Hurricane IRMA-Destruction in Central Florida
Hurricane Irma swept through Central Florida causing devastation on many levels. We were fortunate enough to not have the maximum amount of damage forecasted, but that doesn’t mean that the damage wasn’t enough to hurt.
As a restoration company, we received THOUSANDS of phone calls. In general, people know that they need to call a company like ours for help after a natural disaster like Irma. We actually received some phone calls before the storm hit, because people understood the need to be prepared. With everything going on, there are some things that go unnoticed, and as I write this, I find the need to share those things. They are important because they truly show the spirit of our company.
Before the storm hit we had a plan in place that would allow us to help as many people as possible, as fast as possible. We are a 24/7 service company for emergency service, but typically, after 5:00 in the evening and until 8:00 in the morning, we have our calls answered by a service. That way we can allow our staff time to sleep! We knew though, that we needed to have someone on staff answering the phones once the storm hit, because they would be the best ones to answer questions, offer some hope, and get people in line for service. We had two employees that agreed to do this. They tirelessly answered calls for days.
Because we are part of a national system of franchises, SERVPRO corporate called in the cavalry to assist the local franchises. Once each local office was at their limit, we could easily dispatch out one of our sister franchises. That allowed us to get someone out as soon as possible, instead of having to turn people away or wait for weeks for service. There were franchises from all over the country that came in to help, many of them even came directly from helping in Texas after Harvey.
From a business standpoint, right after a storm is a time for restoration companies to make money. What I found interesting though, was that instead of sending people out to try to secure the biggest jobs, Scott Tracy, the owner of our franchise, was busy making sure that the employee’s families were safe. He even went out and bought additional generators for those families to use so that they wouldn’t have to be without power at their home. He was busy with trying to take care of those around him.
Our office was without power for 9 days. We serviced as many people as possible by working from our General Manager’s home. Her kitchen table was turned into a mobile office. We could do almost everything we needed to in order to help our customers and get the information to our production team that they needed.
These things all add up to one big picture, our franchise is led by a team of people who CARE, not just about the bottom line of the business, but about the community and their staff. When the next storm hits, remember that a company that cares about their employees will care more about their customers too. SERVPRO is always here to help make it “Like it never even happened.”
What to Look for After the Storm is Long Gone
It’s been weeks since we had our brush with Hurricane Irma in Central Florida. How did your home do? Did you have minimal damage? Some missing shingles? Maybe some slight water intrusion from windows? Did you think that you had it all cleaned up but now you are starting to smell something funny? Here are a few things to look for that will help you decided if you have an area that needs to be investigated further by a professional.
- Musty smell-many people report this after there has been a water intrusion in their home or business. If it goes away in a couple days, then it probably isn’t a big issue. If you notice that the smell lingers, and is even a bit stronger in a specific area, this would be a cause for further investigation.
- Water marks that seem to have come out of nowhere. This could be a sign that the area you thought was dry, is actually still wet. Modern building materials can hold water in them for longer periods of time, making it harder to find right away.
- Bulging floors, buckling floors, “squishy” floors, these are all signs of a water intrusion issue. Many times, when your floor is showing those signs, there will be other areas affected also.
- Drywall that is crumbling or bulging. This can be a sign that the drywall was wet at one point, or still is, and that it needs to be checked further.
These are three simple things, but added together they can be a sign that there might be mold growth or even some areas that need proper drying. If you’ve noticed that your home or business is being affected by these or similar things, feel free to give us a call to discuss them. Our team is available to answer questions for you or schedule an inspection. You can reach us at 407-352-1569.
Central Florida, Did you know that August is Mold Awareness month?
These days it seems like there is an awareness month for just about anything. The month of August, for example celebrates this list of things also:
- Admit You’re Happy Month
- Family Fun Month
- National Catfish Month
- National Eye Exam Month
- National Golf Month
- Peach Month
- Romance Awareness Month
- Water Quality Month
- National Picnic Month
With all of these other things to celebrate or be aware of, why is mold awareness so important and who in the world thought it was important enough to need an entire month of attention each year?
