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Water Damage Categories

2/19/2018 (Permalink)

Water Damage Water Damage Categories Example of Cat 3 water

Water Damage Categories I, II &III

Most people are not aware that there are 3 Categories of water damage.  There will be a series of blog posts to follow discussing how different materials in your home are affected by water and how that determines how SERVPRO of Dubuque and your insurance company will deal with the resulting damage.

The IICRC S 500 4th Edition Standards book is the Approved National Standard for the water damage industry.  Everyone in the water damage restoration business, agrees to abide by these standards and the courts have, in turn, acted in the past per the standards.

The S500 categorizes water damage into 3 different categories. 

Category 1 water originates from a sanitary water source.  This water does not pose a substantial risk to health from ingestion or inhalation. Basically, other than falling rain water and melting ice, the source of this water is usually from the water supply to the home.  That water might be from a broken supply line, toilet tank, tub or sink overflow (as long as there are no contaminants or additives).

Category 2 water contains significant contamination and has the potential to cause discomfort or sickness if contacted or consumed by humans.  Examples of Cat 2 water are; discharge from dishwashers, washing machines, toilet water with urine only, ground water seepage (hydrostatic pressure) or punctured waterbeds.

Category 3 water is grossly contaminated and can contain pathogenic, toxigenic or other harmful agents.  It can cause significant adverse reaction to humans if contacted or consumed.  Cat 3 water can include, sewage, wasteline backflows, flood water from seas, rivers or streams.  Surface water can contain hazardous materials including pesticides or toxic organic substances.

Depending on category of water that causes the event as well as the fact that that water became contaminated by either flowing through a contaminant or from it remaining wet for a duration of time, the Category can change from Cat 1 to Cat 2 or Cat 2 to Cat 3.

The way that we handle each of these types  of water damage categories, differs.  I will explain specifics in future Blog Posts.

How Water Categories Affect Carpet and Pad

2/19/2018 (Permalink)

Water Damage How Water Categories Affect Carpet and Pad CAT 1 water on carpet

How Water Categories affect your Carpet and Pad.

In this Blog I will be referring to Water Categories 1, 2 &3.  Please read the Blog Post about Water Damage Categories first.

We often run into questions at water damaged homes regarding the wet carpet and pad.  Although every situation can be different, there are some general rules of thumb that usually apply.

If the water incident is a true Cat 1 water damage, the carpet and sometimes the pad can be saved.  If enough water can be extracted using the proper weighted extraction tools and the carpet can be dried in place.  Keep in mind that Cat 1 water can become Cat 2 if it flows through contaminants or is not extracted in a timely manner.

In a Category 2 water event, the carpet and pad should be extracted, but the pad will need to be removed and disposed of.  The carpet can normally be restored as long as it is not worn out or has started to delaminate.  The carpet should be professionally cleaned after the remediation is complete.  Again, keep in mind that the water Category can degrade to a Cat 3 if the water becomes contaminated or if mold an bacterial begin go grow if the issue is not addressed promptly.

In a Category 3 water event, as part of the decontamination effort, the carpet and pad will need to be removed and disposed of.  Normally the contaminated water is extracted first to not only make the carpet and pad more manageable but also to keep from contaminating other areas of the property as it is removed.

How Water Classes Affect Drywall

2/19/2018 (Permalink)

Water Damage How Water Classes Affect Drywall Flood cut after water back up from sump pump

How Water Damage Categories Affect Drywall

I previously explained the definition of Cat 1, 2 & 3.  Please read the Blog titled Water Damage Categories first.

Specific building materials are affected differently by Category 1, 2 or 3 water.  The category of water can make the difference between drying and restoring carpet and pad or having to dispose of it as I discussed in the Blog: How Water Categories Affect Carpet and Pad.

What about the walls?  Depending on wall material, the method of water damage remediation will also vary on the Category of Water.

