Is It Clean, Gray or Black Water? Get In the Know On H2O
Commercial Property Cleanup Emergency
A faulty grease trap backs up the sewer of a seafood restaurant. A heavy storm floods a creek that seeps into an adjacent apartment complex. Roots from a 100-year-old cedar tree penetrate a sewer line outside a beauty salon. A cracked toilet tank leaks overnight throughout the administration offices of an industrial plant.
In each of these commercial cleanup emergencies, business owners and property managers must deal with contaminated water that can quickly turn into a critical situation if not handled properly.
When it comes to cleanup and disinfection of commercial spaces, it’s best to call certified water damage restoration experts. The SERVPRO of NW Charlotte, Lincoln County, Southern and NE Gaston County team is trained to handle contaminated water emergencies properly and works 24/7/365 to help our customers get their property back to business.
While we work to provide relief against water damage, it’s essential for business owners and property managers to know the different types of contaminated water. You can easily see or smell contaminates in some cases, but water can look and smell perfectly fine and still be harmful.
Clean, gray and black water: What’s the difference?
Water damage can be classified by three types of contaminated water: clean, gray and black.
Clean water is free from bacterias and viruses and comes from a source like a broken water supply line or leaking faucet. If not treated quickly, clean water can turn into gray or black water, depending on the length of time, temperature and contact with surrounding contaminants.
Gray water, or wastewater, hasn’t come into contact with solid human waste but is still considered contaminated. It also may contain bacteria and viruses that cause discomfort or illness. Gray water drains and flows from places such as showers, sinks and baths. It also comes from overflowing washing machines, dishwashers and toilets with urine but no feces.
If done correctly, gray water can be filtered and reused for lawns and gardens; however, it also can quickly degrade if left untreated.
Black water is highly contaminated and contains harsh chemicals and human waste filled with harmful bacteria and disease-causing pathogens. You should avoid contact with black water as it can cause severe illness or death if ingested. Water is considered black when it comes from a toilet bowl with feces or sewer back-up. It’s also generated from overflowing streams or rivers mixed with sewer water and standing water with microbial growth.
Sewage cleanup and commercial water restoration
Any water contaminated with sewage backup should be considered an emergency and addressed as quickly as possible. The water may contain viruses, bacteria and other microbes that cause serious illnesses. And if black water isn’t removed promptly, it can rot, dry out and lead to airborne contamination.
SERVPRO professionals are specially trained and have the equipment and protective gear to safely restore your business. Our water damage restoration specialists will inspect your business to determine the appropriate plan of action for the type of water encountered.
We’re locally owned and operated and part of the Mecklenburg, Lincoln and Gaston communities. Our fire damage restoration technicians are employees, not contractors. They can respond to sewage cleanup and water damage emergencies with the most advanced cleaning equipment, products and technology to get you back to business. To learn more, call us anytime at (704) 393-7890 or request help online.
Keep Your Handheld Devices Spring Clean, All Year Long
Woman Cleaning Electronic Device
Everyone knows about personal hygiene: Wash your hands after using the bathroom. Don’t cough into your hands. Shower regularly. Brush your teeth. Keep your hair and nails clean. But the pandemic has put the spotlight on another equally important practice: phone hygiene.
Think about all the different surfaces you touch during day-to-day activities. Door handles, gas pumps, ATMs, credit card machines, shopping carts, self-checkout counters, light switches and crosswalks. You’re constantly picking up germs and bacteria on your hands and fingers, which are passed back and forth to your devices.
We’re so used to grabbing our phones automatically and don’t always have clean hands when we do - and that can make you sick. Handheld devices are a breeding ground for microbes and can promote ear and throat infections, stomach flu, ear infections, pneumonia and coronavirus.
Some experts claim cell phones carry 10 times more bacteria than toilets. Our phones touch our face and ears and come close to our mouth, eyes and nose. But chances are, we’re not cleaning them thoroughly or often enough.
