7 Things Not To Do Following Fire Damage
A fire and the damage it causes can be nightmarish. In just a few moments, an entire room can be destroyed, and a fire restoration services team will need to be called in. Hopefully you’ll never have to face such a scenario, but if you do, there are some things that you should never do following a fire.
Don’t Try To Clean Up Yourself
Vacuuming, wiping down the walls, touching the drapes, and any other attempt at cleaning the place up yourself can put you at risk of inhaling the extremely dangerous chemicals that are in soot and ash. Besides this, you could cause further damage to your property. Ash and soot require specialized, professional cleaning from a fire restoration services team.
Don’t Walk Around On Uncovered Carpets
Put clean sheets or towels over your carpet before you walk around on it. Otherwise you may get ash and soot setting into your shoes, and this is bad for your health.
Don’t Turn Appliances On
This goes especially for fires that took place in the kitchen. Don’t turn any electrical appliances on that were inside the room during the fire. They’ll need to be checked and cleaned professionally before being turned on again. If you turn them on when ash or other debris may be trapped inside of them, you could ruin them. Also, do not turn on ceiling appliances such as a light fixture or fan if the ceiling is wet. The wiring could be damp and could cause electric shock.
If you use the wrong type of deodorizer, such as a store-bought or a commercial deodorizer, you might offset the better formulas that the fire restoration services cleaning team will use that break up smoke molecules and improve odors.
Don’t Try To Clean Your Carpet
If you attempt to remove ash, soot, or water from your carpet or shampoo it, you’re again putting yourself at risk of inhaling very dangerous chemicals from that ash and soot. And in most cases, your carpet will need to be replaced anyway.
Don’t Turn On Your HVAC System
Keep your cooling or heating system turned off until your home is cleaned. By turning on the HVAC system, you’re inviting smoke to travel through your ductwork, which can cause secondary damage to your home.
Don’t Try To Keep Furniture
If there was heavy smoke during the fire, don’t try to continue using your upholstered furniture or carpet. If you keep using them, you’re putting yourself at risk of respiratory health problems. Your upholstered furniture and carpet will need to be replaced. In fact, you shouldn’t even sit or lie down on upholstered furniture that has been in a fire, even for a few minutes.
Knowing what not to do after a fire can make a bad situation a little easier, and can help prevent further damage.
At SERVPRO of Fairfield, we’ve seen our share of fire and smoke damage, and we’ve also seen it made worse when homeowners attempt to clean up themselves. Trust us—don’t try it! Just wait for fire restoration service professionals to come take care of it. If you ever find yourself in need of the best fire restoration services in the Bay Area, SERVPRO of Fairfield is here for you.
Tips to Protect Home Exteriors from Water Damage
Water can infiltrate a property in many ways, causing damage to its components, including the roof, walls, foundation, and more. To prevent water intrusion, property owners must take preventative measures both on their home’s interior and exterior. This article deals with protecting a home’s exterior from water damage.
- The roof needs to be inspected for missing or damaged shingles, flashings, and tiles.
- The vents, flues, chimneys, air conditioners, and evaporative coolers must be installed properly and in good shape.
- The roof should also be checked for leaks around rooftop air-conditioning units, vents for exhaust or plumbing, and other specialized equipment.
- Tree limbs that hang above the roof must be cut so they don’t cling to shingles and trap moisture.
Gutters and Downspouts
- Gutters and downspouts must be kept clean, free from debris, and in good condition to allow water to flow freely.
- Metal screens should be installed to prevent leaves, twigs, silt and other debris from clogging the gutters and drainage holes.
- Downspouts must direct water at least two metres away from the home’s foundation. Installing downspout extensions may be needed to achieve this.
Doors and Windows
- The corners of the doors and windows should be checked for leaks. Signs of leaks include peeling paint, paint discolouration, and swollen frame.
- Exterior doors and windows should be protected from the sun, rain, and snow by installing overhangs above them.
- Doors and windows must close tightly. To check for a tight fit, there should be no cracks between the sash and frame of the windows.
- Damaged flashing or weather-stripping around windows should be repaired or replaced.
- Cracked or broken siding boards, bricks, stone or other masonry, as well as structural sheathing must be repaired.
- Any openings from wiring, plumbing, phone, cable, and heating and air conditioning lines must be sealed with foam or caulk. Also, the damaged or unpainted wood surrounding these openings must be repaired.
- Checking for signs of termite activity on the walls and the wooden structures around the foundation is also recommended. Termites can eat wood, plaster, and even metal siding.