Drywall – Gypsum Board, commonly referred to a drywall has a tendency to soak up water like a sponge, especially from its cut ends.  Water that is sprayed on the wall surface is often repelled by a painted surface or simply runs off before it can be absorbed.  On the other hand, horizontal water that raises to a level above the bottom edge of the drywall will be absorbed, as much as several inches, up the wall board, depending on how long the water remains at that level.

If the water that rose to a level above the base of the wall board was Category 1 water, an attempt can be made to dry the wall.  Air movement is the key to accomplishing this.  First any floor trim or base, will need to be removed.  Standard procedure dictates punching or drilling holes around 2 inches above the floor.  This will be above the sill plate (the framing board that rests on the floor) but still below the upper level of where the base covered.  Air movers are then directed at the holes to provide air movement in the wall cavity to facilitate drying.  This method is usually effective as long as there is no insulation in the wall cavity and the water has not had time to soak up into the wall board a significant distance. 

If the water is Category 2 or 3 water or if the above method is ineffective, the affected drywall will need to be removed and disposed of, a process commonly referred to as Flood Cutting.

Flood cutting, is measuring a line 2’ ½” above the floor and cutting and removing the drywall below that line.  This will open up the wall cavity, allowing wet insulation to be removed and the wall chamber to be decontaminated if Cat 2 or 3 water is to blame.  It will also allow a much larger volume of air to flow into the cavity to facilitate drying.  If the water was very deep or sat for a long time, the flood cut might have to be made at 4’ ½”.

The height of the flood cuts, are intended to make the re-installation of drywall much easier.  In the event of a serious flood where the water was very deep or it sat for an extended duration while wet, the walls may need to be removed completely.

Congratulations Terry Lenstra, CIE and Bob Vohl, CIE

2/16/2018 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation Congratulations Terry Lenstra, CIE and Bob Vohl, CIE Congrats Terry and Bob

Congratulations to Terry Lenstra, CIE! Terry passed his certification test for Council Certified Indoor Environmentalist. We now have two CIEs on staff at SERVPRO of Dubuque. Bob Vohl, CIE received his certification a few months ago. The Council-certified Indoor Environmentalist (CIE) and the Council-certified Indoor Environmental Consultant (CIEC) investigate indoor air quality problems. For example, a CIE or CIEC identifies mold and moisture issues during a commercial investigation or a home inspection. These professionals have verified knowledge of disciplines related to indoor air quality, including HVAC, building science, mold and microbial issues, industrial hygiene, lead-based paint and asbestos. CIEs and CIECs posses verified experience conducting field investigations in one or more of the following settings: Offices and commercial buildingss Industrial structures Government facilities Schools and public buildings Healthcare facilities Home inspection To earn the Council-certified Indoor Environmentalist (CIE) or Council-certified Indoor Environmental Consultant (CIEC) designations, the candidate must: Demonstrate verifiable field experience in indoor air quality investigation Pass a rigorous examination based on broad industry knowledge rather than a course curriculum Earn the unanimous approval of the CIE or CIEC certification board Re-certify every two years Participate in 20 hours of professional development activities each year Maintain the highest ethical standards Accreditation: The CIE and CIEC certifications are accredited by the Council for Engineering and Scientific Specialty Boards (CESB), a nationally recognized independent accreditation body. ACAC certifications are the ONLY designations in the indoor air quality field to earn CESB accreditation.

Winter Weather Brings Fire Hazards

2/16/2018 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Winter Weather Brings Fire Hazards Fire caused by space heater

Winter weather season is approaching, in an effort to keep our homes and workplaces cozy, many people use alternative heat sources like fireplaces, portable space heaters and wood burning stoves.  Did you know, heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths?  According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment fires cause and estimated $1 billion in direct property damage annually.  Keep the following safety tips in mind to help reduce your risk of heating-related fire.

