Recent Posts

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.

Preventing Basement Flooding Due to Snowmelt

2/13/2020 (Permalink)

Stone Wall Commercial and residential damage both require the proper attention in order to mitigate properly.

We commonly associate basement floods with rainy seasons, but did you know that your basement can flood at any time during the year as long as moisture is present? Even if yours has never previously flooded, most basements are prone to flooding because they are located below ground level. Moisture in the ground can seep through basement walls, which can result in flooding if there is an excess amount of moisture in the ground. During the winter season, winter storms often generate significant amounts of snow, ice, and other forms of freezing precipitation. After particularly heavy snowfall, the melted precipitation is absorbed by the ground, resulting in an excess of groundwater, which can make its way into basements and cause flooding. Consider these tips in order to prevent your basement from flooding due to snow melt this winter and spring:

Remove Snow

When shoveling snow after a heavy snowstorm, make sure to shovel snow at least five feet away from the foundation of the home in order to prevent the snow from immediately seeping into basement walls when it melts. This will create a special barrier between the moisture-packed soil and the basement’s foundation. In addition, it may be beneficial to clear snow from roofs and overhangs so that when snow falls or melts off of those areas, it will not land at the base of the home, contributing to more moisture surrounding the basement.

Fix Cracks in Foundation

Cracks in a basement’s foundation may facilitate flooding, as moisture would have an easier time seeping into the basement. In order to prevent a basement flood, which can damage valuables and facilitate mold growth, cracks must be repaired. Filling in cracks with epoxy can serve as a short-term solution, but a more permanent fix might require professional assistance. A solid foundation and walls will protect your basement from water, decreasing the chances of a basement flood due to snowmelt this winter or spring.

If Your Basement Floods…

Sometimes, even if preventative measures are taken, basements can still flood despite our best efforts. If this occurs, it is imperative that the water is removed as quickly as possible in order to avoid mold growth and further damage. If the flooding is minimal, using a wet vacuum to remove water and dehumidifiers to air out the area may be effective. However, if the flooding is significant, professional restoration may be necessary. Calling SERVPRO of Hunt Valley & Harford County will ensure that flood water will be thoroughly removed and that your basement will be restored "Like it never even happened."

Update Your Security With The Emergency Ready Profile

2/6/2020 (Permalink)

Two Men carrying a filing cabinet The Emergency Ready Profile, the next step in property security.

The SERVPRO of Hunt Valley & Harford County

Emergency READY Profile Advantage

Did you know as many as 50% of businesses never recover following a disaster? The majority of businesses that do survive had an emergency preparedness plan in place. Being fully prepared with proper planning can bring you peace of mind. When you are "Ready for whatever happens" this provides a solid level of trust with your clients and employees, so that if there is an emergency event and your business is affected by a disaster, you’ll be able to recover as quickly as possible.

By developing a SERVPRO of Hunt Valley & Harford County READY Profile (ERP) for your business, you minimize business interruption by having an immediate plan of action. Knowing what to do and what to expect in advance is the key to timely mitigation and can help minimize how water and fire damage can affect your business.

  • FREE Program!! We will provide an assessment of your facility at no cost to you.
    This is a high quality, digital profile with no need for you to allocate funds. This program provides exceptional value with zero cost.
     
  • A Profile Document containing critical information needed in an emergency.
    Completion of your profile will only take a little time to complete without taking you away from your current work projects, but it will save a lot of time if ever needed.
     
  • A Digital Guide to help you get back into your building after a disaster.
    Having a complete, updated Emergency Ready Profile can help minimize the amount of time your business is affected by a disaster by having an immediate plan of action.
     
  • Establishes SERVPRO of Hunt Valley & Harford County as your disaster mitigation and restoration provider.
    You’ll have a go-to source with a provider recognized as the industry leader right around the corner.
     
  • Identifies the line of command for authorizing restoration work to begin.
    This saves time so we can begin the work of mitigating the damage which can save you time and money.
     
  • Provides facility details such as electrical box and water shut-off valve locations, as well as priority areas such as entrances, exits, and priority contact information.
    Your team will be fully ready with a quick reference of who to call, what to do, and how to do it providing you with solutions in advance of an emergency situation so you’re "Ready for whatever happens."

Are You Ready to Get Started?

Sign up below and a representative of SERVPRO of Hunt Valley & Harford County will be in contact with you in the next 24 hours.   

