HVAC Maintenance in Commercial Buildings.
Prevent water damage from HVAC in commercial buildings
A water leak in HVACs in commercial buildings can become a source of distress and damage to property and operations. SERVPRO shares below the maintenance tips for several components of HVAC.
A monthly inspection of air filters is a must to ensure the equipment is not overworked and isn’t causing the evaporator coils to freeze and defrost. Air filters can be inspected by following the operations and maintenance manual. In case the filters are located inside the furnace or air handler, it is advised to hire a professional to change the filters. In the presence of dust and debris, filters must be replaced as per the manufacturer’s recommendation. A reusable filter must be cleaned and dried properly before being reinstalled. HEPA filters (high-efficiency particulate air filters) are the best option but it is important to install filters that the HVAC needs. Depending on the size of the equipment, multiple filters may need replacement.
- Condensate drains
The condensate drains and drain pans must be inspected monthly, especially if the HVAC is working across the year to cool the premises. If dirt, algae, or other contaminants are found, the drain line should be flushed with an algae inhibitor once or twice a year. Promptly repair any signs of rust, which could indicate a water problem. Ensure that the line draining outdoors or a rooftop drain is pointed away from the structure of the building. Check for any clogs in the drain line and remove the paper filter and attach a dry/wet vacuum to the drain line to suck out the debris.
- Air coils
A yearly inspection of air coils can help ensure the equipment is operating at maximum capacity. Low levels of refrigerant and dirty air filters are common causes of evaporator coils freezing up. Over-sizing an HVAC is another cause of freeze-ups as the unit becomes susceptible to short cycling, inadequate dehumidification, and significant temperature variations. Broken fans, blocked condensate lines, malfunctioning thermostats, and low pressure inside the system are other usual causes of frozen evaporator coils.
Moreover, coils should be carefully brushed or vacuumed to remove dust and debris. The outdoor condensing units should be clean from grass clippings and other debris and must remain level for water to drain properly.
When the ductwork is not insulated excess condensation will be formed inside the unit when the cool air comes in contact with warmer ducts. This can lead to leaks from the HVAC and the vents. The condensation can accumulate on the exterior surface of the ducts as well and seep into the ceiling, creating a perfect environment for mold, mildew, and dry rot. The fresh air supply ducts must be devoid of debris and, if necessary, filtered at the inlet. The ductwork must be inspected for dust, insulation, rust, condensation, and tight connections. Repairs at the first sign of condensation and rust will help save a lot of expenses.
The role of a condensate drain pump is to collect and remove the condensate water produced by the HVAC. If the pump breaks down, the water from the HVAC will collect inside the system and eventually overflow. The pump must be checked for any blockages or algae build-up in the check valve to prevent the water leak.
- SERVPRO uses state-of-the-art equipment to bring the damaged property back to its original state. SERVPRO of West Fort Bend County is always updating its fleet and equipment so clients in West Fort Bend County or anywhere else can quickly access the services.
- With over 1,700 US and Canadian Franchise locations, SERVPRO is strategically positioned to respond faster to an emergency of any magnitude.
- The SERVPRO staff is highly trained in property damage restoration. They receive initial in-house training and constant skill up-gradation at the corporate training facility and also acquire the regular IICRC-industry certification.
For commercial water damage restoration, call SERVPRO of West Fort Bend County today at 281-342-5326.
Fire Sprinkler Myths
Fire sprinkler myths busted
Fire sprinklers are one of the most effective means of controlling a fire and preventing an uncontrollable blaze. However, several myths discourage homeowners from installing sprinkler systems. SERVPRO busts these myths below.
Statistics from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) show that the civilian death rate was 81 percent lower in homes with sprinklers; average firefighter injury rate was nearly 80 percent lower when fire sprinklers were present and; fires were contained in the room of origin 97 percent of the time when sprinklers were present.
A smoke alarm is enough
The function of smoke alarms is to alert the occupants of the fire danger and inform emergency services of the fire incident. However, an alarm does not help douse a fire. The myth about installing either a smoke alarm or a fire sprinkler system is baseless because the purpose of both gadgets is very different.
