Preparing Your Grand Rapids Home For Fall
As summer comes to a close, it’s a good idea to think ahead to the colder months coming to our area. Getting your home ready for fall and winter’s colder temperatures and harsher weather conditions while it’s still warm and pleasant will make your life a lot easier and leave you with plenty of time to enjoy the coziness of your house during the holidays. Weather may be unpredictable during the fall here in Grand Rapids, but you won’t have to worry about it if you prepare your home for fall now! Here are some preparations to consider:
- Gutters. Remove dead leaves and debris from your gutters and drainpipes. This will prevent clogging during wetter weather. Drain all outdoor faucets ahead of freezing weather now, as well.
- Chimney and Fireplace. Clear out leftover ash and charred wood from the fireplace, and contact a professional to clean the chimney. Ask the chimney cleaning company to make sure your damper can be closed properly so that drafts of cold air won’t be coming into your home during fall and winter months.
- Heating System. Check your home’s heating vents to make sure they won’t be blocked by furniture, floor coverings, or curtains, and dust them as well. All filters should be changed, and now is a great time to have a professional come and make that annual system checkup.
- Air Conditioners. Unplug any removable window air conditioners, cleaning them thoroughly before putting them in storage.
- Drafts. Examine all your windows and doors for cracks. If you find any, have them sealed now so that you can stay warm and save energy this fall and winter. You’ll be saving both time and money here!
- Storm Windows. Removable screens should be taken down and cleaned, stored and replaced with storm windows.
- Water Heater. Drain the water heater and clean out any debris that may have settled in the tank.
If you need help with the job of preparing your home for fall, just call the professional team here at SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids. We have the expertise and the equipment needed to get the job done right.
How to Clean Up Smoke Damage in Your Home
Enjoy a smoke-free home!
Cleaning up smoke damage in your home is extremely important, but unfortunately, it won’t be as easy as opening a window and letting things air out. The acidic nature of smoke and soot makes them difficult to remove. However, they both contain unpleasant odors and particles that are harmful to breathe, so it’s important to clean them up completely to maintain a healthy living environment. Here at SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids, we have years of fire damage clean-up experience, and over the years, we’ve picked up a few helpful tips that we’re sharing today:
What You’ll Need
One item you may have to buy is a dry-cleaning sponge, but many other helpful cleaning products can probably be found around your home. A sponge, however, is very important for smoke damage removal, so we encourage you not to neglect adding this effective cleaning tool to your list of supplies. We recommend you acquire the following:
- Rubbing alcohol/paint thinner
- Degreaser / commercial soot remover
- Vacuum (ideally a strong shop-vac) with an upholstery attachment
- Bucket / hot water
- Dry-cleaning sponge (chemical sponge)
- Clean rags
After obtaining the cleaning tools above, here are a few next steps:
Ventilate. The first thing you need to do is ventilate the house to get fresh air flowing; be sure to open all the doors and windows in the home. You also can use fans to encourage airflow. Additionally, turn off your HVAC system to prevent smoke and soot from spreading.
Use Protection. Before you clean your house, make sure to protect yourself properly. Soot, smoke, and debris can be dangerous to inhale, so wear a respirator if there is significant soot in the damaged area. Long pants and sleeves will protect your skin, and wearing gloves and eye protection can help save your eyes and hands. Since you will be freeing soot as you clean, it’s important to lay down floor protection and remove any furniture or household objects that are not damaged. If the damaged area is small, you can simply cover furniture with plastic or sheets, but if you’re cleaning an entire room, it’s wise to remove clean items and even seal off other rooms that were not affected. Be mindful of the shoes you’re wearing so you don’t track soot stains into other rooms.
Vacuum It Up. Soot and smoke damage usually come in one ugly, smelly package, so remove loose soot particles with a vacuum with an upholstery attachment. A shop-vac with strong suction power is best for this task. Lightly brush the affected area with the brush attachment, vacuuming up the loose particles. Be gentle and avoid scrubbing, which can make stains worse.
Use The Sponge. After performing the steps above, it’s time to use that dry-cleaning sponge (chemical sponge) to wipe up the soot and smoke stains; these sponges use special chemicals to lift stains from walls. Never use soot cleaner or water before you use a dry-cleaning sponge or you could spread the soot, making it impossible to remove with a chemical sponge. Begin by wiping the walls gently with the dry-cleaning sponge, and turn the sponge to a different side as it gets soiled so that you are always using a clean surface. When all sides are soiled, slice off the dirty sides with a knife to reveal fresh surfaces beneath, or use a new sponge. Make sure you use a wiping motion the entire time because when you scrub the stains, you spread them and work the soot deeper into the surface.
