Recent Posts

Is It Black Mold?

1/10/2018 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation Is It Black Mold? #MoldRemediation starts by treating all molds exactly the same.

"Black Mold"-- the term conjures up images of hazardous material suits, apocalypse, and hospital beds. But what do we really have to be afraid of?

Black mold is a loose term, usually referring to the strain of mold called Stachybotrys chartarum, which--like many molds--produces mycotoxins, which can cause allergic reactions.

The Center for Disease Control says that "the common health concerns from molds include hay fever-like allergic symptoms. Certain individuals with chronic respiratory disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, asthma) may experience difficulty breathing." 

I see mold that is black in my home or office--is it Stachybotrys chartarum?

Without a mold test, it is impossible to tell. What you should know, however, is that a mold's color is dependent on a host of things, including the food source. Additionally, the colors vary by region. In the Amazon, mold is mostly orange. In the United States mold can be blue, green, white, soft yellow, et cetera. Mold's colors protect it from damage and offers a shield from the sun, other species of mold, and more as well. 

So not all mold that is black is Stachybotrys Chartarum, but all mold should be removed. Which means that it really doesn't matter what kind of mold you have.

What do you mean it doesn't matter what kind of mold I have?

Well, all mold should be treated with care and personal protective equipment should be used when removing it.

Additionally, the Center for Disease Control states that "hazards presented by molds that may produce mycotoxins [like Stachybotrys Chartarum] should be considered the same as other common molds which can grow in your house," and goes on to say that "It is not necessary, however, to determine what type of mold you may have. All molds should be treated the same with respect to potential health risks and removal."

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Humidifiers: The Downside

12/18/2017 (Permalink)

Winters are so dry in the Silver State, and in Northern California! Many of us turn to humidifiers to deal with dry sinuses, cold and flu season, or to avoid dry skin and related problems. Unfortunately, any time we write about water at SERVPRO, it means there’s about to be damage involved.

Too much humidity can cause mold to grow near a humidifier, or in a particularly humid room. That’s why we suggest turning on the bathroom fan when you take a shower, and using the fans over the stove (if you have a hood in your kitchen) while cooking.

Too little, and furniture, wood, and flooring can crack as they become robbed of moisture. You also get robbed of moisture, as dry air makes your body feel colder-- meaning you probably think of reaching for the thermostat or a space heater to keep warm. Not only are space heaters and turning up the thermostat expensive, but space heaters are one of the leading reasons for house fires, especially if you’re leaving them running for extended periods of time.

Managing the humidity in your home can save you from having to remediate mold, fire damage, and property destruction.

When it is ten to twenty degrees (Fahrenheit) outside, your home’s humidity should not exceed 35%. For every ten degree drop in temperature, subtract 5%; so, if it is zero to 10 degrees outside, 30% humidity is the highest you should have in your home.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date on our latest jobs, home Do-It-Yourself tips and projects!

How Do I Stop a Broken Pipe From Flooding My House?

12/12/2017 (Permalink)

We hear it all the time when winter storms hit: "Temperatures dropped, winds battered my house, and now a pipe is leaking all over my floors! What do I do?"

It’s a good question! Despite all the waterproofing trouble you went to for the outside of your house, water still comes in. Sometimes the pipe bursts while you’re around, and you have some time to fix it before it gets worse. Other times, our pipes can be less than that forgiving. For when you have the time and are nearby enough to stop the busted pipe, here are some things you should do:

  1. Turn off the water! Provided getting yourself to the main shutoff valve doesn’t pose any dangers to yourself or anyone else, turning off the source of the water is going to be the biggest step in reducing the amount of water damage to your home.
  2. Apply a pipe connector! Having a couple of these on hand is useful for this scenario. Rubber pipe connectors will help stop any residual leakage after you’ve turned the water off. You would usually use these on the joint or near the middle. You may need to fit them properly to the pipe itself, so if you aren’t handy or are just starting out, move on to #3.
  3. Pipe wraps! These were made for the horror story of the burst pipe. You can find a pipe wrap at almost any home improvement retailer, and just need to place it according to the package instructions. These are pretty universal and versatile as they can go anywhere on the pipe for any kind of burst.

After you’ve stopped the leakage to the best of your ability, you should give your plumber a call to fix the pipe.

After that, your best bet is to call SERVPRO: drying out your house after a flood or leak is our forte.

For more information and to keep up with our tips, follow SERVPRO on Twitter: @SERVPRO10274

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Why Use Professionals for Mold and Mildew?

12/12/2017 (Permalink)

BACKGROUND: Mold grows in filaments called “hyphae”, and a network of these hyphae are called a “mycelium”. The "hyphal tip" is the part that eats bacteria.

Mildewcides work by killing the bacteria that the mold’s hyphal tip absorbs. What does that mean, exactly? Mildewcides first stop the growth of mold by preventing there from being a food source (the bacteria).

