Should You Invest in Crawlspace Encapsulation?
Crawlspaces are a common occurrence in homes. If you have a crawlspace, keep in mind that it is more than just a place to store your holiday decorations. The crawlspace is the portion of the foundation that supports the entire structure. That is why it is important to keep the crawlspace in good health. If excess moisture is allowed to collect in the crawlspace, it can cause mold growth and may also lead to wood rot or rust formation, weakening the supporting structures in your crawlspace. That is why it is important to protect your crawlspace with crawlspace encapsulation with a vapor barrier (a kind of plastic or foil sheeting designed to keep moisture out).
The main question is, is crawlspace encapsulation really worth the cost?
Both having your crawlspace encapsulated with a vapor barrier and sealing off crawlspace vents will work in different ways to keep moisture out. While it may be more expensive, crawlspace encapsulation is the more effective of the two options.
Vapor Barrier Encapsulation Vs. Crawlspace Sealing
The most common method used to seal a crawlspace without the installation of a vapor barrier is simply to close the vents and have them sealed shut. One might also physically remove the vents and patch and seal the area where they were. Normally, this option is not very expensive. Other options to seal the crawlspace without vapor barriers include vapor retardant paint. This can be applied to the crawlspace interior rather affordably. However, vapor retardant paint is not nearly as effective as an actual vapor barrier. In addition, if the paint becomes damaged in any way, its ability to resist moisture seepage is compromised.
Closed crawlspaces offer a lot of advantages to open crawlspaces. They do not allow humid air to enter the crawlspace, they are more resistant to insect and pest infestations, and they save on heating and cooling costs for your home.
However, when it comes to whether or not merely sealing off your crawlspace is as good as installing a vapor barrier, the answer is no. While sealing your crawlspace reduces moisture entry, sealed crawlspaces still allow moisture to seep into them through the walls. This is because the walls and floor of crawlspaces are made of porous material. Water can seep through this porous concrete and end up inside your crawlspace. Vapor retardant paint reduces this occurrence, but will not eliminate it as well as a crawlspace vapor barrier. If you want to maximize the results of a closed crawlspace, you should invest in a dehumidifier as well, since this will help remove some of the moisture that seeps into the home. The effects will likely not be as effective as total crawlspace encapsulation, but they may be improved by a dehumidifier.
Why Have a Vapor Barrier Installed?
There are a few drawbacks when considering whether or not to install a vapor barrier in your crawlspace. One drawback is the cost. Vapor barrier installation costs vary, depending on the condition of the crawlspace (preparatory work may need to be completed beforehand) and the size of your crawlspace. Another disadvantage is that vapor barriers are not a do-it-yourself job. In order to ensure that your vapor barrier works correctly have it installed by a professional.
Despite these downfalls, there are several advantages to installing a vapor barrier in your crawlspace. Some of these advantages include:
- Increased Energy Efficiency: Vapor barriers can act as a sort of insulation for your crawlspace, helping to regulate temperatures and lowering heating and cooling costs in your home and reduce your energy bill up to 20%.
- Improved Air Quality: Because vapor barriers keep moisture out, they reduce the chances of mold growth in your home. This will keep mold spores from circulating through the air in your crawlspace to the rest of your home, improving the overall air quality.
- Eliminated Condensation: Because vapor barriers are highly effective at preventing moisture seepage through the porous concrete that makes up your crawlspace walls, they can greatly reduce humidity levels in your crawlspace. This keeps condensation from forming on pipes in the crawlspace.
- Keeps Floor Temperatures Constant: Not only does increased energy efficiency in the crawlspace lead to lower energy bills, but it can also help to keep the above floors warmer during the cold months.
- Increase Home Value: Encapsulating your crawlspace will also improve the value of your home since it reduces moisture issues such as wood rot and mold in your crawlspace. This is a plus if you would ever need to consider selling your home.
While there are some drawbacks to investing in crawlspace encapsulation, they are far outweighed by the benefits. If you have a damp or moldy crawlspace, call SERVPRO today. We can clean your crawlspace and install a vapor barrier to keep moisture out.
