Archived Blog Posts
Vacant Homes and Mold Growth
Vacant homes or unattended homes have unique issues that can that increase the likelihood of mold growth. These homes are locked up without inhabitants coming or going, turning on the heat, running air exchangers or ventilation fans, and have restricted air flow. Thus moisture or condensation can build up inside and create an ideal climate for mold. To thrive mold needs moisture, oxygen, a food source and a surface on which to grow; easily available within a residence. Mold spores are abundant in our environment, and once a mold spore has attached itself to dust particles, which provides the nutrients needed, all the spore needs is moisture.
Procrastinate where mold cleaning is necessary can be a costly decision. If mold spores are allowed to proliferate, you may be faced with extensive structural damage to your home and possibly loss of property value. Today’s buyers are very leery about investing into a home with visible mold contamination. Additionally, consumers are very aware that some molds species can produce toxins and allergens.
The remediation priority would be to correct the excessive of moisture build up in the residence. Remediation would include 1) water proofing, 2) corrective measures to secure windows and doors, 3) create healthy air flow. etc. After the corrective measures to reduce the moisture, professional mold remediation of all affected structural materials, contents, and HVAC system would need to be completed. If the issues that are causing the elevated moisture are not corrected prior to remediation services, after a period of time, the home would again become unhealthy.
If you determine that your home or business has a mold problem, and the source of the moisture intrusion has been corrected, SERVPRO of Canton can inspect and assess your property. If mold remediation is needed, we have the training, equipment, and expertise to handle the situation.
Evaluating Mold: Air Sample Testing
All buildings contain mold spores since they a natural part of the environment. An elevated mold count especially one that contains spores from varieties of mold that are commonly found when water damage is involved, such as stachybotrys chartarum, can indicate that there may be a structural moisture problem.
In the insurance claim process, mold testing in is generally utilized after the mold has been remediated to confirm that the mold spore count is at or below the count found outside the building. The test is conducted while the remediated area is contained in order to confirm the success of the cleaning process.
Determination of airborne spore counts is accomplished by way of an air sample, in which a specialized pump with a known flow rate is operated for a known period of time. Conducive to scientific methodology, air samples should be drawn from the affected area, a control area, and the exterior.
The air sampler pump draws in air and deposits microscopic airborne particles on a culture medium. The medium is cultured in a laboratory and the fungal genus and species are determined by visual microscopic observation. Laboratory results also quantify fungal growth by way of a spore count for comparison among samples. The pump operation time was recorded and when multiplied by the operation time results in a specific volume of air obtained. Although a small volume of air is actually analyzed, common laboratory reporting techniques extrapolate the spore count data to equate the amount of spores that would be present in a cubic meter of air.
If you have questions or need further information about the mold testing process, contact SERVPRO of Canton at 800-648-1212.
How to determine if I can handle the mold clean up in my house?
Do I need a professional mold remediation company?
Firstly, the source of the water intrusion needs to be resolved. If the source continues to allow water intrusion, the home will eventually return to an unhealthy condition.
You might want to consult a mold remediation company….
- If the visible mold spores affected area, from tip to tip, is larger than a 10 square foot area
- If you suspect that the heating ventilation system may be contaminated
- If the original water was from a black water source (sewage contamination)
- If you have health concerns of the occupants
There are numerous mold cleaning products on the market for consumer use. It is best not to use OVER USE any harsh chemicals. Simply scrub hard surfaces with a detergent and water, and let the area dry. It is very important to use personal protective equipment while cleaning: eyes, hands, and respiratory system. Upon completion of the cleaning, the area should be free of visible mold spores and musty, moldy odors (mold staining on structural materials may still be present). It is critical to monitor the affected area for a few months to make sure the area does not return to unhealthy. The area needs to continue to be dry, clean and odor free. If the area again begins to deteriorate, go back to correction of the source of water intrusion. It is possible that the original correction was not sufficient or there might a secondary source of water intrusion.
If you determine that your home or business has a mold problem, and the source of the moisture intrusion has been corrected, SERVPRO of Canton can inspect and assess your property. If professional mold remediation is needed, we have the training, equipment, and expertise to handle the situation.
Lack of flood insurance heaps misery on homeowners slammed by Hurricane Florence
The drenching rains and massive flooding caused by Florence are expected to inflict a high financial toll on homeowners in North Carolina and other states, as only a small percentage are covered by flood insurance that could help offset the costs of rebuilding their damaged homes.
An estimated quarter of a million homes in North Carolina are projected to be affected by Florence, which has caused flash flooding and record rain amounts across the state, according to CoreLogic, a property analytics company.
Estimates from insurance analysts and actuaries show an alarmingly high percentage of homeowners – both in coastal towns and those far inland – that are underinsured for a water-driven natural disaster as destructive as Florence.
Only 10 percent to 20 percent of coastal homeowners in the hard-hit eastern part of North Carolina, for example, have coverage through the government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and only 1 percent to 3 percent of homes in inland counties have flood policies, according to estimates from John Rollins, an actuary at consulting firm Milliman. Statewide, roughly 3 percent of the homes in North Carolina have flood coverage and 8 percent of homeowners are covered in South Carolina, Rollins said.
“Obviously, that leaves a lot of people uninsured,” Rollins told USA TODAY.
The numbers of those covered are low, he said, because people think that because their home isn't in a high-risk zone designated by the government that there's "zero risk" of a flood. "But that's not true," Rollins says. Many also don't realize their basic homeowners policy doesn't cover flood damage, while others overestimate the disaster aid they will get from the government.
Unfortunately, standard homeowners insurance won’t cover any flooding-related issues. The estimated insured losses from Florence are in the range of $3 billion to $5 billion, according to CoreLogic. Goldman Sachs, a Wall Street bank, said they could go as high as $10 billion to $20 billion.
Insurers should have no problem being able to pay out claims to policy holders because the industry has cash reserves of roughly half a trillion dollars, according to Matt Carletti, senior insurance analyst at JMP Securities.
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The problem for homeowners is that insured losses generally are only about one-third of total economic losses, which puts them on the hook financially for a more sizable part of their home rebuilds if losses are due to uncovered flood costs, Carletti said.
To get flood coverage, homeowners must buy a separate policy. Most purchase this extra coverage from the government-backed NFIP program, which is designed to restore your home to its preflood condition and replace your possessions. NFIP policies, which carry average premiums of about $600 to $700 a year but can run into the thousands of dollars in high-risk zones, cover up to $250,000 for a home's structure and up to $100,000 for personal possessions.
Homeowners not covered for flood damage can seek federal disaster assistance in the form of grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or apply for a loan from the Small Business Administration, said Steve Bowen, meteorologist for Aon Benfield's Impact Forecasting division. FEMA may provide up to $33,000 in assistance for home repair, although the average for Superstorm Sandy in 2012 was about $8,000 and roughly $7,100 for Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
At the end of July, there were 134,306 active NFIP flood policies in place in North Carolina, Bowen said. That's only 3 percent of the estimated 4.62 million housing units in the state, he said, citing U.S. Census Bureau data.
Damage to homes caused by floods tend to be costly. The estimated potential loss for a 1,000-square-foot, single-story home with possessions worth $20,000 that is inundated with just 1 inch of interior water can run as high as $11,000, according to FEMA data, and the estimated loss for 5 inches of water climbs to more than $18,000.
Given the fact that many parts of North Carolina have received rain totals of 2 feet or more, many homeowners will be facing high rebuild costs they may not be able to afford.
“You are looking at a lot of homeowners that will have out-of-pocket costs that could easily be five figures, or more than $10,000,” said Cathy Seifert, an insurance analyst at CFRA, a Wall Street research firm.
Insurance coverage for drain, sewer and sump pump problems
Analysis brought to you by the experts at FC&S Online, the recognized authority on insurance coverage interpretation and analysis for the P&C industry. To find out more — or to have YOUR coverage question answered — visit the National Underwriter website, or contact the editors via Twitter: @FCSbulletins.
Question: This is a Commercial Property risk. I have a toilet that continued to run as the toilet stopper did not seal properly. All would be fine except the heavy rains saturated the drain field not allowing the water to drain from the toilet. This resulted in an overflow causing damage.
The insured has a $10,000 limit on discharge from sewer, drain, or sump from a CP 73 51 endorsement.
Does this limit apply or would it be considered a loss under the normal limits? But for the saturated drain field, there would be no loss. The drain field caused the water to not be able to drain properly; is that a back-up by definition?
— North Carolina Subscriber
Answer: Endorsement CP 73 51 is a proprietary endorsement that includes additional coverage for Discharge From Sewer, Drain Or Sump (Not Flood-Related), up to a $10,000 limit in the endorsement. This response is in regards to the water damage claim submitted for our review. Here are the facts as presented:
- A toilet ran continuously due to a stopper that did not seal properly. The toilet overflowed.
- The drain field overflowed due to heavy rains.
- The drain field is tied to the septic system serving the insured property.
Based on these facts, there are two causes of loss, and we cannot determine the extent of damage from each cause of loss:
- What caused the toilet stopper to not seal properly? Was it wear and tear or faulty workmanship? What interior water damage resulted from the toilet overflow?
- What caused the drain field to overflow? Despite heavy rains, it should still have absorbed the water. So what factors may have contributed to the drain field overflow? Was sludge or other obstruction a contributing factor? What interior water damage resulted from the drain overflow?
This is not an expert opinion, just personal experience with a broken toilet flapper. Regardless of how much the toilet ran, it never ran outside the toilet bowl because the drain carried out the water. If the drain was stopped up, not allowing the water to flow through the drain, then the water could back up and out from the toilet bowl, causing interior water damage.
If the water damage was caused by the broken toilet seal, there would be no coverage.
If the water damage was caused by the drain field overflow, then there would be limited coverage of $10,000 for Discharge From Sewer, Drain Or Sump (Not Flood-Related) provided in the proprietary endorsement CP 73 51.
However, this is an issue of fact, not coverage. We can only speak to the coverages that would be provided in the forms based on the two causes of loss as presented.
Washing machine overflow
Question: Our property coverage contains an exclusion for flood. Included under the flood definition is the exclusion of water or sewage that backs up through sewers, drains or sumps. It also excludes overflow of any body of water.
We have a claim where the fire department put a load of clothes in the washing machine and was called out on a run. During the washing cycle, water overflowed into the building due to the drain being frozen from an ice storm. This was while the firefighters were gone performing their duties. When they returned, the building was flooded, damaging carpet and sheet-rock. Is this covered?
— Oklahoma Subscriber
Answer: We do not see an exclusion that would apply in this situation. It doesn’t sound as if the water actually went down a drain and then backed up. The washing machine overflowed because water could not go down the frozen drain, which would not constitute a backup. So, in our opinion, the loss is covered.
Sump pump and water backup
Question: One of the more common claims we handle deals with sump pumps and applicable exclusions. In this case, the business owner’s policy contains the following provision, “We will pay for loss or damage to covered property caused by water that backs up from a sewer or drain, subject to the following limitations: We will not pay for loss or damage under this Additional Coverage caused by the emanation of water from a sewer or drain that itself is caused by, or is the result of “flood,” surface water, waves, tides, tidal waves, overflow of any body of water or their spray, all whether driven by wind or not;”.
Carrier issued a denial, as follows:
In view of the cited exclusions, the water damage to the basement is the result of flood and groundwater; therefore, we would not make a payment for this loss.
The loss was not caused by flood or surface water, but a high water table that overwhelmed the pump’s capability to function due to two major rain events one year ago. When the water table receded, the pump functioned so it was not failure in the sense one thinks of failure, i.e., mechanical or electrical. Water entered through the sump, through some cracks in the floor.
My belief is that this is a covered loss. I could not find any information on the definition of “sump pump,” the purpose of a sump pump, or the definition of “groundwater.”
The carrier used the term “groundwater” in the denial. That is not addressed in the endorsement.
— Connecticut Subscriber
Answer: It does not sound like the water backed up through the sump pump but in fact came through the cracks in the floor.
This type of loss would be subject to the part of the water exclusion that states, “Water under the ground surface pressing on, or flowing through… floors… basements.” (This can be seen in the ISO BP 00 03 01 10, B.1.g.) If the insured has purchased sewer and drain backup coverage, it would not apply to this type of loss. However, if it can be shown that the water really did overflow or was discharged from the sump (as opposed to seeping in through floor cracks), that would be covered.
The ‘whys’ behind lack of flood insurance coverage
One of the ongoing issues with hurricanes and other flood disasters is the fact that many, many people lack flood insurance. But why is that? Why are people not buying the coverage they need?
The Private Risk Management Association (PRMA) conducted a survey of agents about why their insureds do or do not carry flood insurance. We had the chance to talk to Lisa Lindsay of PRMA about the study and its results.
Their study showed that across the board, whether high net worth or not, people’s mindset is that “It won’t happen to me.” Flood insurance is seen as something homeowners are required to have, not something they need to protect their assets. The study showed that many people only buy flood insurance because the bank says they have to. They later celebrate when they’re no longer required to hold flood insurance because their mortgage has been paid off.
Likewise, consumers have been conditioned to believe that unless they are in a high-hazard flood zone, coverage is not needed. The fact that flooding occurs in many non-high hazard areas is overlooked. It’s not just coastal areas that flood, but areas near rivers, streams and even low-lying areas in towns where runoff can accumulate often flood, causing unsuspecting homeowners damage that’s not covered by their normal homeowners’ policy.
Better understanding of mitigation efforts
Not only do people need a better understanding of flood insurance, but they also need a better understanding of mitigation efforts, that is, steps they can take to prevent or minimize flooding and reduce the potential damage. Sandbags, inflatable barriers and landscaping are just some ways people can prepare for a flood. Both the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policy and the new ISO Personal Flood Policy provide up to $1,000 for steps taken to protect the insured building from flood or imminent danger of flood. The $1,000 is provided for the cost of:
- Sandbags and sand to fill them,
- Fill for temporary levees,
- Plastic sheeting, and
- Lumber used in connection with these items.
As most insureds don’t read their policies, it’s likely that most are unaware of these coverage benefits for mitigation of damages.
Private flood policies to the rescue?
With the concern surrounding the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), carriers are beginning to issue private flood policies. For example, one carrier has a private flood policy with limits up to $15 million on property, much higher than the NFIP limits of $250,000.
ISO has developed both a Commercial Flood program and a Personal Flood program, both available this year. The expansion of available coverage should be a tremendous help in getting homeowners insured. However, education of agents and the public is key.
Better analytics is helping to make private coverage possible; instead of just referring to the standard flood maps, which may be out of date, there are companies providing better analysis of property that includes rainfall, local topography, elevation and susceptibility to hurricanes, not just for rains but for winds and storm surge as well.
Although flood insurance can be expensive in some places, in many areas that’s not the case. As a result, property owners don’t investigate their options for coverage.
Another issue is construction itself. Builders resist changes to codes to make properties safer while continuing to want to rebuild in areas that have been flooded. If building is going to occur in such areas, the buildings need to be built in a way to protect the property as much as possible from flooding. People also get a false sense of security from the fact that the town has allowed buildings to be constructed in low-lying areas, figuring that if zoning approved of the area it must be safe to construct a home in that area.
Understanding the 100-year flood
Yet another large issue is the misperception of the 100-year flood. Many people believe that this means that the chance of their property being flooded is one in 100 years. What it really means is that every year there is a 1% chance of flood. This puts the property at significant risk, as not only do 100-year storms need to be accounted for, but other storms as well.
Time Period10 Yr.25 Yr.50 Yr.100 YrTotal Odds1 yr.10%4%2%1%17%10 yr.65%34%18%10%127%20 yr.88%56%33%18%195%30 yr.96%71%45%26%238%50 yr.99%87%64%39%289%
Source: FC&S Online
The overarching issue is how to educate both the public and the industry on flood mitigation techniques and the availability of insurance coverage. The industry needs to inform people of not only what their risk is but also about the available risk evaluation tools, mitigation techniques and available coverage. Agents and brokers need to be well informed in order to proactively change the narrative of flooding and coverage.
It's Your Business: Fire Prevention & Recovery
What If a Fire Strikes?
Despite everything, a fire can strike. Being prepared will help reduce its devastating effects. The first few minutes following a fire are the most significant; any inappropriate action or inaction at this stage can have far-reaching consequences. Just as the appropriate first aid applied immediately after of an accidental injury can save life and promote rapid recovery, the correct response to a fire can keep effects minimal.
When a fire occurs, notify the fire department, the police department, and the insurance company. Next, call a disaster restoration company to help prevent further damage. Because fire departments usually do not recommend specific disaster restoration professionals, a business should reference its contingency plan or contact its insurance company immediately to ascertain the restoration company to call, and then work with that company to minimize damage and business interruption.
By evaluating the materials and surfaces affected, a disaster restoration company can provide an understanding of the fire's chemistry and allow for a targeted, informed restoration effort. Even though each fire's chemistry differs, one of the most important things disaster restoration companies do immediately is wipe down the affected areas to avoid further damage caused by humidity and acidic residues. They will use air scrubbers, which are highly filtered air machines, so soot particles will not recontaminate air and will limit redistribution of contaminated particles while restoration work continues. They will pull all filters from the HVAC system, clean and recondition the system, and then install new filters.
A fire can involve well more than 100 chemical elements. A fire at a business is usually a complex fire, the result of incomplete combustion and fueled by synthetic materials, including those found in carpets, furniture, plumbing, and other equipment. Complex fires cause the most damage and leave the most waste, but disaster restoration professionals can professionally handle the cleanup and restoration.
How small businesses can better protect themselves
Even the best-run small businesses face the risk that external factors beyond their control, like a natural disaster, could derail operations.
A recent joint survey conducted by Insureon and Manta revealed that approximately 60% of small business owners don’t have either a formal disaster recovery plan or business interruption insurance, both of which could help them bounce back if an unforeseen event like Hurricane Florence forces their business to temporarily close.
Natural disasters are unpredictable such as the recent wildfires in California are unpredictable. Out-of-control fires in Yosemite threatened the livelihood of small business owners in the hospitality industry, with one innkeeper estimating a loss of at least $20,000. Other local businesses, such as guided tour and day trip operators, faced the possibility of serious financial losses and the need to dip into savings to cover operating expenses.
While a disaster recovery plan won’t completely insulate small businesses from problems caused by Mother Nature, a well-thought-out strategy can help minimize the impact. In addition to purchasing commercial property insurance to help pay for repairs to damaged property, business owners should also consider buying a business interruption insurance policy. Not only can it help expedite recovery from a disaster, it can also minimize a business’ financial losses.
Developing a comprehensive disaster recovery plan
In the event of a natural disaster, small businesses may be forced to temporarily close. Unfortunately, not all businesses are equipped to survive a prolonged shutdown. According to the survey, 31 percent of owners don’t know if their companies would be able to resume operations if they had to close for longer than one month, with an additional 13 percent confident that they would definitely not be able to reopen. However, only 39 percent of small business owners surveyed said they have a formal disaster recovery plan in place.
Disaster recovery plans can help business owners act fast to protect their company’s infrastructure and get the business back up and running as quickly as possible. Some information to consider including in a recovery plan includes:
- A list of key contacts, such as the insurance company, utility companies, suppliers and financial institutions
- A detailed plan of what steps employees should take in the event of an emergency
- A communication plan for notifying customers and vendors of the closure
- Documents and resources that are critical to the business’ operations
To keep everyone in the loop, employers may want to review disaster recovery plans with employees during on-boarding, and hold annual emergency response drills.
Why add business interruption insurance?
Companies face more than just physical damage from natural disasters; they also experience financial losses from being forced to halt operations for a period of time.
While property insurance can pay to repair building damage caused by a wildfire, business interruption insurance covers the potential income lost during a temporary closure. These payout amounts are usually based on income and expense records, so business owners should carefully store copies of these documents in a safe, off-site location.
Business interruption insurance can vary from policy to policy, but typically provides coverage for the following three things:
- Profits an owner would have earned if the business was not forced to close
- Normal operating expenses, including employee wages, taxes and loan payments
- Temporary relocation expenses, such as moving and rent costs
Business interruption insurance usually will not cover costs related to utilities, income that isn’t properly documented and losses caused by a partial closure.
Some policies might not protect against every natural disaster. For example, if events like wildfires are not covered by a proprietor’s property insurance policy, their business interruption policy won’t cover expenses related to wildfires either. For total protection, proprietors should verify with their insurance carriers that their policies cover common natural events that are specific to their geographical vicinity.
