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Spring cleaning isn’t just for homeowners. If you run a business or manage a company, it’s essential for your brand to think about spring cleaning, as well.

Not only does a good spring cleaning keep your employees engaged and happy with their working conditions – but it also makes your workspace look and feel as professional and inviting as possible.

With this in mind, here’s your office spring cleaning checklist to abide by this year:

Spring Cleaning for the Workplace: 5 Tricks of the Trade

Do you want to declutter your office? Are you looking for a smart way to promote office cleanliness this summer? If so, these five spring cleaning tips are a great place to start:

1. Clean Off the Desks

First things first, clean off every desk in your office space. Remove all items on the desktop, wipe the desk surface down with a clean, damp microfiber rag, and replace items one by one.

As you put the desk back together, think carefully about what needs to be kept close at hand and what can be stored or filed. Items you use frequently should maintain their space on the desktop, while other, lesser-used items can be stored or filed away.

If you want to streamline this process and get all of your employees in on it, consider holding an office clean-up day and rewarding everyone with pizza or snacks when the work is all done.

2. Clean Your Carpets

This is a job that will be easier for a professional than it will for you, but it can go a long way toward making your office look and feel fresh.

To have your carpets cleaned, contact one of the office cleaning companies in your area. They’ll be able to give you a quote for office cleaning services and provide an estimate of how long it will take to clean your carpets, based on the square footage of your building.

Be aware that these companies frequently offer additional services, like window washing or deep cleaning, so it may be wise to inquire about what else they can do to get your office springtime-ready.

3. Clean up the Break Room

This is where you’ll want to take a careful inventory of your spring cleaning supplies. If you don’t already have items like cleaning spray, rags, and wipes, now is time to stock up. Once you’ve refreshed your supply, get to work cleaning up the break rooms.

To begin, clean out your refrigerators and cabinets. If you find old or expired food, toss it in the trash. From there, clean and sanitize the microwave and the refrigerator shelves and drawers. Clean the coffee maker and any other small appliances in the office, and wipe down all countertops with your cleaning product of choice.

If it’s customary at your office, re-stock the refrigerator and cabinets with snack foods and replace any appliances you moved to wipe the counters.

4. File or Shred Paperwork

Most offices are home to stacks and stacks of paperwork. If this sounds like your office, now is a great time to scale that back and get rid of the items you no longer need. As you go through the stacks of paperwork, file the items you need, or use a digital service like Evernote to upload them electronically.

As you come across things you don’t need, shred them in your office shredder or hire a professional shredding service to deal with them for you. No matter what you do, recycle the paper scraps to ensure your office’s eco-footprint remains small and unobtrusive.

5. Clean Your Office Computers

Spring cleaning extends into the digital world, too! To complete your cleaning process, be sure to turn your attention to your computer files. Delete files that are no longer needed, change passwords on important accounts, filter your emails (Unroll.me is a fantastic service for cutting junk in your inbox), upload documents to the cloud, and back everything up to an external hard drive so you’ll have a copy in the event of a system failure.

Need More Spring Cleaning Office Tips?

While spring cleaning your office can feel like a daunting task, these smart, professional tips are the perfect place to start. If you’re looking for some additional elbow grease to help you get the job done, contact ServiceMaster by Zaba, your local, reputable office cleaning service.

The post Your Quick Office Spring Cleaning Checklist: 5 Big Must-Dos appeared first on ServiceMaster by Zaba.

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As a business owner or building manager, you’re responsible for making sure that your property always looks its best. You also have to consider different strategies that can hold down operating costs.

Are you tempted to save money by assigning cleanup chores to in-house personnel?

Delegating the work to employees doesn’t crunch smart budget numbers. What looks good on paper doesn’t add up in practice. Instead, give operating costs a real break by investing in commercial cleaning services that improve your bottom line and grow your business.

Take a look at these money-saving benefits of professional cleaning.

Why Hiring a Commercial Cleaning Service Makes Sense 1. Your Property Always Shines

When customers walk into your building, they notice its condition right away.

Clean offices, fresh carpets, clean walls, and sparkling bathrooms always make the right impression, and that encourages invaluable repeat business. When potential tenants preview space, spotless interiors help seal the deal.

A commercial cleaning service makes sure that your property looks its best every day, and is one of the reasons to hire one.

2. Interiors Stay Healthy

One bad sneeze followed by a hand on a door knob spreads germs. That touch turns into an invisible trail down hallways to light switches, bathrooms and breakrooms.

Regular visits from professional cleaning crews help prevent this unhealthy scenario. Surfaces are sanitized, fixtures are scrubbed, and germs are eliminated.

Your investment in cleaning services pays off with healthier interiors and fewer employee sick days.

3. Customized Plans Fit Your Property

When it comes to cleaning commercial buildings, one technique doesn’t fit all locations:

Hotel housekeeping staff need backup for heavy-duty jobs, restaurant carpets benefit from stain protection, and health care facilities require specialized services.

An experienced cleaning contractor develops a custom plan based on your operational needs, and that keeps your budget on track with services that fit your property.

4. You Don’t Need Special Equipment

Floor buffers, steam cleaners and industrial vacuums add up to a big investment in equipment, and storing everything takes up expensive commercial floor space.

One of the benefits of hiring a cleaning service is that you’ll have a complete line of industry equipment to your site with every visit, along with certified crews that will get the job done right.

5. Specific Situations Have Affordable Solutions

Residential move-outs always need additional cleaning. A restaurant remodel calls for immediate cleanup as soon as the job is finished. Every commercial property occasionally needs specialized cleaning assistance.

When you partner with a professional cleaning contractor, you have the advantage of being an established client, and that translates into affordable services from a company that you already trust.

6. You Save Valuable Time

If you’re enlisting your employees as a part-time cleaning crew, add up the time they spend dusting, scrubbing and vacuuming. Calculate how much they produce per hour when they perform their regular jobs. Figure the difference, talk rates with an established cleaning service, and compare the numbers.

