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Prevent a Chimney Fire!

1/20/2020 (Permalink)

Flames shoot out of the top of a chimney. A chimney fire can be a fast-moving disaster that destroys your home and puts your family at risk. Avoid a fire in your home by following this advice.

Each year in the U.S. there are 25,000-plus chimney fires, which cause more than $125 million in property damage. A poorly maintained chimney can lead to a fast, loud, terrifying and destructive chimney fire—or a slow, quiet and eventually, equally damaging one.

Either way, you will not be able to control a chimney fire. It’s a true emergency, so call 911 immediately! Because firefighters have to fight the flames from the top of the chimney, they will send water flooding through your house, causing water damage on top of the fire damage. Simply put: you can lose your home to a chimney fire. 

Fortunately, by performing regular maintenance and keeping watch for any signs of trouble, you can prevent most chimney fires. Read this article to understand what a chimney fire is, how it starts and how to stop one from occurring in your home.

Chimney Fires, Fast and Slow

With a fast chimney fire, you’ll first hear cracks and pops that could be as loud as gunshots, followed by a deep, rumbling sound. You’ll see black, flaming creosote falling into the firebox. And then, it’ll seem like an explosion. Flames will shoot out of the top of the chimney and back down into the firebox. Smoke will get pushed into your living space. Finally, the flue may crack, allowing flames to shoot into your walls.

Slow-burning chimney fires don’t get enough air or have enough fuel to burst into plain sight, but they can still be hazardous. You may not even know the fire took place until you get your chimney inspected. Still, the temperatures reached in a slow-burning fire are high enough to cause the same amount of damage to the chimney structure and nearby combustible parts of your home as their louder and more shocking siblings.

What Causes a Chimney Fire?

The job of chimneys that serve fireplaces and wood stoves is to expel the substances produced when wood burns. These by-products of combustion include smoke, water vapor, gases, unburned wood particles and more. These substances exit the fireplace or wood stove at high temperatures and flow up into the relatively cooler chimney, resulting in condensation and the eventual buildup on the inner walls of the chimney of a black or brown residue called creosote. The longer the smoke stays in the flue, the more likely it is that creosote will form. Creosote can be crusty and flaky, or sticky and drippy, or shiny and hardened—and each form is highly combustible. When creosote builds up on the inside of your chimney and the internal flue temperature gets high enough, a chimney fire can start and burn at up to 2,000°F.  

Creosote is more likely to build up in your chimney if your fireplace or stove:

  • is burning unseasoned wood
  • isn’t pulling in enough air
  • has cooler than normal chimney temperatures

What to Do if You Have a Chimney Fire

If you discover a chimney fire, immediately:

  • Get everyone out of the house, including yourself
  • Call 911

If you can do so—only without putting yourself at risk—take these additional steps to help save your home:

  • Place a chimney fire extinguisher or fire suppressant into the fireplace or wood stove, which will consume oxygen and starve the fire
  • Pour sand or baking soda onto the fire in the firebox (keep a bucket of sand nearby for this purpose)
  • Close the glass doors on a fireplace or the air inlets on a wood stove

Once outside, use a garden hose to spray down your roof (not the chimney) to keep the fire from spreading while you wait for the fire department.

Once the chimney fire is completely out, call an expert fire damage restoration company like SERVPRO of West Hartford, who will remove all traces of damage, smoke and soot from your home and possessions.

And before you light another fire, hire a certified chimney sweep to inspect for damage to your chimney and fireplace, whether it’s masonry, prefabricated metal or a wood stove. 

Prevent a Chimney Fire: Regularly Clean and Inspect

Every chimney is vulnerable to a chimney fire. It’s how you maintain your fire-burning equipment that makes the difference and keeps you safe.

Once oily, black, sticky creosote has condensed on the inside of your chimney, it will lurk there, building up and growing into a real fire hazard, until it is removed.

Additionally, rain, wind or animals can carry flammable debris into the chimney, which can quickly fuel a chimney fire if touched by loose embers from a fire. If a chimney is not protected by a flue cap, wind can blow leaves and twigs inside, and birds, squirrels and other vermin can build nests.

The best way to ensure that you never have a chimney fire is by cleaning and inspecting it regularly. A chimney sweep will remove both creosote and any debris that’s in your chimney. In addition, the sweep will inspect your chimney to detect:

  • creosote built up to a honeycombed or puffy appearance
  • warped metal in the damper, smoke chamber or chimney
  • cracked, damaged or collapsed flue tiles
  • discolored and/or distorted chimney cap
  • creosote flakes and pieces on the roof or ground
  • roofing material damaged by hot creosote
  • cracks in exterior masonry
  • soot deposits around mortar joints of masonry or tile liners

Try to have your chimney cleaned and inspected each year before fire burning season starts. (If you haven’t done it yet this season, call today before you light another fire!) 

