Recent Building Services Posts

Septic Systems

7/2/2018 (Permalink)

There are usually two different ways a home disposes of wastewater; city lines or a septic system.

A septic system is a highly efficient, self-contained, and underground wastewater treatment method. The septic systems treat and dispose of household wastewater onsite and are more often economical than centralized ‘city’ sewer systems in rural areas. Septic systems are usually found being in use where lot sizes are larger and houses are spaced widely apart. When your home has a septic tank, there are some extra lifestyle changes that need to be made to prevent damage and possible septic backup. Here are a few things to look out for and how to help prevent a septic tank system from failing:

Septic systems fail when the following occurs:

    External culprit

  • Failure to clean the septic system in a timely manner. The routine cleaning and maintenance is usually determined by how many people are living in the home, as well as the size of the tank itself. The more people, the more often the cleaning and emptying is needed. Check your local septic company to find out what is best for your home.
  • Soil inundated by storm water.
  • Roots that get entangled with the pipes.
  • Improper design or the tank system becoming outdated. Systems designed in the 1970’s may be inadequately designed based upon current standards.
  • Heavy machinery damaging the pipes.

     Internal Causes

  • Hydraulic overload. This occurs when too much water from the house enters the tank
  • Disposal of certain items; diapers, baby wipes, paper products other than toilet paper, cat litter, cigarettes, coffee grounds, and feminine products in your toilets can lead to septic backup.
  • Disposing of toxic chemical cleaners and paints down your drains. The living organisms in your septic system can’t digest and break down the harsh chemicals.
  • Grease; it doesn’t break down and will fill up the tank.
  • Using a water softener. If using, consider increasing the size of not only you system tank but also the leach field
  • Garbage Disposal Use. Using one can mean excessive solids. Which will cause you to pump out the tank more often.

Signs of a failing system

  • Liquid percolating up along the surface of the ground near where your septic system located.
  • Lush grass in your absorption field especially during dry periods.  
  • Slow flushing toilets.
  • Sink drains will empty at a slower rate.

Taking action:

  1. Getting your system and tank pumped out and cleaned. [Alternative systems with electric pumps, mechanical components and float switches need to be checked once a year.]
  2. If you have a well, test your water to make sure there aren’t nitrates or bacteria in your drinking water that could be hindering the organisms in your septic system.
  3. Regulating and staying on top of how water drains around your property. You don’t want to change it where it will cause excess water to pool onto the septic field.

Septic systems vs. city sewer lines. There is a mass difference in opinions on preference but for some people they only have the choice of one or the other. If you do fall under the category of having your waste water disposal method be a septic tank system it is crucial to maintain it and watch what is disposed of to help extend not only the life of it but to extend the time in between cleanings and pumping outs. If you are subject to having a sewage or septic backup in your home we advise that you do not try and clean it up yourself due to it not being clean water. That is where you would want a professional to come in and not only extract the contaminated water out, but also dry out and clean up any other affected materials that were damaged in the back up in the first place. Our team here at SERVPRO of Kitsap County know the proper ways of cleaning up contaminated water and the materials that it effects, and will always help you get your home back to normal ‘Like it never even happened.’

Carpet Tips & Tricks

6/11/2018 (Permalink)

There is a big disagreement among people in weather or not it is worth the investment to your home of having carpeted flooring or something else such as hardwood, tile or a similar option to those. If you are one of the many people that are in favor or having carpeting flooring, you know that keeping up with it to ensure the stains are properly removed, vacuumed and routinely cleaned. The main goal is to keep it feeling soft, clean and pretty much having that ‘newly installed’ look. With that being said, carpets can be one of the most trying things to preserve and keep clean because we walk on and put weight on them every day. Regardless of how much we abuse them, there are some measures you can take to keep your carpets in tip top shape.

