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Belmont Water Damage Event

6/22/2017 (Permalink)

Water Damage Belmont Water Damage Event Water intrusion presents huge problem.

Property Damage from Rainwater

Severe thunderstorms and heavy rain can result in thousands of dollars of water damage to buildings and personal property quickly. Areas that are close to rivers, lakes, sewers or drain systems that are not equipped to handle large amounts of water can experience water damage to the structure of the businesses or personal property. Commercial water claims are the second most frequently filed losses for insurance in the United States.


Water Damage Caused by Gutters
Effective gutters should be cleaned and inspected several times a year. Since gutters are designed to collect the rain and runoff from a roof and carry it to the downspouts, if the gutter is clogged it cannot do its job. Overflowing gutters can cause damage to the roof or can spill over the edges causing commercial water damage to the structure of the building.


Maintaining Down Spouts
Along with the gutters, downspouts need to be properly maintained and cleaned. Since the downspouts are created to carry water away from the structure and foundation of the building, if they are not working properly will occur. The water needs to flow out into the yard or a drain field to keep it from seeping back into the home or building.


Using Sump Pumps
Basements that use sump pumps to remove excess water from around the building can help decrease the chances of rain water causing damage. Most sump pumps automatically begin pumping out water when it reaches a certain level. Making sure the sump pump is working correctly is essential. They should be inspected and routinely maintained so they can do the job when needed.


Rainwater problems can occur for a variety of reasons and can quickly cause damage to a building and contents. SERVPRO can come in and professionally clean up and dry out affected areas. Maintaining the roof, gutters, downspouts, and sump pumps can help ensure minimal water damage if there is a severe storm or drain systems overflow. If you ever need the skills of a water restoration company, SERVPRO can always help.

Locally Owned Company with National Resources

As a locally owned and operated business, SERVPRO of Belmont/San Carlos is strategically located to respond quickly to your water or flood damage event. When a major flooding event occurs, we can call upon our national network of 1,650 SERVPRO Franchises and special Disaster cleanup teams if we need additional resources or personnel.

We are proud to serve our local communities.

When your commercial property or home has water damage from leaks or flooding, we have the experience and expertise to help. Give us a call. (650) 591-4137

Five types of carpet cleaning

6/18/2017 (Permalink)

Cleaning Five types of carpet cleaning Steam cleaning at work.

Five Types of Carpet Cleaning…Which is Best? Ask SERVPRO of Belmont/San Carlos.

By Clayton A. Barry, Partner SERVPRO of Belmont / San Carlos

I’m a second-generation carpet cleaner. My father owned an area rug and wall-to-wall carpet cleaning company that was established in the early 1950’s. As a little boy I hung around my dad’s shop on Saturdays. When I got a bit older, I would go there after school to learn how to clean the fringes on Persian rugs.

My family moved to San Mateo in 1968 and two years later we moved to Foster City. Since then, during my working lifetime I have seen the evolution of on-location carpet cleaning (and location water damage mitigation).

I know there is confusion about which cleaning system is best, shampoo, steam or dry cleaning? I can help you understand the difference between the various carpet cleaning systems.

Today, there are actually five types of on-location carpet cleaning in use for wall-to-wall carpets. This article will not address area rug (Oriental rug) cleaning. Instead, I will discuss the different, “modern” cleaning methods for wall-to-wall carpet cleaning. This material will be presented in the chronological order in which the cleaning methods were introduced to the consumer: Shampoo, Hot Water Extraction, Dry Methods, Bonnet and Encapsulation.

Please understand that each of these methods of cleaning will do a reasonably good job as long as a trained professional properly performs the work. Where does this training come from?

In the United States, the carpet cleaning industry is primarily educated by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). This leading institute has a governing board that is comprised of members from the carpet manufacturing industry, installation industry, cleaning chemical and cleaning equipment manufacturers, scientists and health professionals. Even government agencies such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are represented. There are other trade associations such as the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) that also provide education for carpet cleaners. All of these associations have evolved along with the carpet industry. As the physical content of carpet fibers and carpet construction techniques have changed, the associated industries have modified their cleaning agents as well as equipment and products to stay current. Lets examine some of this history.

1930’s: In the very early days of wall-to-wall carpet installation, wool was the principle fiber used for the face yarn. Jute or hemp fibers were often used in the construction of carpet backings. In that era, carpet pads were usually made from horsehair (felt). Shampoo cleaning was the most appropriate method for cleaning those carpets. Shampoo cleaning did not have to use a lot of water. This was critical because a serious over wetting during cleaning often ruined those carpets by causing materials to shrink and dye colors to bleed.

