Recent Storm Damage Posts

Spring Storm Season

5/20/2021 (Permalink)

It’s spring in Wisconsin.  And with it comes storms and tornado season.  April through September is considered tornado season in Wisconsin.  That said, tornadoes can occur any time of the year, but happen most often in the months of May, June and July.  Of those three months, Wisconsin tends to see the most tornadoes in June.

Tornado season tends to be one of our busiest times because storms pose multiple threats to your home or business.  Lightning strikes can start a fire.  High winds can blow off shingles and allow water to intrude into your home.  High winds can also topple power lines leaving you without electricity and a working sump pump, which can result in water in your basement. Large amounts of rain can result in flooding or run off that can run into your home or business if the surrounding ground is not properly graded.

Unfortunately, you cannot prevent strong storms and tornadoes.  But you can be prepared.  You can make sure your home is in good repair so it can withstand high winds and you can make sure the ground around your home is properly graded so that ground water runoff flows away from your home instead of towards it.  And of course, you can keep SERVPRO of Appleton’s phone number handy.  Prompt response to disaster is key to mitigating the damage.   

SERVPRO of Appleton will help you clean up and insurance will cover the cost of damage to your property.  You need to focus on staying alert and staying safe during a storm.  Local television and radio station typically broadcast weather alerts.  If you do not tend to listen to local stations, a weather radio can be helpful during storm season. 

A WATCH means that the conditions are perfect, and the potential exists, for the development of severe storms or tornadoes but nothing is currently happening.  A WARNING means that severe weather is imminent in your area or is already occurring.  If a warning is issued, you should take shelter immediately. 

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.

"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. 

Texas Winter Storms

3/9/2021 (Permalink)

Picture of a SERVPRO Truck driving into a sunset On the road in Texas

Recently Texas, and other states across the south, experienced a historic winter storm with record amounts of snow and record low temperatures.  All throughout Texas records were broken.  10.1 inches of snow fell on San Angelo, Texas.  The previous record was 2.5 inches in 1951.  Houston received 6.4 inches of snow.  That’s the most snow Houston has received in 55 years.  The border city of Brownsville reported snow for only the 3rd time since 1898.  Both Dallas and Houston experienced temperatures well below freezing.  And sadly, these storms led to a failure of the power grid in Texas leaving millions of homes and businesses without power and most importantly heat.  This lack of heat has resulted in frozen and burst pipes leaving millions of Texans with water damaged property.  At one point, SERVPRO had over 26,000 customer service requests.    

SERVPRO activated their Storm Team and called upon their national franchise system to work together to help Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas. SERVPRO is the only restoration company in the business that has the capacity and organization competence to respond to such large-scale disasters.  SERVPRO crews from all over the country have descended upon these areas to assist in the clean up effort.

We here at SERVPRO are proud to have 2 crews working in the Dallas, Texas area.  We are so proud of all our incredible employees who have stepped up to assist their fellow citizens.  From the employees who left their own homes and families to go down to Texas, to the employees who stayed here in Wisconsin and are picking up the extra slack during their teammate’s absence, to our incredible office staff who is supporting them all and doing double duty, we are so proud of them and we are grateful for all their efforts.  Not only are they heroes to people in need, but they are doing it with an attitude of gratefulness.  In response to a thank you for her efforts, one employee said, “I’m honored.  Thank you for the opportunity.”

And the people of the Dallas area are thanking them by showering us with 5 star google reviews all the way from Texas!            

Ice Damming

2/8/2021 (Permalink)

As you drive around town these days you may notice many homes and businesses with icicles hanging from them.  While they may be a pretty winter sight, they typically indicate a problem that may lead to water damage to your home or business. Most often icicles are an indication of an ice dam.

 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.

To prevent ice dams, it’s important to clean your gutters before winter so that winter’s melting snow and rain can properly drain off your roof. 

Additionally, improper insulation and improper attic ventilation can contribute to ice damming by allowing warm air from inside your home to escape into the attic. It seems counter-intuitive, but the basic ventilation principal for your attic is to keep it as cool as possible during the cold season.  If you look at your roof several days after a snow and you see an even distribution covering your roof, that’s a good sign that your attic is properly insulated and ventilated.  If on the other hand, you see sections where snow has melted, that suggests an area in the attic where warm air is present due to either improper insulation or improper ventilation.  These problems should be addressed as soon as the weather allows.    

