Winning the War Against Wind and Water During the Colder Months
Icicles forming on your gutters can cause structural damage due to melting and refreezing water.
It seems most of the heavy-hitting storms happen in the fall, followed by brutal winter blizzards and nor’easters. Your adversaries during this time are the two legendary elements: Wind and Water. At full force, the wind will scatter leaves and tear off the sturdiest limbs; water will flood and wash away. The damage they can cause can be mind-boggling, resulting in physical injury and death, and property destruction.
Homeowners must be mindful of the impact that powerful storms and weather systems to their property and their loved ones. Decisions must be made in a timely manner to get ahead of the extremes of the season. The following are suggested remedies for possible issues that will come up as the seasons change and the weather gets colder.
Keep Drains and Gutters Clear
After a major rainfall, rain pours from your roof and pools around your property and leaks into your basement. A major reason is leaves and branches clogging water drainage on the street or around your house. When not raked away from drains, leaves and branches will clog them. Rake the leaves and clear treefall from your property.
The same applies for snow. Snow mounds on the street may be slow to melt and get stuck in a cycle of re-freezing and will block any drains. If it’s on your property—or if you’re feeling neighborly when the department of public works has left the job to fate—break it up and keep it clear.
As for the gutters around your roof, it’s best to contact a professional gutter cleaning service to clear out leaves and debris that could choke your gutters. If left unattended, rain will flow unhindered to leak down into your property, potentially flooding your basement. During the colder months, moisture in the gutters will freeze and weigh them down. They could come crashing down around you and cause injury as well as property damage.
Another tactic to aid with drainage is to consult with a landscaping service to design your property to move water away from your home, and have plantings to prevent soil erosion.
If you have a concern about the basement flooding, your house should have a working sump pump system or a French drain system to prevent seepage or drain collected water. If your basement does take in water and you are able to drain it out, you should set up a de-humidifier to dry it out to prevent mold and mildew growth.
Seal Potential Leaks & Gaps
It’s almost inevitable that leaks will develop in a house, from top to bottom, owing to long-term exposure to the elements, construction concerns or animals nesting. As it gets colder and wetter, those leaks could become more than just a nuisance. When a leak entry point freezes and re-freezes, the gap will expand and allow more water in.
If the leak is coming from the roof, you will need to locate where the leaks are coming from and seal them. You can do it yourself, but if it looks like a bigger job, locate a roofer.
Windows can also be a source for leaks. Just like the roof it will take some detective work to locate where water is coming in–you may have to check for cold air as well. Once you find it, you’ll have to caulk around where the break is.
Clear Away Sick Trees and Loose Branches
The day after any powerful storm will find a landscape littered with fallen branches and downed trees. Some of those trees will have a crushed house underneath. Others will lean on power lines. One of the reasons for the trees to be uprooted may be that the ground was so sodden the roots couldn’t maintain their grip, owing to poor drainage.
If you have trees on your property it would be in your best interest to hire an arborist or tree service to check your tree’s health. Most branches and fallen trees were weak and sick before a storm, and only needed the right gust to send branches flying and trunks to topple.
If you do have sick trees, then you should have them and whatever weakened limbs removed. It’s recommended to get a professional service to do it. DIY only works if your experienced and know how to handle the tools to do the job.
Should you need professional assistance, SERVPRO has the professionally trained staff to handle your post storm clean-up. Regular property maintenance can make the difference between a rough weather season that’s manageable and one full of hazards, costly financially—and in life and limb. Staying several steps ahead of the damage caused by wind, rain, ice and snow can make for a safe and secure rest of the year.
Stay Safe In The Backyard This Summer
Reduce backyard risks
After the long winter, it’s time to get out into the backyard and enjoy the pleasures of summer. For many, that means firing up the barbecue, getting the lawnmower out and taking a dip in the pool. Make your summer months tranquil and safe by taking appropriate measures for these activities.
