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ERP's (Emergency Ready Plans) for Businesses

5/4/2021 (Permalink)

What is an ERP (Emergency Ready Plan)?

Whether you own a home or a business, it’s important to be ready for a potential disaster.  But it’s particularly important when you own a business. According to a report from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 40% of businesses never reopen following a disaster.  And of the ones that do, another 25% fail within one year.   

That’s why your business needs an Emergency Ready Plan.  While an ERP can’t stop a disaster from happening, it will help your business be ready to handle one.

An ERP is a document that contains the critical information you need in the event of an emergency or disaster.  This document can even be loaded as an app on your phone, providing ready access for key employees any day, any time; because disasters don’t just happen during business hours.  An ERP will:

  • Provide a detailed map of your facility showing where to find important things like water shut-off valves, fire extinguishers and other priority areas. This will allow any employee to get to these areas quickly and efficiently.  Prompt response is key in any disaster to help lessen damage.  If there is a water main break, the quicker you get to the shut off valve, and stop the flow of water, the less damage there will be.  If there is a fire, the quicker you get to a fire extinguisher the better. 
  • Put all essential phone numbers in one place. All of the essential phone numbers for things like: SERVPRO, the sprinkler system emergency contact, the building owner emergency number, local fire department will now be at any employees finger tips.
  • Help employees identify the chain of command and who within the organization has the authority to authorize emergency clean up services to begin. In order for any restoration company to begin work, proper authorization forms must be signed.  Any delay in recognizing and reaching the person who has the authority to authorize the work, will result in costly delays to mitigating the damage. 
  • Be free of charge to your business. Our friendly sales staff would love to do an ERP free of charge for your business.  It won’t take much time, and it could save your business.

Be ready with an Emergency Readiness Plan (ERP) from SERVPRO of Appleton and Winnebago County.

Call 920-832-1110 to schedule your FREE plan

Fire Sprinkler Systems in Commercial Buildings

4/7/2021 (Permalink)

When we think of a sprinkler system, we often think of an outdoor system of hydration, watering our lawns in a residential application, or watering a golf course in a commercial application.  But buildings can have sprinkler systems as well. Building sprinkler systems protect against fires. 

A fire sprinkler system is a water piping system in the ceiling, connected to a water supply, with adequate pressure and flowrate, onto which sprinkler heads are attached.  The system discharges water through the sprinkler heads when they detect a rise in temperature adequate to suggest a fire may be present. Historically sprinkler systems were only used in factories and large commercial buildings.  Today they have become affordable enough to be used in smaller buildings and even homes. 

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is the main organization that sets the standards for fire safety including fire sprinkler system requirements.  Some requirements are up to local municipalities.  However, according to NFPA 13, all newly constructed commercial buildings that are 5,000 square feet or larger are required to have fire sprinkler systems. In addition, any remodels that add square feet to an existing commercial building so that its footprint is 12,000 square feet or more mandates installation of a fire sprinkler system.  NFPA also states that any townhomes with more than two units per building require an automatic fire sprinkler system.

While early systems dispersed water from every head when one head was triggered, systems today only disperse water from the head/heads that detect excessive heat.  This helps to minimize water damage to areas of the building not affected by fire. This was one of the primary hesitations people had about sprinkler systems.  They felt they were trading fire damage for water damage.  As a result, fire sprinkler systems are extensively used today. 

Worldwide, over 40 million sprinkler heads are fitted each year.  In buildings completely protected by fire sprinkler systems, over 96% of fires were controlled by fire sprinklers alone. 

Hardwood Floor Water Damage

4/7/2021 (Permalink)

Picture of an Injectidry system drying hard wood floor Injecti-Dry system used to dry hardwood floor after a water damage

Natural hardwood floors have been a popular flooring choice for homes & businesses alike throughout time.  They can be a bit pricey but they truly are an investment in your home or business.  If properly cared for, quality hard wood floors can be sanded down and refinished resulting in a floor that can last the life of the building.     

Although sturdy they present unique challenges when water damage occurs. Hardwood is naturally porous and easily holds moisture. Having a large amount of water in contact with the floor for a long period of time can be very damaging. The first 24 hours are the most critical. The longer the floor has contact with water the more damage can be done. 

Water can cause the following damage to hardwood:

  • Cupping - This is when the edges of the individual planks are slightly raised compared to the center of the board. By a visual exam it will look like the shape of a cup, thus the name cupping.
  • Buckling - This is when the floorboards have expanded past their capability. The edges expand upwards at the seams making a peak.

If your hardwood floors become water damaged SERVPRO can help.  We use an Injecti-Dry system on hardwood floors.  This system is extremely quick, easy, and efficient to set up. Injecti-Dry consists of mats and hoses mounted directly to the floor. Hoses are used to extract the moisture out of the seams. A dehumidifier is placed nearby to help combat the humidity given off by this system.