A cleaning contractor saves you money by saving your employees’ valuable time.

7. Emergencies Are Covered

The best commercial cleaning contractors also offer emergency recovery services, like water and fire damage restoration. Their quick response can reduce the cost of property loss resulting from water, fire or mold damage, and they can often restore equipment and furnishings to original condition.

When you face an emergency, it’s good to have an experienced company help you navigate the aftermath.

8. Peace of Mind Is Priceless

You come to work every day knowing that your property is clean from floor to ceiling. Customers, clients and tenants appreciate an atmosphere that reflects the pride you take in your business.

Your cleaning contractor handles it all while you enjoy priceless peace of mind that enable you to make the best decisions when these are needed most.

Why Hiring a Commercial Air Duct Cleaning Service Pays Off

Building owners and managers often overlook the potential returns from investing in this kind of service. The advantages of this type of cleaning service add up in both dollars saved and business benefits banked.

9. Consistent, Comfortable Temperatures

Commercial air ducts and vents don’t affect indoor temperatures by themselves, but their performance impacts interior comfort throughout your building. Employees can’t do their best in areas that stay too warm. Customers aren’t inspired to conduct business in chilly draft zones.

Ductwork assessment and commercial vent cleaning keep HVAC networks in top condition. Equipment holds up to temperature and humidity changes, and that helps provide consistent comfort year-round.

10. Better Indoor Air Quality

Most commercial properties feature airtight construction that holds down energy costs, but this building design breeds indoor pollution.

HVAC systems generate a humid environment inside ductwork that creates a breeding ground for mold.  Left untreated, the fungal growth reproduces by releasing airborne spores. As contaminants circulate through ducts and vents, they fill every room in your building with unpleasant odors.

Stale, musty smells aren’t good for employee morale, and poor indoor air quality makes a bad impression on your customers. With regular vent and duct cleaning, interiors always greet everyone with fresh air that doesn’t require opening the nearest window.

11. A Healthier Indoor Environment

Mold, mildew and pest contaminants are obvious, but your property’s ductwork also houses a wide range of invisible pollutants. Microbial contamination can range from insect- and rodent-generated bacteria to health-threatening pathogens and allergens.

Professional vent and duct cleaning addresses potential health hazards with industry-approved tools, products and techniques. Certified technicians use special equipment to clear and treat ductwork so that you’re assured of a healthier indoor environment throughout the building.

12. Less Organic Contamination

Your HVAC’s ductwork serves as a highway system for insects and rodents scurrying behind walls and above ceilings. Our technicians often encounter multiple layers of debris inside ducts and vents. The organic contamination includes residue from mites, cockroaches, spiders and nematodes.

Exterminators control pest problems, but they can’t address the result of pest invasions inside vents and ducts. It takes professional cleaning by highly trained specialists to safely remove and dispose of organic contamination.

13. A Cleaner Workplace

Anytime you make a job easier instead of harder, you’re getting ahead in business. Apply that attitude to keeping the workplace clean, and then think about how dirty ductwork comes into play. If you notice that a good dusting doesn’t last, the culprits are probably right overhead.

Dirty vents and ducts distribute airborne particulates that settle on sales counters, office desks and computer equipment. Clean ductwork moves fresh air through your building without contributing to housekeeping duties. That saves time and money whether you clean with an all-employee crew or use a professional service.

14. Longer HVAC Life Expectancy

Picture heating and cooling components generating and moving countless cubic feet of air 24/7. Imagine how difficult it is to push that kind of load through a network compromised by material failures. Dirty ductwork is prone to the kind of wear that puts a strain on HVAC equipment.

Without proper maintenance, duct material degrades quickly. Tears and holes lead to leaks, and that makes the entire system work harder. Keeping ducts and vents clean extends your HVAC equipment’s mechanical life.

15. Improved System Performance

Clean vents and ducts allow motors, blowers and exchangers do their jobs efficiently. Your entire HVAC system runs more smoothly minimizing equipment wear-and-tear. Everything operates at peak efficiency, and that helps hold down heating and cooling costs.

Commercial duct cleaning doesn’t solve all mechanical issues, but it does improve overall system performance. Fewer problems mean fewer breakdowns, repairs and expensive replacements. An investment in duct and vent cleaning reduces both energy consumption and HVAC maintenance costs.

Why Commercial Carpet Cleaning Improves Your Company’s Bottom Line

When you consider the reasons to hire a cleaning service, do you think about carpet cleaning? Whether you own or manage a property, this service impacts everything from customer satisfaction to employee performance.

If you have carpets throughout your building, you know exactly what a difference keeping it cleaned and well-maintained can make. Designed to keep your carpets in great shape, office carpet cleaning is an excellent way to improve the appearance of your carpet and prevent it from looking dirty, dingy, or older than it is.

Whether you’re worried about allergens and air pollutants, or you just like the look and feel of a freshly cleaned carpet, below are compelling reasons to call your local carpet cleaning professional. 

Here’s everything you need to know about why having your office carpets professionally cleaned is such a good investment.

16. Priceless Customer Experiences

Imagine a customer walks into your office. They’re excited to meet with you and your team, but the first thing they see is a dingy, stained carpet.

Doesn’t make a great impression, does it? After all, if you don’t care about presenting a clean carpet, what else is your business letting slide?

The concept of dressing for success extends to interiors and carpeting that make a great first impression. Fresh, clean carpets welcome customers from entrances to offices, and that positive experience translates into repeat business.

When you hire a professional carpet cleaning service, it makes visiting your office more approachable and welcoming.

17. Better Air Quality

Just as with air duct cleaning, having your office’s carpets professionally cleaned keeps your office’s air healthy and allergen-free.

