Recent Posts

A force to be reckoned with.

5/10/2022 (Permalink)

Mother nature. She is powerful. It doesn’t matter what you have planned for the day, she calls the shots. With little to no warning, she can bring floods, fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, and blizzards. Over the last 5 years, there have been over $742.1 billion in damages. 2021 was a record-breaking year, and there has been an increasing trend in high-cost disasters. The aftermath of catastrophic weather events can be overwhelming. It is important to keep safety in mind. There are many risks involved with attempting to regain access to your property after a major storm event. The property and the surrounding areas have to be deemed safe from downed wires, live electricity, contaminated water, and structural hazards. After safely regaining access to your property, it is important to board up openings and tarp roofs to prevent further damage. Turning off the water in the event an internal water leak is indicated will also help prevent any further internal or structural damages. SERVPRO of Austin and Albert Lea is ready to respond to our community in their time of need, offering emergency storm response services. After SERVPRO is dispatched to your location, we provide a scope of work for your home or business and begin to execute a plan to get your home or business back to preloss condition. We expertly extract excess water using pumps and our extraction equipment. Specialized drying equipment and dehumidification begin to take place to help stabilize the moisture in the environment. We use expert drying science and thorough documentation and monitoring to execute the restoration process quickly and safely, making it “Like it never even happened.”

What about water damage?

5/10/2022 (Permalink)

Water damage can start to show in one hour. That’s why it’s important to remove as much water and moisture as you can in a flooded bathroom, as quickly as you can. It’s vital that you tackle water damage quickly before damp and mold issues occur. Signs of water damage include:
– A water damaged ceiling – look all around the room, including the ceiling and walls underneath the bathroom for damp or discoloration.
– Laminate floor water damage – check out the floor covering if you have one.
– Water damaged wall – look all around for damp or discoloration.
– Water damaged skirting boards – wood will warp and eventually rot and crumble if the room isn’t properly dried.

If you detect water damage in your home, the damage may have gone deeper into your home’s substructure. Don’t worry – contact a professional who knows how to deal with water damage and be sure to take photos when you discover the damage, in case you need to claim on your home insurance.  

for more info visit homeserve.com

Virus vs Bacteria

5/6/2022 (Permalink)

Germs are everywhere. What exactly is a “germ”? A germ can be any microorganism but usually refers to those causing disease. The most common germs humans come into contact with are bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa. While good hand washing and clean, healthy living can help mitigate some of the damages done by bad germs, it is important to know what kind of germ is affecting you so that you can take appropriate actions. Bacteria and viruses both often lead to infections within the human body.

Bacterial infections are when a single-celled organism finds nutrients from its environment. Often times the environment bacteria settle in can be our bodies. Bacteria finding a home within our bodies can lead to things like cavities, urinary tract infections, ear infections, or even strep throat. Bacteria can often be fought with antibiotics. Using antibiotics too unnecessarily or leaving a dose of antibiotics incomplete can have adverse effects, however. As bacteria breed and multiply, it is Darwinism at its finest. Only the strong survive the antibiotics. Leaving antibiotics unfinished allows the strongest ones left behind ready to rage battle, or even catch a ride to the next flourishing environment.

Viral infections, however, work a little differently. Viruses are hardly even full cells, made mostly of genetic material. Viruses, unlike bacteria, can only live for a short time without their host, as they need to use the structure of their host to reproduce and live. Hosts can be anything living. A person, animal, or even a plant can carry a virus. Viruses typically cause illness in the host. Viruses are not usually treated with antibiotics, as they simply just aren’t as effective. Some anti-viral drugs have been developed against small groups or specific strains.

Germs are prevalent everywhere but can easily be transmitted directly from one to another through saliva, sweat, blood, aerosolized in the air, or at high touchpoints in public places. The best way to stop the spread of germs is to wash your hands regularly with warm soap and water, cough, or sneeze into your arm instead of your hand, sanitize your hands when able to, and STAY HOME WHEN YOU ARE SICK. If soap and water are not available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. While times may be becoming more and more uncertain, one thing biologists know is that following those basic rules will help slow the spread of diseases caused by germs.

At SERVPRO of Austin and Albert Lea, we have undergone particular training to handle dangerous microorganisms, blood-born pathogens, and many other situations that may pose risk to a bystander. Your safety, health, and wellness are of utmost importance to us. Don’t risk it by attempting to clean up a situation that warrants professionals. 

