How to Deal with a Sewage Overflow in Austin
Water damage caused by sewer backflow due to a clogged sanitary drain
What to Do When You Have Sewage Problems
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the number of backed up sewers is increasing at an alarming rate of about 3 percent annually. Sewage contains harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and other harmful microbes. Direct contact with sewage or surfaces contaminated by sewage can result in illnesses such as gastroenteritis (stomach flu) and E. coli diarrhea.
Knowing what to do when you experience sewage overflow in your home is vital to protecting your health and the health of your family, as backed by the III.
There are several causes of sewer backups—here are some of the most common.
1. A clog in your home’s pipes
A sewer backup can be the result of a simple clog or backup within your home’s pipes.
Sewer clogs are easily preventable with maintenance and proper care. Take the following steps to prevent backups:
- Properly dispose of paper and disposable products. Paper towels, hygienic wipes and feminine products do not deteriorate quickly and can all create backups within your pipes if disposed of in the toilet. Make sure only human waste and toilet paper goes down.
- Properly dispose of grease. Cooking oil should be poured into a heat-resistant container and disposed of properly after it cools off, not in the drain. Grease will solidify in your pipes, creating blockages in your pipes.
2. Tree roots
Tree roots are a common cause of a clogged sewer line. As tree roots grow, they search for sources of water. If they latch onto a sewer pipe, they will grow into the pipe in order to reach the water inside.
Old homes are especially susceptible to damage caused by tree roots. Older sewer lines are typically constructed out of clay or other porous materials, which can become crushed by large, overgrown roots.
3. Damaged sewer pipes
When sewer pipes are broken or ruptured, the sewage won’t be able to properly drain through the system, resulting in frequent backups. There are several causes of damaged sewer pipes, including corrosion of an older pipe, leaking joints where the seals between sections of pipe have broken, and sewer pipe rupture due to shifting soil, settling, or use of heavy construction equipment above ground.
4. Blockage in a city sanitary main
Some sewer backups are caused by a city sanitary main blockage. If the blockage is not detected in time, sewage from the main can back up into homes and businesses through floor drains. These are usually detected and treated before they become an issue, but they have been known to occur.
5. Heavy rainfall or other weather-related events
Heavy rainfall, especially for a prolonged period of time, not only causes significant water damage in Austin and the need for water damage cleanup, but can also cause major problems for sewer lines. If the rainfall exceeds the capacity of the sewer line, the excess water coming into the line may find its way to your sewer line.
As a result, you can be left with inches, or even many feet, of waste-water in your basement due to the public drain system being overburdened.
What to do if you experience a sewer backup
While prompt cleanup of the damage and destruction to your home is essential, it’s important to take these steps first to ensure the health and safety of everyone in the household:
- Remove children, seniors, and pets from the affected area until it is restored to a safe condition.
- Contact the utility companies that service your area and have them shut off the electricity, gas, and water supply to your home. If there’s standing water due to the sewage backup, never enter the space while the power is on – this is dangerous. Electricity and water can kill.
- Open windows to ventilate the area. Don’t use your home’s AC as this will spread contaminated air throughout your home.
- Don’t use any water for bathing, drinking, washing hands, clothes or dishes.
- Add small amounts of chlorine bleach to standing water to help provide some disinfection.
Once you’ve performed these important first steps, proceed to:
- Notifying your insurance company that there has been a sewage spill in your home.
- Calling a professional water damage restoration company that specializes in sewage cleanup. Cleaning up sewer backup is a difficult, unpleasant, and risky task, that’s best left to professionals. Proper cleanup entails a step-by-step process that requires the skill of an experience team and the proper equipment to get the job done safely and correctly.
Keep in mind that you should only consider a DIY sewage backup cleanup in case of a minor spill – one that is confined to a small area of your home (bathroom, part of a kitchen, etc.) and has recently happened. Major spills require professional help and a team of trained water damage professionals to handle it correctly.
Who Should You Contact When You Have a Sewage Backup in Austin
In the event of a sewage backup in your Austin TX home or business, immediately contact SERVPRO of East Central Austin at (512) 420-9886 to arrange for the cleanup of your property. We’re available 24/7 to provide you with the most appropriate, safest, and cost-effective solution to the problem.
Included in our services is odor removal and content cleanup, so you’ll have all the aspects of the restoration process taken care of when using our professional sewage cleanup services.
What to Expect from Your Water Damage Restoration Company
How to work with a restoration company when your home or business suffers from extensive water damage
When your home has suffered from water damage, it can be a tense and stressful experience. If the damage is severe, you'll need to hire a water damage restoration company to make repairs and restore your Austin home or business. Understanding what to expect from a water damage restoration company can help make the process less overwhelming.
