Recent Posts

The dangers of a lightning strike

7/17/2018 (Permalink)

Storm Damage The dangers of a lightning strike Spectacular picture of lightning lighting up the sky

Lightning is not only spectacular, it’s dangerous. About 2,000 people are killed worldwide by lightning each year. Hundreds more survive strikes but suffer from a variety of lasting symptoms, including memory loss, dizziness, weakness, numbness, and other life-altering ailments. Strikes can cause cardiac arrest and severe burns, but 9 of every 10 people survive. The average American has about a 1 in 5,000 chance of being struck by lightning during a lifetime.

Lightning's extreme heat will vaporize the water inside a tree, creating steam that may blow the tree apart. Cars are havens from lightning—but not for the reason that most believe. Tires conduct current, as do metal frames that carry a charge harmlessly to the ground.

Many houses are grounded by rods and other protection that conduct a lightning bolts electricity harmlessly to the ground. Homes may also be inadvertently grounded by plumbing, gutters, or other materials. Grounded buildings offer protection, but occupants who touch running water or use a landline phone may be shocked by conducted electricity.

If your home or business is struck by lightning, please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378

The most common causes of fire in the workplace

7/17/2018 (Permalink)

Fire Damage The most common causes of fire in the workplace Commercial Building on fire

Most Common Causes of Fire in the Workplace

 Electrical Fires

 Over 25% of all fires are linked to a malfunction of either a piece of electrical equipment, wiring, or both. Electricity is a common source of ignition for major fires. One way to avoid problems with electrical fires is to establish an electrical safety program.

 All employees should be thoroughly familiar with the safety procedures for their particular jobs. To maximize his or her own safety, an employee should always use tools and equipment properly. Extension cords must be inspected before use, and those found questionable, removed from service and properly tagged. Damage or inadequate maintenance can cause equipment to deteriorate, resulting in unsafe conditions.

Flammable and Combustible Materials

 There are thousands of chemicals in use in the modern American workplace. One of the most prevalent dangers of these chemicals is their flammability or combustibility. Improper handling of flammable materials brings a great risk of fire. When a flammable liquid is spilled, vapors begin to form immediately. It is the vapors that will ignite, and which pose the greater danger.

 Flammable liquid spill cleanup should begin immediately. Vapors will continue to build until the liquid is removed, and they can be ignited by a variety of sources in the average workplace. The best way to avoid fire caused by these materials is to follow all OSHA guidelines when dealing with flammables.

Human Error

 The most common reason for a sprinkler system failure is human error. Often times the water supply was turned off at the time of the fire. The success of fire prevention strategies depends primarily on pre-planning, preparation, equipment quality, and the readiness of personnel. Employees and loss prevention practitioners must be knowledgeable about the proper use of extinguishers. If the wrong extinguisher is used, a fire may become more serious.

General Negligence

 Negligence is another common cause of fire in the workplace. It’s slightly different from fires caused by human error. Negligence occurs when an employee does not follow established procedures and knowingly undertakes an activity that is a potential fire hazard.

Fire caused by negligence can be the result of:

  • Hot surfaces too close to heating equipment
  • Open flame that’s not properly located or protected
  •  Not following smoking restrictions or careless disposal of butts, ashes, and matches

Good common sense, self awareness, and close adherence to policy are a great way to avoid fires caused by general negligence. Posting fire safety signs in common areas is another way to keep fire safety at top of mind.

 Arson

The premise behind arson prevention, like other prevention programs, is to address the opportunity to commit the crime. Arsonists, like other criminals, typically prefer to start fires in locations that are secluded or hidden. Prevention programs often suggest improving the surveillance in these areas by lighting the area, removing visual obstructions to natural observation, and moving the targets such as dumpsters.

 Prevent the Common Causes of Fire in the Workplace

 Fire prevention should be considered part of everyone’s job. Employees must help to keep the work area clutter-free and safe from fire hazards. Also, make sure extreme care is taken when working with chemicals such as flammable solvents, gasoline, gases, and fuels. Of course, the best prevention for fire is education and proper training.

If your company, please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378 to assist you with the cleanup.

It's Hurricane Season

7/16/2018 (Permalink)

Storm Damage It's Hurricane Season Satellite photo of a hurricane

As the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season begins, scientists are worried that U.S. coastal communities could face more super storms with winds, storm surges and rainfall so intense that current warning categories don't fully capture the threat.

This year's forecast is about average and much more subdued than last summer's hyperactive season turned out to be, partly due to cooler ocean temperatures in the tropical Atlantic, as well as a nascent El Niño pattern. But that doesn't mean an individual storm won't blow up to exceptional strength, as Andrew did before striking Florida in 1992, an otherwise relatively quiet year.