13 TIPS TO PREVENT STORM DAMAGE TO YOUR HOME THIS SUMMER
How to prevent storm damage to your home:
1. Clean your gutters.
Okay, gutters and downspouts are gross. We get that. There are soggy leaves and dirt in there. But the thing is that the grossness can block the water that needs to run off your roof during a storm. If the water builds up, it can settle around your roof and house, which isn’t good. That can cause water damage to your home.
So, even though this might not be your favorite chore, cleaning the gutters should definitely be on your summer home maintenance checklist.
2. Inspect the foundation of your home.
If there are any gaps or cracks in your house’s foundation, water could seep into your home during a heavy rain and cause major water damage. Water is crafty and will find entry points. Repair any cracks you find and call a professional if you need backup.
Also, don’t forget to check the sealing on your windows and doors. This is another place where water might sneak in.
3. Check your yard for dead or diseased trees.
This is a big one for preventing storm maintenance. You may want to call in a trustworthy tree expert to check your yard for dangerous trees.
How can a tree be dangerous?
Well, if the tree is dead, hollowed, or diseased, it may not be able to stand up to the strong winds and rains of a summer storm. Meaning that you may end up with a tree crashing into your house…which is not good. Fortunately, home insurance typically covers falling trees, but it’s best just to get the unsafe trees removed so they don’t put anyone in danger. Or smash your home.
4. Secure furniture that could fall.
If you’ve got heavy, tall furniture that could fall, such as bookshelves or cabinets, make sure to anchor them to the wall so they’re secure and won’t fall. Also, move furniture away from the doors or windows.
5. Have your roof inspected every year.
It’s important to have your roof inspected and maintained each year. This will help you catch any issues and correct them before they get too serious. It’s best to fortify and strengthen your roof so it’s ready to take the walloping of a summer storm. Roof maintenance can even help you save money on your home insurance rates.
6. Think about your landscaping.
Having creative landscaping designed to guide water away from your home’s foundation can help prevent flooding in your home.
It’s important that the ground slopes away from your house. There should be a slope of a quarter-inch per foot heading downhill away from your home’s foundation. If you need to, add some soil to create this grade. Take advantage of gravity to pull the water away from the house and prevent summer storm damage.
7. Pack up outdoor furniture.
Here’s the deal:
Your patio table and chairs look great. But in a storm, they can get turned into missiles if they get picked up by a strong gust of wind. And then they can get thrown right into your house. Ouch.
Anyways, be sure to pack up all your outdoor furniture and decorations to prevent that from happening. Avoid the chair-smashes-a-window scenario and spare yourself the headache of dealing with the storm damage.
8. Know how to shut off your utilities.
If the weather gets really severe, you may need to turn off your utilities. Know how to do this ahead of time so you’re not guessing and saying “umm” a lot when a storm hits.
9. Unplug electronics.
You can protect your electronics by unplugging them before a storm hits. You don’t want your TV or computer to get fried.
10. Identify safe rooms in your home.
It’s a good idea to take some time to consider what the safest rooms in your home are. Ideally, you would pick an interior room with no windows. If there’s a tornado watch or warning, you’ll want to be in an interior room in the basement or lowest level of the house.
Make sure everyone in your family knows the plan and where they should find shelter in the house.
11. Shutter your windows.
Close the shutters and secure the doors. If you don’t have shutters on your windows, close any blinds or curtains you have.
12. Create a disaster kit.
A disaster kit can really help your family if you have to weather a severe storm. Think about what to include in a disaster kit for your family, make a list, and assemble your kit.
13. Watch the weather.
Be sure to keep an eye on the weather by listening to the radio, watching TV, or getting weather alerts on your phone. Find out how your community communicates a weather emergency and heed their warnings.
A severe thunderstorm watch means that conditions are perfect for a big storm. A bad storm could be imminent.
A severe thunderstorm warning means that there is a severe storm in your area and you need to seek shelter immediately.
