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Drying Out the Florida Keys

Two months post Hurricane Irma… you might be wondering: how are we dealing with excess moisture, flood damage, mold prevention, mold remediation and dehumidifying to prevent further mold in the tropical climate of the Florida Keys?

One of the most important things is following the latest guidelines put out by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, developed for first responders and clean-up workers.

Before cleanup even began, we had to make sure we:

  • Have the proper gear. For the safety of our workers, we make sure use hard hats, goggles, work gloves, waterproof & steel-toe shoes, ear protection and fire extinguishers. Additionally, we follow the CDC’s guidelines to wear rubber boots and rubber gloves anytime we have to deal with sewage.
  • Work in teams. To be the most efficient, we hired displaced, local workers whose jobs were taken away with Hurricane Irma. Prioritizing cleanup tasks and using their skilled labor under the guidance of our certified technicians was key.

Dealing with Flood Damage

Knowing the hazards that are present in flood damage is half the battle. Jagged debris, floodwater exposure, electrical hazards, contact with human or animal waste and slick/unstable surfaces are all things to be vigilant of when working in widespread flood damage that occurred in Hurricane Irma.

In addition to being aware of all these hazards, we had to make sure our certified technicians and skilled laborers:

  • Up-to-date on vaccines. The risk of being injured is increased during flood cleanup. It is very easy to come into contact with sharp objects. Being up to date on the tetanus vaccine helps if injury does occur.
  • Keep all wounds and burns clean at all times. To prevent wounds becoming infected, proper treatment of injuries or seeking out medical assistance is key.
  • Hearing safety. Excessive noise from clean-up equipment such as chainsaws, pavement breakers, blowers and dryers can cause tinnitus or hearing damage. We follow the CDC’s guideline: if you have to shout over noise to be heard, wear ear protection.
  • Keep foods and drinks high and dry. Due to dangerous bacteria in floodwaters caused by overflowing sewage, agricultural and industrial waste- we had to make sure we kept our food and drinks away from any contaminated flood waters.
  • Electrical hazards. Before we did any work on a damaged home or building, we made sure the electricity was turned off. If standing water was present where we were working, we did not use electrical tools or appliances.

As you can see, we had more on our mind than just restoring the damage! Many challenges and safety hazards are present in areas of widespread damage and setting proper safety protocols in place is key! Our 37+ years experience in dealing with disasters gives us the experience to know what to do to keep our workers and certified technicians safe.

Mold Prevention & Remediation

As soon as we could gain access to the middle and upper Florida Keys, we began the work of preventing further mold damage and remediating damage that had already started occurring. For each home or business touched by water damage, we had to:

  • Conduct visual inspections. This includes checking all the ventilation systems for damp filters or water infiltration. If HVAC systems were running (via generator), we immediately had them turned off to prevent mold spreading through the home or business. Anytime we deal with HVAC systems we have discovered are contaminated, we use N-95 respirators while working.
  • Remove any contaminated insulation and filters. We used a vaccuum that payed special attention to filter racks, drain pans as well as bends & horizontal sections of the HVAC system.
  • Proper diagnostic equipment. We have moisture meters, humidity meters, borescopes, wet mops/vacuums to give us the most through picture of what needs to be done to remediate the home or business.
  • Stop water intrusion. We worked with professionals in the area or skilled workers we had on our team to make sure further water intrusion would not occur. This includes leaks in plumbing, roofs or walls.
  • Remove moisture laden items. Carpets, carpet padding, rugs, upholstered furniture, foam items, books, wall covers and paper products were are all removed from the home or business immediately to prevent further moisture from growing mold and to allow for fresh air to dry them out.
  • Remove drywall and insulation. After the furniture and carpeting have been removed, the damaged drywall and insulation had to be removed or cut out.
  • Clean. All wet items that stay in the home need to be property disinfected to prevent mold growth. This includes flooring, concrete, molding, wood, metal furniture, counter tops, appliances and plumbing fixtures.
  • Report chemicals. If gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal burning devices are inside a building, we had to call other emergency services such as the fire department to make sure the structure was safe before we entered.

