Recent Storm Damage Posts
Preventing Frozen Pipes
Frigid winter temperatures can cause pipes to freeze. While we can’t control the weather, there are things we can do to prevent pipes from freezing. We’ve pulled together tips to help prevent frozen pipes and a list of suggestions for you to follow if they do.
Frozen water pipes and the damage they can cause are a reality for thousands of people each year. That’s especially the case when you are at below freezing temperatures for an extended period of time.
The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety says a burst pipe can cause more than $5,000 in water damage. That’s because the damage can be extensive.
To prevent pipes from freezing and causing major damage, follow these steps:
- Drain water from pipes that are likely to freeze. This includes your swimming pool and sprinkler water supply lines.
- Disconnect any hoses from the outside of your home, drain the hoses and store them in the garage. Make sure to close the indoor valves supplying these outdoor access points.
- Insulate the area around vents and light fixtures. This helps prevent heat from escaping into the attic.
- Seal any wall cracks. Be sure to pay careful attention to the areas around utility service lines.
- Open kitchen cabinets. This allows the warm air to circulate around the pipes.
- Keep the garage doors closed to protect water lines.
- Allow your faucets to drip cold water on the coldest days. The movement will make it harder for the water to freeze.
- Keep your thermostat at the same temperature day and night. Never let it fall below 55 degrees Fahrenheit when you leave your home.
- Ensure you have proper seals on all doors and windows.
- Place a 60-watt bulb in areas where you’re concerned about pipes freezing. Make sure there are no combustible materials near the bulb.
- Take swift action if the pipes located inside an exterior wall are freezing. Cut a hole in the wall toward the inside of the house to expose those pipes to warmer air.
Signs of frozen pipes
One of the earliest signs of a frozen pipe is when no water comes out of your faucet when you turn it on. If you notice that, first head to the basement and check to see that the water is still turned on and that you don’t have a leak. Once you’ve confirmed these two things, continue your inspection to make sure one of your pipes has not burst.
If your search reveals that your pipes are frozen but none have ruptured, you have two choices:
- Call a plumber to help thaw your frozen pipes. This is a good idea if you don’t think you can safely thaw the pipes yourself, you don’t know where the frozen pipes are or you can’t access the frozen area.
- Attempt to thaw the frozen pipes yourself. Be aware this option can be dangerous if not done correctly.
If you attempt to thaw the frozen pipes yourself, keep the following tips in mind:
- Keep your faucet open. Water and steam will be created during the thawing process, and your pipes need an opening to discharge this. Keeping the faucet open also allows for moving water to run through the pipe, which will expedite the thawing process.
- Apply heat to the section of the pipe that is frozen. This can be done by wrapping an electronic heating pad around the pipe, scouring the area with a hair dryer or both. If you lack either of these items, using towels soaked in hot water will help as well. Never use a blowtorch, propane or kerosene heaters, a charcoal stove or any other open flame device to thaw your frozen pipes. You should also avoid using a space heater unless you are sure the area is clear of any flammable material.
- Continue applying heat until water flow returns to normal. Once you have successfully thawed the pipe, turn on other faucets in your home to check for any more frozen water pipes.
Basic Flood Safety Tips
More than half of flood-related drownings occur when someone drives into hazardous water.
Floods are intense and dangerous. While waters may look calm, don’t be fooled. A mere 6 inches of water can take down a full-grown man, sweeping him into the often unrelenting currents. If you are ever caught in a flood, you should be aware of basic flood safety, and review the five safety tips below.
The first safety tip is to listen to warnings and evacuate, if so ordered. Never assume to know better than the agencies that are warning you. Also, keep in mind that when areas are evacuated it likely means that emergency services will not be available in those areas for the time being.
2. Turn around. Don’t Drown!
If you are unable or unwilling to evacuate your home, then whatever you do avoid areas that are flooding around you and attempt to stay on dry land. The adage of “Turn around. Don’t drown!” is not to be taken lightly. To remain safe during the flood, it is essential that you avoid rising water for as long as possible.
3. Avoid Bridges
While bridges may appear to be dry and stable, if there is fast-moving water directly underneath them, it is basic flood safety to avoid them because they can be washed away with little warning.
4. Listen to Emergency Broadcasts
If you have a radio or cellular service during the flood, be sure to stay tuned into NOAA Weather Radio, EAS, or a local alert system to stay up-to-date on any further developments in your area. These stations can provide valuable information about rescue developments and any new storm surges.
5. Elevate Yourself
The most important element of surviving a flood is to elevate yourself. Try to remain above the rising water but do not allow yourself to get trapped in a room with no exits, like an attic.