  • Removing stains when they first happen can avoid a lot of frustration down the road. Simple liquid stains can usually be removed by blotting at the stain with water at first and then applying a type of carpet stain remover solution. If a cleaner of that type is not handy, you can attempt using white apple cider vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, shaving cream or grease cutting dish soap that you may have around the house.
  • Regular vacuuming maintenance is vital to maintaining the look and life of your carpets. When dirt and dust get pushed down into carpets, it causes the fibers to bow, twist and possibly break if they aren’t removed. This is what results in that dull dirty appearance you may see in some spots if you don’t regularly vacuum your carpeting. A good goal is to vacuum twice a week in heavy traffic areas and hit the baseboards and any gaps with a brush extension for the vacuum once a week.
  • Snip the snags. Snags in your carpets are unpleasant to look at. They usually come with a section of your carpet flooring to start to be coming up from the plastic string that the fibers are secured to. They should be cut immediately with scissors to prevent further damage. Do not vacuum over snags as they may get stuck in the vacuum itself and unravel more of the carpet.
  • Area rugs and runners. For some people, putting a rug over a carpet is pointless, but for those of you with higher amounts of traffic in your home, this may be something worth trying out. Those additional flooring options can be a way to help keep your carpets clean, longer. They will minimize the soiling being embedded into the carpet fibers, plus cut down on the amount of time you spend vacuuming.
  • Rake those dents. Most of the time someone doesn’t think about using a rake inside the house, and we’re not suggesting that per se, just the action itself. For the instances of having denting in your carpets, using a type of rake motion for those indents under your couch or other furniture, can easily be taken care of. First off, use a wet cloth to saturate the spot where the dent it and gently ‘rake’ your fingers back and forth. Make sure to do this gently to prevent breakage in the fibers.
  • Professional carpet cleaning can bring new life into old carpets. Routine maintenance is very important. Carpets should be professionally steamed cleaned about every 6-12 months to up their life expectancy. When you fail to keep the routine cleanings going, there is a chance that the carpets will not last as long.

Knowledge is power, or so we are told. When you are getting new carpets, be very attentive to the type of carpet you are getting and be aware of the maintenance of that type from the get go.

Some carpets are made with stain repellent, which make it had for dirt and stains to stick to the fibers. This can come in handy is you think that there might be a few more oopsies and mishaps with stain causing situations to occur.

Also keep in mind that the color of the carpet can hide or show certain stains more than others. Such as you can buy darker carpets with patterns so when stains do show up, it’s much harder to see them initially.

If you have carpeting in your home or business, try the following tips to help your carpets remain cleaner. In the instances that your carpeting has been damaged due to a water, mold, smoke or fire loss, don’t forget to call our team at SERVPRO of Kitsap County today. We are always here to help get your home and/or business back to normal, “Like it never even happened.”

Working with a Contractor After our Team Helps Your Home or Business

5/14/2018 (Permalink)

After our team comes in to dry out, clean up, mitigate and/or remediate your loss, the next step is to rebuild and restore. Your home and business building is one piece of property that you want to make sure is worked on and taken care of by the best hands possible; this is where a contractor/construction company comes into play.

The American Red Cross and Federal Emergency Management Agency suggest homeowners to use caution when choosing and working with construction companies and contractors. Just in the light of ensuring the best company and people are working on your building. Keep in mind, if you have been satisfied with work done by a licensed local contractor in the past, try them first. If they aren’t available, ask them for recommendations before trying your luck of the draw on an internet search.

If you do hire a contractor/company that you don’t know or haven’t worked with prior, talk to a few different contractors/companies about what to expect before you sign anything.

Trustworthy suggestions:

  • Check on the company’s reputation both interpersonally as well as online. The local Better Business Bureau, home builders association, or building trades council are excellent sources. Find out if the company, staff or even the business owners have had common complaints filed against them.
  • Require proof of insurance. Confirm that the contractor has disability and worker's compensation insurance. Keep in mind that if the contractor is not insured, you may be liable for accidents if they occur on your property.
  • Ask for references. Contractors should be willing and not bothered to provide names of previous customers. Make the extra effort to call some of the customers and see if they would hire the company again.
  • Start the job process off right; get a written estimate. Make sure it includes everything you expect and need the contractor to do. Some companies charge a fee for an estimate, which is understandable because they have to come out to your location, take measurements, and take the time to draft up the work, labor hours and materials needed to complete the job needed.
  • Make sure that you receive a contract. It should be complete and clearly state all the work, the costs, and the payment schedule. Never sign a blank contract or one with blank spaces. Remember that when money is involved, it may be worth your while to have a trained and professional second pair of eyes take a look at it before you sign it. (Example; an attorney.)
  • If the contractor has any guarantees or warranties, get them in writing. Most often, they should be written into the contract, clearly stating what is guaranteed, who is responsible for the guarantee (the company, the contractor, or the manufacturer), and how long the guarantee or warranties are valid for.
  • Ask for complete financial details in writing and for an explanation of any differences from regular prices. Sales are worthwhile and they do exist, but make sure that you are getting the services and products you are paying for.
  • Get a copy of the final signed contract. Once signed, it is binding on both you and the contractor/company.

