Do your research when traveling
Today we are going to travel down an abnormal rabbit hole for a blog topic. Normally we cover water restoration, mold clean up, or smoke deodorizer, but today we are going to cover how to plan a successful trip. Both of our SERVPRO of Mason County marketers just got back from a week-long trip together in sunny Southern California. This trip was supposed to be an amazing and empowering girls’ trip, but it became a nightmare after plans started to come undone.
The trip was a bachelorette at Disneyland. What could go wrong? Well we booked an amazing home through VRBO. And as soon as we arrived we started noticing that several things weren’t quite right. Our “Dream” house turned into a nightmare as soon as we opened the door. There was evidence that the house was under construction, the back door didn’t lock, and some of the promised amenities were not available i.e. the 3 washers and dryers, and the hot tub. The worst offense of all was that there was a man living in the garage. Keep in mind this trip consisted of fifteen women trying to enjoy themselves, and it is hard to do that when your security is in jeopardy. We contacted VRBO and let them know what we found. VRBO was not sympathetic, or willing to help us find a solution. We are still battling trying to get our money back, because we could not stay at that house due to health and safety concerns.
What we learned from that trip is that you need to know the business you are working with. I have worked with Airbnb before and their customer service was on point! They cared, they took care of problems, and lastly, they were able to refund me immediately after a homeowner stopped corresponding with me.
Do your research, if you are going to spend thousands of dollars on a trip, make sure and read the reviews. Make sure your working with a company that will help you out if you run into issues. Lastly prepare yourself if you run into issues; luckily, we were able to find a last-minute hotel that could accommodate 15 women (we needed several bathrooms & beds).
It’s hard to not let something so frustrating ruin your travel plans but try and remember why you are there in the first place. Don’t let the details get you down, keep on keeping on! Remember the people you are with and enjoy all the wins. Also, remember some responses for complaints/refunds are time sensitive, but if you can try and wait till you get back from your vacation before you start filing all the necessary documentation. Since we have been back we have filed a complaint with the better business bureau, and notified the City of Anaheim of the code violations we found inside the house.
At the end of my trip I will remember the hard times, but the memories that I will carry the rest of my life are that 14 of my closest friends and family got together and we conquered Disneyland, ate way to much junk food, and survived the scariest house EVER!
Gig Harbor Fall Events
Here at SERVPRO of Mason County we take huge pride in our community. There is no place the Pacific Northwest during the fall. Although we would absolutely love partaking in all the different season events we can’t be everywhere at once, so we thought we could fill you in on some of our favorite upcoming Fall events in Gig Harbor.
Cider Swig – The Cider Swig is schedule for September 29th between 12:00PM and 5:00PM. This event is located at one of our favorite local parks, Sehmel Homestead Park. Approximately two dozen different regional cidermakers will be present, and there will be upwards of ninety different hard ciders to sample! Along with the fantastic cider there will be live entertainment!
NW Glass Pumpkin Patch – The NW Glass Pumpkin Patch is taking place on September 29th from 9:00AM to 3:00PM. There will be a new location this year, the patch will be held at the Peninsula Market (Old Peninsula Gardens). Admission is free, and it is such an amazing site to see! Wander through a spectacular array of one of a kinds of glass pumpkins in every shape, size, and color imaginable! Each of the glass pumpkins is hand blown by local glass artisans.
Scarecrow Festival – The Scarecrow Festival is scheduled for October 6th between 10:00AM and 4:00PM. Once again, this event is located at Sehmel Homestead Park, and would be a great time for the entire family! This is an autumn celebration with all sorts of different decorated scarecrows, live entertainment, farm animals, hay rides, camel and pony rides, a hay maze, and fun food and fair treat vendors!
Trick or Treat in the Harbor – Trick or Treat in the Harbor will take place on Halloween October 31st, from 3:00PM to 6:00PM. There will be so much going on all at once… The Harbor Dance will be performing a “Spooktacular Surprise” at 4:30PM and 5:00PM in front of Skansie Brothers Park. The Harbor Wildwatch are presenting the Mad Scientist Laboratory at the Skansie Brothers House. Trunk or Treat will be at the Church of the Nazarene with fun carnival games and an inflatable bounce house! Don’t forget to bring the kids to visit Paradise Theatre’s Haunted house from 4:00PM to 6:00PM.
