Recent Posts

Understanding HVAC Systems

5/11/2020 (Permalink)

Air Conditioning Unit Are you in the know?


HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems will soon be kicking into gear to keep businesses cool during the hot and humid summer season ahead. When used frequently, HVAC systems can be fire hazards. Commercial fires can have many origins, including cooking equipment complications, electrical circuit malfunctions, or even careless mistakes. Fires caused by HVAC complications are not incredibly common, but the damage can be devastating, so it is important to gain an understanding of the common hazards of HVAC systems in order to most effectively protect your commercial business from damage.

Three Common Hazards
The first of the three common fire hazards associated with HVAC systems that will be discussed is a leaking fuel line. When flammable fuels, such as petroleum, gas, and oil, leak out of an HVAC unit, they may ignite, thus increasing the likelihood of a fire. Regular maintenance is helpful in preventing this type of HVAC fire hazard, as leaking fuel lines can be difficult to detect otherwise.


A second common hazard is compromised electrical connections within the HVAC unit. As they become older, connections loosen, which can result in burnt or exposed electrical wires. These loose connections can be the catalyst of HVAC fires. Such fires often smell like burning plastic and therefore, this smell can be an early warning sign of this type of fire.


Finally, clutter in the area surrounding your HVAC unit can not only risk damage to the unit, but it can also increase the probability of a fire that ignites within an HVAC unit spreading to other areas of your commercial business. HVAC units are often stored in closets or other types of storage areas. Therefore, objects such as crates, boxes, cleaning supplies, or other equipment may be situated in close proximity to the unit. These surrounding objects can damage the HVAC unit itself and in the event of the unit catching fire, these objects can quickly and easily catch fire like a line of dominoes falling, spreading the fire to other areas of your business. This spread can make for an even larger, more devastating fire in your commercial business.

Experienced a Fire?
If your commercial business has experienced an HVAC fire and is left with fire damage and resulting water damage from emergency cleanup, contact SERVPRO. Our highly trained fire and water damage restoration specialists are here to your commercial business back up on its feet as quickly as possible.

Tips for Dealing With a Leaky Dishwasher

4/27/2020 (Permalink)

So many of us rely on our dishwashers on a daily basis for washing and cleaning dishes, cups, and silverware. Because dishwashers are an everyday appliance, they are used frequently, which can instigate leaks or flooding. If enough water escapes the dishwasher at once, your kitchen and surrounding areas may be at risk for serious water damage. Additionally, even a small leak that can be resolved easily and does not appear to be a major threat to your home can have significant repercussions if a series of small leaks creates a large enough buildup of water over time. For these reasons, it is important to note some of the common causes of dishwasher leaks and floods, as well as effective means of cleaning them up in order to reduce the amount of water damage that your home must endure as a result of a leaking dishwasher.
Causes
While there are many reasons as to why your dishwasher might flood, there are three common causes to consider. The first common cause is an issue with the dishwasher door, such as the door latch becoming bent or not being latched properly. If you observe water accumulating directly underneath your dishwasher’s door, the leak or flooding is most likely due to a complication with the door. Using the inappropriate type of dishwasher detergent can also lead to leaking or flooding. Regular dish soap creates a plethora of foam and suds, so if it is used in the dishwasher in place of detergent, the excess suds can push against the dishwasher door and potentially escape, resulting in a significant leak or flood. Finally, the third common cause is the dishwasher overfilling with water. Occasionally, a dishwasher unit can take in a greater amount of water than it should, which prevents the unit from being able to drain properly. When this occurs, water can be forced out of the dishwasher and pushed onto the floor.
Cleaning Up
The first step in the clean up process should always be to shut off both water and electricity in order to stop water from flowing out of the unit and prevent electric shock if electrical outlets are located near the unit. Next, it is important to remove as much standing water as possible in order to minimize the amount of restoration needed. This can be achieved by mopping or using towels to absorb the water. Once this has been completed, check for water damage in any surrounding areas, such as cabinets, pantries, and furniture. Be sure to remove items from cabinets or pantries that have experienced water damage, as well as those nearby if the water spreads and affects other areas. Finally, use a wet-dry vacuum to remove any remaining standing water from the floor. In order to prevent the growth of mold or mildew, it is important to disinfect any surfaces that came into contact with the leak or flood from the dishwasher in addition to opening any kitchen windows and utilizing dehumidifiers to keep air circulating.
Need Additional Help?
Call SERVPRO for help resolve water damage to your home caused by a leaking dishwasher. SERVPRO’s trained water damage specialists and advanced drying equipment offer fast and effective remediation, making it “Like it never even happened.”

Spring Mold Prevention

4/10/2020 (Permalink)

Special Cleaning Mold needs to be handled properly, in the wrong hands, mold can regrow.