Again, prompt action is essential in saving hardwood floors from water damage.  Some minor cupping can be repaired by sanding down the cupped edges and refinishing the floor, but once buckling occurs, there is nothing that can be done and the floor must be replaced.  

That is why it is important to call SERVPRO as soon as moisture has been detected.

National Mom & Pop Business Owner's Day

3/29/2021 (Permalink)

March 29th is National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day, a day that honors all small business owners.  SERVPRO of Appleton uniquely qualifies as both a big business and a small business. 

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 1,900 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…”  This means we are uniquely positioned to respond to major disasters, much like a large company, while remaining a locally owned, small family business.  

Small businesses are a vital part of the U.S. economy.  According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are more than 27 million small businesses in the United States.  59.9 million people or 47.3% of the private work force are employed by small businesses. 

SERVPRO of Appleton was founded in 1992 by Mr. Kelly Rousso.  Kelly’s first employee was Debbie Soloway.  Together they built a thriving business.  In 2014 Kelly sold the business to C.J. Snyder.  Debbie and a few other key employees, like Joyce Ebajan, stayed on and helped C.J. grow the business to close to double its size in 2021 from when he purchased it in 2014. 

Today SERVPRO of Appleton employs approximately 30 people.  C.J.’s wife and 3 grown kids have all worked for the business at various times.  In addition, we sincerely view all our employees as part of our SERVPRO Family.  They are true heroes helping people during their time of need.

Continuing Education Classes for Insurance Professionals

3/29/2021 (Permalink)

Specific requirements vary by state, but most states require insurance professionals to complete about 24 hours of continuing education every 2 years. Completing their CE requirements not only keeps their insurance license active; it also keeps them updated on the latest rules, regulations, and products to keep them competitive.

Every year since 2017 SERVPRO of Appleton has been hosting 2 Continuing Education Classes for Insurance Professionals free of charge at Neuroscience Group Field, home of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Baseball Team.  

This year there was a morning session on Ethics, and an afternoon session on Restorative Drying for Water Damage with a catered lunch in between.  

These classes are always very popular.  The venue is quite beautiful, the food is great and the Timber Rattlers mascot often joins us to raffle off tickets for the upcoming season.  

While things looked a little different this year with covid social distancing, we were thrilled to still be able to hold this very popular event.  If you are interested in joining us in March of 2022, watch our facebook page early next year for more information.  

SERVPRO Works to Keep You Open for Business

3/26/2021 (Permalink)

Drying in place Drying Ceiling in place to reduce disruption and reduce cost.

When disaster strikes and water floods your home or business, you need it dried quickly and efficiently.  Drying things quickly is always important to prevent secondary damage.  But it takes on added significance when the damage is at a place of business.  Every day that your business is impacted is lost revenue. 

Water trapped inside walls and ceilings can be especially troublesome because there’s no easy way to pull moisture through drywall or plaster. Other companies, and remodeling contractors, may be quick to start tearing your home or business apart.  This is not only incredibly disruptive, but it can add huge costs to the repair side of the process. Here at SERVPRO we take unique and creative measures to dry your home in the fastest yet least invasive way possible.

In this case we had a wall that had absorbed some water near the ceiling of this hallway. Other companies would have just ripped the drywall out, but we decided to use a spider hosed attachment on one of our fans to inject air into the wall cavity through tiny port holes. This approach saved the homeowner hundreds of dollars in repairs, weeks of time, and they never had to worry about demolition in their home. This is a fantastic example of how we go above and beyond for our customers.

Water Damage from Hydronic Heat Systems

3/25/2021 (Permalink)

Hydronic or water-based radiant heating systems are common in commercial buildings and are even found in residential homes. What are they and why are they used?  In a hydronic heating system, water is heated and moved through a system of sealed pipes to radiators throughout the building.  Once the heated water is used, it is returned to be reheated via a recirculating system.

Hydronic heat has many advantages. One advantage is the variety of places it can be used. It is even used to heat the Frozen Tundra at Lambeau Field. Green Bay was the first NFL team to heat their field and they have been doing it since 1967.  Originally an electric coil system was used.  But in 1997 that was replaced with a new, more efficient hydronic system.  Buried 6 to 12 inches below the turf is a series of pipes with a combination of warm water and antifreeze running through them. This system prevents the soil and the roots from freezing.     

Systems similar to the one at Lambeau Field are used in the cement slabs of commercial buildings. They are even used in basements of residential homes.  They can be used to heat swimming pools.  The possibilities are many.

Other advantages to hydronic heating:  

  • Unlike air forced central heating systems there are no airborne particles, providing a totally dust free and allergen free form of heating
  • When used to heat the air through radiators or panel radiators, the radiators can be individually adjusted to provide ultimate comfort in each room
  • Panel radiators push out natural radiant heat which spreads evenly

But hydronic heat systems are not without their disadvantages. We here in the water restoration business see one of their biggest disadvantages regularly. All pipes run the risk of bursting due to pressure changes or below freezing temperatures.  This can happen with plumbing pipes, sprinkler system pipes and hydronic heating pipes. When a pipe in a hydronic heating system bursts, the resulting water damage can be massive if not caught immediately. The system tries to compensate for the loss and keeps pulling more water in to the system.  Add to that the loss of heat in the building and an icy mess can be the result.  The attached picture of an ice filled bathtub is from a home that experienced such a loss.    