What Is the Job of a Water Damage Restoration Company?
Restoration companies are some of the first responders when a home has been damaged by fire or floods, excessive water damage, or other major catastrophes. The ultimate job of a restoration company is to clean up the damage, remove it from the property and to preserve and protect the home so that it and the contents within it don't suffer from further damage.
Some restoration companies also will be able to repair your home or business to bring it back to its original condition. When hiring a water damage restoration company, you'll want to ensure you have a clear understanding and what they will and will not do at your property.
Your Insurance & the Restoration Company
After your property has suffered a major event and subsequent damage, you'll want to contact your insurance agent to make a water damage claim. Be sure to review your responsibilities with your insurance agent, and what is required by your insurance policy for cleaning up the home to prevent any additional damage. You'll want to discuss any questions you may have with your insurance agent.
Your agent may make referrals of restoration companies within the area. You can also contact a water damage restoration company on your own.
When choosing a water damage restoration company to work with, be sure they have all the proper certifications, are fully licensed and have at least a few years of experience in the water damage restoration industry. Make sure you're working with a company you can trust; your property is in their hands after all. One of the benefits of working with a company like SERVPRO is the national reputation our company has built and continues to uphold. SERVPRO franchises and employees are all upheld to strict training guidelines.
The Process Once the Water Damage Restoration Company Arrives
Here's how you should proceed once the water damage restoration company arrives.
Do a walkthrough of the property with the Restoration Company representative, and point out and discuss all the areas that need to be cleaned. The restoration company may be able to identify issues that you're not aware of, so you should also allow them to thoroughly examine the issues.
The company's representative will be evaluating what will be needed in terms of time, work and equipment to clean and restore your home. You should expect that they'll provide you with an estimate for those services.
Though insurance companies will cover most of the work done by damage restoration companies, there can be instances where not all cleaning and restoration services will be covered. You'll want to make sure you understand from your insurance company what will and won't be covered.
When they provide you with a contract, as with any contract you should read over it thoroughly and ensure that you understand the services listed and what will be done on your property. Be sure to request that you receive documentation showing the drying process and completion.
Once the work has been completed, be sure to keep a close eye on the areas where the restoration work was done, as you'll want to make sure no moisture or dampness from the water damage remain in your home.
If you experience any issues with the Restoration company, remember that you'll need to take those up with the restoration company directly, and your insurance company won't get it involved.
Though hopefully you've chosen a reputable company to handle your restoration, remember that you'll always want to ensure that the work was done correctly.
Some Things to Look Out for When Choosing a Restoration Company
Reputable restoration companies will be IICRC certified. IICRC stands for the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification. It's a non-profit organization that offers certification programs and standards for the restoration industry.
In order to be IICRC certified, the restoration company must have proof of insurance, maintain a written customer complaint policy with follow-up on complaints, and provide the technicians with education and training to become certified.
Companies may also be members of the Restoration Industry Association (RIA). The RIA is a trade association for cleaning and restoration professionals. In addition to education and training, the trade association offers technical support and several certifications for technicians.
Here's a quick review of how to proceed when water damage strikes your home or business:
1. Be sure to choose a restoration company with an excellent reputation that have been around for at least a few years.
2. Check that your restoration company is IICRC Certified
3. Read the contract carefully and be sure to keep your own copy
4. If a problem occurs, make sure you contact your restoration company right away
5. Check with your insurance company on what is expected of you following a major loss.
6. For any insurance coverage questions, be sure you get answers in writing from your insurance company claims adjuster.
7. Remember that it's important to act fast to prevent further damage from water or flooding. This is to prevent things like mold from growing. Delays can end up costing you much more in the end in terms of recovery, salvage and reconstruction.
8. Make sure repairs to your home are done promptly after the clean up service occurs.
We understand how devastating a damage event can be. When you need to ensure your property is in good hands, be sure to contact our SERVPRO team. We don't just clean up and remove the damage, we specialize in restoring your property to its original condition and making it like it never even happened.
Tips for Locating Water Leaks in Your Home
Water leaks can cause extensive damage to your floors & ceilings & cause further damage & mold problems
Water leaks are more than just a nuisance. Undetected leaks — or those that are simply ignored — can eventually lead to costly repair and further water damage due to rot, mold growth from extra moisture, and other extensive damage. Finding and fixing a water leak early on & before it gets out of hand can save you money and avert potential disaster.
The first sign of a hidden leak can be a higher than normal water bill. Once you’ve ruled out that the cause isn’t due to extra water use by house guests or from watering your lawn and garden during the warm-weather months, an undetected leak is the likely culprit.
Did you know that fixing easily corrected household water leaks can save homeowners about 10 percent on their water bills?