For a consultation, E-Mail our ERP Coordinator, Colleen Kilchenstein @ Colleen@sphvhc.com with the following!

Your Name:
Company Name:
Location:
Dates and Time Available:

We thank you for your interest! Remember, creating an ERP isn't just establishing a plan for Loss Mitigation, it's establishing a Security Standard.

Job of the Quarter (Q4 2019)

2/3/2020 (Permalink)

pipes coming out of a building One of our Air Scrubber's in action.

Job of the Quarter - “One Stop Solution Shop”



Baltimore was founded in 1729, 47 years before the Declaration of Independence was signed. In terms of the “new world”, it’s an old city.

 In the last 291 years since the city’s founding, major advances in construction, engineering, and innovation have occurred. Unfortunately, Baltimore city’s sewage system has not made the advances necessary to bring it to modern-day standards. An article from www.cleanwateraction.org summarizes it best:

“Baltimore City’s sewage system was designed with dozens of Sanitary Sewer Overflow Structures: intentional release valves that allowed sewage to overflow into streams, rather than streets or people’s basements. Although this was a best practice in the early 1900’s, using streams as open sewer pipes is a significant public health and environmental threat…”

“In 2002, Baltimore City finalized a Consent Decree… outlining how it would end the chronic sewage overflows into local streams that were fouling the Inner Harbor…”

“Between 2002 and 2016, Baltimore City completed half the work that was described in the Consent Decree - but backups of sewage into homes in Baltimore grew from a minor problem to a major hazard” According to an investigation by the Baltimore Sun, in 2004, the Department of Public Works responded to 622 sewage backups and by 2015, that number had hit nearly 5000.

 “When we closed those other 60 overflows that actually increased the number of basement backups that we saw in the city. Again, because the sewage has to go somewhere.” ~Department of Public Work’s General Counsel

At SERVPRO of Hunt Valley & Harford County, we see sewage backups quite regularly throughout the city and counties. In early November, we were honored to help multiple homeowners recover from a large sewage backup affecting the basements in all eight of their attached city row homes. We decided to choose this job as our “Job of the Quarter” not only for our expedited response to completion timeline, but also because it is a great example of our full-service capabilities.

The call came into our office early on a Friday afternoon and we had crews onsite within 30 minutes to start extraction of sewage from the row home basements. Because drywall will wick up water as quickly as 1inch per hour and sewage qualifies as a Category 3 water loss (water containing unsanitary agents, harmful bacteria and fungi, causing severe discomfort or sickness), it was necessary to cut drywall and remove insulation to 2’ to allow for proper drying and sanitation. All contents in the basement affected by sewage were removed and disposed of as well. Even including a few appliances. We pride ourselves on being the “one-stop solution shop” for all of our customer’s problems. We were able to handle replacing appliances for those homeowners and continued on to provide even more timely solutions.

Many people don’t realize SERVPRO of Hunt Valley & Harford County not only mitigates your disaster, but we will put it all back together as well. “Like it Never Even Happened”, remember? That’s exactly what we did for the 8 row home basements affected by this mass sewage backup. Our mitigation teams finished up and our rebuild team moved in, We replaced all of the contaminated insulation, installed fresh drywall, and repainted the entire basement. Our team laid new carpet, tile floors, installed new kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanities, and tiled the kitchen backsplashes. New doors and trim work were installed and painted and appliances were put in place. All of this, times 8 homeowners and completed in a matter of 35 days. 

Our team members certainly signed up for a dirty, messy, and labor-intensive job. However, the pride they take in making people’s lives come back together quickly and efficiently couldn’t be greater. This is what all of us at Team Wall’s SERVPRO Disaster Recovery Team love to do… we love being your “One Stop Solution Shop”!

Why We Love Our New Matterport System

1/28/2020 (Permalink)

Sections of a house The "Dollhouse" viewing option, allows us to get a birds-eye-view of the damage.

Have you ever been disappointed with the amount of time that insurance claims take to settle? If you're a qualified insurance or property manager, you realize that time is money! The cost and time involved in the resolution of a property dispute is usually based on the expertise and quality of the contractor undertaking maintenance and repairs. The retention of your insured or tenant is at great risk when you employ a contractor whom lacks the expertise, training and equipment to provide accurate estimates. Nevertheless, when you hire the right expert to help settle your lawsuit, you'll get pinpoint accuracy with your calculation, quick turnaround time and quality work. At the end of the day, your claim is handled fairly, quickly and your insured or occupant is rewarded with your service.