Remember, your insurance covers you for damages to your home, and liability insurance coverage is available if someone is injured (subject to the restrictions and limitations set out in the policy). But preventing accidents is the best way to avoid distress – and insurance claims.
Propane barbecue safety
Propane is an efficient and popular source of fuel for most outdoor grills, but if used improperly, it can be very dangerous. Follow these tips for the proper use of your propane barbecue.
Keep the cylinder upright at all times to prevent leakage. Store propane cylinders outdoors only.
Keep burners and the burner throat (where the propane enters the burner) free of dust and cobwebs. Soap test all hoses and joints. To do this, leave the barbecue valve off and the cylinder valve on. Spread a solution of dish soap and water on all fittings and the hose. If bubbles appear and become larger or increase in number, this means you have a leak.
Operate gas grills outdoors only. While not toxic, propane gas can cause suffocation in a confined space. Grilling in the garage with the door open is not safe enough. After each use, turn the cylinder valve off on the propane tank first, and then close the “ON/OFF” valve on the barbecue. This way, propane does not get trapped in the hose when the grill is not in use.
Swimming pool safety
A backyard swimming pool can provide hours of fun and recreation during the hot days of summer. But safety must always be a priority.
If you are thinking of installing a pool, consider the following:
•Local safety standards and building codes
Contact your municipality and find out what standards and codes you must comply with. This will most likely involve installing a fence of a certain type and height as well as locks, decks and pool safety equipment.
Let your insurance representative know that you have a pool, since it increases your liability risk. You may be advised to purchase additional liability insurance. If the pool is an expensive one, you should also make sure to have enough coverage to enable you to replace it in case it is destroyed.
Before filling your pool, you should make sure that it is not easily accessible. Follow these guidelines.
•The fence around any pool, including an inflatable one, should have a self-closing and self-latching gate.
•Other means of access to the pool, such as patio doors, should be locked.
•A solid safety pool cover or a pool alarm provides additional protection.
•Solar pool covers should not be used to prevent children from falling into pools. If they fall onto them, they can become entangled and drown.
•When your above-ground pool is not in use, remove or lock the steps and ladders leading to it.
Keep swimmers safe
Every year, children in Canada drown or are injured in swimming and wading pool incidents. Follow the following safety guidelines to prevent pool accidents.
•Never leave a child unattended in a swimming or wading pool. Always have an adult present when children are in or around the pool.
•Children under the age of three, or other children who can’t swim, should wear a life jacket or approved personal flotation device whenever they are in or around a pool.
•Children should be kept away from pool filters and other mechanical devices as the suction force can injure them or prevent them from surfacing. Know how to shut these devices off.
•Do not leave toys or floats in the pool when not in use: they can be very tempting to toddlers
•Keep lifesaving equipment and a first aid kit nearby and emergency phone numbers near the pool.
•Never let anyone, child or adult, swim alone.
Proper storage of pool chemicals
Pool maintenance products can be dangerous, so store them with care.
•Keep your pool maintenance products outside the home, in a dry, well-ventilated location away from heat sources.
•If a container is damaged or leaks, dispose of the products safely.
A power lawn mower can be a very dangerous tool if proper precautions are not taken. Follow these steps to prevent injury:
Protect your children and pets
Young children and pets should be kept safely away from the area where a lawnmower is being used. They should not be allowed to be passengers on ride-on mowers. No child under 12 should operate any lawn mower. Ride-on models should be operated only by children 16 or older.
Prepare the area to be mowed
Before you start mowing, remove stones, toys, sticks and other debris from the lawn. This will prevent objects from projecting out of the mower and causing injury.
Wear proper clothing
Wear long pants and sturdy shoes when you are using your lawnmower. Never wear sandals. Eye and hearing protection are also recommended.
Take precautions when operating a mower
Always start and refuel your mower outdoors. Do it only when the motor is turned off and cool. Never allow a child to adjust blade settings. Never mow in reverse, unless absolutely necessary and then check behind you regularly. Wait for blades to completely stop rotating and remove the spark plug before removing debris from your mower.
