Recent Posts

SERVPRO Cares About Your Safety - Carbon Monoxide

6/3/2022 (Permalink)

Carbon Monoxide Carbon monoxide detector.

Your safety is always top of mind with SERVPRO of Hamilton, South Trenton. 

Every year, hundreds of people in the US die from accidental CO poisoning, and 50,000 visit the emergency room.

Carbon Monoxide is an odorless and invisible fume generated by furnaces, kerosene heaters, portable generators, and similar fuel-burning appliances.  Carbon Monoxide can build up in enclosed spaces and you can be poisoned and die from breathing these fumes.

Common symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning include headaches, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.  Most people are poisoned while they sleep.

Here are some steps you can take to reduce the risk and prevent CO poisoning:

  • Make sure you install a CO detector in different parts of the home and frequently check that the batteries are working.
  • Never operate your car in a closed garage.
  • Keep vents and flues clean of debris and blockages.
  • Make sure your home heating system is inspected annually.
  • Never operate a generator or other gasoline-powered equipment within 20 feet of an open window or door and never inside the home.

Remember, CO poisoning is preventable.  If you suspect CO poisoning, do not wait, call 911.

Contact us at 908-650-8611 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Hamilton, South Trenton's System Services.

Cleaning you Kitchen Exhaust System

6/3/2022 (Permalink)

The ventilation system above or next to your stove top serves several important functions in the kitchen. It helps remove moisture, smoke and odors, helps improve indoor air quality, and most importantly, helps trap flammable, aerated grease that is creating during the cooking process. Some states or cities require a ventilation hood to be present in the kitchen but even if your area doesn’t require one, you’ll want to make sure one is installed in your kitchen. Regularly cleaning and maintaining this ventilation system will help it function better, remove bacteria and mold, and reduce the risk of a kitchen fire.

Why your kitchen needs an exhaust system

In addition to whisking away odors, steam and smoke, a good ventilation or exhaust system will suck in and trap tiny grease and oil particles that would otherwise end up drifting throughout the kitchen and into rest of the home. Additionally, if you cook with natural gas, understand that a certain amount of nitrogen dioxide (along with carbon monoxide and formaldehyde) may be produced when cooking. These chemicals are bad for the lungs and can aggravate people with asthma or respiratory issues. When cooking, always turn on the exhaust system to help improve the indoor air quality.

How to clean the hood, filters and ventilation system

The exhaust system filters act as a trap for grease and oil and should be cleaned or replaced often. How often depends upon the type of filter system as well as how often you cook. If you wok fry food weekly, for example, a monthly cleaning will be necessary. But most find that a regular schedule of cleaning the filters every 3 months is the best way to keep a routine that you can stick to. Recirculating hoods use charcoal disposable filters and should be replaced every 6 to 12 months. Check with your manufacturer for more specific replacement or cleaning instructions.

To clean the wire mesh filters first remove them from the hood or ventilation system. You can either wash them by hand with warm soapy water (some find that baking soda works great too) or you can place them in an empty dishwasher and run a full cycle. You may need to repeat these methods if they are particularly greasy. Once they are clean, inspect them to insure there is no rusted or broken parts. Let them dry completely before placing them back in the ventilation system.

The rest of the ventilation system, like the hood, should also be periodically cleaned. Most hoods are made from stainless steel so use a cleaning product designed for this material or use one of ournon-toxic stainless steel cleaning recipes here.  You’ll want to remove dust, grease and debris and always rub the stainless steel in the direction of the grain.

Commercial kitchens regularly have the entire exhaust system cleaned to remove grease and prevent dangerous fires. Homeowners can have this done as well; find a professional who is a member of the International Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Association.

What happens if you don’t clean the stove ventilation system

The three biggest reasons for keeping the filters and ventilation hood clean are better indoor air quality, reduction of bacteria and mold, and fire risk reduction. As mentioned above, having a functioning and clean ventilation system will help create a healthier indoor air quality. This is especially important in the cooler months of fall and winter when many homeowners are cooking inside more and have the windows closed.

The warm and moist environment directly above a hot stove top is perfect for growing bacteria and mold, especially when there is a steady supply of food particles and oils. Dust can also stick to this grease buildup and create a nasty mess, not to mention a bad smell.

Kitchen fires are a very real hazard that you need to be aware of. When cooking on the stove, high heat mixed with oil can create a flame. If this flame is high enough, or near enough a grease-soaked filter, the flames can catch and spread. A grease or cooking fire can be very scary, spread quickly, and is responsible for 50% of reported residential house fires every year. Always keep a fire extinguisher labeled “for cooking fires” or with a “K” to put out a kitchen grease fire..

The Deception of Water Damage

6/3/2022 (Permalink)

Water Damage. A house destroyed by a hurricane.