- The exhaust vent doors must open and close properly.
- Any shrubs and other landscaping features must be removed from along the walls.
- When irrigating the garden, directing water towards the house should be avoided to prevent excessive water near the foundation.
Keeping properties safe from water damage from the inside is also critical. The SERVPRO team stands ready to provide professional restoration services to any property affected by fire, water or mold damage.
11 Tips to Limit Mold Growth
Mold is a problem many homeowners associate with warm weather, but that doesn’t mean you can let your guard down just because winter is upon us. While it’s true that most molds thrive in environments more than 70° F, some types of mold do fine in cold weather. In fact, there are some settings in your winter home that create an ideal environment for mold. Here are 11 steps you can take to prevent it from taking hold.
1.Some of the places you may notice mold during the winter is in uninsulated closets, crawlspaces, attics, windows, and any other place that that temperature is colder than in the rest of the home. Ensure that spots like this are kept free from moisture.
2.Mold loves moisture. Aim to keep the humidity level below 40% in all parts of the home. When it gets higher than that, it creates a mold-friendly environment.
3.If you have spaces in your home that tend to be more humid, swap out wall-to-wall carpets for hard-surface floors or area rugs. Also, do not store books or stacks of paper in such areas.
4.As mentioned above, mold loves moisture, so it’s extremely important to fix any leaks in your roof and around doors and windows. Any spot that retains moisture is very likely to invite mold. If you can’t get the roof repaired or replaced, have a roofing contractor cover the damaged areas with a tarp to prevent leaks.
5.Be sure that all gutters and downspouts are clean and that the water flows away from your house. If it doesn’t, add inexpensive extenders to the ends of the downspout to direct water further away.
6.When taking a shower or cooking, always use fans to vent that moisture out of house.
7.Make sure that all vents in the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry vent to the outside rather than to crawlspace or attic. If not, the moisture will collect in those areas and provide a cozy spot for a mold infestation.
8.If you have a crawlspace, consider sealing it with waterproof plastic. If your crawlspace has vents, you should close them in the summer and make sure they open during the winter to prevent moisture buildup.
9.Insulate pipes and other cold surfaces in your home.
10.If you have moisture problems in your basement, talk to a company about what it would take to correct those issues. At the very least, add quality dehumidifiers.
11.Perform routine checks of your pipes, windows, and basement walls. Take immediate action if you notice condensation. Find the source of the moisture, or call in a pro to find it for you.
Many of the items on this list are regular maintenance items that should be taken care of throughout the year, but it’s always a good idea to have a winter checklist that you go through just before the start of the season. A little prevention can go a long way in warding off the hassle of a mold infestation, so take steps today to maintain maximum air quality in your home.
Should you suspect a mold problem, call the professionals at SERVPRO of Fairfield. Give us a call!
Ways Water Can Damage the Foundation of Your Home
One of the things we often see when people call us for water and storm damage restoration is how flooding affects the very foundation of homes. In these cases, it is about far more than the cosmetic damage or even the mold damage that water can cause to your home, it is about your home’s very structural integrity. This being the case, let’s look at four ways in which water can threaten the foundation of your family’s home.
- Soil saturation: Water can cause the soil around the foundation of your home to loosen. This can lead to water penetrating your home. To avoid this, make sure that your gutters and downspouts are clean and working in proper order.
- Soil Erosion: Water can begin to slowly wash away the soil that supports your home’s foundation causing it to settle. Sometimes these signs are very subtle and take some time to occur. Signs of this include uneven floors, drywall cracks, tilting chimneys etc. That is why it is important to have experts look at all aspects of your home in the aftermath of a flood.
- Hydrostatic pressure buildup: Hydrostatic pressure – which is caused by soil that is over saturated with water – can build up and cause your homes wall’s to push inward leading to cracking and bowing. This can happen suddenly or over time as a result of heavy rainfall.
- Excessive tree root growth: Overly saturated soil can cause tree roots around your home’s foundation to grow. These roots can eventually begin to add even more pressure to the foundation of your home and cause your foundation to crack. This in turn can even lead to a home “leaning” noticeably.
- Water can cause damage to wood structural components near your foundation: Foundations that are permeated with water could damage the wooden components of your home. This in turn can lead to mold growth. It is notoriously difficult to remove mold from wood as it is porous. Our professionals have experience in removing wood from homes permanently regardless of what caused it to grow.
