Recent Posts

The Holiday's Are Here

12/4/2017 (Permalink)

The holiday season is a time for gathering with friends and family to enjoy fellowship and quality time.  As the weather outside turns frightful, we rely on the warmth of our homes to host gatherings with loved ones.

What happens if a disaster strikes your property during the most wonderful time of year?  You can't afford to wait for a restoration company to return from Christmas vacation to begin the cleanup.  You need help now - even if it is the night before Christmas.  If a fire or water damage strikes your home or business during the holidays, give SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa a call.  We are on call 365 days a year, because we know disasters can't wait.  We are dedicated to helping keep your holidays merry and bright.

Stay Safe This Season: Decorating Safety

  • Wear gloves while decorating with spun glass "angel hair."  It can irritate your eyes and skin.  A common substitute is non-flammable cotton.
  • When spraying artificial snow on windows or other surfaces, be sure to follow directions carefully.  These sprays can irritate your lungs if you inhale them.
  • Small children may think that holiday plants look good enough to eat, but many plants may be poisonous or can cause severe stomach problems.  Plants to watch out for include: mistletoe, holly berries, Jerusalem cherry and amaryllis.  Keep all of these plants out of children's reach.
  • When displaying a tree, cut off about two inches from the trunk and put the tree in a sturdy, water-holding stand.  Keep the stand filled with water so the tree does not dry out quickly.
  • Stand your tree away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources.  Make sure the tree does not block foot traffic or doorways.
  • Avoid placing breakable tree ornaments or ones with small, detachable parts on lower branches where small children or pets can reach them.
  • If you use an artificial tree, choose one that is tested and labeled as fire resistant.  Artificial trees with built-in electrical systems should have the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label.
  • Only use indoor lights indoors (and outdoor light only outdoors).  Look for the UL label.  Check lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, and loose connections.  Replace or repair any damaged light sets.
  • Use no more than three light sets on any one extension cord.  Extension cords should be placed against the wall to avoid tripping hazards, but do not run cords under rugs, around furniture legs or across doorways.
  • Turn off all lights on trees and decorations when you go to bed or leave the house.  Unplug extension cords when not in use.
  • If using a natural tree, make sure it is well watered to avoid dry branches from catching fire from the heat of light bulbs.
  • When displaying outdoor lights, fasten them firmly to a secure support with insulated staples or hooks to avoid wind damage.  Never nail, tack or stress wiring when hanging lights and keep plugs of the ground away from puddles and snow.

If disaster does strike during the holiday season, SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  After all, SERVPRO Franchise Professionals have been helping keep homes merry and bright for more than 45 years.

Why Clean Air Ducts Prevent Commercial Fire Damage in Restaurants

11/29/2017 (Permalink)

SERVPRO Technicians Can Identify Possible Causes of Future Fires for Business Owners

For obvious reasons, restaurants are a common source of commercial fires.  The combination of intense heat, lots of activity, and industrial powered equipment can be a veritable tinderbox if not handles correctly.

For example, the most common cause of restaurant fires is poorly maintained air duct and extraction systems.  In other words, commercial fire damage in eateries is not usually linked to pan fires or unsafe behaviors.  The culprit is a build-up of grease.

As a local provider of fire damage repairs, SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa is used to dealing with this kind of problem.  Our technicians do more than just restore.  They help business owners to avoid future fires, by identifying the source.

Why Duct Maintenance is Essential

In a commercial kitchen, grease and fat accumulate at a rapid rate.  Air duct and extraction fans are actually designed to remove this grime from the air.  Yet, many kitchens forget to clean them.  The grease starts to coat the surface of the ducts.

If even a small fire occurs, there is a risk of the material catching alight and causing extensive damage.  Walls may be stained and blackened with soot.  In cases of serious fire, they will be burned and could need replacing.

How to Recover From a Duct Fire

All restaurants and commercial kitchens need to employ a professional service to clean and maintain their duct systems.  This is the only way to ensure that a build-up of grease doesn't significantly raise the risk of fire.  However, if your business does fall victim to fire damage, it doesn't have to be the end of your story.

