Recent Posts

We are Mold Damage Specialists

3/15/2019 (Permalink)

When water damage occurs in a home or commercial property, mold growth will likely follow. It’s a proven fact that mold can begin to grow within 48 hours of exposure to moisture.

If you are faced with a mold issue, it is very important to know what you need to do, which is why we’re providing an overview of what mold remediation is in this blog.

Mold Remediation, Not Removal

There are ads out there for mold remediation and you’ve also seen those that promise mold removal, but mold removal is a fallacy. Removing all mold from a home or business simply cannot be done. Instead, a qualified restoration company will focus on mold remediation and the goal of bringing mold levels back into a normal and natural range.

It is a natural occurrence for mold spores to occur almost everywhere, both indoors and outdoors. They are not an issue until a minor problem is not treated and it then turns into a major infestation.

During a mold remediation process, technicians will isolate the contaminated areas and either close off all doors and windows or effectively sealing off all doorways and openings with a polyethylene sheeting. Dust in the contaminated areas is then suppressed through misting.

Wet and mold-damaged materials are removed and discarded using plastic bags, and then all areas exposed to and affected by the mold will be thoroughly cleaned and completely dried. A HEPA vacuum can be used during some remediation cases to help remove contamination and debris.

The mold-affected area is treated with a biocide and left to cure overnight allowing the biocide to kill the mold spores. The following day, the mold remediation crew will return and encapsulate the mold-affected and surrounding areas.

<h4to-call-the-professionals">When to Call the Professionals

So, if you believe your home or business may have a mold problem, it is important to act quickly. If you find that the mold-affected area is larger than 10 square feet upon evaluation, that is when you need to contact professionals to take care of the situation.

The professionals you contact need to be well-versed and highly trained and certified in areas like:

  • Applied microbial remediation
  • Water damage restoration
  • Applied structural drying

While some minor mold issues have been successfully resolved by home and business owners on their own, the surest and safest way to handle mold remediation to bring in the professionals for a quick resolution to the problem.

At SERVPRO® of Western Essex County, our mold damage specialists are trained and certified experts in mold remediation. If your home or business is experiencing a mold issue, contact us to begin the mold remediation process.

SERVPRO is There for You & Your Business | Disaster Plan

3/14/2019 (Permalink)

Have you ever stopped to think about how Mother Nature can prove to be quite a formidable foe, throwing everything from floods, hurricanes and tornadoes to wildfires and earthquakes at us? The key to being able to roll with the punches as a business, so to speak, is to be prepared for a multitude of worst-case scenarios.

Being prepared for those scenarios involves creating a natural disaster plan for your business. Some aspects to consider when designing that plan are laid out in this blog.

What to Consider in Your Disaster Plan

There are many things you will need to consider when creating a disaster plan for your business. Included in those considerations should be:

  1. Protecting your employees
  2. Securing your assets
  3. Getting your business up and running again

Many checklists are available from different agencies like the Red Cross, FEMA and Ready.gov that will assist in identifying areas that need to be included in your natural disaster preparedness plan. These sources can also help let you know how prepared you truly are.

The Importance of Protecting Employees

Because disasters strike without warning, your primary concern must be having a plan in place that lays out procedures and safety measures for the protection of employees and visitors.

Evacuation routes and all exits from your facility need to be clearly marked. You need to provide a place where people can take shelter, look into installing emergency lights, and have a designated staff of “safety wardens” properly trained and ready to help with all emergency efforts.

A basement is the ideal location when looking for a space to provide shelter in tornadoes or high-wind situations. However, if this is not possible, find a small interior room, closet or interior hallway on the lowest level of the building.

How to Protect Assets

Brick and mortar locations don’t always mean your business is not at risk. You’ll need to make careful choices about protecting your assets on the inside. Thousands of dollars in equipment and/or merchandise are at risk when a natural disaster strikes.

Be sure to have a comprehensive and up-to-date inventory of these items, and yes, having photographs prior to a disaster whenever possible is always helpful if insurance claims will have to be made. If your assets are based on a computer server, take the steps necessary to ensure that the backup system is working and the storage system cannot be damaged.

As a building owner, take the time to work with a contractor and uncover any areas that could need structural integrity improvement. The contractor can also show you possible safety upgrades and advise on any areas that are not up to code for certain weather situations.

