Spring Break Home Safety Tips
Getting away from the snow and cold is great this time of year! Just make sure your home is prepared for your absence.
With Northland schools starting their Spring Break, most of us are also starting our vacations. Going on vacation should be relaxing and worry-free which is why it is important to make sure your home is secure before you leave for your trip. Here at SERVPRO of The Twin Ports, we want you to be ready so you don’t come back to damages in your home.
Make Arrangements with an Emergency Contact
- Entrust a close friend or family member with your trip itinerary and contact information so they can contact you if anything happens at your home.
- Set various house lights on a timer to give the impression that someone is home.
- Leave written directions for alarm codes, doors, or other information needed to properly care for your home.
- Have a friend or family member collect your mail and paper for you daily. Full mailboxes and porches can tip potential burglars off.
- Contact the US Post Office and your local newspaper and ask to have your mail held and services suspended if someone cannot collect them for you.
Take Plumbing and Electric Precautions
- Prevent leaks and floods from damaging your home by shutting off gas and water at the meter, supply tank or appliances. Your local Duluth water company can help with this.
- Turn off the water valves to washing machines, sinks, and the dishwasher.
- Unplug electronics to cut down on any possible shortages which could potentially cause a disastrous fire.
- Double check your smoke detectors to ensure they are working properly.
- Adjust your thermostat for the season in the winter to 55-60 and in the summer to 75-80 to help control usage.
The Day of Departure
- Let your security company know that you are leaving town, and leave them the name of an alternate contact in case of an emergency.
- Take out all trash in the home and clear the fridge of anything that will perish while you are away.
- Go on one last walk-through of your home to secure windows, blinds, fences, doors, and plugs. This will ensure all entries are safe from hazardous obstructions.
If you come back from vacation and do find damage within your home, call SERVPRO of The Twin Ports (218) 727-2575. The sooner you call us, the sooner we can make it “Like it never even happened.”
Frozen Ground + Rain = Flooded Basements
Flooded basements can be costly to repair. The quicker action is taken to remove unwanted water, the lower the cost will be.
With February's record snowfall keeping the ground frozen and rain picking up throughout the rest of the week, the potential for flooding is exceptionally high. Below are some tips and tricks to dealing with this issue.
Keep water away from your house
Dig out trenches in the snow to direct water away from foundations and entry points *REMEMBER: Water flows downhill - make sure trenches are sloped accordingly*
Remove as much snow from your roof as possible
If you have ice dams, put ice melt on them to free up your gutters
Test your sump-pump - Pour 5 gallons of hot water into your sump pump pit; make sure it is clear on the outside and that water is flowing away from your home
If you have water inside ...
Mitigate as soon as possible! Quick action saves property and money!
- Control the water that gets inside your house by directing the flow toward drains
- Remove absorbent materials from the water path (clothing, rugs, carpets & padding, etc.)
- Call your insurance agent and file a claim
*NOTE: Some water losses are covered, others are not -- your agent will be able to assist you in figuring that out
What You Can Do On Your Own
WATER EXTRACTION OPTIONS:
Shallow water sump pumps and Shop Vacs with auto pump-out units are available at local hardware and home-improvement stores for you to remove excess water on your own.
When to Call a Professional
- If you are unable to remove all the water within 24-48 hours
- If water has gotten into wall cavities
- If insulation has gotten wet
- If the standing water is excessive (6 inches or more)
- If the affected basement area is finished and the water has flowed in through a finished wall
- If there are high value items in the affected area
- If you are overwhelmed and don't know where to begin
- When structural drying is necessary (see notes below)
Once water is extracted, there is a brief window for drying before mold becomes a problem (typically 3-5 days.) It is extremely important to professionally control humidity and evaporation with the proper equipment.
When you find yourself in any of these situations, remember SERVPRO of The Twin Ports is always "Here to Help!" Call us at (218) 727-2575
Got Mold? (The Answer is Always ‘Yes’)
Trying to deal with mold is always a big question mark. Leave it to the experts at SERVPRO of The Twin Ports to fully remediate the affected area.
