How to Prevent Basement Flooding from Snow Melt

When there are heavy rains, it’s not uncommon to have water in your basement, but melting snow can also turn your lower levels into an indoor swimming pool. There’s no way to prevent snow from melting as temperatures rise, so the best course of action is to keep water from entering your home and damaging the contents.

Water in your basement does more than leave items soggy; it can be dangerous to your health and the safety of your home. Mold starts to grow within 48 hours because the spores are everywhere in the air and feed off common household items like paper and drywall. A foundation wall that stays wet will weaken over time and eventually collapse. The structural integrity of your home relies on a sturdy foundation, so a collapse of any size can be a disaster for the rest of the building. These tips will help you keep snow melt out of your basement and avoid water damage.

Clear the area when it snows.

How to Prevent Basement Flooding from Snow MeltThe most effective way to keep snow melt out of your basement is to keep it away from the foundation of your building. You may not realize that one cubic foot of snow equals ¾ of a gallon of water, so a snow accumulation of a couple of feet around the perimeter of your home adds up to a great deal of water that can end up flooding your basement. When you’re clearing sidewalks and driveways after snowstorms, be sure to clear a path around your home to keep snow away so it won’t find its way inside when it eventually melts. A five-foot perimeter around the building should be enough to keep the water out when the temperatures rise.

Invest in a sump pump and make sure it works.

A sump pump is a smart investment, especially if your basement is furnished. It turns on automatically when water in the sump pit reaches a certain level and pumps the water through a pipe outside and away from your home. Pumps vary in price and are available in home improvement and hardware stores, as well as online sources. It’s a good idea to test the pump on a regular basis to ensure it will work when you need it. Pour a small amount of water into the pit, just enough to go over the level that triggers the pump. If it doesn’t turn on immediately, make sure the pump is plugged in and installed correctly before you consider replacing it. Be sure one of the times you check your sump pump is in late winter, before snow starts to melt.

Repair any cracks in your foundation’s walls.

Cracks in the walls are an easy way for water to enter your basement. It’s possible to seal small cracks yourself using epoxy or a specially made sealing kit from the hardware or home improvement store, but leave major crack repairs to the professionals. It’s important to repair cracks as soon as possible because they will only get worse over time, and the foundation supports the rest of your home. If the foundation gives way, you will have major property damage that is expensive to repair. Keep in mind that concrete is porous, so you may still get some snow melt in your basement even if you don’t have any cracks, if there’s enough moisture outside the foundation walls.

No matter the cause of home flooding in Minneapolis, St. Cloud, Hutchinson, Marshall, or Willmar, MN and the surrounding areas, ServiceMaster Professional Services is available 7 days a week, 365 days a year to remove all traces of excess water from homes and businesses. We use only the most advanced cleaning products and equipment to extract water and clean, dry, and restore your building and its contents before they’re permanently damaged. Our experienced professionals will stop mold before it can start growing using anti-microbial products, and repair damaged items like furniture, books, and heirlooms you may have thought were lost forever. It’s vital to contact us quickly after a flood because the damage only becomes worse over time.

Water damage restoration costs vary, depending on the extent of the damage and the presence of mold. According to, the national average cost for flood damage cleanup is $2,573.


How to Identify, Prevent, and Remove Ice Dams in St. Cloud, MN

A row of icicles along your roofline may make your home in St. Cloud, MN look festive, but they’re often a sign that there’s a problem on the roof. Poorly insulated attics that allow heat to escape or sudden warm spells cause the snow on the top of your home to melt. When the water from melting snow runs into ice buildups, clogged gutters or other debris, it backs up into a puddle on the roof. This phenomenon is known as an ice dam. Flat places on roofs are also prime places for ice dams, because the water collects but has nowhere to go. Over time, that water can work its way under shingles and roofing materials and into buildings, where it can damage ceilings, walls, and other areas and cause mold growth. The weight of the ice dam can pull gutters and downspouts away from the exterior of your home, so it’s important to check your home for signs of ice dams on a regular basis throughout the winter to avoid costly repairs.

