blockage or failure of the sanitary sewer drain line between your home and the sanitary sewer. When the waste can’t get out to the sewer, it backs up in your basement. Usually this blockage is tree roots that have grown into the drain line and clogged it up. But there are other possibilities too. If someone in your home is flushing debris down a toilet other than toilet tissue (kids’ toys, facial tissues, wipes, paper toweling, feminine hygiene products, etc.) that could be the cause. Someone could also be overusing the garbage disposer in your kitchen sink, or putting too much FOG (fat, oil, grease) down the drain. Whatever the cause, the blockage in the drain line has to be cleared, so call a plumber to snake out the line. The plumber will also be able to diagnose other kinds of issues in the unlikely event there are problems other than a blocked drain line.
Once the drain line is snaked, the cleaning is next. Once again, you should call on professionals, like SERVPRO, for this kind of work. Raw sewage contamination is extremely dangerous and requires specialized cleaning products and techniques to keep your family safe. In addition, things like carpet, padding, and upholstered furniture soaked by the sewage is probably unsalvageable and has to be removed and discarded.
If sewage backs up in your basement, call us 24/7 at 586-412-9595. You’ll be glad you did.
One further note: usually homeowner’s insurance does not cover sewage backing up in your basement unless you have purchased specific coverage for it. It would be worth checking with your insurance company just to be sure. Sewage damage can be far costlier than the cost of the coverage.
Basement Cracks and Rod Hole Leaks
Rod Hole Leaks
Many people are surprised when they discover water in their basement for the first time. In most cases, discovering a puddle on the floor or a wet carpet is the result of a basement leak. While most basement walls don't leak every day, basement leaks are very common, regardless of the age of the home, and a fact of life in regions like ours (with a significant amount of rainfall and snow).
Assuming that the water you are seeing on your basement floor is actually the result of a leaking basement wall, groundwater has found a way to penetrate through your foundation. Very simply, there is a hole in the wall that is allowing water to get into your basement.
Hydrostatic Pressure and Basement Wall Leaks
The water in the soil surrounding your basement constantly applies pressure from outside your foundation walls. The more water present in the soil from rain and snow, the more pressure is applied to your foundation. If there is any kind of opening in a basement wall, water pressure from the soil outside the foundation wall will cause water to leak through the wall into the basement.
The Most Common: Foundation Cracks and Rod Hole leaks
Whether concrete block or poured, basement walls can crack. Often these cracks originate at the bottom corners of basement window openings but can occur elsewhere as well. When the walls do crack, water can be squeezed through the crack from the surrounding soil by the ever-present hydrostatic pressure.
With poured walls it is much more common to find rod hole leaks. The forms used to contain the fresh concrete when basement walls are poured are held in place by a series of metal rods going right through the concrete and the forms. These rods are cut off when the forms are removed and sealed over with a layer of fresh concrete. But sometimes there are tiny openings that remain and under certain conditions water can enter the basement through those openings, as you can see in the accompanying photo.
If you've had water damage from a basement leak, call SERVPRO! We're at 586-412-9595 any time of the day or night and you can count on us to clean up the mess and dry out the basement thoroughly "Like it never even happened."
SUMP PUMP FAILURE
Sump pump failure makes a big mess before you know it.
One of the most common causes of basement flooding (most of the flood problems we deal with are due to this!) is sump pump failure.
As you probably know, homes with basements or crawl spaces often have a sump well built into the basement or crawl space floor. An electric sump pump is installed in this well. A system of drain tile or perforated pipe is put in the earth around the outside of the house. These pipes collect excess ground water and direct it into the sump well. The sump pump in the well detects the rising water and pumps it up and out of the sump well and away from the earth close to the house. In this way, ground water is kept away from the house and is less likely to find its way into the basement or the crawl.
If the sump pump fails to operate properly the water overflows the sump well and you have a flood in your basement or crawl. Such a flood can be a LOT of trouble to remedy and can do a lot of expensive damage in a short period of time.
So what can you do to prevent sump pump failure? Here are some ideas.
- Most important: Have the pump replaced periodically. The average life of a pump is about ten years, so if yours is older than that you’re well advised to put in a new one. The cost if you do it yourself is in the range of $100 to $200, perhaps double that if you hire it done. There are lots of youtube videos to show you how to do the job.
