Preparing Your Home for Cold Weather
As the temperatures drop and winter approaches, it's time to start thinking about how to keep your home cozy and warm. Proper preparation not only ensures your comfort during the chilly months but also helps to conserve energy and reduce heating costs. In this blog, SERVPRO of Columbus will explore practical tips and strategies for getting your home winter-ready.
- Check and Insulate Windows and Doors: Windows and doors are common culprits for heat loss. Inspect them for drafts and seal any gaps with weather-stripping or caulk. Consider adding heavy curtains or thermal blinds to windows for an extra layer of insulation. For an even more effective solution, invest in double-glazed windows.
- Service Your Heating System: Schedule a professional inspection and servicing of your heating system before winter arrives. This ensures that it's running efficiently and helps identify any potential issues before they become major problems. Regular maintenance can extend the lifespan of your system and reduce energy consumption.
- Install a Programmable Thermostat: A programmable thermostat allows you to set different temperatures for various times of the day, optimizing energy use. Lower the temperature when you're away or sleeping, and program it to warm up before you wake up or return home. This simple adjustment can significantly reduce heating costs.
- Seal Leaks and Insulate: Inspect your home for leaks in the walls, floors, and ceilings. Use caulk or insulation to seal gaps, particularly around pipes, vents, and electrical outlets. Attic insulation is especially crucial in preventing heat from escaping through the roof.
- Stock up on Winter Supplies: Prepare for potential power outages by stocking up on essentials such as batteries, flashlights, blankets, and non-perishable food items. Ensure your heating system is not reliant on electricity alone, or have a backup heating source like a generator or space heaters.
- Reverse Ceiling Fans: Most ceiling fans have a switch to change the direction of the blades. During the winter, set your fans to rotate clockwise at a low speed. This helps distribute warm air that rises to the ceiling, making your home feel warmer without increasing the thermostat setting.
- Maintain the Fireplace and Chimney: If you have a fireplace, have it inspected and cleaned before the winter season. Ensure the damper is working correctly and invest in a chimney cap to prevent debris and animals from entering. Burning seasoned hardwood is more efficient and produces less creosote buildup.
- Winterize Outdoor Spaces: Protect outdoor water fixtures by draining and shutting off exterior faucets. Store or cover patio furniture to prevent damage. Clean gutters to avoid ice dams that could lead to roof leaks, and trim branches that could pose a threat during winter storms.
By taking the time to prepare your home for the cold weather, you not only create a warm and inviting space but also contribute to energy efficiency and cost savings. These simple steps can make a significant difference in your comfort and well-being during the winter months. So, grab your toolkit, make a checklist, and get ready to embrace the season with a cozy, well-prepared home.
Winter Safety Tips
Severe winter weather comes with dangerously low temperatures and sometimes with strong winds, icing, sleet and freezing rain. Winter storms are “Deceptive Killers” because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm. Instead, people die in traffic accidents on icy roads and of hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold. It is important to be prepared for severe winter weather before it strikes, so keep in mind the following tips:
- Things to keep in the trunk of each car: a snow shovel, snow chains and some rock salt or other environmentally safe products to melt ice and snow, just in case the car gets stuck in snow.
- The windshield shouldn’t be deiced by pouring hot water on it – the old fashioned way: the ice scraper is much safer. The temperature difference between the hot water and a freezing car may crack the windshield.
- The car speed must be kept steady and below the speed limit when roads are icy or the threat of ice is imminent.
- When hitting a patch of ice, it is much safer to gently turn the steering wheel in the direction you are sliding and lightly tap the brake, instead of slamming on the brakes and overcorrecting.
- The curtains on south-facing windows should be kept opened to allow sunlight into the home, keeping it warmer.
- Frozen water pipes, should be deiced by applying heat slowly, beginning at the faucet and working towards the coldest section of the pipe. Using an electric heater to thaw frozen water pipes must be avoided, as it may lead to electrocution if something goes wrong.
- It is best to clear snow off roof by using a snow roof rake, instead of climbing onto the roof and risking damaging the structure of the roof and falling off.
