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Job of the Quarter: Q3 2019

7/17/2019 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Job of the Quarter: Q3 2019 Ken Matejek and our storm team celebrating their last night as SERVPRO heroes in the Iowa floods

We typically use this portion of our quarterly newsletter to describe a particular job we produced that sparked an out of the ordinary sense of pride and accomplishment by our team members. After reviewing the losses we have serviced throughout the 2nd quarter of 2019, it quickly became apparent that is was not just a singular job, but a new branch of our franchises’ business that has brought a sense of achievement to our team. 

Ken Matejek has been an owner/operator of SERVPRO of Plymouth/Wareham, Massachusetts for 10 years. He bleeds green and believes wholeheartedly in the SERVPRO brand, but found what brought him the most joy and gratification was in helping those folks across the country affected by catastrophic storm situations. Ken took the leap of faith to simplify and focus his life on what he truly enjoyed. It was bittersweet, but he closed the doors to his Massachusetts franchise and began a partnership with Team Wall to make his passion for helping people in need a reality. 

Since our partnership’s inception earlier this year, Ken and members  of our travel storm team have helped service losses all over the country. They have been a part of Chicago’s deep freeze in February, Minnesota and Iowa’s spring floods in March, a microburst of flooding in June affecting a small portion of Central New Jersey, and most recently the DC floods this July. Between all of these storm travel experiences, we have helped over 115 homeowners nationwide make it “Like it Never Even Happened”. We are thankful Ken took that leap of faith to join our team and create a residential catastrophic storm response team that makes such a difference throughout our country. We’re looking forward to highlighting many more of their SERVPRO hero stories.

Surviving Summer Storms

7/15/2019 (Permalink)

Torrential rain and flash flooding hit the nation’s capital and various areas of Maryland, notably Frederick, Maryland, during the July 4th holiday weekend. The tremendous amount of rain that the thunderstorm carried caused widespread flooding, which transformed streets into rivers and caused even The White House basement to flood. Thunderstorms are most common during the summer due to the surplus of moisture in the air as well as rising warm air. These two factors combined together create prime conditions for thunderstorms. With their prevalence throughout the summer season and sporadically during the rest of the year, it is important to understand the threats to homes and businesses posed by the lightning and flash flooding brought by thunderstorms.

Damage Caused by Lightning

Lightning can cause both physical and electrical damage to homes and businesses if the building is directly hit by lightning during a thunderstorm. Lightning can burn through roofs, rip shingles or gutters from the building, and even tear into attics. In terms of electrical damage, lightning can increase the risk of an electrical fire igniting. Electronic appliances inside of your home, such as computers and refrigerators, can be harmed or destroyed if left plugged into an outlet during a thunderstorm.

Damage Caused by Flash Flooding

When a flood strikes your home or business, especially one like that which dumped excessive amounts of rain on Frederick, Maryland and Washington, D.C this past weekend, water levels can rise quickly and inflict a significant amount of damage. The flood water can carry mud and sediment, therefore contaminating the water and whatever it touches in your home or business. From this water damage, mold can grow and spread if the affected area is not remediated quickly. Flood water commonly affects drywall, flooring, and electrical systems such as cooling and heating systems, so it will be crucial to assess these areas for damage after a flood. On a larger scale, flood water can move houses or buildings off of their foundation, so be sure to watch for signs of that as well.

What to Do After the Storm

Immediately following the storm, survey your home or building for any visible indicators of lightning or water damage. This includes making sure that electrical breakers, outlets, and light switches are still functioning, checking plumbing systems for any leakage, and looking for any visible signs of water damage to items within the house or building. While cleaning up any damage, be sure to turn off all water and electrical systems so that when the electricity is restored, the water and electricity do not react with one another, which would result in further damage.

What to Do When Your Washing Machine Floods

7/15/2019 (Permalink)

Considering how often we use washing machines in our daily lives, simply the idea of them  inopportunely breaking and flooding is one that evokes dread and an aggravated groan. Unfortunately, washing machines can flood and strike at any moment if a seal or hose inside the machine breaks. When this does occur, cleanup must be hasty in order to protect surrounding objects from the harmful effects of water damage.

When you notice that the washing machine is flooding, immediately turn off the water to prevent any more water from escaping and unplug the washer to eliminate the chance of electric shock during the cleanup. Be sure to also empty any clothes out of the washing machine while you clean up. Use towels, a mop, or a wet water vacuum to remove any standing water from the surrounding area. To dry out the area, turn on fans and dehumidifiers. You could also open windows if the weather is pleasant. Sanitize the area and replace any items that could not be salvaged after the flood. Examples of such items usually include carpets and walls, which can be replaced by the instillation of new carpet and fresh drywall.

There are several things that you can do in order to prevent your washing machine from flooding. Refrain from using too much detergent when running loads of laundry, as excess detergent can create too many suds, which can overflow. Regularly check the condition of the washing machine’s hoses and be on the lookout for corrosion, which can signify that they may be on the verge of breaking. Be sure to also monitor the drain line, as it can cause the washer to flood if it becomes clogged.

