Recent Water Damage Posts
Winter Prep Profile: Preventing Frozen Pipes
Photo of a frozen pipe courtesy of the American Red Cross.
In last week’s Winter Prep Profile Team SERVPRO of West Brown County gave you a rundown of steps you can (and should!) take to prepare your home and/or business for the winter weather to come. One of the most important of those steps is preventing your pipes from freezing!
And, as we said last week, this is such an important step, we feel it deserves its very own profile.
As you probably know, freezing weather makes water freeze and when water freezes it expands. That means if water freezes in a pipe, whether that pipe is made of metal or plastic, that frozen water can be strong enough to break that pipe. And if a pipe breaks, that can lead to serious consequences like flooding and water damage in your home or business.
SERVPRO of West Brown County does not want to see you experience any of that damage this winter. So, we’re sharing the American Red Cross’s advice for preventing frozen pipes. First, here’s a list of the pipes the Red Cross says are most likely to freeze:
- Any pipes that are outside and exposed to severe cold. These include outdoor hose bibs, sprinkler lines and swimming pool supply lines.
- Water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets.
- Pipes that run along exterior walls with little or no insulation.
To prevent these pipes from freezing the Red Cross advises the following:
- Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer's or installer's directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed.
- Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
- Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces.
- Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
- Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
- Consider running water (even a drip) through faucets served by exposed pipes on extremely cold days.
- Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both day and night.
- If you leave for an extended period of time, keep your thermostat at at least 55 degrees.
According to the Red Cross, if you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, you likely have a frozen pipe. You can try to fix the problem by taking the following steps:
- Keep the faucet open. Running water will help thaw the pipe. You will also be able to tell when the problem is fixed when water starts running normally again.
- Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. DO NOT use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
- If you cannot find the frozen area or fix the problem on your own, call a licensed plumber right away.
- If you have one frozen pipe, check other faucets in your home to see if you have others.
And remember, if worse comes worst and you do experience a frozen pipe that leads to water damage at your home or business, you can call us any time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (even on holidays!) at 920-434-8224.
Winter Prep Profile: Your Home or Business
We’re officially into December and with a new month, comes new Profile Friday subjects!
This month we’re focusing on how you can prepare for the deep winter months to come.
At this point, we’re not even officially into winter yet, but we’re already experiencing wintry conditions. So, it’s good to take the necessary precautions now before conditions get worse.
In this profile, we’re going to talk about steps you can take to ensure your home and/or business is ready for the season. (Most of this advice can be used in either your home or business!)
The American Red Cross recommends the following advice:
- Protect your pipes from freezing (this is such an important step, we’re going to do an entire blog on it in our profile next week!)
- Make sure your home heating sources are installed properly and are clean and in good, working condition.
- Make sure your home is properly insulated.
- Caulk or weather-strip any drafty doors or windows.
- Install storm windows.
- Consider buying back up heating sources like a wood stove or space heater. Make sure those heating sources are properly cleaned and maintained.
- Make sure to keep extra fuel for heating sources on hand in case of storms. (But, make sure to take caution with extra fuel sources to protect against fires.)
- Consider installing a portable generator.
- Ensure you have carbon monoxide detectors installed on every level of your home and in every bedroom.
- Consider buying flood insurance. Flood insurance is not part of a home-owner’s policy, but is purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program.
- Clean your gutters.
- Look for loose tree limbs and other debris in your yard that could be blown around during a storm and get rid of them so they don’t cause damage to your property.
- Make sure your sump pump is working.
It’s also a good time to remind you about Winter Storm and Blizzard Warnings. According to the Red Cross, a Winter Storm Warning means that life-threatening, severe winter conditions have begun or will begin in the next 24 hours. The Red Cross says a Blizzard Warning means there will be sustained winds or frequent gusts of 35 miles per hour or greater, plus considerable falling or blowing snow reducing visibility to less than a quarter mile, expected to prevail for three hours or longer.
If severe weather is in the forecast, make sure to prepare your home with the supplies you need to ride out the storm. It’s also a good idea to stay home during bad weather if you can! If you must be on the road, take precautions and look out for our winter prep profile about safety in your car!
Preparedness Profile: Emergency Finances
It's a good idea to have an emergency "piggy bank."
For our final Preparedness Profile as September (AKA National Preparedness Month) comes to an end, we’d like to talk to you about emergency finances.
Being ready for a disaster doesn’t just mean having a plan in place, or creating an emergency kit, it means making sure your bank account and insurance policies are ready if worse comes to worst.
