Cleaning vs Disinfecting at Home
Many think cleaning and disinfecting are synonymous but there is a crucial difference between the two. When you clean, you’re simply removing organic dirt, debris, and general soils. Disinfecting is using a higher level of disinfectant product to remove or control the spread of viruses and bacteria. Disinfection isn’t as effective, though, if you don’t clean first prior to applying the disinfectant product!
Follow these 5 tips from our SERVPRO experts to make sure you’re properly protecting yourself and your home.
1. USE EPA REGISTERED DISINFECTANTS
There are consumer products out there that are almost as effective as professional products in the fight against the spread of infectious diseases when used according to the label. All these products are going to be registered by the EPA and will have specific directions on how long the surface must remain wet, how the product should be applied, and what surfaces they can be used on.
2. FOLLOW THE MANUFACTURER’S INSTRUCTIONS
You can have the best cleaning product, but if you don’t know how to apply that product correctly, you’re going to be ineffective. Disinfection can be done effectively at home if you use the right products and follow the label and product instructions.
3. PROTECT YOUR HANDS WITH GLOVES
Basic hand protection when using disinfecting products is always wise. Try to use nitrile gloves or any other type of disposable gloves you can find.
4. USE A MICROFIBER CLOTH, NOT A SPONGE
Microfiber cloths are made up of fibers with multiple surfaces and allow you to have a better contact as you’re cleaning. Household sponges are not recommended, as they can often be breeding grounds for bacteria. If possible, you could even use something that you can dispose of, like disposable wipes or cloths. Otherwise a microfiber cloth is what you should use.
5. CLEAN HANDS AND SURFACES REGULARLY.
Keep your hands washed and regularly clean high touch areas in your home like door handles and light switches. Practicing basic hygiene is what’s going to continue to break the cycle of infection and reduce the virus spread.
Putting these tips into practice can help you reduce levels of contamination.
Tips on Reopening Your Business After a Disaster
A natural disaster can occur at a moment's notice. Within seconds, your business can be damaged or destroyed, forcing you to close your doors until you can get back up and running. Unfortunately, businesses that haven’t implemented a disaster recovery plan before the unthinkable happens may likely be unable to reopen their doors after a loss. In fact, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), up to 40 percent of small businesses never reopen their doors after a natural disaster strikes. With lack of planning for financial damages, property destruction, loss of essential business documents and equipment, and taking care of staff needs, it can be difficult for business owners to rebuild when disaster strikes.
Luckily, the experts at SERVPRO are here to help. Use these tips to get your business back on its feet as soon as you can after disaster strikes.
CREATE A DETAILED NATURAL DISASTER PLAN
If your business is going to survive a natural disaster, you’ll need a detailed preparedness plan in place. Write down a list of immediate solutions you'll implement in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Include items such as:
- Which disasters are likely to impact your business, depending on where it is located
- Locations suitable for employee evacuation
- How to stay in contact with all staff members
- Emergency contact information for each employee
- Plans to protect and/or access vital business records and information
- If there will be an off-site location from which employees need to work until doors reopen
- Contact information for the business’s insurance company, financial institutions, and a reputable disaster restoration company
KEEP LINES OF COMMUNICATION OPEN
As soon as you can, keep your customers and staff informed about what's happening with your business. Provide an estimate of when you'll be able to reopen for business. If excessive damage forces you to temporarily relocate, let others know how to find you. Keep in mind that your ability to recover from a natural disaster might largely depend on how quickly your employees are able to return to work. Reach out to your team, and work with them to make scheduling changes if necessary so everyone can get back to normal as soon as possible.
SEEK OUTSIDE HELP
While FEMA provides financial assistance to businesses that are located in a federally declared disaster area, the process of receiving aid can take some time, especially when an astronomical number of claims are being filed. Have a backup plan in place to ensure you're able to cover the costs of repairs in a punctual manner.
Consider purchasing a flood insurance plan that specifically covers natural disasters. The Small Business Administration (SBA) may also be a good place to turn for help. Through the organization's Office of Disaster Assistance, businesses that are located in declared disaster areas can apply for low-interest, long-term loans to make repairs and replacements.
SET YOUR BUSINESS UP FOR A QUICK RECOVERY
Even just one act of nature can cause a major interruption. Businesses that recognize the importance of having a detailed plan in place to recover after a natural disaster may have a greater chance of survival. Start listing out your steps to rebuilding before disaster strikes to increase your chances of recovering.
