Recent Posts

How to Prevent Mold in Your Restaurant Kitchen

3/11/2020 (Permalink)

A large stainless steel restaurant kitchen stove with an overhead exhaust. Having proper ventilation in your commercial kitchen can help prevent mold growth.

Running your own restaurant can be a very rewarding experience, but coming across mold growth in your kitchen can quickly bring that experience to a halt. Thankfully, there are various methods for keeping your restaurant kitchen clean and consistently mold free.

Though there are many possible avenues for mold growth to occur, one of the most common causes of mold is through the food itself that you bring into your kitchen. Mold can materialize easily on foods such as vegetables, fruits, cheeses and dairy products, bread, and more. Because of this, it’s very important to inspect your produce and other items before ever integrating them into your kitchen. Look for bruises, abrasions, or already apparent growths on your fruits and vegetables before purchasing. Be sure to check the expiration dates on packaged items, and keep any open containers covered or sealed until use to prevent the onset of mold.

Another way to prevent mold is to keep a reliable ventilation system. Mold tends to emerge in areas that are dark, moist, and generally untouched. This means it can be hard to pinpoint the onset of mold until it’s too late. Help yourself and your kitchen crew by installing a ventilation system that reduces the high humidity in the kitchen. This helps prevent potential mold from finding a suitable place to take root.

Finally, you should remove and restore any water damage as it occurs to help prevent mold growth. Finding water damage in your restaurant would hardly be surprising, as running water is a consistent feature in any commercial kitchen. Because of this, it’s important to always keep an eye out for continuously damp or wet areas. These conditions are the perfect breeding ground for mold. Hiring qualified mold remediation specialists to clear the area of any damage is key to a clean and healthy food prep environment.

When it comes to keeping the commercial kitchen of your restaurant clean and mold-free, following these methods can help prevent any outbreak of unwanted mold growth and clear your kitchen for healthy food prep. Call SERVPRO of Baxter, Boone, Fulton & Marion Counties to schedule a free mold inspection today!

What to Expect After Contacting SERVPRO

3/11/2020 (Permalink)

A SERVPRO van sits in front of a restaurant that suffered from a fire. SERVPRO can be on site within four hours to begin the restoration process.

When you've suffered damage to your home, it’s important to act quickly. SERVPRO’s 24-hour availability makes them a top choice for many insurance agencies. But what can one expect when they call SERVPRO? Here’s what you can count on during the first several hours after contacting SERVPRO.

  • A Quick Response

When a structure has been damaged, the response time is an important factor in how time consuming and how costly restoration will be. SERVPRO is always open, so you can expect to hear back within an hour after you have contacted them about the emergency. Once you have provided them with the necessary information, they will begin preparing to address the needs of the job.

  • Arrival to the Damaged Site

With over 1,700 locations and more opening daily, SERVPRO can arrive quickly to any emergency. They can be on site to begin the restoration process within four hours. This fast response can make a huge difference if your home has suffered a great deal of damage. Beginning the process more quickly will result in less damage overall, which can end up costing the insurance agency less money.

  • Inspection and a Verbal Briefing

Once SERVPRO of Baxter, Boone, Fulton, & Marion Counties arrives, they will inspect the home to determine the extent of the damage and decide on the best course of action moving forward. This should all happen within eight hours of your initial call. They will provide a verbal briefing so that you are aware of what will happen next. Their quick 24-hour response will allow them to begin mitigation as soon as possible to prevent any further damage before they begin work on necessary repairs.

  • Professionalism and Compassion

At SERVPRO of Baxter, Boone, Fulton, & Marion Counties, we understand that situations that require our services are usually very stressful for home and business owners alike. You can trust that we will provide compassionate, professional services in your biggest time of need, and make the worst situation as stress free as possible.

Because damage can spread and worsen quickly, the 24-hour period after damage has occurred is crucial. SERVPRO’s fast, compassionate, and professional response will save the insurance agency money and allow you to have your home or business back sooner. If you should find yourself needing our services, don’t hesitate to call us today!

SERVPRO Goes Above and Beyond for Mold Remediation

2/27/2020 (Permalink)

Green carpeting covered with white and grey fuzzy mold. Boxes and furniture show previous water damage and mold growth. When mold is able to take root and grow, it can really take over!

