How to protect your home from water damage
Water damage is one of the most common and costliest disasters your home can experience, costing billions of dollars annually. Safeguard your most important asset against water damage with the right insurance coverage and the following practical advice.
Water damage and insurance
Different types of water damage are insured by different types of policies.
Homeowners and renters insurance provides coverage for burst pipes, wind-driven rain, and damage resulting from ice dams on your roof. Generally speaking, water that comes from the top down—such as rainfall and burst sprinklers—is covered by a standard homeowner's policy.
Some policies cover sewer and drain backups, but many do not; however, you can purchase a sewer backup rider for your homeowners or renters coverage.
Typically, water that comes from the bottom up—such as an overflowing river—is covered by a separate flood insurance policy, which can be purchased from the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and from some private insurers. If you live in a flood-prone area, learn more about appropriate coverage.
Properly maintaining a home is one of the best ways to prevent water damage from water disasters.
Prevent basement water seepage
- Reseal your basement. Water in the basement is often caused by cracks in building foundations or floor slabs. If you notice water seepage after heavy rain when you've never had a problem, it may mean that your once-waterproof cement floors and basement walls have deteriorated. Painting vulnerable areas with water sealant can prevent seepage.
- Make sure water drains away from the building. Seepage is exacerbated by soil that has settled in a way to make water flow toward the building. After a storm, and especially if the ground is already saturated, rainwater that flows towards the building goes down the outside of the foundation wall potentially through any cracks.
- Install a backwater valve. Though less common than other causes of basement water, sewer backups are messy. Learn more about your sewer responsibilities and install and maintain a backwater valve, which allows sewage to go out, but not come back in.
Maintain and understand your indoor plumbing systems
- Inspect appliance hoses and faucets. Make it a practice every year to check hoses leading to water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines, and refrigerator ice makers. You may also want to invest in a water leak monitoring and shut-off system that can alert you to any leakage issues. Immediately replace any hoses that have cracks or leaks, and replace them all every five to seven years.
- Inspect showers and tubs. Check the seal and caulking around showers and tubs to make sure they are watertight and reseal if necessary.
- When away on vacation, shut off the water supply to the washing machine and never leave the house while the washer or dishwasher is running.
- Know the location of the main water shut-off valve in your home. A damaged hose or a burst pipe can send water racing into your home. Being able to locate and shut off the main water supply quickly will save stress, money, and time.
- Install an emergency pressure release valve in your plumbing system. This will protect against the increased pressure caused by freezing pipes and can help prevent your pipes from bursting.
- Check plumbing and heating pipes. Look closely for cracks and leaks and have any necessary repairs made immediately.
Repair and protect your home's exterior
- Caulk and seal windows to guard against water seepage.
- Inspect your roof for missing, damaged, and aging shingles and make necessary repairs.
- Check your downspouts. Remove debris that may have accumulated in downspouts and rain gutters. Position downspouts so that they direct water away from the house.
- Check sprinklers and irrigation systems to be sure they are not creating water damage to the walls and foundations of the house. Turn off and drain outside faucets to protect against frozen pipes.
- Install gutter guards to prevent gutter clogs and keep water flowing away from the house instead of accumulating on the roof.
Protect your possessions
- Store off-season and other bulk belongings in waterproof bins, especially in areas where there are plumbing pipes or that are prone to dampness, such as basements and attics.
- Never store valuables or memorabilia where there is a risk of destruction from water. Water and dampness also bring with it the threat of mold damage.
- Keep belongings stored on shelving off the floor in basements. In case of water seepage or sewer backup, they're less likely to get damaged.
- Keep an up-to-date home inventory. Having a comprehensive list of your possessions will save time, trouble, and stress in case of loss from water damage.
THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM: PREPARING YOUR ROOF AGAINST HAILSTORMS
While the Spring season in Texas equals great temperature and fun outdoorsy activities, consider yourself warned. March begins the yearly hail season—ice as big as golf balls wreak havoc by causing leaky roofs, dented siding, and accidents if you’re caught outside during a storm.
NOAA’s Severe Storms database records over 5,396 major hail storms by last year, 2019. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Storm Prediction Center, National Weather Service, Texas ranks first at the Top Five States By Number Of Major Hail Events. For hail-prone areas, it’s best to be ready for any circumstances that could happen.
Once the storm starts, there is pretty much nothing you can do except to stay inside. It’s safer to double-check everything beforehand, including the things that you can minimize damage to. Safe-proof your home before hail season starts and take precautions that could help lessen the damages.
