How Sump Pumps Work
Sump pumps are crucial in safeguarding homes from water damage, especially in areas prone to flooding or excessive moisture. These devices are designed to efficiently remove water accumulating in basements or crawl spaces, preventing costly damage and potential health hazards.
At its core, a sump pump is a mechanical device that sits in a specially constructed pit, known also as a sump pit or sump basin, usually located in the lowest part of a basement or crawl space. The primary function of the sump pump is to pump out water that collects in this pit.
This is where it gets interesting, because if any of this fails you, then you could have a flooded basement and thousands of dollars in damages.
How it all works and what you should know
When water enters the sump pit, it triggers a float switch or pressure sensor, depending on the type of pump. These mechanisms activate the pump when the water reaches a certain level, signaling the need for action. Once activated, the sump pump uses an electric motor to power an impeller or propeller, which spins rapidly, creating a centrifugal force.
As the impeller spins, it creates a low-pressure area at its center, causing water to be drawn into the pump through an intake valve or suction pipe. The water is then accelerated and expelled from the pump through a discharge pipe, which directs it away from the house to a designated drainage area, such as a storm sewer or a dry well.
Some sump pumps have additional features to enhance their functionality and reliability. For instance, some models come with a backup power source, such as a battery or generator, to ensure continued operation during power outages when water damage risks are often higher. And some have a check valve system to keep water from flowing back into the pit.
Regular maintenance is essential to ensure the optimal performance of a sump pump. It is recommended to inspect the pump periodically, checking for any signs of damage or debris that may impede its operation. Testing the pump by pouring water into the sump pit can also help verify that it activates and pumps out water as intended.
If the unthinkable does happen and your home is damaged by water from a failed sump pump — or from other water intrusions — then it is time to call in your favorite restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
How Lightning Works
We often think of flooding, broken pipes, and failed sump pumps as the leading cause of damage to our homes. And you would be correct in thinking that. But there are other events that can occur that can damage our home besides water intrusion.
Lightning strikes are one of those events that can happen during any thunderstorm and cause considerable damage to homes. It’s important to understand the details behind one of the most powerful natural phenomena in existence.
How does lightning even occur in the first place? It results from a natural electrical discharge that occurs during powerful storms, caused by the buildup of static electricity in the atmosphere, and then released in sudden, powerful bursts.
During a thunderstorm, air currents cause particles to collide and create a separation of electric charge. The negatively charged particles tend to accumulate at the bottom of the cloud, while the positively charged particles accumulate at the top of the cloud. This separation of charge creates an electric field, which can be thousands of volts per meter.
And when it becomes strong enough, the electrical field ionizes the air molecules, creating a path of ionized air called a “leader.” The leader travels downward from the cloud in steps, with each step creating a faint glow. When the leader nears the ground, a stream of positively charged ions is attracted to the leader, and this upward stream of ions is called a positive streamer.
When the two meet, you get lightning, which heats the air around it to thousands of degrees Celsius, causing a thunder shockwave, which is what we hear.
Besides taking cover and protecting yourself, what can you do to prepare and avoid damage to your home from lightning? Here are a few ideas.
Install a lightning protection system: A lightning protection system consists of a metal rod or conductor that is mounted on the roof and connected to a ground rod. This system helps to direct the lightning strike away from your home and safely into the ground.
Unplug appliances: During a thunderstorm, unplug any appliances that are not needed to prevent damage from power surges caused by lightning strikes.
Use surge protectors: Install surge protectors to protect sensitive electronics from power surges caused by lightning strikes.
By taking these precautions, you can help protect your home and keep your family safe during a thunderstorm. But when lightning does strike, or if you have any other damage to your home such as from a fire or flooding, call your favorite restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
How Clouds Work
We all know there are rainy seasons and dry seasons and all types of weather in between. Moisture comes to us in all types, and most of us view clouds as the source. But have you ever thought of how clouds work? And what that means for your home?
Clouds are formed when water vapor in the atmosphere condenses into tiny water droplets or ice crystals. This process occurs when warm, moist air rises and cools, causing the water vapor to condense into visible clouds. There are several ways that this can happen.
Convection is one of those ways. This occurs when warm air rises due to being less dense than cooler air. As the warm air rises, it cools and the water vapor it contains condenses to form clouds.
Then you have frontal lifting. This occurs when two air masses with different temperatures and different humidity levels meet. The warmer, less dense air is forced to rise over the cooler, denser air. As the warm air rises, it cools and forms clouds.
Here’s a term you probably haven’t heard of: Orographic lifting. This occurs when air is forced to rise over mountains or other topographic features. As the air rises, it cools and clouds form.