Restoring Community

The work we have done in the middle and upper Florida Keys has been instrument to restoring community. That is what we do here at ServiceMaster By Glenn’s. When a disaster strikes, we bring our team of equipment, knowledge of disasters and expertise of our certified technicians to quickly, swiftly and expertly clean up the water, mold, fire or smoke damage. If you experience any damage in your home or business, call our 24/7 hotline at 772-567-4435.

Mold Damage After Hurricanes

What is our secret weapon to find hidden moisture?

Currently Servicemaster of the Florida Keys is working diligently to restore the local residences in Marathon, Long Cay, Tavernier, Big Pine, Key West and Islamorada. The Servicemaster yellow trucks can be seen in the Hawks Cay and Ocean Harbor subdivisions. We are also busy on the Treasure Coast taking care of mold jobs caused by Hurricane Irma and recent tropical depressions from Melboune to Sebastian to Vero Beach, even south to Fort Pierce and Hutchinson Island. It takes a trained professional to properly dry out and remediate a home after a hurricane or storm. Some of the challenges may be:

  • There are pockets of hidden moisture that can be located throughout the home.
    You are not dealing with just a water leak. Hidden moisture can be lurking from a roof leak, window or door leaks, flooding or storm surge.
  • Living in a hot climate, humidity becomes another problem. Humidity coupled with extended periods of time without electricity will complicate the drying process even more. Under ideal situations, such as high humidity and no electricity, mold growth can begin to grow in as little as 24 hours.
  • Another challenge after a storm would be finding certified and qualified LOCAL companies to assist you in remediating your home. Check with your local Better Business Bureau (BBB) to verify a company’s reputation.
    When hiring a restoration company, such as Servicemaster of the Florida Keys, there are proper ways to dry out a home.

To properly restore a home from water intrusion and possible mold growth, you will need:

  1. The proper equipment. You must have the proper equipment. Some of the equipment we may use would be:  dehumidifiers, moisture meters, fans, and air scrubbers; but our secret weapon is the infrared camera! The infrared camera is a $10,000 piece of equipment that allows us to detect moisture hidden in walls and ceilings!
  2. Experience. The proper certifications and years of experience allow us to be able to seek out hidden moisture. There is a true science behind properly drying out each room. Each room needs a proper amount of fans and dehumidifiers to extract and dry hidden moisture.
  3. Proper Protocol. If mold has been present, proper protocol must be followed to ensure your home will be remediated properly and free of any future mold problems.
  4. Certifications. A Florida state certified mold remediator should be used to remediate your home. You must check the certifications on individuals you hire.

What are the best mold cleaning solutions?

When we come to clean your home and rid it of mold growth, we know you want to know what kind of chemicals we will be using to get rid of the mold. The two choices we have are hydrogen peroxide or chlorine dioxide.. which do you think is the most effective?

Hydrogen peroxide and chlorine dioxide are both approved by the EPA, have a very broad spectrum of use and are effective against antimicrobials.

Here’s the differences:

  • Hydrogen peroxide. This chemical does not actually keep mold or fungus from growing. It just removes the mold. It should be considered a cleaning product only. It will degrade in quality if a high quality water dilutent is not used. It has the potential to damage surfaces that are not acid stable.
  • Chlorine dioxide. As with hydrogen peroxide, this chemical does not actually keep mold or fungus from growing. It just removes the mold. It should be considered a cleaning product only. This chemical also attacks stains and odors and does not have the same strong odor as chlorine bleach. It is capable of damaging certain textile dyes and it will degrade in quality (as with hydrogen peroxide) if a high quality water dilutent is not used.

Both of these chemicals have been proven effective and work. They are both almost equal in mold remediation effectiveness. We choose which chemicals we will work with based on experience and the unique situation of each mold removal case.

