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Water Mitigation: What Is It?

12/1/2020 (Permalink)

large question mark with text: what is water mitigation? Water damage mitigation refers to taking steps to prevent further damage to your home after flooding or a water leak.

When you experience flooding or water damage in your home, you may come across the term "water mitigation" when it comes to restoring your home to preloss conditions. But what is it and what does it entail? Is it the same as water restoration?

Here, we will review just what water mitigation is and the process that it entails.

Water Mitigation Definition

Mitigation refers to the process of making something less severe, dangerous, painful, harsh, or damaging. Thus, water mitigation refers to taking steps to lessen the impact of water damage or flooding in your home. The goal during mitigation is to prevent further damage, so that more of your property can be salvaged or be unaffected.

Mitigation does not refer to restoring your property to pre-damage conditions - that would be classified as water damage restoration services. But, mitigation and restoration do work hand-in-hand, with mitigation first and restoration following.

Water Mitigation Services

The water damage mitigation process is not one size fits all, as every water damage event is unique. But, the process does have a framework that is adjusted based on your damages:

  1. Determining The Cause & Type of Water Damage
  2. Water Cleanup
  3. Cleaning & Disinfecting
  4. Drying & Dehumidification

1.  Cause & Type of Water Damage

Before a water damage company can perform any emergency services, they must know the cause and category of your water damage. This is so they can make sure to create the proper mitigation plan for your property. The cause of water damage will determine if any repairs are needed before cleanup can begin. The category of water damage will guide how to clean up and what materials can be saved rather than thrown away.

For example, if your water damage was caused by a broken sewage pipe in your basement that is actively pouring out raw sewage, the first step in preventing further damage would be to have the pipe fixed or stopped as soon as possible. Any necessary repairs should be made to stop the source of your damage from causing more.

Then, the type or category of water damage would be identified to guide your cleanup. In this case, sewage would be considered Category 3: Black Water, which is extremely hazardous when you come into contact with it without the proper protective equipment. The presence of black water changes how the company can remove it, clean up, sanitize, and determine what materials can be salvaged.

2.  Water Cleanup

The next step in the water mitigation process is water removal. In an emergency flooding situation, extracting water as soon as possible will help reduce damages to walls, floors, and ceilings. Rapid water cleanup also helps prevent water from migrating to other areas of the home and causing further damages. The goal of water cleanup is to lessen the impact of flood damage as much as possible.

3.  Cleaning & Disinfecting

During water mitigation, cleaning and disinfecting refers to a wide range of processes. This can include cleaning salvageable contents, cleaning and disinfecting affected areas, and taking steps to prevent mold growth. The scope of this step depends on the cause and category of water damage in your home.

For example, a sewage pipe breaks would require much more cleaning and disinfection than a water heater leak. The sewage pipe is Category 3 water, while the water heater would be Category 1: Clean Water and not require intense cleaning & disinfection.

4.  Drying & Dehumidification

The last step in water mitigation is completing the drying process. Drying wet, but salvageable materials helps make the restoration process much less costly and severe. Mitigation companies will use commercial grade air movers, dehumidifiers, and drying mats to help cut down on restoration costs in your home. Depending on the extent of your flooding or water damage, some materials may still have to be thrown away, but an experienced water mitigation company will be able to save as much as possible.

What Comes After Water Mitigation?

Clearly, your home will not be brought back to normal conditions after the water mitigation process. After mitigation, water damage restoration is needed to repair and restore your home. Water damage restoration companies do the following:

  • Replace damaged walls or flooring
  • Perform mold remediation as needed
  • Conduct moisture testing to ensure all issues are addressed
  • Replace any materials that were temporarily taken away, such as wall trims or carpeting

While water mitigation and restoration are separate processes, they can and should be performed by one water damage company. This will help ensure that your home is restored in a seamless process. If you find a company that only provides mitigation services, consider searching for one that provides restoration and mold remediation services as well. This will just help ensure that your property is brought back to pre-damage conditions as soon as possible.

How To Prepare For A Blizzard

11/23/2020 (Permalink)

photo of snowed in houses Preparing for extreme weather at the beginning of the winter season can help you beat the crowds before a storm.

