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Commercial Fire Damage

10/16/2018 (Permalink)

Commercial Fire Damage, and Restoration, and the Process of Fire Restoration, Fire Damage in Washington Township, NJ.  The process of fire restoration can be very involved. Private homeowners and companies can oftentimes be devastated by the damage caused by this kind of event. One aspect that gives peace of mind involves knowing when the right professional has been hired. That is one of the reasons why it is important to hire a firm that is associated with the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification.  

Homeowners and business owners may be in shock from the initial devastation. It is important to try and follow the proper steps to achieve a complete fire restoration. Service providers that are associated with the Institute will have the following distinctions: current training, safety and health certifications, vast amounts of experience in restoration projects and the proper licenses and insurance information. Customers should also check all references and obtain price quotes prior to hiring anyone. Any contracts that are presented should be reviewed closely.

The first step in the process is to clean up as much of the existing area as possible. If the area is not immediately cleaned, soot residue and permanent damage can be left behind. If the homeowner or business owner does the initial cleaning, it is important to follow these steps. When cleaning, always use dust masks and open the area for proper ventilation. Clean from the ceilings to the floors and vacuum all floors and upholstery. Wash any items that are able to be laundered. Clean the outside with a pressure washer if available. 

If immediate clean up is not done, it can lead to devastating effects. Within minutes of fire and smoke damage, appliances and many items will discolor to a yellow hue. After a few hours, acid will stain bathrooms and many other areas of the home or business. Within days, walls will discolor permanently and items will begin to rust due to the acid residue.  Finally, after weeks the cost of clean-up will become substantially more expensive. The building and furnishings can be permanently damaged by the acid left behind. Soot residue will be layered throughout the home or business. For these reasons, it is vital to contact a professional associated with the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification to utilize fire restoration techniques in an effort to return the home or business to a preloss state. One company or service provider should be able to handle the damage. The seal of Certification by the Institute should be shown on any provider’s website. This shows the customer the reliability and the expertise of the service provider.

Residue and smoky odors need to be removed immediately. Professionals will use the process of fire restoration to achieve satisfactory results. These providers will remove the source of the odor, clean any items that can be salvaged, get rid of any lingering odor with an odor counteractant and deodorizing fog. Finally, the provider will seal salvageable items to encapsulate odor and prevent further recontamination.

Homeowners and businesses that are educated in the fire restoration process are able to minimize the cost of repair. Professionals can be contacted in a timely manner to return the area to a preloss state.  By hiring the right professionals the victims can have some peace of mind during a very stressful time.

Sewer backup can be making you sick

10/8/2018 (Permalink)

Watch out: sewage spills contain contaminants that can cause serious illness or disease. Disease causing agents in raw sewage include bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses and can cause serious illnesses including Hepatitis A.

If a building has been flooded by sewage or wastewater there may be unsafe electrical wiring, bacterial and pathogen hazards, mold hazards, even unsafe mechanical systems.

    • Turn off electrical power in the area that has been flooded if there is any chance of electrical wires, extension cords, or electrical appliances or fixtures coming in contact with standing water or wet materials
    • Vacate sewage-contaminated areas right away. Areas of sewage spill should not be occupied by people who are not wearing appropriate protective equipment as they are dangerous:
    • Stop flushing toilets
    • Turn off running water that is sending water into the drain system (clothes washer, sinks etc)

If the sewage or wastewater are being spread by water from a burst plumbing supply or hot water heating pipe, turn off the water to the building and if needed for safety or to stop further you may also need to turn off the (hot water or steam) heating system.

Items that have been soaked and are not salvageable may best be placed outdoors. By removing wet and contaminated materials from the building it may be easier to inspect, repair leaks, and clean the building itself.

Watch out: do not handle sewage-contaminated materials without proper personal safety protection: there are bacterial, pathogenic, respiratory and infection hazards.

    • Act promptly.
    • Watch out: The longer that sewage waters remain in a building or on its contents the greater the chance of spreading illness or disease and the greater the chance of causing a costly mold contamination problem in addition to the sewage problem. High indoor moisture caused by standing water can cause mold contamination to form on other building surfaces even if they were not directly wet by the sewage spill.
    • Don't panic: while prompt action is needed as we just explained, don't be in such a rush that you do something dangerous. Also, if you sound terrified when calling a contractor for assistance the result may be the imposition of inappropriate or costly steps.
    • Call a professional water damage restoration authority - For other than a trivial spill on a tiled bathroom floor you may need help from a professional water damage or restoration company.
    • Notify your insurance company that there has been a sewage spill in the building
    • Notify your municipal authority or sewer department if your home is connected to a public sewer
  • Contact your local health department for advice if your home is connected to a private septic system

sewer cleaning

10/5/2018 (Permalink)

Backed up sewers can wreak havoc on a home, causing thousands of dollars in damage to floors, walls, furniture and electrical systems. Sewer backup coverage is available from most insurers for a nominal cost—usually an additional annual premium of $40-$50. 