In addition to scheduling an annual chimney cleaning, you should pay attention to the condition of your chimney and fireplace. Schedule another cleaning when you notice creosote that: 

  • falls into the firebox during a fire
  • resembles a honeycomb on the inside of the chimney
  • is more than 1/4-inch thick

You’ll also want to do more frequent cleanings if you:

  • burn fires more than a couple of times a week
  • use a lot of artificial logs
  • burn green or unseasoned firewood

Prevent a Chimney Fire: Pay Attention

In addition to scheduling an annual chimney inspection, you should watch for these indications that you may be headed for a chimney fire. If you spot any of them, call a certified chimney inspector before you light your next fire.

Buckling brick or stone

Look for cracking or settling of masonry inside the firebox or anywhere on the surround or hearth. Just a small gap can provide a direct route for sparks and high heat to reach the flammable parts of your home’s structure.

Soot in your firebox

If you notice crumbly black soot accumulating in your firebox, that may mean that creosote is building up, so call for a chimney cleaning.

Debris in your firebox

Of even more concern is finding what appear to be broken tile or pot shards in your firebox. Older homes may have masonry fireplaces with terra-cotta chimney liners, so finding these pieces may mean the liner has already been damaged by a chimney fire. Do not use your fireplace until it’s been inspected by a certified chimney sweep.

Smoky odors

If you smell smoke beyond what you’re used to when you use your fireplace—or smell it outside the room the fireplace is in—extinguish the fire and call 911. Your local fire department will check for danger and damage to your chimney with heat-sensing guns or thermal imaging.

Changes in your walls

If heat has been escaping from cracked masonry, a damaged liner or an improperly installed prefab metal firebox, your home’s wood framing can become dry and charred and capable of igniting at a much lower temperature. Signs of excessive heat inside your walls include pictures falling off the wall or areas of bubbling or peeling paint. Call for an inspection if you see any of these changes.

Prevent a Chimney Fire: Prepare Your Fireplace

Beyond cleaning and inspecting your chimney and keeping an eye on potential trouble spots, you should always follow some best practices in preparing your chimney and fireplace or stove so that it burns efficiently and safely, every time.

Keep the damper open to maintain sufficient airflow during a fire (the damper is the metal plate in the flue that regulates the draft). This will allow enough air to quickly move heated smoke up the chimney. Likewise, when using a wood stove, avoid closing down the stove damper or air inlets too soon or too much. Overloading the firebox of a wood stove in an attempt to get a longer burn time also contributes to creosote buildup.

Insulate your chimney’s flue liner (the layer between the flue and chimney walls) to prevent flue temperatures from getting too cool, which can encourage fire by-products to condense and form creosote. Wrap a heat-resistant insulation blanket around the liner or pour an insulation mix such as vermiculite into the space between the liner and flue.

Install a chimney cap on the crown around the outside opening of the flue to keep debris and critters out of your chimney. A cap will also prevent acidic rainwater from entering and corroding the chimney. 

Prevent a Chimney Fire: Burn Fuel That’s Clean, Never Green

When you start a fire, you want it to burn hot, fast and clean to create far less smoke, vapor and unburned wood particles, allowing little to no creosote to form in the chimney. On the other hand, low-temperature, slow-burning fires, particularly those left to smolder overnight, produce more smoke and leave behind more unburned combustible material. When that hardens into creosote on the chimney walls, there’s an increased risk of chimney fires.

Use the right fuel and build your fire the right way by following these tips.

Always burn seasoned hardwood. That means the wood has dried for at least six months and has a moisture content of 20 percent or less (you can test this with a wood moisture meter). When you burn green or unseasoned wood, energy is used initially just to evaporate the water trapped in the logs’ cells. This, in turn, keeps the resulting smoke cooler and more likely to condense in the chimney and form creosote.

Use the best fire starters for fuel, kindling and tinder, such as well-seasoned hardwood or CSIA-approved logs. Never use gasoline and kerosene to start a fire—these flammable liquids can quickly create a conflagration. And burn coal only in a coal-burning wood stove, because it can significantly raise the temperature in the flue, increasing the risk of a chimney fire.

