Recent Posts

Are You Properly Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Workplace?

7/27/2020 (Permalink)

Cleaning Office Properly Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Workplace

In the current climate of the COVID 19 pandemic there is a much greater emphasis on having safe clean workplaces, shopping venues and eateries. The majority of people are following proper social distancing, wearing masks and using hand sanitizer. Most people have read, or heard the guidelines drafted by the CDC and EPA regarding processes for effectively minimizing the spread of the COVID 19 virus, but are they being followed?

In the CDC article entitled, Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools and Homes, the guidelines for effective cleaning to kill the Coronavirus includes routine cleaning with soap and water to remove the virus and disinfecting with an EPA approved disinfectant. In many cases, only one part is being implemented, the applying of disinfectant with no regard to cleaning with soap and water. Most people have witnessed the few quick pumps of a chemical on the handle of a shopping cart, or restaurant table, followed by an immediate wipe away of that chemical by a well-intentioned employee. There are several reasons this should be a cause for concern:

  • It provides a false sense of security.
  • Virus could still be present due to lack of cleaning with soap and water
  • Virus could still be present due to lack of dwell time of chemical

The simple steps of cleaning with soap and water first removes most if not all of the bacteria, viruses and debris, making it a necessary step. The applying of disinfectants works best when allowed the proper dwell time to effectively kill what they were designed to eradicate. When it is immediately wiped away it is not effective and may leave active contamination behind. Following the proper steps, including the recommendations by the CDC, EPA and the product labels will keep everyone safe. For a quote on having a proactive or positive test COVID 19 cleaning of your commercial business call SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County at (919) 596-1242.

The Truth Regarding Products Claiming to Kill the Coronavirus

7/20/2020 (Permalink)

As the number of confirmed Coronavirus cases continues to rise and businesses attempt to reopen safely, there has also been a rise in claims regarding products that claim to kill the virus for days, weeks and even longer.  Business owners with tightened budgets due to the mandatory shut downs implemented by state governments want the best value for their money in keeping their employees and patrons safe.  Many have entertained sales pitches claiming new products designed to kill the virus can be immediately used which will have a long term effect on killing the pathogen.  The sales pitches make claims that the products have proven to be effective in other countries and are merely weeks away from approval in the United States.  Should these claims be believed?

 The best answer to this question is given by the regulatory agency that governs products of this nature, the Environmental Protection Agency or (EPA).  In a recent compliance advisory entitled, “What You Need to Know Regarding Products Making Claims to Kill Coronavirus Causing Covid-19,” makes the following statement, It is unlawful for any person to distribute or sell a pesticide in the United States making claims to that it will kill a particular pathogen, unless that pesticide is registered with EPA and that particular claim has been deemed acceptable by the agency. EPA is receiving a steady stream of tips/complaints concerning potentially false or misleading claims, including efficacy claims, associated with pesticides and devices. These tips/complaints are being actively reviewed and efforts are being made to identify potentially violative products. EPA intends to pursue enforcement against products making false and misleading claims regarding coronavirus.

If the product has not been approved by the EPA, stay away!  Sadly, there are unscrupulous individuals looking to make a fast dollar at the expense of vulnerable people looking to do the right thing. 

Top 3 Reasons for Commercial Air Duct Cleaning

7/20/2020 (Permalink)

Commercial air ducts are the distribution system of conditioned air from the HVAC system and like the mechanical components of the heating and air conditioning unit they also require routine maintenance.  However, due to the lack of electrical or mechanical parts, the ducts system is often overlooked.  A clean duct system is essential for healthy indoor air quality which has a corollary relationship to employee health and safety.  The top reasons for a commercial air duct cleaning are:

  1. Allergens and dust removal: Allergens and dust accumulate over time inside the ductwork and become dislodged when air moves through system. 
  2. Mold removal: Mold can grow on the organic material that accumulates inside the duct system if the relative humidity is high enough to provide mold spores with a moisture source.  Mold like allergens and dust can cause employees respiratory issues which can result in lower productivity and increased sick days taken.
  3. Odors: Often malodors are pushed through the duct system and create an environment that is less than pleasant.
  4. Insects and pests: It is not uncommon for insects and pests such as mice, rats, and possums to access a duct system and build nests inside the ductwork.  A cleaning of the duct system is critical to removing the harmful feces, urine, bacteria and viruses they may have deposited. 

