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Preventing Mold and Mildew, Best Practices

7/6/2020 (Permalink)

Image shows a diagram of a bathroom exhaust fan and how it works. Installing an exhaust fan in your bathroom, or making sure your current one works efficiently is a great step to preventing mold growth.

Indoor mold has the power to damage building materials and finishes.  Like weeds, mold spreads, growing on surfaces like walls, ceilings, and tile grout. Fortunately, mold growth can be stopped and SERVPRO of St. Augustine can help you determine how to prevent mold growth in the future.

Mold Damage

Mold loves moisture and cannot thrive without it. Mold often develops in areas where there has been water damage from a broken pipe, leaking window or roof, or after a basement flood. Many homes develop mold issues in bathrooms without adequate ventilation and closets that share a wall with those bathrooms. Mold causes the deterioration of ceiling tiles, grout, caulking around tubs and showers, and it destroys any type of paperboard quickly.

How to Stop Mold

The key to eradicating mold indoors is to cut off its moisture supply. Mold thrives in moist, humid conditions. Eliminate those conditions and you can stop mold growth and prevent its return. Quick extraction of flood water is the first step. Whether it’s seepage from foundation cracks, a leaky roof or a broken water line, that standing water needs to be removed quickly.

After any standing water is removed, the drying and dehumidification process can begin. Remember, it’s all about removing moisture, including excess moisture in the air as well. Dehumidifiers and fans can be a great help during this part of the mold removal process.

Area rugs will need to be removed, cleaned and dried and wall-to-wall carpeting may need professional cleaning to remove all traces of mold and musty odors. Depending on the situation, furniture, draperies and other upholstered items also may need cleaning. Remove any cardboard boxes that have been contaminated with mold and only transfer their contents after everything has been inspected and treated for mold growth.

In the bathroom: For mold issues in bathrooms, make sure the room has a working exhaust fan (which usually installed in the ceiling near the light fixture). Run the exhaust fan whenever anyone takes a shower or a bath to reduce as much humidity (moisture) from the air. Wipe down bath and shower tiles after use to keep moisture to a minimum and inhibit the growth of mold.

Contact the mold remediation professionals at SERVPRO of St. Augustine; with more than 39 years of experience, we have the expertise to deal with mold safely. You won’t have to worry about mold spreading to other areas of your home or it affecting your family and pets during the remediation process.

Mold vs. Mildew

6/24/2020 (Permalink)

Image shows mold growth behind a sink and countertop area, once the counter and sink have been moved. Mold can hide in plain sight. Look what was behind the counter area of this office's break room, due to a slow plumbing leak that went unnoticed.

Mold vs. Mildew

While there are many differences between the two fungi, mold and mildew both develop and thrive in moist conditions. A leaking roof, a window that doesn’t seal properly, and a basement with water damage caused by a broken pipe can all lead to the growth of mildew and mold. In order to reduce the risk of health effects and damage to building materials, mildew and mold in the home or a business need immediate mold remediation.

Mildew vs. Mold

Plain and simple, mildew and mold are fungi. Fungi can live in many different types of habitats such as in soil, on vegetation, and on surfaces exposed to moist conditions like a wall or ceiling after flood damage. Fungi reproduce by spores and quickly can spread.

What is mildew? Mildew is mold in its early stage and often the term is used interchangeably with the word mold. That whitish-gray, powdery substance sometimes seen on the leaves of a plant is mildew. Mildew is a surface fungi that grows on organic material like plants and food as well as wood or fibrous items like:

  • Drywall
  • Insulation
  • Cardboard/paperboard
  • Wallpaper
  • Fabric

How is it different from Mold? Mold ranges in color from green to gray, brownish and black. It may appear fuzzy, flat or even slimy. Green slimy mold may develop in the damp, shady areas of decks and even vinyl siding, while indoors, mold can develop on grout, tile and other surfaces found in and around bathrooms and other areas with high humidity and inadequate ventilation.

