Winter Weather Tips
Don't we all wish winter just means snow days where we get to stay home and lounge all day in our pajamas, watch movies, and play in the snow?
Too bad that's not reality.
Winter storms can bring all sorts of issues for your home or business, so we have compiled some tips to counter those issues:
Tips for Preparing Your Home for Winter Weather
- Keep cabinet doors open during cold spells. This allows warm air to circulate around pipes.
- Keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets, especially if the pipes for faucets run through unheated or un-insulated areas of your home.
- Consider shutting off outdoor faucets. Find the shut-off valve in the basement or crawl space and turn it to "off."
- If you follow the previous step, then open the outdoor faucet to help ensure it drains completely and the inner valve is shut off.
- Ensure gutters are clean and secure. Leaves and debris accumulate, causing a damming effect on gutters, which could lead to roof problems and water damage.
- Proper maintenance of your furnace can help reduce the risk of puffbacks.
Winter Storms Can Cause a Lot of Damage
It is always best to be prepared for winter storms in advance in order to protect your home, business and your family. In addition to snow accumulation, winter storms can bring along conditions that can affect your home on the inside and outside. When you know what type of damage can be caused by snow storms, it’s easier to find its effects and get them fixed as soon as possible. Even after snowfall, winter storms can bring and cause other challenges. Here are some possible types of Storm Damage from winter storms.
1. Strong winds may loosen roof shingles.
2. Strong winds might also pick up rocks or other small items and throw them against your siding or windows.
3. Snow or ice could sneak inside holes in your foundation, roof, siding etc.
4. If trees, especially large ones are growing close by to your home, tree branches could fall onto your roof during a storm or scrape against your homes siding. If those trees are older or if the melting snow saturates the ground enough, it can also cause trees to fall onto your home.
5. Ice dams may block water from going down gutters, and force water to go under shingles instead. They can also cause your gutters to collapse.
6. Heavy snows can cause your roof to collapse.
If a winter storm does leave a mark on your home, we recommend you take action immediately. It is wise to address storm damage issues while they are relatively small in order to prevent them from getting worse in the next storm. Small or big, at SERVPRO of Fair Oaks / Folsom we are here for you should your home or office experience storm damage. We are available to assist 24/7 365 days a year. Just give us a call at 916-987-0400.
Things to Know About Smoke Damage
When the firefighters leave, it may seem like the danger has passed and the home is safe from further destruction. While fire may be the immediate danger, once it is gone, what it leaves behind will continue to affect the house. Ash and smoke will cause extensive corrosion, etching and discoloration not to mention powerful lingering odors. The only way to properly clean smoke and fire damage is to be extremely thorough. This entire process is very detailed. Ash residue is easily disturbed and can spread through the building with ease, causing nearly everything to need restoration.
1. Smoke Migrates to Cooler Areas: The behavior of smoke during a fire is largely dependent on temperature. Smoke is typically hot and migrates to cooler regions of your home. Unfortunately, the cooler regions of your home are often hard to reach places, like cabinets and the underside of furniture. This makes the cleaning process much more difficult and is one of the major consequence of smoke damage.
2. Smoke Uses Plumbing to Migrate Through Your House: Smoke naturally travels through plumbing systems, using holes around pipes to travel from floor to floor. This is the best way for smoke to travel throughout homes and buildings and cause further damage. Vents and plumbing systems are cleaned and often replaced if smoke damage is great enough.
3. Wet, Smoldering Fires Produce the Most Damaging Smoke: The type of fire and the type of smoke produced by the fire make a huge difference when it comes to cleaning smoke damage. Wet, smoldering fires produce highly volatile and noxious smoke, the effects of which can persist for years if not cleaned properly.
4. High Temperature Fires Produce Easier to Clean Smoke Damage: Contrary to what you might believe, high temperature fires tend to be less damaging than smoldering fires. That is because they burn very quickly and produce a different type of smoke that contains less damaging soot. As a result, even though the high temperature fire may seem like it would produce more damage, you may just get lucky.
5. A Very Damaging Component of Smoke is Invisible: While the billowing clouds of dark smoke may seem the likely culprit, it’s the invisible protein residues of smoke that can also cause server damage. These residues can break down metal, wood, paint, and even porcelain, and their highly volatile chemical make-up allows them to penetrate deep into almost any substance while remaining totally invisible. Beware of this invisible enemy!
