The Importance of Storm “Four” Knowledge


Throughout life, there are many things you plan for. You try to structure your education so you’ll have a fulfilling and well-paying job. You may plan for a vacation weeks or even months ahead. Maybe you designed the type of home you wanted, gathering blueprints, getting contractors lined up, choosing color swatches, etc.

But unfortunately, many of us don’t plan for disasters, natural or man-made. When they happen, people may say things like, “But I never saw it coming,” and “We didn’t have time to react.” Well, the time for action is long before a tragedy befalls you or your property!

The Chicagoland area is susceptible to a variety of storms – everything from blizzards to floods to tornados. So, what can you do? According to FEMA, there are four main ways to prepare for storms that you can and should undertake NOW:

Four Main Ways to Prepare For a Storm

1. Get Informed – Chicago has an emergency management office and a Red Cross Chapter. These organizations provide vital information concerning local emergency response arrangements, evacuation plans and emergency shelters. It’s also a good idea to invest in a NOAA Weather Radio that will alert you during any time of the day or night when possible destructive conditions materialize.

2. Make a Plan

  • Conduct a family meeting that will inform everyone what your emergency plans are.
  • Have an out-of-town contact that each one knows the number to. This is who you’ll call to inform where you are after a disaster strikes.
  • Teach your children how and when to call emergency numbers.
  • Have a prearranged location picked out as the place your family will meet in case you get separated from one another. Make sure everyone knows not only the best escape routes but the safe places to go inside your home if a tornado approaches.
  • Know how and when to turn off water, gas and electricity at the main switches or valves.
  • Have fire extinguishers ready and show everyone where they’re located and how to use them.
  • Inventory your possessions and keep that list along with important documents in a safe deposit box.
  • Keep your homeowners or renter’s insurance company’s telephone numbers readily available. (Also, be sure to keep ServiceMaster Disaster Restoration By Simons phone number close at hand!

3. Assemble a Kit – this is a collection of basic family needs you’ll need after a disaster. These should be stored in a portable container and enough to last you three days. It should include food, water, a battery powered radio, a flashlight, etc. You can find a full list of items for your survival kit at

4. Maintain Your Plan – every six months, review your plans with your family, conduct evacuation drills and restock expiring food and perishables in your kit. Also, confirm your fire extinguisher is recharged and smoke alarm batteries are replaced.


Alan Lakein, an author on personal time management, once wrote, “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” That’s very empowering when you think about it. It’s almost like time traveling without a DeLorean or having to mess with all that space-time continuum stuff. Planning ahead for emergencies can also bring you great peace of mind. Think of it as an insurance policy against future disasters without the pesky premiums.

If your Chicagoland home or business has been damaged by ANY type of storm or disaster, be sure to contact ServiceMaster Disaster Restoration By Simons immediately. They’re the trusted name that will return your property back to pre-loss conditions – FAST!


About ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons:

ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons, is a 2020 recipient of the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, and recipient of the 2020 Skokie Business of the Year Award, Honorable Mention Category. ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons (MBE/WBE) is a family operated, IICRC & OSHA Certified company serving Chicago, Oak Park, River Forest, and the North Shore. We provide commercial disaster restoration services including Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration, Mold Remediation and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including COVID-19 Cleaning Services, Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning, Post-Construction Cleaning, Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers. For more information, call 773-376-1110 or visit or

ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons’ Ultimate Guide to Frozen and Burst Pipes

Man, has it been cold outside recently. With temperatures dropping well below zero in the past few weeks, residents in the Chicagoland area are facing major threats to home safety with frozen and burst pipes. When temperatures fall below zero degrees, pipes are incredibly vulnerable and cause incredible home damage. Since they can quickly turn into a very expensive problem for homeowners, the professionals at ServiceMaster Restoration by Simons have created this guide to give you a crash course in Pipe Freezing 101. Read on to learn how to prevent pipes from freezing, how to thaw pipes if they do freeze, and what to do if frozen pipes end up bursting and causing vast water damage to your home.