Starting Back in Business

When a natural disaster does occur, it is possible that your business will have to be closed due to damage, and every day you remain closed is another day of lost profits. It is a good idea to set aside an “emergency” fund to cover any additional costs incurred that are not covered by your insurance.

Have a list of contractors who would be available for construction concerns, and know which cleanup and restoration service will be available to quickly respond to your emergency situation.

With SERVPRO® of Western Essex County, you can count on us to get to the disaster faster and make it "Like it never even happened." Our training and expertise have prepared us to help with water damage, storm damage, fire damage and mold remediation quickly and effectively.

Knowing what to do when disaster strikes your business is of the utmost importance. When it comes to the cleanup and restoration aspects, depend on SERVPRO® of Western Essex County to be there for you.

SERVPRO of Western Essex County Cares About Your Family

3/12/2019 (Permalink)

Have you ever stopped to think about whether your family is prepared for severe weather that can take us by surprise? While we may have advanced warning for some types of severe weather, that is not always the case.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take and safety tips to follow that will ensure your family is prepared.

Severe Weather Planning for Your Family

Creating and establishing a family emergency plan is one of the best ways to be ready for the unexpected.

Kudos to you if your family does have an emergency plan in place, but be sure that it is practiced and reviewed on a regular basis.

If you’ve not yet completed this process, take some time to do so. Take a look at some things to take into consideration when putting together your family emergency plan:

1. Getting Emergency Alerts

Technology today is a marvel. Thanks to today’s smartphone technology, it is easy to receive emergency alerts and warnings on your smartphone equipped with a weather app or Google on your smartphone. This allows you to act quickly and efficiently when you receive emergency alerts, and you can then tune in to your local radio and television stations for further information.

2. Knowing Your Storm Shelters

In areas where tornadoes are common, you’ll want to take shelter in a basement if you have one. If there is no basement, find an interior room (away from building corners and outside walls) on the lowest level that is away from windows and doors. Be aware, however, that tornadoes aren’t the only weather circumstance that requires a form of storm shelter, and you can learn more about those situations by visiting ready.gov.

3. Having Evacuation Routes

Be sure you have multiple routes mapped out that can serve as an evacuation route as hurricanes, flooding and fires can force you from your home in a hurry. It’s wise to have multiple routes in case one becomes impassable. Make sure to make preparations for your furry family members and find places to stay with your pets that have evacuated with you.

4. Staying in Touch

It is easy to rely on cell phones to keep in touch with your family, but in some circumstances, that will not be a viable option. Cell phone towers can sustain severe damage, phones could be lost or left behind, and if there is no power, you will not be able to recharge their batteries.

You should complete an emergency communication plan for your family and decide on a place to safely meet in the event you are separated during the emergency.

If a storm does cause damage to your home or business, don’t hesitate to call your friends at SERVPRO® of Western Essex County to get the cleanup and restoration process started.

We Are The Experts & We Are Here To Help | Identifying Floodwaters

3/11/2019 (Permalink)

When you understand the differences in the types of water that are involved with water damage, you will be better able to deal with the cleanup. It is easy to think that all water causing damage is the same, but there are three separate classifications for it: clean water, gray water and black water.

Whatever the type of water that has caused the water damage, there will most assuredly be a cleanup and restoration process to follow. To begin the process, the most important thing to do is remove all of the moisture and damp items quickly, so that mold will not begin to flourish in its ideal environment.

Info on Clean Water

The name says it all—this water is free from contaminants and is considered “clean” and not the type to pose an immediate threat to your health. Sources of clean water are:

  • Broken water lines
  • Malfunctioning appliances
  • Toilet holding tanks
  • Snow melt and rainwater

This will be the easiest type of water damage to work with since there are fewer microbes living in the water, but after 48 hours and building surface contact, clean water can move up to category two, “gray” water.

Info on Gray Water

“Gray” water is where water damage cleanup and restoration can become a bit more complicated. It may pose a health risk due to chemical or biological contamination. That slight contamination in gray water means that it will have to be properly and thoroughly treated before safe consumption.

Gray water can come from dishwashers, aquariums, showers, etc. The 48-hour exposure time applies here as well, with gray water turning into black water if not treated.

Info on Black Water

Black water is the most serious of the three classifications and it is considered highly contaminated by harmful chemicals and biological matter. This makes cleanup risky and includes floodwaters containing soil and all sewage waters.

