Contact SERVPRO for HVAC Maintenance to Keep Units Running Efficiently
Cleaning your air ducts is very important for keeping your home and family safe.
Everyone who owns a home appreciates the comforts of an efficient central heating and air system, but there’s a large investment associated with operating them. Did you know that about half of the energy costs for a home are due to the heating and cooling system according to Energy Star? While that’s a significant chunk of change, just a little bit of maintenance can make the investment extend much further.
It’s important to catch problems with your HVAC system before they become serious: that’s where routine maintenance comes in.
Homeowners should educate themselves about how their HVAC system works to provide it with the best care.
- Swap your filters. Your HVAC filters need to be changed between every 30 and 90 days (depending on the type of filter used) for maximum air quality and efficiency. Other ways to improve heating and cooling include using the highest efficiency filter for your HVAC model and ensuring a properly secured fit when filters are installed.
- Reduce your dust. Simply keeping up with routine dusting and vacuuming will clear the dust and debris out before it has a chance to invade your air flow system, doing wonders for your HVAC cleanliness. Further the benefit by always using the highest efficiency filter for the vacuum, and purchasing one with a HEPA certification if possible.
- Check your drainage. As the AC runs, cooling coils work to remove water from the air and drain it away. If the moisture collected is not properly drained, water damage can occur and lead to mold growth. Regularly check drain pans and nearby surfaces for moisture accumulation to stop large problems before they start.
Tip: If you’re doing construction or renovations in the home, seal off supply and return registers in the house.
- Schedule regular maintenance checkups and cleaning. There’s no substitute for having a professional survey your system twice per year. While there are quite a few things homeowners can do to maintain their HVAC system, a professional cleaning can have a marked improvement in air quality and the efficiency of your unit.
If you’d like to schedule a consultation to discuss HVAC cleaning, contact us at 609.256.8890.
Can You Identify Common Fire Hazards in Your Home?
House fires can be lethal. Know the common fire hazards in your home to stay safe.
Nobody wants to think about the possibility of their home being damaged by fire, but it’s an unfortunate, harsh reality for a multitude of Americans.
One way you can help protect your home is to understand fire hazards and know how to identify them. In this blog, let’s dive into two of the most common causes of household fires.
Candles are a common fire hazard.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, over a five-year period from 2011 to 2015, fire departments across the United States answered an estimated 8,700 house fires a year that were caused by candles.
In total, these fires caused 82 deaths, 800 injuries and $295 million in property damage. Candles were the cause of 2 percent of reported house fires, of which 3 percent resulted in death and 7 percent resulted in injuries.
An average of 24 home candle fires per day were reported during those five years, with December having the highest month of incidents. Out of all the candle fires during this time period, 37 percent started in the bedroom and were responsible for 36 percent of the associated deaths and 51 percent were associated with injuries.
When using a candle, be sure it’s kept at least one foot away from anything that could possibly ignite and that it is in a sturdy holder that will not easily tip over. It is never wise to use a candle where oxygen is in use in a home. And you always want to ensure that all candles are properly extinguished before leaving a room or going to sleep.
House fires from smoking can be lethal.
While cooking is the leading cause of house fires, smoking is the main cause of home fire deaths. Approximately 17,200 house fires were reported in 2014 due to smoking, which includes cigarettes, pipes and cigars. Those fires resulted in 570 deaths, 1,140 injuries and $426 million in property damage, according to the Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes.
If you’re a smoker, it is smart to smoke outside, as most deaths result from fires that started in living rooms, family rooms or bedrooms. Fire-safe cigarettes are the best option, and using a deep, sturdy ashtray is advised.
Drop all lit cigarettes and ashes in water or sand prior to throwing them out—and remember that one out of four fatal victims of smoking fires is not the smoker whose cigarette started the fire.
Dust bunnies as fire hazards?
While candles and smoking are well-known causes of home structure fires, were you aware that some glassware in your home could be a fire risk? When sunlight passes through them, the concentrated ray may ignite flammable materials. It’s best to keep glass accessories away from windows and out of direct sunlight.