Steps to disinfect germs from your devices
Use disinfecting wipes for the safest, most effective way to kill the germs, bacteria and viruses lingering on your devices.
- Unplug the device and remove the device from its case.
- Wipe device with a soft, lint-free cloth to help remove grease, grime and dirt.
- Use a disinfecting wipe to clean the device, taking care around ports and buttons. The same wipes you use when disinfecting surfaces are safe for electronics and kill the bacteria and viruses living on your phone. Don’t oversaturate and avoid using liquid household cleaners and sprays that can find their way inside and damage your device.
- Let air dry for 5 minutes. Keep in mind that many products for electronics contain alcohol because it dries quickly.
- Wipe off any excess disinfectant with a soft cloth, preferably with a different cloth from the one used in step 2.
For electronic surfaces, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends following the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions and using a disinfectant from the EPA List N (if needed). Steer clear from heavy-duty chemicals, abrasive agents, bleach and bathroom cleaners. Also keep in mind that disinfecting wipes with alcohol, bleach or vinegar may wear down the protective coating on device screens.
6 ways to help keep your device germ-free
Because we take our phones with us everywhere, they’re constantly exposed to germs. But you can help keep your phone clean and limit exposure.
- Don’t cross-contaminate: An easy way to spread germs is by touching your phone and then touching something else. Be extra careful if that “something else” is food-related.
- Where you go matters: Know there are potential germ hazards at gyms, grocery stores, retail shops, or anywhere else with shared, high-touch surfaces. Whenever possible, keep your phone in your purse, bag, pocket or car.
- Get in sync: Go hand-free when making calls so your phone doesn't press against your face or mask.
- Keep bathrooms phone-free zones: Many people admit to using their cell phones in the bathroom. It’s time to flush that habit down the drain.
- Take preventative measures: To remove germs, wipe your phone down when you come home after being out in public, or at least once a day.
- Kill the germs: Disinfect your cell phone every other day, or at least twice a week.
Always wash your hands: Always. Wash. Your. Hands.
Have Fire Damage? Here's what to do next.
Be Smart and Be Safe after a Home Fire
Home fires happen and it’s important to know your next steps if your affected by loss from a home fire. Cooking accidents, heating issues, and electrical malfunctions account for close to 70% of all residential home fires. An average of 358,500 homes experience a structural fire each year, according to the National Fire Protection Agency.
Most people needed fire damage repair in their homes after an accidental or unintentional fire, according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Fire Administration.
If you need fire or smoke damage repairs, there are some important steps to take before calling a professional fire and smoke restoration specialist to make your home safer. Note: The fire department determines whether it is safe to stay in your home or not.
Be Careful with Fire Damage
Often, with fire damage and smoke damage, there is also water damage hidden behind the walls from fire fighting efforts. After a fire, call a professional fire damage repair company to ease your worries and take care of all the heavy cleaning, drywall replacing, and mold and mildew preventative maintenance.
Be Smart and Be Safe after a Fire
- Make sure it’s safe to re-enter home or affected areas. First discuss safety with a fire marshal and ensure that it is safe.
- Wear and use protective clothing including rubber gloves, protective eyewear, and a face mask to prevent breathing any debris particles. Keep hands clean so as not to further soil upholstery, walls and woodwork.
- Change HVAC filters.
- Avoid using your own household vacuum. Soot that has collected like dust requires a special vacuum.
- Don't attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces or shampoo carpet or upholstery without contacting us or another fire damage restoration company.
- Be Safe and Smart. Don’t attempt to clean any electrical appliances that may have been close to heat, fire, or water without consulting an authorized and licensed repair service.
- Don't turn on electrical appliances affected by fire or water from firefighting efforts. If ceiling fixtures if ceiling are wet, then the wiring may be damaged.
- Don't send garments to an ordinary dry cleaner. Improper cleaning may permanently set smoke odor in your clothing.
