Recent Posts

Fire Prevention Tips

10/22/2020 (Permalink)

October brings us fire prevention week.  With that, we at SERVPRO, wanted to take a moment to remind you of a few things to keep an eye on to prevent fires this fall and into the winter. 

  • Watch your cooking
    Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you must leave, even for a short time, turn off the stove.
  • Give space heaters space
    Keep fixed and portable space heaters at least three feet from anything that can burn. Turn off heaters when you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Smoke outside
    Ask smokers to smoke outside. Have sturdy, deep ashtrays for smokers.
  • Keep matches and lighters out of reach
    Keep matches and lighters up high, out of the reach of children, preferably in a cabinet with a child lock.
  • Inspect electrical cords
    Replace cords that are cracked, damaged, have broken plugs, or have loose connections.
  • Be careful when using candles
    Keep candles at least one foot from anything that can burn. Blow out candles when you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Have a home fire escape plan
    Make a home fire escape plan and practice it at least twice a year.
  • Install smoke alarms
    Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Interconnect smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Test smoke alarms
    Test smoke alarms at least once a month and replace batteries once a year or when the alarm “chirps” to tell you the battery is low. Replace any smoke alarm that is more than 10 years old.
  • Install sprinklers
    If you are building or remodeling your home, install residential fire sprinklers. Sprinklers can contain and may even extinguish a fire in less time than it would take the fire department to arrive.

Candle Safety

10/22/2020 (Permalink)

A series of candles. There’s something about the flickering glow and scent of candles that keeps us buying more.

There’s something about the flickering glow and scent of candles that keeps us buying more.

Unfortunately, lit candle use is also the cause of many preventable home fires. FEMA estimates that there are more than 15,000 home candle fires every year, many resulting in injury or even death. More than half of these fires start because the candles are too close to combustible materials, which is something that can be easily preventable.

Here are a few candle safety tips to review before you light your next candle:

1. Burning candles should never be left unattended.

2. Keep candles away from anything flammable.

3. If your candle is in a candle holder, it should be sturdy enough to avoid being easily knocked over.

4. Candles should be placed where children and pets can’t reach them.

5. The National Candle Association recommends that candlewicks be trimmed to ¼ inch each time before burning. Long wicks can cause uneven burning and dripping.

6. Keep the pool of wax in the candle clear of debris such as wick trimmings.

7. Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for candle use. Most candles should be burned for only a couple of hours at a time.

8. Extinguish candles with a candle snuffer rather than blowing them out, as hot wax can splatter.

Keeping Your Basement Dry

10/8/2020 (Permalink)

Water damage in a basement During the wet months of the year we run across homes that have had multiple water events in the basement over the years.

During the wet months of the year we run across homes that have had multiple water events in the basement over the years.  These homeowners have redone landscaping, put up new gutters and downspouts and, still have water, in the basement.  What else can a homeowner do?  The can look into drain tile options:

What is Drain Tile?

Chances are, if your home has a basement and has experienced flooding, someone has told you to get drain tile. But what is drain tile and how does it help?

Essentially drain tile is a way to protect your home from groundwater flooding. It redirects water away from your home before it can enter and cause damage. It is one of those things you never need – until you do! Increased run off from urban expansion and more frequent severe weather systems make our homes more likely to flood. Investing in a drain tile system could save you from lengthy insurance claims and expensive cleanups in the future.

 How Drain Tile Works

Despite its name, drain tile is actually not tile at all. When used in the construction industry it actually refers to drainage piping. Drain tile is a system of subterranean drainage laid around the footings of a building. Water always chooses the path of least resistance so drain tile offers the easiest path. The pipe used for drain tile is porous so water finds its way into the pipe system rather than your home. Water is then directed away from your home using gravity or an electric sump pump. Once in the pipe the system directs the water to a dry well or releases it above ground to run off into a storm drain or sewage system.

Why SERVPRO Offers Post Construction Cleaning

10/8/2020 (Permalink)

Cleaning a floor from construction dust The biggest mistake a janitorial service provider or a client can make is to assume post construction cleaning is like other cleaning.

The biggest mistake a janitorial service provider or a client can make is to assume post construction cleaning is like other cleaning. If you like surprises, you will love post construction cleaning. Post construction is a lot like remodeling, you never know what to expect until you get started. You have to be ready for every eventuality. So what makes post construction so unique?

