How to Safely Enjoy a Fire Pit without Causing a Fire Damage Disaster
Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Palo Alto shares ten safety rules to help homeowners enjoy time around the fire pit this fall and winter.
SERVPRO of Palo Alto provides fire damage restoration services to homeowners and businesses in Palo alto that have suffered a fire damage disaster. A fire damage disaster involves smoke damage and water damage. In many cases, the homeowner is not able to safely remain in the damaged structure. Cleanup, restoration, and repair are necessary for the family to return and resume life as normal. One of the joys of home life is relaxing and entertaining family and friends around the backyard fire pit. SERVPRO of Palo Alto offers these top ten fire pit safety rules to ensure the safest and best experience.
One of the most delightful pleasures of life is lounging by the fire pit, soaking up the soothing, relaxing warmth on a cool, crisp evening. Any activities that involve fire also require taking safety precautions to prevent the flames from getting out of control and causing fire damage to the patio, deck, and home.
Rule #1: Do not start a fire without having the tools to put it out.
Gather the tools to extinguish a fire before ever striking the first match. Have at close hand a fire extinguisher, a bucket of sand or water, and a water hose with a spray nozzle to prevent wasting water. A fire blanket is a worthy investment if the fire pit is a regular event.
Rule #2: Observe the wind and weather conditions.
Before igniting the fire pit, make sure the weather conditions will provide a safe burning experience. Wind speed should be low or calm, and the wind should be blowing away from the home. The homeowner will want to prevent sparks from blowing onto the roof or damaging the siding.
Rule #3: Fuel the fire with hardwood debris or seasoned hardwood purchased from a supplier.
Seasoned hardwoods burn evenly while producing fewer sparks and less smoke. Softwoods such as pine can be used for kindling and firewood. The logs produce active sparks and much smoke, making the fire pit experience less enjoyable. Construction materials such as plywood, MDF, and pressure-treated lumber give off toxic fumes when burned, creating an unhealthy environment. Food grilled over these toxic flames is unhealthy.
Rule #4: Beware of overhead fire dangers.
Avoid building a fire under an overhang, tarp, vegetation, or power lines. Keep yard waste and other flammables away from the fire pit.
Rule #5: Stay a safe distance away from the flames.
Clothing, hair, and chairs can catch fire if they come too close to the flames. Natural fibers are less flammable than many artificial materials. When turning food or tending s’mores, the “safe” position for sleeves and hair is rolled up and tied back, respectively.
Rule #6: Never leave a fire unattended.
A fire is never totally safe until all the flames have been extinguished and the coals and ash are cool. The seconds needed to make a dash for that favorite beverage or to take a bathroom break are just enough for a fire to flame up and cause fire damage.
Rule #7: Drink responsibly.
Certain forms of spirits are highly flammable. Too much alcohol impairs judgment and coordination, which may result in injury or the inability to effectively extinguish a fire that gets out of hand.
Rule #8: Comply with no-burn alerts to promote personal safety and public health.
Emissions and weather conditions may compel a municipality to issue a fire advisory prohibiting any burning. Failure to comply can result in a greater fire risk, an elevated public health risk, and stiff fines.
Rule #9: Store firewood in a safe place.
Keep firewood away from the fire pit. Sparks can easily ignite firewood that has been stockpiled too close to the fire pit.
Rule #10: Be prepared by pre-qualifying a fire damage restoration company.
When these fire pit safety rules are followed, the risk of fire damage is low. In case of a fire damage disaster, the homeowner who has proactively pre-qualified a fire damage restoration company will need only to make one call. A reputable and responsive property damage restoration company will respond within an hour, 24/7, 365 days a year. No time is wasted frantically searching for companies, reading reviews, and talking to customer service representatives over and over. One call. One company. One great solution. Pre-qualify SERVPRO of Palo Alto for any property damage disaster of any size or type and have peace of mind.
To learn more about Redwood City, CA, fire damage restoration and cleaning services in Palo Alto and the surrounding area, contact the office by phone at (650) 800-3448 or email office@SERVPROpaloalto.com
Typical Storm Activity in Palo Alto and the Property Damage Repercussions
Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Palo Alto looks at storms and weather conditions that can lead to property damage in the Palo Alto, Atherton, and Redwood City areas of California.
The San Francisco Bay Area, including Palo Alto, Atherton, and Redwood City, enjoys some of the finest weather in the world, but even an area with a pleasant climate experiences occasional storms and the accompanying storm damage. This mild, comfortable climate is a magnet, attracting visitors and residents from all over the world, and storm damage risks are low much of the year, especially from May to November. It is during the winter months that the area receives most of its severe weather, which increases the risk of storm damage for homes and businesses.
