Recent Storm Damage Posts
Ready for winter weather?
SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac has been helping customers in Mason, Manistee, Lake, Oceana, Wexford, and Osceola counties survive winter in west Michigan for nearly 20 years. Because the list of things that goes wrong never really changes, SERVPRO would like to remind you of things to check to prevent having to call us for help.
If you have a seasonal home that you are closing for winter and leaving the heat on:
- Have you checked your propane tank and arranged to have it kept full?
- Have you arranged to have the road plowed so the propane company can get to your tank?
- Have you marked your driveway for the plow driver and marked your drain field, sprinkler heads, outdoor hydrants and other potential issues?
- Do you have someone locally who can check on the home? They need to check for open doors and windows, suspicious tracks, heavy snow build up, and fogged or frosted up windows indicating water damage or heat loss.
- Do they have a key or know where it is hidden?
- Have you removed the outside hoses and made sure the frost free shut off valve is clear
- Have you notified the local authorities that you will be gone? They are happy to check on your home for you if you let them know.
- Have you changed the thermostat battery? It is a leading cause of furnace failure in unoccupied homes.
- Consider turning the water off at the well. (Unless you have a boiler that requires make up water) Even if a line freezes, it will not flood your home.
- Open doors to cabinets and vanities that contain water lines to allow heat to circulate.
Have you winterized the home if you are going to turn the heat off?
- If you drain your water heater, remember to turn the power off first to prevent burning out the heating element.
- Have you checked with your insurance company to verify that you still have coverage even if you are not living at the home? (Note: some insurance companies do not insure vacant homes)
- Never leave a temporary heater running in an unoccupied home. They start countless fires every year.
Even though you try to do everything right to prevent a loss, accidents still happen. If you have a loss don’t hesitate to call the local professionals at SERVPRO. Our crews at the Scottville, Manistee, and Cadillac shops can quickly respond to your emergency and help you make it “Like it never even happened.” Give us a call at 877-350-4872 and we will get a crew to your home within an hour.
Once again it’s hurricane season in the southern United States. Luckily western Michigan doesn’t get hurricanes but we do get storms that can knock out power for several days at a time. When this happens people often turn to generators. The news from the gulf coast last week says that Hurricane Laura killed more people from carbon monoxide poisoning from generators than died from the storm. This is sad since it is totally preventable.
Although using power generators is useful and often necessary to prevent food spoilage, provide lights, and water, it must be done safely. Never use a generator inside a building or partly enclosed area such as a garage or covered deck. Keep generators away from open windows and doors. Wind can force the exhaust back into your home. Keep generators dry and out of the rain and be careful how you cover them. Try to keep them at least 5 feet from any combustible materials (including tarps).
Never start or stop a generator without first unplugging all cords and making sure there is no load on the unit. Use proper fuel, never leave them unattended, and keep children away from the units. Make sure you don’t overload the generator, do use heavy duty (outdoor rated) extension cords, and let the unit cool completely before adding fuel. Store fuel away from generator if possible.
Carbon monoxide gas is colorless and odorless. You will not even know it is there until it is too late. The experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac can help with the storm damage, but the only thing we can do about generator safety is to remind you to be careful. Call our crews located at our offices in Ludington, Manistee, and Cadillac at 877-350-4872 for 24 hour help.
When a storm hits, how safe is the water in your basement or crawlspace?
When a storm drops a foot of rain you quickly find out your homes weak areas. It may be the roof or gutter system, or skylights, or possibly the foundation or sump pump. Because of the laws of gravity, eventually the problem will end up in your basement or crawlspace. When this happens, you must be very careful how you deal with the water. Aside from the obvious issues with electricity and water there can be another problem; the water may be contaminated.
The IICRC and the EPA standards state that all groundwater is considered Category 3 which “is grossly contaminated and can contain pathogenic toxigenic or other harmful agents and can cause significant adverse reactions to humans if contacted or consumed. Examples of Category 3 water can include, but are not limited to: sewage; waste line backflows that originate from beyond any trap regardless of visible content or color; all forms of flooding from seawater; rising water from rivers and streams; and other contaminated water entering or affecting the indoor environment, such as wind-driven rain from hurricanes, tropical storms, or other weather-related events.” This water and everything it touches can make you sick.
Making matters worse is you probably have limited or no coverage help from your insurance company. The experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac can help you understand what steps you need to take to protect your home and family. As a general rule, hard surfaces can be cleaned and disinfected while porous surface items should be discarded. This includes carpeting and pad, wet drywall and insulation, and affected clothing and bedding. And of course, the sooner you call, the higher on the waiting list your name will be. So don’t wait. Call SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac, we are always here to help.
What to do when you have a loss and get placed on a waiting list.
