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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Archived Blog Posts

After the fire

6/30/2022 (Permalink)

After the fire trucks leave, your home likely suffers from fire and smoke damage and extensive water damage from firefighting efforts. The experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac have the specialized fire restoration training needed to restore your home to pre-fire condition. There are several immediate issues that need addressed. Every fire damage event is a little different, and requires a unique solution, but the general process stays the same. The steps listed below illustrate our process for the “typical” fire damage emergency.

Have Questions About Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage? Call Today – (231) 723-4872

Step 1: Emergency Contact

The restoration process begins when you call us. If you call during business hours, the office staff will ask questions regarding the fire damage event that will help us respond immediately with the appropriate equipment and resources. After hours calls will be answered by our trained answering service who will get the basic information (name and best contact number) and will page one of the owners or managers on call. We will then immediately return your call and get the process started.

Step 2: Inspection and Fire Damage Assessment

As soon as the fire department clears the site and the fire marshal gives the go ahead (may not be necessary on smaller fires), we carefully inspect and test of your home or property to determine the extent of the fire, smoke, and soot damage. This step is crucial to developing a plan of action. At this time we can answer any questions you or your insurance agent or adjuster may have and gather information allowing us to provide a price to clean the structure and contents.

Step 3: Immediate Board-Up and Roof-Tarp Service

Fire damage can often compromise windows, walls, and roofs. To maintain security and to protect against further damage, we can board up missing windows and walls and place tarps on damaged roofs. Unfortunately, there are people who prey on home and business owners who have suffered a loss. They are not above following a fire truck and coming back later to see what isn’t secured. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac can provide security with board-up and roof-tarp services.

Step 4: Water Removal and Drying (if water damage is present)

If the fire is severe and your electric service is compromised, SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac can help get power restored. We can also help get heat restored if freezing temperatures are an issue. The water removal process begins almost immediately (if power is available) and removes the majority of the water. We then use dehumidifiers and air movers to remove the remaining water and complete the drying process. 

Step 5: Removal of Smoke and Soot from All Surfaces

Often once the drying is complete, (usually 3-4 days or less) an adjuster approved estimate has been prepared and contracts signed. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac crews are then ready to start cleaning your home or business. We use specialized equipment and techniques to remove smoke and soot from ceilings, walls, and other surfaces. 

Step 6: Cleaning and Sanitizing

We clean, sanitize, and disinfect all of the restorable items and structures that were damaged by the fire. We use a variety of cleaning techniques to restore your belongings to pre-fire condition. Normal procedures include HEPA vacuuming (if necessary) followed by wet cleaning hard surfaces and non-pourus surfaces. If needed, we can clean many contents with our ultra-sonic cleaning machine. We’re also trained to remove odors using industrial air scrubbers, ozone generators, and fogging equipment.

Step 7: Restoration

Restoration is the final step—getting your home or business to its pre-fire condition. Restoration may involve minor repairs, such as replacing drywall, painting, and installing new carpet; or it may entail major repairs such as the reconstruction of various areas or rooms in a home or business. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac is a full service restoration company. Our general contracting license allows our in-house carpenters and sub-contractors to safely restore your home or business. We follow all Michigan building codes and OHSA rules to protect you and our employees.

What to expect if you have a fire in your home

6/29/2022 (Permalink)

Fire damage, including smoke and soot, affects not only the structure of your house but also your belongings. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac understands your family’s furniture, clothing, keepsakes, and other belongings make your house more than a structure; they make it a home. Contents cleaning is one area where “Do it yourself” attempts are probably a bad idea. Unlike structural areas where you can cover incomplete cleaning with a coat of paint, content cleaning needs to be done correctly or your home could smell when high humidity amplifies odors in the summer.

If You Have Questions or Need Help, Call Us Today – (231) 723-4872

Contents Restoration

SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac specializes in restoring contents damaged by water, fire, or mold. Our expertise and “restore” versus “replace” mentality can help you save money while preserving precious keepsakes that can’t be replaced. We pretest your belongings to determine what items we can restore to pre-fire condition. We use several methods of cleaning your contents, including:

  • Dry Cleaning - Used for cleaning light residues or to pre-clean prior to wet cleaning. This can involve using a natural rubber “dry sponge” or HEPA vacuuming the surfaces.
  • Wet Cleaning - An effective cleaning method for removing moderate to heavy residues.
  • Spray and Wipe -Effective for items that can’t withstand wet cleaning.
  • Foam Cleaning - Used for upholstery fabrics that might shrink or bleed if wet cleaned.
  • Abrasive Cleaning - Involves agitation of the surface being cleaned.
  • Immersion or Ultrasonic Cleaning - Contents are dipped into a bath of the cleaning product.


If your home requires extensive restoration or cleaning due to fire damage, SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac can conduct an organized, efficient move-out of the affected area. Move-out will provide several benefits, including:

  • A quicker remodeling process
  • Protecting items from potential damage
  • Protecting contents from further on-site damage

It is not unusual for restoration to take several months. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac uses a state of the art bar code tracking system which allows us to find your Christmas decorations, or Easter basket when the seasons change. After restoration is completed, we will work with you to coordinate the move-in according to your needs. Make sure to check with your insurance company to see if you have coverage limits on contents.

Electronic Cleanup

Fire-damaged electronics can present a serious hazard. Do not attempt to turn on or operate any electrical device that you suspect has been damaged by fire. Smoke residues can contain acids that corrode metal surfaces. If the residues are not removed, corrosion causes electronic failure in the device. We will coordinate the restoration of your electronics, including:

  • Television sets
  • DVD players
  • Computers
  • And more

The process of fighting the fire involves spraying water on the fire to cool and wet the structure. This also creates large amounts of steam which aids in firefighting but can damage electronics far from the source. The key to restoring electronics is taking prompt action to prevent further damage. Electronics will be cleaned and inspected by a qualified electronics technician.

Document / Photograph Drying

When your valuable documents, including photographs, are damaged by water, fire, or steam, extreme caution should be taken to help ensure the fire damage does not destroy the document. Although some documents may not be restored to pre-fire damage condition, SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac can save a great deal and help minimize additional damage. 

Depending on the type of documents and the level of fire, smoke, or soot damage, they have five options for the restoration of documents:

  • Air Drying
  • Dehumidification
  • Freezer Drying
  • Vacuum Freeze Drying
  • Vacuum Thermal Drying

A final option involves actually copying the documents and returning them in digital format.

Contents Claim Inventory Service

When a fire emergency strikes, the damage can often feel overwhelming. We can help ease the worry and confusion during the recovery process by offering our Contents Claim Inventory Service (CCIS), which provides a detailed and accurate list of your belongings. We take a room-by-room inventory of your contents, including digital photos, and in some instances, bar coding. Be sure to ask the professionals at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac if this service is covered by your insurance company.

Our Contents Claim Inventory Service:

  • Pre-loss list and value of contents
  • Detailed and accurate report
  • Better information to settle claims quicker
  • Assistance with burden of proof for claims

Peace of mind when you need it most! Because you have enough to worry about after suffering a loss, let the experts at SERVPRO use our experience to help make it “Like it never even happened.”

What to expect if you have a fire in your home

6/29/2022 (Permalink)

Fire Tips that can help you until the professionals arrive

 Fire damage can range from burning a pan of food on the range, to a furnace or stove puff back, to a major electrical fire. The experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac will meet you or your representatives on site to determine the scope of work. Often we will also meet with your insurance adjuster (with your permission) to make sure everyone agrees what needs done, who is going to do it, and the approximate cost. In fires, as with most insurance claims, communication is the key to make everything go smoothly.

Issues you need to be aware of on a fire include:

  • Is there also water damage that needs addressed?
  • Does the home require board up or roof repairs?
  • Do you have electricity?
  • Can you stay in the home or do you need to move out?
  • Will the contents need “packed out” and stored?
  • Has the fire marshal or building inspector signed off?

After any fire damage situation, your primary focus should be safety first:

  • Is it safe to stay in the house?
  • Electrical and "slip and fall" hazards are some of the most prevalent concerns.
  • Only do activities that are safe for you to perform.
  • Wet materials can be VERY heavy. Be careful!

Have Smoke or Fire Damage? Call (231) 723-4872

What To Do After A Fire

  • Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into upholstery and carpets.
  • Keep hands clean so as not to further soil upholstery, walls and woodwork.
  • Place clean towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery and carpet traffic areas.
  • If electricity is off, empty freezer and refrigerator and prop doors open.
  • Clean and protect chrome with light coating of petroleum jelly or oil.
  • Wash houseplants on both sides of leaves.
  • Change HVAC filter.
  • Tape double layers of cheesecloth over air registers.

What NOT To Do After A Fire

  • Don't attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces or shampoo carpet or upholstery without contacting us.
  • Don't attempt to clean any electrical appliances that may have been close to fire, heat or water without consulting an authorized repair service.
  • Don't use any canned or packaged food or beverages that may have been stored near the fire, heat or water.
  • Don't turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet. The wiring may be damaged.
  • Don't send garments to an ordinary dry cleaner. Improper cleaning may set smoke odor.

Fire Tips

6/24/2022 (Permalink)

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 [[Franchise Name]] 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 SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac at 231-723-4872

Fire Tips

6/24/2022 (Permalink)

Smoking and candle use are just two leading cause of death in home fires in the Unites States every year. You may be surprised to learn that most smoking fires were started on an exterior balcony or open porch. Many smoking fire deaths were also related to the use of medical oxygen while smoking. Three of every five candle fires involved the candle being placed next to combustible materials, leaving them burning while you sleep or placing flammable material near a candle such as pillows, blankets or clothing.  Another hint is do not smoke in your bed or after taking medicine that makes you tired. Your friends at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac hope you never have a damaging fire but if you do, give us a call at 231-723-4872 and we can help in making it "Like it never even happened."

What Sets SERVPRO apart?

5/11/2022 (Permalink)

SERVPRO Is the Restoration Expert You Need | SERVPRO® of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac

SERVPRO offers much more than general services like cleanup, construction or restoration. We are here for all manmade or natural disasters anytime they strike.

Our Michigan climate means we will face severe weather, and having a locally owned expert restoration in our backyard is invaluable.

Water Damage

Heavy rainfall, snowmelt, river flooding and shoreline flooding along Lake Michigan have all resulted in extensive damage in our communities. Flooding happens quickly, and nationwide has resulted in more than $10 billion in damages every year.

Living in this environment means it is likely you will deal with some kind of flooding in your home or business. SERVPRO is well-equipped to deal with any damages you may incur. We will assess your damage and help you understand the severity of your needs in order to make the right choice for your recovery.

We have the tools to find hidden moisture and remove any standing water. We will work with you to create a restoration plan that will ensure a dry home completely recovered back to preloss condition.

Fire Damage

In the United States, a fire department responds to an emergency every 23 seconds. In 2020, there was an estimated $8.1 billion in damage and losses nationwide resulting from fire.

With our seven-step restoration process we can launch your recovery immediately. Restoration begins with an inspection and damage assessment and moves through all the in-between steps required before repairs and construction are started.

Storm Damage

Storms in our Manistee community have brought us floods and blizzards. Our goal at SERVPRO is always to have you back in your newly restored home as soon as possible, no matter what weather we experience.

Storm and water damage can affect everything from the structure of your business or home to the belongings kept inside. We specialize in content restoration, with the mindset of restoring rather than replacing.

We offer services such as dry cleaning, wet cleaning, foam cleansing and abrasive cleaning. For a more extensive clean, we also offer move-out services to give your home a complete restoration back to preloss condition as soon as possible.

What Sets SERVPRO Apart?

We’re there when you need us. Via our 247 Emergency Line, you can reach out to a SERVPRO expert day or night and receive immediate assistance.

We are part of the No. 1 cleanup and restoration team in the nation with more than 50 years experience. We’re your neighbors and have lived in Michigan a long time, but we’re also backed by a network of more than 1,900 locations around the United States. You can rest assured we’ll have your home or business back to “Like it never even happened” status as quickly as possible.

Regardless of the type of damage sustained, SERVPRO has the tools and teams to help your home or business recover from its disastrous effects. Contact us anytime when you need a dependable team to help you rebuild your life.

What to Know About Flooding Types and Causes | SERVPRO® of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac

4/18/2022 (Permalink)

Did you know? Flooding is the most common natural disaster, claiming more lives in the United States per year than hurricanes, tornadoes or lightning. Floods affect everything from a single property to an entire city.

All 50 states and every U.S territory is affected by flooding. Flooding events in each part of the nation can carry different degrees of severity, but there are still similarities in the types of floods and the casualties experienced. There are three common types of floods, and four common causes.

3 Types of Natural Flooding

Flash floods are a common form of flooding resulting from a storm moving into an area with heavy amounts of rain. Soil becomes overwhelmed with moisture, and excess water creates runoff that can carry away small or large objects.

River floods are events that occur when a river becomes too full and water begins to spill over into its banks. As the water pushes past the boundaries of the river, it leaves behind a path of destruction.

Coastal floods happen near large bodies of water. Cyclonic activity, storm surge and rising tides result in flooding that can create wide swaths of damage.

The 4 Most Common Causes of Natural Flooding

Heavy rainfall. We have certainly had our share of heavy rain in Michigan, and here in our Manistee neighborhoods, that can equal flooding along the river. Both river flooding and flash floods have wreaked havoc in our towns in the past as storms with extreme amounts of rain move through. Urban areas tend to experience these kinds of flooding more often due to lack of soil and more asphalt and concrete.

Oceanic activity. While Lake Michigan gives us a taste of shoreline flooding, those areas of our nation that border the ocean or gulf experience weather events such as hurricanes, storm surge and rising tides. These events can cause catastrophic flooding and result in extreme damage. We have seen firsthand the damage that water can cause to our own beaches and lake-bordering towns.

Dams and levees failing. The most memorable and devastating example of a levee breaking was in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina. Dams and levees break when they are cracked or under extreme pressure from storm surge and they can no longer hold water back. This breach causes disastrous flooding and monumental damage.

Snowmelts and ice dams. Our prolonged freezing temperatures and heavy amounts of snow over the winter can lead to another danger as things begin to warm up. Snowmelt has consistently increased flooding in our towns as well as led to ice dams in our rivers. Ice dams or ice jams are a common occurrence here as ice is forced downstream creating a block in the river and forcing water to spill over. Relief from the cold temperatures is always appreciated, but we also have to be prepared for the damage our melting winter precipitation can cause.

Regardless of the cause of the flooding, SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac has the tools and teams to help your home or business recover from its disastrous effects. Contact us anytime when flooding or water damage makes a mess in your life.

When you suffered fire damage call SERVPRO

4/15/2022 (Permalink)

When a home or business fire occurs it can be a very stressful event. Damage to personal belongings and the contests of a building is just one of the concerns. The timely mitigation is the key to controlling the damage, while reducing the downtime and the recovery costs. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac offers 24 hour emergency because they know and understand how disruptive fires can be for families, business owners, tenants and even customers. Our professionals can help prevent fire damage from creating long term problems by being on site within hours to begin emergency mitigation services. The rapid response by our professionals will help limit damages. Call SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac at 231-723-4872 so we can help your home or business get back to "Like it never even happened."

Smoke alarms: saving lives

4/15/2022 (Permalink)

Smoke alarms play a vital role in saving lives, and when properly installed and maintained can reduce the risk of fire injury by half.

In homes, smoke alarms should be in every bedroom, outside all sleeping quarters and on every level including the basement. In office and commercial environments, check your state requirements or contact your local Fire Marshall to help ensure specific building fire codes and smoke detector requirements are met.

Review the following tips regarding smoke detector installation and maintenance:

- Install smoke alarms on every level of the house, including basements

- Smoke alarms should be installed away from the kitchen to prevent false alarm. They should generally be at least 10 feet from a cooking appliance. 

- Test smoke alarms at least monthly using the test button. 

- Replace batteries in all smoke alarms at least once a year and the unit replaced every ten years. If the alarm "chirps" the battery is low and should be replaced right away. Smoke alarms with non-replaceable batteries need the entire smoke alarm unit replaced every ten years.

- Never disable or remove the battery from and alarm. 

If you need help installing, testing or changing batteries in your smoke alarms contact your local Fire Department. 

Make sure your home or business has a fire emergency plan in place. For more information on Emergency Preparedness call SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac at 231-723-4872 that is always ready to help.

SERVPRO and the flower shop flood

3/11/2022 (Permalink)

During a heavy rain storm event, a local flower shop basement was flooded with sewage when the storm sewer overflowed into the sanitary sewer and came up the basement shower. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac was called to this large basement storage area filled with stock and seasonal items normally sold upstairs. Because raw sewage filled the basement, all porous materials had to be photographed, inventoried, and (if necessary) properly disposed of under sanitary sewage rules. The entire basement had to be mucked out, hot water rinsed and extracted, steam cleaned and disinfected with a SERVPRO proprietary anti-microbial. All non-porous materials on the floor needed to be cleaned and raised on pallets to allow the floor and shelving to be professionally dried. After drying equipment was set and the building dried, the contents were reset. Due to the large amount of stock this was a very large loss and took several days to complete. Our goal is always getting our customers back in business as quickly as possible. If you have a loss, no matter how large, be assured that the experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac, can make it "Like it never even happened." Call us at 877-350-4872.