- Consider a SECOND, backup pump for the well. Some are electric and some you hook up to your household water system and your water pressure powers the pump (works even in a power outage).
- If you end up with a flood anyhow, make sure you have kept stored items at least six inches off the floor. If your sump well is in a crawl, make sure you can do without everything you store under the house. Things stored on a basement floor or in a crawl are often a total loss in a flood.
Call on SERVPRO if the worst happens. When it comes to floods and fires, we are the pros. Call us day or night at 586-412-9595. We’ll make it “Like it never even happened.”
Ways to Detect Mold
Microbial growth may be hidden behind walls
Ways to Detect Mold
Most of us would agree that mold thriving in the home or in a place of business is undesirable. But sometimes it is neither simple nor easy to know whether a mold problem actually exists. Molds can grow in places that can’t be seen without demolishing walls, ceilings or floors, and, at least in the earlier stages of growth may not even be detectable by the odor they produce.
So the question becomes, how do we detect mold when we can neither see it nor smell it?
There are two possible answers to this question. One is by paying attention to symptoms displayed by those living or working there, and the other is by formal sampling and testing by a lab employing mold professionals.
When molds are growing in places that people live and work, some of the more sensitive occupants may develop symptoms of mold spore exposure. These symptoms may include:
- Fatigue and weakness.
- Headache, light sensitivity.
- Poor memory, difficulty finding words to express thoughts.
- Difficulty with concentration.
- Morning stiffness, joint pain.
- Unusual skin sensations such as tingling and numbness.
- Shortness of breath, sinus congestion or chronic cough.
When an occupant or occupants experience such symptoms it may well be time to call in professionals who can sample and test to know for sure whether molds are present in sufficient concentration to cause the symptoms people are reporting. It is unlikely to be helpful to try a do-it-yourself approach for this testing. Kits for mold sampling are readily available in stores and online, but the EPA explicitly says that mold sampling should be done by professionals who “have specific experience in designing mold sampling protocols, sampling methods, and interpreting results.” The cost, which could be several hundred dollars or more, is the only way to know definitively whether a mold problem exists or not.
In spite of the cost, there are some good things about hiring a lab to test for mold. For one thing, the lab can probably pinpoint the location of the mold growth if it is present. And for another, they generally provide a detailed protocol for removal of the mold.
If you end up in this position, knowing you have a mold problem and having a protocol to follow to get rid of it, consider calling on SERVPRO of East Sterling Heights/West Clinton Twp. for the mold remediation. Just call us at 586-412-9595, any time of the day or night. We have the trained personnel, the equipment and the experience to do what needs to be done to end the problem.
CONTAMINATED WATER DAMAGE
An example of commercial sewage damage
EXTREME Caution Needed When Dealing With Contaminated Water Damage
Any water damage in your commercial location is bad. But this is especially true when the water contains potentially harmful organisms that can affect the health of occupants and the value of your property. Water with these characteristics is often called "black water." Black water damage like toilet overflows, sewage backups and floodwater intrusions are more than nasty, smelly messes; they are biohazardous in that they introduce harmful microorganisms into your building, as well as the moisture necessary to ensure their continued growth.
Sewage damage poses serious health risks to anyone exposed to the contaminated water. The danger arises from various harmful substances including parasites that can cause intestinal disease. Some other common risks include Hepatitis A viruses and bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella. Water contaminated in these ways is grossly unsanitary. Building occupants should practice precautionary safety measures at all times when dealing with the intrusion or cleanup of black water.
Safety Tips for Building Occupants
- Avoid all contact with sewage and items contaminated by sewage.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after contact with contaminated items.
- Spread contaminated water by walking unnecessarily on damaged or wet areas and then tracking the contamination elsewhere.
- Turn on the HVAC system if it has been impacted by the water. The HVAC system could spread contaminated air to other parts of the building.
- Use household fans to dry the structure. These too could spread contaminants.
- Use products for personal hygiene and cleanliness if they have been exposed to the contaminated areas.
- Consume food or drink that has been exposed to the contaminated areas.
