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Understanding the Timeline of Water Damage

6/27/2018 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Understanding the Timeline of Water Damage Water Damage Timeline

Flooding and water emergencies don’t wait for regular business hours and neither do we. SERVPRO of Spencer & Iowa Great Lakes provides emergency cleaning and restoration services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week—including all holidays.

Flooding and water damage is very invasive. Water quickly spreads throughout your home and gets absorbed into floors, walls, furniture, and more.  SERVPRO of Spencer & Iowa Great Lakes arrives quickly and starts the water extraction process almost immediately. This immediate response helps to minimize the damage and the cleaning and restoration costs.

Need Emergency Service? Call Us 24/7 SERVPRO of Spencer & Iowa Great Lakes  712-262-4379

Here is a Typical Timeline for Water Damage:

Within Minutes:

  • Water quickly spreads throughout your property, saturating everything in its path.
  • Water is absorbed into walls, floors, upholstery, and belongings.
  • Furniture finishes may bleed, causing permanent staining on carpets.
  • Photographs, books, and other paper goods start to swell and warp.

Hours 1 - 24:

  • Drywall begins to swell and break down.
  • Metal surfaces begin to tarnish.
  • Furniture begins to swell and crack.
  • Dyes and inks from cloth and paper goods spread and stain.
  • A musty odor appears.

48 Hours to 1 Week:

  • Mold and mildew may grow and spread.
  • Doors, windows, and studs swell and warp.
  • Metal begins to rust and corrode.
  • Furniture warps and shows signs of mold.
  • Paint begins to blister.
  • Wood flooring swells and warps.
  • Serious biohazard contamination is possible.

More Than 1 Week:

  • Restoration time and cost increase dramatically; replacing contaminated materials and structural rebuilding may be extensive.
  • Structural safety, mold growth, and biohazard contaminants pose serious risks to occupants.

About SERVPRO of Spencer & Iowa Great Lakes

SERVPRO of Spencer & Iowa Great Lakes specializes in the cleanup and restoration of residential and commercial property after a fire, smoke or water damage event. Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration. From initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO’s corporate training facility to regular IICRC-industry certification, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property.
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Does your home smell like... Dog?

6/5/2018 (Permalink)

Cleaning Does your home smell like... Dog? How to Eliminate Dog Odor

Summer weather is here and it is finally time to let the dog outside! For many of us living in Northwest Iowa our dogs are part of the family. Whether Fido is our hunting, walking, or riding buddy there is no amount of love that can make up for their doggy scent left behind on the furniture, the carpet the back seat of your car and even your clothes! 

Now that the warm weather has finally arrived, the door is open and Fido is out of the house, the smell seems to hang around! With family coming around for the occasional get-together we are here to offer some tips on keeping your house smelling clean!

How to Eliminate Dog Odor 

  1. Start off by taking all of the furniture apart – pillows, blankets and the like – and vacuuming everything thoroughly. If the sofa and chairs have removable slipcovers or cushion covers, take those off for washing. Get into the crevices of the furniture as deep as possible to remove all the hair, and flip the bed mattress to get both sides. On the floors, make sure to get under all of the furniture and in the corners, where “hair bunnies” tend to gather.
  2. On the carpets, bed and furniture, sprinkle baking soda liberally, using a cleaning brush to spread it around and into the fabric. Let it all sit overnight so that the baking soda has a chance to absorb the odors.  Follow up by vacuuming all of the baking soda from the bed, carpet and furnishings and returning the bed linens and cushion covers or slipcovers to the furniture.

If your cleaning requires more than you can do, bring your furniture or rugs by your local SERVPRO of Spencer & Iowa Great Lakes! We will help you get your summer started off fresh!

Groundwater, backup, sump pump failure event announced

5/23/2018 (Permalink)

Water Damage Groundwater, backup, sump pump failure event announced Insurance loopholes you need to protect yourself against.

SERVPRO® of Spencer and Iowa Great Lakes, a local cleanup and restoration company, along with Community Insurance will be providing a free lunch and learn for realtors, property managers as well as the general public. This educational program will take place at the Holiday Inn & Suites in Spencer on Thursday, June 14 from 12:00 – 1:00 PM and a light lunch will be provided.

The session will cover the different types of insurance homeowners should be adding to their homeowner’s policy in the case of ground-water, water back-up, sump pump failure and/or sewer backup entering their basement.

