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Alpha Omega Disaster Restoration Small Business Entrepreneur Scholarship

We are very excited to announce this scholarship opportunity to the class of 2017! Two scholarships in the amount of $500.00 will be awarded to business-minded graduating seniors. Please see the attached PDF listed on the bottom of the page to download the application.

A brief overview of the criteria includes:

  1. Be a high school senior attending any of the following schools:

Absarokee                                              Columbus                                Shepherd

Belfry                                                      Fromberg

Billings Central                                     Hardin

Billings Christian                                  Huntley Project

Billings Senior                                       Joliet

Billings Skyview                                    Laurel

Billings West                                          Park City

Bridger                                                    Red Lodge

Broadview                                              Roberts

2. Intend to pursue a degree in Business-related studies

3. Intend to start their own small business

4. Write an essay no more than 1,000 words outlining the business they intend to develop, as well as who/what inspired them to choose that particular venture

5. Complete the attached application (See PDF)

6. Submit 2 letters of recommendation from adults who know you (adults may not be related to you)

7. Submit a current photo

The deadline to apply is April 1st. Please submit scholarships either by:

Email (mail@alphaomegapros.com)

Direct mail (PO Box 1108, Laurel, MT 59044)

Your high school counselor

Good luck! We look forward to your submissions.

Alpha Omega Disaster Restoration Scholarship

Happy Thanksgiving!

Willy & Julie Johnson

ao-group-7-webIt’s Thanksgiving Day! As 2016 draws to a close and we dive into the Holiday season, it is always a great time to pause and look back on the past year. We are so thankful for all the people who have impacted this company, including our wonderful customers, employees, referral sources, and business partners. We could not do it without you all! This year, we are especially thankful for relationships that continue to grow, as well as new relationships that are formed daily. Community is very important to us, and we are extremely grateful to be a part of the Laurel and Billings community. Being able to serve our customers and help rebuild lives is a fantastic perk of our job, and we take the responsibility very seriously. Thank you for trusting us with your homes, businesses, and property.

We hope that everyone has a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving, filled with great food, company, and lots of laughter!

Your local disaster restoration team,

Alpha Omega Disaster Restoration

 

Stop Winter Water Damage to Billings Area Homes Before It Starts

snow roof risks IBHS, disaster restoration billings mt

Water damage to Billings area homes from winter weather can cause significant damage. Even small splits in pipes can create thousands of dollars in damage.

Do you have a winter maintenance checklist?

Following are some practical tips to protect your property before the snow flies.

Preventing Ice Dams

Ice dams are caused when warm air from the attic heats the roof causing snow to melt and then collect on colder unheated eaves. If these dams aren’t removed, water can be forced up the roof, underneath the shingles, where it can cause serious damage.

The best way to prevent an ice dam is to clean, inspect and repair gutters and downspouts around your home. But here are a couple of additional recommendations from The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS).

  1. Properly insulate your attic. Be sure the floor is airtight in order to keep the heat inside your home from being transferred into the attic. Check openings for exhaust pipes, light fixtures, fireplaces. Any openings should be properly sealed, but also make sure vents are not blocked.
  2. Ventilate your attic appropriately. There’s variety of methods for this, such as installing ridge or eave vents.

Allowing cold air in and preventing warm air transfers from below will help prevent, or at least minimize the size of, an ice dam.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

Frozen pipes are one of the leading causes of winter water damage to Billings area homes. The average claim for burst pipes is $10,000 (source Nationwide insurance).

Insulate pipes that are exposed to cold air, making sure that all of the pipe is protected — don’t leave elbows and corners exposed.

Use a water heater blanket to insulate the hot water heater.

If you plan to be away from home for an extended period of time, set the interior temperature high enough to keep pipes warm. Here are some additional tips for reducing the Risk of Water Damage.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

 

Preventing Roof Collapse

Although significant snowfall accumulation is not common in the Richmond metro region, it can and does happen.

Most residential roofs are designed to handle 20 pounds of snow per square foot of space. Following are some guidelines to help determine the weight of snow.

Fresh snow – 10-12 inches of fresh snow is the equivalent of 1 inch of water, or about 5 pounds per square foot of roof space. Assuming no structural damage or decay, your roof should be able to support about 4 feet of new snow.

Packed snow – 3-5 inches is equal to 1 inch of water or approximately 5 pounds per square foot of roof space, therefore any more that 2 feet of old snow may exceed the load capacity of the roof.

Ice – 1 inch of ice equals 1 foot of fresh snow. So 4 inches of ice would be the equivalent of 4 feet of fresh snow.

