Commercial Water Damage
Water damage in your place of business: a nightmare
How To Handle Cleanup
Water damage can strike your commercial property at any time and of course there is never any advance notice. The damage just shows up. The effects of commercial water damage can be devastating to a business owner who is now faced with having to clean up the water damage and reopen his or her business as soon as possible.
Do you know how to handle water damage at your commercial property? Are you prepared to make the necessary decisions after a pipe breaks, your roof leaks, or the streets flood to protect your property? What exactly is your plan?
Fortunately, this is manageable. Preparation for a water damage emergency and a plan of action in the event it ever happens can significantly reduce property damage and will get you back to business as soon as possible.
Commercial Water Damage Prevention
Large-scale losses can be prevented by following a few simple guidelines. Know where your emergency water shut-off valves are located, and have a contingency plan in place in case you are not available. Create an emergency plan with directions for what to do in an emergency as well as a list of phone numbers of approved companies to call in an emergency situation. Make sure someone you can trust has the authorization to make decisions if you are unavailable.
It is also a good idea to locate an emergency water damage restoration company in your region before disaster strikes. Do your due diligence and call a few different companies to ask any questions you might have about their services or their experience with companies similar to yours. How quickly cleanup begins will impact the size of the loss. Just make sure SERVPRO of East Sterling Heights/West Clinton Twp. (586-412-9595) is one of the companies you call. We don't mind competition but we at least want to be in the running to be your go-to restoration company.
Commercial Flood Damage:
Flooding of commercial properties is all too common.
Facts and Statistics
In the last 5 years, all 50 states have had floods or flash floods
Did you know that:
- Floods are the #1 natural disaster in the United States.
- All 50 states have experienced floods or flash floods in the past 5 years.
- In a sense, every commercial business in the United States operates in a flood zone.
And did you also know that most commercial property insurance does not cover flood damage?
Why does this matter?
Floods are defined by the insurance industry as “a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties.” Commercial property insurance policies usually contain language that excludes coverage for water damage from floods. If you don’t have flood insurance the cost for restoration and replacement comes out of your pocket.
Flood insurance covers overflow of inland or tidal waters (i.e., storm surge) and unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source. Flood insurance “building coverage” covers replacement of building heating equipment (furnaces) and water heating equipment (water heaters) if damaged in a flood.
There are two kinds of flood insurance:
- “Building Coverage” which includes the foundation elements of your business and the equipment necessary to support the structure like furnaces, hot water heaters and circuit breakers.
- “Contents Coverage” which includes everything else in your commercial location, including fixtures, furnishings, and office automation equipment.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) encourages business owners to purchase both building and contents coverage.
Remember to keep our phone number handy in case of water damage to your commercial property. We are SERVPRO of East Sterling Heights/West Clinton Twp. and you can reach us at 586-412-9595. You’ll be glad you called!
Moisture is a friend to mold growth
The Key To Mold Control
When water leaks or spills occur indoors - ACT QUICKLY.
- If wet or damp materials or areas are dried 24-48 hours after a leak or spill happens, in most cases mold will not grow.
- Clean and repair roof gutters regularly.
- Make sure the ground slopes away from the building foundation, so that water does not enter or collect around the foundation.
- Keep air conditioning drip pans clean and the drain lines unobstructed and flowing properly.
- Keep indoor humidity low. If possible, keep indoor humidity below 40 percent relative humidity (ideally between 30 and 50 percent).
- Relative humidity can be measured with a moisture or humidity meter, a small, inexpensive ($10-$50) instrument available at many hardware stores.
- If you see condensation or moisture collecting on windows, walls or pipes - ACT QUICKLY to dry the wet surface and reduce the moisture/water source. Condensation can be a sign of high humidity.
Actions that will help to reduce humidity
- Vent appliances that produce moisture, such as clothes dryers, stoves, and kerosene heaters to the outside where possible. (Combustion appliances such as stoves and kerosene heaters produce water vapor and will increase the humidity unless vented to the outside.)
- Use air conditioners and/or de-humidifiers when needed.
- Run the bathroom fan or open the window when showering.
- Use exhaust fans or open windows whenever cooking, running the dishwasher or dishwashing, etc.
Actions that will help prevent condensation
- Reduce the humidity.
- Increase ventilation or air movement by opening doors and/or windows, when practical. Use fans as needed.
- Cover cold surfaces, such as cold water pipes, with insulation.
