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Storm Damage: What are the Causes? SERVPRO of Hamilton & South Trenton

7/20/2021 (Permalink)

rain and snowing coming down on a dark night When disaster strikes, we strike back!

In the past few months, New Jersey has been experiencing a high level of heavy rainfall. Did you know heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding is one of the common types of damage from storms? There are ten common types of storms and being familiar with them aids in storm preparation and damage prevention.

We know how important it is to homeowners to keep homes safe from storm damage.

The 5 most common storms are:

  • Hurricanes
  • Tornadoes
  • Thunderstorms
  • Snow storm
  • Hail storms

Since New Jersey is so far north and so close to the coast, it’s very possible that you may experience each of these kinds of events.

The fact is that hurricanes cause damage far past the coast. That storms cause damage is obvious, but the kinds of damage they cause and how is not always known.

Since hurricanes have long-term effects (Hurricane Sandy impacted 24 states), it’s very important to be educated on that type of storm in particular.

Hurricane damage is caused by three distinct but related storm elements: storm surge, floods, and wind.

Storm surge is when water rises far past the predicted tide level. This rise occurs because the wind from the hurricane pushes the water toward the shore, giving it nowhere to go, except up and in. The force of storm surge can be so strong as to destroy buildings and roads.

Storm surge is a direct cause of floods. The extra water from storm surge can reach far inland, causing widespread floods as it goes. Hurricanes can also cause rainfall as far as 100 miles past where the hurricane actually hits. Even tropical storms that don’t reach hurricane level can cause excess rainfall and thus floods.

Wind from hurricanes can reach speeds of 74 mph up to 155 mph. Winds of this speed cause widespread destruction by uprooting trees, downing power lines, and carrying debris and tossing it against other structures, even causing roofs to lift. It’s not unheard of for hurricane winds to form tornadoes.

Storm surge, floods, and winds can cause damage that is far-reaching, unexpected, and overwhelming. You can take precautions by packing an emergency preparedness kit, installing weather-resistant features to your house, and always following official safety orders or directives.

Making Sure Your Family is Prepared for Severe Weather | SERVPRO® of Hamilton & South Trenton

7/20/2021 (Permalink)

cell phone held over a computer clicking for an emergency Having a team on your side after a disaster can help relieve stress. SERVPRO of Hamilton, South Trenton is here to help 24/7.

Today, we are fortunate to have advance warning for some types of severe weather, but there are also times where Mother Nature manages to catch us by surprise.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take and safety tips to follow that will guide you in preparing for your family’s safety in various severe weather occurrences.

Where to Start

One of the best ways to ensure your family’s safety is to have an established family emergency plan at the ready.

Be sure to go over your plan together as a family at the beginning of each weather season if there is an emergency plan in place so everyone knows exactly what to do.

Here are some things to take into consideration when creating your family emergency plan if you have not yet done so:

1. How will emergency alerts and warnings be received?

Thanks to technology today, emergency alerts and warnings are at our fingertips with our smartphones that are equipped with a weather app or Google. We can quickly receive emergency alerts, that provide us with valuable time in severe weather situations. Warnings and alerts are also still broadcast over radio and TV.

2. What type of storm shelter do you have?

Where tornadoes are a common occurrence, you’ll want to be in the lowest part of your home, preferably a basement, or if there is no basement, use an interior room on the lowest level that is away from corners, windows, doors and outside walls. Tornadoes aren’t the only weather circumstance that require a form of storm shelter, and you can learn about more of the situations that call for them by visiting ready.gov.

3. What are the evacuation routes?

Have you mapped out multiple evacuation routes because hurricanes, flooding and fires can force you from your home at a moment’s notice. It’s wise to have multiple routes in the event one is impassable, and be sure you find places to stay with your pets along the way if you have furry family members involved in your evacuation.

4. How will everyone stay in touch?

Cell phones are the easiest way to keep in touch with your family, but in some circumstances, that just will not be possible. Cell phone towers can be damaged and phones could be lost or left behind; not to mention batteries will not last forever and there will be no power to recharge them.

Your family should have an emergency communication plan in place as well as a safe meeting place so that you can all meet there if separated.

If a storm does cause damage to your home or business, don’t hesitate to call your friends at SERVPRO® of Hamilton, South Trenton to get the cleanup and restoration process started.

Understanding the Basics of Damaging Winds | SERVPRO® of Hamilton & South Trenton

7/13/2021 (Permalink)

roof and siding falling off of house from wind damage We are available for cleanup & restoration services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Damaging winds are one of the threats that comes with severe storms. These winds can catch you off guard and be problematic due to long-term structural impacts.

