Where Mold Could Be Hiding in Your House
This is a photo of mold before we cleaned it up in a Green Bay area home.
As we’ve said in the past, mold can be a very tricky fungus, sometimes growing behind walls and under carpets. But did you know there are areas all over your home mold could be hiding?
It’s true and it can happen even if you don’t experience a flooded home. Luckily, there are some things you can do to try to stop mold from growing. Many of these good practices involve keeping materials dry and ensuring good air circulation. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a list of rooms you might find mold and advice for stopping it in its tracks:
- The attic or roof: the EPA says not to ignore wet spots up here and have any leaks fixed ASAP.
- Bedrooms and closets: the EPA says not to ignore wet or flaking paint. Try to keep the humidity levels to between 30% and 60%.
- Bathrooms: all the water and steam here can cause mold growth. Try to run the exhaust fan or open a window when showering.
- Kitchen: leaking pipes can lurk under the sink, get them fixed! Cooking can also cause humidity, so run your kitchen’s exhaust fan.
- Basement: keep a dehumidifier down here and ensure your clothes dryer is properly vented to the outside.
- Yard: water pooling around the house can lead to moisture inside. Set up outdoor drainpipes at least five feet from the foundation and ensure land around the house slopes downward and away from the house.
- Windows: condensation on windows can be a sign of high indoor humidity!
The EPA says mold can cause immediate or delayed allergic reactions and can also cause asthma attacks in people who suffer from asthma. In addition, mold can irritate the eyes, skin, throat, nose and lungs of people with and without allergies. According to the EPA, research into mold’s effect on people’s health is ongoing.
To help ensure healthy air quality, SERVPRO of East Brown County is fully prepared to handle mold remediation at your Green Bay area home or business. You can always reach us at 920-499-7050.
And be on the lookout for our next blog post where we’ll describe and explain the equipment and techniques our team uses to clean up mold. That post will go live in two days!
Keep Your Sump Pump Performing
Photo from a sump pump failure at a home in the Green Bay area
Only a week after experiencing an APRIL blizzard, Northeast Wisconsin is enjoying a warm up. And as about two feet of snow starts to melt rapidly, we at SERVPRO of East Brown County have been busy.
One issue that’s come up from several clients over the last few days is sump pump failure. When a sump pump fails, that can lead to water in your basement and other parts of your home. That rogue water can go on to cause property damage.
So, we thought now might be a good time to put out some friendly reminders about sump pumps!
First, what exactly is a sump pump?
Well, a sump pump, is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a pump that’s often connected to your home’s electrical system. The pump is used to remove any water that collects in your home’s sump basin. The sump basin is typically in your basement to collect any water that makes its way inside thanks to issues like rain or ground water.
If the pump fails for whatever reason, any water that collects in the sump basin can eventually overflow into the basement and beyond. Because of that, some of the pumps come with battery-powered back-ups. HOWEVER, they don’t all have back-ups!!
And now is the moment we encourage you to check your sump pump to ensure it’s working properly! Here’s what you need to look for or do:
- If it’s running and seems to be running smoothly, that’s good!
- If the sump pump is not running, look a little closer to make sure it’s in good condition:
- Make sure the pump is upright.
- Check for any signs of damage, wear, or tear.
- Clean any dirt or debris out of the sump pit.
- You can test the pump by pouring a bucket of water into the pit. If the pump activates and the water drains quickly you’re in good shape.
- If the pump does not activate or appears damaged in anyway, fix it or call for maintenance right away.
Now that you’re back from checking your sump pump, if you’ve found it quit on you leaving water where it doesn’t belong, give us a call. We are here for you at 920-499-7050!
If everything is in order, that’s great news! Enjoy the warm weather!
Either way, experts recommend giving your sump pump a checkup once a year, but it certainly can’t hurt to do so more often if rain storms, snow melts, or any surprise spring blizzards are in the forecast
What You Need to Know: Generator Safety
A photo of a generator from the Wisconsin Red Cross
As we’ve been writing recently about severe weather season and preparing for any possible flooding or storms, we thought it might be a good idea to tackle generators.
Generators are always great to have as a backup if your home or business loses power during a storm, but they can pose serious dangers if you’re not careful.