How to Prevent Grease Fires

7/8/2019 (Permalink)

From the title of a hit musical to its use as an industrial lubricant, grease plays a variety of roles in our lives, but it may be surprising to many that grease is also a common instigator of kitchen fires. It is crucial to prevent grease fires from starting in your home, as they can get out of hand rather quickly. Consider these do’s and don’ts in order to protect your home from the detrimental effects of grease fires.

Before cooking, do make sure to remove any combustible items, such as towels or cookbooks, away from the cooking space. Next, pay close attention when cooking. The majority of grease fires are caused when no one is monitoring what is cooking. Grease fires can ignite and grow in a matter of seconds, so looking away for even a quick moment could enhance the risk. If you’re planning on drinking cocktails before dinner, save those drinks until after you’ve finished cooking dinner, as cooking while intoxicated can increase the risk of accidents occurring or misjudgment, which can subsequently increase the chance of a grease fire igniting. Keep a metal lid close by when cooking in case a grease fire ignites, as you would need to smother this particular type of fire in order to put it out. It would also be wise to keep baking soda handy, since it can also be used to put out grease fires, but only if the fire is small.

When cooking, don’t throw food into the hot oil. Doing so can cause the oil to splatter and potentially catch fire when met with a hot burner. Exercise caution when placing food into the oil by slowly and carefully dropping the items into the oil, especially if the food was previously frozen. Allow frozen food to thaw before cooking it in hot grease. Also, do not throw liquid onto a grease fire if one breaks out, as doing so will cause the fire to spread.

What Causes Pipes to Leak?

7/8/2019 (Permalink)

Leaky pipes is a common cause of flooding in homes, which can ultimately lead to water damage. By understanding what causes pipes to leak and learning how to identify warning signs, you can prevent water damage due to leaky pipes in your home.

Corrosion can eat away at pipes, rusting and consuming them until they begin to leak. Be sure to keep your eyes out for any discoloration of the water or warping of pipes, as these can be signs signifying corrosion, alongside any common visible signs of corrosion, such as rusting, on the pipe itself. Ways to avoid pipe corrosion include inspecting pipes before buying a home to make certain that they are in decent shape, having the pH of your water professionally tested, and stifling any leakage with sufficient clamps until professionals can repair the damage.

When pipes are installed, seals are secured in order to attach water connectors. These seals can break with age and/or wear, which can result in flooding. You can tell that seals are breaking or have broken if there is condensation present on the pipes or if there are any puddles of water gathering on the ground beneath the seal. In order to prevent the seals from cracking and breaking, watch for the aforementioned physical signs of broken seals and refrain from neglecting to run water for extended periods of time. Doing so can dry out the pipes and cause seals to crack. If you leave to town for several days, it might be wise to ask a neighbor to stop by and run the water to make sure that everything is working properly.

Rapid and drastic changes in temperature can force pipes to expand and contract, which can cause the pipes to crack under pressure and therefore, leak. A heightened water bill, a musty smell around the drain, and changes in water pressure or its flow can indicate broken pipes. To prevent pipes from freezing in cold temperatures, allow warmth to circulate by opening cabinet doors, running water through the pipes, and keep your thermostat set at a consistent temperature.

Preventing Water Damage To Carpets

7/1/2019 (Permalink)

What Causes Water Damage to Carpets?

Whether you’re dealing with flooding, leaky pipes, or any other household event that can cause water damage, wet carpets are an issue that should not be taken lightly. Water damage in carpets can be caused by plumbing issues, weather, or buildup of water in areas such as basements or attics that collect water.

How Can I Detect It?

Water damage is not always evident in carpets, so it is important to be aware of other warning signs that could signify it. A foul, musty odor that won’t go away when the area is cleaned and constant illness or allergy symptoms of family members or pets living in the house are signs that water damage to carpets is occurring somewhere in the house. Another physical indicator of water damage to carpets is discoloration of the affected area.

What Will Happen If It Isn’t Removed?

Leaving such water damage to sit would be unwise, as it causes harm to the sub-floor in addition to the carpet itself. The longer the damaged carpet remains untreated, the risk of mold and mildew growth is amplified. Once it grows in the carpet, it cannot be destroyed through cleaning and would therefore have to be eliminated through complete removal. It is crucial to get rid of mold and mildew, as it can contaminate the home’s air supply, which can cause detrimental effects to the health of anyone living in the home.

What Can I Do To Prevent This?

To eliminate water damage to carpets, the moisture should be removed using a wet water vacuum. Furniture surrounding the affected area should be checked for damage as well. Dry out the room by opening windows and utilizing fans or a dehumidifier. The carpet padding that lies under the carpet should also be replaced. When it comes to treating the specific area, it can be steam cleaned to remove dead mold spores or baking soda can be sprinkled onto the affected area and then vacuumed. It would also be wise to scrub carpets and walls within the room to prevent further mold growth. Trust SERVPRO to sufficiently re-mediate any water damage to your carpets.

Preventing Fire Damage in Your Home

7/1/2019 (Permalink)

Preventing Fire Damage in Your Home

What Causes Fires in Homes?

