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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Archived Blog Posts

The 5 Different Types of Fire Extinguishers

6/21/2022 (Permalink)

Most of us have a pretty unsophisticated grasp of fire extinguishers. We know that they’re red, we know that they’re important, we know that you shouldn’t operate them for no reason (no matter how fun movies make it look), and that’s about it.

Did you know that there are actually five different “classes” of fire extinguishers that specialize in different types of fires? Probably not. Here’s a rundown.

Class A fire extinguishers are effective with ordinary combustibles, like wood, cloth and paper.

Class B fire extinguishers are specialized for use with flammable or combustible liquids. Think greases, tars, oils, alcohol, solvents and even flammable gases.

Class C extinguishers are exclusively for use with energized electrical equipment.

Class D extinguishers are designed for use with combustible metals, including things like sodium and lithium (which is a common material in rechargeable batteries).

Class K extinguishers are more often used in kitchens and are best used with combustible cooking materials (like fats and oils).

Keep in mind that these designations were determined by the NFPA, which is a US-based organization. Other countries have their own classification systems.

More severe rainfall in Western New York?

6/15/2022 (Permalink)

Does it seem like we’re seeing more severe weather in Western New York, especially more severe rainfall?

We’ve certainly been surprised at the amount of severe flooding that we’ve seen in parts of the region that have never flooded before.

We’re not the only ones who have noticed this trend. A recent article penned by Jill Jedlicka, executive director of Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, called out this exact threat.

The article, published in Buffalo Rising, makes the following point about flooding in Western New York:

“Storms are getting more extreme and ‘flashier,’ meaning they have a tendency to rapidly develop and then dump large amounts of precipitation in a short period of time. Many parts of our built environment have not been designed to handle these kinds of storms.”

Our perspective is anecdotal, but we’ve definitely seen the effects of these kinds of “flashy” storms firsthand. They can easily overwhelm drainage systems in homes and businesses, as well as throughout Buffalo at large, leading to all sorts of disasters.

Our suggestion? Make sure your insurance coverage is solid, you keep up with maintenance in your home, and you save our number in your phone: 716-646-6684.

What is St. Elmo's fire?

6/15/2022 (Permalink)

Most people have heard of “St. Elmo’s fire” from one of two sources – they’ve seen the 1985 Rob Lowe vehicle, or they’ve seen the weather phenomenon.

We’re going to focus on the latter.

St. Elmo’s fire is usually spotted as a strangely persistent blue glow, usually during a storm.

The name is a bit misleading – it’s not fire at all. It’s actually closer to an electrical phenomenon.

Usually, it forms around a pointy object like a spire or a chimney. Pilots may also see it when they fly.

St. Elmo’s fire is actually a form of plasma, the fourth state of matter. As the electrical field around the pointy object intensifies, the air molecules surrounding it start to ionize and gain a positive or negative charge.

Storms cause differentials in voltage between the cloud layer and the ground, which is why people see St. Elmo’s fire during storms.

While it may sound a bit scary, St. Elmo’s fire itself is basically harmless – though we wouldn’t recommend standing outside during the storm that’s causing it.

Common causes of commercial fires

6/14/2022 (Permalink)

Most commercial buildings and their managers go through all kinds of mandated fire protection, prevention and preparation every single year in order to keep their tenants safe.

Despite that, fires happen in commercial buildings on a regular basis. There’s simply no way to ensure that a fire will never break out, no matter what you do.

What causes fires in commercial buildings? Usually, the same sorts of things that cause residential fires. We’ll run down the most common.

Cooking

Unsurprisingly, cooking fires are the most common cause of fires in commercial settings as well as residential settings. This isn’t just the case for restaurants – apartments, senior living environments and anywhere else with a kitchen is at risk.

Smoking

It’s 2022, and most buildings do not allow smoking inside or within 25 feet of the structure itself. That said, people do still break the rules. A cigarette that isn’t fully put out might not seem like a big deal, but if that flame finds some fuel, the results can be devastating.

Electrical Equipment

The electrical systems in commercial buildings are under major stress year-round, sometimes 24/7. If there are underlying issues with the wiring, or even improper usage by tenants, electrical fires can be the result.

The graffiti and vandalism cleanup experts

6/14/2022 (Permalink)

While graffiti and street art have now become recognized forms of expression in popular culture, vandalism is still a major problem for home and business owners alike.

Most vandals are not breaking out their spray paint cans to create world-renowned works of art. They’re using your property to make a statement, cause a stir or just to make trouble.

Luckily, SERVPRO has invested in specialized tools, techniques and products to clean up and eliminate graffiti and vandalism so that you don’t have to invest in costly removal and repair.

Our team is capable of cleaning most of the most popular surfaces that might attract graffiti. Exterior walls? Check. Driveways and walkways? No problem. Asphalt? Sure. Masonry? Absolutely.

And if you’ve been the victim of more serious vandalism, such as broken windows, a busted-down storefront or even a vehicle strike, don’t panic – we can help. Call 716-646-6684 24/7/365 for emergency service.

Why get a Master Service Agreement for restoration?

6/14/2022 (Permalink)

We’re not stupid. We know that most people never want to have to think about disaster restoration, and we’ll be the first to admit that the world would be a better place is bad things simply didn’t happen.

But here’s the rub: bad things do happen. If you own or manage a commercial business, then you know that every day is already full of ups and downs and unexpected twists and turns.

Throw in a serious property damage event, like a water intrusion, fire or the discovery of mold, and you’ve got a big problem on your hands.

That’s one of the major reasons that we encourage all commercial businesses to draft up a formal Master Service Agreement with SERVPRO before disaster strikes.

In its simplest form, the MSA is basically a standardization of service. It outlines pricing, timelines and gives you the most direct access possible to get priority response if and when you need it.

There’s no cost for drafting up an MSA except for the time it would take you to describe to us what you’d need from it.

If you’re interested in an MSA for your business, give us a call at 716-646-6684 – we’re here to help.

Why does my commercial HVAC system smell?

6/14/2022 (Permalink)

Does the HVAC system in your building put out a strange odor that you can’t quite put your finger on?

It happens more often than you think, and even if its minor, it can lead to a constant string of complaints from your tenants.

Why does this happen to commercial HVAC systems? There are a handful of reasons.

If your HVAC system has started circulating a rotting smell, then you might have a biological issue on your hands. Animals can easily find themselves trapped inside your ductwork, and if they pass away, that odor will be circulated throughout your entire building.

An odor closer to rotting eggs, however, might be indicative of a gas leak, which is deadly serious. In either case, you should call a professional immediately.

A musty, “mildew” smell, meanwhile, might indicate the presence of moisture or microbial growth. If that’s what you’re getting, then we’d suggest a thorough cleaning of your HVAC system (which our technicians would be more than happy to provide).

Burning rubber or plastic, on the other hand, indicate an electrical issue. You may have an issue with wiring, with the motors inside the system itself, or some other component of your system. You’ll want to contact a qualified HVAC technician immediately if that’s what you’re smelling.

Supporting the Lake Erie Seaway Trail Center

5/24/2022 (Permalink)

According to the United Nations, plastic pollution is the #2 biggest threat to our environment, and while most people are familiar with pollution in the ocean (e.g. the Great Pacific Garbage Patch), they don't realize that the issue is much closer to home.

Lake Erie has one of the highest concentration of microplastics in the entire world. These plastics are too small to be effectively filtered out and cause all sorts of problems for plant, animal and human life on the lake.

How bad is it? Here's a quote from the Lake Erie Foundation: "Ultimately, microplastics are simultaneously increasing our chances of death while decreasing our ability to reproduce." 

Yikes.

Luckily, SERVPRO of The Southtowns and the Lake Erie Seaway Trail Center are here to raise awareness.

What is the Lake Erie Seaway Trail Center?

The Lake Erie Seaway Trail Center is an outpost in Hamburg for the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, which runs 518 miles through New York and Pennsylvania. 

The volunteers here in Western New York devote their time to educating the public and protecting Lake Erie here at home.

Full disclosure: Lyn, who owns our SERVPRO locations, is on the board. 

How is the LESTC helping with plastic pollution? 

Among other initiatives, the LESTC is installing Western New York's newest public art destination: "Red Fish," a custom metal sculpture created by internationally renowned artist Ellen Steinfeld. 

When it's installed later at the Seaway Trail Center this summer, Red Fish will be a bright red, six-foot by six-and-a-half-foot reminder of the importance of protecting our lake and the life within it. 

The sculpture will be surrounded by lidded cages filled with plastic bottles, a constant encouragement to keep the lake clean and avoid single-use plastics.

How can you help?

Individuals and businesses will have a chance to sponsor the sculpture and be remembered as protectors of the Great Lakes for years to come. 

For now, the best thing you can do is share the news: Red Fish is coming to Lake Erie, and it's going to be huge. 

Why get IICRC-certified?

5/15/2022 (Permalink)

Would you trust an attorney that never bothered to take the bar exam? Or a medical specialist that never bothered to pass their medical boards?

Of course not. Everyone knows that these specialized professions keep their standards high by requiring practitioners to acquire well-known, well-respected certifications in order to do their work.

Many people, however, do not realize that restoration work like the work we do at SERVPRO of The Southtowns also has a governing, certifying body: the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, or IICRC.

The IICRC has done a lot for the restoration industry by setting standards of work for a wide variety of service lines, including water restoration, fire restoration and more.

Our technicians are certified by the IICRC in the work that they do and the services that they provide. This ensures that they understand the science of restoration and can make educated decisions to provide the highest level of service possible.

We put a lot of stock in certification and training, and you should, too.

Our Esporta Wash System

5/14/2022 (Permalink)

A fire in your home can be a devastating, traumatic event. If the fire affected your possessions, it can be very difficult to figure out what is salvageable and what is a total loss. In fact, most people assume that their soft goods, including everything from clothing to bedding to stuffed animals, will probably need to be disposed of.

At SERVPRO of The Southtowns, that is rarely the case. With our Esporta wash system, we’re able to clean over 98% of the soft contents and textiles that suffer damage during disasters, including items that have suffered heavy smoke and soot damage.

The Esporta system is much different from your typical washing machine. Instead of cleaning via agitation, it uses a process based on hydraulics that separates items into several chambers within the machine itself.

The wash system makes a huge difference in the lives of our customers, as it allows them to get their lives back to normal faster and keep some of their most cherished possessions.

Commercial Benefits of Priority Response

5/9/2022 (Permalink)

One of the greatest benefits of emergency planning with SERVPRO of The Southtowns is that it enables effective priority response when disaster strikes.

Why is priority response important? There are two major reasons: secondary damage, and business disruption.

Secondary damage is the damage that occurs after the initial disastrous event takes place. For instance, the water that comes out of the burst pipe initially is part of the primary damage. The additional damage that occurs because that water sits for an extended period of time and starts to wick up into building materials is secondary damage.

By responding to the damage event as soon as possible and starting the mitigation process, we limit the amount of secondary damage that occurs, and stop further damage from occurring at all.

Business disruption, on the other hand, is more difficult to measure or define. In general, there’s a cost associated with a business suddenly having to close and not service its customers as planned. For the most part, that cost manifests as lost business, but it can also take the form of lost trust and disappointed customers.

You may never be able to measure the exact cost of business disruption, but with effective priority response, you can limit or even eliminate significant disruption so that you can get back to normal faster.

What's the big deal about animal waste?

2/14/2022 (Permalink)

There is no typical day for a technician at SERVPRO of The Southtowns because of all the different kinds of disasters we deal with.  While most people associate us with fire and water damage, we also provide biohazard cleaning and hazardous material removal.  This can include sewage backups, human blood and even animal waste. 

Recently, since the weather has been pretty cold, we have been dealing with animals in our customers’ attics.  Even after these animals have been evicted, you can have serious problems due to the mess that they left behind. These problems can include buildups of waste, particularly animal feces, which can ruin insulation, cause serious odor problems and pose a risk to your family’s health.

  Most people think that the cleanup effort will be relatively simple. However, animal feces can be dangerous if not handled properly, largely due to the pathogens that it may contain. The CDC even recommends that you “treat feces-soiled decks, patios, and other surfaces with boiling water or a propane torch.”  SERVPRO of The Southtowns takes pride in equipping our technicians with all of the gear they need to be and feel safe on these kinds of jobs. 

On biohazard jobs such as these, a technician will be equipped with a full-body clean suit, gloves, booties to go over their shoes, and of course, full-face respirators.  The one piece of equipment that is particularly important is our full-face respirators.  OSHA defines full-face respirators as “air-purifying respirators that have the potential to provide protection from many types of dusts, fogs, fumes, mists, gases, smokes, sprays, or vapors.”  This means that wearing a full-face respirator during a biohazard cleanup is crucial to maintaining a quality air supply. 

So next time you have a raccoon in your attic, don’t take it lightly.  Cleaning up after a wild animal can be extremely harmful to your health if you aren’t properly equipped.  Call the pros.

Dealing with Ice Dams

2/13/2022 (Permalink)

We have recently been getting quite a bit of snow here in Western New York.  Some people love it. Others can’t wait for it to melt.  The key is being ready for when it does melt.  All this snow building up and melting on your roof can turn into a recipe for disaster.  We aren’t just talking about the danger of icicles falling on you. Today, we’re talking about ice dams.  Ice dams are the result of ice building up near the gutters on a roof which will prevent snowmelt from draining properly and can even cause a significant amount of property damage.  Ice dams are known to tear off gutters, loosen shingles, or even cause water to back up into the home leaving insulation wet and creating a prime target for mold growth.

Driving around the streets of Western New York, it’s easy to see all of the giant icicles forming on almost every single building.  Although they may look beautiful, they are a clear indication that water is melting off of the roof.  When these large icicles form on the gutters, they leave no path for melting snow to travel off the roof.  Once the water is pooled up, it will begin to soak into your roof and find any cracks or entryways that it can to get into your home.  Before this can happen, it’s best to keep your gutters free and clear of ice build-up.  Many people accomplish this by use of a roof rake to take large amounts of snow off of your roof.

If you do suffer water damage from ice damming, there are a few things you should do. If you think it’s worthy of an insurance claim, call your carrier and start that process ASAP. You should also contact a roofer to repair the leak so that no further water can infiltrate your home. After that, call us at SERVPRO of The Southtowns 24/7/365 for water damage mitigation – we’re here to help.

What does "1-4-8" mean?

2/12/2022 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of The Southtowns holds high standards when it comes to serving our community here in Western New York.  We have an emergency team ready 24/7/365 and because of this, we follow the 1-4-8 service response guidelines.  These guidelines are in place to offer our clients a timeline of what to expect when you call us.  Our teams pride themselves on being ready for any disaster.  Here’s what “1-4-8” really means.

One - Within one hour from the notice of loss, our on-call manager will contact you.  We have team members on call 24 hours a day even on weekends and holidays so you can feel confident that we will pick up the phone. 

Four - Within four hours, we will be on-site to start mitigation services (if necessary).  Our team is ready to go within short notice.  We understand that some things need to get dealt with as soon as possible before damage continues. 

Eight - Within eight hours, a verbal briefing of the scope will be communicated to you.  After this time frame, we will have a good idea of the job that needs to get done and a plan on how to do it.  We do our best to create an open channel of communication between the SERVPRO team and the building owner.

The 1-4-8 Service Response Guidelines are our commitment to being there for you.  Whether you are experiencing an emergency due to an ice dam, bursting pipe, sewage backup, or even a collapsing roof, we have a team on call and ready to support you through this devastating time.

We love our community!

2/7/2022 (Permalink)

Lyn and Thom Braun have owned and operated SERVPRO of The Southtowns since 1995 and believe in being an active role in their local community.  Merriam-Webster defines community as a unified body of individuals.  At our company, we take that meaning to heart.  We strive to always be there for our community when we are called upon and make every effort to create a positive impact on those around us and those we serve. 

SERVPRO of The Southtowns means so much more than excellence in cleanup, restoration, and disaster relief. To us, fulfilling our mission means being “here to help” when our community needs us most.  From private homes to government facilities to commercial businesses, we’ve performed coronavirus cleanings for just about everyone.  Mayor Thomas Moses would say that we “stepped up to the plate” when we decided to reach out to every single local first responder and ask “how we can help?”  In all, we ended up sanitizing 536 vehicles at 24 separate police, fire, and EMS agencies out of a love for our community. 

This effort, along with many other initiatives, contributed to a huge achievement last year. In 2021, we won the Buffalo Niagara Business Ethics Association's Crystal Award for ethical business practices.  This was a big deal for everyone around here because it meant that all of our hard work has been recognized.  This award is in place to “honor companies that demonstrate a firm commitment to ethical business practices in daily operations, management philosophies, and responses to crises or challenges.”  Lyn, Thom, and the entire team here at SERVPRO of The Southtowns are proud to contribute toward the betterment of the community.

Announcing: Valentines for Our Troops

1/24/2022 (Permalink)

Soldiers receiving care package of Paula's Donuts from Blue Star Mothers. Soldiers receiving care package of Paula's Donuts from Blue Star Mothers.

“VALENTINES FOR OUR TROOPS” SPREADS LOVE TO SERVICE MEMBERS OVERSEAS

Blue Star Mothers NY7 teams up with local schools, SERVPRO to brighten soldiers’ days

[Hamburg + West Seneca/Lancaster, NY, 1/18/21] Since 2010, BSM NY7 has brought mothers, stepmothers, grandmothers, foster mothers and female legal guardians who have children serving in the military together to support each other and their children.

With “Valentines for Our Troops”, BSM NY7 will continue that tradition with a few new partners – local classrooms, as well as SERVPRO of The Southtowns + SERVPRO of West Seneca/Lancaster.

Children at several local schools will create hand-crafted Valentines addressed to military service members, which will be combined with care package donations from the two SERVPRO franchises and ultimately shipped and delivered by BSM NY7.

“I would like to thank everyone in the community for their support for the men and women serving in the U.S. Military,” said Lisa Blair, president of Blue Star Mothers NY7. “The care packages are greatly appreciated by the troops when they are so far from home, and the Valentine’s Day cards and treats will bring a lot of smiles.”

The majority of classrooms participating are within the West Seneca Central School District, who was enthusiastic to get involved.”

“We are excited and thankful to partner with SERVPRO and Blue Star Mothers,” said Dr. Jonathan Cervoni, Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Operations at West Seneca Central School District. “It’s a great opportunity to recognize and support our veterans and service members.”

For SERVPRO, supporting military service members is a natural outgrowth of their overall mission as an organization.

“We have immense pride in our military, our veterans and our country,” said Lyn Braun, owner of SERVPRO of The Southtowns and SERVPRO of West Seneca/Lancaster. “We’re enthusiastic about any chance that we get to support them.”

Valentines and donations will be collected over the course of January and early February, with a deadline of February 2. Community members who would like to contribute donations can drop them off during regular business hours at SERVPRO of The Southtowns at 97 Evans Street, Hamburg, NY 14057. A list of suggested donations is attached.

For more information, please contact Daniel Bauer at SERVPRO of The Southtowns at 716-646-6684.

What is the Polar Vortex?

12/10/2021 (Permalink)

We’re fewer than two weeks out from the official start of winter, and weather patterns are already starting to get crazy. We’ve had freezes, whiteouts and this weekend we’re somehow spiking up past 60 degrees. Western New York keeps you on your toes!

One weather pattern that you might start hearing about again soon is the dreaded “polar vortex.” While it sounds like something out of a disaster movie, the polar vortex has been around forever and is relatively simple to understand.

Put simply, the “polar vortex” is just a large system of cold, low pressure air. It’s nothing new – it always exists near the poles of the Earth. Occasionally, this vortex expands and mingles with the jet stream, resulting in a migration of cold air to the south.

When this cold air makes its way to the United States, that’s when we start hearing about the polar vortex on the news. Usually, this surge of cold air results in a brief cold snap, which may encourage severe winter weather as well.

In short, don’t sweat the polar vortex. It’s a naturally occurring phenomenon that’s been around forever. Just bundle up and stay warm this winter.

Remember "Snowvember"?

12/10/2021 (Permalink)

Can you believe that “Snowvember” happened over eight years ago?

That makes us feel kind of old, to be honest, especially since that historic snow event is still fresh in our memories.

Back on November 17, 2014, Western New York was walloped by mountains of lake effect snow that overwhelmed even the toughest Buffalonians out there.

While the snow wasn’t exactly a surprise – it’s hard for meteorologists to miss a storm system of that magnitude – it seemed like no one was really prepared for that kind of snowfall.

The actual levels of precipitation varied wildly depending on where you were. Areas of the city got off pretty easy. Up north in Tonawanda, they saw fewer than 8 inches of snow.

But in the core of the storm, the snow just kept coming. West Seneca saw over 50 inches of snow, Orchard Park was forced to move a home Bills game to Detroit, and areas of Wyoming County accumulated more than seven-feet over the course of the storm.

Pretty wild, right? Here’s hoping we have a much more mild winter this year.

What Are "Damaging Winds"?

12/10/2021 (Permalink)

When severe weather strikes Western New York, the news often throws around meteorological terms that you might not realize have very specific meanings.

Take the term “damaging winds,” for instance. As a layman, you’d probably take that phrase to simply mean winds that have the potential to cause damage, right?

In meteorological circles, though, “damaging winds” are a specific type of winds that follow a particular pattern and reach a particular speed.

According to NOAA, damaging winds are “straight-line” winds, distinct from the sort of wind that you might see in a tornado. To be classified as damaging, they must exceed 50 to 60 miles per hour.

More than half of all reports of damage related to severe thunderstorms result from these sorts of damaging winds. They’re much more damaging than tornadoes, especially to structures that are especially vulnerable, like mobile homes.

The next time you hear about “damaging winds” on the news, you’ll know exactly what they’re talking about.

Defining a "Derecho"

12/10/2021 (Permalink)

Up here in Western New York, we don’t hear the term “derecho” too much. But that doesn’t mean that this weather phenomenon can’t affect us.

The word “derecho” is Spanish, and translates to “straight ahead.” A derecho is defined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as a “widespread, long-lived windstorm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms.”

National Geographic defines derechos as “walls of wind made up of several thunderstorms” that “can blow across hundreds of miles in just hours.”

Pretty scary, right? Luckily, we don’t have to deal with derechos too often in Western New York. They’re more common in the central United States. That doesn’t mean they don’t sometimes pass through. In 2012, for instance, a derecho traveled 700 miles from Ohio to the Atlantic coast, tearing up cities and causing 22 deaths.

Hopefully, though, we don’t see another derecho that destructive for a long, long time.

Defining a "Whiteout"

12/10/2021 (Permalink)

Recently, we had a discussion over here at SERVPRO regarding what exactly constituted “whiteout conditions.” Every time there’s a severe winter storm, the news warns drivers of whiteouts, and for good reasons. But is there a difference between poor visibility and a full on whiteout?

The short answer is that there isn’t an exact scientific definition that we could find. The best, most descriptive definition that we found comes from the 1958 book “The Crossing of Antarctica,” which attempted to define whiteout as the following in its glossary:

"A condition of diffuse light when no shadows are cast, due to a continuous white cloud layer appearing to merge with the white snow surface. No surface irregularities of the snow are visible, but a dark object may be clearly seen. There is no visible horizon."

Seems about right to us!

We Won the Buffalo Niagara Business Ethics Award!

12/10/2021 (Permalink)

We're proud to announce that we've won the Buffalo Niagara Business Ethics Association's Crystal Award for ethical practices in business!

Earlier this year, our attorneys over at Rupp, Baase, Pfalzgraf and Cunningham nominated us, and we spent months working on our application with lots of help from our mentor, Dave Knauss at Lehigh Construction. 

Just to be nominated was an honor. To be chosen as finalists was unreal. And to win... that's something else entirely, especially when you consider the company.

This year's other winners were Niagara Metals, LLC and the Erie County Medical Center Corporation. These two incredible organizations have done so much to make Western New York what is is, and we're honored to stand beside them. 

Thank you so much to the Buffalo Niagara Business Ethics Association for everything that you do!

Water and the Conservation of Mass

12/10/2021 (Permalink)

Sorry if this is a recurring nightmare of yours, but we'd like to take you back to middle school science class for a second.

Specifically, we want you to think back to the day that you learned the "law of conservation of mass." 

Don't remember it? Here's the Cliffsnotes: matter cannot be created nor destroyed. Mass is always conserved in any closed system.

Why are we bringing this up in the context of water damage? Because it can be a difficult thing to remember when your house floods.

Consider this example: John has a pipe burst and his kitchen floods with 50 gallons of water. John calls SERVPRO, who comes out the extract the standing water, which totals 30 gallons.

John doesn't see any remaining water, so he assumes that he's all set.

But that remaining 20 gallons of water cannot simply disappear. It had to go somewhere. And barring some kind of magic, it's safe to assume that it's still in John's house somewhere. 

Most likely, that water has migrated into structural materials, like under the floor and into the walls. Some may also have evaporated into the air, causing humidity levels to rise. 

Finding the hidden water and dealing with it is where the real work of water damage restoration begins. Just because you can't see it doesn't mean it isn't there - that's what the law of the conservation of mass teaches us. 

Fire Season is Upon Us

11/8/2021 (Permalink)

We all love the holiday season. There’s nothing better than getting together with family and friends, eating incredible food and taking a few days off for a celebration.

Here at SERVPRO, the months from November through January have a slightly different connotation. That’s because home fires peak in these colder times.

While home fires can certain happen anytime, fall and winter are absolutely the worst times of the year. The reasons for this vary, but the major issue is that there are simply more potential causes of fire when it gets colder out. Furnaces and fireplaces designed to heat your home can malfunction and cause major disasters. Candles, a common holiday decoration, can easily catch draperies on fire if not properly attended.

This holiday season, take time to enjoy yourself. But also remember to stay safe.

This Holiday Season, Burn Candles Responsibly

11/8/2021 (Permalink)

The holiday season comes with many decorations, like Christmas trees and twinkling lights. Many people also like to line their homes with candles, creating a celebratory atmosphere and filling the room with tantalizing scents.

As much as we love candles, they can also pose a risk. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association, over 7,500 home fires were started by candles per year from 2014 – 2018. While many of these fires were minor, some turned into serious blazes, claiming 81 lives, injuring 677 people and causing $278 million in property damage.

These types of fires peak during the holiday season, with an average of 21 home fires caused by candles reported each day. The peak day? Christmas.

Thankfully, using candles safely is not rocket science. The main thing you should remember is to keep your candles at least 12 inches from anything that could possibly catch on fire, and to blow them out when you’re done.

Stay safe this holiday season: burn candles responsibly.

Employee of the Month - Devin

7/1/2021 (Permalink)

Each month, we honor one employee who has gone above and beyond to provide our customers with the highest standard of service.

In February of 2021, that was Devin. Devin has always been one of our top production technicians. He combines expert-level knowledge of disaster restoration with a sunny demeanor and a sharp sense of humor that often makes him a favorite for both customers and his fellow team members.

In February, Devin really stepped it up, knocking a variety of water, fire and carpet cleaning jobs out of the park. Nearly every single customer that he helped, no matter how dire their circumstances were, called our office at the end of the job to tell us how much they’d loved working with Devin.

Thank you, Devin, for being such a rock star! We’re honored to have you on our team and we’re looking forward to working with you for years to come!

Employee of the Month - Taylor, Dan and Chris

7/1/2021 (Permalink)

Usually, when we pick an Employee of the Month, we choose a single employee and highlight them.

In April of 2021, though, that was tough. It’s not that we didn’t have anyone to honor – in fact, it was the opposite problem. We had too many people that deserved to win.

To make matters even harder, everyone we picked turned the honor down, saying modestly that they were just “doing their job.”

In the end, we decided that instead of honoring none of them, we’d honor all of them – the “Three Amigos” of SERVPRO of The Southtowns: Taylor, Dan and Chris.

Taylor earned his spot by volunteering to work several afterhours jobs over the course of the month, even when he wasn’t on-call, in order to make sure that we didn’t have to tell our customers “no.”

Dan, meanwhile, kept our reconstruction team on track during a very busy season with several of his employees out on leave. With him at the helm, we were able to meet our deadlines despite missing an entire crew.

Chris, for his part, kept the whole show running. As our production manager and lead estimator, he is the lifeblood of the company, and he made sure that we were able to scope and perform every single job that came our way, even if it meant working long hours putting together estimates and explaining them, in great detail, to both homeowners and adjusters.

Thank you for everything, guys! We’re proud to have you on our team!

Insurance Does NOT Cover All Water Damage

6/30/2021 (Permalink)

Most people assume that their homeowners insurance policy will automatically cover any water damage that they suffer in their home. After all, isn’t that what it’s for?

Unfortunately, the reality is that not all water damage is the same in the eyes of your insurance carrier. While many water intrusions are covered in full, there are plenty of examples of situations where coverage was insufficient or inapplicable to a major water disaster.

What does homeowners insurance cover?

Most policies cover water damage for which the cause is “sudden and accidental.” These situations often include burst pipes, water heater failures and other incidents that are potentially catastrophic and difficult to predict.

Your policy also likely includes separate coverage for your dwelling and your personal property. Your dwelling coverage includes the structure of your home, while your personal property coverage includes your belongings.

What doesn’t homeowners insurance cover?

Even on covered losses, most policies require the homeowner to pay a deductible out of pocket. They also usually include coverage limits – the insurance carrier is only required to pay out an amount up to the coverage limit to fulfill their end of the policy.

Generally, losses that aren’t “sudden and accidental” are not covered. If it’s determined that the damage was ongoing and could have been prevented with maintenance (e.g. a slowly leaking plumbing fixture), the damage will likely not be covered.

Dealing with the source of the water damage also likely isn’t covered. If your pipe bursts, you’ll probably pay for that out of pocket, while your policy will cover the damage from the water itself.

Water backups, like from a sump pump, often require a special type of coverage called “water back up coverage” to be paid out by an insurance carrier. Floods also aren’t covered by standard homeowners policies. If you think that there’s a chance that you’ll suffer a sump pump backup or a flood, you should call your insurance agent ASAP to inquire about how to insure yourself against this sort of damage.

Keep in mind that this blog post is just a guideline – every insurance situation is different. If you have any questions or concerns, we suggest that you call your agent before a loss happens to make sure that you’re protected. If you wait until after to start asking questions, then it’s already too late.

Don't Use Your Vacuum to Extract Water!

6/30/2021 (Permalink)

We’re not exactly sure where this misconception came from, but we hear it all the time. People seem to think that, when they have a water intrusion in their home, it’s a good idea to break out their regular, residential vacuum cleaner and try to suck up some of the water before we arrive.

Don’t get us wrong: anything that you can do as a homeowner to safely extract water and mitigate damages before a certified restoration technician arrives is incredibly helpful. It’s the best way to minimize primary damage from the water and speed up the drying process. Extraction, after all, is 1,200 times more effective than evaporation when it comes to dealing with water damage.

The key word, however, is safely. Using a regular residential vacuum cleaner to suck up water is just plain unsafe, as well as ineffective.

Think, for a second, about your vacuum cleaner functions. Most modern vacuum cleaners either have bags in which debris collects, or they have reusable plastic compartments which can be emptied once the job is done.

Even if you manage to effectively vacuum up some of the water on the ground, neither of these collection systems is designed for water. They’re not watertight, which means they’re likely to leak some or all of the water that you’ve sucked up.

That leak makes this situation very dangerous. You already should know that water and electricity don’t mix – yet if water leaks into the components of your vacuum cleaner, including the motor, that’s exactly what will happen.

The consequences can vary. Your vacuum may break down and become ineffective. It also stands a chance of electrocuting you. Neither option is very attractive.

So take it from us – don’t use your regular household vacuum on water. If you have a wet-dry vac that is specifically made for collecting water, then you may be able to use that to extract some water.

Past that, we recommend trying to soak up the water with a mop, towels or anything else absorbent. If you can’t soak it all up, you can still set towels down to impede water migration. Some homeowners have saved themselves thousands of dollars simply by setting towels down along the base of their walls so that water could not wick up into the wall chambers.

Again, the key word is safety – don’t do anything that might put you in harm’s way. The best thing you can do is call a professional restoration team like SERVPRO of The Southtowns when you need us – we’re here to help.

Restoring Water Damaged Art

6/29/2021 (Permalink)

People sometimes associate SERVPRO with a big response after water damage. We like to tell people that, if necessary, we can bring in an army of technicians and equipment to restore their home or business to a preloss condition.

But that doesn’t mean that we don’t also pay attention to the details. That goes double when it comes to restoring contents that are special, valuable or sentimental, especially water damaged art.

Can water damaged art be restored?

The restoration of water damaged art depends on many different factors. Where did the water originate? How saturated did the art or the photographs become? What, exactly, got wet? What kind of condition was it in before it got wet? Even in the best situations, restoration is rarely a sure thing.

That said, if restoration is possible, it’s often a much better alternative than simply letting the art dry on its own. Water damaged art can become stained, discolored or wrinkled very easily. If it’s framed, it might fuse to the glass. Mold can also develop, especially on photographs and paintings. Aside from the aesthetic damage, this type of damage can also cause serious health effects. 

How does SERVPRO restore art?

Our restoration team has kept up with the cutting edge of art and document drying technology, combining speed of service with the highest standard of care to help our customers to retain more of their prized possessions after water damage occurs.

For most documents, photographs, and books, we utilize vacuum freeze-drying technology, as well as gamma irradiation technology for sterilization. Combined, these techniques allow us to safely dry most of the items that come our way. These are the same techniques that the LIbrary of Congress utilizes to restore documents in-house. 

When it comes to other types of art, like paintings and sculptures, there are a wide variety of concerns (based on things like material, provenance and damage) that we can’t get into in detail. Suffice to say that we employ the same standard of care and specialization when it comes to restoring these valuable pieces. 

If your art, documents or photographs have become water damaged, don’t hesitate to call at 716-646-6684. We’re here to help. 

Tips to Save Furniture After Water Damage

6/29/2021 (Permalink)

After serious water damage, it’s important to take whatever steps that you can to salvage your structure and contents before a professional restoration team like SERVPRO of The Southtowns can get there. Among other things, furniture is a major concern. Here’s how to salvage as much of your furniture as possible:

Tips to Save Your Furniture After Water Intrusion

While every situation is different, the following tips are good rules of thumb in an emergency.

  • Act fast! When you’re dealing with water damage, it’s a race against time. The longer that your furniture is exposed to water, the more likely it is to be damaged beyond repair.
  • Take lots of photos. Document every aspect of every piece of furniture, including hard-to-see areas like the back and the bottom. You never know what might make the difference to an insurance adjuster.
  • If you can, move furniture to a dry area. If the furniture is too heavy to move, try to put down blocks, pads or foil under the legs to protect the floor. Don’t enter an area if it is unsafe to do so, however - no furniture is worth the risk.
  • Upholstery can be tough, but can often be saved if the source of the water was clean. To the greatest extent possible, separate different fabrics and colors to prevent bleeding.
  • Wood furniture is more resilient and can usually be cleaned - move it to a dry indoor area as soon as possible. If exposed to sunlight, the wood may warp or crack.
  • If doors or drawers have become swollen due to water infiltration, don’t force them open. Wait for them to dry.

Of course, the best advice is to leave the restoration to the professionals. The best thing for most people is to move what they can, block/pad the rest, and call SERVPRO of The Southtowns for help at 716-646-6684.

Electrical Safety After Water Damage

6/28/2021 (Permalink)

After water has infiltrated your home, safety should be your top concern. This goes double when it comes to electricity. Water and electricity don’t mix (or, they mix too well) and after a flood, there are many potential hazards that you should be aware of with your electrical system. 

Electrical Safety Tips After Water Infiltration

As you might have guessed, the biggest risk that you’ll have to protect yourself against is electrical shock. The best way to keep yourself safe is to assume that, if an electrical device gets wet or is covered in standing water, it is compromised and potentially dangerous. Here are a few more tips:

  • If electrical devices are covered in standing water, assume that it is already charged with life-threatening amounts of electrical current.
  • Use your eyes and ears. If you see sparks or hear popping or buzzing noises, do not enter the room.
  • Use your nose as well - the first sign of an electrical fire is often the smell of burning plastic.
  • If electrical equipment has come into contact with water at all, don’t take an unnecessary risk - have a certified electrician clear it before using it.

Even if water damage is not visible and obvious, there’s still a chance that moisture can negatively affect your electrical system, devices and appliances. Often, this damage comes in the form of rust and corrosion that only becomes apparent long after the initial water damage has been mitigated. We recommend speaking to a certified electrician after your incident, especially if the following have been exposed to moisture:

  • Wiring and circuitry;
  • Switches and outlets;
  • Water heaters;
  • HVAC equipment;
  • Major appliances (especially appliances that have motors). 

When it comes to electricity and water, don’t take any risks - work with a professional restoration company and a certified professional to return your home or business to preloss condition.

Top 3 Sources of Post-Winter Storm Damage

6/25/2021 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of The Southtowns is called on to respond to storm damage from all across the country. Sometimes, that means hurricanes. Sometimes, that means wildfires.

In Western New York, that means severe winter storms that cause deep freezes and major damage across the region. 

Often, it’s not the storm itself that causes the most damage. It’s the strain that the conditions of the storm cause on building systems that can be catastrophic. Here are three examples.

Burst Pipes

Water expands when it freezes. In an ice cube, this is no big deal. Inside your pipes, this is a huge deal. If the water inside your pipes freezes, it can cause your pipes to leak, fracture and burst, resulting in serious water damage in your home. 

The best way to avoid a burst pipe is to insulate your pipes and leave your water running slightly when temperatures fall under 20 degrees Fahrenheit. This can often be more difficult than it sounds, especially with outdoor pipes and pipes in unheated areas like basements and garages. Still, it’s worth making the effort - burst pipes are some of the most common calls we get after a winter storm. 

Ice Dams

An ice dam is exactly what it sounds like - a dam that forms on the edge of your roof as snow melts and refreezes. Normally, the runoff from a snow melt will drain into your gutters and away from your home, but if it refreezes unevenly, damming can occur. 

Damming itself may not cause immediate damage, but it can cause water to back up under your shingles and into your home. The dam itself may even become heavy enough to tear off gutters and parts of your roof. 

If you see an ice dam start to form, you should not wait to address it. You may be able to use a roof rake to deal with it yourself, but if it’s a serious dam, or if you can’t access it safely, you should call a roofer.

Collapsing Roofs

If your roof is older or poorly maintained, you’re at significant risk of suffering serious damage during and after a winter storm. The weight of the snow and the ice can cause your roof to bow and collapse, and the constant thawing and freezing of water can cause shingles to crack and your roof to leak. 