A sprinkler is the first line of defense against fire. It reduces the heat, flames, and smoke and allows the occupants to get out of the building safely. A fire incident with no sprinkler systems can quickly spiral out of control by the time emergency help arises.
Every sprinkler will turn on when there is a fire
Sprinklers are designed to detect the heat of a fire and activate only in the affected areas. This is a myth that when a fire incident occurs all sprinklers will go off and cause a serious amount of flooding in the building. When a small fire starts only one or two sprinklers are triggered. Despite popular belief, smoke, cooking vapors, or a little steam does not trigger a fire sprinkler.
Water damage from the sprinklers is as bad as the fire damage they prevent
Firstly, water damage from an activated sprinkler is not the main concern, the safety of the occupants is. The fire sprinklers allow the occupants to escape to safety before the emergency services arrive. Secondly, when a fire goes out of control, the water used by the fire department is eight-and-a-half times more than the water dispersed by a sprinkler system. A sprinkler system can prevent the fire from getting out of control in much less water. The water damage caused by a fire hose can extend to expensive possessions, upholstery, and even the structural integrity of the property.
Sprinklers will freeze in winters and become useless
Homeowners in cold regions struggle with frozen pipes and therefore assume that sprinkler systems would also freeze. However, a properly installed sprinkler system will continue to function effectively irrespective of the weather. This worry is completely unfounded. Sprinkler systems provide a lot of fire safety in all weathers across the world.
Sprinklers are prone to leaking and can activate accidentally
The odds of a manufacturing defect leading to an accidental sprinkler discharge are very low: 1 in 16 million. A sprinkler would leak without a fire only when it has not been maintained well or has a faulty part. The worry that fire sprinklers will regularly leak or turn on without warning is a myth. A smoke alarm turns on when they detect smoke, whereas a sprinkler turns on when it detects high temperatures. Therefore, a slice of bread in the toaster may activate a smoke alarm but it won't set off sprinklers.
Sprinklers are required in older buildings only
Modern constructions do take fire safety into account whereas older buildings have no such arrangements. However, even a new construction is not fire-resistant and needs fire sprinklers. Fires are more common in older buildings due to outdated electrical wiring but every building irrespective of its age needs to install fire safety gadgets such as fire sprinklers for adequate protection.
There are multiple reasons a fire may occur at a home. Once the fire is extinguished, there are hundreds of things that need to be taken care of besides the fire damage restoration of the home itself. SERVPRO understands how daunting a challenge this can be, and shares a simple post-fire checklist that homeowners can use to decide their next steps.
1. Contact family
A fire is a traumatic event that can overwhelm. It is a time when everyone needs support from family and friends. Letting family and friends know about the incident is important to begin the process of rehabilitation and restoration.
Also, inform the property owners immediately so they can take steps regarding their property and recovery.
2. Call insurance company
Notify the insurance agent to begin the claim process immediately. Until the fire is reported to the insurance company, repairs cannot begin. And the longer the repairs are delayed the worse the damage can become. Once the process begins, an insurance agent can handle property emergencies, lodging, and living expenses.
Contact the personal bank, mortgage lender, auto insurance agent (in case of vehicle damage), and utility company. Notification of the fire damage event to these entities may provide relief from late fees on payments while the restoration work takes place.
Fire damage restoration companies like SERVPRO work with insurance companies by providing repair estimates and helping with claims. Make sure to get a copy of the fire report which is helpful in providing more information for the insurance agency.
3. Get the property assessed
An insurance adjuster is likely to visit to evaluate the fire damage to the house. This evaluation will determine if the home can be saved, or if it must be demolished and rebuilt.
In case the house can be saved, a professional fire damage and water damage restoration company like SERVPRO can come to the rescue. Besides the direct damage from the fire, damage caused by heat, smoke, and soot will also need redressal. The water damage caused by fire extinguishing activities is another aspect that must be addressed at the earliest to avoid secondary water damage such as mold.
