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How to Know When You Need a Mold Inspection

8/14/2019 (Permalink)

When is it time for a mold inspection in your Austin home

Discover What to Look Out for with Possible Mold in Your Austin Home

Right now, as you’re reading this article, there are mold spores swirling around you. Since mold is a natural substance, and it’s normal for mold spores to circulate, some of this mold isn’t going to cause a problem for you.

But there are certain circumstances can cause mold to grow, spread and cause major problems, including problems to the construction of your home and health issues. So, how do you know when you need a mold inspection?

Visible Mold

Mold can often be easily seen in places such as your bathroom and sink, usually any place where there’s excessive moisture. The type of mold that grows in your bathroom can easily be removed by using a household cleaner. The biggest culprits of this type of mold or mildew in Austin are humidity and temperature. In many cases, bathroom mold isn’t harmful; cleaning the mold up right away also helps alleviate the problem. Another way to reduce the amount of mold in your bathroom is by using ventilation fans.

Invisible Mold

Mold can take on a different impression if you have a leak in your Austin home, or if you’ve experienced flooding or water damage in Austin. It’s the unseen areas where the most toxic types of mold can start to spread, without your awareness. A leaky faucet, for instance, can cause water to drip into your floors, behind your walls and other parts of your house. In the hidden areas, you may not be able to see any type of mold forming, but if a leak isn’t fixed, the mold can spread and start to smell.

While there are different types of mold, it’s the toxic types, such as Black Mold, that can cause the most harm. This includes not only damage to your home, but also to your health. When mold starts covering your walls, or you begin smelling mold in your Austin home, then you should consider having a mold inspection done by a reputable Austin mold remediation company.

However, it’s not just the appearance of mold, or the possibility of invisible mold, that would prompt a mold inspection. Other factors come into play, including the following:

  • When you can smell mold, but you can’t see it. Having a mold inspection as well as a mold test can help narrow down if you have a mold issue and where to find it in your Austin home or apartment.
  • If you’ve had a mold issue and it’s already been remediated, you may want to have a removal clearance test, to ensure that all traces of mold have returned to normal levels or are gone entirely.
  • If you have any inexplicable health issues, there’s a chance that mold could be the culprit. A mold inspection can help narrow this down.
  • A mold inspection should transpire during any real estate transaction to protect both the seller and the buyer.  This should also apply to a landlord/tenant situation should any issues with mold arise.
  • If you’re concerned about the indoor air quality of your home, then it might be worth having a mold inspection.

If these are issues that concern you and you’re on a budget, you may consider the less expensive route of a home mold detection kit. But there are significant issues why this is not a good idea, especially when compared to the services of a mold removal service. Here’s why:

  • Many of these kits do not include an actual visual inspection; nor are they performed by a mold remediation specialist. Mold remediation specialists are trained to not only acquire samples, but also to provide a thorough visual inspection to detect mold. They also have state of the art equipment to conduct these tests.
  • As we’re constantly surrounded by mold spores, a home test will tell you that you have mold in your home (which we all have), but it won’t pinpoint how severe the mold actually is. or where the source of the problem is coming from.

What to Look for in an Austin Mold Remediation Company

Before you move forward with having a mold inspection done, there are a few things to investigate before you hire a mold remediation company in Austin.

  • Mold removal is serious business, and there are plenty of unethical companies out there, who will try to take advantage of you, overcharge you and do a subpar job on your home. Only go with a highly regarded and knowledgeable Austin mold removal and remediation specialist.
  • Beware of businesses that promise to remove all mold from your Austin, home or business. It’s impossible to remove all mold, since the spores exist both inside and outdoors. But if your walls are covered with mold from a leak or a flood, and you hire a company that’s unable to completely remove and remediate the mold, without stopping the moisture and the mold at its source, then you’ll have more problems down the road.
  • You certainly want a mold removal specialist who has a good track record and uses top of the line equipment. In most cases these individuals will be able to trace the source of the mold, test it and help remove and remediate it.

How Our Austin Mold Remediation Company Can Help if you need a Mold Inspection

If you believe you may have a problem with mold in your Austin home, you should contact a mold remediation specialist, like SERVPRO of East Central Austin. In fact, mold inspection and mold remediation are just a few of the top services that we offer.

Our SERVPRO team is centrally located in Austin and we use only top of the line, state of the art equipment to treat your home.

If you have a mold issue in your Austin home or business, our highly trained Austin mold remediation specialists will work with you through the entire mold remediation process from the initial mold inspection to the complete restoration of your Austin property.

Keep in mind that the more that mold spreads, the more difficult it becomes to remove. SERVPRO of East Central Austin will meticulously search for any mold at your home or business. We can provide an immediate mold inspection and if a mold problem exists, we’ll start remediation right away to stop if from spreading.

5 Reasons You Should Not Perform DIY Mold Remediation

7/30/2019 (Permalink)

Professional Mold Remediation in Austin TX

If you have noticed black specs in your home or business, you may have mold. Mold in Austin can be a huge problem. In addition to being unsightly, those patches of mold taking up residence on your home’s walls and ceilings may be the cause of the ongoing, unexplained respiratory symptoms you’ve been experiencing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlines the many health dangers of mold. You can also read more about the health dangers of mold here

Whether or not the mold in your Austin TX home is making you sick, once you detect its presence, your next thought will likely be getting rid of it. While you may be tempted to tackle mold removal yourself, you should take into account the size of the problem. Unless the problem is limited to a very small area, it’s best to leave this important task to the hands of professionals. If you're unsure if you have mold in your household or business, you may benefit from a mold inspection. If you need a mold inspection in Austin, please contact our office.

Here are 5 reasons you should NOT perform DIY mold remediation

Reason 1: It’s not just about cleaning up the mold

Mold is a natural occurrence and is part of the natural environment; it can be found everywhere, indoors and outdoors. Mold is not usually an indoor problem — unless mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing. While removing mold from the surfaces of your home is an important step, uncovering what’s causing the mold to grow in the first place is just as critical. If you clean up the mold, but don't fix the water problem, the mold problem will keep coming back.

Mold thrives in warm, moist, and dark environments and can be caused by water damage from flooding or leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes. Professional mold remediation includes both the identification and correction of the conditions that permit mold growth.

