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Freezing Temperatures are Forecast for Fairfield County This Weekend- What to do if Your Pipes Burst.

1/18/2019 (Permalink)

Water Damage Freezing Temperatures are Forecast for Fairfield County This Weekend- What to do if Your Pipes Burst. A small piece of broken pipe that burst due to freezing can cause substantial amount of water damage to Newtown homes.

It’s been a relatively mild winter in Litchfield County however this weekend the forecast is for snow and the thermometer dropping below zero.

Here at SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County, our main concern on a weekend like this is that the freezing temperatures will cause pipes to freeze and burst in Sherman area homes.

When the outdoor temperatures drop to single digits, the water inside the pipes of a home can freeze. As it freezes, the water expands and creates pressure in the pipes, which can cause them to burst.  This will cause a loss of heat to that area of the house and, when the weather warms up, the melting water will cause flooding through the broken pipe.

You can avoid frozen pipes by:

  1. Insulating them - especially those close to outside walls, attics or crawl spaces where the chance of freezing is greatest.
  2. Seal gaps and air leaks around pipes
  3. Disconnect all outdoor hoses and turn off water to exterior faucets and sprinkler systems.
  4. Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
  5. During a cold spell turn on both hot and cold faucets near outside walls to allow a small trickle of water to run during the night.

So, you’ve followed our advice and you still have frozen pipes? We recommend that you:

  1. Turn on your faucets to determine where the frozen ice is and relieve any pressure in the pipes.
  2. Once you have identified the room that the frozen pipes are located, place a space heater in the room.
  3. Turn your water off at the source to reduce your risk of flooding if your pipes do burst
  4. You can also attempt to warm the frozen pipes with heat tape of a hair dryer.
  5. Call a plumber if you cannot resolve the problem.

You’ve tried to avoid a pipe burst but it’s happened. Now what?

  1.  If you haven’t already done so, turn the main water valve to your home off and open all faucets.
  2. Make three phone calls:
  • Call your plumber,
  • Call your insurance agency 
  • Call your water damage restoration specialist (that’s us!)

SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County specializes in restoring homes after frozen and burst pipes have caused water damage.

Call us at (203) 743-5362 if the pipes in your Sandy Hook home burst this weekend.

Our water damage restoration technicians are on call 24/7 to help you when you need it most.

Space Heaters Cause Majority of Home Heating Fires in Litchfield County

1/3/2019 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Space Heaters Cause Majority of Home Heating Fires in Litchfield County How many space heater safety rules are being broken in this photo? Make sure that everyone in your house follows fire safety recommendations!

Like many Connecticut homeowners, we primarily heat our house with a wood stove in the winter.

It’s an economical way to heat the home and for the most part, does the job. However, there’s a room between the barn and the rest of our house that is cold no matter what we do. We've used window and door insulation and used fans to direct the heat from the stove towards it with little improvement. Our solution is to use an electric space heater in the room. It’s a new infrared heater and we have no reason to suspect that it will malfunction however I work in the restoration industry and am regularly reminded of the fire risks associated with using a space heater in the home.

Statistics show that between the years 2011 and 2015, space heaters accounted for 43% of U.S. home heating fires and 85% of home heating fire deaths.  Space heaters are the second-leading cause of U.S. home fires and the third-leading cause of home fire deaths. Precautions must be taken when using a space heater in your home.

We recommend that you follow these safety precautions and make sure that others in your home are also vigilant about them.

  1. Make sure your space heater has the label showing that it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory and read the instructions thoroughly.
  2. When you pull the electric heater out of storage at the beginning of the season, check it over for any frayed, worn, chewed or damaged cords as well as any other damage that may have occurred. Space heaters can be purchased for under $50 - there is no reason to take a risk and use an old worn out heater.
  3. Be sure to place your space heater in a safe location. Heaters must be kept at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including upholstered furniture, bedding, drapes and rugs. This does mean that you may need to rearrange a room to safely use a space heater. I personally roll the rug in front of my space heater up whenever it is turned on to avoid a fire risk.
  4. Never leave a space heater unattended. This is the number one factor that causes deaths do to a space heater. If left on at night or when you leave the home, you will not be alerted to the fire before it has become widespread. Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and outside all sleeping areas and test them once a month.
  5. Be extra vigilant when using a space heater in the bedroom. It can be difficult to avoid bedding and laundry from coming too close to the heater.  Many bedrooms have wall to wall carpeting, which can also be a fire hazard. From personal experience, I can’t stress too much the importance of making sure your teenager doesn’t leave dirty laundry on top of an electric heater and allow his blankets to drape over it while it is turned on at the base of his bed all night.  
  6. Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Do not use an extension cord or power strip, which could overheat and result in a fire. Do not plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater.
  7. Place space heaters on level, flat surfaces. Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture, or carpet, which can overheat and start a fire.