SERVPRO has spent many years bringing commercial sites back from the brink of destruction.  We have access to state of the art cleaning tools, which can remove stubborn soot and smoke stains.  We use sophisticated deodorizing devices to disinfect the air and eliminate foul odors. 

If your business needs advice on fire prevention, you can get in touch with our experts.  SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa is a local company, which carries out extensive fire damage repairs.  We can help you, no matter how bad your situation.  Call us 24/7 at 785-690-7373.

Controlling Future Mold Growth

11/27/2017 (Permalink)

Mold damage may seem like a slow and minimally threatening factor in your home, but in reality, it is one of the most costly and preventable types of damage that exists.  Unlike fires and floods, preventative measure can be taken to prevent mold growth in its entirety.  Half of the battle is knowing where and how mold tends to grow and watching over vulnerable areas like a hawk.  The other half involves keeping out its life essentials, namely a source of water.

Where to Watch for Mold

Mold grows most easily in dark, warm areas, such as in basements or behind walls.  Importantly, mold damage always occurs on an organic surface such as fabric, carpet, or wood.  This is because mold uses the surface it grows on as a food source, feeding on its nutrients and slowly wearing away at it.  This is why prolonged mold exposure can cause material to rot away; the mold is literally eating away at it.  Check up on areas that are out of your normal sight lines and have an organic surface, especially bathrooms, as these will be your primary growth spots for future mold damage.

What it Needs to Grow

Mold need three things to grow: heat, food, and water.  Unfortunately, the first two aren't controlled by you, as they are necessary for your own comfort and home.  Water, however, can be controlled and kept from an area.  Mold is adaptable and can grow with nearly any source of water, whether it is flowing or standing water on a surface, dampened material, or even just a high degree of humidity in the environment.  All of these can be controlled, so be sure to keep humidity as low as possible and water away from parts of your home where it should not be.

SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa is fully certified and equipped to handle mold damage of all shapes, sizes, and species.  Contact us as soon as you spot damage at 785-690-7373.

Tips from SERVPRO to Help Prevent Fire Damage to Your Business Establishment

11/24/2017 (Permalink)

Commercial fire damage is a potential business disruptor.  Although many fire safety tips focus on the home, preventing fires in the workplace setting is equally important.  Unfortunately, many commercial property owners do not start thinking about fire hazards and how to prevent them until a disaster strikes.  However, learning about fire prevention and recovery strategies right now can help you limit your losses and preserve your business if a mishap transpires.  SERVPRO offers the following tips to help avert, or mitigate, a fire damaging occurrence.

Office Fire Prevention Tips

  • Do not overload your electrical outlets.  Instead, distribute electrical loads using outlets to preclude an unwanted accident.  Also, make sure that your outlets have surge protectors and have installed GFCI outlets in breakrooms and restrooms to prevent electrical shocks.
  • Buy fireproof safes and file cabinets.  Place your important materials and documents inside them so they won't be destroyed in the event of a fire.  Also, utilize the cloud to prevent business disruptions.
  • Check your smoke alarm batteries every month and replace them each year, if not hot-wired into the building structure.  Insure fire exit signs are functioning and that there are free exit paths from doors.
  • Replace your empty or expired fire extinguishers.  Use smoke detectors and fire suppressant sprinkler systems.
  • Unplug your non-essential appliances every night, especially space heaters and coffee pots, overheated appliance wires cause innumerable fire damage episodes.
  • Do not store flammable items on the commercial property without proper fire safe barriers.
  • Make sure your office staff participates in emergency fire drills regularly, have your local fire marshal instruct on fire safety procedures.
  • Develop an emergency disaster plan to optimize business continuity policies and procedures.