Living in New England, winter storms are nothing new. But, there are times when winter weather delivers blizzards that can last days - causing low visibility, extreme cold, power outages, and disruption to emergency services.

When you know a blizzard is coming your way, you should prepare to keep you and your family safe & warm during extreme weather. Following these preparedness and safety tips will keep you ready if you are snowed in this winter.

Preparing For A Blizzard: Checklist

  • Prepare or double check your emergency survival kit. You want your kit to have all the proper supplies needed in the event of an emergency or major disaster. Your kit should be easy to carry in case you must evacuate your home. According to the Red Cross, your emergency kit should at minimum contain the following:
    • Water - One gallon per person, per day
    • Food - Non-perishable items that are easy to prepare, even without power
    • Flashlight - Battery powered and hand-crank is best
    • Radio - Battery powered or hand-crank
    • Extra batteries
    • First aid kit
    • Stocked for all everyday medications
    • A multi-purpose tool
    • Personal hygiene items
    • Copies of all important personal documents
    • Cell phones and chargers
    • Emergency contact information
    • Extra cash
    • Emergency blanket - These are brightly colors and heat reflective if you are stranded
    • Pet supplies
  • Prepare your vehicle in case of emergencies or evacuation. Fill your gas tank and be sure your car is ready to drive in winter conditions.
  • Charge electronic devices. Your phones should be charged along with any portable chargers you may have. You may also want to charge laptops or portable game systems for something to do if the power goes out.
  • Get your home ready. Ideally, you should storm proof your home to keep it better insulated from cold winds, especially if you lose power. You can apply weather-stripping to doors and windows and seal any cracks or air gaps. You should also be sure to insulate pipes, especially those on the exterior walls of your home so they do not freeze and burst.
  • Prepare warm clothing. In case the worse happens, having warm, layered clothing is a must. Gather any winter hats or gloves you may also have around the house.
  • Bring any outdoor animals inside or to a safe place. If you shouldn't be out in a blizzard - your animals shouldn't either. Make sure they have enough food and shelter to last the storm.
  • Have a secondary heating source ready. If you have a fireplace, be sure to stock up on firewood. If using a portable generator, be sure to get fuel and store it in an airtight gas can.
  • Test or install your fire and carbon monoxide detectors. This is especially important in case the power goes out and you utilize a fireplace, portable generator, or candles to have light or heat.
  • Make sure you have a snow shovel before the snow starts. Without one, you may be stuck in your house for longer than planned. Getting ice melt, salt, or sand will also be helpful.
  • Know where you can seek shelter. If your power goes out for an extended amount of time or tree weighed down by snow and ice falls on your home, you will want to know where the closest shelter is.
  • Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia. If the power goes out or you are stranded in the cold, it's important to know the signs of these so you can begin treatment right away.
    • Frostbite: Causes loss of feeling and colors around your face, fingers, and toes. Skin may turn white or grayish-yellow. If you suspect frostbite, go to a warm room, soak in warm water, or use body heat to warm. Do not use a heating pad.
    • Hypothermia: Unusually low body temperature, under 95 degrees. Signs of this are shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech or drowsiness. If you suspect hypothermia you can do the following: Go to a warm room, warm the center of the body first (chest, neck, head, groin), keep dry and wrapped in warm blankets.

During the Blizzard

When blizzards bring heavy snows, you should stay off the roads if possible. Visibility can be extremely limited, and it is easy to become stranded in areas where plows haven't gone by. If you are stranded in a car during a blizzard, try and keep warm as best as you can and call for help.

During the storm, you should also stay up to date with the latest weather reports. This way you can know when the storm will start, how much snow to expect, and receive any updates as to whether or not you should evacuate.

If you followed the checklist above, you and your family should be able to stay safe even if you lose power during a blizzard. Staying warm, hydrated, and eating enough should be enough until you can stay in a place with power or power returns to your home.

3 Causes of Dryer Fires & 5 Ways To Prevent Them

11/17/2020 (Permalink)

photo of after a dryer fire in the basement of connecticut home. debris on floor from dryer vent fire Taking steps to prevent a dryer vent fire in your home should be a part of your regular maintenance plan.