Above all, small businesses can best prepare by taking a proactive approach to disaster recovery planning. In the absence of a plan or adequate insurance, small business owners are putting themselves at risk for significant financial losses that could force some to permanently close. With the right combination of preparedness and comprehensive insurance, business owners can ensure they are ready for anything Mother Nature throws their way.
Disaster recovery for agents, brokers & claims professionals
A hurricane is coming. You’ve implemented your business’s emergency preparedness plan. You’ve boarded up your brick-and-mortar location in the storm’s path. You’ve ensured your staff’s safety. You’ve secured your CRM data at an offsite, low-risk location (or in the cloud), and armed your staff with printouts just in case. You’ve mobilized your claims workforce. And you’ve prepared your clients with disaster-specific risk mitigation and claims reporting information.
But are you ready for what comes next?
After a weather-related catastrophe passes, agents, brokers and claims professionals must be prepared to ride out the next storm: the onslaught of claims. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey resulted in nearly 670,000 combined personal and commercial property insurance claims to private insurers, the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association and the Texas Fair Access to Insurance Requirement Plan, according to the Texas Department of Insurance. All those insureds expect a prompt, professional response, and rightfully so.
Here are seven tips to help you get back to business with minimal interruption.
1. Keep an eye on the weather
Large storms seldom follow their forecasted track. Watch for changes in weather patterns and reach out to high-risk insureds — such as large car dealerships or marinas — that might be impacted by a sudden shift in the storm track, so they can relocate their assets if possible and take all necessary precautions.
Then, stay in touch with emergency management officials. To provide timely outreach to your clients, you’ll need to know when roads will re-open and when it will be safe to bring claims representatives into the area.
2. Set up temporary offices
Today, power outages from storms don’t bring businesses to a halt. Wi-Fi hotspots mean your insureds may be able to stay connected with their mobile devices. You should too. For agents and brokers, this may mean working “virtually” — from homes, hotel rooms or coffee shops — rather than finding a temporary brick-and-mortar location. Claims professionals (especially CAT adjusters) are accustomed to finding Wi-Fi hotspots wherever they go so they can determine coverage, assess damages and resolve claims without interruption.
3. Mobilize your claims force
Start to determine how many claims professionals you’ll need on the ground to assess the damage. Know the physical location of CAT adjusters and how to contact and deploy them as needed so they can reach out to your clients and help them calculate property loss and business interruption loss.
4. Determine your priorities
For agents and brokers, making sure your clients are safe and handling their first-notice-of-loss response will be your two biggest business priorities in the immediate aftermath of a storm. Determine what your staff can handle, and what they can’t. Small or mid-sized retail agents or brokers may ask their clients to report claims directly to the carrier. The agent or broker should also understand all their carriers’ documentation and estimate requirements for clients who sustained smaller losses that don’t need to be inspected by the carrier. In any event, the agent or broker will still need to follow up on the progress of all claims.
It’s also important to be aware of carrier binding suspensions, state moratoriums on non-pay and other cancellations, and other guidelines, procedures and processes that might be disrupted by the weather event.
Another option may be to outsource some of those critical business functions to an external vendor that specializes in insurance operations and business process management. If you’re already working with such a vendor, this is a natural next step. If you’re seeking such a vendor, look for one with offshore and on-shore capabilities and practical business continuity plans not tied to a physical location that can help you minimize business interruption.
5. Keep your insureds informed
This is where an agent or broker’s online presence will pay major dividends. Use your website and your social media channels to let your insureds know you’re back in business, who to call, where to submit claims, and how to contact you, your staff and their carrier.
6. Rely on your data
Gather analytics around the property or assets you insure and track the potential loss. For example, if you know you insure 1,000 homeowners who were in the swath of the hurricane, you can calculate the potential impact beforehand, and then re-calculate based on the storm’s actual path. This will give you the data you need to comprehend the number and severity of claims you and your staff may be handling.
7. Plan better the next time
No matter how well you plan, the days after a weather catastrophe will be frenetic. But proper planning will help you ensure business continuity.
I spent 20 years working in carrier claims departments, and have been a part of organizations helping people recover from serious storms since Hurricane Gloria hit New York City in 1985. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that the right time to help in a natural disaster is both before and after.
In the days after Hurricane Harvey, we at ReSource Pro offered our clients help with their priority work, for example. We rerouted our impacted clients’ calls to our on-shore center and handled loss reporting calls, and we followed up with carriers and insureds to confirm adjuster assignments. We leveraged offshore locations to handle first-notice-of-loss data entry for impacted clients.
Although that helped clients after the storm, helping clients prepare for the next storm is just as crucial. That’s why I advise our clients that, when you work with external vendors, ask them to do a portion of work on a regular basis. If you anticipate asking a vendor to handle first-notice-of-loss data entry during a storm, having them do a portion of that work with some frequency during normal business operations ensures a smooth transition — and familiarity — with the work during an emergency.
This will ensure your external strategic partner knows your processes, understands your clients, and is prepared to offer seamless support when catastrophe strikes. You’ll gain a level of confidence in your business partner that will keep your clients satisfied, which in turn will become a key differentiator for your agency or brokerage.
Ask Annissa: How Do I Handle Sensitive Documents Damaged in a Fire Loss?
What’s the best way to handle and clean personal papers in a fire loss that have been damaged by soot and also smell? The homeowner wants to keep them and won’t let me throw them away.
Personal papers like bills, canceled checks, credit card statements and everyday magazines have no value in the eyes of the insurance company and they often don’t want to pay for them to be cleaned or deodorized. However, they often have value to the homeowner.
The biggest problem with this is that paper can hold a lot of odor and may re-contaminate the house once everything is unpacked. So first off, we check with the homeowner and see if the paperwork is something that they can live without. Or is it really important and needs to be kept? Once you explain that the papers can hold a lot of odor and may cause recontamination of the house and belongings, this will sometimes make the homeowner more aggressive about putting them in the round file.
If the paperwork cannot be parted with and must go on the “keep it list,” then we dust them off and organize them into a large 11x14 inch spec bag. This is a heavy duty plastic bag that keeps the odor and contamination contained until the homeowner can photo copy or reprint the documents they want to keep. The cost to the insurance company to handle them this way is really no more than their cost would be to throw them away, so this keeps your adjuster and homeowner happy.
This also allows the homeowner to go through the papers at their convenience as they are dealing with a lot of pressing decisions in the first few days after a fire. Having one less pressing thing to have to handle right away can be a huge relief for them.
Selecting the Proper Drying Equipment for Commercial Restoration
In May we looked at the different players in the commercial market. This time we will delve into the twisted and somewhat misunderstood world of equipment. Many restorers still use the “WOT” method of equipment selection, as in “Whatever’s On the Truck.”
I want you now to consider the “WHAT” method, as in “Whatever the Project Requires.” Have you ever lost a bid when you were sure you charged less per day for air movers or labor than anyone else? You may have thought someone had the inside track and maybe so, but most likely you lost the bid on the total bottom line, not on just the bid price.
As we discussed, it is the occupant that pays rent to the owner, who then pays the bank and insurance. So if we keep the tenants happy, we have a better chance of keeping everyone pleased. A successful selection of equipment and deployment depends on the parameters of the job not what you have on hand.
So what are the parameters? How do I get to the total bottom line? Once again, Zig Zigler says it the best: “You can get what you want if you just help enough of the right people get what they want.”
We now know who the right people are; we just need to provide them with a finished project with as little cost and interruption to their services as possible. This is what they want.
Imagine a disaster has just struck your business: fire, flood, earthquake, tornado or maybe like me by a little hurricane called Katrina. After making sure everyone is safe, what are your concerns about your business? Can I stay open? Can I get supplies from my vendors? How long will it take to get the place back together? How are we going to pay for it all? Make sure everyone involved is on the same page
Our job is to help answer these questions and provide the best overall solution. This is Bottom Line Drying. What we need to do is combine these concerns and needs with equipment available on the market to produce the best result. The fundamentals of drying dictate that adding energy (heat) to a material while passing the driest available air over its porous surface will invoke evaporation of unwanted moisture from the material and thus the building itself. We call it HAT (Humidity, Airflow and Temperature).
(I like “HATE” better. The E stands for Evaporation, but I don’t want to be the one called out for preaching hate in this day and age. But it is probably OK to HATE water – it doesn’t have much of a lobby in Washington!)
Seriously, let’s look at the parameters individually and deploy equipment accordingly.
The first is, can the business stay open? This is determined by structural integrity: Is it safe for occupancy? Can the occupants vendors supply the occupant with the materials or services needed in order to conduct business on a day to day basis? Is there Business Interruption Insurance?
This is of primary concern, because the occupancy of the building is one of the most important factors when developing an allowable temperature range. If people are going to be in the building shopping, eating or working, then noise and temperature level – as well as equipment visibility – are important considerations. So large equipment located away from customers, with air movers on low, and comfortable temperatures are best. You may even need to constantly relocate air movers for aesthetic reasons.
By the way, a hot-air drying unit works fine here if it is cool and dry outside, or you can use localized or “spot” heating for specific, tough-to-dry materials. If the business will be closed for a few days, we do not have creature comfort or visibility concerns, but we have to check on materials and products in the building before we allow for elevated temperature drying (generally above 80 F). Use the right equipment to suit the project’s needs
The building’s design is the second most important consideration. You must understand, this consists of the building’s construction materials and physical layout as well as the contents. Most building materials have no problems handling temperatures up to 120 degrees and most materials, especially the denser or less permeable, actually dry better in these higher temperatures.
Please be careful on total temperature (air or material), because sprinkler systems are part of many commercial buildings and their heads are designed to rupture on temperature, not from sensing flame, and some are rated as low as 130 degrees. (How good is your liability insurance? Want to find out?)
The contents are a mixed bag of every material you can imagine, and many are sensitive to temperature or even low humidity – operational computers or server rooms are obviously concerned with high temperature, but low humidity may induce static discharges into the system, doing serious damage.
You need to consult with the occupants and building engineer about temperature- or humidity-sensitive items, and get them to sign off on any elevated temperature drying so you will not be held responsible for something you did not know was there.
The layout generally determines air mover placement and quantity, but it also very important to the drying system selection: LGRs, desiccants or heat-based systems. Here, the general guidelines are simple: it is much cheaper to rent one big piece of equipment than many smaller pieces, thus decreasing the bottom line.
This is why many commercial projects that have large common areas or hallways use desiccants or larger trailer-mounted heating systems. But if the layout is one of multiple exterior entrances (1,000- to 3,000-square-foot individual units) like condos or hotel rooms, LGR’s are going to be the fit. Layout also includes site access and power availability, as they are also major determining factors, as well as what equipment happens to be available when you need it (as much as I hate to say it, sometimes “WOT” is all we have to work with).
Then there is the Question of All Questions: “How long is it going to take?” “It will be dry when it’s dry” is true, but that’s not what I mean. Lately, a lot of focus has been on drying as fast as possible, and that is great in the residential or commercial market when the building is unoccupied, but when a commercial customer needs his facility to conduct business, being out of business even for two days can be unacceptable.
Businesses such as restaurants and hotel ballrooms have planned functions. Since Mrs. Jones will probably have only one 50th anniversary party, are you going to tell her she can’t have the party tonight? Many times you can dry the carpet/flooring in several hours, have it safe for the party and start the wall drying after hours, when the guests have left.
In this case, you are going to spend a few more days drying with increased equipment billing and labor hours, but there would be no business interruption payout, again making the bottom line lower. I call this “Ghost Drying” because you are constantly working on the wet structure, but anyone who uses the facility hardly even notices you are there. You have just made the insurance company, the building owner, the occupant, and Mrs. Jones very happy.
The last word in drying is communication: Be sure that when you are bidding on a project that the owner, tenants, insurance folks and all of your people are on the same page. Just because you know the benefits of how you custom tailored this drying project for them does not mean they understand it.
It is important to start every bid submission with a meeting of all concerned and continue with these meetings on a daily basis until the project is complete. This openness in working together as well as showing concern and understanding for all involved will make you a successful Bottom Line Dryer.
The Anatomy of a Fire: Understanding 3 Types of Fires & Effective Cleaning Techniques
According to the National Fire Protection Association, it’s estimated that some 370,000 home fires occur each year, costing close to $7 billion in total property damage. In many of these home fires, however, the fire starts and is contained in a certain area of a home or business. Even though containment eliminates the necessity for complete demolition and reconstruction, it is still necessary for proper cleaning of soot and smoke to commence, in order to restore the property to a preloss condition. Anatomy of a FireContrary to what many may believe, there is more than one type of fire — and the type of fire that occurred will dictate the appropriate cleaning method. The most prevalent types of fires are: high-oxygen fires, which produce dry soot; low-oxygen fires, which produce greasy, wet soot, and kitchen fires. Here’s a closer look at how to clean each type of fire:
General Cleaning TechniquesSmoke and soot can penetrate paint, carpet, upholstery and clothes. While carpet can be deep cleaned and clothes can be taken to the dry cleaner, properly restoring walls, structures and objects is a different story. Here’s a look at some general cleaning techniques:
- High oxygen: Dry sponges are a must. Follow this by applying a low-alkali detergent and then rinse thoroughly.
- Low oxygen: Use high-alkali detergents along with warm water to wash the walls and structures. Rinse, then paint over.
- Kitchen: These are often the most challenging fires to clean, as soot residue is difficult to detect. For this reason, cabinets, drawers and other appliances often need to be removed to adequately clean the area.
Techniques for Various Materials
- Personal protective equipment: Gloves, a protective mask, long-sleeved shirts and pants should be worn on site to minimize contact with ash.
- Remove contents: Remove contents from the house. While some contents may have to be discarded, others can be effectively hand cleaned. Cleaning contents in an ultrasonic machine is also an option with some items.
- Ventilate: Open windows and doors to remove odor.
- Beware of other contaminants: Lead and asbestos can turn a fire restoration job into an environmental restoration job if they’ve become disturbed.
- Hand scrubbing: Fire damage work is one of the most tedious types of repair work. It involves a lot of handwork, such as scrubbing walls and structures with sponges — and using chemicals and specialized restoration equipment, such as media blasting tools, in the event of heavy residue.
- Duct cleaning: Following restoration, a duct cleaning is required. That’s because smoke and soot have a tendency to become trapped within a home or business’s duct system. This can spread contaminants — and odors — to other areas of the home when in operation. Hence, a professional duct cleaning is necessary.
When it comes to a fire damage situation, you also need to remember how vulnerable the homeowner is in the situation. While any type of home catastrophe is never welcome, a fire has the potential to be the most devastating. With that in mind, also be sure to work on your customer service skills, communicate effectively and regularly with the homeowner to determine his needs throughout the process, and keep him up to speed on the project’s progress. Where a water damage situation can be restored in as little as three days, it’s not uncommon for a fire damage situation to last several weeks — or even months if reconstruction is involved. Hence, proper cleaning and handling of a project is all the more important.
- Clothes and fabrics: A specialized dry cleaner is capable of restoring these items to preloss condition. Cleaning soot-contaminated clothing is somewhat of a science, and while a homeowner may be able to adequately restore clothing on his own, it’s always best to leave this to the professionals.
- Carpet: A professional carpet cleaning is a must in order to effectively remove contaminants and odor from the carpet.
- Building materials: Dry chemical sponges are your best bet for wallboard, plaster, wood and wallpaper. These will remove much of the soot and also prevent it from being lodged deeper into the material.
- Other materials: Sponges, towels and mops are ideal for cleaning tile, glass, metal and certain appliances. Since these aforementioned objects are less porous than drywall, for example, it’s OK to use a wet or dampened sponge or cleaning tool. Plus, there’s no risk of lodging contaminants deeper into the material.
- Specialty cleaning tools: Ultrasonic cleaning machines can come in handy as they can adequately clean non-porous items quickly and efficiently, compared to hand cleaning.
Business Owners Find Varied Paths to Recovery Post-Disaster
As small business owners in Hawaii and California clean up following Hurricane Laneand wildfires, they’ll find there’s no one formula for recovery.
The same disaster can devastate businesses in divergent ways – a hurricane might tear the roof off one restaurant, flood another and leave a third with little damage.
Whether a business recovers often depends on how prepared it is, such as whether it has insurance and its computer data is backed up remotely. Owners should also find out what resources are available to them from the government, their communities and other entrepreneurs, says Craig Markovitz, a professor of entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business. Communication with customers and vendors is also crucial, Markovitz says.
“Let people know you’re going to get back on your feet,” he says. Anything from a sign on a company’s premises to advertising to media coverage will help.
Markovitz also advises owners to rally their entrepreneurial spirit, which helped them succeed in the first place.
Here are the stories of business owners who were able to recover:
OWNER: Patrice Farooq, Cupcake Kitchen Houston
THE DISASTER: Hurricane Harvey, August 2017
When Houston was inundated by over 4 feet of rain in four days, Farooq’s bakery was damaged by water that entered through the roof. She lost appliances including a commercial freezer and all her perishables including eggs and dairy products. Farooq estimates her losses at $30,000, and she was shut for about three weeks.
THE RECOVERY: Even as she was first dealing with the damage, Farooq began using Facebook ads to let customers know she’d be reopening, and to ensure they didn’t forget about her shop.
“I had an idea that the (customer) traffic was not going to be the same and we would run the risk of going out of business,” Farooq says.
Farooq kept advertising after she reopened, and revenue had returned to about 80 percent of pre-Harvey levels by January. But because the neighborhood was still rebuilding, Farooq decided to move the store five miles away, opening in May. Revenue is now 50 percent above the level of before the storm.
OWNER: Nate Stokes, Visiting Angels senior care franchise
THE DISASTER: Tornado; Joplin, Missouri; May 22, 2011
The tornado destroyed Stokes’ cars and his office, which no one was in when the twister hit, and he later learned that his accountant had been killed. Stokes saw the area the next day; it was acres of rubble.
“If you had blindfolded me and brought me there, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you where we were,” he says.
Three of 50 employees had to quit because they lost their homes and needed to focus on rebuilding their lives. Three more were temporarily unable to work. He lost several clients whose homes were destroyed.
THE RECOVERY: Stokes’ church offered him office space, and the Visiting Angels franchise in Tulsa, Oklahoma, lent him a car and computer. About a month after the tornado Stokes found an office 12 miles away, in Carthage, Missouri, but he was unable to replace all his lost equipment and cars until he received insurance money six months later.
It took about a year for Stokes’ business to return to its pre-disaster functioning. He’s still based in Carthage but now has a satellite building in Joplin.
OWNERS: Brent and Juan Reaves, Smokey John’s BBQ restaurant
THE DISASTER: Fire; Dallas; Sept. 9, 2017
Wood stored near a meat smoker caught fire, heavily damaging the kitchen, sending smoke into the entire restaurant. It caused no injuries, but the restaurant had to be gutted.
THE RECOVERY: The brothers, who had several catering gigs on their schedule, realized they could still have money coming in by focusing up that part of their business. They quickly found kitchen space where they could prepare food. And other barbecue purveyors were ready to pitch in when they heard about the fire, Brent Reaves says.
“People started calling us and said, ‘Hey guys, if you need smokers, we can help,”’ Reaves says.
With advertising, the catering business soared, helping fund the restaurant’s reconstruction. The rebuilt Smokey John’s will be 1,000 square feet larger to handle the booming catering business, and the Reaves brothers have set a goal of $1 million in catering revenue this year. They expect to reopen the restaurant in September.
OWNER: Brandon Gaille, Gaille Media, internet marketing agency
THE DISASTER: Hurricane Harvey, August 2017
Gaille’s second-floor office became flooded when nearby Lake Houston overflowed. He and his staffers couldn’t re-enter the building for three months – even after the water receded, it left behind dangerous levels of mold. When Gaille was allowed back in, he had to wear a mask.
THE RECOVERY: Gaille and his two staffers and 10 freelancers were able to keep working because most of their documents and records were stored online and could be accessed remotely. So the company had minimal disruption. But last fall, one of Gaille’s employees asked him to consider making the remote work arrangement permanent.
“I don’t want to go back to the office,” the staffer told Gaille.
The move is saving Gaille thousands of dollars a year in overhead – rent, utilities and commuting costs.
OWNER: Bob Tuck, Mr. Appliance, repair company
THE DISASTER: Hurricane Charley; Port Charlotte, Florida; Aug. 13, 2004
The hurricane hit as Tuck was shifting from being a Maytag appliance retailer and repair shop to a Mr. Appliance franchisee, doing only repairs. Tuck was able to move inventory from the store to a warehouse. It took nearly three days before Tuck could travel to the store because of debris and downed power lines. The store, which still had mock-ups of kitchens with appliances, was almost completely destroyed. But the office with all the company’s records was unscathed, as was the warehouse and his inventory.
