Recent Posts

Fireplace Safety

11/15/2017 (Permalink)

  • Fireplaces should not be used as furnaces. Use a fireplace for a short-duration fire — no longer than five hours.
  • Keep the glass open to allow air to be drawn up to cool the chimney, but keep the screen closed to prevent sparks from jumping onto the carpeting.
  • Never leave a fire unattended when children are in the house. Adults, even if near, should not allow children to play near or with fire tools and equipment.
  • Open a window when using the fireplace to prevent the room from becoming smoky. The air coming in from the window will go up the chimney.
  • Before making a fire, open the glass doors, pull aside the screen curtains, and place the kindling, newspaper and logs inside. Next, open the damper and a window. The window needs to be open only a few inches. You can check to make sure the smoke will go up the chimney properly by lighting a match, quickly blowing it out and watching the smoke to see whether it's going up and out.
  • Keep a nonflammable rug (available at fireplace-supply stores) in front of the fireplace so that sparks won't melt or otherwise damage your carpeting.
  • Use fireplace tools to handle burning logs. Never use your hands.
  • Use a chimney cap to prevent water damage, to keep animals from nesting and to keep debris from blocking the chimney and causing carbon monoxide to flow into the house. Use a spark arrester to help prevent sparks from flying out, which could start a fire on the roof or lawn.
  • Glass doors may develop tough stains from flames and heat. To clean them, make sure the glass doors are cool, then scrape off any thick gunk deposits with a razor blade. Add a squirt of liquid dishwashing detergent to a bucket of warm water, or add a cup of vinegar to a gallon of water. Spray or sponge the cleaner on, and then wipe it away with newspaper (which is lint-free). Another option is to buy glass cleaner at a fireplace store.
  • Fireplace coals can remain hot enough to start a fire for up to three days, so always wait at least that long before removing the ashes. At that point, close the damper to prevent cold air in the flue from stirring up excess dust while you're removing the ashes. Be sure to wear a dust mask and open a window in the same room as the fireplace to prevent negative air pressure. Use a shovel to scoop the ashes into a metal container. Store the container far from combustible materials and surfaces and wood floors.
  • Never use a vacuum to clean up ashes, because live coals may remain in those ashes.
  • Have a certified chimney sweep inspect and clean the chimney when necessary. Have him show you how to check it yourself, too. The chimney should be checked at least once a year or after about 80 fires.
  • Shine brass fireplace utensils with Worcestershire sauce and a toothbrush.
  • Clean the firebox (the area where the logs burn) at least once a week during the months you use it, when ash builds up. Leave about an inch of ash because it acts as insulation, allowing the coals to heat faster and retain the heat easier. Keep the firebox completely clean during the months when the fireplace is not in use.
  • To clean an exterior slate hearth, wash, dry and coat it with lemon oil every six weeks to make it shine. For cleaning exterior brick hearths, buy a brick cleaner at a fireplace shop.
 via HGTV.com 

Every Second Counts

10/24/2017 (Permalink)

In a fire, seconds count. Seconds can mean the difference between residents of our community escaping safely from a fire or having their lives end in tragedy.

That’s why this year’s Fire Prevention Week theme: “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” is so important. It reinforces why everyone needs to have an escape plan. Here’s this year’s key campaign messages:

  • Draw a map of your home with all members of your household, marking two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit.
  • Practice your home fire drill twice a year. Conduct one at night and one during the day with everyone in your home, and practice using different ways out.
  • Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.
  • Make sure the number of your home is clearly marked and easy for the fire department to find.
  • Close doors behind you as you leave – this may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire.
  • Once you get outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building.

via http://www.nfpa.org/

Have you contacted your local fire department? See how you can get involved with them and your community to prevent house fires. Sometimes they will have events or give out smoke detectors for your home. Don't think this could never happen to you because it easily could. We don't have control over everything in our homes! Be safe and have a plan!

Continuing Education

10/24/2017 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Birmingham South has been hosting one continuing education class a month, this year in 2017. These classes are very popular with our insurance agents and adjusters, since they have to take a certain amount of hours to renew their licenses. Besides mold we touch on various topics which include Fire, Water, Biohazard Cleanup, and Ethics. The most popular class is our Ethics class, this month we had 40 people attend. (It probably has to do with the fact, they have to take Ethics to renew their license!) 

