Recent Commercial Posts
Changes in Office Space Procedures & Cleaning Practices due to COVID-19
As states are beginning to reopen and lift some of the restrictions set in place for the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are assessing how and when they’re going to reopen. Many are tasked with not only navigating the guidelines set forth by their state but are also working to establish an entirely new way of doing business. Regardless of industry, every business in America has had to make difficult but necessary decisions to develop a strategic plan of action for reopening.
For some, it’s allowing employees to continue to work from home for the remainder of the year. For others, it’s implementing a phased approach of reintroducing both employees and customers to their business environment. For all, a plan that involves a high standard of cleanliness and sanitation is of the utmost importance. Transparency and clear communication of reopening plans, both internally and externally, is proving to be critical for success and support during these trying times.
SERVPRO recently surveyed business owners and upper-level managers who work for organizations with 500+ employees. The questions covered how they are keeping their work environment clean and their employees and customers safe. The responses are illustrated in the included graphic here.
It’s clear that most businesses are listening to the CDC guidelines and recommendations and placing a higher emphasis on cleanliness and sanitation—for not only their employees to feel safe, but for the safety of their customers as well. These actions and higher standards are becoming the new norm in nearly every industry worldwide and will pave the way for the future of hygienic standards in business overall.
Commercial Mold Damage Tips
If your commercial building recently experienced water damages, you're probably unsure of the next step. Not only are you worried about property damage from the water, but you also have to worry about mold in your business. Mold can affect indoor air quality, can cause significant property damage, and can cause a foul smell that even the best deodorization techniques can't get rid of! Follow these tips if you're dealing with residential or commercial mold.
- Get Rid of Moisture - This is the very first step! Before the mold can be properly addressed, as much moisture as possible needs to be removed. If there is standing water, it can be dangerous to walk into your home or commercial property, so please make sure you can safely enter the building or structure.
- Protect Yourself - You just never really know what can be floating around in standing water that can hurt you. For example, electrical wiring. You don't want to endure an electrical shock. Once you know you can safely enter, protect yourself by wearing protective clothing, such as gloves and a face mask.
- Hire a Professional - The best thing you can do is leave it to the experts. Rely on a team of professionals to help get your home or business back in tip-top shape. Experts can come in and assess the true extent of the damage and help ensure all of the molds are properly remediated. We promise it could save you a lot of time, money, and headaches in the future.
SERVPRO of McAllen is ready to help you ensure your commercial property is cleaned and ready to support your business. Give our team a call at 956.631.0348
Commercial Cleanings in the Time of Covid-19
Thousands of restaurants, retailers, and offices have remained shuttered for over two months to combat the spread of COVID-19. Reopening your business safely is critical from both a health and financial standpoint moving forward into this “new normal”. Staying ahead of the curve requires business leaders to be proactive; instituting new protocols of how employees interact with customers and most importantly assuring patrons that they’re not at increase risk of contracting coronavirus in your establishments.
Before opening cleanings and late-night disinfecting is a great deal to ask from your workforce especially as they adapt to the guidelines set by the CDC. Leading your business includes protecting the health of your employees and of your customers choosing to patronize your business with the continuing threat of coronavirus. Therefore, it’s your responsibility for the necessary actions to protect their health and safety. Your local SERVPRO of McAllen has partnered with multiple businesses and organizations in the last two months as they’ve taken proactive steps to safeguard the health of their employees.
Along with SERVPRO’s experience, we’re equipped with the equipment to efficiently execute your pre-cleaning or post-cleaning to grant you and your staff peace of mind during these uncertain times.
If your home or business is in need of our services whether for fire, water, or mold damage; perhaps even deep cleaning services, call the experts today – SERVPRO of McAllen, (956) 631-0348.
Protecting Your Business During The Upcoming Winter Season
Winter Season is on its way to the RGV
Often times when discussing property damage, people often refer to their homes which makes sense since the home is where the heart is”. Nevertheless, if you own a property for business purposes whether it be an office, retail shop, restaurant, etc. It’s important to be concerned with that financial investment as well as being that the weather doesn’t pick and choose which buildings to impact.
With the winter season upon us, many business owners will close for a week, or two to spend time with loved ones and honestly, probably take a break from running a business. Being away from the office though for a substantial amount of time may result in unattended consequences one you and your staff return after the holiday. If Snow and ice storms occur it can render your property inaccessible leading to you being unable to evaluate any damage until local municipalities clear the roads. Water damage may happen from the interior as well as pipes may burst due to freezing temperatures and lack of water flow.