When a house has a water loss, it’s easy to miss what can become a follow-up disaster. I’m talking about mold. Mold is more than just unsightly; it can cause damage to contents, structure, and in some cases, even your health.

Dormant spores become active and move through a home after they absorb enough moisture. A large portion of mold damage starts behind walls and under the feet of homeowners. SERVPRO restoration teams often find themselves pulling down walls and crawling under homes to find the source of the problem. In cases like these, however, the mold usually grows over surfaces, but it can dig into drywall and even the framework behind it if not caught quickly. While drywall is easy and cheap to remove and replace, wall framing can be more difficult. Technicians often are required to scrape mold from the surface, and if the spores went deep, they could sand down the surface to remove the infestation. Wood studs can also be sprayed with an antimildew product after removing the mold and hyphae.

To reduce the risk of mold growth and contamination, SERVPRO recommends encapsulation for crawlspaces exposed to water. Team members start by examining the concrete walls for leaks and seeps. If they find even one as small as a pinpoint, they use hydraulic cement to seal them against further water intrusion. Our specialists then level the dirt floor to prevent pooling, and then cover it with heavy, polyethylene sheeting. If needed, they use wood framing to hold the sheets in place. Next, they secure the ends of the sheets to the now sealed walls with a polyurethane caulk or a specially designed, two-sided, foundation tape. Team members continue using polyethylene sheets to seal off the walls and secure them with the same caulk and tape.

After completing encapsulation, specialists use a moisture meter to determine if the humidity levels are at an acceptable level. If needed, they can use a dehumidifier to remove water from the air until the level measures as normal. In extreme conditions or environments, a permanent dehumidifier can be installed in the crawl space. Less moisture means less chance of mold growth. The encapsulation also limits food sources for mold spores to develop into large colonies.

Our goal at SERVPRO of Baxter, Boone, Fulton & Marion Counties is to bring each home back to a clean condition. If you are still dealing with effects from the last storm or flood, whether the result was mold damage or not, contact us at 1-866-445-8457 today to begin the restoration process.

How to Prevent Flue Fires

12/31/2019 (Permalink)

A chimney fire has spread to the house and burns the house out of control. Taking care of your chimney can prevent millions of dollars worth of damage.

Does your home have a fireplace? If it does, it more than likely has a chimney. But do you have the chimney cleaned and properly taken care of every year? Taking care to clean your chimney annually can help prevent a type of house fire associated with them called chimney or flue fires. What is a flue fire, you may ask? Let’s find out!

Chimney fires occur at an alarming rate in the U.S. Over 25,000 chimney fires account for over 120 million dollars in damage to property every year. Thousands of injuries, and even many deaths, result every year from chimney fires that spread to the structure of the home. Chimney liners or structural problems can allow high temperatures, sparks, and embers to escape to combustible areas in walls, roofs, or attics. A common cause of chimney fires is creosote inside the chimney catching fire and burning inside it. Creosote is a by-product of burning that coats the inside of your chimney and needs to be removed during regular annual chimney cleaning by chimney sweeps. Creosote build-up is the main cause of chimney fires. The creosote comes from particles that were not fully burned during the fire and when the temperatures in the chimney lowers, they attached to the chimney walls forming the creosote. In fact, when the temperatures within the chimney are below 250 degrees Fahrenheit, the substance in the smoke will condense and stick to the walls. When the temperature drops below 150 degrees Fahrenheit, the substance again changes form, this time to a dark, sticky substance. This dark sticky and sometimes flaky material can easily catch on fire, and thus is the root cause of the chimney fires.

Along with the soft crackling of the wood, your fire should only produce pleasant sounds, not ones like a freight train barreling toward your house at 100 miles an hour. When this raging noise is coming from your chimney walls, it means you have a powerful chimney fire on your hands. But chimney fires are not always that easy to detect. There are two different types of chimney fires that are quite easy to tell apart, but both can cause substantial damage to your chimney and possibly your home.

Free burning fires are the fires that sound like a freight train or roaring airplane in your chimney. The blaze is loud and unmistakable. Oftentimes dramatic flames or billowing smoke may lap out of your chimney top. Your neighbors or people walking by may be alarmed by the noise and sites from this fire. Slow burning fires are the quieter version of a chimney fire, but is no less dangerous. You may not even know it has taken place. These undetected fires burn slowly at high temperatures that can cause more than just structural damage to your chimney; they can easily catch flammable parts of your home on fire as well.

