Recent Posts

Restore or Replace? Determining What Can Be Kept After Water Damage in Your Home.

9/11/2019 (Permalink)

Part of our jobs when we are working in a home that has water damage is helping the homeowner and insurance adjuster determine what items in the home can be saved and restored and which need to be discarded.  Our team assists our customers in determining which of their possessions are salvageable, and which cannot be saved. 

We go through the contents of a home on a piece by piece basis and while each item is a unique case, we do use a few factors to determine whether it gets boxed, sent to our facility for cleaning or put in the dumpster.

The type of water that has flooded the home is an important factor in determining what stays and what goes. Clean water does not pose as much of a health hazard as potentially contaminated water does. If there is concern that water is contaminated from sewage or chemicals, we are unlikely to suggest it be cleaned. It's not worth the risk.  

Typically, porous fabrics such as mattresses, pillows, carpeting and particle board cannot be salvaged. They absorb water quickly and are breeding grounds for mold spores to grow.  However, there are cases in which we are able to clean area rugs and wood if we are called to the job quickly and the piece has not become oversaturated.  

Our ability to be on the job quickly helps us minimize damage to personal possessions that have water damage. The perfect example of this is wooden furniture. It takes quite a fit of time for it to really absorb and become completely water logged. If you get  personal belongings out of the standing water and begin the drying process right away, you have a good chance of being able to save them. 

The SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County team has the experience in caring for the belongings of your Sandy Hook home. We understand that it can be difficult to part with treasured items, and do our best to help save them. If you experience a flood, calling us immediately at (203) 743-5362 will help minimize the damage. 

Reduce the Risk of Fire at Your Commercial property

9/3/2019 (Permalink)

fire extinguisher with its parts labeled Check your businesses fire extinguisher to reduce your risk of fire damage.

Brookfield businesses can not afford to have their doors closed for a lengthy period of time due to fire damage.

As a business owner, examining your risk and taking preventative measures as well as educating your employees on procedures can help reduce the damage to your facility. 

Assess the risk that fire hazards may pose to your business. The National Fire Protection Association offers handbooks and other publications on the fire safety code in place for businesses.  You can also call your local Connecticut fire department and ask the fire marshal if they are available to make a visit and identify any risks.  

Maintain your sprinkler system.  An  automatic sprinkler system will dramatically reduce the spread of a fire in your business as well as keep your employees and customers safe. Have your system properly maintained and inspected so that it works when you need it! 

Check your smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. Standard fire safety practices call for smoke detectors and fire extinguishers on every floor. Your best bet is multipurpose extinguishers, which will douse most small fires with ease, without shorting out your electronics. 

Educate your employees. Make sure all employees are aware of your fire safety plan by conducting a yearly fire drill and educating new employees.  Training in how to use fire extinguishers should also be conducted.  

With caution, you can reduce the risk of fire at your commercial property. 

SERVPRO Technicians Have Advanced Training in Mold Damage Remediation

8/28/2019 (Permalink)

man in Servpro shirt sitting at a desk in a training class Production Manager Mario has been trained by the IICRC in Applied Microbial Remediation

One of the most common searches on the internet that is combined with the word "SERVPRO" is the word "mold". Home and business owners in the Fairfield County area are concerned about the mold that they see or suspect might be in their home or office. Consumers are aware that mold can cause negative health risks and are searching on the internet for a company who can help them assess their situation. 

An important factor in the growth of our company and giving our customers the highest level of service is providing our technicians with the necessary training.  The reality is that not all restoration companies have provided their employees with top tier levels of specialized training like ours does. 

At SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County, we believe that an investment in education for employees is money well spent. Our team participates in IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification) training courses throughout the year. The IICRC sets the standards for the cleaning and restoration industries. The mission of the IICRC is to promote high standards and ethics within the inspection, cleaning and restoration service industries and to advance communication and technical proficiency.   

Two of our production technicians, Mario and Anthony, recently attended an IICRC training course called The Applied Microbial Remediation Technician training. In this course, the guys received specific training in mold and sewage remediation.  The course covered topics such as containment planning and strategies, microbiology basics, respiratory protection, bird and bat droppings, biocide uses, how to safely work in confined spaces, sampling and more.  It may not sound like fun to most people, but they came back from the course excited about the new information they learned.

Above all else, trust is the most important factor in our business. When you have experienced damage to your home, it's important to know that your restoration company is fully capable and working in your best interest. At SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County, we value doing the job right. We make the investment and take the time to provide continuing education to our employees so that they can best serve you.

If you have a mold infestation in your home that requires remediation, give us a call at (203) 743-5362

Hoarding Can Cause Homeowner's Insurance Claims to be Denied

8/21/2019 (Permalink)

Piles of clothing, papers and other garbage in the home of a hoarder. Hoarding in a home can cause your homeowner's insurance company to deny claims and even cancel your policy.

A hoarding situation in your home or that of a loved one can be a sensitive and emotionally challenging experience.

Nobody plans on becoming a hoarder and, unfortunately, the situation is often severe before action is taken.  Not only does hoarding present a health risk due to the dangerous and unsanitary conditions created by clutter, it can also cause your homeowners insurance claims to be denied or your policy to be canceled. If a claim arises out of negligence or failure to maintain your home, your homeowner’s insurance company might determine that the damages are not covered.   

If you are concerned that hoarding might affect your homeowner’s insurance coverage, consider whether your home might be susceptible to one of the following dangers. 

  • Water Damage – The homes of hoarders have a raised risk of water damage. Because of the lack of access, plumbing and roof maintenance is often limited. Also, water damage is often not discovered because it is hidden away behind all of the stuff.   Unnoticed structural issues such as rotted windowsills and roof leaks allow water damage to occur unnoticed.  
  • Fire – Much of the clutter in the home of a hoarder is flammable. Stacks of papers, boxes and other flammable materials create a dangerous fire risk. These objects are often stored next to heating vents, power outlets and in the kitchen, where they are likely to catch fire. Because a cluttered house is difficult to clean, the kitchen area also presents a fire risk with its greasy build up and accumulation of trash.  
  • Mold – Because of the likelihood of untreated water leaks as well as excessive trash, mold will often grow and spread in the homes of hoarders. Mold caused by a lack of maintenance is not covered under the majority of homeowner’s insurance policies.  
  • Pests – Along with the trash, unsanitary conditions and clutter, bugs and mice can live in the home of a hoarder unnoticed. This causes damage to walls, wiring and even the structure of the home.  
  • Blocked Exits – When contents pile up in a house, they make their way down hallways, in front of windows and even doorways. This causes a dangerous situation as emergency personnel cannot easily enter nor make their way through a home in order to treat an ill person or put out a fire.  

If there is a hoarding situation in your home, you know that it needs to be dealt with sooner than later. 

Our professional hoarding cleanup services include the removal of contents of your home, including the sanitization and temporary storage of items to be kept.  Our technicians will treat any water and mold damage that exists, as well as remove and replace damaged materials such as carpeting, walls and flooring.  

If you have concerns about the clutter in your home, call our office at  (203) 743-5362 for a confidential inspection and analysis of your situation.

Don't Be a Statistic: Ways to Avoid an Appliance Fire in Your Home

8/15/2019 (Permalink)

Dryer lint is one of the leading causes of appliance fires.

Statistics kept by the National Fire Protection Agency(NFPA) reveal that there were 501,500 structure fires reported in the U.S. in 2015. These fires resulted in 2,685 deaths, 13,000 injuries, and $10.3 billion in property damage; $7 billion in property losses were caused by home fires. Based on these statistics, a fire was reported every 63 seconds.

Electrical distribution and lighting equipment fires account for 9% of all fires in U.S. households. Knowing which appliances in your household are most likely to cause a fire can help you reduce the chance that it will happen to you.

Dishwashers. If you have ever opened your dishwasher up immediately after the dry cycle is done, you know how hot it gets in there. There are heating elements inside of your dishwasher that dry your dishes. They get a lot of wear and tear as they repeatedly heat up, get wet and cool down. If the element is faulty or has damaged wiring, a fire can easily start.

Many of us don't think to have our dishwashers inspected but it could be a good idea, especially if your house or your dishwasher is more than ten years old.

Dryers. Most of the people I know are aware that the lint trap can be a fire hazard if not cleaned out. The lint can also make its way into the vent and block it so be certain to clean it out fully, each time, including under the lint tray.

If clothing that is contaminated with combustibles like gasoline are put in the dryer, they can start a fire. The same goes for items that contain chemicals that are flammable such as rubber backed rugs or sneakers.

If the exhaust vent for your dryer is improperly installed, blocked or crushed, the inability for heat to escape can cause a fire as well.

Toasters.The toaster is a small appliance that can cause big damage. The cord can become crimped or caught under the element, which can cause it to melt. A failure to clean out the crumb tray is also a culprit in many toaster fires.

With the electricity running to each appliance every day, it's no surprise that fires can occur. In addition to the reasons discussed above, there is also the reality that sometimes a manufacturing fault causes an appliance fire. When it comes down to it, the best thing that you can do to protect your home from fire damage is to only run appliances when you are home. In particular, never run a dryer or dishwasher when you are out and unplug appliances such as the toaster, microwave and coffee maker when not in use.

Nobody ever plans on being the statistic. While not all house fires can be prevented, these simple steps can reduce the chance of it happening to you.

Why Do We Always Say "Call Us Immediately"?

8/6/2019 (Permalink)

We realize that, at times, we may sound like a broken record.   

“Call us immediately” 

“Act quickly” 

“Do not delay” 

We admit that we stress this point repeatedly however, because it is so important, we probably won’t stop talking about it. Why is getting help as quickly as possible such a consequential factor when you have a flood? In this blog post, we provide you with a water damage timeline to help you see how quickly a small flood can turn into a major problem.  

Water Damage Timeline 

In the First Hour:

  • Water will quickly move throughout the dwelling, saturating everything in it's path.
  • Stains or finishes that are on furniture that gets wet will be released. This can cause staining to the carpeting and flooring of your home. Additionally, any furniture that is moisture sensitive, such as antiques or unfinished materials, will be affected.
  • In particular, paper goods are vulnerable in the first hour. Due to their porosity, it doesn't take long for water to render books and documents unsalvageable.
  • Artwork that is hanging on your walls can be permanently damaged when water drips down the walls in that first hour. 

The First 24 Hours:

  • Drywall, which is found on the walls and ceilings of most Connecticut homes, gets saturated and begins to disintegrate. Many people discover their water leak only after the ceiling is already on the floor. That's how quickly this can happen. 
  • You will notice a musty smell and normal household odors grow stronger. 
  • Any uncoated metal surfaces, which are vulnerable to moisture in the air, will begin to tarnish.
  • Your furniture may begin to show signs of damage. In particular, laminated furniture and flooring will begin to swell and crack due to the moisture. 
  • Free-floating laminated flooring may also begin to pop out of place due to swelling.

48 Hours to 1 Week: 

  • The 'clean water' situation will have been upgraded to a 'gray water' intrusion.
  • You will notice an earthy smell in the home, which is caused by standing water as well as building materials and contents that have begun to decay.
  • Because of the high moisture levels, fungi, mold and mildew will begin to grow at this time, especially on porous materials such as sheetrock and carpeting. 
  • Wood building materials begin to show signs of damage as they swell, warp and split. You will notice this on window frames, wall moldings, the interior doors in your home and even studs and joists at this time. 
  • Rust and corrosion will begin to occur on metal items. 
  • Electronics in the home will begin to malfunction. 
  • Wood flooring and furniture begin to swell from the saturation. 
  • The Indoor Air Quality in the structure is compromised and health hazards can become an issue. Occupants of the home who are at risk due to health issues may begin to experience negative health effects.

More Than 1 Week: 

  • A 'black water' situation is most likely the case at this time due to the growth of bacteria and other harmful contaminates in the home. 
  • Mold spores will spread quickly and begin to break down natural materials, wallpaper, wood paneling, and other building materials
  • The structural safety of the home is in question as wood building materials are compromised.
  • The air quality in the home can pose a danger to all inhabitants.
  • The costs associated with your insurance claim exponentially rises.  The demolition and replacement of, rather than the restoration of, damaged materials becomes necessary. 
  • Our water damage restoration crews will be required to wear personal protection equipment in order to work in your home. 

If you have a water leak in your home, give us a call as soon as it is discovered to minimize the damage to your home.  

Common Causes of Refrigerator Leaks in Newtown Homes

7/30/2019 (Permalink)

A leaking refrigerator can cause substantial water damage to your Brookfield area home.

Although refrigerator leaks are often caught quickly if they occur while you are home, if you happen to be away when your refrigerator develops he problem, the damage can be widespread. The flooding can cause damage to wood floors, walls, furniture and even through the ceiling to the floors below.  There are preventative steps homeowners can take to reduce their risk of an appliance leak.  

  1. Make sure your ice maker water supply line isn't kinked and is securely fashioned. Improperly installed water supply lines can also cause flooding. 
  2. Inspect to see that the defrost drain isn't blocked or partially clogged. If this is the case, you might notice ice build up inside your freezer. If you notice this happening, clear the drain with hot water and remove any debris or food with a stiff brush or wire hanger. 
  3. Check the connection between the water filter and the water supply. This can cause a leak in refrigerator models with a filtering system.

If you have flooding from a refrigerator leak in your Bethel, CT home, give SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County a call at (203) 743-5362. Our team has over twenty years of experience in water damage restoration in Connecticut.

#waterdamage #SERVPRO #flood #flooding

Crime Scene Clean Up and Restoration in Fairfield County

7/26/2019 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County safely cleans up biohazardous substances such as blood, fecal matter and vomit.