Common Storm Damage Risks in the San Francisco Bay Area
Thunderstorms tend to strike the Bay Area during the winter months, and peak thunderstorm activity generally falls during late winter. Summer storms also occur, though less frequently. Stemming from the moisture remnants of monsoons and tropical storms, summer thunderstorms are associated with strong winds and short periods of heavy rainfall.
In March 2021, hail struck the Bay Area, and a travel advisory for the slippery roads was issued. A local news outlet described the weather: “A cold winter storm Wednesday delivered a little bit of everything to the Bay Area, from fresh snow and pea-sized hail to heavy downpours and thunder and lightning. Some areas in and around Santa Rosa looked more like the Sierra Nevada as hail piled up like snow on some roadways, leading to treacherous conditions for drivers caught in the storm.”
When large, jagged hail impacts a home, the roof and siding can sustain damage severe enough to allow for water intrusion from the rain associated with the hailstorm. During the winter and early spring through April, weather patterns can bring storms that dump up to several inches of precipitation per hour. This much rain on a damaged roof can result in a water damage disaster that also involves the potential for mold infestation if the moisture issues are allowed to persist from more than twenty-four to forty-eight hours.
One of the most destructive local floods in recent memory was the 1998 flood brought about by heavy rain. San Francisquito Creek can be traced to much of the flooding. Palo Alto Online notes that “in heavy rain events the creek has overflowed at least 13 times since 1910, with peak floods in 1955, 1958, 1967, 1982 and 1998, according to a 2006 report by the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority. The creek overtopped its banks again in 2012 and 2017, damaging property and, in 2013, damaging the dirt levee abutting an East Palo Alto neighborhood, which if breached could have taken lives. That flooding prompted a state of emergency in East Palo Alto, requiring emergency repairs to the levee.”
Over the years, the community has attempted to mitigate the threat posed by San Francisquito Creek. Still, half of the East Palo Alto area is located within a flood zone.
Landslides and Debris Flows
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, “California is well-known to be susceptible to landslides. These range from small, but potentially fatal, shallow landslides that may mobilize into rapidly moving debris flows, to larger, deep-seated landslides that are capable of moving entire houses downslope. Coastal cliff collapses and cliff erosion also present landslide hazards along the coast of northern California, and debris flows from burned areas are a particular concern following wildfires in the region. Landslides in the state generally occur due to precipitation, and to a lesser extent, earthquakes. Historically, large winter storms have caused the most damage, and in the highly developed San Francisco Bay area in northern California these impacts have sometimes been quite severe, causing both fatalities and significant property damage…”
A Rare Meteorological Risk
The last hurricane to strike California was the 1858 San Diego hurricane, which was presumably at least a Category 1 storm. Debate continues 160 years after this meteorological anomaly as to whether it actually was a hurricane and if it truly did make landfall.
Why do hurricanes or tropical storms rarely strike the Bay Area? Two factors have a bearing on why Palo Alto and the surrounding areas are generally safe from hurricanes, unlike the Atlantic seaboard. The relatively cool water temperatures are just not warm enough to generate storms of hurricane strength. In addition, wind patterns divert most severe tropical weather activity to the south of California. However, the Bay Area is no stranger to inclement and sometimes odd weather events.
SERVPRO of Palo Alto is one of the leading storm damage restoration companies in the Palo Alto area. When storms cause damage at residential or commercial properties, highly trained technicians are available 24-hours a day, 365 days a year, to provide a quick response and rapid remediation.
To learn more about storm damage restoration in Atherton, CA, and the surrounding area, contact SERVPRO of Palo Alto by phone at (650) 800-3448 or email office@SERVPROpaloalto.com
What Is the Cost of Water Damage in Sunnyvale, CA?
Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Palo Alto informs Sunnyvale property owners of the cost of a water damage disaster. When a water damage disaster strikes, quick action can speed up the restoration process and lower costs.
When a water damage disaster strikes, quick action can speed up the water damage restoration process and cut costs. Speed is critical if the water damage disaster is not covered by insurance. Fast water removal and drying also limit secondary advanced water damage, and the reduction in the scope of the restoration project decreases the overall job cost. The homeowner is able to resume life as normal sooner rather than later.
A growing trend of rising costs for water damage disasters
At a commercial level, large water losses in excess of $500,000 from non-weather-related causes have more than doubled since 2015. Industry analysts also report that large loss water damage disasters in excess of $1 million have tripled.
On a smaller scale, but nonetheless traumatic for the homeowner, the average claim for a home water damage disaster exceeds $6,700. Research indicates that most of these residential water damage claims stem from plumbing failures. Examples include frozen pipes in colder states. However, the recent cold snap in Northern Texas demonstrated the vulnerability of home plumbing systems that are unprepared for even one night of unusually cold weather.
