Recent Posts

Water Loss in Apartment Building

1/7/2020 (Permalink)

Two green fan-like Air Movers sit on gray carpet in a hallway. We restore after water damage in commercial buildings.

Disasters do not sleep.

On December 17, we received a phone call during the evening about water damage at a local apartment building in Waterloo, IA. Water damage was due to a small grease fire in one of the apartments that activated the sprinklers. We responded to that call and within an hour, we had a team on site. We understand that fire and water damage happens in the most inopportune times, even when its dark outside, but we are ready to help when disaster strikes.

We provide 24/7 Emergency Services.

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County schedules and rotate 2 employees after hours to guarantee that someone can respond to any emergency due to fire or water damage. In this case, the apartment building is active with residents so, for a faster restoration process, we decided to expand the team that evening. Our owner reached out to 3 other employees who were not on the on-call schedule. We are so grateful for the can-do attitudes of our employees. We had four of our production technicians, a project manager, and our owner all working hard on getting the job done right. Our SERVPRO truck was packed with our water extraction machine, dehumidifiers, and different types of air movers and driven to the job site location. The last employee left the site around 4:30 am in the morning after water was extracted and all air movers and dehumidifiers were purposely set in several places for faster drying.

We provide services to Apartments, Hotels, Schools and many other commercial buildings.

For the next few days after the initial call, our team routinely checked the equipment, monitored the humidity levels and took moisture readings of all the affected areas. Our employees are all trained professionals and take the necessary actions to ensure a job well done! Water damage is usually covered by your insurance but it should always be dealt with immediately to prevent further issues.

If you are a landlord or an apartment owner and you suspect water damage, give SERVPRO of Black Hawk County a call at 319-268-1521.

Fire Extinguishers and How to use it.

1/2/2020 (Permalink)

Red fire extinguisher is on the ground and woman stands next to it as she bends to pull the pin. Team member Debbie learns how to P.A.S.S a fire extinguisher at the Waterloo Fire Department's open house.

A friend and local insurance agent recently told us about how he had to use a fire extinguisher for a fire that started behind a wall. He was working on a do it yourself project in the bathroom and was soldering two copper pipes together which created a small rumbling fire. He first smelled the fire and then could hear it behind a wall. He quickly got a hammer and his fire extinguisher from the garage. He took the hammer to the wall where he smelled, heard and sensed the heat. He could see the pipes that were heating up and released the foam from the extinguisher right to the source of the fire. It was a quick decision which probably saved his home.


Still, it is important to consider the steps you are going to take if you decide to use a fire extinguisher. Personal safety is extremely important so we do not recommend to try to put out a large fire that has already spread. Use your best judgment. Evacuating your family and calling the fire department should be some of your first steps to take. After using a fire extinguisher, the source may re-ignite so it’s important the fire department can inspect it.

There are 5 main types of extinguishers – water, foam, dry powder, C02, and wet chemical. The type of extinguisher you should use is according to the class of fire. All extinguishers should have the label of which class it's suitable for. Please take some time to find out what label(s) your fire extinguisher has.

5 Class Fires – A, B, C, D and K (What does it mean?)

Class A Fire – fires on wood, paper, rubber, plastics. “Ordinary combustibles.”

Class B Fire – fires in flammable liquid such as gas, alcohol, or oils.

Class C Fire – fires involved in electrical equipment or electrical fires.

Class D Fire – fires in combustible metals such as titanium.

Class K Fire – Fires in cooking oils & grease.

Most common extinguishers are a multipurpose dry powder for class A, B, and C Fires. According to, Extinguisher for Class B Fires can be suitable for cooking grease or oil fires (Class K) in a home. Commercial Kitchen should always have a fire extinguisher specifically for Class K fires. We recommend keeping a few extinguishers around your home. The kitchen, garage, and in the second level are some of the locations we suggest having them in.

*Fire Extinguishers should be examined annually for maintenance.

Your local fire department might be able to examine your extinguisher to see if it’s still in good condition. One of our employees did exactly that at an open house our Waterloo Fire department held in September. They went as far as to double-check to see if that extinguisher was on a recall list. Good thing they checked because it was recalled and our employee was able to trade it in for new extinguisher. In this open house, they also had hands-on training on how to use a fire extinguisher. We recommend checking out some of the open houses your local fire department might hold. It’s fun and educating for you and your whole family.

Remember how to use a fire extinguisher with the acronym P.A.S.S.

P- Pull the pin

A- Aim the hose at the base of the fire from a safe distance

S- Squeeze the lever

S- Sweep the hose from side to side until no more fire.

If you don't have a fire extinguisher, we want to encourage you to get a few for your home. Being educated and prepared is the best thing you can do for you and your family's safety.