For homes that have been severely damaged and are uninhabitable, homeowners policies may provide Loss of Use coverage, which provides reimbursement for lodging, food and other living expenses you may incur as a result of having to live outside of your home. Loss of Use coverage also reimburses you for the lost rental income if you rent out part of the house.

Causes of Sewer Backup

Aging Sewer Systems: The Civil Engineering Research Foundation reports that the number of backed up sewers is increasing at an alarming rate of about 3 percent annually. In addition, a recent report from the American Society of Civil Engineers indicates that the nation's 500,000-plus miles of sewer lines are on average over thirty years old. The increase in the number of homes connected to already aging sewage systems has also contributed to rapid increases in sanitary sewer backups, flooded basements and overflows.

Combined Pipelines: Problems also arise in systems that combine storm water and raw sewage into the same pipeline. During many rain storms, the systems are exposed to more volume than they can handle, and the result is a sewage backup situation that allows sewage to spew out into basements and other low lying drains.

Blockages Due to Tree Roots: Shrubs and trees seeking moisture will make their way into sewer line cracks. These roots can cause extensive damage. They may start out small, getting into a small crack in the pipe; but as the tree or shrub continues to grow, so does the root. Tree roots can enter the service pipe at joints and cause blockages. Tree roots can travel a long way, and roots from different types of trees act differently. If city trees are suspected, your plumber can contact the city, and samples of the roots will be used to help identify the trees and who is responsible for cleanup. Sometimes the blockage is a result of a combination of city and private trees. In this case costs are split between the city and the property owner.

Sanitary Main: A blockage can occur in a city sanitary main. If the blockage is not detected in time, sewage from the main can back up into homes and businesses through floor drains. Usually this happens slowly, giving the owner time to call a licensed plumber to assess the damage. If water is entering into your basement at a rapid rate, call the city public works office and report the problem immediately.

Water in Basement: Most basement flooding is not related to the sanitary sewer system. In many cases, soil settles adjacent to the building and, if not corrected, leads to rainwater flowing towards the building and down the outside of the foundation wall. This is particularly true in older buildings, where cracks may have developed in the foundation or floor slab that allow water to enter the basement. The cement floor and basement walls of these structures may have deteriorated to the point that they are no longer waterproof. In these cases, water can show up in a basement that has never had a water problem. This will usually happen after a number of rain storms, when the ground is saturated. Drainage can be improved by making sure that water drains away from the building. Owners may also be able to prevent flooding by water sealing the basement.

Most homeowners may not realize that they are responsible for the maintenance and repair of their house or sewer lateral—the pipeline between the city sanitary sewer main, usually located in the street—and the building. The sewer lateral is owned and maintained by the property owner including any part that extends into the street or public right of way. A cracked or deteriorated lateral or one filled with tree roots can allow groundwater to seep into the system, contributing to the problem.

How to File a Claim

For insurance purposes, take before and after photos of the affected areas and itemize any property losses. Save all receipts related to repair, cleaning or damages and contact your insurance agent or company representative as soon as possible.

How to Prevent Backups In Your Lateral and in the City Main

Dispose of Grease Properly: Cooking oil should be poured into a heat-resistant container and disposed of properly, after it cools off, not in the drain. Washing grease down the drain with hot water is unsatisfactory. As the grease cools off, it will solidify either in the drain, the property owner's line, or in the main sewer causing the line to constrict and eventually clog.

Dispose of Paper Products Properly: Paper towels, disposable (and cloth) diapers and feminine products can cause a great deal of trouble in the property owner's lateral as well as in the city main. These products do not deteriorate quickly, as bathroom tissue does, so do not put them down the drain or toilet.

Replace Your Line with New Plastic Pipe: One way to prevent tree roots from entering your line is to replace your line and tap with new plastic pipe. If you have continuing problems with tree roots in your lateral, you may have to have the roots cut periodically.

Correct Illegal Plumbing Connections: Do not connect French drains, sump pumps and other flood control systems to your sanitary sewer. It is illegal, and debris and silt will clog your line. Consult a plumber to correct any pre-existing illegal connections. French drains are common drainage systems, primarily used to prevent ground and surface water from penetrating or damaging building foundations.