- House gutters must be cleaned regularly. This will not only promote good drainage, but also help prevent ice damming. Ice damming occurs when water gets trapped and freezes when the temperatures drop.
- In case of a power outage, using kerosene heaters or any camping or barbecuing heating device must be avoided to prevent Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning.
- Bright sunshine reflecting off of snow can cause macular degeneration and even contribute to age-related eye disease, therefore sunglasses should be worn during winter too.
- A broad-spectrum sunscreen must be applied on the face and other exposed areas before going outside.
- Gloves must always be worn when working or playing outside to prevent frostbite, itchy, dry and cracked skin.
- When temperatures go down, multiple clothing layers, preferably made of wool or synthetic materials such as polypropylene, are recommended. Cotton can lead to hypothermia, especially after it gets wet.
How to Prevent Mold in Your Home
Mold is an unwelcome guest in any home. Not only can it be unsightly and produce musty odors, but it can also pose health risks. Preventing mold growth in your home is essential for maintaining a healthy and comfortable living environment. In this blog, we'll explore effective strategies to keep your home mold-free.
Mold is a type of fungus that thrives in moist, humid conditions. It reproduces through tiny spores that can be found in the air. Mold can grow on various surfaces, including walls, ceilings, floors, and even household items. To prevent mold, it's essential to understand its causes and how to address them effectively.
- Maintain Proper Ventilation
One of the most effective ways to prevent mold growth is to ensure good ventilation throughout your home. Adequate air circulation helps reduce humidity levels and prevents moisture from accumulating in confined spaces. Here's how you can achieve this:
Use exhaust fans: Install exhaust fans in areas where moisture is common, such as the bathroom and kitchen. These fans help remove humidity from the air, reducing the risk of mold growth.
Open windows: When weather conditions allow, open windows to let fresh air circulate through your home. This can help reduce indoor humidity levels.
- Control Indoor Humidity
High humidity is a primary factor that encourages mold growth. Keeping indoor humidity levels in check is crucial for mold prevention. Ideally, indoor humidity should be kept between 30% and 50%. To achieve this:
Use a dehumidifier: Invest in a good quality dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air. Place it in areas prone to high humidity, such as basements and bathrooms.
Repair leaks: Promptly fix any leaks in your plumbing, roof, or windows. Leaks can introduce excess moisture into your home, creating the perfect environment for mold.
- Properly Insulate and Ventilate Your Home
Proper insulation and ventilation are essential to regulate temperature and prevent condensation. Condensation can lead to mold growth on walls and ceilings. Here's what you can do:
Insulate your home: Adequate insulation helps maintain consistent indoor temperatures and minimizes the risk of condensation. Insulate your walls, attic, and crawl spaces.
Check your HVAC system: Ensure your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system is working efficiently and includes proper ventilation. Regular maintenance can help prevent moisture buildup.
- Use Mold-Resistant Products
When renovating or building your home, consider using mold-resistant materials and paints. These products are designed to inhibit mold growth and can be particularly useful in moisture-prone areas. Look for paints and materials labeled as "mold-resistant" or "mold-inhibiting."
- Keep Your Home Clean
Regular cleaning is another key element in mold prevention. Dust and dirt can provide a food source for mold, so keeping your home clean can help prevent it from establishing itself. Pay special attention to:
Bathrooms: Clean and disinfect bathroom surfaces regularly, especially the shower and bathtub areas.
Kitchens: Wipe down kitchen surfaces and appliances to prevent food residue and moisture accumulation.
Carpets and upholstery: Clean and vacuum these regularly, as they can trap dust and moisture.
- Monitor Your Home's Foundation
Examine your home's foundation for cracks or other structural issues that might allow water to enter. Ensure that your gutters and downspouts are functioning properly to direct rainwater away from your home.
- Use Mold-Resistant Paint
Consider using mold-resistant paint on interior walls in areas prone to moisture, such as bathrooms and kitchens. These paints contain antimicrobial agents that inhibit mold growth.
