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Water Damage Cleanup Terms

6/26/2019 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Libertyville/North Chicago City/Lake Bluff is a leader in the water remediation and restoration industry.

Feeling overwhelmed during a water damage is understandable.  While dealing with the shock of finding your home or commercial building flooded, you’re also wondering what’s about to happen to your property. Here are some commonly used terms to help.


This stands for Personal Protective Equipment.  The category of water that has affected your property will influence the type of PPE our water mitigation technicians will need to wear to stay safe during cleanup.  You may see them put on medical grade gloves, safety glasses, Tyvek suits, and even full face masks.

Category 1 Water

(Clean): The water is clean and sanitary.  It does not pose a substantial risk. Cat 1 water may turn into a Cat 2 or 3 water damage if it's not cleaned soon, typically within 3 days.

Category 2 Water

(Gray): This water carries waste products and is not clean, but it also does not contain human waste.  If carpet is affected, we’ll have to at least remove and dispose of the pad. The carpet itself may be saved.  Cat 2 water may turn into a Cat 3 water damage if it's not cleaned soon.

Category 3 Water

(Black): This water poses a significant health risk.  Both the carpet and pad must be disposed of. External flooding and sewage backups are both Cat 3 and contain gross contamination and present a danger of spreading bacteria and disease.


This is the measure of water vapor flow through a material.  It is basically a measure of how much water can pass through an item.  An example of a type of paint with high permeance is flat paint. Semi-gloss and glossy paints have more of a moisture barrier, so water can’t pass through them as easily.  However, once the water does pass through (water will get through anything with enough time), it’s a lot harder to get the water extracted.

Moisture Barriers

These are objects that prevent water vapor flow and thus hinder the drying process.  A great example of moisture barriers are baseboards.


This means getting the water out.  After an initial walk through and taking care of safety concerns, our water mitigation technicians will begin to extract all the standing water from your home or business.


Baseboards will likely be affected by the water damage since they are closest to the floor.  In order to dry cavities inside the walls, our technicians typically remove baseboards and drill small holes on the drywall behind it.  


You will see our technicians use various proprietary chemicals to clean and remediate your home or business.  For information about any chemical in use, please ask us. We’ll be happy to the chemical’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS).


This is a chemical agent that kills living organisms.  We use a biocide to sanitize affected Cat 2 and 3 areas.

Air Movers

An air mover is a piece of equipment that will help dry your structure.  The number of air movers used will depend on the size of the affected property.


A dehumidifier is another piece of equipment that will remove moisture from the air and help the drying structure.  The number of dehumidifiers used will depend on the size of the affected property.


This is what we can save from your structure.  Usually, almost everything is salvageable in a Cat 1 water damage.  


These are items that we cannot save.  In Cat 2 or 3 water damages, the carpet will likely not be able to be saved.  All unsalvageable objects will be documented and reported to your insurance agency.

Furniture Pads or Blocks

You may see our technicians lifting your furniture and putting a small pad or block between it and the affected floor.  We are doing this to prevent stains onto the floor.

Hardwood Floor Cupping

This is an indication that the moisture content on the bottom of the wood is higher than the top of the wood.  The wood literally looks like it has formed the shape of a cup. If our technicians see this, they will prioritize extracting water from this area to help save the flooring.


If there is a smell left after all unsalvageable items have been removed, then our technicians will use various techniques to deodorize your property.  They may use a fogging technique or temporarily install an air scrubber with HEPA filtration.


This is a crucial, day-to-day step that we must do to monitor your home or commercial property.  Our technicians will visit your property every day to monitor the drying levels of affected areas and remove, add, or change equipment.


If any part of your property’s structure (anything that is attached to the building itself) is permanently damaged, our technicians will remove it.  After the area is dry, our reconstruction team will work with you and your insurance company to rebuild it.

Don't Forget your Sump Pump

6/24/2019 (Permalink)

A number of homes that SERVPRO of Libertyville/ North Chicago City/ Lake Bluff has been to recently was due to flooded basements or other living areas. During the initial inspection process to see what the cause of the water damage was and what was affected, it was discovered that a sump pump might have not been operating correctly and the damage was more extensive due to a malfunction of the sump pump.

There are some steps that homeowners can take to help maintain their sump pumps and help avoid a costly and time consuming water event in their homes :

Every 3-4 months

  • Clean pump inlet screen
  • Check power cord / make sure the cord is plugged in
  • Make sure the pump turns on by dumping a bucket or two of water into the sump, this will also help to determine if the float is operating correctly up and down.


