Halloween Fire Safety Tips
Whenever there's a reason to dress up at work, SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh East likes to really let it all out. It's not rare to see those of us here with devil horns or witch hats on as early as October 1. We don't fool around when there's any excuse for us to act a little "extra". Many of us here are currently decking our houses with massive lighting, animatronic corpses, fog machines, microphones, you name it, all in the spirit of the holiday. What does all of this need? Loads of energy and that kind of power, gone unchecked can cause massive power surges or even fires. If you're not careful, "Halloween Nightmares" could become an all too real thing, unlike the plastic animatronics and fake monsters. So, how do we prevent this?
A common theme that many people can have when setting up their haunted houses is making it look a bit like a farmhouse. It's not uncommon to see dried out corn stalks, hay bales, or even just piles of wood sat out in front of people's houses. Generally speaking, leaving these things out around open flames or machines liable to cause fires, is not the greatest idea.
Along with the previous statement. Who doesn't love a good jack-o-lantern. We sure do. Something to keep in mind is that most times, people will use open flames in jack-o-lanterns or in luminaries and this can be another huge fire hazard if you're not careful. We suggest switching these over to LED lights. They're reusable, safer, and come in a whole wide range of colors.
- Keep An Eye on Your Costume
Another common problem is wardrobe malfunctions. Long draping sashes, Flowing Dresses, Acrylic hair pieces, bits of string, all of these things can get caught over an open flame, or stuck in some sort of machinery and cause some serious issues.
- Always Check Your Equipment
We all might have that one person, maybe it's you, who decides to pull out some sort of heavy power tools or farm equipment and drop them in the front lawn. Always make sure to check your equipment before starting it up. Gas caps, saw blades, fuel lines, extension cords, make sure to practice proper safety if you decide to mess with heavy machinery on Halloween night.
Especially those that are set outside exposed to the elements. We here at SERVPRO know a lot about "daisy-chaining" heavy loads of power and how to do it safely, it's part of the job, but it can get messy fast. Always make sure how much power you're putting in, and how much the outlet can take before you plug anything in, especially if your house looks like a death metal album cover.
Accident prevention is the key to making smart, calculated decisions that could cost you in the long run. We always strive to provide customers with solutions to everyday problems in hopes that they will never need our services again. We know how hard house fires can be for families and we will always be here to get people back on their feet in their time of need. If all else fails, remember, you can always call on your local SERVPRO for assistance.
Job of the Quarter (Q4 2020)
PrimeCare Medical Rebuild
It’s no secret that 2020 has thrown us many wide-ranging, strange challenges. In order to thrive this year, we’ve learned that embracing a “let’s figure it out” attitude by seeking alternatives and adapting to the curveballs that have been thrown at us is key. In fact, this kind of attitude isn’t just helpful in the face of unpredictability, but at any point in time.
We have “7 Pillars” that we value at Team Wall: Solutions, Hustle, Persistence, Team, Accountability, Consistency, and Quality. Every day, our team is expected to embody these 7 Pillars. They’re more than just buzzwords. They’re the very aspects of our customer service that set us apart.
What we look for when choosing the “Job of the Quarter” is an example of all 7 Pillars at work. This quarter, it was our work at PrimeCare Medical without question. In addition to displaying our 7 Pillars, this job also debunked a stereotype that SERVPRO “doesn’t do rebuild work”, which simply isn’t true. Here at SERVPRO, we handle everything, from the beginning of the job to the very end.
Our phone rang just after 3 AM with a request for emergency water mitigation services at a Harrisburg office building that had undergone a sprinkler head malfunction. As a result, the building had suffered water damage to its structure and a water discharge that affected over 2 dozen offices on the second floor. Our team arrived onsite and began work by 4:20 AM that same morning. We mean it when we say that our response time is second to none.
We met with the building’s ownership later that morning and finalized a plan to execute the rebuild as soon as we finished our mitigation and demo process. While that may sound like a quick conversation, a large portion was spent discussing the subject of “Rebuild” because the ownership wasn’t aware that SERVPRO carried out reconstruction work. Because of this, they were hesitant to put this job into our hands, but our lead time was what secured the job. We are able to begin reconstruction work just one day after the completion of mitigation services. When using several vendors, that turnaround time is difficult to match, especially in commercial work when as we all know, time is of the essence.