Rain or shine all the above events are going to be a blast! We here at SERVPRO LOVE the fall and can’t wait to see you at all these wonderful events! SERVPRO is your locally owned and operated fire restoration, water mitigation, flood water extraction, mold remediation, biohazardous cleaning, carpet cleaning, content manipulation and content cleaning company. We hope that in the case that you are in need of any of those services you’ll call upon your local Gig Harbor specialists! With pumpkin spice in our coffees, and the leaves starting to fall there is no better place to live. We take pride in our community and want our community to take pride in our company. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns!
Basic Information on IICRC Training
Training for Water Mitigation Technicians
The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) was founded in 1972 by Ed York and is recognized internationally as a knowledgeable industry voice and resource. The IICRC serves as an independent, Certification Body, that sets and promotes high standards and ethics, and advances communication and technical proficiency within the inspection, cleaning and restoration industries. The IICRC ensures that when consumers hire a technician they have hired experts who will provide reasonable assurance that work will be completed in accordance with the industry’s “Standard of Care”. SERVPRO takes pride in the certifications we have received.
Water Damage Restoration Technician (WRT)
The Water Damage Restoration Technician course was created to educate restoration personnel that perform water mitigation, and remediation to give them a thorough understanding of how to handle, mitigate, and manage a water damage. The technicians will learn what equipment is necessary during different types of water damages, and how to properly clean and manage the equipment once the mitigation has been completed. This training will give both residential and commercial training on understanding the procedures necessary with water losses, sewer backflows, and contamination (mold, hazardous materials, etc).
Applied Structural Drying Technician (ASD)
This is an add-on training that continues education of Water Damage Restoration Technicians. The WRT is a required prerequisite of before taking this course. This course is designed to teach the efficient and timely drying of water-damaged structures and contents using comprehensive classroom and hands-on training. This certification would be recommended for larger commercial buildings such as hospitals, schools, or business complexes.
Applied Microbial Remediation Technician (AMRT)
This is an add-on training that covers mold and sewage remediation techniques. The course will review the different types of mold, how mold is created, and how to properly dispose of the microbial materials. In addition, this course will review the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure that the technician is safe from any possible health side effects from working with hazardous materials. This technician will be required by SERVPRO to be on site as soon as any microbial materials have been found.
Fire and Smoke Restoration Technician (FSRT)
This course concentrates on technical procedures for restoring contents and building materials in a fire and smoke damaged environment. Fire and Smoke Restoration technicians will be trained on what tools and chemicals are necessary to properly clean and remediate after a fire loss. If you would like to see a demonstration of how we clean contents after a fire damage, call our office and we can set up that opportunity for you at no expense. We are happy to show our expertise in this area.
When you hire SERVPRO to perform your water mitigation, mold remediation, or fire clean up; you can be assured that technicians will arrive who are properly trained and certified by the IICRC to complete the necessary work to make it “Like it never even happened.” On the flip side of this, if you know of someone who would like to learn a trade, and get the proper certifications, SERVPRO provides this training to our employees.
Cleaning After Using a Fire Extinguisher
If you have, or ever have the possibility of doing so, used a fire extinguisher to extinguish a small fire in your commercial business and want to know how to properly clean up afterwards, you have found the perfect blog! If you have used a fire extinguisher you are probably extremely happy to have the incident behind you, but the next step is the cleanup of the residue.
The recommended cleaning methods depends on what kind of fire extinguisher you have used. This blog will help you determine what method of cleaning is necessary to get your building back to preloss.