According to the American Red Cross the biggest dangers generators can pose are fires, electrocution and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
The Red Cross has a long list of safety measures to take if you need to use a generator personally.
- Turn the generator off and let it cool before refueling. Hot fuel can spark a fire.
- Keep the generator dry. Do not use in wet conditions.
- NEVER plug a generator into a wall outlet. That puts you and your neighbors at risk of electrocution.
- Read instructions thoroughly to avoid overloading the generator. Also, stagger use to avoid overloads. Overloads can lead to over-heating, which can lead to fires.
- NEVER use a generator inside your home or inside ANY partially enclosed space.
- Don’t put your generator close to windows or vents to avoid letting CO inside your home.
- Put CO detectors up in your home.
- If the CO alarm goes off, leave the building, go outside into fresh air and call 911 for help. Stay outside until help arrives.
Hopefully you won’t need the help of a generator this spring or summer, but if you do, please remember this advice.
And, also remember that if you do experience any fire, storm or water damage issues, we’re can help you out at SERVPRO of East Brown County. Call anytime at 920-499-7050.
Meet Jim Knopf: Sales and Marketing Manager for SERVPRO of East Brown County
In this week’s profile, we would like to introduce you to Jim Knopf. Jim is our Sales and Marketing Manager and he’s worked at SERVPRO of East Brown County for seven years.
Jim’s job is to travel around Northeast Wisconsin meeting with and calling on all sorts of clients from insurance agents and adjusters to property managers and business owners. Jim meets with these folks and explains the work SERVPRO does in terms of mold remediation, fire and water damage restoration, biohazard cleanup and more.
Jim says he enjoys working here because he likes his fellow employees and the atmosphere. According to Jim the restoration business is a competitive one and the SERVPRO team is always striving to be on top. Jim likes working hard to be number one in the business.
Jim is originally from Milwaukee and says he is happy to be in his home state (despite the spring snow storms!) because this is where his family and friends are.
Jim fills up his spare time by working in the community. He is a member of several organizations, both local and international, like the Greater Green Bay Chamber of Commerce, the Howard-Suamico Business and Professional Association and the International Facility Management Association.
Jim has been married to his wife Irma for 34 years. Together they have a son who lives in Hartford, Wisconsin and a daughter who lives in San Francisco. Jim and Irma are grandparents to two grandchildren.
In addition to everything else Jim has done for his workplace, his community and his family, Jim is an Army Veteran. He served during the Vietnam War. SERVPRO of East Brown County is grateful for his service and is lucky to have him on the team.
First Comes the Blizzard, Then Comes the Flood
Be sure to clear snow away from your property's foundation to try to prevent water from getting in as the snow melts.
As you travel around Northeast Wisconsin it’s impossible to miss the snow piles and drifts climbing several feet high. Thanks to a spring blizzard, communities across the area are dealing with the aftermath of about two feet of the pesky precipitation.
For the first few days, clearing snow from driveways and sidewalks has taken up most home and business owners’ time and concerns. However, with warmer temperatures in the forecast, the piles of snow will soon be turning into puddles, LARGE, FLOWING puddles of water.
If you’re concerned about the snow or the water damaging your property, SERVPRO has some advice to try in the coming days:
- Prevent roof collapse: use a snow rake to clear your roof or hire a professional to shovel it.
- Prevent ice dams: keep your attic cool, significantly cooler than the rest of your home, to ensure the roof stays cool.
- Clear snow: shovel snow away from your foundation, sweep snow away from doors and windows.
- Clear drains: unclog snow from drainage pipes and catch basins to ensure water can flow freely away from your property.
- Check your sump pump to be sure it’s working properly.
- Rearrange basement storage: clear areas around appliances, put anything valuable or that cannot get wet up off the ground.
SERVPRO of East Brown County has been busy this week responding to homes and businesses that have experienced damage thanks to the blizzard. Our team is ready to help you too if you experience any kind of collapse or water damage from the storm or the flood that is likely to follow. You can reach us 24 hours a day at 920-499-7050.
IICRC: A Certification You Can Trust
Our IICRC Certification Plaque.
At SERVPRO of East Brown County we are an IICRC Certified Firm. You may not know what that means just yet, but it’s a big deal when it comes to the work we do.
