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Hurricane Season: Are You Prepared?

9/3/2019 (Permalink)

A structure being destroyed by hurricane storm winds Hurricane Damage

Hurricane Season: Are You Prepared?

Hurricane season is quickly approaching as we near the beginning of September, ushering in the possibility of violent winds and heavy rain wreaking havoc on your home. This time of year also marks National Preparedness Month, in which homeowners nation-wide are encouraged to prepare their homes for the wrath of hurricanes and other natural disasters. Inspecting your home’s exterior and taking precautions ahead of time is key in keeping your home as safe as possible during hurricane season.

Determining your home’s risk can help in estimating how hard your home would likely be hit by a hurricane. This can be calculated by taking the location of your home into consideration. Suppose your home is located in a coastal or low-lying area. In this case, your home would be at greater risk of flooding and it would be best to take extra safety measures. You should also have a thorough understanding of how much your homeowner’s insurance covers, as some policies neglect to cover flood damage or the cost to rebuild in the event of your home being destroyed.

Inspect your roof and gutters prior to the start of hurricane season. If the condition of your roof suffers due to loose or missing shingles, it will most likely have difficulty surviving in a hurricane. Replace missing or loose shingles and consider having your roof sealed as an extra precaution. If your gutters are clogged with debris, water will have a more difficult time draining. Clear debris from the gutters so that overflowing water will drain properly and not splash onto your roof, as this could damage the roof.

The chances of water entering your home are elevated due to major flooding produced by hurricanes. This water can damage floors, walls, carpets, and surrounding objects, so keeping water away from your home is important. Positioning sandbags in front of doors can prevent flood water from entering your home. Over time, weather can erode the sealing on your home’s windows, which can cause water to seep through the windows during storms. If your window seals are broken, call a professional to sufficiently seal your windows in time for hurricane season.

Why Is My Air Conditioner Leaking?

8/23/2019 (Permalink)

As we near the end of August and begin the transition into fall, summer temperatures will remain for a while longer, pressuring our air conditioners to continue relieving us from the heat. The chances of your air conditioning unit leaking are increased with constant use. While a small leak may seem manageable and not immediately concerning, it can grow into a much larger issue, resulting in serious amounts of water damage if your faulty AC unit isn't repaired quickly. Without repairs, you run the risk of mold or bacteria growth and caved-in ceilings as well as other types of structural damage to walls and floors. Being able to understand the problems that lead to leaky air conditioners, such as clogged drain lines, improper installation, and frozen evaporator coils, will help you to identify the reason why your unit is leaking and how to resolve the issue. 

An air conditioning unit's drain line clogs when debris, dirt, or rust accumulates within the drain line, creating a blockage that results in the drain pan overflowing. Leaking onto the pan's surroundings, objects such as carpets, floors, walls, and ceilings can be damaged. Suppose your home's AC unit was installed recently and a leak emerges. This is a common result of improper installation. When the drain line isn't secured tightly, the pipe can loosen and eventually separate from the unit, causing a leak. If your unit was not recently installed and its drain line is not blocked, your unit's air filter may be to blame. The longer an air conditioner is used, the greater the possibility of the filter filling with dirt, clogging the filter. When the filter clogs, ice forms inside of the evaporator coils and when that ice melts, the unit can leak. Replace your air filter on a regular basis in order to prevent the filter from clogging.

While you can take every preventative measure to prevent your air conditioning unit from leaking, there is always a chance that your unit could leak. In that case, turn off your AC unit and call a professional immediately after you discover a leak. Automatically shutting off the AC unit when its air filter or drain line clogs, a float switch can be installed by a professional to provide additional protection.

Home Fire Safety 101

8/23/2019 (Permalink)

Igniting in the blink of an eye and spreading throughout your home in a matter of minutes, household fires can leave your home in shambles. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that your family does everything necessary in order to buy time during a fire emergency. Learning which items to have in your home and how to use them to your advantage can help save time and protect your home from destruction.

