Understanding HVAC Hazards
Understanding the potential dangers of your HVAC systems will help you prevent them
In order to keep businesses cool throughout the warm summer season that is upon us, our HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems will be working nonstop. What you may not know is that with frequent use, HVAC systems can actually be fire hazards. We usually think of electrical malfunctions, complications involving cooking equipment, or careless accidents as the catalysts of commercial fires. Even though complications involving HVAC systems are not the first cause of commercial fires that comes to mind, fires of this nature can be devastating for businesses. It is beneficial for commercial businesses to gain awareness of common fire hazards associated with HVAC systems in order to understand how to effectively protect against significant fire damage.
Three Common Hazards
One way in which HVAC systems can be fire hazards is if the system has a leaking fuel line. HVAC systems house flammable fuels, including gas, petroleum, and oil, which can easily catch fire if the fuel line leaks upon suffering damage. This fire hazard can be avoided by making sure that your commercial business’ HVAC system and fuel line receive regular, routine maintenance. Regularly scheduled maintenance is incredibly important in protecting your business from a fire due to an HVAC system’s leaking fuel line because leaking fuel lines can often go unnoticed.
Damaged electrical connections within an HVAC system can also be a fire hazard due to the prevalence of exposed or burnt electrical wires. Over time, electrical connections loosen, which result in damaged wires, thus increasing the risk of a fire igniting. A common sign of damaged electrical connections within an HVAC system is the smell of burnt plastic, which is due to the melting of the plastic coating on electrical wires. In the event that you notice this smell in your business’ building, it may be a sign that your HVAC system has damaged electrical connections and therefore, needs to be repaired or replaced in order to avoid a dangerous fire.
Oftentimes, HVAC systems are stored in closets or storage areas inside of commercial businesses. As a result, they may be situated too close to other objects, such as cardboard boxes, crates, or miscellaneous equipment. Under this condition, the HVAC system is more susceptible to damage and, if a fire were to ignite, it could easily spread to the surrounding objects, thus creating a larger, more dangerous fire. This increases the likelihood of the fire spreading to other areas of your business, which can be devastating. Keep the area around HVAC systems clear in order to protect your business from this hazard.
Experienced a Fire?
Has your commercial business experienced a fire due to an HVAC hazard? If so, remember to call SERVPRO. SERVPRO’s team of trained fire and water restoration specialists are standing by to quickly and efficiently restore your commercial business back to normal after suffering a fire loss and resulting water damage.
Deal with A Leaky Dishwasher
We use dishwashers practically every day in order to ensure that our silverware, cups, and dishes are clean. Because dishwashers are used so frequently, there is a greater risk for the formation of a leak and even flooding. Your kitchen and its surrounding areas can experience serious water damage if the leak or flooding from the dishwasher is significant. At first glance, a small leak may not seem capable of instigating major water damage, but a series of small leaks or a recurring leak can cause a large quantity of water to accumulate over time, thus resulting in larger-scale water damage. It is important to understand the common causes of dishwasher leaks and floods, as well as methods of effective cleaning in order to protect your home from extensive water damage.
There are many reasons as to why dishwashers can leak or flood, but there are three common causes with which it is beneficial to be familiar. Damage to a dishwasher door, such as a bent door latch or an improperly latched door, is the first of three common causes of dishwasher leaks. Dishwasher door damage is most likely the culprit of your leak if you observe a leak directly beneath the dishwasher door. The use of an improper dishwasher detergent is a second common cause of dishwasher leaks. Standard dish soap may appear to be an acceptable alternative to dishwasher detergent, but dish soap is not appropriate for dishwashers, as it produces an excess of foam and suds. Those suds push water against the dishwasher door, which apply pressure to the dishwasher door and can result in water leaking out of the unit. Dishwasher units can malfunction on occasion and take in more water than they should, which serves as a third common cause of dishwasher leaks. When dishwashers overfill with water, the unit may have trouble draining properly, thus increasing the likelihood of water leaking or flooding from the unit.