Sneezing, coughing and itchy eyes make a work day seem longer, but deep carpet cleaning eliminates the allergens that contaminate air quality in your workplace. Employees breathe easier and get more done, and customers appreciate the fresh environment too.

Over time, dust, dirt, and debris find their way into the fibers of your carpet. As you walk on, vacuum, or move furniture across your carpets, this debris breaks loose and get into the air, where they can cause respiratory issues, allergies, and bad smells.

Even if you do your own carpet cleaning, you probably won’t be able to get into the nooks and crannies of the fibers. The reason is simple: rented carpet cleaners just aren’t that efficient.

When you hire a professional carpet team, though, you’ll get the best carpet cleaning tools and methods available. By digging deep into your carpet fibers, professional machines remove debris for healthier, cleaner air.

18. Important Employee Morale

When you keep your business looking its best with regular commercial cleaning services and carpet maintenance, it sends a positive message to employees. They know that you care about their working environment, and that helps keep morale high and productivity up.

19. Pride in the Workplace

Businesses operate more efficiently when everyone is proud to be a contributing member of the team. Your clean workplace and fresh carpets create an atmosphere that fosters the confidence it takes to pitch in and get the hard jobs done.

20. Reduced Sick Days

When employees call in sick, others have to cover their workload, and that adds up to overtime. Professional commercial cleaning includes services that disinfect and sanitize carpets reducing health risks to both employees and customers.

21. Lower Maintenance Costs

One of the benefits of regular commercial carpet cleaning pays off in less work for your in-house janitorial staff. Stain-resistant carpet treatments minimize spill cleanup jobs, and it takes less time and effort to vacuum well-kept carpets.

When you remove deep stains from your carpet with regular cleaning, it’s easier to remove surface stains with routine vacuuming. This, in turn, prevents buildup and helps you stretch out the life of your carpets.

22. Better HVAC System Performance

One of the benefits of professional cleaning services is that they improve indoor air quality by keeping carpets from adding to the dust and debris that enter your building’s HVAC system. This eases the load on filters and ductwork, so HVAC equipment operates at maximum efficiency, and that reduces energy consumption.

23. Extended Carpet Life

Carpet represents a substantial investment, so it must be maintained like any valuable business asset.

A professional cleaning services prolongs both the good looks and material integrity of carpets and helps avoid costly replacement.

You expect steam-cleaned carpets to feel soft underfoot. You know that professionally cleaned sofas and chairs look and smell better. Those specialized services add years of extra life to carpets and upholstery by eliminating contaminants that break down fibers.

24. Warranty Coverage Assurance

Quality carpets are backed by manufacturer warranties that include specific instructions on the type of care required to keep a warranty in force. If you installed carpet in your office building, its warranty likely requires that it be cleaned every 12-18 months. If you don’t do this, you might be voiding the warranty!

Commercial carpet cleaning ensures that you meet these requirements and preserve important warranty coverage and keep your carpets looking and feeling beautiful.

25. Insurance Claims Savings

Because carpet replacement is so expensive, many insurance companies require scheduled carpet cleaning. In the case of water or fire damage to carpets in your building, proof of this professional maintenance can reduce your out-of-pocket claims costs.

26. Commercial Carpet Cleaning Pays for Itself

While most people believe that professional carpet cleaning is costly, it’s not. In fact, carpet cleaning is much more affordable than you might think, and investing in it can have a direct, positive effect on your business.

In addition to keeping your workspace clean, professional carpet cleaning can help you land new business. Plus, professional carpet cleaners have the insider tricks needed to remove tough stains and leave your carpets looking fresh.

The Benefits of Commercial Cleaning Services Are Endless

When an investment saves time and money, it belongs in your budget. When it contributes to healthy interiors, it keeps tenants, customers and employees happy. If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of commercial cleaning services, feel free to ask through our Comments Section. Also, read this guide on how to find the best cleaning company in your area.

Our team is always available to develop custom cleaning strategies for your property. Our commercial cleaning services cover everything from retail and hospitality to business office cleaning in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. Call ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba today, and let us help you clean up with real savings.

If we didn’t include a reason why commercial cleaning adds to your bottom-line, please share your insights below. We would love to hear your thoughts. 

The post Why Hire a Commercial Cleaning Service? [A List of 26 Incredible Benefits] appeared first on ServiceMaster by Zaba.

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Winter is on its way out, and spring is just about here.

While the spring warmth and sun is a welcome change, it also comes with a hidden threat: mold. In the damp environment of locations like Chicago and its surrounding suburbs, humidity from the winter can build up in certain parts of the home, causing your space to be plagued by mold come springtime. 

Luckily, understanding how to detect mold in your house is a great way to avoid complex mold problems. If you find any mold, now is also an excellent time to get in touch with your local mold removal specialists.

Here’s what you need to know about finding (and dealing with) mold in your home:

How to Check for Mold in Your House: Common Signs to Look for

The first step to detecting mold in your home is understanding which signs to look for.

So, how do you check for signs of mold in your home?

Start by considering these signs:

  • You can smell mold. One of the easiest ways to figure out if you’ve got a mold issue is to consider whether you can smell mold anywhere. Mold in your home’s interior will smell musty and damp, while mold on the exterior surfaces of your house will smell stale.
  • You can see mold. If you see mold growing anywhere in your home, you’ve got issues. While mold comes in lots of different forms, the most common are Aspergillus, which thrives on foods and in HVAC systems, Cladosporium, which looks like pepper (except that it’s black and green) and grows on the back of toilets, and various types of outdoor mold, which are orange or red and typically grow into decaying wood or other organic materials.
  • You have water leaks, intrusion, or past flooding. Moisture creates mold, so it’s smart to pay extra attention to any place in your home where water was leaking or intruding, or which experienced flooding in the past. Mold abatement companies can help you address these “problem areas,” but they’ll have better luck if you call them early.
  • Someone in your home is experiencing symptoms. Mold contains mycotoxins, which have negative impacts on the skin, the respiratory system, and more. If someone in your household has new or worsening allergies, skin problems, or irritation of mucous membranes, mold could be the cause.
5 Common Places to Check for Mold

While mold can crop up anywhere in the home, it’s particularly likely in these five moisture-prone areas:

1. The Shower and Bathtub

Your bathroom is a mold spore’s dream come true. Over time, and with repeated use, high high-traffic areas within the bathroom, including the shower and bathtub, accumulate a constant level of dampness.

