Recent Storm Damage Posts

Storm Types

9/6/2019 (Permalink)

storm is any disturbed state of an environment or astronomical body's atmosphere especially affecting its surface, and strongly implying severe weather. It may be marked by significant disruptions to normal conditions such as strong windtornadoeshailthunder and lightning (a thunderstorm), heavy precipitation (snowstorm, rainstorm), heavy freezing rain (ice storm), strong winds (tropical cyclone, windstorm), or wind transporting some substance through the atmosphere as in a dust stormblizzard, sandstorm, etc.

Types                                                                                                                                                                          

There are many varieties and names for storms:

  • Ice storm — Ice storms are one of the most dangerous forms of winter storms. When surface temperatures are below freezing, but a thick layer of above-freezing air remains aloft, rain can fall into the freezing layer and freeze upon impact into a glaze of ice. In general, 8 millimetres (0.31 in) of accumulation is all that is required, especially in combination with breezy conditions, to start downing power lines as well as tree limbs.[3] Ice storms also make unheated road surfaces too slick to drive upon. Ice storms can vary in time range from hours to days and can cripple small towns and large urban centers alike.
  • Blizzard — There are varying definitions for blizzards, both over time and by location. In general, a blizzard is accompanied by gale-force winds, heavy snow (accumulating at a rate of at least 5 centimeters (2 in) per hour), and very cold conditions (below approximately -10 degrees Celsius or 14 F). Lately, the temperature criterion has fallen out of the definition across the United States[4]
  • Snowstorm — A heavy fall of snow accumulating at a rate of more than 5 centimeters (2 in) per hour that lasts several hours. Snow storms, especially ones with a high liquid equivalent and breezy conditions, can down tree limbs, cut off power, and paralyze travel over a large region.
  • Coastal Storm — large wind waves and/or storm surge that strike the coastal zone. Their impacts include coastal erosion and coastal flooding[5]
  • Ocean Storm — Storm conditions out at sea are defined as having sustained winds of 48 knots (55 mph or 90 km/h) or greater.[6] Usually just referred to as a storm, these systems can sink vessels of all types and sizes.
  • Firestorm — Firestorms are conflagrations which attain such intensity that they create and sustain their own wind systems. It is most commonly a natural phenomenon, created during some of the largest bushfires, forest fires, and wildfires. The Peshtigo Fire is one example of a firestorm. Firestorms can also be deliberate effects of targeted explosives such as occurred as a result of the aerial bombings of DresdenNuclear detonations generate firestorms if high winds are not present.
  • Dust devil — a small, localized updraft of rising air.
  • Wind storm— A storm marked by high wind with little or no precipitation.[7]Windstorm damage often opens the door for massive amounts of water and debris to cause further damage to a structure.[8] European windstorms and derechos are two type of windstorms.[9] High wind is also the cause of sandstorms in dry climates.
  • Squall — sudden onset of wind increase of at least 16 knots (30 km/h) or greater sustained for at least one minute.
  • Gale — an extratropical storm with sustained winds between 34-48 knots (39-55 mph or 63–90 km/h).[6]
  • Thunderstorm — A thunderstorm is a type of storm that generates lightning and the attendant thunder. It is normally accompanied by heavy precipitation. Thunderstorms occur throughout the world, with the highest frequency in tropicalrainforest regions where there are conditions of high humidity and temperature along with atmospheric instability. These storms occur when high levels of condensation form in a volume of unstable air that generates deep, rapid, upward motion in the atmosphere. The heat energy creates powerful rising air currents that swirl upwards to the tropopause. Cool descending air currents produce strong downdraughts below the storm. After the storm has spent its energy, the rising currents die away and downdraughts break up the cloud. Individual storm clouds can measure 2–10 km across.
  • Tropical cyclone — A tropical cyclone is a storm system with a closed circulation around a centre of low pressure, fueled by the heat released when moist air rises and condenses. The name underscores its origin in the tropics and their cyclonic nature. Tropical cyclones are distinguished from other cyclonic storms such as nor’easters and polar lows by the heat mechanism that fuels them, which makes them "warm core" storm systems.

Tropical cyclones form in the oceans if the conditions in the area are favorable, and depending on their strength and location, there are various terms by which they are called, such as tropical depressiontropical stormhurricane and typhoon.[10]

  • Hailstorm — a type of storm that precipitates round chunks of ice. Hailstorms usually occur during regular thunder storms. While most of the hail that precipitates from the clouds is fairly small and virtually harmless, there are occasional occurrences of hail greater than 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter that can cause much damage and injuries.

A tornado in Binger, Oklahoma during the 1981 outbreak.

  • Tornado — A tornado is a violent, destructive wind storm occurring on land. Usually its appearance is that of a dark, funnel-shaped cloud. Often tornadoes are preceded by thunderstorms and a wall cloud. They are often called the most destructive of storms, and while they form all over the world, the interior of the United States is the most prone area, especially throughout Tornado Alley.

Different Types of Storm Damage

8/30/2019 (Permalink)

A diamond shaped yellow sign with a circular storm symbol that reads storm ahead black lettering and a cloudy sky background Different types of storm

There are several types of storm damage including wind, flooding, or even fire. Flooding can cause extensive amounts of damage to your home, and lightning can create fires while high winds can cause many issues to the structure of your home.

Wind
The damage which results from extremely high winds is quite easy to see most of the time. Nowadays, roof shingles are designed better than their predecessors regarding their resistance to wind and the ever-increasing knowledge and standards. There is many times little can be done to prevent damage by wind in conditions that are very extreme. Roofs that are wind-damaged usually appear to be affected only in certain spots. The edges or perimeter of the room are affected by high winds easily, since the edge of a roof is quite prone to lifting.

Hail
Round dings in metal are clear signs of hail damage. Determining whether your roof has suffered damage from a hail storm, however, could be a bit more challenging. After hail hits the roof, it knocks off the protective granules where the hail has hit, and these areas of damage are the sources of leaks in the roof in the future if it is not fixed within a few years’ time.

Snow
Snow causes most of its damage from the weight of it, which immensely increases when ice, rain and sleet are added to it. On an average-sized roof, two feet of snow can weigh the equivalent of thirty-eight thousand pounds or nineteen tons. The obvious sign many times that a roof is about to fail is if it is sagging.

Ice
The functionality of a lot of gutter and roof systems are affected by the temperatures that fluctuate, making the snow melt then refreeze on the edge of the roof. This makes a dam which the water cannot pass through, meaning that as more snow melts off the roof and trickles down, it gets blocked by an ice dam and makes a puddle. Since roofs were not made to handle standing water, especially as the water line and growing puddle move up the roof, the water can seep through small openings in the roof into your home or attic.

Rain and Flood Damage
Water running out of a typical water drainage basin due to overflowing from a storm can wreak havoc on your property. Streams, creeks, rivers or lakes which overflow, flash floods, a storm surge or a tsunami are all examples of flood damage that are possible.

