Preparing Your Home for Winter
In the event of any winter damage to your home this winter, do not hesitate to give us a call, we are here to help.
Whether this is your first winter in your new home or your fifteenth, there are some measures you should take to prepare your house for the next few months. While your personal plan may be to turn on the heat and hibernate through the winter, the snow, ice, and rain can still cause your home some serious issues inside and out.
The outside of the house is the number one hassle we think of in the winter, there is shoveling, plowing, and clearing off the cars. Unfortunately, snow can accumulate and cause a lot of direct damage to the house. Snow buildup can cause strain on the roof and should be removed as soon as it is safe. Ice can also accumulate on your gutters causing ice dams that are not only dangerous to your home but can also cause injury if it falls or is removed unsafely. Your gutters should be cleaned by removing leaves and other debris before the first storm of the season and if you do see ice building up you can clear them using a de-icing agent or a heated gutter cable to remove them without causing injury. Frequent temperature changes can also put cracks in your chimney which should be monitored throughout the winter so that repairs can be made as soon as the weather improves. Another outdoor situation to monitor is the surrounding trees; as snow and ice gather no tree limbs they can become weighed down and snap causing damage to the home or other surrounding structures. Trees should be pruned in the fall and cleared as needed during the winter to prevent any potential damage.
The cold can cause cracks in the caulk within the house causing drafts and affecting your heating bill. The wet conditions can also cause rotting along your door frames. This can lead to termites in the spring and even extensive damage that might result in you needing a new door frame. Be sure to check for any wood rot along the bottom of the door frame and fill in any damage with epoxy wood filler as needed. Frozen pipes are arguably the most prevalent issue with a few things that can be done to help prevent them. If you are looking for more specific prevention ideas for frozen pipes see our most recent blog here: https://loom.ly/uT2gKoA
The basement can also be a problem area and not just with your sump pump, though that is definitely a common element in basement focused water losses. When the heavy snow begins to melt it can seep into the basement or even cause the foundation to crack. With any signs of water in the basement be sure to check if your sump pump is working properly, and that the extension hose is draining. If the temps are below freezing remove the extension hose before a freeze causes a backup into your home. Ensure you have the proper yard drainage and repair any foundation cracks as needed throughout the winter.
These are just a few areas to keep an eye on as the temperatures drop and we close out the year. Hopefully, these tips will help prevent some water losses however they may not be completely foolproof. If you do notice any damage to your property this winter do not hesitate to give us a call, we are here to help.
Frozen Pipe Prevention
Frozen pipes are something that every homeowner worries about as the winter season approaches. Each year SERVPRO Team McCabe provides water damage restoration services to many homeowners who experience this issue. There are several steps that can be taken to help prevent pipes from freezing and bursting in your home.
Many people try to lower their heating bill while on vacation by turning the heat off while they are away. If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, and set it to a temperature no lower than 55° F. Your heating bill will still be lower than average, but it will also save you major cleanup costs after a pipe bursts in your home.
With the heat above 55 you can also keep the open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. The heat from your home will make it nearly impossible for them to freeze. This doesn't mean you have to keep your cabinets open all winter, you can do so if you're on vacation, or even a few hours a day while home can help.
You may also want to Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a pipe sleeve or installing UL-listed heat tape on exposed water pipes you can get from a local hardware store. Even a small amount of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that drop below freezing for a short period of time. It is also important to make sure that hose bibbs are turned off from the inside and opened on the outside to prevent damage to pipes.
When the weather is very cold outside, you can let the cold water drip from the faucet connected to the exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe even at a trickle helps prevent pipes from freezing. The constant movement of water prevents the pipes from freezing. This is something that should be done especially if you are out of your home for a few days and expect the weather to drop below freezing.
Keeping some of these tricks in mind can help prevent a major mess in your home during the winter season. Unfortunately, following these tactics does not guarantee you will not have an issue with your pipes. When disaster strikes, call SERVPRO Team McCabe.
Preparing Your Home for a Hurricane
We are currently nearing the end of another hurricane season. It is a very scary stressful time for people who live in high risk areas.
There are several safety tips to keep in mind in order to reduce the damage done to your home. Taking simple steps can potentially save you a lot of damage and money after the storm. Not to mention they will help keep you safe.
According to the CDC, the first step you should take is to clear your yard. Make sure there’s nothing that could blow around during the storm and cause additional damage to your property or others. Move bikes, lawn furniture, grills, propane tanks, and building material inside or under shelter. It is also a good idea to move your car into your garage if you have one. It clears the driveway for emergency crews if needed, making rescue efforts more quick. Doing so may also reduce any potential damage to your car.