Being aware of these possibilities is the responsibility of any business owner and taking a few simple steps may help reduce the likelihood of the situations happening as stated above.
- Plan for the possibility of a weather event cutting off your access to your property. Are there any other routes to gain access to your property and see if there are any of your staff members that live near your property to check on it regularly during the holiday break
- It may be best to leave a faucet slightly turned on in order to keep water flowing through your pipes in order to prevent the possibility of your pipes bursting.
Protect Your Business With Our Help
Your Problem Is Our Solution
When natural disasters happen suddenly without warning, it can be tough as a business owner to know what steps to take. Today we’re providing you with a couple of tips to ensure that you’re not left unprepared if your business is victim of a disaster.
First – Protect your workers!
Talk with each employee to ensure they know just what to do if a disaster hits during work hours. Plan evacuation routes, emergency shelter areas, and have regular drills to practice your safety plans.
Secondly – Secure your Assets!
Protect your facilities, equipment, and more by contacting us to see what we can do for you in case of disaster. Back up data and software regularly, and maintain an up-to-date inventory of all equipment.
Third – Remember Us!
Keep SERVPRO of McAllen's contact information handy so you can get back to work as soon as possible following the disaster. SERVPRO of McAllen is ready to respond immediately and work quickly to clean or restore your business. We understand that your property’s appearance is important and that every hour spent restoring is an hour of lost productivity. When you need a restoration or cleaning professional, SERVPRO of McAllen has the training and expertise to help make it “Like it never even happened.”
Whether it be small offices or large restaurants, we can help with it all. We’re available 24/7 to get your business back up and running. Have Questions? Call us today at (956) 631-0348!
Need a Cleaning? Get SERVPRO Clean!
You don’t have time to worry about the common wear and tear that gradually soils your office. When grime, odor, and moisture challenges go beyond the scope of your regular janitorial staff, you should call SERVPRO of McAllen for prompt service.
Whether it’s removing an odor problem or deep cleaning flooring or carpets, you can rely on us to make your workspace look its very best.
SERVPRO of McAllen offer cleaning services ranging from cleaning restaurant hoods to removing biohazard contaminants. We have the specialized training and products to get your property back to business. Our cleaning services include the following:
Did You Know?
Residues (such as burning plastics or the soot from furnace disorders) form long chains of ionized smoke particles that assemble in corners or at junctions of walls and ceilings which are called smoke webs!
Does your business have a plan? Check out these tips:
Protect your people : Your employees are your most important business asset. These tips can help prevent them from being injured in a fire.
- Fire Plans: Make sure your employees know what to do if there's a fire, including calling 911 immediately. Conduct a fire drill at least once a year to keep employees aware of your workplace fire safety protocol.
- Evacuation Plan: In larger buildings, post a fire evacuation plan in several spots around the workplace. Never include elevators in an evacuation plan; always use the stairs.
- First Aid: In case of fire injuries, your employees should be familiar with the location of the first-aid kit, which should be kept where possible hazards can occur most-such as in the kitchen.
HVAC Tips For Your Commercial Property.
It’s always a good idea to hire a professional to come inspect your HVAC system; if any maintenance is needed, that same company can take care of it right away. You will want to have an inspection done every fall and again in spring, after the heavier use months during winter and summer. A professional will inspect and clean all of your unit’s wiring and mechanisms, which would be a bit challenging for anyone without the training or expertise. Using a professional ensures that the future of your business’ HVAC is bright!
As a business owner, there are several simple maintenance chores that you can do to prolong your system’s life and increase its efficiency between professional inspections and maintenance, such as:
- Get a high-efficiency, pleated air filter for your system
- Keep your heating units and AC free of pollen, leaves, and grass
- Keep two feet of space clear around your outdoor AC and heating units
- Inspect refrigerant lines every month
- Replace air filters at least every 90 days
- In the summer, turn off the water running to the furnace humidifier
- In the fall, replace the humidifier filter and turn the water back on
- Replace the carbon monoxide detector battery
- Make sure your outdoor AC unit is on firm and level ground
- Clean AC condensation with a bleach and water mixture
Caring for your HVAC properly throughout the year will keep your work environment air quality and atmosphere pleasant, which keeps your staff happy and content. It will also save you money by improving and maintaining your energy efficiency throughout your building.