Pro Tip: Slimy mold on decks, fences and siding often can be removed using a pressure washer. Always wear proper safety protection when dealing with mold and working with tools.

Dangers of Mildew and Mold

In a battle between mildew vs. mold, which presents more problems and danger? It depends on several factors.

The powdery mildew often found on the leaves of a houseplant, typically poses little danger to you, but it can harm the plant. However, anyone that suffers from mold allergies should avoid touching that mildew. If contact occurs, wash hands thoroughly and never touch your face/eyes/nose after coming in contact with mildew.

The Need for Mold Remediation

Mold and mildew, if ignored, can cause health effects and physical damage to a home or business. Mold found anywhere in a building, such as behind drywall, on insulation, around windows and along basement walls has developed because there is a moisture problem. To avoid further damage, it’s essential to locate and correct the source of the moisture and then remove all traces of mold.

Any home or business that’s suffered any type of water damage (from firefighting efforts, roof leak, burst pipe or flood) needs a professional assessment quickly. Contact SERVPRO of St. Augustine immediately after any water disaster; mold can begin developing within 24 to 48 hours.

Protect Yourself After a Fire in Your Home or Business

6/19/2020 (Permalink)

Image shows green van parked in front of a burnt apartment building. SERVPRO of St. Augustine responds to an apartment fire.

The aftermath of a fire is ruinous. The most important thing after a fire is the safety of your family and pets. Once everyone is safe and secure, it’s time to work a plan for what to do after fire damages your property. SERVPRO of St. Augustine has created this checklist of safety precautions and more to begin recovery after fire damage.

What to Do After a Fire

Call your insurance company immediately after a fire. Following ironing the details with your insurance company, contact SERVPRO of St. Augustine so the fire damage cleanup process can begin quickly. Make sure to notify your mortgage company of the fire as well. If you’re not sure that the home is structurally safe, have it inspected by a certified structural engineer or building inspector before going near.

  • Take pictures of all exterior damage, noting broken windows or entrances that are no longer secure.
  • Make arrangements to board-up broken windows and secure the property during the cleanup and restoration process.
  • Shut off propane tank systems and make an appointment for it to be inspected for safety.
  • Do not attempt to reconnect utilities on your own.
  • Be aware that rodents, snakes, or other animals may have entered your home.

Inside the home:

  • Don’t flip on electrical switches in any room with standing water from firefighting efforts.
  • Don’t enter any room if you hear popping or see sparking.
  • Turn off the power at the main electrical panel.
  • Try not to touch anything covered with soot; it’s easy to transfer it to other areas of the home, making the cleaning process more difficult.
  • Wear closed-toe shoes or boots, long sleeves, long pants and gloves to protect against soot and any other contaminants as you go through the home.
  • Try to locate important papers and other documents that you’ll need.
  • Handle burned money as little as possible. You can take its remains to a Regional Federal Reserve Bank for replacement.
  • Begin taking inventory of the building damage and all damaged items.
  • Begin saving receipts for any expenses incurred after the fire. These may be needed when filing insurance claims.

Fire Damage Cleanup and Remediation

SERVPRO of St. Augustine has the expertise as well as the right products and equipment to safely and effectively clean and restore a home after a fire. Fire damage includes more than just items burned. There will be soot, smoke, and water damage as well.

A professional cleaning team will assess the damage to flooring, drywall, cabinets, furniture, and more before developing a plan for a thorough cleanup. Additionally, mold growth may be a concern after rooms and items have been saturated with water during the firefighting efforts.

Items that may need to be cleaned for soot and smoke removal include but are not limited to:

  • Carpets and area rugs
  • Flooring: hardwood, tile, and vinyl
  • Woodwork and other hard surfaces like countertops and cabinetry
  • Electronics and appliances
  • Furniture and upholstery
  • Draperies, linens, and clothing
  • Books, artwork, papers, and documents

After a fire, let SERVPRO of St. Augustine tackle the tough jobs so you have peace of mind that your home will be cleaned and restored quickly, safely, and correctly. Call us 24/7/365 at 904-829-0665 for any fire, smoke, or soot damage that you might experience in your home or business.