While these flood safety tips cover the basics, you’ll want to check with the local emergency management office or other experts in your area to verify any other necessary safety precautions.
What's the Most Common Cause of Homeowner Insurance Claims?
The Northeast and the Southern states are both at high risk for wind-related damage.
You may be surprised to learn that the leading cause of homeowner insurance claims is not fire damage or water damage. It’s wind and hail damage.
According to The Insurance Information Institute, national statistics (2010 to 2014) from property & casualty insurance companies show that 3 out of 100 homeowners filed claims in the wind/hail category. The number of claims caused by wind/hail was nearly double the second most frequent reason for homeowner claims. In that second position? Water damage and freezing.
Fires Cause The Most Damage
Water damage and freezing claims were made by nearly 19 out of 1,000 homeowners. Though fire claims are much rarer—fewer than four claims per 1,000 homes—fires cause the most property damage. The average fire claim in the U.S. was for $39,791. By contrast, the average wind or hail claim totaled $8,041.
One Company Paid $2.4 Billion in 2014 Homeowner Claims
The losses covered by just one insurance company are large. Damage caused by wind and hail cost State Farm and its policyholders more than $2.4 billion in 2014, according to the insurer. Texas was the state with the most wind/hail losses, followed by Illinois, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Iowa, South Dakota and Kansas.
Read Our Other Blog Posts
If you’re concerned about making sure your house is well prepared for a wind, hail, fire, water, or other natural disaster, look through the many blog posts here on our website. We cover many specifics. We try to give you information that will protect your family, home, and business from natural disasters.
Visit Your Insurance Company's Website
Go to your homeowner insurance company's website. Many insurance companies publish tips on their websites on how you can avoid claims. The Travelers website talks about installing water sensors to keep small leaks from becoming big ones. At Nationwide’s website, you can learn how to make sure your home is covered for all it’s full value. State Farm and Allstate also have numerous blog posts with tips for homeowners and renters.
For Cleanup Or Restoration Needs Call SERVPRO of South Madison County (256) 533-5335
Lightning Safety Tips
Lightning from thunderstorms injures hundreds of people in the U.S. every year and kills dozens. These accidents are easily preventable if you follow these simple safety tips.
1) Listen to the radio and television for severe thunderstorm warnings. The National Weather Service issues warnings for counties and even sends out text messages now to our mobile phones when storms are on their way. Pay attention and heed their warnings for safety.
2) Remember the 30 second rule. If there is not 30 seconds in between the time you see lightning and hear thunder, it’s time to go indoors.
3) Lightning typically strikes the tallest object around so if there is a storm, move indoors if at all possible or into a hard top car if there are no buildings around.
4) Once inside, stay away from windows, plumbing and electrical. If lightning strikes outside, it can carry inside via land lines.
5) Get out of boats and away from bodies of water. If you can hear thunder than you are close enough to get struck by lightning.
6) If you are caught outside, avoid standing by tall isolated objects such as trees. Find a grouping of small trees surrounded by taller ones, avoid bodies of water, and if there is only open spaces, look for a dry low-lying area and try to make yourself the smallest target possible. Do not lay flat on the ground, rather crouch with your head between your knees. Sheds, outhouses and tents provide no safety so keep this in mind when you are hiking or camping. Always think ahead and be prepared in the event that you are caught in a thunderstorm and if possible, turn around on your trip and head home.
Prepare for a thunderstorm
All thunderstorms are dangerous and produce lightning. On average, lightning kills 51 people and injures hundreds more in the US each year. Dangers associated with thunderstorms include strong winds, flash flooding, hail, and even tornadoes.
To prepare for a thunderstorm:
- Trim or remove tree limbs near your home. Remove any dead or rotting trees.
- Secure outdoor items.
- Postpone or cancel outdoor activities.
- Go inside - if you can't reach a building, get in a hard-top vehicle.
- Secure doors and windows. Close blinds, curtains, or shutters.
- Unplug electronics.
When a thunderstorm occurs:
- Remember this phrase: "When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors". Go inside during thunderstorms.
- Listen to a battery-operated radio such as a NOAA Weather Radio for updates and information.
- Unplug electronics and appliances to prevent damage from lightning-caused power surges.
- Water conducts electricity. Water-based activities and chores should be avoided during a thunderstorm.
- Windows, porches, and doorways can be dangerous in storms - stay inside.
- If you can't get inside, try to avoid natural lightning rods - like a large tree in an open field, and try not to be the tallest thing on a hill, open field, or beach.
- Try not to touch metal - including your car - metal conducts electricity.
- Stay in your car if you're driving. Pull over and turn on your hazard lights until heavy rain ends.
After the storm passes:
- Never drive through a flooded roadway. Turn around, don't drown!
