Recent Posts

The Scrooge Effect: Common Winter Complaints and How to Address Them

1/19/2024 (Permalink)

Man shoveling snow A safe winter requires preparedness!

The holidays are the most wonderful time of year until they aren’t. Along with cold weather, wintertime can bring on an array of emotions and feelings. It’s important to be mindful of the wide realm of needs when addressing tenant concerns. Here are common issues tenants may bring to a landlord or property manager’s attention along with suggested approaches to take in response:

Snow removal – “Am I going to be able to park in my usual spot?” “Am I responsible for shoveling my own spot/sidewalk?” “What time are you going to clear the lot?” To calm concerned tenants, the person in charge must be proactive. If winter weather is in the forecast, send out an alert reiterating your snow removal policy. Even if your policy or related information is clearly marked in your rental agreement, it’s still a good idea to remind your tenants where to find that information when inclement weather rolls around. Communication is key. Your tenants want to know the protocol before the event of a snowstorm, not during. 

Electricity – The power’s out, now what? This is a tricky issue to address as a timely resolution is typically out of your hands. The optimal course of action is to be in contact with your electric company often to ensure you’re getting the latest updates. If the power is out for an extended period, you may need to consider offering rent deductions and or hotel stay reimbursements. To avoid power outages completely investing in backup generators may be your safest bet. The upfront cost may be intimidating but it could save you money in the long run. 

Dirty and slushy floors – This may seem like a minor issue but for some renters, this is the icing on the cake. A good way to reduce the slush is by doubling up on your doormats. Place a doormat outside your door to stomp off snow then place another immediately inside your doorway. Don’t forget to remind your tenants of basic housekeeping like wiping their feet before entering the building.        

Reduced indoor air quality – It’s not just the weather outside that can be frightful, the air quality inside may be equally concerning. Colder and drier air traps pollutants making the air quality noticeably lower. HVAC inspections and regular heater and AC tune-ups can help you stay on top of your indoor air quality. While it doesn’t eliminate stale air, the circulation of air provided by ceiling fans can help dilute pollutants throughout a space for a short-term fix. It’s important to take air quality concerns seriously as they can lead to severe health issues if not addressed properly. 

Heating issue – Temperatures may lower, but a tenant’s expectations will not. Legally, you must provide adequate heat in your tenants’ living spaces. Exact temperature requirements may depend on the local property maintenance codes. It’s important for both you and your tenants to understand and comply with your state’s heating regulations to best ensure a safe and habitable living environment. A simple step to take is to remind your tenants to not block heating vents. If you still come across a heating issue, make sure to reassure your tenant a solution is in the works and be ready to offer short-term solutions such as space heaters or alternative housing options. 

Keep in mind each of these issues could quickly turn dire if not handled properly and may require legal advice to be dealt with. You don’t need to overwhelm your tenants with unnecessary updates however keeping them in the loop is crucial. Hopefully, these tips will make winter less frightful and more delightful for you and your tenants!

Fireplace Safety- 4 Mistakes to Avoid This Holiday Season

1/11/2024 (Permalink)

Tree and fireplace Our commitment to helping you goes beyond our restoration services!

Stockings are hung, tree is lit, a Christmas movie is playing, cookies are being eaten- a fire in the fireplace is the last piece to tie this holiday scene together. However, when safety isn’t prioritized, this scene could quickly take a dark turn. Here are four components to your fireplace and mistakes to avoid with them-