Unless they’re properly ventilated, these spaces become the perfect habitat for mold spores. While it might seem like mold in these areas would be obvious, that’s not always the case.

As you evaluate your shower and bathtub for mold, be sure to check shampoo bottles, loofahs and washcloths, your shower curtain, the space around the faucet and shower head, and the tile grout.

2. The Kitchen Sink

Second only to the bathroom, the kitchen sink is one of the dampest places in your home. A high-traffic area, the sink is home to plenty of sloshing, washing, and splashing.

As such, it’s virtually impossible to make your sink mold-proof. Between wet food in the garbage disposal, wet sponges in caddies, and water spilled over the side of the sink, it’s a breeding ground for mold spores.

To check for mold around your sink, be sure to take a look at your dish soap bottles, sponge, faucet head and base, and the area under the sink, which can often develop leaks that go unnoticed for an extended period. If you find mold under the sink, read our guide to getting rid of it quickly and easily.

3. Windows and Window Sills

If you live in an older home or one with sub-par windows, sills and window ledges can become hotbeds for mold growth. Even new windows can collect condensation and develop mold. If moisture manages to work its way into your window sill, growth will be rapid and problematic.

If you live in a damp climate or have had window mold problems before, it may be wise to consider investing in a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from your home’s atmosphere.

4. Indoor Plant Soil

While indoor plants are beautiful and beneficial for air quality, they can also create the ideal environment for mold production. Mold on indoor plants will manifest as a white, fuzzy material on the surface of the soil.

To prevent it, don’t overwater plants and take care to ensure your home is at the optimal indoor humidity level.

5. Your Basement

Your basement is at high risk for mold. If your basement smells musty, it’s a sign that mold is present and should be dealt with.

To check for mold in your basement, inspect your pipes and ducting, areas near any foundation cracks or leaks, the spaces surrounding your sump pump, and your windows or vents, where condensation may gather.

If you’re not sure how to tell if you have mold in your basement, you can invest in a black mold test kit to help you get a definitive answer.

Dealing With Mold

Dealing with mold requires more than just a gallon of bleach. If you find mold in any of the places listed above, contact a mold removal company to help you deal with the problem and limit damage to your home.

The post How to Check for Mold In Your House: 5 Important Areas to Inspect appeared first on ServiceMaster by Zaba.

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If you do it right, it puts extra money in your pocket. Still, getting your home ready to sell can really challenge your housekeeping superpowers. This is more than spring cleaning. This project makes a big difference in how buyers see your house as their potential home.

When you’re cleaning a house to sell, a checklist makes it easier, but who has time to sit down and work out the details?

Don’t worry. We know cleaning out a house to sell is a big job. We help homeowners all across Chicago get ready to relocate year-round, and we can help you too.

10 Must-Do Steps for Deep Cleaning the House to Sell

The hardest jobs are easier to manage when you get organized first. As you start cleaning your house to sell, our checklist can help you stay on track. Follow these 10 pre-sale cleaning steps, and turn your home into a house that really impresses prospective buyers.

1. Step Back and Plan Ahead

Take a good look at every room. Size up what needs to be done with an eye to organizing tasks. Plan on tackling one big chore at a time, and be honest with yourself about how long each job might take.

2. Move Out the Clutter

Cleaning out a house to sell starts with getting rid of clutter. Pre-cleaning makes the heavy work easier, and it helps stage your home for potential buyers. Clear counters in the kitchen, dressers in bedrooms and shelves in the den.

Power Tip: Buyers peek in closets, so stash your boxed-up personal belongings in self storage.

3. Dig Deep in the Kitchen

Buyers like to look into every kitchen drawer, cabinet and corner. Make sure they inspect clean, well-organized spaces. Check lower cabinets for signs of insect debris, clear stray crumbs from drawers, and sweep away dust bunnies behind and under appliances.

Power Tip: When cleaning around appliances, never try to move them by yourself even a few inches. Stoves and refrigerators can easily tip over.

4. Put Extra Shine in Bathrooms

Wash shower curtains, polish fixtures, and clean out behind toilets and under sinks. If tile and grout look dingy, call in a cleaning contractor who can quickly put a new-home shine back into floors, counters and backsplashes.

5. Refresh Carpets and Rugs

Carpet and rug cleaning before listing the house can add significant value to your asking price. It also eliminates the possibility that you’ve missed less-than-fresh carpets. Prospective buyers aren’t nose blind to smells you’ve become used to like pet odors in carpet fibers.

6. Clean From Ceiling to Floor

General dusting, vacuuming and sweeping are ongoing chores. One-time projects include polishing light fixtures, wiping down walls and cleaning windows, doors, sills, trim and baseboards. Save time and effort by working from top to bottom and left to right.

7. Open Up the Windows

Interiors look better when they’re bathed in natural light, so keep windows sparkling clean inside and out. Pay attention to details like frames, sills and latches. Clean blinds and cords, and wash or dry-clean drapes. Polish panes in doors, sliding glass entrances and basement windows.

Power Tip: A handy squeegee upgrades window-cleaning efficiency by saving time and streaks.

8. Head Down to the Basement

Make sure the basement looks presentable. If it’s unfinished, sweep the floor, knock down cobwebs, and move out stored boxes and belongings. If you enjoy a finished basement, give it the same detailed cleaning you apply to other rooms in the house.

