Recent Posts

Hoarding Concerns? Call us!

8/3/2021 (Permalink)

Room with piles of "contents" on floor, counters, shelf, etc. Have you someone in your life that this room could be in their home?

If you are a landlord, property manager, or another housing professional, you may be concerned about the possibility of a hoarder renting your property. After all, not only does this behavior create fire safety issues, indoor air quality problems, and potential health effects, it can also damage the property where the hoarder lives. Learn what degree of damage can occur and the potential legal ramifications for tenants who hoard.

Property Damage Caused by Hoarding

  • Vermin infestation: Cockroaches, rats, and flies are attracted to rotting food and animal waste, so they may be present in severe hoarding situations. The presence of vermin in a property not only spreads disease among the people and animals living there, but it can lead to holes in the cabinetry, stains on the carpet, and other property damage.
  • Mold growth: Hoarders often hold onto food, even after it has gone bad. Spoiled food in the refrigerator, on pantry shelves, and sitting out for days, weeks, or even months harbor mold growth. This may easily spread to the walls and floor of the rental unit, damaging the property in the process.
  • Plumbing damage: In extreme hoarding situations, clogged drains may be difficult to access for repair purposes, resulting in sewer backups that leak into the floors and cause sanitation issues.
  • Pet damage: Some hoarders attempt to care for dozens or even hundreds of animals. Unsanitary conditions often result, with urine and feces saturating every surface and making the space a serious health hazard.
  • Structural damage: It’s possible for hoarders to collect so many belongings that the sheer weight of it all causes structural damage. The problems listed above can also lead to concerns regarding a home’s structural integrity.

Laws Against Hoarding

There are no laws that prohibit hoarding, but there are rules against the problems that hoarding can cause. Hoarders have the right to manage the objects in their home as they see fit—as long as their behavior doesn’t violate housing codes or their obligations to maintain the dwelling. Examples of violations that could justify an eviction include:

  • Causing direct property damage to a rental unit
  • Blocking emergency exits
  • Interfering with fire sprinklers or ventilation systems
  • Keeping explosive materials onsite
  • Storing perishables in such a way that they attract mold or vermin
  • Housing animals in violation of the lease agreement
  • Landlords may seek monetary compensation for damages to the property caused by hoarding behavior.

How to Evict a Hoarder

If the person who hoards is cooperative, it’s best to avoid a court-ordered eviction unless absolutely necessary. Remember, hoarding disorder requires patience and encouragement on your end. It also can be someone elderly you are dealing with and you need to take a different approach.  Regardless of how you handle it remember they could have a much deeper issue than just hoarding.

Get Help Restoring a Property Damaged by Hoarding

If your previous tenant was a hoarder, and now you need help cleaning up the property before you find a new renter, reach out to SERVPRO of Columbia & Suwannee Counties. Cleaning and deodorizing are two of our specialties, as is mold remediation, so we’re confident we can restore your rental unit to pristine condition. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule services.

Ready for Whatever Happens? We can help you!

8/3/2021 (Permalink)

Green square with 50% in the middle You don't want to lose your business when you can be prepared for anything. Call us now to be prepared!

Do you have an emergency readiness plan  (ERP) if disaster strikes?

One moment everything is going fine and the next you’re facing water damage, fire and smoke damage, flooding or even sewage back up. It’s too much to face alone and you have to many possessions to save.

We at SERVPRO of Columbia & Suwannee Counties have a disaster clean up plan ready for your home or business if you find yourself facing these difficult situations.

We are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week to assess the damage and provide you with a quote.

Depending on the type of loss you suffer it’s important to mitigate the damage by treating the source. Then depending on the damage the cleanup phase may very there may be cleanup where items will be brought to our facility and cleaned for safe keeping.

Finally the restoration of the structure itself can begin.

Does your ceramic tile or grout need a professional clean?

8/1/2021 (Permalink)

Kitchen floor with tile and cabinets Ceramic tile and your cleaning needs

We offer some assistance on how to keep your ceramic tile and grout maintained.  When you get to the time you need a professional clean, just call our office.

Sweep or vacuum the ceramic tiles in a walkway to keep scratches from marking up the tiles. Protect the flooring with a rug or doormat. Encourage your family to wipe their feet on the mats both outside and inside to protect the ceramic tiles from dirt and grime.