Birds are singing, flowers are blooming, and temperatures are getting warmer little by little. It’s evident that spring is in the air. Spring weather motivates us to open windows and breathe in the fresh air, but it may be surprising to know that doing so can increase the chances of mold growth in your home due to the presence of moisture and humidity in the air. Many different surfaces, such as carpet, wood, and insulation, can serve as reservoirs for mold as long as moisture is present. It is also important to note that mold is capable of growing at any point during the year, but warmer temperatures and greater humidity in the spring increase the risk of mold growth during the season. Understanding what actions you can take in order to prevent mold growth will prove absolutely essential in protecting your home and those living in it from the harmful effects of mold this spring.
It is extremely important when protecting your home from mold growth during the spring to facilitate the circulation of air within your home so that warm air will not become stagnant in one area. Air can be circulated efficiently with the help of fans and moisture in the air can be decreased through the use of a dehumidifier. It is important to remember that humidity levels indoors should not be greater than 45%. It may also be beneficial to keep an eye on areas of the home that are cold or dark, which are especially susceptible to mold growth. To help prevent mold growth in these areas, do your best to expose these areas to natural or artificial light.
Finally, after rain showers or storms, which are prevalent during the spring, make sure to frequently check areas around windows and doors for mold growth. Moisture from rain water can gather around windows and doors, which can lead to mold growth if not dried immediately. Additionally, because temperatures indoors and outdoors differ during the springtime, condensation is often prevalent on doors and windows. Moisture from condensation, when met with humidity, can also lead to mold growth if the area is not dried.
If mold becomes visible on a surface in your home, be sure to diligently scrub the surface with water and detergent. After doing so, make sure that you dry the surface thoroughly in order to prevent further mold growth in that area. Small-scale, isolated mold growth is typically manageable, but larger-scale mold growth can be overwhelming and require professional remediation. Call the mold remediation specialists at SERVPRO in order to assess the situation and take care of your home’s mold infestation in a timely manner.

What Does FEMA Have to do With Waffles?

4/5/2020 (Permalink)

Waffles These are waffles

A storm roared through the East Coast many years ago, in 2004. FEMA went to work, doing what they could to assess the damage and to help the disaster-stricken communities. Around the same time, out of this slew of hurricanes would grow an informal measure which would confuse civilians for years to come. The Waffle House Index. What is The Waffle House List exactly? What does delicious fluffy syrup-ey goodness have to do with Emergency Management?     
Well, a researcher working for FEMA at the time found that by examining the actual operating state of Waffle Houses in the affected area one could potentially measure how serious a natural disaster was to the communities in the surrounding areas. When the store is open, green light, if the store is running on a small menu, yellow light, and if the store is shut down entirely, red light. Those were the key measurements.   Although the theory may have seemed strange, it turned out that FEMA could get a fairly good idea of the extent of the situation in a certain area. It began as a sort of joke until FEMA administrator Craig Fugate coined the word in May 2011 (https:/n.pr/2JznNEc).
Now, with the current epidemic, The Waffle House Index is being put to the test again but now on a nationwide scale. If we can take anything from this story, its that being able to support your community in its time of need is the most important thing one can do. Whether that's staying inside at all times, or gearing up and going out to help the good of mankind. Good risk management is one thing, but understanding how to prepare for any size disaster, and being able to hold the foundation of our communities because of our preparedness is a trait that we hold pride on as well. SERVPRO Disaster Recovery Team-Team Wall, chooses to be that foundation for our community every day we put our boots on the ground. We are here to help. We are here to commit. We are here to serve.

If you would like to learn more about this topic, why not start at the Wikipedia page? If you're feeling so kind, they are in need of donations in order to stay running. All donations are appreciated. 

Proactive Cleaning Services

3/20/2020 (Permalink)

Clasroom Photo Anytime, Anyway, Anywhere.

In the light of the recent outbreak, several businesses have been forced to close their doors. Yet because of the nature of our jobs, we're still available, we're still on call, we're still here to support.
SERVPRO of Hunt Valley & Harford County has a range of programs to support all kinds of companies in their time of need to propel them back to their feet when it's time to re-open their business.

We are now providing Viral Cleaning, also known as Proactive Cleaning, to make sure that your location is up to code and clean in the event of a viral outbreak in your home. Through using Electrostatic Fogging, we can offer less costly per square foot operation, more extensive coverage, and provide certified evidence that your facility has been cleaned by a qualified IICRC accredited company as opposed to conventional disinfectant and sanitation services. In fact, the drug we use is free of allergens and so healthy that it has been certified for human consumption.

