Christmas Trees and Mold
4 Ways To Reduce Christmas Tree Mold Levels
Live Christmas trees may bring more than the fresh pine scent of the holiday season into homes. With most trees cut in advance of the holidays and stored in a moist environment for fresh keeping, this makes them a likely mold source.
Here are a few tips to help you cut the Christmas mold level in your home, without giving up the fresh tree:
Limit The Time You Leave Your Tree Up
The longer the tree is inside of your home, the higher the mold level may be. If those in your household are prone to mold allergies, but don’t want to give up the fresh Christmas tree, consider putting the tree up Christmas Eve and taking it down on New Year’s Day. Try to keep a live tree in your home between 4-7 days at maximum.
Wash Your Tree
Before bringing the freshly cut tree inside of your home, wash it first using the garden hose. Set the nozzle to a hard-spray level to get into all of those little nooks and crannies of the trunk. Then, wipe the trunk thoroughly with a solution of warm water and bleach (1 part bleach to 20 parts water). Let it dry in the sun before bringing it inside of your home.
Use an Air Purifier
Run an air purifier in the same room as the fresh tree. Cleaner air is key during the holidays, and helps to reduce your mold exposure and lessen the effects of your tree allergies.
The best way to avoid the mold infestation is to buy an artificial tree. Unless you store your artificial tree inside of a sealed plastic bag, it will still need a good shaking outside when it’s brought out of storage each year to relieve it of dust. Also, store all of your Christmas ornaments and decorations in plastic containers (instead of cardboard ones) to keep the dust off of them.
If you see signs of mold, call SERVPRO!
Minimize Flood Damage by Preparing Your Building
Weather in Pennsylvania can change in an instant, and it only takes a small shift in a storm’s track to bring torrential downpours that could lead to devastating flooding. If you’re a business owner, a flood can represent a serious threat to your company’s operations. While there’s not a lot you can do to stop major floods from hurricanes and other natural disasters, here are some steps you can take to lessen the impact of storm and flood damage.
Build Barriers to Slow Water Incursion
Water is a powerful force, and it’s virtually impossible to keep it at bay, but you can throw barriers in its path to slow it down. You can start this process long before the onset of flooding by building a levee, berm or flood control wall if local building codes permit. Have a professional assess your lower floors to see if you should apply sealants to walls or relocate utility boxes. When the rain starts falling, you can also place sandbags in strategic areas around the structure:
Across doorways, right up against the door
In front of garage doors
Around showers and floor drains to prevent incursion by backed up “black water”
When building sandbag walls, make certain you don’t completely surround your building, and use a plastic tarp as a base for extra waterproofing.
Clean Storm Drains and Gutters
In many cases, flood damage happens during normal storms because the building owner didn’t keep up on maintenance. Gutters, storm drains and other devices are designed to channel water away from the building, which is why it’s important to clean them regularly to ensure they’re free from debris that could cause a backup.
Minimize Losses by Being Prepared
Why risk significant disruptions to your operations when you could cut down on storm damage by taking some preparatory steps? Should you experience flooding despite your efforts, be sure to contact an experienced remediation company immediately to get you back up and running as soon as possible.
Water Leaks Can Cause Mold
A leaky faucet in your home can be very annoying, but it has the potential to be much more than an annoyance. The moisture caused by leaks can make your home into the perfect environment for Spring mold growth. Mold spores are known to cause allergic reactions and exacerbate respiratory problems. Mold can grow rapidly if you fail to notice a leak shortly after it starts, especially in humid climates. Knowing the risks that mold presents and quickly fixing your water leaks can help to protect your home from mold growth and protect your health as well.
About Mold Growth
Spring mold growth will begin in areas of your home that are wet. The mold spores will land on moist surfaces and then start to germinate. The materials on which mold can grow include:
• Painted surfaces
How Mold Can Affect Your Health
Most types of mold are harmless but can cause problems for individuals with allergies. They can cause symptoms such as coughing, a runny nose or breathing problems. A few types of mold are indeed very toxic, whether or not you have allergies.
