Recent Posts

Protein Fires

1/17/2020 (Permalink)

Protein fires result in smoke damage from the burning of any protein enriched fibres, most commonly due to neglectful cooking. Unlike any other structure fire where there is lots of visible smoke from fast-burning materials, the low temperature of cooking food (in comparison to the high temperature of structure fires) reduces the animal fat and protein to a fine mist. This specific type of fire does not appear to produce much smoke or cause significant visible damage to your property, but the ‘mist’ it produces will cover your entire home or business in an invisible, sticky, foul smelling residue. This residue can penetrate your range hood, cabinets, ducts, closets, textiles, ceiling tiles, insulation, the paint on your walls, and any other porous surface in your home or business.

The techniques necessary for restoring your home and belongings after a protein fire are unique and require special expertise that only professionally trained technicians are knowledgeable about. Everyday household cleaners will not remove the residue – this includes anything from floor cleaners and bleach to dish soap and laundry detergent. Every inch of your home and every piece of contents that is affected needs to be treated with specialized products.

SERVPRO of Fenton/South Ballwin uses specialized products and application techniques that will be implemented in stages to ensure the pores and fibers throughout your home or business are thoroughly cleaned. This process is spread over multiple days. One application of one product may be enough to restore a bathroom cabinet down the hall from your kitchen, but the cabinets directly above your stove may require removal or several applications of two or three different products for more intensive odor control. It all depends on the type of food that was burnt, how long it burned for, the temperature it burned at, and the layout and type of materials in your home or business.

 If you experience a protein fire, your best chance at fully restoring your home or business is a call to SERVPRO of Fenton/South Ballwin. We are always here to help!!!

How to Beat the Freeze

1/12/2020 (Permalink)

Once the temperature starts dropping outside, you should take measures inside to keep your pipes warm and water running. Research conducted by the Building Research Council at the University of Illinois shows that the “temperature alert threshold” is 20° F, especially if you have uninsulated pipes running through an uninsulated space.  

Some of the steps experts recommend may go against your better instincts of conserving water and heat, but the extra expense is nothing compared with a hefty repair bill. Here’s what to do:

Keep garage doors closed, especially if there are water supply lines in the garage.

Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing, especially if your sinks are on an exterior wall. (If you have small children, be sure to remove any harmful cleaners and household chemicals.)

Let the cold water drip from a faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe—even at a trickle—helps prevent pipes from freezing.

Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature during day and night. Again, during a cold snap is not the time to set back the thermostat at night to save a few bucks on your heating bill.

If you plan to be away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.

For the long term, add insulation to attics, basements, and crawl spaces. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in those areas. And to prevent drafts, seal cracks and openings around windows, doors, and at sill plates, where the house rests on its foundation. SERVPRO of Fenton/South Ballwin is available 24/7/365 to assist if you have damage due to frozen pipes.

How to protect your home from Flooding

10/28/2019 (Permalink)

When protecting your home from flood damage, assess the risk flooding poses in your region and your house specifically. You should then try to carry out a range of preparations and renovations, such as applying a sealant to any foundation cracks and  checking with your insurance company to determine if any addition coverage for flooding is available. 

The first step to flood protection is to determine how likely you are to suffer a flood in your area, and how well your house is built to withstand it. The FEMA Flood Map Service will show you the general flood risk of your region. After you enter your zip code, click "View web map," to see your area's flood zones, and click "show all products for this area," to see reports of your region's flood history. 

Here are some areas to improve the flood protection of your home:

  • Install foundation vents, or a sump pump
  • Check with your insurance agent for additional coverage
  • Repair any foundation leaks or cracks
  • Raise your electrical outlets and switches
  • Grade your lawn away from the house
  • Make sure gutters are clear and direct water away from the house

For any additional questions on how to protect your home or business from flooding call us at (314) 858-1688

Removing Moisture from Materials

9/9/2019 (Permalink)

The rate at which moisture moves through materials depends upon two primary factors: the type of material affected and the degree of wetness. The type of material affected will vary in permeability (ability for water to pass through the material), hygroscopicity (ability to absorb water), thickness, density, temperature and "R" factor (resistance to heat transfer). 