If you are interested in this service, please call us using the button below or, if you are so inclined, call us for further details. We're here to help, we're here to get our nation back on its feet, and we're here to make it "Like it never even happened."

3 Ways to Prevent Wind Damage Due to Spring Storms

3/16/2020 (Permalink)

Spring storms, bringing the potential for severe thunderstorms, strong winds, and even tornadoes, have the ability to cause damage to homes. Specifically, strong wind can cause trees to break and damaged shingles, which can compromise the safety of your home. Wind strength varies from calm to hurricane-force depending on the storm. According to FEMA, strong winds most commonly impact roofs, doors, windows, and garages. Damage to any of those four areas of the home can potentially affect the structure of your home, requiring major repair. Before even hearing news that a severe storm carrying strong winds is on its way, there are several steps that you can take in order to protect your home from serious wind damage.

Maintain Landscape and Trees

First, pay close attention to any trees that surround your home, as wind can cause tree branches to break off or the entire tree to fall, thus risking damage to your home if trees are located close enough. Also, be mindful not to over-water trees, as over-watering often results in shallow, weak root systems, facilitating the possibility of trees falling during gusty winds. In addition, objects such as patio furniture, grills, or other backyard items can become projectiles during strong wind, which can damage your home if they are not anchored down or stored in a safe place, such as a shed.

Inspect the Roof

Because they are not in our usual line of sight, sometimes we are not aware of the condition of our roofs or shingles until serious damage has been inflicted upon them. In order to prevent unexpected, serious roof damage, survey the roof at least twice per year. Watch for loose or missing shingles and water damage in the attic, as both can be signs of damage. Hiring a roofing professional to inspect your roof may also help in spotting underlying issues that can save your roof from further destruction during strong wind. Finally, if possible, it may be beneficial to invest in weather-resistant shingles the next time that they need to be replaced.

Reinforce Windows and Doors

Utilizing storm shutters on windows and doors can help protect them from flying debris caused by strong winds. Storm shutters can be purchased but nailing plywood to windows and doors can also make for effective storm shutters. Lastly, garages cannot be forgotten. If particularly strong wind is expected, garage door bracing kits can be purchased, which will help keep the garage door in place during the storm.

Proactive Cleaning Services

3/12/2020 (Permalink)

SERVPRO Crew in PPE SERVPRO Disaster Recovery Team preparing to enter a contaminated area.

"The World Health Organization announced the coronavirus to be a global pandemic at a press conference on Wednesday leading to a flood of new steps and initiatives being taken around the world to fight the virus."  What once felt like a distant glimpse of possibility is now feeling too tangible and reaching close home. Towson University, Loyola, Morgan State University, a few public schools in Prince George's County and several more are all taking precautionary measures and closing because of potential COVID-19 exposure. Field trips, conventions, and public sporting events were canceled, and  after school activities. Shelves in the grocery store are bare and everybody asks... what more?

It's a chaotic time and we take comfort in those moments when we know that something is being done to help. SERVPRO has some key messages and most important is "We Are Here to Help." SERVPRO is now out on the streets more than ever working to contain the newly announced pandemic and mitigate its impacts.

The hardest-hit facility so far is in an assisted living facility in Kirkland, Washington. The Disaster Recovery Team at SERVPRO is actively focused on sanitizing, disinfecting and cleaning this building from top to bottom using specialized methods of cleaning and application. In compliance with the guidance issued by the CDC and local authorities, SERVPRO performs all cleanup and bioremediation activities.

It is important to note that the cleaning methods need to be more sophisticated and effective with this level of Bioremediation than just wiping hard surfaces with disinfectant. Health comes first and with the use of PPE and protective masks, our teams adhere to OSHA and CDC guidelines. We use the fogging methods to more deeply disinfect. SERVPROxide, the hospital-grade disinfectant, is released from the fogger, and its particles adhere strongly to surfaces and objects. The procedure must ensure that all surfaces including walls, doors, floors, and ceilings are uniformly coated. Instead, we follow our initial fogging with a wiping of all surfaces followed by a further fogging round. It is an extreme and comprehensive disinfection process, which should be the norm when dealing with this magnitude of a virus hazard.

Our team is ready to assist with preventive or post-contamination cleaning to avoid interruption of industry, education, and events. We are describing "Proactive" as cleaning that occurs when no person is suspected of being exposed to COVID-19. It would be a smaller area of study since no verified case has been identified.

If there was exposure to anyone suspected of either testing positively for COVID-19 or being subjected to someone displaying symptoms in your facility, we call this "post-contamination" cleaning. In this situation, the scope of work and the required safety measures will increase.

Eliminating exposure to this virus is the most important step we can take to mitigate its spread across our world. For more information on how to protect your company, your employees and your building, please contact our team.

