Preventing Frozen Pipes
Chicago winters can do a lot of damage on your home or property. It is important to take the proper precautions when the time comes to prevent all the damage you can. Frozen pipes are the culprit behind some of the worst winter-time water damages we see here at SERVPRO of Evanston. While extremely common, frozen pipers are also preventable. Our team at SERVPRO of Evanston has compiled some tips to help you prevent frozen pipes when winter comes. Below Consumer Reports listed some ways to help prevent your pipes from freezing and what you should do to minimize the damage if it does occur.
How to prevent frozen pipes
Some of the steps experts recommend may go against your better instincts of conserving water and heat, but the extra expense is nothing compared with a hefty repair bill. Here’s what to do:
- Keep garage doors closed, especially if there are water supply lines in the garage.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing, especially if your sinks are on an exterior wall. (If you have small children, be sure to remove any harmful cleaners and household chemicals.)
- Let the cold water drip from a faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe—even at a trickle—helps prevent pipes from freezing.
- Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature during day and night. Again, during a cold snap is not the time to set back the thermostat at night to save a few bucks on your heating bill.
- If you plan to be away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
- For the long term, add insulation to attics, basements, and crawl spaces. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in those areas. And to prevent drafts, seal cracks and openings around windows, doors, and at sill plates, where the house rests on its foundation.
What to do if frozen pipes occur
If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, you may well have a frozen pipe. If a pipe has broken, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve, which is usually at the water meter or where the mainline enters the house. If the water is still running and no pipes have burst, you can take the following steps. (Of course, if you suspect a more serious problem, call a plumber.)
- Turn on the faucet. As you heat the frozen pipe and the ice plug begins to melt, you want the water to be able to flow through. Running water through the pipe, as cold as it is, will help melt ice in the pipe.
- Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, or a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. As tempting as it may be, do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, a charcoal stove, or any device with an open flame; the high heat can damage the pipes or even start a fire.
- Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. Check all other faucets in your home to see whether you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.
And don't forget . . . you can always count on SERVPRO of Evanston for all your frozen pipe and water damage needs. Give us a call at 847-763-7010. We are here to help.
Signs of Water Damage
Leaking pipes in the ceiling caused extensive water damage to this customer's home.
Water damage can have detrimental effects on your home or business, and the longer you wait the more damage occurs. This can lead to extensive and costly mitigation. When you do have water damage, the best thing you can do is shut off the water source to prevent further damage. Contacting a plumber is also a good step if the water is coming from somewhere you are unable to turn off yourself. These are just the first steps to preventing further damage and mitigating the problem. The next step is to call the professionals at SERVPRO of Evanston to come out and assess the problem. We have the trained technicians and years of experience in the field to get your home or business looking “Like it never even happened.”
While the experts at SERVPRO of Evanston have the knowledge and experience to spot water damage before it gets too bad, the average home or business owner may not. Because of this, we have compiled a few signs you can look for to spot early water damage.
- Water rings on your ceiling or walls.
- Soft or sagging on your ceiling or walls.
- Wet or soggy carpets.
- Warping in your wood flooring.
When you see these signs, the best thing you can do for your home or business is call the experts immediately before the problem gets worse. Our highly trained technicians are waiting for your call so we can help.
A leaking HVAC can quickly cause extensive damage to your home or commercial building.
Hot summer temperatures and high humidity levels mean more condensation from your HVAC. When your HVAC creates condensation, the water needs to drain somewhere and can quickly clog the lines. This can lead to a broken emergency line or drop pan overflow which can cause water damage to your home or building if not treated properly. So . . . what should you do if this happens and causes water damage? Here’s a few things!
- Call an HVAC company to service your unit. This is probably the easiest and most efficient method, but unfortunately the most expensive.
- Check to make sure your primary condensation line, usually located near the ground outside the home in an area of high foot traffic, is slowly dripping water when your HVAC is on.
- If your primary line is not dripping check the secondary line, usually located somewhere like above a window or door as to be more noticeable when dripping.
- If the primary, or both lines, are not dripping while the unit is on, find a way to flush out or remove the potential blockage. The cleanout will usually be located close to the HVAC main unit. Make sure you thoroughly research how to properly clear your lines before attempting to!
- Check your HVAC unit drip pan, make sure it has no holes or rust around it. If it is damaged you may need to have it replaced.
