Did you know that we are currently in the heart of tornado season? Tornadoes can occur anytime of the year but are most common between the months of March and September, peaking in May, June and July. This is because tornadoes form in particularly violent thunderstorms with sufficient instability and wind shear present in the lower atmosphere.
The Fujita Scale is a scale for rating tornado intensity.
While EF5 tornadoes are somewhat rare in Wisconsin, they have occurred at least 6 times. In recent history there was one in Oakfield in 1996 and Barneveld in 1984. But as you can see, with wind speeds between 72 & 260 miles per hour, even a lesser tornado can do significant damage. Always be aware of changing weather conditions and know the safest place to go should a tornado warning be issued.
And know that storms strong enough to produce tornadoes often knock out power to thousands of homes in an area. For many homeowners, no power means no running sump pump. And no running sump pump can mean a lot of water in your basement. Consider a battery back-up for our sump pump and talk to your insurance agent
Cleaning Mud on Carpets
It's been a particularly wet spring. Here's a little trick from Linda Cobb in "Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean" on how to remove mud from your carpet.
"Cover wet mud with salt or baking soda and let dry thoroughly before touching. Once it is dry, vacuum it using the attachment hose to concentrate the suction on the mud. Use a good carpet spotter, following the directions, to complete the process. For red dirt or mud, use a rust remover such as Whink or Rust Magic to remove any color residue. Make sure you test the rust remover in a small area first."
And of course if this doesn't work, you can always call the professionals at SERVPRO of Appleton.
Preparing Yourself in Case of Fire Damage
Linda Cobb, 15 year owner of a disaster restoration company in Michigan, and author of the book “Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean” also gives good advice in Chapter 29 “Turning Down the Heat on Fire Damage”.
“….in those first hours after a fire it’s all you can do to remember your name. The fire truck has just left and there you stand amid what once was your home and is now a smelly, wet. Black mess that you hardly recognize. You want to sit down and have a good cry, but there isn’t any place clean to sit. What do you do now? Is everything ruined? This chapter will help you deal with the emotional turmoil and give you sound information about what you, as the homeowner, need to do.
Just in Case
First, as soon as you are done reading this, put your homeowner’s policy, along with your agent’s name and phone number in a fireproof box or bank safety deposit box. This enables you to easily find them and protects them from being destroyed in the fire. Make notes from this chapter and put them with your insurance information.
Get on the Phone
After the fire is out, call your insurance agent or the 800 number that is often provided on your policy to report claims.
Call immediately. It may seem like the damage couldn’t be worse, but it could. After a fire there can be ongoing damage from acid soot residue. Fire produces two main pollutants – nitrous oxide (from burning wood, food, etc.) and sulfur dioxide (from burning plastics and petroleum by products, etc.) When these pollutants combine with moisture and humidity, they form acid! Within hours this can case substantial and continuing damage. Prompt attention from your local disaster restoration firm will eliminate the problem and prevent further damage to valuables.“
Our experts at SERVPRO of Appleton are here for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We will preserve, protect and secure your property with our board up service should it be necessary. And we will work with your insurance adjuster to estimate the damage and begin the clean up process.
What to do Should You Experience Water Damage
Many years ago Linda Cobb appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show. She spent 15 years as the owner of a disaster restoration company in Michigan and she is the author of a great book entitled “Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean”. As the books back cover says it’s “a marvelous collection of miraculous cleaning tips and surprising shortcuts that get the job done quickly and well”. It addresses everything from how to get various types of stains out of laundry to cleaning your outdoor deck and everything in between. It has come in handy many times in our own home. And the advice she gives in Chapter 30 entitled “The Big Drip-Water Damage Restoration” is spot on.
“What a shock! When you left the house everything was fine.
You come home and unlock the door; you walk in and hear the sound of running water. As you step in, water comes up to your ankles. Now you find water running across the carpet and floors and lapping at the legs of furniture as the sofa and chairs try to soak it up. Here’s what you need to do immediately.
Turn It Off
First, know where your water shut-off is and use it. Turn off the water and look for the source of the leak. BE SURE THE ELECTRICAL POWER SOURCE IS OFF BEFORE YOU WALK IN STANDING WATER. The leak could be a toilet, the washing machine hoses, or a broken pipe.
How quickly you react will have impact on what can be saved in your home.
Call the Professionals”
And of course that’s where we come in. Our professionals at SERVPRO of Appleton are just the people to call in such an emergency. We help people in situations like this everyday.
In our last blog we talked about what mold needs to grow. Knowing what mold needs to grow, we can talk about what to do to prevent it. We can talk about lots of specifics, but the big overlying issue is to cut off mold’s water source.
- Keep humidity levels below 60 percent. This can be accomplished by running air conditioning, running exhaust fans in humid places like bathrooms, and of course running a dehumidifier when necessary. Good air flow is also important to control humidity and possible condensation on places like windows. Be mindful of furniture placement near or over vents and registers, open drapes and blinds to avoid humidity or condensation being trapped behind them and reduce clutter that may hinder air flow.
