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Christmas Fire Safety Tips For Your Connecticut Home

12/2/2020 (Permalink)

christmas holiday fire safety near me in Connecticut While your holiday decorations fill your home with cheer, they may also fill it with fire hazards.

When holiday spirits are at a high - So are holiday fires. Your Christmas tree and decorations may transform your home into a winter wonderland, but they can also put it at a high risk of fires. In order to help prevent winter holiday fires in your Connecticut home, follow the tips we've outlined below!

Christmas Holiday Fire Safety Tips

Christmas Trees Fire Safety

Each holiday season, fire departments respond to an average of 160 Christmas tree fires each year. Out of these fires, electrical distribution (extension cords or power strips) and lighting equipment were involved 44% of the time. About three quarters of these Christmas tree fires occurred in December or January (NFPA).

To help prevent home fires started by Christmas trees, follow these tips:

  • If using a real tree, pick one that has fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
  • Be sure Christmas trees are at least three feet away from heat sources, fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents, or lights.
  • If using a real tree, make sure to water it daily to keep it moist and lower the risk of a fire.
  • Make sure the light strands on your tree are graded for indoor use.
  • If your tree lights are worn or have broken cords, purchase new ones to avoid an electrical fire.
  • Always turn off your Christmas tree lights before leaving the house or going to bed.
  • Don't leave the tree up too long after Christmas - The older and dryer it gets, the higher the risk of a fire is.

To help prevent a fire stemming from your Christmas tree, you want to make sure it stays fresh, moist and watered, far from any objects that could light it on fire.

Christmas Decorations Fire Safety

Holiday decorations are a larger culprit of home holiday fires, with an estimated 780 home fires starting from decorations each year. Almost half of these fires were caused by decorations being placed too close to a heat source.

To prevent holiday fires started by Christmas decorations, follow these tips:

  • Try and purchase decorations that are labeled as flame resistant or flame retardant.
  • Use clips rather than nails to hang any holiday lights.
  • Turn off any electrical decorations before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Make sure to not use outdoor lights for inside.
  • Be sure that your fire alarms are working in case a decoration catches fire.

Holiday Candle Fires

Did you know that more than half of all home decoration fires in the month of December are started by candles? And the top days for home candle fires are Christmas Day, New Year's Day, and New Year's Eve? (FEMA) The holidays are the top times for candle use, but also the top time for candle fires.

You can help prevent holiday candle fires by following these fire safety tips:

  • Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.
  • Keep candles out of reach of children or animals, who can accidentally knock them over and start a fire.
  • Do not decorate your Christmas tree with candles.
  • Do not leave any candles burning unattended.
  • Consider buying some battery powered candles to help lessen the likelihood of a fire.
  • Make sure candles have sturdy candle holders so that they cannot fall over.

SERVPRO of Branford/Shoreline hopes that all of those in Connecticut have a safe, healthy, wonderful holiday season.

SERVPRO Coronavirus Services: What You Need To Know

11/30/2020 (Permalink)

servpro coronavirus disinfection near me new haven, ct - image of employee in PPE SERVPRO Coronavirus Services Consult, Clean, and Certify that your space has been properly disinfected.

A coronavirus exposure in your East Haven, CT area business can cause your doors to close and operations to rapidly shift. SERVPRO of Branford/Shoreline's highly trained biohazard decontamination team can provide the cleaning solutions needed for your COVID-19 cleanup. Learn what to expect when you call SERVPRO professionals to clean, sanitize, and disinfect your workplace for the Coronavirus.

SERVPRO Coronavirus Cleaning & Disinfection Process

Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned means that professionally trained biohazard remediation specialists will consult, clean, and certify that your workplace has been sanitized and disinfected. These three steps ensure that your space receives the specialized services needed when it comes to a COVID-19 clean up.

Step 1: Consult

To provide a SERVPRO Certified cleaning experience, a member of our COVID-19 team will consult with you to understand your cleaning and disinfection needs. Every building and business is different, which requires specialized solutions to effectively clean & disinfect for the Coronavirus.

Your program will be based on your business type, size of the space, amount of high-touch point areas, foot traffic of the building, congestion points, whether or not a case is confirmed or suspected, and more. Your team member will create different disinfection plans for emergency COVID-19 cleaning for confirmed cases and proactive cleanings.

Step 2: Clean, Sanitize & Disinfect

When your East Haven, CT area workplace needs a COVID-19 disinfection, SERVPRO of Branford/Shoreline can provide same-day service, 24 hours a day. You can rest assured that your workplace is properly clean, sanitized, and disinfected as SERVPRO professionals have years of biohazard remediation experience - Meaning we've been performing these services well before the COVID-19 pandemic.

