Recent Posts

SERVPRO’s Veteran Initiative

4/13/2021 (Permalink)

In early 2021 SERVPRO announced a new initiative called “driven to serve”. This initiative is designed to provide returning veterans with employment. This was a renewed effort on SERVPRO’s behalf to help the more than 225,000 veterans who are discharged from the United States military annually. SERVPRO set a goal of hiring 1,000 returning veterans by 2022.

SERVPRO has always valued employing service members. In fact, on November 10, 2020 the U.S. Secretary of Labor, Eugene Scalia, recognized SERVPRO Industries, LLC as one of the 675 recipients of the “2020 HIRE Vets Medallion Award’’ during an award ceremony at the U.S. Department of Labor. SERVPRO earned the Gold Award after applying earlier this year. The Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans Act (HIRE Vets Act) Medallion Program is the only federal award program that recognizes job creators who successfully recruit, hire, and retain veterans.

I am proud to work for a nationally recognized franchise who values those who served our country and sacrificed so much for us. SERVPRO of Southern Monroe County recognizes the importance of this “driven to serve’’ initiative. We understand how challenging it can be for some veterans integrating back into the workforce. That is why we have decided to help in this effort. Please don't hesitate to reach out to us directly if you or someone you know has served and is looking for employment in the Poconos.

Please contact us directly at marketing@SERVPROmonroepike.com. We would be honored to work beside you.

--Michael Smitchel

SERVPRO on the Frontlines of the Pandemic

3/20/2021 (Permalink)

SERVPRO has been on the front lines of this pandemic since it hit our shores. Early in the pandemic, the federal government was bringing people back from overseas. The government along with the world was still figuring out how the COVID-19 was spread. Even with a lack of consensus at the time, SERVPRO was the trusted Cleanup and Restoration company that the government turned to in their time of need. 

That is because SERVPRO is a leader in cleanup and restoration. We have over 50 years of experience in biohazard cleaning. Our trusted employees are trained, familiar, and equipped with leading industry technologies and supplies to clean up any Biohazard including COVID-19. We arm our cleaning support team with protective equipment, proprietary cleaning products which are FDA approved, and top of the line production equipment to get the job done safely.

Each of our employees undergoes vigorous training and shadowing in the field to help them become familiar with safety protocols and procedures. This helps to ensure that they are getting the job done safely and effectively.

As we start to open our country up and hopefully put this pandemic behind us, it is important to remember that the standard of clean has changed.  In a recent survey, 80% of consumers surveyed expressed concerns about visiting brick and mortar locations, citing cleanliness as a top concern for them.

Having your business CERTIFIED SERVPRO CLEANED with a decal on the front window can help communicate to consumers that you hear their concerns and you take their safety and well being seriously.

Call today to make an appointment to have your Pike County home or business Certified SERVPRO Cleaned! 570-424-2290

--Michael Smitchel

Top 3 Causes of Fires and Tips to Prevent Them

3/19/2021 (Permalink)

In this blog, we will discuss the top three causes of fires according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). We will also discuss standard tips to mitigate loss. Hopefully this article will leave you with an understanding of how to avoid these common causes of fires. 

1) Unattended Cooking

The number one cause of home fires is unattended cooking. This usually happens when people get distracted while cooking. It is important to never walk away from food on the stove. An easy way to avoid this is to set an alarm if you have to step away for a short amount of time. Another suggestion may be to have someone watch the food while you attend to other matters.

Fire extinguishers should be placed in every room of your home, especially in the kitchen and garage. You should also learn how to properly use a fire extinguisher to be prepared in case you have to use one.

2) Heating Equipment

Space heaters should be used if only a small portion of your home needs to be heated. Keep space heaters away from anything that could easily catch fire, including laundry, blankets, tapestry and furniture. If your home relies on a furnace during the winter, call a professional to get it inspected once a year to ensure it is running properly.

3) Faulty Wiring

Your home’s wiring is likely something that rarely crosses your mind.  Luckily, there are usually signs that point to a house having wiring that isn’t working correctly. A few noticeable signs are when your lights dim when you use other appliances, if you are only able to use one appliance at a time, and frequently have blown fuses.

Your first line of defense against home fires is a smoke alarm.  Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home and inside each bedroom, as well as tested monthly. This can help ensure that your family gets out in time in case a fire starts in your home.