Getting Prepared

6/19/2020 (Permalink)

Hurricanes can pose a serious threat to both your life and property. These natural disasters produce winds ranging from 74 to 200 miles per hour. A storm with that much power can cause catastrophic damage and severe flooding. Weather can be unpredictable, so it’s vital to have a hurricane safety plan in place for your business or facility. Here’s everything you need to know about hurricane preparedness:

Creating Your Hurricane Safety Plan

If you are on or near the east or gulf coasts of the U.S. it's important that you plan a safe evacuation route that will take you 20-50 miles inland. Contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter, and ask for the community’s emergency preparedness plan. In addition, take the time to discuss your plan with any family members, friends, or coworkers so that everyone is on the same page if this natural disaster happens to strike.

Stock up on disaster supplies

Don’t wait until the storm hits to get all the products and supplies you need to stay safe. Start now. Here’s a list of basic emergency supplies to have on hand:

Prep the building

No matter if it’s a big or small facility, making sure the property is well-equipped before the storm hits is essential. You can do so by bringing any items that are susceptible to strong winds inside, such as hanging signs, loose equipment or furniture, etc. Reduce the danger of flying glass by boarding the windows with fitted plywood. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking. Store merchandise and inventoried supplies as high as possible off the floor, especially goods that could be in short supply after the storm. Prevent severe roof damage by installing straps or additional clips to securely fasten the roof to the frame. Be sure to stay away from anything with glass during the storm.

Know the protocol

The National Weather Service forecasts, updates, and directs the public during a national disaster via TV, radio, cell phones, and computers. Your local authorities will also issue statements if need be. Be sure to stay in the loop, and follow whatever instructions are made to avoid danger. If an evacuation order is given, leave as soon as possible. Avoid flooded roads and watch for washed-out bridges. Secure all the rooms. Unplug appliances and turn off the electricity and the main water valve. If time permits, elevate furniture to protect it from flooding or move it to a higher floor. Take your pre-assembled emergency supplies and warm, protective clothing, cash and credit cards, rain boots, and copies of important papers, including bank accounts, insurance, and household and business inventory records.

Getting back to business post-hurricane

After the storm is over, it’s time to assess the damage. Enter the building carefully and keep an eye out for anything that could be harmful and unsafe. Wear sturdy shoes when walking through debris, and use gloves when moving it out of the way. Be diligent with your search. Possible hazards in your facility may include:

  • Natural gas: If you smell gas or hear a hissing or blowing sound, ventilate the area and leave immediately. Turn off the main gas valve from the outside, if you can, and call the gas company. Do not smoke or use oil, gas lanterns, candles, or torches for lighting inside a damaged facility until you are sure there is no leaking gas or other flammable materials present.
  • Sparks, broken or frayed wires: Check the electrical system unless you are wet, standing in water, or unsure of your safety. If possible, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If the situation is unsafe, leave the building and call for help. Do not turn on the lights until you are sure they are safe to use. You may want to have an electrician inspect your wiring.
  • Appliances: If appliances are wet, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. Then, unplug appliances and let them dry out. Have appliances checked by a service professional before using them again. Also, have the electrical system checked by a qualified electrician before turning the power back on.
  • Water and sewage systems: If pipes are damaged, turn off the main water valve. Check with local authorities before using any water as the water could be contaminated. Pump out wells and have the water tested by authorities before drinking. Do not flush toilets until you know that sewage lines are intact.

Be sure to check all the spaces damage could be hiding. Open cabinets, but be alert for objects inside that may fall out. Clean up chemical spills and disinfect items that may have been contaminated by raw sewage, bacteria, or chemicals. Clean salvageable items and store them away from the damage.

Safety still matters

Keep in mind that recovering from a disaster is usually a gradual process. Above anything else, safety is still a primary issue, as is the mental and physical wellbeing of your employees. If assistance is available, knowing how to access it makes the process faster and less stressful. Your first concern after a disaster is your co-worker’s health and safety. You need to consider possible safety issues and monitor employee health and well-being.