Flooding can cause damage to your property including your foundation and drywall damage. Most of the time the drywall will need to be removed and replaced. The flooding can also cause mold to grow on the property due to standing or hidden water, such as inside the walls. This should be taken care of as soon as possible, usually by a professional storm damage remediation company, as mold can cause a serious health risk to you and your family.

Call an Expert
At the first sign of damage contact a professional storm damage restoration company. They use specialized equipment and technology to tackle any storm damage to your property. They will be able to restore your property back to normal.

Contact SERVPRO of Washington/Woolwich to restore your commercial or residential storm damage "Like it never even happened."

Your Lucky Day!

8/29/2019 (Permalink)

this is a picture of two pennies on heads on a counter top if you were unfortunate to have a fire or water loss, call SERVPRO of Washington/Woolwich to help you turn it around.

You know it’s going to be a good day when you find not only one, but two pennies heads up!

Storms are often predicted, but the path and outcome are never truly known.

If you were unlucky enough to experience water or fire damage from a storm, and want to turn your luck around call SERVPRO® of Washington/Woolwich to help change your luck. Our professionally trained technicians will come to your home, assess the damage, and let you know what needs to be done, and work with your insurance company (if applicable) to make your loss less stressful for you and your family. Our goal is to make it “Like it never even happened.”

Storm Damage, Property Insurance Tips, Prevention, and Co

7/11/2019 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Insurance Overview

Many homeowners have already experienced a severe hailstorm and witnessed the damage hail can cause to homes, automobiles, businesses and other property. When a hailstorm hits, it does the greatest amount of damage to the exterior of your home or property. Common types of damage caused by hail are: roof damage, siding damage, shingle damage, window damage and automobile damage.

Thunderstorms

Most standard homeowners policies, also known as HO-3 policies, cover both your home and its contents. Typically, you are covered against storm damage, theft, pet damage and some major disasters, such as tornadoes, hurricanes and hail.

Earthquakes and floods are usually not covered under most standard insurance policies and require a separate policy. Remember, home insurance policies do not cover poor maintenance or normal wear and tear, so it is a good idea to make sure your home is always properly maintained.

What to Do Before You Talk to an Insurance Agent

Before buying homeowners insurance, the first thing you need to determine is the replacement cost of your home. The replacement cost reflects the total cost to replace the structures on your property. This is typically different than the market value, or sales price of your home, which takes into account other factors including the value of your lot.

An easy way to figure out your replacement cost is to multiply the building cost per square foot of your home, with the number of total square feet. If you don't have a good sense of building costs for your area, any local contractor should be able to give you a good idea of average building costs in your area.

Once you know your replacement cost, you'll have a good idea of what your insured liability limit should be. Liability limit is the amount of coverage you have if something, such as a tornado or other serious storm, destroys your home. Most experts recommend liability limits equal to the replacement cost, so if your home is totally destroyed your insurance will cover the costs to restore or rebuild your home, including living expenses if you are unable to inhabit your home.

If you live in an area prone to flooding, make sure you obtain flood insurance, which is typically a separate policy. If you have questions about your coverage, check with your insurance agent and make sure you have a solid understanding of your coverage, especially as it relates to serious storm damage or other catastrophic losses.

In states where a severe tornado not only threatens your home and its contents, it is important to understand the difference between actual cash value insurance and replacement value insurance. Actual cash value insurance compensates you for the actual, depreciated value of the items in your home. So, if you have a TV that originally cost $500, but is now worth $100, your insurance will pay you $100 if it is destroyed.

For homeowners with expensive electronics, art, and other furnishings, replacement value insurance is a smart way to go. Replacement value pays you the full amount it would cost to replace a broken, damaged or missing item. So, if a storm destroys a $4,000 plasma TV inside your home, your insurance will cover the full $4,000 replacement value of your TV, and whatever else is damaged inside your home, minus the cost of your deductible, up to the limits of your policy. If you own very expensive individual items, such as original art, or valuable jewelry, you might consider insuring those items individually, under a separate policy.

Whatever type of insurance you choose, it's always wise to take an inventory of the items in your home. If your home is completely destroyed, you will not be able to remember all of the items you own, unless you have a detailed inventory and pictures of what is inside. It is always a good idea to store your inventory list and pictures in a separate, secure location, such as a bank safety deposit box. If you have a digital camera, take pictures and email them to yourself, along with your inventory list.

A deductible is the amount you are required to pay out of pocket before your insurance kicks in. Typically homeowners insurance deductibles range from $250 to over $1,000. So, if your home is damaged by a hailstorm and incurs $10,000 in damages and you have a $500 deductible, the insurance company will pay $9,500 towards your repairs. The higher your deductible, the lower your premium will be.

When deciding on a deductible, make sure it's an amount you can come up with easily, that won't create a financial strain or hardship. Some companies are now offering policies with high deductibles, including deductibles that are calculated as a percentage of your home's value. For example, if your home is worth $200,000 and you have a 2% deductible, you will have to come up with $4,000 before your insurance pays anything. While these types of policies can offer a lower premium, make sure you are able to cover the cost of the deductible, in case a severe storm or disaster hits your area.

Shopping for Homeowners Insurance

When shopping for a homeowners policy, it is smart to check out several different insurance companies. Different insurance companies offer a wide range of coverage levels, discounts and prices. Don't just shop the companies you know best, but search for the policy that works best for your situation. If you come across a policy that looks good, but is offered by a company you haven't heard of, it's easy to check out their background. Here are three websites you can use to investigate the financial strength of an insurance company:

When selecting a policy, start by researching your area. You'll want to have a firm understanding of the storm damage history of your neighborhood related to:

  • Hailstorms
  • Tornadoes
  • Wind Storms
  • Flooding
  • Earthquakes
  • Natural Disasters

Make sure the insurance policy you select adequately covers storms and natural disasters in your area. Watch out for insurance companies known for unfairly denying claims. Every year, the American Justice Association publishes a list of the 10 Worst Insurance Companies. If your insurance company is on the list and your insurance claim has been denied, make sure you connect with a reputable contractor with the experience to fight for your rights.

Saving Money on Homeowners Insurance

There are many factors insurance companies take into account when determining the price of your insurance premium. Some factors that affect the cost of your premium may include:

  • History of a severe storm or disaster in your area
  • Neighborhood crime levels
  • Quality of building materials in your home
  • Building costs in your area
  • Size and overall condition of your home
  • Distance from a fire station

You may be eligible for a discount on your insurance premium by making certain improvements to your home, which can add up to significant savings. The following list of improvements will not just result in savings, but will make your home safer as well.

  • Impact resistant roofing shingles
  • Shatterproof windows
  • Storm shutters
  • Reinforced tile or slate roof

Most states prohibit insurance companies from canceling your insurance policy or singling you out for a rate increase for filing a storm damage claim. If you live in an area with a high propensity for severe storms or other natural disasters, you should expect premiums to be higher.

