How to Winterize Your Commercial Property to Prevent Freezing Water Pipes
Freezing temperatures can create all types of hazards and often cause major damage to properties when proper preparations are not taken. The mess and cost to clean up a water line or pipe that freezes is not something that anyone wants to deal with and is avoidable if certain steps are taken prior to the arrival of winter weather conditions.
Freezing temperatures can also cause vital safety systems, such as fire protection systems to malfunction. Worst case scenario, sprinkler pipes can burst resulting in major damage to buildings, furnishing, computer and electrical equipment.
The saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure comes to mind when dealing with the results of frozen water lines. Take these 5 steps listed below to prevent freezing water pipes from bursting and to keep your building and its occupants safe this winter.
5 Steps to Preventing Burst Pipes:
1. Insulate all water pipes that run along the exterior of the building or those that are located in unheated interior spaces.
2. Inspect water pipes on a regular basis, looking for any signs of small leaks or fatigue that could cause them to fail in a big way when the freezing temperatures arrive.
3. Run water at a slow drip to relieve the pressure that can burst a pipe in the case that it does freeze.
4. Check all shutoff valves and levers to make sure they are in pristine working order.
5. Keep utilities on in vacant units- if you have vacant units, the cost of maintaining utilities in that unit will offset the cost of loss that could result from the lack of heat or water movement which causes frozen pipes and subsequent water damage.
While these 5 preventative measures can help to avoid a catastrophic pipe burst, being prepared should the pipes burst is paramount to minimizing the damage. First turn off the main water supply. If this is not possible, contact a plumber and explain that it is an emergency.
Should you notice water seeping from the ceiling and/or walls, shut down the power supply at the meter box and call an electrician immediately. Make every effort to protect documents, electronics and computers. Open doors and windows in the water damaged area to allow for drying and contact an emergency clean up service immediately. The sooner you have a professional disaster clean up team on site, the quicker and less expensive the cost to repair and prevent hazardous mold growth.
SERVPRO of Woodridge/Bolingbrook is that professional disaster clean up team. If you find yourself in this situation- please call us at:
We are here 24 x 7 365 days a year!
Snow Storms and Extreme Cold
A winter storm occurs when there is significant precipitation and the temperature is low enough that precipitation forms as sleet or snow, or when rain turns to ice. A winter storm can range from freezing rain and ice, to moderate snowfall over a few hours, to a blizzard that lasts for several days. Many winter storms are accompanied by dangerously low temperatures.
Winter storms can cause power outages that last for days. They can make roads and walkways extremely dangerous or impassable and close or limit critical community services such as public transportation, child care, health programs and schools. Injuries and deaths may occur from exposure, dangerous road conditions, and carbon monoxide poisoning and other conditions.
Before Snowstorms and Extreme Cold
- Make a Family Communications Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
- Make an emergency kit for at least three days of self-sufficiency.
- Keep space heater safety in mind: Use electric space heaters with automatic shut-off switches and non-glowing elements. Remember to keep all heat sources at least three feet away from furniture and drapes.
- Prepare your home:
- Make sure your home is well insulated and that you have weather stripping around your doors and window sills to keep the warm air inside.
- Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector.
- Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
- Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
- Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
- Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow - or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.
- If you have a wood burning fireplace, consider storing wood to keep you warm if winter weather knocks out your heat. Also, make sure you have your chimney cleaned and inspected every year.
- Have at least one of the following heat sources in case the power goes out:
- Extra blankets, sleeping bags and warm winter coats
- Fireplace or wood-burning stove with plenty of dry firewood, or a gas log fireplace
- Prepare your vehicle:
- Fully winterize your vehicle: Have a mechanic check antifreeze, brakes, heater and defroster, tires, and windshield wipers to ensure they are in good shape. Keep your gas tank at least half full.
- Keep an extra emergency kit specifically created for your car. In addition to the basic essentials, consider adding a portable cell phone charger, ice scraper, extra blanket, sand for traction and jumper cables.
- Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency for a complete list of recommended products.
- Sand to improve traction.