Fire damage often runs deep and it takes a professional restoration team’s skills and state-of-the-art equipment to detect and amend the damage that may be invisible to the inexperienced eye.
4. Get clearance to enter the house
Await a clearance from the fire department before entering the house that has been damaged by fire. There is often hidden damage that can lead to the fire restarting. Damaged roofs and floors could also collapse and cause serious injury. Additionally, there are health effects associated with inhaling smoke and soot that must be addressed before moving back in.
Entering the house too soon can also impact the insurance claim so it’s advised to await the green signal from the fire department and the insurance company.
5. Organize the possessions
Segregating the damaged and undamaged items in the house helps to be more organized. A list of all undamaged articles along with their details such as model number, current price, and receipts is very useful while filing an insurance claim. Providing photos of these items is also advisable.
Undamaged items must be removed from the fire-damaged property to protect them from looting. These items can be stored safely in a rented storage unit restoration of the house is complete.
This assessment of damaged contents can be done by the homeowner or a professional restoration company. A professional restoration team will be able to assess if certain items can be restored or not. This can help reduce the claim and also help save valuable items that can’t be replaced with money.
6. Find a place to stay while the house gets restored
Until a professional team has restored the house and disposed of all unsafe elements including mold, smoke, soot, and unstable structures, the homeowner would need another place to stay. Most insurance policies will pay for the food, clothing, and shelter for a specified period of time. Homeowners can contact local disaster relief services such as the American Red Cross, government agencies, the local church, or family and friends for a safe and temporary place to stay in until the house is restored.
After a fire event, it is crucial to take care of one’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being. So a comfortable place to stay is crucial.
7. Restore, rebuild, and move forward
With the help of the insurance agent and a professional restoration company like SERVPRO, homeowners can begin the task of restoring and rebuilding their homes and eventually return to their lives.
It is important to deal with the right fire damage restoration company to ensure that the restoration work is accurate, economical, and swift.
SERVPRO uses state-of-the-art equipment to bring the damaged property back to its original state. SERVPRO of West Fort Bend County is always updating its fleet and equipment so clients in West Fort Bend Conty, or anywhere else can quickly access the services.
With over 1,700 US and Canadian Franchise locations, SERVPRO is strategically positioned to respond faster to an emergency of any magnitude.
The SERVPRO staff is highly trained in property damage restoration. They receive initial in-house training and constant skill up-gradation at the corporate training facility and also acquire the regular IICRC-industry certification.
Have An Emergency Action Plan!
All employers must have an emergency action plan (EAP) and communicate it to employees. This document covers a number of potential emergencies, including fire, and spells out the responsibilities each employee has when the plan has to be activated. Our video, Emergency Action Preparedness: Checklist takes you through the steps of developing your own EAP checklist, which helps you ensure that everyone at your workplace is prepared in case of emergency.
Part of the EAP includes procedures on how to evacuate. Getting your employees out of the workplace safely is your top priority. Practice this plan throughout the year to help ensure an orderly exit in case of fire or other emergency.
Remember, no matter the size or type of business, the risk of workplace fires is present. Having a plan and training your employees how to react quickly will help protect your workplace and reduce the risk of injuries and fatalities should a fire break out.
Office Fire Causes
Heating equipment (11%)
Like electric systems, office furnaces and vents are silent threats that can spark fires if they’re not kept in good repair. Central heating systems are the most common type of heating system, responsible for more than half the office fires in this category. That’s a marked difference from home fires sparked by heating equipment, where space heaters are most often to blame, according to a different NFPA study
How to prepare: Get a fire safety assessment, including central heating inspection.
A fire safety professional can identify heating systems that are at risk of causing fires, as well as factors that could exacerbate fires that do occur.
SERVPRO of West Fort Bend County is here for all of your restoration need
After a Fire
After a Fire
The following checklist serves as a quick reference and guide for you to follow after a fire strike.