Another tip to keep in mind is to cover up your windows and doors. Use storm shutters or nail pieces of plywood to the outside window frames to protect your windows. This can help keep you safe from pieces of shattered glass. This is extremely important if you are going to be stuck in your home during the storm. Getting medical attention during a hurricane is nearly impossible. Taking the extra step of covering up windows and doors can prevent serious injury.
The CDC also recommends that you turn your power off during a hurricane. If you see flooding, downed power lines, or you have to leave your home, switch your power off. This helps reduce the risk of having a power surge inside your home. It also makes the restoration process easier after the fact for the electric companies. Not to mention it reduces the risk of fires or electrical shock from downed power lines. Be sure to have properly charged flashlights for safety in the dark. Yet another suggestion is to fill water containers with potable water ahead of time. Taking these proactive steps in your home can help you recover much faster from a hurricane. It makes your home safer for you and your family and will lead to less damage from the storm.
Finally, be sure to have an emergency kit that contains items such as: hand cranked radios for communication and cell phone charging, a supply of batteries for other useful devices such as flashlights and a properly supplied medical kit.
The CDC has many more tips to help you weather the storm. Please visit CDC.gov for more information.
Halloween Decoration Safety
Halloween season is rapidly approaching. Many people have already started decorating for Halloween. Dried flowers, crepe paper, cornstalks, and decorative scarecrows may make your home look festive for fall, but these classic decorations can also pose a scary fire risk. As fun as it is to decorate your home it is important to keep in mind some safety tips to avoid a fire from starting in your home. The National Fire Protection Association says flammable decorations are the first things to ignite in 900 reported home fires each year; two of every five of these incidents start by a candle.
One of the most important things to consider is to keep your decorations away from open flames, lightbulbs, and heaters. This may seem simple but many people forget the risks of doing this and decorate in unsafe places. One of the most common is next to or above fireplaces. It is so easy for a stray ash to end up catching a decoration on fire. Even hanging your decorations near a lightbulb can be dangerous.
Another way to prevent fire is to check the quality of each item before you plug them in. Examining each set of lights for broken sockets, frayed wires or loose connections, and discard any damaged sets is the first step to take. Many people often try at home fixes such as tape on frayed wires. Any decoration with a frayed wire should be discarded or have a new wire installed if possible. Be careful not to overload sockets when plugging in lights and other electronic decorations. It is such an easy thing to avoid by unplugging objects that you are not using at any given time.
A big safety tip to keep in mind is to not use open flames such as candles inside your decorations. Consider glow sticks or battery-operated candles instead of real candles when lighting your jack-o’-lanterns or other luminaries. If you do choose to use real candles it is important to light it with a utility lighter. That way you can light it right over the wick and do not have a risk of hitting the side of the decoration with the flame. You also need to be mindful of where you are putting your decorations that have candles in them. Keep lit decorations off of doorsteps, yards, and sidewalks where excited trick-or-treaters may knock them over. Moving them off of your front door step or front walkway is an easy way to avoid injury.
The last thing to keep in mind is to make sure you do not have any decorations blocking any exits out of your home. If there is an emergency it is important to keep a clear path out. Halloween is a fun time of the year and it is important to have fun while decorating your home. Just make sure you follow these tips to help keep your home safe.
Fall Fire Safety
At the end of summer most people are worried about getting ready for the back to school season. What people don't think about is that this is a great time to get your home ready for the cooler months. During the winter months there are a lot of fire hazards in your home. According to the American Red Cross, there is a drastic increase in the amount of U.S house fires during this time. There are several strategies to take during the early part of the fall season to help prevent fires.
The most important thing to do is replace your smoke alarms batteries throughout the house. This is something that is very easy, yet most people forget to do it. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the risk of dying in a structure fire is 55% lower in a home with working smoke alarms. While changing the batteries, it is also a good idea to make sure your family knows where your fire extinguishers are. Having fire extinguishers in the house that still work is extremely important. Especially as you enter the cooler months where you heat up your house on a daily basis.