Water damage can be deceptive. Water penetrates into structural cavities creating trapped pockets of saturation. The detection of water in these areas can often only be discovered with sophisticated moisture detection meters. Undetected moisture will continue to cause damage. This damage, at a minimum, will cause odors. Greater damage will surface when materials delaminate, shrink, split and further deteriorate to where costly repairs are required.

More than just removing excess water, IICRC-certified (Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification) restorers have the knowledge and equipment to further dry a home or facility (including substructure materials) completely back to preloss conditions. Through timely response and the careful monitoring of water damage, mold and other issues can be prevented. If water damage has been present too long, mold will occur.

All IICRC-certified professionals have the training and experience to identify moisture sources, evaluate mold growth (visible or suspected), contain damage, remove contamination and dry materials to ensure that mold will not return.

Every technician in SERVPRO of Hamilton and South Trenton is Certified through the IICRC, and experienced in their craft.

Why is my window AC unit leaking water inside my house?

6/3/2022 (Permalink)

Window AC units. Building with multiple window AC units.

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.

Outdoor Entertaining

6/3/2022 (Permalink)

Backyard Tiki Torch Open flame tiki torch in a backyard.

Summer outdoor parties are some of the best events of the year and one of the safest ways to enjoy summer in the midst of our ongoing pandemic.

The warm nights, food cooking on the grill, and friends and family spending quality time together in the backyard or around the pool create wonderful memories that last a lifetime. But, hosting outdoor events also means there’s an increased risk of home fires.

Fortunately, following some simple safety tips and guidelines can help ensure you and your guests stay safe. Consider the following as you host your next outdoor event: 

  • Have an adult present at all times when a portable fireplace is burning
  • Use sturdy candle holders that won’t tip over easily
  • Keep anything that can burn, as well as children and pets, at least three feet away from open flames
  • Use battery-operated flameless candles and solar-powered patio (tiki) torches in place of an open flame. Flameless candles come in all colors, shapes, and sizes, and many are scented. Flameless candles look and feel like the real ones, and add a beautiful soft glow to any outdoor event.

Outdoor entertaining by the numbers

  • Outside fireplaces or fire pits caused nearly 3,700 grass and brush fires
  • Outdoor patio heater or fire pit injuries have grown each year
  • More than half of all candle fires start when things that can burn are too close to the candle
  • An average of over 8,800 home fires involved grilling activities each year
  • Annually, sparklers, fountains, and novelties account for up to 25% of emergency room fireworks-related injuries.

Contact us at 908-650-8611 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Hamilton, South Trenton System Services. 

What You Need to Know About Air Duct Cleaning

6/3/2022 (Permalink)

Air duct cleaning is a misnomer. In actuality, the entire HVAC system should be cleaned. Failure to clean all components of the system can result in recontamination of the entire system, thus minimizing the benefits of cleaning.

Just as you wouldn’t clean only half of your living room floor, you also would not want to clean only part of your HVAC system. NADCA recommends cleaning the entire HVAC system, including the following components:

  • air ducts
  • coils
  • drain pan
  • registers
  • grills
  • air plenum
  • blower motor and assembly
  • heat exchanger
  • air filter
  • air cleaner

There are two key components to HVAC cleaning: breaking contaminants loose, and collection of contaminants.

Breaking Contaminants Loose

Properly cleaning HVAC systems requires removing the sources of contamination. Source removal begins with the use of one or more agitation devices designed to loosen contaminants from the surfaces within the heating and air conditioning system. Examples of agitation devices include: brushes, air whips and compressed air nozzles or “skipper balls.” Agitation can also be achieved through hand-brushing or contact vacuuming.

Collection of Contaminants

During cleaning, the entire HVAC system is placed under continuous negative pressure (a vacuum) to prevent the spread of contaminants. Continuous negative pressure allows very fine particles to be removed from the system as they become airborne, ensuring that these particles are not released into the living space when the system is turned on after cleaning. This negative pressure also serves to extract the loosened contaminants, which are collected and removed from your home.

System Access

HVAC system cleaning is not a complex process, but each job is unique. Where possible, access to duct interiors should be made through existing openings such as supply diffusers, return grills, duct end caps and existing service openings. Cleaning technicians may need to cut access holes in the duct work in order to reach inside with various cleaning tools. Creation of these service openings, and their subsequent closure, requires craftsmanship and professional skills.

Equipment Requirements

There is a wide variety of equipment available to HVAC cleaning professionals. Both truck-mounted and portable vacuums can be used to stop the spread of contaminants and get the system cleaned to the NADCA Standard.