6. Smoke Damage Can destroy Metal and Wood Items: You might think that hearty substance like wood and metal would not be affected by smoke as much as upholstery and textiles. You’d be wrong. The noxious protein residues in smoke can break down brass, copper, wood, and even stone, causing them to decay at an ultra rapid rate. Be sure to let a professional know about the exposure of wood and metal items to smoke and the duration of the exposure.
7. The Number 1 Rule to Prevent Lasting Smoke Damage: Get Air Moving: If you want to get a head start on cleaning up your home after smoke damage, follow the cardinal rule. Get air moving. Use fans and open windows to keep air circulating throughout your home. This will prevent any remaining smoke residues from penetrating even deeper into your house and property.
SERVPRO Can Handle Any Size Fire Damage in Your Fair Oaks Home
Fires that do not do much in the way of actual fire damage may seem like something a homeowner could take care of on their own, but they should not. The reason has nothing to do with the water cleanup, but rather the smoke and soot that permeated porous materials and left an odor and a residue that cannot be just wiped away.
When SERVPRO tackles the odor left behind from fire damage in your home, we first determine if there is any residual moisture left in building materials or possessions and ensure the area is thoroughly dried using our specialized techniques. Then our certified technicians access how much the odor has spread and implement measures to contain the smell and particles from any further spreading by setting up containment around the area.
SERVPRO Odor Control Technicians are specialists in eliminating offensive odors and have many resources to attacking stubborn scents left behind by a fire. Our technicians perform a complete wipedown of affected areas using professional grade cleaners with both wet and dry sponges as determined by the type of residue. We often use HEPA filtered air scrubbers with an additional activated charcoal filter can capture odor-causing particles as small as 0.3microns.
If the smell left behind proves stubborn, thermal fogging a very effective method we utilize to eliminate unpleasant scents. The thermal fogger delivers a solvent-based deodorizer that is heated and the dry fog acts in the same manner as smoke from a fire. The vaporized solution permeates and neutralizes foul odors in porous items and building materials leaving no trace of smoke odors.
Foul odors do not have to be a reminder of fire damage in your home. Call SERVPRO of Fair Oaks / Folsom at 916-987-0400 and talk to one of our certified technicians. We are available 24/7 to come to your house and eliminate unpleasant odors leaving your home without a trace of smoke odor "Like it never even happened."
How Professionals Deal with Category 2 Water Loss
Water damage and a flooded home is one of the most challenging emergencies that home owners are forced to address. When flood damage has occurred, it is advisable to involve professionals in the water cleanup and restoration process because there is usually a risk of injury associated with the mitigation process. Other risks include compromising the strength of the building if the drying process is not handled properly and losses that will be incurred a few months down the line trying to deal with emergent issues such as mold growth after there has been water in home. When the flood damage is caused by a pipe break of a supply line break, mitigation is typically simple, however, when it is cause by sewer lines, the risk increases further. Here are a few things you should understand about Category 2 water damage and the mitigation process.
Category 2 water loss is also known as gray water in homes. It is water which contains a certain level of the chemical, physical or biological containment. This water in home can cause problems such as physical discomfort on the skin and sickness when one is exposed to it, or when consumed. The common sources of this type of water include toilet bowls containing urine, water from dishwashers, and flood damage from the failure of sump pumps. Water cleanup professionals always recommended that everyone inside a flooded home with Category 2 water loss to leave immediately and a company to be called in to resolve the matter.
Procedures that are followed in water damage restoration
As mentioned, you need to contact professionals as soon as you notice there is flood damage of any kind in the building that you occupy. The first thing to do when they arrive is getting the proper work contracts and authorizations to handle the process. The restoration company will get to work on the flooded home as soon as you give the green light. The experts first survey the building and identify any safety hazards present. These include things like electrical wires that could be hanging in the water, dry walls that have become loose and related issues. The flooded home restoration company will then try to locate the source of the water loss and start the water cleanup process. Common sources are a pipe break or a supply line break.
When the pipe break, supply line break or other source of water in home or water in business has been located, the restoration company does their best to protect your furniture by blocking. If there are small items, they will be moved out of the affected region. If the water got to surfaces which are carpeted, the restoration company uses a sub-surface extraction tool for water cleanup. Other tools that the water damage restoration companies use for the suction work include vacuums and special suction and water extraction pumps.
The drying part of the flooded home follows. To achieve the desired drying effect, all the dehumidifiers are turned on and left on until a new dew point temperature is reached. Experts are cautious about the drying process because when done improperly, issues such as mold will result later. After the drying, a biocide will be applied to all the affected surfaces to eliminate or retard the growth of all types of microbial life. If there are any structures which are non-dryable and they got wet during the damage, the water damage restoration company will remove and replace them.
