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Water Damage Isn't Always From a Storm

12/11/2019 (Permalink)

Water on basement floor A broken water heater caused the water damage in this basement, affecting the entire floor and contents.

When people think about water damage, often, especially in our area close to the Jersey Shore, they think of major storms like Hurricane Sandy or coastal flooding. In reality, most water damage is “man made.”

The majority of water damage in homes stems from leaking or broken pipes, pipe fittings or caps, burst or leaking water heaters, appliances, kitchen and bath fixtures and sump pumps.

For pipes, these simple steps can deter major issues once winter weather settles and it becomes cold.

OUTDOORS: 

  • Wrap outside faucets.
  • Caulk around pipes where they enter the house.
  • Disconnect garden hoses.
  • Drain in-ground sprinkler systems.

INDOORS:

  • Check your home for places where water supply lines are not heated (e.g., in a basement or garage).
  • Let a stream of water run if the temperatures dip below freezing.
  • Open cupboard and vanity doors in the kitchen or bathroom.
  • 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.
  • Shut off and drain your water system if you are leaving the home for several days or more, and set your thermostat a temperature no lower than 55° F.

Water heaters, on average, should last anywhere between 8 to 12 years. A broken water heater can leave over 50+ gallons of water all over your house, depending on how big it is.

How can you tell if it’s time to change your water heater? There are definitely signs.

  • If your water heater is getting up in years, it may be time to replace it before it breaks.
  • Tinted water coming from your hot water tap means there may be rust in your water heater, which is a possible indicator your hot water heater is showing signs of wear and may start to leak.
  • Gurgling or popping noises coming from your water heater are caused by the buildup of hard water sediment heating up and exploding inside your water heater tank.
  • Look around the base of your hot water heater for dampness. This may be a symptom of a slow or intermittent leak.
  • If you have no hot water while using your hot water tap, it may be a sign that your water heater needs to be checked out.
  • If you see a puddle around the base of your hot water heater, immediate action should be taken to replace it.

To save yourself and your home from a sewage backup, here’s some advice to keep in mind.

  • Keep your drains clear of clogging. Don’t flush items down your toilet that can cause build up in the pipes, such as diapers, sanitary napkins, or thick waste. Also, don’t get rid of grease down the sink, as grease can harden within the pipes and then collect other waste, creating a major clog.
  • Conduct regular inspections of all the pipes and valves in your home and make sure they are well maintained.
  • Don’t plant trees too close to the sewer lines, as over time the roots can grow and damage the pipes.

Keep a working sump-pump on hand, just in case.

And speaking of sump pumps….. a sump pump is designed to help you prevent water damage, but if the sump pump itself fails, you’re in trouble. In order to keep your sump pump in good running order, it’s smart to service it at least once or twice a year. You can do this yourself by pouring a bucket of water into the sump pump basin to make sure it’s working properly. You may want to consider replacing your sump pump about every 7 years depending on use.

Even with all this preparation, accidents can still happen. In that case, calling SERVPRO of Eatontown/Long Branch immediately will ensure that any water damage will be cleaned by professional technicians and your home will be restored “Like it never even happened.”

How Often Do You Think About Your Plumbing?

12/7/2019 (Permalink)

Toilet Bowl in bathroom as cause of water damage Toilets are often a cause of water damage, either by overflowing (sewage) or leaking. Damage can be extensive.

Many homeowners overlook issues that could develop into significant plumbing problems, and maybe even expensive water damage.

An easy visual inspection or simple test is often all it takes to ensure your plumbing is in good working condition and catch any problem before it becomes as major catastrophe.

Here’s a checklist of 4 common plumbing problems, and what you can do to prevent them from becoming a problem for you:

Washing Machine

Did you know that the average washing machine will use up to 40 gallons of water each cycle?  With that much water pumping through, you want to be sure to check both the supply and wastewater lines about once a quarter.

Sinks

One of the biggest wear-and-tear problems for sinks are the seals and washers which will deteriorate over time. 