The team at SERVPRO of McAllen is always ready to inspect and maintain your HVAC system, and we are here to answer any questions you might have. We are also experienced in large cleanup jobs such as those needed because of fire damage or water damage, and we are pros at mold remediation. Call us today at (956) 631-0348
SERVPRO of McAllen ERP
SERVPRO Says Our ERP Protects Your business in McAllen from Mold Damage
Perla Chapa - Marketing Coordinator
McAllen has much to offer in terms of entertainment. Regardless of your preferences, you are bound to find a restaurant, performance, or gallery to reflect them. It is also a great place to run a business. With just a few personal touches, you can create a welcoming environment with good friends, music, and even art. The key to your success is providing an experience, one that touches every sense and leaves your customers feeling relaxed and happy as they leave your business .
What you do not want in your business is the smell of mold. Mold remediation in McAllen is not uncommon, given the climate and age of many structures, but you do not need to fall victim to the spread of bacteria and other micro-organisms. Our SERVPRO mold remediation technicians come equipped with the latest industry best practices to eliminate the issue. Relying on a professional crew can help you avoid a re occurrence and acting fast is essential to a successful process. As soon as you see or smell something irregular, it is time to reach out to our team to take a look and offer their guidance.
Even before mold becomes an issue, you should protect your business by watching the following-
-Humidity. Track the moisture levels in your store and be mindful of any unexplained changes as they may point to a more significant problem. Our SERVPRO crew carries advanced moisture sensors to help you assess proper levels.
-Utilities. Make sure your utility bill does not point to a potential leak. Even a small constant drip of water can become breeding ground for mold and close attention to your monthly charges can help prevent it.
-Prevention. Ask your service provider to review air ducts regularly. This simple task can prevent mold growth when kept clean and in good working order. Ask us about our ERP Emergency READY Profile Plan to ward off potential losses from mold, fire, or water damaging events to your business.
SERVPRO of McAllen is your guide through the mold remediation process. Just give us a call at (956) 631-0348 and let us leave your business "Like it never even happened."
What to Do During, and After a Commercial Fire.
Never fear SERVPRO Professionals are here! When our green trucks arrive just know we are here to eliminate all your stress and worry!
Perla Chapa- Marketing Coordinator
Preparing for a home fire is a wise time investment, but how many of us prepare for a fire at work?
Below, the fire damage repair experts from SERVPRO of McAllen explain what to do during and after a commercial fire.
Safety Steps for Employers & Employees
Contrary to popular belief, fire alarm and fire sprinkler system are not directly connected. This means that when the fire alarm goes off, the sprinkler system will not necessarily activate at the same time. Moreover, some buildings don’t have a fire sprinkler system.
The fire alarm is your primary warning to evacuate the building. Don’t assume that because the sprinklers aren’t activated that no fire exits. Because commercial buildings lack the compartmented features of a house, the fire has the potential to grow much larger, much faster.
Once the alarm sounds, help inform others who may not hear the alarm. If you’re not working on the ground floor, do not attempt to use an elevator.
Look for the closest stairwell exit. Hold your hand to the door knob (don’t touch it), and check for heat. If the doorknob feels warm, there may be fire on the other side. If possible, find another exit.
Once outside, do not attempt to go back inside the building. If someone is missing, wait for emergency responders to arrive.
Some commercial fire alarm systems will contact emergency services automatically. Once it’s safe to do so, call 9-1-1 to ensure help is on the way. Inform first responders of anyone who might still be inside.
How to Handle Fire Cleanup
Burned or damaged buildings are vulnerable to break-ins and other offenses. Once the building has been cleared for re-entry, it’s critical that anything valuable is removed. This includes the personal belongings of employees as well as expensive business property.
Once valuables have been removed, damaged and destroyed property must be carefully documented. You’ll also need to contact your insurance company.
Business owners who want to be sure they’re getting the most out of their insurance policy trust SERVPRO of McAllen to document and negotiate with greedy insurance companies.
Plus, SERVPRO of McAllen can repair damage, clean, and sanitize a fire-damaged work space and restore it to like-new condition—this includes expensive property contents like furniture, electronics, paper documents, and more.
