Recent Posts

Great American Smokeout

11/21/2019 (Permalink)

November 21st marks the “Great American Smokeout”.  The American Cancer Society sponsors the Great American Smokeout every year on the third Thursday in November.  This is an annual social engineering event to encourage Americans to quit tobacco smoking.  It challenges smokers to quit smoking for 24 hours in the hopes that they will continue beyond 24 hours.  While we all know the health benefits of not smoking, we in the restoration business think it’s a good idea to not smoke as well.

According to FEMA, “An estimated 7,600 smoking-related fires in residential buildings occur each year in the United States.  While smoking-related fires accounted for only 2 percent of all residential building fires, they were a leading cause of civilian fire deaths, accounting for 14 percent of fire deaths in residential buildings.  Nonconfined fires accounted for 93 percent of residential building smoking-related fires.  Sixty-seven percent of nonconfined residential building smoking-related fires occurred because of abandoned or discarded smoking materials or products, primarily cigarettes.  The bedroom was the leading area of fire origin for nonconfined residential building smoking-related fires at 24 percent.  Residential building smoking-related fires occurred most often from noon to 8 p.m., peaking from2 to 3 pm at 6 percent”

Giving up smoking will not only improve your health, but it will also reduce your risk of a home fire.  Consider joining the “Great American Smokeout” today.   

National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day

11/15/2019 (Permalink)

November 15th is National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day.  Maintaining your refrigerator will not only keep it looking and smelling good, but it will help keep you healthy as well.  Many experts recommend cleaning your refrigerator at least twice a month to keep mold and bacteria at bay.     

As we’ve discussed in previous blog posts, mold can spread.  Once mold starts to grow on your produce or leftovers, it can spread to other items sitting beside or underneath it, or even surfaces of the refrigerator.  It’s important to get rid of moldy items quickly.      

It’s also important to watch expiration dates and dispose of any expired items.  Pay close attention to whether the dates are “sell by” dates or “use by” dates.  For foods without an expiration date, the following website is helpful in determining how long food is good for.

If you have a manual defrost freezer, you should defrost it once a year or when frost build up covers a large area and exceeds ¼ of an inch. 

Linda Cobb, author of “Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean”, has excellent tips for cleaning your refrigerator and freezer.

"When you wipe out the refrigerator, always use a cloth or sponge moistened with white vinegar.  It leaves a clean, fresh scent and helps prevent mildew.

A dab of vanilla, lemon or orange extract on a small pad of cotton will keep the refrigerator fresh-smelling without a perfume odor.

Many common refrigerator odors may be removed by placing a small tub filled with charcoal in the middle rack in the refrigerator.  I use the charcoal made for fish tanks.

If you are shutting off a refrigerator, be sure to prop the door open a crack for air circulation and put a container of fresh coffee grounds inside to ward off unpleasant odors.. For strong odor removal, a container or nylon stocking with coffee grounds in it works wonders.

For cleaning ease, wipe the inside of the refrigerator, including shelves, with a cloth dipped in glycerin, available in the hand cream section at the drugstore. This light coating will keep spills from sticking.  Even milk or sticky substances will wipe right out.

Try using the glycerin in freezers, too.  That way spills, even though frozen, wipe right out.

Wash out the freezer with a solution of 1 gallon warm water and 1/4 cup borax to clean and deodorize.  Rinse and dry."

What is a Puffback?

11/6/2019 (Permalink)

Cold weather is upon us sooner than expected this year.  Sadly it's time to talk about furnaces, preparing our homes for winter and similar matters.  We here at SERVPRO have a brochure to discuss winter related topics.  Stop by our office or ask your SERVPRO professional visiting your home or office for one of these brochures.  Or follow our blog in the coming weeks and we will be sharing information from this brochure.  

Today we'll talk about "puffbacks".  "A puffback is a messy furnace malfunction that occurs when an oil burner backfires, sending soot throughout your home or business.  It can happen all at once, covering an interior in grimy soot, or a puffback can leak soot particles more gradually.  Equipped with the training, tools and experience to quickly and efficiently clean and restore your home or business, SERVPRO of Appleton will help make your puffback "Like it never even happened."   

Why Emergency Ready Profiles are Helpful

10/11/2019 (Permalink)

Burst Water Main In this photo, the water has been shut off and a garbage can has been placed to collect water that remains in the pipes as it drains out.

In our last blog post we talked about Emergency Ready Profiles.  The attached photo demonstrates a situation where an Emergency Ready Profile is useful. 

Yesterday we were called to a water loss at a Senior Living Community.  A water main burst at both ends of a long hallway spraying water all over the place.