Install a Backwater Prevention Valve: A backwater valve is a fixture installed into a sewer line, and sometimes into a drain line, in the basement of your home or business to prevent sewer backflows. A properly installed and maintained backwater valve allows sewage to go out, but not to come back in. Property owners are responsible for the installation and maintenance of backwater valves. The cost to install one depends on the type of plumbing in the building and the difficulty of installation. Check with a qualified plumber.

What to Do If You Experience a Sewer Backup

A sewer backup can lead to disease, destruction of your valuables, damage to your house or business, and can even result in electrical malfunctions. Prompt cleanup of affected property can help minimize the inconvenience and prevent mold or further damage. If you experience a sewer backup situation, immediately arrange for the cleanup of your property. This should include:

  • Wet-vacuuming or removal of spillage
  • Mopping floors and wiping walls with soap and disinfectant
  • Flushing out and disinfecting plumbing fixtures
  • Steam cleaning or removing wet carpets or drapes
  • Repairing or removing damaged wallboard or wall covering
  • Cleanup of ductwork

Understanding the Need for Sump Pumps

10/1/2018 (Permalink)

The problem is that Sump Pumps fail all the time. While it’s not to say that we have a fool-proof method for preventing 100% of failures, there are certainly some tips you can follow to better your chances of a properly working sump pump.

For years, sump pumps have been a pretty common fixture in homes, especially in lower-level areas of the country or in places where the rapid melting of heavy snow can cause flooded basements. The popularity of sump pumps have grown exponentially in the past couple decades, largely in part to a legal amendment to the US Federal Clean Water Act in 1987 that requires certain homes to have a sump pump, even if they are not necessarily high-risk for floods.

The American Society of Home Inspectors actually did a study that showed more than 60% of American homes suffer from underground wetness or water damage. And there’s a likelihood that an ever large percentage will deal with a flooded basement at some point. Something we often talk about with roofing in terms of moisture also applies here. It doesn’t always take a large amount of water to create a large amount of issues. In roofing, we talk about roof leaks going into the home which aren’t uncommon for a faulty roof after a big rain storm. But just as problematic – or sometimes even worse – are the small leaks that get into the attic and aren’t noticed until well after a huge mold problem has been created. Same goes for moisture in the lower levels of your home. It doesn’t take a huge flood to cause thousands of dollars in damage. It takes very little standing water and very little time for mold and mildew to take over and create problems.

Proper maintenance is the key. Ugh, more maintenance! Here we are telling you to maintain your roof, now we’re telling you about your sump pump. Really, though, maintenance is a great thing. It’s much cheaper than a huge repair and it drastically increases the life of your equipment.

There is no definitive “lifetime” of a sump pump. Most last anywhere from 3-20 years. That’s a pretty big window. The  UD Dept. of housing estimates the average life expectancy at 10 years. In my opinion, 10-15 years is pretty reasonable for a pump that goes through regular maintenance.

First, let’s talk about how a sump pump works.

The basics are pretty simple. A hole is dug in the lowest part of your basement or crawlspace where a sump pump sits and filters out water. As the pit fills up, the pump turns on and moves the liquid out of the pit through pipes that run away from the foundation of your home into an area where it can drain, such as a municipal storm drain or a dry well. A one-way valve (check valve) keeps water from entering back into the home.

The pump is generally powered with no special wiring; just your main household current. But being near water, or in water (in case of a failure), it’s a good idea to have some type of circuit interrupter to prevent electrocution.

The majority of residential sump pumps will turn on automatically from a pressure sensor or float activator. The pressure sensor activates as water builds up and creates more pressure than air which prompts the pump to turn on. The float activator has a ball that floats on top of the water, moving the arm as the water level rises – similar to the one in your toilet tank.

When the motor activates, the impeller (a fan-like device) will turn. Using centrifugal force, the spinning impeller will force the water towards the sides of the pipe, creating a low-pressure center where water from the pit rushes to while the spinning action pushes it through the pipe.

All of these things work together to keep your home dry. And for the most part, everything tends to go smoothly. But there’s a lot of parts working together and if one thing quits working, or some type of outside force comes in and causes disruption, things can get back quickly.

7 Things that Cause Sump Pump Failure

1. Power Failure

The most common cause for sump pump failure is an electrical power outage. To prevent this, have a backup generator that can be manually activated. In the case that your primary pump mechanically fails, though, a generator cannot help in this situation. But in the event of a storm where the power is knocked out for any length of time, a backup generator can be a lifesaver.

On the same topic of power, some components of the sump pump may be vulnerable to damage from power surges. To prevent this, protect the entire electrical system from power surges with a service entrance surge protection device.

