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Tips to prevent damage to your home

2/20/2020 (Permalink)

Green SERVPRO truck with hoses coming out the back door SERVPRO crew extracting water
  1. Disconnect hoses

Standing water in a hose may freeze back into the pipe. This may create an ice block that stops your water flow. The block may may burst your pipes and create damage to walls, floor and foundation.

  1. Clean gutters and downspouts

Clean your gutters at least twice a year to avoid blockage and ice dams. Standing water can cause damage to your gutters and roof, and unmanaged overflow may create puddles that could damage your foundation.

Don't forget to clean downspouts to ensure water can flow through, and secure downspouts so that they point away from the home.

  1. Maintain trees and vegetation

Thriving shrubs can be a beautiful thing — except when their roots wrap around your pipes and break them. That's why it's important to minimize landscaping near utility pipes or, if necessary, remove trees and shrubs that have become too big.

Interior Measures to Prevent Water Damage

  1. Know your water main

Know the location of your water main, and shut it off if you leave for an extended amount of time. If no water goes in to the house, chances are no faucet drips can wreak havoc on your home while you're away.

  1. Check appliances regularly

Check and maintain your home appliances regularly for leaks, according to manufacturer's directions. 

  1. Investigate leaks right away and fix promptly

If you opt to ignore moisture damage or postpone making the necessary repairs, be prepared to experience mold, mildew, dry rot, or even structural damage to your home.

Keep in mind that homeowner's insurance provides coverage for damage that is sudden and accidental. Damage that results from lack of maintenance is not covered on a standard homeowner’s insurance policy.

If it's too late and you're already dealing with a wet disaster, check out advice on how to minimize water damage in your home.

  1. Upgrade washing machine hoses

Old, brittle or leaky washing machine hoses are among the most frequent causes of water loss for homeowners. Replace yours regularly to avoid a mighty mess and expensive damage.

  1. Install water detection devices

A water detector is a small electronic device that sounds an alarm when its sensor comes in contact with moisture. Its main benefit is that it detects low moisture levels or slow leaks that often go unnoticed. Install it near water heaters, sump pumps, washing machines, dishwashers and toilets to prevent extensive damage and mold growth.

  1. Check your water pressure

If the water pressure to your home is set too high, pipes and hoses may fail under the pressure. Buy a water pressure gauge at a local hardware store, attach it to an outside faucet, and turn the faucet to full force. The gauge will give you a reading of the home’s water pressure.

Typical residential water systems are designed for water pressure of 40 to 70 psi. If your home’s water pressure exceeds 100 psi, install a pressure regulator (which is available at hardware stores as well.) 

  1. Monitor your water bill 

Sometimes, the only way you know that water is leaking is taking a closer look at your water bill. If your usage jumps significantly from one month to the next without explanation, put your "water detective hat" on. Is there a leak in your crawlspace? Or, is it a pipe in your front yard? Don't leave mystery leaks unattended!

If you have had water damage to your home please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378

Do I need flood insurance?

2/18/2020 (Permalink)

Red car driving through large amount of water Heavy rain can flood low lying areas very quickly

The fact is – any property can flood. Your home doesn’t have to be less than five feet of water from hurricane flood surges to suffer flood damage. Normal amounts of rainwater can drain under your home, and flood your basement or the lowest floor level, causing flood damage. This kind of flooding can cause mold, increase the risk of termites and cause electrical problems.

More than 75% of homeowners devastated by flooding unfortunately discover they should have had flood insurance. The sad thing, experts say, is that flood insurance is not that expensive – typically $450 to $600 a year for the average home. When you weigh the cost of flood insurance against replacing your entire home $100,000 to $500,000, it only makes sense to buy it, whether you believe you’ll need it or not. “People may say things like, ‘I live on a hill, and I don’t need flood insurance’.

Common reasons people give for not buying flood insurance include:

  • “I’m not in a flood zone.”
  • “I’m not anywhere near water.”
  • “I’ll never need it, it's money wasted.”
  • “My homeowner’s insurance will cover it.”
  • “It’s not available.”
  • “My realtor told me the property would never flood.”

