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How to Identify Mold

7/28/2020 (Permalink)

Mold growing on ceiling panels Mold growing on ceiling panels

Homes around the globe, even those in Delano, MN, are susceptible to mold. Spores can be dangerously destructive, so periodically conduct a comprehensive mold inspection throughout your residence and proactively seek out these nefarious threats.

What to Look for When Checking for Mold

Detecting mold is easy, but understanding the below facts about mold will help speed up the discovery process.

Not all molds look the same. They come in many colors, ranging from green to yellow or even blue and orange, as well as different shapes. Keep an eye out for these variations.
Mold requires moisture in order to survive, so pay close attention to heavily damp areas featuring faucets, leaky pipes or steam.
Mold has a distinct, musty smell so let your nose guide you in the right direction.
Check out places mold commonly accumulates, such as inside HVAC ducts, covering the interiors of old, unpacked boxes or within long-neglected car trunks. Washing machines, dishwashers and refrigerators have all been known to suffer from mold.

By conducting a surface mold inspection using only your eyes and nose, you can usually identify whether or not a problem lurks nearby. Keep in mind that while black mold (scientifically known as stachybotrys chartarum) is non-toxic, many other types of mold may not be. Remember, wearing protective equipment before crawling into areas you suspect might be infected is always a wise precaution.

What to Do if You Find Mold
If you believe mold has grown in or around any section of your home, call a mold removal specialist urgently. The consequences of waiting to remove house mold can be disastrous. Never compound mold damage by allowing it to worsen over time.
Finding mold isn’t difficult, but no matter where you discover mold hiding it must be taken care of promptly. Periodically conducting a complete mold inspection throughout your home means early diagnosis, an easy step towards minimizing mold cleanup.

Why Is Mold Such a Concern After a Storm?

7/24/2020 (Permalink)

Storms pass through St. Michael, MN, often. When these chains of weather are particularly nasty, your commercial building may get beaten down and damaged. Storms can lead to hail, water or wind damage, but often the problems caused by storms are associated with mold growth. There are several reasons why your building may be at a higher risk for mold after a storm.

4 Reasons Why Mold May Grow After a Storm

  • Less protection. When winds tear your roof off, your building is open to all sorts of issues. Even light rain can cause water pockets to form in your attic or down your walls. Storms have a way of weakening the protection your building has, which could translate to more water problems and fungus growth.
  • Standing water. Some storms are accompanied by large amounts of water. If your basement is left flooded after bad weather rolls through, you need to get the issue addressed as quickly as possible. Storm water is often full of contaminants, which can cause mold to start growing in as little as 24 to 48 hours after the initial flood.
  • Passing time. Bad weather has a way of making normal activities hard to do. If the storm caused roads to shut down or your building to be unsafe, it may take a while for you or a remediation team to get into the building. This passing time increases the chances that bacteria and mold spores will cause bigger issues on your property.
  • Missed issues. Even if you were able to address roof repairs, broken windows and flooding right away, there is always the chance that a small problem was missed during the restoration. Even a small hole in the siding of your building can grow and cause a bigger mess. This small hole, for example, could let water in between your siding and sheathing. When this happens, mold growth is likely.

Mold growth does not always happen after storms. If you suspect fungus could be growing in your commercial space, it may be a good idea to get it looked at as soon as possible.

After an Apartment Fire, Who’s Responsible for Damages: Landlord or Tenant?

7/7/2020 (Permalink)

Walls burned. Inside of an apartment building burned. Concept Fire damage in an apartment Apartment fire in Clearwater, MN

After an Apartment Fire, Who’s Responsible for Damages: Landlord or Tenant?

Many people who choose to rent do so because renting comes with less responsibility than owning. Most aspects of building ownership fall to the landlord, including building maintenance, lawncare, property taxes, and repairs. However, tenants still have some obligation to keep the property safe and clean, an obligation that comes into question following an apartment fire. If you own a commercial building, and if you wonder who pays for fire damage — you or the tenant — know that the answer depends on a few different factors:

  • The type of damage sustained
  • Who started the fire
  • State laws

Each of these factors plays into the legal liability following a commercial fire.

Property Vs. Personal Damage
In most cases, who pays for damages largely depends on the type of damage that occurred. When it comes to structural damages, such as damage to the walls, cabinetry, countertops, and plumbing, you, the landlord, must pay. However, the tenant is responsible for the loss of personal property, such as clothing, electronics, and jewelry, following an apartment fire.