Our team finished the water mitigation and demo process for the contents and structure of the building throughout the following 3 ½ weeks with our trademark hustle. All the while, we were busy planning behind the scenes for the reconstruction work on the affected areas. We promised the ownership a 60-day turnaround time. In order to execute the job on time, we knew that planning and preparation would be critical.
We succeeded and fulfilled the customer’s requests, leaving the customer so pleased that they gave us additional repair work to put the finishing touches on the building’s restoration and rebuild operation. We committed to completing this additional repair work within 30 days in order to get the company back in their building as soon as possible.
Every job is unique, which is why we make it a point to communicate with our customers on a regular basis, ensuring that our work is meeting their specific needs. Throughout this job, we were in regular contact with the customer as well as key stakeholders, updating them on our progress.
After any disaster, SERVPRO Disaster Recovery Team - Team Wall aims to be your “one-stop-shop”. Over the years, our Reconstruction department has grown into a strong, talented team that lives up to that famous SERVPRO motto, “Like it never even happened.” The opportunity to help companies such as PrimeCare Medical is something for which we are grateful every day and we look forward to future opportunities to do the same for you and your customers.
Running Towards the Storm
Have you ever experienced the eerie, strange feeling when you’re coasting down the highway, the sole person driving southbound out of all four lanes, but on the northbound side, you see cars sitting bumper to bumper and wonder, “What did I just miss?”
Here at SERVPRO, that feeling arises often, but we don’t necessarily consider it eerie. It’s just what we do. Floods, hurricanes, wildfires, and natural disasters propel us toward the storm while everyone else is leaving town, and we arrive prepared to get right to work.
Is this easy? Absolutely not. Easy will never be an adjective used to describe our storm response work. However, is it worth it? Yes, in every aspect of the word.
Just this year, we were able to help businesses and homes in Chicago, IL; Cleveland, OH; Philadelphia, PA; Saginaw, MI; Washington DC; Bear, DE; Cleveland, OH (again); and as of late, Orange Beach, AL and Pensacola, FL. And there are still 3 months left in the year.
Our Vision Statement here at Team Wall is “Restore peace of mind to EVERY customer. EVERY day.” We keep this in mind every day at home, but it takes on a whole new meaning when we’re racing toward storms, getting ready to help people in need. Mother Nature, a force that’s completely out of anyone’s control, has the power to change lives overnight. Our experienced team members are sent to support those affected throughout each step of the restoration process. Every step, whether it’s demolition, drying, rebuild, or even insurance coverage and approvals, brings new challenges. Our job is to be the advocate and facilitator for our customers while they work through a life-altering event and it’s what we love to do.
Our team that is currently responding to Hurricane Sally’s storm damage deserves a special shoutout. You are essential and we cannot even begin to thank you for your effort!
Preventing Dryer Fires
Beyond cleaning out the lint filter before and after every use, there are several other steps that you can take to avoid a fire igniting.
It’s known that residential fires can be devastating, spreading to other areas of the home in the blink of an eye and inflicting serious damage in their wake. One cause of residential fires that may come as a surprise is your clothes dryer. Out of all residential fires that emanate from the laundry room, dryer fires count for an impressive 92%, according to the National Fire Protection Agency. We use our clothes dryers every day, so it is important to know how to prevent an unwanted fire in the laundry room. Let’s talk about what causes dryer fires so that you can use that information to keep your home safe.
Clean That Lint Filter!
The leading cause of dryer fires is not cleaning them, which is something that can easily be remedied. Every time that you use the dryer, lint accumulates in the lint trap, which in turn reduces airflow. Lint is highly flammable, so it is of the utmost importance that you clean the lint filter not once a week or even once every few days, but before and after every use. This simple action can make a huge difference in keeping your dryer working efficiently and decreasing the chances of a dryer fire.
Other Ways to Prevent Dryer Fires
Beyond cleaning out the lint filter before and after every use, there are several other steps that you can take to avoid a fire igniting.
- Move Flammable Objects Away from the Dryer
Sometimes, the laundry room can become a storage area for household cleaning supplies and other flammable liquids. Be sure to keep these items away from the dryer in order to decrease the likelihood of a fire spreading quickly, should one ignite.
- Pay Close Attention To Clothing Labels
Most fabric items, such as clothes, towels, and linens, include a tag that details specific directions for washing and drying. These drying directions can vary from “high heat” to “tumble dry low”. It is important to follow those instructions, as drying an item on “high heat” when it actually calls for “tumble dry low” could result in a fire.