Let’s start with “The Who”-The Responsible Solutions to Mold Coalition (RSMC) is responsible for declaring August Mold Awareness month each year. RSMC is a consortium of associations, companies, government and academic organizations dedicated to communicating accurate, science-based information on controlling mold. The group was launched at the International Builders’ Show in Orlando, FL in January of 2006.
“The Why”- “Our message is simple: if you control moisture, you’ll control mold,” said Frank Nunes, Vice Chairman of the organization and Executive Director of the International Institute for Lath and Plaster. “By declaring August ‘Mold Awareness Month,’ we want everyone with an interest in construction and remodeling to know that they can keep moisture out and therefore prevent the onset of mold primarily through attention to detail during the design, construction and remodeling process.”
The RSMC has a very informative web site, http://www.responsiblemoldsolutions.org. This web site is set up to so that you can access a residential or commercial building with an interactive model. By clicking on the model you can find relevant principles that will help you keep moisture out of that specific area.
For more detailed information on this topic, check out the full article about Mold Awareness Month and the RSMC at http://www.randrmagonline.com/articles/84551-responsible-solutions-to-mold-coalition-declares-august-mold-awareness-month
Fire and Smoke Restoration
The fire trucks may be gone but without proper immediate response, the real damage and the costs are just beginning. To return your residential or commercial property to its normal condition requires professional restoration. This is not the job for a do-it-yourself type of person.
For results you can have confidence in, hiring a certified restoration company would be your best bet. Restoration to a property can be complex. Proper smoke and odor removal are tasks that require technicians certified in these specific areas.
When selecting a certified restoration firm several factors must be considered:
- Formal and up-to-date specialized training
- Health and safety certifications
- Experience in a wide range of restoration projects
- Proof of proper insurance and licenses
In addition to removing residue, ridding your home of its smoky odor is necessary. Professionals use this four-step process to remove odors:
- Remove the source of the odor, as possible, including unsalvageable debris that contributes to odor generation and recontamination of cleaned and deodorized areas.
- Clean salvageable surfaces and items to physically remove odor-causing residue.
- Chase remaining odor with an odor counteract act. In the case of smoke, create a deodorizing fog or gas that seeks out and combines with odor-causing substances.
- Seal salvageable surfaces that are inaccessible or slightly scorched, not only for aesthetic purposes, but primarily to encapsulate odor and prevent progressive recontamination.
Understanding the effects of a fire can help homeowners evaluate the damage to their home. By learning more about residue clean-up and deodorization after a fire, you can minimize the need for costly repair. Fire and smoke restoration experts can help you return your home and furnishings to its normal condition. So I guess you could say it would be “Like it never even happened”.
Why Commercial Carpet Cleaning Is Essential For Floors
Thorough commercial carpet cleaning is the single best way to preserve and extend the life of carpet, but proper treatment requires careful planning and extensive training. It’s the kind of training that a professional would receive through an organization like the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), and it is essential for a professional to integrate quality practices into their own firm. But how much goes into proper commercial carpet cleaning? It starts with keeping soil and debris from entering the building to begin with. By placing entry mats in entrance and high traffic areas and maintaining the walking surfaces outside of the building, there will be less soil to deal with inside the building. Inside, frequent vacuuming is the first line of defense, and may be needed daily in areas that receive a lot of traffic. Vacuuming ensures deposited soil does not penetrate deeply into the fibers and cause damage.
Spot and stain control is essential, even if the flooring is colored in a way to make stain detection difficult. Stains will degrade the integrity of the flooring and alter its texture, so professionals will have to respond quickly to any problem areas. Formulated detergents and targeted agitation will normally do the trick. Finally, deep treatment, usually through hot water extraction or encapsulation methods, will need to be done several times a year to remove soils that have become embedded in the carpet fibers. Regular office carpet cleaning is necessary for maintaining a professional, healthy atmosphere. No one likes to work in filth, and over time, the flooring will pick up a great deal of soil and debris. If it is not regularly removed, the flooring will deteriorate at an accelerated rate, harbor odors, and look unattractive and dirty. Fortunately, certified professionals can keep the flooring nearly soil free as long as they are brought in for a thorough treatment on a regular basis.
