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Fire Cleanup and Your Electronics

10/21/2021 (Permalink)

Fire damaged laptop. Smoke particles in your electronics can cause an electric fire in your Washington, NC home.

Many people don't realize it, but even flames from controlled fires such as a candle or cigarette can harm electronics simply by the smoke that fills the air. Smoke is a mixture of gases, solids, and liquid particles that can damage delicate electrical components. The damage is much worse when you have a Washington, NC, house fire, given the large, uncontrolled flames. Smoke and soot can cover every inch of the affected area. Fire cleanup professionals will tell you that smoke gradually builds up layer upon layer on and in electronic devices. This buildup attracts dust and other air particles, which accumulate, eventually causing the machine to overheat. This overheating can lead to an electrical fire. Smoke particles can cause circuit boards to behave erratically. This random behavior happens as a result of electrical currents flowing to unintended areas. To make matters worse, smoke also has an acidic property that will corrode materials that typically comprise electronics, such as metal, plastic, and glass. When soot is combined with moisture, it has similar corrosive effects.

How To Clean Electronics With Smoke Damage

1. Remove the Memory

First and foremost, it's vital to save the memory from the equipment. The memory could be more important than the device itself, and you can move it to a different piece of equipment if needed. Even if the equipment can't be restored, at least you can rescue what is saved on your removable memory. If you're not currently saving files to the cloud, it could be a game-changer for you. By doing this, you have access to your files wherever you are as long as you have an internet connection, and they are safe from disasters, so you'll always have an off-premises backup.

2. Power Off and Unplug

Next, you need to unplug the devices and keep the power off. Even being kept plugged in without being powered on can risk an electrical fire and avoid more potential damage. Leave them unplugged for at least 24 hours.

3. Look for Paperwork

Fire cleanup won't be needed for a device that's covered under warranty. Check any warranty information to see if it covers smoke damage.

4. Wipe Down the Device

Next, you'll need to begin the cleaning process. Remove the outer casing to assess the internal damage. Wipe down non-electronic parts with a damp cloth. You can use compressed air to spray all of the dust, debris, and soot off the delicate electrical components.

5. Let the Device Air Out

Finally, it's time to let everything air out so it can dry thoroughly. If you can leave it to air out for several days, it'll also remove some of the smoke odor.

Fire, smoke, and soot can do a lot of damage to electronics. Fire cleanup may not be successful on all of your smoke-damaged devices. However, if you can do it safely, it's worth trying before spending money on new ones. It's helpful to know beforehand the basics of how to care for electronics that have smoke damage. It could mean the difference between several hundred dollars if you're successful.

Is It Necessary To Call a Restoration Company for a Pipe Burst Cleanup?

10/7/2021 (Permalink)

Worker holding a wrench. We are always ready for a pipe burst cleanup in your Bath, NC building.

Not every pipe burst cleanup will require the skilled and qualified hands of a professional mitigation company in Bath, NC. Sometimes, a pipe burst might occur under a facility sink with PVC connectors, which are easy enough to reconnect and seal. However, some situations will require a professional, and knowing when to call them in is not always obvious.

3 Reasons To Call an Expert for a Pipe Burst Cleanup

A broken pipe, a split in the supply line; each problem is a potential cause for alarm and need for a professional plumber or technician. However, who you call and how you respond often have to do with the severity of the problem and your personal skills.

Knowing when to call a professional is not always easy, but there are ways to assess whether you need a skilled tradesperson or you can resolve the issues on your own. For commercial facilities, there are three ways to determine the need for a professional technician.

1. Water Category

The primary factor determining the need for a sewer cleanup company or in-house cleanup is the water category. Water disasters occur at three category levels. Category one is clean water, and depending on the severity of the damage, you can ask your maintenance to resolve the issue.

Category two is gray water, meaning it is slightly contaminated. With category two, it is best to hire a professional. If you choose to clean gray water, make sure you wear appropriate protective clothing.

Category three is black water. It is the most contaminated and dangerous of all flood categories. Category three floods typically stem from sewage backups. You should never handle category three water. Always hire a professional.