SERVPRO of Branford/Shoreline's Coronavirus services are guided and updated per the standards set by the CDC. SERVPRO of Branford/Shoreline also utilizes chemicals on the EPA's List N: Disinfectants For Coronavirus which are approved to kill SARS COV-2 when used in accordance to the label's directions.

Our team uses the SERVPRO disinfectant: SERVPROXIDE, which is a hospital grade disinfectant on the EPA approved cleaning products list. SERVPROXIDE is in the EPA's lowest toxicity category and is safe for even direct food contact surface use.

When cleaning your space based on your consultation plan, SERVPRO cleaning specialists will pay special attention to high-touch point areas, disinfect porous surfaces, and utilize electrostatic spraying equipment to ensure your entire workplace has been disinfected.

Step 3: Certify

The advantage of using SERVPRO Coronavirus services is that our credibility as a biohazard cleaning company can help you employees and customers feel more assured in the enhanced cleaning you have invested in. When you participate in the Certified: SERVPRO cleaned program, our team will leave behind stickers, window decals, signages, and even electronic logos to signify your workplace or business has been deep cleaned. When you have our emblem on your door, you're signifying you've chosen a higher standard of clean.

Common Questions

Are SERVPRO Coronavirus Services the same as a janitorial cleaning?

No, they are not. Our Coronavirus Services go much further than a general or janitorial cleaning, utilizing hospital grade, EPA approved disinfectants. When you're looking for workplace COVID-19 disinfection, you need more than a general cleaning service.

Can SERVPRO provide weekly sanitizing & disinfection?

Yes, we can! When you have your consultation with your COVID-19 team member, you can set up reoccurring cleanings as much as you would like.

Is a consultation free of charge?

Yes, SERVPRO of Branford/Shoreline provides free estimates for all of our services and the Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned program is just the same. Call our office anytime to be set up with your consultation.

Supporting FISH of Greater New Haven

11/30/2020 (Permalink)

servpro of branford/shoreline volunteers for fish of greater new haven Members of our team (not all pictured) volunteered last Saturday to deliver Turkey Dinners to FISH's clients.

Every holiday season, our team here at SERVPRO of Branford/Shoreline chooses a local charity or non-profit to support. This year, we’ve chosen FISH of Greater New Haven!

What Does FISH Do? 

FISH’s mission is to provide hope and groceries to our homebound neighbors in Greater New Haven. FISH delivers free bags of nutritionally sound groceries to households which are unable to access walk-in or mobile pantries due to disability, age, or other mobility impediments and cannot afford an adequate supply of food. FISH is the only agency in the area to deliver free food directly to clients’ front doors!

A Few Facts About Fish:

  • FISH is a pantry that delivers to 545 households each month, representing over 900 individuals.
  • On average, they purchase one bag of groceries for a little more than $9.00.
  • They have been serving needy families and individuals in the New Haven area for over 50 years.
  • Volunteers help keep FISH going - Packing and delivering food bags for their clients. 

How Can You Help FISH? 

  • Deliver Groceries. Volunteers can sign up to deliver a short run of groceries with drop offs located in close proximity to each other. Weekly, biweekly, or monthly opportunities are available. 
  • Pantry Volunteers. You can volunteer in their pantry, stocking shelves, unloading the delivery truck, or packing food bags.
  • Office Volunteers. Needed for cleaning and maintaining the FISH donor database, producing newsletter, and working with Constant Contact. 
  • Donate to SERVPRO #TEAMLUCIANI’s Food and Donation Drive! 

Interested in volunteering with FISH? Learn more here! 

SERVPRO Donation Drive For FISH of Greater New Haven

To help support FISH and their mission, we’ve organized a non-perishable food donation drive, as well as a GoFundMe page for monetary donations (Link here!)

Donations can be dropped off at our main office located at 150 Bradley Street, East Haven CT 06512, or picked up by request by calling or texting Mariah Miklus at 203-610-9633.

Needed food donations include:

  • Boxes of Cereal (Low Sugar)
  • Canned Vegetables (Low Sodium)
  • Canned Fruit
  • Shelf-Stable Milk (1%, 2% or Reduced Fat)
  • Tuna
  • Soup (canned or dry) (Please No Ramen)
  • Rice (brown preferred, or other dry grains)
  • Canned Stew
  • Crackers
  • Beans (Black, Lentil, Kidney etc.)
  • Nuts (Almonds, Pecans, Peanuts, Walnuts etc, unsalted)
  • Oatmeal (Rolled Oats, Steel Cut, or Old Fashioned)
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly (Reduced Sugar)
  • Instant potatoes
  • Instant milk
  • Fruit snacks
  • Macaroni & Cheese
  • Pasta (Whole Wheat, Sprouted-Grain, Quinoa, or Gluten Free)
  • Spaghetti Sauce
  • Fruit
  • Coffee (Instant or Ground)

Want More Info on Our Donation Drive? Call Us at 800-734-3213!

