What to do After a Sewage Backup in your Home

Ah crap! No really, ah crap! What do you do when you find that sewage has backed up into your house? A sewage back-up can be caused by a toilet overflow, a clogged pipe, a frozen pipe, or a septic backup. A small sewage backup is usually confined to the bathroom or kitchen and can be managed to take care of on your own. Let’s get down and dirty on how to clean up this mess.


A sewage backup into your home needs to be taken care of right away. Nobody wants to live with that anyway; the flush option was invented for a reason. The flooded area must be thoroughly cleaned to reduce the risk of disease. Before you begin cleaning, put on protective clothing such as rubber gloves, waterproof shoes, and safety goggles, because the waste water is very harmful to you. If there is a considerable amount of water and it is covering an outlet or electrical cords, there is potential that the waste water could be charged. You should have the utility company shut off your gas and electricity immediately to prevent electrical shock and explosion. Now you are ready to get a little dirty.

For a substantial amount of water, it will need to be pumped out. Otherwise, a wastewater mop, wet vac, or squeegee can be used. If necessary, shovel out solid waste into heavy plastic garbage bags first. Open your doors and windows and turn on fans and dehumidifiers to dry out area and circulate clean air. Mop and scrub affected surfaces with an EPA registered disinfectant and hot water. The hotter the water is that’s used to clean the more bacteria and germs it will kill, so use water as hot as you safely can. If an area such as your basement or utility room floods, the concrete should be cleaned, disinfected, and dried as well. Concrete doesn’t soak up as much as wood or drywall would but will absorb a little bit of the moisture, and this kind of water you don’t want to linger around. Additionally, wooden wall studs and window sills probably won’t need to be replaced if they are cleaned, disinfected, and dried properly.


So what do you keep and what do you throw? What can be salvaged after a sewage backup depends on the extent of exposure to sewage water and ability to be adequately disinfected and dried thoroughly? Carpeting or large rugs with a foam back will probably have to be discarded and replaced. If only a small portion were affected, it might be salvaged by a professional cleaning company. But surfaces such as hardwood floors, tile, or linoleum are easily cleaned using disinfectants. All potentially contaminated food items, cosmetics, stuffed animals, baby toys, and mattresses should be discarded. Your soiled clothing or rugs should be washed thoroughly with hot water and bleach if possible. All of your discarded items should be sealed in a heavy plastic garbage bag, and it is even a good idea to notify your garbage collection company of the bag contents.

Don’t be alarmed if you find a sewage backup in your home you are now more knowledgeable to handle it, but if the thought of getting your hands dirty in this case doesn’t appeal to you, professional help is always there.


Why Pipes Freeze and Break in Winter

It’s inevitable, the cold hits hard every winter and sometimes, despite all efforts, the cold wins and something breaks or bursts. Your pipes can take a beating in the winter. Prevent and protect your pipes from freezing and breaking, so a spring flood doesn’t hit you early. Your water pipes are at risk for freezing anytime it is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. As the water in the pipes freezes, it expands and your pipe doesn’t expand with it, causing it to rupture.

Some pipes that are vulnerable in your house are any pipes exposed to severe cold. This would include water sprinkler lines, outdoor house bibs, or water supply lines in unheated areas. Some areas to watch out for vulnerable pipes would be in basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages, kitchen cabinets, or pipes running against outside walls with little insulation.

Some tips to prevent your pipes from freezing and breaking include keeping your garage doors closed as much as possible. It is also important to drain any remaining water from your water sprinkler lines before winter and don’t put antifreeze in these lines unless you are specifically directed to. Next, disconnect and drain outdoor hoses and store them inside to prevent them from cracking. After you do that, leave the hose valve open so water can drain and the remaining water will have room to expand as it freezes and won’t break the pipe. Another way to protect your pipes is to keep your thermostat set at a constant temperature during the night and day. If you’re a snowbird leaving for the winter, don’t turn your heat completely off. The lowest you should ever set your thermostat is 55 degrees.

There are a few signs to watch out for so you can be proactive before your pipes burst. One sign is very low water pressure. Low water pressure could also indicate a clog in the pipe, but usually clogs grow, so the decreasing pressure is something you would notice over time.  A likely spot for your pipes to freeze is in an exterior wall or where your water supply enters the home, usually through the foundation. If you can locate the pipe that is starting to freeze, wrap an electric heating pad or blanket around a frozen pipe, use a hair dryer, or a portable space heater. When you’re heating up the pipe leave the faucet open because all that frozen water will need to go somewhere.

All in all, a burst pipe could be around $5,000 in damages, if you’re lucky. The best way out of everything is to use insulation in your attic, basement, crawlspace, garage, anywhere a pipe runs! Pipe insulation can cost as little as 50 cents per linear foot. That 50 cents looks much better than $5,000 does. Take care of your pipes beginning in the fall and make sure to keep an eye on them until May, we all know how Minnesota winters go.

