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How Clogged Gutters Can Be a Cause of Serious Water Damage

8/5/2020 (Permalink)

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Summary: SERVPRO of Lake Travis/NW Austin urges homeowners to keep their gutters clean to prevent water damage.

Gutters and downspouts are designed to capture roof water and direct it away from the home. When the gutters and downspouts fail to perform as designed, the resulting water damage spells trouble for the homeowner, as the following scenario illustrates.

Water Damage Scenario: Clogged Gutters Flood a Basement

The water stain on the ceiling in the bedroom unsettled the elderly couple. Thunderstorms and high winds awakened them several times during the night, so they were not surprised to discover signs of water damage. However, the water damage was not limited to the bedroom. Water had flowed into the basement through the window wells, and an inch or more of water covered the basement floor. Because an inch of water in a 1500 square foot basement is over 900 gallons of water, the situation required much more than a DIY solution. The older couple understood the severity of the problem, so they called in the local SERVPRO water damage restoration specialist.

The team of professional technicians was on the scene in about an hour. The inspection and assessment revealed that the gutters were clogged along the side of the home where the water damage occurred. Water from the clogged gutters seeped into the eaves, damaging the bedroom ceiling, walls, and carpet. Water cascading out of the gutters had seeped into the foundation or poured through the basement window wells, flooding the basement. Both downspout extensions were disconnected. Hundreds of gallons of water had been deposited next to the foundation.

Stopping the water from entering the structure was a relatively easy task. The team would clean the gutters of all debris, re-attach the extensions to the downspouts, and clean out and cover the basement window wells. They would also make sure the ground sloped away from the home at an angle that could divert excessive amounts of water.

Once the inspection and assessment were completed and the homeowner approved the estimate, the damage restoration began. Being able to immediately start the cleanup process limited any further water damage, and removing the water and eliminating the moisture reduced the likelihood of mold issues arising.

Defective Downspouts

The above scenario highlights the importance of regularly cleaning the gutters and checking the downspouts. Gutter downspouts direct water away from the home and its foundation. Usually made of black corrugated pipe, downspout extensions should extend about six feet out from the foundation and drain away from the house, generally towards the street or backyard. If the downspouts are broken or missing or if the extensions become detached from the downspouts, water will collect next to the house and can gradually seep into the basement, pour in through cracks in the foundation, or drain into the basement through window wells or foundation vents.

Downspouts can become damaged and extension pipes can become disconnected due to a variety of causes.

  1. A riding lawn mower can snag a downspout extension, damaging the pipe or disconnecting it from the downspout. If the pipe is secured to the downspout with screws or a bracket, the entire downspout can be ripped from the side of the home. The disconnected extension may not be discovered until the signs of water damage appear.
  2. Water pressure from a heavy flow from the gutters and downspout can sometimes disconnect a downspout extension.
  3. When shrubs and bushes are being pruned or shaped, the extension can be accidentally disconnected.
  4. Dogs have been known to damage or disconnect the black corrugated extension pipe.

Clogged Gutters

Gutters, also known as eavestroughs, are essential to diverting water away from the home to keep the basement dry. Gutters on a house with nearby trees may become clogged with fallen leaves, twigs, seedpods, and other debris during the fall season or after a heavy thunderstorm or windstorm. This debris can impede water flow through the gutters and downspouts. Regular gutter cleaning should be a part of routine home maintenance to prevent any problems with water collecting on the roof, overflowing the gutters, and potentially flooding the crawl space, basement, or the interior walls and ceilings.

Water overflowing from gutters can cascade down the sides of the home where it can pool and seep into the basement. About fifteen minutes after a storm, the homeowner can go out and check to see if the gutters are directing water away from the home and not overflowing.

Ladder Safety When Cleaning Gutters

Some homes may require the assistance of an expert to safely remove all debris from the roof and gutters. According to Industrial Safety and Health News, there are 500,000 falls from ladders annually; 97 percent occur at home or on farms. SERVPRO of Lake Travis/NW Austin urges homeowners to observe extreme caution when cleaning gutters.