We Don’t Have the Luxury of Time
When we clean after construction we go in after everyone else is done (translated, we clean up the other trades’ messes) and we have to make the building look like ‘new’, even if it isn’t. This is not as easy as it sounds for reasons we will discuss in a moment. The new tenant is expecting a clean, move in ready space and the building management company is looking at us to deliver. The challenge is that the janitorial service providers are the last trade in the building, which means the original schedule is meaningless and we are under the gun to meet the deadline. It’s not like when you are cleaning on a regular recurring schedule because you can ‘fix’ mistakes and take care of things you may have missed the next time you go to clean. Post construction cleaning does not have that flexibility.

We Are Operating on the Tenants’ Schedule
By the time we get started with our service the building management has leased the building to a tenant who has a time line and it cannot be moved. This is like the first point but it bears further attention. The client determines when we will clean whether it is convenient or not. To handle post construction cleaning well you have to be flexible and able to adapt to changes all on some other persons time table.

Uncommon Surfaces Are Normal
Normal day in and day out janitorial service is fairly straight forward and the areas we clean are not all that unusual (although there are those times). On a normal basis janitorial service providers are not tasked to wipe down and clean 20′ transoms or walls. We normally don’t clean inside cabinets once the tenant occupies the space. We don’t normally remove factory glued stickers from windows, appliances or fixtures. But all of these surfaces must be cleaned in post construction and it must look like new when you’re done. Post construction cleaning requires a broader knowledge of tools and techniques to be successful.

We Clean Substances Left By Construction That We Will Not Encounter During Daily Cleaning
When other trades are doing their work they will often leave behind ‘mystery substances’. Sometimes it is a glue or a sealant or… well, you get the idea. The problem is if it is on a wall or a floor or a window we are tasked to remove it even when we might not know what it is. To do well in post construction cleaning you have to have an understanding of what the other trades are using so that you can clean it up. You need to be prepared to address any stain or mark or ugly glob you find. The tools and knowledge required for this go well beyond your average cleaning.

Other Trades Are Continuing to Work While We Are Trying to Detail the Building
This is what the last guy in has to face. Everyone else has a deadline just like us but our challenge is doing our job while others continue to make messes and undo what we just did. It’s frustrating to go through a building only to get a call back to clean up a paint spill or sheet rock dust that wasn’t there yesterday. If you don’t learn to deal with it you won’t do well at post construction cleaning. It’s just the nature of what we do.

3 Mistakes to Avoid During a Workplace Fire

10/1/2020 (Permalink)

A burning hallway Making sure fire extinguishers are accessible and smoke alarms are maintained are crucial steps to take as an employer.

Making sure fire extinguishers are accessible and smoke alarms are maintained are crucial steps to take as an employer. If a fire does erupt in your workplace, it’s natural for people to panic. Unfortunately, this can lead to common mistakes that aggravate the situation. To ensure everyone makes it out of the building safely during an emergency, here are a few safety guidelines to remind your staff of during fire training.

What Not to Do During a Workplace Fire

  1. Break Windows

Smoke inhalation is a threat to those inside the building. In an effort to access fresh air, some people might open windows or break the glass. However, when oxygenated air from outside rushes in, the intensity of the fire will build more quickly.

As smoke and heat rise, everyone should stay close to the ground and crawl to the exits to avoid fumes. If exits are blocked, put wet towels under the doors to keep out the smoke instead of opening windows.

  1. Fail to Use Emergency Exits

fire extinguishers. When a fire starts, people might try to evacuate the building the same way they got in. However, you shouldn’t open any doors leading to the main corridors, especially if the handles are warm to the touch. Flames could be on the other side of these, and opening them could feed more oxygen to the fire and expose people to smoke.

To keep the fire from spreading, instruct your staff to use only emergency exit doors, stairwells, and fire escapes.

  1. Forget to Alert Others

When they hear the fire alarm protection system, some people may think it’s just a test. If they don’t smell smoke or feel the heat, they might fail to take action.

To protect everyone in the workplace, people who see the flames or smoke should yell “fire” to alert others that it is not a drill. Those trained to use fire extinguishers can try to control the blaze while others call emergency services for help. If anyone in the workplace has mobility difficulties, assign someone to ensure they can get out safely during your safety plan design.

To ensure your staff is prepared for any emergency situation, reach out to SERVPRO of The Saint Croix Valley. We have been helping many commercial customers set up Emergency Ready Plans and have been in the St Croix Valley for over 10 years. Call 715-381-2266 for your free commercial ERP today.

It’s National Preparedness Month: Make a plan

9/4/2020 (Permalink)

National Disaster Prep Month Logo Extreme weather and natural disasters can occur with little warning.