Dust bunnies can also pose a fire risk when they collect near electrical sockets and floor heaters. Regular sweeping or vacuuming regularly and cleaning hard-to-reach areas like behind entertainment systems can help prevent buildup.
Also, look for loose outlets in your home. The movement of these outlets loosens the wires connected to the outlet and could create dangerous arcing.
Getting to Know the 3 Types of Water Classifications
If you think all water that causes water damage is the same, think again! There are three classifications for it: clean, gray and black.
By gaining a better understanding of the differences in these types of water, it will help you understand how to better handle a water damage situation.
Whenever there is a water damage situation, it doesn’t matter what type of water has caused damage because a cleanup and restoration process will always follow. First, and most important, is removing all moisture and damp items as quickly as possible to hinder the growth of mold, which begins to flourish in this ideal environment.
The name says it all; clean water is considered “clean” and not likely to be the type that would pose an immediate threat to your health. This water contains no contaminants and is the result of:
- Broken water lines
- Malfunctioning appliances
- Toilet holding tanks
- Snow melt and rainwater
Clean water is the easiest type of water damage to work with because there are fewer microbes living in the water. But remember, it only takes 48 hours and contact with the surfaces of a building for clean water to become a category two, becoming gray water.
Damage from gray water makes water damage cleanup and restoration a bit more serious. This is water that may pose a health risk because it will most likely contain chemical or biological contamination. This slight contamination means that gray water would need to be thoroughly treated before it is safe for consumption.
Water that comes from dishwashers, aquariums, showers, etc. is considered gray water, and the 48-hour exposure time applies here as well, as it will become black water if it is not quickly and property treated.
A black water damage situation is considered the most serious of the three classifications as this water is highly contaminated by harmful chemicals and biological matter. This would include floodwaters containing soil and all sewage waters.
Sewage is contaminated with microbes, which include bacteria, protozoans, molds, fungi and more—many of these can cause health effects to humans.
Some of the diseases that can be transmitted by black water are:
- Gastroenteritis-type illnesses
Any water involved in a flooding situation should be considered dangerous and assumed to be black water since it will pick up contaminants along its path.
The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Remediation Certification (IICRC), an organization that certifies and sets the standards for the cleaning and restoration industry, recognizes these three classifications of floodwater. Our highly trained technicians have all studied IICRC’s standards and best practices in water restoration and are available to help determine the steps to take to get your home back to normal.
It doesn’t matter what type of water has caused damage to your home or business, we are here to help get the situation under control and make it "Like it never even happened." Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need emergency cleanup and restoration services!
Understanding the Basics of Damaging Winds
Winds and storms can be dangerous. Read these tips to understand the basics.
Damaging winds are one of the threats that comes with severe storms. These winds can catch you off guard and be problematic due to long-term structural impacts.
Why Damaging Winds Are Such a Major Concern
Tornadoes and hurricanes are not the only times damaging winds occur. Damaging winds are considered winds with wind speeds exceeding 50–60 mph and can be produced by a strong thunderstorm. Often, you will hear damaging winds referred to as “straight-line” winds to differentiate the damage from tornado damage.
The damage from straight-line winds can be especially destructive, often causing unanchored objects to become projectiles. Any windows or roof can take the brunt of this damage. If the damage is extensive, it can result in water damage to the home as outside elements come indoors through broken windows or damaged roofs.
Anyone who lives in a thunderstorm-prone area can be at risk from damaging winds, but there are some structures, such as mobile homes, especially at risk. Mobile homes, even those that are anchored, could sustain serious damage in winds gusting over 80 mph.
Ways to Prepare Your Home
There are a number of things you can do to protect your property from damaging winds, but there are two things to remember, keeping the “Two R’s” in mind: reinforce and remove.
Look into having your garage door reinforced by a professional.
Ensure that any loose objects on your property that could become wind-borne are properly stored or anchored. Remember that trash cans, grills and outdoor furniture are easily picked up by strong winds.
Larger, older decaying trees and branches should be professionally removed, which will ensure they cannot be blown onto your home.