Electrocution is also a potential hazard when climbing a ladder to clean the gutters. Touching a power line with any part of the body, the ladder, or a metal tool can cause serious injury or death. Watch out for wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets when working near the edge of the home with a ladder. Bees often build nests under the eaves of the house, on gutters, in the shrubs, or in the ground in the case of yellow jackets. A sudden swarm of bees may result in a fall off a ladder. Also, some people are highly allergic to bee stings, and they may need immediate medical attention if they are stung.

Conclusion

The homeowner must keep a vigilant eye on the gutters, downspouts, and downspout extensions to ensure that water is being diverted away from the foundation and not causing damage. Cleaning out the gutters and checking the condition of the downspouts and the extensions should be a part of every homeowner’s regular home maintenance schedule. If water damage does occur, turn to the professionals at SERVPRO of Lake Travis/NW Austin for help.

For more information about water damage restoration and repair, visit the SERVPRO of Lake Travis/NW Austin at https://www.SERVPROlaketravisnwaustin.com. Contact the office by phone at (512) 318-2202.

Lake Travis/NW Austin Fire and Water Damage Restoration Company Promotes Fireworks Safety

6/30/2020 (Permalink)

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Summary: SERVPRO of Lake Travis/NW Austin urges people to be careful when using fireworks.

Fourth of July celebrations and fireworks displays are an American tradition. Residents of NW Austin, Lake Travis, and the surrounding areas enjoy this tradition. SERVPRO of Lake Travis/NW Austin, a fire and water damage restoration specialist, urges people to be careful when shooting off fireworks on Independence Day. The first use of fireworks in a July 4th celebration was in Boston, MA, in 1777. Founding father, John Adams said he wanted the anniversary of independence to be remembered for years with such things as “bonfires” and “illuminations.” Since the first July 4th fireworks display occurred during the Revolutionary War, some historians think the fireworks were intended as a “morale booster.” These early celebrations would have also included the firing of guns and cannons, adding to the explosive nature of the festivities.

Fireworks Can Be Dangerous

The National Fire Protection Association provides these fireworks fire and injury statistics to drive home the potential danger that can arise from improperly handling fireworks. “Fireworks started an estimated 19,500 fires in 2018, including 1,900 structure fires, 500 vehicle fires, and 17,100 outside and other fires. These fires caused five deaths, 46 civilian injuries, and $105 million in direct property damage. In 2018, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 9,100 people for fireworks-related injuries; half of those injuries were to the extremities and 34% were to the eye or other parts of the head. Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for more than one-third (36%) of the estimated 2018 injuries. These injury estimates were obtained or derived from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s 2018 Fireworks Annual Report by Yongling Tu and Jason Ng.”

How to Stay Safe When Using Fireworks

Fireworks are fun, but they also can be dangerous. The Texas Department of Insurance offers these fireworks safety tips to know how to have fun with fireworks and stay safe. 1. Know and follow local laws. Understand the local law and contact the local fire officials if there are any questions. Some places allow only certain types of fireworks, but most areas do not allow fireworks within city limits or during burn bans. 2. Find out if a permit is required. Organizers will need a permit from the local fire department if they are holding a fireworks event for a group of fifty or greater. 3. Hire licensed professionals. Make sure that the people hired to put on a group fireworks display have a pyrotechnic operator’s license that is valid in Texas. Contact the State Fire Marshal’s Office by phone at 1-800-578-4677 or by email at Fire.Marshal@tdi.texas.gov to find out if the individual or individuals have a Texas license. 4. Confirm that fireworks are legal in the area in question. Anyone can use fireworks any day of the year as long as the fireworks are not banned in the area where they are being used. However, fireworks can only be sold at certain times of the year. This sales period typically falls during the week or so leading up to a major holiday. Besides the Fourth of July and the New Year’s season, Texas counties can also choose to include Texas Independence Day (March 2nd), San Jacinto Day (April 21st), Cinco de Mayo (May 5th), and Memorial Day. 5. Be safe! It is essential to follow safety practices whenever fireworks are used. Children should not play with fireworks, and an adult or adults should always be vigilant whenever children are near fireworks. In addition, never consume alcohol when setting off fireworks. Follow the instructions on the firework, and only use the explosive in the way it is intended to be used. The fireworks set up should not be near brush, dry grass, flammable materials, or flammable substances. Never aim fireworks at a house, structure, person, or animal. In case of emergencies, keep a bucket of water, garden hose, or other water sources nearby. SERVPRO provides these fireworks safety tips as a public service to the residents of Lake Travis/NW Austin in the hopes that everyone will have an enjoyable, safe, and patriotic Fourth of July.