Having your finances in place is so important, because disasters can be devastating financially. For example, Ready.gov, says that just one inch of water in your home during a flooding situation can cause $25,000 worth of damage.
Now, it’s unlikely that you have (or can get) a spare $25,000 in your bank account on short notice and that’s why it’s so important you make sure you have any insurance coverage you might need. Have a conversation with your insurance agent about your policy. What possible holes exist in your coverage? What might you need if disaster strikes?
There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to insurance that only a professional can help with. For example, did you know that most homeowners’ and renters’ insurance does NOT cover flood damage? You often need an additional flood insurance policy. Even if you don’t live near a body of water, the experts say, anywhere it rains it can flood.
In addition to having the right insurance coverage, it’s also a good idea to have SOME money set aside for a disaster, or emergency situation. This will ensure you can still care for your family if something prevents you from working.
Ready.gov advises putting aside a little bit of money each month in a savings account that is only to be used in case of emergencies. The website also advises you have any paychecks or benefit checks directly deposited into your bank account to ensure you continue to receive your money in the midst of any disasters.
In addition, Ready.gov has a list of identifying and financial documents you’ll want copies of in case of emergencies. Those documents include:
- Photo ID
- Birth certificates for all household members
- Social Security card
- Any military ID
- Pet ID tags
- Housing payment records
- Insurance policies
- Proof of income
- Tax documents
- Health records
- Health insurance documents
- Immunization records
It’s likely no surprise disaster situations can be costly, but if you plan ahead you can offset those costs and ease any burdens that might come your way.
An Introduction to Document Drying
An office in the Green Bay area that experienced a broken sprinkler.
When a business experiences flooding, the work flow can be thrown completely out of whack. The facilities, floors and furniture may be wet AND so might important documents and paperwork.
To help get your business back to work as fast as possible, SERVPRO is able to offer document drying services.
Our team is capable of drying content of all kinds including:
- paper documents
- books and magazines
- manuscripts and files
- photographs, films, negatives, and microfiche
- blueprints and maps
How do we do it? We use state-of-the-art technology, that’s how. That includes using the same freeze-drying methods used by the Library of Congress to dry valuable historic documents and books. Our vacuum freeze-drying process is the only method approved by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the General Services Administration (GSA).
The freeze-drying process is done at SERVPRO’s corporate facility in Tennessee. Our local franchise team would send your documents there securely, packaged with dry ice. Once they arrive at the facility, the documents are handled by The Document Restoration Team. They are highly trained in the vacuum freeze-drying technique. The team is also HIPPA Master certified, so you can trust them with any sensitive information your documents might include. It takes about 7 to 10 days to dry everything out.
The SERVPRO team can also disinfect and sterilize any documents we dry too. We do that by using a process called gamma irradiation. Gamma irradiation is the same process used to sterilize certain medical equipment.
In addition, SERVPRO is able to digitize any documents that we dry. That way you won’t have to worry about those contents being lost or damaged in the future.
This service is NOT just for businesses. If you’ve experienced a water loss or flooding in your home we can help dry and restore any important papers or beloved photos that might have gotten wet.
If you should ever need document drying, SERVPRO of West Brown County is just a phone call away. Just dial 920-434-8224, any time day or night!
Water Damage Timeline
Water damage at a home in the Green Bay area
When flooding or water damage happens at your home or business, time is of the essence. The faster you call team SERVPRO for help, the less damage that unexpected water will be able to do.
According to the American Insurance Association, 37% of all homes will suffer water damage each year. Of the water damage that occurs, the association says 93% of that damage is preventable. According to the association, the first 24 to 48 hours are the most crucial when dealing with water damage.
SERVPRO has a timeline that lists the damage you can expect following a flood or water loss:
- Water quickly spreads throughout your property, saturating everything in its path.
- Water is absorbed into walls, floors, upholstery, and belongings.
- Furniture finishes may bleed, causing permanent staining on carpets.
- Photographs, books, and other paper goods start to swell and warp.
Hours 1 - 24:
- Drywall begins to swell and break down.
- Metal surfaces begin to tarnish.
- Furniture begins to swell and crack.
- Dyes and inks from cloth and paper goods spread and stain.
- A musty odor appears.
48 Hours to 1 Week:
- Mold and mildew may grow and spread.
- Doors, windows, and studs swell and warp.
- Metal begins to rust and corrode.
- Furniture warps and shows signs of mold.
- Paint begins to blister.
- Wood flooring swells and warps.
- Serious biohazard contamination is possible.
