Recent Posts

Why do we have the urge to "Spring Clean?"

3/1/2018 (Permalink)

Spring is just around the corner and with spring comes the spring cleaning. It’s the time of year when people feel the need to take big cleaning projects, indoors and outdoors. But why? Is it because of the cold and general gloominess of the winter? Is it because we are constantly inside that we feel there is no point in thoroughly cleaning?

If could be because the general idea of spring cleaning (removing furniture, carpets, or even cleaning out the garage) is just rooted in the idea to get the house in order. In our past, our houses became more dirty in the winter. Before the furnace, the house was heated with a wood burning stove or fireplace. Getting the sooty mess out of the home every spring could be a ritual we keep today.

One of the things that most people look forward to with the warm weather is opening the windows and letting the fresh air in and the dust from the long winter out. If could be that with the fresh air we want a fresh home.

While the urge to clean is strong, it’s a good time to get your air ducts and carpet cleaned. A good rule of thumb would be to professionally clean your carpet every 12 months. Possibly sooner if you have children or pets. The best advice is to clean carpets before they become totally saturated with soil. If you wait until carpets look really dirty, the carpets may never be restored to their former appearance. Dirt builds up in layers, and when a carpet look dirty you are only seeing the dirt at the tips of the fibers. More dirt is hiding below the surface down near the base of the pile, causing damage to the carpet. When a carpet is saturate with dirt, the soil has penetrated crevices and has become firmly lodged.

With carpet cleaning being recommended every year, the spring cleaning time is a good way to remember to get your carpet cleaned regularly.

The amount of time between air duct cleanings can vary. Ventilation systems are often the biggest culprit in poor indoor air quality. If your HVAC has been operating for some time without attention, it could be circulating dust, pollen, odors, dirt and debris, or other contaminants. If you notice an excessive amount of dust in your home, it may be a good time to get your ductwork inspected.

SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa can help with your spring cleaning. With a long list of cleaning services, we can help you get through the spring cleaning urge and with much less effort. With services from whole home cleanings, to simply just having your carpets cleaned. We will get the job done right! You know SERVPRO as a leader in Fire and Water Cleanup and Restoration, but our professional residential cleaning services can also make a dirty carpet “Like it never even happened.”

Call us today. 785-690-7373.

How Can A Homeowner Perform Odor Control?

2/27/2018 (Permalink)

Responsible odor control is key to keeping foul smells from taking over the home, and homeowners can perform many of these tasks on their own. And when a certain stench is proving to be too difficult to deal with, certified professionals can provide ample backup. Certified technicians have access to a variety of commercial products that are designed to neutralize many stenches. And a professional may be necessary if the smell is caused by something like smoke, which is notoriously difficult to neutralize.

However, there are situations where a homeowner can perform some form of odor control on their own. This normally includes smells caused by pet waste and food remnants, and the approach is somewhat simple. To begin with, it is extremely important that a homeowner responds to the source of the smell right away. By washing the area with some hot soapy water, a homeowner can blunt some of the stench, and a homeowner may be able to get rid of it completely by applying white vinegar and water to the area, and by opening windows. Fresh air can go a long way in eliminating repulsive smells, as can vacuuming. Finally, a homeowner can apply baking soda to the carpet to slowly draw the smell out of the flooring. This may take a couple days, but once vacuumed up, it should leave behind a fresher smell.

Again, if these methods aren’t enough, and they often aren’t, then homeowners shouldn’t hesitate to bring in an experienced, certified professional to effectively neutralize the odors.

As experts in deodorization, SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa is trained to identify and eliminate offensive odors. These odors can come from a number of sources both inside and outside a structure. Masking and other short cuts don’t work when your odor problem is serious or persistent.

We have the training and equipment to identify and eliminate these offensive odors. By identifying the cause of the odor and determining the conditions in which it contact any surfaces, the odor can often be removed over time without a trace. Our technicians have access to several odor removal products capable of penetrating surfaces to neutralize an unpleasant odor thoroughly.