SERVPRO and an attic with mold

3/11/2022 (Permalink)

Early last summer SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac was called to a home with possible mold issues in the attic. After our inspection we reported that the bathroom vent fan was improperly venting into the attic making the moisture load in the attic high enough to promote mold growth. After properly venting the fan discharge outside thru the soffit we ice blasted the sheeting with high pressure air and dry ice. Following the removal and replacement of the blown in insulation, the attic was returned to preloss condition and the homeowner was able to sell his home. SERVPRO professionals handle water damages on a daily basis and are thoroughly trained in mold removal and the proper way to handle and rid the home or business of the mold issue. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac can efficiently restore your home back to a safe and healthy environment. Any questions you may have give us a call at 231-723-4870 to speak with one of our trained professionals today!


SERVPRO to the rescue of a flooded basement in Manistee

12/14/2021 (Permalink)

During a recent storm event in Manistee, SERVPRO was called to a flooded basement. The power had failed shutting down the sump pump, flooding the entire basement. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac extracted the water off the floors, inventoried and dried affected contents, steam cleaned the floors, and applied any EPA registered anti-microbial to all affected surfaces. After setting drying equipment, the loss was monitored until dry and all drying records and detailed work invoice were sent to the insurance company for payment. Even though we were under a micro-event storm we were able to complete the job in the normal 3 days drying time. This allowed the homeowners to quickly regain full use of their basement. Always happy to be here to help make it "Like it never even happened."

SERVPRO to the rescue on a holiday weekend

11/29/2021 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac was called to the home of an elderly Mason County widow on the July 4th holiday weekend. Because she was mostly confined to the main floor of her home, she didn’t realize that there was a malfunction in the basement toilet. We responded within an hour, documented the loss, took pictures and itemized the damaged contents, removed and hauled away the sewage impacted carpets and started cleaning the mess. This included first mucking out the solids and removing the glued down carpet, steam cleaning the concrete, removing the baseboards and damaged paneling, and moving the savable contents to a safe area for cleaning and drying. The next step was setting drying equipment to return the structure to pre loss conditions and prevent mold growth. After the basement was clean and dry, SERVPRO restored the loss and reset all the homeowners contents truly making it "Like it never even happened." Call us at 1-877-350-4872, we are always here to help.

Sewage damage and insurance coverage

11/15/2021 (Permalink)

If you live on a city street, your sewer line is probably shared with your neighbor. This means sewer backups will usually not be covered, as the damage came from somewhere other than inside your home. Check your policy carefully as sewage damage is one grey area that varies with different insurance companies. Some don’t cover it at all, some cover structure only (no contents) at a limited amount, and a few companies cover everything. Often the city workers will tell you that the damage was their fault. The city insurance adjuster often does not agree with this statement and coverage becomes an issue. Whether it is covered or not, the sewage needs cleaned up and the experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac can help. Give us a call at 877-350-48782.

Call a PRO for your sewage damage

11/10/2021 (Permalink)

To make it more complicated, a full septic tank, overloaded drain field, tree roots blocking the line to the tank, or a collapsed line either in or out of the septic tank all will cause sewage to back up into your home. If there is nowhere for the water and solids to go outside, they will find a way to cause damage inside your home. Often the sewage will come up a basement toilet or shower when water is used upstairs in the kitchen, bathroom, or shower. We have even seen sewage come out of washing machines, laundry drains, or basement sinks. No matter where it comes out, you need to call the experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac at 877-350-4872 to make IT "Like it never even happened."

What happens if a storm damages your home and you are put on a waiting list?

11/10/2021 (Permalink)

It happens. During the last big micro event in west Michigan we had over 75 claims filed during the first 48 hours. While not ideal, please don't panic. Usually it takes a day or two for the water to completely stop coming in from the floods and help is coming. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac continued to take leads and contact information around the clock. Our three truck mounts and 5 crews were dispatched as quickly as possible. We immediately notified the other SERVPROs in Western Michigan and asked for additional crews. We bunched the jobs by area and sent the first group of Baldwin jobs to the SERVPRO of Mount Pleasant, Clare & Houghton Lake. We did the same thing for Northern Manistee County to the SERVPRO of Big Rapids and sent leads for Mason County jobs to SERVPRO of NE Grand Rapids. Fortunately the Cadillac and Wellston areas were unaffected.

Other SERVPROs in Gaylord and Muskegon also volunteered to send crews if needed. By the end of the week all customers had been helped. When the out of town SERVPROs finished their leads, we sent them 5 more jobs until the list was empty. While being put on a waiting list can be scary, the experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac can help. Give us a call at 877-350-4872 to start making it “Like it never even happened."

Sewage backup in septic tank?

11/2/2021 (Permalink)

If you live outside of town and own a septic tank system, sewage backup questions are still a grey area in your policy. Many insurance companies treat the septic tank as an extension of your plumbing and as a result cover any loss. Others either deny the claim or cover a limited amount for structure cleaning only. Sewage losses do vary by company and you must take the time to read your policy or call your agent BEFORE you have a loss. This is one area you can compare insurance companies as some cover things others deny. While we cannot guarantee coverage, we can guarantee that the experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac will clean up the mess and remove the offensive odors. Give us a call at 877-350-4872 to get started.

SERVPRO can help with your sewage questions.

11/1/2021 (Permalink)

During the nearly 20 years that I have been carrying the pager for after hours calls, I am often surprised at sewage coverage questions that I get from homeowners. As always, I start with the disclaimer that the experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac do not make coverage determinations, as that is solely the responsibility of your adjuster. After doing thousands of water losses over the years we do see pretty clear patterns on what is and isn’t covered. The rules are surprisingly consistent for the 40-50 different insurance companies that we work with. First, the water must originate inside of the insured home. This means no ground water coming in your sump pump, sliding door, walls, floor, windows or sewage system. Give us a call at 877-350-48782 and we can talk you through your loss. We are always here to help.

Another reason to call SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac

11/1/2021 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac has been doing reconstruction for nearly 20 years. We are truly a "Full Service Company". We have multiple building licensees associated with the franchise and our owner Nick has had his building license since he joined SERVPRO shortly after graduating in 2009 with a degree in Architecture. We have several crews of carpenters and helpers on staff and have relationships with plumbers, electricians, HVAC specialists, roofers, cabinet specialists, asbestos removers, painters, (you name it) in all 6 counties in Western Michigan. If we take it apart because it is wet, or moldy, or burned, we can put it back together and make it "Like it never even happened."

Times have changed. Homeowners, agents, adjusters, and insurance companies now require restoration contractors to be full service. Studies have consistently shown that homeowners prefer having to deal with only one company from start to finish. We have successfully completed jobs at hundreds of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac has formal and informal national and local accounts with many of the insurance companies that serve the cities and counties of western Michigan. Give us a call at 877-350-4872 to see how we can help you restore your home or business.

Have asbestos in your loss?

11/1/2021 (Permalink)

Although asbestos can be found in residential losses, it is far more likely to be found in schools and churches, hospitals and convention centers, government buildings, and gyms and hotels. Many people falsely believe that asbestos has been banned in the US. The EPA says that there are more than 3,000 construction materials currently used in the US that contain asbestos. Many are imported from countries that have lax or no limits on amounts allowed. When in doubt your local SERVPRO will test these products before disturbing them to keep your building and employees safe. All SERVPRO employees are trained in asbestos awareness and many are also trained in asbestos remediation. Because most insurance companies will cover asbestos as part of the loss you need to call the highly trained professionals at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac at 877-350-4872 if you have a loss.

Is my sewage damage covered?

11/1/2021 (Permalink)

If you live on a city street, your sewer line is probably shared with your neighbor. This means sewer backups will usually not be covered, as the damage came from somewhere other than inside your home. Check your policy carefully as sewage damage is one grey area that varies with different insurance companies. Some don’t cover it at all, some cover structure only (no contents) at a limited amount, and a few companies cover everything. Often the city workers will tell you that the damage was their fault. The city insurance adjuster often does not agree with this statement and coverage becomes an issue. Whether it is covered or not, the sewage needs cleaned up and the experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac can help. Give us a call at 877-350-48782.

So why test for mold?

10/11/2021 (Permalink)

Due to clear conflict of interest issues, over 30 states have made it illegal for cleaning and restoration companies to sample and complete mold clearance tests on their own work. Because Michigan has no mold laws, many Michigan restoration companies do sampling before and after cleaning. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac gets asked to sample homes and businesses on a regular basis and we always explain why it is probably a bad idea. Other than the possible conflict of interest issues, most of the time it does not make any sense to sample. Most mold evaluations can be done by using moisture meters, IR cameras, and visible inspections. If you see visible mold, spend your money on removing it. It really doesn't matter what type of mold you have, you need to address the water issue that caused the mold and then remove the mold. 

So why test? If litigation is possible sometimes you may need proof that mold exists. A landlord may refuse to believe mold is present without testing. Remember, to be admissible in court, the samples should be taken by an independent third party. Samples taken by a cleaning company or someone who has an interest in the outcome usually will not be allowed as evidence. Another reason for sampling can occur if someone is getting sick and the doctor requires it to help with diagnosis or treatment. Sometimes proof is needed that the cleaning was successful and the home is safe to reoccupy. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac has also done testing to rule out mold as a contributor to illness. Be assured that if testing is indicated we can help but you must be very careful who tests and why they test.

Any time human health is an issue we always recommend an independent third party complete the testing. If you believe you have a mold problem, call the experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac at 877-350-4872 for help and advice.

SERVPRO, the team of professionals you can count to help during a disaster.

9/20/2021 (Permalink)

During last winters deep freeze and subsequent power outages in Texas, nearly 400 SERVPRO’s traveled to help the local franchises. This quick action prevented literally millions of dollars in additional damages caused by mold and secondary damages. Even before the power was restored, SERVPRO's from all over the country (even a crew from Hawaii) arrived in Texas and started demolition of the wet materials and provided generators for power to restore heat and begin the drying process. Don’t wait for a national or state disaster to be declared, call SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac at 877-350-4872 and get a team of professionals headed for your home or business. We are always here to help make it "Like it never even happened."

SERVPRO is your local and national restoration company for storms and disasters.

9/15/2021 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac is part of the national storm team and can respond anywhere we are needed. If the disaster is local, we can also request help from local SERVPRO’s across the state. During last summers micro-event which dropped the all-time state record for rain in a 24 hour period across Mason and Manistee counties, we had help from SERVPRO’s from Clare, Grand Rapids, Big Rapids and Muskegon. The allowed us to “paint the local counties Green” and get our customers lives and homes back within days. This is something no mom and pop restoration company can match. If you have a disaster, give SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac a call at 877-350-4872. Always here to help.

Large size commercial losses with SERVPRO

9/9/2021 (Permalink)

The size of commercial losses compared to residential homes is another large difference between these two types of losses. While a home may be 2,000 or 3,000 square foot, schools, hospitals, or factories may be 10 or 100 times that size. A big box store or food distribution center may be 250,000 square feet. At that level there often isn’t power to run enough drying equipment to quickly dry the loss. The experts at SERVPRO can bring semi-mounted generators and propane fired desiccant dryers that can quickly dry any sized building. These units are independent of the local power of the fuel grid and can operate 24/7 for as long as needed. Just call SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac at 877-350-4872 to get the crew that is faster to any size disaster.

Commercial losses are simpler with the help of SERVPRO

9/9/2021 (Permalink)

Another major difference in commercial and residential losses is the volume of MIP’s (Materially Interested Parties) that flock to the loss site. There can be multiple owners, tenants, and insurance companies involved in the loss. They will often call their own engineers, architects, building managers, and consultants and might even get third party estimators involved. Many times insurance companies will call in a third party loss specialist to attempt to control the total cost of both the disaster mitigation and reconstruction. These large loss commercial claims require specialized help that only SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac, your Fire & Water - Cleanup and Restoration professionals can provide. So call us at 877-350-4872 we are always here to help in making it "Like it never even happened."

Advantages of using SERVPRO storm team

9/9/2021 (Permalink)

There are many advantages of using SERVPRO "Storm" versus local contractors. Every day across the United States, SERVPRO’s are traveling for storm events. These may be localized micro storms which drop 12 inches or more of rain in a county sized area, wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, or manmade events such as 911, chemical plant explosions, or other unnatural events. Whatever causes the event, it often overwhelms the local SERVPRO’s ability to quickly help all the affected customers. This is where the national storm teams step in to make it "Like it never even happened." If this happens to you, your first call should be to your local SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac at 877-350-4872. We are always here to help. 

Keeping your commercial property secured during a loss

8/31/2021 (Permalink)

Security can be another issue with commercial losses. In a residential loss, often the home is still occupied but commercial losses typically close during the loss or at least limit daily access after hours. SERVPRO can provide fencing or guards to protect the property as well as video security. When your business is damaged and shut down, the last thing you need to worry about is security. The experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac will work with your property management team to make sure there are no gaps, and everyone is on the same page.

Often customers will still need access to elevators and loading docks. Deliveries can be expected 24/7 and many times unaffected portions of the building will continue to operate, even during the loss.  It is not unusual for multiple users of the building to have different daily needs. You can’t assume the building will be empty just because they have had a disaster.  Never take a chance with a non-local company when you can call the experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac at 877-350-4872.

Heating and ventilation in residential versus commercial buildings

8/26/2021 (Permalink)

Another big difference between residential and commercial buildings is heating and ventilation. Homes usually have a furnace and/or AC unit and transmit the heat and cooling with ducts. Commercial buildings often “dump” the conditioned air into areas above the ceilings and use ceiling grids and fans to cool or heat in each zone or room. This can create a problem when a small fire (smoke), or mold issue is spread throughout the building by the HVAC system.  Commercial buildings often have sprinkler systems, computer rooms and networks as well as multiple zones controlling the heat and air conditioning.

Other areas of concern involve the placement of fresh air intakes for the outside air makeup systems. These are often placed on hot roofs which are off gassing chemicals, or near idling diesel trucks which can compromise the air quality being sucked into the building. Filters on the fresh air system are another issue that must be dealt with during a water, fire, or mold event. When dealing with a commercial loss you need to call the experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac at 850-350-4872 to help you figure it out.

Finding and drying commercial water damage

8/10/2021 (Permalink)

Many commercial buildings have steel skeletons instead of wooden studs. While mold on these studs isn’t a big problem, rust is. If they aren’t completely dried, they will rust and will be structurally compromised. Often the channels that hold the studs run the length of the building. These channels allow the water to travel to areas you would never expect, often far from the original loss. Using moisture meters to look for the water can be a challenge since the studs set off the conductivity meters we use just like wet materials. This may require the use of infrared cameras and other moisture detectors to determine what is wet. Call the commercial restoration specialists at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac at 877-350-4872 if you have a loss.

Differences in commercial and residential losses

8/4/2021 (Permalink)

This series of blogs will show the differences in commercial and residential losses. Often large commercial losses involve leaving western Michigan and even the state. Each state has different rules on licensing. For example, Michigan has no rules on mold remediation, but most states do. Similar rule differences apply to asbestos remediation, getting permits for demolition and reconstruction, and even getting work. In many states it is illegal to knock on a door and offer your services (even if water is squirting out of the house or the roof is gone). A solicitation license is required. These rules get more confusing as individual states temporarily waive licensing rules during disasters. Call the experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac at 877-350-4872 to be sure the legal rules are being followed for crews working on your business.

Top causes of at home fires

6/28/2021 (Permalink)

Smoking and candle use are just two leading cause of death in home fires in the Unites States every year. You may be surprised to learn that most smoking fires were started on an exterior balcony or open porch. Many smoking fire deaths were also related to the use of medical oxygen while smoking. Three of every five candle fires involved the candle being placed next to combustible materials, leaving them burning while you sleep or placing flammable material near a candle such as pillows, blankets or clothing.  Another hint is do not smoke in your bed or after taking medicine that makes you tired. Your friends at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac hope you never have a damaging fire but if you do, give us a call at 231-723-4872 and we can help in making it "Like it never even happened."