Use Liquid Cleaners. After you remove as much soot as possible with the dry-cleaning sponge, you can use commercial soot/smoke remover (follow the manufacturer’s directions), rubbing alcohol, white vinegar or paint thinner and a clean rag. Soak the rag in your preferred cleaner and wipe the walls throughout the damaged room. Even if there is no sign of soot or smoke damage, it’s important to wipe every surface in the room, including light bulbs. Next, you’ll want to use TSP, dish soap or degreaser in a gallon of hot water to wash the walls with a rag or sponge; just a few teaspoons should be enough. Use the same wiping motion you used with the dry-cleaning sponge. You may need to use a combination or repeated treatments of these chemical cleaners depending on how bad the damage is. As the rag gets dirty, rinse it out in the bucket or use a new rag. The same applies to your cleaning water. Refresh your water when it gets black or smells like smoke. Once you’ve completed washing the room with your chosen cleaner, wipe the walls again with fresh water and a clean rag to remove any remaining cleaning products.
Dry It Up. Dry the clean surfaces with a clean rag. You can use fans to speed this process up if necessary. You will probably still smell smoke odors, as they can take a few days to a few weeks to dissipate. Identify materials that can easily absorb odors, such as upholstered furniture or area rugs, and place these items together in a separate room or outdoors to see if the smell dissipates after a few days. You may want to consider throwing out the items you can stand to part with. Getting your carpeting, curtains, and furniture professionally cleaned will also help with lingering smoke odors. Don’t forget to replace your HVAC filters, which may be circulating smoky air in your home.
Cleaning your home after smoke or soot damage can be a difficult job. If you need assistance, SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids is here to help. With IICRC-certified techniques and state-of-the-art equipment, our trustworthy experts are the best in the fire damage restoration industry.
Storm Damage Prevention Advice for Your Home
Prepare for storms before they hit!
No homeowner gets to choose when a storm is headed his way, but a smart homeowner can choose to be ready for any kind of inclement weather. Today we’re sharing some advice for you that will help to reduce and prevent storm damage from adversely affecting your home and property.
- Roofing. Regular roofing inspections will help you identify issues like minor leaks or missing shingles, allowing you to get them repaired right away. This will help you avoid serious structural damages when severe weather arrives. If your home does suffer storm damage, you can call us here at SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids to schedule repair and cleanup.
- Landscaping. Hard winds and heavy rain will accompany the storms of summer, and dead tree branches, unhealthy vegetation, and unstable trees can cause damage to your property under these conditions. We recommend regularly trimming your plants and trees, removing dead or dying limbs and plants wherever necessary. Replace plantings if some are removed by storms to prevent erosion from heavy rains, too.
- Storm Windows. Invest in high-quality storm windows to prevent leaks and other storm damage. These do a great job of protecting window glass, adding an extra layer of safety to your home’s interior against the wind and rain.
- Entrance and Parking. Keep your driveway and your entrance in good repair, replacing buckling concrete or stepping stones and filling in potholes ahead of inclement weather. Your friends and family’s safety is important to you, we know, and this important step goes a long way towards ensuring that no one gets hurt during the storms of summer.
- Basements. Keep an eye on all low lying areas of your home, like your basement. This is where leaks will show up and often go unnoticed, so taking a close look before and after wet weather will help you spot a problem right away.
For more tips on preventing storm damage, contact us here at SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids for assistance. We specialize in cleanup from water and fire damage, no matter the size. We are also mold remediation specialists. Visit us online for a complete list of our services. You can call us at (616) 662-9700 at any hour for assistance. We’re available 24/7.
5 Ways to Prevent Water Damage In Your Commercial Building
Be on guard against water damage—it can happen at any time!
As a wise business owner, you know that damage prevention is always going to save you both time and money, and preventing damage from water is one of the most important prevention focuses you can have. Water damage is at the top of the list of mishaps a business can suffer from and the cleanup for this kind of event can be extensive, so today we want to share five ways to prevent water damage in your commercial building.
- REGULAR MAINTENANCE. This is the number one way to prevent damage from water. Whether we are talking about the drainage areas for your entrances and your parking lots, or we are discussing leaks and floods in kitchen and bathroom areas, many times you can avoid these kinds of events through regular maintenance. Identify the areas on and around your premises that are the biggest risk, and schedule regular inspections and repairs for these areas.