Frozen & Burst Pipe Damage Restoration-Burst Or leaking pipes-ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons Chicago

Frozen & Burst Pipe Damage Restoration – Guide To Frozen & Burst Pipes – ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons Chicago


Chicagoland Is a Climate Zone 5b where minimum temperatures range from -10 to -15° F.  You need to be concerned about pipe freezes.


Man, has it been cold outside recently? With temperatures dropping well below zero recently, residents in the Chicagoland area are facing significant threats to home safety with frozen and burst pipes. When temperatures fall below zero degrees, pipes are incredibly vulnerable and cause incredible home damage. Since they can quickly turn into a very expensive problem for homeowners, the professionals at ServiceMaster Restoration by Simons have created this guide to give you a crash course in Pipe Freezing 101. Read on to learn how to prevent pipes from freezing, how to thaw pipes if they do freeze, and what to do if frozen pipes end up bursting and causing vast water damage to your home.  But if you already have a frozen & burst pipe, stop reading and call us for Frozen & Burst Pipe Damage Restoration


How to Prevent Pipes from Freezing


While you might think that Chicagoland homes would be built to withstand the cold, many do a poor job surviving the winter without significant damage. Within homes, there are areas where pipes are more likely to incur damage due to freezing temperatures. Some of these places include:


  • Outdoor areas (hose bibs, water lines to irrigation systems, wells or pools)
  • Unheated areas (garage, attic, crawl space or basement)
  • Cabinets, where pipes cannot get enough heat when cabinet doors are closed (under the kitchen or bathroom sink)
  • Uninsulated exterior walls


Once you’ve determined what pipes may be susceptible to freezing, you will want to take action to protect those pipes when temperatures plummet:


  • Open cabinets. This allows the warm air to circulate around pipes.
  • If there are pipes in the attic, open the door to allow warm air to move upwards
  • Let water trickle from faucets. The constantly flowing water will prevent pipes from freezing. The small amount of water you waste is much less than the cost of a plumbing repair or the amount of water that will escape if a pipe bursts.


These tips may get you through a handful of cold nights, but in general, we recommend preemptively insulating pipes during your home winterizing process.


How to Insulate Pipes


Insulating pipes is by far the best way to prevent pipes from freezing. Here’s how:


After you’ve identified what pipes need insulation, visit the hardware store and pick up your insulating material of choice. You can use:


  • Tubular sleeve insulation
  • Fiberglass insulation
  • Duct tape
  • Foil insulation tape
  • Heating blanket tape
  • In a pinch, use newspaper and duct tape


Prepare the pipes. A simple wipe down with soapy water will do the trick.


Wrap the pipes with the material you’ve chosen. Be sure to cover all exposed surfaces. Secure the edges and corners with duct tape. If you use fiberglass insulation, wrap the insulation with sheets of plastic or duct tape as well.


Other Ways to Prevent Pipe Freezing


If you have pipes in your crawl space, you may want to:


  • Insulate the outer walls of your crawl space with foam board
  • Close the vents (just during the freeze; crawl spaces need to breathe)
  • Run a very low-temp space heater on the lowest setting in the crawl space (away from all flammable materials)


If you have a well, you can:


  • Insulate the exposed pipes
  • Install a low-watt heat lamp designed for this purpose
  • Cover the well to keep heat inside and cold out (look for fiberglass rocks or well covers at the hardware store)


If you have an irrigation system or pool/pond lines, you should:


  • Drain the lines
  • Use the blow-out-method to remove the remaining water from the lines


If you don’t have time to insulate pipes, and you want to prevent Frozen & Burst Pipe Damage Restoration, consider using heat tape, a heat lamp or a low-watt bulb to heat the space where the pipes are located, but be mindful of fire hazards and install with care. Never use a blow torch or a heat gun when thawing pipes, and exercise care when using a heat lamp.


How to Tell If Your Pipes Are Frozen


Sometimes, you won’t be able to protect your pipes until it is too late, and other times, pipes will freeze even despite your best efforts. If you suspect your pipes are frozen, you’ll need to take action right away. But how do you know for sure? Here are four major tip-offs:


  • You don’t have any running water, or you turn on the water and only a trickle comes out of the faucet
  • You notice frost or condensation on your pipes
  • Pipes feel frozen to the touch
  • The pipe is visibly cracked or split in a place you never noticed before.