What to expect if you have a fire in your home

6/23/2021 (Permalink)

Not an expert on fires.... that's OK, we can help! As anyone who has suffered a water loss and called SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac can tell you, SERVPROS' response can be amazing. The phone is answered 24/7 by a trained operator, managers return your call within one hour, and a crew is onsite within 4 hours. But what about fire losses? The first part of the experience is the same and if needed a crew can be on site boarding up and protecting your home within hours. But fires are different. Often the fire department and maybe a fire Marshall must clear and release the scene before anyone is allow inside the home. Sometimes a C&O (Cause and Origin) representative from the insurance company gets involved. It is not unusual for the home to not have power or water. Unlike water losses, your insurance adjuster or C&O expert may want to see the scene before it is disturbed and cleaning started. Usually the insurance company will want at least a preliminary estimate before work starts.  If there is structural damage, local building inspectors may get involved to check for code upgrades. Getting the utilities turned on can be a challenge. If subcontractors are needed it may be necessary to wait for their estimates. After hiring SERVPRO,  none of these possible events are your problem. The highly trained managers and crews at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac have seen and handled these issues countless times. You can trust them to help you make it "Like it never even happened" . If you have had a loss, give us a call at 231-723-4872 to have a manager from either our shop at Manistee, Ludington, or Cadillac meet you at your home to start the process.

Smoke and Soot Cleanup

6/23/2021 (Permalink)

House Fire Extensive fire damage caused by 4th of July fireworks.

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 [[Franchise Name]] 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 SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac at 231-723-4872

Fire Safety Tips

6/4/2021 (Permalink)

Fire Safety tips for you and your loved ones:

  • Electrical issues:

Many fires are caused by extension cords (especially in cold weather). Never use an extension cord to run a heater. Check the cord frequently for frayed or exposed wires.  Never daisy chain an extension cord. Do not use cords as permanent wiring as they are not designed for permanent use. Check to make sure they are rated for the amp draw used. If your lights flicker or you are tripping breakers, something is wrong and needs checked.

  • Detectors:

Smoke and CO detectors save lives, Make sure you have them and test them regularly. Michigan code requires them outside each bedroom, hallway, and at the top of any stairway. Plan on replacing them every 10 years as they do expire.

  • Fire Extinguishers:

It is a great idea to have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Many cooking fires can be quickly extinguished if a Class A or Class K fire extinguisher is available. Garages and areas where flammable liquids are stored need a Class B extinguisher. Remember, if you cannot put the fire out in a few seconds: Get out and call 911. Stuff can be replaced, lives can’t. Let the firemen fight the fire.

  • Have a Evacuation plan and practice it:

Countless lives have been saved by homeowners having a plan and making sure children and adults understand and practice it. Make sure everyone knows how to get out (especially when one exit is blocked) and where to meet outside to make sure everyone is safe.

  • Clean your chimney and stove regularly 

               Chimney fires are a major cause of fatal fires (especially in rural areas). Always use dry wood if                                                     possible. 

  •  Never smoke in bed or when using medication, drugs, or alcohol.      

If you do have a loss, be safe and call the experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac @ 877-350-4872 to make it "Like it never even happened."

Can SERVPRO tell you if your loss will be covered by your insurance company

5/10/2021 (Permalink)

The short answer is no. You need to look carefully at any restoration company that answers yes to that question. Coverage depends on what your policy says is and is not covered. Your policy is a contract signed by you and your agent (by extension: your insurance company). In signing it, you agree to pay a fixed amount of money every month or series of months and they agree to cover your home for all listed losses. And listed is the key point. If it doesn't say it is covered, it probably isn't covered. 

You also agree to maintain the home (maintain heat (or winterize), repair windows and roofs, cut overhanging trees...whatever) Note: maintaining heat does not mean you don't have coverage if your furnace fails, as long as you provided fuel and power. Every policy is different and every insurance company is different. Not maintaining the home can void the policy and turn something that is usually covered into a non-covered loss. The only way to answer your coverage question is to carefully read your specific policy. Your agent can often give you clues about what he sold you but the final interpretation of coverage usually lies with the adjuster. He is trained to read your policy and probably is the only one who actually understands what it says. 

Having dealt with insurance companies for over 19 years and having seen literally thousands of claims files, SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac can often predict if coverage is available, but your adjuster (or the legal system) makes the final decision. We can also help you decide if you should even file a claim. (especially if the loss is small and will not hit your deductible). Give the experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac a call at 877-350-4872 to see if we can help you.

No matter how large, SERVPRO is here to help

4/6/2021 (Permalink)

Late this winter, SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac was slammed with several major fires in western Michigan. Because few temporary workers were available, we requested and received crews from our sister SERVPRO's in Mt. Pleasant and Grand Rapids. These franchises sent multiple crews to our area, working 12 hour days and weekends. Along with the highly trained local SERVPRO cleaning technicians, we were able to complete the jobs and help get the homeowners one step closer to moving back into their homes. Then the 2021 version of the Polar Vortex, followed by the power mismanagement, caused heat outages and frozen pipes in most of Texas.

These same franchises then needed to send their crews down south to help put peoples lives back together. Unfortunately, this left Clare and Grand Rapids short handed in Michigan. No problem, SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac helped out by sending our crews to their local jobs to help them keep up. This is one of the biggest benefits of the SERVPRO Franchise system. It doesn't matter who is overwhelmed, another franchise will send workers with little or no notice, because we are all after the same goal, getting our customers back in their homes as quickly as possible. If you have a loss, no matter how large, be assured that the experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac, with the help of our friends if needed, can make it "Like it never even happened." Call us at 877-350-4872.

Improper disposal and extinguishment of smoking materials

4/2/2021 (Permalink)

A few weeks back a northern Michigan Fire Department reported their 6th fire in the past year caused by improper disposal and extinguishment of smoking materials. This alarming statistic comes as the percentage of smokers has fallen from 33.2% in 1980 to 15.5% in the last year records are available. The National Fire Prevention Association reports that during 2012-2016 over 108 thousand home fires were caused by smoking materials, killing over 3,500 people.  As more and more indoor smoking bans are put in place of the area of origin for home smoking fires has moved to exterior balconies and open porches.

SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac urges you to be very careful where you smoke. It doesn’t matter if you smoke cigarettes, pipes, cigars, or even  e-cigarettes in oxygen enriched environments, the potential for fire exists wherever there is smoke. Garages are another dangerous place to smoke due to the storage of fuels such as gas, oil, paint removers and thinners, and cleaning supplies. Your friends at SERVPRO remind you to be careful and if you do have a fire to give us call at 877-350-4872.

Grass fires

4/2/2021 (Permalink)

As spring approaches northern Michigan and the snow is melting in the fields, SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac is noticing multiple reports of grass fires daily. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) reports that debris burning is the number one cause of grass fires. After being confined to the house for the winter months (along with COVID rules) everybody wants to get outside and cleaning up the yard is a great excuse. You do need to be careful as the ground may look wet and muddy, but the dry dead grass is perfect fuel for a run-a-way fire. Remember, after the snow is gone a burning permit is required for nearly all fires. 

Another major source of fire ignition is exhaust emissions from small engines from all-terrain vehicles and lawn mowers. Even a spark from a chain saw hitting a wire or stone can cause a fire in the ultra dry grass. One handy way to see if it is legal to burn is to check the map at Michigan.gov/BurnPermit. Remember the #1 rule about fires, whether it is a campfire or leaf and debris burning: "Never leave the fire unattended". When in doubt wait until after a rain or the inevitable late snow that will come to northern Michigan. If you do have a fire, call 911 and then give your friends at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac a call at 877-350-4872 so we can help with the clean up.

When you call one of our offices with a water loss

3/3/2021 (Permalink)

When you call one of our offices in Manistee, Ludington, or Cadillac with a water loss we will ask you a series of questions:

Customer information:

  • In the first group is the standard name and address.
  • Preferred contact info (home, office, or cell phone). Some customers actually prefer email or text messages
  • Loss site info: this may be different from the callers contact info and we need to know where to send insurance and/or billing information.
  • Self-pay or insurance company. This gets important if you are going to file a claim. We deal with hundreds of insurance companies and much of the information they collect is not industry wide standard. If we know the insurance company, we can collect everything they need up front without going back and redoing their specific forms.

Loss information:

  • Type of structure. This tells us what we are likely to find on site. Is it a home or office, do people live or work there, and often tells us how the building was built.
  • How old is the loss site. This tells us if we are likely to find lead paint, asbestos, or other harmful items.
  • How many rooms are affected. The size of the loss lets us get enough technicians on site to get it under control and help make it "Like it never even happened."
  • Are power, heat, and water available? Again, allows us to bring whatever is needed to attack the problem.

Claim information:

  • Date of loss. If we know how long the problem has existed it allows us to determine if it is an emergency, is it likely mold has developed, will the insurance company pay after hours charges, or are we likely to run into biohazard issues?
  • Adjuster information.  If you have filed a claim, we can contact the adjuster immediately and get permission for items that may be of concern to your insurance company.
  • Agent information. Often your agent would like to be kept informed on the process and progress of working on the claim.
  • When you would like a crew on site? Sometimes homeowners are out of town and do not have access to the building until they drive up to the loss. Or maybe do not want anyone onsite until after closing hours.

The last thing we may ask is how you found us. This allows us to fine tune our marketing so our customers can find us when they need us, whether by using references, Internet, phone book,  or social media.

It seems like a lot of information. But information we get up front really helps the process go smoother for you, your agent, your adjuster, and your insurance company. If you can’t answer all the questions, don’t worry. You can still call your friends at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac at 877-350-4872 and we will still send a crew and begin to make it "Like it never even happened."

Preventing frozen pipes

2/16/2021 (Permalink)

It's February in Michigan. That means it's cold. With the "2021 version of the "Polar Vortex" firmly over us, SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac is starting to get the annual frozen and burst pipes calls at the offices. While there isn't much we can do about the temperatures outside, we can pass along some hints we saw in the DTE Energy Smarts for Michigan Small Businesses Winter 2021 issue. They list 7 top things you can do to save money and keep your home or business warmer this winter.

  • Your HVAC really does need an annual tune up for several reasons. Cleaning and maintaining the system will make it run more efficiently as well as help prevent breakdowns when you need it most. Do it before it breaks and the HVAC guys will really appreciate not having their 5thcall of the night when it’s 20 below.
  • Install a programmable thermostat can save you a ton of money. Just remember to replace the battery every year as the thermostats aren’t usually hardwired and if the battery fails, so does your heat. And if you are in Florida when that happens, you will be calling SERVPRO for frozen pipes.
  • Change your filters. This goes along with the annual tune up but it is one of the most cost effective ways to keep your HVAC system running efficiently. If you hold the filter up to the light and cannot see light, it needs changed.
  • Use the sun. If you are home, opening and closing blinds and curtains can really help your furnace and can save money. Insulated drapes will pay for themselves in just a few years.
  • Keep registers and vents clear. Do not block them with furniture, rugs, or debris. If the air cannot circulate, your furnace will need to run much longer to heat your home and that means more money out of your pocket.
  • Look into upgrading your system. Modern improvements have made HVAC systems much more efficient. They really do pay for themselves in just a few years.
  • Finally, their list included lighting upgrades. While that is mainly a safety issue, motion sensors and timers can also save money.

The experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac would be happy to help if you have frozen pipes, but keeping them from freezing makes us smile also. If you do have issues give us a call at 877-350-4872 and let us make it "Like it never even happened."

Ready for winter weather?

1/15/2021 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac has been helping customers in Mason, Manistee, Lake, Oceana, Wexford, and Osceola counties survive winter in west Michigan for nearly 20 years. Because the list of things that goes wrong never really changes, SERVPRO would like to remind you of things to check to prevent having to call us for help.

If you have a seasonal home that you are closing for winter and leaving the heat on:

  • Have you checked your propane tank and arranged to have it kept full?
  • Have you arranged to have the road plowed so the propane company can get to your tank?
  • Have you marked your driveway for the plow driver and marked your drain field, sprinkler heads, outdoor hydrants and other potential issues?
  • Do you have someone locally who can check on the home? They need to check for open doors and windows, suspicious tracks, heavy snow build up, and fogged or frosted up windows indicating water damage or heat loss.
  • Do they have a key or know where it is hidden?
  • Have you removed the outside hoses and made sure the frost free shut off valve is clear
  • Have you notified the local authorities that you will be gone? They are happy to check on your home for you if you let them know.
  • Have you changed the thermostat battery? It is a leading cause of furnace failure in unoccupied homes.
  • Consider turning the water off at the well. (Unless you have a boiler that requires make up water) Even if a line freezes, it will not flood your home.
  • Open doors to cabinets and vanities that contain water lines to allow heat to circulate.

Have you winterized the home if you are going to turn the heat off?

  • If you drain your water heater, remember to turn the power off first to prevent burning out the heating element.
  • Have you checked with your insurance company to verify that you still have coverage even if you are not living at the home? (Note: some insurance companies do not insure vacant homes)
  • Never leave a temporary heater running in an unoccupied home. They start countless fires every year.

Even though you try to do everything right to prevent a loss, accidents still happen. If you have a loss don’t hesitate to call the local professionals at SERVPRO. Our crews at the Scottville, Manistee, and Cadillac shops can quickly respond to your emergency and help you make it “Like it never even happened.” Give us a call at 877-350-4872 and we will get a crew to your home within an hour.

Here for all your COVID-19 cleaning needs

12/15/2020 (Permalink)

As everyone who hasn’t been living in their parent’s basement knows, COVID-19 has changed everything. One of the big changes at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac is the number of proactive and positive COVID-19 cleanings we are now asked to do. For the most part, a business’s normal cleaning crews can handle daily and weekly cleaning of offices and businesses. However when a positive COVID-19 exposure shuts them down, SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac can get you up and running quickly and at a surprisingly low price. Most private cleaning companies do not have the skills, PPE, and specialized equipment and products to safely clean COVID-19 issues.

A recent study by SERVPRO Corporate found:

  • 71% of consumers expect your business to be cleaner than their home
  • 76% say the cleanliness of a business is a good indicator on how well a business is run
  • 68% respond that COVID 10 is constantly on their mind
  • 59% are worried about touching a surface that has not been professionally cleaned.

Anyone who has received the call from an employee saying “I have been exposed” knows the “Now what do I do?” feeling. Give us a call and we can make it “Like it never even happened”. The crews at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac can fog your business with the only EPA registered food grade disinfectant on the market. This proprietary SERVPRO product allows fogging and wet cleaning of all touch points with no rinsing necessary. This drastically reduces cleaning time and cost.

SERVPRO can fog your business and have you back running in a few hours. No need to reclean every item on the shelves or desks. We have been getting many calls from convenience stores and small businesses as well as private homes. Getting small businesses back running quickly is always a priority.  In many cases at a private home, the customer has a loved one who has tested positive or is in the hospital and they want the home cleaned before it is reoccupied. We can help. Give the experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac a call at 231-723-4872 to schedule a time to take care of all your proactive or positive COVID-19 issues.

But what about fire losses?

11/20/2020 (Permalink)

As anyone who has suffered a water loss and called SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac can tell you, SERVPRO's response can be amazing. The phone is answered 24/7 by a trained operator, managers return your call within one hour, and a crew is onsite within 4 hours. But what about fire losses? The first part of the experience is the same and if needed a crew can be onsite boarding up and protecting your home within hours. But fires are different. Often the fire department and maybe a fire Marshall must clear and release the scene before anyone is allow inside the home. Sometimes a C&O (Cause and Origin) representative from the insurance company gets involved. It is not unusual for the home to not have power or water.

Unlike water losses, your insurance adjuster or C&O expert may want to see the scene before it is disturbed and cleaning started. Usually the insurance company will want at least a preliminary estimate before work starts.  If there is structural damage, local building inspectors may get involved to check for code upgrades. Getting the utilities turned on can be a challenge. If subcontractors are needed it may be necessary to wait for their estimates. After hiring SERVPRO none of these possible events are your problem. The highly trained managers and crews at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac have seen and handled these issues countless times. You can trust them to help you make it “Like it never even happened." If you have had a loss, give us a call at 877-723-4872 to have a manager from either our shop at Manistee, Ludington, or Cadillac meet you at your home to start the process.

Cooking fire prevention

10/12/2020 (Permalink)

This past week was the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Fire Prevention Week. Their campaign “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen” focused on three main goals to reduce kitchen fires.

  • Never leave cooking unattended
  • Do not leave flammable items near the stovetop.
  • If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, do not use the stovetop.

In this time of COVID 19 and social distancing more meals are being prepared at home.  Unattended cooking is the leading cause of cooking fires and 49% of all home fires start in the kitchen.  Oven mitts, wooden utensils and towels and curtains top the list of items that can cause fires if left near the flame. Always have a fire extinguisher nearby in case you have a stove fire. Be very careful with loose clothing. Clothing fires cause 14% of all home fire deaths.

Other hints include always cook with a lid ready to slide over the pan if flames erupt. Resist the urge to check under the lid…let the pan cool completely as the fire could re-ignite. Never throw water on the fire. Baking and soda and salt work to smother fires but never use flour as it can explode.  Heat oil slowly when frying and sautéing. Be especially vigilant around the holidays. The top 3 days for kitchen fires are Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. Make sure everybody in your home knows the quickest way out of the home and practice your fire escape route.

If you do have a kitchen fire, remember the experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac can help make it "Like it never even happened." Give us a call at 887-350-4872 24/7.

