Recent Posts

Christmas Tree Fires

12/3/2018 (Permalink)

This report provides estimates of the causes and circumstances of home structure fires that began with the ignition of Christmas trees during the five-year period of 2010-2014. Trend data are also presented. Previously published descriptions of Christmas tree fires are also included to show how these fires can happen.

Report highlights

  • U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 210 home1 structure fires per year that began with Christmas trees in 2010-2014. These fires caused an annual average of six civilian deaths, 16 civilian injuries, and $16.2 million in direct property damage. 
  • On average, one of every 34 reported home Christmas tree fires resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home fires. Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are much more likely to be deadly than most other fires.
  • Four of every five Christmas tree fires occurred in December and January.
  • In one-quarter (26%) of the Christmas tree fires and 80% of the deaths, some type of heat source, such as a candle or equipment, was too close to the tree.

1Homes include one- or two-family homes and apartments or other multi-family housing.

The Process Of Fire Restoration

11/29/2018 (Permalink)

The process of fire restoration can be very involved. Private homeowners and companies can oftentimes be devastated by the damage caused by this kind of event. One aspect that gives peace of mind involves knowing when the right professional has been hired. That is one of the reasons why it is important to hire a firm that is associated with the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification.  

Homeowners and business owners may be in shock from the initial devastation. It is important to try and follow the proper steps to achieve a complete fire restoration. Service providers that are associated with the Institute will have the following distinctions: current training, safety and health certifications, vast amounts of experience in restoration projects and the proper licenses and insurance information. Customers should also check all references and obtain price quotes prior to hiring anyone. Any contracts that are presented should be reviewed closely.

The first step in the process is to clean up as much of the existing area as possible. If the area is not immediately cleaned, soot residue and permanent damage can be left behind. If the homeowner or business owner does the initial cleaning, it is important to follow these steps. When cleaning, always use dust masks and open the area for proper ventilation. Clean from the ceilings to the floors and vacuum all floors and upholstery. Wash any items that are able to be laundered. Clean the outside with a pressure washer if available. 

If immediate clean up is not done, it can lead to devastating effects. Within minutes of fire and smoke damage, appliances and many items will discolor to a yellow hue. After a few hours, acid will stain bathrooms and many other areas of the home or business. Within days, walls will discolor permanently and items will begin to rust due to the acid residue.  Finally, after weeks the cost of clean-up will become substantially more expensive. The building and furnishings can be permanently damaged by the acid left behind. Soot residue will be layered throughout the home or business. For these reasons, it is vital to contact a professional associated with the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification to utilize fire restoration techniques in an effort to return the home or business to a preloss state. One company or service provider should be able to handle the damage. The seal of Certification by the Institute should be shown on any provider’s website. This shows the customer the reliability and the expertise of the service provider.

Residue and smoky odors need to be removed immediately. Professionals will use the process of fire restoration to achieve satisfactory results. These providers will remove the source of the odor, clean any items that can be salvaged, get rid of any lingering odor with an odor counteractant and deodorizing fog. Finally, the provider will seal salvageable items to encapsulate odor and prevent further recontamination.

Homeowners and businesses that are educated in the fire restoration process are able to minimize the cost of repair. Professionals can be contacted in a timely manner to return the area to a preloss state.  By hiring the right professionals the victims can have some peace of mind during a very stressful time.

Warning: Do not plug a space heater into a power strip.

11/20/2018 (Permalink)

The cold weather is upon us and so is the need to stay warm and toasty, but if you use a space heater, fire officials are warning you to not plug it into an extension cord or a power strip.

  Doing so is a major fire hazard, according to fire authorities.

According to fire officials, these devices are not designed to handle the energy load of a space heater and can overheat, and even catch fire.

 Heating elements inside a space heater can reportedly get up to more than 500°F to 600°F. Residents should plug their space heaters directly into the wall, and always keep an eye on it when it's in use.