Each of these characteristics will influence the way in which water travel through the material. The degree of wetness will influence the moisture movement, in combination with other material characteristics, by indicating the type of water being addressed. Water will be present in one, two or three forms:

  • Surface Water
  • Free Water 
  • Bound Water

Surface water is readily available at the surface of a material. It is liquid, visible and will evaporate readily. All materials are capable of supporting surface water. Surface water is best removed physically using mechanical extraction equipment or other physical means. Minute amounts of remaining surface water are readily evaporated using large amounts of airflow and moderate temperature and humidity. 

Free water is present within a material but is not bonded. It exists in cavities, open pores and other air spaces within the material. It is liquid, generally visible by a darkening of the material (e.g., wood) and can evaporate readily. Most materials are capable of supporting (containing) free water. Materials not capable of retaining measurable amounts of free water are non-permeable, non-porous materials such as vinyl, vinyl composite, steel, rubber and some other solid, synthetic materials. 

Bound water is absorbed by the material and held captive by chemical bonds. It is similar to vapor in that it is not fluid, yet similar to a solid/liquid in that it is bonded to other molecules. Because it is bound to other molecules, it must first be freed before it can be removed.

Respiratory Protection from Mold

8/26/2019 (Permalink)

The human body can be exposed to contamination in three ways: by dermal (skin contact), inhalation (respiratory) and ingestion (consumed). The most common way of providing protection is the use of personal protection equipment. One such piece of equipment is a respirator. Respirators come in a variety of styles, with different levels of protection, and are rated according to their protection factor. 

Before using a respirator, all of our technicians will receive effective training on respirator usage. According to OSHA's "General Duty Clause," an employer is required to provide a safe work place for employees. Thus any company doing microbial remediation would have to provide a respirator-training program that would include medical evaluations. In this training our technicians are trained how to put on and take of a respirator, how to care for their respirator, what a respirator will and will not protect against. There are additional requirements for wearing a respirator that include a medical evaluation of the technician's lung capacity and a fit test to assure protection. 

For microbial remediation work that is performed by technicians, the cartridge almost always used is a HEPA filter. A HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) fliter removes 99.97% of particulates down to 0.3 micrometers. With this level of protection, virtually 100% of mold spores will be filtered out and not enter the lungs. 

Two Drying Methods

8/19/2019 (Permalink)

After making the decision of whether or not to dry a material, Project managers begin evaluating how to begin the restoration work. Many methods are available - each applying a different combination of humidity control, temperature, airflow and physical manipulation of the material (e.g., injection of airflow, perforation, removing finish materials). 

Our Project Managers use the information obtained during evaluation of materials to help select the best drying method for the job. Generally there are two primary methods to promote drying of affected structures: 1) disruptive methods and 2) aggressive methods. 

Disruptive Drying Methods

Disruptive drying methods involve removing wet items, injecting air to speed drying, or perforating surfaces to allow water to evaporate. The term disruptive is used because repairs will have to be done after the structure has been dried. Use disruptive methods when contamination, damage, cost or customer concerns require removal or manipulation of the affected material. 

Aggressive Drying Methods

Aggressive or "in-place" drying methods involve leaving wet items in the structure and drying them in-place using warm, dry direct airflow. Aggressive methods are used when contamination and damage are not concerns, and when it is cost effective to dry an item instead of replacing it. 

Project Managers will use aggressive drying methods when all of the following are true:

  • The water intrusion came from a sanitary source (Category 1).
  • Drying carpet and underlay (pad, cushion) in place will not cause structural damage to subfloor (especially hardwood).
  • Adequate dehumidification is available and usable on site. 
  • Deep extraction tools are available. 

The success of each decision made during the restorative drying process depends on the information upon which the decision was based. A skilled technician with quality meters will make the proper decision at each phase of the project. 

HVAC Systems: Affected by a Fire

7/15/2019 (Permalink)

HVAC systems condition the air within occupied interior spaces. They ventilate and supply warm or cool air through an air conveyance systems referred to as ductwork. HVAC systems typically have a cold side, or return air, and a hot side, the supply air. An air filter system is normally strategically located on the return side, somewhere before the blower motor compartment. Most air filters are engineered to capture smaller airborne contaminants in order to protect the blower compartment components.

Although HVAC systems all have the same purpose, they vary greatly in design. Soot and smoke odor removal is relatively easy in some types, especially metal ducts. However, following a structural fire, soot contaminates coat most interior fiberglass surfaces. Fiberglass duct insulation is easily contaminated due to the volume of air spaces within the insulation matting. When ducting becomes exposed to smoke odor gases and particulates, PICs penetrate deep within the fiberglass fibers used to insulate the ducting. An HVAC system that was operating during a fire will certainly be more heavily contaminated than one that was turned off; however, systems become contaminated even when they were not operating during the fire. 

