How to Help Prevent Furnace Fires
Furnace fires can easily be prevented with regular maintenance and cleaning.
This summer, we were all thinking about how to stay cool. But with fall upon us, it’s time to start cranking up the heat again (hopefully not too soon). If you heat your house with a furnace, a little preventive maintenance now can help prevent a fire when you do turn on your heat.
Gas furnaces are more prevalent than wood or coal. (Yes, about 130,000 households still burn coal.)
And while furnaces are generally quite safe, they can occasionally cause house fires. That’s why it’s important to properly maintain any kind of furnace.
Clean around the furnace. Move any debris or stored items at least three feet away from your furnace.
Clean the furnace itself. Dirt and grime can cause overheating. They can also prevent you from seeing any damage or other problems.
Replace dirty air filters. Dirty or clogged air filters prevent the flow of air, leading to overheating. This can increase the likelihood of a fire.
Check your chimneys and vents. Clogged vents or flues can lead to fires. Call a professional if you need help with this task.
Check smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Both should be installed throughout your house and should be tested to see if they’re working properly. If you don’t have both kinds of alarms, make that the very first errand on your list.
Invest in a professional maintenance checkup. A furnace professional can identify and correct problems such as a cracked heat exchanger or incorrect pressure in the furnace. Even flame color can tell an experienced repair person how well your furnace is functioning. If you haven’t had your furnace serviced lately, make an appointment this month.
If your home has suffered fire damage, SERVPRO of Ames can help. Our agents are on call around the clock so we can start helping you get back to normal, fast. Contact us at any hour for assistance.
Catch Leaking Pipes Before They Cause Damage
Be proactive about catching leaking water pipes and save yourself from possible water damage.
Ever wonder why your water bill is so high? Or have you noticed there’s dampness in the cabinet under your faucet?
We easily identify roof leaks when they splash on our heads, and it’s fairly simple to detect dripping appliances, but leaky pipes can be trickier to locate and correct. However, it’s essential to find them early, as slow leaks usually are not covered by insurance.
Plumbing repair sounds like a big project. But you can often fix a leaky pipe by yourself. This video shows you the basics. There are plenty of other do-it-yourself resources out there. A quick Google search gives a list of how-to videos by most major hardware businesses.
How to Spot Leaky Pipes Early
Check for signs of a leak on a regular basis. Traces of water can cue you in to leaky pipes. Look for damaged flooring or ceiling stains. Puddles are big clues, of course. You should also look for more subtle signs. Loose caulking might indicate a leak. Rust in your sink or toilet joints can also be signs of a leak. Loose tiles? Mold? A toilet that rocks back and forth? You guessed it—all can be caused by a leak.
Locate the source. Now that you know there’s likely a leak in the area, find where it’s coming from. You might need to open an access panel behind a tub or check under a sink. Look under countertops. You may want to fill a tub or sink and drain it, checking for dampness around each joint you can reach.
Evaluate if it’s a do-it-yourself job. Can you handily see and access the leaking pipe? If so, chances are you can make a repair. But if you can’t identify the source—or if you can see it but can’t get to it—it’s time to call a plumber. A certified, bonded plumber can make repairs that will save you money down the road.
When the Damage Is Done
If your leaking pipe has already caused damage, call SERVPRO. We’ve been cleaning up water damage for more than 50 years.
We’ll answer your call any time, around the clock. We combine national expertise with local know-how, so you know we’ll serve you right.
Dealing with water damage? Contact us at any hour for the rapid response we’re known for.
Minimize the Financial Strain of Storm Damage
Follow these tips to help minimize the financial impact of storm damage.
Storm damage can hit you hard financially. According to the Congressional Budget Office, American households experience about $34 billion in storm-related losses every year. Careful planning can help you recover financially from the damage.
Check Your Coverage. Get to know your insurance policy before a storm hits. You may be covered for wind and water damage, but only from certain sources. For instance, check the wording of your policy to see whether storm water that backs up from sewers or drains is covered. Talk with your insurance agent if you need help understanding your coverage.