A few of our Sales and Marketing Representatives have to go through extensive training to become certified to teach these classes. They also have to take a 10 hour OSHA class to become certified. All classes are held at our facility on Huntley Parkway in Pelham, Alabama. We offer tours of the facility on breaks, or before or after the class. 

During our mold class a couple of months ago, our Sales & Marketing Representative Adam showed the class the proper PPE to wear. (See picture) While Stan taught the class. Mold is very common in Alabama because of our weather conditions. Some things we discuss during the class are:

- Understand the evolution of mold awareness

- Acknowledge mold as part of our environment

- Understand the basics of mold remediation

- Understand the effect of mold on buildings

- Recognize how mold is affecting Insurance Professionals and the Insurance Industry

Commercial - Emergency Response Team

10/24/2017 (Permalink)

As we mentioned in a previous blog, SERVPRO of Birmingham South has been working long hours over the last few months due to hurricanes. Even though we are a storm team as previously mentioned, we also send crews on site to work for weeks at a time. 

SERVPRO of Birmingham South also has a Emergency Response Team/Large Loss Division that handles commercial properties. 

One of the commercial properties that we assisted was in Texas, a car dealership to be exact. They had over 30,000 square feet affected due to the hurricane. Most of the contents had to be disposed of or cleaned, flooring had to be removed, and equipment set. 

SERVPRO of Birmingham South is able to cover large losses but also those that might not seem so big. 

Hurricane Season

9/29/2017 (Permalink)

These last couple of months the United States has been hit with a few hurricanes including Harvey in the Houston, Texas area and Irma hitting the Florida Keys. 


SERVPRO Corporate has four storm teams and SERVPRO of Birmingham is one of them, as "Storm Team Wilson." We cover eight states including Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Indiana. When disaster strikes one of those states and the local SERVPRO's get inundated, Storm Team Wilson gets activated sending franchises or "teams" from all over the United States to come in and assist.  For Hurricane Harvey all four storm teams were activated and for Hurricane Irma we had two teams involved, one covering the south part of Florida and the other covering the north part.  Unfortunately, a lot of people were affected by these two hurricanes and these jobs are still being taken care of and will be for a long time to get their houses and lives back in order. We are thankful that we can be of assistance in these difficult times. 

Emergency Ready Profile

7/31/2017 (Permalink)

As a homeowner you always want to make sure you have emergency contacts close by in case anything unexpected happens. What if you are a homeowner but also a business owner? I know personally I couldn't imagine the amount of stress! SERVPRO realizes that you might not think about the unexpected things that might happen to your business; flooding, tornado damage, etc. 

That's why we have our Emergency Ready Program available to you! Our ERP, Emergency Ready Profile is the best way to reduce business interruption following a disaster, plan for it now! As many as 50% of businesses may never recover following a disaster, according to the latest industry research. Of the businesses that survive, the overwhelming majority of them had a preparedness plan in place. Pre-planning can serve as an insurance policy aimed at peace of mind. By developing a SERVPRO® Emergency READY Profile 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.
 The SERVPRO Emergency READY Profile Advantage A no cost assessment of your facility. – This means there is no need to allocate funds, giving you a great value at no cost. A concise Profile Document that contains only the critical information needed in the event of an emergency. – It will only take a little time to complete and will not take you away from current projects. But it will save a lot of time if ever needed. A guide to help you get back into your building following a disaster. – This can help minimize the amount of time your business is inactive by having an immediate plan of action. Establishes your local SERVPRO® Franchise Professional as your disaster mitigation and restoration provider. – You have a provider that is recognized as an industry leader and close by. Identification of the line of command for authorizing 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 shut-off valve locations, priority areas and priority contact information. – Having a quick reference of what to do, how to do it and who to call provides solutions in advance of an emergency so that during the emergency you are “Ready for whatever happens.”  Give us a call today and set up your ERP!

