Recent Water Damage Posts

Be Ready This Winter - Winter Water Damages

10/4/2021 (Permalink)

Cold weather will soon be 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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What Happens After a Flood: Mold Remediation

9/2/2021 (Permalink)

Have you ever wondered what happens when a mold removal specialist gets called to a mold-damaged facility? The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) shares five steps a mold removal specialist takes when conducting mold remediation.

“Many people aren’t aware of the dangers, nor the difficulty level of removing mold from a facility,” said IICRC Chairman Tony Wheelwright. “Mold remediation is a potentially hazardous process that should only be undertaken by a certified professional.”

Five steps that each mold-removal specialist takes when conducting mold remediation includes:

  1. Determine the degree of contamination.  The first step for a mold remediation specialist may be to bring in an Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) or Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) to determine the extent of the mold damage and test for contamination within the facility. Because mold spores and other microscopic contaminants can travel easily throughout a building, the IEP/CIH may collect and analyze samples from affected as well as unaffected areas of the building. Once the IEP/CIH has finished the inspection they will develop a remediation plan for the mold removal specialist, such as SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County, with steps to return the home to its preloss condition (Condition 1).  Learn more about our Mold Remediation process by visiting our website here.
  2. Set up and verify containment. To make sure mold contamination does not spread to other areas of a facility, the SERVPRO will set up containment by creating isolation barriers. Once the barriers are set up, SERVPRO will need to verify the containment with a lower partial pressure differential (negative pressure) to ensure there is no air leakage between containment zones. Exit chambers would then be used to serve as a transition between the containment and the unaffected area of the building. Once the containment is verified and the correct amount of pressure is achieved, the removal process can begin.
  3. Remove unsalvageable materials. Porous materials and items that cannot be restored or cleaned effectively must be carefully discarded. Unsalvageable items include but are not limited to drywall, insulation and other items with visible mold growth. It is important for the SERVPROspecialist to wear the appropriate personal protective equipment which may include a full face respirator equipped with a P100/OV cartridge, disposable coveralls and nitrite gloves.
  4. Clean surfaces with a high-attention to detail. SERVPRO will likely begin the cleaning process by thoroughly vacuuming the contaminated areas using a HEPA vacuum with a high-efficiency filter to catch mold spores. We will then begin a detailed cleaning process involving mold removal tools such as a HEPA filtered sander, followed by the damp wiping of surfaces with an effective cleaning solution.
  5. Verify remediation. Once cleaning is complete, the IEP/CIH will return to verify the remediation was successful. The area must be returned to the dry standard and should be visually dust free with no malodors. In addition an IEP/CIH may perform surface or air sampling as part of the verification that the area is back to normal fungal ecology (Condition 1).

“Mold remediation requires mold removal specialists to perform techniques that promote source removal rather than relying on chemicals, paints and coatings as a replacement,” said Rachel Adams, President of Indoor Environmental Management, Inc. “Understanding and managing air flow is also critical to the success of a mold remediation project. Working with qualified IEP can also help to reduce the liability for the technician as well as provide a final determination if the remediation was successful.”

For more information on mold remediation or the latest in mold remediation standards, visit the IICRC

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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Flood Cleanup: Avoiding Indoor Air Quality Problems

8/3/2021 (Permalink)

During a flood cleanup, the indoor air quality in your home or office may appear to be the least of your problems. However, failure to remove contaminated materials and to reduce moisture and humidity can present secondary mold growth problems. Standing water and wet materials are a breeding ground for microorganisms, such as viruses, bacteria, and mold. They can continue to damage materials long after the flood.

This fact sheet discusses problems caused by microbial growth, as well as other potential effects of flooding, on long-term indoor air quality and the steps you can take to lessen these effects. Although the information contained here emphasizes residential flood cleanup, it is also applicable to other types of buildings.

Prepare for Cleanup

Read Repairing Your Flooded Home prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross. The booklet discusses flood safety issues. The booklet also contains detailed information on proper methods for cleaning up your home. You should also consult the wealth of information on the FEMA, CDC, and The American Lung Association sites on the subject.

Avoid Problems from Microbial Growth

Remove Standing Water

Standing water is a breeding ground for microorganisms, which can become airborne and be inhaled. Floodwater may also contain sewage or decaying animal carcasses. Even when flooding is due to rainwater, the growth of microorganisms can is always a risk. For these reasons, all standing water should be removed as quickly as possible.