Antimicrobial Chemicals

Antimicrobial chemicals include sanitizers, disinfectants and deodorizers that can be applied to nonporous surfaces in HVAC systems to address microbial contamination and help control odors. Only chemicals registered with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can be used. These products should only be considered after mechanical surface cleaning has been performed and if the need for such treatment has been deemed necessary. Review the NADCA White Paper on Chemical Applications in HVAC Systems for more information. 

Contact us at 908-650-8611 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Hamilton, South Trenton's System Services.

Home Mold Testing - DIY Kit - Use With Caution

6/3/2022 (Permalink)

You can expect mold and mildew outside your home because of the damp natural conditions of the outdoors. Mold and mildew inside the house is a different problem because the inside of your home shouldn't remain damp.

The presence of moisture is the most significant contributor to mold growth. To fight the infestation, you should conduct a room-by-room assessment of the house to identify problem areas. The moisture can come from condensation due to poor ventilation (attic), from a water leak (around bathrooms), or outdoor intrusion (foundation walls).

Detection

Mold and mildew in a home are not always easy to detect if it exists within attics or is hidden within walls. If you suspect your indoor air quality is hindered by hidden mold, the best course of action is to contact an Industrial Hygienist (IH). 

The IH will take both surface and air samples to detect the presence of mold on the structure.  These two tests are essential to take in concert with each other as they will help detect the presence of mold in areas that cannot be seen or reached, such as in wall cavities.  They will also help determine the severity and types of mold in a specific area of the home.

If you choose to take your own surface sample as a first step, mold detection kits can be purchased in most home improvement stores and are easy to use.  Swab the surface in the area you're concerned about.  Test results show in as little as 5 minutes, and much like a pregnancy test, you'll either see one line (negative results) or two lines (positive).

Use caution as these tests are not necessarily conclusive, given the absence of air samples and misinterpretation by the user.  Only a trained professional should perform mold testing using the proper methods.

Even if your home test is positive, it does not necessarily mean you have a serious problem but that you should consider consulting a professional indoor air quality inspector or contact SERVPRO of Hamilton, South Trenton. You can also have an optional laboratory analysis of your test results conducted for an additional fee.  

Click here to go to our website and learn a bit more about Mold Remediation. 

Fighting the Mold you Find

If you discover mold on the home's interior, the first step in solving the problem is to eliminate the source of moisture—whatever that may be. Otherwise, any mold or mildew you clean is likely to return.

For minor problems, you may be able to clean the surface of the materials with an antimicrobial cleaner. For major problems, remove materials that cannot be thoroughly cleaned of mold-like insulation, carpeting, or drywall. Use your antimicrobial cleaner to clean the surrounding area as well as the places where you actually see mold and mildew, so make sure you remove all traces of the substances.

Finally, replace the removed building materials with new, mold-free materials.

Mold can be a serious issue with challenging aspects in remediating it properly.  We highly recommend calling in a professional, like SERVPRO, to help you evaluate the proper steps before proceeding on your own.

Contact us at 908-650-8611 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Hamilton, South Trenton's System Services. 

PREPAREDNESS FOR PETS

6/3/2022 (Permalink)

Rottweiler Puppy Dogs Two rottweiler puppies

Have you accounted for Fido or Lucy when emergency planning?

After The Storm

After Hurricane Katrina, "It’s estimated that over 15,500 animals were ultimately rescued. Of the 15,500 animals rescued, only 15%-20% were ever reunited with their owners.”

Source: Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, la-spca.org

Pets are just as important as any family member to most people, so why would you not make them a part of your preparedness planning? There are several things you can do to make sure they stay safe as well during an emergency.

Pet Emergency Kit

Ready.gov/pets lists the below items as essential to building your Pet Emergency Kit.

  • Food. At least a three-day supply in an airtight, waterproof container.
  • Water. At least three days of water specifically for your pets.
  • Medicines and medical records.
  • Important documents. Registration information, adoption papers, and vaccination documents. Talk to your veterinarian about microchipping and enrolling your pet in a recovery database.
  • First aid kit. Cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape, and scissors; antibiotic ointment; flea and tick prevention; latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol, and saline solution. Including a pet first aid reference book is a good idea too.
  • Collar or harness with ID tag, rabies tag and a leash.
  • Crate or pet carrier. Have a sturdy, safe crate or carrier in case you need to evacuate. The carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around and lie down.
  • Sanitation. Pet litter and litter box if appropriate, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags and household chlorine bleach.
  • A picture of you and your pet together. If you become separated, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you. Add species, breed, age, sex, color, and distinguishing characteristics.
  • Familiar items. Familiar items, such as treats, toys, and bedding can help reduce stress for your pet.

Evacuations

While practicing fire escape or evacuation plans, be sure to include pets. If an evacuation happens, don’t leave pets behind as they can be lost or injured.

Identification

Micro-chipping pets is a great way to locate them. Most veterinary clinics and shelters have scanners that will read the microchip information to help find a pet’s owners.