Build a clean fire by using the top-down burn method, in which the largest logs are at the bottom of the fire and the smallest pieces at the top. Start by placing the largest pieces of wood in the bottom of the fireplace or wood stove, with the ends at the front and back, which allows the air to mix well with the fuel. Next, stack four to five smaller levels of wood on top of the first layer, each layer perpendicular to the one below, until the stack is about half the height of the fireplace. Then place kindling (the smallest pieces of wood) in smaller and smaller pieces, adding wood shavings or crumpled newspaper on top. Light the material on the top and the fire will gradually burn its way down to the largest logs.

Use dried twigs or branches for kindling and torn or crumpled newspaper or pine cones for tinder. Cardboard or glossy magazine pages contain chemicals that can emit toxins when burned.

Enjoy a Happy Ending to Your Fire

Before retiring for the night or leaving your home, always extinguish your fire safely and thoroughly. Use a fireplace poker to spread out the wood and embers, then shovel ash from the bottom of the fireplace to cover them. Next, completely cover the cooled wood and embers with baking soda, which will extinguish any remaining embers. After the firebox cools (for a minimum of three hours, but preferably eight), shovel the ashes into a metal container. Fill the metal container with water and store it outside your home and away from other flammable materials until you’re ready to discard them.

Enjoy your clean and safe fireplace, avoid a chimney fire … and live happily ever after!

Sources: Chimney Safety Institute of America, The Spruce, This Old House, Bob Vila

If your home or business suffers damage from a fire, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141

We’re Here for You

The team at SERVPRO of West Hartford has specialized training and experience in fire restoration and cleanup, as well as natural disaster and storm damage cleanup, water damage and mold remediation, and chemical and biohazard cleanup. Call SERVPRO of West Hartford (860.206.6141) any time.

Other Helpful Blog Posts

SERVPRO publishes educational articles on how you can protect your home and business from fire, water, mold, sewage, storm, natural disaster and other damage.

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SERVPRO of West Hartford
100 Peters Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
IICRC Certified
Ralph DiCristofaro 
Certified SERVPRO technicians
Call 860.206.6141
24-hour emergency service

If your home or business suffers damage from a fire, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141

Commercial Restoration by SERVPRO

11/27/2019 (Permalink)

The interior of a banquet hall with water and drying equipment on the floor. SERVPRO of West Hartford gets you back to work fast after your business suffers a water, fire, storm, mold or other disaster.

If your business has suffered a water, fire, smoke, mold, storm, biohazard or other disaster, one call to SERVPRO of West Hartford will get you back in operation as soon as possible. Regardless of your property type or size, SERVPRO of West Hartford will respond quickly to clean your property and manage your restoration project through to its completion.

We handle all aspects of your commercial disaster remediation job:

We Minimize Downtime and Lost Revenue

SERVPRO of West Hartford has the training, experience and equipment to handle large commercial emergencies, and we are ready for your disaster. We know that the time spent cleaning up your commercial business site means lost revenue and productivity for you, so we act fast, bringing the right resources and staff to halt the damage and get you back in action as quickly as possible.

We start with an expert evaluation of the damage, based on which we determine the right mix of resources to assign to your disaster. Our skilled project manager then oversees a team that takes your facility through the entire remediation process quickly and thoroughly, and communicates with you all the way.

Our Emergency Building Services

We provide emergency building services to help prevent and reduce damage and get your property restored faster. Once the initial threat to your commercial facility has been halted, one of your first concerns may be temporary protection to prevent the existing damage from growing worse. SERVPRO will make temporary fixes, like placing tarps over a damaged roof or boarding up a broken window, while together, we plan the permanent repairs.

Speed, Reliability and Comprehensive Service

Commercial businesses depend on SERVPRO of West Hartford because:

For commercial water, fire, smoke, mold, storm or other disaster restoration needs, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141

Help Is Here

The team at SERVPRO of West Hartford has specialized training and experience in water damage restoration services, fire and smoke damage restoration services, biohazard cleanup and natural disaster prevention and cleanup. Call SERVPRO of West Hartford (860.206.6141) any time.

Other Helpful Blog Posts

SERVPRO publishes educational articles on how to protect your home or business from disasters and how to deal with water, sewage, storm, mold, fire and other damage.

SERVPRO of West Hartford
100 Peters Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
IICRC Certified
Ralph DiCristofaro 
Certified SERVPRO technicians
Call 860.206.6141
24-hour emergency service

For commercial water, fire, smoke, mold, storm or other disaster restoration needs, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141

Stay Warm—and Safe—With a Space Heater

11/27/2019 (Permalink)

A space heater is plugged into an outlet. Space heaters are a great way to ward off the chill. But they do bring risks, so please follow these safety guidelines to prevent a fire in your home!