Most households do multiple loads of laundry per week, resulting in high use of their clothes dryer. But when was the last time the lint trap, dryer vent, or the exhaust duct was cleaned out? With an estimated 15,970 home dryer fires occurring each year, it's important to take steps to prevent clothing or dryer vent fires. Here, we will go over dryer fire causes and how to help prevent them.

Causes of Clothes Dryer Fires

A fire in your dryer can be caused by many things, which fall into the following three categories.

1.Failure to Clean

The leading cause of these home fires is the failure to clean dirty lint filters and dryer vents. Over time, lint will get past the filter in your dryer and build up in the vent system. It's also possible for other debris like dirt, grass, or other items not washed away in your washing machine to build up in the vent system.

When the dryer vents are not cleaned, this may also cause lint or debris buildup in the outdoor vent. This buildup can be clearly seen from the outside of your home and is a major sign your system should be cleaned as soon as possible. It's also possible for pests to make a nest in the exterior dryer vent of your home and cause a fire.

2.Improper Dryer Use

Another common cause of dryer fires is using the appliance outside of recommended guidelines. Putting items that cannot go in a dryer, overstuffing, or drying items at the incorrect temperature all fall under improper use. When you do not follow recommended guidelines, you are putting the dryer at risk for a fire.

3.Mechanical Problems

As with any appliance, mechanical problems always pose a risk for a fire hazard. Faulty wiring, damage to electrical components, or improper installation could cause heating elements to malfunction and cause a dryer fire. Installing dryer vent ducts that cannot withstand high heat can also cause a dryer vent fire.

Preventing Dryer Fires

1.Clean the lint filter after every single use.

This one simple action can help prevent the leading cause of dryer fires - lint buildup. A single load of laundry can leave a surprising amount of lint behind in the filter. When this filter isn't cleaned, the lint can build up and create the perfect fire starter when using the dryer on high heat. You should also never use your dryer without a lint filter or one that is loose, damaged, or clogged.

2.Clean out the vent pipe and outdoor vent regularly.

Its recommended to perform this cleaning about every three months in your home to best prevent lint buildup and a possible fire. Similar to the need to clean the lint filter, buildup of lint in the vent system causes a huge risk of a dryer vent fire.

Signs your dryer vent system needs to be cleaned are:

  • Clothing taking longer and longer to dry over time
  • Clothing not fully drying
  • Clothing is hotter than normal when taken out of the dryer
  • Outside vent doesn't open much or at all
  • Outside of the dryer is very hot
  • Laundry room is more humid than usual (Lack of airflow)
  • Burning smell

3.Don't forget to clean under and behind your dyer.

Over time, lint can buildup in places that it really shouldn't, such as behind or underneath the dryer. This accumulation takes place over a few years, as most lint gets trapped in the filter or exits through the dryer duct system. This cleaning may be best performed by a professional that knows all the places lint may hide in your dryer and pose a fire hazard.

4.Install the proper dryer duct.

Many recommend the use of a metal dryer duct opposed to flexible foil or plastic ducts. This is because flexible and plastic ducts may sag, have corners and turns, or have ribs that make it easier for lint to get stuck and buildup. The best dryer duct would be a straight, metal vent that directs debris right outside with little room for getting stuck. Metal ducts are also favorable to aluminum or plastic, as they can better contain a dryer vent fire if one occurs.

5.Don't put flammable items in the dryer.

This may seem obvious, but many more items can become flammable in a dryer than you may think. Do not put the following items in your dryer to prevent a fire:

  • Foam
  • Rubber
  • Plastic
  • Items which state "Dry away from heat"
  • Items that have been in flammable liquids, such as rags soaked with alcohol, cooking oils, or gasoline

Basement Efflorescence: What It Is, Causes & Prevention

11/11/2020 (Permalink)

white, chalky, efflorescence on basement wall Efflorescence on basement walls appears as a white, chalky substance that is easily wiped away.

What is Efflorescence?