When a storm event hits your home or community it can be devastating. To make matters worse you may not be able to get help quickly. There is nothing worse than having a loss and being put on a waiting list. This is where SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac can help. While a storm event is usually local, it still may affect hundreds of homes. Most restoration companies can handle only 2-3 losses a day and put the rest on a waiting list. SERVPRO has over one hundred sister franchises in Michigan that can scramble crews to any event. Whether the problem is wind, rain, flooding, or even a polar vortex SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac can help make it "Like it never even happened."
“Storm” in West Michigan
When the restoration industry thinks "Storm", it usually means tropical storms or hurricanes in the Gulf or the Southeast. When these major events happen, SERVPROs from all over the country pack up and head to the impacted area to help make it "Like it never even happened.” This is one of the advantages of being the world's largest disaster restoration company. No matter how large the event, SERVPRO can cover it.
Luckily Michigan does not usually get these life threatening and expensive storms.
In Michigan, “Storm” means tornadoes, straight line winds, and/or micro bursts of rain. Last summer Manistee and Mason counties were hit with over 12 inches of rain in one 24 hour period---a new state record. While it is nice to hold a state record, it wasn't nearly that much fun when you watched your basement or cabin fill with water. Our shop in Manistee received over 100 calls for help per day over the last weekend of July.
With 3 truck mounted extractors and multiple crews we were able to help many of the residents. However, we soon realized that we would not be able to help all the customers in a timely manner. We reached for the phone and called our sister franchises in Traverse City, Mount Pleasant/Clare, Big Rapids, Muskegon, and Grand Rapids. Most immediately sent trucks and crews and by Sunday morning there were multiple green trucks helping people in every affected city in our territory. These crews stayed throughout the week until all our customers were taken of and had their homes back.
Another storm event that recently hit our coverage area was the tornado that hit Mason and Lake Counties. This EF2 tornado and the associated straight line winds centered in Baldwin, toppled thousands of trees and destroyed countless roofs. While SERVPRO does not do roof repairs or tree removal from roofs, we do have a long list of professionals who can help. When the calls started coming in, we were able to bypass the normal waiting lists and get people in contact with crews who could quickly get the trees off the roofs and driveways opened.
Once the trees are off the roofs, SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac can get the roofs tarped and windows boarded up and start the drying process. Unfortunately, lack of power is usually an issue and can delay drying. If the home sustains structural damage from the wind or trees, sometimes we will need to pack out the contents to one of our climate controlled storage units while repairs are made. These repairs and content removal and storage are almost always covered by normal homeowners insurance. While “Storm” events are never fun, SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac can help you get your home back to "Like it never even happened."
Another 100 Year Flood in Western Michigan
SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac and our sister franchises from Clare, Muskegon, Traverse City, and Big Rapids helped over 100 homes who suffered water damage from the late July storm that hit western Michigan. Hardest hit was Manistee, Ludington, Scottville, Free Soil, Fountain, Wellston, Irons, Baldwin, Wolf Lake, Custer, Dublin, Bear Lake, and Onekama who recently received over a foot of rain in one day. As rivers overflowed and city storm sewers were overwhelmed, our customers saw the water rise in their basements and crawlspaces.
They call this a 100 year flood. But what does that mean? A 100 year rain does not mean you can expect to get a rain of that size every one hundred years. It actually means that in any given year, you have a 1% chance of getting a foot of rain from one storm. A 50 year storm has a 2% chance and a 25 year storm has a 4% chance in any given year.
You can go to the FEMA FLood Map Service Center https://msc.fema.gov/portal/home and check out the probability of your home getting flooded (if your area was mapped and most are). The higher the risk of flooding, the more you should consider buying flood insurance from FEMA. As most of West Michigan knows by now, your home policy probably will not cover a water event coming from outside the structure. Sometimes limited coverage ($2,000-5,000) can be purchased through your homeowner’s policy as a sump pump or sewage back up failure rider, but most home policies specifically exclude groundwater or water coming from outside the home.
You can also check to see if your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Remember there is usually a 30-day waiting for this type of insurance to kick in so don’t wait until your phone announces a flood warning to call your insurance company. You should also talk to your local insurance agent. They are the experts and know what is available in your area. Many of them sell enhanced policies that cover some types of water intrusion (hydro-static intrusion, sump pump failure, or septic backups). They can also help walk you through the steps to get on a federal program to give you some protection from the 100 year rains that seem to be coming much more frequently.
FEMA’s statistics show that over 20 percent of flood insurance claims are for non-high risk zones. Whether climate change is temporary or permanent doesn’t really matter to your wet basement. Large storms and weather events are clearly happening more frequently and you need to be prepared. Some of the things you can do will help with even normal rainfall amounts. Install and maintain roof gutters with downspouts to get the water at least 6 feet away from your foundation. Consider landscaping to drain the water away from your home. Clean out ditches and culverts on your property or call the local road commissions for help. Work with your neighbors on larger projects (their basement is probably wet also).
