How Maintaining your Gutters can Prevent Flooding

Gutters play an important role in protecting your home from water. They direct water that falls from your roof away from your house so that the water can drain in the proper location. In addition, by directing the water away from your home, your house and its building materials are less susceptible to suffering water damage. Basements also have a lesser chance of being flooded because the gutters will prevent the water from running down your home’s siding or pooling next to the foundation.

Problems from Poorly Maintained Gutters


Workman Clearing Autumn Leaves from Gutter

Gutters can only fulfill their purpose if they are properly maintained. When gutters are filled and clogged with fallen leaves and other debris, water is unable to drain away from your home. Instead, gutters become filled with water until it overflows. The extra weight from the water and debris can also cause your gutters to eventually be pulled loose, making them even less effective. When there are pools of water in sheet-metal gutters, the water causes the gutters to rust. When there are pools of water in wooden gutters, the water causes the gutters to rot.

Furthermore, when water overflows from gutters, the water will not be directed away from the home. This gives water the opportunity to accumulate near your home, potentially causing water damage to your home’s foundation. This also means water will run down along the side of your home, which may cause the siding to rot or become stained. Even worse, water may leak into your home’s basement. If enough water leaks down there, it can cause your basement to flood.

Gutter Maintenance Tips

Knowing all this, it is important to perform regular gutter maintenance to prevent water damage and basement flooding. Your home’s gutters should be cleaned at least twice a year ― once in the spring and once in the fall. If you have trees that are directly above your home’s roof or live in an area that experiences a lot of storms, then you should have your gutters cleaned on a more frequent basis to ensure that they can work effectively.

If you are going to clean your gutters yourself, make sure you are comfortable with and capable of safely using a ladder. If not, hire a professional service to clean your gutters. When cleaning your gutters, you should have protective gear — such as heavy work gloves, safety goggles or glasses, or a face mask — on hand. This gear will protect you from any debris and sharp objects.

Some tools you can use to clean out your gutters include a leaf blower, a rake, a gutter scoop, and a hose.

Leaf blowers are suitable for low-sloped roofs and can even be connected to a gutter cleaning kit. Use a gutter scoop to remove leaves and other debris from your gutter. If you don’t have a gutter scoop, then you can use a narrow garden trowel. It’s useful to have a plastic bucket on hand so that you can quickly and easily dispose of any waste that has been sitting in your gutters. Use your garden hose to flush out any dirt that’s stuck in the gutter and to check that water can properly drain from the gutters. You can also use a pressure washer but be wary of its high-pressure power.

Check that the downspouts direct water far enough away from your home to drain safely. If not, get the extensions for the downspouts to prevent water from accumulating near your home and ensure it drains properly at a distance.

When you clean out your gutters, you should also inspect them to make sure they’re properly secured and in good condition so that they work effectively. If you need to re-secure your gutters, then you might need to redo the rivets and/or spikes. If your gutters have cracks or holes, close them up using silicone sealant. Heavily damaged gutters should be replaced as soon as possible to prevent additional damage to your home.

This fall, keep the aforementioned tips and information in mind and be proactive to prevent your gutters from causing water damage in your home. One day of gutter cleaning and maintenance can help prevent basement flooding or water damage that will cost you in restoration and repairs.  If you do experience water damage or basement flooding from your faulty gutters, call our professionals at ServiceMaster Professional Services for our water damage restoration services.  Our water damage experts will work to remove excess water and moisture, thoroughly dry out your home, and make repairs on any affected building materials.

You can reach SVMPS 24 hours a day at (800) 245-4622 for emergency water damage restoration in the Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN area.

Furnace Maintenance Tips to Do This Fall

With crisper air and the leaves changing colors, now is the perfect time to prepare yourself and your home for winter, and this especially includes readying your home’s furnace.

You will want to make sure you can properly heat your home and keep you and your family warm when the cold weather strikes. But you don’t want to wait until the cold comes to check your home’s heater. It is best to act now so that any problems can be addressed in time for the winter weather.

Keep the following furnace maintenance tips in mind when preparing your home for colder temperatures.

Change or Clean Air Filters


If your HVAC system has a humidifier, be sure to change that filter and set the humidistat, too.