- VIGILANCE. Instruct your workforce to say something if they see something. When an area is damp that should not be, something needs to be communicated. Additionally, when equipment that uses water, like dishwashers or commercial kitchen sinks, is not functioning properly, encourage your employees to let you know right away.
- WEATHER. If the weather news people are projecting a wet season, make it part of your daily routine to look around your grounds for overflowing ditches or gutters after heavy rains and storms. Take note of standing water, too. Issues like these can cause erosion and potholes, not to mention breed mosquitoes.
- RESTAURANTS/CAFES. If you own a restaurant or cafe, make sure the kitchen flooring is always properly taken care of to avoid water damage down the road. Closing after a long, busy evening can be stressful, but it’s not the time to cut corners when it comes to getting everything into shape for the next day.
- IMMEDIATE CLEANUP. If you have a flooding event, large or small, it is always going to be a good idea to get it cleaned up and dried completely as soon as possible.
If you need help with a cleanup for water damage, large or small, here at SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids we are always ready to help. You can call us at (616) 662-9700
for assistance with fire damage and mold remediation, too.
Fire Prevention Tips for your Office
Having proper equipment to prevent fires is important.
Studies have shown that most business fires occur while the premises are not populated, between the hours of 7 pm and 7 am, causing a large amount of damage. Commercial fires, caused by cooking equipment, are also potentially devastating, but surprisingly, the most damaging ones start in an office environment! Here are some fire prevention tips to help lower the odds your office is affected by fire.
Have A Plan. Designating someone as your “safety officer” is one step you can take that will really help. He or she can take the lead in establishing appropriate escape routes and meeting places, and setting up appropriate emergency procedures, as well. Your employees should be aware that the safety officer is in charge during any emergency and will be the one responsible for contacting emergency personnel, keeping track of employees, and assisting with providing information on equipment and chemicals kept in your office. An up-to-date emergency contact list should always be available at your place of business, and you should designate someone to be in charge of contacting family members or next-of-kin, in case of injury or a missing person.
Have Proper Equipment. There are specific items you will need to have on hand in advance of a fire, such as fire extinguishers and smoke alarms, and these are required through local building codes, so they should be present. Alarms and extinguishers need to be inspected monthly and replaced when necessary. You will also want to have a fully-stocked first aid kit and bottled water on hand, as well as flashlights, just in case.
Hold Regular Drills. Your safety officer should schedule regular drills and training to make sure everyone is well-versed in what to do in case of an emergency, such as an office fire. During these drills, new emergency response information can be shared to keep everyone up to date.
Follow these Preventive Tips to prevent a fire in the first place:
- Follow manufacturers’ recommendations for maximum volt/wattage load for surge protectors, power strips and adapters, and ask your electrician to periodically inspect these items and outlets for potential overload.
- Replace frayed power cords and never run them under rugs or carpeting. Use cord protectors, instead.
- Unplug appliances (coffeemakers, microwaves) and other equipment not in use at the end of the day and over the weekend.
- Replace appliances that feel warm or hot to touch.
- Ask the fire marshal to inspect chemical and equipment storage areas periodically to ensure proper ventilation and stowage.
- Store hazardous materials according to manufacturers’ instructions and OSHA regulations. Clearly mark these items to help emergency personnel identify and stabilize them.
- Don’t prop fire doors open or block exits with furniture or boxes.
- Don’t allow paper and other trash to accumulate outside of garbage or recycling receptacles, and never store this material near hot equipment, electrical outlets or the smoking areas.
- Don’t permit employees to burn candles, scented oils, etc. in their personal work areas.
Our SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids team is here to help you in the event of damage from fire or water. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and we are mold prevention and remediation specialists, too!
The 3 Most Common Places to Check for Mold Growth
Make it a habit to regularly check under your sink for mold growth.
Mold. The mere mention of the word brings to mind all the unpleasant aspects of this organism - the unsightly black, red, or gray spots that appear, its odors, and the allergic reactions that many people experience when mold moves in. We all know that it can be very beneficial, though, by helping to create various cheeses and alleviate sickness, for example. But when we find it in our home or business, we forget about its benefits.
Keeping an eye out for mold growth in your house or place of business is a great way to prevent a colony from becoming established, protecting your possessions and the people you care about from being negatively impacted by its arrival.
Here are three of the most common places you will find mold:
Under The Sink. Sinks often spring small leaks, and we may not even realize it for quite some time. A tiny leak in the darkness of a cabinet or at the base of a sink pedestal that goes unnoticed is prime real estate for a mold colony. When you are doing your regular inspections, this type of space is the first place you should check for mold growth.
