Recent Water Damage Posts

The Science of Water Damage Drying

2/27/2019 (Permalink)

DID YOU KNOW there is actually a science behind the process of drying? Having the knowledge of psychrometrics is essential to restoring a water damaged structure to its preloss condition. While your initial reaction may be to grab a few towels to mop up the mess and place a fan or two around the damaged area, SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County professionals are trained in the science of drying and follow strict industry approved standards to help lower the chances of any secondary damages. If your home or business suffers a water damage, SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals will:

Inspect the building to detect every component that is wet, to help prevent secondary damage from happening.
Measure how much moisture is in wet materials and monitor whether the materials are drying properly.
Speed up Mother Nature by using professional drying equipment.
What exactly does it mean to help “speed up Mother Nature”? A wet building can often dry naturally because the environment always seeks equilibrium. When materials are wet, moisture will naturally move to drier air at the surface of the material–but only if the air is, indeed, drier. Th e only problem is, nature takes too long and secondary damages may occur while the building is drying out.

SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals have the tools and equipment to help Mother Nature along, including equipment to help dryhardwood floors, tough-to-reach spaces inside walls (pictured below), and much more. SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals also use state-of-the-art monitoring equipment, and a proven scientific process to help speed the drying of your home or business.

The bottom line?  SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals have the training and equipment to help make water damage “Like it never even happened.”

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Prevent Damage from Frozen Pipes

12/29/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://disastersafety.org

Frozen pipes are one of the leading sources of property damage when the temperature drops. Don’t let damage from frozen pipes soak your home or business—prepare using the following guidance.

1. Seal Exterior

Seal all cracks, holes, windows, doors, and other openings on exterior walls with caulk or insulation to prevent cold air from penetrating wall cavity.

2. Seal Interior

Insulate and seal attic penetrations such as partition walls, vents, plumbing stacks, and electric and mechanical chases.

3. Relieve Pipe Pressure

Let all faucets drip during extreme cold weather to prevent freezing of the water inside the pipe, and if freezing does occur, to relieve pressure buildup in the pipes between the ice blockage and the faucet.

4. Keep the Building Warm

Install a monitoring system that provides notifications if the building’s temperature dips below a pre-determined number.

5. Insulate Vulnerable Pipes

Insulate pipes most vulnerable to freezing by using pipe insulation.

6. Install Early Detection System

Install an automatic excess flow switch on the main incoming domestic water line to monitor and provide early detection of a broken pipe or valve. Use wireless sensors near water sources.

7. Monitor Fire Protection Sprinkler Systems

Monitor sprinkler systems using a central station to provide early detection of a pipe failure and heat unheated sprinkler control rooms.

8. Install Backup Power

Provide a reliable backup power source to ensure heat to the building.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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How to get federal disaster assistance

10/6/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.bankrate.com

Author: Jay MacDonald

When local and state resources are overwhelmed by a severe disaster, your state’s governor will request that the president issue a Major Disaster Declaration. This is the only declaration that can activate a range of federal assistance programs for individuals and families. Assistance may include temporary housing, low-interest loans and grants, counseling for post-disaster trauma and other services.

FEMA service information to keep handy:

To register for federal disaster assistance:

Online: DisasterAssistance.gov
Phone: (800) 621-3362
Teletypewriter, or TTY: (800) 462-7585
Smartphone: m.fema.gov

To locate a mobile: Disaster Recovery Center

To appeal a FEMA grant denial, write to:

FEMA - Individuals & Households Program
National Processing Service Center
P.O. Box 10055
Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055

Or send fax to: (800) 827-8112
Attention: FEMA -- Individuals & Households Program

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, doesn’t activate all of its assistance programs in every natural disaster. It largely depends on the nature of damages reported by your state.

To qualify for federal disaster assistance, your losses must have occurred in an area covered by a Major Disaster Declaration. If you have online access, you can quickly determine this at FEMA’s Federal Disaster Declarations Web page.

A number of criteria are used in the determination of a major disaster area, including the amount and type of damage, the imminent threats to public health and safety, and level of insurance coverage in place for homeowners and public facilities, according to fema.gov.

Make an insurance claim

After determining whether you are in a major disaster area, you should file an insurance claim with your home and/or auto insurance company for any damages incurred. Failure to file an insurance claim may affect your eligibility for federal assistance, because by law, FEMA cannot provide money for losses that are covered by insurance.

Once you file your claim, FEMA may be able to provide some assistance in the following circumstances.

  • Delayed insurance settlement: If your settlement is delayed longer than 30 days, FEMA may loan you some money. It will expect you to repay the loan when your settlement arrives. How to file: Write FEMA with a full explanation and insurance claim number, the date of the claim and documentation.
  • Your insurance settlement falls short: If the maximum payment from your settlement doesn’t cover your disaster-related needs, FEMA may help make up the difference. How to file: Write FEMA with a full explanation and complete insurance documentation.
  • Additional Living Expenses exhausted: If you’ve exhausted your insurance company’s maximum loss-of-use settlement, FEMA may be able to help with your disaster-related temporary housing needs. Write them with explanation and documentation.

Types of federal disaster assistance: housing and nonhousing

There are two types of direct federal disaster assistance available: housing needs and nonhousing needs:

Housing assistance. This includes temporary housing and money to help repair or replace your primary residence. To qualify for housing needs assistance, you or someone living with you must be a U.S. citizen, noncitizen national or qualified alien; your home must be your permanent residence; and you must have been living in the home when the disaster hit but not currently able to due to damage from the disaster.

Nonhousing needs. These include medical, dental and funeral costs; clothing and household items; tools; home fuel; disaster-related moving and storage; and replacement of a disaster-damaged vehicle. In order to qualify for these, you or someone living with you must be a U.S. citizen, noncitizen national or qualified alien; you must have serious disaster-related needs and expenses; and you must have accepted all assistance for which you are eligible from insurance proceeds and Small Business Administration, or SBA, disaster loans.

The SBA provides federally subsidized disaster loans to repair or replace homes or personal property of qualified homeowners and businesses. SBA loans comprise the lion’s share of federal disaster assistance.

Additional forms of direct federal assistance include crisis counseling; disaster unemployment assistance; legal services, including assistance with insurance claims; and special tax consideration that enables you to deduct a casualty loss that exceeds 10 percent of your adjusted gross income on your federal tax return for the current or previous tax year.

What’s next

Once you’ve applied for federal disaster assistance, you can check the status of your application within 24 hours via the same method you applied. FEMA will also mail you a copy of your application along with a detailed guide that walks you through the assistance process.

An inspector working with FEMA will contact you 10 to 14 days after your application to schedule a time to visit your home and inspect the disaster-related damage. There is no charge for this inspection, but you must be present during the inspection and prepared to offer the inspector proof of ownership and occupancy.

  • Proof of ownership includes any of the following: deed, tax records, mortgage payment book or a homeowners insurance policy showing you as the owner. Lacking these, the inspector may be able to obtain proof from a county property tax website.
  • Proof of occupancy includes any of the following: driver’s license with address, a recent utility bill in your name or any first-class government mail sent to you at your address during the past three months.

Do you qualify?

Inspectors submit their report to FEMA but play no role in determining your eligibility for assistance.

It will take FEMA about 10 days to review your inspection. If you qualify for a grant, FEMA will send you a check by mail with a letter explaining how you are to use the money (you’ll receive this via direct deposit if you supplied your bank routing number on your application).

The grant is tax-free and does not require repayment. However, you cannot give it to someone else and you must use it as specified by FEMA. If you don’t, you won’t be granted any additional assistance and you may be asked to pay it back.