Avoid the impulse to clean up the property before a thorough investigation has been completed. Insurance companies will want documentation of everything in your claim. If you clean up evidence, you could lose money in the claims process.
There are pros and cons to contacting a restoration company before speaking with the insurance company.
Stay Informed; Be Prepared
Every minute counts when it comes to your business. One of the best ways to avoid further damage after a commercial fire is to stay informed and be prepared.
In addition to coordinating a fire safety plan with employees, knowing who to call and when can save you time and money on commercial cleaning and restoration.
SERVPRO of McAllen is available 24 hours , 7 days a week. We’ll be there when you need us, so you can get back to work faster after an unexpected disaster.
Commercial Cleaning Services
Our Technician performing the hot water extraction method with Safe shampoo free cleaning in a local commercial business
Maintaining a clean office space not only helps create a positive first impression with customers and clients but can also increase employee morale. The overall appearance of your work space affects the way your company is perceived. A dirty or messy environment could send a message to potential customers and clients that your company lacks professionalism and is unorganized. If you can’t be trusted to keep your office tidy, how attentive will you be to the details of their account?
Additionally, keeping your employees happy is essential for any business. A clean office is a happy office, and happy and healthy employees are often more productive and enjoy coming to work each day, which reflects well on your business.
Some of the services we provide are as follows:
We pioneered the hot water extraction method which removes dirt from carpet to improve your building’s overall appearance and cleanliness.
- Extends the life of your carpet
- 25 out of 27 commercial carpet manufacturers recommend the hot-water extraction method
- No shampoos or harsh chemicals, which may leave behind sticky residues
Air Duct Cleaning
Improve air quality and system efficiency in your building with professional air duct cleaning services, which uses source removal and negative pressure techniques.
- Duct Work Cleaning and Decontamination
- Indoor Air Quality System Inspection
- IICRC Certified Technicians
Cleaning and Sealing of Air Ducts
- Allergens are removed
- Source removal method
- Improves the efficiency of your heating and A/C systems
Tile & Grout Cleaning
Our certified technicians make use of specialized cleaning solutions combined with a hot water rinse and vacuum system that helps ensure grime is extracted from the surface
Cleaning of Drapery, Furniture, and Carpets
- Family safe shampoo free cleaning
- Hot water extraction methods
- Safe for fabrics that are delicate
- Cleaning products that are hypo-allergenic
Our certified technicians make use of specialized cleaning solutions combined with a hot water rinse and vacuum system that helps ensure grime is extracted from the surface.
Fire loss in Local Motel Room.
Our Team Responding to a local fire loss in Mission, TX
If your commercial property suffers fire damage, quick action is vital to limiting the amount of damage that is inflicted on your property. You may think that once the fire is put out, the damage has been done and you can start getting things cleaned up at your leisure. Unfortunately, fire damage continues to eat away at materials even after the fire has been put out.
More porous materials often can’t be saved and have to be thrown out and replaced. Less porous materials can be saved if the ash and soot are removed from the surface in a timely manner. A matter of hours can make a difference between an item that can be saved versus one that cannot. This is why our team at SERVPRO of McAllen offers 24-hour emergency services, so you can call us anytime day or night, and we can start the restoration process immediately.
When we begin the restoration process for fire damage, we offer a number of services depending on the extent of the damage your commercial property needs. Typically, we begin by bringing in air filtering machines that will remove ash and floating particulate matter from the air to make sure your air is safe to breathe again. As this starts working, we will remove ash and soot from your property and dispose of any materials that can’t be saved.
The amount of restoration you want and need depends on the amount of damage your commercial property sustained from the fire. Give us a call at (956)631-0348 for complete restoration from any fire damage on your commercial property.
Benefits Of Fall Office Cleaning.
Air duct fall cleaning from SERVPRO.
While the warm and inviting summer season is drawing to an end, looking forward to crisp autumn air is right around the corner. If your office building has an abundance of dust and dirt that was trapped in throughout the summer months, now is the time to think about fall office cleaning. Here are a few benefits of having your office professionally cleaned before the winter months settle in.
Refresh Tile And Grout
If you happen to have tile entryway in your office, this area can take a real hit when it comes to foot traffic from employees and customers. If your tile and grout is not sealed, the entire porous surface attracts dirt and soil. This means that stains can settle down deep into the grout lines and the sheen from the tile can wear off overtime. To replenish the look and create a cleaner work space, Request professional tile and grout cleaning from SERVPRO Of McAllen. We use special cleaning solutions that get your tile looking squeaky clean. After the floor is dried, we finish off by adding a sealer to keep your floor looking like-new for months to come.