THE RECOVERY: When Tuck was able to contact the Mr. Appliance corporate offices, the company offered to help him and the community, and told him it would send water and take over his phone lines and answer his calls.
Tuck didn’t try to find another retail space; over the next four months he sold off his Maytag inventory to homeowners who lost their appliances to the storm.
However, there was little demand for appliance repair and therefore little revenue coming in. Tuck’s insurance policy helped cover his financial losses and he also obtained a Small Business Administration disaster loan.
“It was our only means of survival,” Tuck says.
OWNER: Jeff O’Hara, AlliedPRA, event/conference planning company
THE DISASTER: Hurricane Katrina; New Orleans; Aug. 29, 2005
Physical damage at his company wasn’t an issue for O’Hara; it was the city’s overall devastation that for two years wiped out New Orleans’ tourism and convention industries. O’Hara also lost his house. He had to move away from New Orleans for more than a year, getting part-time jobs in Colorado to support himself.
THE RECOVERY: O’Hara worked the phones while he was away, staying in touch with clients, suppliers and tourism officials. He was working to convince people that despite the widespread belief that the city was in ruins, its most popular tourist areas including the French Quarter were undamaged and ready for visitors.
He also traveled around the country, meeting with clients. Even after moving back he worked side jobs, and in 2007, business began to trickle back in.
But O’Hara and the industry faced more problems – the Great Recession hit, devastating the corporate travel business.
“In all, it took seven years to get back to our previous levels of revenue,” O’Hara says
Water Damage Requires a Quick Response
Floods, rainstorms and tornadoes can become massive water damage threats to businesses during the often-stormy spring and summer months. Facilities plagued with such water woes this season must take quick action
Floods, rainstorms and tornadoes can become massive water damage threats to businesses during the often-stormy spring and summer months. Facilities plagued with such water woes this season must take quick action to control many possible problems, experts say.
You won’t see it emphasized on the nightly news when a disaster hits, but water damage can represent potentially huge disasters for businesses and building owners and operators.
Water damage can mean much more to a business than just wet and soggy carpets. There are other common, more significant problems businesses face when water wreaks havoc on property, such as indoor air quality problems. Mold and mildew grow rapidly in damp, humid environments, leaving behind an unpleasant smell that permeates floors, walls and ceilings, even after the water has been removed. It also can create health problems for employees.
Damage to the building’s structure and foundation also can be an issue. When water sits inside a building for a period of time, the walls, ceilings and floors absorb the water, which threatens the overall structural integrity of the building and creates an unsafe environment. Total reconstruction of the building often becomes the only option.
Another major threat to business is the loss of expensive equipment, which often can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to replace.
To minimize water damage, there are two critical steps that need to be taken:
- Act fast to assess the situation; and
- Control the environment within the building.
Act Fast and Call an Expert
The absolute first step to take is fast action. Damage resulting from water and flooding is very progressive. The longer the water flows or wet conditions are allowed to exist, the greater the recovery problem becomes. A water damage consultant must come in immediately to survey the situation.
In a typical scenario, a team of water damage recovery professionals is dispatched to the site to perform a thorough inspection and fully determine the extent of the damage. A disaster reclamation partner also will develop an intense restoration plan and determine which items are worth restoring and which are better replaced.
You can’t always save everything by drying, but you can save a tremendous amount. It’s not unusual to save between 30 and 70 percent of the cost needed to reconstruct a facility.
Controlling the Interior Environment
Another key in limiting water damage is to quickly control three conditions of a building’s atmosphere: relative humidity, temperature and air circulation. Fast, effective action at this point will generally confine the damage to the area that was directly affected by the water damage event.
The most effective way to control these conditions in a high-moisture environment, especially a large facility, is to employ professional disaster drying that combines air movers with desiccant dehumidifiers.
Disaster drying often eliminates the need to rip out and replace walls, carpet, floor covering, hardwood floors and the building structure, which can be a huge expense. On top of that, you preclude the odors and staining caused by mold and mildew. These problems can come back to haunt you weeks later in a superficially dried building.
The Desiccant Way
When a facility has been severely water damaged, you need high volume desiccant dehumidifiers. Some larger desiccant dehumidifiers can pull 800 gallons of water out of a building in one day, compared to the typical small refrigeration units that remove about five gallons a day.
Many people are surprised that “solid” materials such as concrete and hard woods absorb moisture. But they do and rather quickly.
Getting the water back involves a phenomenon called migration. Migration is the tendency for water molecules to move toward a low vapor pressure. When a room is filled with very dry air, which has low vapor pressure, trapped water migrates outward and is evaporated from the surface by the dry air. As the air in the room fills with water vapor, we expel it. We then replace it with more dry air and the process continues.
It’s also essential to be sure the equipment being used is sized right. Inappropriately sized drying equipment can lead to insufficient drying and long-term problems with the building. Only large-volume dehumidifiers could provide the massive drying power needed to dry the space quickly and thoroughly.
Best Defense: A Disaster Recovery Plan
To minimize damage and costs, companies need to think ahead about what to do in a water damage event and contact a water damage expert to create a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP).
A DRP can limit the extent of water damage occurrences by defining and prioritizing the recovery of areas within a facility and stating immediate next steps. Proper planning and fast action are most certainly the best defense to preventing a catastrophic water damage event.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCRA) —
After a storm moved through the Sacramento area, emergency crews responded to hundreds of calls regarding toppled trees that damaged property.
Experts break down what you should do if your property sustains storm damage: Advertisement
1) File a claim immediately
Insurance agents said they are busy processing claims after Wednesday's storm. They said the faster you file, the sooner you can get an agent to your property to assess the damage.
Claims that aren't complicated usually don't take long to process, Sacramento-based State Farm Michael Yee insurance agent said.
2) Contact storm damage repair companies
Some storm damage repair companies in the Sacramento area said their phones have been ringing off the hook. They recommend getting problems fixed as soon as possible, especially with more wet weather and potential problems ahead.
3) Make sure your contractor is licensed with the state
When it's time to make repairs, the California Office of Emergency Services warns people to make sure your contractor is licensed with the California Contractors State License Board.
The board also warned against paying in cash, being cautious about door-to-door offers of repair services and recommend always having a written contract.
4) Be prepared to pay out of pocket
Yee said whether the damage was done by a tree owned by you, your neighbor or the city, some expenses will likely come out of your pocket through a deductible.
5) Don't wait for more storms to contact your insurance company
Yee said damage to your home or car can't always be bundled together. Some problems will have different deductibles, so make sure to file as soon as the damage happens -- even if you have to file multiple times.
Lightning coverage and safety
Lightning can cause damage to your home and belongings—and can cause bodily harm. It's prudent to take steps to prevent the dangerous effects of lightning and to keep yourself and your family safe. Here are some things you can do.
Lightning and insurance
Your standard homeowners and business insurance policies, and the comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy cover damages—such as a fire—that results from a lightning strike. Some policies also provide coverage for the damage caused by power surges.
That said, it's far better to prevent lightning damage than to have to deal with the consequences.
Protect your home by installing a lightning protection system
A lightning protection system (LPS) provides a specified path on which lightning can travel. The Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) explains how LPSs work in this infographic. A rooftop network of lightning rods or air terminals is connected to a series of down conductors, which carry the current down to a grounding network. In that way, the system safely directs the destructive power of the lightning strike into the ground, which leaves the structure of your home or business and its contents undamaged.
Lightning protection is not a “do-it-yourself” project—contract a UL-listed lightning protection specialist to install the system in accordance with national safety standards.
Protect your home and electronics from surges
Electrical surges from lightning can enter a structure via power transmission lines and cause electrical fires as well as damage to your building's electrical system, your appliances and your home electronics.
Regular power strips offer little surge protection. To assure the best safeguards, UL-listed surge protection devices (SPDs) should be installed to filter and dissipate damaging electrical discharges. Most electric utilities will rent or sell a surge device for the electric meter to “clamp down” on incoming surges; licensed electricians can install similar protection.
To protect valuable electronics like computers, home entertainment centers, gaming systems and smart home technology, install UL-listed transient voltage surge suppressors–and consider unplugging expensive electronics when you know a storm is approaching.
Protect yourself and your family with precautions
- When thunder roars, go indoors. During a storm, it's best to take shelter in a house or other fully enclosed building. Inside, don’t stand near open windows, doorways or metal piping. Stay off the phone and avoid contact with small appliances, like toasters and hairdryers. As water conducts electricity, also stay away from plumbing, sinks, tubs and radiators.
- If you know a storm is coming, avoid known hazards and dangerous locations. These include areas where you will be the highest object—a golf course, for example. Bodies of water also attract lightning, so avoid lakes, beaches or open water, and fishing from a boat or dock. Never ride golf carts, farm equipment, motorcycles or bicycles during a thunderstorm.
- If you are caught outside in a thunderstorm, take shelter in a hard topped-vehicle or a low area such a tunnel or even a cave if necessary. Stay clear of fences, isolated trees and other conductive objects such as telephone poles, power lines and pipelines. These present a danger from a potential side flash, which is voltage from a nearby, lightning-struck object.
- If you're caught in an open field with no nearby shelter, and your hair begins to stand on end, drop down into a crouch with your hands on your knees, and balance on the balls of your feet. The static electricity in your hair is an indication that lightning is about to strike, and the idea is to make as little contact with the ground as possible. Never lie down flat or place your hands on the ground.
Northeast Ohio Home Fire Campaign
American Red Cross Home Fire CampaignThe Home Fire Campaign helps save lives by installing free smoke alarms in homes that don't have them, and by educating people about home fire safety.
Do You Need A Smoke Alarm?
Request a Smoke Alarm Here
Together we installed 1 million smoke alarms – a major milestone achieved!
Thank you to the thousands of volunteers that joined us to Sound the Alarm to install 100,000 free smoke alarms in at-risk communities across more than 100 cities. Together, we’re saving lives!Help save lives in your community.
Every day, seven people die in home fires, most in homes that lack working smoke alarms. Sadly, children and the elderly disproportionately lose their lives. The American Red Cross wants to improve the odds and save lives, that’s why we launched our Home Fire Campaign in 2014.
A critical part of the campaign is Sound the Alarm, a series of home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events across the country. Red Cross volunteers, along with fire departments and other partners canvass at-risk neighborhoods, installing free smoke alarms, replacing batteries in existing alarms, and providing fire prevention and safety education. In just three years, we’ve accomplished so much, including the installation of more than 1 million smoke alarms and prepared more than 1 million people against home fires through our home visits.
Get InvolvedThere are several ways you can get involved with Sound the Alarm: Volunteer to install smoke alarms in your community.
Find Local Volunteer Opportunities Fundraise to support the Home Fire Campaign.
Start a Fundraiser Make a donation to support Sound the Alarm.
The Red Cross Responds to a Home Fire or Other Disaster Every 8 Minutes.In Northeast Ohio, the Red Cross and its partners have:Previous
Made 15,336 households safer
Installed 42,869 smoke alarms
Helped create 15,336 escape plans
Replaced 1,317 smoke alarm batteries
Reached 11,280 youth with preparedness information
Made 15,336 households safer
Installed 42,869 smoke alarms
Helped create 15,336 escape plans
Replaced 1,317 smoke alarm batteries
Reached 11,280 youth with preparedness information
Made 15,336 households safer
Installed 42,869 smoke alarms
Helped create 15,336 escape plans NextCan your family escape in just 2 minutes? You can keep your family safe with 2 simple steps.
Step 1. Practice your 2-minute drill. Make sure your family can safely escape a home fire in under 2 minutes.
Step 2. Test your smoke alarms monthly. Make sure you and your family are alerted as soon as a fire is detected. If the smoke alarm isn't working, change the batteries.
STORM, FLOOD, AND HURRICANE RESPONSE
Recommendations for the Cleaning and Remediation of Flood-Contaminated HVAC Systems: A Guide for Building Owners and Managers
During flooding, systems for heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) can become submerged in flood waters. As a result, these systems may contain substantial amounts of dirt and debris and may also become contaminated with various types of microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi. The following recommendations will help ensure that HVAC systems contaminated with flood water are properly cleaned and remediated to provide healthy indoor environments.
Microorganisms may grow on all surfaces of HVAC system components that were submerged in flood waters. In addition, moisture can collect in HVAC system components that were not submerged (such as air supply ducts above the water line) and can promote the growth of microorganisms. Therefore, all components of the HVAC system that were contaminated with flood water or moisture should be thoroughly inspected, cleaned of dirt and debris, and disinfected by a qualified professional. The following recommendations will help ensure that HVAC systems contaminated with flood water are properly cleaned and remediated to provide healthy indoor environments.
These recommendations will be reassessed periodically and updated as appropriate.
Steps Before Cleaning and Remediation
- If the building is to remain partly occupied (for example, on upper floors not affected by flood waters), isolate the construction areas where HVAC systems will be cleaned and remediated by using temporary walls, plastic sheeting, or other vapor-retarding barriers. Maintain the construction areas under negative pressure (relative to adjacent non-construction areas) by using blowers equipped with HEPA filters (high-efficiency particulate air filters) to exhaust the area. To ensure complete isolation from the construction areas, it may be necessary to pressurize the adjacent non-construction areas and temporarily relocate the outdoor-air intake for the HVAC system serving the occupied areas.
- Take precautions to protect the health of workers who are cleaning and remediating the HVAC system. Make sure that workers wear at least an N-95 NIOSH-approved respirator to protect against airborne microorganisms. Increased levels of respiratory protection (for example, powered, air-purifying respirators equipped with high efficiency filters) may be appropriate depending on the level of visible contamination. In addition, when using chlorine bleach or other disinfectants in poorly ventilated environments, it may be necessary to use appropriate chemical cartridges in addition to the particulate filters to protect workers from breathing the chemical vapors. Employers must implement a complete respiratory protection program that meets the requirements of the OSHA respiratory protection standard (29 Code of Federal Regulations 1910.134). The minimum requirements for a respiratory protection program include a written standard operating procedure for the following: selecting and using respirators; the medical evaluation of workers to determine whether they are physically able to wear the respirator selected for use; training and instructions on respirator use; the cleaning, repair, and storage of respirators; the continued surveillance of work area conditions for worker exposure and stress; and a respirator fit-testing program. For tight-fitting respirators, fit-testing is necessary to help ensure that the respirator fits tightly, reducing the potential for leakage of outside air from around the edge of the mask. In addition, employers must provide workers with appropriate skin, eye, and hearing protection for the safe performance of their jobs.
HVAC Cleaning and Remediation
- Remove all flood-contaminated insulation surrounding and within HVAC system components. Discard these contaminated materials appropriately following applicable Federal, State, and local regulations.
- Remove contaminated HVAC filter media and discard appropriately following applicable Federal, State, and local regulations.
- After removing any insulation and filters, clean all flood-contaminated HVAC system component surfaces with a HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaner to remove dirt, debris, and microorganisms. Pay special attention to filter racks, drain pans, bends and horizontal sections of air ducts where debris can collect.
- After removing any insulation or debris, disinfect all HVAC system component surfaces while the HVAC system is not operating. Use a solution of 1 cup of household chlorine bleach in a gallon of water. Do not mix bleach with other cleaning products that contain ammonia.
- Conduct the cleaning and disinfection activities in a clean-to-dirty work progression. Consider the use of auxiliary fans to supply “clean” air to the worker position and carry aerosolized contaminant and disinfectant in the clean-to-dirty direction, away from the worker’s breathing zones and towards the point of filtration and exhaust.
- Follow the disinfection procedure with a clean water rinse. Depending on the amount of debris present, it may be necessary to mechanically clean the HVAC system component surfaces with a steam or a high-pressure washer before using the disinfectant. Gasoline powered pressure washers should be used outside away from air intakes to prevent carbon monoxide hazards. (See NIOSH topic webpage, “Carbon Monoxide Hazards from Small Gasoline Powered Engines”
Note: Remove and discard HVAC system components that are contaminated with flood water, and cannot be effectively cleaned and disinfected. Replace them with new components.
- After cleaning and disinfecting or replacing the HVAC system components, replace the insulation – preferably with an external (i.e. not in the air stream) smooth-surfaced insulation to help prevent debris and microorganisms from collecting in the future.
- Make sure that the HVAC system fan has been removed and serviced (cleaned, disinfected, dried thoroughly, and tested) by a qualified professional before it is placed back into the air-handling unit.
- During the cleaning and remediation process, consider upgrading the HVAC system filtration to the highest efficiency filters practical given the static pressure constraints of the HVAC system fan. This step has been shown to be one of the most cost-effective ways to improve the long-term quality of the indoor environment, since it reduces the amount of airborne dusts and microorganisms.
Resuming HVAC Operations
- After cleaning and disinfecting or replacing HVAC system, have a qualified professional thoroughly evaluate its performance and correct it as necessary before the building is occupied again. The HVAC system performance should conform to the recommendations contained in ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2016, Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality.
- Before the building is occupied again, operate the HVAC system continuously in a normal manner at a comfortable temperature for 48 to 72 hours. During this period, it may be beneficial to open the HVAC outdoor air dampers to the maximum setting that still allows you to provide the desired indoor air temperatures. If objectionable flood-related odors persist after this “flush out” period, reassess by looking for flood-contaminated areas that were not identified earlier and continue the flush-out process until odors are no longer apparent. Replace the HVAC filters used during the flush-out prior to building occupancy.
- After a building is occupied again, make frequent (for example, weekly) checks of the HVAC system to ensure that it is operating properly. During these checks, inspect the HVAC system filters and replace them when necessary. Gradually reduce the frequency of the HVAC system checks to monthly or quarterly inspections, depending on the routine operation and maintenance specifications for the HVAC system.
- If no routine operation and maintenance program is in place for the HVAC system, develop and institute such a program. At a minimum, include the following routine procedures: inspection and maintenance of HVAC components, calibration of HVAC system controls, and testing and balancing of the HVAC system.
- After the building is occupied again, maintain the interior temperature and relative humidity to conform with the ranges recommended in ASHRAE Standard 55- 2013, Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy.
Additional information about the cleanup and restoration of water-damaged and mold contaminated HVAC systems is available from the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) and the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA). Their pertinent documents (Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remediation [IICRC S520] and Assessment, Cleaning and Restoration of HVAC Systems [ACR 2013]) are available for purchase at www.IICRC.org/ and http://acrstandard.nadca.com/, respectively. The University of Minnesota has a document titled, “HVAC System Decontamination” available for free off the internet at www.dehs.umn.edu/iaq_hsd.htm. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Environmental Protection also has a document entitled “Flood Recovery: Heating and Cooling Systems available at http://www.dep.state.pa.us/dep/deputate/watermgt/GENERAL/FLOODS/fs1957.htm.
- OSHA . Occupational Safety and Health Standards (29 CFR 1910.134). Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Washington, D.C.
- ASHRAE . ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2016: Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality. ASHRAE, Atlanta, GA.
- ASHRAE . ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 55-2013: Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy. ASHRAE, Atlanta, GA.
Is Mold Testing Really Necessary?
When left to accumulate, mold can damage buildings and expose the inhabitants of the infested building to health risks such as sinuses, wheeling and exacerbation of asthma. The growing concern over mold growth across the country has allowed for a plethora of speculations, misconceptions and confusion about various aspects pertaining to mold. One of the frequently asked questions by concerned homeowners is whether mold inspection is necessary.
The necessity of mold inspection will entirely depend on the goal of the inspection process. The truth is that if you can see mold in your house, you probably do not require hiring a mold inspector to come and inspect or test for the presence of mold in your house. It is also untrue that mold inspection is necessary to determine the course of action to take after the mold is detected. Most of the time, the cause of mold growth is the presence of moisture in the building and thus the only cause of action to take is to eliminate the source of moisture.
Most of the time, indoor mold growth is obvious and visible for anyone. However, sometimes it is not, especially if the mold is growing behind walls and hidden cavities. Often, it is not easy to determine whether these hidden mold growth are extensive; this may call for mold inspection procedures to determine the extent of the mold formation. At other times, what may appear as mold may not necessarily be a mold growth; a good way to determine this would be through scientific inspection and testing.
Another goal of mold inspection is to determine the cause of mold growth in a building. Most of the time, you can tell when there is a mold infestation in your house but you may be unsure of the precise cause of this mold growth. A professional mold inspection contractor may be in a position to inspect your home for possible sources of moisture. Obviously, if you already know the sources of moisture that may be predisposing your house to mold growth, there is no need to use the services of a mold inspector.