Fire and Water Damage Restoration Process

When a home or business is dealing with the aftermath of a fire, the damage that it can cause to the property structure and valuable possessions can be extremely devastating. Here at SERVPRO, the team understands the stress, confusion, and emotions that are present when dealing with this kind of ordeal. The SERVPRO technicians are highly skilled and certified, as well as equipped with fire damage restoration equipment to take special care of the client’s property and possessions. The SERVPRO team will be there with the customer every step along the way to explain the process to help get them through this stressful time. After the fire trucks leave, the home or business likely suffers from fire and smoke damage and extensive water damage from firefighting efforts. SERVPRO has the specialized fire restoration training needed to restore a home to its pre-fire condition. Every fire damage event is a little different and requires a unique solution, but the general process stays the same. The steps listed below illustrate the process for the typical fire damage emergency. Step 1: Emergency Contact. The restoration process begins when a customer calls SERVPRO. A representative will ask questions regarding the fire damage event that will help SERVPRO respond immediately with the appropriate equipment and resources. Step 2: Inspection and Fire Damage Assessment. SERVPRO technicians carefully inspect and test adjoining rooms of the property to determine the extent of the fire, smoke, and soot damage. This step is crucial to developing a plan of action. Step 3: Immediate Board-Up and Roof-Tarp Service. Fire damage can often compromise windows, walls, and roofs. To maintain security and to protect against further damage, the team can board up missing windows and walls and place tarps on damaged roofs. Step 4: Water Removal and Drying (If Water Damage Is Present). The water removal process begins almost immediately and removes the majority of the water. SERVPRO technicians then use dehumidifiers and air movers to remove the remaining water and complete the drying process. Step 5: Removal of Smoke and Soot from All Surfaces. Specialized equipment and techniques are used to remove smoke and soot from ceilings, walls, and other surfaces. Step 6: Cleaning and Sanitizing. Skilled technicians clean, sanitize, and disinfect all of the restorable items and structures that were damaged by the fire. SERVPRO employs a variety of cleaning techniques to restore belongings to pre-fire conditions. The SERVPRO specialists are also trained to remove odors using industrial air scrubbers and fogging equipment. Step 7: Restoration. Restoration is the final step—getting a home or business to its pre-fire condition. Restoration may involve minor repairs, such as replacing drywall, painting, and installing new carpet, or it may entail major repairs such as the reconstruction of various areas or rooms in a home or business. Conclusion. SERVPRO of Lake Travis/NW Austin hopes that everyone’s Fourth of July celebration will be safe, enjoyable, and fire-free. The team of fire and water damage experts is proud to serve Lake Travis, Briarcliff, and NW Austin. To learn more about fire and water damage restoration, visit the SERVPRO of Lake Travis/NW Austin at https://www.SERVPROlaketravisnwaustin.com. Contact a SERVPRO representative by phone at (512) 318-2202.

Austin-Area Water Damage Specialists Handle HVAC Leaks

5/29/2020 (Permalink)

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Summary: SERVPRO of Lake Travis/NW Austin provides emergency water damage restoration when the HVAC system leaks.

At 63.75 miles long and having over 271 miles of shoreline, Lake Travis is the most commercially active reservoir in Texas. Its status as a non-Corps of Engineers lake allows for private lakeside property. Crystal clear blue waters and proximity to Austin make Lake Travis one of the most desirable places in Texas to work, live, or visit. Lake-related businesses and recreational activities abound.

Of the many activities available at Lake Travis, the retired couple enjoyed watching the sunset at their favorite restaurant, which overlooked the lake. Today was very special because their grandkids were with them. Boating, skiing, kayaking, and swimming at the waterpark were topped off with a delicious meal and an awe-inspiring sunset. Bob and Linda were so glad they had retired to the Austin area. The children and grandchildren only lived a few hours away, and when they came to visit, there was always something to do at the lake.

