Four Steps Homeowners Can Take When Water Damage Occurs
Here are some important steps to take when assessing water damage in your home.
Whether you experience a significant storm or broken pipe, there are many reasons why your home might face sudden water damage. While these events are concerning, acting quickly can help you reduce the amount of water damage restoration that you’ll need. To help you protect your home and minimize repair costs, here are several strategies to follow when these emergencies happen.
How Should Homeowners Handle Water Damage?
- Locate & Stop the Source of Water
As soon as you notice a problem, locate the source of the moisture and try to keep the water from spreading. For example, if the issue is coming from a broken pipe, shut off the coordinating water supply valve. Or, if you have a roof leak, put a bucket under the problem area and a tarp around the area. Next, call a professional contractor to provide a permanent fix.
- Contact Your Insurance Company
After stopping the issue, you should begin filing a claim with your insurance provider. They will likely require pictures and documentation of the damage, so photograph the affected area and send them when requested. The sooner you take this step, the easier it will be to evaluate the damage and receive compensation. In some cases, homeowner’s insurance policies will cover the cost of water damage restoration and necessary repairs.
- Remove the Moisture
Next, you should call water damage restoration professionals to clean up the water and all traces of moisture from the home. This will prevent stains and mildew from spreading to other areas, minimizing the damage that the water can cause. Your restoration company will use high-powered extraction tools to clean and protect your carpet. These professionals will also employ large fans to dry out surfaces while they are working.
- Inspect for Mold
When your contractors leave, look around the affected areas for signs of mold. Typically, you will notice green or black spots on moist surfaces and a musty odor in the room. Without prompt attention, mold will spread throughout the house, causing health effects. However, mold can also cause structural damage, as it eats organic material. Fortunately, mold remediation services will remove the fungal growth and prevent it from returning.
Fire Prevention During the Holidays: Do's & Dont's
Take extra precautions during the holidays in order to prevent fires in your home!
The holiday season is an exciting time to gather with family and friends, decorate the home, share meals, and celebrate. Throughout the festivities, you need to take extra precautions to prevent accidents. The winter months are the most common months for home fires and fire restoration services. To keep your family safe and the holidays merry, follow the fire prevention tips below.
Use flameless candles.
Open flames from candles can be especially dangerous with children and pets running around the house. Consider switching to flameless LED candles, which flicker just like real candles without posing a fire risk. If you use real candles, keep them far out of reach from kids and animals and never leave them burning unsupervised.
Keep an eye on your cooking.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, more than 50% of all residential fires were started while cooking. When families are preparing large amounts of food while entertaining guests, it’s easy to get distracted and neglect the oven or stove. Stay in the kitchen when cooking and continuously check on your food.
Test cords and lights before use.
Always inspect and test holiday lights before hanging them up, and throw out any sets with damaged cords, loose connections, or cracked bulbs. Frayed and exposed wires can easily cause an electrical fire. Never leave decorative lighting on unattended—unplug all lights before leaving the house and going to bed.
Overload your electrical circuits.
Too many electronics, appliances, and decorations plugged in can overload your circuits and cause sparks. Limit your use of extension cords and unplug any item that isn’t in use.
Avoid using outlets in rooms that already have many large appliances, such as the kitchen. Invest in LED lighting to cut back on your electricity usage.
Let Christmas trees dry out.
Dry and brittle trees are more likely to ignite and burn quickly. Watering Christmas trees every day significantly reduces their risk of catching fire. As soon as the holidays end or your tree dries out, dispose of it properly.
Place plants near heat sources.
It may be tempting to fill the space next to a heater or in front of the fireplace with plants, but this can create a serious fire hazard. All plants and Christmas trees should be kept several feet away from any heat sources. This includes light bulbs, radiators, space heaters, and floor and wall registers.
4 Tips to Prevent Restaurant Kitchen Fires
There are many ways to avoid a kitchen fire in your restaurant, read up on a few of them here.
Your restaurant’s kitchen is the most significant part of the business, and it creates several fire hazards. However, to avoid fire damage repair, you can take several measures that will reduce the risk that a fire will occur. Below are several strategies to employ in your kitchen.
