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Lightning Safety Awareness

5/18/2018 (Permalink)

This blog is to raise awareness about the dangers of lightning and what individuals can do to stay safe.

The dangers of lightning are often not taken seriously. Just behind tornadoes and flooding in number of lives claimed annually, lightning is the #3 storm-related hazard, causing 51 deaths each year nationwide. Shockingly, there are an estimated 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes in the US each year, with an addition 500+ injuries reported annually. But since lightning doesn’t tend to cause mass destruction all at once like a tornado would, and only 0.002% of lightning strikes actually hit people directly, its danger is often unappreciated. But that doesn’t mean that lightning safety should not be taken seriously.

According to the NWS, if you can hear thunder, then you are close enough to be struck by lightning since lightning can, and occasionally does, strike away from the storm. The safest place to be during a lightning storm is indoors. There are no safe spots outdoors. Your best bet when outdoors if you can’t get inside is to get into a vehicle and close the windows.

If a person is struck by lightning, call 911 and get medical care immediately. Cardiac arrest and irregularities, burns, and nerve damage are common in cases where people are struck by lightning. However, with proper treatment, including CPR if necessary, most victims survive a lightning strike, although they may be left with serious and lasting effects. You are in no added danger when helping a lightning victim, and you may safely do so immediately. Lightning victims do not carry a charge.

How Powerful is Lightning?

A typical lightning flash is about 300 million Volts and about 30,000 Amps. In comparison, household current is 120 Volts and 15 Amps. There is enough energy in a typical flash of lightning to light a 100-watt incandescent light bulb for about three months or the equivalent compact fluorescent bulb for about a year.

How Hot is Lightning?

Technically, lightning is the movement of electrical charges and doesn’t have a temperature; however, resistance to the movement of these electrical charges causes the materials that the lightning is passing through to heat up.

If an object is a good conductor of electricity, it won’t heat up as much as a poor conductor. Air is a very poor conductor of electricity and gets extremely hot when lightning passes through it. In fact, lightning can heat the air it passes through to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit (5 times hotter than the surface of the sun).

When lightning strikes a tree, the heat vaporizes any water in its path possibly causing the tree to explode or a strip of bark to be blown off.

Myths & Facts

Myth: Lightning never strikes the same place twice.

Fact: Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if it’s a tall, pointy, isolated object. The Empire State Building is hit nearly 100 times a year.

Myth: If it’s not raining or there aren’t clouds overhead, you’re safe from lightning.

Fact: Lightning often strikes more than three miles from the center of the thunderstorm, far outside the rain or thunderstorm cloud. “Bolts from the blue” can strike 10-15 miles from the thunderstorm.

Myth: Rubber tires on a car protect you from lightning by insulating you from the ground.

Fact: Most cars are safe from lightning, but it is the metal roof and metal sides that protect you, NOT the rubber tires. Remember, convertibles, motorcycles, bicycles, open-shelled outdoor recreational vehicles and cars with fiberglass shells offer no protection from lightning. When lightning strikes a vehicle, it goes through the metal frame into the ground. Don’t lean on doors during a thunderstorm.

Myth: A lightning victim is electrified. If you touch them, you’ll be electrocuted.

Fact: The human body does not store electricity. It is perfectly safe to touch a lightning victim to give them first aid. This is the most chilling of lightning Myths. Imagine if someone died because people were afraid to give CPR!

Myth: If outside in a thunderstorm, you should seek shelter under a tree to stay dry.

Fact: Being underneath a tree is the second leading cause of lightning casualties. Better to get wet than fried!

Myth: If you are in a house, you are 100% safe from lightning.

Fact: A house is a safe place to be during a thunderstorm as long as you avoid anything that conducts electricity. This means staying off corded phones, electrical appliances, wires, TV cables, computers, plumbing, metal doors and windows. Windows are hazardous for two reasons: wind generated during a thunderstorm can blow objects into the window, breaking it and causing glass to shatter and second, in older homes, in rare instances, lightning can come in cracks in the sides of windows.

Myth: If thunderstorms threaten while you are outside playing a game, it is okay to finish it before seeking shelter.

Fact: Many lightning casualties occur because people do not seek shelter soon enough. No game is worth death or life-long injuries. Seek proper shelter immediately if you hear thunder. Adults are responsible for the safety of children.

Myth: Structures with metal, or metal on the body (jewelry, cell phones,Mp3 players, watches, etc), attract lightning.