If you've ever noticed a white, powdery, or chalky substance on the concrete walls of your basement, you were likely left wondering what it was. Many homeowners worry this this white powdery substance is some sort of mold, but in fact this is efflorescence, which is simply salt deposits on materials like concrete, brick, stucco, or natural stone surfaces. This substance does not cause any adverse health effects, and is not cause for major alarm.

What Causes Efflorescence?

When hydrostatic pressure forces water through your basement wall, it dissolves minerals in the building material, whether that's concrete, brick, or any other type of natural stone. After water moves through the wall, reaches the surface and evaporates, it leaves behind a mineral deposit, bringing natural salts to the surface.

Does efflorescence mean the basement leaks? Unfortunately, yes. For this mineral deposit to appear, it requires some source of water - whether that is coming from inside or outside of your basement.

Efflorescence is most commonly caused by groundwater seeping into your basement after periods of heavy rains or melting snow, but can also be caused by plumbing leaks. If there are any issues or cracks in the foundation of your home, they will also allow water to seep through the wall.

So long as water moves through a porous building material which contains salt - it will leave behind a chalky white deposit.

How To Clean Efflorescence in Basements

The good thing about this mineral deposit is that it is harmless to humans and is very easy to remove yourself. Try the following ways to remove efflorescence on basement walls:

  1. Use a stiff brush. Since these mineral deposits are dry and powdery, many times you can sweep it away with a brush. Be sure to wear a mask so to not breath the powder in.
  2. Rinse with water. If just a brush doesn't work, try to rinse with water as well.
  3. Chemical cleaning. If efflorescence has been on a wall for quite some time, brushing or water may not be able to get it off. As salt deposits sit, they will grow larger if moisture problems are not addressed and possibly crystallize, making it a challenge to remove. At these points, you may want to call in a professional to properly clean the deposits without damaging your basement walls.

After you remove efflorescence from your basement walls, be sure to not leave any moisture behind from cleaning. Set up fans to completely dry the area after cleaning to prevent it from immediately reforming.

Preventing Efflorescence on Basement Walls

To prevent this problem, homeowners must make sure that moisture is not present and groundwater is not seeping into the basement. If you've had efflorescence form in your basement, cleaned it, but did not take steps to address any water issues - your problem will only come back again. While these deposits are not harmful, they are an indication that you have a moisture problem to solve in your home.

To prevent conditions that produce efflorescence, you should consider basement waterproofing. There are many different forms of waterproofing, but all help prevent groundwater from entering your basement when it rains. Exterior waterproofing or internal drainage systems are best to prevent water from entering outside of your home. While sump pumps are also handy - they will not prevent the water seepage that causes efflorescence to form.

There are some steps you can take yourself to try and help prevent groundwater seepage and in turn efflorescence before waterproofing your basement:

  • Clean gutters and downspouts to correctly navigate water away from your home.
  • Buy downspout extenders so that water is let off further away from the foundation.
  • Create slopes away from your foundation so water naturally flows away from your home.
  • Set up a dehumidifier in your basement to help lower moisture levels.
  • Set up a fan directed at wet walls when you notice water seeping in.

Thanksgiving Safety: Tips For 2020

11/11/2020 (Permalink)

Thanksgiving dinner with text over it Thanksgiving safety: tips for 2020 There are a few new safety precautions households should take when preparing for Thanksgiving Day in 2020.

The Thanksgiving holiday may look a little different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you're still cooking a turkey dinner, we've put together this list of holiday & turkey safety tips to help ensure you have a safe and healthy Thanksgiving dinner in 2020.