Weekly washing of the ceramic tiles after sweeping is ideal. Use a simple combination of mild dish detergent and hot water to gently cleanse the ceramic tiles. Sponge mops are not advised, as they will push grime deep into the grout. Experts recommend using a strip mop head instead. When mopping, change any dirty water immediately, or the flooring will end up with a dull and grey appearance.

Completely air dry the freshly washed tiles or absorb any excess water with a clean towel. This important step prevents accidental slips on the wet floor.

Take care to wipe up messes on the ceramic tiles. Tracked mud or spilled juices should be immediately cleaned up with a damp cloth, mild dish detergent and warm water.

Warm water and a stiff brush can effectively clean grout.

Bathroom grime, like soap, mold and mildew, may make cleaning grout in this location troublesome. However, applying elbow grease and well-chosen cleaning solutions make cleaning grout less of a burden.

Warm water and a stiff brush can effectively clean grout. Spray warm water along the grout and scrub with a circular motion to dislodge dirt particles.

Tougher stains can be removed with an application of vinegar and warm water. Simply spritz the stains with a mixture of half part water and half part vinegar, let stand for five minutes and then scrub the grime away.

If the packed dirt remains along the grout lines, create a paste with baking soda and water. Apply the paste along the grout, then spray with the vinegar mixture as noted above. The mixture will begin to foam. Once the foaming comes to a halt, scrub away the stains with a brush and clean water.

Hydrogen peroxide is an alternate household product that can be effectively used in place of the water when creating the baking soda paste. Or, simply apply only the hydrogen peroxide directly upon the stains to loosen them and ease cleaning.

Commercial cleaners, such as those containing bleach, can be sprayed upon the grout to rid them of stains. However, powerful chemicals like these tend to erode grout over the long term.

Experts recommend steam cleaners as another method to clear out the grime from grout. Homeowners will find steam cleaners to be environmentally friendly.

Weekly wipe downs with a spritz of vinegar and water will keep the grout in your home free from stains. Professionals even suggest regularly wiping the grout with alcohol to stop mold and mildew.

When your home’s ceramic tiles have accumulated massive amounts of dirt and grime, it’s time to call in a professional tile and grout cleaning service.  Our technicians begin the cleaning process of your home’s ceramic tiles with stain pre-treatments using eco-friendly cleaning products. Advanced cleaning technology is used to thoroughly rid the dirt and grime from within the grout lines and along the ceramic tiles. All corners and baseboards are efficiently cleaned. 

Clean ceramic tiles and completely restore them with the help of our experts at SERVPRO of Columbia & Suwannee Counties. Dull, stained or dirty ceramic tiling and grout can sparkle like new once our technicians expertly tackle the unsightly mess!  We can also seal the grout if you prefer.  

Understanding Water Damage & Contamination

8/1/2021 (Permalink)

3 photos - toilet overflowed, sink overflowing & rising water in a laundry room. Do you know the 3 types of water damage? We can help you understand!

Did you know that there are three different types of contaminated water that can cause water damage? The three different types of contaminated water are clean water, gray water, and black water. Companies like SERVPRO of Columbia and Suwannee Counties specialize in mitigation for each type of water damages associated with the contaminated water.

  • Clean Water:

This type of water generally comes from a clean source like a broken water supply line or faucet. Depending on the time it has been left, the temperature, contact with bacteria, and surrounding contaminates, this water can quickly become gray or black water. This is the most common type of water damage.

  • Gray Water:

This type of water and water damage can cause discomfort or illness as it likely contains bacteria and illness. When left untreated, gray water will quickly become black water and the water damages associated with black water is much worse.

  • Black Water:

This water and its water damages generally spawn from sewage, biological hazards, or flooding from rivers and streams. If left untreated, it will cause microbial growth, severe illness, and even possibly death.

The best solution when there is any kind of flooding or water damage is to have it treated as soon as it is noticed. Hiring a professional company like SERVPRO of Columbia and Suwannee Counties is recommended as they can give advice on why the flood occurred, the category of the flood, and how to prevent water damages. If you have any questions regarding SERVPRO of Columbia and Suwannee Counties, contact the office at (386) 754-0261, visit the website, or message us on Facebook!