Again, the best solution is maintenance. Keep your roof in good condition and try to mitigate the risks that come with heavy snowfall, and you should be okay. If your issues are greater than you can handle on your own, call a roofer. 

There's a Hole in Your Roof - What's Next?

6/25/2021 (Permalink)

Recently, we sat down with our friend Andrea Duke from Liberty Mutual to discuss an eye-catching roof disaster that we encountered in the field. You can check out that video here: https://youtu.be/aGRXvoVtPb4

Here’s a transcript:

Dan: So the other day, I went to an individual's home to give them an estimate on what I thought was going to be water damage.

When I stepped into this fellow's living room, we sat down to talk over what was going to happen next.

I noticed that there was a tree branch hanging down in the middle of the living room about 12 inches from my face. A tree had fallen on his roof and he had really no idea how to fix it, so much so that he just let it sit there for a while.

This is a big red flag for me. We've seen a lot of storm damage in the past few years in Buffalo. We've seen a lot of high winds. I've seen this happen to a lot of people where they are just absolutely flummoxed by what to do next.

I'm Dan from SERVPRO. It's good to see you all!

I'm here with Andrea Duke from Liberty Mutual. Andrea, you're speaking from an insurance perspective. You deal with this stuff. What should people do when something chaotic and catastrophic happens to them?

Andrea: The first thing to do, especially if there's a windstorm and something's happened to your roof, we'll use that as an example.

The first thing you should do is mitigate damage. As a homeowner, it's your responsibility to protect your property. So the first step would be to mitigate any further damage from happening if you can, and if you can do so safely.

The next step would really be to contact a contractor, have them come out and take care of it, especially if it's something that you can't do right away. While they're there, they can give you an estimate. With that estimate, it gives you an idea of how much damage you have to your roof.

D: That's something that we see all the time, especially near the lake, where a lot of this wind damage happens. After there's a big storm, we are out there tarping roofs, boarding up windows, and just writing things up for people so that they can start that process of putting the pieces back together.

Say they do get those estimates, they do have those numbers, they do have that scope of work, how do they decide what to do next?

A: What they would do is probably pull out their homeowner’s policy. They're going to want to take a look at their homeowner's policy and see what their deductible is going to be. Some people carry very high deductibles and some people carry very low deductibles.

Based on whatever the estimate is telling them, that's going to help them make the decision on whether or not they want to file a claim with the insurance company. Ten they can make that decision.

It's helpful to have the estimate when you call your claims department as well.

D: This is a very confusing thing for people in the best of times, and when you have a hole in your roof and it's raining inside, it’s extra confusing. You’ve got a lot on your plate.

If you don't know what to do, call your agent. They're there to help you, or I would I think it's safe to assume you could call Andrea. Andrea, you'd be willing to talk to these people?

A: Absolutely, give me a call if there's anything that I can help with.

D: Definitely, you do not have to deal with this alone. I would imagine for most people this is the first time they've ever had a tree fall through the roof and hopefully it's the last. It's okay to ask for help. There's a lot of people out there who want to help you. Anything else, Andrea?

A: No, not as far as that goes. Hopefully, nobody will have that issue. But I think that we are going to be giving them a lot of nice tips so that they will know what to do in the event that something like this happens.

D: For sure. Everybody stay safe out there!

I'm Dan from SERVPRO! Andrea, who are you again?

A: I'm Andrea with Liberty Mutual in the Buffalo office.

Will There Be More Storms on Hoover Beach This Year?

6/25/2021 (Permalink)

Will Western New York see more severe storms this year off of Lake Erie, especially on Hoover Beach? 

While we don’t have a crystal ball and we can’t see the future, it seems likely that the wind storms will keep on coming. 

Over the past few years, especially during October and November, we’ve seen particularly violent storms come in over the lake. These storms have been characterized less by severe rain and flooding and more by high winds, sometimes more than 60 miles per hour.

While these aren’t quite hurricane-force winds, they’re still pretty nasty to deal with.

For homeowners on Hoover Beach, these winds can be especially damaging. Many homes in the area are built relatively close to the shoreline, without much between them and the raging waters of Lake Erie.

So when the winds howl, debris flies and sheets of ice come flying off of the lake, the damage can be absolutely catastrophic.

As disaster restoration specialists, we see much of this damage firsthand. Homeowners from all over the coast of Lake Erie trust SERVPRO to help them to get their lives back to normal after storm damage strikes.

Our team of certified technicians is able to respond quickly to start the mitigation process, stopping damage in its tracks. From extracting water to drying your structure to clearing debris and even rebuilding your home, we’re here to help, 24/7/365. Call 716-646-6684 when you need us.

How Common is Arson?

6/25/2021 (Permalink)

Arson is a serious problem here in the United States. While most of us will never have to deal with the consequences of arson, those of us that do are burdened not only with a disaster, but the knowledge that it was purposefully created.

How common is arson, though? We’ll dive into the statistics, straight from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program.

What is arson?

The FBI defines arson as “any willful or malicious burning or attempting to burn, with or without intent to defraud, a dwelling house, public building, motor vehicle or aircraft, personal property of another, etc.”

In other words, arson means someone set a fire on purpose to destroy property. They might have done this in order to get insurance money, or in the heat of passion, or just to see something burn. As long as it’s “willful or malicious,” it’s arson.

What do we know about arson?

The FBI gathered statistics on arson in 2019. Here’s what they found:

  • There were about 33,395 arsons in the United States in 2019 – just over 90 per day on average.
  • 42 percent of those arsons were structural, meaning someone attempted to burn down a home, business, storage unit or other building.
  • 6 percent of arsons targeted mobile property.
  • 35 percent of arsons targeted other sorts of property, e.g. crops, timber and fences, that would not be considered to be mobile.
  • The average arson caused $16,371 in damages.
  • The most expensive arsons, on average, were in industrial structures or manufacturing plants, where the average dollar loss was $190,336.
  • Arson was slightly down year-over-year, decreasing by 4.9 percent.
  • There are 10.9 arsons for every 100,000 people living in the United States.

Frankly, these statistics surprised us. We knew arsons happened, but they were much more common than we realized.

If you’re interested in diving deeper into the statistics, you can check them out here: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2019/crime-in-the-u.s.-2019/topic-pages/arson

Water and Fire Damage Go Together

6/25/2021 (Permalink)

Do you know the saying that “where there’s smoke, there’s fire?”

It’s accurate, but not comprehensive. The fact of that matter is that when there’s fire, there’s a whole lot of other types of damage, especially water damage.

Water Damage After a Fire

How do you put out a fire?

There are multiple answers to this question, but most commonly, the answer is lots and lots and lots of water.

If your fire prevention system goes off, then it will release enough water in an area localized around the fire to put the fire out. Unlike what you see in movies, not all of your sprinklers will go off – just the ones that need to.

If the fire department responds and has to break out the hoses, it might be a different story. Fire hoses put out huge amounts of water at extremely high pressures designed to battle even the fiercest blazes out there.

They’re excellent for putting out fires. But they also leave a ton of water behind.

The fire department is often very skilled at mitigating this water damage on their own, especially in large multi-level commercial buildings. They may even send in a team just to direct the flow of water to the least damaging areas once the fire has been put out.

This is the point where people often call in SERVPRO. They’re sometimes surprised, when we show up on site, that our first priority is not cleaning up after the fire. Instead, we focus on dealing with the water damage.

That’s because, unlike the extinguished fire, water has the potential to cause additional damage if it is not dealt with immediately. It can soak into your structure, wick into your floors and cause all sorts of problems, including the outbreak of mold.

So the first thing we do at a fire is often extraction. Once we get the water out and start to dry the structure, then we can focus on cleaning up after the fire and purifying the air.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. But if all goes well, there’s water, too.

The Four Types of Smoke After Your Fire

6/25/2021 (Permalink)

Not all smoke is created equal. When it comes to smoke damage, there can be a huge amount of difference depending on how the fire originated and what was burned. There are four common types of smoke damage that we see on a daily basis – here’s a rundown.

“Wet” Smoke

The hallmark of wet smoke is its unpleasant smell. If you’ve ever smelled burning rubber or plastic, then you know what we mean.

Wet smoke is produced by a low, smoldering heat. Visually, the plumes are thick and black, and the soot that they produce is greasy.

Wet smoke is very, very difficult to clean on your own due to the greasiness. If you have wet smoke damage, give us a call.

“Protein” Smoke

By “protein,” we basically just mean organic material. If you have a kitchen fire and your roast turkey goes up in smoke, it’s probably producing protein smoke.

Protein smoke can be tricky. Unlike wet smoke, protein smoke is mostly invisible and does not produce obvious stains or smears on your walls.

That’s not to say that you won’t know it’s there. Protein smoke can cause your paint to become discolored, but more than that, it produces a pervasive, pungent stink that can be difficult to get rid of on your own.

Fuel Smoke

This one’s a no-brainer – fuel smoke is produced by burning fuel, like petroleum or oil. We rarely encounter fuel smoke damage outside of a garage or industrial setting, which is lucky – you do not want fuel smoke damage in your home. It smells terrible, produces thick, sticky residues and will ruin most fabrics immediately.

If you have a fuel smoke problem, call the pros.

“Dry” Smoke

You’ve most likely seen dry smoke before. It’s the type of smoke produced by paper or wood, which create a high-heat, powdery smoke when burned.

The powdery nature of dry smoke makes it the simplest to clean, with the least pungent odor. Unfortunately, it also makes it the most insidious. Dry smoke is capable of finding and squeezing into the tiniest, narrowest spaces in your home. It can take an expert to truly find and clean it all.

No matter what kind of smoke damage that you’re dealing with, we can help. Call 716-646-6684 today.

What is the Disaster Recovery Team?

6/24/2021 (Permalink)

At SERVPRO of The Southtowns, we’re more than just our full-time team. With one phone call, we can bring an army of green to a large commercial disaster.

Don’t get us wrong – our on-site team of technicians is the largest in Western New York and more than capable of handling everything from a massive sewage backup to a 100-unit high-rise fire.

But when serious catastrophes strike, we call in the Disaster Recovery Team.

What is the Disaster Recovery Team?

Our Disaster Recovery Team, also known as our Commercial Large Loss Division, is made of the absolute best restoration professionals, sourced from all over the United States.

These DRT operations managers have been mobilized for nearly every headline-grabbing major disaster that has occurred in the last two decades. They were integral in the response to Hurricane Katrina. They helped businesses to recover after the California wildfires. And if a significant natural disaster were to strike Western New York, they’d be here, too.

When would a property manager need a Commercial Large Loss team?

While it’s extremely unlikely to happen, imagine a catastrophic hurricane hit Buffalo. Nearly every single building within the city limits would suffer some form of property damage, water intrusion and a host of other problems that come from a natural disaster.

Every single restoration company in the area would be totally slammed with calls. They’d be running wait lists a mile long. They wouldn’t have the capacity to service even 10% of the need.

With our Commercial Large Loss Division, we’ve solved that problem. We’re able to draw on enough personnel, enough equipment and enough expertise to service our community as fast as humanly possible, mitigating damage and helping Western New York to get back to normal faster.

That’s why we suggest saving our number in your cell phone – 716-646-6684. You might not need us today, and you might not need us tomorrow, but when you do, we’ll be there.

We're Proud Members of BOMA!

6/24/2021 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of The Southtowns is a proud member of the Greater Buffalo Chapter of the Building Owners and Managers Association. If you’re a commercial property manager, or someone who services commercial property managers, and you’re not a member of BOMA, we’ll tell you exactly why you need to stop by a meeting.

What is BOMA?

BOMA is a non-profit organization dedicated to representing commercial real estate owners, professionals and service providers across the globe. As an international organization, BOMA has unprecedented reach and access that it uses for advocacy, influence and education.

What does BOMA do for its members?

BOMA describes its mission with the acronym “NEAR.”

The “N” stands for “networking.” One of BOMA’s primary roles is to help members to develop mutually beneficial relationships with each other. There are tons of opportunities to network, including monthly meetings that often pair lunches with exclusive building tours.

The “E” stands for “education.” BOMA offers tons of professional development opportunities for both property professionals and their vendors.

The “A” stands for “advocacy.” Our local BOMA chapter advocates for the commercial property industry on the local, regional, state and even national level, helping to educate elected officials about issues that have huge impacts on the future of Buffalo.

The “R” stands for Research. BOMA gathers data on the local and regional level and provides it to the membership, along with analysis that makes it easy to understand and act on.

If you’re interested in joining BOMA of Greater Buffalo, you can learn more here: https://bomabuffalo.com

Limiting Tenant Complaints for Property Managers

6/24/2021 (Permalink)

As a commercial property manager, you probably have days where you love your building, love your tenants, and love your job.

You probably also have days where it seems like every single tenant has a complaint they want to lodge with you, where you just want to hide in your office and never come out.

We get it – property management is a hard job. No two days are the same, and you’re put in a position where you have to balance the needs and wants of your tenants against the needs of the building owner and your boss. It can be very stressful!

At SERVPRO of The Southtowns, we’re your partner in limiting tenant disruption and complaints when disaster strikes. One of the keys to that effort: our 1-4-8 Response Guarantee.

What is the 1-4-8 Response Guarantee?

Our 1-4-8 Response Guarantee is our promise to our customers that we’ll be there fast to give them the service they need and stop their disaster in its tracks.

Within 1 hour, even if it’s 3am on Christmas, we’ll return any emergency phone call to discuss your needs and come up with a plan of action.

Within 4 hours, we’ll have a full crew of technicians on-site to provide emergency mitigation.

Within 8 hours, you’ll have a verbal scope of work from a manager telling you what needs to happen to get your space back to preloss condition.

Why is this guarantee so valuable for property managers? Because it provides you with a quick, effective and very visible means of addressing your tenants’ needs and limiting disruption to their businesses. If a disaster happens in the middle of the night, it might even be totally addressed by the time that your commercial tenants arrive in the morning to open up.

If you need service at your commercial property, give us a ring – 716-646-6684.

Will Hoover Beach Suffer More Storm Damage in 2021?

6/24/2021 (Permalink)

Will Western New York see more severe storms this year off of Lake Erie, especially on Hoover Beach? 

While we don’t have a crystal ball and we can’t see the future, it seems likely that the wind storms will keep on coming. 

Over the past few years, especially during October and November, we’ve seen particularly violent storms come in over the lake. These storms have been characterized less by severe rain and flooding and more by high winds, sometimes more than 60 miles per hour.

While these aren’t quite hurricane-force winds, they’re still pretty nasty to deal with.

For homeowners on Hoover Beach, these winds can be especially damaging. Many homes in the area are built relatively close to the shoreline, without much between them and the raging waters of Lake Erie.

So when the winds howl, debris flies and sheets of ice come flying off of the lake, the damage can be absolutely catastrophic.

As disaster restoration specialists, we see much of this damage firsthand. Homeowners from all over the coast of Lake Erie trust SERVPRO to help them to get their lives back to normal after storm damage strikes. 

Our team of certified technicians is able to respond quickly to start the mitigation process, stopping damage in its tracks. From extracting water to drying your structure to clearing debris and even rebuilding your home, we’re here to help, 24/7/365. Call 716-646-6684 when you need us.

What is a KnoxBox?

6/23/2021 (Permalink)

Flame on a black background. With a KnoxBox, you can save the fire department crucial minutes in their response.

If you’re a commercial property manager, then you’ve probably heard the term “KnoxBox” before. You may even already have one on your property. But do you know exactly what a KnoxBox is, what one is used for, and what should be inside?

What is a KnoxBox?

A KnoxBox is basically a small safe that you keep on your property, in an obvious location near major access points, that contains keys, keycards, fobs and anything else that the fire department may need in order to access your building in case of emergency.

Why use a KnoxBox?

When a fire breaks out on your property, a quick response from the fire department can be the difference between a controllable incident and a total disaster.

By placing a KnoxBox on your property, you enable the fire department to get into your building quickly, no matter if you’re on-site or not. Without this means of entry, they would otherwise have to force their way in by breaking down doors, windows or other access points. This forcible entry causes additional property damage and wastes crucial minutes as the fire is spreading.

What should be inside a KnoxBox?

We’ve already mentioned that the KnoxBox should contain whatever means the fire department requires to access all areas of your building. This might include a master key, as well as clearly marked access cards, fobs, gate keys and more.

Some property managers go the extra mile and include helpful resources for the fire department, like USB drives containing floor plans. As the property manager, you know your building best, and you should be able to easily generate a list of resources that might be helpful based on your structure and your tenants.

We should note that Knox is a brand and that similar types of safes do exist. Usually, the local fire district will designate a type of box that properties within the district can use, enabling them to use the same master key on every call.

Our technicians are IICRC-certified!

5/11/2021 (Permalink)

The IICRC logo The IICRC sets the standard for the restoration industry.

Here at SERVPRO of The Southtowns, each of our production technicians goes through rigorous training and certification to ensure that they understand the science of restoration.

Most of these certifications are offered through the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification, or IICRC. The IICRC sets the industry standard for restoration, and we’re proud to say that we adhere strictly to that standard.

While many of our team members hold multiple certifications through the IICRC, pretty much everybody holds their Water Damage Restoration Technician certification. But what does that mean, and how does it benefit home and business owners? Let’s explore.

Water Damage Restoration Technician (WRT)

The IICRC’s Water Damage Restoration Technician (WRT) certification requires three days and 19 total hours of classroom work to achieve, as well as passing grades on a rigorous exam at the end of the course.

The WRT teaches not just the work that goes along with drying, but the science behind it. Technicians who get their WRT learn more about the core concept of water damage and how it can affect people’s contents and structures, as well as the most effective and up-to-date techniques out there for drying. From clean water losses to sewer backflows to post-damage contamination like mold, WRT-certified technicians are introduced to a wide array of different concepts.

The WRT is also one of the first steps an individual must take towards becoming a certified Master Water Restorer. That’s why we ensure that our technicians achieve the WRT or higher – it’s a fantastic foundation for quality work, as well as a rewarding restoration career.

Mayor Thomas Moses: SERVPRO "Stepped Up to the Plate" With COVID-19 Response

5/10/2021 (Permalink)

Mayor Thomas Moses and Dan Bauer from SERVPRO on a Zoom call. Thank you, Mayor Moses!

When COVID-19 lockdowns first started going into effect in New York State, many people found themselves working from home more or less overnight.

Quarantining at home, however, was never an option for our first responders. While many of us were able to hunker down at our houses, our first responders still had a duty to go out into the community and keep us safe.

At SERVPRO of The Southtowns, we felt an obligation to do our part, give back, and keep our first responders safe as well. So we volunteered our time to disinfect every police station, fire department and EMS agency that would have us, including the agencies right here in the Village of Hamburg.

Months later, we interviewed the village’s mayor, Thomas Moses, about his leadership throughout the pandemic. He was kind enough to remember our work with the first responder agencies and thank us. Here’s what he said:

“I want to thank SERVPRO for stepping up to the plate in the beginning stages. It was two or three days after we got underway [with implementing COVID-19 regulations] and you called us and said ‘can we do anything for you in regards to disinfecting?’

We said ‘yes, we would appreciate that.’ You stepped up to our plate, took care of the Village of Hamburg Fire Department. We have 10 or 11 pieces of equipment, you came in, you sanitized all of that, and all the trucks. Our police department, you did all the cars. To this day, now, we disinfect after every call.”

On behalf of SERVPRO of The Southtowns: thank you, Mayor Moses, for your leadership and your kind words! We’re happy that we could help in a trying and confusing time.

View the video here.

5 Common Causes of Fires (and How to Prevent Them)

4/14/2021 (Permalink)

A man in a gray shirt and blonde wig pretending to smoke a pen in an empty apartment. Smoking is one of the leading causes of fires in the US.

Hundreds of thousands of fires each year destroy homes, cause harm and disrupt people's lives. Most of them are preventable.

We gathered data on the top 5 causes of preventable fires, as well as how to prevent them, and put them into a fun video to educate property managers in Western New York. We even broke out the wigs for it.

You can check it out here.

Transcript:

I'm here in an apartment and we're going to look at some of the features that are designed for fire protection. It's important to remember that fires are preventable and that the best solution is prevention.

We have fire sprinklers and we have the devices that notify us when those sprinklers are activated.

Let's take a look at some of the common causes.

Cooking Fires

Cooking is the number one cause of preventable home fires and you can see our friend here making huge mistakes left and right. Kind of a dummy.

You should not cook when you're tired, if it's the middle of the night. If you just got home from a late night, be careful.

You should also not cook while you're drinking, especially if you've been drinking more than one or two glasses of wine, because your attention is going to be split to say the least.

In the event of a grease fire, your first instinct is going to be to get some water to put the fire out. Do not do this - you may just cause grease to splatter and you may cause the fire to spread.

Instead of that, cover the fire with a pan. Starved of oxygen, it will go out on its own. You can also use baking soda in some occasions.

That said, if that fire becomes too much to handle or if you start to get worried for your own safety, just get out and call 9-1-1 from outside the apartment, from a neighbor's house, whatever you have to do.

Heating Fires

Of course, in the winter, you need to keep your home warm, especially in Buffalo. But heating elements like fireplaces or space heaters can be major causes of residential and commercial fires.

You should keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from that heating source. You should also turn the heater off when you're leaving the room or if you're going to sleep. I know everybody likes to go to bed toasty, but it's not safe.

Electrical Fires

Electrical fires are also all too common, but they can be avoided with a bit of common sense.

You should only plug in one heat-producing appliance at a time. For major appliances like refrigerators, plug those directly into outlets - don't use extension cords or power strips. Finally, use light bulbs with the right number of watts. Those watts are listed on the sticker on the side in most cases

Smoking Fires

Smoking is less common than it used to be, but it's still a major cause of preventable fires. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association, over 17,000 home fires per year were caused by smoking.

Store cigarettes and lighters high up or in locked cabinets so children cannot access them.

Put out your cigarette in a deep sturdy ash tray when you're done. Make sure it's away from anything that could burn.

Candle Fires

Candles can be a major cause of home fires, causing over 7,000 fires per year, especially over the holidays. You should ensure that candles are at least one foot away from anything that could possibly burn. Finally, blow your candles out before you leave the room or go to bed. Everybody likes a bit of ambiance, but it's not safe.

It's important to remember that fires are preventable so long as you know the risks. Still, it's important to be prepared for the worst case scenario, so let's take a look at developing an emergency response plan.

We're Proud to Work with Chubb Insurance

4/14/2021 (Permalink)

Logo for Chubb Insurance We're proud to work with all of our insurance partners!

Here at SERVPRO of The Southtowns, we’re happy to work with your insurance carrier and adjuster, no matter who holds your policy.

That said, we do maintain special relationships with a select group of companies that believe deeply in the value of restoration, mitigation and reconstruction. One of our favorite partners is Chubb Insurance.

How does SERVPRO of The Southtowns work with Chubb Insurance?

On a national level, SERVPRO has a detailed agreement in place with Chubb that covers fire, smoke, water damage, mold remediation, contents cleaning and reconstruction services for both their residential and commercial clients.

The details of this agreement are highly technical and specific to the type of work we do, so we won’t go into specifics. Basically, it lays out a strict standard of work and communication that we must follow every single time that we work with one of Chubb’s insureds.

This standard covers everything from responding to the very first phone call to maintaining an open line of communication with the insurance adjuster to providing the highest level of mitigation work possible.

How does this relationship benefit the insured?

The entire reason that we have this agreement in place is because it makes things easier for the insured in a difficult time. If you’ve ever suffered a disaster at your home or business, then you know how difficult and confusing it can sometimes be to get the help you need. The agreement with Chubb lays the process out in black and white, limiting delays, miscommunication and any other obstacles that might get in the way of making your loss “Like it never even happened.”

Are you a Chubb insured that needs help? Call us 24/7/365 at 716-646-6684 – we’re here to help all over Western New York.

VIDEO: Emergency Planning With SERVPRO

4/12/2021 (Permalink)

Dan from SERVPRO standing in a hallway with a padfolio. Need an emergency plan? Call today!

An effective emergency plan is the key to recovering from a disaster. But what does one look like? We put this video together to explain.

Watch here.

Transcript:

Many disasters can be prevented, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't plan in case something does happen.

In this section, we're going to talk about Emergency Ready Planning.

Emergency Ready Planning helps you to make a lot of decisions before anything happens so that if their disaster does occur, you're going to be ready to react quickly and intelligently and save yourself a ton of time, money and headaches.

Storing and Accessing Your Emergency Plan

First things first: you have to figure out how you're actually going to store your plan.

For most people, it makes sense to have many printed copies of their plan available throughout their property. You can put them in nice, conspicuous places like this fancy little SERVPRO padfolio.

Or, and I recommend this, you can also store them online. Digital copies, especially on the cloud, can be accessed by anyone anywhere. So if you or your facilities manager, or your wife, or your best friend, or whoever is on vacation in Aruba they're still going to be able to get the information they need to respond in case of fire, water or really any kind of disaster.

Basics of Emergency Planning

The first thing that you'll collect for your emergency ready plan is the basics. Who is the main contact? The main stakeholder at your building? Are there several? What's their contact information? What's the address? Take some pictures of the exterior as well and give first responders details on how they should access the building and where they should park.

Vital Details of Your Building

After that, it's important to collect some other details about how a first responder might have to go about their job. What year was the building built and last renovated? Who are the tenants? What's the square footage? How many floors are there? Is there a generator? Are there blueprints? Things like that, anything you would want a firefighter, police officer, paramedic or emergency responder to be aware of.

It's important to note all building access points, especially in case some are blocked by the disaster. You should also detail how that access is controlled. Is there a key, a fob, a code? Who has access to those?

You should also detail all stairwells and elevators. This is helpful for both emergency egress and for loading in any equipment that first responders might need.

Locating Your Utility Shutoffs

It's also important to note the locations of all of your utilities and their shutoffs. First, note your electricity shutoffs and breaker panel locations. These could be useful, especially if using high draw equipment in emergency response.

Knowing how to operate your sprinkler systems is a huge plus in case of emergency. On the very slight chance these systems operate accidentally, you're going to need to shut them off quickly. More likely, they're going to operate in case of emergency and knowing how to shut these off, and shut them off selectively, is very important to preventing any further water damage than what's needed to extinguish the fire.

You should also note the location and shutoffs for various alarm systems. Documenting how and where to access this not only allows you to turn these systems off and on, but it makes it easy for necessary parties to access them during and after an emergency.

You should also know where your modems, servers and any other it equipment is located in your building.

Documenting Your Chain of Command

Last, but certainly not least, you should write down all emergency contacts as well as the chain of command that you'll need to follow in case of emergency. Who's allowed to make decisions? Who should be contacted if an emergency takes place? Which vendors do you trust to call in? Documenting everything from your preferred plumber to your insurance carrier is vital. We're not going to go through everyone here, but we can send you a copy of that list.

Next Steps

We covered the basics of emergency ready planning, but it's important for you to know that every plan should be customized for what you, your employees, the janitor you hired last Tuesday, whoever needs to know in case of an emergency. Don't be afraid to get a little creative with it.

If you need a hand getting started, call SERVPRO of The Southtowns. We do these every day and we'll be happy to help you out, show you examples, whatever.

Now we're going to talk about fire prevention. If a fire actually happens, what happens next? How do the systems in your building react to keep you safe? ABJ Fire Protection is going to go into a little bit more detail about that

VIDEO: What is Fire Damage Restoration?

4/9/2021 (Permalink)

Dan from SERVPRO standing in front of a fleet of green trucks. We're not just in the restoration business - we're in the hero business.

Most of the time, when people call SERVPRO of The Southtowns after a fire, its their first time dealing with a true catastrophe in their home. They know that they need fire damage restoration - they just aren't quite sure what the means.

We recorded this video to explain the fire damage cleanup, repair and reconstruction process with a little bit of humor.  

You can check it out here.

Transcript:

The Fire Damage Restoration Process

Here at SERVPRO, we help people on what's basically the worst day of their lives. Maybe they had a fire, maybe a water main broke, whatever. It's not good. So I like to say we're not really in the restoration business, we're in the hero business. And I want to show you exactly what I mean by that.

We’re Available 24/7/365

Disasters happen when you least expect them. That's why we have dedicated dispatch personnel here to answer your phone calls 24/7/365, just like my friend Blaze here.

On top of that, we also have something called the 1-4-8 Response Guarantee. That means that within 1 hour of your call, even if it's 3 A.M. on Christmas, you're going to get a call back from our on-call staff scheduling a time to get out to you.

If it's an emergency, within 4 hours, they will be on-site to provide emergency mitigation services and stop the damage in its tracks.

Within 8 hours, you're going to have a scope of work that both you and, if necessary, your insurance provider will be able to go over so that you know exactly what you're dealing with. It's just one way that we make any disaster "Like it never even happened."

Emergency Mitigation After a Fire

The first step of any SERVPRO job is mitigation. How can you stop any further damage from occurring?

That's why it really pays off to have an IICRC-certified experienced technician like our friend Stormy here on-site during your loss. They can really assess what can be restored, what needs to be replaced and everything in between. How you doing, Stormy? Great job.

Drying After a Fire Has Been Extinguished

After the mitigation process has taken place, the next step is usually drying everything out and eliminating any more moisture in the structure. This is really important - any lingering moisture can cause structural damage as well as biohazards, including mold.

Our buddy Blaze here is getting ready to load 100 of these air movers onto our vehicles for a large commercial fire - hope you ate your Wheaties this morning, bud!

Structure Cleaning After a Fire

After the drying process starts, then it's time to start cleaning the structure itself. SERVPRO uses over 100 proprietary products along with specialized techniques to make your structure like your fire loss never even happened. Don't forget your Fire Star, Stormy!

Textile and Soft Contents Cleaning After a Fire

Even textiles that have been exposed to some really nasty fires can be cleaned nowadays thanks to our very new, very cool Esporta industrial-grade washing system. This system, independent studies have shown, can clean up to 90% of the soft contents that previously used to have to be disposed of, even if they've been exposed to fire, smoke, soot, water, even bio-contaminants. Not only can it clean them, but it can get them up to food-grade safe. How about that? Think you can throw in my mask there, buddy?

Deodorization – How Do You Eliminate the Smell of Smoke?

One of the most vital things that SERVPRO does to make your loss "Like it never even happened." - we get rid of the smoke smell. Deodorization is one of the most important services that we provide. We have all sorts of specialized techniques and tools, like this o-zone generator, to make it happen. Hey Stormy, let's make the world smell good again, right?

Reconstruction After a Fire

After the restoration process ends, then it's time to rebuild. That's why we here at SERVPRO of The Southtowns have our very own, full-time reconstruction team. Get out there and start building a better tomorrow, Blaze!

Your Restoration Heroes

I hope walking through the warehouse here with you gives you a little bit of a better understanding of what we do here at SERVPRO of The Southtowns every single day. The restoration process - it's got a lot of moving parts, but what you really need to remember is: we're not in the restoration business, we're in the hero business, and we're here for you, to make it "Like it never even happened."

VIDEO: The Anatomy of a Commercial Sprinkler System

4/7/2021 (Permalink)

A man in a blue shirt standing in front of a commercial sprinkler system. John Sprandel from ABJ Fire Protection dives deep into how a fire protection system operates.

We partnered with ABJ Fire Protection's John Sprandel on a series of fire safety videos aimed at educating Western New York's commercial property professionals.

In this video, John dives deep into the anatomy of a commercial sprinkler system, including how to operate it in case of emergency. 

You can view the video here.

Transcript:

Your Commercial Sprinkler System

So we're in the basement of the facility where the water service enters.

Now the water service provides water to the domestic facilities -  your toilets, your showers, your sinks, your water fountains.

It also separates to provide water for your fire protection system.

How Sprinkler Systems Discharge

Now, your fire protection system is piped throughout the building to individual sprinkler heads located in all areas of the building. These sprinklers are individually activated, through a frangible bulb in this particular case. That's designed to discharge when the temperature reaches 155 degrees so not all the sprinklers go off at the same time, only the ones that are exposed to that particular temperature. So, contrary to popular belief or the movies, only one sprinkler head is usually what it takes to put out a fire.

Backflow Prevention

Now, where we have the water service entering, we have a device that's called a backflow preventer. The back flow preventer prevents any contaminants from entering into the public water supply. The fire department or the fire sprinkler system also has a double check backflow preventer.

Why is it important to know those features in your facilities? You have to distinguish “where is the water coming from?” Is it from the domestic service or is it from the fire sprinklers?

Fire Alarms and Sprinkler Systems

The fire sprinkler system has a device installed on it called a flow switch. This is a water flow switch that activates within 60 seconds when water is discharging from one of these sprinkler heads. So not only does the fire department know within 60 seconds that a fire has occurred, but there's also water discharging and then the tenants throughout the facility will also know when the alarms go off that it's time to leave.

The difference between the fire system and a domestic water system is if there is to be a failure of the piping (say it would freeze and break), there's really no way to indicate that that water is flowing. So it's important to know what one of these valves you have to close in order to mitigate that water damage.

One of the things that we can work with you on is identifying, what particular case, what particular valve. We could do that with each individual facility.

Testing and Maintaining Sprinkler Systems

So how do we test this fire sprinkler system? We don't discharge water inside the building. What we do is we install a valve that simulates the water flow through one sprinkler head to ensure that that will activate the alarm system. We install a valve, we test it and then it flows for 40 to 60 seconds. Then it activates an alarm on the fire alarm panel and it will send a signal to the fire department, who will be notified and respond.

The audio visual devices throughout the building will also be going off so you know that it's time to evacuate.

The water service also provides water to the domestic services - your sinks, your showers, your water fountains, your toilet fixtures. What we have is a control valve. We have a bypass. That bypass will allow us to work on the meter. Then we have a meter that monitors how much water is used or consumed and then we have a backflow preventer with separate control valves.

The control valves on each side allow us to do any maintenance or repairs on that particular backflow preventer. On a domestic service, this backflow preventer is a little bit different than the one on the fire service. This one is a little bit more protective of the water supply. It's actually called a reduced pressure zone, or an RPZ backflow preventer.

The Difference Between Fire and Domestic Water Supplies

One of the differences between a fire service water supply and a domestic service water supply is that the device that's installed on the fire system, or a flow switch, will indicate that there's water flow within 60 seconds. If something were to occur on a domestic water service, there's no activation of any alarm or any device that would indicate that there's water flowing.

If for some reason the heaters failed and the pipe froze and it broke you may not see that particular situation until someone sees water flowing out of a door or they look down in the basement and see two or three inches of water on the floor.

It's important that these systems and these devices are properly maintained on a regular basis. Backflows need to be inspected and checked once a year.

So those are the type of services that my company provides and we'd be happy to help if there's ever any need for repairs.

Emergency Pre-Planning

In summary, one of the things that I want you to make sure you take away from this is that when an event occurs it may become confusing to remember which valve you need to close. So it's important to establish that pre-plan and that's what Dan (from SERVPRO of The Southtowns) and myself are here for. It's by taking those steps that we can help mitigate damage control and loss when an event occurs

Plan, Prevent, Protect: Fire Safety Basics with SERVPRO of The Southtowns & ABJ Fire Protection

4/2/2021 (Permalink)

Dan from SERVPRO with a Blaze cardboard cutout giving the thumbs up in front of the reconstruction team. Let's build a better tomorrow together!

At SERVPRO of The Southtowns, we help people on the worst days of their lives - immediately after catastrophic fires.

However, most fires don't need to be as bad, or as damaging, as they end up being. Believe or not, we'd much rather see someone prevent a fire, or prevent a fire from causing serious damage, than see another unnecessary disaster take place.

Our local chapter of the Building Owners and Managers Association, BOMA Buffalo, recently approached us about spreading this message of safety and prevention to commercial property managers, and we jumped at the chance. 

We partnered with ABJ Fire Protection and TM Montante to put together a video that's entertaining, informative and covers everything from cooking fires to commercial sprinkler systems to emergency planning. 

Check it out here.

Julia Spitz, Savarino Properties: SERVPRO of The Southtowns is "Easy to Deal With" for Property Managers

4/1/2021 (Permalink)

A woman in a beanie with the subtitle "is easy to deal with and makes my life easier." Thanks Julia! We do our best!

Julia Spitz, the executive vice president over at Savarino Properties in downtown Buffalo, NY, did us a huge favor – she sat down with us and told us the truth.

We let the camera roll and we asked her to be honest. Why does she continue to use SERVPRO of The Southtowns? How do we contribute to what she does as a commercial property professional?

Among other things, she told us that she appreciates just how “easy to deal with” we are.

Check out her testimonial here. Would you rather read it? Here’s the transcript:

I like working with SERVPRO because everyone I've ever come in contact with within the company is easy to deal with and makes my life easier, not harder. When you're really busy and you're running around all the time, the last thing you need is someone who's going to make your life harder. Nice, friendly people who are going to take your call and respond quickly and make your life better are exactly what I need in my day, which is part of the reason why we just keep going back to SERVPRO.

How SERVPRO of The Southtowns Addresses Long-Term Water Damage + Mold Concerns

3/15/2021 (Permalink)

A woman in a beanie with the subtitle "situation but also the proactive prevention work that you guys." Proactive beats reactive every day! Thanks Julia!

Julia Spitz, the executive vice president over at Savarino Properties in downtown Buffalo, NY, was kind enough to sit down with us to talk about what she appreciates most about working with SERVPRO of The Southtowns.

Among other things, she mentioned our long-term focus. Not only do we help out during the emergency, but the mitigation, restoration and reconstruction service we offer ensure that no unexpected problems will pop up down the road.

Check out her testimonial here. Would you rather read it? Here’s the transcript:

In this building, actually, part of the building is under grade and we have our fitness center there and a couple other parts of the building. Early on, when we first moved into the building, the first time we were really deluged with rain we learned that that rain poured right into the parts of the building that were under grade and again this time we knew to call SERVPRO.

We panicked and we called SERVPRO right away and you guys responded immediately and you brought in equipment to suck up the water and then you also brought in equipment to dry it out to make sure no mold formed.

So it's not just the emergency response that was helpful for us in that situation but also the proactive prevention work that you guys did to make sure that we don't have any problems in the future.

What Sets SERVPRO of The Southtowns Apart From Other Restoration Companies?

3/8/2021 (Permalink)

A woman in a beanie with the subtitle "the thing I value the most is the peace of mind I'm given." Thanks Julia! Peace of mind is the name of the game!

Julia Spitz, the executive vice president over at Savarino Properties in downtown Buffalo, NY, has had to call SERVPRO of The Southtowns on more than one occasion.

Disasters are never fun, but we’re glad we’ve been able to help her time and time again. She sat down with us to explain why she keeps coming back.