 Heat trapped by the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is raising the chances of that happening, said Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann. 

A new review of global data on hurricanes shows that since 1980, the number of storms with winds stronger than 200 kilometers per hour (124 mph, or a strong Category 3) have doubled, and those with winds stronger than 250 kilometers per hour (155 mph) have tripled.

If a storm hits your area, please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378 to assist you with the cleanup.

Causes of Sewage backups in basements

7/16/2018 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Causes of Sewage backups in basements Diagram of a sewage system

Heavy rains that occurred in the Cambridge/Belmont area caused not only flooding but also many sewage backups. The town & cities sewage system gets overwhelmed causing the sewage to flow into basements through toilets and sinks. When a storm drain suffers a partial or complete blockage, rain water gets trapped in the pipes and must go somewhere. Unfortunately, the only exit point is the pipe servicing your home that connects to the sewer line. With nowhere left to go it goes up through your pipe, pushing whatever refuse and filth it’s carrying into your basement and other areas of your home. Contact your local plumber to install a backwater valve to prevent this from happening to you! If your basement gets flooded or has sewage issues, please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378 to assist you. Did you know that SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont also helps Commercial and Industrial customers?

PPE should be worn during cleanup of animal droppings

7/16/2018 (Permalink)

Biohazard PPE should be worn during cleanup of animal droppings Tech with full PPE

Histoplasmosis is an infection caused by breathing in spores of a fungus often found in bird and bat droppings. Histoplasmosis is most commonly transmitted when these spores become airborne, often during cleanup or demolition projects.

Soil contaminated by bird or bat droppings also can transmit histoplasmosis, so farmers and landscapers are at a higher risk of contracting the disease. In the United States, histoplasmosis commonly occurs in the Mississippi and Ohio river valleys, though it can occur in other areas, too.

 

Most people with histoplasmosis never develop symptoms and aren't aware they're infected. But for some people — primarily infants and those with compromised immune systems — histoplasmosis can be serious. Effective treatments are available for even the most severe forms of histoplasmosis.

 

Symptoms

Several types of histoplasmosis exist. The mildest form produces no signs or symptoms, but severe infections can be life-threatening. When signs and symptoms do occur, they usually appear three to 17 days after exposure and may include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Dry cough
  • Chest discomfort

In some people, histoplasmosis can also produce joint pain and a rash. People who have an underlying lung disease, such as emphysema, may develop a chronic form of histoplasmosis.

Signs of chronic histoplasmosis may include weight loss and a cough that brings up blood. The symptoms of chronic histoplasmosis sometimes can mimic those of tuberculosis.

Severe histoplasmosis

The most severe variety of histoplasmosis occurs primarily in infants and in people with compromised immune systems. Called disseminated histoplasmosis, this variety can affect nearly any part of your body, including your mouth, liver, central nervous system, skin and adrenal glands. If untreated, disseminated histoplasmosis is usually fatal.

When to see a doctor

Contact your doctor if you develop flu-like symptoms after being exposed to bird or bat droppings — especially if you have a weakened immune system.

Request an Appointment at Mayo Clinic

Causes

Histoplasmosis is caused by the reproductive cells (spores) of the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum. The spores are extremely light and float into the air when dirt or other contaminated material is disturbed.

Even if you've had histoplasmosis in the past, you can still get the infection again. However, if you contract histoplasmosis again, the illness will likely be milder than the initial infection.

The histoplasmosis fungus thrives in damp soil that's rich in organic material, especially the droppings from birds and bats. For that reason, it's particularly common in chicken and pigeon coops, old barns, caves and parks. Histoplasmosis isn't contagious, so it can't be spread from person to person.

Risk factors

The chances of developing histoplasmosis symptoms increase with the number of spores you inhale. Professions with a higher likelihood of spore exposure include:

  • Farmers
  • Pest control workers
  • Poultry keepers
  • Construction workers
  • Roofers
  • Landscapers and gardeners
  • Cave explorers

Most at risk of severe infection

Children younger than age 2 and adults age 55 and older have weaker immune systems, so they're more likely to develop disseminated histoplasmosis — the most serious form of the disease. Other factors that can weaken your immune system include:

  • HIV or AIDS
  • Intensive cancer chemotherapy
  • Corticosteroid drugs, such as prednisone
  • Tumor necrosis factor inhibitors, often used to control rheumatoid arthritis
  • Medications that prevent rejection of organ transplants

Complications

Histoplasmosis can cause a number of serious complications, even in otherwise healthy people. For infants, older adults and people with compromised immune systems, the potential problems are often life-threatening. Complications can include:

  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Histoplasmosis can damage lungs to the point that the air sacs begin filling with fluid. This prevents efficient air exchange and can deplete oxygen levels in the blood.
  • Heart problems. Inflammation of the pericardium, the sac that surrounds your heart, is called pericarditis. When the fluid in this sac increases, it can interfere with the heart's ability to pump blood efficiently.
  • Adrenal insufficiency. Histoplasmosis can harm your adrenal glands, which produce hormones that give instructions to virtually every organ and tissue in your body.
  • Meningitis. In some cases, histoplasmosis can cause meningitis, an infection and inflammation of the membranes surrounding your brain and spinal cord.

