Recent Posts

Grilling Safety Tips

6/17/2019 (Permalink)

It’s finally summertime! If you’re like the rest of us, you’ll be getting out the grill, cleaning it up from winter’s storage and using it on a regular basis. Are you a charcoal griller or a propane griller? Either way, there’s nothing like the taste of a meal cooked on an outdoor open grill.

Let’s go over a few basics before you place that T-bone on the grill:

  1. Have you checked to make sure everything is clean from last year?
  2. Is everything in good working order? (better get it fixed before you try to use it)
  3. Are you using new charcoal? (old charcoal may be hard to light)
  4. Is the propane tank full? (you don’t want it to run out of propane in the middle of cooking)
  5. Make sure you have all your utensils and/or ingredients before you start grilling. (nothing worse than having to stop and run back to the kitchen for a missing ingredient)
  6. Make sure you are far enough away from the house and/or any structure before lighting the grill. (you don’t want to catch any other structure on fire in the event of a wind shift)
  7. Make sure your grill is always attended by an adult. (children can be curious but this can cause serious injury)

In the event that your grillin’ goes awry, things get out of hand, and a fire happens. Of course, your first call is to 911. The second call is to SERVPRO of Sussex County at (302) 856-9768. SERVPRO can help restore your property should an accident occur.

Have fun grillin’ this summer – but be a smart griller!

HVAC System Maintenance Saves Dollars and Makes Sense!

6/10/2019 (Permalink)

At SERVPRO of Sussex County, we respond to water losses at both residential and commercial properties on an ongoing basis.  We find that many of the cases share a common denominator – a faulty HVAC system.  Typically, when we find out the details, we find that the system has not been inspected recently or not at all.  Generally, the cost of an annual HVAC system inspection is about $200 - $300.  The cost of a recent water loss at a local popular hotel was over $40,000.00.  A hose had broken and water flooded three floors.  We have also responded to local homes where the system shut down during the winter and the pipes froze and burst.

   The small investment of $300 or less can offer many benefits in addition to saving money.  These include cleaner air quality, a healthy environment, increased safety and overall peace of mind.  A clean HVAC system prevents the build-up of potentially harmful indoor airborne contaminants; therefore making the indoor environment of your home safer and healthier.  If your home or business is not comfortable due to changing temperatures; this may also be a symptom of a faulty HVAC system.  A compromised system may not maintain the expected thermostat temperatures causing the occupants discomfort. If rooms are too hot during the summer or too cold during the winter – it may be time to have the system checked. 

   Regular inspections and maintenance will also make your home safer since a faulty system can lead to water losses, mold and dirty air quality.  A faulty HVAC system may also create carbon monoxide exposure from a failed heat exchanger.  A healthy HVAC system consumes less fuel and minimizes our carbon footprint; so the environment benefits as well from good maintenance as well.

  A preventive maintenance plan may remove most of these worries and provide peace of mind from unwanted and costly damage and repairs.  If you need a reference for a good HVAC company – please reach out to us at SERVPRO of Sussex County and we will be happy to offer a reputable source.      

Mold....Truth be Told

6/3/2019 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Sussex County is a leading local mold restoration provider. Our office receives many calls throughout the year regarding this concern. We also find that there is much misinformation that feeds into a general fear and misperception about growth suspected as mold. Hopefully, some factual information will give some new perspective on this issue.

Growth suspected as mold can grow in warm, damp and humid conditions. Mold reproduces and spreads by making spores. Mold can be good – such as penicillin and it can also be harmful. Typically, if you control moisture – you will control growth suspected as mold. Moisture control can be achieved through the following protocol:

  • Identify potential problem areas in your home that could provide the wet environment which mold needs to start and thrive. Areas such as your basement, windows and entry points may leak and these areas should be corrected.
  • Dry problem areas immediately. Generally, it takes mold 24 to 48 hours to form; so a quick drying effort will deter such a problem. Also – do not leave wet items lying around your house.
  • Proper Ventilation is the key to moisture control. High moisture areas such as kitchens, laundry rooms and bathrooms should have adequate ventilation and air flow to maintain dry conditions.
  • Equip your home with mold resistant products. Mold resistant drywall and paint are valuable toward mold prevention.
  • Monitor indoor humidity. You can purchase a moisture meter to measure from your local hardware store.
  • Maintain a water free perimeter around your home. Keep gutters clean and flowing properly away from the structure. Also, make sure your roof is structurally sound.
  • Allow and improve air flow inside your home.
  • Check indoor plants for mold and clean them if found. Mold loves plants – moist soil is a breeding ground for mold.