You’ll want to check under the sink cabinets for any signs of leaking, which could include dampness, deterioration, or odors.

Toilet

When your toilet starts to wear down, it could lead to higher monthly water bills, or even potential flooding and major water damage.

In order to inspect your toilet, remove the tank lid and flush and make sure all the components (like the flush valve and flapper) are all in good working condition.

One easy way to check for a toilet leak is to add a couple drops of food coloring into the tank.  After a few hours, check the bowl – if you see the dye color, then you know there’s a leak problem.

Showers & Tubs

Showers and tubs are often the most heavily used plumbing fixtures in a home, so it’s important to make sure everything is working properly.

Make sure to check faucets, drains, and shower heads on a regular basis. You’ll also want to check the seals. If caulk deteriorates, it could lead to a mold problem behind your walls.

If you see any signs of damage or corrosion, or if you decide you’d like a professional opinion, our team of experts here at SERVPRO Eatontown/Long Branch can help make sure you minimize any water damage. And if you do need more advanced help, know that we have all the specialized training and equipment necessary to handle even a large-scale water emergency.

Keeping Your Business Safe During Winter

12/7/2019 (Permalink)

Servpro Trucks in front of Office Building It can sometimes take a lot of manpower to clean up a business after storm damage. Taking precautions before a storm can save time and money.

Many areas of Monmouth County are considered to be in low-lying areas, especially in the Two River Peninsula area. If you own a business here, make sure you are prepared before any storm to keep your business afloat afterward.

Prepare by making sure you locate any important documents and valuables and store them in a location that will be dry and secure. 

Check your gutters and spouts to ensure they won’t be clogged when the storm hits, and make sure to have a working sump pump.

If needed, move any electronics or other costly items to a higher floor or at least try to raise them several feet off the floor to minimize any flood damage.

If your business facility floods, your first responsibility is to keep people safe.

Make sure to turn off electricity in any affected areas.  Even if there’s a power outage, the power may be suddenly restored without notice and could cause a shock hazard. If you choose to enter a damaged building, be cautious of any structural compromises or falling debris.  

Clean-Up ASAP

When flooding occurs, the quicker you can start your cleaning and restoration efforts, the better your chances of minimizing long-term damage and costs.

Reconstruction can’t happen until the flood-damaged area has been thoroughly disinfected and dried.

Be aware that although surfaces may feel dry to the touch, that doesn’t mean they are thoroughly dried.  If you are able to remove any wet items from the flood-affected area of your business, make sure they dry completely before you bring them back to where they belong.

Anything porous that gets soaked – like carpet, insulation, or molding – may be beyond salvaging. If so, these items will need to be thrown away to prevent risk of disease from contamination.  Items that can be saved will need to be disinfected and washed in the hottest possible water the item can tolerate. 

If your business suffers storm damage and requires professional cleaning and restoration, rest assured that SERVPRO of Eatontown/Long Branch has technicians with advanced training, skills, and equipment necessary to clean and restore your business.

Getting Ready for Coastal Storms

12/2/2019 (Permalink)

House on beach supported due to erosion Erosion from coastal storms can affect structures built along the beach.

Living on the Jersey Shore means dealing with coastal storms, mostly in the form of hurricanes and nor’easters.

By definition, a nor’easter is a “storm that forms along the East Coast of North America. Nor'easters are named after the direction from which the strongest winds typically blow over the northeast states, including New England and the Mid-Atlantic states. The storms can bring wind, snow, rain and flooding.” 

Here at the shore, most of damage we suffer is flooding and beach erosion due to high surf and tidal surge.

Nor’easter vs. hurricane

Nor'easters and hurricanes both form over the Atlantic Ocean. They're both also types of cyclones-a storm that has winds spiraling around a central low pressure zone.

However, while hurricanes originate over the warm waters of the tropics (near the equator) and rely on warm air to help move and strengthen them, nor'easters originate further north, near the eastern coast of the United States. Also, nor'easters thrive and pick up strength from cold air in the atmosphere, north of the Jet Stream and fueled by low-pressure systems from Canada.

