Recent Posts

Water Damage : The Science of Drying - Part I

7/13/2017 (Permalink)

Water Damage Water Damage : The Science of Drying - Part I A moisture meter helps determine water concentration levels. It is one of the tools we use to determine "What is Wet" and "How Wet Is It."

When the expert water technicians from SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa enter your home after a water disaster, we have two very important questions that we must answer before drying equipment is installed.  The first question is "What is Wet?"  The questions sounds simple enough but the answer is often more complicated.  Standing water is obvious but it almost always means that hidden cavities of water exist that must also be found.  These hidden areas can be found under cabinets or laminated flooring.  Water can also seep under tile floors or hardwoods.  Beyond the floors, water often rests inside walls and insulation and can move to adjoining rooms.  Determining "What is Wet" is one of the most important questions we much answer.

The second question in our damage assessment is "How Wet Is It?"  Water found under cabinets or inside walls can cause extensive damage if left untreated.  Wood will warp, wet sheetrock will lose its strength and insulation can absorb large amounts of water.  To answer the question "How Wet Is It," we use sophisticated metering equipment that can measure moisture levels in areas that are out of site.  We may also use a special camera capable of reading temperature variations within walls or ceiling or even in the foundation to answer this critical question.

At SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa we provide emergency water disaster services.  These are some of the questions we know how to answer to get your home dry and keep your environment safe.  We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 785-690-7373.  We know how to properly assess water damages and answering these critical questions lets us develop and execute a plan of action in our efforts to make your loss "Like it never even happened."

Grilling Safety Tips

7/11/2017 (Permalink)

Summer is finally here and we all know what that means...grilling time!  Who doesn't love a nice steak or veggies cooked on the grill while basking in the sun?  It's easy to forget that while grills are a great way to cook food in the summer, there are some hazards that go along with them.  Here are some tips to remember for safe grilling!

  1. Use your grill outside and away from low roofs.  This will not only prevent toxins from lingering in your home but will also prevent potential fires.
  2. Place the grill on a flat surface away from anything that may catch fire such as trees, shrubs, fences and hedges.
  3. Do not grill with loose clothing or dangling bits that can catch fire or are flammable.
  4. Have a fire extinguisher on hand and know how to use it.  It's also a good idea to have a small squirt bottle filled with cold water nearby to douse any minor flames.
  5. Keep children and pets away from the grilling area.
  6. Do not leave the grill unattended.
  7. Smoke and char contain chemicals that have been linked to health problems including cancer.  Do not stand over the barbeque and inhale the smoke if at all possible.  While char stripes may look good on your steak, char has been known to contain cancer causing toxins.  Cook the meat to your liking and then remove it from the grill before too much char builds up.
  8. Bristles from wire brushes have been known to get stuck on the grill and then people's food which enters the digestive system causing abdominal pain.  Use a different kind of nylon or plastic brush to clean your grill to ensure no one digests these harmful bristles.  If you already use a wire cleaning brush or plan to continue using one, just make sure you check your grill before cooking to clean any bristles off.

Follow these simple safety tips for a fun and safe grilling season!

Emergency Planning

7/6/2017 (Permalink)

Even with insurance coverage, disasters can shake the foundations of even the best-managed companies.  make a business assessment for the survival of your company.  Regardless of the cause of the catastrophe, a company's very survival often depends on being prepared to responding quickly and efficiently, so a carefully constructed disaster recovery plan is one asset that every business needs.  Before any calamity strikes, you should know what tasks will need to be performed to get your company running again and who will be responsible for accomplishing them. While there is not one-size-fits-all recovery plan, every business' strategy should include some basics.  Laying the groundwork by preparing to handle insurance claims, scouting viable options for temporary operations and considering the implications of various financial alternatives before trouble strikes can make the process of recovery much easier.  the impacts from hazards can be reduced by investing in mitigation.  If there is a potential for significant impacts, then creating a mitigation strategy should be a high priority.

https://www.ready.gov/sites/default/files/5.2.1.0%20Risk%20Assessment%20Process.png

Insurance Considerations

Depending upon the details of the policy that you have selected for your business, commercial property insurance may cover damage of loss of the insured property, time element losses, loss mitigation costs, and loss adjustment expenses.  It may also cover costs for public relations, research and development, and other necessities.  When a disaster occurs, it is crucial to take the steps that will preserve and maximize your insurance coverage.  To ensure that you receive all the benefits that your business is entitled to, familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of your policy before any problems arise.  Work with your insurance company to create a checklist of your responsibilities after a loss to aid you in meeting deadlines and assembling documentation.  Knowing what you are responsible for and being organized will make the recovery smoother and faster.