The summer is prime time for huge storms. So, it’s probably a good idea to take some time to prepare your house so you can prevent storm damage. Your house is a major investment, and by taking a few simple steps you can protect it from storm damage. Don’t put it off – be sure to prepare your home before the summer storms hit.
Commercial Mold Removal
Why do I have mold on my premises?
Mold in a commercial property can be caused by water damage or water intrusion from various sources such as a roof, window or plumbing leaks. The humidity caused by the presence of moisture combined with the warmth and poor ventilation in a property gives mold the perfect conditions to develop, and it can spread quickly if left unchecked. This can cause damage to internal structures, damage to products in storage and is also a serious health risk for you, your customers and your staff.
Should I Clean Mold Myself?
It may be tempting to clean the mold off of surfaces yourself, however, this will only remove the surface mold. Although an area may look clean of mold, there will be spores within the surface that you will not be able to reach with household cleaning items. The spores that are left will continue to multiply and grow and the surface growth will soon be visible again. A few things you can do in the case of a mold infestation are:
- Turn off your HVAC system if you have one
- Make sure that movement in the area is limited to prevent spores from transferring elsewhere
- Do not touch or disturb the affected areas
- Make sure that you vacate the property
What Will a Mold Removal Team do?
If you have a mold infestation on your premises, you should call the SERVPRO of Baldwin, Putnam and Jones Counties certified mold removal professionals as soon as possible. They will be able to determine the cause of the mold growth and remove all spores from the property ensuring that it is fully eliminated.
Our team will carry out a preliminary assessment of the problem to ascertain the severity of the infestation and the underlying cause. Mold isn’t always visible to the human eye so our experts will use special equipment to clean areas that are affected or that have high moisture levels that will encourage future mold growth.
Once the assessment and containment of the mold are complete, our team will then remove the mold at the source ensuring that there are no mold spores present within the premises to safeguard against further infestation. Finally, the team will remove the underlying cause of the infestation by repairing the affected area to stop the further intrusion of water.
If left untreated, mold can cause serious structural damage to your commercial property such as brickwork and drywall which could lead to more serious issues that will take longer and cost more to correct in addition to the loss of business while the premises are being treated and repaired. Call SERVPRO of Baldwin, Putnam and Jones Counties today at 478-452-8000 for a consultation.
Make your Appliances a Priority
Flood damage, burst pipes, and storms, OH MY! It feels like, between all the crazy weather we have had in the past two years, we have enough to worry about when it comes to potential water damages affecting our businesses.
However, there is a hidden danger that lies within your business' walls that needs to be given attention. Leaking and blocked appliances may not seem like a big deal, but it does not take a lot of time for a little leak to cause a lot of damage to your business. Taking the time to pay attention and keeping your appliances up to date not only saves you money in the long run, it also ensures you are keeping your business doors open and operating. Here are some helpful tips on how to make sure you're making your appliances a priority.
Mark Your Calendar
When you purchase new appliances, make sure you write down the expiration dates and recommended replacement dates on their parts and hoses. You have enough to remember throughout your busy days, so write it down and forget about it (until the time comes to make replacements that is).
Make a Date Every Friday Afternoon
Cut out 30 minutes every Friday afternoon and walk around and check all your appliances that are hooked up to a water source. Check for blockages, the hoses, and any leaks, so that you can make sure you are not leaving them unattended for a whole weekend. A small leak over a two-day span could not only create a large amount of damage, but it could be the cause for you having to close your business's doors for a few days. Keeping up with your appliances will help keep your weekend as stress-free as possible.
Don't Put it Off
When you find the problem, fix the problem. Replace a leaky hose, or call a plumber to clear the blockage in your drains or sinks before it is too late. Finding and fixing an issue early on will save you a lot of trouble, time, and money, so don't put it off!
If you do find yourself with a water damage due to a faulty appliance, make sure you give SERVPRO of Baldwin, Putnam and Jones Counties a call at 478-452-8000!