What to Do When Your Refrigerator Water Line Leaks

11/20/2018 (Permalink)

The refrigerator is one of the hardest working appliances around the home, so when one breaks down or suffers a leak, the experience can have consequences. If you find that your fridge’s water line has a leak, there are a few simple steps you can follow to troubleshoot the problem and have it running again in no time.

What To Do When Your Refrigerator Water Line Leaks

The first step is to identify the leak. The refrigerator water line connects the household water supply to a refrigerator with an ice maker or water dispenser. The water line typically runs at the back of the fridge. Once the leak has been identified, here is what you can do to fix the problem.

  • Turn off the valve that supplies water to the refrigerator and then unplug the refrigerator to turn off the appliance. You will likely find the water shut off valve located beneath the kitchen sink or  in some cases, behind the refrigerator itself.

If the valve is located behind the fridge, carefully pull the appliance away from the wall and turn off the valve.

You will now have to loosen the compression nut that secures the supply line to the water intake valve. This can be done with the assistance of an adjustable wrench by turning the nut counter clockwise and then disconnecting the supply line.

Once loosened, remove the compression nut to disconnect the supply line from the valve.

If the supply line is broken or torn in places, replace the old line with a new one making sure that its length and dimensions are the same as the original water line. Material choices range between copper, plastic and stainless steel water lines. 

  • To fix the new water line in place, thread one end of the supply line to the shut off valve under the sink and tighten until it is snug in place. When using a copper or plastic line, make sure to first slide on a compression nut secured with a compression sleeve or ring onto the end of the line. A stainless steel water line comes with a built in rubber gasket that stops the connection from leaking.
  • Thread the other end of the supply line to the water intake valve and tighten it until snug.
  • Turn on water and check for any leaks. If there is still a drip, tighten the nuts a bit more.

Purchasing a new water line

When the line is badly damaged and needs replacement there are a few things to keep in mind. For instance, one of the factors at this point would be to choose a line material that will offer durability and long lasting utility. Another is the price tag attached to the new purchase.

Plastic water lines

In terms of materials, plastic lines are the most cost effective but also least durable. The biggest threat lies in these lines cracking, clogging or leaking, causing water damage. While plastic lines may seem to work well in terms of flexibility, especially where space behind the fridge is tight, many people do not prefer this type of line material.

Copper water lines

Another option is to go with copper water lines that yield superior sturdiness but are also more prone to kinkiness. A more flexible version of copper lines is available to allow pushing the tubing into position giving it some flexibility to work well in cramped spaces.

Stainless steel water lines

As an alternative stainless steel braided lines can be considered. Braided steel is a tough, non-kinking option to the more pliable plastic and the ¼ in flexible copper lines. Stainless steel also happens to be the most durable option but will tend to be the most expensive as well.

Whether the leak in your refrigerator water line is caused by a plastic, copper or stainless steel water line, remember that you can always access the professional service of our experts at Tidal Wave in Atlanta to come and resolve all water damage concerns at your home.

Water Damage From a Faulty Roof

11/20/2018 (Permalink)

Check for damage in the roofing material directly above where the leak is coming in. This will likely be easier to find on a flat roof, but leaks can also come into the house a good distance from where the actual roof damage is located. If your roof is slanted, inspect areas on the roof that are higher than where the leak enters the home.

If you have an attic, inspect it with a flashlight for water stains, black marks or mold.
Run a hose along different sections of the roof and have a person inside alert you when leaking occurs.

Look for damaged, curled or missing shingles near where the leak is coming in. Look closely for exposed roofing tacks, too.

Straighten out shingles that are curled back. In colder weather, this might require that you soften the shingle edge with heat, such as an electric hair dryer. Using a torch or other open flame heat source isn't recommended since asphalt shingles may be flammable, and regardless of whether they are flame retardant or not, excess heat will ruin the shingle.

Reattach curled-back shingles after straightening with a generous amount of asphalt roof cement or compound around the exposed edges.