If you do not qualify for a grant, you’ll receive a letter explaining why. You have the right to appeal. Appeals must be written and mailed within 60 days of receiving FEMA’s decision.

In a third scenario, FEMA may send you an application to apply for a loan through the Small Business Administration. You must complete and submit the SBA loan application to be considered for a loan as well as certain types of grant assistance. If the SBA then determines that you do not qualify for a loan, it will automatically refer you back to FEMA for grant assistance.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Get disaster relief from the IRS

9/4/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.bankrate.com/finance/money-guides/disaster-relief-from-the-irs-1.aspx

Author: Kay Bell

After people endure a disaster, taxes are probably the last thing on their minds. But tax laws do offer some help for loss victims. And victims of a presidentially declared disaster could use their tax filing to obtain much-needed cash.

Taxpayers who itemize are allowed by the IRS to deduct casualty losses — “the damage, destruction or loss of property from an identifiable event that is sudden, unexpected or unusual.” Usually, this means waiting to claim the loss on your next income tax filing.

However, when a house, car or business is damaged or destroyed by an event deemed a major disaster by the president, the wait for tax refund money attributable to disaster losses is cut dramatically. In these extreme cases, taxpayers can deduct their losses in the tax year before the event happened by filing an amended return.

When the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, announces that the president declares major disasters in certain areas, usually in the wake of a major storm, the way is cleared for special federal help, including tax options.

Major disaster tax options

Disaster-related tax relief generally includes extended filing deadlines and easing of related penalties for individuals and businesses located in the designated disaster areas. The relief also usually applies to those whose tax records are located in the damaged regions — at an accountant’s office, for example — and workers from any location who are there providing help to victims.

In addition, taxpayers in federal disaster areas have the option of choosing which tax year to claim the disaster losses. Depending on when the catastrophe occurred, filers can amend a previous year’s tax return and claim the catastrophic losses they suffered on the old return. In many instances, amended filing will make the individual eligible for an immediate tax refund — money that could be used to live on or begin repairs.

This often is the case for filers who didn’t itemize deductions the previous year; if the total of the casualty losses and any other itemized deductions will amount to more than the standard deduction they originally took, refiling is generally to their advantage.

Even taxpayers who did itemize might find an amended return worthwhile if the disaster damage produces more than originally deducted.

Not the best move for everyone

While the option to time-shift federal disaster casualty losses to the previous year is a great advantage for some, it’s not the best move for all taxpayers.

Some storm victims might find that while their losses are substantial, they aren’t sufficient to meet two tax-law limits on casualty claims. First, you must reduce the amount you can claim by $100. Then, you have to reduce the total of all your casualty losses by 10 percent of your adjusted gross income. You also have to subtract any insurance money you got for the loss.

Tax experts also note that people who had very high taxable income the year in which they could claim the losses and expect very low income the year of the disaster might be able to deduct more of their losses by waiting until they file their return the following year.

 

The deadline for choosing this option usually is the due date of a filer’s current year return.

So evaluate your individual circumstances — tax, damage and financial recovery needs — carefully. And be sure that the calamity is a certified federal disaster to get the immediate relief.

Paperwork you’ll have to file

If you meet the loss limits, the process to claim them is the same regardless of which tax year you choose to file the claim.

The first step is gathering the proper forms. To claim disaster losses, you must file the long Form 1040 individual tax return plus Form 4684 to figure and report your casualty loss and Schedule A to itemize your loss deduction. If you need to file an amended return to claim losses, use Form 1040X instead.

Then determine how the damage has hurt your property’s fair market value. This is a two-part valuation: what your property was worth immediately before the catastrophe and what it’s worth after.

The pre-disaster value is your “adjusted basis.” For homes, this usually is the cost of the property plus certain adjustments such as improvements that add to the structure’s value; for vehicles or other personal property, it may be depreciation that reduces its value. Get an appraisal for the post-disaster value of the property and compare it with your adjusted basis. The difference between the two amounts is your loss from the casualty.

Once the loss is determined, use Form 4684 to figure the deductible amount of your casualty loss. You must reduce the initial loss claim amount by any insurance or other reimbursement you have received. If you have insurance on your property, you must submit a claim to use the damage to it as a casualty loss. In other words, you can’t decide you don’t want to pay the deductible your insurance would require and then use the total, unreimbursed loss amount as your casualty claim. And all insurance payments must be used to repair or replace your property, or any excess not used for these purposes could be a taxable gain to you.

Then this is where the $100 mentioned earlier comes into play. You further reduce your loss by that amount before finally reducing the total yet again by 10 percent of your adjusted gross income to get to your final casualty loss deduction.

Figuring the tax costs of damages

The following work sheet shows the computations that a hypothetical Tom Taxpayer, who suffered through a federally declared flood disaster, had to make. The water substantially damaged Tom’s home, the property inside and his car. Insurance covered only a part of the losses.

Tom’s adjusted gross income is $60,000, and that’s what he uses to figure his casualty deduction. Tom was off work — and without pay — for the week that his employer was closed during a flood in May 2014. Unfortunately, Tom can’t claim the lost income. The IRS provides no deduction for missed wages, even in the event of federal disasters.

Cleanup and repair costs

Tom was able to get such a good tax result from his difficult situation because he kept track of what he spent to clean up and repair his property, the main concerns after a disaster strikes.

Keep in mind, however, that the tax laws won’t allow you to specifically get back that $5,000 you paid to have the carpets cleaned after the flood. There is no place on Form 4684 for you to enter this expense and have it directly count as part of your casualty loss deduction.

But because your flooring was damaged by the floods, you can use what you spent to repair it as a measure of how much your home’s property value was reduced by the storm. This in turn will give you a more accurate assessment of your property’s damage and the tax deduction value of the loss suffered.

In Tom’s case above, the $75,000 post-disaster value of his home takes the floor damage into account. If the carpets didn’t need the professional cleaning, then his home might be worth $80,000. This would mean that the amount he could claim as a casualty loss would be only $22,900, and his tax relief would be less.

The IRS notes that expenses for repairs should take care of the damage only. You can’t have the repair crew improve on the original state of your property.

Record-keeping requirements

And even though the IRS allows disaster victims some tax leeway, the agency still demands that casualty losses, like every deduction, be substantiated and supported.

The IRS does not require you to keep your records in a particular way, only that you keep them in a manner that allows you and the IRS to determine your correct tax. While you don’t have to submit your documentation with your return, you should keep your records handy and be able to show the following if asked.

You should be able to document:

  • The type of casualty and when it occurred.
  • That the loss amount claimed was a direct result of the casualty.
  • That you were the owner of the property or, if you leased it, that you were contractually liable to the owner for the damage.

The simplest way to track loss substantiation is in your checkbook. There you can enter income and loan or insurance reimbursement deposits along with all checks written for expenses accrued in connection with your disaster loss. Be specific: Note amounts, sources of deposits and types of expenses.

Holding on to other documents, such as receipts and sales slips, also can help prove a deduction. Keep your records in an orderly fashion, such as placing documents related to a particular event in a designated envelope, and, where applicable, store them by year and type of income or expense.

And don’t forget your camera. Photographs showing the original condition of the property and ones taken after the disaster struck can be helpful in establishing the condition and value of your property.

Other filing rules

When you do send in your amended return, explain that the refiling was due to casualty losses incurred in a federal disaster and attach Form 4684 to show how you figured your loss. Be sure to specify the date or dates of the disaster and the city, county and state where the damaged or destroyed property was located when the disaster occurred.

