HOW BASEMENTS FLOOD IN DRY WEATHER

Basement flooding can occur at any time, even in dry conditions.  Most home owners don’t think about basement flooding in dry weather, only when it’s during the wet summers. But there are many ways a basement can flood in dry weather causing major water damage to your finished space and contents.

There are a number of reasons why basements flood. Flooding can occur by seepage or flow through the walls or foundation floor, from surface water sources, or by a sanitary or storm sewer backup.

Most flood events do happen during wet weather, but it is quite possible for a flood to occur during dry weather too. Three of the most common reasons are as follows:

  1. A blocked or failed sanitary lateral. The sanitary sewer lateral, just like the shingles on your roof, or your paved driveway, is a feature that will degrade over time. As a lateral degrades, several things can happen. For example, tree roots might penetrate and the lateral might collapse because of gradual deterioration. These scenarios can block the lateral, resulting in a sewage backup. In this case, it will be your own home’s domestic wastewater that floods your basement. The only way for the wastewater to drain becomes the lowest fixture in the home – usually the floor drain or a basement level shower stall, sink or toilet. Your lateral, just like your roof, your driveway or windows, needs maintenance, and ultimately needs to be replaced or rehabilitated. Talk to a licensed plumber, who can carry out an assessment. Another reason for blockage of a sanitary sewer is simply due to what is being flushed down the toilet. Our Toilets and Drain page has a list of things not to put down your drain, or flush down your toilet. Toilets are for human waste and toilet paper, and that is pretty much it!
  2. Foundation drainage failure. Subdivisions are sometimes constructed in lower-lying areas that are generally wetter than others. In such cases, the foundation drainage system, whether by gravity or by pump, must work continuously to keep the ground water level around the foundation lower than the basement floor.
    Just as with sewer laterals, gravity foundation systems, often called weeping tiles, may degrade over time or get plugged by fine sediments. As a result, the ground around the foundation will cease to drain itself by gravity. In other cases, sump holes in the foundation are constructed to accommodate a sump pump. These devices pump out the water around the foundation and either discharge it to the lawn, storm sewer, or illegally to the sanitary sewer. Discharging a sump pump to the sanitary sewer is illegal, and should either be reported and/or repaired immediately. It is possible for these pumps to fail, or simply be unable to keep up with the incoming water, or get plugged. This flood type will be discussed further in the wet weather section.
  3. Water supply-line break or hot-water tank failure. Sometimes, a flood is due to a break in the home’s internal water supply plumbing or failure of the hot-water tank. This can result from aging plumbing or equipment, a puncture of a pipe during construction, or freezing-induced splitting of a pipe.

If your basement floods, immediate action is paramount.  Our emergency water damage restoration service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and you’ll always speak to a live person. Having the wet building material removed and the space structurally dried will prevent secondary damage and mold. If a flood should occur in your home or business, give our water damage restoration team a call, and we’ll have your space back to new in no time.

SPACE HEATER SAFETY TIPS

Heating equipment, like space heaters, are the leading cause of house fires in the United States. Local fire departments responded to an estimated average of 48,530 fires involving heating equipment each year in 2014-2018. These fires resulted in annual losses of 500 civilian deaths, 1,350 civilian injuries, and $1.1 billion in direct property damage. With the risks associated with space heater usage, it’s no surprise people are hesitant about using space heaters in their home. But as long as you follow some safety guidelines, space heaters aren’t inherently dangerous.  Here are some useful tips to understanding space heaters, and also how to properly purchase one suited for your home needs.

Four different types of space heaters

  • Fan-forced: Warm air is blown over metal coils.
  • Infrared: Infrared light bulbs create heat.
  • Ceramic: Ceramic heating element warms air.
  • Water or oil-filled: Heated water or oil travels through the unit.

No matter which type of space heater you buy, be sure to check that it’s a recent model with an Underwriters Laboratories label. Also check to see what size room the heater is designed for, and generally keep to devices appropriate for the room in which you plan to use them.

