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Signs of a Water Leak Behind The Walls

8/25/2017 (Permalink)

There are many potential causes of water damage in your home.  Some sources of water damage, such as floods, burst pipes, and sewage backups, are obvious and homeowners notice them right away.  However, there are some sources of water damage that are much more difficult to detect such as water leaks behind walls.  Homeowners typically do not notice hidden leaks until they have already caused a considerable amount of damage.

Regardless of the source, it is crucial to react to water damage immediately.  The damage caused by excess water or moisture will continue to spread and get worse until the source of the water is repaired and the affected materials are dried and restored.  Hidden water leaks behind walls can be especially dangerous because the water will get absorbed into flooring, drywall, and ceilings, as well as wooden support beams and sheetrock.  If given enough time, a slow leak can result in very serious structural damage that will make the restoration process longer and more expensive.  Mold is also a very serious issue that results from extensive water damage.

While water leaks behind walls happen out of view, there are often several signs that can help you detect these water leaks.  The following are common signs of water leakage behind your walls.

Musty Odors

The flaking paint and damaged baseboard are signs of a hidden water leak.

Excess water or moisture can create a musty smell when it gets absorbed into building materials like sheetrock, wood or drywall.  Wall cavities affected by water damage are vulnerable to mold growth which also has a pungent musty odor.  If there is a strong musty smell near a certain area of your wall, there could be a water leak or mold growth behind it.

Mold on Walls and Baseboards

Mold growth normally appears in areas with excess moisture such as bathrooms, kitchens, and basements.  If mold appears on your walls, ceilings, or baseboards, it is very likely that there is a source of moisture behind the walls.

Visible Stains

Water from a leak within the walls will get absorbed in the drywall and sheetrock which will cause a noticeable stain.  If the stains on your wall continue to get bigger, this is usually a good indication that there is a hidden plumbing leak.

Paint or Wallpaper Peeling

Too much moisture behind the walls can eventually cause paint and wallpaper to start peeling.  This normally happens when the sheetrock behind the wall has absorbed too much water.  Check for separation in the wallpaper along the seams or flaking paint to help locate a hidden water leak.

Warping Walls

When the sheetrock behind a wall absorbs too much water, it will bend and curve which causes the wall to warp.  If there is warping on your walls, this is a clear indication of a water leak.

Stained or Buckled Ceilings and Floors

If the sheetrock has absorbed too much water or moisture, it can affect the connected ceilings and floors.  Check your floors and ceilings for signs of stains and buckling and if you notice a problem, check the nearby walls for signs of water damage.

Testing for Hidden Water Leaks

The signs discussed above are normally indicative of a hidden water leak, but it can be difficult to know for sure if you have a hidden leak from these signs alone.  If you find some of the signs of a hidden leak in your home and you want to know for sure, follow these tips to test for a hidden water leak by using your water meter.

Turn off all faucets in your home as well as appliances that use water.

Check the water meter and record the usage number.

Leave the water off for approximately 3 hours inside and outside the home.

Look at the water meter again to see the usage numbers.

If the water usage has gone up, then there is a hidden water leak.

What To do When You Find A Water Leak

A water leak behind a wall is an issue that requires immediate attention, and it is usually better left to SERVPRO.  Addressing a hidden water leak yourself involves removing the wet drywall or sheetrock and either drying out the affected materials, or replacing them.  You also must find and fix the source of the water which may be difficult to do.  By contacting SERVPRO of McAllen, you can trust that the job will be done effectively and that the technicians will handle all necessary repairs and mold removal.  Make sure to check your home regularly for signs of a hidden water leak so you can react before it causes serious damage.

Getting to the Root Cause of Mold in Schools

8/1/2017 (Permalink)

Commercial Getting to the Root Cause of Mold in Schools Mold remediation

Have you ever been driven crazy by a young child who keeps asking “Why?”  That kid may be onto something.  Developed by Sakichi Toyoda and used by automotive companies and other industries to improve safety, quality, productivity and cost, “5 Whys” is a tool used to identify the root cause (origin) of a problem.  Simply asking “Why?” at least five times can help you move past looking at symptoms of the problem and onto addressing the root cause of the issue.  For example:

  1. Why is there mold in this classroom? Mold grew where condensation formed on the ceiling.
  2. Why did condensation form on the ceiling? When chilled air entered the room through a diffuser in the ceiling, it came in contact with warm, moist air and condensation formed around the diffuser. 
  3. Why is there warm, moist air in the classroom? Humidity permeates the walls of the building during warm weather.  Since air conditioning was installed, the windows aren’t opened much anymore and some of the window seals are no longer tight.
  4. Why isn’t the moisture being removed by the air conditioning? The HVAC system is set not to run between midnight and 6 a.m. on weekdays, and it does not run on weekends.
  5. Why doesn’t the HVAC run during the evenings and on weekends? To reduce consumption of electricity.