Another important tip is to educate yourself about your local climate and be aware of peak times and conditions for high humidity. If you feel that you have a mold problem; please call SERVPRO of Sussex County at 302-856-9768.

The Tornado Myth

5/27/2019 (Permalink)

The Tornado Myth

There is no doubt that Delmarva has its share of storms. We encounter occasional Nor’Easters, severe thunder storms and snow storms. There have also been several hurricanes that have affected our area over the years; some were severe – most fortunately were not. The most recent storm event occurred on 4/15/2019 and spawned something extremely rare to our area – a tornado.

I would say that there have been maybe three tornadoes or suspected tornadoes over the last thirty or so years on the Eastern Shore. Typically, our location being between two or three large bodies of water seems to offer respite from such severe weather events. Strong fronts are usually weakened by the presence of warmer air which those water bodies seem to produce. The event that occurred this past Monday morning proves that we are not immune to the power and destruction that a tornado can cause. The images from Laurel and Seaford are almost unimaginable – some families last everything. When you see a huge tree broken or uprooted or an entire roof torn off a structure you can finally understand just how powerful and deadly a tornado can be. I toured the most severe areas the following day and short of hurricane damage it was the worst I had ever seen firsthand.

The SERVPRO Disaster Recovery Team can provide help whether you're dealing with a tornado, hurricane, blizzard or flood.TheSERVPROSystem has a network of strategically positioned storm teams on standby should a disaster strike near you. Available 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, we are prepared for the unpredictable.

With the ability to mobilize local command centers, along with the resources of more than 1,700 Franchises nationwide, no disaster is too big.Recent mobilizations of the Catastrophic Storm Response Teams include:

  • 2014 Polar Vortex
  • 2012 Sandy
  • 2010 Nashville floods
  • 2008 Ike
  • 2007 Chicago floods
  • 2007 Ohio floods
  • 2007 California wildfires
  • 2005 Katrina/Wilma/Rita

If you have suffered any storm related damage and need assistance – please call SERVPRO of Sussex County today at 302-856-9768.

The Value of SERVPRO

5/20/2019 (Permalink)

The Value of SERVPRO

Full disclosure, I have worked for multiple SERVPRO franchises for over 15 years and my family has been involved with SERVPRO for almost 25 years.  It’s easy for me to talk about the value of SERVPRO, especially to me personally.  SERVPRO has provided me and my family food on the table, a roof over our heads and many opportunities that we consider ourselves lucky to have.  I’ve gained lifelong friends and had experiences that has enriched my life.  For most of you, you may not have had the same experiences I have had.  In fact, you may not have wanted to call SERVPRO at all…. (don’t worry, we get it). That is why I wanted to share a difference experience I recently had that made me realize even more the value of SERVPRO.

A few weeks ago, we experienced a large rain storm.  I believe we had about an inch of rain fall in about an hour.  My gutters couldn’t handle it (and yes, they needed to be cleaned as well) and the basement door area was submerged in water.  Admittedly, we do get some water in a corner of the basement from time to time, but never more than a small amount.  This time the entire basement was affected, including my music studio area (carpets, equipment, soundproofing, instruments, etc. all got wet).

I began (after many choice words yelled into a pillow) by moving contents, extracting water with a shop vac and trying to get mitigate the best I could.  Now, at this point I am already appreciating the hard work our crew does every day.  I’m tired from doing all this work by myself (and to be honest, I have not done the field work in a while and not as conditioned as I once was) and my shop vac is not nearly as strong as our extractors and needs to be emptied every 2 minutes.  After about 4 hours of work, that our crew would do in less than a ½ an hour…, I had taken the necessary steps and was ready to continue drying.  So, I set up my Dehumidifier (standard basement one from hardware store) and couple of box fans throughout.  Immediately I knew this was going to cut it.  The fans were not powerful enough to lift the area rugs, let alone force air into affected walls, etc.  and the dehumidifier was not big enough to capture all of the moisture in the air and required emptying constantly.

Over the next few days I moved the fans around and repositioned area rugs, etc. to help them continue drying.  Within 36 hours my basement (and now whole house) smelled like a wet dog and water stains were now setting in with more permanence.  Eventually things dried out (about 7 days), but not before damage was done.  I ended up throwing away 4 area rugs, removing/replacing the bottom 2 feet of all soundproofing/insulation and lost about $400 worth of equipment (not necessarily because they got wet, but because they didn’t dry fast enough).  All told, it cost me about $1000 dollars in damages and about 8 hours of my time.