9. Don’t Forget the Fireplace

Most guides on how to clean out your house to sell don’t take into account the fireplace found in so many Chicago homes. It’s an important feature that catches a buyer’s eye. Whether yours is gas or wood-burning, clean up the fireplace, and check its components for safe operation.

10. Be Ready to Ask for Help

Some homeowners hire house cleaning services before selling, and the advantages add up quickly. As much as you can do by yourself, there are still pre-sale jobs that belong in professional hands including carpet stain removal, air duct cleaning and mold remediation.

We’re Always Available

We know you can handle most pre-sale cleaning chores. We also know the job can seem overwhelming. Whether you’re moving just a few miles or relocating from Northbrook to South Shore, we’re here to help.

Our teams do as much or as little as you like. We’re always available to work around your moving schedule too. Give us a call here at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba, and let us lend a hand with the best residential cleaning services in Chicago and the suburbs.

The post Deep Cleaning the House to Sell: A Time-Saving 10-Step Checklist appeared first on ServiceMaster by Zaba.

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Even a small house fire can quickly turn into a homeowner’s worst nightmare. Burst pipes can flood every room and ruin furnishings and belongings. When disaster strikes, you immediately think about your insurance coverage.

If this scenario happens to you, will you be asking yourself, “Should I use a public insurance adjuster?”

It’s a question you need to answer before you face the aftermath of a fire or flood at the house. We handle residential disaster restorations all across Chicago, and we’ve seen how problems with public adjusters can complicate the claims process. We want you to have the facts.

7 Important Differences Between Public Adjusters and Insurance Adjusters

Public adjusters and insurance adjusters provide similar services. They both handle paperwork and navigate the claims process. Insurance professionals refer to public adjusters as PAs. Because they’re independent contractors, PAs charge a fee for their services.

When you consider public insurance adjuster pros and cons, be careful. Is the public adjuster really advocating for you? Is the insurance adjuster only watching out for the company’s best interests? There’s more to both arrangements than simple representation.

1. The PA Contract Controls Access

One of the biggest problems with a public adjuster starts when you sign the contract. The PA’s agreement denies you access to and communication with anyone at your insurance company including your agent and the carrier’s adjuster.

2. Public Adjuster Expenses Add Up

A PA takes 10 to 30 percent of your settlement as compensation for services rendered. This expense is in addition to your policy’s deductible. When you work with your insurance adjuster, you only pay the deductible.

3. You Can Handle the Process

A big PA selling point focuses on handling paperwork. Your insurance agent or disaster restoration contractor can help too, and they don’t charge for the service. Most homeowners take care of the claims process by themselves.

4. Motivation Is an Important Factor

After a serious house fire, the public adjuster may advocate to rebuild instead of renovate. Maximizing your settlement works in the PA’s financial favor. You’re more likely to get a realistic damage assessment from your insurance agent.

5. High Settlements Can Count Against You

A public adjuster’s efforts to maximize final compensation can result in higher premiums. Reasonable repairs and replacements recommended by your insurance adjuster don’t have negative effects on your homeowners policy.

6. A Public Adjuster Won’t Negotiate

If you feel your public adjuster hasn’t handled your claim properly, your signed contract prevents you from negotiating a better arrangement. There aren’t any legal agreements attached to dealing with your insurance adjuster, but a PA can put a lien on your claim payment.

7. Your Insurance Agent Wants Your Business

A public adjuster works for you on a one-time basis. Your insurance company wants to keep you as a long-term client. That results in fair and personalized service now designed to ensure your satisfaction in the future.

Your Legal Rights as a Homeowner

Illinois statutes closely regulate the insurance industry and apply specific rules to public adjusters. Most homeowners aren’t aware of these important regulations.

• Illinois law requires a public adjuster to be licensed by the state’s Department of Insurance.

• You have the right to cancel your contract with a PA at any time for any reason.

• The PA isn’t allowed to make a final settlement with the insurance company without your approval.

• Any suggestion by the PA for remediation services must always include at least two competitive bids.

In the aftermath of a home fire or water disaster, we recommend you think twice when you ask, “Should I use a public insurance adjuster?” Please keep in mind your legal rights before you make any final decisions.

Our Teams Are on Your Side

We help homeowners across the city deal with overwhelming situations on a regular basis. It’s our goal to share information today that you can file away for the future. If the worst should happen, you shouldn’t have to worry about the claims process.

Let us know if our post clears up the details and answers your questions about public adjusters. As Chicago’s leading disaster restoration contractor, we work with insurance companies every day. We’re always happy to share our expertise, so just give us a call. Here at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba, we’re on your side.

The post Public Adjuster vs Insurance Adjuster: 7 Differences You Need to Know appeared first on ServiceMaster by Zaba.

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Are you wondering how to prepare your home for heavy rain? If so, you’re not alone. Lots of people live in climates where the Spring season (starting in about March) brings heavy storms that can last for weeks or months at a time.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to learn how to prepare your home for the rainy season, regardless of where you live or how much moisture you’re expecting this spring.

Here’s what you need to know.

6 Tips to Get Your House Ready for Rain

While a light rain isn’t a threat to your home, weeks of heavy, continuous rain can lead to all sorts of problems, including flooding, mold, and more. Prevent damage and keep your home in great shape with these tips:

1. Keep Your Gutters Clean

Gutters are your home’s first line of defense against heavy rains. Designed to catch rainwater and direct it away from your home, gutters can go a long way toward preventing rot, mold, and other rain-related problems.

Unfortunately, they don’t work if they’re clogged. When a gutter gets backed up with pine needles or other debris, it can’t channel water efficiently. In fact, the debris create a dam which can push water back up under your roof, or down the siding of your house.

With this in mind, keep your gutters clean, especially when you’re expecting heavy spring rains. While there are many ways to clean gutters, rinsing them with a garden hose is typically sufficient.

