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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.

Hurricane Season is Here

9/6/2018 (Permalink)

Hurricane season is currently underway. For the Atlantic, the season begins June 1 and runs through November 30. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season began in mid-May and also ends November 30.


Hurricanes can be life-threatening as well as cause serious property-threatening hazards such as flooding, storm surge, high winds, and tornadoes. While the primary threat is in coastal areas, many inland areas can also be affected by these hazards, as well as by secondary events such as power outages as a result of high winds and landslides due to rainfall.


Preparation is the best protection against the dangers of a hurricane. Plan an evacuation route and your emergency plan, take inventory of your property, and take steps to protect your home or business. For more information and preparation tips, visit the Ready campaign website at www.ready.gov/hurricanes.

National Preparedness Month 2018 Disasters Happen

9/6/2018 (Permalink)

As a business owner, insurer or property manager, you are a leader in your community and have the opportunity to set an example for your employees, customers, and community to follow.

This year for National Preparedness Month, join your community in preparing for emergencies and disasters of all types, and leading efforts to encourage the community as a whole to become more prepared.  "Disasters happen" and not only devastate individuals and neighborhoods, but entire communities, including businesses of all sizes.

As an employer in your community, having a business continuity plan can help protect your company, its employees and its infrastructure, and maximizes your chances of recovery after an emergency or disaster.  You can do this by taking three simple steps:

  • Plan to stay in business
  • Encourage your employees to become ready
  • Protect your investment

We must work together a s a team to ensure that our families, businesses, places of worship and neighborhoods are ready.  At Ready.gov/business, companies can find vital information on how to begin preparing their organization and addressing their unique needs during an emergency.  You can also contact your local SERVPRO of Alamo Heights to find out more on how to be ready when disaster strikes with the Emergency READY Program®.

Common Damage to Your Home From Storms

9/6/2018 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Common Damage to Your Home From Storms Call SERVPRO of Alamo Heights if storms cause damage to your home or office

Storms can be unpredictable when they hit, and it can be hard to predict what damage will follow in their wake.

Storm damage may vary based on the type of storm (a hail storm versus a lightning storm, for example), but some damage is more common than others.

Generally, the most drastic damage is caused by flooding, high winds, or fire.

In this blog, you’ll learn about the three parts of your home most likely to be damaged in a storm and what to do about it.

####1. Damage to your roof

Whether hail, wind, or a torrential downpour, your roof is almost always the first hit by a storm. And often hit the hardest. A common type of roof damage is roof lift. Like it sounds, roof lift is when the wind is so strong in a storm that it actually moves your roof or completely lifts it away.

Steep roofs are less prone to this kind of damage than low-sloping roofs. Keep this in mind if you’re searching for a new home or building your own home.

Roofs that are not well cared for are the most likely to be damaged. Even if the roof isn’t removed by a storm, shingles and drainpipes can become dislodged.

####2. Damage to your windows

Broken windows are very common during severe storms. Large hail, heavy winds, fallen trees, and debris all have the ability to break a window. Even if the glass is not shattered, heavy storms can bend or damage window casings.

If a window is broken during a storm, your house becomes more vulnerable to damage. It’s best to take precautions long before a storm hits. You can reinforce your windows with plywood or invest in storm shutters.

####3. Damage to your landscape

Heavy winds and rains can ruin even the most carefully landscaped yard. More than that, they can turn your landscape into a danger zone. If your yard is sloped and not properly drained, it’s more likely to flood. Gravel and even small trees are easily picked up by wind, which then might mean they smash into your windows, house, or car.

When you landscape, be sure to clear your yard of fallen branches and prune dead trees. If you have yard decorations or patio furniture, always bring them inside before a storm hits.

If your home has experienced storm damage, call in an experienced professional. SERVPRO® of Alamo Heights is always ready to help with expert restoration services.