With regards to mildewcides in paints, those will prevent the growth of mildew and mold, but won’t stop or kill existing mold necessarily, so it is important to have your walls treated and washed BEFORE applying this kind of paint. (Don’t know how to treat your walls for such a project? That’s where SERVPRO comes in!)

There is a crash course in mold on our blog if you want to arm yourself with even more knowledge.

But what about existing mold? Well, if the mold is growing on a non-porous surface (think linoleum), the mildewcide will kill the mold, and when it’s removed, you don’t have to worry about regrowth. It is only on non-porous surfaces that bleach can be used as a mildewcide; for any other surfaces, professional-grade equipment and solutions are the standard.

On a porous surface (think wood) the roots of the hyphae are deeper inside, which means spraying and removing it won’t be as effective, and regrowth is a possibility. Letting a treatment sit over a period of time will discourage mold growth, and kill the roots of the mold inside the structure.

If you suspect a mold issue, let our skilled team of professionals at SERVPRO know. You can tell us online, by phone, or even on Twitter if you direct message us!

How Do I Waterproof My House?

12/7/2017 (Permalink)

Water Damage How Do I Waterproof My House? Waterproofing your home is essential to keeping everything important inside dry!

Fighting water damage starts before the first of our air movers ever even get to your home. Preventing water damage from water sources (pipes, hookups, etc) inside is an entirely different set of challenges, so we’ll focus on preventing water from outside getting inside in this article.

Making sure water doesn’t come in starts with the construction of your house. Check with your builder that a waterproof wrap is (or was!) used in the building of your new home. Popular brands include names like “Tyvek”.

Additionally, when cold weather rolls in, icicles tend to form. We tend to leave them there because they are pretty, festive, and (let’s be honest) a bit of a hassle to go around and knock down. Those festive little spikes are one way moisture stays on the eaves of your home, soaking through the paint, wood, and potentially inside to your insulation and drywall. This is especially common with attics. One of our pictures actually shows the process one homeowner had to go through with their house because of icicles being left on their roof. If you want to avoid having to go through the same process, be sure to knock off icicles when you start to notice them.

When it rains, one way we get moisture into our house is by leaving windows, sliding doors, or even (yes, really!) entryways open. Even if you think your windows are shut and locked, there is probably a thin gap between your window and the frame, or your door and its jamb. To combat moisture getting in, consider properly weather stripping around these common areas.  Relatedly, going around the wall-edge of these areas with some thick caulk is a good way to reduce the amount of warmth lost when you use your heater.

For more information and to keep up with our tips, follow SERVPRO on Twitter: @SERVPRO10274

And, stay in the loop on Facebook with us, too: SERVPRO10274

How to Lightning Proof Your House

12/6/2017 (Permalink)

Storm Damage How to Lightning Proof Your House Be #LightningSafe by getting informed with SERVPRO on Twitter and Facebook.

Here at SERVPRO, we take every measure we can to handle storm damage and destruction after it happens, but we can’t protect you in the moment; we’re faster to any size disaster, but being faster than lightning is a bit of a tall order! Learn how to be #LightningSafe by following the tips below:

  • says that you should remove dead branches and rotting trees before storm season hits. This is because lightning looks for the shortest route to take to the ground; tall trees are a prime target, and, on top of that, they are flammable and can cause a house fire. If that is something you’re worried about because you are surrounded by trees or just in an unusually dry area, check out our blog on Preventing Fires.
  • “Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.” This offers protection from wind, and an extra layer of home protection as well.

  • Preventing electronics from frying while the storm outside is active is also important. Be sure to “Unplug any electronic equipment well before the storm arrives”.

    • BONUS TIP:  “rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning.” If you are outside and start to feel static electricity in the air, seek shelter immediately; you cannot rely on your clothing.

    • clarifies that “the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal”, which is good information to have. If you’re driving or near your vehicle during an impending storm, getting in might be the safest option, especially if there isn’t any other shelter nearby!

For more information and to keep up with our tips, follow SERVPRO on Twitter: @SERVPRO10274

And, stay in the loop on Facebook with us, too: SERVPRO10274

How Bad Are Thunderstorms and Lightning in Nevada?

12/6/2017 (Permalink)

The Short Answer: Thunderstorms and lightning are a dangerous force of nature, and more often than not in an arid climate like Nevada, it can cause fires, property damage, and road closures.

The Long Answer: In the late months of 2017 there was an increase in lightning strike-related fires in the area. According to Tim Brown of the Western Regional Climate Center, the wet conditions “create the fuels and [when] it dries out,” we see a lot more wildfires and property damage.

Much of the issue with this weather can be attributed to moisture moving towards the north from the southwest, which gives way to warm and wet conditions that are perfect for thunderstorms and lightning.