Whether there are filters in your home’s HVAC system or behind the vent grill, filters should be changed on a monthly basis as recommended by HVAC experts. At the very least, filters should be changed in the fall and spring.

For homes that have permanent electrostatic filters, wash them. Cleaning and washing filters on a regular basis will prolong the HVAC system’s life and will keep the HVAC system free of particles. If your HVAC system has a humidifier, be sure to change that filter and set the humidistat, too.

Filters that are dirty and/or clogged are a common source for HVAC system problems, so it’s important that you replace or clean them regularly.

Turn on Heat

Turn on your home’s thermostat, and switch it from cooling to heating. Set the temperature to something that’s a bit higher than the one you desire. If within a minute the heat doesn’t start, you need to check the thermostat’s wiring.

If you’re comfortable with doing so, remove the cover, and check that all wire connections are secure. If the connections are fine, check the power source. If the power source is fine, there could be other factors causing problems. In such a case, it is best to call a professional.

Clean Out Vents

Make your way throughout your residence to inspect all supply and return vents. Check that they are all free of debris and not blocked by anything. If you find that there’s dust and other debris in the vents, vacuum them out. Your HVAC system will do a more efficient job at heating your home when the vents are clean. Additionally, removing debris and other dirt stops them from entering the system and circulating throughout your home, so you can guarantee cleaner breathing air by cleaning out vents.

Check Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Furnaces naturally produce small amounts of carbon monoxide that will exit a home through its venting system, but furnaces can produce large, dangerous amounts of the colorless, odorless, poisonous gas if the furnace is dirty or inefficient.

Knowing this, you need to make sure that the carbon monoxide detectors in your home have fresh batteries and are working properly. If you don’t have such detectors, purchase some and check that they work. That way, if your furnace does end up producing large amounts of carbon monoxide, you will know. You’ll protect yourself and your family, and you’ll know that you may need to get the furnace serviced.

Perform a Chimney Inspection

If you have a chimney in your home, inspect it for any soot buildup. Cleaning your chimney of soot and other debris improves your home’s heating efficiency and also gives carbon monoxide a path to exit your residence.

Cover the Condenser

To protect it from winter hazards, cover the condenser for your air conditioning unit. This will help it survive through the winter so that it will be in good shape come spring. However, if your HVAC system also has a heat pump, then you don’t need to cover the condenser, because it runs year-round.

Hire Professionals for Cleaning and Maintenance

Whether it’s cleaning the furnace and its parts or checking electrical components, you may be uncomfortable doing these tasks on your own. Even if you aren’t, the best action to take when conducting furnace maintenance is to hire a professional service, because professionals are trained to do such work. They will know what to look for, how to properly clean parts, and how to address any issues that they discover.

At ServiceMaster Professional Services, we offer air duct cleaning services that help maintain your home or business’s HVAC system. We are properly trained and equipped to clean air ducts and their component parts. By performing such cleaning, we can ensure a more efficient HVAC system and cleaner breathing air for your residence or business.

How to Prevent Storm Damage to Your Home This Fall

Autumn is a unique season, from the brilliant crimson and yellow splashes of foliage to the equally riveting orange pumpkins gracing the porches of homes dotted across the country. Although visually pleasing, autumn weather can unleash a tidal wave of storms that can be damaging to residential and business properties.

The transition from hot summer temps to the brisk, coolness of fall spurs a wave of thunderstorms and other drastic weather phenomenon. Although tornado season peaks in May, tornados from October through November should not be ruled out. Snowstorms occur even during the fall months. Rather than light and airy, snow tends to be wet and heavy during autumn. The excess weight of the snow can accumulate on tree branches, which may break onto the roofs of homes. Hurricane season peaks in June, but can continue through the end of hurricane season in late November. Properties situated on the Gulf and East Coasts should be on guard for possible late-season hurricanes through November 30.

Homeowners across the country are advised to prevent storm damage to their homes each autumn by taking preventative steps:

Prepare for Wind Damage


The transition from hot summer temps to the brisk, coolness of fall spurs a wave of thunderstorms and other drastic weather phenomenon.