Preventing mold in your home is essential for the health and well-being of your family and the longevity of your property. By maintaining proper ventilation, controlling indoor humidity, insulating and ventilating your home, using mold-resistant products, keeping your home clean, monitoring your home's foundation, and using mold-resistant paint, you can create a mold-free environment. Remember, prevention is key, as mold can be difficult to remove once it takes hold. Stay proactive and enjoy a healthier, more comfortable living space.
Fall Fire Safety Tips
As the leaves change color and the temperature drops, it’s easy to get lost in the excitement of the fall season. However, it’s important to prioritize fire safety during this time. With decorations going up for Halloween and the use of heating devices on the rise, there are a few crucial fall fire safety tips to keep in mind. Remember, a little extra caution can go a long way in ensuring a happy and healthy fall for everyone.
Fall Fire Safety Tips
- Change Smoke/Carbon Detector Batteries and Test the Alarms. Changing your smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries is a big part of fall fire safety. This ensures the alarms don’t fail when you turn the heat on in your home. Don’t forget to test the smoke alarms after inserting the new batteries. Check that all fire extinguishers in your home are also in working order.
- ThoroughlyCheck and Service Your Heating Units:
- Have your HVAC system inspected, cleaned, and serviced by a certified HVAC contractor. Check and replace furnace filters with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters.
- If you use space heaters, keep at least three feet of space around them. Don’t place fabrics on space heaters to dry, as they are flammable and can spark a fire. Always turn the heaters off when going to bed.
- Prefer to rely on your fireplace instead? Hire a professional chimney sweep to inspect and clean your chimney before starting the season’s first fire. Keep flammable objects at least three feet away from the fireplace and place a mesh metal screen around it. If children and pets are in your household, ensure they don’t get too close to the fireplace.
Hurricane vs. Tropical Storm: Understanding the Difference
Nature has a way of showcasing its immense power through various weather phenomena, including hurricanes and tropical storms. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they represent distinct meteorological events with varying levels of intensity and potential for destruction. In this blog, we will delve into the key differences between hurricanes and tropical storms, shedding light on their formation, characteristics, and impacts.
Tropical Storm: A tropical storm begins its journey as a tropical disturbance, which is a cluster of thunderstorms with a weak cyclonic circulation. When the wind speeds within this disturbance reach a sustained level of 39 to 73 miles per hour (63 to 118 kilometers per hour), it is classified as a tropical storm. At this stage, the storm is assigned a name from a predetermined list for tracking purposes.
Hurricane: A hurricane, on the other hand, evolves from a tropical storm that has gained further strength. When the sustained winds within a tropical storm reach or exceed 74 miles per hour (119 kilometers per hour), it is upgraded to hurricane status. Hurricanes are categorized on a scale from Category 1 (weakest) to Category 5 (strongest) based on their sustained wind speeds, with Category 5 hurricanes having winds greater than 157 miles per hour (252 kilometers per hour).
2. Structure and Characteristics
Tropical Storm: Tropical storms are characterized by their well-defined, low-pressure centers and spiral bands of thunderstorms. They often have a less organized structure compared to hurricanes, with weaker winds and less intense rainfall. While they can still pose significant threats, tropical storms are generally less destructive than hurricanes.
Hurricane: Hurricanes are more organized and have a distinct eye at their center, which is a region of calm and relatively clear skies. Surrounding the eye, there is a tightly wound spiral of thunderstorms called the eyewall, where the most intense winds and heaviest rainfall occur. Hurricanes are capable of causing widespread damage due to their powerful winds, torrential rain, and storm surge, which is a rapid rise in sea level along the coast.
Tropical Storm: Tropical storms can bring heavy rainfall, leading to localized flooding, and strong winds that may result in power outages and damage to buildings and trees. The impact of a tropical storm can vary depending on factors like its size, forward speed, and the topography of the affected area. In some cases, tropical storms can intensify into hurricanes before making landfall, increasing their potential for devastation.
Hurricane: Hurricanes are renowned for their capacity to wreak havoc on a massive scale. Their strong winds can topple buildings, uproot trees, and generate tornadoes. The heavy rainfall associated with hurricanes often leads to widespread flooding, posing a significant threat to both life and property. Additionally, the storm surge generated by hurricanes can inundate coastal areas, causing catastrophic damage.