More Than 1 Week:
- Restoration time and cost increase dramatically; replacing contaminated materials and structural rebuilding may be extensive.
- Structural safety, mold growth, and biohazard contaminants pose serious risks to occupants.
The message here is that if water ends up where it does not belong, you should NOT WAIT to call for help. Getting someone on the scene ASAP will only save time and money in the long run.
We’ve heard before that people will sometimes not even realize they’ve experienced a water loss until days, maybe even weeks later. For example, they may have a basement they don’t go into very often that floods. So, we recommend checking those isolated areas on a regular basis and after any major weather event, like torrential rains.
There are some steps you should also take while waiting for help to arrive. SERVPRO recommends as follows:
- Stop the source of the water: if, for example, you have a broken pipe, make sure to turn off the water supply to prevent anymore leaking.
- Remove items of value: move any valuables and furniture away from the water, to prevent permanent damage to those items.
- Prevent the spread of moisture: as best you can, try to soak up any water by toweling or mopping the area. This will be a good temporary help. (Only do this if the water is clean!)
- Take notes and photos for your insurance company.
- Stay Safe! Make sure to turn off any electrical connections that could pose a danger in the flooded area. DO NOT mop or towel up any water that may be contaminated, if it came from a sewer backup, for example.
As we have said, time is not on your side when it comes to water damage. So, the sooner you call for help, the better!
You can always contact us a SERVPRO of West Brown County at 920-434-8224. We’re faster to any size disaster!
On the Scene of a Water Loss
Water loss scene
A very common call in our line of work is for water in basements.
And a very common way water gets into basements is when sump pumps stop working for various reasons. Broken sump pumps allow ground water to rise and seep into the cracks in the concrete floors. So, often, you’ll notice water does not come up evenly, but tends to gather in certain areas where the foundation is lower.
We recently had a call for a broken sump pump and water loss in a finished basement in a home in the Green Bay area.
The first step we take when this happens is to go to the home and assess the damage. We inspect the situation, see what’s gotten wet and speak with the client about what we’ll do to remediate the water loss and what they can expect when it comes to the process, insurance and the work in their home.
After that our team gets to work.
In this recent situation, the finished basement had several rooms that were carpeted, as well as storage rooms that were not.
The first move the technicians made was to get any furniture and personal belongings moved off the wet floor and carpeting. They blocked up anything that got wet from being in contact with the wet floor to allow it to dry.
The next step was to do what’s called ‘extraction’ on the carpeting. That means using a machine to, in a sense, vacuum water up out of the carpet. (It is a labor-intense process, but very important to kick start the drying!)
After that, the technicians pull up the edges of the carpeting and then rolled the carpeting back to expose the padding underneath. They then cut out and removed all of the wet padding, throwing it away. This is because according to IICRC standards, sump water is contaminated water and is considered category 2 water. The standards say the carpeting can be cleaned and disinfected but the pad cannot be and needs to be replaced.
Once the padding was gone, the technicians put an antimicrobial spray on the floor to kill any germs or bacteria that may have been left behind by the water. Afterward, they rolled the carpet back down across the floor, extracted the carpet once more to make sure as much water is removed and then put antimicrobial spray on top of the carpet.
The technicians repeated this process several times over in several carpeted rooms in the basement.
They also removed the baseboards from walls that were affected by the water. ¾” holes are then drilled in the drywall every few inches where the baseboard was. That ensures that walls will dry fully and mold has nowhere to hide and grow in the future. These holes will later be covered fully when the baseboards are reapplied to the drywalls.
Finally, the techs set up dehumidifiers and fans to really get the drying process going. They did a process called “floating the carpet,” where they put a few fans blowing underneath the carpeting, making it float and flutter slightly. This helps the drying process along more quickly.
The drying process can take several days to complete and our team will go back to monitor the process. When they monitor, the techs use equipment to measure the temperature and humidity in the room to see how things are coming along. They also directly measure the moisture content in affected wood and drywall to determine when the materials have reached dry standards.
Once the drying process is complete in any water loss case, the SERVPRO team will put the property and belongings back together. We are also able to provide reconstruction services for anything that needed to be torn out during the remediation, like the pad in this recent case as well as having the carpet re-stretched in place and the baseboards reapplied to the walls.
SERVPRO of West Brown County is just a phone call away (920-434-8224) if you need our help following a water loss at your home or business. Give us a call anytime!
Navigating the Waters of Flood Safety
Flooding photo courtesy of Wisconsin DHS
Spring showers can bring a lot more than flowers this time of year. Depending on where you live those showers can also bring floods.