If your home or business has been flooded, please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378

Did you know there are different types of lightning?

2/13/2020 (Permalink)

Picture of bright lightning lighting up the night sky over a mountain Lightning over the night sky

Lightning is an electrical discharge caused by imbalances between storm clouds and the ground, or within the clouds themselves. Most lightning occurs within the clouds.

"Sheet lightning" describes a distant bolt that lights up an entire cloud base. Other visible bolts may appear as bead, ribbon, or rocket lightning. During a storm, colliding particles of rain, ice, or snow inside storm clouds increase the imbalance between storm clouds and the ground, and often negatively charge the lower reaches of storm clouds. Objects on the ground, like steeples, trees, and the Earth itself, become positively charged—creating an imbalance that nature seeks to remedy by passing current between the two charges.

Lightning is extremely hot—a flash can heat the air around it to temperatures five times hotter than the sun’s surface. This heat causes surrounding air to rapidly expand and vibrate, which creates the pealing thunder we hear a short time after seeing a lightning flash.

Types of Lightning

Cloud-to-ground lightning bolts are a common phenomenon—about 100 strike Earth’s surface every single second—yet their power is extraordinary. Each bolt can contain up to one billion volts of electricity.

A typical cloud-to-ground lightning bolt begins when a step-like series of negative charges, called a stepped leader, races downward from the bottom of a storm cloud toward the Earth along a channel at about 200,000 mph (300,000 kph). Each of these segments is about 150 feet (46 meters) long.

When the lowermost step comes within 150 feet (46 meters) of a positively charged object, it is met by a climbing surge of positive electricity, called a streamer, which can rise up through a building, a tree, or even a person.

When the two connect, electrical current flows as negative charges fly down the channel towards earth and a visible flash of lightning streaks upward at some 200,000,000 mph (300,000,000 kph), transferring electricity as lightning in the process.

Some types of lightning, including the most common types, never leave the clouds but travel between differently charged areas within or between clouds. Other rare forms can be sparked by extreme forest fires, volcanic eruptions, and snowstorms. Ball lightning, a small, charged sphere that floats, glows, and bounces along oblivious to the laws of gravity or physics, still puzzles scientists.

About one to 20 cloud-to-ground lightning bolts is "positive lightning," a type that originates in the positively charged tops of storm clouds. These strikes reverse the charge flow of typical lightning bolts and are far stronger and more destructive. Positive lightning can stretch across the sky and strike "out of the blue" more than 10 miles from the storm cloud where it was born.

If you have water or fire damage, please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378

Be careful when lifting objects

2/11/2020 (Permalink)

Picture of man grimacing as he is holding his back Proper lifting will reduce back injuries

It can be very tempting and almost feel more natural to bend from your back to lift an object off of the ground. However, lifting with your back can be extremely harmful to your body. The best way to lift heavy objects is by bending from the knees and using your leg muscles to lift.

Helpful tips: Before you lift, make sure there is a clear path to where you are going to move the object to. It is important to position your body close to the object you are trying to pick up with your feet shoulder-length apart on a stable surface. Next, it is crucial to get a good grip on the object you are trying to lift. When ready, begin to stand up and use the muscles from your legs to lift the object. Be sure not to twist from side to side or move too fast. Always try to keep the object as close to your body as possible to help prevent an injury while lifting.

Know your limit: If the object is too heavy to lift on your own, use lift assist equipment such as a dolly or forklift, or ask a friend for help lifting the object.

Did you know? According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 20 percent of all workplace injuries and illnesses are made up of back injuries. This means that over one million work-related back injuries are reported each year. These back injuries may include strains, sprains, and herniated disks, which may be prevented by practicing safe lifting habits. The majority of cases were caused by the worker lifting and twisting from side to side at the same time. If the worker had practiced safe lifting habits, their injury may have been prevented.

How employers can help? Employers can hold a safety meeting to train their employees how to lift properly. Employees can also take notice and offer help to a coworker in need of assistance.