Once you know the root cause, you’re in a better position to address the real issue.

Renovated Schools, Real Issues

Renovation can be a cost-effective way to get few more decades of use out of an old building.  Schools that are more than 50 years old were designed and built during a time when energy efficiency was less of a concern.  Since buildings from that era “breathed” more and classroom windows were opened and closed during the school day, moisture build-up and mold growth was less of an issue.   

When old schools are renovated, improving energy efficiency often involves the installation of vapor barriers and additional insulation, tightly sealed low-e windows, high efficiency HVAC and low energy consumption lighting.  Properly engineered, installed and operated, these upgrades can improve both the learning environment and operating budget.  Unfortunately, mold still occurs in renovated schools and the mold growth can often be traced back to one or more of these root causes:

  • moisture that gets trapped between the outer layer of the building and the vapor barrier
  • improperly set supply air that causes negative pressure and/or moisture issues
  • HVAC that operated in a manner which allows moisture to build up during times when the building is not occupied. 

Of these root causes, preventing moisture from permeating the building is likely to be beyond the scope of the immediate mold remediation project.  Adjustments to the HVAC system will probably be done by the Maintenance department or the HVAC contractor.  However, the principal or administrator of the school will probably appreciate knowing that running their HVAC at reduced levels during evenings and weekends will probably save them from having to call you back in for another mold job. 

Minimizing Collateral Damage

Because “concerned parents” tend to bring a lot more attention to situations than teachers and administrators want, consider the following when conducting your site assessment and preparing your project plan:

  • Be prepared to complete your work in one evening or over the weekend. Concerned parents will be alarmed if they see people in PPE at school.
  • When setting up containment, hang an additional poly film visual barrier outside of your transition zone. This visual barrier will give your team a place to stage equipment and supplies in the clear zone and keep curious eyes off your gear.
  • Remind the newer members of your team that we don’t discuss the work that we do with people who are not on the team.  It’s especially important to keep the details of school jobs confidential. 
  • The younger children are, the more sensitive they tend to be to environmental contaminants and to the chemicals that are used to remediate.  If the classroom or area is used by special needs students, recognize that this population has a higher rate of being immunocompromised and may have additional health considerations.  Cleaners and disinfectants that meet US EPA Safer Choice or Design for the Environment (DfE) requirements meet federal standards for low environmental impact and greener chemistries. 
  • Observe the level of cleanliness in the building before you start the project. Mold needs a food source and inadequate housekeeping tends to promote mold growth.  Some schools are kept very clean and others are not. This may be an opportunity for improvement that needs to be discussed with the administrator as part of the project conclusion.    

Hazardous Building Materials 101

8/1/2017 (Permalink)

Commercial Hazardous Building Materials 101 commercial remediation

It is important to identify hazardous building materials before beginning a restoration or remediation project. Hazardous building materials include asbestos, lead, mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), chlorofluorocarbons, and radioactive sources; they are found in buildings of any age or condition. The uncontrolled disturbance of such materials can result in dangerous over exposures for contractor employees, contamination of the building, project delays, additional expenses and even regulatory violations. Understanding the health, safety and environmental regulations that apply to the disturbance and disposal of these materials can help owners and contractors prepare for and successfully navigate potential issues.

It is important for any professional contractor, no matter the specialty, to recognize the primary hazardous building materials and understand applicable federal regulations. Remember, state and local agencies often adopt the federal regulations, but can also set specific, more stringent standards. Regulations at the local, state and federal levels should be identified before undertaking a building remodel, renovation, or demolition.

