Recent Posts

What Is a Flood Cut?

7/31/2020 (Permalink)

A bathroom with the bottom of the walls removed, exposing pipes and wall studs While scary looking, a flood cut is an important step in getting your room back to the way it was before the flood happened.

If you’ve recently experienced flooding in your home or office, you’ve probably been told that you need to have a "flood cut" to your walls. You may have been told that the technicians will need to cut the bottom four feet off of your drywall.

This might seem a little excessive when you first hear this news, so let's talk a little about this procedure and give you the background you need to understand why it's being suggested.

Flood water always carries contaminants into a room. Even when water looks clear, it will carry bacteria and chemicals from the ground inside and outside your building. While there are various techniques for cleaning floors and upholstery, the best way to ensure that your walls are clean is to remove the drywall completely.

Let us reassure you that a flood cut is standard procedure when a room has been flooded. It may seem extreme, but if done properly, this first step will make your reconstruction process more effective in the long run.

A flood cut is what happens when a restoration or cleanup team removes all the drywall and baseboards below the four foot mark. This is an industry standard height no matter how high your flooding was because it’s the standard size that drywall is sold in. You may occasionally have a lower cut recommended, but be aware that if you use this height, you’ll have to cut the drywall you purchase down to size.

The flood cut isn’t only standard, but also a very important first step in restoring a flooded room.

If you've experienced flooding in your home, contact SERVPRO of North Central Austin and let us give you a recommendation for restoration.

Preparing for a Flood

7/22/2020 (Permalink)

Bridge crossing a river next to a white building Prepare now for flooding this fall.

Right now, Austin is in the middle of summer. At this time of year, we’re usually more worried about fires than floods, but that’s exactly when we should prepare our homes and families for autumn rainy seasons.

Assess Your Flood Vulnerability

The most conclusive way to find out if your home or office is vulnerable to flooding is to check a flood map

If you’re having trouble interpreting the flood map or figuring out what your actual risk is, call on the experiences of your neighbors. Ask neighbors who’ve lived on your street for years whether they’ve seen high water nearby. Post a question on a community group asking about the worst storm that anyone in that area has experienced.

Finally, explore your neighborhood and take note of creek beds that could become low water crossings. The next time it rains, take a drive over to them and see how close the water gets to the road.

Make a Plan

Flooding can happen fast in many environments. You need to have an evacuation plan ready and an emergency bag packed before water begins to rise.

You should already be aware of which roads in your community are likely to flood first. Plan a route to higher ground that doesn’t use any potential low water crossings. Talk to friends or family members and arrange for a place to go during a storm if an evacuation is ordered. If you think you might need it, put aside an envelope of literal “rainy day” cash so that you’ll have the funds to use if you need to spend the night at a hotel.

Your evacuation bag should contain everything you’ll need for a couple nights away from home. For example

  • Medication
  • Sanitary items
  • Pet or baby equipment and supplies
  • A change of clothing
  • Emergency blanket
  • Maps of the area (don’t rely on your phone’s map. If power goes down, you’ll need a map even after your phone dies).
  • Paper copies of important documents, such as medical information, deed or lease to your home, and insurance information.

You should also have some supplies set aside in case you're stranded in place. 

  • Food and water for three days
  • A flashlight and extra batteries
  • A battery powered (or crank-powered) radio
  • First Aid supplies

Plan Ahead for Potential Home Repairs

Finally, take time to create a plan for repairing your home after a flood occurs. Talk to your insurance provider about the flood insurance you might need. Talk to others in your community who have been through home repairs and get names of contractors they’d recommend (or recommend you avoid). 

Educate yourself about flood damage. The more informed you are about what to expect, the less scary it will be to deal with the aftermath of a flood.

It’s always intimidating to plan for any natural disaster. It’s important to realize that even though you may never have experienced a flood, you’re not alone in the process.

While most homeowners may never have to deal with a flood, professionals in the restoration, insurance, and local and national governments have years of specialized experience with these disasters. You can benefit from their experience before the rain even begins to fall.

Celebrate Safely at Home

7/1/2020 (Permalink)

Red, white, and blue confetti How are you going to celebrate safely this weekend?