Space heaters cause about one-third of all winter house fires and 80 percent of all winter heating fire deaths, and more than half of those deaths are caused by having combustible materials too close to the heater. 

The good news is that space heaters are getting safer and more efficient. Many of today’s space heaters are not just better-looking but also safer. In the past 10 years manufacturers have improved technology and added built-in safety features like a tip-over shut-off switch.  

Be Safe

Follow these simple safety rules to greatly reduce or eliminate any space heater hazards.  

  • Use newer space heaters, not older models.
  • Always buy a new—never used—space heater.
  • Only buy a space heater that has a safety certification from the Underwriters Laboratories or Intertek’s ETL Mark.
  • Don’t leave your space heater on when you’re not in the room.
  • Plug your heater directly into an outlet, not an extension cord or power strip. Those devices could overheat and start a fire.
  • Keep a three-foot perimeter around the space heater clear of people, furnishings or objects.
  • Never store clothing around or on the heater. Don’t place it too close to curtains or a bed.
  • Keep children and pets away from the space heater. Either could knock it over.
  • Unplug the heater when you’re not using it.

Safety Features to Look For in a Space Heater

Certification. Make sure the heater you buy carries a safety certification label from an independent testing organization, such as the UL mark, the ETL label from Intertek or certification from CSA International.

Shutoff features. A smart sensor that automatically shuts off a heater when it overheats is a must. You’ll also want a tip-over switch that does the same if the heater is knocked over.

Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) plug. Most space heaters don’t come equipped with a GFCI plug, which prevents electric shock. If yours does not, do not use it around water.

Sturdy cord. To prevent overheating, never use an extension cord or a power strip with an electric heater. Most space heaters come with a cord that’s 6 feet long.

If your home or business suffers damage from a fire, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141

We’re Here for You

The team at SERVPRO of West Hartford has specialized training and experience in fire restoration and cleanup, as well as natural disaster and storm damage cleanup, water damage and mold remediation, and chemical and biohazard cleanup. Call SERVPRO of West Hartford (860.206.6141) any time.

Other Helpful Blog Posts

SERVPRO publishes educational articles on how you can protect your home and business from fire, water, mold, sewage, storm, natural disaster and other damage.

SERVPRO of West Hartford
100 Peters Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
IICRC Certified
Ralph DiCristofaro 
Certified SERVPRO technicians
Call 860.206.6141
24-hour emergency service

If your home or business suffers damage from a fire, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141

Choosing and Maintaining a Sump Pump

11/27/2019 (Permalink)

A sump pump in a pit. Halt basement flooding in its tracks by purchasing a quality sump pump and keeping it humming with annual maintenance.

During a storm, after heavy rain or if a pipe bursts in your home, you could get a flood of water in your basement, causing lots of damage to your structure and possessions. Having a well-operating sump pump can keep the flooding to a minimum.

A sump pump sits either beneath or above the floor of your basement and pumps out water that collects in the sump basin, discharging it to the outdoors.

Follow these guidelines when buying a sump pump:

  • If your sump basin has the space, choose a submersible pump over a pedestal pump. Submersible pumps allow the sump pit to be covered with a lid, which reduces pump noise and keeps the pit free of debris.
  • Buy a pump with a cast iron—not plastic—core. Cast iron helps to dissipate heat to the surrounding water, lengthening the life of the pump.
  • The pump should have a no-screen intake design coupled with an impellor that can handle solids up to ½-inch in diameter. This will minimize the chance of clogs.
  • The switch should be mechanical, not a pressure switch, and the float should be solid.
  • Consider a pump with an alarm that tells you when the water reaches a certain level.

You can install the pump yourself or hire a professional.

Annual Maintenance for Your Pump

Ensure your peace of mind by performing routine maintenance each spring. Do these tasks at least once a year to keep your sump pump humming:

  1. Clean and lubricate the pump. Unplug the pump, disconnect it from the discharge pipe and pull the pump out of the sump. If there is a screen at the pump’s base, hose away any debris and rinse off its housing. Lubricate the pump bearings, if required.
  2. Inspect the check valve. If the internal flap doesn’t swing freely, flush it out. If you see mineral deposits, soak the valve in vinegar.
  3. Test the float switch. Pour a few gallons of water into the sump to see if it comes on and pumps out the water. If it doesn’t, repair or replace the switch.
  4. Press the outlet’s test and reset buttons (per code, a sump pump has to be plugged in to a GFCI receptacle).
  5. Got a backup battery? Top off its cells with distilled water.