Behind Appliances. The refrigerator, dishwasher, and washer are heavily used household items that involve large amounts of water, of course. They can also spring small leaks easily, and unless you look behind them or under them, you might never notice. These areas are also perfect places for mold spores to settle down.
Basements/Low-Lying Areas. Low-lying areas and basements can often experience damp conditions, especially during warm, wet weather. Windows that are not properly caulked, or roofing and rain gutters that haven’t been properly maintained, can allow water to reach these areas and create the dampness that mold just loves to inhabit.
When it comes to mold, remember that the SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids team is here to help. We are mold prevention and remediation specialists! We are also experienced in the areas of fire and water damage, too, and we’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Preventing Flooding in Your Grand Rapids Office
If you're dealing with flooding, give us a call! We can help you out.
We all know what water damage to a business looks like after a flood or during heavy rainfall. Oftentimes, events such as these are unexpected, so it’s just good business to be prepared for this type of event.
Here are some tips to help you prevent flooding in your Grand Rapids office:
- INSPECTIONS. Take a good look around your place of business to ensure that you are prepared for wet weather. Check exterior doors to see if they fit as tightly as they should and that both doors and windows are properly weather-stripped. A small leak can easily turn into a small flood in your office space. Your office parking lot or driveway needs to have a well-planned drainage system so entering and exiting your building can be safe even during wet weather. Flooding in your parking areas can bring your business to a halt. If you know you’ll see a lot of run-off from the parking area, consider using sandbags. Low-lying buildings next to a parking lot full of water can end up flooding, and you will want to plan ahead to prevent that from happening.
- COMMUNICATE WITH PUBLIC SERVICES. Drainage areas that are maintained by the city or county should be monitored, especially during heavy rains. If these spots begin to overflow, contact your city representatives immediately. Keep them updated about the rivers and streams in your area, as well. If there is a problem developing, you can take steps to sandbag vulnerable areas around your office building.
- INTERIORS. Some flooding isn’t caused by weather, it’s caused by an equipment failure. Make sure your plumbing and appliances are regularly inspected and maintained so that you don’t walk into a mess on a Monday morning. It’s all about preparedness.
The team here at SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids is ready to help in any way we can. We have the expertise to handle water and fire damage, and we specialize in mold remediation. If you have sustained water damage to your property, give us a call today at (616) 662-9700, or visit us on our website.
Five Steps to Storm-Proofing Your Garage
Make sure to equip your garage to prevent storm damage!
Make storm-proofing your attached garage a priority when planning to protect your home from storms. Being one of the largest spaces in any home, your garage is also the most vulnerable place when it comes to high winds. Here are some tips to storm-proof your garage, which will also protect the rest of your home:
- High Impact Ratings. Storms with extreme wind will cause the most damage; when a garage is breached, the rest of your home is at risk. Water can come in, and even just an inch of water can cause expensive and unwanted damage. If you live in an area prone to tornadoes, it is recommended that you invest in a door that can withstand winds of 130 mph or higher. Doors with high impact-ratings will protect your home and belongings from flying debris.
- Bracing system. You can reinforce your garage door with a proper bracing system. Most garage doors are secured only by the tracks or hinges, which will be of no benefit during a powerful storm. A bracing system works by anchoring the door to the walls and floors and into each hinge.
- Maintenance. If there are any holes, cracks, or breaches in your garage door, that will allow storm winds through. Perform a monthly inspection looking for these types of issues as well as problems with the weather stripping or any parts of the garage door mechanisms and functionality to ensure that any repairs are performed as soon as possible.
- Secure all windows. If you have windows in your attached garage, these are considered weak points during extreme weather. Ensure they are in good repair and the weather stripping is strong at all times. Having wrought-iron window protection installed can also be a protective addition to keep your glass safe from flying debris.
- Install drainage and flood vents. Make sure that your entire home is properly outfitted for the drainage of large amounts of water. You can have a trench drain installed around your home and on the sides of your driveway to divert water, and flood vents inside the garage can quickly drain any water coming inside before levels rise and cause damage.
Here at SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids, we are always ready to help you if you experience water or fire damages; whether at home or in a commercial setting. Contact us today by phone at (616) 662-9700, or visit us on our website.
Tips to Prevent Mold Damage in Your Home
Mold can wreak havoc on your home. Take preventive measures today!