Top 5 Spring Cleaning Tips for 2022

4/29/2022 (Permalink)

1. Make a Schedule

Scope out your home: What areas need the most work? Where do you skip during routine cleaning? Those are the best places to start. Regardless of where you start, having a plan will keep you focused on the task at hand. Just go room by room.

2. De-clutter

Studies show that a disorganized home adds to your stress level. It signals to your brain that work isn’t done.

The scientific implications of inhaling dust, combined with the stress of coming back to a cluttered workspace, can take a toll. Since we’re all spending more time at home and in our home offices specifically, keeping a neat workspace is more important than ever.

Set aside some time to:

  • Dust and organize your office
  • Look through that dreaded junk drawer (and desk drawers!)
  • Organize your closets

3. Use a HEPA Vacuum

You can remove more than just dust build-up when you vacuum. A high-quality HEPA vacuum is one of the best spring cleaning supplies to arm yourself with. They catch tiny airborne particles you can’t see but can stir up allergy symptoms. They trap things like pet dander, allergens, and other household particles.

You’ll see a HEPA vacuum suggestion on just about every spring house cleaning list. Miele vacuums are known for their long-lasting designs (7-year warranties!), powerful suction, and sealed filtration systems. They’re ideal options for allergy sufferers.

If you don’t have a HEPA vacuum, look for a vacuum with attachments like dusting brushes, crevice tools, and hoses that can be used to clean more than just your floor. These tools make it simple to clean ceiling fans, cobwebs in corners, pillows, and tight spaces like behind furniture. Be sure to move your furniture too (or at least vacuum under it). Arm yourself with a good HEPA vacuum, and you’ll enjoy a healthy, clean home all of the spring season.

4. Think Green When You Spring Clean

You want to start spring off on a clean note, so don’t expose yourself to chemicals and toxins. A steam cleaner is one of the best green products for spring cleaning. It can be used to clean your microwave, tile, hard floors, kitchen appliances, bathrooms, and even outdoor areas.

Since steam cleaners only use hot water vapor, they’re a 100% natural and chemical-free cleaning solution.

If you don’t have a steam cleaner, one of the best natural combinations for cleaning is white distilled vinegar, baking soda, and water. These ingredients are affordable, non-toxic, and have worked for ages when it comes to cleaning. Learn how to make your own green cleaning solutions in our step-by-step guide.

5. Always Work from Top to Bottom

When you think about how to spring clean your home, it’s important to start from the ceiling down. This will force debris downward and keep you from having to re-dust or re-clean your space. If you have a vacuum with an extension hose, use it to get cobwebs and dust from your ceilings and fans first.

Then dust your furniture and other items before vacuuming all the dust and debris off your floors. It will save you time.

For more tips visit sylvane.com

What to Say When Tragedy Strikes

4/25/2022 (Permalink)

Most of us have a hard time knowing what to say when someone has experienced a great tragedy. As Americans, we aren’t that good at grief, loss, and mourning. On the other hand, we’re really good at hope, optimism, and resilience, and at seeing the “silver lining.” But all too often, our words of comfort, born out of compassion, actually hurt those we are trying to help. So here are some tips from a reluctant expert in loss, for people who are trying to comfort those who are in the midst of tragedy.

1) Don’t say any sentence that starts with the words, “At least…” As in, “At least you’re still alive… At least you have insurance … At least you saved a few things…” No, emphatically no. Believe me, “At least…” is one of the worst things you can hear at a time like this. The person who has had a great loss is trying to understand what they’ve lost, to somehow take in the enormity of the situation. Trying to make them feel grateful in the midst of tragedy is not compassionate. I beg of you if you find yourself saying, “At least…” just stop right there.

2) Don’t say, “It’s just stuff.” Suddenly losing a lifetime of possessions is a devastating experience. You have no idea how hurtful and infuriating it is to have someone who did not lose everything wax philosophical about how great it is to “clear out and start over.” So please do not ever, ever say “It’s just stuff.” I found it much more comforting when people said, “I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine what this must be like for you.”

3) Avoid making it a discussion of faith. In times of great loss, faith is often questioned. Your whole world has just been blown apart, and you may not be so sure about God’s role in any of it. So even if you attend the same church, practice the same faith, or feel like you’re pretty sure of their religious beliefs, try not to go there when you’re comforting someone. It may only make them feel worse about what’s happening.