- Make sure you have a cell phone with an emergency charging option (car, solar, hand crank, etc.) in case of a power failure.
- People who depend on electricity to operate medical equipment should have alternate arrangements in place in case power is out for an extended period of time.
- Plan to check on elderly/disabled relatives and neighbors.
- Plan to bring pets inside.
- Know where the manual release lever of your electric garage door opener is located and how to operate it in case you lose power.
- Fill a gallon container with water and place them in the freezer to help keep food cold.
- A NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts alerts and warnings directly from the NWS for all hazards. You may also sign up in advance to receive notifications from your local emergency services.
During Snowstorms and Extreme Cold
- Stay indoors during the storm.
- Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive: travel in the day; don’t travel alone; keep others informed of your schedule and your route; stay on main roads and avoid back road shortcuts.
- Walk carefully on snowy, icy, walkways.
- Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of death in the winter. Use caution, take breaks, push the snow instead of lifting it when possible, and lift lighter loads.
- Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.
- If you must go outside, wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
- Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves.
- Wear a hat and cover your mouth with a scarf to reduce heat loss.
After Snow Storms and Extreme Cold
If your home loses power or heat for more than a few hours or if you do not have adequate supplies to stay warm in your home overnight, you may want to go to a designated public shelter if you can get there safely. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (e.g., SHELTER20472)
Bring any personal items that you would need to spend the night (such as toiletries, medicines). Take precautions when traveling to the shelter. Dress warmly in layers, wear boots, mittens, and a hat.
- Continue to protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.
Winter Weather Watches and Warnings
- Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify an extreme winter weather alerts:
Freezing Rain - Rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees and power lines.
Sleet - Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.
Wind Chill- Windchill is the temperature it “feels like” when you are outside. The NWS provides a Windchill Chart to show the difference between air temperature and the perceived temperature and the amount of time until frostbite occurs. For more information, visit: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/winter/windchill.shtml.
Winter Weather Advisory - Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. When caution is used, these situations should not be life threatening. The NWS issues a winter weather advisory when conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences that may be hazardous. If caution is used, these situations should not be life-threatening.
Winter Storm Watch - A winter storm is possible in your area. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for more information. The NWS issues a winter storm watch when severe winter conditions, such as heavy snow and/or ice, may affect your area but the location and timing are still uncertain. A winter storm watch is issued 12 to 36 hours in advance of a potential severe storm. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, local radio, TV, or other news sources for more information. Monitor alerts, check your emergency supplies, and gather any items you may need if you lose power.
Winter Storm Warning - A winter storm is occurring or will soon occur in your area.
Blizzard Warning - Sustained winds or frequent gusts to 35 miles per hour or greater and considerable amounts of falling or blowing snow (reducing visibility to less than a quarter mile) are expected to prevail for a period of three hours or longer.
Frost/Freeze Warning - Below freezing temperatures are expected.
Preventing Mold and Mildew in Your Shower
Mold and mildew is a common nuisance in many home showers and bathrooms. Here are some tips and tricks for preventing mold…
Mold and mildew can’t grow where it’s dry, so the best way to keep them at bay is to reduce dampness in your bathroom.
- Crack open a window and start your ceiling fan when you turn on the shower so excess moisture moves out of the room, rather than condenses on the walls and tile. Keep the fan running and the window cracked open at least 15 minutes after you turn the shower off to let as much moist air escape as possible.
- Wipe down the shower and tub as soon as you’re finished. Keep a small squeegee in the shower so it’s convenient; you can get a squeegee very cheaply at a hardware store, home goods retailer, or online. Or use a hand towel or washcloth to do the job. A cloth is particularly good at getting to the tile grout and in the corners where mold has a tendency to start.
- Use a shower curtain you can actually launder in the washing machine. That means, skip the vinyl or plastic in favor of cotton, hemp, or nylon. Wash it in hot water, run it through your machine’s spin cycle to remove excess water, then hang it up to dry in the shower.
- If you have a non-slip mat in your shower, you will need to pull it up and wash it down regularly. I’ve gotten rid of my shower mat because it was too much trouble to keep it clean. If you want yours, you’ll have to wash it frequently.