Leaking pipes and connections along with burst supply lines to appliances such as the washer, dishwasher, and ice maker are primary culprits. After the deductible is met, the average cost for these types of failures is $5,092 per incident. These figures are provided by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety.
Other plumbing system failures such as corroded pipes, leaking pipes, or pipes that have been improperly installed cause water damage losses that average about $4,300 per incident. Water damage claims from a failed water heater come in at more than $4,400.
A small amount of water can result in a large and expensive water damage disaster in a home. A typical, average-sized home contains more than forty different entry points that could lead to a water intrusion should that part of the plumbing system fail.
What types of damage will insurance cover?
Some water damage disasters are covered by a homeowners policy, while others are not. It is important for the homeowner to know the difference. A typical homeowners policy issued by a reputable company will cover water damage losses resulting from the following causes:
- a sudden water leak
- an accidental water burst
- a ruptured supply line to a washer, dishwasher, or ice maker
- an overflowing toilet
- a failed water heater
What is not covered by standard homeowners policies?
Ongoing leaking and continuous seepage are excluded from standard homeowners policies. Insurance industry experts explain the challenges related to covering water damage disasters: “Coverage for water damage follows a general rule of thumb. Water that comes from the top down, such as burst pipes or rainfall, is covered by a standard homeowners policy... Water that comes from the bottom up, such as an overflowing river, is covered by a separate flood policy that can be purchased from private insurers or the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program. In the past, most homeowners and renters policies provided unlimited coverage for sewer and drain backups. That’s no longer the case…Losses for sewer and drain backup-related events, caused by things like aging sewer systems, combined pipelines, tree roots, and sanitary main blockages, can now be covered under special endorsements to a standard policy. The rise in non-weather-related water damage is creating a flood of challenges, including rising rates and non-renewals. In California, more than 30% of companies have refused to renew policies of customers who have filed one or two water-loss claims in the past three years, according to the state Department of Insurance. Some insurers may eventually decide not to renew customers who fail to take preventative steps such as installing water shut-off systems...”
In case of a property damage disaster in a residential or commercial setting SERVPRO of Palo Alto is available to respond 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Homeowners are urged to contact the professionals at SERVPRO of Palo Alto before a water damage disaster occurs. Prequalifying the SERVPRO team ensures that when a disaster does occur, only one call needs to be placed to have the water damage restoration company on-site in about an hour to inspect and assess the damage and to begin the cleanup and restoration process.
Contact SERVPRO of Palo Alto by phone at (650) 800-3448 or email office@SERVPROpaloalto.com to learn more about water damage restoration service in Sunnyvale, CA.
What Are the Benefits of Air Duct and HVAC Cleaning for Commercial HVAC Systems
Blog Summary: In addition to commercial damage restoration services, SERVPRO of Palo Alto provides commercial HVAC cleaning for Atherton-area businesses.
SERVPRO of Palo Alto is invested in providing the commercial cleaning and damage restoration services the businesses want and need. Commercial HVAC cleaning is just such a service. Using the best equipment, the latest cleaning techniques, and EPA-approved cleaners that are safe for families and pets, the Palo Alto SERVPRO team can efficiently and affordably tackle commercial HVAC cleaning needs in the Atherton, CA area.
Ventilation systems are often a significant contributor to poor indoor air quality. A scheduled inspection of the HVAC system, along with the ductwork, can identify any issues that need attention. These issues include:
- loose electrical connections arising from vibrations in the system
- parts that are wearing out prematurely
- dirty, clogged coils
- clogged, grimy, leaking, condensate pan
- air filters that need changing
- dirty ductwork
How often should an HVAC inspection be scheduled?
If the HVAC system is used year-round, an inspection every six months is advised. The best time is spring and fall, after a season of intense usage. If the system sees little use for four to six months out of the year, annual inspection and servicing are adequate. In a commercial setting, where usage may be constant and extreme, the safest course is to have the system inspected every six months.
Consumer Reports suggest that an HVAC system can last ten to fifteen years. Consistent upkeep and maintenance can add years to the life of a system. Clogged coils and dirty air ducts cause a system to work harder and longer to cool or heat a home or business. This added strain reduces the lifespan of an HVAC system. Commercial HVAC systems are expensive to replace. Every added year of life is money kept in the property owner’s pocket. The ROI on a well-maintained commercial HVAC unit is worth the investment to keep the system in top operating condition.
How often should air filters be changed?
Industry recommendations are for air filters to be changed every ninety days. The EPA offers the following information which is helpful in selecting air filters for the commercial or residential HVAC system: “What is a MERV rating? Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values, or MERVs, report a filter’s ability to capture larger particles between 0.3 and 10 microns (µm). This value is helpful in comparing the performance of different filters. The rating is derived from a test method developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). The higher the MERV rating, the better the filter is at trapping specific types of particles.”
