Recent Posts

The Do's and Don'ts of Grilling Season

5/21/2019 (Permalink)

Do:

1. Keep your grill at least 10 feet away from your house. Farther is even better. This includes portions attached to your house like carports, garages and porches. Grills should not be used underneath wooden overhangs either, as the fire could flare up into the structure above. This applies to both charcoal and gas grills.

2. Clean your grill regularly. If you allow grease and fat to build up on your grill, they provide more fuel for a fire. Grease is a major source of flare ups.

 

3. Check for gas leaks. You can make sure no gas is leaking from your gas grill by making a solution of half liquid dish soap and half water and rubbing it on the hoses and connections. Then, turn the gas on (with the grill lid open.) If the soap forms large bubbles, that's a sign that the hoses have tiny holes or that the connections are not tight enough.

4. Keep decorations away from your grill. Decorations like hanging baskets, pillows and umbrellas look pretty AND provide fuel for a fire. To make matters worse, today's decor is mostly made of artificial fibers that burn fast and hot, making this tip even more important.

5. Keep a spray bottle of water handy. That way, if you have a minor flare-up you can spray it with the water to instantly calm it. The bonus of this tip is that water won't harm your food, so dinner won't be ruined!

6. Keep a fire extinguisher within a couple steps of your grill. And KNOW HOW TO USE IT. If you are unsure how to use the extinguisher, don't waste time fiddling with it before calling 911. Firefighters say many fire deaths occur when people try to fight a fire themselves instead of calling for expert help and letting the fire department do its job.

Don't:

7. Turn on the gas while your grill lid is closed. NEVER do this. It causes gas to build up inside your grill, and when you do light it and open it, a fireball can explode in your face. 

8. Leave a grill unattended. Fires double in size every minute. Plan ahead so that all of your other food prep chores are done and you can focus on grilling.

9. Overload your grill with food. This applies especially fatty meats. The basic reason for this tip is that if too much fat drips on the flames at once, it can cause a large flare-up that could light nearby things on fire.

10. Use a grill indoors. People often think it will be safe to use a grill, especially a small one, indoors. NOT TRUE. In addition to the fire hazard, grills release carbon monoxide, the deadly colorless, odorless gas. That gas needs to vent in fresh air or it can kill you, your family and pets.

Meet our Owner - Penny Benkeser

5/17/2019 (Permalink)

Penny Benkeser, owner of SERVPRO of Northwest Charlotte and president of the Charlotte Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) joins Good Day's Barbara Lash to talk about women in business.

Penny is the 2016-2017 President of the Charlotte chapter of NAWBO.  In this interview she is able to discusses the woman owned business community in Charlotte and the role of NAWBO in the local community.  She also talks about a few of the upcoming events meant to provide education and networking resources for women business owners.  

Finally, she also speaks to some of the benefits she has been able to leverage based on her NAWBO membership and the impact on the growth on her business.   

Click Here to Watch the Video on Fox46

When Your Home Needs Water Damage Repair

5/17/2019 (Permalink)

How Water Damage Occurs

Water Damage occurs for any number of reasons and sometimes it goes on long before you notice it. The most common ways in which water damage occurs are the following:

  • Pipes – Leaking, burst, or cracked pipes are common in homes, especially older homes where pipes might need replacing. Spots with prior repairs are more susceptible to future damage with time and use. Weather changes and weakened areas of pipe can all lead to water damage in your homes.
  • Flooding – Flooding whether caused by heavy rain, plumbing failures, or groundwater exposure, causes extensive damage and affects many surfaces and items in your home from the floor to ceiling including electrical outlets, TV’s and appliances, and furniture.
  • Basements and Crawlspaces - Accumulating water can sit and collect in damp and cool places like a basement or crawlspace. 

Results of Unrepaired Water Damage

Even the smallest amount of water damage can lead to deteriorating housing materials and fungal growth like mold. Mold loves to multiply in damp, moist, and dark locations. Areas in your home that were not properly cleaned and dried are perfect hosts for mold. Humid locations are especially susceptible to mold growth. Mold spores are also airborne, spread quickly, and toxic to your health.

You Have Water Damage. Now What?

