Factors which Help Odors Penetrate
- Surface Porosity – The porous nature of building material varies – Hardwoods are less porous than soft wood. The types of paint used will change the porous nature of building materials. Flat paint does little to protect against odor penetration while paints with a high gloss finish may make a surface impervious to odor and moisture penetration. Items like carpet, drapes, and upholstery are all excellent vessels for odor retention.
- Heat - Heat causes porous surfaces to expand, allowing odors to penetrate even deeper. When heat is removed, the surfaces cool, contract, and trap the odor particles. This is why odors resulting from a fire are so pungent and challenging to neutralize.
- Heavy concentrations of residue - The more concentrated the residue from substances causing the odor, the greater the surface area of materials that it can impact.
- Exposure time - The longer a surface is exposed to odor particles, the greater the number of odor particles that will penetrate porous surfaces. The greater the number of odor particles that penetrate porous surface areas the stronger the odors are likely to be.
Environmental factors also influence our reception of odors. Odor molecules are very volatile; they vaporize easily. High humidity levels help dissolve and carry odor vapors to the nose. This makes odors in humid air seem stronger than those in dry air. Weather conditions thus impact how evident odors are to people; odors become more detectable by the nose as the humidity increases. Our technicians alert our clients about these potential environmental impacts. It is quite possible, even months later, for odors to reappear during times of increased humidity or temperature. That is not so say that the odor neutralization process was incomplete, but rather the environmental conditions have changed and become more conducive to odor reception. In some cases additional neutralization may be necessary.
Next up - Deodorization methods and basic procedures.
Odor remediation projects tend to be complex. Odors may be real or imaginary. Furthermore, interpretation of odor as good versus bad varies from client to client. As such every remediation project presents a unique set of challenges to our technicians. Over the coming weeks I would like to provide insight into some of these challenges and how to properly neutralize odor. To begin with we need to better understand how we as humans process odor, what odor is, why odor remains, and finally environmental conditions that may enhance our reception of odor.
Humans depend on their nose as the best “instrument” for detecting odor. Odors result from airborne chemicals, gases, or tiny particles. As we breathe, these substances are absorbed by the mucous membranes in our nose and mouth. Receptors in the nose send a message to the brain, where the odor sensation is interpreted. Each individual reacts to odors differently in detecting whether odors are present and how intense they are. Interestingly there are two types of odors — real and imagined.
- Real odor is the sensation of smell caused by a real substance. Odor molecules interact with olfactory nerve cells in the nose. The olfactory nerves send a message to the brain that is interpreted by the olfactory lobe.
- Imaginary or psychological odor is what people think they smell. They are stimulated by a given set of circumstances and strong impressions formed from similar circumstances before. Some people think they smell something because of the circumstances, not because of an odor actually being present. Imaginary odors are sometimes called heightened awareness odors, because circumstances have made the individual more aware of odor than he or she normally would be, and thus more likely to smell something that no one else smells.
Moreover, the term odor describes both good and bad smells. Whether an odor smells good or bad is in the mind of the individual. Some odors — such as putrefying flesh — are considered unpleasant by almost everyone. Other odors — such as gasoline or paint fumes— may be considered good odors by some people, but extremely offensive by others. The interpretation of whether a smell is good or bad differs from one individual to the next.
Odor particles are tiny. Tiny objects are measured in microns, and odor particles range in size from .1 (one tenth) of a micron to about four (4) microns. To put these sizes in perspective take a look at the period at the end of this sentence. That period is about 150 microns in size or 38 times bigger than the largest possible odor particle! The extremely small size of odor particles allows them to penetrate surfaces easily. It is this penetration into building materials and furniture which result in odors remaining in our environments. This is also what makes the odor neutralization process at times challenging.
NEXT - Factors which Help Odors Penetrate
Why Should you have your Commercial HVAC System Cleaned?
Why should you have your HVAC system cleaned?
NADCA addresses this question in a short simple answer: because they get dirty over time and they have the potential to contain large amounts of dust and particulates.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 25 to 40 percent of the energy used for heating or cooling is wasted. Contaminants in the heating and cooling system cause it to work harder and shorten the life of your system. Although filters are used, the heating and cooling system still gets dirty through normal use. When an HVAC system is clean, it doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain the temperature you desire. As a result, less energy is used, leading to improved cost-
Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air quality is one concern that building managers and building inhabitants have when they decide to investigate HVAC system. Through normal occupation in a building, we generate a great deal of contaminants and air pollutants, such as dander, dust, and chemicals. These contaminants are pulled into the HVAC system and re-circulated 5 to 7 times per day, on average. Over time, this re-circulation causes a build-up of contaminants in the ductwork.
While a contaminated HVAC system doesn't necessarily mean unhealthy air, the situation may be contributing to larger health issues or harboring contaminants that could cause serious problems for people with respiratory health conditions, autoimmune disorders or some environmental allergies.
