Recent Posts

Should you use bleach to remediate mold?

3/30/2021 (Permalink)

Black and green mold on sheetrock wall. Bleach can be harmful if used on mold.

In some households, bleach has become a multi-cleaner agent and a disinfectant and while we can recognize that bleach does have its uses, when it comes to remediating mold, SERVPRO of Black Hawk County does not promote it as the best method.

Bleach is ok when it comes to "bleaching" things but, bleach alone is not a sufficient solution to mold issues. While bleach can kill mold on hard surfaces, it is almost impossible to use bleach to kill mold on wood, drywall, or any porous material inside your home. Not to mention the fumes can be hazardous to a person’s lungs. Mold tends to root itself deeper into the material. Bleach may kill some of the molds on the surface but what it’s mainly doing is “bleaching” or removing the color from the mold. This can be very misleading. Due to the bleaching of the mold, it might trick you into thinking the mold issue has been resolved, putting a pause to further removal actions. Even the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not recommend using bleach for mold removal.

While killing mold is important, the removal of the mold and its mold spores are too! This will require agitation of the mold, cleaning up the mold, and airing out the mold spores away from your home. Safety measures such as wearing gloves, safety goggles, and a respirator mask are highly suggested. In some mold cases, a DIY cleanup is perfectly ok but it will require a thorough cleanup job and resolving of the humid or wet environment so the mold doesn’t return.


SERVPRO of Black Hawk County uses mold removal sprays in conjunction with cleaning methods as a way to remove and prevent mold. Two mold removal sprays that we recommend are Concrobium Mold Control and Benefect. The porous material may have to be disposed of and replaced. If you have mold issues inside your home or suspect some water damage, give us a call. We’re here to help!


Spring Cleaning Tips from Cleaning Experts!

3/15/2021 (Permalink)

 A picture containing a bucket, microfiber cloths, gloves and a spray bottle with an orange cleaner. Cleaning Like a Pro!

Iowans understand what a false start to Spring looks like, but we cannot help but let our guards down and celebrate the upcoming warmer weather and the beauty of spring. We even started doing yard work (cleaning up the dog waste from winter). Most of us look forward to spring cleaning to refresh our homes and even our mood.

As cleaning experts, SERVPRO is sharing helpful cleaning tips that we use to clean and restore homes after a fire, water, or mold disaster.


  1. Fold your cleaning rag like an expert. Do you know that we use an 8-fold technique with our microfiber cloth when removing dust or soot? Grab your cloth and fold it in half twice. After this fold, you should have 8 sides of the cloth to use for one single pass in one direction on each side. After each side is used, use a new rag. This will help avoid the spread of dust and cross-contamination.
  2. Clean from top to bottom. Wipe the dust from the fans, exhaust fans, walls, trims, and furniture, and work your way down.
  3. Use the upholstery attachment on your vacuum for window blinds, your dryer, and lampshades.
  4. Use clean coffee filters for a streak-free window.
  5. If you are a plant owner, make sure you clean and dry around the plant's space. Moisture and high humidity can promote mold.
  6. Do not use bleach when trying to clean an area that has mold. Use a microbial cleaner instead.
  7. Wash your carpets and rugs with a wet vacuum or have them professionally cleaned.


SERVPRO can aid in areas that are a bit more challenging or questionable; call us for an expert opinion on cleanup.  

Reconstruction for Home and Businesses after Disaster

3/10/2021 (Permalink)

An older gentlemen with a tool belt using a machine "Like it never even happened," with RECONSTRUCTION.

Got Construction? Yes, we do! New Division of Service Opens for SERVPRO of Black Hawk County.

After SERVPRO cleans up from a water or fire disaster in a home or business, construction work will be necessary. More times than not, clients want us to arrange the reconstruction. SERVPRO of Black Hawk County is making good on living up to its national tagline, “Like it never even happened,” by announcing the new division of work, Reconstruction Services.