Making Your Claim

If your business is hit by disaster, set your recovery plan into motion by providing prompt notification of any claim to your insurance company.  Be ready to meet any deadlines for filing proof of loss statements.  If circumstances make the deadline for these statements unreasonable, get written approval for extensions.  Be prepared to meet any requirements for presenting the evidence of your claim if destructive testing or immediate remediation is necessary.  You will want to record your loss mitigation efforts and the reasons that these efforts were needed.

Regardless of the cause of the catastrophe, a company's very survival often depends on responding quickly and efficiently, so a carefully constructed disaster recovery plan is one asset that every business needs.  SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa has a free customizable app that can aid your company to recover in a timely manner. 

Timing Matters

Timing is critical in insurance claims.  While keeping your insurance company informed is important, you need to understand any time limitations in your policy and their potential consequences.  Review your policy to see if there is a deadline for electing a valuation method.  See if there is a time limit for rebuilding or replacement.  You will also want to check your policy for a suit limitation cause.  Most policies contain one, so you will want to be sure that it is conservatively calendared to give you time to maneuver if necessary.

Payment Possibilities

It is not surprising that cash flow is a primary concern for a business working to recover after a catastrophe.  While it can take time for a claim to be settles, some insurance policies contain provisions for claim advances or partial payments.  Search through your policy to see if these provisions are included and identify how you would invoke them.

Re-establishing Operations

A business impact analysis (https://www.ready.gov/business-impact-analysis) of your business before a disaster will plan and effectively get your business running smoothly again.  Before anything bad happens, think about how your business could operate during the recovery phase.  This may involve moving to a temporary location or finding storage for undamaged inventory or equipment, so it's smart to be aware of the possibilities in your area.  Make a note to analyze leasing and service contracts if your are forced to relocate so that you can try to tailor them to your business's specific needs.

Property Considerations

Regardless of where you set up shop after a catastrophe, you will have to decide what to do with your original location.  Is rehabilitating or rebuilding the site worthwhile?  If you believe that it is, then you will need to arrange for professional remediation, design and construction services.  If you decide against rebuilding, then you must figure out how to dispose of that property and acquire a new permanent location.  Remember that a new location will still require design and construction services in order to modify it to suit your company's needs.  Don't forget to review zoning issues for any new property to verify that your business will be able to build appropriate facilities and operate as desired at that location.

Financing Issues

Even with insurance, a recovery may require financing.  Depending on your recovery plans, options might include a line of credit, an acquisition loan or a construction loan.  In some situations, it may be possible to use legal actions to seek reimbursement from the party responsible for your loss.  Weigh all the possibilities carefully and remember to consider the potential tax consequences.  Understanding the pros and cons of your options before any problems start will make it easier to make smart decisions when a disaster hits.

When your business needs assistance dealing with the aftermath of a catastrophe, count on SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa.  Our professionals are prepared to respond, so when a significant event occurs, they'll be there for you.  Whether it is damage from flooding, a fire, a tornado, and ice event or snow storm, we have the resources and expertise to help!

Disgusting Places in Every Home: How to Clean Them

7/3/2017 (Permalink)

Even if you’re a neat and clean freak you may have hidden places in your home that are not so neat and clean. You may be surprised by where the most disgusting places in homes tend to be and how to make them shine.

Most Overlooked Disgusting Place

In a 2015 survey conducted by cleaning services startup Handy, of its 500 top-ranked pros, 37 percent of them rated shower curtains as the most overlooked place in clients’ homes. In rare cases, mold, mildew and soap scum buildup can cause serious infections. You can eliminate grime and germs on fabric, plastic, or vinyl curtains by putting them in the washing machine along with a few towels to keep the curtain from wrinkling. Wash in warm water using a ½ cup bleach and ¼ cup of laundry detergent. Then immediately hang dry the curtain.

