Recent Posts

Ice dams cause water damage to Sandy Hook homes this winter

1/8/2018 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Ice dams cause water damage to Sandy Hook homes this winter Ice dams can allow water to leak into the walls and ceiling of your home, causing water damage to your sheet rock and insulation. SERVPRO can help.

After the snowfall and freezing temperatures we have experienced in the last week, it looks like we will have a brief respite from winter's wrath. One concern that Brookfield homeowners may have after the storm is ice dams that may have formed on their roof.

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof.  Typically, this happens after a snow storm, when there is a pile of snow sitting on the roof above your attic. After the weather warms to above 32 degrees and melts the snow, it causes the top layer to form into a mound of ice. The water trickles down between the layer of snow and the shingles until it reaches the eave of the roof, which stays cold because it extends beyond the side of the house. There, the water freezes, gradually growing into a mound of ice.

An ice dam can damage both your roof and the inside of your home because when the ice dam reaches its capacity, it begins to make its way under the shingles. When the ice melts, it drips into your home.  The walls, insulation and ceilings of your home can become damaged. If left untreated, mold can also become an issue. 

If your Fairfield County home has an ice dam, there are some steps that you can take to remove it.

1. Remove the ice dam by breaking it free in small pieces by tapping it gently with a blunt mallet. Work slowly and carefully so that you do not damage your shingles.

2. Use calcium chloride ice melter to weaken the ice. This will melt its way down through the dam, clearing a path for the underlying water to drain. Do NOT use rock salt, as it will damage paint and metal. 

The SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County team is trained and equipped to restore Fairfield County homes that have water damage from ice dams. Call us at (203) 743-5362 if you have damage to your roof from snow and ice this winter.

Fuel spills in Sherman homes and businesses are biohazardous

1/5/2018 (Permalink)

Biohazard Fuel spills in Sherman homes and businesses are biohazardous Regular inspection of your oil tank and its lines for leaks, corrosion and wear will reduce your risk of a malfunction causing a spill in your home.

Home heating oil spills happen more often than you would think. They can occur from a variety of reasons, including damage to your New Fairfield home's oil tank or lines,  loose lines or even an accidental overfill from your delivery company. 

A heating oil spill can potentially cause environmental and structural damage to your home as well as cause health issues to those living there.  

The primary actions that a homeowner can take in reducing their risk of an oil spill is to have their oil tank inspected and follow some guidelines.  

  • Check all of your pipe connections to make sure they are clean and tight. 
  • Check the condition of the tank and lines. Any signs of spillage such as dark spots on the floor or drips on the tank, rust or wear should be followed up on.  
  • Confirm that the legs and the ground beneath your above-ground tank is stable. Tanks have tipped and spilled due to being unbalanced.  

If you do have an oil spill in your home or business that was due to an error by your oil delivery company, contact them immediately as they may take responsibility for the clean up. 

We recommend that you leave the building until it has been deemed safe to be in. You can call your local fire department to determine if there is an explosion hazard. 

Oil spills must be cleaned up by a professional restoration company. SERVPRO of Newtown & Southern Litchfield County has responded to several oil leaks a year for the past twenty years and has the experience and training to do it right. Call us at (203) 743-5362 if you experience an oil leak in your Fairfield County home.  

Oil burner malfunctions cause puffbacks in Bethel, CT homes

12/31/2017 (Permalink)

Biohazard Oil burner malfunctions cause puffbacks in Bethel, CT homes This photo shows the difference between cleaning with liquid after a puffback as compared to cleaning the SERVPRO way.

During the wintertime, we receive several calls a month from homeowners whose oil burner has caused a puffback. What in the world is a puffback, anyway? Most people have never even heard of this phenomenon until they experience one! 

A puffback occurs when an oil burner misfires or malfunctions, sending soot and debris throughout the home.  It can happen as a dramatic, one time event or over time as a result of repeated burner mis-firings. The debris from this explosion travels through the air duct system, spreading black, oily soot throughout the home.  