If you run into any of these problems first-hand, contact Royal Renovations and we’ll be on our way to restore your pipes to their intended condition, ensuring your house doesn’t freeze during this Minnesota winter.

How to Prepare for a Fire | Fire Escape Plan

Fire is dangerous. That is why it is important to have a good understanding of fire safety. Don’t get into the mindset that a fire could never happen in your home, instead be precautious and come up with a family fire escape plan. Call the family together and sit down for your first family fire meeting.

One of the first and most important things to go over is your family’s emergency contact numbers and home address. It is always helpful to have mom and dad’s cell phone numbers memorized for any type of emergency, not just a house fire. Go over calling 911 and the questions that emergency personnel will be asking: type of emergency, name, age, address, etc. In the case of a house fire never call 911 from inside the house. Your first priority is to get out of the house. Choose a family meeting place a safe distance from the house such as the neighbor’s house, the mailbox, a light post, or a street sign. Once you have reached your safe spot outside of the home then call 911.

Next step is to put your plan into action. Walk through the house as a family to point out the possible exits in each room and the locations of the smoke alarms. While walking through practice opening doors and windows to make sure they operate smoothly. Next, run through a family fire drill during the day and during the night. Make sure your family is aware it is a drill to prevent anyone from being scared or taking unnecessary measures.

Finally, talk about extra precautions to take during the event of a house fire. As you are following our family’s fire escape plan, there are a few things to keep in mind. If you are escaping through an area that is very smoky, stay low and pull your shirt over your mouth to protect yourself from getting smoke into your lungs. Try to close as many doors behind you as possible. A closed door will slow down the spread of heat, smoke, and fire. If you are trying to exit a room and the door is closed, check to see if the fire is close to the other side of the door by putting the backside of your hand close to the door handle. If the handle is hot don’t open the door, instead escape through another door or window. Lastly, it is so important to know never ever, ever go back into a burning house!

Take the time to prepare your family for a house fire. It doesn’t hurt to be too cautious and your kids are never too young to start learning your family’s escape plan. Our family of staff at Royal Renovations has a plan to help clean up after a fire, but we need you and your family to have a plan for your safety.


Click here for a Family Fire Escape Plan Checklist




Importance of Fire Inspections

While it may be cold outside, things can still heat up inside as fires affect thousands of homes each winter resulting in property damage and loss. The importance of ensuring fire inspections are conducted cannot be emphasized enough for the most effective way of avoiding damage by fire is to prevent the fire. Here are some reasons on why you should be having an inspection done at least two times a year.

Fire inspections help identify any potential problems that lead to fire hazards. This way they can be corrected and people can be educated on how to identify them and how to respond. Sometimes property owners don’t think this as part of maintenance but regular fire inspections help ensure that the house is as safe as can be.


Residents of your community can benefit from a home fire safety inspection program. Home inspections provide an opportunity to inspect for fire safety issues in the home, provide measures to improve the safety of residents and increase fire safety and awareness outreach.


Here are some steps to take when inspecting your home for fire hazards.

  • Look at the exterior of your home for potential hazards such as obstructions to fire escapes, combustible liquids like gas, and overgrown vegetation obstructing windows or exits.
  • Inspect the main door, ensuring it opens and closes easily. Deadbolts are great for security but make it hard to leave in a hurry; consider changing the lock system.
  • Locate all of the smoke detectors inside your home. Start in the basement and work your way up ensuring there’s one in every room.
  • Take any present detector down and check for a date. If it’s older than 10 years, the unit should be replaced. Also, check to see if it’s working and change batteries if you haven’t done so within the last 6 months.
  • Draw up a fire escape plan and practice it; know two ways out of every room and practice the plan twice a year.
  • Make sure windows easily open. If the window’s sash can be removed, practice and show all members of your family how to open windows properly.
  • Locate fire extinguishers in your home. If there are none, purchase and place one on every floor in your house.
  • Inspect electrical outlets, power cords, and surge protectors making sure they are not overloaded and are being used for their intended purpose.
  • Inspect the areas around appliances that produce heat such as the stove, furnace, hot-water heater, fireplace, space heater, wood stove, and any other heat producing device. Make sure that the area around the appliances is free of combustibles. Have all fuel-burning appliances inspected, cleaned, and maintained by a licensed professional on a regular basis.


Royal Renovations can handle every aspect of the restoration process whether the fire damage was small or large. We’re here to help you.