And . . . the next thing to do is call SERVPRO of Evanston. Our team will come out to do a moisture inspection on your residence or commercial property to verify whether or not any damage has occurred. If there is damage, our trained technicians will develop a mitigation plan to efficiently solve the problem and correct any damage. If you have an HVAC leak, call SERVPRO of Evanston at 847-763-7010.
Firework Safety this Summer
Firework safety can prevent accidents and injury.
With the beginning of the summer and Fourth of July not too far off, we are gonna start seeing a lot of something: fireworks. While the National Safety Council does encourage everyone to enjoy firework displays put on by professionals, it is advised that we leave it only to the professionals. You really should not attempt to light off fireworks on your own, even if they are legal in your area. Fireworks can cause serious burn and eyes injuries to children and even adults if they malfunction or are not handled properly. SERVPRO of Evanston knows the danger and devastation fireworks can cause if you end up accidentally starting a fire. To help keep you safe this summer, we have compiled a few tips on how to safely use or be around fireworks this summer if you choose to do so.
- Never allow children to handle fireworks.
- Do not use fireworks if impaired by drugs or alcohol.
- When using fireworks or standing nearby, protective eyewear should be used.
- Never light fireworks indoors and use them away from people, houses, and flammable materials.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Have a bucket of water or hose nearby.
- Do not try to make your own fireworks.
- Never relight a dud.
- Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them in the garbage.
- Do not use illegal fireworks.
- Do not shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.
In the tragic event of a fire from any cause, SERVPRO of Evanston is always ready to help. With a quick response time and efficient work, we can make it “Like it never even happened,” in no time so you can get back to enjoying your summer.
Levels of Commercial Losses
One area SERVPRO of Evanston specializes in is handling damage on commercial properties whether it be fire damage, water damage, or even property damage due to natural disasters. We know that no matter the cause of damage, downtime due to damage on your property can be costly to both your business and your customers.
One tool we use to assess property damage to begin the mitigation process is a grading system. Commercial property damage can be graded on a scale of one to three based on the size of the area and the extent of damage present.
Level 1 commercial losses typically involve affected spaces of 15,000 square feet or less. A level 1 loss may be a small, stand-alone establishment such as a restaurant, small church, small warehouse, or daycare facility or it could be a small portion of a larger structure.
A level 2 loss usually involves anywhere from 15,000 to 60,000 square feet of affected floor space. These buildings are usually multi-level or greatly divided spaces that may include small multi-family homes, midsize churches or schools, a small shopping center, or a midsize warehouse. A level 2 loss may also be a portion of a much larger structure.
Level 3 commercial losses typically involve more than 60,000 square feet of affected floor space. These may include, but are not limited to, large multilevel structures such as hospitals, schools, or universities. A level 3 commercial damage is officially considered a “large loss.”
Leading Causes for Commercial Fires
The best kind of fire is one that never happens.
Our SERVPRO of Evanston team has seen the catastrophic damage that can occur when a fire ravages a commercial building. A fire in your commercial building can cost your business large amounts of money in downtime and inventory loss, not to mention possibly put the lives of your employees at risk. Being prepared is the key to preventing fires and minimizing the damage when they do occur. The United States Fire Administration has compiled data to put together a list of the top five causes of fires in commercial buildings from the last decade. We hope that being conscious of these can help your business in planning and prevention.
Top 5 Causes of Fires in Commercial Buildings
- Cooking. Fires that began in the kitchen and escalated out of control contributed 30,900 fires to the past decade. Remind your team that it is important to be careful and aware of your surroundings in the kitchen
- Unintentional and careless behavior. This category includes accidents which lead to fires and contributes around 10,900 fires.
- Arson. Arson, or intentionally set fires, accounted for 9,800 fires. Talk about an unhappy customer.
- Electrical malfunction. Electrical or wiring problems resulted in around 7,000 fires.
- Heating problems. Issues with HVAC systems lead to around 6,000 fires in the last decade.
Prevention is very important to avoiding a fire, however sometimes they are inevitable. As a business itself, SERVPRO of Evanston knows that time lost is money lost. We are equipped and ready to help you restore your business in the event that a fire does occur so that you can get back to work. For emergency fire services, you can contact us 24/7 at 847-763-7010.
It is important to be ready for a tornado.
Living in the Midwest, we are at an increased risk for tornadoes already. On top of that, according to the AccuWeather forecast for 2020 the United States should experience about 1,350 to 1,450 tornadoes this season -- more than the normal average. The U.S. tornado season typically runs from March through November, and as May is coming to a close, we are right in the heart of it. 2020 has already been the deadliest tornado season since 2011 and it is nowhere near over yet. While we cannot control the weather, it is important to make sure we are prepared for when the worst comes. There are a number of ways you can be ready for a tornado if it comes.