If you have water or fire damage, please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378

Develop a relationship with a plumber

2/6/2020 (Permalink)

Picture of old copper pipes that need replacement Better call your plumber

We depend on our plumbing each and every day, from the hot water in your shower to the water boiling on your stove. As such, it’s important to maintain your plumbing regularly to make sure there aren’t any major issues such as leaks or sewage backups. But plumbing problems can still occur with regular maintenance, so it’s good to be aware of common plumbing issues and what you can do to solve them or minimize damage to your home.

Low Water Pressure:

Proper water pressure is necessary for washing your hands, cleaning dishes, and taking a shower. If you’ve noticed a significant drop in your home’s water pressure, you probably have a clogged pipe. It’s also possible that you need to fully open your shutoff valve. If you’re only having water pressure issues with one faucet, the solution may be as simple as cleaning the aerator or removing a nearby clog.

Dripping Faucet:

Depending on the severity of the drip, a dripping faucet can raise your water bill and waste a significant amount of water—not to mention how annoying it can be. Luckily, fixing a dripping faucet is usually as simple as replacing seats and springs or a washer in the faucet.

Running Toilet:

It happens so frequently: minutes after flushing your toilet, you can still hear the toilet running as if the bowl is filling with water. This is an incredibly annoying problem to have, but usually, an easy one to fix. Remove the lid from your toilet tank and make sure that your tank ball, flapper valve, and flush valve are working properly—if any of them are sticking or not functioning right, they’re easy to replace.

Clogged Drain:

Clogged or slow drains are probably the most common plumbing problem. Plumbing pipes are designed to allow water and waste to flow through freely, but over time, built up hair, soap scum and other debris can form a clog in your drain that prevents water from passing. This is almost sure to happen in any home given enough time. You can use vinegar and baking soda to break up clogs in your sink, or you can buy a drain auger and remove the clog manually.

Sometimes the clog may be deeper in your pipes or too severe to easily remove, look into professional plumbing services; they have the equipment and expertise to clear clogged drains without causing damage to your plumbing. If you have sewage damage as a result of a clogged drain or other plumbing issues, please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378

Leaking Pipes:

Leaks aren’t just an annoyance; they can significantly increase your water bill and quickly cause damage to your home. If you have a leaking pipe that’s beyond a slow drip, shut your water off as soon as possible. If there is any chance of mold or structural damage to your home, call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378 to avoid spending a fortune on repairs. Leaking pipes generally need to be replaced, but you can use marine tape or epoxy to cover small leaks temporarily—just remember to shut the water off first.

No Hot Water:

Have you ever rolled out of bed and into the shower only to find there’s no hot water? It’s not a good experience. Chances are you’ve got something wrong with your water heater, most probably an electrical problem such as a thermostat or element. If you’re not comfortable troubleshooting your water heater, it’s a good idea to get help from a trained, knowledgeable professional.

Plumbing truly is an essential part of our everyday lives. We can’t all be professional plumbers, but with a little bit of research and hard work, you can stay cool, calm and collected in the face of a plumbing emergency

 If you have water damage as a result of any of these or other plumbing issues, please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378

SERVPRO to the rescue

1/30/2020 (Permalink)

worker with a carpet wand and hoses extracting water from the carpet SERVPRO technician extracting water from a wet carpet

This past weekend a pipe broke in the middle of the night causing water to pour into the 2 retail businesses. At 5:30 Am the commercial property owner was notified and he immediately called SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont.  SERVPRO’s crew arrived and immediately began to extract the water. The business owner was hoping to be open for business at his usual 9:30 AM opening time. Additional crews were dispatched to take care of the 2 other business affected.  The crews worked feverishly to ensure that both businesses could open at their usual time.  The SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont project manager using a moisture detector and infrared camera created a moisture map to determine all affected floors, walls and ceilings. The project managed related this information to the crews so that they could strategically place the necessary drying equipment. The equipment was set up and the businesses were open at their usual time. If your home or business has undergone water damage, please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378 to assist you.