1.  Be sure to practice proper food safety.

Handling poultry incorrectly is one of the most common causes of foodborne illness outbreaks. This phenomenon rises around the holiday season due to increased gatherings and cooking of large meals. You can prevent food poisoning by doing the following:

  • Properly thaw your turkey. Thaw it by putting it in the refrigerator in a container, leaving it in a plastic bag in the sink with cold water, or in the microwave. Do not leave the turkey out to thaw on the counter. According to the CDC, if you leave a turkey out at room temperature for more than 2 hours, the temperature becomes unsafe and harbor bacterial growth.
  • Keep cooking areas clean. Raw poultry can contaminate surfaces it touches with bacteria. Be sure to keep raw poultry away from other food items and clean the area you prepared it in afterwards.
  • Cook the turkey completely through. Your turkey must reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees or higher to be safe to consume. Pick up a food thermometer so that you can accurately check the temperature of the turkey. To check for the safe minimum internal temperature, insert the food thermometer into the center of the stuffing as well as the thickest parts of the breast, thigh, and wing.
  • Make sure the stuffing is cooked too! Bacteria from the raw poultry can survive in the stuffing when it is not brought to 165 degrees. Cooking stuffing separately from your turkey can help ensure it is safely cooked.
  • Don't leave food cooking unattended. Thanksgiving is the peak day of the year for home cooking fires. Make sure someone is always in the kitchen, the cooking space is clear of flammable objects, and that a fire extinguisher is nearby.

2.  Follow turkey deep frying safety.

Accidents when using turkey fryers have become so common that the National Fire Protection Association actually advises against their use. If you still choose to go with the deep fryer, just be sure to follow these tips:

  • Keep outdoor dryers more than far enough away from your home, deck, garage, or any other items.
  • Be sure that the turkey is COMPLETELY thawed before putting it in the fryer.
  • Make sure your fryer has temperature controls sot hat you can help avoid a fire.
  • Have baking soda or a grease-rated fire extinguisher nearby in case of a fire. DO NOT put water on a Turkey grease fire.
  • Wear oven mitts to protect your hands and arms from the hot oil.

3.  Practice proper COVID-19 safety on Thanksgiving Day.

As the world continues the fight against the Coronavirus, the CDC has released a list of considerations and recommendations for having a Thanksgiving gathering in 2020. While the COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful and kept many away from their family members, we still must consider how to modify our holiday plans to prevent the spread of the virus.

The CDC recommends the following for your Thanksgiving gathering during COVID-19:

  • Celebrate virtually or only with members of your own household for the lowest risk of spreading the virus.
  • Consider the levels of COVID-19 in your area or areas guests are coming from.
  • Host an outdoor gathering if possible to reduce risk of spread.
  • If having an indoor gathering, keep it small and open windows to increase ventilation.
  • Have one person serve food so that everyone is not touching the same serving dishes or utensils.
  • Try to practice social distancing: Stay 6 feet apart, wear masks, wash hands, don't share items, and follow local laws and regulations.
  • Do not attend or host a Thanksgiving fathering if you or someone you know has symptoms, been diagnosed with COVID-19, or are in a high-risk group.

SERVPRO of Meriden wishes everyone in our community a safe and healthy Thanksgiving Day this year in 2020! 

Why Is There Water In My Basement After Rain?

11/5/2020 (Permalink)

large puddle of water on concrete basement floor after rain Figuring out why your basement floods every time it rains can be a challenge.

Finding your basement floor covered or damp with water after it rains can leave you scratching your head to figure out how it's getting there. When water is entering your basement where the wall meets the floor every time it rains, you're likely struggling with a hydrostatic pressure issue, which we will explain here.

Causes of Water Coming in Basement Where Wall Meets Floor

Hydrostatic Pressure

Hydrostatic pressure refers to water pressure. When the ground around your basement is saturated with water, it exerts pressure on the foundation and walls of your basement. One cubic foot of water weighs about 60 pounds - so when the ground outside your home is saturated, you may have thousand of pounds of water pressure looking for a way past your foundation walls.

Eventually, this hydrostatic pressure against your foundation will allow water to find it's way in and cause some sort of basement leak most likely due to the structure your basement, which we will review next.

Gap Between Basement Wall and Floor

This gap is commonly referred to as the cove joint, and is common in many basements. When your basement is dug out to build your home, a large slab of of poured concrete was made to support your home. This must dry before more concrete is poured, and since new concrete does not bond with the old you are left with a small gap, or the 'cove joint' where water under pressure can get through the wall.

Since most basements have cove joints (the gap between your basement wall and floor), things such as a high water table, clogged or failed drainage systems, and improper draining of surface water from your home can cause water to come in the basement after rain.

