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How to Prepare for a Winter Storm

8/29/2022 (Permalink)

Blog post picture Stay safe this winter!

In North Dakota, we are no strangers to a bad winter. With freezing temperatures, lots of snow, and high winds, winter storms can be dangerous for your home and your family. Here are some tips to make sure you're ready for the North Dakota winter. 

Be Prepared to Lose Power

The biggest worry during a storm is that you will lose power. Although this is usually restored within a few hours, it is very possible to lose power for multiple days of there are multiple power lines down throughout the are. Stocking up on non-perishable food, warm clothing, and buying batteries is essential. If you can have a generator fueled and ready to power your home, this would be the best-case scenario to ensure your families safety. Be in contact with friends and family and have an emergency home to go to in case you need to stay a few days somewhere else while power is restored. 

Be Aware of Frozen Pipes

In freezing temperatures, water pipes are very susceptible to freezing. Even if your home has power and heat, pipes can still freeze. To prevent this, use water sources regularly so that water flows through pipes and doesn't have time to build up and freeze. If you try to use a sink, toilet, or appliance and there is no water coming into it, this is a sign you might have a pipe break. Another tip prevention is to have a tiny drip of water flow through your pipes to stop pressure from building up. 

Remove Snow as Far Away from Your Home as Possible

If feasible, push snow away from your home. This will prevent ice from building up around your home and its foundation, which could cause cracks and leaks inside the house. Pushing snow away from your home will also help during spring when snow and ice begins melting. If there is too much water near your home, it can seep in though the foundation or other cracks in your windows or siding. Although sometimes snow has to be piled up next to your house, when possible, push it as far away as possible. 

We hope you and your family stay safe this winter! If you ever suspect you have water damage, give us a call and we can use our water detection technology to find any leak or pipe break!

Safety with Space Heaters

8/29/2022 (Permalink)

Blog post picture Be safe with space heaters!

With winter in full swing, many of us have broken out space heaters to keep ourselves warm. Whether it is at work or at home, space heaters are a great way to stay toasty when the temperatures get to be in the negatives for days on end. 

When using a space heater, however, it is important to follow best safety practices to prevent a fire. Space heaters are perfectly safe when used properly. Use the tips below and keep your home and office safe and warm this winter.

  • Leave the heater on level floor. Don't place on carpet - it can overheat and start a fire.
  • Do not use in bathroom, unless it is designed for it - moisture can damage the heater.
  • Keep three feet away from flammable materials and out of the way of children and pets.
  • Should always be plugged directly into wall outlet. Don't use with extension cord because it can cause overheating.
  • Don't leave heater unattended. Make sure to unplug when not in use.
  • Never sleep with a space heater on.
  • Install smoke alarms on every floor.

If your space heater shows signs of wear such as broken cords, power fluctuations, or inconsistent temperature, immediately replace. An old space heaters can malfunction and start a fire or overheat and leave an odor/smoke smell in the air. Never overuse a space heater and if you smell burning, immediately unplug and discontinue use.

When dealing with frigid temperatures, space heaters are a quick solution to help fight the cold. Using them safely will keep you warm and your home or office safe this winter. 

Does Windchill Affect Your Home?

8/29/2022 (Permalink)

Blog post picture Keep toasty this winter!

In North Dakota, we are used to the phrase "It wouldn't be so cold if wasn't for the wind." Windchill is calculated though a formula that describes how much colder the air temperature is due to heat loss caused by winds. While Windchill is usually used to describe how the temperature affects humans, it is important to remember how it can damage your home. 

The same way humans give off heat through their skin, homes give off heat through low insulated spots such as windows, open doors, or leaks. The more insulated a home is, the better it will be at retaining heat. Windchill affects every and all objects, until it doesn't. It stops having an effect when the object is the same temperature as the actual air temperature. Any warm heat sources, like your body or your home that are trying to maintain a warm temperature in a cold environment, will be affected by wind chill. 

When a wind chill advisory is in effect, if you have a drafty home or if you accidentally leave the fireplace flue open or a window is not fully closed, the cold wind is going to have a noticeable effect on your home heating and home comfort. Make sure to insulate and seal up your house as much as possible. A poorly insulated home is susceptible to water damage caused from leaks or frozen pipes.

When dealing with cold temperatures, wind can have an additional impact on your home and heating bill. Properly insulating your home and sealing up cracks or other drafts can make a huge difference in the lifespan and value of your home. When the wind chill temperature gets lower, be sure to keep your home protected and prevent disaster. 

