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11/18/2019 (Permalink)

Flames coming from cooking pan on a stove. Our SERVPRO of Arlington Heights/Prospect Heights professionals wishes you a safe and happy Thanksgiving and holiday season.

Each November, families gather to celebrate Thanksgiving by preparing a delicious feast,

but if you don’t practice safe cooking habits, your happy holiday could quickly become hazardous in a blink of an eye. According to the NFPA, cooking is the main cause of home fires and injuries, with the Thanksgiving holiday being the peak day for cooking-related fire emergencies. Review the following safety tips to help ensure you can enjoy a safe holiday.

*Never leave cooking food unattended—stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling, or broiling food. If someone must leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, they should turn off the stove.

*Check food regularly while cooking and remain in the home while kitchen equipment is in use. Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.

*Keep small children away from the cooking area. Enforce a “kid-free zone” and make them stay at least three feet away from the stove and oven.

*Keep anything flammable like potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels away from the stove, oven, or other appliances in the kitchen that generates heat.

*Do not wear loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking.

*Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease build-up.

*Purchase a fire extinguisher

to keep in the kitchen year-round. Contact the local fire department for training on the proper use of fire extinguishers if you are unsure.

*Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all kitchen appliances like stoves, ovens, and toasters are turned off.

*Install a smoke alarm near the kitchen, on each level of the home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside of bedrooms. Use the test button to check it is working properly every month. Replace the batteries at least once a year.

Our SERVPRO of Arlington Heights/Prospect Heights professionals wishes you a safe and happy Thanksgiving and holiday season.

How a Blizzard Can Harm a Home

11/12/2019 (Permalink)

Snowstorm, poor visibility, slick roads and lots of traffic A winter storm can become dangerous, harming parts of your home.

How a Blizzard Can Harm a Home

As the temperature drops, winter emerges, with the beauty and strength of snow and ice. While a breathtaking season, it is also one with power and the potential for destruction. Therefore, winter storm damage possesses a major concern for homeowners in Prospect Heights, IL. You may grow concerned about how to protect your property and keep the integrity of your roof intact. Consider these three things as you prepare for this cold juncture.

1. Are Ice and Snow Harmful?

A blizzard is an intense weather system, combining ice, snow and wind. These three powerful forces can wreak havoc, causing destruction and requiring repairs. With winds over 35 mph, they have the ability create the following issues:

  • Form ice dams
  • Ruin siding
  • Shatter glass
  • Collapse the roof
  • Knock down trees

Try to trim branches, clean gutters and inspect the rooftop during autumn. That could help prevent some of these larger problems.

2. Who Do You Call?

Despite your best efforts, the winter storm may still harm something; thus, when the skies clear, immediately contact a water and storm restoration company. If the roof gave in, leave the premises. At that point, the place is unstable, and people should not be inside. When the experts arrive, they can evaluate the system's impact on your place. At this time, they can survey the damage, place tarps on the roof and begin to clean up your belongings.

3. What Can You Do?

Roof damage is a big process, so prepare yourself for a long wait. Meet with your construction manager to discuss a time frame, and visit the site frequently to see progress. In addition, during this time, allow the specialists to help with question as well as recovering your personal items. They can advise on best practices.
As the winds pick up and ice falls, a winter storm can become dangerous, harming parts of your home. Be patient, and call in professionals to restore the premises. Within time, the team can have your place looking "Like it never even happened."

Is Storm Damage Tax Deductible?

10/26/2019 (Permalink)

A business with water flooding Flood damage in Arlington Heights, IL

If your commercial property or business has suffered a loss from natural (and some man-made) disasters in Arlington Heights, IL, your actual financial loss may be tax deductible. The rules will vary based on the circumstances, but if you are armed with the right information, you can save your company a bunch of tax money at a time when it most needs it.

What Counts As Storm Damage?

If your loss was from a disaster, the IRS allows what’s called a casualty loss deduction. A casualty in federal tax law is a “sudden, unexpected, or unusual loss or damage to some property” that’s owned by your business. Additionally, the damage must be from a verifiable event, including

  • Earthquakes
  • Flood damage
  • Hurricanes and severe storms
  • Lightning
  • Riots
  • Tornadoes
  • Volcanic eruptions

There are identifiable causes of casualty losses that won’t qualify, such as accidents, termite damage, deterioration and normal wear-and-tear. Typically, the rules covering storm damage loss are more liberal for businesses than for individuals. Also, the losses can usually be written off by businesses even if they don’t itemize.