Dry Out Your Home

Excess moisture in the home is an indoor air quality concern for three reasons:

  • Microorganisms brought into the home during flooding may present a health hazard. These organisms can penetrate deep into soaked, porous materials and later be released into air or water. 
  • High humidity and moist materials provide ideal environments for the excessive growth of microorganisms that are always present in the home. 
  • Long-term increases in humidity in the home can also foster the growth of dust mites. 

Be patient. The drying out process could take several weeks, and growth of microorganisms will continue as long as humidity is high. If the house is not dried out properly, a musty odor, signifying growth of microorganisms can remain long after the flood.

Remove Wet Materials

It can be difficult to throw away items in a home, particularly those with sentimental value. However, keeping certain items that were soaked by water may be unhealthy. Some materials tend to absorb and keep water more than others. In general, materials that are wet and cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried within 24-48 hours should be discarded, as they can remain a source of microbial growth.

You may be able to dry out and save certain building materials (for example, wallboard, fiberglass insulation, and wall-to-wall carpeting that were soaked only with clean rainwater). You may, however, want to consider removing and replacing them to avoid indoor air quality problems. Because they take a long time to dry, they may be a source of microbial growth.

In addition, fiberboard, fibrous insulation, and disposable filters should be replaced, if they are present in your heating and air conditioning system and have contacted water. (If a filter was designed to be cleaned with water and was in contact with clean rainwater only, ensure that it is thoroughly cleaned before reinstalling.)

Avoid Problems from the Use of Cleaners and Disinfectants

The cleanup process involves thorough washing and disinfecting of the walls, floors, closets, shelves, and contents of the house. 

Be careful about the use of household cleaners and disinfectants together. Check labels for cautions on this. Mixing certain types of products can produce toxic fumes and result in injury and even death.  

Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that can be lethal at high levels. Carbon monoxide levels can build up rapidly if certain types of combustion devices (for example, gasoline-powered generators, camp stoves and lanterns, or charcoal-burning devices) are used indoors. Do not use combustion devices designed for outdoor use indoors.

Avoid Problems from Airborne Asbestos and Lead Dust

Elevated concentrations of airborne asbestos can occur if asbestos-containing materials present in the home are disturbed. If you know or suspect that your home contains asbestos, contact the EPA TSCA Assistance Information Service at (202) 554-1404 for information on steps you should take to avoid exposure.

Lead is a highly toxic metal. Disturbance or removal of materials containing lead-based paint may result in elevated concentration of lead dust in the air. If you know or suspect that your home contains lead-based paint, contact the National Lead Information Center to receive a general information packet, to order other documents, or for detailed information or questions. 

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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Mold and Humidity Threats in Vacation Residences

5/12/2021 (Permalink)

A closed-up vacation house can be a breeding ground for mold in the summer months. Moisture from a nearby lake or river, or the humidity in the air, can lead to that musty odor vacationers have come to expect upon arriving at their weekend getaway.

Mold is a particularly hidden foe. It exists nearly everywhere in an inactive state, and all it needs to grow is a food source (drywall will do nicely), and a source of moisture, such as high humidity.

To get rid of the damp odor, most homeowners will turn on the air conditioner and maybe a dehumidifier and wait for the smell to go away. While much of the odor may dissipate in a few hours, the mold is still there. And, when they leave for a week, it’s back again when they return.

That smell is more than just unpleasant; it’s an indication that mold is actively growing, potentially affecting health. Left untreated, mold will continue to grow and spread and can damage walls, ceilings, carpeting, and more. Every time the house is closed up and the a/c is turned off, the moisture creeps back in and the mold begins growing again.

MOISTURE SOLUTIONS

What can HVAC contractors do to help? First, it’s important to stress to customers that the key to preventing mold is to eliminate moisture. The first step is to address any leaks in roofing, chimneys, and foundations. Perhaps you can recommend someone who can do a thorough check and perform the repairs necessary to stop the leaks. If mold remediation is necessary, your customer should get bids from several companies that specialize in this, as it can be costly.

Reducing humidity through air conditioning is a key to controlling mold, but, of course, leaving the a/c on all summer long will run up utility bills. Fresh outside air is also critical, but vacation homeowners won’t want to leave windows open while they’re not using the property.

