Mold Safety – Kitchen Tips

One of the worst contaminants known is the silent but dangerous growth of mold. Mold can grow indoors on wet or damp surfaces, such as wallpaper, ceiling tiles, carpets, insulation material, wood and drywall. It can start to grow within 48 hours and if left unchecked, can have serious impacts on both your quality of life and your home’s physical structure. If you see signs of mold or suspect that it has infected your home, we’re here to help remediate the problem and prevent long-term damage.

Cleaning up a life of hoarding

Hoarding Clean Up

If you find yourself, a family member or even a friend dealing with a hoarding situation, don’t be embarrassed, it’s not due to poor organization or laziness. Compulsive hoarding is a complex anxiety disorder that makes it difficult for a person to discard or part with possessions, regardless of actual value.

Hoarders may feel the item will be useful one day or feel sentimental about it. Many have dealt with this problem their entire lives, and often only after other family members become involved is the issue addressed. In addition to excessive clutter, other serious effects of compulsive hoarding can include fire or health hazards and infestations. It also may become impossible to prepare or eat food in the home or to have appliance, electrical or plumbing repairs conducted because service technicians cannot enter the home.

ServiceMaster Restore Hoarding Services:

• Remove clutter and clean up debris

• Help locate lost jewelry, hidden money and/or other valuable items

• Coordinate recycling and shredding

• Help distribute donations

• Assist in distributing kept items to family members (local and national)

• Facilitate paperwork required by government agencies, lawyers and trusts

Helping Families Deal with Hoarding

A home affected by hoarding can be dangerous, unhealthy or both—and dramatic action is required to address the problem and help the customer get on the road to recovery. Not only does it require experts who can navigate the issues, but also people who treat each customer like a member of the family. For an understanding, professional approach to helping solve a serious problem, we are your trusted choice.

At ServiceMaster Restore, we have more than 60 years’ experience in all types of professional cleaning and disaster recovery. We’ve dealt with every kind of critical restoration situation, and our expertise, proven methods and extensive national network give us the ability to handle the toughest job. Plus, our experience working with families facing restoration challenges has taught us that we are not just restoring homes, we are restoring lives. So from the moment we walk in the door, we treat each person and their possessions with care and attention

A Proven Process

Step 1: Understanding

• Connecting with the hoarder and understanding what caused the problem

• Working with the family and appropriate support professionals

• Taking time to earn the trust of the hoarder

Step 2: Planning and Cleaning

• Develop a cleaning plan

• Sorting, organizing and cleaning with the hoarder

• Arranging for items to be cleaned, donated, recycled, stored or disposed of

• Working directly with the individual and family for a successful outcome

Step3: Follow-Up

• Encourage aftercare to ensure that cleaning and the commitment to change continues

• Short-term contact with the customer

Hurricane/Tropical Storm

Hurricane/Tropical Storm Preparedness

 

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Dear Valued Customers,

ServiceMaster Restoration is always ready to help you, during your time in need.   We are keeping a close eye on Hurricane Joaquin for the areas we service.

Weather you are affected by the weather or not, create an emergency plan for you and your loved ones and your employees too.  Here are a few tips that you might need to know on what to do and what supplies you need:

  • Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio for critical information from the National Weather Service.
  • Check you disaster supplies and replace or restock as needed.
  • Fill your car’s gas tank.
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Medication (7 day supply) and medical items
  • Flashlight
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blanket
  • Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, wipes and diapers)
  • Pet supplies for your pet lovers (leash, collar, bowl and food)
  • Turn the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting and keep them closed as much as possible so that food will last longer if the power goes out.
  • Unplug appliances
  • Emergency contact list(nearest emergency shelter, hospital, utilities services and your insurance provider)

There are many more things you can do, you can view more at www.nws.noaa.gov/om/hurricane/resources/Hurricane%20ENG.PDF

 

Hurricane Danny Report:

Danny Strengthens in Atlantic to Category 3

Friday afternoon, a NOAA research plane not only sent back near real-time radar images from a hurricane for the first time, but also found maximum winds had increased to Category 3 intensity.

Hurricane Hunters have reported winds of Category 3 strength, but Danny may be peaking in intensity. The radar indicates Danny may be undergoing an eyewall replacement cycle, whereby an outer eyewall replaces the inner eyewall of the hurricane. If this is indeed happening, it’s helping to temporarily strengthen the storm, but would also portend a period of weakening ahead. Additionally the storm may grow some in size because of this process but will likely remain on the small side.

Regardless, the hurricane is directed squarely toward a wall of dry air and increasingly hostile upper winds, which together should work to weaken Danny as it approaches the eastern Caribbean islands later this weekend. Officially, the forecast is for a mid-grade tropical storm to be moving through the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico late Monday into Tuesday. Danny should be moving fairly quickly through the islands, so this could bring beneficial (but not flooding) rains to parts of the eastern Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, that need it.