IICRC stands for Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification. It is an international, not-for-profit organization that sets the standards for “technical excellence” in our field.
The IICRC covers all aspects of the work SERVPRO does, including: fire restoration, water damage restoration, mold remediation and inspection, as well as floor and upholstery cleaning.
To become IICRC certified a firm like ours needs to employ a certain number of certified technicians AND the owner needs to be certified as well.
For an individual to become certified they need to attend classes in person then take and pass tests from the organization.
The IICRC has become so trusted in this industry, because it creates the standards we need to work under by gathering peer-reviewed, industry-accepted best practices from around the world to ensure certified technicians are working as safely and efficiently as possible.
We’re at a point where some insurance companies will refuse to work with firms that are not IICRC certified. That’s how important this is.
Our IICRC certification means you can rest assured in the knowledge that SERVPRO of East Brown County will do the best, safest work for you, at the best price and in a timely manner.
We are available any time day or night if you need us for help following a fire, flood, storm or mold growth in the Green Bay area. We’re also here if you need help cleaning up your home or office. Call us at 920-499-7050.
Spring into the Season Safely
A photo of a smoke alarm from the CDC.
At SERVPRO of East Brown County we know fires can strike at any time of the day or night. We also know how devastating, even deadly those fires can be.
One great way to protect yourself and your family is to make sure you have working smoke alarms in your home. The key word here is WORKING.
The National Safety Council (NSC) has a spring safety checklist for you to check off when doing your annual spring cleaning. Number one on the list? Check those smoke alarms.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) goes a step further saying smoke alarms SAVE LIVES.
An NFPA study shows:
- A smoke alarm sounds in about half of U.S. home fires on average.
- Three of every five home fire deaths occur in houses where there are no smoke alarms, or no working smoke alarms.
- About 70% of the incidents in which the alarms do NOT sound the batteries are missing, disconnected or dead.
There are simple steps you can and should take this spring to make sure your smoke alarms are ready to go. The NSC advises:
- Test your alarms at least once a month.
- Change you alarm batteries at least once a year.
- If an alarm is making a chirping sound, replace the battery immediately.
- Put alarms up in each bedroom and common room on each floor of your home.
Going hand in hand with smoke alarms are carbon monoxide detectors. The NSC describes carbon monoxide (CO) as an “invisible, odorless gas, and it can kill you.”
The NSC has advice about protecting yourself from CO gas:
- Anything that burns fuel can produce CO.
- Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed outside each bedroom and on every level of your house.
- You should test the batteries monthly and change them yearly.
As we get deeper into spring it’s a good idea to go through this checklist to ensure your family is as safe as possible when it comes to fire and carbon monoxide.
Please protect yourself and if a fire should affect your property, we are here for you. Our SERVPRO team is well-prepared to clean up and provide any necessary reconstruction services. You can reach us at 920-499-7050.
Water Damage By the Numbers
Water damage from a commercial cleanup the team from SERVPRO of East Brown County performed.
At SERVPRO, we are prepared for any kind of water damage or flooding you might experience at your home or business.
However, not all water damage situations are created equal. There are several categories that these situations can fall into that determine how dangerous they are to you and to our teams doing the cleanup. They also determine the amount of work needed to do the mitigation. It’s important you know what we mean when we talk about these categories if you ever have a water damage situation of your own.
So, let’s consider the categories:
Category 1: “Clean Water”
- Clean Water is any water that comes from a sanitary water source.
- Clean Water does not post any substantial risks to people’s health.
- An example of Clean Water would be any leaking from a water supply pipe.
Category 2: “Gray Water”
- Gray Water is water that contains significant contamination.
- Gray Water has the potential to cause people discomfort or sickness.
- Some examples of Gray Water are leaks from washing machines, dishwashers and water beds.
Category 3: “Black Water”
- Black Water is water that is grossly, or extremely contaminated.
- Black Water can contain pathogens, toxins or other harmful materials.
- Black Water can make people seriously ill.
- Some examples of Black Water are sewage backups, flood waters, and backups from a toilet trap.
Outside of the three main categories there are also special situations where an expert besides SERVPRO might need to aid in clean up. Those special situations include water leaks or losses that contain regulated or hazardous materials like mercury, lead, asbestos, pesticides and fuels.