Top Causes of Basement Flooding

It doesn’t matter if your basement is a simple storage area or a top-of-the-line entertainment room. All basements are subject to the same problems because of their location is at or below ground level, and below the water table. No one wants to have water seeping into their home, causing mold and rot, warped wood, and expensive basement crack repair. Unfortunately, this can happen for a variety of different reasons, no matter the type of foundation you have or the condition of your home.

When you experience a flooded basement for the first time, it’s important to determine if the water problems are going to recur or if it was a one-time event. Determining where the water is coming from is the first and most essential step in solving this problem. Here are some of the top causes of water entering your home.


Surface Water Flooding

If this is the first instance of water problems in your basement, the first thing to check for is surface water draining down next to the foundations. If your basement has windows, check the seal around the window frame to be sure there are no cracks, holes or rotting sections of wood. If there are, consider replacing the entire frame. Patch all cracks in the basement walls with a sealant and check the floor for any other cracks that may be causing water seepage. If the foundation is severely cracked, consult an experienced contractor to repair the damage.

After checking the interior of your basement, it is essential to check the exterior of the home to look for overflowing gutters, downspout slope too close to the building, and pavements slope near the house.


Sewer Backup

When the sewers are full, it’s in a “surcharged condition”. The pipe system is full, and the water level in the manholes may rise well above the top of the pipe. If the sewage level in the system exceeds that of your basement, flows can be blocked, and sewage can flow towards your home. When this occurs, the wastewater may enter your basement by way of the lowest fixture, which is usually a floor drain, shower drain, sink, washbasin or toilet. The underlying cause of this is excess water in the sewer system, which ultimately overloads the sewer with more water than it was designed for


Ineffective Sump Pit

Many existing houses simply have no subsurface drainage system. This comes from a time when basements were not used as habitable space. The goal of a sump pump is to collect unwanted water and discharge it away from the home by lifting the water to the ground surface outside the foundation wall, but it can fail. Some common reasons are power failure, improper installation, collapsed pipe, lack of regular maintenance, and frozen or clogged discharge lines.


Mortar Joint Leak

For many rural homes in central Minnesota with basement walls constructed of cinder block or brick rather than concrete, locating a leak in the wall can be a bit more challenging because the walls themselves are not solid. Instead, they are built using mortar to hold each individual block in place. As with many things, the mortar will deteriorate over time. When the mortar deteriorates, it becomes less water-resistant, allowing water to slowly make its way through the mortar and into your basement through the open joints between the top of the block wall and the blocks themselves.


If you have exhausted all possible sources of water leakage and are still experiencing problems within your basement, then you may want to consider contacting a professional basement leak repair service immediately. We have many years of experience dealing with flooded basements and are here to help you in your time of need.

CE Class Grand Prize Winners

Joelle and Jessica had a great time with our Winners!

As I mentioned in our September CE Class Review Blog Post, we had Grand Prize and Runner-up winners.  Two out of the three winners choose to have a lunch party at their office.

Grand Prize Winner

We had lunch at Jack & Jim’s last Wednesday with Judi and her co-worker at Benton Insurance Services out of Foley, MN.  Judi brought Ryan, Barb, Rob, and Michelle from her office to join us.  Everyone had a great time laughing and talking about upcoming and past Holiday parties they have attended or put on.

Winners - Benton Insurance


Runner-up Winner

On Halloween, we brought lunch from Bluestone Grill to Webb Insurance in Buffalo, MN.  We enjoyed our delicious burrito bowls and Halloween stories with our winner Heather and her co-workers, Jenny, Carla, and Meghan.

Winners - Webb Insurance


Joelle and Jessica just want to thank the winners and their co-workers for taking time out of their day to have lunch with us.  We enjoyed getting to know every one of you and look forward to seeing you all again soon.



September CE Class Review

September 28, 2017, CE Class Review

Royal Renovations would just want to thank everyone that attended our most recent CE Class.  We had the highest number of attendees for this class.  I think that is because of the location, the price, the food, the speaker, and that we try to put on the best course we can.

Registration Table

Our classes include Breakfast and Lunch, and we do our best to accommodate any food allergies.

Breakfast Lunch Salad Bar

Each class we give multiple prizes away throughout the day.


  1. Grand Prize – Lunch for the office and Free Class ~ Judi Regnier, Benton Insurance Services
  2. Runner Up – Free Class ~ Troy Robinson, Monticello Agency
  3. Runner Up – Lunch for the office ~ Heather Tody, Webb Insurance
  4. VIP Winner 1 – $25 Visa Gift Card and Free Class ~ Jessica Nierenhausen, Schmidt Insurance
  5. VIP Winner 2 – Free Class ~ Ryan Zylstra, Zylstra Insurance Agency
  6. Early Sign Up Winner 1 – $10 Cold Stone Gift Card ~ Jamie Taylor, Insurance Center of Buffalo
  7. Early Sign Up Winner 2 – $5 Caribou Gift Card ~ Teri Fredricks, Mid-Country Insurance
  8. Random Drawing 1 – Vaportek Products ~ Roman Svododa, North Central Insurance
  9. Random Drawing 2 – Vaportek Products ~ Heather Tody, Webb Insurance
  10. Random Drawing 3 – Vaportek Products ~ Lori Steil, State Farm Insurance



Patio - CE Class


Vaportek Products were a hit!