Indications of Mold Growth Due to Water Leaks
If you see black and white spots in the area of the leak, this is a sign that you have mold. Kitchens and basements are some of the areas in your home where there is a high risk of mold growth as these areas are prone to leaks. It is therefore important that you properly maintain your plumbing fixtures.
Preventing Mold Growth after Fixing Leaks
If you discover a water leak, have it fixed as soon as possible to minimize the potential for Spring mold growth. After the leak has been fixed, use a mild detergent to wash the area and then allow it to dry completely. After it has dried, thoroughly wipe the area with bleach to kill any spores present. Boric acid also effective at killing mold spores and can be used as a substitute for bleach. Be sure to keep kids and pets out of the area while handling chemicals.
Get Professional Assistance
If there is a part of your home that is prone to water leaks, contact a plumber. If there are hidden problems that are causing leaks to recur, you may not be able to find them yourself. A licensed plumber who is experienced at finding and fixing leaks will be better able to find and fix the issues. Your plumber will also be able to advise you on how to maintain your plumbing to prevent water leaks and mold growth in the future.
Microscopic mold spores exist almost everywhere, outdoors and indoors, making it impossible to remove all mold from a home or business. Some restoration businesses advertise “mold removal” and even guarantee to remove all mold, which is a fallacy. Consider the following mold facts:
- Mold is present almost everywhere, indoors and outdoors.
- Mold spores are microscopic and float along in the air and may enter your home through windows, doors, or AC/heating systems or even hitch a ride indoors on your clothing or a pet.
- Mold spores thrive on moisture. Mold spores can quickly grow into colonies when exposed to water. These colonies may produce allergens and irritants.
- Before mold remediation can begin, any sources of water or moisture must be addressed. Otherwise, the mold may return.
- Mold often produces a strong, musty odor and can lead you to possible mold problem areas.
- Even higher-than-normal indoor humidity can support mold growth. Keep indoor humidity below 45 percent.
Old Building Smell? Let SERVPRO Freshen The Air
Older Buildings Are Smelly
Many of the older buildings in the Pittsburgh area have a distinct smell. People may say that they smell musty or of old material. One way to freshen up the place is to have some deodorization done by SERVPRO.
We use state of the art equipment to clean the air within your building. Depending on the odor we have a few techniques that we'll use.
- Thermal Fogging technique which helps penetrate deeply into building materials.
- An ozone machine is used to help add a fresh smell to odors that seem to linger such as smoke.
- Old fashioned deep cleaning of walls shouldn't be overlooked.
- Carpet cleaning using hot water extraction to remove deep and hard to remove soils.
- Adding to any of the above methods is that of HVAC cleaning. Getting the air ducts clean will definitely freshen any building no matter the age.
Are you Prepared?
Is your business prepared in case a disaster or emergency situation should occur? Disasters and resulting business interruptions can devastate companies; in fact, as many as 50% of businesses that experience a disaster never reopen. With the proper planning and proactive restoration, you can be better prepared to survive a disaster should one occur.
The need and benefit of having a detailed emergency action plan is crucial. A well-developed plan can help mitigate the effects of disasters and help you return to business quickly, saving time, unnecessary frustration and money. Those few minutes and hours immediately following a loss can be significant in determining the amount of time the property will be non-functional. Fast response can mean the difference between restoration and cleaning versus costly replacement resulting from prolonged exposure and secondary damage.
Developing a solid working contingency plan and networking with reputable vendors to assist you in your time of need are essential in your recovery efforts. Having a reliable company to respond immediately and begin emergency procedures is a critical part of any contingency plan. As part of a Franchise System, SERVPRO of South Hills has access to over 10,000 quality teammates with thousands of pieces of commercial equipment and service vehicles that can typically respond to a crisis within hours.
SERVPRO of South Hills can provide you a free emergency preparedness plan to help minimize interruption, overall costs and tenant inconvenience. Listed below are some of the items that are found in the Emergency Response Profile:
- Immediate Response Checklist - An organized and prioritized list of persons who need to be contacted when an emergency occurs, including insurance contacts and emergency service providers.
- Building and Grounds Information - Building statistics and key support companies (i.e. security, engineering and elevator).