The science of identifying and eliminating odors can be a tricky thing, so give us a call, and leave the restoration to us.  785-690-7373.

Understanding NWS Forecast Terms

2/22/2018 (Permalink)

(Courtesy: National Weather Service/NOAA, Department of Commerce)

Since we do 24 hour emergency water damage cleanup we definitely keep an eye on the weather. Each time it rains or storms we can get a wide range of phone calls from overflowing sump pumps to leaky windows and roofs, so it’s important for us to follow and understand Weather Forecast Terminology. Here’s some helpful information that should help you understand what all those weather terms mean.

Understanding the terminology behind weather forecasts is an integral part of our everyday decision-making. Below are common weather terms and their meanings.

Sky Condition

Sky condition describes the predominant/average sky condition based upon the amount of sky covered by opaque (not transparent) clouds.

Sky Condition                                                                    Percent of Cloud Cover

Sunny or Clear                                                                   0-5%

Sunny or Mostly Clear                                                    6-25%

Mostly Sunny or Partly Cloudy                                   26-50%

Partly Sunny or Mostly Cloudy                                   51-69%

Mostly Cloudy or Considerable Cloudiness           70-87%

Cloudy or Overcast                                                          88-100%


Wind describes the prevailing direction from which the wind is blowing with speed in miles per hour. The numbers may vary in other parts of the country due to variation in terrain and elevation.

Sustained Wind Speed                                                 Descriptive

0-5 mph                                                                               Light, light and variable or calm

5-20 mph                                                                             None used

15-25 mph                                                                           Breezy

20-30 mph                                                                           Windy

30-40 mph                                                                           Very Windy

40-73 mph                                                                           Strong, dangerous high winds

74 mph or greater                                                            Hurricane force


Forecast temperature describes the forecast maximum and minimum temperatures or in some cases, the temperature expected at a specific time. Temperature is reported in degrees Fahrenheit.

Description Examples                                                    Range

Near 40                                                                                Approaching 40 or a range from 38 to 42

Around 85                                                                           Range of temps from 83 to 87

Lower 50’s                                                                          Temperatures of 50 through 53

Middle 70’s                                                                         Temperatures of 74 through 76

Upper 30’s                                                                          Temperatures of 37 through 39

60’s                                                                                        Temperatures of 60 through 69

Probability of Precipitation (PoP)

Probability of Precipitation (PoP) is the likelihood of measureable precipitation (or water equivalent of frozen) precipitation falling during a specified period in the forecast area. Measureable precipitation is equal to or greater than 0.01 inch (0.2 mm) over a period of 12 hours, unless specified otherwise.

At times, NWS forecasters may use “occasional” or “periods of” to describe a precipitation event that has a high probability of occurrence, i.e., they expect any given location in a forecast area to most likely have precipitation, but it will be of an “on and off” nature.

PoP                                                                                        Percent Expression of Uncertainty

20%                                                                                        Slight chance

30-50%                                                                                 Chance

60-70%                                                                 Likely

80-100%                                                                               Rain/Snow, etc.

Information shared from the NWS website.

How Mold Can Slip Into a Residence Unnoticed

2/20/2018 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation How Mold Can Slip Into a Residence Unnoticed Mold is a time-tested and very hardy organism, and its life cycle and biological abilities allow it to invade homes through even the smallest cracks.

Mold Can Slip Into Your Property Unseen

When mold take root in a home, many owners are left questioning how the infectious organism got into the property in the first place. Mold is a time-tested and very hardy organism, and its life cycle and biological abilities allow it to invade homes through even the smallest cracks or your front door. There is no true way to keep mold out of a home, but keeping away water damage and excess moisture will help to reduce the chance of it beginning to grow. Here are some of the factors that cause mold to grow unexpectedly and everywhere in a residence without you even knowing it.

