Recent Storm Damage Posts

Did recent storm damage leave you with a bad odor?

6/10/2019 (Permalink)

Mold growing behind baseboard

Recent storm activity in Eastern Iowa, NW Illinois and SW Wisconsin caused a lot of water intrusion into homes and businesses.

If you had water enter your building, whether you cleaned it up yourself or had it professionally mitigated, an unpleasant odor might be an indication that unidentified bound water might have been overlooked and microbial growth is occurring.

Extraction of bulk water, air movement and dehumidification are usually adequate to remove visible water and water that has soaked into porous items such as drywall.  However, water that has soaked into hard to dry materials (bound water) may have been missed and can result in fungal growth.

SERVPRO of Dubuque has specialty equipment and engineering controls that can direct heat, concentrate air movement and utilize low grain or desiccant dehumidifiers to remove this trapped moisture.

We receive several calls each year to remediate mold that has appeared as a result of a water damage cleanup that either the homeowner or contractor failed to address the bound water.

Rest assured that if you experience a bad odor as a result of a recent water damage, SERVPRO of Dubuque’s team of highly trained technicians have the equipment and expertise to fix the problem and make your house smell like home again.

Is water trapped in your walls?

10/19/2018 (Permalink)

Checking for moisture in walls.

Eastern Iowa, Southwest Wisconsin and Northwest Illinois has experienced several storms this late summer and early fall.

Many homeowners attempt to extract the water using shop vacs and setting fans.  The water may appear to be gone and dried up.  What about the walls?

If water gets deep enough, it will wick up drywall or can be forced in around windows and doors as wind driven rain.

This trapped water is very difficult to dry using conventional fans.  A professional restoration company like SERVPRO of Dubuque has special equipment and the knowledge check for moisture in the walls and to dry it.

If walls remain wet for more than 48 hours, the opportunity for mold growth increases.  Once mold has begun growing in wall cavities, it is difficult to identify and normally requires significant demolition to properly remove.

If you have a significant amount of water, don't try and dry it yourself.  Give SERVPRO of Dubuque a call.  If you had water damage this season and dried it yourself and now find that there is a musty odor that remains, let us know.

Our sister company MB Mold & Air Quality Testing can test for the presence of elevated levels of mold spores and help determine if there is a problem.

The technicians at SERVPRO of Dubuque are not only certified for water damage restoration but also for mold remediation.  We can make your home Like it never even happened! 

Water Damage, Better Call SERVPRO!

9/4/2018 (Permalink)

Our office inundated with storm water.

Water Damage, Better Call SERVPRO!

In the recent heavy rain storms, everyone can be affected.  As a mater of fact, this is our office on Monday.  Needless to say, we know someone in the business and the water was quickly extracted and drying equipment set.

We are responding as quickly to the water damage calls in Eastern Iowa, SW Wisconsin and NW Illinois, as we can.  If you have spoken with someone at our office and have been told that you are on our list, we will get to you as soon as possible.

Residential Desiccant

5/2/2018 (Permalink)

Desiccant set on residential water job in Galena Illinois

If you are not familiar with desiccant dehumidification, please read the blog Desiccant Dehumidification.

As the season for spring rains and flooding approaches, keep in mind that SERVPRO of Dubuque has one of the most innovative drying tools available.  Our Titan 5000 Desiccant Dehumidifier is like no other piece of drying equipment in the area.  This High Efficiency Desiccant has several advantages over anything else available.

Normally a desiccant is a very large, very loud and very inefficient machine.  Normally it is delivered on a large flat bed trailer behind a semi truck accompanied by a large 240KW generator.

This may be appropriate for a large commercial water loss, but is not something you would want to have set in your residential neighborhood, library parking lot, apartment complex, nursing home or school.

The Titan 5000 is an 8'x8'x8' cube that  rests on a car sized trailer and the generator is included inside the cube, within the sound proofing.

The Titan 5000 is 70% quieter and 70% more fuel efficient than the standard 5000 CFM desiccant.

It is a solution for severe residential water damage losses as well as specialty commercial placements where size and sound levels are a concern.

Only SERVPRO of Dubuque and our partners have access to this amazing machine.

Steps to Reduce the Risk of Tornado Damage

3/14/2018 (Permalink)

How to minimize tornado damage.

Tornado damage mitigation tips from Disastersafety.org.

