Recent Posts

Battling Mold Growth in the Southeast: Preventative Measures and Post-Storm Treatment

5/19/2024 (Permalink)

The Southeastern United States is no stranger to storms, from hurricanes to heavy rainfall. While these natural phenomena bring their own set of challenges, one often overlooked consequence is mold growth. Mold thrives in warm environments making the humid climate of the Southeast a perfect breeding ground. In the aftermath of storms, excess moisture in homes and buildings can lead to rapid mold damage and structure damage. In this blog, we'll explore strategies for preventing mold growth before storms hit and effective methods for treating mold infestations after they occur.

Understanding Mold

Mold is a type of fungus that plays a crucial role in nature by breaking down organic matter. Mold spores are everywhere, but they need moisture and nutrients to grow. In the Southeast, where humidity levels are often high, controlling moisture is key to preventing mold growth.

Preventative Measures

  • Maintain Proper Ventilation: Proper ventilation is essential for reducing moisture levels indoors. Ensure that bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms are adequately ventilated, either through exhaust fans or open windows.
  • Monitor Humidity Levels: Invest in a hygrometer to measure indoor humidity levels. Ideally, indoor humidity should be kept below 60% to inhibit mold growth. Air conditioners and dehumidifiers can help regulate humidity levels.
  • Seal Leaks: Inspect your home regularly for leaks in the roof, windows, and pipes. Promptly repair any leaks to prevent water intrusion, which can lead to mold growth behind walls and ceilings.
  • Improve Drainage: Ensure that gutters and downspouts are clear of debris and direct water away from the foundation of your home. Proper drainage can prevent water from pooling around the structure, reducing the risk of moisture infiltration.

Post-Storm Treatment

Despite taking preventative measures, storms can still cause water damage and subsequent mold growth. If your home has been affected by a storm, follow these steps to address mold infestations:

  • Dry Out Affected Areas: As soon as it's safe to do so, begin drying out the affected areas of your home. Open windows and doors to promote air circulation, and use fans and dehumidifiers to expedite the drying process.
  • Remove Damaged Materials: Dispose of porous materials that cannot be salvaged, such as carpeting, insulation, and drywall. These materials can harbor mold and may need to be replaced to eliminate the source of contamination.
  • Clean Thoroughly: Use a solution of water and detergent to scrub mold off hard surfaces such as walls, floors, and countertops. For more severe infestations, consult a professional mold remediation service.
  • Prevent Future Growth: Once the mold has been removed, take steps to prevent its return. Continue monitoring humidity levels, repairing leaks, and maintaining proper ventilation to keep your home mold-free.

Mold growth in the Southeast is a common problem exacerbated by storms and high humidity levels. By taking proactive measures to prevent mold growth and responding promptly to water damage after storms, homeowners can protect their health and property. Remember, when it comes to mold, prevention is key, but timely action is essential in mitigating the damage and ensuring a safe living environment for you and your family.

Igniting Safety: Home Fire Prevention Tips for the Spring and Summer Months

4/18/2024 (Permalink)

As the sun graces the skies and nature blooms, the spring and summer months invite us to enjoy the outdoors and embrace the warmth. Amidst the joy of these seasons, it's crucial to implement fire prevention measures to safeguard your home and loved ones. In this blog, we'll explore practical tips to keep your living space safe during the spring and summer months

Grill and Yard Safety

Grilling is a quintessential activity during warmer months. Ensure your grill is positioned at least ten feet away from your home and other flammable materials. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby, and never leave the grill unattended.

Spring often involves yard cleanup. When disposing of leaves, branches, and other yard debris, avoid burning them. If burning is necessary, check local regulations and obtain the required permits. Always keep a water source nearby when burning.

Electrical Maintenance

Inspect your electrical wiring and outlets for any signs of wear or damage. Spring is an excellent time for a comprehensive review, ensuring that your home's electrical system is in good condition.