How to Tell If You Have an Ice Dam

How to Identify, Prevent, and Remove Ice Dams in St. Cloud, MNMost ice dams build up on the edges of rooftops, but depending on the style of yours, they can develop in other locations. There are usually a few mild days every winter that are warm enough to pull out the ladder and check any spots that are flat or don’t slope very much.

Check for icicles around the exterior of your home. If they’re only along the gutter and there’s no water buildup behind them, there probably isn’t an ice dam but they can contribute to the formation of one in the future. Large icicles can hurt people and animals if they break off unexpectedly. Remove them before they get too large, but don’t stand directly underneath them.

Look for water stains or moisture on ceilings, walls, and in the attic. As the water pools up on the roof, it works its way under shingles and the roof membrane and leaves discolorations on painted surfaces.

Ice Dam Removal

If you find an ice dam on your home in St. Cloud, MN, it’s important to remove it as soon as possible, before it can cause more damage to your home. Waiting until spring is usually not a viable option. One way is to use calcium chloride ice melt.

  1. Use a roof rake to remove 3-4 feet of snow from the edge of the roof. Be sure not to damage any shingles or block any sidewalks under the roof.
  2. Fill a nylon stocking with calcium chloride ice melt and place it along the ice dam, using a ladder. This is available in hardware and big box stores. DO NOT use rock salt or sodium chloride, both of which can damage your roof.
  3. Cover any plants and shrubs under the affected gutters and nearby downspouts as long as the calcium chloride is in place and until the dripping has stopped. The melting water will be hazardous to plants because of the sodium levels.

Another method to remove ice dams is to hire a roofing company to steam the ice away and remove large chunks. This method is safer for multi-story buildings and doesn’t have the potential environmental impact of using calcium chloride.

Preventing Ice Dams

Preventing Ice DamsThere isn’t a way to control weather fluctuations, but when temperatures are warm after a storm, have someone steady a ladder and check the roof for excess snow or a potential dam in progress. Use a roof rake to remove excess snow while you’re up there. If you needed one more reason to add insulation to the attic, it has been shown to help prevent ice dams. Proper insulation in the attic helps keep it near the same temperature as the outside, so snow won’t melt on the roof. Usually this means insulating the attic floor and installing soffit, gable, and ridge vents to allow excess heat to escape.

When you experience water damage for any reason in the St. Cloud, MN area, you need it cleaned up quickly, before the damage spreads and mold begins to grow. ServiceMaster Professional Services is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to respond to all types of disasters. We use only the most effective products and equipment available to the industry, so our clients receive the highest levels of quality cleaning and restoration.

Water damage restoration costs vary, depending on the extent of the damage, the presence of mold, and the amount of restoration needed. According to, the national average to remove standing water is $2,808. The national average to repair water damage is $2,564 and the national average to remove mold is $2,149.


Tips to Prevent Flooding in your Home During the Winter

The spring and summer are usually the worst seasons for home flooding because of the high amount of rain and softer soil that allows water to penetrate to the foundation.  However, home flooding is just as likely to happen in the winter.  Frozen pipes, snow melt, and ice dams are just a few causes of winter water damage, and if these problems are not addressed, you could be faced with serious property damage.  Leaks from snowmelt can cause damage to the ceiling and structural elements of your home while water that gets into the cracks of your foundation can freeze and cause the cracks to get worse.  It is important for homeowners to know how to protect their homes from winter flooding to avoid serious flood damage.  The following tips will help you prevent home flooding from the most common causes this winter.

Remove Snow Near the Foundation

Much of the flooding that happens within a home comes in through the foundation.  During the winter, water from melted snow can find its way into cracks in the foundation and if the water freezes within the cracks, it can widen them, leading to further problems.  When you shovel your driveway after a snowfall, make sure to remove the snow from around your home’s foundation as well.  This will help prevent the melting snow from seeping into the foundation and flooding the basement.

Remove Snow from the Roof

Remove Snow from the RoofWhen snow piles onto the roof, it can put extra stress on the features of the roof that can lead to structural damage.  It can also leak into the home when it begins to melt.  If more than two feet of snow has piled up on your roof, you must remove it to prevent leaks and structural damage.  You must be very careful when removing snow from the roof because ice on the roof can make this very dangerous.