Although the ductwork may be out of sight, they should be on your mind.  A semi-annual or yearly cleaning is generally sufficient to create an environment that has healthy indoor air quality.  To schedule your commercial duct cleaning, call SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County at 919-596-1242.

Commercial Loss Scalability

7/6/2020 (Permalink)

When a very large multi-floor commercial building containing tens of thousands of square footage of office and warehouse space suffers a large scale water or fire loss, the size of the restoration response is critical in mitigating the both the physical and economic losses.  This is where your local SERVPRO franchise, provides the necessary solution.  Although SERVPRO franchises are independently owned and operated, the collaborative working relationship of local franchises, and the Large Loss Response Team, allows scalability to meet even the most severe situations. 

            Scalability is all about resources of manpower and equipment to save time and money.  When any business experiences a large loss due to water or fire damage the financial impact is great.  When the local SERVPRO franchise responds with the appropriate manpower and equipment to mitigate the damage, it lessens the economic impact.  Within hours, the response scales up in manpower and equipment to reduce further damage.  Large commercial losses require special training and the responding SERVPRO team has this training through its Commercial Large Loss Program.   

            The Commercial Large Loss provides these benefits in your time of need:

  • Elite trained professionals that specialize in large commercial losses
  • Substantial resources through a network of over 1700 franchises
  • Experience of handling large six and seven figure projects
  • Clients including Insurance Companies, Manufacturing Facilities, Restaurants, Healthcare Facilities, Churches, Libraries, Municipalities, Universities, Local, State and Federal Governments
  • Business interruption minimized due to timely response
  • Unit pricing on routine losses under $100,000. Time and Materials Pricing recommended on losses over $100,000
  • 24/7 /365 availability

If your business has experienced a water or fire loss in Durham, NC or in Orange County North Carolina call SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County at 919-596-1242. 

Expecting the Unexpected for Your Commercial Property

6/26/2020 (Permalink)

Imagine it's 4:00 pm on a Friday afternoon and your work week is about to come to an end, when an employee runs up in a panic telling you that water is spewing from the water fountain and flooding the hallway. Murphy's Law of what could go wrong has occurred. Do you know what to do or will a bad situation get worse? Have you planned for the unexpected? Do you know where the water shut-off valve is or will you hope and pray you can get maintenance on the phone?

If the answer to these questions are unsettling because there is no plan, or the plan is in a binder somewhere, not easily accessible, SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County has a solution to calm your anxiety - The SERVPRO Ready Plan App.

The SERVPRO Ready App Benefits:

  • No Cost Facility Evaluation
  • Minimizes damage and lost revenue due to business interruption
  • Identifies key shut off valves for water, gas and electrical
  • Provides key contact information
  • Identifies key lines of command for emergency services to begin
  • Establishes SERVPRO as your disaster mitigation and restoration provider
  • Puts information at your fingertips on cellular platforms for Apple and Android
  • No Cost for Service

With the SERVPRO Ready App installed on your smartphone you will be empowered by having the critical information you need, readily available, to act quickly to avert disaster by minimizing the impact of an unfortunate situation. You will not be at the mercy of hoping you can reach the maintenance engineer because the app will tell you where the shut off is, so you can stop the water flow. What makes it even more powerful is that your employee, equipped with the app, upon seeing the damage will stop the water flow prior to alerting you of the situation.

Every second and minute matters in a disaster situation and time saved, is money saved. Don't let another day go by without scheduling a free facility assessment. Call (919)596-1242 and be prepared for the unexpected. 