Mold Grows from Microscopic Spores

The first thing you need to know about the start of your case of mold damage is that the mold started from only one or two tiny, uncontrollable spores. Spores act like seeds, being blown by the wind or carried on a surface to another place, where it may find food sources and water sufficient enough to begin the cycle of growth. There is little you can do to hinder spores from reaching your home, although during a mold remediation project SERVPRO technicians will bring out air filtration devices to take most of the excess spores out of your home’s atmosphere.

Much Like a Plant, Mold Takes Root and Grows

Although all molds are fungi and completely distinct from plant life, their growth cycle often bears a remarkable similarity to some types of vegetation. Mold spores, once they have reached a place with excellent growing conditions (such as your home), will begin to take root and start to grow out and up much like a vine. It will then produce pods of spores, which, once disturbed, will scatter and create new patches of growth.

Mold is Highly Durable

Over time, mold has developed incredibly strong resistances to effects such as temperature, wind, some chemicals, and time. Mold spores can remain for many years in harsh conditions, waiting to find a spot which allows for growth. The parent body of the mold in your home could potentially have died off decades ago.

Trained and equipped for any mold damage which might hit your home, SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa is ready 24/7 to answer your call and respond to a case of mold damage in the local area. Contact us at 785-690-7373.

Fire Facts

2/15/2018 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Fire Facts Don't wait till it's too late!

Home Fires

  • Half of home fire deaths result from fires reported between 11pm and 7am when most people are asleep. 1 in 5 home fires were reported during these hours.
  • One quarter of home fire deaths were caused by fires that started in a bedroom. Another quarter resulted from fires in the living room, family room or den.
  • Three out of five home fire deaths happen from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
  • Home fires kill an average of 8 people every day.
  • Smoking materials are the leading cause of home fire deaths.

 Smoke Alarms

  • 3 out of 5 fire deaths were caused by fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
  • When smoke alarms fail to operate, it is usually because batteries are missing, disconnected, or dead.

Escape Planning

  • Only one-third of Americans have both developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.
  • Almost three-quarters of Americans do have an escape plan; however, more than half never practiced it.
  • One-third have made an estimate thought they would have at least 6 minutes before a fire in their home would become life threatening. The time available is often less. Only 8% said their first thought on hearing a smoke alarm would be to get out!


  • U.S. Fire Departments responded to an estimated annual average of 156,600 cooking-related fires resulting in 400 civilian deaths, 5,080 civilian injuries and $853 million in direct damage.
  • 2 of every 5 home fires started in the kitchen.
  • Unattended cooking was a factor in one-third of reported home cooking fires.
  • Two-thirds of home cooking fires started with ignition of food or other cooking materials.
  • Microwave ovens are one of the leading home products associated with scald burns. 2 out of 5 of the microwave oven injuries seen at emergency room were due to scald burns.
  • Clothing was the item first ignited in less than 1% of home cooking fires, but these incidents accounted for 15% of the cooking fire deaths.
  • 55% of people injured in home fires involving cooking equipment were hurt while attempting to fight the fire themselves.
  • Failure to clean was a factor contributing to ignition in 17% of reported home fires involving ovens or rotisseries.


  • The leading factor contributing to heating equipment fires was failure to clean. This usually involved build up in chimneys.
  • Portable or fixed space heaters, including wood stoves, were involved in one-third of home heating fires, and 4 out of 4 home heating deaths.
  • Just over half of home heating fire deaths resulted from fires caused by heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses or bedding.
  • Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires, fire deaths, and fire injuries.

Smoking Materials

  • Smoking materials started an average of 17,900 smoking-material home structure fires per year.
  • Most deaths in home smoking-material fires were caused by fires that started in bedrooms, living rooms, family rooms or dens.
  • Sleep was a factor in roughly one-third of the home smoking material fire deaths.
  • Possible alcohol impairment was a factor in 1 in 5 of home smoking fire deaths.


  • About half of home electrical fires involved electrical distribution or lighting equipment.       Other leading types of equipment were washer or dryer, fan, portable or stationary space heater, air conditioning equipment, water heater and range.
  • Electrical failure or malfunctions caused an average of 47,800 home fires per year, resulting in an average of 450 deaths and $1.5 billion in direct property damage.