What to Do After Storm Damage, Repairs, Tips

7/1/2021 (Permalink)

Home with huge gray storm clouds over it What to Do After Storm Damage, Repairs, Tips

Knowing the right steps to take after storm damage can go a long way toward protecting you and your family, as well as your property and finances, from risks of further loss. As challenging as storms can be, learning the steps to take before a storm comes through and turns your life upside down will arm you with the knowledge you need to stay prepared. Here are some tips from the restoration and cleanup specialists at SERVPRO of Columbia & Suwannee Counties.

Five Things to Do After Storm Damage

You can mitigate some of the damage caused by a storm by following this checklist:

1. Check your home for damage. 

While not all storm damage will be apparent immediately after the storm has passed, checking your home's condition will give you a clearer picture of the extent of the damage left by the storm.

SERVPRO of Columbia & Suwannee's experts provide a word of caution to take all the necessary safety precautions when checking your home since unexpected damage may cause injuries. Watch out for loose or exposed ceiling tiles or floorboards, broken electrical lines, and slippery floors. Fortunately, some safety tips can help:

  • Avoid standing water
  • Avoid checking for storm damage in the dark.
  • Watch out for exposed nails, window damage, collapsed walls and roofing materials, and broken glass
  • Switch off the electricity and shut off the main gas line before entering a damaged home

2. Assess the potential damage

During a storm, some areas in a home are more susceptible to damage than others. One site that is often vulnerable is the roof. Common signs of roof damage include:

  • Split seams
  • Dented, missing, or broken shingles
  • Holes in the roof
  • Leaks in the ceiling or roof

Other areas that are susceptible to storm damage include doors and windows. Inspect all windows for damaged frames, broken panes, cracks, and holes. Remember to board up any broken windows.

Also, assess your home's exterior, looking for damage such as dents, holes, cracks, and chipping to any brickwork, paint, or siding. The storm could have also damaged outdoor appliances such as air conditioning units.

Taking all the necessary precaution, be sure to remove debris from the gutters and roof, and then check that the downspouts are intact and unobstructed so they can continue diverting water away from your home. Remember to check for mold, which is common after flood damage.

3. Get in touch with your insurance carrier.

Document the damage and loss that has been caused by the storm, taking photos before removing or moving any objects or debris. Remember to document any additional costs incurred due to the loss, such as hotel receipts or other temporary living costs.

Once all this information is together, contact the insurance provider to determine whether your insurance plan covers the damage caused. Likewise, inquire about the steps to take to make a claim.

4. Attend only to the damage you are capable of handling.

In some cases, the storm might not have caused extensive damage, and you may be able to restore what little damage exists with a few repairs before seeking professional repair services. Prompt repairs can go a long way toward limiting the damage. 

If that's the case, you should begin with what you can fix yourself, taking care not to cause additional damage. For example, if wind and water are getting into your home through a broken window, board it up as soon as possible. However, if you're not confident in your repair skills, it's best to get in touch with a company that can offer emergency repair services.

5. Choose the right contractor.

The next step is to hire a professional and trustworthy cleaning and restoration service company to restore your home to its former glory. Choosing a contractor that will promptly attend to your home's restoration, take care of water damage, and immediately mitigate the presence of potential mold is critical. 

It's essential to ensure that your house is once again a habitable, healthy living environment. That will likely require water cleanup (flood cleanup) and mold removal by a specialized commercial cleaning service.

Getting Back to Normal

While storms can wreak catastrophic damages upon a home or commercial building, promptly addressing the storm damage—first, to make emergency patches and then to take care of longer-term restoration—will go a long way in getting your home or business back to normal. 

Why SERVPRO?

SERVPRO is a leading storm damage restoration company that has served Fort Worth for upwards of 50 years. They can handle all aspects of the restoration process, from water removal to debris cleanup.

For more information about storm damage cleanup and restoration, contact SERVPRO of Suwannee Counties.

Storm Damage Restoration: What to Do After the Storm

6/8/2021 (Permalink)

A table and chairs setting in water on a vinyl that looks like wood floor What to do after the Storm Comes through

Storm Damage Restoration: What to Do After the Storm

“April showers” are sometimes much more than just a bit of rain. Spring weather can include a wide range of weather activity, such as severe storms with powerful winds that can cause serious damage. Or — heavy rainfall that leads to over-the-ground flooding, or even flooding from streams and rivers.

