Cleaning and Maintenance Tips for your HVAC System
Proper HVAC maintenance is essential.
Dirty coils and clogged filters in your HVAC system could be costing you an extra $1,000 or more each season. We know you don’t want to spend that much extra money on your energy bills, so let’s talk about properly cleaning and maintaining your HVAC system.
Whether the seasonal changes are dramatic or mild, these systems require regular care, and it is vital to prepare your energy equipment for both colder and warmer weather in order to avoid breakdowns and those high costs. Today, we are going to share some tips with you for both cleaning and maintaining your HVAC system as well as some energy-saving tips:
- Change Filters. Your air conditioning filters will need to be changed once a month. This enables your unit to run efficiently, causing less wear and tear.
- Inspections. Take a close look at your ductwork to make sure it is not leaking.
- Weather Stripping. Replace weather stripping around exterior doors and windows and install this wherever it is lacking. Cracked and worn weather stripping allows cool air to escape, and when you keep this from happening, you could save up to 15 percent of your energy costs every month.
- Insulation. Make sure your home is properly insulated, using insulation with an R factor between 30 and 49 for the best savings.
- Temperature Regulation. Keep the temperature in your home cool at night and warm during the day while everyone is gone. You can use a programmable thermostat to regulate your temperatures for optimal comfort and efficiency. Keep doors and windows closed when the air conditioning is on, and use ceiling fans to circulate cool air.
Mold, mildew, pollutants, and toxins (such as formaldehyde, pesticides, and cigarette smoke) can become issues if your HVAC system isn’t kept clean, causing health problems. When cleaning and maintaining your HVAC system proves to be too big of a job for just you, you can call our team here at SERVPRO of Huron & East Seneca Counties. We have the experience and equipment necessary to take care of a job like this easily and quickly.
Preparing Your Business For Any Disaster
Follow these tips to be prepared in the face of the worst case scenario!
Disaster preparedness is a vital part of being a smart business owner. We all hope disaster never comes, but we need to be ready. If you don’t have a plan, it’s a good idea to consider one while everything is going well - once one occurs, it’s obviously too late, and it could be an extremely expensive omission. That’s a gamble that just isn’t worth taking.
A few steps you can take that will help prepare your business for any disaster:
- Risk Assessment. This is an essential first step and will help you understand threats to your business and the corresponding potential costs. If anyone on your team is hesitant to spend time on emergency preparedness, showing them the business impact numbers may help them to get behind the project.
- Team Building. Put together a cross-functional team that makes sense for your business, and clearly define the roles.
- Action plan. Define how your organization will respond to any disaster.
- Training. Train your staff to ensure that they have a clear understanding of what they are to do and that they are comfortable in carrying out their responsibilities. Live action practice can be invaluable here. Make sure you do regular updates and training to keep everyone ready.
- Supply Chain. Your immediate operations will be top of mind, but don’t forget your suppliers. A supplier disaster could cause you huge issues in your own operation.
- Monitor. Keep an eye on any threats that could be developing so that you can respond appropriately, and immediately, should the worst happen. Know what the threat is, and be ready for the worst. It may not be possible to have more than just a few minutes’ warning, but that can be essential when it comes to safety.
Being prepared for a disaster can seem overwhelming, but if you take it one step at a time, it can be accomplished. Call us here at SERVPRO of Huron & East Seneca Counties for help with your plan, and if the worst happens, we are here to help. We are experts in fire and water damage, and mold remediation is one of our specialties.
First Steps in Recovering From Water Damage
Flooding often can’t be predicted, so educating yourself on the areas most susceptible to flood damage will help you be prepared to handle such an event and will be helpful in the necessary recovery. Some areas of your home or business are going to be more likely to experience water damage than others, such as rooms that have sinks, as in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry areas, while low-lying areas like basements and cellars are also at risk. Keeping an eye on these spaces in your home or business will alert you to a developing issue and allow you to take the necessary steps to avoid further damage.
Here are some first steps you can take in recovering from water damage:
Basements and cellars, bathrooms and kitchens, workshops and garages, roofing and attics - all of these spaces either involve water or can be seriously affected by it. Pipes can become a real problem when they get clogged, leak, or wear out, and a roof that needs attention can allow damp conditions to develop, resulting in water damage.
- When damages from water become an issue, turn off all water sources immediately and soak up standing water using mops, or towels, blankets, and rags, being sure to remove them as they become saturated. Employ a shop vac if you have one, and get fans started to dry the affected areas as soon as possible.
- Remove and prop up all wet upholstery and cushions so that they can dry, and protect carpeting by placing wooden blocks or aluminum foil under furniture legs.
- During the summer, turn your air conditioning on for additional drying.
Be safe! A few cautions:
- Hang furs and leather goods and don’t leave wet fabrics lying on wet surfaces.