  • Candles caused 3% of home fires, 4% of home fire deaths, 7% of home fire injuries, and 6% of direct property damage from home fires.
  • On average, there are 29 home candle fires reported per day.
  • More than one-third of these fires started in the bedroom.
  • Falling asleep was a factor in 11% of the home candle fires and 37% of the associated deaths.

Six Signs That Your Property May Have Undetected Water Damage

2/13/2018 (Permalink)

Unfortunately, water can flow to any area of your home once a structural defect or natural disaster strikes your property. Water damage can be an expensive and upsetting result of this unwanted water. SERVPRO suggestions, that by reading the following tell-tale signs of water intrusion you may recognize and stymie the onslaught of extensive and expensive water damage to your home.

  1. Unpleasant Smells

When hidden residual water or moisture accumulates on your property, it can initiate the growth of mold and mildew. This will produce an earthy, musty odor which functions as a red flag that unseen water damage is present on your property.

2.  Visual Signs of Mold Growth

Mold spores are microscopic, lying dormant in most home, and will eventually produce mold colonies when provided with moisture. Food sources – cellulose materials and other organics are readily available. When the moisture comes in contact with dormant spores, the active mold growth process will begin. If you note any fuzzy discolorations in isolated corners or voids, and are not sure if mold is growing, you should have these spaces professionally inspected. SERVPRO will visit your property to offer complimentary advice.

3.  Stains on Walls and Ceilings

When water seeps into subflooring and the spaces between the levels of your structure, it will generate water stains as it starts to saturate the adjacent ceiling or wall board. This form of water damage can be a precursor to widening problems.

4.  Peeling Paint or Wall Paper

These can happen to your walls as water wicks and lifts the paint or loosens the paste securing the wallpaper. The water or moisture source should be discovered and repaired immediately.

5.  Sagging Walls and Ceilings

Saturated ceiling materials or drywall can appear to be displaced because of the added weight of water. Once this happens, the structures can start to buckle and deform. When walls and ceilings become soaked with water, they pose a safety hazard from falling. Don’t ignore any tell-tale signs of water absorption into porous drywall.

6.  Floor Effects

Water seeks its lowest level when allowed to flow. The flooring is the usual endpoint as water can collect beneath ceramic or vinyl tile (also damaging subfloor sheathing), carpets and padding. Newly manufactured laminate flooring is particularly susceptible to water damage. If your subfloor becomes completely soaked, restoring rather than replacing the materials, becomes more remote. SERVPRO makes every effort to remove the water and dry out these flooring materials, but often they are non-salvageable and must be safely discarded.

Let Us Help You Now! Call SERVPRO.

When water damage impacts your residential property, it’s time to take action quickly to mitigate losses and save you money. The skilled, IICRC-certified professionals will work to restore your home to its pre-water damaged condition “Like it never even happened.”

We Use Advanced Drying Equipment and Techniques

SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa utilizes advanced equipment and technology to quicken the restoration time and to minimize cost. We proudly serve our neighbors with 24/7 emergency service. Give us a call. 785-690-7373.

How to Shut Off All the Water During Flooding

2/8/2018 (Permalink)

This article gives you instructions to:

  • Shut off the main valve at the water source
  • Shut off water supply valves in all parts of your home
  • Check your water valves and pipes for leaks

When pipes burst, plumbing leaks, or appliances cause a flood, cut off the water at its source IMMEDIATELY. Water damage from frozen pipes, ruptured washer hoses, leaking supply lines and dripping water heaters cost billions every year. Avoid major water damage problems in your house by knowing how to shut off your water.

Take a moment right now to locate all of the shutoff valves in your home so you’ll be prepared for an emergency.

How to Locate the Whole-House Water Shutoff Valve-

The most important point to know in a flooding emergency is your home’s main water valve to shut off water at the source.

This valve is located around waist level or lower, on the inside basement wall, closest to your street or well, where the water comes in from outside the home.

