Recent Posts

Surviving Summer Storms

7/15/2019 (Permalink)

Parts of Frederick, Maryland and the nation’s capital were slammed with thunderstorms carrying heavy rain over the course of this past 4th of July holiday weekend. Photos of vehicles underwater surfaced during the storm, illustrating flooded roadways and the severity of the flooding in the area. Even the basement of The White House began to flood, which can only mean that home and business owners in the area suffered an increased amount of damage. The reason as to why these heavy thunderstorms are so prevalent during the summer is the combination of atmospheric conditions that is commonly present during the summer months: moisture and rising warm air. This combination creates prime conditions for thunderstorms to form and it is important to understand what kind of damage summer thunderstorms can inflict upon your home or business.


Thunderstorms often carry lightning, which can strike your home or business during a storm. Direct lightning strikes can lead to the ignition of electrical fires inside the building, tears in the roof and attic of the building, and the loss of shingles or gutters. If electrical appliances such as computers and refrigerators are plugged into outlets during a thunderstorm and lightning strikes the house, they can be harmed or possibly destroyed.

Flash Flooding

Thunderstorms can carry tremendous amounts of rain in addition to lightning, which can fall quickly and flood areas in its path. Sediment and mud can be carried by the flood water and therefore contaminate any objects with which it may come into contact inside of your home or business. If the flood water is not removed hastily, mold can grow and spread to other areas. It is helpful to understand the most common items damaged by flood water, including flooring, drywall, and carpet, in order to know where to look for water damage after a flood. Be sure to also check whether or not the flood water has shifted the building off of its structural foundation. If so, that can indicate that the building has suffered more serious damage.

How To Deal with the Damage

After the storm and once it is safe to enter areas that have flooded, look for any visible signs of lightning or water damage. Turn on light switches and check electrical breakers for functionality to find out if the building has endured any electrical damage. Keep an eye out for visible water damage on carpets, flooring, or walls and remove the water as soon as possible in order to protect them from the growth of mold. As you begin to remove water and clean up after the storm, turn off all water and electrical systems in order to prevent a reaction between water and electricity that could inflict further damage.

What to Do When Your Washing Machine Floods

7/15/2019 (Permalink)

Suppose you enter your laundry room one day to find that the floor is covered in water from your washing machine. As horrific as this hypothetical situation may be, it is important to recognize that washing machines can and most likely will flood at some point in time, so knowing how to manage the flooding is absolutely necessary. Hoses as well as seals located inside of the washing machine are usually to blame when a washing machine breaks and floods. When this occurs, flood water can spread to surrounding carpets and walls, which can easily be damaged by the water if it is not removed quickly.

Turn off the water and unplug the washer immediately after you discover that the washing machine is flooding in order to stifle the flow of water and prevent the water and electricity from reacting with one another while cleaning up. Before you begin cleaning, take any clothes that were inside of the washing machine when it began to flood out of the washer. Use towels, a mop, or a wet water vacuum depending on what you have available in order to eliminate any water. Dry the affected area using fans or dehumidifiers and if the weather is mild and dry. If carpets or drywall were destroyed by water damage during the flood, replace these items with fresh carpet and drywall. Disinfect the affected area before you return to regular use of the washing machine.

In order to ensure that you don’t discover a broken washing machine in your laundry room once more, avoid pouring too much detergent into the washing machine. Using an unnecessarily large amount of detergent for a load of laundry can result in the formation of an excessive amount of suds that can overflow and cause the washing machine to flood. If you notice any signs of corrosion on the washing machine’s hoses, be cautious when running loads of laundry until they can be replaced or repaired, as the machine can flood of the hoses break. Finally, monitor the state of the washing machine’s drain line because if the drain clogs, the risk of the machine to flood will be enhanced.

How to Prevent Grease Fires

7/8/2019 (Permalink)

It’s common knowledge that “grease is the word”, but did you know that grease is also a common starter of kitchen fires? From the moment they begin to burn, grease fires can grow rapidly, so it is important to understand how to prevent them. By understanding what constitutes safe methods as well as dangerous methods when cooking with hot oil, you can best protect your home from the destructive effects of grease fires.

