Sinkholes in Charlottesville: How They Form and What to Do About It
Sinkholes can form in the foundation under just about anything.
Sinkholes can be terrifying; maybe its left over from some primal fear that supernatural powers would rip open the earth and swallow the unworthy. Whatever the cause, it’s unnerving to see a hole suddenly appear in the ground after a storm. But as with everything, the more we can understand it, the less we have reason to fear sinkholes unreasonably.
Recently, a sinkhole opened on Holkham drive in Albemarle County. After a large storm dislodged the sinkhole, it opened through Holkham drive, trapping residents on either side of the hole.
Sinkholes are natural phenomena that can take many years to form. Although it might feel like they just appeared overnight, Mother Nature has actually been working on them for quite a while. This process starts with a foundation material that is porous and can be dissolved or eroded by water. To form a sinkhole, an area also needs a place for water to congregate without a natural place to drain. With these two characteristics present, we’re halfway to a sinkhole!
Once the water is trapped without a natural drainage point, it begins to sink into the porous rock that it’s resting on. Once the water travels through this rock it can erode it or dissolve the rock. It keeps doing this until there is a sinkhole sized cavity resting just underneath the surface of the earth. Once this stage is reached, anything small can cause the sinkhole to collapse. A large storm or flood can easily cause this type of reaction in a potential sinkhole.
It’s interesting to discover these types of phenomena that happen in our own backyards that can be realized with just the right storm, but they are also dangerous and can pose as a real hazard to a community. So, if you see a sinkhole be sure to tape it off way back from the visible edge and stay away from the edge yourself. Then call the first responders.
Gordonsville Home Basement Floods During Storm
The flood water comes halfway up the legs on this pool table.
Dripping is never a good sound in your home. Often when we are in a home that has suffered water damage, there can be a dripping or trickling sound that lets us know that the source of the water hasn’t yet been fixed. But in this case, it was gushing. In the basement of this Gordonsville home, water from a recent storm let itself in and made itself at home. In the end, there were six inches of standing water and when our SERVPRO team arrived, there was still water coming in.
Once our team of SERVPRO professionals were on the job, our first step was to get the water out. Our team set up multiple sump pumps and started pumping! It’s both amazing and devastating to see water that has reached this level begin to recede. It’s encouraging because it feels like the space is being released from a watery imprisonment. But it’s also incredibly hard to see the damage that the water—especially water that has first flowed over ground and contains outside contaminants— has left on the walls and the contents of the room. Once the majority of the water was extracted, our team really went to work.
Thankfully, at this point the homeowner had his own sump pump installed to prevent this kind of damage from happening again. Once it was installed our team started the drying process. Even after all the visible water is extracted from a location, the contents of the room and the room itself still have excess moisture that needs to be removed in order to restore a home to its preloss condition. Our team added the equipment that was needed for the drying process and completed the restoration process. We’re so glad that this story had a happy ending. Check out our Before and After page to see the final result in this space.
Smelling Something Musty but Don’t See any Mold? Could it be Hiding?
Here you can see the drip pattern in the mold.
Something could be spreading and growing in the walls and floors of your home without your knowledge. Cue tension creating music. It sounds like an intro to a cheesy horror film. But this is no movie, lots of families have gone through the struggle of dealing with a mold problem. It’s not cheesy or funny but if you can recognize the situation early, the damage will be less extensive and the remediation process can be shorter as well.
Let’s return to the situation we discussed last week. There was moisture left over from not completely cleaning up a water related incident. This water may now have created mold growth that is not visible upon initial inspection. Especially if a building smells musty, but there is no visible mold growth, this could be an indicator that mold is present but hidden. Mold can hide on the backside of drywall, wallpaper, or wall paneling. It could also be on the top of ceiling tiles, under carpet or other flooring, inside walls around pipes, or inside ductwork. These places are not easily visible for inspection. At least, I’m not usually checking out the underside of my carpet. But that doesn’t mean that this mold is any less dangerous or that these locations don’t need to be cleaned.
If you do suspect growth, don’t go peeling back wallpaper or ripping holes in the wall to check the pipes as possibly disturbing mold can be dangerous to your health. If you suspect that you are sharing your home with an unwelcome moldy visitor, it’s time to call in the professionals!