Once clouds form, they can continue to grow and change shape as more water vapor condenses onto existing droplets or ice crystals. The type of cloud that forms depends on the temperature, humidity, and altitude of the air where the cloud is forming. Clouds can be classified into different types, including cirrus, stratus, cumulus, and nimbus, among others.
Thunderstorms are usually associated with cumulonimbus clouds, which are commonly known as thunderstorm clouds. These clouds are characterized by their tall, anvil-shaped tops and can extend up to 50,000 feet into the atmosphere. Cumulonimbus clouds are formed by a combination of warm, moist air rising rapidly and cold air descending, which creates a strong updraft.
And this is the typical situation when a storm hits your home, and you get a flooded basement or other water damage. When that happens, there’s not much you can do at that point but wait until the storm passes and then assess damage.
Trying to clean it up yourself is possible, but there are hazards involved. It’s best to contact your favorite restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
How Hurricanes Work
We all watch with trepidation and fear as hurricanes approach land… even if we don’t live in an affected area, the very thought of what others are about to go through is sobering. Hurricanes are devastating storms that are becoming more common in recent years.
While hurricanes are somewhat predictable based on expert weather forecasters and keeping an eye on tropical storms, they are subject to changes in direction, strength, and potential damage over the period of time from forming to dissipating after hitting land.
While you may not find a hurricane interesting as you hunker down as a storm approaches land, or perhaps are evacuating and heading inland, how hurricanes work is a scientific marvel.
In a nutshell, warm ocean waters and thunderstorms are the building blocks of a hurricane. For one to form, there needs to be warm ocean water and humid, moist air, and as the humid air flows upward, water is released, creating storm clouds. As it rises because of the warm air, the air rotates. As the hurricane forms, it sucks heat from the water to fuel the storm.
But it all starts as a tropical storm. When a tropical storm is announced, everyone looks to see where it is and what the projected path looks like. It is typically westward, and the storm can quickly grow in strength and when it meets certain criteria, such as 74 miles per hour, it is declared a hurricane.
As it moves across the ocean, air rises and cools, forming clouds and thunderstorms, and up high in the clouds, water condenses and forms droplets, releasing even more heat to continue to power the storm. It’s all a powerful, rotating, organized system of clouds and thunderstorms.
During just one hurricane, winds can rage and churn and create nearly 50% of the energy capable of providing electricity to the entire world. What’s interesting is the cloud and rain formation from that same hurricane can release energy that is 400 times that amount.
Hurricanes are interesting. But also deadly. They cause a tremendous amount of property damage and take lives. When one is on its way toward you, evacuate. Your home can be repaired. And when you return and discover you need help, call your favorite restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Source: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Don’t Forget these Spring-Cleaning Tasks
When the spring season finally arrives, most of us get into a cleaning mood. Others clean out of necessity. But regardless the motive, spring is a great time to spruce things up, clean areas or items that have been neglected during the long winter, and just get ready for a busy summer.
However, besides the obvious things we clean, such as carpet, floors, windows, and the like, there are some chores we might either ignore (on purpose) or forget about completely.
Spice rack and containers
You use them all the time. Grab a nice spice and give your sauce a dash of flavor. Put the lid back on and put it back on the spice rack or wherever you store your spices. Did you clean that jar before putting it back? Have you ever? It’s one of those often-forgotten items that could use at least an annual cleaning. Imagine all the hands and fingers on all those spices during the year… Give your spice rack and contents a good spring cleaning.
Stove and microwave hoods and filters
The purpose of the hood, vent, and any filters is to collect debris, and it’s all greasy. Get a good all-purpose kitchen degreaser, some paper towels, and any other scrubbing tools you wish to use, roll up your sleeves, and get cleaning. You will be amazed how much a year of cooking and normal use will add to the grease build-up on these surfaces.
Just think of all that stuff you put into the sink and into the garbage disposal. While it grinds away and does its job without complaining, there is often a buildup of grime on the blades and in the mechanical parts of the disposal. An easy way to clean your disposal is with lemon wedges. Cut up a lemon and add a few wedges to your disposal, turn it on, and let it run with hot water. That should cut the grease and clean the disposal. The wedges may not get “disposed” of enough so after it is all done, you may have to remove them. Be sure to turn off the electricity to the disposal before reaching in, and never use your fingers. Use cooking tongs to be safe.
This is easy. Get down on your hands and knees and look under your kitchen table. Enough said. Get to work.
When you need professional cleaning, don’t hesitate to call your favorite cleaning company, especially with surfaces like carpet and hard floors. After all, it pays to call a pro!
How Flooding Works
While flooding can occur at any time, in many parts of the country it is more common with spring rains. It just depends on where you live. That being said, it is worth noting how flooding works, why rainwater can build up and become a devastating force to deal with, and other causes of flooding.