Even in small amounts– can be extremely dangerous even if the after effects are not immediately visible to you. Contacting a professional fire damage company helps ensure proper repairs to your property, as well as mold and mildew prevention.
24-hour emergency fire damage restoration services
We’re locally owned and operated and part of the Mecklenburg, Lincoln and Gaston communities. Our fire damage restoration technicians are employees, not contractors. They can respond to fire damage emergencies with the most advanced cleaning equipment, products and technology to get you back in your home. To learn more, call us anytime at (704) 393-7890 or request help online.
Tips and Signs to Help Prevent, Find and Fix Water Damage in Your Home
Tips and Signs to Help Prevent, Find and Fix Water Damage
Water damage from floods, leaks or plumbing mishaps can wreak havoc for Charlotte area homeowners, spreading quickly to ceilings, walls, floors, insulation, duct systems, crawl spaces and attics.
During and after a significant flooding event, you may face many potential challenges - from contaminated water to electrical appliances and outlets exposed to water. While trying to salvage priceless family photos and other valuables, homeowners may also encounter hazardous materials or mold growth.
Fortunately, the water damage repair and restoration experts at SERVPRO of NW Charlotte, Lincoln County, Southern and NE Gaston County have the experience, equipment and technology to restore your property and make the flooding event "Like it never even happened."
But before our team arrives to inspect, assess and find all the damage after a water loss, there are several ways homeowners can help.
Water damage pro tip: Help protect your wood furniture from light flooding and rising water by wrapping aluminum foil around the legs or placing wood blocks under the legs.
Look, smell and listen for water damage
Not all water damage is evident at first glance, which is why homeowners should know the signs of hidden water damage. Quickly identifying and responding to water damage sooner rather than later is critical for drying and safety. It also helps lessen the damage and structural costs to repair and restore your home to normal.
Watch for these three signs of potential water damage:
- Discoloration is a simple water damage indicator because many pigments used in fabrics, paints, floors and ceilings change colors when they contact water. The shape, spread and color will vary depending on the amount of water exposure and what materials the affected surface touched. Color bleeding from one fabric to another is one of the most damaging results of a water-damaged home.
- Oxidized metals, freshly soaked wood, wet insulation and mold growth can create unique and off-putting odors in your home. However, these smells can help identify flood-related issues. For example, a musty smell in your bathroom could be a sign of water damage hidden in cracked shower tiles, old caulking and grout, or a leaky seal at the toilet’s base.
- Whooshing, dipping, humming or other unusual sounds behind walls and below your home floors can indicate a water leak or other plumbing issue. Drips are the most apparent sounds you hear, but high-pressure water inside pipes throughout your home can also create unique sounds when there’s a problem.
Water Damage repair and restoration
As a locally owned and operated business, SERVPRO of NW Charlotte, Lincoln County, Southern and NE Gaston County can respond quickly to your water or flood damage event. And we come armed with all the tools to get it done accurately and efficiently - from an infrared camera to detect hidden moisture behind walls to powerful water extraction equipment that speeds the drying process.
Our residential restoration and cleaning technicians are employees, not contractors, and can respond 24/7 when a significant flooding event occurs. And if we need additional resources or personnel, we can call upon our national network of 1,700 SERVPRO franchises and disaster recovery teams. To learn more, call us anytime at (704) 393-7890 or request help online.
Inspect, Mitigate & Restore: 3 Stages of Water Damage Repair for Businesses
3 Stages of Water Damage Repair for Businesses
When a water-related emergency or disaster strikes your business or facility, time is of the essence. There’s a critical period when business owners and property managers must take action to decrease health effects, preserve their commercial space and minimize lost productivity and revenue.
Fortunately, the commercial water damage repair and restoration experts at SERVPRO of NW Charlotte, Lincoln County, Southern and NE Gaston County have the experience, equipment and technology to restore your business or property as if the flooding event never happened.
But before our team arrives to assess the damage, minimize future destruction and develop a restoration plan after a significant water emergency, there are several things business owners and property managers can do to help.