Insurance companies can raise rates for everyone living in a storm prone area. If this is the case, your rate will increase whether or not you file an insurance damage claim. So, if your home has been damaged by a tornado, hailstorm, severe wind, or other type of natural disaster, it is in your best interest to file an insurance claim to pay for the damage. If you fail to file a claim, your increase in premium will pay for everyone's repairs except for yours.

If you have storm damage to your home or commercial building, then you may need to file an insurance claim.

What to Do After the Storm

6/27/2019 (Permalink)

After any water damage situation, your primary focus should be safety:

  • Is it safe to stay in the house?
  • Electrical and "slip and fall" hazards are some of the most prevalent concerns.
  • Only do activities that are safe for you to perform.
  • Wet materials can be VERY heavy. Be careful!

What To Do After Flooding

  • Remove excess water by mopping and blotting.
  • Wipe excess water from wood furniture after removal of lamps and tabletop items.
  • Remove and prop wet upholstery and cushions.
  • Place aluminum foil or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpeting.
  • Turn air conditioning on for maximum drying in summer.
  • Remove colored rugs from wet carpeting.
  • Remove art objects to a safe, dry place.
  • Gather loose items from floors.

What NOT To Do After Flooding

  • Don't leave wet fabrics in place. Hang furs and leather goods.
  • Don't leave books, magazines or other colored items on wet carpet or floors.
  • Don't use your household vacuum to remove water.
  • Don't use television or other household appliances.
  • Don't turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet, and keep out of rooms where ceilings are sagging.

Then Call a Certified Water Damage Restoration Contractor, for Proper Drying, Dehumidifying, Possible Demolition and Clean Up!

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.

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.

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."

Water and Flood Damage

6/25/2018 (Permalink)

Water damage describes a large number of possible losses caused by water intruding where it will enable attack of a material or system by destructive processes such as rotting of wood, growth, rusting of steel, de-laminating of materials such as plywood, and many others.

The damage may be imperceptibly slow and minor such as water spots that could eventually mar a surface, or it may be instantaneous and catastrophic such as flooding. However fast it occurs, water damage is a major contributor to loss of property.

An insurance policy may or may not cover the costs associated with water damage and the process of water damage restoration. While a common cause of residential water damage is often the failure of a sump pump, many homeowner's insurance policies do not cover the associated costs without an addendum which adds to the monthly premium of the policy. Often the verbiage of this addendum is similar to "Sewer and Drain Coverage".

Those individuals who are affected by wide scale flooding may have the ability to apply for government and FEMA grants through the Individual Assistance program. On a larger level, businesses, cities, and communities can apply to the FEMA Public Assistance program for funds to assist after a large flood. For example, the city of Fond du Lac Wisconsin received $1.2 million FEMA grant after flooding in June 2008. The program allows the city to purchase the water damaged properties, demolish the structures, and turn the properties into public green space.

Causes

Water damage can originate by different sources such as a broken dishwasher hose, a washing machine overflow, a dishwasher leakage, broken/leaking pipes, and clogged toilets. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 13.7% of all water used in the home today can be attributed to plumbing leaks. On average that is approximately 10,000 gallons of water per year wasted by leaks for each US home. A tiny, 1/8-inch crack in a pipe can release up to 250 gallons of water a day.

According to Claims Magazine in August 2000, broken water pipes ranked second to hurricanes in terms of both the number of homes damaged and the amount of claims (on average $50,000 per insurance claim costs in the US. Experts suggest that homeowners inspect and replace worn pipe fittings and hose connections to all household appliances that use water at least once a year. This includes washing machines, dishwashers, kitchen sinks and bathroom lavatories, refrigerator ice makers, water softeners and humidifiers. A few US companies offer whole-house leak protection systems utilizing flow-based technologies. A number of insurance companies offer policy holders reduced rates for installing a whole-house leak protection system.

As far as insurance coverage is concerned, most damage caused by bad weather is considered flood damage and normally is not covered under homeowners insurance. Coverage for bad weather would usually require flood insurance.

Categories

Category 1 Water - Refers to a source of water that does not pose substantial threat to humans and classified as "clean water". Examples are broken water supply lines, tub or sink overflows or appliance malfunctions that involves water supply lines.

Category 2 Water - Refers to a source of water that contains a significant degree of chemical, biological or physical contaminants and causes discomfort or sickness when consumed or even exposed to. Known as "grey water". This type carries micro organisms and nutrients of micro organisms. Examples are toilet bowls with urine (no feces), sump pump failures, seepage due to hydrostatic failure and water discharge from dishwashers or washing machines.

Category 3 Water - Known as "black water" and is grossly unsanitary. This water contains unsanitary agents, harmful bacteria and fungi, causing severe discomfort or sickness. Type 3 category are contaminated water sources that affects the indoor environment. This category includes water sources from sewage, seawater, rising water from rivers or streams, ground surface water or standing water. Category 2 Water or Grey Water that is not promptly removed from the structure and or have remained stagnant may be re classified as Category 3 Water. Toilet back flows that originates from beyond the toilet trap is considered black water contamination regardless of visible content or color.

Classes

Class of water damage is determined by the probable rate of evaporation based on the type of materials affected, or wet, in the room or space that was flooded. Determining the class of water damage is an important first step, and will determine the amount and type of equipment utilized to dry-down the structure.

Class 1 - Slow Rate of Evaporation. Affects only a portion of a room. Materials have a low permeance/porosity. Minimum moisture is absorbed by the materials.

Class 2 - Fast Rate of Evaporation. Water affects the entire room of carpet and cushion. May have wicked up the walls, but not more than 24 inches.

Class 3 - Fastest Rate of Evaporation. Water generally comes from overhead, affecting the entire area; walls, ceilings, insulation, carpet, cushion, etc.

Class 4 - Specialty Drying Situations. Involves materials with a very low permeance/porosity, such as hardwood floors, concrete, crawlspaces, plaster, etc. Drying generally requires very low specific humidity to accomplish drying.

Restoration

Different removal methods and measures are used depending on the category of water. Due to the destructive nature of water, chosen restoration methods also depend heavily on the amount of water, and on the amount of time the water has remained stagnant. For example, as long as carpet has not been wet for longer than 48 hours, and the water involved was not sewage based, a carpet can usually be saved; however, if the water has soaked for longer, then the carpet is probably irreparable and will have to be replaced. Water damage restoration can be performed by property management teams, building maintenance personnel, or by the homeowners themselves; however, contacting a certified professional water damage restoration specialist is often regarded as the safest way to restore water damaged property.

Standards and regulation

While there are currently no government regulations in the United States dictating procedures, two certifying bodies, the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) and the RIA, do recommend standards of care. The IICRC-recommended standard is IICRC S500.

Fire and Water Restoration companies are regulated by the appropriate state's Department of Consumer Affairs - usually the state contractors license board. In California, all Fire and Water Restoration companies must register with the California Contractors State License Board.  Presently, the California Contractors State License Board has no specific classification for "water and fire damage restoration."

