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Water in Basement: Who To Call & When

11/25/2020 (Permalink)

flooded basement in Morristown, New Jersey When there's water in your basement, it's hard to figure out who you're supposed to call and when.

When there's water in your basement, it's not always clear who you're supposed to call first. Do you need to call your plumber? Should you call your insurance company first? And what about who to call for your flooded basement cleanup?

The answers to these questions lies in the source of your basement flooding. Here, we will go over who to call and when during a basement water problem.

When To Call Your Plumber

When the source of the water in your basement is due to a plumbing issue, you'll want to call your plumber first. There are many plumbing issues that can cause a wet basement that need to be repaired as soon as possible to stop the flooding. Before calling your plumber, try to turn off your main water valve to prevent any more flooding by yourself and reduce water damage.

When to call your plumber for water in your basement:

  • Burst water pipes
  • Frozen pipes
  • Water softener malfunction
  • Water heater leaking
  • Plumbing leaks
  • Toilet overflows
  • Call them before having someone out to clean up

When To Call Your HVAC Contractor

Surprising to many homeowners, there are times when the source of your basement flooding is due to your heating or cooling system. You can help mitigate these issues by turning of the AC or your heating system.

When to call your HVAC contractor for water in your basement:

  • Clogged condensate drain line
  • Clogged/overflowing condensate pump
  • Furnace leaking
  • Disconnected refrigerant lines
  • Cracked drain pan
  • Call them before having someone out to clean up

When To Call Your Insurance Company

You can call your insurance company any time your basement floods, but you should be aware when your flooding isn't covered to save yourself time and frustration on the phone. It's best to call your insurance company immediately after you find flood damage so that they can get claim filed as soon as possible.

Your insurance company will also be able to inform you of any other steps or companies you should be calling to have the issue resolved. You can call your insurance company after you have already had the problem fixed and cleaned up to seek reimbursement, but the reimbursement will not be guaranteed.

Times when your basement flooding will be covered by insurance and you should call them are:

  • Flooding due to a burst pipe
  • Flooding due to broken appliances, such as water heaters, refrigerator lines, or washing machines
  • Flooding due to your HVAC system

Unfortunately, most standard homeowners insurance policies do not cover groundwater basement flooding. You can purchase supplemental coverage if your basement is prone to this type of flooding. This coverage usually only applies if you take steps to prevent flooding through waterproofing.

When To Call A Flood Cleanup Company

You'll want to call a water damage restoration company to perform water removal and drying of your basement. But, you shouldn't call them until the source of your problem is fixed or no longer causing flooding. This is so that their efforts to clean up your flooded basement aren't ruined by more water.

You should call a water damage restoration company:

  • After the source of flooding has stopped or been repaired
  • When you cannot clean up all the water yourself
  • When your insurance company says to call
  • When you notice mold growth
  • When it happened in a finished basement

When To Call Your Basement Waterproofing Company

If your basement is high risk of flooding, you likely have taken steps to help ensure it doesn't by basement waterproofing. No one wants water in their basement every time it rains. Unfortunately, there are times when these precautions fails and there is still water all over your basement floor.

You should call your basement waterproofing company:

  • After the flood has been stopped and cleaned up
  • When flooding is due to a failed sump pump
  • When installed drainage systems have failed or have clogged
  • When you notice water coming through the basement walls
  • If cracks appear in the foundation wall
  • If water enters the basement every time there are heavy rains

Related Resources:

What To Do When Your Basement Floods

What is Basement Efflorescence?

Why There's Water in Your Basement After Rain

Ways To Prevent Mold in Your Commercial Building

11/18/2020 (Permalink)

photo of black and white mold behind a wall in a business Taking steps to prevent mold in your commercial building will save you time and money in the long run.

Preventing mold in a business or commercial property is important to avoid any allergens or irritants to your tenants, customers, or employees. On top of potential health effects, a widespread mold problem can result in the need for thousands of dollars worth of mold remediation and disrupt your normal business operations. The good news is there are easy steps to take to prevent the growth of mold in your building.

