Sold on Old? What to Watch for Living in/Buying an Older House
What's lurking behind your walls?
It’s been said that old structures are full of charm, rich history, and memories of what once was, but what else may still be lurking in the walls and halls? Not every part of a home will and should stand the test of time. It’s important to be aware of the structural and safety issues that come with an old house. Depending on what year your home was built, here’s what to look out for:
The EPA issued a final rule banning most asbestos-containing products this year, no new products containing asbestos are to be manufactured. Asbestos exposure can cause several different types of cancer,
so it’s crucial to know what to look for.
Cast-iron pipes were popular before 1980 for their durability and longevity. One of the reasons cast-iron pipes are no longer used is their susceptibility to corrosion and rust.
Lead paint in exterior and interior paint is likely to have been used if it was built before this year.
Before 1970: It’s likely your home doesn’t have any mitigation system in place since radon gas was not considered a serious threat until the 1970s. Unlike newly constructed homes, older homes don’t have the proper ventilation to direct radon gas out of living space.
Between 1960- mid-1970s:
Aluminum wiring on its own isn’t considered a hazardous material. When connected to a terminal made from copper or another metal a corrosive chemical reaction could occur, leading to an electrical fire.
Knob and tube wiring do not have a ground wire, making them incapable of servicing any three-pronged appliances. This type of wiring is far more likely to have unsafe modifications than modern wiring. The age alone of knob and tube wiring is the main reason it can be so unsafe.
Don’t let this information scare you! Most of these problems can be dealt with and resolved if handled properly. SERVPRO Team McCabe has the resources and skills to help you with these issues, so feel free to reach out!
Calling all Landlords- Three Hacks to Make Life Easier for You and Your Tenants
You hold the key to a good landlord-tenant relationship!
Whether you manage one property or one hundred, follow these simple steps to ensure smooth sailing in the roaring sea of real estate!
- Communicate with tenants- The most obvious and perhaps most overlooked step of them all: clear communication between landlord and tenant helps everyone stay on the same page, ergo eliminating room for gray areas and misunderstandings. While communicating directly with each individual tenant is necessary for some instances, don’t shy away from mass communication. Chances are if one tenant has a question, others are likely thinking the same thing! Facebook groups are a great place to share helpful tips and updates with current and potential tenants.
- Give emergency contact info- In the event of an emergency, it’s crucial for tenants to know who they should contact. Get specific, and provide the names of the preferred vendors for any emergency. It will help put you both at ease knowing there’s a game plan in place.
- Have a written rental agreement- A written document signed by both parties ensures accountability and protection. Written agreements may include anything from who to pay when something breaks, to timeline stipulations, snow removal requirements, and anything in between. Expectations should be made clear in this agreement to prevent confusion down the road.
To simplify these steps further, use SERVPRO Team McCabe’s ERP! Our emergency-ready program enables you to keep all of your vital property information in one place. Our ERPs clearly map out what to do in an emergency. To learn more about SERVPRO’s ERP program please contact marketingstaff@SERVPROupperbucks.com
Think Before you Toss: The Do’s and Don’ts of Disaster Cleanup
The easy way isn't always the best way!
While it’s understandable to want to cleanse your space of debris/ damage after a disaster you might want to think twice before tossing that soggy document or dumping that couch! You would think it’s in your best interest to quickly purge all things damaged but SERVPRO Team McCabe is here to say: resist the urge! Our team of highly trained professionals can help you restore the right and safe way.
DON'T Frantically toss important documents
DO Check to see if you have digital copies, take photos, and then if you do want to dispose of the documents shred them so no one can access any personal information
DON'T Try to restore severely damaged items on your own
DO Leave it to the professionals, as direct contact with certain types of damage such as mold and sewage can cause severe health issues
DO Remain calm, take it one step at a time
DON'T Stay if the condition of the house is negatively affecting you and or making you unwell
DO Prioritize your health and, if necessary, seek medical attention from your healthcare provider
DON'T Wait to call your insurance company and or SERVPRO because “it might get better on its own”
DO Make your calls ASAP, the sooner you make the call the sooner you can get help
DON'T Start clean up and repairs before notifying insurance
DO Allow insurer to inspect the property before any repairs take place
DON'T Have the “what I can’t see can’t hurt me” mentality
DO Bring in professionals whose expertise allows them (us!) to notice areas of damage you may not have been aware of, especially when it comes to water and mold damage.