Procedures

Water damage restoration is often prefaced by a loss assessment and evaluation of affected materials. The damaged area is inspected with water sensing equipment such as probes and other infrared tools in order to determine the source of the damage and possible extent of area affected. Restoration services would then be rendered to the residence in order to dry the structure, sanitize any affected or cross contaminated areas, and deodorize all affected areas and materials. After the labor is completed, water damage equipment including air movers, air scrubbers, dehumidifiers, wood floor drying systems, and sub floor drying equipment is left in the residence. Industry standards state that drying vendors should return at regular time intervals, preferably every twenty-four hours, to monitor the equipment, temperature, humidity, and moisture content of the affected walls and contents.

Help your pets overcome the fear of storms

6/8/2018 (Permalink)

Storm phobia. You call it your worst nightmare. Either way, we all want the same thing: A calmer dog who doesn’t have to suffer the psychological damage done by booming thunder, wicked lightning and plummeting barometric pressures.

And it’s not just their psyche at risk. We all know that dogs are capable of doing serious damage to themselves during stormy times of the year. Fractured claws, lacerations, broken teeth and bruises are but a few consequences. I’ve even seen broken limbs and witnessed one dramatic case of deadly hit-by-car when a neighbor’s dog ran wildly into the street (so you know, they do this...thinking they’re fleeing the storm).

So how do you handle thunderstorm phobia?

Here are tips:

1. Handle it early on in your dog’s life

Does your dog merely quake and quiver under the bed when it storms outside? Just because he doesn’t absolutely freak, doesn’t mean he’s not suffering. Since storm phobia is considered a progressive behavioral disease, signs like this should not be ignored. Each successive thunderstorm season is likely to bring out ever-worsening signs of fear. It’s time to take action...NOW!

2. Don’t heed advice to let her “sweat it out” or not to “baby” her

I’ve heard many pet owners explain that they don’t offer any consolation to their pets because they don’t want to reinforce the “negative behavior” brought on by a thunderstorm. But a severe thunderstorm is no time to tell your dog to “buck up and get strong.” Fears like this are irrational (after all, she’s safe indoors). Your dog won’t get it when you punish her for freaking out. Indeed, it’ll likely make her anxiety worse. Providing a positive or distracting stimulus is more likely to calm her down.

3. Offer treats, cuddling's and other good stuff when storms happen

This method is best employed before the phobia sets in––as pups. Associating loud booms with treats is never a bad thing, right?

4. Let him hide...in a crate

Hiding (as in a cave) is a natural psychological defense for dogs. Getting them used to a crate as pups has a tremendous influence on how comfortable they are when things scare them. Having a go-to place for relaxing or hiding away is an excellent approach, no matter what the fear. Another approach to try, whether he’s a pup or not.

5. Get him away from the noise...and compete with it

Creating a comfy place (for the crate or elsewhere) in a room that’s enclosed (like a closet or bathroom) may help a great deal. Adding in a loud radio or white noise machine can help, too. Or how about soothing, dog-calming music? Not only does this approach muffle sounds, it also means pets can avoid the...

5. Electromagnetism

Though it may sound like Voo-doo, your dog can also become sensitized to the electromagnetic radiation caused by lightning strikes. One great way to shield your dog from these potentially fear-provoking waves is to cover her crate with a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Another method involves clothing her in a commercially available “Storm Defender” cape that does the same work. If she hides under the bed, consider slipping a layer of aluminum fold between the box-spring and mattress.

6. Desensitize him

Sometimes it’s possible to allay the fears by using thunderstorm sound CDs when it’s not raging outside. Play it at a low volume while plying him with positive stimuli (like treats and pettings). Increase the volume all the while, getting to those uncomfortable booming sounds over a period of weeks. It works well for some.

7. Ask your veterinarian about drugs

Sure, there’s nothing so unsavory as the need for drugs to relieve dogs of their fears, but recognize that some fears will not be amenable to any of these other ministrations without drugs. If that’s the case, talk to your vet about it––please.

8. Natural therapies can work

For severe sufferers there’s no doubt it’ll be hard to ask a simple flower essence to do all the heavy lifting, but for milder cases, Bach flower extracts (as in Rescue Remedy), lavender oil (in a diffuser is best) and/or “Dog Appeasing Pheromone” (marketed as D.A.P. in a diffuser, spray or collar) can help.

9. Consider seeing a board certified veterinary behaviorist

If nothing else works, your dog should not have to suffer. Seek out the advice of your veterinarian and, if you’ve gone as far as you have with him/her, consider someone with unique training in these areas––perhaps a board certified veterinary behaviorist.

80 percent of Property Owners lack flood insurance, Flood damage in Washington Township NJ, Flood damage in Woolwich NJ, Flood Insurance,

9/25/2017 (Permalink)

80 percent of Property Owners lack flood insurance, Flood damage in Washington Township NJ, Flood damage in Woolwich NJ, Flood Insurance,

The vast majority of homeowners in the area devastated by Hurricane Harvey lack flood insurance, leaving many who escaped the storm with little financial help to rebuild their homes and lives.

“I wish I had flood insurance now,” lamented Leroy Moore, a 58-year-old whose home in Northeast Houston filled with water. He cancelled his flood policy when it grew too expensive. He and his wife were rescued from the rising waters on Sunday by National Guard troops and are now sleeping in a church. “When it's a choice to make between things and life, sometimes you've just got to let the things go and hang on to life.”

Regular home insurance covers wind damage but not flooding. Homeowners have to purchase separate flood insurance policies from the government-run National Flood Insurance Program, which will end in late September unless Congress renews it. In Texas, the average cost for a NFIP plan is $500 a year, but it can rise to more than $2,000 for homes inside a floodplain.

Only 17 percent of homeowners in the eight counties most directly affected by Harvey have flood insurance policies, according to a Washington Post analysis of Federal Emergency Management Agency data. When disaster hits, the policies cover up to $250,000 in rebuilding costs and $100,000 to replace personal belongings such as TVs and furniture.

Everyone else who loses their home to flooding will be dependent on private charity and government aid, especially grants from Federal Emergency Management Agency.

But FEMA's help is a poor substitute for flood insurance: The grants, intended to help residents rebuild homes and cover hotel stays until permanent housing is available, are capped at $33,300. Most receive significantly less. Funds will be even tighter if Congress doesn't provide additional emergency funding for Texas soon.

To get a grant, “FEMA has to believe your house is damaged so substantially that there’s no area in your house you can live in,” says Saundra Brown, a lawyer whose home in Houston was flooded. She spoke to The Washington Post while removing drywall to prevent mold. Her advice is to take photos of everything.

 

President Trump vowed “very rapid action” to help victims, but aid is usually slow to arrive, particularly in a large-scale disaster that strains FEMA's capacity to inspect and assess all the damaged homes.