Dealing with Commercial Water Damage

8/29/2022 (Permalink)

Blog post picture Water loss at at a commercial property

When dealing with water damage, bigger is almost always worse. The more water that is flowing through a space, the worse the damage will usually be. Water damage in commercial buildings has the potential to be far more disastrous than a residential home, because of how many more pipes there are in a commercial building. More bathrooms, appliances, and sprinkler systems mean there are a greater number of chances for water loss, whether this is from a frozen pipe or one that has not been maintained properly. 

With commercial loss, it also means more equipment will need to be used to dry out the area. More equipment means more manpower needed to move the equipment. This trend can keep compounding out to show how commercial job can have costs add up quickly.

It is also the cost of not doing business that makes a large water loss so damaging. Not being able to have a store/location open for days, weeks, or months at a time can mean a devastating loss of profit which will just make a water loss worse. This is why SERVPRO of Bismarck uses every method to expedite the restoration process, such as working directly with insurance providers, offering construction services, and using state of the art equipment to get the restoration process completed fast!

Large commercial water losses can be scary. SERVPRO of Bismarck relies on our experience to get the damage under control and back to normal. 

When Does Water Damage Cause Mold?

8/29/2022 (Permalink)

Blog post picture Mold growth is a nasty business!

Whenever you have a water loss, it is a nerve-racking experience. You have to worry about cleaning up the water, drying out what's affected, and possible mold growth. Sometimes you can take care of these things on your own, other times a professional company, like SERVPRO®, needs to come in and assess and then clean it. With any water loss, mold should be a worry, but when does water actually cause mold growth?

Different types of water damage that can cause mold growth are:

  • Sewage back-up from flooding in the area
  • Plumbing or roof leaks
  • Damp basement or crawl space
  • Overflows from sinks for bathtub
  • High humidity: steam cooking, dryer vents, humidifiers
  • Any type of stagnant water in your home

Mold will begin to grow 24-48 hours after the initial water damage. If you discover the source of damage, stop it quickly, and clean up the mess, you likely don't have to worry about mold. If the water damage isn't found within a few days, mold is going to become a concern.

If the water is not dried out within that time window, a professional may apply antimicrobial products to prevent growth. This is why you should contact a professional no later than 48 hours after the initial damage if there is still moisture present.

The best way to prevent mold growth from water damage is to clean up the water and dry out the area as fast as possible. If you aren't sure whether or not you can dry it out on your own, contact SERVPRO of Bismarck and we can advise you on the next steps to take to prevent further damage to your home. 

Dealing with Large Commercial Water Damage

8/29/2022 (Permalink)

Blog post picture Large water loss to your business is no fun!

When it comes to commercial water damage, bigger is always worse. Commercial buildings are more susceptible than residential homes due to having more water lines for sprinklers, bathrooms, faucets, etc. These water lines are also not routinely used and therefore are more susceptible to leaks/breaks. When a water line in a commercial property breaks, it can be disastrous. 

Large commercial water damage can be especially disastrous if it happens on an upper level, as water will run down into the levels below, causing damage all along the way. 

Large scale damage like this is hard to mitigate as all floors need to be dried out and protected against mold growth. This can involve removing wet materials and contents or drying out and cleaning existing contents to prevent replacement. 

When drying out a large, multi-story area, you need to have lots of equipment and personnel to handle the job. At SERVPRO of Bismarck, we have a large, highly trained crew that specializes in handling large commercial losses. Our corporate playbook is used to make sure timelines are being met, work is completed up the highest standards, and expenses are being kept in check. SERVPRO is one of the top industry leaders in large loss restoration and SERVPRO of Bismarck strives to keep up that reputation. 

Large water losses can be devastating for a business. With SERVPRO of Bismarck we have the right equipment, knowledge, and people to get the job done right. 

Dealing with Mold

8/29/2022 (Permalink)

Blog post picture Mold growth can grow behind your washing machine!

Mold is a mysterious and frightening problem to deal with, especially if you're not sure how to get rid of it. There are many different types of mold that can be found inside your home when you least expect it. Some types of mold are more harmful than others, so it's important to know what you're dealing with before trying to clean up the mess. In this guide we'll walk through the steps for cleaning up a small or medium size problem first, then expand outwards from there as needed!

Step 1. Check for Mold

The first step in dealing with mold is to find it. Mold starts growing when there is dampness and darkness, so look in the bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and basements of your home. If you have an attic or crawl space that doesn't get much natural light, check these areas too. Be sure to check for black spots on pipes or walls as well as blue or green streaks on ceilings and walls.