Asbestos

Although certain uses of asbestos have been banned, the U.S. continues to import raw asbestos for use in roofing materials, coatings and compounds, plastics and other applications. Other finished asbestos-containing products that continue to be imported include drywall, floor tiles, and similar building materials.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) asbestos regulations found under 40 CFR 61-National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) require an inspection regardless of the age of the structure before any renovation or demolition activities are undertaken. Certain asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) must be removed before any work begins. 

The EPA also requires notification 10 business days in advance of structural demolition, regardless of the presence of ACMs. If asbestos is present in the structure, the contractor or property owner submitting the notification must have documentation that an asbestos survey was conducted. If suspect ACMs are discovered, the work must stop until the materials can be sampled and analyzed for asbestos. Should ACMs be found, an abatement contractor must be hired and the 10-day notification submitted before abatement work can begin again. 

Local and state asbestos regulations are often more stringent than federal regulations, which may dictate the need for more thorough surveys and more complex abatement methods, both of which can lead to increased costs if not properly accounted for at the beginning of the project.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established permissible exposure limits (PELs) to protect employees in general industry and in construction. The regulations require initial exposure monitoring to evaluate representative eight-hour time weighted average (TWA) exposures and periodic monitoring where exposures may be expected to exceed the PEL. Specific control measures are required to prevent asbestos fibers from being released from the ACM during abatement. 

Federal regulations do not require surveys for other (non-asbestos) hazardous building materials, but the EPA regulates them as hazardous waste so they generally cannot be disposed in construction and demolition landfills (with the exception of lead-based paint in whole building demos). 

Although not regulated at the federal level, many hazardous building materials are regulated by local and state authorities. Pre-renovation / demolition surveys allow the building owner/contractor to anticipate costs to safely remove, segregate, and dispose of hazardous building materials and comply with specific local and state regulations for the materials. Safe removal may require specialty contractors with appropriate training, personal protective equipment, and exposure monitoring capabilities.

Lead

Lead-based coatings are common in older buildings. In addition to paints and varnishes, lead-containing building materials can include window glazing putty; batteries for lighting, exit signs, and security systems; solders and pipes; mortar; acoustic materials; flashing; plastic coloring (wiring and blinds); and ceramic glazes.

While the EPA defines lead-based paint (LBP), it does not require an inspection for lead-containing materials. It does, however, recognize that common renovation activities like sanding, cutting and demolition can disturb LBP and create hazardous lead dust and chips which can be harmful to adults and children. To protect against this risk, the EPA issued the lead-safe practices rule aimed at preventing lead poisoning. The rule requires contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, childcare facilities, and schools built before 1978 to be certified and follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination. 

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulates LBP in target housing that is federally owned and target housing receiving federal assistance. Requirements vary with the age of the structure and type of HUD assistance.

OSHA does not define a specific hazardous level of lead in paint: any concentration of lead triggers some portion of the standard. OSHA’s construction standard requires specific respiratory protection based on how the lead-containing material will be disturbed. Initial exposure monitoring is required to evaluate representative eight-hour TWA exposures.

Mercury

Mercury is used in many types of equipment and devices including batteries (smoke detectors, emergency lighting systems, elevator control panels, etc.); lighting (fluorescent and high intensity discharge lamps and “silent” wall switches); heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems (thermostats, fire stats, manometers, thermometers); and switches (sump pumps, pneumatic controls).

The EPA regulates mercury as a hazardous waste. A spill of just one pound of mercury (a little more than one fluid ounce) triggers a federal reporting requirement. Mercury spills are difficult to clean up, making it easier to identify and remove mercury-containing building materials prior to demolition and renovation activities.

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

PCBs are mixtures of synthetic organic chemicals that are non-flammable, chemically stable and have high boiling points and good chemical insulating properties. They were used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications including electrical, heat transfer, and hydraulic equipment; as plasticizers in paint, plastics and rubber products; and in pigments, dyes and carbonless copy paper. The EPA banned certain uses (i.e., plasticizers, adhesives, paints and waterproofing) in 1973 and banned U.S. PCB production in 1979; however, PCBs may still be present in older transformers, capacitors, and light ballasts.

Recently, the EPA learned that caulk containing PCBs was used in buildings in the 1950s through the 1970s. Based on construction dates of schools and commercial buildings, as many as 60 percent are estimated to have caulk containing PCBs. PCBs may be found throughout building structures including windows, doors, vents, walls and possibly school sidewalks. PCBs may leach and contaminate indoor air, masonry and other building materials they contact.
The EPA considers PCBs hazardous waste and requires proper disposal.

