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Ways to Protect Your Home From Water Damage | SERVPRO® of Alamo Heights

2/19/2019 (Permalink)

Water damage can be one of the most common and costliest disasters your home may experience. From a burst pipe to a malfunctioning dishwasher or storm damage, there are countless ways water damage could strike your home.

While water damage can be an especially common issue for homeowners to deal with, there are plenty of ways you can help protect your home from some trying scenarios.

<h4your-home">Protecting Your Home

Not only is water damage a hassle to deal with, but it can have a long-term impact on your home. Mold is one of the most common side effects of water damage, as mold can begin to grow and flourish within 48 hours of exposure to moisture.

When thinking about ways to protect your home, it can be helpful to break it down by areas of impact. These areas could include basements, kitchens, bathrooms, flooring and ceilings.

You can help prevent water damage in the basement by helping prevent water seepage. This can be done by resealing vulnerable areas of the basement, making sure water drains away from your home and installing a backwater valve.

Your kitchen and bathrooms can experience water damage due to plumbing issues and appliance failures.

Be sure you:

  • Inspect all appliances regularly, watching for issues with hoses and faucets
  • Check the seal and caulking around your showers and tubs to make sure they are watertight
  • Know where the main shut-off valve is in your home
  • Don’t leave the house while the washer or dishwasher is running

Protecting the possessions in your home from water damage is not always possible, but there are things you can do to at least decrease the amount of destruction. Using waterproof bins to store items is always advised, as is keeping items stored on shelving off of the floor—which is especially recommended when using your basement for storage.

<h4from-water-damage">Recovering From Water Damage

If your home does experience a water damage situation, you can stand a good chance at salvaging items that can be dried out within 48 hours.

You’ll want to contact your insurance provider immediately and evaluate the extent of the water damage in your home as well as identify the type of water that is involved.

The three types of water are:

1. “Clean” water. Can be from rain, condensation, leaky pipes, etc.

2. Gray water. Slightly dirty water from dishwashers, washing machines, clean toilets, etc.

3. Black water. Water from sewage or serious flooding from nearby rivers, etc. This water can cause serious health problems.

Following a water damage disaster, you will need to get your home dried out, dehumidify the area, remove wet objects and disinfect remaining materials.

Pro tip: You can put wet books, photos and papers in a frost-free freezer to buy some extra time. This prevents mold and mildew from developing and causing more deterioration. Once able, you can remove them from the freezer and air-dry or fan-dry the pages.

It may seem like recovering from water damage is an overwhelming and slightly impossible task, but it doesn’t have to be. You can call on the highly trained experts at SERVPRO® of Alamo Heights, who are here to make it "Like it never even happened."

Creating a Disaster Plan for Your Business | SERVPRO® of Alamo Heights

1/11/2019 (Permalink)

Floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and earthquakes can make Mother Nature quite a force to be reckoned with. The best way to cope with these natural disasters is to be prepared for any or all of these worst-case scenarios.

Preparation for those disaster situations must involve creating a natural disaster plan for your business. This blog will be used to suggest considerations that need to be made when designing that plan.

What to Consider

In planning for a natural disaster and creating your disaster plan, you will need to consider many aspects that pertain to your business. Everything from employees to material assets must be taken into consideration.

Some of the things you need to include in your considerations should be:

  1. Ways to protect your employees
  2. Ways to secure your assets
  3. Getting your business back up and running again

Many checklists have been developed by informative sources like the Red Cross, FEMA and Ready.gov that can help you identify areas that need to be included in your natural disaster preparedness plan and also areas where there may be weaknesses in your disaster plan.

Employee Safety

If disaster were to strike without warning, that very disaster plan could be the difference between life and death. Hence it is important to have a plan in place that lays out procedures and safety measures for employees and visitors to follow.

Ensure that evacuation routes and exits from your facility are all clearly marked and visible, identify an area that will serve as a shelter, consider the installation of emergency lighting and have designated staff “safety wardens” who are properly trained and will be ready and able to guide and assist with all emergency efforts.

A basement or storm cellar is the ideal location for a shelter space in the event of tornadoes or other high-wind circumstances. However, if there is no basement space available, designate a small interior room on the lowest level of the building, such as a closet or interior hallway, as a shelter space.

How to Protect Your Assets

Even if your business is located in a brick and mortar location, there will still be choices you need to make about protecting the inside assets. There may be thousands of dollars of equipment and merchandise at risk when a natural disaster strikes.