Preventing Water In Your Basement After Rain

When it comes to cove joints, hydrostatic pressure, and wanting to keep your basement dry and clear of water damage - there is a struggle. There are solutions to your basement water problems, but the permanent solutions can run upwards of thousands of dollars. Below are ways to prevent water in your basement after rain in order of cost:

  • Navigate water away from the foundation - Do this by extending your gutters and downspouts and inspecting the ground around your foundation for any areas that slope towards your home rather than away. Then, take steps to raise the slope away from your home with sand or clay and top with gravel or woodchips.
  • Clean your gutters - Clogged gutters don't efficiently allow water to navigate away from your home, and may instead cause water to flow directly down the siding of your home and along the foundation wall. This will allow water to collect in the ground and exert pressure on the walls of your basement.
  • Waterproof your basement - There are many ways to accomplish this, but most should be done by a professional with the average cost ranging from $3,000-$15,000. Depending on your basement and your needs, you may install a sump pump, interior drain tile, exterior drain tile, or general basement waterproofing without a drainage system.

Winterize Your Home This Season: 2020 Checklist

11/1/2020 (Permalink)

photo of houses with snow on ground and icicles hanging from roofs Stay cozy during the coldest months of the year by winterizing your home.

As the leaves begin to change and cold air moves in, it’s the time of year to take steps to winterize your home to help prevent any winter-related disasters and keep your energy costs low. Winterizing your home is a task that can be finished in just a weekend, is low-cost, and will benefit you all winter. Follow these tips for winterizing your home to have a warm and prepared home all winter long.  

Winterizing Your Home: 20 Tips

  1. Clean out gutters and downspouts of any debris, leaves, or branches.
  2. Buy a snow shovel and ice melt so you're ready for the first snow or ice storm before it hits. This way, you can avoid the pre-storm crowds.
  3. Bring all of your outdoor furniture inside your shed, garage, or basement.
  4. Seal cracks and other openings around windows and doors to help prevent cold air from entering your living spaces.
  5. Purchase and install door draft stoppers for all exterior, basement, and attic doors to keep heat in your living spaces.
  6. Set ceiling fans to turn clockwise so that they push hot air from the ceiling down to the floor.
  7. Put out area rugs or carpets to keep floors warm.
  8. Replace the filters in your furnace and HVAC system to improve energy efficiency and keep up air quality.
  9. Prevent water pipes from freezing or bursting: Insulate any pipes that run along outer walls or are in non-heated areas like attics or garages. During extreme cold, open up the cabinets under sinks to make sure they do not freeze. 
  10. Winterize your hose: Fully drain the hose and the source pipe, bring the hose inside, and shut off the water to the hose valve to prevent any freezing or bursting. The shutoff is likely in your basement or garage, depending on where the hose is located. 
  11. Seal windows to prevent cold air drafts: This can be done by putting up window insulation film or cling wrap (which doesn't look great - but will save you money) or by using weatherstrip tape to seal the edges of windows and doors.
  12. If you don't plan on using your chimney and it doesn't have a way to close it up, purchase and install a chimney balloon. These help keep cold drafts from coming down through the fireplace and prevents warm air from escaping.
  13. If you don't already have one, get a programmable thermostat. The newer ones can be put on an automatic schedule to turn down the heat when you leave and warm the house back up before you arrive home.
  14. Be sure to check that all fire and carbon monoxide detectors are working and change batteries as needed.
  15. Get out your thick, winter curtains and hang them to help prevent heat loss at windows or slider doors. 
  16. Install storm doors or windows for an extra layer of draft protection if you don’t already have them.
  17. Make sure furniture isn't blocking any vents, making it easier to keep your house warm.
  18. If your property is plowed during the winter, put stakes in the ground around the driveway, mailbox, or anything else that you don't want run over by a plow.
  19. Be sure your attic is completely and properly insulated. Heat escaping into your attic can drive up energy costs - but it can also warm your roof, cause ice dams to form, and cause roof leaks and water damage.
  20. Check for any disconnected ductwork. This can happen over time, and results in warm air being let out into attics or basements instead of your living space.