Furnace Puffback Cleanup in Branford, Connecticut

11/25/2020 (Permalink)

furnace puffback soot cleanup near me branford connecticut Here you can see smoke and soot residue covering the walls and ceilings of this local Branford home after a puff back.

After a puff back occurs in your Branford, Connecticut home, every surface can be covered by oily soot and smoke residues. While you may want to start cleaning yourself, you should wait to have specialized cleaning performed by the puff back cleaning team here at SERVPRO of Branford/Shoreline.

What is a Puffback?

A puff back is when unburned oil or gas ignites in the combustion chamber of your heating system, causing a misfire or explosion. This sends smoke and soot throughout your home through the ductwork. The result of a furnace puff back is soot and smoke residues covering walls, trim, floors, ceilings, furniture, upholstery, and more. Puffbacks will also cause smoke odors to linger in your home.

Puffbacks can occur in both gas furnaces, oil furnaces, boilers, or even water heaters. However, these are more common in oil fired systems, simply because oil doesn't dissipate as easily as gas and is more likely to build up in the combustion chamber. Damage from puffbacks is also more severe in oil burning systems, as oil also produces more soot and smoke than gas when it combusts.

Can You Perform Puff Back Cleaning Yourself?

You should not try to perform a puffback cleanup yourself. You may want to clean the sticky, smelly, black soot and smoke from your walls and ceilings as soon as it happens, but this will only make your problem worse.

Puff back cleaning should always be performed by a professional soot cleaning service. When you try and clean smoke, soot, and odors from a puffback yourself, the following can occur:

  • Scrubbing walls damaged by smoke and soot can embed it further into the drywall
  • Using improper chemicals or cleaning solutions on soot damage can make it harder for professionals to clean it later, increasing time and cost of restoration
  • Without the proper materials, equipment, or techniques - unwanted smoke odors will be left behind
  • Smoke and soot particles will not be taken out of the air, continuing the problem over time
  • Homeowners may throw away fabrics or soft materials that could've been salvaged by a professional fire and smoke restoration service

After a puff back in your Branford, CT home, take the following steps:

  1. Call your homeowners insurance and file a claim.
  2. Call your local HVAC repair service to have your heating system fixed before using it again.
  3. Contact your local puff back cleaning service for proper smoke and soot cleanup as well as odor removal.

Puffback Cleanup Process

While every soot cleanup project is unique and requires a specialized plan, SERVPRO of Branford/Shoreline follows the same general process every time:

  1. Perform inspection and damage assessment - Our Project Managers will walk through your property and explain the clean up and deodorization process in detail.
  2. Set up equipment - SERVPRO of Branford/Shoreline utilizes equipment like HEPA air scrubbers to filter particulates out of the air. This helps begin the odor removal process.
  3. Soot removal from all surfaces - The team at SERVPRO of Branford/Shoreline will clean every inch of your property with specialized equipment to ensure all soot and smoke residues are removed.
  4. Restoration of fabrics - Soft goods such as furniture, clothing, or bedding may be salvageable when cleaned properly by a soot damage restoration company.
  5. Air duct cleaning - This step is important and is overlooked when homeowners perform cleanup themselves. The air ducts are what spread soot and smoke particles across your entire home and will do it again if not cleaned. This step is also hugely important for removing smoke odors.
  6. Needed restoration - Depending on the severity of your puff back, some items or areas of your home may not be able to be cleaned. Instead, these materials may have to be replaced. It is also possible that re-painting is necessary.

How Do Puffbacks Damage Your Branford, CT Home?

Puffbacks can occur in two different ways: In one large explosion, or in small, consistent misfires in your heating system. The large explosion will be quickly apparent across your home, suddenly causing smoke and black soot to cover every inch of your home. On the other hand, the small, consistent misfires may not be noticed immediately. Rather, the soot and smoke won't be visible until it has built up for a while, likely first forming right outside heating vents and the baseboards of your home.

Regardless of whether a puffback is large or small, they similarly damage your home. Damages from furnace puffbacks include:

  • A film of soot covering walls, ceilings, cabinets, floors, rugs, furniture, bedding, clothing, food, drapes, countertops, and more
  • Soot and smoke particles may force you to throw out furniture or fabrics if they cannot be restored
  • Damage to heating systems
  • Risk of fire from disconnected or damaged flue vent connector
  • Risk of carbon monoxide leak in building

Need Cleanup After A Puff Back in Connecticut? Call SERVPRO For A Free Estimate!