In the past we have always given our attendees FREE Vaportek Samples to use in the garbage cans, cars, anywhere they need to eliminate odors and want a pleasantly fresh, clean scent. We are currently offering a Buy 2 Get 1 Free on our EZ Disks Refills.  If you would like to learn more about these products, please email Jessica.



“I appreciate the examples and stories that relate to the subject.  Jim’s presentation with humor is entertaining enough to make 8 hours of CE worth attending.” ~ Marie, Theis Agency

“Very informative. I liked the talk about Wells Fargo and the discussion about the environment created the unethical behavior.” ~ Kent, Lake Country Insurance

“Speaker was good today.  He didn’t just read off a script. Used examples and stories.” ~ Bruce, Lake Country Insurance

“Good Presentation.  If he had my attention for 8 hours on Ethics and mold, he was pretty good.” ~ Jamie, Insurance Center of Buffalo

“Very good presentation.  Thought Jim touched on many good topics.” ~ Heidi, Farmers Insurance


If you would like to sign up for our next CE Class please register here.


Non-Salvage Inventory

After a major fire in your home, you may find yourself overwhelmed and stressed with what you should be doing right now.  What are the next steps?  You may become displaced and need to find somewhere to live.  Your insurance company wants you to get moving on the process of repairs to avoid any extra expenses.  One of the first steps in a major fire is inventory and removing the contents.  What you need most at this time is family and friends to lean on and help you.  Here at Royal Renovations, we are that family.

How can Royal Renovations help me?

Inventorying your personal belongings can be a daunting task.  Our staff and Content Tracking Program can quickly and easily inventory your belongings.  Once we are complete, we send you the list to review before sending it to your insurance adjuster.  Having Royal Renovations take care of this part of your claim can save you so much time and is less stress on you during this difficult time. Our goal is to make this process go as smoothly and quickly as possible so you can get your life back to normal quicker.



If you have questions or would like more information, please email us, call us, or fill out this form and we would be happy to assist you.


Check out our Facebook page for before and afters of work we have completed.


September 28 CE Class – Only 7 Spots Remaining

Our Fall CE class is coming up on Thursday, September 28, 2017, at Coyote Moon and Grille in St. Cloud, MN.  Every year we offer two 8 hour days.  Each day has two four credit classes.

If you would like to attend, please sign up here.

Meeting Room - CE Class

Situational & Behavioral Ethics 
AM Session – 4 Credits

This session will summarize current ethics training using examples from corporate, individual, and societal practices.  This time will be used to point out flaws in the traditional methods.

Anatomy of a Homeowners’ Claim – Water Damage
PM Session- 4 Credits

In this follow-up to our fire claim class, we will explore the catastrophic loss to a homeowner due to water damage.  We will discuss the role of the agent, the adjuster, and the importance of the third party vendor responsible for the clean-up and restoration.

Our CE Class Goals

Joelle and Jessica pride themselves on putting on top of line classes.  We try to have the best locations, best speakers, interesting topics, fantastic food, and an uplifting atmosphere.  The CE class committee works hard to make sure you enjoy attending our classes.

If you have attended one of our classes in the past, please give us some feedback on what you enjoyed or needs improvement.

Shout Out to Kelly & Justine Fisher

I just wanted to give Kelly & Justine Fisher a little shout out and recognition on the company that they have built over the last 18 years. If you don’t know the Fisher’s, you’re missing out, so I figured I would share a little bit about how Royal Renovations was started. Please join me by liking this post or by sharing your great experience with Royal Renovations. ~ Jessica Meyer

About Royal Renovations

In 1999, Royal Renovations was established by Kelly and Justine Fisher, a husband and wife team. They started their business out of their home shop in Becker, MN. In 2002 they moved their company to Clear Lake, MN. Royal Renovations has been a family-owned and operated company since day one and still is today. We take pride in the family feel we have here and we like to pass that family feel onto our customers. The company is slowly transitioning allowing more family members to progress into ownership while all along keeping the same integrity, quality and reliability the company was built on. Our team is well-trained and committed to providing the highest level of customer satisfaction by maintaining quality workmanship and using the latest in problem-solving technology and expertise. We have over a 100 years combined experience in construction and insurance restoration.


Kelly and Justine Fisher Royal Renovations


To read more about Royal Renovations visit our about us page.