Recent Posts

Bonfire Safety..

4/19/2018 (Permalink)

Fire safety is of prime importance if you are considering building a bonfire for your family and friends to gather around on a chilly night. It is imperative that you follow the necessary fire safety tips to prevent fire damage.

Some of those tips include:

Whether you prefer a built-in or portable fire pit, choose one that is not too large for the area. The pit should be a minimum of 10 feet away from any structures or combustible materials as well as away from trees, fences, sheds, power lines, and telephone wires.

Make sure that the seating area is large enough and properly placed for comfort and ventilation.

Avoid starting a bonfire if it is windy because a strong breeze could blow sparks onto nearby people or surfaces.

Burn only dry material. Damp material will create excess smoke.

Don’t use lighter fluid or gasoline to get the fire going as it could get out of control. Don't burn tires, aerosols, fireworks, or anything containing paint or foam to avoid toxic fumes which could explode and cause injury.

Use a lighter and crumpled pieces of paper covered with small sticks to start the fire, then add larger sticks and a log or two to keep it burning.

Wear non-flammable clothing and hard-soled shoes when starting, sitting near, or extinguishing the fire.

Never leave the fire unattended, and keep pets and children far away from the fire as they will be attracted to it.

Keep the proper fire extinguishing equipment, or at least a water hose, handy in case there is an emergency. You could also fill a bucket with sand, which can be used instead of water to help extinguish a fire.

As the fire dies down, use a shovel and spread out the ashes to allow them to cool down. Then slowly pour water over those ashes and watch them closely to be sure that no burning embers remain or reignite. Put the cooled ashes in an specially designated ash storage metal can.

We at SERVPRO of Columbia, Montour & Sullivan Counties are dedicated to having the fastest 24-Hour Emergency Service response to any fire damage that unexpectedly happens in our area. Immediate action is crucial to limiting the damage, and we have the trained and experienced team and specialized equipment that are necessary for the prompt activities and later for restoring a home or business.

Flash Floods

4/16/2018 (Permalink)

What Causes Flash Floods?

Not all floods are the same. Some develop over time, however flash floods happen quickly, and amazingly can occur without visible signs of rain. Causes of flash floods include:

  • Excessive rain – within minutes of precipitation or up to 6 hours after.
  • Slow-moving rain of a long duration, such as occurs with thunderstorms, tropical storms, and hurricanes.
  • A dam/levee failure.
  • A sudden release of water held by an ice jam.
  • Rainfalls or snowmelts that exceed the capacity of underground drainage pipes and sewage systems.
  • Floods after wildfires which reduce the capacity of the ground to absorb water.
  • Urbanization, such as paving, which reduces rainfall absorption and increases runoff.

What areas are at risk of flood damage?

  • Low-lying areas.
  • Areas near water.
  • Areas behind a levee or downstream from a dam.
  • Areas near canyons.
  • Even dry stream beds, culverts, gullies, creeks, small streams, and low-lying grounds that appear harmless in dry weather can be at risk of floods.

Watch or warning – what’s the big difference?

  • Watch
    Think of a watch as someone yelling at you – “watch out!” Conditions are ripe for a flood, but one hasn’t been spotted… yet.
  • Warning
    All hands on deck! A flood warning from your local weather source means a flood is occurring or is imminent within 30 minutes to an hour.

If a Flood is Likely in Your Area…

All joking aside, a flash flood is serious business. Flash floods are typically accompanied by a dangerous wall of roaring water, which often carries rocks, mud and other debris. If you find yourself facing a flash flood…

  • Evacuate.
    Evacuate immediately to higher ground. Save yourself, not your belongings. You may have very little time to respond.
  • Secure your home.
    If you have time, turn off utilities at main switches/valves and disconnect appliances. Do not touch electrical lines or equipment if you are wet or are standing in water. Move essential items to an upper floor and bringing in outdoor furniture to prevent flood damage.
  • Do not walk through moving water.
    Only six inches can make you fall. If walking through non-moving water, use a stick to gauge depth/firmness before each step.
  • Do not drive through flooded areas. 
    Two feet of water can carry away most vehicles. If swept away in your vehicle, remain inside. If water rises inside the vehicle, seek refuge on the roof.
  • Choose campsites and parking wisely.
    Avoid areas along creeks, streams, or rivers, particularly during threatening conditions.