Replace damaged shingles. If the shingle lifts off the roof with little effort, breaks, or simply crumbles, it needs to be replaced.  Remove the old shingle by lifting its edges and prying out the nail.
Scrape the area underneath it to remove any leftover roofing cement.
Use a sharp utility knife to round the back corners of the new shingle slightly.
Slide the new shingle into place and drive 1 1⁄4 inch (3.2 cm) galvanized roofing nails into each upper corner, then cover the nail heads with roof cement.

Inspect for cracks or blisters in the roofing material.

Mend the blisters. Cut a line through the middle of the blister with a utility knife, but do not cut the sound roofing felt {substrate) underneath.  Squeeze out or soak up any water inside the blister. The area needs to be completely dry.

Spread a generous amount of roofing cement under the loose roofing material and press down.

Drive galvanized roofing nails along each side of the repaired blister.

 Inspect areas where surfaces connect, such as a chimney or vent pipe.
Look for damage to the caulking, and reapply caulk where necessary.
Remove damaged or deteriorated caulking so the new application can bond to the roof or flashing surface.
Use a putty knife to remove the loosened old caulk.
Clean and dry the area.
Cut the tip off the caulk tube and spread a bead along the same line, working it into the crack with an applicator. Let it dry.

Larger-scale repairs will be necessary if there is damage to the flashing around the chimney or the boots around vents, as these features may need to be replaced.

Tips to Avoid Water Damage

11/20/2018 (Permalink)

Standing water on the floor is easy to see. Less obvious signs of problems include:

Unexpected increases in your water bill

  • Stains on walls, floors or ceilings
  • Damaged or warped flooring
  • Warped bottom panels in under-sink cabinets
  • Peeling paint or wallpaper
  • Corrosion on plumbing valves and fittings

Deal with problems as you find them. Clean up any water or moisture, locate the source and make repairs. Tracking down a leak isn't always straightforward — water can travel along components in the building structure, so the indications of the leak may be in a different part of the home than the leak itself. If necessary, contact a professional roofing contractor, plumber or water damage restoration specialist to help with identification and repair.

In addition to the damage that water causes, it can encourage the growth of mold on walls and floors — where it's readily visible — and in ductwork, attics and crawl spaces — where you might not notice it. A musty odor is a sign that mold may be present.

 If the affected area is larger than 3 feet by 3 feet, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends you find a professional mold remediation contractor. For smaller areas, you can clean nonporous surfaces with commercial cleaning products, soap and water or a solution of a cup of bleach to each gallon of water. Follow the instructions and safety precautions for the cleaning product you use and wear appropriate safety gear. Porous surfaces such as drywall need to be replaced. For more information on mold in the home and how to clean it up

Inspecting common sources of water leaks and taking some simple preventative measures can be an effective way to reduce the risk of water damage and mold.

Plumbing

  • Every 6 to 12 months, inspect water lines, shut-off valves and fittings for fixtures such as sinks, toilets and tubs and for appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers and ice makers. Check for cracks, loose connections, kinks and corrosion. If you find a leak, turn off the water to the fixture or appliance until you can make repairs.
  • Check around toilets to make sure water is not leaking at the base — an indication that the wax ring between the toilet and floor might need replacing or that there might be a crack in the base.
  • If the temperature drops near the 20°F mark, allow faucets connected to vulnerable pipes — those not protected in insulated spaces — to drip. This helps minimize the risk of burst pipes by relieving pressure if the pipes freeze.

Appliances

  • Replace washing machine supply hoses at least every five years. Consider using stainless-steel mesh hoses. Keep the machine properly balanced — over time, an unbalanced machine can move, pulling free the hose connections.
  • Consider turning off the water to the washing machine when it's not in use.
  • Don't operate a dishwasher or washing machine while your house is unoccupied.
  • Follow the manufacturer-specified maintenance for your appliances, including your water heater. Have the water heater inspected every couple of years.