It's Duct Cleaning Season
The Winter cold will soon be a memory here in Monmouth County, N.J. April starts the season where you begin those Spring clean-up projects. One such project that is often overlooked is air duct cleaning. If that hasn't crossed your mind before, you're not alone. Out of sight, out of mind isn't the best way to categorize your indoor air quality, however.
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems have been shown to act as a collection source for a variety of contaminants that have the potential to affect health, such as mold, fungi, bacteria, and very small particles of dust. The removal of such contaminants from the HVAC system and home should be considered as one component of the overall plan to improve indoor air quality.
Research by the U.S. EPA has demonstrated that HVAC system cleaning may allow systems to run more efficiently by removing debris from sensitive mechanical components. Clean, efficient systems are less likely to break down, have a longer life span, and generally operate more effectively than dirty systems.
Trust SERVPRO of Eatontown/Long Branch to clean your ducts efficiently and professionally. We are certified by the NADCA.
NADCA Members have signed a Code of Ethics stating they will do everything possible to protect the consumer, and follow NADCA Standards for cleaning to the best of their ability, for a list of NADCA members near you, click here. Air duct cleaning companies must meet stringent requirements to become an NADCA Member. Among those requirements, all NADCA Members must have certified Air System Cleaning Specialists (ASCS) on staff, who have taken and passed the NADCA Certification Examination. Passing the exam demonstrates extensive knowledge in HVAC design and cleaning methodologies. ASCSs are also required to further their industry education by attending seminars in order to maintain their NADCA certification status.
Ask how you can save $50 per unit this season. Call us at 732-578-9888.
The Facts About Hoarding
As one of New Jersey's premier resoration companies, we at SERVPRO of Eatontown/Long Branch often get asked questions about hoarding clean up. In order to understand the process of cleaning the residence of a hoarder, we first need to enlighten the family and friends of the facts about the issue itself. According to the International OCD Foundation:
What is compulsive hoarding?
Compulsive hoarding includes ALL three of the following:
1. A person collects and keeps a lot of items, even things that appear useless or of little value to most people.
2. These items clutter the living spaces and keep the person from using their rooms as they were intended.
3. These items cause distress or problems in day-to-day activities.
How is hoarding different from collecting?
• In hoarding, people seldom seek to display their possessions, which are usually kept in disarray.
• In collecting, people usually proudly display their collections and keep them well organized. What are the signs of compulsive hoarding?
• Difficulty getting rid of items
• A large amount of clutter in the office, at home, in the car, or in other spaces (i.e. storage units) that makes it difficult to use furniture or appliances or move around easily
• Losing important items like money or bills in the clutter
• Feeling overwhelmed by the volume of possessions that have ‘taken over’ the house or workspace
• Being unable to stop taking free items, such as advertising flyers or sugar packets from restaurants
• Buying things because they are a “bargain” or to “stock up”
• Not inviting family or friends into the home due to shame or embarrassment
• Refusing to let people into the home to make repairs.
What makes getting rid of clutter difficult for hoarders?
• Difficulty organizing possessions
• Unusually strong positive feelings (joy, delight) when getting new items
• Strong negative feelings (guilt, fear, anger) when considering getting rid of items
• Strong beliefs that items are “valuable” or “useful”, even when other people do not want them
• Feeling responsible for objects and sometimes thinking of inanimate objects as having feelings
• Denial of a problem even when the clutter or acquiring clearly interferes with a person’s life
Who struggles with hoarding behavior?
Hoarding behaviors can begin as early as the teenage years, although the average age of a person seeking treatment for hoarding is about 50. Hoarders often endure a lifelong struggle with hoarding. They tend to live alone and may have a family member with the problem. It seems likely that serious hoarding problems are present in at least 1in 50 people, but they may be present in as many as 1 in 20.
