9 Smoke Odor Removal Musts
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"I live in a crack house. Well, it used to be a crack house until the new owner threw out the old tenants and restored the home, to the relief of the neighborhood. But I’m afraid that it wasn’t completely restored. I’m a non-smoker, and on humid days the smell of cigarette smoke can be pretty pervasive in some rooms. I’m guessing a lot of it may come from the popcorn ceiling that was only painted over when it probably should have been removed. But on fire restoration jobs, this is a much bigger issue."
One of the most critical concerns for fire restoration contractors is failing to control or eradicate odors. This problem can lead to frustrated customers as well as potential legal and financial dangers. Eliminating this problem is made more difficult when remodeling work was undertaken by either inexperienced homeowners or unprofessional contractors, as their alterations may have contributed to hidden places for fire and smoke damage to linger.
Remediating a fire loss may also take longer, meaning you might have to wait a while before you’re paid. In fact, some contractors have avoided getting involved in fire restoration because it seems too complicated. But it’s not, as long as you appreciate the principles and correct techniques of fire restoration and odor control. Here are some things to remember:
- Make sure there’s a straightforward exchange of information between you, the customer, the insurance adjuster and any possible subcontractors. Communicating clearly and setting expectations is a critical component of the job.
- Get a written agreement from the homeowner on exactly what areas have been damaged by the fire and what items should be salvaged or discarded. You don’t want them coming back to you later claiming you’ve trashed an heirloom or didn’t finish the job.
- The way that fire and water damage jobs are handled do have some similarities, but they can’t be interchanged. Confirm that only techs with at least a Fire and Smoke Restoration Technician (FSRT) certification are allowed to work on the site. Being Odor Control Technician (OCT) certified is also helpful.
- Smoke and fire residues can be poisonous, as fires can include the demolition of plastic, foam, fabric, carpet, wood products, synthetic textiles, and asbestos-containing materials. Ash and smoke can also cause widespread corrosion, etching and staining, as well as persistent powerful odors. So removing these and their sources should be your first priority.
- If the damage is localized, contain those areas to assist in removing odors.
- Carefully inspect all areas that may have numerous layers of wall board. These may hide unexpected gaps and voids that turn into superhighways for circulating smoke and odor.
- Examine all wall cavities, duct work, and plumbing chases to establish whether they suffered any smoke residue or fire damage.
- Use a borescope to discover any damage that may otherwise have been impossible to see without having to completely remove a part of the structure. If the fire is recent, use of a thermal imaging camera may reveal hidden warmer areas, indicating possible fire damage.
- Aside from losing their valuables, the majority of homeowners are underinsured. They may even have to take up temporary lodging. So you’re going to be dealing with some very distraught people. Train yourself and your employees on how to be empathetic and ways to successfully communicate with them.
When eliminating malodors on fire jobs, remember that there are several factors that can impact the strength of the odor:
- Size - The bigger the fire, the more objects have burned, and thus there’s been more smoke.
- Length -The longer a structure has been exposed to smoke, the more deeply odor has seeped into porous materials.
- Space - When a fire occurs in a smaller room, the smoke odor becomes more intense and concentrated.
- Stuff - Not all odors are equal. For instance, burning wood, plastic and protein all have very different smells and consistency. This may influence the types of odor eliminators you use.
WHERE the damage occurred and WHAT burned will always be your two main concerns in fire restoration. Knowing the full answers to those questions will likely ensure that your restoration efforts will be complete and that you’ll be able to eliminate all of those irritating malodors, while at the same time eliminating any call backs.
What To Do When your Business Encounters Extreme Damage
Remain positive and hopeful because SERVPRO of E. Vancouver is here to help 24 hours a day, 365 days a year! 360-254-0049
Natural disasters can cause significant and costly damages to homes, roads and, of course, local businesses. While you should always be prepared for such events, by maintaining adequate insurance coverage and secure file backups, you sometimes get little warning before disaster strikes. And if something happens, you'll want to get your business back up and running as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, the road to recovery isn't always easy. A previous Business News Daily article about recovery from 2012's Superstorm Sandy reported that just 25 percent of small businesses had backups of critical programs and data before the storm, and even fewer (20 percent) said they had protected their buildings from the storm or prepared emergency survival kits.
Execute your business continuity plan
Your business continuity plan should prepare you for major disaster scenarios, such as the loss or unavailability of IT systems, key people or a facility third party. Make sure key personnel will have access to the plan on secured mobile devices immediately after a disaster.