About 1,000 tornadoes occur each year in the United States, causing an average of $1.1 billion in property damage and 80 deaths. These storms vary in intensity and the accompanying damage can result in everything from minor repairs to complete destruction with little warning. Most tornadoes are relatively weak, and therefore, primarily damage roofs, windows and trees. While only two percent of tornadoes achieve the most violent and damaging classification, one quarter of tornadoes are powerful enough to cause 90 percent of the damage and two-thirds of the deaths.

 

In an effort to gain a better understanding of who is most at risk from these destructive forces, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) conducted a regional analysis of tornadoes of F2 or greater strength that were reported during the 50-year period beginning in 1957 through 2006. This analysis, coupled with the construction guidance included below, is intended to better define which areas are most likely to be affected by tornadoes and to suggest methods for mitigating property risks.

The analysis used tornado records from a period of time when the older Fujita Scale classification F0 through F5 was being used. Since 2006, tornadoes have been classified by the Enhanced Fujita Scale using EF0 through EF5. Both scale classifications are based on damage observed after a tornado strikes. The EF scale, which provides a larger number of damage indicators for different types of buildings, attempts to recognize the difference between poorly constructed and well constructed buildings and results in lower estimates of wind speeds for the most intense storms, which are classified using the highest number on the F or EF scales. Efforts to re-classify the older F-Scale tornadoes using the EF-Scale are very labor intensive and subject to judgment because it requires a review of old damage reports, many of which will not have pictures of the damage. The simple approach, which is reasonable and probably slightly conservative, is to simply use the new wind speed estimates with the older classifications.

In creating the map below, IBHS used a grid of 100 square mile cells in the analysis. This is a smaller cell size than used by most other analyses. The advantage is a finer resolution of tornado risks at the expense of greater variability between adjacent cells. The effects of this potential limitation were reduced by employing a process to smooth out differences in tornado frequencies between nearby cells.

Tornadoes have a unique destructive power among wind-related natural disasters because they concentrate a massive amount of energy in a relatively small area. The strongest category of tornadoes can generate maximum wind speeds of greater than 250 mph, which is enough to destroy most buildings and structures in their path. These maximum wind speeds generate forces that are about twice as large as those generated by the strongest hurricanes.

Only a few specialty buildings are designed to withstand the direct impact of a severe tornado. However, well engineered, large and tall commercial structures are not likely to suffer structural collapse. For smaller commercial structures, good construction choices can give added protection and increase the likelihood that at least part of the structure will remain standing to provide shelter. Buildings that have been strengthened in critical areas and particularly at connection points, such as between the roof and walls and walls and foundation, would have a good chance of surviving intact or with minor cosmetic damage if subjected to the outer edges of a tornado.

Despite the annual tornado exposure, many walls and roofs of businesses in inland areas of the United States are typically built to resist gravity loads and have little resistance to uplift and lateral loads. Construction where all parts of the building are well connected is more common in hurricane-prone areas, but should also be considered by anyone who wants to increase their property’s protection from other severe windstorms, according to the building science experts at IBHS.

A CHECKLIST FOR MITIGATING TORNADO RISKS

While there is no way to eliminate all the damage of a direct hit from a violent tornado, businesses in tornado-prone areas can implement a variety of affordable measures which, for the majority of tornadoes, will effectively minimize damages to facilities, injuries to employees and the losses associated with business disruptions.

While the measures below focus specifically on tornado risks, many also will help protect businesses from other types of high wind and thunderstorm-related weather risks outside of tornado-prone regions.

ASSESS THE LIKELIHOOD OF A TORNADO STRIKING YOUR BUSINESS

Is the area where you live and work prone to tornadoes? Look at the map in this report to identify areas with the highest risk of tornadoes. Knowing what tornado risks are present is essential for choosing the appropriate mix of measures to protect your business. Businesses located in areas with a heightened tornado risk should take the following steps to minimize their risk of tornado damage:

PROTECT YOUR EMPLOYEES

  • Prepare and disseminate an emergency plan describing what supervisors and employees should to do as a tornado threatens. Practice these procedures through tornado drills.
  • Purchase a weather radio with local discrimination capability. Monitor weather conditions so employees can be moved to secure locations when necessary:
    • Have an adequate source of weather information, such as a tone alert weather radio, to keep abreast of weather conditions.
    • Have someone monitor local radar and warning information during a tornado watch and especially if a tornado warning has been issued for the area.