  • Take the pump out of the sump to clean and inspect it for any obvious defects
  • Clean out the sump
  • grease /lubricate any necessary bearings on the pump. Check owners manual for maintenance instructions.
  • Lower the pump back into its correct position in the sump
  • Test the pump and float by dumping a bucket or two of water into the sump.

Most importantly, if you do not feel comfortable taking care of the maintenance or are not mechanically inclined, ask the company that installed it to do the maintenance or for a referral for a company that can. Regular maintenance of your sump pump will help keep your water prone areas safe from flooding and keep your home environment a safe livable space for years to come. A little maintenance will go a long way.

Dryer Fire Prevention

6/14/2019 (Permalink)

Lint buildup can cause house fires!

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 2,900 dryer fires are reported each year. These fires lead to a staggering national average of 35 million dollars in property damage, 100 injuries and 5 fatalities annually. With so much at risk, it's important that you understand what causes dryer fires and how you can prevent them from happening in your own home. To protect yourself, your family and your house.

DO: Clean the lint filter

A clogged lint filter is the leading contributing factor in residential dryer fires. The U.S. Fire Administration reports that failing to clean out the lint trap causes 34 percent of reported dryer fires every year.

Each time you unload the dryer, clean out the lint trap. Before putting the next load of clothes in, double check that the lint trap is completely clean to lower your risk of fire. A clean lint filter allows the dryer to run more efficiently, too, thus drying your clothes faster while also preventing your machine from overheating.

DON'T: Dry clothes without the lint filter

A dryer without its lint trap is an accident waiting to happen. The filter protects the dryer's inner workings from collecting lint. Without this defensive shield, a buildup of lint in the ducts can easily lead to a dryer vent fire.

To lower your risk, always use your dryer with the lint trap in place. In the event that your existing lint trap is worn or develops any holes, replace it immediately at your nearest home supplies store.

DO: Inspect the ducts regularly

Blocked ducts frequently cause dryer fires. To ensure your dryer is running properly, check your ducts about once a month to ensure there are no blockages. Some telltale signs that your ducts are clogged include the following indicators:

  • Your laundry is taking longer to dry
  • Exhaust air is failing to exit the vent
  • You suspect that your machine is overheating

Sometimes, a blockage occurs because the venting system itself is damaged. Other times, blockages may be occurring because of an accumulation of lint, animals building nests in the vents or snow building up over the outside vents.

If you notice any blockages, clean them out before using your dryer again. To clean your ducts, simply disconnect them, remove the blockages and reconnect it. If you notice any damage to the venting system, call in a professional to repair the issue.

DON'T: Overload the dryer

Stuffing too many wet clothes or bedding into a dryer can cause an excess of lint to accumulate. Since lint buildup reduces a dryer's ability to ventilate, the machine may quickly overheat and cause a fire to break out. Read your owner's manual to determine your machine's maximum hold to ensure you aren't over stuffing it.

DO: Replace outdated ducts

Older ducts made of plastic or foil are prone to sagging. These accordion-style ducts can easily trap lint in hard-to-reach spaces, increasing your risk of fire. To keep your home safe, replace your older models with new ducts designed with heavy-duty metal.

DON'T: Leave the dryer running unattended

Never go to sleep or leave the house while your dryer is running. If a fire breaks out, your ability to extinguish it or call emergency services right away can make all the difference between damage to your laundry room and entire loss of your home.

Despite our best efforts as homeowners, accidents still happen. If your home has been damaged by fire and smoke, call SERVPRO of Libertyville/North Chicago City/Lake Bluff. From soot removal, water restoration after the fire department leaves to rebuilding your home SERVPRO has you covered. 847-557-1080.

Warehouse Fire Prevention

6/12/2019 (Permalink)

Keep your warehouse safe with these simple tips

Warehouses are vital repositories for a business’ stock. They store most, if not all, of a business’ goods ready for sale or distribution.

Because they have such an important function—safeguarding the biggest source of a business’ income—warehouses can control a business’ fate. Any warehouse disaster, such as a fire, can have disastrous consequences, potentially shutting down the warehouse and forcing the entire business to cease operations.

Neglecting to shield your warehouse against fires means you could be sealing your business’ fate. As an owner, manager or warehouse operator, do not let all your hard work go up in smoke—adopt these simple measures to stamp out fires in your warehouse.