Check out her testimonial here. Would you rather read it? Here’s the transcript:

When I call SERVPRO, I value lots of things. But I think the thing I value the most is the peace of mind I’m given. I know that my team won't have to deal with matters that maybe they're not trained to deal with, toxic situations. I'm also given peace of mind that our tenants won't have to interact with a toxic matter. It'll be cleaned up professionally and properly by people who know what they're doing.

SERVPRO of The Southtowns to the Rescue After a Commercial Sewage Backup!

3/2/2021 (Permalink)

A woman in a beanie with the subtitle "and the smell of sewage was overwhelming." We're glad we were able to help, Julia!

Julia Spitz, the executive vice president over at Savarino Properties in downtown Buffalo, NY, recently sat down with us to talk about the first time she called SERVPRO – a raw sewage backup in one of her commercial properties that her own team wasn’t equipped to handle.

Check out her testimonial here. Would you rather read it? Here’s the transcript:

The first time I ever called SERVPRO was early in my career. I entered one of our buildings one day and the smell of sewage was overwhelming. It was very clear after about a minute of inspection that it was coming from a small basement under the building and to be honest, I didn't know what to do.

We knew how to call a plumber and solve the problem. We didn't know who was going to clean that up.

I didn't feel confident asking my own staff to deal with such sensitive material as sewage. We didn't, I didn't feel we had the safety measures in place and I Googled. I didn't know what else to do. SERVPRO came up and the very same day, I mean maybe hours later, they showed up they started cleaning it up.

Men were wearing full hazmat gear and these giant boots and by the end of the day it smelled clean and I have never been more grateful.

Ice Dams: a Quick Primer

2/23/2021 (Permalink)

Flowchart showing what to do if you have an ice dam. Follow this flowchart if you're dealing with an ice dam!

What is an ice dam? It's pretty straightforward: ice buildup on the eaves of a sloped roof that prevents snowmelt from draining properly.

Why are they bad? Ice dams:

  • Can tear off gutters and loosen shingles.
  • Can cause water to back up into structure.
  • Can make insulation wet, making it a prime target for mold and mildew.

Bad news, right? If you have an ice dam, here's what we suggest.

What should I do if...

...I have an ice dam? If possible, remove it before snow starts to melt. If you don't have the tools (e.g. a roof rake) or the experience, call in a roofer - they'll be able to sort it out.

 ...water has already backed up into the house? Call your insurance office to get a claim started, then call a roofer to fix the damage. The leak must be stopped before the drying process starts in order for it to be effective. Then call in a mitigation company like SERVPRO to begin the drying process.

 ...there's already serious damage to my home or possessions? Same as above, but also talk to SERVPRO about reconstruction and contents cleaning. More than that, be careful - don't put yourself at risk with a sagging or compromised ceiling.

When you call SERVPRO of The Southtowns about your ice dam, we might ask the following.

Have you filed a claim? It's best if homeowners get their insurance involved ASAP.

What type of ceilings do you have? All popcorn ceilings require testing before we can open them up, though we can pick up fallen debris without testing.

 When was your home built? Pre-1974, we're legally required to test for asbestos and lead. Pre-1978, just lead.

Can we access the attic? If we can, we can often remove wet insulation without needing to open up ceilings. Especially helpful if we'd otherwise need to get lead/asbestos testing.

Need help fast? Call 716-646-6684. We're available 24/7/365.

Why Julia Spitz of Savarino Properties Uses SERVPRO of The Southtowns

2/19/2021 (Permalink)

A woman in a beanie with the subtitle "every emergency you can think of actually does happen." Thanks so much for talking to us, Julia!

Julia Spitz, the executive vice president over at Savarino Properties in downtown Buffalo, NY, is one of our favorite customers.

Well, all of our customers are our favorite customers. But you get the point.

Julia was kind enough to sit down with us to talk about how she learned about SERVPRO of The Southtowns and why she keeps calling us back, time and time again. She even explains why SERVPRO is worth the sometimes sizable price tag.

Thanks so much, Julia! You’re the best!

Check out her testimonial here. Would you rather read it? Here’s the transcript:

Intro

Every emergency you can think of actually does happen!

I work at Savarino Properties and I'm their executive vice president. My name is Julia Spitz. I am in charge of overall operations of our property management team and I also am responsible for day-to-day management of several of the properties in our portfolio.

Our properties are a variety. Most of our properties are located in the city of Buffalo. We have charter schools, mixed-use office buildings like the one we're in right now, multi-family residential buildings and retail or commercial buildings.

The First Time She Called SERVPRO

The first time I ever called SERVPRO was early in my career. I entered one of our buildings one day and the smell of sewage was overwhelming. It was very clear after about a minute of inspection that it was coming from a small basement under the building and to be honest, I didn't know what to do.

We knew how to call a plumber and solve the problem. We didn't know who was going to clean that up.

I didn't feel confident asking my own staff to deal with such sensitive material as sewage. We didn't, I didn't feel we had the safety measures in place and I Googled. I didn't know what else to do. SERVPRO came up and the very same day, I mean maybe hours later, they showed up they started cleaning it up.

Men were wearing full hazmat gear and these giant boots and by the end of the day it smelled clean and I have never been more grateful.

What She Values in SERVPRO

When I call SERVPRO, I value lots of things. But I think the thing I value the most is the peace of mind I’m given. I know that my team won't have to deal with matters that maybe they're not trained to deal with, toxic situations. I'm also given peace of mind that our tenants won't have to interact with a toxic matter. It'll be cleaned up professionally and properly by people who know what they're doing.

How SERVPRO Prevents Long-Term Mold & Water Issues

In this building, actually, part of the building is under grade and we have our fitness center there and a couple other parts of the building. Early on, when we first moved into the building, the first time we were really deluged with rain we learned that that rain poured right into the parts of the building that were under grade and again this time we knew to call SERVPRO.

We panicked and we called SERVPRO right away and you guys responded immediately and you brought in equipment to suck up the water and then you also brought in equipment to dry it out to make sure no mold formed.

So it's not just the emergency response that was helpful for us in that situation but also the proactive prevention work that you guys did to make sure that we don't have any problems in the future.

Is SERVPRO worth the money?

The first time I got a SERVPRO estimate, it was a lot, but to be quite honest, the first time I was dealing with SERVPRO it was a raw sewage situation so I was very happy for someone to come and do that work and I think you can't put a price on that kind of work.

When I've been dealing with other situations that don't seem as toxic, like a flood, it's harder, honestly, to swallow the big price tag. But once you see the outcome, you understand why it costs so much. You see the equipment involved, you see how many people are involved, you see the long-term benefit of it. So I think the first time might be hard but time after time it gets easier because you see the outcome.

Why She Likes Working with SERVPRO

I like working with SERVPRO because everyone I've ever come in contact with within the company is easy to deal with and makes my life easier, not harder. When you're really busy and you're running around all the time, the last thing you need is someone who's going to make your life harder. Nice, friendly people who are going to take your call and respond quickly and make your life better are exactly what I need in my day, which is part of the reason why we just keep going back to SERVPRO.

Is SERVPRO Worth It? Why Can Restoration Cost So Much?

2/19/2021 (Permalink)

A woman in a beanie with the subtitle "the first time I got a SERVPRO estimate, it was a lot." A lot, but worth it!

Julia Spitz, the executive vice president over at Savarino Properties in downtown Buffalo, NY, sat down with us to answer the million-dollar question, no pun intended: is SERVPRO of The Southtowns worth it? Why can restoration cost so much?

She admits that the first time she saw one of our estimates, she had a little sticker shock. But once she saw the work and expertise that goes into each job, she realized pretty quickly that it was worth it after all.

Check out her testimonial here. Would you rather read it? Here’s the transcript:

The first time I got a SERVPRO estimate, it was a lot, but to be quite honest, the first time I was dealing with SERVPRO it was a raw sewage situation so I was very happy for someone to come and do that work and I think you can't put a price on that kind of work.

When I've been dealing with other situations that don't seem as toxic, like a flood, it's harder, honestly, to swallow the big price tag. But once you see the outcome, you understand why it costs so much. You see the equipment involved, you see how many people are involved, you see the long-term benefit of it. So I think the first time might be hard but time after time it gets easier because you see the outcome.

Water Damage Mitigation vs. Restoration | Process, Costs & Timelines

12/13/2020 (Permalink)

Brown and white house in flood, with car almost completely submerged. They're definitely going to need some restoration.

After a flood, a burst pipe, a leaking dishwasher, or any kind of water emergency, what do you need: water damage mitigation, or water damage restoration?

Often, you need both. We’ve been helping home and business owners all over Western New York recover from water damage for over 25 years from our home base here in Hamburg, and we’re proud to say we do it all (including reconstruction!). 

So what’s the difference between mitigation and restoration? We’ll tell you.

Water Mitigation Versus Water Damage Restoration

Both mitigation and restoration share the goal of reducing the damage that your structure and contents suffer from water. The basic idea is that, if water damage can be dealt with quickly and effectively, much of your structure and contents can be saved instead of replaced. This helps to limit the disruption to your life that water damage can cause, as well as save you (and your insurance carrier) money in the long run. 

Usually, the first thing we do when we arrive at a loss is water damage mitigation. This process is designed to prevent any further water damage from occurring. As part of our 1-4-8 Response Guarantee, we’ll be on-site within four hours of your initial call to begin the mitigation process - and usually much sooner. 

Mitigation activities vary depending on the location, severity and type of water loss. Often, mitigation means extracting water, removing materials that cannot be salvaged, and drying materials that can be saved. This can often mean that some level of demolition has to occur, as in flood cutting walls to remove insulation and dry out wall cavities. This sort of work is necessary to prevent long-lasting damage to the structure, as well as mold growth.

Restoration, on the other hand, is the process of repairing, rebuilding and reconstructing after the mitigation process has ended. Restoration work can be even more varied than mitigation work, as it is entirely dependent on the type and scope of damage. If demolition was necessary, then restoration might include reconstruction. If water has sat for too long at the structure, some level of mold remediation might be necessary as well. It all depends on the emergency. 

Restoration usually begins once mitigation has ended. There’s no sense in trying to restore a structure that’s still actively being damaged by water, after all. 

At SERVPRO of The Southtowns, we do it all - mitigation, restoration, reconstruction and more. As full-service water damage professionals, we make the process simple and straightforward for our customers.

Scope of Water Damage Mitigation Work

It’s difficult to list out every single mitigation service we provide, as they’re so context-driven. However, we can go over some common themes to give you an idea of the scope of what we do.

Often, our first priority is protecting a structure from the elements so no more water gets in. If the roof has been damaged, we might tarp it up. If windows have been broken, we’ll have to board them up. There’s no point in starting mitigation if more water will get in before the process is complete. 

Next, we’ll focus on detecting and eliminating moisture. Our powerful truck-mounted extractors can remove water from carpets and floors very quickly, avoiding serious damage from letting the water sit. Moisture meters can be used to detect water within the walls of a structure, helping us to figure out the best way to dry a building. Commercial-grade drying equipment like dehumidifiers, air scrubbers and air movers can then be placed to dry the structure - hopefully, with a minimal amount of demolition.

Finally, our team will clean and disinfect the loss site. This might entail clearing debris, like tree branches and shingles. It also often entails disinfecting and applying antimicrobial agents to inhibit the growth of mold.

Scope of Water Damage Restoration Work

The goal of restoration is just that - to restore a loss site to the condition it was in before the water emergency (or in some cases, even better condition). 

Imagine if hardwood flooring was severely damaged by standing water. It’s warped and soaked, so the mitigation team pulled it out to dry the structure and remediate mold growth. The restoration team might lay down new floors once they confirm the structure is truly dry. They’ll also replace any cut or demolished walls, repair the roof and reinstall any fixtures that might have been removed. Whatever needs to happen, our restoration team can handle it.

How long do mitigation and restoration take?

Water damage mitigation and restoration are emergency services, so the faster they can safely be completed, the better. The length of time that they take, however, depends entirely on the scope of the damage.

Our 1-4-8 Response Guarantee is designed to kick this process off as quickly and effectively as possible. It breaks down like this:

  • Within one hour, our on-call manager will return your call - even if you called at 3am.
  • Within four hours, we’ll be on-site to begin emergency services.
  • Within eight hours, we’ll provide you with a verbal briefing on the scope of work. 

In that eight hour period, it’s likely that we’ll focus entirely on the mitigation side of things. Restoration can take much longer depending on the damage. An unfinished basement with stone floors is much easier to restore than a finished basement with carpets, contents and greater potential for mold growth. 

If you have water damage, your best bet is to call SERVPRO of The Southtowns ASAP to get the mitigation process started. The quicker you start, the better chance you have of keeping the process short and getting your life back to normal faster. 

How much does water damage mitigation and restoration cost?

Unfortunately, we can’t really answer this question - it’s like asking “how long is a piece of string?” It depends on the situation. We can, however, talk about some of the factors that affect cost.

Take, for instance, the type of water. Water damage from a clean source is inexpensive to restore compared to “black” water from a contaminated source, and more material will likely have to be replaced. 

The amount of water, obviously, is also a major factor. A little bit of leakage from your dishwasher is nothing compared to a flood blowing through your window straight from Lake Erie. 

The amount of time the water dwells can have a huge effect on cost as well. Water does more damage over time, but more than that, it can also lead to the development of mold if left unattended. 

If you’re concerned about cost, our advice to you is this: call both SERVPRO and your insurance carrier as quickly as you can. The sooner we can get started, the more contained your costs will be. The sooner you kick the claims process off, the sooner you’ll find out the extent of your coverage. 

If you’d like, we can also provide an estimate on water damage mitigation and restoration before we get started. The danger with estimates, however, is that if you wait too long to start the process, the damage will become more severe and the entire job will become more costly.

That said, if you have water damage and you’re worried about cost, call us at 716-646-6684 to talk through your options and get a sense of what the process might entail. We’ll do our best to put your mind at ease. 

Glossary of Winter Storm Terms

12/3/2020 (Permalink)

Focused picture of a single snowflake, close up. Just like snowflakes, no two winter storms are the same.

It’s winter in Western New York. It’s been a mild winter so far, but it’s winter all the same. 

When you turn on the news and hear the meteorologist talking about the different kinds of winter weather we can expect, do you know what it all means? We’ll break it down for you. 

Glossary of Winter Storm Terms

  • Winter Storm: life-threatening. Combines heavy snow with wind capable of blowing that snow around, plus dangerously low wind chills. 
  • Blizzards: dangerous variant of winter storms that have especially strong winds that result in low visibility. Can also pick up snow that has fallen to create a “ground blizzard.” Winds must be over 35mph and visibility must be ¼ mile or less for at least 3 hours to qualify as a blizzard.
  • Ice Storm: a storm which also leads to at least .25” of ice accumulating on exposed surfaces. Walking and driving may be dangerous due to these conditions, and tree branches and powerlines may also be at risk of snapping under the weigh to the ice. 
  • Lake Effect Storms: the result of cold, dry air masses moving over the Great Lakes and picking up moisture. That air then dumps that water as snow south and east of the lakes.
  • Snow Squalls: brief but intense snow showers with gusty winds.
  • Snow Flurries: light snow for a short duration, with little to no accumulation expected.
  • Snow Showers: snowfall for a brief period of time at varying intensity, with some accumulation expected.
  • Sleet: when snowflakes melt partially as they fall through pockets of warmer air, this leads to sleet. Usually, the melted snow refreezes on its way to the ground, resulting in precipitation that is partially or fully frozen and may bounce on impact.
  • Freezing Rain: when snowflakes melt completely as they fall due to falling through warmer layers of air. This water does not refreeze even as it passes through freezing air on its way to the ground, but it does become “supercooled” and will instantly refreeze when it comes into contact with anything at or below a freezing temperature. This phenomenon can lead to significant accumulation of ice on the ground, on roads, and on other objects. If enough ice accumulates, freezing rain can be upgraded to an ice storm.

Suffer damage after a winter storm? We can help. Call 716-646-6684.

Hail Damage in Hamburg? We Can Help.

12/3/2020 (Permalink)

Hail stones melting on a rocky beach. Hail comes in all shapes and sizes.

Hail storms are rare enough here in Western New York that they can be kind of a novelty. Hop on Instagram after it starts hailing and you’re sure to find plenty of videos filmed through the window of people marveling at the ice falling from the sky. 

Of course, if your home or property is damaged by hail, it becomes no laughing matter. SERVPRO of The Southtowns is here to help you to make hail damage “Like it never even happened,” including if hail damages your roof. If you’re worried about this kind of storm damage, read on.

What Leads to Hail Damage?

Obviously, hail leads to hail damage, but there are a variety of other factors that can affect how serious that damage is. 

Wind direction and wind speed determine where hail falls, and how hard it falls. The size and density of those hailstones is also important, and that’s determined by the temperature and weather conditions. 

Different building materials are more susceptible to hail damage than others. Aluminum siding might get dinged or dented by hair, but vinyl siding and wood shakes can crack. Large hailstones can even puncture roof shingles, especially in older roofs. Natural barriers, like trees, landscaping, fences and even nearby homes can help to shield you from damage as well.

How Can You Tell If Your Roof Has Hail Damage?

Different shingles will react differently. With asphalt or composition shingles, damage may appear to be random. Roof felt may be exposed and asphalt may appear to be shiny. Areas of impact may also be soft to the touch.

With wooden shingles, you’re looking for splits in the shingles. Splits may be brown or orange in color, with sharp corners and edges, or with little to no deterioration at all. 

All of that said, it can be difficult to determine if the damage on your roof is actually from hail, or if it's just normal wear and tear. Exposure to weather and sunlight over time will naturally age shingles and make them brittle. Blistering, cracking, loss of granules, flaking and the development of algae are also par for the course. 

Still, if you think hail has damaged your home, it pays to contact your insurance agent and discuss putting in a claim. And if the damage is significant enough that you need a tarp up to prevent further damage from the weather, call SERVPRO of The Southtowns at 716-646-6684 - we’re here to help.

COVID-19 Disinfecting for Manufacturers in WNY

12/3/2020 (Permalink)

COVID-19 molecule illustration, sphere with red spores. We're here to help.

At SERVPRO of The Southtowns, we provide the gold standard of COVID-19/coronavirus disinfecting for a wide variety of customers, from homeowners to private businesses to government facilities. 

Manufacturers, warehouses and industrial businesses in particular have called on our services often, for a few reasons.

  1. They want to be sure that they’re getting the absolute best for their employees;
  2. They need emergency service overnight, because they know exactly how much it costs to shut down their facility for a day;
  3. They value a partner who can explain the disinfection process to them in detail.

More than once over the course of this lockdown, we’ve had manufacturers call us in the late afternoon, asking if we can come in that night to clean spaces that are over 15,000 square feet. Every single time, we’ve mobilized our technicians, got on the scene and disinfected these facilities so that our customers and their employees could get back to work without any disruption to their business.

We’re proud of our ability to act this quickly and disinfect at such a high standard. Why? Because when the coronavirus lockdowns first started here in Western New York, so many businesses had to shut down seemingly overnight without knowing when they would be able to reopen and get back to work. Now that things have reopened, we know how vital it is for businesses to stay open, stay profitable, and take care of their employees.

If you need COVID-19 disinfecting, or you just want to discuss your options, call 716-646-6684 - we’re here to help.

Storm Damage on Hoover Beach? We’ll Be There.

12/2/2020 (Permalink)

Over the past year and a half, we’ve seen some of the most severe windstorms in recent memory coming off of Lake Erie. And few communities were harder hit than Hoover Beach. SERVPRO of The Southtowns was there to help, and if another storm rolls through, we’ll be there to help again, putting our experience not only restoring damages but helping residents to deal with the insurance implications to work. 

A Brief History of Storms

The “Halloween Storm” of 2019 kicked things off, with winds greater than 60 miles per hour pushing in windows and blowing water and debris into people’s homes. 

This damage was especially pronounced in Hoover Beach, with some residents saying it was the worst storm they’d ever endured in their tenure there.

After the Halloween Storm, SERVPRO of The Southtowns was out in force, helping Hoover Beach’s residents to remove debris, mitigate water damage and pick up the pieces. 

We made it "Like it never even happened." Little did we know that, just over a year later, we’d see the same kinds of severe winds - this time, over multiple days.

The storms in November 2020 also boasted 60-plus mile per hour winds over the course of multiple days. Much of the damage occurred on a Sunday, when many residents were out watching the Bills and weren’t home to observe or contain the issues.

SERVPRO of The Southtowns responded to this storm as well, helping residents to clear debris, extract water, and figure out how to put their lives back together. 

How SERVPRO Helps

SERVPRO of The Southtowns offers 24/7/365 emergency service, meaning that no matter when damage occurs, we can be on-site within four hours of your call to begin emergency mitigation. With a full-time reconstruction team on staff, we can also do more than just mitigate and restore damages - we can truly make it “Like it never even happened,” and put your home back together.

Past that, our experience dealing with emergencies in general, and lake storm damage on Hoover Beach in particular, makes us uniquely qualified to work with insurance providers to find the best path forward. Our goal, always, is to provide you with the best restoration solution possible within your coverage, your budget and your needs.

Need our help? Call 716-646-6684 anytime - we’re here for you.

Post-Storm and Disaster Scams in Western New York

12/2/2020 (Permalink)

FTC anti-scam flyer entitled "Picking Up The Pieces After a Disaster" The FTC's "Picking Up The Pieces After a Disaster" flyer gives great tips for identifying and avoiding scammers.

It sounds counterintuitive, but here at SERVPRO of The Southtowns, we wish no one ever needed us. We care a lot about our customers, and we wish they never suffered a disaster in the first place.

Unfortunately, emergencies happen, and we’re grateful that we’re able to help people pick up the pieces. 

Some of the most heartbreaking stories we hear, however, are about times when our customers had disasters, and they didn’t know to call us.

Post-disaster scams happen. They’re more prevalent in hurricane zones, where widespread damage is more commonplace, but that doesn’t mean they can’t happen here in Western New York.

You don’t have to take our word for it. The Federal Trade Commission recently put out tips for identifying and avoiding scams after a disaster because it had become such a widespread problem. Here’s what they suggest:

  • If someone approaches you promising clean-up and debris removal immediately, be skeptical and don’t just say yes. It can be tempting to hire the crew that’s standing right in front of you, but if you don’t do a bit of research before saying yes, they may end up charging you astronomical prices, and they may not even have the skills or resources to really get the job done right.
  • Instead, do your homework. Ask to see their ID, licenses and proof of insurance. Get a written estimate before agreeing to proceed with work, even if they insist that “insurance will cover everything.” 
  • Talk to your insurance company before proceeding. Ask if they have heard of the company that you’re considering working with, and get a sense of what will and will not be covered, and how much it will be covered for. 
  • Be extra careful if someone claims to be a government official. Scammers have started to claim to be affiliated with FEMA or other government agencies to collect Social Security numbers, credit cards and banking information. They may also charge you an “application fee” to put in an application with FEMA. Those fees are usually part of the scam.
  • When it comes time to render payment, don’t pay by wire transfer, gift card or in case. You want your payment to be traceable and verifiable. Don’t pay upfront, either - withhold full payment until the work is done and you are satisfied. 
  • Rental scams are also prevalent in major disasters. If someone approaches you with a short-term rental option if you’re displaced from your home, be wary if they ask you to wire them money, or demand payment before you’ve met or signed a lease.
  • Charity scams have also become more prevalent. After a disaster, scammers pop up claiming to be collecting money for the victims. Make sure you do your research before giving.

If you suspect that someone might be scamming you, go to ftc.gov/complaint to report it. 

And if you need disaster relief, or you just want a second opinion, call SERVPRO of The Southtowns at 716-646-6684. We’re here to help.

Damaged in a Storm? Work with Someone Who Can Put Things Back Together.

12/2/2020 (Permalink)

Bolt of lightning striking at night, illuminating the sky in oranges and pinks. Storms happen. SERVPRO of The Southtowns can help.

What’s better - having 5 companies help you out after you suffer from storm damage, or working with one?

Let’s put it a different way. What’s easier - herding one cat, or herding ten?

You get the point. Especially when you’re dealing with a catastrophe in your own home, you want to limit the amount of complexity that you’re dealing with.

Don’t take our word for it. JD Power, in their recent 2020 Property Claims Satisfaction Study, found that one of the most important factors in resolving an insurance claim satisfactorily was “single voice.” 

By “single voice,” they mean limiting the amount of vendors and stakeholders that you’re working with so that you can streamline the process of putting your life back together.

At SERVPRO of The Southtowns, we’ve made many investments in providing our storm damage customers with “single voice.” We’d like to focus on one in particular today.

Reconstruction: the Key to Single Voice

You may not realize it, but not every restoration company, or even every SERVPRO franchise, is the same. One of the things that sets SERVPRO of The Southtowns apart is that we have a dedicated, full-time reconstruction team on staff. 

The benefits of this team for our customers go far beyond the work that they do. Our customers get a ton of peace of mind from knowing that, once the restoration work is complete, we’ll be able to transition seamlessly into rebuilding and reversing any damage that occurs. More than that, though, being able to work with our recon team means that they’ll avoid the headache of sourcing contractors, vendors, supplies and managing everyone’s different schedules just to get their reconstruction work done. They also know they’ll be working with a team that knows how to navigate the intricacies of different insurance situations to help to make sure they get the most bang for their buck.

In other words, when SERVPRO of The Southtowns can be the “single voice” of restoration and reconstruction, we’re able to provide benefits far beyond logistics. We make the entire process easier, seamless, and more straightforward than it would be otherwise, making it “Like it never even happened,” for more customers faster.

Need our help? Call 716-646-6684 today.

How does SERVPRO of The Southtowns disinfect an area with confirmed COVID-19 exposure?

11/19/2020 (Permalink)

Woman in face mask looking slightly behind camera. COVID-19 is serious. We can help.

There are lots of companies out there that claim to be able to offer cleaning for COVID-19, but trust us - not everyone's the same. 

How does SERVPRO of The Southtowns confront the coronavirus? In a word: directly.

We adhere strictly to CDC protocols and only use products included on the EPA’s List N for use against the coronavirus SARS CoV-2 (COVID-19).

Our disinfecting programs are tailored to your needs based on a variety of factors, including industry, facility type, size of space, amount of high frequency touch points, foot traffic and congestion points. We offer both emergency service as well as proactive, defensive cleaning.

Not every disinfecting company can say the same. Some offer discount cleaning services that don’t amount to much more than someone walking through a space, spraying it with an unproven disinfectant, and leaving it at that. 

Want to learn more about our COVID-19 disinfecting services? Call us today at 716-646-6684 for your free estimate. 

Certified Cleaned! Coronavirus Disinfecting for Western New York

11/16/2020 (Permalink)

Doctor wearing head covering attaching a surgical mask. "Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned" has three steps.

Many companies claim to offer COVID-19 disinfecting services in the Buffalo area and all over Western New York. But only SERVPRO of The Southtowns can say that a space has been “Certified.” 

By combining decades of biohazard experience with the latest science, we have created the highest standard of disinfecting available. We also provide you with the tools to reassure the public that you’ve taken every step necessary to provide the gold standard of safety.

We call this “Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned.”

Step 1: Consult

Our Cleaning Protocol Specialist assesses your needs and devise a disinfecting plan tailored to your situation.

Step 2: Clean

Our biohazard team decontaminates your space, always adhering to the highest standards of the CDC and using EPA-approved products.

Step 3: Certify

We provide you with the tools to leverage SERVPRO’s trusted brand and show the public that you’ve brought in the experts to disinfect, including signage, window emblems, digital resources and more.

To learn more about the Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned program, give us a call at 716-646-6684. We’re here to help.

24/7 Emergency COVID-19 Cleaning, When You Need It Most

11/14/2020 (Permalink)

COVID-19 molecule illustration, sphere with red spores. We act fast, because COVID-19 waits for no one.

From private homes to government facilities to commercial businesses, we’ve performed coronavirus cleanings for just about everyone.

These days, we’ve been proud to provide 24/7 emergency coronavirus disinfecting for the manufacturing community here in Western New York.

Why do the largest manufacturers in the Buffalo area trust SERVPRO of The Southtowns with their COVID-19 cleaning needs? Simple: they know how important it is that they don’t lose a single day of work due to a suspected or confirmed exposure to the virus. They know exactly how much profit and loss is on the line if they have to shut down their manufacturing floor, and they’re ready to spring into action if an employee tests positive.

How do we factor in? Because we’re the largest COVID-19 disinfecting company in the area, and because we offer 24/7 emergency service, we’re able to complete the necessary cleaning procedures overnight so that these businesses can open safely in the morning. No matter how large the facility or serious the exposure, we’re generally able to help them avoid any disruption in their business by providing swift, thorough and professional cleanings.

Our COVID-19 cleaning protocols adhere strictly to the latest guidelines from the CDC and use only products featured on the EPA’s List N for use against coronavirus. We tailor each cleaning to the space that we’re working in, ensuring that we provide the most effective and targeted disinfection service possible. 

To learn more about the our COVID-19 cleaning services, give us a call at 716-646-6684. We’re here to help.

The Most Experienced Fire Restoration Team in Western New York

11/7/2020 (Permalink)

Firefighter exiting soot-covered home that has suffered a fire. We're here to help our community.

At SERVPRO of The Southtowns, we’re proud to be the most experienced fire restoration team in the Buffalo area. For over 25 years, we’ve been privileged to help our community recover from disasters, no matter how large or how small. 

How does the fire damage restoration process work? 

First, if you’ve suffered a fire, give us a call so that we can help you to assess the situation. If we think we’re able to help, we’ll send a team to your home or business to examine the damage caused by fire, smoke and soot and either render an estimate or get right to work.

If windows, walls and roofs have been seriously damaged, we’ll start with board-ups and roof tarping to protect you and your family from the elements.

Next, we’ll start the water removal and drying process (if necessary). Often, fires require a large amount of water to put out (from the property owner, sprinkler systems or the fire department). Extracting that water and drying those spaces is priority one.

After that, we’ll begin removing smoke and soot for your ceilings, walls and other surfaces. This removal process is more complicated than you might think, as much of this damage may be invisible (though the odor will definitely be noticeable). We’ll follow that up with a deep cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting of any items and structures that were affected, including soft contents, which we can clean with our Esporta wash system.

Finally, we complete the restoration process, providing repair and reconstruction services to make your fire “Like it never even happened.”

Need help? Call us 24/7/365 at 716-646-6684 - we’re here to help.

Recovering from a Fire at Your Business in Buffalo

11/7/2020 (Permalink)

Flames on a black background. If you suffer a fire, you have to act fast.

Suffering a fire can be a terrible setback, especially when it happens at your business. The longer it takes you to recover from the fire, the harder it can be to maintain your income and keep your employees working. 

How can you recover from a fire at your Buffalo business? Here are some tips.

  1. Keep Extensive Records

Take pictures of absolutely everything. Keep track of everyone you talk to and what you talk to them about so you can refer back to your conversations. If you have to purchase anything, keep your receipts and log everything in a spreadsheet.

  1. Call Insurance + SERVPRO

Call your insurance agent ASAP and let them know what happened. They’ll help you to figure out if you’re covered and instruct you on how to file a claim if you can. This process takes time and you’ll want to get it kicked off as soon as you can.

You should also call SERVPRO of The Southtowns to discuss your fire, smoke and soot restoration needs. We’ll be happy to work with your insurance carrier to provide the most extensive services possible while minimizing your out-of-pocket costs.

  1. If Your Building Will be Empty, Hire Security

A burned-out building, especially one with damage to windows or access points, is an easy target for thieves, vandals and burglars. The police can only do so much - private security may be necessary if you need overnight or 24/7 oversight.

  1. Board Up Windows and Tarp the Roof

If windows have been damaged or your roof is compromised, SERVPRO of The Southtowns can offer board up and tarping services to protect your building from the elements so that you can avoid further damage.

  1. Call Your Utility Companies

If there’s any potential of damage to your gas, water or electrical lines, get them shut off. Your utility companies should be able to inspect them and certify whether they’re safe to turn on.

  1. Get Your Stuff

Once the fire department gives you the okay to re-enter your business, assess the situation. Do you think you’ll be able to go on with business as usual, or will you be out of your space for a while? If it’s the later, grab everything you need to do your job, as well as valuables, vital records, and anything else that’s irreplaceable.

  1. Kick Off the Restoration Process

SERVPRO of The Southtowns is here to get the restoration process done quickly and thoroughly so you can get back to business as soon as possible. The sooner you call us, the sooner you can get back to work.

  1. Make an Emergency Plan

If you don’t already have an emergency plan put together that people can refer to in case disaster strikes again, or a written plan to get back into your business after a disaster, we can help. SERVPRO of The Southtowns offers professional emergency planning for our customers - call 716-646-6684 for more info.

The Unexpected Consequences of COVID-19

9/23/2020 (Permalink)

A rendering of a COVID-19 molecule. Aren't you sick of seeing this molecule everywhere?

It’s become a cliché to say that COVID-19 changed everything, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

We’ve seen major changes, like businesses closing, schools shutting down, hospitals struggling to keep up with demand and many people more or less locked down in their homes for the past six months.

With these changes come all kinds of unexpected consequences. With businesses closing or cutting back staff, we saw gas prices plummet. With the rise of virtual learning, we saw the death of the snow day. With hospitals struggling to keep up with patient care, we saw the American manufacturing community pull together to produce ventilators, PPE and other necessities that were previously made overseas.

As a business owner, it’s vital that you do everything you can to prepare for the unexpected. Otherwise, the consequences could be brutal.

Imagine, for example, that you’re the manager of a large building. Another company leases space in your building and operates a food court. According to the state’s mandates, most of your tenants have sent their employees to work from home or else furloughed them until they could come back to work.

Seeing that, you make the wise decision to ask the food court to shut down for the time being. You just don’t need the added risk of their employees congregating in your building when there’s really no demand for what they’re serving.

Great decision! Except – if you’ve evacuated the food court, who is checking on their space? And we don’t mean just walking through every once in a while. Is someone really going in on a regular basis and ensuring there aren’t any issues?

If the answer is no, you could be in trouble. Imagine that the condenser on the food court’s enormous walk-in freezer breaks. Unless someone is performing routine checks on everything in the space, you aren’t going to find out until you have a huge, pungent biohazard on your hands from all the spoiled food.

And that huge biohazard? Really, it’s the result of COVID-19. Workers had to quickly evacuate their workplaces without knowing how long they’d be gone. It’s only natural that some things fell through the cracks.

How can you prepare for the unexpected like this? While there’s no way to ensure that nothing ever goes wrong, you can still make a plan. At SERVPRO of West Seneca/Lancaster, we call it the Emergency Ready Profile, or ERP.

ERPs are totally free, no-cost assessments of your facility designed to collect the information you need to prepare for the unexpected. Want more information? Click here – we’ll be in touch.

What Are Soot Webs?

9/23/2020 (Permalink)

A thin black soot web forming in the corner of a ceiling. Don't worry - it's just soot.

Unless you’ve been in a fire- or smoke-damaged home, you probably don’t know what that damage actually looks like. It’s not always like a movie, where things are either untouched or charred beyond recognition. Fire, smoke and soot damage can often take stranger forms.

Take, for example, the soot web. A soot web (actually called a soot tag) resembles a black spider web that’s usually hanging on a wall or a ceiling in a home that has suffered a fire.

When these pop up, homeowners have a wide variety of reactions. Usually, people assume that soot webs are actual spider webs that have been covered in soot. In some cases, homeowners get embarrassed when we point soot webs out – they claim that, before the fire, they kept a very clean home, and they can’t imagine how such a large, eye-catching spider web go there.

If that sounds like you, relax – it’s not your fault. Soot webs are not cobwebs. They form when smoke from rubber or plastic sources ionizes floating soot particles. These particles bind together as they circulate towards cooler areas of the home. Because of this, you may see long strands of soot particles hanging from the corner of the ceiling. It looks an awful lot like a spider web, but you can sleep easy – there’s no such thing as a fire spider.

Cleaning soot webs is not as simple as sweeping away a regular cobweb. If you have a soot web in your home, give SERVPRO of West Seneca/Lancaster a call. We have the training, tools, experience and products necessary to clean soot without causing any further damage in your home.

Disaster Planning for Businesses in Western New York

9/1/2020 (Permalink)

Text reading "50%. The percent of businesses that may never reopen after suffering a disaster." Don't be a statistic. Get an ERP.

We’re going to ask you some questions that might give you anxiety. If you’re looking for an easy read, we once did an interview about grapefruit with our office administrator that might scratch that itch.

Imagine you’re the facilities manager for a line of 50 doctor’s offices in Western New York. You are responsible for dealing with disasters.

Then, imagine you are on vacation for the first time in three years. You are in Hawaii. You are drinking a lemonade. You are about to take a nap. Then, you get a frantic after-hours phone call from the office manager at your biggest location:

“The sprinklers are going off, but there’s no fire. If our million-dollar radiology machine gets any wetter, it’ll break. What do we do?”

Do you think that you could direct your office manager to find the shutoff valve for the sprinkler system over the phone?

Could you do it in under five minutes, before that radiology machine breaks?

Could you get your manager a list of emergency contacts before the ice in your lemonade melted?

95% of people will say no. 4% are either lying, or they’re the people who installed the sprinkler system.

The remaining 1% worked with SERVPRO of The Southtowns to create an Emergency Ready Profile, or ERP. ERPs are concise documents that collect vital details about your facilities so that you can act fast in case of disaster, wherever you are. These details include shut-off valve locations, priority areas and contact information for all vendors and stakeholders so that no matter who is on site, you can have peace of mind that the correct steps are being taken in case of disaster.

We won’t lie to you: ERPs are a bit of an investment. But less than you think – we do most of the heavy lifting on our end. We just need you to take an hour or so to walk through the facility with us.

As far as the financial investment: it’s free. No cost at all except for a little bit of your time. We’re just happy that you’re prepared. Considering the fact that 50% of businesses that suffer disasters never reopen, and that the ones that do reopen tend to have preparedness plans in place, we’d actually say that an ERP is a pretty hefty cost savings for you.

How do you start the ERP process? Simple. Fill out this form and we’ll get started.

More of a phone person? Give us a call at 716-646-6684 and ask for Dan. He’ll take care of you.

Happy National Preparedness Month!

Review Us on Google, Facebook, Yelp or AngiesList!

8/26/2020 (Permalink)

A SERVPRO technician in Tyvek cleaning the window of a police vehicle. We work hard every day to make it "Like it never even happened."

Have you worked with SERVPRO of The Southtowns in the past? We’d love to hear what you think!

Leave us a review on Google, Facebook, Yelp or AngiesList and let us know how we did! If you had a less-than-stellar experience, please call 716-646-6684 – we value your feedback and would love a chance to make things right.