Remember, high winds can occur without advanced notice. By taking some, or all, of the above actions, you can be prepared on a moment’s notice.
Also, if you are building a new home or renovating an older home, be sure windows, walls and doors are up to code for your area.
If your home has been hit by damaging winds and resulting water damage, the highly trained specialists at SERVPRO® of Hamilton & South Trenton are here to help with the cleanup and restoration of your home.
Does Your Business Have a Natural Disaster Plan?
Would your business be prepared to face all that Mother Nature can throw at it through floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and earthquakes? The most important key to surviving these natural disasters is to be prepared for these situations.
Being prepared for these situations involves creating a natural disaster plan for your business. This blog will lay out some aspects to consider when designing that very important disaster plan.
Where to Start With Your Disaster Plan
There are many things you will need to consider, including your employees, your material assets and equipment, when developing a disaster plan for your business.
Some of those considerations should be:
- How to protect your employees
- How to secure your assets
- How to get business up and running again
Many checklists have been made available through sources like the Red Cross, FEMA and Ready.gov that can offer information that will help you identify areas that need to be included in your natural disaster preparedness plan. These sources will also help you see just how prepared you truly are.
Don’t Neglect Employee Safety
If a disaster should strike without warning, your plan must lay out clear and concise procedures and safety measures for the protection of your employees and visitors. Your evacuation routes and exits from your facility should all be properly and clearly marked, have an area designated that will serve as a shelter space, consider emergency light installation, and ask for volunteers to serve as designated “safety wardens” properly trained and ready to guide and assist with all emergency efforts.
When choosing a place for shelter, ideally this space would be a basement or storm cellar in the event of tornadoes or other high-wind situations. If there is no basement available, select a small interior room on the lowest level of the building, such as a closet or interior hallway.
How to Protect the Assets
In a brick and mortar location, you’ll still need to make careful decisions when it comes to protecting the assets inside the building. You have thousands of dollars tied up in equipment and/or merchandise that will be at risk should a natural disaster strike.
Be sure to have a complete and up-to-date inventory of all equipment and assets. Having photographs prior to a disaster whenever possible is also always helpful if insurance claims need to be made. If your assets are computer data-based and kept on a server, take the steps necessary to ensure that the backup system is making regular backups and that the storage system cannot be damaged, such as a cloud storage option.
If you own the building that you conduct your business in, get with a contractor to uncover areas that could be structurally strengthened. This contractor should be able to suggest possible safety upgrades and advise on any areas that may not make the grade in certain weather situations.
Getting Back to Business
When—and if—a natural disaster does occur, it may be entirely possible that your business will have to be closed for days or months due to the damage incurred. And every day you remain closed is another day of lost profits. It is wise to set up a disaster fund to help cover any additional costs that are not covered by your insurance.
Keep a list of contractors handy who will make themselves available for repairs, and know which cleanup and restoration service will be available to quickly respond to your emergency situation.
With SERVPRO® of Hamilton/South Trenton, you can count on us to get to the disaster faster and make it "Like it never even happened." Our training and expertise have prepared us to help with water damage, storm damage, fire damage and mold remediation quickly and effectively.
Knowing what to do when disaster strikes your business is of the utmost importance. When it comes to the cleanup and restoration aspects, depend on us to be there for you.
Business Owners Should Practice Flood Preparedness
Creating a plan for floods is very important for business openers.
It is not uncommon for business owners to underestimate their flood preparedness, especially if they are not in an area historically known for flooding. However, it was recently reported that natural disasters involve flooding in 90% of instances and affect areas that are not typically known for flooding quite often.
Planning is a smart idea for business owners not only to increase safety within the workplace, but it can also serve to allow businesses to reopen more quickly after the flood passes. By planning ahead, business owners can have the peace of mind to know that they are ready should a flood occur.
How to Practice Flood Preparedness
Some key ways business owners can practice flood preparedness are:
- Make use of the Flood Map provided by FEMA to get an overview of flooding rates in your geographical location.