Fire Safety Legislation

The starting point for any successful workplace fire safety program is undertaking a risk assessment according to the fire safety legislation relevant for your area. Most risk assessments follow these five steps:

  1. Identify the fire hazards.
  2. Determine the people at risk.
  3. Evaluate, remove or reduce the risks.
  4. Record your findings, prepare an emergency plan and provide training.
  5. Review and update the fire risk assessment regularly.

Fire Safety Procedures

Using the information gleaned from your risk assessment, establish fire safety procedures that are tailored to your business’ fire risks. Train all employees in these procedures to ensure a unified response in the event of a fire. Institute an employee self-inspection program to maintain housekeeping standards and fire protection measures.

Fire Protection Tools

Assemble all the tools at your disposal to help fight warehouse fires. These include fire extinguishers, sprinklers and automatic fire detection systems. The number and type of fire extinguishers you require depends on the nature of your business. For Class A fire risks—fires involving solid materials such as wood, paper or textiles—the National Fire Protection Association recommends having one 2-A extinguisher for every 3,000 square feet. OSHA requires that all employees have access to an extinguisher within 75 feet of travel distance.

Locations that contain Class B flammables, such as workshops, storage areas, research operations, garages, warehouses or service and manufacturing areas, require that all employees have access to an extinguisher within 50 feet of travel distance.

But the tools you need for your warehouse depend on your business’ specific fire risks. Adopting a one-size-fits-all fire prevention program is inefficient and dangerous. Be sure to tailor your fire protection tools to the distinct fire risks you face.

Storage Arrangements

Failing to arrange clearly defined, adequate storage can intensify your fire risks for several reasons. Crowded aisles may block fire exits and make it harder for people to escape, cramped warehouses spread fire more easily, and storing hazardous materials such as flammable liquids with other warehouse stock greatly boosts the chances of a fire.

Arranging clearly defined, adequate storage is mostly common sense—keep electrical switchgear and heating equipment clear of storage, never let goods get within 18 inches of lighting, allow enough clearance between sprinkler heads and stored goods to make sure your sprinkler system can effectively douse the area, and segregate the hazardous and non-hazardous materials. Smart storage can greatly lower your fire risk.

Electrical Systems

Faulty electrical systems are hidden dangers. Make sure your warehouse’s electrical systems are correctly installed and maintained according to the relevant standards. Schedule a competent electrical contractor to inspect and test your electrical systems periodically so any defects can be fixed promptly. The longer you wait with faulty electrics, the bigger your fire risk grows.

Security Protection

Arson is one of the main causes of warehouse fires. Shield your business against this pervasive risk by installing internal and external security measures, such as security cameras and alarms, to deter trespassers and fortify your warehouse.


To comply with smoke-free legislation, you must prohibit smoking throughout your premises. You could provide an external smoking shelter, neither completely nor substantially enclosed. Construct smoking shelters using only non-flammable materials. No flammable materials should be allowed within 20 feet of the shelter.

Space Heating

Warehouses, with their wide, open spaces, can be very cold and difficult to heat—and heating such spaces can be extremely expensive. For this reason, the temptation to rely on portable heating can be strong. Resist the urge, as portable heating carries a much higher fire risk than fixed heating systems. Your energy bills from a fixed heating system will pale in comparison to the amount you spend recovering from a warehouse fire caused by portable heating.

Waste Removal

Accumulating waste in your warehouse is a major fire risk. Employees should remove all waste materials at the end of every working day and transfer them to external receptacles located at least 30 feet from any buildings and at least 6 feet from your site’s boundary.

If your site does not permit this type of storage, secure your waste in lockable metal containers located at a practical distance from your building.

End-of-day Inspection

At the end of each working day, a responsible and trained employee should inspect every area of the warehouse and log the results. The inspector should be checking that accumulated waste materials were removed, that fire prevention and security systems are functioning and that any hazardous material or equipment has been isolated as required.

Fire Pit Safety

6/11/2019 (Permalink)

Nothing beats a fire and some friends on a warm night

Relaxing around a fire pit is one of the best ways to spend a summer night. They are a perfect addition to your outdoor space, but they key to having fun is staying safe. Outdoor fire pit injuries have tripled in the last few years. 