Wind is a fall phenomenon, helping shed the trees of its brilliant leaves. However, wind can cause severe destruction to a home. With careful preparation, a home can stay intact in the whirlwind of fierce autumn winds.

Install storm doors to prevent powerful winds from ripping off loose doors or windows. Garage doors should be reinforced to keep them secure and properly anchored (a professional can inspect the garage doors, if needed).

Clean the Gutter

When the autumnal thunderstorms strike, the homes’ gutter systems should be clear of debris to properly function. Rainstorms blow fallen leaves and twigs into the gutter, blocking the flow of water. The downspouts require a pathway free of debris in order for the water to drain away from the property and prevent moisture from seeping into the home’s siding or roof. Homeowners are responsible for regularly clearing out natural debris from the gutter to ensure the home does not sustain water damage.

Maintain the Roof

Fall brings with it a flurry of weather scenarios that directly impact the roof. Hail that beats down on the roof, powerful wind gusts that uplift loose shingles or the sheer weight of heavy snow or ice all cause significant detriment to the roofing structure of a home. In order for the roof to remain functional throughout the fall season, maintenance in the early fall months is necessary.

Trim overhanging tree branches during autumn. The weight of early snow and ice and severe thunderstorms can bring down tree branches. Tree limbs that grow close to the home, such as ones over a rooftop, driveway, patio, garage or other home structure can crash down in harsh weather, leaving the homeowner with costly home repairs. Dead tree branches should also be cut down to prevent wind and snow from hurling natural debris into the property. Hire a professional landscaping company for help with pruning trees and shrubs, if necessary.

Inspect the shingles for proper anchorage. Hire a professional roofing contractor in early fall to examine the shingles. A small investment in a roof inspection can save a homeowner from hefty bills in the event loose shingles expose the home’s interior to water damage.

Add Weatherstripping

A minor crevice along a window or door allows the beating rainwater from an autumnal storm inside. Examine the home’s windows and doors for evidence of gaps or existing yet ineffective weather-stripping. Install new weather-stripping to seal the windows and doors from wind gusts and whiplashing rain. While preventing drafts and water leaks, homeowners will also save on heating and energy costs.

Inspect the Chimney

People require sufficient shelter from a fall storm, but so do little critters, like mice and raccoons. Keep the pesky, wild animals from sabotaging the home and causing pricey interior damage by installing a chimney cap. In the process, conduct a chimney cleaning. A chimney sweep may be hired to perform the routine task.

Turn Off Outdoor Faucets

An unexpected, early autumn snowstorm can freeze the outdoor pipes, causing them to burst. Protect the outdoor pipes from freezing by shutting off the water to the faucets in the backyard long before the cool season starts. Also empty any outside hoses of excess water and store them inside the garage or shed.

Address Odds and Ends

Test the smoke detectors each month, ensuring new batteries are installed yearly. The furnace filter should be replaced before the heater switches on in winter. Also ensure the heater is in good working condition prior to the winter chills. Frayed wires are fire hazards and should be removed from the home.

Before the autumn storms have a chance to derail your home or business, take the steps to prevent the damage. In the event that catastrophic autumnal weather conditions or even minor weather-related events disrupt your household or commercial business, contact a reliable storm damage restoration company, such as ServiceMaster Professional Services.

Our technicians from ServiceMaster Professional Services arrive quickly onsite, understanding the urgency of the situation. Our specialists work quickly to assess the scene and take immediate steps to prevent the spread of water damage, boarding up the home if necessary and installing tarp along a damaged roof. We utilize advanced equipment to remove excess water from a water damaged property. All natural debris, like broken tree branches, and man-made materials, such as broken glass, siding and shingles, that result from a fall storm are also cleared away from the property.

Our ServiceMaster Professional Services specialists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to respond to emergency calls. Homeowners and building managers can expect their property to be quickly returned to its pre-damaged state with the expertise provided by ServiceMaster Professional Services. Our qualified team dependably serves the Minneapolis and St. Cloud, MN, communities of residences and businesses.