Reason 2: A licensed, experienced professional will find hidden mold

Mold has a clever way of growing in hidden areas in Austin…and just because it can’t be seen with the naked eye, that doesn’t mean it’s not in your home. Experts are aware of the spots where mold likes to lurk — behind wallpaper, under paneling, the backside of dry wall, crawl spaces, or the underside of carpets and pads. Mold can also grow in insulation, upholstery, and in the air ducts of your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system.

Reason 3: Mold Remediation professionals like SERVPRO will protect the health of your family

A top Austin company, like SERVPRO, will ensure the mold remediation is a carefully planned and executed process, with the team's highest priority being protecting the health and safety of your family. Once they’ve determined the cause of the mold growth, our mold remediators take special steps to avoid exposing themselves and others to mold-laden dusts as they conduct their cleanup. This includes the use of personal protective equipment (skin, eye, and respiratory protection) and sectioning off areas where the mold is growing.

Caution should also be used to prevent mold and mold spores from being dispersed throughout the air to other parts of the house. A method known as containment (which includes the use of polyethylene sheeting and a negative air system to keep contaminated air from flowing into uncontaminated areas) is part of this process. 

When large areas of the home are affected, especially after flooding or water damage occurs in Austin, residents are often instructed to temporarily vacate the premises until the remediation process is complete.

Reason 4: The pros have access to the latest equipment

When it comes to mold removal, there are a variety of cleanup methods available to effectively tackle damage to household materials and furnishings caused by mold growth. The right team of mold remediation experts has access to the training and the necessary equipment to effectively kill and remove areas of mold. This includes HEPA air scrubbers, HEPA vacuums, negative air machines, commercial-strength dehumidifiers, moisture meters, and more.

Reason 5: You’ll miss out on useful tips for preventing future mold problems

The key to mold control is moisture control. Our mold remediation team will work with you to find ways to prevent future mold problems. Tips may include:

  • Using a dehumidifier in your basement to keep the moisture content down.
  • Keeping the humidity level in your home below 50 percent.
  • Ensuring your home has adequate ventilation, including exhaust fans.
  • Fixing water leaks from plumbing fixtures or pipes as soon as you find them.
  • Preventing rainwater from seeping into your home.
  • Routinely inspecting your landscaping, gutters, and downspouts that may be directing water into or under your house. Runoff from gutters and downspouts can put your Austin home at significant risk for moisture issues — and especially mold growth.
  • Acting fast if your home floods from a burst pipe, roof leak, hurricane, or other disaster. Timing is essential as mold can start to grow on a damp surface within 24 to 48 hours.

If you suspect that your home has a mold problem, contact SERVPRO of East Central Austin to have your property assessed. It can be very frustrating to deal with mold, so if we find it, we have the training, equipment, and expertise to handle the situation.

Our SERVPRO team is highly trained in mold remediation Austin. This training and required certifications allows us to manage all of your mold remediation needs in Austin and the surrounding area.

We use top of the line, state of the art equipment to treat your home, and we’ll thoroughly examine and detect any possibility of mold that may be hard to find. We can also provide an immediate mold inspection and, we’ll immediately start remediation to stop mold from spreading, so that it doesn’t return and make your home look like it never even happened.

If you’ve experienced water damage, and are having problems with mold, then give SERVPRO of East Central Austin a call.

Did You Know Your Dishwasher Is One of the Biggest Culprits of Water Damage?

6/26/2019 (Permalink)

The Multiple Ways a Dishwasher Can Create Water Damage in Your Austin Home

How to Avoid a Water Damage Disaster with Your Dishwasher 

While we often associate water damage with floods or storms, home appliances can also be the cause of serious water issues in your home. One of the biggest culprits is your dishwasher.

Dishwashers are one of the most used appliances in any household. However, after so much use, normal wear and tear can start to wear it down, which can lead to a variety of plumbing issues. Worn pipes, internal corrosion and age can be just a few of the causes of a leaky dishwasher. So, how do you stop it from turning on you and flooding your home?

One thing to keep in mind is that even if you experience a small leak from your dishwasher, it could be caused by larger problems. In most cases it won’t be something that you can clean up with a few paper towels; the problem may be more serious and can even cause major water damage in your home.

Here are just a few ways that your dishwasher can cause problems:

Check your Dishwasher Door
If your dishwasher has a few years on it, you‘ll want to check the condition of its door. Check for any leaks or defects; and especially make sure that it properly closes. In some cases the door might need to be replaced, as it’s not creating a tight seal to prevent water from getting out. If your door is loose, then try tightening any screws or bolts on your own. If the problem persists and you experience any leaks or floods, then you’ll need to contact a professional.

Defective Gaskets
Gaskets are the silicone or rubber seals found inside the dishwasher door or the tub, that help create a watertight seal while the dishwasher runs. However, many uses over the years can cause the gaskets to loosen, crack, or simply deteriorate, which can cause leaks while running. Always check your gaskets to make sure that they’re in good shape. If not, then you should have them repaired or replaced.

Damaged Hoses
Most dishwashers have connection hoses: one brings in clean water, while the other releases dirty water. Over time, these hoses can loosen or become disconnected. You should always check these connections to make sure that no leaking is taking place. If the hoses break, then you’ll have water all over the floor. If this happens, shut off your main water valve and call a water removal specialist.

Internal Corrosion
The main center of your dishwasher is often called the tub. This is where your dishes are stacked and it features the spray arm that washes everything. Unfortunately, while your dishes wind up clean, there’s often residue, such as assorted minerals and left over detergent that can play a part in corroding the tub. Any type of corrosion can cause major problems, so it’s best to check this regularly.

The Proper Detergent
You should always use detergent specifically designed for dishwashers. Regular dishwashing soap will quickly foam, causing bubbles to leak through the dishwasher’s gaskets and door, creating a major mess. Another tip: if you soak your dishes in regular dish soap before you put them in the dishwasher, rinse them off beforehand, to remove any traces of the regular soap.

Issues With the Drain
As your dishwasher works to remove dirt and grime, it also collects those aforementioned particles in the drain. Chunks of food, minerals and other items can get stuck in your dishwasher’s drain, preventing the wastewater from flowing through, and can potentially cause flooding or any other type of water damage. Make sure the drain is cleaned regularly to prevent any type of blockage.