Why Damaging Winds Are Such a Major Concern

Tornadoes and hurricanes are not the only times damaging winds occur. Damaging winds are considered winds with wind speeds exceeding 50–60 mph and can be produced by a strong thunderstorm. Often, you will hear damaging winds referred to as “straight-line” winds to differentiate the damage from tornado damage.

The damage from straight-line winds can be especially destructive, often causing unanchored objects to become projectiles. Any windows or roof can take the brunt of this damage. If the damage is extensive, it can result in water damage to the home as outside elements come indoors through broken windows or damaged roofs.

Anyone who lives in a thunderstorm-prone area can be at risk from damaging winds, but there are some structures, such as mobile homes, especially at risk. Mobile homes, even those that are anchored, could sustain serious damage in winds gusting over 80 mph.

Ways to Prepare Your Home

There are a number of things you can do to protect your property from damaging winds, but there are two things to remember, keeping the “Two R’s” in mind: reinforce and remove.

  • Look into having your garage door reinforced by a professional.

  • Ensure that any loose objects on your property that could become wind-borne are properly stored or anchored. Remember that trash cans, grills and outdoor furniture are easily picked up by strong winds.

  • Larger, older decaying trees and branches should be professionally removed, which will ensure they cannot be blown onto your home.

Remember, high winds can occur without advanced notice. By taking some, or all, of the above actions, you can be prepared on a moment’s notice.

Also, if you are building a new home or renovating an older home, be sure windows, walls and doors are up to code for your area.

If your home has been hit by damaging winds and resulting water damage, the highly trained specialists at SERVPRO® of Hamilton & South Trenton are here to help with the cleanup and restoration of your home.

The Dangers of Lightning During Storms | SERVPRO® of Hamilton/South Trenton

7/13/2021 (Permalink)

Lightning strikes in a dark, stormy sky Storm & lightning damage require specialized restoration techniques and equipment. When a storm hits your home, you need the company with experience.

There are many ways in which a thunderstorm can cause damage. Flooding or wind damage are what often come to mind, but it is also important to consider the risks associated with lightning when discussing thunderstorms.

While some storms bring rain and water, every storm is made up of electricity, creating the possibility for lightning even in the absence of precipitation. Lightning bolts can be up to 500,000 degrees, causing damage and even fatalities when they strike. An understanding of what lightning is and how it can be dangerous is extremely helpful in helping homeowners prevent these risks.

How Thunderstorms and Lightning Coexist

All thunderstorms contain the electricity that makes a lightning strike possible. What we know as a lightning strike is actually a rapid burst of electricity that occurs when this charge becomes agitated.

The atmosphere is not an ideal conductor, which is why lightning tends to strike objects—this creates a less resistant route in getting to the ground. When a home is the object that has been struck, lightning will usually forge this path through water pipes and wiring.

How Lightning Is Dangerous to Homes

While there are many dangers surrounding thunderstorms, there are [three main ones involved with lightning striking a house]:

The risk of fire. One of the biggest dangers of a lightning strike to a house is the fire hazard it causes. Lightning is hot enough to ignite building materials, causing a fire to break out at the point of impact. Additionally, lightning traveling through wires can cause them to fray, creating fire hazards all throughout the home.

The risk of power surges. Because of the electrical charge at play with lightning, it can easily transfer that to the wiring in the home. This is what we call a power surge, which can affect any electronic device plugged in that is not routed through a surge protector.

The risk of shock waves. Shock waves are typically manifested in thunder, but they can also occur at the site of a lightning strike. Shock waves have been known to crack chimneys, break windows and explode cinder blocks, making them extremely hazardous to a home’s structure.

If your home has been affected by storm damages or lightning-related fires, give us a call today! We are experts in damage cleanup and can restore your damage quickly.

Taking Water damage Into Consideration | SERVPRO® of Hamilton & South Trenton

7/9/2021 (Permalink)

man inspecting water controls Water damage can be a nightmare to deal with but fortunately, you will always have us.

Water. Let’s face it—we need it to live—everything needs it! But what we don’t need is for it to be causing damage to our property and our homes.

When it comes to damage caused by water, there are many reasons it happens. How many of those reasons are you aware of?

For the period covering 2009 to 2015, The Travelers Companies Inc. discovered the most prevalent reasons for a filed homeowners insurance claim were:

  • Wind damage
  • Water damage from sources other than weather
  • Hail
  • Weather-related water damage
  • Burglary

Water damage is so common that it appears on this list twice, in two different categories. To make it simple, remember that it can be classified as non-weather-related and weather-related.

