Downspouts: Saving Your Property for Centuries
A downspout is a great way to prevent rainwater from saturating the ground next to your property.
If you are like me, the sound of pouring rain is very relaxing, almost nap-inducing. But have you ever heard it sound like that you are in the middle of a monsoon and look out the window to see that it is only a light drizzle? Your gutters may be overflowing causing water to pool against your foundation. Now if this sounds familiar, we do have a previous blog touting how important it is to take the time to care for your gutter. Now, this blog is dedicated to the Downspout, one of the true heroes of preventing water damage in your basement or crawlspace.
A downspout is a vertical pipe that attaches to your property’s gutters and navigates the flow of water off of a roof and away from the base of your home. Sometimes a downspout is connected to a yard drainage system or sewer, but most redirect the water into the ground to be absorbed. Downspouts are centuries old; it is believed that the first water spout was built in 1240. They became part of one of the most intriguing features of gothic architecture, the gargoyle, decorative stone carvings and statues built onto the walls and roofs, with the statue’s mouth acting as the downspout to protect churches and castles from erosion. In fact, in architecture terms, the word gargoyle only applies to figures that serve as downspouts, all other stone carvings of creatures that are solely for decoration are referred to as a “grotesque.”
Modern downspouts not only prevent erosion, but they also prevent water from depositing against a structure and potentially entering via wicking, cracks, and other entryways like crawlspace doors. A finished basement can flood, damaging the floors, walls, and furniture. Standing water in crawlspace can elevate moisture levels, increasing the chance for microbial growth and negatively affecting the air quality inside your home. That is why it is important to make sure that your gutters are free of debris, and why you should put a significant amount of thought into how you design your flowerbeds that are close to your home. Checking the gutters after a severe storm can help catch debris from clogging a gutter or downspout, and that can prevent rain from overflowing from the gutters and depositing near your foundation. You might inadvertently create a dam out of mulch, forcing the water to pool too close to your home and cause the issue that you are trying to prevent. You can also purchase attachments that will extend the pour point and give you more control of where the water flows out of the downspout.
There are multiple ways that you can protect your home or property’s crawlspace, foundation, and basement. And having a well placed and maintained downspout is a fantastic addition to your arsenal.
If water from excessive rain and any other reason has flooded your basement or crawlspace, call the SERVPRO of East Greenville County team at 864-292-3495. We are #Ready to provide you with mitigation services and help you make it “Like it never even happened.”
The Bathroom Exhaust Fan. Your New Best Friend.
The primary purpose of the bathroom exhaust fan has been lost over time. It is actually there to control the moisture levels in the bathroom.
Homeownership can be exhausting. So many things beak or need updating, regular maintenance, and the bills. Sometimes it can be hard to tell if you own your home or if your home owns you. And it can be very easy to think a small repair can be put off and ignored, that is until it turns into a huge unavoidable issue. Let’s take a look at one such item; the bathroom exhaust fan.
The bathroom exhaust fan is the best friend you never knew you had, and you will miss him when he is gone. But it is only a small problem, right? Yes, it does help control odors in the bathroom, and when you spray all of those cleaning solutions in the sink and tub, it helps to pull those odors out too. You can buy candles and air fresheners, and open the nearest window while you are cleaning, that is cheaper and more convenient than paying to have it repaired or replaced. But what about the real purpose for the bathroom exhaust fan, the one that can help save you thousands in repair cost? I bet you are listening now.
Odor control is the most noticeable function of the exhaust fan, but it is moisture control that is the real benefit that it provides. Those long, hot showers after a long day that fog up the mirror, well they also “fog” up the walls and doors. The fan helps to quickly adjust the moisture levels in the bathroom, making the bathroom a less ideal environment for mold to develop. Some wooden doors and flooring types may also be prone to warping if they absorb too much moisture, the fan works to keep those intact too. A warped door can be a pain, but if the floor warps in the wrong spot, it can lead to the toilet leaking and even more water damage throughout the house.
So, although it may seem like an insignificant item that is easy to keep at the bottom of the “to-do” list, you should give the bathroom exhaust fan a little MVP treatment every once in a while. Dust it when you clean the bathroom, and if it breaks, get it fixed ASAP. After all, it is working in the background to save you money, just like a good friend.
South Carolina Severe Weather Preparedness Week
The SCEMD app is a great tool that allows users to create plans and stay up to date on weather alerts.
March 10th through the 16th is Severe Weather and Flood Preparedness Week in South Carolina. The week is designed to reinforce that severe storms, tornadoes, and floods can have a significant impact on our state, and as residents, we need to take the proper safety precautions. The National Weather Service and the South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) co-sponsor the week to promote awareness of the procedures that can help keep you safe during severe weather.