Why YOU should recycle

6/28/2017 (Permalink)

Alabama's Recycling Economy

?During 2011, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) determined that Alabama spent $25 million to throw away over $193 million worth of recyclable materials.

According to the Alabama Solid Waste Management Plan of 2008, the total average daily solid waste generated by Alabamians is9.9 pounds per person, compared with the national average of 4.5 pounds. In 2010, the EPA MSW Characterization Study Report stated the total average daily solid waste generated by Alabamians is 6.3 pounds per person, compared with the national average of 4.3 pounds per person.

A 2016 Southeast Recycling Development Council (SERDC) study determined that Alabama is home to 42 manufacturers who rely on recycled content feedstock. These companies generate more than $7.8 billion in yearly sales and employ more than 17,350 Alabama citizens directly working in the manufacture of recycled content products.

With more than 300 employees, KW Plastics in Troy, Alabama is the world's largest recycler of HDPE and PP plastic resins. Currently, KW receives enough plastic from Alabama to run the plant for only two days out of every year. Source: KW Plastics.

The Barton, Alabama SCA Tissue Plant recycles roughly 250,000 tons of paper per year. This is equivalent to almost 3% of the state's waste generation. Source: SCA Tissue/State of Alabama.

If Alabama recycled just 10% more materials each year, the potential economic impact would equate to over 1,400 jobs, over $66 million annual personal income, and $3 million annual state tax revenue. Source: SERDC.

Landfills generate revenue by imposing "tipping fees" when waste is placed in a facility. These fees average about $25/ton in Alabama. The national average is $45/ton, whereas some states, such as Vermont, charge upwards to $72/ton. Source: State of Garbage in America.

US Waste

Americans throw away 25,000,000 plastic beverage bottles every hour.

The United States of America is the #1 trash-producing country in the world at 1,609 pounds per person per year. This means that 5% of the world's people generate 40% of the world's waste.

Americans toss out enough aluminum every 3 months to rebuild our entire commercial air fleet.

The average American uses seven trees a year in paper, wood, and other products made from trees. This amounts to about 2 billion trees per year.

Every month, we throw out enough glass bottles and jars to fill up a giant skyscraper.

Manufacturers produce more than 15 million tons of expanded polystyrene (aka, StyrofoamTM) each year, but we recycle less than 1% of it.

According to theEPA, yard trimmings and food residuals together constitute 24% of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream.

The highest point in Hamilton County, Ohio (near Cincinnati) is "Mount Rumpke." It is actually a mountain of trash at the Rumpke sanitary landfill towering 1045 ft. above sea level.

The US population discards each year 16 billion diapers, 1.6 billion pens, 2 billion razor blades, and 220 million car tireseach year.

Recycling & Energy

Recycling aluminum requires 95% less energy than making aluminum from raw materials, and produces 95% less air pollution and 97% less water pollution.

Only 10% of the 140.3 million cell phones retired in 2007 were recycled. If we recycled all of the cell phones retired each year, we would save enough energy to power 18,500 homes for a year.

Recycling one million laptops saves enough energy to power 3,657 American homes in a year.

Recycling paper takes 60% less energy than making paper form raw materials.

Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as burning it in an incinerator.

Recycling plastic takes 88% less energy than making plastic from raw materials.

Over a ton of natural resources are conserved for every ton of glass recycled, including 1,300 pounds of sand, 410 pounds of soda ash, 380 pounds of limestone, and 160 pounds of feldspar. Source: Keep America Beautiful

The energy saved from recycling one glass bottle can run a 100-watt light bulb for four hours. It also causes 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution than when a new bottle is made from raw materials.

Courtesy of: aeconline.org

NADCA

6/27/2017 (Permalink)

NADCA had some fantastic frequently asked questions so I had to share...

Are there any health benefits that come from HVAC system cleaning?

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems have been shown to collection a variety of contaminants such as mold, fungi, bacteria and very small particles of dust that have the potential to affect overall health, The removal of such contaminants from the HVAC system and home should be considered one component in an overall plan to improve indoor air quality.

How can I determine if the HVAC system cleaning was effective?