2. Re-Seal Your Windows and Doors

When it rains for weeks at a time, your windows and doors act as defense mechanisms for your home. If they’re poorly or improperly sealed, though, they could wind up leaking a lot of heat or allowing water to enter the home. With this in mind, be sure to re-seal your windows and doors before the heavy rains start. Use weatherstripping, foam tape, caulk, rigid foam insulation, or window film to block any air or water leaks and keep your home cozy (and dry) during the spring deluge.

3. Have Your Basement Inspected

If you live in a wet environment, your basement could be at significant risk of flooding when the rainy season starts up.

With this in mind, it’s smart to have the space professionally inspected before the rains start. A professional will be able to evaluate your basement for leaks, structural weak spots, and other risk factors that could lead to problems during heavy rain.

If the inspection uncovers mold, electrical damage, or mildew, it’s wise to hire a disaster cleanup or restoration company to address these issues before the rain starts to fall.

If you have a sump pump in your basement, ensure it’s in proper working order and that there is a backup system in place, in case the power goes out during a big storm.

4. Inspect Your Roof

If your roof is missing shingles, sagging, or just plain old, have it inspected before it starts to rain. If there are areas that need attention, have them fixed now rather than waiting until Spring is over. Don’t forget to check your chimney for cracks, gaps, or missing tiles that could allow leaks.

5. Trim the Trees Around Your Home

While you might not think much about trees, branches, and other items around your home, it’s important to remember that fallen trees and tree limbs are the top cause of preventable property damage in the U.S.! Keeping these landscape elements trimmed back during the spring is especially important, as heavy rainstorms often create high winds that can bring down debris.

The better-kept your trees and bushes are, the less likely it is they’ll damage your home in a severe storm.

6. Prepare for Flooding

If you live in a flood-prone area, or your home (or basement) has flooded before, take some time to prepare for rising tides. Move electrical cords up off the floor, elevate anything delicate or easy to damage, and move boxes of documents, furniture, or other special items to higher ground. You may also want to ensure you’ve got a stock of candles, batteries, and non-electric lights stashed somewhere, just in case the power goes out.

The Spring Showers are Coming – Are You Prepared?

April showers don’t have to bring a May glower! When you take proactive steps to prepare your home for heavy rain, it’s less likely to suffer damage as a result.

And remember: even if your home does flood or develop mold or mildew, ServiceMaster by Zaba is one of the many qualified storm cleanup companies that can help you reclaim your space. Contact us today to learn more!

The post How to Prepare your Home for the Rainy Season: 6 Quick Tips appeared first on ServiceMaster by Zaba.

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A water main break took place recently in downtown Chicago on January 2018.

What happens when a water main breaks?

If you’re asking this question, you’re likely the owner of a flooded home. While this can be a very scary situation, it doesn’t have to mean disaster for your space or belongings. The secret is simply knowing what to do after a water main break.

By understanding the steps required for flood clean up, you can protect your belongings and help ensure your house reclaims quickly and easily once the water main is repaired.

Here’s what you need to know.

What Causes a City of Chicago Water Main Break?

Corroded and aging pipes can cause a water main break.

If you live in Chicago, you might be wondering what causes water lines to break. Shouldn’t city workers be able to avoid them? What is large and powerful enough to break such a major line?

The answer is simple: many things.

From poorly-executed construction to extremely cold temperatures, shifting earth, and aging infrastructure, water main breaks have many causes. Recent Chicago broken water main issues, for example, were caused by frigid temperatures and outdated infrastructure.

While city governments are typically very careful to avoid such issues, they do happen, and they can be catastrophic when they occur.

How Long Does it Take to Fix a City Water Main Break?

When a water main break occurs, everyone wants it fixed as quickly as possible. After all, broken water lines can cause homes and sidewalks to flood, not to mention rendering roads and other public transit systems useless, or causing millions of dollars of damage.

Unfortunately, they’re not always easy or fast to fix. Repair times can be interrupted by cold weather, freezing, ice damming, and many other complicating factors.

Who is Responsible for the Damages?

Again, this depends in large part on where the break occurs, what caused it, and how much damage it creates. In some places, city governments will not pay for the damages associated with a water main break, even if it’s their fault.

As such, it’s essential for homeowners to have an insurance policy that offers flood coverage. Not only does this ensure protection in the event that a water main does break, but it also gives you the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re covered, no matter what.

If you have any questions about your policy’s coverage, contact your insurance company and ask, “Is a broken water main covered by my homeowners’ insurance?”

When a Water Main Breaks: 3 Steps to Take

Turn on the bathtub at full force while keeping other faucets off.

If a water line breaks in your neighborhood, do you know what to do? Follow these steps to protect your home and your belongings:

1. Flush Your Pipes

First things first: flush your pipes. One of the first symptoms of a break is sludge, silt, and debris in your home’s water line. If you don’t flush these things out, they can contaminate your drinking and daily use water.

The most effective way to do this is to open a large tap while keeping all the other taps in the home closed. A great option is to turn the bathtub on, full-bore, and keep other faucets turned off. Run the tap until the water is clear and you’re not hearing hissing or spitting noises, both of which are symptoms of air in the line.

If you turn on a large tap but there is no water, contact your local Water and Sewer Commission to find out whether they’ve turned off the water to your home. If not, you may have a blockage that needs professional attention.

2. Check Your Homeowners Policy

Again, not all homeowners’ insurance covers water main breaks. To find out whether or not yours does, you’ll have to read the fine print of your contract or get in touch with your insurance agent. In many cases, you’ll find that the city government won’t pay for damage caused to your plumbing system by a water main break.

This leaves you to shoulder the burden of repairs. With this in mind, check your current policy for coverage options, and start making a plan to pay for damages.