Generator safety

9/9/2020 (Permalink)

Once again it’s hurricane season in the southern United States. Luckily western Michigan doesn’t get hurricanes but we do get storms that can knock out power for several days at a time. When this happens people often turn to generators. The news from the gulf coast last week says that Hurricane Laura killed more people from carbon monoxide poisoning from generators than died from the storm. This is sad since it is totally preventable.

Although using power generators is useful and often necessary to prevent food spoilage, provide lights, and water, it must be done safely. Never use a generator inside a building or partly enclosed area such as a garage or covered deck. Keep generators away from open windows and doors. Wind can force the exhaust back into your home.  Keep generators dry and out of the rain and be careful how you cover them.  Try to keep them at least 5 feet from any combustible materials (including tarps).

Never start or stop a generator without first unplugging all cords and making sure there is no load on the unit. Use proper fuel, never leave them unattended, and keep children away from the units. Make sure you don’t overload the generator, do use heavy duty (outdoor rated) extension cords, and let the unit cool completely before adding fuel. Store fuel away from generator if possible.

Carbon monoxide gas is colorless and odorless. You will not even know it is there until it is too late. The experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac can help with the storm damage, but the only thing we can do about generator safety is to remind you to be careful. Call our crews located at our offices in Ludington, Manistee, and Cadillac at 877-350-4872 for 24 hour help.

What can you put in your toilet

5/6/2020 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac has noticed a significant increase in sewage losses in the past weeks. We are not sure if it is resulting from the toilet paper hoarding/shortage but we thought it may be a good time to review the rules on what you can and cannot flush. According to Jim Ervin, who was compliance manager for a major wastewater treatment facility for 27 years, the Golden Rule of Flushing is: "If you wouldn’t put it down your garbage disposal, don’t flush it." There are only certain things you should be putting in your toilet, which is why they were made.

The list of what not to flush is much longer.

  • Baby wipes, facial tissues, disinfectant wipes, moist wipes (even if the label says it is flushable)
  • Napkins, (paper or cloth) paper towels, swifter’s and cleaning pads  often have a plastic mesh to  keep them from falling apart and don’t dissolve.
  • Q-tips and Cotton pads tend to clump and can clog pipes
  • Menstrual products can expand and again can clog pipes
  • Diapers, a no brainer, just don’t do it
  • Dental floss, just does not go away and can cause real problems.
  • Medication or vitamins do not cause drain issues but are very bad for the environment.
  • Kitty Litter, egg shells, nut shells, coffee grounds, nope
  • Cooking wastes like fats, oils and greases can cause major issues
  • Socks, rags, hand towels, sponges…don’t even think about it

The experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac can certainly help clean up the mess when you clog or blow apart your sewage drains, but we would much prefer if you kept the lines clear.

We can handle the big stuff

4/6/2020 (Permalink)

A local Manistee chain motel recently found out what happens when a main water line to its fire suppression system freezes and bursts. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac was called during the night when the front desk night manager noticed water pouring from the ceiling in one of the wings. The experts at SERVPRO quickly helped the quests relocate and started extracting water to begin the drying process. The wet insulation in the ceiling was removed, drywall cut, baseboards removed and some carpet pad removed. Most of the carpet was able to be dried in place. The motel was approved to remain open for guests after drying equipment was set, the fire suppression system was repaired and inspected, and containment built to isolate the affected rooms. With the quick response by the experts of SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac it kept any customers from having to find another place to spend the night.

COVID-19 in Western Michigan

3/25/2020 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac is fully operational and responding to all normal work and Covid-19 emergencies. We are always here to help.

During this unprecedented time caused by the global pandemic of coronavirus, this is a reminder to our customers that we are specialists in cleaning services, and we adhere to the highest cleaning and sanitation standards. Obviously there are multiple levels of cleaning required depending on the level of contamination. The lowest level is proactive cleaning. This level usually requires two passes. The first cleaning removes the dirt and involves scrubbing with soap and water. Normal household cleaning should be done at least daily.

Specialized training is needed for cleaning when confirmed Covid-19 positive events are encountered.

We are prepared to clean and disinfect your home or business, according to protocols set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention if you encounter positive tests. We have years of experience in dealing with biological contaminants, and we will go beyond the scope of work that regular janitorial staff perform daily.

Once the normal dirt and grime has been removed the next step is to disinfect the surface with an EPA registered cleaner. While there is currently no product tested against this particular strain of the coronavirus, the EPA has hundreds of approved products listed on their web site and most commercial products will work fine. Read the product labels carefully and be sure to allow the required dwell times for the cleaning product to work.

The CDC encourages cleaning of high-touch surfaces such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, light switches, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and tables. If disinfecting is being completed due to a positive case; cleaning of walls and floors should be included in the scope. Other spaces mentioned in the CDC’s guidance for commercial spaces include:

  • Kitchen/Food Areas
  • Bathrooms
  • Schools/Classrooms
  • Offices
  • Retail Spaces
  • Water Fountains
  • Shelving/Racks
  • Locker rooms
  • Sales Counters
  • Carpets and Rugs
  • Stair Handrails
  • Elevator Cars
  • Playground Equipment
  • Fitness Equipment

If you need specialized cleaning help, don’t hesitate to call the experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac.

When a storm hits, how safe is the water in your basement or crawlspace?

3/17/2020 (Permalink)

When a storm drops a foot of rain you quickly find out your homes weak areas. It may be the roof or gutter system, or skylights, or possibly the foundation or sump pump. Because of the laws of gravity, eventually the problem will end up in your basement or crawlspace. When this happens, you must be very careful how you deal with the water. Aside from the obvious issues with electricity and water there can be another problem; the water may be contaminated.

The IICRC and the EPA standards state that all groundwater is considered Category 3 which “is grossly contaminated and can contain pathogenic toxigenic or other harmful agents and can cause significant adverse reactions to humans if contacted or consumed. Examples of Category 3 water can include, but are not limited to: sewage; waste line backflows that originate from beyond any trap regardless of visible content or color; all forms of flooding from seawater; rising water from rivers and streams; and other contaminated water entering or affecting the indoor environment, such as wind-driven rain from hurricanes, tropical storms, or other weather-related events.” This water and everything it touches can make you sick.

Making matters worse is you probably have limited or no coverage help from your insurance company. The experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac can help you understand what steps you need to take to protect your home and family. As a general rule, hard surfaces can be cleaned and disinfected while porous surface items should be discarded. This includes carpeting and pad, wet drywall and insulation, and affected clothing and bedding. And of course, the sooner you call, the higher on the waiting list your name will be. So don’t wait. Call SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac, we are always here to help.

There in a flash!

2/28/2020 (Permalink)

Last week SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac was called to help a local Cadillac business when an adjacent building had a water pipe burst. SERVPRO was on site within an hour and the business was able to re-open the same day. Because of how quickly the water loss was discovered and mitigated, damage was confined to less than 25% of the showroom. SERVPRO set containment to separate the affected areas from the rest of the building, extracted the water, moved and blocked wet contents, and set drying equipment. Within 3 days the experts at SERVPRO were able to remove all the drying equipment and start the restoration process. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac always here to help our community in their time of need. 

What to do when you have a loss and get placed on a waiting list.

2/22/2020 (Permalink)

When a storm event hits your home or community it can be devastating. To make matters worse you may not be able to get help quickly. There is nothing worse than having a loss and being put on a waiting list. This is where SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac can help. While a storm event is usually local, it still may affect hundreds of homes. Most restoration companies can handle only 2-3 losses a day and put the rest on a waiting list. SERVPRO has over one hundred sister franchises in Michigan that can scramble crews to any event. Whether the problem is wind, rain, flooding, or even a polar vortex SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac can help make it "Like it never even happened."

Back to school early!

2/17/2020 (Permalink)

There is never a good time for a fire. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac recently was called to a local Reed City school over Christmas break. A contractor was stripping and refinishing the gym floor when the cleaning rags self-combusted causing smoke damage to the gym, locker rooms, halls, and cafeteria. While this was a very large loss SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac was able to partner with our sister franchises in Grand Rapids to get enough crews on site to work multiple shifts and complete the cleanup in 4 days. School was able to open on schedule after New Year’s Day and no time was missed. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac always here to help make it "Like it never even happened."

Is it smoke or mold?

2/14/2020 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac often gets calls about mold staining on painted surfaces that keeps coming back even though the home does not have moisture issues. We remind the homeowners that you cannot have a mold problem without also having a moisture problem. Using moisture meters and infrared cameras to rule out moisture issues allows us to zero in on the next most likely cause: soot. Having a wood or pellet stove in the house can often result in grey or black streaks near the tops of the walls, in the corners, or on the ceiling. Pellet stoves must be cleaned regularly or they will soot up your home. Filling wood stoves or fireplaces without first opening the damper will also allow smoke to escape into the home. This smoke contains tiny liquid droplets of soot that condenses on the cold surfaces of the walls and ceiling leaving streaks called “Ghosting”. Often the nails or screws holding the drywall will also attract the soot as the particles are magnetically charged and stick to the metal. Even burning candles can leave a layer of soot on painted surfaces. If you notice black screws or streaks on the walls, give SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac a call to see if we can make it “Like it never even happened.”

Furniture store fire

2/14/2020 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac recently helped a local Mason County furniture store after a major fire in their warehouse.  When the attached warehouse caught fire, it not only damaged the building and stored contents but also filled the sales floor with smoke and odor. SERVPRO had a crew on site within an hour setting containment between the buildings and allowing cleaning to begin. Within 3 days, the main store was able to open for customers while SERVPRO worked on the warehouse. All contents were removed, the structure was cleaned by blasting with baking soda and all surfaces were HEPA vacuumed and sealed with an oil based paint. After final Ozone deodorization and replacement of the overhead doors, the structure was ready to be used. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac was able to help get this local small business up and running in just a few days which is critical for cash flow.

“Storm” in West Michigan

2/4/2020 (Permalink)

When the restoration industry thinks "Storm", it usually means tropical storms or hurricanes in the Gulf or the Southeast. When these major events happen, SERVPROs from all over the country pack up and head to the impacted area to help make it "Like it never even happened.” This is one of the advantages of being the world's largest disaster restoration company. No matter how large the event, SERVPRO can cover it.

Luckily Michigan does not usually get these life threatening and expensive storms.

In Michigan, “Storm” means tornadoes, straight line winds, and/or micro bursts of rain. Last summer Manistee and Mason counties were hit with over 12 inches of rain in one 24 hour period---a new state record. While it is nice to hold a state record, it wasn't nearly that much fun when you watched your basement or cabin fill with water. Our shop in Manistee received over 100 calls for help per day over the last weekend of July.

With 3 truck mounted extractors and multiple crews we were able to help many of the residents. However, we soon realized that we would not be able to help all the customers in a timely manner. We reached for the phone and called our sister franchises in Traverse City, Mount Pleasant/Clare, Big Rapids, Muskegon, and Grand Rapids. Most immediately sent trucks and crews and by Sunday morning there were multiple green trucks helping people in every affected city in our territory. These crews stayed throughout the week until all our customers were taken of and had their homes back.

Another storm event that recently hit our coverage area was the tornado that hit Mason and Lake Counties. This EF2 tornado and the associated straight line winds centered in Baldwin, toppled thousands of trees and destroyed countless roofs. While SERVPRO does not do roof repairs or tree removal from roofs, we do have a long list of professionals who can help. When the calls started coming in, we were able to bypass the normal waiting lists and get people in contact with crews who could quickly get the trees off the roofs and driveways opened.

Once the trees are off the roofs, SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac can get the roofs tarped and windows boarded up and start the drying process. Unfortunately, lack of power is usually an issue and can delay drying. If the home sustains structural damage from the wind or trees, sometimes we will need to pack out the contents to one of our climate controlled storage units while repairs are made. These repairs and content removal and storage are almost always covered by normal homeowners insurance. While “Storm” events are never fun, SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac can help you get your home back to "Like it never even happened."

What to do if the homeowners or renters smoked and your home is on the market.

1/6/2020 (Permalink)

What to do if the homeowners or renters smoked tobacco or cannabis and your home is on the market.

One of the top searches for DYI odor removal comes from people looking to buy or rent a home that had long term smokers. Many Realtor web sites claim having a smoker in the home reduces the resale value by 20-30%. According to Zillow, the average resale value of a home in Michigan is $154,000. This means having a smoker reduces the resale value of the average home by $45,000. With professional cleaning running in the $8-10.00 per square foot ($15,000 on a 1,500 square foot home) range, you could easily make $30,000 on the sale by cleaning the home first. Another factor to consider is how long the home remains unoccupied or on the market due to the offensive odors. 

While it is very difficult to remove these odors, a professional remediation company has a much better chance of success than a do it yourself attempt. The first rule of deodorization is always “remove the source”. The yellowish-brown sticky substance left behind from years of smoking must be completely removed or the odors will return when the humidity rises. Often this cleaning will require painting to cover the stains left by the residue of smoking and sometimes the carpet or pad may need replaced. If properly cleaned, most non porous surfaces will not need sealed.

The first step a professional odor remediation company will do is remove any unsaveable contents and all debris which can hold odors. An HEPA filtered air scrubber will be set to collect any disturbed particles to protect the workers and prevent particles from resettling on cleaned surfaces. This air scrubber will likely have an activated charcoal (carbon) filter as recommended by the RIA and EPA guidelines. Hot thermo-fogging may be necessary to neutralize areas that cannot be cleaned.  These areas include cavities behind cabinets, inside of walls, behind trim and moulding, and behind face plates of electrical outlets. If fogging done after cleaning, care must be taken to wet clean all surfaces to reduce the PH levels or paint will not stick.

Odor removal is always a time consuming job but can save thousands of dollars in reduced or lost sales. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac has been removing odors from local homes for nearly 20 years and are the experts that you can trust to make it "Like it never even happened." Give us a call at 231-723-4872 for a quote.

Ways to Prevent Garage Fires

12/4/2019 (Permalink)

A garage on fire with wording saying a fire damages in garages are common and need a fast clean up. SERVPRO logo Fire damage in garages are common and need a fast clean up. SERVPRO is always here to help.
  1. Avoid clutter. We will all admit that garages collect stuff- mostly stuff you don’t want in your home and don’t know where else to put it. Recycling, old boxes, unused clothing, bags of grass clippings, scraps of lumber to name a few. Add old appliances, half empty paint and solvent cans, gas and propane containers, grills, tools and you have created a recipe for disaster.
  2. Clean up after hobbies. Woodworking, crafting,  painting, and staining all leave debris which has a potential for fire which can start long after completion of your project. Water heaters and boilers (often found in garages) can have open flames that can ignite these items. Simply dropping and breaking a light bulb can cause a spark. Halogen lights get extremely hot and  bumping it with a car, tripping over it, or having a pet knock it over can easily start a fire.
  3. Be careful with welding, cutting, grinding; or any work that creates heat and sparks. Battery chargers can also easily cause sparks that can ignite flammable vapors such as brake fluid, lighter fluid, paint thinner, varnish, and gasoline. Obviously, not smoking around these items should top anyone don’t do list
  4. Don’t overload outlets and electrical circuits. Many garages only have one or two circuits and it is easy to plug in a tool and a heater and overload the breaker or fuse. While we are talking about heaters do not use them with power strips or cords without first checking the amperage that they are rated to handle. Don’t forget that you may have an old refrigerator plugged in somewhere on the circuit. If it kicks on while you are running a saw or heater, something will have to give.
  5. Never use your gas, propane, or charcoal grill in a closed space. This should go without saying, just don’t do it. And do not store the lighter fluid in the garage either.
  6. Discard all old paint and rags. If you wish to reuse the rags make sure you store them in a steel bucket with a tight fitting lid or wash them and hang to dry. Store gas and propane  in metal containers or at least on shelves in approved cans.
  7. Never store ashes from cleaning a wood stove or fireplace in or near a flammable container. They can start a fire days after you cleaned the stove.
  8. Consider a smoke detector or better yet a heat detector which will not go off every time you start the wood sander. Have a working fire extinguisher mounted in a prominent area.
  9. If your garage is finished make sure the attic hatch cover is always closed. In the event of a fire, the open hatch will draw the fire into the attic and allow it to spread. Consider not installing a pet door if the garage is attached to your home. Having a fire rated door doesn’t do much good if you cut a hole in it and install a plastic pet door to allow the fire into your home. 
  10. In the event of a fire, get out, and close the doors if possible. You do not want to give the fire any oxygen.

SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac hopes that you never have to experience a garage, shed, or pole building fire but if you do give us a call the help make it "Like it never even happened.”

Will you have coverage if you have a water loss and should you file a claim?

12/2/2019 (Permalink)

A living room flooded with words water damage and SERVPRO logo A flooded living room. Water damage caption with SERVPRO logo.