Roof and Gutters

  • Have your roof inspected every three years by a professional, but also check routinely for damage you can see from the ground — such as broken and missing shingles or damaged flashing. A poorly maintained roof can lead to leaks in the home and additional damage to the roof itself.
  • If your roof doesn't have a drip edge or drip cap, consider having one added. This component helps keep water away from the roof deck and directs runoff into gutters.
  • Keep gutters clear and well-maintained. Gutters that overflow, leak or don't drain properly allow water to seep into your roof and into your foundation, crawlspace or basement.
  • Make sure gutter downspouts direct rainwater away from the home's foundation. Use extensions to carry water at least 6 feet from the house.

Exterior Walls and Foundation

  • Inspect the exterior of your home. Caulk around gaps at plumbing and ventilation entry and exit points.
  • Check to see if roots from shrubs near your home have caused damage that can allow water to enter the foundation. You may need to remove shrubs that are close to the house to prevent problems. Roots can also damage and block in-ground pipes, causing leaks near the foundation and sewer backups in the home.
  • Keep shrubbery beds and other landscape features sloped to direct water away from the home.
  • Look for evidence of erosion or settling at the foundation that can indicate water problems.

Additional Tips to Avoid Water Damage

  • Have your attic ventilation and insulation inspected annually and seal gaps that allow warm air into the attic — such as those around access doors and light fixtures. When warm air collects in the attic, it can lead to the formation of an ice dam — ice around the eaves that causes water from melting snow and ice to back up under the shingles and leak into your home.
  • If you have a sump pump, test it several times during the year. Follow the manufacturer's maintenance instructions.
  • Check your water pressure with a pressure gauge; typically these screw onto a hose bib. The pressure in an average home is around 50 to 70 pounds per square inch (psi). Higher pressure causes extra stress on pipes and fittings and can lead to leaks.
  • Inspect tile and grout around showers and tubs. Make any necessary repairs.
  • Check for leaks around windows during rains and seal any you find.
  • Use exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom to move excess moisture out of the house. Moisture in the air can condense on cool surfaces and cause problems.
  • Locate your water shut-off valve so you can quickly turn off water to the home in an emergency.

Fire Safety Tips

11/16/2018 (Permalink)

This report has sections on statistics on home and non-home structure fires involving either electrical failure or malfunction in any equipment or involving electrical distribution or lighting equipment, with separate sections for each of the major types of home electrical distribution or lighting equipment. Trends, some risk comparisons, and suggested safety tips are also included.

Executive Summary

Electrical fires
The most inclusive and direct interpretation of “electrical fire” is a fire involving some type of electrical failure or malfunction. Any equipment powered by electricity can have such a failure.

In 2011, an estimated 47,700 home structure fires reported to U.S. fire departments involved some type of electrical failure or malfunction as a factor contributing to ignition. These fires resulted in 418 civilian deaths, 1,570 civilian injuries, and $1.4 billion in direct property damage. In 2007-2011, home electrical fires represented 13% of total home structure fires, 18% of associated civilian deaths, 11% of associated civilian injuries, and 20% of associated direct property damage. 

In 2011, an estimated 16,400 non-home structure fires reported to U.S. fire departments involved some type of electrical failure or malfunction as a factor contributing to ignition. These fires resulted in 13 civilian deaths, 243 civilian injuries, and $501 million in direct property damage. In 2007-2011, non-home electrical fires represented 13% of total non-home structure fires, 5% of associated civilian deaths, 13% of associated civilian injuries, and 21% of associated direct property damage.

The national estimates in this report are derived from data reported to the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS).  These statistics include fires reported as “confined fires,” for which detailed reporting is not required. Estimates of detailed characteristics for confined fires require statistical allocation of a large share of unknowns and so involve less confidence. 

Half (48%) of 2007-2011 reported non-confined U.S. home structure fires involving electrical failure or malfunction had some type of electrical distribution or lighting equipment as equipment involved in ignition. The leading other types of equipment involved in ignition were fan (6%), washer or dryer (6%), space heater (4%), air conditioning equipment (4%), water heater (3%), and range (3%).