Sewage contains microbe contamination, including bacteria, protozoans, molds, fungi and more, which are hazardous to humans.

Some of the diseases that can be transmitted by black water are:

  • Cholera
  • Typhoid
  • Hepatitis
  • Gastroenteritis-type illnesses

You should remember that where floodwaters are concerned, it should be assumed that all water involved is black water since it will be picking up contaminants along the path it travels.

All floodwater classifications are recognized by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Remediation Certification (IICRC), which is an organization that certifies and sets the standards for the cleaning and restoration industries. Our technicians all study IICRC standards and best practices in water restoration and are available to help determine the steps to take to get your home back to normal.

It doesn’t matter what type of water has caused damage to your home or business, SERVPRO® of Western Essex County is here to help get the situation under control and make it "Like it never even happened." Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need emergency cleanup and restoration services!

Protect Your Business From Fires

3/6/2019 (Permalink)

As a business owner, you have plenty of safety factors to consider regarding risks to your business, staff and visitors. One area you need to spend a little extra time planning for is fire prevention.

<h4common-causes-of-commercial-structure-fires">Most Common Causes of Commercial Structure Fires

The leading causes of structure fires in office properties from 2007–2011, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) were, in order:

  1. Cooking equipment, 29% of fires
  2. Electrical distribution and lighting equipment, 12% of fires
  3. Heating equipment, 11% of fires
  4. Intentional, 10% of fires
  5. Smoking materials, 9% of fires
  6. Exposure, 4% of fires
  7. Electronic, office or entertainment equipment, 3% of fires

Of those causes, intentional was 20% responsible, exposure was 18% responsible, and electrical distribution and lighting equipment was 15% responsible for the most property damage.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2007 fires and explosions accounted for 3% of all workplace fatalities.

More recently, the NFPA estimates that from 2007–2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 3,340 fires in office properties per year. Those fires resulted in an annual average of four deaths, 44 injuries and $112 million in direct property damage.

<h4to-protect-your-business">Ways to Protect Your Business

Let’s take a look at a few of the many steps you can take to protect your business from the risk of fires. When placing an emphasis on fire risk assessment, fire prevention and staff education, you will help reduce the chance of a fire breaking out in your facility.

First, assess your risk for fire hazards. You may be able to access the expertise of a fire marshal provided by the local government in some areas who can work with you to help identify these risks and provide guidance on your fire prevention plan.

You’ll want to make sure that the right fire protection equipment is in place. This should include an automatic sprinkler system, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers on each floor.

Finally, consider the human aspect, the employees. By creating a fire plan and reviewing it with your staff, you’ll be making sure everyone is aware of the procedures to follow in the event of a fire. Conduct fire drills at least once a year to keep the fire safety protocol fresh, and take time to review evacuation plans and where the first-aid kits are.

Despite best efforts with fire prevention and safety tips, the worst could always happen at your business. If a fire has damaged your business, SERVPRO® of Western Essex County is available to help make it "Like it never even happened."

Trust SERVPRO to Protect Your Home From Water Damage

3/6/2019 (Permalink)

Water damage is one of the most common and costliest disasters you may experience as a homeowner. There are countless ways water damage could strike your home, from a bursting pipe to malfunctioning appliances or even storm damage.

Since water damage is an especially common issue for homeowners to deal with, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can protect your home.

<h4your-home">Protecting Your Home

Not only is water damage a hassle to deal with, but if the cleanup afterward is not done properly, it can have a long-term impact on your home. Mold begins to grow in as little as 24–48 hours after moisture exposure and is one of the most common side effects of water damage.

As you start to think about ways to protect your home, it is helpful if you break it down by areas of impact—for example, basements, kitchens, bathrooms, flooring and ceilings.

Water seepage is a concern in basements, and you can help prevent water damage by locating vulnerable areas for water seepage and resealing those areas of the basement. You should also make sure water drains away from your home and install a backwater valve.

The kitchen and bathrooms often experience water damage as a result of plumbing system breakdowns, backups and appliance failures.