Read Your Manual
Of course with every new appliance that uses water, it’s important to read your manual so that you know how it fully operates and how to prevent any unforeseen problems.

  • Performing regular maintenance will not only help keep your dishwasher in top working condition.
  • Check your supply line and drain hoses to ensure that they’re in good working shape.
  • Never overload your dishwasher; too many dishes and glasses can make the dishwasher work harder and can strain the machine causing leaks, flooding, and potential mold issues.
  • Always run your dishwasher when you’re at home, so you can turn off the water should there be a leak and help stop the flow of water from getting all over your floors.

When Your Dishwasher Springs a Leak
Even if you take care of your dishwasher, you may come across a leak at some point. Here are a few things you can do should you find yourself in that situation:

1. Turn Off The Water
If there’s any kind of leak coming from your dishwasher, turn off the water in your house. This will stop the water and help you identify where the leak may be coming from.

2. Turn Off Your Electricity
You may run the risk of having water get into your outlets, which can short out your electricity and possibly cause electrocution. If this happens, shut off your electricity immediately and call a professional for assistance.

3. Water Cleanup
If you’ve managed to shut off your water and electricity, you can try to clean up as much water as possible. This should be taken care of right away instead of letting it sit. Mold and water damage can occur if pools of water are left and neglected. If the water volume is extreme, clean up as much as you can, but if you have water damage, you should reach out to a water damage and mold removal and remediation specialist like SERVPRO who can help extract the water and help stop possible mold and damage to your home.

4. Clean Up the Immediate Area
If you have flooding from your dishwasher, then there’s a likelihood that the water has gotten into your kitchen cabinets and other places. Check your cabinets for any signs of water; if the water has made contact with any food, then it should be discarded. Canned foods are usually okay in this type of situation, but other perishable items should go. Clean any pots, pans, glass and metal items that may have come in contact with the water. If you have any furniture or other appliances in the immediate area, it’s best to remove them to prevent them from getting waterlogged.

You can use towels and rags to clean up the remaining water, but in some cases you may need to use a wet-dry vac to remove water that’s in hard to reach places. Check if your walls and floors are wet: vacuuming can help remove some, but not all, water that has made contact with porous materials such as drywall, carpeting and some types of wood.

5. Airing out the Kitchen
While you may have picked up all the water and run a wet/dry vac, that doesn’t mean that you’re out of the woods. The next step is air-drying the kitchen. Open your windows for better circulation and run fans and dehumidifiers to help get rid of any excess moisture. It’s also during this time that you have to assess how much damage has actually taken place. If your walls aren’t completely dry, you may to have them removed and replaced to prevent mold. The same goes for cabinets and floorboards, if they’ve been too seeped with water; if you come across any part of your house that looks okay, but you’re not sure if it is, then reach out to a water damage removal and restoration specialist who can assess the situation.

6. The Status of the Dishwasher
Once the water damage has been addressed, you’ll have to inspect your dishwasher and investigate the cause of the problem. Things such as a clogged drain, a leaky door and a worn hose can usually be repaired. If the damage is more extreme, such as corrosion or a damaged tub, then you may have to get a new dishwasher entirely.

How and When an Austin Water Damage Professional Can Help

There’s no question that having a dishwasher is a convenience. It makes cleaning plates, glasses, and utensils ten times easier than doing it by hand, and it also saves water by doing so. But, over time, dishwashers break down and cause leaks that can create massive problems, which you may or may not be able to tackle on your own.

If your dishwasher springs a leak, and the damage is severe, give SERVPRO of East Central Austin a call. 

We’ll thoroughly examine the extent of your water damage and work diligently to restore your Austin TX home after it has occurred. Our SERVPRO team consists of trained & certified professionals in water damage restoration, mold removal and mold remediation Austin. If your dishwasher has caused major flooding we’ll properly restore your home by using state of the art extraction equipment and scientific drying principles to ensure a smooth water restoration process.

Beware of These Common, Risky Fire Hazards in Older Homes in Austin

6/17/2019 (Permalink)

Fire damage risks & hazards to be aware of when living in an older Austin home

Have an Older Home in Austin? Take Precaution of Possible Fire Hazards

There’s no denying the charm of living in an older home. Arched doorways, ceiling medallions and other architectural details representative of a bygone era catch the attention of many homeowners. But along with the unique charms that come with living in an older home in Austin, come unique hazards, such as fire risks. Purchasing an old home may require more than a lot of elbow grease, a few coats of paint and TLC touches throughout. Thoroughly investigating to uncover potential fire risks in your Austin home is an important step to take to prevent catastrophic fire damage. Below are some of the most common fire hazards lurking in your older home.

1. Bad wiring

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), electrical failures or malfunctions were the second leading cause of U.S. home fires in 2012-2016, accounting for 13 percent of home structure fires. Antiquated wiring such as knob and tube wiring — which was the standardized method of electrical wiring in homes until the 1940s — poses a potential risk for fire damage.

Knob and tube wiring systems use porcelain knobs for running wires through unobstructed spaces and porcelain tubes to protect wires running through studs and joists.

If a knob and tube system is intact and functioning properly, it poses no immediate risk. Problems arise, however, when the rubber sheathing that’s used to insulate the wires degrades (modern electrical wiring is encased in plastic). As the rubber degrades over time, it exposes live wires to air and moisture, thereby increasing the chance of a short or a fire. The combination of modern insulation and knob and tube wiring also poses a fire hazard that can lead to devastating loss and the need for fire damage repairs and restoration to your Austin home.

This antiquated wiring system utilizes porcelain knobs to suspend the wires in open air to allow the heat to dissipate. When homeowners insulate the attic and walls of their notoriously drafty older homes, the insulation surrounding the wires will cause heat to build up, resulting in a potential fire. Currently, the United States National Electrical Code® (NEC) forbids use of loose, blown-in or expanding foam insulation over knob and tube wiring.

Older wiring is also rated for lower amps than is required by the multiple appliances we use today. This can result in circuits being overloaded, which can cause a fire. Knob and tube wiring systems also lack a grounding conductor. Grounding conductors reduce the chance of a fire and damage to sensitive equipment.