Most homeowners don’t even think about the foundation of their home until it is damaged in some way. But water is one of those forces that can affect the very core of your home. Therefore, flood repair is a very complicated part of recovery from storms. It takes professionals who have encountered these kinds of emergencies and know exactly how to mitigate the damage that flooding often causes.
What to do After a House Fire
The first 24 hours after a house fire is a critical time period. If the fire department knows anything, restoration companies have heard it on their radios and will send their “chasers” out trying to get you to sign a contract. Whatever you do, do not make a decision while you are upset. Fire clean up takes a long time and a fast decision could be a mistake.
- Getting You Home Boarded Up. Ask the fire department if they have a recommendation (some counties have a rotating list of restoration companies) or you can pick one of the chasers in front of you. Be clear that you are only hiring them for the board-up. Take the cards of all the chasers at the fire, tell them you will make a decision in the next few days on the restoration.
- Find a Safe Place to Stay: Smoke is a carcinogen. If you can smell smoke, it is not safe. Most insurance policies will put you up in a hotel, family or friends can take you in or you can contact a local disaster relief agency, such as the American Red Cross or Salvation Army.
- Research Local Restoration Companies: Your insurance company will send out their preferred vendor, that company does a lot of work for the insurance company and will do everything they can to keep the insurance company happy. Not necessarily the company you want working for you. An independent company will be your advocate. Yelp and BBB will give you the basics.
- Contact your Insurance Company: once you start a claim, they will cover living and other daily expenses and help you with the clean-up. Whichever restoration company you choose will work with the insurance adjuster to help you decide on the best plan of actio.
- Recover your Possessions: If you have enough insurance, the items destroyed in a house fire will be cleaned or replaced. The restoration company will make an inventory of your possessions. However, the best and easiest way to be reimbursed is to have your own inventory kept either on the internet or in a fireproof safe that includes the date of purchase, cost and description of each item whenever possible.
Fire damage restoration entails the total cleanup of your property and possessions to preloss condition. Trained and certified technicians use special equipment and cleaning products. Fire damage restoration also involves cleaning up the water damage caused by the fire department.
If you’re in need of fire damage recovery after a fire, give us a call at 707-2070122 today.
Easy to Spot Signs of Mold Growth
Mold and moisture build up.
Mold Growth Sign #1
Mold spores need water and a feeding source to survive. The feeding sources are plenty because mold will feed on a variety of different items, but the key is the available moisture.
Have you noticed any windows or mirrors in your home fogging up and collecting condensation? If so, this is a sign you have a higher moisture content in certain areas of your home. If you don’t have a proper ventilation system that takes any excess moisture and disposes of it outside of you home, you’re going to experience moisture buildup.
Another sign of higher moisture content is a damp or muggy feeling in certain rooms of your home. This is more prevalent in areas such as your attic or basement. Your attic is an area of your home where the temperature fluctuates on a regular basis and this alone can lead to humidity and moisture buildup. Because basements are underground, that dampness can easily seep in through any cracks or crevices in the wall or foundation and lead to excess moisture as well.
If you suspect any areas of your house to have more moisture than others, there’s a good chance you might have mold.
Mold Growth Sign #2
While mold might be sneaky, it doesn’t mean it’s completely invisible. Mold gives off a very distinct smell. It’s a musty smell and one you most likely associate with a damp feeling in the room.
People often associate this smell with a lack of air circulation but mold growth is another possibility.
If you notice any areas in your home with a musty odor, it’s a good idea to do a spot check for mold.
Mold Growth Sign #3
Are you unknowingly giving mold colonies a virtual buffet of feeding sources?
Mold has the ability to feed on multiple sources which is another reason areas of storage in your home are areas where mold growth is more prevalent. Mold will feed on curtains, fabrics, carpets, and wood and many of those items are stored in your basements and attics.
It’s important to store any possible items in airtight plastic containers. Plastic is one item mold spores do not feed upon and if the containers are sealed, there’s no way for mold to make its way to the contents inside.
Items that can’t be stored this way should be placed away from walls and not leaned on any structural beams if possible. Moisture can collect in the small areas between the item and the walls or beams and lead to a cozy spot for mold to call home.
Mold Growth Sign #4
Unfortunately, those who are allergic to mold will experience symptoms if you have mold growing in your home. Mold growth can cause a wide variety of symptoms in different people depending on the severity of the allergy.
These symptoms can be the typical allergy symptoms such as a runny nose, scratchy throat and watery eyes or they can be more severe. Some people experience respiratory issues, headaches, skin problems and even depression.