If the unexpected does happen, remember that you’re not alone. Count on the experts at SERVPRO to guide and support you throughout the recovery process and help get your business back up and running again as quickly as possible.
Flooding and your Business's Electronics
If you're like most business owners, your office electronics are the lifeblood of your company. In the event that a disaster strikes, all your records could be impaired and permanently lost, including invaluable company records, customer information, and even communication.
In the aftermath of a flood, it's important to know what to do to mitigate the effects of water damage on your computer systems and other electronics. If you act quickly enough, you may be able to save more information and get your business back on its feet faster. Find out what you should do after an emergency and when to call on the professionals after your equipment or technology has been damaged by high humidity, directly hit, or completely submerged in water with these helpful tips from SERVPRO.
DAMAGE TYPE: HIGH HUMIDITY
Humidity spikes can occur in a room with standing water or other significant water damage. Surprisingly, delicate electronics like computers, printers, work phones, fax machines and other devices can still be damaged even without direct contact to the water source. That's because in humid conditions, dust can turn into sludge and cling to wiring and circuit boards. This is even more likely if the flooding or high humidity was caused by an office fire that produced smoke damage to electronics.
What to do: In all instances of high humidity water damage, professional electronic restoration services are recommended to bring your equipment back to normal conditions. A professional cleaning provides a better chance that your costly electronics and devices can be fully restored to preloss condition.
DAMAGE TYPE: DIRECT HIT
Electronics can sustain a direct hit from running or splashing water without being completely submerged. This scenario can occur from accidental spills, water overflow, leaks, floods and virtually any other water-related incident. When direct hits to your electronics happen, try to remove them from the water source as soon as possible to prevent permanent damage.
What to do: Often, computer water damage from a direct hit looks worse from the outside than it actually is on the inside. Commercial restoration and cleaning, including an adequate drying period, can remove contaminants left by the water and restore the equipment to proper functioning, usually at least long enough to recover crucial data. However, there is always a risk of circuit board corrosion. Over time, you may need to replace either essential components, or the entire device.
DAMAGE TYPE: SUBMERSION
Submersion occurs when the electronic equipment has actually been completely covered in standing water – and possibly even muddy silt and sediment – for a period of hours or days. This type of damage can happen in serious disasters where people are unable to get to the office for long periods of time, or during weekends or holiday breaks when a pipe may burst and nobody is notified until the next business day.
What to do: Unfortunately, electronics that have been submerged are not usually good candidates for electronic restoration services. This is because most submersion incidents cause the computers to short out and damage the internal circuits beyond repair. While you could potentially replace damaged parts and have the equipment professionally cleaned, it may be prohibitively expensive unless your items were specially designed or extremely costly. In submersion cases, we recommend completely replacing your electronics and notifying your insurance about each damaged item.
Remember, if your business has sustained flood or water damage, it is never safe to just turn on your electronics afterward to test them. You run the risk of electrical shock, and even further damage to your equipment. That's why you should call on us. Our water damage restoration services work quickly with the innovative tools and expertise necessary to fix your equipment. Contact the professionals at SERVPRO to learn how we can get your business back up and running fast.
Getting Your Business Up and Running After a Hurricane
After any severe natural disaster, many people are left wondering how to even start picking up the pieces, both literally and figuratively. If you’re a business owner, you not only have to worry about repairing your home, but also your commercial property – your livelihood. If your building experienced severe water damage, use these hurricane damage recovery tips from the experts at SERVPRO to get your business up and running as soon as possible.
FIRST THING'S FIRST: STAY SAFE
Safety should always be your number one priority – business owner or not. Even after the rain stops and the flood water begins to recede, the dangers of flooding still loom. You may not be able to see potential electrical hazards, gas leaks and water contaminants with an untrained eye, which is why you should avoid entering your property until an inspector determines the structure is safe.
STEPS TO RESTORE YOUR BUSINESS AFTER A FLOOD
After you're given the OK to reenter your place of business, follow these five steps to safely examine the damages and start your commercial property's recovery and restoration.
1. Contact Your Insurance Provider
Begin the claim filing process for any major damages as soon as possible. We know that dealing with insurance can be a long, frustrating and daunting process. That's why it's best to place a call to your insurance agent right away. You can always call back with more details on the damages later, but the sooner you start, the better.
2. Wear Safety Gear
If your property survived the storm, it may have some battle scars. Since there will likely be debris, broken glass and flood water inside, you'll need to wear the proper protective gear during cleanup, including gloves, closed toe shoes and possibly waders. Try to cover any exposed skin to reduce the risk of scratches, cuts and infection.
