6 Steps to a Professional Kitchen Hood Cleaning
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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
If your restaurant kitchen hood needs cleaning, call SERVPRO of The Saint Croix Valley at 715-381-2266. Our trained professionals can help many of your professional cleaning and mitigation needs.
Facts About Mold
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 available science on molds and their potential health effects remains under study, but considerable progress has been made. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Institute of Medicine of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the World Health Organization and Health Canada all agree that living or working in a building with mold damage results in increased risk of respiratory disease. Although there are several guidance documents available, there are no accepted national or international standards for mold investigation, evaluation or remediation. AIHA, however, has worked to translate the advice from the previously mentioned government agencies into state-of-the-art inspection and sampling protocols, such as AIHA’s Recogni?tion, Evaluation and Control of Indoor Mold? book, also known as the Green Book. If properly used, these methods are suitable for assessing hidden contamination and directing essential visual inspections. For health outcomes, there are no available exposure assessment methods that can provide useful information for individuals. This is primarily due to the fact that each person’s response to mold exposure is unique.
The scientific complexities surrounding this issue would be a huge challenge but the truth is that other, less scientific, difficulties dwarf them. Media attention on this topic often creates emotionally charged circumstances, making scientific and professional judgment, as well as reasoned dialogue on this subject, very difficult. In some instances, building owners have been known to ignore or dismiss potentially serious problems. Many indoor air quality (IAQ) problems have nothing to do with mold, and buildings seldom have only one indoor environmental quality problem. It is essential to consider multiple sources of building IAQ problems instead of focusing on just mold concerns. In other instances, building occupants or public officials armed with mold sampling reports of dubious quality have reacted with alarm to potential threats, making risk communication very difficult.
Public and occupational health practice is rarely an exact science. Prevention always poses the challenge of making tough and often costly decisions with incomplete information or understanding.
The Facts about Mold: For Everyone
What is mold?
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.
If you have had mold growth from these conditions please call us at SERVPRO of the Saint Croix Valley 715-781-2266. Our professionals, combine with industry standard technology and experience can help mediate needs quickly and professionally.
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!
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.
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.
Restore vs. Replace
SERVPRO of The Saint Croix Valley specializes in restoring contents damaged by water, fire, or mold. Our expertise and “restore” versus “replace” mentality can help you save money while preserving precious keepsakes that can’t be replaced. We pretest your belongings to determine what items we can restore to pre-fire condition. We use several methods of cleaning your contents, including:
- Dry Cleaning - Used for cleaning light residues or to pre-clean prior to wet cleaning.
- Wet Cleaning - An effective cleaning method for removing moderate to heavy residues.
- Spray and Wipe -Effective for items that can’t withstand wet cleaning.
- Foam Cleaning - Used for upholstery fabrics that might shrink or bleed if wet cleaned.
- Abrasive Cleaning - Involves agitation of the surface being cleaned.
- Immersion Cleaning - Contents are dipped into a bath of the cleaning product.
If your home requires extensive restoration or cleaning due to fire damage, SERVPRO of The Saint Croix Valley can conduct an organized, efficient move-out of the affected area. Move-out will provide several benefits, including:
- A quicker remodeling processes
- Protecting items from potential damage
- Protecting contents from further on-site damage
When restoration is completed, we will work with you to coordinate the move-in according to your needs. The services offered upon move-in may depend on your insurance coverage.
Fire-damaged electronics can present a serious hazard. Do not attempt to turn on or operate any electrical device that you suspect has been damaged by fire. Smoke residues can contain acids that corrode metal surfaces. If the residues are not removed, corrosion causes electronic failure in the device. We will coordinate the restoration of your electronics, including:
- Television sets
- DVD players
- And more
The key to restoring electronics is taking prompt action to prevent further damage. Electronics will be cleaned and inspected by a qualified electronics technician.
Document / Photograph Drying
When your valuable documents, including photographs, are damaged by water or fire, extreme caution should be taken to help ensure the fire damage does not destroy the document. Although some documents may not be restored to pre-fire damage condition, SERVPRO of The Saint Croix Valley can save a great deal and help minimize additional damage.