Don't sign off before the job is finished, meaning don't sign completion papers or make the final payment until the work is completed and to your satisfaction. A reputable contractor will not threaten you or pressure you to sign anything if the job is not completed to its entirety.

Always keep in mind:

  • The cheapest price isn’t always the best option, you want to make sure that your building structure is put back together completely and not in a speedy and possibly messy way. There is a reason that some companies or contractors change more than others, because of their experience and skillset.
  • Not all online reviews can stand as references for the line of work that you may need, every job is different and every contractor and company are different.

Make sure your contractor has you or a qualified second pair of eyes to examine the work done to the crucial parts of the structure before it is covered up. Inadequate work on electrical lines, water lines and areas near your buildings foundation such as basement walls will be hidden from view when the job is completed, and you won't know if there is a problem until the next disaster occurs. It is worth the extra call, money and time to get work inspected properly before it’s all buttoned up.

If you are curious about the contractors that we suggest our customers to use, give our SERVPRO of Kitsap County office a call today. We trust our customers with them and know they are in good hands no matter what.

Stack Effect/ Chimney Effect

1/22/2018 (Permalink)

With the colder months upon us and the fact that it’s going to proceed to get colder something that every home owner should be aware of is a stack effect, or as it is also known chimney effect. In this article we will cover what stack effect is, causes and reactions, and also provide suggestions on how to combat it to improve your home’s ventilation.

Textbook definition states that the chimney effect is the movement of air in and out of buildings, chimenys, or flue-gas stacks, resulting from air buoyancy. Buoyancy occurs due to a difference in indoor-to-outdoor air density resulting from temperature and moisture differences. The result is either a positive or negative resistance force. The greater the thermal difference and the height of the structure, the greater the buoyancy force, and thus the stack effect occurs. The stack effect helps drive natural ventilation, air infiltration, and fire upwards into a flu or chimney like containment. In other words, warm air rises & cold air sinks, and when you’re trying to heat your home in the winter this can cause higher heating bills and colder homes. The same holds true in summer, except it’s cold air escaping through poorly sealed windows, doors, and vents.

Reactions on buildings:

Like wind, the stack effect can move large volumes of air through a building envelope. In the winter, the warm air in a heated building is lighter (less dense) than the cold air outside of the building; that warm bubble of air wants to rise up and out. Which creates the flow of air leaving the top of the building, drawing cold air into cracks at the bottom through windows, doors, and vents. In summer, the reverse happens when hot air outside of an air-conditioned house can push cooler indoor air down from the ceiling and out of cracks in the basement. This potentially can lead to moisture problems on the top floor.

Stack effect can also cause moisture damage. 

Moisture rides on air currents, so in any part of a building that experiences a large flow of air between inside and out, moisture will condense on cold surfaces. You can sometimes see the results on brick buildings—as moist air accumulates in the brick, it can cause staining, efflorescence, and spalling from freeze-thaw cycles. These problems aren’t confined to brick, anytime there is pressure pushing moist inside air, or pulling moist outside air, into the wall cavity you can get condensation which in turn can lead to mold and rot.

The differences in temperature and pressure aren’t as great during the summer as they are during the winter.

Unlike most other pressures, the stack effect acts every hour of every cold day, and the pressures created by the stack effect are substantial. Which goes hand in hand with the fact that “leaky” buildings go through great amounts of energy. Air leaks can add to condensation, compromising the quality of the indoor air.

