Prepare Your Urban Businesses and Homes For Stronger Thunderstorms
Cincinnati is going to great lengths to reduce the Urban Heat Island impacts.
Have you ever noticed that in downtown Cincinnati or Covington, the temperature feels warmer by 2-5 degrees? It’s no coincidence. It actually is warmer! For centuries researchers have been studying this phenomenon. Scientists call it the Urban Heat Island Effect. Studies have shown that Urban areas like Cincinnati, Bellevue, and Covington have more severe storms because of this anomaly. The population in urban areas is predicted to increase in the coming years. SERVPRO wants to help you prepare your property now to decrease storm damage later.
What is an Urban Heat Island?
Urban Heat Islands, or UHI, are densely populated cities where buildings are built closely together. Generally, these areas have a large amount of surface area made from asphalt, concrete, steel, and other heat absorbent materials. It’s not just the building materials that make a UHI. Activities that create heat like driving, manufacturing, even a person walking can add heat to these tight spaces and raise the temperature. These factors mean the heat is trapped in the landscape. That is what creates the 2-5 degree difference in large cities.
How Does This Effect Create Stronger Storms?
There is more to a UHI than the temperature differential. The climate inside these areas is actually different. Nasa explains the reason behind this difference best, “increased temperature may provide a source of unstable air. If air over a city is warmer than the air surrounding it, it wants to rise. As the city-warmed air rises, it cools and forms rain-producing clouds that soak the area downwind.” These factors potentially create more severe weather than what might occur in the neighboring suburbs and rural areas.
Meteorologynews.com quotes Climatologist Dev Niyogi of Purdue University in Indiana, who believes, “As we are becoming bigger and bigger in terms of our urban footprint, there’s a distinct probability we are going to see cities have their own weather patterns.” For Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, this means higher river levels and more frequent flooding.
Protecting Your Property From Storm Damage
The best thing you can do to protect your property from storm damage is to click here for maintenance suggestions. These tips can help prevent storm damage altogether or reduce the damage to your property. Scientists believe there is more than maintenance required to reduce property damage. Changes to how we use our urban spaces are also necessary. It is possible to reverse the effects of a UHI by taking these steps.
- Add Greenspaces
- Part of the problem with UHIs is the lack of plant life in downtown areas. Businesses and homeowners can help by planting gardens on their roofs. Sometimes roof gardens aren't possible. Your home or business may have a peaked roof or no roof access at all. Consider replacing lawn or concrete with a native garden bed instead.
- Plant Trees
- The EPA explains, “Trees shade buildings to directly reduce cooling energy demand by blocking the sun's radiation. Indirectly, trees use solar energy to release moisture into the atmosphere in the form of water vapor, which has an additional cooling effect.”
- Use light colors on your roof and ground cover.
- Dark surfaces absorb and hold onto the sun’s rays at a higher rate than lighter surfaces. Painting a roof white can reflect the light and decrease the heat absorption better than a black roof.
Should a large storm hit your home or business give SERVPRO a call. Our elite large-loss specialists are prequalified and strategically positioned throughout the United States to handle any size disaster.
Drinks All Around!
Join us for Drinks on 7/15/21 at the 8th annual Cincinnati Blue Goose Golf Outing.
We are so proud to be this year’s drink sponsor for the 8th annual Cincinnati Blue Goose Golf Outing. If you’re an insurance adjuster and want to support a good cause, join us on Thursday, July 15, 2021, from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM EDT. Click Here to preregister on 6/15/21 for an early bird special. Registration proceeds as normal on 6/16/21. We can’t wait to share a drink with you! See you soon!
We Are Proud Sponsors of Our Community
We are proud members of our Cincinnati community.
We are so excited to be a sponsor for this year’s Greater Cincinnati Insurance Association picnic party! Join us this Wednesday 6/9/2021 at 11 AM. The picnic is free to all members and a plus one. Click here to register! There will be steaks, sides, beer, and wine. So come and have a drink. It’s on us. You won’t want to miss this incredible networking opportunity.
3 Interesting Facts About Soot
This soot is in a garage we cleaned in Loveland Ohio. The fire damage affected the Homeowner's contents, ceilings, and walls.