And what if you thought you escaped, only to find out that the disaster was just a bit slow in arriving? This might be the case if you live in a federal disaster area and state or local officials decide that your home, even though it suffered only minor damage, must be moved or torn down for public safety reasons, such as ensuing mudslides.

You still can take advantage of the casualty loss deduction as long as the government-ordered demolition or relocation of a home is issued within 120 days after the original federal disaster declaration. It might be government contractors doing the damage this time, but your resulting loss is treated just as if it were damaged in the natural calamity.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Many people don’t think about disaster preparedness. Are you ready for the worst?

8/8/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.bankrate.com/finance/insurance/disaster-preparedness-are-you-ready.aspx

Author: Jay MacDonald

An active Atlantic hurricane season serves as an urgent reminder that every U.S. household needs a home inventory, an emergency preparedness kit and an evacuation plan.

If your family’s disaster planning falls short, you’d better get busy. A calamity won’t wait for you to get ready.

Do you have an emergency kit? Many don’t

According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau American Housing Survey, just 51.5% of U.S. households have prepared an emergency kit. Participation was highest at 70% in hurricane-prone Miami and Tampa, Florida, while Austin, Texas Chicago, Minneapolis and Boston have low rates of kit-equipped homes.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, recommends that households have enough water and nonperishable food to last at least 3 days, plus other supplies, such as first aid and a flashlight with extra batteries. But FEMA’s own surveys indicate that the percentage of Americans with disaster kits has gone down since peaking at 57% in 2009.

In a 2014 FEMA survey, about a quarter of respondents said preparing for emergencies is too expensive, and about a quarter said they didn’t know how to get ready.

Room for improvement in readiness

There’s good news and bad in our current record on emergency preparedness, according to Himanshu Grover, co-director of the Institute for Hazards Mitigation Research and Planning at the University of Washington.

“A 50% average is actually good because if you look at where these people are who are planning, they are usually in areas that are historically already at risk,” he says. “But at the same time, it’s also disturbing because it means that the areas that have not seen disasters but may be at risk are likely to face more losses than we would anticipate.”

While disaster preparedness varies by region, all homeowners should review their insurance coverage annually, says Lynne McChristian, the Florida representative for the Insurance Information Institute trade association.

“Knowing that your home insurance renews every year should serve as a reminder to look at your policy every year,” she advises.

Think flood insurance, special deductibles

While standard home insurance policies provide coverage for hurricanes, wind, theft, fire, lightning and other mayhem, they also typically exclude damage from floods and earthquakes.

McChristian says just because your home mortgage company may not require you to carry flood insurance doesn’t mean you don’t need it.

“That’s the biggest mistake — people don’t get flood insurance unless someone makes them get it,” she says. “What they’re overlooking is that about 20% of all National Flood Insurance Program claims are submitted by homeowners who live in low- to moderate-risk zones. That’s a high percentage.”

Homeowners in 19 states and the District of Columbia also should take an annual glance at their home insurance hurricane deductibles.

After Hurricane Andrew in 1992, home insurers introduced a separate hurricane deductible in order to keep home premiums in check. But unlike the set dollar amount of your home deductible, hurricane deductibles — and similar windstorm deductibles — are based on a portion of your home’s assessed value, usually between 1%-5%.

Take advantage of available resources

McChristian urges restraint when it comes to choosing your hurricane/wind deductible.

“My rule is, never take a deductible that is higher than what you can afford,” she says. “If you do and you get hit by a storm, you may not have that money set aside to repair your home.”

She urges homeowners to download and complete the Insurance Information Institute’s free home inventory app at KnowYourStuff.org.

“It costs you nothing but a little time and helps tremendously after a natural disaster,” she notes.

Unfortunately, all of the emergency checklists and home preparedness videos on the Internet will do little good if homeowners ignore them.

That’s where the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, or FLASH, comes in. Led by president and CEO Leslie Chapman-Henderson, this Tallahassee, Florida-based nonprofit operates as a public awareness firm, of sorts, to make disaster preparedness a normal part of our everyday lives.

Emphasis on resilience

“We are trying to popularize the idea that you can survive, you can afford what’s necessary to survive and you can recover quickly,” she explains. “It’s not luck when you and your home survive; it’s because you did things purposefully ahead of time.”

The FLASH website features videos that break down preparedness projects by time commitment: one hour, one day or one weekend.

It’s all part of the evolution of home preparedness away from the negative, lawyerly sounding “storm mitigation” toward a more upbeat, holistic emphasis on “resilience.”

“The appeal of resilience is, we like the idea of being resourceful and able to overcome and bounce back. Everybody can find something to relate to in it,” says Grover, of the University of Washington. “The resilience of a community will return benefits in terms of sustainability and quality of life beyond just hazard mitigation. It’s not just a set of actions; it’s a forward-looking strategy for life.”

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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What You Need To Know About Flood Insurance

7/21/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.bankrate.com

Author: TERRY SHERIDAN

Flood water can and will find its way into furniture, flooring, walls, lighting, electronics, appliances and irreplaceable keepsakes and photos.

All it takes is just an inch of flood water throughout a 2,000-square-foot home, and you’ll be looking at almost $21,000 in damage, according to the National Flood Insurance Program.

When that destruction is multiplied across an entire community, it’s easy to see why floods are so devastating — and why flood insurance is so important.

Home insurance offers little help

Victims of Superstorm Sandy and other disasters of recent years learned too late that their homeowners or renters insurance policies offered no protection against flooding. That’s the most misunderstood aspect of flood coverage, says Loretta Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute, an industry trade group.

The National Flood Insurance Program, or NFIP, is the primary source of flood insurance for homeowners and renters. The program is administered by FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The insurance is so vital, FEMA notes, because flooding is the most common and costly natural disaster in the U.S.

With flooding, unlike other natural hazards, the very first way to protect yourself is to buy insurance, says Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president and CEO of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, or FLASH.

The insurance is so affordable compared with the cost of flood damage that it makes no sense not to have it, she says.

The big questions

Here are answers to 4 key questions about flood insurance. For specifics about your community and home, talk to the agent who handles your homeowners or renters policy.

1. Is flood insurance required?

Unless you own your home free and clear of loans or live in an apartment or condo on an upstairs floor, expect that you’ll have to buy flood coverage.

Lenders will require it if you live in an area considered at high risk for flooding and your mortgage is federally backed, such as by the Federal Housing Administration, or FHA.

In fact, just expect any lender to want it, says Worters.

FEMA says flooding affects all states, and everyone is at risk because even very small streams and creeks can flood. Your insurance agent and lender will know whether your home is in a high-risk zone.

2. Where do you get it?

FEMA allows private insurers to write and administer policies for the National Flood Insurance Program. Your homeowners or renters insurance agent should be able to write flood coverage for you.

Coverage is available in about 20,000 participating communities. Discounts of up to 45% are available in communities where local officials enforce certain requirements that can reduce flood damage.

If your community doesn’t take part in the national program, you’ll likely be able to get flood insurance from private carriers, says Chris Hackett, senior director of personal lines policy at the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.