Hiring a certified electrician or electrical inspector to evaluate the wiring throughout your home is key to preventing a potential fire and preventing the need for fire damage repairs and restoration with the additional water damage that can occur, as is removing knob-and-tube wiring from inside your walls or attic prior to adding insulation.

2. Balloon-frame construction

According to firefighters, the way your home is constructed could make it a bigger fire risk and susceptible to fire damage. Balloon-frame construction, popular in the 1930s and 1940s, is a common sight in older homes. Unlike the modern platform building technique in which a floor (platform) is built, then wall studs (boards that function as framing elements in the home) are installed, then another floor (platform) and so on, balloon framing is characterized by wall studs that run continuously two or more stories high from the foundation to the attic floor. The problem with a balloon-frame house is that when a fire starts in the lower level of the home, there’s nothing to stop the flames from quickly spreading to the attic.

If you live in one of these homes, retrofitting the walls could be quite costly. Keep this in mind if you’re considering buying an older home with this type of framing construction.

3. Outdated appliances

Vintage appliances may add to the charm of your older home, but they also add an increased risk of fire. Your old-fashioned plug-in fan, vintage light fixture and chrome coffeemaker may still run, but they were made according to antiquated safety codes and may include frayed or damaged wires. An appliance that doesn’t come with a UL mark, signifying that Underwriters Laboratories has vouched for the item's safety in actual use, should be rewired.

4. Old furnaces

The average life expectancy of furnaces is 15 to 20 years. Furnaces that are 20 years or older pose a danger due to their use of an old-style pilot light for ignition. House fires that are started by pilot lights, bad ventilation and/or gas line leaks are another major fire hazard of an outdated heating system. The combustible materials or any flammable objects near a furnace also create an increased possibility of fire or explosion.

While replacing your furnace with an energy-efficient modern model is best, if you’re not ready to replace your old furnace, be sure to have it diligently inspected and serviced by a professional every year. 

5. Chimneys

Before spending your first cozy night indoors sitting by a crackling fire, be sure your fireplace chimney and/or wood stove has been recently inspected. It’s vital that your chimneys are inspected annually, and cleaned of creosote buildup — a flammable dark brown or black tar-like byproduct of the wood-burning process that’s deposited on the walls of a chimney. If creosote builds up in sufficient quantities – and the internal flue temperature is high enough – the result could be a chimney fire. 

A professional chimney cleaning typically includes sweeping the fireplace, inspecting the firebox, liners, smoke chamber and flue, and chimney exterior. Recommendations for proper operation or replacement of equipment and necessary repairs to any equipment or structure will also be made.

How SERVPRO Can Help

Our professional team at SERVPRO of East Central Austin knows just how devastating and traumatic a fire can be. If you do have an older home, and there are many in Austin, please be sure to have all of the above issues checked for your safety. While checking these issues may be time consuming, it is far better to update your older house to current standards, so as to prevent any potential fire risks and future fire damage.

Our SERVPRO team will examine the extent of your fire damage while providing top-level service, care and expertise during the fire damage repairs & fire damage restoration process.

Our highly qualified, trained and certified personnel, uses top of the line equipment for handling all of your fire damage restoration needs. Our team is trained to clean and restore your home, in the aftermath of any fire damage, with as little disruption as possible.

For more information, contact our fire damage specialists at (512) 420-9886.

How to Deal with Smoke Damage from a Fire

5/30/2019 (Permalink)

Fire damage & smoke damage go hand in hand. Learn how to best take care of the restoration you'll need after a fire occurs.

Fire & Smoke: A Devastating Combination

You've heard the saying, where there's smoke, there's fire. That saying goes both ways, because where there's fire, there's also smoke. If your Austin home or business has experienced a fire, in addition to the fire damage repairs that will inevitably need to be addressed, you'll also need to consider the lingering effects of smoke as well.

Smoke is extremely destructive. Not only will it cause damage to your home, it can also affect your health, particularly your respiratory system.

Smoke contains harmful elements, such as carbon monoxide and high concentrations of carbon dioxide. When you have a fire and subsequent smoke damage, not only will you be breathing in these elements, but smoke residue will also be attaching itself to your home’s walls, floors, clothing, furniture and much more.

Smoke also stinks…literally (and pretty badly), which is why once a fire has occurred, both fire damage restoration and smoke damage restoration will likely be needed. The amount of smoke damage you'll have can vary; the volume of smoke during a fire can be greatly impacted by temperature, ionization and airflow.

Different Types of Smoke and Temperature

There are basically two different types of smoke: wet smoke and dry smoke.

Wet Smoke is often derived from burning materials, such as plastic, rubber and other synthetics. It burns at a low heat, it tends to smolder and leave behind very sticky and messy soot, which is not all that easy to clean on your own.

Dry Smoke tends to burn fast at a very high temperature. The heat from the fire rises, which causes smoke to rise. Hot air always rises during a fire, which is why we’ve always been told to stop, drop and roll when one occurs.

In most cases the temperature of a fire will be directly above the source of the blaze, primarily the ceiling. If cold air is present during a fire, it will decrease beneath any warmer air, which will allow for the smoke to reach exterior walls and windows. It’s not uncommon for smoke to appear on the outside walls, even if the majority of the fire damage repairs will be inside your home.

Smoke after Fire Damage

Smoke has a mysterious way of getting into some of the strangest places that you would least expect, in the aftermath of a fire. Smoke is able to permeate into enclosed spaces, such as drawers, closets and inside your walls. This happens due to warmer air, which attracts molecules, and once a fire is raging, there’s more energy to transfer smoke particles from the fire into the air. With cooler air, there is slower movement, so any particles will have a harder time moving, so they’re more likely to be found in enclosed and hard to reach places.

After a fire, you’re very likely to find more smoke on the backside of drapes, curtains and blinds, as they tend to be cooler places. Drapes can be problematic as the space between the drape and the window is often cooler, so smoke can latch onto the backside and leave abundant traces; the same phenomenon can occur with venetian
blinds as well.

Smoke Particles, Ionization and Airflow

Smoke particles are usually ionized. This means that they carry an electrical charge that gives them the ability to cling to certain surfaces, such as metal nails and screws, plastics and man-made fabrics such as vinyl.