So, what do you do if you find yourself with a flue fire? As with any other type of fire, the first step that should always be taken is to get everyone out of harm’s way and call the fire department. After everyone is safe and assuming the situation permits without putting yourself in danger, you can first try to cut off the air supply leading to the chimney. To do this, close the damper on the chimney or any other pipes to attempt to smother the fire this way, then close the glass doors or any other fire grate and leave the home. Once outside, take a garden hose and spray water on the roof around the chimney to prevent the roof from catching on fire. Once the fire is completely put out, it is best to monitor the wall temperature of any surrounding walls for the next few hours to ensure no other part of the home catches on fire. The danger with chimney fires, even after they have been put out, is that if it happened once, it will most likely happen again if no further measures are taken. For this reason, after one of these fires has taken place, it is important to call a chimney professional right away to determine the cause of the fire. Besides removing the reason for the fire after one has raged inside of your chimney walls, prevention is also very important. The key to preventing a chimney fire is to have a clean burning fire.

Now, how do you prevent a chimney fire from happening to you? For starters, only burn seasoned or dried out wood. Wood that is completely dry will sound hollow when hit against another piece of wood. It will be dark in color and may have cracks in the ends. It takes about 6 months for wood to be ready to burn. Start fires with clean newspaper or dry kindling. Gasoline or kerosene should never be used to start a fire. Never burn cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, or your Christmas tree. Burn large logs, rather than many smaller logs when possible. And finally, get regular chimney inspections and cleanings to remove the excess creosote from the chimney walls and ensure safe burning.

A clean chimney will not burst into flame, therefore proper care and regular cleanings are necessary to ensure the safety of your family and your home. Don’t get caught off guard by the roaring sounds and raging blazes coming from inside the chimney walls, keep a clean chimney and you’ll have a safer house!

How to Avoid Getting Frozen Water Pipes

12/18/2019 (Permalink)

A kitchen has a large frozen waterfall coming from the ceiling with more water on the floor of the kitchen below. Frozen pipes bursting can cost you a lot of money in repairs.

We’re getting into the colder part of the year now, and frozen water pipes are becoming a greater threat. Here’s some great tips to follow to prevent this from happening to you. Not only will these tips save you the trouble of broken pipes and gushing water, but you’ll also save yourself a lot of money in repair fees.

When the weather begins to get cold, you should insulate pipes or faucets in unheated areas. Pipelines in an unheated garage or cold crawlspace under the house can freeze. Wrap the water pipes to insulate before temperatures plummet. Hardware or building supply stores have pipe wrapping materials readily available for homeowners.

Be sure to seal off access doors, air vents, and cracks. Repair broken windows to keep the cold winter winds outside where they belong. Check seals around doors and windows and if necessary, reapply caulking to areas that cold air leaks in through. It wouldn’t hurt to check the caulking around pipes, your shower or tub, or anywhere else something exits the interior of your home to the exterior or crawlspace and reapply caulk as needed to make sure there’s no air leaking into your house. You should also consider winterizing your windows to help secure heat inside and keep the cold out – and lower your heating bill!

 Find the master shutoff to your water. The master valve may be near the water heater or washing machine. Make sure that everyone in your household knows where it is in case a pipe should burst. Acting quickly can prevent flooding and thousands of dollars in repairs. If you’re worried about your pipes freezing on a particularly cold night (less than 20 degrees), run a minimal amount of water out of your faucets. A small steady stream of water will be enough to keep your pipes from freezing.

Another thing you should do is disconnect and drain any outdoor hoses. You should have all outdoor water connections, including irrigation systems, properly shut off during winter. A single overnight freeze can burst faucets and pipes, so it’s important to disconnect the hose and let the water drain.

So now you know how to prevent pipes from freezing, but what do you do if your pipes still burst?? First of all, call your plumber and tell them what’s happened. After they’ve been notified, locate your master shutoff valve. This will come in handy if things take a turn for the worst. Don’t try and melt the ice in the pipes by using fire, as heating one spot of the pipe can cause it to burst. Instead, use a hair dryer on low to distribute the heat evenly across the pipe. If you don’t have a hair dryer, then you can wrap the frozen section in rags and gently pour hot water across it. The rags help to distribute the heat from the water evenly.