Because flood insurance from the NFIP program usually has limited or no coverage for below ground areas (basements and crawlspaces) and the contents stored in them be careful what you store down there. Now may be the time to get rid of the college furniture your son has stored in your basement and get some plastic totes for the craft supplies that are in cardboard boxes on the floor. If you haven’t used that exercise bike in 10 years you may want to find someone who would it to take up space in his basement.
Other items not typically covered are paper documents and money or valuables stored in the basement. Outdoor decks, patios, fences, hot tubs and pools, outdoor furniture, and wells and septic systems are typically excluded. Usually this insurance will not cover temporary housing or living expenses. You may have coverage for some of these items (and possibly large appliances like washer and dryer or furnace) through your home insurance under a personal contents cover.
Your friends at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac hope you never have to use our water damage and restoration services but knowing your options before the loss should make dealing with the event easier. Please call your local insurance agent for more details if you have questions as every area is different. If you do get hit with a 100 year flood, call the professionals at SERVPRO and we will do our best to make it "Like it never even happened.”
Baby It's Cold Outside
With the below zero temperatures and wind chills these past weekends, SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac has received multiple calls for frozen and burst water pipes. As you know, it is easier to prevent these things than to fix them so here are a few tips from your friends at SERVPRO.
Pay attention to the wind direction. A cold north wind will drive the cold through the north facing walls of your home much faster than the same temperatures with no wind. If you have pipes in the walls facing the wind direction pay close attention to them. Consider opening the base cabinet’s doors to allow warmer room air to reach your pipes. Inspect the insulation or heat wraps carefully for openings or damage in areas prone to freezing.
Running a small stream of water can also help prevent freezing particularly if you are on city sewer lines. You must be very careful running water if you have a septic tank however. You cannot run more water into a septic tank than can drain away through the drain field without it backing up and causing major problems. Add no snow cover, which means frozen ground, and the potential for backups becomes much greater. Running water for a few hours a day or a small stream will probably not cause any issues, but a large stream for a long time can cause problems.
Do you have a well pit outside? Many older homes still do and with the lack of snow cover to insulate the pits, they can freeze. Consider some dry straw covered with a tarp (wet stray has no insulation properties). A simple light bulb will often provide enough heat to solve the freezing problems. Hint: check the light regularly to insure it is still functioning. Remember to remove the hose from the frost free hose bib on your home to allow it to drain and prevent it from freezing and flooding your basement.
Some of the old school energy hints are very effective on helping keep your home warm and saving money. Clear plastic on the windows will prevent drafts and keep the room much warmer. If you have curtains and window dressing, keep them closed when it is really cold outside and the sun is not shining. (Think Michigan in winter) Close off unused rooms especially if there are no water lines in the room. Seal drafts with caulk, rugs, or weather stripping.
If you do have a frozen pipe, thaw it with a hair drier or some non-combustible heat source. Many fires are started every year with homeowners trying to thaw pipes with space heaters, torches, or other improper heat sources. If you must leave the home with frozen pipes remember to shut off the water supply in case the line thaws or bursts flooding the home. These really can be “do it yourself” fixes but be careful that you don’t cause larger problems.
Flooding is one of the most common and widespread natural disasters in America. Fema has reported that in the last 5 years, every state in the United States has experienced floods or flash flooding. 20% of all flood insurance claims come from a low to moderate risk area.
According to the American Red Cross, flooding causes more damage in the United States than any other natural disaster that is weather related. On average, a home that has 1 inch of flood damage can cost about $27,000.
In the event that a flood strikes your home or business, SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac is here to help. With 24 hour 7 day a week service, we will have you back in your home or business in no time.
Using a generator safely following Michigan storms
Yesterday's paper read, "Two Die At Home Running Generator During Power Outage." In this case, an elderly couple died after setting the generator in an enclosed garage because of the power outage. Their death was entirely preventable. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission requires manufactures of portable generators to have a label that states "DANGER! Using a generator indoors CAN KILL YOU IN MINUTES."
* Never use generators indoors.
*Never set generator outdoors near a window, door or vent.
* Never use generators in crawlspaces or under awnings.
* To prevent shock and electrocution, never use a generator in wet conditions.
* Make sure you have working CO (Carbon Monoxide) detectors and alarms in your home.
Opening doors and windows will not prevent carbon monoxide buildup, although, you cannot see or smell carbon monoxide. Symptoms include feeling sick, dizzy or weak. If you hear a generator running in your neighborhood, please check to see if it is being operated properly. If you suspect CO poisoning, do not open the building. Call 911 or your local fire department immediately for professional assistance. Carbon Monoxide deaths are easily preventable and SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac, encourages you to use generators safely and watch out for your neighbors and friends!