- Check the Outdoor Vent Flap
Clothes dryers have an outdoor vent flap, which enables hot air and lint to escape the unit. In order to prevent a fire, it is critical that the vent flap is not blocked by debris of any sort.
If Disaster Strikes…
Accidents happen. While dryer fires and any fire damage that they bring upon your home can be upsetting, remember that SERVPRO is always just a call away. Working quickly, our team of fire damage experts will restore your home, making your dryer fire “Like it never even happened.” Learn more about our residential fire damage services here and call SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh East for professional fire damage restoration today.
How to Prevent a Sub Pump Failure
Sump pumps, drainage systems often employed in the basements of commercial buildings, protect buildings from the harmful effects of flooding and water damage by pumping water out of the basement. The failure of a building’s sump pump can be catastrophic, threatening the safety of a commercial building’s important documents, objects, and furniture. Your commercial business can take actions to prevent your building from suffering a sump pump failure by understanding various reasons as to why sump pumps might fail in the first place.
Your risk of a sump pump failure is heightened when your unit isn’t undergoing maintenance on a regular basis. Make sure to regularly check that your sump pump’s vents are working properly and consider running a vinegar solution through the unit for cleaning in order to keep things running smoothly.
It is also important to think about the age of your sump pump. Because sump pumps endure their fair share of wear and tear over the years, it is not uncommon for sump pumps to fail after 7-10 years. You can prevent a disastrous failure by keeping a closer eye on your sump pump as it nears this age range and consider replacing the unit if it begins to malfunction.
Sump pumps are also at a greater risk for failure during hurricane season and the summer months due to turbulent summer storms. Storms can serve as a double-whammy for sump pumps, as they often bring large amounts of rain and occasionally, power outages. Without electricity, sump pumps will not be able to complete their job of pumping rainwater away from the building. Hooking your business’ sump pump up to a backup generator can help your sump pump continue to run smoothly and avoid a failure.
Sump Pump Failure? Call SERVPRO
Sump pump failures can be overwhelming, but it’s important to remember that SERVPRO and our team of commercial water damage experts have your back. We are experienced in sump pump failures and will tailor our water damage restoration services to your business’ specific needs. For more information about our commercial water damage services, click here. To schedule your consultation, call SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh East today at (412) 672-5400 today.
3 Common Sources of Water Damage in the Kitchen
The sink is probably the first kitchen appliance that comes to mind when you think of water usage.
No area of the home is completely immune to water damage; it can occur anywhere. The kitchen is particularly at risk for water damage due to the amount of water required for everyday tasks such as washing dishes and preparing meals. Because water damage can have devastating consequences, it is beneficial to understand which areas of the kitchen are at the greatest risk for leaks. Keep reading to gain more information about 3 areas of the kitchen that most frequently experience leaks that could lead to water damage.
- The Refrigerator and Ice Maker
During the summer, a cold, refreshing glass of water makes all the difference on a hot day. The refrigerator and ice maker make this possible by producing ice, but ice makers seem to frequently generate leaks. From improper installation to parts becoming damaged or worn-out, ice makers can leak for a handful of reasons. Puddles of water on the floor beneath the fridge and ice maker are usually good indicators that there is a leak. To prevent water damage, be on the lookout for water on the floor and make sure that the refrigerator and ice maker undergo regular maintenance and inspection.
We load and unload our dishwashers in order to clean silverware, plates, and cups on a daily basis, sometimes even multiple times a day. The amount of water required to carry out this task is tremendous and combined with the fact that the dishwasher is used so frequently, dishwashers pose a significant threat to the kitchen. Dishwashers can create water damage by leaking or flooding as a result of using the wrong type of detergent, a bent or broken dishwasher door latch, or the dishwasher overfilling with water. Watch out for puddles of water underneath the dishwasher, as it may be the sign of a leak.
The sink is probably the first kitchen appliance that comes to mind when you think of water usage. We use the kitchen sink to fill up a cup of water, wash our hands, and wash dishes, among many other tasks. Water damage can occur when parts of the sink become corroded or when the drain or faucet leaks. About every 6 months, it is beneficial to take a look at the pipes beneath the sink and check for leaks as well as damaged sink parts in order to prevent water damage coming from the sink.
Because of the often costly and devastating effects of water damage, such as structural damage and mold and mildew growth, it is important to do everything in your power to avoid water damage. However, if you do experience water damage in your kitchen, don’t worry. SERVPRO and our team of water damage specialists are here for you. We will arrive on the scene quickly with our advanced drying equipment and techniques in order to make your kitchen water damage “Like it never even happened,” and bring your kitchen back to normal. Call SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh East today at (412) 672-5400 and for more information about our water damage services, click here.