Depending on the type of documents and the level of fire, smoke, or soot damage, they have five options for the restoration of documents:
- Air Drying
- Freezer Drying
- Vacuum Freeze Drying
- Vacuum Thermal Drying
Contents Claim Inventory Service
When a fire emergency strikes, the damage can often feel overwhelming. We can help ease the worry and confusion during the recovery process by offering our Contents Tracker by Xactware, which provides a detailed and accurate list of your belongings. We take a room-by-room inventory of your contents, including digital photos, and in some instances, bar coding.
Our Contents Claim Inventory Service:
- Pre-loss list and value of contents
- Detailed and accurate report
- Better information to settle claims quicker
- Assistance with burden of proof for claims
Peace of mind when you need it most!
Flood and Storm Damage
While most business and homeowners know the destructive effects that flood damage causes, not everyone knows the right steps to take to mitigate the associated damage. These are incidents which need immediate professional intervention to learn what is restorable and what to replace. That is why it is vital for St Croix County residents to know how to act when faced with such incidents.
Remember water carries along all sorts of debris, oils, and mud into a premise. When contaminated water comes into contact with metallic surfaces, oxidation occurs, and they start to rust. To prevent such eventualities, extracting the water and cleaning is necessary. Our SERVPRO team can in some cases use wet-vacuuming to remove the debris and water. Truck-mounted pumps and portable generators for a power source are readily available from our stocked Green Fleet.
We may recommend a replacement if we notice that the water contaminated your porous materials. Where necessary, our team uses detergents and water to clean hard surfaces such as wood furnishings, desks, and metal cabinets before we dry them.
To dry your property, we set up air movers and leave them in position until we achieve the desired evaporation. Since evaporation moves moisture into the air, we position dehumidifiers to lower the humidity. Dependent on the situation at hand, we may decide to use desiccant, low grain or refrigerant dehumidifiers.
SERVPRO of The Saint Croix Valley is just a phone call away, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 715-381-2266.
Dangers of a Leaky Roof
Storm damage can happen at any time and come in all forms.
With all the different kinds of weather that we have had in the last month or so in the Saint Croix Valley, a durable roof is one of the most important infrastructures of a house, right after a strong, sturdy foundation. Just like it’s necessary to fix cracks in a foundation to ensure the rest of a house isn’t affected from the ground up, it’s important to fix leaks in a roof to protect a home from the top down, too. If you suspect you have a leaky roof, a roofing contractor can determine the cause and perform roof repairs, if necessary. To avoid any leaks or other issues from happening in the future, make sure to schedule regular inspections, perform general maintenance and upkeep, and have repairs completed as quickly as possible, since acting quickly could help you save time and money.
Causes and Sources of Leaks
There are a number of reasons why a roof may develop leaks, from both natural and manmade causes. No matter the cause, it's imperative to seek the services of a reliable roofing contractor to get your roof back in its best shape so that your home is protected from the elements.
SHINGLES AND FLASHING
Something as small and simple as a broken shingle could be the culprit of a leak. Severe weather, hail and high winds can cause shingles to become loose, crack and break off, leaving your roof exposed. If the nails used to secure shingles aren't properly sealed with a durable coating like roofing cement, it can leave exposed holes which can allow water and moisture to get into the attic. Broken or cracked flashing—the pieces of material installed under shingles, on joints and around chimneys—can also cause leaks. Both damaged flashing and missing shingles can be easily identified, usually as different, discolored patches or exposed areas on a roof. You may even find pieces of them in your yard after a bad storm.
If you've had previous roof repairs done but if a leak keeps coming back, you've either got a problem with the workmanship of the roofing contractor who did the work or the materials they used (or both). Improperly installing elements such as skylights and chimneys can also cause roof leaks - this can happen from incorrectly measuring and fitting fixtures and/or insulation that's started to decay or disintegrate. Leaks from this kind of problem are generally easy to spot. Just look for wet spots or small streams of water coming out of skylights or running down walls/chimneys when it rains.
PLUMBING AND PIPE PROBLEMS
Pipes run throughout the home including the roof, which means there are a number of areas that are common leak sources related to your home's plumbing and ventilation system. These include plumbing vent pipes, ventilation fan ducts, attic vents and exhaust pipes/flues (for appliances). Anytime there are worn or cracked rubber boots and/or broken flashing around the vent pipes that come out of the roof, it's likely you're in need of repairs.