Fact: Height, pointy shape, and isolation are the dominant factors controlling where a lightning bolt will strike. The presence of metal makes absolutely no difference on where lightning strikes. Mountains are made of stone but get struck by lightning many times a year. When lightning threatens, take proper protective action immediately by seeking a safe shelter – don’t waste time removing metal. While metal does not attract lightning, it does conduct it so stay away from metal fences, railing, bleachers, etc.

Myth: If trapped outside and lightning is about to strike, I should lie flat on the ground.

Fact: Lying flat increases your chance of being affected by potentially deadly ground current. If you are caught outside in a thunderstorm, you keep moving toward a safe shelter.

What is Heat Lightning?

The term “heat lightning” is commonly used to describe lightning from a distant thunderstorm just too far away to see the actual cloud-to-ground flash or to hear the accompanying thunder.

While many people incorrectly think that heat lightning is a specific type of lightning, it is simply the light produced by a distant thunderstorm.

Often, mountains, hills, trees or just the curvature of the earth prevent the observer from seeing the actual lightning flash. Instead, the faint flash seen by the observer is light being reflected off higher-level clouds. Also, the sound of thunder can only be heard for about 10 miles from a flash.

Conclusion

Although lightning storms don’t tend to spark the same panic as tornado warnings, it’s still a storm hazard that needs to be taken seriously and should be a part of your storm safety preparation. Take this Lightning Safety Awareness Week as an opportunity to learn about the threat of Lightning and how you can prepare yourself and your home when a storm comes through.

Flood Safety & Severe Weather Preparedness

5/10/2018 (Permalink)

Being in an industry that often deals with property damage as a result of severe weather and flooding, we wanted to take a moment to write about the topic and share some ways that you can prepare for severe weather. And while severe weather can occur any day of the year, we often see a spike in thunderstorms, tornadoes and flooding in the Spring.

Lightning

Lightning is unpredictable and dangerous.

While lightning fatalities have decreased over the past 30 years, it is still one of the top three storm-related killers in the United States.

Outdoors

*Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors.

*At the first sign of lightning or thunder, seek shelter.

*Do not resume outdoor activities for at least 30 minutes after last observed lightning or thunder.

*Avoid the following areas: water, high ground, large open areas, isolated trees, and all metal objects or electrical wires.

If Someone is Struck by Lightning

*Have someone dial 9-1-1 immediately.

*People struck by lightning carry NO electrical charge and can be safely attended to immediately.

*Give first aid. If breathing has stopped, begin rescue breathing. If the heart has stopped beating, a trained person should give CPR. If the person has a pulse and is breathing, look and care for other possible injuries.

*Stay with the victim until medical professionals arrive.

Thunderstorms

During a Thunderstorm

*If a thunderstorm is coming postpone or cancel outdoor activity.

*Do NOT go near tall trees or any other tall objects.

*Seek shelter inside a building or in a hardtop vehicle, but don’t touch any of the metal inside.

*Do NOT use the telephone. Stay away from other electronic devices, bare metal, and water.

*Do NOT go near downed power lines.

*Keep your eye on the sky and listen to weather reports on the radio or TV.

*If caught out in the middle of a large body of water, return to shore as soon as possible. Get off the water immediately.

*When caught in the middle of an open field: If walking with others stay a minimum of 10 feet apart, keep low and move quickly to seek shelter. If there is no shelter lay in a ditch or get to the lowest place around.

Tornadoes

Tornadoes are violent rotating cylinders of air that can reach speeds in excess of 300 mph, be more than a mile wide, and cover up to around 50 miles during their short path of destruction. Tornadoes can cause millions of dollars worth of damage and rip buildings off their foundations leaving only debris in their wake. They can appear suddenly and with little warning.

Tornado Watch: Conditions are right to have a tornado. Maintain a close look out for changes in the sky and stay tuned to local weather stations.

Tornado Warning: This means there is an actual tornado reported or radar indicates one could develop within a few minutes. Seek shelter quickly.

During a Tornado:

*Basements, inner rooms of a house, and storm sellars provide the best protection.

*Stay away from exterior walls, windows, and doors. Stay in the center of the room.

*If you are in your car do NOT try and outrun the tornado because it can switch direction and can cover lots of ground quickly.

*Get out of vehicle and go into a strong building if possible. If not, lie flat in a ditch or low area and cover your head.