The very mention of the word “mold” is enough to make anyone uncomfortable. We all know that mold can be beneficial, such as when used in penicillin or the making of cheeses, and we are aware of its role in the decomposition of organic matter, but when it comes to finding it in our homes, that is a different matter!
Mold spores spread easily and can never be completely eradicated. It can grow almost anywhere, too: carpet, clothing, food, and other places we never see. It is very difficult and costly to manage once it is detected. It can also produce irritants, allergens, and even toxins that can compromise your health--that’s what makes it such a serious matter when it takes hold in our living spaces.
Here are some tips to help you prevent mold damage in your home:
Identify issues. You can't mold-proof your home, but you can make it mold-resistant. Do an audit of your home and determine the main weak spots. Does your basement flood? Do you notice frequent condensation on an upstairs window, or perhaps a water stain on the ceiling from a persistent leak? Preventing mold from growing or spreading might be as simple as removing carpet in a damp basement, installing mold-resistant products, or repairing damaged gutters. Whatever the case may be, address the problem now.
Dry wet areas immediately. Mold can't grow without moisture, so take care of wet areas right away. Any wet areas should be dried within 24 to 48 hours. Even everyday wet areas need attention: don't leave wet items lying around the house, and make sure to dry the floor and walls after a shower. Don't leave wet clothes in the washing machine, where mold can spread quickly. Hang them to dry outside or in areas with good air circulation.
Proper ventilation. Make sure an activity as simple as cooking dinner, taking a shower, or doing a load of laundry doesn't invite mold by providing proper ventilation in your bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, and any other high-moisture area. Use A/C units and dehumidifiers, but make sure they don’t produce moisture themselves by checking them periodically and cleaning them as directed by the manufacturer.
Use mold-resistant products. Use mold-resistant products like mold-resistant drywall or mold-resistant Sheetrock, and use mold inhibitors for paints when building or renovating.
Direct water away from your home. If the ground around your home isn't sufficiently sloped away from the foundation, water may collect there and seep into your crawlspace or basement. You may be experiencing leakage just because your gutters are full or damaged. Have your roof gutters cleaned and inspected regularly to make sure they are sending water away from your structure. Repair them as necessary, and keep an eye out for water stains after storms that may indicate a leak has started.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to mold prevention. Knowing what works for your climate and your home is an important first step, and always keep in mind that the SERVPRO team at SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids is here to help with any mold issues. We also handle damages from fire or water, such as flooding. Contact us today by phone at (616) 662-9700, or visit us on our website.
How to Prepare Your Grand Rapids Home for Spring
Spring brings showers...which can bring water damage. Call us today to help out!
There is often still some snow on the ground this time of year in Grand Rapids, but the obvious signs of springtime are around us, too. You can see buds on the trees and the daffodils are showing their faces. We know you are more than ready for warmer weather, but what about your home?
Here are a few things to think about when it comes to preparing your Grand Rapids home for Spring:
Rain Gutters. These should be first on your to-do list. They can be full of dead leaves, small branches, and even dirt from winter weather. Clean out all rain gutters right away so the spring showers don’t cause mold problems and water damage to interior walls, and make sure the downspouts are directing water the right way, as well. The winter weather here in Grand Rapids could have caused them to change position.
Roofing. Did your roof fare well during the winter? As the melting begins, keep an eye on it to see if any leaks have started over the past few weeks and months. Take a look at any vents to see if vegetation or mold has taken hold.
Filters. The filters in your HVAC unit will probably need to be changed at this point, and you will want to clean out ducts, vents, and the system itself. Ductwork can be hard to check, so keep in mind that the SERVPRO team at SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids is always ready to come out and help.
Windows. Now is a good time to inspect windows for storm and water damage. Cracks, damaged weather stripping, improper fit: all these issues can cause problems down the road. Make arrangements to get your windows professionally cleaned and ready to enjoy the warmth and sunshine.
Foundations. Remove any remaining snow 3 to 5 feet away from your foundations and inspect them for cracks caused by winter weather conditions. These can be caulked and sealed as soon as you notice them.
Irrigation Systems. Check sprinkler systems and replace anything that has been affected by freezing conditions.
If you notice any really severe damage from winter storms during your inspections, don’t forget to take pictures for insurance purposes. If you need to make a claim of any kind, photos will come in handy.
You can rely on SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids for all your repairs and clean-up needs. We specialize in water and storm damage, fire damage, and mold prevention. You can contact us by phone at (616) 662-9700, or visit us on our website.