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.

Has Your Electric Bill Been High This Summer in Brookfield?

7/14/2019 (Permalink)

Choosing LED lightbulbs for your home can help lower your electric bill.

Lately, we've heard many Brookfield area residents lament that they are experiencing an increase in their electricity bills.

There are ways to help your bank account and reduce that bill by making your home more energy efficient. As an added bonus, these steps protect the environment as well!  

Based on national averages from the U.S. Department of Energy, utility bills are result of the following usages.  

44% from heating and cooling a home 

33% from lighting, cooking and other appliances 

14% from water heating 

9% from the refrigerator alone 

Many utility companies conduct energy audits for free or for a nominal charge, so you can see where your heating or cooling systems may be costing you money.  An audit might come with a recommendation for a new heating system or upgrade with energy efficient appliances, which will pay off in the long run.  

There are some inexpensive actions that can be taken as well to reduce energy consumption. 

  1. Have your ducts inspected. Many duct systems are not simulated properly and are not energy efficient. This is especially true within the attic or vented crawl spaces of the home, so sealing these ducts and insulating them is an easy repair. Also, closing vents and radiators in rooms that are not occupied can save up to 20% in heating and cooling costs. Keep in mind that you don’t want to keep the vents closed during extreme temperatures or you can risk your pipes freezing.  
  2. Take advantage of the heat from the sun. In the winter, open window shades on the southern and eastern windows during the day and close them when the sun goes down to keep the heat from escaping. Doing the opposite during warm months will keep your home cool.  
  3. Install a programmable thermostat to lower the heat when you are sleeping or the house is unoccupied. This can save up to 10% on your energy costs.  
  4. Carefully choose the settings on your appliances. Switching the temperature setting on your washing machine from hot to warm can cut a load's energy use in half. Also, consider your appliance placement. Having your refrigerator adjacent to your stove will increase energy consumption.  
  5. Change out your lightbulbs with energy efficient bulbs. The Newer LED lightbulbs are dimmable and have a soft glow that is similar to incandescent bulbs. Ultra efficient LED technology can save up to $140 over bulb life.
  6. Check your electronics. Turn off computer monitors overnight- they use 50% of the system's energy. Unplug battery chargers when not in use- they consume energy even when they aren't charging a device.  
  7. Turn off the lights! Yes we've all heard this our whole lives but it truly does save energy and you money! 
  8. Plant a tree. Not only does this make your yard look beautiful and give us oxygen, the shade is a fantastic way to cool your home in the summer months. Trees to the east and west of the house provide summer shading, while the area to the south of the house should be left relatively clear in order to allow solar heating in winter

The Dog Days of Summer

7/10/2019 (Permalink)

Vinegar and lemons frozen into ice cube trays are a fantastic way to clean your kitchen sink disposal.

Dog days; the sultry part of the summer, supposed to occur during the period that Sirius, the Dog Star, rises at the same time as the sun: now often reckoned from July 3 to August 11. a period marked by lethargy, inactivity, or indolence.(dictionary.com)

We are certainly in the midst of the "dog days of summer" here in Litchfield County, Connecticut. The thermometer has risen to the 90's and it seems that everybody's energy levels have taken a bit of a dip. Our crew members have been working hard through the heat, with several challenging attic mold jobs this past month. 

Yard work is assigned to the early mornings and evenings in weather like this. We prefer to use the "dog days" to stay indoors and accomplish some often neglected housekeeping tasks. 

Check your washing machine hoses.

We advise that you replace them if you find any cracks or bulges. Ideally, rubber hoses can be replaced with a steel-jacketed hose that can't split open Also check your filter screens to confirm that they are not clogged. If not discovered quickly, hundreds of gallons of water can flood out of a burst hose an hour. 

Sort and organize the pantry

How does the pantry always become so unorganized? Pull over your garbage can and a box for food to donate. Pull everything off of your pantry shelves and determine it's future. Those opened and half empty boxes of food that were lost in the back are probably destined for the garbage. Food that has been in your pantry for over a year might be better appreciated at a food pantry. Secure open items you plan to re-shelve in glass jars or ziploc bags to keep them fresh and bug free. Wipe down your shelves and reload.

Clean kitchen sink disposal.

We recommend using vinegar and lemon ice cubes to clean your disposal. Put some vinegar and cut up lemons into an ice tray and let it freeze, then run the ice cubes through the disposal.  Not only does the vinegar clean and freshen the disposal unit, but the ice also sharpens the blades!

Don't forget to take a cue from the dogs and take time to relax and cool down!