Having a comprehensive and up-to-date inventory of these items and, if possible, photographs of your assets prior to a disaster is useful if insurance claims have to be made. If your assets are based on a computer server, take the steps, such as cloud storage options, to ensure that the backup system is working correctly and the storage system cannot be damaged.

Speak with a contractor to locate areas that could stand improvement with regard to structural integrity if you own your building. This contractor will be helpful in walking you through possible safety upgrades and give advice on any areas that may not withstand certain weather situation.

Getting Back in Business

If a natural disaster does occur, it is quite possible that your business will have to be closed due to damage until that damage can be remedied. Every day you remain closed is another day of lost profits; therefore, it is wise to have a “disaster” fund set aside to cover additional costs that are not covered by your insurance.

Compile a list of contractors in advance who will be available for rebuilding or repairs and know which cleanup and restoration service will be available to quickly respond to your emergency situation.

With SERVPRO® of Alamo Heights, you can count on us to get to the disaster faster and make it "Like it never even happened." Our training and expertise have prepared us to help with water damage, storm damage, fire damage and mold remediation quickly and effectively.

Knowing what to do when disaster strikes your business is of the utmost importance. When it comes to the cleanup and restoration aspects, depend on SERVPRO® of Alamo Heights to be there for you.

Understanding Mold Remediation | SERVPRO® of Alamo Heights

12/27/2018 (Permalink)

When water damage occurs in a home or commercial property, mold growth is likely to follow. In fact, mold can begin growing within 48 hours of exposure to moisture.

If you are faced with a mold issue, knowing what the next steps are is vital, which is why we’re providing an overview of what mold remediation is in this blog.

What Is Mold Remediation?

You’ve probably seen ads for mold remediation and mold removal, but the latter of the two is a fallacy. Removing all mold from a home or business is simply impossible. Instead, a qualified restoration company focuses on mold remediation, which has the goal of getting mold levels back to normal and natural levels.

Yes, mold spores occur naturally almost everywhere, both indoors and outdoors. They only become an issue when a minor problem is left untreated and turns into a major infestation.

During mold remediation, technicians will isolate the contaminated areas. Depending on the level of remediation, this can be done by either closing all doors and windows or effectively sealing off all doorways and openings with a polyethylene sheeting. Dust in the contaminated areas is then suppressed through misting.

Wet and mold-damaged materials are then removed and discarded in plastic bags. All areas exposed to and affected by the mold are then thoroughly cleaned and dried. A HEPA vacuum can be brought in during some cases to help remove contamination and debris.

The mold area is treated with a biocide and then left overnight to get to work killing the mold spores. The following day, the mold remediation crew will return to encapsulate the affected area and beyond.

What to Do If Mold Is Suspected

If you believe your home or business may have a mold problem, you’ll want to act quickly. Evaluate the size of the problem, and if the moldy area is more than 10 square feet, it is time to call in the professionals.

The professionals you bring in should be highly trained and certified in areas like:

  • Applied microbial remediation
  • Water damage restoration
  • Applied structural drying

While some minor mold issues can be successfully resolved by home and business owners on their own, it is always best to talk to the professionals and get the quickest resolution to the problem.

At SERVPRO® of Alamo Heights, our mold damage specialists are trained and certified experts in mold remediation. If your home or business is experiencing a mold issue, contact us to begin the mold remediation process.

Common Causes of Water Damage in Your Home | SERVPRO® of Alamo Heights

12/12/2018 (Permalink)

When many think of water damage, severe weather is usually one of the first things that comes to mind.

While storms and flooding can cause catastrophic water damage, they are often not the main culprits. Instead, various items in your home can be responsible for many situations that result in water damage.

Understanding Water Damage

Water damage is something that many homeowners will face, with it being the third most common reason for a homeowners insurance claim between 2011 and 2015, with an average payout per claim of $8,861.

There is a difference between water damage and gradual damage, which can impact insurance claims. Gradual damage is something that has been happening over time, such as plumbing issues in the walls causing damage to the walls, ceilings or floors, or water damage caused by cracks in the foundation. Unfortunately, many aspects of gradual water damage are not covered by homeowners insurance, while storm-related water damage usually is.

Common Water Damage Culprits

According to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), the leading causes of water damage are:

  • Plumbing supply system failures. This can involve frozen pipes, which can burst due to the buildup in water pressure caused by freezing water or when the supply system material fails and results in a leaking or burst pipe. Per IBHS, plumbing supply system failures are the leading source of residential water losses and cost an average of $5,092 per incident after the deductible. It was also found that homes ages 16 to 40 years of age made up a larger group of supply system material failure claims.