3. How does flood insurance work?

  • Time lag: You can’t procrastinate because coverage isn’t effective until 30 days after a flood insurance policy is issued. So don’t wait until the storm warnings are posted.
  • Coverage limits: Flood coverage for your home itself is capped at $250,000, while the contents can be insured only up to $100,000. You may be able to get flood insurance beyond those limits through specialty carriers, says Worters. The building coverage and contents coverage are purchased separately; your lender may require a certain amount of coverage.
  • What you get: The policy pays either the value of your lost property or the cost of replacing it, up to the coverage limit.
  • Deductibles: The higher the deductible, the lower the premium — similar to home and car insurance. You’ll pick different deductibles for contents and building coverage. Your lender may require a certain deductible amount.
  • What’s covered: Flood policies insure against physical damage to your home or belongings directly caused by flooding. Sometimes, that’s not quite as straightforward as it sounds. For example, if a flood causes a sewer backup that causes damage, it would be covered. If something else causes the backup, it’s not covered.
  • What’s never covered: Flood insurance won’t reimburse you for: temporary living expenses while your home is being repaired; lost cash or stock certificates; a ruined car (which is a matter for your car insurance); damage from moisture or mold that you could have prevented; financial loss from business interruption; and anything on your property beyond the walls of your home — such as plants, decks and hot tubs.

4. How much will coverage cost?

Your flood policy premium will be determined by your home’s design, age, location, contents and the amount of coverage you decide to buy.

The average annual flood insurance premium cost about $700 in 2014, according to the most current data on the website of the National Flood Insurance Program.

However, reforms enacted by Congress in recent years allow for annual premium increases of up to 18%, to help pull the program out of a deep debt caused by payouts resulting from Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Your agent will be able to give you an exact cost. For a general idea, you can plug your street address into the flood risk profile on the National Flood Insurance Program’s website.

So the site tells you, for example, that the average flood insurance premium for addresses in moderate- to low-risk areas in Florida is $372, while a high-risk property in Louisiana would cost $688 to insure.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Documents You Need When Disaster Strikes

7/12/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.bankrate.com

Author: SUSAN LADIKA

Adelaide says when floods swept through her neighborhood in the wee hours one morning, the first thing she thought of was to go and rouse an elderly neighbor. The last thing on her mind was the financial records she left back in her own house.

“I was thinking family and I was thinking friends and I was thinking safety,” Adelaide says.

Uprooted from their home for days, she and her husband needed a couple of months “before we got to a place where we were thinking about paperwork again,” she says.

By that point, they were late on their mortgage payment. The financial institution was unforgiving, and the couple’s credit score took a hit.

They went through money woes that are common when lives are abruptly turned upside down because of a disaster. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Financial advisers say people who identify and prepare key documents long before calamity strikes can avoid unnecessary damage to their personal finances in the aftermath of a fire, flood, hurricane or other disaster.

Gather up these papers

All homeowners and renters should have a list of “must haves” and “like to haves” — items they will need, or want, after a disaster, says Mitchell Freedman, founder of MFAC Financial Advisors in Westlake Village, California, and an editor of “Disaster Recovery: A Guide to Financial Issues.”

Key documents to take with you include:

  • Mortgage documents or rental agreements.
  • Homeowners, renters and automobile insurance policies.
  • Financial statements and account numbers.
  • Copies of prescriptions for medications.
  • Tax records.

Freedman also suggests having a small stash of cash at hand. If the electricity is out, credit cards won’t work for purchases.

Donna Childs, a former insurance executive, was living within sight of the World Trade Center in New York when the twin towers collapsed in 2001. Hers was the only residential neighborhood evacuated, and she was kept out of her home for a couple of months.

Because of her business background, Childs already had all her personal and business documents scanned and stored online when she had to flee with just an overnight bag.

At a time like that, “you shouldn’t be thinking about documents, you should be thinking about safety,” says Childs, who later wrote the book “Prepare for the Worst, Plan for the Best: Disaster Preparedness and Recovery for Small Businesses.”

Neither Freedman nor Childs recommends using bank safety-deposit boxes to store key documents. They suggest that a bank could be destroyed or inaccessible after a disaster.

Instead, Freedman uses a portable hard drive with his computer so he can grab it and go.

“It’s one of the best insurance policies you’ll ever have,” he says.

Childs prefers using online cloud storage and sharing the password with a trusted family member or friend who can access the account in case of an emergency.

Some banks now offer virtual safe deposit boxes online, to protect documents, photos and videos.

Have proof of valuables, too

In addition to having access to key documents, it’s important to have proof of your valuables when filing insurance claims.

Michael McRaith, the former Illinois insurance director and now head of the Federal Insurance Office, says go room by room through your home, writing down the contents and making special note of things like antiques, jewelry and collectibles.

He recommends keeping one copy of the inventory at home and a second at another location, such as with a relative, at the office or in a safety-deposit box. The list should be updated periodically, with receipts kept for big-ticket items.

Having photographs or videos of your possessions is crucial, Freedman says. Without that evidence, “it’s difficult to know how many shirts you had, how many pair of pantyhose a woman had.”

If you need to file a claim after a disaster, the inventory, receipts, photos or videos can help verify the existence and value of your belongings, McRaith says.

If you have no home or renters insurance or are underinsured, you might claim your losses on your state and federal tax returns. Having documentation of your possessions helps provide necessary proof, Freedman says.

But the key is advance preparation. If you’ve made an inventory, “there’s lots of peace of mind,” Childs says. “That’s really priceless.”

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Be Ready in 2018 - Winter Water Damages

1/6/2018 (Permalink)

Water Damage Be Ready in 2018 - Winter Water Damages Ice Dams Can Cause Water Damages

Cold weather is upon us in the northeast.  With that comes snow, ice and frozen temperatures which are all jeopardy's to your home or business.

It is essential that you are aware of the hazards and can prepare, prevent or act quickly on each situation.

FROZEN PIPES

A frozen pipe can burst at the point where the ice blockage inside the pipe is located, but typically the rupture is caused by the backflow pressure between the water source and the blockage. A burst pipe can cause considerable damage to your
property if not addressed quickly.

ICE DAMS

Ice dams can be a major problem during the winter season.
They form when heated air melts roof snow downward into water dammed behind still-frozen ice. When the trapped water cannot safely flow or run into the gutter system, it can backflow under the roof ’s shingles and into the structure’s interior areas.

PREPARE YOUR HOME

  • If you own a home which is unoccupied during a cold period, ensure you have ample heating fuel and that the indoor thermostat, in all areas of the home, is minimally kept at 55 degrees and ensure that you have a trusted person check the home periodically during your absence.
  • 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 uninsulated areas of your home.
  • 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.
  • Ensure gutters are clean and secure. Leaves and debris accumulate, causing a damming effect on gutters, which could lead to roof problems and water damage.

PREPARE YOUR BUSINESS

  • Check your business property for downed tree limbs and branches. Weather, such as wind, heavy rain, ice and snow, can cause branches to fall, which could cause damage to the property and potentially cause
    personal injuries.
  • Inspect property, especially walkways and parking lots, for proper drainage to alleviate flood hazard potential.
  • Inspect all handrails, stairwells and entryways to address and correct potential slippery or hazardous areas. Install mats or non-slip surfaces and post caution signs where water could be present.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Solved! What To Do About a Leaky Roof

10/6/2017 (Permalink)

Q: Help! I woke after last night’s storm to find a discoloration on the kitchen ceiling and a puddle beneath. What do I do about this new leak?

A: There’s nothing quite like an indoor puddle to put a damper on your rise-and-shine routine, is there? The first thing to do is mitigate any moisture damage. That can get complicated, since a leaky roof doesn’t always appear as a puddle on the floor (or at least not immediately). Occasionally, the only sign of a leak is that subtle discolored patch on your ceiling or wall, caused from water pooling behind it. When you’re lucky enough to spot it early on, intervene as soon as possible following these steps.

Secure the scene. If water has only dripped onto the floor, consider yourself lucky and move a bucket to catch the falling droplets. (While you’re at it, save your sanity by propping up some scrap wood inside the container to mute the annoying drip-drip-drip sound.) Otherwise, move as much out of the water’s path and cover items that are too heavy to relocate with thick plastic sheeting.