Are hoarding and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) related?
Compulsive hoarding was commonly considered to be a type of OCD. Some estimate that as many as 1 in 4 people with OCD also have compulsive hoarding. Recent research suggests that nearly 1 in 5 compulsive hoarders have non-hoarding OCD symptoms. Compulsive hoarding is also considered a feature of obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) and may develop along with other mental illnesses, such as dementia and schizophrenia.
What kinds of things do people hoard?
Most often, people hoard common possessions, such as paper (e.g., mail, newspapers), books, clothing and containers (e.g., boxes, paper and plastic bags). Some people hoard garbage or rotten food. More rarely, people hoard animals or human waste products. Often the items collected are valuable but far in excess of what can reasonably be used.
What are the effects of hoarding?
• Severe clutter threatens the health and safety of those living in or near the home, causing health problems, structural damage, fire, and even death
• Expensive and emotionally devastating evictions or other court actions can lead to hospitalizations or homelessness
• Conflict with family members and friends who are frustrated and concerned about the state of the home and the hoarding behaviors
Can compulsive hoarding be treated?
Yes, compulsive hoarding can be treated. Unfortunately it has not responded well to the usual treatments that work for OCD. Strategies to treat hoarding include:
• Challenging the hoarder’s thoughts and beliefs about the need to keep items and about collecting new things
• Going out without buying or picking up new items
• Getting rid of and recycling clutter. First, by practicing the removal of clutter with the help of a clinician or coach and then independently removing clutter
• Finding and joining a support group or teaming up with a coach to sort and reduce clutter
• Understanding that relapses can occur
• Developing a plan to prevent future clutter.
How can I help a hoarding friend or family member de-clutter?
Attempts by family and friends to help with de-cluttering may not be well received by the person who hoards. It is helpful to keep in mind:
• Until the person is internally motivated to change they may not accept your offer to help. • Motivation cannot be forced.
• Everyone, including people who hoard, has a right to make choices about their objects and how they live.
• People who hoard are often ambivalent about accepting help and throwing away objects.
Can’t compulsive hoarding be solved by simply cleaning out the home?
No. Attempts to “clean out” the homes of people who hoard without treating the underlying problem usually fail. Families and community agencies may spend many hours and thousands of dollars clearing a home only to find that the problem recurs, often within just a few months. Hoarders whose homes are cleared without their consent often experience extreme distress and may become further attached to their possessions. This may lead to their refusal of future help.
How do I have a conversation with my friend of family member who is ready to talk about hoarding?
When a person seems willing to talk about a hoarding problem, follow these guidelines:
• Respect. Acknowledge that the person has a right to make their own decisions at their own pace.
• Have sympathy. Understand that everyone has some attachment to the things they own. Try to understand the importance of their items to them.
• Encourage. Come up with ideas to make their home safer, such as moving clutter from doorways and halls.
• Team up with them. Don’t argue about whether to keep or discard an item; instead, find out what will help motivate the person to discard or organize.
• Reflect. Help the person to recognize that hoarding interferes with the goals or values the person may hold. For example, by de-cluttering the home, a person may host social gatherings and have a richer social life.
• Ask. To develop trust, never throw anything away without asking permission.
If you are faced with helping a family member who needs to clean their home after a hoarding situation, call SERVPRO of Eatontown/Long Branch. We can take you through the process and ensure that everything is handled professionally and as quickly as possible. 732-578-9888
Winter Mold Growth: What You Need To Know
The wet season in the winter months is one of the best times of year for molds to grow and expand. Often mold is contained near sources of water where it can easily grow and reproduce. As it grows, mold can breakdown and compromise the integrity and strength of the source in which it lives.
Mold spores are microscopic and are naturally found in the air we breathe indoors and outdoors. When large amounts of spores grow, one’s health may be compromised. Mold can be killed, but if it is not removed properly, it can remain in the area just cleaned and the dry spores can be released into the air. Mold remediation services can help eliminate the mold in your home and personal items affected by water damage.