Another thing to keep in mind, especially with kids in the house is to create a fire evacuation plan. Having a plan and knowing of all the possible exits and escape routes is very beneficial ahead of time. According to the NFPA, creating a place to meet outside at a neighbor's house is an essential part of the plan. They recommend that you try out your plan at least two times per year. The more steps you take ahead of time the better as you will be prepared to act in the event of an emergency. Spending time with your family and creating a plan will pay off in the event of an emergency. SERVPRO Team McCabe offers an ERP plan which will help you plan ahead in the event of an emergency.
Getting your heating system serviced each year is also an essential fire safety step. This is especially important after the summer season. There is always extra debris left behind in the vents from all the hard work your unit does cooling the house over the summer. The most important step is replacing your furnace filter on a consistent basis. It is recommended to change it every three months. It is also important to reach out to a professional when your heating system is having issues. You should also be getting your unit serviced at least one time per year for general maintenance, according to the National Fire Protection Association. SERVPRO Team McCabe can help with this, we offer duct cleaning for commercial or residential properties.
Fireplace safety is another extremely important topic during this time of the year. When using a fireplace indoors you should always have the screen or glass door closed. It is also important to keep in mind not to store extra wood right next to the door of the fireplace. It is an easy way to spark a fire outside of the fireplace. One rule that many people often forget is leaving a fire unattended. Many people fall asleep or get distracted and leave the room while they have a fire going. This is one of the biggest causes of household fires due to fireplaces. Keeping these safety points in mind will help transition your house from the summer into the fall season in a safe way.
Dryer Vent Cleaning
If you were to ask most people what cleaning they should do to their dryer they would tell you, clean the lint trap. However, that is not enough what many people do not know is that you have to get your dryer vent cleaned as well. I'm sure you are asking, what's that? The dryer vent is the tube that runs from your dryer to outside and the vent part that it passes through. It helps you remove hot air and moisture from your laundry room.
Why does it need to be cleaned? Over time it can get filled up with dust and other debris from your washing machine. Debris and highly flammable lint can build up in your dryer vent, reducing airflow and backing up exhaust gasses. That mixed with the heat from the washing machine is a very dangerous combination. According to the National Fire Protection Agency, fire departments respond to around 15,970 home structural fires each year that involve clothes in dryers or washing machines. There is also a chance that gasses and carbon monoxide that should be released outside of the home through the dryer vent could get backed up into your home through a clogged vent. This is something that can be easily avoided by simply getting your vents cleaned.
How can I tell when it's time to get the vent cleaned? According to an article on the NCADA (National Air Duct Cleaning Association) website these are some signs you are ready for a cleaning.
- Clothes take longer to dry than usual
- The dryer is hot to the touch after a cycle
- Your laundry room is hot after a cycle
- The dryer emits a burning smell
- There’s inconsistent airflow from the exhaust vent
- Excess lint appears in the lint trap after each cycle
- You find debris in your yard outside of the dryer vent or can see it trapped in the vent itself
Getting your vents serviced will help you reduce your energy costs over time. It will also help your clothes dry faster and improve the life of your dryer. Clearing events allows extra heat to come through that leads to shorter drying times which will save you money. The NCADA also lists some proactive steps to take in addition to getting your vent cleaned to help reduce fire risk.
- Empty lint trap after every load
- Let your dryer cool off for 15-20 minutes between loads
- Replace your flexible vent pipe with a solid metal one
- Move the dryer close to an external wall
- Use liquid fabric softener instead of dryer sheets
- Regularly inspect the vent pipe from outside the house to see if there is debris
Should I try to clean my dryer vent myself? No, many people who attempt to do it themselves often do not get them cleaned properly. Most people fail to remove all of the debris that is in the vent. The recommendation by the NFPA is to get your dryer vents professionally cleaned once per year. Doing so will make your home a much safer place for you and your family. Even though you will spend money to get them cleaned, it will save you big on your energy bill each month. It is definitely worth the investment, call SERVPRO Team McCabe to schedule your cleaning today 215-536-7989.
Why Build Containment?
SERVPRO Team McCabe understands how important it is to return your home or business to preloss condition as quickly and smoothly as we are able to.
Containment is generally used to prevent the occurrence of additional damage to contents in the home that have been unaffected or only lightly affected. Once our crew arrives on site we scope the job and then begin work to either place containment or completely remove any content on the job site. Most content is packed out and moved off of the job site if it was heavily affected and needs cleaning. Our dedicated Content Crew will lead this process and advise on what can stay onsite and be contained. Containment plastic can be used to wrap specific items or to section off an area of the house by sealing off the doorways and vents. Another great use for containment plastic is to help create negative pressure by sectioning off an area and placing equipment inside the containment to aid in drying.