Photo: istockphoto.com

Drain the water. Using a ladder or a sturdy chair, climb up and puncture the water-damaged patch with a screwdriver. Making a hole might sound counterintuitive, but skipping this step will allow more moisture to seep in. The weight of the water might even cause your ceiling to sag or collapse—one more thing to add to your list of necessary repairs. Ultimately, patching up a small, 1/2-inch drainage hole is a lot easier and cheaper than dealing with structural damage.

Start sleuthing. So where’s the source of that pesky leak? Water travels down trusses or flashing until it finds a weak spot, so the entry point into the house isn’t necessarily directly underneath the part of the roof you’ll have to fix.  If you have attic access, head up there first during daylight hours. Turn off the lights and look up for any small opening that allows sunshine to stream through—an obvious source for your leaky roof.

Fight water with water. Can’t spot any signs of damage from the attic? Your next step is the water-test method, where someone stands outside on the roof and, using a lengthy hose, showers the roof until the drip returns—giving you a second chance to locate the source.

Phone a professional. Sometimes, finding what is in need of repair is not as easy as spotting a hole in your attic’s ceiling. From failing flashing to clogged gutters to crumbling shingles, the list of potential causes is very long. If you’ve conducted a thorough inspection and you’re still not certain what has led to your leaky roof, it’s time to call in a pro to both deduce the problem and recommend a fix. The actual repair will depend on many factors, including shingle type and pitch.

Meanwhile, lay out a tarp. When you’ve determined the source of the leak but can’t get a same-day repair, you’ll have to find temporary measures to protect your roof and home from snow, rain, and more water damage. If the roof is dry enough for you to carefully climb, try covering the affected area with heavy plastic sheeting or a tarp (at least 6 millimeters thick) and some 2×4s. Start at least 4 feet beneath the problem area and slowly roll the plastic over it, past the ridge of the roof, and 4 feet down the opposite side to cover your leaky roof completely. Place one 2×4 at the “top” of the tarp (the opposite side of roof) and one at the bottom to weight it down, folding the tarp back over each plank and fastening it to the wood with a staple gun. The bottom board should rest in an eave or flat area against the roof. Lay a third 2×4 on the top board (which is wrapped in plastic sheeting) and secure it to the wrapped board with nails to help anchor the covering. Use more 2×4s resting on the plastic’s perimeter if you’re worried about wind.

While you work outside, remember: Proceed carefully and—unless you want to compound the problem with a few more leaks—do not puncture your roof by nailing or screwing boards directly to it.

When fire or water damage strikes, you need professional help to get your property back to preloss condition.  SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County provides 24-hour emergency service and is dedicated to being faster to any size disaster.  Our highly trained technicians can respond immediately to your residential or commercial emergency.??

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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SERVPRO Recognizes National Preparedness Month

9/6/2017 (Permalink)

SERVPRO Recognizes National Preparedness Month with a Reminder to Home and Business Owners:

“Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.”

Local disaster restoration specialist offers no-cost tools to help property owners prepare a comprehensive emergency readiness plan

September is National Preparedness Month (http://www.ready.gov/September), an annual event sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to raise awareness about the importance of preparing—in advance—for the unexpected. In support of this initiative, Jack Oliver, owner of SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County, encourages property owners to take the following two steps now to protect their family, home, and business in the aftermath of a disaster.

  1. Review and update your emergency preparedness plan, including business and life continuity plans. If you don’t yet have a plan, use the tools provided by FEMA to get started. (https://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan
  1. Collect and store time-critical information, like the location of shutoff valves, fire suppression system controls, and emergency contact numbers electronically, where it is immediately available to assist first responders.

“Evacuation plans and emergency supply kits help you survive a disaster, but a comprehensive emergency preparedness plan helps you recover from a disaster,” said Oliver. “The most effective response to any emergency is a fast response. That’s why having critical system and contact information at your fingertips is so important. A quick and effective response helps minimize repairs and downtime, helping both businesses and families get back on track in less time, with less stress.” 

SERVPRO offers tools for both commercial and residential property owners to help them minimize damage and recover quickly from emergencies. The SERVPRO READY app stores essential contact and property information electronically where it can be accessed with a mobile device in seconds if disaster strikes. Both home and business owners can download the free app at https://ready.SERVPRO.com/home/mobileapp. Local business owners can take an additional preparedness step by designating SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County as their disaster mitigation and restoration provider. SERVPRO professionals will conduct a no-cost assessment of the facility and assist the owner in completing a comprehensive Emergency READY Profile® (ERP) and storing that profile in the READY app.

“Rapid response from a disaster cleanup and restoration specialist can help the property owner evaluate options, start the insurance process, and take the right steps from the beginning to bring their property back to normal,” said Oliver. “Even in the confusion and panic that often surround a disaster, a property owner or manager using the SERVPRO READY app can reach out for expert help right from the scene, using a cell phone.”

SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County specializes in disaster restoration, cleanup and repair services, helping to remediate damage, making it “Like it never even happened,” for both commercial and residential customers. For more information on SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County, please call (973) 383-2024. For more information on SERVPRO® and the SERVPRO® Emergency READY Program, please visit www.ready.SERVPRO.com.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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The High Cost of Plumbing Leaks

8/11/2017 (Permalink)

The High Cost of Plumbing Leaks

Repair leaks promptly - If you have a leaky faucet, toilet or pipe in your home, fix it immediately before it becomes a much bigger and more expensive problem. Even if it’s a slow leak, such as a dripping faucet, it can account for more than 10 percent of your water usage.

If you don’t know if you have a leak, your water meter readings can provide the clue. When water is not in use, check the meter twice in a two-hour time span. If the readings change, then there is a leak somewhere in your home.

If you can't determine the source of the leak but your meter readings indicate you definitely have one, call in a professional plumber. You may have a leaky pipe behind a wall, and if left alone, will cause extensive damage that ruins the drywall, deteriorates the framing over time and causes mold growth. A leaky pipe is also an early sign of a burst pipe, which will result in greater damage to your home.

Stop a running toilet - A running toilet can cost you hundreds of dollars and is a major contribution to a costly water bill. It is generally the result of broken internal parts. It could be that a simple repair on the valves is needed, or there could be a larger issue.

"Many people think that showering or doing laundry uses the most water, but actually, the toilet accounts for the largest use of water in a home. If you have a leaky or running toilet, your water bill can skyrocket," explained Tim Flynn, owner. "If you hear the toilet running or it flushes slowly or overflows often, get it checked out right away. Clogged drains waste water as well and can become a major problem."

Waiting for hot water - If you turn on the sink or shower and wait anywhere from 30 seconds to over a minute for the water to heat up, precious gallons of clean water go down the drain. You are paying for that water to get hot while it runs. Consider replacing your traditional storage water heater with a Tankless Water Heater or installing a Hot Water Recirculating System. Recirculation pumps will get the water to the faucet faster and keep it hot in the line longer. They usually cost approximately $1000, which can be recouped in about two and a half years. Either system will ensure immediate delivery of hot water when you need it and provide significant water savings.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Window Air Conditioner Leaking Water Into House – What To Check – How To Fix

8/11/2017 (Permalink)

Window Air Conditioner Leaking Water Into House – What To Check – How To Fix

Question: I just turned my window AC unit ON today and it is leaking water inside my house. What could be the problem? I had it running for 3 weeks and all of a sudden it started leaking. There is a puddle of water on the window ledge on the inside of the house. Water is on the plastic vent where the cold air blows out. I believe that is where it is leaking but not sure. Can you tell me how to fix this? My carpet is soaking wet, I need this to stop leaking, please help!

