Free and Lunch and Learn Programs
Owner Clayton Barry performing a training program.
We offer eductional programs to the community. For example, Lunch and Learn programs on a variety of topics are part of SERVPRO of Belmont / San Carlos’s commitment to consumer education. Classes are scheduled to include a breakfast or tasty lunch. Topics are always designed specifically for insurance agents, realtors and building engineers. We have programs that are fifteen minutes in length and expanded versions that are thirty minutes long. Programs can be customized for your organization to address information that is of special interest to you. These lively programs stimulate questions. You can expect to spend another ten to fifteen minutes providing answers. (These programs do not provide State approved educational credits. But, in some cases the presentations qualify as “safety training” meetings.)
SERVPRO of Belmont / San Carlos also provides Continuing Education (CE) classes about: water damage mitigation, Fire cleanup, Odor Control, Mold Education and even Ethics. These programs are approved by the California Department of Insurance and the Department of Real Estate. You can earn approved credits by attending these classes. There is no test, just a commitment on your part to attend the entire class. Most classes are two hours in duration. One class for realtors is three hours, as mandated by the State of California. Every class includes a complimentary lunch. We also perform live demonstrations of equipment and cleaning techniques whenever possible. Attendees love these demonstrations!
At SERVPRO of Belmont / San Carlos it our pleasures to provide your organization with information about the disasters and problems that can affect your properties and clients, and the remedies to make it "Like it never even happened." We have provided customized presentation for the San Mateo County Association of Realtors, among others. If you have interest in educational programs please call us at 650-591-4137.
Facility Engineers... conside using an emergency pre-work authization agreement.
We offer a special emergency ready plan that includes a pre-work agreement.
SERVPRO of Belmont / San Carlos has developed a simple pre-work auhorization agreement we call, Green Response for our commercial clients. It is a proactive disaster recovery plan provided by SERVPRO of Belmont / San Carlos. It allows us to work with you in pre-planning for the complex challenges that often arise during a major catastrophe such as fire, extreme flooding, earthquake, etc. Your participation in this plan will empower us to mobilize and direct a coordinated team of restoration specialists who will work on your behalf to make it… better than before.
Green Response clients sign an agreement that pre-authorizes our company to provide prompt emergency services. In this agreement the labor and materials pricing schedule and payment terms are determined in advance to prevent misunderstandings, and to expedite services.
Our Emergency Response Manager will tour your facility to work with you in developing a specific and comprehensive restoration/mitigation plan for your location.
Once a preparedness plan has been determined, our team will conduct a meeting at your facility to establish a working relationship, to address your concerns and demonstrate how we may best satisfy your needs. There is no charge for this service. Your investment will be a few hours… time well spent for peace of mind to protect your facility.
Call SERVPRO of Belmont / San Carlos at 650-591-4137 for additional details.
What happens when fire damages contents?
Contents, even important documents are often damaged during a property disaster.
Fires in homes and offices may completely destroy some structural materials and personal items (contents) too. Depending upon the insurance coverage purchased, policies will customarily pay to rebuild or replace structural materials, including personal contents that are destroyed. Insurance jargon refers to these as: total loss, or non-salvageable items. Adjusters request that restoration companies make an honest evaluation of what can be cleaned or repaired and what cannot be salvaged. If there is uncertainty, they direct the restoration provider to make a test by attempting to salvage. If the results are not satisfactory we are to stop cleaning. SERVPRO will provide an inventory of items that are deemed to be total loss/non-salvageable. The “total loss” inventory is usually supported by photographic evidence and job notes/reports. Sometimes, the adjuster or property manager/agent may want to personally inspect damaged items. It is the adjuster who makes the final determination concerning the total loss items based upon the terms of the insurance policy. Final cost settlement (reimbursement) is between the policyholder and the insurance company (not us).
Please Note: the term is “total loss” is not total lost. At all times, non-salvageable items are in a chain of custody. They are not lost. In fact items are disposed of only after we receive an “Authorization to Dispose” form from you (the policyholder) or at times your adjuster who has gained your approval.
If your property suffers a damage, we are here to help. If you need content cleaning or advice, please call us at: SERVPRO of Belmont/San Carlos 650-591-4137.
Mold cleanup for 1870 !
Renovation of a landmark building in old downtown Stockton revealed a brick wall that had experienced years of rainwater intrusion. SERVPRO of Belmont / San Carlos worked with our fellow franchise in the valley to perform non-abrasive mold cleanup using a baking soda medium. Following remediation, the bricks looked as good as the day they were laid back in 1870. Our mold experts stand ready to help with mold issues regardless of the age or type of property affected… simply give us a call.
Mold is a difficult issue for consumers because there is "urban myths" about the topic. Mold is a seroius problem and it needs to be remediated quickly, but seldom is it going to kill you. People are afraid of black toxic mold, but the truth is, most mold is black. (Pink, white and green are other mold colors, but black remaind most common.) Don't assume that because you see black mold it is deadly. At the same time, have it checked out to be sure. Our SERVPRO of Belmont / San Carlos certified mold technicians are skilled at observing molds and presenting a reasonable plan to mitigate the problem. We will never use fear tactics, or "urban myths about mold" as we explain your options and solutions. We don't do business like that.
The mold in the 1870 landmark building was a big job, yet we didn't take advatange. The cost of of seervice were fair... if you have questions about mold give us a call, we are here to help. 650-5914137
Winter Weather Tips
Keeping you home safe and warm from winter weather is important.