Dennis Larson, Construction Manager for the division, joined the team in September of 2020. He brings 25 years’ worth of skills & standards that align and complement SERVPRO’s core values. Dennis is the project manager that directs team members AND completes the work, literally putting homes and businesses back together again. Clients can, of course, recommend or choose a preferred subcontractor but having Dennis onboard- dedicated to SERVPRO projects only- speeds up recovery time and eliminate scheduling conflicts. This is favorable as it equals saving money & moving back in sooner!


Structural repairs, carpentry, and framing, along with installing windows and doors are part of the Reconstruction Division work. Flooring, as well as kitchen and bathroom cabinets, are a common area of need that Dennis and his team will address. He will work with the owner in the selection of materials and designs to restore the business or home. 


Communication is vital from the start. A plan is outlined and approvals secured, including estimates to an insurance adjuster, if the loss is part of an insurance claim. As the rebuild activities progress, Dennis will communicate timelines and expectations to the best of his ability. Consistency is a benefit of working with one contractor, like Dennis, during the entire rebuild.

"Like it never even happened,"® can be part of your experience with SERVPRO of Black Hawk County with our new division of Reconstruction Services.

Discover more about our reconstruction division on our website.

Where’s the pool of water in your kitchen coming from?

3/2/2021 (Permalink)

A kitchen with large tiles and orange water seeping between two tiles. Find the source of the water to protect from extreme water damage.

Are you constantly dropping paper towels on the floor and with your foot dragging it across a pool of water that just appeared out of nowhere? There’s not even a streak of water to determine which direction it came from. Is it coming from underneath the floor? Have you investigated or allowed it to be apart of your daily routine? Well, continual water on your floors may be a bigger problem than you think. There’s a water leak in your home.

Water Damage in your Kitchen

Not only can a pool of water be hazardous to your safety but it can damage the walls and flooring of your kitchen. Water that has not been dried properly or that continues to show up may promote mold or mildew growth and weaken building material such as drywall or flooring’s adhesive. SERVPRO of Black Hawk County suggests that you DO NOT IGNORE, FIND THE SOURCE! This will protect your home and pocket especially if you are considering filing an insurance claim on the water damage. Some insurance companies may not cover the claim if there’s proof that the issue was neglected over an extended period of time.


Here are a few areas to investigate for signs of water leaks…

  • Under the sink- Quick tip: Place a plastic tub under the main sink’s plumbing lines. It’s the little leak that wreaks havoc!
  • Behind the refrigerator by the water line
  • Underneath the refrigerator near a bottom freezer.
  • Around the dishwasher.
  • In the basement, underneath the kitchen.

Signs of water leaks can look like water stains, mold growth, or rotted wood. As Fix A Leak Week approaches (March 15th- 21st), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has great resources on how to DETECT AND CHASE DOWN LEAKS. <- Click the link for a helpful checklist!

A great tip from is to read your water meter during a period when no water is being used. If the meter reading changes there is definitely a leak somewhere in your home. If you still can not find the source, you may need to seek assistance from a professional such as a plumber.

Have water damage in your kitchen? Call SERVPRO!

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County is available for Inspection and Water Damage Assessment to determine areas of concern with moisture readers and thermal infrared cameras. While we do not repair pipes, we can help clean up after water leaks, floods, sewer backup, and pipe breaks. Call us at 319-268-1521.

Protecting your home against SNOW

2/9/2021 (Permalink)

A two story brick home with snow on the roofs and ground. Do not use a ladder to shovel your roof.

Now that the groundhog indicated a LONG WINTER, we thought it would be a fantastic idea to go over some snow and ice removal tips that may help you avoid water or storm damage to your property. Heavy snowfall and even ice can start water damage to your home.