Severe spring weather can thus result in costly storm damage repair. So, when the storm is over, it’s important to know what to do, as well as what NOT to do. If you’ve experienced storm damage of any size, follow these key storm damage restoration tips.

Insurance

  • Take photos of the damage and show them to your insurance agent as soon as possible.
  • Homeowners insurance generally covers sudden, accidental damage.
  • Let’s say there was a thunderstorm with high winds, and your roof suffered damage and is now leaking. Or, a tree falls onto your house and damages your roof. In these cases, your homeowners policy will typically cover the expenses.
  • However, some homeowners policies may have windstorm and hail exclusions. That means your policy will not cover damage caused by those perils. To learn about any exclusions in your coverage, read your policy or talk with your agent.
  • Also, flooding from natural disasters is generally not covered. For that, you will need separate flood insurance that you can get from The National Flood Insurance Program.

Automobiles 

  • Automobiles can easily be damaged by floodwaters, tree limbs, or falling debris.
  • If an automobile is damaged, always notify your insurance agent.
  • Cover broken windows if the car appears salvageable.
  • List valuables in your car that have been lost or damaged.

For professional flood repair services, contact SERVPRO of Columbia & Suwannee Counties

Regardless of the circumstances — damage from storms or floods, fire, smoke, or mold, call SERVPRO.   Our mitigation experts are standing by to provide storm damage restoration to return the property to a preloss condition. They are well-trained and use the latest state-of-the-art science. We can help you determine the full extent of the damage and perform services following industry standards and best practices.

How to Prepare for Hurricane Season

6/8/2021 (Permalink)

Circular clouds in a swirl going down to the ground Hurricane Preparedness Tips

Officially, hurricane season starts on June 1 and ends on November 30. However, in the Eastern Caribbean and along the US East Coast, the peak season runs mainly from mid-August through mid-September. Hurricanes are powerful and unpredictable storms that can cause immense damages in their path. For you to stay safe and protect your property during a hurricane, preparedness is critical. Check out how to prepare for hurricanes and what to do during and after one.

Hurricane Preparedness Tips

Before the Hurricane

  • Create an emergency kit. FEMA recommends packing the following items in your emergency kit:
    • Water for drinking and sanitation to last at least three days;
    • Non-perishable food for at least three days;
    • Hand crank or battery-powered radio (tuned in to NOAA Weather Radio), as well as spare batteries;
    • Flashlight with extra batteries;
    • First aid kit;
    • Whistle to call for help;
    • Dust mask, plastic sheeting, and duct-tape for shelter making;
    • Moist towelettes and garbage bags for sanitation;
    • Pliers or wrench to turn off utilities;
    • Can opener;
    • Local maps;
    • Cell phone with an extra charger.
  • Learn your area’s flooding risk and community hurricane evacuation routes. Know the geographical location you live in.
  • Create a family evacuation plan. Determine a meeting place for your family and routes to get there. Plan how to get in touch with your family if separated. Plan where you’ll go if you must evacuate, such as a shelter.
  • If you don’t have flood insurance, get one now. Regular homeowners insurance policies don’t cover flood damage.
  • Find out whether your property is flood-prone due to its elevation level.
  • If there are levees and dams in your area, find out if they pose a hazard to you when the storm hits.
  • Store copies of important documents, such as proof of ownership of any property in your emergency kit.
  • Back up the data on your electronic devices to ensure it’s secure if your computer or other devices are damaged during the hurricane.

Secure Your Property:

  • Secure your roof. Make your roofing and frames stronger by installing reinforcements, such as straps or clips. Also, secure loose shingles with heavy-duty adhesive and seal around your home’s chimney or vent pipes to keep water out.
  • Maintain gutters and downspouts. Clean your gutters and downspouts regularly to prevent clogs. These could cause water damage to your home when the rain starts to pour. Also, ensure your gutters are firm and not sagging.
  • Secure your windows. Strong winds can shatter your windows, leaving your home vulnerable. The best way to secure your windows is to install permanent storm shutters made of steel, aluminum, and other materials. Installing plywood is also a good defense for your windows. However, avoid taping as it doesn’t prevent the glass from breaking.
  • Caulk your home. Caulking is a fast way to waterproof your house and reinforce vulnerable areas. Caulk around your windows and doors, the edges of your house, and around chimneys and other roof penetrations.
  • Insulate the outside first floor walls with rigid foam or install plastic sheeting. It won’t stop all the water from getting in, but the insulation will keep out most of the silt.
  • Reinforce your garage. To make it withstand powerful winds, secure your garage door with a brace kit rated for storm and hurricane winds. Other ways to strengthen your garage door are installing a metal post system or covering the door with metal panels, fabric screen, or 5/8-inch plywood.
  • Trim trees and shrubs. Loose branches in your yard (and neighborhood) could be struck by powerful winds during a storm, damaging your house. So cut those dead or loose branches to safeguard your property.
  • Secure loose objects. Your yard may also host things that could become projectiles in high winds. Tie-down and secure anything that could be swept up by winds, such as potted plants, lawn furniture, and dog houses. When a storm is imminent, bring light objects inside.
  • Protect appliances from power outages. While you should unplug electrical devices during a powerful storm, it’s also ideal to purchase a surge protector. It prevents damage to your devices in case the power goes out.
  • Move valuables to a higher floor. As electronics and appliances are susceptible to water damage, move them to a higher floor. If you can’t, at least raise them off the floor on concrete blocks.
  • Use sandbags when a storm is hours from arriving. Pile up sandbags at least two feet high as an efficient barricade against floodwaters. If you don’t have sandbags, place heavy-duty garbage bags – filled one-third of the way with water – around your house doors.
  • When a storm is hours from arriving:
    • Ensure your car in good working condition and fill up the gas tank. If you’re going to evacuate, stock your vehicle with emergency supplies.
    • Charge your cell phone to have a full battery if the power goes out.
    • Turn your refrigerator to the coldest setting so that food lasts longer during a power outage.
    • Be alert for the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.

During the Hurricane

  • If authorities advise or order you to evacuate your area, take your emergency kit and leave immediately. Strictly follow posted evacuation routes and do not try to take shortcuts.
  • If you are outside and the storm approaches, get indoors as soon as possible to avoid being hit by flying debris.
  • If your home is on the low-lying ground or if you’re in a mobile home, go to the nearest safe place, such as a shelter.
  • While indoors, stay away from windows, skylights, and glass doors. Find a safer spot to stay in, such as an interior room or a bathroom on the lower level.
  • During the storm, winds and rain may damage electrical wiring; don’t use electrical appliances to avoid fire hazards and electrical shocks.
  • If your home is at the risk of flooding, turn off electricity at the main circuit breaker. Don’t turn on electricity until local authorities have advised you to do so.
  • Never use gasoline-powered or charcoal-burning devices inside to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep those devices outside.
  • If trapped in a building that’s flooding, go to the highest level. However, don’t climb into a closed attic, as rising floodwater may trap you.
  • Lightning is also a safety risk. Stay safe from lightning in your home during a storm by NOT using the shower, phone, or electrical equipment.
  • Be aware that the eye of the storm may pass over your area, during which the storm will calm. However, the storm can start again without warning.
  • Stay indoors until the local authorities have announced that the storm is over. Listen to the radio or turn on the TV (if safe, do so) to get the latest updates.

After the Hurricane

  • Listen to authorities for information and special instructions.
  • Never walk or drive on flooded roads or through the water. Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away. Floodwater may also contain contaminants, dangerous debris, or downed power lines.
  • Enter a damaged building only after a professional has inspected the electrical system, gas lines, and plumbing for damage.
  • Take photos of any property damage and contact your insurance company for assistance. Wear protective equipment such as gloves, safety glasses, rubber boots, and masks when inspecting your home.
  • Don’t touch wet electrical equipment, more so if you’re standing in water.
  • Throw out food that has been exposed to floodwaters or has not been maintained at a proper temperature. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Don’t drink tap water if you’re not sure it’s safe.

For flood cleanup services, contact SERVPRO 

Water damage in your property can still occur even if you have followed proper tips on preparing for hurricanes. After a flooding incident, everything that got wet in your property must be dried, cleaned, and disinfected immediately. For water removal services and mold cleaning services, contact SERVPRO immediately. Our team will arrive at your location promptly to avert further water damage and mold growth.