Chimney effect is self-perpetuating

Air entering the building causes the lower levels to be cold, in response they turn up the thermostat. When the people upstairs get all that heated air, they open the windows to cool down. This escalates the flow of air leaving the building, which increases the flow of air coming up from the bottom floors. So the people downstairs plug in space heaters, you end up with a continuous cycle of sucking air up from the bottom, heating it, and blowing it out the top.

A Voice of Assistance:

In a house, stack effect pressures aren’t as high as in taller buildings, but they still cause uncomfortable drafts, moisture movement, and energy loss. As in all buildings, positive or negative pressure is highest at the top and at the bottom, so make sure the ceiling plane is tight. That means sealing all holes for can lights, connections between floors through dropped soffits and tray ceilings, and other pathways for air movement. At the bottom of the building, the biggest leaks are in the rim joist assembly because so many components are fastened together there. If all parts of the air barrier system aren’t correctly detailed, you’ll have fairly significant air leakage at the rim joist. 

With this information, we hope that you correctly, and in the most reasonable and energy efficient way this winter, make sure there’s a good cycle of ventilation that isn’t allowing too much warm air to escape your home. This will help ensure everyone is kept warm, dry, and comfortable.

For further information, we reference research proven from http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/stack-effect-when-buildings-act-chimneys

The Tools We Use

10/23/2017 (Permalink)

The SERVPRO of Kitsap County franchise takes pride in making sure our customers are helped to the best of our ability. To do this, our products and equipment need to be the best available so we can make sure the property and situations we encounter during disasters are able to be restored and brought to preloss conditions. With that in mind, we will take you through a behind the scenes look at some of the equipment we use to help get your property and structure to preloss condition. Each machine and piece of equipment has a crucial role in the restoration process. Our technicians are trained to use each piece of equipment to its highest potential. Here are a few of our most commonly seen and used machines, and their purpose.

PORTABLE EXTRACTORS: Extractors are used for cleaning carpets, cleaning upholstery, and removing water from floors after a water loss. An extractor has three major components: a heater, a pump, and a vacuum system. Our technicians use this machine for variable heat controlled cleaning, including to heat the rinse solutions to clean more effectively. The vacuum system and waste recovery tank remove soils and moisture from the surface and collects it in the tank. With this machine, we can expedite the removal of water and moisture from damaged materials and textiles to help restore it to preloss conditions. In doing this, the potential of having to replace materials or belongings is lowered.

THE OZONE GENERATOR: The portable ozone generator eliminates a variety of odors caused by animals, cigarette smoke, mold and mildew, fire, and water damage. This machine generates “ozone”, which consists of unstable oxygen molecules (containing three oxygen atoms). Ozone chemically reacts with odor-causing molecules to oxidize residues and remove the odors. When using this piece of equipment, we follow the absolute and necessary guidelines of use with the purpose of all people and pets should be removed from the environment during ozoning for health and safety reasons. Once the deodorization process is complete, ozone quickly reverts to the normal oxygen molecule, leaving no residues. Once the odor is gone, the results are permanent. One of the features of the ozone generator is that it is made to be compact and portable, yet also be a durable and professional unit.

WEARING AND FIT CHECKING OUR RESPIRATORS: Safety for not only our technicians, but also our customers, is a priority in our company. We enforce that respirators must be worn during all times by our technicians during exposure to hazardous situations. To be safe, we follow one rule of thumb: if the work environment is unpleasant or if it makes you dizzy, our crew is to wear their respirators. No if’s, and’s or but’s. If we are using respirators, we inform customers in the general area of this and advise them with the necessary precautions associated with the work going on for their safety.

DEHUMIDIFIERS: Dehumidifiers remove moisture from the air after it has evaporated.  Our technicians position dehumidifiers strategically in a water-damaged structure so the moist, humid air moves through the unit while dry, warm air is discharged from the unit circulating back into the wet areas. Did you know that dry air acts like a sponge to absorb moisture from wet materials? Since it does, we use the dehumidifiers especially because it provides a continual source of dry air to enhance the restoration process. Refrigerant dehumidifiers remove water vapor through condensation, and based on the specific job, we will use a small commercial refrigerant dehumidifier because it removes approximately 8 gallons of water per day from the atmosphere, while an extra-large commercial refrigerant could remove as much as 20 gallons per day.