Be sure to take four-legged friends into consideration when planning for emergencies. Visit ready.gov/pets for further tips and safety precautions to think about for you or your insured’s families’ pets, or your tenant's pets’ during a disaster.

Contact us at 908-650-8611 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Hamilton, South Trenton's System Services.

Why People Choose Us for Cleaning | SERVPRO® of Hamilton, South Trenton

4/18/2022 (Permalink)

Certified SERVPRO Cleaned Sticker Contact us at 908.650.8611 for all of your spring cleaning needs.

April showers bring May flowers, and a chance to tackle some spring cleaning! Spring is a great time to sweep those winter blues away and freshen up your environment. Luckily, SERVPRO is a pro in home cleaning.

We know how it is. Sometimes things just happen: spills on the carpet, pet accidents, and the general wear and tear of everyday life. These things take their toll on your carpets, upholstery, and other items. Sometimes you just need a deeper clean for your home than you can do yourself.

You need a professional cleaning company that can provide heavy duty cleaning services. That's when you can call the certified professionals at SERVPRO.

We can clean carpets, upholstery, drapes, blinds, window treatments, ceilings, floors, and walls. SERVPRO offers specialty cleaning services too, including HVAC/air duct cleaning, biohazard/crime scene cleanup, document restoration and odor removal.

So many of our restoration services, such as mold remediation and fire damage, involve the quality of the air in your home. When you call SERVPRO for your home's HVAC and air duct maintenance, we bring that experience and professional training, just as we do to any other restoration or cleaning project.

When you find your home has been invaded by a serious, persistent odor like smoke, pet, or sewage stench, it can be a challenging situation. Our team is trained to identify and eliminate offensive odors, whether they come from an inside or outside source. We won't simply mask odors but will use professional odor removal techniques to tackle the cause of the problem.

If you need a little spring-cleaning help, don't worry! SERVPRO's residential cleaning services will not only ease the burden of the constant maintenance of your home, but will also create a safe, clean, and comfortable living environment for your family.

Contact us at 908.650.8611 for all of your spring cleaning needs.

It’s Time to Prepare for Spring Storms | SERVPRO® of Hamilton, South Trenton

4/18/2022 (Permalink)

Thunderstorm in the night sky If your home/business is damaged in a storm, you can depend on SERVPRO of Hamilton, South Trenton to get the cleanup and restoration process started.

Spring is here! That means that, even though we are enjoying warmer weather, we also must now prepare for whatever Mother Nature may choose to send our way.

Spring = Thunderstorms

With the arrival of spring comes longer days and more sunshine, but it also brings the threat of severe weather throughout the country. It’s a toss-up this time of year, meaning the weather may change at moment’s notice.

Unstable temperatures are the cause of the changing weather, with temps that can go from warm to cold even in the same day. That temperature change can result in extreme weather changes as well.

Thunderstorms become more common during the spring and are the main cause of severe weather. A thunderstorm will occur whenever warm, moist air collides with cool, dry air, a common occurrence in the spring and summer.

In taking a look at natural catastrophe losses in the U.S. for 2017, severe thunderstorms were the most common and produced some of the costliest results. Out of 50 events, there were 85 fatalities and an estimated total of $25.4 billion in overall losses.

With these storms comes the threat of flooding, high winds and even tornadoes if the conditions are right. It has been found that in modern history, 10% of all violent tornadoes have occurred in March, with April, May and June taking the top spots at 30%, 24% and 15% respectively.

Make Sure Your Family Is Prepared

Weather forecasters are not able to predict the weather with 100% accuracy, but fortunately, they do have the technology available to at least give us an idea of severe weather that could be coming. Advanced warnings, along with the right preparation, can greatly improve overall safety for your family.

Here are some things you can do to your home to prepare for the chance of severe weather:

  1. Clear out your home’s gutters, drains and downspouts.
  2. Trim trees of precarious limbs or branches that could break off in a storm.
  3. Secure or store outdoor belongings if severe weather is in the forecast.

Having an emergency kit on hand is always advised. These kits should include the following:

  • Battery-operated flashlight and NOAA weather radio, with extra batteries for both
  • Emergency evacuation or shelter plans
  • Important personal info, like telephone numbers of neighbors, family and friends, insurance and property info, numbers for the utility companies, and medical info
  • A first-aid kit with things like non-latex gloves, adhesive bandages, tweezers, sterile gauze pads, aspirin packets, adhesive cloth tape and scissors
  • 3–5 day supply of bottled water and nonperishable food
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Blankets or sleeping bag

Despite its unpredictability, there is one thing that always remains true of the spring weather season: It always happens. If your home or business is damaged in a storm, you can depend on SERVPRO of Hamilton, South Trenton to get the cleanup and restoration process started fast.