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Categories of Hurricanes and the Damage They Cause

10/6/2019 (Permalink)

House with green SERVPRO truck parked in driveway. No matter the category of a hurricane, taking the warnings seriously and preparing your home is important to mitigate future storm damage.

Floridians are no stranger to all manner of storms. This fact makes the threat of a storm less worrisome for seasoned Palm Beach residents. In the event of a tropical storm or hurricane, many residents do not always stir any fear or doubts of their safety. This is because we have weathered many storms before and understand their unpredictability. While this hunker down mentality is understandable it is not entirely applauded. 

Even at a category 1, the winds from a hurricane can cause indirect damage to a home. Let's break down the types of wind and their associated damage for major storms. 

Category 1 & 2

Category 1 produces 74-95 MPH winds. Category 2 winds are up 110 MPH. While these storms are considered less threatening there is still a huge potential of damage to roofs, gutters, and porches. Well-constructed homes are able to sustain these winds without major damage to their foundation; however, it is indirect damage this is possible. Flying debris, fallen trees, or down power lines can cause a ripple effect of damage.

Category 3

Winds of up to 129 MPH classifies storms in this category as major storms. In this storm even well-built homes still have damage occur to their roof and windows. Other storm effects include numerous fallen trees blocking roads, flying debris will be larger, and power lines or water may be unavailable for weeks.

Category 4

Category 4 winds are up to 156 MPH. These winds are so strong that is unlikely older homes will survive without serious structural damage. Buildings and homes that are newly built and up to code have a better chance at undergoing these wind forces though there is still possibility of serious damage.

Category 5

This is the worst winds can get. These storms are catastrophic, seeing winds of 157 MPH or more. This hurricane knows no bounds and storms at this category have known to completely destroy homes and buildings. Many areas after going through this strong of a storm are demolished with buildings almost flattened or bare bones left of their foundations.

Regardless the category or the winds accompanying it, it is important to take any storm seriously and be prepared. Damage can happen from more than just winds; flooding is imminent in some areas as hurricanes bring heavy rains. In the event of a hurricane be sure to keep you and your family safe, taking all warnings seriously until the storm has passed.

New Homeowner Checklist: Mold Inspection

10/5/2019 (Permalink)

destroyed wall with black mold on it Mold flourishes near plumbing in areas with a lot of moisture and poor ventilation.

The home buying process can be stressful for potential new homeowners. There is plenty of paperwork to complete and long to-do lists.  On this to-do list, usually during the closing stages, there are home inspections that take place. These inspections are meant to take a detailed survey of your roof, plumbing, sewer lines and other major systems to look for any broken or damaged infrastructure. Among this checklist, should be inspecting for mold.

Mold has the tendency to quickly spread throughout a home. If left lingering, the damage can be costly. Home buying is already a huge financial endeavor for many people and adding to maintenance bills because of mold is not exactly a welcomed thought. Homeowners should make sure that mold assessment is conducted as one of their first steps. Due to it’s ambiguous physical state, mold damage is not always evident upon first glance; leaving this inspection to the professionals is best. A mold assessor is recommended as they have experiencing spotting tell-tale signs.

Mold can be found in homes and rooms especially, with poor ventilation that are constantly humid. Think of a bathroom constantly being exposed to moisture; mold growth is infamous in bathrooms. It is important to remember mold can also be found in brand new construction as well. A new tightly sealed building may have trapped moisture inside, that may not appear as an issue at first but can transform into a serious mold issue later.

Buying a home is a major investment. Just like with any financial endeavor, protecting your investment is important, making mold inspection a must-do before finalizing your purchase. In the case that mold is present you will need immediate mold remediation. SERVPRO of West Palm Beach has years of experience in helping homeowners with their mold damage. Call us today to discuss how we can help make sure your home is move-in ready!

Removing Smoke After a House Fire

9/23/2019 (Permalink)

Living room with smoke and soot damage This home in Lake Worth experienced a serious fire causing soot and smoke damage to cover the entire living room.

Can damage happen to your apartment from a neighbor's house fire?

If you live in an apartment building, it’s likely you hear all of the commotion of your neighbors and their daily lives. Due to having to share the same floors and walls, you will get your fair share of noise, smells, and disasters. Apartments in close proximity of one another are more than likely in the direct path of every day disasters including flooding, mold, odors, and fire.

If the apartment upstairs were to have leaky pipes or an overflown tub, surely there would be damage to the ceiling of the apartment below. The extent of that damage may even go beyond just the ceiling, soaking the carpet and furniture below. Eventually, as is common with stagnant water and moisture, mold may develop affecting more than just one apartment. As with water damage, smoke and odors from fires are also able to permeate into the walls of multiple units. 