SERVPRO of Charlottesville Hosting Two Free CE Classes on October 12
On October 12th, SERVPRO of Charlottesville will be hosting two CE classes at the Double Tree by Hilton at 990 Hilton Heights Road. Each class will award 2 CE Credit Hours toward Insurance Licensing and there will be a light continental breakfast served.
The first class is from 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. with registration beginning at 7:30 a.m. This class is a Biohazard Cleanup Course. We’ll cover prevention as well as the cleanup requirements and process.
The second class is from 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. with registration beginning at 10:00 a.m. This class with cover Cleaning & Restoring Smoke Damaged Contents.
Both classes are free and should prove an interesting and educational experience. We look forward to seeing you there!
To reserve your seat, please call 434-977-5850 or email office@SERVPROcharlottesville.com
Water Incidents can Seem Small and Insignificant: Mold is Also Small but not Insignificant
What may have been a small water damage was left untreated and created extensive mold growth. See the full story in our Before and After Photos.
After the heavy storm system this past month, we’ve helped multiple businesses and homes recover from water damage. However, I know that sometimes water damage doesn’t seem serious enough to call in the professionals. I’m sure that during the storms last month a few of you just soaked up the water with a towel. Maybe it wasn’t even from the storm system. Maybe you had a pipe burst and you just put a bucket under it and called a plumber. If this is the case, you sound like a do-it-yourself kind of person and that’s a commendable characteristic to have. However, if you’re wiping up water from your hardwood floor with a rag, let’s do a little digging into the consequences of possibly missing some of that moisture.
When a home suffers water damage, this damage can have lasting impacts on more areas and items than those that obviously got wet. The incoming water can create extra moisture in the air and environment that can affect walls, ceilings and items other than what would be obvious to the eye. And even after the puddle is cleaned up the moisture that is still lingering in the walls and other locations can create problems in surprisingly short amounts of time. Do you see where this is going? Mold.
Mold is always around us, but not all types of mold are harmful. Though the word mold can be scary, often visible mold isn’t dangerous. But the mold you see can be an indicator that higher levels of mold spores are present. These spores are often the cause of negative health effects. Mold spores come in from the outside and— at some level— are always present; we cannot prevent them from getting into our homes and businesses. Which means that yes, even clean water, when not properly dried and cleaned can lead to mold growth. We can, however, prevent this growth by depriving them of the moisture that is needed.
Can you Spot the Green?
This grill is just part of the grand prize, and it’s begging to start tailgating.
This August SERVPRO of Charlottesville is holding a Spot the Green Contest for the community of Charlottesville. We’ll be driving our trucks and vans around Charlottesville and the surrounding areas and if you see one of our vehicles, take a picture and post it to our Facebook page to be entered to win our Tailgate Experience Package.
Our grand prize includes a Weber Grill, large cooler, a $100 gift card to Timbercreek Market as well as charcoal and other tailgating necessities.
This contest will be running through the month of August and the prize will be delivered in time for the NFL Kickoff Game for the regular season.
Each participant may post one photo and each photo may be entered one time. Please play responsibly and do not take photos while driving. Please be respectful of other’s property and take photos of our vehicles while on the road or in a public space. We look forward to seeing all your photos!
High Indoor Air Quality Improves Your Day, but What Improves Your Indoor Air Quality?
Discovering the environment of a new job is often a part of the first day. You discover who the jokester is, which desk is closest to the window, and what time of day is best to visit the break room to guarantee the coffee will be fresh. But another vital part of our work environments that we often neglect to evaluate is the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). As a business owner or a building manager, this element is a vital part of a thriving business and happy and healthy employees.
The sources of pollutants are sometimes hard to identify and are always hard to totally eliminate from a building. They come from multiple sources and some causes, specifically building materials like insulation or paint continuously emit pollutants. In other circumstances though, pollutants that originate in an appliance or building system could be spread at regular intervals or even seasonally when things like air conditioning or the furnace turn on. And still, other pollutants are harder to predict as they are associated with human behavior, such as cleaning or re-decorating.
Thankfully, administrations like OSHA have provided guidelines to give us a baseline for treating and assessing Indoor Air Quality. OSHA suggests considering the following factors when assessing your building’s IAQ: temperature, humidity, ventilation, and the presence of mold and chemicals. Improving these factors can improve the Indoor Air Quality even when the sources of pollutants cannot be totally eliminated.
While this might seem like a lot to remember, we are here to help. Next week we’ll break down how to check these factors and how SERVPRO can help.
