Recent Posts

Should I Worry About the Water in My Crawlspace?

11/24/2021 (Permalink)

Basement flooded. A wet crawl space can lead to mold damage, causing structural issues in your Emporia, VA home.

If your home has a wet crawl space, you could be breeding mold without knowing it. Mold in a crawl space can spread to piers and joists, causing structural issues, and into the home through the ventilation system.

Reasons You Have a Wet Crawl Space

Mold thrives in areas with high moisture. There are several reasons why your crawl space may be wet.

1. Issues With Landscaping

A properly graded landscape will cause water to drain away from your home. A poorly graded landscape may cause water to pool around the crawl space, leading to flooding. You can fix this problem by building up a six to eight-inch slope that extends for the first six to eight feet away from your foundation walls. Check it in the spring to make sure it hasn't shifted or washed away.

2. Broken Water Lines

A water pipe that has broken or has a slow leak can cause water to accumulate in your crawl space. Because water trickles down, even a leak on the upper floor of your home can cause water to pool under your house. If you have noticed wet spots or water stains or your water bill has been going up, call a plumber in Emporia, VA, to inspect your pipes.

3. Problems With Gutters and Downspouts

If your gutters are full of debris or your downspouts don't point in the right direction, water can collect in your crawl space. Clean your gutters regularly or install a guard to keep debris such as leaves, sticks, and birds' nests out of it. Make sure your downspouts are pointed away from your home and have a two-foot splash block at the base to direct water away. If your downspout is pointed towards your house, it can wash away the soil and lead to a flood in your crawl space.

4. Over-Watering Flower Beds

If you forget to turn off your garden hose or over-water your plants, water may pool next to your foundation and seep into the crawl space. If you forget to turn the hose off and the water creates a hole, fill it in. Avoid watering plants more often than you need to. In addition to causing problems for your crawl space, it can damage the health of your plants.

5. Underground Water Issues

If you have sewer or water lines under your house and one break, you may need to contact the city or utility company that owns it to make repairs. Underground water issues can also be caused by foundation walls that form a dam that causes water to seep underground. Sometimes underground drains can become plugged or damaged or may not be sloped correctly. Heavy rain may lead to saturated soil that causes water to pool in your crawl space. Waterproofing your crawl space by gluing a thick sheet of plastic to the ground and walls may help you avoid the need for mold remediation.

Controlling moisture is the key to mold prevention. Avoiding a wet crawl space will help you avoid mold issues that could spread to the rest of your home.

Dealing With a Basement Flood

11/24/2021 (Permalink)

Basement. A basement flood is a common issue in Emporia, VA. Call SERVPRO to get help!

Flooding in the basement is a common issue that homeowners have to deal with. The excess water can come from a storm, a broken pipe, a leaking washer, or any other sources. The good news is that you don't have to handle it alone. SERVPRO of Emporia, VA, is Here to Help.

Steps To Deal With a Basement Flood.

Put Safety First

The first thing you need to consider when you discover a basement flood is the safety of you and your family. There are a few tips to keep in mind with standing water:

Shut off the power. The first thing you need to do is shut off all electricity or other power sources in the basement. This keeps the water from accidentally coming into contact with live wires or outlets.

Wear protective gear. You may need to enter the water to save a valuable item or investigate the problem, but you should never do so without the proper protective equipment. Wear rubber boots, gloves, and a face mask if you must wade into the water.

Find the source. The contamination level of the water depends mainly on where it comes from. Try to determine whether the problem is the result of a busted pipe, storm flooding, or sewer backup.

Call SERVPRO

After a quick assessment of the issue, it's time to call in the professionals. Many insurance providers list SERVPRO as a preferred vendor for residential mitigation and restoration services due to its 24-hour emergency response. When you have several inches of water in your basement, you don't have time to wait for technicians who drag their feet getting to you.

The SERVPRO team arrives within hours of your call to remove the excess water and assess the damage it leaves behind. Soon afterward, the assessment is uploaded to the Claims Information Center where you can have full access to the itemized details, estimate, and progress of the cleanup process.

Increase Airflow

Excess water and the humidity it generates can lead to secondary damage to your basement. To minimize your risk, increase airflow to the area. Industrial fans help dry out materials, thus helping to prevent mold. If your basement has windows, leave them cracked to create a cross breeze through the room.