Being Ready Ahead of Time
- Know when the area you live in is at risk.
- Know the signs of a tornado (rotating funnel-shaped cloud, an approaching cloud of debris, a loud roar).
- Sign up for your community's warning system.
- Pay attention to weather reports.
- Identify a safe shelter.
Safety During a Tornado
- Immediately go to your safe location.
- Shield your head and neck with your arms or by putting furniture or blankets around you.
- Listen to local weather stations for emergency information and instructions.
- Do not try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle.
Staying Safe After a Tornado
- Keep listening to the weather channel for updated information.
- If trapped, cover your mouth with a cloth of mask to avoid breathing in dust. Send a text, bang something on a wall, or whistle instead of shouting for help.
- Stay away from fallen power lines or broken utility lines.
- Do not enter a damaged building until you are told they are safe.
And remember that in the event of a tornado, SERVPRO of Evanston is always ready to help with the cleanup.
Sump Pumps and Sump Pump Backups
Sump pump maintenance can prevent backup.
A sump pump is a small pump installed into the lowest portion of a basement or crawlspace serving the purpose of keeping the area under the building dry. It pumps water under the building away from it to prevent flooding. Clogging or loss of power are two things among many that can lead to back up from your sump pump. When a sump pump backs up it can cause flooding that can possibly lead to thousands of dollars in damage and mold if the area is not dried properly.
Proper maintenance and routine inspection can help to prevent the problems that occur when a sump pump fails. Cleaning your sump pump is one way to extend its life and make sure that it stays working properly. Running a vinegar solution through the pump can be done to clean it. Removing any dirt or debris and making sure all vents and air holes are clean can also help to ensure it stays in working order.
In the event that cleaning and maintenance does not prevent sump pump backup, SERVPRO of Evanston is prepared to help you in situations of flooding, water damage, and mold from water backup into your home. Our team is equipped with the proper training and equipment to quickly resolve the problem, minimizing the stress that flooding in your home can cause.
The Problem with Mold
Mold growth due to excessive moisture.
Mold is a common finding throughout many homes and buildings, and it is most common in or around areas that contain a lot of moisture. These may be areas around leaks, roofs, windows, pipes, or areas where there has been previous flooding. Mold is able to thrive on a number of surfaces including paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood, wallpaper, carpet, and upholstery -- all things very common throughout the average home.
If you have an ongoing moisture problem in your building, it is important to be on the lookout for the following signs:
- The presence of visible mold.
- Strong musty odors that might indicate mold is present.
- Any evidence of past moisture problems.
- Excess humidity.
Aside from being just plain annoying, mold can have a number of adverse health effects on you or your family when it is growing inside your home. The health effects make it very important to resolve a mold problem when one is present.
Here are a few things you can do to help prevent mold growth:
- Control humidity levels.
- Promptly fix leaky roofs, windows, and pipes.
- Thoroughly clean and dry after flooding.
- Ventilating shower, laundry, and cooking areas.
For help with a mold problem in your home, you can call SERVPRO of Evanston.
We Do the Dirty Jobs Too: Biohazard and Crime Scene Cleaning
You should never attempt to clean biohazard yourself. Leave it to the professionals!
Biohazard and crime scenes can often hide dangerous contaminants. Exposure to biological and chemical contaminants can put occupants, employees, and owners at risk for serious adverse health effects. We know this is something no business owner wants to be responsible for.
One example of a biohazard you should never attempt to clean yourself is blood. Blood can house a number of transmissible pathogens including HIV, HBV, and HCV. C. diff and MRSA can also be easily transmitted through blood causing deadly infections. Because of this you should never attempt to handle or clean up some elses blood. When attempting to clean blood, there is also significant risk of just diluting the contaminants, instead of eliminating them all together. Any blood spills, whether they be from accidents or crimes, require professional biohazard cleaning that the average person is not trained to perform safely.
SERVPRO Franchise Professionals are trained to properly remove and dispose of harmful bodily fluids including blood. SERVPRO of Evanston is equipped with the necessary safety equipment and cleaning products to help restore contaminated environments so that they are safe to live and work in once again.
SERVPRO of Evanston has the training and expertise to handle a number of biohazard and crime scene cleanup services including:
- Bloodborne pathogens
- Methamphetamine labs
- Crime scene residues
- Sewage backups
- Black water intrusions