Other measures that are taken by mitigation companies include installation of air movers and use of deodorizers to deal with the smell that is left behind by dirty water in business. The restoration process will be the last, where the water damage restoration company repaints any surface ruined in the restoration process, the replace the old carpets with new ones and replace dry walls. Issues such as a pipe break or a supply line break will also be repaired or replaced. As long as you have professionals working with you to remove contaminated water in business, the mitigation will be easy and hazard free.
How Water Loss Incidents Can Cause Future Mold Growth Issues
Mold colonies quickly form whenever there is excess moisture or even humidity in a home. The spores that cause mold growth are microscopic and natural occurring, and apart from moisture, they require an organic food source, oxygen and the right temperature to thrive. Because of the environment, a mold problem can keep recurring even after remediation, which is not only costly but also inconveniencing so finding ways to get long-term results from a remediation exercise is essential.
Most exercises of mold remediation in Fair Oaks / Folsom happen after incidents of water loss because such events supply the necessary moisture for growth. Leaks that can go unnoticed, especially in hidden sections of the property, can also lead to infestations. Such leaks are common in plumbing lines within wall cavities and beneath sinks or bathtubs. Addressing the source of the water helps prevent recurrence. Our SERVPRO technicians will take measures to quickly bring down relative humidity levels below 60 percent after a water loss incident to prevent growth. Fixing small leaks and drying wet materials using dehumidifiers and air movers helps deal with the issue “like it never even happened.”
If you are facing a lingering mold problem, call SERVPRO of Fair Oaks / Folsom at (916) 987-0400. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’re faster to any size disaster.
Clothes Dryer Fire Safety
Clothes Dryer Fires- Facts and Stats
- Clothes dryers accounted for 92% of the fires; washing machines 4%, and washer and dryer combinations accounted for 5%.
- The leading factor contributing to the ignition of home fires involving clothes dryers was failure to clean, accounting for one-third (33%) of dryer fires.
- A mechanical or electrical failure or malfunction was involved in the vast majority of home fires involving washing machines.
- Fires involving clothes dryers usually started with the ignition of something that was being dried or was a byproduct (such as lint) of drying, while washing machine fires usually involved the ignition of some part of the appliance.
Clothes Dryers and Fire Safety- Quick Tips
- Have your dryer installed and serviced by a professional.
- Do not use the dryer without a lint filter.
- Make sure you clean the lint filter before or after each load of laundry. Remove lint that has collected around the drum.
- Rigid or flexible metal venting material should be used to sustain proper air flow and drying time.
- Make sure the air exhaust vent pipe is not restricted and the outdoor vent flap will open when the dryer is operating. Once a year, or more often if you notice that it is taking longer than normal for your clothes to dry, clean lint out of the vent pipe or have a dryer lint removal service do it for you.
- Keep dryers in good working order. Gas dryers should be inspected by a qualified professional to make sure that the gas line and connection are intact and free of leaks.
- Make sure the right plug and outlet are used and that the machine is connected properly.
- Follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions and don’t overload your dryer.
- Turn the dryer off if you leave home or when you you go to sleep.
Tips for Rainy Season
TIPS TO PREPARE FOR RAINY SEASON
Property owners can take these proactive steps to minimize the potential for flooding and other hazards:
Check Storm Drains Near Your Home
Leaves can clog storm drains and lead to localized flooding. Sweep away leaves that are lying in the gutter or on top of a storm drain prior to rainfall. If you notice a storm drain that is full to the brim with debris, call the City to have it cleaned.
Check Your Trees
The potential for fallen trees during a storm event is higher this year than in the past. With the drought, some trees have had little or no water. The lack of water has severely strained and weakened some trees, making them especially vulnerable during windy conditions. Remove damaged or weak branches to minimize this hazard.
Don't Use Pesticides or Herbicides Before Rain
Otherwise, these pollution sources will make their way into a nearby storm drain and harm Rancho Cordova's creeks and the American River. Click here to learn how you can use nontoxic pesticides and herbicides to control garden pests and weeds.
Here are some other tips to remember:
- Remove leaves and other debris that may be causing a blockage in your storm drain.
- Rake your leaves and debris to prevent flooding and keep your gutters and storm drains clear.
- Clear debris from gutters and downspouts.
- If your property has a history of flooding, get sandbags at the locations above before the storm arrives.