As of now nothing suggests a significant threat to the U.S. mainland from Danny. That said, because it’s more than a week out and the steering pattern favors a continued westward track, it’s too soon to completely rule out any impact to the mainland.” By Stu Ostro, Michael Lowry, Dr. Greg Postel, Dr. Matt Sitkowski | Published Aug 21 2015 01:56 PM EDT | The Weather Channel,  Full Report | 

Preparing Your Home for Summer Storms

Although hurricane season is well under way, it’s never too late to prepare your home for summertime storms. Even typical summer storms can cause damage to your home without preparation, leaving you with significant cleanup costs and a home at greater risk if another storm or hurricane does occur. Regardless of your home improvement experience and budget, there are several steps you can take to protect your home from wind, rain, hail, lighting, and other damaging weather.

Maintain Your Roof

Roof damage is one of the most common side effects of severe summer weather. A leak in your roof can also cause widespread flooding throughout your home, making your roof your top priority when it comes to preventing storm-related damage. Have your roof inspected once a year by a roofing professional and follow any recommended maintenance tasks, such as gutter cleaning, to keep your roof in good shape. As soon as you notice roof damage, such as missing shingles, loose flashing, or pooling water, schedule repairs promptly to address the issue and ensure your roof will be solid and secure when a storm does hit.

Perform an Inventory

Performing a quick inventory of your valuables serves several purposes. First, an updated inventory can help you report accurate losses to your insurance if a storm causes damage to your valuables. Second, knowing where your most expensive items are located can alert you if you need to take additional steps to protect them. Electronics should be elevated off the floor to prevent water damage, while breakables should be moved away from windows and doors in case of high winds or blowing debris. Taking an inventory of items stored in your attic, basement, or crawlspace can alert you to poor storage techniques that could also leave these items vulnerable—consider storing items in waterproof bins at the highest point of your basement or crawlspace, and move items out of your attic if you are concerned about water, mold, or wind damage.

Clear Your Yard

Most of the blowing debris generated by summertime storms comes from your own yard. Thus, clearing your yard of potential debris is the best way to protect your home from this type of damage. Make sure there is a place for all toys, bicycles, and yard equipment in your garage or an outdoor storage receptacle, such as a bin or shed. Avoid leaving these items out, even if a storm isn’t predicted. Inspect your trees and other landscaping regularly and address plants that appear in poor health to prevent fallen trees from damaging your home. Keep your landscaping trimmed, particularly near your home and around your air conditioner condenser.

Understand Your Insurance Policy

Your homeowner’s insurance policy will become important in the event of storm damage. Take some time to read through your policy and make sure you understand which types of damage are and aren’t covered. If you are concerned that you may not be covered in the event of a storm, talk to your insurance company to explore your options. Many homeowner’s insurance policies don’t cover flooding by default, meaning you may be left with the bill for water cleanup after a storm if you haven’t opted for additional flood insurance.

With the right preparation, you can minimize or even avoid summer storm damage due to rainstorms, thunderstorms, and hurricanes. If you need help with cleanup or insurance reconstruction after a storm, please visit our website to find out more about our services in Wilmington, NC, as well as discover more helpful storm, flood, and fire cleanup tips on our blog.

Hurricane Damage Prevention and Mitigation

Hurricane season lasts from June 1st through November 30th, although storms can occur prior to and after these dates. Every year, hurricanes cause damage to homes and other buildings throughout coastal areas. Hurricane damage during active seasons can reach tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars over the course of several months. The key to protecting your property from hurricane damage is preparation, both before and after the storm. Knowing how to prepare your home for an oncoming storm, as well as the steps to take immediately after a storm to mitigate any damage that may have occurred, will help to minimize any property damage and losses you may suffer.

Types of Hurricane Damage

To achieve classification as a hurricane, a storm must produce sustained winds of 74 miles per hour or greater. These high winds are one of the primary causes of hurricane damage, dislodging any parts of your home that are not securely anchored, as well as subjecting your home to fast-moving debris carried along by the storm. In addition to high winds, hurricanes also produce heavy rains, making flooding another common type of hurricane damage that affects homes both on the coasts and further inland. Hurricanes also produce lightning and hail, which can contribute to both property damage and power outages that may affect electronics and appliances in your home.