Brown has seen firsthand just how long FEMA can take. She heads up Lone Star Legal Aid's disaster response unit, a group of lawyersthat assists low-income clients, including helping them to get FEMA money. Some of her clients were fighting with FEMA for months after the smaller storms that deluged Houston with rain in 2015 and 2016.

“It’s not like the government comes in with big buckets of cash and just hands it out,” says Robert Meyer, a professor and co-director of the University of Pennsylvania's Risk Management Center, which studies natural disaster response. “People who don't have insurance may have to abandon their homes.”

Moore and his wife were sitting in the First Baptist Church in North Houston trying to comprehend how quickly everything they worked for was ruined by a horrendous storm. The couple fled the home they'd owned for 32 years with just the clothes on their backs.

Moore, a forklift driver, used to buy flood insurance from the government when it cost $200 a year, but he says the premium rose above $300, so he stopped. His home had never flooded before Harvey until now.

“I've been in Houston all my life … I've never seen it like this,” Moore said, looking around the room at so many other families in the same situation.

Losing a home without insurance compensation is financially devastating. A home is the most valuable financial asset that many middle-class Americans have. The median home value in Harris County, where Houston is located, is $138,000, according to the U.S. Census. A total loss could delay retirement or force people into bankruptcy. Even if they can rebuild, it's unlikely the home will be worth as much if it is now marked as prone to flooding.

Legally, homeowners in places that FEMA designates as “high-risk” flood areas are supposed to have the insurance, but the rule isn't tightly enforced. Across the country, only 12 percent of homeowners have flood insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute. The rate is a bit higher in Texas, Louisiana and Florida, but even in those coastal areas, only about 20 percent get it.

The best hope for those who don't get much FEMA aid is a low-interest government loan.“The largest vehicle for disaster recovery isn’t FEMA grants; it’s Small Business Administration disaster loans,” says Brown. Some businesses and charities in the Houston area are already offering aid and cheap loans up to about $10,000.

“Nothing like this has happened before in Houston. Individuals and businesses are all trying to help,” says Yuvette Chou, a 41-year-old who didn't have flood insurance and was trying to stay positive. She spent Sunday sitting with her husband on the stairs watching water seep into their home for the first time ever. Her employerhas already reached out to offer a low-cost loan. “I've learned my lesson.”

Houston, with 2.3 million residents, is America's fourth-largest city. It's the country's energy hub, and it has thrived thanks to the shale gas boom. In total, nearly 6 million people live in the eight counties most affected by the storm. One of the biggest concerns for the economy is whether people will leave after Harvey. Katrina demonstrated what such a storm can do to a major American city. New Orleans lost half its population in the year after Katrina struck.

Wind damage in Woolwich NJ, Wind Damage in Washington Township NJ,

9/18/2017 (Permalink)

Wind damage in Woolwich NJ, Wind Damage in Washington Township NJ,

Wind damage in Woolwich NJ, Wind Damage in Washington Township NJ,

Q: Am I required to have homeowners insurance?

A: It is always smart to have a good homeowners insurance policy, even if you don't owe any money on your home. If you have a mortgage, home equity loan, or use your home as collateral, your lender will require you to maintain insurance.

Q: Are all homeowners insurance policies the same?

A: There are many different types of insurance policies. Levels of coverage, exclusions and limits of liability vary greatly. Some policies provide basic coverage, while others offer broad coverage and high levels of protection.

Q: Does my homeowners insurance cover all types of storm damage?

A: It depends on your policy. Most homeowners insurance policies cover storms including hail, tornado and wind damage. But, floods and earthquakes usually require additional coverage. It is always smart to check your policy to see exactly what is covered.

Q: Is replacement cost the same as the sale price of my home?

A: Not necessarily. The replacement cost is the actual cost to rebuild your home in the event it is completely destroyed, which may be more or less than the market value, or sale price.

Q: What does a homeowners insurance policy cover?

A: Homeowners insurance covers the repair or replacement of your home and its contents up to defined limits. Your policy may also include a liability policy, which protects you in the event someone is injured on your property due to your negligence.

Q: What are the various types of coverage included in a homeowners policy?

A: To determine the types of coverage you have, check the declarations page of your insurance policy. Types of coverage are as follows:

  • Coverage A - Damage to your home
  • Coverage B - Damage to other structures including garage, deck or swimming pool
  • Coverage C - Loss or damage to the contents of your home
  • Coverage D - Loss of use in case your home is not inhabitable
  • Coverage E - Personal liability to third parties
  • Coverage F - Medical payments to third parties

Q: Who pays for living expenses when my home is being repaired after a storm?

A: Your insurance company will pay for loss of use, in the case that your home is uninhabitable after it has been damaged by a storm, up to applicable limits.

Q: Does my policy cover tornado, wind and hail damage?

A: Most standard homeowners insurance policies cover damage done by tornado, windstorms and hailstorms. Check your policy for limits and details.

Q: What is not covered by homeowners insurance?

A: Earthquakes, floods and other named exclusions and usually require separate coverage. Normal wear and tear and poor maintenance is not covered by insurance.

Q: Will my insurance cover the cost of tree removal after a severe storm?

A: Most policies cover the cost of tree removal after a storm, however, you should check your policy. Some insurance companies require a separate tree removal policy.

Q: Will my homeowners insurance cover damage to cars on my property?

A: No. Damage to your car is not covered by your homeowners policy, even if a tree on your property falls and damages your car. Damage to your car is covered by your comprehensive auto insurance policy.

Q: If I file a storm damage claim, will my premiums go up?

A: Most states prohibit insurance companies canceling your coverage or singling you out for a rate increase due to an Act of God damage claim.

Q: Will my homeowners policy cover earthquake damage?

A: Not unless your policy specifically includes coverage for earthquakes. In most cases you'll need a separate insurance policy to cover earthquake and flood damage.

What are damaging winds?

Damaging winds are often called “straight-line” winds to differentiate the damage they cause from tornado damage. Strong thunderstorm winds can come from a number of different processes. Most thunderstorm winds that cause damage at the ground are a result of outflow generated by a thunderstorm downdraft. Damaging winds are classified as those exceeding 50-60 mph.

Are damaging winds really a big deal?

Damage from severe thunderstorm winds account for half of all severe reports in the lower 48 states and is more common than damage from tornadoes. Wind speeds can reach up to 100 mph and can produce a damage path extending for hundreds of miles.

Who is at risk from damaging winds?

Since most thunderstorms produce some straight-line winds as a result of outflow generated by the thunderstorm downdraft, anyone living in thunderstorm-prone areas of the world is at risk for experiencing this hazard.

People living in mobile homes are especially at risk for injury and death. Even anchored mobile homes can be seriously damaged when winds gust over 80 mph.