2. Insurance Claim

If the water damage is extensive enough that you will file an insurance claim, you will probably want to hire a professional for the cleanup. In fact, your commercial insurance provider will typically insist on a professional cleanup and restoration.

Before an insurance company will payout on a claim, it ensures the work is guaranteed and performed by a professional. The company does not want to get a claim request later for issues that should have been resolved with an initial plumbing repair.

3. Restoration

While minor leaks are easy enough to repair without concern over significant restoration efforts, major disasters, like a burst pipe, can damage other building elements, from walls to flooring. A professional restoration company is more capable of repairing structural and cosmetic damage. In fact, some companies pride themselves on restoring your property to pre-disaster conditions, "Like it never even happened."

A pipe burst cleanup does not always require a professional restoration company, but it depends on the size and amount of damage. Minor issues, like a cracked pipe under the sink, can typically be resolved by in-house maintenance. However, significant issues, like a burst supply line, will often require a more seasoned and professional approach. Additionally, anytime water is contaminated, insurance is involved, or significant restoration is needed, it is best to consult and work with an experienced water restoration company in Bath, NC.

How To Prevent a Flooded Basement

9/23/2021 (Permalink)

Basement flooded. Avoid water damage to prevent a flooded basement in your Washington, NC, home.

Depending on the area of the country your Washington, NC, home is in, it may be more or less prone to a basement flood or excess moisture. The majority of basements will naturally be more humid than the rest of the house because of their location in the ground. Your homeowners insurance coverage probably covers some flood situations, but not all. There are steps you can take to ensure as much as possible that your basement won't endure flood or any other type of water damage.

How Can I Keep My Basement from Flooding?

1. Maintain Gutters and Downspouts

Regularly inspect and maintain your roof's gutters and downspouts. Make sure they're clear of leaves and other debris. The water should drain at least six feet, ideally 12 feet, from the house and downhill and away from the house. Purchase metal add-on extensions; they're higher quality than plastic and are less likely to leak. You can also install underground PVC pipes to drain water and direct it to another yard area. These pipes are a good option if you don't have enough room for downspout extensions.

2. Install and Maintain a Sump Pump

Having a sump pump can save your potentially flooded basement from a lot of water damage. It should have a 120 volt UPS backup power supply. These UPS power supplies will continue running during a power failure. It should also be equipped with a check valve to drain outside but won't be able to flow back in.

3. Inspect the Drywall

Drywall works like a sponge in a basement flood, wicking moisture from the floor into the walls. Since concrete slabs are prone to seeping water, the drywall should be installed at least 1 inch above the floor to avoid contact with water. You can also get fiberglass-faced drywall that won't wick moisture and isn't mold-friendly.

4. Check for Wall Cracks

Inspect your basement's foundation walls for small, vertical cracks. All houses settle, which causes small cracks. A professional foundation contractor can repair them.

5. Install a Dehumidifier

Install a dehumidifier to eliminate excess moisture that is almost sure to build in your basement. Water damage restoration professionals will advise you to get a dehumidifier with an optional drain hose. This hose will drain the water automatically instead of you having to remember to empty the water receptacle. It's humid much of the year in many areas, especially in basements, so it's best to keep the dehumidifier running 24/7. Having drier air will also keep your air conditioning bill down.

6. Protect Your Flooring

If you have flooring in your partially finished or full basement, it must have a 10 mil plastic vapor barrier between the padding and concrete slab. The padding will soak up any seeping water from the concrete slab, then soak into your carpet or wooden flooring without this barrier. If your basement is carpeted, make sure it's made of synthetic materials. These materials dry quicker and are less prone to mold than other types of carpet.

A basement flood is one thing homeowners hope never to have to encounter. Follow these tips for keeping your basement comfortable and dry.

Your HVAC System Needs Professional Duct Cleaning Services

9/23/2021 (Permalink)

Air duct cleaning. Clean the ducts in your Washington, NC home to avoid further damage.

The ventilation system running through your home has a direct effect on the quality of your indoor air. With this in mind, duct cleaning and maintenance should be a top priority. Commercial cleaning professionals can provide attention to all the components of your ventilation system, so you're confident that the motor, filters, coils, and all other parts are running efficiently.