However, don’t forget to monitor your own health. Be aware of exhaustion. Don’t try to do too much at once. Set priorities and pace yourself. Get enough rest. Here are some general tips to keep in mind:

  • Drink plenty of clean water
  • Eat well
  • Wear sturdy work boots and gloves
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and clean water often when working in and around debris

New safety issues

It’s important to be aware of new safety issues created by the disaster. Watch for washed-out roads, contaminated buildings, contaminated water, gas leaks, broken glass, mold, damaged electrical wiring, and slippery floors. Inform local authorities about health and safety issues, including chemical spills, downed power lines, washed-out roads, smoldering insulation, and dead animals.

Creating a hurricane safety plan ahead of time can help you and your business make a comeback after a disaster.

Hurricane Facts

6/19/2020 (Permalink)

  • A hurricane is an intense tropical storm with powerful winds and rain.

  • Other names for a hurricane include cyclone, typhoon and tropical storm.

  • While they are essentially the same thing, the different names usually indicate where the storm took place. Tropical storms that form in the Atlantic or Northeast Pacific (near the United States) are called hurricanes, those that form near in the Northwest Pacific (near Japan) are called typhoons and those that form in the South Pacific or Indian oceans are called cyclones.

  • Hurricanes usually form in tropical areas of the world.

  • Hurricanes develop over warm water and use it as an energy source.

  • Hurricanes lose strength as they move over land.

  • Coastal regions are most at danger from hurricanes.

  • As well as violent winds and heavy rain, hurricanes can also create tornadoes, high waves and widespread flooding.

  • Hurricanes are regions of low atmospheric pressure (also known as a depression).

  • The wind flow of hurricanes in the southern hemisphere is clockwise while the wind flow of hurricanes in the northern hemisphere is counterclockwise.

  • Weather in the eye of a hurricane is usually calm.

  • The eye of a hurricane can be anywhere from 2 miles (3.2 kilometres) in diameter to over 200 miles (320 kilometres) but they are usually around 30 miles (48 kilometres).

  • The winds around the eye of a hurricane are usually the strongest.

  • Hurricanes can be tracked by weather satellites and weather radar closer to land.

  • Hurricanes have led to the death of around 2 million people over the last 200 years.

  • The 1970 Bhola Cyclone that struck Bangladesh killed over 300000 people.

  • In 2005 Hurricane Katrina killed over 1800 people in the United States and caused around $80 billion dollars worth of property damage. The city of New Orleans was hit particularly hard with levee breaches leading to around 80% of the city being flooded.

Water Damage and Your Insurance

6/19/2020 (Permalink)

Clip art shows insurance claim form and pen. SERVPRO of St. Augustine talks to and deals with Insurance Companies every day. Call us, 904-829-0665 to help you navigate your policy.

Most people learn a great deal about their homeowner’s insurance policy after there’s been an event —which is not the ideal time to have a crash course in coverage. At SERVPRO of St. Augustine we see quite a few policies and situations. Although the details vary from one state to another and from one policy to another, we can share some general guidelines.

If you live in a flood-prone area— not just near a waterway or the ocean, but in an area that’s frequently hit by major storms— you should get flood insurance. Most insurance policies don’t cover floods, which are the most common natural disaster in the nation. Between 2008 and 2012, the average flood claim was $42,000-plus. Not something you want to pay out of pocket!

Water Damage vs. Flood: What’s the Difference?

Water damage as covered in the homeowner’s policy includes ‘instances of water hitting your home before touching the outside ground’. Damage from a leaky roof or broken pipe is insured. So too usually is the mold that can result from those accidents. But mold resulting from a flood won’t be covered unless you have separate flood insurance.

It’s important to note that it is the damage to your home that’s insured, not the actual item that failed. So if a busted pipe was the source of the problem, the ruined carpet will be covered but not the broken pipe.

FEMA estimates that just six inches of water can cause $20,000 in damage.

