Recent Water Damage Posts

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.

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.