In the event that the worst does happen, call the experts to help clean up any water damage caused by burst pipes or flooding. The trained professional water damage technicians at SERVPRO of Baxter, Boone, Fulton, & Marion Counties can help any time of day, any day of the year. If you should need our services, call us at (866) 445-8457, and we’ll make it “Like it never even happened.”

How to Prepare for a Winter Storm

12/2/2019 (Permalink)

A power line pole heavy with snow and ice leans over into a road making it dangerous to drive. If possible, stay off roads during a winter storm. Conditions can become treacherous in minutes.

When you think of storms, you probably think of thunder, lightning, heavy rains, and tornadoes. But as the year gets colder, what about winter storms? Winter storms can cause an increase in car accidents, hypothermia, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning, and heart attacks due to over exertion. They bring extreme cold, freezing rain, ice, snow, and high winds. Winter storms can last a few hours or several days. They can and often do knock out power, causing a loss of heat and communication services. This can place elderly, young children, and sick individuals at greater risk. So how do you prepare for a winter storm?

The best way to prepare yourself for a winter storm is to know when winter weather is threatening your community and have supplies ready before it hits. You should pay attention to weather reports and warnings of freezing weather and winter storms. Signing up for your community’s warning system is a great idea and having a weather radio on hand is also a great idea to stay informed about potential threats. Extreme weather can leave communities without utilities or other services for long periods of time. Because of this, it’s important to prepare your home to keep the cold out with insulation, caulking, and weather stripping. Insulate pipes and educate yourself on how to keep them from freezing to prevent pipe bursts and water damage. You should also install and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors with battery backups. In case the storm should knock out power for several days, you should have supplies on hand to last you and everyone with you until power is restored. You should take into consideration each person’s specific needs, such as any medications they might need. Don’t forget about the needs of your pets! Make sure they’re taken care of too. Keep extra batteries handy for radios and flashlights. If you HAVE to go out in your car, make sure you have jumper cables, sand, a flashlight, warm clothes, blankets, bottled water, and non-perishable snacks. Be sure to keep the gas tank full as well. Learn the signs of and basic treatments for frostbite and hypothermia to help keep your family safe and healthy.

Now that you know how to prepare, what should you do during the storm? If possible, stay off roads. If you become trapped in your car, stay inside. A car that ran off the road is easier to spot and find than a single person wandering around. If you leave your car, you risk getting hypothermia or frostbite from wandering around in the snow. You also risk getting hit by other cars that are having trouble gripping the road in the snowy, icy weather. Limit your time outside to help prevent getting frostbite and hypothermia. If you need to go outside, wear multiple layers of warm clothing. Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning by only using generators and grills outdoors and away from windows. Never heat your home with a gas stovetop or oven. Reduce the risk of a heart attack by avoiding overexertion when shoveling snow and watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia and begin treatment right away if symptoms are found.

How do you spot hypothermia and frostbite, and what do you do if you or someone else have it? Frostbite causes loss of feeling and color around the face, fingers, and toes. Signs of frostbite are numbness, white or grayish-yellow skin, and firm or waxy skin. If you or a family member have symptoms of frostbite, you should go to a warm room and soak in warm water. Use body heat to warm, and do not massage or use a heating pad. Hypothermia is an unusually low body temperature. A temperature below 95 degrees is an emergency. Signs of hypothermia are shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech, or drowsiness. If you or a family member have symptoms of hypothermia, you should go to a warm room. Warm the center of the body first: chest, neck, head, and groin. Keep dry and wrapped up in warm blankets, including the head and neck.

If you are under a winter storm warning, find shelter immediately. Stay off roads and stay indoors. Dress warmly, in layers if you can, and prepare for power outages. Use generators outside only and away from windows to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Listen for emergency information and alerts on a weather radio or other local news outlet. Watch for signs of hypothermia and frostbite, and check on your neighbors.

How to Prepare Your Plumbing for Cooler Weather

10/9/2019 (Permalink)

A water pipe with frozen icicles hanging from it. Insulating pipes can help prevent them from freezing.

As we move into the cooler months of the year, water losses become an even larger threat. Temperatures will start dropping soon, but the threat of pipes freezing and bursting become higher. But there’s a few things you can do to prepare your plumbing for winter and colder temperatures.