What Tasks Can Help You Avoid Kitchen Fires?
- Maintain Electrical Equipment
Often, the kitchen has many different electrical appliances, such as blenders, toasters, and ovens. However, the wiring and cords can wear down over time, increasing the risk of a spark that creates a fire hazard. You should inspect all electrical equipment regularly for damage, paying close attention to the cords and outlets.
Also, schedule yearly professional maintenance for all kitchen appliances to check for damage that you cannot easily see. After closing the restaurant, unplug all appliances to prevent a fuse shortage at night that could cause a fire.
- Clean Grease
While grease is unavoidable in most commercial kitchens, you should manage it carefully to avoid issues that require fire damage repair. Grease is extremely flammable, and it can splatter around the area, allowing flames to spread.
Regularly clean all surface areas that accumulate grease, including the counter tops, walls, ranges, grills, hood systems, and floors. Then, dispose of the residue away from the kitchen.
- Train Staff
Make sure your entire staff, from cooks to servers, knows how to properly identify fire hazards. They should understand the location of breaker switches, as well as how to operate them. Then, create clear guidelines about the process and frequency of cleaning grease, and how to keep flammable materials away from the oven and stove.
- Never Leave Food Unattended
When cooking food, someone should always be monitoring it. Anything cooking over an open flame poses a significant fire hazard, as grease or oil can spill over and catch on fire quickly. Food that burns in the oven or microwave can also create a dangerous issue. If everyone on your staff must leave the kitchen for some reason, turn of all burners and heat sources while they’re away.
How to Protect Your Home From Potential Rainfall Damage
Taking these simple steps can help protect your home from water damage during heavy rainfall
Heavy rain and storms can cause substantial damage to your home especially if you aren't prepared. Storms can produce high winds causing fallen trees and power lines. There is always the possibility that when a storm hits, there will be damage to a property. Even a small roof puncture from a tree limb or a cracked window can be enough to allow rainfall to trickle (or pour) into your home. A downed tree can cause serious damage to your roof, siding and windows. Heavy rain also raises concern for flooding. Below are a few tips to help keep your home safe and dry in the event of a storm:
- Consider options to protect your windows and entryways such as adding shutters, rain diverters and storm doors.
- Having a sump pump and dehumidifier handy can really help on days with heavy rain or high humidity.
- Keep an eye on the trees closest to your home. Of course, you don’t want to cut into every tree but sometimes damage can be prevented by trimming back the trees that pose a threat.
- Regularly check that rainwater is draining properly. If it isn’t, consider ways to redirect it such as adding gutters or consulting a contractor.
- Regularly check your home for potential weaknesses especially in the roof, siding and windows. Even a small opening can let in rainwater so catching and repairing these issues before a storm hits is important and will save you money.
If the latest storm has damaged your home don’t hesitate to call us at 1-800-352-7251, we’re available 24/7 to help!
Mold in Your Home Due to Unnoticed Water
Mold can vary in severity and can spread over a large area as seen on this wall from an old abandoned home.
When water goes unnoticed in the home, it can lead to the growth of mold. Mold is a fungus that grows in moist, dark environments, and it can thrive anywhere these conditions are present. It is a particular hazard in the home, where people often spend the majority of their time. But the first step to mold remediation is to recognize the signs of an infestation. Below, get to know some common types of household mold and their signs and characteristics.
A Guide to Common Household Mold
Alternaria is the most common form of allergenic mold. You will mostly find it in damp areas, especially around bathroom sinks, showers, tubs, and leaking pipes. It is dark in color, either gray, brown, or black, and has a velvety texture. It is known to spread quickly. Reduce the risk of Alternaria growth by promptly fixing all plumbing leaks. Shut off all taps every time you use them, and wipe up the moisture from walls and floors after showers and baths.
Chaetomium grows in walls, roofs, and flooring that have experienced water damage, often from leaks or burst or broken pipes. The mold starts out as a whitish color and grows darker over time. It also has a cotton-like appearance and a musty, stale odor. If you’re unsure of the source of the water damage causing the infestation, a mold removal professional can help you pinpoint the cause.