SERVPRO Offers a Free Emergency Ready Program to Help Prepare Your Business for Catastrophes Before They Happen
Our ERP mobile and desktop applications are easy to both use and understand.
After an emergency happens, we are often plagued with thoughts of how we could have prepared better or what we could have done differently. As a company of individuals who sees the effects of these catastrophes every day, SERVPRO knows the value of quality and thorough planning. That’s why SERVPRO offers a free online emergency preparedness tool to use as part of your business’s contingency plan. This tool, the Emergency Ready Program (ERP) helps organize information into a consolidated location that anyone can access and understand in the event of an emergency.
Consider this tool a snapshot of the building that your business operates in. This snapshot highlights all the pertinent information that you may need in an emergency. It includes detailed descriptions and photographs so that you know what to expect, what to do, and who to call in this situation. Our SERVPRO professionals have seen a lot of emergencies and know exactly which information you and the authorities will need to efficiently respond to these disasters. The more quickly the professionals can get your business up and running, the shorter your disruption will be to your customers and clients.
Our representatives are happy to walk you through the creation of this plan so that you can be sure it’s complete and correctly filled out before it’s ever needed. While this plan is not a complete contingency plan, it does serve as a great supplement and jumping off point for your business’s full contingency plan and can be used to identify problems or holes that may exist in your current plan. Give SERVPRO of Charlottesville a call at 434-977-5850 if you have more questions or register online to start creating your free ERP.
Assessing and Improving your Indoor Air Quality
As I sit at my desk and breathe deeply, I’m realizing just how often I take for granted the clean, odorless air that circulates around my workplace. It’s an element of my day that I’m thankful I don’t have to think about. I hope that every workplace around Charlottesville can attain the same level of certainty in its air quality.
The first step to better air quality is assessing what your current air quality status is and which factors are attributing to a less than desirable status. If you’re unsure about your Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), there is no one test that can be done but there are multiple tests and methods that can determine if a problem is present. For example, if your space smells musty or feels stuffy these can be indicators that there is a larger problem present. These are your first indicators and the easiest option. Inspection and regular upkeep are your next options. Having your HVAC and air ducts inspected can tell you if and how these systems are negatively affecting your IAQ. You should schedule regular walk-throughs of your building to inspect for leaks, water damage or other signs of a problem. Additionally, humidity levels can be tested and can be indicators of the possible presence of mold.
Once the problem is identified, the factors that we mentioned in the last blog come into play. Solutions like, regulating the interior temperature of the building, or regulating the humidity present. Solutions might also involve adding better ventilation or just cleaning and inspecting the existing ventilation. And of course, if mold is present, remediation may be necessary.
With these factors in mind, know that SERVPRO is here to help. We’re happy to recommend an Industrial Hygienist to help ensure that your current IAQ is at an adequate level. And if it isn’t, we’re also happy to begin the process to eliminate these problems so that your business can continue to run smoothly.
Stay Safe this Summer at the Family BBQ
Find more information at www.nfpa.org/grilling
Recently, while at a local park I was walking down the path looking for an open grill to toast some particularly fluffy marshmallows. Each grill I checked was already in use, full of hot dogs, hamburgers, crabs, corn, and foiled wrapped potatoes. As I discovered a new delicacy with each grill, I had two realizations. The first one was that my marshmallows were probably going to go untoasted because it looked like there were no grills left. The second was that of all of these families, I doubted that they were all fully aware and fully adhering to the safety guidelines for grilling. According to the National Fire Protection Agency, on average, 16,600 people per year visit the emergency room because of injuries involving grills. With this in mind, SERVPRO of Charlottesville would like to take some webspace today to refresh or reintroduce grill safety to help keep your home and your family safe!
Before you use your gas grill you should check for leaks and breaks in the line. Once you’re certain the grill is safe to use, move your grill away from your home or any decks or other structures that could be flammable. Low hanging tree branches or overhangs can be especially hazardous. Make sure that the grill is on a stable, flat surface. Additionally, in this step, be sure that children and pets are kept away from the grilling area. Now that your grilling space is safe, open up the grill and make sure that the inside is clean. Use a grill brush if necessary to remove grease buildup on the grate of the grill. While your grill is in use, never leave it unattended and keep a fire extinguisher on hand. With these few tips in mind, we should have a fun and safe summer!