A mold inspection may also be necessary if you are looking to find out the structures that have been infested by the mold growth. As mentioned earlier, some molds grow in hidden spaces and only a scientific inspection may be able to detect these hidden mold growths. By catching hidden mold formation early, you can abate the mold to keep the house from further contamination.
It is advisable to hire the services of mold inspector only after you have physically inspected your home for visible molds. Given that currently there are no standards regulating mold inspectors, it is suggested that you only work with companies that are well established and have the expertise to conduct inspection and recommend remediation if necessary. The most ethical contractors will only suggest an inspection procedure when they really want to rule out other water damage problems, such as mildew, that may appear as mold.
HVAC Problems ? Here Are 5 Problems and Solutions
SERVPRO will make recommendations about the best way to address any indoor air quality concerns. This can save you money and provide peace of mind.
When your HVAC system isn't cooling your home efficiently and comfortably, there's likely a big problem requiring maintenance, troubleshooting or repair. Here are the 5 most common HVAC problems and solutions.
Noisy Air Vents
Noisy air vents mean trouble. Rattling and clamoring noises are often caused by loose ductwork connections. Wrapping the rattling ducts with metal tape will do the trick.
Loud pops and bangs are usually ductwork expansion and contraction due to temperature variances. Make sure your ducts are well insulated.
Ice buildup on the evaporator coil brings home cooling to a halt -- even though your A/C may still run. Dirt buildup on the evaporator is a common problem for ice accumulation. Clean the evaporator with a spray can of self-rinse coil cleaner.
High Indoor Humidity
High indoor humidity is one of the most common HVAC and indoor air quality problems during the cooling months. The only practical way to control high humidity in your home is with a dehumidifier. This could be a portable unit, or install a whole-home dehumidifier for optimal results, comfort and efficiency.
Your central air system produces an unbelievable amount of condensate during the cooling months. So, it's quite common for the drainage system to become clogged and/or malfunction and spill water in your home. You can try to alleviate the clog with a shop-vac, but it's better to call your HVAC technician right away.
Dirty Air Filter
Air filters are among the simplest HVAC devices. Yet, a dirty filter can cause a long list of expensive problems -- including all of the preceding four most common HVAC problems. Moreover, running your HVAC system with a dirty filter drains your energy budget. Change your filter as suggested by the manufacturer.
Worried about your HVAC Compressor and lightning damage ? Check out our blog post HVAC Compressor Damage: Lightning or Wear & Tear
Also check out what SERVPRO of Canton's Air Duct and HVAC cleaning services can do for you.
Questions or in need of service ? Call us today - 330-966-2377
Dentist Abandons Practice After Fire Loss- Will Policy Proceeds be Recovered?
Fire & Smoke Restoration Technician | Odor Control Technician | Upholstery & Fabric Cleaning Technician | Water Damage Restoration Technician
An Excerpt from Property Casualty 360 Q&A
Question: Our insured had total fire loss and is insured under a business-owners policy. The insured is a dentist and determined that as of this loss she would abandon this practice as she had other locations that were more productive.
Since there was a direct loss from a covered peril, but no period of restoration to speak of, will the insured recover any policy proceeds under business income coverage?
Answer: In order for business income coverage to be triggered, the insured must suffer an actual loss of business income due to the necessary suspension of operations during the period of restoration. If the dentist is not continuing the business at that location, and it is not going to be repaired or replaced, you are correct that there is no period of restoration, and there is also no loss of income due to suspension of operations, so there would be no business income coverage.
Fire Damage ? Call SERVPRO of Canton's 24/7 Emergency Service line - 330-966-2377
For information on SERVPRO of Canton fire damage services, click here.
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SERVPRO of Canton
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SERVPRO of Canton takes great pride in being a part of the Canton community. We understand that communities like ours hold America together. We want to do our part to ensure the Canton community thrives by helping those less fortunate, keeping the area safe and making our community the best it can be.
Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration. From initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO’s Corporate Training Facility to regular IICRC industry certifications, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property. Our training program includes the following:
- IICRC Training
- Employee Certification Training
- Initial Franchise Training
- Continuing Education Classes
The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) certifies and sets the standards for the cleaning and restoration industries. Our Professionals study IICRC standards and best practices in water restoration, fire restoration, mold remediation, carpet and upholstery cleaning, and other cleaning and restoration courses.
The IICRC sets practical standards for restoration and cleaning. The past few decades has seen a rapid advancement in the technology and techniques used in the restoration industry. These advancements allow SERVPRO of Canton Professionals to restore a property back to preloss condition quickly, reliably, and more effectively.
In need of our services ? Hire SERVPRO of Canton today by calling our 24/7 Emergency Service line - 330-966-4483, or Request Help Online
Know What Steps to Take as Spring Storms Occur
Beautiful Spring... It can also bring major storm activity and being prepared to protect yourself, your home and contents is important.
Green grass, colorful flowers, relaxing rain showers and distant, whispering rumbles of thunder. But it isn't always this peaceful. Consider the notes below, Northeast Ohio, and take to safe steps when dangerous weather is predicted for Summit County, Portage County and/or Canton.
Tornadoes- Spring can be the peak season for tornado activity. Tornadoes occur mostly on warm spring days between 3:00 and 9:00 p.m. However, tornadoes can occur anywhere, at any time of the year, at any time of the day.
The Red Cross has safety steps people should take now to be ready if a tornado warning is issued for someone’s neighborhood:
- Download the free Red Cross tornado app for mobile devices. The tornado app puts everything you need to know to stay safe in a tornado at your fingertips. The app can be downloaded from the iTunes or Google Play stores by searching for American Red Cross.
- Know your community’s warning system.
- Pick a safe room in your home where family members can gather if a tornado is headed your way. This should be a basement, storm cellar or interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
- Prepare for strong winds by removing diseased and damaged limbs from trees.
- Move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.
- Know the tornado danger signs – dark, often greenish clouds, a wall cloud, cloud of debris, large hail, a funnel cloud or a roaring noise.
Thunderstorms- Thunderstorms are most likely to happen in the spring and summer, during the afternoon and evening. However, like tornadoes, they can happen anywhere, at any hour of the day. Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people every year that tornadoes or hurricanes.
The Red Cross has steps you can take if a thunderstorm is predicted for your area:
- If thunder roars, go indoors. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning.
- Watch for storm signs like darkening skies, flashes of lightning or increasing winds.
Postpone any outdoor activities. Many people who are struck by lightning are not where it is raining.
- Take shelter in a substantial building or a vehicle with the windows closed. Shutter windows and close outside doors securely. Stay away from windows.
- Do not take a bath, shower or use plumbing.
If you are outside or driving, there are things you should do to remain safe. Information can be found with the following link discussing what to do before, during and after a thunderstorm.
Flooding- Spring can be a time of year for flooding. Communities in the Midwest and south have already seen floodwaters inundate neighborhoods. Snow melt and heavy spring rains fill rivers and streams and flooding can occur. Flash floods occur suddenly when water rises rapidly along a stream or low-lying area. People should be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice and head for higher ground when a flood or flash flood warning is issued.
Other safety steps include:
- Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.
- If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
- Keep children out of the water. They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.
- Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
Heed this advice as the Spring weather begins ! Stay safe, Northeast Ohio !
Storm Damage ? Call SERVPRO of Canton at our 24/7 Emergency Service line - 330-966-2377 or Request Help Online
Safety Tips When Preventing House Fires
Have Questions? Call Us Today – 800-648-1212
For our last blog post, "Homeowners policy. Fire coverage. What do I need?," we covered the following:
Insurance coverage is very important in protecting your home and belongings.
Know what you own- document everything in a video. Educate yourself on the policy you are buying and choose your agent based on your needs.
We also want you to consider the five most common causes of house fires:
- Cooking equipment
- Heating equipment
- Electrical distribution and lighting equipment
- Intentional fires
- Smoking materials
In this blog post we will explain how you can reduce the risk of a fire starting in your home.
- Cooking equipment.
- Be alert when cooking and don’t leave food unattended
- DO NOT throw water on a grease fire- put a lid on the pan or powdery material such as baking soda to smother the fire
- If an oven fire flares up, turn the oven off and leave the door shut until the fire extinguishes itself
- Keep clothing, pot holders, paper towels and other flammable items away from fires
- Keep working smoke detectors in the house, and have a fire extinguisher nearby just in case
Electrical distribution and lighting equipment.
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater
- Maintain a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters
- Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home
- If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes; keep children and pets away from space heaters
- Make sure your fireplace is properly cleaned and checked before the cold weather season starts.
- Keep the fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs
- Make sure wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, chimneys, and furnaces are professionally inspected and cleaned once a year
- Don’t overload outlets or electrical cords
- Make sure you have the right cord for the job – inside cords for inside, heavy duty/outside cords for outdoor use
- Don’t leave Christmas lights, Christmas trees, or halogen lights on overnight, or when not at home
- Consider having an electrician perform an annual checkup of your home’s wiring
- Consider what could burn
- Remove overgrown vegetation
- Remove abandoned cars
- Secure vacant homes
- Watch for kids
- Get to know your neighborhood
- Report suspicious activity
- Work with your community
- Watch local businesses
- Organize a watch program
- Install and test smoke alarms
- Call 911
- If you smoke, consider smoking outside
- Use wide, sturdy ashtrays to catch butts and ashes
- Look for cigarette butts under furniture and between seat cushions to make sure no lit butts have fallen someplace where they can’t be seen
- This one might be obvious, but nonetheless, don’t smoke in bed, when you’re tired, or around medical oxygen
- Never leave a candle burning near flammable items
- Never leave a candle burning in a child’s room or an unoccupied room
- Make sure candles fit securing into candle holders so they won’t tip over
- Blow out any candles before leaving a room or going to sleep
You can follow every piece of advice above, and the chances are positive that you’ll avoid any type of fire in your home. However, even though the risk is greatly reduced, accidents still happen.
The bottom line is that you need to make sure you have enough coverage in the event of a major loss.
Does your home have fire damage ? Call SERVPRO of Canton's 24/7 Emergency Service line at 330-966-2377 or Request Help Online
Homeowners policy. Fire coverage. What do I need?
In Ohio alone, there were 105 home fire fatalities reported in 2016.
A home fire is reported every 90 seconds in the United States.
One death occurs every 2 hours and 35 minutes, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
Now is the time to review your coverage, Northeast Ohio.
But first, consider the five most common causes of house fires:
- Cooking equipment is the number one source of home fires and the second leading cause of home fire deaths – usually leaving pots or pans unattended on the stove while you run away to do something for “just a minute.” The NFPA says that 47% of all house fires start this way.
- Heating equipment accounts for 15% of home fires, specifically this time of year. Trying to heat the home with space heaters or chimneys that aren't properly cleaned are the leading causes of heating equipment fires.
- Electrical distribution and lighting equipment account for approximately 9% of home fires, and can come from a number of different origins. They can be caused by an equipment malfunction, from an overloaded circuit or extension cord, or from an overheated light bulb, space heater, washer, dryer or other appliance.
- Intentional fires account for approximately 8% of home fires. The majority of these fires are started outside but still average $1 billion in direct property damage.
- Smoking materials are on a downward trend, however, they still account for 5% of home fires and are the leading cause of home fire deaths.
Other common causes include candles, children playing with fire, and Christmas trees.
*Stay tuned for our next blog post covering House Fire Safety Tips for each "cause of fire" listed above.
Taking precaution will reduce the risk of a fire starting in your home, but the bottom line is you need to make sure you have enough coverage in the event of a major fire loss.
Fire insurance is a necessary part of your homeowners policy. If you have a comprehensive homeowners policy, fire coverage will be included. However, there are many different providers and policies, therefore a variety of coverage limits, deductibles and exclusions defining what is, and is not, covered.
If your property is insured for actual cash value, your fire coverage may be less than what is needed to replace your damaged structures and items.
You can, and should, very seriously consider insuring your property with replacement value coverage instead. This type of coverage will cover the cost of rebuilding a house similar to your previous one after a fire, and provides funds to replace damaged appliances, clothing, and furniture with new items.
KNOW WHAT YOU OWN. We highly recommend you do a video recording of your full house and document your contents.
Your homeowners policy provides the following coverage options to protect your home from fire (check your policy to make sure you understand any exclusions):
- Covers the structure of your home
- Covers additional structures on your property, including sheds, garages and outbuildings
- Insures the contents, or your personal belongings, in each of the structures, including furniture, appliances, electronics, clothes, etc.
- Provides for living expenses if a fire displaces you and your family for a period of time, including rent or hotel expenses
Choosing the right insurance company is incredibly important, but even more important is selecting the best insurance agency to service your needs, and educating yourself on what you are buying.
Does your home have fire damage ? Call SERVPRO of Canton for help - 330-966-2377 or Request Help Online.
Asbestos and the Workplace
Non-adherence to OSHA standards could result in larger jury awards against non-compliant companies.
Back in 1972, Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act into law- asbestos risks have beset the industry with decades of health-related liability issues, resulting in ripple effects for insurers. Congress created the Federal Occupational Safe and Health Administration (OSHA), which remains at the forefront of employee safety and has had a significant impact on modern U.S. asbestos litigation.
Beyond the immediate consequences of a regulatory violation, OSHA standards impact today's asbestos litigation in three important ways:
- OSHA violations are often cited by plaintiff's counsel arguing for the imposition of a higher degree of culpability
- OSHA's applicability can allow certain knowledge to be legally imputed to a defendant (irrespective of what the defendant actually knew)
- Because OSHA's regulations control the actions of employers and their employees’ workplace, the adherence or non-adherence to OSHA standards may give rise to arguments for apportioning greater liability to defendants in physical control of the plaintiff's work space.
The current OSHA standard for workplace exposures to asbestos is .1f/cc and has been in effect since 1994.
FEMA Publishes Guidance for Handling Flood Losses
There's no easy solution.
The 2017 Hurricane Season was a brutal one. Seventeen named storms struck the United States causing a record-setting $200 billion in damage.
Much of this damage occurred not from high winds or storm surges, but from extended heavy rains that triggered major flooding.
In an effort to facilitate prompt post-inspection advance payments to policyholders, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) published an outline of steps, serving as guidance for handling flood losses.
- Report the loss to your insurance agent or the insurance carrier, who will in turn assign an adjusting firm who provides an adjuster to assist you with presenting the support for your loss.
- The adjuster inspects the property (scoping visit) and may ask if you wish to request an advance payment from your insurer; the adjuster will send you a detailed room-by-room unit-cost estimate of damage and a proof of loss form. If you agree, the proof of loss form should be signed to and sworn to, and upon your insurer's review and agreement, the loss is settled.
- If you do not agree, you should work with your adjuster to find a dollar amount for the covered loss that can be agreed on. Also, working with your general contractor is helpful.
- If you are unable to reach an agreement with the adjuster, you should contact your adjuster's supervisor by calling the adjusting firm.
- The supervisor should work with you to find a dollar amount for the covered loss that can be agreed on.
- If you are unable to reach an agreement with the adjuster's supervisor, you should contact your insurance carrier's claims department to discuss the amount difference or coverage issue with the claim examiner.
- If you are unable to reach an agreement with the claims examiner, you should complete a proof of loss form for the total amount you are requesting (the disputed amount plus any additional amount), and then send the signed and sworn-to proof of loss form with documentation to support the additional amount you are requesting, directly to the insurance carrier claim examiner.
- If the insurer agrees with your documentation, they will pay the amount you are requesting; or they may provide the adjusting firm with their recommendation which may lead to an additional payable amount and a new Proof of Loss. If the insurer disagrees, they will issue payment for any undisputed amount, and a written denial letter will be sent to you fully explaining the reasons for the disallowance (denial) of your claim or any portion of your claim.
- If you agree with the denial or no longer dispute the decision, the loss is settled.
- For any denial of payment, in whole or in part, which you are disputing, three options remain:
- You may send an amended Proof of Loss with supporting documentation back to the claim examiner; see STEP 8
- You may submit a formal Appeal to FEMA
- A written appeal letter must be sent to FEMA within 60 days of your insurer's denial letter, along with a copy of the denial letter and the documentation you have to support your appeal.
- You may file a lawsuit against your insurer
- A lawsuit must be filed within one year of your insurer's first written denial letter and only in U.S. District Court in the district where the property is located at the time of the loss
- However, once you file a lawsuit, you may no longer appeal your claim to FEMA or file an amended Proof of Loss with your insurer.
Storm or water damage ? Call SERVPRO of Canton's 24/7 Emergency Service line - 330-966-2377 or Request Help Online
With Spring Comes Thunderstorms- Are You Ready ?
When lightning strikes near a power line, it increases the electrical current. The extra burst of electricity can lead to computer & appliance damage.
Did you know that 50% of businesses never reopen after a fire or water disaster? SERVPRO of Canton is available 24 hours a day to get YOUR business back up and running, "Like it never even happened."
Thunderstorms are absolutely something to be conscious for. 6.5% of all property claims are due to lightning strikes. Wood and other flammable building materials can easily be ignited when lightning comes in contact or passes through them. In addition, high winds, heavy rain and flooding from a thunderstorm can destroy a business in minutes.
If not prepared for a quick recovery, the lost revenue of your business could mean closure.
That is why SERVPRO has local franchises across the nation. When an emergency situation arises, call one of our highly trained professionals, certified in water, fire and mold clean up and restoration.
SERVPRO of Canton can provide:
- Over 40 years of experience as leading fire and water cleanup and restoration providers.
- There are over 1,500 franchises servicing 48 states.
- More locations for faster responses.
- Quick response time to help ensure the damage is contained and the restoration process begins promptly.
- Large loss capabilities - no fire or water damage is too big.
When the next storm hits Canton, OH, call the professionals at SERVPRO of Canton - 330-966-2377, or Request Help Online.
Also consider joining our Emergency Ready Program and reduce business interruption following a disaster. Call for details.
Overlooking Water Leaks in Your Home- A Mold Threat
DO NOT overlook water leaks in your home. Beware of mold.
A Chubb survey revealed the majority of homeowners do not view internal water leak damage as the most concerning home threat.
Chubb North America Personal Risk Services Division President, Fran O'Brien, said "the time between when a leak occurs and when it's discovered is the single greatest factor in determining the amount of damage."
Nearly 80 percent of homeowners overlook the threat of costly water leaks while on vacation, Chubb survey found. Something to consider as families leave for Spring vacation.
And on top of the drip, drip, drip of what could start as a minor leak, depending on the duration of your Spring vacation, the drip, drip, drip could result in not only water damage to your home, but mold damage as well. For information on how that works, refer to our blog post, 5 Levels of Mold Remediation.
If you'd like to know more about Chubb's survey, click here to visit their site.
Mold Damage ? Water Damage ? Call SERVPRO of Canton's 24/7 Emergency Service Line at 330-966-2377, or Request Help Online.
Flooding Rains and Toxic Spills, Beware, Ohio
With floods becoming more frequent, the risk of toxic spills has increased too, experts warn.
"A report by The New York Times found that of the more than 21,600 facilities across the country that handle large quantities of toxic materials, over 1,400 are in areas the Federal Emergency Management Agency considers to have a high risk of flooding.
The proximity of these chemical sites to areas prone to flooding is a relic from a time when industrial operations benefited from being close to rivers and oceans – the bodies of water allowed for transportation, trade, or even a ready supply of cooling water.
Experts believe that this outdated business practice could lead to a major environmental and health disaster." Excerpt from: Insurance Business Magazine
Reported by the Cleveland Patch in their Feb. 8, 2018 article, Toxic Waste Being Reduced In Cuyahoga, Across Ohio, while Cleveland is one of the top five states with the most toxic releases, reports from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) show less toxic waste is being released. Also reported, Ohio is seeing a new low in toxic waste being disposed.
"There was 102 million pounds of toxic waste disposed of in the Buckeye State in 2016, the lowest total since at least 2003," the author, Chris Mosby, writes.
"Cuyahoga County had about 7 million pounds of waste to dispose of in 2016. More than 47 million pounds of waste was either disposed of, recycled, treated, used for energy recovery or source reduction."
The EPA said the majority of compounds released in our country falls into the "other" category. The largest identified compound being zinc, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry reports very little is known about the long-term effects of exposure to zinc.
As Cleveland and surrounding counties are prone to Lake Erie's floods and lake-effect weather, we must continue the movements Ohio is making to improve our toxic waste disposals.
Twelve Things You Can Do to Prepare for Spring
Done with Winter ? Prep for Spring ? Here are 12 things you can do to prepare your home.
- Clean your rain gutters.