“There is a million ways water can get into your home, but what homeowners don’t always understand is what type of coverage they need in each case. Many times, SERVPRO professionals visit a home with water damage and the homeowner is upset when their policy does not cover the water damage,” shared Lathe Toft, owner of SERVPRO of Spencer and Iowa Great Lakes.

Scott Simpson, President of Community Insurance continued, “We are delighted that SERVPRO called our team to help educate home and business owners understand their policies better. It’s our goal to help policyholders take a deeper look at their policies before they have a major damage occur. Not knowing what’s in your policy can have serious financial consequences.”

Class size is limited, so SERVPRO is asking those interested to RSVP by calling their office at (712) 262-4379 or email

Choosing a sump pump that lasts!

4/25/2018 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Choosing a sump pump that lasts! Flooded sump pump.

Besides a great insurance policy, the next best thing that will defend your home against flooding is a sump pump. Water is collected from around the foundation of your home through a drainage system, and runs into a basin/pit, where a sump pump will pump out the water up and away from your home. 

Types of Pumps

When you head over to Bomgaars or Menards (or your favorite plumbing supply store) you will be able to choose a submersible or column (pedestal) sump pump. Submersible pumps require larger pit because they are below the water. The benefit to this type of sump pump is that the motor cools quickly under the water and the noise level is reduced when it’s in operation. Pedestal sump pumps are great for small or narrow basin/pit. They tend to last longer because the motor is mounted above water. They also consume less power. The downfall of this type of pump is that it pumps less water during a flood. 

Types of Floats

With floats, you will have three options from which to choose: a tethered, vertical and electronic float switch. The tethered option is great for deep basins/pits. The extra length extends the period of time between cycles and allows the pump to cool off more efficiently. Vertical switches are better for narrow and shallow basins and will kick off the pump more often. Electronic switches are more compact and require a small pump pit. We recommend that you don’t use an electronic switch if your pump receives water from a wash sink or clothes washer to prevent soap scum from making contact with the switch.


More horsepower means that water is pumped out more quickly, but it also requires more power consumption. If your pit fills quickly – choose more horse power – or consider making your pit larger.

Check Valves

A check valve prevents water from the discharge pipe to fall back into the pit. If a check valve is not installed the sump pump may re-pump discharged water and may shorten the life of the pump.


We recommend that you install a backup pump that uses batteries to make sure water is pumped out during a power outage or when the main pump fails.

And as always, we recommend that you ensure your sump pump is working properly throughout the year. Test and maintain it monthly.

For professional fire, water, and mold restoration services, contact SERVPRO of Spencer & Iowa Great Lakes today at 712-262-4379.

You can control mold

4/25/2018 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation You can control mold Learn how to control mold in your home.

Here are some great tips from the CDC []

Inside your home you can control mold growth by:

  • Controlling humidity levels;
  • Promptly fixing leaky roofs, windows, and pipes;
  • Thoroughly cleaning and drying after flooding;
  • Ventilating shower, laundry, and cooking areas.

If mold is growing in your home, you need to clean up the mold and fix the moisture problem.

Mold growth can be removed from hard surfaces with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of household laundry bleach in 1 gallon of water.

Mold growth, which often looks like spots, can be many different colors, and can smell musty. If you can see or smell mold, a health risk may be present. You do not need to know the type of mold growing in your home, and CDC does not recommend or perform routine sampling for molds. No matter what type of mold is present, you should remove it. Since the effect of mold on people can vary greatly, either because of the amount or type of mold, you can not rely on sampling and culturing to know your health risk. Also, good sampling for mold can be expensive, and standards for judging what is and what is not an acceptable quantity of mold have not been set. The best practice is to remove the mold and work to prevent future growth.

If you choose to use bleach to clean up mold:

  • Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce dangerous, toxic fumes.
  • Open windows and doors to provide fresh air.
  • Wear non-porous gloves and protective eye wear.
  • If the area to be cleaned is more than 10 square feet, consult the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guide titled Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings. Although focused on schools and commercial buildings, this document also applies to other building types. You can get it by going to the EPA web site at
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using bleach or any other cleaning product.