Prevent Future Flooding

Once the water damage is repaired and your basement is restored to its former state, there are some precautions you can take to prevent the problem from happening again. Make sure your basement is properly sealed from the outside so that any water that happens to pool around the foundation can't get in. Clear gutters and downspouts so that rain is directed away from your home. Confirm that any necessary pipe repair is complete before you turn the water back on. Finally, consider installing a sump pump in your basement.

Flooding in your basement may occur from time to time, particularly if you live in a flood plain. You don't have to tackle such a huge problem all by yourself, though. Call SERVPRO when you need help removing water, mitigating the damage it causes, and rebuilding the structure of the basement.

What To Expect From Black Mold Remediation

11/19/2021 (Permalink)

Black Mold When Black Mold shows up in your South Boston, VA, building, don't hesitate to call us.

When you spot black mold in your South Boston, VA, building, your next actions will either positively or negatively impact your property. Although mold is a natural part of the environment and can quickly take up residence in just about any environmental conditions, it can cause a lot of trouble for you as a property owner. You need professional mold remediation as quickly as possible.

6 Steps in the Treatment of Black Mold

If it isn't treated quickly, mold will spread through your building and may travel to other buildings on your property. Some of the following steps will be taken by professionals, and some are your responsibility:

1. Assessments and Reports

A mold inspector will complete a thorough assessment, test moisture levels, and check air quality. This professional will carefully document the type of molds in the area and determine how far mold colonies have spread. The completed report may be shared with you, your insurance agency, and the remediation company.

2. Prevention and Preparation

Before the mold cleanup crew arrives, there are a couple of things you should do. The first is to identify any problematic sources of water. Figure out whether a cracked pipe or a leaky air conditioner caused the black mold. A mold issue won't be fully resolved until the source of moisture has been corrected.

You also need to prepare a path to the affected area. Remediation crews often have a lot of equipment and will need to have plenty of room to maneuver.

3. Containment and Personal Protection Equipment

The cleanup and remediation process often releases mold spores from behind drywall or underneath carpeting. To prevent those spores from spreading throughout your building, technicians may put up plastic sheeting and close off the area where they are working. It's important that you keep the HVAC system turned off and limit any traffic through the affected space. Technicians may also wear boots, gloves, and other protective clothing to prevent the spread of spores.

4. Removal of Affected Materials

Any affected building materials that can't be cleaned will be removed from the building. This generally includes most porous items. Technicians may double bag drywall, carpeting, and other materials before disposing of them.

5. Cleanup and Disinfection

Mold cleanup crews may begin by applying a biocide to kill mold and prevent any further spread. Bleach is not a biocide. The chemicals used by professionals are approved by the EPA and may not be commonly available. After a waiting period for the biocide to kill the mold, crews will wipe up the mold or use specialized vacuums. The area may be repainted or whitewashed to seal the remaining materials and prevent new growth.

6. Time for Drying and Final Assessment

Once all of the treated surfaces have dried, the mold inspector will return to test for spores and to check air quality again. With the final assessment and reports complete and the original cause of mold growth has been corrected, it should be safe for people to return to the area. Black mold can cause a lot of damage in your building, but if you catch and treat it quickly, you can limit that danger and minimize any inconvenience.

Protecting Your Home Against Flood Water and Storm Damage

10/29/2021 (Permalink)

Hands protecting a tree from lightning. Storms can produce water damage and flooding in your South Boston, VA home.

It doesn't take much for flood water to damage your home. A couple of inches can ruin flooring and lead to foundational concerns and damage. Keeping your home safe against rising waters might seem impossible. Still, there are several steps you can take to limit or avoid extensive damage, according to water mitigation experts in South Boston, VA.

4 Ways To Protect Your Home and Belongings From Flood Water

A flooded building has many vulnerabilities, from structure to electrical systems. As homeowners, your insight is to salvage as much as possible before the water level gets too high. Unfortunately, not every flood will provide enough time to adjust your living space and save vulnerable items. Therefore, it is best to consider the four ways to protect your home and belongings from flooding.

1. Waterproof Your Basement

If your goal is to avoid water damage, consider waterproofing your basement. There are a couple of ways to waterproof: internally and externally. Using a coating system inside your home can significantly reduce your risks of damage, but these systems are not as effective as external waterproofing methods; however, they are much cheaper and more practical.

