Recent Why SERVPRO Posts

What can you put in your toilet

5/6/2020 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac has noticed a significant increase in sewage losses in the past weeks. We are not sure if it is resulting from the toilet paper hoarding/shortage but we thought it may be a good time to review the rules on what you can and cannot flush. According to Jim Ervin, who was compliance manager for a major wastewater treatment facility for 27 years, the Golden Rule of Flushing is: "If you wouldn’t put it down your garbage disposal, don’t flush it." There are only certain things you should be putting in your toilet, which is why they were made.

The list of what not to flush is much longer.

  • Baby wipes, facial tissues, disinfectant wipes, moist wipes (even if the label says it is flushable)
  • Napkins, (paper or cloth) paper towels, swifter’s and cleaning pads  often have a plastic mesh to  keep them from falling apart and don’t dissolve.
  • Q-tips and Cotton pads tend to clump and can clog pipes
  • Menstrual products can expand and again can clog pipes
  • Diapers, a no brainer, just don’t do it
  • Dental floss, just does not go away and can cause real problems.
  • Medication or vitamins do not cause drain issues but are very bad for the environment.
  • Kitty Litter, egg shells, nut shells, coffee grounds, nope
  • Cooking wastes like fats, oils and greases can cause major issues
  • Socks, rags, hand towels, sponges…don’t even think about it

The experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac can certainly help clean up the mess when you clog or blow apart your sewage drains, but we would much prefer if you kept the lines clear.

COVID-19 in Western Michigan

3/25/2020 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac is fully operational and responding to all normal work and Covid-19 emergencies. We are always here to help.

During this unprecedented time caused by the global pandemic of coronavirus, this is a reminder to our customers that we are specialists in cleaning services, and we adhere to the highest cleaning and sanitation standards. Obviously there are multiple levels of cleaning required depending on the level of contamination. The lowest level is proactive cleaning. This level usually requires two passes. The first cleaning removes the dirt and involves scrubbing with soap and water. Normal household cleaning should be done at least daily.

Specialized training is needed for cleaning when confirmed Covid-19 positive events are encountered.

We are prepared to clean and disinfect your home or business, according to protocols set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention if you encounter positive tests. We have years of experience in dealing with biological contaminants, and we will go beyond the scope of work that regular janitorial staff perform daily.

Once the normal dirt and grime has been removed the next step is to disinfect the surface with an EPA registered cleaner. While there is currently no product tested against this particular strain of the coronavirus, the EPA has hundreds of approved products listed on their web site and most commercial products will work fine. Read the product labels carefully and be sure to allow the required dwell times for the cleaning product to work.

The CDC encourages cleaning of high-touch surfaces such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, light switches, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and tables. If disinfecting is being completed due to a positive case; cleaning of walls and floors should be included in the scope. Other spaces mentioned in the CDC’s guidance for commercial spaces include:

  • Kitchen/Food Areas
  • Bathrooms
  • Schools/Classrooms
  • Offices
  • Retail Spaces
  • Water Fountains
  • Shelving/Racks
  • Locker rooms
  • Sales Counters
  • Carpets and Rugs
  • Stair Handrails
  • Elevator Cars
  • Playground Equipment
  • Fitness Equipment

If you need specialized cleaning help, don’t hesitate to call the experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac.

Is it smoke or mold?

2/14/2020 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac often gets calls about mold staining on painted surfaces that keeps coming back even though the home does not have moisture issues. We remind the homeowners that you cannot have a mold problem without also having a moisture problem. Using moisture meters and infrared cameras to rule out moisture issues allows us to zero in on the next most likely cause: soot. Having a wood or pellet stove in the house can often result in grey or black streaks near the tops of the walls, in the corners, or on the ceiling. Pellet stoves must be cleaned regularly or they will soot up your home. Filling wood stoves or fireplaces without first opening the damper will also allow smoke to escape into the home. This smoke contains tiny liquid droplets of soot that condenses on the cold surfaces of the walls and ceiling leaving streaks called “Ghosting”. Often the nails or screws holding the drywall will also attract the soot as the particles are magnetically charged and stick to the metal. Even burning candles can leave a layer of soot on painted surfaces. If you notice black screws or streaks on the walls, give SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac a call to see if we can make it “Like it never even happened.”

