Be Prepared: The Difference Between Winter Storm Watches, Advisories and Warnings in Connecticut
Knowing the difference between a winter storm watch, advisory and warning can help you stay safe this winter.
We have entered that time of year in Connecticut when the weather channels will start to warn us that there is a Winter Storm Watch, Warning or Advisory. Rarely will a week go by without one of these warnings in Connecticut. If you've wondered what the difference is between the three, here you go!
A WINTER STORM WATCH is the first level of warning. It signifies that conditions are favorable to produce winter weather: snow, sleet, freezing rain, icy roads and the like. These conditions may or may not occur, but the weather service is alerting residents to the possibility. In Connecticut, heavy snow means 7 inches or more of accumulation in 24 hours or less. A winter storm watch is a long range prediction. They are issued at least 12 hours before the hazardous winter weather is expected to begin. When the storm becomes imminent, or has a high probability of occurring, the watch will be upgraded to a "WARNING".
A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY is the second level of warning - a middle man between the watch and warning. It is issued when winter weather is likely to create a hazard. Generally, the weather service is expecting snow, sleet, freezing rain, icy roads and other dangerous conditions. You may see a specific Wind Advisory or a Freezing Rain Advisory issued when these conditions are likely to be coming our way.
A WINTER STORM WARNING means that a winter storm is either expected soon or already taking place. Heavy snow, white-out blizzards, sleet, high winds and significant ice accumulations may be imminent, and residents should prepare immediately for deteriorating conditions. This is issued when a dangerous combination of heavy snow, with sleet and/or freezing rain, will occur or has a high probability of occurring within the next 12 hours.
And in the Bethel area, we're bound to see a BLIZZARD WARNING a few times over the season.This is issued for a combination of strong winds averaging or frequently gusting to, or above, 35 miles an hour and very low visibility due to blowing or falling snow. These are the most dangerous winter storms and can be especially severe when combined with temperatures below 10 degrees.
Of course, as we all know in Fairfield County, the weather can change hour by hour so your best course of action is to check updates regularly and prepare for the worst!
Simple Steps That Can Help You Prepare Your Brookfield Home For WInter
Don't leave your house out in the cold- prepare it for winter to avoid ice dams, frozen pipes and chimney fires.
Most of the leaves are on the ground in Litchfield County and we've already seen some of that white stuff falling from the sky. It's time to switch gears and settle in for the long, cozy New England winter. Now is the time to take a few steps to ready your Bethlehem, CT home for the months to come.
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.
After The Storm: What Can Be Saved?
When a home has experienced water damage after a storm, wet materials such as sheetrock and carpeting are typically not salvageable.
Excess water, whether it be from a hurricane, frozen pipes after a snowstorm or seepage into a basement after heavy rains, causes more than structural damage. Not only has a home been affected by flooding, often the contents of a home are damaged as well. SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County crew members assist 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.
Tips to Reduce the Risk of Black Mold in Your Newtown Home
Opting for hard flooring such as tile or laminate flooring in your basement will reduce your risk of mold growth.
Mold is everywhere in our environment.
It occurs naturally and at normal levels, it is not harmful in your home. However, if there are conditions in your home that are causing abnormal levels of mold spores to be present, professional remediation may be necessary. Sometimes, mold is hidden behind walls, in attics and under carpeting, making it hard to identify. There are some preventative steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of toxic mold in your New Milford home.
- Run air conditioners during the summer and dehumidifiers year round to lower the humidity in the air- under 50% is ideal.
- Have an exhaust fan installed in bathrooms with showers
- Regularly check under your bathroom and kitchen sinks for pipes that might be leaking under your cabinets. This is a major cause of the mold jobs we receive. A slow drip over years can cause a big mold problem.
- Opt for hard flooring in basements and bathrooms rather than carpeting, which are an ideal breeding ground for mold due to moisture and condensation.
- Check your attic for signs of mold- make sure that your attic vents are not blocked and functioning properly.
- Take preventative measures to avoid ice dams, which can result in mold growth behind walls and ceilings in a home.
- Repair any leaks immediately and thoroughly clean up any water from the leak.
- Make sure your gutters are properly functioning and that they are not blocked with leaves. This will help reduce the water flowing towards your house and possibly into your basement.
- Similarly, making sure that the landscaping around your house slopes away will reduce the amount of water entering your foundation.
- If you have an old Connecticut home with a crawlspace, there are vapor barriers that can be installed to stop mold spores from entering through those wood floor gaps.
If you suspect you have mold in your home, whether it's because you notice a musty smell, have unexplained illness or see a black substance on your walls, call us at (203) 743-5362 to schedule an inspection with one of our IICRC mold specialists.