- Keep your shower clean. Wash it down regularly with a good non-toxic cleanser, like baking soda and a plant-based liquid soap, or something like Bon Ami, which is essentially pulverized rock. Use a mop and a stepladder to reach the ceiling above the shower if needed. Dry it with a rag or towel when you finish washing it.
- Fix leaky faucets and showerheads. Stop the drips to limit mold and mildew around drains.
- Remember this true adage: An ounce of preventing mold is worth a pound of cure. The more you do to prevent mold and mildew from building up, the better off you’ll be.
As soon as you notice mold or mildew, attack!
- If you have more than an initial build-up, wear a surgical mask so you don’t inhale any of the spores, and use gloves to keep it off your hands.
- Make a spray of water and vinegar, tea tree oil or hydrogen peroxide, using between one or two teaspoons of the product for every cup of water you add to the spray bottle (experiment a bit to see what
works in your situation). If using vinegar or hydrogen peroxide, spray the potion directly on the spotty areas, leave them alone for 10 or 15 minutes, and then rinse. If using tea tree oil, which is more expensive but is supposed to be more effective, spray the cleanser on the tile or shower stall and leave it over night. Run the fan and open the window to keep air circulating and to counter the strong smell from the vinegar or tea tree oil. Wipe the treated area dry with a rag you don’t mind throwing away. Reapply as soon as you see the mold reappear.
- If the grout in your shower can’t be thoroughly cleaned out, you may need to replace the grout. If this is too much to do on your own, you can easily find a professional service to replace the grout for you.
Preventing mold and mildew in your shower doesn’t mean you can be less vigilant. Inspect the shower and shower curtain once a week to make sure you’re staying mold and mildew-free. Wash the shower curtain regularly to keep it fresh. Wipe down the tile or shower stall each time you finish using it, and don’t forget to keep the window open and the fan going to reduce moisture build-up.
4 Furnace Safety Tips for Winter
As the cold winter months approach us, most of us turn to our furnace to keep our homes cozy and warm. Although furnaces are a great way to heat our homes, there are some precautions that we should take to safely operate our furnaces and avoid problems in the long run.
Start the year off right with the following furnace safety tips:
1. CHANGE YOUR AIR FILTER
It is important to change your furnace filter regularly. A clean air filter will help your furnace burn more efficiently and will help keep dust from being circulated through your home. A dirty filter can cause a number of efficiency, performance and safety issues, as well as result in furnace failure. Change or clean your air filter every 1-3 months during the winter when the furnace is being used the most.
2. ANNUAL FURNACE CHECK-UP
Have your furnace cleaned and checked every year by a professional. An annual furnace check-up is essential to make sure that the system is working well and operating efficiently. During the inspection, your furnace will be checked for problems such as carbon monoxide leaks or frayed electrical wires that could lead to safety hazards in your home.
3. TEST YOUR CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS
If your furnace isn’t functioning properly, one of the biggest threats that it can impose to your home is a carbon monoxide leak. Carbon monoxide is a type of gas that is colorless and odorless, so there is no way to detect high levels of it on your own. A carbon monoxide leak can cause us to have flu-like symptoms, disorientation, confusion and even death. It is imperative to check that all of your home’s carbon monoxide detectors are working properly.
4. KEEP THE AREA AROUND YOUR FURNACE CLEAR
In order to minimize the chance of a fire, it would be smart to keep the area around your furnace clear. Flammable products such as papers, sawdust, old rags and wood scraps should be kept a safe distance away from the furnace. Liquids such as gasoline and kerosene should be stored in tightly sealed containers, since vapors from flammable liquids easily ignite.
Mold Lesson from the IICRC
Mold becomes a problem inside a home or business when there's excessive humidity or moisture for an extended period of time. The problem can originate from sudden water releases, like a burst pipe or large spill that goes untreated, or from a chronic condition, such as a leaking roof or plumbing. Even high humidity or warm, moist air condensing on cool surfaces can trigger mold problems. It's always best to have the mold evaluated and removed by a certified professional.