Space Heater Placement

It’s generally suggested that space heaters be placed at least 3 feet away from furniture, window treatments, bedding, clothing, rugs, and other combustibles. These items can cause a risk of fire if they come in contact with a unit’s electric heating element or too-hot surface.

Other Placement Tips

  • Make sure that the heater is placed on a hard, level surface.
  • Review your owner’s manual for specific instructions on your heater.
  • Never sit or drape anything on top of a portable heater, or use it to dry clothing or towels.
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smoke damage

Space heater safety features to consider

When purchasing a space heater, consider the following safety features:

  • Tip-Over Switch: Shuts the unit down if it’s not in an upright position  
  • Automatic shut-off/Overheat protection:Automatically shuts down the unit in the case of overheating
  • Thermostat:Monitors indoor temperature, which allows the unit to determine when to turn on and off
  • Plastic face: Keeps the grille from heating to the point of burning the skin upon contact

Extra safety features are good to keep in mind — especially if you plan to use the heater in certain contexts. If you have pets or children, tip-over switches and nonmetal faces are important features to consider. Likewise, if you plan to use the heater without constantly monitoring it yourself, you will probably want to consider an automatic shut-off feature, or a thermostat that allows you to set a certain target temperature.

Space heater safety features to consider

When purchasing a space heater, consider the following safety features:

  • Tip-Over Switch: Shuts the unit down if it’s not in an upright position  
  • Automatic shut-off/Overheat protection:Automatically shuts down the unit in the case of overheating
  • Thermostat:Monitors indoor temperature, which allows the unit to determine when to turn on and off
  • Plastic face: Keeps the grille from heating to the point of burning the skin upon contact

Extra safety features are good to keep in mind, especially if you plan to use the heater in certain contexts. If you have pets or children, tip-over switches and nonmetal faces are important features to consider. Likewise, if you plan to use the heater without constantly monitoring it yourself, you will probably want to consider an automatic shut-off feature, or a thermostat that allows you to set a certain target temperature.

Space heater safety tips

Space heaters have caused many house fires, injuries and deaths over the years. If you plan to use a space heater during the cold winter months, you’ll want to make sure you are using it properly to avoid potentially fatal mistakes.

To keep yourself and your home safe while using a space heater:

  • Review instructions and warning labels to ensure safe operation. 
  • Inspect your heater for damage. 
  • Place space heaters on low, flat surfaces. 
  • Keep out of high-traffic areas or doorways. 
  • Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from flammable items and objects, such as papers or curtains. 
  • Avoid leaving a space heater unattended — especially for long periods of time. 
  • Do not plug space heaters into extension cords or power strips. 
  • Unplug space heaters when not in use.

When it’s cold outside, a space heater can be the perfect way to create a warm, comfortable living area. Although space heaters can be a hazard, when used correctly they are a convenient, affordable option when you’re looking too quickly and easily supplement your home’s central heating system.

Fire & Smoke Damage

When a fire loss occurs in your home or business, it is nothing short of a tragedy. Immediate action is also a must to minimize the amount of soot from further destroying the structure and your personal contents. Our emergency response team is on call 24-7, and you will always speak to a live person no matter the time or date. We will bring your home back to pre-loss conditions, while documenting all of the damage, and work directly with your insurance carrier, so you can get back into your home safely and quickly.

LEARN MOREGET A QUOTE

PHILADELPHIA LOCATION:

Mold Solutions & Inspections
Philadelphia, PA 19148

Phone: 215-339-1769

FOLCROFT LOCATION:

Mold Solutions & Inspections
1555 Baltimore Avenue,
Folcroft, PA 19032

Phone: 215-339-1769

FREEHOLD LOCATION:

Mold Solutions & Inspections
4400 Route 9 South,
Suite 1000,
Freehold NJ, 07728

Phone: 732-303-8093

CAN PEX PIPES FREEZE?