First, be sure to shut off the electrical power before entering your flooded commercial space or building. It’s also advisable to wear a mask, rubber gloves, protective clothing and eye protection. Once inside, ventilate the affected areas by opening windows and doors and placing fans where possible. Keeping good airflow throughout the building’s interior and maintaining moderate temperatures helps decrease mold growth risks.
You’ll likely find porous items that have absorbed contaminated floodwater. Those can’t be restored and should be discarded. Also, throw away any drywall, wallpaper, particle board, carpets, carpet pads, or insulation that has become saturated. Fortunately, many fabrics such as clothing, curtains, drapes, linens and towels are salvageable. Detergent and a normal cycle in a washing machine should remove most contaminants or stains.
When SERVPRO technicians arrive at your business or commercial property, their plan will depend on water damage severity. However, the general process will remain the same: Stages focussed on reducing your downtime, restoring your property, settling any claims and getting you back to business.
1. Inspect water damage. Before restoration can begin, our skilled water restoration technicians will thoroughly inspect your property to identify the scope of the damage, contamination levels, and how far the water has traveled. A detailed look at each area of your business affected by a storm or flooding is the first stage in developing an appropriate water damage repair plan to ensure a successful restoration.
2. Mitigate against further damage. After the inspection and damage assessment is complete, technicians will start the crucial next step of preventing the damage from getting worse and securing the affected areas.
This may include:
- boarding up roofs and broken windows;
- covering areas with tarps;
- blocking water-seeping holes;
- removing excess water;
- identifying and eliminating unpleasant odors; and
- drying the structure to prevent mold or mildew growth, which can take several days to appear.
3. Restore your business. Once cleanup is complete, the water damage repair and restoration phase can begin. Depending on the severity of the water damage, this may involve removing, repairing or rebuilding roofs and walls, replacing insulation, carpets and floor, drying and sanitizing saturation pockets, painting, and restaging the property and its contents to its previous condition. Completion of this stage means commercial clients can return to their business or property as if the water or storm damage disaster never happened!
Commercial water damage repair and restoration
Locally owned and operated, SERVPRO of NW Charlotte, Lincoln County, Southern and NE Gaston County can respond quickly to a water or flood emergency at your business. And we come armed with all the tools to get it done accurately and efficiently.
Our commercial restoration and cleaning technicians are employees, not contractors, and can respond 24/7 when a significant flooding event occurs. And if we need additional resources or personnel, we can call upon our national network of 1,700 SERVPRO franchises and disaster recovery teams. To learn more, call us anytime at (704) 393-7890 or request help online.
Advancing the Commercial Restoration Game with 3D Technology
3D scanning technology can reduce their downtime, restore their properties, and settle claims faster.
In the commercial cleanup and restoration game, performance is everything.
It’s critical for business owners and property managers to recover quickly from water, storm, or fire damage. Now, thanks to 3D scanning technology, commercial clients can reduce their downtime, restore their properties, settle claims and get back to business more efficiently than ever before.
Matterport’s 3D reality capture technology has been around for a while, primarily used in the real estate industry to help sell homes. Instead of relying on 2D photographs, the technology takes comprehensive 3D scans in real-time that capture every detail.
Once the technology expanded into the cleanup and restoration world, SERVPRO of NW Charlotte, Lincoln County, Southern and NE Gaston County was an early adopter among the 1,700 SERVPRO franchises across the country. When Mitigation Estimating Manager (and Matterport ambassador) Jason Sadler told franchise owners Penny Benkeser and Danny Cox about the camera technology, they were immediately ready to “jump on board” as the first franchise to implement Matterport in the greater Charlotte area.
Not only does the investment streamline the property restoration process, it instills peace of mind for business owners, property managers and adjusters.
Loss documentation process goes from arduous to efficient
There are many moving parts and pieces during any restoration project, especially with more extensive and complex business losses from storm damage or fire and water damage. Once SERVPRO’s disaster recovery team arrives on a scene, they must determine where and how the damage occurred and thoroughly document the scene for an insurance claim.