Mold can grow almost anywhere in a home or business if conditions permit. If there is visible growth on painted wall surfaces, property owners should be concerned about what may be growing on the wall's opposite side. The environment inside the walls of a house often differs drastically from the outside and could create a perfect haven for mold. If the wall remains wet for a prolonged period, it's almost guaranteed that the mold growth on the back side will be worse than on the front. At that point, containing the work space and removing moldy materials, followed by cleaning of salvageable framing, are the best options.
Certified professionals have the training and experience to:
- Identify moisture sources
- Evaluate mold growth (visible or suspected)
- Contain damage to the smallest area possible
- Physically remove contamination
- Dry materials to ensure that mold will not return
- Perform or recommend procedures for returning property to a preloss condition
Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification.
Ice Dams- Take Action Before Snow Starts Falling
Taking precautions to prevent ice dams is an important part of preparing your home for winter weather. Knowing what an ice dam is, minimizing the conditions that allow one to form and removing an ice dam as soon as you spot one can help prevent serious damage to both the roof and the inside of your home.
Take Action Before Snow Starts Falling
An ice dam may develop during the cold winter months if warm air from your home or attic melts snow on your roof. In freezing temperatures, the melted snow may refreeze once it reaches the colder edge of the roof. Keeping the temperature of your attic at 32°F or below can help prevent snow from melting and ice dams from developing. The following are some steps you can take to help prevent the snow melting-and-freezing cycle that often causes ice dams:
Tips to Help Prevent Ice Dams Through the Winter
Ice dams can sometimes form despite your best efforts to keep your roof at the proper temperature. Be sure to monitor the weather and maintain your roof throughout the colder, winter months for additional protection against ice dams, such as:
- Clear gutters and downspouts. Prevent water from accumulating and possibly freezing in your gutters by cleaning leaves, debris and snow accumulation from in and around gutters and downspouts. Making sure that your gutters are properly pitched can also help prevent the collection of water in low spots and help reduce the potential for ice buildup in gutters.
- Remove snow accumulation from your roof after every storm. Whenever possible, use a roof rake to clear snow about three to four feet from the edge of your roof soon after each storm. Snow accumulation along the edge of your roof increases the likelihood of an ice dam developing, which prevents water from draining off the roof. This water can then back up underneath roof shingles and make its way into your home.
- Remove ice dams as soon as you spot them. Check your roof often and know how to help identify and remove an ice dam.
CAUTION: Avoid using a ladder in snowy and icy conditions. This can be extremely dangerous and is best left to the professionals.
Wishing You a Safe and Happy Holiday Season
Please keep these Christmas Tree Fire Safety Tips in mind during this holiday season!
1. Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
2. Place your tree it at least three feet away from any heat source including your fire place, heaters and candles (or anything that can dry out the tree and make it more flammable).
3. Always keep your tree stand filled with water.
4. When decorating your tree replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of LED strands to connect.
5. Make sure your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are operating properly.
6. Try not to leave your tree up for more than two weeks.
7. Never leave Christmas tree lights on if the tree is unattended. Unplug them when you go to bed or leave the home.
8. When purchasing an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled as fire-retardant.
Have a safe and joyful holiday season!!
Don't Let Pipes Freeze and Steps to Take If They Do
Keep Your Pipes From Freezing
What's worse than a major home maintenance disaster? Try several major home maintenance disasters at once. When a house's water pipes freeze, the situation is not as simple as calling a plumber. A 1/8-inch crack in a pipe can spew up to 250 gallons of water a day, causing flooding, serious structural damage, and the immediate potential for mold.
Frozen water pipes are a problem in both cold and warmer climates, affecting a quarter-million families each winter, and it can happen in homes with both plastic and copper pipes. It's all too common, especially considering this damage is largely preventable.
In addition to taking the usual preventive precautions, here are a few steps you can take to keep your pipes from turning frigid nights into inconvenient, and expensive ordeals.