Taking steps to winterize your home will keep heating costs down, keep your home warm, and make you feel prepared for whatever winter throws your way this season. 

Signs of a Chimney Fire

10/28/2020 (Permalink)

fire shooting out of chimney from creosote lighting on fire Built-up creosote can cause slow burning or explosive fires in your chimney.

You may find chimney fires described as loud, explosive, or dramatic, with flames shooting out the top of your chimney that can be seen by your neighbors. But in fact, most actually go undetected and don't turn into dramatic explosions until they've built up or have already been burning for quite some time. Regardless, these fires can put your home in serious danger and should dealt with at their first signs.

First - What Causes Chimney Fires?

Fires in your chimney are caused by a build up of creosote, which is highly flammable and can ignite if a stray spark travels up the flue or the fire is burning at an extremely high temperature. These fires can burn for a long period of time, as the built up creosote acts as fuel to sustain a slow burning chimney fire.

Creosote builds up when the substances produced by the combustion of the fire flow from the hot hearth and up the cooler chimney, causing condensation. This condensation causes highly combustible creosote buildup in the chimney flue, which can lead to a fire.

Once creosote begins to build up, it will continue to worsen over time until your chimney is serviced. Creosote buildup restricts the air supply of the chimney, creating conditions that encourage more of the sticky substance to build up in the smoke chamber. The slower smoke moves through a chimney, the more time there is for it to cool and for creosote to condense on the liner.

Chimney Fire Symptoms

Many of the following symptoms of chimney fires may only be found by a professional chimney sweep, as the evidence may be on your roof or in your chimney where you cannot see. Even though you may not be able to spot some of the following signs yourself, you should be fine if you have your chimney inspected and cleaned by a certified technician once a year.

Signs of a chimney fire include:

  • Puffy or honey combed creosote indicates there has been a fire in your chimney.
  • Warped metal chimney or fireplace components indicates levels of high heat in your chimney system, possible a symptom of a fire.
  • Cracks in the flue tile indicate your chimney has rapidly heated or cooled down.
  • Discolored or warped chimney cap caused by intense heat. A chimney fire may cause the screen to warp and distort as well.
  • Heat damage to things on your roof, such as satellites or TC antennas.
  • Cracks in the exterior masonry of the chimney.
  • Seeing smoke escaping from anywhere but the top of your chimney.
  • Creosote flakes or pieces on the ground outside your home, or dropping down your chimney as they burn off.
  • Damaged or melted roofing materials.

When you identify any of the above signs of a slow burning chimney fire, you should stop using your fireplace and have it inspected by a certified chimney sweep to prevent a possible house fire. Depending on the extent of the issue, your chimney may only need to be cleaned, have a few tiles replaced, or be completely rebuilt.

10 Unexpected Things That Can Start A House Fire

10/19/2020 (Permalink)

photo of fire inside house looking through window Learn about these common items that can unexpectedly start a fire in your home.

When doing chores or working around the house, your mind probably isn’t fixated on all the little things that could start a fire. Most homeowners know the common causes of house fires, but there are many more than most think of. Here, we will review some of the unexpected things that could start a fire in your home.

