Preparing Your Pipes
Pipes on an outdoor wall with additional insulation to prevent them from freezing.
Quick Tips for Preventing Frozen Pipes
Living in North Texas, we don’t have to deal with the months of freezing temperatures that are typical in the northern parts of the country; however, we unfortunately still deal with frozen pipes on a regular basis. Homes in warmer climates tend to lack the insulation that is the standard in places with frigid winter temperatures, so whenever we experience freezing weather pipes are quickly frozen if precautions have not been taken. Frozen pipes are inconvenient and problematic. Along with preventing water flow into your home, they regularly burst and cause costly damages. Be better prepared for the next arctic blast by following these frozen pipe prevention tips:
- Keep faucets dripping to relieve pressure and prevent the pipes from freezing. Particularly important over night when your plumbing system is not being used frequently and the temperature is dropping.
- Disconnect hoses on outdoor faucets and use faucet covers to prevent them from freezing.
- Seal any leaks that might be allowing cold air inside your house, especially in areas that are close to pipes.
- If you have some particularly vulnerable pipes you can use heat tape. Heat tape and heat cables are electrically powered heat sources that you wrap around pipes that are at risk for freezing. Like using any other type of heater, they will need to be monitored to ensure their safe use.
- Try to keep your house at a constant temperature all day and night. Many people turn down thermostats when they go to bed, but night time is when your pipes are most likely to freeze. Opening cabinet doors, especially at night, allows the warm air in your home to circle around pipes and reduce their risk of freezing.
- Additional insulation is one of the best choices when preparing your house for winter weather. Any pipes on outdoor walls or in areas with less insulation (i.e. attic) may need some foam or fiberglass sleeves from your local hardware store. Insulation will always be less expensive than a water damage, so the more insulation the better.
If you do experience a burst pipe this winter, call SERVPRO of Park Cities. We are a 24-hour emergency service business, and can have a professional on site within hours to help you get your home back to normal. Call us anytime at 214-522-3000.
Preventing Mold in Your Bathroom
Mold growing in a shower.
Mold in bathrooms is a common problem in almost every home. Darkness combined with excessive moisture provides the perfect conditions for consistent mold growth. Constantly cleaning and re-caulking, to keep a growth problem under control, can be time consuming and expensive. The best defense against mold is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Here are a few tricks to help you stop mold growth in your bathroom:
- Run the ventilation fan while you are showering, and leave it on for 15 minutes after. If you don’t have a fan open a window or use a dehumidifier.
- Use a squeegee after a bath or shower to remove some of the excess moisture. Instead of a squeegee, a small towel can be used to dry any accumulated water.
- Try to avoid keeping a lot of things inside of the bath/shower. They can hide mold growth as well as collecting water to promote it. Children’s toys are particularly notorious for growing mold, so be sure to dry them as much as possible and clean them regularly.
- Fix leaky faucets and shower heads.
- Use a shower curtain that can be put in the washing machine. There are also many mold-resistant liners available.
- Clean out the shower and wash bathroom rugs regularly.
- Check for any other signs of mold in the bathroom under the sink, behind the toilet, etc.
If you are consistently experiencing mold in your bathroom, regardless of how often you clean, then you may have a larger, hidden growth problem. Call SERVPRO of Park Cities at 214-522-3000, and one of our mold experts will be at your house quickly to assess the issue.
Signs of a Water Damage
Water damage mark on a bathroom wall.
While it may seem like water damages should be easy to spot, many times their signs are subtle and hard to find. Water damages, particularly when they go unnoticed for a long period of time, can cause extensive damage to the structure of homes and they encourage mold growth. Early intervention can save you time and money. Here are some signs that you might have a water damage in your home:
Wall Stains – Water damages can leave yellow, brown, or copper colored marks on your walls or ceilings. Excessive moisture can also lead to peeling, cracking, or bubbling paint. If you see any of these in your home, you may have had a water damage in the past or may have one currently. Rust marks under sinks or on water heaters don’t necessarily mean you have a current leak issue, but they are areas that you will want to keep your eye on in the future.
Damage to Floors – Floor boards affected by water may be discolored, but more often will show texture changes. Warped floor boards have gaps between them and curl at the edges. Some boards may have a spongy, soft spot or sink down lower than normal. Water damaged floors may also buckle or expand.
