Preparing Your Home and Car for the Blast of Winter Cold
Always be PREPARED!
If you live in the Midwest, you know the drill. Four to five months of heavy clothes, seeing your breath and generally freezing outside. Sometimes even elsewhere, Old Man Winter stops in for an unexpected visit. But beyond the inconvenience and discomfort, a winter storm or other severe weather conditions can cause real damage. So it's important to think about winter preparedness.
Protecting your home is vital. A frozen water pipe can burst and flood your house or basement. An ice dam in your gutter can cause water to seep into and saturate an interior wall. And then there’s your car. Making sure it’s prepped to face winter’s worst is just as critical. After all, what would happen if a blizzard stranded you in your car?
Some winter weather tips to help you get through a severe stretch of cold:
- Stay indoors during the storm.
- Walk carefully on snowy, icy walkways.
- Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. It’s a serious workout, and going at it too hard can bring on a heart attack − a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside.
- Stay dry. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits the cold rapidly.
Prepare your home
Some tips to brace your home for a winter storm:
- Clean out the gutters, disconnect and drain all outside hoses. If possible, shut off outside water valves.
- Insulate walls and attics, and caulk and weather-strip doors and windows.
- Repair roof leaks and remove tree branches that could get weighed down with ice or snow and fall on your house – or your neighbor's. (Avoid liability for the latter.)
- Wrap water pipes in your basement or crawl spaces with insulation sleeves to slow heat transfer.
- Consider an insulated blanket for your hot water heater.
- If you have a fireplace, keep the flue closed when you're not using it.
- Have a contractor check your roof to see if it would sustain the weight of a heavy snowfall.
- Make sure your furniture isn't blocking your home’s heating vents.
- During cold spells, keep cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate around pipes, particularly those in the kitchen and bathrooms.
- Keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets connected to pipes that run through unheated or unprotected spaces.
- If your house will be unattended during cold periods, consider draining the water system.
- Avoid ice dams – where water from melted snow refreezes in the gutters and seeps in under the roof, soaking interior walls. Here’s how:
- Ventilate your attic.
- Insulate the attic floor well to minimize the amount of heat rising through the attic from within the house.
- Consider having a water-repellent membrane installed under your roof covering.
Prepare your car
Prepare your car for treacherous conditions and extremely cold temperatures – and know what to do if you find yourself stranded in a vehicle. When the temperatures start to drop:
- Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive, travel during the day.
- Don’t travel alone. Keep others informed of your schedule.
- Stay on main roads and avoid back road shortcuts.
- Top off antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid, gas, oil and other fluids.
- Make sure your tires have enough tread. Consider snow tires.
- Keep bagged salt or sand in the trunk for extra traction and to melt ice.
- Clear snow from the top of the car, headlights and windows.
- Save the numbers for your auto club, insurance agent and towing service into your cell phone.
- Keep a cold-weather kit in your trunk. It should include a blanket or sleeping bag, gloves, hard candy, bottled water, folding shovel, first aid kit, flashlight and cell phone charger.
5 Steps to be Prepared for Water Damage
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Most water damage that happens to your home is uncontrollable and unpredictable. It could potentially cost you thousands of dollars. When the water starts coming into your home, there is not much you can do to stop it but there is a couple things you can do to prepare for it. Here are a few steps you can take so you can be prepared for the worst.
Step 1: Stop the Source of the Water
If it is possible, stop the water at its source. If it has to do with your plumbing then turn off your water line as soon as possible. This will help with decreasing the amount of damage.
When the flooding occurs from storm water, there is no stopping a storm but you can try and divert the water away from your home by blocking entry points.
Step 2: Think Safety
If it safe, then shut off all electrical sources by turning the circuit breakers or unplug devices. Water and electricity don’t mix, remember that. Make sure everyone, including children, are away from standing water.
Step 3: Protect Your Possessions
Try and remove or raise your furniture from flood water. Water soaked furniture begin to mold very quick and you the last thing you will want is to throw away all of your belongings after a flood. Protect the things that are irreplaceable rather then carpet and other flooring.