If a fire strikes, you know you can count on SERVPRO of Pike / NE Monroe Counties to restore your home and make it "Like it never even happened."

--Michael Smitchel

Top 3 Things to Remember When You Lose Power

3/18/2021 (Permalink)

Natural disasters like the one that hit Texas in mid February, are all-too-common these days. Natural disasters that cause the power to go out in the middle of winter pose many potential problems for home and business owners alike.

1) Power outages have the potential to cause pipes to freeze which is a leading cause of water damage in the winter.

Right now Texans are struggling with this all-too-common problem. When homes or businesses are left without power for extended periods of time, it allows temperatures to dip below freezing allowing the pipes to freeze. This can cause cracks or bursts which lead to water damage.

One measure that can be taken to try and avoid this is to insulate the pipes. This can be done by visiting any local hardware store. Most hardware stores carry special tape, polyester coverings, and a host of other products that are capable of protecting against extreme dips in temperature.

If you have community, town, or city water and have not lost your water supply it may be a good idea to run the water source furthest from the water main. This can allow a steady flow of water to avoid pressure building up from the water in the pipes becoming frozen.

2) Power outages have the potential to cause septic backup.

When there is a power outage, effluent is not pumped into the drain field. The septic and pump tank collect the wastewater throughout the power outage and will release it all at once when the power is restored and the pump starts. Too much water pumped at one time can flood the drain field, causing surfacing or backups.

3) Power outages can cause loss of drinking water if you have a well.

Power outages can cause well pumps to stop working which can lead to loss of water supply. This includes water for drinking, showering, and toilets. Not having access to clean, drinkable water can lead to many other issues. It is important to store additional bottled water in order to avoid dehydration.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Texans who will likely be recovering from this storm over the next several weeks. If there is anything to be learned from this terrible situation, it's that it is important to prepare for these types of disasters.

If disaster strikes and causes water damage from Milford to Lake Wallenpaupack, SERVPRO of Pike / NE Monroe Counties can help.

--Michael Smitchel

Subtle Signs of Water Damage

3/18/2021 (Permalink)

Sometimes water damage and its source are easy to identify. For example, when a pipe bursts or a major storm causes flooding. Sometimes the problem can be more subtle, which can lead to more damage over the long-term if you don’t recognize a problem before it becomes a potential disaster.  

If you’re concerned there may be a water problem in your home or business, here are five common, but not-so-obvious signs to look out for.

Water Stains

If you see pale yellow or brown stains on your ceilings, wall, or floors, that may indicate the presence of a slow, but steady leak.

Many times, water stains will form directly under the water source. However, sometimes water will run along wire, pipes, or other materials and then the drip can cause stains far from the source. Make sure you figure out the cause of the water damage you see.

Mold Growth

Mold grows where there is sufficient wetness for it to thrive, so if you have a mold problem, there’s a water problem.

Sometimes materials in your home will become mold-infested if they’ve become wet and have never been able to dry sufficiently.  This can happen to fabric, wood, insulation, and perhaps even your floors, ceilings, or walls.

Odors

A musty smell can be one of the first signs of a water problem, even if you can’t yet see any leaks.

Be on the lookout (or smellout) for any sudden changes in odor.  Take note if it gets worse after a rainstorm or while you’re taking a shower or running the dishwasher.

Weak Wall, Floors, or Ceilings

Water will weaken your building materials. You might notice that your walls are becoming softer or “spongy,” your floors might be bowing, there may be a crack in your ceiling or a bubble in your paint or wall paper.

A sudden large leak might cause a major, obvious problem, but if the leak is slow these issues might come on gradually over weeks or months.  The sooner you notice, the sooner you can address the root cause.

Higher Utility Bills

If you have a sudden and unexpected surge in your utility bill, that might be an indication of a water problem.

While slight fluctuations month to month are normal, be on the lookout for a sudden rise in the water bill, especially if there’s no corresponding increase in your sewer rates.  If there isn’t a reason you can think of why your water bill might be high this month, it may be that there’s a water damage issue.

Here at SERVPRO of Pike / NE Monroe Counties, we know just how disastrous water damage can be to a home or business.  That’s why we’re passionate about helping the people in this community do what they can to prevent water damage before it becomes a major issue.

However, if you have water damage SERVPRO can help you identify and address the source of the problem and ensure that it won’t turn into an expensive catastrophe for your home or business.