The standard way of dealing with fire damage may not apply if one party can prove, without a doubt, that the other was wholly responsible for the fire. For instance, if a tenant informed you about water damage on the ceiling near an electrical wire, and if you failed to act within a reasonable time to remedy the issue, you may have to pay for all damages caused by an ensuing fire. “All damages” include loss of personal property, relocation expenses, lost wages, and the cost of new housing.
On the other hand, if you can prove the tenant’s negligence caused the fire, the tenant may have to pay for structural damages. Negligence may include falling asleep with a cigarette in hand or having a bonfire too close to the structure.

State Laws
Many states require landlords to keep rental units “habitable.” If a small apartment fire results in damages to an aspect that renders the unit uninhabitable, such as the toilet or kitchen sink, you may have to pay for repairs, regardless of fault.
You can minimize the cost of fire damage by acting quickly. A fire restoration company in Clearwater, MN, can help you restore your unit in the most cost-effective and efficient way possible.

Quarter 2 One Team MVP Award

6/29/2020 (Permalink)

guys standing by wall Joe and Shaun Hickman- Owners of SERVPRO of Wright County

Joe Hickman and Shaun Hickman are co-owners of SERVPRO of Wright County in Minnesota. Their family previously owned a Servicemaster franchise, but when the brothers decided to start their own restoration company, they chose to go with SERVPRO. They recognized the importance of brand leadership and the reputation of SERVPRO as the industry leader.

They continue to excel year after year, and they had a 48% volume increase in 2019. They are currently at a 38% volume increase in 2020 YTD. This says a lot about how they run their franchise by continuing to grow despite facing so many challenges in our current year. They continue to grow in water, fire, and reconstruction. One of their goals this year is to grow commercial work. So far, their commercial service line is up 97% over last year, largely due to reconstruction and fire jobs. Talk about driving the five!

Joe and Shaun have built a strong reputation in their community, and they are personally responsible for many of the relationships they have with adjusters and property managers. They attribute much of their growth to those relationships that they have cultivated over the years. Shaun and Joe are very active in these relationships and are the driving force behind these connections. To build upon this, they have developed a strong sales and marketing team that is very active in community events. They do an excellent job representing the SERVPRO brand.

The Hickmans have built a strong production team and have established the expectation of quality work from SERVPRO of Wright County. All teammates at the franchise focus on providing an excellent customer service experience for their customers.

A franchise trainer spoke very highly of the Hickmans: "Joe and Shaun are a great balance to each other as brothers and co-owners. They are passionate about what they do. They value their team, and they ensure the team knows and feels that. They are leaders in the franchise community in Minnesota. They are highly respected by their peers and often help train other franchises’ employees with sales ride alongs, production training, and much more. They ensure their SERVPRO franchise neighbors know that SERVPRO of Wright County is available for ongoing support as well." That’s One Team behavior right there!

Another SERVPRO teammate shared, “Joe Hickman and Shaun Hickman are exactly the type of franchise owners we need in the system. Since their inception, the lowest growth margin they have had was 47%. They have a net promoter score of 92.86. They also have an online ratings score of 4.96, while also maintaining a Web Stage 5. They are brothers that came into our system from a competitor, but they have fully embraced our culture. They represent the brand with professionalism at every turn! And maybe more importantly, they support the other franchises in the state of Minnesota whenever possible. So far this year, they have the highest revenue in the state. They are truly helping SERVPRO ‘drive the five’! All of this and more is why I think they are deserving of a One Team MVP Award.”

Use the Claims Information Center for an Easier Claims Process

6/11/2020 (Permalink)

Woman showing information in a tablet to an office business  man SERVPRO Claims Information Center

Use the Claims Information Center for an Easier Claims Process

As an insurance agent, haven't you ever wished the insurance claim process was more organized and approachable? The need for data analysis and evidence collection makes the process a nightmare for many people involved, especially without the help of digital tools. SERVPRO, a disaster restoration specialist in Maple Lake, MN, understands the challenges of the insurance adjuster, which is why they developed the Claims Information Center. This tool helps agents throughout the claims process in three significant ways.
1. Tracking 2. Troubleshooting 3. Research

Tracking an insurance claim is the key to the entire claims process. You need to know how a project is progressing and how funds are being used. The dashboard of the Claims Information Center allows agents to track everything from their home screen.

In massive projects, hiccups can occur, and most of the time, these issues require the agents to revisit a site in-person, which is often time-consuming and wholly unnecessary. The Claims Information Center allows an agent to access and correct minor problems without the need to contact contractors or visit job sites.