After the hurricanes of the past decade, the government started tracking storm damage. This website not only shows you scary videos of hurricane damage and houses surrounded by water but offers assistance in finding low-cost policies. 

Here are some things flood insurance generally does cover:

·         Building & foundation

·         Electrical & plumbing

·         Permanently installed carpet, paneling & furniture

·         Removal of debris

·         Built-in appliances

Homeowners do have some protection, though. Our team can usually help you decipher the language in your policy. And remember, you are not required to accept the lowest bid on restoration work. Repair rates should reflect the prevailing charges in your area for quality work. It’s easy enough to find a fully licensed and insured firm to take charge of the clean-up work.

While the first day or so after a catastrophic flood may seem overwhelming, make sure you take the necessary steps to prevent further or secondary damage. We can help you identify what needs to be done. Also, ask about time requirements. Most policies stipulate that preventive measures and restoration work be done within a certain time frame.

Questions? Call SERVPRO of St. Augustine, 904-829-0665.

Water Damage and Flood Water Removal

6/17/2020 (Permalink)

Image shows a dehumidifier in a bedroom on tile floor. A SERVPRO dehumidifier is placed in a bedroom that was flooded by excessive rain.

Water damage can cost home owners and their insurance companies thousands of dollars to fix. When water gets into a structure and it is dried incorrectly, the wood can rot and mold and mildew can form. Trained and certified to the highest standards in the industry, our professional production team responds immediately - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - to mitigate loss and meet every challenge with professionalism, reliability, compassion, and respect. Our technicians identify the full extent of moisture damage, both obvious and unseen, by using sensors such as moisture detectors, meters, infrared cameras, and various temperature gauges.

Meanwhile, we help homeowners overcome their feeling of helplessness by explaining the process in a way that they can understand. What is happening, what to expect, and learning what they can do. SERVPRO of St. Augustine’s commitment to customer excellence includes insurance professionals; which means that insurance agents and claims adjusters can expect effective, ongoing communication and reporting. Daily drying reports and cost and scope are provided to all appropriate parties. We understand and follow the insurance industry requirements. Our professional production team will provide a complete estimate, including photos, to the agent or adjuster within 24-48 hours.

Call SERVPRO of St. Augustine and get quality water damage restoration services. Call us today at 904-829-0665 or check out our Facebook for more safety tips and community involvement.

Water Damage Remediation Explained by Your Local St. Augustine Franchise

6/12/2020 (Permalink)

Photo shows the back of our truck opened to equipment and a truck mount. SERVPRO of St. Augustine has 'State of the Art' equipment to dry you out quickly and efficiently.

St. Augustine water damage remediation is a term used to refer to the process of repairing and restoring a home after a water damage. It's critical that you act fast if you want to prevent further structural or secondary damage. Secondary water damage in St. Augustine and other coastal, humid regions can be extensive and severe and may even present a threat to the health of you and your family.

Water Damage Remediation Dries Your Home

Following a flood or house fire, thoroughly drying out your home is the most critical part of the St. Augustine water damage remediation process. A significant amount of additional damage can occur including the growth of mold and mildew and the development of spores. It can also cause wood to warp and rot, creating a safety hazard. Moist wood also encourages termites. The most effective way to protect against this is to ensure that your home is dried as thoroughly and quickly as possible. This can be done through using dehumidifiers, water extraction, and air movers. Air movers support evaporation with constant airflow, dehumidifiers pull moisture from the air and extraction can be used to get rid of puddles and excess water. 

Hire a Water Damage Remediation Professional

By hiring a water damage remediation service, you will have several contractors working on various aspects of your home at once to help speed up the restoration process and get you back into your home more quickly. If you neglect this essential step, mold, mildew and other hazardous substances can develop in areas that you never see, such as inside walls and ceilings, beneath carpet, behind baseboards and inside of crawlspaces. 