Many water meter setups have two valves, one on the street side of the meter and one on the house side. You’ll typically find the main shutoff in the basement near the front of the house.

If you pipe in water from the city, the water meter is always mounted next to the main, and the valve itself will be large, metal and have a very sturdy handle. In a home with metered water, look for the shutoff on either side of the water meter. Your meter could be located in the basement, mounted on an exterior wall, or even out near the street in a concrete “meter pit” where the household feed line meets the utility main.

For a home served by a well, the shutoff will be on the house side of the pressure tank. You should also cut power to the tank so it doesn’t detect a phantom pressure loss and burn out trying to compensate.

If could be outside your home attached to an exterior wall or in an underground box with a removable lid.

There are two types of main shutoff valves: the gate valve and the ball valve.

The gate valve is common in older homes and has a round handle that must be turned a number of times to open or close the valve. Gate valves are designed to be fully open or fully closed. Water flowing through a partially open gate valve can wear away the metal and cause the valve to fail over time.

The ball valve is more common in newer construction and has a lever handle that needs to be turned 90 degrees to turn the water on or off. You can immediately tell if it’s open or not: in the closed position, the lever is perpendicular to the pipes; in the open position it’s parallel.

If you’ve never shut off the main water valve before, test it to make sure it turned everything off. Turn on a faucet somewhere in the house and shut off the main water valve. All water flow should stop.

An old gate valve can break, so be gentle when you’re handling it, if the valve is stuck, leave it alone. If it leaks or doesn’t shut off all the way, replace the valve. You’ll need to call your water department (and possibly pay a small fee) to have the water to your house turned off at the curb during repairs.

If you have a well, shut off the electrical switch for the well when you leave for an extended period so it won’t pump any water while you’re gone.

Whole-house hot-water shutoff. On your water heater, there should be a valve on the hot-water outlet, which controls all of the hot water to the house. If there isn’t one on yours, you or your plumber should install one.

Toilet shutoff. Look for this inline shutoff – typically a ribbed oval handle – under the toilet tank.

Sink shutoffs. These inline shutoffs usually sit just beneath the sink or within the cabinet or vanity. The one on the left is usually for the hot water, the one on the right for cold water. If could be hidden from view for asthetic reasons in your ceiling or floor, but it will still be right near the sink.

Dishwasher shutoff. Look first under the kitchen sink. Often there’s a reducer coupling and shutoff valve leading to the dishwasher on the 1/2-inch hot water sink-supply line. Not there? If you have a basement, look between the ceiling joists just below the appliance.

Turning off water to the clothes washer. There should be valves where the house-supply lines meet the washer hoses. Washer hoses are notoriously weak, so always close the valves when leaving home for an extended period.

Sump Pump Test

Test your sump pump: Dump water down the sump pit to raise the water level, and make sure the pump is ejecting the water properly.

If you need water damage repair after you shut off the water during a flood or flooding emergency, call a qualified water damage restoration contractor and your insurance carrier.

Hiring Rug Cleaning Services Instead of Attempting DIY

2/6/2018 (Permalink)

Choosing to hire certified rug cleaning services rather than opting to tackle a more DIY approach is the best option for any homeowner. While the process may seem as simple as a good vacuum and spot removal job, those alone will not help in prolonging the life of the rug. Many are instead leaving it up to a technician that has been highly educated and trained through the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification (IICRC) will endure the job is done properly. They have the latest tools and skills to carry out the job with the utmost care and detail.

An increasing number of homeowners are finding themselves with area rugs in one or more rooms of their living space. Typically, they take quite a bit of abuse due to the day-to-day wear and tear done by family, pets, and guests. That heavy foot traffic leaves dirt, dust, odors and stains behind. What started out as a useful, yet decorative piece in a room ends up looking worn, dingy, and full of bothersome allergens. Routine upkeep such as vacuuming and minor stain removal can be done, yet it is imperative to have the piece removed and professionally cleaned on a regular basis. The frequency of this process truly depends on the extent of use the piece has.