3. Survey the Damage
Seeing your business damaged by a flood can be devastating. It's OK to feel sad or overwhelmed – in fact, it's completely normal. Take you time to process the extent of the storm's impact. As you assess the scope of the damage, remember to take pictures of any damage you see and to make detailed notes for your insurance claim and company records.
4. Clear Rubble and Salvage What You Can
Remove unharmed or repairable items and store them in a safe, dry place until the restoration of your building is complete. If the rest of the debris is safe to handle, clear away rubble so you can begin repairs. Make any minor fixes if you can, but don't be afraid to ask for help.
5. Find the Right Professional Help
Flood damage restoration experts know how to tackle jobs of all sizes and get your business back in shape quickly. Find a company like SERVPRO, who can guide you through the entire restoration process and have proven experience helping businesses recover after hurricane flood damage.
Stopping a Water Leak Before it Becomes a Problem
A water leak in your business should never be ignored. Whether from a plumbing leak, an appliance malfunction, or a leaky roof or windows, even a small amount of excess water can lead to significant water damage repair costs. That’s why it’s important to identify leaks and take quick action to correct them. Use the following tips from SERVPRO to stop small leaks from becoming a big problem.
HOW TO SPOT SIGNS OF A PLUMBING OR ROOF LEAK
Water can get into your building in a variety of ways, and two of the main culprits are roof leaks and plumbing leaks. One of the tell-tale signs of a leak in your plumbing system is an unexpected increase in your water bill. If your water bill seems high, inspect your building for the following:
- Leaking pipe joints or P-traps underneath sinks.
- Leaks around appliances that use water.
- Corrosion on supply lines to appliances and fixtures.
- Stains below supply line connections.
- Broken toilet tank flappers.
- Odd smells coming from drains, which may indicate a sewer leak.
- Warped or discolored flooring.
- Water stains on the walls and ceilings directly below bathrooms.
Water stains on walls and ceilings can also be indicators of a roof leak. Other signs of water damage can include a musty smell in the attic, peeling paint around skylights, deteriorating drywall, missing or damaged shingles, and damaged flashing.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU FIND SIGNS OF WATER DAMAGE
Some leaks are, thankfully, fairly easy to fix. A leaky toilet may just require a new flapper valve, while a leaky faucet could need a new O-ring. If the leak requires more than a simple fix, however, call in a professional to address the issue and keep your water damage repair costs to a minimum.
In the event of a plumbing or appliance leak, you can mitigate the damage while you wait for the professionals to arrive. Start by shutting off the local water supply at the site of the leak. Here are the usual shut-off valve locations for some common fixtures and appliances:
- Sink: Just below the sink, next to the water supply lines. Sinks will typically have two shut-off valves, one for hot water and one for cold water.
- Dishwasher: Also under the sink, likely close to the sink shut-off valves.
- Toilet: Close to the toilet and near the floor, as part of the water supply line.
- Refrigerator with water and ice dispensers: On the supply tube running to the refrigerator, likely behind the refrigerator or under a nearby sink.
You can also lessen the potential for long-term damage by mopping or soaking up any standing water in the area of the leak. Keep in mind, however, that where there’s a water leak there’s often mold growth, so if you discover a mold outbreak it’s best to leave cleaning and remediation up to the experts. A professional water damage cleanup service like SERVPRO will know exactly how to address the problem before it gets worse.
Even seemingly insignificant water leaks can be signs of a larger issue. Don't let these problems continue unaddressed. Take steps to identify and stop water leaks at your place of business, and then contact the remediation experts at SERVPRO to make sure your business stays safe and clean for everyone who walks through the door.
Fixing a Running Toilet
You’re probably familiar with that notorious sound that emanates from a constantly running toilet. While certainly annoying, a toilet that runs continuously can also be costly in many ways. From a huge water bill to potential flooding or a damaged septic system, running toilets are often more than just a nuisance.
It’s important to know what causes a running toilet, and what you can do to fix it before it becomes a much more serious problem. Read on to find out the basics of toilets that run too frequently, and why this is one repair you definitely don’t want to put off.
What Causes a Running Toilet?