AIR MOVERS: Air movers are used in water damage restoration to enhance evaporation at the surface level and reduce drying time. These machines introduce airflow at the surface level and replace the highly saturated air with drier air to enhance evaporation. Our crew has gone through specific training on the science of drying to know how many air movers they will need and how to position them to create airflow across all wet surfaces. In some cases, when the lower portion of multiple walls are wet, involving wet drywall behind baseboards, enough air movers are positioned to create a vortex of circular airflow around the walls. Our technicians operate the air movers in several different positions, offering flexibility in how to direct the airflow with the best possible outcome. 

TRUCK MOUNT: A truck-mounted extraction unit consists of several smaller components, which work together to make one of the best pieces of cleaning equipment in the industry. The pieces are made up of the engine, the vacuum, the chemical pump, the water pump, and the heating system. The vacuum system extracts water, soils, and cleaning solutions. The chemical pumping system meters cleaning solution into the extraction tool. The water pumping system pressurizes the water used for cleaning and/or rinsing. The heating system heats the water used for cleaning and rinsing. This equipment setup is crucial and is used for various disaster clean ups. Due to the required training of this equipment our technicians know the specific environment needed for this piece of machinery to work and how to maintain it appropriately for health and safety reasons. 

The SERVPRO® Equipment Department tests all equipment, including the truck mount, before putting the items in the product line. To provide the best service to our customers, we must know how the truck mount works, how to set up and maintain the unit, how to use it safely, how to clean the vehicle interior, unit, tools, hoses, and so forth as needed, and how to inspect all equipment and accessories for any damage, leaks, or wear.

There are many other machines and equipment accessories we use, but for today’s behind the scenes look we are proud to show you some our most commonly used pieces of equipment. These machines help us get your personal disaster back to preloss condition and to make it “like it never even happened!” because SERVPRO of Kitsap County is always here to help!

Are Your Ducts in Order?

4/17/2017 (Permalink)

Did you know, your ventilation system is often the biggest culprit in poor indoor air quality? Inspecting the ductwork in your facility or home should be a high priority. In most cases, the HVAC system has been operating for some time without much attention. Dirty ducts can circulate odors, contaminants such as mold, and irritating dust throughout your building or home.

A routine part of your local SERVPRO Franchise Professional’s service is inspecting the heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit (HVAC). Keeping the HVAC and ductwork clean can potentially extend the life span of the equipment by allowing it to operate at peak condition, which may help save you money. Duct cleaning may not always be necessary. SERVPRO Franchise Professionals will inspect your HVAC system and ductwork and make recommendations about the best way to address any indoor quality concerns. This inspection can help save you money and provide peace of mind on the health of your HVAC system and ductwork.

In some circumstances, such as after fire, smoke or suspected mold growth, duct cleaning becomes an essential part of the cleanup process. In these cases, your SERVPRO Franchise Professional can often restore the HVAC system and ductwork to pre-damage condition.

If you have a fuel burning furnace, stove or fireplace, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends they be inspected for proper functioning, and be serviced before each heating season to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning.

The SERVPRO Duct Cleaning System is proven and cost efficient. Unlike the majority of duct cleaning services, your SERVPRO Franchise Professional uses a portable ventilation and air duct cleaning system to examine ductwork and make a clean sweep, removing years of dust and grime.

  • The process begins by using patented equipment including a roto-scraper, which automatically adapts to the duct’s shape and diameter while traveling through the duct, removing debris and filth before vacuuming begins.
  • Next, a powerful push-pull air delivery and collection system transfers the debris from the ducting to a 16-gallon container.
  • Air if filtered through a HEPA filtration system, removing 99.97% of the particles in the airstream. HEPA filters capture debris and keep the indoor environment clean.
  • As an optional process, a sealant or coating product may be sprayed to address odor or microbial concerns.
  • Filters will either be cleaned or replaced to remove odor and dirt.

For more information on duct cleaning, or to schedule an appointment, contact your local SERVPRO Franchise Professionals today.