- Stay away from storm-damaged areas.
- Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or local radio and television stations for updated information or instructions.
- Help people who may require special assistance, such as infants, children and the elderly or those with access or functional needs.
- Stay away from downed power lines and report them immediately.
- Keep a close eye on your pets to keep them safe.
The professionals at SERVPRO of South Madison County are highly trained and certified. Our Professionals are equipped with the knowledge they need to help with any water or fire loss.
SERVPRO of South Madison County
We are here to help 24/7!
Clogged Gutters Can Worsen Potential Flood Damage
Gutters should not overflow and all surface water should be directed away from your home.
Does your home have a basement or crawl space? If so, you should take some time to inspect how heavy rains flow from your roof. An clogged gutter will overflow and dump water right next to your foundation which could lead to a water damage in the basement or crawl space.
Inspect and clean your home’s gutters and downspouts at least once a year. It may seem that all storm damage results from rising waters, but the reality is that the rainfall cascading off your home’s roof could contribute quite a bit to that. If your home’s gutters and downspouts are not properly directing this runoff, you could end up with a damaged foundation, roof damage and more flooding than you would have had otherwise.
Also, make sure your downspout extensions direct water away from your home's foundation. They should extend out at least 3 feet to an area where the water will drain away from your home.
Next time the Huntsville/Madison County area is hit with heavy rains, take a minute to inspect around your home for these issues. If despite your best efforts to prevent flood damage, you do experience flooding in your home, it is important to get help from a professional storm damage company as quickly as possible. SERVPRO of South Madison County can respond immediately to storm and flooding conditions.
Huntsville's Regulations & Planning To Minimize Flooding
According to the National Weather Service (NOAA). "Approximately 75% of all Presidential disaster declarations are associated with flooding."
With all of the rain over the weekend, many communities in the Tennessee Valley have experienced some flooding issues. The most common cause of flooding is water due to rain that accumulates faster than soils can absorb it or rivers can carry it away. While the weather can't be controlled, there are proactive measures that can be taken to minimize flooding.
Thirteen percent of Huntsville’s developed property is within floodplains. Here are some steps that city officials have put into place to minimize flooding:
- Huntsville officials established strict flood mitigation regulations in 1991 that have been constantly re-examined and updated
- All new commercial and residential development must have retaining areas or draining that can manage the flow of excess water
- Any building within the flood zones must be elevated or flood-proof
- Homes in newer neighborhoods in south Huntsville with a proximity to the river and the feeder creeks must be a foot higher off the ground than standard
- Public Works, Landscape Management and Engineering share the role in keeping waterways free of debris, though landowners must assume a role in clearing banks and ditches adjacent to their property
- Land in floodplain area that couldn’t be adopted as commercial or residential has been transformed into greenspace (recreational areas for walking, hiking and biking)
- Most Huntsville residential draining systems are designed for a 10-year storm, meaning an event that has a 10 percent chance of happening each year
- Huntsville is a participant in a National Flood Insurance program through FEMA and also provides updates to residents whose homes are in floodplains
Our Work In Houston
For the last month, we have had crews in Houston helping other SERVPRO franchises clean up flood damaged homes and businesses. We frequently send crews out of town to help other SERVPRO franchises when a large disaster such as a hurricane or flood affects their area.
Our first round of crews left Huntsville on August 29th. They were loaded up with equipment and supplies and had quite a long drive. Because flood damaged materials must be removed for proper restoration, they faced hard work removing flooring and drywall day after day. They also work long hours and weekends. After two weeks, we always swap out our crews. The original crews need and deserve a rest after all of their hard work and the new crews are rested and ready to help those who need it.
We operate on a wait list and were given a list of 50 homeowners needing our help when we arrived. Eventually that list grew to 80 names. Our primary focus is to remove damaged materials and dry out the home as quickly as possible to prevent secondary damage and mold growth. We also want to save as much of the homeowner's belongings as possible.
Our crews received raving reviews from many of the homeowners that they worked so hard to help. We are very proud of their efforts and hard work!
Great job, SERVPRO TEAM!
Flood Damage Can Lead To Mold Problems
Mold can be a growing problem in the aftermath of floods.
When the Huntsville area is hit with heavy rains, it sometimes results in flood damage to homes and businesses. Basements are a common problem for homeowners. Flood waters also enter a home or business through a garage or other entry door.
SERVPRO usually fields lots of calls in our office after flooding. Homeowners are anxious to get back in their homes. Some call us for help. Some call for advice. And, unfortunately, many don't call us and simply try to clean up the water damage themselves.