Commercial buildings withstand a great deal of foot traffic every day, and with the foot traffic comes soil, moisture, and other debris. With entry mats near the entrances and daily vacuuming, most of this soil can be kept from penetrating into the fibers. However, it isn’t a perfect solution, and deep office carpet cleaning will be needed before long. There are several treatment methods available for commercial buildings, but most textile manufacturers agree that hot water extraction is the most effective method. During hot water extraction, a combination of superheated water and detergent is injected deep into the carpeting and then extracted once it has a chance to suspend any soil.
Make sure that before hiring a professional, you select a company that is an IICRC Certified Firm. This will ensure that the technician sent to your office is also certified. Advanced treatment methods require expertise and proper training, and certification through a respectable organization will convey this. We would love the opportunity to give you an estimate for the cleaning of your office. With over 30 years of experience in the cleaning and restoration industry, we can offer assistance in almost any situation.
Odors in Commercial Buildings, the smell of Business in Central Florida...
WHAT IS THAT SMELL? WHERE IS THAT COMING FROM? IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO WORK WITH THAT ODOR! Are you hearing things like that? Or maybe even seeing people new to your office turn up their nose when they walk in? You might have a foul odor and not even know about it. Mildew, mold, even a kitchen spill that might not have received the attention it needed-all of these things can make an office environment less than pleasant, even down-right dangerous to work in.
Mildew is a version of microbial growth, much like mold, that can cause a host of issues to your employees and your customers. Does your assistant suffer from allergies? Do you have more than a few sick calls a week? Is your office filled with items to change the way the office smells? You might be suffering from a growth issue that SERVPRO can take care of.
Kitchen odors, or break room odors as the case may be, can happen over time. Do you have appliances in your break room? A stove, refrigerator, dishwasher? In your home you may clean these area's with more frequency and attention that you might at the office.
The second sense people use after sight is smell. It is part of that first impression that is related to your customers coming into your business. How does yours stand up? Give us a call today, and let us take a look at some potential problem areas for you.
My Clothes Were Damaged By Mold in a Rarely Used Closet…Can We Save Them?
Those of us who live in Central Florida and surrounding areas like Winter Garden, Windermere, Apopka, and Lake Buena Vista know that moisture in our homes is a common issue. We try to maintain a temperature with our AC units that we can live with, that our power bill can sustain (and therefore our pocket), and that will keep that moisture down. We might find some mildew from time to time and take care of it ourselves. Or perhaps you’ve had a mold issue and have called in a professional company to take care of it for you.
What about those closets that we don’t open often? Perhaps you open the closet door looking for those golf clubs that you are finally getting around to using. Or maybe you finally have an opportunity to wear that dress that you got on clearance. Unfortunately as soon as you open the door you notice that everything in the closet seems to be discolored. Upon closer inspection you notice that it smells musty and looks like it might be mold. What can you do?
On its web site, IICRC.org, the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, Restoration, and Certification states the following:
Foremost, any garment or fabric that has not suffered physical deterioration or discoloration as a result of mold growing on it, and that is washable (typically, a minimum of 130ºF for at least 10 minutes), can be restored completely. That goes for bacterial contamination as well, as evidenced by hospitals daily as they wash linens, gowns, surgical drapes, etc.
Dry cleaning also does a good job when evaluated and cleaned - often twice - by a qualified professional. Again, this assumes no deterioration or discoloration of the garment. Ultimately, sampling and evaluation by a qualified environmental professional can be used to confirm remediation of the garment.
Our team of certified professionals here at SERVPRO are available to help you with this process anytime. Please give us a call and we would be happy to walk you through the process.