CONDENSATION AND MOISTURE
Since the attic is usually the least insulated—and the highest elevated—place in your home, it is more prone to mold and mildew growth from excessive moisture that can accumulate when condensation becomes trapped. The cause of the moisture is from wet weather such as rain, sleet, and hail, but also ice dams melting and the fluctuation in temperatures when seasons change. You'll most likely notice a smell—before you see the mold—as a sign of a leak in your roof.
What Can Happen if You Don't Get Roof Repairs
Whether you’re dealing with issues associated with weather and moisture or improperly installed parts, it’s essential to perform any necessary roof leak repairs as soon as possible – not only to fix the problem, but also to prevent any future damage. For example, if you have a moisture issue causing a leak that goes untreated, it could result in mold and mildew growth, which could not only destroy the wood in the attic, but also negatively affect your health.
Every roof experiences some level of wear and tear from all types of weather (sun, rain, hail, extreme heat, wind, etc.). As a home's first line of defense from these elements, it's important to make sure you have a durable, weatherproof roof that's properly sealed and maintained in order to increase the lifecycle of the roof and decrease the risk of damage to it.
The Importance of Roof Repairs
If you have a roof leak, repair it as soon as possible to avoid further damage and to help protect your home from bigger problems such as flooding. Contact a roofing contractor to have a thorough assessment of the roof completed and get advice on what steps you need to take to repair the damage. It’s best to work with a roofing contractor because their expertise is in roofing and they will be able to pinpoint and address your specific needs. Depending on the cause of the damage, your home insurance company may cover the costs of the roof repair, so make sure to contact your insurance company, too.
Lastly, if you should have a roof that leaks into the structure and need to begin the mitigation process, call SERVPRO of The Saint Croix Valley. Our team of professionals specialize in removal and mitigation of storm damaged material and have the experience of quickly drying out affected areas from storm and weather damage before it is made worse. We at SERVPRO of The Saint Croix Valley partner with all major insurance companies and vendors to make the transition back to “as if it never even happened” as quick as possible.
Call us today and let us show you. 715-381-2266
Flooding vs. Water Damage
Learn the differences, similarities and causes between the two and how to handle water removal and cleanup.
Flooding vs. Water Damage
Whether you’re dealing with water damage or flooding, both can cause big problems and usually require professionals to perform water cleanup. Depending on the size and scope of your situation, your home may require water removal, flood repair or further restoration. While flooding caused by natural disasters or severe weather may be inevitable, there are some preventative measures you can take in and around your house to help slow the flow of water and/or help minimize the damage. The same goes for water damage – if you identify areas around the home that are more prone to water damage than others, you can take action to help prevent or at least decrease the amount and severity of the damage.
Causes and Effects of Flooding and Water Damage
Flooding can happen as a result of both natural and manmade causes, and it can affect the inside and outside areas of your home and property. During a very rainy season, yards can become oversaturated and if there isn’t adequate drainage, or if you have slow-draining soil, flooding is usually inevitable. Preventative measures – such as enhancing your yard’s soil composition and adding plants with deep roots and a high tolerance for water – are a good way to make your yard less susceptible to flooding. These measures can also minimize the amount of flood cleanup if you do experience heavy storms.
Leaky or faulty appliances, burst pipes and water damage that’s not repaired in a timely manner are all non-weather related causes of flooding. Low-lying areas of a home – such as a basement or the foundation – are often more prone to flooding since they are at or below ground level and may experience rising waters from surrounding bodies of water (lakes, rivers, streams) that can overflow during heavy periods of rain. Also, basements oftentimes have multiple pipes running both under the ground and through the ceilings, making them vulnerable to flooding.
Water damage is one of the results of flooding. Even after water removal, the remnants of flooding can appear in the form of discoloration on walls, damaged flooring and mold growth. Common causes include leaky appliances, plumbing issues and heavy periods of rain. Homeowners can help avoid water damage to their homes by having several annual inspections. These include roof inspections (to detect leaks and other areas that may be vulnerable to penetration) and appliance checkups (to make sure they are all running properly and to replace any faulty parts). If left untreated, you will probably end up having to contact professional water cleanup services, like SERVPRO of The Saint Croix Valley, to properly address and repair any damage incurred.