Embrace the longer days with outdoor lighting, but ensure that your lights are designed for outdoor use. Keep them away from dry vegetation, and use LED lights, which emit less heat than traditional bulbs.

Proper Storage of Flammable Materials

Store flammable materials, such as gasoline and propane, in well-ventilated areas away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Check containers for leaks and damage regularly.

Use the change of seasons as a reminder to test and replace the batteries in your smoke alarms. Ensure you have a sufficient number of alarms throughout your home, particularly in bedrooms and hallways.

Air Conditioning Maintenance

As temperatures rise, air conditioners work harder. Ensure your HVAC system is well-maintained, with filters replaced regularly. Overheating appliances can pose a fire risk.

While candles can add ambiance, they should be used with caution. Keep them away from flammable materials, and never leave them unattended. Consider flameless candles as a safer alternative.

Properly Store Combustibles

Store flammable liquids, such as paints and solvents, in cool, well-ventilated areas. Ensure containers are tightly sealed to prevent vapors from escaping.

Ensure that all family members are educated about fire safety. Discuss evacuation plans, meeting points, and the importance of responding promptly to smoke alarms.

Spring and summer offer opportunities for joy and relaxation, but safety should always be a priority. By incorporating these fire prevention tips into your routine, you can enjoy the seasons with peace of mind, knowing that your home is secure. Stay vigilant, practice safety measures consistently, and let the warmer months be a time of joy and safety for you and your loved ones.

Building Smart: A Guide to Mold-Resistant Construction Materials

3/17/2024 (Permalink)

Green SERVPRO van. When it comes to keeping your home or business mold-free, prevention is the name of the game.

When it comes to keeping your home or business mold-free, prevention is the name of the game. One key strategy is to opt for mold-resistant building materials during construction or renovation. These materials not only fortify your property against potential mold growth but also contribute to a better indoor environment. In this blog, we'll dive into some practical tips and tricks for choosing and using mold-resistant building materials.

1. Moisture-Resistant Drywall

Moisture-resistant drywall, often known as green board or blue board, is a game-changer in spaces prone to dampness. Its core is specially designed to resist water absorption, making it less susceptible to mold growth. Consider using moisture-resistant drywall in bathrooms, kitchens, or basements to create an added layer of protection.

2. Mold-Resistant Paints

Give your walls a mold-resistant shield with paints formulated to resist mold and mildew. These paints often contain antimicrobial agents that inhibit mold growth on painted surfaces. When choosing paints, look for labels indicating mold resistance, and consider applying them in areas with high humidity, like bathrooms or laundry rooms.

3. Mold-Resistant Wood Products

Opt for engineered wood products treated with mold-resistant coatings. These materials, such as mold-resistant plywood and oriented strand board (OSB), are designed to deter mold growth. They are particularly beneficial in construction projects where wood is a primary building material.

4. Mold-Resistant Insulation

Select insulation materials that are resistant to mold. Fiberglass and foam board insulations with mold-resistant properties can be effective in preventing mold growth within wall cavities. Proper insulation not only improves energy efficiency but also reduces the risk of mold development.

5. Cement Board for Wet Areas

In wet areas like bathrooms or kitchens, consider using cement backer board for surfaces that will be tiled. The cement board is resistant to moisture, providing a sturdy and mold-resistant substrate for tile installations. This helps prevent mold growth behind or beneath tiles.

6. Mold-Resistant Sealants

Pay attention to the sealants you use in areas prone to moisture. Mold-resistant sealants, designed for use in kitchens, bathrooms, and around windows, create an additional barrier against mold intrusion. Regularly inspect and replace old or deteriorating sealants to maintain their effectiveness.

7. Proper Ventilation Systems

While not a material, a well-designed ventilation system is crucial for preventing mold growth. Ensure proper ventilation in areas with increased humidity, such as bathrooms and kitchens. This helps regulate moisture levels and complements the use of mold-resistant materials.