It is important to recognize common flammable household items in order to prevent fires.

Some of these objects including anything from kitchen items such as flour and oranges to hair spray, shaving cream, and even hand sanitizer.


Hot plugs and sockets as well as blown fuses can often serve as instigators of fires in homes. Exploded wires can spark, thus resulting in a flame, but a flame does not need to be present in order for there to be a risk of fire.


Caution when smoking indoors must be taken, as neglecting to completely put out a cigarette, falling asleep with a cigarette still burning, and the use of improper ashtrays can lead to fires in homes.


Lighting candles in a home can increase the risk for fires to start in homes. Drafts of wind, such as those emanating from nearby open windows, can push candle flames toward flammable objects, thus resulting in a larger fire. Neglecting to keep candles in proper candle holders can also increase this risk.


Certain combinations of household objects can increase the risk for a fire to spark. Among those combinations are: open fire and grease, electricity and water, and keeping linens/clothes next to heaters. Fireplaces can also instigate fires if they are not protected by a screen or glass doors.

5 Tips For Avoiding Fires in Homes

  1. Routinely check and maintain heating sources
  2. Test smoke alarm batteries once a month
  3. Replace frayed wire cords immediately
  4. Keep fire extinguishers handy
  5. Keep hot surfaces clear

Emergency Ready Profile App

6/28/2019 (Permalink)

As much as 50% of businesses never fully recover from a natural disaster. The overwhelming majority of the businesses that did fully recover from these events had prepared a readiness plan ahead of time. Pre-Planning can serve as a type of insurance policy that provides not only the peace of mind in case a disaster does happen, but also lessen the mental stress that comes from the fear of an event happening in the first place.

There are a multitude of different types of disasters that are easy to lose track of, and none of them are less important than the others. From a small water leak to a massive fire or flooding, there’s no downside to being as ready as possible

As such SERVPRO has developed the Emergency Ready Profile (ERP) app for mobile smart phones and tablets. This is a great tool that is completely free at no cost to you, and provides many convenient and simplified processes that allow you to create and maintain your ERP with the least amount of stress or confusion as possible.

The process is very streamlined and doesn’t take very long to fill out at all and will not take you away from other important projects. The profile also establishes your SERVPRO of choice and simplifies the process of authorizing work to begin on the damage relief which can save you time and money.

Perhaps the most convenient aspect of the profile is having a quick reference for facility details such as shut-off valve locations, priority areas and priority contact information which gives you immediate access to information during an emergency so you can be “Ready for whatever happens.”

Flooding in Iowa

6/22/2019 (Permalink)

This May, SERVPRO crews traveled to Burlington, Iowa, after 13 inches of rain inundated the region over a 2-day period. Along with rain, golf ball-sized hail, high winds, and tornadoes rocked the area, resulting in widespread flooding as well as the flooding of nearby rivers.

At the time, Iowa also happened to be recovering from a major snow melt, which flooded the Missouri River earlier in the year. A record-breaking 25 inches of snow fell in Des Moines, Iowa during February of this year. After the extensive snowfall, the ground was unable to absorb any more liquid due to the soil saturation, and the 13 inches of rain spread across the ground, flooding highways, roads, and homes. SERVPRO received approximately 30 job files and three crews were sent to Iowa for this restoration.

Flooding can contaminate and damage drywall, support beams, and the foundation of homes. The damage to homes consisted of wet finished basements that range from 500 square ft to 3,000 square ft, wet flooring, walls, and content. The risk for mold to grow is most heightened during the first 24 hours of the flooding, so remediation had to be hasty.

The most rewarding aspect of working the Iowa storm was the ability to help flood victims’ lives return to normal as well as the good feeling that arises from helping those affected by the floods!

Broken Pipes in Chicago

6/22/2019 (Permalink)

In Chicago, Illinois, five consecutive days of  -50 degree temperatures froze over the windy city, turning The Chicago River to ice in its path. These frigid temperatures were then followed by a heat wave just shortly after the deep freeze, with temperatures soaring into the upper 40s and 50s. This radical shift in temperature caused Chicago homeowners’ pipes to break.

This occurrence is not, however, specific only to Chicago. Pipes can burst and initiate flooding wherever conditions are favorable. The water carried by pipes tends to freeze over when faced with negative temperatures, so when those subzero temperatures rise, the water begins to thaw and the pressure inside of the pipes increases until it reaches its maximum. The pipes then burst, resulting in flooding.

Flooding caused by burst pipes can trigger a wide range of water damage: carpets and even walls can be prone to water damage as a result of burst pipes and basements can flood. Mold commonly grows in flood-damaged homes or damp areas, as the moisture allows for mold to grow and multiply. To protect against mold, objects that cannot be cleaned, such as drywall or ceiling tiles, should be removed, while items such as glass or ceramic may be cleaned.

SERVPRO was presented with about 30 job files and three crews were required to confront the issue. Among the factors motivating the crews to make the journey to Chicago were the elation surrounding the prospect of helping victims to recover and devising a plan to combat the widespread flooding.