Fire Extinguishers

Keeping at least one fire extinguisher in an accessible place in your home can help to douse a fire in its beginning stages. While there are various types of fire extinguishers in existence, there is a specific kind that is best for home use: ABC fire extinguishers. Household fires usually fall under classes A, B, or C. Class A fires signify those that are started by paper, wood, or trash. Class B fires include those instigated by flammable liquids or gases. Lastly, Class C fires indicate those started by electrical complications. Make sure that you feel comfortable using the fire extinguisher so that no time is wasted reading the instructions during a fire.

Smoke Alarms

For each floor of your home, make sure that there is one smoke alarm. For additional protection, install another smoke alarm for every sleeping area. These smoke alarms pick up on smoke as soon as a fire ignites, giving your family as much time as necessary to escape and call for help. In order to guarantee that they are working sufficiently, change the batteries in your smoke alarms and test them routinely. In addition to smoke alarms, putting a carbon monoxide detector in a central location inside of your home can help to also notify your family of the presence of dangerous fumes in your home.

Enforce Safe Practices

Educating your children about basic fire safety can help to keep everyone aware and alert. Inform them of the dangers of playing with fire and keep items such as matches or lighters out of their reach. Finally, talking through what to do in the event of a fire and establishing a meeting place outside as a family can help to keep everyone calm during an emergency.

SERVPRO Cares

8/16/2019 (Permalink)

It has always been important for owners Jim and Trish Wall to give back to the community. They were thrilled to be a part of St. Vincent's Villa Pancake Breakfast with Santa, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus on Saturday, December 8th.

Our SERVPRO reached out to friends, family, vendors and to the public, and boy did they respond! We collected $1,350 which was matched by the company for a total donation of $2,700 for gift cards for the children of St. Vincent's, a comprehensive residential treatment facility for children, ages 5-14 operated by Catholic Charities of Baltimore. Our generous donors had their names written on ornaments placed on a tree which was presented to St. Vincent's along with gift cards and small gifts by our festively dressed marketing staff, and our very own SERVPRO Storm-troopers.

As you can imagine, the Storm troopers were a big hit with the children. According to Trish, "This morning was truly one of the most special and rewarding experiences I have ever had. Watching those kids’ faces was priceless and getting to interact with them to make them smile was amazing. Thank you all for making this a possibility and I really hope we can make it an annual event."

Owner’s Corner 3rd Quarter 2019

8/12/2019 (Permalink)

This time of year, the more than 1700 franchises from the United States, Canada, and even Puerto Rico assemble for SERVPRO’s annual convention. Joining together as one unit, we learned, networked, shared advice from experience, and listened to the stories of one another’s success in order to grow and promote SERVPRO’s strong reputation in the restoration business.

With this year being the 50th anniversary of the convention, the SERVPRO origin story was shared, detailing its creation in 1967 in Sacramento, California as well as its founders, Ted and Doris Isaacson. Learning about how the franchise was built from its roots to the $2.4 billion franchise system that it is today, was inspirational. It all started with the talented Isaacson couple, who handed the business to their children and allowed it to flourish.

Initially a painting business, Ted and Doris eventually shifted SERVPRO’s focus and decided to franchise it as a carpet and drapery cleaning company from there. Though the shifting and franchising process required plenty of work and hardship, it has ultimately paid off, as SERVPRO has expanded its impact internationally and now offers various restoration services beyond carpets and drapery cleaning, including general cleanup, reconstruction, and asbestos management services.

We can attest to SERVPRO’s dramatic change over the years, as Jim and I enjoyed our 10 year anniversary this May and much has changed since our time began. This change has been positive, as the franchise has strived to remain up to date in its ability to handle the changing expectations of customers in today’s market. This March, a surprising press release brought forth perhaps the most colossal changes:

By Jaewon Kang and Miriam Gottfried

March 18, 2019 3:12pm ET

Blackstone Group BX -0.11% ?? LP is nearing a deal to acquire cleaning- and emergency-restoration services provider SERVPRO Industries Inc. for more than $1 billion including debt, according to people familiar with the matter.

The private-equity has emerged as the winner in an auction for SERVPRO run by investment bank Harris Williams & Co., the people said.