  • Keep anything flammable at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove or a portable space heater. Also, have a three foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container.  Keep the container a safe distance away from your home or other combustible items.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Test your smoke alarms monthly to ensure that they are working properly and that the batteries don’t need to be replaced. Also, smoke alarms, themselves, should be replaced every ten years.
  • 50% of all residential heating-related fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February.

If your property does suffer fire damage, contact your local Dubuque SERVPRO Professionals to help make it “Like it never even happened.”

*Statistics and tips provided by the National Fire Prevention Association.

Specialized Cleaning for Contents

2/16/2018 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Specialized Cleaning for Contents Examples of Ultra-Sonic Cleaning

Interesting Information about Ultrasonic Cleaning from Morantz Ultrasonics.  SERVPRO of Dubuque utilizes this equipment.

About Contents Restoration

Restoring Smoke, Water and Mold damaged property is faster, easier and more effective with Ultrasonics than with any other process.

Contents Restoration is an important business. It not only helps to restore damaged property, it helps restore people’s lives and livelihoods. While property damage can take many forms, what’s important to the owners is that their lives are returned to normal, and that they get their property back, as fast as possible.

Of course, when property can be returned depends on the type and severity of the damage. Certainly not every item, such as those actually burnt or melted in fires, can be restored, but a great number of items that would have traditionally been determined to be unrecoverable can now be quickly restored and returned to the owner with Morantz Ultrasonics.

Benefits of Ultrasonics for Contents Restoration 

The benefits of restoring property with Ultrasonics are two-fold:

  1. For Insurance Companies:The cost of restoring an item versus reimbursing the owner for the item’s full value is dramatically diminished. Example: a $1500 television can typically be cleaned and returned to the owner within days. The cost of cleaning that $1500 television for the Insurance could be only $300 (or whatever the restoration company decides to charge for their service). This represents a significant savings.
  2. For Property Owners: They get their original property back quickly. Whereas traditional cleaning methods can take weeks and cause additional property damage, with Ultrasonics most items can be cleaned in as little as 30 seconds to 2 minutes). As a result, it’s no surprise that most people are happy simply getting their property back, especially if it means getting their lives back to normal as quickly as possible and even more so if the items have sentimental value.

Types of Contents Restoration

The damage that occurs to property during fires, floods, accidents and other disasters is often much more severe than it first appears. To be sure, fire itself is destructive and an item that is physically burned or melted cannot be restored. However, property that has been engulfed in smoke, covered in soot, stained or discolored by water or contaminated by chemicals or molds can usually be restored to functional (or even good-as-new) condition with Morantz Ultrasonics.

How Common Damage Occurs

Damage to property and personal possessions can occur in many different ways. While damage as described above is common, fires are particularly troublesome as they can often result in multiple forms of damage. For example:

  • During a Fire: Fires can produce vast amounts of smoke that leave soot deposits on property. Depending on what has burned and the temperature of the fire, the soot produced by the fire may not only be mixed with a variety of chemicals and toxins. Additionally, physical properties of the soot can range from a fine powder to a thick sludge. Furthermore, because the particulate matter that makes up soot (and the chemical residue) is microscopic, it can not only penetrate deep into tiny crevices on the surface of an item, but it can also “sink” deep into the item itself. This is especially true of electronics which can actually attract soot and dirt because they can generate magnetic fields or become charged with static electricity.
  • Immediately After a Fire: The water that was used to extinguish the flames can discolor the surfaces of many types of items. Additionally, water can cause severe physical damage since the materials from which many items are made can actually absorb surprising amounts of water.
  • Long After a Fire: Many types of materials and even the items themselves can retain significant levels of moisture. Moisture absorbed by an item that has not been properly dried, or that remains on or near the surface, may quickly become a breeding ground for molds and bacteria or other potentially hazardous residues (again, depending on what has burned).