Mold is everywhere! The weather conditions in the Northland are perfect for mold and mildew growth. Mold spores can lie dormant for months until the next change of seasons provides new conditions for different varieties to rapidly take over. If left untreated, mold may pose serious health issues. According to the Center for Disease Control, mold sensitivity can produce a range of symptoms from mild reactions, such as stuffy nose, wheezing, and itchy eyes or skin, to move severe reactions including fever, shortness of breath, or the development of asthma. People with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, organ transplant recipients, or people taking medications that suppress the immune system, are at an increased risk of mold infections.
As experts in the field of mold remediation, SERVPRO of The Twin Ports has decided to extend a free service to Duluth-Superior area residents and business-owners. They have developed an online survey that allows the user to provide some basic information regarding the discovery of mold and about the affected property. Once the survey is submitted, the user is prompted to email pictures of the visible mold to a certified mold technician. The information will be reviewed to determine the best course of action. “Too often, when people discover mold, they try to self-treat it which doesn’t actually kill the mold spores and stop future growth,” owner Kevin Buck explains. “We want to offer our assistance to the community in identifying mold and recommend professional remediation options before the mold has a chance to impact the health of our neighbors and fellow business owners.”
For more information about utilizing the free service, contact SERVPRO of The Twin Ports at (218) 727-2575 or check them out online at www.SERVPROtwinports.com.
Why Pipes Freeze and Burst in the Winter
Cast iron radiators were commonly found in homes and buildings built prior to the 1950s.
There are several types of water pipes in a typical home or commercial establishment. Newer homes built within the past 20 years are more likely to have plastic freshwater supply lines. The plastic material is moderately resistant to freezing, but once it does freeze, it bursts easily. Copper water supply lines were commonly used in the mid-twentieth century and are still frequently found in homes and businesses. These supply lines are setup with either 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch piping. The smaller the piping, the quicker it freezes.
The OLDER homes in the area, pre-1900 to about 1950, have cast iron pipes. If you have an older home with a boiler heating system, you have radiators like the ones pictured. These radiators are supplied with hot water through cast iron piping that circles the perimeter of the house. If the boiler ever fails, these pipes are vulnerable to freezing. One remedy for this is the injection of glycol antifreeze into the system. Check your system to make sure it is adequately protected.
When pipes get cold, ice crystals can form inside the pipes, causing them to force a water blockage. If the pipes freeze solid, also known as a “hard” freeze, the ice crystals will expand inside the pipe, causing a split or rupture. It doesn't matter what kind of piping it is, if the water freezes completely inside the piping, it WILL burst.
When the water supply is on, it is pressurized (which is why water comes out when you turn on a faucet.) Once a pipe bursts, water will gush out, causing damage to walls, insulation, flooring, and valuable personal property. For every minute water is running through a fresh water pipe, it will spew out 3-5 gallons of water. That is about 200 gallons an hour! You can see how little time it takes water to do a tremendous amount of damage to your property.
If you do discover frozen pipes before a burst has occurred take the following precautions.
- Turn the water supply OFF. It is usually a lever or knob coming up from a water supply pipe coming up into your home.
- Turn your furnace up to 75 degrees.
- Open all faucet valves, hot and cold.
- Put fans around the house to circulate warm air, directing the warm air into areas where the piping may be frozen.
- If necessary, place space heaters in the frozen areas.
Turn on the water supply briefly for a few minutes - enough time to check the faucets to see if they are running. If not, turn off the water supply and try again once an hour.
If you have a burst pipe, do NOT leave the water on. Call SERVPRO of The Twin Ports to get immediate assistance in dealing with the residual moisture.
If you see water where it should not be, it IS an emergency situation. SERVPRO of The Twin Ports is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to respond to any emergency in the Duluth-Superior area.
10 Tips to Prevent Electrical Fires
A common cause of house fires is faulty electrical wiring. The following tips should be followed to prevent electrical fires. When in doubt, call an electrician.
- Call an electrician to check the fuse box or breaker panel. Ask the electrician to correct any damaged components.