Many of the current ice dams may be caused by an excessive amount of snow in a short amount of time followed by some warmer temperatures.  Some homeowners find it useful to use a roof rake during the winter months.  A roof rake is not your average garden rake.  It is a specialty item used to remove snow from the 4-6 feet of roof above your gutter, while standing safely on the ground, so that melting snow can properly flow off of your roof versus forming an ice dam.  Roof rakes can be found in season at most hardware and home improvement stores.  If you choose to use a roof rake, it’s important to follow all suggested safety precautions and suggestions for use.  Additionally, it’s important to know the condition of your roof and shingles.  Older roofs, or roofs in poor shape, can easily be damaged by roof rakes and may cause more harm than good. 

Winter Storms

1/4/2021 (Permalink)

Often when we think of a storm, we think about a summer storm.  But storms can occur anytime of the year.  And no matter when they occur, they can do significant damage to your home or business.  

According to Wikipedia, a Winter Storm is, "an event in which varieties of precipitation are formed that only occur at freezing temperatures, such as snow, mixed snow, mixed snow and rain, or freezing rain-rain that encounters frozen surfaces".  

Just like summer storms, winter storms can include high winds.  The effects of high winds on trees and power lines can be further compounded by wet, heavy snow or freezing rain and ice, causing downed trees and power lines.  These downed trees and power lines can land on your home and do significant damage. 

We here at SERVPRO of Appleton are a full service restoration company.  Should your home or business be damaged by a downed tree or power line this winter, we can provide board up services, to prevent further damage from precipitation and quickly begin the restoration and repair process.      

American Red Cross Giving Day

4/21/2020 (Permalink)

Picture of employees before going out to volunteer SERVPRO of Appleton & Winnebago County employees volunteering for the American Red Cross' "Sound the Alarm Campaign".

April 21st is “American Red Cross Giving Day”.  According to Wikipedia, the American Red Cross is a humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief, and disaster preparedness education.  Each year it responds to more than 60,000 disasters, including house or apartment fires, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hazardous materials spills, transportation accidents, explosions and other natural and man-made disasters.  They offer assistance that allows people to resume their normal daily activities, by providing shelter, food, health, and mental health services to address basic human needs.

Red Cross Giving Day was established in 2015.  It’s a 24 hour rally for public support.  If you’d like to support their mission, you can donate money or your time and efforts.  To find out more about volunteer opportunities in your area, visit:

Winter Storms

1/22/2020 (Permalink)

When we think about storms, often the first thing that comes to mind is tornadoes and severe thunderstorms in the spring and summer.  But winter in Wisconsin has its fair share of storms as well, and both can cause a significant amount of damage to your home or business.

According to Wikipedia, “A winter storm warning is a statement made by the National Weather Service of the United States which means a winter storm is occurring or is about to occur in the area, usually within 36 hours.  Generally, A Winter Storm Warning is issued if the following criteria, at least, are forecast: usually between 4 inches to 7 inches or more of snow or usually 3 inches or more of snow with a large accumulation of ice.”

A blizzard adds the element of wind.  “The National Weather Service defines a blizzard as a severe snowstorm characterized by strong winds causing blowing snow that results in low visibilities.  The difference between a blizzard and a snowstorm is the strength of the wind, not the amount of snow.  To be a blizzard, a snow storm must have sustained winds, or frequent gusts, that are greater than or equal to 32 mph with blowing or drifting snow which reduces visibility to .25 miles or less and must last for a prolonged period of time – typically three hours or more”

Both winter storms and blizzards can cause a significant amount of damage to your home or business.  Most often the culprit is downed power lines from heavy ice or high winds.  No power in the spring and summer months can mean no working sump pump and a flooded basement.  No power in the winter months can cause a disruption in heat, which can lead to frozen and eventually burst water pipes.  And a burst water pipe can cause considerable damage to your property if not addressed quickly.  If your home or business experiences a disruption in heat during the winter months, it’s important that you monitor the temperature in your home and take action to prevent a water damage situation if the temperature drops too low. 

But a disruption in power or heat is not the only problem a winter storm or blizzard can create.  A storm that dumps a large accumulation of ice can also create an ice dam situation on your roof.  Typically ice dams develop somewhat slowly over the winter months.  But in rarer instances, a winter storm with a significant amount of ice, can create ice dam conditions as well.  The Fox Valley and surrounding areas had such a storm last winter.  Our phones were ringing off the hook with customers who had water leaking into their home from ice dams on their roof.

If your home or business experiences damage from a winter storm, our experts at SERVPRO of Appleton & Winnebago County are 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! 

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!


6/6/2019 (Permalink)

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. 

Fujita scale


40–72 mph

Light damage


73–112 mph

Moderate damage


113–157 mph

Considerable damage


158–206 mph

Severe damage


207–260 mph

Devastating damage


261–318 mph

Incredible damage

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 to make sure you have coverage should your sump pump fail.