Chlorofluorocarbons and Radioactive Sources

Chlorofluorocarbons and other ozone-depleting substances used in stationary refrigeration and air-conditioning systems must be recovered by technicians certified according to EPA regulations. Additionally, smoke detectors and some exit signs contain radioactive sources. Disposal of radioactive sources in these items is regulated by local and state governmental authorities.

Proactivity Pays

Regardless of which hazardous material(s) encountered on a project, dealing with them proactively is the best way to ensure a restoration project proceeds smoothly, avoiding unexpected costs, budget delays, health and environmental hazards, or regulatory violations. Such measures include:

  • Identify locations of hazardous materials in the building. Suspect ACM and LBP must be sampled and analyzed to confirm their presence, while other materials can be visually identified and quantified.
  • Evaluate the material’s condition and understand factors that may affect condition and potential exposure.
  • Determine what local, state and federal regulations apply to the project.
  • Remove any known damaged or suspected hazardous building materials.
  • Prepare, implement and maintain an operations and maintenance (O&M) plan to manage hazardous building materials that remain in the building.
  • Notify building occupants and maintenance and custodial staff of the location of hazardous building materials and how to avoid disturbing or damaging them.

Every renovation or remodel has its challenges, but by being aware of potential hazardous materials, their likely locations, and the regulations governing their remediation, you can communicate effectively with all project stakeholders to minimize risk and maximize safety for everyone involved.

IS IT REALLY NECESSARY TO CLEAN A COMMERCIAL BUILDING'S AIR DUCTS?

7/25/2017 (Permalink)

With everything that's involved in the maintenance of a commercial building, cleaning an air duct system that's not showing any obvious problems can seem like an unnecessary expenditure of time and money. While air duct cleaning isn't a job you need to do every year, it's not something you can afford to ignore entirely.

Why Air Ducts Need Cleaning

Poor indoor air quality, inefficient air filtration, and duct leaks can all result in dust entering the duct system. This dust can accumulate to the point that it starts to break off and re-enter your air. When this happens, you may notice your workspaces become dusty faster.

High humidity in the building or water leaking into the ducts provides the moisture needed for mold to develop. Mold in the ducts releases tiny spores that will end up circulating through your whole building. In addition to aggravating allergies and asthma, exposure to mold spores increases risk of upper respiratory infection.

Pest infestations are another reason to have your ducts cleaned. It's not uncommon for mice, squirrels, bees, and other pests to find their way into a duct system. Once inside, they leave behind nesting material, hair, and dead insects. Particles of these are then blown out into your rooms.

If the air quality in your building is high and you use high-efficiency HVAC air filters, your ducts could stay clean for years. Even in the ideal situation, though, there's always a chance of unexpected issues. At least once every three or four years, have your duct system professionally inspected to check if it's due for a cleaning.

How Air Duct Cleaning Benefits You

Keeping your building's ducts clean protects the heating and cooling system, and the health of the building occupants.

Improved indoor air quality — When your ducts are clean, you'll have less dust, mold spores, pollen, and pest debris floating in your air. While air duct cleaning hasn't been proven to improve any health condition, cleaner air can help those with allergies and asthma.

Greater HVAC system efficiency — Debris in the ducts impairs airflow through your system, so the fan motor has to work harder to distribute conditioned air to your rooms. With the ducts clean, the air will flow freely and the motor will consume less energy moving it. Clean ducts deposit less dust on your air conditioner's evaporator coil. Even a millimeter of dust on the coil reduces its efficiency, so clean ducts really pay off in summer.

Longer HVAC component lifespan — Dust and debris blowing through your ducts can find its way into your system's fan motor and other components and cause excess wear. Keeping the ducts clean prevents this wear, helping the components last longer.

Professional Duct Cleaning Makes the Difference

Duct cleaning isn't a job to leave up to a regular building maintenance crew armed with a few vacuums. Attempting to clean the ducts without the right tools can worsen your indoor air quality because the debris dislodged will end up floating away into your rooms. You're also likely to miss a lot of the debris.