Cross-linked polyethylene tubing, better known as PEX, has revolutionized plumbing installations and repiping in the last three decades. This flexible tubing, safe for potable water, can make gentle bends around obstructions. Where required, elbows and other joints can be quickly installed with clamps, eliminating the need for soldering or gluing required with copper or PVC pipe. PEX is also less expensive than copper and won’t corrode over time. PEX tubing installed in plumbing systems in Europe over 30 years ago is still intact and resilient today.

Pipe ruptures that occur during a hard freeze are a major issue in cold climates. The insurance industry reports that over a quarter-million homeowners annually suffer property damage from broken water supply pipes in freezing temperatures. If outside temperatures fall below the 20-degree Fahrenheit threshold that generally causes ice to form in water lines, pipes may freeze. However, PEX offers a potential advantage over rigid plumbing such as copper or hard PVC. Due to its flexibility, PEX has a small margin of expansion under the damaging pressure caused by ice formation. If the weather gets cold enough, PEX pipes can and will freeze like any plumbing. However, PEX may be less likely to rupture as a result of freezing.

Because outdoor temperature conditions that cause ice formation in pipes vary from the moderate to the extreme, PEX manufacturers can provide no guarantee against rupture due to freezing.Therefore, here are some other steps you can take to prevent PEX pipes from freezing in the first place:

  • Route PEX tubing through interior not exterior walls where possible.
  • Keep rooms at 55 degrees or more when outdoor temps drop below 20 degrees.
  • Insulate spans of PEX tubing exposed to freezing temperatures.
  • During spells of acutely cold weather, allow indoor faucets to dribble to relieve damaging pressure in pipes if ice forms.

WHAT IS WINDSTORM DAMAGE?

Damaging winds are often called “straight-line” winds to differentiate the damage they cause from tornados. Most thunderstorm winds that cause damage at the ground are a result of outflow generated by a thunderstorm downdraft. Damaging winds are classified as those exceeding 50-60 mph. Damage from severe thunderstorm winds account for half of all severe reports in the lower 48 states and is more common than damage from tornadoes. Wind speeds can reach up to 100 mph and can produce a damage path extending for hundreds of miles. Since most thunderstorms produce some straight-line winds as a result of outflow generated by the thunderstorm downdraft, anyone living in thunderstorm-prone areas of the world is at risk for experiencing this hazard. People living in mobile homes are especially at risk for injury and death. Even anchored mobile homes can be seriously damaged when winds gust over 80 mph.

Windstorm insurance covers the types of excessively gusty events, such as hurricanes and cyclones but some policies might exclude this coverage. Those who live in areas susceptible to this type of peril must purchase additional coverage to protect themselves. Residents of coastal states and midwestern states, where hurricanes and tornadoes are relatively common, fall into this category.

Windstorm insurance will typically cover physical damage to the property and personal belongings inside the home. Many policies also include coverage for detached structures such as garages and sheds. When big winds harm roofs and windows, rain and debris can cause additional damage. In such cases, most policies will cover repairs as long as the claim is filed soon after the event. Sometimes, windstorms are followed by storm surges and flooding, but windstorm insurance will not typically cover damage caused by these rising waters. Flood insurance coverage provided by the federal government must be purchased separately, and it takes 30 days to go into effect.

What To Do Before The Storm Rolls In

These are some tips of things to do in or around your home to mitigate wind damage due to a tropical system.

Trim Trees and Shrubs

  • Trees close to your home can snap or uproot.
  • High wind can turn branches into projectiles during the storm.

Remove Debris From Your Yard

  • Bring in outdoor furniture.
  • Lawn chairs, trampolines, pool supplies, etc can be turned into flying debris.

Cover Windows

  • This is necessary in order to guard against flying debris.
  • Plywood or professionally installed shutters are best.
  • Secure materials for this NOW while there is a surplus. Do not wait until a storm is forming in the Gulf.
  • Taping windows DOES NOTHING to protect your home from wind!