- Call an electrician to inspect the wiring. Replace any old wiring if the electrician suggests you to do so and have him wrap any damaged portions of wiring with electrical tape temporarily.
- Check for broken plugs or switches.
- Do not overload any circuits. Limit the amount of appliances you use and plug only into an appropriate outlet. Note that in most homes, the electrical load on a home is greatest during the evening when family members are consuming electricity using several appliances: cooking; running the dishwasher; watching television in the living room; browsing the internet; listening to the radio; etc.
- Avoid “octopus” connections, do not overload plugs.
- Unplug appliances when not in use.
- Use high quality and high standard electrical products when replacing wires or other components.
- Do not use damaged appliances.
- Install smoke and carbon dioxide alarms where required.
- Do not plug too many appliances into one extension cord. Use only high quality approved extension cords that can handle the load.
5 Ways to Fix and Prevent Frozen Pipes
Bitterly cold temperatures wreaked havoc on much of the country last week. Unfortunately, not everyone made it through without experiencing frozen pipes—us included!
Here are 5 things that we’ve learned about fixing and preventing frozen pipes:
Pipes don’t always freeze in the same spot. Just because a particular pipe hasn’t been prone to freezing in the past doesn’t mean that it won’t freeze this year, particularly after a week of sustained cold.
A hairdryer doesn’t always do the trick. It’s a good starting point, but sometimes pipes are simply too frozen for this strategy to be effective.
The biggest challenge is when pipes freeze behind a wall. Unlike exposed pipes, pipes that freeze behind a wall are difficult to treat. Try cranking the heat to warm the room. Otherwise, unless you want to start poking holes in the wall, you’ll probably need to call a plumber.
A plumber with a thaw machine will be your savior. A thaw machine shoots electricity through frozen pipes to melt blockages in minutes—and many plumbers have them.
Running the water will keep pipes from re-freezing. This isn’t just an old wives’ tale! Letting faucets drip during cold spells is the only effective way to prevent pipes from freezing.
Mold Testing Now Available
Mold Testing determines the extent of mold contamination and identifies the type of mold, which makes exploration and remediation more directed.
SERVPRO of the Twin Ports Now Provides Mold Testing Options to Determine if Remediation is Necessary
How do you know if your home has mold? Or how do you know if the stuff on your wall is mold or something else? How much mold is there and what affect will it have on our family?
Now you can validate safe occupancy for any home or business with scientific testing for mold.
- Air Samples: reveal the mold spore particulate count in living spaces. Now you can know and understand which areas of your home are unaffected and which areas are affected by mold. Know what kind is present, how much of it, and what concerns there may be about that particular variety.
- Surface Samples: reveal if settled dust particles contain mold spores and what kind.
- Swab Tests: identifies the type of mold you can see on a surface.
Call (218) 727-2575 today for a free mold testing estimate.
Click Here for our free Consumer Guide to Mold
How to Retain Your Carpet Warranty
SERVPRO of The Twin Ports offers
24/7 Emergency Service
Five Quick Things You Should Know about Carpet Warranties
- When it comes to maintaining your carpet, one of the most critical areas of focus is the traffic areas. If ground-in soil is not removed on a regular basis, the traffic areas will wear excessively. Carpet warranties have exclusions for replacement due to normal wear and tear and they ALSO exclude carpets that have not been properly cleaned, showing premature wear patterns!
- Another carpet warranty area of focus is spot removal. You must react to “danger” spots immediately. Red wine, colored beverages, urine, blood, etc. can cause a permanent stain if not treated immediately. Listed below are steps you can take to properly maintain your carpeting. Copies of specific warranties on your carpet purchase are available from your carpet retailer. Stain resist warranties can vary from 5 to 20 years.