Depending on the size of the fire and materials burned, smoke and odor can easily travel through HVAC systems, while seeping into the walls of units. It is possible for a nearby unit to develop odors. While odors are a nuisance, they are often a symptom of lingering smoke. Smoke from a house fire can be especially dangerous and potentially harmful to a person’s health. Homes today are filled with many different materials, organic and inorganic. Each material burns differently, releasing different chemicals and matter. Thinking the smoke and odors “will just go away on their own”, is not realistic. 

In the event that a unit in your building catches fire, an professional restoration company should inspect your home for any damage relative to the neighboring fire. A thorough inspection will uncover what is not initially seen or smelled. If issues are suspected, a professional restoration company can address these areas, providing proper fire damage restoration.

Mold Testing: Mold Testing Kits vs. Professional Mold Inspection

9/14/2019 (Permalink)

ceiling covered with mold spores Don't wait to call a professional if you suspect your home has mold damage.

Are at Home Mold Testing Kits Worth It?

Homeowners may inspect their homes almost daily for any signs of issue. This can mean a dented wall, chipped paint, a leak in their bathroom, or a faulty appliance. While it is in the right of the homeowner to ensure their home is without any potential disasters, mold inspection is not to be taken lightly.

A patch of black spots or an earthy, musty smell might cause a homeowner to run to their nearest home improvement store to purchase a mold testing kit. The initiative is applauded but not without warning. There are many issues with testing kits, ranging from their validity to their prices. This is not to mention that these kits require a homeowner to make contact with potential mold. Without proper equipment, a novice exposing themselves to mold can be detrimental to their health.

A fallacy of a mold testing kit is their accuracy. Mold is organically ubiquitous. This means it is pretty much everywhere including the air, on surfaces, even in your home. And because of this testing with a department store kit will always present users with positive findings for mold. Just because mold is found does not mean there is a mold problem.

The ability of a kit to provide an understanding of the kind of mold found is an issue as well. Though there are kits that allow users to send off samples to testing labs, this still does not provide any further instruction on steps take after mold is found.

The answers found in a mold at-home testing kit are not meaningful. These kits are highly advised against in the mold restoration industry as they can be extremely expensive and moot. Only will a certified mold inspector provide real answers and real results. Professionals who have experience and knowledge of mold are able to consider multiple factors when inspecting your home. These factors can include areas mold is found, types of mold, implications to the rest of your home, and if there is a source that is contributing to the exacerbation of the mold like moisture. 

Don’t trust the safety of your home and those in it to a store mold testing kit. Call your home insurance if there is a potential mold issue or a professional company like SERVPRO of West Palm Beach. Take care of your mold infestation the right way the first time!

Power Outages in Palm Beach County

9/10/2019 (Permalink)

Power outages are more common than many residents and business owners like to believe. Though we live in the 21stcentury where technology and infrastructure are advanced, power loss is still very prevalent. In fact, there are a few different types of power outages that can occur.

  1. Blackouts

Likely to be the most familiar term, this form of power outage usually covers a vast area of total power loss. The duration of this outage can vary from a few minutes to even weeks.

  1. Brownouts

Brownouts are not as severe in power loss as a blackout can be. A drop in voltage is what characterizes a brownout, with power usually quickly returning.

  1. Permanent Fault

These outages are caused by a fault in power line, like a shorted circuit. Permanent faults are far more detrimental in power loss than blackouts are, as power is unable to return until the fault is cleared.

  1. Intentional Power Outage

These outages are scheduled by power companies and vendors alike when they are working on or near power lines. To ensure the safety of their employees and surrounding area, power is temporarily disabled for a short period of time.

The possibilities of any of these power outages increase during Florida’s storm season.

Falling tree limbs, flying debris, or lightning can all lead to power loss. Due to the frequency of storms in Palm Beach County and the unpredictability of their severity, it is important to know the course of action to take when faced with power loss.

1. Inventory the items that absolutely call for a power source

Medical devices, appliances or other necessities powered by electricity may require you to keep a generator on hand. If you must use a generator be sure to do so at a safe distance from your house and those surrounding you.

2. Unplug appliances that are not needed and keep them close

During long periods of power loss there may be electrical surges that can harm your appliance. Keeping appliances closed is as important to avoiding damage as it is unplugging them. Power loss in the Florida heat can tempt anyone to grab cold items from the fridge or even bask in the cold air the freezer can provide. Not giving in to this temptation means saving yourself from spoiled goods later on.

3. Conserve energy and gas

Aside from checking for local updates and alerts on power restoration, conserve your phone’s battery. This goes for gas as well. Saving on your car’s gas will help in the case there is an emergency that requires you to evacuate to a safer area.

If your home or business experiences more damage than just a power outage after a storm, call SERVPRO of West Palm Beach.