A professional will bring in equipment specially designed to thoroughly clean the ducts without contaminating your air. A powerful truck-mounted vacuum with an attached hose is commonly used for smaller buildings. For large buildings, portable equipment is often a better choice because it allows the crew to more effectively access all parts of the building's extensive duct system.

FINDING THE RIGHT HEAT/HUMIDITY BALANCE IN YOUR FACILITY

7/25/2017 (Permalink)

Indoor comfort during the winter months is not simply a matter of supplying heat to your commercial facility. It also requires maintaining an indoor humidity level that keeps occupants comfortable while also striking a balance between too much and too little humidity. Here are some factors to keep in mind while working to establish the indoor humidity level that will work best for your needs.

What is Humidity?

Humidity is the amount of moisture or water vapor contained in the air. Relative humidity, which is an important component of indoor comfort, is the percentage of moisture in the air relative to the amount of moisture it would take to completely saturate the air. Overall humidity levels tend to be higher in the summer and lower in the winter. This means that it is often necessary to remove humidity from your indoor environment during the summer months and add humidity during the winter heating season.

Effects of Humidity

Humidity levels too low: When indoor humidity levels are too low, occupants of your facility can experience several types of physical discomforts. Low humidity causes moisture to leave the skin, creating a cooling effect similar to that you experience when you perspire. In the winter, this makes individuals feel cooler than they should based on the temperature of the room. Low humidity can also produce dry, itchy skin; irritated eyes, noses, and throats; and respiratory problems. When indoor humidity is low, there is a greater chance of static electricity being produced, making those startling electric shocks more common.

Humidity levels too high: If your facility's humidity levels are too high, even in winter, it can produce overall feelings of sluggishness and illness. The additional moisture in the air creates a perfect environment for the growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria. Many types of insects also thrive in a high-humidity area. High humidity can also damage electronics, papers, books, paneling, and furniture.

Controlling Humidity

An indoor relative humidity level of 35 to 50 percent is a good baseline range to strive for inside your commercial facility. Adjustments within this range, or even the need to maintain humidity levels outside of it, will depend largely on the comfort level of the individuals occupying the facility. If you need to increase or decrease humidity inside the building, there are two common and effective options.

Increasing indoor humidity: Humidifiers allow you to add humidity to your indoor environment, either in a small area or throughout the facility. Room-level humidifiers are designed to work in a single room or similar area, while whole-building humidifiers function at a larger scale to add humidity everywhere in the building. They work by adding moisture to the air, usually in the form of water vapor. Room-level humidifiers spray this vapor directly into the air. They have a tank that must be refilled with water regularly. Whole-building humidifiers are installed within your HVAC system's airflow. The airflow from your heating or cooling system is diverted into the humidifier. Moisture is added via water vapor.

The moistened air then leaves the humidifier and continues on its regular path through your HVAC system and into your facility. These types of humidifiers are usually connected directly to your building's water supply.

Decreasing indoor humidity: Dehumidifiers are devices designed to remove moisture from your indoor air, reducing humidity levels. As with humidifiers, you can find dehumidification equipment that works at either the room level or at the whole-building level. Moisture is removed from the air moving through these devices and the drier air is sent along its normal route to the inside of your building.

Mold Plays Big Role in Home Water Restoration

7/24/2017 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation Mold Plays Big Role in Home Water Restoration Mold growth

There is one character that is in the news nearly every single day— and it’s not who you might think. It’s Mr. Mold. He may have been in hiding for much of the past 100 years, but suddenly, he is a celebrity. He’s the reason the school was condemned. He’s the reason your neighbor couldn’t sell his home. He’s the Sneaky Pete who is making your nephew sick.

There are several fundamental reasons why mold awareness has skyrocketed, including mold-related ailments and contemporary home design and construction.

 Why has Mr. Mold gotten so popular? At SERVPRO of McAllen, we deal with mold issues every day. We’ve seen the field develop, and awareness increase over the past 15-20 years. There are basically three reasons why mold has become a public health issue:

  • Contemporary houses are built to conserve energy, so less fresh air is allowed to circulate inside the home.
  • Illnesses such as asthma and allergies have risen sharply, and some of these are caused or worsened by mold.
  • Housing construction now uses organic materials such as plywood and laminates instead of tile, stone or concrete. Any organic material can harbor mold, which feeds on it.