Water damage that is not caused by weather occurs most often in the home and is the result of plumbing and appliance malfunction issues. Water damage caused by weather can cause just as big of headache but does not occur as often. Weather-related water damage is caused by events such as rain, snow or melting ice.

The top five reasons for water damage in the home are plumbing, appliance leaks, water pipe issues, older water heaters and weather.

Water Damage Prevention

While water damage can be pricey, it could be even more pricey if a homeowner is not covered by homeowners insurance. Check your homeowner policy for your coverages. In most cases, damages that are covered in a standard policy are:

  • Damages caused by winter weather
  • The expulsion of water, even if it is accidental
  • Damaged or broken down hot water heating system
  • Plumbing that freezes

Fortunately, there are ways to keep water damage from occurring, thereby saving yourself some headaches in the future.

Here are some ideas for preventive maintenance to help you protect your home as much as possible from the damage caused by water:

  • Hire a plumber to install back flow valves and standpipes in basement drains.
  • Raise your appliances and personal items up off the basement floor.
  • Clean all gutters and downspouts.
  • Never place grease down the kitchen drain.

When you follow these suggested tips, you just might reduce the probability for any water damage incidents in your home.

Water damage can be a nightmare to deal with but fortunately, you will always have SERVPRO® of Hamilton & South Trenton on your side to help with the cleanup and restoration process.

A Look at Common Causes of Water Damage in Your Home

7/9/2021 (Permalink)

rusty metal with a glass of water Water damage can happen at any time. We will ensure that each water mitigation job is done correctly and completely.

Severe weather is usually one of the first things that comes to mind for many when thinking of water damage. It’s true that storms and flooding can cause catastrophic water damage, but they are often not the main culprits. Various items in your home can be the culprits responsible for many water damage situations.

Understanding Water Damage

Many homeowners will face water damage. Water damage was the third most common reason for homeowners insurance claims between 2011 and 2015, with an average payout per claim of $8,861.

Insurance claims are impacted by the type of water damage. Gradual damage, for example, is often not covered by insurance. Gradual damage is something that has been happening over time, such as plumbing issues in the walls causing damage to the walls, ceilings or floors, or water damage caused by cracks in the foundation. Unfortunately, many aspects of gradual water damage are not covered by homeowners insurance, while storm-related water damage usually is.

Common Water Damage Culprits

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), lists the leading causes of water damage as outlined below:

  • Plumbing drain system failures. These can occur when a sewer drain backs up and overflows into a home or from material performance issues. In their study, IBHS determined that 52% of drain system failures were caused by sewer backups and 37% were related to material performance issues. It was also discovered that the average costs incurred due to drain system failure were higher in southern states than in other areas of the country.

  • Plumbing supply system failures. Frozen pipes can burst due to water pressure buildup caused by freezing water or when the supply system material fails and results in a leaking or burst pipe. Per IBHS, plumbing supply system failures are the leading source of residential water losses, costing an average of $5,092 per claim after the deductible. Homes with ages of 16 to 40 years made up a larger group of supply system material failure claims.

  • Toilet failures. Toilets are the second highest cause of residential water damage loss after plumbing supply system failures and result from faulty fill valves to clogged drain lines. Surprisingly, according to IBHS, toilet failures on the first floor of a home resulted in more extensive claims than those in basements or upper floors.

  • Water heater failures. If your water heater has reached its life expectancy, expect that the tank will begin to rust and corrode, resulting in leaking or bursting issues. IBHS found that 69% of all water heater failures were a result of a slow leak or sudden burst and, on average, cost $4,444 per incident after the deductible has been paid.

  • Washing machine failures. Typically washing machine failures are caused by supply hose failures, machine overflows and drain line failures. Washing machines are one of the top 10 sources of residential water damage losses. Per IBHS, supply hose failures accounted for over half of all washing machine-related losses.

If your home has experienced any water damage, the team at SERVPRO® of Hamilton & South Trenton is always available to help with cleanup and restoration, making it look “Like it never even happened.”

Getting to Know the 3 Types of Water Classifications | SERVPRO® of Hamilton & South Trenton

7/9/2021 (Permalink)

mopping up after water damage We are available for cleanup and restoration services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you think all water that causes water damage is the same, think again! There are three classifications for it: clean, gray and black.

By gaining a better understanding of the differences in these types of water, it will help you understand how to better handle a water damage situation.