- Increase air temperature.
Signs of Mold in Your House
Mold growing under a sink
Allergic Symptoms from Mold
If you are having a problem with allergies then there's a good chance there could be mold growing somewhere in your home. Common allergic reactions to mold include sneezing, sore eyes and a runny nose or nasal congestion. Do you notice your allergic reactions are worse when you're at home but you feel better when you go out? If so then it's especially likely you could have mold. If you find that your allergies are worse in some other building, like your workplace, then there could be mold growing there instead.
Smelling a Mold Odor
When you have mold growing hidden away in your house, often a moldy smell might be the only clue that it's there. Don't ignore mold odors if you can't see any mold. You should thoroughly inspect your home for mold growth to avoid the problem getting worse.
Seeing Signs of Mold Growth
Visible mold growth might seem like an obvious sign of mold. However many people don't notice small amounts of mold growth or they think it's just soot or dirt. Sometimes people simply ignore visible mold in their house. If you can see mold growth, even if it's only small, you should take action immediately. Small mold patches can spread and the fact that there is any mold shows that the conditions in your home are right for mold to grow. If you don't take care of mold it will soon become a bigger problem. Visible mold growth could also be a sign that there is a much larger mold colony growing hidden away from view. Sometimes you might not realize there is mold in your house, especially if it is unusual looking mold. Some mold growth looks white and thread-like. Other mold appears as clusters of small black spots. Mold can be black, gray-brown, gray-green or white in color. Mold growing behind wallpaper made of vinyl can even appear orange, pink or purple.
Signs of Water Problems
If you have had any long term moisture problems in your house it could mean mold has already started to grow. Some signs that you have had a moisture problem include water stains or discoloration on walls, floors or ceilings in your house. Seeing these could be a clue that there is mold growing within or behind the material. Another sign of a moisture problem is surface abnormalities like peeling, bubbling or cracking of the paint or wallpaper. Also, if your walls are bowed, bulging or warped it could mean moisture has gotten into them. Another clue is if the surface of walls or other materials feels damp to the touch.
If your house has been flooded in the past then it's likely that mold would've started to grow. Any mold would probably be growing in places where flood water remained the longest such as in the basement. Floods can often create mold growing out of view behind walls or under floors.
If you see a lot of condensation in your home then it's a sign that you have a high amount of moisture and hence a sign that you could have a mold problem. Condensation will occur on cooler surfaces such as glass windows or metal pipes. Mold could be growing where the condensation builds up and collects. Rusting indoor pipes are a sign that you could have a lot of condensation in your house. Besides the fact that condensation creates a buildup of moisture that could support mold growth, condensation can also point to a significant humidity problem in your home. A high humidity level can feed mold and it is another sign that you might have a potential mold problem.
If you think you’ve got a mold problem in your home or business, you can give SERVPRO a call at 586-412-9595. SERVPRO professionals have the training, the tools and the products needed to resolve any mold problem.
Ten Things You Should Know
Mold can grow anywhere there is moisture
About Household Mold
- Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory complaints.
- There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
- If mold is a problem in your home or school, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.
- Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.
- Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60%) to decrease mold growth by:
- Venting bathrooms, dryers and other moisture-generating sources to the outside
- Using air conditioners and de-humidifiers
- Increasing ventilation
- Using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing and cleaning
- Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
- Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely. Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles, that are moldy, may need to be replaced.
- Prevent condensation: Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
- In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting (i.e., by drinking fountains, by classroom sinks, or on concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation).
- Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.
Candle Soot - Looks Like Mold
Sometimes it is NOT mold, it is dust or candle soot exhibiting "thermal tracking."
The thermal tracking phenomenon goes by a variety of generic names; ghosting, bridging and plating-out are just a few. The effect is the same – stains on your walls or ceilings. Some thermal tracking stains appear in regular patterns, while others are haphazard. While the exact causes can differ slightly, all thermal tracking stains have one thing in common – an abnormal temperature variation that combines with other factors to create staining.
Perhaps the name “ghosting” stuck because this type of thermal tracking reveals the framing, or skeleton, of the structure. Ghosting can appear as dark lines on interior walls that show each stud or dark dots that expose the location of nails or screws. The stains resemble mold but they are typically dust or soot deposits. The risk for ghosting increases with inadequate wall insulation. When the wall studs are substantially colder than the drywall, a small amount of condensation can form over the studs, which provides an optimal surface for tiny soot and dust particulates to adhere.