8. Routine Inspections and Maintenance

Even with mold-resistant materials, it's essential to conduct routine inspections and maintenance. Regularly check for leaks, water damage, or signs of mold growth. Promptly address any issues to uphold the effectiveness of mold-resistant measures.

By incorporating these tips and tricks into your construction or renovation plans, you can create a mold-resistant environment that stands the test of time. Remember, prevention is the key to a mold-free living or working space.

Safeguarding Home and Hearth: Creating a Family Emergency Plan for Water-Related Incidents

1/30/2024 (Permalink)

Water-related emergencies, whether caused by floods, burst pipes, or sudden leaks, can catch us off guard. Having a well-thought-out family emergency plan is paramount to ensure the safety of your loved ones and the protection of your home. In this blog, we'll guide you through the process of creating a family emergency plan specifically tailored for water-related incidents, helping you respond effectively and minimize potential damage.

Knowledge is Power

Educate your family about the potential water-related risks in your area. Discuss the likelihood of flooding, common causes of water damage, and the seasonal variations that may impact your home.

Compile a list of essential emergency contacts and ensure that all family members have access to it. Include local emergency services, your insurance provider, and contacts for professional restoration services in case of significant water damage.

Communication Strategy

Establish a communication strategy that includes a designated meeting point outside the home and an out-of-town contact person. During an emergency, local phone lines may be overwhelmed, so having an out-of-town contact can serve as a central point for communication.

Assemble a comprehensive emergency kit that includes essential items such as non-perishable food, water, first aid supplies, flashlights, batteries, important documents, and any necessary medications. Ensure that the kit is easily accessible to all family members.

Water Shut-Off Location

Familiarize all family members with the location of the main water shut-off valve in your home. In the event of a burst pipe or flooding, shutting off the water supply swiftly can prevent further damage.

Identify and discuss evacuation routes from your home. Know the safest ways to exit each room and designate a meeting point outside. Practice evacuation drills with your family to ensure everyone is familiar with the procedures.

Emergency Procedures

Outline specific emergency procedures for various water-related incidents. This may include steps to take during a flood, burst pipe, or leaking appliance. Ensure that every family member understands their role in executing these procedures.

Safeguard important documents, such as identification, insurance policies, and property deeds, in a waterproof and easily transportable container. Having these documents readily available is crucial for insurance claims and recovery efforts.

Insurance Coverage Review

Regularly review your home insurance coverage with your family. Ensure that everyone understands what is covered in the event of water damage and the process for filing a claim. Update your coverage as needed.

Document your family emergency plan in a clear and concise format. Include key information, emergency contacts, evacuation routes, and procedures for water-related incidents. Distribute copies to each family member and keep one in your emergency kit.

Practice Situational Awareness

Encourage family members to be aware of their surroundings and alert for potential water-related hazards. Teach them to recognize signs of water damage, such as discolored walls, musty odors, or unusual sounds.

Emergency Savings Fund

Establish an emergency savings fund to cover immediate expenses in the aftermath of water-related incidents. Having financial resources readily available can expedite recovery efforts. Periodically review and update your family emergency plan. As circumstances change, such as home renovations or additions to the family, ensure that your plan reflects these adjustments.

Creating a family emergency plan for water-related incidents is a proactive step towards safeguarding your home and loved ones. By instilling a sense of preparedness and practicing your plan regularly, you empower your family to respond effectively in times of crisis. Treat preparedness as a family tradition, ensuring that each member understands their role and the importance of collective action. With a well-prepared family, you can face water-related emergencies with confidence, resilience, and the assurance that you have taken the necessary steps to protect what matters most.

Tips for Commercial Storm Damage Preparedness: Safeguarding Your Business against Nature's Fury

1/10/2024 (Permalink)

Commercial properties are vulnerable to storm damage, which can disrupt business operations and lead to significant financial loss. Being prepared is crucial to minimize the impact of storms. In this blog, we will provide essential tips for commercial storm damage preparedness, helping businesses safeguard their assets and ensure a swift recovery in the face of nature's fury.