Taking it to the Streets (A Quarterly Newsletter excerpt)
Are you ready for back to school?
The governors of Pennsylvania and Maryland announced way back in mid-March the statewide closures of public schools as a result of growing concerns over COVID-19. Students, parents, and teachers were forced to adapt to the new reality of virtual learning from home. With fall on the horizon, many are wondering: Will students make the return to school this fall or will virtual learning prevail?
Will Students Return to the Classroom?
A recent article titled “Superintendents say schools in Central Maryland unlikely to return to normal in the fall”, published in the Baltimore Sun, outlines Maryland schools’ dilemma as superintendents of Baltimore-area schools assess an array of options for fall reopening. The chances of a return to “in-person classes five days a week” are, according to superintendents, slim (Bowie, 2020). The decision to hold entirely virtual classes this fall has already been made by Pittsburgh Public Schools and several Maryland counties. Meanwhile, many other schools and school districts have announced hybrid methods, providing students with a combination of virtual and in-person classes this fall, or completely virtual instruction.
Schools Consider Different Plans
Colleges and universities throughout the region are considering different hybrid methods of learning. However some institutions, such as Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, have decided that students will take classes online and not return to campus this fall. Both the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Maryland have announced plans to bring students back to campus this fall, though their schedules will consist mostly of virtual classes. In order for students to return safely, both universities have said that they will have safety precautions in place, including mandatory mask wearing and social distancing, as well as providing on-campus isolation facilities (coronavirus.pitt.edu, 2020; umd.edu, 2020). Though the universities’ safety protocols are extensive, will they be enough? That’s the million-dollar question.
SERVPRO Can Help
The models of learning that schools will put in place this fall will differ from institution to institution. Regardless of what decision is made, SERVPRO can provide a solution that fits: our “Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned” program. “Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned” is a disinfectant cleaning program that can be included in your school’s fall reopening plan. The program guarantees a hospital-grade clean that uses EPA approved disinfectants. Through the CSC program, frequently contacted touchpoints in schools, including desktops and chair backs, and less frequently contacted touchpoints, such as the backs of desks and bathroom stall walls, will receive the highest standard of cleaning. Schools can receive defensive CSC cleaning on a regular basis or, if the school has a positive case of COVID-19, the program can be applied for immediate disinfecting. After undergoing a “Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned” cleaning, SERVPRO provides physical and digital signage so schools can display proof that they have received the highest standard of cleaning in order to give students, teachers, and parents peace of mind.
This fall will bring new challenges and its fair share of uncertainty, but you can make certain that your school is ready for anything this fall by integrating SERVPRO’s “Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned” program into your individual reopening plan.
Teaming up with SERVPRO of Frederick County
Our parent franchise SERVPRO Hunt Valley & Harford County was sent to a major fire loss that demanded the creation of a roof in order to prevent any incoming storms from seeping through the remaining condos below. We are always looking for the right technologies to provide all our consumers with the finest quality of operation.
For more information, and progress photos, check out our Facebook post!
"SERVPRO of Hunt Valley & Harford County, along with SERVPRO of Frederick County were recently called to mitigate a devastating condo fire. The roof of the 12 unit building was completely destroyed. Check out these pictures to see the installation progress on the temporary roof and shrink wrap installed last week. This will protect the condo units through the restoration process until a permanent roof can be rebuilt. Isais didn’t stand a chance."
Owners Corner: 2nd Quarter 2020
The Owner’s Corner is a section of our quarterly newsletter in which our owners share their perspective on the past quarter. This quarter, one of our owners, Trish Wall, shared her thoughts on the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on Team Wall:
Back in January, our last quarterly newsletter was published. That was six months ago. Here we are at the end of July with only our second “Quarterly” newsletter of this year. It doesn’t quite add up, does it? You’re not mistaken. I bet you’ll never guess the reason for this… COVID-19.
When I wrote the last Owner’s Corner article, it was New Year’s Eve and I was feeling a plethora of emotions as 2020 sat on our doorstep. I channeled all of my excited, pensive, anxious, and hopeful emotions when I summarized our 2020 strategy: “Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable”. None of us could have imagined just how far-seeing this would be.