Class K Wet Chemical Extinguishers
This type of extinguisher can be used for cooking oil and grease fires; a potassium acetate-based, low-pH class K extinguisher discharges a fine mist to cool cooking surfaces and extinguish the flames. Because of the corrosive nature of dry chemicals, Class K wet chemical extinguishers are recommended for large commercial kitchens. After you have used the fire extinguisher you will need to clean up the extinguisher residue. First, prep the area; turn off all the cooking equipment and appliances and put on the proper personal protective equipment. Second, wipe away the residue with a disposable cloth, or sponge, dipped in hot-soapy water. Lastly, rinse all surfaces that encountered the wet chemicals and give the surface enough time to dry completely before turning the appliances back on.
Dry Chemical Fire Extinguishers
Dry chemical fire extinguishers use firefighting agents such as sodium bicarbonate, monoammonium phosphate, and potassium bicarbonate. These agents leave behind a corrosive powder, so it’s important to clean up dry chemical fire extinguisher residue very quickly, especially if it has encountered metal surfaces.
- With a vacuum or broom, sweep up the loose debris.
- Spray stuck-on residue with isopropyl alcohol diluted 50% with warm water. Let the solution sit for several minutes, and then wipe with a damp rag.
- It is necessary to neutralize the sodium bicarbonate and potassium bicarbonate residue, to do this you can apply a solution of 98% hot water and 2% vinegar. After several minutes, wipe the area clean with a damp rag.
- To neutralize monoammonium phosphate residue, apply a baking soda and hot water paste. After several minutes, wipe the area with a damp cloth.
- Give the affected area a final clean, wash it with a cloth, soap, water, and then rinse it clean. Use fans to help the spot dry quicker.
- If dishes, cookware, or clothing have dry chemical fire extinguisher residue on them, wash them as usual in the dishwasher or in a washing machine.
Halotron Fire Extinguisher Residue
Older generations of fire extinguishers use Halon as the primary extinguishing agent. While these are no longer in production, you may still have a Halotron fire extinguisher that you recently used in an emergency to extinguish a fire. While Halon leaves behind no visible residue, it is still important to clean areas that encountered this extinguishing agent to remove smoky smells from the blaze and neutralize the surface. First, apply a diluted degreaser to the affected area. Use a sponge for small spots or a spray bottle for larger surface areas. Second, apply a neutral cleaner to remove any remaining residue. Lastly, wipe away all cleaning products and allow the surface to dry.
Clean Agent Extinguishers
Clean agent extinguishers are non-conductive and non-ozone depleting, making them ideal for putting out fires near computers and electronics that could be damaged by water or corrosive dry chemicals. Clean agent extinguishers are affective against Class A, B, and C fires. Because clean agents dissipate harmlessly into the atmosphere, they leave behind no residue and require no cleanup.
SERVPRO of Gig Harbor/N. Tacoma and Mason County
If you commercial building requires additional clean up after a fire, such as smoke damage, or reconstructive services, SERVPRO of Gig Harbor/N. Tacoma and Mason County is here to help you. We provide free estimates to assess the damages, and will walk you through what you and your business can expect during the mitigation process. Contact us now with any questions or concerns you may have.
How Cleanliness Helps Company Moral and Reducing Employee Illness
When temperatures start to drop, like they have in the last week, employee attendance can drop as well. Based on the UK’s Cleaning Services Group, one person carrying a virus at work will infect roughly 50% of employees within four hours. Imagine how this state will badly affect the productivity of your employees. Therefore, a clean working environment is important in your office. Here are some tips to help reduce passing around this year’s cold.
On a daily do the following:
- Wipe down common space countertops, bathroom and breakroom.
- Wipe down computer mice, and keyboards
- Clean desk phones
- Empty all trash
- Spot sweep
- Spot vacuum
On a weekly basis do the following:
- Vacuum all carpets and rugs
- Mop all floors
- Clean toilets, sinks and bathroom mirrors
- Dust shelves, desks, and furniture
- Disinfect doorknobs and light switches
- Clean coffee maker
On a monthly basis do the following:
- Clean the microwave, refrigerator, and other appliances
- Wipe cabinet exteriors
- Clean baseboards
- Clean vents
- Clean grout
On a seasonal basis do the following:
- Check for expired food in the common fridge
- Clean vent filters
- Wash windows, blinds and curtains
In addition to the cleaning schedule you should promote office cleanliness by requiring all employees wash their hands after they do the following: sneeze, use the restroom, use cleaning products, handle garbage, handle dirty equipment, take off their gloves, and/or handle dirty dishes or tools.