4) Don’t talk about the “silver lining.” This is a tough one. When you’re in the midst of tragedy, death, or great loss, you really, really do not want someone to take your hand and tell you how you’re going to come out of this stronger, better, etc. It’s important to let that person have their own feelings; don’t tell them how to feel, even unintentionally.

5) Don’t remain silent. Many of us struggle with what to say or worry that we’ll say the wrong thing, so we don’t say anything. This is awkward and unsettling for someone who’s experiencing great loss. You know they know, and you’re waiting for them to say something, and then they don’t, and it makes everything worse. So then what do you say?

6) Say just two things: “I’m so, so sorry. How I can help?” That’s all there is to say – then just BE with them. Hold their hand and cry with them. Bring them food and blankets and gift cards and kleenex and listen, really listen to them when they are telling you just how broken they feel. Just be there.

For more info visit burningdownthehouseblog.com

Growth.

4/20/2022 (Permalink)

Spring is here. Rain and moisture are plentiful, and the colors are coming back to the earth. New growth is upon us. Sounds wonderful, right? Growth is a beautiful thing unless it is mold and in your home. Now, molds are naturally occurring fungal growth that occurs on wet materials. Mold plays an important role in the ecosystem by breaking down dead organic matter in nature. Mold growth requires moisture, food/nutrients, and time. Common construction and building materials are able to easily sustain mold growth in improper conditions. Mold growth indoors is typically caused by water or moisture exposure or inadequate drying of affected materials. Anywhere moisture is present, mold can thrive, making leaky roofs, plumbing problems, and flooding some of the leading causes of excess moisture indoors. How can you tell if your home has a mold issue? Start by following your nose. One of the most noticeable effects of mold can be the smell of mildew. It is not that simple, however. There are many different kinds of molds. Molds come in all shapes sizes colors and varieties. Mold is not always easily detectible, though. It can hide behind wallpaper or paneling, inside drop ceilings, behind walls, in ductwork, and under carpet padding. SERVPRO of Austin and Albert Lea offer mold inspections as well as air sample testing to check for the presence of unwanted mold growth in homes or businesses. If unwanted mold is detected indoors, remediation becomes necessary to correct the problem. Calling SERVPRO to help you identify the presence of mold in your home is the first step. We will take it from there, completing the cleaning and removal of contaminated areas. We are properly armed with the equipment, methodology, and training using guidelines extracted from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the EPA, and the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA). When left unhandled, mold can become dangerous in many ways. Mold can spread rapidly throughout a property causing damage to its structure, its contents, and its inhabitants. Growth is a beautiful thing this time of year, as long as it stays where it belongs and out of our bathrooms, attics, and crawl spaces!

What Happens After you extinguish a Fire

4/18/2022 (Permalink)

Did you know that not all fires are created equal? Different types of fires have different classifications. For example, an electrical fire is handled in a vastly different manner than a kitchen grease fire. These fires are fueled differently, thus producing a distinctive kind of odor. Did you also know that different kinds of fires require different kinds of fire extinguishers? There are wet chemical fire extinguishers, ABC dry powder fire extinguishers, dry special powder fire extinguishers, CO2 gas fire extinguishers, water fire extinguishers, and foam fire extinguishers. Mind-boggling, right? So, say a fire has happened, now what? You have water damage, fire extinguisher mess, heavy oily soot, stinky dirty carpets, and drapes and don’t even know where to begin. How will you ever get it all cleaned up and not smelling like a disaster? The best solution is to call SERVPRO of Austin & Albert Lea. We are experts in cleaning up chemicals left from fire extinguishers, drying out water damage, cleaning your ceilings, walls, and floors, and removing soot, smoke, and fire damages and odors. Our expert technicians are trained to use our commercial-grade cleaning products (which have to be handled, applied, and removed with care) to combat the lingering devastation a fire leaves behind. We work diligently both on the scene and at our shop to bring your salvageable items to preloss condition. We even have a fancy ultrasonic machine that uses high-frequency sound waves transmitted through a liquid solvent to scrub clean the surfaces of your precious belongings. Our team works hard and with heart. We handle your items with care and concern. A fire, despite what kind or what extinguisher was used, is an overwhelming, unfortunate catastrophe, but you don’t have to, and shouldn’t, handle it alone. Soot can be caustic and carcinogenic. It leaves lasting damages if not handled promptly, with the right products, and in the right manner. SERVPRO of Austin and Albert Lea has your back and has the power and know-how to get you on track to life as you remember it. If you don’t know where to begin, a good first step is making a call to us so we can come to assess the damages and begin the time-sensitive process of cleaning and restoring your home back to preloss condition. We are HERO READY, and HERE TO HELP.