*Do NOT go under overpasses, wind speeds actually increase under them and can suck you out!

*If you live in a mobile home, get out IMMEDIATELY. Take shelter in a building with a strong foundation.

*Listen to radio or watch TV so you can be alerted about your current situation.

Flooding

Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States. Floods can develop over the course of a few weeks or happen at a moments notice.

Flood Watches: Conditions to have a flood in your area are favorable.

Flood Warnings: A flood is occurring or is very likely to occur very soon.

During a Flood

*Get to higher ground.

*Evacuate your house if flooding is possible.

*Know your town and make sure you know alternate escape routes in case one is blocked.

*Take pets with you if you evacuate. However, many shelters usually do NOT allow pets inside due to sanitary conditions so plan accordingly.

*Do NOT try and drive through water. As little as 2 feet can cause most cars to float, and as little as a few inches of moving water can wash most cars away with the current.

*Do NOT try to cross moving water on foot. As little as a few inches can knock you off your feet.

*Watch TV or listen to the radio to find out what actions to take next.

Preparing for A Flood

*According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. In the past several years, about 60 percent of all declared disasters involved flooding.

*Develop a family emergency plan and put together a disaster preparedness kit

*Safeguard your possessions

*Create a personal flood file containing information about all your possessions and keep it in a secure place, such as a safe deposit box or waterproof container. This file should have:

*A copy of your insurance policies with your agent’s contact information

*A household inventory that includes written and visual documentation of all household items and valuables.

*Copies of all other important documents

Prepare your house

*If you have a sump pump, make sure it is working and has a battery operated backup system.

*Clean debris from gutters and downspouts

*Raise electrical components at least 12 inches from your home’s projected flood elevation

Get Prepared

People often think, “It will never happen to me.” And hopefully you are right. But the fact of the matter is that tornadoes, lightning, and floods are not too uncommon, especially during this time of year. You should always expect the unexpected.

Dealing With Mold in Crawlspace

5/7/2018 (Permalink)

Removing mold of any kind in any part of your home is not only expensive, it is a delicate process. But it surely won’t go away by itself. In fact, it will only grow worse with time, worsening the conditioning of your home.

While this is certainly a big problem to face, crawlspaces are often one of the most common places for mold of all types to develop. Due to the fact that moisture can accumulate in this small, unventilated area, it won’t take long before mold spores start feeding on your home’s building materials.

So mold remediation can be expensive if it’s not covered by insurance, but as long as it hasn’t infested the entire area, there are ways you can attack the problem. Here you will learn all of the following about mold in the crawlspace:

1.-Preventing Mold in the Crawlspace

2.-Identifying Mold in the Crawlspace

3.-How to Remove Mold in the Crawlspace

Preventing Mold in Crawlspace

Mold is able to grow almost anywhere in the home as long as there is a moisture and organic food source (AKA your building materials). But due to the lack of air circulation, high humidity levels allow the mold to prosper in the crawlspace.

So the best ways to keep mold out of the crawlspace is to limit the moisture. To limit the moisture in the crawlspace, check out the following:

1.-Ensure that there are no cracks in the foundation walls

2.-Ensure that gutters and downspouts are clear and guide water away from the foundation

3.- Make sure that there is adequate ventilation in the crawlspace. If not, consider installing open vents to make the area “breathable.”

4.-If the crawlspace is vented, insulate against the sub floor above. Make sure to use fasteners    or else it will just fall out over time. The vapor barrier part of the insulation should also be facing the sub floor.

5.-If there is insulation already installed, make sure that it is dry and not sagging. If it contains water damage, it will need to be replaced.

6.-Ensure that there is plastic sheeting that covers the bottom of the crawlspace, lining the foundation walls. Check the walls to make sure that there is no water standing between the plastic sheeting and foundation walls.

7.-Inspect the air ducts and plumbing work for leaks.

8.- Make sure that the dryer vent leads air outside and not to the crawlspace.

Stay Safe While Preventing Mold

These tips and tricks should guarantee to keep mold out of the crawlspace when followed correctly, but remember that your health and safety always come first.

If you haven’t been in the crawlspace of a home before, or don’t have any experience with mold, it’s best to call SERVPRO of McAllen to perform the inspection.