Here is a handy chart for reference, provided by IBHS:

snow roof risks IBHS, disaster restoration billings mt

 

Following these basic procedures can greatly reduce the risk of damage; however, should you discover water, or any other, damage quick action is imperative. We have trained and certified technicians on call 24/7 ready to respond to emergencies, find out more here.

Mold Remediation 101

Mold Remediation Service Billings MT
Mold Removal Services Billings MT

We provide certified mold remediation for Billings, MT area homes.

Mold becomes a problem inside a home or business when there’s excessive humidity or moisture for an extended period of time. The problem can originate from sudden water releases, like a burst pipe or large spill that goes untreated, or from a chronic condition, such as a leaking roof or plumbing. Even high humidity or warm, moist air condensing on cool surfaces can trigger mold problems.

We recommend several ways prevent mold in homes:

  • No moisture, no mold! Moisture and standing water allow mold to grow. Keep the surfaces and materials dry.
  • Prevention is key. Avoid standing water around house plants as it can lead to mold.
  • Dry carpets immediately. A wet carpet can lead to mold in as little as 24‐48 hours.
  • Use the exhaust fan in the bathroom; it is designed to eliminate moisture.
  • For extensive mold problems, give us a call.

Mold can grow almost anywhere in a home or business. If there is visible growth on painted wall surfaces, property owners should be concerned about what may be growing on the wall’s opposite side. The environment inside the walls of a house often differs drastically from the outside and could create a perfect haven for mold.

If the wall remains wet for a prolonged period, it’s almost guaranteed that the mold growth on the back side will be worse than on the front. At that point, enlist a qualified, certified professional to properly contain the work space and remove moldy materials, followed by cleaning of salvageable framing.

Professionals certified by IICRC have the training and experience to properly:

  • Evaluate mold growth
  • Remove contamination
  • Return the property to its original condition

Have questions about mold concerns? Give us a call at 406-628-0178, or email mail@alphaomegapros.com

Montana Fire Damage Potential

Potential for Wildfire Damage Near Billings and Surrounding Areas Looms Large

According to Mike Rawlins of KXLH Channel 9 concern is growing for a bad fire season under the Big Sky.
But it may not turn out to be as bad as we may think.

When we look at the potential for wildfires, there are several factors we must look at. Here are just a few: mountain snow pack, amount of precipitation, residual soil moisture, summer heat waves and dry thunderstorms.

Some of those are easy to analyze and determine whether or not they’ll aid us or hurt us when it comes to fire season. For example, we know what the soil moisture is like right now and it’s pretty good.

Montana saw ample amounts of rain and snow in 2014, setting us up pretty good for 2015.

It’s spring, so we should see the land turning greener as plants and trees bloom. Most of central Montana is green — great news, meaning we are above average. And this is thanks in part to just how wet it was early on this past winter.

But, western Montana and southwest Montana aren’t looking all that great. A considerable lack of moisture is to blame for the below average greenness in these areas.

So, for north central Montana, things aren’t all that bad as of right now. I am concerned with another factor that could become a huge player later this year… mountain snow pack.

Read the rest of the article here.

Kudos from Ernie K.! Thanks! :)

Alpha Omega Disaster Restoration 5 Star Review Ernie K

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Alpha Omega Disaster Restoration 5-Star Review Toby S.

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Smoke Damage Cleanup for Those Little “Oops!”

kitche fires need smoke damage cleanup

Even small fires may require smoke damage cleanup in other areas of the home.

Accidents, like a kitchen flare-up, can cause smoke damage in Billings, MT homes. If left to linger for any length of time, it can seep into walls, carpeting, and upholstery, leaving a gritty, smelly mess. Not fun!

Here are some DIY smoke damage cleaning tips from Houselogic for those small accidents that don’t require a professional cleanup crew:

Ventilate and vacuum

    • Ventilate the house as quickly as possible to mitigate smoke damage.
    • Throw open doors and windows.
    • Turn off HVAC systems to avoid further spreading smoke.
    • Rent a few industrial fans ($25 for 24 hours) and angle them towards the windows and doors. This will help suck smoky air from the home.
    • Vacuum soot and ash with a shop vac ($30). Hold the nozzle just above the soot and suck it up—pushing down could cause stains.