Germs can stay on a surface for days and infect people long after the original sick person is gone. Whether they touch the coffee machine, the bathroom doors, the phone or the copy machine, everyone else who comes in contact with the surfaces are at risk. A clean office makes everyone feel better.
In additional to a healthy workplace, a clean and organized office can promote productivity, happiness and focus. It can also boost morale employees and client relationships from the confidence in handling such organized and tidy people. To gain these benefits, you must keep your office cleaned by throwing away unused files or documents and dusting everything, from computer screens and benches to the layer. Minimizing the belongings on each desk will make the office look tidier and organized. People will form certain perceptions of business as they view your office. A clean and fresh office will be seen as a company with valuable business standard from the way they structure and organize the office very well. Even so, it is not only clients who have the perceptions, the staffs will also have their own reaction toward their office environment. With a dirty and disorganized office, the staffs will think that the company does not have a high business standard. In return, they will show the perception through the quality of their work.
Whether you are trying to increase moral, or decrease illness in your workplace, a clean workplace will help your staff be more productive. Bottom line, when your staff is more productive, your business makes more money.
There are multiple types of storms that can cause damage to your home. It is very important to do research on storms that are common in the area that you live in and prepare yourself in case of a catastrophic storm.
Hail Storms are a common occurrence throughout the United States, and many residents have witnessed firsthand the damage hail can cause to property. When a hailstorm hits it does the majority of damage to the exterior property. Common types of damages include: roof damage, window damage, shingle damage and siding damage.
Ice Storms is when rain freezes before it hits the ground coating everything in its path with a layer of glaze ice. Damages from an ice storm can include: broken tree limbs, power outages, and hazardous conditions.
Blizzards are severe winter storms that combine heavy snowfall, with high winds and freezing temperatures. The combination of cold, wind and snow can damage homes and businesses. Heavy snow can produce dangerous conditions, including roof collapse.
In a specific area of the country tornadoes present a real threat. Most tornado damage is done by high winds, with recorded speeds exceeding 300 MPH and flying debris propelled by these fierce winds. The most damage from tornadoes happens in “tornado alley” a part of United States that includes Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, and Missouri.
A hurricane is the most powerful classification given to a tropical cyclone. These storms are characterized by extreme low-pressure systems and high speed, swirling winds. In order for a storm to be classified a “tropical storm”, a specific set of circumstances must exist. In a tropical storm, the wind speed must be between 39-73 miles an hour, lower or higher wind speeds would be another classification.
Thunder and lightning storms can produce other types of damaging weather such as lightning, hail, high winds, tornadoes, flooding and more. Lightning strikes can cause damage to a breaker panel and possibly lead to fires. The National Lightning Safety Institute estimates the cost of lightning damage in the $5 to $6 billion dollar per year range. The majority contributors to damage property are hail and wind, which can cause many types of exterior property damages.
Floods are typically the result of heavy rain and water that rises faster than storm drains can handle. There are other types of floods that can occur: levy failure, damn failure, etc. Flash floods driven by quick, violent bursts of rain can flood homes, basements and businesses, can cause serious damages to both interiors and exteriors.
It is very important to prepare both your home and business from these types of storms. If you are in an area prone to lightning use can use surge protectors. Sand bags placed at your exterior access can help prevent flooding. In an area prone to hurricanes you can protect your windows by boarding them up. If in the unfortunate case that of any of these storms cause damage to your home or business you can call on SERVPRO of Mason County for your restoration services. Across the country SERVPRO franchises are there for you to “Like it never even happened.”
Frozen Pipes and the aftermath
Really harsh weather conditions aren't always the case, but if this winter is a brutal and cold one. Read on and get some helpful tips and tricks to make sure you won't run into this.
Here are a few steps to help prevent freezing in your water pipes:
- Check your homes crawl space, attic and exterior walls and make sure that the pipes in those walls are properly insulated. Exposed pipes are at a higher risk to freezing.
