I was given a referral yesterday from a fellow Chamber member, for what the homeowner believed to be a water leak in her finished basement drop ceiling. Upon removal of the wet ceiling tiles, it was evident that the drain pipe from the kitchen sink above was leaking.
I asked the customer if she had a plumber, she stated she didn't. I immediately made a call to Andrew Chesney of Southern New Hampshire Plumbing and Heating (SNH). As he happened to be in the area and just finished a call, he was at the residence in less than 10 minutes and made the repair within 20 minutes of arriving.
The homeowner, who was initially distressed to see the leak and the accompanying mold, was shocked and amazed that the response time for SERVPRO to show up and assess the problem, and SNH to come out and repair the leak, all happened within 2 hours of her initial inquiry.
My referral source proved to be a valuable resource to his friend, SERVPRO proved to be a valuable resource to their customer. Knowing who to call when there's an emergency, responding quickly, and providing exceptional service puts you out in front of your competition.
Demo Day Requirements
Asbestos Warning Sign
If you have ever watched an episode of just about any HGTV home renovation show, you know what I'm referring to when I say "Demo Day." In a water loss, demo work is a fairly typical part of drying out a home or business, especially if the water laden sheetrock has been sitting for any period of time.
New state requirements in New Hampshire require you test a sample of the materials you intend to demo for asbestos before performing the demo work, regardless of the age of the home.
Asbestos can be found in a number of building materials such as attic & wall insulation, vinyl floor tiles & tile adhesives, roofing & siding shingles, textured paint & patching compounds, etc...
According to the EPA, "Exposure to asbestos increases your risk of developing lung disease." Three of the major health effects associated with asbestos are:
- Lung Cancer
Symptoms may take many years to develop following exposure. This is a truly a better safe than sorry situation. Better to pay the cost of testing now, than with health issues later in life.
The Building Performance Institute, Inc, has some good information about asbestos in the home. Here's the link: https://www.bpihomeowner.org/blog/things-you-should-know-asbestos-use-still-legal
Signs of Heat Exhaustion
I recently performed a Trauma Clean-up for a suicide victim. In any type of trauma clean-up, PPE gear is not only a requirement, but is critical to protecting you from any harmful pathogens.
From head-to-toe, every part of your body should be covered up and protected. Chemical resistant full body suit w/booties and hood attached, latex or nitrile gloves underneath chemical resistant gloves, and a full face respirator with organic vapor filters are all part of the PPE gear used in a trauma clean-up.
None of this gear is made of breathable material except the respirator filters. Within about 10-15 minutes of performing the service, I was dripping wet, and finding that my breathing was getting heavy. In about 30 minutes time, I needed to take a break and hydrate.
On my way home, I felt exhausted and had a headache. Had I done a better job of staying hydrated, these after effects would have likely been much less of an issue.
Anytime you have a service to perform that requires use of PPE gear such as noted above, be sure to hydrate at regular intervals and take frequent breaks to prevent heat exhaustion and dehydration.
When I moved to TN back in 2009, we had the local internet provider come out and install the cable needed to be connected.
The technician arrived on time, introduced himself, explained what he intended to do, and began work. He started on the outside, running the line from the pole into the home.
He knocked on the door and entered to perform the remainder of the service from the inside. No booties on his shoes, asked to borrow my battery powered drill to drill a hole for the cable to enter the home, didn't connect the junction box with plugs, just screws into the sheetrock, then left the dust and debris from the work on the floor. Oh, and did I mention a greasy hand print on our wall.
While first impressions were good, it went downhill fast from there. Poor training? Inconsiderate of other peoples property? No pride in his work?
Little things mean the most when performing work in or on a residence. Think about any bad experiences you've had and what made them bad. Then think of great experiences you've had and what made them great.
Be and do the great things then reap the rewards of your extra efforts with great reviews, customer advocates and referrals.
The Salvation Army Derry
As someone who has been in the service industry for over 40 years now, I can say with some level of accuracy, that being a part of the community you serve reaps dividends. It's not just about donations or sponsorships, it's also about volunteerism, being a resource, networking to help others and being an advocate for your community and other businesses within your community.