In a situation like that, it's important to know exactly where the water shut off valves are and get them shut off as quickly as possible.  Once the water is off, the next step is to call the appropriate emergency contacts to get the pipe fixed and dry your structure.    

An Emergency Ready Profile gives you all of these things in a convenient app on your phone, so that no matter where you are, or what time of the day it is, you are ready to respond. 

In this situation, SERVPRO of Appleton was on the job quickly to begin drying the structure.  It was a big task with 55 rooms being effected including tenant units, a community room, offices and more.      

National Get Ready Day

9/19/2019 (Permalink)

September 19th is National Get Ready Day.  It was established “in 2006 by the American Public Health Association (APHA).  The goal of Get Ready Day is to arm individuals, families, and communities with knowledge that will help them cope with crises, such as natural disasters, infectious diseases and pandemic illnesses”. Let SERVPRO of Appleton & Winnebago County help you prepare your business or organization for a disaster. 

It is estimated that up to 50% of businesses that close due to a disaster, such as fire and flood never reopen!  Of the businesses that survive, the overwhelming majority had a preparedness plan in place.  Preparation is a key component for making it through any size disaster, whether it’s a small water leak, a large fire, or an area flood.  The best time to plan for such events is not when the event happens but well before it happens. 

Our Marketing Professionals can create an Emergency Ready Profile (ERP) for your business or organization.  Our ERP serves as a quick reference of important building and contact information.  Information like where the water shut off valves are, the name and contact information for the building’s alarm system management company, and so much more.  And your ERP can be loaded as an app on a phone for anyone in your organization who might need it, making it conveniently accessible anywhere or anytime, day or night.     

By working with SERVPRO of Appleton & Winnebago County to develop your personalized ERP your business will receive the benefits of over 40 years of experience in reducing the impact of any natural or man-made disaster.  SERVPRO is a leader in water and fire damage response and can help you quickly get your property back in working order. 

Call us today for your no cost ERP.        

Mutt's Day

7/31/2019 (Permalink)

black and white dog lying on floor in front of banner Pictured is our Office "Mutt" Artie. Artie is a Teddy Bear. He's a cross breed between a Shih tzu and a Bichon Frise,

July 31st is Mutt’s Day.  The term mutt is often used loosely to mean any dog that is a combination of different breeds, rather than one identifiable breed.  Some people note a distinction for dogs who are intentionally bred to combine the characteristics of two or more recognized breeds, calling them crossbreeds, versus a true mutt whose breeding was accidental. 

But regardless of whether your dog is a pure breed, a cross breed or a true mutt, he or she is most likely a beloved member of your family.  And sometimes these furry members of our families make a mess in our homes.  If your dog makes a mess you can’t clean up in your home, SERVPRO is always here to help!      

Weekend Storms

7/22/2019 (Permalink)

After severe storms came through the area this past weekend, SERVPRO of Appleton is once again in Storm Mode.  The National Weather Service confirmed nine tornadoes touched down in Wisconsin from Friday evening July 19th to Saturday morning, July 20th with several of them being in or near the Fox Valley.  Luckily none of the tornadoes were above an EF 1 rating, but the strong winds and rain still inflicted a great deal of damage to many properties.  We have received many calls from homeowners and businesses with fallen trees on their roofs and extensive water damage as a result.  In addition, many homes and businesses still do not have power this morning.  And without a back-up, no power means no working sump pump and many flooded basements as well.    

Our crews are out diligently working to restore as many of these water damaged properties as possible.  In addition, SERVPRO Corporate has a tree removal vendor from Texas working in the area to help customers remove fallen trees from their structures. 

If we can help you restore your home or business give us a call!  We are here to help! 

Commercial Water Damage

7/9/2019 (Permalink)

Last week was very hot and humid in the valley.  Many of us welcomed the heat as it was a far stretch from the long, cold winter we recently experienced.  It was a difficult winter and many homes and businesses suffered water losses due to the extreme weather we had.    

At the end of January, we were called to a furniture store.  They experienced a water loss when a pipe on an outside wall, associated with their sprinkler system, froze and burst.  Almost 4,000 square feet of showroom became wet as a result.  Floors, furniture, area rugs, some walls, all wet.

Our Project Manager Luke quickly arrived on site to assess the situation.  In his preliminary investigation he determined that the pipe was still detached or broken, but the water had been shut off at the source.    He also determined that power sources were limited.  He arranged for an electrician to come in and set up 3 power panels so that our crews would have enough power to run all the equipment (air movers & dehumidifiers) that were necessary to dry out such a large affected space.

Our crews arrived shortly after Luke.  While some team members began extracting water from the floors and furniture, other team members began blocking the furniture.  This is where we get furniture up on Styrofoam blocks.  This not only protects the furniture from sitting in water, but it also protects the flooring from any dyes that may leach out of the wet furniture. 