Using 3D technology shifts the loss documentation process from arduous to efficient, Sadler said. Project managers no longer need to spend a tremendous amount of time walking and measuring properties and buildings while simultaneously sketching and scanning drawings or taking, labeling and documenting 2D photos.
“The Matterport technology scans the property and creates a 3D model and floor plan that the restoration team, client and insurance adjuster can securely access online from anywhere,” Sadler said. “We’re not doing the documentation process and the adjuster isn’t doing it; the camera is doing it for us with 99-percent accuracy, which takes human error out of the picture and holds everyone accountable.”
Using snapshots in time to save time … and ensure accuracy
The technology is a tremendous time-saver for disaster cleanup and restoration - whether it’s a fire, water or storm emergency, Sadler said. Precise measurements of a commercial building or property mean more accurate loss and repair estimates and fewer discrepancies on damage claims.
Adjusters can review property scans the same way as project managers. They can zoom in and out of a 3D model on their computer screen and measure remotely, which means less time spent on the job site. This helps expedite the claims process because adjusters know they can trust the camera’s accuracy and ability to capture every detail.
“The ability to have a snapshot in time before major disruption and restoration of the job site is paramount. Everyone - project managers, clients and adjusters - can see exactly what a business looked like at that precise moment when the property was scanned,” Sadler said.
He added, “That’s powerful because things happen in between that time and when you take additional pictures for the restoration and repair process. You don’t want to miss out on certain details of the claim, certain line items or certain objects because every little detail is required to help our commercial customers get back to business quickly and efficiently.”
24-hour emergency commercial building restoration services
We’re locally owned and operated and part of the Mecklenburg, Lincoln and Gaston communities. Our commercial restoration and cleaning technicians are employees, not contractors. They can respond to commercial property emergencies with the most advanced cleaning equipment, products and 3D technology to get you back to business. To learn more, call us anytime at (704) 393-7890 or request help online.
3D Technology Gives Homeowners Peace of Mind Throughout Disaster Recovery and Restoration Process
3D scanning technology for homeowners.
3D scanning technology is helping residential customers recover from storm, fire, and water damage quicker than ever before while eliminating many of the stresses and inconveniences homeowners face following a disaster.
SERVPRO of NW Charlotte, Lincoln County, Southern and NE Gaston County is one of the first restoration companies in the greater Charlotte area to adopt Matterport’s reality capture technology for comprehensive loss documentation. Using a 3D camera follows property insurance and restoration standards while also adding another transparency level for homeowners and adjusters.
“The Matterport is an amazing technology with far-reaching benefits for homeowners and adjusters,” said Jason Sadler, SERVPRO of Northwest Charlotte’s mitigation estimating manager. “It streamlines the entire loss documentation process by capturing a home in its current state and measuring every inch with 99 percent accuracy.”
As SERVPRO’s Matterport ambassador, Sadler trains restoration specialists to use the 3D camera to scan damaged properties and document everything visually and dimensionally. Removing human error from the process results in a comprehensive and accurate record of a property’s condition and inventory.
“We provide homeowners with more precise loss documentation and repair estimates required for insurance claims. Using the 3D technology eliminates the need to spend hours at a site taking hundreds of 2D photographs and measurements,” he said. “Because the camera captures all the necessary data, our customers and adjuster know they can trust us because this technology is going to hold us accountable.”
Homeowners benefit from expedited claims process
Residential clients are happy that SERVPRO of NW Charlotte, Lincoln County, Southern and NE Gaston County has implemented scanning solution technology because it helps speed up the claims process and offers them peace of mind. Meanwhile, it allows adjusters to review scans and take precise measurements from their computer rather than spend hours doing it at a job site and keep the claim process moving forward.
