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Complete this Winter Checklist

11/16/2021 (Permalink)

Winter Checklist By filling out this checklist, you are ensuring that your home is winter-ready.

Temperatures are just going to get colder and colder as we enter into the winter months. By following this checklist, you ensure that your family and you will be safe while spending more time in your home. 

Turning off the space heater

Alliant Energy has mentioned that customers should expect an increase in utility bills this winter as the gas price has increased since last year. Many consumers are looking at alternatives to counteract the rise by looking into other heating alternatives such as space heaters. If you want to read more about our tips on using a space heater properly, please read "Heating Alternatives."

Cutting the bottom of the Christmas Tree's trunk

If you're like me, you might have a family tradition of going out to the local Christmas tree farm to pick out the best-looking tree. During our first year of having a real tree, my family learned the importance of cutting off a part of the trunk. This is critical because the sap will harden the bottom of the trunk, especially as it sits on the lot. When the sap hardens, the tree can't absorb any moisture from the stand. This causes the needles to dry out, making them very flammable. 

Blowing out candles

Don't you love going down the isles and smelling all of the new season scents; Bourbon Pecan, Pumpkin Pie, or Evergreen are some of the best. When you mix in these longer, cooler nights, all you really want to do is snuggle up the couch with all of your favorite scents. When you forget to blow out the candles, which is an accident waiting to happen. This is because pets, especially cats, are rebellious and knock things off the counter. When using candles, you should use a candle warmer to help lessen the chance of a fire-related accident. Another practice that you should keep in mind is the 3-foot radius rule, which means you should move anything flammable away from the candle when in use. 

Getting your chimney cleaned

Getting your chimney checked and cleaned is something that everyone likes to cut corners around. When a chimney settles during the summer, it becomes a perfect home for creatures such as birds, squirrels, and sometimes raccoons. Another risk you run into is that by not cleaning the chimney, there is a chance that toxic gases can enter your home. 

By making it an effort to check off the list, you ensure that your home is prepared for the colder months ahead. 

Heating Alternatives

11/9/2021 (Permalink)

A space heater The space heater is waiting to be turned on, safely.

Heating Alternatives

It is has been stated by Mid-American Energy Co. that heating bills for natural gas could rise by 46% to 96% over last year because of rising gas costs. Consumers who use propane for their heating source should expect their heating costs to go up to 69% over the previous years. This leaves many households to use alternative ways to heat their homes, such as electric heaters.

Dangers of Space Heaters

  According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, space heaters are the leading cause of over a thousand house fires every year. Space heaters are a great alternative to heating when used correctly. Here are some easy ways to ensure that you are safely using your space heaters. 

  • Keep space heater on the floor:

In the middle of a snowstorm, it might feel aesthetic to place it on a countertop or on a nightstand to have it blow directly onto you. Please refrain from using the space heater in this manner by placing it on the ground, free from any flammable fabrics/Items. 

  •  Keep away from water:

As we know, water and electricity do not go together. When placing the space heater in a good location, keep in mind the area of the room. It’s best to keep it out of the kitchen and the bathroom to ensure that there is a chance of water access. 

  • Plug it into the wall:

The biggest takeaway from this article would be to remember to not plug it into a surge protector, extension cord, or anything that isn’t the wall outlet. When plugging it into an extension cord, you’re adding extra electrical connections that increase your chance of creating resistance, allowing heat to build up. When inserting the space heater into the wall, you will want to take into account the 3-foot rule or place it 3 feet away from the wall. This gives the proper distance from the heater to the wall, ensuring that the wall isn’t getting heated.

We understand that the projected increase of propane and natural gas heating options might bring you closer to space heater alternatives. We hope that you place these heaters in a thoughtful and strategic location to ensure that you minimize the chance of creating a perfect scenario for a house fire

Dryer Fires

11/9/2021 (Permalink)

Man putting clothes in dryer When putting clothes through the washer and dryer it is important to remember to not overfill them.

Laundry Room Fires

Whether you love doing laundry or you hate doing laundry, there are some essential things you need to keep in mind to ensure you aren’t putting your home at risk of a fire. Believe it or not, washers and dryers, on average, cause about 16,000 house fires each year, with dryers causing 92% of them, with 31% of the leading causes of these fires being failure to clean and perform routine maintenance. 

Causes of Dryer Fires

  • Mechanical and electrical failure:

Although these types of fires aren’t as common as the others, it is important to check to ensure the parts are working correctly. This allows any repairs that are needed to be made before it can lead to any significant problems. 

  • Improper Use:

Overfilling your dryer can potentially cause a fire because you are making the dryer work extra hard due to all the extra weight. By checking the clothing label you can have a better understanding of the material is intended for high-temperature heat. Some materials that aren’t suited for high temperatures are: plastic, rubber, or foam can heat and melt, leading to a fire. 

  • Dirty lint filters and vents

Clogged vents, ducts, and filters are the leading cause of dryer fires. Lint filters accumulate an excessive amount of dirt, grass, or other material left from the washer. Another cause of a dryer fire is when you don’t check the outside vent which causes improper airflow. Improper airflow leads to lint collecting on the screen which creates the perfect situation to start a fire. By cleaning this you aren’t allowing birds, insects, or rodents to nest in these perfect locations.  