All week long, the HVAC system had been working overtime to keep the lakehouse cool for the guests. Bob noticed that the system never seemed to take a rest.

That week, there were unusual occurrences around the house. The grandchild with allergies had mentioned a musty smell in the guest bedroom. The carpet outside the bathroom door was constantly wet, but everyone thought it was because of the traffic to and from the bathroom for showers and baths. While gathered around the kitchen table for a hearty breakfast before the grandkids headed home, one of the grandchildren mentioned that her sleeping bag was wet when she awoke that morning. It looked like water had been dripping from the light fixture in the bedroom.

Bob immediately went upstairs to investigate. When he saw the evidence, he knew it had to be the HVAC unit in the attic. An HVAC technician confirmed Bob’s suspicions. The drain pan was clogged with mold and algae, the coils needed cleaning, and the filter urgently needed to be changed. The excessive summer heat and the extra houseguests had overwhelmed the system's compromised ability to remove the water in the drain pan. Water had been leaking out of the pan for almost a week. According to the HVAC technician, twenty or more gallons per day may have leaked from the system.

The cleanup job was too big for Bob and Linda to handle alone. They needed water damage specialists who would respond on a weekend and stay until the situation was stabilized. What they needed was emergency 24/7 service and a disaster response team with the training and equipment to take care of the problem as soon as possible. Fortunately for Bob and Linda, it took only one phone call.

The Water Damage Restoration Process

When a home or commercial property has water damage from flooding or leaks, SERVPRO of Lake Travis/NW Austin has the expertise and equipment to properly restore the property. Experienced technicians and a scientific approach to water removal and water cleanup enable proper drying and restoration of a property with water damage. Every water damage event is different and requires a unique solution, but the general process remains the same.

Step 1 - Emergency Contact

The restoration process begins when a call is placed to SERVPRO of Travis Lake/NW Austin. The representative guides the home or commercial property owner through the crisis and may ask several questions to help the SERVPRO team better understand the equipment and resources needed for the job.

Step 2 - Inspection and Water Damage Assessment

The scope of the water damage is determined at this stage. To ensure complete restoration, the water damage specialist inspects and tests to understand the extent of the damage and how far the moisture has traveled.

Step 3 - Water Removal and Water Extraction

The water removal process begins almost immediately and removes most of the water. Powerful pumps and vacuum units are used to quickly remove hundreds or thousands of gallons of water from the home or commercial building, which helps prevent secondary water damage and mold growth.

Step 4 - Drying and Dehumidification

Specialized equipment removes the remaining water that is harder to access. The SERVPRO professionals use room measurements, temperature, and relative humidity to determine the optimal number of air movers and dehumidifiers needed to dry a home or business.

Step 5 - Cleaning and Sanitizing

All of the restorable items and structures damaged by the water are cleaned. The technicians are adept at cleaning contents using several proven techniques. The SERVPRO team is trained to provide sanitizing treatments, remove odors, and deodorize the property.

Step 6 - Restoration

Restoration is the process of restoring the home or business to its pre-water damage condition. Restoration may involve minor repairs, such as replacing drywall and installing new carpet, or major repairs, such as the reconstruction of various areas or rooms in a home or business. SERVPRO can handle the rebuild process and coordinate the entire project with the insurance company, eliminating confusion and stress while bringing peace of mind.

SERVPRO of Lake Travis/NW Austin understands the stress and worry that comes with a fire or water damage incident and the disruption it causes to the home or business. The goal is to minimize the interruption and quickly make the damaged area look "Like it never even happened." The team specializes in the cleanup and restoration of residential and commercial property after water, fire, or smoke damage but can also mitigate mold and mildew from a home or business. No damage is too large or too small. SERVPRO of Lake Travis/NW Austin can handle the reconstruction from the loss, making them the local one-stop-shop.

For more information about water damage restoration, visit the SERVPRO of Travis Lake/NW Austin website at https://www.SERVPROlaketravisnwaustin.com. To speak with a SERVPRO representative, call (512) 318-2202.