Once you’ve confirmed a pipe is frozen, you’ll need to figure out where the frozen section is located. Oftentimes, an entire pipe won’t freeze – instead, just a section of a pipe will freeze ranging from a few inches to one foot. Since pipes with greater exposure are more likely to freeze, first check under the sinks, in the crawl space or basement, in the attic, along the main pipeline to and from your yard, and any other exterior pipes.


If one faucet is fine and another in a different room on the same floor isn’t, the pipe is frozen somewhere between the mainline and that room’s piping. If the faucets work on one floor but not another, the frozen pipe is located where the floors separate. If no faucets work, a section of the pipe near the main water line may be frozen.


Can’t find the cold section of pipe? It’s probably hidden in the wall or yard. Outdoor water lines can be trickier to catch because you probably don’t use the pipes leading to a pool or hot tub, irrigation systems or outdoor hoses during the winter. Inspect outdoor lines once in a while if temps stay low.


How to Thaw Frozen Pipes


Once you’ve found the section that’s frozen, you’ll need to carefully thaw the pipe without causing it to burst. Try the following:


  • Aim a hair dryer on low or medium (not high) heat at the section of pipe
  • Run a space heater on low—but be careful not to place it too close to the pipe
  • Wrap the pipe with towels dipped in warm water (you’ll need to replace them periodically)
  • Wrap the pipe with a heating pad on low or medium (not high)


Every once in a while, try running the faucet to see if you’ve been successful. When water is flowing once again, take steps (see above) to prevent the pipe from freezing again.


How to Tell if a Frozen Pipe Has Cracked


The danger of frozen pipes is cracking and bursting. Water expands when frozen, and pipes may crack under the pressure of the expansion.


Other signs of a leak include:


  • A heavy flow of water, puddles on the floor and/or obvious water damage in the home
  • The sound of rushing water inside your wall or floor
  • Hot or cold spots inside the wall or floor
  • Water stains on the wall or ceiling


Unfortunately, a lot of cracked pipes happen in hidden places where you can’t see evidence of the leak. After thawing your pipes, you will want to keep an eye on your water bill. If you see a water bill spike, there’s a very good chance you’ve got a hidden leak. A restoration professional will use leak detection equipment to locate the leak.


What to Do If You Have a Burst Pipe


When frozen pipes burst, you have an urgent and costly emergency on your hands. You’ll need to spring into action quickly after you notice a burst pipe in your home. Your priorities are first, to stop and/or minimize the potential water damage and then, to facilitate clean up. Here are three things we recommend doing immediately after a pipe burst:


  1. Shut off your main water valve and, if necessary your electricity
  2. Call a restoration company and plumber immediately
  3. Start removing water as best you can with towels to mitigate the growth and spread of mold or mildew
  4. Call ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons for emergency Frozen & Burst Pipe Damage Restoration


ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons is an MBE/WBE certified firm and family-run company serving Chicago, Oak Park, River Forest.  ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons provides disaster restoration services including Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration, Mold Remediation and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning, Post-Construction Cleaning, Carpet Cleaning, and Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers. ServiceMaster Cleaning By Simons provides Specialty Cleaning Services For Chicago, Oak Park-River Forest, and the North Shore.  For more information, give us a call at 773-376-1110 or visit




How to Winterize Your Home

Winterizing your home is a confusing, yet necessary thing you must do to prepare for inclement weather. The professionals at ServiceMaster Restoration by Simons are here to help you understand what steps you should take.

winterize your home this season to prepare for inclement weather

Fall has officially started in Chicagoland, bringing shorter days and colder weather. And while the leaves are changing colors and summer cookouts have turned into afternoons of apple picking, this also means that lower temperatures and inclement weather are on their way. As hard as it can be to face, it’s time to start preparing for the winter and winterize your home. 

When it comes to emergency preparedness, Chicago families should prioritize staying one step ahead of inclement weather by ensuring their homes are ready for winter as soon as possible. While it might not feel “cold enough” yet (something we hear all the time from customers!), it’s important to complete repairs and winterization measures that will increase the comfort of your family before the weather gets too cold, windy and snowy to get them done. Plus, winterizing your home now could save you money on your heating bills when the temperatures become frigid. 