- Tie down or properly store outdoor refuse cans, lawn equipment, decorations and any other lightweight objects in your yard.
- Check for unstable fences and gates.
- Check for trees and limbs that may be ready to fall.
- Pet owners should check to be sure pets are secure and safe.
- Don't park over drainage inlets.
- Inventory or prepare a basic emergency kit and store it in an accessible place. The kit should include flashlight, bottled water, battery-powered radio, and extra batteries.
- Do not use generators. Electric generators can cause a power surge back to the main line and injure utility workers working on the power lines. Gas generators can cause build-up of deadly carbon monoxide.
- Become familiar with your SMUD service panel location and how to operate the main circuit breaker. To learn how, call SMUD Customer Service at 1-888-742-7683.
- During the storm, stay away from downed or sagging power lines, streetlights, or traffic signals, and any debris that might be entangled with them.
Best Foods to Stockpile for an Emergency
What to Always Keep in Your Pantry
These items have lengthy expiration dates, so you can stash them away for long periods of time. Make a list of everything in your stockpile and check expiration dates every 6 to 12 months to keep things fresh. And don’t forget to have a can opener on hand at all times—all that food won’t be of any use if you can’t open it.
• Peanut butter
A great source of energy, peanut butter is chock-full of healthful fats and protein. Unless the jar indicates otherwise, you don’t have to refrigerate after opening.
• Whole-wheat crackers
Crackers are a good replacement for bread and make a fine substitute when making sandwiches. Due to their higher fat content, whole-wheat or whole-grain crackers have a shorter shelf life than their plain counterparts (check the box for expiration dates), but the extra fiber pays off when you’re particularly hungry. Consider vacuum-packing your crackers to prolong their freshness.
• Nuts and trail mixes
Stock up on these high-energy foods—they’re healthful and convenient for snacking. Look for vacuum-packed containers, which prevent the nuts from oxidizing and losing their freshness.
Choose multigrain cereals that are individually packaged so they don’t become stale after opening.
• Granola bars and power bars
Healthy and filling, these portable snacks usually stay fresh for at least six months. Plus, they’re an excellent source of carbohydrates. “You can get more energy from carbohydrates without [eating] tons of food,” says Andress.
• Dried fruits, such as apricots and raisins
In the absence of fresh fruit, these healthy snacks offer potassium and dietary fiber. “Dried fruits provide you with a significant amount of nutrients and calories,” says Swanson.
• Canned tuna, salmon, chicken, or turkey
Generally lasting at least two years in the pantry, canned meats provide essential protein. Vacuum-packed pouches have a shorter shelf life but will last at least six months, says Diane Van, manager of the USDA meat and poultry hotline.
• Canned vegetables, such as green beans, carrots, and peas
When the real deal isn’t an option, canned varieties can provide you with essential nutrients.
• Canned soups and chili
Soups and chili can be eaten straight out of the can and provide a variety of nutrients. Look for low-sodium options.
• Bottled water
Try to stock at least a three-day supply—you need at least one gallon per person per day. “A normally active person should drink at least a half gallon of water each day,” says Andress. “The other half gallon is for adding to food and washing.”
• Sports drinks, such as Gatorade or Powerade
The electrolytes and carbohydrates in these drinks will help you rehydrate and replenish fluid when water is scarce.
• Powdered milk
Almost all dairy products require refrigeration, so stock this substitute for an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D when fresh milk isn’t an option.
• Sugar, salt, and pepper
If you have access to a propane or charcoal stove, you may be doing some cooking. A basic supply of seasonings and sweeteners will improve the flavor of your food, both fresh and packaged.
Supplements will help replace the nutrients you would have consumed on a normal diet.
3 Strategies to Keep Your Home Safe From Fire
FIRE IS ALWAYS IN THE news, but that seems to particularly be the case lately, from wildfires in the West to the recent church fires in the Southeast. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2013, the most recent year for such data, U.S. fire departments responded to approximately 1.2 million fires. Some 3,240 people, not including firefighters, lost their lives that year, and 2,755 of them died in home fires.
To keep your home safe from fire and protect yourself and your family, you need to put aside some time to think about a plan. Here are three things you should do:
Start with your insurance. If you want to skip this, you don't have to contact your insurance agent, but he or she may give you some good ideas and save you money. While most insurance agents and executives are probably swell people who don't want bad things to happen to good people, the entire business model is about avoiding risk so that insurers don't have to pay up when something catastrophic happens.