Dealing with mold after the recent hurricanes? Servicemaster of the Florida Keys is here to help our locals and restore your peace of mind! Give us a call today at 305-664-4400.

7 Signs of Roof Water Damage

As Indian River County and St. Lucie County residents, we are very aware of the constant abuse our roofs take with the intense sunshine, sporadic weather, high humidity and of course, tropical storms and hurricanes. As summer kicks into full gear, so does the daily heavy doses that come from our rainy season.
Every year, from May to October, Florida has a typical schedule of very sudden heavy downpours that can eventually cause roof issues that occur over the course of time. In this article we will discuss the typical signs that may suggest a scan with our infrared mold scanner to determine there isn’t any water damage.

  1. Ceiling Stains. Do an inspection of your ceiling. Do you see any water stains?Even if you are not sure if they are “new” stains or not, it is best to get these checked out. If you should notice this, it is probably a good idea to immediately call the professionals to find out exactly where the leak is coming from. Typically leaks can start many feet from where the water ends up and is best to stop water from the source instead of just trying to seal where the water is coming in. These areas can be anywhere but over the course of time, a stain or mold will become noticeable no matter the paint color.
  2. Discoloring of roof. When standing in front of your house, do you notice different colors along the roof line? If there is then there might be a future issue as this typically is caused by a breakdown of the shingle and moisture is able to stay attached. Algae and moss prefer moist locations. If you start to notice excessive moss / algae growth after a dry period (during an abundance of wet weather if may be natural if the humidity is high for long period of time) then there is a chance that it is soaking in under the roof material and possible starting to cause roof rot or roof leaks.
  3. Shingles missing, curled or granular erosion. As you look up on your roof from the ground, can see random shingles “out of place” or lifted in any way? This is a sign that the shingle has lost some of its strength and is becoming brittle and worn. At this phase they most likely have already started to lose granules and these would be filling your gutters (if you have gutters) or spread on the ground around house base. Alternatively, if your shingles have already broken off and blown away, the first step is to identify as soon as possible and repair before it becomes to large of an issue. Missing shingles or damaged shingles will let water come in through your roof, causing water damage not only to the roof, but to your attic and other parts of your home.
  4. Have your roof flashing checked regularly. It is actually a common misconception that roof leaks are from the shingles, tile or metal seams, when in fact approximately 90 percent of leaks occur from the sealing around flashing. Flashing is the metal that is placed around vents, skylights, chimneys and edge of house. When this seal (tar) dries up and cracks, the result is pealing and bending of the flashing which leaves large gaps for water to flow in to. Open roof flashing can cause large amounts of water penetration, as this is basically an open hole in your roof. Water can run not only through your attic but down into your walls and cause mold damage.
  5. Attic condition. Generally speaking, if you can see that there is a heavy mildew smell in the attic then this is a prominent sign your might have a roof leak that is starting to soak into the insulation. Not only this harboring of water inside the insulation cause mold damage, mold growth on the insulation will cause mold damage as well. If you notice this smell in your attic, then it is definitely time to call us to do a infrared mold scan.
  6. Proper roof ventilation. In St. Lucie County and Indian River counties, the roof temps easily can go into the 120-130 degree temp and if the attic below is not venting, then it does not allow the shingles to cool properly. The other issue with this is if your AC duct work or air handler is in the attic, it will severely shorten your AC life expectancy as well. High temperatures can cause a poorly ventilated roof to develop mold damage as well as cause damage to your roof.
  7. Keeping the roof clear from debris and branches.  If this is not your typical chore, it might be a good idea to make it one. The tree that has branches scraping the roof can do major damage in short order as the wind blows. Or if branches and debris have fallen and are sitting on your roof, this can distort the natural flow of water. If debris remains for any period of time, this causes the water to find new paths and when this happens it can cause excessive wear on specific areas of your roof, eventually deteriorating the roofing material at an accelerated rate. The last part of this is keeping your gutters clear as much as possible. The gutters that can’t keep up with the draining water will give way to flooding waters at the edge of the roof and it will eventually start a trail back up the roof which can cause a roof leaking potential in very little time. If we were not talking about South Florida rainy season, it would not be too much to be concerned about, however, when 5 inches of rain can fall in under an hour, water has to go somewhere.