In order to prevent more water from escaping the unit, water must be shut off before the cleanup process begins. Because water and electricity are not a safe combination, it is extremely important to also shut off electricity if your dishwasher unit is located near electrical outlets or other electrical appliances. Following this step, the next order of business is to, through the use of a mop or towels, remove as much standing water as possible. If there is still water flowing from the unit, it may be beneficial to create a barrier using towels. The leak or flood water may have reached surrounding areas of your kitchen, such as cabinets, nearby furniture, or pantries, so it is important to check those areas for water damage. If they have undergone such damage, remove items within cabinets or pantries and clear out damaged furniture from the area. A wet-dry vacuum can be used to eliminate any additional standing water. After this has been completed, it is important to dry and disinfect the surfaces that have been impacted by the dishwasher leak or flood in order to protect against the growth of mold or mildew, which can lead to further damage. Mold thrives in moisture and humidity, so it is a good idea to open windows as a means of maintaining air circulation and utilize a dehumidifier to sustain low levels of humidity inside of your home.
Need Additional Help?
Dishwasher leaks and floods can be overwhelming. SERVPRO’s trained water damage specialists and advanced drying equipment are just a call away and ready to help remediate the areas of your home that have experienced water damage as a result of a dishwasher leak or flood.
Spring Mold Prevention
If not handled properly, mold has a better chance to regrow, or even spread.
Springtime is in full swing, with flowers blossoming, birds singing, and temperatures getting a little warmer. This change in direction towards more pleasant weather drives us to open windows and let in the fresh air. While this may seem appealing, doing so can actually increase the chances of mold growing in your home. Mold can grow at any time during the year, but during the spring, warmer and more humid spring air enters the home, which creates the perfect conditions for mold growth when combined with moisture on any surface, including wood, carpet, and insulation among others. This spring, protect your home and those living in it by understanding effective preventative measures that you can take to stop mold from growing in your home.
First and foremost, it is crucial to keep air circulating throughout the home during the spring in order to reduce humidity and prevent mold growth. Fans can be incredibly helpful in maintaining air flow and dehumidifiers are effective in decreasing humidity levels within the home. Humidity levels in the home should not exceed 45%. Some areas of the home that are habitually cold and dark are particularly susceptible to mold growth, so it may be beneficial to pay close attention to these areas and do your best to bring in natural or artificial light in order to help prevent mold growth.
Rain showers and storms are prevalent during the springtime, which can lead to the growth of mold on areas surrounding windows and doors of your home. In order to prevent mold growth in these areas, be sure to frequently check surfaces surrounding doors and windows, including walls, floors, and windowsills. If moisture from rain or storms accumulates on these areas, it is important that they are dried quickly and thoroughly. Moisture can also accumulate in these areas due to condensation on windows and doors, which occurs frequently throughout the spring with differing temperatures indoors and outdoors. When met with humidity, mold can grow quickly in these areas.
If you see mold growing on a surface in your home, it is important to scrub the area diligently using detergent and water. Thoroughly drying the surface afterward is equally important, because if there is still moisture left in the area, you run the risk of mold growing on the surface once more. Usually, isolated and small-scale mold growth is manageable. However, larger-scale mold infestations can become overwhelming and require the assistance of professionals. Call SERVPRO’s mold remediation specialists to effectively inspect, assess, and remediate your home’s mold situation.
What Does FEMA Have to do With Waffles?
Many years ago, in 2004, a hurricane swept across the east coast. FEMA went to work, doing what they could to analyze the damage and help the communities that had been struck by the disaster. At the same time, an informal metric would rise out of this slew of hurricanes that would puzzle civilians for years to come. This metric was, The Waffle House Index. What exactly is The Waffle House Index? Well, a researcher working for FEMA at the time noticed that one could theoretically quantify how severe a natural disaster was to the surrounding areas by analyzing the current operating status of Waffle Houses in the affected area. If the store was open, green light, if the store was running on a limited menu, yellow light, and if the store was completely shut down, red light. It turned out that while the premise might have seemed odd, FEMA could get a pretty decent idea of the severity of the situation in a certain region. It began as sort of a joke until the term was coined by FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate in May 2011 (https://n.pr/2JznNEc).
Now, with the current epidemic, The Waffle House Index is being put to the test again but now on a nationwide scale. If we can take anything from this story its that being able to support the community should be held above all house. Good risk management is one thing, but understanding how to prepare for any size disaster, and being able to hold the foundation of our communities because of our preparedness is a trait that we hold pride on as well.
SERVPRO Disaster Recovery Team-Team Wall, chooses to be that foundation for our community every day we put our boots on the ground.
We are here to help. We are here to commit. We are here to serve.
SERVPRO, One Team.
Proactive Cleaning Services
Anytime, Anywhere, Anyhow
In the light of the recent outbreak, several businesses have been forced to close their doors. Yet because of the nature of our jobs, we're still available, we're still on call, we're still here to support.
SERVPRO of Harrisburg West has a range of programs to support all kinds of companies in their time of need to propel them back to their feet when it's time to re-open their business.
We are now providing Viral Cleaning, also known as Proactive Cleaning, to make sure that your location is up to code and clean in the event of a viral outbreak in your home. Through using Electrostatic Fogging, we can offer less costly per square foot operation, more extensive coverage, and provide certified evidence that your facility has been cleaned by a qualified IICRC accredited company as opposed to conventional disinfectant and sanitation services. In fact, the drug we use is free of allergens and so healthy that it has been certified for human consumption.
If you are interested in this service, please call us using the button below or, if you are so inclined, call us for further details. We're here to help, we're here to get our nation back on its feet, and we're here to make it "Like it never even happened."
3 Ways to Prevent Wind Damage Due to Spring Storms
As we transition from winter to spring, strong storms are beginning to become increasingly prevalent. These spring storms, which often carry severe thunderstorms, gusty winds, and sometimes even tornadoes, can wreak havoc on your home. Breaking tree branches and sending them flying across your yard, strong winds can pose an especially dangerous threat. The force of the wind in any given storm varies drastically, from calm speeds less than 1 mph to hurricane-force greater than or equal to 73 mph. During storms that produce strong winds, the areas of the home that are most commonly impacted are the roof, doors, windows, and garages, according to FEMA. These areas can become severely damaged due to strong winds, and your home’s structure can be compromised, which can require significant repairs. Taking preventative measures before a strong, spring storm even appears in the forecast can aid in protecting your home from wind damage this spring.
Maintain Landscape and Trees
The area surrounding your home plays a critical role in spring storms. Strong winds can break branches off of trees and can also result in fallen trees, which can cause devastating damage if the trees are situated close to your home. To prevent trees from falling during periods of strong wind, avoid over-watering trees, as doing so can weaken trees’ root systems. Because strong wind can also pick up objects, outdoor items such as patio furniture, grills, and sports equipment should be taken inside and stored in a safe place, such as a shed. If those items must remain outside during a storm, make sure that they are anchored to the ground as best as possible.
Inspect the Roof
It is often difficult to tell when our roofs are in need of repair because they lie outside of our sight. Because roofs can succumb to further damage during severe storms, it is imperative that roofs are inspected twice per year in order to identify and fix any major issues before a severe storm. Look for signs of roof damage, such as loose or missing shingles, as well as water damage in the attic. For a more thorough inspection of your roof, hire a roofing professional, as he or she could detect issues that are more difficult to spot. When shingles require replacement, it may be beneficial to switch to more durable, weather-resistant shingles in order to protect your roof from significant wind damage.
Reinforce Windows and Doors
Because doors and windows are vulnerable to destruction during storms with strong winds, installing storm shutters can be effective in protecting them from flying debris. You can purchase storm shutters or create your own by nailing plywood onto doors and windows during strong winds. Alongside doors and windows, garages are also particularly susceptible to damage during storms with strong winds. To protect your garage and keep it in place during a storm, consider purchasing a garage door bracing kit.
Proactive Cleaning Services
SERVPRO Disaster Recovery Team ready to mitigate an assisted living facility in Washington State
"The World Health Organization announced the coronavirus to be a global pandemic at a press conference on Wednesday leading to a flood of new steps and initiatives being taken around the world to fight the virus." What once felt like a distant glimpse of possibility is now feeling too tangible and reaching close home. Towson University, Loyola, Morgan State University, a few public schools in Prince George's County and several more are all taking precautionary measures and closing because of potential viral exposure. Field trips, conventions, and public sporting events were cancelled, and after school activities. Shelves in the grocery store are bare and everybody asks... what more?