We're not talking about a fine, dust-like ash here. Soot from furnaces is a sticky substance that is very difficult to remove. It will most likely have covered walls, all surfaces, soft furnishings and even the inside of your walls and closets. 

Soot removal from a puffback is not a do it yourself project. Traditional methods of cleaning will simply smear and spread the oils, further damaging your home and possessions. 

If you have a puffback, there are three calls that you need to make: 

First, call your oil burner repairman and have them come repair the problem.  

Second, call your insurance company to report the event.  

Third, call SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County to clean up the mess! We have the training, the experience and the equipment to clean it up right and make it "Like it never even happened."

Below zero temperatures can cause pipes to freeze and burst in New Fairfield

12/27/2017 (Permalink)

Water Damage Below zero temperatures can cause pipes to freeze and burst in New Fairfield The pipes in this New Milford home burst due to inadequate insulation in the soffits. Both the garage and the bonus room were affected by water damage

With the thermometer dipping into negative degrees this week, pipes in Litchfield County homes are at risk of freezing, especially because many homes are vacant while families travel for the holidays. 

Although pipes can freeze anywhere in your home, there are some areas that are more susceptible than others.

1. Your Crawlspace - Many older homes in CT have a crawlspace rather than a full basement. These are typically not insulated and the pipes are exposed to the environment. Lining the sides of the space with foam board and the ground with plastic can help. You may also consider installing a heat cable that runs along the pipes and is turned on when the temps drop. 

2. Under the Kitchen Sink - In particular, sinks that are on an exterior wall tend to experience frozen pipes. An easy solution to this is leaving your cabinet doors open to allow the warm air in the home to circulate.

3. Bonus Rooms Above the Garage - Most bonus rooms are built above an unheated garage. They are exposed to the cold air (especially along the exterior walls). Keeping the temperature in your garage above freezing with the use of space heaters on frigid days can help. 

Frozen pipes can happen to anyone. We have responded to water damage from burst pipes in houses built in the 1700's as well as homes that are new construction. We've seen it all and have the experience to restore your home quickly and thoroughly. If you have a pipe burst, give us a call at (203) 743-5362

Choosing the right Christmas tree can reduce your risk of a house fire

12/18/2017 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Choosing the right Christmas tree can reduce your risk of a house fire Failing to take safety precautions can cause your Christmas tree to catch fire

For many families in Litchfield County, the start of the Christmas season is marked by picking out a live Christmas tree from one of the area’s wonderful tree farms. For some, the annual ritual of the family venturing out into the cold together to find that perfect tree for their home, cutting it themselves and tying it to the roof of the car cannot be replicated with an artificial tree.

We appreciate a live tree ourselves however have also seen in over twenty years in the fire and damage business the devastation caused by a tree that has caught fire. When showcasing a live tree in your home, the combination of tree dryness, electrical malfunction with lights and poorly located heating sources can make for a deadly combination. If your holiday is not complete without a live tree, follow these safety precautions this month.

1. Choose your tree carefully: Fresh trees are less likely to catch fire, so look for a tree with vibrant green needles that are hard to pluck and don’t break easily from its branches.  The best trees that retain moisture the longest are Fraser fir, Noble fir and Douglas fir. Eastern red cedar and Atlantic white cedar rapidly lose moisture and should be used only for a week or two.

2. Location, location, location: Always place your tree away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights, and keep the tree base filled with water to avoid a dry out.

3. Check your lights: Check old lights for any fraying of the wires. Do not overload light strands or electrical outlets. Also keep in mind that miniature and LED lights produce less heat than larger ones and will reduce the drying effect on trees.

4. Keep it watered: Choose a tree stand that holds at least a gallon of water and be sure to keep it full at all times.

5. Unplug your lights every night and when you leave the home. This will reduce the drying effect of lights and reduce the risk of the tree igniting unnoticed.