Be Sure Your Homeowner's Insurance Policy Covers Water Damage Remediation

In many cases, homeowner's insurance companies will pay for any water damage remediation in St. Augustine or other repair work you have done on your home. However, this can depend strongly on where you live, which insurance carrier you purchased, and the exact terms and conditions of your policy. To find out whether your insurance policy covers all or part of the cost of cleanup after water damage, you should contact your provider. SERVPRO of St. Augustine can assist you with that. We deal with insurance companies everyday.

Standing puddles of water can prove extremely hazardous and can promote the formation of mold, mildew, and their spores as well as other substances that threaten the health of you and your family. It's imperative that you begin thoroughly drying your home immediately after water damage has occurred.

Water Damage Restoration

Pipes leaking or storm damage doesn't wait for regular business hours... and neither do we. SERVPRO of St. Augustine responds to your residential or commercial water removal and cleanup needs. Our fast response time and advanced drying methods help prevent secondary damage and mold. Common causes of water damage are:

The drying process is closely monitored. We are standing by 24/7 to help remediate any water damage emergency. Call 904-829-0665.

Getting Back to Work, Commercial Water Damage Restoration

6/10/2020 (Permalink)

Image shows moisture on a concrete slab on a commercial building with SERVPRO drying equipment in the foreground. Commercial spaces have different concerns than residential when it comes to restoration. Let SERVPRO of St. Augustine limit business interruption.

Commercial Water Damage restoration not only restores a building. It restores jobs and income to the people employed there, products or services to customers, and a healthy environment for everyone who utilizes the structure. If it’s not done right, or on time, the ultimate result can be business interruption, the closing of a facility, relocation elsewhere, and severe impact to a private business' or public organization’s bottom line. Because the scope of water damage in commercial settings is frequently wider and more extreme than in a residential scenario, SERVPRO of St. Augustine water damage remediation specialists with experience specific to commercial buildings are positioned to provide effective emergency service when the need arises.

Here’s a typical protocol utilized in commercial water damage restoration:

  • All areas contacted with water are inventoried, including affected building materials and furniture. Any wet carpet must be located and identified.
  • Wet ceiling tiles may be removed and discarded after the event. Ceiling tiles usually are not salvageable.
  • A moisture meter will be utilized to check for water-damaged drywall. Disinfection and mold control techniques may need to be initiated.
  • Wet electrical components are assumed to be hazardous. A qualified maintenance technician or electrician should cut off power to affected areas. Inspection by a building inspector or electrician is required to determine the need to replace wet wiring, circuit breakers, outlets and light fixtures.
  • Upholstered furniture wet by flood water, roof leaks, or sewage should be discarded. Furniture contacted by drinking water can be air-dried if done within 24 hours. Laminate or hardwood furniture can be cleaned with a disinfectant solution and reused; particle board furniture may be discarded.
  • Carpet contaminated by sewage must be disposed. Carpet wet by drinking water or rain water through roof leaks may have water extracted and then be cleaned and sanitized.

For experienced Commercial Water Damage Restoration, contact the professionals at SERVPRO of St. Augustine, 904-829-0665.

Blog 5: Recommendations for Property Owners

6/8/2020 (Permalink)

Stock photo of hospital interior listing the ways SERVPRO can help clean. Let SERVPRO of St. Augustine help clean your facility to limit person-to-person spread.

Recommendations for Property Owners

Beyond the cleaning and disinfecting performed by SERVPRO of St. Augustine, property owners must understand that persons infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and/or COVID-19 that enter their property will potentially infect others and deposit the virus on surfaces.

According to the CDC, the virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. This could be between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.xxvii

The CDC has set up a webpage titled Preventing COVID-19 Spread in Communities which addresses homes, childcare, and K-12 schools, colleges and universities, work environments, healthcare settings, and large community events and mass gatherings.

For business purposes, the CDC recommends routine environmental cleaning. This should include routinely cleaning all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs; and provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks) can be wiped down by employees before each use.xxviii For structures that utilize an internal or external janitorial crew, it is recommended that they follow proper cleaning protocols established by the CDC.

xxvii https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html

xxviii https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/guidance-business-response.html