Create a Comprehensive Emergency Plan

Developing an emergency plan specific to your commercial property is essential. Identify potential risks and outline step-by-step procedures to follow before, during, and after a storm. Assign responsibilities to employees, establish communication protocols, and designate safe areas. Regularly review and update the plan to ensure its effectiveness.

Conduct Regular Property Inspections

Regular inspections allow you to identify and address potential vulnerabilities before a storm hits. Ensure the structural integrity of the building, inspect the roof, windows, and doors for any signs of damage or weaknesses. Maintain proper drainage systems to prevent water accumulation and flooding. Trim trees and remove dead branches that could pose a threat during high winds.

Secure Important Documents and Data

Protecting your business's crucial documents, records, and data is paramount. Create backups of digital data, and store them offsite or in cloud storage. Keep physical copies of important documents in secure, waterproof containers. Consider digitizing essential papers for easier access and redundancy.

Invest in Storm Resistant Measures

Installing storm-resistant features can help mitigate the impact of severe weather. Reinforce windows with impact-resistant glass or storm shutters. Secure doors with sturdy locks and hinges. Evaluate the structural integrity of the roof and reinforce it if necessary. Consider using landscaping materials that can withstand strong winds.

Maintain Communication Channels

During and after a storm, maintaining effective communication is crucial. Establish multiple communication channels such as phone trees, text message alerts, or group messaging apps to keep employees informed and ensure their safety. Maintain contact information for key personnel, emergency services, and utility companies, and keep them easily accessible.

Establish Relationships with Local Contractors

Before a storm hits, establish relationships with local contractors who specialize in storm damage restoration. Having a trusted contractor readily available can expedite the recovery process. Ensure they have experience working with commercial properties and adequate resources to handle large-scale restoration if needed.

Review and Update Insurance Coverage

Regularly review your insurance coverage to ensure it adequately protects your business against storm damage. Understand the terms and limitations of your policy and consider adding business interruption coverage. Update your coverage as your business grows or when there are changes to your property.

Being proactive in commercial storm damage preparedness is crucial to protect your business and minimize the impact of severe weather. By creating an emergency plan, conducting regular inspections, securing important documents, investing in storm-resistant measures, maintaining communication channels, and reviewing insurance coverage, you can safeguard your business and ensure a swift recovery.

A Guide to Safely Cleaning Up Ash and Debris From Burned Buildings

12/20/2023 (Permalink)

Several green SERVPRO trucks and vans parked outside. Cleaning up ash and debris from burned buildings is a challenging process but our SERVPRO team is here to help.

When fire strikes, the aftermath can be devastating. Cleaning up ash and debris from burned buildings is a challenging task that requires caution, expertise, and the right equipment. Our SERVPRO® team is Here to Help® you navigate the process safely and effectively. In this blog, we'll provide valuable insights and practical steps to assist you in restoring your property.

Why Safe Cleanup Matters

Safety should always be the top priority when cleaning up after a fire. Ash and debris from burned buildings can pose various risks, including exposure to harmful substances, sharp objects, and structural instability. Here's how you can safely clean up the aftermath:

Prioritize Safety

Before you begin, ensure the fire department has declared the building safe to enter. Always wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including gloves, goggles, and N95 respirators, to protect against airborne particles and fumes. Maintain proper ventilation in the area to reduce the risk of inhaling harmful substances.

Assess the Damage

Before diving into cleanup, assess the extent of the damage. Ensure there are no structural issues that could pose a danger while working inside. Pay special attention to compromised roofs and walls, which may collapse if disturbed.