Preventing Hurricane Damage

There are many ways to address vulnerabilities in your home’s structure to prepare it for the conditions produced by a hurricane. First, keep yourself up to date on the weather and take action as soon as a hurricane is expected to hit your area. Protecting your home means preventing its protective outer “shell” from becoming breached, so make sure your roof, doors, windows, and siding are all in good condition. Secure your garage door and use storm shutters or plywood to cover your windows for added protection. Whole-house and single-outlet surge protectors can prevent power surges from damaging your electronics, while a sump pump can prevent lower areas of your home from flooding. Elevating sensitive electronics and appliances above the expected flood level can prevent them from sustaining damage if flooding does occur.

Mitigating Hurricane Damage

Hurricanes are unpredictable by nature and even with precautions in place, your property may still sustain damage during a storm. Taking steps as soon as possible after a storm to address any damage you find will help to minimize its effects on your home. If you evacuated your home prior to the storm, perform a thorough inspection from the outside in when you return to determine if and where damage has occurred. If your home is flooded, do not enter it until you are sure the power and gas have been shut off to prevent electrocution and other injuries. Contact a professional service to help you assess and repair the damage caused by flooding, wind, fire, or power loss to prevent or put a stop to issues such as mold growth or deterioration of your home’s flooring, walls, and furnishings.

If your home has been damaged during a storm, professional storm damage mitigation will restore your home to pre-storm condition quickly and with less disruption to your daily life. You can explore our full range of damage mitigation services when you visit us on the web, including fire damage, mold damage, and water damage restoration. You’ll also find more helpful articles on disaster prevention and damage cleanup when you click through the articles on our blog.

Getting Ready for Summer Grilling

Outdoor grilling is a time-honored tradition enjoyed by families across America. However, grilling can cause damage to your home if your grill is not properly maintained or placed. An estimated 8,800 home fires are caused by outdoor grills each year, with the majority of incidents occurring between May and August. Knowing how to prepare your grill for a summer of safe, delicious meals can help you prevent a home fire that could cause injuries or result in fire damage to your property.

Placing Your Grill

The placement of your grill plays an important role in its safe use. Never use an outdoor grill inside your home, your garage, or inside a trailer or tent, regardless of whether the grill is gas-, wood-, or charcoal-burning. When choosing the perfect place for your grill, select an area that is well ventilated and stable—all of your grill’s legs or wheels should be firmly on the ground or deck to prevent tipping. Avoid placing your grill beneath areas with overhangs, as these can accumulate smoke and soot damage and trap hot smoke and cinders near your home. If you’ll be grilling on your deck or in your yard, consider using a grill mat to catch grease, cinders, and other debris; grill mats are flame resistant and can withstand high heat, preventing the ground or decking underneath your grill from catching on fire. Even if you’ll be grilling on a patio or paved walkway, a grill mat can still protect this area from unsightly stains.

Preparing Your Grill

Allowing dirt and debris to accumulate on your grill not only affects the taste of your food, it can also increase the risk of a fire. Disrepair can similarly affect the function and safety of your grill, making simple maintenance a must to prevent fire and other accidents. When you first pull your grill out for use in the spring and summer, give it a good once-over. If you have a gas grill, you should clean the tank (including the valve) and inspect the gas line for leaks before cooking. Even if the gas line appears intact, if it looks worn in any way, you’re better off replacing it before you enjoy your first grilled meal. You should also wipe down your burners with a damp microfiber cloth and clean any grates or racks with a stainless steel brush. Your charcoal grill’s racks can be cleaned the same way; also pay attention to the inside of the grill’s lid and bowl to remove carbonized grease with warm, soapy water and a stainless steel brush. Don’t forget to clean the outside of your grill using an appropriate cleaner and a microfiber cloth to avoid scratches—not only will this remove any additional grease, dirt, and debris for a safer grilling experience, it will keep your grill looking its best for years to come as well.

Fire and smoke damage should always be addressed professionally so you can enjoy a clean, healthy home once more. You can find out more about fire restoration and fire cleanup in Wilmington when you visit our website to check out our full range of fire, water, and storm damage cleanup services. We also invite you to read through our blog, where you’ll discover more helpful information about protecting your home and your family through preventive practices and quick action when the unexpected does occur.

Keeping Your Air Conditioner’s Drain Line Clear

Air conditioning systems create moisture runoff as they remove heat and humidity from the air. In the case of central air conditioning, this runoff is funneled through a drain line to the exterior of your home. However, like any plumbing drain, this line is vulnerable to clogs. When clogs form, excess moisture can accumulate inside your air conditioner or in the area surrounding it, causing water damage to the appliance and your home. Standing water caused by moisture accumulation can also lead to mold growth, especially during the warm, humid months of the summer. Keeping your air conditioner’s drain line clear of dirt, debris, and mold will prevent water damage and the need for water restoration due to drain line clogs.