Watches and Warnings:

  • A tornado watch is a caution indicating a high probability of tornadoes within an area approximately 250 miles long and 120 miles wide.
  • A tornado warning means that a tornado has been spotted on the ground in your county or moving toward your county, or that weather radar indicates a high probability of a tornado existing.
  • Keep exterior doors and windows closed to minimize rain and flying debris. Closing interior doors will also help to compartmentalize the building and provide more barriers between your employees and the storm.
  • Select the best protective area for employees to seek shelter if there is a tornado:
    • Basements are usually considered a good area, as are corridors and small interior rooms on the first floor of a structure.
    • Never shelter employees in rooms where there is an outside wall, particularly those with glass windows, or where the ceiling or roof has a span between supports of more than 40 feet.
    • If your building does not provide adequate protection and you are located in a tornado prone area, work with a contractor to harden a section of your facility or build a safe room.
    • Safe Rooms: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and International Code Council (ICC) offer shelter guidelines.
      • If you have 10 or fewer employees, a small size room designed according to the requirements and guidance published in FEMA 320 or ICC 500 for residential shelters may be sufficient.
      • For larger safe rooms, use FEMA 361 or ICC 500 guidance for community shelters.

Make provisions to shelter employees working in portable out buildings and those operating trucks and other vehicles.

PROTECT YOUR PROPERTY

Wind-resistant construction can be cost effective and minimize the risk of structural damage for the majority of tornadoes, particularly damage from weak to moderate tornadoes, hail and wind associated with thunderstorms, and even to buildings on the edge of strong or violent tornadoes:

For new construction in a tornado prone area:

  • Work with an architect or contractor to incorporate wind mitigation techniques and high wind-rated products when constructing your building, including safe areas for personnel.
  • These techniques provide state-of-the art solutions to minimize structural risks by withstanding pressures created by specified high winds, strengthening roof and wall connections, roof systems, walls and wall covering, windows, doors, and skylights.
  • It is less costly and more effective to harden buildings during design and construction rather than later.

For an existing structure, not built to wind mitigation standards:

  • Consider retrofitting, especially when remodeling or replacing building components.
  • Retrofitting may include:
    • Bracing and strapping the roof.
    • Adding recommended fasteners, ties, reinforcements, roof covering and anchors as building components are modified and maintained.
    • Making entry doors and overhead doors more wind-resistant.
    • Building a safe room to protect against tornadoes.
  • For additional information on protection for existing buildings, see “Protecting Commercial Property” in the Tornado section of our website www.DisasterSafety.org.

MINIMIZE THE THREATS FROM WIND-BORNE DEBRIS

  • Identify and remove trees and branches that could fall on the building walls or roof, or on power lines.
  • Inspect and repair loose or damaged building components such as siding, soffit and fascia, shingles and roofing, brickwork, and brick chimneys.
  • Avoid using built -up roofs with aggregate or pavers on the surface.

Visit www.DisasterSafety.org/tornado to find additional details and how-to instruction for many of these projects.

Reducing Flood Damage to Homes

3/14/2018 (Permalink)

Flood damaged home

Reduce Flood Damage to Homes

More great information from Disastersafety.org.

While flooding can occur at any time of year, the spring is a particularly troublesome time of year as snow and ice melts and seasonal rains begin. IBHS suggests the following improvement projects to help protect property against potential flood damage. 

Flooding and flash flooding are a leading cause of weather-related fatalities in the United States, according to the National Weather Service. Floods are also the most common weather-related cause of property damage in the nation. During Hurricane Sandy, many property owners were caught off guard by the risk that flooding posed as the storm came ashore. This misunderstanding of their flood risk led to many deaths and injuries. Homes were washed away, and businesses were heavily damaged by flood waters. Ultimately, Sandy resulted in $6.7 billion in National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) payouts as of July 2013, second only to Hurricane Katrina’s $16.3 billion in payouts in August 2005, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Understand Your Flood Risk

Updated Flood Maps

A flood map (sometimes referred to as a floodplain map or FEMA flood map) can be used to identify floodplain location and flood zones. IBHS encourages residents to learn about the flooding risk of their properties and take steps to reduce that risk. The best place to start is by finding out what flood zone, from high to low risk, your property is in. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) works with each municipality to create and update flood maps that show the flood zone for each part of the community. You can look up your property on the local flood map by visiting FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center or contacting your city or county government. Your insurance agent or mortgage lender may also be able to assist.

 

Floods maps are redrawn by FEMA to reflect new information and recommendations. In fact, many communities are currently receiving new, more detailed flood maps as part of an ongoing flood map modernization effort by FEMA. Consult your city or county building department to determine if your local maps have been or will soon be updated. If an update has recently been completed or is ongoing, it is recommended that you review the maps to see if the redrawing has affected the flood zone for your property.