If you need cleaning and restoration after a fire, please give us a call at 319-268-1521.

SERVPRO Terminology (Part 1)

12/26/2019 (Permalink)

Green background with the IICRC logo which looks like a sphere with lines that give it dimension. Our vision is to be the best restoration company in the world.

What is a production technician and what is the IICRC?

For SERVPRO, production technicians are the employees who work out in the field with water, fire or mold damage that can take place in a residential home or commercial building. They hold the responsibility of demolition, removal of trash, professional cleaning, using equipment for water extraction/drying and more. They do this with the utmost care and respect of our clients to get the job done in a timely matter.

All of our production technicians are trained and certified by the IICRC which stands for Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification. This is the most advanced certification for the restoration industry! We invest in this certification so that our employees can have the best understanding of how their job needs to be done and so that our potential customers can trust in our abilities to help restore their home or business.

Mold Remediation Training - Containment

12/26/2019 (Permalink)

Plastic 7-ft tall chamber with red zipper tape on one side and 3 men gathered around it. Training for SERVPRO production technicians on Mold Remediation and Containment.

At the beginning of December, we sent two of our employees to a training opportunity held by the IIRCC.

Devon and Jeremy (production technicians) participated at a 4-day training of Mold Remediation alongside other Iowa’s SERVPRO employees. Scott, the owner of our Franchise, requested that they take thorough notes to report back to the office. We are always open to new techniques or best practices in our field. Luckily, these guys are team players and did exactly that. They had two experienced Instructors, Luis, a highly successful field expert from Australia and Rachel who has basically written the book on Mold Remediation. One of the training practices that we were very intrigued about is called “pressure fit containment” for mold remediation.

Mold releases spores when messed with so we must contain the affected room or area. We do this already by using 8-millimeter plastic and tape. A pressure fit containment requires more material. The pros of building a pressure fit containment are that it can be less invasive than using tape on painted walls. A tape can remove paint. The con is that the cost is more expensive and there’s the possibility that insurance may not cover it.

Pressure Fit Containment

A pressure fit containment is a frame constructed to fit in a doorway or entry. The frame is held by the pressure of 2 x 4” wood boards. Then the plastic is stapled tightly on the board. To get inside the containment, a zipper is attached straight down from the top frame to the bottom. The zipper has an adhesive in the back of it so it’s easy to attach right onto the plastic. After its attached, the zipper is unzipped and the plastic is cut straight down from in between the open zipper. The trainees had hands-on training on how to do exactly this in a demonstration room.

Aside from the pressure fit containment, they also built an exit chamber to be attached. The materials that are used are PVC pipes (nonporous material) and plastic that is glued on and wrapped around most sides except for the area that will attach to the main containment by plastic and tape. After they built it, the trainees attached it to the main containment. This area is used to enter after exiting the affected area so that the person can be HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) vacuumed. When someone exits the chamber, all the spores or unclean air from their clothes, body and the chamber itself would have been removed. I have to mention that the plastic that they and we use is fire-resisting so in the case of a fire, the plastic will not engulf into flames spreading the fire but instead it would melt. Fire safety is quite important to us.

Back in the office, we were able to see exactly what went on because Devon brought back great pictures that showcases the training. Knowledge is power and we care about what we do. Our vision is to be the best in the world for restoration so training our team will help us achieve that! If you want to see the pictures Devon brought back, CLICK HERE.


A Letter of Thankfulness

11/11/2019 (Permalink)

Pen in Hand on white surface with the words, "Thank you!" We are grateful for people who trust, recommend, and choose us to clean and restore lives.

Dear Readers,

It’s not unusual for Iowa to experience white soft powder falling from the sky in November as you may already know. Apparently, we are preparing for a LONG and COLD winter this year but instead of being grouchy or “Grinch-y”, SERVPRO of Black Hawk County can’t help but be grateful during this holiday seasons.

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County is not only a business that cleans and restores homes or buildings, but we also restore lives.

In honor of Thanksgiving, we want to take a moment to jot down a few things that we are grateful for…

  1. We are grateful for our families and friends.
  2. We are grateful for shelter and warm clothes.
  3. We are grateful for people who trust, recommend, and choose us to clean and restore lives.
  4. We are grateful for our employees that raise their hands each morning and say “I’ll go do that clean up!”, no matter what it involves.
  5. We are grateful for the wisdom and knowledge we gain being in this line of work.
  6. We are grateful for our owners who care about our well-being and who encourage us to grow.
  7. We are grateful for our first responders who protect our community.
  8. We are grateful for insurance agents and adjuster who care about restoring lives as much as we do.
  9. We are grateful for the turkey, potatoes, corn, gravy, biscuit, pies and all the other food we are going to be filling our stomachs with.
  10. We are grateful that we are here to experience all that life has to offer, even the tough stuff because we are just a little more grateful for the good.