Some relatively new offerings in air conditioning systems can help manage mold problems. One example is a small-duct, high-velocity air handler, which has a unique cooling coil that removes 30 percent more humidity from the air than a traditional system. Eliminating moisture is critical in avoiding mold growth, so this feature is particularly important.

Another helpful technology is a continuously operating outdoor inverter unit that works so efficiently that homeowners can leave it on while they’re away without breaking the bank. It runs on various speeds — typically a very low speed — always striving for the most efficient operation by making small, incremental changes to keep a constant temperature. In a traditional system, every time the system cycles on it must ramp up to full operating power, requiring a tremendous amount of energy. You won’t have this issue with the inverter unit.

When cooling a summer home, the inverter technology is a great way for customers to keep air conditioning going when they’re gone, but at a lower cost.

Another great option is a ventilation system operated by a programmable control board. Based on the size of the home, the control board calculates how much fresh outside air to bring in at all times, opening and closing dampers as needed to maintain a healthy level of fresh air. Look for options that meet ASHRAE 62.2 standards for IAQ.

These newer technologies can go a long way toward reducing energy consumption while letting fresh air in and keeping mold problems at bay. More savings and fewer molds mean a healthier and happier vacation for everyone. 

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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Is It Mold or Is It Rust?

2/26/2021 (Permalink)

Can you easily tell the difference between mold and rust? Many people look at a reddish colored stain and assume its rust, although that’s not always the case. Before you break out your heavy-duty cleaning solutions, it pays to understand what you’re up against: mold, rust, or even another stain. 

What’s Normal for Your Home?

If you’re seeing new stains on walls, floors, or countertops, you’ll want to make sure they’re not the result of water infiltration or excess humidity in your home. Try to pinpoint a reason for the stain, based on what room it’s in and the common daily activity. Mold tends to be found in damp, humid areas, while rust forms when metallic surfaces start to corrode. Recognizing the differences between mold and rust helps you determine the best way to take care of an issue before it becomes more pervasive.

What’s that Stain? Mold vs Rust

Areas prone to dampness, such as bathrooms and basements, can easily foster the growth of mold or mildew. If you see a stain that looks like mold or rust in your shower, sink area, or basement, you’ll want to clean them as quickly as possible to avoid permanent damage. However, different cleaning solutions are used to treat different stains. Rust, hard water marks, grease, and mold may all look similar, but if you use the wrong cleaner, you may not be able to fully remove them.

Identifying Rust

Rust is the result of iron, or a metal alloy containing iron, such as steel, corroding. Rust is most often observed as a red, yellow or reddish-brown surface stain. Rust is caused by water or damp air touching the surface or a metal prone to rusting. Some common areas where rust is spotted in the home, according to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), include the following:

  • Water Pipes
  • Metal Roofs and Chimneys
  • Oil tanks for home with oil heat
  • Electrical Panel Boxes
  • Nails

Preventing Rust

Rust can be prevented by keeping metals out of damp and humid areas. Protective coatings, such as varnish may also be applied to surfaces prone to rusting. Ensuring that metal fixtures in your home are kept dry can also help to prevent rust. Wipe up spills immediately and check your basement after heavy storms to spot signs of flooding as soon as possible.

Removing Rust

Removing rust can be a tough job, but with the right cleaners, you should be successful. For lighter rust stains, some household products, such as baking soda or vinegar might work. Mild abrasives like steel wool pads may also remove surface rust, but they may also leave behind scratch marks. There are also many specialized rust removal products sold that you can try for smaller stains. One product you should never use on rust is bleach, which could react negatively with the rust and actually worsen it. 

If you do attempt to clean rust, always follow the instructions on any commercial cleaning product. Be sure to don safety gear, including gloves, safety glasses and a face mask. Always work in a well-ventilated area. If you’re not comfortable with the task, find a handyman or painter that is.

Mold Stains

Mold can resemble other stains like rust or mildew in appearance, but there are actually over 300 types of mold. The colors of mold can range from black to brown, white or gray, or even pink, blue or green. Mold also presents in a range of textures from downy to fuzzy. Some mold is powdery and some has a more slimy texture. 