There are a few different ways to check for hidden water leaks. The first tool is your water meter.
In addition to telling the utility company how much water you’ve used, your home’s water meter can also be used to your advantage to find hidden water leaks.
Follow these simple steps to uncover your water leak:
- Stop using all water inside and outside the house. This includes all the indoor faucets, outdoor faucets, water-using appliances, ice makers, and automatic backflow cleaning in whole-house water filters. Don’t flush the toilet during the test.
- Locate your water meter. If your meter has a water flow indicator, watch the indicator for movement. This is a small rotating wheel on the meter that can detect even small amounts of water flow. If it moves when you know no one’s using any water, then there’s a leak somewhere in your house.
- If you don’t have a water flow indicator, record the numbers that appear on the meter. Wait a few hours (remember not to use any water during this time).
- Check the meter. If the meter reading goes up, it’s an indication of a hidden water leak.
Now that you know you have a leak, the next step is pinpointing its exact location. The following are the most common places for a home water leak to occur.
Tub and Shower: Drain Leaks
Drain leaks occur when water sneaks around the outside of the drain where it’s connected to the tub or shower. This means the water is not actually going down the drain. This type of leak is especially common with plastic or fiberglass tubs and shower pans, where the seal around the drain is susceptible to breaking.
In addition to causing mold problems in your Austin TX home, these leaks can stain or destroy the ceiling below or rot floor joists.
How to test for a drain leak
Plug the drain with a test plug (found at home centers) and fill the tub with some water (experts suggest using a test plug instead of your tub drain plug since it may leak). After an hour, check to see if the water level has dropped. If it has dropped, the drain is leaking.
Toilet flange leak
The flange is the part of the toilet that secures the unit to the floor which connects to the drain pipe. If you have a toilet flange leak, water will leak out every time you flush. This can wreck flooring, rot the subfloor and joists, and damage the ceiling in the room below.
How to test for a flange leak
If there are stains on the ceiling in the room directly below the bathroom near the toilet, the cause is most likely a leaking toilet flange. You’ll have to remove the toilet and look for the exact source of the leak, such as cracks in the flange, broken bolts, or a loose flange that isn’t screwed securely to the subfloor.
Another way to test if your toilet has a leak, is to place a few drops of food coloring into the tank. Don’t flush the toilet for one hour; after one hour, check the toilet bowl. If there’s food coloring in the bowl, you have a leak.
To determine what part is leaking, turn off the water supply at the base of the toilet. Draw a line on the tank at the water level. Wait another hour. If the water level drops below the line, the problem is the flush valve (the part inside the tank of the toilet that moves the water into the bowl) or flapper (the part of the toilet that drains water from the tank and into the bowl when you flush).
If the water level stays the same, the leak is the refill valve (refills the toilet tank and bowl to the correct water levels after flushing) or float (a device that allows water to fill the tank without overflowing).
Under sink plumbing leaks
Under the kitchen sink or bath vanity leaks often go unnoticed for a long time since they’re usually at the back of the cabinet.
Water can eventually run down the pipes into the floor or subfloor, rotting the sink base, the floor and the framing.
How to test for an under sink plumbing leak:
Run a dry tissue or napkin along shutoffs and supply line connections and look for wet spots. Also run the dishwasher and check for leaks under it.
Sink drain leaks
Drain leaks in kitchens and bathrooms usually occur at the drain or at the slip joints in the drainpipe. This type of leak can eventually damage flooring, cabinets and even ceilings below before you notice them.
How to test for a sink drain leak:
Plug the sink drain and fill the sink bowl with water. Remove the drain plug; as the water drains, check all joints from the sink to the wall with a dry tissue for any wetness.
It is Always a Good Idea to Seek the Advice of a professional
Finding the source of your home’s water leak can be difficult. There are many other potential causes of leaks, including water heaters (especially older models that rust and corrode over time), washing machines (ruptured cold or hot water supply hose), refrigerators (leak or rupture of automatic ice maker) and dishwashers (ruptured water supply line).
If you have trouble pinpointing the exact cause, contact a professional plumber.
Check for leaks outdoors
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it’s important to routinely check not only for indoor leaks, but outdoor leaks as well.
- Your irrigation system should be checked each spring before use to make sure it wasn’t damaged by frost or freezing.
- Check your garden hose for leaks at its connection to the spigot. Check all of your spigots by looking for leaks as well as listening for running water in the pipe.
- Inspect the pump, lining and pipes of your pool for any obvious drips. Also note if your pool seems to be losing water at a faster rate than normal, which may indicate a leak.
If you find a leak, there are many DIY videos online that can show you how to fix most problems. While small projects like toilet leaks are easily tackled by the DIYers, pipe leaks and other complicated leaks are best left to the hands of a professional plumber.