It’s important to note that if you don’t have an allergy to mold, you wouldn’t notice anything different, but keep an eye on family members and pets. If they begin to show signs and don’t seem to go away, it might be time to do a spot check.
If you suspect you have mold growth in your home, contact us. We have a team of certified professionals who are willing to answer any questions or ease any fears you might have. Mold removal can seem like an overwhelming issue to tackle but we can help you devise an individualized plan that works with your schedule. Contact us today!
How to Restore Fire Damage
1. Remove Fire Damaged Materials
First, remove all the burned and smoke damaged materials. The obvious items are the pieces of furniture and appliances that look like they’ve been through a fire. They will look melted and blackened and like they’re from the set of the most recent Marvel movie. The not so obviously damaged items that also need to be removed are the smoke-damaged items. All of the items in the adjoining rooms to where the fire occurred are unfortunately probably going to fall into this category. This also means that the paint and probably the drywall from some of the rooms, depending on their proximity to the fire.
2. Air Out The Smoke Damaged Space
Second and possibly the easiest step is airing out the smoke damaged space. This step requires the use of industrial air movers which are giant fans that rapidly circulate air throughout an enclosed space effectively filling the space with new fresh air and getting rid of the old smoke-stained air. All that needs to be done is to place the air movers in the space, turn them on and let those air movers do their work!
3. Rebuild and Restore
The third and hardest of all the steps is the rebuild, restoring the fire-damaged space to all of its original glory and maybe even then some! This means replacing the building materials you had to remove like paint and drywall and all the appliances and furniture and carpeting. Building something is always harder than destroying it, which is why this step ranks harder than the original demolition of the fire-damaged space. That being said many people will take this opportunity to rebuild spaces more to their liking if that’s not making lemonade out of lemons then I don’t know what is!
The 4 Most Common Types of Fire
While a fire can start anywhere at any time, below is a list of the top four most common causes of fires. This information may even help you to prevent starting a fire.
1. In the United States, the most common type of fire starts in the kitchen. Whether it is from burning food, grease, or an electrical problem, often times all three can cause a fire. Grease is the major cause of a fire it can grow and spread quickly, getting out of control and spreading to other rooms of your home, before the fire department arrives.
2. Electrical fires are the second most common type of house fire. When you have electricity and water it can be bad. Often times, if the wiring is old or not grounded a fire can start and someone can be electrocuted. Electrical fires can be caused by several different things, including old wiring, faulty wiring, broken or old breaker boxes, faulty appliances, and the improper use of outlets.
3. During the cold winter months’ portable heaters and electric blankets start their fair share of fires. If you have to use a portable heater make sure you one that has a timer and an automotive shut-off. In place of electric blankets try using a heavy quilt.
4. Smoking is the fourth leading cause of fires. If you can smoke outside and make sure you put your cigarette out before going back inside your home. People fall asleep smoking more often than most people can imagine there are nearly a thousand deaths a year in the United States, because of smoking not to mention the loss off property. It does not take much for an ember off the tip of a cigarette to catch a chair, couch, rug, or curtains on fire, so be extra cautious when smoking in your home.
You can’t always prevent a fire especially an electrical one due to poor or faulty wiring or appliances. So, when you have the option to use extreme caution such as smoking, or cooking please do so!
WHAT NOT TO DO AFTER COMMERCIAL WATER DAMAGE
Here’s what NOT to do after commercial water damage:
- Do not enter a room with standing water in it until all electricity has been turned off.
- Live wires touching water can electrify the water, making standing water in the room very dangerous. Make sure all electricity is disconnected or off prior to entering a room with standing water.
- Do not use a regular household vacuum to remove water.
- Regular household vacuum’s are not meant to handle large volumes of water. Sucking up standing water with a household vacuum will definitely break it and potentially cause it to short circuit.
- Do not attempt to lift tacked down carpet without professional help.
- Wet carpet is very heavy. Not only could you hurt yourself trying to remove damp carpet but carpet also contains a variety of tacks that can hurt you if you are not trained in pulling it up correctly.
- Do not use electrical appliances when carpet or flooring is still wet.
- Exposure to water can cause electrical appliances to short circuit or fail. Since they are not manufactured to be “water proof”, water can easily get into vulnerable areas in the appliances and greatly increase your chance of electrocution or fire.
- Do not touch or disturb any visible mold.
- Mold spreads very easily. Mold caused by water is dangerous to you and can have harmful health effects. Make sure you call a mold damage specialist to handle the cleanup and removal of mold so as to not cause harm to yourself or your employees.
Do You Know if You’re Buying a House with Mold?