After a fire, there is a toxic residue that clings to your ceilings, walls, and contents. This residue is called soot. It comes in many shapes and forms. Publichealth.lacounty.gov explains that “high-oxygen fires will result in dry dusty soot, whereas slow-burning, low-oxygen fires will result in greasy wet deposits that easily smear.” You might consider cleaning this substance yourself. SERVPRO is here to explain why that isn't a good idea.
What Is Soot Made Of?
Soot is a blanket of tiny particulates. These particulates are made of tiny molecules from the contents and materials that burned up in the fire. Sciencedirect.com further explains “all soots are... characterized by the presence of very small particles (submicrometer) and correspondingly a large ratio of surface area to mass.” After a fire, these small particles are actively searching for a place to land. The walls and ceiling have the perfect surface to attract them.
Why Is Soot Toxic
The toxicity of soot comes from the chemical makeup of the molecules we just discussed. In a house fire, the burnt contents are typically made up of synthetic materials such as plastic, metals, and wood. Usually, when they are in one solid piece, these materials are safe. However, when broken down to the molecular level, these materials can become carcinogenic. If your home was built before 1978, lead and asbestos are likely present. According to The National Cancer Institute, other carcinogenic substances in soot include but are not limited to arsenic, cadmium, and chromium.
Soot Takes Many Forms
After a fire, you may notice black cobwebs in the affected area. This is not a reflection of how clean your house was before the fire. This is a chemical reaction from the fire. The high temperature of the fire allows the molecules to stick together. Unlike water that evaporates, these molecules are not able to turn back into their gaseous forms. This creates a chainlike structure that many people confuse as cobwebs. Their actual name is a Soot Web or Soot Tag. They can get very messy if they are disturbed.
Because of the nature of a soot web, do not attempt to clean them yourself. Doing so can cause more fire damage than you would have otherwise incurred. Cleaning up soot after fire damage yourself is not recommended. Our professionally trained staff have the experience and equipment to ensure that the job gets done safely and correctly. For your family’s health and safety, please give our office a call. Our staff is ready to take your call any time of day.
The Dangers of Gardening
Prevent fire damage by following these 5 steps.
If you are an avid gardener, you know how beneficial mulch can be to your plants. It suppresses weeds, aids in preventing erosion, spontaneously combusts, holds in moisture, and adds nutrients to the soil. Wait, did that say spontaneously combusts? It sure did! Lucky for you, there are ways to prevent this from happening. We have compiled a list of 5 simple steps that you can take to prevent garden fires.
Don’t Pile it High
Many homeowners and groundskeepers enjoy the aesthetics of a thick layer of mulch. However, that is where the danger lies. NBCWashington.com interviewed Chief Fire Marshell Linda Hale she explained, “Spontaneous combustion can happen when a decomposing, organic material such as mulch generates enough heat to ignite without an outside source." Because of the heat produced from decomposing mulch, it is recommended that you don’t go over 3 inches. This will reduce the risk of combustion and give less fuel to the fire if it does spontaneously combust.
Include Inorganic Mulch in Your Garden bed
Cincinnati Insurance Company defines the difference between organic and inorganic mulches.
Most organic mulches come from plant materials such as pine needles, wheat straw, pine bark nuggets, shredded cedar and redwood bark, or wood chips from recycled pallets. Ground and shredded rubber are also considered organic mulches. Inorganic mulches, usually derived from non-plant materials, include rock, gravel, or brick chips.
Inorganic mulch might not give the nutrients to the soil like organic mulch but, it can help in many of the same ways organic materials can.
Keep Space Between Your Building and Mulch
Because of its combustible properties, it is not recommended to mulch right up against your structure. Some states legally require 5 feet distance between your building and mulch. To fill up this space use inorganic mulch like rock or gravel. Residential properties are not legally obligated to uphold this but, it is highly recommended for the homeowner’s safety.
Keep the Mulch Damp
Spontaneous combustion can happen any time of the year. It’s more likely in the middle of summer when the air is dry because it hasn’t rained and winds are high. Paying attention to these weather patterns and keeping the mulch moist can prevent fire damage. Statistically, mulch fires happen during the afternoon when the day is the hottest. Consider watering in the morning. This helps prevent evaporation and keeps the ground cooler in the afternoon.
Keep Mulch Away From Open Flames
In the past, we’ve discussed safety precautions with open flames. Ideally, your grills and campfires are a minimum of 20 feet away from any structure. Keep this distance with mulch too. The dangers are the same. Embers can pop out of the fire and cause damage, or; the fire can get out of control for a myriad of other reasons.