Here are some of the things our past customers have said:

“Lyn, Thom, and their team are amazing. They put their heart and soul into every job they do. I’ve used their services numerous times for different projects and they have always gone above and beyond. Thanks SERVPRO!”

“I’ve lived out of town for many years but have an aging Mom still in the Buffalo area and so it’s always difficult to find a trustworthy and fair company to work with let alone one that responds quickly in an emergency. It was just such a case when Mom’s basement flooded last week. They not only came in with a professional crew but were compassionate and took extra care with the items that weren’t ruined by water. Thank you SERVPRO of The Southtowns.”

“I have used this company several times and have never been disappointed. The service has been excellent, the quality of the equipment and the products has been very impressive, and the end result has always left me and my family extremely satisfied. I would highly recommend SERVPRO to anyone.”

Thanks again for trusting SERVPRO of The Southtowns, and please leave us a review on Google, Facebook, Yelp or AngiesList to let us know how we did!

How to Request a Disinfecting Estimate for Your Business

6/25/2020 (Permalink)

Three SERVPRO techs in Tyvek preparing to disinfect a building. We're here to help.

We help business owners every single day, and we know that eventually, everything comes down to the bottom line. People get into business to make money, after all, and their primary objective when making decisions is usually to maximize profit.

How do you maximize profit? You make good decisions. And how do you make good decisions? With good information and sound judgment.

At SERVPRO of The Southtowns, we can at least provide you with good information. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve become very adept at quickly assessing business owners’ needs and providing accurate, detailed estimates for disinfecting. No matter whether a business needs routine, proactive disinfecting or emergency service after exposure, these estimates help owners to make decisions quickly and correctly.

To make this process even easier, we’ve introduced a way for owners to request estimates online. All they need to do is provide us with a few details and their contact information to signal their interest. After that, our team gives them a call to ask any follow up questions, schedule a site visit if necessary, and provide a free, no-pressure estimate.

Why is this so helpful for businesses? Because once they have an estimate in hand, they’ll be able to call us whenever they need us and know exactly what they’ll pay for service. An estimate isn’t just a piece of paper – it’s the peace of mind that comes with knowing exactly what you’ll get.

Need a disinfecting estimate for your business from SERVPRO of The Southtowns? Click here to get started, or call 716-646-6684 today.

What is Water Damage Mitigation?

6/9/2020 (Permalink)

Red stop sign attached to pole in a city street. Water damage mitigation stops further damage from occurring.

Unlike a professional SERVPRO technician, most people don’t go to bed at night dreaming about water damage. The average person knows that they don’t want water coming into their house, and that’s about it.

So when water does show up, in the form of a burst pipe or a failed sump pump or a backed-up drain, trying to sort through different companies offering different services can be difficult. One company offers water damage restoration, another keeps talking about water damage mitigation – what’s the difference?

If you’re reading this post, that might even describe your situation right now. So we’ll tell you: just what exactly is water damage mitigation? And how does it differ from restoration?

What is water damage mitigation?

The key difference between water damage mitigation and restoration is objective. With water damage mitigation, the goal is to prevent any more damage from happening. It’s the first step in getting you back to normal after a water loss.

“Do I really need mitigation?” you might ask. “The water’s mostly gone, things are drying out, my belongings are already soaked – why bother?”

The short answer is yes – mitigation is vitally important after any water loss. It is enormously difficult to ensure to assess the true extent of water damage on your own, and even harder to get everything dry enough that you’re not at risk of further damage or the growth of mold.

In order to prevent further damage, a water mitigation specialist might do the following:

  • Remove contents, furniture, drywall and even flooring that has been damaged;
  • Assess the structural stability of a building;
  • Extract remaining water using special tools and machines;
  • Work with you to figure out what contents are salvageable, and then clean and disinfect those contents;
  • If necessary, board up windows and tarp roofs to ensure that no more water gets in.

In short, water damage mitigation is about stopping any further damage from occurring so that the restoration process can begin.

If that’s mitigation, then what is water damage restoration?

Good question! And a common one – many people don’t realize just how extensive the process of cleanup and restoration can go.

Water damage restoration mostly focuses on rebuilding your home or business. At this stage, whatever damage that occurred before mitigation will now be addressed. The restoration stage is where the pros here at SERVPRO of The Southtowns really shine at making it “like it never even happened.”

The actual work that restoration entails really depends on the type and extent of the damage. Standing water in a basement is a much different beast than a hole in a roof, after all. Still, you might expect to see the following:

  • Replacement of any walls or floors that had to be removed;
  • Detection and removal of any mold that might have formed;
  • Repair of any structural or roof issues that might lead to more water damage;
  • Extensive humidity and moisture testing to verify that the water problem has been solved.

If you’re still having trouble remembering the difference between mitigation and restoration, just remember this: mitigation stops the problem and restoration reverses it. And if you ever need a mitigation or restoration team to help you after water damage strikes, call SERVPRO of The Southtowns at 716-646-6684 – we’re here to help!

9 Emergency Water Damage Tips

6/9/2020 (Permalink)

Abstract black and yellow painting with waves and blobs of paint. Tip #7: get your art out of there!

As water damage mitigation and restoration professionals, we know firsthand that the first 24 hours after a water loss are the most critical for reducing and preventing damage. The steps you take immediately after a loss will determine whether the damage is minor or major, temporary or permanent.

That’s why, after you call us, we spring into action fast. We get to you ASAP to inspect the scene, provide emergency mitigation services, monitor drying and restore your home or business to preloss condition.

But what should you do when a water loss occurs? How can you spring in to action to prevent permanent damage? Here are nine simple tips.

  1. Do not enter area if water is exposed to electricity.

Before you rush in and get to work, make sure it’s safe. If there’s a chance that the water might be exposed to a live wire or an electrical source, do not enter the room.

  1. Do not enter area if ceiling is sagging, and do not turn on wet ceiling fixtures.

Similarly, don’t rush into the area if the ceiling is sagging – this might indicate more serious structural damage, and there’s no reason to put yourself in harm’s way. You should also avoid turning on any ceiling fixtures if the ceiling’s wet.

  1. Shut off the water source, if possible.

If you can safely access the water source, shut it off to prevent further water from coming into your home or business. If you aren’t sure how to access the water source, or you aren’t sure if it’s safe, call a qualified professional for help.

  1. If safe, turn off circuit breakers for wet areas.

If you’re able to get to them safely, you should also turn off the circuit breakers for the wet area to prevent the flow of electricity.

  1. Mop or blot as much excess water as you can.

In a water loss, every little bit counts! Grab your mop and whatever towels you can find and try to remove as much water as you can until the professionals get there.

  1. Place foil or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpet.

If possible, you can also remove the furniture from the room altogether.

  1. Move art, electronics, documents and valuables to a dry place.

Moving contents to a dry place is the first step to restoring them to their original condition. Start with art, electronics, documents and anything else that’s both especially valuable and susceptible to serious damage.

  1. Do not use a household vacuum to suck up water – this could shock or damage the device.

Some people try to use their vacuums as makeshift extractors. We don’t recommend it – you’re likely to damage your device irreversibly.

  1. Call us, we’re here to help!

No matter how fast you spring into action, there’s a good chance that you’ll need professional help to truly mitigate and restore serious water damage. Give SERVPRO of The Southtowns a call at 716-646-6684 – we’re here to help!

Why Do Basements Flood?

6/9/2020 (Permalink)

Dimly lit unfinished basement with wet floor and water heater on right side opposite a window. Water flows to the lowest point it can find. That just might be your basement.

If your basement floods every single time there’s a rain storm in Western New York, you might ask yourself “Why me?” when you flip on the light and discover puddles of water downstairs.

You might also ask yourself “why do basements flood in the first place, and is there anything I can do to stop it?” We’re here to help you answer those questions as best we can.

First, blame gravity.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Basements are the base of your home or business, built at least partially into the ground. They’re at the bottom – of course gravity is going to pull water in their direction. Water has to flow somewhere, and it tends to flow to the lowest point it can find.

So that’s the simple answer: basements are lower than the ground, so if water is going to flow somewhere in your house, that’s where it’ll end up.

But why does your basement flood in particular? Why does this happen to you, and not your boss or your brother-in-law? Let’s examine some common causes of basement flooding.

Common Causes of Basement Flooding

Often, flooding occurs due to a lack of proper drainage. Say your home is not graded correctly, or that your gutters are clogged. Problems like these will cause water to pool and not drain away, eventually finding its way into your basement.

It’s easy enough to clean your gutters. But if there’s an issue with your foundation drainage system, you might be in trouble. If your foundation and basement do not have a proper system in place to move water away, then water is going to seek out any cracks it can possible find in your basement walls and pool up in your basement.

Of course, drainage isn’t the only cause of basement flooding. Very often, serious floods are caused by the very systems designed to prevent the buildup of water. If your sump pump isn’t working correctly, for instance, or if it isn’t capable of keeping up with heavy rainfall, you’re likely to see flooding.

Backed up sewers can also be a huge problem. If sewers themselves are backed up or start to overflow, sewage can flow back towards your house and back up through a toilet or drain – not a fun cleanup.

Can the causes of basement flooding be fixed?

The good news is yes – if you can figure out why your basement is flooding, you should be able to fix the core issue. It just might not be easy.

If the issue is improper grading, for instance, a landscaper should be able to figure out how to fix it. If you’re more of a DIYer, and the issue isn’t enormous, you may be able to create a proper slope yourself with nothing more than a shovel, some soil and some elbow grease.

Clogged gutters are also easy enough to diagnose and clean. A good rule of thumb is to clean them out twice a year (once in the fall and once in the spring). Obviously, if you think they’re clogged, you may want to clean them out sooner than that.

Broken or underperforming sump pumps can also be replaced and repaired. If you think you have a sump pump issue, call a professional – they should be able to help you to figure things out. It’s also not a bad idea to install backup power for your sump pump so that it can continue to function even if you lose electricity in a storm.

As for sewage backups, all you can really do is install a one-way drain plug. While you can’t prevent local sewers from backing up, installing a plug should at least help to prevent a backup from entering your basement somewhat.

And if the issue is cracks in your foundation, you’ll very likely want to call in a pro, and fast. Cracks only get worse over time and can sometimes be difficult to locate. A professional should be able to help you to solve your problem for good.

So next time your basement floods, don’t ask yourself “Why me?” Ask yourself “What can I do to make sure this never happens again?” You’ll be glad that you did.

The Categories and Classes of Water Damage

6/9/2020 (Permalink)

Three rows of empty desks in a classroom. Back to school! The topic today: categories and classes of water damage.

You already know, intuitively, that certain types of water damage are more severe than others.

A spilled water bottle? No big deal. A city sewer backing up into your basement? A total disaster. A hurricane parking itself right over your city? Just about as bad as it gets.

But did you know that there are pre-determined categories and classes that professionals use to assess water damage quickly and accurately? These classifications provide a useful shorthand for pros to communicate the extent of damage to each other. They also help them to quickly come up with effective mitigation and restoration plans based on prior experience.

We’ll walk you through the standard categories and classes so you can see for yourself just how unique each water loss can be.

Water Damage Categories

The categories of water damage refer mostly to the type of water present at the loss. Understanding the quality of the water is the first step in coming up with an extraction and mitigation plan, as it determines which tools should be used and what processes should be followed.

“Category 1” is the least severe. This category refers to water that is either clean or at least adequately sanitary that it would not pose a threat to a person if accidentally ingested. Say your sink overflowed – since you’re basically dealing with the water that came right out of your tap, it’s probably a Category 1.

“Category 2” is what professionals refer to as “gray water.” This water might be contaminated with microorganisms and should be treated with caution, as it might cause issues if ingested. Gray water might come from a broken toilet or a failing sump pump.

“Category 3” means “black water,” which is about as unsanitary as it gets and likely contains bacteria and other organisms that could cause serious illness if accidentally ingested. The most obvious source of black water could be a sewage backup, though water that has been standing for long enough may also be adequately contaminated to qualify as a Category 3.

Now you can imagine why establishing categories is important – it lets a professional know what they’re dealing with before they arrive on the scene.

Water Damage Classes

While the categories refer to the type of water, water damage classes have more to do with the rate of evaporation, the amount of water present, the size of the area affected and the ease of drying.

“Class 1” is the least severe class of damage. A Class 1 loss would affect only a small area inside a home or business, and it would consist of a small amount of water. Drywall, flooring and carpet would be minimally affected by the water and minimal drying equipment would be necessary.

“Class 2” is more severe – you’re likely dealing with an entire room that has been affected. The water likely came up from the floor, though it may have also wicked up the walls. Drywall, carpet and flooring would also be affected and may need to be torn out or removed depending on the category of the water.

“Class 3” is the most severe. Water in a Class 3 loss generally comes from overhead and affects just about everything in the area of the loss. A Class 3 loss often involves a greater amount of demolition and reconstruction, especially since the ceiling is likely to be affected.

“Class 4” refers not so much to the severity of water damage as the type of material affected. Class 4 water losses involve specialty drying techniques designed to dry out specific materials like stone, hardwood and plaster.

And there you have it – the 3 categories and 4 classes of water damage. No matter how your water loss is classified, we’re here to help. Call SERVPRO of The Southtowns at 716-646-6684 when you need us.

Water vs. Wood - What Stands Up Best?

6/9/2020 (Permalink)

Brown timber floor planks shot from above. The type of wood you use in your home matters.

There’s a lot of scientific research out there examining the relationship between water and wood. The reason for this is simple – basically everything we build has wood in it, and moisture is everywhere, but most of the issues we encounter with wood or wood products can be traced back to water in some way.

That’s because wood is a hygroscopic material, which is a fancy way to say that it tends to equalize moisture levels with its environment. In a wet environment, wood will take on moisture. In a dry environment, it will give off moisture. You can contrast this with non-hygroscopic materials, like PVC, which do not absorb moisture internally even as it gathers on the surface of the material.

Of course, not all wood is created equal – different types of wood have different properties. If you’re considering using wood for a project but are concerned about moisture or future water damage, read on to learn more about what type of wood you might want to use.

First: what happens to moist wood?

Wood that’s exposed to moisture can suffer from a variety of different problems, including:

  • Shrinkage/expansion: shrinking or growing in a certain direction, depending on the grain;
  • Warping: shrinkage/expansion in a particular area of the wood, which leads to the wood changing its shape;
  • Rot/decay: development of fungi in moist areas, which leads to deterioration.

In other words, wood exposed to moisture can change its shape, change its aesthetic and deteriorate over time. That’s why it’s so important to choose the right wood for your project. Here’s a brief rundown of common types of wood and how they stand up to water damage and moisture.

Mahogany

Mahogany’s a beautiful wood, and it can stand up to moisture extremely well. That’s why they use it to make boats, and that’s a big part of why it’s so expensive. Still, with its gorgeous reddish-brown hue and its serious resistance to warping, welling and shrinking, it’s easy to understand why so many homeowners choose mahogany for their projects.

Walnut

Walnut is also a popular choice for similar reasons. It’s easy to work with, so people often use walnut for things like furniture and cabinets, but it stands up strong to shrinking and warping as well.

Teak

Teak is used in a wide variety of places. You can build a ship with teak, you can build a floor with teak, and you can use it for a wide variety of construction projects. No surprise, then, that its known for its ability to resist warping, cracking, decay and rot in the face of moisture.

Oak

Like mahogany, oak is popular for everything from boats to floors. It’s easy to understand why – it’s flexible yet hardy, it finishes well and it can stand up to absorption and warping in the face of moisture.

Cherry

Cherry is popular for its aesthetic – among other things, it reddens when exposed to sunlight, which some homeowners like. Cherry is also highly resistant to warping and shrinking, and it’s a good choice for furniture and cabinets.

Pine

The softness of pine makes it easy to work and a popular choice for many furniture makers. It doesn’t hurt that it also resists shrinkage, swelling and warping when exposed to moisture.

Maple

Maple is used in both flooring and furniture quite often, but it’s not as resistant as mahogany, walnut or oak. Maple is likely to shrink if it is consistently exposed to water or moisture. If you have maple furniture or flooring, make sure that you protect it from humidity as best you can.

Spruce

Spruce is popular for a few specific uses. It’s strong, soft and often used in mills and even in the construction of aircraft. But while it is highly resistant to decay, it can experience shrinkage over time.

Cedar

Soft, reddish cedar is sought out for its uniform texture and often used for fence posts, planks and even furniture. How well does it stand up to moisture? Moderately – its resistant to decay, molding and rot, but tends to shrink and expand over time.

Keep in mind that while some types of wood can stand up to moisture better than others, any amount of water damage is going to be a problem for wood. If you have a water problem at your home or business, call SERVPRO of The Southtowns at 716-646-6684 today!

Introducing Dan Bauer, Our New Marketing Manager

6/9/2020 (Permalink)

Red headed male in green SERVPRO polo in front of 2020 vision poster. Say hi to Dan Bauer!

Hello! I’m Dan Bauer, the new Marketing Manager here at SERVPRO of The Southtowns.

I just wanted to introduce myself. I’m looking forward to becoming a part of the SERVPRO family and helping our community for years to come!

I’m coming to SERVPRO after years in the marketing and branding industry. I worked with companies like Patricia Nash (whose handbags you may have seen at Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s) and The Mark Hotel (most recently in the news for hosting Meghan Markle’s baby shower).

When Lyn and Thom first approached me about jumping ship and joining SERVPRO, I’ll admit that I was hesitant. Would my skillset translate to restoration and mitigation? After working with clients based everywhere from New York to Tel Aviv, would I fit in at a company in Hamburg?

After seeing the organization that the Brauns have created, though, I was convinced. Unlike the clients I’ve worked for in the past, who were totally obsessed with selling, SERVPRO is a company that’s uniquely dedicated to helping. When people are dealing with the most catastrophic events of their lives, we’re there to make it "like it never even happened." We combine the resources of an international network with the personal approach of a local, family-owned business to provide a service that’s unrivaled anywhere in the world.

That’s why SERVPRO will be here, serving our community, for a long time to come. That’s why I plan to be with SERVPRO for the rest of my working years. I’ve seen firsthand that this company is built to last, and I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of it.

Have a great day!

Introducing Cassie Mueller, Our New Office Administrator

6/9/2020 (Permalink)

Female SERVPRO employee with blonde hair facing the camera. Meet Cassie Mueller!

If you’ve called SERVPRO in the last five months or so, you’ve probably spoken with our friendly neighborhood Office Administrator Cassie Mueller. But she’s way overdue for a proper introduction!

Cassie started with us right as the coronavirus pandemic was picking up steam in the US – not an easy task! She’s already made her mark on the company, serving up inspirational quotes and well-timed side eyes in equal doses. We asked her five questions to get to know her better.

Q: What food would you eliminate from the face of the earth?

A: Grapefruit! Get outta here!

Q: What fictional character would you switch places with and why?

A: Stitch, ‘cause he lives on the beach. (Editor’s note: you can live on the beach and not be a tiny blue alien.)

Q: If forced to sing karaoke, what would you sing?

A: Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

Q: Who is your celebrity doppelganger?

A: Emily Osment. (Editor’s note: this is apparently someone from Hannah Montana. This answer made is feel old, too.)

Q: Caption this cartoon.

A: How I felt when you asked me these questions.

How to Quickly Assess Roof Damage After a Storm

6/9/2020 (Permalink)

Green roof with two windows in front of a blue sky. Your roof protects you. Will you return the favor?

Let us paint a picture for you. All day, people at work have been talking up this “crazy storm” that’s supposed to roll in over Western New York overnight. Before the sun sets completely, you do notice some scary looking clouds grouping up. But when the storm finally arrives, it’s not so bad. The wind was outrageous, but the rain didn’t come down too hard. No big deal, right?

Wrong. The wind coming off of a severe thunderstorm can be upwards of 60 miles per hour, and even if the storm itself didn’t produce a ton of rain, the wind it brought along can easily be enough to damage your home, and specifically, your roof.

With that in mind, it pays to do a quick check after high winds blow through to make sure your roof is still intact. Here are some simple ways to spot roof damage after a storm.

Easy-to-Spot Signs of Roof Damage

Check your attic after the storm for any leaks or signs of water damage. Even if you don’t find puddles of water pooling up, you might find water stains on your walls or on your ceiling that can indicate that water has made its way through a hole in your roof into your structure.

You should also do a quick survey of your yard for any debris. Obviously, finding shingles on the ground is a telltale sign of roof damage, but other debris, like pieces of metal fascia, may be harder to spot. You’ll also want to take a quick look at what you can see of your roof from the ground – is there any visible damage to the roof, your exhaust pipes, or the areas where the roof meets the walls?

Finally, do a quick check for damage from falling or flying objects. Obviously, if a tree fell on your house, you’d notice, but it can sometimes be easy to miss damage from falling branches or dimpling from the impact of hail unless you go outside and check. Sometimes this damage may be merely cosmetic, but in other cases, it may lead to serious structural damage that has to be addressed.

We don’t recommend getting a ladder out and crawling around on your roof if you suspect serious damage - that can be dangerous, especially right after a storm. It pays off in the end to call a professional roofer for anything that’s quite that involved.

If you do find damage, take as many pictures as you possibly can and call your insurance agent. Hopefully, your homeowner’s policy covers the damage and you’re able to file a claim. And if you’ve suffered any water damage, or if you need roof tarping, call SERVPRO of The Southtowns ASAP at 716-646-6684. We’re here to help!

Protecting Your Home from a Blizzard in Western New York

6/9/2020 (Permalink)

Green pine trees during the day in the snow. Trees can pose a major risk to your home after a blizzard.

In Western New York, we’re no strangers to sudden heavy snowfall. People still speak with equal parts nostalgia and horror about the “Blizzard of ’77” and “Snowvember,” storm events that reminded us just how unforgiving the weather here can be.

The severity of those storms was, to a great degree, unexpected. That’s why it’s vital that you’re prepared for anything once the temperatures begin to dip. You never know when the next nicknameable storm event is coming here in WNY.

How should you react before, during and after a blizzard? We’ll walk you through the basics.

Before the Storm

The key to preparing yourself for a storm is to anticipate. What supplies might you need to not only wait on the storm, but to stay safe, secure and comfortable for a few days afterwards? What might you need to clear snow, stay warm and stay entertained?

Essentials like bottled water, canned foods, instant coffee and pre-packaged snacks are a must, because they can be prepared and eaten without the use of electricity. Extra batteries and flashlights are also smart to have on hand. If anyone in your household takes medication, you should also stock up on that. Stocking up on hygienic products like toilet paper also isn’t a bad idea, though you should be considerate and avoid hoarding more than you need.

Storm prep is also a good time to break out the board games and books you’ve been meaning to get to all those years. Even if sitting around and doing a puzzle isn’t your cup of tea, it’s superior to sitting around and doing nothing while you wait for the power to kick back on.

During the Snowstorm

When the snow finally starts, there’s not much you can do aside from kick back and relax. Avoid going outside unless you absolutely have to. That goes double for driving, no matter how much you pride yourself on your ability to navigate the snow. Just because you think you’re invincible behind the wheel doesn’t mean that accidents can’t happen.

If you absolutely do have to go out, make sure you dress for the occasion. Experts recommend three layers of clothing: one to absorb sweat, one to provide insulation, and one to keep out the cold.

After the Snowstorm

We’re going to assume you know that you should shovel your walkways and sidewalks and focus on what we know best: potential storm damage after a blizzard.

After a serious snowfall, it’s important to make sure that there isn’t too much weight on your roof. Heavy snow can lead to roof issues if not taken care of. As a rule of thumb, it will take about four feet of snow to cause significant stress to your roof. While it’s unlikely that you’ll see that kind of buildup after a single storm, a few storms in quick succession can absolutely lead to this kind of buildup, especially if there’s an ice dam forming in your gutters.

If you living in a single story home, you may be able to reach your roof with a snow rake, which can be purchased ahead of time at a hardware store, and clear snow yourself. If the snow is inaccessible from the ground level, however, it may be time to call in a professional.

You should also do a quick circuit around your house and make sure that snow is not blocking any of your furnace vents. Blocked furnace vents aren’t just inefficient – they can lead to the buildup of carbon monoxide in your home, which can have deadly consequences.

Finally, you should look for any exterior risks to your home stemming from the snowfall. The most obvious risk comes from nearby trees. Tree branches that are overloaded with snow are liable to break or fall, and if one falls onto your house, you could be looking at minor or major structural damage. And the last thing you need in the dead of winter is a hole in your roof.

Fortunately, clearing trees of snow isn’t too hard. Just take a broom or long pole and try to knock the snow off as best you can. You may have to wait a bit for ice to melt, and we wouldn’t recommend poking around a branch that’s already dangerously detached, but for the most part, you should be able to handle your trees on your own.

If you’ve done everything you can and you still ended up with storm damage after a blizzard, we can help. Call SERVPRO of The Southtowns today at 716-646-6684.

How to Prepare Your Business for a Winter Storm

6/8/2020 (Permalink)

Two people with backs to the camera walk down a city sidewalk at night in a snowstorm. When a severe winter storm rolls in, will you be ready?

As a business owner, you know that the key to success is preparation. When the next big winter storm hits Western New York, will you be prepared? Here are seven tips to make sure that you’re ready.

  1. Keep employees and customers updated.

If you have to close your store due to winter weather, make an effort to tell both employees and customers in as many ways as possible. At the very least, you should call your employees with updates and post on social media for your customers.

  1. Take care of your sidewalks.

Don’t forget to salt the sidewalks before it’s too late – you don’t want someone slipping and falling outside your building.

  1. Invest in a generator.

It’s better to have a generator and not need it than to need one and not have it, especially if you have any refrigerators, walk-in coolers or food storage on-site.

  1. Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Bad storms do more than just bring ice, wind and snow – they can lead to all sorts of unexpected problems. Check the batteries on your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors before any severe weather event, especially if you think there’s a chance you might break out the generator.

  1. Prep and protect your building.

Even if you don’t own the building where your business resides, it doesn’t hurt to prep your space before a storm. Make a note of any drafty areas, cracks in the structure or areas where water is known to leak. Replace old weather stripping or ask your landlord to do so. Make sure everyone who enters your building wipes their feet on a floor mat. Every little bit counts!

  1. Call early for snow and ice removal.

If you’re anticipating significant ice or snowfall, call a removal company before the first flake hits the ground. The faster you can get rid of snow and ice, the sooner you’ll be able to welcome customers in and stop worrying about potential slip-and-fall claims.

  1. Create an emergency contact list.

Before the storm hits, program your emergency contacts in your phone for easy access. These contacts might include the local police, the fire department, the fire company, the hospital, your insurance providers, your plumber, your electrician, and of course, a professional restoration company like SERVPRO of The Southtowns.

While winter storms can be both dangerous and unpredictable, if you follow these seven tips, you’ll be prepared for whatever comes your way.

Your Business Flooded. Now What?

6/8/2020 (Permalink)

Exterior shot of high flood waters in a city street reflecting a nearby building. Floods happen fast - will you be ready?

Imagine this: last night, a freak thunderstorm rolled through Western New York. The thunder woke you up, you made sure your windows were closed, and then you went to bed without a second thought.

Twelve hours later, you show up to work to open your business up for the morning. But something doesn’t seem quite right. You open the door to the basement, turn on the light, and your heart sinks – there’s a foot of standing water down there, and everything you were storing appears to be totally soaked.

What should your next move be? We’ll tell you.

  1. Shut off gas and electricity.

If it’s safe to do so, and you can access the shutoffs, shut off your gas and electricity. If you aren’t sure how to do this, contact your utility companies for more info.

  1. Start to move your contents.

Assuming you can get at the contents of your basement safely, start to move things out of the water and to a place where they can begin to dry. Make a note of the damage as you go.

  1. Call your insurance agent.

Talk to your insurance company about what might be covered. If possible, start the process of filing a claim.

  1. Take pictures of everything.

Take photos and videos of everything you can, keeping an eye out for potential structural and property damage in particular.

  1. Clean up – safely.

Even if you plan to use a professional restoration company like SERVPRO of The Southtowns, you may save yourself time and money if you start the cleanup process on your own. Shovel out mud and debris, disinfect all surfaces, and open doors and windows to promote circulation.

Make sure that you wear gloves and clothing you can dispose of when you clean. Flood water, especially when drains back up, may not be especially sanitary.

  1. Communicate with employees and customers.

If you need to close due to the flooding, let employees and customers know ASAP. Social media and email are great platforms for getting the message out to customers quickly.

  1. Call SERVPRO of The Southtowns.

If your flooding is serious, then it pays to call in the professionals. If your business has flooded, call 716-646-6684 – we’ll make it "Like it never even happened."

3 Simple Fire Prevention Tips for Businesses

6/8/2020 (Permalink)

Small fire extinguisher hanging on red rectangle on a white block wall. Do you know where your business keeps its fire extinguishers?

If you’re a fan of the TV show “The Office,” then you probably remember the episode where a small kitchen fire totally derails an entire day of work. The entire staff spends the day goofing off outside, even devising song parodies to tease the temp whose inability to use a toaster oven led to the fire in the first place.

While it makes for funny TV, a scene like this in real life would be enough to make any business owner’s blood turn cold. An entire day of work gone just because someone couldn’t figure out how to heat their cheese pita? That’s a lot of money down the drain.

From that perspective, then, investing in fire prevention isn’t just a smart way to keep your employees safe. It’s a business investment that pays off by preventing property damage and wasted time.

Here are three tips for preventing fires at your business.

  1. Minimize potential fire hazards.

Many commercial fires are totally preventable. They’re the product of responsible business owners not having the time or the knowledge to find and fix fire hazards. Take some time today to walk through your business and look for potential issues, including:

  • Dirty or improperly maintained equipment;
  • Combustible objects stored near heaters or furnaces;
  • Flammable items not put away in cabinets;
  • Broken or fraying appliance cords;
  • Lack of proper circulation around appliances;
  • Overtaxed power outlets.
  1. Maintain fire safety equipment.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • When’s the last time that you checked your smoke detectors?
  • Do you know where your fire extinguishers are stored?
  • Are there enough extinguishers throughout your building?
  • Are any of the extinguishers expired?
  • Do your extinguishers show any signs of damage or loss of pressure?
  • Have you invested in a sprinkler system?
  • Has it been properly maintained?

It can be easy to forget about maintaining your fire safety equipment, but it’s vital that you’re ready if and when disaster strikes.

  1. Make a fire prevention and safety plan.

Devising a detailed fire prevention and safety plan and communicating it with your staff is just as important as investing in equipment. The most sophisticated fire prevention system in the world is worth nothing if no one knows that to do when a fire actually breaks out.

Your plan should include the following:

  • Evacuation plans, including meetup sites;
  • Explanations of how staff will be alerted in case of fire;
  • Explanations of accommodations needed for disabled employees, like those in wheelchairs or who have difficulty hearing;
  • Locations of fire prevention equipment, including fire extinguishers;
  • Plans for routine fire drills;
  • Warnings about common fire hazards around the office.

While you can’t prevent accidents from happening, if you follow these tips, you’ll stay as safe as possible from fires in your business.

How Does Fire Damage Restoration Work?

6/8/2020 (Permalink)

Fireman with back to camera spraying hose on large structure fire with flames coming out windows. After the fire's out, what's next?

Does a professional restoration company like SERVPRO of The Southtowns really do more than just clean up?

The short answer: yes, there’s much more to restoration than just “cleaning up.” But how does fire damage restoration actually work? What’s the process like? Is it something the average person can do on their own?

We’ll walk you through the basics so you can decide that last question for yourself.

Step 1: Assess Damage

Before any cleanup work actually begins, the fire restoration company has to assess the extent of the damage. This includes assessing damage from the fire as well as damage stemming from smoke, soot and heat. A professional assessor will be able to determine not just how much damage is visible, but how deep the damage has penetrated into the structure of your property.

Step 2: Prevent Further Damage

Damage from a fire does not stop just because the fire has stopped. The next step a restoration professional will take will be to prevent further damage from happening. This step will include fixing any damage to the structure of your building, especially any new holes or leaks that might let moisture in. After all, the last thing you need after a fire is water damage or mold growth.

Step 3: Clean Up

After the damage is assessed and the risk of future damage is mitigated, it’s time to start the cleaning and restoration process. It takes professional tools, techniques and experience to really clean up after a serious fire. Smoke and soot can easily penetrate past the surface level, leading to lingering odor and damage if not cleaned correctly. That goes double for carpet and upholstery, which can hold the smell of smoke forever if not deeply cleaned. In many cases, a restoration professional can advise whether it’s worth cleaning certain pieces of furniture at all, or if it might be less expensive to just replace them.

If there’s extensive water damage (say, from fire department hoses), then a professional restoration company will also be able to help with that by restoring contents, drying the area and preventing the development of mold.

Step 4: Reconstruction

At SERVPRO of The Southtowns, we also offer reconstruction services to help you to truly get back to normal after a fire. No matter how much you’re able to restore after a fire, it’s often less expensive and more efficient to renovate, rebuild and start over. Since we’re familiar with both fire restoration and the reconstruction process, we’re able to advise you on the best way forward after your emergency.

And there you have it: the basic fire damage restoration process. You assess, prevent, clean and rebuild and before you know it, you’re back to normal. Still have questions? Call 716-646-6684 today – we’re here to help!

5 DIY Methods for Eliminating Smoke Odors Before You Call the Pros

6/8/2020 (Permalink)

Plume of white smoke on a black background. The smell of smoke can last long after the fire is gone.

After a fire in your home or business, your problems don’t go away just because the flames do. The odor of smoke will likely remain long after you pick up the pieces, repair the damage and replace your belongings. What’s worse, you might find that no matter how much you clean, you can’t get the smell of smoke to go away.

As restoration professionals, we have the resources and experience to get rid of smoke odors for good. That said, we understand that some people don’t want to call in the pros until they’ve tried everything they can to get rid of their smoke smell for good.

So if you’re a DIYer, we’re still here to help! Here are some home remedies for smoke odors that some people have had success with in the past.

Vinegar

On top of having a potent smell of its own, white vinegar naturally cuts through odors of all types, including light smoke odors. Wipe down whatever smells with white vinegar and leave a few bowls of vinegar around the room as well for a few days, then see what happens. If you really hate the smell of vinegar, add a little bit of lavender oil to the bowls – it won’t totally eliminate the smell of vinegar, but it will help.

Baking Soda

If you’ve ever popped a box of baking soda into your refrigerator, then you know that it’s a go-to odor absorber for a reason. If vinegar didn’t work, try sprinkling baking soda on your smelly items and surfaces, as well as leaving bowls of baking soda out to trap any free-floating odors.

Cyclodextrin

What in the world is cyclodextrin? One of the core compounds in odor-fighting products like Febreeze. Cyclodextrin molecules are shaped like donuts, and they “trap” odor molecules in their centers. Febreeze alone probably won’t eliminate your smoke odor, but it might help.

Activated Charcoal

Some people swear by activated charcoal for all sorts of purposes, especially for its detoxifying properties. Again, it probably won’t get rid of smoke odors all on its own, but putting a few bowls of powdered activated charcoal around the room won’t hurt.

Air Circulation

If all else fails, and the temperature is high enough, open every window and door that you can and hope that circulating fresh air will be enough to minimize the smell of smoke.

If you’ve tried all of the above and still haven’t been able to dissipate your smoke odors, you may need a professional. This is especially true if you’re dealing with things like carpets, drapes and upholstery, which can hold the smell of smoke for a very long time. If you’re ready to kick off the fire restoration process, call SERVPRO of The Southtowns at 716-646-6684 today.

What to Do After Your House Fire

6/8/2020 (Permalink)

Firefighter in field with grass and flowers spraying hose on house on fire. After a house fire, what happens next?

After a house fire, especially a serious one, you’re likely to be in a state of panic, and it can be difficult to know what to do next. Once the fire’s out and everyone’s safe, consider doing the following:

Find somewhere to stay.

If the fire was severe, there’s a good chance you might not be able to stay in your house for a while. Reach out to family and friends and see if they’re able to take you in while you figure things out. If they can’t, connect with a trusted local disaster relief agency in your area – they should be able to help you find housing until you can get back in your home.

Work with insurance.

Hopefully, you’re well-insured with an agent that you trust. You’ll want to get started on a claim ASAP. Ideally, this claim will do more than cover the damage in your home – it will also provide you with money to cover living expenses as you get back on your feet. You may need a copy of the fire report from your local fire department to get this process moving.

Secure your property.

Especially if you won’t be home for a while, you need to make sure that your home is protected from both intruders and the elements. Make sure all points of access are secured and that there aren’t any leaks caused by the fire that could lead to water damage if it rains.

Keep your family healthy – including your pets.

If you have any reason to believe that you or your family was exposed to smoke or fire, consider making a doctor’s appointment to get checked out. The same goes for your pets – they can easily fall victim to smoke inhalation or have burns that aren’t visible under the fur.

Pay attention to mental health as well. Fires are a trying time for everyone – keep up with healthy habits and take care of yourselves.

Make a financial plan.

Sit down and figure out that your finances will look like for the next few months. House fires come with all sorts of unexpected expenses, so it’s important to plan as much as you can so you know how much you can afford to pay. After all, even if your house is gutted by a fire, you still have to keep up with your mortgage.

Inventory your possessions.

Your insurance should hopefully cover any items that were destroyed in your house fire. Make an inventory of what you own, including (where possible) the date of purchase, the cost and a short description of each item. In many cases, insurance will offer the cash value of what you lost so that you can replace it.

Work with the pros to get home.

Work with your insurance, restoration and reconstruction teams to figure out when you can safely move back into your home. The sooner you can get back in your house, the sooner things can get back to some level of normal.

Still not sure what to do after your house fire? Call SERVPRO of The Southtowns at 716-646-6684 – we’re here to help!

5 Reasons Why a Business Needs Professional Mold Removal

6/2/2020 (Permalink)

Red and orange mold growth on the trunk of a tree. Mold can grow almost anywhere when the conditions are right... just hopefully not your business.

Most business owners don’t know much about mold. They don’t know that there are thousands of different types of molds, that mold is a type of fungus or that mold mainly travels through the air.

What they do know is that mold growth is a bad thing, and they certainly don’t want it in their business. So when they discover any visible mold growth, the first thing that they do is run to their supply closet, grab a bottle of bleach and start scrubbing so that they can get rid of their mold as soon as possible.

While DIY removal of mold can be effective, usually in areas smaller than ten square feet, it’s not always the best option. If you’re a business owner with a larger mold problem, you should think twice before trying to handle it in house.

Here are five reasons why it pays to call in a professional mold removal company.

