Recent Posts

Fast response to water emegencies

10/25/2017 (Permalink)

Commercial Fast response to water emegencies Property disaster recovery at multi-unit buildings is our specialty.

One of our specialties in the property damage restoration business is to serve multi-unit housing structures such as apartment buildings and condominium complexes.

The owners of our company began their restoration work back in the 1990's by specializing in work at apartment and condo buildings in Foster City, Redwood City and San Mateo.

Today, these types of jobs are among the largest that we do. There can be challenging too. It's important that response to a property damage emergency be prompt because delay will allow the water or smoke contamination to spread from resident unit to unit. This is especially important with multi-unit and multi-floor buildings. 

Working in multi-unit buildings can be a challenge because more than one insurance policy may be impacted. 

At SERVPRO of Belmont/San Carlos we will be there for our apartment and condominium clients.

Five Types of carpet Cleaning

10/24/2017 (Permalink)

Cleaning Five Types of carpet Cleaning Basic hot water extraction also called steam carpet cleaning.

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.

Many Ways to Get Wet

10/16/2017 (Permalink)

There are many ways that a building can become damaged by water: Ground water flooding, rain storms, burst water delivery pipes, plumbing backups, failed/leaking water heaters, etc.

Over the years SERVPRO of Belmont/ San Carlos has responded to many unusual sources of water damage including: Punctured water beds; children watering indoor plants with a garden house; aquariums falling over during an earthquake; carpenters driving nails through hidden pipes, and the list goes on.

Perhaps the strangest water damage events that we responded to was one that happened at a three-story condominium in San Mateo. Children were riding bicycles in a parking lot next to their swimming pool and one cyclist rode into a strip of landscaping. The front tire of the bike knocked the head off of an irrigation sprinkler. A jet of water shot into the sky, higher than the building rooftop, and then arched and descended into an open condo window on the third floor.

Residents and guests at the pool gathered around the sprinkler head in awe. Who knew there was that much water pressure in an irrigation system? In short order, a resident made an emergency phone call to the property management company and in turn our emergency response water mitigation company was summoned to the location.

When our crew arrived, we were amazed to see a stream of water in the air shooting into an open window…. the one and only open window on that side of the building. Someone asked if we were from the landscaping company who could turn off the irrigation system? “No, but we can certainly stop this problem,” said I as my partner found a steppingstone in the garden and placed it atop of the broken sprinkler pipe. Sure the water was splashing around the garden, but it was no longer shooting into the condo unit on the third floor. The spectators felt rather stupid. The water had been running for 45 minutes causing about 900 gallons of water to enter the building. Later, I learned that someone wanted to call the fire department so they could bring a ladder to close the window. Other residents had said no, the fire department would charge for the service call. People can make you scratch your head in disbelief.

A few minutes later, the landscaper arrived to turn off the water and replace the sprinkler head. A locksmith arrived too, so we could be let into the affected condo units. The water had also wetted a unit on the second and first floor directly below the third floor “source” unit. Much less damage would have occurred if the spectators had been more resourceful. Sometimes people become shocked or overwhelmed by the circumstances. That’s one reason we’re here when you need us. We’re SERVPRO of Belmont/San Carlos.

Contents, out of sight out of mind.

10/10/2017 (Permalink)

Cleaning Contents, out of sight out of mind. Safe and secure storage vaults.

What happens if you experience a property disaster and your personal contents (dishes, furniture, toys, electronics, etc.) have to be removed from the damaged dwelling to clean the items, or to expedite the property repair? Where do they go? What happens to them? Your contents may be out of sight, but they are definitely not out of your mind.

At SERVPRO of Belmont/San Carlos, we provide a written contract about our pack-out services. It includes a content pack-out inventory list with photos of each of the contents. During the pack-out process, contents will be sorted for storage, for cleaning or perhaps disposal.

Once they arrive at our secure and climate controlled cleaning and storage facility located in Hayward, California (near the San Mateo Bridge), the appropriate work will be performed, which may include: drying and a variety of advanced treatments to remove soot, bacteria and odor. Items that were ruined by the property disaster event will be cataloged, photographed (again) to assemble a “non-salvage report.” Then the damaged items are set aside in a holding area for disposal, which will only happen after an authorization to dispose order has been received from an insurance adjuster, the content owner, or another agent. I each case the owner will be in final control of the disposal process.