Additional information on looking up your property on flood maps and the meaning of the flood zone designations is available at FloodSmart.gov. It is important to note that there are many times when a building can experience flood damage—even if it is not located within a high-risk flood area on the flood map. Therefore, it is best to get an understanding of the flood zone of your entire surrounding area to fully understand your risk.

Know Your Base Flood Elevation

Once you know what flood zone your property is in, it is important to find out what the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) is for your property. The BFE is the elevation at which your building has a one percent chance of flooding annually. You can find the BFE for your property listed on many flood maps, especially newer ones, or by contacting your local building department, or hiring a licensed surveyor. After identifying the BFE for your property, you need to determine whether the elevation of your building’s lowest floor is above or below the published BFE for your property. If your building is below the BFE for the area, you should consider elevating your structure to reduce the chances it will flood. IBHS recommends that buildings be at least 3 feet above the BFE to account for higher-than-expected flooding levels.

Flood Insurance

Once you know what your risk is, you also should consider purchasing flood insurance, especially if you find you are in, or near, a high-risk flood zone (Special Flood Hazard Area). Flood insurance is provided through the federal National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and can be purchased through private insurance agents and companies. If you have a federally backed mortgage, be aware that your lender may require you to purchase flood insurance if you are in or near a high-risk flood zone.

  • Raise Electrical System Components—Hire a licensed electrician to raise electric components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers and wiring) at least 12 inches above the base flood elevation (BFE) for your area. You can find out your property’s BFE by contacting your local building department. Raising electrical system components above the anticipated flood level will help prevent damage to the electrical system and avoid the potential for fire from short circuits in flooded systems.
  • Raise or Floodproof HVAC Equipment—Floodwaters can extensively damage heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC) equipment. The extent of the damage depends upon the depth of flooding and how long the equipment is underwater. A good way to protect the HVAC equipment is to have a contractor move it to an upper floor or build a flood-proof wall around the equipment.
  • Direct Water Away From Building—Make sure your yard’s grading (slope) directs water away from the building.
  • Anchor Fuel Tanks—Unanchored fuel tanks outside your home can damage your building or be swept downstream, damaging other properties. The supply line to an unanchored tank in your basement also can tear free and fuel can contaminate your basement.
  • Install Sewer Backflow Valves—Flooding in some areas can cause sewage from sanitary sewer lines to back up through drain pipes. Backflow valves are designed to block drain pipes temporarily and prevent return flow into the house.
  • Sump Pumps—Make sure your sump pump is working properly and battery is fully charged.
  • Protect Wells From Contamination by Flooding—Floodwater that enters a well can contaminate it and make the water unsafe to drink. A licensed well-drilling contractor can inspect your well and suggest improvements.

Reduce Lightning Damage to Your Home

3/14/2018 (Permalink)

Lightning can cause expensive damage to your home.

Information provided by Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety.

For lightning protection, a whole-house/building surge protector is the best starting point for reducing the risk of damage. The utility company may provide and install whole-building surge protection systems. If not, consult a licensed electrician about having one installed.

 

It is important to note that a whole house/building surge protector will not protect against a direct lightning strike. Lightning protection systems are designed to protect a structure and provide a specified path to harness and safely ground the super-charged current of a lightning bolt. The system works by receiving the strike and routing it harmlessly into the ground thus discharging the dangerous electrical event. IBHS recommends that lightning protection systems be installed by a UL listed installer and meet the requirements of NFPA 780 and Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) Standards.

In addition to whole-building surge protection, IBHS strongly recommends the following:

  • Unplug electronic equipment. It is the most reliable means of protecting that equipment from a power surge.
  • Know the important difference between a surge suppressor and a power strip. A power strip plugs into your wall outlet and allows you to plug in multiple electronic devices. However, a power strip does not protect equipment from being damaged by a power spike. A surge protector also gives the user the ability to plug in multiple electronic devices, but it also serves another very important function in that it also protects your electronic devices from a power spike.
  • Connect telephone, cable/satellite TV and network lines to a surge suppressor.
  • Make sure the surge suppressor has an indicator light so you know it is working properly.
  • Ensure the surge suppressor has been tested to UL 1449.
  • Purchase a surge suppressor with a Joule rating of over 1,000. The Joule rating typically ranges from 200 up to several thousand – the higher the number the better.
  • Look for a surge suppressor with a clamping voltage rating (voltage at which the protector will conduct the electricity to ground) between 330 v, which is typical, to 400 v.
  • Purchase a surge suppressor with a response time less than 1 nanosecond.
  • Do not cut corners. You don’t want to protect a $1,000 television or computer system with a $10 surge protector, for $25 and up you can provide much better protection
  • Have a licensed electrician or home/building inspector review the power, telephone, electrical and cable/satellite TV connections to your building. Have them check to make sure that you have adequate grounding of the power line connection and your power distribution panel. All of the utilities should enter the structure within 10 feet of the electrical service entrance ground wire and be bonded to that grounding point.