Gather the Necessary Tools

To safely clean up ash and debris, you'll need a set of essential tools and equipment, such as:

  • Heavy-duty trash bags and containers
  • Shovels and rakes
  • Brooms and dustpans
  • Vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters
  • Pressure washers
  • Tarps to cover open areas

Remove Ash and Debris

Begin by removing loose ash and debris. Carefully shovel ash and larger debris into heavy-duty trash bags, taking care not to stir up ash and dust. Ensure you double-bag the waste to prevent contamination. Place these bags in a designated disposal area, following local regulations.

Cleaning Surfaces

Use a pressure washer or hose with a high-pressure nozzle to clean hard surfaces like walls, floors, and countertops. Be cautious when using water to avoid spreading harmful substances. Make sure to wear appropriate PPE during this process.

Handling Hazardous Materials

Ash from burned buildings may contain hazardous materials such as asbestos and lead. If you suspect the presence of such substances, it's best to consult with professionals who specialize in hazardous materials removal.

Air Quality

Improving indoor air quality is crucial after a fire. Use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters in vacuum cleaners to capture fine ash and debris. Consider using air purifiers to further improve air quality.

Seek Professional Assistance

Cleaning up after a fire is a complex task that may require professional help. Restoration experts, like SERVPRO of Winter Haven, can assess the extent of the damage, provide a detailed plan, and safely restore your property to its pre-fire condition.

Cleaning up ash and debris from burned buildings is a challenging process, but with the right knowledge and precautions, it can be done safely and effectively. Prioritize your safety, assess the damage, use the appropriate equipment, and consider seeking professional assistance for the best results.

Achieving Energy Efficiency without Compromising Mold Prevention in Your Home

11/2/2023 (Permalink)

A home's energy efficiency is a top priority for many homeowners, but it's important to consider the potential impact on mold growth. Mold thrives in warm and damp environments, and excessive ventilation and air sealing for energy savings can create such an environment. In this blog, we will explore how to balance energy efficiency and mold prevention.


Proper ventilation is essential in balancing energy efficiency and mold prevention. It is important to ensure that your home has adequate ventilation that minimizes the risk of mold growth, especially in areas where there is potential moisture buildup, such as the kitchen and bathroom. Consider installing whole-house ventilation systems with a heat exchanger that can recover heat from stale air and conserve energy.


Insulation is essential for improving energy efficiency, but care should be taken not to create an environment conducive to mold growth. Use materials that are moisture-resistant and can regulate humidity levels. Inspect insulation for water damage regularly and replace any affected parts. If you live in a humid region, consider using a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air and maintain consistent relative humidity levels.

Air Sealing

Air sealing is another energy efficiency strategy that needs to be balanced with mold prevention. It aims to reduce air leakage by sealing cracks and gaps in walls and floors. However, air sealing can lead to higher indoor humidity levels if not done correctly. Use professional-grade sealants that are moisture-resistant and avoid materials like paper tape that can promote mold growth in moist environments.


Regular maintenance is critical in balancing energy efficiency and mold prevention. Conducting routine inspections can identify leakages, damaged insulation, or faulty ducts before they lead to mold growth. Regular cleaning of air conditioning units and changing filters can improve indoor air quality and prevent mold accumulation in the filters.

Professional Help

In cases where mold growth is beyond your control, consider seeking professional assistance. Professional home energy auditors can help identify energy-saving opportunities while identifying risks of mold growth. Mold remediation professionals can also help identify and remove mold from your home and advise you on how to prevent future growth.

In balancing energy efficiency and mold prevention, proper ventilation, insulation, air sealing, maintenance, and professional assistance are key. A well-implemented strategy can improve your home's energy efficiency while keeping mold at bay. By following these practical tips, you can enjoy a comfortable and healthy living space without jeopardizing energy savings.

Common Signs of Water Damage in Your Home

10/10/2023 (Permalink)

Flood cuts in a home due to a water leak. Recognizing these common signs of water damage in your Winter Haven home is crucial for early detection and prevention.

Water damage can strike when you least expect it, and early detection is key to preventing extensive damage and costly repairs. In this blog, we'll discuss common signs of water damage in your home, helping you identify issues promptly and take action to protect your property.