With many central Texas communities cancelling their July 4th fireworks displays, Austin families are looking for ways to recreate the excitement of these celebrations at home. The problem is that fireworks are a notoriously dangerous and destructive activity for nonprofessionals. Even the simplest fireworks require diligent supervision—25% of firework-related emergency room visits are from sparklers alone (National Safety Council).

So what do you do with your family when you want to have a colorful, but safe holiday? We reached out our neighbors to see what suggestions they had.

Looking for something to shoot into the air that is safe to do right in your back yard? Debbie suggested silly string, bubbles, or confetti. Don't forget to use recycled confetti if it's available. (Debbie Smith, The Kenzie at the Domain)

Laura suggested some interactive games you can play with the family. Replicate the popping of firecrackers with a bubble gum contest. You can give away a prize for the biggest bubble or loudest POP!

After the sun sets, hide glow sticks around the house or yard, turn off the lights and have a hunt to see who finds the most. (Laura Vivion, Bosworth & Associates)

Celebrate the spirit of fireworks by drawing on the sidewalk in colorful chalk. Everyone can draw a firework explosion, no matter what your age or skill level. Bonus points for getting to share your art with your neighbors (who are probably just as frustrated with the cancellations as you are). (April Laws, BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois)

Whatever your friends and family end up doing this weekend, we hope you have a safe and happy Independence Day!

Customer Loyalty in the New Normal

6/17/2020 (Permalink)

Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned sticker on a business window What changes are you making to keep customers loyal during a time of social distancing restrictions?

COVID-19 has been an unprecedented experience for most business owners. Almost no one expected at the beginning of the year that we would have to shut our doors and go virtual for three to four months. For some of us, this was an easier prospect than for others. 

Those who already had a strong online presence were hurt far less than those whose services require person-to-person interaction. As we try to recover, we must admit that the pandemic has not been beaten yet. Unlike in a movie, there was no press conference announcing a cure and no all-clear announcement. We have to adapt to a new normal.

Going forward, businesses will have to plan for the ebb and flow of the COVID-19 rates in our community the way we do for other natural disasters and events that are beyond our control.

Do you have a plan for reassuring customers that their safety is your top priority? How can you communicate this? When a customer walks through your door and is greeted by a cheerful, but mask-covered smile, it tells them that you care enough to put their safety over your comfort.

When you allow for social distancing either by providing online ordering options or by reducing the capacity of your building, it tells your customers that you put their safety over profits.

When you have a Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned sticker on your door, it shows your customers that you didn’t hire just any cleaning service, but that you cared enough to have a professional bioremediation consultation and the date that the cleaning was performed. 

These small steps can keep your customers loyal through whatever may come over the next several months as we deal with our new normal.

Laundry Room Safety

6/11/2020 (Permalink)

An under counter washer/dryer with laundry in a hamper Property dryer maintenance can make the difference between a helpful tool and a potential hazard.

When you’re thinking about household fire hazards, you probably think about your kitchen, fire place, or electrical system. But do you ever think about your laundry room? According to U.S. Fire Administration, home dryer fires cause $35 million in property loss.

The most common reason for these fires by far is dirty or congested dryer vents and ducts. To reduce the risk of these fires happening, hire a professional cleaning and restoration company like SERVPRO® to clean your ducts when you notice your clothes are taking longer than normal to dry.

Other safety tips for your dryer from the National Fire Protection Agency include 

  • Cleaning the lint filter before and after each load. Purchase a vent brush (it’s like a giant bottle brush) to use between professional cleanings.
  • Making sure the outdoor vent flap will open and is not blocked by a bird’s nest or other potential obstacles
  • Keep your laundry room tidy. Don’t leave laundry or old lint near the machine where they could be ignited by an overheating machine.
  • Never run the dryer while you’re sleeping or away from home. 

For more information on cleaning dryer vents contact SERVPRO® of North Central Austin at (512) 579-0189. We are always here to help!

Safer Outdoor Cooking

6/4/2020 (Permalink)

sausages cooked over a portable charcoal grill With proper safety precautions, cooking outdoors is one of the highlights of the summer season. (Photo credit: Kristy TG)

Summer is a great time to enjoy cooking outdoors with your family and friends, but that means it’s also time to remind ourselves of fire safety. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), non-gas grills were involved in 1,300 home fires per year. That’s why they’ve offered the following tips for using outdoor grills or fire pits.