- Pipes can be wrapped with heat tape, or heat cables that are thermostatically controlled. Be sure to use products approved for those specific uses, and follow the directions (exterior use only, etc.).
- Use an indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. This will help reduce the chance of a pipe freezing in the span of pipe located in the house.
- Seal all leaks that allow airflow, and potential cold air inside near where pipes are located. Look especially for air leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents, pipes, and use caulk or insulation to keep the cold air out. When severe freezing occurs even a tiny little opening can let in enough air to cause a pipe to freeze.
- Turn on the faucets and let a small amount of hot and cold water to keep your pipes from freezing. Let warm water drip overnight, preferably from a faucet located on an exterior wall.
- Open cabinet doors underneath your sinks to allow heat to get un-insulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.
- Keep your thermostat set at the same temperature throughout the day and night. Some people let the temperature drop at night while they are sleeping but a sudden exterior temperature drop could catch you off guard and freeze your pipes.
- Keep the garage doors closed, especially if there are water pipes or supply lines located in the garage (ex. Washing machine, refrigerators, bathrooms, etc.). If the garage is attached to the home consider opening the door to the garage to allow home heat to enter the garage. Do not use kerosene or other fuel-fed heating devises in the garage to heat the space.
- Cover vents from the inside with insulation, cardboard, plastic, or newspaper if you cannot get them to close.
Water expands as it freezes. This expansion puts extreme pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to sever cold, like outdoor water faucets, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets. Also, pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation are subject to freezing.
For example, an 1/4th of an inch crack in a pipe can leak up to 500 gallons of water in a day, causing flooding, serious structural damage, and potential for mold growth.
Frozen pipes cause significant damage every year, but they often can be prevented. Taking a few simple steps, especially in the months leading up to the winter season, may save you from stress, expense, and an insurance claim.
If you do experience a frozen pipe burst make sure and call SERVPRO of Gig Harbor/N. Tacoma, or SERVPRO of Mason County. We will come in mitigated, and repair the damages…. making it "Like it never even happened."
Setting Expectations for Restoration Construction
You’ve just had your first ever insurance claim and you are learning as you go. Dry-out is complete, the mitigation equipment is finally out of your house, and a different company has called you to schedule an inspection to go over a repair estimate. What should you expect?
Keep in mind that going through an insurance claim can be like riding a roller coaster. There are slow parts, fast parts, and parts that make you feel kind of sick! You have this sudden event happen to you then you have all this momentum and people are coming in demoing, doing the mitigation, and setting up equipment. Then suddenly you have a sharp turn! Mitigation is done, and you are ready to start your repairs.
If you are familiar in the construction industry you may have a contractor you prefer to use for your repairs. If you do not have a specific contractor that you want to use-your insurance company will have recommendations for you in your area. An appointment will be scheduled between you and the general contractor to inspect the loss. When the estimator or project manager arrive to meet with you set aside a couple hours to walk them through what happened, show them the affected areas, and answer questions about what you had prior to the loss (cabinet material, flooring type, countertops, etc.).
The estimator will need anywhere from 24-72 hours to prepare the estimate. The estimate will then be sent over to the adjuster who generally reviews it within 24-72 hours. During this period it can be very frustrating as a homeowner not seeing any progress with the construction in your home, BUT this period is very important because they are making sure that the work the construction company indicates needs to be completed is covered and paid for by your insurance adjuster. If no approval is received and repairs get started then you can be stuck with a bill.
Once approval has been received for the estimate of repairs you’ll meet again with the general contractor and review a contract, schedule, and a material budget. It is the general contractor’s job to set you up with realistic expectations so they may tell you a few things that you do not want to hear:
- There are customers that are in front of you as far as scheduling is concerned. So once the contract is signed you may have to wait a week or two for repairs get started.
- Materials depending on where they are coming from can take anywhere from 1-4 weeks to arrive, and even longer during harsh weather events.