Office Fire Recovery Tips

  • If a fire transpires, be sure to contact your insurance agent.  This individual will help you file your claim.
  • Contact a team of trained fire damage restoration experts like SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa.  These experts can do an assessment and offer a restoration plan that can be coordinated with the cooperation of your insurance agent.  These individuals will clean any regions of the commercial property impacted by water, fire, smoke, soot, odor and security board up.  They will also thoroughly inspect the property to determine how safe it is.  Finally, the remediation specialists will utilize document restoration strategies on your behalf.
  • Continue completing business transactions at another location during the property restoration process.

Call SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa if you find that your commercial property has sustained fire damage.  Our IICRC - certified technicians have extensive industry experience and training.  The SERVPRO brand has rightfully earned its reputation of ethical and efficient business practices.  Our business is to get your business back in business.  "Like it never even happened."

Commercial Restoration Presents Unique Challenges

SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa has the training, equipment, and experience to handle large or small commercial fire damage emergencies.  Whether your fire emergency occurs in a restaurant, a motel, or an office building, we will respond quickly to mitigate the damage and manage the restoration project through its completion.  Call us 24/7 at 785-690-7373.

Thanksgiving Holiday Safety Tips

11/22/2017 (Permalink)

Unfortunately, Thanksgiving is a time of year when serious fires can occur.  Thanksgiving Day tops the charts as one of the peak days for home cooking fires.

Cooking is the leading cause of fires and fire related injuries across the country.  Deep fryer fires result in more than $15 million in property damage each year in the United States, according to the National Fire Protection Association.  Cooking fires are easily preventable.  SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa offers these tips for safer cooking this holiday:

When deep-frying turkeys, there are a number of things to remember:

  • Only use an approved turkey fryer with four legs and a built-in thermostat so proper oil temperature can be maintained.  Make sure the fryer cannot tip over, a major cause of most fires.
  • Fry outdoors, away from buildings and other combustible items.  Never use a fryer indoors.  Keep children and pets away while frying.
  • Follow instructions on what size turkey should be used, how it should be cooked and what type of oil to use.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and dry.  Do not stuff the bird and don't forget to take out the bag of gizzards.  Lower the turkey into the hot oil slowly.
  • Never leave the fryer unattended.  Wear fry gloves; regular oven mittens may not be insulated enough.
  • Splashing oil can cause a flash fire and serious burns, so be careful.

Other holiday safety tips include:

  • When cooking indoors using a natural gas or propane stove, make sure there is not a build up of carbon monoxide in the home.  The stove is a common source of carbon monoxide in the home, especially if you are cooking for several hours.  Run any vents you have in the kitchen, especially the one over the stove.  You should open windows/doors in the kitchen at least once each hour to allow fresh air to circulate into the kitchen.
  • Make sure you have a properly operating smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector in the home.
  • In the case of a stove fire, shut off the stove and cover the burning pan with a lid or use a fire extinguisher.  Do not throw water, salt, flour or any other substance on the fire; these substances can cause the fire to flare up.  Do not try to move a burning pan outside.
  • If there is a fire inside the oven, shut off the oven and leave the door shut.  Call 9-1-1 and report the fire and leave the home until firefighters arrive.
  • If using candles for decorations, never leave burning candles unattended and keep combustible items away.
  • If you allow smoking in your home, make sure that all smoking material is properly discarded.
  • If you use a fireplace, make sure the damper is open and the chimney flue is clear to allow smoke and gases to escape properly.  Discard ashes into a pail of water and let them soak for several hours before discarding.  Do not discard ashes in the trash or store them in cardboard boxes or trash bags.
  • When retiring for the evening, make a final inspection of your home and ensure that all appliances, especially the stove, are turned off.  If you used outside appliances such as a barbeque or turkey fryer, make sure the gas is off and ashes are put in a pail of water.
  • Check to ensure any decoration, such as lights, are turned off and candles have been extinguished.
  • If smoking was permitted in your home, check all furniture for improperly discarded smoking material.  Take all trash outside and keep it away from the house.