Hmmm....is that Mold?
Suspicion of hidden mold
You may suspect hidden mold if a building smells moldy, but you cannot see the source, or know there has been water damage. Mold may be hidden in places such as the
- back side of dry wall,
- the top side of ceiling tiles,
- the underside of carpets and pads, etc.
Other possible locations of hidden mold include areas
- inside walls around pipes (with leaking or condensing pipes),
- the surface of walls behind furniture (where condensation forms),
- inside ductwork
- in roof materials above ceiling tiles (due to roof leaks or insufficient insulation).
Investigating hidden mold problems
Investigating hidden mold problems may be difficult and will require caution when the investigation involves disturbing potential sites of mold growth. For example, removal of wallpaper can lead to a massive release of spores if there is mold growing on the underside of the paper. If you believe that you may have a hidden mold problem, please reach out to SERVPRO Newton/Wellesley and we’ll take a look right away.
Should I get Flood Insurance?
Should I get flood insurance always crosses a homeowners mind after a situation has arose and unfortunately in most cases, that option is too late. According to FEMA, Standard homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover flood. Flood is most often called an excluded peril, meaning it’s not covered. You should consider flood insurance even if you’re not required to purchase it or if you live outside a high-risk flood zone, called a Special Flood Hazard Area.
Flood zones are areas where there is a higher statistical probability of a flood occurring, but that doesn’t mean floods don’t occur elsewhere. In fact, in Texas over the last five years, a number of floods exceeded the statistical probability, putting more homes and properties in harm’s way than were expected.
Flood insurance can protect you from the catastrophic financial impact of flooding. Just a few inches of water can mean thousands of dollars of loss to your home or business. As long as your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), as a homeowner or business owner you can get building and contents coverage included in your NFIP policy. Renters can get coverage for contents only. Policies issued by the NFIP pay even if a federal disaster is not declared.
Where can I buy flood insurance?
When should I buy a policy?
As soon as possible. FEMA urges you to buy flood insurance before a flood event occurs. NFIP cannot pay a claim if you don’t have a policy in effect when damage occurs. An insurance policy from NFIP becomes effective 30 days after you buy it, unless the purchase is associated with the origination, renewal or extension of a federally backed loan on property in a high-risk area.
I am not in a flood hazard area, but I’d like to purchase flood insurance. Is this possible?
Yes, as long as your community participates in NFIP. You are eligible to purchase a flood policy with the same coverage you would receive if you lived in a high-risk area. A Preferred Risk Policy (a lower-cost flood insurance policy) provides both building and contents coverage for properties in moderate-to-low risk areas for one price.
Can I get flood insurance if I'm renting a property?
Yes. If you live in a community that participates in NFIP and you are a renter, you can get flood insurance to cover the contents of your home, apartment or business at a rented location.
June thru August is the Peak Season for Lightning Fires
According to the National Fire Protection Association, During 2007-2011, U.S. local fire departments responded to an estimated average of 22,600 fires per year that were started by lightning. These fires caused an average of nine civilian deaths, 53 civilian injuries, and $451 million in direct property damage per year. Most of these fires occurred outdoors, but most associated deaths, injuries, and property damage were associated with home fires.
Lightning-related fires are more common in June through August and in the late afternoon and evening. Peak seasons for lightning-related fires vary by region, as do weather patterns in general.
In addition to the fires reported to local fire departments, federal and state wildland firefighting agencies reported an average of 9,000 wildland fires started by lightning to the National Interagency Fire Center per year in 2008-2012. These fires tended to be larger than fires started by human causes. The average lightning-caused fire burned 402 acres, nine times the average of 45 acres seen in human-caused wildland fires.
In addition to causing fires, lightning is dangerous on its own. Data from the National Weather Service show that in 2008-2012, an average of 29 people per year died as a result of lightning strikes. The most common location for these deaths was outside or in an open area. The average number of lightning flashes per square mile varies considerably by state, as does the death rate from lightning incidents.
What to Do During a Thunder and Lightning Storm
- Know your area’s risk for thunderstorms. In most places, they can occur year-round and at any hour.
- Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.
- Identify nearby, sturdy buildings close to where you live, work, study, and play.
- Cut down or trim trees that may be in danger of falling on your home.
- Consider buying surge protectors, lightning rods, or a lightning protection system to protect your home, appliances, and electronic devices.
- When thunder roars, go indoors. A sturdy building is the safest place to be during a thunderstorm.
- Pay attention to weather reports and warnings of thunderstorms. Be ready to change plans, if necessary, to be near shelter.
- When you receive a thunderstorm warning or hear thunder, go inside immediately.
- If indoors, avoid running water or using landline phones. Electricity can travel through plumbing and phone lines.
- Protect your property. Unplug appliances and other electric devices. Secure outside furniture.
