Recent Posts

Leaky Radiators

2/3/2017 (Permalink)

Water Damage Leaky Radiators Examples of damaged floors over time caused by leaky radiators.

      Radiator leaks sound minor but they can actually cause a lot of damage to a home.  If your wood flooring becomes wet continuously it will rot over time.  A small radiator leak can also cause unforeseen damages to the ceiling below, which later can result in a mold issue inside the space between floor and ceiling.


In this video: , This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey silences a leaky, squeaky steam radiator.



1. Turn down thermostat to shut off steam-heat system.

2. Wrap Teflon tape around the threads on new air vent.

3. Twist off old air vent by hand; cover vent with cloth to protect hand.

4. Thread new air vent into radiator. Hand tighten vent to vertical position.

5. Unscrew handle from top of the radiator valve.

6. Use an adjustable wrench to loosen and remove the packing nut that holds the stem to the valve.

7. Wrap graphite packing around threaded portion of the valve stem.

8. Thread the packing nut back onto the valve and tighten with a wrench. 9. Replace the valve handle.

10. Turn up thermostat to start the steam-heat system. Check for leaks or high-pitched whistling.


1/26/2017 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation Mold Clockwise from top left: ceiling trusses, drywall and trusses from a tub drain, drywall from drain pipe cover, shower ceiling from tub drain above.

     Molds are part of the natural environment, and can be found everywhere, indoors and outdoors. Mold is not usually a problem, unless it begins growing indoors. The best way to control mold growth is to control moisture. The EPA website provides guidance about mold and moisture for homes, schools, multifamily and commercial buildings. Molds can have a big impact on indoor air quality.


Ten Things You Should Know about Mold


  1. Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory complaints.
  2. There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
  3. If mold is a problem in your home or school, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.
  4. Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.
  5. Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60%) to decrease mold growth by:
    • Venting bathrooms, dryers and other moisture-generating sources to the outside
    • Using air conditioners and de-humidifiers
    • Increasing ventilation
    • Using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing and cleaning
  6. Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
  7. Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely. Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles, that are moldy, may need to be replaced.
  8. Prevent condensation: Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
  9. In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting (i.e., by drinking fountains, by classroom sinks, or on concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation).
  10. Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.


Mold Cleanup


      If you already have a mold problem - ACT QUICKLY. Mold damages what it grows on. The longer it grows, the more damage it can cause.  Who should do the cleanup depends on a number of factors. One consideration is the size of the mold problem. If the moldy area is less than about 10 square feet (less than roughly a 3 ft. by 3 ft. patch), in most cases, you can handle the job yourself.  However:


  • If there has been a lot of water damage, and/or mold growth covers more than 10 square feet, consult EPA guide Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings. Although focused on schools and commercial buildings, this document is applicable to other building types. 


  • If you choose to hire a contractor (or other professional service provider) to do the cleanup, make sure the contractor has experience cleaning up mold. Check references and ask the contractor to follow the recommendations in EPA guide Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings, the guidelines of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygenists (ACGIH), or other guidelines from professional or government organizations. 


  • If you suspect that the heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) system may be contaminated with mold (it is part of an identified moisture problem, for instance, or there is mold near the intake to the system), consult EPA guide Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned? before taking further action. Do not run the HVAC system if you know or suspect that it is contaminated with mold - it could spread mold throughout the building. 


  • If the water and/or mold damage was caused by sewage or other contaminated water, then call in a professional who has experience cleaning and fixing buildings damaged by contaminated water.


  •  If you have health concerns, consult a health professional before starting cleanup.


Floods and Flooding


       During a flood cleanup, the indoor air quality in your home or office may appear to be the least of your problems. However, failure to remove contaminated materials and to reduce moisture and humidity can present serious long-term health risks. Standing water and wet materials are a breeding ground for microorganisms, such as viruses, bacteria, and mold. They can cause disease, trigger allergic reactions, and continue to damage materials long after the flood.



EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency):

Frozen Pipes: Preventing and Thawing Frozen Pipes

1/5/2017 (Permalink)

Water Damage Frozen Pipes: Preventing and Thawing Frozen Pipes Home owners were out of state for the winter which resulted in massive damage when a pipe burst in the house and spilled out and refroze outside.
Being prepared and informed may help you to avoid the messy and often expensive issue of frozen pipes. The American Red Cross provides information and suggestions around how to prevent water pipes in the home from freezing, and how to thaw them if they do freeze.
Why Pipe Freezing is a Problem
Water has a unique property in that it expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. No matter the "strength" of a container, expanding water can cause pipes to break. Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets. Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation are also subject to freezing.
Preventing Frozen Pipes
Before the onset of cold weather, prevent freezing of these water supply lines and pipes by following these recommendations:
  • Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer's or installer's directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful, and is dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.
  • Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
  • Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
  • Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a "pipe sleeve" or installing UL-listed "heat tape," "heat cable," or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes – even ¼” of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing.
During Cold Weather, Take Preventative Action
  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
  • When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
To Thaw Frozen Pipes
  • If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
  • Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
  • Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
  • Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you can not thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
  • Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.
Future Protection
  • Consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing.
  • Pipes can be relocated by a professional if the home is remodeled.
  • Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in these areas.
  • For more information, please contact a licensed plumber or building professional.


The American Red Cross:

Christmas tree safety

12/26/2016 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Christmas tree safety Picture of fireman crawling into a fiery room. Picture credits go to

No one wants to spoil the holiday season, but Christmas trees in the home can present a fire safety issue. A primary concern with a Christmas tree is fire danger, often brought on by the combination of electrical malfunctions and, in the case of a real tree, a drying tree.