1. You get rid of mold once and for all.

The major reason you should consider hiring a mold professional is also the most obvious – they’ll be able to get the job done right. No matter how hard you try on your own, if you lack the proper training and equipment, you may only touch the mold on the surface. Hidden and dormant spores may remain, which can lead to recurring problems in the long run.

2. You clean every affected surface, not just the most obvious ones.

When struck with mold, different types of surfaces and materials require different approaches. A professional will have the tools and the knowledge to adjust their approach to clean anything that need to be cleaned, from walls to wood to clothing to upholstery.

3. You find and fix the source of your mold.

Professionals don’t just understand how to clean mold – they understand how it forms in the first place. They’ll be able to assess the origin of the leak or moisture that has promoted the growth of mold so that you can fix your problem at the source.

4. You inhibit future mold growth where necessary.

On top of cleaning mold and addressing its causes, professionals can also provide more peace of mind for business owners by applying commercial-grade products designed to restrain the development of mold.

5. You save yourself a ton of time and effort.

Business owners tend to be self-driven and entrepreneurial, so it’s no wonder they often try to take on mold removal themselves. They assume they’ll be able to figure the process out and that they’ll save money by not hiring a professional.

The risk, though, is that the opposite will happen. They may end up wasting too much of their own valuable time just trying to figure out how to fix their mold problem on their own. What’s worse, they may not even fix it completely, opening them up to much costlier problems down the road.

In the end, that’s the real reason you should consider hiring a professional mold remediation company to clean up your commercial facility: because it makes good business sense.

Nine Tips for Creating Water Damage Mitigation Plans

5/26/2020 (Permalink)

Female engineer and male engineer inspecting equipment at a Thermochemical User Facility Pilot Plant. Taking the time to make a detailed plan with all stakeholders pays off in an emergency situation.

Do you have a water damage mitigation plan in place?

You might not realize it, but water can be one of the most destructive things that your property could ever face. When water finds its way into an environment that was not designed to be wet, lasting damage can occur very quickly.

In fact, according to Zurich North America, water losses cost up to three times more than insurance claims that do not involve water. The bulk of these losses, according to CNA, come from damaged water supply lines – specifically, burst pipes during cold weather.

The takeaway: a water loss can happen just about anywhere, without much warning. That’s why having a water damage mitigation plan is so important. With a documented process for dealing with water damage as it happens, you’ll be able to react much more quickly and minimize the long-term consequences of your disaster.

Here are nine tips for creating your plan:

1. Find your leader.

A clear chain of command ensures that your organization will be able to act quickly in a crisis. Choose a leader who you can trust to react quickly, delegate intelligently, document thoroughly and implement your plan completely.

2. Break your plan down with specifics.

Don’t just come up with a general checklist for mitigation. Devise a specific and detailed plan for each building or area that you’re responsible for, with designated responsibilities for particular employees who will be able to spring into action in a crisis situation 24 hours a day.

3. Know your detectors.

Go into detail about how a problem might be detected. Will you perform regular manual checks and inspections? Will you perform specific checks after a severe weather event? Do you have automatic detection methods that you’ll rely on as well?

4. Study your schematics.

Even if you think that your employees know your building like the backs of their hands, it pays to make sure that key personnel pull and study your interior and exterior schematics. They should pay special attention to piping, sprinklers, pumps, valves, electrical breakers and gas shutoffs.

5. Photograph and label all shutoffs.

Use standardized tags to label each shutoff valve, and include photographs of the valves in your plan. This step ensures that there will be no confusion about what gets shut off when in an emergency.

6. Make a checklist for every eventuality.

How will you respond to a sprinkler leak? A flood? A burst pipe? Will those processes differ in any way? If so, make sure that you include specific instructions for each.

7. List emergency numbers for all vendors.

Make a list of trusted vendors that will be able to respond in an emergency situation and jot down their contact information in a consolidated place. This list might include plumbers, roofers, electricians, contractors, insurance agents, alarm companies and local authorities. By choosing your go-to vendors before an emergency takes place, you’ll greatly improve your ability to make decisions quickly.

8. Stock emergency spill and pipe repair kits.

Work with your maintenance team to put together kits to deal with spills and burst pipes as soon as they occur. These kits should include your mitigation plan along with things like sheets to cover electronics, small portable pumps, fans and other tools that can minimize water damage quickly as you wait for professional help to arrive.

9. Communicate!

Don’t just expect your staff to read, internalize and use the plan you create. Set a meeting to go over the plan in detail with everyone involved, especially those who may need to enact the plan in your absence. Don’t assume that you’ll be on-site to manage every disaster – accidents tend to happen when we’re least equipped to deal with them.

Still not sure how to move forward with your water damage mitigation plan? Don’t worry – we can help! Call 716-646-6684 today and ask how we can help you to put together an Emergency READY Profile, free of charge.

VIDEO: We're Here to Help Our First Responders.

5/26/2020 (Permalink)

SERVPRO technicians in Tyvek posing with the Town of Hamburg police after sanitizing vehicles. We're proud to be here for our first responders any way we can.

SERVPRO means so much more than excellence in cleanup, restoration and disaster relief. To us, fulfilling the SERVPRO mission means being “here to help” when our community needs us most.

That’s why, over the course of April and May 2020, we devoted ourselves to helping our first responders feel safer in the face of an unprecedented pandemic. As coronavirus swept our region, our crews worked nearly every day to clean, disinfect and sanitize first responder vehicles and agencies, free of charge, to minimize the spread of COVID-19. In all, we sanitized 536 vehicles at 24 separate police, fire and EMS agencies.

Throughout this crisis, our first responders have been on the front lines, doing their jobs and keeping us safe in a truly selfless and heroic way. Helping them to be a little safer was the least we could do.

Production Manager Chris Ferguson put together this incredible video chronicling the work that we did – check it out on YouTube.

Frozen Pipes and Ice Dams Oh My!

12/17/2019 (Permalink)

brass color pipe with white snow on it with water rushing out behind a black background Be sure to take preventative action when it comes to frozen pipes and ice dams this winter storm season

The first half of winter in WNY can be a bit confusing, to say the least. One minute its sunny and 40 degrees, the next it’s freezing raining, and before you know it its full out snowing! With almost three seasons in 24 hours, it’s important to be prepared for any kind of disaster Mother Nature may bring this time of year.

One thing to watch out for during this part of the season is frozen pipes, and ice dams. Our area is particularly prone to frozen pipes this time of year because the temperature can dramatically drop at any moment. Also, this is the time of year people like to travel for the Holidays. So, be sure to take preventative measures, and insulate exposed pipes and turn out outside water sources now so you don’t have a water emergency during an ice storm this season.

Also, this questionable weather can cause ice dames to form on your roof. Ice dams can cause a significant amount of water damage to your roof and home. So be proactive and keep your attic warm, and check your roof to make sure no dams have formed.

Follow these tips and you and your home will stay safe this winter storm season, no matter what Mother Nature decides to throw our way! And, as always, if you experience any damage from a winter storm this season please call the experts at SERVPRO of The Southtowns at (716) 646-6684 right away to make your storm damage, “Like it never even happened”.

Life Happens, Recover Faster From Commercial Fire and Water Damage

12/17/2019 (Permalink)

slate colored floor covered in water with man in green vest and hard hat on Life happens, but don't let fire and/or water damage keep your business or commercial property down! Get the fastest, and best service in the WNY area

We all know life happens, but when disaster strikes on your business it can feel like the world it’s self is ending. You work so hard in and on your business every day, so when fire and/or water damage happens to your business let the professionals at SERVPRO of The Southtowns make it, “Like it never even happened”.

We understand that every minute closed is lost revenue for your WNY area business. That is why we have the fastest disaster response team in the area! We promise to have a full crew onsite within two hours, but usually we are there within one hour to begin assessing the damage and start emergency mitigation work. Our expert technicians can work and operate around your customers if areas of your business can or need to remain open to the public. They can also be discrete so your customers do not know we are even there. Our office can work directly with your insurance company, and give you daily updates on what is happening, they know communication is key. So, if your commercial property or business suffers fire and/or water damage this winter season, be sure to call the professionals at SERVPRO of The Southtowns. A real person is always available to answer the phone at (716) 646-6684.

Getting Prepared for Winter Storms in WNY

12/6/2019 (Permalink)

white snow falling with one person standing Get prepared for this winter storm season with these helpful tips.

Storm season in WNY and the surrounding Buffalo, NY area includes snow storms. And, while snow storms may seem like they are no big deal, they can actually cause as much damage as a heavy rain storm! In fact, heavy snow can collapse a roof, ice dams can form on roofs causing water damage, and heavy snow storms can cause power to go out which can wreak havoc on your entire house.

So, when winter time rolls around in Buffalo, NY it is important to be prepared. Here are some things that you will want to keep on hand, and stored safely for when Old Man Winter shows up:

  • Have a generator ready to go! During a snow storm is one of the worst times for the power to go out. Be prepared and keep a generator, as well as a full gas can on hand to keep the power, heat and sump pump going!
  • Keep the roof as clear as you can. Now, obviously you won’t be able to keep the roof completely clear, but not allowing heavy snow to build up and allowing ice to form will keep the risk for your roof to collapse and ice dams from forming to a minim.
  • Practice appropriate fire safety measures when using candles and space heaters during a snow storm. Should an emergency happen, Emergency Response crews will have a slower response time which means a longer time for the fire to burn and spread through the house.

Follow these snow storm safety tips and you and your home will stay safe during every storm this winter season. Should you experience any fire and/or water damage from any storm this winter season, please call the experts at SERVPRO of The Southtowns right away! A real person is always available any time of the day at (716) 646-6684. Let us make your fire and/or water damage, “Like it never even happened.”

Staying Safe This Winter Storm Season: Vehicle Safety Edition

12/6/2019 (Permalink)

light blue car in front of white snow covered mountain and dark blue hotel building Staying safe during this winter storm season includes having a winter safety kit in your vehicle. Keep one of these in your car.

Previously, we have talked about preparing and protecting your home during a snow storm here in Buffalo, NY. But, what about preparing you and your car during a snow storm here in WNY? It’s happened before, the Weather Man calls for a major snow storm and we think, “Ok, I’ll believe it when I see it”, and we go about with our day. Then, BAM out of nowhere it starts snowing like crazy. Now you are left to try to navigate home, that’s if you don’t get stuck along the way.

But, what happens if you do get stuck in your vehicle during a snow storm? Are you prepared? You will be now! Just follow these tips to create a winter safety kit to store in your vehicle this winter:

  • Always keep an ice scraper and a snow brush in your car. If you are staying still during a snow storm, that snow will build up fast. You will want to keep the car brushed off so you stay visible.
  • Gloves, hats and a blanket to keep warm! You will eventually want to turn the car off to save on gas. These items will help keep you warm.
  • A shovel, chain, or rope, to help dig yourself out.
  • A flashlight and reflector and/or flares to stay visible at night.
  • Rock salt, sand, or kitty litter to help give you traction when you are stuck.
  • A first aid kit and a tool set.
  • Jumper cables and a cell phone charger.
  • And lastly, you should ALWAYS have AT LEAST half a tank of gas or more. We recommend staying as close to full as you can.

Keep all these items in a water proof bin (you can purchase these at any hardware or super center store) with the lid closed in your truck. This way you are prepared for any size disaster this winter!

High Winds In The Forecast, No Problem!

12/4/2019 (Permalink)

multiple trees down over white house If high winds are in the forecast, be prepared with helpful wind storm tips to keep you and your home safe.

It seems that the WNY area has been experiencing a number of high wind storms this year. And, as we prepare to enter the Holiday season we will encounter another one. Winds up to 60 mph are expected in the area, and that can cause some significant storm damage to your home. On top of the high winds, our Buffalo, NY area could experience some heavy thunder and rain storms. This weather is setting the stage for some potentially serious damage.

Should the power go out in these storms, your sump pump is at major risk. With the heavy thunder storms predicted, all that rain can cause a sump pump overflow and major water damage to your home. Something we recommend to help you prevent a sump pump overflow during a power outage is a battery back-up or a water detection device. Both of these items are relatively inexpensive and can be found at local Hamburg, NY hardware stores. They can help cover the sump pump until you can access it, and alert you should water start to overflow.

Another preventative tip that we recommend is to be sure there are no dead, or potentially dangerous tree limbs near your home. Should one of those branches fall on your home during a rain storm, not only do you have reconstruction that needs to be done, but the rain will cause additional water damage as well!

Should you experience any water damage during these storms this year, please call the professionals at SERVPRO of The Southtowns to make it, “Like it never even happened.” Our office is always available to you at (716) 646-6684. 

WNY Not Immune To Major Storm Damage

12/4/2019 (Permalink)

brown, large tree down in road with blue and white police vehicle next to it The WNY area is not immune to storms that cause major damage. So be prepared and practice these safety tips.

Staying safe during a WNY storm is important. Unfortunately, the WNY area is not immune to sever storms, especially in 2019. We may not have to deal with hurricanes or tornadoes, but heavy and severe thunder/rain storms can cause massive amounts of damage to your home.

Here are our tips for staying safe during this storm season:

  • Should you need to use candles for light, be sure to keep them away from flammable materials such as paper, curtains, or furniture. They should also be kept on steady, flat surfaces out of reach from little hands. And NEVER fall asleep with a candle burning.
  • Keep a battery operated cellphone charger in the home. Keeping your phone charged when the power out is important should you ever need to contact the authorities. Try putting your phone on battery saving mode, and stay off of it as much as you can. Both of these things will help prolong the phone’s battery life.
  • Make sure your sump pump has a battery backup and/or a water detection device near it. When the power goes out in the middle of the night, don’t be stuck watching or stressing over your sump pump. A battery backup and a water detection will give you peace of mind and some security until the power comes back on or you can arrive home to check it.

Practice these tips during the next Buffalo, NY storm and you will weather the storm safe and sound. And, should you experience any fire and/or water damage during a storm, call the professionals at SERVPRO of The Southtowns at (716) 646-6684 right away to make your water damage, “Like it never even happened.”

Number One Fire Prevention Tip This Fall Season

11/27/2019 (Permalink)

orange and red flames coming out of black chimney Don't let this be you this fall season. Practice this fire prevention tip and stay cozy, warm and safe this year.

Ah, it’s that time of year again. A chill is in the air, Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and we’ve even seen some snow already! This is the perfect weather to put another log on the fire and cozy up with your favorite blanket while catching up on your favorite TV show. But, before you start that fire there are a few precautionary measures you should take. They could end up saving you thousands of dollars in damages, and suffering a loss right before the Holiday season.

The first thing you should do before EVERY fall/winter season is have your chimney professionally cleaned and swept. In fact, this tip is so important it is also the number one tip of local Hamburg, NY and surrounding areas Fire Departments. We recently spoke to Lt. Bryon from the East Aurora Fire Department and this was the first thing he mentioned. He mentioned that they have already responded to fires this season that were caused from a chimney fire.

Another tip to keep in mind is to make sure the ashes are completely cool before disposing of them in the garbage can. We have seen too many fires that are caused from people disposing of ashes before they are completely cooled. So be mindful of these fire safety tips this Holiday season and you will be warm and safe.

Stay Warm AND Safe This Winter Season

11/27/2019 (Permalink)

white space heater up against grey wall on light brown wood floor While it's tempting to turn them on to keep the thermostat down, make sure you practice proper safety precautions to stay safe this winter.

It seems that everyone these days is trying to save a couple of extra dollars where they can. And, when the weather turns and nights get cooler you may be tempted to turn on that space heater instead of turning up the thermostat. While space heaters are great for warming up small spaces, they also can be a major fire hazard in your home or office.

So, in order to keep yourself safe this winter season remember these safety tips when it comes to using a space heater:

  • Keep space heaters at least 3 feet from any surrounding objects.
  • Turn space heaters off before leaving the room.
  • Avoid using extension cords.
  • Place the heater on a level, hard surface.
  • Keep space heaters away from flammable items such as papers, blankets, and curtains.

By educating yourself about the safety hazards that come with space heaters, you will have peace of mind knowing your home will be warm, cozy, and safe. If you practice these space heater safety tips this winter season you will stay warm and safe! And of course, should you experience a fire disaster please call SERVPRO of The Southtowns at (716) 646-6684 for all your fire and/or water restoration needs.

Why SERVPRO: Your One-Stop Shop for ALL Your Restoration Needs

11/21/2019 (Permalink)

green truck with one door opened with three air scrubbers stacked on top of each other Call the only restoration company in the area that can handle ALL your restoration needs in-house!

What most people do not realize is that there are multiple steps and layers to fire and/or water restoration. First, a professional and well trained technician needs to come out and assess the damage. After, he can put together an effective drying plan that will get you back to normal faster and without causing secondary damage. From there our crews can begin the mitigation work necessary.

But, what about the rest? What about things like your textiles, important documents, and the reconstruction that comes after? Other restorations companies have to send that work out to other companies, which only takes longer and creates more stress.

However, SERVPRO of The Southtowns does not need to send any of this work. That’s right, we are your “one-stop shop” when it comes to all your fire and/or water restoration needs. We clean your textile and soft goods in house, which means they are returned to you faster! Our in-house Reconstruction Team is ready to rebuild you after the mitigation work is done so you do not need to stress and worry about finding an outside contractor.

Also, SERVPRO of The Southtowns can restore your important documents and photos. So, if you have fire and/or water damage give the only restoration company in the area that can handle all of your restoration needs in house! Call our office at (716) 646-6684 today and let us make your fire and/or water damage, “Like it never even happened.”

Why SERVPRO: The Best Way to Move, Store and Track Your Belongings

11/20/2019 (Permalink)

multiple people in warehouse sorting through boxex Dealing with fire and/or water damage is stressful enough. Don't stress over your belongings as well.

Sometimes after a fire and/or water loss items need to be removed from the home, either to be stored until the damage is restored or to be restored/cleaned. This can seem overwhelming, especially since you just a major loss. Your contents are important to you, and they are important to us too. So, don’t sweat it. SERVPRO of The Southtowns has a system in place to inventory, package and safely move/store your items.

Our professional technicians utilize Contents Tracker to successfully, and safely pack/store your belongings. Each item is individually inventoried, and a photo is taken. That item is then placed in box with a barcode that is tied to the item. So, at any point you can call us and say you want your Grandmother’s air loom perfume bottle and we will be able to locate it, and get it to you right away.

On top of knowing how to properly pack and move your belongings, SERVPRO of The Southtowns can store them in one of our pods our temperature controlled warehouse. That way, you do not have to worry about your belongings being exposed to secondary damage. Just one more reason of why you should choose SERVPRO of The Southtowns for all your fire and/or water damage needs. If you have experience fire and/or water damage needs, please give our office a call at (716) 646-6684.

Why SERVPRO: Teamwork Makes The Dream Work!

11/20/2019 (Permalink)

man up on scaffolding and another man helping him The phrase, "teamwork makes the dream work" holds true here at SERVPRO of The Southtowns!

You’ve probably heard the saying, “teamwork makes the dream work”, and here at SERVPRO of The Southtowns that holds true. Not only are our technicians some of the best in the industry, we are a family as well. All of our professional technicians know that when it comes to fire and/or water damage, teamwork is everything! When a major storm hits our area, our crews come together to ensure that we get to every person who calls our office. Or when a commercial building suffers a loss after hours, because fire and/or water damage rarely happens during business hours, our technicians rally together to be faster to any size disaster.

We’ve always got a professional crew on call, ready to jump into action and make your fire and/or water damage, “Like it never even happened.” Also, our crews are willing to put in the extra work when needed. When a local Buffalo, NY college needed a massive post construction cleaning done in one day before the first day of classes, our amazing technicians pulled together and volunteered to work into the late hours of the night to get the job done. That is teamwork at its finest. So, if you suffer from water or fire damage, choose the company that is faster to any size disaster! Call SERVPRO of The Southtowns at (716) 646-6684 today.

Working Around Our Commercial Customer's Time Lines

9/26/2019 (Permalink)

school library with doors open When this local Amherst, NY high school experienced water damage days before the first day of school, SERVPRO of The Southtowns was there!

When a local school in Amherst, NY flooded just days before the first day of school, the Super Intendent of Buildings and Grounds had a brief moment of panic. But then, he remembered to keep calm and call in the experts at SERVPRO of The Southtowns to begin the cleanup.

Within an hour, our crew was on site, ready to assess the 12 rooms that flooded, and begin the mitigation work. Our crews worked quickly and efficiently to get the cleanup done, the school dried out and make the school’s water damage, “Like it never even happened”. In fact, here is what the Super Indendent of Buildings and Grounds had to say about SERVPRO of The Southtowns:

“The SERVPRO staff on site were very professional, had the right equipment and tools, and went      right to work helping us take care of the 12 flooded classrooms at our High School. Dan and his staff listened to our scheduling needs and had all 12 classrooms opened for the first day of school. I was very impressed, thank you.”

At SERVPRO of The Southtowns we take great pride in being able to work around our commercial client’s needs. We know and understand how important a deadline can be. Also, we know that your business or commercial property may need to remain open while the mitigation work is being performed. Our crews know how to work around the general public, and how to set up appropriate safety zones in order to protect them and the public.

So, if your commercial property or business experiences water damage, give the professionals at SERVPRO of The Southtowns a call at (716) 646-6684 today.

Staying Safe and Preventing Fires This Fall Season

9/26/2019 (Permalink)

dark roof falling in after a fire Stay safe this fall and practice these fire prevention tips to prevent fire damage in your WNY home.

This summer and early fall seasons, we have noticed an increased amount of fires happening in our WNY area. Fires, no matter how big or small, can be devastating to an individual or family. In order to keep you and your family safe, we would like to share a few fire safety tips that will hopefully help prevent a fire in your home:

  • Be sure there are properly working smoke detectors on every floor in your home, and in every bedroom as well. Smoke detectors save lives, especially since 50% of fires happen at night when everyone is sleeping.
  • Never leave food that is cooking unattended.
  • Avoid using portable and fixed space heaters. If using a space heater is necessary, be sure that there are no flammable objects within 10 feet of it. And, that it is plugged into a safe electrical outlet (not in a surge protector).
  • Avoid smoking in the house.
  • Check your smoke detectors twice a year (every six months).

Practice these fire safety tips and keep you and your family safe from a house fire. Should disaster strike, and you suffer a house fire this year, please do not wait and call the experts at SERVPRO of The Southtowns immediately at (716) 646-6684 to make your fire damage, “Like it never even happened”.

https://www.safety.com/fire-safety/

Levels of Loss for Your Buffalo Commercial Property or Business

6/25/2019 (Permalink)

Here at SERVPRO of The Southtowns, our commercial property jobs are broken down into three levels. Do you know what level your commercial property or business is? Review the levels below and learn where your commercial property or business sits.

 Level 1- A Level 1 is a small commercial loss, usually involving 15,000 square feet or less of an affected floor space. Some examples of a Level 1 loss include, but are not limited to, a small church, daycare facility, a small shopping center, a small warehouse or manufacturing facility, or a stand-alone administrative facility. A Level 1 loss could also be a small portion of a much larger structure.

 Level 2- A Level 2 is a midsize commercially loss typically involved 15,000 to 60,000 square feet of affected floor space. The buildings, or buildings involved are usually multi-level or greatly divided spaces. Some examples of a Level 2 loss are, but not limited to, a small mulita-family property, a midsized church or school, a small shopping center, a multi-tenant administration facility, a midsized warehouse or manufacturing facility. A Level 2 loss can just be a portion of a much larger structure.

 Level 3- A Level 3 is a large commercial loss typically involving more than 60,000 square feet of affected floor space. The building or buildings involved will likely be large, multi-level structures. Some examples of a Level 3 loss are, but are not limited to, a large church, hospital, school and/or university, a large multi-family property, a large industrial manufacturing facility or warehouse, or a large strip-style shopping center or shopping mall. This type of loss would be considered a “large loss”.

 So now that you have determined what level your commercial property would be, know that SERVPRO of The Southtowns can properly handle them ALL. We have the right equipment, staff and training to handle any commercial property or business. So when you experience fire and/or water damage, give the experts at SERVPRO of The Southtowns a call at (716) 646-6684.

Does Your Business Have A Disaster Plan?

6/24/2019 (Permalink)

Will your business be one of the 50% that DOES NOT recover after a disaster?

Does your business have plan for what happens after a disaster? Did you know that 50% of businesses WILL NOT recover after a disaster? Don’t a one of these statistics, let SERVPRO of The Southtowns help. Yes, we do Emergency Fire & Water Restoration 24 hours of the day to help after a disaster has occurred, but we also offer a COMPLIMENTARY service that puts together an action plan before a disaster happens.

We call it the Emergency Ready Profile, and it can be all the difference in a time of emergency. This guide will help get you back into your building following a disaster and minimize the amount of time your business is inactive. It provides a list of chain of command for authorizing work to be done, which saves time so mitigation of the damage can begin as quickly as possible (which saves you money as well).

 Also, the ERP provides important facility details such as, shut off valve location, priority areas and priority contacts. This gives your staff an important reference of what to do, how to do it, and who to call even when you’re not on location.

Did we mention this can be transferred to an app on your smart phone so you can access it at anytime, anywhere in the world? So you can now rest easy knowing your WNY business has a plan in place any time there is an emergency. To your own ERP started, give SERVPRO of The Southtowns a call at (716) 646-6684 today!

Important Things To Know About Your Water Loss: Categories of Water

6/21/2019 (Permalink)

You already know that water damage can be extremely devastating and damaging, but did you know that there are different categories of water? Yup, that’s right. These three different categories of water help determine what our drying plan will be, and what products need to be used in order to properly sanitize and clean the disaster.

 Category 1- This is clean water that is free of contaminates or additives. It can be water that originates from the plumbing supply line, the toilet supply or sprinkler head.

 Category 2- This is grey water and it contains significant contamination. It may have additives; it may have passed through building materials or has remained stagnant for a short period of time. Category 2 water is usually from sump pump failures or floor drains. It is also Category 1 water that has passed through walls or floors, or Category 1 water that has sat for more than 72 hours.

 Category 3- This is black water and is grossly contaminated water or sewage. It is water that originates from flooding, beyond the plumbing trap or has remained stagnant for a long period of time. It is usually from a sewer drain backup, flooding, or is Category 2 water that has sat for more than 48 hours. This type of water requires our technicians to wear full PPE while extracting, and extensive cleaning and sanitizing after the water is removed.

 Once one of our professional technicians has determined what category the water is, they can begin to put together an appropriate plan to make your water damage, “Like it never even happened." If you have any water damage in your home, please call the experts of SERVPRO of The Southtowns at (716) 646-6684.

Commercial Restoration Vs. Residential Restoration

6/20/2019 (Permalink)

The average restoration company might attempt to treat a commercial project like, “a really big house”. But here at SERVPRO of The Southtowns we know that this is just NOT the case. We know that planning, communication and execution all need to be adjusted in order to provide excellent customer service and do the job right. Here, we know and understand that commercial restoration jobs differ from residential restoration jobs in three main ways: function, size and complexity.

Function- A residential home has one main purpose, to accommodate a personal living space. However, a commercial structure can serve a variety of functions all in the same building. A few examples of a commercial structure are:

  • Government Buildings
  • Restaurants
  • Retail Stores
  • Warehouses
  • Hotels
  • Libraries
  • And More

The wide range of uses requires additional considerations about the occupants of the structure, the processes that go on inside the structure and if there are individuals visiting the structure. All of these considerations affect the restoration process and need to be considered when putting a drying plan together. SERVPRO of The Southtowns knows what to consider and how to put together a proper drying plan for your water and/or fire damaged commercial property and its occupants.

Size- Commercial properties can vary in size from anywhere to 1,000 sq. feet to 1,000,000 sq. feet. This requires additional time for scoping out the damage, putting together an estimate and a plan for the damages occurred. Also, it requires additional equipment, labor and supplies. All things that SERVPRO of The Southtowns has access to immediately.

Complexity- Commercial restoration projects can contain a large variety of complexities. These complexities can pertain to any commercial project and affect the process from start to finish. Some examples of these complexities are:

  • Multiple stakeholders- Authorizations and decisions can involve input and review by multiple individuals (ex. Property manager, Property owner, tenant etc.).
  • Time Constraints- We know you need to get back to business as soon as possible. We are aware of and work with any time constraints you may have.
  • Public Access and Security- Both public and occupant access may need to be limited or restricted. We know how to advise you, and work with both.
  • And More…

These complexities can be managed, and must be considered when restoration work is being performed on a commercial property. Thankfully, SERVPRO of The Southtowns is prepared for it all! There isn’t anything we’re not ready for, and will help you get your commercial property or business back up and running as soon as possible. Remember, we make it, “Like it never even happened."

So if your commercial property or business experiences fire and/or water damage, give our office a call immediately at (716) 646-6684. Choose the number one restoration company that knows how to handle a commercial loss.

What To Do In A Flood Emergency

6/20/2019 (Permalink)

Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States, and WNY has seen its fair share of flooding over the years. It is important to follow proper safety measures before, during and after a flood because failing to evacuate flooded areas, entering flooded waters or remaining after a flood has passed can result in injury or death. Here is what you need to know when it comes to floods. For more information and resources, please visit Ready.gov.

 Floods may result from rain, snow, storm surges, and overflow of dams and other water systems. They can develop slowly or quickly, remember flash floods come without warning. And, floods can cause outages, disrupt transportation, damage buildings and create landslides. If you are under a flood warning find shelter right away! DO NOT try to swim, dive or walk through flooded waters. Just six inches of water can knock you down. Remember, Turn Around. Don’t Drown.

 If your area experiences a flood, here are some proper safety tips to help you and your family survive the disaster.

  • Depending on where you are, and the impact and warning time of flooding, go to the safe location that you have previously determined.
  • If told to evacuate, do so immediately. Remember to NEVER drive around barriers, they are there to safely direct traffic out of flooded areas.
  • Listen to EAS, NOAA Weather Radio, or local alerting systems for current emergency information and instructions.
  • Stay off bridges over fast moving water.
  • If your vehicle is trapped in rapidly moving water, then stay inside. If water is rising inside the vehicle, then seek refuge on the roof.
  • If trapped in a building, then go to its highest level. Do not climb into a closed attic. You may become trapped by rising floodwater. Only go to the roof if necessary. Once you are there, signal for help.

Be sure to listen to authorities to determine when it is safe to return home. Do not touch electrical equipment if wet, in order to avoid electrocution. Remember to avoid wading in floodwaters as there can be snakes and other animals, and dangerous debris floating around. Also, underground or downed power lines can electorally charge the water.

WNY Still At Risk For Storms This Summer

6/18/2019 (Permalink)

Finally, the snow is gone and summer has arrived (well kind of). But, that doesn’t mean WNY isn’t still at risk for storms. Thunder and lightning storms still pose a threat in the WNY area. Whether you are located in Downtown Buffalo, NY or on the outskirts of Elma, NY, you are still at risk when it comes to thunder and lightning storms.

Of course prevention is KEY when preparing for any type of storm. Here are some helpful tips from Ready.gov to help you PREPARE for a storm.

  • Know your area’s risk for thunder storms. In most places, they can occur year round and at any time.
  • Sign up for your community’s warning systems.
  • Identify nearby, sturdy buildings close to where you live, work, study and play.
  • Cut down, or trim trees that may be in danger of falling on your home.
  • Consider buying surge protectors, lightning rods or a lightning protection system to protect your home, appliances and electronic devices.

 Now that you’ve taken the proper preventative measures to protect your home and family during a thunder/lightning storm, here are some helpful tips to use DURING a storm:

  • When thunder roars, go indoors. A sturdy building is the safest place to be.
  • Pay attention to weather reports and warnings of thunderstorms. Be ready to change plans if need be to somewhere indoors. Always have a backup plan.
  • If inside, avoid using running water or landline phones. Electricity can run through plumbing phone lines.
  • Unplug appliances and other electronic devices, and secure outdoor furniture.
  • If boating or swimming, get to shore immediately and seek shelter in a sturdy building or vehicle.
  • Avoid flooded roadways. Turn around, don’t drown! As little as six inches of moving water can knock you down. One foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.

 AFTER the storm, be sure to:

  • Listen to authorities and water forecasts for information that is it safe to go outside. And for safe instructions regarding potential flash flooding.
  • Watch for fallen power lines and trees. Report them immediately.

 https://www.ready.gov/thunderstorms-lightning

Be In The Know: Categories of Water

6/18/2019 (Permalink)

Flooded basement Determining the proper category of water is critical to determining the best drying plan for your water damaged home or business.

You already know that water damage can be extremely devastating and damaging, but did you know that there are different categories of water? Yup, that’s right. These three different categories of water help determine what our drying plan will be, and what products need to be used in order to properly sanitize and clean the disaster.

 Category 1- This is clean water that is free of contaminates or additives. It can be water that originates from the plumbing supply line, the toilet supply or sprinkler head.

 Category 2- This is grey water and it contains significant contamination. It may have additives; it may have passed through building materials or has remained stagnant for a short period of time. Category 2 water is usually from sump pump failures or floor drains. It is also Category 1 water that has passed through walls or floors, or Category 1 water that has sat for more than 72 hours.

 Category 3- This is black water and is grossly contaminated water or sewage. It is water that originates from flooding, beyond the plumbing trap or has remained stagnant for a long period of time. It is usually from a sewer drain backup, flooding, or is Category 2 water that has sat for more than 48 hours. This type of water requires our technicians to wear full PPE while extracting, and extensive cleaning and sanitizing after the water is removed.

 Once one of our professional technicians has determined what category the water is, they can begin to put together an appropriate plan to make your water damage, "Like it never even happened." If you have any water damage in your home, please call the experts of SERVPRO of The Southtowns at (716) 646-6684.

Just Suffered a Fire? Read This!

6/12/2019 (Permalink)

We can now offer Textile Restoration to our list of services!

The aftermath of a fire can be one of the most devastating times of a person’s life.  It is not uncommon for someone to want to feel a sense of normalcy immediately after a fire. You already know that SERVPRO of The Southtowns can take care of the cleanup and restoration of your fire damaged home, but we can now help you with the restoration of your soft goods and textiles too.

What do we mean by textiles? We mean we can restore most, if not all, of your

  • Sports equipment
  • Soft contents (such as stuffed animals)
  • Laundry
  • Shoes and handbags
  • Curtains
  • And so much more

In fact, we are now able to restore 90% of the soft content items in your home and nearly twice as much soft contents than a restoration drycleaner! We can restore items affected by heavy soot, Category 2 & 3 water, mold and bio contamination. And, we can do it in as soon as 48 hours. That means you can get back to normal life even faster! This also means having just one point of contact for all your restoration needs, which helps to make life a little easier during your time of need.  Just another way we are, “Here to help” and make it, “Like it never even happened."  

If you experience fire damage, please give our office a call at (716) 646-6684 and let the professional experts at SERVPRO of The Southtowns get life back to normal.

Did You Just Experience a Water Loss? Read This!

6/7/2019 (Permalink)

We can now restore ALL of your contents! Soft goods included.

The aftermath of a fire can be one of the most devastating times of a person’s life.  It is not uncommon for someone to want to feel a sense of normalcy immediately after a fire. You already know that SERVPRO of The Southtowns can take care of the cleanup and restoration of your fire damaged home, but we can now help you with the restoration of your soft goods and textiles too.

What do we mean by textiles? We mean we can restore most, if not all, of your

  • Sports equipment
  • Soft contents (such as stuffed animals)
  • Laundry
  • Shoes and handbags
  • Curtains
  • And so much more

In fact, we are now able to restore 90% of the soft content items in your home and nearly twice as much soft contents than a restoration drycleaner! We can restore items affected by heavy soot, Category 2 & 3 water, mold and bio contamination. And, we can do it in as soon as 48 hours. That means you can get back to normal life even faster! This also means having just one point of contact for all your restoration needs, which helps to make life a little easier during your time of need.  Just another way we are, “Here to help” and make it, “Like it never even happened."  

If you experience fire damage, please give our office a call at (716) 646-6684 and let the professional experts at SERVPRO of The Southtowns get life back to normal.

Did You Just Find Mold In Your Commercial Property or Business? Read This:

5/20/2019 (Permalink)

When your business or commercial property has mold, call the experts at SERVPRO of The Southtowns to make it, "Like it never even happened".

When you discover mold in your commercial property or business, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and concerned. Who do you call to get rid of the mold? Is this something you can do yourself? How long will your business have to be closed, after all you have a bottom line and employees to worry about. This list of questions will continue to grow as the day goes on.

Let SERVPRO of The Southtowns put your fears at ease. We are properly trained and certified to remove and clean up the mold, and equally important, make sure the mold does not come back. Recently, we received a call from a local business who had found mold and needed it taken care of, but had a very strict timeline in which the work needed to be done. Strict deadlines are no problem for SERVPRO of The Southtowns. We understand that you a short window to get your business back up and running again. Also, we understand that this window of time may not be during traditional business hours, this is no problem for the largest Fire, Water and Mold remediation company around!

We were able to complete the mold remediation process within the deadline, and the business never had to close. So if you find mold or water damage in your Buffalo, NY commercial property or business please don’t hesitate to call the mold experts at (716) 646-6684. A trained professional can be onsite in as little as one hour to put together a plan to get your business up and running again.

One Day It Just Started Raining, And It Never Stopped...

5/20/2019 (Permalink)

When storms are in the forecast, be sure to take preventative measures so that the rain and water stay outside and not in the home.

Will it ever stop raining? That seems to be the question lately. And while the weather outside is anything but desirable, it’s important to remember to take preventative measures inside your home to help prevent water damage.

A simple, and affordable way to help protect your home during these rain storms is to purchase a water detection alarm to place near the sump pump. You can purchase one of these devices from any local hardware store, Home Depot or Lowes. They can be purchased for as little as $10, and are worth every penny.

Another action you can take is to check the attic and crawl spaces for any water that may have been dripping and accumulating. Any time there is accumulated moisture, warmth and a food source (such as wood, cardboard or other soft goods) there is potential for mold growth. Taking away one of these factors eliminates the chance for mold. By staying proactive, you can help prevent mold growth in your home.

Lastly, you can run a dehumidifier in basements or crawl spaces that hold a lot of moisture. This is a pretty common tip that most people follow this time of year, but it’s one that is worth sharing. Dehumidifiers help pull moisture out the air and keep your basement and contents in it dry.

If you do discover water damage from these storms, it is important to call a professional as soon as possible. Water damage is not something that should be “cleaned up” by a nonprofessional. Items or parts of your home that seem dry may actually still be wet, which can lead to more damage down the road. Not to mention the water (depending on where it came from) can be loaded with contaminants. Should you experience any water damage during these rain storms, please give our office a call at (716) 646-6684 and let SERVPRO of The Southtowns make it, “Like it never even happened."