We home these tips help.  Have a HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

Tips to Keeping Your Floor Clean in Your Home

11/20/2017 (Permalink)

If your home collecting dirt and germs every time you walk through the door?  The answer is yes.  Shoes collect bacteria on the soles and can track it straight into your home, but there are a few ways to prevent this.  More importantly, there are ways to treat your floor and home if it hasn't been done recently.

Problem:

Some of the bacteria that lands on our shoes can cause a decline in our health if not cleaned.  If fact, an EPA study http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es980580o shows that unhealthy herbicides can also be tracked in on our shoes.  Don't let this scare you because it can be prevented.

Tip:

Try setting a shoe rack in your garage or right when you walk into your home for shoes to be placed.  This limits the exposure of these unwanted germs.  It's not a bad idea to clean your shoes once a month either.  Now only will this help eliminate bacteria, but will also make your shoes look better, longer.

Problem:

If you think that your carpet or flooring already has unhealthy herbicides in it, then it may be time for a deep cleaning.  Of course this will help kill germs and bacteria, but also get rid of dirt.

Tip:

If you have a steam cleaner, use it to clean your floor.  The heat of the water that cleans your carpet will help kill bacteria.  If your home is mostly hardwood or tile, grab your mop and the appropriate cleanser to rid your floor of unwanted germs.

Lastly, if you are still unsatisfied, a professional cleaning company can do the job.  In either situation, plan to have a good floor cleaning once a month.

Benefits of Cleaning Your HVAC Duct System

11/17/2017 (Permalink)

Top Benefits of HVAC Cleaning

NADCA's rule of thumb for consumers is that "if your ducts look dirty, they probably are," and that dirty HVAC systems should be inspected by a reputable, certified HVAC professional.  Below are some other reasons homeowners choose to have their air ducts cleaned.

Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality is one concern that homeowners have when they decide to investigate air duct cleaning.  In a typical six-room home, up to 40 pounds of dust is created annually through everyday living.  Your heating and cooling system is the lungs of your home.  The system takes are in and breaths air out.

Through normal occupation in a home, we 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.  Over time, this re-circulation causes a build-up of contaminants in the duct work.

While dirty ducts don't necessarily mean unhealthy air in your home, school or workplace, they may be contributing to larger health issues by harboring contaminants that could cause serious health problems for people with respiratory health conditions, autoimmune disorders or some environmental allergies.

Energy Savings

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 25 to 40 percent of the energy used for heating and cooling a home is wasted.  Contaminants in the heating and cooling system cause it to work harder and shorten the life of your system.  Although filters are used, the heating and cooling system still gets dirty through normal use.

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.

SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa is the premier specialty cleaning company.  Call us today for your air duct cleaning appointment.  785-690-7373

What you should know about sewage cleanup.

11/15/2017 (Permalink)

Sewage is one of the most dangerous substances to enter homes or buildings.  It contains fungi, bacteria and viruses, many of which are disease-causing.  Unfortunately, many people fail to understand the hazards that sewage presents, particularly for the very young or very old, or for those with compromised immune systems or respiratory problems.

The IICRC has compiles guidelines for professional sewage cleanup called the Standard for Water Damage Restoration (S500).

Here are the key principles you should know about sewage back-ups:

  • Sewage contains a variety of pathogenic - disease causing - fungi, bacteria, viruses and parasites.  Anyone who works on sewage losses must have updated vaccinations, including one for Hepatitis B.
  • Sewage exposure is particularly dangerous for people with weakened immune systems, including anyone under two or over 60, those who are pregnant, ill, recovering from surgery, on prescription drugs or chemotherapy, or are AIDS victims.
  • It is not safe to stay in a building that's flooded with sewage unless the contaminated area can be completely sealed off and placed under controlled air flow so that there will be no cross contamination of unaffected areas.
  • Highly absorbent sewage-saturated materials, such as carpet, pad, upholstery, bedding, wicker, paper, or even fabrics that can't be washed in hot water (130 F/54 C) for at least 10 minutes, must be contained and disposed of properly.  This goes for sewage-saturated drywall, insulation and several other structural materials too.  There's simply too great a health risk involved if any of these materials are dried in place and cleaned only.
  • Only the most highly trained professionals should attempt sewage remediation work.  Then, a "third party" indoor environmental professional can provide post-remediation verification or "clearance testing" to ensure that the home or building is safe to re-occupy.