The First Place To Clean

Most people know the bathroom is the first place you want to keep clean. But did you know that in the bathroom one of the best things you can quickly do is wipe down the sink? That’s what Becky Rapinchuk, Clean Mama blogger and author of The Organically Clean Home, recommends. Try her inexpensive chemical-free disinfecting spray you can put together yourself: ½ cup white vinegar, ½ cup vodka (for germ-killing properties), 10 drops lavender essential oil, 10 drops lemon essential oil and 1 ½ cups water (distilled or boiled and cooled). Spritz your sink and other areas. Come back in 10 minutes to rub down surfaces. If you have a pedestal sink wipe down the front and sides, all the way to the floor.

Toilet Parts Most People Miss

If you meticulously scrub the toilet bowl and toilet seat weekly and there’s a lingering musty smell, the next order of business is to clean two parts you’re likely missing: toilet seat hinges and the base of the bowl.

If you don’t have a toilet seat with hinges that lift, you’ll need a Phillips-head screwdriver to unscrew the hinges to remove the seat completely. Once that’s done, spray the hinges and cover completely with disinfectant. If the hinges are smelly or stained, Becky Rapinchuk suggests sprinkling a bit of baking soda on the hinges and let that sit. That will take that odor away. Then rinse it and wipe it down.

To tackle another possible source of odor, spray the outside of the bowl and behind the toilet, let it sit and wipe up with a microfiber cloth (or paper towels if really grimy).

Toothbrush Holders Can Hold Millions of Germs

This benign-seeming bathroom cup is one of the germiest spots in your house. Some experts say the average toothbrush holder has more than 2 million bacteria cells. Bamboo and wood may look attractive, but they’re difficult to clean, so go with a dishwasher-safe material like brushed stainless steel, or plastic, and clean it once or twice a week.

Sponges Often Contain E. Coli

Sponges can be a breeding ground for bacteria. It’s likely that the one near your sink contains E. coli and salmonella bacteria. A two-minute turn in the microwave can kill most of the viruses, parasites and spores that grow on sponges. Still you should change your sponges every two weeks or so.

Bathtub and Shower Bacteria

About one in four bathtubs and showers harbored the bacteria known as staphylococci. That bacteria can cause problems with superficial skin lesions and urinary tract infections. Keep these germs at bay by using a mild shower spray daily. Do avoid abrasive cleaners.

We’re Here to Help

The team at SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa has specialized training and experience in many types of cleaning, natural disaster prevention, and natural disaster cleanup. Call SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa 785-690-7373 anytime, 24/7.

Hoarding

6/29/2017 (Permalink)

Compulsive hoarding is the excessive acquisition of possessions, even if the items are worthless, hazardous or unsanitary.  2-5% of Americans may meet the criteria of being a hoarder.

SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa's technicians always wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and are trained to assist in removing and disposing of unsalvageable materials.  We understand this is a sensitive concern for many and will work with the friends/family to make the cleanup process as smooth as possible.  We remove and dispose of items followed by sanitizing, cleaning and deodorizing the entire area.  Our job is to clean and sanitize in the most efficient and effective way possible to make the living conditions safe and sanitary.

If you need help with a hoarding situation, give the professionals at SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa a call.  Our experienced technicians have the expertise and equipment necessary for this type of cleaning job.  We will be able to have you back in a clean and safe home in no time at all.

Commercial Fire Prevention Tips

6/27/2017 (Permalink)

Suggestions from SERVPRO to Prevent Commercial Fires

Substantial fire damage in commercial buildings and retail stores are environments where outbreaks of fires occur with too much frequency.  When we talk about fire prevention and safety, it usually revolves around a house, keeping it intact and secure.  The protection of our family is always paramount, so we practice fire drills and exit strategies just in case of a fire damaging event.  But what about fire safety in a commercial business setting?  SERVPRO offers fire prevention tips for businesses and discusses ways to avoid fire damage at work. 

Commercial Fire Damage Tips: Keep employees, co-workers, and customers safe by preventing a fire from breaking out at your place of business.  Also, we will discuss some tips to help reduce fire damage and property loss in an office environment.

Preventing Workplace Fires.  There are many threats to a business owner's livelihood and safety - some preventable and other not.  Though every fire cannot be prevented, there are some steps you and your employees can take to reduce the risk of a fire starting in the workplace.

Electrical fires make up a sizable percentage of reported fire outbreaks each year and, regarding property damage, are among the most costly.  Fortunately, electrical fires are one of the most preventable types.  For starters, never overload an electrical outlet or power strip.  Stay within the parameters of amperage allotted to your business establishment.  If more juice is necessary, SERVPRO suggests that you hire an electrician to boost the electrical load.  Outlets are made to handle specific workloads, and the more electronics you plug into them, the higher the risk of a fire-causing power overload.  Heavy appliances, such as photocopiers, break room refrigerators, and large numbers of computers or servers can draw large amounts of current.  Never plug more than one major appliance into an outlet, as you run the risk of overloading the circuits.