First, when accessing if you should attempt water damage repair before calling a professional also determine whether it is safe to remain in your home. The biggest concern is your electrical system and the potentials for injury from slipping. Then,

  • The sooner you clean the better. If the water damage is manageable and your safety in check, begin the clean-up process right away.
  • Water is heavy. Removing water logged and soaking wet items is a laborious task, therefore be aware of your own abilities and safety when removing wet items.
  • Leave your vacuum in the closet. Your household vacuum is not equipped to handle water removal. Use a mop and bucket, or another absorbent cloth, to soak up and dispose of the water manually. Blot rugs and furniture with absorbent material to soak up the water.
  • Hang up those wet fabrics. Leaving any fabric material soaking in water is a fungus breeding ground. Remove cushions, curtains, blankets, and throw rugs to dry elsewhere.
  • Keep those appliances and electronics off. Your electronics could have water damage where you cannot see it.
  • Clean up. Clean up and remove everything from the waterlogged area that isn’t bolted in place.

Leaving any water damaged areas unrepaired leads to further damage and toxic living situations.

Lastly, call a well-trained water restoration professional with industrial equipment to ensure water damage repairs happen immediately and properly. A water damage professional handles the entire repair process from removing the water to ensuring everything in your home is dry; preventing mold growth and further material damage, protecting your health and making your home safe again.

Will You Be Ready When Disaster Strikes?

5/17/2019 (Permalink)

If a disaster strikes, will you be ready?

 It is important to prepare before a disaster occurs; one way to do that is by building a basic emergency kit.  The following items are recommended for your kit.

  1. Water, one gallon per person per day
  2. Food, non-perishable 3 day-supply
  3. Manual can opener
  4. Battery operated radio, preferably an NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries
  5. Flashlight and extra batteries
  6. First aid kit
  7. Whistle to signal for help
  8. Clothing
  9. Dust masks or bandanas
  10. Plastic sheeting, garbage bags, and duct tape
  11. Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities, if necessary
  12. Local maps
  13. Hygiene items
  14. Important documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification, and bank account information
  15. Cash
  16. Fire extinguisher

Emergencies can happen anytime to anyone.  Take action now to protect yourself and your property. 

3 Steps After a Commercial Fire Loss

5/17/2019 (Permalink)

  • Do anything you can to prevent protect what is left: Whether it's tarping your property, shutting off water mains, or putting up emergency fencing, it's up to you to prevent further damage to the property after the fire. If you neglect to do this, your insurance policy might not pay for the additional damages. Call a professional loss consultant who can explain to you what steps you need to take under your current insurance policy plan.
  • Talk to people: After suffering such a devastating loss, your first response might be to take a break for a few days and process everything at home. This is one of those times where you are going to have to go against your instinct and talk to lots of people. You will want to start by gathering documentation. Get a fire report from the fire marshal's office. Seek a copy of current building codes from building department inspectors, and ask engineers or architects to write out the extent of the building's damage. Or if you feel you can handle it on your own, hire a reputable licensed public adjuster who will help you with gathering all the information you need, along with helping you process your insurance claim.
  • Contact your insurance company ASAP: Amidst everything else going on, it is absolutely imperative that you don’t neglect to call your insurance company to report the damages as quickly as possible. If you take too long to contact your insurance agent, it could cost you big in the long run. You don't need to sign any paperwork or give estimates early on, just let the insurance company know that a damage has occurred.

How Long Does it Take to Repair a Home After a Fire?

5/17/2019 (Permalink)

The Fire Damage Repair Process

PHASE 1: MITIGATION AND DEMOLITION – 3 WEEKS

First, the mitigation vendor will come out to assess the level of damage in the home. The affected rooms will be tested for soot and smoke damage by using special sponges or gloves, and a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum and deodorizer will be used to clean the air. The mitigation vendor will also explain what the demolition and rebuild phase may consist of (if applicable) and determine whether it makes sense to do more complex tasks such as flood cutting, a process that determines the water accumulation in drywall, or tearing down walls and ceilings, and removing floors. These tasks may be necessary when a severe fire occurs as water damage can occur from extinguishing the fire. Lead and asbestos testing may also take place depending on the state the house is in and the year it was built.  