A constantly running toilet is generally an indication that one or more internal components of the toilet tank has malfunctioned. Luckily, these issues can be easy to diagnose, and fixing a toilet that runs is something you can often do yourself. Remove the lid from the tank and inspect the following:
- Fill Valve or Ballcock: Your tank will include either a cylindrical fill valve or a round ballcock that is designed to shut off water flow once the tank has filled up. If water is continuously escaping down the overflow tube, you may need to adjust the fill valve or ballcock to reduce the amount of water it allows into the tank.
- Flapper: This part creates a seal around the flush valve, through which water flows into the toilet bowl. Ensure that the flapper is not worn, chipped or hardened. Make sure the chain coming off the flapper has not gotten caught or tangled, and that it has adequate slack to allow the flapper to close automatically after the handle is released.
- Flush Valve: Like the flapper, this part can become rough or eroded over time, allowing water to slowly drain into the bowl and causing the tank to periodically refill.
- Flush Lever: This includes the toilet handle and the arm inside the tank. Make sure they are tightly secured and in good condition.
The Major Risks of Minor Leaks
Whatever the cause, it’s a good idea to fix a running toilet as soon as you’re aware of the problem. For starters, a constantly running toilet can waste a substantial amount of water, setting you up for a nasty surprise when the next water bill arrives. Beyond that, a toilet that runs all the time is at greater risk of overflowing and causing substantial flooding damage, with overflow being among the leading causes of toilet failures, according to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety.
For those on septic systems, a running toilet introduces additional risks. Constant water flow can flood your septic tank and can eventually cause the drain field to saturate and fail. This can lead to health hazards as well as costly mitigation and repair efforts that, as with a flooded home, far exceed what it would have cost to repair a leaking toilet in the first place.
If you have a toilet that won’t stop running, don’t wait for the problem to get out of hand. Understanding the basics of toilet operation and what you can do to fix yours can mean the difference between an easy repair and expensive damage. If you do end up dealing with a toilet overflow and damage to your home, you can count on the experts at SERVPRO to help make it right. We’re available 24/7/365 to answer your questions and help you return to a clean, healthy home as soon as possible.
Main Water Valve Leaking?
As a homeowner, it's essential to know where the main water shut off valve is located. Water leaks from running toilets, burst pipes, broken water heaters, and even leaky sinks can cause significant damage in a short amount of time. In order to prevent costly damage, turn off the water supply as soon as a leak, flood, or spill occurs.
Find out how to maintain all your valves throughout the year, including the ones connected to your sinks and toilets, plus tips on when it's best to completely shut off your main water line from the experts at SERVPRO.
WHEN DO I NEED TO SHUT OFF MY MAIN WATER LINE?
Typically, you won't have to go directly to the main water line to fix a leak. Instead, your first attempt at stopping your water supply should be straight at the source. Most local supply lines have valves located directly behind or above the fixture and can be turned clockwise to shut off the water supply.
To locate water valves next to specific fixtures in your home, use these tips:
- For sinks, look under the cabinet on the supply lines leading to the faucet. There will likely be two shut-off valves to control both cold and hot water.
- For toilets, look close to the ground behind or beside the toilet, along the flexible metal tubing leading to the tank.
- For washing machines, look either directly above the washer or pull the machine away from the wall and check behind it.
- For water heaters, the water valve should be located just above the heater itself.
Operating these valves can vary depending on their design. There may be a round or oval-shaped valve handle that you turn clockwise to close, and counterclockwise to reopen. Some modern plumbing shutoff valves may feature a flat knob that you pull out in order to close. Others may look like flat levers, which you can turn perpendicular to the supply line to reach the closed position. In many cases, operating instructions may be indicated directly on the valve.
If the leaky fixture's valves aren't working or break off, turn off your main water line right away. Acting fast could save you plenty in damages and repair costs.
HOW DO I FIND MY MAIN HOUSE WATER SHUT OFF VALVE?
The main water line valve to a house is usually located in the basement or in the crawlspace and enclosed behind an access panel. However, there isn't a standard location specified in any home.
If you don't know where to look for your water shut off valve, use these tips:
- The valve will often be located on-grade, so you'll likely find it at eye-level in the basement or near the ground on the first floor.
- The valve may also be attached to the water meter outside your home. Water meters are generally located close to the street in an underground box or near your driveway, yard or sidewalk.
- Take a look at the property inspection report provided when you purchased your home. This report should note the location of the valve.
MAINTAINING YOUR WATER VALVES
At SERVPRO, we know how terrifying it can be to try shutting off your supply lines just to see the valves stick in place – or worse, snap off in your hands. That's why we recommend periodically checking your shut off valves to ensure they're in good working condition.