Don't ignore small water leaks

1/28/2020 (Permalink)

Picture of brown stains from a drip in a kitchen cabinet Leaky pipe causing staining under the kitchen sink

Whether it's behind the washer, above the ceiling or under the sink, a little drip can lead to big trouble. Water damage happens quickly and can be expensive to fix. Ignore a leak, and you not only could you have a mighty mess on your hands, but your home insurance probably won't bail you out. "What's really important to know for leaks is when did the insured notice it and take action," Says Michael Pridham from SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont

"People now build houses to be airtight," says Raffi Yardemian, owner of SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont, a property-damage restoration service. "Houses are wrapped in plastic like Saran Wrap. That's good for energy conservation, but if water gets on the wrong side of that plastic, then mold will follow, as certainly as night follows day." Yardemian observes that damage often occurs after people get security systems installed. Holes are drilled into airtight window frames for wires to run through them, but they aren't properly caulked and sealed, allowing water to slowly seep in over time. "You notice that maybe the wall below the window is looking funny, and by that time the framing behind it is rotted out," he says. If the homeowner reports the problem right away, it would likely be covered by home insurance.

Today's houses also have more bathrooms, and the washing machine is often located next to the master bedroom on an upper floor for convenience, Yardemian notes. "That means you've got more pipes, and if the washing machine leaks, it can affect the third floor, the second floor, the first floor and even down to the basement," he says. For water damage from leaky appliances or pipes, the damage must be "sudden and accidental" in order to be covered by insurance - such as a pipe that bursts while you're washing clothes.

But what about a slow leak you can't see? Say, for instance, a pipe behind a wall leaks, and you don't notice it until water starts seeping through the wall. Are you covered? Most likely the answer is yes, as long as you take action as soon as there is evidence of the leak, Yardemian says. "Nobody expects you to tear out your drywall now and again to check the pipes. Call the professionals at SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378. They will send out a crew to test the walls using moisture detectors and an infrared camera.

Insurance companies understand it's impossible to know you have a hidden leak until the damage becomes apparent. The same goes for leaks behind and under appliances, or above a ceiling. If you can't see the leak, you can still make an insurance claim as long as you report it when it becomes apparent. Don't expect much sympathy if you ignore the wet spot in your ceiling, only to report it when the problem gets worse. The insurance adjuster probably will be able to tell if the damage is fresh.

"If the insured had a leak in the roof and had a pot under it for six months, then that damage is not covered," Yardemian of SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont says. "Insurance Professionals are pretty good at seeing whether a wet spot has been there for a while. Sometimes they have engineers go out to look." When it comes to insurance coverage, everything depends on the language in your policy. Although most policies cover damage from leaks as long as you responded quickly, language among policies differs. Keep in mind, though, that while home insurance may cover the water damage to the ceiling, floor, walls or furniture, it won't pay for replacing the worn-out pipe or the leaky roof (unless the roof was damaged by a covered peril, such as hail or a fallen tree).

If you think you have a leak, call the professionals at SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378

An Ozone Machine is an effective tool to deodorize contents after a fire

1/23/2020 (Permalink)

The Green Ozone machine resting on top of a blue ladder An ozone machine deodorizing contents in an ozone chamber

The contents of a house that have had a fire usually need to be deodorized to eliminate lingering odors. SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont uses an ozone machine to eliminate these odors. Ozone, (O3), sometimes called "activated oxygen", contains three atoms of oxygen rather than the two atoms we normally breathe. Ozone is the second most powerful sterilizer in the world and can be used to destroy bacteria, viruses and odors. Interestingly ozone occurs quite readily in nature, most often as a result of lightning strikes that occur during thunderstorms. In fact the "fresh, clean, spring rain" smells that we notice after a storm most often results from nature's creation of ozone. However, we are probably most familiar with ozone from reading about the "ozone layer" that circles the planet above the earth's atmosphere. Here ozone is created by the sun's ultra-violet rays. This serves to protect us from the ultra-violet radiation.

How does ozone work?

The third oxygen atom of ozone makes it extremely reactive. This atom readily attaches itself to other odor molecules. When contaminants such as odors, bacteria or viruses make contact with ozone, their chemical structure is changed to less odorous compounds. As more ozone attacks the remaining compounds, the odor is eventually destroyed. This process is called oxidation. Ozone essentially reverts back to oxygen after it is used. This makes it a very environmentally friendly oxidant.