There is no yes or no answer. Where did the water come from is the first question that needs answered. Most homeowner’s policies will only cover water damage if it originates inside the structure. A partial list includes; broken pipes; toilet, sink, washing machine, or tub overflows; burst supply lines, drains, or water heaters; or even broken fish tanks. Leaks such as a rusted out water heaters or pipes, can be a grey area with some policies covering them and some not. Roof leaks will be looked at carefully also. Sewage back up is another grey area that is or is not listed in your policy. Ground water from outside is rarely covered. Some policies require that the structure be occupied to have coverage applied. However, most of the time the loss is covered if the water came from inside the home.

The average water job done by SERVPRO's in Michigan is approaching $3,500 for drying only. This does not include replacement of contents or rebuilding the home. While having a professional dry your home can be expensive, so can not properly drying it and allowing mold to grow. Mold starts growing in 48 to 72 hours and becomes visible in a week. Microbial amplification can be expensive to clean and cause serious health issues so every effort should be made to prevent it. Mold is another area that some policies cover and some specifically deny although many cover mold if it is caused by a covered loss. On the flip side, we get called to losses frequently where there is no work or it is small enough that the homeowner can take care of it themselves. It just depends.

Another thing to consider is your claim history. If you have had multiple losses some companies will review your policy for coverage or pricing. Some won't so that is always a question to ask your agent. The value of your time and your handyman skills also influence your decision. If you can do some of the work yourself or were going to do some remodeling anyway you may be able to do the work. You will probably need to follow the policy "when in doubt, cut it out".  It is also still best to have a professional at least put meters on it to be sure you don't have hidden water that will cause mold or other issues down the road. You will need to get the water out of the building and not just move it around with air movers. This may mean renting or buying dehumidifiers or opening windows depending on the weather.

A big concern is where the water went. If it got into insulation or behind a vapor barrier, it will need to be opened up. Multiple layers of floor coverings, plaster and lath, blown in insulation, particle board floors, and belly pans from modular homes are other areas of concern. Laminate floors, some water resistant carpet pads, and sleeper floors can also trap and hold water. Contents can be another do-it-yourself problem with many posing specialty drying skills. Again, how much help you can get from Mother Nature is huge when drying large items. Many items stored in basements are often not worth cleaning and can be disposed of properly.

We at SERVPRO have seen many cases of DIY project ending well but you do need to be careful. The experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac would be happy to assist you on your loss at whatever level you require, from advice to turn key.

The cleaning process on a fire loss

11/4/2019 (Permalink)

The cleaning process is never a “One Size Fits All” process. Every fire is different. Often a board up is required to make the home secure after the fire department leaves. There may be holes in the roof that need tarped, windows may be broken, or doors kicked in. Unfortunately, there are unethical people who prey on citizens who have had a loss. If they see a firetruck at a home, they will come back later to see if anything is left unsecured or unlocked. They may just be curious or “nosey” or they may be looking for something to vandalize or steal.

A large number of fires happen in cold weather when seasonal heat is being used.  Often the home will need winterized to prevent the pipes from freezing and causing further damage, especially if the power is off or the furnace damaged. Perishable food (canned goods and especially liquids) need to be protected and frozen food will soon spoil if not protected. Rotting food in a freezer or refrigerator will ruin the appliance if power is off in the summer. Plants and pets must also be taken care of quickly.

Although fire departments have refined the firefighting process, they still use water which requires drying. Drying a fire loss presents a unique set of challenges. Often there is a delay of several days or weeks before the scene is released from police or cause and origin investigators. Frequently there is no power or heat. It is not unusual for questions on restorability or total loss issues to become important. If the loss requires a pack out, the water damaged contents become important. Once these questions are answered, SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac can quickly and efficiently dry the structure and contents and start the cleaning process.

Picture taking hints on a fire loss

10/15/2019 (Permalink)

Photos are critical. Below are some hints and best practices that your contractor should use to document the loss to prevent misunderstandings. They should:

  • Use the highest resolutions on the tablet, camera, or phone
  • Pay attention to lighting and use the time and date option
  • Start with the exterior of the home always going left to right
  • Take interior pictures also left to right from the entry door of every room
  • Take floor and ceiling pictures including trim and lighting
  • Properly label cause of loss pictures
  • Document preloss issues (especially on contents)
  • Document contents separately from the structure pictures
  • Not switch between vertical and horizontal pictures with the camera or phone.

It is not unusual for the carrier (insurance company) to request video documentation which is a walk through video which shows all affected and unaffected areas of the home. Technology is growing so quickly that these videos can now document the loss and even accurately measure each room in 3D. Drones may be used to measure and document the roofs and outside areas of the home. Some carriers have separate companies that they contract with to document and price contents.

After taking the pictures the next step is to make them usable. The contractor will need to create folders and label and sort the “before” structure and contents pictures. They should also have “during” and “after” folders with time stamps. There should also be folders for any contents deemed unsaveable, discarded, or moved off site. Before pictures also help the restoration company reset your contents in their original locations after cleaning.

Another advantage of quality pictures becomes evident when reconstruction is necessary. The company you hire to put the structure back to preloss condition will probably have never seen your home before the fire. Pictures truly do show 1000 words and help you explain what you want it to look like when finished. Good pictures can also help fill out the unsavable lists if you have a large loss and some areas of the home are actually missing. SERVPRO Of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac hopes you never have a large fire but if you do, hopefully these tips will help make it easier.

So you had a fire loss

10/2/2019 (Permalink)

You will be amazed on how many people will get involved on this loss. You will of course be dealing with your insurance carrier. (Auto Owners, State Farm, Farm Bureau, Citizens, Fremont, etc.) Your carrier may have a relationship (agreement) with multiple specialty companies including;

  1. Laundry or dry cleaning
  2. Document drying and deodorization
  3. Furniture
  4. Debris removal
  5. Water damage and drying
  6. Smoke odor reduction
  7. Electronics restoration
  8. Pack-Out, Moving, and Storage
  9. Taxidermy
  10. Artwork, Heirlooms, or Photography
  11. Billiard tables
  12. Musical instruments
  13. Boardups
  14. Winterization

You will need to choose a restoration contractor to take care of the structural cleaning and handle  all or some of the above items. Of course we would like you to choose SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac but you will have many options. There are many major restoration vendors, local contractors, and even small mom and pop companies willing to help clean and deodorize your home. Each has advantages and disadvantages.

Make sure you get references from your agent, your adjuster, and customers who have used the vendors for prior losses. Everyone’s goal should be the same---get you back into your home quickly and complete the claim in the most accurate manner possible. Your insurance company just wants to pay what they owe from your policy (contract) that both of you signed. The restoration contractor wants to complete the claim, allow you back into your home, and get paid for what they have done—nothing more, nothing less.

Another 100 Year Flood in Western Michigan

9/2/2019 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac and our sister franchises from Clare, Muskegon, Traverse City, and Big Rapids helped over 100 homes who suffered water damage from the late July storm that hit western Michigan. Hardest hit was Manistee, Ludington, Scottville, Free Soil, Fountain, Wellston, Irons, Baldwin, Wolf Lake, Custer, Dublin, Bear Lake, and Onekama who recently received over a foot of rain in one day. As rivers overflowed and city storm sewers were overwhelmed, our customers saw the water rise in their basements and crawlspaces.

They call this a 100 year flood. But what does that mean? A 100 year rain does not mean you can expect to get a rain of that size every one hundred years. It actually means that in any given year, you have a 1% chance of getting a foot of rain from one storm. A 50 year storm has a 2% chance and a 25 year storm has a 4% chance in any given year.

You can go to the FEMA FLood Map Service Center https://msc.fema.gov/portal/home and check out the probability of your home getting flooded (if your area was mapped and most are). The higher the risk of flooding, the more you should consider buying flood insurance from FEMA. As most of West Michigan knows by now, your home policy probably will not cover a water event coming from outside the structure. Sometimes limited coverage ($2,000-5,000) can be purchased through your homeowner’s policy as a sump pump or sewage back up failure rider, but most home policies specifically exclude groundwater or water coming from outside the home. 

You can also check to see if your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Remember there is usually a 30-day waiting for this type of insurance to kick in so don’t wait until your phone announces a flood warning to call your insurance company. You should also talk to your local insurance agent. They are the experts and know what is available in your area. Many of them sell enhanced policies that cover some types of water intrusion (hydro-static intrusion, sump pump failure, or septic backups). They can also help walk you through the steps to get on a federal program to give you some protection from the 100 year rains that seem to be coming much more frequently.

FEMA’s statistics show that over 20 percent of flood insurance claims are for non-high risk zones. Whether climate change is temporary or permanent doesn’t really matter to your wet basement. Large storms and weather events are clearly happening more frequently and you need to be prepared. Some of the things you can do will help with even normal rainfall amounts. Install and maintain roof gutters with downspouts to get the water at least 6 feet away from your foundation. Consider landscaping to drain the water away from your home. Clean out ditches and culverts on your property or call the local road commissions for help. Work with your neighbors on larger projects (their basement is probably wet also).

Because flood insurance from the NFIP program usually has limited or no coverage for below ground areas (basements and crawlspaces) and the contents stored in them be careful what you store down there. Now may be the time to get rid of the college furniture your son has stored in your basement and get some plastic totes for the craft supplies that are in cardboard boxes on the floor. If you haven’t used that exercise bike in 10 years you may want to find someone who would it to take up space in his basement.

Other items not typically covered are paper documents and money or valuables stored in the basement. Outdoor decks, patios, fences, hot tubs and pools, outdoor furniture, and wells and septic systems are typically excluded. Usually this insurance will not cover temporary housing or living expenses. You may have coverage for some of these items (and possibly large appliances like washer and dryer or furnace) through your home insurance under a personal contents cover.

Your friends at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac hope you never have to use our water damage and restoration services but knowing your options before the loss should make dealing with the event easier. Please call your local insurance agent for more details if you have questions as every area is different. If you do get hit with a 100 year flood, call the professionals at SERVPRO and we will do our best to make it "Like it never even happened.”

Outdoor Grill Safety

8/5/2019 (Permalink)

July is over which means you already had your big vacation trip. Because fall sports practice (and soon school) are starting, you will be spending more time closer to home. This means the home grilling season is hitting full swing. The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) his posted the following hints to help prevent injury and deaths. The NFPA says seven out of every ten adults in the U.S. has a grill or a smoker. That means over 250 million are in use in the U.S.

The biggest fire risks are from failure to clean the grill, leaks in the gas hoses, or breaks in the grill body itself. Obviously, NEVER use your grill inside. That includes garages, three season rooms, or tents. Opening the windows or garage doors will not prevent the buildup of CO2, which is a deadly colorless and odorless gas. Please take a minute and follow the general grill safety rules published by NFPA:

  1. Check your grill before you light it for damage and to make sure it is clean. A buildup of grease and fat from the grid and trays can lead to an uncontrollable flame up.
  2. Keep the grill away from flammable items. This includes deck rails and garage or home walls. Also look up to make sure nothing above the grill is flammable.
  3. Pets and children must be taught to stay at least 3 feet from the grill….it is hot.
  4. Never leave the grill unattended, even for a few minutes.

The two main types of grills are propane and charcoal. Always check for leaks before lighting a propane grill, especially if you smell gas. You can check the fittings and hoses easily with a solution of dish washing soap and water. You will see the bubbles forming if there is a leak. Never light a grill unless the top is open to prevent the buildup of excessive gas. Turn the grill off and wait at least 5 minutes if the grill fails to light on the first attempt.

The biggest danger from charcoal grills comes from CO2 gas and improper use the starter fluid. Again, NEVER use your grill indoors. To prevent flare ups use only labeled fuel to light the charcoal. Gas, lighter fluid, and any other flammable liquids can explode and must not be used. They can also leave residues that can contaminate your food. Once the charcoal has been lit, never add more starter fluid. Be especially careful when disposing of the used charcoal. The coals can start a fire long after you believe they are dead.

Take a few minutes to check and clean your grill before an accident happens. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac wishes you a great late summer grilling season and hopes you never have to use our Fire Damage and Restoration Services.

Finally, the Drying Process.

7/1/2019 (Permalink)

The drying process usually takes 3 or 4 days and is quite intrusive. After demolition has been completed, drying equipment will be set. The fans are loud and generate a significant amount of heat in the summer. The area is truly a construction zone. Care must be exercised because many hazards exist include tripping hazards from the power cords, uneven floors from demolition or floating carpet, possible nails and screws protruding from walls and floors, and possibly  dust and debris. A reputable contractor will make every effort to keep everything cleaned up each day, but some construction debris is inevitable.

SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac will be onsite every day checking moisture readings of all materials, resetting drying equipment, and removing equipment as specific areas dry. This daily monitoring is critical to the process to make sure no wet areas remain which could support microbial amplification, and to prevent over drying of sensitive items. These reports provide evidence which can be used in court to prove that the structure was properly dried and is ready for reconstruction. They also explain why all work was done what the thought process was involved in making the drying decisions.

Once everything is dry, the equipment will be removed and contents reset to allow you to have use of the home. If reconstruction is necessary the next phase of the loss starts. See our reconstruction blog for the breakdown of that process.  Although this is a simplified breakdown of the drying process, hopefully it will allow you to feel more comfortable with dealing with your loss.

We have the contents out of the way, what is next?

6/1/2019 (Permalink)

The contents are out of the way, carpet pad removed, and free water has been extracted. Often water will wick up the drywall or wall coverings following the initial loss. Or perhaps, the water came from above from a main or second floor toilet or kitchen. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac technicians will use a variety of tools and meters to moisture map the affected area to determine if demolition is necessary. Penetrating and non-penetrating moisture meters, moisture sensors, thermo-hygrometers, and inferred cameras are a few of the tools needed to moisture map a structure.  

The walls can sometimes be dried without cutting by using dehumidifiers and high speed axial air movers. Restoration companies always try to minimize cutting to reduce reconstruction and disruption to your life.  If the walls are only wet a few inches high, the baseboard will be removed and fans set. Sometimes cutting below the baseboard line is possible if the water has not wicked very high on the wall coverings. This is the preferred method since it does not require any drywall repairs which greatly reduces the time you will be unable to fully use your home.

If a moisture barrier is present or if the insulation on exterior walls was affected, more intrusive cutting may be necessary.  The walls may need to be “flood cut” at one foot, 2 feet, or 4 feet. Sometimes the subfloor will need to be removed if it has deteriorated or swollen to the point that it is structurally unsound or will not accept new floor coverings. Vinyl floor coverings may need to be removed to dry the subfloor as they present a vapor barrier which doesn’t allow the subfloor water to escape. Drying ceramic tile and hardwood floor are a specialty drying challenge that the experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac are trained to perform. Laminate floors are discarded if water gets under them.

So now that we have walls and floors ready what happens next?

See our next blog for the answer to that question.

We now have a drying plan. It starts with protecting your contents.

4/30/2019 (Permalink)

The next step usually involves getting the free or unbound water out of the building. This includes pumping and extracting the standing water and removing the wet carpet pad. Before this can happen the contents will often need to be moved. Large furniture, beds, pool tables, book cases, and television stands present challenges when they are setting on the wet carpet or in a pool of water. If there is an unaffected area in the home SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac would prefer to dry the contents on site.

The drying chamber we set up to dry the structure creates the perfect conditions to dry the contents. Protecting the contents is an important step in the drying process. Wet nonporous contents will be wiped dry and removed from the affected area or boxed to protect them from further damage. Porous contents will need dried either on site or back at the shop in Manistee, Ludington, or Cadillac. All wet laundry will be inventoried and sent to a local laundry facility for cleaning and drying.

On large losses where the insured must move out of the building during reconstruction, all of the contents may need to be removed and stored offsite. This part of the dry out, called a pack out, is not always needed but can make the reconstruction portion of the loss much easier. If reconstruction does require a pack out, the build back is usually is large enough to take several months to complete. This means you will want access at least some of your seasonal contents or clothes.  It is not unusual for a customer to call us three months after a pack out and request Easter baskets, or grilling tools, or snow shoes. You should expect the storage facility to allow you to have access to your contents as needed.

How Not To Winterize Your Cottage

4/18/2019 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac recently was asked to inspect a cottage with a significant amount of visible mold growth. We met the homeowner, insurance adjuster, and an engineer hired by the insurance company to help determine the cause of loss. The homeowner believed the extensive mold growth was caused by a wind storm last summer damaging the roof and allowing water to enter the home. He also suggested a possible ice dam as the cause. Moisture mapping indicated high moisture readings throughout the home.

The homeowner told us that he had shut the furnace off because he only had a 100 gallon propane tank but that he had winterized the home. When asked how he had winterized it he said he had a light bulb in the well pit. We noted that the light may protect the water pump but nothing else. He agreed but added that he also had two 1500 Watt electric heaters in the home to keep the kitchen and bathroom warm. When the engineer pointed out that wasn't nearly enough heat, the homeowner added that he also used hot water heat. Since no radiators were evident, we asked if it was in-floor radiant heat. No, he replied. He stated that the hot water lines going to the sink and bathroom should be enough. Nope. 