PHASE 2: GENERAL CONTRACTOR AND SUBCONTRACTOR – 3-6 MONTHS

Once the home has been mitigated, the next step is called “build back” which encompasses the repairs required to return the home to pre-fire condition. The build back phase is when a general contractor comes in. He or she will assess the damage, write an estimate and send it to your insurance carrier adjuster (if you’re filing a claim). Keep in mind it can take some time to negotiate cost (up to 2-3 months), but once all parties agree and you sign a work authorization, work can begin.

 The general contractor often takes on subcontractors to rebuild other parts of the home, such as installing flooring or drywall (or uses an architect for larger losses), so you can get the type of flooring, roofing, etc., you want in your newly restored home.

When all work is complete, you and your contractor will perform a final walk through to review the repairs and you will be asked to sign a Certificate of Satisfaction, which is documentation needed to close out the job.

The Amount of Time Depends on the Amount of Damage

Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all time estimate for the restoration process. It depends on the size of the house, severity of damage and vendors involved. A small house with light damage could be fixed in a couple of days, whereas a larger job requiring a full gut (or complete rebuild) could take six months or more. It’s always helpful to ask for a scope of the work involved as well as an estimate, so you have a better sense of what to expect for your specific situation. 

Here are some other things to consider when a home fire occurs:

  • Permits can prevent demolition from happening. For example, you may have to hold off on a rebuild if the building fails lead or asbestos testing.
  • Repairs can take time, but it’s also important to be aware of your timeline, especially if your insurance company is covering alternative living expenses (ALE). For example, if you’ve spent 5 months negotiating costs and only have 9 months of ALE, you would have already spent more than half of your ALE before the restoration process began.
  • Hire a trustworthy mitigation vendor with proper credentials and good reviews. If the mitigation is not done well, it can create more work for the general contractor.
  • Avoid cleaning prior to speaking with a professional company, as it could cause further damage.
  • Collect all sentimental items to handle/clean yourself to avoid potential accidents while professionals are there.

How to Handle Commercial Water Damage Cleanup

5/17/2019 (Permalink)

How to Handle Commercial Water Damage Cleanup

 

Water damage can strike your Indianapolis commercial property at any time and without notice. The effects of commercial water damage can be devastating to a business owner who is now faced with having to cleanup the water damage and reopen their business as soon as possible.

Do you know how to handle water damage at your commercial property? Are you prepared to make the necessary decisions after a pipe breaks, your roof leaks, or the streets flood to protect your property? What is your plan?

Thankfully, this doesn’t have to be as scary as it sounds. A little preparation for a water damage emergency and a plan of action in the event it ever happens can significantly reduce property damage and will get you back to business as soon as possible.

Commercial Water Damage Prevention

Large-scale losses can be prevented by following a few simple guidelines. Know where your emergency water shut-off valves are located, and have a contingency plan in place in case you are not available. Create an emergency plan with directions for what to do in an emergency as well as a list of phone numbers of approved companies to call in an emergency situation. Make sure someone you can trust has the authorization to make decisions if you are unavailable.

It is a good idea to locate a water damage restoration company near you, who provides emergency response before disaster strikes. Do your due diligence and call a few different companies to ask any questions you might have about their services or their experience with companies similar to yours. How quickly cleanup begins will impact the size of the loss.

Causes of Commercial Water Damage

Water damage can happen at any time. Whether from natural disasters, leaking roofs, frozen pipes, sewage backups, or flooding, water damage is a serious concern and a major threat to your commercial property.

Understanding the source of the flooding is essential for proper cleanup, as clean water from a broken pipe or a leaking roof during a rainstorm will be treated differently than floodwaters and sewage backups. Always protect your health, and let the commercial water damage experts handle the cleanup and restoration of your property.

Preventing Mold Growth After Water Damage

Every water damage restoration company is going to be concerned with preventing or mitigating mold growth after water damage in your commercial property. Mold growth can begin 24-48 hours after water damage, and starting extraction and drying as soon as possible after water damage is your best line of defense against mold.

Proper removal and drying of the water is critical after a water damage emergency, and will prevent any long-term problems some experience after attempting water damage cleanup themselves, or by hiring someone who doesn’t have the proper equipment or experience.