  • Plumbing drain system failures. This can occur when a sewer drain backs up and overflows into a home or from material performance issues. In their study, IBHS found that 52% of drain system failures were caused by sewer backups and 37% were related to material performance issues. They also found that the average drain system failure was more expensive in southern region states than in northern region states.

  • Toilet failures. Toilets are the second highest source of residential water loss after plumbing supply system failures and can stem from faulty fill valves or clogged drain lines. According to IBHS, toilet failures on the first floor of a home resulted in more severe claims than those in basements or upper floors.

  • Water heater failures. If your water heater has reached its life expectancy, the tank begins to rust and corrode, which can result in leaking or bursting issues. IBHS found that 69% of all water heater failures resulted from a slow leak or sudden burst and, on average, cost $4,444 per incident following the deductible.

  • Washing machine failures. Typically caused by supply hose failures, machine overflows and drain line failures, washing machines are one of the top 10 source of residential water losses. Per IBHS, supply hose failures accounted for over half of all washing machine-related losses.

If your home has experienced any water damage, the team at SERVPRO® of Alamo Heights is available to help with cleanup and restoration and make it “like it never even happened.”

Understanding the Ways Wind Can Impact Your Home | SERVPRO® of Alamo Heights

11/27/2018 (Permalink)

Many concerns come with severe storms, with damaging winds always a threat. These winds, which can come with little to no notice, can be problematic due to long-term structural impacts.

Concerns With Damaging Winds

While many think of damaging winds as those caused by a tornado or hurricane, these are not the only times when they may come into play. Traditionally, damaging winds are considered those with wind speeds exceeding 50–60 mph and are called “straight-line” winds, which stem from a strong thunderstorm. Their damage is different than the damage from a tornado.

The damage from these winds can be especially destructive, causing loose items to become projectiles. Windows and the roof can take the brunt of this damage, and if it’s extensive, it can also cause water damage to the inside of the home as the outside elements come indoors.

Anyone who lives in a thunderstorm-prone area can be at risk from damaging winds, but there are some structures that are especially at risk. Mobile homes, even those that are anchored, could be seriously damaged with wind gusts over 80 mph.

How to Protect Your Property

There are a number of steps you can take to protect your property from damaging winds, but keep the “Two R’s” in mind: reinforce and remove.

  • Have a professional reinforce your garage door.

  • Remove or anchor loose objects on your property that could be moved or tossed by the wind. Don’t forget about the trash cans, grills and outdoor furniture.

  • Have a professional remove large or dying trees and branches that could be blown over on your home.

Not all high wind circumstances come with advanced warning, as we all know, but some of these action items can be taken care of with a “just in case” logic. Also, if you are building a new home or renovating an older home, be sure the windows, walls and doors meet building code for your area.

Damaging winds from storms can open your home up for serious damage, from structural damage to water damage. If your home has been hit by damaging winds and resulting water damage, the highly trained specialists at SERVPRO® of Alamo Heights are here to help with the cleanup and restoration of your home.

Common Fire Hazards That Can Be Found in Your Home | SERVPRO® of Alamo Heights

11/7/2018 (Permalink)

No one likes thinking about the possibility of seeing their home damaged by fire, but unfortunately, it’s a harsh reality for a multitude of Americans.

One way you can help protect your home is by understanding fire hazards and knowing how to identify them. In this blog, we’ll be diving into two of the most common household fire hazards.

Candles can be problematic.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, during a five-year period from 2011 to 2015, fire departments in the United States responded to an estimated 8,700 home structure fires a year that were started by candles. In total, there were 82 deaths, 800 injuries and $295 million in direct property damage.

Candles caused 2 percent of reported home fires, with 3 percent of those fires resulting in death and 7 percent with injuries. There were an average of 24 home candle fires reported per day during those five years, with December being the prime time of the year for home candle fires.

Of all the candle fires during this time span, 37 percent started in bedrooms and were responsible for 36 percent of the associated deaths and 51 percent of the associated injuries.

When burning a candle, be sure it’s kept at least one foot away from anything that could burn and is in a sturdy holder that won’t easily tip over. Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home and always blow out all candles before leaving a room or going to sleep.

Smoking can result in home disaster.

While cooking is the leading cause of home fires, smoking is the leading cause of home fire deaths.

An estimated 17,200 home structure fires were reported in 2014 due to smoking materials, which includes cigarettes, pipes and cigars. Those fires resulted in 570 deaths, 1,140 injuries and $426 million in property damage per the Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes.