Flammable material and chemicals should always be secured in well-ventilated storage areas away from electrical outlets, power strips, and areas that experience higher-than-normal levels of heat, such as an over or water heater.  Clutter, in general, creates a large fire hazard, since it can act as fuel for fire and rapidly spread flames.  A messy office can also prevent access to emergency exits at work, making it difficult for employees and customers to evaluate and difficult for emergency workers to perform rescue and fire extinguishing efforts.  Always keep entry and exit points clear.  The same goes for electrical panels - if an electrical fire occurs, you will want to shut off power immediately.  If the electrical panel is blocked, the fire will have time to spread before you can turn off the electricity.

Be sure to schedule time with your local fire marshal to inspect fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, and fire suppressant sprinklers on a regular basis.  Of course, no amount of preparation and care can guarantee 100% prevention of fire damage in your workplace in Lawrence/Ottawa.  Have SERVPRO on your speed dial for immediate response to any commercial fire damaging event.

Locally Owned Company with National Resources

SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa can respond immediately to your commercial fire damage emergency regardless of the scope of size of the damage.  We are part of a national network of over 1,650 Franchises with special Disaster Recovery Teams ready to help you in Lawrence/Ottawa and surrounding areas.  We are faster to any size disaster.  Call us at 785-690-7373.

Fireworks Safety for the 4th of July

6/13/2017 (Permalink)

Community Fireworks Safety for the 4th of July SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa would like to wish you and your family a Happy Fourth of July!

The number of Americans planning to use backyard fireworks this Fourth of July is expected to hit an all-time high.  In preparation for holiday celebrations, The National Council on Fireworks Safety (NCFS) encourages consumers to review all safety tips before purchasing and using fireworks.

"Every year, safety is our first priority as families begin to plan their Fourth of July festivities.  While fireworks are the most iconic and festive way to celebrate our country's independence, there can be dangers if fireworks are used improperly," said Nancy Blogin, President of the National Council on Fireworks Safety.  "Consumers should purchase fireworks from a reputable company or fireworks stand, check local and state laws for fireworks use in your city, and check all instructions on fireworks packaging before use."

The fireworks industry has made great progress in improving firework quality and reducing injuries; however, there is still work to be done as the vast majority of fireworks-related injuries in the U.S. each year result from the misuse of fireworks.

We have seen an increase in injuries among youth that have used fireworks in videos unsafely to impress their friends or to get a laugh.  We want parents to help us put a stop to using fireworks in viral videos by encouraging safety and by explaining that the improper use of fireworks can produce serious injuries or even death.

"We have a collective responsibility as a community to put a stop to improper fireworks usage.  If you see something that is unsafe, say something or report it to your local fire or police department," said Blogin.

The NCFS's missing is to educate the public on the safe use of fireworks and encourages consumers to follow the following safety tips before engaging in fireworks celebrations this Fourth of July:

  1. Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
  2. Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting.
  3. A responsible adult should supervise all firework activities.  Never give fireworks to children.
  4. Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.  Save your alcohol for after the show.
  5. Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
  6. Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
  7. Do not hold a firework item in your hand.
  8. Use fireworks outdoors in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
  9. Never relight a "dud" firework.  Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water before you discard it.
  10. After purchasing fireworks, always store them in a cool, dry place.
  11. When using fireworks always have a connected hose, bucket of water, or other water source nearby.
  12. Never carry fireworks in your pocket or shoot them into metal or glass containers.
  13. Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
  14. Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and place in a metal trashcan away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
  15. Ensure all pets and animals are away from fireworks noise.
  16. With the rise in stress-related disorders affecting American service men and women, pay special consideration to individuals who may be sensitive to loud noises in proximity to your fireworks show.

If you have any questions regarding how to properly use fireworks we encourage you to consult your local dealer.

About The National Council on Fireworks Safety

The National Council on Fireworks Safety is a nonprofit 501(c) organization dedicated to educating the public about the safe and responsible enjoyment of consumer fireworks.  For more information, visit http://www.fireworkssafety.org.

Mold 101 : What to Know

6/12/2017 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation Mold 101 : What to Know There is a plethora of bad information floating around about mold. SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa has your back and can help you sort through the facts.