Deep clean

    • Throw away heavily damaged or heavily smoked items, and start cleaning the house top to bottom.
    • Wipe down all hard surfaces—countertops, appliances, and furniture—with a cleaning cloth.
    • Wash walls and ceilings. Wipe soot away with a dry sponge. Rub away stubborn stains with a vinegar spray. If you need more muscle, use paint thinner (open windows for ventilation).
    • Wash or clean all household items, even light bulbs. Remove bulbs to wash and dry thoroughly, then reinstall.
    • Wash or dry-clean all clothing and drapes.
    • Deodorize carpets and window coverings with odor counteractants such as OdorX 9-D-9 ($68 for 1 gallon) or No Smoke Odor Counteractant ($59 for 32 ounces).
    • Throw away all food that was not sealed in airtight containers.
    • Replace all HVAC filters.

When you need professional smoke damage cleanup

If your home has had extensive smoke damage, before trying to tackle it on your own, check with a professional disaster restoration team. A certified team can often save structures and belongings that you may think are gone for good. Most companies provide free estimates, so it’s worth making a phone call to save as many of your possessions as possible.

DIY Weatherize Your Home for Winter

It’s hard to think about preparing for winter when the weather is so beautiful. But now is the best time to get started, so you’re not caught off guard when the snow flies. Here’s an excellent article from MSN Real Estate that gives 10 ways to get the jump on winter weather.

DIY Weatherize Your Home for Winter

So you’ve pulled your sweaters out of mothballs and found your mittens at the bottom of the coat closet. But what about your house — is it prepared for the cold months ahead?

You’ll be a lot less comfortable in the coming months if you haven’t girded Home Sweet Home for Old Man Winter.

With the help of several experts, we’ve boiled down your autumn to-do list to 10 easy tips:

1. Clean those gutters

Once the leaves fall, remove them and other debris from your home’s gutters — by hand, by scraper or spatula, and finally by a good hose rinse — so that winter’s rain and melting snow can drain. Clogged drains can form ice dams, in which water backs up, freezes and causes water to seep into the house, the Insurance Information Institute says.
As you’re hosing out your gutters, look for leaks and misaligned pipes. Also, make sure the downspouts are carrying water away from the house’s foundation, where it could cause flooding or other water damage.

“The rule of thumb is that water should be at least 10 feet away from the house,” says Michael Broili, the director of the Well Home Program for the Phinney Neighborhood Association, a nationally recognized neighborhood group in Seattle.

2. Block those leaks

One of the best ways to winterize your home is to simply block obvious leaks around your house, both inside and out, experts say. The average American home has leaks that amount to a nine-square-foot hole in the wall, according to EarthWorks Group.

First, find the leaks: On a breezy day, walk around inside holding a lit incense stick to the most common drafty areas: recessed lighting, window and door frames, electrical outlets.

Then, buy door sweeps to close spaces under exterior doors, and caulk or apply tacky rope caulk to those drafty spots, says Danny Lipford, host of the nationally syndicated TV show “Today’s Homeowner.” Outlet gaskets can easily be installed in electrical outlets that share a home’s outer walls, where cold air often enters.

Outside, seal leaks with weather-resistant caulk. For brick areas, use masonry sealer, which will better stand up to freezing and thawing. “Even if it’s a small crack, it’s worth sealing up,” Lipford says. “It also discourages any insects from entering your home.”

3. Insulate yourself

“Another thing that does cost a little money — but boy, you do get the money back quick — is adding insulation to the existing insulation in the attic,” says Lipford. “Regardless of the climate conditions you live in, in the (U.S.) you need a minimum of 12 inches of insulation in your attic.”

Don’t clutter your brain with R-values or measuring tape, though. Here’s Lipford’s rule of thumb on whether you need to add insulation: “If you go into the attic and you can see the ceiling joists you know you don’t have enough, because a ceiling joist is at most 10 or 11 inches.”

A related tip: If you’re layering insulation atop other insulation, don’t use the kind that has “kraft face” finish (i.e., a paper backing). It acts as a vapor barrier, Lipford explains, and therefore can cause moisture problems in the insulation.

4. Check the furnace

First, turn your furnace on now, to make sure it’s even working, before the coldest weather descends. A strong, odd, short-lasting smell is natural when firing up the furnace in the autumn; simply open windows to dissipate it. But if the smell lasts a long time, shut down the furnace and call a professional.

It’s a good idea to have furnaces cleaned and tuned annually. Costs will often run about $100-$125. An inspector should do the following, among other things:

Throughout the winter you should change the furnace filters regularly (check them monthly). A dirty filter impedes air flow, reduces efficiency and could even cause a fire in an extreme case. Toss out the dirty fiberglass filters; reusable electrostatic or electronic filters can be washed.