SERVPRO of Branford/Shoreline accepts all insurance carriers and is open 24/7, 365 days a year to respond to your call. Whatever the disaster, we're ready to make it "Like it never even happened."

Preventing Water Damage From An Overflowing Toilet

11/10/2020 (Permalink)

photo of plunger next to toilet Act fast to stop your toilet overflow and minimize water damage to your home.

When a toilet overflow happens in your home, it can quickly turn into a nightmare regardless of why it happened. When not handled immediately, your home may sustain a large amount of water damage from the toilet overflow and pose a health risk for you to clean up yourself. Here, we will go over what to do immediately after you find water pouring out of your toilet and what you can do to prevent water damage.

What To Do When Your Toilet Overflows

1 | Don’t use any plumbing in your home if you’re not sure what is causing the overflow. 

This is important because depending on the cause of your issue, using a toilet or sink in another part of your home may make the problem become much worse. If your toilet began to overflow immediately after you flushed, the cause is likely just a clog and may be easy to fix yourself. In these cases, you should be fine to use the plumbing in other parts of your home.

If you didn’t flush the toilet and found it suddenly overflowing by itself, there is likely a clog somewhere in your main drain or sewer line of your home. In these cases, running water exiting your home has nowhere to go and backflows to the lowest point which is usually a toilet or shower. Do not use any plumbing when you have a block in the main line to avoid causing additional damage to your home. 

2 | Shut the water off to the toilet.

The first way to do this is to locate the toilet valve on the wall behind your toilet and turn it off to cut the water supply. If you cannot find the valve or it will not turn, the second way to turn off the water is to take the lid off of your toilet tank and lift the float high enough so that the water stops running. If all else fails, you should turn off the main water valve in your home which is usually located near the water heater. 

  • If you take all of these steps to turn off the water to the toilet but it continues to overflow, immediately call a plumber. This is a sign that you may not be dealing with a toilet clog, but a sewage backup from your septic tank or your city's septic system.

3 | Clear your clog.

Before anything else, be sure to grab a pair of gloves to wear while unclogging the toilet. Then, grab a bucket and remove a few inches of excess water from the toilet bowl to help prevent water splashing all over you and your bathroom during this process. 

Try the following to clear your toilet clog:

  • Plunge the clog - Find a plunger with a flange on the bottom so that it will create a tight seal around the toilet drain hole to efficiently dislodge the clog. Keeping the plunger upright, push up and down vigorously for about 15 to 20 seconds to force water and air into the drain. The toilet may begin to drain itself or require you to flush again to completely clear the clog. Try and use your best judgment before flushing the toilet again to prevent another overflow.
  • Snake the drain - A toilet snake is a flexible cable that navigates through the twists and turns of the toilet drain and essentially pulls out whatever is clogging it. These can be rented by the day at your local hardware store. To use, put the hook end of the snake into the toilet bowl and turn the crank on it clockwise to extend the cable down into the drain. When you can't go any further, you've found your clog. When you reach the clog, turn the crank counter clockwise to pull it out of the drain and pour it out into a bucket. Perform this process a few times to be sure you've gotten all of the clog. Then, pour what you have in your bucket back into the toilet in small amounts to properly dispose of it.
  • If neither of these work or the second option seems like more than you can (or want) to handle, call a local plumbing professional to do it for you.

4 | Clean up standing water - if safe to do so.

If the water that comes out of your toilet is clean water from a toilet malfunction, you can clean up the water yourself with proper protective equipment

If the water from your overflow contained any foreign objects, contaminants, or was from a sewer backup - Do not perform clean up yourself. Contaminated water can make you seriously ill when you come into contact with it as it may contain raw sewage, bacteria, and other microorganisms. In these cases, call a local biohazard and water damage restoration company to properly handle the cleanup. 

Water Damage From Toilet Overflows

Even after you’ve cleaned up the standing water from a toilet overflow yourself and see no visible damage, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Depending on what floor the overflow occurred, how long it flowed, and what type of water it was, it can cause an immense amount of water damage to the following:

  • Drywall
  • Subfloors
  • Flooring
  • Ceilings of lower level rooms
  • Carpet
  • Insulation
  • Electrical wiring
  • Molding

When moisture or water damage in these areas is unaddressed, your home may suffer from structural damages over time and produce the growth of mold in as little as 48 hours after the overflow. It’s extremely important to completely address water damage to save time and money in the long run! 

When a toilet overflow happens to you, you should call a water damage restoration service that can work directly with your insurance company. These companies are sure to remove all water, completely dry your property, and properly clean & sanitize afterwards to ensure your family does not experience health effects and that no mold will grow.