Musty Odors

Unpleasant, musty odors often indicate the presence of hidden water damage. If your home smells damp or moldy, it's essential to investigate the source promptly. Mold and mildew thrive in moist environments, and their presence can worsen indoor air quality and pose serious risks.

Visible Water Stains

Water stains on ceilings or walls are telltale signs of water intrusion. These stains often appear as discolored patches or streaks and may grow over time. Identifying and addressing the source of the water is critical to prevent further damage.

Peeling or Bubbling Paint and Wallpaper

Moisture can cause paint to peel or wallpaper to bubble away from the wall. If you notice these signs, it's likely that there is water damage behind the surface. Investigate further to prevent more extensive issues.

Warped or Buckled Flooring

Wooden floors, laminate, and even tiles can warp or buckle when exposed to excess moisture. These changes in the flooring's appearance may be due to leaks or flooding and should be addressed promptly to prevent further damage.

Sagging or Discolored Drywall

Drywall can become compromised when it absorbs water. Look for areas of your walls or ceilings that appear saggy or discolored, as this may be an indication of hidden water damage within the walls.

Cracking or Flaking Caulk

Water damage can affect the caulk or sealant around sinks, bathtubs, and windows. If you notice cracking or flaking caulk, it's a sign that water may be infiltrating these areas, potentially leading to structural issues.

Visible Mold Growth

Mold can start growing within 24-48 hours of water exposure. If you see any mold growth, even a small amount, it's a sign of a moisture problem that needs immediate attention. Mold can be harmful to your health and should be remediated professionally.

Increased Utility Bills

A sudden increase in water or energy bills without a clear explanation can also indicate a water leak. Be vigilant about unexpected spikes in your utility costs, as they may signal an underlying issue.

Recognizing these common signs of water damage in your Winter Haven home is crucial for early detection and prevention. If you suspect water damage, don't hesitate to contact SERVPRO® of Winter Haven for professional assessment and restoration services. Our team is dedicated to helping our community protect their homes and property from the effects of water damage. Remember, addressing water damage promptly can save you time, money, and stress in the long run.

Causes & Categories of Water Damage

3/1/2023 (Permalink)

An old poem has the line, “water, water, everywhere”. When you need to say this in your house, you know there is trouble. You may be looking at water damage. There are several different possible causes of water damage.

Causes can include:

Leaky dishwashers or washing machines
Clogged pipes
Leaking roofs
Broken toilet pipes
Heavy rain
Water heater leaks
The amount of water damage depends on the amount of water and on the cause of the damage.

It is also important to start the cleanup as soon as possible. The longer your home or business is water-logged, the more damage.

Categories of Water Damage:

Clean water. It might come from an overflowing sink or a broken appliance. The water does not pose a threat to people. Keep in mind that any water will become contaminated after it stops flowing.
Gray water. This water is contaminated from the get-go. It comes from broken toilets or sump pumps. It might not look dirty, or it might be brown.
Blackwater. Like gray water, it might not look dirty. One major source of black water is broken sewage pipes. Another source is any water that has been standing still.

Poor Drainage Caused Water and Mold Damage

2/11/2023 (Permalink)

Backed-up drainage on a roof caused this Winter Haven patio to flood.

SERVPRO of Winter Haven was called in to clean up the aftermath! The homeowner was extremely happy to have our crew come into her home, extract the water, remediate the mold, and remove all the damaged building materials.

SERVPRO of Winter Haven is locally owned and operated by Chris and Jennifer Brill in Polk County, Florida. In addition to bio-hazard clean-up, we provide full restoration services for damages resulting from water, fire, and mold. From clean-up to full rebuild services.

SERVPRO of Winter Haven is a licensed contractor in the state of Florida.

At SERVPRO of Winter Haven, we make it "Like it never even happened." Call us today! 863-551-5004