Here are eight easy safety guidelines to follow to ensure you have fun without worry:

1. Choose the right location.

The first step to fire pit safety? Finding a level surface in an open area. Your fire pit should be at least 10 feet from your home, your neighbor’s yard and any plants. Overhanging branches, wooden decks, or fences are a big no-no. That means fire pits should never be beneath canopies, below covered patios or under trees.

2. Pick your fuel.

If you’re going for a nostalgic fire pit, a wood-burning pit is the way to go — enjoy the kindling and the crackling. Want fire on demand? Gas or propane pits offer a quick-lighting option. And, now, many store-bought fire pits allow you to switch between wood and gas.

3. Use the right wood.

Make sure to use seasoned hard woods. Construction materials like plywood can release toxic fumes, white soft woods can spark and pop excessively. Only use wood that’s short enough to fit entirely in your pit, so it doesn’t stick out.

4. Don’t use fuel accelerates.

Like with fireplaces, using fuel accelerates like lighter fluid is extremely unsafe. Not only can they release toxic fumes, but they can start an explosion or cause your fire to grow too quickly.

5. Buy and use a screen.

Fire pit screens are one of the best way to keep your fire in the pit. You’ll protect your guests from errant embers and sparks that could ignite dry material like clothing. Choose a screen of heat-resistant metal like cast iron or steel.

6. Always check the weather report and burn status.

Windy days are dangerous for fires, as it can unexpectedly spread. Before heading out to the fire pit, check with your county’s air quality department. When pollution levels are high, this government body may issue “no burn” restrictions to limit particulate matter and carbon dioxide levels.

7. Be smart around fire.

You wouldn’t leave your children around an unattended pool, right? Always have an adult present when the fire is burning. Don’t wear flowy clothing that could flutter into the flame. Don’t drink excessively when burning a fire. And never leave a fire pit burning overnight.

8. Alert your insurance agent.

You may need to disclose your fire pit for your homeowners insurance policy. Reach out to your Farm Bureau agent to make sure your yard and home are properly protected.

Preparing your Business for High Winds

6/4/2019 (Permalink)

Broken windows can allow water and debris to get inside your business

Wind damage can devastate a business in Libertyville, especially if there is little preparation done before the storm occurs. By preparing your business for high winds, you can help to prevent your business from sustaining damage.

1. Protect Windows

When high-speed winds occur, windows often are one of the first parts of a building to become damaged. Broken windows can allow debris and water to get inside your property and make interior damage more likely. With excessive amounts of water in your business, you may need to contact water and storm damage restoration professionals. In order to decrease the likelihood of your windows breaking, however, it can be helpful to use storm shutters or to board up the windows with plywood.

2. Ensure Important Documents Are Safe

Recovering documents after storm damage can be difficult and time-consuming. Before a storm, it can be useful to know where your important documents are stored and to keep the documents in containers that are water-resistant. Additionally, it can be wise to keep printed copies of your documents at another location and to make digital copies in case you cannot access the printed copies.

3. Inspect the Exterior of Your Business

Prior to a storm, it’s often wise to examine the exterior of your building and to remove any hazards that could cause damage. Trees that are leaning over your building, trees that are rotted and clogged gutters can all cause damage to your property. It can be helpful to clear gutters and to trim limbs that are dead or that are hanging over your building. If a particular tree is likely to fall when wind occurs, it may be necessary to cut it down entirely.

Taking steps to prevent wind and storm damage can help to save you the time and money of restoration. Protecting your windows, keeping documents safe and inspecting the exterior of your business can help you to prepare your business for a storm with high winds.

Important Elements of Water Damage

6/4/2019 (Permalink)

Water damage can quickly take over your home

Water Damage Mitigation Specialists Prevent Spreading of Moisture in Residences

When your house experiences invading rainwater, flooding, or plumbing failures, SERVPRO is prepared to help out with your emergency. Homes often have beautiful wood flooring and hold family treasures that homeowners intend to pass down to younger generations. Both of these can become damaged if emergencies do not receive the attention they require.

Residents can rely on SERVPRO to arrive with the necessary equipment to start the job and finish it quickly, so everything is "Like it never even happened." A large portion of our work involves water mitigation services.

Through mitigation, we stop the spread of damaging water and moisture. Keeping dry items and materials from ever becoming saturated means we eliminate the need for restoration or replacement in these locations. While repairing damaged materials and belongings usually carries a lower cost than replacement expenses do, preventing damage, to begin with, is even more cost-effective.