  1. Firewood- Oak, ash, birch, hard maple, beech, hickory, pecan, dogwood, apple, and almond are all varieties of hardwoods that are acceptable for burning in your home. Any log that is covered with vines could be poison ivy- if that’s the case, the poison would release a dangerous irritant oil into the smoke. Green or unseasoned wood should also be avoided- as it can release harmful particles. Lastly, moldy or rotten wood simply will not release as much heat and therefore should be avoided too.
  2. The ashes- It’s recommended to leave a one-inch bed of ashes on the floor of a wood-burning fireplace but anything more than that needs to go. As it begins to build up, remove the excess ash regularly. To safely remove ashes, use a metal shovel and bucket. Make sure the ashes are fully cooled before throwing them away. Ashes can be thrown in the trash, added to an outdoor compost pile, or even repurposed. Some people use fireplace ashes in their gardens, make homemade cleaning remedies, or even polish silverware or fine jewelry.
  3. The flue-The component of your fireplace that protects your home from possible combustion from heat transfer is the flue. Although durable, the flue needs to be inspected regularly. Cracks and tears can allow unwanted drafts and moisture into your home and result in a steady drip down the chimney. A damaged flue can also allow creosote, a dangerous byproduct that comes from burning wood, to affect the masonry around your chimney and increase your risk of a chimney fire. An annual sweep should eliminate these hazards but regular inspections from the homeowner as an extra caution is advised.
  4. Fireplace Door- most serious issue with fireplace doors is thermal shock breakage, which happens when there’s a major temperature difference across your doors’ surface. To avoid this, build your fires gradually and never pour cold water on hot ashes. In terms of the doors themselves, tempered glass, and ceramic glass help to promote hotter flames and prevent heat loss. Before closing, confirm your doors are specially designed to be shut with a fire burning, otherwise, the glass may shatter. Additionally, install a spark screen to protect your home from embers and sparks.

Remember a little precaution goes a long way! So as you gather around the warmth of your fireplace this holiday season, revisit this SERVPRO® checklist to make sure you’re not unintentionally inviting hazards to your home. From choosing the right firewood to maintaining your chimney flue, each component plays a crucial role in ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience

Is Your Home Feeling the Heat, Too?

9/8/2023 (Permalink)

Outdoor deck You and your house can beat surprise heatwaves!

Excessive heat doesn’t only take a toll on you, but on your house too! When the temperatures rise, there are still ways to keep the costs low. Here’s what to watch for on hot days:

Plumbing- Most homeowners use 2-4 times more water in the summer than they do the rest of the year, that extreme increase can be hard for your plumbing system to handle! Extra water usage from sprinklers, swimming pools, garden houses, and even everyday water use can put high amounts of pressure on pipes so it’s best to confirm pipes are sealed properly before a heat wave comes through

Attics- Crawl into that crawlspace! Elevated temperatures and humidity in a poorly ventilated attic can create a breeding ground for mold.The best way to get hot air out of an attic is to add ventilation and insulation. Regularly inspect your attic to catch any signs of microbial growth or damage in its early stages.

Wooden fixtures/ material-  Wood in your home is particularly susceptible to damage during hot, humid seasons. Even slight condensation on your windows can harm wooden window frames and internal walls. To protect any wood in your space you may want to consider installing energy-efficient windows, venting all appliances to the outside, and running exhaust fans while cooking or bathing. Did you know storing firewood indoors actually adds humidity to your house as the moisture dries out? 


HVAC Systems: If you have the privilege of having one, your air conditioning system becomes your lifeline during a heatwave. However, when the outside temperature climbs to 95 degrees or higher, your AC may struggle to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature. Paradoxically, lowering your thermostat can make the air conditioner worker harder and less effective. To prepare, replace your air filters at least once a month. If your AC unit is 12 years or older, consider replacing it with a new model to keep you and your home happy!

How to Clean Your House to Set Your Family Up for a Successful School Year

8/11/2023 (Permalink)

Mom and kid going to school Welcome a new school year and say goodbye to dirty house-induced stress!

You know the drill: hop in the car, go to your local Staples or Target and go through those back to school shopping lists! Grab that new lunchbox and backpack from the shelf and boom, you’re ready for the new academic year! What many people don’t realize is that school prep can and should begin a little closer to home-actually inside of the home! 

They say a clean house is a happy house! Now, a clean house doesn’t guarantee happiness, but it sure can help boost your chances of feeling that way! As millions of families prepare for the 2023-24 school year, the basic step of organizing and cleaning your home is often overlooked. We have a few simple suggestions that will take minimum effort but will maximize your family’s school year success! 