- If boating or swimming, get to land and find a sturdy, grounded shelter or vehicle immediately.
- If necessary, take shelter in a car with a metal top and sides. Do not touch anything metal.
- Avoid flooded roadways. Turn Around. Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
8 Most Common Places for Mold Growth
Household mold primarily thrives in damp, humid areas, such as basements, showers and areas around heating and cooling appliances. Mold in homes can also occur in carpets, ventilation ducts and crawlspaces. The best way to guard against mold in your house is to ensure there are no active leaks or areas where moisture is collecting regularly. The most common places where mold is found are:
- Basements or cellars that have been flooded
- Underneath kitchen and bathroom sinks
- Underneath or behind refrigerators
- Behind walls that also house plumbing
- Stacks of damp or wet newspaper or cardboard boxes
- Around air-conditioning units
- Wallboard or around windows that leak
- Under carpeting that may have become wet
By regularly inspecting common areas for mold in your home to ensure there are no leaks or other sources of moisture that could contribute to mold growth, you should be able to steer clear of the expensive and unhealthy problems mold in houses can cause.
Dangers of Rotted Wood
Occasionally, it is very obvious to the homeowner when their house is in need for repair. For instance water gushing from a pipe burst.
However, unlike major water leaks or broken windows, rotting wood can easily escape notice, unless you specifically look for it. And unfortunately, like a spot of rust on a car, wood rot can spread far and wide, making it especially dangerous to your home’s wooden building materials.
Be on the lookout for any sign of soft, brittle, or crumbly wood. In extreme cases rotten wood may even disintegrate as you touch it.
As you poke around, keep your eyes peeled for discoloration, which is a sign of fungi and rot. Also, if you find a surface with peeling paint that feels damp, you may have just uncovered a water leak behind that spot. Investigate further and fix any leaks you find.
Check any painted or sealed wooden surfaces on your home’s exterior for cracks in the paint or sealant. Any crack you find, even small ones, can allow water to work its way into the wooden material, resulting in rot.
Because of its tendency to spread, you should repair rotten wood ASAP when you discover it, and make sure you fix it completely. Otherwise, you will only face more serious and extensive repairs down the road. Ultimately, serious enough wood rot can even compromise your home’s structural integrity.
You should inspect your home for rotting wood at least annually - or twice per year if you live in a damp climate. Ideally, make this inspection a regular part of your spring and fall maintenance routine, it will save you from a lot of heartache and money.
Understanding Your Commercial Insurance Policy
According to the Insurance Information Institute, for small businesses without specialized risks, a Business Owners Policy—or BOP—may offer the basic property and liability coverage that you need. But if your company is growing in size and complexity—or you face specialized risks due to the nature of your business—you may want to consider purchasing a Commercial Package Policy, or CPP for short.
Customized insurance under one policy
Like a BOP, a CPP enables you to bundle various types of coverage within a single policy. However, while a BOP has limitations—it is only available for certain types of smaller businesses and covers only a few types of risk—Commercial Package Policies are available for a wide range of businesses, and can be better customized to the specific needs of your business. Most CPPs begin with:
- Property insurance - Covers damage or destruction of buildings, equipment, inventory and more.
- General liability insurance - Covers costs if someone is injured at your business or from using your product or service.
From there, you can add a range of coverages to your CPP, including:
- Business income insurance - Also known as business interruption insurance, this replaces lost revenues and covers extra expenses in the event that your business has to shut down or relocate due to fire, wind damage or other covered losses.
- Business vehicle (or fleet) insurance - Covers vehicles owned and used by your business.
- Business crime insurance - Covers losses from burglary, computer fraud, employee dishonesty and other business crimes.
- Commercial umbrella liability - Increases and broadens liability coverage, filling in gaps left by other coverages.
- Electronic data processing coverage - Covers costs associated with the loss or damage of electronic data processing media or equipment.
- Equipment breakdown—Also known as boiler and machinery insurance, this covers losses from the malfunction of heating, electrical, air conditioning, telephone systems and other equipment.
- Employment practices liability—Covers costs tied to disputes with employees over termination, discrimination, sexual harassment and other employment issues.
- Inland marine—Covers the transport of goods over water and land, providing comprehensive protection for assets that are moveable or mobile in nature, while in transit—such as from a warehouse to a store—or in storage.
- Pollution liability—Covers costs related to pollution, including clean-up and personal injury.
A range of other types of insurance—covering professional liability, supply chain risk, terrorism, farming or ranching losses, and more—can also be included in a CPP.
What a CPP doesn’t cover
A CPP can provide your business with coverage against a broad range of risks. That said, it’s important to recognize that your CPP will not include:
- Directors and Officers (D&O) liability
- Health and disability
- Life insurance
- Workers compensation
These coverages must be purchased separately; discuss your additional insurance needs with your insurance professional.