5 Tips for snow and ice removal on your home

  1. Shovel snow away from your foundation – Driveways, sidewalks, and entrances are all important areas to shovel but another area that should be considered are those areas nearest to the foundation of the home. A pileup near the structure is not a good idea especially once it starts melting. Flooding can occur and water may seep into your home and inside your basement.
  2. Do not shovel your flat roof – Some people could think that shoveling their roof might be a good idea especially when the snow footage is in eye view. Some concerns are wet snow and the weight collapsing a roof but your roof should be able to withhold the weight. Shoveling your roof on your own is putting yourself at risk of injury, plus, you might actually cause damage to the roof instead. We recommend calling a professional to remove the snow
  3. Use roof rakes for sloped roofs on detached garage or sheds to remove SOME snow – This is a safer way to remove a few inches of snow because it doesn’t require you to stand on a ladder. This is why we recommend it on small structures such as a garage or shed. When using the roof rake make sure you are not scraping the snow off the shingles as you may damage it. Less snow on the roof can help avoid ice dams.
  4. Do not chip off ice dams with a hammer or ice pick – If you have ice dams, leave them alone unless you are certain that the ice dams are resulting in water leakage in the attic or ceilings. If the ice dams are causing water damage, you might be able to freeze the leak by aiming a boxed fan at the leakage inside the attic. For more info on how to get rid of ice-dams CLICK HERE.
  5. Inspect the roof and ceiling before, during, and after winter – Your roof may be pretty healthy now but over time, your roof will need maintenance. During this time, it will be difficult for a roof inspection but if you see some areas of concern such as a collection of ice dams in certain areas, take a picture and save it to reference later during a future roof inspection.

Wet insulation can cause Mold!

If you suspect wet insulation in your attic or water damage, give us a call! We can help remediate the issue and restore your home. Call us at (319) 268-1521.

Saving Grandma’s Wedding Dress

12/30/2020 (Permalink)

A long sleeve vintage wedding dress with lace details on a black hanger, hanging on a portable clothing rack. Preserving Cherished Treasures.

A few weeks ago, SERVPRO of Black Hawk County had the opportunity to remove a musty smell, along with smoke odor, from a wedding dress. The woman, Madison, came to us saddened after other attempts to clean it failed. The wedding dress was an heirloom from her grandmother, that had been passed down. Brought to us in a black plastic bag; it seemed like an impossible feat to restore!

Here to help

Empathizing with Madison, we prepared our plan to save the precious dress.  The small house fire they recently experienced revealed items tucked away for safekeeping had been affected. The smoke from the fire found itself inside the closet where the dress was stored. After most house fires, the homeowner not only has fire damage but often water damage from putting out the fire. Humidity that builds up could have dampened the room as well, causing more damage. Out of the garbage bag and onto a dress hanger, to a portable rack was the first step to recovery. Wheeled to the confined bay area, the dress was relocated and the room prepped for ozone treatment.

What is “ozone-ing”?

SERVPRO utilizes ozone machines to generate a gas called Ozone that is very reactive. The ozone molecules are made up of three oxygen atoms with the third atom being able to detach and attach itself to other surrounding molecules, including smelly ones! Most often, “ozoned” items no longer have an odor.  OZONE IS DANGEROUS to breathe in. That’s why we take precautions and use a sealed room to contain the manmade concentrated gas. A caution/warning sign on the door communicates the importance of staying out while the machine runs. When the ozone machine is turned off, we keep the doors closed for at least 24 hours. Then we open the room up and air it out.


We returned the keepsake wedding dress to Madison the following week, absent of any smoke or musty odor! Our team of cleaning technicians especially enjoys restoring an item with significant meaning for a person AND in this case, future family members, being able to continue handing down the heirloom piece. Don’t give up when you have experienced odor damage to a beloved item, give us a call! We will tackle it to our very best ability.

Learn more about Ozone:

Chimneys are pretty… dangerous.

12/23/2020 (Permalink)

The side of a white house with a brick chimney that has some fire damage on the exterior of the house by the chimney. Annual Inspection of your chimney can prevent a fire.


Chim chiminey

Chim chiminey

Chim chim cher-ee! A sweep is as NEEDED

As NEEDED can be

The look of a chimney and the sound of crackling wood is indeed pretty to look and listen to but did you know that without proper maintenance and cleaning, chimneys can be hazardous. As a restoration business that cleans up after fire damage, we have already had a few fire losses due to chimneys. With colder temperatures, we assume most of you have started up your fireplace and hopefully, nothing has happened but it’s not too late for some education!