  • Keep humidity levels as low as you can—no higher than 50%–all day long. An air conditioner or dehumidifier will help you keep the level low. Bear in mind that humidity levels change over the course of a day with changes in the moisture in the air and the air temperature, so you will need to check the humidity levels more than once a day.
  • Be sure your home has enough ventilation. Use exhaust fans which vent outside your home in the kitchen and bathroom. Make sure your clothes dryer vents outside your home.
  • Fix any leaks in your home’s roof, walls, or plumbing so mold does not have moisture to grow.
  • Clean up and dry out your home thoroughly and quickly (within 24–48 hours) after flooding.
  • Add mold inhibitors to paints before painting.
  • Clean bathrooms with mold-killing products.
    Remove or replace carpets and upholstery that have been soaked and cannot be dried promptly. Consider not using carpet in rooms or areas like bathrooms or basements that may have a lot of moisture.

To learn more about preventing mold in your home, see the Environmental Protection Agency’s publication A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home[PDF – 1.38 MB].

In addition to causing significant property damage, mold can produce allergens and irritants that can cause health effects. SERVPRO Franchise Professionals understand mold and mold growth and have the training and equipment to remediate the mold in your home or business.

Have Mold Related Questions? 
Call Us Today 712-262-4379

FSRT Certification – IICRC

4/19/2018 (Permalink)

Fire Damage FSRT Certification – IICRC Last week Chris, Carol, Lathe and Ryan attended the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification

Last week Chris, Carol, Lathe and Ryan attended the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) Fire and Smoke Restoration Technician (FSRT) certification course in Ft. Dodge. They learned how to combine technical procedures with a practical approach to managing a job site.

This two-day seminar enhances the skills of our team to be able to provide further job planning and execution, chemical and equipment requirements, structural cleaning, as well as determining the job scope and estimating after a fire. Our goal is to get our customers back into their restored home quickly.

The class consisted of learning specific techniques to deal with:

  • Insurance Coverages
  • Emergency Cleaning
  • Contents Cleaning & Manipulation
  • Structural Cleaning
  • Equipment Options
  • Deodorization
  • Proper Procedures & Chemicals
  • Jobsite Safety

Our team also learned how different types of smoke affect restoration of books, electronics and artwork.

As one of the nation's leading providers of restoration services, SERVPRO® has developed the most extensive performance guidelines in the industry. These guidelines assure you receive the best restoration service in the industry when you call 712-262-4379.

High standards to help ensure excellent service

4/19/2018 (Permalink)

Storm Damage High standards to help ensure excellent service Chris recently attended a three-day seminar covering Water Damage Restoration (WRT) through the IICRC.

Chris recently attended a three-day seminar covering Water Damage Restoration (WRT) through the IICRC in Ft. Dodge. He learned about the newest techniques in extraction, basic containment and basic mold procedures. He was able to bring this knowledge back to our crew at SERVPRO® of Spencer & Iowa Great Lakes to give us a better concept of water damage, its effects and techniques for drying of structures. It will give us all a better understanding of the procedures necessary to deal with water losses and sewer backflows.

We dare you to ask Chris about psychrometric readings! Honestly, it’s way over my head – but he has a passion for the science behind drying. He even has a fancy little chart that you may see him carrying around to various job sites. There apparently is an entire science of psychrometry, things called wet bulb, dry bulb, relative and absolute humidity – WHO KNEW!? I just thought my hair didn’t like humid days, and my skin hates low-humidity days. But Chris can take the theory of psychrometry and apply it to any water-loss job to make sure we are being efficient in our drying processes. After he understands how the climate in your home reads, he can then use it to understand what drying strategies can be best used. And, yes there are more than one way to dry a building. He will look for the most efficient and cost-effective strategy for each job.

We can honestly say, yes, sometimes SERVPRO isn’t the cheapest option for you – but you can be sure we do a darn good job and do it the RIGHT way the first time when you experience a water-loss. Our owners expect continuing education for all our staff and allow us to use that knowledge to bring the best service to you!

As one of the nation's leading providers of restoration services, SERVPRO® has developed the most extensive performance guidelines in the industry. These guidelines assure you receive the best restoration service in the industry when you call 712-262-4379.

Time for Celebrating and Cleaning House

4/12/2018 (Permalink)

Cleaning Time for Celebrating and Cleaning House Our professional residential cleaning services can also make a dirty carpet "Like it never even happened."

??SPRING (when it gets here * hint of sarcasm*) ??
A time for celebrating and cleaning house!

Preparing your home in anticipation of the attendance of multiple guests for graduation parties moves us into a frenzy to clean anything and everything, carpets included.