2. The Sump Pump is the Wrong Size

If you have an incorrectly sized pump, or if the pump is not installed properly, there will most likely be a problem. A small sump pump is often just as effective as a big one. When a sump pump is too big, the pump is forced to work harder, resulting in a shorter product lifespan. But if it’s too small, it may not be able to adequately pump out the water – again resulting in a shorter lifespan.

3. Improper Installation

Installing a sump pump must be done exactly right. Manufacturer’s instructions must be followed carefully for the installation in order to avoid severe water damage down the road. Most manufacturers recommend or require a check valve to be installed on the discharge line. If not installed, the back-flow of water can cause the pump impeller to rotate backwards and unscrew off the motor shaft. In this scenario, you will still hear the pump motor running, but it would not be pumping any water.

Most manufacturers require the drilling of a small air relief hole in the discharge line between the pump and the check valve which is intended to prevent the pump from having to overcome the air pressure in the discharge pipe. The discharge pipe must be of the required diameter.

Lastly, the sump pump pit should not be set in dirt or gravel. This causes debris to enter into your pump and can result in interference with the pump’s on/off switch or float arm.

4. Switch Problems

The leading mechanical cause of sump pump problems is a switch problem. This occurs when the pump shifts from its position inside the basin, rendering the float ineffective. Float is responsible for the smooth operation of the on/off switch. Your sump pump relies on both the switch and the float arm mechanisms to operate effectively.

5. Lack of Maintenance

Some pump manufacturers recommend the pump to be run every 2-3 months. Some recommend a yearly program completed just before the rainy season hits.

Here are some additional manufacturer recommendations:

  • If there is a back-up pump, unplug the primary pump and run the back-up pump to make sure it works properly
  • When testing your sump pump, go outside to make sure it is discharging water
  • Sometimes the pump can run but not pump any water. This means the impeller has disengaged from the pump shaft or the check valve is installed backwards.
  • Check the operation of the float to make sure it is not restricted
  • Clean out the air hole in the discharge line
  • Listen for any unusual noises when the motor is running
  • Replace the battery on the back-up sump pump every 2 or 3 years

6. Frozen or Clogged Discharge Lines

If water cannot exit your home through the discharge line, your system will not work. It is important to keep the discharge pipe protected from freezing and free of sticks, dirt, rocks and other debris. Protecting the water’s exit point of the discharge pipe will keep debris and animals out of the system, making it optimal for your sump pump.

Grated covering will not stop the lines from freezing or becoming blocked by ice and snow. A special grated discharge line attachment should help; it is placed near your home on the discharge line. It includes openings that give water a way to flow out of the pipe if the line is blocked further down.

7. Product Defect

Though rare, product defect is always a possibility and does happen. It is wise to test the pump when it is initially installed to make sure the pump operates properly.

It’s All About the Maintenance

Don’t get me wrong, you cannot avoid all of these problems with maintenance. Let’s be honest – it’s a mechanical piece of equipment and mechanical pieces of equipment fail. It happens. But there’s no doubt that you can avoid many of these issues, and give a longer lifespan to the equipment by performing regular maintenance.

At the very least, follow these maintenance tips once per year. Some experts will even recommend that you do this every 2 months. Quarterly maintenance is probably the norm. It takes just a few minutes and can avoid some serious pains in the future.

  • A vinegar solution can be run through the sump pump in order to clean it
  • The pump will become free from tiny particles and debris which will allow the pump to run much cleaner
  • This can be done by the homeowner and unless there is a serious problem, then you may need to call a professional.
  • Make sure the sump pump’s float switch is not restricted in any way. If it is, it will cause the sump pump to not automatically kick on in case of a flood
  • Lastly, clean all vents and air holes for maximum effectiveness

That’s it. Maintenance is super easy and keeps your home protected from water damage. Make this a part of your regular home improvement plan and you’ll surely save some money in your pocket by either putting off the purchase of a replacement sump pump for several years, or by avoiding a costly water damage project.

When Storms or Floods hit Washington twp./ Woolwich twp., SERVPRO is ready!

9/26/2018 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Washington twp./ Woolwich twp., specializes in storm and flood damage restoration.  Our crews are highly trained and we use specialized equipment to restore your property to its pre-storm condition.

Faster Response

Since we are locally owned and operated, we are able to respond quicker with the right resources, which is extremely important. A fast response lessens the damage, limits further damage, and reduces the restoration cost.

Resources to Handle Floods and Storms

When storms hit Washington twp./ Woolwich twp., we can scale our resources to handle a large storm or flooding disaster. We can access equipment and personnel from a network of 1,650 Franchises across the country and elite Disaster Recovery Teams  that are strategically located throughout the United States.