Laundry Room- Did you know SERVPRO offers washer and dryer maintenance? We can clean your vents and ducts to ensure safe washing and drying without risk of a fire. Dryers should be cleaned at least once a year, and every six months for heavier usage.

Clothing- For convenience sake,  try to store your children’s clothing in a space that’s easily accessible to them which will hopefully increase the chances of them putting it away! Designate a spot or bin for dirty laundry to steer clear of the infamous dirty clothes mountains! 

High Touch Zones- Knobs, handles, switches, remotes are all surfaces that get touched, but probably not cleaned, enough! Cleaning and disinfecting these bacteria heavy areas regularly will help keep the germs picked up from school out of the house. 

Kitchen- Being an emergency disaster relief company, we want to first and foremost warn you of the danger of kitchen fires. Cleaning your kitchen and the appliances in it regularly are easy ways to keep your kitchen fire free. 

Organization- Consider appointing certain areas in your kitchen as lunch and snack stations. You can store things like water bottles, containers, baggies, etc. all in proximity for easy school lunch prep.

Of course, the most vital part of making this school year count is not the tidiness of a house but the people who make it a home! 

Fire Up the Grill, Not Your House: 7 Grill safety Tips Everyone Should Know

7/17/2023 (Permalink)

Grill Stay safe this summer with these 7 grill safety tips

Gas grills are involved in an average of a little under 10,000 house fires each year, don’t let your house be one of them! Follow these steps to keep the fire on the grill and not in your house. 

  • Choose a safe location for your grill 

Location is key! Right off of the house on the deck is a common spot to put a grill, but it isn’t a safe one! Grilling in close proximity to the house is a fire hazard. It’s a good rule of thumb to place your grill at least ten ft away from all structures. When choosing a spot make sure the surface is level and away from any overhanging branches and anything flammable. 

  • Keep a spray bottle on hand

When fat from whatever you’re cooking begins to drip, it’s common for the grill to flare up and cause a section of the grill to catch fire. Keep a spray bottle filled with water near your grill so you can quickly extinguish flames and prevent further spread. 

  • Never leave an in-use grill unattended 

As goes for anything with flames, a lit grill requires constant supervision. It’s wise to stay close to the grill so you can easily see or smell signs of danger such as excessive smoke, flames shooting up higher than usual, or the scent of gas. 

  • Create a “kid-free zone”

Strategically place your grill in a spot that is out of the way and not tempting for small children to go to. Enforcing the 3 foot “kid-free” is a great way to ensure safety and that no accidents occur.

  • Clean your grill regularly 

When not cleaned regularly, grease buildup on your grill can become a serious fire hazard. It’s a good idea to clean your grill with a grill brush after each time you use it and empty the grease tray as soon as you notice it filling up.

  • Store propane tanks away from your house 

Keep propane tanks outdoors in a well-ventilated area. To ensure safety, always keep the tank upright and check the valves are turned off fully. 

  • Wear the right clothing 

Closed-toed shoes, oven mitts, and an apron are good protective measures to wear. Avoid loose-fitting clothing, dangling jewelry, and tie your hair back if it is long. 

Our integration of DocuSketch: a state-of-the-art 3D documentation technology

6/8/2023 (Permalink)

Man with tripod We use the best technology so we can provide you with the best services!

SERVPRO® uses AI? Yes, we do! SERVPRO Team McCabe is always looking for ways to enhance our services, so integrating cutting-edge technology is a natural choice for us. We use DocuSketch, a 3D documentation tool to get precise digital floor plans to create estimates for scopes of work.

DocuSketch helps us capture 360-degree panoramic photos of every room. These sketches serve multiple purposes, being valuable for our team’s reference and frequently utilized by insurance companies, sub-contractors, and even customers! 

So how exactly does it work? DocuSketch uses AI software to perform an automated review process that analyzes the compliance and completeness of a scope. This process ensures the information we use to create estimates is as accurate as humanly (or not humanly in this case!) possible. 