Typically nor’easters are most common during the months between September and April. Because they thrive on cold air, bad weather conditions usually accompany them. These conditions usually include rain, flooding, high winds, snow and even blizzards. Sometimes the winds can be stronger than hurricane-force winds.

Hurricane season typically runs from June through October, with most storms affecting the East Coast during late August through October.

How to prepare for a coastal storm

Winterize Your Home

  • Exposed water pipes should be wrapped with newspapers or a plastic wrap, and faucets should be turned on to allow a trickle to come through to prevent freezing and pipes bursting.
  • Leaking roofs need to be patched or re-freezing precipitation could widen gaps and bring in more water and cold.
  • Clogged gutters should be cleared of fallen leaves and twigs to let liquid flow and not get a chance to freeze so gutters weigh down.

Stock Up on Supplies

  • Canned and Non-Perishable Food: Begin buying a few canned goods before the season with each trip to the supermarket as part of your regular shopping.
  • Bottled Water: You should always keep a few extra gallons of water with some designated for drinking, others for non-consumption and set aside for washing up and cleaning, and even for first aid purposes.
  • Battery-Operated Devices: Keep an assortment of fresh batteries in different sizes for use in flashlights, radios, battery-operated charges and other useful equipment.
  • Generators: Keeping a generator running requires diligent maintenance. Perform all necessary checks, change the oil and make sure you’re stocked with all the necessary equipment and fuel to keep it running. Store it outside of your house at a good distance, since generators emit carbon monoxide exhaust.
  • Emergency & First-Aid Equipment: Keep your home first-aid kit fully stocked with fresh, clean bandages and non-expired topical applicants and gels
  • Keep Your Car Storm-Ready: Things to keep in your trunk are first-aid kit; jumper cables, shovel, scrapers and brushes .You may also want to carry kitty litter or rock salt to free your car from slushy situations.

Being prepared is paramount to making it through a storm unscathed. However there are circumstances beyond anyone’s control that may affect your home which even the best preparation won’t help. In that case, SERVPRO of Hackensack/Little Ferry is your best bet to get your home back to normal after a terrible storm.

Raw Sewage Backup? Why You Need to Call SERVPRO

11/28/2019 (Permalink)

Man wearing Tyvek protective suits It is important to wear protective covering while cleaning sewage.

Let’s admit it, raw sewage is disgusting to have to deal with. But if it’s currently a problem in your home, it’s important to act quickly and get the clean up started as quickly as possible in order to minimize any long-term damage and keep your family safe.

 Until help arrives, make sure you keep any young children or pets away from the affected area. Any adult who may be cleaning raw sewage should make sure to cover up any exposed skin and use safety equipment such as rubber boots, rubber gloves, and safety goggles.

Leaving sewage to the professionals is important due to the possibility of contamination or coming in contact with contaminants. 

The experts at SERVPRO will follow the proper steps to ensure your home will be decontaminated, cleaned and dried professionally and completely by:

  • Pumping out and removing sewage
  • Cleaning & Sanitizing affected area(s)
  • Drying the area to prevent mold growth and the spread of further contaminants.
  • Restoring & Rebuilding

Depending on the situation, it may be necessary to remove carpeting or other building materials. You may find that the raw sewage has damaged parts of your home beyond saving.

If you find you've had a sewage backup, or need help restoring your property after a backup incident, give SERVPRO of Eatontown/Long Branch a call.

SERVPRO of Eatontown/Long Branch is always available

11/8/2019 (Permalink)

SERVPRO truck and trailer in the parking lot SERVPRO of Eatontown/Long Branch is always ready to head out for fire or water emergencies.