Those people often end up calling us later when they discover mold growing. Mold grows best in damp areas where humidity is high. Moisture in basements, walls, carpets and wood provide an environment for mold to flourish.
If your home or business suffered flood or water damage recently, please take the time to inspect the area carefully. If you see mold or suspect mold may be present, give SERVPRO a call.
Why You Should Repair Minor Storm Damage Quickly
Left alone, minor damage often becomes major damage.
In the Huntsville/Madison County region, some storms may not seem very powerful, but weaker storms can be deceiving. Hearing about a predicted minor storm may cause you to think that there’s little possibility your Huntsville home or business will suffer storm damage. However, storm damage doesn’t always mean 3 feet of water in your basement or a 100 foot spruce tree sitting in your bedroom.
Storm damage as minor as losing a few roof shingles or a broken window can hurt. Both of these situations and many others require repairs. Left alone, minor damage (like a slow leak or a little crack) can worsen over time. Preventing minor storm damage from becoming a major issue can stop higher repair bills from sneaking up on you.
For Cleanup Or Restoration Needs Call SERVPRO of South Madison County (256)533-5335 Anytime
Minor Leads To Major
Huntsville homeowners and business owners who don’t repair minor damage often are forced to face much greater damage in time. SERVPRO of South Madison County can help you make minor repairs before they become major headaches. By not procrastinating you avoid the risk of major repairs and major inconveniences in the future.
Welcome Mat For Rodents
Any opening (missing shingles, peeling siding, etc.) sends a welcome mat for water and insects, and rodents to enter. Larger openings in your roof can permit rodents and birds to come in and make their homes in your attic space. Some rodents are more damaging than others and won't stay in the attic but will find their way into other areas of your home.
Extensive Restoration Training
Because we are SERVPRO of South Madison County, we have extensive training in all aspects of repairs and restorations. That’s true for both residential and commercial properties. We have completed jobs of all sizes over the years, and we can successfully handle any size disaster, including the one you’re facing. Our certifications cover the many different cleaning and restorative types of work that storm damage can cause.
We are ready to restore your home or business to its previous beautiful condition. Minor repairs now can provide major protection for your home or business later.
Heavy Rains Expected? SERVPRO is Ready!
Heavy rainfall forecast for Huntsville and Madison County between Thursday afternoon and Sunday morning
Whenever heavy rains are expected in the Huntsville/Madison County area, SERVPRO of South Madison County understands the potential for serious problems for homeowners and businesses. If you find yourself in over your head with water problems call your qualified SERVPRO team today and we'll get you back on track fast, so fast you'll wonder why you ever hesitated to make the call at all!
Do you have a water damage, roof leak, sump pump failure, or need any general clean up from water problems and/or flooding? Call us today and we'll make it all go away!
SERVPRO of South Madison County proudly serves those in need! We will be on site quickly and our staff will give you the personalized attention you deserve. We specialize in the cleanup of water damage, fire damage, smoke damage, mold removal, trauma cleanup, vandalism cleanup, carpet cleaning and duct cleaning. Let us help you make it, “Like it never even happened.”
For Cleanup Or Restoration Needs, Call SERVPRO of South Madison County 256-533-5335
When Storms or Floods hit Madison County, SERVPRO is ready!
Our highly trained crews are ready to respond 24/7 to storm or flood damage in Madison County.
SERVPRO of South Madison County specializes in storm and flood damage restoration. Our crews are highly trained and we use specialized equipment to restore your property to its pre-storm condition.
Since we are locally owned and operated, we are able to respond quicker with the right resources, which is extremely important. A fast response lessens the damage, limits further damage, and reduces the restoration cost.
Resources to Handle Floods and Storms
When storms hit Madison County, we can scale our resources to handle a large storm or flooding disaster. We can access equipment and personnel from a network of 1,650 Franchises across the country and elite Disaster Recovery Teams that are strategically located throughout the United States.
Have Storm or Flood Damage? Call Us Today 256-533-5335
Flood Damages and Flood Insurance In North Alabama
In North Alabama we know how drastic the weather can be and how suddenly it can change. It is important to know the terms associated with flooding and what kind of coverage you have on your home.
- Flood Watch: Flooding is possible.
- Flash Flood Watch: Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground.
- Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
- Flash Flood Warning: A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground immediately.
Knowing About Flood Insurance:
- Regular homeowners insurance does not cover flood water damages and when purchased from you insurance company is ran through the National Flood Insurance Program.
- If there is sewage back up caused by a flood then it would be only be covered by flood insurance.
- Upon the purchase of flood insurance there is a 30 Day waiting period before the insurance kicks in, so it is important to plan ahead.
- Find out if you are in a flood plain. If you are not you want to calculate the risk of not having flood insurance.