So if you can demonstrate that you're taking pains to make your house safe from a fire, your insurer will likely offer you a discount on your homeowners insurance. By protecting yourself, you help protect the insurer from having to fork over a fortune later. Assuming you impress your insurer, the company will likely thank you by giving you a 5 to 15 percent discount on your policy.
Make sure your smoke alarms are in working order. Not to get too dramatic, but doing this could make the difference between living and dying if a fire breaks out. Generally, smoke alarms run anywhere from $10 to a little over $100, depending on the type.
"There are two different types of smoke alarm detectors – ionization and photoelectric – and the ionization works better in detecting flames, and the other would work better in a smoldering fire," says Jake Lemonda, who has had 30 years of experience firefighting in New York City and is the chief representative and president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association.
Which one is the best? Many experts will tell you to get both, and some of the more expensive detectors have dual technology sensors – that is, one detector is equally good at picking up flames and a smoldering fire.
Lemonda says your main objective should simply be to have a smoke detector, and, if possible, "get the type of smoke detector that's interconnected with the other smoke detectors in your home. In other words, if a smoke detector would go off in your kitchen, all of the detectors would go off."
The National Fire Protection Association recommends replacing your smoke alarm every 10 years. In fact, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is reviewing a bill that, if passed, will require all stores in New York state to sell smoke alarms that have a 10-year, nonremovable battery, starting in 2017. One can imagine that someday, this may be an industry standard.
Check your home for fire-prone areas. You could drive yourself insane with worry, looking for all of the ways your house could catch on fire.
For instance, in February, a fire started in a bedroom at a house in London, and the culprit was an empty jar of the hazelnut spread, Nutella, sitting on a bedroom window sill. It's believed the refracted sunlight off the glass started a spark on the blinds. The family wasn't home, but the house burned down, and the family dog perished.
So in other words, think about it long enough, and you could quickly come to the conclusion that every home is a death trap, and that it's hopeless to attempt precautionary measures. But try not to go there. After all, there are a lot of routine maintenance tasks that aren't just smart to do for your home, but will also help reduce your risk of having a fire.
John Bodrozic, a co-founder of the home management website HomeZada.com, offers several examples of things you are probably already doing – so make sure that you continue doing them.
Clean out the dryer vent duct. You probably do this, anyway, right? Your clothes will dry faster if the vent duct that leads to the outside of your home is clear. But it's also a smart fire prevention tactic, Bodrozic says, suggesting you clean it out at least once a year. "Highly flammable lint builds up over time and causes house fires," he says.
Clean out the gutters and make sure the roof is free of debris. It's a smart idea anyway. Debris on the roof looks junky, and clogged gutters can lead to flooding inside the house. But also, Bodrozic says: "Dried out foliage … can easily catch fire."
Trim around the outside of the house. It'll help your landscaping look more attractive, but this, too, is part of basic fire prevention. "Cut down trees and limbs that overhang the house," Bodrozic suggests. "If they catch on fire, it's more likely to spread to the home."
On that note, he adds: "If you live in a forest fire area, try to clear a 50-foot perimeter around the house."
And if you are concerned about wildfires, ReadyforWildfire.org has some useful advice for homeowners. For instance, you might consider building or rebuilding your fence, using noncombustible materials, to protect your home.
Remove shrubs around the air-conditioning unit. This is assuming you've let that part of the yard get out of control. "[Air-conditioning units] need airflow to operate efficiently, and if there is dry brush around it, it starts to work harder, heat up more, and could spark a fire," Bodrozic says.
Keep fire extinguishers in the home. And just as important, take a look at them periodically. "Regularly check their pressure, especially in the kitchen, where cooking often starts a fire," Bodrozic says.
On that last point, it should be easy to check if your extinguisher is working. "They usually all come with a gauge, and usually the arrow indicates when it's charged properly," Lemonda says. "It'll be in the green section of the gauge."
Forgetting to replace an expired fire extinguisher appears to be a common problem. Businesses are frequently cited violations for having expired fire extinguishers, which typically cost about $20 to $30, although you can find them for as low as $10. Last year, the University of Georgia's independent student newspaper, "The Red and Black," did an investigation that found 35 extinguishers out of date in laboratories throughout campus – a dangerous situation, the paper pointed out, since labs "frequently experience chemical spills or other accidents."
In homes, cooking is the leading cause of fire and home injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Association. So make sure your fire extinguisher is in proper working order, and if not, buy a new one as soon as you can. If you think about it, if you don't have a working extinguisher, you really just own a big, red paperweight.