If you’re a smoker, it is safest to smoke outside, as most deaths result from fires that have started in living rooms, family rooms or bedrooms. Fire-safe cigarettes are the best option, and a deep, sturdy ashtray should be used.

Douse all cigarette butts and ashes in water or sand prior to throwing them out and keep in mind that one out of four fatal victims of smoking-material fires is not the smoker whose cigarette started the fire.

Fire hazards could be hiding in plain sight.

While candles and smoking are two of the most common causes of home structure fires, there are also other lesser-known hazards that could be present in your home.

Did you know that some kinds of glassware in your home could be a fire risk? When sunlight passes through them, the concentrated ray could ignite flammable materials, which is why it’s best to move glass accessories away from windows.

Dust bunnies can also pose a fire risk when collecting near electrical sockets and floor heaters. Sweeping or vacuuming your floors regularly and cleaning hard-to-reach areas like behind the entertainment system can help prevent buildup.

Also, look out for loose outlets in your home. The movement of these electrical outlets could loosen the wires connected to the outlet and create dangerous arcing.

Fire and smoke damage can be devastating to homes, and in many circumstances, can be accompanied by water damage from firefighting efforts. If your home is damaged, know that SERVPRO® of Alamo Heights is here to help restore your home to pre-fire condition.

Does Your Family Know Fire Safety Basics? | SERVPRO® of Alamo Heights

10/19/2018 (Permalink)

Did you know that every year in the United States, more than 350,000 house fires occur, adding up to more than $5.5 billion in property damage? Beyond the financial costs, these fires also lead to nearly 3,000 deaths and another 10,000 injuries.

Your best defense against a fire is to prepare in advance. That’s why it’s important for every person in your family to know how to prevent fires and what to do if they occur.

Start teaching your kids basic fire safety guidelines early in life. Let’s also take a look at three other fire safety practices you can practice as a family:

Create a Plan

If a fire sparks, every person in the family needs to know what to do—including how to get out of the house and where to go once they’re out.

But don’t just create a plan and forget it.

As the saying goes, “practice makes perfect.” Regularly practice the routine of what to do. Doing so will make you more likely to remember the steps if an actual fire occurs.

Look Out for Fire Hazards

If you were to take a look through your home, you might be surprised how many fire hazards you spot! Take some time to go through every room and your outdoor space to uncover these hazards.

  • Make sure appliances are in good shape.
  • Check that electrical cords aren’t frayed or otherwise damaged.
  • Make sure outlets and/or extension cords aren’t overloaded.
  • Ensure light fixtures are using the correct wattage of light bulbs.
  • Double-check that electrical wiring is not covered up by rugs or carpet.

Watch Yourself in the Kitchen

Cooking is the biggest single cause of home fires. That’s why it’s important to be especially careful in the kitchen.

Anyone who’s cooking needs to practice some basic cooking safety:

  • Never cook when tired or otherwise not able to pay attention.
  • Always supervise kids and teens when they cook.
  • Keep a lid nearby when cooking on the stove in case of a grease fire. If a small grease fire occurs, smother it with the lid.
  • If the oven catches on fire, turn it off and keep the door closed.

If a kitchen fire occurs and begins to spread, leave the room and close the door.

If your family has experienced a fire and needs help restoring your home, SERVPRO® of Alamo Heights can help! Give us call to learn about our fire restoration services and what we can do for you.

How to Clean Up After a Hoarder | SERVPRO® of Alamo Heights

10/11/2018 (Permalink)

Have you ever heard about hoarding? You might have seen it on the news or even on a favorite television program.

But while it’s often featured on TV and other forms of entertainment, it’s a dangerous issue that can increase the risk of safety and health hazards in the home.

What is hoarding, you might wonder? Hoarding is a classified mental disorder that causes people to obsessively hang on to possessions and causes compulsions to accumulate them in large quantities that can take over a home. Those items are rarely things of value—trash and other clutter are common.

As those items build up and begin to be piled on top of one another, they can present fire hazards, provide a breeding ground for insects or rodents, and allow for toxic mold growth.

If you’ve found that a loved one has been hoarding, what are you supposed to do? A team of professionals can help restore the space to a usable format.

What’s Involved in Hoarding Cleanup

Restoring a property after hoarding isn’t as simple as cleaning up and clearing out. Because pathogens may be involved, comprehensive cleaning by a professional team is recommended.

Removal of Dangerous Substances

Piles of hoarded objects and clutter can conceal dangerous hazards, including toxic mold and pests.