Meteorologists can track weather patterns to predict severe thunderstorms and flooding, but tornadoes are much more difficult to anticipate, and warnings may only be issued within minutes before striking. That is why it is essential to develop and practice an Emergency Action Plan at home and work in order to be as prepared as possible in the event of a tornado. Participating in tornado drills will help ensure that your family and co-workers are on the same page and know what action to take as well as their roles afterward. On Wednesday, March 13th at 9 AM there will be a statewide tornado drill, along with broadcast stations testing their emergency alert systems.
In South Carolina, the majority of tornadoes occur between March and May, but the ideal conditions for a tornado can happen at any time. That is why the National Weather Service has provided the following advice:
Before a Tornado
- Be alert to changing weather conditions.
- Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information.
- Look for approaching storms.
- Look for the following danger signs:
- Dark, often greenish sky
- Large hail
- A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
- Loud roar, similar to a freight train
- If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.
During a Tornado
- If you are under a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately.
- Get indoors to a pre-designated shelter area such as a basement, storm cellar or the lowest building level. If
there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away
from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls.
- If in a vehicle, trailer or mobile home, get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby
building or storm shelter.
- If unable to get indoors, lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. Be
aware of potential flooding and flying debris.
- Never try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.
After a Tornado
- Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
- Avoid downed power lines and report them to your utility company.
- Stay out of damaged buildings.
The SCDME also has an application to help you prepare and keep up to date during severe weather conditions. It is available for iPhone and Android operating systems.
Safety Is the Greatest Benefit
Fire can quickly spread from a chimney to the rest of a structure. Preventative maintenance can significantly reduce the risk of a fire.
In the ten years that I have lived in my home, I have used the fireplace only a handful of times, and all but two of them were when the power went out during a winter storm. I am sure that many of our readers get a lot of usage out of their fireplaces, even when it isn’t that cold outside, but how many of you regularly have your chimney professionally cleaned? Thoroughly cleaning your chimney can provide you with a few benefits, including the safety and health of your family.
A chimney's purpose is to provide ventilation from the gases or smoke that generate from a device used to heat materials such as a stove, boiler, or fireplace. And over time and with each use a substance called creosote can build up on the inside walls of a chimney. In addition to being flammable, creosote reduces the airflow of a chimney, and that can prevent toxins and smoke from properly clearing from your home. As I mentioned, creosote is flammable. And a flammable substance that can be that close to a source of heat could lead to disaster. A burning ember from the fireplace can float up to a deposit of creosote and cause it to ignite, and the fire can quickly spread through the chimney and affect your home. A regularly maintained chimney can help to limit your family’s exposure to harmful gasses and help to prevent fires.
The buildup of creosote is not the only reason to have your chimney cleaned. Animals such as birds and rodents can nest in chimneys and being with them other flammable materials or block the pathway of toxins and smoke. So if you are like me and rarely use your fireplace, you may still need to consider a professional cleaner inspect it just in case you decide, (or have to) use your fireplace.
Clean chimneys have other benefits such as more efficient heating and lower power bills during the colder months. But the increased safety is well worth the time and cost to find a professional chimney sweep and start a cleaning routine. Cleaning chimneys may not be one of the services that SERVPRO of East Greenville County provides, but if you are having trouble finding a service provider, we will be glad to help you out.
Don't Ignore Hanging Insulation
Hanging insulation can be both a symptom of one problem or the beginning of another. And it is best to act if you spot it quickly.
While at first glance you would think the big issue is the wet subfloor. (And you’d be right) But, it is the thing that may not stand out to you that can lead to the next giant issue. Although it is only in the top left corner of this photograph, the hanging insulation is the real star. Yes, the subfloor is soaking wet, and if you were to spot this underneath your home, you would be swift to take action. But if you see insulation hanging in some spots of the crawlspace, you may not give it a second glance. Hanging insulation could be a symptom of water damage, but it has the potential to cause microbial growth under your home without you ever having any water damage. If the hanging insulation reaches the ground, it can wick up natural groundwater from rain, and over time that can saturate that piece of insulation and possibly spread to other materials that it touches. Unconditioned crawlspaces can be ideal locations for mold to grow, they are dark, probably humid, and most people never go into the crawlspace unless they have to. The moral of this story is that if you or a service provider see hanging insulation, it may be best to contact a professional like SERVPRO of East Greenville County to inspect your property and prevent issues before they start.
Stuffed Sharks Do Not Flush
Water can cause more damage to the rooms below where a loss occurred. It is always a good idea to consider calling a professional mitigation company.
Mornings can be hectic. You have to make sure the kids are getting dressed for school, check out the traffic reports to make sure that you don’t have to change your commute, make breakfast, and all while making sure that you are ready for the day yourself. Sometimes the during the controlled chaos you may not notice that one of your younger children is performing their very first science experiment focusing on the “flushabilty” of their toys. This was recently the case for one Greenville, SC resident.