For everyone’s safety, stay indoors. Pay attention to weather reports to be prepared and shop for groceries, flashlights, and batteries. Close your doors and windows and stay away because of the risks of flying glass.
Drains and gutters could easily be filled by fallen leaves, debris from trees, and hailstones. They stop water flow due to clogging and cause damage due to the lack of proper drainage. As a solution, drain these areas. Keep your gutters free from debris that could cause water to back up and potentially cause leaks in the future. This is to ensure that water could drain normally.
MAINTAIN YOUR LAWN.
Amid a really bad hail storm, branches and plants can pose a threat to your home. Tree branches could hit your windows and shutter glass. For safety reasons, trim tree and shrub branches that could potentially cause extensive damage to your property. Maintaining your lawn helps eliminate the risks of the upcoming storm.
TAKE YOUR STUFF INDOORS.
Branches and shrubs aren’t the only things that pose a threat to your windows. If possible, take your outdoor furniture and decoration indoors to avoid them becoming hailstone targets and projectiles.
A HAND IN REPAIRS: YOUR INSURANCE POLICY.
After the storm and the damage has been done, check in with your insurance company before authorizing repair work needed. Document the damages and call the company as soon as possible.
INSPECT YOUR ROOF (DO IT PERSONALLY, OR GET A SECOND OPINION).
Before anything else, contacting a professional roofing company to inspect your roof and prepare you against the future dangers of the storm might be better.
Your roof protects you against heavy rain and the scorching sun. It also protects you against hailstones. As it is everyone’s first line of defense against the hail season, repairs are a must. Make sure to inspect your roof regularly. Check for loose or missing shingles and have them repaired as soon as possible to prevent future problems. Loose shingles could cause possible leaking due to the upcoming hail season. If there are small dents in the area, have them inspected. Or consider improving your current option to a material that’s much more resistant.
Why you need Emergency Fire Protection Service Provider
When choosing a long-term fire protection company, it can be difficult to know what the right choice is for your facility. One thing to consider is whether the company offers emergency fire protection services. Partnering with a fire protection provider that offers 24-hour emergency service has many benefits.
Protect Your Assets, No Matter the Time of Day
If something goes wrong with your fire protection system, you will be able to call up your fire protection company to solve the problem, no matter the time of day! Emergencies can happen at any time, even in the middle of the night. If you have a pipe burst, you are not going to want to wait until morning to get it fixed and risk having water flood your building.
Unexpected Problems Happen
You can’t count on everything going smoothly all the time. Even if you are getting your fire protection systems inspected and tested on a regular basis, emergencies can still occur. If you have a pipe burst, alarm set off, leaking sprinklers, or a sprinkler freeze-up, you’ll want a fire protection service provider that can help address these issues.
Familiarity with System and Facility
In an emergency, you’ll want the situation addressed as quickly and efficiently as possible. When your long-term fire protection provider is also the company you call for emergency service, they will already be familiar with your system and facility.
Service Even on Holidays
Your fire protection system does not wait until it’s a convenient time to start causing problems. If your system needs attention on a holiday, an emergency fire protection provider can address the issue. The holiday season often brings cold and snowy weather. It is during the winter when your fire sprinkler systems can freeze up. If your system freezes up, you’ll want it to get attention right away, even if it’s during the holidays!
Peace of Mind with 24 Hour Support
When you choose to work with a fire protection contractor that offers 24-hour emergency service, you will have peace of mind knowing who you should call if something goes wrong with your fire protection system.
Have An Emergency Plan Before An Emergency Happens
- Practice your home fire escape plan twice a year, making the drill as realistic as possible.
- Make arrangements in your plan for anyone in your home who has a disability.
- Allow children to master fire escape planning and practice before holding a fire drill at night when they are sleeping. The objective is to practice, not to frighten, so telling children there will be a drill before they go to bed can be as effective as a surprise drill.
- It's important to determine during the drill whether children and others can readily wake to the sound of the smoke alarm. If they fail to awaken, make sure that someone is assigned to wake them up as part of the drill and in a real emergency situation.
- If your home has two floors, every family member (including children) must be able to escape from the second-floor rooms. Escape ladders can be placed in or near windows to provide an additional escape route. Review the manufacturer's instructions carefully so you'll be able to use a safety ladder in an emergency. Practice setting up the ladder from a first-floor window to make sure you can do it correctly and quickly. Children should only practice with a grown-up, and only from a first-story window. Store the ladder near the window, in an easily accessible location. You don't want to have to search for it during a fire.
- Always choose the escape route that is safest – the one with the least amount of smoke and heat – but be prepared to escape under toxic smoke if necessary. When you do your fire drill, everyone in the family should practice getting low and going under the smoke to your exit.