How a Water Restoration Technician Assists After Disaster
A water restoration technician has an extremely important job when a home is affected by excess moisture. Certified professionals in the industry can quickly reverse the extensive damage that a flood or sewage backflow can cause, and save as many items as possible in the process. And when dealing with contaminated water, especially when it has pooled in the home, only certified professionals should be allowed to manage the cleanup. Attempting to perform cleanup efforts without expert assistance can lead to injury or illness, both of which can be severe.
A certified water restoration technician is on call around the clock. When an entire community has been affected a major disaster we can call in multiple teams to assist. As soon as a professional is on site, they will assess the situation and determine what items need immediate rescuing. If water has pooled in areas around the home, then pumps will be used to remove it.
The home will be dried using a configuration of heavy duty air movers and dehumidifiers, and while it dries, the firm will move through the building and look for any evidence of mold or pathogen contamination. If pathogens or mold are present, they will be eliminated using special procedures. This will ensure the home is safe to return to, and with concerted drying efforts, the building will as good as new once professionals have completed their work.
Steps Toward Mold Remediation
Have you ever wondered what happens when a mold removal specialist gets called to a mold-damaged facility?
Here are five steps that a mold removal specialist takes when conducting mold remediation:
1. Determine the degree of contamination. To do so, a mold remediation specialist may need to bring in an Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) 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 may collect and analyze samples from affected and unaffected areas of the building. Once the IEP has finished the inspection, they will develop a remediation plan for the mold removal specialist with steps to return the home and/or business to its preloss condition.
2. Set up and verify containment. To make sure mold contamination does not spread to other areas of a facility, the mold remediation specialist will set up containment by creating isolation barriers. Once the barriers are established, the specialist will verify containment with a lower partial pressure differential (negative pressure) to ensure there is no air leakage between containment zones. Exit chambers are 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 specialist to wear the appropriate personal protective equipment which may include a full face respirator equipped with a P100/OV cartridge, disposable coveralls and nitrile gloves.
4. Clean surfaces with a high-attention to detail. A mold remediation specialist 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. He or she 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 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 may perform surface or air sampling as part of the verification that the area is back to normal fungal ecology.
“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.”
What to do when you have a sewage leak!
It’s late at night. The rain has been coming down for what seems like hours. Your toilet is flushed as lightning splits the sky, and suddenly you have sewage backing up in your home, onto your carpet, under your floors. This is not a dream….This is a NIGHTMARE! This is actually a reality for some. Half awake, dealing with an emergency what are you going to do? What can we salvage? What is safe to touch? First thing is first, sewage can be very dangerous. The most common negative factor in sewage is hepatitis B. This little thing can remain outside a living body for up to 50 days and cause a host of health issues. So the cleaning of your home or office must be done right, and done fast.
There are many items that can be cleaned by a professional from a sewage loss. Here is a Short list of what cannot be saved:
Some Electronics – Depending on the type and how far the contamination went down into the item will come into play. You cannot wipe off just the outside and say it is good to go. If sewage comes in contact with a power cord or a small transfer box it should be replaced. If the item is not replaced the contamination will fester inside and could cause a major fire hazard. This is a very serious issue that should be handled by a professional.
Soft Goods/Certain Textiles – Some can be cleaned depending on the material make, age and contamination level. Certain items like pillows or stuffed animals will need to be dissembled, filling removed, exterior cleaned and put back together with clean materials.
Engineered Wood/ Press wood - Any wood item that has been modified where contamination has come in contact with an unfinished surface cannot be cleaned. This is due to the many cavities that pressboard and engineered wood have. Natural/Solid wood can be treated and sanded to remove the affected areas, then re-stained to match existing colors.
Carpet/Pad – If at any time there was sewage that soaked through to the carpet or pad, the area must be removed! There is no way to guarantee that the carpet and pad are fully decontaminated.
If there are any questions, Please call your local SERVPRO and we will help.