Real Talk: What Determines the Cost of a Restoration Job?
You're in good hands with SERVPRO Team McCabe!
Time is money when it comes to restoration services. The sooner you call SERVPRO the sooner we can assess the situation and prevent the occurrence of further damage. Whether you’re dealing with fire, mold, water, or any damage in between, we can help!
Along with a variety of factors, severity of damage determines the pricing. If you are an insured homeowner, talk with your insurance about your specific coverage to be sure that in an emergency they will cover most if not all of your restoration costs.
Insurance coverage, in times of disaster, is a real concern for homeowners. The last thing you need after a disaster is more uncertainty. Insurance agencies need evidence, depreciation of items, and estimates; all of which SERVPRO Team McCabe can assist with! We can advocate for you during the claims process to help you recover your property with as much of your insurance money as possible.
Conditioned upon what insurance plan you have, certain kinds of damage may or may not be covered. For instance, it’s common for damage from pipe bursts and sink overflows to be covered but less common for damage from groundwater to successfully receive a claim.
SERVPRO Team McCabe can help you decide if you should move forward with submitting an insurance claim on the damaged property. While many claims are resolved within two to six weeks, It can sometimes take longer. To ensure a smooth and quick restoration process it’s a good idea to call SERVPRO right away so we can start helping you as soon as possible.
After customers decide upon a payment method, it’s time to repair and rebuild. Depending on the type of damage to items and the property, SERVPRO Team McCabe can either repair on-site or take items back to our shop. Our team will keep records of each item for the insurance company and for your sake, in case you need them in the future.
SERVPRO Team McCabe is here to support you throughout the entire restoration process.
How businesses can ensure a quick recovery after disaster strikes
We all hope that disaster never strikes, but if it does, it’s a good idea to have a plan in place so that life can get back to normal as quickly as possible.
Time is money. SERVPRO Team McCabe can help you and your business not only recover but recover quickly. Our services can be the key to getting your business back on track in a timely manner. Staying afloat after an emergency isn’t easy, but here are a few simple steps you can take to prepare for a smooth recovery after a loss:
- Carefully review insurance policies; see what your business’s damage coverage is, find out if you have flood insurance, and decide if it’s necessary to invest in additional coverage
- Secure important records and priority documents in a waterproof container and/or store copies at a safe off-site location.
- Create a communication plan to easily stay in touch with customers, suppliers, and employees
- If it is safe to do so, document any visible damage to the facility for future reference
By planning ahead, businesses can protect against and minimize the effects of an emergency. SERVPRO Team McCabe provides fire, water, storm, and mold damage relief services. In the event of an emergency, SERVPRO Team McCabe is just a phone call away. Our team is ready to make any disaster look "Like it never even happened." No matter the day or time, we have the trained professionals, materials, and equipment to respond to any size restoration emergency.
Still not sure where to begin? Consider downloading our SERVPRO Ready Plan app https://ready.SERVPRO.com/ to keep all your emergency information and plans in one spot, and feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns!
Preparing Your Home for Winter
In the event of any winter damage to your home this winter, do not hesitate to give us a call, we are here to help.
Whether this is your first winter in your new home or your fifteenth, there are some measures you should take to prepare your house for the next few months. While your personal plan may be to turn on the heat and hibernate through the winter, the snow, ice, and rain can still cause your home some serious issues inside and out.
The outside of the house is the number one hassle we think of in the winter, there is shoveling, plowing, and clearing off the cars. Unfortunately, snow can accumulate and cause a lot of direct damage to the house. Snow buildup can cause strain on the roof and should be removed as soon as it is safe. Ice can also accumulate on your gutters causing ice dams that are not only dangerous to your home but can also cause injury if it falls or is removed unsafely. Your gutters should be cleaned by removing leaves and other debris before the first storm of the season and if you do see ice building up you can clear them using a de-icing agent or a heated gutter cable to remove them without causing injury. Frequent temperature changes can also put cracks in your chimney which should be monitored throughout the winter so that repairs can be made as soon as the weather improves. Another outdoor situation to monitor is the surrounding trees; as snow and ice gather no tree limbs they can become weighed down and snap causing damage to the home or other surrounding structures. Trees should be pruned in the fall and cleared as needed during the winter to prevent any potential damage.