We hope that you can find joy and thankfulness during this season. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.

Happy Thanksgiving!!


SERVPRO of Black Hawk County.

5 Tips to Winterize your Home.

11/5/2019 (Permalink)

Large tree with red leaves, snow on the ground and a bench. Text that says "5 Tips to Winterize Home" is in the forefront. These tips will help avoid water damage and fire damage during the winter.

Let’s get ready to WINTEEER!!

It’s time to wrestle Iowa’s winter to the ground with a ton of jackets, gloves, beanies, boots, scarves, and wool thick socks. With all the layers of clothes that you and I will be wearing, there’s no way “Stone Cold Frost Bite” is going to beat us, but what about our homes? Let’s talk about how you can WINTERIZE your home to avoid water or fire damage. (Ok, I’ll stop it with the wrestling analogy.)

You can avoid Frozen Pipes or Chimney caught on Fire with these 5 Tips.

  1. Remove the hose from outdoor spigots and stow away for winter.
  2. Clean out your gutters and downspouts before winter.
  3. Apply caulk or weather stripping to windows that may have gaps.
  4. Replace the filter in your furnace.
  5. Check the health and cleanliness of your fireplace before igniting it for the first fire this season.

We hope this will help keep your home healthy from the cold weather. We also want to remind you that it’s a good idea to make sure you have a shovel and stock up on Ice Melt before a heavy snowfall.

Need Water Extraction or Fire Damage Cleanup?

Call us at 319.268.1521.

Click here for a Winterizing List from Lowes.

Prevent and Prepare for a Fire.

10/7/2019 (Permalink)

Lint and a yellow lighter on top of a white dryer that has burn marks on it. Lint is highly flammable. Clean out your dryer vent.

Fall is here and Winter is coming so we all know that we Iowan folks are going to use fire very soon whether it is to light up a fire pit or chimney to warm up during the cool nights or light the pumpkin latte scented candle to fill our home with seasonal cheer. We need to make sure we are being very careful in order to keep our precious home safe. We want to take a moment to give you 5 tips on how you can prevent a fire.

5 Ways You Can Prevent Fires.

  1. Make sure you keep your stove and oven clean from grease, food and flammable cardboard or paper. Never leave the food you are cooking unattended.
  2. Be cautious when lighting candles. Make sure candles are clear from curtains or anything really and always remember to blow out the candle when you are leaving the room.
  3. Clean out your dryer vent and throw the lint away. Do not collect lint in your laundry room. If an electrical issue does occur, the lint is highly flammable and it will make matters worse.
  4. Be cautious of your space heater. Do not plug it in a power strip that is not designed for a higher voltage. Always unplug the space heater before you leave the house or go to bed.
  5. Keep your cords in good shape. If you have a pet that has chewed some cords, please change them out right away because this can be extremely hazardous.


It’s not a joke. Escape plans or practicing your escape plan isn’t only for schools or businesses. The National Fire Protection Association has created a grid you can download and print to help you create an escape plan for you and your family. CLICK HERE to download.

Win a Fire Extinguisher from us!

During this Fire Prevention Week (Oct 6th – 0ct 12th), we are giving away a fire extinguisher for your home. There are three things you need to do in order to enter this giveaway. First, go to Facebook and LIKE our Fire Extinguisher post which will be the very top post. Second, Leave a comment! Lastly, Share the post. The last day to enter is Oct 12th, 2019 and the winner will be announced Wednesday, Oct 16th. Good luck!!

It’s raining… You might have sewer backup.

9/13/2019 (Permalink)

A car driver’s perspective of being on the road with dark clouds looming over, and droplets on the windshield. Sewer Backup may be more prevalent during heavy rains because of the overflow of water and sewer lines.

Nothing more gets you deeper into the Monday Blues like a gray sky and black puffy clouds looming over you. Add some crazy winds and a few branches flying across your car while you are driving to work and you are almost certain it’s going to be bad Monday. As work gets busy the superstition starts to fade away and now it seems like it’s going to be just a regular ol’ Monday, Right? WRONG. You go home and as you open your front door to your house, the foulest smell just punches you straight in the nose. It hurts so much you can’t help but start to tear…

Find out your Finished Basement is bubbling with Filthy water.

Back-up sewers are a nightmare for homeowners and renters. Not many are prepared for such a disaster. This week, as eastern Iowa received some severe thunderstorms and rain, many of our community members were affected by back-up sewer. Basements are in danger of getting wet with BLACK WATER possibly due to the home’s clogged pipes or maybe an overflow of the city’s pipelines or main sanitary system. Either way, it’s a disheartening situation especially if your basement is finished. 