If your home or business suffers a flood, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141 for immediate water damage cleanup and restoration of your structure and property

We’re Here for You

The team at SERVPRO of West Hartford has specialized training and experience in water damage remediation, fire restoration services, natural disaster prevention, chemical cleanup, and natural disaster cleanup. Call SERVPRO of West Hartford (860.206.6141) any time.

Other Helpful Blog Posts

SERVPRO publishes educational articles on how to protect your home or business from disasters and how to deal with water, sewage, storm, mold, fire and other damage.

SERVPRO of West Hartford
100 Peters Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
IICRC Certified
Ralph DiCristofaro 
Certified SERVPRO technicians
Call 860.206.6141
24-hour emergency service

If your home or business suffers a flood, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141 for immediate water damage cleanup and restoration of your structure and property

Why and How We Remediate—Not Remove—Mold (Part 2)

11/25/2019 (Permalink)

A worker wearing a protective mask and clothing cleans up mold. SERVPRO of West Hartford has the specialized training, technical expertise and advanced technology to remediate even the worst mold disaster.

You read in Part 1 of this series the reasons why SERVPRO doesn’t claim to remove mold—because it’s an impossibility. Now learn how we use our advanced knowledge, training and equipment to remediate mold disasters, whether they happen in a home or a commercial space.

Every incidence of mold damage requires a unique solution, but the general mold remediation process stays the same. Mold cleanup and restoration begins when you call us. Our representative will ask a series of questions to help us determine the right mix of equipment, resources and personnel. With that information, SERVPRO’s expert mold remediation team goes to work.

1. Inspect and Assess Mold Damage

We carefully inspect your property for visible signs of mold. Mold feeds on cellulose and water and can be hidden from plain view. We use advanced technologies to detect mold and hidden water sources.

2. Contain the Mold

We turn off all fans and heating/cooling systems, then our professionals use various containment procedures to prevent the spread of mold. This may include negative air chambers to isolate the contaminated area with physical barriers or negative air pressure to keep the mold spores from spreading during the cleanup process.

3. Filter the Air

Our specialized filtration equipment captures microscopic mold spores out of the air. We use powerful air scrubbers and HEPA vacuums to prevent the spread of these mold spores while the work is underway.

4. Remove Mold and Mold-Infested Materials

We use antifungal and antimicrobial treatments to eliminate mold colonies and to help prevent new colonies from forming. If necessary, we’ll remove and dispose of mold-infested porous materials, like drywall and carpeting, to remediate heavy mold growth.

5. Clean Contents and Belongings

We use a variety of cleaning techniques to clean and disinfect your furniture, decorative items, curtains, clothing and other restorable items affected by mold. Then we remove odors with fogging equipment.

6. Complete the Restoration

Depending on the level of mold damage, drywall, subfloors and other building materials may have been removed. Restoration may involve minor repairs, such as replacing drywall, painting and installing new carpet; or it may entail major repairs, such as the reconstruction of various areas or rooms in a home or business. We will restore your home or business back to normal—“Like it never even happened.”

When you have suffered a disaster at your home or business, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141

Help Is Here

The team at SERVPRO of West Hartford has specialized training and experience in water damage restoration services, biohazard cleanup, fire and smoke damage restoration services and natural disaster prevention and cleanup. Call SERVPRO of West Hartford (860.206.6141) any time, night or day.

Other Helpful Blog Posts

SERVPRO publishes educational articles on how to protect your home or business from disasters and how to deal with water, sewage, storm, mold, fire and other damage.

SERVPRO of West Hartford
100 Peters Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
IICRC Certified
Ralph DiCristofaro 
Certified SERVPRO technicians
Call 860.206.6141
24-hour emergency service

When you have suffered a disaster at your home or business, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141

Why and How We Remediate—Not Remove—Mold (Part 1)

11/25/2019 (Permalink)

Mold colonies grow on a windowsill When you discover a mold infestation at your home or business, you need an expert mold remediation company like SERVPRO of West Hartford.

Many restoration businesses advertise “mold removal” and even guarantee to remove all mold. However, since microscopic mold spores exist naturally almost everywhere, indoors and outdoors, removing all mold from a home or business is simply not possible.

At SERVPRO, we understand mold and we have the right approach, training and equipment to remediate the mold in your home or business.