Perform Due Diligence. If your property has existing damage, your insurance company may deny your claim. To help prove your damage was due to a sudden event, keep “before” photos of your house in good condition.
Protect Yourself. After a storm, you should first get yourself, your family and your pets to safety. Then check your house for hazards, such as standing water. You may need to evacuate your home if you can’t quickly fix the most urgent problems.
Check Out FEMA Help. If you need help finding a place to stay, getting urgent repairs or even getting a hot meal, call your local FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Assistance) office. Depending on how widespread the damage was, FEMA may have an agent deployed where you live.
Document Everything. As you prepare your claim, make detailed records. Take pictures of mold, missing shingles and everything in between.
Time to File. When you reach out to your insurance company, they’ll assign an agent to help you through the process. Be persistent and specific in your claim. Keep careful records of your conversations with your agent. With dedication, you should soon have your claim met and your property in tip-top shape again!
We have many years of experience working with insurance companies to get claims processed. If you live in Boone or Story County and experience storm damage, contact us at any hour for quick assistance.
Hidden Spots for Household Water Damage
Check places in your home for hidden water damage on a regular basis.
It’s common to associate water damage with flooding, but there are many other surprising reasons water damage can occur in a home—quite a few of which can occur in hidden locations.
Because water damage can become worse if left untreated, hidden water damage is especially insidious. Many homeowners’ policies do not provide coverage for water damage; when they do, a typical claim will be in the range of $7,000.
Knowing the surprising spots where water damage may be found and checking them regularly can go a long way in preventing complications.
Surprising Spots for Household Water Damage
- Inside cabinets: When sink pipes are inside cabinets, it’s easy for leaks to go unnoticed. Regularly check the piping to make sure you catch leaks before they cause damage.
- Near bathtub casings: The casing of the bathtub or shower is sealed with caulk around the edges, providing a barrier against leaks. However, if these have not been recaulked in a while, they can begin to falter.
- On structural elements: Drywall hides the structural elements of the home, but it can also hide water damage. Though ripping out drywall can be a chore, if there has been a busted pipe or a flood recently, it is wise to check behind it.
- Around seals in the roof: The vents of roofs are sealed to prevent water from entering, but the seals deteriorate over time. Check the roof at the start of spring and fall for signs of water.
- Within an HVAC unit: As the HVAC unit pulls moisture from the air, it typically drains it away. However, if there is an issue with any of the drain lines, this condensation can build up within the unit instead.
- Behind appliances: Appliances are rarely moved unless they are being replaced, but washing machines and dishwashers can also hide water leaks. Perform an inspection for any hidden damage every few months as a preventive measure.
- Around exterior faucets: Because outside faucets are connected within the walls of the house, leaks can easily hide. If the faucet is turned off and you still hear sounds of running water, there might be a hidden leak.
If you find water damage in your Boone or Story County home, give us a call right away, and we’ll be there quickly.
What to Do If You Smell Gas In Your Home
Most gasses are tasteless, odorless and colorless, so there is a considerable amount of danger when flammable gas goes unnoticed. However, a chemical called mercaptan is added to gas, giving it the smell of sulfur or rotten eggs, which may be your first indicator that you have a gas leak. Here’s what to do if you smell gas in your home:
Don’t Flip the Switch
All it takes is a spark for a gas fire to ignite. Flipping a light switch or lighting a match in a gas-filled room can cause a gas explosion that could result in serious injuries or fatalities and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.
Evacuate Immediately and Call 911
Get your family out of the house. If you can, bring your pets too, but ensure your safety first. Odorless gas is dangerous. Not only can it cause a gas explosion, but the fumes can cause serious injury to the body. Dial 911, even if you’re not sure it’s gas. Your local fire department will come and determine if there is a gas leak or not.