If your space heater does start a fire in your home, do not attempt to extinguish it using water.  We recommend that you turn off the power at the breaker box, use a Class C fire extinguisher to put out the fire and call 9-1-1 if necessary.

Even small home fires that may not leave a lot of structural damage can cause significant smoke and soot damage and require professional restoration.  SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County has the training and tools to clean the fire damage in your home in your Brookfield area home.

Give our office a call at (203) 743-5362. if you have damage from an electrical fire.

After the Party: Post-Holiday Tips to Clean Up Stains, Broken Glass and Candle Wax

12/28/2018 (Permalink)

Cleaning After the Party: Post-Holiday Tips to Clean Up Stains, Broken Glass and Candle Wax If your office space is a mess after the holiday party, call SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County to Clean it Up!

The party is over and your office or home may look like a good time was had by all.

Here at SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County, we've compiled a list of tricks that will assist you in cleaning up your space easily and so it looks like new. 
For Water Rings on Wooden Furniture

To remove a water mark, rub a little bit of paste (non-gel) toothpaste onto the water ring, and buff with a clean cloth.

For Broken Glass

A few broken glasses are inevitable at a party. After sweeping the large pieces up, vacuum the area. Then use a slice of bread to rub the area - this will pick up any of the little shards that are left. Be sure to dispose of all glass in a brown paper bag to avoid getting cut through the plastic garbage bag. 

For Carpet Stains

Well, here's the handiest trick of all! If you have a red wine carpet stain, you can use leftover beer to remove it! Rub a few drops of beer onto the stain and it should easily lift. Another solution that wont leave your carpet smelling like a bar is to blot (not rub) the wine with club soda and then follow with a sprinkle of baking soda and a vacuum.

For Melted Candle Wax

Whether candle was melted on your table or your carpet, place ice in a ziploc bag and set it on the wax. The wax will become brittle enough to break off easily. A spatula will help with removal if necessary.

For Lipstick Stains on Glass

If your dishwasher has failed to remove the lipstick from your glass, add some white household vinegar to soapy water to wash the glasses. The same goes for coffee and wine.

Of course, if your mess is substantial and you need a professional cleaning, call us and we will come out and make it "Like it never even happened."

Furnace Puffbacks Leave a Sticky Mess in Brookfield Homes

12/20/2018 (Permalink)

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.

Choosing and Caring for a Christmas Tree to Avoid a Home Fire

12/12/2018 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Choosing and Caring for a Christmas Tree to Avoid a Home Fire A failure to water your live Christmas tree can result in a house 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.

Mold Growth Found in Vacant Brookfield Area Homes After Storm Causes Water Damage

12/3/2018 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation Mold Growth Found in Vacant Brookfield Area Homes After Storm Causes Water Damage When water damaged is left unchecked, mold can quickly spread throughout a a vacant home.

It has been 6 months since tornadoes and microbursts damaged hundreds of houses in the Brookfield area.

Storms of that magnitude are an unusual event in Connecticut and most of us were surprised by the level of damage. Many homeowners were forced to leave their homes that had been damaged by water and fallen trees.

Unfortunately, the damage from the storm is still affecting homeowners. Our office has recently been receiving an influx of phone calls from residents who are discovering mold growth in their vacant homes.

It doesn’t take much for mold to grow and with the amount of water present in many of these storm damaged houses, mold is quickly spreading. 

The crew of SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern holds certifications in the IICRC Applied Microbial Remediation Technician and Mold Removal Specialists and are the area's experienced professionals in mold remediation.

We use various containment procedures, including advanced containment procedures like negative air chambers to prevent the spread of mold. Our specialized filtration equipment, such as air scrubbers and HEPA vacuums,  allows our technicians to capture microscopic mold spores out of the air.

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

We clean your furniture, decorative items, curtains, clothing, and other restorable items affected by mold. We use a variety of cleaning techniques to clean and disinfect your belongings. We’re also trained to remove odors and deodorization using fogging equipment.

When the mold levels have been reduced to be normal levels, our building services team will rebuild any areas of your home that require it, leaving your home better than ever.

If you see signs of mold growing on your walls, ceilings or floors, call us at (203)743-5362 to schedule an inspection.



Cold Weather Mythbusters - Will Your tongue REALLY Stick to a Flagpole?

11/27/2018 (Permalink)

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 livescience,  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!  

Be Prepared: The Difference Between Winter Storm Watches, Advisories and Warnings in Connecticut

11/13/2018 (Permalink)

Storm Damage 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!

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".

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.  

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

11/5/2018 (Permalink)

Storm Damage 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?

10/29/2018 (Permalink)

Storm Damage 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.