Understanding Fire Extinguishers

6/19/2020 (Permalink)

Fire Extinguisher Fire Extinguisher

Fires most often erupt without warning, and double in size within seconds - knowing what to do and how to do it is critical when faced with this emergency situation. Understanding types of fires, fire extinguisher coding and proper usage is a cornerstone in life safety and property damage minimization. The type of combustible material determines the fire classification and fire extinguisher codes correspond to fire classifications.

Fire Classes and Corresponding Fire Extinguisher Codes

  • Class (A) Fire is a fire with a combustible material of wood, paper, plastic or clothing. It is generally the easiest fire to put out.  A Class (A) fire can be extinguished with water or foam.  A Class (A) fire extinguisher will put out these fires
  • Class (B) Fire has a combustible material of oil, grease, gas or alcohol. A Class (B) Fire cannot be extinguished with water.  The use of water will cause the fire to spread by causing the combustible material to splatter or lift above the water.  Many injuries have occurred to people improperly extinguishing a grease fire.  A Class (B) Fire extinguisher uses dry foam or carbon dioxide to suppress the fire.
  • Class (C) Fire is an electrical fire. Electrical fires can be caused by a malfunctioning appliance, faulty wiring, or an overloaded outlet.  This type of fire cannot be extinguished with water.  Water will intensify the fire because it conducts electricity.  A Class (C) fire is suppressed with carbon dioxide or dry powder.
  • Class D Fire has combustible metals as its material source. A Class (D) fire is extinguished with dry powder.  The dry powder removes the fuel from the oxygen and extinguishes the fire.  A Class (D) fire is not common in homes.

The best type of fire extinguisher to purchase for home use is an A, B, C extinguisher.  This multipurpose extinguisher can put out most common fires.  Once purchased, place your extinguishers in highly visible areas.  Check the gauge of the extinguisher monthly to make sure they are properly pressurized.  Replace them if not.

How to use a fire extinguisher – Use the acronym PASS:

  • Pull the pin.
  • Aim nozzle at the base of the flames
  • Squeeze the nozzle
  • Sweep back and forth until flames are extinguished

      (If flames reignite, repeat the process.)

Time Sensitive Nature of Fire and Smoke Restoration

6/12/2020 (Permalink)

After everyone is safe and the fire department has extinguished the flames, the aftermath of a fire and smoke damaged home or business can be traumatic and overwhelming; especially, if the next steps of mitigation and restoration are unknown.  Every year, thousands of home and business owners experience a fire loss and the SERVPRO franchises are there to assist them in the process of making it "Like it never even happened.”  The #1 thing to remember after experiencing a fire is that time is of the essence when it comes to mitigating your loss. 

Key actions to take:

  • Call your insurance carrier and file a claim
  • Get approval for a restoration company to perform emergency services

Your insurance carrier will be able to answer questions you may have, start the claims process, and give authorization for emergency restoration services to be performed to prevent further damage to the property and its contents.  The insurance carrier will also assign an insurance adjuster to work with you and your restoration company in determining what is salvageable and what needs to be replaced.  

Once the property has been released by the fire marshal emergency services can proceed.

Emergency services include:

  • Board up of fire damaged and compromised windows and doors
  • Installing roof tarps to prevent water intrusion due to fire damaged roofing
  • Providing temporary power if necessary
  • Winterization of utilities
  • Drying and dehumidification of home or business if water was used to extinguish the fire to prevent further damage to the structure and contents
  • Initial cleaning to salvage items that could be permanently damaged due to soot exposure
  • Pack out of contents for cleaning

Quickly getting emergency services started increases the odds of salvaging high value and sentimental soot damaged items like electronics, marble counter tops, furniture, precious metals, artwork, and photos.  It also reduces the size of your insurance claim which can be a benefit at the time of renewal.

If you experience a fire loss your knowledgeable SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County team will work with you to get you back into your home or business as quickly as possible. Call us 24/7 at (919)596-1242.