SERVPRO, of Gallatin, Tenn., operates a network of more than 1,700 franchises that specializes in fire, water, mold and other cleanup services for residential and commercial customers. The closely held company was founded in 1967 by Doris Isaacson and her late husband, Ted Isaacson, as a painting business and is currently run by their eldest child, Susan Steen.

In light of Ted Isaacson’s passing in 2017, two out of the three Isaacson children decided to retire from leadership positions within SERVPRO in order to enjoy time with loved ones. Blackstone swung in from where the Isaacsons left off, generating mixed feelings from SERVPRO employees concerning the future of the franchise. However, after attending the convention and learning about Blackstone’s plans, we are optimistic and excited about what this new ownership will mean for Team Wall’s customers in the years to come.

Lastly, we would like to recognize the members of our team, stronger than 70 in number, and their achievements. Thanks to these achievements, our franchise was ranked in the top 20 out of all 1700 franchises for 2018, making this the fourth year in a row of achieving this recognition. This humbling accomplishment is all thanks to our team’s endless devotion to excellence. However, this wouldn’t be possible without our incredibly loyal and supportive customers who have trusted us over the years. Thank you so much!

We are so elated and optimistic about our future as a franchise and cannot wait to share this journey with all of you!

With thanks,

Jim and Trish Wall

ERP Profile

8/12/2019 (Permalink)

Statistically speaking, up to 50% of businesses fail to completely recover after natural disasters. For the most part, the businesses that are able to recover had formulated an emergency plan beforehand. Similar to an insurance policy, this preparedness strategy can decrease anxiety before a disaster and promote an overall calm attitude through confidence that your business won’t suffer too much damage.

Though there are many different kinds of natural disasters, they can all be dangerous and equally important to pay attention to. Therefore, it is important to prepare for all of these types despite their size.

To help you to put an emergency plan in place for your home or business, SERVPRO has created Emergency Ready Profile (ERP) app for tablets and smartphones. This free app is easy to use and will be helpful in the creation and management of your own emergency plan, keeping it simple and easy to understand.

The app makes it easy to complete the formulating process, taking virtually no time at all. It also eliminates steps that would take time by verifying which SERVPRO you prefer and allowing for more rapid completion of beginning authorization work, preserving your time and money.

An added perk of the app is immediate access to information including shut-off valve locations, important areas, and contact information during emergencies, ensuring that you will be “ready for whatever happens”.

Job of the Quarter Q2

8/12/2019 (Permalink)

This section of our newsletter is usually devoted to describing a specific job we completed that generated an overwhelming sense of satisfaction and achievement in our team. Upon reviewing the completed jobs of 2019’s second quarter, we came to the conclusion that instead of just one job in particular, it should be the entirety of a new branch of our franchise that has marked great pride to our team.

Ken Matejek, an owner/operator, represents SERVPRO with great pride and believes in our brand wholeheartedly. Being able to help people across the country get back on their feet after disaster strikes is what he enjoys most and finds the most gratifying. Deciding to leave Massachusetts was bittersweet, but a necessary leap in order to focus on doing what he loved most. Joining Team Wall allowed Ken’s passion for helping those in need to become a reality.

Alongside members of the travel storm team, Ken has aided in restorative services across the country since the partnership was formed earlier in the year. Examples of these services include February’s deep freeze in Chicago, spring flooding in Minnesota and Iowa during March, microburst flooding in a small section of Central New Jersey, and July’s flooding in DC. These services have contributed to helping more than 115 homeowners across the country make it “Like it never even happened." For Ken’s willingness to take a chance, taking part in our team and building a residential storm response team that has proven to be beneficial nationwide, we are so thankful. We’re excited to feature more stories of SERVPRO heroes in the future.

Roof Damage Due to Summer Sun

8/5/2019 (Permalink)

As the summer sun’s intense rays beat down upon you and you long for relief from the heat, the last thing you’re probably thinking about is the damage that the sun is inflicting upon your business’ roof. The sun’s harmful rays can lead to serious damage over time if you, as a business owner, do not monitor the condition of your roof regularly. Understanding which types of damage to look for can help you to avoid serious deterioration of your business’ roof before it is too late to repair.