At least twice a year, test all the valves in your home. Simply turn them completely off and on again to ensure they aren't stuck in place or include faulty parts. That way, if an emergency ever does occur, you can have peace of mind that you'll be able to fix the problem quickly and efficiently.
Make sure every family member knows where these shutoff valves are located so that a minor water incident doesn’t result in major damage. Consider writing out instructions so everyone in the household knows how to act if they spot a leak. When you’re heading out of town, use these valves to shut off water flow so that you don’t come home to water damage or a flood.
If the unexpected happens are you aren’t able to shut off your water valves in time, call on the experts at SERVPRO. Our water damage restoration services can help you get your home back to normal as quickly as possible. With the proper tools and knowledge, we'll work fast and efficiently to prevent additional water damage, cleanup costs, and overall stress.
Faster to Any Disaster!
If a storm strikes your home or business, call SERVPRO of Sooland at 712-274-2416. SERVPRO franchise professionals are leaders in fire and water cleanup and restoration.
Even minor water intrusion has the potential to cause major damages to a structure, if not treated quickly mold can become a concern as well.
Why you should call SERVPRO
SERVPRO has over forty years of experience on restoring water damaged homes and businesses from coast to coast. SERVPROS' Disasters Recovery Team is trained and equipped to handle the largest storms and flood waters.
Floods can strike anywhere
- The principle causes of floods in the western United States are snow melt and rainstorms.
- Underpasses can be extremely dangerous during a flash flood especially at night.
If you have any water damage that is caused by storms call SERVPRO of Sooland at 712-274-2416.
We're Here to Help
Storm Event Response!!
SERVPRO of Sooland specializes in storm damage restoration. Our crews are highly trained and use specialized equipment to restore your property to its pre-storm condition.
Since we are locally owned and operated, we can respond quickly and with all the right resources. A fast response will lessen the damage, limit further damage, and reduce the restoration cost.
Resources to Handle Large Storms
When storms hit the Siouxland area, we have the resources to scale up our response to handle a large storm or flash flood disaster. When needed we can access equipment and personnel from a network of over 1,700 Franchises across the country and we have elite Disaster Recovery Teams that are strategically located throughout the United States.
Available 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, SERVPRO© Franchise Professionals are prepared for the unpredictable.
3 Home Fire Safety Tips
A home fire occurs every 86 seconds in the United States, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). These fires result in thousands of deaths and injuries each year, along with billions of dollars in property damage. While the numbers are alarming, some of the harm caused by residential fires is avoidable. A strong home fire safety plan can improve your family's chances of escaping a fire safely and, in some cases, it may help you avoid one altogether. Learn three top ways to practice fire safety in the home from the experts at SERVPRO of Sooland.
- Home Fire Prevention
The best way to stay safe from fires is to stop them from occurring in the first place. Start by implementing the fire-prevention measures below:
- Keep flammable materials away from heat sources. If you're using a portable space heater, keep it at least 3 feet away from flammable objects like furniture, blankets, electronics and anything combustible.
- Don't leave flames or smoking materials unattended, including fireplaces, stovetops, candles and cigarettes. Avoid smoking indoors, and never smoke in bed.
- Fix or replace frayed electrical cords or wires.
- Don't overload wall outlets or extension cords.
- Have your furnace or home heating source periodically inspected and kept in good working order.
- Make sure everyone in the household understands the importance of home fire safety and observes fire-safe habits, including your kids.
Get more fire prevention and safety tips from Ready.gov.
- Home Fire Safety Equipment
A good home fire safety plan includes having the right supplies and safety equipment on hand. These tools will be your first line of defense in the event of a fire, and they can dramatically improve your ability to react effectively.
- Install smoke detectors on every floor of your home, in every bedroom, and outside each sleeping area.
- Inspect and maintain your smoke detectors
- A fire extinguisher can keep small, containable fires from growing out of control. Have an extinguisher handy whenever you use cooking or heating equipment.
- Learn how to use a fire extinguisher.
- Consider installing an automatic sprinkler system in your home.
- Fire Safety Planning
During an emergency, reaction time is critical. Beyond the equipment you need, everyone in your household should know what to do if a fire starts. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Create a fire safety plan that establishes at least two escape routes and a safe location away from the home where everyone can meet.
- Make an emergency communications plan to stay in contact during and after a fire.
- Practice your escape plan twice a year so everyone can act quickly when it counts.
- Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1.