Improve Overall Air Quality
Over the summer months, there's a good chance that windows and doors may have been left open. While the breeze helps to bring some fresh air in, It also attracts pollen, airborne viruses, smoke and other organic allergens that can cause respiratory issues. Having air ducts in your office cleaned regularly will result to a cleaner work space to work and breathe in. Getting your air ducts cleaned also helps to remove airborne pathogen, dust, and dirt that has made its way into the office space. Adding an air purifier to your building can also help with removing air impurities and dust. SERVPRO Of McAllen also provides services for commercial and residential duct cleaning.
Restore Carpeting Appearance
Carpeting can also take a beating in your office space. Heavy traffic along with dirt and spills can leave the carpeting looking dull and worn. Rejuvenate tired carpet by having your carpets cleaned professionally using SERVPRO'S carpet cleaning solutions. We offer a variety of different cleaning methods depending on the type of carpet you have. we use solution's that reach all the way down into carpet fibers and targets the tough stains and dirt. The solution is then extracted, leaving a dry surface that lifts up carpet fibers, giving the carpet a like-new appearance, and also stays cleaner longer and stains resist returning.
Remove Upholstery odor
For couches and chairs that see consistent traffic on a day to day basis, dirt build up is expected. The pros at SERVPRO Of McAllen will use green cleaning agents during their office cleaning to tackle the tough stains and odors on your upholstery. This helps to restore the overall appearance of your furniture and provides a stain resistance to future wear and tear.
Work In A Sick Office? Sick Building Syndrome Is Real
Sick building syndrome is real.
During cold and flu season, your workplace may seem filled with people who cannot stop sniffling and sneezing. Whether they caught a flu bug, are reacting to dust from the heating system, or are showing symptoms from what has been labeled “sick building syndrome,” Your workplace deserves a proper cleaning to make sure germs are not spreading. Here is what you can do to stop a sick office this flu season.
How Sick Building Syndrome Happens
“Sick Building Syndrome” Is a phenomenon occurring when many people in a workplace experience health problems but there are no exact causes identified. These complaints may be tied to a single room or come from people working throughout the building. Needless to say, any situation creating discomfort for people in the workplace will eat away at productivity, increase absenteeism, and may affect your company’s bottom line.
Chemicals outside the building entering the workplace (vehicle exhaust, plumbing vents) may cause these problems. Contaminants from indoor sources including copy machines, cleaning solutions, and upholstery can cause office sickness as well. Biological pollutants such as bacteria, mold, and viruses may also be at the root of the discomfort. Proper commercial cleaning can help reduce the impact of these workplace pollutants as long as heavy chemicals are not involved in the process.
Avoiding A Sick Office On Flu Season
While you cannot control vehicles idling outside your building or block a neighbor’s plumbing vents, you can make sure your office is clean to prevent the spread of illness and reduce respiratory problems. SERVPRO Of McAllen uses a cleaning system that removes the soils in carpets, office furniture, and desktops. In addition to floor and surface cleaning, SERVPRO Of McAllen also provides duct cleaning and solutions for water damage that leads to mold. You cannot guarantee that you can avoid “sick building syndrome” by removing the majority of soils, but it is your best bet for a healthy work place environment.
Hidden threats like stagnant water in air ducts, damaged carpets breeding bacteria, and soaked insulation are capable of producing mold and other harmful bacteria. Choosing the green cleaning system from SERVPRO allow you to address these problems without inviting bacteria and dirt back into your carpets after cleaning. By employing a no-residue cleaning method, carpets stay clean longer than they do from steam cleaning. In addition, your team won’t have to worry about cleaning chemicals making office air difficult to breathe. SERVPRO delivers chemical-free cleaning with superior results!
Getting to the Root Cause of Mold in Schools
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:
Why is there mold in this classroom? Mold grew where condensation formed on the ceiling.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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-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 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.
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.
FINDING THE RIGHT HEAT/HUMIDITY BALANCE IN YOUR FACILITY
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.
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.
IS IT REALLY NECESSARY TO CLEAN A COMMERCIAL BUILDING'S AIR DUCTS?
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.
COMMERCIAL PROPERTY MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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…