Prevention, however, is what will help keep your lungs healthy and homes and buildings strong. We’ve put together a few tips on how you can help thwart mold from infesting your home that are efficient and realistic:
General Home and Building Maintenance:
- Keep all areas clean.
- Make sure there is good air circulation. Use an exhaust fan or open a window when showering, cooking, and washing the dishes.
- Prevent mold and water damage by turning off the water flow to broken appliances and pipes.
- Replace cracked or defective mortar in basements. If you find your basement is wet or has water leaking into it, inspect the outside drainage systems.
- Spread moisture-barrier materials in crawl spaces over the soil. Heavy roofing paper or plastic film made of polyethylene can be used for this. Make sure there is good ventilation in the crawl space and, if possible, do not enclose it. One may need to use a fan to blow out humid air from under the building.
- One can get rid of humidity or dampness within a building by heating it for a short time. After heating, open up the doors and windows, or use an exhaust fan, to let out the air that is moist.
- Hire a professional roofing contractor to cover a damaged roof with a tarp or tent. This will help protect the building from the elements.
- If there are freezing temperatures, take measures to insulate pipes inside and out to ensure they will not crack and/or burst.
- Make sure all the seals on the windows and doors are not compromised and in good-working condition.
- Clean and repair roof gutters regularly.
- Make sure the ground around your building slopes away from the foundation so water does not collect around or enter in to it.
- Act quickly if you see condensation on windows, pipes, or walls inside a building. Dry out the area and determine if the source of the condensation is from a leak or the result of high humidity.
After a Flood or Heavy Rains:
- Work fast. Call in SERVPRO, which will help in the cleaning and disinfecting of your home from toxins and spores mold can release.
- Lower the humidity and temperature in the building: molds do not like these conditions. Open up windows if the air outside is less humid than the air inside. Otherwise, turn on an air conditioner and a dehumidifier.
- Dispose of moldy items in a sealed bag. Objects that can be saved should be frozen (which deactivates mold) or dried out. Mold remediation services can assist with restoring many of your items, including documents, pictures, and books.
- Make sure there is good ventilation within the building affected. Use a fan, if necessary, to promote good air circulation.
- Remove as much standing water in a building as quickly and safely as possible after disconnecting all electronic equipment inside the building.
- The two key things to remember in mold prevention are: 1. Keep everything clean, and 2. Keep everything dry. Many simple steps can be taken to prevent mold damage as well as water damage during the winter months. However, keep the number SERVPRO handy should you require their services. These professionals can efficiently and quickly ensure your home is safe, dry, and mold-free.
Winter Ice Dams: Cause, Effects, and Prevention
What Causes Ice Dams?
Ice dams form when melting ice and snow refreeze above the eaves of your roof and subsequent melting backs up under the shingles. This causes interior leaks and water damage to interior walls and ceilings.
Preventing Ice Dams
Proper ventilation, drainage and insulation are the only ways to prevent ice dams and can be achieved in the following ways:
- Make sure your gutters are clear of leaves and debris
- Check and seal places where warm air could leak from your house to the attic: vent pipes, exhaust fans, chimneys, attic hatches and light fixtures are all possibilities
- Inspect, or have your roof and attic inspected for proper ventilation and insulation
- Look for signs of inadequate ventilation: rust spots, rusty nails or a mildew smell are all signals that moisture has formed on the inside of your roof
- If you have soffit vents in your eaves, make sure they are not blocked and insulation surrounding them is secured so that air can flow easily
- Keep snow from accumulating on the lower three to six feet of your roof
- Install snow and ice slides to prevent ice and snow from "bonding" to the lower roof
- Install a rubberized ice and water shield beneath the roof shingles for the first three to six feet from the eaves up
- Install heating cable along the eaves to melt ice
Removing Ice Dams
- Consult a roofing professional
- Do not use a snow blower, shovel or blowtorch to try to chip, break or melt ice dams
How To Avoid Frozen Pipes
Winter has certainly arrived in Monmouth County. With temperatures in the 20's and winds gusting, all the elements are in place for potential hazards in and around your home.