Window AC Leaking Water Into House – How To Fix

ANSWER: You are going to check a few things to be sure the ac unit is installed properly and there is no water drainage block present
 Unplug the window AC unit.
 Clean up all the water on the AC unit, on the window ledge, and on the floor of your room.
 Check and be sure the AC is tightly sealed in the window.
 Do you feel warm air coming into the room around the AC unit?
 If you feel warm air coming in you need to seal it correctly.
 Seal in the window AC unit to prevent warm air from entering the room.
 Check to see if the drain holes on the rear of the ac unit are blocked.
 Clean the drain holes to allow water to drip out.
 Make sure the filter is clean and not clogged with massive dirt or dust.
 After cleaning up the water and having it turned off for 30 minutes or so, turn it back on and see if the water appears again.
 If water appears and starts dripping into your room again, check to see if the AC unit is properly sealed in the window.
 If the AC unit is not sealed correctly, the moisture in the air coming in from outside gets condensed by the cold air inside the unit and this extra moisture builds up in AC unit and then leaks.
SO BE SURE IT IS SEALED IN THE WINDOW CORRECTLY.

Here are some other reasons water can drip from a window air conditioner unit:

AIR LEAK – AIR CONDITIONER NOT PROPERLY SEALED IN WINDOW:
If your window air conditioner is not sealed correctly, the warmer air from outside gets inside the air conditioner. When this happens, the moisture that is in the warmer air will be condensed by the colder air inside the air conditioner. When there is excess moisture inside the AC, water will leak. So if this is happening to you, make sure you have a good seal around the window AC.

DRAIN IS BLOCKED – DIRT OR DUST HAS BLOCKED THE DRAIN HOLES:
There are drain holes (drip pan) at the rear of window AC units. They can get blocked from dusty conditions or dirt in the air. When this type of blockage happens, the water that would normally drip out will be trapped and water will leak from the front of the AC unit and at both sides of the unit. Be sure to keep the drain holes clean and free of debris. Also clean the filters or replace them to prevent any type of blockage that may cause a water leak.

OUTSIDE TEMP IS LOWER – HEAVY MOISTURE IN OUTSIDE AIR:
If it is raining or there is heavy moisture in the air outside, water evaporates much less than usual. This leads to excess water moisture in the air conditioner and this will cause water leaks. This is normal for most window AC units and using a drip pan can solve the issue if there is heavy moisture in the air outside.

CONDENSER PUMP NOT WORKING – BROKEN OR CLOGGED PUMP:
If the condenser pump in the AC is faulty or clogged, it will cause water to leak. You can check the condenser/pump if you feel confident. Check for any blockage or loose wires. If the pump seems to be okay visually, you will need to test the pump with a meter to see if it is faulty. If so, you may be better off buying a new AC unit.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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The 10 most Common Causes of Rooftop Leaks

8/11/2017 (Permalink)

The 10 most Common Causes of Rooftop Leaks

Let’s face it: No one wants to have to go running for a drip bucket every time it rains. Not only is having to stay on top of the weather forecast annoying and impractical, but that one small drip symbolizes a larger roofing issue – and we all know that roofing issues mean an investment of time and money.

In an effort to save you that investment, we’ve compiled a list of The 10 Most Common Causes of Roof Leaks. We’ll tell you what they look like, why they happen, and how to fix them.

Whether your roof is two years old or twenty keep this list handy. You never know when it could mean the difference between doing a quick repair or a major remodel.

1. Your Flashing Has Cracked

What Does It Look Like: Flashing are thin pieces of metal that are installed under shingles and on the joints of your roof in order to create a water-resistant barrier, which can be concealed or exposed. If exposed, they will look like long runs of sheet metal and, if concealed, they will have a rubberized coating over top. Broken flashing will feature large cracks

Why It Happens: Roofers often use tar to seal the flashing together and that can corrode over time. In the event that your flashing is left exposed, elements like wind and rain could be the reason behind its crack.

How To Fix It: (Via The Family Handyman): Once you locate the source of the leak, pry up the nails used to secure the old flashing. Lift any shingles out of the way and remove the cracked segment. Gently put a new run of flashing in its place, fasten the new flashing in the same pattern as your old piece using roofing nails. Then, apply a coat of roofing sealant to the nail heads.

2. You Have Broken Shingles

What Does It Look Like: Look up! This one is easy to spot. Since shingles are the exterior layer of a roof, you should be able to identify missing shingles by seeing different-colored patches on your roof. Alternatively, you may find the shingles themselves littering your yard after a heavy storm.

Why It Happens: Again, weather. High winds and heavy rains.

How To Fix It: (Via This Old House): Slide a pry bar underneath the row of nails that connects the damage shingle to the one below it. Lift up until the nail pops and then press down on the shingle while you remove the nail. Repeat for the remaining nails. Pull out the damaged shingle, replace it with a new one, and secure it with four new nails.

3. Your Valleys Aren’t Properly Sealed

What Does It Look Like: An area where two planes of roof come together. Since, these areas of the roof are usually sloped, if the valleys are not sealed together properly, rainwater can get inside as it runs down the roof. You can detect a problem by searching for wet spots that run along the seams of your roof.

Why It Happens: A variety of reasons – the sealing may not have been done properly in the first place, it may have cracked when being stepped on, or an excess of rain and ice may have caused it to erode over time.

How To Fix It: This is one of those things that needs to be done by a professional because of its complexity and we do not recommend attempting it on your own. However, your roofer will likely fix the problem by laying a new leak barrier along the valley and shingling overtop.

4. Your Vent Booting Is Cracked

What Does It Look Like: Roof vents are those things that look like small pipes sticking out of the top of your roof. They’re used to expel excess moisture from the inside of the house. Leaks from this area will likely leave corresponding dark spots (and mustiness).

Why It Happens: Roof vents are often sealed by placing some flashing around the opening and slipping a tight, rubber boot over the area where the pipe peeks out of the roof. Over time, the flashing can break or the roof can decay.

How To Fix It: (Via: DIY Guy): Use a knife to remove the rubber around the vent. Use a pry bar to break the seal on any connecting shingles. Slide the new rubber boot under the shingles, over the vent, and bring it down onto the roof. Then, secure the new boot with roofing nails on either side and caulk under the shingles to seal them to the new flashing.

5. You Have Ice Dam Buildup

What Does It Look Like: An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow (water) from draining off. The combined weight of the ice itself can damage the roof, as well as the water just sitting on the roof’s surface.

Why It Happens: The heat from your attic (and the rest of your house) is above freezing, which causes some of the snowfall to melt, despite the cold temperatures outside. The water will then run between the roof’s surface and the snow and will refreeze into ice once it hit’s the roof’s exterior edge.

How To Fix It: Invest in a roof rake, which looks like a sideways shovel with a long handle, and use it too reach up onto the roof and remove at least the lower four feet of snow from the roof edge. If you see an ice dam forming, consider treating it with an ice melt product, according to manufacturer’s directions.

6. Your Skylights Were Improperly Installed

What Does It Look Like: Leaks from this kind of problem should be super easy to spot. If you find yourself noticing wet spots or consistently needing to place drip buckets around the sides of your skylights, you’ve found the cause. However, leaks and wet spots near the top of the skylight may be a flashing issue instead.

Why It Happens: There are two main causes for this type of leak. Improperly measuring and fitting the skylights upon installation or decayed insulation along the skylights edges.

How To Fix It: Clear any debris off of the skylight and check for cracks in the window itself. Seal any cracks with a layer of clear silicone along its length, if necessary. If that is not the cause, check the surrounding flashing and replace as needed.