The cold can cause cracks in the caulk within the house causing drafts and affecting your heating bill. The wet conditions can also cause rotting along your door frames. This can lead to termites in the spring and even extensive damage that might result in you needing a new door frame. Be sure to check for any wood rot along the bottom of the door frame and fill in any damage with epoxy wood filler as needed. Frozen pipes are arguably the most prevalent issue with a few things that can be done to help prevent them. If you are looking for more specific prevention ideas for frozen pipes see our most recent blog here: https://loom.ly/uT2gKoA
The basement can also be a problem area and not just with your sump pump, though that is definitely a common element in basement focused water losses. When the heavy snow begins to melt it can seep into the basement or even cause the foundation to crack. With any signs of water in the basement be sure to check if your sump pump is working properly, and that the extension hose is draining. If the temps are below freezing remove the extension hose before a freeze causes a backup into your home. Ensure you have the proper yard drainage and repair any foundation cracks as needed throughout the winter.
These are just a few areas to keep an eye on as the temperatures drop and we close out the year. Hopefully, these tips will help prevent some water losses however they may not be completely foolproof. If you do notice any damage to your property this winter do not hesitate to give us a call, we are here to help.
Frozen Pipe Prevention
Frozen pipes are something that every homeowner worries about as the winter season approaches. Each year SERVPRO Team McCabe provides water damage restoration services to many homeowners who experience this issue. There are several steps that can be taken to help prevent pipes from freezing and bursting in your home.
Many people try to lower their heating bill while on vacation by turning the heat off while they are away. If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, and set it to a temperature no lower than 55° F. Your heating bill will still be lower than average, but it will also save you major cleanup costs after a pipe bursts in your home.
With the heat above 55 you can also keep the open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. The heat from your home will make it nearly impossible for them to freeze. This doesn't mean you have to keep your cabinets open all winter, you can do so if you're on vacation, or even a few hours a day while home can help.
You may also want to Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a pipe sleeve or installing UL-listed heat tape on exposed water pipes you can get from a local hardware store. Even a small amount of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that drop below freezing for a short period of time. It is also important to make sure that hose bibbs are turned off from the inside and opened on the outside to prevent damage to pipes.
When the weather is very cold outside, you can let the cold water drip from the faucet connected to the exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe even at a trickle helps prevent pipes from freezing. The constant movement of water prevents the pipes from freezing. This is something that should be done especially if you are out of your home for a few days and expect the weather to drop below freezing.
Keeping some of these tricks in mind can help prevent a major mess in your home during the winter season. Unfortunately, following these tactics does not guarantee you will not have an issue with your pipes. When disaster strikes, call SERVPRO Team McCabe.
Preparing Your Home for a Hurricane
We are currently nearing the end of another hurricane season. It is a very scary stressful time for people who live in high risk areas.
There are several safety tips to keep in mind in order to reduce the damage done to your home. Taking simple steps can potentially save you a lot of damage and money after the storm. Not to mention they will help keep you safe.
According to the CDC, the first step you should take is to clear your yard. Make sure there’s nothing that could blow around during the storm and cause additional damage to your property or others. Move bikes, lawn furniture, grills, propane tanks, and building material inside or under shelter. It is also a good idea to move your car into your garage if you have one. It clears the driveway for emergency crews if needed, making rescue efforts more quick. Doing so may also reduce any potential damage to your car.
Another tip to keep in mind is to cover up your windows and doors. Use storm shutters or nail pieces of plywood to the outside window frames to protect your windows. This can help keep you safe from pieces of shattered glass. This is extremely important if you are going to be stuck in your home during the storm. Getting medical attention during a hurricane is nearly impossible. Taking the extra step of covering up windows and doors can prevent serious injury.
The CDC also recommends that you turn your power off during a hurricane. If you see flooding, downed power lines, or you have to leave your home, switch your power off. This helps reduce the risk of having a power surge inside your home. It also makes the restoration process easier after the fact for the electric companies. Not to mention it reduces the risk of fires or electrical shock from downed power lines. Be sure to have properly charged flashlights for safety in the dark. Yet another suggestion is to fill water containers with potable water ahead of time. Taking these proactive steps in your home can help you recover much faster from a hurricane. It makes your home safer for you and your family and will lead to less damage from the storm.
Finally, be sure to have an emergency kit that contains items such as: hand cranked radios for communication and cell phone charging, a supply of batteries for other useful devices such as flashlights and a properly supplied medical kit.
The CDC has many more tips to help you weather the storm. Please visit CDC.gov for more information.