How to Check for Air Leaks in Your Home

Hot air rises, and so does a homeowner’s energy bill when air leaks inside a home are left unaddressed. Drafts are one of the most common causes for wasted energy, especially in older residences. As the autumn weather descends, homeowners are advised to check for air leaks in their homes.

Most drafts are noticed in the cooler months around windows and doors. Although air leaks may occur in obvious areas like these, the most damaging drafts happen in hidden places inside the home. The attic and basement are prime suspects when it comes to investigating energy-depleting air leaks. The insulation in the attic makes pinpointing air leaks a difficult task. With a little detective work, you’ll stumble upon effective strategies to seal the dirty drafts.

It helps to know where else air leaks occur, so that homeowners are fully aware of how to tackle the household flaw. Homeowners should inspect not only the attic, but plumbing fixtures, chimneys, fireplaces, light fixtures and wiring through floors and walls. Aside from these penetrating spaces, homeowners should also examine areas of missing plaster, electrical outlets, basement/window/door moldings and the tops of foundation walls.

Visually Inspect the Home’s Exterior

Use keen eyes to visually notice areas outside of the home where differing building materials adjoin. A homeowner should examine exterior corners, outdoor water spouts and the spots where the chimney joins with the siding. Also take a look at where the foundation and siding meet.

Eyeball the Household Interior


Windows and doors will need extra attention when investigating for leaks.

Cracks and gaps inside the home indicate a likely presence of air leaks. Drafts may be caused by gaps surrounding electrical outlets, frames around doors and windows, baseboards and the service entrance to the gas. A savvy homeowner will also check for air leaks around cable television lines, holes through which dryer vents pass, doorway weather stripping and the walls where air conditioners are mounted.

Also, inside the home, gaps may be present around wiring and plumbing pipes. The areas surrounding the mail slot can lead to drafts, too.

Replace Drafty Windows and Doors

Windows and doors will need extra attention when investigating for leaks. A homeowner who is able to physically rattle the doors or windows and discovers movement will likely find an air leak. The bright, blazing sunlight beaming through the outline of the home’s doors or window frame is solid evidence of an air leak. Examine the storm door for a tight seal, and ensure no part of it is broken.

Drafty windows and doors can be replaced with high-performance ones. Or, inexpensive plastic sheets installed over the doors and windows are an effective alternative.

Seal the Deal with Caulk

Caulk is a homeowner’s trustiest partner when it comes to solving air leak activity. Cracks that are less than a quarter inch wide are best sealed with caulk. Certain structural materials may be suitable to differing types of caulk, so read the label carefully prior to applying caulk to specific surfaces. Homeowners will also want to purchase high-quality caulk that lasts at least 20 years and remains flexible during its lifetime. Less expensive caulk should be avoided, as it will fail to hold up. Caulk may be available in an array of colors or may be paintable; this is important to consider if the caulked area will be visible. Cracks and gaps also may be sealed with weather stripping.

The Pressurization Test Uncover Leaks

When the pressure is on to locate the airy intruder, turn to a building pressurization test. The process requires easy detective work:

First, check the weather forecast for a windy day. When gusts of cool air blow outside, it’s time to put in motion the pressurization test. Shut all doors, windows and the fireplace flue. Also turn off the gas furnace and water heater.

Next, turn on the exhaust fans, like the stove vents, bathroom fans or the dryer, that blow air to the outdoors. A window fan will do justice, just as well, to suck all the air out of the room.

Lastly, light an incense stick. Wave the stick around the edges of areas suspected of a leak. If the smoke blows around or wavers, a draft is present. A homeowner may also pass a water dampened hand around suspected drafty areas; a cooled sensation will be experienced if an air leak exists.

The Flashlight Method Finds Gaps

Homeowners may partner up with another individual to scout air leaks. At night, one individual should flash light around suspected gaps. If the person inside the home sees the light shine through, a gap and consequent air leak are present. Large cracks are best uncovered via a flashlight. However, small cracks are too tiny to locate via this method.

The Dollar Bill Procedure Saves Energy

When a homeowner is trying to save a buck, a dollar bill goes a long way in uncovering an air leak. Close the door or a window on a dollar bill. A drafty space is present if the dollar bill can be effortlessly pulled out.