Flood Damaged?? Contact SERVPRO of Columbia, Montour & Sullivan Counties at 570-759-0966.

Will You Be Ready

4/9/2018 (Permalink)

2018 Atlantic hurricane season will be slightly above-average, researchers say

The Atlantic hurricane season will be slightly above-average this year, Colorado State University (CSU) hurricane researchers predicted Thursday. The researchers cited a "relatively low likelihood of significant El Niño" conditions as a main factor.

In total, the team believes there will be 14 named storms. Hurricane researchers predict seven of the storms will become hurricanes and three will reach "major hurricane strength with sustained winds of 111 miles per hour or greater."

They explained why El Niño patterns are likely to make a difference.

"El Niño tends to increase upper-level westerly winds across the Caribbean into the tropical Atlantic, tearing apart hurricanes as they try to form," the researchers said.

CSU hurricane researchers believe this season's activity will be about 135 percent of the average season. For reference, last year's hurricane activity -- which included one major storm after another -- was nearly two and a half times greater than average.

The team forms their forecasts by using 60 years of data, referencing sea surface temperatures, vertical wind shear levels, sea level pressures, El Niño conditions and other factors. They plan to provide updates on May 31, July 2 and Aug. 2.

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

While the CSU team said their predictions provide "a best estimate" of what to expect, they're not foolproof, and coastal residents should be sure and take precautions to protect themselves.

"It takes only one storm near you to make this an active season," said Michael Bell, an associate professor in the Department of Atmospheric Science, who worked on the report.

2018 Atlantic tropical storm names

Starting in 1953, the National Hurricane Center originally named all tropical storms. While you can still find a list storm names on their website, the names are now maintained and updated by the World Meteorological Organization.

Each list of names is used in a six-year rotation. That means this year's list will be used again in 2024. However, if a storm is considered too deadly or damage caused by a storm deemed too costly, the name is no longer be used for reasons of sensitivity. In those cases, a name is replaced during an annual World Meteorological Organization meeting.

Here are all the names selected for Atlantic tropical storms for 2018:

  • Alberto
  • Beryl
  • Chris
  • Debby
  • Ernesto
  • Florence
  • Gordon
  • Helene
  • Isaac
  • Joyce
  • Kirk
  • Leslie
  • Michael
  • Nadine
  • Oscar
  • Patty
  • Rafael
  • Sara
  • Tony
  • Valerie
  • William

Commercial Water

4/9/2018 (Permalink)

Water damage can strike your business at any time. At SERVPRO, we understand the urgency and the delicacy of the situation. Mold growth can lead to serious health issues, as well as damaged property, lawsuits, and even potential structural issues. For a business, municipal building, or similar structure, floodwaters also mean one powerful truth: your building is closed for business until the damage is remediated. Every hour spent cleaning up is an hour of lost revenue and productivity. So when an emergency situation arises in your business, give SERVPRO a call and we’ll be there fast with the help you need.

Water Damage Causes

Water damage can be caused by a toilet clogging or overflowing, general plumbing problems, a leaking roof or old pipes. Our experts will assess the issue by tracking down any pockets of excess moisture and remove them accordingly. The high-tech equipment used to locate these pockets include moisture meters and Thermal imaging to measure the moisture in hidden pockets and behind tile and other materials that may not feel wet on the outside. SERVPRO finds these moisture pockets and professionally dries the equipment and area to ensure proper recovery and remove any moisture from drywall or other materials. Through our process we can speed up drying to prevent the growth of any mold or other harmful bacteria by building drying chambers.

Is it essential that water damage restoration is given proper attention in a timely matter? If left unrepaired, it will worsen which will lead to more and more problems.

Water Damage Restoration Process

We will provide care and consideration to your concerns and business needs. The steps we take are as follows:
• Secure the site and assess the water damage
• Begin water extraction procedures immediately
• Remove carpet pads if necessary
• Take steps to prevent the growth of mold and mildew
• Use our state of the art equipment, including industrial-strength blowers and dehumidifiers to completely dry carpet, floors, walls, and ceilings

If a disaster should strike, whether a hurricane, fire or a simple sprinkler head break, SERVPRO of Columbia, Montour & Sullivan Counties is here to help. We’ll guide you each step of the way! We’re at your side through each step of the restoration process. It pays to be prepared!

While You Are Away..