Water Bill – If you notice that your water bill has been higher than usual then you may have a leak somewhere in your home. A water meter check, either of the flow indicator or an actual reading, can help confirm any potential leaks.
Odor – A musty odor can indicate both mold and a water damage. Mold can grow within 24-48 hours when provided with a source of moisture, so if you see any signs of mold in your home there is a good chance you have had a water damage.
If you suspect a water damage in your home it is time to call in the SERVPRO of Park Cities experts. Call us for 24-hour emergency services at 214-522-3000.
Common Causes of Fires in Homes
Smoke damage from a kitchen fire.
Fires contribute to millions of dollars’ worth of property damage each year. Knowing the most common causes of household fires can help your family better prevent these types of damages in your home. According to the NFPA, the leading causes of fires in homes from 2010-2014 were:
- Cooking Equipment - 46% of all fires
- Heating Equipment - 16%
- Electrical Equipment - 9%
- Intentional - 8%
- Smoking Materials - 5%
Almost half of all home fires result from cooking. While that number is concerning, many cooking fires can be prevented through general awareness and by following proper procedures. This is particularly important with the holidays coming up. Here are some tips to help you prevent a fire damage from occurring in your kitchen:
- Never leave your cooking food unattended, especially if you are broiling, frying, or grilling. Use a timer to remind you when you are using a stove or an oven.
- Avoid leaving anything flammable – such as oven mitts, plastic bags, paper towels, or pot holders - close to your stove or oven. You should also not cook when you are wearing loose clothing.
- Install a fire alarm close to your kitchen, and be sure to test it each month.
- Avoid a flammable grease buildup by cleaning regularly, particularly in the oven and on the stove.
- Turn off all cooking appliances when you are not using them, and double check the kitchen prior to going to bed to make sure everything is off.
- To be prepared for any cooking related fires, buy a Class K fire extinguisher to keep in your kitchen.
If you experience a fire damage in your home, call SERVPRO of Park Cities today at 214-522-3000!
Flood Safety Tips
In August, Hurricane Harvey dumped an estimated 27 trillion gallons of water across Texas and Louisiana which caused damage to over 200,000 homes. The economic losses are upwards of $180 billion. Unfortunately, flooding is not something that only coastal cities have to deal with. Flooding can occur for a variety of reasons and at any time, so it is best to be knowledgeable and prepared in case a flooding event happens in your area.
Stay Safe During a Flood with These Tips
- Put the safety of you and your family members above all else. Items can be replaced, you cannot. Evacuate when necessary, stay with friends or in a shelter, and avoid entering flood waters whenever possible.
- Prepare for potential flooding during a storm by creating an emergency kit,
- securing your home, moving all essential items to an upper level, disconnecting electrical equipment, and turning off utilities.
- Do not walk through moving water that is more than 6 inches high. Half a foot of moving water is enough to make you fall. You should also not drive into flooded areas, as flood waters can rise quickly.
- Do not enter any flooded areas before the electricity has been turned off, and do not attempt to use any electronic devices.
- Even if flood waters appear clear they may be contaminated. During a flood the water can be a combination of river and lake water, rain, runoff, or even backed up sewers. Avoid ingesting any flood water at all costs and try to prevent skin contact, especially if you have any open wounds.
- Avoid cross contaminating clean rooms by removing any items of clothing that may have come into contact with flood water prior to entering the undamaged rooms in your home.
- If you do have to walk into water use rubber boots for any areas that are below knee level. They will protect you from contaminants and electric shocks. If possible, avoid walking through water that is above knee level unless you are wearing waders – chest high, water proof pants attached to rubber boots. Use rubber gloves when handling any items that have been contaminated by flood water.
- Take pictures of the damage in your home, and share them with your insurance agent.
- Avoid using the water supply until it has been deemed safe by your city. Boil if necessary.
- Use your cell phone sparingly, and charge at every opportunity.
“Do it yourself” cleaning after a water damage can be difficult to accomplish, especially if stores are closed or if they are sold out of equipment. Wet walls can take a long time to dry, particularly if the insulation has been soaked through, and mold can grow within 24 hours. In a flooding event you need professionals like the ones at SERVPRO of Park Cities. Our employees have the knowledge and experience to quickly restore your home to make it “Like it never even happened.” If you experience a flood damage, call us at 214-522-3000.