Clear Debris from the Gutters

The gutters are just as important for allowing water to drain off your roof in the winter as they are in the summer.  However, debris such as leaves, twigs, dirt, and animal droppings gather in the gutters during the summer and fall which can block the flow of the water.  If your gutters are clogged during the winter, the water from melting snow and ice will have nowhere to drain and will end up overflowing from the gutters.  This can cause damage to the shingles, siding, and foundation if the water runs down the side of your home.

It is very important to remove debris buildup from your gutters during the winter so that the snowmelt has somewhere to drain safely.  Check your gutters for blockages and make sure the downspout deposits the water far enough away from your foundation.

Avoid Ice Dams

Ice_dam_slate_roofIce dams are a common problem in the winter that is caused by poor insulation.  When heat escapes through the roof of a home, it will melt some of the ice and snow.  The water will then refreeze in a different area of the roof, creating an ice dam that blocks any water from draining properly.  The ice dam will not only put extra stress on your roof from the weight, but also cause water to pool on the roof which can result in serious structural damage.

The best way to prevent ice dams is to make sure your attic is properly insulated.  Check the insulation in your attic and make sure it is adequate to prevent the heat from escaping through the roof.  You should also watch out for large icicles hanging from your roof which are a sign of ice dams.

Water Heater Maintenance

Water heaters are an important appliance in the winter, and they are always susceptible to major leaks.  Any issues from sediment buildup to valve malfunctions can cause leaks that will flood the surrounding area of your home.  It is very important to do yearly maintenance on your water heater which includes checking the valve and looking for leaks or sediment buildup.  You can do the yearly maintenance checks yourself, or hire a professional to do the inspection.

Insulate Pipes to Prevent Freezing

Insulate Pipes to Prevent FreezingFrozen pipes can happen very easily in the winter and lead to serious water damage in your home.  Water within exposed pipes in your basement, attic, sprinkler system, and below sinks can become frozen in cold temperatures which causes a blockage and buildup in pressure.  The pressure from the water will eventually cause a burst, resulting in a major leak of hundreds of gallons of water.

You must make sure that the exposed pipes in your home stay warm enough during the winter to prevent a burst.  Insulate any exposed pipes with heat tape, specialized pipe sleeves, or a quarter inch of newspaper.  Open the cabinet doors under your sink so that the heat in your home can keep those pipes warm.  You can also prevent frozen pipes by keeping your water running at a light trickle.

Inspect the Sump Pump

Your sump pump works year-round to keep excess water out of your basement.  It must stay functional throughout the winter to remove water from the melting ice and snow.  Test your sump pump by lifting the float or putting water in the pit to make sure it is running properly.  If your sump pump malfunctions during the winter, water from the melting snow can seep in through your foundation.

Look for and Address Small Leaks

Look for and Address Small LeaksMost water leaks start out small, but they can quickly become a problem if they are not fixed right away.  A small water leak may also mean that there is a bigger issue.  Look for signs of a water leak including peeling paint, spots on walls or ceilings, mold growth, and a musty smell.  If you notice a leak in your home, contact a professional right away to address the problem.

Professional Water Damage Restoration

Your home is just as likely to experience flooding during the winter as in any other season.  By following these flood prevention tips and constantly checking your home for any signs of flooding, you can prevent winter water damage.  If your home is affected by water damage or flooding this winter, call the experts of SVMPS for our water damage restoration services.  We will remove excess water and moisture from the affected materials and fully restore the damaged area, even in the middle of winter.

Get Your Business Prepared for the Winter with These Tips

Many areas of the country, including the greater Minneapolis area, are bracing for the return of the cold, brutal winter weather.  Storms are always more severe in the winter and if the area is affected by heavy snow or ice, it could seriously disrupt your business.  Preparing for the winter should be a point of emphasis for all businesses during the fall season so that you are not blindsided by the first winter storm.  The following tips will help you prepare your business and employees for winter storms and help minimize the interruption they can cause to your daily business activities.