6 Ways to Prevent Indoor Mold

1. Understand why mold grows.

Mold spores are around us all the time, but these spores are invisible to the human eye. Mold spores are relatively harmless and only become an issue once they are exposed to moisture or higher than normal humidity levels. These spores can enter your building through the HVAC system, pets, or even your clothes.

When exposed to water, spores will quickly produce the mold colonies we are used to seeing on virtually any surface. Any time your business experiences water damage, you are at risk of a mold infestation. You want to prevent environments that are conducive for mold to grow.

2. Don't ignore the signs of mold.

Sometimes mold grows in places that you cannot see, especially if there is a hidden water leak or moisture behind a wall. There are other indications of mold that you should investigate when they arise:

  • Strong, musty odors
  • Sudden persistent allergies
  • Recent water damage or flooding
  • Discoloration you suspect could be mold

3. Promptly fix water leaks & dry-out building materials properly.

When a leak is identified in your building, take steps to fix it right away. The longer a leak goes on, the more likely it is for mold to begin to grow. A leak detection system can be helpful in large commercial buildings so that leaks don't go unnoticed for an extended amount of time.

After your leak has been fixed, you still need to take the necessary steps to ensure all water is removed and the affected area is completely dried. If it isn't, you're likely to have a mold problem on your hands in as little as 48 hours. For larger flooding or water damage events on your commercial property, it is best to call a water damage restoration company to do the job right and help prevent the growth of mold.

4. Control humidity levels in the building.

The EPA recommends that indoor humidity should be at a level between 30-60 percent. Higher than normal humidity can produce mold growth in your building without a water leak or flooding. Signs of higher than normal humidity include condensation on pipes, windows, or walls. Monitor the humidity levels in your building and take steps to lower it if needed.

5. Address the ventilation system.

Mold can hide in your HVAC system and quickly spread around the entire building when it turns on. Keeping your air ducts clear and clean can help prevent spreading mold across an entire building.

6. Turn to the experts for mold remediation services.

When you find mold in your commercial property, you may be learning towards remediating the issue yourself to save money. In most cases, this will result in the mold issue returning because it was not handled properly.

Mold remediation companies take steps to contain the affected area, remove affected materials, filter mold spores out of the air, and clean & sanitize to prevent it from coming back. Reconsider before trying to remove mold yourself.

Mold Problems? Call SERVPRO - 800-734-3213

SERVPRO of Morristown is a damage restoration company specializing in mold remediation, fire damage, water damage, and COVID-19 disinfection services. 

Preventing Restaurant Fires: 7 Tips

11/10/2020 (Permalink)

photo of cooking fire in a commercial kitchen Taking steps to prevent fires in your restaurant will save you thousands of dollars and keep your doors open.

Taking fire prevention seriously in your commercial kitchen can save you thousands of dollars in repairs and restoration after a fire. After all, restaurant fires cause $165 million in property damage every year. Follow the tips outlined here to reign in fire hazards in your restaurant.

7 Ways To Prevent Restaurant Fires

1 | Properly clean up grease. Be sure that your employees are regularly and correctly cleaning exhaust hoods, dryers, broilers, and grills to ensure that there is no grease buildup. Make sure grease traps are cleaned out regularly as well. Cooking oil igniting caused 43% of fires in restaurants - so take preventative steps to ensure it does not build up.

2 | Have multiple fire extinguishers located around the restaurant. If a small fire starts, you want to be able to put it out before it has a chance to spread. Be sure that your fire extinguishers are up to date and are the correct class for your needs.

3 | Install and regularly test your fire suppression system. Sprinkler systems can help suppress a fire, prevent it from spreading, and allow time for employees and customers to safely exit the building.

4 | Test fire alarms and emergency lighting. Fire alarms allow everyone in the building time to know that 1) there is a fire and 2) they need to evacuate. Emergency lighting makes it easier for people to navigate your restaurant during an emergency.

5 | Take steps to prevent electrical fires. Older commercial kitchens may have outdated wiring that cannot handle the voltage of your modern cooking equipment or the large volume of equipment being used. Inspect for fraying wires, loose plugs, and ensure any electrical equipment is up to date and doesn't overheat.