Wind, animals, and gravity bring sticks, leaves, and other organic matter into your rain gutters, and chances are yours have accumulated their share of detritus over the winter. That's bad news for your home: When downspouts are clogged, rainwater can spill out of your gutters and around the perimeter of your house, putting it at risk for leaks and flooding. Get ready for spring showers by removing the mess from your gutters to ensure that the water will flow freely. Check out our blog post Rain Gutters and Water Problems for clues you may have a problem.
- Change filters.
To maintain optimal air quality in your home, it’s a good idea to replace your HVAC system's air filter seasonally as well as the filter in your kitchen range hood. While you're at it, consider changing the filters in your water purification system. Depending on your water, you might not need to change these as often as your HVAC filters, but it's not a bad idea to check them now. So, go ahead and welcome spring with new filters all around to keep your home clean and fresh, and your appliances in good working order. Need help ? See what SERVPRO of Canton can do to help with our Air Duct and HVAC Cleaning Services.
- Check vents.
As snow melts away from your home’s foundation, it’s a good time to check any vents along the foundation or in the attic. Look for missing or damaged screens, debris, signs of insect or rodent infestation, or other issues, and correct them before they have a chance to become bigger problems later in the season.
- Service the Lawn Mower.
Get your lawn mower ready for the season with a tune-up. If you didn’t do it in the fall, now’s the time to drain and replace oil, sharpen the blades, remove caked-on grass and mud, and lubricate moving parts.
- Prep the gas grill.
After a long winter spent cooped up indoors, you're probably eager for a sunny day and a burger hot off the grill. Get your outdoor cooking station ready for spring by scraping away any rust spots that developed over the winter, cleaning the grill inside and out, and checking the fuel tank hose for damage.
- Clean Backyard Furniture
As the weather warms up, outdoor entertaining may be just around the corner. Prepare for warmer days ahead by thoroughly hosing down all backyard furniture—chairs, tables, and lounge chairs—wiping away cobwebs, and bringing outdoor chair cushions out of winter storage.
- Pamper the Lawn
Once the danger of frost has passed and your grass starts to come out of winter dormancy, it’s time to jump-start your spring lawn-care routine. Address winter damage to your turf by seeding bare patches—although if you do reseed at this time of year, you should avoid spring applications of chemical weed or crabgrass treatments, which can harm new grass. Then get a head start on weed prevention by manually removing broad-leaf weeds before they have a chance to multiply. For cool-season grasses, spread a light application of fertilizer in early spring; for warm-season grasses, fertilization can wait until late spring or early summer.
- Groom Shrubs and Trees
Winter storms can be hard on your landscaping, resulting in broken tree limbs, ragged shrubs, and a garden full of organic debris. Get your yard ready for spring by removing broken or damaged branches, pruning summer-blooming trees and shrubs like butterfly bush and crepe myrtle, and raking up fallen leaves. For information on our Storm Damage services, click here.
- Check the Roof
Take advantage of the sun’s return to check your roof for cracked or missing shingles or tiles, and examine flashing around vents and the chimney for damage. While you’re at it, have the chimney cleaned and inspected by a professional.
- Plant Bulbs
Spring is the ideal time to plant summer-blooming flowers, which include beauties like dahlias and gladioli. Go ahead and get them into the ground as soon as the danger of frost has passed.
- Clean Windows
Winter storms and rain can leave your windows streaked and dirty. Improve your view of mellower weather and let more sun into the house by cleaning windows, both inside and out. Storm Damage ? Click here.
- Test Alarms
Let the change of season be your reminder to test all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors for proper functioning. Change batteries if necessary. Alarms can malfunction as they age, so if yours are older than seven years, consider replacing them.
Happy Spring, Canton ! In need of SERVPRO of Canton services ? Questions ? Visit our website or call us at - 330-966-2377
Is Your Business Ready?
When disaster strikes, getting help is now quicker and easier using the SERVPRO Ready Plan.
The best way to reduce business interruption following a disaster is to PLAN for it NOW.
The statistics uncovered by industry research say as many as 50% of businesses may never recover following a disaster. Of the businesses that survive, the majority had a preparedness plan in place.
SERVPRO's Emergency Ready Profile for YOUR business will minimize business interruption by having an immediate plan of action. With a no cost assessment of your facility, the program's profile includes your emergency contacts, all shut off valves and their locations, priority areas of your facility and more.
The SERVPRO Ready Plan provides solutions in advance of an emergency so that during the emergency you are "Ready for whatever happens."
Your business will receive the benefit of over 40 years of experience in reducing the impact of any natural or man-made disaster. Call now and take the next step in protecting and growing your business.
SERVPRO of Canton - 800-648-1212
And now with the SERVPRO Ready Plan Mobile App, help is at your fingertips. Call now and ask how to get started.
Preparing for Spring
There are dangers posed by wet or flooded basements, so it's important to call a flood damage professional like SERVPRO of Canton.
Well, folks, Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow, predicting 6 more weeks of winter. While we have trusted the Pennsylvania groundhog for countless years, additional weather-predicting rodents have called for an early Spring this year, 2018. That being said, it is never too soon to begin preparing for the back and forth weather that Spring is.
The most severe of storms Spring can bring are thunderstorms. When warm, moist air collides with cool, dry air, thunderstorms can bring lightning, tornadoes and flooding, and if not properly prepared, this can cause extensive damage to your home or business.
Below are 5 ways to prepare your home for storm damage that can cost you hundreds, even thousands, of dollars, if not kept on mind:
- Clean your gutters. Clear any debris from your gutters to make sure all the rain water can easily flow off your roof away from your home. When water can't get through your gutters, it pools on your roof and around your house. For further information on this subject, refer to our blog post, "Rain Gutters and Water Problems."
- Trim your trees. Some of the worst storm damage is caused by falling trees. A healthy, sturdy tree is unlikely to topple in high winds, but one with dead limbs, or disproportionate growth might. Spring is the perfect time to contact an arborist to evaluate your trees, and if you’ve got large trees on your property, you should have them evaluated yearly. Maintaining them will help you protect both your property and the tree itself.
- Back up your sump pump. When heavy rains come, sump pumps can get overloaded. A flooded basement can cause all sorts of damage to your contents, and when water covers wiring or electric appliances, things get dangerous. Make sure your sump pump has a battery backup just in case the electricity goes out. You might also consider installing a second, battery operated pump that will come on if the main one fails.
- Gather emergency supplies. American Red Cross recommends keeping a three-day supply of food and water for your family, and a seven-day supply of any medications. You might also add a battery operated radio, and a car adapter for your cell phone.
- Grade your yard. If water pools around your home, your foundation is in jeopardy. Ensuring that your yard slopes away from your home will keep rain water from sitting by your foundation and causing damage. Click here for a YouTube tutorial, provided by "This Old House," on how to grade your home. Most lawn companies, however, offer this service.
As we get closer to the rainy season, consider these five steps to keep your home and family safe.
Do you have water problems ? Call SERVPRO of Canton for help- 330-966-2377
Rain Gutters and Water Problems
The financial costs of poor drainage can be substantial, and the human health costs significant too.
Most homes have gutter downspouts that lead straight to the ground, which means all the water from the roof is pouring to just one point where it can collect against a home's foundation. This most often causes the water drainage problems and, thus, the damage.
Prevention is important. Here are some clues that you may have a problem with your gutters:
- Areas where the ground is wet for long periods of time after it rains or the sprinklers are running signal an area where the water is collecting
- Discoloration and mold growth on a home's foundation and siding or paint is easily falling off your house are indications that water is pooling.
- Musty smells in your basement or crawlspace signal water may be getting into your home.
Financial costs of poor water drainage can add up, but the good news is that gutter problems are an easy fix.
Do you have water damage in your home or business ? Call SERVPRO of Canton's 24/7 Emergency Service line at 330-966-2366 or request help online at our franchise website.
Renters Insurance and a Squirrel On Fire- What You Need to Know
Blow torch the fur, they said. It'll be great, they said. One massive fire later... Better call SERVPRO.
It's been proven, Canton, that using a blowtorch to remove the fur of a squirrel is not an intelligent thing to do. Renter's insurance, however, is absolutely an intelligent thing to do, especially if you insist on using a blowtorch on your rented property to remove the fur of a squirrel rather than use a knife to skin the thing.
$300k renters insurance settlement proves you shouldn’t blowtorch a squirrel, a piece written by Marc Christopherson and published on LiveInsuranceNews.com, tells its readers the crime, the consequences and the solution of blow torching a squirrel on rental premises and setting afire multiple units of the apartment complex. What I want our readers to pay attention to is the insurance company's role in this situation and understand the impact of having renters insurance.
To keep it simple, they believed the blow torch would remove the fur from the squirrel so they could eat it as their main course meal. They did not intend to light on fire their apartment unit as well as those around theirs, but that is precisely what happened, causing $2 million in damage.
Naturally, the complex owners sued the couple for the damage costs and the case moved its way around the appeals court, never reaching an agreement until about 4 years later.
Finally, in August of 2016, the apartment complex and the tenant's renters insurance company agreed on a settlement of $300,000, which would be paid by the insurance company to the complex owners. That is not exactly the $2 million settlement the complex wanted, but you can't have it all, I guess.
The fact to take away from this story is that without renters insurance, who knows where this couple would be now. $300,000 from their insurance policy compared to $2 million from who knows where, having their renters insurance, an annual or monthly price that is very affordable, saved their you-know-what's in the end.
But, seriously, blow torching a squirrel ? Kids, don't try this at home. Actually, I take that back- kids and adults, don't try this ever.
For more information on this story, follow this link.
Do you have fire damage to your home or business ? No matter the cause, squirrel or oven grease, we will help. Call us today at 330-966-2377, or request help online.
Frozen and Burst Pipes- Understand and Take Precaution
"Even a small crack in a burst pipe can spew hundreds or even thousands of gallons of water in a day."
If your pipes are exposed to temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit for an extended period of time, the water can freeze and cause extensive damage to your home. This can be avoided!
Frozen pipes can occur for two basic reasons:
- Installation of pipes in an unheated space without adequate protection
- Insufficient heat in the area of the freeze
What types of pipes are susceptible this situation? Domestic water piping, HVAC heating and cooling piping and sprinkler piping are all vulnerable if left in cold and unprotected conditions as stated above. Plastic and metal pipes can burst when they freeze, and depending on the size of the pipe, even a small crack in a burst pipe can spew hundreds or even thousands of gallons of water in a day.
Why does a pipe burst, anyway? Well, when water freezes, it expands. The ice expansion will exert pressure against the pipe wall but also pressurizes the water trapped between the ice and a closed valve or fixture. As the water continues to freeze and expand inside the pipe, it causes the trapped water to continue to increase in pressure, thus, just as a can of soda will burst in your freezer, so does your water pipe.
Some common locations where pipes will freeze are outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, fire sprinkler lines and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas. These areas include basements, crawlspaces, attics, garages, bathroom sink cabinets and kitchen cabinets. Pipes along exterior walls that have little or no insulation, voids in the insulation or improperly installed building wrap are subject to freezing. You might want to check in on that sooner rather than later. Review the International Plumbing Code by clicking here.
On what you, the homeowner, can do to prevent a pipe burst from happening, refer back to our blog piece, "How to Thaw a Frozen Pipe."
Remember, this stressful situation can be avoided if you think ahead!
With any questions or if your home has been water-damaged, call SERVPRO of Canton on our 24/7 Emergency Service line, 330-966-2377 or Request Help Online.
Call SERVPRO of Canton
Our franchise professionals are uniquely qualified to help. Need Help? Call us at 330-966-2377
SERVPRO of Canton understands the stress that comes with damage to your home or business, whether it be from fire, water, mold, storm or even biohazards. Our franchise professionals are uniquely qualified to help.
Our team is trained to IICRC standards in fire and water cleanup and restoration. In addition, we have Employee Certification Training, Initial Franchise Training, e-Learnings and Continuing Education Classes. For more information on our training program, click here.
Restoring your property is SERVPRO's first priority, and restoring your property is less expensive than replacing your property.
We respond immediately to your loss with our 24/7 Emergency Service team. 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.
For more information on SERVPRO of Canton, visit our Company Profile page.
Need Help? Call us at 330-966-2377, or Request Help Online.
How to Remove Mold And Mildew Stains From Washable Clothes
Even if you can't see any spots or growth, if the odor is present there are spores growing and treatment is necessary.
Mold can easily grow on clothes and fabric if you have too much moisture in your home. Clothes made of cotton or other organic materials make great food sources for mold and mildew to live on.
There are a few tips to keep in mind when removing mold from clothes:
- It's best to wash your clothes in hot water. Hot water kills mold more effectively than cold water and better removes mold spores and allergens too. Of course make sure you don't use water so hot that it can damage your clothing.
- When you're washing your clothes with a mold killing solution, it's best to wash them through at least two full cycles. Then after your clothes have been washed hang them on the line in the sun. The heat from the sun and the sun's ultraviolet light help to kill mold.
There are quite a few solutions you can wash moldy clothes in to get rid of the mold. Some good ones include:
- Baking soda
- Mold killing detergent
For the full article and a step-by-step explanation of the cleaning process, click here.
Does your home or business have mold damage? Call SERVPRO of Canton at 800-648-1212
Include Safety in Your Thanksgiving Holiday
Candles cause an estimated 15,600 house fires, 150 deaths, and 1,270 injuries each year. Never leave a candle unattended.
Especially during the holidays, the kitchen is the heart of the home. From baking and decorating cookies to testing family recipes, keeping kitchen fire safety at the top of your mind is a must- certainly when there is a lot of activity and people in one space.
Some Thanksgiving not-so-fun facts:
- Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Eve/Day.
- In 2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,760 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving.
- Unattended cooking was the leading contributing factor in cooking fires and fire deaths.
With that said, here are some safety tips for the 2017 Thanksgiving holiday:
- Stay in the kitchen/home when you are cooking so you can keep an eye on the food.
- Make sure kids stay away from the stove and oven.
- Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
- Be sure electric cords are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child or pet.
- Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children.
- Never leave children alone in room with a lit candle.
- Make sure your smoke alarms are working.
Caution is not a buzz kill. A house fire, on the other hand, is.
Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday, Canton, OH!
How to Thaw a Frozen Pipe
A frozen pipe exerts pressure at over 2,000 Lbs/ square inch, enough pressure to rupture almost any pipe filled with water.
Frozen water pipes are a serious risk during very cold winter weather. When water freezes in a pipe it expands and can exert pressure at over 2,000 pounds per square inch. This pressure is enough to rupture almost any pipe filled with water, which provides no place for the ice to expand. A burst pipe can spill several hundred gallons of water per hour, and that equates to thousands of dollars of damage to your home. Pipes are most susceptible to freezing when they are located:
- in an outside wall
- in a cabinet under a sink (especially near an outside wall)
- in an unheated crawl space or basement
If your pipe is frozen but not yet ruptured, you must thaw it right away. There are a few thawing techniques to try, depending on where the frozen pipe is located.
Warning: Never use a blow torch or other open flame to thaw a pipe. This presents a serious fire hazard and can damage the pipe.
A frozen pipe that hasn't burst yet often reveals itself at a faucet: when you turn on the faucet and no water comes out or it has slowed to a trickle, there's probably a blockage of ice somewhere in the line. It's time take immediate action:
- Shut off the water to the faucet locally or at the home's main water shutoff valve.
- Open the faucet that is supplied by the frozen pipe; do this even if you don't know where the blockage is.
- Identify the frozen pipe and locate the blockage: Follow the pipe back from the faucet to where it runs through cold areas, such as an exterior wall or unheated crawl space. Look for areas on the pipe that have frost or ice; it may also be slightly bulged or fissured.
When you find that the frozen—but not yet burst—pipe is behind a wall or ceiling, you've got a challenge on your hands. You have three options for thawing the pipe:
- Turn up the heat in the house and wait.
- Cut out a section of the wall or ceiling to access the frozen section of pipe, then thaw the pipe as an exposed pipe (see next slide).
- Use an infrared lamp to help heat the wall section in front of where you believe the pipe is frozen. Infrared lamps are better than regular heat lamps because they pass through the air without heating it and will direct more energy to warming the wall and frozen pipe.
If the frozen pipe is exposed, you have several options for thawing it. Whichever remedy use use, heat the pipe from the faucet toward the frozen area. This allows water to flow out as the ice melts.
- Hair dryer: Usually the easiest and safest way to thaw a pipe. If the pipe is close to the wall, place a cookie sheet behind the pipe to help radiate heat onto the backside of the pipe.
- Heat lamp: You can use an infrared or incandescent heat lamp. As with a hair dryer, if the pipe is close to the wall, use a cookie sheet behind the pipe to help reflect heat onto the pipe.
- Portable heater: A small, powerful heater works great for warming pipes under a kitchen or vanity base cabinet. Direct the heater onto the frozen section of pipe. It will work like a hair dryer on steroids!
- Electric pipe heat tape: Heat tape is a ribbon-like wrap that contains electrical heating elements. You wrap it around the pipe you want to heat and plug it into the wall. The temperature of the tape is controlled with a thermostat. Heat tape can also be used to prevent pipes from freezing in critical areas; you can leave the heat tape on the pipe and plug it in only when needed.
There are a few things you can do to prevent the problem of freezing pipes from occurring again:
- Leave the faucet dripping slightly during the coldest time of the day or night.
- Open the cabinet doors to allow the heated air from the room to reach pipes inside the cabinet.
- Wrap the problem pipe with electrical heat tape.
- Insulate problem pipes with foam insulation wrap, especially those that run through unheated spaces. Note: Insulation merely slows the transfer of heat and will not prevent a pipe from freezing if the surrounding air is cold enough.
- Heat unheated areas with a permanent heater, just to keep the temperature above freezing, or about 40 degrees F. Warning: Do not use portable heaters, which should never be left running unattended.
- Remove garden hoses attached to outdoor faucets (hose bibs or sill cocks). If the faucet is not a frost-proof type, turn off the water to the faucet inside the house and drain the exterior section of the pipe and faucet.
Is It Possible to Restore Clothes that Have Been Affected by Mold?
If you decide to remove mold from clothes yourself, be sure you do it safely. Refer back to our blog for more on clothing restoration.
Any garment or fabric that has not suffered physical deterioration or discoloration as a result of mold growing on it, and that is washable (typically, a minimum of 130ºF for at least 10 minutes), can be restored completely. That goes for bacterial contamination as well, as evidenced by hospitals daily as they wash linens, gowns, surgical drapes, etc.
Dry cleaning also does a good job when evaluated and cleaned - often twice - by a qualified professional. Again, this assumes no deterioration or discoloration of the garment. Ultimately, sampling and evaluation by a qualified environmental professional can be used to confirm remediation of the garment.
Professional restoration technicians understand the need for quick response. Immediate remediation is key to controlling any escalating costs. The longer the remediation is delayed, the higher the cost of restoration. Certified restorers have the knowledge to test materials and apply the restoration techniques required to return the items to their preloss condition. Look for the IICRC logo to verify IICRC certification.
Does your home or business have mold damage? Call SERVPRO of Canton at 800-648-1212
A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture and Your Home
SERVPRO of Canton can respond quickly, working to first contain the infestation and prevent its spread to other parts of the building.
Provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Air and Radiation- Indoor Environments Division, this Guide provides information and guidance for homeowners and renters on how to clean up residential mold problems and how to prevent mold growth.
- Mold Basics
- Why is mold growing in my home?
- Can mold cause health problems?
- How do I get rid of mold?
- Mold Cleanup
- Who should do the cleanup?
- Mold Cleanup Guidelines
- What to Wear When Cleaning Moldy Areas
- How Do I Know When the Remediation or Cleanup is Finished?
- Moisture and Mold Prevention and
- Actions that will help to reduce humidity
- Actions that will help prevent condensation
- Testing or sampling for mold
- Hidden Mold
- Cleanup and Biocides
- Additional Resources
Click Here for the full PDF file
Have a Mold Problem? Call SERVPRO of Canton Today – 800-648-1212
Agents: Watch Word Choice in Claims Letters
The following bullets point out random errors in word choice. You may not lose a client because you make a poor word choice, but you’re not helping the relationship either. Here are several word choice issues to watch for as you phrase your letters:
- “ABC Insurance Company will make no voluntary payment of your claim…” Voluntary?
- "e.g., and i.e.," most people don’t know the difference. Use e.g., when you are giving examples; use i.e., to introduce your thought “in other words.”
- “Exception” and “exclusion” are words that have their own meanings. One adjuster wrote,” the exception that pertains to your loss can be found in your policy and is provided below for your reference. I think the word should be “exclusion.”
Here’s the difference: An insurance policy tells you what is covered.