Document Restoration Services Right Here in Buffalo, NY

4/11/2019 (Permalink)

Yes it's true, even documents can be restored after a fire/water loss.

Picking up the pieces after a fire/water loss can be overwhelming at best. Realizing that your documents have been damaged from the loss is even worse. But good news, SERVPRO of The Southtowns can restore your fire/water damaged documents. We understand that several documents, whether they are for residential or commercial use, are important to you and cannot be replaced. They may even contain sensitive information that should not, or cannot be shared. This is why our Technicians are HIPAA compliant and are trained how to deal with sensitive information.

 SERVPRO of The Southtowns can take fire/water damaged documents and pull the moisture and odor out using freeze-drying technology. It is important to start this process as soon as possible, so if you have documents that are affected by fire and/or water we recommend putting them in the freezer immediately and then calling our office at (716) 646-6684. This service has helped several doctor’s offices and schools that are required to keep a paper copy of documents. So if you have documents that suffered water and/or fire damage let the experts at SERVPRO of The Southtowns make it, “Like it never even happened."

Welcome Back to the BOMA Board Emily!

4/11/2019 (Permalink)

Congratulations Emily on your second term on the BOMA Board.

As of April 10th, 2019 our very own Marketing Manager Emily McNulty was named to the 2019 Buffalo Building Owners & Managers Association Board of Directors for her second term. Emily has been active with the BOMA Association since 2014, and became a Board Member in 2015. Her favorite part of being a member of this wonderful organization, besides networking with the commercial real estate industry, is that she gets a behind the scene look at some of Buffalo’s historical properties and all the amazing renovations developers are doing to them.

The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) is a non-profit trade association, and a federated chapter of BOMA International. Their membership includes over 120 property professionals consisting of building owners, property managers, developers and other real estate professionals as well as associate members providing services and supplies to the commercial real estate industry. Their members own or manage over 52 million square feet of office, commercial, retail and industrial properties. For more information on BOMA check out their website at www.bomabuffalo.com.

Do You Need CE Credits? We Got You Covered!

4/11/2019 (Permalink)

Need CE Credits? Come to our class on May 7th, 2019.

SERVPRO of The Southtowns Presents a breakfast seminar covering

“Water Damage: Risk, Diagnosis, & Mitigation”

CE Credits (3) available for NYS Insurance BR, PC, C3, PA

Course # NYCR-259587

Date: May 7, 2019

Time: 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Registration and Breakfast: 8:30 AM

Location: JP Fitzgerald’s

4236 Clark St. Hamburg, NY 14075

Course fee: $60.00 (Fee Waived by SERVPRO)

Complimentary Buffet Breakfast Provided!

What Will You Learn?

  • The significance of water damage.
  • Causes & effects of excessive moisture on structure, contents, and health.
  • How quickly microbial (mold) growth can appear as a result of excessive moisture.
  • What your insured experiences with a water loss.
  • Emergency tips that can be given by phone to keep the loss at a minimum.
  • How fast action, in handling water loss claims, will save money & property.
  • The procedures that mitigation companies utilize to detect, mitigate, and document water losses.
  • The state-of-the art equipment is now used in mitigating water damage.
  • How ground water and sewage claims are handled.
  • Special restorative techniques for documents, electronics, and artwork.
  • New claims handling procedures, documentation requirements, vendor relationships.

Contact our office if you are interested in attending at (716) 646-6684.

An interview with Travis Braun – Operations Manager at SERVPRO of The Southtowns

3/25/2019 (Permalink)

Travis has been a part of the SERVPRO of The Southtowns family since 2006

An interview with Travis Braun – Operations Manager at SERVPRO of The Southtowns

What makes your proud to work at SERVPRO of The Southtowns?

The environment. We are a big “Family” company, not corporate, there is a direct line to each person in this company, an open door policy if you will.

What is something that still surprises you?

Never Settle. We are always striving for continuous improvements, such as the textile restoration division we just launched.

What is our greatest strength?

Compassion. We train everyone to have a “hero” mentality. We are usually dealing with people on their worst day. Every person in the company has to have great compassion for our customers to help them though their tougher times and get them back on their feet.

What is your management style?

I try to always be here to help if I am needed, but I prefer to give initial input and then let them perform with the best information they have and the training we’ve given them. This is a tough job and things change constantly. My team has to know that I trust them to make decision because I have set the expectation and given them the training to succeed.

Where do you see the company going in the next 5 – 10 years?

I want to double everything – double the building space, the truck fleet and the crew numbers. We have doubled in size over the last 5 - 7 years and I am looking forward to doing it again.

What would make someone successful at SERVPRO of The Southtowns?

Initially, just someone who has a good attitude, a willingness to listen and learn. Restoration is a specialized field, I don’t expect people to come in understanding the daily activities, just that they are excited and motivated to learn and succeed.  

What does a typical day in your job look like?

I spend most of my time communicating with adjusters on approvals for certain job criteria.  Also responsible for final invoices and compliance with the programs we are on. As the industry has evolved there has been major shifts in compliance and expectations between insurance companies and vendors. It is my primary responsibility to make sure that everything we do is in line with what the insurance companies request from us.

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions Travis! You are an integral part of our team.

An interview with Dan Duggan – Construction Manager at SERVPRO of The Southtowns

3/25/2019 (Permalink)

Dan has been a part of the SERVPRO of The Southtowns family since 2012

An interview with Dan Duggan – Construction Manager at SERVPRO of The Southtowns

What is one of the most interesting projects you have worked on SERVPRO of The Southtowns?

We built a 2,000 square foot containment for mold remediation inside of a middle school gym. That was a really cool project to have the mitigation teams and reconstruction teams working together at the same time.

What makes you proud to work at SERVPRO of The Southtowns?

The sense of accomplishment when putting the finishing touches on a job.

What is something that still surprises you?

To this day, there are still jobs that blow my mind on the amount of damage caused by water and fire.

Why should customers hire us?

We can do it all, clean up, lineup subcontractors, rebuild. We truly handle the loss from A to Z.

What is our greatest strength?

The front office and communication. They are involved in ALL the jobs every step of the way. Customers feel safe and confident because of all the work our front office does.

What is your greatest professional achievement?

Being right here where I am. Construction Manager at SERVPRO of The Southtowns, I’ll retire from here and truly love coming in every day.

What is your work environment like at SERVPRO of The Southtowns?

It’s a sports like atmosphere. Everybody working together to accomplish the same goal.

What is your management style?

I like to have a coach style. I set goals with my team every day and stay hands-on to teach and assist.

Where do you see the company going in the next 5 – 10 years?

We keep getting bigger and better! I’d like to double the construction division, maybe even my own office one day, haha!

What does a typical day in your job look like?

In the mornings I come in extra early, I like to get my crews prepped for the day’s schedule, set goals for what we will accomplish that day. Then I like to get out in the field and swing a hammer alongside my team.

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions Dan! You are an integral part of our team.

An interview with Chris Ferguson – Production Manager at SERVPRO of The Southtowns

3/20/2019 (Permalink)

Chris has been a part of the SERVPRO of The Southtowns family since 2003

An interview with Chris Ferguson – Production Manager at SERVPRO of The Southtowns

What is one of the most interesting projects you have worked on SERVPRO of The Southtowns?

We had to set up a very large containment center for mold remediation in a middle school gymnasium. It was like building a room inside a room.

What makes you proud to work at SERVPRO of The Southtowns?

We are a family owned and operated business that is able to reach a lot of people when disaster strikes. Also, I am proud of how much we have grown since I started and all the technologic advances in the industry.

What is something that still surprises you?

The products and equipment are constantly being upgraded and improved.

What is our greatest strength?

Our knowledge and experience. After over 20 years in this industry, there isn’t much we haven’t seen.

What is your greatest professional achievement?

Working my way up from carpet cleaner to a production manager. I am 15 years strong with SERVPRO of The Southtowns and I am constantly learning and striving for more!

What is your work environment like at SERVPRO of The Southtowns?

We are very team based. Everyone gets along and has fun, but when it’s time to take care of business we are all hands on deck.

What is your management style?

I would said I am fair but firm. I try to use teachable moments.

Where do you see the company going in the next 5 – 10 years?

We just keep growing! I am looking forward to hiring more people and being able to expand our reach to help more and more homes and businesses across Western New York.

What would make someone successful at SERVPRO of The Southtowns?

Commitment and hard work. This is not an easy job, there is manual labor, long nights, and dirty work sites, but someone who is willing and able to do what’s needed when its needed, able to change on the fly, things are always changing.

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions Chris! You are an integral part of our team.

Restoring Vs. Replacing: Fire Damage Edition

3/18/2019 (Permalink)

In most cases, it is actually more affordable to restore your belongings after a fire and/or water loss than to replace them.

After experiencing a fire and/or water loss it is common for people to think that replacing all of their contents would be less expensive than restoring them. As a professional in the Restoration Industry we are here to tell you that is false! The technicians at SERVPRO of The Southtowns are trained to see beyond this common misconception, and restore your contents/valuable to a preloss condition.

The mitigation process of cleaning yields excellent results at a cost-effective price. Mitigation stops further damage and reduces the loss, while restoration puts the damaged items back to their preloss condition. For ultimate results, mitigation needs to begin within twenty-four hours of a loss. Any delay will complicate or, may devalue the mitigation effort. In order to guarantee the removal of smoke odor, all of the contaminated areas need to be cleaned, deodorized and possibly sealed (where applicable). Also, all odor molecules, whether airborne or absorbed, need to be neutralized.

So if you experience a fire and/or water loss this spring, give the experts at SERVPRO of The Southtowns a call (716) 646-6684 to begin the restoration and mitigation process immediately! We are always, “Here to Help”.

3 Tips for Filing an Insurance Claim after You’ve Experienced Water Damage

3/11/2019 (Permalink)

Having water damage in your home or business is stressful enough, filing an insurance claim shouldn't be.

Discovering water damage in your home is stressful enough, filing an insurance claim shouldn’t be.  So here our top three tips when it comes to filing an insurance claim for water damage. These tips and tricks come highly recommended from our top Insurance Agents, and make the claim processes faster and easier.

  1. Stay Calm and Carry On-It may sound simple, but staying calm during the claim process can make a huge difference. By keeping your emotions in check, you will be able to better communicate and describe the damage to your insurance agent, hear what they are saying with clarity and also not miss any important information they are trying to share with you. We recommend that you keep a list of phone numbers on your fridge (ex. SERVPRO of The Southtowns, your Insurance Agent, and the local Fire Department) just in case of an emergency. Remember, it’s always best to be prepared.
  2. Snap Some Photos- Taking photos of any water damage or standing water is ALWAYS a good idea. It allows the insurance company to see firsthand the extent of the damage, as well as help protect you should a question arise. These days most people carry their smart phone on them at all times, so having access to a camera is no problem!
  3. Speak Up!-Dealing with a water loss claim can feel overwhelming at times. If you ever have a question about what is going on be sure to ask. Our office staff is here to explain and answer any question you may have. ALL of our technicians are IICRC Certified, and can answer any questions you may have onsite. Here at SERVPRO of The Southtowns we understand that this may be your first water loss and we are always available to help our customers.

We would like to point out that every insurance policy is different. So be sure to call your Insurance Agent prior to filing a claim, to determine if there is coverage for your water loss and policy details. If you are questioning if you currently have coverage for a water loss, give your local Insurance Agent a call and schedule a review of your policy.

How To Prevent Frozen Pipes This Winter

1/18/2019 (Permalink)

Use these preventative measures to prevent frozen pipes in your home this winter.

January is here, and so is the frigid temperatures. Also, it’s the time of year Western New Yorkers like to travel to a warmer climate to escape the cold. If you are planning your winter escape, it is important to take preventative measures to prevent the pipes in your home from freezing. Water damage from a burst pipe can be devastating, and costly. Especially when the water is sitting stagnant in the home for more than 24 hours, this leaves the potential for mold. Here are a few tips to prevent the pipes in your home from freezing.  

  1. Keep the furnace running at 55 degrees-Turning the heat down when you are away from the home for an extended period of time is smart, but be sure the thermostat does NOT go below 55 degrees.
  2. Insulate pipes exposed to outer walls-This gives pipes that are more prone to freezing added protection.
  3. Allow water to flow through pipes by turning on faucets to a slow drip-This keeps water moving consistently through the pipes.
  4. Open cabinets to allow heat from inside the home to help keep pipes warm-The extra air flow will help prevent the pipes from freezing.

Should you come home and find that a pipe is frozen, take immediate action to thaw it. If you experience water damage from a pipe that froze and burst, call the experts at SERVPRO of The Southtowns at (716) 646-6684 to begin the mitigation process.

How to Assemble a Emergency Winter Kit for Your Vehicle

1/3/2019 (Permalink)

Having a Emergency Winter Kit in your vehicle will have you prepared for when disaster strikes!

Although December and January have been mild so far in WNY, one thing is for sure, the snow is coming! And while we haven’t seen a lot of the white stuff yet, it is a good idea to prepare for it now. One way of doing that is to keep a Winter Emergency Kit in your car for when disaster strikes!

Here are some things that you will want to keep in your kit. We recommend storing these items in a water proof bin/tot (you can get these at any store) and placing it in your vehicle’s trunk.  If you already have an Emergency Car Kit just add a few additional items and you are good to go!

Winter Emergency Kit Essentials:

  • Blankets, gloves and hats
  • Ice scraper
  • Bag of sand or kitty litter (to help with traction)
  • Extra phone charger
  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlight (and extra batteries)
  • Bottled water
  • Non-perishable food items
  • Multi-too (such as a Swiss Army Knife or a Leatherman Tool)
  • Road flares

As always, you should practice safe driving during the winter months as well. Being prepared for any size disaster is just one more way SERVPRO of The Southtowns is “Here to Help.”

Rain Rain Go Away

12/3/2018 (Permalink)

A wet weather forecast can lead to water damage in your home. Contact a professional from SERVPRO of The Southtowns immediately.

Increased rain during the fall and early winter seasons in the Buffalo area often causes an increase of water damaged basements due to failed sump pumps and overwhelmed storm drains.

If you discover water damage in your home, the experts at SERVPRO of The Southtowns are Here to Help.

Time is key when it comes to stopping and restoring water damage.

SERVPRO of The Southtowns recommends these helpful tips until help arrives:

Do:

  • Remove as much excess water as possible by mopping and blotting.
  • Wipe excess water from wood furniture after removal of lamps and table top items.
  • Place aluminum foil or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpeting.

Don’t:

  • Leave wet fabrics in place; dry as soon as possible. Hang furs and leather goods to dry seperatly at room temperature.
  • Leave books, magazines or other colored items on wet carpets or floors.
  • Use TVs or other household appliances while standing on wet carpets or floors, especially not on wet concrete floors.

If you do experience water damage anywhere in your home, please call the professionals at SERVPRO of The Southtowns immediately at 716-646-6684. Time is crucial when dealing with water damage, so do not delay. 

When Time Counts, Choose the Team With the Fastest Response

12/3/2018 (Permalink)

When time is of the essence, call SERVPRO of The Southtowns to make it, "Like it never even happened".

No one plans for a disaster, but when it strikes, time is of the essence to restore and protect your property.

Our team is available 24/7, so when the sump-pump fails at 6pm or a fire strikes at 2am, our team can begin the restoration process immediately.

Once our office is contacted, our team arrives on location within four hours, guaranteed. This allows us to begin cleanup immediately and cut down on restoration costs.

SERVPRO of The Southtowns works with all major insurance companies and has long standing relationships with local adjusters to help the claim process run smoothly.

When the drain backed up at a local high school, the Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds contacted our office and a team was onsite in less then an hour. With a quick response and cooperation between all parties involved, the school was able to open it's doors for classes on schedule.

Storm Damage Specialist in Buffalo, NY

12/3/2018 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of The Southtowns is ready to help during any storm and water damage.

We're Highly Trained Storm Damage Specialists

As a leader in storm and water damage restoration, SERVPRO of The Southtowns has the specialized training and expertise to restore your home back to its pre-storm condition. Our restoration process puts an emphasis on scientific drying techniques, progress monitoring and documentation.

  • Water Damage Restoration Technician
  • Applied Structural Drying Technicians

We Have the Resources to Handle Storms and Disasters

We can access the resources and personnel of over 1,700 Franchises to handle major storms and disasters. We also have access to special Disaster Recovery Teams strategically located throughout the country to respond to catastrophic storms and events.

Locally Owned Company with National Storm Resources

We live and work in this community too; we might even be neighbors. As a locally owned and operated business, SERVPRO of The Southtowns is close by and ready to respond to your flood or storm damage emergency. We are proud to be an active member of the Buffalo community and want to do our part to make our community the best it can be.

Proper Training Makes A Difference

12/3/2018 (Permalink)

Our Training Supervisor Taylor Braun reviews best practices and techniques with the crew every Friday morning.

Training is something that is very important here at SERVPRO of The Southtowns. We believe that reviewing proper training is somthing that should be done on a regular basis.

The Training Supervisor at SERVPRO of The Southtowns, Taylor Braun, reviews water pumps with us in preparation of the rainy season. This time of year, a high volume of our customers require basement pump out and we have the equipment to perform this service. There are a  number of different types of water pumps available to pump out standing water from one inch to many inches. 

At SERVPRO of The Southtowns we are dedicated to the continuing education of our entire staff, every Friday morning we host an educational seminar for the crew and staff to review equipment use, best practices, new procedures, and upcoming industry changes.

Having a crew that is knowledgeable and confident gives our customers the best service during their times of need.  

We make water damage, "Like it never even happened".

Highly Trained Restoration Technicians to Restore Your Home

12/3/2018 (Permalink)

Proper training is key when dealing with restoring fire/water damages. It can be the key between restoring vs. replacing.

SERVPRO of The Southtowns is an IICRC firm. The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) creates the standards for the restoration industry and provides training and certification to restoration companies. IICRC Certified Firms have the right to display the IICRC Certified Logo.

IICRC Certified Firms must

• Present accurate information to consumers and conduct business with honesty and integrity.

• Require a technician on all jobs who has been formally trained and passed all required tests.

• Require a continuing education program to keep technicians up-to-date on the latest changes in the industry.

• Maintain liability insurance to protect all parties in the event of an accident.

• Maintain a written complaint policy and agree to Better Business Bureau or similar arbitration to resolve disputes, and accept the conclusions and recommendations of arbitration.

The IICRC Develops The Standards For The Restoration Industry

The IICRC has been the driving force in establishing the main industry standards and reference guides for professional carpet cleaning, water damage restoration and mold remediation. These IICRC standards take years to develop and require the coordination of experts in the field: manufacturers, industry organizations, insurance professionals, training schools, contractors, and public health professionals.

Every five years, the standards are reviewed and updated. The water damage restoration field changes rapidly with advancements in technology and science, and therefore the standards must evolve to keep pace.

About SERVPRO of The Southtowns

SERVPRO of The Southtowns specializes in the cleanup and restoration of residential and commercial property after a fire, smoke or water damage event. Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration and we are an IICRC Certified Firm. We believe in continuous training: from initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO’s corporate training facility to regular IICRC-industry certification, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property.

Think Twice Before You Plug That Space Heater In

12/3/2018 (Permalink)

Use extra caution this winter season when operating a space heater. Be sure to follow safety regulations to prevent a fire from happening.

It is that time of year when there is a chill in the air and a little extra warmth is needed. However, if not used properly space heaters can be very dangerous. Here are some great space heater safety tips to prevent a fire in your home this winter season.

Electric space heaters are generally more expensive to operate than combustion space heaters, but they are the only unvented space heaters that are safe to operate inside your home. Although electric space heaters avoid indoor air quality concerns, they still pose burn and fire hazards and should be used with caution.

1. Place heater on a hard, level surface

2. Turn heater off when you leave

3. Keep heater 3 ft. from the nearest object

4. Avoid using extension cords

5. Look for heaters with tip over and over heat protection

6. Keep heaters away from water and flammable items such as papers, blankets, and curtains. 

Educating yourself about the safety hazards that come with the improper use of portable heaters will help you achieve better peace of mind as you keep your home warm, comfortable, and fire hazard-free this winter.

Chimney Fires Cause More Damage Then You Think

12/3/2018 (Permalink)

Chimney fires account for more than $120 million in damage every year.

Did you know chimney fires account for over $120 million in damage every year? As you prepare for colder winter months, be sure to get your chimney cleaned.

If you do experience fire damage in your home, here are some Do and Don't tips: 

DO:

  • Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into upholstery and carpets.
  • Place clean towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery and carpet traffic areas until cleaning is complete.
  • Blow or brush vacuum, loose soot particles from upholstery, drapes, and carpets.
  • Wash house plants on both sides of leaves.
  • Clean and protect chrome on kitchen and bathroom faucets, trim and appliances.
  • Change HVAC filter.
  • Tape double layers of cheesecloth over air registers to prevent redistribution of soot from ducts.

DON’T:

  • Attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces.
  • Attempt to shampoo carpet or upholstery.
  • Send garments to ordinary dry cleaner. Improper cleaning may set smoke odor.

Why You Should Never Wait For Emergency Service For Your Commercial Property

12/3/2018 (Permalink)

We're always available for your commercial property. Even when the sprinklers go off at 2 am.

Did you know that after a commercial property suffers a loss from fire and/or water damage, only 50% of those companies re-open for business?

That is why we believe that when businesses are disrupted by fire, water, or bio hazard there is no time to waste.  

At our office, we will always provide prompt (usually same day) service to any commercial properties regardless of our current production schedule, even during storm time.  

Additionally, SERVPRO of The Southtowns carries liability insurance well above the industry standards based on feedback from our commercial clients 

What qualifies as "commercial"?:

Schools, Manufacturing, Industrial, Apartment Buildings, Health Care, Offices, Financial Institutions, Hospitality, Retail, Food Services, Government / Municipal, and more.

What does "Storm Time" mean?:

Storm Time is after a major local weather event, such as a cold snap, a flash of heavy rains, or a major snow storm. During these times our office can easily be fielding over 60 new calls for losses per day. During storm time we are "all hands on deck" and the entire company works around the clock. 

So if your commercial property suffers from any fire/water damage, call SERVPRO of The Southtowns at (716) 646-6684.

When Disaster Strikes, Time is Key

11/19/2018 (Permalink)

Time is of the essence when dealing with fire or water damage.

Whether its fire, water or mold damage time is KEY. In order to protect your home and belongings from further damage, immediate action is best. That’s where SERVPRO of The Southtowns comes in. Our professional, highly trained technicians know how to strategically begin to mitigation process to prevent further damage and protect/restore what’s important to you.

SERVPRO of The Southtowns is conveniently located in the village of Hamburg and a crew is ALWAYS on call to respond to your disaster. Once our office is notified of your loss, a certified technician will arrive onsite within an hour to begin assessing the damage. Within four hours a crew will have arrived onsite and the mitigation process will begin. From there our crew will put together a drying plan and communicate that information to the insurance adjuster/agent so that everyone is on the same page.

Our fleet of 17 trucks are ready to roll out at any time of day. So when disaster strikes, SERVPRO of The Southtowns will be ready to take action! We truly are faster to any size disaster. Should you experience fire or water damage, call our office immediately at (716) 646-6684.

Community Matters To Us

11/16/2018 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of The Southtowns has been an active role in the Hamburg Community since 1995.

Lyn and Thom Braun have owned and operated SERVPRO of The Southtowns since 1995 and believe in being an active role in their local community. SERVPRO of The Southtowns has been a member of both BOMA and the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce for the last 6 years. Our Marketing Manager Emily M. currently sits as the Treasurer for the BOMA Board and has recently accepted the role of Chair Elect for the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce. We are also members of several other organizations that support different groups in our community. 

Each year we participate in several local events in support of our community such as the Hamburg Village Halloween Parade, supporting the Hamburg Farmers Market and donating to local charities. So when you come home to a burst pipe or heaven forbid a fire, call the people that you know and trust. Call the professionals at SERVPRO of The Southtowns at (716) 646-6684 to make it, “Like it never even happened.”

Restore Vs. Replace: Why Having a Professional Matters

11/14/2018 (Permalink)

SERVPRO can be the difference between hundreds of dollars of cleaning vs. thousands of dollars of replacement.

A general misconception among people that have suffered fire and/or water damage is that, “It is less expensive to replace rather than to restore.” However, professional technicians at SERVPRO of The Southtowns are trained to see beyond the misconceptions. Our certified technicians know that prioritizing mitigation and restoration efforts will not only stop further damage and reduce the loss, but also prevent secondary damage from occurring.

Having a professional on scene to assess the damage quickly can be the key difference between hundreds of dollars of cleaning vs. thousands of dollars of replacement. The mitigation process of cleaning yields excellent results at a cost-effective price. Mitigation stops further damage and reduces the loss, while restoration puts the damaged items back to their preloss condition. For ultimate results, mitigation needs to begin within twenty-four hours of a loss. Any delay will complicate or, may devalue the mitigation effort.

Our SERVPRO professionals utilize testing and measuring equipment to ensure that the moisture content has been returned to normal standards. Thus, preventing a multi-thousand dollar mold claim in the future, caused by ineffective drying. State-of-the-art meters and sensors allow us to document and record data that justifies equipment usage, as well as allow us to know when to safely remove it. Only the professionals at SERVPRO of The Southtowns can make it, “Like It Never Even Happened”.

When Mold Strikes: Real Estate Edition

10/31/2018 (Permalink)

Mold can hinder the process of selling a home. Take action fast and let the professionals at SERVPRO of The Southtowns handle it.

Are you looking to list a home or property soon and discovered mold? SERVPRO of The Southtowns can help! Recently, our Sales and Marketing Representative Jocelin gave a short presentation to a real estate office in East Aurora. She explained that mold spores are everywhere, because they are airborne. In fact, there are an uncountable number of mold spores. An Institute of Medicine study found that excessive dampness indoors is a public health problem by encouraging growth of molds, dust mites and other organisms. This makes sense since mold needs three things to survive:

  • Moisture
  • Heat
  • Food Source

Therefore, if you find mold in your home it is important to call the professionals at SERVPRO of The Southtowns to remove it properly. Simply spraying bleach on the mold and scrubbing it will not work. Our technicians are certified and trained to come in and remove the moisture from the air, clean the mold off the surface with the appropriate cleaning agent and remove the mold spores from the air. Thus, preventing any future mold growth.

Prior to listing a home or property, SERVPRO of The Southtowns recommends the following steps that can be taken to reduce the potential for moisture buildup or mold growth:

  • Correct any water leaks and remove any standing water. This includes water under cooking coils or air handling units.
  • Ensure a ventilation system is installed and working properly.
  • Ensure exhaust fans are operating properly.
  • Run a dehumidifier if moisture lingers.

NYS Mold Remediation Certifications

10/31/2018 (Permalink)

NYS Mold Certifications

The Department's new Mold Program, which is responsible for enforcing Article 32 of the New York State Labor Law, establishes licensing requirements and minimum work standards for professionals engaged in mold assessment and remediation. There are three main components to the new law:

  1. Training: The Mold Program will protect consumers by requiring contractors to obtain appropriate training prior to being licensed to perform mold assessment, remediation or abatement services.
  2. Licensing: Contractors will not be allowed to advertise or perform covered work without the required license, with limited exceptions such as home or business owners performing work on their own properties.
  3. Minimum Work Standards: The Mold Program also establishes new minimum work standards for mold assessments and remediation activities by licensed professionals, including:
    • Protection against fraud by prohibiting the performance of both the assessment and remediation on the same property by the same individual;
    • Protection against fraud by requiring an independent mold assessment to define the scope of the remediation work;
    • Identification of disinfectant products, consistent with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards;
    • Provision of personal protection equipment to employees, as necessary;
    • Posted notice of the project and the contractor's licenses; and
    • Completion of a post-remediation assessment.

https://labor.ny.gov/workerprotection/safetyhealth/mold/mold-program.shtm 

SERVPRO® of The Southtowns is certified and compliant with the new NYS Mold Remediation requirements

Picture This

9/24/2018 (Permalink)

In order to prevent further damage to your belongings, call SERVPRO of The Southtowns IMMEDIATELY after a fire.

Picture this; you have just entered your home after a fire. There is black soot EVERYWHERE making the house feel dark and cold. There is a horrible odor that has permeated the entire house. Your life is in chaos as you try to figure out where to go from here.

That’s when your instincts kick in. Every day you clean your kitchen table, its routine, which is now covered in black soot. You rush to underneath your sink and pull out your trusty bottle of cleaner, and begin to clean your kitchen table because it is all you know what to do at this moment.

This is the WORST thing you could possible do! There are different types of soot, each requiring its own special cleaning process. Should you experience a fire this year, please call the professionals at SERVPRO of The Southtowns IMMEDIATELY to begin the fire restoration process.

While you wait for help you can:

  • Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into upholstery and carpets.
  • Keep hands clean. Soot on hands can further spoil upholstery, walls, and woodwork.
  • Place old towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery, drapes, and carpets.

Fire damage can be devastating. Let the professionals at SERVPRO of The Southtowns make it “Like It Never Even Happened”. 

You Should Never Need An Umbrella Inside

9/24/2018 (Permalink)

It's not a good sign when an umbrella is needed inside.

It’s never a good day when you need to use the umbrella inside! This local, Buffalo warehouse suffered water damage after a leak in the roof dumped water onto stacked and boxed inventory. The Property Manager knew to call SERVPRO of The Southtowns immediately, and within an hour our crew was onsite, ready to assess the situation and begin mitigation.  

When our trucks arrived on scene there was already between 1 and 2 inches of water in some areas. Our crew began extracting the standing water, while our Production Manager worked with the Property Manager on the best way to remove the boxed inventory to a dry area. From there our crew would use fans and dehumidifiers to dry out the inventory.

Due to quick action, we were able to save the inventory, and production never had to stop. If your commercial space experiences water damage, give the experts at SERVPRO of The Southtowns a call at (716) 646-6684 to get you back on track and make it “Like It Never Even Happened”.  

New York Insurance CONTINUING EDUCATION

9/14/2018 (Permalink)

Insurance CE class sponsored by SERVPRO of The Southtowns

Topic:  “Property Fire & Smoke Damage Mitigation & Restoration”

Presented By:  Robkat, Inc.

Provider # NYPO-100256

Course # NYCR-259586

Date:  November 1, 2018

Class Time:   9:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Location:  Butera’s

32 Main Ave.       

Hamburg, NY 14075

Credit:  3 hours for PC and BR Licenses

Robkat course fee: $60.00 (Fee waived by SERVPRO)

Complimentary Breakfast Included (8:30 AM – 9:00 AM)

What Will You Learn?

  • The material costs of fire damage losses in the State of New York.
  • Cause of fires and preventative measures.
  • The effect of fire and smoke on structure surfaces and contents.
  • The factors that determine restoration and salvage.
  • The testing processes necessary to determine restoration vs. replacement.
  • The processes utilized to restore smoke-damaged walls, floors, hardwood, and carpet. & fabrics
  • When ancillary services, including move-outs, dry cleaning, duct cleaning, and specialty restoration processes, are required.
  • How to deal with the in-shock, difficult, or uncooperative insured.
  • How commercial Disaster Recovery and Emergency Response plans can reduce fire loss costs for both insurance carrier and insured.

Register today by emailing Jocelin @ sales@SERVPROthesouthtowns.com with your licence information. 

Get The FASTEST Service For Your Commercial Property

6/22/2018 (Permalink)

Never wait for emergency restoration service at your commercial property again.

When a fire, biohazard or water damage happens to your WNY property there is ZERO time to waste. It is important to begin the restoration immediately not only to save your property, but to make sure your business is up and running as soon as possible.

Our office will ALWAYS provide prompt (usually same day) service to any commercial properties regardless of our current production schedule, even during storm time. In fact, in most cases we have someone onsite within an hour to begin assessing the situation. Additionally, SERVPRO of The Southtowns carries liability insurance well above the industry standards based on feedback from our commercial clients.

So what exactly qualifies as commercial properties? A few examples would be: Schools, Manufacturing, Industrial, Apartment Buildings, Health Care, Offices, Financial Institutions, Hospitality, Retail, Food Services, Government/Municipal and more!

So if disaster strikes at your commercial property, give the experts at SERVPRO of The Southtowns a call at (716)646-6684.

The Causes of Mold In Your Home

6/20/2018 (Permalink)

Possible cause of mold

When customers call us wanting to get rid of the mold in their home, we often ask them what caused the mold to be there. This is an important question, because if the cause of the mold growth is not fixed, then mold will return after the mold remediation is completed.

There are many different reasons that could cause mold to grow. By failing to get to the root of the problem, mold will most definitely come back.

There are many different types of mold. Mold is essentially all around us. It is indoors, outdoors, settled on materials and in the air. Mold can transfer from place to place by spores wafting around in the air or being transferred via clothing or other items. Mold growth thrives in moist damp areas.

In order to stop mold growth in your home, it is important to follow these recommendations:

  • Keep doors and windows closed during times when the mold count outside is high.
  • Make sure your windows, doors and roofs are not allowing moisture into the home. These are places in the home that often allow water into the home causing mold problems.
  • Make sure your basement is properly sealed and ground water is not settling inside of your home.
  • Ensure that your home is exhausting and ventilated appropriately. Often people find that their bathroom exhaust fan is not ventilating properly and the moisture is getting stuck in the attic space causing mold to grow. Likewise, a dryer vent may be exhausting into a crawlspace rather than all the way to an outside area.
  • Check your pipes and drains to ensure that water is not leaking from these areas.

If you have an area of your home that gets a lot of moisture that cannot be fixed correctly or may be too costly, consider putting a dehumidifier in that area to draw extra moisture out of the air. You may want to consult with someone with knowledge about different types of dehumidifiers do see what kind would best work in the space you are drying to dehumidify.

If you should have more questions on this topic, please feel free to call our office at 716-646-6684 and ask to speak to someone who can further assist you. We would be happy to help!

Concrobium Mold Stain Remover

6/20/2018 (Permalink)

Concrobium Mold Stain Remover

Mold staining can remain on surfaces affected by mold even after the mold has been removed. Concrobium Mold Stain Remover is one of the products that we often use on mold projects for stain removal. This product is designed to effectively eliminate mold staining. This stain remover removes the toughest mold staining and separates mold from the surface for remediation. Once the concrobium has been applied, we let it dry and begin HEPA vacuuming and wiping affected surfaces. 

This solution is safe for use in homes, hospitals, schools, commercial and industrial buildings. The stain remover works on hard, non-porous or semi-porous surfaces such as wood and composite wood, concrete, masonry, drywall, grout, fiberglass, tile, plastic, laminate, metal and fabric.

The Concrobium Mold Stain Remover has a slight odor which will dissipate within a couple hours of usage. Due to the odor, it is important that this product is used in a well ventilated area.

Should you have questions as to whether or not this product could be used on a project you have, feel free to call our office at 716-646-6684 and speak to someone about our Concrobium Mold Stain Remover.

Beware of Gaps In Your Insurance Policy

6/19/2018 (Permalink)

There could be gaps hidden inside your homeowner's insurance policy.

A Homeowners Insurance policy gives you protection for the actual structure of the home, valuables inside, and your family. However, are you aware that there could be gaps in your policy leaving you paying out of pocket for disasters such as a sump-pump back up or failure, or even flood damage?

It’s true, these types of coverage are not included in your basic homeowner’s policy and require a separate addition in order to provide proper coverage. So what should you do? First, dust off a copy of your policy (or ask your local agent to send you a new one) and check to see if you have an endorsement for Sewers and Drains. This endorsement will give you coverage (generally up to $10,000) if the sump-pump backs up or fails, and floods the basement.

 Worried about an actual flood destroying the basement and part of the house? Not a problem, flood insurance is not part of a homeowner’s policy, but may be purchases separately through FEMA. Actual flood insurance can be expensive, so generally people who live in a flood zone purchase flood insurance.

However, if you find that you do not have an endorsement for Sewers and Drains or Flood insurance don’t stress. Simply talk with your local insurance agent and they will be able to help add that on to your existing policy. It takes just a few minutes to make sure your properly covered, and will save you thousands should you ever experience water damage from a sump-pump failure or back-up.

"This Feels Dry" Common Misconception

6/19/2018 (Permalink)

This water meter is just one of several tools we use to ensure things are actually dry.

After experiencing water damage you most likely have started to remove as much water as possible and begun the drying out process. After some time, you notice things appear to be drying and think, “This feels dry. I don’t need to call someone to do it for me. I’m saving money by doing it myself.”

This is the BIGGEST mistake homeowners make. The truth is even though things feel dry, they actually may still be wet, leading to more damage. When items are not dried properly, the effects of the damage can be more costly than if a professional had dried them. Within minutes water seeps into the floors, walls, upholstery and belongings. If not dried fully and properly there can be several damaging and costly effects. Such as:

  • The drywall may begin to swell and brake down.
  • Furniture begins to swell and crack.
  • Dyes and ink from cloth and paper goods spread and stain.
  • Mold and mildew may grow and spread.
  • Door, windows and studs swell and warp.
  • Paint begins to blister.
  • Wood flooring swells and warps.
  • Serious biohazard containment is possible.

The professionals at SERVPRO of The Southtowns utilize special equipment to ensure EVERYTHING is dry. Our trained technicians use thermal imaging cameras and water meter sensors to detect water that is unseen. So next time you experience water damage don’t make the mistake of leaving moisture behind. Call the experts at SERVPRO of The Southtowns to make sure the job is done right the first time.

Essential Emergency Apps For When Disaster Strikes

6/19/2018 (Permalink)

These 5 Apps could be life savers in an emergency situation.

Our cellphone devices have become an essential in our day to day lives. We use them for planning out our schedules, keeping in touch with friends and family, and even to get the daily news. There really is an App for everything, including Apps that could help you during a disaster or emergency. Here are five useful Apps that will help during an emergency.

  1. ubAlert

This App is a global social network where users share alerts about disasters (both natural and man-made). People can post what they are experiencing first hand as the disaster unfolds.

  1. Official FEMA App

Use this app to arrange a meeting spot with your family, find an interactive emergency kit, and learn basic disaster safety tips.

  1. Life 360 Family Finder

This app lets you and your family members’ share your exact location at all times. You can turn off the location feature when there is no emergency and use the chat to stay in touch.

  1. !Emergency!

If you travel outside the country this app is ESSENTIAL. Don’t know where the nearest embassy is? Haven’t memorized the equivalent for 911, police or other medical services in the country you are visiting? Not a problem because this app will do it all for you.