The Introduction of Matterport! The most sophisticated 3-dimensional camera ever made. With more than 2 million spaces recorded, Matterport holds the world's largest database of 3-D structure files. The Matterport is a game-changer to settle claims more effectively due to high-definition images, accurate measurements of detailed floor plans and guided tours. Imagine if you could literally stroll through a home or commercial structure to assess damage without ever having to leave your office chair... now you can!

No more messing around with hand-drawn sketches and having to take your own measurements because you have no confidence in the contractor you hired to help settle your claim. As an insurer, consultant or property manager, you can now view digital environments from multiple angles to take accurate measurements, access three-dimensional, self-guided tours, OBJ files 4 K print-quality photos and detailed floor plans. As an advanced media company that has created the first end-to-end video capture system, Matterport has transformed the concept of the restoration and rebuilding industry.

Why We Love Our New Matterport System

1/28/2020 (Permalink)

Sections of a house The "Dollhouse" viewing option, allows us to get a birds-eye-view of the damage.

Have you ever been disappointed with the amount of time that insurance claims take to settle? If you're a qualified insurance or property manager, you realize that time is money! The cost and time involved in the resolution of a property dispute is usually based on the expertise and quality of the contractor undertaking maintenance and repairs. The retention of your insured or tenant is at great risk when you employ a contractor whom lacks the expertise, training and equipment to provide accurate estimates. Nevertheless, when you hire the right expert to help settle your lawsuit, you'll get pinpoint accuracy with your calculation, quick turnaround time and quality work. At the end of the day, your claim is handled fairly, quickly and your insured or occupant is rewarded with your service.

The Introduction of Matterport! The most sophisticated 3-dimensional camera ever made. With more than 2 million spaces recorded, Matterport holds the world's largest database of 3-D structure files. The Matterport is a game-changer to settle claims more effectively due to high-definition images, accurate measurements of detailed floor plans and guided tours. Imagine if you could literally stroll through a home or commercial structure to assess damage without ever having to leave your office chair... now you can!

No more messing around with hand-drawn sketches and having to take your own measurements because you have no confidence in the contractor you hired to help settle your claim. As an insurer, consultant or property manager, you can now view digital environments from multiple angles to take accurate measurements, access three-dimensional, self-guided tours, OBJ files 4 K print-quality photos and detailed floor plans. As an advanced media company that has created the first end-to-end video capture system, Matterport has transformed the concept of the restoration and rebuilding industry.

Employee of the Quarter (Q4 2019)

1/17/2020 (Permalink)

Man with SERVPRO Logo Stamp Enrique Moran, excited to be praised for his excellent reconstruction work here at SERVPRO!

The following is an official write up from Jamie Alder, our Operations Manage for Reconstruction, regarding the exceptional work of one of our team members. This was presented at the End of the Year meeting last week for all to see and hear.

Jamie Alder:

EMPLOYEE OF THE QUARTER

This guy has been with Bella & SERVPRO since December 2015. He has worked his way up from a Production Crew Member to a Production Lead. He has a great work ethic and shows that on a daily basis with the Quality of Workmanship that he produces. Over the years he has improved greatly by learning new skills, running jobs, and having an "I can do anything" attitude, all while performing this with little to no supervision.

His Consistency of work shows by getting positive reviews and high scores on our Certificate of Satisfactions on a regular basis.

A lot of times we go onto jobs where we are under the gun so to speak and the people are upset due to the length of time that it has taken to get to this point by the Insurance Company. After speaking with the customer, he has been able to relax some intense situations with his Hustle and coming up with the Solutions needed to perform the job accurately and efficiently so he can exceed the expectations of our customer.

He is a problem solver by knowing there is always more than one way to do something. He also helps to show other employees how to gain the needed skills for them to be successful as well as by instructing and showing them how to do things in order for them to succeed. Everyone that has worked with him has stated “they enjoy working with him” along it is shortly followed with “He is a work horse!!!”

With that being said will you please help me in Congratulating

THIS QUARTERS EMPLOYEE OF THE QUARTER:

ENRIQUE "KiKi" MORAN

Owner's Corner: 1st Quarter 2020

1/3/2020 (Permalink)

Photo of the Owners Jim & Trish at the top of Mt. Mansfield

Owner's Corner

The following is an excerpt from our quarterly newsletter. It is an anecdotal tale from our own Trish Wall, simply recounting her vacation, but leaves us all with a lesson about understanding and triumphing over our human nature. Fear and the unknown.