The best way to determine if the HVAC system cleaning was effective is to perform a visual inspection of the system before and after cleaning. If any dust or debris can be seen during the visual inspection, the system should not be considered cleaned. While you can perform your own visual inspection using a flashlight and mirror, a professional cleaning contractor should be able to allow you better access to system components and perhaps the use of specialized inspection tools. In addition, following the Residential Cleaning Checklist can help to ensure a top quality job.

How often should residential HVAC systems be cleaned?

 

Frequency of cleaning depends on several factors, not the least of which is the preference of the homeowner. Some of the things that may lead a homeowner to consider more frequent cleaning include:

  • smokers in the household
  • pets that shed high amounts of hair and dander
  • water contamination or damage to the home or HVAC system
  • residents with allergies or asthma who might benefit from a reduction in the amount of indoor air pollutants in the home’s HVAC system
  • after home renovations or remodeling
  • prior to occupancy of a new home.

How should a residential HVAC system be cleaned?

The most effective way to clean air ducts and ventilation systems is to employ source removal methods of cleaning. This requires a contractor to place the system under negative pressure, through the use of a specialized, powerful vacuum. While the vacuum draws air through the system, devices are inserted into the ducts to dislodge any debris that might be stuck to interior surfaces. The debris can then travel down the ducts to the vacuum, which removes it from the system and the home.

What are antimicrobial chemicals and why would they need to be used?

Antimicrobial chemicals are applied by some companies to the interior surface of the air ducts to treat microbial contamination such as fungi (mold), viruses or bacteria. Before any antimicrobial chemicals are used, the system should be thoroughly cleaned. It is critical that any antimicrobial treatment used in your system be registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency specifically for use in HVAC systems. The use of antimicrobial chemicals is an additional service that is not part of a typical air duct cleaning project. Review the NADCA White Paper on Chemical Applications in HVAC Systems for more information. 

What criteria should I use when selecting an HVAC system cleaning contractor?

You should interview as many local contractors as possible. Ask them to come to your home and perform a system inspection and give you a quote. To narrow down your pool of potential contractors, use the following pre-qualifications:

  • Make sure the company is a member in good standing of NADCA.
  • See if the company has been in business long enough to have adequate experience.
  • Get proof that the company is properly licensed and adequately insured.
  • Verify that the company is certified by NADCA to perform HVAC system cleaning.
  • Make sure that the company is going to clean and visually inspect all of the air ducts and related system components.
  • Avoid advertisements for “$99 whole house specials” and other sales gimmicks.
  • Ask if the company has the right equipment to effectively perform cleaning, and if the company has done work in homes similar to yours.
  • Get references from neighbors if possible.

You can also use the Residential Cleaning Checklist as part of the contractor selection process. 

What is the normal price range for the air duct cleaning service?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that “duct cleaning services typically – but not always – range in cost from $450 to $1,000 per heating and cooling system, depending on the services offered, the size of the system to be cleaned, system accessibility, climactic region and level of contamination” and type of duct material. Consumers should beware of air duct cleaning companies that make sweeping claims about the health benefits of duct cleaning, as such claims are unsubstantiated.

Consumers should also beware of “blow-and-go” air duct cleaning companies. These companies often charge a nominal fee and do a poor job of cleaning the heating and cooling system. These companies may also persuade the consumer to pay for unneeded services with and/or without their permission. (If you have knowledge of a practicing “blow-and-go” air duct cleaner, contact your local Better Business Bureau to report the company, and your local, federal and state elected officials to demand legislation.)

What kind of equipment is best for cleaning - truck mounted vacuums or portable vacuums?

NADCA does not endorse one kind of equipment over another. There are two main types of vacuum collection devices: (1) those mounted on trucks and trailers, and (2) portable units. Truck/trailer mounted equipment is generally more powerful than portable equipment. However, portable equipment can often be brought directly into a facility, allowing the vacuum source to be located closer to the ductwork. Both types of equipment will clean to ACR, the NADCA standard. All vacuum units should be attached to a collection device for safe containment prior to disposal. Any vacuum collection device which exhausts indoors must be HEPA filtered. A vacuum collection device alone will not get an HVAC system clean. The use of methods and tools designed to agitate debris adhered to the surfaces within the system, in conjunction with the use of the vacuum collection device(s), is required to clean HVAC systems. (For example: brushes, air whips and “skipper balls.”)