Get Your Lines Checked
Once it is safe to reenter your home, contact a plumber to determine what lines need to be fixed or replaced. Be aware, it may cost several thousand dollars to replace your gas line. HIre someone to do periodic inspections to maintain the lines throughout your home.
If by chance you do experience a gas fire, call SERVPRO of Ames at (515) 233-4544 to help clean up and restore your Ames, Boone, Madrid, Huxley or Ballad home to its original state, “Like it never even happened.”
SERVPRO of Ames Knows How to Handle Hoarding
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Hoarding disorder is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them.” A person with a hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of items. Many people with hoarding tendencies don’t see their habits as a problem, which requires the situation to be handled with sensitivity and patience. At SERVPRO of Ames, we know how to handle this.
Our specialists often encounter hoarding when we are called to a home for water damage or a fire loss. And because we’re experienced with hoarding situations, we know how to handle each case in the most professional way possible as we work with you and/or an insurance company regarding the contents that are covered. Once the insurance company has approved what contents a policy covers, we take care of cleaning, drying, packing and storing the items so work on the fire or water loss can begin.
We also receive calls from family members to go through items and clean up a home after the death of a loved one. In these situations, our crew is careful to make sure they understand which possessions should be retained as they work through the contents of a house. Family members are welcome to assist us as we sort through the deceased person’s belongings.
Each case is unique and sensitive, and we treat our customers with respect and professionalism throughout the process. Call SERVPRO of Ames at (515) 233-4544 right away if you experience a water or fire loss or if you need help with a hoarding property in Boone or Story County.
SERVPRO of Ames Takes on Any Size Commercial Disasters
SERVPRO's large loss team can take on any commercial disaster of any size.
SERVPRO of Ames takes on commercial disasters, no matter how large, whether from a tornado, hurricane, fire, flood or a derecho like we recently experienced here in central Iowa. We’re part of a nationwide network of more than 1,700 strategically positioned SERVPRO franchises on standby and ready to mobilize when large disaster teams are needed.
We Have the Right Team for Big Jobs
We start by assessing the damage. In the event we need more feet on the ground and extra resources, we contact the SERVPRO Commercial Large Loss Division, staffed by elite large-loss specialists who are prequalified to handle any size disaster. They immediately dispatch any needed personnel to the site and set up a local command center with a commercial operations manager to supervise the loss and ensure communication is seamless and remediation is completed as quickly as possible.
For example, we recently received a call about a large commercial fire near Ames. We immediately contacted the SERVPRO Large Loss Division to help complete an assessment and put together a scope of estimated work. SERVPRO was there within hours and was the first company on the scene with a large loss project manager to work directly with the client and the insurance company and quickly present an evaluation and estimate.
Our National Team Knows What It’s Doing
When you call SERVPRO of Ames with a large loss, you’re also calling a national disaster team — one of the best you can get. We’re different than other large response teams because we quickly and efficiently dispatch professionals who have the same high-level training. That’s why so many hotel owners, property managers, universities, municipalities and even the Pentagon have relied on SERVPRO for recovery from large disasters.
Call us right away at (515) 233-4544 if your commercial business, school, city or township in Boone or Story county experiences a large loss. You can be sure we’ll respond immediately with all the staff, resources and experience needed to handle the recovery process smoothly and efficiently.
When You Sustain Storm Damage, Depend on SERVPRO of Ames
Call SERVPRO of Ames if your property is damaged from a severe storm.
It’s always a serious and stressful situation when your home or commercial property is damaged during a severe storm. While some storm damage can be simple to deal with, large storms can bring water, electrical and structural damage into the mix, which is why choosing a restoration company that can handle anything is key—as well as choosing one that is a legitimate business with your best interests in mind.
Starting the recovery process following storm damage may feel overwhelming, but it’s worth putting in the effort to make sure it is done right, including finding a restoration company you can count on.