Step 2. Identify the Problem

Mold can be found in many places. It can be the result of a water leak, and it often occurs in the bathroom, kitchen, or other areas where moisture is common. If there is mold anywhere in your home, you need to take steps quickly to remove as much of it as you can before it spreads further and makes its way into your walls and flooring.

Step 3. Decide How Much You Can Take on Yourself

If you're not sure about how to remove the mold, call a professional. It's always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health!

Step 4. Gather Your Tools and Supplies

  • Goggles
  • Paper mask (or bandana)
  • Dust mask, disposable or reusable filter masks
  • Rubber gloves, nitrile or latex
  • Tissues and paper towels, preferably few-ply

Step 5. Use Separate Tools for Each Room

Now that you have a sense of the scope of the problem, it's time to decide what tools and products will be most helpful in removing mold from each room. This step might seem unnecessary, but trust us: its's not! The best way to avoid cross-contamination is by using different brushes or pads for each room.

Also, don't forget that some of your tools may need replacing now and then (especially if they've been exposed to moisture). You could also consider purchasing a few extra pieces which can be used throughout all rooms so as not to waste time by having to stop mid-job and go get another one.

Alternatively, if budget isn't an issue for you then there are other ways in which we can help prevent cross-contamination like using disposable wipes instead of rags or cloths (which may carry residual mold spores). 

You'll also need a big bucket to mix the solution in and a spray bottle to apply it with, unless you're using premixed products

We recommend using an inexpensive 5-gallon paint bucket ($8) for mixing the solution. You can get away with smaller buckets if your room is smaller than 100 square feet or so, but larger ones are needed for larger rooms because they will allow you to mix up more product at once. The reason is that when using bleach, you have to add water slowly while stirring constantly until all of the bleach has been diluted into an even mixture. If the bucket is too small, then there won't be enough room for this process and some of your mixture may not get fully diluted before sprayed onto surfaces in your home (and may end up causing damage because it contains un-diluted bleach). 

Step 6: Cleaning and Disinfecting

Once you've identified the moldy area, it's time to clean it. Mix a solution of one part bleach to 10 parts water in a spray bottle, then apply the solution directly to the moldy area using a paper towel or cloth. Let it sit for five minutes, then wipe clean with a second dry cloth. 

Step 7: Deodorize and Prevent Future Mold Growth

To deodorize the area, you can use bleach and water. Start by rinsing the area with clean water, then apply a mixture of one cup of household chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water. Let this sit for at least 5 minutes before wiping up any excess solution. For best results, allow it to dry completely before using your space again.

If your mold problem is particularly severe or if it did not go away after cleaning (or if you have another type of resistant mold), bring in professionals who specialize in removing toxic molds from houses such as SERVPRO of Bismarck; our experts will be able to asses whether any additional steps are necessary.

In addition to cleaning the affects area(s) in your home thoroughly, there are several other things that can help prevent future mold growth:

  • Use a dehumidifier when possible and/or open windows during dry spells (e.g., when it's raining outside). This will help keep humidity levels low enough for most molds not to grow inside buildings or homes where they otherwise would thrive on moist surfaces such as walls or ceilings - but take care not to overdo it because too much moisture removal may cause condensation problems elsewhere within your building! If possible, use both methods together; one without support from another approach will likely fail due towards lackadaisical results since nothing else exists which would serve as extra support aside from maybe frequent vacuuming maintenance schedule services.

Mold growth is:

  • Unsightly
  • Expensive
  • Hazardous to your health
  • Something that must be dealt with immediately!

If you're dealing with mold, it's important to act quickly and get rid of it as soon as possible. Remember that there are many different types of mold out there, so make sure you know what kind your home or office building has before starting any cleanup process!

Tips for Cleaning Up Water Damage in Your Home

8/29/2022 (Permalink)

Blog post picture SERVPRO of Bismarck is "here to help".

It can happen in an instant: A pipe bursts, flooding your home. It's a nightmare scenario for homeowners and renters alike, but it's not all doom and gloom. With the right knowledge and preparation, you may be able to save some of your belongings from water damage. Here are five tips on cleaning up water damage in your home:

Do not enter affected areas if electrical outlets, switches, circuit breakers and electrical equipment are exposed to water. Always avoid electrical shock hazard.

Once you're sure the electrical power has been turned off, do not enter areas where you can see or suspect water damage to wiring and equipment. Water may be hiding behind walls and in other places that are hard to see, so always assume there is a risk of electrical shock when working in such conditions. 

Shocking yourself on an exposed wire could lead to a heart attack or even death. Call a professional who knows how to restore lost power safely.