If you are a business owner, make sure that you have a cigarette receptacle. This will discourage people from just throwing cigarette butts into the mulched area. This is good advice to heed if you are a smoker and a property owner yourself. Never throw a lit cigarette onto these wood or rubber chips.
Fire damage from spontaneous combustion and human error could happen at any moment. We have seen it and helped our fair share of clients through it. Should this unfortunate phenomenon happen to you do not hesitate to call our offices at (513) 693-2541.
Keep Cool By Staying Dry This Summer
We received a call on 5/8/2021. This pool overflowed and did a significant amount of water damage to a commercial building.
The weather is finally staying warm, schools are letting out, and Memorial Day is right around the corner. That means pool time! Recently we got a call from a company that had accidentally left the pump on overnight. Two floors of a commercial building were affected by the water damage! So put on your floaties because, today, we’re diving in with tips on how to prevent water damage from your pool.
If you own an outdoor pool, it would behoove you to keep an eye on the forecast. Large amounts of rain could cause your swimming pool to overflow. Prevent water damage by lowering the water level. If you have a pool cover, you may want to consider covering it before a big storm hits.
Not all of your pool equipment can sustain water damage. A pool overflow could damage the machinery. You can prevent further water damage by turning it off beforehand. After the storm, check on the equipment and make sure that everything is in working order.
You can also prevent water damage by checking whether you’re in a flood zone before a pool is even installed. FEMA has guidelines to prevent overflowing in these areas. Talk with your pool company to make sure they are within FEMA’s zoning requirements.
If you are filling your pool up for the first time this season or topping off the water level, you’ll want to make sure that you’re giving yourself plenty of time. Rushing leads to errors like leaving the hose on for too long and causing an overflow. Make sure that you can keep an eye on the water level. Don’t plan to go on errands while you are filling the pool. Don’t fill your swimming pool at night before bed. You want to be around to stop it if the water level gets too high.
When you’re complete with all of your maintenance tasks, be sure to take the time and double-check that everything is off and in running order. This could be your biggest ally in preventing future water damages.
Nobody’s perfect. SERVPRO understands that things come up when you plan on taking your time with pool maintenance. We also know that it’s not always easy to keep up with the weather report. If you are a pool owner, keep our number in your back pocket. (513) 541-3200. We are always here to help.
Should it Stay or Should it Go Now: Tips To Tell If Your Tree is a Potential Hazard
A felled tree damaging property after a storm in Goshen Ohio.
When you think of a tree falling on your home, you imagine a dead tree, right? What if we told you that a tree does not have to be dead nor dying to be a hazard? Many factors play into whether or not a tree has the potential to fall and cause damage to your property. Today, we are going to delve deeper into these potential environmental hazards.
The structure of a tree is key to whether or not it can withstanding a storm and high winds. Scientific American did interviews with several Arborists. David R. Foster, Director, Harvard Forest at Harvard University explains,
Wood is a very strong and wonderful structural material. Wood, however, is not homogeneous or consistently strong at all places in the stem (trunk). Wood decay caused by fungi can weaken wood structure. However, the mere presence of decayed wood or even a hollow does not mean that the tree is more vulnerable to failure.” What he says next is of some comfort. “Strength comes from the quality and quantity of wood that is present, not what might have been degraded."
There are many reasons that a tree might not have a strong structure. Animals and bugs can do a lot of damage to a tree. We have all heard of the emerald ash borer. Bugs like this and the Asian long-horned beetle can kill a tree that has lived for 100 years in as little as 5-10 years. These bugs degrade the quality and quantity of wood in the infested tree.
In addition to bugs, you also have other organisms that can leach the nutrients from the tree. Mushrooms and vines are the biggest parasitic culprits. Hen-of-the-Wood and invasive vines like English Ivy have a parasitic relationship. Vines and mushrooms slowly kill trees by stealing their nutrients. Vines will wrap around a tree and branch out its own canopy stealing the light from the tree itself. To be clear, not all mushrooms and vines are parasitic. Boletes are a good example of mushroom that has a symbiotic relationship.
Softwood trees like poplars and pines grow quickly. This causes them to be weak. In some instances, these quick-growing trees can have holes in the middle. Compromising the structure. This makes them a potential hazard come winter when they are weighed down by snow or whipped around in a storm.