- Closing doors on your way out slows the spread of fire, giving you more time to safely escape.
- In some cases, smoke or fire may prevent you from exiting your home or apartment building. To prepare for an emergency like this, practice "sealing yourself in for safety" as part of your home fire escape plan. Close all doors between you and the fire. Use duct tape or towels to seal the door cracks and cover air vents to keep smoke from coming in. If possible, open your windows at the top and bottom so fresh air can get in. Call the fire department to report your exact location. Wave a flashlight or light-colored cloth at the window to let the fire department know where you are located.
Fire Damaged Materials Need Meticulous Clean
The dangers of fire damage can last much longer than the initial fire blaze. Two of the most toxic types of damage are the fire itself and the resulting smoke damage. Smoke and soot can damage a home by permeating through the walls, upholstery, ceiling, insulation, air conditioning vents, and other hard-to-clean places.
This is why it is important to understand that fire damage in homes can present itself in many ways. Depending on the type of fire that attacks your home, not only are the apparent soot, ash, and fire damage unsightly, but possible structure damage and future contamination are possible.
Never Have Your Fire Damage Overlooked Again
For example, depending on where a fire burns in a structure, it can affect support beams, load-bearing walls, and it can wreak havoc on wiring and insulation. Even if your fire emergency seemed localized to a particular area in the house, remember, the attic must be checked for damage as well.
SERVPRO uses our advanced cleanup methods and detection tools to check from closet to closet, room to room, and floor to ceiling, to detect all fire and post-fire damages. We know where to check to make sure your HVAC system will not spread smoke and toxins after a fire. We will make sure that your insulation is intact and that the structure of your home is safe. If we detect any need for replacement and restoration, we provide a range of services, including building services, that can take care of any fire and water damage and debris.
Because secondary fire damage, such as water use from firefighting efforts can also be an issue, our specialists pay much attention to a full, detailed analysis of your home’s damage before making a plan of action and beginning cleanup and restoration.
Contamination is not always seen by the untrained eye. It can be hidden in places such as your HVAC (air conditioning and heating) systems. SERVPRO inspects the home from attic to basement, to ensure that all vents and air circulating systems are completely clean. If you were to neglect this part of fire damage cleanup, there is always the possibility of blowing toxic dust, ash, and soot, even on the microscopic level, into your cleaned home, effectively re-contaminating it and exposing residents to its dangers.
Our 24/7 Emergency Service line is at your disposal. Contact SERVPRO of King of Prussia anytime at 610-667-9080 for a quick response to your fire emergency, or to ask questions.
Restoring your King of Prussia Commercial Property
Flooding and water damage events in King of Prussia
commercial properties are often complex with numerous issues that require a knowledgeable and flexible response. Whether we’re dealing with a relatively small water cleanup scenario or a large scale event, we work quickly to assess each unique situation and isolate the damaged area. In many instances, normal operations can continue in a temporary space while we restore your facility.
Restoring Commercial Properties Presents Unique Challenges
Our professionals are trained to be mindful of legal and environmental concerns and strive to fully restore the damaged area while working within your budgetary constraints. We understand that every hour spent cleaning up is an hour of lost revenue and productivity. So when an emergency situation arises in your business, give us a call and we’ll be there fast with the help you need.
About SERVPRO of King of Prussia
SERVPRO of King of Prussia specializes in the cleanup and restoration of commercial and residential property after a water damage event. Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration. From initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO’s corporate training facility to regular IICRC-industry certification, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property.
Does your King of Prussia Home Have Lead?
Older homes, older child care facilities, schools, and other buildings are more likely to contain lead-based paint. Homes may be private, government-assisted, or public housing. Schools are preschools and kindergarten classrooms. They may be urban, suburban, or rural.
Percentage of homes likely to contain lead:
- Built between 1960-1978 = 24%
- Built between 1940-1960 = 69%
- Built before 1940 = 87%
What can you do to protect your family from lead in pre-1978 homes?
- If you rent, notify your landlord of peeling or chipping paint.
- Clean up paint chips immediately.
- Regularly clean floors, window sills, and other surfaces. Use a mop, sponge, or paper towel with warm water and a general all-purpose cleaner or a cleaner made specifically for lead.
- Thoroughly rinse sponges and mop heads after cleaning dirty or dusty areas.
- Wash children’s hands, bottles, pacifiers, and toys often.
- Keep children from chewing window sills or other painted surfaces.
- Clean or remove shoes before entering your home to avoid tracking in lead from soil.