The claims Information Center is more than an organization tool; it is also a research powerhouse. SERVPRO has been in business for a while now and has compiled pertinent data to several types of claims. Not only does the company have a collection of standard claims, but they also have it organized by county, city, and state. Beyond the numbers, insurers can also find information on standard response times for specific types of claims.
The Claims Information Center is beneficial for insurance adjusters during and throughout the insurance claim process. Next time you are dealing with a client disaster, consider working through SERVPRO, one of the top-tier cleaning companies in the country. They are Faster to Any Size Disaster, and they understand that an insurance agent's ability to do their job well depends on the tools they have.

Prevent Damage to Your Home by Flushing the Water Heater

5/28/2020 (Permalink)

Man's hands unscrewing a screw-nut on a water heater with a wrench on a boiler Flushing your water heater allows the appliance to work properly

Follow The Below Steps To Keep Your Heater Working Well

Sediment can build up in your water heater over time and damage the appliance. The heater may even malfunction completely, causing a flood that necessitates cleanup and restoration specialists.
Luckily, there is an easy way to maintain your heater. You just have to perform a regular water heater flush. The process is simple, and all you need is a drainage area, a hose, and a screwdriver. Follow the below steps to keep your heater working well for years to come.

1. Turn Off the Heater
Gas heaters can be turned off by extinguishing the pilot that controls the device. If you have an electric heater, you can power it down via the circuit breaker.

2. Attach the Hose
Next, connect one end of the garden hose to the drain valve of the water heater. The other side of the hose should be placed in an area that won't be harmed by excess sediment and warm water.

3. Drain the Water Tank
Start by opening the drain valve of the heater and allowing the water to flow for several minutes. To speed up the process, you should then turn on the hot water faucet in your kitchen. Wait a few more minutes before turning off the water supply valve. This should cause the flow of water to cease. You may want to do another quick flush before closing the valve again.

4. Turn On the Water Supply
After the sediment and water have been drained from the heater, close the valves for good and turn on the water supply. To make sure the tank is full, check to see when the water is flowing smoothly from the kitchen faucet.

5. Turn On the Power
Once the tank has filled up with water, you can restore power to the heater. Don't forget to turn off the kitchen faucet, as well.
Flushing your water heater allows the appliance to work properly. It is a simple step you can take that prevents long-term damage to your Albertville, MN, home.

What To Expect During a Fire Restoration

5/28/2020 (Permalink)

Inside of a building burned Fire damage in Monticello, MN

Here are Three Common Steps

During a fire restoration at your Monticello, MN, home there are a few things you may see the fire damage restoration service do. These steps are designed to help the professionals working on your home complete the work in a way that can return the affected area to pre-fire conditions. Here are three common steps.

1. Damage Assessment

One of the first parts of a restoration is a damage assessment. This will allow the crew working on your home to come up with a plan for damage cleaning, repairs, item cleaning, and fishing steps. Having a plan can allow them to proceed safely and efficiently so they can complete cleaning and repairs in a timely manner.

2. Item Cleaning

Another thing a fire restoration service may offer is the ability to clean and restore damaged household items. This may depend on the damage severity and item material, but in many cases personal items can be restored. This includes furniture, clothing, books, electronics, home decor, and more. If you have questions about weather certain items are salvageable and how, a restoration professional can help.

3. Odor Removal

The restoration team working on your home can also take care of any orders that might linger after smoke damage. They can do this using a combination of cleaners and an ozone machine. Depending on the repair type they can also use deodorizing paint. Severely damaged materials may need to be replaced completely, but the professionals working on your home should be able to do so in a way that leaves a seamless transition between the original materials and the new.

The fire restoration service working on your home may go through a number of different steps to return your home to pre-fire conditions. They may first assess the damage and create a restoration plan. You will also see them clean affected items and work of removing any smoke odor. If you have any questions these professionals can help.

5 Tips for Drying Water Damage

5/13/2020 (Permalink)

Air mover on a carpet drying the area Drying equipment placed in St. Michael, MN

Five Damage Tips for Mitigation

Water can cause extensive damage to a commercial building within a matter of hours. Standing water and residual moisture should be extracted and drying methods used to avoid secondary damage, such as mold growth. Here are five of the most important damage tips for mitigation and cleanup.