The EPA continues with an explanation of the HEPA filter: “HEPA is a type of pleated mechanical air filter. It is an acronym for ‘high-efficiency particulate air [filter]’ (as officially defined by the U.S. Dept. of Energy). This type of air filter can theoretically remove at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and any airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns.”
Conditions that would require a filter upgrade or more frequent filter replacement would include:
- a personal preference to have cleaner air circulating through the facility
- a dusty environment such as a construction site, a trucking terminal, nearby farms, or seasonal wildfires
- pet dander from service animals
- known mold issues
How often should the HVAC ductwork be inspected and cleaned?
Any inspection of the mechanical and electrical components of the HVAC system should include the ductwork, as well. Dirty air ducts contaminate the air that has been pulled through a certified HEPA filter, effectively neutralizing the effort to purify the air. Clean air ducts reduce the potential for mold growth. Cleaning the air ducts can eliminate unpleasant or offensive odors.
A thorough inspection of the ductwork can reveal leaks in the system, which allow stale, moldy, and dust-laden air to penetrate the ductwork. The circulation of this unhealthy air throughout the business, office complex, daycare, or other commercial facility compromises respiratory hygiene, negatively impacting the well-being of the occupants.
The conscientious technicians at SERVPRO of Palo Alto point out that duct cleaning is not always necessary. After the inspection, they will make recommendations that best address any indoor air quality issues, saving the business an expense while providing peace of mind concerning the health and safety of the HVAC system.
For more information about commercial damage restoration in Atherton, CA, contact SERVPRO of Palo Alto by phone at (650) 800-3448. The damage restoration company can also be reached by email at office@SERVPROpaloalto.com
What Are Some Steps That Homeowners Can Take To Prepare for Storms and Stay Safe?
Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Palo Alto offers emergency preparedness tips to help homeowners prepare for severe weather.
SERVPRO of Palo Alto provides storm damage restoration and cleanup to homeowners and businesses in the Bay area, including Atherton and Redwood City. Palo Alto has a mild Mediterranean climate where the average annual rainfall is 17 inches. The summer high is 80 degrees Fahrenheit with the January winter low of 40 degrees, and the region enjoys 261 days of sunshine and 61 days of rain and cloud cover. From late October through March, Palo Alto averages almost 3 inches of rain per month. This fluctuation in weather spells the potential for storm damage, including heavy rains, high winds, and flash floods. SERVPRO of Palo Alto, a locally owned and operated damage restoration company, is offering storm damage preparation tips to help Palo Alto property owners stay safe by planning ahead.
Identify Flood Plain Areas and Assess Vulnerability
Start by determining if the home or business is located in a flood-prone area. Check flood records. Contact the county planning department. Talk to neighbors and local residents who have lived in the area for more than a few years. Consult with an insurance agent about a homeowner’s policy. Ask about flood insurance before the need for flood insurance arises.
Tip #1: Formulate a disaster plan.
Include communication, survival, and recovery strategies in this plan. Map out and rehearse an evacuation route for the family. Have a contact person located outside the region. All family members should have the information memorized and easily accessible.
Information can save lives. Alert signals, official evacuation routes, and shelter locations should be a part of the disaster plan. Let public utilities and emergency personnel know about any special needs such as age, disabilities, or severe medical conditions.
Tip #2: Prepare the home to withstand the worst.
Identify potential hazards in and around the home. These hazards include downed power lines, broken water lines, a ruptured gas line, and chemical spills resulting from flooding. Have shutoff valves clearly marked. Any tools needed to operate the valves should be clearly visible and easily accessed. Locate and maintain LED flashlights near these action points. If the basement floods, play it safe by staying out of the water. The risk of electrocution, a slip-and-fall injury, and exposure to sewage and dangerous chemicals is too high.
The risk of fire is high during a storm damage emergency. Electrical short circuits, candle fires, and accidental ignition of flammable liquids or natural gas pose a real danger. Fire extinguishers are affordable, easy to operate, and safe. An extra fire extinguisher in the kitchen, the laundry room, and the garage can prevent a small flash fire from getting out of hand. The extra fire extinguishers give the homeowner the upper hand when a fire breaks out while dealing with storm damage. Teach the entire family to properly use these devices so that an extinguisher can be quickly accessed and operated during a fire.
In the event of water intrusion from storm damage to the roof, have on hand several tarps or a large roll of heavy-duty plastic to cover furniture or other personal belongings. A mop, a squeegee, and some buckets will prove helpful to remove standing water.
Tip #3: Take steps to ensure the health and safety of the family.
Here are some basic survival steps to keep the family healthy and safe when there is major storm damage to the home:
- A well-stocked first-aid kit is foundational to the most basic survival strategy.
