Chemical Drain Cleaners: Good or Bad?
At one time or another, a clogged drain has frustrated residents of homes across Boston, MA. The fast and easy solution is to pour a bottle of commercial drain cleaner down the problem drain to clear away the blockage. Do they work? Can they damage your home's pipes? Are they the best option? Here are some facts and a few tips on alternatives:
Chemical Drain Cleaners
Widely-used and powerful, chemically-based cleaners (caustic, oxidizing, and acid types) can help open up a partially clogged drain. They work by generating heat to break down a clog until it can be flushed out. However, there are drawbacks to their use:
- They often just move clogged material farther down a drain pipe, where it can re-accumulate or cause a sewage backup that requires professional sewage cleaning services.
- The chemical gel can settle and corrode pipes if it's unable to push through a completely blocked drain.
- If pipes are old or made of plastic, the cleaner's chemicals will warp and permanently damage them if used repeatedly.
- Chemical cleaners are toxic and harmful to people, pets and the environment.
Alternatives to Chemical Drain Cleaners
There are safer ways to clear blocked drain pipes. Mechanical options include flexible drain snakes or augers. Available in manually-operated, hand-cranked, battery-operated and electric models, this device can successfully clear drains without resorting to calling in a professional.
Enzymatic drain cleaners use bacteria or enzymes to devour organic materials like the hair, soap and food waste that collect and clump in drains. Although this biological option requires more time to clear a clogged drain — typically 24 hours — it's non-toxic and environmentally safe.
There are many home remedies, including the use of clothes hangers, wet/dry household vacuums and various mixtures of natural ingredients like salt, baking soda, vinegar and boiling water. All are effective depending on the severity of the clog.
Whether in the kitchen or bathroom, there are a range of proven solutions to stubborn blocked drains. With mounting concerns about health and the environment, chemical drain cleaners should be the option of last resort.
4 Ways To Ready Your Business for a Storm
Keep computer files backed up on an external hard drive or cloud
Four Points To Consider
When water infiltrates a business, it poses several dilemmas for commercial property owners. The flooding puts the place temporarily out-of-commission, and the proprietors must begin work looking over the structure and possessions. Is there a way to avoid or mitigate damage? Proactive owners should be aware of several steps that prove useful in securing the premises and reducing trouble. The following are four points to consider.
1. Review and Update Insurance Policies
Is black water covered by insurance? Come plans don't cover flood damage, so it's best to read through the information now rather than be disappointed later on. Discuss this with an agent. Sometimes, commercial owners can add this option to the policy. It may cost a bit more, but it may be useful after a storm.
2. Save Important Data
Many significant documents are saved on computer systems. Flooding can destroy the database, erasing records that owners may need. Regularly back up files on a cloud or external drive so that they are readily available at any time. If devices are harmed, call out a content cleaning company in Theatre District, MA, to inspect the valuables. High-tech equipment might be able to salvage the assets.
3. Inspect the Property
Before a major weather season hits, have various aspects of the location assessed. For example, evaluate windows and doors, checking for holes or cracks. Patch these up to avoid weaknesses that could permit flood damage. In addition, have a roofer look over the shingles and flashing. Patch any areas of concern. Even small leaks can be concerning. Inspect basements, plumbing and air handlers. Ensure that everything is in proper condition.
4. Prepare the Structure
When severe snow or rain is coming, watch the news, remaining aware of potential issues. If surges are expected, prepare sandbags for the outside. Pick up objects that aren't tied down. Wind can turn them into a threat. Move assets to higher ground, and have batteries and a generator ready in case power goes out.
Flooding isn't preventable, but it can be limited. Those in charge should work ahead of the storm to safeguard the building and what is inside.
Local Boston SERVPRO Cleaning Specialist Offers Tips for Staying Healthy as COVID-19 and Flu Season Converge
SERVPRO of Boston Downtown/Back Bay/South Boston urges everyone to be extra vigilant about following cleaning and disinfecting protocols this year.
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged business owners and homeowners alike to find ways to live and work without exposing themselves or others to this highly contagious virus. Now, the approaching flu season is set to complicate that challenge even further. To help control the threat that the one-two punch of COVID-19 and the seasonal flu presents, local professional cleaning specialist from SERVPRO of Boston Downtown/Back Bay/South Boston urges everyone to be extra vigilant about following cleaning and disinfecting protocols this year.
Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)1 believe both COVID-19 and the seasonal flu spread primarily by droplets made when infected people cough, sneeze, or talk. While not as frequent, it is also believed adults and children can contract COVID-19 or the flu by touching a surface or an object that has virus particles on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes. The CDC continues to recommend a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses, but experts also emphasize the importance of cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces daily to help mitigate the potential spread from contaminated surfaces. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
To limit exposure and control the spread of these double threats, recommends you wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer that is at least 60 percent alcohol, keep your hands away from your face, and wear a mask to protect others. For effective daily, routine cleaning at home or at work, recommends first removing surface grime and dirt with soap and water, then following up with a disinfectant. “It’s easier to feel comfortable about limiting exposure at home where you can control how clean your surroundings are,” said . “It’s more difficult out in public; but this year especially, it’s important to be aware of the space you’re in. You need to learn to recognize spaces where cleaning is – or is not – a priority so you can adjust your behavior accordingly.”
For those home and business owners who have specialized cleaning requirements or who simply want the peace of mind that a professional cleaning service can offer in this stressful time, SERVPRO of Boston Downtown/Back Bay/South Boston can help. “While we remain a leader in disaster cleanup and remediation situations, we also provide that same ‘deeper level of clean’ for everyday residential and commercial cleaning. In addition, SERVPRO offers their ‘Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned’ program, developed for businesses in response to the pandemic. The high level of confidence that a professionally cleaned space provides offers welcome reassurance to patrons as the flu season intersects with COVID-19.”
SERVPRO of Boston Downtown/Back Bay/South Boston specializes in disaster restoration, cleanup, and repair services, helping to remediate damage, making it “Like it never even happened,” for both commercial and residential customers. For more information on the “Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned” program, please visit https://www.SERVPRObostondowntownbackbaysouthboston.com/certified-SERVPRO-cleaned
What Do I Do After a Business Fire?
Business stores damaged by fire in Chinatown,MA
Here's A List Of To-Do Items
Your levelheaded actions in the chaotic aftermath of a fire often determine how quickly you can reopen your business. If you have a fire contingency plan with up-to-date records stored off site, you're way ahead in the recovery timeline. Business blueprints, insurance policies, licenses, inventories, accounting statements, employee records, etc., are critical documents that can help speed your insurance claim.
Good documentation is imperative post-fire, too. As you organize your business' rebound in Chinatown, MA, record your fire restoration purchases, keep receipts and document all communications.
1. Immediately contact your insurance company. Check your fire insurance coverage and advise your agent.
2. Don't touch any damage. Wait for the insurance inspection.
3. Secure the premises. Avoid vandalism by asking for extra police patrols or arranging private security. If there's exterior damage, contact fire restoration professionals to tarp the roof and board up breaches to avoid secondary damage before your building is inspected.
4. Turn off all utilities. Don't resume service until your property's cleared by the utility company.
5. As soon as you can officially reenter your building, retrieve important paperwork. If not stored off site, recover all key documents, cash and valuables.
6. Keep all business-related parties up to date. Provide your contact information to employees, customers, vendors, suppliers as well as banks, utilities, the post office, etc. Inform them of fire restoration progress and the estimated timeframe for reopening your business.
7. Consider the help of a public adjuster. If you feel more objectivity is needed to settle your insurance claim fairly, request a review by an impartial public adjuster licensed by the state to negotiate disputed settlement issues.
Fire restoration goes beyond smoke cleaning and water damage remediation services. It's a common-sense, many-faceted process that furthers your chances of fully recovering from a disastrous fire and getting your company back to the business of business.
Winter-Ready Your Business
Prepare for a winter storm
Here Are Some Tips
Increasingly, extreme weather causes business owners in Waterfront, MA, to think about the seasonal threat of more than one major winter storm and the heightened chances of storm damage to their operations. They worry, too, about business interruptions from power outages or snowbound streets. They're sensitive to the fact that at least 25 percent of businesses affected by a weather or other disaster close for good. They know that small businesses are especially at risk.
Savvy business people understand that careful preparation can ensure their business' viability in the face of even the most dangerous winter storm.
Prepare Your Employees
People are the DNA of your organization, no matter whether they work onsite or remotely. Like you, your employees need peace of mind in knowing that they and their families are well prepared for an extended winter emergency. Urge them to:
- Sign up for weather text alerts and weather apps.
- Keep important family documents in a safe location.
- Store an ample quantity of pantry and pet staples.
- Assemble an emergency medical supply kit.
- Create a family communications plan.
- As a family, discuss winter weather safety.
Prepare Your Business
Good planning helps ensure your operations are up and running at the earliest post-storm opportunity.
Maintain roof, windows, foundation and exterior walls in good repair.