Building an Emergency Plan

2/12/2018 (Permalink)

Commercial Building an Emergency Plan Emergency Ready Plan

Building an Emergency Plan

According to, when a business suffers from a disaster the likelihood of reopening is only 60%. When disaster comes, you can be ruined or you can be ready with the help of technology. Disasters happen. The difference between those who make a comeback and those who don’t is preparedness. Here are some of the best ways to prepare for the worst.

  • Backup online: Various services such as Google and Dropbox offer secure, online document storage. Backup your important computer files and/or images of important documents online where they can be recovered immediately.
  • Stay informed: Follow local news, local government, FEMA and SERVPRO of Dubuque on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Twitter also allows users to alert first responders in the event that rescue is needed.
  • Mark yourself safe: Keep your family and friends up-to-date. Use Facebook’s Safety Check, or The American Red Cross’ Safe & Well site to mark yourself safe after you’ve been caught up in a natural disaster, or crisis situation.
  • Update Contact Info: Maintain current contact information in your e-mail and phone for family and friends you may need to contact in the event of an emergency.
  • Stay charged: Keep a portable charger charged up and ready to go in your home and vehicle. Solar powered chargers are available as an alternative to portable chargers. Solar chargers don’t require recharge and may be more reliable in the event of a natural disaster or crisis situation.
  • Get an Emergency READY Plan profile.

Your local SERVPRO of Dubuque marketing department is specially trained to assist you in preparing an Emergency Plan for your business.  Our READY Plan software is available at no cost and once completed you can manage in online yourself through the READY Plan mobile app.

Give us a call to make an appointment to have a READY Plan custom configured for your business.

Resolve to be Ready in 2018

2/12/2018 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Resolve to be Ready in 2018 Iowa Thunder Storm

SERVPRO Urges Dubuque Home and Business Owners to “Resolve to be Ready” in 2018

Local cleanup and restoration specialist shares no-cost emergency planning tools that enable fast and effective disaster response and recovery

 While resolutions typically involve committing to personal changes and reaching goals, SERVPRO says the single most important resolution both business and home owners can make for 2018 is to “Resolve to be Ready.”

 “Preparing in advance to deal with the unexpected can make a world of difference in how quickly and completely property owners can put the pieces of their lives back together,” says Todd Wiedenman of SERVPRO Dubuque. “Emergency readiness plans are the foundation for effective and timely emergency response.”

 Wiedenman encourages all property owners to take advantage of the no-cost emergency planning tools available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) (, as well as SERVPRO’s Emergency READY Profile and READY Plan Mobile App ( 

 For homeowners:

  • FEMA resources include guidelines for a creating a Family Emergency Plan and Emergency Supply List, with additional tips for pet owners, seniors, people with disabilities, and even commuters.
  • SERVPRO offers their free SERVPRO READY Plan app, which stores critical contact and property information electronically in advance, where it can be accessed with a mobile device in seconds if disaster strikes.

For business owners:

  • FEMA offers materials on topics ranging from creating a Business Continuity Plan to an Insurance Discussion Coverage Form in addition to guidelines for creating an Emergency Response Plan.
  • For businesses, SERVPRO offers a no-cost facility assessment and assistance in creating a comprehensive Emergency READY Profile® (ERP). The ERP includes information about emergency contact numbers, priority and high/risk areas, shut-off valve locations and more that can then be stored in the READY app.

 “The time to gather and store information like emergency contact numbers; insurance contacts; and the location of fuse boxes, fire suppression system controls, and such is before an emergency strikes, not during an emergency,” says Wiedenman. “Having this information at your fingertips can help emergency responders react as quickly and effectively as possible, helping to limit loss of property and even lives.”