A busy working mom trying to get two of her children on their way to school plus a very curious, and quiet, toddler and his action figures and stuffed shark and a toilet. What could possibly go wrong? Turns out a lot.
A second-floor bathroom, packed to the brim with superheroes, building blocks, and one stuffed shark. Oh and gallons and gallons of water with nowhere to go but the living room below.
The homeowner had left to take her kids to school and daycare when she realized that she had forgotten something very important for work and needed to rush home. She opened her door to see that the ceiling fan in the living room had upgraded itself to now have a waterfall feature. The ceiling was saturated, the walls were soaked, and the furniture in the living room also drenched. The forgotten item turned out to be a blessing in disguise, but had she not come home the toilet would have run until the afternoon, but instead, she was able to turn the water off to the toilet. Imagine the damage that would have caused.
The homeowner made three calls: one to work, one to her adjuster, and one to SERVPRO of East Greenville County. Our team was able to be on site within 30 minutes of her call and started working immediately. The standing water was extracted, while air movers and dehumidifiers were placed to dry out the floor, wall, and ceiling. Unfortunately, the many of the materials were too saturated to reach a dry standard within a reasonable amount of time, and our production manager recommended that the flooring in the bathroom and ceiling in the living room below be replaced. SERVPRO of East Greenville County always places and focus on repair and restore versus remove and replace, but sometimes replacement is the more cost-effective action plan. This was one of those times, we may have had to run drying equipment for several more days, and it still may not have reached dry standard without risking further damage to the other materials. The decision to remove and replace the flooring in the bathroom and living room ceiling reduced not only the cost of mitigation but also the amount of time that the homeowner and her family were displaced from their home.
SERVPRO of East Greenville County does have access to advanced technology and techniques, but it is our experienced team that adds the most value for our customers when they need us.
Carpet Delamination: A Serious Secondary Issue
Carpet delamination can be caused by not correctly treating materials after a water damage event in your Greer, SC home or business.
Heavy rain, flooding, or malfunctioning appliances can cause a great deal of damage to your home and property. Ruining hardwood floors, paint, furniture, and carpet, especially carpet. We receive many calls asking what steps can be taken without having to use a professional restoration and mitigation service. The answer is “a lot.” But, the benefits of using a highly trained, experienced, and accredited service provider significantly outweigh the savings of a DIY effort. One of the most significant benefits is the proper treatment and drying of materials, including carpet. Quick and correct action can be the difference between spending a little now and paying a tremendous amount later because some of the effects of water damage are not instant, some take their time. And if not accurately handled they can accumulate a cost many times of the original incident. One such issue is Carpet Delamination.
What is it?
Carpet delamination is when the primary and secondary backings of a carpet separate.
How does it affect carpet?
After a carpet becomes delaminated, it is no longer securely attached to the floor. In fact, it is technically two sperate elements: the top layer, which is the visible portion of the carpet, and the bottom layer that contacts the pad or another flooring. Since the layers are no longer secured to each other, they can shift and move apart. This causes wrinkles or the carpet to pull away from the wall, or other non-aesthetic issues like safety hazards.
What causes it?
There are many causes of delamination including improper installation, heavy weighed traffic, and moisture. We are going to focus on the various moisture related instigators of damage to carpet.
Whether it comes from heavy rains, plumbing, or an appliance, over saturation of water on carpet can end up being devastating. And it is not just the immediate damage of the standing water that requires concern; pollutants in the water can negatively affect the adhesive that bonds the primary and secondary backing. Cleaning solutions such as dishwasher liquid, laundry detergent, and other cleaning products can dissolve adhesive, sometimes quickly based on concentration. Microbial growth from absorbed water can feed off the adhesive, breaking it down over time.
If any of your furry family members have an accident on the carpet it paramount to take action as fast as you can. Urine starts out acidic and eats away at the carpet fiber and latex. But over time it turns alkaline and causes even more damage to the threads and glue.
Cleaning Supplies and Treatments
Cleaning solutions that come from malfunction appliances are one thing, but what about the chemicals that you often use on your carpet? You know the ones that you use to clean up pet or wine accidents. It just as important to properly utilize those items and follow the directions and recommended treatment times. If you leave a spot remover on too long, it can begin to dissolve the adhesive, even if it is only that spot. Powdered odor remover can lead to issues as well, foot traffic can push the powder to the base of the carpet, making it harder to remove and that can potentially become food for microbial growth even in the smallest amounts of water. If you clean your carpet yourself, it is a must to make sure that it is dry, there isn’t a lot of light that gets between the layers of carpet making it ideal for microbial growth if there is moisture.