Similarities and Differences
Flooding and water damage are both caused by natural sources such as heavy periods of rain/natural disasters and manmade sources like burst pipes and leaky or faulty appliances.
Depending on the level and severity, both situations will usually require help from professional water cleanup services and/or flood repair.
Flooding is usually an immediate occurrence that can happen in a matter of minutes or even seconds (think: a burst pipe or an overflowing toilet).
Many insurance companies consider water damage and flood damage two different types of claims. While water damage is typically covered under most homeowners insurance, it’s important to carefully read over your policy, as some insurers may only cover certain types of water damage.
How to Deal With Water Removal
If you have flooding or water damage on your hands, you’ll probably need the help of professional water cleanup services like SERVPRO of The Saint Croix Valley. We can handle the initial assessment/inspection, water removal and drying/containment, and help prevent further water damage throughout the entire water cleanup process. If your home or property requires restoration, you may have to contact a contractor to help with water damage/flood repairs in order to completely restore your home back to its original state. You’ll also want to get in touch with your home insurance company to report the damage and see if it’s covered under your policy.
COMMERCIAL FIRE SPRINKLER SYSTEMS MYTHS
If a fire breaks out in your business, acting fast to put out the flames could save you from costly damage and loss. That's why commercial fire sprinkler systems are so important.
Although sprinkler systems can protect you, your staff, your customers and your business from harm, myths about fire sprinklers still exist.
MYTH: Water damage caused by fire sprinklers is more costly than fire damage.
FACT: According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), sprinkler systems are actually more cost-effective than damage caused by other firefighting efforts. Since sprinklers can keep a fire contained within one room rather than allowing the flames and smoke to spread throughout the building, most fire damage clean-up will only occur in one space. Furthermore, water damage from fire hoses is typically more expensive to repair. Quick-response sprinklers only release 8 to 24 gallons of water per minute, whereas fire hoses release 50 to 125 gallons per minute.
MYTH: If one fire sprinkler is triggered, all fire sprinklers will go off.
FACT: When one sprinkler in your commercial sprinkler system goes off, only the adjacent sprinklers that sense high levels of heat will activate. According to FEMA, this means that only one or two sprinkler heads will go off in the event of a fire.
MYTH: Sprinklers are overly sensitive.
FACT: Fire sprinklers only ever activate when high heat is detected, so an employee burning their lunch or taking a smoke break too close to the building will not set off the sprinkler system. According to FEMA, only 1 in 16 million sprinkler heads activate accidentally, making their benefits far outweigh any risks.
As a business owner, safety and protection are important to keeping operations going smoothly. To help keep your company safe from any potential fire damage, install commercial sprinklers and place fire extinguishers throughout your facility.
If the unexpected does happen, know that you're not alone. SERVPRO of The Saint Croix Valley is committed to being by your side every step of the way to get your business on its feet as quickly as possible. Use our fire and smoke damage clean-up services and our water damage clean-up services to get your doors back open fast.
HOW TO PREVENT LEAKS IN YOUR COMMERCIAL BUILDING
A leak in a commercial building can be costly. Not only could it cause thousands of dollars in damage and repairs, it could also shut down your company until the destruction can be fixed. To help prevent the worst from happening, use these tips to tackle plumbing maintenance in your building and ensure that you can keep business as usual.
Regular maintenance can help you prevent leaks that can cost your company a lot of money and headaches. The more proactive you are about maintaining healthy pipes and plumbing, the less likely you'll be to experience a major leak that causes you to close your doors. Follow these maintenance tips to keep your plumbing systems in great shape:
- Inspect pipes regularly. A professional visual inspection of all pipes, faucets, toilet fixtures, and plumbing systems should be conducted at least quarterly. This can prevent plumbing failures before they become a serious issue.
- Upgrade pipes, faucets, and fittings that pose a risk to your commercial property. Updating old plumbing that can't handle high-volume usage can save you money in the long run.
- Pay close attention to your water heater and any filtration systems you have installed. These systems can cause big issues if they aren’t regularly maintained. Commercial water heaters, like residential ones, need regular maintenance to prevent leaks, system failures, and even explosions.