Mold can grow as the result of a single event, such as a broken pipe or indoor water infiltration due to floods or leaks. It’s important to catch the signs of indoor mold growth as early as possible and have them taken care of before they lead to greater damage. Mold can also affect the health of certain susceptible individuals, including those with a suppressed immune system or an allergy to mold. Mold sometimes can leave a stain, but that’s not always the case. A damp, musty odor can also be a sign of mold growth. 

If you notice mold growth in damp areas of your home, you can clean affected surfaces with a specialized mold removal product. Common, everyday household cleaning solutions may not be effective against mold. Typically, mold cannot be totally eradicated from porous surfaces, like shower curtains, drywall or insulation; these items should be disposed of and replaced.

When cleaning mold, you should always wear protective gear, such as a face mask and ensure that you’re working in an adequately ventilated area. You can read more about the protective gear recommended for mold removal. If you suffer from mold allergies or asthma, it is not recommended that you try to clean the mold yourself. SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County can help you determine the best way to remove the mold. Once the mold is removed, it’s a good idea to have the area tested by a professional. If mold has continued to grow in your home, you may have a more pervasive problem that requires additional professional remediation from SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County.

Evaluating Mold Issues

Because so many of the stains we see around the house look similar, it may be difficult to determine what is causing the discoloration and damage. If you notice stains on your walls, countertops, or floors that look like mold or rust, contact SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County and request a free home inspection to help diagnose your problem. 

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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Home Mold Testing - DIY Kit - Use With Caution

12/27/2020 (Permalink)

You can expect mold and mildew outside your home because of the natural damp conditions of the outdoors. Mold and mildew inside the home is a different problem, because the inside of your home shouldn’t remain damp.

The presence of moisture is the biggest contributor to mold growth, and to fight the infestation you should conduct a room-by-room assessment of the house to identify problem areas. The moisture can come from condensation due to poor ventilation (attic), from a water leak (around bathrooms), or from outdoor intrusion (foundation walls).

Detection

Mold and mildew in a home is not always easy to detect if it exists within attics or is hidden within walls. If you suspect your indoor air quality is hindered by hidden mold, the best course of action is to contact an Industrial Hygienist (IH). 

The IH will take both surface and air samples to detect the presence of mold on the structure.  These 2 tests are important to take in concert with each other as they will help to detect the presence of mold in areas that cannot be seen or reached, such as in wall cavities.  They will also help to determine the severity and types of mold in a specific area of the home.

If you choose to take your own surface sample as a first step, mold detection kits can be purchased in most home improvement stores and are easy to use.  Simply swab the surface in an area you're concerned with.  Test results show in as little as 5 minutes, and much like a pregnancy test you’ll either see one line (negative results) or two lines (positive).

Use caution as these tests are not necessarily conclusive, given the absence of air samples and misinterpretation by the user.  Only a trained professional should perform mold testing, using the proper methods.

Even if your home test is positive, it does not necessarily mean you have a serious problem but that you should consider consulting a professional indoor air quality inspector or contact SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County. You can also have an optional laboratory analysis of your test results conducted for an additional fee.  

Click here to go to our website and learn a bit more about Mold Remediation. 

Fighting the Mold you Find

If you discover mold on the home’s interior, the first step in solving the problem is to eliminate the source of moisture—whatever that may be. Otherwise, any mold or mildew you clean is likely to return.

For minor problems you may be able to clean the surface of the materials with an antimicrobial cleaner. For major problems, remove materials that cannot be thoroughly cleaned of mold like insulation, carpeting or drywall. Use your antimicrobial cleaner to clean the surrounding area as well as the places where you actually see mold and mildew, to make sure you remove all traces of the substances.

Finally, replace the removed building materials with new, mold-free materials.

Mold can be a serious issue with challenging aspects in remediating it properly.  We highly recommend calling in a professional, like SERVPRO, to help you evaluate the proper steps before proceeding on your own.

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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Property Restoration Can Be a Messy Business

10/2/2020 (Permalink)

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?

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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Storm Ready, Storm Smart

9/2/2020 (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 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 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

8/3/2020 (Permalink)

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 has 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 fast action and a full arsenal of drying equipment. Here are a few of the tools used by your local SERVPRO® 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® professionals to monitor the drying process.
  • Thermohygrometers measure temperature and relative humidity. When armed with this information, SERVPRO® 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 to deodorize structures, garments, automobiles and other places where cleaning cannot reach.

The bottom line?

SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County has the training and equipment to make it “Like it never even happened.”