Air movement must be present to some degree for walls to develop thermal tracking stains. It can be difficult to pinpoint the source of soot or dust if you don’t burn candles or operate a wood-burning stove. Today's homes typically have central heating and air conditioning systems that draw air from all locations of the house and disperse it through the rest of the house. Something as simple as a poor filtering system on your vacuum cleaner can introduce tiny dust particles into the air. Often-overlooked causes can also include burning something on the stove; dust from deteriorating curtains, carpet or upholstery; and soil tracked indoors from pets or kids that becomes airborne during sweeping or vacuuming.
Thermal tracking can be more noticeable above heated elements, such as wall lights that warm the air, which allows dust and soot particles to rise slightly and then collect on the cooler wall area above the lights. In rooms with high humidity thermal tracking is more obvious, because condensation forms more quickly over cooler areas of the wall. Poorly sealed home exteriors can permit cold air into a stud space or along a floor or wall, chilling that spot of the wall and eventually attracting enough dust or soot to create a thermal track.
Sealing gaps in the home’s exterior and adding or replacing damaged insulation can minimize temperature variations, which will reduce tracking. The best way to get rid of the tracks is to eliminate the source of airborne particulates. This might take a little detective work, depending on the specific causes in your home. It might include replacing furnace filters more often, having a gas or wood-burning stove checked for proper venting, burning only beeswax candles and not smoking indoors. Thermal tracks show up more on light-colored walls, so painting the walls a darker color will make them less noticeable.
Basics of Mold Growth
Mold Staining in an attic space
Mold and Your Home
Mold is found both indoors and outdoors. Mold can enter your home through open doorways, windows, vents, and heating and air conditioning systems. Mold in the air outside can also attach itself to clothing, shoes, bags, and pets can and be carried indoors.
Mold will grow in places with a lot of moisture, such as around leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes, or where there has been flooding. Mold grows well on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products. Mold can also grow in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery.
You Can Control Mold
Inside your home you can control mold growth by:
- Controlling humidity levels;
- Promptly fixing leaky roofs, windows, and pipes;
- Thoroughly cleaning and drying after flooding;
- Ventilating shower, laundry, and cooking areas.
- If mold is growing in your home, you need to clean up the mold and fix the moisture problem.
Mold growth can be removed from hard surfaces with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of household laundry bleach in 1 gallon of water.
Mold growth, which often looks like spots, can be many different colors, and can smell musty. If you can see or smell mold, a health risk may be present. You do not need to know the type of mold growing in your home. No matter what type of mold is present, you should remove it. Since the effect of mold on people can vary greatly, either because of the amount or type of mold, you cannot rely on sampling and culturing to know your health risk. Also, standards for judging what may be an acceptable quantity of mold have not been set. The best practice is to remove the mold and work to prevent future growth.
Mold Prevention Tips
Keep humidity levels as low as you can—no higher than 50%–all day long. An air conditioner or dehumidifier will help you keep the level low. Bear in mind that humidity levels change over the course of a day with changes in the moisture in the air and the air temperature, so you will need to check the humidity levels more than once a day.
Be sure your home has enough ventilation. Use exhaust fans which vent outside your home in the kitchen and bathroom. Make sure your clothes dryer vents outside your home.
Fix any leaks in your home’s roof, walls, or plumbing so mold does not have moisture to grow.
Clean up and dry out your home thoroughly and quickly (within 24–48 hours) after flooding.
Add mold inhibitors to paints before painting.
Clean bathrooms with mold-killing products.
Remove or replace carpets and upholstery that have been soaked and cannot be dried promptly. Consider not using carpet in rooms or areas like bathrooms or basements that may have a lot of moisture.
To learn more about preventing mold in your home, see the Environmental Protection Agency’s publication A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home. You can download this publication by clicking here.
Your Sump Pump
A Submersible Sump Pump
Keeps Your Basement Dry
Some of the most unglamorous parts of a home or business can be the most important. Sump pumps will never attract admirers, or customers, but a failing sump pump can make your home nearly unlivable, and drive away customers from your business. Three basic, unglamorous things you need to know about sump pumps are what sump pumps do, why they stop working, and how to spot signs of imminent failure.
What a Sump Pump Does
The typical sump pump sits in a sump pit, a hollow in a basement floor, and pumps excess water out into a drainage system. It can keep humidity down, prevent water from flooding your basement, and protect items in basement storage.