4/9/2018 (Permalink)

Save Energy While You’re Away

  • Unplug appliances that consume electricity even when they’re not in use such as DVD players, microwaves, coffeemakers and computers (also make sure to disconnect the computer from the Internet). This is both a cost savings and a safety issue. It’s not unheard of to have a cat tiptoe across a counter and unwittingly turn on the coffeemaker.
  • Turn the water heater down to the “vacation,” “low” or “pilot” setting.
  • During the winter, set your thermostat to 60 degrees F and have a neighbor check on the house regularly for furnace malfunctions.
  • In the summer, set your air conditioner to 85 degrees F so it runs less often but keeps electronics cool and gives the house an occupied appearance. Having no air conditioner humming and no windows open on a sweltering day is a sure signal to a thief that no one is home.
  • If you’ll be gone for an extended period, clean out the fridge (and freezer) completely, shut it off and leave the door propped open.

What to do after water damage is discovered..

4/9/2018 (Permalink)

Discovering your home has suffered from water damage from flooding, a busted pipe, roof leak or a sump pump backup is not fun, extremely inconvenient and the water damage will quickly become your worst enemy. It’s important that you act swiftly and promptly after making a water loss discovery to help minimize the damage.

A fast response time is essential. This will help to reduce wicking into porous materials and secondary damage to other contents surrounding the affected damaged area. Additionally, a fast response will help to minimize the potential for mold and mildew growth and can cut costs in the long run.

Aside from notifying your insurance agent of the damage, contact SERVPRO of Columbia, Montour & Sullivan Counties. After you’ve contacted SERVPRO, there are a few things you can do before the restoration professionals arrive to help get the restoration process moving faster. Here are some tips and things to do to help prepare:

  • Watch for slips and falls.
  • Make temporary repairs to protect your home or business from further or other damage.
  • Make sure source of loss is fixed (sump pump, broken water line, hot water heater, etc.)
  • If water came from overhead, make sure to stay away from those areas, as the ceiling could collapse.
  • Remove any artwork from the affected area.
  • Make sure wooden furniture is removed from the affected area or wooden blocks, plastic bags, or aluminum foil is placed under the legs.
  • Make sure that colored rugs are removed from the affected area, so that extra staining does not occur to the carpet
  • Remove fragile pieces from the affected area.
  • If it is the summer, keep the AC unit running as this helps eliminate some of the humidity.
  • Finally, things that are wet can be very heavy so be careful!

Remember that with any water loss situation, your fast reaction time to stopping the source of water loss from continuing and getting the right people for job onsite ASAP is crucial to limiting water damage and even cost.

Spontaneous Combustion Is Real

3/29/2018 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Spontaneous Combustion Is Real This garage sustained heavy fire damage due to rags being placed in a shop vac...

Popular projects like painting a room or refinishing a wood deck can transform the look of your home. Improper disposal of oily rags used on such projects also can transform the look of your home but in a very, very different way. You can safely clean paintbrushes with mineral spirits or paint thinner, but what about the rags and other materials that do not get cleaned but just get thrown away? How do you safely dispose of them?

If you just throw out the rags or leave them in a pile they may spontaneously ignite. That's not a joke.

Spontaneous Combustion Is Real

Simply put, spontaneous combustion is a fire starting without a match or spark. It's absolutely real and, unfortunately, not so uncommon. According to a 2011 report by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), about 1,600 residences per year experience fires due to spontaneous combustion or chemical reaction. And the most common causes of these fires are oily rags.

How Oily Rags Start Fires

Products that contain certain oils dry, or cure, through a chemical reaction called oxidation. This process uses oxygen and creates its own heat. If that heat is contained, such as in a pile of oily rags, it can get hot enough to reach the ignition point of the host material; in this case, cotton or whatever the rag is made of. And that's all it takes. Oxidation occurs with or without light, wind, or external heat sources.

Piles of rags are prone to spontaneous combustion because the piles of fabric trap the heat and the fabric often has a relatively low ignition point (the temperature at which they ignite). By contrast, when you apply an oil stain to a deck or a piece of furniture, heat from the oxidizing oil is immediately dissipated into the air.


How to Store and Dispose of Oily Rags

The easiest and safest way to store and dispose of flammable oily rags is to use this method:

  • Place the rags in an empty metal container that has a tight metal lid, such as an old paint can.
  • Fill the container with water until the rags are submerged;
  • Seal the can tightly with its metal lid.
  • Take the container to your local hazardous waste disposal center or arrange a special pickup by your garbage pickup service. Many municipalities also host hazardous waste drop off/pickup days). Never pour oily water down a drain in or around your home.