If you have drywall fastened with metal screws, chances are that you’ll find small smoke rings around the screws that have settled on the drywall. If plastic items catch fire, the smoke can create black, stringy shapes that resemble cobwebs (known as ‘smokewebs’) and hang from the wall to the ceiling.

And, of course, most upholstery can become terribly stained from smoke and in many cases you’ll find that whatever has been impacted, is simply not salvageable.

The ducts for your HVAC unit can also become infested with smoke after fire damage has occurred. Even with the unit off, smoke can still seep through the vents and make its way into rooms not even affected by fire.

Removing Smoke

If the fire damage and smoke is extensive, don’t even attempt this on your own. Some smoke damage after a small fire may be manageable on your own, but anything beyond that will need the services of a fire damage restoration professional.

And we can’t stress this enough… always have several smoke detectors in your Austin home, and test the batteries frequently.

SERVPRO of East Central Austin Fire Damage Restoration Services

Since each smoke and fire damage situation varies, it’s important to quickly repair and restore your Austin-based home as quickly as possible.
Fires are devastating, which is why SERVPRO of East Central Austin will go above and beyond to remediate and restore your property after a fire. We’ll evaluate the overall scope of your fire damage repairs and provide the proper equipment and expertise to ensure a smooth restoration process.

We’re a locally owned Austin company, and we care about the community that we serve.

We have the resources to help guide you through this time, and our employees are trained and certified professionals, who have the experience and know-how to handle your fire damage repairs. We’ll utilize our experience and high-tech
equipment to ensure that we clean and deodorize your property thoroughly.

If you’re in need of fire damage restoration, call our local Austin SERVPRO office today: 512-420-9886.

Water Damage and Your Floors

5/17/2019 (Permalink)

A pool of water like this one cause major damage to your floors.

As a homeowner, having to deal with water damage to your floors is something you hope you’ll never have to experience. Unfortunately, this type of damage is more common than you may think. 

According to the Insurance Information Institute, about one in 50 insured homes has a property damage claim caused by water damage or freezing each year. Austin TX is particularly at risk, because of the amount of flooding that occurs here. Before the damage gets worse, consider having professional water damage restoration to your Austin home.

Water damage can happen suddenly or it can occur slowly, over a period of time. In many cases, the signs of potential damage to flooring are obvious. You’ll see puddling of water or several inches of standing water in an area due to burst pipes, overflowing toilets or bathtubs, or hurricanes and other weather events.

Other times, you may be alerted to a problem when you notice black or dark staining on your wood floors, loose tiles, or warping in an area of your laminate flooring. This type of damage may be the result of a leaking appliance such as a dishwasher, water heater or refrigerator (from the supply line to an ice maker). By the time you notice there’s a problem, your floor may have already sustained significant damage.

How Water Damage Can Affect Your Floors

Depending on the type of flooring in your home, water can damage it differently. Here’s how water damage can affect certain types of flooring.

Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are highly susceptible to water damage. Depending on the amount of water and how long it's had contact with the wood, the damage can range from minor staining and discoloration, to rotting and black mold infestation of the wood planks.

Too much water may also cause cupping (when the edges of a board are higher than its center) or buckling of the wood (this is when the floor separates from the subfloor, up to several inches high). The quicker the excess water is removed, and the floors are properly dried, the better the chances the wood (or most of it) can be salvaged. Wood flooring that’s salvageable will need to be sanded and refinished.

Laminate floors

Laminate flooring is a popular alternative to traditional hardwood flooring; it’s regarded for its durability, affordability and water resistance. Water resistance, however, is not the same as waterproof.

While laminate can withstand minor spills — thanks to its water-resistant top layer — it will not tolerate standing pools of water or heavy moisture. This type of flooring is made of several layers that are fused together using high heat and intense pressure.

Once the flooring starts to absorb the excess moisture, the composition of the laminate material and layers begin to break down, leading to warping, swelling, buckling, cracking, splitting or cupping of the floor.

Ceramic tiles

Ceramic tiles are known for their exceptional resistance to water, and are installed in high-moisture areas, including kitchens, bathrooms, basements and mudrooms. In cities like Austin, you'll often find them installed throughout the home, not only for their water resistance capabilities, but also because they help keep floors cool during hot summer months.

Although excess water doesn’t damage the actual ceramic tiles, it can damage the grout between the tiles and the adhesive used to secure the tiles to the subfloor. When enough water is left standing on the tiles, it can seep into the grout and saturate the subfloor (the supportive layer beneath the tiles, typically made from plywood). The wood soaks up the water and expands, causing the floor to buckle or tiles to become loose. 

Carpeting

As you may have already guessed, carpet that’s been damaged by water can turn into a wet, soggy mess. However, carpet can be properly cleaned, sanitized, disinfected and dried after water damage if the carpet’s exposure to water has been limited and the water comes from a relatively non-contaminated source — broken water pipes, water heaters or overflow and leakage from bathroom, kitchen and utility sinks.

Carpets that have been damaged by floodwaters from sewage backup or storms, or water that has come into contact with fecal matter or heavy metals and chemicals, must be replaced.

When Your Floors Are Water Damaged, You Need to Act Fast

Whether your floors have been exposed to water due to a burst pipe, leaky dishwasher or overflowing bathtub, the most important thing to do is to act fast! The longer water sits on your floors, the more damage it’ll cause, especially when it reaches the subfloor.

Standing water also promotes the growth of mold and could lead to your needing mold remediation. The growth of mildew and bacteria are also cause for concern and harmful to your health. Did you know that water-damaged areas and items must be dried within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth?

How Our SERVPRO Team Can Help

Depending on the extent of water damage to your floors, consulting with a professional water restoration company such as SERVPRO of East Central Austin is a wise choice. A professional is trained and experienced to thoroughly examine your flooring and subfloor to determine where the water has reached and whether secondary damage (such as mold growth) has occurred. Remember, just because you don’t see puddles of water, doesn’t mean that damage isn’t lurking beneath the surface.

With the help of specialized equipment, our experienced SERVPRO technicians can accurately detect hidden moisture and take appropriate steps to perform quality water damage restoration. This multi-step process includes the use of a combination of high-performing pumps and industrial wet vacuums, fans, air movers and dehumidifiers to dry your floor and the surrounding area. We are meticulous about monitoring and documenting the drying process to verify that your property is dried properly and thoroughly.