6 | Have your exhaust system cleaned regularly. Although your staff should be routinely cleaning the exhaust hood of grease and debris, it can still build up in the exhaust vents and pose a risk of fire. Contact a professional company to do this for you.

7 | Ensure that your kitchen staff is properly trained. At a minimum, all of your staff should be well informed on the following:

  • Where the fire extinguishers are and how to use them.
  • Keep flammable items away from open flames.
  • Do not leave food cooking unattended.
  • Proper way to put out a grease fire.
  • How to properly mix cleaning chemicals, and know which ones cannot be mixed.
  • How to properly store flammable liquids.
  • Where the gas, water, an electric emergency shutoffs are located.

Following these kitchen fire safety tips can help to prevent a major fire damage disaster in your restaurant, and keep you up and running sooner if one does occur.

Fire Damage? Call SERVPRO - 800-734-3213

SERVPRO of Morristown is a 24/7 cleanup & restoration company specializing in water damage, fire damage, mold remediation and COVID-19 disinfection services.

Everything To Know About Furnace Puffbacks

11/5/2020 (Permalink)

photo of soot and smoke staining walls of home from a furnace puffback The black stains on the walls and ceilings of this home are actually smoke and soot from a furnace puffback.

What Are Puff Backs?

A puffback is an explosion or misfire inside the burner chamber of your furnace or boiler. Note: Hot-air systems use furnaces while steam/hot water systems use boilers. The explosion sends smoke and soot throughout your home, leaving black residue on walls, furniture, curtains, and more. Many times, a puffback will require a professional smoke & soot cleaning service in order to restore your home back to normal. 

Why Do Puffbacks Happen?

When your furnace or boiler doesn’t ignite properly, oil or gas vapors are able to build up in the combustion chamber over time. When these built up vapors finally ignite, the excess amount of fuel in the chamber causes an explosion which sends soot and smoke throughout the heating system of your home. 

Puffbacks are not always one large explosion - They sometimes occur overtime with constant, smaller misfires that you aren’t able to notice until black soot has finally built up months later. On the other hand, if there is a large explosion in your furnace you will immediately be able to smell it and see black soot coming from your heating vents. 

While the misfires that cause puffbacks can happen in both oil and gas-fueled heating systems, they are more common and damaging in oil furnaces or boilers. Oil does not dissipate as easily as gas, and is more likely to build up in your combustion chamber. Oil system puffbacks are also more damaging because oil produces more soot and smoke when it combusts than gas.

What Actually Causes A Puffback?

When fuel accumulates in the combustion chamber, it causes a misfire. But what causes fuel to build up? There are a few causes of fuel buildup in gas or oil burners:

  1. Leaks in the fuel supply line or at the combustion chamber
  2. Clogged or cracked oil fuel nozzles
  3. Clogged exhaust
  4. Clogged burner

These issues can cause excess oil or gas to build up in the combustion chamber and lead to a puffback when it finally ignites.

How Can You Prevent Them?

  • Have your heating system serviced once a year. Even when there is nothing wrong with your system, it is still important to have regular maintenance to ensure it continues to run smoothly. Your HVAC professional will be able to locate any issues or fuel buildup and resolve them to prevent a puffback.
  • Install or replace the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector. If your furnace has a puffback, the carbon monoxide levels will rise due to the combustion. Installing or upkeep your detector may allow you to detect misfires in the early stages, before they cause much damage.
  • Learn the signs that your heating system may not be working properly. When it isn’t, it may be a sign you are at risk for a puffback. Signs include:
    • Oil leaks
    • Loud furnace ignition
    • Noises that continues after the system is off
    • Unusual odors
    • Noticing soot buildup around your home
  • Take immediate action. If you identify any of the above warning signs in your home or are worried there is something wrong with your heating system, you should always take action quickly. This way, you can prevent a major, sooty mess in your home from a puffback. Misfires are also dangerous - since they are a literal explosion inside your heating system. 

What Should You Do If It Happens to You?