Six Reasons for Duct Cleaning

When it comes to having your dirty ducts serviced, all companies are not the same. SERVPRO technicians are Here to Help and have the training and commercial equipment necessary to provide the professional results you deserve and expect.

1. Improved Air Quality

Many ventilation systems pull in a wide variety of contaminants, such as dust, microbes, mold spores, and pollutants. Once these contaminants make their way inside your home, there's usually not enough airflow to circulate them back outside. Dirt and dust can build up throughout your ventilation system, causing wear and tear that results in inefficient operation and unnecessary damage.

2. Mold Prevention

Heating and cooling ducts are common breeding grounds for mold growth. When you schedule routine professional maintenance, excess moisture and the organic materials that create a welcoming environment for mold spores are cleared away. Duct cleaning and disinfection steps may also prevent unpleasant musty and mildewy odors, as well as future mold growth.

3. Reduced Heating and Cooling Bills

When your ventilation system is kept clean and well-maintained, the airflow remains consistent, components don't have to work as hard, and the system has an easier time maintaining the desired temperature. When the machinery runs smoothly and doesn't have to work harder than necessary, operation costs are lower, and you save money on your utility bills.

4. Longer Equipment Life Span

Any type of debris in the heating and cooling system can affect the motors, fans, and other moving parts. This causes grinding and wear that damages those parts. In addition to this direct damage, the entire system will wear down more quickly because of the increased workload as the airflow is impacted. Routine repair and maintenance prevent early parts and system replacement.

5. Pest Prevention

Adequate ventilation requires openings that allow for plenty of airflows, and unfortunately, this may also mean that pests have easy access to the ducts. Screening meant to prevent pests becomes damaged and worn as it's exposed to natural elements and different temperatures. Avoid inviting insects and rodents into your home with routine inspections and cleaning services.

6. Increased Comfort

As you work to provide a comfortable living space, your family members and friends are more likely to hang around and enjoy the ambiance of your home. Additionally, clean, fresh-smelling home with comfortable, reliable temperature control is a nice place for you to spend your time.

SERVPRO of Washington, NC, has the specialized equipment and advanced technology necessary to thoroughly clean and repair your heating and cooling system. Team members have been trained in cutting-edge duct cleaning techniques to ensure your satisfaction. When you want to ensure a clean, fresh living environment, reach out to commercial cleaning and maintenance professionals.

Using an Indoor Environmental Specialist To Determine the Presence of Mold

9/20/2021 (Permalink)

Mold. Perform a mold test will determine which type of mold is and the process of cleaning.

When you walk into your building, do you smell something musky or damp? That smell could be mold, but it is challenging to know for certain if you cannot find the source. An indoor environmental specialist, like those employed at mold remediations companies in Washington, NC, can help you find the source of the smell and identify whether the problem is mold. These professionals do these in one of a few ways, including:

  • Taking a physical sample of the growth
  • Performing an air reading for mold spores
  • Taking a sample of the area

Each method will provide varying results, especially of any level of certainty. However, the most effective method to test for mold is taking a sample of the growth and sending it to an off-site lab. Off-site testing is unnecessary for every situation, but if the mold looks suspicious or toxic, an involved mold test will provide the best analysis.

Why Perform a Test?

A test to determine the species of mold is sometimes necessary to determine the correct cleaning methods. There is little need for additional testing or protection for typical mold growth because it is relatively safe and will not harm a person when inhaled.

However, as any indoor environmental specialist will explain, some mold infestations require safety precautions to protect the workers and the property. Toxic black mold, for instance, is a substance with several state regulations regarding proper collection, removal, and disposal.

Testing the substance is just a way to ensure safety and maintain state and health department regulations. Beyond keeping everyone safe, a test can help determine the size and spread of the infestation. For widespread growth, a remediation specialist will want to seal off the main area.