- Copy business documents and keep them in a secure location such as a waterproof safe or safety deposit box.
- Develop an official training guide for emergencies so employees can be educated and know what to do.
- Designate evacuation routes and mark them clearly.
- Consider adding flood insurance to your business policy, which does not typically include it.
- Create a personal emergency kit for your desk and an office-wide one in case someone is stranded.
- Find creative ways to raise electronics if necessary.
How to Prepare Documents for a Flood
As you begin the process of reopening the business after a disaster, having helpful documents will make the process much easier. Consider preparing and storing copies of the following:
- The continuity plan for after floodwaters recede
- Contact information for all employees, vendors, suppliers and any other parties that might need to be contacted right away
- Your insurance policy records and agent contact information
- Digital file backups and recovery instructions
- Financial documentation that may come in handy
Business Interruption Insurance
It's common practice to maintain commercial property insurance policies to repair and replace your assets in the event of a covered peril. In fact, for its cost, it's extremely risky to even consider not carrying this insurance. Commercial Property Insurance can pay your repair or replacement costs if your business property gets damaged or destroyed from a fire, theft, or other covered loss.
However, when your business is impacted by an event that forces closure, the impact of lost revenue and the burden of ongoing costs can be crippling. Few consider adding Business Income (interruption) coverage.
Business Income Coverage (BI) can help with operating expenses during the restoration period until the business can resume normal operations. This coverage can include:
- Lost Net Income
- Mortgage and Lease Payments
- Employee Payroll
- Loan Payments
As with any coverage policy, you need to consider reasonable terms when establishing the policy. After a major disaster, it can take more time than many people realize to get “back in business.” Business income coverage likely has a "restoration period.” This is the length of time that a policy will help pay for lost income and extra expenses while the business is being restored.
So, this then begs the question of "how much BI insurance coverage is needed?" The general rule is to use gross earnings and projections to help determine future profits. This will assist in determining the right amount of coverage.
What is NOT covered by BI Insurance? Typically, the following is not covered:
- Broken items resulting from a covered event or loss (such as glass)
- Flood or earthquake damage, which is covered by a separate policy
- Undocumented income that’s not listed on your business's financial records
- Pandemics, viruses, or communicable diseases (such as COVID-19)
BI Insurance may also include extra expenses which will cover anything beyond the normal day-to-day expenses, while the business recovers. This includes:
- Renting a temporary place of business while the original place of business is being restored
- Replacement of hardware, technology, and furniture
- Paying overtime for employees or hiring more employees
- Leasing equipment
Speak with your Commercial Insurance Agent to discuss BI insurance and other policies which could protect the business during unplanned outages of all types.
Contact us at 609-256-8890 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Hamilton & South Trenton's System Services.
Benefits of HVAC System Cleaning
HVAC Systems need to be cleaned especially in commercial buildings.
Our SERVPRO staff are trained to take on even the biggest tasks. SERVPRO provides cleaning services to commercial buildings no matter the size.
For those with HVAC Systems, it is very important to do routinely maintenance. This has many benefits including better air quality and less energy wasted.
HVAC systems can get dirty over time and they have the potential to contain large amounts of dust and particulates. Indoor air quality is crucial and is one of the main concerns that building managers and building inhabitants have when they decide to investigate HVAC system. Normally, commercial buildings generate a great deal of contaminants and air pollutants, such as dander, dust, and chemicals. These contaminants are pulled into the HVAC system and re-circulated 5 to 7 times per day, on average. This re-circulation can cause a build-up of contaminants in the ductwork overtime.
Although filters are used, the heating and cooling system still gets dirty through normal use. Contaminants in the heating and cooling system cause it to work harder and shorten the life of your system. When an HVAC system is clean, it doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain the temperature you desire. As a result, less energy is used, leading to improved cost-effectiveness.
Call us at 609-256-8890 for HVAC cleaning services.
Why Carpet Cleaning is Important in the Workplace
Carpet cleaning is very important in commercial buildings.