External waterproofing involves digging down around your home's foundation and adhering a waterproofing membrane to the house. External methods are more effective than internal sealing methods, but because of the labor involved, they are more expensive and time-consuming.

2. Purchase Flood Insurance

While purchasing flood insurance will not protect your physical belongings from water, it does provide monetary protection against flooding. However, when you buy flood insurance for your home, make sure you read the policy carefully. Most insurance policies will come with a list of exclusions — circumstances that are not covered.

A policy might cover internal floods, like sewage backups or supply line breaks, but it will not cover external flooding from storms or public sewer overflow. Reading your policy and asking questions is the best way to ensure you get the coverage you want and need.

3. Elevate Electrical Components and Valuables

If you are aware of an impending flood or storm surge, take action to protect vulnerable items in your home. You will want to unplug all appliances and electronics and elevate them. It would be best if you tried to move all items to the highest level in your home, a second floor or attic space. If there is time, transport your valuables to an external storage unit well outside of the flood zone.

Additionally, refrain from using any electrical outlets after the flood recedes. It is always best to have electrical systems inspected, even if they appear to be working.

4. Pack an Emergency Kit

When a flood occurs, you have no way of knowing how fast the waters will rise or when they will stop. FEMA recommends having an emergency kit packed and ready to go at all times. The emergency pack should include food, water, first aid, and any medications you need. Each family member should have their own kit.

Protecting your home against flood water is about more than physical preparations; insurance and emergency planning are just as important to the process. Check out the FEMA website for more information.

Furnace Maintenance Tips To Avoid Fire Cleaning

10/24/2021 (Permalink)

Furnace Maintenance. Make a maintenance schedule for the furnace in your home in Emporia, VA, to avoid fire and smoke damage.

The furnace in your home in Emporia, VA, helps to regulate the indoor temperature. When it breaks down, it can affect not only your family's comfort level but also the overall safety of your home. To avoid the need for fire cleaning due to a smoking furnace, it's in your best interest to establish and stick to a regular maintenance schedule.

Prevent Need for Smoke Cleaning With Basic Checks

The first sign that there is a problem with the furnace is often the temperature inside the house. You set the thermostat to your preferred comfort level, and the system does not respond. Unless your furnace is actually smoking, it is best, to begin with, a few basic checks:

  • Check to see if the breaker powering the furnace or system has been tripped.
  • Raise the thermostat a few more degrees to see if that triggers the automatic start.
  • Push the reset button on the furnace.
  • Check the pilot light on a gas furnace or the oil level on an oil-fueled model.

Despite the simplicity of these small checks, sometimes one of them is just the jumpstart the system needs. There are other situations in which turning it off and on again is not the answer, though.

Replace Filter To Keep Intake Clean

Dirt and furnaces aren't a good mix. According to fire cleaning experts, dust that gets inside the furnace can make it less efficient and waste energy. It also can become a fire hazard if the problem gets too out of hand. If you have ever experienced the unpleasant smell of dust burning off the coils of a unit during its first use of the season, you can probably imagine how easily a fire could erupt.

There are two things you can do to keep dirt out of your unit. First, replace or clean the filter on a regular basis. In a home where the system gets a lot of use, it's smart to check the filter to see if it needs changing every other month. Second, have your furnace cleaned at least once a year to remove the dust that does get past the filter.

Schedule a Professional Tune-Up Appointment

Other than dirt in the system, there are several reasons why a furnace may not work as well as it should. Fuel may not be getting to the unit or may not be igniting properly when it does. The blower that distributes air to the house may malfunction. A faulty thermostat can also cause problems.

Regular professional maintenance can identify these problems early and fix them before they turn catastrophic. A tune-up right before the first cold snap can keep you from needing smoke cleaning as the furnace begins to work harder to warm your home. Another inspection after the worst of winter is over catches any issues that need repair before summer begins.

A trusted fire cleaning team can mitigate the mess caused by a smoking furnace, but it's better to prevent the problem in the first place. With a few basic tricks and regular maintenance, your furnace can work more reliably.

Best Water Upgrade To Reduce Commercial Water Consumption

10/7/2021 (Permalink)

Hands holding the world. Pipe bursts cause water loss and damage in your South Boston, VA commercial.