Types of Damaging Winds

Straight-line wind is a term used to define any thunderstorm wind that is not associated with rotation, and is used mainly to differentiate from tornadic winds.

downdraft is a small-scale column of air that rapidly sinks toward the ground.

downburst is a result of a strong downdraft. A downburst is a strong downdraft with horizontal dimensions larger than 4 km (2.5 mi) resulting in an outward burst of damaging winds on or near the ground. (Imagine the way water comes out of a faucet and hits the bottom of the sink.) Downburst winds may begin as a microburst and spread out over a wider area, sometimes producing damage similar to a strong tornado. Although usually associated with thunderstorms, downbursts can occur with showers too weak to produce thunder. 

microburst is a small concentrated downburst that produces an outward burst of damaging winds at the surface. Microbursts are generally small (less than 4km across) and short-lived, lasting only 5-10 minutes, with maximum windspeeds up to 168 mph. There are two kinds of microbursts: wet and dry. A wet microburst is accompanied by heavy precipitation at the surface. Dry microbursts, common in places like the high plains and the intermountain west, occur with little or no precipitation reaching the ground. 

gust front is the leading edge of rain-cooled air that clashes with warmer thunderstorm inflow. Gust fronts are characterized by a wind shift, temperature drop, and gusty winds out ahead of a thunderstorm. Sometimes the winds push up air above them, forming a shelf cloud or detached roll cloud.

derecho is a widespread, long-lived wind storm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms. A typical derecho consists of numerous microbursts, downbursts, and downburst clusters. By definition, if the wind damage swath extends more than 240 miles (about 400 kilometers) and includes wind gusts of at least 58 mph (93 km/h) or greater along most of its length, then the event may be classified as a derecho.

Hurricane Checklist, Be Prepared, Stay Safe, SERVPRO, Woolwich NJ, water damage in Washington Township NJ,

9/6/2017 (Permalink)

Hurricane Checklist, Be Prepared, Stay Safe, SERVPRO, Woolwich NJ, water damage in Washington Township NJ,

Hurricane Checklist, Be Prepared, Stay Safe, SERVPRO, Woolwich NJ, water damage in Washington Township NJ, 

A Fast Response Is Crucial

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

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

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

Water Damage Timeline

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.

The National Flood Insurance Program, (NFIP), Flood Damage in Woolwich NJ, Water damage in Woolwich NJ, Flood damage in Woolwich NJ,

8/29/2017 (Permalink)

The National Flood Insurance Program, (NFIP), Flood Damage in Woolwich NJ, Water damage in Woolwich NJ, Flood damage in Woolwich NJ,

The National Flood Insurance Program aims to reduce the impact of flooding on private and public structures. It does so by providing affordable insurance to property owners and by encouraging communities to adopt and enforce floodplain management regulations. These efforts help mitigate the effects of flooding on new and improved structures. Overall, the program reduces the socio-economic impact of disasters by promoting the purchase and retention of general risk insurance, but also of flood insurance, specifically. Signup to receive email updates.

I don't have flood insurance--Why do I need it?

FACT: Floods are the nation’s most common and costly natural disaster and cause millions of dollars in damage every year.

FACT: Homeowners and renters insurance does not typically cover flood damage.

FACT: Floods can happen anywhere--More than 20 percent of flood claims come from properties outside the high risk flood zone.

FACT: Flood insurance can pay regardless of whether or not there is a Presidential Disaster Declaration.

FACT: Most federal disaster assistance comes in the form of low-interest disaster loans from U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and you have to pay them back. FEMA offers disaster grants that don't need to be paid back, but this amount is often much less than what is needed to recover. A claim against your flood insurance policy could and often does, provide more funds for recovery than those you could qualify for from FEMA or the SBA--and you don't have to pay it back.

FACT: You may be required to have flood insurance. Congress has mandated federally regulated or insured lenders to require flood insurance on mortgaged properties that are located in areas at high risk of flooding. But even if your property is not in a high risk flood area, your mortgage lender may still require you to have flood insurance.

Flood insurance helps more: Check out your state's flood history with FEMA's interactive data visualization tool. Roll your cursor over each county to see how many flooding events have happened. The tool allows you to compare how much FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration have provided in terms of federal disaster aid after Presidential Disaster Declarations to the amount the National Flood Insurance program has paid to its policyholders. It's easy to see that having flood insurance provides a lot more help for recovery.

Who can buy flood insurance?

If you are a renter or homeowner (residential policy); or business owner (non-residential policy) and your property is located in a NFIP-participating community, you can purchase a policy. Contact your insurance agent to find out if your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program.

Flood insurance from the NFIP is only available in participating communities. Ask your agent if your state and community participate, or look it up online

Did you know? An elevated home, with a first floor elevated 3 feet above the base ­flood elevation, can expect to save 60 percent or more on annual ­flood insurance premiums.

Did you know? Elevating just one foot above the Base Flood Elevation often results in a 30% reduction in annual premiums.

Sump Pump Failure in Woolwich NJ, Flood Damage in Woolwich NJ, 7 Causes of Sump Pump Failure and What to Do

6/19/2017 (Permalink)

Sump Pump Failure in Woolwich NJ, Flood Damage in Woolwich NJ, 7 Causes of Sump Pump Failure and What to Do

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 maintenance 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 US Department of Housing and Development 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.

Lightning and Thunderstorms in Woolwich NJ, and Helping Your Pets Overcome the Fear of Them,

6/8/2017 (Permalink)

Lightning and Thunderstorms in Woolwich NJ, and Helping Your Pets Overcome the Fear of Them,

Storm phobia. You call it your worst nightmare. Either way, we all want the same thing: A calmer dog who doesn’t have to suffer the psychological damage done by booming thunder, wicked lightning and plummeting barometric pressures.

And it’s not just their psyche at risk. We all know that dogs are capable of doing serious damage to themselves during stormy times of the year. Fractured claws, lacerations, broken teeth and bruises are but a few consequences. I’ve even seen broken limbs and witnessed one dramatic case of deadly hit-by-car when a neighbor’s dog ran wildly into the street (so you know, they do this...thinking they’re fleeing the storm).

So how do you handle thunderstorm phobia?

Here are tips:

1. Handle it early on in your dog’s life

Does your dog merely quake and quiver under the bed when it storms outside? Just because he doesn’t absolutely freak, doesn’t mean he’s not suffering. Since storm phobia is considered a progressive behavioral disease, signs like this should not be ignored. Each successive thunderstorm season is likely to bring out ever-worsening signs of fear. It’s time to take action...NOW!

2. Don’t heed advice to let her “sweat it out” or not to “baby” her

I’ve heard many pet owners explain that they don’t offer any consolation to their pets because they don’t want to reinforce the “negative behavior” brought on by a thunderstorm. But a severe thunderstorm is no time to tell your dog to “buck up and get strong.” Fears like this are irrational (after all, she’s safe indoors). Your dog won’t get it when you punish her for freaking out. Indeed, it’ll likely make her anxiety worse. Providing a positive or distracting stimulus is more likely to calm her down.