Starting Fires

  • Always build a campfire downwind from the tent area. Clear vegetation and dig a pit before building your fire. 
  • Place an outdoor grill six feet from your home on level ground.
  • When using a charcoal grill, only use starter fluids designed for barbecue grills, never gasoline or other accelerants
  • Store liquid fire starter  away from your tent and campfire, and only use dry kindling to freshen a campfire.
  • Never add starter fluid to charcoal or kindling that is already on fire

Extinguishing Fires

  • Fully extinguish fires before leaving a campsite or going to bed. Start by dousing the fire with water, then gently spread the ashes out to cool. Only leave a fire site once the ashes are cool to the touch
  • Keep something on hand in case the fire spreads. A fire extinguisher is obviously the most effective tool, but a spray bottle of water or garden hose can work if you’re grilling in your yard. If you’re camping, a bucket of sand is a helpful tool to keep near a camp fire.
  • Never empty used coals directly into a trash can. Designate a metal container (with a lid) just for the purpose of disposing of coal.

For more information on fire safety, follow the NFPA on Facebook and Twitter.

SERVPRO of North Central Austin wishes you a safe and happy summer!

Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned—A defensive cleaning program

5/31/2020 (Permalink)

 Table tent signs describing the Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned program on top of a wooden table. Our defensive cleaning program gives your business a way forward by providing your employees and customers ongoing safety and assuredness.

Let us help you get back to business

As our communities re-open, we’re all moving back toward a new kind of normal. The expectations of visitors, customers, and employees who come into our establishments have evolved, and staying safe and well is a top concern. The global COVID-19 pandemic has changed what it means to be clean, and we’ve developed a program to help your business meet the new higher standard of clean that is now expected.

Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned is a defensive cleaning program we’re offering to businesses and commercial locations to address the current COVID-19 pandemic. This proactive viral pathogen cleaning program goes well beyond janitorial or carpet cleaning. By choosing Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned, you, your employees, your customers, and your community can rest assured that you’ve selected a higher cleaning standard—you are Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned.

Extensive training and specialized products

As the #1 choice in cleanup and restoration*, we stand on more than 50 years of experience and expertise to help your business become Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned. Beyond fire & water, SERVPRO professionals are trained and experienced in biohazard decontamination and chemical spills— always adhering to the cleaning and decontamination standards set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local authorities. 

From formulating and creating our proprietary cleaning products, like SERVPROXIDE, at our headquarters in Gallatin, TN, to taking the utmost care while disinfecting, we will ensure you and your business are set up to inspire consumer confidence as the economy continues to reopen.

3 C’s: Consult, Clean, and Certify

When the stakes are this high, you want a partner who has developed an industry leading, proprietary training program, cleaning solutions, and remediation processes over decades. We’ve cleaned up some of the most challenging biohazards imaginable. Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned reflects our unique experiences and capabilities. The program is grounded with our unique 3 C’s: Consult, Clean, and Certify.

  • Consult—Every business is different, which is why you’ll be assigned a Cleaning Protocol Consultant who understands your business and will create a cleaning program to meet your specific needs. This program will be developed based on your business type, size of space, amount of high frequency touchpoints, foot traffic and congestion points.
  • Clean—Based on your specific business needs, your location will undergo a thorough, deep clean, using exclusive cleaning products, according to protocols set forth by the CDC. Our employees have years of experience, and we will go beyond the scope of work that regular janitorial staff perform. Cleanup procedures generally include cleaning of porous and non-porous surfaces, disinfecting of non-porous surfaces, cleaning and disinfecting of equipment, tools, and/or supplies used for cleanup process, and disposal of hazardous materials. In the event of a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 event, we will be there cleaning within 24 hours to ensure you get back to business as quickly as possible. 
  • Certify—Once your business location has been Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned, you will gain access to proprietary signage, digital emblems, and other collateral that communicates that you’ve selected a higher standard of clean available to help protect your employees and customers. And because we add the day, month, and year to that proprietary stamp of clean, your guests will know that not only did you choose Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned, but that your location is being cleaned regularly at this standard.

Call today for a Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned consultation

We’re Here to Help —24 hours a day, seven days a week—until life is back to normal in the communities we all call home.