The primary role of our on-site estimator is to gain a clear understanding of the specific tasks and volume of work necessary to restore an area to its preloss conditions. While AI helps with that process, our real-life estimator picks up on issues/concerns AI can’t. Our estimator prioritizes the safety and comfort of customers and promptly addresses any general, safety, or financial concerns. 

With the help of DocuSketch, our estimator creates an estimate for the job, taking into account the severity of the damage, area dimensions, and many other factors to produce with the final price. 

If you're dealing with a loss, give us a call today and we'll get you an estimate as soon as possible!

24/7, 365, We’re here for you!

Sold on Old? What to Watch for Living in/Buying an Older House

5/11/2023 (Permalink)

Stone house with window What's lurking behind the walls in your house?

It’s been said that old structures are full of charm, rich history, and memories of what once was, but what else may still be lurking in the walls and halls? Not every part of a home will and should stand the test of time. It’s important to be aware of the structural and safety issues that come with an old house. Depending on what year your home was built, here’s what to look out for:

Before 1989:

The EPA issued a final rule banning most asbestos-containing products this year, no new products containing asbestos are to be manufactured. Asbestos exposure can cause several different types of cancer,

 so it’s crucial to know what to look for. 

Before 1980:

Cast-iron pipes were popular before 1980 for their durability and longevity. One of the reasons cast-iron pipes are no longer used is their susceptibility to corrosion and rust. 

Before 1978:

Lead paint in exterior and interior paint is likely to have been used if it was built before this year. 

Before 1970: It’s likely your home doesn’t have any mitigation system in place since radon gas was not considered a serious threat until the 1970s. Unlike newly constructed homes, older homes don’t have the proper ventilation to direct radon gas out of living space. 

Between 1960- mid-1970s:

Aluminum wiring on its own isn’t considered a hazardous material. When connected to a terminal made from copper or another metal a corrosive chemical reaction could occur, leading to an electrical fire. 

Between 1890s-1930s:

Knob and tube wiring do not have a ground wire, making them incapable of servicing any three-pronged appliances. This type of wiring is far more likely to have unsafe modifications than modern wiring. The age alone of knob and tube wiring is the main reason it can be so unsafe. 

Don’t let this information scare you! Most of these problems can be dealt with and resolved if handled properly. SERVPRO® has the resources and skills to help you with these issues, so feel free to reach out!

Calling all Landlords- Three Hacks to Make Life Easier for You and Your Tenants

4/14/2023 (Permalink)

Apartment with key You hold the key to good tenant-landlord relationships!

Whether you manage one property or one hundred, follow these simple steps to ensure smooth sailing in the roaring sea of real estate! 

  1. Communicate with tenants- The most obvious and perhaps most overlooked step of them all: clear communication between landlord and tenant helps everyone stay on the same page, ergo eliminating room for gray areas and misunderstandings. While communicating directly with each individual tenant is necessary for some instances, don’t shy away from mass communication. Chances are if one tenant has a question, others are likely thinking the same thing! Facebook groups are a great place to share helpful tips and updates with current and potential tenants. 
  1. Give emergency contact info- In the event of an emergency, it’s crucial for tenants to know who they should contact. Get specific, and provide the names of the preferred vendors for any emergency. It will help put you both at ease knowing there’s a game plan in place. 
  1. Have a written rental agreement- A written document signed by both parties ensures accountability and protection. Written agreements may include anything from who to pay when something breaks, to timeline stipulations, snow removal requirements, and anything in between. Expectations should be made clear in this agreement to prevent confusion down the road. 


To simplify these steps further, use SERVPRO Team McCabe’s ERP! Our emergency-ready program enables you to keep all of your vital property information in one place. Our ERPs clearly map out what to do in an emergency. To learn more about SERVPRO’s ERP program please contact marketingstaff@SERVPROupperbucks.com

Think Before you Toss: The Do’s and Don’ts of Disaster Cleanup

3/13/2023 (Permalink)

Person sorting through box of books The easy way isn't always the best way!