The Facts about Mold

  • Microscopic mold spores float in the air, and they may enter your home through windows, doors or AC/heating systems. They may even be carried into your home on your clothing or a pet.
  • Even a small leak, spill or humid area can lead to mold growth.
  • Mold spores thrive on moisture and can quickly grow into colonies when exposed to water. 
  • Mold can spread through your property in as little as 48 hours.
  • Mold often produces a strong, musty odor, tipping you off to its presence.
  • If you don’t eliminate sources of water or moisture before mold remediation begins, the mold may return.
  • Higher than normal indoor humidity can support mold growth, so keep indoor humidity below 45%.

We Have Specialized Training and Equipment

SERVPRO of West Hartford’s experts have advanced specialized training and certifications that make a difference when you have suffered a mold disaster at your home or commercial property:

  • Applied microbial remediation
  • Water damage restoration
  • Applied structural drying
  • Odor control
  • Upholstery and fabric cleaning

When we are called to your home or business for mold remediation, we have at our disposal the latest and most comprehensive arsenal of tools to resolve your disaster:

  • Moisture detection and measurement equipment: Our specialized equipment detects, measures and monitors a property’s moisture levels. We even use infrared cameras to help us identify water through a wall, ceiling or floor.
  • Water extraction equipment: Our powerful extraction equipment speeds the drying process by removing the bulk of the water from your home or business.
  • Drying equipment: Our industrial-strength high-speed air movers and dehumidifiers remove the remaining moisture from ceiling, walls and floors.

SERVPRO also uses special products to disinfect and stop the growth of bacteria, fungi, mildew and other harmful microorganisms.

Part 2 of this series details the rigorous steps SERVPRO of West Hartford follows to complete the mold remediation process at your home or business.

When you have suffered a disaster at your home or business, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141

Help Is Here

The team at SERVPRO of West Hartford has specialized training and experience in water damage restoration services, biohazard cleanup, fire and smoke damage restoration services and natural disaster prevention and cleanup. Call SERVPRO of West Hartford (860.206.6141) any time, night or day.

Other Helpful Blog Posts

SERVPRO publishes educational articles on how to protect your home or business from disasters and how to deal with water, sewage, storm, mold, fire and other damage.

SERVPRO of West Hartford
100 Peters Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
IICRC Certified
Ralph DiCristofaro 
Certified SERVPRO technicians
Call 860.206.6141
24-hour emergency service

When you have suffered a disaster at your home or business, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141

Avoid Water Damage by Maintaining Your Plumbing Ecosystem

11/25/2019 (Permalink)

A water heater in a basement Periodic maintenance of your plumbing system and the appliances connected to it will help prevent a water disaster at your home.

We often take our home plumbing systems and the appliances connected to them for granted, as they work efficiently through the years. But when something goes wrong, you can experience a major and costly water disaster. Tend to these four areas of your plumbing ecosystem periodically to help prevent that happening in your home.

1. Prevent plumbing system failures

  • Call a professional if you notice signs of a plumbing problem—an increased monthly water bill, banging pipes, rust stains, moisture in the walls or on the floor and signs of wet soil erosion near the foundation. If caught early, you can prevent many thousands of dollars of water damage.
  • If your home’s sewer system is connected to the city’s sewer system—a particular problem for older homes—or if you are located downhill or below street level, contact a plumbing professional to install a backflow prevention valve into your sewer system.
  • Never pour grease down the drain.

2. Inspect and maintain your water heater

  • Inspect your anode rod every two years (or every year once the warranty has expired) and replace it if needed.
  • Flush the water heater tank every six months to remove sediment by attaching a garden hose to the valve at the base (first turn off the power and run hot water until it is cool).
  • Annually, hire a plumbing professional to inspect the water heater, including the shut-off valve and all piping. Broken valves, loose or wet joints and rust are signs of impending failure.

3. Maintain washing machine supply lines

  • Each month, inspect your hot and cold washing machine supply lines. Look for signs they may be ready to fail—blisters in the hose, worn tubing, stress cracks or loose connections.
  • Replace the supply hose with a reinforced steel braided hose if it shows any sign of wear.
  • Tighten the connection if it feels loose. The most common site of failure is near the connection where the hose bends.
  • Replace supply hoses with reinforced steel braided hoses every five years, even if there is no obvious deterioration or wear.