- Remove books and magazines from wet carpets or floors; the colored inks will leave marks.
- Refrain from using household appliances and ceiling fixtures.
- Avoid rooms with sagging ceilings.
- Wet materials are often extremely heavy; avoid moving anything that is difficult.
When you experience a water damage event, keep us in mind. Our team here at SERVPRO of Huron & East Seneca Counties has the experience and expertise that you will need in this kind of situation. We are also experts when it comes to fire damage and mold remediation.
Space Heater Fire Damage Prevention Tips
If not used correctly, a portable space heater is a potential fire damage hazard. Following the manufacturer’s recommendations is essential to maintain a safe environment for you and your loved ones. If your living spaces cannot be adequately heated through the installed heating system for the building itself, contact your landlord or do research to upgrade your home HVAC system. Government assistance may be available for those of lower incomes, and if the upgrade is considered environmentally conscious, many times there are rebates available for these types of improvements.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when thinking about preventing fires and fire damage while using a space heater:
- Your heater should be Underwriters Listed (UL) approved for intended use.
- A thermostat with an automatic shutoff that activates at the desired temperature is a great safety feature.
- Your heater should be kept at least 3 feet, or 36 inches, away from all combustible materials, such as cabinets, desks, trash cans, paper, and cardboard.
- Never place a space heater under a desk or other enclosed area.
- Your space heater must be monitored while in operation. If the heater is missing parts, such as control knobs, feet, or heat guards, take it out of service immediately and either have it repaired or replaced.
- Plug any heater directly into a wall unit, never an extension cord.
- Never use a space heater in areas that will not be occupied continually.
- Never use portable space heaters in damp areas, such as bathrooms or kitchens, and only use away from exits, walkways, and paths of travel.
- During use, check often to determine if the plug or cord of the heater, the wall outlet, or the faceplate is hot. If this is the case, discontinue the use of the heater immediately, and contact a qualified electrician to replace all faulty parts to help prevent possible fire damage.
- Always make sure that your space heater is set up on a stable and level surface in an area where it won’t be knocked over or accidentally moved too close to combustible objects or materials to avoid possible fires and fire damage.
During the winter months, over 79 percent of all home fire deaths involve the misuse of space heaters. Here at SERVPRO of Huron & East Seneca Counties, we care about your safety. Call us for help with water damages or fire damages to your home or business, and don’t forget that we are experts in the area of mold remediation and prevention.
Scheduling Regular Mold Inspections for Your Business
We’ve all seen ugly mold patches in corners and smelled musty odor in the bathroom. We’ve also heard that mold can sometimes be harmful, and we know that it thrives in humid environments, spreading very quickly and easily. But do you know that mold colonies needs less than 48 hours to begin growing? Or that dead mold spores are just as harmful as live ones, and that modern-day building practices actually promote mold growth?
Mold is a fungi that reproduces by making tiny spores which can survive extremely harsh weather conditions and spread easily over large areas. Mold spores exist everywhere in the outdoor environment and can get indoors through open doors, windows, air ducts, vents, etc. or even attached to clothes, shoes, and bags. Once the mold spores get into your business, they will wait for the right conditions to start developing.
The purpose of mold colonies in our ecosystem is to decompose dead organic material, and so it thrives in warm, humid conditions where organic “food” such as wood, paper, leather, fabric and upholstery, grout, paint, drywall, insulation materials, carpet, etc. is available in abundance. As soon as there is any source of moisture – like flooding, leaky roofs, pipe leaks, condensation, storm damage, or steam from cooking, the mold spores will begin reproducing and spreading all over your business.
Mold will begin growing within 24 to 48 hours when the right conditions are present. However, it can often remain hidden until the spores have already affected large areas of your property and caused considerable structural damage. This is because mold usually starts growing in very inconspicuous areas of the house – inside walls, behind leaky appliances, within insulation, throughout the HVAC system, in crawl spaces, and in other damp, dark places that humans don’t normally see. Scheduling regular mold inspections for your business will help you identify these areas right away, along with practices that could be encouraging the growth of a mold colony in your business spaces. A few of the most important precautions you can take:
- Ensuring good air circulation – keeping windows open, running bathroom fans, keeping air ducts clean and in good condition – can help reduce the risk of mold growth
- Keeping indoor humidity levels below 45 percent can inhibit mold growth
- Keeping your property in good repair (roofs and foundations, plumbing system, HVAC system) can prevent excessive moisture from entering your home and causing mold growth
- Inspecting your property at regular intervals, especially after a damp weather season, can help detect mold growth in its early stages and prevent it from spreading any further
- Adding mold-inhibitors to paints before the application can reduce the potential for mold growth
Here at SERVPRO of Huron & East Seneca Counties, we are mold remediation experts as well as fire damage, water damage, and storm damage remediation professionals.