3. Hire Water Damage Restoration Services

If the main break flooded your home, you’ll want to bring in water damage restoration specialists as quickly as possible. The faster these people can get to work in your home, the less likely you are to suffer from mold, mildew, or irreparable damage.

Recovering From a Water Main Break

While broken water lines can wreak havoc on your home, they don’t have to spell complete disaster. When you learn to recognize the early signs of a break (sludge, silt, and debris in your home’s water supply) and take action after a break has occurred (opening taps and contacting your local water damage specialists), you’ll be better able to protect your belongings and help your home recover.  

Looking for 24/7 emergency service? Contact ServiceMaster by Zaba today!

The post Dealing with a Water Main Break? 3 Simple Steps to Take Now appeared first on ServiceMaster by Zaba.

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We know how it goes: you’re just going about your business one day, and then you look up and see it – a water leak in the ceiling below the bathroom. Where, once, there was pristine drywall, there’s now a large water stain or a bubble in the ceiling. You start to panic. What now?

Don’t worry, though; you’re not alone.

In fact, lots of homeowners have to face the inconvenient truth of bathroom ceiling water damage.

The only question, then, is what to do with a ceiling leak below the bathroom.

Here’s your simple guide.

What Causes Bathroom Ceiling Water Damage?

While there are many specific causes of water damage in the ceiling below the bathroom, they all come back to one culprit: a leak. When drains, seals, and pipes aren’t fitted properly, or when they wear out, they allow water to sneak around the outside edge of the barrier, seeping, instead, into your ceiling and sub-floors.

In some cases, the signs of water damage in your bathroom ceiling can be obvious: big brown spots or a water stain. In other cases, they’re a little more insidious: soft areas of the floor or persistent sneezing in the bathroom (possibly as a result of mold)

If you have any doubt about whether there is water damage in or around your bathroom, it’s wise to hire a professional to take a look.

3 Ways to Deal With a Ceiling Leak Below the Bathroom

If you’ve noticed a damp spot, dark spot, ceiling bubble, or any other sign of a leak from the upstairs bathroom, acting quickly is essential. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that damage from the leak will spread, and your subfloor and joists will feel the effect. Here are a few steps to take right away:

1. Locate the Leak

Bathroom ceiling leaks can cause damage to the floor.

First things first – you need to get the leak stopped. Head to the upstairs bathroom and check all the obvious places for leakage.

This includes the water supply lines to the sink, the sink trap, the wax ring beneath the toilet, and the supply lines to the toilet. If the leak is not apparent, run your fingers around the seals to test for moistness. Once you’ve located the leak, turn the water off and sop up any moisture on the floor.

2. Make the Area Off-Limits

In extreme situations, a water leak can damage the floor of the bathroom so much that it becomes dangerous to walk or stand on.

With this in mind (and to prevent the situation from becoming worse), make the other members of the household aware of the leak and rope the affected area off so nobody can enter it.

3. Contact a Water Damage Restoration Company

If the leak is large enough that it’s created a brown spot or water stain on the ceiling below it, it’s wise to bring in a water damage restoration company. These professionals can evaluate the damage, locate the leak, and help you come up with a plan to fix it.

Even if the leak hasn’t created any obvious damage, it’s smart to hire professionals who can evaluate your flooring for hidden leaks and other damage.

Keeping Your Home Healthy

While nobody wants to deal with a leak that seeps down beneath the bathroom floor, it can be a reality of home ownership. Fortunately, understanding what to look for (and knowing what to do when you spot it) can go a long way toward helping you mitigate damage and keep your home healthy and happy.

Need help resolving roof leaks or damp ceiling spots? Contact ServiceMaster by Zaba for 24/7 emergency service.

The post Water in the Ceiling Under the Bathroom? 5 Quick Steps appeared first on ServiceMaster by Zaba.

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It’s the last thing you want to deal with after a torrential downpour. Standing water in the crawl space after a heavy rain creates a dangerous mess that has to be cleaned up as soon as possible.

Do you know how to dry out the crawl space under your house? Are you sure it’s a job you want to tackle by yourself?

Before you face this homeowner’s dilemma, consider the work, equipment and risks involved. It’s not a DIY project for everyone. Let’s take a look at the details now so that you can be better prepared to handle water in the crawl space.

What You Need to Do First

There’s so much to take care of after any type of storm damage especially when you have to deal with a flooded crawl space. Knowing what to do first makes a big difference in personal safety and property recovery.

• Call your insurance company, and get the claims process started right away.
• Turn off the electricity to the lower levels of your home before entering the crawl space.
• Document crawl space water damage with pictures for the insurance adjuster.
• If you have any stored valuables that can be saved, contact a restoration company.

How to Dry Out the Crawl Space Under the House: 5 DIY Steps

Suit up for crawl space water removal with work boots and heavy gloves. You may also need to rent a pump, a wet-dry vac, heavy fans and a large dehumidifier.

1. Dispose of Damaged Materials

Don’t try to salvage belongings that have been under water for more than a few hours. Dispose of all wet materials including soaked insulation and submerged vapor barriers.

2. Start Pumping Out Flood Water

If you have a sump pump in the crawl space, make sure it’s working. Even if it is operating properly, back it up with another pump to move out standing water as quickly as possible.

3. Finish With a Wet Vacuum

Use a wet vac to remove water left behind after pumping. A push broom comes in handy for moving water in hard-to-reach areas to levels you can finish off with the wet vac.

4. Start the Drying Process

Position large fans and at least one dehumidifier on level surfaces throughout the crawl space. Let the equipment run for at least three days, and regularly empty dehumidifier reservoirs.

Important Power Tip: Operate pumps, wet vacs, fans and dehumidifiers with heavy-duty extension cords connected to GFCI outlets located safely above the crawl space.

5. Address Any Signs of Mold

Inspect piers, ducts, joists, overhead subflooring and the interior foundation for mold. If you see any signs of fungal growth, clean it up, and treat affected areas with mold remediation products.