Contractor Connections - Golden Hammer Award

3/9/2020 (Permalink)

Golden Hammer Award Plaque Our coveted Golden Hammer Award.

For 2018, we were kindly awarded the Golden Hammer Award for Top Performance in the restaurant industry.

This award is presented to those who perform exceedingly well in various metrics, including customer service, job performance, response time,  turnaround and cleanliness. We would like to thank Contractor Connections for acknowledging the hard work and commitment of SERVPRO of Harford County & Hunt Valley over the past year! Contractor Connection is the national renovation and repair company leader. They partner with a network of top-quality contractors (such as ourselves) to fit customers to their restoration and repair needs as well as possible. All contractor access to their network must be reviewed by their history, insured and approved and must have excellent credentials before accepting them into the network.

Burst Pipes 101

3/2/2020 (Permalink)

Pipe held by wrenches Making routine checkups on your plumbing is pertinent to preventing water damage.

Spring is right around the corner, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that cold temperatures will disappear overnight. Rather, temperatures will fluctuate in the coming months, with some warm days that are characteristic of spring, alongside some cold days. These variable temperatures can wreak potential havoc on your commercial business through their effects on pipes, which can lead to water damage in the event that they burst. Water within the pipes expands and contracts when temperatures fluctuate, which leads to increased pressure in the pipes. Pipes burst under this pressure. Because burst pipes can cause devastating water damage to your commercial business, it is important to understand ways in which burst pipes can be prevented as well as how to best deal with the damage if pipes were to burst in your building.

Prevention

First and foremost, make sure that your commercial business is protected by an insurance plan that covers water damage caused by burst pipes, as cleanup services can be costly. Pipes that are located outdoors or in unheated places should be wrapped in insulated sleeves in order to prevent the water inside from freezing during cold weather. If pipes do freeze, it may be beneficial to let water run through the pipes in order to avoid bursting. Finally, checking pipes on a daily basis for small leaks is a helpful preventative measure to take, especially when temperatures drop.

If Pipes Burst…

Immediately turn off water, electricity, and heating systems at the first sight of burst pipes in order to limit the damage caused by the ruptured pipes. Documents, inventory, and other important items should be moved to a safe location as soon as possible, as they can become damaged or destroyed in water in the wake of burst pipes. If it is safe to do so, check the building for signs of water damage, such as stains or discoloration, musty smells, or mold growth. It may also be beneficial to open doors and windows, as doing so allows air to move through the building, drying any damp areas and preventing the growth of mold or mildew. It is important for your commercial business to quickly get back on its feet following burst pipes, so call SERVPRO in order to restore any areas of your business affected by water damage as quickly as possible.

Home Cooking Fire Safety

2/19/2020 (Permalink)

Pot on Stove-Top Always remember, oil and water can cause large scale fires in your kitchen.

Cooking is an everyday activity that occurs in the majority of households, but did you know that the majority of household fires result from cooking? We cannot simply avoid cooking in order to lessen the risk of a fire igniting in the kitchen, but there are undoubtedly measures that can be taken both before cooking and while cooking to protect your home from a fire.

Before Cooking

Prior to cooking, make sure that your cooking surface is free from any flammable kitchen materials, including paper towels, oven mitts, or wooden objects. Grease, oil, and food debris can accumulate on stove tops and in ovens after cooking, which increases the risk of an unwanted fire igniting, so before cooking, it is beneficial to clean those areas. Finally, like ovens and stoves, pots and pans can become adorned in oil and grease from previous cooking excursions, which can instigate unwanted fires if not cleaned before they are placed in the oven or on a stove top. Taking a moment to wipe down all cooking surfaces and materials prior to cooking will help to significantly decrease the chances of a dangerous fire igniting while cooking.

While Cooking

While cooking, be sure that you remain in the kitchen and stay attentive to what you are cooking. Leaving cooking objects unattended increases the risk of a fire igniting that could quickly become out of control. Therefore, if you must leave the kitchen for a short period of time, make sure to turn off the stove. However, there are some cases, such as baking or roasting a dish for long periods of time, in which it would be unreasonable to never leave the kitchen unattended. When cooking such items, use a timer in order to remember to regularly check on the food.

Even when preventative measures are taken, there is still a chance that a fire could ignite while you are cooking. In order to protect your home, make sure that your home is equipped with smoke alarms and that a fire extinguisher is stored in the kitchen at all times. If the fire is small and manageable, extinguishing the fire yourself may be an option. However, if the fire grows large and becomes too much to handle, exit the house safely, make sure that everyone else in the house has escaped, and call 911. Contacting the fire department will hopefully limit the damage caused by the fire to your home. However, if the damage is significant, remember to call SERVPRO in order to ensure that the damage is remedied quickly and efficiently.