Many commercial operations use a large amount of water. With extreme weather events becoming more common and straining the water supply in many areas, water conservation is one of the most critically important water issues faced by environmentalists.

6 Water Upgrade Tips

Conserving water is good for both the environment and your business. Using less water can lower your water bills, allow you to take advantage of tax incentive programs, and improve your reputation with customers. These tips can help you conserve water in your commercial buildings.

1. Install Low-Flow Fixtures

Low-flow fixtures, such as high-efficiency toilets, faucet aerators, and low-flow showerheads can reduce water consumption in your commercial buildings. This is particularly important for operations, such as hotels, that utilize many of these fixtures. Upgrading your fixtures can also help you qualify for LEED certification and may make you eligible for initiatives offered by the EPA or your local government in South Boston, VA. Additionally, updating your fixtures can help you avoid water damage caused by aging plumbing.

2. Insulate Pipes

When hot water pipes are not insulated, users must wait for hot water to start coming out of the tap, which wastes water. Insulting the pipes eliminates the need to wait for the water to get hot and controls heat loss from the pipes, which saves the energy required to heat the water.

3. Optimize Cooling Towers

Cooling towers use a large amount of water through drift, evaporation, and blowdown. By carefully monitoring and controlling the blowdown quantity of your cooling towers, you can significantly reduce the amount of water used. You can achieve this by maximizing cycles of concentration. Increase your cycles from three to six to reduce make-up water by 20% and blowdown by 50%. If you don't already have monitoring technology installed, consider installing it to make this process easier.

4. Regulate Water Pressure

Pipe bursts are one of the most common water issues that lead to water waste. A broken pipe can waste thousands of gallons of water, which is not only bad for water conservation but can cause significant damage to your property, requiring water remediation services. Keep your building water pressure between 65-80psi to avoid damaging fixtures and increasing your chance of a burst pipe.

5. Add Rain Sensors To Your Irrigation System

Most people have probably driven past a commercial sprinkler system running in the middle of a rainstorm. You can avoid wasting water this way by adding rain sensors to your irrigation system. The sensors shut down your irrigation system when rain is detected and return the system to its regular schedule when the rain stops.

6. Utilize Water Monitoring Technology

A smart water monitoring system can provide you with data about your daily, hourly, and monthly water usage. The data from monitoring systems can help you judge how well your conservation efforts are working and spot any unexpected increases in water use.

Conserving water is one of the most important water issues that commercial operations have direct control over. These tips can help you do your part to ensure everyone has access to water now and in the future.

What You Need To Know About Insurance Claims And Raised Rates

9/21/2021 (Permalink)

Insurance claim form. Learn more about Insurance Claims to protect your Emporia, VA home.

People purchase home insurance to protect themselves against risks like water damage, but is it wise to use your insurance or file a claim after every disaster? While it seems like you should be able to, using your insurance too often or at all can lead to rate hikes. Therefore, it is necessary to know when filing an insurance claim is worth the risk of increased premiums.

What to Know About Insurance Claims

The Cost of Using Your Insurance

Using your insurance policy will typically not cover the entire remediation or restoration expense for your property. In most cases, people have a deductible, the amount of money they must pay before they can tap into their policy. Therefore, while you might want assistance covering the costs of damages and repairs, consider the full expense, including your deductible.

If you have a $1,000 deductible, it is not worth filing a claim for anything less than that. Filing a claim for damage you will end up paying for only increases the risks of rate hikes. Instead of filing for every issue, use your insurance only when you need to, when the damage is extensive and far exceeds your deductible.

Why Insurance Rates Go Up

Your insurance premiums or rates have to do with risks. If you file claims willy-nilly, the insurance company begins to look at you as increased liability, meaning it will probably increase your premiums.

Essentially, an insurance company is a for-profit entity, and it wants to make money off every client. Therefore, the company assesses the likelihood of clients making claims. Clients who are less likely to make an insurance claim receive better rates, while those who routinely use their policies will have higher premiums. In other words, the more you use your coverage, the more of a risk you are to the insurer.