5. Get your ducts in a row

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a home with central heating can lose up to 60% of its heated air before that air reaches the vents if ductwork is not well-connected and insulated, or if it must travel through unheated spaces. That’s a huge amount of wasted money, not to mention a chilly house. (Check out this audit tool for other ideas on how to save on your energy bills this winter.)

Ducts aren’t always easy to see, but you can often find them exposed in the attic, the basement and crawlspaces. Repair places where pipes are pinched, which impedes flow of heated air to the house, and fix gaps with a metal-backed tape (duct tape actually doesn’t stand up to the job over time).

Ducts also should be vacuumed once every few years, to clean out the abundant dust, animal hair and other gunk that can gather in them and cause respiratory problems.

6. Face your windows

Now, of course, is the time to take down the window screens and put up storm windows, which provide an extra layer of protection and warmth for the home. Storm windows are particularly helpful if you have old, single-pane glass windows. But if you don’t have storm windows, and your windows are leaky or drafty, “They need to be updated to a more efficient window,” says Lipford.

Of course, windows are pricey. Budget to replace them a few at a time, and in the meantime, buy a window insulator kit, Lipford and Broili recommend. Basically, the kit is plastic sheeting that’s affixed to a window’s interior with double-stick tape. A hair dryer is then used to shrink-wrap the sheeting onto the window. (It can be removed in the spring.) “It’s temporary and it’s not pretty, but it’s inexpensive (about $4 a window) and it’s extremely effective,” says Lipford.

7. Don’t forget the chimney

Ideally, spring is the time to think about your chimney, because “chimney sweeps are going crazy right now, as you might have guessed,” says Ashley Eldridge, director of education for the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

That said, don’t put off your chimney needs before using your fireplace, Eldridge advises. “A common myth is that a chimney needs to be swept every year,” says Eldridge. Not true. But a chimney should at least be inspected before use each year, he adds. “I’ve seen tennis balls and ducks in chimneys,” he says.

Ask for a Level 1 inspection, in which the professional examines the readily accessible portions of the chimney, Eldridge says. “Most certified chimney sweeps include a Level 1 service with a sweep,” he adds.

Woodstoves are a different beast, however, cautions Eldridge. They should be swept more than once a year. A general rule of thumb is that a cleaning should be performed for every ¼ inch of creosote, “anywhere that it’s found.” Why? “If it’s ash, then it’s primarily lye — the same stuff that was once used to make soap, and it’s very acidic.” It can cause mortar and the metal damper to rot, Eldridge says.

Another tip: Buy a protective cap for your chimney, with a screen, advises Eldridge. “It’s probably the single easiest protection” because it keeps out foreign objects (birds, tennis balls) as well as rain that can mix with the ash and eat away at the fireplace’s walls. He advises buying based on durability, not appearance.

One other reminder: To keep out cold air, fireplace owners should keep their chimney’s damper closed when the fireplace isn’t in use. And for the same reason, woodstove owners should have glass doors on their stoves, and keep them closed when the stove isn’t in use.

Check out CSIA’S Web site for a list of certified chimney sweeps in your area.

8. Reverse that fan

“Reversing your ceiling fan is a small tip that people don’t often think of,” says Lipford. By reversing its direction from the summer operation, the fan will push warm air downward and force it to recirculate, keeping you more comfortable. (Here’s how you know the fan is ready for winter: As you look up, the blades should be turning clockwise, says Lipford.)

9. Wrap those pipes

A burst pipe caused by a winter freeze is a nightmare. Prevent it before Jack Frost sets his grip: Before freezing nights hit, make certain that the water to your hose bibs is shut off inside your house (via a turnoff valve), and that the lines are drained, says Broili. In climes such as Portland, Ore., or Seattle, where freezing nights aren’t commonplace, you can install Styrofoam cups with a screw attachment to help insulate spigots, says Broili.

Next, go looking for other pipes that aren’t insulated, or that pass through unheated spaces — pipes that run through crawlspaces, basements or garages. Wrap them with pre-molded foam rubber sleeves or fiberglass insulation, available at hardware stores. If you’re really worried about a pipe freezing, you can first wrap it with heating tape, which is basically an electrical cord that emits heat.

10. Finally, check those alarms

This is a great time to check the operation — and change the batteries — on your home’s smoke detectors. Detectors should be replaced every 10 years, fire officials say. Test them — older ones in particular — with a small bit of actual smoke, and not just by pressing the “test” button. Check to see that your fire extinguisher is still where it should be, and still works.

Also, invest in a carbon-monoxide detector; every home should have at least one.