SERVPRO of King of Prussia follows the EPA's strict guidelines for lead paint
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires firms performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in pre-1978 homes, child care facilities, and schools to be certified by the EPA. These firms also must use certified renovators who are trained by EPA-approved training providers to follow lead-safe work practices.
According to EPA requirements (40 CFR Part 745) contractors must use lead-safe work practices and follow these three simple procedures:
- Contain the work area.
- Minimize dust.
- Clean up thoroughly.
SERVPRO of King of Prussia technicians always takes the necessary precautions according to current laws. Our technicians have been trained and certified to follow lead-safe work practices while performing renovation and repair projects in your area.
Types of Fire Detection
One of the most important components of fighting a fire is ensuring that the fire is detected early on. Early detection of fire allows building occupants to safely exit the building sooner and allows for a faster response from fire suppression systems. When it comes to fire detection, there are several detection methods that are available to choose from. The main three forms of fire detection include heat detection, smoke detection, and flame detection.
Heat detectors are activated when a fire occurs and causes the temperature in the area to rise. Once the area reaches a certain temperature, the heat detectors are activated. Heat detectors usually have fewer false alarms, but they can take longer to identify a fire than other forms of detection. Heat detectors are best suited for areas that are not frequently occupied and in areas that are not well suited for smoke detection such as steamy, humid, or dusty environments.
Smoke detectors are activated when smoke is created by a fire. There are several types of smoke detectors that use different methods to detect smoke.
Ionization detectors use radioactive material to create an electric current between two electrodes. When a fire creates smoke, the smoke disrupts the ionization and causes the alarm to go off. This type of smoke detection may result in false alarms as it can be triggered by things like humidity. These types of smoke detectors do a good job of detecting fast-burning fires.
These alarms use a light beam to detect smoke. When smoke particles from fire cross through the beam, the detectors are activated. This type of detector is reliable and has few false alarms. Photoelectric detectors work well on small smoldering fires.
Combination detectors use the technology from both ionization and photoelectric detectors to identify both fast-burning and smoldering fires.
- Aspirating Smoke Detectors
Aspirating smoke detection is a method of detecting a fire very early on. This type of detector samples and tests the particle levels in the air and is activated when the level of smoke particles rises above normal levels. This type of smoke detection is resistant to false alarms and works well around sensitive equipment as the fire can be detected before it can cause damage.
Flame detectors are used to detect a fire when flames are present. This type of fire detection includes UV detectors and/or infrared detectors to identify a flame and trigger an alarm.
Fire Damage Often Leads to Water Damager Cleanup!
Fire Restoration Often Includes Water Damage Cleanup
Being prepared in case of a fire in your King of Prussia, PA business is key for the safety of everyone onsite as well as keeping damage to a minimum. After following proper fire protocols, the next step is fire cleanup. Along with that, water cleanup will likely be part of the process.
Extinguishing the Flames Leaves Water Behind
Although smoke cleanup and rummaging through burnt items is to be expected after a fire, many may forget the massive amounts of water required to extinguish the flames. Depending on the extent of the fire, it could result in more water clean up than expected. The main water damage concerns include:
Wood Damage – Floors, furniture, and other items made from wood quickly soak up water. As it retains the water, buckling and other damage can take root. Items severely damaged will likely need to be replaced.
Ceilings – Along with inspecting for any fire damage to the structure of the building, ceilings with water damage will need to be repaired immediately.
Drywall – The walls of a building often take the brunt of both fire and water issues. If they made it unscathed from the flames, there could still be hidden water issues. Any areas affected will need to be replaced to avoid further deterioration and mold growth.
Electrical – Water can find its way into electrical equipment and outlets without being detected. A close inspection of all electrical components should be conducted.
Count On Professional Help
Lingering water left unattended can cause big problems long after the fire has taken place. A water damage specialist has the expertise to properly dry, clean, and restore your business back to new. Along with repairing physical issues, they can also help with the restoration of items such as documents, furniture, paintings, and more.
While you might not be expecting water cleanup after a fire, it’s important to make sure water damage doesn’t go unchecked. Getting the right help can help get your business back to normal.
Vacant Buildings: More Than an Eyesore
Last week’s “catastrophic” fire at a large Middletown building further illustrated the need for code enforcement concerning vacant buildings that become community eyesores, officials said.
The large fire was reported at 6:40 a.m. on Wednesday at the former Middletown Paperboard complex at 300 S. Verity Parkway. More than 100 firefighters at a time battled the blaze, which led to the arrest of a man, Joshua Lamb, who said he was living in the building when a fire he started spread to his bedding.