Checking for Winter Water Damages in Your Apartment Complex
During the winter months, homes of all types are more susceptible to water damage caused by icy conditions. Keeping an eye on potential problems that can be caused by wintry weather will go a long way in preventing water damages to your apartment complex.
Here are some examples of areas you will want to take note of:
If ice builds up in the gutters of your complex, as it melts it can create water damage issues in the ceilings, walls, and floors of affected units. If you notice ice dams forming in these gutters, or you have long icicles forming on the edge of your roof, it's time for some investigating.
The roof of a home or building that has a lot of ice buildup is one that is not properly insulated. If this is a condition that you are seeing in your complex, you will want to take steps to increase insulation there. The weight of snow and ice can cause buckling, which will allow water to stand there longer than is normal - this then can lead to rotting of the roofing materials, followed by leaks and drips.
Water damage can happen quickly, as in the event of a flood, or it can occur over a period of time as in the case of a slow leak from ice dams. No matter what happens, once you discover that water has infiltrated your apartment complex, you will need to get the water cleaned up. Standing water in parking areas and walkways can be damaging to all types of surfaces, as well as dangerous for your residents as they enter and exit your property.
Enlisting the services of a professional to ensure that any influx of water and its aftermath gets cleaned up as well will be a great proactive step to take, keeping your property safe from winter water damages. Such companies are skilled in finding water that has seeped into areas not easily visible, such as walls and crawlspaces. They will find the source of the water and have the damage cleaned up in a professional and timely manner. If you clean up the mess yourself, you can leave behind small amounts of moisture that could allow the establishment of a mold colony, and that can spell disaster for the owner of an apartment complex.
Here at SERVPRO of Huron & East Seneca Counties, we are experts in mold prevention and mold remediation. Call us for help with winter water damage this season. We are also professionals at water damage, fire damage, and storm damage remediation.
Tips for Stormproofing Your Basement to Prevent Storm Damage
Winter brings with it lots and lots of water, whether in the form of rain, snow, or ice and sleet. Flooding and storm damage can be a common occurrence in many areas of the country this time of year, and your home or business can suffer, with building structures being affected negatively. In these times, contacting a professional water restoration company will be a great help, since such companies are experts in water damage cleanup and repair.
While flooding can’t be predicted most of the time, being aware of the areas of your home or business that are most prone to flooding during or after a storm will help you be prepared to handle, and even to prevent, storm damage. The low-lying areas of homes and businesses are most at risk, so taking extra precautions to stormproof your basement and cellar areas will save you a lot of time and money over time.
Basements and cellars will need to be regularly inspected during wet weather since they have a number of easy entry points for water. If there is heavy rainfall during inclement weather, or if the building is near a body of water such as a lake or river, flooding is a real danger. Keep an eye open for cracks in the foundation, ceiling, and walls of these areas.
Ensure that the doors and windows of the basement or cellar area are well-sealed against wet and stormy conditions. Entryways are also a potential problem area; make sure they are free of standing water and debris so that people don’t get hurt. Extra precautions here will also go a long way towards the prevention of any mold colonies being established.
Take steps to make sure that water is drained away from the foundations of your buildings. Standing water in these areas can create weaknesses in walls and foundational elements, eventually allowing water to leak into your basement area.
Our team of professionals here at SERVPRO of Huron & East Seneca Counties is experienced in all the repairs and cleanup needs that can come from storm damage, flood waters, water damage, and fire damage. Mold remediation is one of our specialties.
Top Water Damage Causes to Look for This Winter
Flooding is inconvenient, and a hazard, too. It can ruin your possessions and even affect the structure of your home or business. Contacting a professional water restoration company can greatly minimize any damages; such a company is able to complete all the necessary repairs in a timely and efficient manner.
While flooding often can’t be predicted, educating yourself on the most common areas to flood will help you be prepared to handle such an event, and even to prevent it! Some areas of your home or business are going to be more apt to experience water damage than others, such as rooms that have sinks, as in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry areas; low-lying areas like basements and cellars are also at risk.
Here is a list of some of the top water damage causes to look for:
- Bathrooms. The bathroom is the most likely area in your home to experience water damages. Sinks, toilets, showers and tubs...all involve H20, and they are all contained in one small area and connected to pipes, pipes that can be a source of problems if they become clogged, leak, freeze, or wear out. Human error can create an issue as well; we’ve all heard stories about the bath that overflowed or the toilet that sprung a serious leak due to foreign objects ending up there.
- Basements/Cellars. Basements and cellars are the lowest part of a house or building and so have a number of easy entry points for water. If there is heavy rainfall during inclement weather, or if the building is near a body of water such as a lake or river, they are going to be in danger. Make sure all weather stripping is in place and in good condition during regular inspections.