Change Your Furnace Filter Regularly

Your furnace filter screens out airborne particles, such as dust, pollen, and animal dander, every time air is drawn into your HVAC system. By screening out these particles, your filter prevents them from reaching the interior of your air conditioner, which also includes its drain and drain line. If you don’t use a furnace filter or leave your old filter in place long past its functional lifetime, your air conditioner becomes susceptible to greater dirt and dust buildup, which can in turn lead to clogs in its drain line. You should always use a furnace filter, regardless of the season, and replace your filter with a new one every 30-90 days.

Check the Exterior Drain

Many homeowners aren’t even aware that central air conditioners typically have a condensate drain port on the exterior of their home. However, this drain port must be cleaned regularly to prevent clogs that could cause water backup into your air conditioner and its surroundings. Most air conditioner drain lines exit the home near your air conditioner’s exterior condenser, so check this area for a pipe or drain. Inspect the drain every few weeks to ensure it is clear and make sure all foliage around the drain is trimmed back to allow water to leave the drain pipe unhindered. Once or twice a cooling season, use a wet/dry vacuum to clear any forming clogs by attaching the end of the hose to the drain port and wrapping a cloth around the connection several times. Simply hold the cloth and hose in place and turn on the vacuum for a few seconds to remove any debris, mold, or forming clogs from the pipe.

Clean Out the Drain Pipe

Mold growth is a common cause of A/C drain line clogs—because your drain line is constantly wet and warm, mold can grow quickly throughout the pipe. You can easily clean out your drain pipe by pouring a cup of bleach into the drain’s access port, which is located near the indoor condenser. If you can’t find an access port, ask your HVAC technician about its location during your next tune-up. Cleaning out the drain pipe with bleach once in the early spring will not only kill any forming mold, it will break the mold down as well to prevent clog formation.

If you’ve experienced water damage or mold growth due to a clogged A/C drain line, professional water cleanup and mold mitigation will prevent this problem from affecting the appearance and integrity of your home. You can find out more about our comprehensive water and mold restoration services in Wilmington when you click through our website, or take a look at our blog for additional tips to prevent damage to your home or take charge of disasters quickly to minimize their effects.

Signs of A/C Drain Line Problems

Your air conditioner removes humidity from the air inside your home during the cooling process. Thus, central air conditioners incorporate a drain line to funnel excess moisture away from the appliance, which runs from the evaporator unit inside your home to an exit point outside. Problems with this drain line can cause backups and mold growth to occur, affecting your home comfort or leading to water damage near your air conditioner. Thus, it’s important to recognize the signs of a drain line problem so you can act quickly to minimize the damage caused by this common issue.

 

Standing Water

Moisture is drawn out of your home’s air by the indoor evaporator unit of your central air conditioner. Problems with the unit’s drain line can cause water to back up, leading to standing water around your evaporator unit or your furnace. It’s a good idea to take a look at your HVAC system at least once a month; if you notice standing water, you should begin checking the unit daily to determine its cause. Because central HVAC systems are typically located in areas of the home where other leaks could occur, it’s important to determine whether the standing water is coming from your air conditioner or another source. Regardless of the cause, it’s important to address the source of the water and contact a professional for water cleanup services to prevent further damage to your home.

 

Water Damage

If your air conditioner’s drain line becomes damaged or completely clogged, it can leak inside your home or cause a backup in your air conditioner. A backed-up air conditioner may stop functioning, thanks to a water sensor that disables the unit when an overflow is detected. Furthermore, excessive backup of moisture can cause signs of water damage in your home, such as soggy floors, walls, or ceilings, a musty smell associated with mold growth, and visible water damage that includes buckling floors and walls or dark streaks on walls and ceilings. Signs of a leak should always be addressed quickly to prevent further damage to your home and belongings.

 

Full or Moldy Drip Pan

Air conditioning units typically have a drip pan or overflow pan in case a blockage occurs in the drain line or excessive moisture is generated during cooling. Just as it’s important to check your HVAC system periodically, it’s important to check this drip pan as well to see whether it’s consistently full. If your drip pan is always full, it could indicate a problem with drainage from your air conditioner. Furthermore, a consistently-full drip pan can easily harbor mold growth, especially in the hot, muggy conditions that occur during the cooling season. If you notice a musty odor in your home, check your air conditioner’s drip pan for mold. Visible mold or a moldy smell coming from the drip pan definitely indicate a problem that should be addressed before the mold can spread to other areas of your home and cause damage. If you discover a significant mold problem, professional mold mitigation is the best way to protect your home from further mold and mildew growth.

 

If you do experience an HVAC system leak, fast action can prevent water damage or mold growth from spreading. Our professionals can help with water cleanup and mold mitigation to restore your home and your air conditioner to like-new condition. We invite you to take a look through our website to find out more about our comprehensive disaster remediation services in Wilmington and Fayetteville, including fire restoration, water restoration, and insurance reconstruction.