An inspection of the HVAC system will determine when the complete system requires cleaning. In heavy soot contamination situations, restorable mechanical components within the HVAC system should be disassembled, cleaned and deodorized in accordance with published NADCA standards. NADCA stand for National Air Duct Cleaners Association. 

What is Microbial Contamination?

6/3/2019 (Permalink)

What is Microbial Contamination? Where does mold come from? Is microbial contamination a health concern issue? How do you properly get rid of a microbial contamination? 

Microbial contamination refers to a variety of microorganisms, including mold, bacteria, viruses and protozoa; and fungi, which includes molds, yeasts, and their by products and toxins. All of these can affect the health of a building and its occupants. 

As a starting point the proper job sequencing for a typical microbial-remediation project includes but it not limited to: identifying and stopping the source of moisture; setting up containment; establishing negative air; removing contaminated building materials; cleaning surfaces; drying the affected areas; conducting a post remediation evaluation. 

Mold spores are a major concern for our project managers. Because of their very small size, mold spores can be anywhere there is air, including under carpet, inside wall cavities, under kitchen cabinets, virtually everywhere. Molds are usually not a problem unless mold spores land on a damp spot and begin growing. They digest whatever organic material they grow on in order to survive. Some molds grow on wood, paper, carpet, foods and insulation, while other molds feast on the everyday dust and dirt that gather in the moist regions of a building. Generally mold spores are hydrophobic. This means that spores do not like water itself. While mold spores need water to colonize (germinate and grow), they like wet organic substances, not a puddle of standing water. 

Hazard Awareness and Risk Assessment

5/27/2019 (Permalink)

The first line of defense against safety hazards is awareness. A hazard inspection checks for any work-site situation that potentially poses danger to life or property. Project managers must then perform a risk assessment on all potential hazards found on the work site. The assessment evaluates the risk or likelihood a particular hazard will cause harm. Due to the unsafe nature of most water damaged structures, hazard inspections and risk assessments are essential for protecting workers. 

The initial hazard inspection and risk assessment of a water damaged facility would involve three important aspects. The first step is to identify hazards that could give reason not to enter the building, such as wet electrical panels and collapsing ceilings. The second step is to identify the presence of regulated building materials such as asbestos, lead or PCB's (polychlorinated biphenyls). Government-regulated substances may require testing or inspection services from specialized. Third-party experts to assess health and safety issues. Finally, a competent technician conducts a risk assessment and installs or implements the necessary hazard controls for any identified hazards. 

Installation of Air Movers

5/20/2019 (Permalink)

Air movers specifically distributed to ensure proper distribution of air.

Air movers are placed in the environment to ensure rapid evaporation across all affected surfaces. The number of air movers necessary depends upon the number of wet surfaces, the amount of water present, and the ability for air to reach each wet material (e.g., wall cavities, behind cabinets, and under contents).  

The IICRC S500 Standard recommends that air mover installation quantities should be based on the amount of wet surface area in affected spaces. For the initial phases of drying, air movers should produce continuous airflow across affected material surfaces. A step-by-step process for determining the proper number of air movers is: 

  • Place one air mover for each affected area.
  • Add one air mover for every 50 to 70 sqft. of affected floor area.
  • Add one air mover for every 100 to 150 sqft. of affected wall surfaces (above 2') and ceiling surfaces.
  • Add one air mover for every room offset or inset greater than 18 inches.

This calculation should provide an appropriate amount of air movement for most water intrusions, but can vary depending of the situation and type of materials affected. 

Once the number of air movers to be installed has been determined, several factors will influence their actual placement. These factors include: the type of material affected, the degree of saturation, the accessibility of the actual wet surface, power availability and equipment availability. Below are some general guidelines for installation of air movers: 

  • Air movers are directed toward the wall at a 5 to 45 degree angle, depending on the type of air mover. 
  • The air mover's snout will almost touch the wall, within in 1 to 2 inches. 
  • All air movers in each area will face the same direction to ensure that air movers are not pushing against each other. 
  • When placing air movers, we need to consider the need for circulation throughout the affected area. 
  • Specialty air movers may be necessary if building cavities require air flow.