Identifying Mold in Crawlspace

1.-While mold really only needs moisture and an organic substance to grow, all of the conditions mentioned to grow create the perfect breeding grounds for the fungus to prosper:

2.-Moisture – caused by plumbing leaks, burst pipes, and humidity

3.-Warmth – this is why mold prospers in the spring and summer time

4.-Food – any type of organic material, such as drywall and insulation will promote mold growth

5.-Darkness – Mold loves to grow undisturbed in darker areas – but keep in mind that it cannot grow in UV light.

6.-Time – Mold growth can start in as little as 24 hours after water damage

How to remove mold from the crawlspace:

1.- Inspecting the Damage. Make sure to put on protective clothing, especially a face mask, before crawling under the property. Look closely at what you are dealing with; depending on how far it has spread, it can be a long or short cleanup process.

2.- Preparing for Mold Remediation. Before even thinking about tackling mold, make sure that there is proper ventilation so you won’t be inhaling mold spores of any kind. You will also want set up some flood lights as well as a plastic barrier.

3.- Applying the Mold-Removing Chemicals. There are a number of chemicals that can remove mold.

4.- Blasting Mold. For larger cases of mold, you will want to use a surface blaster. Homes that are usually vacant for long periods of time or are poorly ventilated will likely have this problem. When using a surface blaster, you will be removing the mold from a number of surfaces using high-pressure particles.

Removing Mold Professionally

Despite the cheapest way to remove mold, doing it yourself is not always the best idea. Mold remediation can be an extremely dangerous job.

To make matters worse, letting mold grow into an infestation will only result in extra time and money spent in remediation.

So often times it is best to work with a professional mold remediation specialist, such as SERVPRO of McAllen. Their specialists have years of experience in removing mold with professional products. They will locate all affected areas, assess the damage, contain the area, and effectively restore them to their original conditions.

SERVPRO of McAllen can also mitigate the property from water damage, which is often the case with many mold remediation projects. As soon as you notice the damage, be sure to give us a call right away.

Principles of Mold Remediation

5/1/2018 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation Principles of Mold Remediation Mold in a Mechanical room

Mold becomes a problem inside a home or business when there’s excessive humidity or moisture for an extended period of time. The problem can originate from sudden water damage, like a burst pipe or large spill that goes untreated, or from a chronic condition, such as a leaking roof or plumbing. Even high humidity or warm, moist air condensing on cool surfaces can trigger mold problems. It’s always best to have the mold evaluated and removed by a certified professional, as is SERVPRO of Mcallen.

Mold can grow almost anywhere in a home or business if conditions permit. If there is visible growth on painted wall surfaces, property owners should be concerned about what may be growing on the wall’s opposite side. The environment inside the walls of a house often differs drastically from the outside and could create a perfect haven for mold. If the wall remains wet for a prolonged period, it’s almost guaranteed that the mold growth on the back side will be worse than on the front. At that point, containing the work space and removing moldy materials, followed by cleaning of salvageable framing, are the best options.

Certified professionals have the training and experience to:

1.-Identify moisture sources

2.-Evaluate mold growth (visible or suspected)

3.-Contain damage to the smallest area possible

4.-Physically remove contamination

5.-Dry materials to ensure that mold will not return

Perform or recommend procedures for returning property to a preloss condition

The IICRC outlines five major principles of mold remediation.

Make sure safety and health precautions are taken by cleanup professionals and occupants. Mold-contaminated buildings can be associated with a number of health problems. Anyone involved in the mold remediation process must be protected from exposure through a combination of practices and controls.

A post-cleanup assessment by an independent environmental expert. An effective mold remediation cannot be developed without first determining the extent of the contamination to be removed. To ensure that remediation work is being properly performed, it is highly recommended that appropriate documentation of the remediation process be kept by project management

Control of mold before it spreads further. Eliminating mold at the source of contamination is essential. Once mold spores spread through the air, it will be much more difficult to capture.

Oversee the proper physical removal of the mold. The mold must be physically removed from the structure. Attempts to isolate mold or remove signs of mold on the surface are not adequate. Note that bleach alone cannot kill mold.

Ensure that moisture is controlled to limit future contamination or recontamination. Mold growth is virtually inevitable if moisture is not controlled. Moisture problems must be identified, located and corrected or controlled as soon as possible.

Application of these principles may involve multiple disciplines and professionals from a wide range of restoration and indoor environmental fields.