- Prepare an emergency three-day water supply of one gallon per day per person.
- The CDC recommends having a 3-day stockpile of non-perishable food on hand for emergencies.
- Put together a personal health and hygiene kit. Include soap, wipes, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, toothbrushes, toothpaste, eyewash, lotion, and shampoo. Insect repellent, either natural or commercial, is recommended for the kit.
Tip #4: Have a recovery strategy in place before disaster strikes.
Storm damage can range from the loss of a few shingles to severe roof damage with extensive water intrusion. When the skies clear and the floodwaters recede, cleanup and recovery can be overwhelming and dangerous. The best recovery and restoration solution involves highly trained and well-equipped professionals who can complete the damage restoration process quickly, efficiently, and safely. The property owner who makes one call before the disaster strikes will only have to make one call after the disaster strikes in order to ensure a prompt response, a safe cleanup, and a fast and efficient restoration project.
For Sunnyvale, CA, storm damage restoration services, contact SERVPRO of Palo Alto by phone at (650) 800-3448. The team can also be reached by email at office@SERVPROpaloalto.com
How Property Owners Can Stay Safe When an Earthquake Causes Fire Damage in Redwood City, CA
Blog Summary: Earthquakes are powerful seismic events that also have the potential to cause fire damage. SERVPRO of Palo Alto is committed to helping local property owners recover when fire damages their homes or businesses in the aftermath of an earthquake.
A major earthquake is a devastating event that can cause not only structural damage but also fire damage and water damage. Home and business owners in Palo Alto and surrounding areas such as Redwood City, Atherton, and Sunnyvale understand that earthquakes are a common concern for the area. In fact, the state of California experiences over 100 earthquakes per day. SERVPRO of Palo Alto is sharing fire safety tips to help homeowners stay safe in the aftermath of fire damage caused by earthquakes.
How Does an Earthquake Cause Fire Damage?
The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network notes that fire damage “has long been recognized as a major hazard following earthquakes. Before the 20th Century, earthquakes would often upset burning candles, lamps, stoves and fireplaces (with dangerous fuels common). Today in the US, ruptured gas lines and arcing electrical wires are the most common sources of ignition. In addition to providing chances for ignition, earthquakes can block access to fire fighting equipment and damage fire-fighting water supplies, making fighting the blazes, of which there might be many across a city, especially challenging.”
A relatively recent earthquake that resulted in widespread fire damage was the 1994 Northridge earthquake that affected the Greater Los Angeles Area. According to the California Fire Prevention Organization, “Within minutes of the Northridge earthquake, LA City firefighters were en route to multiple fires in the San Fernando building. In the period from 4:31 AM through midnight, there were approximately 110 earthquake-related fires.”
Earthquake Fire Safety Tips
- Keep a fire extinguisher on hand and learn how to properly use it.
- Learn the proper way to turn off the gas and electricity. If gas or electric lines are damaged, turn the valve off. If gas is smelled, open all of the home’s windows and doors and leave the premises immediately. Report the gas leak to the authorities.
- Never use matches, a lighter, or candles in the aftermath of an earthquake. A gas line could be broken, and any type of fire or flame could set off a conflagration. Also, do not place phone calls while in a building with a suspected or confirmed gas leak since even a phone call can provide a source of ignition for a fire.
- Do not remain in damaged buildings. Stay away from damaged areas.
How to Safely Remediate Fire Damage Caused by Earthquakes
As a locally owned and operated damage restoration company, SERVPRO of Palo Alto has experience in safely dealing with fire damage that results from seismic events common to the local area. Highly trained technicians use state-of-the-art equipment and resources to remediate the damage. In contrast to smaller restoration companies that are not part of a franchise, SERVPRO of Palo Alto is able to deliver a highly scalable response to complete large or small jobs for both residential and commercial clients.
Fire damage is often accompanied by secondary damage, including smoke damage, water damage, and mold damage. SERVPRO of Palo Alto has competencies in a variety of different restoration specialties, so the crew can tackle complex remediation situations.
One way to minimize the scope of secondary damage is to trust the restoration project to a company that can act quickly and arrive on the scene promptly. A rapid response limits primary and secondary damage and prevents additional damage, which lowers restoration costs.
What Is the SERVPRO Fire Damage Restoration Process?
While each fire damage incident is unique, the general remediation process, by and large, remains the same. The typical timeline for a damage restoration project is outlined below:
- A property experiences fire damage, whether from the aftermath of an earthquake or other cause, and the client initiates emergency contact with SERVPRO of Palo Alto.
- Technicians arrive to inspect the damaged property and assess the extent of the damage.
- If needed, board-up and roof tarping will be implemented to prevent further damage.