The quality of air inside the home is important. When you want to circulate clean air inside your home, consult the pros. ServiceMaster Professional Services is a reputable residential air duct cleaning service that gives homeowners peace of mind and clean air to breathe. If you haven’t had your home’s air ducts cleaned in 10 years or don’t recall the last time the service was done, call the experts. Even newly constructed homes or remodeled houses should have the air ducts cleaned to ensure indoor air quality.

Indoor air pollution is physically imperceptible when it causes a rash of health conditions in people, yet apparent when it leaves dust trains inside the property. Homeowners with pets and those who smoke also should have their home’s air ducts cleaned in order to circulate the best quality air.

ServiceMaster Professional Services reliably serves the residential communities and surrounding areas of Minneapolis, MN. Our team of dedicated professionals stand by to take your call and answer any questions.


SVMPS – Common Indicators of Water Damage in Your Home

Water damage can occur in various forms throughout your home. Your roof, attic, ceilings, walls, and floors can all show signs of water damage. The damage can be sourced by multiple factors. Heavy rainfall and flooding can cause more immediate and severe water damage, and leaky pipes can cause water accumulation and gradual damage.

No matter what sourced the water damage in your home, once the harm has been done, the damage can spread and worsen as time passes. Because of this, it is important that water damage in your home does not go untreated. You risk further property and structure damage in addition to potential health risks that can arise when water damage leads to mold growth.

That said, it is important to be aware of the signs of water damage. You will be able to have the damage addressed sooner, thus preventing damage and saving you more money in the long run.

Water Accumulation


If your home has water damage, the walls will often show signs of it through discoloration.

If you have pools of water or standing water in or even outside your home, then this is an obvious indicator of water damage or that the water will become a bigger issue. Malfunctioning appliances and a leaking roof can leave behind puddles of water inside of your home, and drainage pipes can create puddles of water outside of your home.

Color Changes

If your home has water damage, the walls will often show signs of it through discoloration. Water rings, spots, and stains on your wall are clear signs that there’s a water problem nearby. These spots might be wet or dry and will look brown, copper, or yellow in color.

Color changes can also come as a result of mold growth, which can develop as a result of water damage. Mold can appear on walls in a myriad of colors: black, gray, green, white, and more. If you have vinyl wallpaper, mold can appear pink, purple, or orange.

Check the cabinets beneath the sinks in your home for any water marks. If you find some there, it can indicate that the water damage has been caused by leaking pipes.

Deterioration and Surface Changes

In addition to discoloration, your home’s walls can show signs of water damage through deterioration and surface changes. Wallpaper or paint on your wall will bubble, crack, or peel when the wall has suffered water damage. Ceilings can also warp because of water damage in response to changes in temperature and humidity.

Your home’s flooring can undergo major changes because of water damage as well. Floors can sometimes become discolored as a result of water damage. More often, they change texturally, and there are several ways the flooring can change.

Like ceilings, flooring can warp as well, making it so floorboards either curl at their edges or have gaps in between them.

When water seeps into subflooring, the water can cause the flooring to sag or sink. These spots will be soft and feel spongy. You should look out for such sagging flooring by tubs, showers, sinks, washing machines, and water heaters.

If laminate and wood flooring absorb too much water, the material swells up and “expands.” This will then cause the flooring to separate. Laminate, tile, and wood flooring can also crack in response to water damage, and sometimes, water damage can cause hardwood floor to buckle, meaning one side of the wood becomes detached from its subflooring.


When there’s water damage, mold growth is likely. When there’s mold growth, there will be unpleasant aromas. Mold gives off a musty odor. If you sniff out such a smell, then you probably have mold growth, as well as water damage, on your property.

Be on the lookout for any of the previously listed signs. If you find any of these throughout your home, then your home is most likely suffering from water damage. As such, it is in your best interest to seek out professional water damage restoration services for your home from SVMPS. Our professionals at SVMPS will eliminate any excess water or moisture, make water damage repairs, and tend to any mold growth that has occurred as a result of the water. In addition, we will even restore any personal belongings that have suffered damage from the water.

SVMPS is ready to provide complete water damage restoration services for homes and businesses in the Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN area.

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