Extreme weather and natural disasters can occur with little warning. This year’s floods and wildfires are proof of that. Are you ready to leave your home at a moment’s notice? You can reduce your anxiety about these scary events by making sure you are prepared if and when they happen. September is National Preparedness Month and a good time to get your family, pets, and property ready. You can, for example:

  • Organize your finances. When it comes to preparing for situations like weather emergencies, financial readiness is as important as a flashlight with fully charged batteries. Having your financial documents up-to-date, in one place, and portable can make a big difference at a tense time.
  • Replace missing documents. If you’re missing important documents, now’s the time to replace them.
  • Check your insurance. Find out if any of your home, health, or other insurance policies will pay for temporary shelter, replacement clothing, furniture, or other items if you are affected by extreme weather or a disaster.
  • Prepare your home. From floods to fires, earthquakes, high winds and tornadoes, check out The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) How-To Series: Protect Your Home or Business. If you live where storms and flooding are likely, visit floodsmart.gov to learn about FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program.
  • Plan for your pets. If you’re like millions of animal owners nationwide, your pet is an important member of your household. A little planning today can help ensure safety for your pets during an emergency.
  • Sign up for alerts and warnings in your area. Public safety officials use timely and reliable systems to alert you and your family in the event of severe weather and disasters.

Please follow our page, as we continue to explore the benefits of mitigation, and how this approach helps both your clients and your business. Please call us with any questions you have, 715-381-2266. Visit our site: SERVPRO of The Saint Croix Valley https://www.SERVPROthesaintcroixvalley.com/

6 Steps to a Professional Kitchen Hood Cleaning

9/1/2020 (Permalink)

A cleaned kitchen Regular cleanings of restaurant kitchen hood vents are an essential part of any fire safety maintenance plan.

Regular cleanings of restaurant kitchen hood vents are an essential part of any fire safety maintenance plan. Without regular attention, oil and other debris can build up in the hood, exhaust fan, filters and ductwork, significantly increasing the chances of a grease fire. Undergoing a hood cleaning twice a year will help you meet the National Fire Protection Agency’s (NFPA) standards for reducing the risk of fire. This process typically takes between three and six hours. To help you prepare for your upcoming appointment, here’s a guide to what to expect during this procedure.

What Happens During a Professional Hood Cleaning?

  1. Kitchen Prep

Hood cleaning may create a mess, so the cleaning company will begin by prepping the kitchen for the process. This includes turning off pilot lights and gas valves, covering appliances, and removing any items that could potentially get contaminated by the cleaning chemicals and dirty water. The cleaning crew will also remove all filters and disassemble any wall-mounted hoods and fans for cleaning.

  1. Filter Cleaning

Kitchen exhaust filters often become caked in grease and grime. The hood cleaning process involves removing the filters and soaking them in a cleaning solution to loosen the hardened grease. After several hours, the filters are power-washed and then reinstalled.

  1. Fan Cleaning

Kitchen exhaust fans are another place where grease builds up. Fire safety maintenance requires the fans to be removed for a thorough cleaning from top to bottom to reduce hidden hazards. The crew will spray the fan with degreasing chemicals and then scrub the blades clean by hand and power washing. Before the fans are reinstalled, the entire system is inspected and the fan belts replaced to ensure it’s in working order.

  1. Vent & Ductwork Inspection

NFPA guidelines require that all exhaust duct systems be cleaned and degreased regularly, so a thorough hood cleaning includes manually scraping any solidified grease from the vents and ducts before spraying on chemicals to dissolve the remaining grease. After a final scrub, the vents and ductwork are inspected to ensure they comply with NFPA rules.

  1. Power Washing

Once the fans, vents, and filters are clean, the crew will tackle the kitchen hoods themselves. This begins with manually scraping congealed grease from the hood, and then applying a degreasing cleaning chemical to loosen any remaining residue. After 30 to 60 minutes, the cleaners’ power-wash the hood with hot water, leaving it clean and free of grease that could start a fire.

  1. Inspection & Documentation

The final step of the process happens once the crew has restored the kitchen to its prior condition. This is when the process will be documented and your technician will apply a certification sticker to the unit. This tells health inspectors and insurance companies that you are in compliance NFPA guidelines and have worked with licensed fire protection services to ensure the safety of your kitchen.

Facts About Mold

9/1/2020 (Permalink)

Wall covered in mold. For more than a decade, mold has been in the news.