Because this water damage was not covered under my homeowner’s policy, I did/could not file a claim and I felt that the amount of work/damage (especially since I am experienced at the process) was also not worth hiring SERVPRO myself.  I would definitely not take make that decision should this happen again.  In the grand scheme of things, my basement water damage was relatively small in comparison to what we deal with on daily basis.  SERVPRO would have charged me approximately $500-$750 to complete the work I did and install the proper amount and type of drying equipment.  The area rugs and bottom of the soundproofing would have dried out faster (before bacteria growth and staining) and most likely could have been salvaged.  

I’ve always valued SERVPRO, but I have a new appreciation for the value of the work we do every day and I am proud to part of it! 

Humanity in Action

5/13/2019 (Permalink)

Humanity in Action

  SERVPRO is known for helping those who have been affected by the wrath of nature or by a man - made misfortune or mishap.  Most of these events come with a sense of urgency to return the victims property to a preloss status. Some property can be restored; others must be replaced.  Working with someone’s property is one thing; working at a scene where someone has died is entirely another.

  Many people are unaware that SERVPRO offers services to remediate areas affected by death, murder or suicide.  We call these Bio Cleanups and when they occur we are reminded of not only our own mortality – but of our role in the community to offer support and sensitivity during such times.  Unfortunately, death is a part of life; and although it is difficult to accept – it is something that we all share.  When a family is faced with the death of a loved one; a great deal of sensitivity is needed when offering assistance.  It is truly a time when one must put themselves in the other person or person’s place to try to understand the severity of the situation.

  I am sorry to say that in less than one year; SERVPRO of Sussex County has responded to and assisted with over a dozen fatality scenes.  Some involve an elderly person who died in their bed; while others may involve a young person who has chosen to end their own life.  I believe that suicides may be the most difficult situations that our company will face due to the intense emotional effect on everyone.  That fact paired with the nature by which they ended their lives can be dramatic and hard to imagine.  We do not take any pride in these details but we realize that we are serving a real need by helping those affected to move on. 

  SERVPRO of Sussex County was recently honored by The Joseph Patrick Fabber Foundation for our support toward assisting those affected by the death of a loved one by suicide.  If you or a loved one are struggling with this issue – we encourage you to call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.    

Gas Can Hazards

5/3/2019 (Permalink)

As we enter the warmer months of the year; many of us will begin our outdoor chores which will probably include lawn and property maintenance. Since most of the tools used for such endeavors are powered by gasoline; this might be a good time to talk about gas can and fuel safety.

The Portable Fuel Container Manufacturers Association estimates that there are approximately between 120 and 150 million plastic gas cans in circulation across the US. Statistics show that about a dozen people have lost their lives and thousands have been injured in the last twenty years. Scientists have found that under certain limited conditions lab tests show that gasoline vapor mixtures inside portable gas cans can ignite with explosive force. They stress that in most cases the following issues contribute to such danger:

  • A very low volume of gasoline in the container.
  • Low Temperatures.
  • Aged gasoline or gas that has been in storage.
  • Holding the can at a 42 degree pouring angle with the cap off and the spout open.

For an explosion to occur, gas vapor escaping the can must come in contact with a source of ignition such as a flame or spark and ignite, and the flame from the ignited vapor must travel back into the can through the spout, and the gas/air vapor mixture inside the can has to be in a concentration that falls within a defined flammability range.

Expertssay you should not leave small amounts of gasoline in a gas can, or fill the gas can more than 95 percent full. Use a tight-fitting cap and store the gasoline at room temperature, not in heat or cold. Do not store gas in unapproved, untested containers like milk or soda bottles. Remember not to refill a gas can close to a hot engine, or pour gas into a lawnmower or other small machine when it is still warm from use. Be aware of any possible sources of ignition nearby – flame or spark, including static electricity – when you are using a gas can.

SERVPRO of Sussex County encourages everyone to use caution when handling or transporting fuel. In the event of a spill or fire – please call us and we will be happy to help!

Please Don't Ignore Tornado Warnings!

4/22/2019 (Permalink)

Last Sunday night my wife and I were watching television and saw weather alerts on our local channels advising the threat of severe weather including possible tornadoes. The warnings are not atypical – however fortunately Delmarva does not experience many tornadoes. I have lived here for more than thirty years and have heard of maybe two or three. Needless to say, my mind was filled with more thoughts about the Game of Thrones episode I had just watched than thoughts of tornadoes.