  1. Winter Survival Kit

A perfect app designed for WNY winters. This app details what you should keep in your car and notifies emergency services for you. It even alerts you to turn off the car every 30 mins to check the exhaust pipe for snow build up, protecting against carbon monoxide poisoning.

https://mashable.com/2013/10/07/storms-emergency-apps/#NegV8q1Akiqc

Will Your Business Recover?

6/19/2018 (Permalink)

According to latest industry research, as many as 50% of businesses may never recover following a disaster.

According to latest industry research, as many as 50% of businesses may never recover following a disaster.

SERVPRO of The Southtowns wants your business to be one of the businesses that DOES recover. The Emergency Ready Profile is a concise Profile Document that contains critical information needed in the event of an emergency and allows you to get back into your building faster following a disaster. The Emergency Ready Profile Advantage

A guide to help you get back into your building following a disaster - Help minimize the amount of time your business is inactive by having an immediate plan of action

Identification of line of command for authorizing work to begin - Saving time so      mitigation of damage can begin quickly which can save you money

Provides facility details such as shut-off valve locations, priority areas and priority contacts - Giving a quick reference of what to do, how to do it, and who to call providing a proactive solution so that during an emergency you are “Ready for whatever happens”

A No Cost assessment of your facility - Giving you peace of mind as well as a great  value at no cost by not having to allocate funds.

You can be ruined or you can be ready. The best way to reduce business interruption following a disaster is to plan for it NOW.  Be ready for any size disaster. Give yourself the peace of mind knowing you have a solution in place.

When Fire Disaster Strikes: Why You Should Never Clean Up After A Fire

6/19/2018 (Permalink)

There are different types of smoke, each requiring a different cleaning method.

After experiencing a fire it may be tempting to start the clean-up yourself immediately. However, this is one of the biggest mistakes a homeowner can make. There are two types of smoke, wet and dry, and each type may greatly affect the restoration process.

Wet smoke is caused from plastic and rubber burning. It smolders at a low heat, has a very pungent odor, and is often sticky and smeary. With wet smoke, smoke webs are more difficult to clean.

Dry smoke is caused from paper and wood. The fire is fast burning and burns at a high temperature. Heat rises, therefore the smoke rises as well leaving soot on everything in its path.

Protein fire residue, which is produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire, may also be present after a fire. This residue is virtually invisible and discolors paint and varnishes. Like wet smoke, it also has an extreme pungent odor.

SERVPRO of The Southtowns will test the soot to determine which type of smoke damaged occurred, and then develop a comprehensive plan of action to restore your home. Since each smoke and fire damage situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored for the specific conditions.  We have the equipment, expertise, and experience to restore your fire and smoke damage.  We will also treat your family with empathy and respect and your property with care.

Restoring Your Commercial Property After A Water Damage Event

6/19/2018 (Permalink)

Commercial Water Damage Events Present Unique Challenges.

Flooding and water damage events in Buffalo, NY commercial properties are often complex with numerous issues that require a knowledgeable and flexible response. Whether we’re dealing with a relatively small water cleanup scenario or a large scale event, we work quickly to assess each unique situation and isolate the damaged area. In many instances, normal operations can continue in a temporary space while we restore your facility.

Restoring Commercial Properties Presents Unique Challenges

Our professionals are trained to be mindful of legal and environmental concerns and strive to fully restore the damaged area while working within your budgetary constraints. We understand that every hour spent cleaning up is an hour of lost revenue and productivity. So when an emergency situation arises in your business, give us a call and we’ll be there fast with the help you need.

About SERVPRO of The Southtowns

SERVPRO of The Southowns specializes in the cleanup and restoration of commercial and residential property after a water damage event. Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration. From initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO’s corporate training facility to regular IICRC-industry certification, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property.

Count On Our Highly Trained Technicians To Restore Your Home After A Major Storm

6/19/2018 (Permalink)

You can count on the SERVPRO of The Southtowns family to be there for you. Even after a major storm.

SERVPRO of The Southtowns is an IICRC firm. The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) creates the standards for the restoration industry and provides training and certification to restoration companies. IICRC Certified Firms have the right to display the IICRC Certified Logo.

IICRC Certified Firms must

• Present accurate information to consumers and conduct business with honesty and integrity.

• Require a technician on all jobs who has been formally trained and passed all required tests.

• Require a continuing education program to keep technicians up-to-date on the latest changes in the industry.

• Maintain liability insurance to protect all parties in the event of an accident.

• Maintain a written complaint policy and agree to Better Business Bureau or similar arbitration to resolve disputes, and accept the conclusions and recommendations of arbitration.

The IICRC Develops The Standards For The Restoration Industry

The IICRC has been the driving force in establishing the main industry standards and reference guides for professional carpet cleaning, water damage restoration and mold remediation. These IICRC standards take years to develop and require the coordination of experts in the field: manufacturers, industry organizations, insurance professionals, training schools, contractors, and public health professionals.

Every five years, the standards are reviewed and updated. The water damage restoration field changes rapidly with advancements in technology and science, and therefore the standards must evolve to keep pace.

About SERVPRO of The Southtowns

SERVPRO of The Southtowns specializes in the cleanup and restoration of residential and commercial property after a fire, smoke or water damage event. Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration and we are an IICRC Certified Firm. We believe in continuous training: from initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO’s corporate training facility to regular IICRC-industry certification, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property.

The Three Warning Signs of Mold

5/25/2018 (Permalink)

Mold can have several negative effects on your health and home. Know the general warning signs!

Mold can have several negative effects on your health, as well as cause an enormous amount of property damage. Knowing the warning signs of mold is not only important for your family’s health, but for saving money in potential property damage as well. There are generally three major warning signs of mold:

  1. Strange Odors

If mold is present, you will notice a musty smell. However, this smell is often not noticeable until you leave the room and return. This is due to your nose adjusting to the odor of the mold. If you notice that the smell is worse when the air conditioning or heat is on, there could be a mold problem in the HVAC system, air conditioner or heater. If you do notice a musty smell in your home, it’s important to look for signs of water damage (because it could lead to mold).

  1. Past Flooding

If your home has suffered from past flooding, there could be a chance that mold may be growing in those areas. Mold survives off of moisture, heat and a food source. So, if there was previous water damage and it was not dried properly, there is a chance mold could be growing in those affected areas.

  1. Health Symptoms

Mold can have many negative effects on your health. Such as:

  • Asthma
  • Sore Eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Sore Throat

People often attribute these symptoms to colds or allergies. However, a good indicator that mold is the cause is if symptoms go away once leaving the home. Also, a good indicator that these symptoms are caused by mold is if multiple people in the home are suffering them.  

Should you notice any of these signs, please give our office a call at (716) 646-6684 to begin the mold remediation process immediately.

http://blacktoxicmolds.com/mold-signs.php

What To Do Until Help Arrives...Water Damage Edition

5/25/2018 (Permalink)

Time is KEY when it comes to water damage, so utilize these helpful tips until help arrives. These tips will help prevent further damage to your valuables and home. But, remember only a professional at SERVPRO of The Southtowns can ensure that your home is dried fully and properly.  

DO:

  • Remove as much excess water as possible by mopping and blotting.
  • Wipe excess water from wood furniture after removal of laps and table top items.
  • Remove and prop wet upholstery and pillow cushions for even drying.
  • Place aluminum foil or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpeting.
  • Turn air conditioning on for maximum drying in summer.
  • Remove oriental rugs or other colored rugs from wet wall-to-wall carpeting.
  • Remove valuable paintings and art objects to a safe, dry place.
  • Open and place luggage in sunlight to dry, if possible.
  • Gather loose items, toys etc. from floors.

DON”T:

  • Leave wet fabrics in place; dry as soon as possible. Hang furs and leather good to dry separately at room temperature.
  • Leave books, magazines, or other colored items on wet carpets or floors.
  • Use your household vacuum to remove water.
  • Use TV or other household appliances while standing on wet carpets or floors. Especially not on wet concrete floors.
  • Turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet, and keep out of rooms where ceilings are sagging from retained water.

Lunch & Learn Seminar 2018

5/25/2018 (Permalink)

This month SERVPRO of The Southtowns hosted a Lunch & Learn Seminar covering the topics of “Property Water Damage Restoration & Emergency Planning for the Commercial Market”. This event was held at the Black Iron Bystro in Blasdell, NY. Guest enjoyed a specialty prepared lunch curtsey of Chef Bryan, and learned about topics such as:

  • The material costs of water damage losses.
  • The effect of water on structure surfaces and contents.
  • Psychometrics, the science of drying.
  • The factors and testing processes that determine restoration and salvage.
  • The testing processes necessary to determine restorations vs. replacement.
  • When ancillary services, including duct cleaning and specialty restoration processes, are required.
  • How commercial Disaster Recovery and Emergency Response plans can reduce fire and water loss costs for both the insurance company and the property owner/manager.

What made this event so special was the intimate setting, allowing guests to participate in an engaging conversation. If you have any questions about any of these topics concerning your commercial space, please give our office a call at (716) 646-6684

How Much Time You Have When Water Damage Is Found

4/12/2018 (Permalink)

Even hardwood floors may be salvaged.

If a pipe bursts or a water line begins to leak, the damage starts immediately. It is important to start the mitigation and drying process as soon as possible. Here is a timeline to show just how invasive and devastating water damage can be.

Water Damage Timeline

Within Minutes

  • Water quickly spreads throughout your property, saturating everything in its path.
  • Water is absorbed into walls, floors, upholstery, and belongings.
  • Furniture finishes may bleed, causing permanent staining on carpets.
  • Photographs, books, and other paper goods start to swell and warp.

Hours 1 - 24:

  • Drywall begins to swell and break down.
  • Metal surfaces begin to tarnish.
  • Furniture begins to swell and crack.
  • Dyes and inks from cloth and paper goods spread and stain.
  • A musty odor appears.

48 Hours to 1 Week:

  • Mold and mildew may grow and spread.
  • Doors, windows, and studs swell and warp.
  • Metal begins to rust and corrode.
  • Furniture warps and shows signs of mold.
  • Paint begins to blister.
  • Wood flooring swells and warps.
  • Serious biohazard contamination is possible.

More Than 1 Week:

  • Restoration time and cost increase dramatically; replacing contaminated materials and structural rebuilding may be extensive.
  • Structural safety, mold growth, and biohazard contaminants pose serious risks to occupants.

What To Do If There Is Mold In Your Apartment, Home Or Business

4/11/2018 (Permalink)

In the short time of 48 hours, water from a roof or water line leak may cause a mold growth problem in your home or business. Not only can mold cause significant damage to your property, but it may have sever health effects as well. Children, the elderly and people with respiratory problems may be at a greater risk when exposed to mold.

Eradicating a mold issue takes specialized equipment, proper training and protective gear. SERVPRO of The Southtowns is the one place that has them ALL. If you do suspect a mold problem in your home or business, it’s important to remember safety. Significant mold growth can occur between 48-72 hours.

If you suspect a mold problem call SERVPRO of The Southtowns at 716-646-6684 IMMEDIATELY.

Here are a few tips on what to do until help arrives.

What To Do:

  • Stay out of effected areas.
  • Turn off the HVAC system and fans.
  • Contact the professionals at SERVPRO of The Southtowns for mold remediation services

We Have So Much More To Offer...

4/11/2018 (Permalink)

We offer several other services besides Fire and Water Mitigation and Restoration!

Sure you know SERVPRO of The Southtowns for Fire Restoration and Water Mitigation. Because unfortunetly, fire damage happens when you least expect it and sprinklers and pipes brake at 2 am. But did you know SERVPRO of The Southtowns can help you with so much MORE?

We’re talking:

Mold Remediation-Because spraying bleach does NOT kill mold!

Biohazard Cleanup-Yes we’re talking about blood, crime scene and sewage.

Post Construction Cleaning-Because construction is a dirty job.

Catastrophic Storm Response-Hurricanes, Blizzards, Tornadoes, Oh my!

Environmental and Hazmat Services-Spills happen, we clean it up.

Document Restoration-For when that storage area, where all the files are kept, is underwater.

Odor Identification and Restoration-When you start avoiding a room because of the smell.

Move Out and Content Inventory-For when contents need to be packed up and moved after a loss.

Did You Know Soot Damaged Documents Can Be Restored?

4/11/2018 (Permalink)

Even soot damaged documents can be restored!

The file room is one place where you never want to have fire or water damage, but when distaster strikes SERVPRO of The Southtowns can restore important documents to a usable condition to keep your business running smoothly. 

These are medial documents at a doctors office where a small fire caused a great deal of soot damage. We are HEPA compliant and were able to deodorize and restore these documents while keeping the files in compliance. 

As experts in deodorization, SERVPRO of The Southtowns is trained to identify and eliminate offensive odors. These odors can come from a number of sources both inside and outside a structure.

SERVPRO teaches IICRC technical classes in the proper removal of odors. Masking and other short cuts don't work when your odor problem is serious or persistent.

We have the training and equipment to identify and eliminate these offensive odors. By identifying the cause of the odor and determining the conditions in which it contact any surfaces, the odor can often be removed over time without a trace. Our technicians have access to several odor removal products capable of penetrating surfaces to neutralize an unpleasant odor thoroughly.

The science of identifying and eliminating odors can be a tricky thing, so give us a call, and leave the restoration to us.

Debunking a Major Misconception

3/9/2018 (Permalink)

Having a professional on scene to assess the damage quickly can be the difference between hundreds of dollars vs. thousands of dollars

A general misconception among people that have suffered fire and/or water damage is that, "It is less expensive to replace rather than to restore." However, professional technicians at SERVPRO of The Southtowns are trained to see beyond the misconceptions. 

The mitigation process of cleaning yields excellent results at a cost-effective price. Mitigation stops further damage and reduces the loss, while restoration puts the damaged items back to their preloss condition. For ultimate results, mitigation needs to begin within twenty-four hours of a loss. Any delay will complicate or, may devalue the mitigation effort. In order to guarantee the removal of smoke odor, all of the contaminated areas need to be cleaned, deodorized and possibly sealed (where applicable). Also, all odor molecules, whether airborne or absorbed, need to be neutralized.


Our SERVPRO professionals utilize testing and measuring equipment to ensure that the moisture content has been returned to normal standards. Thus, preventing a multi-thousand dollar mold claim in the future, caused by ineffective drying. State-of-the-art meters and sensors allow us to document and record data that justifies equipment usage, as well as allow us to know when to safely remove it.


Only the professionals at SERVPRO of The Southtowns can make it "Like it never even happened."

Valuable Tips for Filing an Insurance Claim for Water Damage

3/8/2018 (Permalink)

Having to file a claim from water damage is something that is never expected.

Having water damage is never something expected. Coming home to a house filled with water can be a traumatic experience. It can be hard to think about the appropriate steps to take to resolve the issue as quickly as possible to limit secondary damage and keep the out of pocket cost to a minimum. Below are some tips to help make filing an insurance claim easier.

Something to Know:

Every insurance policy is different. Therefore, what will be covered may only be determined by reading your policy or calling your insurance agent/insurance company to have them determine coverage. 

Knowledge is Power:

Be sure you know who your insurance company is and how to contact them. You may want to list the phone number for your insurance company on your refrigerator for easy access. You could also add your insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number to your cell phone to have ready at all times. You never know when this information is going to be important. 

Stay Calm:

This experience can be upsetting. It's important to stay calm when you are talking to your insurance company so they can ask all the essential questions to set up your claim and get the ball rolling. 

Take Pictures:

Document the situation every step of the way to help your insurance company understand the full extent of the damage. Take pictures of every room that sustained damage, structural materials affected and personal items. These pictures will help your adjuster understand the full picture of what happened and what will be involved in restoring your house and the contents affected.

Ask Questions:

Resolving the water damage issue can be very confusing. Feel free to ask as many questions as you can think of to your insurance company so that you understand what will happen next every step of the way. It's important to know what your roles are and what your insurance company will be doing for you.

Use a company with IICRC Certified Technicians:

While there are many companies that may be willing to help you clean up from your water damage, it is important to utilize a company that has technicians who have been trained to properly perform mitigation. SERVPRO prides itself on the fact that our technicians are IICRC certified. Our technicians go through on-the-job training and complete IICRC training so that we can keep up with the latest techniques and technologies to dry your home out quickly to eliminate further damage. Education and training is very important to satisfying our customers. http://www.IICRC.org/education-certification/ 

 

What To Do After A Pipe Bursts

1/19/2018 (Permalink)

The steps you take after a pipe burst are critical. Time matters when it comes to water damage.

This has been the coldest winter on record in twenty-two years, and it’s only January. Therefore, it is no surprise that we have seen an increase in calls regarding frozen and burst pipes. Tips on how to prevent your home’s pipes from freezing have been all over the media (including the news, our blog and social media), but what should you do if a pipe actually bursts? Here are four helpful tips that you should follow if you experience a burst pipe this winter.

  1. Shut off the main water valve immediately- This step is critical, as it stops the flooding at its source. Make sure you know where your main water shut off valve is. Pro tip: try tagging the shut off valve so it is easy to spot.
  2. Turn off the electric supply- This only applies if the main electrical is not wet. Never touch the electric if you are not sure, call an electrician instead. Do not turn on any TV’s or ceiling fixtures.
  3. Call a professional to begin mitigation right away- Time is key when it comes to water damage and restoring personal items. You can create a barrier between wet carpet and furniture with aluminum foil to prevent further damage until help arrives.
  4. Remove undamaged items from the affected area- To prevent further damage to removable items, take them out of the affected area and allow them to begin drying.

Should you come home to a burst pipe this winter, give the experts at SERVPRO of The Southtowns a call at 716-646-6684 to begin mitigation immediately, and truly make it “Like it never even happened.”

Six Simple Tips For Staying Warm Without Turning Up The Thermostat

1/4/2018 (Permalink)

The subzero temperatures are bad enough, now National Fuel has asked homes and businesses to turn down the thermostat by five degrees. While we can’t help with the low fuel crisis, we can give you some helpful tips on how to stay warm this winter that won’t require you to turn up the heat.

  • Warm yourself up first-It is easier to change your body temperature than it is to change the temperature of the room. Not to mention it is more eco-friendly. So put another layer of clothing on before you consider turning up the thermostat.
  • Wear a hat-You lose heat from any surface that is exposed, that includes your head. Putting a hat on helps keep in body heat, even if you are inside.
  • Turn on the ceiling fan-Warm air rises, so turn on the ceiling fan at the lowest setting (in a clockwise direction) to push the warm air back down and help circulate it through the room.
  • Use a pool noodle to help block door drafts-Simply cut the noodle in half lengthwise, wrap it in fabric and slide it under the door. It helps keep the cold air out, and the warm air in.
  • Change up your curtains-By replacing your thin curtains with a thicker curtain, such as wool or fleece, they will help hold in more warm air. Remember to keep your curtains open on a sunny day to let more heat in, and keep them closed at night to keep that heat trapped inside.
  • Properly layer your covers-The big, fluffy blankets should be closer to your skin, and thin dense blankets should be layered on top to prevent heat from escaping.

Give these tips a try, and let us know what you think of them on our Facebook page @SERVPROofTheSouthtowns.

How to Never Wait for Emergency Service

11/30/2017 (Permalink)

Fastest service for all commercial losses

We believe that when businesses are disrupted by fire, water, or bio hazard there is no time to waste.  

At our office, we will always provide prompt (usually same day) service to any commercial properties regardless of our current production schedule, even during storm time.  

Additionally, SERVPRO of The Southtowns carries liability insurance well above the industry standards based on feedback from our commercial clients 

What qualifies as "commercial"?:

Schools, Manufacturing, Industrial, Apartment Buildings, Health Care, Offices, Financial Institutions, Hospitality, Retail, Food Services, Government / Municipal, and more.

What does "Storm Time" mean?:

Storm Time is after a major local weather event, such as a cold snap, a flash of heavy rains, or a major snow storm. During these times our office can easily be fielding over 60 new calls for losses per day. During storm time we are "all hands on deck" and the entire company works around the clock. 

Space Heater Safety Tips

11/30/2017 (Permalink)

Space Heater Safety Tips

It is going to be cold in WNY for the next week, here are some great space heater safety tips to prevent fires.

Electric space heaters are generally more expensive to operate than combustion space heaters, but they are the only unvented space heaters that are safe to operate inside your home. Although electric space heaters avoid indoor air quality concerns, they still pose burn and fire hazards and should be used with caution.

1. Place heater on a hard, level surface

2. Turn heater off when you leave

3. Keep heater 3 ft. from the nearest object

4. Avoid using extension cords

5. Look for heaters with tip over and over heat protection

6. Keep heaters away from water and flammable items such as papers, blankets, and curtains. 

Educating yourself about the safety hazards that come with the improper use of portable heaters will help you achieve better peace of mind as you keep your home warm, comfortable, and fire hazard-free this winter.

When Rain Is In the Forecast...

11/29/2017 (Permalink)

Time is key when dealing with water damage. The experts at SERVPRO of The Southtowns are "Here to Help."

Increased rain during the fall and spring season in Buffalo often causes an increase of water damaged basements due to failed sump pumps and overwhelmed storm drains.

If you discover water damage in your home, the experts at SERVPRO of The Southtowns are Here to Help.

Time is key when it comes to stopping and restoring water damage.

SERVPRO of The Southtowns recommends these helpful tips until help arrives:

Do:

  • Remove as much excess water as possible by mopping and blotting.
  • Wipe excess water from wood furniture after removal of lamps and table top items.
  • Place aluminum foil or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpeting.

Don’t:

  • Leave wet fabrics in place; dry as soon as possible. Hang furs and leather goods to dry seperatly at room temperature.
  • Leave books, magazines or other colored items on wet carpets or floors.
  • Use TVs or other household appliances while standing on wet carpets or floors, especially not on wet concrete floors.

Chimney Fires Cause Over $120 Million in Damage

11/29/2017 (Permalink)

Chimney fires account for over $120 million in damage every year.

Did you know chimney fires account for over $120 million in damage every year? As you prepare for colder winter months, be sure to get your chimney cleaned.

If you do experience fire damage in your home, here are some Do and Don't tips: 

DO:

  • Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into upholstery and carpets.
  • Place clean towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery and carpet traffic areas until cleaning is complete.
  • Blow or brush vacuum, loose soot particles from upholstery, drapes, and carpets.
  • Wash house plants on both sides of leaves.
  • Clean and protect chrome on kitchen and bathroom faucets, trim and appliances.
  • Change HVAC filter.
  • Tape double layers of cheesecloth over air registers to prevent redistribution of soot from ducts.

DON’T:

  • Attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces.
  • Attempt to shampoo carpet or upholstery.
  • Send garments to ordinary dry cleaner. Improper cleaning may set smoke odor.

Review of Water Pumps

11/29/2017 (Permalink)

Taylor reviews water pump equipment.

The Training Supervisor at SERVPRO of The Southtowns, Taylor Braun, reviews water pumps with us in preparation of the rainy season. This time of year, a high volume of our customers require basement pump out and we have the equipment to perform this service. There are a  number of different types of water pumps available to pump out standing water from one inch to many inches. 

At SERVPRO of The Southtowns we are dedicated to the continuing education of our entire staff, every Friday morning we host an educational seminar for the crew and staff to review equipment use, best practices, new procedures, and upcoming industry changes.

Having a crew that is knowledgeable and confident gives our customers the best service during their times of need.  

There is no job too big or too small for SERVPRO!

The Master Minds of SERVPRO of The Southtowns

11/29/2017 (Permalink)

The Strong Six meeting with Lyn and Thom.

Every successful business is backed by strong, talented leaders. At SERVPRO of The Southtowns ours are known as the Strong Six. They meet monthly to discuss progress, growth and tackle and challenges that may arise. Our managers have over 45 years of experience between them!

Travis Braun-Operations Manager. Travis has been with SERVPRO of The Southtowns for 11 years. He started as a technician and now oversees our operations. He works closely with our technicians and insurance companies to make sure the proper work is being done and documented to make the claims process as smooth as possible.

Chris Ferguson-Production Manager. Chris also started as technician and has been at SERVPRO of The Southtowns for over 14 years now. It was a natural transition for Chris since he is now responsible for getting estimates, seeing projects from start to finish and updating our clients in emergency situations.  

Tracie Hebdon-Office Manager. Tracie started with us in 2011 and has been a wonderful addition to our team. As the office manager she oversees the office, as well as the jobs schedule and runs job improvement meetings.

Emily McNulty-Marketing Manager. Emily is working on her sixth year with our company and is a marketing wizard. She sits on the BOMA Buffalo Board of Directors, as well as serves as the Treasure for the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce. Emily keeps us involved in our community. She also educates and advises the Insurance and Property Management Industries.

Dan Duggan-Construction Manager. Dan is also working on his sixth year with our company and oversees the in-house construction. He is involved with clients on a daily basis by getting estimates, helping his crew and meeting with inspectors.

Taylor Braun-Training Supervisor/Fleet Supervisor. Travis has unofficially been at SERVPRO of The Southtowns for years, but officially became the Training/Fleet Supervisor about four years ago. He is responsible for new hire training, annual re-certifications and training, and building company protocols (ex. Safety Procedures and Emergency Action Plan).

Give Your Air Ducts a Fresh Start

11/29/2017 (Permalink)

Make it a priority to inspect the duct work of your home or business.

When is the last time you gave the HVAC system in your home some attention? If you find yourself not able to answer that question, or it has been over five years, you may want to contact SERVPRO of The Southtowns to perform a professional duct cleaning.

Dust, pollen, dirt and debris are just some of the contaminates that could be circulating in your ducts. Let SERVPRO of The Southtowns professionally inspect your heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit (HVAC). Keeping them clean can extend the life of the equipment. This can save you money over time and keep the air that you breathe in your home clean.

Other benefits from keeping your HVAC system clean are:  

  • Helps to restore peak energy efficiency.
  • May help to eliminate offensive odors.
  • Helps reduce the potential for mold growth

Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning in Buffalo, NY

11/29/2017 (Permalink)

We professionally clean carpets and upholstery.

Even the highest-quality carpet and upholstery can show soiling over time. Protect your investment by calling us to clean and maintain your carpet and upholstery. The SERVPRO System offers a number of cleaning options to match any type of upholstery or carpet.

Need Carpet or Upholstery Cleaning?
Call us Today – (716) 646-6684

We also offer a range of specialized cleaning methods:

  • Bonnet Cleaning: A less aggressive method for short piled carpets.
  • Hot Water Extraction: A deeper cleaning method for all carpet types.
  • Deluxe Precondition and Rinse: Helps restore deeply soiled areas.
  • Showcase Premier Cleaning: The most thorough cleaning method in the industry.
  • Dry Cleaning: When color-fastness is an issue.

From carpets to area rugs, couches and love seats, we will get your home furnishings looking and smelling "Like it never even happened." 

Biohazard Exposures are More Common Than You Think

9/22/2017 (Permalink)

Exposure to biohazards can happen anywhere and should be handled by a professional.

Did you know that you could be exposed to biohazards everyday in places that you least expect?  Places like your workplace, schools and even your doctor’s office put you at risk. These situations need to be handled with extreme caution. 

Examples of biohazards include:

  • Human blood and blood products
  • Animal waste
  • Human bodily fluids
  • Microbiological wastes
  • Pathological wastes
  • Sharps wastes

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) there are four levels of biohazards

  • Level 1: Agents that pose minimal threat to humans and environment.
  • Level 2: Agents that can cause severe illness in humans and are transmitted through direct contact with infected material.
  • Level 3: Pathogens that can become airborne and can cause serious disease.
  • Level 4: Pathogens that pose a high risk of life-threatening disease for which there are no treatments.

Should you find yourself in a situation where you are exposed to any of these biohazards materials, give the experts at SERVPRO of The Southtowns a call at 716-646-6684 to safely clean and sanitize the affected area.

More Than Just a Restoration Company

9/22/2017 (Permalink)

More Than Just a Restoration Company

While SERVPRO of The Southtowns is proud to be known as leaders in fire and water restoration industry, we also offer several additional services. 

 We are available to help you with:

Deodorization

Duct Cleaning (Commercial or Residential)

Document Restoration (Mold, Odor, Water, Fire Damage)

Post Construction Cleaning

Carpet Cleaning

Lead Abatement

Upholstery Cleaning

Area Rug Cleaning

Hazardous Spill Clean Up

Emergency Planning

Content Pack Out and Inventory

General Cleaning

Reconstruction Including Painting

Temporary Power

Demolition

The owners, Thom and Lyn Braun, have operated SERVPRO of The Southtowns since 1995 and are dedicated to serving their community while working to become one of the largest and most professional restoration providers in the area.  Please give our office a call 27/7 at 716-646-6684 to help you with your building and restoration needs.

Choosing the Appropriate Fire Extinguisher

9/15/2017 (Permalink)

Know your fire extinguisher

Know your fire extinguisher! Using the proper type of extinguisher saves lives.

Class A: This is the most common extinguisher and can e used to put out fires in ordinary combustibles such as cloth, wood, rubber, paper and many plastics.

Class B: Used on fires involving flammable liquids, such as grease, gasoline and oil.

Class C: Designed for fires involving appliances, tools, or other equipment electronically energized or plugged in.

Class D: For use on flammable metals: often specific for they type of metal in question. These are typically found only in factories working with these metals. 

Class K: Intended for use on fires that involve vegetable oils, animal oils, or fats in cooking appliances. These extinguishers are generally found in commercial kitchens, but are becoming more popular in residential market for use in kitchens. 

Injectidry Saves Gym Floor

9/15/2017 (Permalink)

Injectidry Mat-Panel Drying System

When Frontier Middle School discovered a pool of water on their gym floor they called SERVPRO of The Southtowns to come in and assess the situation. 

Upon arrival, our highly trained technicians were able to dry and preserve the affected area with the use of injectidry panels.  Injectidry panels are a mat-panel drying system which allows SERVPRO to extract water from the subfloor level by creating a vacuum effect between the panels and the flooring.  The technicians were then able to control and speed up the drying process by sealing off the affected area and using a dehumidifier to pull out more moisture. 

Within a matter of a few days Frontier Middle School’s gym was restored and ready to go. Just another example of how SERVPRO of The Southtowns makes it “Like it never even happened.”

Why Choose SERVPRO - Right Product, Right Job

6/19/2017 (Permalink)

SERVPRO product line

The right equipment and product for the job means everything. When you call on SERVPRO of The Southtowns you can feel secure that the products and equipment we bring into your home or work place are the best in the industry for your specific needs. 

Here at SERVPRO, we have an on-staff chemist that has created a custom line of cleaning products based on experience and knowledge from over 40 years in the restoration industry.

The SERVPRO line of Professional Cleaning products has over 150 individual products each specifically formulated to get the job done right. Each product has an available MDS sheet so you know exactly what compounds are in your environment and we can avoid allergens. We also have a complete line of natural and sustainable products. 

DryBook Mobile

6/19/2017 (Permalink)

DryBook Mobile helps make our job sites "paper-lite"

DryBook Mobile is making our job sites "paper-lite" as we transition more daily paperwork to the iPad. 

All of our crews are being trained on DryBook Mobile to create a job process that is transparent and honest.

DryBook mobile is the proprietary program designed and used throughout the SERVPRO franchise system. The program includes floor plans of areas that we are working in, water meter reading or wet areas to show the progression of drying, and equipment formulas based on room size and type of water damage to determine the appropriate amount of dehumidifiers and air movers to remove excess moisture in a timely manner. 

SERVPRO of The Southtowns is the restoration company you can count on for over 20 years in Western New York. Call us today for all of your fire, water, mold, and bio-hazard clean up needs. 

Fire Damage Tips

6/19/2017 (Permalink)

"Soot Webs" may form from very hot fires

Have you ever experienced something like this? After a fire "soot webs" may form, this is a reaction of the heat and smoke, not the result of poor house keeping. Always call your SERVPRO of The Southowns professionals before attempting to clean fire damage yourself.

Fire and Smoke - Home Emergency Tips

DO:

  • Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into upholstery and carpets
  • Keep hands clean. Soot on hands can further spoil upholstery, walls, and woodwork
  • Blow or brush vacuum loose soot particles from upholstery, drapes, and carpets
  • Place old towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery, and carpet traffic areas.
  • If electricity is off, empty freezer and  refrigerator completely and prop doors open
  • Clean and protect chrome on kitchen and bathroom faucets, trim and appliances with a light coating of Vaseline or oil.
  • Wash house plants on both sides of leaves
  • Change HVAC filter
  • Tape double layers of cheesecloth over air registers

DON’T:

  • Attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces without first contacting your SERVPRO Professional
  • Attempt to shampoo carpet or upholstered furniture without first consulting your SERVPRO Professional
  • Attempt to clean any electrical appliances, TV sets, radios, etc that may have been close to fire, heat or water without first consulting an authorized repair service
  • Use any canned or packaged food or beverages that may have been stored close to fire, heat or water. (They may be contaminated.)
  • Turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet. Wiring may be wet or damaged.
  • Send garments to ordinary dry cleaner. Improper cleaning may set smoke odor. 

Hydraulic Oil Spill

6/19/2017 (Permalink)

When a forklift sprung a hydraulic oil leak it created a 20,000 square foot safety hazard in a local Buffalo production warehouse. The parking lot and warehouse floor had a coat of oil that needed to be cleaned for the safety of the employees and the environment.

SERVPRO® of The Southtowns was able to react quickly to get the spill cleaned up and the warehouse back on schedule. We take commercial losses very seriously, we know that every hour of down time has a cost of loss production and loss of revenue.

The facility manager, John, was thrilled, he said “Thank you for getting here quickly!”

There is no job too large or too small for SERVPRO® of The Southtowns, we are on call 24/7 to make it “Like it never even happened."

Restoring your Western New York Commercial Property after a Water Damage Event

6/19/2017 (Permalink)

Commercial Water Damage Events Present Unique Challenges

Flooding and water damage events in Buffalo, NY commercial properties are often complex with numerous issues that require a knowledgeable and flexible response. Whether we’re dealing with a relatively small water cleanup scenario or a large scale event, we work quickly to assess each unique situation and isolate the damaged area. In many instances, normal operations can continue in a temporary space while we restore your facility.

Restoring Commercial Properties Presents Unique Challenges

Our professionals are trained to be mindful of legal and environmental concerns and strive to fully restore the damaged area while working within your budgetary constraints. We understand that every hour spent cleaning up is an hour of lost revenue and productivity. So when an emergency situation arises in your business, give us a call and we’ll be there fast with the help you need.

About SERVPRO® of The Southtowns

SERVPRO® of The Southowns specializes in the cleanup and restoration of commercial and residential property after a water damage event. Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration. From initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO’s corporate training facility to regular IICRC-industry certification, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property.

Meet Our Crew

When Storms or Floods hit Western New York, SERVPRO is ready!

6/19/2017 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of The Southtowns specializes in storm and flood damage restoration. Our crews are highly trained and we use specialized equipment to restore your property to its pre-storm condition.

Faster Response

Since we are locally owned and operated, by Thom and Lyn Braun, we are able to respond quicker with the right resources, which is extremely important. A fast response lessens the damage, limits further damage, and reduces the restoration cost.

Resources to Handle Floods and Storms

When storms hit Western New York, we can scale our resources to handle a large storm or flooding disaster. We can access equipment and personnel from a network of over 1,700 Franchises across the country and elite Disaster Recovery Teams that are strategically located throughout the United States.

Have Storm or Flood Damage? Call Us Today SERVPRO of The Southtowns

When the sprinklers burst...

5/30/2017 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of The Southtowns on site at 1am!

Our definition of 24/7 means that when the sprinklers burst at 1am, we are there. 

When this commercial facility called us at 1am because the sprinklers stated going off, by 2am we had a crew on site to begin extracting the standing water and setting up drying equipment. 

There is no job too large or too small for SERVPRO of The Southtowns. We respond to all emergence night and day because our customers need to get back to normal as quickly as possible. Having SERVPRO of The Soutthowns in your corner is having a hero you can count on. Every loss is catastrophic for the people who have to live through it, we want to take the stress away and make it "Like it never even happened." 

Water Damage - Home Emergency Tips

5/30/2017 (Permalink)

Water damage happens when you least expect it, be prepared with this knowledge!

DO: 

    • Remove as much excess water as  possible by mopping and blotting
    • Wipe excess water from wood furniture after removal of laps and table top items
    • Remove and prop wet upholstery and pillow cushions for even drying
    • Place aluminum foil or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpeting
    • Turn air conditioning on for maximum drying in summer
  • Oriental rugs or other colored rugs from wet wall-to-wall carpeting.
  • Remove valuable paintings and art  objects to a safe, dry place.
  • Open and place luggage, in sunlight to dry, if possible.
  • Gather loose items, toys, etc. from floors.

DON'T:

  • Leave wet fabrics in place; dry as soon as possible. Hang furs and leather goods to dry separately at room temperature
  • Leave books, magazines, or other colored items on wet carpets or floors
  • Use your household vacuum to remove water
  • Use TV or other electric appliances while standing on wet carpets or floors, especially not on wet concrete floors.
  • Turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet, and keep out of rooms where ceilings are sagging from retained water.

An Overview of Mold

5/30/2017 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation 

Excessive amounts of mold and certain types of mold may present health concerns. It is essential for the health of you and your family, as well as the protection of your property, to address the issue and arrange for professionals to conduct mold removal and mold remediation as soon as the presence of mold is identified.

Water Damage can cause mold growth in your home or business, therefore it is important to have your water damage cleaned promptly and professionally.

Signs of the presence of excessive mold include:

  • The presence of visible mold.
  • Strong, musty odors.
  • Any evidence of past moisture problems that might have caused undetected mold growth.
  • Excessive humidity.

Mold Damage Removal

If you think you might have a mold problem, call SERVPRO of The Southtowns at 716-646-6684 to schedule an inspection or mold removal.

In most water damage situations, mold growth is not a problem, and we can safely restore your home or business to preloss condition. The need to address the mold removal can only be determined by an on-site, indoor environmental inspection.

Mold Remediation

In some situations an indoor air quality professional will be required to create a restoration plan for your home. SERVPRO is experienced at carrying out the assigned mold remediation plan and working to make it "Like it never even happened."

Why Choose SERVPRO - National Name, Local Roots

4/4/2017 (Permalink)

SERVPRO® is the number one restoration company in the country with over 1,700 franchise nation wide.

We are proud to be a part of a national brand, but as franchise, we are equally proud to have local roots.

Our customers get twice the benefit. By using the SERVPRO® brand you know you are getting the experience and expertise of the largest restoration company. We have the unique opportunity to be able to call on franchises across the country to help during storm time

And our customers can also feel good that by using SERVPRO® they are supporting local business owners who live, work, and are invested in the communities they live in.

SERVPRO® was founded in 1967 in Sacramento, CA by Ted and Doris Isaacson.