Nobody can predict when a water heater will burst, a pipe will break, or your stove will catch fire while you’re cooking. That is why SERVPRO of Eatontown/Long Branch is always available, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Within minutes, water will quickly spread, saturating everything in its path. Water is absorbed into walls, floors, upholstery, and belongings. Within the first 24 hours drywall begins to swell and break down, metal surfaces begin to tarnish and furniture begins to swell and crack. The earlier SERVPRO can get to the scene, the faster water can be extracted from the area and the important step of drying and mitigation can begin.

Fire and smoke is especially destructive. Not only does the structure suffer physical damage, smoke and soot can creep into tiny spaces and settle there, leaving a lingering odor and settling in air ducts, furniture, clothes, and crevices.  In many instances property will also suffer from water damage from firefighting efforts.

Immediate response can mean all the difference in further issues .If you wait too long, there is the possibility of  the appearance of mold and mildew, wood flooring begins to swell and warp or metal and paint being affected. The longer an area remains unmitigated, restoration time and cost increase dramatically; replacing contaminated materials and structural rebuilding may be extensive.

So remember that SERVPRO of Eatontown/Long Branch is available day or night, we are always on call, and we’re always here to help.

Why SERVPRO Can Help When Your Sump Pump Fails

11/1/2019 (Permalink)

About and inch of standing water in a basement A malfunctioning sump pump can inundate a basement with water quickly, leaving a messy clean-up.

If you’ve invested in a sump pump, congratulations! A sump pump is your extra layer of protection to keep your basement or crawlspace safe from flooding and water damage. But what happens if your sump pump fails?

Here are 5 common reasons why sump pumps fail and what you can do about it:

An Overworked Sump Pump

If there’s a problem with your switch, or excessive amounts of rain or water flow, there’s a possibility your sump pump could continuously run until it burns out. Typically, sump pumps should only run for under a minute at a time.

Check how frequently your sump pump is running. If major storms will be a common occurrence, you may want to consider installing a secondary pump which can work alongside your first pump and empty the water basin more quickly when there’s heavy waters.

A Clogged Sump Pump

The drain lines that feed into the basin of your sump pump often carry bits of dirt and debris that can build up over time and clog the pump. When this happens, the pump may turn on, but it won’t function properly. 

In order to keep your sump pump running smoothly, it’s a good idea to clean it out once a year. Make sure to use a wet/dry vacuum to remove both water and dirt from the bottom of the basin. 

Power Problems

Power problem are one of the most frequent causes of sump pump failures. If your sump pump runs on electricity, you’ll be in trouble if you lose power during a major storm. That’s why you want to make sure to have a battery backup.

Unfortunately, battery backups can be expensive. As an alternative, consider a manual pump or a water-powered pump as your backup in case of a power outage.

Lack of Maintenance

Admittedly, it’s not pleasant to have to clean a sump pump – they’re typically dirty, smelly, and can be difficult to reach in a tight crawlspace. However, a sump pump that isn’t cleaned and properly maintained will wear out faster.

It’s a good idea to test your sump pump at least once a month to make sure it’s working properly. Then, every 6 months you will want to unplug the unity, drain the basin, and clean it out. Once you reassemble the unit, don’t forget to test it with several bucketfuls of water.

 Older than 6 – 12 Years

Depending on how frequently your sump pump runs, it should last between 6 to 12 years.

If you know your pump is getting older or you’re unsure of its age, it’s a good idea to test and clean it more often. If you start to notice the onset of any problems, you should consider replacing the unit sooner than later to prevent a backup.

If your sump pump does fail, and you find yourself dealing with water damage, at least you can rest assured that SERVPRO of Eatontown/Long Branch is close by to help. Our team of expert technicians have all the tools and training needed to deal with any size disaster, and we offer 24/7 emergency service for when you need it.

5 Common Causes of Water Damage in Homes and Businesses

10/30/2019 (Permalink)

Large chunk of damaged sheet rock from ceiling lies on living room floor Water damaged the ceiling of this home, and ended up with the ceiling collapsing onto the living room floor

Do you have a water problem?  Water is plentiful in nature and essential to life, but too much water in all the wrong places can be disastrous to homes and businesses. Water can breakdown drywall, hardwood, and other structural elements of a building as well as lead to hazardous mold conditions

Here at SERVPRO of Eatontown / Long Branch, we know how important it is to diagnose and fix a water problem quickly, before it turns into a catastrophe.  Although sometimes the cause of water damage is obvious and unavoidable – major flooding from a hurricane, for example – there are actually several common causes of water damage that start small but can turn big and hazardous, especially if they go unnoticed.