A mop and common cleaning products may not be enough to clean up black water intrusions. SERVPRO of East Sterling Heights/West Clinton Twp. has the procedures, experience, specialized equipment and products needed to clean and restore your building, utilizing the following procedures:
- Survey the extent of damage and inspect the premises.
- Perform emergency water extraction.
- Move and block furniture and fixtures.
- Provide floor service.
- Inspect carpet and padding.
- Apply necessary treatments including disinfectants and deodorizers.
- Utilize and monitor drying equipment.
- Dispose of refuse.
SERVPRO of East Sterling Heights/West Clinton Twp. professionals understand how disruptive and dangerous contaminated water can be and offer 24-hour emergency response. Under normal circumstances, trained, uniformed restoration technicians arrive on site within four hours of loss notification to begin emergency mitigation services. By responding quickly with a full line of water cleanup and restoration services, SERVPRO professionals can help you regain control quickly through proper drying, deodorizing and protection of your facility and contents. Abiding by OSHA guidelines and all applicable health regulations, SERVPRO of East Sterling Heights/West Clinton Twp. professionals remove moisture, sewage and contaminants, disinfecting and deodorizing as they safely clean and dry your building and restore the contents. So before you risk your health trying to clean up such damage, call on SERVPRO for help at 586-412-9595.
COMMERCIAL FIRE DAMAGE
An example of commercial fire damage
What You Should Know About Commercial Fire Damage
Commercial fire damage is one of the most devastating experiences that you as a business owner can experience. In addition to the fire doing severe damage to the structure and contents of the building, a fire often leads to truly huge volumes of water being introduced to your building. That much water can do serious damage to both building and contents and also encourages mold growth. For these reasons and more, business leaders can find it difficult to recover from a fire, whether caused by a natural disaster or by man-made accidents. However, learning more about commercial fires and how fire damage remediation specialists can assist you is the first step towards limiting damage and preserving your equilibrium in the face of such a disaster. Below is some information that may help:
Fires at commercial properties are most often caused by:
- Short circuit in old or poorly repaired wiring
- Fire in an adjoining building
- Blown fuse or overloaded circuit
- Lightning strike
In addition to purchasing business interruption insurance, there are several common-sense strategies you can use to reduce the likelihood of fire in your business and to minimize damage if there is one:
- Avoid storing flammable items on site.
- Check your smoke alarms periodically to ensure they are functioning properly.
- Make sure your fire extinguishers work and are in visible and easily accessible locations.
- Implement a fire evacuation plan.
- Turn off appliances and machinery when no one is in the building.
- Ensure all machinery is in good condition.
- Keep important documents in a fireproof safe.
- Scan important documents and back up the scans, and all your electronic files, to the cloud daily.
If you have a fire in your business in spite of your best prevention measures, call SERVPRO of East Sterling Heights/West Clinton Twp. for immediate professional assistance, 586-412-9595
MOLDS CAN BE BENEFICIAL
Roquefort - inoculated with Penecillium to create intense flavor and color
Some molds (there are many thousands of species) can cause unwanted heath effects, as most of us know. However, some molds are actually beneficial, like Penicillium. The most famous Penicillium of all is Penicillium notatum, the mold that gave the world penicillin.
Penicillium camemberti is another mold species that is safe and even beneficial. It is sprayed on to camembert and brie cheeses to age them and create their white rinds, while Penicillium roqueforti gives blue cheeses such as stilton and roquefort their veins.
Another mold, Botrytis cinerea, is essential to dessert wines such as Sauternes and Trockenbeerenauslese. The grapes from which these wines are made are colonized by Botrytis cinerea, the so-called "noble rot," and the fruit becomes partially raisinized. This reduces water content, increases sweetness, and contributes to the quality of the wine made from these grapes. Many wine-makers will deliberately spray Botrytis spores over their vineyards.
Of course, if you are currently battling with molds growing in your home or business, or you’re thinking you’re going to need to hire professionals to carry out mold remediation to remove or reduce the molds, you probably don’t want to hear about beneficial molds. We at SERVPRO of East Sterling Heights/West Clinton Twp. understand all that. We get it. And we’re here to help with mold remediation if you need us. Don’t hesitate to call 586-412-9595 anytime, day or night.