While it’s understandable to want to cleanse your space of debris/ damage after a disaster you might want to think twice before tossing that soggy document or dumping that couch! You would  think it’s in your best interest to quickly purge all things damaged but SERVPRO Team McCabe is here to say: resist the urge! Our team of highly trained professionals can help you restore the right and safe way.

DON'T Frantically toss important documents

DO Check to see if you have digital copies, take photos, and then if you do want to dispose of the documents shred them so no one can access any personal information

DON'T Try to restore severely damaged items on your own

DO Leave it to the professionals, as direct contact with certain types of damage such as mold and sewage can cause severe health issues

DON'T Panic

DO Remain calm, take it one step at a time

DON'T Stay if the condition of the house is negatively affecting you and or making you unwell

DO Prioritize your health and, if necessary, seek medical attention from your healthcare provider

DON'T Wait to call your insurance company and or SERVPRO because “it might get better on its own”

DO Make your calls ASAP, the sooner you make the call the sooner you can get help

DON'T Start clean up and repairs before notifying insurance

DO Allow insurer to inspect the property before any repairs take place

DON'T Have the “what I can’t see can’t hurt me” mentality

DO Bring in professionals whose expertise allows them (us!) to notice areas of damage you may not have been aware of, especially when it comes to water and mold damage.

Preparing Your Home for Winter

11/29/2022 (Permalink)

Ice build up over the side of a house with text: SERVPRO Disaster Recovery Team McCabe, Preparing your Home for Winter In the event of any winter damage to your home this winter, do not hesitate to give us a call, we are here to help.

Whether this is your first winter in your new home or your fifteenth, there are some measures you should take to prepare your house for the next few months. While your personal plan may be to turn on the heat and hibernate through the winter, the snow, ice, and rain can still cause your home some serious issues inside and out. 

The outside of the house is the number one hassle we think of in the winter, there is shoveling, plowing, and clearing off the cars. Unfortunately, snow can accumulate and cause a lot of direct damage to the house. Snow buildup can cause strain on the roof and should be removed as soon as it is safe. Ice can also accumulate on your gutters causing ice dams that are not only dangerous to your home but can also cause injury if it falls or is removed unsafely. Your gutters should be cleaned by removing leaves and other debris before the first storm of the season and if you do see ice building up you can clear them using a de-icing agent or a heated gutter cable to remove them without causing injury. Frequent temperature changes can also put cracks in your chimney which should be monitored throughout the winter so that repairs can be made as soon as the weather improves. Another outdoor situation to monitor is the surrounding trees; as snow and ice gather no tree limbs they can become weighed down and snap causing damage to the home or other surrounding structures. Trees should be pruned in the fall and cleared as needed during the winter to prevent any potential damage. 

The cold can cause cracks in the caulk within the house causing drafts and affecting your heating bill. The wet conditions can also cause rotting along your door frames. This can lead to termites in the spring and even extensive damage that might result in you needing a new door frame. Be sure to check for any wood rot along the bottom of the door frame and fill in any damage with epoxy wood filler as needed. Frozen pipes are arguably the most prevalent issue with a few things that can be done to help prevent them. More specific prevention ideas for frozen pipes are written about in a recent blog. 

The basement can also be a problem area and not just with your sump pump, though that is definitely a common element in basement focused water losses. When the heavy snow begins to melt it can seep into the basement or even cause the foundation to crack. With any signs of water in the basement be sure to check if your sump pump is working properly, and that the extension hose is draining. If the temps are below freezing remove the extension hose before a freeze causes a backup into your home. Ensure you have the proper yard drainage and repair any foundation cracks as needed throughout the winter. 

These are just a few areas to keep an eye on as the temperatures drop and we close out the year. Hopefully, these tips will help prevent some water losses however they may not be completely foolproof. If you do notice any damage to your property this winter do not hesitate to give us a call, we are here to help.