Risks of Filing a Claim

Even clients who rarely use their insurance policies can be at risk of higher rates when they make a claim, depending on the claim and its preventability. Typically, insurance companies will not approve claims when the client is blatantly responsible. However, sometimes a client is responsible for the damage because of a lack of knowledge. An insurer might still cover damages, but it might reassess the liability the client presents.

Additionally, if you file multiple claims within a short period, your insurer might reassess your rates. The insurer is always evaluating clients and claims. Even if you rarely file a claim, the insurance company might reassess your profile, resulting in higher premiums.

When Should You File a Claim

You can file a claim when dealing with a significant disaster, such as a home flood from a burst pipe. When a claim is beyond your deductible, it is wise to file. However, you will also want to consider how many claims you have filed in the past because frequency can matter.

By all means, if you suffer a disaster, file an insurance claim and seek remediation and restoration through a licensed specialist, like SERVPRO, in Emporia, VA. However, just know that filing a claim can lead to higher premiums, depending on the circumstances.

Can Business Owners Be Sued for Mold Growth?

9/20/2021 (Permalink)

Mold growth in a kitchen. Mold grows in moisture environments in your company in Emporia, VA.

Because mold can damage buildings and personal property, mold insurance claims and lawsuits are sometimes filed against building owners, contractors, and other types of businesses because of mold damage. This guide provides an overview of what you need to know about mold growth lawsuits.

What Is Mold?

Molds are a type of naturally occurring fungi found in most indoor and outdoor environments. The thousands of different species reproduce by creating spores that travel to different locations through the air. Mold needs oxygen and moisture to grow and is often found in damp environments:

  • Wet foundations
  • Areas with leaking pipes
  • Surfaces with condensation
  • Buildings with poor ventilation
  • Spaces with poor air circulation

When Can Businesses Be Liable for Damages?

Businesses are sometimes liable for mold-related damages suffered by customers, tenants, employees, or others. Some types of businesses are more likely to experience a mold claim than others. Examples include property managers, landlords, architects, contractors, and structural engineers.

When Can Landlords or Property Managers Be Sued for Mold Damages?

Most states require residential landlords to maintain the rental property in habitable condition. If a landlord or property manager fails to take proper mold remediation steps, such as contacting a mold remediation company in Emporia, VA, to remove mold growth, and a tenant's property is damaged because of a mold infestation, the landlord may be liable for damages. The landlord may also be liable for expenses incurred by a tenant who must move out of a rental that is not safe to live in because of mold. Commercial landlords are generally not held to as high a standard but may be subject to mold insurance claims if their negligence causes the building to become unfit for its intended use.

When Can Contractors Be Sued for Mold Damages?

Because water damage can lead to mold growth, contractors may be sued if defects in their work cause water leaks or other problems that contribute to mold infestations. Claims against contractors usually result from allegations that the contractor used the wrong types of materials, installed materials incorrectly, or caused damage during the construction process that led to the mold problem.

When Can Architects and Structural Engineers Be Sued for Mold Damages?

Structural engineers and architects may be liable for damages when the design of a building or its systems results in excessive moisture that contributes to mold growth. Claims may arise if the mold growth causes damage to the claimant's property.

How Can Business Owners Avoid Mold Lawsuits?

Taking steps to prevent mold from growing is the most important strategy for avoiding lawsuits. Building owners should regularly check buildings for sources of moisture, such as condensation, leaks, poor drainage, and faulty window seals. Ventilation and HVAC systems should also be regularly inspected. When problems are found, take immediate action to dry out wet properties and fix the source of the excess moisture.

Mold insurance claims and lawsuits can result when business owners fail to take appropriate steps to prevent mold infestations. Some commercial insurance policies specifically exclude coverage for mold damage, so it may be a good idea to speak with your insurance professional to ensure you are protected.

How To Prevent Pipes From Freezing

9/20/2021 (Permalink)

Frozen pipe. Prevent frozen pipes to avoid further damage in the pipes of your Surry, VA home.

Winter can take a toll on your home in Surry, VA. One of the most common problems homeowners face when a big freeze hits the area is frozen pipes. Not only does this issue keep water from getting where it needs to go, but it can also cause a great deal of damage to the space around the fissure. Here are several ways you can keep your pipes from freezing and tips on how to handle the mess if they do.