Exclusions are classes of items that are not covered, such as nuclear war, acts of God, or terrorism. Exceptions are “exclusions to the exclusions, reinstating particular items within a whole category that had been “excluded.” For example, a homeowner’s policy may have an exclusion for all motorized vehicles. The exception to that exclusion might be a lawnmower, because a mower helps service the premises.
- “Said” – Very legalistic: “Said payment would allow you a discount of $300.” Just write, “This payment would allow you a discount of $300.”
- “Regard” and “Regards.” Do not write, “This is in regards to…” Write, “This is in regard to…”
- “Were” and “was.” Take the phrase, “If there were no coverage…” Using “were,” known as the subjunctive mood in English, represents situations contrary to fact.
- “Confirm.” When you confirm a lunch date, you restate your agreement as to the time and place. In insurance, however, it’s common to see a claims letter that starts, “This will confirm my phone call of 4/11/17." But what does “confirm” mean? Is the writer summarizing the previous call? Documenting it? Confirming is something you do to re-check a future date or agreement.
- “Advise.” About 80 percent of the time claims people use “advise,” they just mean “tell” or “inform.” No need to use “advise” in a sentence like, “Let me advise you that it will rain today.” There is no “advice” being given. However, if you write, “Let me advise you to bring your umbrella,” you are using “advise” correctly.
"Your grammar is a reflection of your image. Good or bad, you have made an impression, and like all impressions, you are in total control." -Jeffrey Gitomer
Preparing Your Home for Winter Weather- Avoiding Water Damage
Inspect your roof and gutters on a regular basis — at least twice a year.
With winter on the way, we’re heading into a busy time of year that includes several major holidays coming back-to-back. The last thing we want to worry about is the risk of water damage due to the changing weather.
Here are some wintertime considerations to keep your home safe and reduce, or even prevent, possible insurance risks:
- Keep your drains and gutters clean. Exactly how frequently depends on where you live, but you want to plan for twice a year. Clogged gutters can cause a few issues including roof leaks. If your gutters can't drain properly, the excess water can soak through the shingles and eventually start leaking into your home. Don't forget melting snow can also fill up the gutters, causing similar issues!
- Inspect your roof for damage and leaks. While you're cleaning those gutters, take the time to inspect your roof. Keep an eye our for cracks, leaks where different parts of the roof meet, and general wear and tear. You should do this also twice a year at least.
- Water expands, its mass increasing by about 9% when it freezes. Blocked pipes result in a buildup of pressure, which can cause a burst pipe, equipment malfunction, or contaminated water back-up inside the building. To avoid this, consider insulating your water lines and using heat tape as well.
- For extreme weather, it is wise to always leave a tap running at a trickle because running water is less likely to freeze.
Watch for our next blog post on how to defrost a frozen water pipe.
Defending Your Family Business Against Fraud
Fraud can occur anywhere within a company and the right controls can limit its successful execution.
In a study done by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), the 2016 Global Fraud Study found that "businesses with fewer than 100 employees, which are in many cases family-owned, experience fraud at a rate of 28.8%, compared to the 19.8% experienced by those with more than 10,000 employees."
Smaller business often suffer more from fraudulent activities. It's more difficult to manage the damage it causes in a $5 million company than a $250 million company. This kind of activity also damages the company culture.
The median fraudulent loss suffered by small organizations is the same as large organizations: $150,000. However, while it is the same number, this number takes up a larger percentage of the small business revenue.
Here are 5 ways to defend your small business from fraudulent activities and enforce internal controls:
- Segregate financial duties. Create a three-person system of checks and balances: one person opens the bank statements, one prepares the bank reconciliations, and a third reviews all transactions and canceled checks.
- Stay away from signature stamps. Family and small businesses should require two signatures for any payment over a certain monetary amount.
- Establish routine checks of payroll, supplier and vendor lists by multiple people within the company. The final payroll list should be reviewed by someone other than the person distributing checks and preparing the payroll, and the list of vendors should periodically be checked for unrecognized names.
- Educate employees on financial reporting. To increase levels of security, outsource your financial reporting and ensure someone is monitoring for fraud.
- Every employee — including family members — should understand protocols in a business from expectations to pay rates and benefits. Clear expectations help avoid a power struggle and will clearly define who is double-checking various aspects of the business.
Fraud can happen anywhere. The more you believe it won't happen to your business, the more susceptible you become to it.
Source: 5 Ways to Defend Your Family Business Against Fraud by Bill Kowalski
Mold Cleanup Information for You and Your Family
We invest in the latest equipment and ongoing mold remediation training because it helps us restore your home or business quickly and effectively.
Molds are a natural part of the environment. They can be found anywhere there is water and moisture, so the key to controlling them in and around your home or business is moisture control. If mold is found in your home or business, you should clean up the mold promptly and fix the water problem immediately. It is also important to dry water-damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer resources for proper and safe mold cleanup. Click here for more information on mold cleanup information for you and your family.
Mold Damage? SERVPRO of Canton will help- 330-966-2377
Also check out our webpage for our mold remediation process.
Why a Fire Restoration Contractor is the Way to Go
When fire & water damage strikes, a fast response is critical. We’re dedicated to responding immediately, day or night, to your Summit County property
A fire restoration contractor can help you restore your home properly after a house fire.
When you hire a fire restoration company, it dispatches several fire restoration contractors, each of whom has the knowledge to use the tools necessary to complete the job. Their skills vary, from reducing the dangers in your home after a fire to preventing secondary water damage. Hiring a fire restoration contractor is an excellent idea because it allows the experts to work on many different things at once, which lets you focus on other things like insurance matters.
A Fire Restoration Contractor’s Equipment
A fire restoration contractor has a variety of tools and the knowledge necessary to use them effectively. One example of this is an ozonation machine. This machine generates ozone, a toxic gas, which fills the house and can partially reverse the effects of smoke odor from embedding itself in everything. These machines are expensive and dangerous, and only a qualified professional should use them.
Getting a referral from your insurance provider is an excellent idea. This ensures that the company you hire has contractors that actively implement sound business practices and can restore your home properly and in accordance with any applicable laws. In addition to this, this method allows you to be sure that the contracting company and your insurance provider can work well together and agree on an appropriate settlement.
Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
Call Us Today – 330-650-4486
The Truth About 100-Year Floods
The above image includes a diagram demonstrating the magnitude and frequency of water levels during a flood.
Whenever a strong hurricane or storm causes significant flooding, there is often talk of a 100-year flood. People will think a flood of that magnitude occurs once every hundred years, so they should be safe from harm for the next hundred years. Some base their decision to buy flood insurance on this false belief, putting them at risk of a catastrophic loss.
In order to determine the true frequency of floods, scientists will create a history of the area, tracking the frequency of different sized floods and the average number of years between them to develop the probability of a given sized flood in a particular year.
But rain volume alone does not always create the flood. The condition of the ground before the rain is critically important. If the area has received a lot of rain recently and the ground is already saturated, less rain is needed to flood the area. If the area has been experiencing a drought and the rain is falling fast, it is possible for the water to run off instead of soaking into the ground.
Factors such as a river basin and the addition of dams and levees will be considered. Once a flood recedes, high-water marks will be surveyed by scientists to estimate the maximum flows and streamgages will record the height and quantity of flow.
Explained by Property Casualty 360 in their article "The truth about 100-year floods," "The accumulation of data allows for a determination of the annual probability that a given stream or river will exceed its banks. This is known as annual exceedance probability, or AEP. A 1% AEP flood has a 1 in 100 chance of occurring every year, with an average recurrence every 100 years. This is the 100-year flood." They also predict during a span of a 30-year mortgage, "there is a 26% chance of a home in a 1% AEP, or 100-year flood area, of being flooded."
Questions about flood damage? Call SERVPRO of Canton today at- 330-966-2377.
Mobile Homes- Are They Covered?
Wind-damaged mobile homes in Oklahoma.
We might be in Ohio, away from all the severe hurricane damage to trailer parks in Florida, Georgia and Texas, but this does not change how the events have changed our perspective on these homes' insurance coverage.
That perspective being: this is important!
Enlightened by Property Casualty 360's article, Mobile homes — A unique insurance exposure, a mobile home serves as both a home and a vehicle. When on the road, authorities treat it as a vehicle, and once settled down in a trailer park, it becomes a home.
Because of the portable and lightweight nature of mobile homes, wind is a significant hazard! Hurricanes and tornadoes, especially, can cause significant damage to mobile homes with the high winds easily flipping, uplifting and damaging the home.
Strap-downs and straps are required to offer stability from these cases, and some newer models use frame anchors tied to the chassis. Some carriers may require a particular type of tie-down for a specific part of the country. Wind zone ratings will indicate how much wind a mobile home can withstand.
With all this in consideration, is the part-vehicle part-home eligible for homeowner's insurance? Coverage is offered for when the mobile home is on the move, covering collision, collision defined as it is in the auto policy.
"As long as the collision happens while the vehicle is being transported there is coverage," Property Casualty 360's article reads. "Not covered is a loss caused by the home making contact with the transportation vehicle that results in damage to the home unless the transport vehicle was in an accident. The coverage applies for 30 days from the effective date on the endorsement. Coverage also includes upset of the home while it is in transit or stranding or sinking if the home is on a licensed ferry line."
Mobile homes require their own coverage needs, meaning its policy will be different from a homeowner's policy. There are carriers that specialize in mobile homes and the coverages they need:
Do you have storm damage? Call SERVPRO of Canton at 330-966-2377
Fire Safety: Unplug Household Appliances
The consumption of household appliances worldwide is forecast to generate nearly 590 billion U.S. dollars in revenues by 2020.
With electric appliances being so common in modern homes, it's easy to forget that there are very real risks and hazards associated with their use and even non-use.
Being safe when using electrical appliances, extension cords, light bulbs and other equipment is easy. It only takes one mistake to spark an electrical fire, but simple prevention measures can be effective solutions.
These safety tips can help keep all appliances operating safely and help you prevent unexpected fires in the home:
- Ensure any appliances you purchase are approved by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or another reputable consumer laboratory.
- Unplug unused appliances and store cords safely out of reach of pets, young children or hazardous situations.
- Appliances that generate heat, such as clocks, televisions and computer monitors, should be given several inches of clearance all around for good air circulation and cooling.
- Do not attempt amateur repairs or upgrades.
- Keep all electric appliances away from water such as sinks, bathtubs, pools or overhead vents that may drip.
- Do not operate any electrical appliance with wet hands or while standing in water.
- Keep clothes, curtains toys and other potentially combustible materials away from radiators, space heaters, heating vents and other heat sources.
Source: Stephanie Sage of Sage Restoration
To read more on this subject, click here.
Have Questions about Fire Safety? Do you have fire damage? Call Us Today – (330) 966-2377
Hotel Chain Suffers Water Loss: What Will the Carrier Pay?
The extent of the destruction will be the most determining factor when calculating price. Most restoration companies bill by the square foot.
Inside a Property Casualty article discussing property damage repairs and what the carrier will cover in replacement costs, there is a question regarding a water loss at a hotel chain with a replacement cost policy. Read below:
Question: Our insured is a hotel that suffered water damage to some of its rooms. The insured is a franchisee and has an agreement with the hotel chain that requires replacement of damaged decor with current decor; all of the rooms on the same floor must be updated to the current decor. The hotel has a replacement cost policy, but the other furniture was not damaged. The carrier's position is that it is not responsible for the non-damaged rooms. What should the carrier pay?
Answer: This scenario differs from the matching issue, about which we often receive questions. The carrier is correct in not paying to bring all of the rooms up to the current decor. There is no loss or damage to the other rooms, and while the rooms would not match each other, this is not something that would be apparent to guests. Nothing in the self-contained rooms themselves would be mismatched.
If the chain requires franchisees to maintain a uniform look to all rooms on a floor, that falls more under the cost of doing business. If the rooms themselves are not damaged, it is not an insurance matter to bring them up to speed with the other rooms.
If items in the rooms themselves are not matched, that would be a different matter. For instance, if a headboard needed to be replaced on one bed but a matching one could not be found, then both headboards should be replaced.
Does your commercial property have water damage? Call our 24/7 Emergency Service number, 330-966-2377, or ask for help online.
Read more on our Commercial Restoration Services.
The Basics of Sewer Backup Insurance
Our Professionals are trained to regular IICRC industry certifications, Employee Certification Training, Initial Franchise Training & Continuing Edu.
While shopping for home insurance, it's important to anticipate all the headaches that can go along with home-ownership, including sewer backup.
When sewage flows into your home, it can cause thousands of dollars in damage, and typical home insurance and flood insurance policies won't cover those expenses.
If your sewer's system's pipeline combines storm water and sewage, it's more likely to become overloaded during harsh weather. Tree roots can enter your pipes and cause blockages, or improperly disposing of cooking grease or flushing inappropriate objects down the toilet (diapers, feminine hygiene products or paper towels).
Many homeowners may not realize they are responsible for the maintenance and repair of the pipeline between the city sewer main, usually located in the street, and their house.
Sewage backup coverage is available from most insurers as a rider to a home insurance policy. Coverage for $5,000 to $10,000 in damages can run about $75 to $150 a year, according to FEMA, and there's usually a deductible.
If sewage seeps into your home, not only does the spill itself need to be addressed, but your plumbing may need to be flushed or replaced. Duct-work carpets, drapes and walls may be soiled, possibly beyond repair. Ewser backup insurance helps pay for incidental damage, such as cleaning contents, walls and furniture and some policies may cover work on plumbing.
To get the maximum claims payment to which you're entitled, make sure you have photos on hand of what your home looked like before the damage took place. That way, you can provide your claims adjuster with "before" and "after" pictures. Be sure to itemize property losses and save all receipts for repairs and cleaning.
Do you have water damage in your home?
For help restoring your home after a water loss, call our 24/7 Emergency Service team at 330-966-2377
Water Damage After A Major Storm
SERVPRO Canton arrives quickly & starts the water extraction process almost immediately, minimizing the damage and the cleaning and restoration costs.
When a major storm passes close to the house, the home may suffer water damage that is difficult to repair.
There are many things a family can do to begin repairing any destruction, but a certified professional will likely be needed to get rid of any serious health or structural threats. Contaminated storm surges or floods can carry pathogens and become a breeding ground for mold. If allowed to fester, these mold spores can spread throughout the building and become even more difficult to remove. In many cases, governmental agencies could condemn the structure if the microbial threat is too great.
The main reason a home is sensitive to water damage is because moisture is difficult to detect once the floods recede. Standing liquids can encourage microbial growth within 24 hours and can saturate all kinds of textiles and seep through drywall. Moisture may collect behind the walls, where mold and bacteria may multiply out of sight.
Professional restoration services can quickly identify what items in the home are compromised by water damage. Normally, anything that is porous may need to be discarded if it has come in contact with contaminated fluids. These items, like mattresses, box springs, pillows and particle board, trap more moisture than other materials and foster the growth of microbes.
A family can prepare for professional cleaning by getting rid of these items before the technicians arrive, but be sure to properly record and itemize the items for insurance purposes prior to disposing. Once professionals arrive at the building, they will be able to track down any pockets of excess moisture and remove them.
It’s important for a family to hire professionals that are certified through a reputable organization. Technicians trained in this area know how to find compromised areas and do what it takes to restore them.
Flood damage in your home or business? Call SERVPRO of Canton today at our 24/7 Emergency Service Line - (330) 966-2377 or at our Online Help Line.
Why a Fire Restoration Contractor is the Way to Go
Our “restore first” mentality gets you back into your home or business quicker and with less disruption to your life.
A fire restoration contractor can help you restore your home properly after a house fire.
When you hire a fire restoration company, it dispatches several fire restoration contractors, each of whom has the knowledge to use the tools necessary to complete the job. Their skills vary, from reducing the dangers in your home after a fire to preventing secondary water damage. Hiring a fire restoration contractor is an excellent idea because it allows the experts to work on many different things at once, which lets you focus on other things like insurance matters.
A Fire Restoration Contractor’s Equipment
A fire restoration contractor has a variety of tools and the knowledge necessary to use them effectively. One example of this is an ozonation machine. This machine generates ozone, a toxic gas, which fills the house and can partially reverse the effects of smoke odor from embedding itself in everything. These machines are expensive and dangerous, and only a qualified professional should use them.
Getting a referral from your insurance provider is an excellent idea. This ensures that the company you hire has contractors that actively implement sound business practices and can restore your home properly and in accordance with any applicable laws. In addition to this, this method allows you to be sure that the contracting company and your insurance provider can work well together and agree on an appropriate settlement.
Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
Call Us Today – 330-966-2377
Overcoming Hoarding: 12 Tips
There’s obviously the assault on your eyes of the quantity of the clutter, then there’s the appreciation of what a mishmash the clutter is. -WebMD
Compulsive hoarding, also known as hoarding disorder, is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them, according to MayoClinic.org. Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of value, occurs.
People with compulsive hoarding may not see it as a problem, and this makes treatment challenging. Below are some tips to overcoming hoarding, pulled from Oprah.com:
- Just because you can think of a use for an object, doesn't mean you need to keep it. If you haven't used an object in over a year, if you didn't know you had it until you found it, you can probably live without it.
- More is not necessarily better. Try to get rid of the extras.
- Categorize items into piles. A pile of things to keep, to donate, to sell or give away, and to throw away, but don't make too many piles and stress yourself out.
- Don't overthink. If the decision takes you more than a couple of minutes for a particular object, you're making it too complicated.
- Learn to get past the imperfections- you don't have to do a perfect job, just a good enough job.
- Only Handle It Once (OHIO). If you pick something up, make a decision and put it where it belongs.
- Be brave. The people who gain the most are usually those who are willing to risk the most.
- Understand what you're afraid of, and recognize when your fears are irrational. Ask yourself, what's the worst that can happen if I throw this out? How bad would that really be? Then discard it and watch for whether or not that bad thing happened.
- Be patient. No one overcomes compulsive hoarding overnight. Take it one room at a time.
- Keep the ball rolling. Clean things as they come along before they become overwhelming problems. Once you start, don't stop. Create a pattern, 5 minutes a day, 30 minutes...
- Be strict with yourself. Promise yourself a reward for doing it.
- Know when to ask for help. Compulsive hoarding is a potentially serious mental health issue. If you can overcome it on your own, great. If you can't, get help from someone who has experienced it.
For further information, visit WebMD.
Winter is Coming: Prepare Your Business for Winter
A winter storm can bring with it sleet, ice, high winds, and heavy snow, which can result in sudden unexpected commercial property damage.
September has arrived and before we know it so will Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then the holidays. Is your business ready for the frigid temperatures, the heavy snowfall?
According to Leavitt Group's article, Prepare Your Business for Winter Weather, In the past five years, 15 percent of small businesses have experienced damages caused by water and freezing. The average cost of these claims is $17,000.
Leavitt Group also discusses common types of winter-related damages, including:
- Damage to contents, inventory and equipment caused by significant temperature changes.
- Water damage caused by pipes freezing and bursting.
- Wind damage to roofs, buildings and landscape.
- Fire suppression efforts delayed by inaccessible fire hydrants (covered by snow or ice)
- Frozen fire suppression sprinkler pipes, resulting in flooded rooms and malfunction of system.
- Ice damming, resulting in damage to roof and gutters.
- Injury to guests and employees.
- Loss of revenue (business interruption).
Taking preventative actions now while the weather is still warm is incredibly important and could save you business a lot of time and money. Here are some maintenance tips Leavitt Group suggests in preparing your business for winter:
- Drain water from all systems and equipment not needed in winter months, including landscape sprinklers and air conditioning units
- Check for and repair damages to the roof. Make sure roof drains are clear and in good condition. Clear rain gutters to ensure proper drainage and make sure downspouts are intact and draining in areas away from foot traffic
- Inspect the exterior of the building for gaps and seal appropriately to prevent weather and critters from getting inside
- Trim tree branches and lanscape that might come in contact with the building in the event of heavy snowfall and ice accumulation
- Make sure the heating system has enough fuel for unexpected conditions and a back-up in case of emergency
- Maintain a temperature of at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit in unoccupied facilities, attics and basements
- Make arrangements for snow removal with a reputable company before winter starts- don't wait until the storm hits and you are buried under a pile of snow. Discuss snow removal from the roof. To avoid damages from snow removal equipment, mark curbs, fire hydrants, drains, speed bumps and other features that may not be visible under a layer of snow
- Make sure you have sand, ice melt and shovels on hand for winter maintenance that won't be covered by your snow removal contractor
Begin checking off your maintenance needs while the weather still allows for it. Stay tuned for our next blog for commercial property owners, "Developing a Business Continuity Plan for the Winter Weather."
