Picking the Right Christmas Tree Can Help Keep Your Home Safe
While the picture might be classic, placing your tree this close to a fireplace is a fire hazard.
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.
Winter Weather Causes Frozen Pipes in Newtown
The weather is a very important factor in our work here at SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County. Snowstorms are followed closely by our team here as we know that frozen pipes, heavy ice and strong winds will require our crews to be on call and ready to go. 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.
Frozen Pipes Cause Water Damage? We're Here to Help!
The most common call we get in the winter here in the New Fairfield, CT area is from customers whose pipes have frozen and burst. Often, a homeowner isn't aware that their pipes have frozen and they walk into their home after a thaw to a flood. As devastating as this might experience can be, there are steps that can be taken to minimize the damage while you wait for help to arrive.
Turn off your water and electricity.
If you live in a house, turn off your water supply (and don't wait until a pipe bursts to locate it!) as well as the electricity to the area of the house where the burst has occurred. If you live in an apartment building or condo, be sure to alert your building manager immediately as the water could also affect neighboring units.
Place a catch bucket under the leak
If water is coming through the ceiling, place a bucket or garbage can under the leak to catch the water. If the ceiling is bulging or the leaking is widespread, piercing a hole in the sheetrock will allow the water to flow through one spot.
Drain your pipes
Run all of the faucets throughout your house with cold water to clear as much water from the pipes as possible. Flush the toilets as well. Turn off your hot water heater and run the hot water from all faucets.
Call a plumber
Again, preparing ahead will work in your benefit. It can be difficult to find a plumber who is immediately available to respond to your frozen pipe emergency. Choosing and establishing a relationship with a local Litchfield County plumber ahead of time will go a long way in getting quicker service.
Call SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County
Our water mitigation team will respond quickly and begin the clean up process. The sooner we are called to dry the home out and remove wet sheetrock, carpets, flooring and other materials, the less the damage can spread and cause additional problems.
Call your Insurance Agency
The sooner you submit a claim, the quicker you will be reimbursed for payments made to plumbers and contractors. Our experienced office staff, Keri and Bianca, will handle insurance negotiations and paperwork from our end so that you don't have to.
Discovering that your home is flooded because of frozen pipes can be a stressful experience. We've been told by many customers throughout our twenty years as a franchise that having our team come out quickly and efficiently mitigate the damage has taken much of the stress out of the situation. Give us a call at (203) 743-5362 24/7 if your pipes freeze this winter in the Brookfield area!
Dripping Water From Your Ceiling and Down the Wall? It Could Be an Ice Dam.
Freezing temperatures and snow (and ice) will be upon us soon and with them, ice dams.
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.
With the Winter Chill Comes Furnace Puffbacks
Many people have never heard of a furnace puff back until they experience one themselves.
A puff back is an explosion inside the burner chamber of the furnace or boiler. Puff backs can occur due to an oil burner malfunction in which the burner doesn't ignite immediately and oil fumes are allowed to build up before ignition, causing an explosion when the furnace turns on. Puff backs can also be caused by a partially clogged or cracked nozzles, improper nozzle angle, cracked electrodes, poor adjustment of the air-fuel mixture, a defective spark transformer, shorted ignition cables or dirty or low-grade fuel. Regular maintenance can help Litchfield County homeowners reduce the risk of a furnace puffback.
The aftermath of a puffback is the soot and streaks that the explosion blew throughout your home. Often every surface – including carpeting, furniture, walls and drapery - is covered with this black, sticky substance that includes a mixture of oil that is very difficult to remove from any surface. Cleaning up after a puffback is not a do it yourself job- it requires professional cleaning to remove the soot that is spread throughout your home. Do not attempt to clean the soot itself – household cleaners are not effective against soot and may make the problem worse. For example, attempts to wash soot off of a flat-painted wall or ceiling usually leave greasy smears.
At SERVPRO, we use proprietary tools and cleaners that absorb the soot without spreading it. Luckily, puffback's are usually covered under your homeowner's insurance.
If you experience a furnace puffback, call your SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County office at (203) 743-5362. Our smoke and fire damage specialists have the equipment and training to quickly return your home to a safe, clean, and comfortable environment for you and your family. We're faster to any disaster and are dedicated to responding immediately so that you can recover quickly, with less disruption to your life.
IICRC Certified: Why it Matters.
When seeking a fire, water or mold restoration company in the Fairfield County area, it's important to choose a reputable company whose employees have been highly trained. A poorly conducted restoration can cause a home or business to have secondary problems such as mold down the line.
SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County is an IICRC certified restoration firm. The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) creates the standards for the restoration industry and provides training and certification to restoration companies. IICRC Certified Firms have the right to display the IICRC Certified Logo.
IICRC Certified Firms must
• Present accurate information to consumers and conduct business with honesty and integrity.
• Require a technician on all jobs who has been formally trained and passed all required tests.
• Require a continuing education program to keep technicians up-to-date on the latest changes in the industry.
• Maintain liability insurance to protect all parties in the event of an accident.
• Maintain a written complaint policy and agree to Better Business Bureau or similar arbitration to resolve disputes, and accept the conclusions and recommendations of arbitration.
The IICRC Develops The Standards For The Restoration Industry
The IICRC has been the driving force in establishing the main industry standards and reference guides for professional carpet cleaning, water damage restoration and mold remediation. These IICRC standards take years to develop and require the coordination of experts in the field: manufacturers, industry organizations, insurance professionals, training schools, contractors, and public health professionals.
Every five years, the standards are reviewed and updated. The water damage restoration field changes rapidly with advancements in technology and science, and therefore the standards must evolve to keep pace.
About SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County
SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County specializes in the cleanup and restoration of residential and commercial property after a fire, smoke or water damage event. Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration and we are an IICRC Certified Firm. We believe in continuous training: from initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO’s corporate training facility to regular IICRC-industry certification, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property.
It's the Perfect Time to Get Ready for Winter Storms
I know that we are all basking in this beautiful autumn and don't want to think about winter yet, but it's actually the perfect time to get your home and yard ready for winter. Put the following items on your to-do list for the next few weeks.
Oil Burner Servicing - If you have not already done so, make an appointment to have your oil burner serviced. This is recommended on an annual basis. Having the burner tuned up and cleaned of dust and grime that has accumulated improves system efficiency, which means better heating performance and lower heating costs. It also minimizes the risk of your oil burner requiring a major emergency repair in the midst of freezing temperatures. At SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County, we respond to many homes each winter that have water damage due to frozen pipes caused by a malfunctioning oil burner.
Wood Stove and Fireplace Cleaning - Many of our customers heat their homes with wood or pellet stoves and fireplaces throughout the Connecticut winter. These alternatives to oil heating provide what is often a more affordable source of heat. We recommend that you check your fireplace for any signs of excessive soot, cracks in the chimney and that your chimney cap is secure. Have your chimney swept annually to avoid soot buildup, or creosote. A blocked chimney can cause a chimney fire, which is not always easily detected. These can spread quickly through the walls and roof of your home and result in massive damage to your home. A blocked chimney or a chimney with an improperly functioning flue can also cause a buildup of carbon monoxide, putting those inside your home at risk.
Prepare the outside of your home - Trim trees with branches that are low laying and may be an issue when covered with snow and ice. Snow and ice causes them to be heavy and possibly cause damage to your home during winter storms. Also, check your gutters to make sure they are free of leaves and debris so that they can function properly. If ice dams on your roof have been an issue for your Sherman home in the past, consider installing roof heat cables that help snow and ice melt on your roof before causing water damage inside your home.
At SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County, we are ready 24 hours a day to respond to your call. If you do experience a frozen pipe that bursts or a chimney fire or puffback this winter, call us at (203) 743-5362.
Crime Scene Clean Up
Part of our job is cleaning homes in which a homeowner may have experienced a crime, trauma and sometimes death. It is a vulnerable time for the family filled with confusion and emotion. We approach each family and home with empathy, care and respect. This is not "just a job" to us. We can't undo what has happened however we can do our part in restoring your space and your peace of mind.
Our team is trained in cleaning up blood, bodily fluids, and crime scene residues that can endanger anyone who comes in contact with them. Even microscopic amounts of these pathogens can be a danger to health. We are experienced in working in cooperation with local police and health departments in properly cleaning, disinfecting and disposing of biohazardous materials.
Exposure to biological and chemical contaminants can pose serious health consequences and we take our responsibility in doing such cleanups seriously. Our crew has been trained to safely remove biohazards according to OSHA and health department regulations.
If a traumatic event has occurred at your home or business and you require discrete assistance with the cleanup, call our office at (203) 743-5362.
How is Your Commercial Property at Risk?
The relationship with a restoration company for commercial property owners is an important one.
When water damage strikes a business, it’s vital for the owner to have a restoration company that they know is locally owned, reliable and trustworthy come mitigate the damage. Whether you manage an apartment complex or own a local store, you need a quick and professional clean up so that your business is minimally impacted.
You never know when water damage will occur. Yes, flooding after a storm or during the spring snow melt is common source of water damage however you would be surprised at some other causes of water damage in Connecticut businesses.
Malfunctioning sprinkler systems.
We frequently receive calls from owners of commercial properties- from warehouses to nursing homes- in which the sprinkler system has gone off and flooded the building. This can be caused by a faulty sensor, broken thermal element or sprinkler head and allow thousands of gallons of water to flood the structure and cause substantial damage.
Damaged appliances and equipment.
In particular, restaurants, hotels and catering facilities are susceptible to water damage due to a broken appliance however this can pertain to any commercial property that has appliance. If the appliance fails and sends water across your building, especially during late hours when no one is around, you may come back to work and face a water emergency.
Backed up sewer lines.
This is another cause of commercial water damage that often catches business owners by surprise. Should the sewer line to your building back up or become damaged, the potential dangers of the contaminated, or "black", water. Black water can have negative health consequences to residents and employees as well as and damage the structure and contents of your building.
Whether it’s a simple crack from the aging process or a frozen pipe that freezes, commercial properties are just as at risk of widespread damage from a broken pipe as residential properties are.
If you own a commercial property in Litchfield County and have water damage, call us as soon as possible at (203) 743-5362 for immediate service.
How Long Will it Take?
How long will it take to dry out my house?
It's the question on everybody's mind when the SERVPRO team is called to your home after a water damage. And it seems like it should be an easy answer however there are a number of variables that can affect how quickly the restoration of your home will take.
When our team arrives at your home, we begin to document the cause of water damage, the extent of damage, and all surfaces involved. We then formulate a water damage restoration plan using a software program that is designed determine the number of air movers, air scrubbers and dehumidifiers are required to begin the drying process.
Of course, our team knows that there is more to this work than technical specs and we don't completely rely on a computer system. Our property managers utilize their decades of experience restoring homes and businesses after water damage in determining a treatment plan.
So, to answer the question - when will it be dry? On average, a typical house will be dry in about four days, depending on the extent of the damage. For example, vacant homes usually have more severe damage and mold may have begun to grow before the water damage was discovered, necessitating more extensive treatment.
We all want the restoration work to be done quickly and efficiently. Our crew works as a team to do the job right and allow you to go back to your normal routine as quickly as possible.