Recent Posts

Fire Cleanup & Restoration

1/8/2018 (Permalink)

What would you do if...

You receive a call from a client today with a fire loss?

You have a fire loss on one of your properties?

You have a fire at your own personal property?

Some statistics...

Fire claims spike during the months of November - February.

On average, Fire causes over $12.4 billion in property damage annualy.

Top 5 Causes of Fire loss:
Cooking equipment
Heating equipment
Intentional
Electrical distribution & lighting equipment
Smoking materials

After the fire is out...

You need a company "Like SERVPRO"
Industry research from 2016 by Buntin Group found that SERVPRO Brand is becoming synonymous with the services provided!

Why not a Contractor?

Mitigate, clean, & restore FIRST! Then repair and rebuild.

SERVPRO of Birmingham can handle it all -One Stop Shop.

By the way...

WE DO BOARDUP!
Many times, the home or building must be secured immediately BEFORE anything else.

Freezing Pipes

1/5/2018 (Permalink)

As a partner with the American Red Cross, here is some great information on freezing pipes that they have on their website! Check it out!
Why Pipe Freezing is a Problem

Water has a unique property in that it 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:

  • Pipes that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, and water sprinkler lines.
  • 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.
How to Protect Pipes From Freezing
Before the onset of cold weather, protect your pipes from freezing by following these recommendations:
  • Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer's or installer's directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful, and is dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.
  • Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
  • Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in these areas.
  • Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
  • Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a "pipe sleeve" or installing UL-listed "heat tape," "heat cable," or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes – even ¼” of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing.
  • Consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing.
How to Prevent Frozen Pipes
  • 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.
How 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 electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in 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.

http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/winter-storm/frozen-pipes

Prepare Your Business!

12/19/2017 (Permalink)

Prepare your business for winter weather!

-Check your business property for downed tree limbs and branches. Weather, such as wind, heavy rai, ice and snow, can cause branches to fall, which could cause damage to the property and potentially cause personal injuries. 

-Inspect property, especially walkways and parking lots, for proper drainage to alleviate flood hazard potential. 

-Inspect all handrails, stairwells and entryways to address and correct potential slippery or hazardous areas. Install mats or non-slip surfaces and post caution signs where water could be present.

-Ask your SERVPRO Professional about starting an Emergency Ready Profile for your business. 

What is an Emergency Ready Profile?

It is a "snapshot" of each building owned/managed by a business, that provides critical information for emergency preparation. 

Controlling Mold

12/15/2017 (Permalink)

You Can Control Mold

Inside your home you can control mold growth by:

  • Controlling humidity levels;
  • Promptly fixing leaky roofs, windows, and pipes;
  • Thoroughly cleaning and drying after flooding;
  • Ventilating shower, laundry, and cooking areas.

If mold is growing in your home, you need to clean up the mold and fix the moisture problem. Mold growth can be removed from hard surfaces with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of household laundry bleach in 1 gallon of water.

Mold growth, which often looks like spots, can be many different colors, and can smell musty. If you can see or smell mold, a health risk may be present. You do not need to know the type of mold growing in your home, and CDC does not recommend or perform routine sampling for molds. No matter what type of mold is present, you should remove it. Since the effect of mold on people can vary greatly, either because of the amount or type of mold, you can not rely on sampling and culturing to know your health risk. Also, good sampling for mold can be expensive, and standards for judging what is and what is not an acceptable quantity of mold have not been set. The best practice is to remove the mold and work to prevent future growth.

If you choose to use bleach to clean up mold:

  • Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce dangerous, toxic fumes.
  • Open windows and doors to provide fresh air.
  • Wear non-porous gloves and protective eye wear.
  • If the area to be cleaned is more than 10 square feet, consult the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guide titled Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings. Although focused on schools and commercial buildings, this document also applies to other building types. 
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using bleach or any other cleaning product.

www.cdc.gov

 

Industrial Hygienist

11/28/2017 (Permalink)

In some cases, our mold jobs need to be referred to an industrial hygienist. If you are like me then you're asking "what exactly is that and what do they do?" 

According to www.aiha.org ,  "Industrial Hygiene is a science and art devoted to the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, prevention, and control of those environmental factors or stresses arising in or from the workplace which may cause sickness, impaired health and well being, or significant discomfort among workers or among citizens of the community."

They describe Industrial hygienists as "scientists and engineers committed to protecting the health and safety of people in the workplace and the community."

SERVPRO of Birmingham South does not do inspections but we can give you a quote on the visible substance you can SEE. 

The steps listed below illustrate our process for a “typical” mold remediation infestation:

  1. Emergency Contact - (205) 252-8110
  2. Inspection and Mold Damage Assessment
  3. Mold Containment
  4. Air Filtration
  5. Removing Mold and Mold-Infested Materials
  6. Cleaning Contents and Belongings
  7. Restoration

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.