Human manipulation can also weaken trees. When done correctly pruning, can encourage new, healthier growth. Oregon State University explains that it's best to prune during the tree's dormant period. For most trees, late fall is ideal. This helps the tree recover from being cut and helps prevent disease and possible insect infestations.
But, many people do not know the proper way to prune a tree. If you are going to do it yourself be sure you are doing it in the right places. You should also be careful that you're not cutting the tree back too much. Over pruning can cause an imbalance in the tree’s structure, making large branches susceptible to felling when high winds or inclement weather hits. Not cutting it in the right spot could do the same thing.
Before you plant a new tree it’s important to know two key factors about your tree and soil. What kind of soil do you have? If you’re in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, the soil on your property is most likely clay. Clay is a dense compact soil that tends to hold a lot of water. This can be a bad combination when we get a lot of rain. Lots of rain and saturated soil could be the recipe for an uprooted tree.
That’s why you should know what species of tree you are planting before you place it. Certain species thrive in different types of soils. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, some of the best trees for clay are White oaks, Paw Paw, and, Silky Dogwood. A sapling will ideally adapt to its habitat. But, if you are transplanting trees that are a few years old and they're not known to thrive in clay, there is a higher risk of felling when they get older. The roots aren’t going to be able to penetrate past the clay. That means the root system only goes down a few inches versus the few feet that it needs for a good sturdy hold in the earth.
Newer developments could experience a higher rate of felled trees. In nature, we have what is called co-dominate trees. These are trees that grew up as saplings about the same time in different parts of a wooded area. A tree that grew up on the edge of the woods has more access to light. Therefore it can bush out rather than needing to grow up to reach the sunlight. This allows them to act as a buffer against the wind.
When these trees are cut down to make room for housing, a few things happen to the canopy trees. First, you’re taking away the wind buffers from trees that are, to put it simply, top-heavy. This can become a problem in the case of heavy winds, storms, and microbursts. These tall, straight trees with a heavy canopy no longer have a shield against the wind.
In addition to no longer having a wind block, trees that were once in the middle of a wooded area and now sit on the edge of woods lack the support of other root systems. This makes them vulnerable and creates a hazard for your property. The direction of the wind plays a role in this as well. In Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, the wind commonly comes from the south and west. That means if these trees are facing the north and east the risk of being uprooted is reduced.
There are many factors as to whether or not your tree is a risk and susceptible to felling. If you have concerns about a tree that is close to your home contact your local Arborist. They can point you in the right direction and let you know if you have a healthy, sturdy tree or; if your tree is a potential threat.
We cannot emphasize this enough. Cutting down trees is dangerous work. Unless you are a professional or you are only pruning a small branch please do not attempt to cut down trees yourself. This includes emergencies like a tree or large branch falling on your house or vehicle. Professionals like us can remove trees quickly and safely off of your property. Should you find yourself in this dangerous situation, do not hesitate to call our office at (513) 541-3200.
Storm Damage in Cincinnati Ohio
Commercial water damage on 4/29/21.
It rained cats and dogs yesterday. We weren’t sure it was ever going to stop. Luckily our crews were geared up and ready to go when we got the call for a commercial flood in Cincinnati, Ohio. While they didn’t sustain storm damage, they did have a fridge supply line leak. Two floors and numerous offices were affected by this leak.
We got the call from the property manager at 8:44 AM. Our crews were on site by 9:32 AM. We immediately began extracting water from the carpet. The carpet was so saturated you could see footprints every time you took a step! Afterward, they started removing cove bases so they could drill holes in the drywall. These holes allow air to flow behind the affected wall which, aids in the drying process.
The ceiling tiles also needed to be removed. The water from above had saturated those as well. Once all the demo was completed, our crews placed equipment on both levels. Most water damages take about 3 days to dry out. A larger like this one loss will sometimes take 5 days.
So what happens after the 3rd or 5th day? We keep working! We offer free repair estimates to all of our clients. So if you don't know who to use for your repairs, SERVPRO has your back! We want to make you feel like this water damage "never even happened."
How To Prevent Accidental Water Damage From Your Sprinkler System
Fun Fact: Sprinkler systems are triggered by heat, not smoke.
A Sprinkler system is a crucial fire safety utility. According to the NFPA, they can reduce the death rate of a house fire by 80%! However, when Sprinkler systems go off accidentally, they can cause thousands of dollars of property damage. Primarily this is due to human error and not the system itself. We want you and your employees to be as safe as possible so, we came up with a list of ways to prevent accidental water damage from sprinkler heads.