The Different Causes of Commercial Water Damage
Workplace Water Damage is Restored by SERVPRO
When business owners visualize water damage, they often picture a massive storm wiping out power lines, flooding offices, and shutting down businesses for days at a time. It is true that commercial water damage is often the result of floods and water that stems from weather events and storms.
However, many entrepreneurs and business space renters forget that storms and severe weather aren't the only causes of floods and water damage. Here are some of the typical causes of water damage to commercial buildings.
1. Malfunctioning sprinkler systems
Some older office and retail buildings still have outdated sprinkler systems that work in conjunction with fire protection systems. While such sprinklers can come in handy during a fire emergency, they can also cause commercial flood damage if they are faulty or in need of replacement. This could easily damage inventory and business assets.
2. Damaged appliances and equipment
This cause of commercial flood damage is more common in restaurants and catering facilities, as well as any business that has appliances and equipment that make use of water. If the appliance fails and sends water across your building, especially during late hours when no one is around, you may come back to work and face a water emergency.
3. Broken pipes and plumbing
Just like in a residence, if the plumbing system in your workplace fails water damage could be the result.
4. Backed up sewer lines
This is another cause of commercial water damage that often catches business owners by surprise. Should the sewer line to your building back up or become damaged, realize the potential dangers of contaminated Black Water which can cause health effects and ruin products and office furnishings.
If your business has suffered commercial water damage, SERVPRO of Baldwin, Putnam and Jones Counties will get you back up and running again. Call us anytime 24/7 at 478-452-8000 for fast help.
7 Top Fire Damage Restoration Tips
We’re not going to kid you. Fire damage restoration is tough work. People call SERVPRO of Baldwin, Putnam and Jones Counties to ask for advice on how to clean up after a fire. Here are seven of the best tips we give people who ask about fire damage restoration.
Most people can put these tips into practice. But remember that fire damage restoration takes time, work, and skill. Realistically consider whether you want to try these ideas on your own or whether you’d be better off hiring highly trained restoration specialists who will guarantee their work.
- Remove Smoke Damage
With any fire you’ll have a degree of smoke damage to your walls, wall paper, and paint. If the smoke damage is not too serious, you should be able to scrub it clean with detergents and bleach. Soot from smoke damage is greasy stuff, so always try to dust as much of it off from a surface before trying to scrub the surface clean. Often, you’ll want to repaint, but make sure all surfaces are clean and dry before you paint.
- Limit Activity & Other Simple Fire Damage Restoration Steps
Until your house is restored, limit your activity and movement in the house. This helps prevent soot particles from being embedded into upholstery and carpets. Keep people’s hands clean so you don’t further soil upholstery, walls, and woodwork. Protect your things by placing clean towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery, and carpet traffic areas. Before you clean know the best cleaning method for that particular cleaning job (one example: Clean and protect chrome with a light coating of petroleum jelly or oil.) Wash both sides of the leaves on your houseplants. Change your HVAC filter and tape double layers of cheesecloth over air registers.
Call SERVPRO of Baldwin, Putnam and Jones Counties for Cleanup and Restoration. Call (478)452-8000.
- Get Rid of Mold & Mildew
Firefighters are great. They save many a live and many a home. But they do introduce mold and mildew into houses when they must use water to extinguish the fire. SERVPRO recommends you hire fire damage restoration professionals to deal with mold and mildew. Mold and mildew can cause serious health problems. It’s difficult for a nonprofessional to know for certain if he’s properly cleaned all the areas affected by the mold and mildew. And mold and mildew can contaminate your furniture, carpets, clothing, mattresses, walls, and vents. The best thing you can do immediately is to air out every room and clean out all vents and filters.
- Replace Carpets. Clean And Dry Your Floors
Your floors and carpets end up absorbing the worst of the damage from all the water used to put out a fire. In almost every case, SERVPRO recommends that you pull up any carpets that have water damage and replace them. Water can also seep underneath vinyl flooring and into the cracks in hardwood. You must address this. If you have experience with flooring, you can lift it up and clean under it. But you may want to call a professional fire damage restoration company to assist you.