- Here's an excerpt from the Dupont Stainmaster Warranty. CARE AND CLEANING OBLIGATIONS: To maintain your warranty coverage you must do the following: Clean stains or soiled areas promptly. To qualify for coverage under all limited warranties outlined in this warranty brochure, you must have had hot water extraction cleaning performed by a trained, qualified carpet care professional, at least as frequently as every 18 months since the date of your carpet purchase. Failing to do so will void your warranty coverage. SERVPRO of the Twin Ports has the most awesome carpet cleaning system ever built - called the VORTEX. It has 3x the vacuum power of other truck mounted systems, so we are able to dry your carpets in 1/3 the time, it generates 250 degree + temperatures, allowing us to drop the amount of cleaning products used by 10x, we rinse with clear water - so there's no soil-attracting residues left behind. Of course you would expect this level of technology to cost a little more...and it does, but the value lies in cleaner carpets that stay cleaner longer! You save money in the long run and your carpets look fantastic.
- Frequent Vacuuming is A Key To Your Carpet’s Longevity. Vacuum your carpet often. Vacuuming removes the sharp soil that can cut and slice the fiber causing premature wear. Much of this soil is not visible to the eye. Ground in dirt particles provide an extremely abrasive grinding action against your carpet’s fibers as you walk back and forth on the carpet. This action removes chunks of carpet fiber and rapidly degrades the new-looking appearance. If you don't have a good vacuum, stay tuned for our vacuum recommendations.
- Vacuum before the carpet "looks" soiled. Remove any loose particles such as loose food, leaves, pieces of crayon, bugs, etc. as these items can cause a spot on the carpet. Adjust the brush to penetrate 1/8” to ¼” into the carpet pile. Change filter bags when they reach 2/3 full. After that, they plug up and simply do not pick up any more dirt!
Your Vacuum Cleaner Makes or Breaks Your Carpet
Make certain your vacuum is of substantial quality to provide enough airflow and agitation to remove dry soils embedded in your carpet. If your vacuum is not performing properly, your carpets will wear much faster.
Not sure if your vacuum is up to snuff? Bring it in to our office and we will do a free vacuum inspection to make sure it is working OK. Most vacuums suffer from a lack of maintenance.
It's simple, if your vacuum can't "breathe" it won't pick up dust and particles. Need help with a new vacuum? If you want a professional quality vacuum like the ones we use, you may contact us for a recommendation. Which vacuum you need depends on what you will be using it for. Canister models work best for detail and hard surface cleaning, and uprights are generally best for carpets.
Warranties and Professional Cleaning
As a general rule, professional cleaning by an IICRC certified firm such as SERVPRO of The Twin Ports should take place at least once per year. For extremely heavy traffic areas, cleaning is required more often. Proper professional cleaning will not leave a sticky residue behind and can be done as often as needed. MOST STAIN RESIST AND TEXTURE RETENTION WARRANTIES REQUIRE PROFESSIONAL CLEANING EVERY 12-24 MONTHS.
Professional cleaning removes the damaging soil from the traffic areas that vacuuming has not been able to remove. WARNING: UN-INFORMED CARPET CLEANERS MAY USE CLEANING PRODUCTS THAT MAY VOID THE WARRANTY. BE VERY SELECTIVE WITH WHICH COMPANY YOU HIRE.
SERVPRO of The Twin Ports has trained and certified technicians "Here to Help"
Mold Removal in College of St. Scholastica
The College looks like 25 years ago!
Thank you @Mickey Fitch for the amazing review: "We (The College of St. Scholastica, Residential Life) had Kevin and his crew from SERVPRO Twin Ports come in to clean our brick stairwells in some of our residence halls. They were efficient, highly communicative, and excellent partners through the whole process. Now, because of the work that they did, the stairwells look like what they did when the buildings were built 25 years ago!"
Computers, televisions, stereo equipment, DVD players, computer routers, oscilloscopes, electrical meters, flat bed scanners and industrial electronic
SERVPRO of the Twin Ports utilizes the Omegasonics 2300E® Electronic Cleaning Station effectively and safely restores sensitive electronics, including computers, televisions, stereo equipment, DVD players, computer routers, oscilloscopes, electrical meters, flat bed scanners and industrial electronics, removing all fire damage contaminants without saturating the items in water. Once cleaned, items are placed into the Omegasonics 6500E® Electronic Drying Chamber, a state-of-the-art system that thoroughly dries and deodorizes electronics using a low-temperature, high-volume updraft drying design.