Safe Methods

Remove any combustible items from the cooking space before you begin cooking. Cookbooks and paper towels are among the combustible items that, if a grease fire were to ignite, could catch fire and potentially increase the size and severity of the grease fire. While cooking, monitor the cooking space as closely as possible, as grease fires most commonly break out when the cooking space is left unattended. If you intend on drinking any cocktails before the meal, be sure to save them until you have finished cooking. Cooking while under the influence can lead to misjudgment, which could result in dangerous cooking and the ignition of a grease fire. Even if you practice safe cooking habits, the risk of a grease fire starting is always present, so keep a metal lid and baking soda handy when cooking, as they could be used to smother the fire. Keep in mind, though, that you should only rely on baking soda when dealing with a small grease fire.

Dangerous Methods

Refrain from throwing or tossing food into hot oil, as doing so can cause the oil to splatter across the cooking surface and ignite a grease fire. Make sure to gently and carefully place the food into the hot oil instead to prevent the oil from splashing. It is also important if you’re cooking frozen food in oil to allow that food to thaw before cooking. In the event that a grease fire ignites while you’re cooking, abstain from throwing any type of liquid onto the flame. While it is a common reaction to throw water onto any other fire, throwing water or any other liquid onto a grease fire can instead cause the fire to grow.

What Causes Pipes to Leak?

7/8/2019 (Permalink)

Water damage can occur as a result of flooding in homes. But what causes that flooding? A common origin is pipes that leak. Water damage can be destructive, so it is beneficial to be able to understand the reasons as to why pipes leak.

Eating away at pipes, corrosion can cause pipes to rust, break, and therefore leak. Make sure to watch for discolored water coming from the pipes and deformed pipes, since these can indicate corrosion. Any rusting on the pipe itself as well as other visible signs of corrosion can also imply this type of damage. Avoid pipe corrosion by surveying the condition of pipes before buying a home in order to make sure that they are in good shape. You can also have the pH of your water tested by professionals and make an effort to stop leakage using satisfactory clamps until professionals can sufficiently fix the damaged pipes.

To bind water connectors, seals are adhered to the pipes when installed. With age and usage, the seals can break and therefore cause flooding. If you see any puddles of water forming on the ground beneath a seal or condensation on the outside of the pipes, the seals have likely been damaged. In order to protect seals from this damage, be sure to run water through your pipes regularly so that the don’t dry out and keep your eyes peeled for any of the aforementioned indicators of damage. If you don’t run water through the pipes regularly, the dried pipes can cause seals to crack and eventually break. Ask a friend or neighbor to run the water in your home in the event that you must leave town for a prolonged period of time, as doing so will protect the pipes and seals from damage.

Causing pipes to contract and expand, extreme changes in temperature can cause pressure buildups in pipes. This increased pressure results in pipes rupturing and leaking in response. Pay close attention to the price of your water bill, as leakage can skyrocket the price. While it may sound odd, monitoring the smell your drains can also be beneficial, as a musty smell emanating from the drain can signify leaky pipes. Finally, if you notice any sudden changes in water pressure or flow, it may also be pointing to leaky pipes. Open cabinet doors, allow warmth to reach the pipes, and keep water flowing through the pipes in order to prevent your pipes from freezing during the cold months. Setting your thermostat to a certain, fixed temperature may also prove to maintain the good condition of your pipes.

Preventing Water Damage To Carpets

7/1/2019 (Permalink)

Preventing Water Damage To Carpets

How Can Carpets Be Damaged by Water?

Water damage to carpets is most commonly the result of plumbing issues such as leaky pipes and weather effects such as flooding or leaking after the buildup of water in areas that store water during storms such as attics or basements.

Warning Signs

Discoloration of the carpet is a visible sign of water damage. However, water damage can impact carpet without visible indicators. For example, another common sign of water damage is a putrid, musty odor that will not vanish after cleaning. Illness of those living in the house as well as amplified allergy symptoms may also signify the presence of water damage to carpets in a home.

Why You Should Act Quickly

Mold and mildew will grow in the damaged carpet the longer it remains untreated. In this case, the carpet will need to be completely removed, as mold and mildew cannot be destroyed through simple cleaning. The carpet padding and subfloor underneath the carpet can also be damaged if the area is not hastily cleaned. Finally, mold and mildew can cause detrimental effects to the health of those living in the home, as they can infiltrate the home’s ventilation system.