Be sure you:

  • Inspect all appliances regularly, looking for issues with hoses and faucets
  • Check all of the seals and caulking around your showers and tubs to make sure there is no leakage
  • Know the location of the main water shut-off valve is in your home
  • Don’t leave the house while the washer or dishwasher is running

Protecting the possessions in your home from water damage is not always possible, but there are ways you can at least decrease the amount of loss. By using waterproof bins to store items and storing things up off the floor, especially in the basement, you may be able to safeguard some of your possessions.

<h4from-water-damage">Recovering From Water Damage

You can stand a good chance at salvaging items that can be dried out within 48 hours if you find yourself in a water damage situation.

Make sure to contact your insurance company immediately and evaluate the extent of the water damage in your home as well as identify the type of water that is involved.

The three types of water are:

  1. Rain water, condensation or leaky pipes, which is “clean” water

  2. Slightly dirty water from dishwashers, washing machines, clean toilets, etc., which is “gray” water

  3. Water from sewage or serious flooding from nearby rivers, etc., which can cause serious health problems is “black” water

Following a water damage disaster, as soon as it is safe, remove all wet objects, get your home dehumidified and dried out, and then disinfect any remaining materials.

Pro tip: You can freeze wet books, photos and papers in a frost-free freezer to buy some extra time. This prevents mold and mildew from developing and causing more deterioration. Once able, you can remove them from the freezer and air-dry or fan-dry the pages.

It may seem like recovering from water damage is an overwhelming and slightly impossible task, but it doesn’t have to be. You can call on the highly trained experts at SERVPRO® of Western Essex County, who are here to make it "Like it never even happened."

PREPARE FOR FLOODS AND STORM DAMAGE

10/4/2018 (Permalink)

Unfortunately, the likelihood of floods is increasing across the U.S., even in areas that aren’t usually prone to excess water. But the fact remains that if rain is possible, so are floods.

A flood officially occurs when two or more acres, or two or more properties, have been partially or completely inundated with water.

But if you are facing a flood, the last thing you’ll be worried about is the official definition. You’ll be worried about your safety and the safety of your property.

This blog contains helpful flood preparation tips - not to worry, none of them suggest building an ark.

###1. Back-Up Power In an emergency, you should have a generator. It’s impossible to know whether or not a storm or flooding will take out the power – and you don’t want to be left in the dark. The type of generator you need depends on a few different variables.

Don’t forget: water is a conduit for electricity, and after a flood you’ll be facing a lot of excess water. When you know that flooding is imminent, move all your appliances and electrical devices to safer ground.

###2. Risk Level Before flooding is expected, you should become familiar with your property’s risk for floods. Local government and FEMA are good resources for this. A familiarity with flood zones, risk, and causes is the first step of preparation. For Westfield, NJ, and the surrounding areas, start here.

Another smart risk-management tool is a weather radio. Purchase a weather radio and learn how to use it, including what the different emergency notifications mean.

###3. Emergency Prep It’s important to have an emergency preparedness kit that can handle any emergency. But you should also have supplies tailor to specific severe weather events. Because floodwater contains contaminants, be sure to pack plenty of clean and fresh water. Choose a waterpoof case for your kit and all it contains, like important documents. For a more detailed list on what should be in your emergency kit, read this.

###4. Evacuation Plan Your evacuation plan should include two things. One: become familiar with the local and federal government plans for evacuation. Second: create a personal evacuation plan and involve all members of the family. The plan should be practiced until everyone has it memorized. Be sure to include an emergency communication plan as part of the overall evacuation plan.

Many floods are caused by severe storms and excess rain. Remember that significant storm damage may be caused and may not be noticeable until after flood waters recede.

To get life back on track after flooding and storm damage, call SERVPRO® of Western Essex County.

Storm Damage: What are the Causes?

10/1/2018 (Permalink)

In the past few months, New Jersey has been experiencing a high level of heavy rainfall. Did you know heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding is one of the common types of damage from storms? There are ten common types of storms and being familiar with them aids in storm preparation and damage prevention.

SERVPRO® of Western Essex County knows how important it is to homeowners to keep homes safe from storm damage.

The 5 most common storms are:

  • Hurricanes
  • Tornadoes
  • Thunderstorms
  • Snow storm
  • Hail storms

Since Western Essex County is so far north and so close to the coast, it’s very possible that you may experience each of these kinds of events.

The fact is that hurricanes cause damage far past the coast. That storms cause damage is obvious, but the kinds of damage they cause and how is not always known.