Kitchen Safety: How to Put Out a Grease Fire

4/23/2018 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Kitchen Safety: How to Put Out a Grease Fire Grease Fire

Cooking doesn't normally present a lot of danger. You might nick your finger while chopping vegetables or manage to burn a pan of roasting potatoes, but in terms of actual danger to ourselves or our homes, not so much. Except for grease fires.  Do you know what to do if your cooking oil catches fire?

A grease fire happens when your cooking oil becomes too hot. When heating, oils first start to boil, then they'll start smoking, and then they'll catch on fire. Most vegetable oils have a smoking point around 450°F, while animal fats like lard or goose fat will start smoking around 375°F.

The very best safety is prevention. Whenever you're heating oil for pan-frying or deep-fat frying, stay in the kitchen. Use a heavy pot with a lid and clip a thermometer to the side so you know the temperature of the oil.

Keep an eye on the oil as it's heating. If you see wisps of smoke or smell something acrid, immediately turn down the heat or remove the pot from the burner completely. The oil won't immediately catch fire once it starts smoking, but smoke is a danger sign that it's well on its way to getting there.

If the worst happens and your oil does catch on fire, do the following:

  • Turn the Heat Off - Don't try to move the pot. You might accidentally splash yourself or your kitchen with burning oil. And that would be bad.
  • Cover the Pot with a Metal Lid - Fire cannot exist in the absence of oxygen. With the lid on (and the heat off), the fire should quickly consume all the oxygen and put itself out. Use a metal lid since glass will shatter.
  • Pour on Baking Soda - Baking soda will extinguish grease fires, but only if they're small. It takes a lot of baking soda to do the job.
  • Spray the Pot with a Class B Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher - This is your last resort, as fire extinguishers will contaminate your kitchen. Still, it's better than the alternative if the fire is getting out of control.
  • Get Out and Call 911 - If the fire does break out of control, don't try to be a hero. Get out and find a phone to call 911.

Whatever you do, DO NOT do the following:

  • Do Not Use Water - Pouring water can cause the oil to splash and spread the fire. The vaporizing water can also carry grease particles in it, also spreading the fire.
  • Do Not Move the Pot or Carry It Outside - Throwing the pot outside might seem logical in the frenzy of the moment. But trying to move the pot might splash burning oil on you, your home, and anything outside.
  • Do Not Throw Any Other Baking Product On the Fire - Flour might look like baking soda, but it won't react the same. Only baking soda can help put out a grease fire.

Phew, now that we're clear on all of that, hopefully you'll never be in a situation where you have to actually use this advice.  But, if you do happen to go through such an event, feel free to call on the cleaning experts at SERVPRO of Mcallen.  Our highly trained and certified technicians will clean and deodorize your structure to preloss condition.  We will work diligently to make your fire event “Like it never even happened.”

Be safe, fellow cooks!

The Different Categories of Water

3/7/2018 (Permalink)

What is the Category of Water?

According to IICRC Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration (IICRC S500), there are three categories of water that cause damage in buildings. They are summarized as follows:

Category 1 Water (Clean Water)

Water that originated directly from a sanitary source and when exposed to it, either through the skin, inhaled or ingested, does not cause a great deal of harm to humans. Examples of Category 1 Water: broken water supply lines, melting ice or snow, falling rain water, and tub or sink overflows (no contaminates). Category 1 water may become progressively contaminated as it mixes with soils on or within floor coverings or building assemblies (walls, decking, subflooring). Time and temperature, which promote the growth and amplification of microorganisms in water can cause Category 1 water to degrade

Category 2 Water (Gray Water)

Defined as water with bacteria present, but no solid waste, carrying microorganisms and nutrients for microorganisms. Category 2 water does have the potential to cause discomfort or sickness if consumed or exposed to humans. Examples of Category 2 water: discharge from dishwashers or washing machines, toilet bowl overflows (urine, no feces), seepage due to hydrostatic pressure, and sump pump failures.

Category 3 Water (Black Water)

Contains pathogenic agents and is grossly unsanitary which includes raw sewage and other contaminated water sources, such as flooding from sea water, ground surface water and rising water from rivers or streams. Category 3 water is highly contaminated and could cause death or serious illness if consumed by humans.

It is important to understand that when you experience water damage, the longer you wait to begin dealing with the concern, the worse it can get. You should not allow the water to sit because the risk of bio-hazard increases. In short, in 2 to 3 days, category 1 water can turn into category 2 water and eventually category 3 water as other bacteria and pathogens begin to proliferate.