1950’s / 1960’s: After the Second World War, our population exploded.  The resulting housing construction boom called for more wall-to-wall carpets than ever. This demand outstripped wool production. Kodak, DuPont and Allied Fibers introduced synthetic (plastic) fibers along with new carpet backings that were virtually waterproof. The backing materials and underlayment (pads) evolved. By the end of the 1960’s, during the transition from natural to synthetic fibers, steam cleaning (today called hot water damage) became the preferred method. Carpets were being manufactured to withstand more moisture. Cleaning equipment manufacturers developed synchronized high-pressure water sprayers and powerful extraction vacuums to clean these manmade materials.  Finally “steam” carpet cleaners could use pressurized water to flush and rinse the dirt and cleaning agents away.

It was during the transition era of wool carpets to synthetics that the first “dry” systems of carpet cleaning were developed. A highly successful franchise was built upon the ingenious use of corncobs being ground into a spongy powder that was saturated with dry-cleaning solvents to be spread across carpet surfaces to absorb soils. The spongy bits of corncob fiber were brushed into the fibers to adsorb soils.  When the little bits of spongy corn cob dried they could be vacuumed away.  However, these and other dry methods didn’t make much of an impact on carpet cleaning until the 1970’s as you will discover next.

1970’s: Unfortunately, when water extraction cleaning is not performed properly, carpets can become or remain over-wetted. Synthetic fibers won’t shrink, but the adhesives that hold the carpet layers together can delaminate. Wet carpets can also cause water damage to furniture. Molds may develop and sour smelling air often permeates the indoor environment. These kinds of negative experiences happened when low priced, portable cleaning equipment became readily available to the public.  Unfortunately, the do-it-your-self crowd wetted and damaged a lot of carpeting. There was also a wave of “part time and weekend cleaning companies” without advanced training who gave a bad reputation to steam cleaning in general. This opened the door for a new batch of “dry” carpet cleaning companies. In fact, aggressive franchises advertised the advantages of “space age chemical technology” that could solve or prevent the over-wetting problems caused by “steam” cleaning. Dry cleaning methods used minimal moisture and they did an excellent job of surface cleaning. Carpets were dry and ready for use in just a couple of hours.

Advertising savvy dry carpet cleaners made a strong argument. However, as time went by, the public became aware that dry cleaning systems left a great deal of chemical residue in the carpets. The public noticed that high levels of cleaning chemical residue caused fibers to rapidly re-soil. Concerns arose over indoor air quality. During the next three decades steam and dry cleaners battled each other for public acceptance.

1990’s: Bonnet cleaning became a meaningful “comprise” method of cleaning. Let me explain what I mean by “compromise”. Shampoo carpet cleaners always reasoned that their system gently scrubbed and agitated the fibers. Scrubbing action is a good cleaning feature. Steam (hot water extraction) advocates spoke about the benefits of heat and the rinsing action that their water based system provides. Heat has proven to activate cleaning agents. Rinsing removes residues. Dry cleaners promoted the benefits of advanced chemistry… low moisture and rapid drying. Each system of carpet cleaning offers distinct advantages. However, bonnet style carpet cleaners believe their system combines the best parts of the other cleaning systems. Let me explain.

Bonnet cleaning utilizes thick, cotton pads that are dampened with water combined with various cleaning agents. These pads are fitted onto shampoo cleaning machines. The prepared pad is methodically worked across the surface of the carpet to gently agitate the fibers and to loosen the soil. With skillful operation, bonnet cleaning will provide more than just surface action. It can provide a deep cleaning. As soon as an area of carpet has been treated, the cleaning pad is removed and replaced with a clean, dry cotton pad, which is spun over the surface of the damp carpet to adsorb the moisture (and soils) from the fibers. The carpet is left fairly dry and ready for use within thirty minutes to a couple of hours.

By the way, dry bonnet pads can be utilized in another way.  A dry bonnet pad can be spun over the surface of damp carpeting that has just been wet cleaned by, either, shampoo or hot-water extraction methods to provide an additional measure of extraction. Doing so will accelerate overall drying. While bonnet cleaning seems to be a versatile, effective, popular carpet cleaning system, cleaning technology is constantly evolving and changing.

2000’s: Recently, the IICRC has endorsed the encapsulation method. Today, many of the leading manufacturers are promoting “encapsulation” as the latest advancement. Some encapsulation systems use a new design of rotary brush to apply the cleaning agent and agitate the fibers. However, the more dramatic advancements are in the area of chemistry. Revolutionary polymer encapsulation cleaning agents blended together are able to target different soils in one application, capture these soils and, then, dry (cure) them into tiny crystals to be vacuumed away.