- Content Information – Inventories of contents and locations of valuable documents, articles and other important items. This also includes machinery and office equipment inventory lists and information as well as vital documents and records.
As a free service to you, we will catalog all of this important information into a customized Emergency Response Profile for your property or properties. Call us today at 412-831-3100 for a straight, no-nonsense discussion on how to get your facility back up and running following an adverse situation.
What to Do Before Help Arrives
When your home or business suffers from a storm, its critical to know the difference between different levels of contaminated water. There are 3 classes of water, Clean, Gray and Black.
Clean water: Clean water is water from a broken pipe, water from a hot water heater, or sink. The time frame for a clean water water damage is limited as if it sits for longer than 24 hours it is then considered gray water.
Here is a list of precautions to take to protect your personal belongings from a clean source water damage until help arrives.
- Shut off the water source if possible or contact a qualified professional to do so.
- Turn off the circuit breakers for wet areas of the building if access to the power distribution panel is safe from potential electric shock
- Remove as much excess water as possible by mopping and blotting
- Remove and prop up wet upholstery cushions to allow a more even drying.
- Move any paintings, art objects, computers, documents and other valuable items that may be sensitive to moisture to a safe place
- Do not leave books, newspapers, magazines or other colored items on wet carpet as they may cause staining
- Do not use your household vacuum cleaner to remove water as there is potential for electrical shock or causing damage to the vacuum cleaner
- Do not turn on ceiling fixtures if the ceiling is wet; do not enter rooms where ceilings are sagging from retained water.
When you have a water damage, don't leave your property to chance. Call SERVPRO of South Hills.
We are certified in Water damage, Biohazard CleanUp and Mold Remediations.
We also accept all insurance companies. Call 412-831-3100 for more details.
Thunderstorm Facts & Causes
Severe Thunderstorm Facts
Thunderstorms are defined as storms that produce thunder and lightning. Severe thunderstorms may also produce:
- High winds
- Sleet or snow
It’s important to note that thunderstorms do not always produce moisture. A storm in which you see lightning and hear thunder but never feel a drop of water is known as a “dry” thunderstorm. Thunderstorms that produce hail and tornadoes are known as “supercell” storms. Storms occur either in clusters or lines; therefore, they may present as a single thunderstorm or as multiple thunderstorms hitting one after the other.
Thunderstorms are caused when moisture from the lower or mid-level part of the atmosphere mixes with warm, unstable air from the ground. Moisture and air then push upwards into the higher atmosphere to form clouds that produce thunder and lightning, as well as potential precipitation. Spring, summer and fall are most conducive to thunderstorms because the sun heats the ground and moisture is more perceptible in the air, especially in humid climates.
Thunderstorms must also be lifted to begin their formation. Some sources of lift include:
- More heat on the ground than in the air
- Changes in atmospheric conditions near mountains
- Weather front changes caused by clashing cold and hot air
- Drylines, or when moist and dry air clash
- Land or sea breezes
Any of these situations can immediately create a thunderstorm without warning, even in the middle of a clear blue day. In many cases, these storms will also be accompanied by lightning. Most will not come with hail or tornadoes, unless they occur in tornado-prone states such as Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri.
What to Expect From Storm Damage Restoration
Hurricane damage, storm damage, wind damage, ice damage and hail damage can wreak havoc in your home. When this happens, you may feel like all is lost. However, you will be surprised by how much can be saved through expert home restoration or storm remediation. Before you count your losses, give storm restoration a chance.
Home restoration services can be sought after calamities such as hail damage, river flooding, ice damage, wind damage, flood water damage, ice damage and hurricane damage. It is best to have the contacts of experts on storm remediation. This is especially in the wake of the recent hurricanes rocking the country.
Another harsh weather element is wind damage after a storm. Wind damage can cause extensive roof damage. This happens due to loose shingles or tiles. Wind damage can also cause moisture from ice dams or ice damming to penetrate the roof. This can lead to wood swelling. The outcome is a sagging ceiling and roof damage which needs extensive roof repair.