For more than a decade, mold has been in the news. People are talking about the effect on population health and damage to the building. But what are the risks and issues?

The term “mold” is a colloquial term for a group of filamentous fungi that are common on food or wet materials. This includes the green Penicillium species that produces penicillin, and fungi that spoil our bread, fruit, cheese and crops. Most of these are Ascomycetes that produce a lot of spores.

The majority of the molds that grow on damp building materials are found in the soil and are adapted to grow on a wide variety of materials. Outdoors, molds live in the soil, on plants, and on dead or decaying matter. There are thousands of species of mold and they can be any color. Different mold species are adapted to different moisture conditions ranging from very wet to just damp. Many times, mold can be detected by a musty odor. Live spores act like seeds, forming new mold growths (colonies) under the right conditions. All of us are exposed to a variety of fungal spores daily in the air we breathe, both outdoors and indoors.

How mold gets into a house or building

Mold and fungal spores occur naturally outdoors, where fungi are the earth’s most important recyclers. Indoors, mold needs moisture to grow; it becomes a problem only where there is water damage, elevated and prolonged humidity, or dampness. Common sources of excessive indoor moisture that can lead to mold problems include:

  • flooding from surface waters (i.e., overflowing rivers) or from severe storms;
  • roof leaks from damaged or missing roofing materials, ice dams or blocked gutters;
  • storm-driven rain through window frames, exterior walls or door assemblies;
  • leaking pipes, sewer back-ups or overflows;
  • damp basements or crawl spaces due to a high-water table or poorly managed rainwater drainage; and
  • condensation on cold surfaces.

How to prevent mold growth

The key to preventing and stopping indoor mold growth is to control excessive moisture and condensation. Keeping susceptible areas in the home clean and dry is critical. In general, mold will not grow indoors without water, dampness or excessive moisture.

Three main factors contribute to condensation of water on building surfaces:

  • Relative Humidity: Condensation occurs when the air is saturated with water and it cannot hold any more moisture. For example, steam generated from bathroom showers or from cooking can fill up the air with moisture, which will then condense into drops of water on cooler surfaces, such as mirrors and windows. Where possible, localized sources of humidity, such as clothes dryers, should be directly vented to the outdoors. To lower indoor humidity during warm, humid weather, air conditioners and/or dehumidifiers should be used. In chronically damp areas such as basements or crawlspaces, it is often recommended that dehumidifiers be used to maintain humidity levels below 60 percent.
  • Temperature: Warm air holds more moisture than cold air. Condensation occurs when warm humid air comes into contact with a cold surface and the moisture condenses into water. This can often be seen on single-pane windows, where water condenses and then runs down, causing the wood frames and sills to rot and the wall under the windows to blister. Condensation can occur on exterior walls, particularly north-facing walls, if they are not properly insulated. Other chronically cold surfaces, such as cold-water pipes, should be covered with insulation to help prevent condensation.
  • Poor Ventilation: Indoor humidity can build up if there is not enough ventilation and exchange of indoor and outdoor air. Where there is little or no air movement, such as behind dressers and cabinets, surfaces can remain cooler than surrounding areas, which can lead to increased condensation and mold growth. It is recommended that the area be ventilated and the occupants use exhaust fans (vented to the outdoors) to remove moisture from high-humidity areas, particularly in bathrooms, kitchens and laundry areas. Furniture should be moved slightly away from walls so that air can freely pass behind it. Air should be allowed to circulate between rooms and regularly ventilate to remove humid air. Fans should be used as needed.

Other things that can be done are to clean and repair gutters regularly, make sure the ground slopes down and away from the home’s foundation and keep air conditioner drip pans and drain lines clean. In addition, in air-conditioned buildings in hot and humid climates, vinyl wall coverings on the interior sides of exterior walls should not be used, as these materials can trap moisture, resulting in mold growth underneath them.

In the case of floods or leaking pipes, any standing water should be promptly removed and water-damaged materials should either be dried out and cleaned, or removed and replaced. Porous materials that are wet for more than 48 hours are likely to produce mold growth and should be discarded. In instances where the water damage is extensive, it is recommended that professional help, such as a commercial restoration company, be consulted.

Common Causes of Mold

8/18/2020 (Permalink)

Mold covered wall Mold can pop up anywhere that meets it's conditions.

Mold can grow just about anywhere but is most commonly found in areas such as bathrooms, kitchens, basements, cabinets, and near pipes or ducting areas. It only needs a few elements to grow and proliferate throughout your home, the key element being moisture.