The team at SERVPRO of East Central Austin understands how stressful water damage can be for homeowners, and the importance of moving quickly to remove the water and begin water damage restoration. We provide 24-hour emergency service, seven days a week (including holidays), so you can rest assured that if an emergency happens, we’re there with you right away and stay with you every step of the way thereafter. 

What to Do When You Have Standing Flood Water in Austin

4/29/2019 (Permalink)

Severe Standing Water Damage in Austin TX from Flooding

Standing Flood Water and its Potential Health Risks for Austin Homeowners and Businesses

Austin TX is no stranger to heavy rain. When you’re in an area like Austin, that’s comprised of significant hilly terrain, that rain can quickly lead to some serious flooding. Flash floods come with the territory here, and with those floods also comes the likelihood of dealing with standing floodwater in your home or business.

But what Austin home and business owners may not be fully aware of is the damage that standing water from floods can cause.

Standing water (also known as stagnant water) is a pool of water that has accumulated, either from a rainstorm, or a flood. In most cases, these pools tend to be very small, and can be easily dealt with. But when a major storm hits Austin, water can gradually seep into your home or business and cause major water damage and mold in its aftermath, especially if you’re in an area where flooding is prevalent.

Though a small amount of water seeping in might be manageable on your own, if you have even a few inches of standing water in your house, then you need to step back and bring in a water removal and water damage professional.

Potential Health Issues from Standing Water in Austin TX

Aside from the physical damage it can cause to a building, standing water, if not dealt with right away, can pose serious health risks, including the increase of harmful bacteria and diseases, potentially infecting everything it comes in contact with, including clothing, children’s toys, kitchen appliances and furniture.

The list of health risks that can result from flood water is high, including infectious diseases, diarrheal diseases, and bacterial infections; diseases such as Norovirus, Tetanus, Tuberculosis, Legionnaires’ and West Nile are also possible. It’s important to be extremely cautious if you try any type of water extraction on your own, so be sure to wear protective clothing and especially gloves; if you have any open cuts on areas of your body that will be exposed, including your hands, dress and protect these properly to prevent infection.

If your house has been submerged, then so has your kitchen. This means that you shouldn’t eat anything that has come in contact with the standing water, as it could be contaminated. Some canned goods might be salvageable, but other perishables should be discarded.

Other Unseen Standing Water Hazards

In addition to health issues, be prepared that following a flood, you may be dealing with a variety of insects, including mosquitoes, cockroaches and other types of creatures that can be harmful. You may also come in contact with miscellaneous debris that’s flowed into your Austin home, such as mud, broken glass, pieces of wood and metal; note that these may be submerged and not easily identifiable at first and some of these can create physical hazards and obstructions as well. If there’s been an appearance of mud in your Austin home or business, you could also find other foreign objects such as rocks and broken tree branches.

Also, and this is very important, before you even decide to examine this water damage on your own, be sure to check for any fallen power lines in your immediate area. If you notice any downed lines, call the city to report this, and wait for a professional to show up and handle it properly.

Other Issues to Watch Out For When Your Austin Home Is Flooded

If you have standing water in your home, and are able to remove it on your own, you may still not be out of the woods. While you may have removed the water, there will still be other potential problems on the horizon. Even if a torrential storm has passed and your house hasn’t been flooded, there may still be some cases where standing water remains an issue.

Water Damage to your Floors

Regardless of what types of floors you have in your home, after dealing with flooding, you can expect to see some type of water damage. If your floors are made of tile and wood, your floors may appear cracked, warped or show signs of buckling. If your floors are carpeted, they may be saturated and damaged beyond repair, so it’s best to discard the carpeting and replace it.

Check Outside Your House

Pools and puddles of standing water outside your house can mean that you have poor drainage in your yard. If your gutters are clogged and aren’t moving the water away from your house, you can also face foundation problems. Also, if you have an older roof, you may experience pools of water that are slowly causing damage to your flashing and loss of shingles and tiles leaking from above into the walls of your house. Always check outside your home after a storm to tackle any possible water damage Austin.

Check for Mold and Rust

Standing water and the water damage associated with it can also create harmful mold and rust. Pipes can experience corrosion from standing water, and the moisture can help increase the existence of mold spores. The thing to keep in mind here that most mold is microscopic and can’t be seen immediately with the naked eye Once the standing water has been removed, properly air dry the interior of your house with proper ventilation. Fans, open windows, dehumidifiers…use whatever you can that will help remove the moisture from your home and stop mold and rust from developing.

Have you Been Affected by Standing Water after a Flood?

Contact Our Austin SERVPRO Team

If you’re not prepared to handle standing water on your own after a rainstorm or a flood, then you should contact a water extraction & water damage restoration company like our local SERVPRO team. Our staff are dedicated, trained & certified professionals who are available 24/7 and can handle your water damage and mold remediation needs.

We've performed thousands of water damage removal and restoration (including standing water issues) jobs, and we will diligently restore your property after water damage occurs from Austin storms, floods, and leaks.

Our team will review your water damage repairs while also providing an advance water damage inspection. We only use state of the art extraction equipment to make the restoration process an easy one.

Our SERVPRO team consists of highly trained water restoration technicians who can provide guidance and valuable resources.

If you require a water damage repair and restoration, please call our local SERVPRO Company today.

7 Must-Know Fire Damage Tips 

4/22/2019 (Permalink)

Many times fire damage can be repaired. Get some helpful tips for how to deal with fire damage to your Austin home or business.

After the Fire: How to Recover from Fire Damage

Fire damage can be devastating. After experiencing a fire in your house or business, your world may feel like it’s been turned upside down. Know that you're not alone.

According to statistics from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments responded to approximately 1,421,600 home structure fires between 2012 and 2016. These fires caused $6.5 billion in direct damage. 

Depending on the extent of the damage, knowing where and how to begin tackling the fire damage can feel overwhelming. We’ve assembled a list of 7 must-know fire damage restoration tips to help steer you in the right direction and help you get your home and life back to normal.   