Without further ado, a journal entry by Trish:

Here I sit. 2pm on New Year’s Eve with 10 more hours left in 2019. My mind has been reeling the last few days reflecting on what defined us in 2009 and what defines us now turning over into a new decade. Perhaps most of you won’t set eyes on this stream of my consciousness until well into the start of the New Year, but if you don’t mind my rumination, I’d love to share my “ah-ha” moment that is setting the tone for our second decade as entrepreneurs, leaders, and, most importantly, parents. I hope you get a little something out of it, and if not, at least you can come away with a new word of the day… rumination (www.dictionary.com never fails me).

"If you don’t step out of your comfort zone and face your fears, the number of situations that make you uncomfortable will keep growing."

When you start to think back through the defining moments, heartbreaks, and triumphs you have lived the last ten years, it starts to feel a little heavy. Ten years can seem like such a vast expanse of time, yet fly by faster than Usain Bolt in the 100M dash. The natural human instinct is to want to look back only to see how far you’ve come. It’s in our DNA to evolve after all. Survival of the fittest means constantly striving to create a better version of ourselves. But, are we? How can 10 years; 3,650 days; and countless moments pass us by and we haven’t become the person we want to be? Maybe you’ve made strides towards it, but what’s the secret to getting to the finish line? I’m not claiming to have THE answer, but my family vacation this week sure got me thinking.

We decided to spend our Christmas a little differently this year. We skipped the big presents, hosting of the families, fancy dinner that took me all day to cook, and endless cleaning. Instead, we headed north to Vermont to try our hand at skiing. Just the 5 of us for a few days of family, fun, and relaxation. Have we ever skied? No. Not really. Jim had taken our 3 boys for an afternoon a few years ago, and me, well I took a ski class in college. Yes, ski class is a legit thing! I got an A, thank you very much, however, that was 18 years ago. And it was on a “mountain” with a 500 foot vertical drop. According to my fuzzy memory that seemed pretty high. But, then we rolled into Stowe, VT and my palms started getting sweaty. 

Day one we dropped the kids off at ski school, awkwardly locked our skis into our boots, and headed blindly up the lift to the top of Mt. Mansfield (which I later learned is the highest mountain in Vermont, 3rd highest in New England... just for a little perspective). We were above the clouds. We were above the ever… loving… clouds. Let me just review. I learned to ski in college on Tussey Mountain, a 500 foot vertical drop. I now stood, two decades later, at the top of Mt. Mansfield, a 2,360 foot vertical drop, with only one way down. And all I could think was, “Jim did it to me again” (and maybe a few other select words sprinkled in there).

It’s what drew me to him at the start of our relationship. I had grown up very “stay in your lane”; adventure was something I saw in the movies; my risks were always heavily calculated; and the most dangerous thing I’d ever done was riding my bike to Dairy Queen without my mom knowing. Don’t judge. My mom could make Dirty Harry shake in his boots.

Jim was the complete opposite. He was 27 when we met and he had already had more adventures than I could hope to have in a lifetime. And his visions for his future were filled with challenges and opportunities that would never have crossed my mind in a million years. “Stay in your lane”, remember? He’s pushed me past my comfort zone more times than I can count. I truly give him credit for giving me the drive and confidence to jump into uncomfortable situations and find my way out. And I have grown exponentially because of it. 

So let me bring you back to the top of Mt. Mansfield. Jim had done it to me again. He put me somewhere I was completely uncomfortable, forced me to jump in, figure it out, and hopefully have some fun along the way. And I did it. Twice. It wasn’t pretty and I won’t be considered for the Olympic Ski Team anytime soon, but I conquered my sweaty palms, frayed nerves, and Mt. Mansfield on skis. 

I wouldn’t say this “being comfortable being uncomfortable” is a personality trait Jim learned. It’s ingrained in his DNA. It’s who he is without thinking twice about it. But, I’d say for most of us out there, that is an anomaly. Who would want to live in a constant state of discomfort? Sounds like a prescription for Xanax to me. 

All kidding aside though, my “ah-ha” moment was looking over the crest of that daunting mountain, the 3,578th time Jim had pushed me to sink or swim. If we are looking for a life of comfort, we might very well miss the opportunities to become who we want to be. We will wake up on New Year’s Eve 2029… another decade passing us by… and have nothing to show for it. Don’t get caught in the trap of “staying in your lane”. Do what scares you. Find someone that pushes you. Move the things that make you uncomfortable to the top of your to-do list. I promise you, one day they will become second nature and you will probably wonder why on Earth you found them so scary in the first place? And then, most importantly, make sure to fill that list back up with more things that scare you. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Ready or not… ski down that mountain!