Take these steps as soon as you identify a puffback to prevent further damages to your home and your heating system:

  • Immediately turn off the heating system. This will prevent further misfires, damage, and soot from spreading around the building.
  • Evacuate the building if there is risk of a fire, a large amount of smoke, or the carbon monoxide detector is going off. These conditions are not safe.
  • Document everything for your insurance company if you will be filing a claim. While most puffbacks are caused by lack of maintenance on the homeowner’s part, it doesn't hurt to see if it will be covered.
  • Contact your HVAC professional. They will need to inspect and repair the system before it can be turned back on. 
  • Contact a local professional puffback cleanup service. For smaller puffbacks, it may seem like you can handle the cleaning yourself, but without the correct knowledge and materials you can actually make damages worse and smear soot further into walls and upholstery. There is also likely more to clean than what you can see with the naked eye. Soot and smoke cleanup companies utilize dry chemical sponges to get soot off of walls and show just how much of your home is affected.

Call SERVPRO of Morristown For Puffback Cleanup - 800-734-3213

SERVPRO of Morristown is a 24/7 damage restoration company specializing in fire, water, mold and COVID-19 services. Call us today to make any disaster "Like it never even happened."

9 Ways To Prevent Water Damage in Your Business

11/3/2020 (Permalink)

flooded warehouse space in New Jersey Flooding in your business can bring operations to a full stop for days.

Preventing business water damage is something every commercial property owner should think about. Water leaks can cause costly damages to your business and even force you to close until the issue is resolved and repaired. Here, we will go over tips to help keep your small or large business running even in the event of water damage or flooding.

9 Tips To Prevent Business Water Damage

  1. Take steps to prevent burst pipes. When temperatures drop in the winter, exposed pipes near exterior walls or in unheated areas of your business are at risk of freezing and causing a major flood. Prevent frozen pipes by insulating them and keeping the heat at a sufficient level.
  2. Know where the main water shutoff valve is. When a pipe breaks or an appliance lets go, shutting off the water as soon as possible is the key to preventing major flooding and water damage in your business. Be sure to know where the shutoff valve is, label it, and be sure your employees are aware of its location as well.
  3. Inspect your gutters and drainage system at least once a year. Leaves and other debris can make their way into your gutters and prevent it from correctly navigating water away from the building. This can cause water damage to the exterior of the building as well as cause water seepage into the interior.
  4. Inspect and keep your roof clear. The best way to save money on roof repairs in the long run is to catch issues when they are still small. Catching a roof leak early can prevent thousands of dollars worth of water damage and possible mold remediation in your business.
  5. Regularly inspect water supply line hoses to appliances. This includes refrigerators, washing machines, ice makers, and other appliances that use water. When these come loose, they have a slow leak over time that causes mold and mildew to grow, or can possibly cause a flooded basement. Replace hoses every 3-5 years or once they are clearly worn to prevent them from failing.
  6. Invest in regular maintenance for your HVAC and plumbing systems. Having a professional coming out to inspect all of these aspects in your business once a year can prevent a water disaster. They can ensure there are no clogs in AC lines, that water heaters and furnaces are working correctly, and identify any potential issues before they cause damage.
  7. Invest in a water detection system. Water leak detection systems can sense potential or active water leaks and automatically shut off the water when a irregular flow or moisture is detected. This is extremely helpful for places in your business you don't frequent and may not realize there is a small leak until it turns into a large flood.
  8. Establish a water emergency plan. Rapid response is essential when it comes to minimizing the damages from a water leak or flooding. Creating a plan will help to ensure you mitigate damages as much as possible. Contact and set up an account with a local water damage restoration company so that they can respond to your emergency at a moment's notice and are already familiar with your commercial building.
  9. Protect your business with commercial property insurance. Commercial water damage can become very pricey to pay out of pocket, so it is best to be covered in the case of a disaster.

Taking these water damage prevention steps should keep your business prepared in the case of major property damage from plumbing failures, flooding, or water leaks.

Commercial Water Damage? Call SERVPRO - 800-734-3213

SERVPRO of Morristown is a 24/7 emergency cleanup & restoration company, specializing in water damage, fire damage, mold remediation, and COVID-19 disinfection services. Whatever the disaster, call SERVPRO of Morristown to make it "Like it never even happened."

Preparing For Blizzards This Winter

11/2/2020 (Permalink)

blizzard conditions with sign warning When extreme winter weather hits New Jersey, take these steps to be prepared.