First, it is important to understand what causes roof damage during the summer season. Long summer days feature an increased number of hours with sunlight compared to the three other seasons, which prolongs the exposure of roofs to the sun’s harmful UV rays. This exposure can deplete the oil out of the wood from which the roof is made. Another cause is a phenomenon known as thermal shock. Since temperatures are high throughout the day and cool at night, the rapid change in temperature causes the materials of the roof to expand and contract. The materials weaken under these conditions, resulting in a damaged roof over time.

There are three types of damage that you should watch for when surveying your business’ roof for heat damage, the first of which being decay. Deformed, rotting, or broken shingles are common signs of decay. However, decay is most common for older roofs, so if your roof is relatively new, it should not be a major concern. The second is warping of the roof’s materials, such as bent or curled shingles. While this damage is not immediately dangerous to your business, it will increase in severity after time. The third and final type of damage to look for is cracked shingles. When shingles curl, tension builds, which can cause shingles to crack. This type of damage requires immediate repair by an expert in order to best protect your business’ roof from sun exposure-related destruction.

Summer Weather Calls For Humidity… and Mold

8/5/2019 (Permalink)

We all know that mold growth is a common concern after flooding or heavy rainfall, but mold can grow any time there is an abundance of water in an area if it isn’t eliminated quickly. The summer season is often associated with heat, but humid weather is also prevalent during the summer due to an increased amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. Moisture from the humidity can spawn mold growth if your business doesn’t adequately deal with it. While carpets and floors are usually the areas that sustain water damage during flooding, moisture due to humidity is commonly found on interior walls and doors, as water vapor can form on these surfaces in the event of high humidity levels indoors, creating the perfect conditions for mold growth.

Since removing mold is an arduous task, taking steps to protect your business from mold growth before it starts would be beneficial. Among these steps is controlling the humidity levels within the building, ensuring that they always stay below 60 percent during the summer. If humidity is especially prominent in the area in which your business is located, using a dehumidifier may help to maintain low humidity levels. If any condensation appears on the surfaces of walls or doors, make sure that you clean and dry the area as soon as possible using a clean rag or sponge. Keeping the windows and doors of your business closed while the air conditioning is turned on is a safe practice in order to prevent any outside humidity from entering the building.

Though you can take preventative measures to protect your business from mold, there is still a chance that it may develop. If this happens, don’t panic. Contact SERVPRO to analyze the situation and completely eliminate the mold. In the time being, you can regulate airflow and maintain low levels of humidity throughout your building to prevent it from spreading. With this understanding of how mold can grow in humidity, your business can best protect against mold during the hot and humid days of summer.

Protecting Your Business From Summer Storms

7/29/2019 (Permalink)

Forming as a result of moisture and rising warm air in the atmosphere, severe storms are a common threat to property throughout the summer months. Along with rain, thunder, and lightning, summer storms can also produce large hail and gusty winds. As a business owner, you may be worried about the danger that these storms can pose to your property, and rightfully so. Major structural damage can be done by severe storms, with wind and hail shattering windows and pounding upon roofs. In order to avoid the hefty cost required to fix structural damage, it would be beneficial to develop a plan to utilize during emergencies that will limit the amount of damage imposed upon your business.

Before you begin to formulate that plan, however, make sure that your business has invested in business insurance. Covering the expenses of any property damage caused directly by the storm, business insurance can lift much of the financial burden. Taking matters into your own hands, a regular examination of the condition of your business’ roof as well as removing debris left by past storms in your gutters can prevent the damage from worsening. Impact-resistant glass can also be installed in an effort to prevent windows from shattering and sending glass flying across the inside of your business, potentially in the path of valuables. If you do have any valuables located near windows, be sure to move them to safer areas during storms just in case windows shatter. Safer areas can include any place that is elevated above the floor and distant from windows. Finally, keep outdoor equipment safe by fastening it to something stable.

Monitoring weather forecasts is a beneficial practice, especially if your business is located in an area that regularly experiences severe weather, as you will know when to expect storms and be able to prepare for them. With these guidelines in mind, you can protect your business as best you can from severe storms throughout the summer.