--Michael Smitchel

Why Flood Waters are Category 3

3/17/2021 (Permalink)

Flooding homes and businesses are all-to-common in areas that are close to rivers, lakes, or streams.  Many times in the summer tropical storm systems can dump many inches of water which can cause flooding. There is also the reality of huge snow storms in the northeast like the nor’easter we recently had in February of 2021 here in Northeast Pennsylvania. The melting snow can cause water levels to rise. There are also the rare occurrences when ice can cause a dam or blockage in a local river or stream system.

It is important to understand that no matter what the cause of outside water seeping into your home or business, the water should be treated with extreme caution. Many times this water is contaminated and can cause harmful side effects if not dealt with correctly. Any outside water from storms is treated as a Category 3 loss.

Category 3: "Black Water"

This water is grossly unsanitary and could cause severe illness or death if ingested, and any contact should be avoided. Sources for category 3 water could include flooding from rivers or streams, water from beyond the toilet trap, water from the toilet bowl with feces, or standing water that has begun to support microbial growth.

SERVPRO of Pike / NE Monroe Counties has you covered no matter how bad the water damage may be. We have the equipment, personnel and experience to get the job done right.

--Michael Smitchel

Smoke Odor Factors

3/16/2021 (Permalink)

Fires can cause extensive damage throughout your home or property which requires the help of professionals to restore. Items can be burnt, soot-covered or damaged by water from firefighting efforts. The smell of soot and smoke can linger for a long time after a fire.

FACTORS THAT AFFECT SMOKE ODOR REMOVAL

Removing smoke odors from your home or place of business can seem pretty straightforward. However, the amount of time needed to remove the smoke odor will depend on a variety of factors. These include:

  • Types of materials burned: Materials throughout your home react differently to soot and smoke molecules. Porous hard surfaces such as wallpaper, wood, drywall, and paint can become permanently stained or discolored unless treated quickly. Metallic surfaces may begin to rust and corrode with acidic soot. Cleaning chemicals may seep into your carpet as it dries, carrying with it soot and smoke molecules that can cause stains.
  • Type of soot: Dry soot is easier to clean and can be dealt with by using a sponge and a low-alkaline detergent. Oily soot requires the use of special techniques and equipment to be safely removed from your home. SERVPRO has a host of products for every time of soot imaginable.
  • Size of the fire-damaged area: The square footage of a fire loss area usually determines how hard it will be to get clean.
  • Size of the fire: A larger fire can cause more damage, which will in turn lead to more potential for smoke odor throughout your property.
  • Time delay after fire: The longer you wait, the worse the smoke damage will get. Even if the damage seems minimal, most types of materials at home can start to yellow, discolor, rust, or corrode due to the impact of acidic soot or smoke particles. 

Smoke from a fire infiltrates all areas of a home. It can seep into carpeting, furniture, clothing, draperies, books and even woodwork. Often homeowners attempt to dissipate smoke smell with spray deodorizers and scented candles. These tactics only mask the odor of smoke and won't remove it from the home. Smoke particles bury themselves into fabrics, fibers, and other porous surfaces. In order to remove smoke smell completely, items need to be deeply cleaned.

CLEANING UP SMOKE DAMAGED ITEMS

Essentially everything in a home affected by fire smoke needs to be cleaned. Some items may only require thorough airing to remove smoke smell, but most items like carpeting, rugs, curtains, upholstery, and clothing will need a thorough cleaning and possible sanitization.

SERVPRO of Pike / NE Monroe Counties has access to several proprietary deodorizers and cleaning products that help make fire damage and smoke odor "Like it never even happened."

--Michael Smitchel

Janitorial Services vs Commercial Cleaning Services

3/15/2021 (Permalink)

If you own or operate a business, then you know how important it is to keep your workspace clean and organized.  The condition of your workspace leaves an impression on the people who visit your business, which can have a direct effect on your bottom line.  Few people will want to do business with a company that cannot keep its own space in good condition.  

While some companies keep their workspace clean by hiring an in-house cleaning crew, others either do not have the resources to hire an in-house crew or would rather hire a third party.  This means that they must hire a professional to provide janitorial or commercial cleaning services.  The phrases “janitorial services” and “commercial cleaning services” are often used interchangeably, but these terms actually describe two somewhat different types of cleaning services.  If you are looking to hire a cleaning professional for your office or commercial building, it helps to understand the difference between the two types of services. This can help to ensure you are hiring a professional that can take care of the cleaning you want done.