Have questions? Call our office at 800-648-1212 or our 24/7 Emergency Service number at 330-966-2377.
Storm Damage: Validating Claims Through Weather Data
In the past year, the U.S. was hit with 8 major storm and climate-related events that each caused more than a billion dollars in property damage.
Data and analytics can go a long way in improving inefficiencies and processes, weather data, to be specific, holding a significant value.
Extreme weather events will always occur and certain areas of the country are more susceptible than others. For the insurance claims industry, this data is especially critical to verify claims following an extreme weather event.
According to Aite Group, "79% of insurers believe that data and analytics will have a significant impact on meeting the needs of [property and casualty] (P&C) customers."
Insurers have several options in capturing data to enhance insurance claims. Drone assessment is among the list for property damage assessments. Pairing weather data with drone services and their accurate imagery of a site could add validity to a claims decision.
Lightning and hail data and additional advanced weather data technologies are imperative for insurance companies in improving internal efficiencies as well as customer operations.
Do you have storm damage? Call us at our 24/7 Emergency Service number, 330-966-2377.
Does Your Home or Business Have Mold?
almost all molds that grow in the built environment can produce triple helical glucan, both of which are toxic to lung cells.
Microscopic mold spores naturally occur almost everywhere, both outdoors and indoors. This makes it impossible to remove all mold from a home or business. Therefore, mold remediation reduces the mold spore count back to its natural or baseline level. Some restoration businesses advertise “mold removal” and even guarantee to remove all mold, which is a fallacy. Consider the following mold facts:
- Mold is present almost everywhere, indoors and outdoors.
- Mold spores are microscopic and float along in the air and may enter your home through windows, doors, or AC/heating systems or even hitch a ride indoors on your clothing or a pet.
- Mold spores thrive on moisture. Mold spores can quickly grow into colonies when exposed to water. These colonies may produce allergens and irritants.
- Before mold remediation can begin, any sources of water or moisture must be addressed. Otherwise, the mold may return.
- Mold often produces a strong, musty odor and can lead you to possible mold problem areas.
- Even higher-than-normal indoor humidity can support mold growth. Keep indoor humidity below 45 percent.
If your home or business has a mold problem, we can inspect and assess your property and use our specialized training, equipment, and expertise to remediate your mold infestation.
Follow These Tips If You Suspect Mold In Your Home or Business
Indoors, mold needs moisture to grow; it becomes a problem only where there is water damage, elevated and prolonged humidity, or dampness.
If you see visible mold, do not disturb it. You can inadvertently spread the mold infestation throughout your home or business. When mold is disturbed, the mold can release microscopic mold spores which become airborne and can circulate inside your building.
What to Do:
- Stay out of affected areas.
- Turn off the HVAC system and fans.
- Contact SERVPRO of Canton for mold remediation services.
What Not to Do:
- Don’t touch or disturb the mold.
- Don’t blow air across any surfaces with visible or suspected mold growth.
- Don’t attempt to dry the area yourself.
- Don’t spray bleach or other disinfectants on the mold.
About Our Mold Remediation Services
SERVPRO of Northern Summit County, Portage County and Canton specialize in mold cleanup and restoration, in fact, it’s a cornerstone of our business. Our crews are highly trained restoration professionals that use specialized equipment and techniques to properly remediate your mold problem quickly and safely.
If You See Signs of Mold, Call Us Today – (330) 966-2377
Creating a Killer Facebook Ad Campaign for Your Business
Marketing on Facebook doesn't have to be confusing and intimidating. Here are some things to consider when developing your Facebook Ad campaign, a simple and straightforward strategy that will expose your message to your ideal market and present a relevant message that drives prospects to take action:
- Target your audience. Identify your ideal client, find people who had had “liked” groups related to the subject, target a specific ZIP code or individuals who fall between certain ages. Facebook allows you to filter these and more demographics.
- The ideal budget. Facebook allows you to start your campaign budget at $5. As you progress, so can your investment.
- The perfect Facebook Ad. What should it look like?
- Don't mention pricing. Studies show that ads without price have 10% higher conversion rates.
- Add a face to the ad.
- Choose images that show the desired result of your clients, where they will be after your work.
- Test Red vs. Blue. Studies also show ads with red and blue have 20% higher conversion and click-through rates.
- Use a "call to action" button, such as "Apply Now."
- Where should the clicks go? You do not want to send your prospects to the home page of your website. Direct your traffic to a landing page where they can download a report, where the only action they can take is the next step in the process.
For details and graphics on this subject, click here to read the main article.
Cybercrime From An Insurance Perspective
MyDoom is considered the most expensive virus in the world and in cyber security history, having caused an estimated financial damage of $38.5B.
We've heard the stories. Cyber hacks influencing the presidential election, ransomware attacks across the globe. We might even think the hackers are winning the war- the cyber war, that is.
Insurance Business America discusses this matter with an insurance perspective in a recent article, interviewing James Shaheen, cyber risk practice leader at Integro.
According to Shaheen, with every attack, our cyber security experts learn something new, and counter every attack with a defense. It will take us some time, though, to figure out what we need to implement, where the gaps are in the security, to fully protect our data.
When it comes to insurance, Shaheen believes we are doing well in the protection of Protected Health Information (PHI), Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and the Payment Card Industry (PCI), but the concern is what he calls "second-tier data."
Second-tier data, or trade secrets, is what drives businesses, and is also what is not well protected by insurance from these cyber attacks.
Shaheen claims at Integro this is an issue being addressed and developed. How much would such a development be worth to your business?
To read Insurance Business America's article and for related stories, click here.
6 Ways to Protect Your Home From Flooding
The erosive force of moving water can drag dirt from under a building's foundation, causing it to crack and tumble.
Flooding can strike anywhere and at any time, and floods are the most common and most expensive natural disaster in the U.S. Ignoring the risk means a destroyed home and belongings, and mold soon follows that.
Your first step in avoiding this risk is knowing the flood level of the home you're buying- an official measure of how high floodwaters could rise. You can find this information at FEMA's online flood maps.
Your next steps in protecting your home from flooding should include these 6 measures:
- Safeguard in-home electrical and climate systems. Raise switches, sockets, circuit breakers and wiring at least a foot above the expected flood level in your area. Modify your furnace, water heater, and any other anchored indoor equipment.
- Anchor and raise outdoor equipment. Fuel tanks, air-conditioning units and generators should be anchored above your flood level. Unanchored fuel tanks can break free, and severed supply lines will contaminate surrounding ground.
- Modify water valves. A flooded sewer system can cause sewage to back up in your home. Install an interior or exterior backflow valve.
- Determine how water flows around your house. The grading or slope of the house, the angle of the ground, can direct water to or away from your house. This is easy to determine by watching how water flows or accumulates during an average rainstorm.
- Opt for a major retrofit. If your home floods frequently and moving isn't an option, you may need to take drastic and costly measures. Either raise your home on piers or columns so the lowest floor is above flood level, wet-proof your home by installing foundation vents that would allow water to flow through the building instead of rising inside, or do some dry-proofing by applying coatings and other sealing materials to your walls to keep our floods.
- Take last-minute measures as waters rise. Clear gutters, drains and downspouts. Move furniture, rugs, electronics and other belongings to upper floors. Shut off electricity at the breaker panel. Elevate major appliances onto concrete blocks if they're in harm's way.
If you have any flood damage in your home or building, call SERVPRO of Canton today at our 24/7 Emergency Service Line - (330) 977-4483 or at our Online Help Line.
5 Levels of Mold Remediation
Molds destroy the material they feed on, including walls, carpets, insulation and ceilings. Unless dealt with and removed, it will continue to grow.
When dealing with mold contamination in your home it can be difficult to decide when a mold remediator is needed or what you can take care of yourself.
In the following 5 levels, you will have a guideline to go by when removing mold from your home:
- Level I (10 square feet or less)
Mostly found on ceilings or baseboards. Level I mold contamination may be cleaned without hiring a mold remediator, but there are several important safety precautions that you need to know:
Level II (10-30 square feet)
- Do not attempt cleaning mold if you suffer from asthma, allergies, or immune disorders
- Wear gloves, eye protection, and an N95 disposable respirator
- Vacate from your work area any infants less than 12 months old, individuals recovering from recent surgery, anyone with a suppressed immune system, or people with chronic lung diseases such as asthma, sever allergies, emphysema, etc.
- Contaminated materials that cannot be cleaned should be removed from your home in a sealed plastic bag to prevent an infestation in another part of your home
- Clean your work area when you’re done with a damp cloth or mop
- Make sure all areas are left dry and visibly free of mold contamination
About the size of one wall panel. To clean, the same precautions used in Level I should be taken.Level III (30-100 square feet)
The size of patches of mold on several wall panels. To clean, the same precautions used in Level I and II should be taken, as well as:
Level IV (greater than 100 square feet)
- Seal ventilation ducts/grills in the work area and areas directly adjacent with plastic sheeting
- Vacate everyone from your work area until work is completed.
An infestation depending on how much greater than 100 square feet may require the assistance of a mold remediator. If not, the same requirements should be followed as were needed in levels I, II, and III along with the following:
Level V (Air Conditioners and HVAC Systems)
- Every worker must be trained in the handling of hazardous materials and equipped with full face respirators with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) cartridges, with disposable protective clothing covering both head and shoes.
- Make sure workers completely isolate their work area from the rest of your home with sheeting sealed with duct tape, including ventilation ducts/grills, fixtures, and any other openings.
- Air monitoring should be conducted prior to moving back into your home to determine if it is fit to reoccupy.
All remediation procedures for air conditioning units and HVAC systems should be left to professionals. Procedures for level V remediation for areas larger than 10 square feet are the same for all previous levels with the following precautionary measures added:
- Shut down the HVAC system prior to remediation
- Growth-supporting materials that are contaminated, such as the paper on the insulation of interior lined ducts and filters, should be removed and sealed in plastic bags
- A variety of biocides – broad spectrum antimicrobial agents designed to prevent the growth of microorganisms – are recommended by HVAC manufacturers for use with HVAC components, such as cooling coils and condensation pans. HVAC manufacturers should be consulted for the products they recommend for use in their systems.
Do you have mold in your home or business? With questions or if you need a mold remediator, call our 24/7 Emergency Service line at (330) 966-2377. Request help online by clicking here.
Fire Damage Cleanup
We have the knowledge and the specialized equipment to get your property back to pre-fire condition.
Fire damage clean up is an arduous process that often requires the proper industrial equipment and time. A standard vacuum cleaner is rarely enough. In addition, time is of the essence. In the wake of a fire, when victims are faced with insurance matters, arrangements for interim housing, and possible health concerns, homeowners are unlikely to make salvage efforts the top priority. Sadly, this could present a costly dilemma. In these cases, the services of a certified fire restoration company are invaluable.
The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) states that delays in fire damage clean up can have serious consequences. In addition to the obvious devastation created by heat, flames, and soot, water and smoke are powerful contaminators and destructors in their own right. Immediate intervention is critical to minimize exposure to these damaging agents in hopes of limiting restoration costs.
In addition to the structural destruction caused by the flames, acidic soot alone can cause irreparable harm to a home’s interior and belongings. But the problems don’t end there. Odor removal can present another challenge, and ceiling or box fans alone are not always powerful enough to disperse the smell of smoke. Water damage caused by first responders in an effort to extinguish the inferno further complicates matters.
For more information on fire cleanup and how to choose a restoration firm to do the damage cleanup, visit the IICRC website.
Do you need fire damage cleanup? Call our 24/7 Emergency Service line at (330) 966-2377, or request online help.
Do You Need a Mold Remediator?
Mold spores thrive on moisture. They can quickly grow into colonies when exposed to water, producing allergens and irritants.
If you suspect mold in your home or business, you're probably anxious to get the problem taken care of as soon as possible. If you have small children, older adults or animals, it is even more important to effectively rid your home of mold so it doesn't affect their health.
When choosing a reliable mold remediator, it is important to consider the following tips:
- Only choose mold remediators that are certified. To ensure the highest quality of service, go with mold remediators that perform all of their own inspections and remediations. Generally, those who have been in business for a while and who have worked in a variety of settings including commercial and residential areas will be able to perform the most reliable services.
- Find a mold remediator that will inspect your home before they begin work. Later, the mold remediators should perform both an air-quality check and a swab check to test for mold. SERVPRO, among other mold remediation companies, will test for asbestos and lead as well as different types of mold. Make sure that contact information is included in the proposal so you’ll know who to get in touch with in case of problems.
- Check for a warranty. Check that the mold remediator also offers to come back and redo any area that shows signs of mold within six months to a year.
It is important to take some extra time to choose the best mold remediator to avoid further serious problems in your home or business.
If you are experiencing troubles with mold, call us at our 24/7 Emergency Service number, 800-648-1212 or request help online.
Water Back-Up, Overflow or Discharge? Homeowners' Claims
Last month we talked about how to protect your home from flood damage. Hopefully the tips served you well, but here are some tips on what causes a water back-up or overflow and whether or not there is coverage for such a loss.
Is it a water back-up, an overflow or discharge?
A back-up is a build-up caused by a stoppage in the flow. Something prevents the water from continuing down its path, so it is forced to reverse direction and go back the other way.
- Causes: A collapsed drain pipe can cause a back-up because water can no longer proceed down its normal course. A blockage can also cause a back-up. The blockage prevents the water from going forward. Both of these factors force the water to reverse direction.
An overflow is when excess or surplus is not able to be accommodated by an available space.
- Causes: The space is filled to capacity and water then spreads beyond its limits. A bath tub left running creates an overflow, as well.
Discharge is what happens when water is released from plumbing or appliances and then floods your home.
- A leaking pipe discharges water from the hole in the pipe.
The ISO HO 00 03 provides coverage for water damage that is the result of a discharge or overflow of a plumbing, heating, air conditioning, or household appliance if it is on the resident’s premises. This covers:
- Pipes that leak behind walls
- Floors, or ceilings
- Washing machines and dishwashers that overflow
- Toilets that overflow
- Storm drains off premises that overflow due to high rains or floods
It is important to note that a sump, sump pump or related equipment, or a roof drain, gutter or downspout or similar equipment is not considered a plumbing system or household appliance.
A discharge or overflow caused by a storm drain, water, steam, or sewer pipe is covered as well if it is off the premises.
How to Keep Safe During a House Fire
In less than 30 seconds a small flame can turn into a major fire. It takes minutes for smoke to fill a house or for it to be engulfed in flames.
You may not think you'll ever fall victim to a house fire, but it's better to be prepared and know what to do to avoid panicking if it happens to you. To increase your chances of survival, follow these steps:
Keeping safe in your house during a fire:
- React as soon as you hear your smoke alarm go off. If you hear your smoke detector or see fire, exit your home as safely as possible. Do not stop to grab your belongings. Your only concern should be to get out as quickly as possible.
- Safely exit through doors. If you see smoke under the door, do not open the door to escape. If you do not see smoke, put the back of your hand to the door to feel for heat. If it is cool, open slowly and pass through. If you see fire, close the door to protect yourself from the fire and search for another exit.
- Prevent yourself from smoke inhalation. Get low to the floor and crouch or crawl on your hands and knees to evade the toxic smoke, avoiding disorientation and unconsciousness. If you must walk through the smoke, cover your nose and mouth with a shirt or towel.
- Stop drop and roll if your clothes catch fire. Immediately stop what you're doing, drop flat on to the ground and roll around until you smother the fire. Cover your face with your hands as you're rolling to protect yourself.
- Ward off the smoke if you can't get out. If you cannot escape, you can always reclaim some measure of control and stay safe, even if you feel trapped. Close the door and cover all vents and cracks with a cloth or tape to keep the smoke out.
- Call for help from a second story window. If you are trapped in a second story room, do what you can to get yourself to an area where people will be able to hear or see you. Take a sheet- preferably white- and hang it out the window to signify you need help. Be sure to close the window to the fresh oxygen doesn't draw the fire towards you. Put a blanket or towel at the base of the door to prevent the smoke from coming underneath.
- Escape from a second story window if you can. If you have an escape ladder, toss it down the side of the house. If you must go out the window, look for a ledge you can get yourself onto and hang down from your hands, facing the side of the building. Let yourself fall to safety.
What to do once you exit your home:
- Do a head count. Make sure everyone is accounted for. If anybody is missing, only re-enter the building if it is safe to do so. Tell the first responders immediately on their arrival if you are afraid someone is missing.
- Call 911. Use your cellphone or call from a neighbor's house.
- Do an injury assessment. After making the call and the resources are coming, check yourself and your family for any injuries. If there are, do what you can to address them until the fire department arrives.
- Get away from the structure. Keep a safe distance between you and the fire.
Preventing future house fires:
- Form and practice your family's escape plan. Have a plan of escape in the event of a fire. Practice at least twice a year to get comfortable with the routine. Plan to find two ways to escape from each room. Practice escaping by crawling, being in the dark and having your eyes closed.
- Make sure your home is prepared. Check your smoke detectors are working and always have fresh batteries. Make sure your windows can easily be opened and that screens can be quickly removed. Everyone in your family should be able to open and close all windows. Buy reliable collapsible ladders in case of higher level escapes.
- Practice safe behaviors. Teach your children that fire is a tool, not a toy. Always be in the kitchen when you're cooking. SO not smoke in the house and make sure you put out your cigarettes entirely. DIspose of any electronics with frayed wires. Avoid lighting candles unless they're directly in your line of vision. Always check that the gas is turned off as well as any other wired electronics. Finally, try to use a lighter instead of matchsticks.
For more information as well as a community Q&A, click here for the source of the above information.
HVAC Compressor Damage: Lightning or Wear & Tear?
In the summer months, when severe weather is most prevalent, property carriers see an increase in claims for lightning damage to HVAC equipment, and most often to the compressor.
HVAC compressor damage due to lightning is commonly misdiagnosed. More often than not, an HVAC claim that is originally reported as damaged by lightning is ultimately found to have suffered damage due to some other cause of loss.
No matter the time of year, one of the most common culprits of compressor failure is mechanical damage due to age-related wear and tear. Nearly 43% of all compressors (regardless of how the damage is initially reported) fail due to this cause of loss.
Considered the “heart” of the HVAC system, the compressor is not only critical to proper system function, but can often be impossible to repair and expensive to replace. Moreover, without understanding the root cause of compressor failure, the simple act of replacing this component may not ultimately resolve the overarching issue. When handling HVAC claims, it is critical to understand what caused the compressor to fail before agreeing on a scope of repair for settlement.
For additional information on mechanical damages versus electrical damages, click here to the source of this information.
Vehicles After Flooding: Filing a Claim
No region is safe from flooding. All 50 states are subject to flash floods.
In the aftermath of a natural disaster, it is important for consumers to be aware of the warning signs of a flood damaged vehicle. If you are in the market to buy a used vehicle, be sure to inspect it carefully.
The following tips on filing a claim will help those with flooded vehicles after a storm:
- Contact your insurance agent as soon as possible. Have your policy readily available and find out whether the damage is covered under the terms of your policy and how long you have to file a claim.
- Your automobile insurance policies cover flooding if you have purchased comprehensive coverage. If you only have liability coverage, your vehicle is not covered for flooding.
- Minimize your losses and document the damage. Take photos of any damage and then make whatever reasonable temporary repairs that are needed.
- Remember that flooding is generally not covered under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. Flood insurance is a separate policy through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program and some private insurers.
- Ask for identification from any agents, adjusters or contractors. Do not sign any contracts for repairs until you have been instructed to do so by your adjuster and you have called the Better Business Bureau in your area.
- Don’t be afraid to file a claim. Storms are considered “Acts of Nature” and an insurance company cannot cancel, refuse to renew or increase the amount of a premium on a homeowners policy based solely on this type of incident.
Do you have storm damage? Contact our SERVPRO franchise at (330) 966-2377 or request help online.
Is Hazard Insurance the Same as Homeowners?
For maximum protection against the unexpected, a reliable homeowners insurance policy is the way to go.
As a home owner, you will likely have a need for this insurance at some point in your lifetime. Lending companies tend to use the terms "hazard insurance" and "homeowner's insurance" interchangeably, but there is a definable difference between the two.
Hazard insurance, which protects you financially from the effects of damage to the structure of your home from hazards such as natural events, vandalism, and fire, is usually bought PART OF your homeowner's insurance policy. Generally hazard coverage is not sold separately but is combined with liability and contents coverage as a package.
There are certain hazards that are not covered by homeowner’s insurance and they are listed as exemptions in the policy. Examples include damage caused directly by pollution, floods, and earth movement. Open perils policies provide insurance coverage for any reason not specifically excluded in the policy. A named perils policy, on the other hand, provides coverage only for the perils listed. A homeowners named perils policy typically covers 16 named perils including fire, theft, windstorms and vandalism.