1. Extract Standing Water
Eliminating standing water with portable pumps or a wet vac is the first step toward addressing water damage. Water damage mitigation professionals can perform a fast and thorough extraction and provide cleaning tips for building materials and contents.
2. Increase Airflow
Restoration specialists may recommend the use of ventilation equipment such as air movers or fans to promote drying. Ventilation is an ideal drying method after a pipe burst introduces clean water into a structure. Areas exposed to contaminated water for long enough for mold to start forming may be an exception, as circulating air can spread spores.
3. Consider Heated Methods
Heat may be helpful for expediting drying in some situations. The degree of contamination, duration of damage, and affected materials are essential considerations for determining the best drying methods. Restoration experts can offer case-specific damage tips.
4. Lower Humidity Levels
Reducing residual moisture levels in the air and porous or semi-porous materials is helpful after any type of water damage. Mold needs moisture and food sources to flourish. A combination of cleaning, disinfecting, and lowering humidity discourages fungi from growing.
5. Wait Until Drying Is Complete
Rebuilding or restoration should not begin until the portion of a structure that has suffered water damage has been cleaned, disinfected, and thoroughly dried. This includes replacing any building materials torn out due to contamination.
Lowering moisture levels within 24 to 48 hours after water damage is essential for avoiding mold. Trained water damage professionals can quickly extract water and recommend the best damage tips for a building in St Michael, MN.

6 Steps To Remediate Mold

5/13/2020 (Permalink)

specialist in combating mold in an apartment Mold cleanup workers should wear at least an N-95 respirator, eye protection, and gloves

Take the Following Steps To Remove Black Mold

Remediating mold damage requires the right equipment, cleaning solutions, and methods to eliminate a fungal infestation. Restoration professionals take the following steps to remove black mold and other types of fungi and restore a commercial building.

1. Contain the Infestation
Once mold has been found in a structure, the affected area should be contained. Negative air pressure draws contaminated air and mold spores out of a building. Heavy plastic sheeting creates a physical barrier around an infestation. An airlock or decontamination chamber is also necessary for full containment.

2. Use Personal Protective Equipment
Mold cleanup workers should wear at least an N-95 respirator, eye protection, and gloves. More severe problems call for half-face or full-face air-purifying respirators with P100 filter cartridges. The most extensive or toxigenic infestations require full-face powered air-purifying respirators.

3. Tear Out Ruined Materials
Drywall, insulation, and other contaminated porous materials may need to be torn out and replaced. The species of mold, such as toxigenic black mold, may determine whether removal and replacement is the best approach.

4. Clean and Disinfect
Materials that remain intact will need to be cleaned and disinfected with a solution that has fungicide properties. These treatments eliminate the entire structure of mold down to the mycelium and hyphae.

5. Dry the Area
Moisture is the primary risk factor for mold. Dry the cleaned area and maintain humidity levels between 30 percent and 50 percent.

6. Restore the Area
Mold remediation concludes with the replacement of building materials. Building owners may want to select mold-resistant alternatives or have an antifungal coating applied to materials.
These steps are necessary to stop the spread of fungi and limit safety risks posed by toxigenic species such as black mold. Removing mold, cleaning the affected area, and maintaining low moisture levels can prevent a problem from recurring at a building in Buffalo, MN.

Know the Types of Flood Waters

5/1/2020 (Permalink)

stair of a House fully flooded during the flooding of the river A flooded house in Annandale, MN

When water damage from a flood invades your Annandale, MN, home, it can be overwhelming. Along with saturated cherished belongings, it may mean extensive repairs and lingering problems. While you may want to jump in and start the cleanup process, it is important to understand that not all water is the same or safe.

Types of Flood Waters

The source of the water issue plays a big role in the cleanup process. There are three types of water categories.

Clean Water: This does not pose an immediate health risk. It includes water without contaminants. It may be the result of a pipe burst, damaged appliance, toilet holding tanks, or rainwater. If left unchecked, it can turn into the next category.
Gray Water: Since this type may have chemicals or other contaminants, it may pose a minimal health risk if ingested. Culprits creating this type often include dishwashers, sinks, washing machines, or aquariums. Over time, the contamination can spread and bump this up to the third water category.
Black Water: This is the most unsanitary water. During flooding, soil, debris, and sewage get mixed in with the water, which means bacteria, protozoans, molds, fungi, and viruses could be in the water.

Drying Out and Cleaning Up
Water damage created by the first two categories needs to be immediately addressed. If the affected area can be dried out within 48 hours, it minimizes the chances of further damage. After that time has passed, it is best to consider it black water and get the help of a flood, water, and mold damage expert. Cleanup for this category of water requires extra safety measures during the cleanup process, as well as advanced tools to eradicate mold growth and any lingering odors.
While some water damage may seem a breeze to clean up, taking a moment to consider the source of the problem is important for your safety. Instead of dealing with the hassle, count on a professional to make it “Like it never even happened.”