Equipment Upkeep

In the mold remediation and water damage restoration business, there’s many pieces of equipment that are vital to completing a job.  Mold Remediation will use equipment like Air Machines, (Scrubbers and Negative Air), HEPA vacuums, Fog machines etc.  While Water Damage Restoration will use equipment such as Turbo Fans, Axial Fans, Dehumidifiers and more.  So why is this important for a home owner to know?  Because without the proper upkeep of this equipment, your home or business could be subject to cross contamination, improper removal of mold, and structures that aren’t dried correctly.  Many companies new and old alike, will buy used equipment from large franchise outfits that have already used them for several thousand hours.  One location will purchase the equipment, and then sell it to a newer franchise and so on, before it’s finally dumped back into the market, where smaller companies purchase them for pennies on the dollar.  These machines have been used for several years and can log up to thirty thousand hours of use or more, and now are being brought to your home.  Is this always a bad thing?  Not necessarily.  But the chance that these pieces of equipment have been maintained properly throughout the years is very minimal.  Which brings us to another point.

Many companies even with newer equipment, do not maintain them properly.  It is completely fine for a home or business owner to inspect the equipment being used.  For air machines, new filters should be visible for each job.  Contractors who arrive to a job with dirty filters are already risking cross contamination by just introducing that machine into the home even before turning it on.  All equipment should be clean and free from dirt or soot, while fans and dehumidifiers should also be pushing out the appropriate amount of air.  When fans are nearing the end of their life cycle, they’ll tend to make a lot of noise, push out a minimal amount of air and drain your electric.  You can always get a hint of the caliber of contractor you’ve hired from the type of equipment being used and how well it’s maintained.  If they can’t maintain their own equipment, how could they do a good job in your home?

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The Risks of Hoarding

Many fire departments are experiencing serious fires, injuries, and deaths as the result of compulsive hoarding behavior. The excessive accumulation of materials in homes poses a significant threat to firefighters fighting fires and responding to other emergencies in these homes and to residents and neighbors. Often, the local fire department will be contacted to help deal with this serious issue. Since studies suggest that between three and five percent of the population are compulsive hoarders, fire departments must become familiar with this issue and how to effectively handle it.

Why is hoarding an issue for the fire service?

  • Hoarding can be a fire hazard. Many occupants die in fires in these homes. Often, blocked exits prevent escape from the home. In addition, many people who are hoarding are injured when they trip over things or when materials fall on them.
  • Responding firefighters can be put at risk due to obstructed exits, falling objects, and excessive fire loading that can lead to collapse. Hoarding makes fighting fires and searching for occupants far more difficult.
  • Those living adjacent to an occupied structure can be quickly affected when a fire occurs, due to excessive smoke and fire conditions.

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Protecting Basement Storage

Most homeowners utilize their basements for storage, but protecting them is something many don’t think about until a disaster occurs. A failed sump pump, for instance, can spell disaster if you have cardboard boxes full of belongings piled on the floor. That’s why, if you have basement storage, it can’t hurt to take steps when it’s dry to help protect your items from potential water damage.

Preserve Your Memories
The Library of Congress advises against storing photographs in the basement, which may be prone to leaks or extreme temperatures. The U.S. National Archives and Record Administration also suggests avoiding the basement, unless it has a dehumidifier; otherwise, your photos may be exposed to moisture that could case them to get stuck together. But if your photos end up down there, you’ll likely want to preserve your memories the best you can. The National Archives suggests storing photographs in plastic enclosures made from uncoated pure polyethylene, polypropylene or polyester to preserve them.

Store Important Files in a Safe
If you’ve ever waited in line for hours to receive a new Social Security card or if you travel frequently, then you know how important it is to keep birth certificates, savings bonds, passports and other critical documents in one place that is easy for you to access. If you plan to keep these documents in the basement, you also need them to stay dry. The Federal Emergency Management Agency suggests storing important documents in waterproof containers in a high location, or in a waterproof or fireproof safe.

Don’t Forget Your Digital Files
You’ve finally created digital files of your favorite photos and saved your almost-finished novel on a flash drive. Where should you store these digital files? Consider stashing your files in a safe. Before purchasing a safe, think about what you want to preserve. As noted by Consumer Reports, some safes can reach interior temperatures of 350 degrees Fahrenheit; depending on the format of your digital files, such as CDs used to store family photos, you may want to consider selecting a safe that better protects its contents from high temperatures.

Save Your Stamps
A little water in your basement could potentially wipe out a lifelong hobby if, for instance, your stamp collection is not properly stored. If you must store such valuables in your basement, the Smithsonian National Postal Museum advises placing your items on a high shelf. The museum cautions, though, against using a shelf located along a concrete wall or or near an exterior door, as heat, humidity and even dryness may put your collection at risk.

Care for Seasonal Decor
From special holiday decor that has been in your family for generations to the newest addition to your collection of Halloween inflatables, storing seasonal items in your basement can be a cumbersome task. When it’s time to take down those holiday decorations, the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment at the University of Kentucky (UKAg) recommends laundering any washable items, such as tablecloths, before returning them to storage. Ornaments and other decor should be cleaned thoroughly at the end of the season, too. And, the organization adds, keeping those boxes off the ground can help prevent moisture from entering them.

Perform Routine Maintenance
Some regular maintenance may help prevent water from trickling into the basement. According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, homeowners should inspect sump pumps annually to ensure the pump’s components are not jammed or tangled. Don’t forget the exterior of your house, too. Seattle Public Utilities suggests cleaning gutters and drainage downspouts about twice per year to keep water flowing off and away from your home. While you’re at it, the agency recommends directing downspouts so that water flows away from your foundation; don’t direct the flow to your neighbors’ homes, either.