As we were heading to the basement he mentioned that he also used the hot water heater itself to keep the basement warm. How we asked? He told us he had removed the gas water heater chimney and was exhausting the water heater directly into the basement to keep it warm. The engineer crawled over the SERVPRO manager as both ran for the door. The SERVPRO manager says he never did find out of there was coverage and did not look back to see if the adjuster and homeowner made it out. I think he was kidding.

Please do not do this and if you do, call someone else. Burning one gallon of propane produces 1.3 gallons of water. If the appliance isn't vented outside it can easily produce high enough humidity to allow mold growth. And don't even get us started on the CO (Carbon Monoxide) it allowed into the home.

SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac asks you to please be safe out there people.

Congratulations, you have coverage.

4/11/2019 (Permalink)

Let’s get drying. A quality restoration company will moisture map your home to determine what is wet and what is savable. This helps in developing a drying plan to start getting you back to preloss condition “Like it never even happened."  Pictures will be taken (with your permission) to document the damage for the insurance company. Over the past 17 years SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac has developed relationships with nearly all insurance companies and their adjusters in western Michigan. They know and trust us and we know them and what they need.

We have national contracts with many of the insurance companies and know exactly what they require to quickly settle a loss. We use their estimating software and price lists so there is never a problem with the price we invoice to the insurance company. Because some insurance companies have specific forms, we have I-pads with the forms pre-loaded if we meet you on site. In west Michigan losses often occur in seasonal homes (or you may be a snowbird soaking up the sun down south).  We can mail, fax, or email the forms for you or your representative to sign and return.

Determining the “type” of water damage is critical to before any work is started. The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration (IICRC) has written a standard of care (S-500) which is recognized nationally as the drying standard. You should ask your restoration company if they are IICRC certified and follow the S-500. The S-500 lists 3 types of water damage, Category 1, 2, and 3 depending on the source of water. Category 1 water originates from a clean water source which is usually a broken pipe, water supply line, toilet bowl breakage, washing machine supply line, sink overflows, etc. This water is not considered to pose a substantial risk to human health. If materials affected by Category 1 water are dryable, they can be saved.

Category 2 water contains significant contamination and has the potential to cause discomfort or sickness if contacted or consumed by humans. This water can come from discharge from dishwasher or washing machine, toilet bowl overflows (without solids), broken aquariums, leaking water beds, fire suppression systems, or ground water coming through walls or floor. Items wet with Category 2 water that cannot be cleaned should be discarded. This would include carpet pad, drywall, and some contents.

Category 3 water is grossly contaminated and contains harmful agents that can cause serious illness if consumed by humans. This water category includes sewage and toilet overflows from beyond the trap (with or without solids). All forms of surface flooding from outside the structure are considered Category 3 due to the possibility of contamination from silt, organic matter, pesticides, heavy metals, regulated materials or toxic organic substances (you never know what your neighbor has stored behind his garage).

Many insurance companies have limits on if and how much Category 3 losses are covered depending on where the loss originated. If it came from a septic or city sewer back up losses may be limited. If it originated from inside the structure from an overflow or broken pipe you should be fine.  Once they determine the category of water, the restoration company will know what can be cleaned and dried and what must be discarded. Any item discarded must be documented and photographed. The insurance company is going to want to know what they are paying to replace.

So now that we know what type of water damage it is what happens next?

See our next blog for the answer to that question.

What is subrogation

4/4/2019 (Permalink)

Subrogation comes from the Latin word subrogoree which means “to substitute”. In the insurance world it is used to substitute one insurance company for another. Assume you hire a plumbing company to change your bathroom sink and they forget to tighten a fitting. If this fitting later springs a leak and floods your home, the plumbing company may be liable for all damages. This substitution would involve sending the claim to the plumber’s insurance company. Often your insurance company will pay the claim and then send the bill to the plumbers company to get their money back. Or sometimes the other insurance company will just handle the claim directly.

SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac employees are certified in subrogation and can help document subrogation claims so they do not cost you any money or affect your future rates. Subrogation claims can also originate from failed equipment or installation. If an appliance, water heater, or furnace fails or causes damage, the loss can sometimes be transferred to the manufacturer or installer. It is important that all details of subrogation claims be properly documented and all evidence protected.

Make sure all contractors that you hire to work on your home are licensed and insured or you may be liable for damages they cause. For example, if you hire someone to shovel your roof and they or one of their employees falls off the roof and gets hurt, you may be liable if they are uninsured. Or if they damage the roof, your insurance company may deny the claim. As you can see, the simple question of who is paying the claim can be quite complicated to answer. Always make sure you have an experienced agent to help get you into the right policy for your circumstances. If you have questions you can always call your agent or the professionals at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac.

Once coverage is determined what is the next step?

See our next blog for the answer that that question.

So you had a “Water Loss”?

3/7/2019 (Permalink)

So you had a “Water Loss”?

The first question we get from customers who have had a claim is what is the process?

The first steps are obvious, prevent further damage by removing the source of water.

  • Turn off the water supply at the street or well
  • If there is a broken pipe, call a plumber to cap a line or repair a leak
  • Clean the sewer line or get the septic tank pumped if it is a sewage backup
  • Clear the snow and ice to relieve an ice dam.
  • Verify that the sump pump is working if ground water is entering the structure
  • Remove ice or snow buildup outside the building to divert water away from the structure
  • Clean or repair the roof gutters to divert water away from the building
  • Call a roofer to patch a leaking roof or skylight

The most important question from every homeowner is do I have coverage? The only person who is qualified to answer that question is the adjuster assigned to the loss by the insurance company. SERVPRO cannot make that determination, the agent cannot, your nosey neighbor or mother-in-law cannot, and the internet darn sure cannot. The adjuster will either inspect the loss or interview you to find out what caused the loss. He will then read the policy to see if it covers that specific event. Most policies cover broken pipes or ice dams but many do not cover sewage backup or groundwater intrusion. Where the water originated is important and the adjuster will need to document the cause.

Your policy is a contract between you and your insurance company that spells out specifically what coverage you are paying for and under what conditions they will pay. For example, your policy usually will cover a frozen pipe but specifically states that you are covered only if you “maintain heat”. If you don’t pay your gas bill or let the propane tank go empty, the coverage is voided. The adjuster (insurance company) will often require that you send them copies of your heating invoices for the last 2 months to prove that you maintained heat if the loss occurs in the winter.

Some policies also require that you occupy the home and refuse to cover the loss if you left for several months to stay at a seasonal home or sometimes even if you were hospitalized or in a nursing home. Other coverage problems can arise if you use the home as a rental property but do not buy that type of policy. You must read your policy and talk to your agent to make sure the coverage you purchased is exactly what you need or want. Your agent is an expert on the various policies and should steer you into the coverage you need after asking you questions on how you use the home. And remember to update your policy as circumstances change.

Check out our next blog to understand how you can sometimes get coverage without your insurance company paying. 

Baby It's Cold Outside

2/6/2019 (Permalink)

With the below zero temperatures and wind chills these past weekends, SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac has received multiple calls for frozen and burst water pipes. As you know, it is easier to prevent these things than to fix them so here are a few tips from your friends at SERVPRO.

Pay attention to the wind direction. A cold north wind will drive the cold through the north facing walls of your home much faster than the same temperatures with no wind. If you have pipes in the walls facing the wind direction pay close attention to them. Consider opening the base cabinet’s doors to allow warmer room air to reach your pipes. Inspect the insulation or heat wraps carefully for openings or damage in areas prone to freezing.

Running a small stream of water can also help prevent freezing particularly if you are on city sewer lines. You must be very careful running water if you have a septic tank however. You cannot run more water into a septic tank than can drain away through the drain field without it backing up and causing major problems. Add no snow cover, which means frozen ground, and the potential for backups becomes much greater.  Running water for a few hours a day or a small stream will probably not cause any issues, but a large stream for a long time can cause problems.

Do you have a well pit outside? Many older homes still do and with the lack of snow cover to insulate the pits, they can freeze. Consider some dry straw covered with a tarp (wet stray has no insulation properties). A simple light bulb will often provide enough heat to solve the freezing problems. Hint: check the light regularly to insure it is still functioning. Remember to remove the hose from the frost free hose bib on your home to allow it to drain and prevent it from freezing and flooding your basement.

Some of the old school energy hints are very effective on helping keep your home warm and saving money. Clear plastic on the windows will prevent drafts and keep the room much warmer. If you have curtains and window dressing, keep them closed when it is really cold outside and the sun is not shining. (Think Michigan in winter) Close off unused rooms especially if there are no water lines in the room. Seal drafts with caulk, rugs, or weather stripping.

If you do have a frozen pipe, thaw it with a hair drier or some non-combustible heat source.  Many fires are started every year with homeowners trying to thaw pipes with space heaters, torches, or other improper heat sources.  If you must leave the home with frozen pipes remember to shut off the water supply in case the line thaws or bursts flooding the home. These really can be “do it yourself” fixes but be careful that you don’t cause larger problems.

Do you need your air ducts cleaned?

1/10/2019 (Permalink)

That is a good question. A better questions isn’t do you need them cleaned, but should you get them cleaned? The National Air Duct Cleaning Association (NADCA) says probably not, and that is what they do for a living. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac does air duct cleaning. And we do it well. But a lot of duct cleaners don’t do it well, which is the main reason NADCA does not recommend annual duct cleaning. If not done properly, cleaning the ducts can cause more problems than it solves.

Without proper training and equipment, cleaning the ducts can damage the lining of the ductwork, and actually reduce the air quality in your home. There are definite advantages to having the HVAC system cleaned including increased air conditioner and furnace efficiency due to increased air flow. Cleaning the ductwork can decrease offensive odors from smoking or cooking, reduce mold growth if you had a moisture problem, and improve respiratory health by removing contaminates. It can also spread all of these contaminates and odors to your home if not done properly.

According to the National Air Duct Cleaners Association, the following are the seven most common reasons to have your ducts cleaned:

  • Someone in your family suffers from asthma or allergies
  • You have evidence of rodents and animal infestation
  • Following new construction or remodeling
  • After damage due to fire or flooding
  • You have someone who smokes indoors
  • You have a high volume of pets that shed frequently
  • You just bought the home and don’t know if any of the above are true

A strong argument could be made that most of these reasons could be prevented by regularly changing your filters. It is the filters job to keep this stuff out of your ducts. A good quality ($15) big box store filter will keep most allergens, dust, pet dander, and debris out of your HVAC system.  Be careful to match the MERV rating on your furnace. Going to a higher MERV filter can burn out the blower motor and require costly repairs. You can find the MERV rating on your furnace information sheet or ask your furnace repairman when he does the annual inspection.

Vacuum your home regularly. The carpet in your home is a giant filter that does a great job of collecting and holding dirt, dust, dander, and lots of things you don’t want to be breathing. You need to remove that stuff before it gets back up in the air with regular vacuuming. A good quality vacuum with an agitator (beater bar) will do the best job. Swifting and damp mopping the hard surfaces will also capture a large amount of debris and keep them out of the ducts.

Bottom line:

If you did a good job of staying on top of maintaining your furnace filters, kept your home clean by vacuuming and dusting often, and don’t have any of the seven “triggers”, you probably don’t need your ducts cleaned. But if you do, please give the cleaning experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac a call and schedule an inspection.

Tis the Season

12/11/2018 (Permalink)

Halloween is over: Thanksgiving is over: heck, even deer season is over, and Christmas is fast approaching. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac had our first call of a flooded home due to frozen pipes this weekend. "Tis the season".

People of Michigan (Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac), you know it can get cold this time of year.

- Have you taken the time to walk around your home looking for possible issues?

  • Just a quick walk could save you a lot of money and a lot of hassle.

- Have you removed the hose from the frost free hydrant?

  • If you didn't, it cannot drain, and it will freeze and possibly break, flooding your basement.

- Are your gutters clean and working properly?

  • If not, they can cause issues even in the winter

- Is the snow melting off your roof in strange places?

  • You may have missing or damaged insulation that can cause ice dams or expensive heat loss raising your heating bills. 

- Are the icicles huge?

  • You know that is a problem and indicates ventilation problems that can cause ice dams. They could also be caused by missing or damaged insulation. Squirrels and rodents can make a mess if they get in the attic.

- Did you check the propane tank level?

  • Do you know the propane company "keep full" agreement is void if the road isn't plowed or a fallen tree blocks it and they can't deliver gas?

- Have you changed the battery in your furnace thermostat?

  • If it is not hardwired to the home wiring, the furnace will shut off if the 9 volt battery dies and your home will get very cold.

- Have you marked your driveway for the snowplow driver?

  • He needs to know where your drain field, sprinkler heads, outdoor hydrants, or other potential issues are located.

- Consider turning the water off (well or street valve) if you are going to be away from home for an extended period.

  • Remember to turn the power off the water heater off if you drain the tank to prevent burning out the coils or heating elements.

 - If you burn wood, did you clean the chimney?

  • Thousands of fires are caused every year by dirty chimneys or stove pipes.
  • Try to only burn seasoned and dry wood
  • Be careful about burning paper and highly combustible materials.

- How about the pellet stove?

  • We get many calls every winter with wood, pellet, or gas stoves that "puff back" and soot up the home because they haven't been maintained. You must clean these stoves regularly. And make sure you empty the shop vacuum after every cleaning. Hot ashes can and will start a fire in the vacuum or ash bucket. NEVER leave the ashes “out on the porch” for the same reason.

- Remember to be careful using temporary heaters.

  • They cause many fires every winter. These fires range from the heaters not far enough away from combustible materials, heaters tipping over, improper or damaged cords, or undersized wiring.

- Be careful if you enjoy a natural Christmas tree.

  • Keep it watered. 
  • Never use candles near the tree.
  • Inspect the lights and replace any damaged cords.
  • Don’t leave cords where they can be a tripping hazard
  • Don’t put cords under rugs or anything that can cause them to overheat

- Make sure you have a clear escape route from any room in case of a fire

  • Go over and practice the route and escape plan with any children in the home.
  • Have a fire extinguisher handy.

You checked all the above? Great! Did you check your mom’s house, or grandma’s house, or your friend’s cabin who lets you use it in the summer? Many of the calls we get are seasonal homes where a small problem gets really big really quickly when nobody is checking to see if the toilet is overflowing, or furnace quits, or power is out. We have seen thousands of dollars of damage caused by someone breaking into a home to steal a half bottle of liquor. The thief then leaves with the broken window to drain the propane or fuel oil tank, freezing the pipes, and flooding the home.

Make a habit of checking to see if smoke is coming out of the chimney, check for broken windows or open doors, check for tracks in the driveway, or even fogged up windows. Remind the owners to consider turning off the water when not at home or even fully winterizing the cottage.

You know we are happy when you call us to help you or your neighbors, but a lot of those problems are preventable, and we are just fine if you prevent them. We are also sure your friends at your local insurance agency would appreciate you taking a few minutes to check the above list. If you need help, go ahead and call the friendly technicians at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac and we promise not to say, “We warned you.”

 “Tis the Season”

Who to call if you have visible mold

11/2/2018 (Permalink)

If you see visible mold in your home, do you need to call a hygienist? That is a classic “depends” question. Do you have “at risk” people living there? At risk includes:

  • (1) very old--immune systems breaking down,
  • (2) very young--immune systems not fully developed,
  • (3) very sick--immune system disorders, on chemo, have organ transplants, or have AIDS
  • (4) someone in the home is pregnant

If you answered yes to any of the above, you may want to consider a hygienist.

Are there legal issues or could someone be sued? An independent third party could be useful in that case. This often occurs in a renter/landlord situation. Are you selling your home and need documentation that the home is safe to live in? Was the water problem caused by someone who may be liable (subrogated) and forced to pay for the cleanup? If none of the above apply you probably do not need to pay for a hygienist.

If you have visible mold, you also have a water problem. The first thing you need to do is address the water problem. You cannot do mold remediation if the source of the problem has not been addressed. Most mold guarantees imply: “We guarantee your mold problem will be back if you do not address the moisture issues”. Usually this involves fixing the roof leak, dripping pipe, groundwater intrusion, or some other event causing the affected area to get wet and stay wet for at least 48-72 hours. Once the area is dry (below 16%) mold remediation can start.

A second time a hygienist could be useful is after the mold has been removed. It is a conflict of interest and illegal in most states for a mold remediation contractor to test his own work. An independent third party hygienist is often called at this time. However, the national guidelines state that successful mold remediation involves “no visible mold and dust free”. Note that it does not require clearance testing. Testing is always an option but isn’t usually necessary unless someone living in the home meets the “At Risk” definitions in the first paragraph or legal issues in the second paragraph.

If you have mold issues, it is best to just let the professionals at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac make it "Like it never even happened."

Sewage problems?

10/16/2018 (Permalink)

A big shout out to SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac's Scottville crews of David, Victoria, Donnie, Cody, Johnathon. They spent most of last week in full PPE (Tyvek suits, rubber suits, boots, gloves, and full-face respirators) under a local home after a sewage spill flooded the crawlspace. The job involved scooping the "solids and liquids" into pails, sliding them on a sled to the access door, and transferring them to goose neck bags for proper disposal. Working all day on your knees in a crawlspace filled with sewage is not fun but they did a great job making the home safe for the owners and their children.