As the EPA points out, mold can grow in drywall, ceiling tiles, ductwork, roofing, paneling, wallpaper, inside a wall, carpets, under sinks . . . . Any space that has gotten wet is a prime breeding ground for mold.

Our clients’ first clue that they have mold may be a home inspection, or when someone in the home develops a chronic cough or infection. Or a visitor may comment on the ‘musty’ odor. This stealthy invasion by Sneaky Pete is especially likely if the homeowner has experienced a flood or has had a leaking pipe that wasn’t fixed promptly.

Mold is invasive. It is persistent and tough. Its presence increases the longer it is left untreated. We have seen basement walls that looked as though someone had painted a floral motif over the entire surface. It was alive with colorful and bizarre ‘flowers’ that were in reality, mold.

Before you ever get to this point, call the experts. Don’t waste your time with home remedies. They often don’t work, and then the problem worsens

At SERVPRO , we are mold specialists. If you have mold in your home, the EPA strongly suggests you hire a professional contractor. Without remediation, mold spores can go dormant until the next wave of moisture revives them. The old wives’ remedy of pouring chlorine bleach on mold turns out not to be effective in the long run. Especially for mold that is growing on carpets or other multi-dimensional surfaces, this type of treatment does not address the problem in its entirety.

If you have a mold problem or if you’ve had water damage and you believe Sneaky Pete might be lodging in your home, Call SERVPRO of McAllen at 956-631-0348.

Removing Mold in your Home or Business

7/24/2017 (Permalink)

When first spotting mold in your place of residence or business, removing this should be at the very top of your list. Mold can be a danger to the health of you, your family, or employees. When your health is at risk, you need to make sure that you get this handled as soon as possible.

To make sure that you fully remove mold, you should call a restoration company such as SERVPRO. With mold removal, you need to make sure that you identify mold, and make sure that you get rid of both small and big infestations as they both can be extremely dangerous.

The Overview of Mold and Mold Removal

Mold is a big deal. And its removal is key. It can be spotted in a variety of ways. Sometimes it discolors your ceiling or walls, sometimes it shows up as black spots on areas throughout the home, sometimes it rots on damp wood.

When mold is present, health effects include allergic reactions, sneezing, watery eyes, runny noses, and much more. On top of the health issues, it can leave an odor in your home – primarily a musty, unpleasant smell throughout your home.

When you spot mold in your home, it isn’t the end of the world, as the problem can be handled, and you can continue enjoying your home —- like you should be doing.

At times, it can simply be removed by using household cleaning products especially when you catch them early – before they spread. But you must be extremely careful when engaging in the process of mold removal.

Identifying Mold Before Removal

Mold is extremely dangerous – it’s a fungus that grows from tiny spores, and they float all through the air. It can grow anywhere that spores land, has moisture present, and a temperature between 40 and 100 degrees. This is almost every place inside of your home or business, especially when you have some sort of water damage.

This is why identifying and correcting water damage problems should be at the very top of your list, as soon as they happen. Visible types of mold are called mildew. To make sure spots are “mildew” and not “dirt,” you can simply sprinkle a few drops of bleach on the area. If the spot lightens a few shades after a couple of minutes, this is indeed: mildew (a form of mold). If it remains the exact dark shade, more than likely, it is dirt.

High concentrations of mold definitely cause an unpleasant smell. If you smell mold, you should immediately check for mold in damp carpets, damp walls, or wet wood underneath you floors.

Mold Removal: Home or Business

Following the protocol of the state of Texas, an area larger than 25 sq. Ft. Affected by mold has to be remedied by a mold contractor certified by the state, and has as a priority to safeguard the health of the habitants of the structure.

The protocol can change according to the situation, but the most common is to separate the affected areas from the area without mold. In this process, plastic barriers are installed and an air filtration system (HEPA) is set up, proceeding with the removal of materials Affected, cleaning and sealing of non-affected materials.

It is worth mentioning that the Technicians must use at all times the required PPE, all the removed materials have to be properly bagged to avoid cross-contamination.

Time Duration of Smoke & Fire Damage

7/24/2017 (Permalink)

Restoration professionals will agree that the longer it takes for the neutralization and cleaning processes to start, the higher the risks for more potential damage and restoration costs. Prolonging the restoration of your home will amplify the effects brought on by the smoke exposure. Here is a timeline of the effects of fire and smoke on a home.