The science of encapsulation has become so popular among carpet cleaners that some of the chemical manufacturers are now making their liquid cleaners for use with bonnet machines and even for use with hot water extraction equipment. There are still old timers who are performing shampoo carpet cleaning… and some of the “encapsulation chemical companies” are making encapsulating shampoo just for them.

Let’s distill all this information down to practical application. What is the best carpet cleaning system for someone who owns or manages investment property? My best advice is to focus on finding the right company. My criteria for the right company would be:
1.    Choose someone who is certified with the IICRC,
2.    Someone who uses more than one cleaning technique, especially a combination of hot-water extraction and the latest bonnet-encapsulation.

There will be circumstances that demand both disciplines. For a greasy spill, hot-water combined with powerful vacuum extraction may be the most effective and inexpensive way to remove the majority of the source material. Then, if required, a bonnet method can also be used to provide further “extraction” drying. There will be other situations in which quick turnaround of rental property is required, a bonnet encapsulation method is a great answer.

When it comes to maintaining carpeting, it’s not just the overall cleaning method that has to be considered. Specialty spot cleaning and deodorization skills must be part of a professional carpet cleaner’s offering. When it comes to spots and spills, there is no one carpet cleaning method or “miracle cleaning agent” that does it all. Wine spills, candle wax drippings, blood, pet urine and chewing gum blobs happen, and their successful removal requires special treatments, advanced skills and experience.

Find a carpet cleaner you feel comfortable with, one who has experience, shows up on time, charges a reasonable price, and is able to enhance a carpet’s appearance. If he practices two systems of carpet cleaning, not just one system, that could be a real advantage.

SERVPRO of Belmont / San Carlos would be pleased to provide carpet cleaning for your residence or commercial facility.

Clayton Barry is a second-generation cleaning expert. He is a partner in one of the largest SERVPRO franchise operations in America, SERVPRO of Belmont/San Carlos and licensed territory also includes Foster City and Redwood Shores.

Need Water Damage Cleanup?

6/16/2017 (Permalink)

Water Damage Need Water Damage Cleanup? Any amount of unwanted water in a home is a disaster!

How Water Damage Restoration Companies Can Help You

Once water damage is in your home, it's important for you to obtain SERVPRO services. Restoration services are multi-faceted, they involve both cleaning excess water from your home and repairing regions of the house that have been subjected to substantive water damage. As water damage specialists know, it is important to start the cleanup and repair process right after the flood or fire to ensure that mold and mildew do not begin to accumulate on the property. Learn more about the helpful services that water damage restoration companies can offer by reading the following short reference guide:

Water Damage Restoration Companies Remediate Your Property Quickly
One of the benefits that result from employing SERVPRO is that they complete the cleanup and repair processes quickly. Additionally, water damage restoration companies employ several staff members who can work with expedience and excellence. This group effort ensures that they can tackle a plethora of problems that have resulted from the accumulation of water damage in your home. The result is the rapid restoration of your home, a reality that can significantly reduce the onset of secondary water damage.


Water Damage Restoration Companies Limit Mold and Mildew Proliferation
Another great service provided by  restoration companies is the prevention of mold and mildew growth in your private living space. SERVPRO specialists accomplish this objective by removing excess water quickly so that the fungi do not have an opportunity to form and proliferate. If mold has already started to grow in your home, the restoration specialists can eliminate it through the use of cleaners and industrial-grade disinfectants. These cleaners will not put you and your family at risk. However, it is necessary to note that the presence of mold in your home can engender a plethora of health risks. For this reason, it's important to let a team of trained professionals handle your water damage issues rather than attempting to solve the problem on your own. In recognizing that water damage restoration companies can restore your home to its original condition, it's important to know that you can ask your insurance agent to give you a referral to the right company.


Let's Get Started Now
Homes that have been subjected to water damage are in need of high quality remediation services. Once you start looking for a professional water damage company to assist you in restoring your home, you should look no further than SERVPRO. Our company is committed to consistently offering cutting edge, expedient remediation services that get your home back in great condition with lightning speed. For water damage restoration services that work, contact us today and let's get started.

Locally Owned Company with National Resources

As a locally owned and operated business, SERVPRO of Belmont/San Carlos is strategically located to respond quickly to your water or flood damage event. When a major flooding event occurs, we can call upon our national network of 1,650 SERVPRO Franchises and special diaster recovery teams if we need additional resources or personnel.