Hurricane Dorian and Bahamas Relief

9/10/2019 (Permalink)

SERVPRO team stands in front of SERVPRO logo SERVPRO of West Palm Beach partners with West Palm Beach Police Department to donate 250 water filters and other Hurricane Dorian relief supplies.

At SERVPRO of West Palm Beach, we understand what it takes to be a part of a community. As no stranger to the aftermath of disasters, we also understand the hard times that can follow. Many of the customers we have served have dealt with damages from hurricanes. Thankfully we have been able to help many of these home and business owners. 

After the devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Dorian to the Greater Bahamas, our team along with the West Palm Beach Police Department has extended this understanding and help to our friends in the Caribbean. Many people have been left without homes or businesses. Access to basic resources is also extremely limited at this time. SERVPRO of West Palm Beach has donated 250 water filters from Go Build Love, to provide clean drinking and bathing water. Along with the help from our owners and crew, we were able to donate generators and other relief supplies as well. We implore members of the West Palm Beach community to join us in donating. If you are able to give many of the items needed are: 

  • Bottled Water
  • Nonperishable Food Items
  • Baby items including wipes, diapers, and formula
  • Cleaning and hygienic supplies
  • Blankets, towels, and bedding
  • Flashlights, butane, or generators

A few ways you can find out more information on how or where to donate:

Our thoughts are with The Bahamas and all of those affected by Hurricane Dorian.

The Most Hurricane Prone Cities in Palm Beach County

9/9/2019 (Permalink)

As it has been for the last few active hurricane seasons, there has been one hurricane that has been absolutely catastrophic to the areas it has hit. This year in 2019, Hurricane Dorian left many parts in the Bahamas, The Hurricane Capital of the World, devastated unfortunately. Dorian also had its course set to hit Florida as well. Due to the unpredictability of hurricanes, Dorian narrowly missed Florida, bringing only heavy rain and winds.

While Dorian long gone up the coast, hurricane season is still obviously here and Florida is not out of the clear. In fact, Florida has 8 of the 10 most vulnerable cities to hurricanes. The list includes many cities right here in Palm Beach County:

  1. Cape Hattaras, NC
  2. Delray Beach, FL
  3. Hollywood, FL
  4. Deerfield Beach, FL
  5. Boca Raton, FL
  6. Florida City, FL
  7. Grand Isle, LA
  8. Pierce, FL
  9. Miami, FL
  10. Lauderdale, FL

There are currently four systems in the Atlantic Ocean with Tropical Storm Humberto, the closest one aiming for Florida and the Bahamas. The other few systems are still in the premature stages of tropical depressions or storms.

Although it is too early to tell their impact or size, we are in the peak of season and within short distance of the most vulnerable, hurricane prone cities, it is important to remain prepared.

Having a solid plan in place for your family and home is necessary, whether you ride out the storm or evacuate. All too often many the residents that let their guard down, confident the storm will not hit them, experience more damage than they originally would have with a plan. Boarding up your home with shutters, stocking up on food and water, having sources of light or energy, are all precautions that must remain for the next two months.

During the storm season, here at SERVPRO of West Palm Beach, we make sure to remain current on occurrences, hurricane or otherwise. It is important for our families, our community, and our business to remain alert and prepared. 

Call our team today to discuss how SERVPRO of West Palm Beach can help you before and after the storms. 

Will Florida See Any Hurricanes in 2019?

8/24/2019 (Permalink)

Will There Be Any Hurricanes in 2019?

The beginning of the 2019 hurricane season was quiet for the Atlantic Ocean. Many Palm Beach County residents question if we’re in the clear for the remainder of 2019, with no more to worry about than heavy afternoon rains? While this season has been tamer than most, August to September is actually the most active time for hurricanes. In fact, there are three storm systems in the Atlantic right now. While these systems are not posing an imminent threat to Florida, there is a chance that they can develop into tropical depressions or low-end hurricanes.

Even if the systems lingering off the east coast bring serious rains and winds, the question still remains as to where all the storms have been. Talk of climate change affecting hurricane season has been centered around the notion that we should expect quicker forming and more frequent hurricanes. 2019’s season has been quite the opposite of what was expected especially when looking back on the destructive season’s in 2018 and 2017.

2019’s low activity can be attributed to winds and dust stemming from the Sahara desert in Africa. Moisture and warm sea temperatures are what hurricanes thrive on. As dry air and dust begin to diminish over the next few weeks, systems formed in the Atlantic will no longer be inhibited.

Before breathing a sigh of relief just yet, Florida residents should remain prepared through to October at the very least. At SERVPRO of West Palm Beach we always suggest our customers keep their Emergency Ready Plan, or ERP, up-to-date and handy in the case that they will need it for their home or business. When the storms do hit, an ERP provides organization for customers amidst the chaos of a hurricane. Our crew is also available after a hurricane in the case that your home endures any storm damage. Our equipment and technology work to clean, mitigate future damage, and restore your home or business. 