And just because it’s never flooded where you live before does NOT mean it can’t or won’t happen in the future.
According to Ready Wisconsin, flood risk is based several factors. Those include:
- River Flow
- Flood-control measures
- Any changes due to building and development
So, depending on all of that, even if your property has been safe in the past, something could happen to put your home or business in danger of flooding.
FEMA advises buying flood insurance for just this reason. According to FEMA:
- One inch of water in a home can cause $25,000 worth of damage.
- Homeowners and renters insurance do not typically cover flooding.
- More than 20% of flood claims come from properties outside high-risk flood zones.
Ready Wisconsin says a typical flood insurance policy will cost you about $700 a year, but that will, of course, depend on your location and the risk for flooding.
Now that we’ve talked about insurance to protect your property, let’s talk about protecting yourself.
Please remember to be safe if flooding is in the forecast and you’re going to be out and about. According to the CDC, over half of all flood-related drownings happen as a result of vehicles being driven into flood waters. AND, the CDC says, the next most common reason for flood-related drownings is when people walk into or near flood waters.
The experts advise staying away from all kinds of flood waters and any barriers or signs warning about flooding. It’s not worth the risk.
According to Ready Wisconsin, as little as six inches of rushing water can knock over an adult, and as little as two feet of rushing water can sweep away a vehicle as large as a pickup truck or SUV.
So, remember, take care of yourself and your property when floods are in the forecast.
And, as always, if a flood should affect your home or business, we at SERVPRO of West Brown County can help in the recovery process. You can reach us at 920-434-8224.
Keep Your Sump Pump Performing
Photo of a sump pump failure from a home in the Green Bay area
Only a week after experiencing an APRIL blizzard, Northeast Wisconsin is enjoying a warm up. And as about two feet of snow starts to melt rapidly, we at SERVPRO of West Brown County have been busy.
One issue that’s come up from several clients over the last few days is sump pump failure. When a sump pump fails, that can lead to water in your basement and other parts of your home. That rogue water can go on to cause property damage.
So, we thought now might be a good time to put out some friendly reminders about sump pumps!
First, what exactly is a sump pump?
Well, a sump pump, is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a pump that’s often connected to your home’s electrical system. The pump is used to remove any water that collects in your home’s sump basin. The sump basin is typically in your basement to collect any water that makes its way inside thanks to issues like rain or ground water.
If the pump fails for whatever reason, any water that collects in the sump basin can eventually overflow into the basement and beyond. Because of that, some of the pumps come with battery-powered back-ups. HOWEVER, they don’t all have back-ups!!
And now is the moment we encourage you to check your sump pump to ensure it’s working properly! Here’s what you need to look for or do:
- If it’s running and seems to be running smoothly, that’s good!
- If the sump pump is not running, look a little closer to make sure it’s in good condition:
- Make sure the pump is upright.
- Check for any signs of damage, wear, or tear.
- Clean any dirt or debris out of the sump pit.
- You can test the pump by pouring a bucket of water into the pit. If the pump activates and the water drains quickly you’re in good shape.
- If the pump does not activate or appears damaged in anyway, fix it or call for maintenance right away.
Now that you’re back from checking your sump pump, if you’ve found it quit on you leaving water where it doesn’t belong, give us a call. We are here for you at 920-434-8224!
If everything is in order, that’s great news! Enjoy the warm weather!
Either way, experts recommend giving your sump pump a checkup once a year, but it certainly can’t hurt to do so more often if rain storms, snow melts, or any surprise spring blizzards are in the forecast
IICRC: A Certification You Can Trust
Our IICRC Certification Plaque.
At SERVPRO of West Brown County we are an IICRC Certified Firm. You may not know what that means just yet, but it’s a big deal when it comes to the work we do.
IICRC stands for Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification. It is an international, not-for-profit organization that sets the standards for “technical excellence” in our field.
The IICRC covers all aspects of the work SERVPRO does, including: fire restoration, water damage restoration, mold remediation and inspection, as well as floor and upholstery cleaning.
To become IICRC certified a firm like ours needs to employ a certain number of certified technicians AND the owner needs to be certified as well.
For an individual to become certified they need to attend classes in person then take and pass tests from the organization.
The IICRC has become so trusted in this industry, because it creates the standards we need to work under by gathering peer-reviewed, industry-accepted best practices from around the world to ensure certified technicians are working as safely and efficiently as possible.
We’re at a point where some insurance companies will refuse to work with firms that are not IICRC certified. That’s how important this is.