3. Offer treats, cuddlings and other good stuff when storms happen

This method is best employed before the phobia sets in––as pups. Associating loud booms with treats is never a bad thing, right?

4. Let him hide...in a crate

Hiding (as in a cave) is a natural psychological defense for dogs. Getting them used to a crate as pups has a tremendous influence on how comfortable they are when things scare them. Having a go-to place for relaxing or hiding away is an excellent approach, no matter what the fear. Another approach to try, whether he’s a pup or not.

5. Get him away from the noise...and compete with it

Creating a comfy place (for the crate or elsewhere) in a room that’s enclosed (like a closet or bathroom) may help a great deal. Adding in a loud radio or white noise machine can help, too. Or how about soothing, dog-calming music? Not only does this approach muffle sounds, it also means pets can avoid the...

5. Electromagnetism

Though it may sound like Voo-doo, your dog can also become sensitized to the electromagnetic radiation caused by lightning strikes. One great way to shield your dog from these potentially fear-provoking waves is to cover her crate with a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Another method involves clothing her in a commercially available “Storm Defender” cape that does the same work. If she hides under the bed, consider slipping a layer of aluminum fold between the box-spring and mattress.

6. Desensitize him

Sometimes it’s possible to allay the fears by using thunderstorm sound CDs when it’s not raging outside. Play it at a low volume while plying him with positive stimuli (like treats and pettings). Increase the volume all the while, getting to those uncomfortable booming sounds over a period of weeks. It works well for some.

7. Ask your veterinarian about drugs

Sure, there’s nothing so unsavory as the need for drugs to relieve dogs of their fears, but recognize that some fears will not be amenable to any of these other ministrations without drugs. If that’s the case, talk to your vet about it––please.

8. Natural therapies can work

For severe sufferers there’s no doubt it’ll be hard to ask a simple flower essence to do all the heavy lifting, but for milder cases, Bach flower extracts (as in Rescue Remedy), lavender oil (in a diffuser is best) and/or “Dog Appeasing Pheromone” (marketed as D.A.P. in a diffuser, spray or collar) can help.

9. Consider seeing a board certified veterinary behaviorist

If nothing else works, your dog should not have to suffer. Seek out the advice of your veterinarian and, if you’ve gone as far as you have with him/her, consider someone with unique training in these areas––perhaps a board certified veterinary behaviorist.

4 Fast Facts About Hail Damage To Your Property, in Woolwich, NJ

5/22/2017 (Permalink)

4 Fast Facts About Hail Damage To Your Property, in Woolwich, NJ

A powerful storm system blew through a large swath of the nation’s midsection, spawning deadly tornadoes, blowing cars off roads and causing property damage, including from hail.

Here are some hail facts, according to the National Weather Service:

HOW IT FORMS

Inside thunderstorms are warm updrafts and cold downdrafts. When a water drop is lifted, it can carry to temperatures below 32 degrees, freeze and then fall. As it falls it can thaw as it moves into warmer air, where it can get picked up again by another updraft, returning it to cold air where it refreezes. With each trip above and below freezing, it adds a layer of ice before it ultimately falls to earth as hail.

HAIL SIZES (diameter)

Pea: 1/4 inch

Marble: 1/2 inch

Penny: 3/4 inch

Nickel: 7/8 inch

Quarter: 1 inch (hail at least quarter size is considered severe)

Pingpong ball: 11/2 inch

Golf ball: 13/4 inch

Tennis ball: 21/2 inches

Baseball: 23/4 inches

Grapefruit: 4 inches

Softball: 41/2 inches

BIGGEST EVER

The largest recorded hailstone in the U.S. was nearly as big as a volleyball and fell on July 23, 2010, in Vivian, South Dakota. It was 8 inches in diameter and weighed almost 2 pounds.

DAMAGE DONE

Hail causes about $1 billion damage to crops and property annually. A hailstorm that hit Kansas City on April 10, 2001, was the costliest ever in the U.S., causing about $2 billion damage.

If a strong storm roars through, you may find your siding damaged by hail and shingles that the wind ripped off the roof. Homeowners insurance typically covers wind damage. Coverage also usually includes damage from hail, wind-driven rain or snow that gets inside the home when a roof or wall is damaged due to wind. Most policies also offer some coverage for fallen trees that damage your home, provided the tree broke because of a storm or wind.

Be Prepared

While homeowners insurance may help provide protection against the unexpected, it's a good idea to be prepared ahead of time. Taking measures to help prevent or minimize damage from bad weather or a harsh winter may save you a lot of time, energy and money.

Storm Damage, Property Insurance Tips, Prevention, and Costs, in Woolwich, NJ

5/17/2017 (Permalink)

Storm Damage, Property Insurance Tips, Prevention, and Costs, in Woolwich, NJ

When buying homeowners insurance there are several factors to consider. In areas where severe storms are common, it is especially important to understand the type of insurance policy you have, the limitations of your policy, what it covers and the types of storms for which you may not be covered.

Storm Damage Insurance Overview

Many homeowners have already experienced a severe hailstorm and witnessed the damage hail can cause to homes, automobiles, businesses and other property. When a hailstorm hits, it does the greatest amount of damage to the exterior of your home or property. Common types of damage caused by hail are: roof damage, siding damage, shingle damage, window damage and automobile damage.

Thunderstorms

Most standard homeowners policies, also known as HO-3 policies, cover both your home and its contents. Typically, you are covered against storm damage, theft, pet damage and some major disasters, such as tornadoes, hurricanes and hail.

Earthquakes and floods are usually not covered under most standard insurance policies and require a separate policy. Remember, home insurance policies do not cover poor maintenance or normal wear and tear, so it is a good idea to make sure your home is always properly maintained.

What to Do Before You Talk to an Insurance Agent

Before buying homeowners insurance, the first thing you need to determine is the replacement cost of your home. The replacement cost reflects the total cost to replace the structures on your property. This is typically different than the market value, or sales price of your home, which takes into account other factors including the value of your lot.

An easy way to figure out your replacement cost is to multiply the building cost per square foot of your home, with the number of total square feet. If you don't have a good sense of building costs for your area, any local contractor should be able to give you a good idea of average building costs in your area.

Once you know your replacement cost, you'll have a good idea of what your insured liability limit should be. Liability limit is the amount of coverage you have if something, such as a tornado or other serious storm, destroys your home. Most experts recommend liability limits equal to the replacement cost, so if your home is totally destroyed your insurance will cover the costs to restore or rebuild your home, including living expenses if you are unable to inhabit your home.

If you live in an area prone to flooding, make sure you obtain flood insurance, which is typically a separate policy. If you have questions about your coverage, check with your insurance agent and make sure you have a solid understanding of your coverage, especially as it relates to serious storm damage or other catastrophic losses.