Why should I choose a NADCA member to have my air ducts cleaned?

NADCA members have signed a Code of Ethics stating they will do everything possible to protect the consumer and follow ACR, the NADCA Standard, for cleaning to the best of their ability. Find a NADCA professional near you. Air duct cleaning companies must meet strict requirements to become a NADCA member. Among those requirements, all NADCA members must have a certified Air System Cleaning Specialist (ASCS) on staff who has taken and passed the NADCA certification examination. Passing the exam demonstrates extensive knowledge in HVAC design and cleaning methodologies. ASCSs are also required to further their industry education by attending seminars in order to maintain their NADCA certification status. View the NADCA Code of Ethics.

Will HVAC system cleaning reduce our home energy bills?

Research by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has demonstrated that HVAC system cleaning may allow systems to run more efficiently by removing debris from sensitive mechanical components. Clean, efficient systems are less likely to break down, have a longer life span and generally operate more effectively than dirty systems.

Courtesy of nadca.com

Seasonal Watering Tips

6/20/2017 (Permalink)

INDOOR WATERING TIPS:

Don’t forget to check your faucets for leaks ?! Leaks waste water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Everyday Water Use
    • Do not let the faucet run while brushing your teeth. Just wet your toothbrush and fill a small glass with water for rinsing out your mouth.
    • Limit showers to no longer than 5-minutes.
    • Select the appropriate water level for the size of your load of laundry or dishes.
Watering Plants
    • Rotate plants toward the light whenever you water them to keep them growing straight.
    • Water hanging plants with ice cubes to keep water from spilling out of the bottom.
    • Use pots made from non-porous material such as plastic to help plants retain moisture longer

OUTDOOR WATERING TIPS:

Lawn care When the weather is hot, outdoor water usage increases significantly. The good news is that most lawns can thrive with less water than you think.

When to Water
    • To determine if your grass needs watering, step on it. If it springs back up, it doesn’t need watering. If the blades of the grass lie flat, it’s time to water.
    • Turn the sprinklers on at a low speed to avoid wasteful run-off. Remember, over-watering promotes shallow root growth, making your lawn less hardy.
    • Water early in the morning or in the evening after the sun has set to help prevent losing water to evaporation. As much as 30% of water can be lost to evaporation.
    • If using automatic sprinklers, install a rain sensor to avoid watering on rainy days.
How to Water
    • Water slowly and thoroughly during cool, windless hours, and as infrequently as possible. Never water to the point of run-off.
    • If necessary, water in several short sessions rather than one long one. Three ten-minute sessions spaced 30 minutes apart will allow your lawn to better absorb moisture.
    • Let grass grow taller in hot weather. Most southern lawns will thrive if they receive one inch of water per week during the summer.

For more information check out www.bwwb.org

Duct Cleaning

6/13/2017 (Permalink)

Duct Cleaning Process:

  • The process begins by using patented equipment including a roto-scraper, which automatically adapts to the duct's shape an diameter while traveling through the duct, removing debris and filth before vacuuming begins.
  • Next, a powerful push-pull air delivery and collection system transfers the debris from the ducting to a 16-gallon container.
  • Air is filtered through a HEPA filtration system, removing 99.97 percent of particles in the airstream. HEPA filters capture debris and keep the environment clean.
  • As an optional process, a sealant or coating product may be sprayed to address odor to microbial concerns.
  • Filters will either be cleaned or replaced to remove odor and dirt.

Duct cleaning may not always be necessary. SERVPRO of Birmingham will inspect your HVAC system and ductwork and make recommendations about the best way to address any indoor air quality concerns. This inspection can save you money and provide peace of mind on the health of your HVAC system and ductwork.

In some circumstances, such as after fire, smoke or suspected mold growth, duct cleaning becomes an essential part of the cleanup process. In these cases, SERVPRO of Birmingham can often restore the HVAC system and ductwork to pre-damage condition.