Know your winter-related insurance coverage and agent's contact information.
Ensure cold weather supplies are stocked and equipment is in good working order (snow blowers, emergency generators).
Take steps to protect sensitive equipment.
Slightly open water faucets to allow water to drip out from pipes vulnerable to freezing.
Prepare a multi-contact list of employees, suppliers, clients, etc.
Ready a contact register of your heating contractor, plumber and fire department.
Arrange for snow removal (parking lot, driveway, sidewalk).
With major weather disruptions becoming more common, it's not if, but when a winter storm may cause a business closure or even property damage requiring professional disaster restoration services. When it comes to challenging weather, remember: Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
How Do I Find Out if I’m in a Flood Zone?
Flooded zone in North End, MA
How Do I Find Out if I’m in a Flood Zone?
The Federal Emergency Management Agency maintains official flood zone maps, which designate areas with the greatest risk of flooding. To find the designation for your home in North End, MA, go to FEMA’s Map Service Center and enter your address. Note: If you have a hard time loading the FEMA map, a more user-friendly version is available here.
FEMA’s flood maps display more than a dozen category codes, but they all fall into one of three main zones:
1. High-Risk Zone
This is any area with a FEMA map code beginning with the letters A or V. It’s also referred to as the “100-year floodplain.” Each year, this zone has a 1% chance of experiencing a catastrophic flood. If you’re in a high-risk flood zone, flood insurance is usually required. Unfortunately, flood insurance is most costly for homes in high-risk zones.
2. Moderate-to-Low-Risk Zone
This is an area with a FEMA map code beginning with B, C, or X. It is also referred to as the “500-year floodplain.” This zone has a 0.2% chance, each year, of a destructive flood event. Flood insurance is not mandatory in this zone, but it is still strongly encouraged. Flood insurance is considerably less expensive for this zone than for high-risk zones, especially when compared to the costs of storm damage cleanup after a devastating flood.
3. Undetermined-Risk Zone
These areas may have a FEMA map code beginning with the letter D, or they may have no FEMA flood code. This doesn’t mean your home won’t flood. Heavy rainfall frequently causes flash flooding in all parts of the country.
There are many reasons you might want to know your property’s official flood zone designation: You may be considering selling your house, or maybe you’ve been thinking of buying flood insurance. In any case, understanding your risk level is key to protecting your home from flood damage.
How To Safely Handle a Basement Flood
Flooded basement in South End, MA
If you experience a basement flood, it must be cleared as quickly as possible before mold or other damage has an opportunity to advance. Prior to the arrival of a water restoration service professional, get started by drying out the space to the best of your ability.
Basement Flooding Causes
You may discover your home’s ground floor has flooded as a result of:
- Poor sealing
- Incorrectly installed drainage
- Damaged downspouts
- Faulty appliances such as water tanks and sump pumps
Pay attention to these matters, as your odds of suffering a watery inundation can be greatly reduced with simple home maintenance. Unfortunately, uncontrolled dampness is sometimes unavoidable. Know what to do if a basement flood becomes your reality.
Basement Flooding Repairs
Before anything else, check your insurance coverage, as having the right clause in your policy means not needing to shell out for cleanup equipment entirely on your own.
Water poses an electrocution hazard, so prioritize avoiding shocks. Switching off electrical circuits is a must, but your service panel’s location may pose a challenge. Should a stool or stepladder be necessary to gain access, use ones consisting of plastic or fiberglass. Keep lights off and use battery-powered illumination for navigation. Never attempt this procedure without the protection of waders or similarly non-conductive clothing.
Use a heavy-duty gas engine pump to drain the flooded area. Feed the hose down the stairs and run the line outside to where runoff is permissible. When doing this, make certain extension cords do not become submerged.
Remove flooded outlets and switches, as they will forever pose a hazard. Drywall that has become soaked needs to be replaced, but what remains above the water line can usually be salvaged. Generally, it is recommended that carpeting be tossed. Pay attention to wood flooring, as cracked or bowing sections must be reconstructed.
Lower the chance of a basement flood affecting your home in South End, MA, through proper upkeep. Should one happen regardless, extricate the water quickly and in a manner that minimizes danger.
4 Facts About Mold
Mold spores thrive on moisture
Here are Some Fact About Mold You Might Want To Know
To some people, the word mold may evoke feelings of anxiety and fear. This can be especially true if mold is found in your Financial District, MA, home. Fortunately, learning facts about black mold can help you better understand this organism and how to control it in your environment.