Tip #1: Assess the Damage — Cautiously

While your first inclination after a fire is to get inside to assess the damage, we urge you to use caution! The flames may have been put out, but dangers still lurk in the form of soot and dirty water left behind that may make you sick. There may also be structural damage. Ask the advice of the Austin fire department if it’s safe to enter your home. Firefighters will make sure the utility services (water, electricity and gas) are safe to use, and that the roof and floors are secure before you assess any fire damage repair.

Tip #2: Contact Your Homeowner’s Insurance Company

To make sure you’re compensated properly for the damage to your Austin property, it’s important to contact your insurance company after the fire and before the fire damage cleanup begins. Your agent will instruct you on what to do first. You’ll be asked to make a list of everything that was damaged or destroyed in the fire and to describe these items in detail (including how much you paid for them and providing receipts when possible). The good news is that a standard homeowner’s insurance policy will cover fire damage to the home’s structure, as well as the homeowner’s personal property. Documenting the damage from the fire with photos and/or videos is also important. Your insurance company will also work with you to help you find a reputable fire and water restoration service. 

Tip #3: Contact a Reputable Fire Damage Restoration Company

Cleanup after a fire takes time and patience. You’ll find items that have been damaged by fire, smoke, soot and water used to put out the fire. Trusting the advice and expertise of a reputable fire damage restoration company can ensure the process runs as safely, quickly and efficiently as possible.

Response time is crucial for proper fire damage restoration. The longer you wait to address the damages, the more repairs will be needed, especially when it comes to the often subsequent water damage that also occurs as a result.

Drenched walls, furniture and other belongings can promote the growth of dangerous mold in your Austin residence or commercial property. When choosing an Austin TX fire damage restoration company, be sure to entrust your home to a company that’s licensed, bonded, insured and is certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). Trustworthy companies will do the following:

  • Perform a thorough fire damage assessment
  • Secure windows and doors with board-up services to ensure the physical safety of your property
  • Extract as much water as possible and use advanced drying and de-humidifying techniques
  • Tackle smoke and soot removal
  • Remove soot, ash and smoke residue from heating, ventilating and air-conditioning units and all ductwork
  • Remove and dispose of items that are too badly damaged to be repairable
  • Perform other cleaning, restoring and repairing services to preserve and protect your home and its contents

Tip #4: Care for Your Treasured Family Photos

As the fire and water damage specialist is busy at work bringing your home back to its pre-fire damaged condition, you’ll be eager to try to salvage as many treasured family belongings as possible, such as photographs.

Photographs that have not been burned can usually be saved. If you come across photographs that have become stuck together, don’t try to separate them by pulling them apart. Instead, soak them in slightly warm water. If the water becomes dirty change it often. It could take about an hour to loosen them. Dry them in a single layer, image-side up on a hard surface. Photos that are wet but not stuck together should be rinsed with water and dried, image-side up, in a single layer on a hard, smooth surface. Don’t dry photos in direct sunlight.

Tip #5: Throw Away These Items When You've Had Fire Damage!

Non-perishable food (such as canned foods) exposed to heat and damaged by flames or smoke should not be consumed. High heat can activate bacteria and toxic fumes can also contaminate food through sealed glass jars and aluminum cans. As a general rule, don't use canned goods when cans have bulged or are dented or rusted. Medications exposed to flames, heat and smoke should also be properly disposed.

Tip #6: Save Undamaged Property from Further Destruction

If you come across any items that aren’t damaged in your Austin TX home or business, you should put them in a safe place during the fire damage restoration process, such as in a storage facility. Check with your insurance company to see if your policy covers additional costs such as storage fees.

Tip #7: DIY Ways to Get Rid of Lingering Smoke Odors

If there’s a burnt odor that remains in your home, try using a HEPA filter air purifier. You can also try placing small bowls of baking soda, wine vinegar or activated charcoal throughout your home to help absorb the odor. Commercial odor-absorbing packets sold at home improvement stores will also help in some cases.

Final tip:

Flames, smoke, soot and water can cause significant damage to the structure of your home and your personal belongings. That’s why SERVPRO of East Central Austin is here to help you with any fire damage repair in Austin.

Our team of trained and certified professionals will be your ally throughout the process and will listen to your concerns. We will examine the extent of your fire damage repairs and provide the proper equipment and expertise to ensure a smooth restoration process, to make sure your home is restored to its pre-fire condition.

Give our local SERVPRO office a call if you need help, or have any questions.

Why Mold Remediation Is So Important

3/22/2019 (Permalink)

Mold remediation in Austin

Mold is not fun to deal with. Not only can it cause poor health and other issues, but it’s extremely difficult to get rid of. Mold is a natural substance, so in many cases, there’s no avoiding it. It’s also insidious in nature, and in some cases, you may not even know it’s there. Once you come across mold, however, you need to act quickly. This is one of the reasons why, with Austin’s climate, and its frequent high mold counts, that having mold remediation in Austin is so important, when you first detect mold.

Mold: Where Does it Come From?

Mold is a mischievous creature; it has microscopic pores that can appear just about anywhere, indoors or out. Mold is a frequent result where water damage occurs, whether that be a minor leak, or any instance, where water or moisture is involved.

So why is mold so hard to detect? Sometimes mold is visible, but often it isn’t. Most mold spores are microscopic, and range anywhere from 2-10 microns (microns are also known as micrometers, which individually are equal to one millionth of a meter).

One answer is that if you have a leak or any water issues, most molds can grow in places that you can’t see, like inside walls, inside ceilings, and other places that are often hidden from plain sight. Much of it depends on what is feeding the mold spores, so while we often think of nasty black spots, mold can grow in a variety of colors, mold spores can also appear in white, grey, red, brown and have a fuzzy or dusty consistency.

In most cases within homes or businesses, mold grows as a result of a subsequent water issue, such as a leak that helps introduce its spreading. However, water doesn’t always necessarily equal mold growth, since the actual spores need to be present.

If ignored, mold can start to smell and eventually start to spread into hidden areas. So, if you have a minor leak in your kitchen or bathroom, and it remains problematic, then it can lead to greater problems down the line. Especially in the Austin TX climate, even if you detect the slightest trace of mold, then you need to contact a mold remediation professional to initiate its removal.