We understand that homeowners may want to winterize their home, but find it confusing. It’s a topic we often get questions about, usually in the form of “What should I do to winterize my home?” The good news is, the professionals here at ServiceMaster Restoration by Simons have seen it all — and when it comes to winterizing, we understand what works, what doesn’t work, the must-do’s and the nice-to-do’s. Here are our top 10 hacks to winterizing your home to increase comfort and save more money: 

Close up your fireplace: Before snow accumulates on the roof, check to see that your fireplace flue fully closes. You shouldn’t be able to feel any cool air blowing in when the flue is closed. If it can’t fully close, make sure you complete necessary repairs before the winter — or try installing glass doors around your fireplace to keep unwanted cold air out. 

Replace weatherstripping around doors: Weatherstripping is worn down every year by inclement weather. Check that you cannot see any light coming in at the bottom, sides or top of doors that lead outside. If you can see light, you need to replace the weatherstripping — which is quite easy and affordable compared to the cost of your heating bill if hot air is escaping around your doors. 

Invest in heavier drapes and rugs: Replacing light summer drapes and rugs for heavier alternatives is a good way to increase the insulation on your floors and windows. Opting for something heavier will keep the heat in a contained space better, negating the need for a blasting heater all the time.

Get an energy audit: Many utilities companies will provide customers with free basic energy audits to identify where hot air is leaking from their home. They can also suggest improvements that will increase energy efficiency in the colder months. 

Identify areas where insulation can be improved: Check your attic and crawl spaces for insulation deterioration (this is normal, natural and common). Make sure you add more insulation material before the cold hits if you notice any deterioration to properly winterize your home. 

Install a programmable thermostat: Save money on your heating bill by investing in a newer, programmable thermostat that can automatically set the temperature lower when your family is not home. 

Lower your water heater temperature: You can save money on hot water by lowering the water heater baseline temperature with little effect on your hot water supply. Most water heaters are set much higher than the recommended 120 degrees fahrenheit. Check to see if yours is — and if so, drop the temperature settings to 120 degrees and save money and energy with no negative impacts on your hot water. 

Cover your water heater: You may be losing money on the heat escaping from your hot water tank. Try buying a water heating blanket from your local hardware store and covering the tank with it to keep the heat in. 

Change furnace filters: When your filters are dirty, your furnace has to work harder. Experts recommend that homeowners change their filters monthly when the furnace is in use. 

Add caulking around windows: If the area around your windows has cracks, cold air can easily enter the home, while warm air can easily escape. Take some time this fall to check for cracks, and patch or replace the caulking if necessary.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about completing any of the above guidelines, our professionals are standing by to help. We know it’s not necessarily fun to think about the arrival of inclement weather, but a little bit of diligent preparation now can save you time, energy and stress later on. By following our top ten actionable recommendations to winterize your home this fall, you’ll increase your family’s comfort and save money on your heating bills this winter. 

ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons is a MBE/WBE certified firm and family-run company serving Chicago, Oak Park, River Forest, and the North Shore.  ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons provides disaster restoration services including Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration, Mold Remediation and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning, Post-Construction Cleaning,Carpet Cleaning and Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers residing in Chicago, Oak Park-River Forest and the North Shore.  For more information, give us a call at 773-376-1110 or visit


Commercial Water Damage: What do I do if a pipe bursts at my business?

During the Polar Vortex at the beginning of this year, many Chicagoland business owners experienced pipe bursts at their properties due to the plunging sub-zero temperatures across the state and the rapid warm-up that followed. Water damage in office buildings, churches, schools, multi-family residential buildings and homes caused by burst pipes is an enormous inconvenience and hazard to property managers, homeowners, and landlords alike.

10 Ways to Winterize Your Home This Fall

Fall has come and gone — and it’s time to start thinking about how you can better help your home withstand the tough winter ahead. Prepping for the winter is never easy, but with these few quick tips from the professionals at ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons, you can move on to making your hot cocoa and gingerbread houses with no worries at all!