Step 4: Contact Your Insurance Company
Now is the time to call your insurance and see how they will approach the water remediation. All insurance companies have professionals who specialize in this kind of emergency so they will have the best people to restore your home back to normal. Do not try to remove the water by yourself. You can just end up cause more damage.
Step 5: Work With the Professionals
When you are choosing a company to perform your water remediation; you need to compare everyone highs and lows. Make sure they have good reviews and are available at your earliest request. SERVPRO of Raytown/East Kansas City is highly dependable and will exceed your expectations for your water remediation.
How to Keep Mold and Moisture Out of Your HVAC System
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Tips and Tricks From SERVPRO to Keeping Mold and Moisture Out Of Your HVAC System
In the warm summer heat, it's easy to build up moisture; especially when it gets sticky, muggy and humid. When this happens, you naturally crank the A.C., reach for something cold, and kick back in your lazy chair. The problem is, when you're relaxing and enjoying the nice cold breeze, mold is spreading through your ducts, vents, and HVAC system, leaving a nasty haze of mold that you can smell all over the house. If you're running a business, your customers could smell it too- which is why you should always call our service professionals to deal with the problem as soon as possible.
How Does Mold Get in The HVAC System?
Mold damage in Raytown/East Kansas City is no laughing matter. Mold, fungus, and other bacteria are in their perfect environment when they're trapped in your HVAC system. It's dark, warm, moist, closed in, and humid, meaning that spores can grow practically unabated. You'll notice more and more scent as heat and humidity is generated from outside and pulled through your ducts.
When this moist air gets in your air system, it collects within and above your HVAC units. At this point, the spores of mold and other fungi easily rise through the air, setting up colonies as your condenser forces them up through the duct system. These aren't the only cases of mold that we've seen at SERVPRO; we've seen mold stick to people's clothes or shoes, and it's all brought inside by excess humidity caused by rainfall.
Here Are a Few Tips on How to Remove Mold From Your HVAC System
1. Continue to clean and maintain your HVAC system, even when you aren't using it. Check the ducts for wet spots, and regularly check and maintain your HVAC filter.
2. Double check the drainage systems on your HVAC for mold. Allow for "dry-out" areas where the drainage comes out to prevent excess moisture.
3. Get dehumidifiers for your home. They are ideal for collecting excess humidity, and they help with the temperature inside your house, too.
4. Always insulate your pipes, walls, and ceilings. Use caulking for cracks to control cracks and leaks.
5. Contrary to common beliefs, keep your windows closed when it's hot outside. Humidity, dust, and dampness easily travel inside.
Holiday Home Safety Tips
Call SERVPRO of Raytown/East Kansas City if you have any damage to your home during the Holidays. 816-737-8776
Holidays are near which means more entertaining and cooking; which could increase the risk of fire and accidents.
Follow these tips to stay safe during the Holidays:
- Before you go to bed or leave the house, make sure you turn off all the lights to refrain from a fire.
- Use only non-combustible and flame-resistant materials to trim your tree.
- Make sure you keep an eye on your food; unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires.
- Have a steady base so the tree won't tip over easily.
- Decorations should be at least 6 inches above children's reach.
- Replace old mittens or mittens with threads loose to protect your child from getting it tangled around their neck and choking.
- Do not discuss travel plans with strangers.
- Have a neighbor or close relative keep an eye out on your house.
Top 5 Most Common Causes of House Fires
If you experience a fire in your home, don't hesitate to call SERVPRO of Raytown/East Kansas City at 816-737-8776
Here are top 5 most common causes of house fires as identified by the National Fire Protection Association.
From 2007-2011, the NFPA says there were an average of 10,630 fires in the U.S. that were started by candles, causing 115 deaths, 903 injuries and approximately $418 million in property damage. That is an average of 29 candle fires per day.
- Never leave a candle burning near flammable items.
- Never leave a candle burning in a child’s room or an unoccupied room.
- Make sure candles fit securing into candle holders so they won’t tip over.
- Blow out any candles before leaving a room or going to sleep
While the number of fires caused by smoking is trending downward, the NFPA found that there were still an average of 17,600 related fires per year resulting in 490 deaths and more than $516 million in property damage.