- The material budget may not be something that you agree with and want a higher budget, but the general contractor cannot approve that, only the insurance adjuster can. But be prepared to prove why you think you should have a higher budget for the materials.
- Be prepared to have your normal routine completely effected. If you work nights and sleep in, you may have to open your doors to construction technicians every day at 8:00AM.
It is important that you set realistic expectations, especially during the holiday season. Everyone wants their repairs completed before the holidays. Unfortunately, construction has a process and it has to follow that process even during the Christmas season.
During the repairs, you will see your house get dusty and dirty. You are technically in a construction zone! Just keep in mind that at the end of the job the contractor will clean up.
Since the contractor is in your home you may ask them to do some extra work for you, but prepare yourself to pay the difference. The insurance company will not pay for extra work, and no one works for free.
Now I feel like we have gone over all the difficult expectations, but there are some things to look forward to…
Take this time to really take advantage of the situation. You may have hated your wall colors, or wanted to replace your flooring. Maybe you had a bunch of stuff that you wanted to organize and get rid of some stuff. Look forward to the end product and just keep in mind that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Vacation Home Prep
Vacations are supposed to be a stress reliever. What happens when you come from vacation and you realize that you had a supply line burst and flooded your house, or you left a window open and a critter has made your home into theirs? I’ll tell you what happens your stress levels go from vacation mode, to full on stressed out!
There are a few simple ways to prepare and protect your home for a while you go on a vacation.
- Shut off your main water line. This will prevent any supply lines, or pipes, that may be on their last leg of life to burst while you are out of town. Imagine how long it would take for someone to notice that your house has been flooding if your gone…
- Double check that you have closed and locked all your windows and doors. This helps prevent little creatures and thieves from turning your home into their personal playground.
- Leave a car in the driveway. To the best of your ability make your home look like you haven’t left. Leave a car in the driveway, leave a strategic light on in the house, etc. Also another good deterrent is to let your neighbors know that you’ll be out of town. They can pick up packages/newspapers that are left on your doorstop that may give the impression that no one is home to pick them up.
- DO NOT POST ON SOCIAL MEDIA TILL YOU GET HOME. “OMG! On my way to the airport! Ready for this ten-day Hawaiian vacation to start!!” You might as well be saying “OMG! Now would be a really good time to rob me because you’ll have ten days where I won’t be home and you can take your time!!”.
- Don’t turn off the heat. You may think that now would be a great time to save some money on your energy bill. If you turn your heater off and your house drops in temperature you could do some serious damage to your home. Water in pipes can freeze, expand, break the pipes and cause thousands of dollars in water damages to your home.
I will never forget the first time I realized how important it was to take proper steps to prepare your home for vacation. I was on the emergency response team, and we were called out to a water loss. When we arrived the entire bottom floor of a 2500+ SF house had been flooded for over a month. The homeowners had gone to Europe for a vacation and they did not turn their water off. A supply line behind the refrigerator burst and flooded the house. The water ran for over 2 weeks. They had over a thousand-dollar water bill, and the entire downstairs floor 4 feet tall and below had to be cut because of the damages. There was mushrooms growing out of the outlets. Between the mitigation and the repairs it took them three months to get their home back to preloss conditions.
Getting ready for a vacation can be so exciting, to the point that we forget about our responsibilities. Taking a few hours to prepare your house for your vacation can eventually save you not only thousands of dollars, but it can also save you from unnecessary stresses!
Good bye Summer, hello Fall
As Summer winds down and Fall quickly approacher, have you looked at what you need to do to prepare your home for the winter months?
Here are some friendly tips and reminders:
* Check those gutters, make sure they are clean and ready for rain.
* Is your sump pump in working order?
* How is your roof looking?
* Remember in the colder months critters search for warmth too, that could mean tearing up your insulation in your crawl space. Nasty critters!
* Outside leaky faucets can lead to burst pipes.
* Any overgrown tree limbs that could break in the windy times?
Walk around your house and make a mental check list. Because before you know it, Fall will be here. It will be colder, darker and you'll wonder where the time has gone.
If you are a business owner, call our office today and ask about our ERP (Emergency Readiness Plan) special!