Before Winter Arrives
The three central causes of frozen pipes are quick drops in temperature, poor insulation, and thermostats set too low. You can prepare your home during the warmer months.
- Insulate pipes in your home's crawl spaces and attic, even if you live in a climate where freezing is uncommon. Exposed pipes are most susceptible to freezing. Remember, the more insulation you use, the better protected your pipes will be.
- Heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cables can be used to wrap pipes. Be sure to use products approved by an independent testing organization and only for the use intended (exterior or interior). Closely follow all manufacturers' installation and operation instructions.
- Seal leaks that allow cold air inside near where pipes are located. Look for air leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents, and pipes, and use caulk or insulation to keep the cold out. With severe cold, even a tiny opening can let in enough cold air to cause a pipe to freeze.
- Before winter hits, disconnect garden hoses and, if possible, use an indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. This reduces the chance of freezing in the short span of pipe just inside the house.
When the Mercury Plummets
Even if you've taken the right preventative steps, extreme weather conditions can still harm your pipes. Here are a few more steps you can take:
- A trickle of hot and cold water might be all it takes to keep your pipes from freezing. Let warm water drip overnight, preferably from a faucet on an outside wall.
- Keep your thermostat set at the same temperature during both day and night. You might be in the habit of turning down the heat when you're asleep, but further drops in the temperature—more common overnight—could catch you off guard and freeze your pipes.
- Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to un-insulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.
Before You Skip Town
Travelling in the winter months might be good for the soul, but don't forget to think about your pipes before you leave. What can you do?
- Set the thermostat in your house no lower than 55°F (12°C).
- Ask a friend or neighbor to check your house daily to make sure it's warm enough to prevent freezing.
- Shut off and drain the water system. Be aware that if you have a fire protection sprinkler system in your house, it may be deactivated when you shut off the water.
If Your Pipes Do Freeze
What if your pipes still freeze, despite your best preventive measures? First step: Don't panic. Just because they're frozen doesn't mean they've already burst. Here's what you can do:
- If you turn on your faucets and nothing comes out, leave the faucets turned on and call a plumber.
- Do not use electrical appliances in areas of standing water. You could be electrocuted.
- Never try to thaw a pipe with a torch or other open flame because it could cause a fire hazard. Water damage is preferable to burning down your house!
- You may be able to thaw a frozen pipe using a hair dryer. Start by warming the pipe as close to the faucet as possible, working toward the coldest section of pipe.
- If your water pipes have already burst, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve in the house; leave the water faucets turned on. Make sure everyone in your family knows where the water shutoff valve is and how to open and close it.
Office Carpet Cleaning Should Be Done By Professionals
Regular office carpet cleaning is necessary for maintaining a professional, healthy atmosphere. No one likes to work in filth, and over time, the flooring will pick up a great deal of soil and debris. If it is not regularly removed, the flooring will deteriorate at an accelerated rate, harbor odors, and look unattractive and dirty. Fortunately, certified professionals can keep the flooring nearly soil free as long as they are brought in for a thorough treatment on a regular basis.
Commercial buildings withstand a great deal of foot traffic every day, and with the foot traffic comes soil, moisture, and other debris. With entry mats near the entrances and daily vacuuming, most of this soil can be kept from penetrating into the fibers. However, it isn’t a perfect solution, and deep office carpet cleaning will be needed before long.
There are several treatment methods available for commercial buildings, but most textile manufacturers agree that hot water extraction is the most effective method. During hot water extraction, a combination of superheated water and detergent is injected deep into the carpeting and vacuumed up once it has a chance to suspend any soil.
Need Carpet Cleaning?
Call SERVPRO of Woodridge/Bolingbrook Today – (630) 771-1720
We also offer a range of specialized cleaning methods:
- Bonnet Cleaning: A less aggressive method for short piled carpets.
- Hot Water Extraction: A deeper cleaning method for all carpet types.
- Deluxe Precondition and Rinse: Helps restore deeply soiled areas.
- Showcase Premier Cleaning: The most thorough cleaning method in the industry.
- Dry Cleaning: When color-fastness is an issue.