log cabin summer home in the woods and mountains

It’s the time of year again where the days grow shorter, the temperatures get lower, and snowbirds move away from their summer homes and back into their winter homes. Leaving your summer home can be bittersweet, but making sure it’s closed up tightly for winter will ensure that your home stays safely vacant through the winter months until you return next year. 

To properly seal up your home before you leave for the season, follow these safety checklists.

Water Damage Prevention

  1. Gutter and downspout cleaning. This prevents sticks, leaves, and other debris from building up during fall and to allow melting snow and ice to flow through during winter. If not draining properly, melting snow can freeze up and turn into ice dams, damaging your roof, and cause winter water damage and structural damage inside your home. 
  2. Turn off water to the house. By shutting off the main water shut off valve, you will prevent water from sitting in your pipes, freezing, and potentially bursting and causing water damage. Turning off your water includes draining your toilets and opening up your faucets. Also make sure all outside water is off, including sprinkler systems. Disconnect all hoses from outside faucets. Accidentally leaving any of these outdoor water systems on can cause water to settle down into the ground and seep into your home through the foundation. 
  3. Check sump pump valve. Test your sump pump to make sure it’s working just in case there’s a natural disaster or severe weather and the pump needs to push water away from your home. 
  4. Turn on the heat. Even though you won’t be in the house, you will need to set the thermostat to heat starting at 55 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent burst pipes and other common causes of water damage. 
  5. Weatherproofing windows. Is your summer home is in an area that can get particularly cold during the winter? Then, it might be a good idea to seal up your windows. This is especially recommended for old houses or homes with single pane window that aren’t as great keeping the cold out and the heat in; or more importantly, not great at keeping the outside elements outside, like rain and snow. You can re-caulk any gaps or cracks around each window, and use window insulator kits to seal up the panes. 

Fire Damage Prevention

  1. Replace the filter in your furnace. A gunked up filter could be a fire hazard. It’s important to replace this prior to leaving for the winter, especially since you need to leave your heat on. 
  2. Turn off and unplug everything. From the appliances in the kitchen to the television in the bedroom…unplug everything before you leave. This will ensure there are no electrical-related incidents, like appliances shortages and fires. 
  3. Close up fireplace. Make sure the flue or damper in your fireplace is closed up tightly . This will prevent snow or critters from coming through into your house. 
  4. Turn off gas line. By turning off the gas line shut off valve, you are preventing gas leaks, explosions, and fires. 

House Break-In Prevention

  1. Lock up house. Make sure your windows and doors are all locked and secure. Have a security alarm installed and arm it before you leave. Store and lock up all of your outdoor furniture and equipment. 
  2. Tell your neighbors. Let your neighbors know when you are leaving and when you plan to return to your summer home. Neighbors who stay in the area year-round are great resources to help keep an eye on your home while you’re away. 

Has Your Vacation Home Suffered Water Damage or Fire Damage? 

Contact Alpha-Omega Disaster Restoration. At Alpha Omega, we have a trained, certified, and licensed emergency response team available 24/7 to assess your situation, make a plan, and work directly with your insurance company, as well as your tenant’s. We want to restore your rental property as quickly and safely as possible, to get your tenants back into their home. 

Alpha-Omega Pros is a fully certified professional restoration company serving Billings, MT and the surrounding areas. 

Contact Alpha Omega Disaster Restoration today 406-628-0178 for emergency property damage cleanup and restoration services by Alpha Omega Disaster Restoration of Billings and Laurel, Montana

exterior of school facility with trees and grass

At the beginning of the school year, the building opens for hundreds of students and staff ready to join the new year. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and wonder where to start with maintenance when playing catch up from the summer. 

Instead of waiting until the doors open, maintenance and facility staff can begin their work in the summer – and get a jump start on things that didn’t get finished the year before. Here is a back-to-school checklist of things to work on and inspect before the bell rings in September. 

5 Areas to Assess for School Maintenance

  1. Check the HVAC Systems.
    • Is the heating and ventilation system ready to go? Cold weather is around the corner, and the heating unit needs to be working properly and at peak performance. Check the boiler for leaks, corrosion or rust, and create a weekly, monthly, and yearly schedule for regular maintenance
    • Look at fans and vents for loose nuts and bolts, and listen for any strange sounds that may indicate loose parts. Make sure exhaust fans for proper airflow. 
    • Replace the filters with new, clean filters. Clean filters not only provide clean airflow, but will also increase efficiency of the HVAC unit.
  2. Check the alarm systems. 
    • Safety of students and staff is the most important job of any person in the school. A yearly check of alarm and safety systems is necessary. Make sure to properly document all testing and results. 
    • Test fire alarms including smoke detectors. Replace batteries and light bulbs if necessary. If possible, contact your local fire department to complete testing.
    • Make sure all extinguishers are filled and in proper working order. Take inventory of the units and make sure they are all tagged appropriately with the date they were last serviced. 
    • Test emergency exit lights and replace any bulbs if needed. 
  3. Look at the plumbing.
    • Check the buildings plumbing before students and staff arrive. It’s been sitting unused for the majority of the summer.
    • Check water heaters. Look at gauges and verify water temperatures are not too hot. 
    • Make sure all heaters are in good working order with no leaks. 
    • Test showers in locker rooms, sinks, and all toilets. If they’ve been unused for months, it is vital to test before slews of students begin using the pipes on a regular basis. 
  4. Check the cafeteria.
    • Check the stoves and gas/electric lines for leaks. Make sure everything is working properly and call in a professional if needed.
    • Check fridges and freezers for proper temperatures. Make sure that doors and hinges close securely. 
  5. Inspect the roof for any loose shingles or holes and call in a professional if necessary to repair the issues.