Dealing with the Damage

You must act immediately. Your first step is to call  SERVPRO of McAllen to assess the class of water and level of destruction. In the meantime, you should begin all possible mitigation efforts.

According to the IICRC:

Whether insured or not, it is important for property owners to document damage with photographs or video, and immediately begin loss mitigation procedures themselves; or hire a qualified contractor to do this on their behalf. It is totally inappropriate to put off mitigation while waiting for an insurance claims representative to arrive on the scene to evaluate the loss. By that time, in all probability sufficient time will have passed to grow and amplify microorganisms, which may not be covered by insurance. Loss mitigation is defined by insurance policies as “reasonable and prudent measures designed to preserve, protect and secure property from further damage,” including microbial growth and amplification.

Ultrasonic Cleaning 101

3/7/2018 (Permalink)

What are ultrasonic waves?

Ultrasonic cleaner waves are sound waves transmitted above 20,000 Hz (20 kHz or 20,000 cycles per second), or higher than the frequency detectable by humans. Sound waves are created by the vibration of an object, which causes the air molecules around it to vibrate. These vibrations cause our eardrums to vibrate, which the brain then interprets as sound. When the original vibration is very fast, so are the sound waves, and the pitch of the sound created is too high for the human ear to hear.

Ultrasonic cleaners work in a very similar way to a loud speaker, except the ultrasonic cleaner waves travel at a much higher frequency and through water instead of air. A high-frequency electronic generator that creates ultrasonic waves is connected to a diaphragm, a flat or cone-shaped structure similar to the visible cone-shaped portion of a loudspeaker. The generator vibrates the diaphragm at a specific high frequency, usually between 25 and 170 kHz, inside a specially designed water tank. The ultrasonic cleaner waves created cause the water molecules to vibrate rapidly, creating alternating waves of compression and expansion within the water. During the expansion phase, or rarefaction cycle, the liquid is torn apart, creating cavitation bubbles. These bubbles are where ultrasonic cleaning technology is born.

How does ultrasonic cleaner technology clean?

Cavitation bubbles are vacuum cavities as tiny as red blood cells, or about 8 thousandths of a millimeter across. They are so small that it would take 1,250 of them lined up in a row to reach 1 cm long.

Under pressure of continuous vibration, these bubbles stretch and compress at a fast rate. Once they reach a certain size, as determined by the frequency and strength of the sound waves produced, the bubbles lose structural integrity and collapse violently. When these implosions happen near a surface, the bubbles emit high-powered streams of plasma that travel at more than 500 miles per hour and collide with, agitate and remove even very tiny particles and substances from that surface.

In an ultrasonic cleaning machine, this happens millions of times per second, but because cavitation bubbles are so small the process is both highly effective and very gentle. Ultrasonic technology can be used to clean metals, plastics, glass, rubber and ceramics. It effectively removes a wide variety of contaminants, even if present only in trace amounts, including dust, dirt, rust, oil, grease, soot, mold, carbon deposits, polishing compounds, wax, pigments, lime scale, bacteria, algae, fungus, fingerprints and biological soil.

These contaminants typically are removed even if they are tightly adhered to or embedded onto solid surfaces, or if they are in remote cracks or tiny crevices of an object. For this reason, items usually do not need to be disassembled before being put safely in an ultrasonic cleaning unit.

Technology at your disposal

This technology is part of SERVPRO of Mcallen’s cleaning arsenal.  We have certified cleaning technicians that can tackle even the most contaminated fire-soot contents.  In the event that you go through a Fire Loss, call the experts at SERVPRO of Mcallen to bring your contents back to life and make it “Like it never even happened.”

COMMERCIAL PROPERTY MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST

11/22/2017 (Permalink)

It may be an old saying, but it holds true: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When it comes to the health of your commercial property, the savings from regular inspection and maintenance can climb into the tens of thousands of dollars.

While there are many things a property manager can do on his or her own, remember that like our own physical health, in some cases it is better to seek the advice of a professional. Here are some of the major systems and features of a commercial property you should inspect regularly:

Roof and Gutters

First, what type of roof do you have? Is your roof made of shingles, metal, membrane or other systems (such as a “green” or “living roof”)? Each type of roof has its own unique benefits and drawbacks. Check for:

Any noticeable gaps in coverage (between shingles or sheets), as well as any wind or hail damage. Any irregularity in the patterns of your roofing material should be inspected.