Need Help After A Toilet Overflow? Call SERVPRO - 800-734-3213

SERVPRO of Branford/Shoreline is a 24/7 emergency service specializing in water damage, fire damage, mold remediation and COVID-19 disinfection services. Don't wait for damage to get worse, call SERVPRO to make it "Like it never even happened."

How To Prepare For A Blizzard & Stay Safe

11/5/2020 (Permalink)

photo of sign in a blizzard that reads "winter storm warning" with text preparing for a blizzard Prepare for the worst but hope for the best when it comes to blizzards this winter season.

Living in New England, winter storms are nothing new. We're used to waking up with a nice dusting of snow on the ground throughout the winter months with no need to prepare (unlike some Southern states that shutdown for half an inch of snow!). But, there are times when winter weather delivers blizzards that can last days - causing low visibility, extreme cold, power outages, and disruption to emergency services.

When you know a blizzard is coming your way, you should prepare to keep you and your family safe and warm during extreme weather. Following these preparedness and safety tips will keep you ready if you are snowed in this winter.

Preparing For A Blizzard: Checklist

  • Prepare or double check your emergency survival kit. You want your kit to have all the proper supplies needed in the event of an emergency or major disaster. Your kit should be easy to carry in case you must evacuate your home. According to the Red Cross, your emergency kit should at minimum contain the following:
    • Water - One gallon per person, per day
    • Food - Non-perishable items that are easy to prepare, even without power
    • Flashlight - Battery powered and hand-crank is best
    • Radio - Battery powered or hand-crank
    • Extra batteries
    • First aid kit
    • Stocked for all everyday medications
    • A multi-purpose tool
    • Personal hygiene items
    • Copies of all important personal documents
    • Cell phones and chargers
    • Emergency contact information
    • Extra cash
    • Emergency blanket - These are brightly colors and heat reflective if you are stranded
    • Pet supplies
  • Prepare your vehicle in case of emergencies or evacuation. Fill your gas tank and be sure your car is ready to drive in winter conditions.
  • Charge electronic devices. Your phones should be charged along with any portable chargers you may have. You may also want to charge laptops or portable game systems for something to do if the power goes out.
  • Get your home ready. Ideally, you should storm proof your home to keep it better insulated from cold winds, especially if you lose power. You can apply weather-stripping to doors and windows and seal any cracks or air gaps. You should also be sure to insulate pipes, especially those on the exterior walls of your home so they do not freeze and burst.
  • Prepare warm clothing. In case the worse happens, having warm, layered clothing is a must. Gather any winter hats or gloves you may also have around the house.
  • Bring any outdoor animals inside or to a safe place. If you shouldn't be out in a blizzard - your animals shouldn't either. Make sure they have enough food and shelter to last the storm.
  • Have a secondary heating source ready. If you have a fireplace, be sure to stock up on firewood. If using a portable generator, be sure to get fuel and store it in an airtight gas can.
  • Test or install your fire and carbon monoxide detectors. This is especially important in case the power goes out and you utilize a fireplace, portable generator, or candles to have light or heat.
  • Make sure you have a snow shovel before the snow starts. Without one, you may be stuck in your house for longer than planned. Getting ice melt, salt, or sand will also be helpful.
  • Know where you can seek shelter. If your power goes out for an extended amount of time or tree weighed down by snow and ice falls on your home, you will want to know where the closest shelter is.
  • Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia. If the power goes out or you are stranded in the cold, it's important to know the signs of these so you can begin treatment right away.
    • Frostbite: Causes loss of feeling and colors around your face, fingers, and toes. Skin may turn white or grayish-yellow. If you suspect frostbite, go to a warm room, soak in warm water, or use body heat to warm. Do not use a heating pad.
    • Hypothermia: Unusually low body temperature, under 95 degrees. Signs of this are shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech or drowsiness. If you suspect hypothermia you can do the following: Go to a warm room, warm the center of the body first (chest, neck, head, groin), keep dry and wrapped in warm blankets.

During the Blizzard

When blizzards bring heavy snows, you should stay off the roads if possible. Visibility becomes extremely limited, and it is easy to become stranded in areas where plows haven't gone by. If you are stranded in a car during a blizzard, try and keep warm as best as you can and call for help.

During the storm, you should also stay up to date with the latest weather reports. This way you can know when the storm will start, how much snow to expect, and receive any updates as to whether or not you should evacuate.

If you followed the checklist above, you and your family should be able to stay safe even if you lose power during a blizzard. Staying warm, hydrated, and eating enough should be enough until you can stay in a place with power or power returns to your home.