House inspections could save you a lot of time and money
The new home buying process can be exciting, stressful, and scary all wrapped in one big emotion. Yes, the three “I’m ready get this over with right away” emotions. This feeling can often times lead home buyers to skip over the small but important details of the process. However, there are a number of questions that you should always ask AND get an answer to before proceeding with buying a home. One of the questions that you should be sure to get an answer to is, “Am I buying a house with mold?”
Let’s be honest. It’s not always in a realtor’s best interest to get an inspection on a property that they’re selling. A mold inspection gone bad can open up a number of problems for someone selling a home, costing thousands of dollars and they would like to knowingly be apart of selling a house with mold. However, hidden mold in a home can cause an even bigger problems for a clueless home buyer. Think about it. Imagine being super excited to move your family into the home that you have always dreamed of having. You go on a bidding war against other potential buyers that drive the price up, spend thousands of dollars on new furniture throughout the house, get the kids into a new school, all just to find out that the your dream home is really a moldy nightmare.
So how do I prevent buying a house with mold?
I’m glad you asked! When buying a new home, ask the realtor for recent paperwork showing that the home has passed an inspection. Do not take the realtor’s word alone. If there is no recent paperwork, request to have an inspection before moving forward with the buying process. Keep in mind that unless the realtor is a certified mold inspector, his advice is not likely to be helpful. You need professional mold inspectors involved. If the seller of the home is not willing to provide an inspection, then you may be saving your family and yourself a lot of headaches, figuratively and literally, by not buying the home. Do not move in without proof that there are no mold problems. Buying a house with mold can cost your family a lot of money, cause illness and develop stress.
Signs that you may be buying a house with mold
If you would like to sort of a “pre-inspection” before calling in the professionals, here’s a list of things to look at to know if you’re possibly buying a house with mold:
- Does the house have wet carpet or water stains.
Carpeting and carpet padding are great mold foods and mold growth can easily hide inside carpeting and padding.
- Does the home have indoor bodies of water?
An indoor pool, jacuzzi spa or large fish aquarium continuously generates high indoor humidity to drive mold growth.
- Is there a built in humidifier?
As humidifier pushes moisture and humidity throughout the house, this increases the chances of indoor mold growth. This is true for humidifiers that are built into the home’s heating/cooling equipment and free-standing, portable units.
- Does the refrigerator have an automatic ice maker?
Water supply line that brings water to an automatic ice maker often goes bad. A bad water supply line causes leaking water and could promote mold growth into kitchen floors, walls, and cabinets.
- Does bathroom and laundry vents lead outdoors?
Such vents often exhaust high humidity air into attics, crawl spaces, walls, ceilings, or floors, rather than directly outdoors. Be sure that these vents are leading outdoors to prevent moisture build-up.
- Does the air conditioning condensation pan have a leak?
Air conditioning systems include a drip pan to catch water than condenses and drips from the air conditioning coils. Such drip pans are sometimes poorly installed or the pan drain pipe becomes blocked, thus allowing water flooding and mold growth into adjacent walls and ceilings.
- Does the building lot slope towards the house?
If the house building lot slopes downward toward the house, rather than away from the house, there is going to be significant water intrusion into the basement, crawl space, concrete slab, and/or building foundation, and thus enabling the growth of mold resulting from such water intrusion.
- Does the house on the side or bottom of a hill?
A residence that is located on the side of a hill or at the bottom of a hill will be a moldy house because rain fall will cause significant ground water intrusion into the same areas mentioned above.
- Is the roof overhang too short?
If the roof overhang extends less than two feet beyond the walls beneath the overhang, rainfall will fall upon and run down the exterior walls to soak into the wood and masonry surfaces of such walls.
- Has the house ever had a leaky roof?
If the roof surface or flashings around a chimney or furnace and plumbing vent pipes are degraded or poorly-maintained, water will enter into the home’s attic and run downward into the insides of the ceilings, floors, and walls beneath the attic to cause huge, hidden toxic mold growth therein.
- Has the house ever had a crawl space water intrusion?
Most crawl space dirt floors suffer from water wicking upward from the ground water in the soil. In addition, rainfall frequently runs into crawl spaces. Crawl space water intrusion results in big toxic mold growth that can grow upward into the insides of the floors and walls above.
- Does the house have leaking water supply or sewage drain pipes?
Plumbing line leaks can cause massive toxic mold growth inside and on walls, ceilings, and floors.
Remember these tips and always hire an experienced and trusted home inspector when purchasing a home. Good luck on your house hunting!