- If you smoke, consider smoking outside.
- Use wide, sturdy ashtrays to catch butts and ashes.
- Look for cigarette butts under furniture and between seat cushions to make sure no lit butts have fallen someplace where they can’t be seen.
- Don’t smoke in bed, when you’re tired or around medical oxygen.
- Electrical & Lighting
According to the NFPA, in 2011 approximately 47,700 home structure fires were caused by some sort of electrical failure or malfunction. These resulted in 418 deaths, 1,570 injuries and $1.4 billion in property damage.
- Don’t overload outlets or electrical cords.
- Make sure you have the right cord for the job – inside cords for inside, heavy duty/outside cords for outdoor use.
- Don’t leave Christmas lights, Christmas trees, or halogen lights on overnight or when not at home.
- Consider having an electrician perform an annual checkup of your home’s wiring.
- Dryers & Washing Machines
Clothes dryer fires happen more often than one might think, accounting for 16,800 home structure fires in 2010 and doing more than $236 million in property damage.
- Clean the lint screen frequently and don’t run the dryer without it.
- For gas and propane dryers, make sure there aren’t any leaks in the lines.
- Vent the dryer to the outside of the house and ensure nothing blocks the vent pipe.
- Clean the vent pipe and the area where the screen is housed.
- Keep the area around the dryer free of combustible materials.
From 2007-2011, NFPA says there were an average of 22,600 fires per year caused by lightning strikes.
- Stay away from doors and windows during an electrical storm.
- Do not use corded phones, computers, TVs or other electrical equipment during storms.
- Unplug major electronics – TVs, stereo equipment, computers and microwaves to minimize damage if there is a lightning strike close by.
- Avoid plumbing such as sinks, baths and faucets during a thunderstorm.
Tips to Avoid Freezing Pipes
Don't let frozen pipes flood your life with unexpected problems!
Why Pipe Freezing is a Problem
Water has a unique property in it that expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. No matter the “strength” of a container, expanding water can cause pipes to break. Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets. Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation are also subject to freezing.
If your pipes do freeze and cause damage to your home or business, STAY CALM AND CALL SERVPRO Raytown / East Kansas City, we can make it “Like it never even happened.®”
During a freeze, Take Preventative Action
- Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
- When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing.
- Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
- If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55°F.
To Thaw Frozen Pipes
- If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
- Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
- Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electrical heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes in towels soaked by hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
- Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you can not thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.
Commercial Cleaning Services
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If you are a business owner, or run a particular business that receives a lot of visitors and foot-traffic, you know how important it is to keep your business looking clean and in good shape. A lot of times, you don't have the time to worry about the common wear and tear that gradually soils your office.
When grime, odor, and moisture challenges go beyond the scope of your regular janitorial staff, you should call SERVPRO of Raytown/East Kansas City for prompt service. Whether it’s removing an odor problem or deep cleaning flooring or carpets, you can rely on us to make your workspace look its very best.
SERVPRO of Raytown/East Kansas City offer cleaning services ranging from cleaning restaurant hoods to removing biohazard contaminants. We have the specialized training and products to get your property back to business. Our cleaning services include the following:
- Air Ducts and HVAC
- Biohazard and Sewage
- Trauma and Crime Scene
- Carpet and Upholstery
- Drapes and Blinds
- Ceilings, Walls, and Hard Floors
- Odor Removal and Deodorization
3 Warning Signs of Mold
Be on the lookout for these signs of mold!
Nothing sends shivers through a homeowner's spine like mentioning the word "mold." Not only can it cause damage to your home and make it hard to sell, it also can be a health hazard to you and your family. Here are three warning signs of this insidious fungus that you don't want to ignore:
1) Water spots
Any wet spot in your home can be a potential sign of fungus growth. This can include water spots on your ceilings or walls, or on floors in your basement or crawlspace. If you find evidence of water spots, you need to find the potential moisture source and get it taken care of promptly. Using a highly-recommended remediation company like SERVPRO of Raytown/East Kansas City is the best option.
If you find a spot on a wall or floor that's discolored, it is a potential sign of mold. Discoloration that is green or black is a definite warning sign of fungus growth. However, any discoloration can mean growth is present, even if it isn't of the tell-tale colors.