Whenever there is a water damage situation, it doesn’t matter what type of water has caused damage because a cleanup and restoration process will always follow. First, and most important, is removing all moisture and damp items as quickly as possible to hinder the growth of mold, which begins to flourish in this ideal environment.

Clean Water

The name says it all; clean water is considered “clean” and not likely to be the type that would pose an immediate threat to your health. This water contains no contaminants and is the result of:

  • Broken water lines
  • Malfunctioning appliances
  • Toilet holding tanks
  • Snow melt and rainwater

Clean water is the easiest type of water damage to work with because there are fewer microbes living in the water. But remember, it only takes 48 hours and contact with the surfaces of a building for clean water to become a category two, becoming gray water.

Gray Water

Damage from gray water makes water damage cleanup and restoration a bit more serious. This is water that may pose a health risk because it will most likely contain chemical or biological contamination. This slight contamination means that gray water would need to be thoroughly treated before it is safe for consumption.

Water that comes from dishwashers, aquariums, showers, etc. is considered gray water, and the 48-hour exposure time applies here as well, as it will become black water if it is not quickly and property treated.

Black Water

A black water damage situation is considered the most serious of the three classifications as this water is highly contaminated by harmful chemicals and biological matter. This would include floodwaters containing soil and all sewage waters.

Sewage is contaminated with microbes, which include bacteria, protozoans, molds, fungi and more—many of these can cause health effects to humans.

Some of the diseases that can be transmitted by black water are:

  • Cholera
  • Typhoid
  • Hepatitis
  • Gastroenteritis-type illnesses

Any water involved in a flooding situation should be considered dangerous and assumed to be black water since it will pick up contaminants along its path.

The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Remediation Certification (IICRC), an organization that certifies and sets the standards for the cleaning and restoration industry, recognizes these three classifications of floodwater. Our highly trained technicians have all studied IICRC’s standards and best practices in water restoration and are available to help determine the steps to take to get your home back to normal.

It doesn’t matter what type of water has caused damage to your home or business, we are here to help get the situation under control and make it "Like it never even happened." Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need emergency cleanup and restoration services!

Fire Safety Basics to Help Protect your Family | SERVPRO® of Hamilton & South Trenton

7/9/2021 (Permalink)

flame on a stove A quick response time with an alert team will assure that your restoration needs are professionally completed.

Every year in the United States, more than 350,000 house fires happen, adding up to more than $5.5 billion in property damage. Beyond the financial loss, these fires also lead to nearly 3,000 deaths and another 10,000 injuries.

The best defense for your family against a fire is to prepare in advance. That’s why it’s important for every person to know how to prevent fires and how to respond if one occurs.

Start teaching your kids basic fire safety guidelines when they’re young. Let’s also take a look at three other fire safety practices you can practice as a family:

Watch Out for Fire Hazards

Go through your home. You might be surprised how many fire hazards you spot! Take some time and go through every room and your outdoor space to uncover any hazards.

  • Ensure your appliances are in good shape.
  • Check that electrical cords are in workable condition.
  • Do not overload outlets and/or extension cords.
  • Check to make sure you are using the correct wattage of lightbulbs.
  • Double-check that electrical wiring is not covered up by rugs or carpet.

Creating Your Fire Plan

In the event of a fire, every person in the family needs to know what to do—including how to get out of the house and where to go once they’re out.

But don’t just create a plan and not have practice drills. After all, as the saying goes, “practice makes perfect.” Regular practice of what to do makes you more likely to remember the steps if an actual fire occurs.

Practice Kitchen Fire Safety

Cooking is the biggest single cause of home fires. That’s why it’s important to be especially careful in the kitchen.

Anyone who’s cooking needs to familiarize themselves with basic cooking safety:

  • Never cook when tired or unable to pay attention.
  • Do not leave kids and teens alone when they cook.
  • Always keep a lid at hand when cooking on the stove in case of a grease fire. If a small grease fire occurs, use the lid to smother the fire.
  • If a fire occurs in the oven, turn it off and keep the door closed.
  • Leave the room and close the door if a kitchen fire occurs and begins to spread.

If your family has experienced a fire and needs help restoring your home, SERVPRO® of Hamilton & South Trenton can help! Give us call to learn about our fire restoration services and what we can do for you.

Window Air Conditioner Leaking Water Into House – What To Check – How To Fix

6/14/2021 (Permalink)

air conditioner units in an apartment building If your home has experienced any water damage, the team at SERVPRO® is always available to help with cleanup and restoration.