7. Your Gutters Are Clogged

What Does It Look Like: You may be able to see the leaves sticking out of the gutter when you look up onto your roof. But, if not, you should notice the lack of water trickling out of a downspout during a rainstorm.

Why It Happens: Your gutters are meant to help water travel away from the roof. When a blockage forms and they get clogged, that travel stops. Rainwater will then pool in one area of the roof and have more of an opportunity to seep through cracks.

How To Fix It: Sorry, there’s no easy answer to this one. Get up on a ladder, and get in there with your hands. Many recommend placing a large tarp underneath the area where you are working. That way, you can drop any debris as you go and wrap it up for easy disposal later.

8. You Have A Cracked Chimney

What Does It Look Like: Most often, you can look for signs of wear and tear along the mud cap, or mortared area around the top of the chimney. You should also look for any holes in the mortared joints where the chimney connects with the roof. Also, be on the lookout for loose flashing and shingles in the surrounding area.

Why It Happens: Mortar is essentially just a thick mixture of water, sand, and cement. It erodes easily in harsh weather conditions.

How To Fix It: In some cases, all you need to do is find the source of the leak and replace the missing mortar. However, since the materials used for chimney repairs are different than those for standard roofing fixes, it is recommended that you hire a professional handle the repairs.

9. There’s Condensation In Your Attic

What Does It Look Like: A leak is most likely coming from your attic if the space shows signs of mold growth or mildew. A strong, musty odor  emanating from the attic is also a key that water has gotten inside.

Why It Happens: As the uppermost part of your home, the attic is trapped between indoor and outdoor temperatures. When those clash – think hot summers and cold winters – condensation will form and moisture will follow.

How To Fix It: First, treat any mold growth. Then, take the time to isolate your attic to prevent large fluctuations in temperature. Make sure that all of the roof vents are clear from the interior end and install a large ventilation fan, if needed.

10. You’re Using It Too Much

What Does It Look Like: Unfortunately, there is no way to differentiate if this is the cause of the leak. However, all homeowners should be careful with how often they venture out on to their roofs.

Why It Happens: As you can see from the other causes in this post, a lot of roofing material is very fragile. You may accidentally step on a crucial element or crack an already precarious seal.

How To Fix It: Avoid walking on your roof whenever possible. Let that Frisbee go and buy a new one. Hire a professional roofer to do your fixes, since they are trained on how to avoid the most easily-damaged areas.

Whether you have an old roof, new roof, or even a fancy green rooftop, wear and tear is unavoidable. There will be rainstorms, long winters, and heavy winds. But, roof leaks? They are a different story. With the right care regimen, every roof should have the ability to keep your family warm and dry for decades. As you work on home maintenance, refer to this list of the 10 most common causes of roof leaks. You’ll be glad you did when catching a leak early saves you time and money.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Water Damage: Winter Water Damages

1/6/2017 (Permalink)

Water Damage Water Damage: Winter Water Damages Ice Dam

Cold weather is upon us in the northeast.  With that comes snow, ice and frozen temperatures which are all jeopardy's to your home or business.

It is essential that you are aware of the hazards and can prepare, prevent or act quickly on each situation.

FROZEN PIPES

A frozen pipe can burst at the point where the ice blockage inside the pipe is located, but typically the rupture is caused by the backflow pressure between the water source and the blockage. A burst pipe can cause considerable damage to your
property if not addressed quickly.

ICE DAMS

Ice dams can be a major problem during the winter season.
They form when heated air melts roof snow downward into water dammed behind still-frozen ice. When the trapped water cannot safely flow or run into the gutter system, it can backflow under the roof ’s shingles and into the structure’s interior areas.

PREPARE YOUR HOME

  • If you own a home which is unoccupied during a cold period, ensure you have ample heating fuel and that the indoor thermostat, in all areas of the home, is minimally kept at 55 degrees and ensure that you have a trusted person check the home periodically during your absence.
  • 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 uninsulated areas of your home.
  • 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.
  • Ensure gutters are clean and secure. Leaves and debris accumulate, causing a damming effect on gutters, which could lead to roof problems and water damage.

PREPARE YOUR BUSINESS

  • Check your business property for downed tree limbs and branches. Weather, such as wind, heavy rain, ice and snow, can cause branches to fall, which could cause damage to the property and potentially cause
    personal injuries.
  • Inspect property, especially walkways and parking lots, for proper drainage to alleviate flood hazard potential.
  • Inspect all handrails, stairwells and entryways to address and correct potential slippery or hazardous areas. Install mats or non-slip surfaces and post caution signs where water could be present.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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It's The Water You Don't See

7/29/2016 (Permalink)

Water Damage It's The Water You Don't See Hidden water underneath wet carpeting could eventually cause mold damage if not properly treated.

Even small water damages have the potential to cause serious structural and indoor air quality issues over time.

The key to avoiding costly future restoration is to handle every water problem as a real threat to your property. SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals have the equipment, training and experience to find and dry unseen water before secondary damages occur. The proper equipment makes a measurable difference in reducing the damage expense during a fire or water loss.  When time matters, technology and equipment must be counted on to perform. SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals will answer your call with rapid action and a full arsenal of drying equipment. Here are a few of the tools used by your local SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals.

  • Moisture Sensors are used to detect moisture in carpets, baseboards and walls.
  • Moisture Meters are used to determine the actual moisture content of various materials. The moisture tester provides accurate readings, allowing SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals to monitor the drying process.
  • Thermohygrometers measure temperature and relative humidity.  When armed with this information, SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals can calculate and create an environment most conducive to drying. When facing a contaminated water loss, it is not only important to dry the structure, but the structure must also be disinfected and often deodorized.
  • Ultra Low-Volume (ULV) Foggers will atomize liquid deodorizing agents, producing a fine mist that can easily penetrate the site where odor-causing residues may accumulate. This device can also be used to inject fungicides and disinfectants into wall cavities and other hard-to-reach areas.
  • Thermal Foggers dispense solvent-based products by creating a dense fog. The fog consists of tiny particles of deodorant solution that attach to and neutralize odor causing

particles.

The bottom line? SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals have the training and equipment to help make it “Like it never even happened.”

Visit the Water Damage section of our website to learn more...Water Damage Repair and Restoration

The Science of Water Damage Drying

6/3/2016 (Permalink)

Water Damage The Science of Water Damage Drying Specialized water damage drying equipment shown here drying a wall cavity with no wall damage and requiring minimal repairs.

DID YOU KNOW there is actually a science behind the process of drying?  Having the knowledge of psychrometrics is essential to restoring a water damaged structure to its preloss condition. While your initial reaction may be to grab a few towels to mop up the mess and place a fan or two around the damaged area, SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County professionals are trained in the science of drying and follow strict industry approved standards to help lower the chances of any secondary damages.  If your home or business suffers a water damage, SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals will:

  • Inspect the building to detect every component that is wet, to help prevent secondary damage from happening.
  • Measure how much moisture is in wet materials and monitor whether the materials are drying properly.
  • Speed up Mother Nature by using professional drying equipment.

What exactly does it mean to help “speed up Mother Nature”? A wet building can often dry naturally because the environment always seeks equilibrium. When materials are wet, moisture will naturally move to drier air at the surface of the material–but only if the air is, indeed, drier. Th e only problem is, nature takes too long and secondary damages may occur while the building is drying out.

SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals have the tools and equipment to help Mother Nature along, including equipment to help dryhardwood floors, tough-to-reach spaces inside walls (pictured below), and much more.  SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals also use state-of-the-art monitoring equipment, and a proven scientific process to help speed the drying of your home or business.