What Are Federal Disaster Declarations?

When the federal government declares a disaster, both tax write-offs and financial assistance usually becomes much more generous. For instance, while most losses are recorded in the present tax year, a presidential disaster declaration means you can write it off retroactively, putting relief funds into your hands far more quickly. State governors can also declare disasters, although this won’t impact federal relief.

How Is the Write-Off Applied?

A few IRS publications might be used to address your storm damage losses. Publication 547 is usually key to understanding how you can write off the damage and discusses casualties, disasters and thefts, while Form 4684 is used to file for relief. However, if the losses could be covered by insurance, the IRS will disallow your write-off.
Once you’ve experienced a loss from a disaster in Arlington Heights, IL, call a professional storm cleanup company for immediate mitigation of further damage. When the situation has been stabilized, they’ll begin the process of cleanup and restoration so you can return to normal operations and put it all behind you.

Replacing Your Toilet Is As Easy As 1-2-3

10/18/2019 (Permalink)

White toilet bowl in the bathroom Replacing a leaking toilet in Prospect Heights, IL, isn't as big of a deal as you may think it is

Replacing Your Toilet Is As Easy As 1-2-3

Replacing a leaking toilet in Prospect Heights, IL, isn't as big of a deal as you may think it is. Turns out, you probably don't even have to call a plumber. If you have a toilet picked out and waiting at your home, why not install it yourself?

Step 1- Removal

No matter what your reason for wanting a new toilet, it's never a bad idea to update your bathroom appliances. However, before you can install it, you have to get your old toilet out of there. Here's how to go about it:

  • Shut off the water to the toilet.
  • Flush the toilet until all the remaining water is gone.
  • Disconnect the water supply line.
  • Gently rock the toilet back and forth to break the wax seal.
  • Lift the toilet out and take it away.

Step 2- Preparation

If your previous leaking toilet caused water damage, you'll want to hire a water damage remediation service to take care of any problems before you install the new one. Once that's taken care of, make sure you have all the proper supplies and tools you will need: a toilet, a new wax gasket, a wrench and a screwdriver. Prepare the area by setting the wax seal on the flange where the toilet will sit. If you're also replacing the supply tube, apply pipe-joint compound to either end.

Step 3- Replacement

The final step of your toilet repair is to gently place your new porcelain throne onto the wax seal and bolts. Use your weight to push down toilet onto the gasket. Replace the washers and nuts onto the bolts holding the toilet down and tighten with a wrench. Continue you press down the toilet and tighten alternatively, until it no longer feels loose after pressing it. Lastly, reconnect the loose end of the supply line to the shut-off valve. Re-open the valve and flush the toilet to refill it.
Sometimes, you can't fix a leaking toilet. That's when you need to step up and put a new one in. Even people without much plumbing experience can do this at home with the proper guidance.

How To Create an Emergency Plan for Your Pets

10/9/2019 (Permalink)

Picture of a dog in a car Practice evacuating in the car with your animals, so they’re more familiar if you need to evacuate in an emergency

A fire emergency can occur at any time in Arlington Heights, IL. Thankfully, working with a fire restoration company can increase the likelihood that your home returns to normal. Of course, possessions are not the only important aspect of preparing for a fire. Pet safety should be part of your emergency plan, too. Here are a few ways to get started.

Have an Evacuation Plan

Draft an escape plan for your family and include your pets in it. Emergency pet preparation for some animals may involve teaching them to come when called. If you must leave the home in a hurry, your pets will be trained to know what to do and where to go. Practice taking your pets with you during your family fire drill and teach them to respond to commands. For pets that are skittish, have a carrier that you can easily put them in.

Keep Important Documents Together

Have proof of pet ownership with you. This can make it easier to find them in the event that they go missing while also proving that you own them. When putting together a pet safety kit, include the following as well:

  • A picture of your pet
  • License records
  • Vaccination records

Keeping everything in one safe area can eliminate worry and help you feel prepared in a fire emergency.

Alert First Responders

One way to assist first responders is by putting a sticker on your door alerting them there are pets in the house. These stickers usually allow you to state how many dogs and how many cats you have. When firefighters and other first responders see it, they can try to rescue the animals if possible.

Protecting your pets in case of a fire emergency can ensure your family stays together. By developing a pet safety plan, you can feel confident that even if this type of situation arises, you’ll be prepared and know what to do.