Call SERVPRO of North Central Austin today at  512-579-0189 for your Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned consultation.

* #1 Choice in cleanup & restoration based Commercial Attitude & Usage Tracking study. Polling 816 commercial business decision makers on first choice for future needs related to cleanup & restoration work. Study conducted by C&R Research: October 2019

Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned means professionally trained SERVPRO franchises perform the requested cleaning, sanitizing and disinfection services according to proprietary SERVPRO protocols and recognized industry and CDC standards with EPA approved cleaning products to deliver a SERVPRO certified cleaning experience. Each SERVPRO franchise is independently owned and operated.

Destroy Odors with Deodorization

4/21/2020 (Permalink)

skunk walking on grass Don't let odors interrupt your business. (Photo credit: Bryan Padron)

A Common Problem

We’ve all experienced it. You walk through the door and run right into a wall of odor. Sometimes, it’s when you’re returning to your building after a damaging event. Sometimes it’s when you’re moving into a facility with a pungent past. 

Don’t live with a smell that can turn away customers or guests. When SERVPRO® says that we make it “Like it never even happened,” that includes odors. 

Even a small fire or flood can leave odorous residues and deposits on surfaces and in hard-to-reach places that could cause odors for years to come.

A Science-Based Solution

A prompt, professional cleaning will remove these residues and prevent permanent odor. SERVPRO® technicians don’t cover up lingering odors with a fragrance; they seek out and remove the source of the odor. Once the source is found, SERVPRO’s own proprietary line of cleaning products is used to treat and prevent the odor from returning.

Any restorable item in the affected areas will also be professionally cleaned and deodorized, including furniture, draperies and upholstery, electronics, art, flooring, walls, ceilings, HVAC air ducts and more.

If your home or business has suffered a fire or some other accident, don’t live with the damage. Call SERVPRO of North Central Austin at (512) 579-0189 to find out what we can do for you. We’re here to help.

Why SERVPRO, Part 4: Chris & Jill

3/19/2020 (Permalink)

A family of five standing in front of mountains The von Schweinitzes in Colorado.

SERVPRO of North Central Austin was established in 2010 by Chris and Jill von Schweinitz. Our owners have proved to be authentic and caring leaders so we talked to them about their choice to work in the restoration industry with SERVPRO.

Why did you choose to open a SERVPRO franchise?

Chris: Jill and I had done tech startups before and we wanted to start something that was aligned with our faith by giving us the opportunity to help our customers and help our employees.

Jill: We’re service oriented and loved SERVPRO's culture of servant leadership and accountability. 

What sets SERVPRO apart from other organizations you’ve been part of?

Chris: There’s a camaraderie that’s unparalleled. I feel supported by the other franchise owners.

Jill: We really liked the other owners. I’ve never seen support like SERVPRO owners provide each other. And the support we received from headquarters was unheard of.

What skill or experience is most important to success in the restoration industry?

Jill: Customer service. You want the people who care about the customer’s home.

Chris: You also have to be competent to handle any situation. We run into some really weird situations, but one of the things that SERVPRO does better than any other organization is the training they provide.

Finally, what’s your favorite thing about Austin?

Jill: I love Austin’s cultural diversity. I grew up over seas so for me that’s a very big thing.

Chris: It’s one of the friendliest cities. The customers, partners, and subcontractors we work with are all great.

Why SERVPRO, Part 3: Compassion

3/19/2020 (Permalink)

golden dog laying on gray chair Your home is the place where you can be most comfortable. (photo credit: Amy Humphries)

It’s a very traumatic experience when someone has a flood, fire, or crime in their home. Our homes are a refuge. They're the places we’re most comfortable and our daily routines are built around our homes.

When a disaster (large or small) happens to your home, your stress can be compounded by the restoration process. Nobody looks forward to strangers coming through their home and messing with their things. At SERVPRO of North Central Austin, we understand this.

When someone calls on us for our services, we know we have the opportunity to help them physically, emotionally, and spiritually in their time of need.

When we start work on your project, we’ll spend time explaining what’s going on. We want you to know that it’s still your home and you're in control. As the experts, we’ll be here to advise you in your choices, but we never want you to feel like we’ve taken over.

We can reassure you that this, too, will pass. Let SERVPRO make your home “Like it never even happened,” and it will be your refuge once again.