Chances are by now you have seen or heard horror stories about mold.  Maybe it's from a neighbor, friend, or even the local news doing a story about the evil "Black Mold" that is spreading across the country.

First things first, let's understand one basic fact that some people may not tell you... Mold is everywhere.  I can guarantee that you have brought mold into your home.  The good thing is that not all mold is harmful to humans.  The type of mold, the environment, and how much mold is in an area (measures in spores per cubic meter) goes a long way in determining what steps are necessary to keep your house and your family safe.

The other factor that makes understanding mold difficult is that there is a plethora of misinformation floating around.  What kind of risks are there?  How rare is it to find mold in your house?  What are the chances that your home insurance covers mold?  How do you know which information is accurate?  Don't worry, SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa has your back.  Over the next few weeks check back to see our updates so you can be in the know about mold.

Storm Damage Cleanup and Restoration

6/12/2017 (Permalink)

Storm and flood damage require specialized restoration techniques and equipment.  When a storm hits your home, you need the company with storm damage experience and expertise.  SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa can respond immediately to storm and flooding conditions.

SERVPRO is faster to any disaster.  We're dedicated to responding immediately to water and storm damage emergencies.  A fast response lessens the damage, limits further damage, and reduces cost.  As leaders in the storm and water damage industry, we have advanced training and expertise, not to mention a tremendous amount of hands-on experience.  We use this training and experience to quickly dry your home and restore it back to pre-storm condition.

What you can do until help arrives:

After any water damage situation, your primary focus should be safety first.

  • Is it safe to stay in the house?
  • Electrical and "slip and fall" hazards are some of the most prevalent concerns.
  • Only do activities that are safe for you to perform.
  • Wet materials can be VERY heavy.  Be careful!

What to do After Flooding

  • Remove excess water by mopping and blotting.
  • Wipe excess water from wood furniture after removal of lamps and tabletop items.
  • Remove and prop wet upholstery and cushions.
  • Place aluminum foil or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpet.
  • Turn air conditioning on for maximum drying in summer.
  • Remove colored rugs from wet carpeting.
  • Remove art objects to a safe, dry place.
  • Gather loose items from floors.

What NOT to do After Flooding

  • Don't leave wet fabrics in place.  Hang furs and leather goods.
  • Don't leave books, magazines or other colored items on wet carpet or floors.
  • Don't use your household vacuum to remove water.
  • Don't use television or other household appliances.
  • Don't turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet, and keep out of rooms where ceilings are sagging.

Do you have a water emergency?  Call us today at 785-690-7373.

What kind of equipment will be used in my home or business?

6/8/2017 (Permalink)

General What kind of equipment will be used in my home or business? Here are just some of the pieces of equipment you may encounter during your water damage.

When a water damage occurs it is common to feel blindsided by the many steps involved in the mitigation process.  The task of removing the water, drying out the home or business, then putting things back into place seem a bit overwhelming.  That's where we can help.  Our team of highly qualified technicians take great care in walking customers through the steps necessary to dry and repair their property. 

There are many different types of equipment utilized in the drying and restoration process.  Here is just a glimpse of what you can expect to see:

  • Air Movers and/or Axial Fan : Professional grade air movers and axial fans produce more air movement than a standard household fan.  The higher volume of air being moved increases the rate of evaporation, helping to dry the structure as quickly as possible.
  • Dehumidifier : A dehumidifier removes water vapor from the air by condensing it out against refrigerated fins.  The water is stored and then periodically purged from the machine by use of plastic tubing.  The tubing will generally be run so that it dumps water down a drain, such as a bath tub or sink, or sometimes out a window or door.  Professional dehumidifiers pull much more vapor from the air than a household dehumidifier.  In this way they are generally more efficient.
  • Air Scrubber : An air scrubber might be used if your loss is a result of water classified as a category 2 or 3 loss; which means that it came from a contaminated source or through building materials.  These machines remove airborne particulates by trapping them in HEPA filters.  Air scrubbers are also used in cases where a customer has a health condition that requires the air quality to be monitored.
  • Specialty Drying Equipment : There are a variety of different tools available to our technicians for use in specialty circumstances.

Many customers are concerned about the cost of their power bill when they see the amount of equipment needed to dry their property.  This is an understandable concern.  Your insurance adjuster can discuss how to handle this with you.