The ice dams or ice damming also pose a risk to the roof. A roof leak can develop into a crack. This has the potential to damage the structure. Ice damming also weigh down the roof due to the ice dam pools. Homeowners who live in areas prone to wind or winter damage should consider roofs with a higher slope to reduce roof damage. This will reduce the need for regular roof repairs and the possibility of a roof leak. A roof leak from ice damming or formation of ice dams should be repaired immediately. Putting off a roof repair means that the homeowner incurs more costs later.
Roof inspection before the harsh weather also minimizes the roof repair costs. Any broken or lose shingles should also be fixed. Storm restoration experts will advise you on the appropriate roof repairs to be done ahead of any harsh weather. They will also assess the roof leaks before they get worse.
When you engage the services of storm restoration experts after flood water damage, storm damage, ice damage, hail damage, river flooding, wind damage, flooding or hurricane damage, the experts are sent to your home immediately. The water restoration efforts begin after a careful assessment of the flooding.
The water restoration professionals will also conduct an examination of the exterior and the interior of the home. They also check the extent of the flood water and ground water levels. This helps them to come up with the home restoration plan based on the flooding, storm damage and ground water.
The teams work together after agreeing on where to start. Hurricane damage, storm damage, hail damage, flood water damage, roof damage and ice damage all have different water restoration processes. It is ill advised for home owners to attempt the storm restoration process without seeking professional storm remediation.
Storm remediation. experts also come equipped with the appropriate work gear and tools. An important tool is in the water restoration process is a flood pump. Flood pumps are designed to drain water in flooded areas. These flood pumps can be placed in rooms and left to drain the ground water automatically. The floods can also handle ground water as it rises to higher levels. River flooding pumps are also available for extensive flood water damage. Flood pumps are also used alongside vacuums.
Winter damage is another common weather calamity. Winter damage leads to frozen pipes. The frozen pipes are not able to allow for the flow of water. It can take time for the frozen pipes to unfreeze. It is best to call in the experts to deal with the frozen pipes. Applying heat on the frozen pipes can lead to damage and the pipes may need replacement.
Today, home restoration and storm restoration experts are fully equipped to handle flooding, river flooding and other harsh weather elements. Enlisting their services in good time can help to save your valuables after a storm.
Facts about Home Fires and Smoke Alarms
SERVPRO of South Hills is always here to help and we want to make sure that everyone stays educated so that way we can find ways to avoid home disasters.
Here are some recent home fire facts to keep in mind when replacing smoke detectors and keeping our homes as safe as possible.
- Having a working smoke alarm can cut the risk of home fire deaths in half.
- It's important to know the difference between hardwired and battery powered smoke detectors. Hardwired alarms operate 90% of the time and battery powered ones only work 84% of the time. Which is a pretty decent difference when it comes to a home fire.
- According to a National Fire Prevention Week survey only 1/3 of Americans have both developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.
It is important to have a plan in motion. If you need help developing a fire escape plan SERVPRO would gladly help you along. Or you can visit www.nfpa.org for more information.
Understanding Industry Terms
SERVPRO of South Hills is always "Here to Help". We know that sometimes some of our jargon can be confusing so we usually try to break it down as easy as we can out in the field, but we know that our customers like to stay informed. Here are some common terms used in the field with their definition so you can understand better what is happening in your home or business.
Anti-Microbials: A substance, mechanism, or condition that inhibits the growth or existence of an organism.
Fire Damage Recovery: The process of restoring and recovering property and belongings after a fire. The objectives include minimizing existing damage, damage mitigation, structure stabilization, soot & odor removal and reconstruction.
Fungi: The unicellular or multicellular eukaryotic organisms embracing a large group of microflora including molds, mildews, yeasts, mushrooms, rusts and smuts.
HVAC: Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning
HEPA Filter: High efficiency particulate air filter, a specialized filter capable of removing 99.7% of particles.
Masking Agents: Designed to prevent or remove heightened awareness to odors by providing a fragrance, which is stronger and more pleasant to smell while the source of the odor is being eliminated.
Smoke Damage Removal: Neutralizing or removing smoke odors that linger after fires.
Smoke Particles: Smoke is composed of gases, aerosols, and airborne solids. Dry wood, natural fibers and paper all produce small non-smearing material. Plastic, foam, and rubber (polymers) produce large easily smeared residues.