Additionally, the primary reason for performing a mold test is when there are no visible signs of mold. An air quality test can help a remediation professional determine if there is mold in the area. It is best to go with a professional for such a test rather than purchasing a test kit at a store because commercially available kits are not the most accurate and can be challenging to interpret.

Mold spores are always present. Therefore, it is possible for purchased mold kits to provide a false positive for an infestation. An indoor environmental professional can help you determine when the mold levels require remediation.

Mold Remediation

If your building requires mold remediation, do not do it yourself. Hire a remediation service. These companies are aware of all the safety and removal protocols for mold, meaning you do not risk any fines from environmental agencies. Additionally, your insurance provider might require professional remediation to ensure the problem is resolved; failing to comply could result in the elimination of your policy.

Any time you believe you have a mold problem but cannot find any visible clues, you should contact an indoor environmental specialist to test the property's air quality. If mold is found, consider hiring a professional for removal to protect your building and business. DIY methods are usually never adequate for effective mold removal.

6 Ways To Reduce the Risk of a Space Heater Fire

8/26/2021 (Permalink)

Space heater. A space heater can provoke a fire in your Washington, NC, home. Knowing how to use it will reduce the risk.

Space heaters are convenient, portable, and easy to use, making them excellent for warming up a chilly indoor area. There are many different kinds from which to choose from small ones you can put under your desk to large ones that will help keep a room toasty on those cold winter days. The kind you want to avoid at all costs is a burned space heater, which means knowing how to safely use these units. If you know what to do and not do with them and maintain them, they can be safe.

Here are some tips for reducing fire risk when using a space heater.

1. Inspect the Power Cord

Before plugging in your space heater each time, inspect the electrical socket in which you'll plug it. If you see any discoloration, avoid using that socket. Also, look at the power cord to make sure there are no signs of fraying or exposed wires. Also, always plug the space heater directly into the wall, not an extension strip. A space heater can overload the strip, causing a short circuit or fire.

2. Choose a No-Tip Model

Purchase a space heater with a low center of gravity, especially if you have children or pets. A tower heater or other slim designs can easily tip over. Make sure you get one made to shut off if it is tipped over, a common and essential safety feature on these units.

3. Opt for Auto Shut-Off

Most modern space heaters have an auto shut-off feature, but make sure the one you purchase has this feature. These heaters will automatically shut off if the unit overheats or malfunctions. Then, even a burned space heater shouldn't result in a burned home or contents.

4. Leave Space

One of the main precautions you need to take when using a space heater is to give it at least three feet clear of any objects on all sides. This means it also needs to be at least three feet from people or pet traffic. Also, keep it away from bed sheets, curtains, and other flowy materials that could catch fire. Keep the heater out of reach of children and pets, as they are naturally curious and don't know the dangers or risks of burns. They could also knock it over while running or playing.

5. Keep It Level

Fire damage restoration professionals who handle fire and smoke cleanup daily will tell you that one of the most common ways space heaters start fires is by tipping over onto flammable objects. Even if it has a low center of gravity, there's still a possibility that it could be tipped over or knocked off a surface. Make sure it's placed on a level, non-flammable surface. Also, make sure it's nowhere near water sources.

6. Turn It Off

It's tempting to leave a space heater running when it's cold. However, it's critical to turn it off and unplug it before leaving the house, leaving the room, or going to bed.

When your Washington, NC, home has a chill, a space heater can be a great option to make it warm and inviting. A burned space heater is a different story, though, so be sure to take these precautions when using this appliance.

Minimize the Damage Caused by Flooding

8/26/2021 (Permalink)

Rainstorm. Take some fundamental steps to reduce the flooding damage in your Washington, NC, home.

If your Washington, NC, home is situated in a part of town where flooding is a threat, it's important that you know the steps to take to minimize flood damage. After all, these situations are some of the most common and most expensive disasters to face homeowners, especially when caused by flash floods.

  • An emergency flood plan should include:
  • An evacuation route
  • A meeting place
  • Contact information for each family member
  • A well-stocked emergency kit

It's also a good idea to have community resources available. The numbers of your local authorities or a flood cleanup and repair agency can be helpful.