Clothes Dryer Fires – Costly and Dire

6/5/2020 (Permalink)

Annually, clothes dryer fires cause 233 million dollars in property damage, accounting for seven deaths and 344 civilian injuries. According to the National Fire Prevention Association, fire fighters respond to over 13,000 home fires caused by clothes dryers each year. The primary factor for dryer fires is failure to clean – the root cause of 27% of these fires can be attributed to electrical component malfunction with lint acting as a tinder to accelerate the fire. Preventive measures are essential in protecting both yourself and your home. Here are a few key tips you can easily put into practice to lessen the risk of a home dryer fire:

  • Clean the lint trap before and after each use
  • Never operate the dryer without the lint trap
  • Do not overload the dryer
  • Have gas dryers serviced annually
  • Check the duct work that exhausts outside the home for proper connection
  • Check the exhaust flap to ensure it is properly working
  • Dry on the lowest setting after washing chemically stained clothing
  • Do not operate the dryer while away from the home
  • Pull the dryer out, clean under and behind it to remove potential fire hazards
  • Have SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County clean your dryer ducts semi-annually or annually (depending on dryer use)
  • Replace flexible duct with a ridged duct, as flexible ductwork can accumulate large amounts of lint and sag causing a fire hazard

Understanding Volts, Amperage and Watts to Prevent Electrical Fires

5/29/2020 (Permalink)

Each year SERVPRO franchises are called in to clean up the aftermath of commercial and residential fires and like the corporate model, we do all we can to, make it "Like it never even happened." Fire damage can have far more ominous and long lasting effect than the water damage restoration services we provide. In addition to structural damage to the property, environmental toxins releases in the air by burning objects, fires sometimes do take lives. 

  • Electrical Fires in the United States cause $1.3 billion dollars in property damage, 51,000 fires and 500 deaths annually.
  • The US Consumer Product Safety Commission claims faulty electrical receptacles as the cause of 5,300 fires annually.
  • Electrical Arching, discharge or jump of current on an unintended path to a grounded object, as the cause of 28,000 fires and $700 million dollars in damage annually.

Fire Prevention, beginning with educational awareness and exposure is critical in saving lives and reducing the annual cost of property losses.  Understanding the practical relationship of volts, amperage and watts to daily living is essential in preventing and reducing electrical fires.

Appliances and electrical devices are a part of everyday life that functions by plugging the cords into the outlets or receptacles and turning the devices on.  How this works is often taken for granted.  Being properly educated on the basics of electrical terminology and their practical functionality can save your life and property.

Homes have numerous wires running behind walls from a distribution panel and terminating at a receptacle, switch, or light fixture.  Inside the electrical distribution box are circuit breakers or fuses.  The circuit breakers or fuses are designed to detect current that exceeds the load capacity of the wire or circuit and to click off or blow to prevent a potential fire.  Voltage, Amperage and Watts are the forms of measurement that appliances and electrical devices use; understanding the electrical current draw of each appliance and the load tolerance of each circuit in your home will prevent an overloaded circuit and minimize the risk of a fire.

  • Voltage or Volts is an electrical measurement of line pressure. The power or current from the power plant feeds into the home at either 120V or 240V.  Most receptacles and household appliances and electronic devices run on 120V.  The 240V are reserved for the water heater, dryer and stove.
  • Amperage or Amps is a measurement of current flow or pull of current by an appliance or electrical device. Most household wiring or circuits are set to not exceed 15 amps, with the exception of 20 amp circuits in the kitchen for the microwave, 50 amp circuits for the stove and 30 amp circuits for the clothes dryer.  All appliances or electrical devices will have a small silver plate on them that tells the amperage or watts pulled by them. 
  • Watts is a load rating of current pull of electrical devices. Watts can be calculated by multiplying volts by amps.  A 15 amp circuit is equivalent to 1800 watts and a 20 amp fuse is equivalent to 2400 watts running on 120V.