We are proud to serve our local communities:

  • Our expertise in water restoration is extensive. We utilize IICRC training as part of our on-going education to stay ahead of the curve. Call us for help. (650) 591-4137

Commercial Building Air Quality

6/13/2017 (Permalink)

The EPA provides helpful information and informative material on a variety of indoor air quality topics for office and homes. A helpful booklet is: "An Office Building Occupant's Guide to Indoor Air Quality."

The booklet provides valuable tips to protect health of office workers. Here is a list of helpful tips (and topics) contained in the publication. 

  • Comply with the office and building smoking policy
  • Do not block air vents or grilles.
  • Water and maintain office plants properly.
  • Dispose of garbage promptly and properly.
  • Store food properly.
  • Avoid bringing products into the building that could release harmful or bothersome odors or contaminants.
  • Notify your building or facility manager immediately if you suspect an indoor air quality problem.

If You Manage an Office:

  • Maintain a good working relationship with building management on indoor environmental issues.
  • Place office furniture and equipment with air circulation, temperature control, and pollutant removal functions of the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system in mind.
  • Coordinate with building management in instances when responsibility for design, operation and maintenance of the ventilation system is shared.
  • Establish an effective smoking policy that protects nonsmokers from involuntary exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Avoid procedures and products that can cause indoor air quality problems.
  • Integrate indoor air quality concerns into your purchasing decisions.
  • Work with the building manager to ensure use of only necessary and appropriate pest control practices, and nonchemical methods where possible.
  • Work with building management and the contractor before you remodel or renovate to identify ways of keeping building occupant exposure to pollutants to a minimum and to ensure that the air distribution system is not disrupted.
  • Encourage building management to develop a preventive indoor air quality management program following guidance issued by EPA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

The booklet it available free from the EPA website. SERVPRO is pleased to have shared this information with you. We can also help you keep commercial spaces clean and healthy with HVAC cleaning and other specialty services.

Paper... baby food for mold

6/12/2017 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation Paper... baby food for mold The paper liner on gypsum wallboard is like baby food for mold.

Mold problems in modern buildings are often the result of tighter construction that doesn't let a building breathe. Tight buildings can keep moisture trapped inside. When indoor relative humidity reaches 60% RH or higher, mold can begin to grow. But mold requires food. In nature, in the outdoors, wood and leaf matter is the main source of food for mold.  In modern buildings that use gypsum plaster wallboards (Sheet Rock) the paper liner on each side of the wallboard provides the perfect food. Damp paper has been called "baby food for mold" for good reason. Paper is processed wood.  In some situations when small amounts of mold is on small portions of wallboard, cleaning (removing) the mold from the paper may work. However, in most situations portions of the wallboard will need to be removed and replaced. SERVPRO of Belmont/ San Carlos will do it right.

Professional Flood Damage Services

6/12/2017 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Professional Flood Damage Services Flooding doesn't have to be several feet deep to cause a lot of damage.

Contact Us When You Need Flood Damage Restoration

The aftereffects of flood damage in Foster City or other cities within our service area can be as costly and potentially deadly as the flood itself. If your home or business has been hit by local flash flooding following heavy rain  or has experienced burst water pipes or a sewage system backup, you know what an ugly, inconvenient mess it can be. If it's not addressed correctly and promptly, it can lead to your building being judged unsafe, and it could be condemned. To avoid the loss of property and the inconvenience this will cause, it's an excellent idea to contact a local cleanup and restoration service who can help you fix the situation.

We Can Address All Types of Flooding Damage
No matter what caused the flooding to your home or business, we are equipped to fix it. Our team of friendly, knowledgeable service technicians has been fully trained to identify and correct all known types of flooding damage. Our service team members have all of the necessary training and certifications to qualify them for the task of flood damage cleanup and restoration. Let us know the nature of the problem, and we will respond to your call immediately. We are available to help at anytime of the day or night.

If the flood damage occurred to your home, you and your family are likewise experiencing the discomfort and expense of having to stay elsewhere. For these reasons, it's best to immediately call a local cleanup service that can restore your property back to its original condition.

What to Expect from an Initial Analysis of Flooding Damage
When you contact us regarding your flood damage emergency, we will respond to your call by performing a complete analysis of your property. We will go over every corner of the building to make sure that water is not pooling in nooks and crannies, leading to structural instability and mold growth. The most important part of any major cleanup and restoration project is to ensure that the potential for further damage down the line is completely avoided. To do this, we will give you a complete diagnosis of the damage, followed by an estimate of the cost involved to address it.