In states where a severe tornado not only threatens your home and its contents, it is important to understand the difference between actual cash value insurance and replacement value insurance. Actual cash value insurance compensates you for the actual, depreciated value of the items in your home. So, if you have a TV that originally cost $500, but is now worth $100, your insurance will pay you $100 if it is destroyed.

For homeowners with expensive electronics, art, and other furnishings, replacement value insurance is a smart way to go. Replacement value pays you the full amount it would cost to replace a broken, damaged or missing item. So, if a storm destroys a $4,000 plasma TV inside your home, your insurance will cover the full $4,000 replacement value of your TV, and whatever else is damaged inside your home, minus the cost of your deductible, up to the limits of your policy. If you own very expensive individual items, such as original art, or valuable jewelry, you might consider insuring those items individually, under a separate policy.

Whatever type of insurance you choose, it's always wise to take an inventory of the items in your home. If your home is completely destroyed, you will not be able to remember all of the items you own, unless you have a detailed inventory and pictures of what is inside. It is always a good idea to store your inventory list and pictures in a separate, secure location, such as a bank safety deposit box. If you have a digital camera, take pictures and email them to yourself, along with your inventory list.

A deductible is the amount you are required to pay out of pocket before your insurance kicks in. Typically homeowners insurance deductibles range from $250 to over $1,000. So, if your home is damaged by a hailstorm and incurs $10,000 in damages and you have a $500 deductible, the insurance company will pay $9,500 towards your repairs. The higher your deductible, the lower your premium will be.

When deciding on a deductible, make sure it's an amount you can come up with easily, that won't create a financial strain or hardship. Some companies are now offering policies with high deductibles, including deductibles that are calculated as a percentage of your home's value. For example, if your home is worth $200,000 and you have a 2% deductible, you will have to come up with $4,000 before your insurance pays anything. While these types of policies can offer a lower premium, make sure you are able to cover the cost of the deductible, in case a severe storm or disaster hits your area.

Shopping for Homeowners Insurance

When shopping for a homeowners policy, it is smart to check out several different insurance companies. Different insurance companies offer a wide range of coverage levels, discounts and prices. Don't just shop the companies you know best, but search for the policy that works best for your situation. If you come across a policy that looks good, but is offered by a company you haven't heard of, it's easy to check out their background. Here are three websites you can use to investigate the financial strength of an insurance company:

When selecting a policy, start by researching your area. You'll want to have a firm understanding of the storm damage history of your neighborhood related to:

  • Hailstorms
  • Tornadoes
  • Wind Storms
  • Flooding
  • Earthquakes
  • Natural Disasters

Make sure the insurance policy you select adequately covers storms and natural disasters in your area. Watch out for insurance companies known for unfairly denying claims. Every year, the American Justice Association publishes a list of the 10 Worst Insurance Companies. If your insurance company is on the list and your insurance claim has been denied, make sure you connect with a reputable contractor with the experience to fight for your rights.

Saving Money on Homeowners Insurance

There are many factors insurance companies take into account when determining the price of your insurance premium. Some factors that affect the cost of your premium may include:

  • History of a severe storm or disaster in your area
  • Neighborhood crime levels
  • Quality of building materials in your home
  • Building costs in your area
  • Size and overall condition of your home
  • Distance from a fire station

You may be eligible for a discount on your insurance premium by making certain improvements to your home, which can add up to significant savings. The following list of improvements will not just result in savings, but will make your home safer as well.

  • Impact resistant roofing shingles
  • Shatterproof windows
  • Storm shutters
  • Reinforced tile or slate roof

Most states prohibit insurance companies from canceling your insurance policy or singling you out for a rate increase for filing a storm damage claim. If you live in an area with a high propensity for severe storms or other natural disasters, you should expect premiums to be higher.

Insurance companies can raise rates for everyone living in a storm prone area. If this is the case, your rate will increase whether or not you file an insurance damage claim. So, if your home has been damaged by a tornado, hailstorm, severe wind, or other type of natural disaster, it is in your best interest to file an insurance claim to pay for the damage. If you fail to file a claim, your increase in premium will pay for everyone's repairs except for yours.

If you have storm damage to your home or commercial building, then you may need to file an insurance claim.

snow stats

1/10/2017 (Permalink)

snow

The insurance industry estimates the Blizzard of March 2003 was the most expensive winter storm from snow and ice damage in New jersey history. The estimated price tag was at least $93.3 million from more than 28,000 claims filed ($119.7 million in 2014 dollars). Most of the larger carriers activated their emergency catastrophe teams who specialize in handling disaster claims. This estimate is for damage to homes and automobiles and excludes the large commercial building losses resulting from the blizzard.

The lion's share of the damage was the result of wet, heavy snow causing collapses to roofs, porches, awnings, carports and outbuildings. There was also significant damage from downed trees and limbs, along with claims for wind, snow melt leakage, food spoilage and out-of-pocket living expenses for people forced out of their home due to storm damage. Most of the vehicle damage was due to being crushed rather than weather-related accidents.

"One of the biggest factors that has impacted the high insurance price tag of this storm is the rising cost to fix and rebuild homes in this current building market," says Carole Walker, Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association. "The average cost per homeowner insurance claim is more than $3,500 and many homes were completely destroyed due to roof collapses and structural damage."

Black ice

1/9/2017 (Permalink)

snow

Watch out for black ice

What is black ice?

Black ice is actually invisible ice that is almost totally transparent. It can easily catch drivers off-guard and cause crashes.

How and where does black ice form?

Black ice forms when the air temperature is warmer than pavement, which causes moisture to rapidly freeze and creates a thin, transparent layer of ice on the roadway.

What can I do to be safer?

  • Slow down on bridges, overpasses and tunnels, and in the early morning when the air temperature is rising faster than the pavement temperature
  • Avoid applying brakes on ice as it may cause a vehicle to skid
  • Do not use cruise control during winter driving conditions
  • Use a safe speed for winter driving conditions, regardless of the posted speed limit
  • Keep a safe stopping distance from the vehicle in front of you
  • Do not use a cell phone while driving and remember that texting is prohibited while driving in Minnesota
  • Keep both hands on the steering wheel, your eyes on the road and your attention on your driving

flooding

1/6/2017 (Permalink)

flooding

Flooding in the USA

Flash flooding is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S.- approximately 200 deaths per year (1)

  • Over 50% of flood-related drownings are vehicle-related. (1)

    U.S. Flood Insurance Loss Statistics
    Jan 1, 1978 through Sep 30, 2001: (4)

    RankingTotal Payments1. Texas
    $2,249,450,933.34
    2. Louisiana
    $1,542,959,989.27
    3. Florida
    $1,479,585,524.19
    4. New Jersey
    $577,019,343.82
    5. North Carolina
    $550,946,543.87
    6. South Carolina
    $414,951,356.42
    7. Missouri
    $407,742,372.26
    8. New York
    $360,534,936.08
    9. California
    $353,244,485.27
    10. Pennsylvania
    $313,186,521.60
  • Call SERVPRPO for any questions you may have.