4. Preparedness and Response
Tropical Storm: While tropical storms are less severe than hurricanes, they still require thorough preparedness and response efforts. Residents in the storm's path should stay informed through weather updates, secure outdoor items, stock up on essential supplies, and be prepared for potential power outages and flooding.
Hurricane: Hurricanes demand even more rigorous preparedness and response measures. Evacuation orders may be issued for areas in the hurricane's path, and emergency shelters are set up to provide refuge for those in need. Residents are advised to have a hurricane preparedness kit, including non-perishable food, water, flashlights, and batteries. Authorities and relief organizations work tirelessly to ensure the safety and well-being of affected communities.
In summary, while both hurricanes and tropical storms originate from tropical disturbances, they differ significantly in terms of their wind speeds, structure, and potential for destruction. Understanding these differences is crucial for coastal residents and emergency responders to make informed decisions and take appropriate actions when faced with the threat of these powerful weather events. Whether it's a tropical storm or a full-blown hurricane, preparedness, and safety should always be a top priority.
Fire Prevention in Your Home: Safety Tips and Best Practices
This damage was due to a grease fire that was quickly put out leaving shattered debris scattered throughout the kitchen.
A house fire is one of the most devastating events a family can experience. It can result in loss of property, injury, or even death. However, many house fires are preventable through simple safety measures and awareness. In this blog, we will discuss essential fire prevention tips to help keep you and your loved ones safe in your home.
- Install Smoke Alarms
Smoke alarms are your first line of defense against house fires. Install them in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of your home. Test them monthly and replace the batteries at least once a year, or as soon as you hear a low-battery chirp. Smoke alarms save lives by providing early warning of a fire.
- Have a Fire Escape Plan
Create a fire escape plan and practice it regularly with your family. Make sure everyone knows two ways to escape from every room in your home. Designate a meeting place outside, away from the house, where everyone can gather after escaping. This plan can be a lifesaver in the event of a fire.
- Fire Extinguishers
Keep fire extinguishers in key areas of your home, such as the kitchen and garage. Learn how to use them and ensure they are in good working order. Remember the PASS technique: Pull the pin, Aim the nozzle, Squeeze the handle, and Sweep from side to side. If a fire is too large to handle with a fire extinguisher, evacuate immediately and call 911.
- Kitchen Safety
The kitchen is a common location for house fires due to cooking mishaps. To prevent kitchen fires:
- Never leave cooking unattended, especially when frying, broiling, or grilling.
- Keep flammable items like dish towels and paper towels away from stovetops.
- Turn pot handles inward to prevent accidental spills.
- Keep a fire extinguisher within reach.
- Regularly clean the oven, stovetop, and exhaust fan to prevent grease buildup.
- Electrical Safety
Electrical issues are another leading cause of house fires. To reduce the risk:
- Replace damaged or frayed cords and avoid overloading outlets.
- Install surge protectors to safeguard electronics.
- Have a qualified electrician inspect your home's wiring if you experience frequent electrical problems.
- Unplug appliances when not in use, especially those with heating elements.
- Heating Safety
During the colder months, heating equipment can pose fire hazards. Follow these precautions:
- Keep space heaters at least three feet away from flammable materials.
- Inspect and clean chimneys and flues regularly.
- Use screens in front of fireplaces and wood-burning stoves.
- Don't leave heating equipment unattended.
- Smoking Safety
If you or a family member smokes, be extra cautious:
- Smoke outside and use deep, sturdy ashtrays.
- Ensure cigarette butts and ashes are completely extinguished before disposal.
- Don't smoke in bed or when drowsy.
- Flammable Materials
Store flammable materials like gasoline, propane, and chemicals in approved containers and away from the house. Keep them in a well-ventilated area and away from ignition sources.
Preventing a house fire starts with awareness and simple safety measures. By following the tips mentioned in this blog, you can significantly reduce the risk of a fire in your home. Remember, fire prevention is a shared responsibility, and it's crucial to educate your family members about fire safety and regularly review your fire escape plan. Taking these precautions can save lives and protect your home from the devastating effects of a fire.