Call our team today to ask about SERVPRO’s ERP and how to stay prepared during the remainder of this hurricane season, 561-795-5410.

Uncommon Sources of Fires in West Palm Beach

8/19/2019 (Permalink)

A home in West Palm Beach in need of restoration services after a fire affected the entire garage.

When it comes to a fire, there are root causes that are common while others can be deemed as freak accidents. Then there are starters that are rare but still very prevalent in home or commercial fires. Staying vigilant and being aware is important, even when it comes to the most bizarre causes.

  1. Cleaning products

Even the most seemingly benign cleaning products can release vapors when used that can cause combustion. Spraying a cleaner on or near a flame source, whether a stove, candle, or even electrical outlet, should occur with extreme caution.

  1. Glass

Often in cartoons and movies, we’ve seen fires start with a magnifying glass and some sun. While this appears to be an exaggerated situation, it is a very real possibility. When hit with enough direct sun, glass fixtures or décor can create a beam of light. If it so happens that these beams of light are directed at a flammable material, like a curtain or furniture, that material can be easily set ablaze.

  1. Outdated products

Similar to broken wires and cords, products with old or even recalled wires can be a fire hazard. As consumers we forget the length of time in which we’ve had a toaster oven, hair appliance, or television. Assuming an item is fine based on the outer appearance can lead to seriously dangerous situations. Depending on the amount of time the item has been owned, these outdated products can be a generator of a serious fire if their wires have not been replaced.

  1. Home Project Materials

If you’ve recently finished a DIY project, especially if it was building an item of wood or polishing any furniture, there is a possibility that there are highly combustible items within arm's reach. Sawdust and linseed oil when left on surfaces that can easily catch flame are definitely fire hazards. Disposing of these items properly after use is highly encouraged.

  1. Pyrolysis

Often overlooked, pyrolysis is a chemical reaction that occurs when an item is exposed to heat over a long period of time. The chance of this happening is highly present when an item, like wood, is kept directly near a source of heat much like a piece of equipment or electronic appliance. Over time the heat of the equipment can cause the wood’s combustion temperature to lower and self-ignite.

Home and commercial owners have the duty to properly inspect all areas of their property for possible fire hazards. Removing or remedying common, and as shown above, uncommon sources of fire is important as fires are deeply unpredictable. Be sure to take action before finding yourself in a situation where damage remediation and restoration is needed for your property.

The Cost of Water Damage Restoration

7/29/2019 (Permalink)

How much will water damage restoration cost?

If you’re looking for the cost a restoration company will charge for water damage, chances are your need for services is immediate. We understand homeowners are naturally inclined to be curious and slightly stressed as to what an emergency disaster to their home will cost them.  Many homeowners typically submit a claim via their insurance to deal with these types of occurrences. However, there are some homeowner’s who elect to self-pay. Since every homeowner’s needs are different, the costs will most definitely be as well. The cost of water damage restoration is dependent on a few factors including, the source, the size of the affected area, and any other issues stemming from the water damage.

The source of any flooding, leaks, or moisture affect a bill's bottom line. The class of water from these sources are also considered as they require very different precautions and clean-up. Water categorized as clean is much safer and quicker to take care of as there are less health risks. Grey or black water can contain dangerous contaminants from sewer backups or toilet overflows; companies heed these situations with much more caution.

Despite the classification, water should be drained from the home prior to a full 24-hour period and the drying process should begin. If water is left sitting for too long, the extent of the damage is furthered. Heavily wet wood can begin to rot, fabrics tend to develop odors and drywall starts to hold more moisture. As the moisture accumulates in the material and air, it creates the perfect environment for mold and mildew. This could increase the cost of water damage restoration as mold remediation may now be needed.

The size of the area in which your home has been affected, along with damage occurred to your home’s structural materials impact cost as well. For example, it is less time consuming to dry carpet than it would be with flooring underneath the carpet heavily saturated with water. Another factor in price, is the number of rooms or levels, as well as the need to repair or ultimately replace building material.

Regardless of the price tag associated with water damage repair and cleanup, it is important to remember that going through a professional restoration is the best route to take. A DIY water repair can be risky for a homeowner’s health and wallet. Professional companies have the ability to properly price a water damage job with a more accurate estimate. Experienced crews can execute the restoration process with ease and safety equipment that a DIY clean-up cannot. Upon notice of damage, help to save on costs by acting swiftly and calling your insurance or a professional like SERVPRO of West Palm Beach. Our team does our best to have someone quickly onsite to provide a thorough, trustworthy assessment and estimate.

Call today, 561-795-5410.