Knowing some of the causes of carpet delamination can make you feel like you have to be vigilant 24/7 and not allow anyone or pet on your carpet. But it does not have to be that way. Proper care for your carpet, including the occasional cleaning by a professional, can extend the life of your carpet and prevent it from being cut short. If you there is a water event in your home or office contact an experienced mitigation specialist to ensure that carpet and other materials reach the dry standard and focuses on restoring what can be saved. Now relax, take your shoes off, clench your toes and feel the carpet between them. After all, it isn’t there just for looks.
Winter Weather May Make Its Return to Greenville, SC
2019 is two weeks old, and it still feels like 2018 for some reason. I think because it has been wet. Well, brace yourself Greenville, because this weekend looks to be a re-run. Or is it?
Currently, meteorologists are saying that there may be a slight chance of snow. Not sleet, not freezing rain, not ice, but the fun stuff. The stuff that you can make forts, people, and projectiles out of. The stuff that is less likely to knock out your power so you can still binge watch that show about the dragons and drink hot chocolate. You know SNOW.
So, let’s all get prepared folks. Buy your milk, bread, and eggs. Order your sleds online with express shipping. The more we hope and prep the higher the chances are right, right? Slim chance or not, like Han Solo said: “Never tell me the odds.”
Just do not forget to make preparations in your vehicle and around your home or office. Check out some of our past blogs for vehicle essentials and tips on how to help keep your pipes from freezing. If it does snow, focus on enjoying it rather than worrying.
In the event that something goes wrong making the hot cocoa, your kids track so much snow onto your carpet, or if your pipes do freeze and burst, give us a call. We’ll be #ready no matter rain, sleet, and yes even in the snow.
Proper Post-Holiday Tree Care and Disposal
Christmas has come and gone, and it is almost the new year. Now it is nearly time for the big post-holiday cleanup. Which by the way, is my least favorite part of the whole thing and the reason that I use the “simple and tasteful” approach when decorating my home (even though I love it when others go all out). And if you use a real tree to bring the holiday joy, you may wonder what options you have when it comes to disposing of the ol’ Tannenbaum. The great news is that residents in our area have an eco-friendly solution at the ready.
Once again Greenville County is offering a Christmas Tree Recycling Program that includes curb pick-up (check for availability in your area) and drop-off locations across the county. Just make sure that all trees are free of tinsel, ornaments, and lights. There are several places to drop off your tree including Simpsonville City Park, Travelers Rest City Hall, and Greenville’s recycling centers. Making it easy and convenient to properly dispose of your tree.
Why is it important to properly dispose of your tree?
The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day can be a hectic time. You may have to go back to work on a short week and have a lot to do in a little time, or you may be off and spending time with family and enjoying your new “toys.” It can be easy to forget to water the tree, after all, Christmas has passed and it can seem less important to make sure the tree is vibrant and green. But it is imperative to make sure that your tree is still adequately cared for until it is removed from the house. A dry tree has a significantly higher risk of becoming a fire hazard.
So make sure to monitor the water levels daily. If you run your fingers through the needles if they feel brittle and fall off easily into your hand, the tree is too dry and should be removed from the house. Experts suggest that a properly cared for tree can stay fresh for three to four weeks, after that its chances of drying to an unacceptable and unsafe level. Keep that in mind if you like to buy your tree early in the holiday season.
Make your post-holiday a safe one and help start off 2019 incident free by properly caring for and disposing of your Christmas tree.
A Different Kind of Emergency
Standing water stood between an HVAC repair tech and repairing a Taylors, SC heater. We were able to extract the water the same day they called us.
Water does not have to rush in from a flood or run down the walls from a busted pipe to be a huge problem. Sometimes it can just sit there unnoticed and then bring your plans to a grinding halt.
A homeowner in Taylors, SC recently learned this lesson after their HVAC system began to have issues shortly after the recent snowstorm. The HVAC system slowly started to shut down, and while the weather in the upstate has been slightly above average for this time of year, the homeowner knew he needed to get this taken care of ASAP. They called a service specialist and made an appointment right before they were planning to go out of town for the holidays and assumed that everything would be ready and repaired soon. The next problem arose when the HVAC tech opened the crawlspace and saw inches of standing water between the entrance and the unit that needed service.
The service tech contacted the homeowner and told them that they could not perform the repairs until the water was removed. And understandably so, there is no way to know how long the water had been there and what type of pollutants had begun to grow, or where the water came from? Was it from the recent snow and rain or a leak from a pipe? The homeowner called SERVPRO of East Greenville County to extract the water from the crawlspace and needed it done quickly. We were able to perform the service the same day, which included laying down a temporary plastic liner, so the HVAC tech was not crawling and working in mud and allowed for the technician to complete the repairs to the HVAC unit that same day. And the homeowner was able to go on their trip without worrying about their family not having heat when they returned home.
The standing water in the crawlspace was a different kind of an emergency, the property was not necessarily in jeopardy, but there was a lot at stake. So be sure to check your crawlspace a few days after a major weather event or water incident inside your home.