If your home or business has had a fire, please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378 to assist you.

Ladder Safety Tips

1/22/2020 (Permalink)

Worker with a hardhat climbing a ladder to the roof Worker using a ladder correctly

Take the time before you climb. Check to see if your ladder is safe to use before stepping foot on a rung. Ladders get thrown in and out of trucks and closets which may cause the ladders to get beat-up. A damaged ladder is unsafe to use and should be immediately taken out of service. The checklist to the right outlines a few areas that should be inspected before each use.

If you notice any cracked or damaged uprights, braces, or rungs, the ladder should not be used. Loose nails, screws, bolts or other metal parts are also a huge red flag. The ladder rungs should be secure and clean of any oil or dirt. Foot treads should not be worn out and all of the ladder’s labels should be present and legible. As always, only use a ladder on a stable surface. If the ladder is rocking even slightly, or if you need to place something underneath the feet of the ladder to keep it stable, the ladder is unsafe for use.

Why is inspection so important? According to the World Health Organization, the United States has the most number of deaths caused by falls from ladders. Falls from ladders are also the leading cause of deaths in the construction industry. There are over 164,000 emergency room visits and 300 deaths from falling from ladders. The majority of falls from ladders that lead to death are from heights of 10 feet or less from the ground. The number of deaths has tripled over the past decade. Most of these deaths may have been prevented by inspecting ladders before use and putting defected ladders out of service. Another factor that may decrease the amount of fatalities and injuries due to falls from ladders is proper training.

The following list outlines just a few items to train employees in regards to the safe and proper use of ladders.

Always maintain 3-points of contact at all times when climbing

 Do not carry any materials up or down a ladder

 Wear a tool belt

 Use a hand line

Face the ladder when ascending or descending

Never overreach

 Work only within an arm’s reach of the ladder

 Keep your belt buckle between the sides rails of the ladder at all times

Only allow one person to climb the ladder at a time

Extension Ladders:

Position the ladder at the proper pitch (1/4 rule)

Extend the side rails at least 36 inches or 3 rungs above

Secure the top of the ladder to help prevent shifting

If you have water or fire damage, please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378

Cold weather preparation for your business

1/15/2020 (Permalink)

Picture shows a man on a roof shoveling snow on the roof Make sure you clean the snow off the roof

Cold Weather and Freeze Alert

Keep your heating systems operating

Keep your building and equipment warm. Heating systems are the lifeline of your business during cold conditions. If they fail, disaster could strike.

Immediate action required:

  • All piping must be insulated. Install new and replace damaged insulation and don’t forget to examine your sprinkler system.
  • Inspect all outside dampers for proper operation.
  • Clear and protect all outside vents from ice and snow accumulation.
  • Heat requires power. If generators are unavailable, make arrangements to obtain an electrical portable heating during outages.

Safeguard business equipment during power outages

Voltage surge protection is necessary at all times – especially during cold, freezing conditions. Severe weather can cause power loss and downed wires, disrupting your business’ power supply. When electricity is restored, the sudden surge of power can literally destroy the modem, high-tech equipment

Your business relies on.

Immediate action required:

  • Unplug it. Anticipate voltage surges during severe weather. The best solution is equipment isolation – turn it off and unplug it. If you need to keep equipment running, installing surge protectors can provide protection.
  • Inspect building. Close all windows, doors and outside dampers. Schedule regular building checks during storms and cold weather. Arrange for snow and ice removal, including the roof.
  • Who’s responsible? Ensure accountability by designating personal responsibility for loss prevention. Business and building owners must work together with facilities and maintenance people.
  • Provide emergency telephone numbers. Collect and distribute a list of emergency phone numbers and contacts, such as snow removal, heating system Repair Company, utility company, and the weather bureau.
  • Anticipate flooding. Severe and cold weather can cause flooding. Move susceptible equipment or stock to an alternate location, where water cannot reach it.
  • Always have cold-weather gear on hand. – Have plenty of gloves, hats, emergency blankets and flashlights available.

If you have water or fire issues, please call SERVPRO of Cambridge/Belmont (617) 864-7378