If you Google sewage you will get lots of advice on how to clean it up. It ranges from soaking it up with kitty litter, covering it with lime, covering it with plastic and dirt, and a whole list of fixes that are just dangerous. I'm sure if you look far enough someone will even have a recipe for mixing white vinegar and baking soda to make it as good as new. Nope. Two words, source removal. You must get it out of there. Hire a septic cleaning company to pump out any standing water. You can do it yourself if you have access to a sanitary sewer to properly dispose of the sewage water. Note: it is illegal to put it down the storm sewer. If you get caught, it will be expensive.

Once the standing water is gone, the feces and solids must be mucked out and disposed of properly. Be careful who you hire for this portion of the project. Make sure the company you hire is insured and requires their employees to wear safety gear (PPE). If the employees get sick or injured, you could be liable for any costs. The solids must be also be disposed of properly. Some cut-rate businesses have been known to toss the sewage in the woods and ditches. Again, you are liable if your sewage is disposed of improperly. Once the solids have been removed, you will also need to remove at least some of the contaminated soil.

Replace it with fresh sand and apply an EPA registered disinfectant to retard bacterial and microbial growth. Place a fresh layer of 6 mill black plastic over the affected area and clean any splashes off the structural portions of the home. You are now ready to dry the structure. Dehumidifiers and air movers may require returning the walls, floors, and joists to preloss condition and dry to below 16% moisture content to prevent mold growth.

As with any disaster time is critical. If you smell any unusual odors coming from your homes' crawlspace, check it out immediately. Then call the professionals at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac to make it "Like it never even happened".

Are you aware if you have flood insurance coverage?

9/25/2018 (Permalink)

Do you need to buy National Flood Insurance from the NFIP (FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program) if you live in Western Michigan?

If you have a flood, your home insurance is probably not going to cover anything. Most home policies covering water damage require that the source of the water originate inside the structure. If ground water comes up from the floor or through the walls you are probably not covered. If it runs down your driveway and into your new egress window into the basement bedroom, no coverage. If it bubbles up from the city sewer, no coverage. If your sump pump quits and groundwater floods your basement, probably no coverage (unless you bought a limited sump pump policy rider).

There are a few exceptions. Often the homeowner’s policy covers sewage back up if it comes from your septic tank system (some policies consider the tank, drain field, and lines part of the homes plumbing). A few sump pump policies will cover you from sewer backups on your portion of the line to the city system. Read your policy carefully. You should have coverage if a tree falls on your home and damages the roof or high winds damage the home and allows rain to enter. Ice dams are usually covered. Other than these few exceptions the answer is usually “no coverage”.

According to FEMA, the average cost of one inch of water in your home approaches $25,000. USA Today says only 10-20% of North Carolina coastal homes and less than 3% state wide have flood insurance. The main reason obviously is cost. A policy in a high-risk area can easily exceed $10,000 a year. This cost is established by the government based on the risk assessment maps produced by FEMA. Much of western Michigan has been mapped and you can view your area by entering your address at the FEMA Flood Map Service Center. Most of our area is listed minimal or low risk of flooding which drastically reduces the annual premiums.

But flooding can and does happen. According to FEMA more than 20% of flood claims come from properties outside high-risk flood zones. If you live in a marginal flooding area of western Michigan, SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac recommends that you check the pricing on these low risk area policies. And please, read the policy carefully to determine exactly what is and is not covered. Also, do not hesitate to contact your local homeowner’s insurance agent and get his advice on protecting what is probably your most valuable asset.

Far too often SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac gets called to help flooded homeowners in Western Michigan and we must tell them to call their agent, but that they probably do not have coverage. Don't let that happen to you.

The most helpful resource tool

4/5/2018 (Permalink)

Did you know that 50% of businesses never re-open following a disaster? SERVPRO offers a no cost, no obligation service called an Emergency Ready Profile or an ERP. This proactive resource tool is to better prepare yourself, home & business for any of life's unexpected disasters. When you make the choice to have an ERP done on your business or home, one of our marketing representatives will walk through your business with one of your trusted employees. Your employee will show our marketer where all of your major shut offs are located and all contact information for the company. This 14-page portfolio will allow the SERVPRO employees to answer most questions on whereabouts for things, complete with descriptions to the shut locations and accompanied by pictures. This folder will also have work authorization contact info, insurance information and any other special regards that will help SERVPRO in the event of a disaster. When the ERP is presented, the marketer will also walk the representative from your company through downloading our free app that will already have all of this important information uploaded onto it. An ERP is an essential tool to help when life throws one of their unexpected disasters at you.

National volunteer week

4/5/2018 (Permalink)

With National Volunteer Week taking place the week of April 15-21, it's important that we recognize those putting their lives on the line everyday. Did you know that many fire fighters and EMTs are volunteers? 

There are more than 29,700 fire departments with over 1 million total fire fighters. Of those many are volunteer. Same goes for EMTs. There are more than 245,000 EMTs and paramedics. So many of our local heroes are out everyday risking their lives to save ours and doing it all out of the goodness of their heart.  

So the next time you see someone in uniform or those red lights flashing in your rear view mirror, give then a nice hand shake and move to the side of the road.

Do you have mold

4/3/2018 (Permalink)

Most of us know that fungi can naturally happen all around us. In fact, there are over 100,000 different kinds. Even though certain types of mold can add value to our everyday life, there are many kinds that can be extremely harmful and can present concern for your health.

Water or moisture can be a breeding ground for mold. Moisture can very easily make it's way into your home without you even knowing. When not taken care of promptly, is when the growth of mold spores may start and quickly multiply.

SERVPRO professionals handle water damages on a daily basis and are thoroughly trained in mold removal and the proper way to handle and rid the home or business of the mold issue. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac can efficiently restore your building back to a safe and healthy environment. For any questions, please head on over to http://www.SERVPROmanisteeludingtonandcadillac.com for other questions you may have or give us a call at 231-723-4870 to speak with one of our trained professionals today!

April fools day

4/2/2018 (Permalink)

April 1st, also known to many as April fool’s day, is a day filled with harmless jokes and pranks but where did the April fool come from? Who was this person and where did he live? And what exactly made him so foolish?

According to history.com, April fool’s day is thought to have originated back in 1582 when the French switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. It is thought that some people did not want to recognize or failed the knowledge of the new year being moved to January 1st, so they continued to celebrate the last week in March through April 1st. That then brought on jokes for those who did not recognize that the holiday had been moved.

The jokes that were played on one another back then were a far cry from the kinds of jokes and pranks played on people these days. One of the most popular jokes was someone putting a paper fish on your back. The paper fish was known as poisson d'avril also known as April fish. This fish was thought to symbolize an easily caught fish or a gullible person.

During the 1700's, the April fool’s popularity grew. English pranksters were at the foot of the popularity and spread the jokes of the day through their land. 

Through all the speculation, the actual origin to April fool’s day is still a mystery. But that sure doesn't stop people of all ages enjoying pulling a friendly joke or harmless prank on someone for a good old belly laugh!

The facts about smoke alarms

3/15/2018 (Permalink)

We all know that smoke alarms play a vital role in saving lives when installed and maintained correctly so why is it that 37% of home fire deaths result from fires in which no working smoke alarm was found to be present?

SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac has a few tips to ensure the safety of your home by installing smoke alarms. Aside from installing them on every level of your home, they should also be installed away from the kitchen at least 10 feet to prevent false alarms. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that smoke alarms be installed in every bedroom, outside all sleeping quarters and on every level of the house including the basement. 

Test your smoke alarms at least once a month along with changing out the batteries every 6 months. If you hear the alarm chirping, that is an indication that the batteries are running low and you should change them as soon as possible. In addition to batteries, all smoke alarms should be replaced at least every 10 years.

Three out of five fire deaths occur in home where no working smoke alarms or no smoke alarm at was found. The scary part is the risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half with homes that have working smoke alarms. 

For more questions about your smoke alarms, please contact SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac and we would be happy to help you and answer any questions that you may have.

March is...

3/8/2018 (Permalink)

The month of March brings many things. It may bring the sunshine and the taste of spring. If you live here in Michigan, it may bring the last snow fall for the year but the month of March is very significant to the charity world as it is the American Red Cross month. 

The American Red Cross is a charitable organization founded in 1881 that relies on donations and volunteers to carry out their mission of helping people. 

The American Red Cross is committed to helping people in need. Whether it is disaster relief, blood donations, first aid and CPR training, life guard training and something that hits close to many of our hearts, military family support. 

The American Red Cross is part of the Global Red Cross Network. It is the world's largest network for volunteering. It is found in 187 different countries, so if you're interested in volunteering, it's not to find a local American Red Cross.

To learn more about the American Red Cross, visit redcross.org.


2/21/2018 (Permalink)

Flooding is one of the most common and widespread natural disasters in America. Fema has reported that in the last 5 years, every state in the United States has experienced floods or flash flooding. 20% of all flood insurance claims come from a low to moderate risk area. 

According to the American Red Cross, flooding causes more damage in the United States than any other natural disaster that is weather related. On average, a home that has 1 inch of flood damage can cost about $27,000. 

In the event that a flood strikes your home or business, SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac is here to help. With 24 hour 7 day a week service, we will have you back in your home or business in no time. 

Lead paint clean-up inside your home

1/22/2018 (Permalink)

If your home was built before 1978, it may have lead based paint located somewhere in the home. If your home happens to have lead based paint there are a few requirements that the Environmental Protection Agency or the EPA, requires to safely and efficiently renovate the interior of the home. 

SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac is certified for lead based paint clean-up so to help, here are some handy tips to ensure the safe removal of lead based paint in your home. Collect all of the paint chips and debris. Seal these in a heavy duty plastic bag. Mist, remove and fold, with the dirty side in, and tape or seal any protective sheeting. 

Always place plastic sheeting between non-contaminated rooms.  All work areas must remain in place until after cleaning and removal of other sheeting has been done.

The area must be vacuumed by a HEPA vacuum and or the walls wiped from high to low with the appropriate wet wipes. Following the wiping, the room must then be vacuumed by a HEPA vacuum again and wipe the room down again with the appropriate wet wipe or damp cloth.

When cleaning, clean out at least 2 feet beyond the contaminated and contained work area. 

As always, use disposable wipes and change clothing frequently.

If you are cleaning a room that has a rug or carpet, use a HEPA vacuum with a beater bar for the best and most efficient results. For all hard floor not bearing carpet, use a HEPA vacuum and a wet mop for the best cleaning results.

As always, were here to help, so for any questions concerning the clean-up of lead based paint, please visit www.SERVPROmanisteeludingtonandcadillac.com.   

Tips to avoid Christmas tree fires

12/18/2017 (Permalink)

From the finding and cutting of the perfect tree, to admiring the beautiful decorations and perfectly placed lights. Those are just a couple of the fond traditions so many people have during the Christmas season. 

But did you know just how dangerous Christmas trees can be? According to the National Fire Protection Association, 1 in every 31 Christmas trees become deadly. The US Fire Departments respond to an average of 230 structure fires that stem from a Christmas tree every year. To help ease your mind this holiday season, here are some safety tips to try at home to ensure you have a safe and happy holiday.

Check your lights. If the cords are frayed, have cracked bulbs or have any loose connections, it's time to buy a new strand. 

Be sure to use only a single extension cord that can reach your homes outlet without being to long and getting tangled.

Make sure all outdoor light connectors are away from metal rain gutters and off the ground.

To lessen the chance of a fire, purchase a freshly cut tree and be sure to keep the tree at least 3 feet away from any heat source.

Water your tree every day and properly dispose of it shortly after Christmas before the tree becomes dry.

For more tips on how to prevent a Christmas tree fire in your home this holiday season please log onto https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/10-ways-to-prevent-christmas-Tree-holiday-decoration-Fires-362624651.html 

And for any other questions that you may have please visit our website www.SERVPROofmlc.com

Baking kids happy at Christmas

11/21/2017 (Permalink)

We're excited to ring in the holiday season by engaging with other local organizations as part of the annual "Shop with a Cop" program, benefiting children all around our community.

Children throughout Mason County are crossing their T’s and dotting their I’s on the Christmas lists that they have been working so hard on. They fantasize about the mound of presents under the tree, hoping Santa brings them everything on their list.

But what if that mound of presents doesn’t exist? What if Christmas morning is a time of sadness and empty hopes? What if Christmas morning is really just that, a fantasy?

We believe no child should go without this holiday season, and that's why we're committed to helping make every child's Christmas morning a dream come true.

For the second year in a row, we are proud to participate in our local “Shop with a Cop”  program, where elementary-age children are paired with a local law enforcement officers to shop for Christmas gifts for themselves and their families.

In order to raise money to purchase the gifts, SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac, along with other local businesses, are pulling together for a pie auction. Each pie is prepared and donated, and auctioned off live on local radio station WMOM, with 100% of the proceeds going towards the "Shop with a Cop" program.

We hope that with your support, this annual event is bigger and better then ever before.  

Tune in to WMOM on Wednesday, November 22 for the live auction, so you can enjoy a nice slice of pie this Thanksgiving – and children in our local community can enjoy the Christmas of their dreams.

Visit the Facebook auction page here.

Sewage disaster

5/16/2017 (Permalink)

OH NO! You have sewage in your basement/crawlspace. Do you have insurance coverage for that? That is the hardest question SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac gets asked in a typical day. The answer is “Maybe”, it depends on exactly what your policy says is covered. Most home policies cover the structure and everything in it. This is where it gets sticky. Is it your “poo” or the neighbors’?  Let’s try to sort it out for you.

If you have a septic system there is a good chance you will have coverage since many insurance companies consider the septic system a part of normal home “plumbing”. You still will need to call your agent who will probably defer to your adjuster for the ruling. Another thing to be aware of is that the “sewer backup” part of the policy normally does not cover contents. This should be a hint for you be very careful of storing valuable or unreplaceable contents on the basement floor. Sewer back up on home policies often have a limit of $2,000 to $5,000 and may or may not cover mold growth.

If you are on a city sewer, your chances of being covered are much slimmer. Most home policies will not cover the loss and it is very difficult to convince the city that it is their problem. You have to prove that they either had design issues or possibly a pump failure and that’s tough to do. Also remember that there is a big difference between a sewage backup and ground water back up from the sump pit or floor drain. As always, read the fine print on your policy before you renew to prevent a nasty surprise when it happens to you. And don’t forget to call the experts at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac at 231-723-4872 if you need help.

Do I have mold?

4/4/2017 (Permalink)


If your home has been wet you probably have some level of mold growth but finding it is not that simple. Compared to a grain of sand, which can be 10,000 microns in size, most mold spores are less than 1 micron in size. This means that they are not visible to the naked eye. The only way to determine if you really have mold is to send a sample to a lab equipped with a 500 times microscope. If someone tells you that you have mold ask them which lab they used.

Think of visible mold using the sand example magnified 10,000 times. You would not be able to see a single mold spore or grain of sand in your home. However, you would be able to see a pail of sand. After mold grows for several days or weeks, it does become visible to the naked eye just like a pail of beach sand is visible. But, just because it looks like mold, it may be something else. I have seen many instances where well-meaning home inspectors ruined a home sale by falsely identifying dust, oils, tar, and insulation as mold. To be sure, it must be tested by a lab.

It is a conflict of interest (and illegal in most states) for the same company to do mold remediation and also do clearance testing. Note: Michigan has no mold laws so be careful of self-proclaimed mold experts offering to remove your mold and provide “proof” with sampling. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac can guide you through the process, provide contact information for local independent testing personnel, and answer any questions. Give us a call at 877-350-4872.

Do I have toxic black mold?

4/4/2017 (Permalink)


There are thousands of different species of mold commonly found in Michigan. Most are black or grey. The famous “toxic black killer mold”, is actually a Texas and Florida mold, Stachybotrys Chartarum. It can be found in Michigan but is pretty rare because it requires high temperatures and extremely high moisture levels for a long time to grow. Stachybotrys Chartarum was blamed (probably falsely) in infant deaths in the 1990’s and has had a bad reputation ever since. When attacked (think bleach) it does give off micro toxins which can cause health issues to sensitive people.

Whenever molds’ food source (drywall, wood, dirt, leather, clothes, or pretty much any organic material) is wet above 16%, mold will grow. Actively growing mold will give off Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (MVOCs). These musty or moldy smells are actually aldehydes, benzenes, tulolenes. These odors are commonly associated with the moldy basement smell most people recognize. If you smell them, you need to look for the water problem and address it immediately.

You will hear this over and over but you cannot have a mold problem without also having a water problem. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac can quickly find the source of water and get it dry before the mold problem gets worse. SERVPRO has IICRC and ACAC trained professionals on staff to help with any mold issue you may have. Give them a call at 877-350-4872. Never let someone work on your home unless they show you a copy of their certifications and proof that they carry mold malpractice insurance. If they or their employees get sick working on your home, you could be liable.