It’s beautiful to wake up to a winter wonderland in New Jersey, but blizzards can be a nightmare. They can last for days and cause low visibility, extreme cold, power outages, and even disrupt emergency services.

When you know a blizzard is making its way to New Jersey, you should always take steps to prepare to ensure you and your family aren’t left in the cold during extreme weather. Following this checklist should help you be prepared if you’re snowed in this winter.

Preparing For A Blizzard: Checklist

  • Prepare or look over 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 grab in a moment's notice 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. A good rule of thumb during the winter is to keep a shovel, salt, or kitty litter in your car in case you get stuck in the snow. 
  • 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. Storm proofing your home is helpful 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. 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 is 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.

What To Do When A Sink Overflows

10/28/2020 (Permalink)

photo of a sink full of soapy water overflowing When not caught, a sink overflow can cause much more damage to your home than you think.

When your kitchen sink overflows, it can create much more than a wet mess in your home. When unnoticed, they can cause extensive flooding, water damage, and even mold growth in your home. Even when caught early, homeowners don't always take all the necessary steps to properly clean up water. Here, we will go over what you should do if a sink overflows and how you can prevent it from happening again in the future.

Steps To Take For A Sink Overflow

  1. Stop the overflow. Hopefully this is as simple as turning the water off.
  2. Cleanup standing water. Grab towels, mops, and buckets. If you have a wet-dry vacuum, it may be helpful to use.
  3. Set up fans and dehumidifiers. This will help ensure the area dries and helps prevent the likelihood of mold forming.
  4. Grab a bucket or bowl. Use it to get as much water as you can out of your sink. Pour it outside or in a working sink.
  5. Fix the cause of the issue. You will likely have to call a plumber or follow the tips later in this article.
  6. Call your insurance company. If you aren't able to clean up the water yourself or there has been a lot of damages, you will want to file a claim.
  7. Call a water damage restoration company. These companies work directly with your insurance company to ensure your home is completely and properly dried out. These companies are highly important when water has made its way under tiles or hardwood and down to the subfloor.

What's The Cause of Overflows?

Whether you have an overflow in a kitchen or bathroom sink, the cause is almost always due to a clogged drain. When the water is left accidentally running or your kids were playing with the water when they shouldn't, it causes the sink to overflow.

The best way to prevent sink overflows is to make sure that their drains stay clear of clogs. When you need to unclog a drain, try the following:

  • Check if the garbage disposal can end the clog. If you turn it on and the sink begins to drain, you're good to go.
  • Try and use a plunger like you would on a toilet.
  • Use boiling water. Pour it directly into the drain in a steady stream. If doesn't unclog, wait a few minutes and then try again.
  • Pour one cup of baking soda down the drain and then one cup of white vinegar. Put a stopper over the drain opening and wait 15 minutes for the mixture to unclog the drain. Take off the cover and then run hot water to clear the clog.
  • Drain-o, or other similar chemical products.
  • Call a plumber.

Prevent Sink Overflows

Since overflows occur due to clogged drains, you will want to take steps to prevent clogs from forming. You can avoid clogs by doing the following:

  • Make sure overflow drains are clear in case of a clog.
  • Don't put food scraps down the drain unless its through the garbage disposal.
  • Avoid getting hair in the sink. Over time it may accumulate into a ball in the pipe.
  • Put a strainer on the drain opening to catch larger pieces of food.
  • Don't put grease down the drain.
  • Don't let kids play in the sink.

Need Help With Water Damage? Call SERVPRO - 800-734-3213

SERVPRO of Morristown is a 24/7 damage restoration company specializing in fire, water, mold and COVID-19 services. Whatever the disaster, make it "Like it never even happened."

What Are The Signs of A Tornado?

10/22/2020 (Permalink)

photo of a large tree on top of a house after a tornado Tornadoes can cause entire trees to fall on your home.

When a tornado comes barreling through New Jersey, it can bring intense winds of over 200 MPH, leaving a path of destruction behind it. A tornado can strike almost out of nowhere and destroy buildings, flip cars, and send debris flying through the air. Knowing the tornado warning signs will help you stay safe and seek shelter before it hits.