Partner with a team of professionals educated in safe removal principles and outfitted in the appropriate safety gear to ensure those safety hazards are removed entirely.

Removal of Items

This is likely what you think of as “cleaning up.” This step involves clearing the space of all clutter that has built up.

Items that weren’t actually hoarded, like furniture and kitchenware, may also need to be removed and discarded, since they are often compromised or contaminated by hoarding.

Complete Cleaning

Once the contents of the space are removed, professionals will then deep-clean the area. This makes the space usable again in the future.

Beyond simply cleaning, this step will also likely involve some odor mitigation and even biohazard removal.

In need of a team to help restore a space where hoarding has been an issue? Contact our team at SERVPRO® of Alamo Heights, and we’ll make it like it never even happened.

Common Types of Storm Damage

9/19/2018 (Permalink)

Texas is no stranger to damaging storms. The best way to be prepared for a storm is to know what type of storm is coming. Did you know there are 10 different types of storms? Each of them have unique causes and create unique kinds of damage.

SERVPRO® of Alamo Heights knows the importance of keeping a home or business safe before, during, and after a storm. Keep reading to learn more.

The 10 most common storms are:
  • Hurricanes
  • Tornadoes
  • Flooding
  • Snow storm
  • Hail storm
  • Thunderstorm
  • Lightning storm
  • Tropical storms
  • Ice storms
  • Derecho storms

Depending on where a person lives, they likely won’t experience every type of storm in their lifetime. You might even be wondering what that last one is – a Derecho storm is a giant storm made up of many large storms. To be considered a Derecho storm, multiple storms must be raging at over 58 miles per hour over a path of 240 miles.

If you don’t live on or frequent the coast, you may never experience a hurricane (also know as a tropical cyclone or typhoon). However, neighboring states often still feel the effects of hurricanes through heavy rain or damaging floods.

Some storm damage is obvious: hail breaks windows and thunderstorms cause power outages.

But since hurricanes can have far-reaching effects (Hurricane Sandy impacted 24 states), it’s particularly important to be informed on the damage they can cause. It’s important to be educated on all types of storm and the damage they cause, but this blog will focus on hurricane damage - whether you experience a hurricane’s immediate effects or the aftermath.

Most Common Storm Damage from HurricanesStorm Surge

Storm surge is mostly felt by those who live on the coast directly hit by a hurricane. Storm surge is when wind drives so much water to the shore that it causes the water to pile up far past the predicted tide level. The force of this water is so powerful that it can destroy buildings and other structures.

Flooding

Floods from a hurricane are often directly tied to storm surge. Storm surge forces extra water past the normal tide level, onto the shore and even far inland. The accompanying heavy rainfall also contributes heavily to flooding. Rainfall caused by hurricanes can impact an area even 100 miles from where the hurricane landed, causing widespread flooding. But a tropical storm doesn’t have to reach hurricane level to cause heavy rain and floods.

Wind

Wind caused by hurricanes can reach speeds between 74 - 155 miles per hour. The powerful speed and force of storm winds can uproot trees, fell power lines, and hurl debris. Objects moved by wind can cause more damage, like broken windows or damaged roofs. The wind during a storm can also be powerful enough to lift the roof on your house. Often, these damaging winds are caused by tornadoes that form because of the hurricane.

The damage caused by storm surge, floods, and strong winds can be far-reaching and unexpected. That’s why it’s important to take precautions like packing an emergency preparedness kit, installing storm resistant features on your home, and following any official warnings at the onset of a storm.

The damage in aftermath of a storm can be excessive and overwhelming. Clean up can also be dangerous. SERVPRO® of Alamo Heights is the leading expert in storm damage restoration.

If A Disaster Strikes, Will You Be Ready?

9/14/2018 (Permalink)

It is important to prepare before a disaster occurs.  Consider the following steps to help you better prepare for an emergency situation.

  • Sign up for local alerts and warnings, download apps and/ or check access for wireless emergency alerts.
  • Develop and test emergency communication plans.
  • Assemble or update emergency supplies.
  • Learn about local hazards and conduct a drill to practice emergency response actions.
  • Participate in preparedness discussion, training or class.
  • Collect and safeguard critical documents.
  • Plan with neighbors to help each other and share resources.
  • Document property and obtain appropriate insurance for relevant hazards.
  • Make property improvements to reduce potential injury and property damage.

Emergencies can happen anytime to anyone. Take action now to protect yourself and your property.  SERVPRO of Alamo Heights is here to help if disaster strikes.