Discuss Winter Preparation with Employees

When preparing your business for the upcoming winter, it is important that everyone from the owner to the employees is aware of what to do if a winter storm hits.  A severe snow storm can create a chaotic situation, but keeping your employees informed on your emergency procedures and their options will help keep the situation under control.  Make sure you cover the following with your employees:

  • Get Your Business Prepared for the Winter with These TipsEmphasize Personal Safety: Winter storms create dangerous driving conditions that can make it difficult for your employees to get to work. It is important to let your employees know that they should always put their safety first.  If possible, you can even offer your employees the option of working from home.  This way, the work can get done without putting your employees in danger.
  • Pay Attention to Weather Updates: It is very important for everyone in your company to be informed on the latest weather updates. Encourage your employees to get text alerts so that they are always aware of what to expect.  If you stay updated on current weather conditions, you can make a better decision about whether your business should remain open or close for the day.
  • Discuss Emergency Supply Kits: Having an emergency supply kit handy can really help in severe winter weather. Talk to your employees about having emergency supply kits at home and in their vehicles.
  • Review Emergency Weather Procedures: If is extremely important for your employees to understand your company’s policies and procedures when it comes to severe winter weather. They should also be familiar with any emergency plans so they know what to do in such a scenario.  Make sure everyone knows what their roles and responsibilities are so that your staff will respond calmly to weather disasters.  It also helps to practice your emergency plan before the winter weather arrives.

Form a Communication Plan

When a winter storm hits, employees, customers, and vendors may be unsure of how you plan to handle the situation.  A well-defined communication plan will help you immediately notify everyone about your plan for the day.  Make sure you compile a list of important contacts that includes phone numbers and email addresses.  As mentioned above, your employees should be the first to be notified so that they know what to do.  You should also have a plan in place to reach the following in an emergency:

    Storm Damage Restoration in Minneapolis, MN - ServiceMaster

  • Business Contacts: In addition to your employees, you may need to reach business partners including vendors and clients in case of an emergency. These people play a role in the operations of your business and should be notified if there are any changes in your operations due to the weather.  You can use your social media outlets to update your customers on the status of your business.
  • Emergency Services: You never know if a winter storm will cause damage to your company’s property. Keep a list handy that includes the contact information for emergency services such as your insurance provider, the fire department, a plumber, heating professionals, the owner of the building, and a snow removal professional.  This way you will be able to get in touch with these contacts immediately if there is an issue.

Review Your Insurance Policy

It is very important to know the terms of your company’s insurance policy so that you know exactly what is covered in the event of a winter storm.  Check to see what type of damager you insurance will cover and reach out to your insurance agent if you have any questions.  You should also check into what your coverage options are if your business is interrupted.

Check Your Property

Do an inspection of your building and the property around your building to identify any potential issues.  If you are responsible for your parking lot, have the number of a snow removal professional ready.  Look for hints of leaks inside and outside the building and make sure all doors and windows seal properly.  You should also look for any areas where pipes may freeze or burst.  It is best to do this inspection in the fall so that there is still time to fix any issues before the winter weather sets in.

Professional Storm Damage Restoration

Preparing your business for the winter with these tips will help you respond to emergencies caused by winter storms and limit the interruption to your business.  However, even the best preparation cannot completely protect your property from damage.  If a winter storm causes damage to your business in the Minneapolis, MN area, contact our professionals at ServiceMaster Professional Services for storm damage restoration.  Our experts will respond immediately to clean up your property and restore the damage so you can resume your normal business operations.

Fire Safety Tips to Prevent Fires This Summer

During the summer, many people enjoy the weather with outdoor activities like cookouts, camping, and bonfires.  Each of these activities are a fun way to gather with friends and family, but they also each have inherent fire dangers.  The danger of these potential fire hazards may slip your mind when you are enjoying yourself and getting caught up in the festivities at a backyard cookout or bonfire.  However, it is very important to be mindful of these dangers and follow good fire safety practices to prevent a pleasant cookout from turning into a disaster.  The most effective fire prevention is responsible action.  The following fire safety tips will help you prevent fires as you enjoy your summer.