SERVPRO Team McCabe understands how important it is to return your home or business to preloss condition as quickly and smoothly as we are able to. An important part of this is to prevent any secondary damage to your contents that can be caused by a continuing leak, microbial growth, or even dust and debris caused by the remediation efforts.
Commercial Cleaning Services
Getting Back to Business, Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned
Our Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned defensive cleaning program gives your business a way forward to provide your employees and customers ongoing safety as you operate after the COVID-19 pandemic. As America’s #1 cleanup and restoration brand, we have developed a program that is grounded in our 3 C’s – Consult, Clean and Certify. Visit our Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned page and let us show you how we can make your building safer and ready to get back to business.
Commercial Building Restoration Services
We are available 24 hours a day to get your business back up and running. Our expertise includes restoration services for fire and water damage, including electronics restoration and document drying. We are also your business’s best resource for mold remediation. Learn more about our commercial restoration services.
SERVPRO Storm Response
A Fast Response Is Crucial
In many cleaning and restoration situations, immediate action is needed. With over 1,700 U.S. and Canadian Franchise locations, SERVPRO is strategically positioned to be faster to any size emergency.
An immediate response helps to minimize the damage and the cleaning and restoration costs.
Water is particularly invasive, quickly spreading throughout your property and being absorbed into floors, walls, furniture, etc. SERVPRO Franchise Professionals arrive quickly and start the water extraction process almost immediately.
Water Damage Timeline
- Water quickly spreads throughout your property, saturating everything in its path.
- Water is absorbed into walls, floors, upholstery, and belongings.
- Furniture finishes may bleed, causing permanent staining on carpets.
- Photographs, books, and other paper goods start to swell and warp.
Hours 1 - 24:
- Drywall begins to swell and break down.
- Metal surfaces begin to tarnish.
- Furniture begins to swell and crack.
- Dyes and inks from cloth and paper goods spread and stain.
- A musty odor appears.
48 Hours to 1 Week:
- Mold and mildew may grow and spread.
- Doors, windows, and studs swell and warp.
- Metal begins to rust and corrode.
- Furniture warps and shows signs of mold.
- Paint begins to blister.
- Wood flooring swells and warps.
- Serious biohazard contamination is possible.
More Than 1 Week:
- Restoration time and cost increase dramatically; replacing contaminated materials and structural rebuilding may be extensive.
- Structural safety, mold growth, and biohazard contaminants can cause health effects.
SERVPRO Equipment and Technology
The past few decades has seen a rapid advancement in the technology and techniques used in the restoration industry. These advancements allow SERVPRO Franchise Professionals to restore a property back to preloss condition quickly, reliably, and more effectively.
The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) sets practical standards for restoration and cleaning. The IICRC S500 Water Damage Guide is a specific set of practical standards that incorporate the field of psychometry, which involves the manipulation of temperature and relative humidity to remove moisture and dry a property quickly and effectively.
Moisture Detection and Measurement Equipment
Scientific drying principles rely upon specialized equipment to detect, measure, and monitor a property’s moisture levels. Recent advances, like infrared cameras, can help us detect water through a wall, ceiling, or floor.
- An infrared camera may be used to identify water location for thorough water removal.
- Sensitive moisture detectors, hygrometers, and other meters measure the extent of moisture saturation.
Water Extraction Equipment
Powerful extraction equipment speeds the drying process by removing the bulk of the water from your home or business.
- Submersible and gas-powered pumps for continuous pumping of high-level water.
- Truck-mounted and portable extraction units perform efficient water removal.
Industrial strength air movers and dehumidifiers are needed to remove the remaining moisture from ceiling, walls, and floors of your home or business. Proper drying helps to prevent swelling and warping of floors, walls, and furniture.
- High-speed air movers causes moisture to evaporate at a faster pace.
- Industrial grade dehumidifiers pull the water vapor from the air.
Odor Removal and Deodorization
Water and fire damage often causes powerful odors. The machines we use remove airborne contaminants and control the air quality during the restoration and cleanup process.
- Air scrubbers remove airborne particles and contaminants.
- Thermal foggers and deodorization agents control odors.
Sanitizing Agents, Germicides, and Anti-Microbial Treatments
The use of OSHA-approved cleaning agents may be needed to clean and remove odors and/or contaminants on your property.
- Cleaning agents help to stop the growth of bacteria, fungi, mildew, and other harmful microorganisms.