- Avoid Smearing Soot Into Clothing
Cleaning smoke damage from clothing is one of the biggest jobs you’ll have after a fire. Make sure you don’t smear the greasy soot into the clothing or just throw the smoky clothes into the wash. Often times dry cleaning is the best bet, and you should ask around local dry cleaners to see if any have experience with post-fire laundry. Removing smoke odor is another issue and we’ve covered it in another blog post.
Call SERVPRO of Baldwin, Putnam and Jones Counties for Cleanup and Restoration. Call (478)452-8000.
- Scrub, Soak, And Cleaning Dishes
Dishes are also important items to clean thoroughly after a fire because they will be in contact with your food. Scrub all dishes well, let them soak in a solution of bleach and water (2 tablespoons of bleach per gallon) for at least 20 minutes and scrub some more for safety. When in doubt, if a dish, pot, or pan won’t come clean, cut your losses and throw it out – especially rubber or wooden dishes that absorb smoke.
Why Immediate Fire Damage Restoration is Important
When a fire occurs in a home, the aftermath can seem overwhelming, and if fire restoration is postponed, the destruction from smoke damage can become even worse. The longer you wait to address the damage, the more repairs you'll have to fix - which means you'll most likely have a larger bill for damages when all is said and done. You can avoid costly repairs and long-term issues if you make fire damage restoration a priority and follow the steps you'll need to get your home back to normal as soon as possible.
First, and foremost - and this is the most important step - contact the professionals at SERVPRO and they can assess the damage, give you an estimate on costs and start the cleanup process. Then contact your home insurance company to make them aware of the fire. It's essential that you enlist the help of a licensed and insured fire damage restoration company to reduce the risk of further damage to your home. They are trained to handle this type of damage and many will perform some of the following steps to help get you through the initial fire cleanup:
- Smoke and fire damage restoration services will try to save as many of your home and personal belongings (such as appliances, furniture and clothing) as they can.
- SERVPRO will document everything they remove from your home by taking pictures and/or keeping written records.
- SERVPRO will return any salvageable furniture and appliances back to your home, after the fire restoration is complete.
- SERVPRO will work quickly and carefully to get you back in your home as soon as possible, and stay in contact with you to make sure the repairs were done correctly and your home isn't experiencing any other problems.
What is Fire Damage and How Restoration Works
A fire can lead to serious and significant property damage and any number of problems that will negatively impact your quality of life and cost you a lot of money until you get them repaired. Many people don’t realize the full extent or nature of fire damage or a large number of different services offered by fire damage restoration.
Here we will look at what fire damage actually does to your property and at all the different ways it can affect you. From there, we will then look at how fire damage restoration helps to address each of these resultant issues.
In the case of a fire, the first thing you are likely to notice is that your items have been burned leading to them being destroyed. This can ruin walls, cabinets, counter tops and much more leaving them looking dilapidated and not fit for purpose.
This is the most obvious type of damage that SERVPRO will help to address. They offer full renovation services and be able to help you to redecorate your home and to replace all of your furniture, fittings, and upholstery so that your rooms look actually better than they did before the fire in many cases.
When it comes to repairing the obvious and immediate damage to your property, fire damage restoration companies will prioritize damage that could lead to further damage. A good example of this might be a burned stair case that is in danger of collapsing unless it is seen to quickly. Likewise, if you have a hole burned in your roof or in your wall then this might risk wind and rain blowing into your property and could even leave you vulnerable to trespassers and thieves. Again, this will be a very early issue that SERVPRO will look at.
In some other cases, there may be fire damage that is beyond the scope of repair companies to fix. If your furniture has been badly burned for instance, then SERVPRO company may recommend that you simply dispose of it. Thankfully, SERVPRO offer this service and will remove your items for you so that there is one less job for you to do.