Quick Tips for Property Owners on Halloween
Halloween presents a variety of insurance risks, particularly for property owners. According to 2016 data from Travelers Insurance, crime-related claims increased by 24% on Halloween night. These claims spanned from robberies to vandalism damages. Read the following quick tips to improve the safety of your property on Halloween night:
Lights and Reducing Hazards
Decorations and lights on Halloween are great for creating a spooky atmosphere, but they can leave properties at risk if not placed carefully. Dim lighting and an empty building is the perfect draw for vandals or thieves. Keeping indoor lights on overnight, and making sure that all doors, walkways, and parking lots are adequately lit can help prevent vandalism or robberies at your property. To avoid being liable for any injuries on Halloween night, be sure to look for anything that may be a tripping hazard for trick or treaters.
Assess your insurance coverage prior to Halloween by checking in with your insurance company. Some of the biggest concerns on Halloween night insurance wise are liability, theft, damages that result from vandalism, and fire. Use the SERVPRO Ready app to create an emergency profile, and increase your preparedness in case of a property damage.
Halloween decorations present a variety of fire risks, so the first step to protecting your property is to ensure that all your smoke alarms are working. If you decorate try using battery operated candles or glow sticks in pumpkins instead of real candles. Also avoid draping fabrics, or other decorative materials, over lights as their heat can lead to a fire.
If you experience property damage on Halloween night give SERVPRO of Park Cities a call. Whether it be from vandalism or a fire, we are here to help. Call 214-522-3000 for 24-hour emergency services.
Mold Myths and Facts
Mold containment chamber.
There is a lot of information about mold out there, but how much of it is true? No one wants to deal with this issue, but it is important to know which are the correct steps, and which are wrong, if it becomes a problem in your home. There are many mold myths that could lead to the spreading of growth if they are followed. To ensure you know fact from fiction, we have outlined some of the most well-known myths as well as the facts.
Bleach Kills Mold
Bleach is a not good option for killing mold. It is effective if the growth is on a hard, solid surface, such as tile or glass, but it will not work when the surface is porous. Unfortunately, many growths occur on these materials, like drywall and wood, in our homes. Bleach does not soak into porous materials, which means it can’t reach the growth spread out through the pores, it only kills the surface. The outer surface of the affected area will appear clean, as the bleach will have whitened any stains and scrubbed away the exterior mold, but the internal mold will be quick to grow back.
Bleach may even intensify a mold problem. The chlorine in bleach quickly evaporates which leaves behind a lot of water. Water that will soak into porous materials and then feed the mold that was left behind, potentially making the problem worse than it was originally.
Dead Mold Doesn't Need to Be Removed
Killing mold should not be the goal during remediation. Even “dead” mold can continue to act as an allergen and spread throughout your house. In order to remove all risks of continued growth in your home the affected areas need to be completely removed with correct remediation procedures.
Any Black Mold is Toxic
There are over 100,000 different species of mold, and they can be any size, shape, or color. Just because a growth is black it does not mean that it is Stachybotrys chartarum, the species that is known as the toxic black mold. The only way to truly identify the species of mold in your house is for it to be tested by an industrial hygienist.
Fix Mold by Painting Over it
Although it is a common practice, you cannot fix a mold problem by painting over it. Even when using mold resistant paint, a growth will not be killed or prevented from spreading. Paint will, however, make it more difficult to see when the mold has grown.
Mold resistant paint can be used in rooms with high moisture levels, such as bathrooms and kitchens, to help prevent growth. Using this paint is in no way a guarantee that you will never experience a mold problem, but when painted on dry, mold-free surfaces it can help prevent it in at risk rooms.
Mold Must be Tested Before it is Removed
Having mold testing can be an important, and expensive, step when determining if you have a mold problem in your home; however, it is not always necessary. All mold, regardless of its type, should be treated in the same manor by a remediation company. If your home is showing signs of mold, particularly if there is visible growth, then you know you have a problem that must be handled. Unless you personally want to know which species of mold is growing in your home, testing is unnecessary when it comes to removing it as the procedure and precautions taken should remain the same.