Warning Signs of a Tornado

If you see these warning signs, go inside immediately and check your local weather announcements.

  • Dark, green tinted sky
  • Wall clouds, or a cloud of debris
  • A funnel-shaped cloud
  • Large hail without rain
  • Roaring noise, similar to a freight train
  • Unusual calmness of wind

Tornado Watch Vs. Warning

A tornado watch means that the current weather conditions are supportive of generating a tornado. When these come through, you should keep an eye on the weather announcements for any changes.

A tornado warning means that a tornado has been identified in the surrounding area and that you should immediate take cover.

What Should You Do When A Tornado Hits?

When you get notification that your area is under a tornado warning, you should do the following according to

  • If you are near a building, go inside immediately.
  • Go to a safe room, basement or cellar. If there is no basement, take shelter in a small interior room on the lowest floor of the building.
  • Stay away from any windows, doors, or outside walls.
  • Stay away from bridges or overpasses - look for low, flat locations to take shelter.
  • Stay aware of any flying debris that could injure you when looking for shelter.
  • Be sure to use your arms to protect you head.

During a tornado, you should do the following to stay safe:

  • Stay in your safe location you found when you got the tornado warning and do not leave until you know it is safe to do so.
  • Shield yourself further by putting your arms around your head and neck, and barricading furniture or blankets around you to protect from heavy objects.
  • Keep listening to your local emergency or weather station for updates.
  • If not in a safe building, do not try to outrun tornadoes in a car.

What Do You Do After?

  • Continue listening for weather updates.
  • If you are trapped, cover your mouth to not breath in dust or debris. Try and send a text, bang on a wall or a pipe, or whistle rather than shouting for help.
  • Stay clear of any fallen power lines or trees.
  • Do not reenter buildings that have been damages until you're told it is safe.
  • When cleaning up debris, be sure to wear thick gloves and work boots.
  • Call your insurance company if your home or business has been damaged by the tornado.

Experiencing a tornado can be a scary experience, and overwhelming when it does damage to your home or business. Once you call your insurance company, you will want to call a storm damage restoration company to help you cleanup debris and handle any water damage or structural damages caused by the tornado.

Need Help After A Storm? Call SERVPRO- 800-734-3213

SERVPRO of Morristown is a 24/7 damage restoration company specializing in water damage, storm damage, fire damage, and mold remediation. Whatever the disaster, we work hard to make it "Like it never even happened."

Items You Need to Throw Away After A House Fire

10/19/2020 (Permalink)

photo of kitchen after a fire, black smoke and soot everywhere Figuring out what you can keep after a fire in your home can be challenging.

When a fire starts in your home, it's affects can be far reaching. Smoke and soot can cover every item and surface in your home, high heat may have ruined many belongings, and the there may be fire damage to the structure. You'll likely want to be able to recover most of your personal belongings after a home fire - But before you can, you must know what can be salvaged and what items must be thrown away after a fire.

Items To Throw Away After A House Fire

After a fire, you should discard of any items that are burned, melted, or damaged by heat or flames. Always throw away the following items:

  • Melted or stained plastics - Plastics pull in smoke and soot, causing them to stain and making them hard to clean.
  • Non-perishable food items - Although these foods may be in cardboard boxes of metal cans, the high heat of the fire can cause the food to spoil and activate the growth of bacteria. The last thing you need after a fire in your home is to become sick from your food.
  • Food left out or at room temperature - If the power had to be turned off, you'll likely have to throw out everything in your refrigerator. If you had any fruit, vegetables, or any other food left out on counters that were affected by heat or smoke, you should throw them away as well.
  • Medicines or hygiene products - Inspect to see if these items were near high heat, chemicals, or shows signs of being damaged by the fire or smoke. If anything is warped or was open during the fire, do not keep it.
  • Burned clothing and similar materials - There are times when it is possible to clean and keep textile items that were in a house fire by a professional textile restoration company. Do not attempt to clean them yourself, as the smoke, soot, and chemicals present may irritate your skin. Most textiles will also hold a strong smell after a fire.

What Can You Keep After A Fire?