Prepare for emergencies before they happen
Small leaks are often simple to fix. However, if you don’t catch them right away, or more serious leaks are occurring in spots inside your building, an emergency preparedness plan can help you avoid costly damage. While making your own detailed emergency plan, keep these essential steps in mind:
- Identify an action plan. If employees notice a leak anywhere in the building, they should know to whom to communicate the issue, who should be responsible for shutting off water valves, and where important water systems are located throughout the building.
- Create an emergency contact sheet. This list should be easily accessible to all employees within the building. Include contact information for plumbers, building supervisors, other tenants, water mitigation damage services, and other people you may need to reach in case of emergency.
- Protect your data. Business owners should have data backed up to an external hard drive or a cloud-based system to ensure all assets are protected in an emergency.
- Determine off-site work locations. If the building has to close until repairs are complete, you may need to work remotely to keep business running. Employees and customers should be notified of temporary workspaces and working hours.
What to do if you have a plumbing leak
Maintenance and emergency preparation only go so far. When you've got a surprise leak, acting quickly and correctly can help you avoid serious damage to your commercial building. Follow these tips if notice a leak in your building:
- Turn the water off in that area or at the main shutoff valve. This can stop the immediate problem until repairs can be made.
- Block entry to and use of the area. Even slow leaks from faucets or toilet fixtures can become serious issues, especially in high-use areas like commercial buildings.
- Call your plumber to make repairs. Use your emergency contact sheet to notify everyone who needs to be aware of the issue, and try to get the plumber there as soon as possible.
Once the issue is resolved, you may be left with damage. Call a reputable restoration company, like SERVPRO to get your business back on its feet as quickly as possible.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU FIND A LEAK IN YOUR COMMERCIAL BUILDING
Leaks come in all shapes and sizes. With a little bit of education you can be better prepared for when they do happen.
It only takes a small leak in a commercial building to cause extensive water damage. The longer the leak goes unnoticed, the more damage you can expect.
Common leaks detected in commercial buildings
Any building can spring a leak. But commercial buildings are put under quite a bit more stress than residential buildings, with heavy use of bathrooms, kitchens and other water-intensive processes. Learn about the most common types of leaks found in commercial buildings, and what you can do to fix them.
Every faucet has components that can wear out over time, especially with frequent use. When a seal or other faucet component begins to leak, it leads to ongoing water loss. When the drip becomes a trickle or a flow, water loss can be extensive and your water bill can substantially increase.
Toilets have a number of parts that can wear and lead to issues, especially water loss. For example, a flapper that fails to create a solid seal will allow water to leak from the toilet tank drain. If leaks like these aren’t repaired as soon as possible, you may experience additional damage to other toilet components, your water bill may increase significantly, and you may eventually have to replace the entire toilet to remedy the problem.
Underground leaks often go unnoticed. Signs that you may be experiencing an underground leak include:
- Areas of wet soil
- Areas where grass, plants, or other items are growing faster than their surroundings
- Unexpected rises in water bills
Items like sewer drains, water supply pipes, or other buried piping systems require water leak detection equipment to help locate any leaks. If found, pipes can be dug up and repaired. If not, exploratory digging may be necessary to find the source of the leakage.
A leak can hide anywhere in a commercial building. If the leak is not discovered early, the amount of water loss and damage caused may be extensive.
Signs of hidden leaks include:
- Increases in the water bill
- Wet surfaces
- Water marks and swelling of the walls, ceiling, and floors
Once the leak is identified, it may require pulling out walls, ceilings, and other major pieces of the building to fix the leak and repair the damage.
How to detect plumbing leaks in your commercial building
Installing a leak detection system can make it much easier to identify potential leaks and address them as quickly as possible. These systems can be extremely beneficial in commercial buildings, as they allow for the creation of a building-wide detection system.
Technology offers some exciting innovations in leak detection. Wireless water leak detectors can communicate by phone, text, and email when a leak is detected. Cloud-based sensors are also available that integrate with a portal where you can monitor all sensors in a system. There are even automated sensors which can shut off water in certain applications. If you are unsure which type of water leak detection equipment is best for your building, consult a contractor before installation.
What to do if you find a leak
If you suspect a leak in your business, contact SERVPRO of The Saint Croix Valley. We are here to help, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 715-381-2266.