Halloween Decoration Safety
Halloween season is rapidly approaching. Many people have already started decorating for Halloween. Dried flowers, crepe paper, cornstalks, and decorative scarecrows may make your home look festive for fall, but these classic decorations can also pose a scary fire risk. As fun as it is to decorate your home it is important to keep in mind some safety tips to avoid a fire from starting in your home. The National Fire Protection Association says flammable decorations are the first things to ignite in 900 reported home fires each year; two of every five of these incidents start by a candle.
One of the most important things to consider is to keep your decorations away from open flames, lightbulbs, and heaters. This may seem simple but many people forget the risks of doing this and decorate in unsafe places. One of the most common is next to or above fireplaces. It is so easy for a stray ash to end up catching a decoration on fire. Even hanging your decorations near a lightbulb can be dangerous.
Another way to prevent fire is to check the quality of each item before you plug them in. Examining each set of lights for broken sockets, frayed wires or loose connections, and discard any damaged sets is the first step to take. Many people often try at home fixes such as tape on frayed wires. Any decoration with a frayed wire should be discarded or have a new wire installed if possible. Be careful not to overload sockets when plugging in lights and other electronic decorations. It is such an easy thing to avoid by unplugging objects that you are not using at any given time.
A big safety tip to keep in mind is to not use open flames such as candles inside your decorations. Consider glow sticks or battery-operated candles instead of real candles when lighting your jack-o’-lanterns or other luminaries. If you do choose to use real candles it is important to light it with a utility lighter. That way you can light it right over the wick and do not have a risk of hitting the side of the decoration with the flame. You also need to be mindful of where you are putting your decorations that have candles in them. Keep lit decorations off of doorsteps, yards, and sidewalks where excited trick-or-treaters may knock them over. Moving them off of your front door step or front walkway is an easy way to avoid injury.
The last thing to keep in mind is to make sure you do not have any decorations blocking any exits out of your home. If there is an emergency it is important to keep a clear path out. Halloween is a fun time of the year and it is important to have fun while decorating your home. Just make sure you follow these tips to help keep your home safe.
Fall Fire Safety
At the end of summer most people are worried about getting ready for the back to school season. What people don't think about is that this is a great time to get your home ready for the cooler months. During the winter months there are a lot of fire hazards in your home. According to the American Red Cross, there is a drastic increase in the amount of U.S house fires during this time. There are several strategies to take during the early part of the fall season to help prevent fires.
The most important thing to do is replace your smoke alarms batteries throughout the house. This is something that is very easy, yet most people forget to do it. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the risk of dying in a structure fire is 55% lower in a home with working smoke alarms. While changing the batteries, it is also a good idea to make sure your family knows where your fire extinguishers are. Having fire extinguishers in the house that still work is extremely important. Especially as you enter the cooler months where you heat up your house on a daily basis.
Another thing to keep in mind, especially with kids in the house is to create a fire evacuation plan. Having a plan and knowing of all the possible exits and escape routes is very beneficial ahead of time. According to the NFPA, creating a place to meet outside at a neighbor's house is an essential part of the plan. They recommend that you try out your plan at least two times per year. The more steps you take ahead of time the better as you will be prepared to act in the event of an emergency. Spending time with your family and creating a plan will pay off in the event of an emergency. SERVPRO Team McCabe offers an ERP plan which will help you plan ahead in the event of an emergency.
Getting your heating system serviced each year is also an essential fire safety step. This is especially important after the summer season. There is always extra debris left behind in the vents from all the hard work your unit does cooling the house over the summer. The most important step is replacing your furnace filter on a consistent basis. It is recommended to change it every three months. It is also important to reach out to a professional when your heating system is having issues. You should also be getting your unit serviced at least one time per year for general maintenance, according to the National Fire Protection Association. SERVPRO Team McCabe can help with this, we offer duct cleaning for commercial or residential properties.
Fireplace safety is another extremely important topic during this time of the year. When using a fireplace indoors you should always have the screen or glass door closed. It is also important to keep in mind not to store extra wood right next to the door of the fireplace. It is an easy way to spark a fire outside of the fireplace. One rule that many people often forget is leaving a fire unattended. Many people fall asleep or get distracted and leave the room while they have a fire going. This is one of the biggest causes of household fires due to fireplaces. Keeping these safety points in mind will help transition your house from the summer into the fall season in a safe way.