At about three am we heard our cell phones blast a tornado warning advising that everyone in the area seek shelter. My wife got up and began to poke and prompt me to get out of bed and seek a safer place to shelter. I still did not take it or her seriously and simply rolled over and tried to get back to sleep. My wife gave me hell for being so lackadaisical and we laid in bed and heard the storm. It was very intense; but fortunately we were not in any danger zones and faired with no damage or injury. However, when I got up the next morning and turned on the local television channel I saw that there had indeed been a tornado.

About twenty miles west of our home in Lewes an EF2 tornado touched down near Laurel and tore a path of destruction about 100 yards wide and over ten miles long. It was not until I drove from my office over to Laurel to see the damage first hand that I began to scold myself for my stubbornness and my stupidity. Homes were obliterated, trees uprooted, roofs missing and debris was everywhere. Small and large structures shared the same misfortune and many families lost almost everything. I kept thinking over and over – THIS COULD HAVE HAPPENED TO US! My laziness and ignorance could have placed the life of my wife and our beloved dog in harm’s way. What made my guilt even worse was the thought that there is no excuse – I was given plenty of warning. The fact that there were no deaths or injuries from the storm told me that others had in fact heeded the timely alerts. Fortunately, I may have been the exception and not the rule.

The moral of this story is rather obvious – Pay Attention and Heed Warnings of Danger! If you suffered any storm damage – please call SERVPRO of Sussex County and we will be happy to assist with the clean up.

Don’t Mess With The Mess of A Sewage Spill!

4/15/2019 (Permalink)

Sewage spills can be caused by a number of issues at your home including broken pipes, blocked plumbing and damaged septic systems, or by intrusion of contaminated flood waters. Sewage contains harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and parasites. Direct contact with sewage or surfaces contaminated by sewage can result in illnesses such as gastroenteritis, infection and other diarrheal concerns. These types of illness may be violent and extremely unpleasant; but other pathogens can lead to death.

If you have had such misfortune occur in your home – First – Call SERVPRO of Sussex County! Next take steps to minimize any exposure to people or pets from the sewage. Our team of professionals will arrive quickly and offer a plan of remediation that will ensure the safety of all involved. They will remove the sewage and contaminated soil form under the house. This is the first step in the decontamination process. Any and all surfaces or items which have been in contact with any sewage must be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. Once the area has been decontaminated; typically a vapor barrier will be applied.

Another unpleasant result of such a spill or leak can of course be the smell. It is crucial to remove all of the sewage and affected soil – this should reduce the smell but there may still be a need for odor remediation. Proper ventilation and air flow in the affected area will also assist with the odor issue and get things back to a normal smell. Our technicians will advise and apply all measure necessary to take the mess and worry out of a home sewage event. Call us at 302-856-9768 if you have a sewage concern and we can make the issue “Like it never even happened!”

Pepperoni and Extra Cheese.....No Mold...Please!

4/8/2019 (Permalink)

Pepperoni and Extra Cheese……Hold the MOLD….Please!

  The restaurant business is tough enough under normal circumstances.  Every customer must be satisfied in this digital age….or else they will start YELPING or worse!  The challenges of labor, perishables and meeting standards of service can be overwhelming.  I truly admire those who succeed in this arena.  Like most of us; however, restaurants are not spared the everyday emergencies and disasters that are common in daily life.  Broken pipes, rain water intrusion and even fires can incapacitate a thriving eatery.

  Recently, a popular local pizzeria called us with concerns about growth which their HVAC service provider discovered in an area by the kitchen.  The proprietor was naturally concerned about the health of her patrons and staff and wanted us to remediate the situation as soon as possible.  She also wanted us to do the work without disruption or distress to her dining public.  It is situations like these that test the flexibility of our efforts since she wanted us to take care of the issue during non-working hours.  She also requested that our technicians stay out of sight if the work should spill over into lunch hour.  We understood her reservations and obliged with a thorough and rather stealthy approach and we had the situation contained and corrected within only a couple of days.  She was extremely pleased and bought our crew a pizza as a gesture of her appreciation and kindness.  She exhaled a big sigh of relief upon completion of this job. 

  Our professional team here at SERVPRO of Sussex County genuinely makes a sincere effort to consider the concerns of the property or business owner.  The crew worked quickly enough to satisfy the patron and stayed under the radar so as not to cause further worry to her and her customers.  This was truly a scenario of……."Like it never even happened."