Don't try using a wet vacuum cleaner because it can cause electrocution and burn out the motor on your machine. If you own a shop vac (which is not recommended) make sure that it's unplugged before attempting use if possible since there's less chance for electrocution that way, but don't rely on this method exclusively since most shop vac have motors with very little insulation between them that still could cause problems if submerged in water for long periods of time - especially salt water which conducts electricity much easier then fresh!

Do not use your household vacuum cleaner to remove water; this could cause electrical shock or damage to the vacuum cleaner.

If your home has been affected by floodwaters, do not use your household vacuum cleaner to remove water; this could cause electrical shock or damage to the vacuum cleaner. Instead, use a wet/dry vac. Remove water from the affected area as quickly as possible and then call in a professional.

Do not turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet, and keep out of rooms where ceilings are sagging from retained water.

If you have any ceiling fixtures in your home, don't turn them on if the ceilings are still wet. You could cause a short circuit and cause yourself more damage. If it has been a few hours or longer,  you can safely turn on ceiling lights without causing any harm to yourself or your home.

If you see that one side of the ceiling is sagging due to retained water from the flood, stay out of that room until it's fixed.

Avoid contaminated objects, including soaked furniture and debris. Cover your nose and mouth with a cold cloth or dust mask when entering an area with a strong odor of gas or chemicals.

  • Don't enter the area if electrical outlets, switches, circuit breakers or electrical equipment are exposed to water
  • Don't use your household vacuum to remove water
  • Don't turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet
  • Don't enter areas where ceilings are sagging 

Water damage can occur in your home at any time, but knowing what you should do can save you valuable time and money!

Water damage is one of the most common reasons for a home inspection. Many homes are built on stone foundations and have basements that are below ground level, meaning water can enter through cracks in the foundation or where pipes enter the basement ceiling/floor. Water leaks from plumbing fixtures such as toilets and faucets can also cause problems if left unattended for too long.

The best thing to when it comes to water damage is prevention. That means checking regularly to make sure all drains are clear of debris or hair clogs which may prevent them from draining properly, keeping your gutters clean so they catch falling rainwater and directing it away from your foundation before it has a chance to seep into cracks or leaky windowsills around doors leading outside (if left unchecked this type of problem could lead not only into other rooms but also outdoors. Ensuring all windowsills aren't cracked before replacing them with new ones so  no more moisture get trapped inside after being exposed directly under bright sunlight all day long (this will help keep mold growth under control). 

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at any time! SERVPRO of Bismarck is always happy to help out our customers with their home projects! 

Tips for Reducing Fire and Smoke Damage

8/29/2022 (Permalink)

Blog post picture Extensive fire and soot damage before SERVPRO of Bismarck arrives

No one wants to think about the disaster that a fire has caused to their home, let alone the damage that still could happen. Here are some tips for minimizing it:

  • Limit movement in your home to prevent the soot particles from being embedded into your furniture and carpets.
  • Keep hands clean! Soot on your hands can further damage any items that are touched.
  • Place dry towels or old linens on any furniture, rugs, or high traffic areas in your home.
  • Let SERVPRO of Bismarck take care of the rest!

Our highly trained Fire Restoration Technicians are there and ready to help you get your home back into pre-fire shape, with less disruption to your home.

Let SERVPRO of Bismarck:

  •  Use special equipment to remove any remaining soot from the walls, ceilings and furniture.
  • Get rid of any lingering odors by using industrial air scrubbers and fogging equipment.
  • Restore any carpets or drywall or paint in areas that might need a touch-up.

The time after a fire can be scary and confusing, so let SERVPRO of Bismarck professionals help get your home back into shape. 

How to Safely Put Out an Oven Fire

8/29/2022 (Permalink)

Blog post picture A small spark can cause a big issue!

Picture this: You're happily cooking pancakes on a Saturday morning for your kids and the bacon is sizzling away in the oven. You HAD to get the kind with the extra fat because the kids like it better than too much actual meat. Your back is turned for one second and the next thing you know BAM! All that grease from the fatty bacon and a too hot oven has caused a fire! But don't panic! Follow these tips to help put it out and minimize the damage:

  • DO NOT PUT WATER ON IT OR FAN IT. Water will instantly turn to steam and fanning it with a towel will only give the grease fire more oxygen to grow and spread to the towel which could cause burns.
  • Keep the oven closed! Keeping the door shut will cut off oxygen and the fire will go out on its own.
  • Turn off the oven fi you can to eliminate the heat source.

Well, the bacon is inedible, the pancakes are burned, the kids are thinking the whole thing is cool to watch, and you're just happy the fire is gone with minimal damage to the kitchen. Takeout anyone?