Your local SERVPRO® of The Southtowns has been owned by Thom and Lyn Braun since 1995.

Why Choose SERVPRO - We Clean That

4/4/2017 (Permalink)

You know us for Fire and Water, but we do so much more!


Fire Restoration


(Because fire damage happens when you least expect it)


Water Mitigation


(When the sprinklers go off or a pipe breaks)


Mold Remediation


(Making the work and living spaces healthy again)


Biohazard Cleanup


(Yeah, I’m talking about blood, crime scene, and sewage)


Post Construction Cleaning


(Because construction is a dirty job)


Catastrophic Storm Response


(Hurricanes and blizzards and tornadoes, oh my)


Environmental and Hazmat Services


(Spills happen, we clean it up)


Document Restoration


(That storage area, where all the files are kept, underwater)


Odor Identification and Deodorization


(What is that smell?!)


Move out and Content Inventory


(When contents need to be stored after a loss)


 


No matter what you are facing, we will make it “Like it never even happened”

Water Damage can cause Mold Damage

4/4/2017 (Permalink)

Excessive amounts of mold and certain types of mold may present health concerns. It is essential for the health of you and your family, as well as the protection of your property, to address the issue and arrange for professionals to conduct mold removal and mold remediation as soon as the presence of excessive mold is identified.

Water damages can cause mold growth in your home or business, therefore it is important to have your water damage cleaned promptly and professionally.

Signs of the presence of excessive mold include:

  • The presence of visible mold.
  • Strong, musty odors.
  • Any evidence of past moisture problems that might have caused undetected mold growth.
  • Excessive humidity.

Call SERVPRO of The Southtowns today to schedule an estimate for mold remediation. Don't put off the health of you and your family.

Ultra Content Cleaner

3/3/2017 (Permalink)

Ultra Content Cleaner is an environmentally friendly, bio-based detergent

All of the products we use at SERVPRO are specially formulated, in house, to work based on 50 years of experience in the restoration industry.

Product Spot Light

Ultra Content Cleaner is an environmentally friendly, bio-based detergent designed to clean Fire Damaged Contents. It contains a proprietary blend of detergents and surfactants designed to be tough on soot and contains exclusive deodorizing components to help break down, neutralize and remove smoke odor particles while leaving a fresh lemon fragrance.

Trust the experts for 50 years in fire damage restoration. SERVPRO of The Southtowns is committed to the best products, the best people, and the best training so we can make fire damage "Like it never even happened."

24/7, 365 days a year, fire knows no rest, so neither do we.  

Water Damage Alarm

3/3/2017 (Permalink)

Many of the water damage alarms cost anywhere from $12-$50. When you think about the cost it may save you in the long run, it’s well worth the money!

What if we told you there was something you could hook up in your home that would alert you when water penetrated an area of your home you didn’t want it to?


Worried about your dishwasher leaking? Concerned about your water heater being old and water seeping out of it? Nervous about having your sump pump fail? Having an alarm that would sound if water infiltrated an area that it was not suppose to be could be helpful in many different spaces in a home or business. If there is an area of your home that has had previous water damages that you may be worried about happening again this water damage alarm could make you feel more comfortable.


If there is a space in your home that you don’t go often, this alarm would notify you of any water damage that occurs. Often, people have areas of their homes they don’t go into on a daily basis. For example, many people don’t or can’t go into their basement every day. Water damages occur in these areas and sit for long periods of time without being noticed. In the mean time, secondary damage occurs. Mold grows, contents get ruined and the already expensive damage becomes a lot more expensive than if it was discovered at the time of loss.


While browsing Amazon.com I found that many of the water damage alarms cost anywhere from $12-$50. When you think about the cost it may save you in the long run, it’s well worth the money! Consider purchasing one (or a few) of these alarms in your home to alert you of a water damage.

Bethlehem Steel fire in Lackawanna, NY

11/14/2016 (Permalink)

The fire at Bethlehem Steel blacked skies and distributed ash for many miles

I am dashing you off a quick note to offer our hope that all of our friends in the Lackawanna, Blasdell, and South Buffalo areas stay safe from the ongoing Bethlehem Steel fire. The damage is far reaching as all the way here in Hamburg we are experiencing soot falling into our parking lots.

Please know that we are giving top priority to any customers who call us needing soot clean up and deodorization due to this event.

This can be a stressful situation for families as their lives and sense of safety is being invaded by a force outside of their control. We will work with the community closely to put all those effected at ease and get them back to normal as quickly as possible.

Fire damage restoration is our specialty and we have the experience to deal with any unique situations that arise. Please feel free to call me with any specific questions.

The Team you want in your home

10/24/2016 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of The Southtowns company picture

A beautiful morning to update our annual company photo! Our SERVPRO of The Southtowns team are heroes every day to families and businesses in the Western New York community.

The team you want in your home or work, because making it "Like it never even happened," ONLY happens here!

"This team is the best team ever! Very proud of all our employees! I love coming to work everyday because of this team!! They give there ALL to make it "Like it never even happened"." - Lyn Braun

We continue to grow year over year and are so proud to be helping families and businesses in the Western New York community after fire and water damage. This is where we call home and you are our neighbors and families.  

Happy Boss' Day!

10/24/2016 (Permalink)

Happy Boss's Day to Thom and Lyn Braun

Happy Boss' Day to our awesome leaders here at SERVPRO of The Southtowns.

Thom and Lyn enjoyed a family style lunch prepared by the staff to celebrate!

The Braun's have owned SERVPRO of The Soutthowns in Hamburg since 1995 and with a focus on customer satisfaction and continued growth, have created the largest SERVPRO franchise in Western New York.  

Thom and Lyn's dedication is shown through their daily involvement in each job that comes into our company as well as their commitment to growing employees through education and promotion.  

Happy Boss's Day to all the Bosses out there who lead by example and create work environments where people can be proud to be part of a winning team. 

Thom and Lyn Braun, to many more years of success. 

BOMA Buffalo Vendor of the Year

10/24/2016 (Permalink)

Marketing Manager, Emily McNulty, and Owner, Lyn Braun, received the BOMA Buffalo 2016 Vendor of the Year.

SERVPRO of The Southtowns is so honored to have been named the BOMA Buffalo 2016 Vendor of The Year at the October 18 BOMA awards luncheon held at Aqua Restaurant.

We were nominated for this award by the members of BOMA and voted on by the Awards committee.

Our Marketing Manager, Emily McNulty has been an active member of BOMA for three years, sits on the board of directors, and participates on the Member Communications committee as well as sponsors the annual golf outing. 

Thank you to all of our customers who have trusted us over the years for fire restoration, water mitigation, mold remediation, bio hazard cleanup, and more. We are honored to be the name that you call on when the sprinklers go off in the middle of the night. 

 

 

Thunder Storm Safety Tips

10/4/2016 (Permalink)

Thunder and Lightening Storm

Lightning from thunderstorms injures hundreds of people in the U.S. every year and kills dozens. These causalities are easily preventable if you follow these simple safety tips.

1)      Listen to the radio and television for severe thunderstorm warnings. The National Weather Service issues warnings for counties and even sends out text messages now to our mobile phones when storms are on their way. Pay attention and heed their warnings for safety.

2)      Remember the 30 second rule. If there is not 30 seconds in between the time you see lightning and hear thunder, it’s time to go indoors.

3)      Lightning typically strikes the tallest object around so if there is a storm, move indoors if at all possible or into a hard top car if there are no buildings around.

4)      Once inside, stay away from windows, plumbing and electrical. If lightning strikes outside, it can carry inside via land lines.

5)      Get out of boats and away from bodies of water. If you can hear thunder than you are close enough to get struck by lightning.

6)      If you are caught outside, avoid standing by tall isolated objects such as trees. Find a grouping of small trees surrounded by taller ones, avoid bodies of water, and if there is only open spaces, look for a dry low-lying area and try to make yourself the smallest target possible. Do not lay flat on the ground, rather crouch with your head between your knees. Sheds, outhouses and tents provide no safety so keep this in mind when you are hiking or camping. Always think ahead and be prepared in the event that you are caught in a thunderstorm and if possible, turn around on your trip and head home.

Crime Scene and Trauma Cleaning Services in Buffalo, NY

10/3/2016 (Permalink)

Crime Scene and Trauma Cleaning Services

Crime scenes cause unique challenges, here at SERVPRO of The Southtowns, we have over 20 years of experience. 

Crime Scene and Trauma Cleaning Services

  • Fingerprint powder and evidence-gathering chemicals
  • Tear gas and pepper spray residues
  • Fire extinguisher residue
  • Blood, bodily fluids, and tissue remnants

Common Trauma and Crime Scene Scenarios

Crime Scene Residues

From fingerprint powder and evidence-gathering chemicals to tear gas and pepper spray residues, we can clean and restore your property after a crime scene investigation.

Bloodborne Pathogens

We remove and dispose of bodily fluids, tissue and other potentially pathogenic substances resulting from accident, trauma, crime or death. Our trained Professionals clean, disinfect and deodorize the structure.

Methamphetamine Labs

Many of the chemicals used in the production of illegal drugs such as methamphetamine are volatile and can leave harmful residues throughout a structure. Our technicians follow federal and state guidelines to properly clean all surfaces.

Air Duct and HVAC Cleaning

10/3/2016 (Permalink)

Make it a priority to inspect the duct work of your home or business.

Ventilation systems are often the biggest culprit in poor indoor air quality. Make it a priority to inspect the duct work of your home or business.

If your HVAC has been operating for some time without attention, it could be circulating one or more of the following:

  • Dust
  • Pollen
  • Odors
  • Dirt and debris
  • Other contaminants

SERVPRO of The Southtowns Professionals routinely inspect the heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit (HVAC).  Keeping them clean can extend the life of the equipment. This can in turn save you money and give you cleaner air to breathe.

However, duct cleaning is not always necessary. We will make recommendations about the best way to address any indoor air quality concerns. This can save you money and provide peace of mind on the health of your system.

The benefits of servicing your HVAC unit include:

  • Helps to restore peak energy efficiency.
  • May help to eliminate offensive odors.
  • Helps reduce the potential for mold growth.

For more information on HVAC and air duct cleaning, call us today, (716) 646-6684.

Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning in Buffalo, NY

10/3/2016 (Permalink)

We professionally clean carpets and upholstery.

Even the highest-quality carpet and upholstery can show soiling over time. Protect your investment by calling us to clean and maintain your carpet and upholstery. The SERVPRO System offers a number of cleaning options to match any type of upholstery or carpet.

Need Carpet or Upholstery Cleaning?
Call us Today – (716) 646-6684

We also offer a range of specialized cleaning methods:

  • Bonnet Cleaning: A less aggressive method for short piled carpets.
  • Hot Water Extraction: A deeper cleaning method for all carpet types.
  • Deluxe Precondition and Rinse: Helps restore deeply soiled areas.
  • Showcase Premier Cleaning: The most thorough cleaning method in the industry.
  • Dry Cleaning: When color-fastness is an issue.

From carpets to area rugs, couches and love seats, we will get your home furnishings looking and smelling "Like it never even happened."  

Faster to Any Size Disaster in Buffalo, NY

10/3/2016 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of The Southtowns is faster to any size disaster. 24/7 we are on call for you.

Faster to Any Size Emergency

In many cleaning and restoration situations, immediate action is needed. With over 1,650 U.S. and Canadian Franchise locations, SERVPRO is strategically positioned to be faster to any size emergency. An immediate response helps to minimize the damage and the cleaning and restoration costs.

Water is particularly invasive, quickly spreading throughout your property and being absorbed into floors, walls, furniture, etc. SERVPRO of The Southtowns arrives quickly and starts the water extraction process almost immediately.

Water Damage Timeline

Within Minutes

  • Water quickly spreads throughout your property, saturating everything in its path.
  • Water is absorbed into walls, floors, upholstery, and belongings.
  • Furniture finishes may bleed, causing permanent staining on carpets.
  • Photographs, books, and other paper goods start to swell and warp.

Hours 1 - 24:

  • Drywall begins to swell and break down.
  • Metal surfaces begin to tarnish.
  • Furniture begins to swell and crack.
  • Dyes and inks from cloth and paper goods spread and stain.
  • A musty odor appears.

48 Hours to 1 Week:

  • Mold and mildew may grow and spread.
  • Doors, windows, and studs swell and warp.
  • Metal begins to rust and corrode.
  • Furniture warps and shows signs of mold.
  • Paint begins to blister.
  • Wood flooring swells and warps.
  • Serious biohazard contamination is possible.

More Than 1 Week:

  • Restoration time and cost increase dramatically; replacing contaminated materials and structural rebuilding may be extensive.
  • Structural safety, mold growth, and biohazard contaminants pose serious risks to occupants.

Additional Services

9/23/2016 (Permalink)

A history of achievement.

SERVPRO® of The Southtowns has long been known as a leader in emergency fire and water restoration, but we also perform a number of additional services.

Please consider us for:

Deodorization 

Duct Cleaning (Residential and Commercial)

Document Restoration (Odor, Water, Mold damage)

Post Construction Cleaning

Carpet Cleaning

Lead Abatement

Upholstery Cleaning

Area Rug Cleaning

Hazardous spill clean up

Emergency Planning

Content Pack out and Inventory

General Cleaning

Reconstruction including painting

Temporary Power

Demolition 

Thom and Lyn Braun have owned and run SERVPRO® of The Southtowns since 1995. They are dedicated to helping the Western New York community during times of crisis while growing to become the largest and most professional restoration provider in the area. 

Please contact us at 716-646-6684 for a quick response to all of your building needs. We are available 24/7 for emergencies to make it "Like it never even happened."  

Bio Hazard Cleanup

9/23/2016 (Permalink)

Bio-hazard cleanup substances including blood, bodily fluids, and more.

Bio Hazard Cleanup - 

When you need a plan for emergency Bio Hazard clean up and disinfection, SERVPRO® of The Southtowns has professionals on call.

We are saddened that our wonderful customers occasionally have to find help for bio hazard cleanup, but are grateful that we have the opportunity to help. 

Bio Hazard cleanup may involve bodily fluids, sewage, rodent feces and many other contaminates that have to be handled with care. Our certified professionals use proper personal protective equipment to protect themselves from spreading possible illness.

Please call SERVPRO® of The Southtowns for a free estimate and leave bio hazard clean up to the professionals.  

Highly Trained Restoration Specialists

Our SERVPRO Professionals are highly trained in property restoration. From initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO's Corporate Training Facility to regular IICRC industry certifications, our Professionals are equipped with the knowledge to restore your property. The SERVPRO training program includes the follow:

  • IICRC Training
  • Employee Certification Training
  • Initial Franchise Training
  • e-Learnings
  • Continuing Education Classes

The Science of Mold

9/23/2016 (Permalink)

Mold can grow on organic surfaces after moisture intrusion.

A mold (US / CA) or mould (UK / NZ / AU / ZA / IN / CA) is a fungus that grows in the form of multicellular filaments called hyphae.[1][2] In contrast, fungi that can adopt a single-celled growth habit are called yeasts.

Molds are a large and taxonomically diverse number of fungal species where the growth of hyphae results in discoloration and a fuzzy appearance, especially on food.[3] The network of these tubular branching hyphae, called a mycelium, is considered a single organism. The hyphae are generally transparent, so the mycelium appears like very fine, fluffy white threads over the surface. Cross-walls (septa) may delimit connected compartments along the hyphae, each containing one or multiple, genetically identical nuclei. The dusty texture of many molds is caused by profuse production of asexual spores (conidia) formed by differentiation at the ends of hyphae. The mode of formation and shape of these spores is traditionally used to classify molds. Many of these spores are colored, making the fungus much more obvious to the human eye at this stage in its life-cycle.

Molds are considered to be microbes and do not form a specific taxonomic or phylogenetic grouping, but can be found in the divisions Zygomycota and Ascomycota. In the past, most molds were classified within the Deuteromycota.

Molds cause biodegradation of natural materials, which can be unwanted when it becomes food spoilage or damage to property. They also play important roles in biotechnology and food science in the production of various foods, beverages, antibiotics, pharmaceuticals and enzymes. Some diseases of animals and humans can be caused by certain molds: disease may result from allergic sensitivity to mold spores, from growth of pathogenic molds within the body, or from the effects of ingested or inhaled toxic compounds (mycotoxins) produced by molds.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mold 

A Clean Home Sells Faster

9/16/2016 (Permalink)

A clean home sells faster.

In today’s real estate marketplace, you can have an edge with a reputation for having quality listings. You also want the ability to move a sale through quickly to get your commission.

Presentation is everything.

SERVPRO® of The Southtowns will inspect a property - including crawl spaces - to help determine the extent of water or mold damage and remove potentially harmful bacteria and odors.

We can also assist with a packing, inventorying, and storing contents, as well as a complete deep cleaning including carpets and upholstery.

So before you risk your buyer’s health or the opportunity to close the sale of the property, call your local cleanup and restoration Professionals at SERVPRO® of The Southtowns at 716-646-6684. 

Independently owned and operated by Thom and Lyn Braun for over 20 years serving the entire Western New York community.  

Here to Help

9/14/2016 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of The Southtowns

SERVPRO® of The Southtowns

Here to Help

SERVPRO® is the premier restoration company in the country with nearly 1,700 franchises reaching into all 50 states and Canada. This gives us a distinct advantage. During high volume storm time we are able to call on other franchises across the country for additional resources and equipment if needed. 

NATIONAL NAME, LOCAL ROOTS:

Though SERVPRO® is nationally known, we have local owners. Lyn and Thom Braun, have run SERVPRO® of The Southtowns for over 20 years and have been staples in the Buffalo community. Their company has grown into the largest restoration provider in Western New York. There is literally no job too large; we have experience working on schools, hospitals, hotels, as well as many other large loss structures.

24/7 EMERGENCY RESPONSE:

Our standard guarantee is that 24/7 we are ready for action. In after hours situations we have a live answering service and you will receive a call back in less than one hour from one of the managers. In less than 4 hours crews will be onsite for emergencies. 

INSURANCE RELATIONSHIPS:

SERVPRO® of The Southtowns has built long standing local and national relationships with insurance adjusters and insurance companies. We adhere to all insurance regulations and procedures for claim management.

Commercial Post Construction Cleaning

9/6/2016 (Permalink)

HEPA vacuuming all surfaces for a clean learning environment.

SERVPRO® of The Southtowns spent a week cleaning construction dust from a school. It is important for us to do what is best for the business. In this case, we scheduled after hours services to work around their needs. 

Restoring Commercial Properties Presents Unique Challenges

Our professionals are trained to be mindful of legal and environmental concerns and strive to fully restore the damaged area while working within your budgetary constraints. We understand that every hour spent cleaning up is an hour of lost revenue and productivity. So when an emergency situation arises in your business, give us a call and we’ll be there fast with the help you need.

About SERVPRO® of The Southtowns

SERVPRO® of The Southtowns specializes in the cleanup and restoration of commercial and residential property after a water damage event. Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration. From initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO’s corporate training facility to regular IICRC-industry certification, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property.

Buffalo Smoke and Soot Cleanup

9/6/2016 (Permalink)

Smoke and Soot Damage Can Cause a Pervasive Odor in Your Buffalo Home.

Smoke and soot is very invasive and can penetrate various cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. Our smoke damage expertise and experience allows us to inspect and accurately assess the extent of the damage to develop a comprehensive plan of action.  

Smoke and soot facts:

  • Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.
  • Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor.
  • The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process.

Different Types of Smoke

There are two different types of smoke–wet and dry. As a result, there are different types of soot residue after a fire. Before restoration begins, SERVPRO® of The Southtowns will test the soot to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. The cleaning procedures will then be based on the information identified during pretesting. Here is some additional information:

Wet Smoke – Plastic and Rubber

  • Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.

Dry Smoke – Paper and Wood

  • Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises therefore smoke rises.

Protein Fire Residue – Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire

  • Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor. 

Our Fire Damage Restoration Services

Since each smoke and fire damage situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored for the specific conditions.  We have the equipment, expertise, and experience to restore your fire and smoke damage.  We will also treat your family with empathy and respect and your property with care.

Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
Call Us Today – 716-646-6684

For Immediate Service in Buffalo, Call SERVPRO

9/6/2016 (Permalink)

We provide immediate service day or night!

SERVPRO® of The Southtowns provides 24-hour emergency service and is dedicated to being faster to any-sized disaster in Buffalo. We can respond immediately to your emergency and have the expertise to handle your restoration or cleaning needs.

  • 24-Hour Emergency Service
  • Faster to Any-Sized Disaster
  • Highly Trained Restoration Technicians
  • A Trusted Leader in the Restoration Industry
  • Locally Owned and Operated
  • Advanced Restoration and Cleaning Equipment 

Have Questions? Call Us 24/7 – 716-646-6684

Residential Services

Whether your Buffalo home needs emergency flood damage or your upholstery cleaned, you can depend on us.  Our technicians have extensive cleaning and restoration training and can make your property look its best. Learn more about our residential services:

  • Water Damage Restoration
  • Fire Damage Restoration
  • Mold Remediation
  • Storm Damage Restoration
  • Cleaning Services
  • Building/Reconstruction Services

Commercial Services

There's never a convenient time for fire or Water damage to strike your Buffalo commercial property. Every hour spent cleaning up is an hour of lost revenue and productivity. So when the need arises for professional cleaning or emergency restoration services we have the training and expertise to respond promptly with highly trained technicians to get your property back to business. Learn more about our commercial services: Commercial Services

  • Commercial Water Damage Restoration
  • Commercial Fire Damage Restoration

Erie County Board of Elections Fire Damage Restoration

9/6/2016 (Permalink)

SERVPRO Disaster Recovery Team in Buffalo, NY

SERVPRO of The Southtowns is proud to be on site with our Large Loss Disaster Recovery Team at the Erie County Board of Elections. 

After a fire occurred on the third floor last Thursday evening we dispatched an after hours crew to begin the fire restoration process. We set up air scrubbers to begin the deodorization process at 11pm.

The following morning we met with the director of facilities to create a comprehensive plan to get employees back in their offices as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

SERVPRO® of The Southtowns prides ourselves on responding to all emergency losses, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We believe that the top priority of our business is to mitigate losses and get business back to work and homeowners back home. 

Hamburg Chamber of Commerce

9/6/2016 (Permalink)

New Hamburg Chamber of Commerce logo.

Have you seen the new Hamburg Chamber of Commerce logo? We are very excited about the changes and growth in our community and the new logo is a reflection of that growth. 

The Hamburg Chamber of Commerce serves as the voice for success of the local business community, gathering the support of many to speak as one.

The Hamburg Chamber of Commerce works with local business, the community, and government to help Hamburg grow and prosper. Since 1927, the primarily volunteer businessmen and women of the Chamber have been serving the Town of Hamburg and its incorporated villages of Blasdell and Hamburg.

Our Marketing Manager at SERVPRO® of The Southtowns, Emily McNulty, is proud to serve on the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors as the Treasurer as well as Chair of the Digital Marketing Committee. 

Watch for the new Hamburg Chamber of Commerce launching soon, with advanced business services and user friendly features.  

Our Highly Trained Restoration Specialists can restore your Western New York Home

4/13/2016 (Permalink)

We are an IICRC Certified Firm

SERVPRO of The Southtowns is an IICRC firm. The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) creates the standards for the restoration industry and provides training and certification to restoration companies. IICRC Certified Firms have the right to display the IICRC Certified Logo.

IICRC Certified Firms must

• Present accurate information to consumers and conduct business with honesty and integrity.

• Require a technician on all jobs who has been formally trained and passed all required tests.

• Require a continuing education program to keep technicians up-to-date on the latest changes in the industry.

• Maintain liability insurance to protect all parties in the event of an accident.

• Maintain a written complaint policy and agree to Better Business Bureau or similar arbitration to resolve disputes, and accept the conclusions and recommendations of arbitration.

The IICRC Develops The Standards For The Restoration Industry

The IICRC has been the driving force in establishing the main industry standards and reference guides for professional carpet cleaning, water damage restoration and mold remediation. These IICRC standards take years to develop and require the coordination of experts in the field: manufacturers, industry organizations, insurance professionals, training schools, contractors, and public health professionals.

Every five years, the standards are reviewed and updated. The water damage restoration field changes rapidly with advancements in technology and science, and therefore the standards must evolve to keep pace.

About SERVPRO of The Southtowns

SERVPRO of The Southtowns specializes in the cleanup and restoration of residential and commercial property after a fire, smoke or water damage event. Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration and we are an IICRC Certified Firm. We believe in continuous training: from initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO’s corporate training facility to regular IICRC-industry certification, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property.

When Storms or Floods hit Western New York, SERVPRO is ready!

4/11/2016 (Permalink)

Our highly trained crews are ready to respond 24/7 to storm or flood damage in Western New York.

SERVPRO of The Southtowns specializes in storm and flood damage restoration. Our crews are highly trained and we use specialized equipment to restore your property to its pre-storm condition.

Faster Response

Since we are locally owned and operated, by Thom and Lyn Braun, we are able to respond quicker with the right resources, which is extremely important. A fast response lessens the damage, limits further damage, and reduces the restoration cost.

Resources to Handle Floods and Storms

When storms hit Western New York, we can scale our resources to handle a large storm or flooding disaster. We can access equipment and personnel from a network of over 1,700 Franchises across the country and elite Disaster Recovery Teams that are strategically located throughout the United States.

Have Storm or Flood Damage? Call Us Today SERVPRO of The Southtowns

Shut off the water!

4/11/2016 (Permalink)

Know your shut off valve

Home Tip: Know where the water shut off valves are on your toilets, sinks, appliances, and the main house shut off so you can limit the amount of damage if there is a leak. 

Extra Tip: Add a shut off tag to the main house water shut off so anyone can quickly find it. 

Time is of the essence when dealing with water damage, quickly stop the water flow and then call us right away. Water damage can't wait until the morning, that's why we are on call around the clock. When mitigation begins immediately it reduces the risk of mold growth and any further damage. 

While you wait for us to arrive begin to remove excess standing water if you can do so safely. 

SERVPRO of The Southtowns is on call 24-7 for emergency fire and water damage. 

Lead Remediation

3/4/2016 (Permalink)

Thom Braun reviewing lead procedures

We are certified to handle materials contaminated by lead paint. Here Thom Braun is review proper lead handling with our crew. 

Lead abatement is an activity to reduce levels of lead, particularly in the home environment, generally to permanently eliminate lead-based paint hazards, in order to reduce or eliminate incidents of lead poisoning.

Lead abatement may be undertaken in response to orders by state or local government. It requires specialized techniques that local construction contractors typically do not have. It includes activities such as lead-based paint inspections, risk assessments and lead-based paint removal.

In the United States, lead abatement activities are regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Individuals and firms that conduct lead-based paint activities, including abatement, must be certified.

Lead abatement is distinguished from Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) programs, which are typically performed at the option of the property owner for aesthetic or other reasons, or as an interim control to minimize lead hazards. RPP programs are not designed to permanently eliminate lead-based paint hazards.

Winter Fires

2/26/2016 (Permalink)

Did you know over $2 billion in property loss occurs from winter fires? Will you be prepared if it happens to you?

Most home fires are preventable, but sometimes common sense isn't so common. According to the National Fire Protection Association, it's not too early to protect your loved ones and your home from fire damage, by simply following sensible suggestions.

1. Have your furnace checked

2. Have your chimneys and vents checked

3. Test smoke alarms. Make sure batteries are fresh. Place smoke alarms in the kitchen, laundry room and in bedrooms.

4. Cover the fireplace with a screen

5. Beware of lit candles.

6. Beware of space heaters

7. Know how to put out kitchen fires quickly. Water doesn't help a greasefire, which can get out of control. Keep salt and baking soda on hand to sprinkle liberally on pan fires. Keep lids handy to put on top of pots and pans that get too hot.

8. Practice an escape route. Businesses have fire drills, your family should, too. 

9. Fire extinguishers can be life-savers. Store one under the kitchen sink, and in the hall closet near the bedrooms. Make sure you use the correct setting -- A for paper, wood and trash; B for grease and flammable liquids; C for small electrical fires.

10. All household members should know 911.

Over 1700 SERVPRO Franchises!

2/22/2016 (Permalink)

Over 1700 SERVPRO Franchises strong

Something to celebrate! SERVPRO has crossed the 1700 franchise mark! We are proud to be part of a network that spans the entire United States and into Canada.

In many cleaning and restoration situations, immediate action is needed. With over 1,700 U.S. and Canadian Franchise locations, SERVPRO is strategically positioned to be faster to any size emergency. An immediate response helps to minimize the damage and the cleaning and restoration costs.

Call on the name you know you can trust whenever you experience Fire or water damage. For nearly 50 years the SERVPRO name has been the leader in customer satisfaction and innovation within the restoration industry. 

Your local franchise in Western New York has been owned by Thom and Lyn Braun since 1995, we are here for you 24/7!

American Red Cross at SERVPRO

2/17/2016 (Permalink)

The American Red Cross film crew at our corporate training facility.

We are pleased to have American Red Cross utilizing our corporate training facility today to create a "Home Fire Preparedness" education video.

Here is a link to find out more:

http://www.redcross.org/news/article/Home-Fire-Preparedness-Campaign-Stretches-Across-US

Caption This!

2/16/2016 (Permalink)

Plumbing Problems?

Caption this picture!

Water damage from toilet problems can be common. Toilets create a unique type of water because there are multiple sources. Depending on the source the water may be clean category 1 water from a supply line, contaminated category 2 water from the water tank or clean bowl, or grossly contaminated category 3 water from beyond the drain.

Each category of water is handled differently with category 3 water being bio hazard because of the risk to human health.

If you experience water damage from a toilet please call a professional plumber to repair the toilet and a certified technician to mitigate the water damage.

SERVPRO of The Southtowns is on call 24/7 for water damage emergencies. Our heroes are faster to any size disaster, day or night.   

Celebrate President's Day

2/15/2016 (Permalink)

Celebrate Presidents Day - February 15, 2016

Officially known as “Washington’s Birthday” to this day, President’s Day falls on the 3rd Monday of February. Due to a move in 1971 (as part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act) to create additional three-day weekends for the country, the celebration was scheduled from President’s Washington’s actual birthday (February 22nd) to fall every 3rd Monday of the same month.

Aside from George Washington, William Henry Harrison, Ronald Reagan, and Abraham Lincoln also celebrate their birthdays in February. Although there still are states that celebrate the actual birthdays of past presidents, the nation as a whole now honors all US Presidents during President’s Day. 

Space Heater Safety Tips

2/10/2016 (Permalink)

Space Heater Safety Tips

It is going to be cold in WNY for the next week, here are some great space heater safety tips to prevent fires.

Electric space heaters are generally more expensive to operate than combustion space heaters, but they are the only unvented space heaters that are safe to operate inside your home. Although electric space heaters avoid indoor air quality concerns, they still pose burn and fire hazards and should be used with caution.

1. Place heater on a hard, level surface

2. Turn heater off when you leave

3. Keep heater 3 ft. from the nearest object

4. Avoid using extension cords

5. Look for heaters with tip over and over heat protection

6. Keep heaters away from water and flammable items such as papers, blankets, and curtains. 

Educating yourself about the safety hazards that come with the improper use of portable heaters will help you achieve better peace of mind as you keep your home warm, comfortable, and fire hazard-free this winter.

NYS CE Class : Water Damage: Risk, Diagnosis, & Mitigation

2/8/2016 (Permalink)

Location: J&M's West End Inn, 340 Union St, Hamburg

Date:    May 11, 2016

 Time:    9:00 AM – 12:00 PM

RSVP REQUIRED  

What Will You Learn?

·          The significance of water damage for Property-Casualty insurers.

·          Causes & effects of excessive moisture on structure, contents, and health.

·          How quickly microbial (mold) growth can appear as a result of excessive moisture.

·         What your insured experiences with a water loss.

·          Emergency tips that can be given by phone, to the insured, to keep the loss at a minimum.

·         Changes to water damage mitigation protocols.

·         How fast action, in handling water loss claims, will save money & property.

·        The procedures that mitigation companies utilize to detect, mitigate, and document water losses.

·        The state-of-the-art equipment is now used in mitigating water damage.

·         How ground water and sewage claims are handled.

·          Special restorative techniques for documents, electronics, and artwork.

 

Braymiller Market has a new Owner!

2/4/2016 (Permalink)

Braymiller Market's new owner - Stuart Green

Congradulations to Stuart Green, long time insurance professional, is the new owner of Braymiller Market. We love supporting local businesses! Stop in to meet Stuart.

Braymiller Marekt - 6936 Gowanda State Road, Hamburg, NY

Carpet Cleaning

1/28/2016 (Permalink)

Jackie really gets into her work!

SERVPRO of The Southtowns cleans area rugs! Please drop off your soiled area rugs to our office anytime during regular business hours. From general cleaning to deodorization or stain removal, we can make your rugs look "Like it never even happened."

Carpets act as a filter, trapping dust, dirt, gases, animal hair, and other soils. All carpet manufacturers agree on actions you can take between carpet cleanings to increase the life span of your carpet.

We also offer a range of specialized cleaning methods:

  • Bonnet Cleaning: A less aggressive method for short piled carpets.
  • Hot Water Extraction: A deeper cleaning method for all carpet types.
  • Deluxe Precondition and Rinse: Helps restore deeply soiled areas.
  • Showcase Premier Cleaning: The most thorough cleaning method in the industry.
  • Dry Cleaning: When color-fastness is an issue. 

Fire Damage

1/25/2016 (Permalink)

Soot Webs occur from very hot fires

Have you ever experienced something like this? After a fire "soot webs" may form, this is a reaction of the heat and smoke, not the result of poor house keeping. Always call your SERVPRO of The Southowns professionals before attempting to clean fire damage yourself.

Fire and Smoke - Home Emergency Tips

DO:

  • Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being imbedded into upholstery and carpets
  • Keep hands clean. Soot on hands can further spoil upholstery, walls, and woodwork
  • Blow or brush vacuum loose soot particles from upholstery, drapes, and carpets
  • Place old towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery, and carpet traffic areas.
  • If electricity is off, empty freezer and  refrigerator completely and prop doors open
  • Clean and protect chrome on kitchen and bathroom faucets, trim and appliances with a light coating of Vaseline or oil.
  • Wash house plants on both sides of leaves
  • Change HVAC filter
  • Tape double layers of cheesecloth over air registers

DON’T:

  • Attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces without first contacting your SERVPRO Professional
  • Attempt to shampoo carpet or upholstered furniture without first consulting your SERVPRO Professional
  • Attempt to clean any electrical appliances, TV sets, radios, etc that may have been close to fire, heat or water without first consulting an authorized repair service
  • Use any canned or packaged food or beverages that may have been stored close to fire, heat or water. (They may be contaminated.)
  • Turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet. Wiring may be wet or damaged.
  • Send garments to ordinary dry cleaner. Improper cleaning may set smoke odor. 

Facility Management Expo

1/21/2016 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of The Southtowns Facility Management Expo booth

SERVPRO of The Southtowns is a proud to be a vendor at the annual Facilities Management Expo. 

We work with all size businesses, from offices to warehouse and manufacturing facilities to make fire and water damage "Like it never even happened." 

The Western New York Facilities Management Expo is a regional showcase featuring products and services for maintenance, renovation, modernization and management of commercial, industrial, institutional, income properties and more.

As the largest Facilities Management Expo in the WNY region, with vendors and visitors from Western New York, North Eastern Pennsylvania, and Southern Ontario, attendees have a wide range of displays, seminars, and demonstrations to attend throughout the event.

Vendor categories include roofing, solar energy, alarms, cleaning supplies and services, flooring, fire and carbon monoxide protection systems, furniture, LED lighting, signage, painters, recycling services, air quality, safety equipment and more.

Flood Clean Up in North Boston, NY

1/20/2016 (Permalink)

Flooded business after heavy rain fall

After a significant rain fall, this business experienced flooding in their warehouse. We arrived on the scene within 30 minutes of their call. This picture shows our crew performing extraction, drying, and cleaning of their file storage room.  

Water damage in a business can cause a unique challenge. Confidential documents may need to be preserved, whether these include tax documents or customer files we have the experience to handle sensitive documents and restore them to a usable condition and prevent further damage.  

Returning a business to operation as quickly as possible is our top priority. Time that businesses have to be closed result in lost revenues which can be difficult to recover from. We work with the business to determine priority areas, such as the office or warehouse. 

Throw Back to the 90's

1/19/2016 (Permalink)

MCC Fire in science lab

MCC Fire in science lab circa the mid 1990s. Do you see Lyn and Thom Braun?! 

SERVPRO of The Southtowns has been performing fire and water restoration under the ownership to Thom and Lyn since 1995 and we continue to be dedicated to ongoing training. 

All of our crew and staff have weekly training on equipment and procedures to keep knowledge fresh and up to date. In an ever changing industry we provide IICRC certification in Water Damage Restoration and Fire Restoration. Our crews are also NYS Mold Remediation certified and Lead abatement certified. 

It is important for us that all of the SERVPRO of The Southtowns staff is well educated in not only fire and water restoration but also safety procedures to protect themselves and their team mates in what can include hazardous situations. 

Celebrating 20 Years!

7/23/2015 (Permalink)

This year Thom and Lyn Braun are celebrating 20 years of success! Congratulations on receiving the 2015 Chairman's Bronze Award from SERVPRO Industries for Outstanding Sales Performance.

Continuing Education Class

4/22/2015 (Permalink)

New York Insurance CONTINUING EDUCATION 

Presented By:  MikAnd, Inc.

Provider # NYPO-100291 Course # NYCR-237788

Sponsored by: SERVPRO® of the Southtowns   

Date:  May 6th, 2015

Breakfast Served Promptly: 8:30 AM – 9:00 AM

Time:   9:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Topic:  “Property Fire & Smoke Damage Loss Mitigation”

Location: J&M’s West End Inn

340 Union Street, Hamburg, NY 14075

Credit:  3 hours for PC, BR, C3, PA Licenses

Complimentary Breakfast Included

What Will You Learn?

  • The material costs of fire damage losses in the State of New York.
  • Cause of fires and preventative measures.
  • The effect of fire and smoke on structure surfaces and contents.
  • The factors that determine restoration and salvage.
  • The testing processes necessary to determine restoration vs. replacement.
  • The processes utilized to restore smoke-damaged walls, floors, hardwood, and carpet and fabrics
  • When ancillary services, including move-outs, dry cleaning, duct cleaning, and specialty restoration processes, are required.
  • How to deal with the in-shock, difficult, or uncooperative insured.
  • How commercial Disaster Recovery and Emergency Response plans can reduce fire loss costs for both insurance carrier and insured.

Registration Required  

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