How To Prevent Ice Dams on Your Roof This Winter

11/2/2020 (Permalink)

photo of ice dam forming on the edge of roof of log cabin, large icicles hanging down Combatting ice dams before they start is your best chance to prevent water damage to your home this winter.

In areas that get a considerable amount of snow and cold weather each winter, Ice Dams are nothing new. But just because your home is subjected to New England winters doesn’t mean you should have to deal with the consequences of snow and ice building up on your roof. Taking the proper steps to prevent ice dams can help protect your home from water damage this winter. 

How Do Ice Dams Form?

Ice dams form as snow melts and refreezes again on your roof. Water migrates from the peak of the roof down to the eaves where it is cooler and refreezes. This melting and refreezing continues, causing a large amount of ice to form over time at the roof eave.

This makes it harder for melted snow or ice to drip from the roof, and acts as a magnet for melted water. This cycle continues as long as the dam is not removed or completely melted away by warm weather. 

The source of the formation of an ice dam is a warm roof. When your attic space is warm, the heat transfers to the underside of your roof and causes snow to melt. This melted snow flows down the roof and refreezes at the edges, as the overhang is not warmed by the attic. The large mass that is created over time is your ice dam, and it can spread to soffit vents and gutters as well. When your attic is any warmer than freezing, you are likely to end up with this issue. 

Ice dams (like icicles) are dangerous for your family and pets. They can come crashing down at a moments notice, especially when outdoor temperatures unexpectedly rise. 

What Are the Consequences?

The damage that can be caused by ice dams is not small by any means. As dams build up and become larger over time, they can damage your roof by just the weight of the ice. Dams may cause it to begin to sag or slope. 

As they melt, dams can cause a huge amount of water damage to your home. As ice melts, water seeps in between the shingles of the roof and refreezes and expands, in turn loosening the shingles of the roof. When shingles are loose, it creates a pathway for melted snow and ice to easily enter the interior part of the roof and drip into the interior of your home. 

When this water enters your home, it saturates everything in its path: Insulation, wood framing, drywall, and even your belongings. This moisture can cause extensive water damage to not only your attic, but your living spaces as well. When leaks are not caught, they can cause structural issues and cause mold to grow in the walls, floors, and ceilings of your home. 

Waiting for warm weather to come melt your ice dam is NOT a solution! Waiting will only allow your damages to get worse, and when the dam finally melts much of the melted ice will directly enter your home. When ice dams aren’t taken care of, they can continue to cause damage to your home even long after they’re gone.

How to Prevent Ice Dams on Your Roof

  • Remove snow with a roof rake. If your home is prone to damming, you can prevent it before it starts by removing all snow from the roof so it has no chance to melt and turn into ice.
  • Roof heat cables. These should be mounted to your roof before winter weather hits in a zig-zag formation to keep the exterior of it warm and prevent snow or ice from freezing to it. 
  • Eliminate attic heat sources. Warm lights, uninsulated HVAC systems, or vents from dryers or kitchen exhaust fans can send enough heat into the attic to warm the roof.
  • Properly insulate and vent your attic to keep it cold. This will ensure that there is no heat loss from the living space of your home into the attic. Keeping the attic as cool as outside and prevents the conditions for ice dams to form. Take the following steps to properly keep your attic cool during the winter:
    • Ventilation: Install vents at the soffit and at the ridge of the roof to provide air flow between the actual roof and the insulation. This will keep the immediate underside of the roof cold even if the attic absorbs heat from your living space.
    • Insulation: You should properly insulate the floor of the attic and seal all air leaks from the main living space. If it is a finished room that has the roof directly above it, be sure that the rafter spaces above the ceilings are properly insulated. These methods will prevent the heat from the living space from rising it up and warming the roof.

Safely Removing Ice Dams

There are many DIY methods for ice dam removal online, but many of these tactics can cause damage to your roof and are not necessarily safe for you to do yourself. Using salt to melt a dam or chipping the ice off of the roof yourself can cause just as much damage as the mound of ice itself. So what should you do?

Always hire a professional for proper ice dam removal.

Ice dam removal companies use specialized equipment to get the job done without damaging the shingles of your roof. Most companies use a high temperature, low pressure steam machine to melt the ice right off your roof without any impact.

Using other methods such as a power washer or manually chipping ice off yourself will surely damage or rip shingles right off your roof, and end up requiring even more work and money to remedy when springtime comes around.

Need Ice Dam Removal? Call SERVPRO - 800-734-3213

SERVPRO of Branford/Shoreline is a 24/7 damage restoration company specializing in fire, water, mold and COVID-19 services. Make damage "Like it never even happened."