Don't have a business continuity plan? This Business News Daily guideoutlines how to create one.
Check your backed-up data
You should have already backed up and safely stored your most critical data: your business license, major contracts and legal documents, tax returns and financial statements, and other critical business and customer documents. Following a disaster, make sure your vital records are still securely accessible from the devices you're using.
Communicate with your employees and external parties
Leverage your website, social media channels and text messaging to reach your employees, customers, partners and vendors. Reassure your customers that you're still in business, while making sure that no communications will inadvertently create legal liability or adversely affect service-level agreements.
Contact your insurance company
Once you and your employees are safe and accounted for after a disaster, survey the damage. Contact your insurance company to file a claim. You should always do an occasional check-up to ensure you have adequate coverage for major disaster types, including cybersecurity insurance. Office break-ins and vandalism may occur during a disaster, and if someone steals computer equipment or paper documents containing personally identifiable information, and the information was not encrypted, you may have a legal requirement to notify your customers. To be safe, encrypt your customer data, digitize paper documents and store all critical data in a secure, cloud-based document-management system.
If your insurance doesn't cover the full cost of the damage, you may be eligible for a disaster loan from the Small Business Administration of up to $2 million. The SBA may even provide working capital loans, even if you didn't have any property damage.
Remain positive and hopeful because SERVPRO of E. Vancouver is here to help 24 hours a day, 365 days a year!
Source: Business News Daily
What To Do Before, During, and After a Fire
Contact the fire experts at SERVPRO of E. Vancouver / Clark Co. for further assistance in recovering from the fire @ (360) 254-0049
Before A Fire
- Install the right number of smoke alarms. Test them once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year.
- Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one.
- Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home and know the family meeting spot outside of your home.
- Establish a family emergency communications plan and ensure that all household members know who to contact if they cannot find one another.
- Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year. Press the smoke alarm test button or yell “Fire“ to alert everyone that they must get out.
- Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.
- Teach household members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire.
If A Fire Starts
- Know how to safely operate a fire extinguisher
- Remember to GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL 9-1-1 or your local emergency phone number.
- Yell "Fire!" several times and go outside right away. If you live in a building with elevators, use the stairs. Leave all your things where they are and save yourself.
- If closed doors or handles are warm or smoke blocks your primary escape route, use your second way out. Never open doors that are warm to the touch.
- If you must escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your exit. Close doors behind you.
- If smoke, heat or flames block your exit routes, stay in the room with doors closed. Place a wet towel under the door and call the fire department or 9-1-1. Open a window and wave a brightly colored cloth or flashlight to signal for help.
- Once you are outside, go to your meeting place and then send one person to call the fire department. If you cannot get to your meeting place, follow your family emergency communication plan.
Recovering After A Fire
- Call 9-1-1. Give first aid where needed; cool and cover burns to reduce the chance of further injury or infection.
- Let friends and family know you’re safe.
- People and animals that are seriously injured or burned should be transported to professional medical or veterinary help immediately.
- Stay out of fire-damaged homes until local fire authorities say it is safe to re-enter.
- Contact your fire restoration and cleanup experts at SERVPRO of E. Vancouver / Clark Co. for further assistance in recovering from the fire @ (360) 254-0049.
Source: American Red Cross - National Sponsor of SERVPRO
What Is Black Mold?
If you suspect you have a mold problem, contact SERVPRO of E. Vancouver / Clark Co. immediately.
You may have seen sensational news reports that warn about the dangers of “black mold” or “toxic mold”. These reports can be alarming and confusing so it’s beneficial to get the facts to better understand mold.
Stachybotrys chartarum is the type of mold often called black mold, and it does produce allergens and irritants. However, many types of mold can produce allergens and irritants. Treat any mold with caution – stay out of affected areas and don’t touch or disturb the mold.
Learn more about mold and what to do until help arrives by visiting Mold Damage Tips.
How Do I Tell If It’s Black Mold?
Since many types of mold can cause reactions, you should contact us regardless of the color or type of mold. In many instances, multiple types of mold may exist in the same house or structure. If you suspect you have a mold problem, contact SERVPRO of E. Vancouver / Clark Co. immediately.
When water intrudes into your property, mold growth can start in as little as 48 hours. Consider the following mold facts:
- Mold is present almost everywhere, indoors and outdoors.
- Mold spores are microscopic, float along in the air, and may enter your home through windows, doors, or AC/heating systems or even hitch a ride indoors on your clothing or a pet.
- Mold spores thrive on moisture. Mold spores can quickly grow into colonies when exposed to water. These colonies may produce allergens and irritants.