4. Prevent toilet failure

  • After you flush, wait for the valve to completely finish refilling the tank and bowl. If an overflow looks imminent, lift off the tank cover and lift the float to shut off water flow to the tank, then reach down and close the supply valve.
  • Twice a year, inspect a toilet’s components, such as the fill, supply and flush valves, and the supply line. Make sure you can turn off the supply. Replace older screw-type valves that are leaky or hard to turn with simpler ball valves that are easy to shut off quickly.

If your home or business suffers a flood, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141 for immediate water damage cleanup and restoration of your structure and property

We’re Here for You

The team at SERVPRO of West Hartford has specialized training and experience in water damage remediation, fire restoration services, natural disaster prevention, chemical cleanup, and natural disaster cleanup. Call SERVPRO of West Hartford (860.206.6141) any time.

Other Helpful Blog Posts

SERVPRO publishes educational articles on how to protect your home or business from disasters and how to deal with water, sewage, storm, mold, fire and other damage.

Source: Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety

SERVPRO of West Hartford
100 Peters Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
IICRC Certified
Ralph DiCristofaro 
Certified SERVPRO technicians
Call 860.206.6141
24-hour emergency service

If your home or business suffers a flood, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141 for immediate water damage cleanup and restoration of your structure and property

Two Essential Fire Prevention Products

11/25/2019 (Permalink)

A smoke detector is surrounded by smoke You vastly increase your chances of surviving a house fire when you install and maintain smoke detectors and a fire sprinkler system.

About 80% of the 4,000 annual fire deaths in the United States occur at home. Two key products that can help protect your home and family from a devastating fire are smoke alarms tied to a central alarm system and automatic fire sprinklers.

Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms provide crucial minutes to escape a fire safely, cutting your chance of fire death nearly in half. There should be at least one smoke alarm installed on every level of your home, including the basement, and one inside each bedroom.

Hard-wired smoke alarm systems can maximize the alarms’ effectiveness; when one alarm detects a fire, the others will sound automatically, too, alerting everyone to the fire. Consider having a hard-wired system connected to a central alarm network that will also signal the fire department.

Remember: smoke alarms that don't work can't protect you. All smoke alarms, including hard-wired ones, need batteries (which enable them to operate during power outages). Maintain your home’s smoke alarms with these timely tasks:

  • Test your alarms monthly.
  • Change the batteries each year.
  • Replace smoke alarms that are ten or more years

Automatic Fire Sprinkler System

An automatic home fire sprinkler system is the single most effective way to minimize a fire's impact on a home and its residents. It can contain and even extinguish a fire in less time than it takes firefighters to arrive on the scene. A sprinkler system can also be tied into the central alarm network, which will alert the fire department if a sprinkler goes off. Cities that require residential sprinklers, such as Scottsdale, Arizona, have seen a dramatic drop in fire deaths and property damage.

And, contrary to what many people think, home sprinklers are actually quite cost-effective, particularly when installed during new construction (they add, on average, only 1 to 1 ½% to the total cost of building a new home).

People often underestimate fire's power and speed and overestimate the time they have to escape. That’s why installing and maintaining these two essential products—hard-wired smoke alarms and a home fire sprinkler system—can make a life-saving difference for your family.

Source: This Old House

If your home or business suffers damage from a fire, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141

We’re Here for You

The team at SERVPRO of West Hartford has specialized training and experience in fire restoration and cleanup, as well as natural disaster and storm damage cleanup, water damage and mold remediation, and chemical and biohazard cleanup. Call SERVPRO of West Hartford (860.206.6141) any time.

Other Helpful Blog Posts

SERVPRO publishes educational articles on how you can protect your home and business from fire, water, mold, sewage, storm, natural disaster and other damage.

SERVPRO of West Hartford
100 Peters Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
IICRC Certified
Ralph DiCristofaro 
Certified SERVPRO technicians
Call 860.206.6141
24-hour emergency service

If your home or business suffers damage from a fire, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141

Fight Winter Water Damage

11/22/2019 (Permalink)

Icicles hang from the roof and gutter of a home A few basic steps, taken before and during winter, will really help you prevent costly winter water damage to your home.

Here comes another New England winter—and here comes the increased chance of damage to your home from water leaks. Burst pipes, storm damage, rooftop ice dams and other cold-weather hazards all put your home at risk. Withstand the challenges and stay water-tight by following these tips.

Prepare Your Home for Winter

Do these tasks to help prevent damage to your home from floods and leaks—and even from tree branches and too much snow on your roof. They are all winter hazards!