- In some cases, water damage is present after a fire due to the fire department spraying the structure with hundreds to thousands of gallons of water to extinguish the fire. If water has damaged the property, SERVPRO of Palo Alto will remove the water and dry the affected rooms using dehumidifiers and air movers.
- Due to the combustion of various chemicals during a fire, the smoke and soot that the fire gives off can negatively affect people’s health. The damage restoration team removes these contaminants from all surfaces in the home or business.
- All salvageable items affected by the fire are cleaned, sanitized, and disinfected, restoring them to their pre-damage condition. Industrial air scrubbers and fogging equipment remove odors.
- Depending on the scope of the damage, the last step in the process may involve minor repairs or a comprehensive reconstruction project. Once this step is complete, the structure is restored to its pre-fire condition.
The team at SERVPRO of Palo Alto is committed to always treating clients, their homes, and their belongings with the utmost respect, care, and empathy. To learn more about fire damage restoration in Redwood City, CA, contact SERVPRO of Palo Alto by email at office@SERVPROpaloalto.com or call the office at (650) 800-3448
Why SERVPRO of Palo Alto Is a Safe Choice for Damage Restoration in Homes With Lead-Based Paint
Blog Summary: Because lead-based paint is a health concern in older homes, it is important that homeowners hire a damage restoration company that has the certifications necessary to safely perform damage restoration in a home or facility where lead-based paint is present.
When hiring an Atherton, CA, damage restoration company, homeowners will want to make sure that the company has the proper certifications for the work that it is being hired to complete. Certification is especially important in the case of structures containing lead-based paint.
Lead-based paint puts the occupants of a home, particularly young children, at risk of lead poisoning. The CDC explains, “Lead-based paints were banned for residential use in 1978. Homes built in the U.S. before 1978 are likely to have some lead-based paint. When the paint peels and cracks, it makes lead paint chips and dust. Any surface covered with lead-based paint where the paint may wear by rubbing or friction is likely to cause lead dust including windows, doors, floors, porches, stairways, and cabinets.”
The presence of lead paint in a structure can be costly and not just in terms of health effects. In 2019, Palo Alto Online, an online resource for Palo Alto-area news, reported that ten cities and counties in California “announced a $305 million settlement with three paint companies to clean up lead paint hazards to children in older housing.”
In a damaged home, it is very likely that the lead-based paint has been disturbed, creating dust and paint chips that present a health hazard to both the home occupants and the restoration technicians. It is essential that the restoration team hired for the job has the proper certification to safely and correctly perform the damage remediation project.
SERVPRO of Palo Alto: Certified for Lead-Based Paint Activities and Renovation
At SERVPRO of Palo Alto, certifications, along with thorough training and education, are a priority. The damage restoration company has the RRP certification, which refers to the EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule (RRP). According to the EPA, “Under this rule, contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb painted surfaces in homes and child-occupied facilities (including child care centers and schools), built before 1978, must, among other things, be certified and follow lead-safe work practices.”
The Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule “aims to protect the public from lead-based paint hazards associated with renovation, repair, and painting activities. These activities can create hazardous lead dust when surfaces with lead paint, even from many decades ago, are disturbed.”
The EPA goes on to state that the rule “establishes requirements for firms and individuals performing renovations, and affects contractors, property managers and others who disturb painted surfaces….It includes pre-renovation education requirements as well as training, firm certification and work practice requirements.”
Customer safety is of the utmost importance to the team at SERVPRO of Palo Alto. When water or fire damages a structure, the event is very stressful for the home’s occupants, and if lead-based paint is present in the house, stress and anxiety levels are multiplied. However, homeowners can have their concerns put at ease by entrusting the restoration of their home to SERVPRO of Palo Alto. The SERVPRO technicians strive to exemplify expertise and professionalism every time they respond to a client’s call.
The staff undergoes rigorous training in damage restoration techniques and engages in ongoing training, as well as regular certification from the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification. These measures give homeowners confidence that they have hired a team with the knowledge and experience necessary for the safe restoration of a property.
SERVPRO of Palo Alto: Dedicated to Serving the Restoration Needs of the Local Community
After calling the team at SERVPRO of Palo for fire damage restoration services, a grateful client posted the following review of the damage restoration company: “Truly appreciate all they did for us with the recent fire at our house. Friendly, reliable, easy to work with, above & beyond expectations. Highly recommend them.”
A SERVPRO representative underscores the company’s dedication to the local community, stating, “SERVPRO of Palo Alto takes great pride in being a part of the Palo Alto community. We want to do our part to ensure the Palo Alto community thrives by helping those less fortunate, keeping the area safe, and making our community the best it can be.”