Shower Mold Prevention and Removal Tips

9/26/2019 (Permalink)

Black mold in shower Mold found in shower

Shower mold is a common problem for homeowners. Mold spores can exist almost everywhere and can grow rapidly when exposed to the warm, humid, damp conditions of a bathroom. The good news is, there are effective ways to remove mold and prevent it from coming back.

Preventing Mold in Your Shower

A good mold prevention routine can help reduce your chances of a mold problem or prevent an existing issue from recurring. 

Here are five tips you can try to reduce your chances of shower mold:

  1. Reduce the humidity level in your bathroom by running ventilation fans, leaving the door open or opening your bathroom window whenever you are running the shower.
  2. Repair anything that is leaking water in your bathroom, including leaky faucets, ceiling leaks or leaky windows.
  3. Avoid standing water in your tub or sink. If your drains are draining slowly, consider cleaning them or calling a plumber.
  4. Regularly clean your bathroom with anti-mold cleaning products. You should pay special attention to items that are particularly vulnerable to becoming moldy, such as non-slip tub mats and shower curtains.
  5. Wipe wet surfaces, such as your shower doors and tub, dry after use.

Removing Mold From Your Shower

Attempting to remove black mold yourself can be a dicey proposition. Disturbing mold can cause the spores to spread to the air and be distributed throughout your home, which can lead to a bigger mold problem than you started with.

Another issue with do-it-yourself mold solutions is that some cleaning products remove mold stains, but may not remove all the mold spores, which can lead to mold re-growth. Some cleaning products also don’t work well for non-porous surfaces or can even cause damage to your property. For these reasons, it may be wise to contact a mold remediation specialist in Prospect Heights, IL.

Implementing these tips can help you avoid shower mold or prevent mold from returning. If you’ve already got mold growth, contacting a remediation specialist may be the best way to help you solve the problem.

3 Steps To Dry a Flooded Furnace

9/26/2019 (Permalink)

A burst pipe at the furnace and water tank has caused a leak on the basement floor of a house Flooded furnace in an Arlington Heights, IL home

3 Steps To Dry a Flooded Furnace

Commercial property owners that have experienced a furnace flood know how disastrous this water damage can be. The risk of furnace flooding is higher during the winter, as pipes with are more prone to breakage due to pressure buildup around frozen blockages. If a flood or pipe break fills a furnace with water, these three steps can resolve the situation.

Stop the Water Source

If a broken pipe is leaking into a furnace, the top priorities include stopping the flow of electricity or gas to the appliance and resolving the plumbing problem as quickly as possible. Contact a plumber as soon as you see evidence that a pipe has broken. You may also want to go ahead and schedule consultations with an appliance repair specialist and a damage restoration service.

Extract Water

Even if there is no chance of restoring the function of a flooded furnace, it is necessary to extract water from the appliance and the surrounding area and promote drying. This helps to prevent primary water damage from causing structural problems and secondary damage, such as mold, from developing over the days and weeks after a furnace flood.

Replace the Furnace

Most furnaces cannot be safely operated after water damage. Natural gas furnaces contain sensitive parts critical for safety which tend to sustain irreparable damage. If replacement is necessary, consider relocating the new furnace away from areas prone to water damage. You may also want to schedule an air duct cleaning to stop any mold spores that are present from spreading throughout a structure.
A furnace flood usually necessitates furnace replacement. If the first commercial appliance service that you contact offers to repair parts following major damage, you may want to seek second or third opinions. Refurbished furnace components may be more likely to result in fires or other costly damage to a building located in Arlington Heights, IL.

4 Tips To Flood-Proof Your Home

9/10/2019 (Permalink)

Rain spout Making sure downspouts and drains are not clogged can help with water runoff in the event of a flood

Safety Tips For Homeowners To Protect Their Homes

As a homeowner, safeguarding your home against natural disasters is paramount, and flood safety should be a priority. Flooding is not only the most common natural disaster in the U.S., it’s also one of the costliest weather-related disasters. Flooding is estimated to have caused over $260 billion in damage between 1980 and 2013. Homeowners in Arlington Heights, IL, will especially benefit from these safety tips to protect their homes.

1. Reconsider renovations. For example, if your driveway needs to be repaved, consider installing porous paving to help slow down water runoff. If you’re springing for a new lawn, make sure to grade it away from the house so as to direct water flow into the street gutter and not your home.