I am a Board Member for three non-profits in my community, but I also help out when and where needed for the other non-profits in our community. Several years back, pre-COVID, I contacted our local Salvation Army and explained to them my position with SERVPRO, Sales/Marketing Manager. Part of my job is to go out in the community and meet business owners and managers, developing relationships along the way.
They weren't quite sure how to connect the dots, but after some brain storming, we came up with an idea to help them stock their food pantry. They had heavy duty grocery bags imprinted with the Salvation Army logo and a list of non-perishables and toiletries most commonly needed. I took these bags and met up with community business owners and managers, and asked if I could have them leave the bag out for their staff to donate, if they chose to. I would then come by a week or two later to pick them up.
Only one business out of 20 declined, the rest were happy to help. The collection total came out to about 30 bags filled with items for the food pantry, and numerous stories of how the Salvation Army helped them or somebody they knew.
Success! A feeling of doing a good thing for a good organization, and recognition by our community for being a good community supporter.
Adding to Your Portfolio of Services
Commercial Window Cleaning
Every SERVPRO franchise offers a number of primary services including water, fire, storm and mold. Each franchise also has the opportunity to offer services beyond the primary services and may be a result of certain expertise they or a staffer may possess, or be the result of needed services within the environment they operate.
An example of this would be providing bed bug prep services. Due to my background and expertise in pest control, bed bug prep services have been added to our profile of service offerings. Making connections with pest control providers and property managers has improved our bottom line and put us in the front of the line against competing vendors that don't offer this service.
Commercial Window Cleaning is another complimentary business line we offer. This came about out of necessity when performing Post Construction Clean services. The investment in equipment was worth the cost. In most cases, no lift required for commercial buildings up to 60' in height. The time it takes to clean the windows at this height has been reduced drastically, all benefitting the customer as it reduces the per window cost dramatically.
Assessing the needs of our community has helped us look and think outside the box for additional service opportunities. Not only has this had the effect of increasing our revenue, but also opening doors that were not open to us before.
Pests: A Biohazard?
The definition of biohazard, at least according to Merriman-Webster, is "a biological agent or condition that is a hazard to humans or the environment also : a hazard posed by such an agent or condition.
Human blood, animal waste, bodily fluids and pathological waste are all sources of biohazards as defined. A number of pests also transmit disease:
- Histoplasmosis: An infection caused by a fungus that derives from bat and bird droppings.
- Salmonellosis: A bacteria that can be transmitted through the fecal matter of cockroaches.
- Plague: A disease that affects humans and animals. Typically transmitted by the bite of a rodent flea that is carrying the bacteria.
- Lyme: A bacterial infection spread through the bite of an infected tick.
Pests spread a number of viruses, bacteria and diseases and can adversely effect our food and water supply. Pest Control is about management of the environment in which these pests live, feed and breed. Keeping these areas clean and constant monitoring is a practical, necessary approach to pest control.
Pesticides and rodenticides help to kill pests, but they are not a total solution. Removing access, removing food and moisture sources and good sanitation practices are the key to a successful pest control program.
While we at SERVPRO are not licensed pest control technicians, we are experts at cleaning, a service that goes hand-in-hand with pest control best practices.
Reader Discretion Advised. This blog is about what happens when an individual has passed away and SERVPRO of Derry/Londonderry is called to handle the aftermath.
As of this writing, 2021 has seen 5 bio-hazard clean-up services due to death that I have been involved with. Three by natural causes, one voluntary, and one involuntary.
Death takes on several forms, naturally, voluntarily, or involuntarily. All three have one thing in common in that when an individual passes, their bodily fluids and gases release from their body. The bodily fluids and gases attract flies, typically Blow Flies. The Blow Flies lay their eggs within a couple of days from date of death, which then hatch, bringing the flies into the larval stage, infesting the body.
Should the individual pass while in the presence of others, or be discovered shortly after death, then the above scenario will not likely have occurred. However, if the individual hasn't been discovered for several plus days, then the above scenario becomes a reality.