Reinforce Garage Doors

  • This will prevent wind from entering and causing dangerous/expensive damage.

Proper Maintenance

  • Ensure that roofing materials, fencing, etc. are properly maintained and in good condition.
  • This will allow them to be more resistant to wind damage.

Clear Clogged Rain Gutters and Downspouts

  • This will help with the flow of water during heavy rainfall.

THE MEANING OF LABOR DAY

Observed the first Monday in September, Labor Day is an annual celebration of the social and economic accomplishments of American workers. Labor Day is rooted in the late nineteenth century, when labor activists pushed for a federal holiday to recognize the many contributions workers have made to America’s strength, prosperity, and well-being. Before it was a federal holiday, Labor Day was recognized by labor activists and individual states. After municipal ordinances were passed in 1885 and 1886, a movement developed to secure state legislation. New York was the first state to introduce a bill, but Oregon was the first to pass a law recognizing Labor Day, on February 21, 1887. During 1887, four more states – Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York – passed laws creating a Labor Day holiday. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 more states had adopted the holiday, and on June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday.

The first official Labor Day was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883. By 1894, 23 more states had adopted the holiday, and on June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed a law making the first Monday in September of each year a national holiday. American labor has raised the nation’s standard of living and contributed to the greatest production the world has ever known and the labor movement has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pays tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership – the American worker.

For me personally as an owner of a company, I believe your workforce is an extension of your personal values and goals, and a key component to your gains, but business wise and personally. Without dedicated and hard working employees whom share your drive and devotion, your business will crumble no matter how good of an owner you may be. It is within this knowledge of understanding the value of a good and loyal employee that has allowed me and my business to grow year over year, while providing a level of service that is second to none. Without each and every one of them, I would still be in the same position I was nearly 25 years ago, when I was just starting out and struggling to survive in a competitive market. And with that being said, I want to personally thank all of my employees, who make my life and my job easier and an absolute pleasure day in and day out. Happy Labor Day!!!

PREVENTING PIPES FROM FREEZING

As more below freezing temperatures roll into our area, as it did this Christmas, it’s vital that you know how to prevent pipes from freezing. When water freezes in your pipes, whether due to quick drops in outside temperatures, poor insulation or your thermostat is set too low, its volume expands and puts pressure on the pipe from inside. This can cause a burst pipe, but even a small crack or two can be the start of some widespread and expensive water damage.

There are number of steps you can can take when learning how to keep pipes from freezing in the first place.

  • For any outdoor faucets with cut-off valves, be sure they are closed and faucets are drained. You can also protect them by using faucet covers throughout the winter months.
  • Keep your thermostat on 55 to 60 if you’re going on vacation, and if you have a trusted neighbor or relative that lives close by, have them check the home periodically if you’re gone for a long period of time.
  • Insulate pipes located in the attic and crawl space using pipe insulation, even if the climate where you live does not often have hard freeze conditions. You can also wrap pipes in heat tape or heat cables with a thermostat control. The best pipe insulation for your situation will depend on your home. Always install according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Seal or caulk any cracks that might let in cold air, especially places where pipes run from inside to outside the home, such as dryer vents or water pipes.
  • Preventing frozen pipes should be done outdoors as well. As you winterize your home, disconnect your garden hoses.
  • If cold weather settles in and you notice temperatures beginning to drop, start a small drip of both hot water and cold water in the kitchen, bath, laundry areas and any other faucets in the home. A small water drip is all that is needed to keep water moving through the system and prevent frozen pipes.

Sometimes the simplest measures like just turning off all exterior water lines such as spigots, can avoid major water damage issues. Instead of waiting for temperatures to plummet, turn these lines off once it’s too cold to use them, and thusly this will decrease your chances dramatically from having a flood in your home.