A standard homeowners HO3 policy covers the structure of your home under open perils and contents such as clothes, furniture, appliances and books under named perils. A standard homeowners HO5 policy covers the structure and contents under open perils. Many insurance companies have modified versions of the HO3 and HO5 policies so if you have questions about your homeowners policy coverage, be sure to speak with your insurance agent.
For additional information from a related article, click here.
Determining Death Coverage: Are Bodily Fluids Considered a Pollutant?
Are bodily fluids considered a pollutant?
It has been held that living, organic irritants or contaminants do not constitute pollutants under the policy definition because the irritants specifically identified in the definition, namely, "smoke, vapor, soot, fumes, acids, alkalis, chemicals and waste," are primarily inorganic in nature.
The current trend is to view pollutants and the pollution exclusion in connection with environmental issues. Therefore, bodily fluids are not a pollutant, meaning there is coverage in many instances.
For further details from a related article, click here.
Refer back to our blog for our next post, "Is Hazard Insurance the Same as Homeowner's Insurance?"
Windstorm Damage: Whose Insurance Covers the Loss?
Straight-line winds are common with the gust front of a thunderstorm or originate with a down-burst from a thunderstorm.
Yes, windstorm damage is covered on a standard homeowner's insurance policy. But whose homeowner's insurance policy covers the loss?
First, it is important to understand what windstorm insurance policies cover. Windstorm insurance is a special type of property and casualty insurance designed to cover damages caused by high winds. Windstorm insurance may cover damages from hurricane-force winds, tornadoes, hail and other weather events that are accompanied by wind gusts that exceed 35 miles per hour.
A hypothetical tree falls on your house.
- Scenario 1: your tree falls on your house. Your homeowner's policy will provide coverage up to your policy limits, after you pay the deductible. The coverage extends to cover damage to your main home, garage, shed or other additional buildings and structures such as a fence. If there is damage to the structure of the house, debris removal is also covered, up to policy limits.
- Scenario 2: your tree falls on your neighbor's house. The basic rule is that the insurance policy of the property that was damaged pays for the loss.
- Scenario 3: your neighbor's tree fell on your house. Your homeowner's insurance policy should pay for any damage per the property claim.
Please note that homeowners insurance usually won't cover a loss caused by negligence or a maintenance-related issue. So if the tree was rotting and ready to fall down before the storm, homeowners insurance likely would not cover the damage the tree caused to your home.
Canton, Ohio Smoke and Soot Cleanup
Smoke and Soot Damage Can Cause a Pervasive Odor in Your Canton, Ohio Home.
Smoke and soot is very invasive and can penetrate various cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. Our smoke damage expertise and experience allows us to inspect and accurately assess the extent of the damage to develop a comprehensive plan of action.
Smoke and soot facts:
- Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.
- Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor.
- The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process.
Different Types of Smoke
There are two different types of smoke–wet and dry. As a result, there are different types of soot residue after a fire. Before restoration begins, SERVPRO of Canton, Ohio will test the soot to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. The cleaning procedures will then be based on the information identified during pretesting. Here is some additional information:
Wet Smoke – Plastic and Rubber
- Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.
Dry Smoke – Paper and Wood
- Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises therefore smoke rises.
Protein Fire Residue – Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire
- Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor.
Our Fire Damage Restoration Services
Since each smoke and fire damage situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored for the specific conditions. We have the equipment, expertise, and experience to restore your fire and smoke damage. We will also treat your family with empathy and respect and your property with care.
Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
Call Us Today – 330-966-2377
IICRC Certified Firm
We are an IICRC Certified Firm
SERVPRO of Canton, Ohio is an IICRC firm. The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) creates the standards for the restoration industry and provides training and certification to restoration companies. IICRC Certified Firms have the right to display the IICRC Certified Logo.
IICRC Certified Firms must
- Present accurate information to consumers and conduct business with honesty and integrity.
- Require a technician on all jobs who has been formally trained and passed all required tests.
- Require a continuing education program to keep technicians up-to-date on the latest changes in the industry.
- Maintain liability insurance to protect all parties in the event of an accident.
- Maintain a written complaint policy and agree to Better Business Bureau or similar arbitration to resolve disputes, and accept the conclusions and recommendations of arbitration.
The IICRC Develops The Standards For The Restoration Industry
The IICRC has been the driving force in establishing the main industry standards and reference guides for professional carpet cleaning, water damage restoration and mold remediation. These IICRC standards take years to develop and require the coordination of experts in the field: manufacturers, industry organizations, insurance professionals, training schools, contractors, and public health professionals.
Every five years, the standards are reviewed and updated. The water damage restoration field changes rapidly with advancements in technology and science, and therefore the standards must evolve to keep pace.
Restoring Your Canton, Ohio Commercial Property After A Water Damage Event
Commercial Water Damage Events Present Unique Challenges
Flooding and water damage events at Canton, Ohio commercial properties are often complex with numerous issues that require a knowledgeable and flexible response. Whether we’re dealing with a relatively small water cleanup scenario or a large scale event, we work quickly to assess each unique situation and isolate the damaged area. In many instances, normal operations can continue in a temporary space while we restore your facility.
Restoring Commercial Properties Presents Unique Challenges
Our professionals are trained to be mindful of legal and environmental concerns and strive to fully restore the damaged area while working within your budgetary constraints. We understand that every hour spent cleaning up is an hour of lost revenue and productivity. So when an emergency situation arises in your business, give us a call and we’ll be there fast with the help you need.
Faster to your Canton, Ohio Water Damage Event
SERVPRO of Canton, Ohio provides 24 hour fire and water damage restoration service in the Canton area.
Flooding and water emergencies don’t wait for regular business hours and neither do we. SERVPRO of Canton, Ohio provides emergency cleaning and restoration services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week—including all holidays.
Faster To Any Size Disaster
Flooding and water damage is very invasive. Water quickly spreads throughout your home and gets absorbed into floors, walls, furniture, and more. SERVPRO of Canton, Ohio arrives quickly and starts the water extraction process almost immediately. This immediate response helps to minimize the damage and the cleaning and restoration costs.
Need Emergency Service? Call Us 24/7 – 330-966-2377
Water Damage Timeline
- 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.
About SERVPRO of Northern Summit County
SERVPRO of Canton, Ohio specializes in the cleanup and restoration of residential and commercial property after a fire, smoke or water damage event. Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration. From initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO’s corporate training facility to regular IICRC-industry certification, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property.
September is National Preparedness Month
Consider ways that you can prepare for potential emergencies during National Preparedness Month
Did you know that September is National Preparedness Month? National Preparedness month encourages individuals be prepared for potential emergency situations. The more that you are prepared for the unexpected, the more equipped you will be to deal with situations quickly and effectively and to limit the damage. AT SERVPRO we understand the challenges and stresses of unexpected disaster. National Preparedness Month is a great time to put together readiness plans for potential emergency situations that could affect your home or business. It is a time to consider how your family could stay in touch if separated when an emergency occurs, how you can work together with your neighbors and community in a disaster situation, and how you can assist those who are particularly vulnerable during an emergency, such as children and older adults. The best way to mitigate a disaster is to be prepared! You can find lots of great resources at https://www.ready.gov/september.
Follow us on social media
Follow us on social media!
SERVPRO of Canton, Ohio is active on social media, and we would love for you to follow us! On our social media pages, you can find relevant safety, cleaning, and remodeling tips, local and industry news, event information, before and after pictures of completed jobs, pictures of our crew, volunteer and fundraising campaigns, and more! We are currently on Facebook and LinkedIn, with more platforms to come. Social media allows us to interact with our customers, local businesses, and industry partners in new and exciting ways. We love to hear your thoughts and feedback through social media, and we welcome comments on industry topics and content you would like to hear more about. Please click the links below and follow our pages to receive the latest updates from us!
Factors to consider when faced with a biohazard cleanup
If you are faced with a biohazard cleanup, our professional, compassionate staff can guide you through the process.
If you are faced with a biohazard cleanup, such as a trauma scene, sewage backup, or hoarding situation, here are some key factors to consider:
- Avoid exposure to any contaminants present. There are serious health risks associated with exposure to blood, bodily fluids, animal waste, sewage, and other biohazardous materials. Treat all potentially hazardous materials as if they are contaminated.
- Assess ways to secure your personal safety and contain the situation, such as turning off the HVAC system and avoiding standing water or sagging ceilings.
- Before attempting to clean up a trauma scene yourself, particularly when it involves a loved one, consider the long-term mental and emotional consequences of doing so. The cleanup process can be emotional and traumatic in itself. Biohazard cleanup professionals are trained to deal with trauma situations with compassion and discretion.
- If you would like assistance with a biohazard cleanup, our trained professionals can assess the situation, provide a no-cost estimate, and clean the affected areas and dispose of the waste in accordance with federal and state regulations.
Flood Safety Awareness Week is March 13-19
Floods can be unpredictable and cause a lot of damage. Stay informed and prepared as flood season approaches!
March 13-19 is Flood Safety Awareness Week. According to the National Weather Service, "Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other severe weather related hazard. The main reason is people underestimate the force and power of water. More than half of all flood related deaths result from vehicles being swept downstream. Of these, many are preventable." As flood season approaches, now is a great time to review such topics as the dangers of flooding, driving through water, and flood insurance. Additional resources are available at http://www.weather.gov/okx/FloodAwarenessWeek2016.
SERVPRO's Reconstruction and Remodeling Services
A finished kitchen remodel that was done by our reconstruction team!
Did you know that in addition to water mitigation, fire cleanup, and mold remediation, SERVPRO also offers reconstruction services? After our pros are done with drying out a home or removing smoke-damaged materials, we can put homes back together just like they were before the damage occurred. The convenience and savings of working with one company to assist with mitigation and repairs can be significant. In addition to reconstruction after damage, we also do general home remodeling. Have you been considering remodeling your kitchen? We can help. Does your bathroom need an update? We do that too. From drywall to painting to framing and much more, we can assist with your reconstruction project!
Here are just some of the reconstruction services SERVPRO offers:
- Drywall repair and installation
- Floor repair and replacement
- Kitchen and bath installation and remodeling
- Cabinet and trim replacement
- Insulation installation
- Ceiling repair
- Fixture replacement
Frozen Pipe Bursts Part 3: What to do if a Frozen Pipe Bursts
Damage resulting from a pipe burst due to a frozen pipe
Taking preventative measures and noticing frozen pipes in time to thaw blockages are key to avoiding pipe bursts. Unfortunately, sometimes disasters occur despite our best efforts at prevention. In the unfortunate event that a frozen pipe does burst, you can mitigate the damage by following these important tips:
- Turn off the main water supply immediately.
- If the water is flowing near any electrical outlets or conductors of electricity, you should also shut off the electricity.
- Contact a plumber to repair the burst pipe.
- Remove the water. Use buckets, towels, and a wet/dry vacuum to remove water from the affected area.
- Act quickly! The longer there are wet materials in your home, the greater chance there is for mold, warping, and more serious damage.
- If you feel that the water damage is too much for you to handle on your own or you would like assistance in the cleanup, contact the qualified water mitigation specialists at SERVPRO to assist you.
If you or someone you know is faced with a pipe burst, the experts at SERVPRO can help to mitigate the damage and restore your home!
Frozen Pipe Bursts Part 2: Thawing Frozen Pipes
Act quickly if you discover frozen pipes in your home to avoid pipe bursts.
Frozen Pipe Bursts Part 2: Thawing Frozen Pipes
In the previous blog post, we discussed how to prevent frozen pipes in order to avoid a pipe burst. If a frozen pipe occurs despite your best efforts at prevention, there are still steps that you can take to thaw the affected pipe before a burst occurs and the situation becomes a much bigger issue. You will notice a pipe may have frozen when after turning on a tap no water or a very small trickle comes out.
- The first thing you should do is turn off the main water supply. If you don’t already know where your main water supply is, locate it now in order to be able to act quickly if you ever find yourself in a situation where your pipes have frozen.
- Locate the frozen pipe by turning on taps one at a time to see if water flows out. If water flows in all areas of the house except for one, trace the line from the blocked faucet to areas that may be more exposed to cold. If water does not flow out of any of the taps, the frozen pipe may be located near the water meter.
- Once you have located the affected area, use a blow dryer, heat lamp, or other heat source to apply heat to the affected area. Do NOT use a blowtorch or any other device with an open flame.
- Keep the faucet open and apply heat from the open tap toward the blockage. Continue to apply heat until the water flows from the faucet at normal pressure.
- If you are struggling to find the blockage or are unsure if the pipe is clearing properly, contact a plumber.
Even during a close call with a frozen pipe, if you follow these steps and put the preventative tips from the previous blog post into action, you can boost your chances of avoiding water damage to your home due to a pipe burst.
Frozen Pipe Bursts Part 1: Preventing Frozen Pipes during Winter Months
Damage that occurred as a result of a pipe burst due to a frozen pipe.
Frozen pipes can mean big problems for your home. As water freezes, it expands and can exert up to 2,000 pounds of pressure per square inch! That pressure can cause pipes to burst and water to flow into your home, potentially causing extensive damage.
Taking preventative measures during the cold winter months is the best course of action to avoid frozen pipe bursts. The pipes that are most susceptible to freezing are those that are outdoors, are exposed to exterior walls, or are in unheated areas like under cabinets or in attics or crawl spaces. In order to prevent frozen pipes in those areas, follow these tips:
- Drain water from hoses, water sprinklers, and other outdoor lines when the weather starts to cool down and they will no longer be in use.
- On particularly cold days, open cabinet doors to allow warm air to flow around pipes and turn on the taps slightly to allow a slow drip to run through the faucets.
- Make sure that there is insulation present in areas around pipes that are more susceptible to cold weather.
- Consider installing heating cable, heating tape, newspaper, or another form of insulation around exposed pipes.
- If you are leaving for vacation, don’t set the temperature any lower than 55°F.
Putting these tips into practice will significantly reduce your chances of having a pipe freeze in your home, and thereby, avoid the larger and much more costly and inconvenient problem of a pipe burst.
Holiday Fire Safety Tips
Stay safe this holiday!
As the holiday season approaches, so does the peak time of year for cooking and candle fires. Cooking equipment is the number one cause of home and workplace fires. Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and Christmas Eve are the three peak days for cooking fires. Candle fires peak on Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve. SERVPRO reminds you and your family to stay safe this holiday season by following these fire safety tips:
Cooking Safety Tips
· Be especially careful when frying food. Frying is the greatest fire risk.
· Be aware that electric ranges cause more fires than gas ranges.
· Never leave cooking unattended. Unattended cooking causes 90% of kitchen fires.
· Clean thoroughly to prevent grease buildup.
Candle Safety Tips
· Please candles a safe distance from flammable objects. The leading cause of candle fires is placing candles too close to something that can burn, such as curtains or furniture.
· Do not leave candles unattended.
Smoke Detector Safety Tips
· Test smoke detectors once per month. Having working smoke alarms reduces one's chance of dying by fire by about half.
· Change batteries twice per year.
· Replace smoke detectors every 10 years.
· Be sure you have smoke detectors on each level of the home and placed near or inside each bedroom at a high point in the room.
Fire Extinguisher Safety Tips
· Follow the acronym P.A.S.S. – Pull the pin, Aim at the base, Squeeze the lever, & Sweep from side to side
· The best type of fire extinguisher for home use is a multipurpose "ABC" extinguisher, which uses a dry powder that is able to put out most types of fires.
· Fire extinguishers should be placed in plain sight close to ground level in areas of the home that are more prone to fires, such as the kitchen and garage.
· Keep a fire extinguisher in each occupied bedroom to help you and your family escape if a fire occurs during the night.
· Although fire extinguishers should last for 5-15 years, check the gauge regularly to make sure the needle is in the green area and inspect the pin, hose, and handle periodically.
Akron Fire Department General Fire Safety presentation materials
SERVPRO Offers GREEN CLEANING
Did you know SERVPRO® offers “GREEN” alternatives for some of our products? SERVPRO® is a proud member of the EPA’s Design for Environment initiative (EPA/DFE). The EPA/DFE has established set criteria for formulating environmentally friendly cleaning products. The initiative is designed to allow chemical formulators (such as our very own in-house chemists) a resource to formulate environmentally friendly cleaning products using environmentally friendly raw materials.
Some of the "Green" products SERVPRO® offers are:
Benefect® Botanical Disinfectant
SERVPRO® All Surface Green Clean
SERVPRO® Carpet & Upholstery Green Clean
SERVPRO® Window Green Clean
Contact us for more product information!
Prevent Christmas Tree Fires This Holiday Season!
Christmas tree safety tipsFrom the National Fire Protection Association: http://www.nfpa.org/
Each year, fire departments respond to an average of 210 structure fires caused by Christmas trees. Carefully decorating Christmas trees can help make your holidays safer.
Picking the tree
- If you have an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled, certified, or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant.
- Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
Placing the tree
- Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 1" - 2" from the base of the trunk.
- Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
- Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
- Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.
Lighting the tree
- Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
- Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of LED strands to connect.
- Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
- Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
- Get rid of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home. Check with your local community to find a recycling program. Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.
Tips for Winterizing Your Home!
Winterize Now to Avoid Frozen Pipes!
Cold Weather can have a huge impact on businesses and homes that aren’t protected. Heavy precipitation, freezing temperatures and damaging winds can all have a negative impact on your property. To help avoid costly and time-consuming damages due to the weather, consider the following tips while winterizing this year:Keep cabinet doors open during cold spells. This allows warm air to circulate around pipes.Keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets, especially if the pipes for faucets run through unheated or un-insulated areas of your home and/or business.Consider shutting off outdoor faucets. Find the shut off valve in the basement
or crawl space and turn it to “off”.If you follow the previous step, then open the outdoor faucet to help ensure it drains completely and the inner valve is shut off.
Do's and Don'ts to follow after a Flood or other Water Loss
By following these steps before water mitigation begins, you can take great steps to avoid further property damage in your wet basement or other area
The period after a large storm or flood is often a hectic and confusing time. While waiting for SERVPRO to arrive to perform water damage or flood cleanup, here are some simple do’s and don’ts to follow until help arrives. By following these steps before water mitigation begins, you can take great steps to avoid further property damage in your wet basement or other areas of your home:
For CLEAN Water Losses
- Shut off the source of water if possible or contact a qualified party to stop the water source.
- Turn off circuit breakers for wet areas of the building when access to the power distribution panel is safe from electrical shock.
- Remove as much excess water as possible by mopping and blotting.
- ipe excess water from wood furniture after removing lamps and tabletop items.
- Remove ad prop up wet upholstery cushions for even drying.
- Place aluminum foil or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpeting.
- Remove to a safe, dry place any paintings, art objects, computers, documents and other materials that are valuable or sensitive to moisture.
- Use wooden clothespins to keep furniture skirting off damp floors.
- Hang draperies with coated hangers to avoid contact with wet carpeting or floors.
- Hang furs and leather goods to dry separately at room temperature.
- Enter rooms with standing water where electrical hazards may exist.
- Enter affected areas if electrical outlets, switches, circuit breakers or electrical equipment are exposed to water. Always avoid electrical shock hazards.
- Leave books, newspapers, magazines or other colored items on wet carpets or floors to cause staining.
- Leave Oriental rugs or other colored rugs on wet wall-to-wall carpets to cause staining.
- Use your household vacuum cleaner to remove water, possibly causing electrical shock or damage to the vacuum cleaner.
- Use TV’s or other appliances while standing on wet carpets or floors, especially not on wet concrete floors.
- Turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet or enter rooms where ceilings are sagging from retained water.
Additional Information for CONTAMINATED Water Losses
- Avoid all contact with sewage and items contaminated by sewage.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after contact with contaminated items.
- Spread contaminated water by walking unnecessarily on damaged or wet areas.
- Turn on the HVAC system is there is a possibility of spreading contaminated air.
- Use household fans to dry the structure and spread contaminants.
- Use products for personal hygiene and cleanliness if exposed to the contaminated area.
September 1 starts National Preparedness Month
Today is the first day of National Preparedness Month! This week will focus on How To reconnect with your family after a disaster? Make sure your family has a family emergency communication plan. How will you reconnect with each other? Where will you meet? What if your neighborhood is being evacuated? Communicating with your friends and family when a disaster occurs is important to make sure everyone is safe. This is why having both an evacuation and communication plan is important. Have peace of mind when a disaster strikes and create your evacuation and emergency communication plans. Ready to make a plan? Start today by visiting http://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan