Recent Posts

Clogged Gutters & Water Damage

10/22/2020 (Permalink)

It’s that time of the year when leaves are falling from the trees and filling our gutters.  It’s important to clean your gutters and remove the leaves, in order to prevent water problems in the winter and spring.  Gutters clogged with leaves can cause 2 different water problems. 

If your gutters are clogged with leaves, water from rain or melting snow cannot freely flow off your roof and an ice dam can form when the temperature dips below freezing.  An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents additional melting snow from draining off the roof.  As snow melts from your roof, either by the heat of the sun, or by heat escaping from your home, it tends to refreeze at the edges and other juncture points of your roof.  The refreezing water has a damming effect creating an even bigger ice dam behind it.  Continuous feeding of the ice dam by melting and refreezing snow melt can cause significant damage.  As the water seeps under shingles it refreezes, expanding and creating an even bigger gap for future drainage to fill and further the cycle.  Your shingles are being raised and eventually the water that backs up behind the dam, and underneath the shingles, can leak into your home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and create a perfect environment for mold growth.  In extreme cases we have seen water pouring down into living areas when winter rain falls on the ice dam.  To see a graphic of how ice dams work, see our blog post from January 14, 2020.   

In warmer weather, clogged gutters can also cause water problems in your basement.  In an April 21st, 2020 blog post, we discussed the importance of proper grading around your home to keep water from rain and melting snow flowing away from your foundation and home. Downspouts help to direct rainwater from your roof away from your home.  If the gutters are clogged, water can pour over the gutters versus going into the downspouts and flowing away from your home.  Water by your foundation is never a good thing.  It can compromise your foundation and have a way of finding itself in your basement.  In addition, repeated episodes of water pouring over your gutters can cause erosion of the ground around your foundation, which can cause low spots near your foundation furthering the cycle.  In that same blog on April 21st, 2020, we shared a great video on the proper slope around your home. 

Ideally, you should clean your gutters twice a year, in the spring and in the fall.                  

National Moldy Cheese Day

10/9/2020 (Permalink)

October 9th is National Moldy Cheese Day.  While an old hunk of cheese sitting around in your refrigerator that has red or brown-tinged mold on it is typically contaminated with bacteria, and is not good for consumption, grey, blue, or green colored moldy cheeses like Roquefort, Brie, bleu and gorgonzola to name a few can be quite tastey.  If you have never tried a moldy cheese, your local deli may have a cheesemonger.  A cheesemonger is a person who specializes in cheeses, butter, and other dairy products.  A cheesemonger can provide expert advice on artisan cheeses for recipes, banquets and sources for restaurants.

While mold on cheese may be a good thing, mold in your home or business is not.  Mold is considered a lifeform and it can be found anywhere.  During the spring and summer months it is not uncommon for your local weather forecaster to include counts of allergens in the air like pollen and mold.  People who suffer from allergies to mold and other outdoor fungi feel their allergies are worse in the late summer than in spring.

The mold spores that are in the air can deposit themselves on just about any surface and grow whenever water or moisture is present.  And it doesn’t take a lot of moisture for mold spores to grow.  Even condensation on windowsills is enough moisture for mold spores to grow.  Therefore, to prevent mold in your home or business it’s important to keep humidity levels at a reasonable level and address any leaks from things like plumbing, roofs, windows etc. as soon as possible.         

If you find a mold problem in your home or business we have IICRC certified experts in mold to help you find the source of your problem and safely remove the mold from the building. 

National Save Your Photos Day

9/26/2020 (Permalink)

The last Saturday in September, which this year is the 26th, is National Save Your Photos Day.  As a restoration company, we often tell our customers that when you experience a flood or a fire, we can make it "Like it never even happened.”  Sadly, photos are one of the few items in your home or business this may not apply to.  These valuable memories are perishable. Today is an excellent day to remind yourself to protect your photos should your home or business ever experience a disaster.

When it comes to your digital photos, it is important to have a solid back up plan.  Following is a great article on creating a solid back up plan for your digital photos:

https://digital-photography-school.com/create-solid-backup-strategy-photos/

As for older printed photos, and/or camera negatives, you can either convert these images to digital images and/or we recommend storing them in a fire and waterproof (or at least resistant) safe.  Small fire and waterproof safes start at around $50 at major retailers like Walmart or Costco to name a few.

To convert photos to digital images you can either purchase a photo scanner and scan your photos to digital images yourself, or if you prefer, a quick google search of the topic will yield several companies that will provide this service for you.  A few options among many are: 

www.scancafe.com

www.fotobridge.com

www.legacybox.com

Some local camera stores may provide this service as well. 

Mitigation & Rebuild Processes

8/12/2020 (Permalink)

Picture of Flood Cut Drywall Pictured is an example of a drywall flood cut in a basement water loss

Did you know that making your water damage disaster “Like it never even happened,” is a two-step process?  And that each process is billed separately?  The first step is what we call “mitigation”.  The second step is what we call “rebuild”.     

MITIGATION

The first and most important step is mitigation.  The definition of mitigation is: “the action of reducing the severity, seriousness, or painfulness of something”.  In the water restoration industry mitigation is the actual drying of your structure in a timely manner, with timely being the key word.

Drying your structure in a timely manner after a water loss is essential to reducing its severity.  Timely drying of your structure prevents something we call “secondary damage” and makes it more likely that we will be able to save versus having to remove parts of your structure.  When things like wood, drywall, fabric, carpeting, insulation, and so much more get wet, they need to be dried quickly, to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria, wood rot, leaching, and delamination.  (Delamination is a mode of failure where a material fractures into layers.)  Once these things happen, very often there is no choice but to remove them.    

Our goal in the mitigation process is to dry the structure while saving as much of it as we can with as little disruption as possible.  That said, the drying process can require the removal of things like woodwork, cabinets, carpet padding, and more, in-order to get air circulating behind and under them.     

Drywall is a perfect example.  Our first choice is to completely dry drywall in place.  In-order to do this, it is important to get air circulating behind the drywall.  Drywall can often feel dry to the touch even though it is not.  Things like paint can mask the moisture that is hidden on the back side of the drywall.  If that happens, mold and bacteria will start to grow on the backside of the drywall and the building will begin to stink and maybe even become unhealthy.  We have special meters that can detect moisture hidden deep within.  If we detect moisture on the backside of your drywall our first choice will be to dry it in place.  We do this by removing the baseboards, drilling holes in the drywall behind the baseboard and putting special low-profile air movers up to the holes to get air circulating behind the drywall.  Once the drywall dries, the baseboard can be put back up.  The baseboard will cover the holes and the water damage to the drywall will be "Like it never even happened.” 

If, however the drywall is too saturated or has been wet for too long, it may need to be removed.  But even then, we do it with as little disruption as possible. We only remove drywall that cannot be saved.  When the water has come from the ground up like in a flooded basement situation, this often results in something we call a “flood cut”.  This is where we cut and remove only the drywall at the bottom 1/3 of the wall or the drywall that cannot be saved.

The second step after mitigation is to “rebuild”, or put back, everything that has been displaced or completely removed in the mitigation process.    

REBUILD

During the rebuild phase, things that were displaced or removed are put back or replaced. In our drywall example above, if we were able to dry the drywall in place, the rebuild phase would involve putting the baseboard back up and thereby covering the holes in the drywall.  If any drywall could not be saved and had to be removed like in our flood cut example, new drywall is put up, taped, mudded and the wall painted. 

It is important to note that these two steps are truly separate and distinct and are even billed separately.  The mitigation process is the part that is most necessary.  It prevents further damage and preserves the safety of the structure. 

Some water restoration companies do not offer rebuild services.  We are a full-service restoration company with in-house carpenters and regular subcontractors for all of our customer’s rebuild needs.  Once the mitigation process is complete, we will ask you if you want a bid for the rebuild process.  While some property owners choose not rebuild at all, do the work themselves, or have a different contractor they prefer to use for construction jobs, many end up doing the rebuild work with us.  But much of it depends upon their level of insurance coverage and their own financial situation.

One of the most common problems we see is an inadequate amount of insurance coverage.  Many property owners have adequate coverage to pay for the mitigation process, but they do not have enough to cover the rebuild process.  If you want your water damage situation to truly be “Like it never even happened,” talk to your insurance agent today to make sure you have adequate coverage to cover both steps.             

IICRC Certification

7/19/2020 (Permalink)

All of our management and crew leads, as well as most of our technicians, are IICRC Certified.  What does that mean to our customers?   

IICRC stands for “Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification”. The IICRC is a certification and standard setting non-profit organization for the inspection, cleaning and restoration industries. They develop health and safety related industry standards, as well as common, industry-accepted language and terminology.

It was founded in 1972 by Ed York.  Today it is a global organization, headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, with more than 53,000 active certified technicians and more than 6,000 Certified Firms. 

In order to become certified, candidates must successfully complete a course in one of over 20 qualifications in cleaning, inspection, and restoration, at one of 70 approved schools worldwide.  In addition to successfully completing the course, they must also get a passing grade on a standardized exam.  In order to remain IICRC Certified, candidates must earn continuing education credits.

Each IICRC Certification costs SERVPRO of Appleton a fair amount of money in course fees, certification fees, travel and lodging expenses, and lost time on the job.  But this is a cost we gladly incur in order to have the best trained staff.  Our customers can be assured that our staff has received the highest level of training in our industry.       

National Pet Fire Safety Day

7/15/2020 (Permalink)

July 15th is National Pet Fire Safety Day.  The American Kennel Club in association with ADT Security Services declared National Pet Fire Safety Day in 2009 to educate pet owners on how to take steps to prevent fires and plan for unexpected emergencies. In other words, pet owners need to take steps to ensure their pets don’t accidentally cause a fire, and they need to take steps to ensure their pets safety should the unfortunate happen.    

Many home fires are caused by one of four things:

  • Electrical Fires
  • Cooking or Kitchen Fires
  • Candles or Other Open Flames
  • Clothes Dryers

With that in mind, here are some Pet Fire Safety Tips:

  • Extinguish open flames.  Pets are curious and certainly not cautious.  Wagging tails haphazardly knock over candles. Curious kitties will paw at sizzling grease, quickly sending a kitchen up in flames.
  • Remove knobs from the stove.  When not in use, they will not accidentally get turned on.
  • Consider flameless candles for ambiance and backup lighting in the event of a power outage.
  • Replace glass water bowls with metal or plastic.  Outside on wooden decks, they can heat up and actually start a fire.
  • Store leashes and collars near the entrance of your home. When away, have your pets in the main living area for easy rescue.
  • Secure young pets when away from home. This can help avoid fire hazards.  Pet kennels or in a pet-proofed room are options.
  • Fire alert window clings help firefighters identifying the room your pets are located and identify the number of pets in the home. Add one to the window of the room you keep your pets when you are away. Keep it updated with the number of pets who reside with you and your current phone number.
  • Have a plan when you are home. Know which family members will be responsible for each pet.

National Social Media Day

6/30/2020 (Permalink)

June 30th is National Social Media Day.  In a relatively short time, social media has completely transformed our lives.  Many people might be surprised to know that it all started with a site called Friendster.  According to Wikipedia, “Friendster was a U.S. social networking site based in Mountain View, California, founded in 2002 and launched in March 2003 by Jonathan Abrams.  The company was sold in 2015 and became a social gaming site based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.”

A more widely known social networking site called My Space was born from Friendster.  According to Wikipedia, “In August 2003, several eUniverse employees with Friendster accounts saw potential in its social networking features.  The group decided to mimic the more popular features of the website.  Within 10 days, the first version of Myspace was ready for launch… From 2005 to 2008, it was the largest social networking site in the world, reaching more than 100 million users per month.”

Of course, we all know that Myspace was eventually dwarfed by Facebook.  Today roughly 68% of U.S. adults say that they use Facebook, and roughly three-quarters of them say they access Facebook on a daily basis.  Facebook users span a wide range of ages and demographic groups. 

Given those numbers, it’s not surprising that most U.S. companies also have a Facebook page.  We here at SERVPRO of Appleton are no exception.  We would love to count you among our followers at:

https://www.facebook.com/SERVPROAppleton

Followers of our page can find helpful tips for cleaning their homes, avoiding disasters and so much more

Terminally Cleaning a Healthcare Facility

5/28/2020 (Permalink)

Picture of our employee Amanda Baranczyk Amanda Baranczyk

Healthcare professionals all over the United States are bravely caring for COVID-19 patients.  We here at SERVPRO of Appleton are proud to assist them in any way we can.  Every night we have a crew, headed up by our very own Amanda Baranczyk, that goes into a local medical facility and terminally cleans the entire floor being used for COVID-19.  This includes COVID-19 patient rooms, the nurse’s station, lounges, restrooms and more, the entire floor.   

Terminal cleaning is a cleaning method used in healthcare environments to control the spread of infections. It is the thorough cleaning/disinfection of all surfaces including walls, floors, ceilings, and re-usable equipment.   

Amanda says that she really enjoys her work at the hospital.  She enjoys helping people, and the contribution she can make to her community during this global pandemic. This work is a perfect match for Amanda as she has even joked that she would do this work for free.  We here at SERVPRO of Appleton, and the entire Appleton community, are lucky to have her and her crew!  Together we will get through these difficult times.    

Grocery Store Fire

5/27/2020 (Permalink)

SERVPRO Industries was originally launched in 1967 by Ted and Doris Isaacson as a painting business in Sacramento, California.  But with their background in cleaning and restoration, they transformed the company into a franchisor of cleanup and restoration specialists.  They sold their first franchise in 1969.  By 1988, there were 647 franchises and the corporate headquarters was moved to Gallatin, Tennessee.  Today there are over 1,700 franchises in the United States and Canada. 

According to Wikipedia, “Despite the franchise structure of numerous relatively small entities, SERVPRO has the capacity and organizational competence to respond to large-scale disasters, including major corporate and government contracts…..”  What that means to you is that we are always here to help. Whether you are a single homeowner in an area that has been hit by a large scale storm like a hurricane, or you are a large or small business, we can call upon our national franchise system to work together to address your needs.  We are the only restoration company in the industry that has the organizational competence to do this.    

Recently we helped the Madison franchise clean up after a fryer caught fire at a Pick ‘n Save in Columbus, Wisconsin.  Our two franchises worked together and put in long hours so that the store could reopen in just 3 days. We couldn’t be any prouder of our crews and the effort they put in to get that grocery store reopened, especially during these unprecedented times of a global pandemic.  It’s so important that our grocery stores remain open to serve their communities.        

National Pack Rat Day

5/13/2020 (Permalink)

May 17th is National Pack Rat Day.  Pack Rat is a nickname commonly used for a person who collects or hoards, often unneeded, items.  Sometimes a Pack Rat can evolve into a compulsive hoarder. 

According to Wikipedia, “Compulsive hoarding, also known as hording disorder, is a behavioral pattern characterized by excessive acquisition of and an inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that cover the living areas of the home and cause significant distress or impairment.  Compulsive hording behavior has been associated with health risks, impaired functioning, workplace impairment, economic burden, and adverse effects on friends and family members.  When clinically significant enough to impair functioning, hoarding can prevent typical uses of space enough so that it can limit activities such as cooking, cleaning, moving through the house, and sleeping.  It can also put the individual and others at risk of fires, falling, poor sanitation, and other health concerns.

Researchers have recognized compulsive hoarding as a phenomenon since at least the 1980’s, but only recently have begun to study hoarding, and it was first defined as a mental disorder in the 5th edition of the DSM in 2013.  It was not clear whether compulsive hoarding is a separate, isolated disorder, or rather a symptom of another condition, such as OCD, but the current DSM lists hoarding disorder as both a mental disability and a possible symptom of OCD.  Prevalence rates have been estimated at 2%-5% in adults, though the condition typically manifests in childhood with symptoms worsening in advanced age, at which point collected items have grown excessive and family members who would otherwise help to maintain and control the levels of clutter have either died or moved away.  Hoarding appears to be more common in people with psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  Other factors associated with hoarding include alcohol dependence and paranoid, schizotypal and avoidance traits.”

If you suspect that a friend or a loved one is a compulsive hoarder, getting them the proper psychological help is essential.  But in addition to the psychological help, they will need help cleaning and organizing their home or living space.  We here at SERVPRO of Appleton & Winnebago County have extensive experience cleaning severe hoarding situations.  We will clean the space with efficiency and compassion.