Within minutes – Acid soot residues cause plastics to yellow. Small appliances located close to the source of combustion and highly porous materials (marble, alabaster) will discolor permanently.

Within hours – Acid residues stain grout in bathrooms. Fiberglass bath fixtures, uncoated metals, counter tops, finishes on appliances, and furniture finishes will discolor and tarnish.

Within days – Acid residues cause painted walls to yellow permanently. Metals will corrode and rust; wood furniture and vinyl flooring will require refinishing or replacement. Clothing becomes soot stained and upholstery stains permanently.

Within weeks – Restoration costs will increase dramatically. Synthetic carpet fibers may yellow or discolor permanently. Silver plate is corroded permanently; glass, crystal, china may require replacement due to severe etching and pitting caused by prolonged exposure to acid soot residues.

How Fire Smoke Can Affect Your Health

7/24/2017 (Permalink)

Smoke is a complex mixture of gases and fine particles when wood and other organic matter burn. The biggest health threat from smoke comes from fine particles. They can get into your eyes and respiratory system, causing such health problems like burning eyes, runny nose, and illnesses such as bronchitis. These particles can aggravate chronic heart and lung diseases, and are linked to premature deaths in people with these conditions.

Some people are more susceptible than others. If you have heart or lung disease, you may experience health effects earlier and at lower smoke levels than healthy people. Older adults are more likely to be affected by smoke and children are more susceptible to smoke for several reasons: their respiratory systems are still developing and they breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults.

Smoke can irritate the eyes and airways, causing coughing, a scratchy throat, irritated sinuses, headaches, stinging eyes and more! With a heart or lung disease, smoke will make your symptoms much worse. Heart disease patients can experience chest pain, palpitations, or fatigue. Lung disease patients may not be able to breathe as deeply or as usual, and they may experience symptoms such as coughing, phlegm, chest discomfort, and wheezing. When smoke levels are high enough, everyone (healthy or non-healthy) can experience some of these symptoms.

At SERVPRO of Mcallen we are trained and certified by IICRC to mitigate and clean structures affected by fire or smoke, to request an inspection call us at 956-631-0348 or go to www.SERVPROmcallen.com

Will Your Homeowner Insurance Cover Water Damage?

7/20/2017 (Permalink)

Most people learn a great deal about their homeowner’s insurance policy after there’s been an event— which is not the ideal time to have a crash course in coverage. We see quite a few policies and situations. Although the details vary from one state to another and from one policy to another, we can share some general guidelines.

If you live in a flood-prone area— not just near a waterway or the ocean, but in an area that’s frequently hit by major storms— you should get flood insurance. Most insurance policies don’t cover floods, which are the most common natural disaster in the nation. Between 2008 and 2012, the average flood claim was $42,000-plus. Not something you want to pay out of pocket!

Water Damage v. Flood: What’s the Difference?

Water damage, as covered in the homeowner’s policy includes ‘instances of water hitting your home before touching the outside ground’. (No, we’re not making this up.) Damage from a leaky roof or broken pipe are insured. So too is mold that results from those accidents. But mold resulting from a flood won’t be covered unless you have separate flood insurance.

It’s important to note that it is the damage to your home that’s insured, not the actual item that failed. So if a busted pipe was the source of the problem, the ruined carpet will be covered but not the broken pipe.

FEMA estimates that just six inches of water can cause $20,000 in damage.

After the hurricanes of the past decade, the government started tracking storm damage. This website not only shows you scary videos of hurricane damage and houses surrounded by water, but offers assistance in finding low-cost policies. Check it out: https://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/.

Here are some things flood insurance generally does cover:

some things flood insurance generally covers| United Water Restoration Team

  • Building & foundation
  • Electrical & plumbing
  • Permanently installed carpet, paneling & furniture
  • Removal of debris
  • Built-in appliances

Homeowners do have some protection. And remember, you are not required to accept the lowest bid on restoration work. Repair rates should reflect the prevailing charges in your area for quality work. It’s easy enough to find a fully licensed and insured firm to take charge of the clean-up work. Just call us!

While the first day or so after a catastrophic flood may seem like Armageddon, make sure you take the necessary steps to prevent further damage. We can help you identify what needs to be done. Also ask about time requirements. Most policies stipulate that preventive measures and restoration work be done within a certain time frame.