Maintenance Protects your Investment Flooring is a substantial investment —one you’ll want to protect for years to come. After all, the longer your flooring lasts, the less it costs. The initial cost for floor covering materials and installation does not fully encompass your total floor covering investment. The life cycle cost also factors in life expectancy of the carpet, costs for removal/disposal, lost revenues during renovations and maintenance costs over the life of the carpet.
Good maintenance helps protect your total flooring investment.
Maintenance helps carpet last longer and cost less proactive, regularly scheduled maintenance removes soil before it can build up and damage carpet fibers. This can actually extend the life of the carpet, reducing the costs of restoration, replacement and disposal. Reactive maintenance cannot fully restore a carpet to a like-new appearance. This results in shorter carpet life and higher carpet life cycle costs.
Maintenance Is Good for the Environment
Our life cycle analysis of carpet shows that the overall environmental footprint of carpet is reduced by increasing the amount of time a carpet remains on the floor. A consistent, proactive maintenance program can significantly improve the appearance retention throughout the life of the carpet. Less carpet waste going to landfills is always good for the environment.
Creating a Carpet Maintenance Program
Once the importance of proper carpet maintenance is understood, we can create a comprehensive maintenance program for you.
Step 1: Make preventive maintenance a priority preventing soil from entering the environment is easier and less expensive than removing it from the carpet.
Here are five simple but important steps in a preventive maintenance program:
Keep outside areas clean outside maintenance helps minimize immediate sources of soil. The cleaner you keep sidewalks, parking lots, garages and other areas around the perimeter of your building, the less dirt that will be tracked inside.
Use soil barriers walk-off mats, grates and removable elevator carpets help collect soil before it can be tracked throughout the building. Be sure soil barriers are large enough to allow for at least five steps across.
Vacuum daily, clean frequently and change often for best results. Protect desk areas chair pads under desk chairs prevent casters from crushing carpet and grinding in soil. Specify eating, drinking and smoking areas By restricting these activities to limited areas, you can help confine certain difficult kinds of soil.
Maintain your HVAC System To remove many airborne particles before they are recirculated, regularly replace or clean filters on air-handling equipment. Airborne soil includes industrial wastes, auto emissions, tobacco smoke and pollen.
Step 2: Manage Soil with regular vacuuming. Vacuuming is the most important dry soil management procedure. Effective vacuuming removes dry soil so that it cannot spread to other carpeted areas.
The level of effective vacuuming has two components: frequency and equipment type. Vacuuming Frequency:
• Heavy- to moderate-traffic areas (entrances, elevator lobbies, reception areas, busy corridors, cafeterias, vending machine areas, employee lounges) should be vacuumed daily.
• Light-traffic areas (offices, conference rooms) should be vacuumed at least two to three times per week. Equipment Type
• Dual-motor vacuums are very effective machines for thoroughly cleaning heavy- to moderate traffic areas. This vacuum uses two motors to clean. One motor drives a beater-brush bar that knocks dirt loose, while the second motor provides suction that pulls dirt into the vacuum bag.
• Single-motor vacuums can be very effective machines depending upon their design. For the most part, they should only be used in light-traffic areas. They are generally less powerful than dual-motor vacuums, but easier to maneuver around furniture.
• Detail vacuums can be used to clean around the edges of a room or in confined areas around furniture.
• Carpet sweepers may be used to remove larger particle-sized surface dirt and small litter in high-visibility areas during the business day. However, they are not an effective cleaning method and should not take the place of thorough vacuuming.
The Carpet and Rug Institute has identified vacuum cleaners that meet industry criteria for removal efficacy, particulate emission and carpet damage.
Step 3: Promptly Remove Spills and Stains Although spills are inevitable, permanent stains do not have to be. Most stains can be avoided or removed by immediate, or at least same-day, treatment. It is good practice to have spot and stain removal products and equipment on hand for immediate use.
Correct identification of spots and stains is the first step in proper removal because some types of spills may require special cleaning solutions and techniques.