How To Prepare For A Tornado

10/29/2020 (Permalink)

couple looking at disaster from tornado behind them Being prepared before natural disasters strike is the best way to stay safe and quickly recover.

If a tornado warning was issued in your area - Would you feel prepared? The most effective way to stay safe during severe weather or a tornado is to be ready well before it ever hits. Don't wait for extreme weather to devise a plan with your family. Instead, take these steps to always be prepared for extreme weather in your area, especially if it is common.

How To Be Prepared For Extreme Weather

  • Have a plan for where you and your family will go in case a tornado strikes. Have a plan ready for different places your family is frequently at - Home, work, or at friend's or relatives' houses.
  • Designate what room in your home people and pets should take shelter in during extreme weather. Ideally this should be in the lowest level of your home, such as a basement or cellar. If you don't have either of these, find an interior room in your home on the lowest floor with no windows or exterior doors.
  • Teach children what position they should be in during a tornado to stay safe from flying debris: Sit low with your arms covering your head and neck.
  • Always have a first aid kit ready and stocked in your home in case of emergency or in the event emergency services are disrupted.
  • Check with your work and children's school or daycare regarding their tornado safety protocols and emergency dismissal policies.
  • Locate the closest shelter or evacuation shelter so you are already informed if your home is damaged in the tornado.
  • Teach your family what to do when extreme weather strikes, where the emergency and first aid kit is, as well as how and when to turn off the electricity, water, and gas in your home. Mark these shutoff valves to make it easy for others to turn them off if needed.
  • Teach your family the difference between a tornado watches and warnings.
    • Tornado watch: This means that the current weather conditions are just right to generate a tornado, but there has not been one spotted. When a watch is sent out, teach your family to avoid going outside if possible until it passes and to keep an eye on the weather announcements.
    • Tornado warning: This means that a tornado has been spotted in the surrounding area and that you should immediately find shelter in a sturdy building and take cover.
  • Learn the warning signs of a tornado:
    • Dark or green colored sky
    • Large, dark, low lying cloud
    • Large hail
    • Loud roar that sounds similar to a freight train
  • Have your emergency kit always stocked and ready. According to the Red Cross, it should contain at least the following:
    • Water - One gallon per person, per day
    • Food - Non-perishable items that are easy to prepare, even without power
    • Flashlight - Battery powered and hand-crank is best
    • Radio - Battery powered or hand-crank
    • Extra batteries
    • First aid kit
    • Stocked for all everyday medications
    • A multi-purpose tool
    • Personal hygiene items
    • Copies of all important personal documents
    • Cell phones and chargers
    • Emergency contact information
    • Extra cash
    • Emergency blanket - These are brightly colors and heat reflective if you are stranded
    • Pet supplies

Take these steps to ensure that you and your family are well-prepared any time extreme weather or tornadoes strike in your area. 

Help! My Neighbor’s Tree Fell On My House

10/27/2020 (Permalink)

photo of large tree that fell on blue house When a neighbor's tree falls on your house, figuring out who's responsible can be confusing.

It’s unfortunate enough when a tree in your yard falls on your house - but when your neighbor’s tree falls on your house, the situation is a lot more complicated. Who is responsible for the damages? Who files an insurance claim? Who pays for tree removal? Here, we will clarify who is responsible when a neighbor’s tree falls on your house. 

Who’s Responsible For A Fallen Tree?

Scenario 1: Your neighbor's tree falls on your house

Whenever a tree falls on a home - it doesn’t matter where it came from to determine who is responsible for filing an insurance claim or covering for the damages. The only thing that does matter is whose house it landed on and why. So, that means if a tree in your neighbor’s yard falls on your home during a bad storm - you’re responsible for filing an insurance claim. The neighbor’s insurance policy will not cover it. 

Scenario 2: A tree from your property falls on your neighbor's house

In this case, your neighbor would be responsible for filing a claim and cleaning up any debris or damages on their property from your tree. In these cases you can feel ‘lucky’ that you didn’t have to file a claim and that no damage was done to your house. 

Scenario 3: Your tree falls on your home

This may not be as confusing as the other scenarios, but it is worth mentioning that you will be responsible for filing an insurance claim and taking care of any damages. 

Scenario 4: A neighbor's tree damages your house, but you think it was because it was old, damaged, or weak.

Since fallen trees are only covered due to “named perils” such as high winds, lightning strikes, vandalism, or a car crashing into the tree - insurance does not want to cover the damage for a tree that falls due to negligence or lack of preventative maintenance. If your neighbor has a tree in their yard that you think may fall on your home, approach them, point out the issue, and document it. This way, if the dying or weak tree falls on your home, you can argue to your insurance company that you took steps to prevent it and that it should be covered. 