One thing you can do to prepare your home is to turn off outside faucets. This can be done at their shutoff valve. Open the faucet then open the bleeder cap on the shutoff valve to drain any water out of the pipe. If you don’t drain the pipe, it can still freeze and crack. Leave the bleeder cap open with a bucket underneath to catch any drips. If the dripping continues, your shutoff valve needs to be replaced. Installing frost-free sill cocks also help to prevent frozen pipes. Unlike a typical faucet, the working parts of a frost-free sill cock— valve, seat and washer—are located up to 18 in. inside the wall instead of right at the faucet. When the sill cock is properly installed, with a slight downward pitch, water drains from the pipe every time you turn off the knob at the faucet. You should also remove any hoses that are connected to faucets. Leaving hoses connected to a faucet in winter can allow water to freeze that’s left inside the hose and back up into the pipe and cause it to crack. Disconnect all hoses from their faucets, drain them and store them for the winter. Covering hose bibs with insulated covers help to slow the heat loss from a pipe as it travels through the wall out into the cold.

The next step is to insulate any vulnerable pipes to keep them from getting too cold. One way you can contribute to their insulation is to install a heat cable. Heat cables are a perfect solution for vulnerable pipes. They have an integral thermostat that senses pipe temperature, turning the heat on and off as needed to keep the pipe from freezing. You’ll need an accessible outlet to plug in the cable.  If you have pipes in an unheated area, such as a crawl space, an attic or a garage, use heat cable and cover it with pipe insulation. Pipe insulation alone does little, as it’s only a matter of time before cold air can reach the frozen pipes. In fact, insulating pipes without also using heat cable can prevent warm air from getting to them. You should also be sure to seal around rim joists to stop cold air intrusion. Seal cracks or holes using expandable foam and then insulate between the floor joists. Be sure that you don’t insulate a pipe from the heat in the rest of the house. Also, inspect around holes where cables, wires or pipes pass through an exterior wall. Insulate where you can, and seal drafts with caulk or expandable foam. After insulating, be sure you have combustion air for the furnace coming in through a makeup air pipe.

There’s a few other tips to discuss for helping your home for winter and preventing water losses as well. If you go out of town for the holidays, be sure to turn off your water while you’re away. As a general rule, if you’re leaving town for a few days or more, turn the water off at the main shutoff. That way, if frozen pipes do crack, you’ll have far less damage. Shut off your automatic ice maker so it doesn’t continually try to make ice, burning out the motor. Even if the ice bin is full, the ice will evaporate, and the ice maker will try to make more. If you have water lines in the garage, insulate the garage door, if not the whole garage. Consider a combination of heat cable and insulation as well. If it’s really cold, put a portable heater in the garage, but be careful to follow instructions and place it in a safe place with no fire or safety hazards. During a sudden cold snap, you should remember to leave your indoor faucets running just a little bit to prevent the pipes from freezing. A trickling faucet acts as a relief valve for the pressure that builds up if frozen pipes do occur. That pressure relief can prevent frozen pipes from cracking. A slow trickle is all you need. It’ll bump up your next water bill a bit, but compared with major home repairs, that’s an easy price to pay. Don’t leave a faucet running if the drain is on an exterior wall, though; the drain can freeze, causing the sink to overflow. Opening cabinet doors also allows heat to get to pipes under sinks and helps prevent them from freezing. Being behind closed doors, kitchen plumbing frozen pipes are vulnerable, as the heat from the rest of the house can’t reach them. Open the cabinet doors to allow heat to circulate into the cabinets. A fan or portable heater pointed inside the cabinet also helps circulate warm air. Just be sure to avoid fire and safety hazards by moving your household chemicals somewhere away from the heat. Keeping the temperature inside your home steady is also a good idea. What constitutes a cold snap depends on your climate and your home’s insulation. A temperature of 32 degrees F isn’t cause for alarm in Minnesota, but it might be in Mississippi. So during extreme cold, bypass your thermostat’s program and leave the temperature steady. You may even want to turn it up a couple of degrees.

Keep these tips in mind as the colder months grow closer. Making habit of these practices can help to save you tons of money on a water loss in the future. And if disaster should happen to strike, you can always count on SERVPRO of Baxter, Boone, Fulton, & Marion Counties to make it “Like it never even happened.”