On Monday September 11th, in 2017, there were 2,519 lightning strikes in Nevada, “and 6,735 in California”, according to News Channel 4. And, according to News Channel 2, 2017’s fire season was “the worst in 15 years”. 90% of wildfires in Nevada are caused by humans, but in 2017, only 76% of 2017’s 272 wildfires were caused by people.

While we may not get much rain and wet weather here, when we do it can be catastrophic. Storms here cause fires, property damage, and are very physically dangerous to you.

If your property has been damaged by stormy winds, lightning, or rain, SERVPRO has your back. We can make the damage “Like it never even happened”.

For more information and to keep up with our tips, follow SERVPRO on Twitter: @SERVPRO10274

And, stay in the loop on Facebook with us, too: SERVPRO10274

What Happens in a Wildfire Evacuation?

12/6/2017 (Permalink)

Wildfire evacuations sound stressful and frightening. Knowing where to go an what to bring is a battle all on its own-- not to mention what you are meant to be doing during one. SERVPRO is committed to making sure that the people we serve are armed with as much knowledge as possible so that they can safely return to their lives after the wildfire "Like it never even happened." 

The first thing that will happen is fire officials will recommend residents leave the area as soon as possible to avoid being caught in smoke or fire, and to lessen the danger on the road for emergency vehicles. This is a "voluntary evacuation order". 

If you don't leave right then, and the fire worsens, other emergency services like the police may order you and any of your household to leave the area, for your safety. This would be a "mandatory evacuation order".

Either way, once you are clear of the area, there will be a designated assembly area where transportation to a safer location will be available.

According to, there are three steps for when you return home that you should be aware of: 


  • Be alert for downed power lines and other hazards.
  • Check propane tanks, regulators, and lines before turning gas on.
  • Check your residence carefully for hidden embers or smoldering fires.

Do you have a wildfire story you want to tell? What were your experiences with evacuations? Let us know on Twitter and Facebook!

Water and Flood Damage in Truckee

12/5/2017 (Permalink)

Water Damage Water and Flood Damage in Truckee Water damage affects the Tahoe and Truckee areas differently than it does the valley floor.

According to the Sierra Sun, "much of Northern Nevada set a record for precipitation this past water year, more than doubling the average in some areas," which means SERVPRO has been exceptionally busy with cleaning up water damaged buildings, homes, offices, and vehicles. 

In addition, the Mount Rose Snowline is moving uphill, meaning more liquid precipitation, and less of that precipitation falling as snow. Sad news for snowboarders, and anyone with property they'd rather keep dry. Chris Smallcomb from the National Weather Service's Reno office stated that "due to the previous record-breaking year and recent rains, the ground is saturated and flooding would occur more easily now."

What you can expect from wetter conditions in a valley like Reno is snow-melt and runoff to damage foundations or soak lawns and fill up sidewalk drains. 

From the Truckee and Tahoe areas, you can expect that meltwater and runoff to reach your property first, and likely be the coldest.

Much of it also comes in the form of rain, so you are more likely to have damage before anyone else in the valley does, since the Reno and Sparks areas have to wait for the snow and ice to melt into water before damage occurs.  

Smallcomb also says that a warning sign of incoming moisture is "atmospheric rivers coming off the Pacific Ocean, which can be projected five to 10 days out," so keep your eye on the news and the social media accounts of the National Weather Service.

If you want to know more about atmospheric rivers, our blog has an article on what to expect from them and what they have done in the past: Atmospheric Rivers in Reno.

Our social media is a great resource for up-to-date information about the valley floor, over the hill, and lake-side weather changes. 

For more information and to keep up with our tips, follow SERVPRO on Twitter: @SERVPRO10274

And, stay in the loop on Facebook with us, too: SERVPRO10274

Caughlin Ranch Fire: A Personal Look Back

12/4/2017 (Permalink)

A few years ago, Caughlin Ranch caught fire in Reno, Nevada. Some lauded it as the "worst fire in Reno history".

The day is November 18, 2011. It is a cold, windy day, but the wind only worsened the already burning issue at Caughlin Ranch. 9,500 people are being evacuated from the area. Smoke rises from the side of a charred mountain. Embers smolder in the underbrush. Sirens fill the air, and joining the red fire trucks is a brigade of bright green vehicles, heading in after them. 

One career and technical school--called the Academy of Arts, Careers, and Technology (AACT), had to suspend classes for the day, due to a significant amount of their students from the zoned school in the Caughlin Ranch area being unable to attend. An administrative staff member records a message for each student's household, and sends it out. Phones ring.

Andrea picks up and hears the news; that classes have been cancelled, that Monday will be an 'A' day, and the schools thoughts were with the victims of the fire.

She recalls: "Yeah, it was a day off, sure, but I was afraid for my friends the entire time," Andrea says, "but knowing that six years later, I'd be working with the people who helped get my friends' homes back together is beyond wild to me."

Andrea, who goes by Andi now, works as SERVPRO's Marketing Support Coordinator. She wrote this article, and was delighted to share her story.