Is it safe for me to stay in my home if I have visible mold?

4/4/2017 (Permalink)


The only one who can answer that question is your health care professional who is familiar with your health history. Ask your doctor. That said, the majority of symptoms of mold are allergy symptoms that go away after you leave the source. Think hay fever. If you are allergic to rag weed and go out in a field of rag weed, you will start sneezing, your eyes will start running, and you will feel terrible. A short time after leaving the allergens you will begin to feel better. Mold is similar. If you are allergic to the specific mold or molds in your environment, you will have symptoms.

Mold symptoms are related to time and extent of exposure. You may have more severe symptoms from mold in your bedroom that you will from your bathroom due to the amount of time spent in each area. A couple square inches of mold on your shower curtain will likely not affect you as much as a wet moldy carpet. Don’t assume that because you never go into your attic or crawlspace that mold in those areas is OK. Spores will travel throughout the home due to air currents and pressure changes from your furnace, AC unit, bathroom vent fan, range hood, or outside wind loads.

SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac’s highly trained professionals will take the time to explain the possible issues related to mold and work with your insurance company to determine if you have coverage. Some insurance companies cover mold and some don’t. Read your policy carefully. The insurance companies that do cover mold often have limits and usually require the mold to be caused by a covered loss such as a broken pipe or wind damage to the roof.

If I see mold, can I just cut it out?

4/4/2017 (Permalink)


You can legally, it is your house and you can do whatever you want. It is not recommended because of the risk of spreading spores to unaffected areas of the home. Once mold is disturbed by cutting, sanding, or cleaning; massive amounts to spores are released into the area. While there are no safe spore count limits identified in Michigan, most hygienists like to see spore counts in occupied dwellings at or below the 2,000 to 3,000 spores per cubic meter range.

During demolition of moldy drywall or carpeting the spore counts can easily reach one million spores per cubic meter. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac has highly trained professionals who can safely remove the visible mold and invisible spores. Give us a call at 877-723-4872. SERVPRO employees will do the remediation and cleaning in full PPE which includes full face respirators, nitrile gloves, and Tyvek moon suits. They will also set containment and negative air pressure to prevent the spores from spreading to unaffected areas of your home.

Special care must be taken with the heating and cooling systems to avoid contaminating them and spreading spores throughout the home. After the visible mold has been removed, SeERVPRO will HEPA vacuum all surfaces followed by wet cleaning with an EPA registered anti-microbial. Other steps may also be required if the area has “at risk” occupants or is a daycare or health care facility. One last thing to consider is, never do any mold remediation until the source of water has been stopped and the area is dry.

I have black, brown, red, white, or green stains or crystals on my unpainted block walls. Is it mold?

4/4/2017 (Permalink)


As we stated in an earlier post, you really can’t be sure if it is or isn’t mold without a lab report. However, most of the time these crystals and stains are efflorescence caused by water entering the block from outside the home, evaporating, and leaving the minerals and salts behind as crystals and stains. Although mold can grow on bio-films, dirt, or paint on block walls, it cannot grow on the concrete itself. Mold requires organic material to digest and concrete is inorganic.

A bigger problem with seeing the efflorescence on the block is the water intrusion itself. The water will evaporate from the block and condense on some other surface when it reaches the dew point. Unless this water is removed (usually by setting a dehumidifier) or prevented from entering the structure, the possibility of mold growth on other surfaces is likely. While SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac does not specialize in waterproofing basement, we can give you advice on keeping the water away from the structure.

Installing roof eves with downspouts that get the water at least 6 feet away from the basement is usually the quickest and most cost effective way to solve the water intrusion problem. Landscaping to divert the water away from the basement is another solution. The mold expensive (and sometimes necessary fix) is to dig up the wall and coat the outside with waterproofing material or install drain tile to remove the water. Sometimes installing a vapor barrio near the surface can help in preventing the water from causing problems. Give SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac a call at 877-723-4872.

Using a generator safely following Michigan storms

3/16/2017 (Permalink)

Yesterday's paper read, "Two Die At Home Running Generator During Power Outage." In this case, an elderly couple died after setting the generator in an enclosed garage because of the power outage. Their death was entirely preventable. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission requires manufactures of portable generators to have a label that states "DANGER! Using a generator indoors CAN KILL YOU IN MINUTES."

* Never use generators indoors.

*Never set generator outdoors near a window, door or vent.

* Never use generators in crawlspaces or under awnings.

* To prevent shock and electrocution, never use a generator in wet conditions.

* Make sure you have working CO (Carbon Monoxide) detectors and alarms in your home.

Opening doors and windows will not prevent carbon monoxide buildup, although, you cannot see or smell carbon monoxide. Symptoms include feeling sick, dizzy or weak. If you hear a generator running in your neighborhood, please check to see if it is being operated properly. If you suspect CO poisoning, do not open the building. Call 911 or your local fire department immediately for professional assistance. Carbon Monoxide deaths are easily preventable and SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac, encourages you to use generators safely and watch out for your neighbors and friends!

What do the national guidelines say about mold?

1/20/2017 (Permalink)

The best source of mold information is the IICRC S520, Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remediation 2015 3rd edition. This ANSI standard is accepted throughout the world as the standard care that should be followed on all remediation projects. Make sure that whoever does your mold remediation follows this standard. SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac's employees have been trained in this newly released standard, and can help you with any size project.

The summary of this standard, is source removal. It clearly states, that the use of bleach and anti-microbials, is not an acceptable remediation procedure. Let me just repeat that one more time, no-one should be using bleach or relying on anti-microbials to kill mold. A dead mold spore is just as dangerous to the human body as a live spore.

The standard also states, that porous materials with visible mold growth must be discarded. Hard surfaces with visible mold growth can be cleaned with abrasive cleaning followed with wet cleaning with soap and water. Care must be taken to prevent the spread of mold spores to unaffected areas of the structure through the use of containment, engineering controls and air scrubbing. Contact SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac for advice on rather this is a project you can tackle yourself or need SERVPRO's assistance or visit our website at SERVPROofmanisteeludingtonandcadillac.com

How did I get mold?

1/19/2017 (Permalink)

Example of Mold Spores

In a home, the recipe for growing mold is "Just add water." Mold needs three things to grow: food (any organic material) water and spores. Mold spores are everywhere. Its food is everywhere, so all that is needed to grow is water. Most mold spores take 48 to 72 hours to start growing after their food source reaches 16% moisture content. This means that 2-days after a rain or dew, you will have mold growth outside and new spores. The same thing happens indoors after you have a water event.

Mold spores will enter your home in many ways. They are small enough to go through the walls as the home breathes, they can be carried in by pets or on your clothes. Open windows are an obvious source. When we say, spores are everywhere, that includes in every home in Michigan. That also includes doctors' offices, hospitals and your car. Remember, "Just add water."

If you have a water leak anywhere in your home, you need to get it repaired immediately. If you have a flood or broken pipe, give SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac a call at 877-350-4872. SERVPRO strictly follows the national drying guidelines that require that the structure be dried down to below 16% moisture content within 72 hours to prevent mold growth. This is not a do-it-yourself project if you have major water damage. Specialized equipment will be needed to get it dry before mold starts.

Back to school tip and tricks

8/15/2016 (Permalink)

With all of the parents gearing up to send their children back to school, the harsh reality of back to school shopping begins to hit their wallets like a freight train. American parents with children from kindergarten through 12th grade will collectively spend about 24.9 billion dollars, which is an average of $315.18 per child. That amount is down 6% from last year according to Martha C. White. A lead consult at familyfinance.com. 

A good way to lower the spending costs is to simply shop around. Shopping online has so many benefits. A lot of the time, you can get the name brands at a fraction of the cost and even shopping around online on multiple sites will allow you that price break. For example, my daughter wanted a specific pair of Under Armour tennis shoes that she found at a popular sporting goods store for $77. I started looking online and found the same pair of shoes for $29.99 with free shipping after searching around a few different sites. $47 less then what they were at the sporting goods store. 

Another great way to cut prices is to use social media. Facebook has so many of the yard sale and garage sale sites where people re-sell their gently used items and sometimes brand new which are a lot less because they are simply trying to get rid of them. 

There are so many ways to cut costs for back to school shopping. A lot of them are at your fingertips. The internet is great tool to find all of the name brand must haves to make their first day entrance one to remember.

Memorial Day

6/9/2016 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington & Cadillac has had the priviledge of employing exceptional people. Employees who work hard to provide for their families and allowing SERVPRO to maintain our highly recommended reputation. Among them are David Gancarz, Marc Pirtle & Phillip Wicinski. These three men, to most people, just look like your everyday people walking down the street but us here at SERVPRO, they are heroes. 

Phillip Wicinski had been with SERVPRO for just over 2 1/2 years. Working as a Recon Carpenter, Phillip works mainly out of our Manistee location. Born in Muskegon, Phillip re-located to Manistee in 1976, where he remains today. In 1988, Phillip made the brave choice to join the Navy. Phillip served for quite some time before marrying his beautiful wife Stacey. Together, they have 2 sons, Zachary and Jakob and in March 2016, Phillip and Stacey welcomed their 1st grandchild Carter. Phillip has always had a place in his heart for helping people, stating that his favorite part of working for SERVPRO was "Helping people in their time of need."

Marc Pirtle has been with SERVPRO for almost a year. Even though Marc is new to SERVPRO where he works as a Mitigation/ Recon Technician, where he works mainly in the Cadillac area. Marc does not lack in his knowledge in the field. Having over 20 years' experience in the paint and construction industry and owning his own painting business along with 2 retail businesses, Marc has exceptional customer service that he employs every day with SERVPRO customers. Marc spent 8 years in environmental monitoring and equipment installation but among his biggest accomplishments were the 15 years that he served in the United States Army. Marc served in the 312 Armed Calvary Regimen. Although, Marc has now settled down and started a family of his own, he will never forget the men and women that he has met and the places he has been. He stands tall and very proud to say that he served.

Finally, David Gancarz has been with SERVPRO for just about a year working as a Crew Chief. David was born and raised right here in Mason County and is a Freesoil graduate. He and his wife Mandy, have 3 beautiful daughters and now reside in Custer. After graduating from high school, David made the choice to join the United States Army where he proudly served 4 years. While in the Army, David was decorated with many badges and medals, but among them is one that he holds very close. While serving, David was struck by a road side bomb while on deployment. Due to that incident, David received the purple heart. David is very proud of the time he served. He feels as though every day is a gift and life is a gift and knows just how fragile both are. David lives by making the most of every day and giving as much as he can to his family.

Memorial Day, originally known as Declaration Day following the Civil War, was made into a nationally observed holiday in 1971. The day was to honor the men and women who paid the ultimate price fighting for our freedom. To most of us, Memorial Day is a day off to relax with the family, have a BBQ and enjoy the sunshine but like David, Phillip & Marc have experienced first-hand, the reality that freedom isn't free is all too real. This Memorial Day let's rememeber the true reason this holiday was instilled as a national holiday and shake a hand to those who gave some and pay your respects to those who gave all.

From all of us at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington & Cadillac, thank you to all of the men and women who have or are currently fighting for our country and a special thank you to the families who are away from their loved ones serving proudly as a representaion of them. We salute you. Please have a safe and happy Memorial Day. God Bless.

Emergency Ready Profiles

5/4/2016 (Permalink)

Did you know that 50% of businesses never re-open following a disaster? SERVPRO offers a no cost, no obligation service called an Emergency Ready Profile or an ERP. This proactive resource tool is to better prepare yourself, home & business for any of life's unexpected disasters. When you make the choice to have an ERP done on your business or home, one of our marketing representatives will walk through your business with one of your trusted employees. Your employee will show our marketer where all of your major shut offs are located and all contact information for the company. This 14-page portfolio will allow the SERVPRO employees to answer most questions on whereabouts for things, complete with descriptions to the shut locations and accompanied by pictures. This folder will also have work authorization contact info, insurance information and any other special regards that will help SERVPRO in the event of a disaster. When the ERP is presented, the marketer will also walk the representative from your company through downloading our free app that will already have all of this important information uploaded onto it. An ERP is an essential tool to help when life throws one of their unexpected disasters at you.

For your protection

3/28/2016 (Permalink)

SERVPRO hosted the areas first lead renovators training for the area contractors in December of 2009 and have been the areas leaders in work safe practices since 2002. We highly recommend that you ask any contractors that you hire to provide proof that they are trained in lead safe practices and are following the law to protect you and your family. If you choose to have the lead removed from your home (and this can be very expensive) make sure your contractor is a licensed and insured lead paint abatement professional which is vastly different  from someone trained in lead safe procedures. If you have questions call the EPA hotline 1-800-424-LEAD (5323) or go to www.epa.gov/lead website for questions.

Lead paint poisoning

3/28/2016 (Permalink)

Lead poisoning from paint is not just an indoor issue. If the pre 1978 paint on the homes exterior is not properly removed it can contaminate the soil. The lead never breaks down and your loved ones can track it into your home, get it on their hands, clothes, or toys and ingest it causing health issues. Extensive containment of the outside of the home including covering bushes and the ground with heavy plastic sheets is necessary to prevent the lead from getting into the soil. It's the law. SERVPRO recommends going to the EPA website website www.epa.gov/lead to learn how to remove the paint safety.

Being EPA certified

3/28/2016 (Permalink)

You should never allow a contractor or painter to work on your home (built before 1978) unless he/she shows you their training certificate that proves they are EPA certified in lead safe procedures. The law also requires that every contractor working on a home built before 1978 either test the paint to prove that it is lead free, or follow lead safe practices. All contractors are also required have you sign a form stating that they gave you an EPA guide to lead safe practices if they do over 6 square feet of interior work or 20 square feet for exteriors. There are large fines for failures to follow these steps. You should not try to remove this paint yourself without first going to the EPA website www.epa.gov/lead to learn how to do it safely.

Lead paint basic rules

3/28/2016 (Permalink)

The basic rules of safely disturbing lead paint include setting containment to prevent dust and debris from escaping the work area, moving any furniture or contents that can be moved, covering the floors and any furniture that cannot be moved, and sealing doors and heating & cooling systems to prevent transfer to unaffected areas of the home. Open flame burning or torching, sanding, grinding, needle gunning or blasting with power tools not equipped with a shroud and HEPA vacuum attachment, or using a heat gun with temperatures greater than 1100 degrees F are prohibited. The affected area must be cleaned using the EPA special methods including HEPA vacuuming followed by wet wiping and mopping with clean rinse water. Stay tuned to learn how to know if your contractor is lead paint safety trained.

Lead paint in your home

3/28/2016 (Permalink)

With the mandated water testing in most areas of Western Michigan, you can be comfortable that the area lead issues are related to lead paint, not water quality. Before it was banned in 1978 most paint contained large amounts of lead (sometimes 50% or more). There are multiple layers of this paint on nearly all homes built before 1978. If this paint is in good condition and not disturbed, it is usually not dangerous. Also, it has often been painted over with modern lead free paint providing further protection. However once you disturb it by scrapping, sanding, using a heat gun, or trying to remove the paint, it can become very dangerous. The next blog will give some SERVPRO hints on what your contractor should be doing to protect your home.

Lead in our area

2/25/2016 (Permalink)

During the past few weeks there have been excellent articles written in Western Michigan about the high lead levels in the area. According to the Center for Diease Control, no safe blood lead level in children has been identified. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay atention, and academic acheivement. And effects of lead exposure cannot be corrected. That means prevention of lead exposure is the only option. Stay tuned as SERVPRO gives some guidelines on how to lower you or your families risk of lead poisoning.

'Like It Never Even Happened'

1/18/2016 (Permalink)

With all of the wintery weather conditions and fluctuating temperatures, you never know when a where a disaster will strike, so a quick tip for any body with seasonal homes, take a look around or ask a neighbor. Look for condensation, foggy windows and if you have propane check the tank. You don't want that tank to get empty not allowing heat into your house and gain the chance of burst pipes. In the event that you have an issue do not hesitate to call SERVPRO! We will make it 'Like It Never Even Happened' you have our word!

SERVPRO opens office in Ludington

1/29/2015 (Permalink)

Big news! SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac is opening an office in Ludington!  

We have served the Ludington area since starting in 2002.  To better serve the area we will be opening an office at 1833 US-10, Scottville, 49454.  This means quicker response times for emergencies and a better overall service for our customers in the Ludington area.

Look for the "coming soon" sign within the next week on the south side of US-10. The ground breaking will begin as soon the weather allows!

Stay tuned for updates and photos! 

Ultrasonic Cleaning

11/21/2013 (Permalink)


SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac recently purchased an ultrasonic cleaner for our contents cleaning division. 

Ultrasonic cleaners are used for cleaning of contents on water, fire and mold jobs.  The ultrasonic cleaning method provides a deeper and more thorough cleaning then hand cleaning.  This allows us to provide better deodorization of items and to clean detailed items that can not be cleaned by hand.


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