Have Storm or Flood Damage? Call Us Today SERVPRO of Washington twp./ Woolwich twp.,

856-241-9997

Sump Pump

9/18/2018 (Permalink)

The problem is that Sump Pumps fail all the time. While it’s not to say that we have a fool-proof method for preventing 100% of failures, there are certainly some tips you can follow to better your chances of a properly working sump pump.

For years, sump pumps have been a pretty common fixture in homes, especially in lower-level areas of the country or in places where the rapid melting of heavy snow can cause flooded basements. The popularity of sump pumps have grown exponentially in the past couple decades, largely in part to a legal amendment to the US Federal Clean Water Act in 1987 that requires certain homes to have a sump pump, even if they are not necessarily high-risk for floods.

The American Society of Home Inspectors actually did a study that showed more than 60% of American homes suffer from underground wetness or water damage. And there’s a liklihood that an ever large percentage will deal with a flooded basement at some point. Something we often talk about with roofing in terms of moisture also applies here. It doesn’t always take a large amount of water to create a large amount of issues. In roofing, we talk about roof leaks going into the home which aren’t uncommon for a faulty roof after a big rain storm. But just as problematic – or sometimes even worse – are the small leaks that get into the attic and aren’t noticed until well after a huge mold problem has been created. Same goes for moisture in the lower levels of your home. It doesn’t take a huge flood to cause thousands of dollars in damage. It takes very little standing water and very little time for mold and mildew to take over and create problems.

Proper maintenance is the key. Ugh, more maintenance! Here we are telling you to maintain your roof, now we’re telling you about your sump pump. Really, though, maintenance is a great thing. It’s much cheaper than a huge repair and it drastically increases the life of your equipment.

There is no definitive “lifetime” of a sump pump. Most last anywhere from 3-20 years. That’s a pretty big window. The  UD Dept of housing estimates the average life expectancy at 10 years. In my opinion, 10-15 years is pretty reasonable for a pump that goes through regular maintenance.

First, let’s talk about how a sump pump works.

The basics are pretty simple. A hole is dug in the lowest part of your basement or crawlspace where a sump pump sits and filters out water. As the pit fills up, the pump turns on and moves the liquid out of the pit through pipes that run away from the foundation of your home into an area where it can drain, such as a municipal storm drain or a dry well. A one-way valve (check valve) keeps water from entering back into the home.

The pump is generally powered with no special wiring; just your main household current. But being near water, or in water (in case of a failure), it’s a good idea to have some type of circuit interrupter to prevent electrocution.

The majority of residential sump pumps will turn on automatically from a pressure sensor or float activator. The pressure sensor activates as water builds up and creates more pressure than air which prompts the pump to turn on. The float activator has a ball that floats on top of the water, moving the arm as the water level rises – similar to the one in your toilet tank.

When the motor activates, the impeller (a fan-like device) will turn. Using centrifugal force, the spinning impeller will force the water towards the sides of the pipe, creating a low-pressure center where water from the pit rushes to while the spinning action pushes it through the pipe.

All of these things work together to keep your home dry. And for the most part, everything tends to go smoothly. But there’s a lot of parts working together and if one thing quits working, or some type of outside force comes in and causes disruption, things can get back quickly.

7 Things that Cause Sump Pump Failure

1. Power Failure

The most common cause for sump pump failure is an electrical power outage. To prevent this, have a backup generator that can be manually activated. In the case that your primary pump mechanically fails, though, a generator cannot help in this situation. But in the event of a storm where the power is knocked out for any length of time, a backup generator can be a lifesaver.

On the same topic of power, some components of the sump pump may be vulnerable to damage from power surges. To prevent this, protect the entire electrical system from power surges with a service entrance surge protection device.

2. The Sump Pump is the Wrong Size

If you have an incorrectly sized pump, or if the pump is not installed properly, there will most likely be a problem. A small sump pump is often just as effective as a big one. When a sump pump is too big, the pump is forced to work harder, resulting in a shorter product lifespan. But if it’s too small, it may not be able to adequately pump out the water – again resulting in a shorter lifespan.

3. Improper Installation

Installing a sump pump must be done exactly right. Manufacturer’s instructions must be followed carefully for the installation in order to avoid severe water damage down the road. Most manufacturers recommend or require a check valve to be installed on the discharge line. If not installed, the back-flow of water can cause the pump impeller to rotate backwards and unscrew off the motor shaft. In this scenario, you will still hear the pump motor running, but it would not be pumping any water.

Most manufacturers require the drilling of a small air relief hole in the discharge line between the pump and the check valve which is intended to prevent the pump from having to overcome the air pressure in the discharge pipe. The discharge pipe must be of the required diameter.