Items that are hard and non-porous are the easiest to clean and keep after a fire. Common items that can be saved are:

  • Glass
  • Metal
  • Hardwood floors (if not burned or sustaining extensive water damage from extinguishing the fire)

Chimney Fire Guide: Causes, Signs & Prevention

10/14/2020 (Permalink)

black soot around a fireplace and a boarded up exterior of a chimney after a flue fire The aftermath of a chimney fire can be overwhelming and filled with extensive damages.

When you burn a fire in your wood stove or fireplace during the winter months, soot, debris, or creosote builds up naturally over time. Although this buildup is natural, it is commonly what causes chimney fires. To help prevent a flue fire in your home this winter season we will review the causes, prevention, and signs of a chimney fire.

Chimney Fire Causes

The main cause of a chimney fire is creosote buildup igniting. Creosote is the residue that sticks to the inner walls of the chimney from the burning fire. Creosote is black or brown, tar-like, sticky, and is highly flammable. When enough builds up in the chimney flue it can easily catch fire from a spark.

How does creosote buildup?

  • Restricted air supply - If the air supply of the fireplace is restricted by glass doors or the damper not being opened wide enough, heated smoke will not be able to rapidly move up and out of the chimney. The longer smoke is in the flue, the more likely it is to leave creosote residue behind.
  • Burning unseasoned or the wrong firewood - Fresh cut wood is high in moisture and produces dense black smoke when burned. Firewood seasoned for at least 6 months produces less smoke. Artificial logs also produce more byproducts when combusting, increasing creosote buildup.
  • Cool flue temperatures - A cold flue creates more condensation, allowing for creosote to more easily build up. Warm the flue before starting a fire if it is not well insulated.

Neglecting to take steps to clean your chimney or not taking steps to reduce the amount of creosote buildup increases your likelihood of a chimney fire occurring in your home.

Signs You're Having A Chimney Fire

A chimney fire can be fast burning or slow burning and both are dangerous.

Fast burning fires are obvious, growing as they burn at high temperatures through the flammable creosote in the flue. Signs you are having an active, fast burning chimney fire are:

  • Loud crackling or popping noises
  • Dense smoke coming down into the fireplace or out of the chimney
  • Flames coming out of the chimney
  • Things on fire or flames dropping down into the fireplace from the chimney
  • Strong, hot smell
  • Many report a 'roaring' sound, like a freight train

If you identify any of these while burning a fire, call 911 and evacuate your home immediately.

Slow burning fires are those that you don't realize are happening in your chimney. They're small enough to not give any signs in the moment they're burning, but they still damage the chimney and cause the fire to spread inside your home. These happen when flammable buildup on the sides of the chimney flue are hot enough to catch fire, but don't have enough fuel to become larger and noticeable. Signs your chimney has experienced a slow burning fire are:

  • Fluffy or ashy creosote. Creosote is usually flat and black
  • Damaged flue tiles
  • Heat damaged structure on the roof
  • Finding chunks of creosote outside or in the fireplace
  • Cracks in the exterior of the chimney
  • Seeing smoke escape through the sides of the chimney

All of these damages are cause by the heat of the slow burning fire in the flue. Many of these signs can only be identified by internal inspection - but only shows another reason to have a professional chimney sweep come and inspect your chimney once a year.

Preventing Chimney Fires

  • Have your chimney inspected and cleaned once a year. If you heavily use it year round, you may need more cleanings. Consult with your chimney sweep to see what they recommend for you.
  • Only burn 'clean' fires. Use seasoned wood to burn a fire that produces less smoke and in turn helps prevent buildup.
  • Make sure the damper is fully open to prevent restricted air flow.
  • Avoid putting paper on top of a fire and instead put it under the grate. When you put paper products on top of the fire, burning fragments can rise up the chimney and light the creosote on fire.

What Can You Do After A Chimney Fire?

Once the fire department has left and the flames have gone out, your home is likely left with a large amount of fire, structural, and smoke damage. You should contact your insurance company to see if your damages are covered, and then contact your local fire damage restoration company to come out and inspect your damages. SERVPRO of Morristown is fire damage restoration company with an in-house construction company - So we can handle your fire from cleanup to rebuild.