It's a chaotic time and we take comfort in those moments when we know that something is being done to help. SERVPRO has some key messages and most important is "We Are Here to Help." SERVPRO is now out on the streets more than ever working to contain the newly announced pandemic and mitigate its impacts.
The hardest-hit facility so far is in an assisted living facility in Kirkland, Washington. The Disaster Recovery Team at SERVPRO is actively focused on sanitizing, disinfecting and cleaning this building from top to bottom using specialized methods of cleaning and application. In compliance with the guidance issued by the CDC and local authorities, SERVPRO performs all cleanup and bioremediation activities.
It is important to note that the cleaning methods need to be more sophisticated and effective with this level of Bioremediation than just wiping hard surfaces with disinfectant. Health comes first and with the use of PPE and protective masks, our teams adhere to OSHA and CDC guidelines. We use the fogging methods to more deeply disinfect. SERVPROxide, the hospital-grade disinfectant, is released from the fogger, and its particles adhere strongly to surfaces and objects. The procedure must ensure that all surfaces including walls, doors, floors, and ceilings are uniformly coated. Instead we follow our initial fogging with a wiping of all surfaces followed by a further fogging round. It is an extreme and comprehensive disinfection process, which should be the norm when dealing with this magnitude of a virus hazard.
Our team is ready to assist with preventive or post-contamination cleaning to avoid interruption of industry, education, and events. We are describing "Proactive" as cleaning that occurs when no person is suspected of being exposed to viruses. It would be a smaller area of study, since no verified case has been identified.
If there was exposure to anyone suspected of either testing positively for viruses or being subjected to someone displaying symptoms in your facility, we call this "post-contamination" cleaning. In this situation the scope of work and the required safety measures will increase.
Eliminating exposure to this virus is the most important step we can take to mitigate its spread across our world. For more information on how to protect your company, your employees and your building, please contact our team.
Burst Pipes 101
Keep your business running with SERVPRO
With spring getting closer and closer every day, temperatures will begin to get warmer, but cold temperatures will stick around for a little while longer. Fluctuating temperatures during the coming months can have devastating effects on pipes, which can inflict damage on your commercial business if they burst. Pressure increases in pipes when temperatures fluctuate, as the water within the pipes expands and contracts depending on the temperature. This pressure facilitates the bursting and rupturing of pipes. Water damage can have a significant negative impact on your commercial business, so it is crucial to understand how to sufficiently prevent pipes from bursting and what to do in the event that pipes burst in order to protect your business.
Before anything else, it is beneficial to make certain that your business is protected by an insurance plan that covers water damage due to burst pipes, as restoration costs are often expensive. As a business owner, you can protect pipes by wrapping pipes that are found outdoors or in unheated places in insulated sleeves, which will prevent pipes from freezing when temperatures drop. However, if pipes freeze, allowing water to run through the pipes can help keep them from bursting. Lastly, survey pipes for small leaks on a regular basis when temperatures drop in order to catch a leak before pipes rupture.
If Pipes Burst…
As soon as you become aware that a pipe has burst, shut off water, electricity, and heating systems. Leaving these systems running can increase the severity of damage caused by burst pipes. Move important items, such as documents or inventory, to a safe location in which they will not be affected by water damage. If you are unsure as to whether water damage has impacted your building, watch for signs of water damage, which include stains or discoloration, mold or mildew growth, and musty smells. If signs of water damage become visible, open windows and doors in order to air out the area, facilitate drying, and avoid mold growth. SERVPRO understands that water damage caused by burst pipes creates a significant interruption in any business, so you can trust SERVPRO to quickly and sufficiently remedy the situation, getting your business back on its feet in no time.
Home Cooking Fire Safety
Most, but not all, house fires originate from the kitchen.
Did you know that the most common cause of household fires stems from something that many of us do multiple times every day? Cooking can be the culprit of unwanted fires in the kitchen that can spread to other areas if they are not dealt with immediately. You may be wondering, without avoiding cooking, how can the chances of an unwanted fire igniting be decreased? Follow the steps below before and during cooking in order to prevent the ignition of an unwanted kitchen fire while cooking.