Georgia Basement Floods!
A basement can flood at any time, although flooding most often occurs during heavy rainfall. Basements are inherently prone to flooding because they are the lowest level of a building and are normally built partly or entirely below ground level. There are a number of reasons why your basement could flood, including:
- A blocked or failed sewer lateral pipe
- Heavy rain causes surface water to pool around your home
- Storm sewer backup
- Sanitary sewer backup
- Foundation drainage failure
- Water supply-line break or hot-water tank failure
If flood water is not handled quickly and properly, it can jeopardize your health and safety, and cause severe damage to your home’s structure. Remember, the longer you wait, the worse the problem will get.
The bottom line: a flooded basement can jeopardize your health, safety, and your home’s integrity. It’s worth making a call to SERVPRO of Columbus, GA and let our trained, professional crews handle the situation safely and correctly. We have earned the trust of hundreds of homeowners, business owners, and property professionals.
Crime Scene & Trauma Clean Up
SERVPRO technicians follow OSHA and EPA protocols to help transform an unsafe environment back into a clean, safe home or business. Their first focus is always safety, since crime or accident scenes may involve bloodborne pathogens, harmful chemicals, and other dangers. SERVPRO Franchise Professionals will always treat your property and the people involved with the greatest empathy and respect in the face of trying circumstances.
Crime Scene and Trauma Cleaning Services
- Fingerprint powder and evidence-gathering chemicals
- Tear gas and pepper spray residues
- Fire extinguisher residue
- Blood, bodily fluids, and tissue remnants
Common Trauma and Crime Scene Scenarios
Crime Scene Residues
From fingerprint powder and evidence-gathering chemicals to tear gas and pepper spray residues, SERVPRO Franchise Professionals can clean and restore your property after a crime scene investigation.
SERVPRO Franchise Professionals remove and dispose of bodily fluids, tissue and other potentially pathogenic substances resulting from accident, trauma, crime or death. Trained SERVPRO Franchise Professionals clean, disinfect and deodorize the structure.
SERVPRO realizes many of the chemicals used in the production of illegal drugs such as methamphetamine are volatile and can leave harmful residues throughout a structure. SERVPRO Franchise Professionals follow federal and state guidelines to properly clean all surfaces.
Did you know: Homeowner Polices can assist/cover these type of claims.
Do you have Mold? Have you asked yourself if it's due to the moisture in my home?
- Keep humidity levels as low as you can—no higher than 50%--all day long. An air conditioner or dehumidifier will help you keep the level low. Humidity levels change throughout the day as changes occur in the moisture in the air and the air temperature, so check the humidity levels more than once a day.
- If you see condensation or moisture collecting on windows, walls or pipes ACT QUICKLY to dry the wet surface and reduce the moisture/water source. Condensation can be a sign of high humidity.
- Be sure your home has enough ventilation. Use exhaust fans, which vent outside your home in the kitchen and bathroom. Make sure your clothes dryer vents outside your home.
- Fix any leaks in your home’s roof, walls, or plumbing so mold does not have moisture to grow.
- Clean up and dry out your home thoroughly and quickly (within 24–48 hours) after flooding.
- Remove or replace carpets and upholstery that have been soaked and cannot be dried promptly. Consider not using carpet in rooms or areas like bathrooms or basements that may have a lot of moisture.
Call SERVPRO of Columbus 706-568-1934
- Visual Mold Inspection (Call for Pricing)
- Mold Testing (Call for Pricing)
You may have a small water damage and not even know it. In situations like this with appliances that are big and difficult to move or see behind, its possible to have a small leak.
Now in this photo everything looks normal. If you take a closer look you can see that baseboard has swollen and pulled away from the wall. The baseboard being made of wood, expands when being subjected to moisture.
We understand that you can not always look behind big appliances or know exactly what to look for. This is why we have experienced professionals ready to help serve you 24/7 to help find potential damage.
Ask about our Emergency Ready Profile to help equip you with the knowledge and information to help during an unexpected disaster.