Grilling Safety

Fire Safety Tipes - Grilling Safety - ServiceMaster in Minneapolis, MNFew activities really capture the essence of summer like a backyard cookout.  Summer cookouts are a tradition that are normally held to celebrate holidays like Memorial Day and the 4th of July, graduations, or just the fact that it’s summer.  With so many people, children, and pets walking around your backyard during a cookout, it is very important to take fire safety precautions, whether you are using a gas or charcoal grill.  Please review the following grilling safety tips before your next cookout:

  • Put your grill in an open, well ventilated area a safe distance from trees and structures like your home, garage, or shed.
  • Wear tight-fitting clothing.
  • For gas grills, check the connections in the fuel line between the gas tank and the grill before starting it.
  • For charcoal grills, only use the recommended amount of lighter fluid and never add lighter fluid once the grill is lit.
  • Never leave a lit grill unattended and keep children and pets away from the grill.
  • Drain all meat of liquids or marinades before putting them on the grill because they can cause the flames to flare up.
  • Cover the grill if the flames become too big, do not try to control the flames with water.
  • Clean the grill and your utensils before and after each use.
  • Do not dispose of used charcoal until the coals have cooled completely. Covering the charcoal with water is a good way to ensure it is extinguished.

Campfire/ Bonfire Safety

Fire Safety Tipes - Campfire Safety - ServiceMaster in Minneapolis, MNSitting around the fire, whether at a campsite or in your backyard, is a great way to socialize with friends and family on summer nights.  Regardless of where you build the fire, you must keep these fire safety tips in mind:

  • If you are at a campground or a park, make sure you follow their rules regarding fires.
  • Build your fire in a safe and open location, away from trees, bushes, tents, homes, garages, gazebos, or anything else that can go up in flames.
  • Fires must be built in fire pits. Parks and campgrounds that allow fires will have pits that you can use.  If you are planning on hosting bonfires in your backyard, build a fire pit first.
  • Try to refrain from using gas or lighter fluid to start or fuel the fire, and don’t store these objects anywhere near the fire.
  • Do not let the flames get too large or out of control. Keep the fire small and never leave it unattended.
  • Make sure you have the means to extinguish the fire before starting it. You can put out campfires and bonfires by dumping water on them and shoveling dirt over the embers.

Burn Bans

It is important to pay attention to any burn bans in your area.  Burn bans are put into effect during the summer if the weather conditions increase the risk of a fire.  These bans typically cover material burning and not recreational fires, but the details of the ban could change according to the weather conditions.  In most areas of Minnesota, you need to get a burning permit for material burning.  Check with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for more information on burning restrictions and permits.

Fireworks Safety

Fireworks SafetyFireworks are probably the only thing more synonymous with the 4th of July than backyard cookouts.  People across the U.S. celebrate Independence Day with a variety of fireworks and every year, thousands of Americans are injured due to firework accidents and mishaps.  It is very important to use fireworks with the utmost safety to prevent injuries and fires.

  • We urge you to use legal fireworks. The state of Minnesota bans fireworks that fly or explode which include bottle rockets, fire crackers, and mortars.  The most serious firework related injuries are caused by illegal fireworks.  Not only are legal fireworks safer to use, but using them will also prevent you from getting in trouble.
  • Do your research into what types of fireworks are legal as well as how to use them safely. Follow all directions and warning labels that come with the fireworks.
  • Always supervise children when lighting fireworks. If you don’t feel comfortable letting children play with fireworks, then don’t.  The majority of those injured by fireworks are boys age 14 and under.
  • Light fireworks somewhere safe outside, away from dry grass or foliage.
  • Make sure your spectators are a safe distance from the fireworks.
  • Only light one firework at a time, and make sure you move a safe distance away immediately after lighting it.
  • If a firework doesn’t go off when lit, dump water on it and throw it away.

As you enjoy the festivities that the summer has to offer, make sure you follow these fire safety and prevention tips when necessary.  Responsible fire safety will keep your summer activities fun and exciting and help prevent serious accidents that could result in injuries and property damage.  If you do experience a fire on your property this summer, make sure you call our professionals at ServiceMaster Professional Services as soon as possible for fire and smoke damage restoration services.  The fire damage restoration experts of SVMPS will work diligently to salvage as much of your property as possible, and we also provide deodorization to remove smoke odors.

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