What to Do at the First Signs of Mold in Austin

Molds will also omit a foul odor when its spores are in the process of colonizing. Initially, you may smell something fairly dank and musty, indicating that the mold has started to spread. Remember, you may not be able to see it, but if you can smell it then you need to take care of it.

Although you can attempt to eradicate the mold on your own, if you don’t have the experience or know how to actually remove it, then you’ll likely run into some problems. Because mold can also cause serious health related issues, your health may also suffer as a result. That’s why professionals in the water damage and mold remediation industry are highly equipped to tackle this. It’s also best to have a basic understanding of how mold originates and how you can stop it before it spreads. The last thing you want to deal with is a mold infestation in your home and business that’s gotten out of hand.

Understanding what mold is capable of and confronting it before it becomes something uncontrollable is a good way to start. It’s important to prevent the spread of mold by any means necessary, because it can affect not just your business and home, but your health as well if it’s not properly remediated.

Finding the Mold Source

As previously mentioned, mold can be invisible, often appearing in areas behind walls, under floors and inside ceilings. Seeking out the source is the route that a professional mold removal and remediation company will take. If there’s a dominant musty smell and the appearance of dry rot, then the mold issue is more problematic and immediate action needs to be taken.

The potential for health related issues grows stronger if the mold isn’t fully checked out. If you spend time at the home or office, and there’s a mold problem present, you can become overwhelmed by congestion, fatigue, headaches and possible allergy symptoms. Questionable indoor air quality could also mean that you have a mold issue.

What is Mold Remediation?

If mold has taken over your home or business, then you need to start the mold remediation process right away. Any areas where moisture appears will have to be stopped in its tracks and dealt with, such as turning off the water source. But, first you’ll need to document everything to help with any liability you may face. Take pictures or videos, and make notes documenting where all the leaks and potential damage have occurred.

If too much time has passed before noticing the mold, the spread of it could be more extensive than originally perceived. Remediating mold will help to remove all traces of it in your home, so that you’re no longer exposed to any harmful spores.

If mold has seeped into your walls, they’ll have to be opened up to allow for any dry rot and existing mold to be removed. This may not be the only place where the mold is growing, so you’ll have to investigate further into where any additional traces of it may occur.

Remediation professionals utilize a two level mitigation process, which can help remove the mold from your property.

Since mold issues are most often caused by water damage, the first level primarily handles the repair of any water problems, to prevent any new spores from appearing and growing. Contaminated areas are isolated, such as closing doors, windows and other areas from parts of the home that aren’t affected.

If there’s a fair amount of dust, it should be misted, so that the dust particles don’t spread, which allows for an easier cleanup. This level also includes the removal of any wet or contaminated materials, which should then be double-bagged in thick plastic bags and discarded.

The second level of mold mitigation primarily involves a thorough cleaning of the affected areas with a HEPA vacuum, followed by scrubbing the areas in question with a detergent solution, to ensure that all traces of mold have been removed and mold odors are removed as well. A visibility test often follows, to make sure that no dust, dirt or anything even resembling mold remains.

Afterwards, extensive drying should take place by properly airing out the areas in question using appliances such as fans and dehumidifiers. Once the areas are completely dry, then all affected parts of your home or business, including walls, etc., should be replaced.

Read about the full process of steps in mold remediation.

If a mold situation in your home or business starts to develop, and it’s too overwhelming for you to handle on your own, you should contact an Austin mold remediation specialist, for help in remediating the mold in your Austin home or business.    

How to Find the Right Mold Remediation Company in Austin

Mold remediation can be quite a time consuming endeavor, and if you’re not able to stop the spread of it on your own, then by all means, reach out to a mold remediation specialist, like SERVPRO of East Central Austin.

Located in Central Austin, our SERVPRO team features highly trained mold damage specialists, all of whom have the training and required certifications to tackle all of your mold remediation needs. SERVPRO of East Central Austin uses only top of the line, state of the art equipment for mold remediation projects.

SERVPRO of East Central Austin will thoroughly examine and detect any existence of mold at your home or business. We’re able to provide an immediate mold inspection and if we find any mold, we’ll get started to stop mold from becoming more of a problem.

You Can Help Protect Your Business From Fires

3/7/2019 (Permalink)

You Can Help Protect Your Business From Fires | SERVPRO® of East Central Austin - SERVPRO of East Central Austin Blog

If you are a business owner, there are plenty of safety issues that must be considered regarding risks to your business, staff and visitors. One of those risks you need to work on is fire prevention.

Leading Causes of Commercial Structure Fires

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that the leading causes of structure fires in office properties from 2007–2011 were (in order):

  1. Cooking equipment, 29% of fires
  2. Electrical distribution and lighting equipment, 12% of fires
  3. Heating equipment, 11% of fires
  4. Intentional, 10% of fires
  5. Smoking materials, 9% of fires
  6. Exposure, 4% of fires
  7. Electronic, office or entertainment equipment, 3% of fires

Three of those causes, intentional, exposure, and electrical distribution and lighting equipment, accounted for the most property damage with 20%, 18% and 15% respectively.

It was also reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that in 2007, fires and explosions accounted for 3% of all workplace fatalities.

When you take a look at more recent numbers, the NFPA estimates that from 2007–2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 3,340 fires in office properties per year. Those fires were the cause of an annual average of four deaths, 44 injuries and $112 million in direct property damage.

You Can Protect Your Business

There are steps you can take to protect your business from the risk of fires. If you focus on fire risk assessment, fire prevention and staff education, you will help reduce the chance of a fire breaking out.

First, make an assessment of your fire hazard risks. There are some local governments that provide the service of a fire marshal who can assess your risks and also provide guidance on your fire prevention plan.

You’ll want to make sure that the right fire protection equipment is in place. This includes an automatic sprinkler system, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers on each floor.

Finally, you must consider the human element of your business, the employees. When you create a fire plan and review it on a regular basis with your staff, you’ll be ensuring that everyone is educated on what to do in the event of a fire. Conducting fire drills at least once a year will keep the fire safety protocol fresh, as will taking time to review evacuation plans and knowing where the first-aid kits are located.

Despite best efforts with fire prevention and safety tips, the worst could always happen at your business. If a fire has damaged your business, SERVPRO® of East Central Austin is available to help make it "Like it never even happened."