Technicians that are IICRC-certified have had the coursework and training necessary to provide superior rug cleaning services. From start to finish they will work tirelessly to restore the piece to its original, vibrant appearance. This attention to detail starts with an initial inspection to establish the type of material that will be dealt with, what debris and allergens are present, and if there is any damage to be addressed. At this time they will be able to give the homeowner an idea of the extent of treatment and time frame required. Typically the piece is removed from the home and brought to the business location, which is fully equipped to complete the job. While the do-it-yourself approach may seem doable to some, a true comprehensive treatment can only be done by those certified to perform these specialized rug cleaning services. It is important for homeowners to do a little investigating prior to choosing the firm to entrust with the job. Personal and online recommendations are a great starting point, as is the IICRC’s own website. They provide a database of certified firms that are current on their training and continue to follow the industry standards.

For most, this type of floor covering was an investment in the home’s warmth and overall décor. While it is there to be walked upon, it is also important to protect and maintain it regularly.

Why should you choose SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa?

Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration. From initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO’s corporate training facility to regular IICRC-industry certification, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property.

We live and work in this community too, we might even be neighbors. As a locally owned and operated business, SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa is close by and ready to respond. We are proud to be an active member of the Douglas County, KS community and want to do our part to make our community the best it can be.

Give us a call today for an estimate on cleaning your rugs. 785-690-7373.

Biohazard, Crime Scene, and Vandalism Cleanup

2/1/2018 (Permalink)

Recognized as a leading fire and water cleanup and restoration provider by hundreds of insurance companies, SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa offers fast, reliable biohazard and crime scene cleanup and restoration services to residential and commercial property owners.

Exposure to biological and chemical contaminants can pose serious health consequences for building occupants, employees, customers and owners. A failure to properly handle and safely remove such hazardous substances can contribute to unhealthy and even dangerous environments.

SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa is trained to safely and effectively remove bio hazardous substances and prepare waste for proper disposal according to OSHA, EPA and state and local health regulations.

Equipped with the necessary safety equipment and cleaning products, SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa can help turn unsafe environments into clean, safe homes and offices. SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa can help with the following issues:

  • Blood borne Pathogens
  • Crime Scene Residues
  • Arson
  • Vandalism
  • Sewage Backup
  • Black Water Intrusions
  • Mold Mitigation and Remediation

Blood Borne Pathogens

We remove and dispose of bodily fluids, tissue, and other potentially pathogenic substances resulting from accident, trauma, crime, or death. Trained SERVPRO Technicians thoroughly clean, disinfect, and deodorize the structure.

Crime Scene Residues

From fingerprint powder and evidence gathering chemicals to tear gas and pepper spray residues. SERVPRO can clean and restore your property and contents.

Arson and Vandalism

SERVPRO Professionals are recognized as leaders at helping property owners remover quickly from fire and water damage. Your local Franchise Professional also provides general cleaning and deodorization services for situations resulting from vandalism including graffiti, egg, spoiled foods, and human or animal waste.

Contact SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa today for 24-hour emergency services. 785-690-7373.

Commercial Bio-Hazard Cleanup

1/30/2018 (Permalink)

At SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa, we understand that any type of exposure to biological and chemical contaminants can pose some serious health threats and consequences. In a commercial setting, any type of sewage backup, blood cleanup or even chemical spill, can place YOU and all of the inhabitants of the area at risk. Upon recognizing the situation, your primary focus should be safety. After the area has been critically assessed, you should be well versed in the do’s and don’ts after a contamination.

What to Do After a Contamination

  • Stay out of the affected areas.
  • Call emergency service personnel if the situation is life-threatening.
  • Treat ALL bodily fluids as if they are contaminated.
  • Turn off the HVAC system if there is sewage damage.

What NOT to Do After a Contamination

  • 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.

Situations that contain any bio-hazardous material or spills, should not be handled lightly. At SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa, we care about our local community, as well as all of those that live in the area. If you have any questions, or would like to contact one of our professionals, please call 785-690-7373.