Salvageable contents will be cleaned and properly packed into boxes to be placed secure into wooden vaults. Large items such as mattresses and sofas will be wrapped in packing blankets (and plastic sheeting) to be stored flat on a shelving system. This prevents warping.

A content inventory list is available in electronic format to keep track of the contents. In the end, the contents will be safely waiting in our facility for return to your restored property.

At SERVPRO of Belmont / San Carlos we have also provide these services for commercial clients such as: medical clinics, restaurants, offices and government facilities. We are prepared to help when and where you may need us.

SERVPRO Training House

10/4/2017 (Permalink)

Fire Damage SERVPRO Training House SERVPRO Headquarters has a fire cleanup training building.

SERVPRO Industries, Inc., one of America's largest franchise systems provides training for 1,700 independently owned and operated franchise locations.

SERVPRO of Belmont/San Carlos owners learned how to perform fire cleanup at the SERVPRO training house at corporate headquarters.

The two story home is "smoked up" with a variety of different types of smoke. (There are at least four basic types of smoke and each is cleaned with slightly different cleaning agents.) Certain materials when ignited produced different gases and soot. Each major type of soot presents cleaning challenges.

Participants in the training classes perform hands on cleaning. They use the techniques and cleaning agents innovated by SERVPRO. This assures better results when a SERVPRO franchises and their technicians respond to a local and "real" fire.

Bed Bugs are Horrible Critters

10/4/2017 (Permalink)

Commercial Bed Bugs are Horrible Critters Vampires aren't the only blood suckers.

Bed bugs are a big problem for anyone who is infested by these tiny blood sucking creatures. They are also a huge problem for commercial and income property owners who discover they are in their property units.

In some cities such as Oakland and San Francisco, the burden of the cleanup cost may fall upon the landlord. Fair or unfair this risk exists for many income property owners.

While SERVPRO of Belmont  / San Carlos is not licensed to cleanup kill bedbugs or any other pest we can certainly perform post bedbug cleanup. We know how to cleanup the mess and remove the chemical residues following the treatment process. We also know how to see if the treatment was performed properly. 

Our cleaning technicians are trained and skilled in looking for any signs that some of these little critters may have survived the pest control company's processes.

SERVPRO of Belmont / San Carlos has cleaned up the aftermath of bedbug infestations for several years. We have worked on the Peninsula, East Bay and the Central Valley performing this service. We have worked with several property management and senior care providers who have had their lovely properties invaded by bed bugs. (This is not a social class issue... any property from shack to mansion to high-rise can be affected)

We know good pest management companies who can help kill these rascals.  We can be reached at 650-591-4137.


10/2/2017 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation MOLD Mold caused by moist air from HVAC system vent.

Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems are designed to control temperature and some are capable of reducing indoor humidity (condition the air).

HVAC systems can malfunction causing them to become breeding grounds for mold. HVAC systems can also be damaged by fire or water problems. Water can get into HVAC ducting, especially air delivering ducts that are installed under floors and in ceilings. 

This photograph shows how a flooded air duct spread moisture and moldy air onto the baseboards, wall and into the room.

A scope (plan) to cleanup the mold included removing contaminated ducting and replacing it with new ducting. SERVPRO knows how to remediate even the most complicated mold infested environments. When HVAC systems are part of the problem, we have expert cleaning methods to provide the solution to correct the indoor air quality.

Hail Storms

10/2/2017 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Hail Storms Hail damage can be intense.

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.

Commercial Fire

9/20/2017 (Permalink)

Commercial Commercial Fire A fire at a commercial establishment can be costly.

Commercial Fire Damage in Belmont is Restored By SERVPRO of Belmont/San Carlos.

One of a business owner's worst horrors is a fire event to at their commercial property. However, this nightmare becomes an ugly reality all too often! While dealing with a commercial fire can be challenging and stressful, knowing how to expedite and optimize each component of the restoration process can save you money and a headache. Learn more about the steps you should take to restore your business by reviewing this short outline provided by SERVPRO:

Call Your Insurer
Once your commercial property is subjected to fire, call your insurer. In some cases, your insurance agent can help you locate temporary accommodations where you can continue conducting business transactions while fire damage restoration is on-going at your commercial property. The insurer will send out an adjuster to document the fire damage and to monetize fire damage restoration. Ask for a highly recommended company to promptly restore your property. 