Understand Your Flood Risk

Some communities offer information online where you can check for floodplain boundaries. You may find flood hazard maps on the FEMA website, or you can reach out to your insurance provider to learn more about the flood level in your neighborhood. Make sure you know the difference between a Flood Watch and a Flood Warning.

A Flood Watch means that you have time to prepare to evacuate, but you may not need to leave.

A Flood Warning, on the other hand, means that water is already on its way, and you need to act immediately.

Floodproof the Basement

Before there's any hint of a storm and potential flooding, take steps to prevent flood damage. The basement is one of the areas in your home that's most likely to be affected. You can prevent a lot of damage by using a concrete sealant on the floors and walls to protect the structural stability of your home. The sealant also protects against mold, mildew, and other effects of high humidity. Depending on the risk, adding a sump pump can be beneficial.

Raise Belongings Above the Flood Level

Use concrete blocks to raise air conditioning units and other outside equipment above flood levels. If your area is under a flood watch, move as much furniture into the upper levels of your home as possible. Waterlogged electrical outlets and other sources of electricity can pose many dangers. Move all electrical units at least twelve inches above the flood level. You can reduce the expense of replacing furniture and belongings and avoid hiring water damage cleanup and repair professionals by keeping your valuables above the estimated water level.

Use Maintenance and Landscaping

Even a relatively small event can lead to storm damage. For example, if your gutters and storm drains are clogged with leaves and debris, heavy rainfall can lead to interior and exterior damage. Completing routine maintenance around your property can save you from a lot of trouble:

  • Keep gutters clean and flowing away from the foundation of your home.
  • Prevent trash from clogging your storm drains.
  • Introduce native plants to your landscape to hold the soil during flooding.
  • Add a rain garden, French drains, or additional features to provide a way for water to flow away from the house.

Flooding doesn't always provide much warning before it hits. Make sure that you're ready for this type of disaster before there's any sign of rain. Use these tips to protect your Washington, NC, home.

Dealing With Category 3 Water Damage

8/16/2021 (Permalink)

Flooded bathroom. The bathrooms in your commercial building in Washington, NC, need the labor of licensed and insured professionals.

Bathrooms in commercial facilities often experience more use than a traditional bathroom in a house. The increased activity can result in several common problems, including toilet overflow and category three flood water.

The removal process for such damage is risky, requiring the skilled labor of licensed and insured professionals. The team you hire will likely take a three-step approach to flood recovery:

  • Remove excess water
  • Disinfect the area and discard items
  • Restore the facility

Dealing With the Immediate Problem

The primary concern is the removal of wastewater. However, if the flooding has not stopped, the team of removal specialists will need to find the source.

Once the primary issue is resolved, the crew can begin removing the black water from the facility. This is a job best left to professionals, and in many areas, the state requires it.

The team of professionals understands the risks of working with contaminated water. They will take every precaution to protect themselves and the people in the immediate vicinity, including those living in surrounding areas. You cannot simply dump wastewater outside or into a nearby sewer. There are protocols every mitigation professional must follow.

Disinfect, Discard, and Dry

After all excess flood water is removed, the company you hire can start the cleanup. Any items that touched the water will be discarded. It is doubtful that anything within the flood zone can or should be salvaged.

The team of mitigation experts will also start cleaning the space using disinfectants and deodorizers. Do not be alarmed when your facility begins to look worse. The mitigation company will likely remove portions of the wall and other building materials to eliminate the risk of spreading contamination.

The company you hire will also focus on drying the space. It will likely use fans, dehumidifiers, and air movers to help speed up the drying time.

Once the facility is dry and sanitized, the restoration company will focus on rebuilding the property. The initial core focus will be on any structural repairs. Once the structure is sound, the company will replace drywall and flooring and make any other cosmetic repairs.

The goal of restoration is to make the facility appear as before. By using a reputable company, you will not be able to tell the difference between the building's pre-disaster and the repaired structure. The results should be seamless, allowing business owners to return to operations with total confidence.

Category three flood water is nothing to play around with. It is destructive and highly contaminated, and it presents a significant risk to people. While many business owners often prefer DIY approaches, such approaches are not possible and are ill-advised when dealing with black water. It is better to work with a restoration specialist with the appropriate knowledge and skills to handle the situation safely.

Cooler weather may cause fires

7/29/2021 (Permalink)

Room with smoke damage. Even though the fire did not occur in this room, the smoke and soot traveled to the second floor.

As we approach the cooler weather, fires increase inside the homes in Washington, NC. SERVPRO of Bath recently helped a homeowner who left a bulbed Christmas candle in the window which caught a curtain on fire. Almost the entire house was damaged as a result of this fire.

How to prevent fires at home:

Most people know the basics of fire safety at home, such as not leaving burning candles unattended and keeping a fire extinguisher on hand. Here are a few more things you can do to prevent fires at home.

  • Have your heating system serviced regularly by a professional, including chimneys from wood-burning fireplaces. Clean around heat sources and keep dust and other flammable items away from ignition sources.
  • Remove the lint from your dryer filter after every use. A clogged filter and lint trap makes your dryer less efficient, reduces the airflow needed to keep heat from building up in the vents, and forces lint onto the heating coils. Also, never let your dryer run when you are out of the house or when you’re asleep.
  • Keep firewood, piles of leaves, and trash away from the home. If a grass fire starts nearby, these items next to your home could easily become kindling. Never dump hot ashes inside or near your home; keep them in a metal container well away from your house and garage.
  • Avoid using outlet extenders or plug-in power bars: they can quickly overload an electrical circuit. Replace old, damaged, or frayed appliance cords, and never force a three-pronged plug into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
  • Store containers of cooking oil well away from the stove. When cooking with oil, never leave the stove unattended. To stop a grease fire, turn off the burner and place a lid on the pan to suffocate the flames, or pour on lots of baking soda. Never pour water on a grease fire or try to carry the pan outside; water splatters the grease and makes the fire bigger, and the pan will be much too hot to carry.
  • Consider using borrowed heat to keep outdoor pets warm. During winter months, avoid using heat lamps, solar lamps, trouble lights, heated watering bowls, or other such heated devices, which could lead to a potential fire. Borrowed heat involves providing warmth from a heating system located in a separate building. If this isn’t possible, consider bringing your pets inside.
  • Be sure to properly extinguish smoking materials. Smoking materials that are not properly extinguished can smolder undetected for days before igniting a fire. Never discard smoking materials on the ground or in plant pots.

4 Steps To Take When the Toilet Floods

7/29/2021 (Permalink)

Flooded toilet. An overflowed toilet can be an emergency. Contact a professional team to solve the problem.

When sewer damage affects your Washington, NC, commercial property, the situation can be classified as an emergency. The potential for exposure to bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants in the water is high. SERVPRO cleanup and restoration professionals have the training, personal protective gear, and cleaning equipment to handle the issue safely.

Take Quick Action

The flooded toilet is one of the most common causes of sewer damage. You may have experienced the dread that comes from watching the water rise too much after a flush. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take right away to prevent further trouble:

1. Shut Off the Water

Look for a shut-off knob or valve right behind the toilet and turn it counterclockwise. If the water continues to rise, take off the lid to the tank and pull the float.

2. Dry Up Overflowing Water

If the water doesn't contain sewage, use old towels to clean up the overflow. Even when dealing with clean water, it's best to protect yourself with rubber gloves and boots with good traction, so you don't slip. If the water isn't clean, it's best to contact a sewage company or other trained professionals.

3. Gather Your Equipment

A plunger may do the trick. Make sure you get a tight seal at the drain inside the toilet bowl. The goal is to force air or water into the drain, applying enough pressure to move clogged items out of the way. After the water moves down the drain, flush once more to be sure you don't need to repeat this step.

4. Sanitize Appropriately

In many cases, it's okay to sanitize the overflow. Be careful when using bleach-based products; these could cause damage to porous surfaces. However, in a commercial property or if there's evidence of sewer damage, your best option is to hire a professional.

If there's any question that sewage may be involved, contact water damage restoration professionals, such as SERVPRO professionals who are Faster to Any Size Disaster.