Has planning a graduation party got your TO DO list out of control? Let SERVPRO of Spencer and Iowa Great Lakes help! Call us for all your cleaning needs.

There is still time to call and schedule your carpet cleaning, tile and grout cleaning or upholstery cleaning before your graduation parties.

SERVPRO of Spencer & Iowa Great Lakes proudly serves the Spencer, Okoboji, Storm Lake, Lake Park, Jackson and surrounding areas.

You know SERVPRO as a leader in Fire and Water Cleanup and Restoration, but our professional residential cleaning services can also make a dirty carpet "Like it never even happened."

Common Holes in Homeowners Insurance Coverage

4/11/2018 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Common Holes in Homeowners Insurance Coverage Call your insurance agent to find out what your policy actually covers.

There are many times when our SERVPRO crew is called to a flooded basement. They begin to make the assessment of damage and then call the homeowner’s insurance provider only to find out that the homeowner did not carry the correct insurance to cover a water-loss in the basement. You can imagine what that might feel like when you have $5,000-$25,000 worth of water damage staring you in the face.

It is disheartening to know the damage isn’t covered and a homeowner has become liable for the cost incurred to get their house back to livable conditions. It’s our goal with this post to educate homeowners. We want you to know what you need to be asking your insurance agent when you set up your home’s insurance policy.

Here's the main take-away: 

Get a Water Back Up and Sump Pump Insurance Rider

Action item: Call your insurance agent to find out what your policy actually covers and get the rider for sump pumps and water back up if you don't already have it.

Reason #1: It’s not included in a standard homeowners insurance policy.

Reason #2: It’s fairly inexpensive.

Reason #3: Water backups can happen to anyone.

Reason #4: It qualifies you for Loss of Use coverage if your home is uninhabitable.

Homeowners many times assume that if their sump pump backs up the damages will be covered under the “Sewer and Drain Back-Up” portion of their policy. But most sump pump failure is NOT covered under regular homeowners’ insurance policies UNLESS you specifically add the appropriate rider. This rider covers you if the sump pump stops working due to a power outage, and may or may not provide coverage for mechanical failures.

The cost of this rider is typically around $100 a year and is well worth the additional coverage it provides in security.

Even if you add a sump pump rider to your insurance policy, you will need to take extra precautions to ensure that you will be covered if the pump fails and results in water damage. When you make a homeowners insurance claim, the adjuster is required to do his or her due diligence, and that means that your sump pump will be inspected. If it is not found to be in good working order or if it’s clogged with debris because if improper maintenance, your claim could be denied. Not only that, but you could face an increase to your insurance premium.

Depending on your insurance company and the circumstances surrounding the flooding, the dollar amount that is covered in your situation can be low. The damage to your property and the resulting work to fix it may not be fully covered under your policy.

Every homeowner wants peace of mind when it comes to protecting their property and their family from water damage. If you aren’t sure if you are covered, please call and ask your agent today. Spring is surely on its way and we would hate to see you start your summer with bills racking up if you were to experience a sump pump failure or water back up. 

Now Accepting Credit Cards

4/9/2018 (Permalink)

General Now Accepting Credit Cards We accept most major credit cards.

We are happy to announce that we have implemented a new payment method. You can now purchase our services with your credit card over the phone or in the office.

SERVPRO of Spencer & Iowa Great Lakes is one of the top service providers in the national when it comes to helping home and business owners make it “Like it never even happened.” It doesn’t matter if it is in regard to carpet cleaning, restoring after water or fire damage or simply removing odors from a vehicle, it is important for a homeowner and business owner to know they are doing everything in their power to get back into their home or office quickly.

To better serve all customers SERPVPRO of Spencer & Iowa Great Lakes is now accepting credit cards. With the ability to accept credit cards, customers can make payments whenever necessary and with their preferred form of payment, anywhere in the world.

Moriah, our Office Manager, has been working closely behind the scenes locally with Northwest Bank to get this payment system in place. So, whether you live in Windom, MN or Orange City, IA – or anywhere in between you can pay your bill right over the phone.

Plus, for a stress-free claims process, SERPVRO works with your insurance to manage the insurance process and paperwork. Chris, our Project Manager was an insurance adjuster for over 12 years and brings loads of experience to SERVPRO of Spencer & Iowa Great Lakes.