Unexpected Fire Starters 

  • Sawdust. Sawdust is highly combustible and should be cleaned up right away. One small spark from an outlet or the chemicals used during woodworking can ignite a sawdust pile.
  • Laptops. When left on a bed or blankets charging for an extended amount of time, laptop batteries can overheat and cause a fire. Many laptops will automatically shut off when batteries are close to overheating, but when left in a pile of flammable materials, it may be too late.
  • Glassware. There have been cases of glassware being left in intense, direct sunlight that causes them to combust or explode. Leaving a candle lit for too long in a glass container can see the same result if it heats up to too high of a temperature. If you notice decorative glassware or candle holders becoming extremely hot, reposition them out of direct sunlight or change the candle holder.
  • Smoking in the garage. Does Uncle Jim take his sneaky cigarette break during the holidays in the garage? Let him know that the garage isn’t a safe place to smoke because of the flammable liquids like gasoline or cleaning supplies that are usually stored there. 
  • Oily or greasy rags in the garbage. When you have oily rags, be sure to let them dry out completely before storing or throwing them away. When the flammable oils aren’t able to dissipate and are stuffed in a closed, hot container - they may combust.
  • 9-Volt Batteries. These shouldn’t be left loose in a drawer with other things, because if it touches metal it could spark and cause a fire. Keep them in their packaging to prevent this off-chance fire.
  • Aerosol sprays. Room sprays or beauty products like hair mousse or hair spray can ignite an inferno when exposed to an open flame, especially when they are in use. Aerosol cafes can also pose a danger of exploding when left in a sunny window. 
  • Nail polish remover. The acetone in nail polish remover is extremely flammable and the fumes can be enough to ignite a fire. Don’t take off nail polish sitting next to your favorite candle! 
  • Hair dryers. Like your dryer vents, the back vent of your hair dryer will accumulate dust and lint over time. When you don’t clear this build up, the heat of your hair dryer or a stray spark can cause the dryer to catch on fire in your hands. 
  • Toaster/Toaster ovens. Many toasters have trays underneath them where they catch crumbs to prevent a mess on your countertop. When the traps aren’t cleaned out, the accumulation of crumbs can become a fire hazard. 

Warning Signs of A Tornado

10/5/2020 (Permalink)

extreme damage from tornado demolishes bathroom because tree fell on home A tornado caused a tree to fall on this Connecticut home last year.

When a tornado strikes seemingly out of nowhere, it can cause intense damages - destroying buildings, flipping cars, and sending debris through the air. Knowing the signs of a tornado can help you get to a safe place before it hits.

Warning Signs of a Tornado

If you see these warning signs, go inside immediately and check your local weather announcements for watches or warnings.

  • Dark, green tinted sky
  • Wall clouds, or a cloud of debris
  • A funnel-shaped cloud
  • Large hail without rain
  • Roaring noise, similar to a freight train
  • Unusual calmness of wind

Tornado Watch Vs. Warning

A tornado watch means that the current weather conditions are right for generating a tornado. When these come through, you should keep an eye on the weather announcements for any changes and avoid going outside if possible until it has passed. 

A tornado warning means that a tornado has been identified in the surrounding area and that you should immediately find shelter and take cover.

What Should You Do When A Tornado Hits?

When you get notification that your area is under a tornado warning, you should do the following according to

  • If you are near a building, immediately go inside.
  • Find a safe room, basement or cellar. If there is no basement, take shelter in a small interior room on the lowest floor of the building.
  • Keep away from any windows, doors, or outside walls.
  • Keep away from bridges or overpasses - look for low, flat locations to take shelter.
  • Be aware of any flying debris that could injure you while outside.
  • Be sure to use your arms to protect your head while moving about.

During a tornado, you should do the following:

  • Stay in your safe location and do not leave until you know it is safe to do so.
  • Better protect yourself from flying or falling debris by putting your arms around your head and neck and barricading furniture or blankets around you to protect from heavy objects.
  • Continue listening to your local emergency or weather station for updates.
  • If not in a safe building, do not try to outrun tornadoes in a car. Find a relatively sheltered, low place where you can put your arms over your head and crouch.

What Do You Do After?

  • Continue listening for weather updates to ensure the worst is really over.
  • If you are trapped, cover your mouth to try and not breath in dust or debris. Try and send a text, bang on a wall or a pipe, or whistle rather than shouting for help.
  • Stay clear of any fallen power lines or trees.
  • Do not reenter buildings that have been damaged until you're told it is safe.
  • When cleaning up debris, be sure to wear thick gloves and work boots.
  • Call your insurance company if your home or business has been damaged by the tornado.

When a tornado comes through your area, it can be a scary experience and can become overwhelming when it damages your home or business. After making the call to your insurance company, you should also call a storm damage restoration company to clean up debris, handle water damage, and repair any structural issues caused by the tornado. 

Need Help After A Storm? Call SERVPRO- 800-734-3213

SERVPRO of Meriden is a 24/7 damage restoration company specializing in water damage, storm damage, fire damage, and mold remediation. Whatever the disaster, we work hard to make it "Like it never even happened."