Precautions to Take

Any moisture in the carpet will need to be removed using a wet water vacuum. Surrounding furniture should also be checked to ensure that they have not also been contaminated. To prevent further mold growth, it may also be beneficial to scrub other carpets and walls in the room that was affected. Dry out the room and create better ventilation by opening windows and utilizing fans or a dehumidifier. To treat a specific area, sprinkle baking soda on top of the area and vacuum. Steam-cleaning the area will also help to destroy dead mold spores. When in doubt, call SERVPRO to guarantee a thorough and sufficient elimination of water damage in your carpet.

Preventing Fire Damage in Your Home

7/1/2019 (Permalink)

Preventing Fire Damage in Your Home

How Can Fires Start in Homes?

Several objects that are commonly found inside homes can cause fires including hair spray as well as other aerosol cans, shaving cream, hand sanitizer, and rubbing alcohol among others. It is necessary to be aware that these items are flammable in order to practice caution when handling them.

Electrical Dangers

Blown sockets as well as hot plugs and sockets can increase the risk of a fire igniting in the home. Flames can result from exploded wires that spark, however, a flame does not need to be present for there to be a chance of a fire starting.

Proceed With Caution When…

  1. Smoking Indoors

Careless smoking while indoors is the number one reason as to why fires start in homes, so extreme caution must be taken when smoking indoors. It is important to completely put out all cigarettes. Also, refrain from falling asleep with a cigarette still burning and using improper ashtrays.

  1. Burning Candles Indoors

While many of us burn candles inside regularly, it is still important to monitor them in order to protect against candle flames catching any other objects on fire. Candle flames can be blown by drafts such as those originating from open windows. If those drafts reach flammable objects, it can result in a larger and more dangerous fire. Also keep candles in proper candle holders in order to better constrict the flame.

Avoid These Combinations

Avoid placing certain household objects beside one another in order to decrease the risk of fire. Electrical appliances and water should not be placed within close proximity to one another, nor should grease be kept by an open flame or linens/clothes by a heater. Make sure to prevent flames from spreading to other objects from fireplaces by ensuring that it’s protected by a screen or glass doors.

5 Tips For Preventing Fires In Your Home

  1. Change out frayed wires for new ones
  2. Check the batteries in your smoke detectors every month
  3. Check heating devices in your home regularly
  4. Monitor objects placed on top of hot surfaces
  5. Store a fire extinguisher somewhere handy

Emergency Ready Profile App

6/28/2019 (Permalink)

Close to 50% of businesses never completely recover from a disaster event. Most of the businesses that did make a full recovery from these disasters had a prepared readiness plan in advance. Pre-Planning can serve as an insurance that provides not only the peace of mind in case a disaster event does occur, but also lessen the mental taxation that comes from the fear of an event happening and what that means for you and your business.

There are a multitude of different types of disasters that don’t immediately come to mind, and all of them are just as important as the other. From a seemingly insignificant water leak to a large fire or flooding, there’s no real disadvantage to being as ready as possible.

With that being said SERVPRO has developed the Emergency Ready Profile (ERP) app for both mobile smart phones and tablets. This is a very useful tool that is completely free at no cost to you, and provides many intuitive and simplified processes which allow you to construct and maintain your ERP with the least amount of stress and confusion as possible.

The process is very streamlined and doesn’t take much time at all to fill out and will not take you away from your important projects. The ERP also establishes your SERVPRO of your choice, which simplifies the steps of authorizing work to begin on the damage relief which can save you both time and money.

However the most convenient aspect of the profile is having a quick built-in reference for intricate facility specs such as shut-off valve locations as well as other areas of priority, and priority contact information which gives you immediate access to information during an emergency so you can be “Ready for whatever happens.”

Flooding in Iowa

6/22/2019 (Permalink)

After 13 inches of rain fell over a 2-day period in Burlington, Iowa this May, SERVPRO crews traveled to the area in order to remediate the flooding. The storms resulted in much more than heavy rain, as large hail, high winds, and tornadoes swept through the area as well. The Missouri River flooded as well, which only added to the extensive flooding across the area. Since an unheard of 25 inches of snow fell in Des Moines, Iowa this February, the subsequent major snow melt restricted the ground from being able to absorb May’s inundation of rainfall. The rain water therefore spread across major roadways and flooded homes.