How to Lower Fire Risks in Your Business

10/9/2019 (Permalink)

A business burns in the background. Firefighters stand in the foreground and another firefighter sprays water on the fire. Sprinkler systems can help stop fires from spreading and getting out of hand.

As a business owner, you never want to think about what would happen if a fire or flood should strike. A fire can cause severe damage to business equipment, materials, and structures. As a business owner, focusing on fire risk assessment, fire prevention, and staff education can help reduce your chance of fire and smoke damage. Here are some tips to help prevent fires in your business.

The first thing is to look around your business and find potential fire hazards. The National Fire Protection Association offers handbooks and other publications on the fire safety code in place for businesses. If your local government offers it, a visit from a fire marshal is a great step for your fire prevention plan. If a marshal visit isn't available, ask for workplace fire risk assessment guidance from your building's property manager.

Having the proper fire protection equipment in your business is essential to prevent fires. Automatic sprinkler systems are a great way to prevent fires from causing too much damage and will provide primary fire protection. Standard fire safety practices call for smoke detectors and fire extinguishers on every floor. There’s more than one type of smoke detector, so be sure and do your research to know what type is best for your business. All employees should be aware of the locations of fire extinguishers on each floor in case they should need access to one. The most recommended type of extinguisher is a multipurpose extinguisher, which will douse most small fires with ease without shorting out your electronics. It is also recommended you equip your employees with an emergency kit stocked with items like bottled water, a flashlight, and an escape mask to fight against smoke inhalation in case of a fire.

Not only are your employees part of your team, they’re also essential assets to your business. You want to ensure their safety as best as you can, and that includes in the event of a fire. Make sure your employees know what to do if there's a fire, including calling 911 immediately. Conduct a fire drill at least once a year to keep employees aware of your workplace fire safety protocol. Designate a person as your office’s fire prevention officer. Their duties will include composing escape routes and meeting points for employees, as well as keeping all your safety plans, equipment, and information updated. If your office doesn’t have one, installing a sprinkler system is cost effective and the best way to fight the spread of a fire in a business. Properly installed and maintained systems are 95% effective according to the National Fire Protection Association in stopping and preventing fires. Be sure to leave some room behind appliances that heat up, like coffee machines and computers, to allow them to cool down. Keep all your business appliances away from combustible materials, like paper or cloth. If possible, unplug these appliances at the end of the day as most business fires occur after typical operating hours. Make sure to check cords on appliances and other electronic devices and replace them as needed. Use one extension cord per outlet and follow manufacturer recommendations for maximum wattage when using power strips. Avoid “octopus wiring,” when wires and plugs clutter around one outlet, as it could lead to an overload. In larger buildings, post a fire evacuation plan in several spots around the workplace. Never include elevators in an evacuation plan; always use the stairs. Businesses with disabled employees should develop a detailed evacuation for those employees needing additional assistance in an emergency. In case of fire injuries, your employees should be familiar with the location of the first-aid kit, which should be kept where possible hazards can occur most, such as in the kitchen.

While fire prevention can help cut down your risk of fire, it doesn’t mean they still can’t strike any time. If your business should have a fire strike, trust the restoration professionals at SERVPRO of Baxter, Boone, Fulton, & Marion Counties. We’ll make it “Like it never even happened.”

How to Prevent Water Losses in Your Business

10/8/2019 (Permalink)

A brick wall in a basement leaking water. A few inches of standing water is seen at the bottom of the picture. Properly extended downspouts can help prevent water from seeping through and damaging foundations.

Water losses in a business can be a devastating blow. Not only can it be costly, but it can slow or even shut down your business while mitigation and repairs are in progress. Whether it's sending employees home for the cleanup or losing equipment and records, water damage will inevitably cause your business to take a hit. So how do you keep your business from being a target of water damage?

