Mold Prevention with your HVAC System
HVAC vents and ducts are popular places for mold growth within our homes and places of business. HVAC systems provide a very humid environment, attracting mold growth. One thing to remember is that once mold builds up in an HVAC unit, these spores circulate throughout the rest of the home when being used. The best way to prevent this from happening is to properly care for our HVAC systems. Here are some guidelines to follow to make sure these are properly maintained.
1. Routine Cleaning & Inspection. Make it a habit to inspect and clean drains and drain pans monthly. Check and clean coils on a yearly basis. For best results, hire a professional to help you clean.
2. Replace your air filters every 3-6 months. Air filters help prevent particles in the air from clogging up the system. In doing so, air filters also provide a great place for mold colonies to grow.
3. Repair any leaks in the ducts. Not only is it an energy-waster, but breaks in ducts can cause condensation to drip, causing mold to grow.
4. Invest in a dehumidifier. Humidity levels in your home should be under 40%. Some A/C systems already come with one built-in so make sure to check before you buy a new one.
At the end of the day, calling a professional is better than embarking on a new DIY project. As much as we like to take care of our own homes, specialists have the right training & tools to help you. For air ducts & HVAC system cleanings, give us a call at 337-462-6500 to see how we can help.
Preventing Garbage Disposal Leaks
Repairing a garbage disposal leak can sometimes be an easy DIY fix. Other times, it can result in replacing the garbage disposal completely. The longer the leak isn't fixed, the more likely it is to cause water damage in your kitchen cabinets and floor. The best way to make sure you don't have to pay for all these expenses is to follow these DO's and DON'Ts of proper garbage disposal usage:
1. DON'T pour bleach down the drain. There are cleaning solutions specifically made for cleaning your garbage disposal.
2. DON'T overload your garbage disposal. Just like people, they can be overworked too.
3. DON'T put "hard foods" down the drain. Foods like apple cores and bones risk clogging and can lead to motor damage.
4. DO run cold water so fats don't turn into gunk that can lead to clogging.
5. DO perform routine checks at least 2 times a year or more.
6. DO take it a step further and consider using homemade cleaning solutions with natural ingredients.
Following these tips will not only prevent leaks but also improve your garbage disposal's longevity. If you are already experiencing a leak, there are plenty of articles that can let you know how to fix a leak depending on where the leak is coming from. However, contacting a plumbing pro is always the best solution so they can troubleshoot the issue properly.
If you have recently experienced a flood or leak, give us a call at 337-462-6500 to see how we can help.
6 Common Mistakes Before a Severe Storm
There are several guides available on how to protect your property from storms, including the "Storm" section on our blog page. Some things to consider as well are the common mistakes to avoid during a severe storm. Just as we like to practice an "always be prepared" mentality at SERVPRO, we hope to inform our clients on how to stay safe for times such as these. Here are some of the common mistakes to avoid:
- Underestimating a storm warning/watch. There's a reason why there's a National Weather Service, and these should not be taken lightly. Make sure to keep up with updates as these constantly change.
- Not evacuating or not evacuating in time. If you are able to evacuate, do so. Make sure to give yourself enough time before the storm hits.
- Not protecting your home. This includes securing any outdoor furniture, trimming trees, and any other objects that can potentially fly into your home in strong winds. For a full list of home safety tips, go here.
- Not having enough food and supplies. FEMA recommends preparing 2 weeks worth of food and supplies just to be on the safe side.
- Not preparing documents and medical needs. In case you’ll need to evacuate, make sure to gather all your important documents. It can be a headache trying to scamable and look for paperwork during a storm. Make sure to stock up on prescriptions, and plan for battery backup for medical equipment if applicable.
- Not having an Emergency Ready Profile ready. Do you know where your shut off valves are? Do you have a list of contacts in case of an emergency? Do you have a point-of-contact water/fire damage restoration person? Sometimes having this information beforehand makes all the difference in a severe storm.
George Allen, Sr. once said, “Winning is the science of being totally prepared.” Preparing for a severe storm isn’t any different. Give SERVPRO of DeRidder, Leesville & Vinton a call today to see how we can help you create an Emergency Ready Profile.