Because moisture moves to dry locations, we use machines that pull water vapor out of the air. As the air steadily becomes drier, air movers can continually remove moisture out of outer layers of materials, furniture and other items inside your home. We use moisture meter readers to assess the percentage of humidity contained in the different things, preventing the possibility of over-drying.

Many things release moisture into the air more quickly than other materials. Drywall and other highly porous items let moisture enter the air faster than denser materials, like concrete or brick. We apply heat in some cases, as well as open windows and increase the number of air movers and desiccant machines when an area contains more slowly-drying materials.

Knowing the rate at which different materials dry helps us keep moisture from invading dry areas without over-drying areas susceptible to damage from too little humidity. When your home needs specialists who care about the result in your  home, call SERVPRO of Libertyville/North Chicago City/Lake Bluff. We can help clean up the affected areas and keep the rest of your house safe.

Lightning and Thunder Precautions

5/28/2019 (Permalink)

When lightning strikes

According to the website,lightning strikes the United States about 25 million times a year and kills an average of 47 people each year. Do you know some of the suggested safety measures to take in the event of lightning? What structures are safe to seek shelter ? What measures can you take to ensure your safety, your family's safety and even your pets?

Here are some safety suggestions and guidelines to follow:

  • Do not use phones that are attached by cords, cell phones are safe alternatives.
  • Do not touch T.V`s ,computers or cords but you can use remote controls correctly.
  • Do not shower, wash your hands or do dishes. Avoid plumbing.
  • Do not lean on exterior doors or windows that might have metal components that connect the outside to the inside .
  • Do not use your balcony, carport, open garage areas ,porches and avoid lying on concrete flooring or leaning against concrete walls
  • Do not leave your dog outside in it`s dog house, a dog house is not safe shelter and if the doghouse is chained to a tree, there is even a higher risk to your pet. BRING YOUR PETS INSIDE DURING A SEVERE STORM.
  • Do not unplug your equipment during a storm. Typical surge protectors will not protect your equipment from a lightning strike.

I guess grandma was right when she said get off the phone, do not shower and turn off the television when there would be a thunderstorm. I assumed she was being overprotective but she was right. Here at SERVPRO of Libertyville/North Chicago City/Lake Bluff we want our community to stay safe and follow precautions. Personal belongings and property can be replaced , lives can not.

Breathe easier during allergy season

5/28/2019 (Permalink)

Allergy season is underway

The month of May has been declared “National Asthma and Allergy Month” since 1984 by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. As the weather warms and plants,flowers and trees begin to bloom they release different types of pollen and the chance of an allergy episode or an asthma attack increases exponentially. The OTC options and quality of allergy fighting medication has gotten better over the years and with better asthma medications, allergy and asthma symptoms can be controlled. Another important step to take in managing allergies and asthma is environmental, meaning your home.

An important aspect of taking care of allergies and asthma is home cleanliness. Everyday dust, animal hair and even pest droppings can affect allergies and asthma. Maintaining a clean home is vital to have a healthy breathing environment. Here at SERVPRO of Libertyville/North Chicago City/Lake Bluff we can help with your cleaning needs. A deep cleaning of your wall to wall carpets and your area rugs will help to decrease dirt and allergen build up in your home. A thorough cleaning of those spots that rarely get attention such as behind large pieces of furniture and corners of barely used rooms need cleaning attention too.

Reducing the amount of dirt and allergens in your home will help the asthma and allergy sufferers in your life breathe a lot clearer and focus on the life around them and not the symptoms of their ailments. SERVPRO of Libertyville/North Chicago City/Lake Bluff will help with that deep clean of your Lake County home.

Skunk smell in your house?

5/9/2019 (Permalink)

Sometimes just cleaning your pet won't completely get rid of a skunk smell after it's been sprayed

The weather is changing, getting warmer and the animals are out. Mamas are leaving their babies in search of food and trying to hide them. Unfortunately, a skunk has hid her babies by your home and your pet found them and got sprayed by the protective momma. After cleaning up your pet you’ve tried opening windows, running fans, changing the air filters, and retracing your steps that your pet ran after being sprayed. However, your home still carries the slight unpleasant odor.

After calling someone to remove the skunks from your property, SERVPRO® technicians have the ability to get rid of the smell by deodorizing and neutralizing the odor. Our technicians will arrive on the location to determine the proper cleaning method from carpet, upholstery, or drapery cleaning. With our specialized products our SERVPRO® of Libertyville/ North Chicago/Lake Bluff’s team is ready to help make your home smelling fresh again.