Janitorial Services and Commercial Cleaning: What is the Difference?

The difference between janitorial services and commercial cleaning is that janitorial services include small, everyday cleaning tasks while commercial cleaning involves bigger jobs that are done a few times per year.  For example, janitorial services include regular vacuuming of the carpeting while commercial cleaning services include deep carpet cleaning.  Hiring a janitorial service is beneficial for everyday cleaning and maintenance.  Companies can look into hiring commercial cleaning services for deep cleanings.

Janitorial Services

As stated above, a janitorial service provider will take care of everyday cleaning duties and keep your workspace clean and well maintained on a regular basis.  With consistent janitorial services, your office or facility will always look good and be ready for visitors, customers, and business associates.  Companies tend to schedule janitorial services based on their needs, typically on a daily, weekly, or bi-weekly basis.

Professionals that provide janitorial services are trained to use cleaning products and equipment to reduce the risk of cross-contamination and maintain clean and sanitary conditions.  These services typically include the following:

  • Restroom cleaning
  • Cleaning of employee breakrooms or kitchens
  • Sweeping and mopping of hard surface floors
  • Vacuuming of the carpet
  • Dusting
  • Emptying trash

Commercial Cleaning Services

Commercial cleaning services cover bigger cleaning jobs that do not need to be done on a regular basis.  You can hire a commercial cleaning service provider on a one-time, quarterly or semi-annual basis. The cleaning services provided by a commercial cleaning company typically include:

  • Carpet Cleaning
  • Tile and grout cleaning
  • Hard surface floor cleaning
  • Furniture and upholstery cleaning
  • Window washing
  • Power washing

Deciding Between Janitorial Services and Commercial Cleaning

If you are interested in consistent cleaning services that keep your office or facility looking clean and presentable, then you need janitorial services.  If there are a couple of big cleaning projects you need done such as upholstery cleaning, power washing, or carpet cleaning then you need to talk to a company that provides commercial cleaning services.

SERVPRO of Pike / NE Monroe Counties can help with all of your commercial cleaning needs. We have many different proprietary products that help to deep clean any size commercial cleaning job.

--Michael Smitchel

Commercial COVID-19 Cleaning

3/10/2021 (Permalink)

Coronavirus, or COVID-19, has changed every faction of our lives. Businesses around the country are being forced to keep up with ever-changing CDC guidelines. Many businesses have hired SERVPRO of Pike / NE Monroe Counties for both preventative cleaning and disinfection, and cleaning for confirmed cases.

Scope of Cleanup Protocol

SERVPRO professionals can perform a proactive cleanup that involves facility or structure cleaning and disinfection where the customer states that there is no active known threat of COVID-19 contamination or exposure. The customer will be required to acknowledge that cleaning and disinfecting will only apply to the current state of the structure and contents.  The structure would not be protected from future COVID-19 contamination if an infected person was to enter and occupy the building.

Cleanup Scope of Work and Planning

The CDC encourages cleaning of high-touch surfaces such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, light switches, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and tables at a minimum.  These same surfaces are mentioned in the CDC’s guidance for commercial spaces as well as the following suggestions:

  • Kitchen/Food Areas
  • Bathrooms
  • Schools/classrooms
  • Offices
  • Retail spaces
  • Water Fountains
  • Shelving and racks
  • Sales counters
  • Carpets and rugs
  • Stair Handrails
  • Elevator Cars
  • Playground Equipment
  • Fitness Equipment

Cleanup and Disinfecting Procedures

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 the cleanup process, and disposal of waste.

The CDC recommends usage of a labeled hospital-grade disinfectant with claims against similar type organisms to SARS-Cov-2.

SERVPROXIDE, SERVPRO’s proprietary disinfectant, is a hospital-grade disinfectant that has demonstrated effectiveness against viruses similar to SARS-Cov-2 on hard, non-porous surfaces.  In addition, SERVPROXIDE Currently has dozens of EPA- approved claims including Feline coronavirus, Canine coronavirus, Staphylococcus (MRSA), E. Coli, Salmonella, Rotavirus, Swine flu (H1N1) and more.

Porous surfaces that are not water-sensitive, such as carpet and other fabric material, cannot be disinfected, but can be sanitized using SERVPROXIDE.