Look for any water that isn’t draining properly. Pooling water can lead to rot and rust.

Inspect all gaskets where vents, chimneys and HVAC connections enter the building. Some leaks are only hairline in size, but can allow gallons of water into your building.

Make sure your gutters clear of debris and hung at a proper angle so that water drains completely. If they aren’t operating properly, they can leave pools of water to stagnate, cause rot, or serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

A thorough roof inspection, external and internal to check for leaks, mold, or gaps, should be conducted at least once a year. The GSA has a great checklist for various roof types here and what to look for.

Landscaping

More than just pretty flowers, well-maintained landscaping adds actual value to your property, can reduce utility costs, and prevent erosion and foundation damage. Some things to look out for:

Sprinkler systems are notorious for blowing off a head (or getting struck by an errant lawnmower) and leaking water everywhere – or worse, getting clogged and not watering a large section of your grounds.

Inspect large trees for potentially weak branches that might need to be cut before they fall (on a tenant’s car or worse)!

Make sure all trees are pruned far enough from your roof to prevent any contact damage in the event of a storm or high winds.

While a good landscaping crew will alert you to such issues, it is good practice for you as a property manager to “walk the property” yourself each week.

Plumbing

No one wants to do it, but it has to be done.  Some items to inspect:

Toilets that might not be flushing as they should.

Sinks that are draining slower than usual.

Exterior pipes that seem corroded.

For a more thorough inspection of your property’s plumbing systems, a licensed plumbing inspector can perform a full battery of tests to give you an accurate snapshot of your property’s plumbing health.  Check out the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners to see if your plumber is state-certified.

Electrical

In 2016, an estimated 16,400 non-home structure fires reported to U.S. fire departments involved some type of electrical failure or malfunction as a factor contributing to ignition.  As with your building’s plumbing system, there are some basic things you can do as property manager:

Check for burnt-out bulbs

Look out for any exposed wires and have an electrician address them immediately.

Know the location of your fuse box and regularly inspect it for blown fuses, breakers that keep tripping, and the like.

For an in-depth inspection of your electrical system, a licensed electrician should be sought out for this area of your property maintenance.

Foundation

Every aspect of your commercial property counts on your foundation. Without it, you don’t have a property. A vigilant eye and simple inspection can go a long way toward protecting your foundation and catching a small problem before it becomes a larger one. Here are some things you can do:

Inspect the exterior of your property for visible cracks in the foundation itself.

Check for cracks between bricks, cracks along the mortar and separation between adjoining walls.

Inside, check for any windows and doors that aren’t working properly.

Look for cracks where walls and ceilings meet.

Note any irregularities in your flooring such as warping or sloping.

Any of these may indicate potential foundation issues.

SERVPRO of McAllen is always ready to Help with this inspection;Just contact us at www.SERVPROmcallen.com for the scheduling of your inspection.

HOW TO MITIGATE COMMERCIAL PROPERTY DISASTERS

11/21/2017 (Permalink)

There is no such thing as a disaster-proof property. Nor is there a perfect, all-encompassing disaster plan for Texas.  Our unique location puts us in the path of tornadoes, hurricanes or floods.

Still, a vigilant property manager can mitigate the impact of these unforeseen disasters with some careful preparation. Here are seven things you should do to be prepared for a disaster and its aftermath:

1) Have an Emergency Action Plan in Place

An effective plan will enable your tenants to vacate the property quickly and calmly, as well as gather at a safe distance from the building. Make sure your exits are clearly marked, unobstructed, and known to all. OSHA provides a great tool for developing an Emergency Action Plan for your property that encompasses virtually any scenario.

2) Know Your Tenants

Do you have tenants with special needs such as those who are visually, hearing, or mobility impaired? Are there small children (apartment complexes, daycares, etc.) that may require extra assistance/attention? What about those with respiratory issues? All of these conditions can impact how you implement your Emergency Action Plan.

3) Keep Your Contact Information Relevant

Make sure your employees and tenants provide you with the latest contact information. If someone is unaccounted for, being able to provide current and correct contact information will assist in any search. Also, make sure your insurance agent’s information is up-to-date, as well as your security personnel, the property owner. Make sure that everyone has your information as well.

4) Have an EAP for Your Data

Do you store sensitive documents on-site? If so, then keep originals and irreplaceable documents in fire-proof cabinets or safes.