What to do if you have Sewer Backup.

  • DO NOT TOUCH THE WATER. Keep your children and pets away from the dirty water. Black Water is extremely dangerous. It is unsanitary and can cause severe illness and possibly death if ingested.
  • CALL A RESTORATION COMPANY. A sewer back up is an emergency and needs to be dealt with immediately. We (SERVPRO) can help in such a disaster and we have 24/7 Emergency Services available.
  • CALL YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY. Cleaning up after a sewage backup can be costly. Call your insurance agent TODAY and find out if your sewer lines are covered.

Prevent a sewer backup by regular inspection and maintenance on your pipes.

The City of Waverly recently sent out a mailing brochure to their community about not flushing F.R.O.G.s down the drains. This acronym stands for Fats, Rags, Oils, and Grease. Here’s a few more things not to put down your drains; coffee grounds, eggshells, wet wipes, feminine hygiene products, and diapers. The health of your drainage pipes can save you from sewer backup.


September - Prepared, Not Scared

9/5/2019 (Permalink)

Orange and green clouds with droplets of water running down the image and large white text that reads “SERVPRO, NATIONAL PREP Make sure your family is ready for any type of disaster.

A disaster can be scary but this year,’s theme for National Preparedness month is PREPARED, NOT SCARED.

Huge fires, loud thunderstorms, rising waters can all be extremely frightening but being prepared for it can definitely lessen the fear. SERVPRO can clean up materials after a disaster but there are some things that we can never restore, like someone’s life. It’s important that you and your family talk over the possibility of a flood, fire, or extreme weather situation to protect what matters the most.

Here are 7 things you can do to prepare for a Disaster.

  1. Make a savings plan for when a disaster strike.
  2. Review your Insurance Coverage.
  3. Talk to your Insurance agent about Flood Insurance.
  4. Document your personal property.
  5. Create an evacuation plan for your home in case of a disaster and practice it with your family.
  6. Create a family emergency kit that includes contact info, medication, and supplies.
  7. Have an emergency communication plan.

We are available 24/7 for your Emergency Needs! In case of a severe weather disaster in the community, we have a Storm Response Team on standby. If you don’t have a plan, it’s not too late to start.

Visit for more information on how you can prepare for all types of disasters.

How we remove odor with an OZONE GENERATOR?

8/21/2019 (Permalink)

Yellow warning Label with bold text on an overhead door. OZONE GENERATOR IN USE!! Warning Label in our warehouse where we are removing smoke odor from contents that belong to a property in Decorah, IA.

There are some odors that are not easily removed by a DIY method especially if it’s been affected by a terrible storm, water, or fire incident. Even so, cleaning it up yourself might not even be an option due to the quantity of content or a busy life. We are here to help. We can remove tough odors from homes, furniture, cherished memorabilia, jewelry, purses, and even clothes. What is our secret?

What is the secret to removing tough odors?

It’s no secret at all. We remove really tough odors with an OZONE GENERATOR. We have multiple ozone generators currently in our equipment warehouse. An ozone generator is a machine that splits apart oxygen to generate OZONE with electrical charges. Ozone is composed of 3 oxygen molecules, where the third molecule detaches itself and reattaches to other substances like tough odors. This happens naturally during a thunderstorm. The lighting splits oxygen in the air producing ozone which leaves a “fresh” scent. Ozone changes the chemistry of odors. So, in layman’s terms, BYE SMELL-LICIA!!


  1. We take the ozone generator inside unoccupied homes. Most common places are inside a basement that may have experienced sewer backup or extreme mold damage. If a home has experienced fire damage, we will use the ozone generator to eliminate smoke odor.
  2. We use it inside our warehouse to remove odors from a large amount of content. This is especially true when the home or business may be in the reconstruction phase. We have a room with shelves to organize content and poles to hang clothes. We then put our ozone generator inside the room and tightly seal the room. We will always leave a warning sign that the ozone generator is in use and the reentry date/time.

The generator we use is a SERVPRO 771 Ozone generator. It is durable, has a built-in 12-hour timer and can cover up to 120,000 CU/FT. This ozone generator creates a large amount of ozone allowing for fast and efficient treatment.

WARNING! Ozone exposure can be harmful to the body.

Our team is highly trained in Cleaning and Restoration by the IICRC or Institute of Inspection and Restoration Certification in order to use this equipment properly. Such a tool is only beneficial if we are responsible and use it as it is intended. We make sure that the ozone generator is timed off at least 20 minutes before reentry and the room is aired out. If you would like to know more about ozone generators, click HERE.

If you have any questions or concerns about removing odor, please give us a call at 319.268.1521 or send us a message by clicking the chat button located on the bottom right of your screen.