6. Take down the tree before it dries completely. A tree that is totally dry has needles turned a greenish gray and all needles and twigs break with a crack or crunch when crushed. In some tree species, you will see a needle drop but always do the crush test to be certain.

Have a kitchen fire action plan when you are cooking this month!

12/5/2017 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Have a kitchen fire action plan when you are cooking this month! Can you easily find the fire extinguisher under this sink? Seconds count when you have a kitchen fire so keep your extinguisher in a handy place!

Fires that are started from cooking equipment are the number one cause of home fires in the United States. Cooking fires are the most common cause of injury from fire as well.  According to a recent study by the National Fire Protection Association, 47% of home fires were caused by cooking.  

It's December and with holiday baking and entertaining guests, most of us will be using our kitchens more often than usual. It only takes a moment of forgetfulness for a fire to start in your kitchen and your holidays interrupted.  We've discussed ways to avoid kitchen fires in the past. It is also important to know how to extinguish the different types of fire.  

Grease fires are the most common type of kitchen fire. Never attempt to extinguish a grease fire with water, as that can cause the fire to spread. The easiest way to smother a small grease fire is to cut off its oxygen source by covering the pot with a lid. If the fire is too large to safely do this, a Class B fire extinguisher should be used if available. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher, baking soda can be used in a pinch. 

Don't let your Christmas cookies catch fire – keep your oven clean to avoid a grease fire inside and set a timer when baking. If you do have an oven fire, it should be extinguished with a fire extinguisher. 

If you have an electrical fire from your toaster or another appliance, unplug it if you can safely do so and smother the fire or use a fire extinguisher.  

The common thread to all of the advice in this article is that you should act quickly, avoid the use of water and know where your fire extinguisher is and how to use it! This alone can keep the damage a stove top fire causes contained, rather than your entire home being affected. 

Even if you are successful in quickly extinguishing a kitchen fire, there might be soot and smoke that requires professional removal. Call SERVPRO of Newtown & Southern Litchfield at (203) 743-5362 to come out and quickly make your kitchen "Like it never even happened". 

Fact or fiction? We bust some common cold weather myths!

11/28/2017 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Fact or fiction? We bust some common cold weather myths! Yes! Your tongue will stick to a frozen flagpole on a cold New Milford day!

Cold weather is here in Connecticut! Will your tongue REALLY stick to a flagpole?? Let's bust some of the urban legends about dropping temps without having to try them out ourselves! 

MYTH #1: We lose most of our body heat through our heads. 

FALSE! Although this myth has been commonly accepted as a fact, even being written in the U.S. Army Survival Manual in 1970, modern science disagrees. You are no more likely to lose body heat from your head than from your arm. However, it is a place that often goes uncovered and thus, you may lose heat from your head because of that. So, follow Grandma's advice and wear a hat!  

MYTH #2: Your vehicle tires will go flat. 

TRUE! For every 10 degrees the air temperature changes, your tire pressure will drop 1 psi. So, keep an eye on your tires and be prepared to add some air to your tires if there is a sudden temperature drop! 

MYTH #3: Mice will move in to your house when it gets cold. 

TRUE! You may see signs of them all year round, however when the temps drop mice will go from visitor status to residents inside your home. Seal up cracks, especially where your electrical lines and pipes enter the home to make it a bit harder for mice to get in.  

MYTH #4. If you stick your tongue to a flagpole, it will freeze there. 

And the answer, according to the  livescience webpage is TRUE! They've done an in depth study and you can read the science of why this is true on their webpage. So, the next time someone triple dog dares you, politely decline!  

Winter storms are on their way and may cause pipes to burst and power outages in Connecticut.

11/27/2017 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Winter storms are on their way and may cause pipes to burst and power outages in Connecticut. Snowstorms, and the frozen pipes and damaged roofs they bring, can cause water damage to New Milford area homes.