“Our goal is to make our clients’ houses feel like home again as quickly as possible after disaster strikes and the Matterport technology helps expedite the settlement of claims,” he said. “Essentially, this is a third-party entity performing documentation for us. It’s scanning and providing a floor plan for us, the adjuster and the client. Project managers and adjusters aren’t doing it. The camera is doing it now.”
There’s no longer a need to argue about measurements or pre-existing conditions, negotiate different functions of an estimate, or try and determine if a scratch on a kitchen floor was there before or after work started. All these issues are settled by the fact that the camera can capture such finite details, Sadler said.
“It’s also been a tremendous help for SERVPRO’s in-house team that handles personal property and contents. If there’s a fire or substantial water damage, it might require packing out an entire home and then restaging it after the restoration is completed,” Sadler said. “Of course, we label and document everything, but 3D scans allow the team to put a home back together exactly how it was supposed to be before the fire, water or storm disaster happened.”
Customer connection throughout disaster recovery process
Residential clients can easily access their homes’ 3D scans and loss documentation from anywhere via a secure web link on Matterport’s website, where the content is stored. The technology keeps homeowners informed and connected throughout the entire recovery and restoration process.
“It gives a lot of clarity into what's going on with a claim or property, which benefits homeowners and adjusters,” Sadler said. “They put more trust in us because we're offering documentation that's far and wide better than anybody else documenting a claim traditionally.”
We’re locally owned and operated and part of the Mecklenburg, Lincoln and Gaston communities. Our residential restoration and cleaning technicians are employees, not contractors. They can respond 24/7 to homeowner emergencies with the most advanced cleaning equipment, products and 3D technology. To learn more, call us anytime at (704) 393-7890 or request help online.
What Does it Mean to be Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned?
Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned
Butter blocks cholesterol. Pet food extends dogs’ lifespan. Vitamins prevent the flu. Shoes help you lose weight. Just because a company claims something in its marketing, it doesn’t make it true. This also applies to companies offering cleaning services to mitigate viral pathogens without the expertise to back it up.
“There are a lot more people doing ‘COVID cleaning’ now who have no experience with infectious disease control and are not qualified to be doing this service,” said Jason Sadler, mitigation estimating manager for SERVPRO of Northwest Charlotte. “They're just doing it because there’s not much work for them right now and they need to make money somehow.”
Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned
While Charlotte and surrounding communities start to get back to business, many people are still hesitant about gathering in brick-and-mortar locations such as restaurants, businesses and public spaces.
Since the pandemic hit, there’s a new sense of what it means to be ‘clean.’ It’s not just standard janitorial, carpet or surface cleaning, it’s about proactive and defensive viral pathogen cleaning for commercial locations.
“SERVPRO has 50-plus years of experience in biohazard decontamination and biochemical spill remediation,” Sadler said, “So when we say we offer a professional COVID cleaning service, our team has the training and experience to ensure a higher standard of clean.”
Advanced viral pathogen cleaning program
Because each business and brick-and-mortar facility is unique, the SERVPRO team consults with customers to tailor a commercial cleaning program around their needs. For example, the COVID cleaning needed at a burger restaurant may differ from an insurance office.
Once a plan is established, SERVPRO’s deep clean experts - armed with air scrubbers, thermal foggers and proprietary EPA-approved hospital-grade solutions - go in and clean and decontaminate following standards set by local authorities and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
COVID cleaning across the country
SERVPRO of Northwest Charlotte is part of a national network of 1,700-plus franchises. While we’re locally owned and operated and part of the Mecklenburg, Lincoln and Gaston communities, our company also has national accounts spanning the country. Some of our large commercial clients have hundreds if not thousands of buildings in dozens of states.
“These clients have vetted us to perform the same consistent services we’re performing locally for their other locations all over the country because they know they can make a phone call to one person who's going to pick up every time and take care of them,” Sadler said.
“When you see the Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned shield posted on a window or the home page of a business website, you can walk in knowing that business has committed to a higher and safer standard of clean and the facility was cleaned properly by a professional commercial cleaning company.”