For starters, determining where water damage might come from can really help to prevent water damage in the workplace. Check any appliances in your business. Dishwashers, refrigerators, washing machines, and air conditioning units should be checked often. Appliances that produce condensation often rust, increasing the chances of a leak. Water supply hoses may also develop leaks and should be checked as well. Pipes and drains should be kept clear of clogs and stoppages to prevent overflowing appliances and sewage backups. Kitchen sinks can become stopped up by grease and roots can grow into pipelines and sewage lines, creating stoppages and clogs. In the winter, pipes can freeze, burst, and cause damage to the building and any contents inside. Roofing should be checked for any missing, damaged, or deteriorating roofing materials. Inadequate attic insulation and ventilation can also speed up the process of a roof’s decay and contribute to the formation of ice dams. Ice dams can cause water damage to ceilings, walls, and floors through a leaky roof.

So now that you know the usual suspects of water damage, how can you help to prevent a water loss? For interior problems, examine your equipment and appliances. If you see something that worries you, it’s time to do something about it. There are many things you can do to prevent water losses. Making sure water supply hose connections are secure to things like dishwashers, ice makers, refrigerators, washing machines, and other appliances can save money and prevent water losses related to leaks or faulty connections. Check and replace washing machine hoses every 3-5 years or sooner if they’re bulging, cracking, or show signs of other deterioration. Consider replacing rubber hoses with stainless-steel braided hoses for increased durability and longevity. For additional peace of mind, consider a stainless-steel braided hose with a built-in auto-shutoff mechanism. Re-caulking and re-grouting sinks, showers, and tubs and replacing leaking shower pans and loose or missing tiles can help prevent water from seeping into places it shouldn’t. Follow the recommended maintenance procedures for all appliances and equipment. This includes periodically draining a portion of the water out of the water heater to flush out the sediment in the bottom of the tank. Regular maintenance should also be performed on your HVAC system to prevent deposit clogs in the air conditioner pan drain lines. When the weather turns cold, a trickle of water from both hot and cold faucets may help prevent frozen pipes. Another good idea is to open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls. It’s also highly recommended you insulate pipes that are exposed to freezing temperatures or drafts, such as those located in garages and basements to help reduce the chance of leaks from frozen pipes.

There are some things you can do to the exterior of your business as well to prevent water damage. If your roof has sustained damage, hire a professional roofing contractor to repair deteriorating or damaged roofing materials promptly.  Keep your gutters, downspouts, and eaves clear of debris. Downspouts should extend away from the building to carry water away from the foundation and prevent flooding of areas close to the house that can erode and leak into the foundation and basements. Adding insulation and ventilation to the attic can extend the life of a roof and reduce the chances of ice dams that can cause water to back up under roofing. The insulation should be in good shape and attic vents should be clear. Most insulation materials can last more than 50 years if they’re installed and maintained well. The thickness and material type can impact their effectiveness as well. Adding or replacing insulation may be needed to gain a higher efficiency, especially in colder climates. Improper installation, moisture, UV rays, and disturbance can all negatively impact the effectiveness of insulation. If your business has outdoor hose connections, remove hoses from hose bibs in the fall and turn off the water supply to hose bib connections to help minimize the chance of a burst pipe due to freezing. To help keep an eye on these or other trouble spots, you may want to consider installing a commercial water leak detection system.

How to Be Prepared for Disasters

10/4/2019 (Permalink)

A plastic bin with emergency supplies. A blue backpack and fire extinguisher sit next to the bin. It may seem impossible to plan for the unpredictable, but you can in fact be prepared.

Disaster can strike at any time. It may seem impossible to plan for the unpredictable, but you CAN be prepared for emergencies. In the Ozarks, our most common emergency disasters are flash flooding and tornadoes. So how can you be prepared for these disasters? One of the best ways is by building a disaster preparation kit.

To make a basic disaster kit, you’ll need the following:

  • Water. One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food. At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery

In addition to the basic items, you’ll want to also take these items into consideration when making your kit:

  • Prescription medications
  • Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives
  • Glasses and contact lens solution
  • Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • Cash or traveler's checks
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
  • Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper to disinfect water
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

Once your kit is made up, you’ll need to maintain it so that it’s ready when needed. Keep canned food in a cool, dry place and store boxed foods in tightly closed plastic or metal containers. Replace goods as they expire and re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.

You can also store kits in multiple places so you’re ready anytime, anywhere. The best places to keep kits are home, work, and in your car. For your home kit, you should keep it in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept. For your work kit, be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Your work kit should include food, water, and other necessities like medicines, as well as comfortable walking shoes, stored in a “grab and go” case. The kit in your car should contain emergency supplies for in case you become stranded.