As of Friday afternoon, Middletown firefighters remained on the scene putting out hotspots as crews from Vickers Demolition used heavy equipment to knock down walls and move debris.
Shelby Quinlivan, city spokeswoman said South Verity Parkway/Ohio 4 between Girard Avenue and Yankee Road was closed to through traffic because of the damaged buildings and debris as well as two smoke stacks at the south end of the facility that will need to come down to protect public safety.
Middletown firefighters have remained on the scene watching for floating embers going on to nearby residential and commercial properties since New Year’s Day. The smouldering embers were buried in pockets inside the double roof, burning into the old wooden beams. As demolition crews worked, moving the debris and removing the scrap metal left in the building, walls were being knocked down revealing more hotspots.
Previous media accounts and “The Pointe,” MidPointe Library’s official blog, said the Middletown Paperboard facility, which consists of 61 parcels, had between 400,000 and 600,000 square feet of space on the 11-acre site.
The original paper mill dated back to 1827 when it started on Vanderveer Street to make boxboard from recycled paper, according to “Middletown - The Steel City” by Middletown Historians Roger L. Miller and the late George C. Crout. In 1873, “C.H. Wardlow and J.K. Thomas built a new paper mill on the site, producing manila and bag paper,” they wrote.
Crout and Miller wrote the site also served as headquarters for Corson Packaging, which “started as the Interstate Folding Box Company at 300 South Verity Parkway in the early 1900s … In 1981 it was acquired by American Packaging, and in 1993, by Corson Packaging. (The company) was known for its folding paperboard cartons. Corson closed the plant during the summer of 2000.”
The facility was later acquired by the Newark Group, which continued operations until 2004. In 2012, Newark Group, which reportedly removed all of the equipment at the Middletown facility and the Franklin Boxboard facility, sold the properties to B.P. Logan LLC in 2012. Last summer, the former Franklin Boxboard facility along with Mindlin Recycling were demolished by its property owner, Cohen USAs who acquired it from BP Logan LLC in 2017.
Middletown Paperboard started as “a series of substantially constructed brick mills, warehouses, etc., the mechanical equipment embracing all the latest improved machinery and appliances known to the trade, and power being obtained from a water privilege and an auxiliary steam engine…”, wrote Harry Simms in “Middletown In Black and White.”
Over the years, it has been the target of vandalism, and its cavernous space allowed the homeless to shelter themselves from the elements. Public safety employees have checked on the building periodically, but there have been a few fires in past years as the property owner did not secure the building as requested by the city.
Then-city manager Doug Adkins testified this year before the Ohio House of Representatives and said that over the previous five years, Middletown had spent $100,000 on the abandoned property. He said a February 2018 fire resulted in $150,000 in property damage and cost the city about $17,000 to fight the fire that was ruled as an arson. He said the estimated amount to clear the site was about $1.9 million.
In addition, the city spent thousands of dollars boarding up windows, securing doors and putting up fencing to deter squatters and the homeless from entering the building.
The Middletown Paperboard property has been the subject of a tax forfeiture case against owner B.P. Logan LLC for not paying $259,565 in back taxes. It was ordered to go to sheriff’s sale but was not purchased. Last month, the property was ordered to be forfeited to the state of Ohio by Butler County Common Pleas Court Judge Greg Howard, according to court documents.
Acting City Manager Susan Cohen said the city plans to work with the Butler County Land Bank to acquire the property for redevelopment as part of the Oakland Historic District project, a plan to rehabilitate the Oakland neighborhood into an urban renaissance incentive district.
Last month, a Butler County Common Pleas Court judge ordered that the property be forfeited to the state of Ohio. She said the city has never had an ownership interest in the property.
Jennifer Ekey, Middletown economic development director, previously said the Paperboard site will be listed in the city’s new master plan as a special interest area due to its proximity to the Oakland Neighborhood and future development project.
Middletown City Council has been working to beef up ordinances to hold property owners accountable for the condition of their residential, commercial and industrial structures over the past few years as well as developing and implementing an updated planning, zoning and development code; a new master plan; a chronic nuisance ordinance; and a civil penalties ordinance to encourage property owners to maintain their properties to a minimum standard.
Last year, council also updated a vacant building registry ordinance requiring property owners to furnish ownership, insurance and other information to city officials. However, that ordinance only applies to the urban core downtown district and is for 10 years. The Paperboard site is just outside that zoning district. Shelby Quinlivan, city spokeswoman, said only 12 downtown area properties are on the property registry.
Cohen said it would be up to council do determine if that ordinance should be expanded to other parts of the city.