In the United States, Christmas trees start approximately 210 house fires per year.

According to a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report issued in 2015, U.S. fire departments responded to more than 200 home structure fires annually between 2009 and 2013 in which Christmas trees were the first item to catch on fire. Each year, fires occurring during the holiday season injure 2,600 individuals and cause over $930 million in damage, according to the United States Fire Administration. Sadly, Christmas tree-related fires have a higher incident of fatalities than typical house fires, according to the NFPA report.

Electrical malfunctions are often to blame for Christmas tree fires.

Electrical failures or malfunctions were involved in nearly half of the fires, igniting the tree with sparks or small electrical fires. Decorative lights with live voltage were involved in more than 20 percent of the instances. However, putting trees too close to open fires or heaters caused a significant number of fires as well: nearly a quarter occurred because a heat source was located too close to the tree.

It isn’t just real trees that are a problem. Electrical malfunctions can also ignite plastic artificial trees, and homeowners should take the same precautions in terms of tree placement and decorations as they would with a real tree.

Be careful with how you discard your tree.

You should take care with trees that are left outside as well. The NFPA report revealed that an annual average of 90 outside and other non-structure fires on residential properties occurred because of Christmas trees stored on the property, the report indicates. Two-thirds of these fires occurred in January, with 64 percent of them being set intentionally. This suggests that discarded Christmas trees may be an attractive target for arsonists.

But, arson concerns are not an excuse to leave your tree up after the holidays. According to the NFPA, even a well-watered tree should be taken down within four weeks of being brought into the home. If you decorated your real tree right after Thanksgiving, it should be discarded the week after Christmas, not New Year’s Day. This is because by the end of the holiday season, Christmas trees are extremely dry, and present a heightened fire hazard.

ACTA (The American Christmas Tree Association):

Picture taken from

Have a safe 4th of July weekend!

7/1/2016 (Permalink)

Hopefully everyong is ready for a long 4th of July weekend! 

But first here are some tios to help keep everyone safe.

Storm and Flood Damage

6/23/2016 (Permalink)

Summer is officially here, and that means so are summer storms! If you find yourself dealing with Storm or Flood Damage we at SERVPRO of Ravenswood are here to help. 

"Why do I need to remove lint from the dryer?": Tips for Preventing Laundry Emergencies

10/2/2015 (Permalink)

Dryer lint is definitely the least stylish part of owning clothes. It's murky, it's fuzzy, and it kind of smells like "Linen Freshness," if your linens were left in a burning building. 

Without proper precautions, dryer lint could turn that imaginary burning building into a reality. Lint, when left behind, can cause your dryer to combust and enact massive damage to your home. Here's how to keep flammable situations at bay:

Basic Prevention

Most homeowners clean out their lint traps on a regular basis, usually right before they toss in the next load of wet clothes. It's a great habit! 

In the process of clearing the trap, however, lint can become airborne and settle around the dryer. Over time, this can accumulate, especially behind and under the appliance. 

Take a damp towel and wipe around the back your machine and below. The water on the towel will stick to the dryer lint and help you measure the amount of lint your machine emits. 

Ventilation Systems

Most dryer manufacturers recommend that homeowners use aluminum duct venting with minimal corners and directional changes, not longer than 15'.

Many families, however, have ventilation systems that use flexible tubing, so it's important to clean the various twists, turns, and bends on an annual basis. 

Good Practices

Dryer sheets can leave behind a waxy substance in your lint trap, which makes lint removal less effective. Once a week, wash this screen in warm, soapy water and let it dry overnight. Do NOT put the screen back into the dryer if it is damp!

Every 18 months, have a qualified service technician clean out the drum of the dryer, along with the ventilation system and lint screen. 

And, don't operate the dryer without a lint trap!

Green Ideas

Using your dryer efficiently is also another way of preventing fire. For example, you could use a faster spin cycle in the washing machine to cut drying time. You should also use the automatic drying cycle to save energy and time. 

SERVPRO of Ravenswood Protects Clients' Belongings

2/4/2015 (Permalink)

General SERVPRO of Ravenswood Protects Clients' Belongings After a fire damage, SERVPRO of Ravenswood immediately secures and covers all unaffected belongings.

At SERVPRO of Ravenswood, we understand how important and valuable your possessions are. Especially after damage occurs, we take pride in immediately, delicately and confidently securing all belongings. We document and inventory all possessions as well, as covering them in painter's wrap to ensure dust and other particulates will not settle on and compromise your belongings. Our customers' peace of mind is our utmost priority. We know how traumatic a water or fire loss can be and we do everything in our powers to help you throughout the process.   

Mold Spreads Rapidly Throughout Garage

1/29/2015 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation Mold Spreads Rapidly Throughout Garage Mold has serious health implications if not handled quickly and properly.

A pipe leak that went unnoticed for a period of time between a garage wall and the adjacent laundry room wall led to rapid mold growth. The multi-colored mold spores affected a Ravenswood area home. In a warm and humid environment, mold can multiply at a tremendous rate and can cause allergic reactions. Understanding the serious nature of mold in one's home, SERVPRO of Ravenswood immediately responded to the homeowner's call.  

Pipe Burst Floods Entire 3-Story Building In Lincoln Park

1/19/2015 (Permalink)

Water Damage Pipe Burst Floods Entire 3-Story Building In Lincoln Park Icicles hanging from the third floor all the way to the ground

During the recent artic freeze we faced, a third floor pipe burst caused an entire building to flood and the water almost instantly froze. The homeowner was out of town and arrived to see icicles hanging all over his home. The worried homeowner immediately called SERVPRO of Ravenswood to mitigate the water damage.