Meet The Team: Kirkland Hart
Kirk Hart is a restoration technician at SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County.
Our crew works day after day, helping home and business owners during difficult times. They are on call throughout the night, on weekends, on holidays and in bad weather. Their dedication to their jobs often goes without much recognition. This month, we’d like to recognize one of our crew members who shows up with a smile on his face no matter what the circumstances.
Kirkland Hart has worked in the restoration industry for seven years, the last five with our SERVPRO franchises. Originally from Clarendon, Jamaica, Kirk now lives in Bridgeport with his wife and four children. When not at work, you can find him playing soccer (futbol) or dominos or enjoying his favorite meal, chicken and rice.
If we were to make a list of what attributes make a valuable employee, Kirk would be in mind. What stands out about Kirk is his can-do attitude and willingness to help our customers as well as others on the crew. If there is a job that needs to be done, Kirk will make it happen - even if that means coming into work early and staying late. He takes pride in his work and easily falls into a leadership role with our newer employees.
We understand that our customers are dealing with a stressful situation and having a crew in their home can sometimes be difficult. Kirk’s smile and friendly nature enable him to connect with our customers and put them at ease. He is kind and helpful when people need it most. We are grateful to have such a guy as part of our team.
SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County Restores Homes After Puffback Disasters
SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County cleans soot webs that are left throughout homes after an oil burner puffback.
With the arrival of cold weather in the New Milford area, the calls coming to our office take a different tone. Winter brings calls from homeowners who have had burst pipes and chimney fires as well as furnace puffbacks.
A puffback is a messy furnace malfunction that occurs when an oil burner backfires, sending soot throughout the interior of a home. Puff backs happen when your oil burning furnace doesn't ignite when it should. This causes oil vapors to build up which results in an explosion when the igniter finally triggers. The result of this is soot and other debris is forced from the furnace's exhaust system. The soot then enters the homes heating system and gets blown throughout the home.
If you see signs of a puffback in your Newtown home, call your oil company immediately for an inspection of your furnace. If a homeowner hasn't experienced a puff back before, they might mistake the soot on their surfaces for dust and attempt to wipe it away. However, soot cannot but easily wiped away- it requires specialized cleaning by your local SERVPRO franchise.
At SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County, we have the tools, training and experience to get your Fairfield County home back to properly remove soot in your home. Call us at (203) 743-5362 for immediate service.
Mold Remediation in Fairfield County Schools and Businesses
SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County provides mold remediation in schools and businesses in the Brookfield, CT area.
Mold infestations in schools and commercial buildings are a common problem in Litchfield and Fairfield Counties. As commercial buildings grow older, they become increasingly vulnerable to mold due to factors like leaky roofs, a tendency towards moisture retention and the erosion of waterproofing material.
Mold Risks in Schools
Unfortunately, the school setting often creates the right condition for the development of mold. This risk can increase as the school ages. Common areas for mold growth include storage closets, cafeterias, locker rooms, and bathrooms. The mold spores can then circulate throughout the school by way of the air ducts, one of the major factors contributing to "bad air." Clean ambient air quality provides a safer environment for our students.
For the prevention of these fungi from spreading in school buildings, it is important for school officials to have regular maintenance work and inspections scheduled and completed. The EPA has a comprehehsive list of ways that schools can reduce the chance of mold spores growing. Since malfunctioning HVAC systems and leaky pipes are the most frequently reported causes of mold proliferation, having this equipment and plumbing checked can drastically decrease mold growth in schools, or hopefully, prevent its occurrence.
Mold Risks in Commercial Buildings
Just as school buildings are susceptible to mold infestations, commercial buildings can become a hotbed for the fungi. One of the common places for mold to grow within the commercial setting is the HVAC system. The systems that are not functioning optimally or are ill-equipped to handle the workload can generate moisture buildup. This can lead to mold growth as the spores within the air ducts will adhere to organic matter and develop into mold colonies. The mold can now spread throughout the office via the A/C network. SERVPRO can inspect and, if necessary, clean, sanitize and deodorize the HVAC system as part of a regular maintenance and cleaning program.
If you haven't had your New Milford area school or business inspected for mold, call SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County at (203) 743-5362 to schedule one. Our mold specialists have decades of experience in this business and know where to look and what to look for when inspecting for mold. They will give you an honest assessment of whether remediation is necessary and also recommendations on how to prevent an infestation in the future.
Does Your Homeowner's Insurance Policy Cover Mold Growth?
If there is a leak under your kitchen sink that you fail to repair in a timely manner, mold may not be covered by your homeowner's insurance policy.
We are called to New Milford area homes on a weekly basis to inspect mold. With all of the attention on black mold and it's potential to be toxic to the health, many homeowner's don't want to take a chance when they spot mold. Luckily, not every home that we inspect requires professional remediation from the SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County team. There are times where the mold found can be cleaned up safely by the homeowner themselves (such as when isolated on a hard, non porous surface such as bathroom tile).
However, there are also the cases in which there is a mold infestation in the home that requires our services. It can be surprising to some homeowners to discover that their insurance policy does not cover mold.
Typically, mold remediation will be covered if it is caused by water damage that has been properly addressed. For example, if a pipe bursts in your basement and you call in a water damage restoration team to clean up the water quickly, you should be covered if mold grows as a result of the humidity in the air.
However, if you have a leaky pipe under your kitchen sink that you ignore for months and that results in mold growth that requires professional remediation, you most likely will not be covered. Your insurance company will consider the mold growth a result of your failure to maintain the property.
Call your insurance agent if the language of the policy is confusing and you are unsure. Some policies contain clauses that exclude mold. Some will cover mold removal only under certain circumstances. Typically, if your policy does not include mold remediation it can be added onto the policy. It's a smart preventative measure that can save you thousands in the future. The best prevention that a homeowner can take, however, is to be vigilant about water leaks in their home and repair them as soon as they are discovered.
If you see signs of mold in your Fairfield County home, call SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County at (203) 743-5362. Our mold technicians will come out and give you an honest assessment of the situation.
Common Causes of Mold and Tips to Avoiding it in Your Newtown Home
Because they are often damp and dark, basements tend to be an ideal location for mold growth.
There has been a lot of press on mold in homes and the potential health hazards of black mold lately. At SERVPRO of Newtown & Southern Litchfield County, we talk with many homeowners who are concerned when they discover mold in their home.
In order to grow, mold requires certain conditions to be met. Mold spores need to be present and have a food source (examples would be cotton, sheetrock, plywood, etc.). In addition, mold requires darkness, oxygen and warm temperatures. However, these are typical conditions in most homes. The factor that most determines whether mold will grow in your home is moisture.
Some of the most common causes of residential mold damage are:
1. Leaky Pipes - A slow leak might not be obvious to a homeowner but over time can create an environment that is ideal for mold growth. We have responded to a number of jobs in Fairfield County in which a plumber has discovered mold behind the kitchen cabinets due to a leaking pipe. In these cases, the kitchen cabinetry as well as walls and flooring often requires removal.
The fix: Periodically check pipes, walls and cabinetry for any signs of leaking.
2. Attic Mold – In order to keep moisture levels low in an attic, it must be ventilated properly. A well-ventilated attic will allow warm air to escape through the peak of the roof via the ridge and soffit vents. Another reason for moisture in an attic can be a roof leak.
The fix: Have your ridge and soffit vents checked for blockages and inspect your roof and attic for leaks.
3. Basement Mold – Due to low sunlight, condensation, high humidity, flooding and leaks, the basement is a common location for mold growth. In addition, people spend little time in their basement and are less likely to spot it early on.
The fix: If there is flooding, have your basement waterproofed. Keep humidity levels down with a dehumidifier. Repair any leaky pipes. If there is water at your house's foundation, it may be necessary for ditches and drains to be built to protect your New Fairfield home.
The good news is, not all mold requires professional remediation. If you spot mold in your Bethel home, give us a call at (203) 743-5362. Our mold specialists have over 20 years of experience inspecting mold and will give you an honest assessment of whether mold remediation is required.
Heavy Rains Cause Flooded Basements in Fairfield County
SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County restores flooded basements caused by heavy rains.
Fairfield County has seen more rain this summer than I can remember. Starting with the water and wind damage caused by the tornadoes and microbursts that hit New Fairfield and Brookfield last May, rain throughout the summer and now with a week of rainfall in September, it’s been wet!
With the rain, we have received several calls from homeowners who have flooded basements. Even one of our production managers discovered a lake in his Warren, CT basement this morning. The source of the rainwater can come from many different sources including:
- Water leaks in from the outside through a basement window
- Sump pump failure, which can cause water overflows from your sump pump crock
- Water seepage from cracks in your concrete floor or foundation
- A sewer system back up into your basement
In many houses with flooded basements, contents of the basement such as storage, tools, boxes etc. may also have water damage. When responding to water damage, quick action is key to minimizing the damage.
If your Fairfield County basement is flooded from rainwater or a sewage leak, call SERVPRO of Newtown & Southern Litchfield County at (203) 743-5362. We are available 24/7 and ready to respond to your water damage emergency.