- Oftentimes the pipes for the bath and kitchen areas run through the basement, and sump pumps and drains are often found there. In addition, many homes have their water heating unit and laundry facilities in their basement or cellar. Keep an eye open for cracks in the foundation, ceiling, and walls of these areas.
- Attics/Roofs. A damaged roof, either from weather or fire, is susceptible to water damage and flooding the areas underneath. A small leak can turn into a big problem fast! Regular visits to your attic area will let you know if there has been any damage that will allow a leak to begin.
Our team of professionals here at SERVPRO of Huron & East Seneca Counties are experienced in repairs and cleanup from damages caused by water, fire, and mold. Call us today for all your cleanup projects both large and small
Winter Mold Prevention Tips
Even during the colder winter months, your home maintenance routine should include preventive measures when it comes to mold.
The kitchen, bath, and laundry spaces have a higher moisture level than most of the other rooms in your house, of course, and surfaces and flooring can become moldy quickly if not kept dry, even during the colder months. Once mold has established a hold on an area, it can come back even more quickly every time the humidity rises and can become a serious problem when the temperatures begin to rise later in the year, which make regular mold inspections a necessity.
Here are some tips to preventing mold growth in the first place:
- Paint your kitchen, bath, and laundry areas with mold resistant paint. Products of this type are readily accessible at your local hardware or home goods store.
- When doing any type of repair or renovation, check with a professional to find any available products that contain mold-resistant ingredients.
- Avoid standing water in any area of the home, both inside and out. During floor cleaning, use less water than you might otherwise, and always dry off countertops after cleaning, paying special attention to cracks and crevasses.
- In all windows in your home, ensure that weather stripping is in good repair in advance of bad weather.
- Keep an eye on older refrigerators for leaks from hoses and pipes leading to walls. Move them away from the wall periodically and clean behind and underneath them. Take a good look to make sure it’s in great shape while you’re back there. Use a flashlight if necessary to check for any water damage or mold growth.
- Ensure your kitchen, bath, and laundry areas are well-ventilated; you can always use a dehumidifier to help keep those spaces dry during wet weather to further prevent water damage and mold growth.
Keeping mold out of your kitchen and other living spaces will contribute to an overall cleaner space for the preparation of food and for entertaining and socializing during celebrations and parties. The kitchen is always the gathering place of any home, and the bathrooms are extremely important to keep fresh and clean for guests.
Here at SERVPRO of Huron & East Seneca Counties, we have the experience, knowledge, and expertise necessary to help you with any mold damage or preventive practices. We provide mold inspection and mold remediation services. We are also available for cleanup after fire damage and water damage, and we serve the greater East Seneca areas.
Winter Cleaning Tips to Keep You Safe from Fire Damage
A fireplace is a wonderful thing to have where people gather for warmth and companionship. A lit fireplace provides a wonderful ambiance to any room, and even more fantastic to have during really severe cold weather, such as blizzards and ice storms. The mantel is a great place to display pictures of family and friends or decorations for celebrations like Valentine’s Day or birthdays.
But a fireplace can also be dangerous if not cared for properly. Animals can build nests in your chimney during the warmer months without you ever knowing, and we can all just imagine what can happen when the first fire of the season is lit in a case like that!
Here are some precautions to think about; being prepared can greatly reduce the chance of a chimney fire in your home fireplace.
- First, do an inspection. (If you have a steep roof, then this isn’t a DIY project, and you need to enlist the help of a professional, for obvious safety reasons.) There are certified chimney sweeps throughout the country and they can easily be enlisted to help with your winter chimney cleaning project. During the inspection, you are looking for creosote buildup. It may not seem like a big deal, but it ignites at only 451 degrees and expands from there, possibly increasing temperatures to over 2,000 degrees. At that temperature, it can engulf your entire chimney and potentially destroy your home or cause some serious fire damage.
- If you are in the habit of burning green wood, make sure you have your chimney cleaned or inspected every 50 burns or so. To know whether your wood is green or not, look for moisture bubbling out from the cut ends of the log. Wet, green wood doesn’t burn cleanly and will send particles up your chimney, which in turn builds up as creosote and soot. Choose hardwoods such as oak or birch, which burn hotter and cleaner.
- A professional cleaning would include an inspection for soot build-up and for cracks or obstructions that could cause issues. Older chimneys can sometimes have gaps in the clay liner where mortar has fallen out, which causes water damage and can make your chimney unstable. If you do find yourself in need of a chimney sweep, look for someone who is insured and properly certified in your area. They will ensure that you are safe from fire damage due to an unkempt fireplace and chimney
The SERVPRO of Huron & East Seneca Counties team has years of experience dealing with fire damage, and we’re here to handle any damages in your home or business, should the worst ever happen. We also take care of water damage restoration, and keep in mind that we are also mold prevention and remediation specialists able to offer mold inspection and mold remediation services, as well.