The Importance of Moisture Meters
Why do we need moisture meters in water damage repair at every step of the job? The answer is quite simple. Moisture meters are used for moisture control to avoid mold build-up and to check moisture in floors, cabinets and other furnishings to avoid cracking, checking and warping. When disaster strikes, a pipe breaks, a roof leaks, or floods occur, we need to act swiftly and remove the excess water before mold builds up. Therefore, every responsible water damage repair company needs moisture meters and thermo-hygrometers to determine the extent of water damage,and later to check the drying progress, then last to confirm all excess water has been removed. Here, the challenge is to find the moisture from the surface to the depth of the absorption. Pin and pinless meters are helpful. Both meters have advantages and disadvantages, and it is not always an easy or clear choice. It is important to use a reliable meter because you do not want to replace materials unnecessarily, you want to replace only the damaged materials with a high moisture content.
The Science Behind Odors and Deodorization
Odors emanate from a variety of sources. There is the off-gassing of incomplete combustion, decomposing organic matter, building materials, water intrusion, etc. An individual must understand how to perceive odors to rectify them as well as become a private investigator/detective. Psychological odor is what people think they smell based on suggestions, past impressions, or experiences, but do not actually exist. However, while one person might not smell an odor, that doesn't mean it does not exist. Women have more keen sense of smell than men and as we age, we lose our sense of smell. Real and psychological odors are equally important and must be attacked in satisfying the deodorizing job. When deodorizing, a wise technician always considers the effect of both real and psychological odors and provides services to eliminate both. We have an assortment of chemicals and equipment that makes our task in resolving these odors much easier. However, not all odors can be terminated if their source is not found. A technician must ask the right questions, similar to a private investigator or detective, to identify the source of the odor. When doing so, the technician will need to clear their mind of any preconceived assumptions such as automatically assuming the source is urine if there are animals in the home.
The Hazards of Hoarding
According to the American Psychiatric Association, hoarding disorders occur in an estimated 2 to 6 percent of the population and often lead to substantial distress and problems functioning. While the emotional and physical impact of this growing disorder is significant, the potential health and safety concerns including fire hazards, biohazards and health code violations are paramount and a major focus for the restoration and remediation industry today. While well trained in restoring properties from fire, water or smoke damage, restoration professionals called upon to address a hoarding environment must consider a number of additional factors. In particular, the very real threat of biohazard dangers including bloodborne pathogens carrying potential diseases like Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C or HIV/AIDS. It is important to note that if a hoarding cleanup job does present biohazard concerns, the timeline of the service will increase given the additional number of precautions necessary. Hoarding presents a very real danger to all those involved.
Decontaminating a Former Meth House
We recommend testing every room in the property first. If they only cooked meth in the basement, and it didn't filter upstairs and the levels upstairs are low, then we can save them on the decontamination because we only have to take care of the basement and not the upstairs. Plus, once the decontamination process is complete, the team only has to retest the areas where levels were above the acceptable limit instead of testing the whole home. If a home needs decontamination, we first have to dispose of everything that cannot be properly decontaminated. We are talking about porous items like carpet, padding, window blinds that may be hard to clean, a range hood or exhaust vents in a bathroom. Sometimes, entire duct systems have to be thrown out too. Some of the flexible ducting gets meth residue trapped, and is difficult to clean. Then you must HEPA vac every square inch of the property. You have to start with a clean surface, then you use a chemical that is designed to breakdown and neutralize the meth chemical residue left behind.
Antimicrobials were traditionally always assumed to be toxic to humans as well as the organisms they were intended to kill. Botanicals revolutionized the antimicrobial world by producing the very first disinfectant approved by the EPA that did not require any human health warnings on the label. Unlike synthetic chemistries, botanicals use thyme oil as the active ingredient which doesn't affect humans. It's deadly to microorganisms, but it's part of the human diet and regularly found as a spice in food. Without the human health issues as a concern, the EPA didn't require the use of PPE when applying a botanical antimicrobials either. They also didn't require it to be rinsed off after a surface application. When botanical antimicrobials first hit the market they were lumped in with all the other "green" products and people easily dismissed them thinking they didn't work as well. When in fact, in order for a product to make a public health claim (like "kills germs"), the product must be registered with the EPA. Botanicals went through all the same standardized testing and passed with flying colors. That is the EPA's way of telling the public that the product did do what it says it's going to do.
The most important principle of drying is to understand the transfer of energy. No one can argue that drying at the correct temperature is the most effective way to restore a wet structure to it preloss condition. Dry too slowly, dry too fast, dry too little, or drying too long are all problematic. Humidity, airflow, temperature and time are four very important elements. Drying time is directly related to the temperature differential between water trapped in materials and the surrounding air, making heat, arguably, one of the most practical ways to dry. The exchange of heat and water vapor from a wet surface determines how quickly a surface will dry. This has been shown in numerous studies on various materials. When we are evaporating moisture we are changing water from a liquid to a gas and as our team of professionals understands, using a chart or calculator helps to make what is often invisible - visible.
The Behavior of Smoke
The damage to your property following a fire can often be complicated due to the unique behavior of smoke. There are two different types of smoke - wet and dry. As a result, there are different types of soot residue after a fire. Your SERVPRO of High Point professionals are thoroughly trained in fire cleanup and know the different types of smoke and their behavior patterns. Before work begins, SERVPRO of High Point will survey the loss to determine the extent of impact from fire, smoke, heat, and moisture on the building materials and its contents. The soot will then be tested to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. Pretesting determines the proper cleaning method and allows your SERVPRO professionals to focus on saving your precious items. Smoke can penetrate various cavities within the structure, causing hidden damage and odor. Our knowledge of building systems helps us investigate how far smoke damage may have spread.
Facts About Smoke
Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure. Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor. The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process. There are various types of smoke that may be in play in a fire. There is what is called Wet Smoke. This is made up of plastic and rubber. Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky and smeary. Smoke webs are more difficult to clean. Then there is Dry Smoke. This is made up of paper and wood. Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises, therefore smoke rises. Protein Fire Residue is the third type of smoke. This is produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire. It is virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, and has an extreme pungent odor. Fuel Oil Soot is our final type of smoke. This involves furnace puff backs. While "puff backs" can create havoc for homeowners, in most cases SERVPRO of High Point can restore the contents and structure quickly.
Cooking Over The Holidays
Did you know that cooking is the main cause of home fires and injuries? To steer clear of these types of tragedies, remember to never leave cooking food unattended. Stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling, or broiling food. You must check food regularly while cooking and remain in the home while kitchen equipment is in use. Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on. Remember to keep small children away from the cooking area. Enforce a " kid free zone" and make them stay at least three feet away from the stove and oven. Keep anything flammable like pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels away from the stove, oven or other appliances in the kitchen that generates heat.
As the holiday season is officially upon us, there are several safety tips that we must remember to ensure that all of our memories are fond ones. When cooking, do not wear loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking. Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease build-up. Purchase a fire extinguisher to keep in the kitchen year round. Contact the local fire department for training on the proper use of fire extinguishers if you are unsure. Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving home to make sure all kitchen appliances like stoves, ovens, and toasters are turned off. Install a smoke alarm near the kitchen,on each level of the home,near sleeping areas, and inside and outside of bedrooms. Use the test button to check it is working properly every month. Replace the batteries at least once a year.