But for most spills, the basic removal procedure is the same:
1. Blot as much of the spill as you can with an absorbent towel. Always work toward the center of the spill. Do not rub! If the spill is solid or semisolid, gently scrape off what you can using a dull knife.
2. Apply a general-purpose carpet spotter to the spill. This is a detergent solution that is specially made for use on carpets. Never use other kinds of cleaning solutions, such as bleach. These may permanently damage the carpet.
3. Tamp or pat in the carpet spotter with a tamping brush.
4. Wait three minutes, then blot again.
5. Rinse with clean water, then blot as dry as possible. If the stain remains, repeat the entire process. If the stain persists after the second time, contact us here at SERVPRO of Central Union County.
Step 4: Renew your carpet with proactive, periodic cleaning even the most effective, consistent vacuuming may leave some soil behind.
Periodic cleaning improves the appearance and extends the life of carpet. Periodic cleaning also removes oily, sticky soil from the carpet that attracts and holds additional soil. Depending on soiling conditions and other factors, there are a number of available cleaning methods. Your choice of method should be based on what will be the most effective and compatible with your carpet and its traffic levels.
Call us at 609-256-8890 for carpet cleaning services.
What to Expect When You are Expecting a Contractor
Contractors are very important for a job. Follow these tips to make it a smooth process.
Looking for a commercial or residential construction company can be exhausting. You want to ensure that whoever you hire is the best company for the job at hand.
Know What You Want
As the client, you are the one driving the process. Before speaking with Contractors, spend time thinking about your goals for the project -- what it might look like, the amenities you want, and so on. If you don't know how to translate your goals into specific features or products, hire a design-build firm that can offer that service too.
Why Contractor Quotes Vary Drastically
Contractors cannot offer a correct fixed price because there are too many unknowns about the job, so try to eliminate as many of the unknowns as possible. For example, have them open up a wall to examine the skeleton of your house where the add-ons would happen.
Request to define the project specs to include only what he expects to do with the mutual understanding that if additional work is needed, you will get a change order — a written mini-bid for new work after the project has been started. This is common in the construction industry and it is the reason quotes vary by thousands of dollars. The cheapest quote also means they are not being conscientious of the realities that may come later to blow your budget when you were not prepared for unexpected expense(s).
Costs for all of the various elements of the job should include:
- Demolition and hauling trash
- Electrical work
- Tiling and floor covering installations
- Lighting fixtures
- Drywall and painting
- Finish carpentry
- Clean up
Contractors will often give you a fixed bid, but some work may be on a "cost plus" basis, charging you for materials, time/labor, and an administrative or overhead fee for their time managing those aspect of your project. “Cost plus” is sometimes a legitimate alternative, but it should have a cap or some provision to contain cost overruns that exceed your max budget.
Reputation Has More Value Than Price
Reputable and therefore trustworthy Contractors in trade locally for five or ten years will have an established network of subcontractors and suppliers in the area and a local reputation to uphold. That makes them a safer choice.
Ask for a business card with a real street address, not just a post office box, and get references from one or two early projects and some current customers. This will help you verify consistency and honor.
You should also vet their background by verifying their credentials and insist on a detailed contract before making a hiring decision.
Personality Is Prettier Than Price
You’re going to be spending a lot of time with this contractor, so when you make your decision, think about whether you feel comfortable with their personality, background, methods, and communication skills. Is everyone clear about the project at hand and on the same page? If not, you could end up disappointed, frustrated, and possibly out several thousand dollars beyond what you budgeted for.
Set Job Site Boundaries
Let the company know you expect routine precautions. Also, establish some ground rules about parking, bathroom use, smoking, and other issues that might concern you.
Have A Resolution Strategy
Any contractor you hire will become part of your life for at least the duration of the project. Make sure you pick someone with whom you can communicate, and trust your gut if first impressions leave you feeling uneasy. Reputable professionals will insist on clear written agreements in order to protect both parties.
During initial meetings, ask how unexpected issues or differences might be handled. This can include change orders (these should always be in writing, with cost issues directly noted) or more serious disputes, such as unintended damage or a failure to meet legal or reasonable standards.