What we’ve noticed
On average, we see about 5-10 sprinkler bursts per year for various reasons. The most common water damages are caused by equipment accidents, frozen pipes, and human manipulation. With a little bit of preparation and education, all of the water damage from these causes are preventable.
Prevent Water Damage Through Education
The most important thing you can do is educate your employees and members of your household. Explain to them that sprinkler heads are not decorations and should not be used as such. Emphasize that they should not be used as a way to hang up decorations or clothes. To discourage this behavior even further, you can look into anti-tamper devices. These will prevent anyone from hanging anything on the sprinkler heads while still allowing them to function when needed. Talk to a professional about your options and how to install them.
Let your employees know the limits of equipment heights. We receive many calls from warehouses that experience water damage because a forklift hit a sprinkler head. Some sprinkler system companies suggest that a sign is painted in the vicinity of the sprinkler head so they know if they’re close.
Sprinkler systems can release 20-40 gallons of water per minute. Show your management team or employees where the shutoff valve is in case of accidental release. The fire department can do this for you, but relying on them could take several minutes, allowing hundreds of gallons of water to cause damage to your property.
Prevent Water Damage With Maintenance
The next best thing you can do for your business is to get your sprinkler systems checked annually. There are companies throughout Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky that can inspect your system. They can fix any pipes that have corroded over the years. They can also point out any areas that may need insulation to help prevent frozen pipes and burst sprinkler heads.
SERVPRO knows that accidents happen despite your most thorough efforts to prevent them. If you have water damage caused by a sprinkler head burst or damage to the system, give us a call right away. Our quick and skilled teams will be able to reduce the amount of damage to your business and property.
Prevent Water Damage by Celebrating Earth Day All Year Round
Root systems of Non-Native vs. Native Mid-Atlantic Plants. Source- Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay
We all know the most common causes of water damage: broken pipes or hoses, sewer backups, basement moisture, accidents, and weather. Did you know that in some cases, water damage could be caused by your lawn? In Honor of Earth Day, we wanted to explain how planting native flowers and grasses can help the environment and your house!
A Brief History of the Lawn
According to Planetnatural.com, lawns were originally open areas in the woods where villagers could take their farm animals out to pasture. These areas weren’t popularized as lawns until 16th Century Europe. Even then, it was only the wealthy who could afford their upkeep.
When Northern Europeans immigrated to America, one of the things they brought with them was grass seed. Sometimes this was done on purpose. Sometimes it was introduced by accident, either by sticking on a person’s clothes or stowing away on shipping containers. Many non-native plants, bugs, and animals were and still are introduced this way.
Why It Matters
For many households, the ideal lawn is free of weeds like crabgrass and dandelions. This is called a monoculture. While it looks nice, the lack of diversity does no favors to the soil in your yard. To begin with, these often non-native grasses have a small root system. The root system is then weakened even further by regularly cutting it short.
These short root systems make your soil compact. In the Ohio River Valley, that can be a huge issue. The University of Minnesota explains “compacted soil has a reduced rate of both water infiltration and drainage.” If you don’t have a good drainage system in your yard, the water will find the path of least resistance. If you have any cracks in your foundation, that path could lead right inside your home.
This is one of the reasons The National Wildlife Federation encourages Americans to garden with native plants. Native flowers and grasses have deep healthy root systems. When planted around your house they help the soil become more porous. This allows rainwater and snowmelt to be absorbed into the ground. The more water that is absorbed by the soil means less water intrusion into your beautiful finished basement.
By planting native flowers and grasses you’re helping more than just yourself you’re also helping the environment. Deep roots can work as a natural filtration system. This means cleaner water for us as fewer toxins make it into our watersheds. You can look at the EPA’s website for more information and a fun experiment with your kids.
By planting native flowers and grasses in your yard, you’re potentially preventing water damage. That alone can save you thousands of dollars and the headache of an insurance claim. You’re also helping out your local ecosystem. The bugs, the birds, and the local wildlife relies on native flowers and grasses to survive.
If your house is having issues with water intrusion, we suggest seeking the help of a professional. They will be able to tell you exactly where the leak is coming from. If you have compact soil planting a few native flowers and grasses may just be the solution you need.