DEFENSE AGAINST MOLD GROWTH:

Prompt mitigation is vital to avoid mold growth, which can be visible in as little as 24 to 48 hours under certain conditions.

  • Keep the humidity between 30 to 60 percent.
  • Provide for proper drainage away from building foundations.
  • Regularly inspect plumbing and appliances
    for leaks.
  • Keep gutters and drains clear of debris.
  • Inspect the roof, windows and other areas where water might enter the building and perform necessary maintenance.
  • Respond to all water intrusions immediately.
  • Contact SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County for assistance after a water damage or if you discover mold.

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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Hurricane Preparedness

5/12/2020 (Permalink)

Hurricane Preparedness Taking important steps to monitor and prepare for a hurricane can save your home and your life.

Source: https://www.ready.gov/

Hurricanes are dangerous and can cause major damage because of storm surge, wind damage, and flooding. They can happen along any U.S. coast or in any territory in the Atlantic or Pacific oceans. Storm surge is historically the leading cause of hurricane-related deaths in the United States.

Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season: May 15-November 30. Atlantic Hurricane Season: June 1-November 30. Central Pacific Hurricane Season: June 1-November 30. 

Prepare for Hurricanes

Know your Hurricane Risk

Hurricanes are not just a coastal problem. Find out how rain, wind, water could happen where you live so you can start preparing now.

Recognize Warnings and Alerts

Have several ways to receive alerts.Download the FEMA app and receive real-time alertsfrom the National Weather Service for up to five locations nationwide. Sign up for community alerts in your area and be aware of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA)- which requires no-sign up.

Make an Emergency Plan

Make sure everyone in your household knows and understands your hurricane plan. Discuss the latest Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance on Coronavirus (COVID-19) and how it may affect your hurricane planning. Don’t forget a plan for the office, kids’ daycare, and anywhere you frequent.

Review Important Documents

Make sure your insurance policies and personal documents like ID are up to date. Make copies and keep them in a secure password protected digital space.

Gather Supplies

Have enough supplies for your household, include medication, disinfectant supplies, cloth face coveringspet supplies in your go bag or car trunk.

Strengthen your Home

Declutter drains and gutters, bring in outside furniture, consider hurricane shutters.

Get Tech Ready

Keep your cell phone charged when you know a hurricane is in the forecast and purchase backup charging devices to power electronics.

Those with Disabilities

If you or anyone in your household is an individual with a disability identify if you may need additional help during an emergency.

Know your Evacuation Zone

You may have to evacuate quickly due to a hurricane. Learn your evacuation routes, practice with household, pets, and identify where you will stay. 

Help your Neighborhood

Check with neighbors, senior adults, or those who may need additional help securing hurricane plans to see how you can be of assistance to others.

Prepare your Business

Make sure your business has a continuity plan to continue operating when disaster strikes.

Stay Safe During a Hurricane

Stay Informed

  • Listen for emergency information and alerts.
  • If told to evacuate by local officials, do so immediately.

Dealing with the Weather

  • Determine how best to protect yourself from high winds and flooding.
  • Take refuge in a designated storm shelter, or an interior room for high winds.
  • If trapped in a building by flooding, go to the highest level of the building. Do not climb into a closed attic. You may become trapped by rising flood water.
  • Do not walk, swim, or drive through flood waters. Turn Around. Don’t Drown! Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
  • Stay off bridges over fast-moving water.

Personal Safety

  • If you must go to a community or group shelter remember to follow the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for protecting yourself and family from COVID-19.
  • Be prepared to take cleaning items with you like soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, or general household cleaning supplies to disinfect surfaces you may need to touch regularly.
  • Maintain at least 6 feet between you and persons not part of your immediate family while at the shelter [by avoiding crowds or gathering in groups] as much as possible. 
  • Anyone over 2 years old should use a cloth face covering while at these facilities.
  • Only use generators outdoors and away from windows.