Although doing laundry is a tedious task, you must be following these steps to ensure that you aren’t creating perfect conditions for dryer fires. 

Disinfection Season

11/9/2021 (Permalink)

Technician disinfecting workspace Our Technicians wiping down all high touched surfaces.

Disinfection Season

With the colder months coming up relatively fast, let’s talk about disinfection. As we continue to fight the COVID-19 virus, we also have to think about those stomach bugs and common flu. When owning a business, you have to consider the health of your employees, customers, and the amount of traffic flow you have coming through your company. When a client calls for a disinfection job, we evaluate the current situation by asking insightful questions. Is this COVID-19 related or just a bug? Confirmed case or suspected case? How many confirmed cases? 

These questions help prepare our team so they know what kind of PPE they should use to keep them safe and healthy. We place disinfection jobs into three different categories:

  • Category 1: No confirmed case, preventative  

We will send in technicians into the business with a face mask and gloves as they will mist the facility once. Since this is just a preventative action, they won’t wipe down every surface. Misting the facility ensures that the surfaces are disinfected for our client and their customers. 

  • Category 2: No confirmed case, suspected case

We will send our technicians into the business with a face mask, gloves, and goggles in category two. They will mist the facility once and wipe down all horizontal surfaces and high touched areas. 

  • Category 3: Confirmed case, full hazmat suit

For the safety of our technicians, we will send them in full PPE which includes a Tyvek suit. These are for businesses that had a confirmed case in which we mist twice, wipe down all horizontal surfaces, and wipe down all high touched areas.  

With flu season right around the corner, if you’re looking for a professional team to come in and help disinfect your business, we hope you call us! 

Would You be Ready?

11/9/2021 (Permalink)

ERP pulled up on a phone The Emergency Ready Program has all the information that you need right at your disposal.

As a business owner, you put a lot of hard hours into the business to ensure success. You hire local professionals to do the components that aren’t in your skill sets. For example, you would hire a marketer to help your business stand out against your competitors. You hire the staff that relies on your business to be successful in making an income. All of these components are constantly on the mind of the business owner. Something that doesn’t get a lot of thought is if something were to happen. Would the business owner be prepared and ready for the unexpected?

Emergency Ready Program

Many times owners aren’t prepared for an accident at their business. At that moment, it’s too late for preliminary actions to be taken to help alleviate the stress on that owner. These steps should start when you get the keys to your new business. As a business owner, you should know that you can go to sleep at night without the unpredicted stress. That is what our Emergency Ready Program is all about. It’s a strategic app that holds all of the important contacts and information that will be at the owner’s fingertips.

First Steps to Success

The very first step to success is to call our SERVPRO and talk to one of the Sales and Marketing Representatives who will gather critical information about your business type. This is followed up with that representative coming to your business for 45 minutes. They will collect information such as building access points, utility contacts, shut-off information, emergency contacts, and more building specifics. All of this information will allow quick response times and easier access to critical information that can help save your business before it’s too late.

We hope that you will never need to use the Emergency Ready Program. Don’t you think a little preparation now can help save you some stress before it’s too late? 

Tips on how to prevent your pipes from freezing

11/5/2021 (Permalink)

Water Faucet Running By keeping the faucet slightly running you prevent the chance of pressure building up in the pipe.

Last year we all witnessed the extreme cases of pipes freezing in a place you’d never expect, Texas. As we wrap up our warm Iowa months we want to take some time and remind our clients of the steps to take to avoid having their pipes freeze. 

Tip 1: Keep the Heat On

One of the easiest ways to avoid having your pipes freeze and burst is to leave the heat on even when you’re not home. When not home it’s okay if you don’t keep the thermostat at the normal temperature that you usually keep it at. In fact, by keeping it set at 50 F or above, you’ll ensure the pipes will stay warm and the chances of them freezing is far less. Some residents will turn their heat off when they’re not home in an attempt to save money on the utility bill.  Keep in mind, when a pipe bursts, the cost of the water damage will be far more than a utility bill.  

Tip 2: Let the Faucet Drip

When you leave the faucet on just enough to keep it slightly dripping,  you’re decreasing your chance of having your pipes burst. This happens when pressure is created between the frozen blockage and the faucet. By keeping the faucet dripping you are allowing the constraint to relieve itself which will prevent any buildup of pressure. Keep the faucet turned towards the hotter side to ensure that it will keep the drain pipes warm. Be conscious of drain traps and keep that constant flow of water so that the drain line doesn’t freeze as well. 

What To Do When Dealing With Water Damage

11/5/2021 (Permalink)

Water on Hardwood Floors Water pouring out on the hardwood floors causes stress to our clients.

It’s 5 pm, and you get home from a long day at work. You decide to go down to the basement to grab something from the freezer to make for supper. Get to the bottom and smush, water everywhere!

What do you do? Say some choice words and think “Ugh, not today.”