Resolve to be Ready in 2018

2/12/2018 (Permalink)

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) (www.ready.gov/publications), as well as SERVPRO’s Emergency READY Profile and READY Plan Mobile App (http://ready.SERVPRO.com). 

 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 marketing@SERVPROdubuque.com. For more information on the SERVPRO mobile app and the SERVPRO Emergency READY Program, please visit www.ready.SERVPRO.com.

 About SERVPRO®

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.

Storm Related Water Damage

10/10/2017 (Permalink)

Storm related water damage after 4 days.

Storm or water damage?  Don’t hesitate, Call SERVPRO of Dubuque NOW!

Need Emergency Service? Call Us 24/7 – (563) 584-2242

Flooding and water damage like Dubuque Iowa has experienced the last few years, is very invasive.  The faster that we can begin to mitigate the problem, the less expensive the cost. Water quickly spreads throughout your home and gets absorbed into floors, walls, furniture, and more.   If SERVPRO of Dubuque is contacted quickly, we can start the water extraction process almost immediately. This rapid response helps to minimize the damage to try and limit the cleaning and restoration costs. Also, flood water can be severely contaminated. 

Water Damage Timeline

Within Minutes

  • Water quickly spreads throughout your property, saturating everything in its path.
  • Water is absorbed into walls, floors, upholstery, and belongings.
  • Furniture finishes may bleed, causing permanent staining on carpets.
  • Photographs, books, and other paper goods start to swell and warp.

Hours 1 - 24:

  • Drywall begins to swell and break down.
  • Water begins to penetrate hard to access and dry areas.
  • Metal surfaces begin to tarnish.
  • Furniture begins to swell and crack.
  • Dyes and inks from cloth and paper goods spread and stain.
  • A musty odor appears.

48 Hours to 1 Week:

  • Mold and mildew may grow and spread.
  • Doors, windows, and studs swell and warp.
  • Metal begins to rust and corrode.
  • Furniture warps and shows signs of mold.
  • Paint begins to blister.
  • Wood flooring swells and warps.
  • Serious biohazard contamination is possible.

More Than 1 Week:

  • Restoration time and cost increase dramatically; replacing contaminated materials and structural rebuilding may be extensive.
  • Structural safety, mold growth, and biohazard contaminants pose serious risks to occupants.

SERVPRO of Dubuque has the knowledge.

SERVPRO of Dubuque has more than 20 years experience, specializing in the cleanup and restoration of residential and commercial property after a fire, smoke or water damage event. Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration. From initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO’s corporate training facility to regular IICRC-industry certification, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property.

Don't Let Winter Weather Take a Toll on You | Part 2

1/31/2017 (Permalink)

The Electrical Problem


Problem


Electrical failures are factors in 14 percent of home fires. During a typical year, home electrical problems account for 67,800 fires. Home electrical wiring causes twice as many fires as heating equipment.


Cost of Damage


Electrical failures are responsible for an estimated $868 million per year in property losses.


Prevention


Faulty wiring and faulty outlets cause most fires. Have your wiring inspected by a licensed electrician to fix these problems before they cause a home or business fire.  Not overloading your outlets is a step you can take to help prevent electrical failures.  The over-use of electrical splitters and power strips are a common cause of electrical failures which can result in a overload of a circuit or possibly a electrical fire.


More Information


The U.S. Fire Administration at www.usfa.dhs.gov.

Don't Let Winter Weather Take a Toll on You | Part 3

1/31/2017 (Permalink)

The Ice Dam Problem


The Problem


Ice Dams can be a major problem during the winter season. They form when heated air melts roof snow downward into water dammed behind still-frozen ice. When the trapped water cannot safely flow or run into the gutter system, it can backflow under the roof's shingles and into the structure’s interior areas.


Prevention


Keeping your attic well insulated is the first step, as an over-warm winter attic can set ice dams in motion.


Proper ventilation of an attic can also prevent heat from building up in the attic.


In the event that your home experiences an ice dam which results in water damage to the interior of your home or building, call SERVPRO of Dubuque right away.  Unresolved water damage can quickly become far more expensive problems if not addressed promptly.