5 Myths About Water Damage Restoration
SERVPRO of DeRidder, Leesville & Vinton is ready to help you 24/7 when you experience water damage due to leaking or flooding. As water damage experts, we aim to inform our customers about what to expect if they find themselves in this situation. Here are some water damage restoration myths that we want to debunk:
- "Bleach kills mold." - A common DIY misconception is that bleach will kill mold. Although bleach will get rid of stains, it won't get rid of the mold's roots.
- "It's a DIY job." - Many homeowners may believe that they'll save money by fixing water damage on their own. In reality, many homeowners may actually end up spending more money than they've budgeted for. SERVPRO of DeRidder, Leesville & Vinton uses specialized equipment for the water removal and drying process. We also have highly trained professionals to identify the best remediation method.
- "Water will dry on its own." Just because you don't see water doesn't mean it's not there. Water has a way of hiding in your walls and flooring and may appear to look dry. Waiting too long to contact a specialist may result in mold growth, costing you more down the road.
- "It's a long process." - The SERVPRO crew is trained to act promptly in case of an emergency. We'll do an initial inspection, remove/extract water, start the drying process, and monitor your home until drying goals are met. The faster our crew is contacted, the faster we can get your home to pre-water damage condition.
- "Mold takes a long time to appear." If your home has experienced leaking or flooding, mold can show up as fast as 24-48 hours. Just like water, mold doesn't have to be visible on the surface to be present. The best way to know for sure is contact a specialist.
If you have experienced water damage or believe you may have mold in your home, call us at 337-462-6500 to see how we can help.
Office Safety Tips
Slips, trips and falls make up most of all workplace injuries. By establishing and following office safety rules, most accidents can be avoided. Here are some tips that businesses can follow to keep their workplace safe:
1. Replace light bulbs that are out, and make sure each room has enough lighting.
2. Make sure that electrical cords do not pose a tripping hazard.
3. Flooring issues such as cracks or breaks should immediately be repaired.
4. If there are any items on the floor, these should be picked up and put away. Trash on the floor should immediately be disposed.
5. Inspect places of storage, and make sure stacks of boxes are never piled too high that they may fall on individuals.
6. Report spills in the restroom, kitchen, and any other applicable area.
7. Keep a first aid kit in the office and let employees know where they can access it.
8. Do not block fire sprinklers. Items should not be within 18 inches of the sprinkler heads.
9. Do not block fire escape routes. Make sure there is a clear path in case of an emergency.
10. Do a regular walk-through of the office to make sure employees are practicing good safety habits.
The Most Common Types of Mold in Your Home
Mold can grow just about anywhere - in our home, our workplace, our backyard, etc. While there are over 100,000 types and species of mold, not all of them are harmful. In this post, we'll go over some of the most common types of mold that are found in the home:
- Aspergillus - This type is usually found in food & A/C systems. Since there are over 185 species, it can appear in different colors. It can cause allergy like symptoms, and respiratory issues in more severe situations.
- Cladosporium - This type can be black or green in color. Usually found outdoors, it can also be found or carried indoors. Indoors, this can grow on wood or in the back of toilets. This mold is non-toxic, however, may cause allergy symptoms, hay fever or asthma.
- Penicillium - Green or blue in color, it can also have a fuzzy texture with a musty odor. It can grow on wallpaper or carpet that has water damage. Exposure to this mold can cause allergic reactions or sinus infections.
- Alternaria - This black and fuzzy type can be found outdoors but can pretty much grow in any damp area. Common places for growth are under the sink, showers or windows. It can also start to appear after a home has experienced a flood. This mold can cause allergic reactions and asthma attacks if left untreated.
- Stachybotrys (black mold) - Greenish or black in color, this mold is found in damp areas with high humidity levels. Also referred to as "toxic mold", this mold releases mycotoxins that can cause severe health issues to those exposed. This can cause allergies, asthma attacks, breathing issues, headaches, fatigue and also depression.
Remember, just because mold isn't easily spotted in the home doesn't mean it's not there. If you've had leaking or flooding in the past, mold would usually appear within 24-48 or these events. Give us a call at 337-462-6500 to see how we can help or if you have general questions about mold and its effects.
It's March again in Central Louisiana, and the sun is finally out. If you've lived in Louisiana long enough, then you'd notice that the weather changes all the time. As pictured on the side, we're expecting a little bit of sunshine in the beginning of the week but may encounter thunderstorms toward the weekend. With that being said, it's always good to be prepared from stormy weather. Here are some tips that Louisianians and non-Louisianians can follow to stay safe from severe storms:
- Be aware of weather forecasts and listen to emergency warnings.