Benji. Inga. Mateo. Wilbur.

These are some of the storms that are coming our way this winter in Brookfield.  The Weather Channel, which has been naming snowstorms for a few years (having followed the practice of the NOAA's naming of hurricanes), named all of this year's snowstorms after a 2016 list of popular baby names.  

Snowstorms are followed closely by our team here at SERVPRO of Newtown & Southern Litchfield County. A strong nor'easter can cause trees and their limbs to fall. When a tree limb falls on a home, it often causes damage to the roof and allows snow and water to enter the home. Our crew provides emergency board up services to prevent further water damage.  Our restoration team restores Fairfield County homes and businesses from water damage that results as well.

High winds and the weight of snow and ice on the limbs can causes a tree to fall on a power line. This can cause a power outage that will result in the loss of heat for many homes as well. With oil burners and electrical heat sources not functioning, homes are at risk of  pipes freezing and bursting. This can cause widespread water damage. A crack of only 1/8 of an inch will allow 250 gallons of water to flood out in just one day! Water from burst pipes can cause substantial damage including the collapse of ceilings and walls in a home.

It is extremely important that a qualified restoration service be called as soon as possible to clean up the water and damaged materials. Quick action can allow us to save more of your belongings and prevent secondary issues, such as mold.  

Be prepared for the coming snowstorms this winter! Have an emergency supply kit ready and keep our number - (203) 743-5362 - on hand in case you have storm damage to your Litchfield County home. 

This Thanksgiving, and every other day, we are grateful for our employees.

11/23/2017 (Permalink)

General This Thanksgiving, and every other day, we are grateful for our employees. All of us at SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County wish you the happiest Thanksgiving!

Parades. Pie. Getting together with family and friends for a lovingly prepared meal. The start of the holiday season and the goodwill that accompanies it. There are so many reasons that we love Thanksgiving. It's the perfect time to reflect on what we are thankful for. In keeping with that tradition, our owner Kristen White shares her gratitude for her employees.

"I am thankful for all my employees who work hard every day to help people. Sometimes the crew has to deal with a difficult situation such as a septic overflow or sewage damage. They clean it without complaints. That's dedication! Our office staff sometimes has to deal with difficult situations on the phone when a homeowner calls and their house is under water. The staff is cordial and helpful to these customers. Many of our employees have been with us a number of years and I am so grateful to them for their loyalty!  I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

Icemaker supply line leak causes damage in New Milford home

11/21/2017 (Permalink)

Water Damage Icemaker supply line leak causes damage in New Milford home We always try to save your flooring if it is possible. By using our floor mat system, we are able to remove moisture from hard wood floors.

We write quite often about frozen pipes, toilet overflows and flooded basements, all of which are common causes of water damage in Litchfield County homes. Another very common call that comes into our office is from home and business owners who have had a supply line leak. Supply lines are the water lines that connect to appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers and toilets.  

Built in ice maker supply lines are a big culprit when it comes to water damage. Who would ever think to inspect and maintain their ice maker line annually? Yet, usually due to a cracked hose or a loose compression nut, we receive a few calls every month due to these leaks.  

We recently received a call from a New Milford homeowner who had been away from their home for the weekend. When they returned, they noticed puddled water on the hardwood floors of their kitchen.  A closer inspection revealed that the water was coming from behind their fridge. 

Our crew arrived at the home shortly after the phone call and our crew chief Davi inspected the home. He found that the water had not only damaged the kitchen flooring, it had also made its way down to the basement below. Our restoration plan included the removal of the dropped ceiling in the basement as well as the insulation. We had to remove a small area of the wood flooring in the kitchen as well as some of the wallboard and baseboard molding. Using our drying mat system, we were able to remove the moisture from most of the wood flooring. Dehumidifiers and air movers were used to dry everything out. 

It was stressful to come home to water damage in their kitchen but by calling SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County, these New Milford homeowners received fast and professional restoration of their home.