24-hour emergency services
SERVPRO of NW Charlotte, Lincoln County, Southern and NE Gaston County’s commercial restoration and cleaning technicians are employees, not contractors, which means our team can respond faster to emergencies with the most advanced cleaning equipment and products. To learn more about commercial cleaning assistance or request a free quote, contact us anytime at (704) 393-7890 or request help online.
Smoke: The Most Onerous of Odors
Removing Odor from Property
In the battle against stenches, there’s one that defies even the most skilled odor removal and deodorization experts: Nicotine.
“The key to eliminating odors is to remove the source. But nicotine is made up of very, very small micron-level particulates that can embed themselves into damn near anything,” said Jason Sadler, mitigation estimating manager for SERVPRO of Northwest Charlotte. “So if nicotine is the source and it’s in and on every crack, crevice and surface, it becomes quite the task to try and remove it.”
Masking and other shortcuts are powerless against cigarettes and cigars, Sadler said, and even extensive cleaning doesn’t offer assurance.
The stinky reality
“Let’s say you buy a property where it has been smoked in for years. You’d probably have to remove or replace everything that’s either pushing or pulling air or made of porous materials,” he said. “Things like HVAC systems, exhaust vents in bathrooms and carpet and padding just hold onto that odor and can’t be salvaged.”
Sadler added, “If you wet wash walls with certain types of cleaning products, you might be able to eliminate a good bit of the odor, but it’s tough to guarantee removal of that nasty yellowing and nicotine or smoking-type odor.”
If you plan to head to a grocery store or big-box retailer this weekend to rent a carpet cleaning machine or take advantage of one of those $99 specials for commercial carpet cleaning, Sadler offers a word of caution.
“It’s not realistic to think you can bring a machine home and use it to get rid of the cigarette or cigar smells in your carpet. And as far as those commercial carpet cleaning deals go, those are for general cleaning, not nicotine removal,” Sadler said. “Bottom line. Even if it looks cleaner, that doesn’t mean it is cleaner.”
Odor removal and deodorization
The science of identifying and eliminating odors in your property can be complicated because they can come from a variety of sources both inside and outside your building, office or other structure. SERVPRO of Northwest Charlotte has local experts trained to identify and eliminate offensive odors using air scrubbers, thermal foggers and deodorization agents. For questions, contact us anytime at (704) 393-7890 or request help online.
Getting to Know John “JT” Tolin, Mitigation Operations Manager
John “JT” Tolin, Mitigation Operations Manager
In our new “Getting to Know ..” blog series, we’ll meet some of the energetic and knowledgeable employees behind SERVPRO of Northwest Charlotte - the ones who help make any size disaster “Like it never even happened.” For Mitigation Operations Manager John “JT” Tolin, working at SERVPRO is a family affair. He oversees project managers, file coordinators and six full-time mitigation crews, including his son, Jakob, a crew chief. JT recently celebrated his fifth anniversary with the company and talked to us about his path to SERVPRO of Northwest Charlotte and some notable commercial cleaning and restoration projects.
Q: How did you get into the field of catastrophic loss restoration?
A: I had been out of the Marine Corps for a few years and was in between jobs. I saw an ad for a service master looking for a crew chief for a cleaning crew. I thought, “If there's one thing Marines know how to do, it's clean!” I answered the ad, and it just snowballed from there. I’m now coming up on 30 years in this business.
Q: You’ve managed projects all over the country - from 9/11 to natural disasters to oil spills. Which one had the most significant personal impact?
A: The previous company I was with managed five separate properties and handled five different losses in New York during 9/11. That one hit home for me because I grew up in New Jersey and traveled in the area. I’d look across the river and see the towers all the time. The scope of the devastation and everything else made that a very emotional job to do.
From a logistics standpoint, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were the most challenging projects I've worked on - trying to feed, get supplies to, and find housing for 100 people. When we first started working in that area, we had a 2-hour commute each way to-and-from the job sites. We’d work a 10-hour day and then have to drive back to wherever our lodging was.