What to do if the homeowners or renters smoked and your home is on the market.

1/6/2020 (Permalink)

What to do if the homeowners or renters smoked tobacco or cannabis and your home is on the market.

One of the top searches for DYI odor removal comes from people looking to buy or rent a home that had long term smokers. Many Realtor web sites claim having a smoker in the home reduces the resale value by 20-30%. According to Zillow, the average resale value of a home in Michigan is $154,000. This means having a smoker reduces the resale value of the average home by $45,000. With professional cleaning running in the $8-10.00 per square foot ($15,000 on a 1,500 square foot home) range, you could easily make $30,000 on the sale by cleaning the home first. Another factor to consider is how long the home remains unoccupied or on the market due to the offensive odors. 

While it is very difficult to remove these odors, a professional remediation company has a much better chance of success than a do it yourself attempt. The first rule of deodorization is always “remove the source”. The yellowish-brown sticky substance left behind from years of smoking must be completely removed or the odors will return when the humidity rises. Often this cleaning will require painting to cover the stains left by the residue of smoking and sometimes the carpet or pad may need replaced. If properly cleaned, most non porous surfaces will not need sealed.

The first step a professional odor remediation company will do is remove any unsaveable contents and all debris which can hold odors. An HEPA filtered air scrubber will be set to collect any disturbed particles to protect the workers and prevent particles from resettling on cleaned surfaces. This air scrubber will likely have an activated charcoal (carbon) filter as recommended by the RIA and EPA guidelines. Hot thermo-fogging may be necessary to neutralize areas that cannot be cleaned.  These areas include cavities behind cabinets, inside of walls, behind trim and moulding, and behind face plates of electrical outlets. If fogging done after cleaning, care must be taken to wet clean all surfaces to reduce the PH levels or paint will not stick.

Odor removal is always a time consuming job but can save thousands of dollars in reduced or lost sales. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac has been removing odors from local homes for nearly 20 years and are the experts that you can trust to make it "Like it never even happened." Give us a call at 231-723-4872 for a quote.

How Not To Winterize Your Cottage

4/18/2019 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac recently was asked to inspect a cottage with a significant amount of visible mold growth. We met the homeowner, insurance adjuster, and an engineer hired by the insurance company to help determine the cause of loss. The homeowner believed the extensive mold growth was caused by a wind storm last summer damaging the roof and allowing water to enter the home. He also suggested a possible ice dam as the cause. Moisture mapping indicated high moisture readings throughout the home.

The homeowner told us that he had shut the furnace off because he only had a 100 gallon propane tank but that he had winterized the home. When asked how he had winterized it he said he had a light bulb in the well pit. We noted that the light may protect the water pump but nothing else. He agreed but added that he also had two 1500 Watt electric heaters in the home to keep the kitchen and bathroom warm. When the engineer pointed out that wasn't nearly enough heat, the homeowner added that he also used hot water heat. Since no radiators were evident, we asked if it was in-floor radiant heat. No, he replied. He stated that the hot water lines going to the sink and bathroom should be enough. Nope. 

As we were heading to the basement he mentioned that he also used the hot water heater itself to keep the basement warm. How we asked? He told us he had removed the gas water heater chimney and was exhausting the water heater directly into the basement to keep it warm. The engineer crawled over the SERVPRO manager as both ran for the door. The SERVPRO manager says he never did find out of there was coverage and did not look back to see if the adjuster and homeowner made it out. I think he was kidding.

Please do not do this and if you do, call someone else. Burning one gallon of propane produces 1.3 gallons of water. If the appliance isn't vented outside it can easily produce high enough humidity to allow mold growth. And don't even get us started on the CO (Carbon Monoxide) it allowed into the home.

SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac asks you to please be safe out there people.

What is subrogation

4/4/2019 (Permalink)

Subrogation comes from the Latin word subrogoree which means “to substitute”. In the insurance world it is used to substitute one insurance company for another. Assume you hire a plumbing company to change your bathroom sink and they forget to tighten a fitting. If this fitting later springs a leak and floods your home, the plumbing company may be liable for all damages. This substitution would involve sending the claim to the plumber’s insurance company. Often your insurance company will pay the claim and then send the bill to the plumbers company to get their money back. Or sometimes the other insurance company will just handle the claim directly.

SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac employees are certified in subrogation and can help document subrogation claims so they do not cost you any money or affect your future rates. Subrogation claims can also originate from failed equipment or installation. If an appliance, water heater, or furnace fails or causes damage, the loss can sometimes be transferred to the manufacturer or installer. It is important that all details of subrogation claims be properly documented and all evidence protected.

Make sure all contractors that you hire to work on your home are licensed and insured or you may be liable for damages they cause. For example, if you hire someone to shovel your roof and they or one of their employees falls off the roof and gets hurt, you may be liable if they are uninsured. Or if they damage the roof, your insurance company may deny the claim. As you can see, the simple question of who is paying the claim can be quite complicated to answer. Always make sure you have an experienced agent to help get you into the right policy for your circumstances. If you have questions you can always call your agent or the professionals at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac.

Once coverage is determined what is the next step?

See our next blog for the answer that that question.

Do you need your air ducts cleaned?

1/10/2019 (Permalink)

That is a good question. A better questions isn’t do you need them cleaned, but should you get them cleaned? The National Air Duct Cleaning Association (NADCA) says probably not, and that is what they do for a living. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac does air duct cleaning. And we do it well. But a lot of duct cleaners don’t do it well, which is the main reason NADCA does not recommend annual duct cleaning. If not done properly, cleaning the ducts can cause more problems than it solves.

Without proper training and equipment, cleaning the ducts can damage the lining of the ductwork, and actually reduce the air quality in your home. There are definite advantages to having the HVAC system cleaned including increased air conditioner and furnace efficiency due to increased air flow. Cleaning the ductwork can decrease offensive odors from smoking or cooking, reduce mold growth if you had a moisture problem, and improve respiratory health by removing contaminates. It can also spread all of these contaminates and odors to your home if not done properly.

According to the National Air Duct Cleaners Association, the following are the seven most common reasons to have your ducts cleaned:

  • Someone in your family suffers from asthma or allergies
  • You have evidence of rodents and animal infestation
  • Following new construction or remodeling
  • After damage due to fire or flooding
  • You have someone who smokes indoors
  • You have a high volume of pets that shed frequently
  • You just bought the home and don’t know if any of the above are true

A strong argument could be made that most of these reasons could be prevented by regularly changing your filters. It is the filters job to keep this stuff out of your ducts. A good quality ($15) big box store filter will keep most allergens, dust, pet dander, and debris out of your HVAC system.  Be careful to match the MERV rating on your furnace. Going to a higher MERV filter can burn out the blower motor and require costly repairs. You can find the MERV rating on your furnace information sheet or ask your furnace repairman when he does the annual inspection.

Vacuum your home regularly. The carpet in your home is a giant filter that does a great job of collecting and holding dirt, dust, dander, and lots of things you don’t want to be breathing. You need to remove that stuff before it gets back up in the air with regular vacuuming. A good quality vacuum with an agitator (beater bar) will do the best job. Swifting and damp mopping the hard surfaces will also capture a large amount of debris and keep them out of the ducts.

Bottom line:

If you did a good job of staying on top of maintaining your furnace filters, kept your home clean by vacuuming and dusting often, and don’t have any of the seven “triggers”, you probably don’t need your ducts cleaned. But if you do, please give the cleaning experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac a call and schedule an inspection.

Tis the Season

12/11/2018 (Permalink)

Halloween is over: Thanksgiving is over: heck, even deer season is over, and Christmas is fast approaching. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac had our first call of a flooded home due to frozen pipes this weekend. "Tis the season".

People of Michigan (Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac), you know it can get cold this time of year.

- Have you taken the time to walk around your home looking for possible issues?

  • Just a quick walk could save you a lot of money and a lot of hassle.

- Have you removed the hose from the frost free hydrant?

  • If you didn't, it cannot drain, and it will freeze and possibly break, flooding your basement.

- Are your gutters clean and working properly?