Prevent Frozen Pipes

Winterize Your Home

Before the first freeze, your maintenance plan should include getting your house ready for cold extremes. There are several tasks you must check off your list to prepare for winter:

  • Tune-up furnace
  • Replace old insulation
  • Check for air leaks in windows and doors
  • Make sure the attic is properly ventilated

Winterization makes good economic and ecological sense by saving energy, but that's not the only benefit. By taking measures to keep cold air out of your home and warm air inside, you are more likely to avoid a pipe freeze.

Keep Pipes Warm

Even if your plumbing is located within an exterior wall, you can still avoid frozen pipes by keeping them warm. In addition to the insulation in the wall, you can insulate the pipes themselves, giving them extra protection. Heat cables can also be wrapped around pipes to keep them from freezing. For extra warmth, consider keeping cabinets open and a small drip going overnight.

Keep Thermostat Consistent

When you see your utility bill start to skyrocket during the winter, it can be tempting to turn the heater off during the day while everyone is at work or school. This can end up costing you more trouble and money in the long run, though. Pipes can freeze even when the sun's out if the temperature is cold enough. Keep your thermostat set to at least 55 degrees throughout the season to protect them.

Safeguard Outdoor Faucets

Some of the most vulnerable pipes in your home are the ones attached to outdoor faucets. Since you probably don't use your garden hoses often when it's cold outside, detach them from their water sources and store them for the winter. Then drain the line that leads to the pipe so that no water can get trapped and bust the pipe. Cover the faucet to protect it from the elements.

Clean Up Quickly

Despite your best preparation, pipes can still freeze, especially if your area experiences blackouts that cause you to lose power to your home for many hours. If this happens, you may still be able to avoid extensive damage by turning off the water main and warming exposed pipes with a hairdryer. If this doesn't help, the pipe burst may be inside the wall. Call a plumber as soon as possible to fix the pipe, and contact water damage mitigation specialists to remove ruined materials and restore the structure surrounding the pipe.

There are many things you can do to prevent frozen pipes in your home. Take the necessary precautions and keep trusted professionals on speed dial to protect your home during winter.

Tips for Keeping Pets Safe During a Fire

8/26/2021 (Permalink)

A dog. Train your pets so they would know how to act if a fire emergency happens in your South Boston, VA, home.

If you have children, you have probably taught them what to do if a fire breaks out in your home in South Boston, VA. What about your family pets? Here are some fire emergency tips as well as extra precautions you can take to keep your beloved animals safe.

Evacuation Plans

You want your pets to be able to get out of your burning house and make it to safety. There are several considerations to add to the family evacuation plan if you have pets in your home:

Practice - Pets should be part of your family fire drills. It teaches them to come to you when they hear the sound of the smoke alarm and follow your lead out of the house rather than finding a place inside to hide.

Survival kits - Just as each family member should have an emergency kit packed and ready to go in case of a fire, so should your pet. Include food, treats, and copies of important documents such as shot records.

Carriers - If your pets are small enough to fit in a carrier, it's a good idea to have one handy enough to grab quickly during fire evacuation. It's much easier to carry a scared animal out in a carrier than in your arms.

Home Alone Strategies

Pet safety can be trickier when you are not at home with them, but it's still possible. Animals are just as curious about their environments as young children, so put yourself in that mindset before you leave them to freely roam the house in your absence. Go through each room in your house and imagine what you would want to change if you knew a toddler was going to be alone in the room for a few minutes.

To avoid a fire emergency in the kitchen in your absence, fire damage remediation experts recommend that you remove the knobs on the stove or cover them so that they cannot turn easily even with persistent nudging. Keep cords hidden or out of reach of animals that tend to learn by chewing. Consider keeping young animals or pets in training crated or confined to a small area, preferably near the front door where firefighters can easily find them, while you are gone.

Fire Safety Measures

Part of pet preparation for the house is getting rid of things that enhance the opportunity for fire to break out. Even when you are at home, excited or curious pets can make extra fire precautions necessary. You may love the look of candles but unfortunately, so does your cat. Consider switching to flameless candles or other types of subtle lighting that don't have an open flame. The main thing to remember is that you should never leave anything that could cause a fire if bumped or tipped over unattended, especially if you have pets.

It's important to follow fire safety tips that take every member of the family into account. Including pets, in your fire, emergency plan, and taking extra precautions to guard against safety hazards helps protect every family member, even the furry ones.