Clothes Dryer Fires

3/25/2021 (Permalink)

Any appliance that creates heat can be a fire hazard and there are many of them throughout our homes and businesses.  They range from the small and seemingly insignificant like a curling iron, to the big and more obvious like a stove.  A significant one we tend to overlook is a clothes dryer. 

Most of us know that a clothes dryer produces lint.  As our clothes, towels and sheets tumble around in the dryer, fine fibers separate from the cloth.  These fibers are called lint.  Dryers are equipped with lint traps to collect the lint.  It is extremely important that the lint trap is cleaned after every load.  Cleaning the lint trap helps air flow and keeps the machine running more efficiently.  But perhaps more importantly, cleaning the lint trap helps reduce the risk of fire.  Dryer lint is extremely flammable.  If enough of it accumulates, the heat from the dryer can ignite the lint and cause a fire. The lint trap is not perfect.  Even with regular cleaning lint can get past it.  Cleaning your lint trap after every load and even a thorough cleaning of your dryer’s venting system will go a long way towards preventing fires.

Recently we were called to a fire caused by a commercial clothes dryer at a boutique hotel in downtown Appleton.  Luckily, the fire was noticed quickly, and damage was fairly contained.  That is why some people prefer to be home when they run their clothes dryer versus turning it on and leaving the house for several hours.   

Chimney Fires

3/18/2021 (Permalink)

Picture of the outside of a home that had a chimney fire This chimney fire in Stevens Point, Wisconsin caused significant smoke damage to the inside of the house.

According to Wikipedia, “A chimney fire is the combustion of residue deposits referred to as soot or creosote, on the inner surfaces of chimney tiles, flue liners, stove pipes, etc.”

So, what is creosote?  When wood burns, certain by-products or substances are produced.  There is the smoke you can see, as well as things you cannot see like tar in the smoke, water vapor, gases, unburned wood particles, and assorted minerals. These by-products are warm, and when they pass through the cool chimney, condensation forms.  The resulting residue sticks to the inner walls of the chimney creating something called creosote.  Creosote is brown, sticky and highly flammable.  If enough creosote builds up, and the temperature in the chimney becomes high enough, a chimney fire can erupt.

There are things you can do to help minimize your risk of a chimney fire.  Here are three things to avoid that encourage the build-up of creosote:

  • Burning wet and/or unseasoned wood or things like wrapping paper that may contain chemicals. Your wood should be seasoned or dried for at least 6 months after chopping and kept stored under cover to prevent it from getting wet. If you want to be extra certain your wood is sufficiently dry, you can purchase a cheap moisture meter (for more info on moisture meters see our previous blog post on what they are and how they work) at a hardware store.  The moisture content of your wood should be no more than 20%
  • Not having an adequate air supply. Always make sure your fire is getting enough air by making sure your chimney flue is completely open and the glass doors are open
  • Avoid cooler chimney temperatures by ensuring your chimney is adequately insulted

But probably the most important thing you can do to avoid a chimney fire is to have your chimney regularly inspected and cleaned by a certified Chimney Sweep.      

"Three Cheers" for SERVPRO

3/17/2021 (Permalink)

As mentioned in a previous blog post, we recently had the honor of sending 2 crews to the Dallas, Texas area to help after the historic winter storm that caused burst pipes and water damage to so many homes and businesses.  The people of Texas showed their gratitude by humbling us with multiple five star google reviews as well as the following kind words in the “Three Cheers Section” of the Dallas Morning News.

“SERVPRO – The cavalry arrived on a recent Sunday afternoon to our house in the form of four bright green SERVPRO trucks with Appleton, Wis., painted on the sides.  When the SERVPRO Operations manger first called us to schedule an appointment after the storm, I noticed a strange 920 area code.  After making the appointment, I thought I should do a bit of work to make sure it wasn’t some sort of scam.  As the Dallas Morning News Watchdog says, “It’s good to be overly careful.”

I called the local SERVPRO franchisee and found out that the company brought in over 1,000 folks from around the country to help Texans get their homes back in shape.  A woman on the crew told me that this was her first time to help during a disaster and that she is proud to be helping people recover.

I am thrilled there are people like her and the rest of the team.  I just wanted to say thank you and recognize all those who traveled far to help. 

I’m sure there are others from around the country, and this “Three Cheers” is for all who have come here to help.

Perri Brackett, Lewisville”

Perri, thank you so much for the “Three Cheers”!  We were honored to be a part of this historic effort and we too are grateful for our amazing employees!  They really are like heroes helping people during a time of need.