When the body is discovered, and if there are circumstances that appear unsavory, or of a self inflicted nature, the Police need to officially clear the scene before clean-up can begin. Once cleared, SERVPRO can go in and clean up the areas affected by the death (ie: carpets removed, bed linens bagged and disposed of, furniture bagged and disposed of, blood cleaned off of furnishings or walls, personal items cleaned and bagged, etc...).
For our part, the initial cleaning is performed to enable the family to go in and collect any personal items without being traumatized. Once the family has retrieved personal effects, SERVPRO will go back in and clean any remaining items or areas that may need additional attention, then we set-up Ozone equipment to neutralize any odors and kill off any remaining pests. Once the odors have been neutralized, at that point, we should be done with the service with the exception of disposal, which is contracted with a company that is Certified and Licensed for Bio-Hazard waste.
This scenario would be a typical process for an individual that resides in some type of rental setting where there is a Property Management company on-site, or directly managed through a landlord.
The cleaning part of the job is certainly difficult, but the harder part is the snapshot you get of a lost life. That can be the saddest thing to deal with. Keeping the family in mind while performing this duty, showing compassion and empathy, understanding the importance of minimizing their trauma is what makes this type of service worthwhile performing. It's never easy, but it has to be done.
I write this at this time of year as many individuals have difficulty dealing with the holidays for a variety of reasons. Be mindful of this, look for the signs of depression and desperation, and offer a kind word or company when you can. If you believe somebody may need immediate help, there are numerous non-profit agencies out there that can provide assistance.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline @ 800.273.8255
Veterans Crisis Line @ 800.273.8255
National Alliance on Mental Illness @ 800.950.6264
Tankless Water Heaters vs Storage Tank Water Heaters
Tankless Water Heater
Tankless Water Heaters are becoming the favored replacement for a failed Storage Tank Water Heater, and for several good reasons. Tankless water heaters provide, on average, about 2-5 gals per minute of hot water, less than most storage tank water heaters. However, storage tank water heaters have a set storage capacity, unlike a tankless water heater.
Tankless water heaters take up much less space and can be easily placed on a wall, providing more overall storage room.
Both tankless and storage tank water heaters should be checked regularly for mineral build-up to prevent scaling, thereby impairing the water heater's function. A tankless water heater has a filter that can be cleaned/changed, providing for much less maintenance than a storage tank water heater that needs to be shut down and drained, possibly moving sediment and mineral build-up around, causing unforeseen issues until a problem occurs.
How does a tankless water heater work? As water travels through the Unit, it is heated by a gas burner or electric heating coil, heating the water instantly.
A typical storage tank water heater for a family of 5 is about 40-50 gallons. If the tank fails, and you aren't home to shut the water supply off, that's 40-50 gallons of water on your floor, not counting the fact that the water is still on, trying to fill the tank as it drains out its contents.
While a tankless water heater doesn't have a storage tank, the supply lines running through the tankless system can still fail, so proper, consistent maintenance is still required to help prevent failures.
While SERVPRO of Derry/Londonderry is not a plumbing service company, we see plenty of storage tank water heater failures and the damage caused by them. Tankless water heaters have their problems, but look to be the way of the future, more efficient, more capacity, albeit at a higher cost, and with a reduced failure rate.
How does a Tankless Water Heater work?
Cold Weather Is On Its Way...
Fall is officially here. Leaf Peepers are headed up to NH for the beautiful colors and the nights are getting colder. The Mt Washington Observatory recognized their first snowfall of the year on the peak this past Wed, Sept 29th. Apple season is in full swing as the NH orchards are now open for apple picking, hot cider and homemade cider donuts. While you are enjoying all NH has to offer this Fall, don’t forget to prepare for the cold that the late Fall and Winter seasons bring along with them. That means draining your outside hoses and putting them in storage, shutting off your outside spigot/faucet valves, inside and out, installing your insulated faucet cover(s), cleaning out your gutters and making sure your gutter protection device is secure and free of debris, and insulating any exposed water supply lines. Don’t know or aren’t sure where your water supply line shut-off valves are? SERVPRO of Derry/Londonderry can label all of your water supply line shut-off’s for you, free of charge. Call Chuck at 856.495.4369 or email chuck@SERVPROderrylondonderry.com to schedule.