Mold is Only a Problem in Old Homes
Many people associate mold with older homes, but it can grow in any house, regardless of age, when provided with the right conditions. All mold requires to grow is darkness, a food source (typically drywall or wood in a home), and moisture. If you have any excessive moisture problems in a new home, you may soon have a mold issue too.
Stop Mold Now!
If you have mold in your home don’t spend the time worrying about what information is right or wrong, call in the professionals. SERVPRO of Park Cities employees have the training and equipment to remove any growth from your home and reduce the potential for mold problems in the future. Call us now at 214-522-3000.
Fire Classifications and Extinguishers
Fire damage in a church kitchen.
Every family should have a fire escape plan, working smoke alarms, and at least one fire extinguisher on each level of their home. A fire with a stable supply of fuel, oxygen, and heat can double in size within 60 seconds; therefore, quick action is key to preventing catastrophic damage. Fires, and their extinguishers, are categorized into 5 different classes based on fuel types. An ABC fire extinguisher is typically what most people stock within their homes as it is versatile – it can extinguish 3 out of the 5 fire groups; however, many household fires result from Class K type situations, which require their own specific extinguisher. Read the following information to learn more about these fire groups and the methods to extinguish them.
Class A - Typical sources of these fires include trash, fabric, paper, wood, and plastics. Class A fires are the most common, and they will burn as long as heat, oxygen, and fuel are available. Water is a good extinguisher for these fires because it reduces heat. Water based and foam extinguishers can also be used.
Class B - Fires with fuel bases of flammable gases or liquids, not including those used/produced in the kitchen (see Class K). Some examples of Class B fuels include gasoline, propane, butane, kerosene, alcohol, solvents, and paints. These fires are typically difficult to extinguish, and they produce thick smoke. Water can spread a liquid fuel source, so it is best to extinguish these fires by smothering the flames with a foam extinguisher.
Class C - Fires that originate from electrical equipment. More common in industries that use large electrically sourced machinery, but can occur in homes with faulty wiring, overloaded outlets, etc. The first step to extinguishing these types is to turn off the electricity source. Water should not be used to control electrical fires, neither should foam extinguishers, instead use carbon dioxide and dry powder extinguishers (ABC).
Class D – Fuels for combustible metal fires include titanium, aluminum, magnesium, and potassium. They typically occur in laboratory settings, but can sometimes happen in various business industries. The intensity of a metal fire may be increased using water or foam, so many times fire fighters will allow these fires to burn themselves out.
Class K – Two out of five household fires begin in the kitchen. Their fuel types include vegetable and animal fats, grease, and cooking oil. They can be extremely difficult to extinguish because of the high temperatures in which they burn at. Water will not extinguish these fires, it may even increase their severity by spreading the flames. Class K fires require their own personal extinguisher (K) that contains a wet chemical formula to cool off high temperatures and prevent re-ignition.
Use Caution with Extinguishers
During a fire the immediate concern should be for yourself and your family members. Before you attempt to extinguish a fire make sure the fire department is being called and that everyone in your home is aware of the situation. Only use an extinguisher while a fire is small and manageable. Never try to extinguish a fire if you are unsure on how to use an extinguisher correctly, there will be no time for reading instructions. If you have any amount of doubt regarding extinguishing a fire, don’t do it. Leave it to the fire fighters and get yourself to safety.
If you experience a fire in your home, SERVPRO of Park Cities is here to help. Our professionals will quickly assess the impact of the flames, smoke, and moisture to create a personalized restoration plan for your home. If you have a fire damage don’t hesitate to call us for 24-hour emergency services at 214-522-3000.
Common Causes of Household Water Damages
Warped wooden floor from a water damage caused by the refrigerator's supply line.
Water damages are a problem that many homeowners have to face. According to the Insurance Information Institute, they accounted for 45% of household insurance losses in 2015. Water damages can be caused by many things – floods, sewer backups, or even the process of putting out a fire - but the majority of them originate within our own homes. Knowing the potential sources of any water related issues will allow you to be proactive against them. The risk of a water damage in your home can be reduced through regular maintenance and general awareness of the following items:
Leaking or burst pipes are the leading source of residential water losses. A variety of things can cause pipes to malfunction, such as corrosion, movement of a house overtime, high water pressure, clogs and blockages, freezing temperatures, or even tree roots. The best way to determine if you have a leak is to check you water main, but you can also be wary of leaks by watching out for water pressure changes and checking accessible pipes for rust or corrosion.