Call your insurance agent to let them know you have a claim to call in, then investigate where the water is coming from.

Water damage does not always come from heavy rain or a storm. It can come from a broken pipe, an overflowing toilet or sink, a crack in the foundation where water may have been pooling. Once you know where the water is coming from, you can begin the steps to stop it and mitigate it.

If the water is indeed coming from a pipe or overflow, it is important to know where your water shutoff is in your home or business. Emergency Ready Profiles are available, it’s a handy tool to know where it is and how to shut it off.

Once that is done, call a restoration and cleaning company, like SERVPRO. Unless you have a water shop vac and a few air movers and dehumidifiers, it may take you a while to clean it and we want to help you avoid microbial growth at all costs. The restoration company can do moisture readings and determine what is needed to dry the space, and get you back to where you were before. They can also determine if any drywall or insulation will need to be replaced or removed, all while working with your insurance and other vested parties. Any reconstruction that may be needed will need to be done by a company that specializes in that but luckily, SERVPRO offers reconstruction services as well as specialized subcontractors to help take care of the project from beginning to end.

It never hurts to do maintenance on any pipes or check on the water shut off, but in the case that something happens and you have water, those are some steps to take towards mitigation!

Floods are Unpreventable

11/5/2021 (Permalink)

Flooding on Carpet SERVPRO knows the exact steps to take to restore to the preloss condition.

As Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana the state had to brace for impact as flooding, in particular, became a problem. When dealing with the issue of flooding, there are very few things that people can do to avoid water damage to their property. Efforts begin once the flooding has hit its crest and water starts to lower. Our expert Project Manager will come and evaluate the current state and make their decision on what approach they should go with. They will go over the scope of services with the client. Due to the unknown source of the water, a lot of the contents may need to be thrown out. Another factor that the Project Manager will take into account would be damage caused by the water source. We are unable to dry permanently damaged structures such as fallen ceilings, insulation, or some types of furniture. These are considered permanently damaged because no amount of drying would get those contents back to the preloss condition and their structural integrity. 

Disruptive Drying Method

One of the common SERVPRO drying practices is called the disruptive drying method. This method is used more frequently on water damages that occur from non-potable water sources. This involves removing wet items, injecting air to speed the drying process, or perforating surfaces to allow water to evaporate. In this method, repairs have to be done after the structure has been dried completely. We use this practice when there are concerns about contamination, damage, or when the cost of drying is more than replacing the material.

Aggressive Drying Method

The aggressive drying method is when our technicians dry wet materials due to no concern of contamination and damage.  This method occurs more commonly when the water damage occurs from a clean potable water source. Our technicians use warm, dry direct airflows to ensure that the materials will dry completely. This method is used when the cost of replacing the material is more than the cost of drying as well. When the water comes from a sanitary source or when adequate dehumidification is available the Project Manager will decide to use this method. 

Importance of Cleaning the Gutters

11/5/2021 (Permalink)

Icicles on side of house. The building up of ice can create an unsafe amount of weight in the gutters.

Temperatures are starting to drop overnight and we know what that means; frost and ice. Iowa has received quite a bit of rain lately, and as it gets colder outside, we’re less likely to check our gutters and make sure they are clear and free of leaf build-up.

Clearing out gutters ensures that water flows freely to the spout and down. Be sure there is a spout leading away from the home about three feet or more. If the water pools down the soil around the foundation, that can lead to pressure on the foundation and over time, could cause a crack. Also, if the gutters are full, water will run over the edge of the gutter and pool near the foundation resulting in the same potential issue.

Water that sits in the gutter because it’s clogged can also freeze and put unnecessary weight on the gutter. Yes, they do hold up more often than not, but in some cases, the soffit or wood can break down causing further damage.

If for any reason you would like more reinforcement, it never hurts to lay soil around the foundation at an incline to help any water runoff away from the home. 

If anything was to happen you can trust SERVPRO to help realize any of your winter stress.

What is a Fire Restoration Pack-out?

10/29/2021 (Permalink)

Fire restoration pack-out is a service that SERVPRO provides that brings a certain amount of joy to our team. A fire pack-out is when our team takes contents, that we know that we can restore to the preloss condition, we will clean and deodorize them. After they are restored to the preloss condition our team will package up the contents, store them, and deliver them back to the owner when that time comes. This process will help our customers gain a certain amount of comfort knowing that they will gain a piece of their home back.

Pack-Out Inventory

When the contents are removed from the owner’s location we will do a complete documented list of all of the contents. We do this so that we have a clear record of all preexisting conditions and any other information that will help protect the customer’s property and reduce contractor and insurance company liability. During this survey, a content technician will create a written list with digital photos to go with.  If any boxed or canned foods that encountered heat from the fire must be properly documented by the restorer before disposal.

Attention to detail

Here at SERVPRO, we hope that you wouldn’t ever need our service but, we know that things like fires are uncontrollable. With that being said, if you’re ever in need of our assistance just know that we will provide the top-notch service to help restore your contents to preloss conditions. We try and take the stress out of these situations so that our customers can focus on the recovery.