When Sump Pumps Go Wrong
Most of the decade-long life span of a sump pump is spent switching on and off in response to sensors that detect water levels. Usually the sump (that hollow pit in the basement) slowly fills with water, but after a hard rain or when snow melts, the sump could fill up quickly. The sump pump is triggered by the same sort of float valve most toilets use, so it is a mechanical connection that activates electrical current for the pump itself.
This means you have at least three areas where a sump pump can fail:
- Water — The pump works best when relatively clean, uncontaminated water is pumped up by the impeller; if foreign objects, greywater or biologicals (algae, slimes, plant matter) get into the impeller, the pump could fail.
- Mechanism — The float activator arm can hang up, whether from corrosion or blockage, preventing the motor from either turning on or turning off. If it does not turn off, the motor will burn out. If it does not turn on, your basement will flood. The discharge pipe’s check valve could also fail mechanically, allowing water to return to the sump pit.
- Electrical — Whether using a float arm or a pressure sensor, the motor on the pump will only run if electricity is flowing; a tripped breaker, a corroded wire, or a loose connection could cause the pump to sit idle, allowing water to back up and flood your space.
Signs of Failure
Of course the most compelling sign that a sump pump has failed is the presence of standing water on your basement floor. Other, less obvious signs can alert you far in advance of actual failure. Be alert for these signs of failing sump pumps.
Noise - Good sump pumps are almost whisper quiet, so if you hear loud whining noises, screeching, or thumping sounds, your motor could have burned a bearing.
On again, off again — A short-cycling sump pump could mean trouble with the float switch, too small a pit, pump too small. Might want to get a plumber to assess your setup.
Age of pump — Sump pumps typically last 10 years with conscientious maintenance; less with casual neglect
If your sump pump does fail, give us a call, 24/7, at 586-421-9595. You'll be glad you did.
Possessions locked away inside the POD while we did the restoration in the home.
To a POD!
After severe water damage from flooding during a recent winter storm event, these Clinton Township homeowners were looking at some severe disruption to their normal family activities because of the extensive repairs that were necessary. Their insurance covered it, and their adjuster approved it, so they opted for what is called a “pack-out.” This means the contents of the home were to be removed from the house, stored offsite, and then returned when the repair work on the house was finished.
Normally, when SERVPRO of East Sterling Heights/West Clinton Twp. is asked to do a pack-out, we employ our vault system. Our vaults are giant, purpose-built plywood boxes in which we store packed-out possessions in our secure warehouse while repairs are underway in the homeowners’ house or business. In this case, however, the amount of packed-out possessions was smaller than we usually deal with and the insurance company asked us to have a POD delivered to the homeowners’ driveway and to store the possessions in it while we did the restoration inside the house.
The photo at top right shows the POD with the homeowners’ packed-out contents locked inside it while we were engaged with the needed repairs inside the home.
Our employees are well trained, experienced restoration professionals and, even in unusual circumstances, you can count on us to get the job done and get your life back normal with as little delay and disruption as possible. Call us if you need us for water damage, fire damage or mold remediation at 586-412-9595. You’ll be glad you did!
Getting Rainwater Away
Getting rainwater away from the house can help keep your basement dry.
From Your Foundation
An inch of rainfall doesn't sound like much. But when it falls on an average-size roof, it adds up to a 1,900-gallon torrent sluicing off the eaves. That's an awful lot of water that can cause an awful lot of damage if your gutters and downspouts aren't up to the task of controlling it. Yet we barely give gutters and downspouts a second thought until they're clogged and overflowing, or ripped from their moorings by ice and snow.
So now that summer's nearly here, it's time to take notice.
Get your raincoat on and take a walk around your house during a really heavy rain. Are the gutters overflowing anywhere? Is water collecting near the foundation or is it being effectively routed out away from the house? If you don't look, you won't know.
If the gutters are overflowing anywhere, you've got a problem. Probably the gutters and downspouts just need a cleaning, but there could be design issues. Clean them (from the ladder, not the roof) and see if that solves the overflow problem. If not, you're going to need to hire a professional installer to evaluate your gutter-downspout system and make recommendations.
A lot of savvy homeowners use buried downspout extensions to move the water coming off the roof far enough away from the foundation to avoid any seeping into the basement. At any big-box hardware store you can buy the needed elbows, drain pipe, adapters and emitters, and install the extensions in your yard in a few hours with common gardening tools.