Overflows typically occur when there is a blockage in the plumbing system. With nowhere to go, a flushed toilet will quickly overflow and cause a mess that no homeowner wants to deal with. Overflows can also occur when the drains in sinks or showers are blocked - grease in kitchen drains is a common blockage culprit! They can even be the result of accidents when people forget to turn faucets off, or a child "accidentally" flushes their toy down the toilet.
Malfunctioning household appliances - such as washing machines, dishwashers, water heaters, and refrigerators - often cause water damages. These situations are usually the result of cracked or broken hoses, general age of the machines, or bad connections. Washing machines and water heaters are behind the majority of appliance related water problems. With washing machines, the issues stem from the hose or overflows, whereas water heaters will leak or even burst.
Roof leaks and clogged gutters often go hand in hand. Gutters over weighted with saturated leaves can pull off the roof fascia, damaging the roof in the process. Roof damage can also result from storms (particularly a problem here in Texas), poor maintenance, and general wear and tear. Leaks from the roof can mean constant and consistent water damage to your home, starting from the attic all the way down to the foundation if it is not fixed. Gutters can also cause water damages in ways other than those that are roof related. Clogged gutters will overflow which can potentially warp or break away exterior siding, which then leaves wooden framing and interior walls susceptible to further water damage.
Water Damage? Call Us Now!
SERVPRO of Park Cities is at your service whenever you experience a water damage in your home. Calling us is the first step to ensuring your home can quickly return to normal. If you have any questions or concerns about a potential water damage in your home, call us anytime at 214-522-3000.
Fire Safety in the Workplace
We often think about fire safety in our own homes, but how many of us worry about fires while we are at work? October is National Fire Prevention month, so there is no better time than now to brush up on your fire safety knowledge in the office! Each year in the United States there are between 70,000-80,000 workplace fires, and the annual cost to businesses is over $2 billion. Companies that operate from a single location are particularly vulnerable when it comes to fire. Any building damage could temporarily stop business operations, costing a company time and money. In order to prevent employee injuries and damage to the workplace, it is extremely important for every organization to know fire prevention practices and to have an emergency plan in place.
Safety Measures and Emergency Plans
Practicing the following safety measures, and preparing emergency plans, can greatly reduce the risks presented by fires at work:
- Never block access to firefighting equipment (e.g. fire extinguisher), sprinkler heads, or fire exits with office furniture or other materials.
- Assign designated smoking areas for employees in safe locations, away from any flammable chemicals or combustible materials. Employees should be sure to completely extinguish cigarettes before disposing of them, a bucket of sand or water can be useful for this.
- Make sure an adequate number of fire alarms for the size of your location are in place and that all are working.
- Keep a clean office: get rid of excessive clutter, recycle unneeded papers, remove grease in kitchens, etc. A tidy and clean office would provide less fuel for a fire, which can potentially mean less damage.
- Do not store furniture or equipment in front of electrical panels, as the power might need to be shut down in an emergency situation.
- Store all chemicals correctly, in rooms with proper ventilation and away from any potential sources of fire (kitchen, machinery, smoking area, etc.). Check the labels and Material Safety Data Sheets to determine flammability and other risks.
- Report any electrical hazards, such as equipment not working correctly or faulty wiring. Also practice proper electrical safety (e.g. don’t overload outlets with adaptors, don’t use electrical equipment with wet hands or near water, etc.)
- Post emergency numbers and the office address next to all phones.
- Have at least two escape routes, that are separate from one another, and practice drills with employees. Have an escape plan in place for any disabled employees or visitors.
- Use the SERVPRO Ready Plan App to create an Emergency READY Profile containing critical facility information that can help speed up response time after fire or water damage occurs. Learn more about the app here.
SERVPRO is Here to Help
If you have experienced a fire at your business, SERVPRO of Park Cities is here to help. Our highly trained professionals are quick to respond, and can be on location within a few hours to begin the restoration process. The faster restoration begins, the faster our customers can return to business. If you or your company has experienced a fire or water damage call us now at 214-522-3000.