Penicillium is blue or green in color and tends to flourish in water-damaged environments. Its spores are known to travel through the air, where they can be breathed in. Minimize the chance of Penicillium growth by eliminating high humidity in the air. A dehumidifier can help in this process, and you should also address leaks in a timely manner.
Stachybotrys is another word for black mold, but its color can range anywhere from dark green to inky black, and its texture is slimy. It thrives in moist areas with high humidity. Like other types of mold, Stachybotrys starts with some type of water damage. Aim to keep the household dry and the humidity low, and have all plumbing issues repaired right away. Never try to remove Stachybotrys by yourself. Special equipment and protective wear are required, so schedule remediation by a mold removal professional.
A mold remediation team will ensure any of the above dangers are eliminated from your home. SERVPRO of Cheshire County has been serving the Westmoreland, NH, area since 1978. They offer mold removal services, as well as fire and water damage restoration and biohazard cleanup. They work with both homes and businesses to keep environments safe and comfortable. Call (603) 352-7251 or visit them online to request a quote.
3 Ways to Prevent Pet-Related Fires
Dogs can sometimes jump up on the stove and turn the knobs by accident.
You love your pets and naturally want to protect them from harm. Unfortunately, pets can sometimes cause fires in the home if a few simple precautions aren’t taken. While fire damage repair can help restore your home, it’s best to prevent fires from breaking out in the first place. Here are a few ways you can protect the health of your pets and your family.
What You Need to Know About Pet-Related Fires
- Be Careful With Candles
A wagging tail is a sign of happiness in dogs, but it can also be hazardous around open flames. Pet owners are encouraged to forgo conventional candles for flameless ones. If you do use candles, place them somewhere your pets can’t reach them.
- Safeguard Your Stove
Larger dogs sometimes jump on stoves and inadvertently turn the knobs with their paws. This could result in pets burning themselves, but it can also lead to a fire if there are flammable materials nearby. Along with removing papers, cardboard, and fabrics from around the stove, you should also consider removing the knobs on the stove when away. You can also install locks on the knobs to prevent your dog from inadvertently turning them.
- Use Ceramic or Stainless Steel Water Dishes Outside
While it may seem unlikely, using a glass bowl on a wooden deck for your dog’s drinking water can also be a fire hazard. When the sun’s rays are filtered through water and glass onto the wood beneath, a fire can break out — similar to what happens with a magnifying glass on a sunny day. If a fire occurs on your deck when you're not around, it can easily spread to the home and cause significant destruction.
5 Steps to Take If Your House Floods
Severe weather and flooding can cause serious damage to your home.
Whether due to extreme weather/flooding or a plumbing failure, a flooded house is a serious issue that can have repercussions long after the water recedes. Your first priority during a flood is to get your family to safety, but once the immediate emergency needs are taken care of, it’s time to focus on disaster recovery for your property. To protect your health and safety, below are the first steps to take.
How to Respond to a Flood in Your Home
- Reduce Additional Risks
Electricity can cause additional dangers when your home floods. Even if the power has gone out, if there’s standing water in your home, you might be at risk for electrocution or fire when the power is restored. If you can safely reach the fusebox and turn off the main power line, then do so. If not, call an electrician for help. If it’s only your home that’s flooded, call the gas and sewer companies as well to shut off those lines to prevent more damage.
- Avoid Contact With the Water
Even if the floodwaters appear clean, they could be contaminated with bacteria, sewage, or household chemicals that can make you sick. If you must enter your home for cleanup, use proper protective gear, including boots, hip waders, gloves, and masks. Take care when handling any items that have come in contact with the water, and throw away all food that got wet.
- Take Photos
Before attempting to clean up or make repairs, take photos of the flood and damage. Your insurance company will need them to process your claim, and if you start cleanup before documenting the damage, you could affect your coverage and reimbursements.