 

  1. These are just some of the main conditions that ServiceMaster By Glenn’s sees on a daily basis when diagnosing water damage from roof leaks. There are many other factors that can play a role in the roofing world: Age of roof, layers of shingles that have been placed, location of property (near water, in wooded area, or direct sunlight) and style of roof (flat / hip).In closing, your roof takes quite a beating from all sorts of natural and unnatural forces. In the Treasure Coast, we tend to see more issues that could be prevented from just having a professional water damage restoration company take a few moments each year to do a infrared mold scan of possible issues and start the remediation process immediately. Prior to giving us a call, do the following:
    • Do a perimeter check of your property to make sure no trees/branches are close or touching the roof in any place.
    • If safe, check your attic to see if you notice any mold on insulation or if you can see daylight thru your roof vents (ensuring air flow).
    • Check out the shingle conditions by looking straight up the roof from ground level to see if you notice any variance between shingle/tile location
    • If you have gutters, and can safely reach them, make sure they are clean at all times. During this check, if you have asphalt shingles check the gutter trough for large quantities of granules which might indicate wear on the shingles.
    • Depending upon your roof types, make sure you check out parts of the roof that have valleys where debris and water can collect.

    Your roof is your protection for your home and family, make sure you take the time to keep a keen eye on what is happening around it. As we begin another heavy rainy season, we definitely recommend being proactive and making sure you are consistently checking for any signs of mold or water damage. You can call us 24 / 7 / 365 if you spot any mold or water damage and we will be there within the hour to start the water damage restoration or mold remediation process.

Hurricane Preparedness in St. Lucie & Indian River Counties

hurricane preparedness vero beachThe longer you live in Florida, the higher your chances are that you will experience a hurricane! While most Florida natives have a general idea of what they need to do, you can never be over prepared. Ask anyone who has lived through a hurricane and they will tell you, preparation is key!

Basic Hurricane Preparedness Tips:

  • Know where you will evacuate. Having maps and designations of local hurricane evacuation routes is extemely hepful during the stressful situation of having to evacuate your home. Have a plan where you will stay and what supplies you will need to bring with you.
  • Be in the know. Sign up for text or email alerts for emergency notifications on weather events and hurricanes.
  • Organize your disaster supply kit. What should it include? Important documents (social security cards, birth certificates, etc), first aid supplies, cash, batteries, flashlight, sealed food and water.
  • Stock up. If you decide not to evacuate, you want to make sure you are prepared to camp in your house. Think about all the things you’d need for a camping trip. Put those same types of items away for hurricane preparation! Bottled water, canned or preserved food, sternos, grill or generator, bug spray (no A/C means you’ll be sleeping with the windows open), flash lights, batteries, candles, etc.
  • Know your emergency communication plan. Here at ServiceMaster By Glenn’s, we offer an Emergency Response Agreement. An E.R.A. is a non-binding agreement that allows ServiceMaster by Glenn’s to have the first opportunity to respond to your emergency needs. But more importantly, it provides a guaranteed response in the event of an emergency at your property 24/7 every day of the year, including holidays. You will never have to leave a voice mail. We are on-call around the clock for immediate response

Now that you have some basic disaster planning accomplished, let’s think about your home! Hurricane season runs May to November. NOW is the time to prepare your home for upcoming storms.

hurricane preparedness vero beachTips for Preparing Your Property For a Hurricane:

  • Trim vegetation. In addition to just the winds produced by a hurricane, hurricanes can have tornadoes in them. This is why it is imperative you trim or removed damaged trees or limbs. The last thing you want is for that dead tree in your yard to fall on your home in the middle of the storm!
  • Take a survey of the outside of your home. Are there any loose rain gutters or downspouts? Do you have loose roof tiles or shingles? Do you have any cracked or damaged windows? All these things need to be fixed ahead of hurricane season.
  • Get a generator. Waiting for a hurricane warning is too late to get a generator. Residents will flood their local home improvement stores to purchase this useful tool.
  • Designate your storm shelter. If the winds get really strong or if a tornado does hit you in the middle of a hurricane, make sure you have a FEMA safe room. View the guidelines to build a FEMA safe room.
  • Make sure your car is in good shape. If you find yourself needing to evacuate from a hurricane, you don’t want to be dealing with a flat tire or engine problems. Getting your car serviced and inspected is a great way to ensure you have reliable transportation away from the storm.
  • Get an emergency radio / TV. If the power goes out, your smartphones and tablets can only stay charged for so long! Make sure you have a good old fashioned emergency radio or TV to stay on top of weather conditions. Conversely, you can look into purchasing some solar powered device chargers as well!

You are in pretty good shape if you’ve completed both lists above. Now, it’s time to get educated about what the weathermen will be referencing during their 24 / 7 broadcasts.

What Do All the Hurricane Terms Mean?

Whether this is your first or 5th hurricane, sometimes the terms can be a bit confusing.

  • Hurricane watch means hurricane-type conditions could present themselves in the next 48 hours.
  • Hurricane warning means hurricane-type conditions could present themselves within 36 hours.

hurricane preparedness vero beachAlthough hurricanes can cause a lot of “camping out” and waiting for the storm (otherwise known as “hurricane parties”) there are some necessary things you should be doing when you go under hurricane warning or hurricane watch.

What To Do in a Hurricane Warning or Watch:

  • Bring your lawn decorations / furniture inside. Lightweight objects can become projectiles in a storm. You don’t want your patio furniture flying through your window or destroying the screen on your pool!
  • Cover windows/doors. If you do not have impact glass, make sure you are putting either hurricane shutters or plywood over your windows and glass doors in preparation for the storm. The best plywood to use is 5/8″ exterior grade or marine plywood.
  • Get a full tank of gas. You’ll notice the locals will all raid the gas station in the event of a hurricane warning or watch. Be ahead of the crowd and make sure you have a full tank of gas within hours of the warning or watch being announced.

Need More Hurricane Preparedness Information?

View our YouTube videos below that detail how to best prepare for a hurricane:

Here at ServiceMaster By Glenn’s, we hoped you’ve found this article useful on all the things you need to consider to be prepared with and to handle a hurricane. When it comes time to clean up after the storm, make sure you have us programmed into your phone (24/7/365 hotline: 772-567-4435). We have many years experience handling disaster restoration for projects big and small.

All About Mold: Preventing Mold Damage in Your Home or Business

Mold in your home or business is bad news.

Why?

Health risks such as allergy-like respiratory symptoms, irritation of your skin, symptoms similar to cold and flu, headaches, nausea and asthma induced by mold.

These are symptoms that can definitely impact your health! It is very important to know what causes mold growth so you don’t cause damage to your health and your home structures.

Let’s think about what causes mold damage.

  • Moist, wet areas like your bathroom. The bathroom(s) in your home are natural breeding ground for mold growth. When you take a shower or bath, moisture lingers and sticks to your bathroom windows, shower liner, walls, linoleum, grout, tiles, decorations or any other area of the bathroom. If you do not have your bathroom properly ventilated, this moisture will cause mold to grow in your bathroom.
  • Leaky plumbing. Moisture is what breeds mold. If you have toilets, sinks, or pipes dripping in your house- this is a perfect spot for mold to grow. If you don’t notice the leaky plumbing, you will start having standing water. This standing water can create a serious mold problem very quickly.

What should I do if I find mold?

The first thing you want to do is inspect closely to determine the extent of the mold damage. Look under sinks, check out exhaust fans, check out your pipes, even look under your bathroom shower door. Once you find the mold and can identify it, call a mold professional as soon as possible.
Why call a mold damage specialist?
Check out these mold profiles.