Before turning on the stove or the oven, make sure that your cooking space does not contain any flammable objects, such as paper towels, oven mitts, or towels. Next, be sure to clean any leftover oil, grease, or food debris that may have accumulated on stove tops or inside of ovens since the last time you cooked, as such substances can catch fire easily. In addition to ovens and stove tops, pots and pans can also include grease and oil residue from past cooking experiences. Therefore, it is important to make sure that the insides and outsides of pots and pans are cleaned thoroughly in order to prevent an undesired fire from igniting. Even though it only requires a quick moment of your time, cleaning all cooking surfaces and materials that you plan to use while cooking is a crucial step in protecting your home from a dangerous fire as a result of cooking.
When it is time to begin cooking, it is of the utmost importance that you pay attention throughout the cooking process. The chance of a fire igniting and becoming out of control increases when cooking objects are left unattended. However, it may not always be possible to keep a constant watchful eye while cooking. Therefore, if it is required that you leave the room for a moment while cooking, be sure to temporarily turn off the stove. It may also not be reasonable to be present in the kitchen for the entire period of time required when cooking something that must be baked or roasted for a significant length of time. In this case, remember to check on the cooking at a regular interval in order to decrease the chances of a fire igniting without your knowledge.
Taking preventative measures will help decrease the probability of an unwanted fire igniting while cooking, but even with our best intentions, it is still possible. If your home is equipped with functional smoke alarms and there is a fire extinguisher always kept in the kitchen, your home will be further protected. In the event that a fire breaks out, only attempt to extinguish it yourself if it is small and contained. If the fire is large and unmanageable, exit the house as quickly and safely as possible while making sure that all of the other occupants of the house also escape safely and call 911 as soon as possible. Once the fire has been contained and extinguished, remember to call SERVPRO in order to ensure a speedy and effective repair of any damage caused by the fire.
Preventing Basement Floods Due to Snowmelt
Water damage nearly always requires deep cleaning to prevent a multitude of issues.
While basement flooding is prominent during rainy seasons, it should be known that basement flooding can occur at any time during the year. Basements, regardless of whether or not they have ever previously flooded, are capable of flooding. This is largely due to the fact that basements are usually located beneath ground level. Basement flooding occurs when moisture within the ground seeps through basement walls or foundation. Snow, ice, and other frozen precipitation is dumped on the ground during the winter season. When that precipitation melts, its moisture is absorbed into the ground, which can surround basement walls with water, increasing the likelihood of flooding. In order to protect your basement from flooding due to snow melt this winter and spring, consider removing snow and ensuring that basement foundations are free from any cracks.
After a heavy snowfall, it is important to create a barrier of at least five feet between the snow and your home, as snow melt close to the home can increase the amount of moisture in the ground surrounding basement walls with moisture. Such a barrier can be created by shoveling snow away from the base of your home. Because snow that falls on roofs and overhangs can melt and fall around the base of the home, which would increase the amount of moisture in the ground surrounding the basement, it is also essential to clear snow off of those areas.
Fix Cracks in Foundation
When basement walls become cracked, the risk of flooding increases, as the cracks allow water in the ground to make its way into the basement. Flooding often leads to water damage, which can facilitate mold growth and damage objects such as walls, carpets, and furniture in a basement. Repairing these cracks is crucial in order to protect your basement from flooding due to snowmelt and all of its repercussions. For a temporary fix, cracks can be filled using epoxy. However, for a longer-lasting repair, enlisting the help of a professional may be beneficial. The chances of your basement flooding due to snowmelt can be decreased significantly if its foundation and walls are rid of any cracks.
If Your Basement Floods…
Even when one takes seemingly every preventative measure possible, there is still a chance that their basement can flood. In the event that your basement floods due to snowmelt, water needs to be removed as quickly as possible in order to avoid water damage. Minimal flooding may be able to be remedied through the utilization of a wet vacuum for water removal and dehumidifiers. Significant flooding, however, often requires professional restoration. Calling SERVPRO of Harrisburg West guarantees that your basement flood due to snowmelt will be remedied thoroughly and quickly in order to prevent any further damage.