To learn more about the Atherton, CA, damage restoration company, call SERVPRO of Palo Alto by phone at (650) 800-3448 or email office@SERVPROpaloalto.com.
How Water Damage Creates a Moist Environment That Is Attractive to Termites
Blog Summary: Because termites prefer a damp environment, water damage issues can lead to termite problems. SERVPRO of Palo Alto urges homeowners to have water damage remediated as soon as it is discovered and to take steps to prevent a termite infestation.
Water damage in Sunnyvale, CA, can be accompanied by all sorts of issues, including mold and mildew growth, rust and corrosion of metal surfaces, and rotting wood. However, another consequence of water damage is a potential termite infestation. Termites love moisture. If water damage is not mitigated promptly or if a hidden water leak occurs, the water can create a moist environment that is attractive to a termite colony.
Types of Termites in California
Several types of termites can be found in the state of California. Three common types are the subterranean termite, the drywood termite, and the dampwood termite. With a typical size of about ? inch long, the subterranean termite is the smallest of the three species, but it can cause large-scale damage to a home. The Formosan termite, a subterranean termite informally known as the super-termite, is an especially destructive species since these termites can create large colonies and devour wood rapidly. One colony of Formosan termites can contain millions of these insects. This large colony size means that Formosan termites can cause damage to a wooden structure on a larger scale and in a shorter time period than other types of termites.
The Connection Between Moisture and Termites
Termites are infamous for their diet of wood, but termites also rely on water to stay hydrated and to help them digest wood cellulose. As a result, moist wood is a prime feeding source for the millions of hungry termites that comprise a Formosan termite colony.
Even homes in areas with little rainfall can be susceptible to a termite infestation. Leaking plumbing or a leaking appliance, such as the dishwasher or washing machine, can soak a wood floor, creating the moist environment that termites thrive in.
Homeowners may think that they will be able to quickly spot and deal with a water leak. However, not all leaks that cause serious problems involve large quantities of water spilling across the floor. In the case of a hidden water leak, a small leak can occur in an area that is rarely inspected, and the leak might not be discovered until the water damage and a potential termite infestation have progressed significantly.
Terminix, a leader in the pest control industry, provides the following advice: “Subterranean termites, who build their colonies in the soil, are attracted to moisture. Standing water in or around your home’s foundation creates an attractive environment for these termites. Leaky pipes are not just a plumbing issue and should be addressed before creating an opportunity for termite infestation. You should also clean your roof gutters and take steps to ensure there is proper drainage around your home. Finally, check that your foundation is properly ventilated and trim back or remove any landscaping that could allow humidity to build up in your home’s crawl space.”
How to Make a Home Unattractive to Termites
Homeowners can take several measures that help prevent a termite infestation or that better prepare homeowners should a termite infestation occur.
- Maintain downspouts and gutters, and make sure that they are properly directing water away from the foundation of the house. If downspouts and gutters become damaged, repair the damage promptly.
- Be vigilant for cracks, gaps, and holes in the walls or foundation; termites can easily enter the home through these openings.
- When planting bushes, shrubs, or other landscape features, take care not to plant the greenery too close to the side of the home. The moisture surrounding the plants, as well as the presence of mulch, can attract a termite colony.
- Have stumps in the yard removed. A moist, rotting stump is an ideal home for termites, which can spread as many as 300 ft in soil. Before long, a colony that was confined to a stump in the front yard can end up taking hold in the home.
- Prequalify a reputable pest control company to eliminate a termite infestation if a thriving colony is discovered.
- Prequalify a water damage restoration specialist to provide rapid water damage restoration services in the event of water damage. When water damage is quickly remediated, the chances of attracting termites are significantly reduced.
For more information about water damage restoration in Sunnyvale, CA, and the surrounding area, contact the SERVPRO of Palo Alto team by phone at (650) 800-3448 or reach out to the team by email at office@SERVPROpaloalto.com
How Commercial Odor Removal Services Help Businesses Avoid Lost Business
Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Palo Alto offers commercial deodorization services that effectively neutralize bad odors.
Commercial odor removal can sometimes be overlooked by business owners or property managers. Unlike water damage or fire damage, which are urgent issues that must be resolved promptly for business operations to resume, foul odors do not do damage to the structure of the building. Because they do not directly affect the building or inventory, odor issues might not be prioritized until the smell has worsened significantly. In addition, bad smells can arise gradually and slowly grow in intensity. Employees and staff may become so used to the smell that they do not realize it is unpleasant for customers.
A malodorous environment can create a distasteful and uncomfortable experience for customers that influences them to take their business elsewhere. Odor issues can be especially off-putting in eating establishments. CleanLink, an online resource for professionals in the cleaning industry, cites a survey that “identifies common issues that would keep Americans from returning to restaurants.” The study found that 85% of patrons would not return to a restaurant that had a “general bad odor.” The problem of foul odors was in the top five issues identified by the study and was second only to dirty surfaces, which 86% of respondents indicated was a turn-off.