- Contact Your Insurance Company
Notifying your insurer as soon as possible after the flood can help speed your claim and get you on the road to disaster recovery sooner. Follow your insurer’s instructions regarding cleanup or repairs. They may request that you wait until an adjuster examines the damage before starting cleanup. If you are located in a designated disaster area, you may be eligible for additional help and funds from FEMA. Your insurance company will help you with that claim.
- Begin Cleanup & Mitigation
Once your insurer gives the go-ahead, you can begin the process of disaster recovery. Because mold can begin to grow within 24 to 48 hours of a flood, it’s best to get professional assistance with cleanup. Without proper mitigation, floods can lead to toxic mold throughout your home, causing significant health risks. Expect to replace any furniture that was saturated, as well as carpeting and drywall.
Water Damage Due to Appliance Failure
A broken dishwasher can cause disastrous residential water damage.
Think of all the appliances in your home that are connected to a water supply. Now think of all oh the hoses, pipes, valves, etc. that can fail unexpectedly. Appliance failures are responsible for more than 30% of all residential flood claims. Dishwashers alone have a 20% failure rate in the first 3 to 4 years of being used typically due to a damaged supply or drainage line. Coming in as one of the top leading sources of residential water damage are washing machines. More than half of all claims are caused by supply hose failure. If your home has a sump pump, there are several ways that it can fail including: loss of power, dirty water, missing/broken valves, frozen/clogged lines, and more. A sump pump failure can be disastrous and cause massive damage to your home. When thinking about toilets, we know that clogging followed by an overflow is quite common, making up about 1/3 of all water damage caused by toilets. Another appliance to periodically check on is the refrigerator, especially ones with an ice maker. These can be easily damaged resulting in possible water buildup, and you will also want to have the water lines inspected annually. There are ways to prepare for water damage such as leak detection systems, especially with a shutoff to the main water supply. Check your hoses, supply lines, valves, etc. annually and plan to replace if you see any damage or cracking.
Make sure to call your local SERVPRO as soon as you discover water damage to reduce further damage to your home.
SERVPRO of Windham & Windsor Counties: (802)-674-8004
Preparing For An Unexpected Hailstorm
Hail can cause severe damage to your car or roof.
Hailstorms can happen year-round and can vary greatly in severity. Hail can be anywhere from .2 inches to 6 inches in size and weigh more than 1 pound. Annually, hailstorms cause close to $1 billion in damages mainly to roofs and cars. While hailstorms are not easily predicted, there are a few ways to prepare for them to lessen future damage. The first thing to check is your roof. You will want to look for any missing or worn shingles and get those replaced. If you know hail is on the way, try and get your car to the garage or a covered area if possible. Hail can be the bigger than a baseball and can fall from the sky up to 100 mph, yikes! During a hailstorm, you will want to stay inside and avoid skylights or any other glass windows/doors in your home. If you haven’t yet, check with your insurance carrier to see what is covered on your current policy and consider adding hail damage.
SERVPRO of Windham & Windsor Counties performing a cleanup project at a local educational facility.
At SERVPRO of Windham & Windsor Counties, we understand the importance of a continuous, uninterrupted class schedule. Even in the event of an untimely disaster, school cancellation should be a minimal concern for an educational facility. SERVPRO professionals are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to assist with fire and water cleanup and restoration for all types of schools. From Kindergarten, to elementary schools, middle and high schools, colleges and universities, dormitories, libraries, day cares, and event or sporting arenas, SERVPRO has them covered. Here's what sets SERVPRO apart from other emergency restoration companies:
- Around the clock availability
- Timely response and assessment of damage
- Proven track record of quality service with other educational facilities
- Clear, concise communication with school officials
- Industry leading equipment and technology
- Industry trained and certified technicians
- Mindfulness of legal and environmental concerns
- Isolate damaged areas from unaffected areas of the facility
- Ability to limit class and schedule interruption
- Confirmation of client satisfaction at time of job completion
Whatever the situation, SERVPRO of Windham & Windsor Counties is here to ensure the main objective of the school staff is to provide valuable lessons and information to its students, and cleanup & restoration can be left to the pros.