Another option is to let the rags dry fully before disposing of them. The important thing here is to allow the oil product to cure fully so that the oxidation process is complete and no longer creating heat:

  • Lay out or hang the oily rags in a single layer in an outdoor area that is out of the sun and well-ventilated. Be sure to lay them on a noncombustible surface, such as bare soil or concrete; do not lay them on your recently oiled deck, for example.
  • Let the rags dry fully, for at least 2 days, but possibly longer, depending on the product.
  • Dispose of the dried rags as directed by your garbage pickup service or local hazardous waste disposal center.

Causes of Mold: What Mold Needs to Grow

3/29/2018 (Permalink)

We have all had mold in our homes at one time or another. However, the mold most of us experience occurs on a loaf of bread and is not hazardous to our health. There are other types of household mold, and while they may be less common, they are much more dangerous. This article will cover the different types of mold as well as the common causes of mold.

Mold can’t grow just anywhere. There are several factors that must be in place for mold to grow.

  • Mold Spores: Mold spores are everywhere. Most commonly mold spores are brought into the house from an outside source.
  • A Food Source: While bread is a common food source for mold other materials in your home are also. Drywall, cotton, and wood can all be a food source for mold.
  • Darkness: Ultraviolet light kills mold. Therefore, mold only grows in dark places.
  • Warmth: Mold needs warm temperatures to grow. Temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit inhibits mold growth.
  • Moisture: Mold needs moisture to grow.
  • Time: Mold grows rather slowly, so the last requirement for mold is time.

Of these factors, moisture is the most important. Without moisture, there is no opportunity for mold to grow even if all of the other requirements are met.

Causes of Mold: Humidity

Humidity building up is one of the most common causes of mold. This is especially important to remember in South Florida. The average humidity on a summer day in Florida is over 70%. This high humidity can give mold the moisture level that it needs to grow. Your drywall, floors, and studs absorb the excess moisture in the air. You may notice mold growth after several days of high humidity or rain.

Your air conditioner is your first line of defense against excess humidity in your home. While cooling the air, your air conditioner also removes moisture. If you have an older air conditioner or have an issue with excess humidity, you may want to consider installing a dehumidifier. You could also look into upgrading your air conditioning system. A newer air conditioner will be able to pull more moisture from the air in your home.

Causes of Mold: Leaking Pipes

Another one of the common causes of mold in your home is leaking pipes. Pipes are hidden behind walls, and therefore it is difficult to tell if they are leaking. If you notice walls or ceilings that are wet, you are going to want to have a professional check for leaks in your pipes. Don’t wait until it is too late. A small leak can turn into an expensive problem if it is not taken care of quickly.

Causes of Mold: Leaks in Roof

Leaks in your roof is another one of the common causes of mold. Roofs wear down over time. It is a smart idea to have your roof checked every few years. Having a professional determine problem spots before they turn into leaks can save you a lot of time and money in the long run. If you see spots on your ceilings have your roof checked immediately.

Causes of Mold: Poor Ventilation

Not having enough air flowing through your home can cause stagnant air pockets. These pockets of air often contain more moisture. Poor ventilation in bathrooms is on of the most common causes of mold. Moisture and condensation build up while you are taking a shower and absorbs into your walls. If your bathroom vent isn’t sufficient enough, or if you don’t have one at all, you may want to consider installing a new vent. Just having a vent is often enough to make sure that your bathroom isn’t overrun by mold.

Causes of Mold: Flooding

This one seems fairly obvious. Whether your water heater breaks or extreme weather causes your house to flood you should have a professional clean up crew take care of the problem. Leaving behind even a small amount of water can cause future mold growth. The cleanup process may involve removing baseboards, drywall, and carpet. While this all may seem like too much, it isn’t. Leaving moisture behind is a serious health risk to you and your family.

Prepare for Spring Weather

3/29/2018 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Prepare for Spring Weather Are you prepared?

Spring weather can be unpredictable. When severe weather hits unexpectedly, the risk of injury and death increases, so planning ahead makes sense. Prepare for storms, floods, and tornadoes as if you know in advance they are coming, because in the spring, they very likely will.