Returning Home After a Hurricane

  • Listen to local officials for information and special instructions.
  • Be careful during clean-up. Wear protective clothing and work with someone else.
  • Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water. If it is safe to do so, turn off electricity at the main breaker or fuse box to prevent electric shock.
  • Avoid wading in flood water, which can contain dangerous debris. Underground or downed power lines can also electrically charge the water.
  • Save phone calls for emergencies. Phone systems are often down or busy after a disaster. Use text messages or social media to communicate with family and friends.
  • Document any property damage with photographs. Contact your insurance company for 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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Mold Remediation: Dangers in the Ducts

2/26/2020 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.randrmagonline.com/ Mold remediation is a serious subject, covered at large by professionals and institutions that specialize on the subject matter. While we're not mold experts, we do know air duct cleaning and how important it is to complete an HVAC Duct Cleaning after any mold, mildew, or fire restoration. The HVAC system of a building, residential or commercial, is designed to convey the dirty undesirable air from the living space and replace it with clean, heated or cooled, conditioned air that is pleasant to breathe and comfortable to building occupants. Depending on the building type and room use, many building codes call for the air in a room to be exchanged five to 15 times per hour. For HVAC systems that are clean and have adequate filtration, every exchange of air generally means the indoor air quality is improving. However, when mold, mildew, soot, allergens, and other contaminants are present, in the HVAC system, the IAQ is reduced with every air exchange. Proper source removal HVAC air duct cleaning, following any restoration project, will reduce the contaminants within the HVAC system and in some cases completely remove the chances of recontamination. It sometimes is overlooked that while a building itself is being remediated, the HVAC system is still in operation and therefore moving mold spores, smoke particles, and other contaminants throughout the return and supply air duct, as well as other HVAC system components. Because the HVAC system is redistributing the air throughout the building, a small about of dirty/contaminated air has the potential to recreate the need for an entire restoration project in as little as a few days.   Source removal, the practice of cleaning by removing contaminants the HVAC system, is the method prescribed within the NADCA (National Air Duct Cleaners Assocaiton) Standard, ACR-2013. Source removal can be achieved in a variety of ways, but is most often achieved by using a negative air vacuum/collector, rotating duct brushes, and compressed air whips/skippers to loosen debris from the duct walls allowing the airflow from the vacuum/collector to evacuate it from the HVAC system. The methods for a proper professional HVAC Air Duct Cleaning have been continually developed and refined for 30 years by working professionals engaged with NADCA and other IAQ associations.

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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UNDERSTANDING WATER TYPES

12/27/2019 (Permalink)

When your home or business suffers a water damage, understanding what type of water you are dealing with is critical to ensuring proper cleanup.  There are three types of water.

Clean water is water from a broken pipe, or other water source; rainwater is also considered clean.

The term gray water is used to classify slightly contaminated water. Clean water becomes gray water when it is left untreated allowing bacteria and other contaminants to begin growing, making the water hazardous.

Black water is highly contaminated and filled with fungi, bacteria, chemicals and more. Black water is typically caused by sewage damage, flooding or any type of natural disaster. Black water should always be handled by trained professionals.

Consider taking the following precautions to help minimize damage or prevent further damage while waiting for help to arrive.

Damage from Clean Water

  • Shut off the water source if possible or contact a qualified professional to do so.
  • Turn off circuit breakers for wet areas of the building if access to the power distribution panel is safe from potential electrical shock. Do not enter rooms with standing water, as electrical shock hazards may exist.
  • 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 to allow more even drying.
  • Move any paintings, art objects, computers, documents and other valuable items that may be sensitive to moisture to a safe place.
  • Do not leave books, newspapers, magazines or other colored items on wet carpets or floors as they may cause staining. 
  • Do not use your household vacuum cleaner to remove water as there is potential for electrical shock or causing damage to the vacuum cleaner. 
  • Do not turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet; do not enter rooms where ceilings are sagging from retained water.

Damage from Contaminated Water

  • Avoid all contact with sewage and items contaminated by sewage. Wash your hands thoroughly if you come in contact with contaminated items. 
  • Do not walk through contaminated areas, as you could spread damage to unaffected areas.
  • Do not turn on the HVAC system if there is a possibility of spreading contaminated air.
  • Do not use household fans to dry the structure; air flow could spread contaminants.
  • Discard any food and/or products for personal hygiene and cleanliness if exposed to the contaminated areas.

When you have a water damage, don’t leave your property to chance. 

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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Understanding Mold is the Basis to Prevent Mold

10/4/2019 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.randrmagonline.com

Mold is not a plant and not an animal. Mold is a fungi with its own unique life-style, starting from a tiny microorganism called spore. Not all fungi are as unwanted as mold. Some are great decomposers, where decomposition is wanted. Antibiotics such as Penicillin are fungi, their development is a blessing for people. Even in our food we welcome the distinctive taste of yeast-fungi when brewing or baking.