Prevention

It's difficult to prevent exposure to the fungus that causes histoplasmosis, especially in areas where the disease is widespread. Even so, these steps may help reduce the risk of infection:

  • Avoid exposure. Avoid projects and activities that might expose you to the fungus, such as cave exploring and raising birds, such as pigeons or chickens.
  • Spray contaminated surfaces. Before you dig soil or work in an area that could harbor the fungus that causes histoplasmosis, spray it thoroughly with water. This can help prevent spores from being released into the air. Spraying chicken coops and barns before cleaning them also can reduce your risk.
  • Use an effective face mask. Wear a respirator mask. Consult the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to determine which type of mask will provide adequate protection for your level of exposure.

Basement Cleanup Time

7/16/2018 (Permalink)

General Basement Cleanup Time Basement before SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont's Cleanup services

We know that cleaning out the junk in your basement can feel overwhelming. It is tough to know where to start. We can help you make the process easy and stress free. Call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378 to help organize, sort and remove unwanted items in your basement.

SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont can handle all of your basement cleaning services. Whether your basement looks and feels like  storage unit for all your junk from over the years, or you are doing some cleaning and clearing out to make room to finish your basement.

SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont will

  • Remove all the junk from your basement
  • Clean everything, and leave no junk behind
  • Rearrange items in your garage (at your request)
  • Create as much possible space for your basement
  • Dispose of all your basement junk responsibly
  • Recycle and donate whatever we can

Air Conditioning system maintenance

7/16/2018 (Permalink)

General Air Conditioning system maintenance AC Unit

As facility-maintenance professionals prepare for summer, it is important they make sure evaporator-coil cleaning and maintenance is on their to-do list states Sergio Rodriguez from SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont.

“Not only do you want to make sure your HVAC system is running properly, but uncleaned coils can shorten the life of your equipment and force your system to work harder than it should,” Sergio said, “Dirty coils can drastically increase the cost of running your HVAC, but one of the quickest and safest ways to maintain your system is through a comprehensive coil-cleaning program.”

Citing a Southern California Edison report, Rodriguez says that while uncleaned evaporator coils decreased energy efficiency by 35 percent, dirty condenser coils caused energy efficiency to drop 60 percent, meaning much more power and money was required to cool at the same rate as a system with clean coils.

Additionally, Rodriguez says, dirty evaporator coils can become a breeding ground for mold and bacteria as airborne contaminants are filtered through the system, negatively impacting indoor-air quality.

SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont recently released a checklist for effectively cleaning coils:

  • Obtain the best possible access. Cleaning coils works best when a maintenance technician can get the cleaning wand close to the areas that need to be cleaned. Consider using flexible wands if access is difficult.
  • Vacuum coils and fins. Before cleaning, remove dry debris from coils with a vacuum that can reach dust and dirt in tight spaces. Other options include using compressed air.
  • Clear blockages. Condensate pans and lines need to be free of blockages before wet cleaning can begin, as any obstructions can cause major damage from flooding and because of HVAC-system condensate. Consider a wet/dry vacuum to remove any debris prior to cleaning.
  • Use a wet cleaning process. Pressurized water forces deeply embedded dirt and debris to come loose, vastly improving the cleaning process.
  • Use a powerful-yet-delicate cleaning system. High-pressure equipment can damage fins, especially on evaporator coils. The ideal system should deliver 125 to 200 psi and up to a half-gallon of flow per minute.
  • Apply an alkaline non-caustic cleaning foam. Use of a non-caustic cleaner helps to protect coils from corrosion.
  • Apply a mold-control agent. Adding a mold inhibitor that is U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-registered and approved for use in occupied spaces can help to keep coils clean and free of odor and allergy-causing mold and mildew.
  • If you need Your Air Conditioning unit checked out, please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378

Air Conditioning system maintenance

7/16/2018 (Permalink)

General Air Conditioning system maintenance AC Unit

As facility-maintenance professionals prepare for summer, it is important they make sure evaporator-coil cleaning and maintenance is on their to-do list states Sergio Rodriguez from SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont.