- Contact your local disaster relief service, such as The Red Cross, if you need temporary housing, food and medicines.
- If you are insured, contact your insurance company for detailed instructions on protecting your property, conducting inventory and contacting fire damage restoration companies.
- Check with the fire department to make sure your residence is safe to enter. Watch out for any structural damage caused by the fire.
- The fire department should make sure that utilities are either safe to use or are disconnected before they leave the site. DO NOT attempt to reconnect utilities yourself.
- Conduct an inventory of damaged property and items. Do not throw away any damaged goods until after an inventory is made.
- Begin saving receipts for any money you spend related to fire loss. The receipts may be needed later by the insurance company and for verifying losses claimed on your income tax.
- Notify your mortgage company of the fire.
Portable Space Heaters
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Portable Space Heaters
- Keep combustible objects at least three feet away from portable heating devices.
- Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
- Check to make the portable heater has a thermostat control mechanism and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over.
- Only use crystal clear K-1 kerosene in kerosene heaters. Never overfill it. Use the heater in a well-ventilated room.
Fireplaces and Woodstoves
- Inspect and clean woodstove pipes and chimneys annually and check monthly for damage or obstructions.
- Use a fireplace screen heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks.
- Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed.
- Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching children that fire is a tool, not a toy.
- Store matches and lighters out of children's reach and sight, preferably in a locked cabinet.
- Never leave children unattended near operating stoves or burning candles, even for a short time.
Attics and Crawl Spaces
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Inaccessible attics and crawl spaces are easy to forget about, but 13% of electrical fires start in these neglected spaces. Electrical failure or malfunction account for about 88% of these fires.
If you live in an older home, suspect dubious DIY electrical work, or want reassurance that everything is in order, hire a professional, licensed electrician to check it out and address issues. While electrical problems can be expensive to fix, the cost of neglecting it can be devastating.
Laundry rooms are where 4% of residential fires begin, with dryers being the culprit of 92% of laundry room fires.
Fortunately, preventing laundry fires is simple for the most part:
- Don’t overload your washer or dryer or pack items down. Instead, leave room for laundry to tumble. Follow your machine manufacturer’s recommendations for capacity.
- Clean the lint screen and drum between loads to prevent buildup.
- About once a year, clean the dryer exhaust vent and ducts.
- Replace plastic venting material with flexible metal venting material.
- Ensure that your appliances are plugged into outlets with the proper voltage
Inventory is Important!
Your insurance company will want an inventory of everything that was lost or damaged during the fire. Your agent can provide you with an inventory sheet. Review any inventory you made prior to the fire and make additions to it. If you need to reconstruct a list of your belongings from memory, review photographs and video to refresh your memory, and ask friends or relatives who have been in your home to help you compile your list. Review old credit card statements and bank records to determine what you paid for your belongings.
Take care of yourself and family
A home fire is a traumatic experience and you could suffer the effects of the trauma for months and even years afterwards. Allow yourself time to heal, and seek counseling if you have trouble sleeping, concentrating or relating to others weeks after the fire. Return to your normal routines as soon as possible, and help your children to maintain their returns. Talk with children about their feelings and help them to process what has happened.
Staying Warm Before the Storm
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Have your furnace inspected before cold weather arrives. Inspect the heat exchanger for cracks, install a clean air filter, and check the thermostat to see if it’s working properly. Inspect fireplaces, and chimneys before using, and have them cleaned if needed. Keep drapes and blinds closed, except when windows are in direct sunlight. Put up storm windows, or install sheet plastic window insulation kits on the inside of windows. Cover or remove any window air conditioners. Insulate electrical outlets and switches on exterior walls with foam seals available at home centers. Caulk any cracks or holes on the outside of your house. Repair or replace weather stripping and thresholds around doors and windows. Run paddle ceiling fans on low in reverse (clockwise when looking up) to circulate warm air. Put draft snakes on window sills, between window frames, and against doors. If you heat with propane or fuel oil, make sure the tank is full. If you heat with wood or coal, have plenty of fuel on hand.