In order to help you prevent water damage, here are 5 common causes of water damage you should pay attention to:

Backed Up Sewage

When sewage backs up, there is potential danger both from water damage and waste that can carry bacteria, parasites, and other contaminants.

Open floor drains are typically the most common cause of backed up sewers, but they can happen even with a closed waste system.

Leaks in Your Roof

It is common for roof shingles and decking to wear out over time, and as your roof weakens, there is an increased chance that rain or snow will lead to water damage.

Unfortunately, it is common for a roof problem to go undetected until it is too late. That’s why it’s a good idea to make a visual inspection of your roof at least twice a year. Also, pay attention to your ceilings for any signs of water stains, soft spots, or mold.

Problems with Your Foundation

Damaged foundations are also a common cause of water damage. Cracks, gaps, and general wear and tear to your foundation can make it possible for water to start to seep into your basement or crawl space, sometimes so slowly that it can go unnoticed until there’s a problem.

It’s a good idea to check your foundation regularly, and especially after storms or rapid snow melt when any small problem might quickly intensify.

Leaks in Your Plumbing

The valves and fixtures of your plumbing system will wear down over time and may cause at first just tiny leaks that easily go unnoticed, especially if the leaks are behind walls or otherwise hidden from plain sight.

To help prevent leaks, make sure to check your valves at least twice a year and replace them every 20 years or sooner depending on their condition.  If the valves are behind walls, be on the lookout for signs of water spots or sagging drywall.

A Malfunctioning Sump Pump

A sump pump is designed to help you prevent water damage, but if the sump pump itself fails, you’re in trouble.

In order to keep your sump pump in good running order, it’s smart to service it at least once or twice a year. You can do this yourself by pouring a bucket of water into the sump pump basin to make sure it’s working properly. You may want to consider replacing your sump pump about every 7 years depending on use.

Here at SERVPRO of Eatontown / Long Branch, our mission is to be “faster to any disaster.” So, if your home or business is in need of help for water damage, our team of advanced technicians will be on hand bringing the advanced equipment and specialized training needed to clean and restore your damaged property as quickly as possible.

Why SERVPRO Can Help if You’re Selling a Home with Mold

10/25/2019 (Permalink)

Mold growing on basement wall insulation Basements are the prime space in homes that are prone to mold growth.

If you’re thinking about selling your home, one issue you may have to deal with is the presence of mold Unfortunately, a mold problem can be quite common in homes where there are persistent sources of water and moisture – and a significant mold issue can make it difficult to sell your home with a good return on your investment. 

Here at SERVPRO of Eatontown / Long Branch, we know how difficult it can be to deal with mold. While a small mold problem – less than 10 sq. ft. – is something you may be able to clean on your own, mold can also easily get out of control, especially if it’s growing behind walls or above ceiling tiles, etc.

While dealing with a significant mold problem is never pleasant, the issue can be especially challenging if you want to now sell your home.

Don’t make the process of selling your home harder than it has to be! Here’s a simple 3-step process for dealing with a major mold issue before you put your house up for sale:

If you suspect a mold problem, get an inspection

There are common signs that indicate you may have a mold problem. If you notice any of the following, it’s a good idea to have your home professionally inspected so you know exactly the extent of the problem you may have:

  • Signs of visible mold on walls, ceilings, or floors
  • Stains or discoloration
  • Musty smells
  • Building materials that are deteriorating or “soft”
  • Sudden or persistent respiratory problems or allergic reactions

Make sure to disclose the mold problem

If you currently have or have recently had a mold problem, this information is something you must include in your disclosure agreement.