What could go wrong?

4/15/2022 (Permalink)

Running a business comes with its adversities. A lot of time, preparation, planning, and organization goes into successfully launching and maintaining a business. One thing businesses seldom prepare for, however, is when things go wrong. What could go wrong? Water damage can come from literally anywhere. Plumbing, sewage systems, HVAC leaks, damaged roofs, storms, and floods are all common causes of water damage in both residential and commercial settings. Water damage, consequently, also comes with fire damage. In addition to cleaning up the mess after the fire itself, you are left with cleaning up the extinguishing agent. Smoke, soot, odor, and structural damages are overwhelming; however, we are here to help. Businesses can be faced with severe weather, crime and trauma scene aftermath cleanup, and even mold infestations.

At SERVPRO of Austin and Albert Lea, we are the number one chosen cleanup and restoration company in the industry. We are prepared to help you every step of the way. We understand business continuity is crucial for survival and want to get your business restored and back up and running in as little time as possible. Storms, water damage, fires, smoke, floods, mold, and other destructive forces can rock operations and bring life as you know it to a complete halt.  When working with your local SERVPRO of Austin and Albert Lea we offer assistance in preparing and responding to emergencies. Not only do we offer 24/7 emergency support for disaster response, but we also work with you proactively to help prevent and prepare for the unexpected by developing an Emergency Ready Profile to develop a plan to help your business bounce back! An Emergency Ready Profile is a free, no-cost assessment of your facility provided by SERVPRO to develop a plan of priority response. This not only helps reduce the overall costs but allows for a faster, smoother cleaning and restoration process, reducing stress and lost revenue. SERVPRO of Austin and Albert Lea are thoroughly equipped to handle any size facility. Working with us to develop an ERP for your facility is the first step on the right track to preparedness, safety, and response in emergency situations.

Two Minutes.

4/13/2022 (Permalink)

Two minutes doesn’t seem like a lot of time. It slips by quickly with little significance on any given day. During a fire, a lot can happen in just two minutes. According to the Red Cross, you may have as little as two minutes to escape if a fire starts in your home. Two minutes doesn’t seem very impactful until your home is on fire, then it can mean life or death. Time is of the essence. Every moment of notice you can get is a better chance of survival. Early warnings make all the difference. Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your property as well as both inside and outside of the bedrooms. Sprinklers and smoke alarms together cut your risk of dying in a home fire by 82% in relation to having neither. Alarms should be tested monthly and be equipped with fresh batteries. Preparation ahead of time can significantly impact your chances of survival. Making a fire escape plan is a great first step. Communicate with all household members about evacuation points and where to meet when you get outside. Once you get out, stay out! Do not go back in for people, pets, or things. Smoke is just as dangerous and destructive as fire and can wreak havoc on the human body. Avoid smoke inhalation, if at all possible, by staying low to the ground and moving quickly to the closest evacuation point. Remember, you have two minutes to get to safety if a fire starts. Practice your fire safety and escape plan and execute fire drills twice a year. Time your fire drills! A lot can happen in two minutes. Make sure you and your family are prepared, have adequate warning devices, and are equipped with the proper knowledge and empowerment to escape safely!

How much does air duct cleaning cost?

4/11/2022 (Permalink)

The question we always get is how much does air duct cleaning cost?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, properly cleaning an entire system in an average-sized home may typically range in cost from $450 to $1,000. However, there are several factors that affect cost and time estimates:

  • the type of ductwork
  • system size
  • system accessibility
  • number of crew members required
  • level of contamination
  • environmental factors

Beware of advertisements that have “whole house specials” for very low prices. Many of them only include only the main ducts and charge extra for the air handler, blower fans, coils, registers, and cutting access. Upon arrival, many of these companies then up-charge to excessive amounts.

SERVPRO of Austin & Albert Lea has NADCA trainered and certified technicians.