Mold in buildings is un-welcome, it presents a danger for the building and for the people living in the building.

Mold starts from spores.  Spores have been around for centuries, our environment is contaminated with spores. That’s why mold can develop everywhere under the right conditions, even though nobody put “mold seeds” out.

Let’s take a look at how mold grows: A tiny spore is dormant somewhere, waiting sometimes for years for the right conditions. If the right conditions occur (see below), a spore will develop into a new organism.

The new organism develops into mold by penetrating through and under the surface into the substrate looking for food and growing an ever-extending web along the surface as far as favorable conditions exist. From this web tiny extensions grow vertically up. The ends swell and new spores are produced. When the spores are ready, they are air borne by the millions and dispersed into the surrounding air. The slightest drift can carry the spores far away in a short time, where they will, if conditions allow start a new colony.

Four ingredients have to be present for mold to grow: food, water, air and moderate temperatures.

First red flag:  Food: Contrary to green plants, the food source for mold is carbon, extracted from the material the mold lives on. As mold extracts carbon, it destroys carbon-containing substances: organic materials such as wood, wood-based products as well as plastics made from petroleum products, paint, etc. as well as building materials such as concrete and sheetrock. Mold infestations can have catastrophic consequences by weakening or destroying structural elements in buildings.

Second red flag:  The destruction of materials is not all. While digesting its food, mold releases toxics into the air, which can present a health hazard to humans.

Third red flag: One mold colony can grow countless spores sent into the air and inhaled by people living in mold infested areas. Mold can be a health hazard, depending on the type of fungi very serious health problems have occurred. Plus, the smell is revolting.

As mentioned before, in addition to food, the fungus needs water, air and moderate temperature.

In order to absorb food and grow, mold needs a certain moisture in the materials it likes to eat. Not too much and not too little. The fungi will not grow, if submerged in water, the fungi also cannot grow on dry materials. The moisture has to be a moisture content equivalent of 80% relative humidity to 99%, but not standing water. Example, if the relative humidity is 80% and the temperature is at 700F, the equivalent wood moisture content is 16%, which is considered a threshold for mold concerning wood.

And last not least mold will not grow, when it is very hot or very cold.

Summary: Spores are everywhere, ready to develop into mold. Mold needs food which is a main substance of all building materials. Humidity in air and moisture content of the substrate the mold grows on, are critical and have to be in a range from 80%-99%  and Wood moisture equivalent of 16% and above. And, the climate has to be moderate. Considering all these factors individually, we can really only control the air humidity and the moisture content to reduce the danger of mold growth.

If all is well, we live in dry buildings, kept at a comfortable relative humidity and temperature. Mold cannot develop, because the building is dry, the food source is inaccessible for mold and its spores.

This all changes, when a pipe brakes, a roof leaks or a flood occurs. There is a time slot of 24 hours to a few days, when something can be done before the mold gets a foothold. Restoration specialists should be called to assess the problem, dry out or remove the materials, which have gotten too wet.

To assess the damage, the moisture content in the affected parts needs to be measured and the relative humidity needs to be kept under control. Lignomat is a company offering equipment for measuring moisture content and relative humidity. We have developed easy to use effective moisture meters with hand probes to assess water damage. The same equipment will tell you, when repairs are done and later if a leak exists. We also offer a very simple monitoring device for hard-to-reach areas.

The cable-probe system has been proven helpful to monitor inaccessible areas during drying and later-on for leak detection.

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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Mold Prevention and Remediation in HVAC Systems

9/3/2019 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.randrmagonline.com

Mold is a common issue in building interiors with poor humidity control, and the US Environmental Protection Agency recommends professional remediation when a mold patch exceeds 10 square feet. Mold is detrimental for indoor air quality, producing an unpleasant musty odor and causing allergic reactions. Mold can also damage porous objects such as carpets and furniture, forcing building owners to replace them.

When a you have a mold infestation, it is important to point out that humidity control is the only permanent solution, and ASHRAE recommends keeping relative humidity below 60 percent. Mold spores are extremely resilient and nearly impossible to eliminate completely, which means that mold will simply grow back if the humidity problem is not addressed.