Wintry weather is great at turning up problems you didn’t even know you had. Like that first really cold night in front of your fireplace that you thought was pure bliss — until you noticed a leak in the ceiling corner, which apparently was caused by a lack of insulation. How were you supposed to know that?
Many homeowners don’t realize they’re making critical missteps that can cost a ton when winter sets in. Here are seven wintertime mistakes homeowners often make (and what they could cost you!):
- Not Buying a $2 Protector for Your Outdoor Faucet
What It’ll Cost You: Up to $15,000 and a whole lot of grief
It’s amazing what a little frozen water can do damage-wise. An inch of water in your basement can cost up to $15,000 to pump out and dry out. And, yet, it’s so easy to prevent, especially with outdoor faucets, which are the most susceptible to freezing temps.
The simplest thing to do is to remove your garden hose from your outdoor faucet and drain it. Then add a faucet protector to keep cold air from getting into your pipes. They’re really cheap (some are under $2; the more expensive ones are still less than $10). “Get these now! “When the weatherman says we’ve got cold coming, they’ll sell out in minutes.”
While you’re at it, make sure any exposed pipes in an unheated basement or garage are insulated, too, or you’ll face the same pricey problem.
Wrap pipes with foam plumbing insulation — before the weather drops. It’s cheap, too, just like the faucet cover (only $1 for six feet of polyethylene insulation). And it’s an easy DIY project, as long as you can reach the pipes.
- Instagramming Your Icicles Instead of Preventing Them
What It’ll Cost You: $500 — if you’re lucky; a lot more if you’re not
Those icicles make your mountain homes look so picturesque, you just gotta take a few pics. But you better make them quick. Those icicles can literally be a dam problem. (Yes, dam — not the curse word that sounds the same. )
Icicles are a clear sign that you’ve got an ice dam, which is exactly what it sounds like: a buildup of ice on your gutter or roof that prevents melting snow and ice from flowing through your gutters. That’s really bad news because these icy blocks can lead to expensive roofing repairs.
Depending on where you live, expect to pay at least $500 for each ice dam to be steamed off. Leave the ice and you risk long-term damage, which could ultimately cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to your roof, depending on what type of shingles you have and the size of the damaged area.
How to prevent them? Insulation. “Ice dams, icicles, and ice buildup on the gutters is a symptom of not enough insulation in the attic.
And “you need to have at least 14 inches of insulation in your attic, no matter where you live. If you live in a colder climate, you’ll need more.
If you don’t have the cash to insulate, heated gutter cables, which run between $50 and $150 each, can be a less expensive alternative when temporarily affixed to areas prone to ice damming.
- Going Lazy on Your Gutters
What It’ll Cost You: You really don’t want to be in a position to find out
It can be so tempting to skip gutter cleanups as winter nears. It seems like as soon as you clear your gutters, they clog right back up again. So what’s the point?
Well, if it looks like you’re living inside a waterfall when it rains, water is missing your gutter system completely. It’s being directed to your foundation instead. And a water-damaged foundation is never, ever cheap to fix.
A contractor can plug foundation cracks for $1,500 to $3,000, says David Verbofsky, director of training for exterior home products manufacturer Ply Gem. But a worse problem, one that requires a foundation excavation or rebuild, can set you back (gulp) $30,000 or more.
Suddenly, cleaning your gutters a few times each fall doesn’t seem so bad. A pro can do the work for anywhere between $70 and $250, depending on the size of your gutter system.
- Giving Cold Air a Chance to Sneak In
What It’ll Cost You: Nights where you never feel warm, despite sky-high heating bills
“If it were possible to take every crack on the outside of a typical home and drag them together, you’d have the equivalent of a three-by-three window open all the time,” says Lipford. Yikes.
Yet cracks can be easily and inexpensively sealed with a simple tube of caulk, and it’s available in hundreds of colors to match your window panes, outside siding, and even brick. Not sure where to caulk? Look for visible cracks around:
Fireplace or dryer vents
Anywhere something inside pokes a hole to the outside
- Not Getting Personal with Your Thermostat
What It’ll Cost You: Money you could spend on something else besides heating
We all know we should, but we seem to have some mental block when it comes to programming our thermostats to align with our schedules. It’s not that hard, and sometimes all it takes is buying a new one that suits you. (Like maybe a Wi-Fi one that’ll give you a little money-saving thrill each time you swipe your app.)
“From a cost-savings perspective, a programmable thermostat is a great investment, as much as 10% off your energy bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
- Skipping Furnace Tune-Ups
What It’ll Cost You: A furnace that’ll die years before it should — and higher energy bills.
Forget to service your furnace and you could easily cut five years off the life of your system, five years is a full third of the typical unit’s life span. New units can cost around $4,000 installed, making the $125 annual maintenance charge a no-brainer.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to replace the furnace filter, which cleans the air in your home, and also keeps your furnace coils cleaner, which can shave up to 15% off your energy bill. We suggest at least every three months, but possibly as often as monthly if you have allergies, pets, or smoke cigarettes at home.
- Foregoing a Fireplace Inspection
What It’ll Cost You: Possibly your life — and your home
A cozy fire is great, but if you don’t maintain your chimney, a fire can cost you thousands of dollars, not to mention the risk to you and your family.
Schedule your maintenance appointment as early as you can.If you wait until the busy season, you’ll have a hard time getting them out there, you’ll pay more, and you’ll get a lower quality job.
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
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
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.
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
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.