Fire Safety tips for Boating

6/5/2021 (Permalink)

Moving Boat in the water with people in it Be Prepared if your Boat has a Fire!

Summer is almost here, which means it’s boating season. Whether you are trying to sneak in some lake time or preparing to head out for a bit of fishing, fire safety on the water should always be a priority. Boat fires are more common than you think. Common causes of boat fires include equipment failures, fuel leaks, or poor fueling practices. Be prepared.  Make sure you have the correct fire suppression equipment to prevent or extinguish boat fires. Here are some handy fire safety tips for boaters.  

Which Kind of Fire Extinguisher Should Be on Your Boat?

The United States Coast Guard has requirements for the number of portable fire extinguishers to be carried on engine-driven recreational boats. For any boats under 26 feet, the requirement is at least one two-pound fire extinguisher. For boats between 26 and 40 feet, there should be at least two (2) 2 lb. fire extinguishers or one 2.5 lb extinguisher. For boats that are between 40 and 65 feet, the requirement is three (3) 2 lb. fire extinguishers. For detailed information, you can visit Boat US at www.boatus.org

The type of fire extinguisher used for your boat fires is critical. Many boat fires are of electrical origin, but that is not always the case. Picking an ABC fire extinguisher will ensure that fires can be safely extinguished. You will be protected while boating this way.

Typical Causes of Boat Fires

The most likely origins of boat fires are electrical panels, galley cooking appliances and the engine compartment. Given this information, it is not shocking that a lot of boating fires are caused by fuel and electrical systems. Most boat fires are caused by issues with 12-volt DC electrical systems associated with batteries or engines located inside the engine compartment. Poorly maintained wiring within an enclosed area containing gasoline or diesel fuel is a common source of fires. Overloaded outlets and faulty plugs can create dangerous scenarios. Cooling system failures and the resulting overheated engines are also a source for fires.

Grilling Safety

6/3/2021 (Permalink)

Grill with flames coming out of it When the warmer weather hits, there’s nothing better than the smell of food on the grill.

Busting out your grill during the sunny summer months should mean fun, family and some beautifully cooked food. However, it could also mean a house fire or trip to the emergency room if done wrong.

That statement might sound a little pessimistic, but there are stats to back it up!

According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) an average of 19,000 patients per year end up in the hospital because of grill-based injuries and gas and charcoal grills combined cause around 4,200 house fires and 5,600 external fires per year.

Grilling Safety Tips

  1. Only use propane and charcoal grills outdoors
  2. Give your grill plenty of space
  3. Keep your grill stable
  4. Keep children and pets at a safe distance
  5. Keep your grill clean
  6. Don’t leave a grill unattended 
  7. Start a gas grill with the lid open
  8. Light charcoal in a charcoal chimney
  9. Never apply lighter fluid to hot coals
  10. Shut down your grill properly
  11. Have a plan to put out a fire
  12. Watch out for flare-ups
  13. Learn some basic food safety

Here at SERVPRO of Columbia & Suwannee Counties we want you to have an amazing summer full of fun but if you find yourself with damage we will be here for you!   Just make the call to 386-754-0261!  Have a happy and safe summer!

Roof Damage, Rising Water or Wind Damage - SERVPRO handles it all!

6/2/2021 (Permalink)

Home with two trees laying across the roof showing damaged roof From the roof to rising water to wind damage.... call SERVPRO if it happens to you.

During a storm if you are taking shelter while the storm takes place you will need to be careful when vacating the safe area. Your homes structure could be jeopardized because of the strong winds, and if the rain drags out water might have invaded the structure. First thing you will want to do is make sure everyone is ok call first responders if needed, and then assess the property for damage.

A home hit by a storm could have many dangers present afterward. Things like exposed glass, nails and wood can be laying around.  Possible gas leaks inside the home or outside.  If your house has suffered storm damage and has a lengthy repair process, be selective about who you trust with the restoration process. What is the point of rebuilding your home just to have terrible craftsmanship, malfunctions and other nightmares?

Let SERVPRO assist you to make it "Like it never even happened." We service the areas to include Lake City, Jasper, Live Oak, Lake Butler, Chiefland, Lee, Greenville, Wellborn, and Madison just to name a few.