Some drywall was also wet.  To dry the drywall, we removed a couple hundred linear feet of baseboard.  Approximately 300 holes were drilled in the wall behind the baseboard.  This allowed air from our low-profile air movers to get up behind the drywall and properly dry it in place.  This is a big savings for the customer versus removing and replacing the wet drywall.  Once the walls are dry, the baseboard is put back up and the holes are covered leaving no evidence of the water damage.

In the end we placed approximately 53 air movers, 7 commercial size dehumidifiers, cleaned and saved approximately 400 pieces of furniture and took 28 area rugs back to our shop to be cleaned, deodorized and dried.  We had the affected area mostly dried out and back open to customers in less than 3 days. 

Ice Dams & Roof Leaks

7/3/2019 (Permalink)

Pictured is our very own Luke Snyder talking to the 4th graders about how he calculates area for his job.

This past winter/early spring was very difficult for many Wisconsin property owners. In March we had multiple storms pass through in a short amount of time that dumped a great deal of snow, rain and freezing rain, creating conditions that were perfect for ice damming on roofs. Many homes and businesses that don’t ordinarily have problems with ice damming were seeing it for the first time.     

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow (water) 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 of 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.

We had so many calls from homes and businesses experiencing water damage from ice damming that we had to activate our National Storm Team.  We brought crews from other franchises throughout the country to assist as many customers as possible.  We are the only restoration company in the business with the ability to do this. 

One of our customers during this time was a private school in the Fox Valley area.  To properly dry the structure, we had to suck wet insulation out of the ceiling.  We then had to calculate how much insulation we needed to replace the wet insulation.  As our Project Manager Luke was in a hallway calculating the area with his team, a teacher overheard their conversation and asked Luke if he would be willing to talk to the class about what they were doing as it related to their current lesson.  Luke was thrilled to help and the school posted about it on their Facebook Page.   

Valley Christian School

March 21 · 

Thankful for teachers who never miss an opportunity turn every experience (good or challenging) into an opportunity to learn. Exhibit 1- Here is Luke from SERVPRO of Appleton & SERVPRO of Winnebago County (in our building for a week taking care of water damage) giving 4th graders a lesson on AREA, and how he calculates and uses it in his job every day. Thank you Luke for going above and beyond and thank you Mrs. Wiedenhaupt and Mr. Gross for seizing the opportunity!

Kitchen Fires

7/1/2019 (Permalink)

Kitchen fires are the number one cause of home fires, and a grease fire is the most common type of kitchen fire.  Your home’s kitchen is where heat, electricity, water and grease all come together.   A grease fire is extremely dangerous as it can get out of control quickly and spread from the stove throughout the kitchen and other rooms of the house. 

There are two common types of grease fires in the kitchen.  One is in the cooking pan itself and the other is under the burner in the drip pan. Often, drip pan fires result from previous cooking sessions. When something is spilled into the drip pan it cannot be cleaned until the burner and the stove has cooled.  It’s not uncommon for people to forget to go back and clean the drip pan, setting themselves up for trouble the next time they cook.    

Here are some tips for preventing kitchen grease fires:

  1. Before cooking anything, make sure the burner is cool and wipe up any spills in the drip pan and around the burner before turning on the heat.
  2. The most common reason for a grease fire is leaving a hot pan unattended. Keep your eye on all pans while cooking.
  3. Pay attention to heat ratings for cooking oil. Some oils can be heated more than others before catching fire.  If you are cooking and the oil starts to smoke, it is too hot.  The flash point of a grease fire is 500 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease will smoke furiously before it ignites, so if you notice smoke, turn down the heat immediately.
  4. Keep cookbooks, towels, paper towels and anything combustible away from the stove. A grease fire can quickly turn into a bigger fire if it catches onto other combustibles. 
  5. Avoid heating grease before putting food into it. Food can fall quickly into the grease and make it splash out, causing grease burns to you or hitting the heat source and catching fire.
  6. When deep frying, use a pan or cooking container designed for deep frying that will allow equal space of the grease and food contents above what you are frying. For example, if you are cooking chicken and the grease and chicken are three inches deep, the pan sides should be at least six inches deep. 
  7. Have a class ABC fire extinguisher in your kitchen. Experts recommend having at least three fire extinguishers in your home; in the kitchen, garage and main living area.
  8. If a pan does catch fire, the best thing to do is smoother it, by using an oven mitt and placing a lid on top of the pan or by using a fire extinguisher. NEVER throw water on the fire or try to run it to the sink or outside. 

And if a kitchen grease fire does get out of control, resulting in damage or odor to your home, our experts at SERVPRO of Appleton are here to help.  We can clean your home "Like it never even happened."