Basements can come in handy when it comes to storing items you don’t need to access regularly, but they may also be sources of dampness or subject to extreme temperatures. By making the effort to store your various belongings appropriately, you can help ensure that they are in the same condition you left them in the next time you need them.

Washer & Dryer Maintenance

Washers and dryers were involved in one out of every 22 home structure fires reported to U.S. fire departments between 2006 and 2010. Incidents of clothes dryer fires are higher in the fall and winter months and peak in January, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The leading cause of clothes dryer fires is a failure to clean the dryer of dust, fiber and lint. Lint is highly combustible and can lead to reduced airflow, posing a fire hazard in clothes dryers.Here are several safety tips for properly maintaining your washer and dryer:

Ensure proper installation
Be sure to have your washer and dryer installed and serviced by a professional. Check your washer and dryer manuals to ensure that your electrical outlet is appropriate for your plugs. If you have a gas dryer, have it inspected by a professional to make sure the gas line and connection are working properly and don’t have leaks.

Maintain the lint filter
Always clean the lint filter before drying each load of laundry. If you are drying a new item that creates a lot of lint, such as a bath towel or bath mat, consider drying it for half a cycle and then pause to clean out the lint filter before continuing to dry the item. Regularly check the dryer’s drum for lint accumulation.

Inspect the vent
The dryer vent is located outside of your house. It’s a good idea to periodically check to make sure air is coming out of the vent while clothes are drying. If no air is coming out of the vent, turn off the dryer and inspect the vent for blockage. Accumulated lint, a bird’s nest or even small animals can block vents.

Check the exhaust duct
Make sure the duct that runs from the back of your dryer to your wall and outside to your dryer vent isn’t clogged with lint or debris. If there is a blockage, you may have to remove the duct to clean it out. Consult with a professional before making any changes to your dryer’s exhaust duct.

Basic washer and dryer safety tips
Follow these basic safety tips when using your washer and dryer.

  • Don’t overload.
  • Read and follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions.
  • Don’t run the washer or dryer when you aren’t home or when you are sleeping.
  • Keep the entire area clean and free of clutter, boxes and other materials.
  • Don’t store items on the top of the washer and dryer.
  • Consult the operating instructions prior to washing or drying an item that has been soiled with chemicals such as gasoline, cooking oil or paint.

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Identifying & Testing Fire Alarms – Part 2

Now that we’ve discussed the types of fire alarms found in many home and small businesses, let’s see how to test them.

How to Test It
You should always check the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper method of testing your smoke detector and fire alarm. But, in general, most battery-powered and hardwired smoke detectors can be tested in the following way:

Step 1. Alert family members that you will be testing the alarm. Smoke detectors have a high-pitched alarm that may frighten small children, so you’ll want to let everyone know you plan to test the alarms to help avoid frightening anyone.

Step 2. Station a family member at the furthest point away from the alarm in your home. This can be critical to help make sure the alarm can be heard everywhere in your home. You may want to install extra detectors in areas where the alarm’s sound is low, muffled or weak.

Step 3. Press and hold the test button on the smoke detector. It can take a few seconds to begin, but a loud, ear-piercing siren should emanate from the smoke detector while the button is pressed. If the sound is weak or nonexistent, replace your batteries. If it has been more than six months since you last replaced the batteries (whether your detector is battery-powered or hardwired), change them now regardless of the test result, and test the new batteries one final time to help ensure proper functioning. You should also look at your smoke detector to make sure there’s no dust or other substance blocking its grates, which may prevent it from working even if the batteries are new.

Remember, smoke detectors have a normal life span of 10 years, according to the USFA. Even if you’ve performed regular maintenance, and your device is still functional, you should replace a smoke detector after the 10-year period or earlier, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions. Installing smoke detectors can be a great way to help keep your family safe, but assuming they are working may lead to a dangerous situation. Taking a few minutes to check them regularly can help ensure they’re working properly.

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Identifying & Testing Fire Alarms – Part 1

Smoke detectors and fire alarms may be some of the most important items in your home when it comes to your family’s safety. These early warning devices may help alert your family to fire and dangerous smoke while there is still time to evacuate, but they need to be periodically tested to help ensure proper function.

Why Do It?
Electronic devices are not infallible. Batteries die, and other parts of the smoke detector can wear out over time. Testing them regularly and replacing batteries (or the entire device) is one way to help ensure your family stays safe should there be a fire in your home.

How Often?
According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), smoke detectors should be tested at least once a month and batteries should be replaced at least twice a year. A good way to help remember to do this is to change your batteries when you change your clocks for daylight saving time — when you spring forward or fall back. Make sure to review your smoke detector’s user manual — you may need to check more often if any of the following apply:

  • The detector often gives false alarms.
  • The alarm emits short beeps regularly without anyone touching it.
  • Frequent kitchen smoke has caused it to activate often, which may wear it out faster.

There are two main types of smoke detectors, according to the USFA:

Battery-powered:  This type can be susceptible to defective or worn-out batteries. Monthly testing is critical. Never put old batteries into your smoke detectors and fire alarms.

Hardwired:  These detectors are powered by your home electrical system, but they usually have back-up batteries so the device can remain operational in a power outage. Hardwired smoke detectors still require monthly testing to help ensure that both batteries and parts are functioning properly.

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2016 Angie’s List Winner

For the 6th Year straight, we’ve won the Angie’s List Award for our service industry.  NO other company we compete against has ever won the award four times, and we’ve won it 6 consecutive years, setting the standard in disaster restoration like no other.

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