It’s a good idea to be as specific and detailed as possible about the extent of the mold problem and the steps you have taken or will take to solve it. Make sure to document the process and provide proof of work through reports, receipts, and paperwork.

Get the help of a trusted professional mold removal provider

When you’re going to be selling your home, you want to make sure you hire trained, licensed and/or certified professionals to remove the mold.

This is important, because an expert mold removal provider will not only have the advanced equipment and training needed to thoroughly clean and sanitize the affected area, they will also be equipped to address the water source that caused the mold problem in the first place.

Reputation matters, and you want to be able to show future buyers that your mold problem was fixed by a name they can trust.

Document all aspects of the mold remediation and removal process

When you’re planning to sell your home, it’s a good idea to save all the paperwork associated with any mold remediation services you get. This includes the initial estimate, work order, and any mold testing reports.

It’s also a good idea to document the process with before and after photos, including photos you take with your smartphone.

While this may seem overdone, it’s better to be more cautious than not. In the event that a future buyer files a legal claim against you, a court will be looking for these kinds of records in order to side in your favor.

SERVPRO of Eatontown / Long Branch has been a trusted mold remediation and removal provider for homes throughout Monmouth, Ocean, Middlesex and Mercer Counties. Our team of experts can handle all aspects of a mold problem to make sure your home is ready for sale.

If you’re interested to find out more about how SERVPRO can help fix your mold problem for good, just give us a call at: 732-858-5196

Fire Damage? How to Start the Cleaning Process

10/21/2019 (Permalink)

Charred contents in home caused by fire Calling SERVPRO of Eatontown/Long Branch helped this homeowner clean up after a fire.

If you’ve experienced fire damage in your home or business, you’ve undoubtedly observed that smoke and soot can unfortunately damage almost all kinds of surfaces and materials. While some items are easy to replace, it’s a good idea to try to salvage as much as you can.

The good news is: there are many fire damaged items you can clean (or at least start to clean) all by yourself with easily available cleansers and cleaning techniques. In fact, it’s a good idea to get started cleaning as quickly as you can, in order to prevent the effects of long-term damage. However in most cases, CONTACT YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY, everything from cleaning to replacement is most likely covered.

Here’s a guide to help you get started cleaning up after a fire:

Remove Smoke and Soot Stains from Wood

As long as your wooden items aren’t charred, you should be able to clean them with a mild oil soap. Rinse with water, and let them air dry.

Remove Smoke and Soot Stains from Upholstery

If you can remove stained upholstery, bring it to a dry cleaner that specializes in cleaning fire damaged fabrics. At home, you could try washing it in a solution of water mixed with white vinegar and baking soda.

If you have upholstery that’s can’t be removed, start by vacuuming the surface with a shop vac, keeping the hose just above the surface to prevent rubbing in the stain even more. Next, sprinkle the stain with baking soda and allow it to sit for at least one hour. Then, spray the stain with white vinegar and wipe with a damp rag.

For hard-to-clean stains, you may have to let the baking soda sit longer (sometimes overnight) and/or repeat the cleaning process multiple times.

Remove Smoke and Soot Stains from Metal

When cleaning metal, you want to be sure to use a polish that is specially designed for the specific type of metal you have. Typically, the process is just to gently rub the stain with the polish and then wipe away with a clean rag, but be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Remove Smoke and Soot Stains from Glass

To clean glass, you can often use a commercial glass cleaner or a homemade solution of one-part water to one-part vinegar. You’ll want to avoid spraying the glass, as this can leave smoke streaks. Instead, apply the solution to the rag and start wiping at the edge of the stain moving inward.

Remove Smoke and Soot Stains from Leather

You can clean fire damaged leather with a specialized leather soap and conditioner.

You want to be sure not to get the leather too wet, as this can create additional stains. Also, you’ll want to apply the soap gently to avoid scratching the leather.

If you need help to restore your property after fire damage, SERVPRO of Eatontown/Long Branch is always available to help.