  • If not, they can cause issues even in the winter

- Is the snow melting off your roof in strange places?

  • You may have missing or damaged insulation that can cause ice dams or expensive heat loss raising your heating bills. 

- Are the icicles huge?

  • You know that is a problem and indicates ventilation problems that can cause ice dams. They could also be caused by missing or damaged insulation. Squirrels and rodents can make a mess if they get in the attic.

- Did you check the propane tank level?

  • Do you know the propane company "keep full" agreement is void if the road isn't plowed or a fallen tree blocks it and they can't deliver gas?

- Have you changed the battery in your furnace thermostat?

  • If it is not hardwired to the home wiring, the furnace will shut off if the 9 volt battery dies and your home will get very cold.

- Have you marked your driveway for the snowplow driver?

  • He needs to know where your drain field, sprinkler heads, outdoor hydrants, or other potential issues are located.

- Consider turning the water off (well or street valve) if you are going to be away from home for an extended period.

  • Remember to turn the power off the water heater off if you drain the tank to prevent burning out the coils or heating elements.

 - If you burn wood, did you clean the chimney?

  • Thousands of fires are caused every year by dirty chimneys or stove pipes.
  • Try to only burn seasoned and dry wood
  • Be careful about burning paper and highly combustible materials.

- How about the pellet stove?

  • We get many calls every winter with wood, pellet, or gas stoves that "puff back" and soot up the home because they haven't been maintained. You must clean these stoves regularly. And make sure you empty the shop vacuum after every cleaning. Hot ashes can and will start a fire in the vacuum or ash bucket. NEVER leave the ashes “out on the porch” for the same reason.

- Remember to be careful using temporary heaters.

  • They cause many fires every winter. These fires range from the heaters not far enough away from combustible materials, heaters tipping over, improper or damaged cords, or undersized wiring.

- Be careful if you enjoy a natural Christmas tree.

  • Keep it watered. 
  • Never use candles near the tree.
  • Inspect the lights and replace any damaged cords.
  • Don’t leave cords where they can be a tripping hazard
  • Don’t put cords under rugs or anything that can cause them to overheat

- Make sure you have a clear escape route from any room in case of a fire

  • Go over and practice the route and escape plan with any children in the home.
  • Have a fire extinguisher handy.

You checked all the above? Great! Did you check your mom’s house, or grandma’s house, or your friend’s cabin who lets you use it in the summer? Many of the calls we get are seasonal homes where a small problem gets really big really quickly when nobody is checking to see if the toilet is overflowing, or furnace quits, or power is out. We have seen thousands of dollars of damage caused by someone breaking into a home to steal a half bottle of liquor. The thief then leaves with the broken window to drain the propane or fuel oil tank, freezing the pipes, and flooding the home.

Make a habit of checking to see if smoke is coming out of the chimney, check for broken windows or open doors, check for tracks in the driveway, or even fogged up windows. Remind the owners to consider turning off the water when not at home or even fully winterizing the cottage.

You know we are happy when you call us to help you or your neighbors, but a lot of those problems are preventable, and we are just fine if you prevent them. We are also sure your friends at your local insurance agency would appreciate you taking a few minutes to check the above list. If you need help, go ahead and call the friendly technicians at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac and we promise not to say, “We warned you.”

 “Tis the Season”

The most helpful resource tool

4/5/2018 (Permalink)

Did you know that 50% of businesses never re-open following a disaster? SERVPRO offers a no cost, no obligation service called an Emergency Ready Profile or an ERP. This proactive resource tool is to better prepare yourself, home & business for any of life's unexpected disasters. When you make the choice to have an ERP done on your business or home, one of our marketing representatives will walk through your business with one of your trusted employees. Your employee will show our marketer where all of your major shut offs are located and all contact information for the company. This 14-page portfolio will allow the SERVPRO employees to answer most questions on whereabouts for things, complete with descriptions to the shut locations and accompanied by pictures. This folder will also have work authorization contact info, insurance information and any other special regards that will help SERVPRO in the event of a disaster. When the ERP is presented, the marketer will also walk the representative from your company through downloading our free app that will already have all of this important information uploaded onto it. An ERP is an essential tool to help when life throws one of their unexpected disasters at you.