Restoring the Effects of Flood Damage in Foster City
When it comes to addressing the harmful effects of flood damage in Foster City, it will require the urgent attention of a properly qualified and experienced cleanup and restoration team. SERVPRO of Belmont / San Carlos is a locally owned and operated service that can do the job for you promptly. We can also serve citizens in nearby areas including Redwood Shores, Half Moon Bay, Pacifica, and Burlingame. Call us at (650) 591-4137.

A Strange Fire in Atherton

6/12/2017 (Permalink)

Fire Damage A Strange Fire in Atherton A crystal ball starts a fire?

How many of us would like to have a crystal ball? Well, one homeowner in Atherton had a crystal ball, and it turned out to be not so lucky, nor an accurate predictor of the future.  Their small crystal ball was an attractive decoration and an interesting conversation piece. It was placed on the wide windowsill of a gorgeous bay window in the formal living room of an Atherton mansion. At a certain time, each day the crystal ball caught sunbeams reflecting the dramatic prismatic colors into the room. As the seasons changed so did the angle and intensity of the sunlight until one day the reflected sunbeams from the crystal ball focused on the nearby crushed velvet draperies.  Yes... the draperies caught fire. The fabric, wall and ceiling were badly scorched causing smoke to contaminate a stairwell and the upper hallway with soot. Luckily, a maid service was working in the house. One maid called the fire department as the other maid used a garden hose to extinguish the flames. Our SERVPRO of Belmont/San Carlos franchise was hired to clean up the damage. This was one of the most unusual origins of a fire we have experienced. The crystal ball was not damaged, but it was never placed in the direct path of sunlight again. However, it does remain a conversation piece with a notorious past.   

What Are Soot Tags?

6/12/2017 (Permalink)

Fire Damage What Are Soot Tags? Spider Webs or Soot Tags?

We recently responded to a house fire in Woodside, California.

The fire department had to cut electrical service to the home. Without a light source the homeowner was unable to survey the damage. After we arrived to do an initial walk through, equipped with our flashlights, the homeowner began to notice very dark "spider webs" on the walls.  She said that she was disappointed with the quality of her house keeper's work. We smiled and explained that the "spider webs" are actual known as "soot tags".

As smoke/soot circulates through a home during a fire, the heat will move towards cold areas as the air seeks equilibrium within its environment. In areas of lower circulation the soot will form what is known as "soot tags". Soot tags form when synthetic/petroleum based sources burn. It also has a lot to do with the Ion charge (static electricity) in the air.

Customers frequently mistake the soot tags as smoke that has attached itself to spider webs that were present during the fire. In fact, they are new unique chains of soot that look a lot like smoke covered spider webs.

Hail Storms

6/9/2017 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Hail Storms Heavy hail in California?

As climate continues to change, hail storms could happen in California. After all, there have been water spouts and tornadoes in recent years. Perhaps we will never see hail storms of the magnitude that are experienced in Oklahoma or Texas. When regions of the country experience weather anomalies, the storms can cause significant damage, even if they are less intense by scale. The reason for this is that the plants and trees and the geography have not adapted for unusual weather. A simple freeze in Wisconsin does little damage. The same freeze in Florida would ruin millions of dollars in crops.

A significant hail storm in California would damage delicate plants and trees not to mention roofs that are not designed with hail storms in mind.  As climate continues to change the chances of being impacted by unusual weather also increase. SERVPRO is ready to mitigate property damage no matter the source.

Extraction...first step to flood recovery

6/9/2017 (Permalink)

Water Damage Extraction...first step to flood recovery Water extraction is the first step to recovery.

When SERVPRO technicians arrive on site at a water flooded office or home the first task is to identify all of the effected areas. Then the crew begins to extract the standing water.

If the water is badly contaminated the carpets and flooring may need to be removed. Our team still has to extract the excess water to make the material removal easier.

When the water is classified as "clean" we are able to extract and then install drying equipment to save the flooring material.

There are several extraction methods available. The photo shows a carpet cleaning wand being used to vacuum water from a glue down carpet. (There is no carpet cushion under the carpet). 

In other situations, especially when there is a carpet cushion our technicians would use a weighted extractor. This is a heavy extraction tool that the operator stands on to apply more pressure to squeeze as much water from the carpet and pad as possible.

We have learned that the more water that is removed from the material, the faster the carpet will dry after the fans and dehumidifiers are installed. Our goal is to have the area dry in three days.