Team Wall is running into 2020 with this mentality and I hope you all will too. There are big things to conquer out there. Godspeed and go forth and conquer, my friends!

Sincerely,

Trish and Jim Wall

P.S. We are challenging our team members to submit 3 things that make them uncomfortable. In 4th quarter 2020, we will pass them out again to our team and see how far they’ve come in conquering their fears. Please feel free to participate! I’ll keep it confidential, but hopefully be someone to keep you accountable.





Space Heater Safety

11/20/2019 (Permalink)

Firefighters After Space Heater Fire

With temperatures dropping as we turn the corner into November, a heated home is becoming more necessary to relieve us from the chilly temperatures in Hunt Valley & Harford County. For many homeowners, space heaters are a popular method of providing that desired warmth. While they perform a helpful function, space heaters can also become dangerous. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated in 2013 that 25,000 residential fires and 300 deaths are caused each year by space heaters. However, with a thorough understanding of space heater safety, you can utilize your space heater while keeping your home and family members safe.

   Space heaters can ignite fires if they come into contact with combustible items. Therefore, space heaters should be situated at least 3 feet away from combustible items, which can include curtains, rugs, papers, furniture such as sofas or beds, and clothes. They should also be kept on flat surfaces, away from major walkways in which someone could bump into the heater, knocking it over. Before using a space heater, always check to make sure that it has not been damaged in any way. Examples of damage can include frayed cords, cracks, and loose plugs in addition to damage to the heater itself. If you find that your space heater has been damaged, do not plug it in. Finally, it is a good idea to never leave your space heater unattended while it is in use, as it could ignite a fire with no one present who could notice the smoke or smoke smell and contain the fire. This is why it is crucial to unplug and turn space heaters off before leaving the house or falling asleep.

   It may also be beneficial to have smoke detectors and alarms installed on every level of your home in order to detect fires as soon as possible. If you have children or pets in your home, make sure that they don’t get too close to the heater while it is in use in order to avoid injuries. In the event that a fire ignites as a result of space heater usage, call SERVPRO for any fire damage restoration needs.

Freezing Rain

11/20/2019 (Permalink)

Frozen House Frozen Rain stuck to a house

With colder temperatures moving in, the Hunt Valley and Harford County areas are beginning to see their first glimpses of snowfall and experience the first freezes of the season. During this time, the chance for freezing rain becomes heightened due to cold ground temperatures. Freezing rain occurs when the atmosphere is too warm to produce snow, so the precipitation falls as rain and freezes into ice upon hitting a freezing surface, such as the ground, roads, or bridges. Freezing rain can be dangerous due to its effects on roadways, sidewalks, and even power lines. For this reason, it is important to understand how to deal with freezing rain and what precautions you can take before a storm producing freezing rain.

   Freezing rain is significantly more difficult to deal with than snow or other winter precipitation, as it cannot simply be shoveled. Because the rain forms ice upon hitting the ground, surfaces such as driveways, sidewalks, and roadways can become covered in a layer of ice that is not always easily visible. Icy roadways and surfaces often simply appear to be wet, which can be deceiving, as driving or walking on ice is significantly more dangerous than driving or walking on a wet surface. Another threat that freezing rain poses is the accumulation of freezing rain on power lines and branches. As the rain freezes into ice on the cold surfaces of power lines and tree branches, accumulate large amounts of ice, which weigh down upon them, eventually causing them to break. This can leave homes or businesses without power until power lines are repaired and risk damage due to heavy, falling tree branches.

   With these dangers considered, it is beneficial to take precautions prior to a storm that is forecasted to produce freezing rain. Firstly, purchasing salt will be helpful so that you can salt your home or business’ sidewalks and driveways, which will begin working to melt the ice as soon as it hits the ground. Because freezing rain can cause power lines to break, your home or business could lose power for a certain amount of time. The ice produced by the freezing rain can also make it unsafe to leave your home until it has melted. In either of these cases, stocking up on essentials such as batteries, flashlights, toilet paper, bottled water, and blankets will alleviate the need to venture out of the house for those essential items while it is unsafe to go anywhere.