When it comes to those three main categories, SERVPRO of East Brown County is prepared to help you recover from whatever loss might occur. For the more serious categories our team members will need to wear protective gear, because those categories can be very dangerous to people’s health. Depending on the situation our team members will use different methods to clean up, like using antimicrobial products to ensure the environment is safe.
It’s very important for you to know that a category can change over time. For example, a Category 1 can turn into a Category 2 if the water sits around for a day or more or even a category 3 if it sits for more than 3 days or mixes with certain building materials or very dirty situations.
So, if you have any unwanted water issues, it’s best to reach out to us for help ASAP to keep damage and costs at a minimum. You can do that by calling us at 920-499-7050 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Meet Georgia Bogenschuetz: Owner of SERVPRO East Brown County
In last week’s profile we introduced you to SERVPRO of East Brown County’s owner Mike Bogenschuetz, now we introduce you to his wife and the other owner of the franchise, Georgia Bogenschuetz.
Georgia and Mike have owned this franchise for five years this June. Over the years Georgia has been working in the office, taking care of bookkeeping and human resources matters. Georgia also makes sure to help Mike, her husband of 30 years come December, stay organized!
When asked why she likes being an owner and working here, Georgia responds that she loves the employees here. She says the team members are a dedicated and compassionate group of people who are wonderful to be around.
Georgia says SERVPRO “helps people who really need help,” people who’ve been affected by tragedies like fire and flooding. So, the employees must be understanding and compassionate. She says the people at SERVPRO of East Brown County go above and beyond what is expected in that regard and that’s why she likes being here.
Like Mike, in her spare time Georgia likes to get out in nature. The two own property with a lot of wooded area and they enjoy hiking and riding ATV’s through the woods. Georgia enjoys hiking so much she says most of the Bogenschuetz family vacations are to places where they can hike.
And like Mike, Georgia is very proud of their 24-year-old daughter Taylor, a recent graduate of UW-Madison.
Georgia is originally from Elkhart Lake. She says she enjoys living in her home state because “this is where family is.”
'Tis the Season for Spring Cleaning
As spring arrives, nature wakes up. The world turns green again, flowers bloom and the birds build their nests.
And as all this happens, we humans start to think of our nests as well: our homes and offices.
SERVPRO of East Brown County has what business and home owners need to get spring cleaning done right. Our team can freshen up your surroundings with HVAC cleaning, for starters. We are also trained to use state-of-the-art equipment to get your carpets their cleanest and focus on stain removal. We can even help you out with tasks like drapery cleaning, hard floor cleaning and deodorization.
If you need help getting rid of unwanted clutter, we can use our muscle to haul away any trash or unwanted items like furniture. Get that garage or basement cleaned out for the season!
For the homeowner, you may want to tackle some spring cleaning at your abode on your own.
And for you, we ask (as we often do) that you consider your safety when making plans for a big clean.
If you’re going to be using chemical cleaners inside your home Consumer Reports has some tips to play it safe:
- Open windows in your home to keep fresh air flowing.
- Read labels on the products you use to see if anything is potentially harmful.
- Make sure to NEVER mix ammonia and bleach.
- If you need to move furniture and other heavy objects, get someone to help you.
- Don’t do more than you physically can.
Of course, spring isn’t just a time to focus on our “nests,” it’s a time when a lot of us want to get out in our yards. Fall and winter can leave behind a bit of a mess and spring is a great time to make it beautiful once more.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has advice for getting the yard back in order safely:
- Dress appropriately for the work you’re doing. If you’re going to use power tools, avoid loose-fitting clothes.
- Walk around the yard or garden first to clear out debris like sticks, stones or even trash.
- Use any necessary safety equipment like goggles or gloves.
- Read all safety instructions and test power tools before using them.
- Never work with electric power tools in wet conditions.
- Handle gas cautiously, keep it away from spark or flame.
- Be sure any extension cords are in good condition.
Use your best judgment as you sweep the winter blues out of your home and yard while the world turns green again.
With cleaning your home or office, keep in mind, we can help with a lot of the heavy lifting. We have the tools and experience to get your surroundings looking and SMELLING their best. So, if there is anything we can do to help give us a call 920-499-7050.