- Before mold remediation can begin, any sources of water or moisture must be addressed. Otherwise the mold may return.
- Mold often produces a strong, musty odor, and that odor can lead you to possible mold problem areas.
- Even higher-than-normal indoor humidity can support mold growth. Keep indoor humidity below 45 percent.
Preparing Your Home For Winter Weather
If you encounter damage to your home this winter make sure you call SERVPRO of Vancouver 24 hours a day, 365 days a year! (360) 254-0049
If you live in the Northeast, Midwest, or Northwest you know the drill. Four to five months of heavy clothes, seeing your breath and generally freezing outside. Sometimes even elsewhere, Old Man Winter stops in for an unexpected visit. But beyond the inconvenience and discomfort, a winter storm or other severe weather conditions can cause real damage. So it's important to think about winter preparedness.
Protecting your home is vital. A frozen water pipe can burst and flood your house or basement. An ice dam in your gutter can cause water to seep into and saturate an interior wall. And then there’s your car. Making sure it’s prepped to face winter’s worst is just as critical. After all, what would happen if a blizzard stranded you in your car?
Some winter weather tips to help you get through a severe stretch of cold:
- Stay indoors during the storm.
- Walk carefully on snowy, icy walkways.
- Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. It’s a serious workout, and going at it too hard can bring on a heart attack − a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside.
- Stay dry. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits the cold rapidly.
- Watch for signs of frostbite: loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities. If any of these occur, get medical help immediately.
- Watch for signs of hypothermia: uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion.
- If any of the hypothermia symptoms appear, get yourself (or the victim) to a warm location, remove wet clothing, and warm the center of the body first. Give the patient warm, non-alcoholic beverages if they are conscious. And of course, get medical help as soon as possible.
Prepare your home
Some tips to brace your home for a winter storm:
- Clean out the gutters, disconnect and drain all outside hoses. If possible, shut off outside water valves.
- Insulate walls and attics, and caulk and weather-strip doors and windows.
- Repair roof leaks and remove tree branches that could get weighed down with ice or snow and fall on your house – or your neighbor's. (Avoid liability for the latter.)
- Wrap water pipes in your basement or crawl spaces with insulation sleeves to slow heat transfer.
- Consider an insulated blanket for your hot water heater.
- If you have a fireplace, keep the flue closed when you're not using it.
- Have a contractor check your roof to see if it would sustain the weight of a heavy snowfall.
- Make sure your furniture isn't blocking your home’s heating vents.
- During cold spells, keep cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate around pipes, particularly those in the kitchen and bathrooms.
- Keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets connected to pipes that run through unheated or unprotected spaces.
- If your house will be unattended during cold periods, consider draining the water system.
- Avoid ice dams – where water from melted snow refreezes in the gutters and seeps in under the roof, soaking interior walls. Here’s how:
- Ventilate your attic.
- Insulate the attic floor well to minimize the amount of heat rising through the attic from within the house.
- Consider having a water-repellent membrane installed under your roof covering.
Water Damage Caused by Ice Dams
If you encounter water damage this winter pick up the phone and call SERVPRO of Vancouver 24/7 365 days a year! (360) 254-0049.
An Ice Dam is a hump of ice that forms at the edge of a roof under certain wintertime conditions. An ice dam can damage both your roof and the inside of your home. It will put gutters and downspouts at risk too.
There are several things you can do to avoid getting an ice dam or to reduce the risk of damage after one has formed, but there’s really only one cure: a combination of better sealing, insulation, and venting in the attic and eaves.
HOW DO ICE DAMS FORM?
An ice dam forms when the roof over the attic gets warm enough to melt the underside of the layer of snow on the roof. The water trickles down between the layer of snow and the shingles until it reaches the eave of the roof, which stays cold because it extends beyond the side of the house. There, the water freezes, gradually growing into a mound of ice.
The flatter the pitch of the roof, the easier it is for an ice dam to get a grip. Gutters at the eaves can also trap snow and ice. If snow and ice build up high enough in the gutter, it can provide a foundation for an ice dam.
WHAT DAMAGE DO ICE DAMS CAUSE?
When an ice dam gets big enough, melted water backs up behind it and seeps underneath the shingles. Eventually, it will drip into the insulation and down into the ceilings and exterior walls beneath the eave, ruining sheetrock and paint. If the ice dam breaks free, it can pull shingles and gutters off with it, and it will damage anything it falls on: shrubs, windowsills, cars, pets, and people. If the roof sheathing stays wet, it can form mildew and start to rot.