2. Maintain upkeep. You can flood proof your home by doing simple maintenance upkeep such as checking pipe valves and ensuring gutters are clear to prevent ice dams. Making sure downspouts and drains are not clogged can help with water runoff in the event of a flood, or even heavy rainfall.

3. Prioritize cleanup. Almost as important as protecting your home for flood safety is post-flood follow-up. To avoid water damage and mold, seek water-damage repair experts immediately. You won’t be the only one seeking help after such a natural disaster, so be sure to act early.

4. Reorganize clutter. Move any electronics, expensive rugs and furniture to upper levels if possible. If it’s not, simply raise them off the floor. Elevating major appliances onto sturdy materials such as concrete blocks can be helpful as well. Make sure things such as sockets and switches, as well as circuit breakers, are at least a foot above the estimated flood level for the area.

Make flood safety a key priority when you purchase or renovate a home. Being better prepared for such natural disasters ahead of time will often be more effective than trying to belatedly deal with the aftermath.

The Aftermath of Bursting Pipes

8/27/2019 (Permalink)

Burst pipe in a Prospect Height, IL home

Dealing with water damage in Prospect Heights, IL, can be a homeowner’s nightmare. When it’s cold outside, water can freeze and expand, leading to bursting pipes and a flooded home. Cleanup can be expensive. Thankfully, homeowner’s insurance can help with the financial burden, and there are a few things you can do to help make the process easier.

Emergency Repairs

In general, you want to wait for your homeowner’s insurance company to approve your claim before you start the main cleanup process or attempt to fix the broken pipe. However, there are a few simple things you can do to help prevent further damage:

  • Remove excessive water.
  • Turn off the water supply to your home.
  • Take valuable items that have not been damaged and move them to a safer location.

Check Your Policy

Homeowner’s insurance policies can vary widely when it comes to what is covered. For example, your policy may include damage from bursting pipes but not from a washing machine that malfunctioned. Your best bet is to read your policy yourself so you are aware of what your coverage is.

Have Proper Documentation

Documentation is a crucial step when you are making a water claim. Consider taking photographs and video when necessary to show the extent of the damage. A photo of the room from before the damage occurred can also be helpful if you have one handy. Be sure to include any receipts you have for items that have been damaged or destroyed. If, during your emergency repairs, you had to rent equipment or buy any supplies, keep track of your receipts so you can be reimbursed for them. Any documentation you can provide will likely help with the claim process.

These things can help make the process of your water damage repair from bursting pipes go more smoothly. Emergency repairs can prevent further damage, knowledge of your policy prevents misunderstandings, and documentation should help with the claim process. Hopefully, you will be able to have the damage repaired quickly and have life return to normal.

Types of Tax Deductible Storm Losses

8/20/2019 (Permalink)

Storm damage in Arlington Heights, IL

Four Fundamental Areas of Storm Loss

Commercial properties are expensive to maintain and even more expensive to repair. When seasonal storms kick up and create significant losses for businesses, it can leave many owners looking for relief. Thankfully, when tax season rolls around, storm damage might actually be tax deductible. However, that depends on a couple of factors. First, do you have commercial insurance? Second, did you use your policy to make a claim? If you didn't, then you will not be able to make a deduction for losses accrued, but if you did, then you should have no problem come tax time. However, you will still need to understand the four fundamental areas of storm loss to record and claim everything properly.

1. Wind

Wind damage can account for a lot of property loss, especially when tied to significant storms, like hurricanes and tornadoes. This type of damage can account for many losses, such as broken windows, lost shingles and sheathing as well as damages to property landscaping.

2. Water

The most common form of storm damage tends to relate to water losses. Flooding and excessive rainfall can lead to significant issues, from foundational problems to roof leaks and more. While not every area requires flood insurance, it is a wise purchase for those businesses at risk to help offset potential recovery expenses.

3. Fire

While it may seem unlikely, storms can lead to building fires. For example, flooding can lead to electrical disturbances, which can spark a fire. Also, and more commonly, lightning strikes can cause sudden rooftop blazes.

4. Restoration

After storms have settled and the damages assessed, you will need to contact your insurer and a storm restoration specialist in the Arlington Heights, IL, area. While you may not want to make an insurance claim for the losses you incurred during the storm, the only way to file for deductions is to use your insurance policy first. Then, you can file deductions for the percentage of the recovery and restoration you actually paid for.
Storm damage can be expansive and costly to mitigate. However, if you file a claim and call for assistance, you can recover some losses through deductions.