It is important to read the label on the back or underside of appliances to understand the current drawn.  Too much current drawn through a line causes the wire to overheat and breaks down the insulation on the wire.  This can cause faulty wiring that results in a fire.  Overloading a circuit with too much current will either trip the breaker or blow the fuse to stop the current flow to minimize damage and prevent a fire.  A great resource directory for household appliance wattage can be found at https://generatorist.com/power-consumption-of-household-appliances.

Load capacity on wiring is set to match its tolerance limits.  Household wiring that is set for 15 amps is not designed to conduct loads higher than 15 amps.  As a general practice it is best not to push the tolerance limits on a circuit.  Never under any circumstance replace a circuit breaker or fuse with a one of higher capacity without rewiring the entire circuit for the equivalent tolerance and rating.  Failing to do so will result in catastrophic line failure and fire.

  • Also never use an extension cord rated less than the amperage or wattage pulled by the electrical device it will be plugged into.
  • Replace any frayed cords on appliances or electrical devices.
  • If you see sparks cut the power.
  • Have an ABC rated fire extinguisher to put out a fire including a Class “C “electrical fire.
  • Install and regularly check your smoke detectors.
  • Never plug in an appliance or electrical device without knowing your line load.
  • If you have experienced a fire and need remediation, call SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County at 919-596-1242

Oh No! Water Damage and My Hardwood Floor

5/22/2020 (Permalink)

One of the most common calls our franchise receives is from customers in distress over a water loss event impacting their hardwood flooring.  The #1 question they have is, “Can my floors be saved?”  It is a well-known fact that water causes significant damage to hardwood flooring.  Wood is hydroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture from the air, and is subject to catastrophic damage if not dried quickly.  Our customers have every right to be concerned, but the answer to the question as to whether the floors are salvageable is not a yes or no response, but depends on numerous variables that must be accessed by our ICRC certified technicians.  These include:

  • Category of water loss
  • Class of water loss
  • Amount of time flooring has been wet
  • Type of hardwoods

Category of water loss simply defined relates to amount of contaminates in the water.  A Category 1 water loss is indicative of clean water from a burst pipe.  A Category 2 water loss contains significant levels of contaminates, such as an overflowed washing machine or dishwasher.  A Category 3 water loss contains gross levels of contaminations including harmful pathogens and toxins and could be the result of sewage or a toilet back flow.  A Category 1 water loss is the most likely category for hardwoods to be saved because the water is clean.  A Category 3 water loss is not salvageable.  However the amount of water impacting the floors, which is indicative of the Class of water loss, has a significant bearing on how much absorption of water the floors will take in and has a direct correlation to flooring damage.

 There are 4 Classes of water loss. The greater the amount of water directly impacting the hardwoods the more likely it is for water to penetrate the joints and impact the sub floor.  Once water is trapped in the flooring joints it would requires specialty drying equipment, making it a Class 4 water loss.  SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County has specialty drying systems to remove moisture trapped in the joints of hardwood flooring.

Time or Duration of Moisture is a huge factor in determining whether hardwood flooring can be saved.  It is imperative to respond immediately.  The longer the flooring stays in contact with the water the more damage it creates limiting the chances of saving the floors.  Hardwood flooring that is mitigated within the first 24 hours has the greatest chance of being salvaged.

The Type of Hardwood Flooring is a critical factor as to whether the flooring can be saved.   Real Hardwood flooring is made out of a single layer of wood, and is salvageable if mitigated in time and is not a Category 3.  Although water in the subterranean layer will cause the ends to bow upwards a condition called cupping, the floors can be sanded down and refinished.    Engineered hardwood flooring is made of multiple layers of wood going in different directions.  The veneer finish cannot be sanded and refinished.  Often when engineered floors are impacted with moisture the expansion of the wood will result in a cracked finish or the popping up of the wood because it expands in all directions.  With these conditions present, the engineered hardwood flooring cannot be saved. 

Regardless of whether the floors can be saved or have to removed, SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County can help clients through the mitigation and the restoration process, making it "Like it never even happened."