Since hurricanes have long-term effects (Hurricane Sandy impacted 24 states), it’s very important to be educated on that type of storm in particular.

Hurricane damage is caused by three distinct but related storm elements: storm surge, floods, and wind.

Storm surge is when water rises far past the predicted tide level. This rise occurs because the wind from the hurricane pushes the water toward the shore, giving it nowhere to go, except up and in. The force of storm surge can be so strong as to destroy buildings and roads.

Storm surge is a direct cause of floods. The extra water from storm surge can reach far inland, causing widespread floods as it goes. Hurricanes can also cause rainfall as far as 100 miles past where the hurricane actually hits. Even tropical storms that don’t reach hurricane level can cause excess rainfall and thus floods.

Wind from hurricanes can reach speeds of 74 mph up to 155 mph. Winds of this speed cause widespread destruction by uprooting trees, downing power lines, and carrying debris and tossing it against other structures, even causing roofs to lift. It’s not unheard of for hurricane winds to form tornadoes.

Storm surge, floods, and winds can cause damage that is far-reaching, unexpected, and overwhelming. You can take precautions by packing an emergency preparedness kit, installing weather-resistant features to your house, and always following official safety orders or directives.

Storm damage clean up can be exhausting and dangerous. Don’t do it alone. Call SERVPRO® of Western Essex County for expert storm damage restoration services.

Preparedness for Pets: After the Storm

10/1/2018 (Permalink)

Pets are just as important as any family member to most people, so why would you not make them a part of your preparedness planning? There are several things you can do to make sure they stay safe as well during an emergency. Pet Emergency Kit Ready.gov/animals lists the below items as essential to building your Pet Emergency Kit.

  1. Food: At least a three-day supply in an airtight, waterproof container.
  2. Water: At least three days of water specifically for your pets.
  3. Medicines and medical records.
  4. Important documents: Registration information, adoption papers and vaccination documents. Talk to your veterinarian about microchipping and enrolling your pet in a recovery database.
  5. First aid kit: Cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape and scissors; antibiotic ointment; flea and tick prevention; latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol and saline solution. Including a pet first aid reference book is a good idea too.

7.Collar or harness with ID tag, rabies tag and a leash.

8.Crate or pet carrier: Have a sturdy, safe crate or carrier in case you need to evacuate. The carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around and lie down.

  1. Sanitation: Pet litter and litter box if appropriate, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags and household chlorine bleach.
  2. A picture of you and your pet together: If you become separated, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you. Add species, breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing characteristics. Familiar items. Familiar items, such as treats, toys and bedding can help reduce stress for your pet.

Evacuations While practicing fire escape or evacuation plans, be sure to include pets. If an evacuation happens, don’t leave pets behind as they can be lost or injured.

Identification Microchipping pets is a great way to locate them. Most veterinary clinics and shelters have scanners that will read the microchip information to help find a pet’s owners. Be sure to take four-legged friends into consideration when planning for emergencies. Visit ready.gov/ animals for further tips and safety precautions to think about for you or your insured’s families’ pets, or your tenants pets’ during a disaster.

Mold: When To Call The Experts

9/11/2018 (Permalink)

Experienced homeowners know that mold comes with the territory. Often, a little elbow grease will do the trick to get rid of it, but not always. It’s important to be educated about mold to know when it’s time to ask for professional help.

Below you’ll find three mold facts to help determine when to call for professional mold remediation services.

  1. Airborne

Did you know that mold is airborne? Mold spores spread through the air - which means it can spread quickly and far.

Because mold spores are airborne, they can also cause health side effects like allergies and respiratory issues, and even skin irritation. If you’ve noticed these adverse reactions, it may be time to call in an expert.

  1. Drywall

Mold can grow in the walls of your home - especially untreated drywall that is porous. To get rid of mold in the walls, often the infected section of the wall has to be removed.

If a mold colony has grown larger than 10 sq. feet in the wall, it’s time to ask an expert for help.

  1. Water

All mold needs to grow is water or humidity. That makes the bathroom or even the basement the most common locations for mold. Because mold is common in these places, you may think you can handle it on your own. But if the infestation continues to reoccur, the problem might be worse than you think.

If you have a mold problem that just won’t go away, call SERVPRO® of Western Essex County today. SERVPRO of Western Essex County will make it like it never happened.