Mold infestations that affect HVAC installations require urgent attention, since their spores can spread more easily through indoor spaces. Mold can spread very quickly if left unattended in a moist environment.

Importance of Adequate Mold Detection

Mold remediation can be a challenging task when it affects HVAC components such as ductwork and air handlers. Before proceeding, it is important to ensure that the client actually has mold issues, since dirt accumulation can sometimes seem like mold. The first step should be an adequate inspection and mold testing.

Once the presence of mold has been verified, it is important to determine which affected components can be cleaned and which must be discarded and replaced. Consider the case of mold in ductwork:

  • Porous components such as insulation and fiberglass ducts must normally be replaced when they are affected by mold.
  • Metallic ducts and other non-porous components are less susceptible to mold and can be reused with proper cleaning.

When professional mold remediation services are required, the scope of work must be clearly discussed. For instance, the contractor should explain the US EPA guidelines for containment: Limited containment for mold patches between 10 and 100 square feet, and full containment when the affected area exceeds 100 square feet.

Clients should also be made aware of the health risks associated with mold, which are often underestimated. Contractors must explain that the containment area can only be accessed by authorized personnel with adequate protection equipment, and that it will be kept under negative pressure to keep spores from spreading.

The Importance of Humidity Control

Even with the best professional remediation services, mold can become a recurrent issue if humidity is not controlled properly. Oversized air conditioning equipment is a common cause of high humidity: since there is excessive cooling capacity, the air conditioning system operates in short cycles that don’t remove moisture effectively. If humidity remains an issue with a properly sized HVAC system, additional dehumidification may be required.

Before carrying out mold remediation, you must be aware that mold regrowth does not mean that the service was deficient. As previously mentioned, mold spores are highly resilient and can spread easily through the air. While eliminating mold patches is possible, getting rid of all the spores in an affected building is unfeasible. However, spores can be killed with humidity control, preventing regrowth.

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 FLOOD SMART

8/7/2019 (Permalink)

Floods are one of the most common and widespread natural disasters in the United States. Whether your home or business is near a coastline, along city streets, in the mountains, near a river or even in the desert-there is always potential for flood damage. Floodsmart.gov reports, in the last five years, all 50 states have experienced floods or flash floods.

According to the American Red Cross (ARC), floods cause more damage in the U.S. every year than any other weather-related disaster. The ARC offers the following flood safety tips.

  • Stay away from floodwaters. If you come up on 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 approach 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.

If a flood does strike your home or business, contact SERVPRO®. Even minor floods have the potential to cause major damage to a structure when not treated quickly and properly, and the cleanup is often an overwhelming task. The SERVPRO® System is prepared to handle any size disaster. When fire and water take control of your life, SERVPRO®.

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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Flood Insurance

7/20/2019 (Permalink)

Source:https://www.randrmagonline.com

The next disaster is imminent. It always is. That might be a Debbie Downer attitude, but it’s the truth, especially when you think about disaster on a more local scale. While a hurricane can impact a dozen states and trigger an emergency declaration by the president, there are a lot of small communities that face their own disasters much more frequently, like northern New Jersey.

It doesn't need to be a hurricane condition to cause community level flooding.  As in years past, our local rivers have crested and move to flood stage when constant heavy rains hit the area.

In some cases, that meant flooding homes in its path. Localized flooding like this is relatively commonplace around the U.S. While it might not earn a federal disaster declaration, it sure feels like a disaster to the local community that is impacted. It can take weeks for the water to recede, and even longer to clean up and restore properties.

Flood Stages & Flood Insurance

You can easily track the rise and fall of local rivers on water.weather.gov. It will give you an idea of flood season in your region and what specific areas will flood depending on river levels. 

It is data like this that plays a role in whether or not property owners in that area qualify for flood insurance. In some high-risk areas, people with federally-backed mortgages can be required to carry flood insurance.

However, according to FEMA, about 20 percent of all the National Flood Insurance Program flood insurance claims come from people outside mapped high-risk areas. Plus, about a third of the people filing claims end up receiving Federal Disaster Assistance during the cleanup process. Don’t be fooled by that phrase, however. Federal Disaster Assistance usually comes in the form of a loan from the government that must be paid back, with interest. Some homeowners who call you for help may be unaware that their homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover flood damage.

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 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.

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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.”

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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.

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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)

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.

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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.??

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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.

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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)

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)

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)

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)

    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?