In addition to calling your insurance provider, you'll need to get in contact with a fire damage restoration company like SERVPRO. An inspector will be dispatched to survey the fire damaged property, develop a restoration plan, and provide you with a CCIS report. This Contents Claim Inventory Service will specifically document damages to the structure and the contents--including all business-related items. SERVPRO is an approved vendor for over 300 insurance companies, property management firms, and government agencies. We can work in cooperation with your insurance company to expedite the fire damage restoration services. We can help you with the claims process, and the paperwork while minimizing your expenses.  

The fire damage restoration process is contingent upon the extent of damage to the building and the business assets.
• property assessment
• cleaning
• drying, water removal
• sanitation
• deodorization
• content restoration, document drying
• odor removal
• smoke removal 
• vent cleaning
• air duct cleaning

Getting The Best Restoration Services Available
We can offer the following attributes to ensure a rapid return to preloss conditions for your commercial enterprise.
• IICRC-certified professionals, with corporate and franchise training
• excellent customer service, communication from start to finish with guaranteed results
• fair pricing
• a good reputation
• cutting edge equipment
• advanced methodologies

Call SERVPRO For Expedient fire damage restoration in Belmont and the surrounding area.
We respond immediately to assist you in restoring your commercial property to working order. We are faster to any size disaster. Our goal is to compete swiftly the fire damage restoration, with minimal expense to you and reopen your doors for business. "Like it never even happened."

24-Hour Emergency Fire Restoration Service

SERVPRO of Belmont/San Carlos knows that fire damage can happen any time, so we’re ready to respond 24/7 —including holidays. Belmont, San Carlos, and Foster City are communities we proudly serve. Call us for help. (650) 591-4137

Prompt Restoration for Water Damage Saves Money

9/18/2017 (Permalink)

Water Damage Prompt Restoration for Water Damage Saves Money Don't wait too long to respond to water damage. Time allows the problem to spread.

Foster City Water Damage Cleanup Is Urgent

Water damage can leave lasting results if not dealt with quickly. Water can be peaceful and pure. It is soothing and relaxing. Water is necessary for life. It gives life to plants and humans. However, water in the wrong places can be devastating, and if left untreated, becomes a significant problem. 

Howerer, Water Damage Lowers Home Value.The resulting damage from water intrusion is unsightly and impossible to hide without professional restoration. This may mean drying and repainting surfaces or demolishing and replacing building materials such as drywall. A home inspector will see the damage that stems from your unrestored water damage issues. This can lower your property value. 

Water Affects the Structure of Your Home because Wood is a sponge for water. Standing water on the floors in your home can wick into walls. The longer that water sits the more damage it will cause. It will warp and cup hardwood floors and lift the laminate from manufactured wood flooring. It doesn’t take long for wood to become vulnerable to mold. Mold can cover wooden or plasterboard walls and floors. A small amount of standing water, or hidden moisture, and warmer temperatures make the perfect recipe for mold to grow. Mold can cause health effects. 

Water Damage Can Destroy Electrical and Plumbing Systems, Walls, and Ceilings
Water can damage electrical circuits and cause shorts, requiring an electrician to address these problems. A professional must inspect all of your wiring and your electrical panel. Water can cause drywall to swell or become brittle forcing discarding while also helping to prevent mold growth. It can corrode or rust pipes which lead to more leaks. Undiscovered or un-repaired water leaks can escalate into larger issues involving unnecessary water damage and expenses. That small drip that you are not dealing with right now could be a costly leak in 6 months. Undetected dripping water can lead to degradation of your concrete foundation. This could leave your home structurally unsafe. It can destroy metal structures, trusses, and even home insulation. Damage to insulation can lead to mold and cause energy bills to increase because the outside elements can more readily enter the structure. 

Water Contaminates Your Home
Flood water is contaminated. It can be dangerous to your health. The EPA categorizes this type of water as "Black water ." Chemicals, fertilizers, organics, and fecal matter residuals can remain long after you have cleaned up the water; too hazardous for a Foster City homeowner to attempt this cleanup. SERVPRO of Belmont San Carlos experts can sanitize and deodorize the house. The best way to eliminate the danger is with professional help. Call us for your water damage restoration and we will return your property to its preloss condition "Like it never even happened."

We’re Faster to Any Size Disaster

Immediate action is crucial when dealing with water damage. SERVPRO of Belmont / San Carlos is strategically positioned to be faster to any size water emergency in Foster City, San Carlos, and Redwood City. Call us for immediate 24/7 response. (650) 591-4137