Approximately 30 job files were received by SERVPRO to remediate the flooding, so 3 crews were sent to do the job. Various types of damage can be caused to homes by flooding, including the contamination of drywall and the destruction of support beams. The flooding can even cause damage to the foundation of homes, which can be very serious. More specifically, flooding can also lead to wet finished basements as well as wet content, walls, and flooring. The probability of mold growth is increased during the first 24 hours after contamination. Therefore, restoration crews had to act fast.

The crews’ ability to help return the lives of those affected by the flooding back to normal motivated them to travel to Iowa, as it arose in them a certain feeling of satisfaction from being able to help so many people.

Broken Pipes in Chicago

6/22/2019 (Permalink)

SERVPRO crews traveled to Chicago, Illinois after five days of subzero temperatures hit the city in February. Aside from extremely low temperatures, the deep freeze also caused the Chicago River to completely freeze. Shortly afterward, temperatures soared from lows of -50 degrees to highs in the 30s, 40s, and even 50s. This resulted in broken pipes for hundreds of homeowners throughout the city. Although this is a common phenomenon during the winter, the extreme and rapid change in temperature elevated the occurrence of burst pipes for Chicago homeowners this year.

The negative temperatures caused pipes to freeze over, so when the temperature rose, the pipes thawed, burst, and resulted in flooding. This occurs when water inside the pipes expands, causing pressure to build inside of the pipes. Too much pressure causes the pipes to burst.

Burst pipes can cause flooding in basements as well as water damage to carpets and walls. Mold commonly grows in flood-damaged homes or damp areas, as the moisture allows for mold to grow and multiply.

To protect against mold, objects that cannot be cleaned, such as drywall or ceiling tiles, should be removed, while items such as glass or ceramic may be cleaned. Approximately 30 job files were received by SERVPRO and 3 crews were required to combat the issue. The excitement of preparing for such a restoration and traveling to a different part of the country motivated the crews to make the journey to Chicago and restore the homes of those affected by the burst pipes.

Happy 10 Year Anniversary!

5/1/2019 (Permalink)

Why SERVPRO Happy 10 Year Anniversary! Our SERVPRO family!

May 2019 marks a very big milestone for the Wall Family. 10 years as SERVPRO owners and operators!

Many people don’t know the personal journey behind our SERVPRO franchises and many more don’t realize that SERVPROs are independently owned and operated.

There are over 1800 SERVPRO franchises throughout the United States and Canada. Our family runs and operates three of these offices: Hunt Valley, Harford County, and New Cumberland/Carlisle, PA. It’s been a path of quick growth and an incredible amount of dedication and hard work by an entire team of people.

We thought sharing our SERVPRO story might be appropriate for our 10-year anniversary. So, here’s how we got here…

Jim and I met while working in Philadelphia, PA at a public accounting firm, KPMG. We were engaged quickly… 6 months! And, at the same time, left our public accounting firm jobs to pursue other career paths. Newlywed life was good and our jobs were solid. That is until the recession rocked our country to the core. We found ourselves laid off (both of us), living with Jim’s parents, and pregnant with our first child. Life never goes the way you plan it, does it?

An opportunity to open a SERVPRO franchise in Hunt Valley, MD presented itself and we are thankful every day for taking the chance. SERVPRO corporate provides tremendous support to their franchisees and their core values aligned directly with ours. It was a great fit, and luckily due to the optimism youth can bring, we took the risk, moved our life to Northern Baltimore County, rolled up our sleeves, and got to work.

This is very much the abbreviated version and those 10 years hold a lot of trials and tribulations along our path to growth. It is ultimately the solid team we have been so lucky to build that has helped us grow to be among the top 20 of 1800 SERVPRO franchises. Consistently. Year after year.

We want to take the opportunity to thank all of you directly for your continued support through out the last decade. Ultimately, if it wasn’t for a customer, we would not have the opportunity to be a business. Thank you very much for giving us a chance to earn your business not just once, but for a lifetime.

Many thanks and looking forward to another great 10 years on this SERVPRO journey!

Jim and Trish