Signs of Storm Damage
While your roof is designed to withstand the elements, some storms are more intense than others. There are signs to look for when you believe there may have been damage to your roof. Please be safe when inspecting your roof—possibly view from a window inside the house or use binoculars from the ground. SERVPRO can assist with assessing any damages that may exist.
Significant wind can cause shingles to blow off the roof deck. Missing shingles can lead to leaks and other interior damage. Other wind damage may not be easy to see, especially if the adhesive seal that provides a water-shedding surface is broken. Always be safe when checking for roof damage.
All manufacturers publish a wind warranty on their shingles; it is important to compare the wind coverage when making your shingle selection on a new roof. If the winds that caused the shingle damage were above the manufacturer’s wind coverage, you’ll need to file an insurance claim. If they were not, contact the shingle manufacturer to file a claim.
Potential signs of wind damage:
- Missing shingles.
- Thin horizontal lines where granules have been worn off about 1-2 inches beneath the shingle above; this could indicate that the shingle seal was broken and the shingle was flapping in the wind rubbing against the shingle above it. To be effective against the elements, shingles must be sealed to each other as one water tight roof deck.
Usually hail is not something that you can miss—it is typically a widespread weather event in a neighborhood and not isolated to just one house on the block. Hail can bruise a shingle causing an indentation that may be hard to see but that can crack the shingle allowing water to infiltrate over time. You may need the assistance of a professional roofing contractor to determine the scope of the damage. If you have hail damage, you will need to file an insurance claim.
If your hail event was significant in terms of widespread damage, you will have roofing contractors who specialize in “storms” knocking on your door within days of the event. As always, you should use your best judgment when selecting a contractor. SERVPRO has a network of Preferred Contractors.
Potential signs of hail damage:
- Other collateral hail damage around the house; dents on cars or other items on your house or in your yard.
- A distinct pattern of small round-shaped divots on the edges of the shingles.
- Indentations in the shingle where granules are missing.
- A large pile of granules at the end of your downspout; a small amount is normal, especially on new shingles.
During some storms tree branches or other failing debris can land on your roof. Some items are small and won’t cause an issue—other items are so large that you will naturally be concerned about damage. Use your best judgment. You may need to have a professional roofing contractor inspect your roof for damage. If you have damage from debris on your roof, you will need to file an insurance claim.
Potential signs of debris damage:
- Visual identification of debris on the roof deck.
- Missing shingles.
- Cracked shingles.
- A large pile of granules at the end of your downspout; a small amount is normal, especially for new shingles.
SERVPRO's Disaster Recovery Team
The SERVPRO Commercial Large Loss Division is composed of our best of the best in restoration. Our elite large-loss specialists are prequalified and strategically positioned throughout the United States to handle any size disaster.
Every large loss is supervised by a commercial operations manager to help ensure seamless communication and timely mitigation.
At SERVPRO, the difference is our ability to dispatch trained production professionals and cut costs through the strategic placement and oversight of temporary labor. Get the professionals, call SERVPRO.
Clients for the Commercial Large Loss program include the following:
- The Hospitality Industry
- Property Managers
- The Pentagon
Should a storm or major event strike, call 1-800-SERVPRO
Catastrophic Storm and Major Event Response
The SERVPRO Disaster Recovery Team can provide help whether you're dealing with a tornado, hurricane, blizzard or flood. The SERVPRO System has a network of strategically positioned storm teams on standby should a disaster strike near you. Available 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, SERVPRO Franchise Professionals are prepared for the unpredictable.
With the ability to mobilize local command centers, along with the resources of more than 1,700 Franchises nationwide, no disaster is too big. Recent mobilizations of the Catastrophic Storm Response Teams include:
- 2018 Hurricane Michael
- 2017 California wildfires
- 2017 Hurricane Irma
- 2017 Hurricane Harvey
- 2016 Hurricane Matthew
- 2015 Carolina floods
- 2014 Polar Vortex
- 2012 Sandy
- 2010 Nashville floods
- 2008 Ike
- 2007 Chicago floods
- 2007 Ohio floods
- 2007 California wildfires
- 2005 Katrina/Wilma/Rita