Question: I just turned my window AC unit on today and it is leaking water inside my house. What could be the problem? I had it running for 3 weeks and all of a sudden it started to leak. Water is on the plastic vent where the cold air blows out. I believe that is where it is leaking from but not sure. Can you tell me how to fix this? 

ANSWER: You need to check a few things to be sure the ac unit is installed properly and there is no water drainage block present.

– Unplug the window AC unit.

– Clean up all the water on the AC unit, on the window ledge, and on the floor of your room.

– Check and be sure the AC is tightly sealed in the window.

– Do you feel warm air coming into the room around the AC unit?

– If you feel warm air coming in you need to seal it again.

– Check to see if the drain holes on the rear of the ac unit are blocked.

– Clean the drain holes to allow water to drip out.

– Make sure the filter is clean and not clogged with massive dirt or dust.

– After cleaning up the water and having it turned off for 30 minutes or so, then turn it back on to make sure the water doesn’t appear again.

Here are the reasons water can drip from a window air conditioner unit:

AIR LEAK – AIR CONDITIONER NOT PROPERLY SEALED IN WINDOW:

If your window air conditioner is not sealed correctly, the warmer air from outside gets inside the air conditioner. When this happens, the moisture that is in the warmer air will be condensed by the colder air inside the air conditioner. When there is excess moisture, the water will leak. 

DRAIN IS BLOCKED – DIRT OR DUST HAS BLOCKED THE DRAIN HOLES:

There are drain holes (drip pan) at the rear of window AC units. They can get blocked from dusty conditions or dirt in the air. When this type of blockage happens, the water that would normally drip out will be trapped and water will leak from the front of the AC unit and at both sides of the unit. Be sure to keep the drain holes clean and free of debris. Also clean the filters or replace them to prevent any type of blockage that may cause a water leak.

OUTSIDE TEMP IS LOWER – HEAVY MOISTURE IN OUTSIDE AIR:

If it is raining or there is heavy moisture in the air outside, water evaporates much less than usual. This leads to excess water moisture in the air conditioner and this will cause water leaks. This is normal for most window AC units and using a drip pan can solve the issue if there is heavy moisture in the air outside.

CONDENSER PUMP NOT WORKING – BROKEN OR CLOGGED PUMP:

If the condenser pump in the AC is faulty or clogged, it will cause water to leak. You can check the condenser/pump if you feel confident. Check for any blockage or loose wires. If the pump seems to be okay visually, you will need to test the pump with a meter to see if it is faulty. If so, you may be better off buying a new AC unit.

If your home has experienced any water damage, the team at SERVPRO® is always available to help with cleanup and restoration, making it look “Like it never even happened.” Contact us at 908.650.8611.

What to Do When Hoarding Is Discovered | SERVPRO® of Hamilton & South Trenton

6/8/2021 (Permalink)

plastic bottles and garbage In need of a team to help restore a space where hoarding has been an issue? Contact our team at 908.650.8611.

Have you ever heard about hoarding? It’s a dangerous mental disorder that can make household dangers, including fires, more likely.

So, what is hoarding exactly? Hoarding is a mental illness that causes people to obsessively hang on to possessions, ultimately accumulating them in large quantities that can take over a home. Those affected by the disorder are rarely hoarding things of any value—trash and other clutter are common.

As these items pile up over time, they can present fire hazards, house insects or rodents, or even hide toxic mold growth.

So, if you you need to clean out a space where hoarding has been taking place, what should you do?

Step 1: Call in the professionals, who can clean up the space and ensure the area is safely rehabbed for future use.

What Is Involved in Hoarding Cleanup

There’s more involved in hoarding clean-up than simply clearing out the hoarded materials and washing the space. A professional team will provide a comprehensive cleanup process that mitigates any safety hazards that have cropped up.

Removal of Dangerous Substances

Piles of hoarded materials can conceal any number of health hazards, including toxic mold growth, along with insects, bacteria, and other pests.

A team of professionals educated in safe removal principles and outfitted in the appropriate gear will help ensure this step is done comprehensively and safely.

Removal of Items

When you think of cleaning up after hoarding, this is probably the step you think of. This involves clearing the space of hoarded materials, including items like newspapers and even trash that has collected over time.

Other items like carpets, furniture, and kitchenware, may also have been contaminated and need to be removed.

Complete Cleaning

Once the space is cleared of all debris and clutter, a professional team will deep-clean the area. This is the last step in the process and helps ensure the property is ready to be used again.

In need of a team to help restore a space where hoarding has been an issue? Contact our team at SERVPRO® of Hamilton & South Trenton, and we’ll make it "Like it never even happened."