Q: When and how did you join the SERVPRO of Northwest Charlotte team?
A: Just over five years, ago I was with another restoration company, working on the road and traveling extensively. A friend of mine knew (SERVPRO owners) Danny and Penny called me and said, “I know someone who’s looking to fill an operation manager’s position. Are you interested?” I said, “Sure, let’s talk.” It was that easy.
Q: Tell us about your role as mitigation operations manager.
A: Our project managers are on the job with the crews every day, while also reaching out to adjusters and serving as a go-between with customers. I communicate with the managers and crews every day about the status of every job. I read all the notes in our system to make sure we’re communicating with the customer and documenting everything properly. Near the end of a project, I connect with the customer and ask, “Did everything go OK? Do you have any questions? Are there any issues I can help you with?" Hopefully, the project has gone smoothly, but I'm here to help resolve it if there's a problem.
Q: At times, you’re juggling 20 different projects at once. How do you keep track of everything?
A: SERVPRO has a proprietary work center software system called DryBook, which was developed in conjunction with insurance companies. It allows us to capture and monitor all the steps of a restoration project according to industry best practices and standards. Everything is documented and most rates are pre-negotiated with the insurance companies - what materials need drying or removal, what equipment is placed at a job, and the dry standard for specific materials. It also generates reports and billing details for customers, which makes it easier for them and us.
Q: When it comes to catastrophic loss restoration, why do certification and continuing education matter?
A: It helps to make sure we're meeting all of the insurance company and industry standards, which are continually changing, along with EPA guidelines and OSHA standards. We know what the dry standard is, we know what is clean is, we know the correct way to remove mold. And we also have the latest technology, treatments and equipment for moisture detection and measurement, water extraction, drying, sanitizing and odor removal.
Q: What else do you think gives SERVPRO of Northwest Charlotte a competitive edge?
A: Excellent leadership from Danny and Penny and well-trained employees with positive attitudes. We’re to have a team of quality people who treat our customers with empathy and respect, focusing on excellent service, mutual respect and fairness. Most of our technicians and crew chiefs have been here two-plus years, so we’re not continually training new people and don't have a lot of turnovers. We also try and keep the same crew on the job from start to finish. That helps with consistency and communication and gives the customer a comfort level. Most of our new people are here because we’re continuously growing as a company.
We’ve also developed valuable relationships with insurance adjusters and commercial property management groups in the area. They’ll call us and say, “I've got a problem customer. Can you go fix it?" Or, "I've got a big fire, and I need it taken care of properly." They know we're going to do the job properly and take care of the customer, which makes them look good.
Q: What’s the most frustrating aspect of your job?
A: Managing people's expectations can be the most challenging part at times. It's sometimes difficult to get people to understand we’re not an emergency service, like a fire department, where we are waiting for calls. Some customers expect us to be at their home or business in 15 minutes but we may be in the middle of working on another job. We need to close out what we’re doing and unload and reload the truck with everything we need before we can get to them. While they wait, we encourage customers to review our emergency tips on fire damage, water damage, biohazard and sewage damage and mold damage
Q: Share a story about a local project that required complicated coordination and logistics.
A: A couple of years ago, there was an accidental fire in the Johnson & Wales University gym. It was an interesting job because there were 30-foot ceilings and we needed lifts to clean them. We were working with all our contractors who were doing demolition in the gymnasium while others were cleaning. But we had to keep everything separate, so there wasn’t any cross-contamination. It took about three weeks to get them cleaned up to reopen their facility and let students back in.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?
A: I like the chaos of my job. I like it when we're busy and I have to coordinate the guys and move the chess pieces around the board. I like the challenge of having six teams and 20 jobs to do - making sure they all get taken care of, and they all get done well.
Q: Finish this sentence: “If I didn’t work at SERVPRO of Northwest Charlotte, I’d love to spend my days … ”
A: Riding my motorcycle with my wife and brewing beer.