Since 1998 SERVPRO of Dubuque has provided disaster restoration, cleanup and repair services, helping to remediate damage, making it “Like it never even happened,” for both commercial and residential customers. For more information on SERVPRO of Dubuque, please contact us at (563) 584-2242 or For more information on the SERVPRO mobile app and the SERVPRO Emergency READY Program, please visit


Founded in 1967, the SERVPRO® Franchise System is a leader and provider of fire and water cleanup and restoration services and mold mitigation and remediation. SERVPRO’s professional services network of more than 1,700 individually owned and operated Franchises responds to property damage emergencies ranging from small individual disasters to multi-million dollar large-loss events. Providing coverage in the United States and Canada, the SERVPRO® System has established relationships with major insurance companies and commercial clients, as well as individual homeowners.

Mold, Don't Let it Grow!

2/9/2018 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation Mold, Don't Let it Grow! Mold growing for floor joists that were not dried in a timely fashion.

Fungi and Mold are naturally occurring microorganisms which occur in over 100,000 varieties. Although some can be hazardous to human health, they often enrich our earthen experience through culinary delicacies. Have you ever enjoyed a homemade loaf of bread, blue cheese atop a delicious spring salad with fresh mushrooms or for ultra-foodies, truffles? Mmmm… fungi and mold at its finest! Now, imagine you leave this delightful picnic and head into your neighbor’s house, through their basement, to wash up. The moment you step inside, something isn’t right. You immediately notice a strong, musty smell. You can’t wait to get outside and breathe in some fresh air… you guessed it. Those same microorganisms at their worst.

You remember that last fall your neighbor’s water heater sprung a leak. You recommended they call SERVPRO of Dubuque, but they decided to handle it on their own with some house fans and a small, store bought dehumidifier. So, what happened? Mold just needs a food source, a little moisture to instigate growth and a warm environment in which to grow and multiply. We commonly keep our homes between 68°-76°F. Without a drying team, to monitor daily progress, or the use of commercial grade air movers and dehumidification, your neighbor’s home was no match for mold! Mold feeds on organic materials… the kind our homes are made of: drywall, insulation, wood, paper etc. It takes only 72 hours for mold growth to begin. Once it starts, it doesn’t stop on its own.

Mold growth in the home is not only unpleasant, it can be dangerous when allowed to flourish. Once airborne, mold can cause the Indoor Air Quality of a home to diminish rapidly. Health concerns such as coughing, sneezing, runny nose, asthma, sore throat or inflammation of the sinuses may be caused by exposure to high levels of mold growth. Mold can be especially troublesome for certain at-risk individuals such as infants, children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with respiratory issues and weakened immune systems.

When you, or someone you know experiences water damage inside the home, act quickly to inhibit mold growth. Call SERVPRO of Dubuque, 563.584.2242.

If you suspect that mold has already began growing in your home, give SERVPRO of Dubuque a call.  We can ask a CIE certified Indoor Environmental from MB Mold and Indoor Air Quality run the necessary tests to determine if remediation is necessary.  If remediation is necessary, SERVPRO of Dubuque can handle the remediation and make it “Like it never even happened.”

Bats, Raccoons and other Critters!

11/6/2017 (Permalink)

Cleaning Bats, Raccoons and other Critters! Bat guano and its health risks

As winter approaches across the Midwest, several different types of animals will be looking for a warm place to spend the cold winter months.  SERVPRO of Dubuque works with local Animal/Pest Control companies to cleanup the mess that these Critters leave behind.

Most people are aware that bats and other animals, including raccoons and foxes are the primary sources of rabies transmission.

The droppings and urine from all of these animals usually leave a very unpleasant odor and is normally concentrated in areas where they have decided to nest.

Histoplasmosis is a disease that affects the lungs and occasionally other organs.  When this happens, it can be fatal if untreated.  Histoplasmosis is caused by a fungus that grows in material contaminated by animal droppings, especially bat droppings or guano.

SERVPRO of Dubuque's technicians are specially trained in using the proper protective gear and equipment to clean up animal nesting areas and bat guano.

If you have had a problem in your home with nesting animals or need bat guano cleaned up, give SERVPRO of Dubuque a call.  We can make it, "Like it never even happened."