Why You Need Think Twice About DIY

If your only entrance under the house is through an exterior opening, consider how you’ll manage to get equipment in and out. Even a small entry door through a closet or pantry room can be a problem especially with no more than 4 to 5 feet of clearance overhead.

Water in crawl spaces after a heavy rain is usually contaminated with insect and animal debris mixed with mold and damaged materials. Crawl space insulation and ductwork in older homes often contain asbestos. Consider all factors and related health risks before starting any work under the house.

Who You Should Call for Help

Most homeowners ask their insurance agent about who to call for water in the crawl space. Cleanup can be dangerous and time-consuming. Crawl space water damage breeds mold, compromises your home’s indoor air quality and threatens its structural integrity. An experienced water damage restoration contractor addresses these problems and more with:

• Truck-mounted pumping equipment.
• Heavy-duty air circulators and dehumidifiers.
• Certified mold removal and remediation processes.
• Specialized deodorizing and sanitizing systems.

By leaving the job in the hands of restoration professionals, you know the crawl space is clean, dry and safe. Their services also make it easier to handle the water damage claims process.

We’re Ready With a Fast Response

If you decide to clean up crawl space water damage on your own, please be careful. Take a minute now to print out our guidelines, and keep them handy just in case. We’re here to answer any questions you might have through our Comments Section.

We’re also here with a fast response to all types of  water damage. Our teams take care of everything from flooded crawl spaces to swamped basements. You can rely on ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba for expert water damage mitigation across Chicago and the suburbs. We’re always ready for your call.

The post Flooded Crawl Space After Heavy Rain? Here’s What to Do appeared first on ServiceMaster by Zaba.

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Preventing the flu and common cold from spreading at work always becomes a priority this time of year. Flu season unofficially starts in the fall and runs through May, but it peaks in February. The facts are clear: this year is shaping up to be one of Chicago’s worst flu epidemics in recent memory.

Whether you’re an employee or an employer, are you confident you’re doing all you can to avoid the misery of this year’s influenza and rhinovirus outbreaks?

You know how quickly a contagious illness can spread through a busy office and an entire building. Effective cold and flu precautions in workplace settings depend on everyone doing their part.

Workplace Sickness Prevention: 8 Tips for the Flu and Cold Season

When you consider the financial impact of flu in the workplace, the numbers are stunning. Estimates put the cost of lost productivity at more than $9 billion, and that doesn’t include downtime at home when the whole family’s sick.

With the entire country affected, everyone needs to do as much as they can to help control this year’s outbreak. As Chicago’s leading commercial cleaning company, we offer these 8 cold and flu prevention tips for the workplace.

1. Make Hand Washing Routine

Ensure employees make a habit out of washing their hands frequently.

Of all flu precautions in the workplace, this is one of the most important and easiest to implement. Post instructions for efficient hand washing in bathrooms and break rooms, and stock both with plenty of antibacterial soap.

2. Assign and Rotate Duties

Put together a comprehensive workplace sickness prevention plan. Assign different individuals to distribute supplies, take care of touch points and empty trash. Keep the schedule fair by rotating designated duties once a week.

3. Distribute Flu-Fighting Supplies

Consider installing a hand sanitizer dispenser at your workplace.

Keep tissues, hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes within easy reach on every desk. Make sure these flu-fighting supplies are available at work stations and all common areas. Empty nearby trash cans on a regular basis.

4. Keep Meetings High-Tech

Transform your building into a flu prevention network by holding meetings across smartphone and desktop platforms. Replace face-to-face time with conference calls, chat messaging, intra-office emailing and video conferencing.

5. Consider On-Site Flu Shots

Flu vaccinations administered at work can help prevent the spread of the flu.

Check with your company’s health insurance carrier, and discuss offering on-site flu shots through a local health provider. Flu vaccinations can be a very effective part of workplace sickness prevention planning.

6. Stay Smart With Cleaning Products

Sanitizers and disinfectants work differently. Read labels to be sure you’re using each one correctly. CDC guidelines for these products in school settings are also applicable to the workplace.

7. Wipe Down Touch Points

Regularly sanitize areas that get dirty easily, such as office desks and keyboards.

Practice flu safety in the workplace by disinfecting touch points throughout the entire building. Wipe down keyboards, tools, light switches, doorknobs and bathroom fixtures. If someone touches it, disinfect it daily.

8. Implement a Stay-Home Policy

Preventing a flu and cold outbreak depends on minimizing exposure, so make it clear that no one should come to work with a fever or bad cough. Supervisors should send employees home at the first sign of illness.

The Flu-Season Advantages of Hiring Professional Cleaning Services

Commercial cleaning companies offer important advantages and services to property owners and tenants during flu season. Dirty air duct systems distribute air-borne microorganisms, and flu microbes can survive on soft surfaces for up to 12 hours. A commercial cleaning contractor helps combat flu and cold at the workplace with a variety of industry-certified techniques including:

• Disinfecting all surfaces, common areas, floors and carpets.
• Bringing in advanced fogging systems to sanitize the entire building.
• Setting up heavy-duty air scrubbers that purify and circulate indoor air.

Combined with air duct cleaning and upholstery cleaning, these affordable services can be strategic advantages during flu and cold season. They’re especially effective when applied across an entire commercial property.

Keeping the Workplace Healthy

We still have several months to go before this flu outbreak runs its course, so talk with others in your office and your building. Share our flu and cold prevention tips, and add your ideas through our Comments Section. We can all deal with this historic flu season a little easier by working together.

Our teams are available with certified, professional cleaning techniques that keep workplace environments healthy and safe. We’re proud of our reputation as the most trusted commercial cleaning service in Chicago and the suburbs. You can always count on us here at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba.

The post 8 Highly Effective Cold and Flu Prevention Tips for the Workplace appeared first on ServiceMaster by Zaba.

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