1. Mold is Everywhere
First, it’s helpful to know that mold spores are microscopic organisms found in the air. Mold spores are both indoors and outdoors, and people are exposed to various amounts of mold every day. Fortunately, mold doesn’t become harmful unless it’s allowed to breed and accumulate in size.
2. Mold Thrives on Moisture
Most of the time, mold is kept at acceptable amounts through regular cleaning and sanitizing. Unfortunately, any type of moisture problem invites a breeding ground for mold. Mold can’t produce its own food so it relies on organic materials such as your plants, walls, roof, and food. Basements, bathrooms, refrigerators, and attics are common damp areas where mold finds a comfortable home.
3. Mold Has Many Species
Black mold is typically the most commonly understood type of mold. People often assume any black discoloration on walls, ceilings or bathroom tiles is mold; however, mold can be green, pink, brown or gray depending on what it’s feeding off of. Common species of mold include Stachybotrys, Penicillium, Cladosporium and Fusarium.
4. Mold Can Be Controlled
Reading or hearing about mold may make you feel anxious, but it’s good to know that it can be controlled. Because mold thrives on moisture, you can prevent mold from becoming a problem by:
- Maintaining a home humidity level at 45% or below
- Fix leaks and condensation immediately
- Increase air circulation with fans and open doors
- Thoroughly dry wet areas after flooding
If you discover that you have black mold growing in your home, it’s wise to contact a mold remediation company. Restoration specialists have the tools and knowledge to correctly and properly handle your mold cleanup.
Choosing a Fire Restoration Company Like A Pro
Fire cleanup after SERVPRO of Boston Downtown/Back Bay/South Boston finished
Choosing the Right Fire Cleanup Firm
A fire can create endless headaches, but those can only worsen if the company you choose to handle your fire damage restoration isn’t on the level. Lack of experience or cutting corners can leave you with subpar repairs. Do you know what to look for? Here are a few tips for choosing the right fire cleanup firm in Seaport, MA.
In the wake of a fire, your property will likely face a myriad of cleanup needs you couldn’t have imagined. Some of the main things you’ll need after a commercial fire include:
- Dry cleaning
- Smoke cleanup
There are many more skills the ideal fire damage restoration firm should have in their pocket, but this is a good place to start. Once you find a company offering those basics, look for the following to make your final choice.
A company can make many promises on its website, but the proof is in the pudding and that means online reviews. Look for companies with a strong mix of good and moderate - all sparkling might not be entirely honest. What’s important is that they’re strongest at the things you need most.
Experience, Experience, Experience
Any handyman can take a stab at after-fire restoration, and lots of cleaning companies are getting into commercial fire damage. How do you know whom to trust? Look for a firm with at least a few years of experience. Now is not the time to take chances on novices who can worsen damages.
Fire damage can leave your commercial property closed for business, costing you profits. Physical damage, meanwhile, exposes your business to the risks of weather and even vandals. Choose a company that can get started on your restoration immediately.
The fire damage restoration company you choose can make a huge difference in your fiscal and even emotional recovery from a commercial fire. Follow these tips to make the best choice.
What To Do if You Smell Natural Gas
You should never ignore the smell of natural gas in your home
Natural gas has many good uses. In Back Bay, MA, gas is used to heat homes and water, and it is arguably the best option for cooking meals in the kitchen. But as good as it is, natural gas is also inherently dangerous. There is always the risk of a gas fire, especially when cooking on a gas stove, and homeowners should educate themselves about using gas safely. Another risk of natural gas is a gas explosion. Home gas explosions do happen, but many times they are avoidable.
What To Do if You Smell Gas
If you smell gas in your home or hear the hissing sound of gas escaping, it's important to be cautious of what you do next.
First, don't turn on any lights in the home, as it could cause a gas explosion.
The most common mistake is when the burners on the stove are accidentally turned on, so check the stove.
Open the windows and doors to help the gas fumes escape.
If the issue wasn't the stove and you know how to turn the gas meter off, go ahead and do it. Otherwise, contact your gas company.
Get out of the house and stay out until the gas company can inspect the inside and outside of the home.
If There's a Gas Fire
If you experience a gas fire on your kitchen stove, evacuate the home immediately, as a fire can quickly get out of control. Call for emergency help. Once the fire has been extinguished, don't re-enter the home until the fire crew has told you it is safe to do so. Call your insurance company and don't attempt cleanup yourself. Trained restoration professionals should assess the damage first.
Gas fires are an especially dangerous type of home fire due to the risk of a gas explosion. You should never ignore the smell of natural gas in your home, and you should always know what to do if you do smell it.