Whether your business has a confirmed case or you are looking to prevent any future cases, SERVPRO of Pike / NE Monroe counties has you covered when it comes to commercial COVID-19 cleaning.

--Michael Smitchel

Top 4 Causes of House Fires

2/13/2021 (Permalink)

Fire. It’s one of the scariest dangers for any homeowner, and while the number of house fires in the United States has steadily declined in recent years, these incidents still contribute to thousands of deaths and billions of dollars of damage each year.

While a fire alarm system can alert your family to danger and help you stop the problem before it gets out of hand, understanding what causes a house fire and knowing how to prevent these incidents is essential for protecting your home.

But what are the dangers you should be watching out for and what are the most common causes of house fires? Knowing these answers can help you protect your family and also save you from an insurance headache in the future. Below are the four most common causes of house fires and tips on ways you can help prevent them.

  1. Electrical Fires

Electrical fires are one of the most common threats homeowners face. Whether the result of an overloaded electrical outlet or a malfunctioning appliance, electrical fires can start suddenly and cause a lot of damage. The best tips for avoiding an electrical fire are first, be smart with your home’s electricity use! Its best not to overload a circuit or leave your lights on overnight (especially halogen lights and other high-risk materials). Use power strips in areas where you might need to keep several appliances or devices plugged in continually like at a home office desk.

Another great tip for doubling the safety in your home is to conduct an annual inspection of the electrical system to help avoid house fires. Professional electricians can identify faulty wiring, damaged outlets, and other hazards and then provide the repairs to keep your system safe. In older homes, the wiring can often be on a single circuit, which can cause breakers to short often and heighten the risk of an electrical fire. A professional can check your property for this and fix it if needed.

  1. Cooking Fires

Cooking fires rank as the number one cause of house fires in the United States, with the majority of incidents occurring when food is left unattended after cooking. Most commonly this happens when frying food, or any time when large quantities of grease are involved. Most of us are aware of proper kitchen and cooking safety, but sometimes we can be forgetful.

Your best bet to avoid a cooking fire is simply to keep an eye on your food at all times. Just like when you’re driving, don’t take your eyes off the road—well, the stove in this case. If a fire does occur, your key to fire safety is to cut off the fire’s oxygen and fuel supplies. There are three things that cause a fire to continue one is the heat, the second is fuel, and the third thing is the oxidizing agent (most often oxygen). Get rid of one of these sides of the triangle and you can kill the fire. The best tips to stopping a kitchen fire, or another fire on your property is to suffocate it by removing the oxidizing agent. Grease fires in kitchens should be covered with a lid over the pan, never use water to get rid of a grease fire—throwing water on a grease fire will actually make it worse. An oven fire can be handled simply by closing the oven door and turning the oven off.

Be smart and train others who live in your home or on your property to know how to respond the second a flame gets started. Taking the time to train and teach your family members is one of the best ways to avoid an insurance claim and protect your property, home and family.

  1. Dryers

You may not think of your clothes dryer as a fire hazard, but this kind of equipment accounts for tens of thousands of house fires each year. The problem most frequently occurs when lint and dust are allowed to build up over time. This can cause the dryer vent to become clogged with highly flammable materials, which easily combust when exposed to high temperatures.

Your best tip for dryer safety is to clean the lint trap each time before you use the dryer, and to inspect and clean the dryer vent area to remove lint buildup and other potential blockages. Regular cleaning can ultimately make all the difference in avoiding a house fire. If other people in your house do the laundry, make sure they know to clean out the lint trap each time also. This simple practice can cut down on one of the main causes of so many different house fires.

  1. Candles

Candles may seem like the perfect fit for a romantic evening or a blessing in a moment of a blackout, but the minute you leave a lit candle in an unoccupied room you’re asking for trouble. We have two tips: always blow out a candle if you’re going to leave a room, and never place a lit candle in a spot near combustible items or where it could be tipped over.

Conclusion

It’s easy to assume you’re already practicing each of these safety tips in your home, but it’s easy to get lackadaisical and before long you might find yourself filing an insurance claim; something you never want to have to do. Take the time to sit down with your family and walk them through the risks and each of these tips. Teach them the proper steps to prevent a house fire and also the proper way to put out a fire in the home (remember, water isn’t always the answer). As you watch out for these common house fire hazards and take the necessary preventative steps, you can have peace of mind as you keep your family and property safe.

--Michael Smitchel