Flooding usually happens when an abundance of water covers dry land. It can happen when a lake, river, creek, or other waterway overflows its banks. That can be from heavy rainfall or even when water is released from a reservoir, canal, or dam.
Some flooding may be a few inches deep, and at times in severe weather or a devastating event, it can cover a house. It can come ashore near an ocean in the form of a hurricane, be carried by high winds, and other natural causes. It can come down from mountains when there is heavy rain or even snow melting.
In fact, mountains and hills produce an impressive amount of runoff, which can cause streams and waterways to quickly rise. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says this can happen in just minutes in heavy rainfall, which means there is virtually no warning time. All you can do is appreciate potential danger and watch the weather, and not just in your area, but for any part of the waterway you are near. This type of flash flood is really considered the most dangerous type because it happens in a… well… flash. Quickly. It occurs when heavy rainfall exceeds the ground’s ability to absorb moisture, or when a previous-mentioned event (overflowing banks, release from a reservoir) happens.
In the United States, floods kill more people than tornadoes, hurricanes, or lightning. Floods are extremely dangerous but often the risk is downplayed.
Areas that are densely populated are at risk because the construction of buildings, roadways, parking areas, and what is typical of an urban area allow rain to build up with nowhere to go, especially if it has rained over an extended time and the storm drain system is overworked.
Never enter a flood zone unprepared or untrained. Rely on the experts. Even a small amount of flooding can be dangerous. We have all seen the pictures and videos of those stranded in their vehicles, some standing on top of them, while flood waters raged by. And some have lost their lives because they thought they could get through flood waters. Don’t become a statistic.
With flooding comes water damage in homes and buildings, which bring unique potential dangers, such as mold contamination. When you experience water damage, do the right thing. Call your favorite disaster restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
When Mold Attacks Grout
Your bathtub or shower are prime locations for mold to grow and thrive. After all, mold needs moisture, a relatively dark area, and a food source — all of which can be found almost any bathroom.
Mold growth in a home is a concern because of possible health hazards from exposure. If you see mold, it’s best to call a professional restoration company because the root cause may be more serious than you think. Mold under cabinets and in dark areas of a bathroom can be a cause for concern.
But mold on grout, especially in a bath or shower, is a task you should be able to handle on your own easily and safely. When mold attacks grout, you need these tips to get the job done right.
Scrub brush and detergent solution
This is an easy first step. You can use an off-the-shelf bathroom surface cleaning product, or create your own from warm water, a little dish detergent, and some baking soda. The detergent will help clean, and the baking soda will raise the alkalinity which helps clean mold. Apply the solution liberally to the grout and use your scrub brush vigorously and this might do the trick. Rinse and repeat. Grout is tough, scrub away!
If cleaning doesn’t do the trick, it’s time to get creative and do what the pros do — bleach away discolorations. Remember that bleach alone is not the best cleaning agent. The job of a bleach is to remove color, and the dark stains from mold in grout is just that — color. If you clean thoroughly, then bleaching comes next.
You have choices with bleach. The safest to use is hydrogen peroxide, which can be purchased at any grocery store or pharmacy. Pour the peroxide directly on the grout, give it several minutes to work, and scrub and rinse. Let it dry and see how it looks. This might do the trick. Some recommend chlorine bleach, the common household bleach used in laundry. If you use it, be very careful as this is very strong and must be used according to directions and never mixed with other products.
The professionals have answers to any of your mold questions. When you see mold, do the right thing. Call your favorite disaster restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Fear the Storms
The numbers are amazing, and at times they can be scary.
When you think of your worst storm fears, tornadoes may come to mind, with some $2.5 million loss per storm as a common occurrence. And then we have hailstorms, with some 5,382 major hailstorms in 2020. Hurricanes in 2018-2019 hit some $136 billion in damages. Are you afraid of lightning? Yearly ground strikes in the United States is close to 200,000,000, with Australia following at almost 150,000,000 and Canada at 18,000,000.
Those are amazing, and devastating, numbers.
But most often, flooding is the biggest fear. And the price is going up, with some predicting an increase in damage of some 60% in the next 30 years.
What’s the point? Storm damage is on the increase, with the average cost of a flooded basement between $15,000 and $20,000, and more, depending on estimates. A flooded house can be devastating to your pocketbook.
There is a lot that can happen to your home! And when that happens, what do you need to do? You want to get things back to normal, of course. Here are some tips to do that, according to the experts.
Know your rights, know your coverage, and take care of what matters to you the most.
Of course, your favorite restoration company knows all of this. They are on your side. Talk to them and get their help. After all, it pays to call a pro!
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