Most Common Areas in Your Home for a Fire to Start

5/15/2019 (Permalink)

Places and Items Prone to Fire and Smoke Damage

It's important to identify areas, objects and circumstances that are more likely to be fire hazards than others, to help prevent any home fires and keep your house up-to-date on safety practices. Keep fire extinguishers in the kitchen, garage, and near any appliances that use heat/electricity. It's also a good idea (if not required by code) to have smoke detectors in every room of the house – especially bedrooms – and to check them at least once a month to make sure the devices are working properly.


1. KITCHEN

It's crucial to practice home fire safety in the kitchen because it's the place where most home fires originate. In fact, half of all residential fires start in the kitchen due to appliances that utilize heat/electricity, cooking-related incidents (such as an unattended oven/stovetop), or fabric and material (a dishcloth, for example) that's too close to heat. A dirty oven/stovetop that has a lot of baked-on grease and residue is another fire safety hazard, as it can easily cause grease fires.

2. APPLIANCES

Most homes have a number of appliances, many of which operate with electricity, gas or heat (or some combination of these) and can be potential fire hazards. Older appliances (15 years or older) are particularly prone to fire damage especially if they aren't regularly cleaned/inspected and properly maintained. It's a good idea to only run appliances when you're at home to avoid having to deal with any safety issues or fire restoration, in the unexpected case that they overheat and/or ignite.

  • Dryers – Lint, fiber and dust buildup in dryers is one of the main causes of a laundry room fire. Make sure to keep vents and filters clean by removing any lint after each use and to clean out the lint from the hose connected to the back of the dryer at least once a year.
  • Dishwashers – Heating elements in the dishwasher raise the water temperature and help dry the dishes. These mechanisms can overheat and catch fire, especially in older models or if the dishwasher has faulty parts.
  • Microwaves – Although they are convenient, microwaves can be dangerous if you heat food or materials (such as aluminum foil, Styrofoam or certain plastic containers) that are flammable. You could end up with a fire or even smoke damage if not quickly extinguished.
  • Toasters/Toaster Ovens – The electrical elements inside a toaster can start to become faulty over time and may not turn off, which could start a fire. Crumbs can accumulate and become stuck at the bottom of the toaster, so make sure to clean it regularly to prevent a fire and never leave these appliances unsupervised when in use.

3. BEDROOM

There are many potential fire hazards in bedrooms – bedding, curtains, plush items, mattresses – which make this room a high risk for fire damage. Mattresses made after 2007 are flame-retardant and comply with higher safety standards. Most mattresses made before 2007 usually aren't up to code with the Federal Mattress Flammability Standard, so you may want to consider upgrading to a new one. Incorporate home fire safety by installing smoke alarms in each bedroom and make a fire escape plan that includes two ways to exit the room (usually through the door and a window).

4. CHIMNEYS AND FIREPLACES

Some common issues that arise with chimneys and fireplaces include structural problems which can cause temperatures to burn too high, or chimney liners that are loose or have become detached which can cause burning embers and ash to escape to combustible areas in walls, attics and roofs. Keep chimneys and fireplaces cleaned and maintained. You should have them inspected and professionally cleaned at least once a year or when there is a quarter-inch buildup of creosote or soot. Rugs, tapestries and other fabrics that are too close to the fireplace can easily ignite. Prevent this by keeping cloth items away from the fireplace and always keep a spark screen in front of the fireplace.

5. LIVING ROOM

Like bedrooms, living rooms contain many potentially flammable items – electronics, drapes/curtains, furniture ­– which could easily catch fire and spread it rapidly. One of the leading fire hazards in living rooms are candles. Never leave a burning candle unattended and make sure it’s kept away from flammable/combustible objects.

Fire Cleanup

You may be able to handle some of the fire cleanup on your own, such as ventilating your home by opening all of the windows and washing all of your clothes and fabric items that have been exposed to fire and smoke damage. However, for larger cleanup and restoration tasks, it's probably best to hire a professional fire restoration company. 

It Doesn't Cost A Lot To Be Prepared

5/10/2019 (Permalink)

It is no secret that many families and individuals are looking to cut back on spending. But with the frequency of disasters, both natural and manmade, can you afford not to be prepared? Preparedness doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.