- Unplug electronics in your home to keep lightning from ruining them.
- Trim trees and remove dead or broken branches. These can be dangerous projectiles during a severe storm.
- Secure outdoor objects such as chairs and tables.
- Bring any outdoor pets inside.
- Have an emergency kit ready - ready-to-eat food, water, flashlight, batteries, etc.
- Learn first aid and have a first aid kit on hand.
- Pick a safe place in the house that's away from windows.
- Prepare your family and make sure everyone is on the same page.
Creating an Emergency Ready Plan
About 50% of businesses do not recover after a disaster. Of the ones that did survive, majority of those businesses had an emergency plan in place. We cannot predict when disaster will strike, but we can protect our businesses be being prepared. SERVPRO of Deridder, Leesville & Vinton offers an Emergency Ready Profile to help you at times like this. Here are reasons why you should have an Emergency Ready Profile (ERP):
- This document consolidates information you will need in case of an emergency. Instead of having multiple documents, the ERP will put together this information for you in an organized manner.
- The ERP contains all emergency contact information, as well as contact information of maintenance companies.
- The ERP will map out your building so you’ll easily be able to find information such as shut-off valves.
- You will have a SERVPRO point-of-contact nearby who you can call in case of an emergency.
- Our team will already have a layout of your building, helping us prepare and arrive more quickly to any disaster.
- Last but not least, the assessment is completely free!
Call today at 337-462-6500 to see how we can help you! Please view our home page for a list of cities that we service.
4 Signs of Water Damage in Your Home
When your home experiences a flood, broken pipes, leaking or excess moisture, this can lead to water damage. Just like mold, water damage isn’t always easily noticeable. A few things that you can take into consideration when looking for water damage are: change in odor, discoloration, peeling, and change in texture.
- Change in odor - Hidden water that goes untreated will give off a strong, musty smell. Possible areas you can check are the basement, ceiling, walls, floors, etc.
- Discoloration - Water that has seeped into walls and ceilings will create water spots and stains. These can be yellowish in color, sometimes brown or copper.
- Peeling - Water that's been absorbed into drywall can cause paint to lose adhesion. This then causes bubbling, cracking and/or peeling.
- Change in texture - There are four different types of changes in texture - buckling, warping, sagging, and expansion. In buckling, the moisture causes deformation in the drywall which eventually leads to it cracking. Warping occurs when there are gaps present in between the boards, and the changes in temperature or humidity might cause “curling”. When drywall and ceilings absorb extra water weight, sagging may occur as it becomes too heavy to support. Expansion occurs when boards swell up from absorbing too much water.
Regularly inspecting your home not only gives you peace of mind, it can also save you a lot of money in the long run. Treat your home right, and it will be good to you for years to come.
If you notice signs of mold in your home, please give us a call today to see how we can help.
Other Sources of Water Damage
When we think of “water damage”, flooding or pipe bursts are usually what first come to mind. Water damage isn’t always caused by drastic events. Other several factors that happen in our homes can lead to water damage, such as:
- Toilet, Sink and Tub Overflow - Overflowing water will flood the bathroom floor and seep into the flooring. Make sure to fix any noticeable plumbing problems in the bathroom, especially since this area is highly susceptible to mold growth.
- HVAC Systems - Condensation line leaks can welcome mold growth into these dark spaces. Perform a condensation line inspection and cleaning every 3 to 6 months, along with the air filter replacements.
- Dishwasher - A dishwasher that isn’t properly sealed will cause a leak on your kitchen floor. While using too much water for one load can also cause a leak, consistent leaking should be inspected and repaired.
- Garbage disposal - Proper garbage disposal usage not only prevents leaks and potential water damage, it also improves its life span. One tip is to avoid pouring grease or oil down the garbage disposal as this can cause drain clogging.
- Basement - When warm air hits a cool surface such as your basement, condensation is created. By reducing the humidity, you are reducing basement condensation. One way to do so is by using a dehumidifier to absorb excess moisture.
One good rule of thumb is to immediately fix issues with plumbing and kitchen appliances. HVAC systems, basements and crawl spaces should also be monitored regularly as these areas can invite mold growth.