6 Tips to maintain the health of your chimney

  1. Have a professional do a chimney inspection annually – the best time is off-season (before fall and winter).
  2. Observe your chimney draft. The chimney should draw the fire up rather than push back inside your home. You can test this by lighting a rolled-up newspaper or small pieces of wood inside the chimney. If you see that it doesn’t smoke properly and fills the room, quickly distinguish the flame. There could be an obstruction in your chimney that needs to be cleared away. Be sure to always open the damper before lighting your chimney.
  3. Do not use unseasoned wood in your fireplace. Unseasoned wood or “green wood” is wood that is still wet. Unseasoned wood will smoke harshly and can create more soot and creosote. Creosote is a residue of wood burning in the chimney but too much can be extremely flammable. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), “All forms are highly combustible. If it builds up in sufficient quantities – and the internal flue temperature is high enough – the result could be a chimney fire.”
  4. If you have a brick or masonry chimney, inspect the interior of the firebox and exterior of it for any holes, loose debris, or cracking in the mortar. Fire can escape from these cracks and spread to the rest of your home. Also, check for creosote or soot build-up. If the creosote is tar-like, do not light a fire. You must get the chimney cleaned out.
  5. If you are a new owner to a chimney, understanding the mechanics and build of your chimney will help you prevent a fire. Before you purchase, make sure you ask a lot of questions about the proper way to maintain the chimney and even how old it is and when was the last time it was repaired or had a maintenance check. The has a great article with easily consumable information about the Fireplace and Chimney Elements.
  6. With a glove, check the smoke shelf for any debris, leaves, or water that could have fallen through the chimney cap. It is important to have a cap on the top of your chimney to prevent large objects or animals to come in through your chimney. Sorry Santa, you might need to come in through the front door.

Enjoy your clean and safe fireplace!

We do not sweep chimneys but we do clean soot and fire damage. Remember, you should schedule an annual inspection preferable performed by a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep in 2021. If you experience some fire damage and need your fireplace restored, give us a call. We are here to help.

Merry Christmas from the SERVPRO family!

12/17/2020 (Permalink)

a tall man with an elf hat and a black mask next to a shorter woman with blonde hair a black face mask. Here to help this Christmas season!

A holly jolly greeting from the elves at SERVPRO!

With how this 2020 has gone, we are on a mission to brighten our year with some holiday cheer. Our SERVPRO Elves are hard at work to make this happen. Brett, our project manager, took lead once again with setting up Secret Santa. Chuck, our warehouse manager, is decorating his “office” (the warehouse) with some twinkling lights. Debbie and Dani (marketing team) are hard at work wrapping up gifts for our Insurance friends. Scott & Libby, our SERVPRO Santa & Mrs. Claus, prepared a fun and safe party to show their appreciation for all the hard-working “elves” whose gift of restoring homes and businesses have shown greatly this year.

2020, you’ve been naughty… but still, we are grateful for all the NICE that happened during this time.


We wanted to share with our community some Holiday Cheer too. Our team picked a few organizations to collect items for such as the Cedar Bend Humane Society… Most of us own a cat or dog and we love animals! Here are a few other things we did…

  • Donate cans to the Northeast Iowa Food Bank
  • Collected gifts for a mom and her two children from Friends of the Family
  • Collected gifts and a cash donation for seniors in Home Care Assistance of the Cedar Valley and surrounding senior living.
  • Drop off gifts to the Fire Department and City Hall.

We are doing our best to finish this year off with a positive attitude and a grateful heart. Thanks to all those who trusted us to clean and restore after a fire, water, or COVID-related disaster.


Happy Boss's Day!!!

10/15/2020 (Permalink)

Two people posing with big smiles in front of a green wall. Scott and Libby are the BOSS! (Best)

Today is Boss’s Day and we want to give a special shout-out to Scott and Libby Demuth, our franchise owners. We are so grateful for your care, generosity, and leadership. Here are a few of what your employees had to say about you two.