While a foul odor might not be as time-sensitive as a water damage disaster or a sewage backup, it is in the business owner’s best interest to have odor problems resolved promptly in order to avoid lost business and to create a positive experience for customers or clients.
What Are Common Sources of Odors in Commercial Facilities?
Trash cans and dumpsters release all manner of putrid odors, especially when hot weather amplifies the smell. Restaurants in particular need to be attentive to garbage odors since perishables such as meat, dairy products, bread, vegetables, and fruit are disposed of regularly on and near the premises. As mentioned above, odors can be disastrous to the reputation and ROI of a restaurant.
Floor Drain Odors
With a smell often compared to rotten eggs, sewer gas originates from the sewage system, which is full of noxious odors from decomposing sewage. To prevent sewer gas from escaping into the room, floor drains are equipped with a trap that retains water; however, if the water in the trap dries out, sewer gas and the accompanying odors can flow out of the drain. Not only is this issue a cause of odor problems, but it can also be a safety issue since methane, a potentially explosive gas, is present in sewer gas. In addition, drains that have become clogged by debris such as food, trash, or hair also give off bad odors and create a place for odor-producing bacteria to breed.
Urine odors are prevalent in restrooms. Mayo Clinic notes, “Urine that contains a lot of water and few waste products has little to no odor. If urine becomes highly concentrated — a high level of waste products with little water — your urine may have a strong ammonia odor.” Urine is also a food source for bacteria, which produce offensive odors that worsen as bacteria growth accumulates. Regular cleaning of public restrooms and emptying of trash are important practices that help prevent unwanted odors in restrooms.
Earthy, musty smells can often be traced to mold and mildew growth. Mold flourishes in warm, humid environments and can turn into an infestation before the business owner or employees discover the issue. According to the CDC, “Mold grows well on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products. Mold can also grow in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery.” In the case of odors stemming from a mold infestation, the business owner will want to hire mold remediation services in addition to deodorization services.
SERVPRO of Palo Alto: A Local Leader in Commercial Odor Removal
The commercial cleaning and odor removal experts at SERVPRO of Palo Alto are equipped to identify the source of foul odors and eliminate the problem. The science involved in odor removal can be complex, and shortcuts such as masking will not successfully remove a persistent, strong smell. At SERVPRO of Palo Alto, technicians are well-trained in proper deodorization techniques and, when applicable, use products that go deep into surfaces and thoroughly neutralize offensive odors.
For more details about deodorization services for businesses and other commercial cleaning and commercial damage restoration services in Redwood City, CA, contact SERVPRO of Palo Alto by phone at (650) 800-3448. The office can also be reached by email at office@SERVPROpaloalto.com
SERVPRO of Atherton / Redwood City: How Rain Can Lead to Water Damage
There are many water-related incidents that can lead to water damage, as it takes a relatively small amount of moisture to create an issue.
Many often think of sources such as floods, broken pipes, appliance malfunctions, and overflowing toilets when considering how water damage happens. However, it is important to note that even rain showers persisting over a period of time can lead to water damage, as water gradually works its way into a home’s weather defenses. The best preventive measure to take is to simply be knowledgeable and proactive about where and why this water intrusion occurs.
Likely Places where Water Damage is a Possibility Due to Rain
Backup of clogged gutters. Cleaning out your gutters every six months or so is a great defense against water damage. When your gutters can’t properly drain water, pooling can occur and lead to water sitting up against—and eventually seeping into—your home.
Leaks around windows and doors. Windows and doors can develop small cracks around them, which may not be visible to the naked eye but are certainly large enough for water to find. Water can soak into these small gaps and begin to eat away at the wood surrounding these openings.
Poor drainage around the foundation. Regardless of how impervious a foundation may seem, if poor drainage allows water to build up around the foundation, it can eventually begin to seep inward and lead to damages.
Leaks in and around the roof. A house of any age can develop a roof leak, and they can often sneak up on you. Checking for signs that your roof might be vulnerable to leaks regularly is the best defense against this.
Malfunctioning of a sump pump system. For those with basements or crawl spaces, a sump pump is a great water damage defense, as long as it is maintained. Sump pump malfunctions due to inadequate maintenance can lead to serious damages on their own.
Leaks around chimneys and skylights. Skylights and chimneys are great features, but it is important to check on the seals surrounding them regularly to ensure they have not deteriorated enough to begin letting water through when there is heavy rain around.
If you’ve experienced water damage to your home, we are here to help 24/7/365. Call SERVPRO of Atherton / Redwood City to have our trained technicians respond quickly and begin your restoration.