3) Bad smell
If you have fungus growth in your home, it can cause a bad smell. Depending on the type of growth and how much of it you have, you could have a very strong smell or one that is faint. It can smell musty or earthy, or it can produce a smell that is more pungent. Any bad smell needs to be investigated.
Mold can be harmful and is not something to be ignored. If you experience any of these warning signs, call SERVPRO of Raytown/East Kansas City to investigate. Our staff receives extensive training on how to effectively deal with mold infestations. We also have the equipment and start of the art techniques to carry out remediation tasks and keep your home safe and clean.
How SERVPRO Assesses Flood Damage After a Dishwasher Breakdown
Raytown/East Kansas City relies on SERVPRO for cleanup and water removal.
SERVPRO's Array of Measuring Devices Ensures a Dry Home Post Flooding
Dishwashers are a welcome addition to many households. After all, who does not love being able to simply rinse the dishes, set the cycle, and let the machine do the work? It is very convenient. However, like any other appliance, a dishwasher might malfunction, and a dishwasher breakdown often equals a flood of water in your kitchen.
Flood damage to your Raytown/East Kansas City home can be a serious cause for concern. A dishwasher might cause a surprisingly large flood in your kitchen, so naturally, you want to get that cleaned up as quickly as possible to mitigate any further damage. That is why we recommend you put in a call to SERVPRO at once -We’re Faster To Any Size Disaster.
An essential element of our job is assessing the damage to your home. A thorough assessment lets our experts know how much moisture is present, which is vital information that we need to decide upon the best course of action.
A visual inspection is an important first start, but of course, that is only one part of the process. Our teams come prepared with a range of powerful equipment to help us assess the flood damage to your home:
A moisture sensor to help us ascertain how deeply water has penetrated into soft materials. The sensor displays a blinking light and makes an audible beep when moisture is present, and this allows us to measure the extent of the damage. We have other models that work silently.
A moisture meter to help us measure how much moisture is in any structure. Meters are useful for testing the damp content of every part surrounding your dishwasher including not only the floor but also walls, wall insulation, cabinets, and rugs or carpets. Do not worry if you have a wooden floor. Our SERVPRO experts also come equipped with penetrating moisture meters that can be used to take a reading under wood flooring or even inside the wall. Our technicians calibrate the instrument to suit the material that we are testing.
Thermo-hygrometers. Thermo-hygrometers measure the temperature and the relative humidity in your kitchen. Our technicians use these readings to determine the extent of the water damage. This is usually used after the water has been removed, a verification that a standard RH has been attained.
A complete evaluation of the situation assists us in drawing up an effective individual drying plan for your kitchen. We monitor moisture and humidity throughout the drying process so you can rest assured your kitchen is at optimum dryness and humidity before we call the job done. We can also provide documentation to your insurance company.
Dangers of Flash Flooding
If flooding does occur in your area, listen to and adhere to weather alerts and warnings and know your risk!
Flooding is the number #1 weather related cause of death, with majority of those deaths caused by flash flooding. Flash flooding is when there is a large amount of rain that comes down within minutes or hours. Other causes can be heavy rain associated with a severe thunderstorm, hurricane, tropical storm, or melt water from ice or snow flowing over ice sheets or snowfields.
If flooding does occur in your area, please remember
- Listen to NOAA Weather Radio for current and forecasted conditions in your area.
- If flooding begins in your area, go to higher ground immediately.
- When driving, always be aware that the road bed under flood waters may be severely damaged. NEVER drive through flooded roadways. Remember that it takes only two feet of water to carry away a vehicle, including pickups and SUVs.
- When walking, do not attempt to cross flowing streams. Remember that it takes only six inches of rushing water to knock an adult off his feet.
- If your vehicle stalls, get out immediately and go to higher ground.
- Be extra cautious at night, when it is harder to see possible flood dangers.
- These four words could save your life: TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN.
When it comes to water damage from flooding, safety is the number one priority. When you can insure the safety of your family and conditions have improved, that is when to call in the professionals and assess damage. Our SERVPRO team is ready for whatever happens.