HOW CAN YOU DEAL WITH AN ICE DAM?
There are two avenues of attack: dealing with an existing ice dam and preventing one in the first place.
DEALING WITH EXISTING ICE DAMS
1. Remove the ice dam by breaking it free in small chucks. Do NOT use an ax or other sharp tool! You’ll cut through the shingles. Instead, tap lightly with a blunt mallet. This is slow, dangerous work, so hire someone experienced at roofing. Even if you do it safely, the chunks of ice can take pieces of shingle with them.
2. Clear out gutters and downspouts. Again, this is ladder work and an easy way to damage either plastic or metal gutters and spouts.
3. Melt troughs through the ice dam with calcium chloride ice melter. Do NOT use rock salt! It will damage paint, metals, and plants beneath the eave and wherever the salty water drains.
A good trough-maker is a tube of cloth (a leg from an old pair of panty hose works well). Fill it with calcium chloride, tie off the top, and lay it vertically across the ice dam. It will slowly melt its way down through the dam, clearing a path for the underlying water to flow free.
PREVENTING ICE DAMS
You can scrape snow from the roof whenever it falls, using a snow rake from below or a broom or plastic shovel from above. BE CAREFUL: The first method can bury you in snow, while the second can send you slipping off the roof. Hire someone who knows how to use a safety line.
You can replace your shingle roof with standing seam or other metal roof. Or you can replace the bottom three feet or so of your shingle roof with a wide metal drip edge. Whatever you do, install a water-repellent membrane under any new roofing.
NOTE: If your roof is not very steep, an ice dam can still form on metal roofing and drip edges.
All of these methods treat the symptoms, not the underlying problem, which is the warm roof, caused by poor insulation and venting of the space under the roof. We have found that the only way to cure an ice dam – and prevent one in the first place – is to:
1. Seal all points where warm air leaks from the living space into the spaces immediately below the roof sheathing.
2. Insulate the living space well enough to prevent conduction and convection of heat through the ceiling.
3. Vent the space between the insulation and the roof sheathing, so any heat that does leak through is carried away.
Protect Your Home From Wildfire
If your home or business is affected by smoke or fire damage call your local experts at SERVPRO of E. Vancouver & Clark Co. (360) 254-0049
Are you prepared if your home is at risk because of a wildfire? With many wildfires surrounding the Pacific Northwest this summer here are some helpful tips to reduce damage to your residence.
1. Maintain Defensible Space (0–5 feet)
Use noncombustible materials such as gravel, brick, or concrete in this critical area adjacent to your home.
2. Reduce Siding Risks
Maintain 6-inch ground-to-siding clearance, and consider noncombustible siding.
3. Clean Debris from Roof
Regularly remove debris from your roof, since debris can be ignited by wind-blown embers.
4. Use a Class A Roof Covering
Class A fire-rated roofing products offer the best protection for homes.
5. Clean Out Gutters Regularly
Keep debris out of gutters since debris can be ignited by wind-blown embers. If used, gutter covers should be noncombustible.
6. Reduce Fence Risks
Burning fencing can generate embers and cause direct flame contact to your home. Use noncombustible fences and gates.
7. Keep Embers out of Eaves and Vents
Use 1/8-inch mesh to cover vents, and box-in open eaves to create a soffited eave.
8. Protect Windows
Use multi-pane, tempered glass windows, and close them when a wildfire threatens.
9. Reduce Deck Risks
At a minimum, use deck boards that comply with California requirements for new construction in wildfire-prone areas, remove combustibles under deck, and maintain effective defensible space.
10. Maintain Defensible Space (5–30 feet)
Remove shrubs under trees, prune branches that overhang your roof, thin trees, and remove dead vegetation. Move trailers/RVs and storage sheds from area, or build defensible space around these items.
The information found in this article was provided by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety.
If your home or business is affected by smoke or fire damage call your local experts at SERVPRO of E. Vancouver & Clark Co. (360) 254-0049
Home Vacation Preparation Checklist
If you come home to water or fire damage pick up the phone and call SERVPRO of East Vancouver / Clark Co. @ (360) 255-0049
Your vacation should be relaxing and worry-free. That’s why it’s a good idea to prepare your home before you leave on any long trip. Then, any problems on the home front are just one less thing to worry about.