Our IICRC certification means you can rest assured in the knowledge that SERVPRO of West Brown County will do the best, safest work for you, at the best price and in a timely manner.
We are available any time day or night if you need us for help following a fire, flood, storm or mold growth in the Green Bay area. We’re also here if you need help cleaning up your home or office. Call us at 920-434-8224.
Water Damage By the Numbers
A photo of a water damage situation our team at SERVPRO of West Brown County handled.
At SERVPRO, we are prepared for any kind of water damage or flooding you might experience at your home or business.
However, not all water damage situations are created equal. There are several categories that these situations can fall into that determine how dangerous they are to you and to our teams doing the cleanup. They also determine the amount of work needed to do the mitigation. It’s important you know what we mean when we talk about these categories if you ever have a water damage situation of your own.
So, let’s consider the categories:
Category 1: “Clean Water”
- Clean Water is any water that comes from a sanitary water source.
- Clean Water does not post any substantial risks to people’s health.
- An example of Clean Water would be any leaking from a water supply pipe.
Category 2: “Gray Water”
- Gray Water is water that contains significant contamination.
- Gray Water has the potential to cause people discomfort or sickness.
- Some examples of Gray Water are leaks from washing machines, dishwashers and water beds.
Category 3: “Black Water”
- Black Water is water that is grossly, or extremely contaminated.
- Black Water can contain pathogens, toxins or other harmful materials.
- Black Water can make people seriously ill.
- Some examples of Black Water are sewage backups, flood waters, and backups from a toilet trap.
Outside of the three main categories there are also special situations where an expert besides SERVPRO might need to aid in clean up. Those special situations include water leaks or losses that contain regulated or hazardous materials like mercury, lead, asbestos, pesticides and fuels.
When it comes to those three main categories, SERVPRO of West Brown County is prepared to help you recover from whatever loss might occur. For the more serious categories our team members will need to wear protective gear, because those categories can be very dangerous to people’s health. Depending on the situation our team members will use different methods to clean up, like using antimicrobial products to ensure the environment is safe.
It’s very important for you to know that a category can change over time. For example, a Category 1 can turn into a Category 2 if the water sits around for a day or more or even a category 3 if it sits for more than 3 days or mixes with certain building materials or very dirty situations.
So, if you have any unwanted water issues, it’s best to reach out to us for help ASAP to keep damage and costs at a minimum. You can do that by calling us at 920-434-8224 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
SERVPRO of West Brown County Dries Your Home or Business with Science
Drying your home or business with science!
Did you there is actually a science behind the drying process? Having the knowledge of psychrometrics is essential to restoring a water-damaged structure to its preloss condition. While your initial reaction may be to grab a few towels to mop up the mess and place a fan or two around the damaged area, SERVPRO professionals are trained in the science of drying and follow strict industry-approved standards to help lower the chances of any secondary damages. These processes include inspecting the building to detect every component that is wet, measuring how much moisture is in the wet materials, monitoring whether the materials are drying properly and speeding up Mother Nature by using professional drying equipment.
The bottom line is SERVPRO of West Brown County has the training and equipment to help make water damage "Like it never even happened." Call SERVPRO of West Brown County at 920-434-8224.
Green Bay 24 Hour Emergency Water Damage Service
SERVPRO of West Brown County provides 24 hour fire and water damage restoration service in Green Bay
SERVPRO of West Brown County is available 24 hours a day for water emergencies, large or small. When you are dealing with water damage, immediate action is crucial. A delay of just a few hours can greatly increase the severity of the water damage.
We Answer the Phone Ready to Help 24/7/365
Call Today - 920-434-8224
We understand that when you call us, you may be feeling confused, stressed, and vulnerable. You need an expert to guide you through this crisis. SERVPRO of West Brown County has the specific water damage training and experience to help you through this tough time. We specialize in water damage restoration—in fact, it's the cornerstone of our business.
What to Expect
When you call, we will ask several questions regarding your water damage emergency. These questions will help us determine what equipment and resources to bring, including how many trained SERVPRO Professionals may be needed.
Our SERVPRO Representative will ask several questions:
- Your name and contact information
- Your insurance information (if applicable)
- The street address of the water-damaged home or business
- When did the flooding or water damage occur?
- What caused the water damage (if known)?
- Is there electricity available (on-site)?
About SERVPRO of West Brown County
SERVPRO of West Brown County specializes in the cleanup and restoration of residential and commercial property after a fire, smoke or water damage event. Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration. From initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO’s corporate training facility to regular IICRC-industry certification, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property.
Meet Our Crew