Common Questions:

What if the fallen tree doesn't damage my home?

According to Allstate, if a tree falls on your house and causes no damages, insurance will not cover the cost of removing the tree. In these cases, it may not have been worth it to file a claim anyways, depending on your deductible and the size of the tree. 

What does tree removal usually cost without insurance?

The cost of tree removal is between an average of $500-$1,200, making it less than many homeowner's deductibles. Cost usually depends on the size of the tree and the location of where it fell.

What is the average cost of insurance claims from fallen trees?

According to Consumer Reports, the average amount paid by insurance companies for fallen tree claims was $4,110, and was only 7 percent of all settled claims.

What if a neighbor's tree just falls in my yard, and not on my house?

As mentioned earlier, when a tree falls and causes no damages it will not be covered by your insurance policy. You will be responsible for all debris cleanup and removal yourself.

Need Help With Fallen Tree Damage & Cleanup? Call SERVPRO - 800-734-3213

How To Put Out A Microwave Fire

10/21/2020 (Permalink)

photo of fire inside of a microwave Don't be overwhelmed if your microwave catches fire - Many times you will have no problem putting it out.

Most of us use our microwaves at least once a day without issue. According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), microwave fires account for only 4% of all home cooking fires every year, making it one of the safest appliances in your kitchen! Even so, it’s still possible to accidentally start a fire in your microwave (just ask the many college students making easy-mac across the country!). Knowing what to do if a fire starts in your microwave can make sure you stay safe and prevent as much fire damage as possible in your home.   

What To Do If There's A Fire in The Microwave

  1. Immediately turn off the microwave and unplug it if the fire isn’t spreading and you can reach the cord. This will turn the fan off and stop feeding oxygen to the fire.
  2. Keep the microwave door CLOSED. This may cause the fire to suffocate and put itself out.
  3. Call the fire department if the fire has a risk of spreading or won’t go out on it’s own.
  4. Throw out the microwave.

Common Causes of Microwave Fires or Disasters

Preventing a microwave fire is easy if you know the top causes of them. Be sure to not to do any of the following:

  • Leaving food in the microwave for too long. When you accidentally leave your popcorn in the microwave for too long and step away, you may come back to a smoky, sooty mess inside of it. Maybe you put leftovers in the microwave and entered twenty minutes rather than two minutes by mistake and walked away, not realizing the mistake until you smell something burning ten minutes in.
    • Is food sparking? Most of the time this isn’t a problem - Sparks aren't a sign of microwave malfunctions and aren't very likely to start a fire.
  • Putting non-microwave safe containers in the microwave. Be sure to double check whether or not a new container is safe before putting it in the microwave (Like the takeout container from last night). Cheap or styrofoam containers may melt or warp and create a mess to clean up. Microwave warnings are usually printed on the underside of the container.
  • Putting things in the microwave that absolutely cannot go in it. These items are highly prone to creating a disaster to cleanup in your microwave or could even start a small fire:
    • Aluminum foil
    • Paper bags
    • Plastic bags
    • Metal travel mugs
    • Metal cutlery
    • Paper takeout containers with metal handles (like Chinese takeout boxes)
    • Certain foods like peppers, hard boiled eggs, or other things that may explode when cooking at a high temperature.

Common Questions

Can I keep my microwave after it had a fire in it?

Keeping your microwave will depend on how large the fire was, what caught on fire, and if any components of the microwave were damaged. If you forgot to put water in an instant ramen or easy mac and were able to turn off the microwave when it started to smoke, but didn’t catch fire, you should be fine to keep it. It may smell or be discolored but work fine. If there was an actual fire in the microwave, inspect to see if it was damaged by it. In these situations, we would recommend throwing it out and buying a new one. 

How do I get rid of the smell after a microwave fire?

After a microwave fire, the odor coming from it may be enough for you to want to throw it out. If you want to try and get rid of the smell to continue using it, we recommend the following:

  • Microwave a bowl with 1 tablespoon of vinegar and half a cup of water for 5 minutes, then let it sit and steam for about 15 to 20 minutes. White vinegar helps to neutralize smells and remove food stains.
  • Use a clean rag to clean out any burnt food or stains from the interior of the microwave.
  • Leave the door open to dry. 

Does insurance cover the damages from microwaves that start a house fire?

Yes, your insurance company should cover any accidental fires in your home so long as you did not start it intentionally and it was not due to lack of maintenance. 

Fire, Smoke, or Odors in Your Home? Call SERVPRO - 800-734-3213

SERVPRO of Branford/Shoreline is a 24/7 damage restoration service specializing in fire, water, mold and COVID-19 services. Whatever your damage, call SERVPRO to make it "Like it never even happened."