Lastly, the sump pump pit should not be set in dirt or gravel. This causes debris to enter into your pump and can result in interference with the pump’s on/off switch or float arm.

4. Switch Problems

The leading mechanical cause of sump pump problems is a switch problem. This occurs when the pump shifts from its position inside the basin, rendering the float ineffective. Float is responsible for the smooth operation of the on/off switch. Your sump pump relies on both the switch and the float arm mechanisms to operate effectively.

5. Lack of Maintenance

Some pump manufacturers recommend the pump to be run every 2-3 months. Some recommend a yearly program completed just before the rainy season hits.

Here are some additional manufacturer recommendations:

  • If there is a back-up pump, unplug the primary pump and run the back-up pump to make sure it works properly
  • When testing your sump pump, go outside to make sure it is discharging water
  • Sometimes the pump can run but not pump any water. This means the impeller has disengaged from the pump shaft or the check valve is installed backwards.
  • Check the operation of the float to make sure it is not restricted
  • Clean out the air hole in the discharge line
  • Listen for any unusual noises when the motor is running
  • Replace the battery on the back-up sump pump every 2 or 3 years

6. Frozen or Clogged Discharge Lines

If water cannot exit your home through the discharge line, your system will not work. It is important to keep the discharge pipe protected from freezing and free of sticks, dirt, rocks and other debris. Protecting the water’s exit point of the discharge pipe will keep debris and animals out of the system, making it optimal for your sump pump.

Grated covering will not stop the lines from freezing or becoming blocked by ice and snow. A special grated discharge line attachment should help; it is placed near your home on the discharge line. It includes openings that give water a way to flow out of the pipe if the line is blocked further down.

7. Product Defect

Though rare, product defect is always a possibility and does happen. It is wise to test the pump when it is initially installed to make sure the pump operates properly.

It’s All About the Maintenance

Don’t get me wrong, you cannot avoid all of these problems with maintenance. Let’s be honest – it’s a mechanical piece of equipment and mechanical pieces of equipment fail. It happens. But there’s no doubt that you can avoid many of these issues, and give a longer lifespan to the equipment by performing regular maintenance.

At the very least, follow these maintenance tips once per year. Some experts will even recommend that you do this every 2 months. Quarterly maintenance is probably the norm. It takes just a few minutes and can avoid some serious pains in the future.

  • A vinegar solution can be run through the sump pump in order to clean it
  • The pump will become free from tiny particles and debris which will allow the pump to run much cleaner
  • This can be done by the homeowner and unless there is a serious problem, then you may need to call a professional.
  • Make sure the sump pump’s float switch is not restricted in any way. If it is, it will cause the sump pump to not automatically kick on in case of a flood
  • Lastly, clean all vents and air holes for maximum effectiveness

That’s it. Maintenance is super easy and keeps your home protected from water damage. Make this a part of your regular home improvement plan and you’ll surely save some money in your pocket by either putting off the purchase of a replacement sump pump for several years, or by avoiding a costly water damage project.

Tips to Avoid Water Damage

9/12/2018 (Permalink)

Blog | SERVPRO Franchise Website Administration

Standing water on the floor is easy to see. Less obvious signs of problems include:

  • Unexpected increases in your water bill
  • Stains on walls, floors or ceilings
  • Damaged or warped flooring
  • Warped bottom panels in under-sink cabinets
  • Peeling paint or wallpaper
  • Corrosion on plumbing valves and fittings

Deal with problems as you find them. Clean up any water or moisture, locate the source and make repairs. Tracking down a leak isn't always straightforward — water can travel along components in the building structure, so the indications of the leak may be in a different part of the home than the leak itself. If necessary, contact a professional roofing contractor, plumber or water damage restoration specialist to help with identification and repair.

In addition to the damage that water causes, it can encourage the growth of mold on walls and floors — where it's readily visible — and in ductwork, attics and crawl spaces — where you might not notice it. A musty odor is a sign that mold may be present.

Mold can cause damage and lead to health problems — deal with it quickly. If the affected area is larger than 3 feet by 3 feet, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends you find a professional mold remediation contractor. For smaller areas, you can clean nonporous surfaces with commercial cleaning products, soap and water or a solution of a cup of bleach to each gallon of water. Follow the instructions and safety precautions for the cleaning product you use and wear appropriate safety gear. Porous surfaces such as drywall need to be replaced. For more information on mold in the home and how to clean it up, see A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home on the EPA's web site.

Inspecting common sources of water leaks and taking some simple preventative measures can be an effective way to reduce the risk of water damage and mold.