The biggest threat in this weather is freezing pipes and pipe breaks. It's a problem that can be avoided with a few simple steps:
- -Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
- -Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
- -When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing.
- -Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
- -If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
Remember that SERVPRO of Eatontown/Long Branch is ready to help 24/7 should any water issues arise in your home or business. 732-578-9888.
5 Tips To Protect Your Home On Winter Vacation
Everyone dreams of that warm weather vacation when the winter temperatures drop in NJ. But that dream vacation can turn into a nightmare if your don't prepare your home before you leave.
For peace of mind while you lounge on the beach here is a great article from First Service Residential:
5 Tips Before You Leave On Winter Vacation
If you should come home to an emergency, remember SERVPRO is available 24 hours a day to help. Call us at 732-578-9888
10 Things You Need To Know About Mold
One of the biggest concerns for local residents is mold. Do I have mold? Is it bad? Are my kids safe? How do you remove it?
Here are 10 basic things you need to know about mold:
- Mold can cause health effects.
- There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
- If mold is a problem in your home or school, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.
- Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.
- Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60%) to decrease mold growth by:
- Venting bathrooms, dryers and other moisture-generating sources to the outside
- Using air conditioners and de-humidifiers
- Increasing ventilation
- Using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing and cleaning
- Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
- Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely. Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles, that are moldy, may need to be replaced.
- Prevent condensation: Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
- In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting (i.e., by drinking fountains, by classroom sinks, or on concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation).
- Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.
Knowing the facts is the best place to start when addressing a potential mold problem. The second step is hiring a licensed professional to do the remediation. Trust SERVPRO's 50 years of experience when it comes to removing mold from your home. Call us today.
Prepare Your Home in 2016
As we say goodbye to 2015, and get set for our resolutions that disappear faster than the ball drops on Times Square, take some time in the coming weeks to think about safety.
How safe is your home? Have you done the proper maintenace needed to minimize your families risk of fires, floods or mold?
In 2013 there were nearly 370,000 home fires in the U.S. At a cost of 6.8 billion dollars in damages. 92% of the appliance fires were caused by the clothes dryer. 32% of those fires were do to lack of cleaning. Here are some dryer safety tips:
*Have your dryer installed and serviced by a professional.
* Do not use the dryer without a lint filter.
* Make sure you clean the lint filter before or after each load of laundry. Remove lint that has collected around the drum.
* Rigid or flexible metal venting material should be used to sustain proper air flow and drying time.
* Make sure the air exhaust vent pipe is not restricted and the outdoor vent flap will open when the dryer is operating. Once a year, or more often if you notice that it is taking longer than normal for your clothes to dry, clean lint out of the vent pipe or have a dryer lint removal service do it for you.
* Keep dryers in good working order. Gas dryers should be inspected by a professional to make sure that the gas line and connection are intact and free of leaks.
* Make sure the right plug and outlet are used and that the machine is connected properly.
* Follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions and don’t overload your dryer.
* Turn the dryer off if you leave home or when you go to bed.
As scary as the statistics for dryer fires sound, they aren't close to being the number one cause of home fires. Two out of every five home fires started in the kitchen, Cooking and cooking equipment account for over 60% of all home fires. They also account for 42% of all fire related injuries in the home.
The peak month of the year for these kitchen related fires is January. The peak time being between 5:00pm and 8:00pm. Unattended cooking was by far the leading cause of these fires.
What you need to know:
- Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol don’t use the stove or stovetop.
- Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling or broiling food.
- If you are simmering, baking or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the kitchen while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
- Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.
Watch this short video for more safety info:
Make 2016 the year you prepare your home against the risks that are easily avoidable.