Cladosporium.

Cladosporium is one of the most common molds you’ll find indoors. If moisture is found on wallpaper or carpet, Cladosporium is usually to blame.

Cladosporium really grows anywhere mold is present. It likes to grow on carpet, walls or leaky pipes. When you find mold in these areas, Cladosporium is not the only kind of mold you will find. You will also find Aspergillus or Pencillium. The way to tell it apart from other molds is it takes on a olive green, brown or black look. This is the reason to not assume all black mold is actually Stachybotrys chartarum, the very harmful “black mold”. How can you tell the difference between the two? You have to call a mold specialist so you are not dealing with exposure to a very hamrful and destructive mold!

So why do we care about Cladosporium? When there is alot of it, people with allergies or respiratory diseases will start to become affected. You’ll start noticing itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose, coughing and other allergy-like symptoms. If your exposure lasts long enough, the presence of constant mucus in your respiratory system will lead to sinus infections and other respiratory infections.

Aspergillus.

mold damage restoration ft pierceAspergillus is another form of commonly found household mold. For people with normal immune systems, Aspergillus is pretty harmless. However, if you have a compromised immune system, Aspergillus can cause alot of problems for you.

So why do we care about Aspergillus? Since it is so common, Aspergillus is categorized into several hundred mold species.. this is why proper identification is key! Aspergillus is most often found in the Northern hemisphere and usually likes to grow on carbon-heavy items, such as bread, trees, potatoes or plants. In you home, this translates to damp walls, fans, wallpaper, filters, floorboards, HVAC insulation, carpets and more.

For the general population, Aspergillus is harmless. However, if you suffer from respiratory issues, you can develop aspergillosis. Aspergillosis claims thousands of lives every year.

Satchybotrys chararum (Black Mold).

While black mold isn’t one of most common types of mold to grow inside, it isn’t rare for it to. Black mold has a greenish-black color that grows only when moisture has been present for a long time. Water damage, condensation, excessive humidity and water leaks are all perfect growing conditions for black mold. This is usually why you see black mold be associated with storm or hurricane damage.

So why do we care about Black Mold? Black mold releases microtoxins. What are microtoxins? Microtoxins are a noxious substance that causes harm to people. What are the symptoms of black mold?

  • allergic reactions
  • memory loss
  • respiratory issues
  • lung infections
  • skin irritation
  • mold-induced asthma
  • nausea
  • headaches

Can I clean up mold myself? We recommend not attempting to clean up any kind of mold by yourself. A comprehensive mold remediation plan is the best course of action to make sure the mold is removed completely from your home.

The problem with trying to clean up mold by yourself is it is difficult to determine what kind of mold it is without prior experience or testing. All molds have the potential to be hazardous to your health and can have consequences on the structural integrity of your home. Once you see mold, you should take steps to have professionals come in and eradicate it immediately.

Ways to Prevent Mold

mold damage restoration ft pierceIn order to prevent mold growth in your home or business, here are some things you can do to keep mold from growing.

  • Don’t let pipes, faucets or shower heads leak. As soon as you see a leaky pipe, get it fixed.
  • Make sure your home and bathroom is well-ventilated. Don’t close up windows and doors for long periods of time (like when you leave for vacation).
  • Whenever you take a shower or bath, turn on the ventilation fan or open a window. Try to let the air circulate for 30 minutes.
  • Wipe moisure your tile or grout after use and don’t let moisture sit on your tile or grout.
  • When decorating, use mildew-resistant shower curtains or window curtains.
  • Keep the area rugs in your home washed frequently and make sure they are completely dry before you put them back on the floor.
  • Don’t leave wet towels or wet clothes lying around.

Here at ServiceMaster by Glenn’s, we have almost 40 years experience dealing with mold damage and mold damage restoration. Call the experts and don’t risk your health or your home’s health over mold. Call our 24 /7 / 365 hotline at 772-567-4435.