Plumbing

  • Every 6 to 12 months, inspect water lines, shut-off valves and fittings for fixtures such as sinks, toilets and tubs and for appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers and ice makers. Check for cracks, loose connections, kinks and corrosion. If you find a leak, turn off the water to the fixture or appliance until you can make repairs.
  • Check around toilets to make sure water is not leaking at the base — an indication that the wax ring between the toilet and floor might need replacing or that there might be a crack in the base.
  • If the temperature drops near the 20°F mark, allow faucets connected to vulnerable pipes — those not protected in insulated spaces — to drip. This helps minimize the risk of burst pipes by relieving pressure if the pipes freeze.

Appliances

  • Replace washing machine supply hoses at least every five years. Consider using stainless-steel mesh hoses. Keep the machine properly balanced — over time, an unbalanced machine can move, pulling free the hose connections. Read Maintain Your Washer and Dryer for instructions on replacing hoses and balancing the washing machine.
  • Consider turning off the water to the washing machine when it's not in use.
  • Don't operate a dishwasher or washing machine while your house is unoccupied.
  • Follow the manufacturer-specified maintenance for your appliances, including your water heater. Have the water heater inspected every couple of years.

Roof and Gutters

  • Have your roof inspected every three years by a professional, but also check routinely for damage you can see from the ground — such as broken and missing shingles or damaged flashing. A poorly maintained roof can lead to leaks in the home and additional damage to the roof itself.
  • If your roof doesn't have a drip edge or drip cap, consider having one added. This component helps keep water away from the roof deck and directs runoff into gutters.
  • Keep gutters clear and well-maintained. Gutters that overflow, leak or don't drain properly allow water to seep into your roof and into your foundation, crawlspace or basement. See Gutter Cleaning and Repair for steps to keep your gutters working correctly.
  • Make sure gutter downspouts direct rainwater away from the home's foundation. Use extensions to carry water at least 6 feet from the house.

Exterior Walls and Foundation

  • Inspect the exterior of your home. Caulk around gaps at plumbing and ventilation entry and exit points. See How to Caulk for instructions. Repair cracked mortar joints.
  • Check to see if roots from shrubs near your home have caused damage that can allow water to enter the foundation. You may need to remove shrubs that are close to the house to prevent problems. Roots can also damage and block in-ground pipes, causing leaks near the foundation and sewer backups in the home.
  • Keep shrubbery beds and other landscape features sloped to direct water away from the home.
  • Look for evidence of erosion or settling at the foundation that can indicate water problems.

Additional Tips to Avoid Water Damage

  • Have your attic ventilation and insulation inspected annually and seal gaps that allow warm air into the attic — such as those around access doors and light fixtures. When warm air collects in the attic, it can lead to the formation of an ice dam — ice around the eaves that causes water from melting snow and ice to back up under the shingles and leak into your home.
  • If you have a sump pump, test it several times during the year. Follow the manufacturer's maintenance instructions.
  • Check your water pressure with a pressure gauge; typically these screw onto a hose bib. The pressure in an average home is around 50 to 70 pounds per square inch (psi). Higher pressure causes extra stress on pipes and fittings and can lead to leaks.
  • Inspect tile and grout around showers and tubs. Make any necessary repairs. Read Replace a Broken Ceramic Tile and Repair Tile Grout for step-by-step instructions. 
  • Check for leaks around windows during rains and seal any you find.
  • Use exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom to move excess moisture out of the house. Moisture in the air can condense on cool surfaces and cause problems. Read Controlling Moisture and Humidity in the Home for more ways to reduce indoor moisture.
  • Locate your water shut-off valve so you can quickly turn off water to the home in an emergency. See Shut Off Your Home Water Supply for instructions on locating the valve.

A Fast Response Is Crucial

9/7/2018 (Permalink)

Blog | SERVPRO Franchise Website Administration

In many cleaning and restoration situations, immediate action is needed. With over 1,700 U.S. and Canadian Franchise locations, SERVPRO is strategically positioned to be faster to any size emergency.

An immediate response helps to minimize the damage and the cleaning and restoration costs.

Water is particularly invasive, quickly spreading throughout your property and being absorbed into floors, walls, furniture, etc. SERVPRO Franchise Professionals arrive quickly and start the water extraction process almost immediately.

Water Damage Timeline

Within Minutes:

  • Water quickly spreads throughout your property, saturating everything in its path.
  • Water is absorbed into walls, floors, upholstery, and belongings.
  • Furniture finishes may bleed, causing permanent staining on carpets.
  • Photographs, books, and other paper goods start to swell and warp.

Hours 1 - 24:

  • Drywall begins to swell and break down.
  • Metal surfaces begin to tarnish.
  • Furniture begins to swell and crack.
  • Dyes and inks from cloth and paper goods spread and stain.
  • A musty odor appears.