- Watch for water intruding into places it should not be and address any leaks from plumbing, roofing, appliances, hot water heaters, or even a flooded basement from a failed sump pump immediately. Any time you have water somewhere it should not be, you are inviting mold.
What Mold Needs to Grow
In our last blog we talked about the fact that mold can be found almost everywhere and how it spreads. Today we’ll talk about what mold needs to grow. For the most part, mold needs basically the same things that plants need to grow. It needs:
- Water or moisture
The specifics of these things vary slightly for mold. For example, mold does not need a certain amount of water or rainfall. Mold does just fine with condensation, a small amount of moisture, or even a high level of humidity (moisture) in the air. In addition, instead of soil, mold feeds on any organic material. Examples of organic materials in our homes and businesses would be wood, textiles, and paper. The mold hyphae produces an enzyme that breaks down the organic material into a digestible food source.
As for warmth, mold doesn’t require much. It thrives anywhere between 32 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit. That said, temperatures below freezing do not kill mold. Instead the mold spores go dormant unless or until the temperature goes above freezing. And while mold can thrive in any temperature above freezing and up to 120 degrees, it does best between 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit. The chances of mold growth are greatly heightened between those temperatures.
Where plants and mold differ is in their need for sunlight. While plants need sunlight, mold can not grow under ultraviolet light.
In our next blog we will talk about things you can do to help prevent mold.
Mold: Where Can You Find It & How Does it Spread
Mold can be found almost everywhere. Mold can be found year-round both indoors and outdoors. The key is to prevent it from growing and/or reproducing or spreading.
So how does mold reproduce or spread? Molds reproduce or spread by releasing spores. Mold spores are kind of like a mature dandelion that has gone to seed and gone white. When disturbed, mold spores can travel through the air, in water, or on animals, much like when you blow on a mature dandelion and the seeds go floating through the air to land in a new spot and start to grow there. So, if you discover a mold problem in your home or business, it’s important not to disturb it. Instead, call our professionals for advice and/or assistance in cleaning it up.
We all know what a dandelion seed needs to grow once it is released; soil, sunshine, and water. In our next blog post, we will talk about what mold spores need to grow.
What is Mold & Why is it a Problem
What is mold? According to Wikipedia, “a mold is a fungus that grows in the form of multicellular filaments called hyphae. In contrast, fungi that can adopt a single-celled growth habit are called yeasts.” For many of us, that probably still doesn’t mean a whole lot. Most of us probably just want to know why we should care about mold.
Mold is part of the restoration industry because mold plays a major role in the decomposition of organic material, including the organic material our homes or businesses are made of. “Organic materials are any type of materials that are found in nature or are made out of items that are found in nature.” Examples of organic materials in our homes and businesses would be wood, textiles, and paper. The mold hyphae produces an enzyme that breaks down the organic material into a digestible food source. Therefore, if we want to keep our homes and the things in them safe from decomposition and rot, it’s important to keep mold at bay and remove and remediate any mold that does begin to grow. Our experts at SERVPRO of Appleton are just the professionals you can count on to help you with your mold issues.
Winter & Early Spring Storms
This past winter was rough here in Wisconsin. We here at SERVPRO got lots of calls for water damage caused by roof ice damming and flooding caused by snow melt and early rains. To put it in perspective, on an average day, our Appleton Franchise gets about 3 or 4 water calls. During the height of the “storm event” we were getting approximately 60 calls a day. There simply aren’t enough restoration businesses in the Fox Valley to service that many customers. As a result, we activated our National Storm Team and brought in crews from other parts of the country to help service as many customers as possible. We had two SERVPRO Crews from Virginia franchises working on our behalf in the Fox Valley. We are proud to be the only restoration company in the industry that has a national network of franchises that they can mobilize and bring in to a certain geographical area for a storm event.
While that storm event is over, and the crews from Virginia have gone back home, we are expecting to receive a lot of mold calls this spring and summer from customers who had smaller amounts of water creep into their homes or businesses during that storm event that was previously undetected. In the coming weeks our blog posts will focus on mold, what it is, how it spreads, when it’s a problem and more.
Ice Dams & Water in Your Attic
In our January 23rd blog we talked about the possibility of roof ice dams this winter. In the blog we explained what ice dams are, and some things you can do to avoid them. And sure enough, we received many calls this past month from homeowners that experienced water damage to their home because of ice damming. In all of these cases, water was leaking, and in some cases running, into the living areas of the home.
But what if you had ice, ice dams, or icicles on your roof but didn’t see any water in living areas of your home? Is it safe to assume you didn’t experience any water damage? The answer is no. It is entirely possible that water leaked into your attic space but never made it to your living areas. And if that happened, you may have mold and eventually wood rot in your attic.
If you had ice damming on your roof this past winter, a thorough inspection of your roof to check for shingle damage, and a thorough inspection of your attic to check for water intrusion, is a good idea.