Special training and equipment is necessary to safely clean this type of contamination.  Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration.  From initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO's Corporate Training Facility to regular IICRC industry certifications, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property.

Sewage Backup or Toilet Overflow?  Call us today - 785-690-7373

Do You Have Dirty Ducts?

11/13/2017 (Permalink)

Did you know your ventilation system is often the biggest culprit in poor indoor air quality?  Inspecting the ductwork in your facility or home should be a high priority.  In most cases, the HVAC system has been operating for some time without much attention.  Dirty ducts can circulate odors, contaminants such as mold, and irritating dust throughout your building or home.

A routine part of SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa's service is inspecting the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning unit (HVAC).  Keeping the HVAC and ductwork clean can potentially extend the life-span of the equipment by allowing it to operate at peak condition, which may help save you money.  Duct cleaning may not always be necessary.  SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa will inspect your HVAC system and ductwork and make recommendations about the best way to address any indoor air quality concerns.  This inspection can help save you money and proved peace of mind on the health of your HVAC system and ductwork.  In some circumstances, such as after a fire, smoke or suspected mold growth, duct cleaning becomes an essential part of the cleanup process.  In these cases, we can often restore the HVAC system and ductwork to pre-damage condition.

If you have a fuel-burning furnace, stove, or fireplace, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends they be inspected for proper functioning and be serviced before each heating season to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning.  The SERVPRO Duct Cleaning System is proven and cost-efficient.  Unlike the majority of duct cleaning services, SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa uses a portable ventilation and air duct cleaning system to examine ductwork and make a clean sweep, removing years of dust and grime.

The process begins by using patented equipment, including roto-scraper, which automatically adapts to the ducts shape and 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 the particles in the airstream.  HEPA filters capture debris and keep the indoor environment clean.

As an optional process, a sealant or coating product may be sprayed to address odor or microbial concerns. 

Filters will either be cleaned or replaced to remove odor and dirt.  For more information on duct cleaning, or to schedule and appointment, contact your local SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa today.

Water Damage : The Science of Drying - Part II

11/10/2017 (Permalink)

When the expert water technicians from SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa begin drying your home after a water disaster, we have already answered two very important questions : "What is Wet" and "How Wet It Is."  We have discussed these questions in an earlier post.  The answers to those questions allow us to develop a specific plan of action to begin the drying process.  That plan tells us how much temporary drying equipment is needed in the affected areas and where that equipment needs to be installed.

Once drying equipment is installed and operating, the next phase of drying your home begins.  Like the initial assessment, there are two questions that must be properly answered before our job is complete.  Those questions are, "Is It Drying?" and "Is It Dry?"

Under ideal circumstances, drying your home can take several days.  The different materials impacted by water damage in your home have unique drying characteristics.  The metering equipment that tells us what is wet also tells us how much these materials have dried.  Proper drying techniques include temperature management, air movement and dehumidification.  Temperature (heat) brings moisture to the surface.  Air movement removes (evaporates) moisture from the surface.  Dehumidification removed the evaporated moisture from the air while supplying a sufficient amount of dry heated air to keep the cycle going.  This on-going process lets us answer the question, "Is It Drying."

The final question, "Is It Dry," is answered when moisture and other measurements taken from the areas initially impacted by the water damage closely match the readings from the areas that remained dry.  In our initial assessment, and throughout the drying process, we take moisture measurements from an area within your home that was unaffected by the water leak and use those measurements as our "drying standard."  In its simplest terms, when our wet-area measurements closely match the dry-area measurements, we can conclude your home is dry.

At SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa, we provide emergency water disaster services.  There are 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 develop and execute a plan of action in our efforts to make your loss "Like it never even happened."