48 Hours to 1 Week:

  • Mold and mildew may grow and spread.
  • Doors, windows, and studs swell and warp.
  • Metal begins to rust and corrode.
  • Furniture warps and shows signs of mold.
  • Paint begins to blister.
  • Wood flooring swells and warps.
  • Serious biohazard contamination is possible.

More Than 1 Week:

  • Restoration time and cost increase dramatically; replacing contaminated materials and structural rebuilding may be extensive.
  • Structural safety, mold growth, and biohazard contaminants pose serious risks to occupants.

Water Damage

8/29/2018 (Permalink)

Water damage is the No. 1 culprit that weakens your home's foundation, the very core that holds your house together.

Water damage hits at the core strength of your house, eventually causing serious structural damage. Damp woods invites termites and carpenter ants; plus, it causes mold and mildew.

Here's how to prevent water damage using three easy strategies that will give your peace of mind the next time heavy storms hit.

  • Ensure Good Drainage
    • Clean your gutters.
  • Test Your Sump Pump
    • Check your sump pump once a year.
  • Fix Water Leaks
    • Repair any noticeable dripping pipes.
    • Check for dark spots under pipes & on ceilings.

Contact your local SERVPRO of Washington/ Woolwich  @ 856-241-9997 to restore your water damaged home "Like it never even happened."

What A Property Inspection Checks For

6/25/2018 (Permalink)

A Property is probably the biggest purchase you'll ever make, so when you buy a Property it's important to be sure your potential new Property has a proper inspection before you sign the papers. Getting a qualified home inspector can be an important first step.

A home inspector is a qualified professional who visually inspects the structure and components of a home and looks for any immediate or potential problems. They provide a written report to you with a description of problem areas and may also include recommendations for further evaluation.

You can go over the report with your real estate agent to decide how the results may affect the purchase of your potential home.

What they inspect

Home inspection requirements vary greatly from state to state, but the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) has a Standards of Practice page that outlines minimum and uniform standards that you should expect from an inspection. They include the following:

  • Structural elements: Construction of visible foundation, evidence of sagging or bowing of the structure, and window alignment
  • Safety: Operating fire and carbon monoxide alarms, fire sprinklers, condition of stairs, hand and guardrails, and garage door openers.
  • Grounds: Leaks from septic tank, proper drainage, and condition of the house's driveways, fences, and sidewalks
  • Roof: Condition of shingles, any repairs/patches to flat roofs, clear vents, damage to chimneys, and properly working gutters
  • Exterior surfaces: Correct clearance between ground and siding material, condition of exterior paint or siding, and properly working lights and electrical outlets
  • Attic: Sufficient insulation, proper ventilation, and any sign of leaking or water damage
  • Interior plumbing: No damaged or leaking pipes, proper hot water temperature, as well as functioning toilets, sinks, bathtubs, and showers
  • Electrical system: Up-to-code condition and type of visible wiring, and proper function of circuit breakers, outlets, light fixtures, and fans
  • Appliances: Proper function of stove, dishwasher, refrigerator, microwave, washer and dryer, and all other appliances
  • Heating and cooling systems: Condition of furnace, air conditioning (temperature permitting), water heater, chimney, and fireplace
  • Basement: Solid foundation, walls, and floors, with no signs of water intrusion or damage
  • Garage: Solid foundation, windows, ceiling, framing, and roof; working garage door opener; up-to-code electrical system; and proper function of outlets

What they don't inspect

Again, while there is variation of what home inspectors look for, there are areas that are generally not covered by a home inspection. If you suspect any problems or concerns in the following areas, you may want to schedule an evaluation by a certified specialist:

  • Pest control
  • Swimming pools
  • Asbestos
  • Radon gas
  • Lead paint
  • Toxic mold

What will it cost?

The inspection fee for a typical one-family house varies geographically, as does the cost of housing. Similarly, within a given area, the inspection fee may vary depending on a number of factors such as the size of the house, its age and possible optional services such as septic, well or radon testing.

Do not let cost be a factor in deciding whether or not to have a home inspection or in the selection of your home inspector. The sense of security and knowledge gained from an inspection is well worth the cost, and the lowest-priced inspection is not necessarily a bargain. Use the inspector’s qualifications, including experience, training, compliance with your state’s regulations, if any, and professional affiliations as a guide.

Why can't I do it myself?

Even the most experienced homeowner lacks the knowledge and expertise of a professional home inspector. An inspector is familiar with the elements of home construction, proper installation, maintenance and home safety. He or she knows how the home’s systems and components are intended to function together, as well as why they fail.