1. What was a time your boss(s) really helped you?

I didn’t feel like I was doing a good job but Scott gave me confidence. He encouraged me and believed and trusted that I could do the job right!

Even when I was doubtful of my work, Scott never ever thought I couldn’t.

Scott and Libby worked around my schedule with having to get off early during my pregnancy and having health issues that came up. They were super understanding and helpful.

2. What qualities do you most appreciate about your boss(s)?

They have a great sense of humor and I can rely on them to answer any questions or concerns I may have.

Sincere care, Flexibility, and Lightheartedness.

I appreciate having a comedic work atmosphere because it makes me enjoy my time at work. I want to get up and come in every day.

3. What have you learned from your boss(s)?

They always strive for excellence. They have invested in me by training and certifying me so that I may be more efficient with my work.

If I have any questions or concerns, I can trust Scott and Libby to answer and help.

4. What do you want to thank your boss(s) for?

Thank you for comforting me during my loss.

Thank you for allowing me to spend time with my family on short notice.

Thank you for giving me an opportunity to lead a team and for trusting me to do so.

Thank you for allowing me to work with great people.

Thank you for letting me do what I want! (Trusting me in the ways of my work.)

Thank you for giving me the confidence to do my job quickly and efficiently.

5. What is one positive thing you have always wanted to tell your boss(s), but never have had the chance?

You are the first boss that I haven’t wanted to push down a flight of stairs. Congrats!!

I like how you come to the office in a positive mood every day and greet everyone. You make us feel welcomed here and appreciated.

We wish you many more years of blessings and success!

Home Maintenance List

10/13/2020 (Permalink)

Lint trap that is filled with gray red lint on a dryer machine. Home Maintenance keeps your home healthy!

With our changing seasons, we usually all remember to change the heating and cooling furnace filter but it's the upkeep of other appliances and essential working parts of our home that we need a reminder.

  • DISHWASHER FILTER - Wipe off with a paper towel, then rinse with hot water till the water runs quickly through the screen. Use mild soap if needed.
  • GARBAGE DISPOSAL - Turn off the power. To remove sludge, fill the sink with ice cubes then pour in 1/2 cup of coarse salt. Let the ice sit for about 30 minutes, then turn on the garbage disposal and the faucet and leave both on until all the ice and salt are gone. Use a scrub brush to clean the drain and baffle.
  • BATHROOM EXHAUST FAN - Turn the fan off. Remove the plastic exterior grille. Wipe or vacuum with a bristle brush to thoroughly remove dust. Carefully vacuum the fan housing and around the motor.
  • DRYER LINT SCREEN - Remove lint, then rinse with hot water till the screen runs clear and quickly through. Use mild soap if needed.  The flexible dryer duct should also be cleaned out to make sure the lint is not clogged. Make sure the outside vent is cleared.
  • FLOOR DRAIN - Remove debris and sand while wearing disposable gloves. Annually, have a floor cleaning expert to ‘snake’ or clear buildup from hair, laundry soap & fabric lent, and especially tree roots that block flow.
  • DEHUMIDIFIER FILTER - Wipe off with a paper towel, then rinse with hot water till water runs quickly through the screen.
  • SUMP PUMP - Test the flotation device by pouring enough water into the sump basin to trigger the pump, make sure the float moves freely and the sump pump activates when the water gets high enough. Let the pump remove most of the water and make sure it shuts off when the water is only a few inches deep. Repeat this test one more time. Make sure the intake screen or discharge pipe is not clogged. Purchase a battery-operated pump or have a generator to use if the pump were to stop due to power failure.
  • AC UNIT - Turn off. Use a leafblower to remove large debris. Spray water to clean off loose debris. Spray outside unit with coil cleaner and wait 15 minutes. Rinse the cleaner off with water.

***Every appliance model is different so make sure to research your item for the location and best maintenance practices.


As always, SERVPRO of Black Hawk County is here to help.