Mold behind drywall may be one of the most common household problem areas as drywall, wood, and cotton are ideal food sources.

Ceiling mold is also highly common due to a lack of ventilation and accumulation of moisture.

If the temperature is right, there is a moisture source and enough oxygen, you can be sure mold will begin to grow and spread.

Here are 6 of the most common causes of mold in your home:

  1. Persistent Humidity

If you live in an area where humidity is consistently high, you may have a problem with mold. This is only natural due to the high moisture content in the air.

  1. Leaking Pipes in the Home

This is one of the most common causes of mold behind drywall and in under-sink cupboards.

  1. A Leaking Roof

A roof which is partially damaged due to wear and tear or severe weather conditions can quickly lead to mold build-up in your home.

  1. A Build-Up of Condensation

During the winter time, some homes may experience a build-up of condensation on cold surfaces due to the fluctuations in temperature.

  1. A Damp Basement

Due to the fact that they are below ground level, it’s only natural that a basement is exposed to higher levels of moisture.

  1. Home Flooding

Unfortunately, one of the realities you’ll face after you experience the drama of home flooding is mold growth.

Please follow our page, as we continue to explore the benefits of mitigation, and how this approach helps both your clients and your business. Please call us with any questions you have, 715-381-2266. Visit our site: SERVPRO of The Saint Croix Valley

Stay Cool

8/11/2020 (Permalink)

A dog in ice Minding the heat is everyone's responsibility.

Tips for Preventing Heat-Related Illness (original source cdc.gov

Wear Appropriate Clothing: Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

Stay Cool Indoors: Stay in an air-conditioned place as much as possible. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library—even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. Call your local health department to see if there are any heat-relief shelters in your area.

  • Keep in mind: Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, they will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off. Use your stove and oven less to maintain a cooler temperature in your home.

Schedule Outdoor Activities Carefully: Try to limit your outdoor activity to when it’s coolest, like morning and evening hours. Rest often in shady areas so that your body has a chance to recover.

Pace Yourself: Cut down on exercise during the heat. If you’re not accustomed to working or exercising in a hot environment, start slowly and pick up the pace gradually. If exertion in the heat makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for breath, STOP all activity. Get into a cool area or into the shade, and rest, especially if you become lightheaded, confused, weak, or faint.

Wear Sunscreen: Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool down and can make you dehydrated. If you must go outdoors, protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes prior to going out. Continue to reapply it according to the package directions.

  • Tip:Look for sunscreens that say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels- these products work best.

Do Not Leave Children in Cars: Cars can quickly heat up to dangerous temperatures, even with a window cracked open. While anyone left in a parked car is at risk, children are especially at risk of getting a heat stroke or dying. When traveling with children, remember to do the following:

  • Never leave infants, children or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open.
  • To remind yourself that a child is in the car, keep a stuffed animal in the car seat. When the child is buckled in, place the stuffed animal in the front with the driver.
  • When leaving your car, check to be sure everyone is out of the car. Do not overlook any children who have fallen asleep in the car.

Avoid Hot and Heavy Meals: They add heat to your body!

Stay Hydrated

Drink Plenty of Fluids: Drink more fluids, regardless of how active you are. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.

  • Warning: If your doctor limits the amount you drink or has you on water pills, ask how much you should drink while the weather is hot.
  • Stay away from very sugary or alcoholic drinks—these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.

Replace Salt and Minerals: Heavy sweating removes salt and minerals from the body that need to be replaced. A sports drink can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat.

  • If you are on a low-salt diet, have diabetes, high blood pressure, or other chronic conditions, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage or taking salt tablets.

Keep Your Pets Hydrated: Provide plenty of fresh water for your pets, and leave the water in a shady area.

Stay Informed

Check for Updates: Check your local news for extreme heat alerts and safety tips and to learn about any cooling shelters in your area.

Know the Signs: Learn the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and how to treat them.

Use a Buddy System: When working in the heat, monitor the condition of your co-workers and have someone do the same for you. Heat-induced illness can cause a person to become confused or lose consciousness. If you are 65 years of age or older, have a friend or relative call to check on you twice a day during a heat wave. If you know someone in this age group, check on them at least twice a day.

Monitor Those at High Risk: Although anyone at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others:

  • Infants and young children
  • People 65 years of age or older
  • People who are overweight
  • People who overexert during work or exercise
  • People who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure, or who take certain medications, such as for depression, insomnia, or poor circulation

Visit adults at risk at least twice a day and closely watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children, of course, need much more frequent watching.