COVID-19 impacted everyone in this country in unique ways, both personally and professionally. Our team was challenged on a professional level to take on new, daunting challenges and take change by the reins. On March 11th of this year, we were a restoration company that offered cleaning services. The following day, after completing our first COVID-19 cleaning job, we became a cleaning company that offered restoration services. Nothing’s more uncomfortable than flipping your business model overnight.
Jumping in with both feet, our team immediately stepped up to the challenge. Our company had the tools and resources on hand to help “flatten the curve” and after all, we felt (and still feel) an enormous responsibility to serve our community. It’s been four months since our first COVID-19 cleaning and the efforts that we’ve made to help curtail the pandemic in our community have instilled a wonderful sense of pride in our team members.
The amount of pride that Jim and I hold for our team, however, is even greater. The John Maxwell quote, “Change is Inevitable. Growth is Optional”, comes to mind. When the uncertainties of life during the pandemic surrounded them, our team members consciously chose growth. It was a decision that leaves us in awe to this day.
As owners, we strive to instill a dual sense of continuing professional and personal growth in our team members. Seeing it play out right in front of us over the past few months has been deeply gratifying. During this turbulent time in our country, we are grateful to know that our company has been able to make a positive impact on our community. Even more, we appreciate our team for living out Team Wall’s vision statement, “Restoring peace of mind to EVERY customer. EVERY day”.
We hope that you stay safe, stay healthy, and keep growing!
Jim and Trish Wall
P.S. Among my favorite podcast series is Entreleadership. In May, John Maxwell was featured as a guest in one episode and spoke on the topic of Personal Growth. We found it to be very impactful and think that it would be worth your time to give it a listen: https://www.entreleadership.com/blog/podcasts/john-maxwell-success. Here is one particular thought that I love from this podcast:
“I’m going to live til I die and I’m not going to get the two confused.”
Water Damage After a Toilet Overflow? Here's What To Do
After assessing the situation, it is important to take action right away.
It’s safe to say that a toilet overflow is the last thing that anyone wants in their home. With an overflow comes a mess to clean up and a risk for water damage. The bathroom floor and other nearby surfaces are not the only areas that can experience damage from a toilet overflow, as leaking water may seep down into the ceiling below. In order to protect your home from the unpleasant and potentially devastating effects of a toilet overflow, it is important to learn about what causes toilets to overflow and what to do if a toilet overflows in your home.
What Causes a Toilet Overflow?
There’s no one, specific reason why toilets overflow. Instead, overflows can arise from a variety of complications. However, three instances that commonly cause toilet overflows include a blocked vent pipe, a clogged drain, and sewage complications.
Each time a toilet is flush, external air is needed, which is transported in via the vent pipe. An overflow can occur if the vent pipe becomes blocked, which hinders the toilet’s ability to flush properly. Unfortunately, a blocked vent pipe isn’t a quick fix and the help of an expert plumber will most likely be needed.
Another catalyst of toilet overflows is a clogged drain. When the toilet drain is clogged, water and waste cannot flush correctly, which increases the risk of an overflow. The good news is that this issue can usually be solved by plunging the toilet yourself.
Lastly, two different complications involving sewage systems, a clogged sewer line and a full septic tank, can cause your toilet to overflow. A sewer line can be blocked by debris, tree roots, and sanitary materials. When this happens, your home can be at risk for not just a toilet overflow, but for additional serious damage as well, which can require professional help. Some homes use septic tanks, which collect waste and release excess water into the ground. When a septic tank is full, water cannot be released and moves back up into your home, which has the potential of resulting in an overflow. This is why it is beneficial to have tanks emptied and replaced on a regular basis.
How to Clean Up
Your reaction upon first seeing a toilet overflow in your bathroom may be “oh no!” or “ugh why?”, but immediately after assessing the situation, it is important to take action right away. First, turn off the water and make sure that the overflow has stopped. The next highest priority should be to quickly clean up all standing water by using a wet vacuum, mop, or towels. If water is left sitting on a surface, your bathroom will be at risk for water damage and mold growth. Next, dry out the area to the best of your ability using a high-powered fan or opening windows. This will also help to prevent mold growth and water damage. Finally, be sure to thoroughly clean and disinfect the bathroom.
We’re Water Damage Specialists
Water damage due to a toilet overflow can be minimized if you catch it right away, stop it quickly, and know how to properly clean up. However, it is possible that they may occur when no one is home, causing water from the overflow to damage surfaces. Remember that here at SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh East, we are water damage specialists. Our experienced team will work quickly to get your bathroom back in shape, making it “like it never even happened.” Learn more about our water damage services by clicking here.