Make your house look lived-in
An empty house is like an open invitation to burglars. To keep your house looking occupied:
- Stop the newspaper and mail – or ask a trusted neighbor to pick them up
- Park your car inside the garage, if you have one
- Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway occasionally so there’s activity at your house
- Put at least one light in your house on a timer
- Install a motion-activated sensor on an outdoor floodlight. (Burglars hate outdoor lighting – and that’s why we love it)
- Make sure your lawn stays trimmed
Take the necessary plumbing and electrical precautions
Running appliances while you’re away is not only a needless expense, it could also lead to costly problems. To avoid the possibility of an appliance breakdown while you're away:
- Unplug small appliances and electronic devices
- Put the water heater in “vacation” mode
- Turn off water valves to the dishwasher, washing machine and all sinks
- Set your thermostat to a temperature closer to outside temps (warmer in the summer, cooler in the winter) but which still protects your plants, pets and furniture
General home preparation
Other things to consider doing before your vacation:
- Notify your credit card company and home security company that you’ll be out of town
- Make sure your smoke detectors are working properly
- Leave your emergency contact information with a neighbor
- Dispose of any food that could go bad before you return from vacation
- Take out the kitchen trash – especially anything that might start to stink
- Run your garbage disposal with a half-cup of vinegar and some water
Following this home preparation checklist before you leave for your vacation could save you a headache later. If you come home to water or fire damage pick up the phone and call SERVPRO of East Vancouver / Clark Co. @ (360) 255-0049
This article is compliments of Nationwide Insurance and be found here.
Recommended Firework Safety Tips
SERVPRO of E. Vancouver / Clark Co. is here to help 24/7 365 days a year @ (360) 254-0049
With July 4th approaching soon this is a perfect time to review some of the basic tips for handling fireworks to prevent injury or damage to yours, or other's property. These tips are provided by The National Council On Firework Safety.
- Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
- Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting.
- A responsible adult SHOULD supervise all firework activities. Never give fireworks to children.
- Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
- Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
- Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
- Use fireworks OUTDOORS in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
- Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
- Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.
- Never carry fireworks in your POCKET or shoot them into METAL or GLASS containers.
- Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
- Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and place in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
- FAA regulations PROHIBIT the possession and transportation of fireworks in your checked baggage or carry-on luggage.
- Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.
And let’s not forget the safety of our pets!
- Don’t bring your pets to a fireworks display, even a small one.
- If fireworks are being used near your home, put your pet in a safe, interior room to avoid exposure to the sound.
- Make sure your pet has an identification tag, in case it runs off during a fireworks display.
- Never shoot fireworks of any kind (consumer fireworks, sparklers, fountains, etc.) near pets.
We wish you a happy and SAFE 4th of July, and we definitely hope that you will not be in need of a restoration company this year. In the event that you experience any kind of water, smoke, or fire damage to your home or office all of us here at SERVPRO of E. Vancouver / Clark Co. are here to help 24/7 365 days a year @ (360) 254-0049
Why Hire Your Local SERVPRO Professionals
Please reach out to us with questions or concerns 24/7 365 days a year (360) 254-0049
Water damage can happen to your home or business when you least expect it. Sometimes it may be as a result of leakages that you have been ignoring, or it can be an aftermath of a fire or flooding. Therefore, it might find you when you are not prepared financially to hire external help. So the first thing that will come to your mind is how to fix the water damage on your own to save money. You can do a very good job at dealing with water damage in your home in some situations, but if the damage is too severe, you will need the input of well-trained SERVPRO professionals to fix it for you. Here are the reasons why hiring professionals to do the work is the most prudent thing to do;
Once on site, professionals can quickly determine what items have been severely ruined by water damage. They will begin by getting rid of any porous items that could have come into contact with water because they tend to absorb too much water which can act as breeding grounds for harmful microbes. These items include mattresses, particle board, box springs, and pillows.
SERVPRO professionals will also identify any pockets that are holding excess moisture and remove the water. They have special equipment that they can use to measure moisture in hidden areas such as beneath tiles and other materials that do not become wet easily. When they find the hidden pockets, they will expose them to air by taking out the tile or material above it. They will also clean all areas with moisture using methods such as pressure washing with strong detergents. They will also accelerate the process of drying to prevent mold growth or any harmful bacteria. If the SERVPRO professionals discover the presence of bacteria or mold in your house, they will use mechanical or chemical methods to eradicate it.
At SERVPRO of E. Vancouver / Clark Co., we have experienced professionals who can spot compromised areas in your house and do everything possible to restore it. They are IICRC certified through a recognized organization.
Please reach out to us with questions or concerns 24/7 365 days a year (360) 254-0049