Need a Quick Fix?

If you notice damage due to water or areas that need repairing, let us know. At Alpha Omega Disaster Restoration, we have a team devoted to commercial restoration. Call us today for a free walk through and see how we can help get your school ready for the return of students, staff, and faculty. 

Contact Alpha Omega Disaster Restoration today 406-628-0178 for emergency property damage cleanup and restoration services by Alpha Omega Disaster Restoration of Billings and Laurel, Montana

fire sprinkler system on ceiling of office building

Fire safety is vital to protect your business, employees, and customers. A fire protection sprinkler system is a reliable method to extinguish a fire at your commercial property, save lives and lessen property loss. According to the Congressional Office of Compliance, fire sprinkler systems reduce the risk of a person dying in a fire by 75%. 

On top of putting out fires, fire protection systems can also save you money on your insurance or taxes for having the extra physical protection on your property. But as beneficial as they are, if your fire sprinkler system is not up to date, working properly, or regularly maintained there are no guarantees that it will work when you need it to.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) created the NFPA25, which is “the baseline for inspection, testing, and maintenance of water-based fire protection systems.” By following this checklist, you can conduct routine maintenance and safety inspections on your business’s sprinkler system to keep it in working order. You will also know if it’s time to upgrade your system to a newer one. If you’re unsure of where things are in your system, you can refer to this guide.

Monthly Inspection Fire Sprinkler System Checklist

  1. Check the control valves. During your monthly inspections, you should first focus on the valves. They should each be in their normal open or closed positions, properly sealed and locked, accessible, free from any visible leaks, not damaged, and labeled appropriately. 
  2. Check the gauges. It’s also important at this time to inspect the gauges. If you have a dry system, there are three things you need to check: See that the gauge on the supply side of the dry pipe valve shows a normal supply water pressure, confirm the gauge on the quick-opening device has the same pressure that’s shown as on the dry pipe valve, finally check the gauges that are on systems with low air or nitrogen pressure alarms. If you have a wet system, make sure your gauges are in good working condition and that normal water pressure is being maintained. 

Quarterly Inspection Fire Sprinkler System Checklist

  1. Inspect the alarm devices. Check that these devices don’t have any visible damage. Then test the water flow alarm by opening the test connection on a wet pipe system and the bypass connection on a dry pipe system.
  2. Secure the hydraulic nameplate. Make sure this is attached to the sprinkler riser and can be clearly read. 
  3. Check your fire department connections. Ensure they are visible and not damaged. Check that the fire department valves and gauges are in good repair and not leaking.

Annual Inspection Fire Sprinkler System Checklist

The NFPA requires your annual fire sprinkler system inspection be completed by a professional technician. A certified professional can ensure that your building is safe and up to code. During this inspection, the technician will complete everything on the monthly and quarterly inspections. They will also: 

1. Inspect all of your sprinkler heads. This will include the pipes and fittings. 

2. Check the interior dry valve pipes. They’ll check that the pipes are free of physical damage, that the trim valves are in the appropriate open and closed positions, and that the intermediate chamber is not leaking.  

3. Test the main drain flow. This checks the conditions of the water supplied to the sprinkler system from the pressure reducing valve.  

If you conduct this checklist and see broken gauges and valves, proper water pressure is not being supplied to the system, or if your pipes aren’t fitting properly or leaking, it might be time to upgrade your system. Although costly up front, it’ll save money in the long run, by keeping your business up to code. And should your commercial property ever have a fire, a sprinkler system will limit property losses and saving lives. 

Need Fire Damage Restoration Services? 

Contact Alpha-Omega Disaster Restoration. We provide emergency fire damage and water damage services. Our certified and trained technicians are available 24/7 to help assess the situation and mitigate the damage from the fire, smoke, soot, and water used to put the fire out. At Alpha Omega, our technicians will work directly with your insurance company. We want to restore your business as quickly and safely as possible. 

Alpha-Omega Pros is a fully certified professional restoration company serving Billings, MT and the surrounding areas.

Contact Alpha Omega Disaster Restoration today 406-628-0178 for emergency property damage cleanup and restoration services by Alpha Omega Disaster Restoration of Billings and Laurel, Montana

exterior of commercial building experiencing a workplace fire with fire and smoke coming out of building, fire truck and firemen putting out the fire

Fires at your business property can be devastating to you, employees, and the company’s bottom line. The good news is that most fires are preventable. Knowing the most common causes workplace fires will allow you to educate your employees. This will keep your building secure and safe from workplace fires. Read more