  • Clean out your gutters.
  • Disconnect and drain outside hoses. Close inside valves supplying water to outdoor faucets and hookups. Once the water supply is turned off, open the outdoor faucets to allow residual water to drain, and keep them open during the cold weather months.
  • Trim back tree branches that could get weighed down with ice or snow and fall on your house—or your neighbor's.
  • Hire a contractor to repair roof leaks and determine if it can sustain the weight of a heavy snowfall.

Keep Your Pipes Too Warm to Freeze

Frozen water expands and puts pressure on pipes, which can cause them to burst. You may not even know right away that you have a burst pipe until it thaws out and the leaking and flooding start.

You can prevent a damaging leak from a burst pipe—and save money on your heating costs, too—when you do these common-sense tasks before the cold season.

  • Wrap water pipes in your basement or crawl spaces with insulation sleeves.
  • Insulate walls and attics, and caulk and weather-strip doors and windows.
  • Set your home’s temperature set to 55 degrees or higher. Make sure your furniture doesn't block your heating vents. Close your fireplace flue when you're not using it.

During cold spells, take some additional steps:

  • Open cabinet doors in the kitchen and bathroom so that warm air circulates around pipes.
  • Allow a slow trickle of water to flow through faucets connected to unheated or exposed pipes.
  • If you will be away from your home during cold periods, consider draining the water system.

Avoid Ice Dams

When water from melted snow refreezes above your eaves or in the gutters, it can seep in under the roof, soaking interior walls. These are ways to prevent ice dams from forming on your roof:

  • Adequately ventilate and insulate your attic.
  • Clear your gutters and downspouts of leaves and debris.
  • Consider having a water-repellent membrane installed under your roof covering.

If your home or business suffers a flood, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141 for immediate water damage cleanup and restoration of your structure and property

We’re Here for You

The team at SERVPRO of West Hartford has specialized training and experience in water damage remediation, fire restoration services, natural disaster prevention, chemical cleanup, and natural disaster cleanup. Call SERVPRO of West Hartford (860.206.6141) any time.

Other Helpful Blog Posts

SERVPRO publishes educational articles on how to protect your home or business from disasters and how to deal with water, sewage, storm, mold, fire and other damage.

SERVPRO of West Hartford
100 Peters Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
IICRC Certified
Ralph DiCristofaro 
Certified SERVPRO technicians
Call 860.206.6141
24-hour emergency service

If your home or business suffers a flood, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141 for immediate water damage cleanup and restoration of your structure and property

How and Why SERVPRO Has Grown

11/22/2019 (Permalink)

A SERVPRO truck is parked in front of an office building SERVPRO has the experience, trained workers and equipment to handle the toughest disaster remediation jobs.

When a natural disaster strikes your home or business, you want to rely on a cleanup and restoration company you can trust. You need the resources—the experience, personnel and equipment—of a real pro to do a high-quality job in a short timeframe. That’s SERVPRO of West Hartford.

Many of our satisfied customers choose SERVPRO because of our history of successful restorations and outstanding service. It’s no surprise that Entrepreneur Magazine has ranked SERVPRO the #1 franchise opportunity in the restoration services category for the past ten years!

SERVPRO was formed by Ted and Doris Isaacson in 1967 as a painting business in Sacramento, California. They grew the company and become a franchisor of cleanup and restoration specialists. Within twenty years, they had grown to almost 650 franchises, and by 2000, they had 1,000 franchises. Today there are more than 1,800 SERVPRO franchises across the country, helping residential and commercial customers recover from water, fire, storm, biohazard and other disasters.

Growth like that doesn’t happen by accident. It’s because SERVPRO:

  • Trainsand equips employees to handle any disaster and keeps them current with the latest techniques and technologies.
  • Empowers employees to put the customer first and get the job done right.
  • Works closely with insurance companies, property managers and local fire/police to make our clients’ lives better fast.

When you have suffered a disaster at your home or business, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141

Help Is Here

The team at SERVPRO of West Hartford has specialized training and experience in water damage restoration services, biohazard cleanup, fire and smoke damage restoration services and natural disaster prevention and cleanup. Call SERVPRO of West Hartford (860.206.6141) any time, night or day.

Other Helpful Blog Posts

SERVPRO publishes educational articles on how to protect your home or business from disasters and how to deal with water, sewage, storm, mold, fire and other damage.

SERVPRO of West Hartford
100 Peters Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
IICRC Certified
Ralph DiCristofaro 
Certified SERVPRO technicians
Call 860.206.6141
24-hour emergency service

When you have suffered a disaster at your home or business, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141