Here are a few tips on how you can protect those that matter to you without spending a fortune.

• Make a Plan.

Work with you family and neighbors to make an emergency plan for the types of disasters that affect your area.

Make sure everyone in your family understands where to go and what to do in case of an emergency.

You can download Family Emergency Plan templates www.ready.gov/make-a-plan

• Update Contact Information.

Having accurate records for family, friends and neighbors will help you stay in contact and possibly help those in need. Make sure updated contact information is posted in visible places throughout your house and workplace.

• Check Your Policy.
Review your insurance policy annually and make any necessary changes – renters, too! When a disaster strikes, you want to know that your coverage will get you back on your feet.

• Make a Ready List.
You may not need all of the items in ready-made preparedness kits. Choose the essentials that fit your needs and budget. Don’t forget to keep supplies at work and in your car. Sample Ready Lists can be found at www.ready.gov/document/familysupply-list

• Plan Your Purchases. 
You can save money by thinking ahead. Don’t buy preparedness items just before a storm when they’re expensive and supplies will be in high demand. Buy items at the end of the season when you can get good deals.

• Shop Sales.
Shop at sales and used goods stores. Buy preparedness items throughout the year, instead of all at once, and you won’t notice the cost as much.

• Make Sure it Keeps.
Store water in safe, containers. You don’t need to buy expensive bottled water, just make sure your water containers are disinfected and airtight

• Request a Gift. 
We all get things we don’t need. Suggest preparedness supplies as gifts from your friends and family. It just might save your life.

• Trade a Night Out.
Trade one night out to fund your 72-hour kit. Taking a family of four to the movies can cost upwards of $80. Just one night staying in could fund your Ready kit.

*The best tip: start now. Take small steps toward preparedness and before you know it, you will be Ready!

Tips To Prevent Water Damage

5/10/2019 (Permalink)

Prevent Water Damage in Your Home

Water damage is something no one wants to deal with, large or small. It can wreak havoc in your home or business, and the cleanup required can be both time consuming and expensive, especially in cases where large areas are effected, or damage that later results in mold. When water damage occurs, it not only compromises part, if not all, of the structure of the dwelling, but the furnishings, appliances, collectibles and a number of other things. 

Many times water damage comes from leaky or busted water pipes in a bathroom or kitchen. In the bathroom, there are a few simple things you can do to possibly prevent future problems. For one thing, if you don't have an exhaust fan, install one. Steam and humidity that results from your baths and showers provide a perfect environment for mold to grow; exhaust fans will control this. Also, watch for stains or spots forming on the walls that could indicate leaking pipes behind the sheet rock or other wall coverings. You might want to repair the grout or chalking around your tub, shower, or toilet that is beginning to get loose, especially if you are noticing small puddles of water around these areas. 

Though you cannot see below the tiles, the moisture could be causing damage to the wood flooring beneath. If this is happening, it could also be a breeding ground for wood damaging insects. One other thing you definitely need to do is check the pipes located under the counters in not only the bathroom, but kitchen as well. Since you have to get down on your knees and move items that may be stored in front of, or under them, you don't know there is a problem until it is too late. If you see the fittings, or the pipes are getting rusty and worn, you should replace them. 

Here are a few significant and handy protection tips: 

  • Check to make sure the water hoses running from the washing machine are in good repair 
  • Dishwashers should be checked regularly as they have a high potential to leak. Installing steel braided hoses on appliances may be worth looking into. 
  • Pipes and connections should be checked regularly 
  • Avoid flushing foreign objects down the toilet 
  • Remember to clean out roof gutters as this is a major cause of water damage 

If water damage has already occurred, here are some tips to help minimize damage: 

  • Turn off the source of the water intrusion 
  • Remove furniture and rugs off the floor or they may leave permanent stains 
  • Avoid lifting up carpets from edges as this may cause shrinkage which is virtually impossible to repair. 
  • Use foil to put between furniture legs and carpet 
  • Wipe down your furniture 
  • Don't use an ordinary vacuum cleaner to suck up water 
  • Put down towels and mop to soak up excess water 
  • Turn on air conditioning to dehumidify air and turn on fans (if safe to do so) 
  • Call an IICRC qualified water damage business as soon as possible.