“Not only do you want to make sure your HVAC system is running properly, but uncleaned coils can shorten the life of your equipment and force your system to work harder than it should,” Sergio said, “Dirty coils can drastically increase the cost of running your HVAC, but one of the quickest and safest ways to maintain your system is through a comprehensive coil-cleaning program.”

Citing a Southern California Edison report, Rodriguez says that while uncleaned evaporator coils decreased energy efficiency by 35 percent, dirty condenser coils caused energy efficiency to drop 60 percent, meaning much more power and money was required to cool at the same rate as a system with clean coils.

Additionally, Rodriguez says, dirty evaporator coils can become a breeding ground for mold and bacteria as airborne contaminants are filtered through the system, negatively impacting indoor-air quality.

SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont recently released a checklist for effectively cleaning coils:

  • Obtain the best possible access. Cleaning coils works best when a maintenance technician can get the cleaning wand close to the areas that need to be cleaned. Consider using flexible wands if access is difficult.
  • Vacuum coils and fins. Before cleaning, remove dry debris from coils with a vacuum that can reach dust and dirt in tight spaces. Other options include using compressed air.
  • Clear blockages. Condensate pans and lines need to be free of blockages before wet cleaning can begin, as any obstructions can cause major damage from flooding and because of HVAC-system condensate. Consider a wet/dry vacuum to remove any debris prior to cleaning.
  • Use a wet cleaning process. Pressurized water forces deeply embedded dirt and debris to come loose, vastly improving the cleaning process.
  • Use a powerful-yet-delicate cleaning system. High-pressure equipment can damage fins, especially on evaporator coils. The ideal system should deliver 125 to 200 psi and up to a half-gallon of flow per minute.
  • Apply an alkaline non-caustic cleaning foam. Use of a non-caustic cleaner helps to protect coils from corrosion.
  • Apply a mold-control agent. Adding a mold inhibitor that is U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-registered and approved for use in occupied spaces can help to keep coils clean and free of odor and allergy-causing mold and mildew.
  • If you need Your Air Conditioning unit checked out, please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378

Mold Facts

7/12/2018 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation Mold Facts Mold on backside of shhetrock

Microscopic mold spores naturally occur almost everywhere, both outdoors and indoors. This makes it impossible to remove mold from a home or business. Therefore, mold remediation reduces the mold spore count back to its natural or baseline level. Some restoration businesses advertise “mold removal” and even guarantee to completely eradicate mold forever, which is a fallacy. Consider the following mold facts:

  • Mold is present almost everywhere, indoors and outdoors.
  • Mold spores are microscopic and float along in the air and may enter your home through windows, doors, or AC/heating systems or even hitch a ride indoors on your clothing or a pet.
  • Mold spores thrive on moisture. Mold spores can quickly grow into colonies when exposed to water. These colonies may produce allergens and irritants.
  • Before mold remediation can begin, any sources of water or moisture must be addressed. Otherwise, the mold may return.
  • Mold often produces a strong, musty odor and can lead you to possible mold problem areas.
  • Even higher-than-normal indoor humidity can support mold growth. Keep indoor humidity below 45 percent.

 If you think you have mold, please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378 to assess your situation.

Common causes of mold

7/5/2018 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation Common causes of mold Active mold growth in the basement

One of the rooms in the house where you'll most often see mold is the basement.

 This Blog informs you about the most common causes and the signs of mold in the basement. It also lets you know how to find mold growth in the basement and to prevent mold from growing in the basement.

Causes of Mold in Basement

There are many sources of moisture found in the basement. And any water problem in the basement usually takes a long time to dry out. This is because the basement gets no sunlight, very little ventilation and is often humid.

 To make matters worse, once mold has begun to grow in the basement it will probably go unnoticed for a long time since people don't spend much time in their basements. People rarely clean their basements too and the dust and dirt helps mold to grow.

Mold loves to grow on some of the building materials in the basement. Some favorites are drywall, wood and insulation.

Mold and Flooding

Mold from Basement Leaks

Leaking pipes in the basement or in nearby rooms lead to basement mold growth. Water in the ground can also find its way into the basement through cracks in the walls.

Basement Humidity and Mold

Once water in the basement evaporates it raises the humidity level in the basement. The humidity then usually stays high thanks to poor ventilation and no sunlight. Some molds can begin to grow in the basement just from this high level of humidity.

Signs of Mold in Basement

One of the clearest signs that you have mold in your basement is the smell. Because of the stagnant air in the basement, odors build up and become very noticeable. Don't ignore a musty or moldy smell in the basement as it probably means you have a basement mold problem.

If you need help with mold, please contact SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378