Spring is the time of year when many things change—including the weather. Temperatures can swing back and forth between balmy and frigid. Sunny days may be followed by a week of stormy weather. Sometimes extreme weather changes can occur even within the same day. Mark Twain once said, “In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.”

Thunderstorms cause most of the severe spring weather. They can bring lightningtornadoes, and flooding. Whenever warm, moist air collides with cool, dry air, thunderstorms can occur. For much of the world, this happens in spring and summer.

Because spring weather is so unpredictable, you may be unprepared when severe weather hits—particularly if you live in a region that does not often experience thunderstorms, tornadoes, or flooding. And when severe weather hits unexpectedly, the risk of injury and death increases. So planning ahead makes sense; prepare for storms, floods, and tornadoes as if you know in advance they are coming, because in the spring, they very likely will.

Advance planning for thunderstorms, lightning, tornadoes, and floods requires specific safety precautions.

Often by the time we are aware of an approaching storm, we have little if any time to prepare for it.

Advance planning for thunderstorms, lightning, tornadoes, and floods requires specific safety precautions. You can follow many of the same steps that you would for all extreme weather events. Keep an emergency kit on hand. Some items to include are:

  • A battery-operated flashlight, a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio, and extra batteries for both
  • An emergency evacuation or shelter plan, including a map of your home and, for every type of severe weather emergency, routes to safety from each room
  • A list of important personal information, including:
    • telephone numbers of neighbors, family, and friends
    • insurance and property information
    • telephone numbers of utility companies
    • medical information
  • According to the American Red Cross a first aid kit may include:
    • non-latex gloves
    • assortment of adhesive bandages
    • antibiotic ointment
    • sterile gauze pads in assorted sizes
    • absorbent compress dressings
    • tweezers
    • scissors
    • adhesive cloth tape
    • aspirin packets (81 mg each)
    • first aid instruction booklet
      (NOTE: Customize your first aid kit to meet your individual and family needs.)
  • A 3–5 day supply of bottled water and nonperishable food
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • An emergency kit[1.08 MB] in your car

Prepare your family members for the possibility of severe weather. Tell them where to seek appropriate shelteras soon as they are aware of an approaching storm. Practice your emergency plan for every type of severe weather. Show family members where the emergency supplies are stored, and make sure they know how to turn off the water, gas, and electricity in your home.

Often by the time we are aware of an approaching storm, we have little if any time to prepare for it. But we do know that when spring arrives, thunderstorms, tornadoes, and floods are real possibilities. So why not take the surprise factor out of severe weather and prepare yourself, your family, and your home? If thunderstorms, tornadoes, and floods do occur, you’ll be ready for them.

It only takes 48 hours

3/29/2018 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation It only takes 48 hours It only takes 48 hours for mold spores to begin to spread.

It only takes 48 hours for mold spores to begin to spread.

Microscopic mold spores naturally occur almost everywhere, both outdoors and indoors. This makes it impossible to remove all mold from a home or business. Therefore, mold remediation reduces the mold spore count back to its natural or baseline level. Some restoration businesses advertise “mold removal” and even guarantee to remove all mold, which is a fallacy. Consider the following mold facts:

  • Mold is present almost everywhere, indoors and outdoors.
  • Mold spores are microscopic and float along in the air and may enter your home through windows, doors, or AC/heating systems or even hitch a ride indoors on your clothing or a pet.
  • Mold spores thrive on moisture. Mold spores can quickly grow into colonies when exposed to water. These colonies may produce allergens and irritants.
  • Before mold remediation can begin, any sources of water or moisture must be addressed. Otherwise, the mold may return.
  • Mold often produces a strong, musty odor and can lead you to possible mold problem areas.
  • Even higher-than-normal indoor humidity can support mold growth. Keep indoor humidity below 45 percent.Removing Mold and Mold-Infested Materials

The mold remediation process depends on the amount of mold growth and the types of surfaces on which the mold appears. We’ll use antifungal and antimicrobial treatments to eliminate mold colonies and to help prevent new colonies from forming. It may be necessary to remove and dispose of mold-infested porous materials, like drywall and carpeting, to remediate heavy mold growth.

If your home or business has a mold problem, we can inspect and assess your property and use our specialized training, equipment, and expertise to remediate your mold infestation.

If You See Signs of Mold, Call Us Today – (570)759-0966