Why SERVPRO of Ames Is the Best for Storm Damage
We’ve built a strong reputation. Many times after a storm unscrupulous companies will move into an area, obtain partial payment and never be heard from again. Needless to say, these companies are usually not community members or restoration industry leaders—but we are. We’ve worked hard to build a reputation that showcases our trustworthiness, and when you work with us, you will see that reflected in everything we do.
The resources we have are scalable. Regardless of how large the storm is or how much of the area it impacted, you can count on us to be able to help no matter what. With our national SERVPRO® partners by our side, we can call for reinforcements when needed to make sure we can scale up and provide excellent service after storms of any caliber.
The service you will get is unparalleled, at any hour. Discovering you have damage will never be an enjoyable process, but no matter when you discover it, we will be around to help. We are available 24 hours a day, meaning whenever you discover damage, you can give us a call. We will immediately begin formulating a response to tackle your damage and return your property to its pre-storm state.
When you experience damage from a storm to your home or commercial building, you can always depend on us to handle it. Call SERVPRO of Ames right away at (515) 233-4544.
Protect Your Finished Basement With a Sump Pump
Your basement is finally nicely carpeted, stocked with food and drinks, filled with electronics, a home entertainment system and comfy furniture. But are you prepared if a strong summer storm threatens to flood your basement and ruin everything there? This is when it’s important to consider installing a sump pump.
Putting a sump pump at the lowest point of your house can help with flooding prevention. While not the prettiest sight, a sump pump can save you the thousands of dollars it can cost to clean up and restore a flooded basement. And if your basement floods once, chances are it will flood again.
A sump pump has two parts: a float switch and a mechanical pump. The entire mechanism is placed in the pit of the sump pump, which is at the lowest level of a house’s basement. When moisture leaks into the basement, the water level rises, eventually lifting the float switch high enough that it activates the pump. The water is then pumped out of the basement through a discharge pipe.
Sump pumps also have the ability to be connected to a dehumidifier, which will help pull the moisture out of the air and dump it directly into your sump pump. This helps prevent mold formation, which is another problem for basements. Most newer homes in the Midwest require a sump pump. If yours does not, we suggest doing your research and looking into it. They can save your home before a crisis hits.
If you do happen to experience flooding or water in your basement, call SERVPRO of Ames right away, and we’ll be there quickly to assess the damage and start restoring your basement back to its original condition, “Like it never even happened.” Call (515) 233-4544, anytime, day or night.
Call SERVPRO of Ames to Remove Sewage Water Safely
Many Story and Boone County homeowners have recently experienced a double whammy from both water damage and power outages after an unprecedented derecho storm ripped through the state. This problem combination makes homes susceptible to mold growth and harmful bacteria or viruses, especially when the floodwater includes sewage. Porous materials like carpet, carpet pads and insulation are breeding grounds for mold and bacteria, which can quickly cause foul odor and risk of severe illness from mold spores or dangerous pathogens. The sooner you can start cleaning up after water damage, the sooner you can stop mold and bad bacteria from growing in susceptible areas of your house.
Carpets and pads that have been damaged by sewage immediately need to be removed and disposed of since this is considered a category-3 loss. Sewage damage is the most dangerous form of water cleanup because the possibility of blood-borne pathogens and other contaminants is high.
If a company were to just clean sewage-damaged carpet, assuming it seemed fine, there is no guarantee the carpet would be clean or safe. Once the room became warm, you would almost immediately smell the sewage that was left behind in the carpet. This indicates bacteria or mold remains and would still leave you and your family in danger.
Sewage leaves too many unknowns for a company to assume a cleaning is enough to take care of the problem. The possibility of remaining fecal matter and disease-causing pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli put you and your family at high risk.
Our staff at SERVPRO of Ames is trained to handle sewage damage safely and effectively. We make sure that we eliminate all the contaminants that pose health risks and never take shortcuts. We do it well and we do it right. If your home has had any amount of water damage, give us a call right away to come take care of it for you. You can reach us any time, day or night, at (515) 233-4544.