How often do you move these to an off-site storage facility? If you aren’t using a cloud service, you should definitely look into an off-site storage location for tape and disk backups. Most banks offer a safety deposit box, which is a great place to store sensitive data. Go over your options with your IT professional.

5) Be Prepared for Insurance Claims

The easiest way to visualize and list assets on a commercial property is to film them. A simple walk-through with a high-definition camera – no need for Oscar-level cinematography here – pointing out large-ticket items like HVAC units, IT equipment, the condition of the roof, the foundation, doors and windows will make claims settlements that much easier in the event of a disaster.

Additionally, you’ll want to meet with your insurance agent to review your policy to make sure there haven’t been any changes to your coverage, or that your property is left exposed to a specific kind of disaster. FEMA provides a great PDF on property documentation here.

6) Consider The Aftermath

This is where things can get expensive. You’ve seen the roofers with ladders on their trucks canvassing your neighborhood after a storm. The same thing happens with commercial properties.

Be careful when employing a company to handle your repairs after a disaster. Ask if they are bonded and insured, as is the case with SERVPRO of McAllen, and make sure to consult your insurance provider as well — they may only work with a select group of service providers. Ask other questions like: What sort of warranties do they offer? How long have they been in business? What seems like a good deal now may cost you a fortune later.

With SERVPRO of McAllen, you can rest assured that all the above criteria are met.  No job is too small or too big in our point of view.  Our attention to detail and customer satisfaction are our main priority.

SERVPRO of McAllen has the ability to provide you with an Emergency Ready Plan (ERP) for your commercial property.  In it, we capture all the pertinent information you might need in the event the structure were to go through any type of loss (Water, Fire etc..)  You will have all the necessary instructions and information to start the mitigation portion for the loss.  And this will be provided in a printed binder and an App for access from anywhere.  This is a free service SERVPRO of McAllen can provide to you and hopefully provide peace of mind as well…

Benefits of a Clean Bathroom Exhaust Fan

11/17/2017 (Permalink)

Are you planning to have your home renovated? Your home should be the most comfortable and sophisticated place to live in. You don’t have to own expensive furniture or items to make it comfortable and cozy. The most important thing to consider is to make sure that no part of your house is being neglected.

We get so overwhelmed with shopping for items to design our house with modern, contemporary or classic style, though one important item to take note of is maintaining the bathroom, especially the bathroom exhaust fan.

How to Clean a Bathroom Exhaust Fan

How to attend to exhaust fan cleaning? Just take a few minutes checking the appearance of the fan and recall when it was that you last opened it and cleaned it. If it has been months, years, or even decades ago, find a way to have it cleaned right away.

How many times have you had your exhaust fan cleaned in your bathroom? If you haven’t had one scheduled yet for some time now, let me share with you the most important benefits of the clean bathroom fan:

Prevents Mold, Mildew and Other Types of Bacteria

Dirt, bacteria, mold, and mildew can easily appear in the bathroom. In the tub, sink, toilet, tiles, and shower, mold and mildew can easily spread even if we utilize the best cleaning liquid or soap. You might even notice that cleaning the bathroom takes a lot of your time and effort. And who are those who really like cleaning this part of the house? Having a clean and polished exhaust fan will help you a lot in this task.

A clean and good performing exhaust fan help prevent the mold and other types of bacteria. The air flows through it smoothly, and so the dirt and mildew or mold can’t survive. With this, cleaning the tub, sink, and tiles become shorter in time and less tedious.

Keeps the Air Clean and Fresh

Have you been spending too much on bathroom fresheners lately? While it’s not a bad idea to diffuse pure essential oils in your home or bathroom, having a good bathroom fan will provide a resource for clean-smelling air and reduce the chance of mold and mildew growing in your bathroom. But to have that refreshing air and atmosphere, make sure to have that exhaust fan cleaned as well regularly. This helps a lot in making sure that the air inside is good for your health. This is to avoid discussions also when other members of your house prefer a different freshener scent. With a natural, clean air, all would enjoy taking showers at any time of day or night.

Prevents Serious Renovation Expenses

Save a lot of money and time through regular maintenance of your house, especially in your bathroom. Schedule an exhaust fan cleaning with a licensed and professional technician. This would only cost less compared to thousands of dollars that may pile up when this part of the house gets neglected over time.