If your leak is extensive and has caused damage to your home, don’t wait to take action!
Act quickly by calling our Austin water damage restoration company to help prevent mold growth — a common danger caused by moisture. Under the right conditions, mold can begin to grow in as little as 24 to 48 hours.
Major water leaks can also lead to costly structural damage, especially in places you can’t see — above the ceiling, behind walls or beneath floors.
Contact our SERVPRO team as soon as possible to mitigate the problem. We can be reached 24/7 at (512) 420-9886.
How to Maximize Your Water Damage Claim
Ensure you're getting the most from your water damage claim with these important tips.
Don't get caught holding the financial bucket when it comes to water damage and your insurance company.
If Disaster Strikes, Get the Most from Your Water Damage Claim
As if having your floors, furniture and other belongings damaged by water isn’t stressful enough, having your water damage claim denied makes an already nerve-racking experience that much worse. The words water damage can cause anxiety in any homeowner.
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.
To make sure you get the coverage you’re owed, we’ve compiled a list of steps on how to maximize your water damage claim.
Read your insurance policy now, before a water disaster strikes.
Some people assume that their homeowners insurance will cover all types of damage to their home caused by water. This is not always the case. One of the first things to know is the difference between flood damage and water damage and what type of coverage you have.
The main difference between a flood claim and a water damage claim is where the water comes from. With flood damage, the water comes from a natural source (heavy rains and/or rising waters such as from a hurricane or other weather event) and affects two or more properties (you, your neighbor and others in your area).
Water damage is caused by things like a burst pipe, tub or toilet overflow, a leaking dishwasher, or a broken appliance hose. If you’re dealing with water in your house but your neighbor doesn’t have any issues, you are most likely dealing with a water damage claim. Most homeowners policies cover sudden and accidental water damage. They don’t, however, cover flood damage.
Flood insurance is a separate policy from your homeowners insurance.
If you do not currently have flood insurance, but you are concerned about your risk of flood damage, learn more about purchasing flood insurance and filing flood claims at https://www.floodsmart.gov/.
Contain the water damage! Trying to mitigate the water damage should be priority number one. If you have a plumbing leak, turn off the water to the house. Is your roof leaking? You can put a tarp up to temporarily block the rain.
If you aren’t able to stop or control the incoming water, you’ll need to hire a professional, such as a plumber, asap.
Contact a trusted water remediation company
When you’re dealing with water damage, immediate action is crucial. A delay of just a few hours can greatly increase the severity of damage. A reputable company such as SERVPRO of East Central Austin will be fully staffed 24 hours a day and will be ready to come to your home to help control the situation.
Also be sure to contact your insurance agent or company to gather vital information on how to get the claims process started to help pay for repairs. The sooner you call the better.
Consult with a public adjuster
Public adjusters help you maximize your insurance claim and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. These professionals aren’t tied to any insurance company, whereas adjusters sent by the insurance company are, and they’ll naturally try to minimize the insurance company’s payout.
Hiring a public adjuster makes sense especially if your claim is large. A public adjuster will walk you through the water damage insurance claims process. They’re certified professionals who know the industry and they’re the best way to ensure your water damage insurance claims are covered.
Document, document, document
Your insurance company will need evidence to assess your claim. Capture the extent of the damage in photos or on video. Take photos of all of the damage, and also include anything that could have caused the damage, like a broken pipe or a hole in the roof.
Create an inventory of what has been damaged and include each item’s value and the estimated cost to replace it. If possible, gather receipts with dates of purchase, and the prices of the damaged contents.
Although you may be tempted, don’t throw out any damaged items yet. Collect water-damaged items and debris in plastic bins or bags so that you have physical proof for the adjuster.
Complete all the necessary paperwork
Submitting insufficient information or incomplete data is one of the most common reasons why water damage claims are denied. Be sure you fill out all the necessary paperwork and provide all requested documents, photos, etc. Contact your insurance company if you have any questions or if you get to sections that you’re unable to complete.
Hire a qualified water damage remediation company
Your insurance company may suggest or hire their own cleaners for your home. Water can cause extensive damage to your home, so you’ll want to be sure you hire a team that’s highly qualified and has vast experience. Highly trained technicians, such as those who work on the SERVPRO of East Central Austin team, will make sure to use moisture detectors, hygrometers, infrared cameras, and other advanced water restoration equipment and techniques.
We’ll also monitor the location of the water in your home and use the proper disinfectants to prevent the spread of mildew, bacteria, and fungi.
Contact SERVPRO of East Central Austin today by phone at (512) 420-9886 or online with any questions and to learn more about how to maximize your water damage claim.
How to Know When You Need a Mold Inspection
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?
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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 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 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 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.
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.