The bottom line?  SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals have the training and equipment to help make water damage “Like it never even happened.”

Be Storm Ready, Be Storm Smart

4/21/2016 (Permalink)

Severe weather can happen any time, anywhere.  Each year, Americans cope with an average of  the following intense storms*:

  • 10,000 severe thunderstorms
  • 5,000 floods or flash floods
  • 1,000 tornadoes
  • 2 landfalling deadly hurricanes

Approximately 98 percent of all presidentially declared disasters are weather-related, leading to around 500 deaths per year and nearly $15 billion in damage.  * Knowing your risk of severe weather, taking action and being an example are just a few steps you can take to be better prepared to save your life and assist in saving the lives of others.

Know Your Risk.

The first step to becoming weather-ready is to understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you, your business and your family.  Check the weather forecast regularly, obtain a NOAA Weather Radio, and learn about Wireless Emergency Alerts.  Severe weather comes in many forms and your shelter plan should include all types of local hazards.

Take Action.

Take the next step in severe weather preparedness by creating a communications plan for your home and business. Put together or purchase an emergency kit.  Keep important papers and valuables in a safe place.

Be an Example. 

Once you have taken action to prepare for severe weather, share your story with co-workers and family and friends on Facebook or Twitter. Your preparedness story will inspire others to do the same.

Build An Emergency Supply Kit

  • Water (one gallon per person per day)
  • Food (non-perishable 3-day supply)
  • Manual can opener
  • Battery operated radio, preferably a NOAA Weather Radio
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Clothing
  • Dust masks or bandanas
  • Plastic sheeting, garbage bags and duct tape
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Hygiene items
  • Important documents; copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account information
  • Cash
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container

Contact SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County for more readiness tips and tools, including SERVPRO’s Emergency READY Profile® (ERP).  Having an ERP in place for your facility can help minimize business interruption in the event of a disaster.

Contact SERVPRO® to learn more and be “Ready for whatever happens!”

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What To Do Until Help Arrives

11/21/2015 (Permalink)

EMERGENCY TIPS FOR YOUR HOME

Please follow these DOs and DON’Ts to help reduce damage and increase the chances of a successful restoration.

CLEAN WATER DAMAGE

DO:

  • 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.
  • Wipe excess water from wood furniture after removing   lamps and tabletop items.
  • Remove and 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.
  • DON'T

  • Enter rooms with standing water where electrical shock 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 TVs 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.
  • CONTAMINATED WATER DAMAGE

    DO

  • Avoid all contact with sewage and items contaminated   by sewage.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after contact with   contaminated items.
  • DON'T

  • Spread contaminated water by walking unnecessarily   on damaged or wet areas.
  • Turn on the HVAC system if 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 areas.
  • HARMFUL WASTE

    DO

  • Stay out of affected areas.
  • Call emergency service personnel if the situation is life-threatening.
  • Treat all bodily fluids as if they are contaminated.
  • DON'T

  • Attempt cleanup of any kind.
  • Touch or handle items that might be contaminated with bodily fluids.
  • Winter Weather

    11/19/2015 (Permalink)

    Water Damage Winter Weather Frozen Pipe

    Tips for Preparing Your Home or Business for Winter Weather

    PREPARE YOUR BUSINESS

  • Check your business property for downed tree limbs and branches. Weather, such as wind, heavy rain, ice and snow, can cause branches to fall, which could cause damage to the property and potentially cause personal injuries.
  • Inspect property, especially walkways and parking lots, for proper drainage to alleviate flood hazard potential.
  • Inspect all handrails, stairwells and entryways to address and correct potential slippery or hazardous areas. Install mats or non-slip surfaces and post caution signs where water could be present.
  • Ask SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County about starting a Disaster Recovery Plan for your business.
  • PREPARE YOUR HOME

  • 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 uninsulated areas of your home.
  • 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.
  • Ensure gutters are clean and secure. Leaves and debris accumulate, causing a damming effect on gutters, which could lead to roof problems and water damage.
  • Proper maintenance of your furnace can help reduce the risk of puff-backs.
  • FROZEN PIPES

    A frozen pipe can burst at the point where the ice blockage inside the pipe is located, but typically the rupture is caused by the backflow pressure between the water source and the blockage. A burst pipe can cause considerable damage to your property if not addressed quickly. SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County is faster to any size disaster, bringing the latest equipment and training to help make your water damage “Like it never even happened.”

    ICE DAMS

    Ice dams can be a major problem during the winter season. They form when heated air melts roof snow downward into water dammed behind still-frozen ice.

    When the trapped water cannot safely flow or run into the gutter system, it can backflow under the roof ’s shingles and into the structure’s interior areas. SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County can help mitigate water damage caused by ice dams and help you get your structure back to pre-loss condition.

    PUFFBACKS

    A puff back is a messy furnace malfunction that occurs when an oil burner backfires, sending soot throughout your home or business. It can happen all at once, covering an interior in grimy soot, or a puff back can leak soot particles more gradually. Equipped with the training, tools and experience to quickly and efficiently clean and restore your home or business, your SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County will help make your puff back “Like it never even happened.”

    FLU SEASON

    Help prevent the spread of flu germs. Homes and businesses can depend on their local SERVPRO Franchise Professional to clean and sanitize building materials, surfaces and contents following restoration industry standards, using professional cleaning products and EPA-registered cleaners and disinfectants. SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County is also trained and equipped to clean your HVAC and duct systems to help provide better air quality and help reduce the risk of circulating harmful contaminants.

    Property Restoration Can Be a Messy Business

    9/18/2015 (Permalink)

    Below is a recent press release regarding our efficiency and proprietary technology:

    Local disaster recovery specialist offers insight into the complexities of dealing with disaster.

    When disaster strikes, property owners need to make a lot of decisions quickly and under pressure. Effective disaster remediation involves a lot of moving parts: remediation specialists, insurance companies, local codes, state codes, documentation and more—and all of this has to happen in an atmosphere charged with emotion and stress. 

    Cody Sullins of SERVPRO® of Christian, Todd, Logan & Simpson Counties says, “Efficiency is key when you are dealing with disaster remediation; it saves our customers money and it makes our work more effective. SERVPRO is an industry leader in work efficiency technology—continually innovating to help both our customers and our business control costs.” 

    SERVPRO’s proprietary DryBook™ tool is one example of the company’s focus on efficiency and cost control. Remediation projects must be managed to both industry and insurance company standards, and Sullins says tools like DryBook™ help SERVPRO Franchise technicians track and document progress on restoration, cleanup and repair services. “The DryBook™ tool helps us deliver on every detail of every water damage job, every time,” says Sullins. 

    To help avoid regulatory headaches and paperwork pitfalls, Sullins suggests property owners consider the following criteria when choosing a remediation company to deal with the aftermath of a disaster. 

    1. Industry standards: Does your remediation company deliver a product that meets the standards set by

    • The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Cleaning (IICRC)?

    • Most major insurance companies, including cycle times and deadline requirements?

    2. Recordkeeping: Does your remediation company have a system in place to ensure accurate, complete and convenient benchmarking of each step of the remediation process, including

    • Capturing and updating data, including job diary notes, electronically real-time on the jobsite, with simultaneous updates saved at the central office?

    • Using e-signatures to help eliminate lost paperwork and the need to scan documents?

    • Providing a complete record of the damage and remediation efforts in images, with descriptions, start-to-finish?

    3. Equipment selection: Does your contractor have the ability, on-the-spot, to

    • Identify the right equipment for the job, based on the damage description?

    • Validate the use of each piece of equipment, automatically, as part of the remediation records?