Septic or Sewer System Backs Up Into Your Property or Building...Here are SAFETY Tips!

11/16/2018 (Permalink)

Watch out: sewage spills contain contaminants that can cause serious illness or disease. Disease causing agents in raw sewage include bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses and can cause serious illnesses including Hepatitis A.

If a building has been flooded by sewage or wastewater there may be unsafe electrical wiring, bacterial and pathogen hazards, mold hazards, even unsafe mechanical systems.

    • Turn off electrical power in the area that has been flooded if there is any chance of electrical wires, extension cords, or electrical appliances or fixtures coming in contact with standing water or wet materials
    • Vacate sewage-contaminated areas right away. Areas of sewage spill should not be occupied by people who are not wearing appropriate protective equipment as they are dangerous:
    • Stop flushing toilets
    • Turn off running water that is sending water into the drain system (clothes washer, sinks etc)

If the sewage or wastewater are being spread by water from a burst plumbing supply or hot water heating pipe, turn off the water to the building and if needed for safety or to stop further you may also need to turn off the (hot water or steam) heating system.

Items that have been soaked and are not salvageable may best be placed outdoors. By removing wet and contaminated materials from the building it may be easier to inspect, repair leaks, and clean the building itself.

Watch out: do not handle sewage-contaminated materials without proper personal safety protection: there are bacterial, pathogenic, respiratory and infection hazards.
    • Act promptly.
    • Watch out: The longer that sewage waters remain in a building or on its contents the greater the chance of spreading illness or disease and the greater the chance of causing a costly mold contamination problem in addition to the sewage problem. High indoor moisture caused by standing water can cause mold contamination to form on other building surfaces even if they were not directly wet by the sewage spill.
    • Don't panic: while prompt action is needed as we just explained, don't be in such a rush that you do something dangerous. Also, if you sound terrified when calling a contractor for assistance the result may be the imposition of inappropriate or costly steps.
    • Call a professional water damage restoration authority - For other than a trivial spill on a tiled bathroom floor you may need help from a professional water damage or restoration company.
    • Notify your insurance company that there has been a sewage spill in the building
    • Notify your municipal authority or sewer department if your home is connected to a public sewer
  • Contact your local health department for advice if your home is connected to a private septic system

Water Removal and Water Extraction

11/13/2018 (Permalink)

The water damage restoration process begins with a detailed inspection of your property, including a damage assessment. The SERVPRO Franchise Professional is determining the scope of the damage so he or she can develop an appropriate plan of action. Being careful and cautious is also a Priority. Also, Making sure electrical items, Appliances, and Outlets are Not a Hazard.

They Identify and Stop the Water Source

They check for the source of water in your home and business and stop it. The water source must be stopped before the drying process can begin.

  • Stop the Source
  • Check for Contaminated Water

They Identify the Type of Water

SERVPRO Franchise Professionals must identify the category and classification of water to restore your property safely to industry specifications. The type of water contamination will affect the specific restoration processes used to restore your property.

  • White / Category 1 Water
  • Gray / Category 2 Water
  • Black / Category 3 Water

They Survey the Extent of the Water Damage and Inspect the Premises

They inspect and test your home to discover the extent of the damage. Additionally, they will look for safety concerns and explain them to you. If you are aware of any safety issues, such as asbestos or lead, please share them.

  • Survey Damage
  • Complete Safety Inspection

They Move or Block Furniture

They move furniture and property contents and block items to help prevent rust or furniture stains on wet carpet.

  • Block Furniture

The water extraction step removes the majority of the water from your home or property. By performing a thorough water extraction, SERVPRO Franchise Professionals help reduce the drying time and help to prevent mold and secondary water damage. They use powerful pumps and truck-mounted vacuum units to quickly remove hundreds or thousands of gallons of water from your property.

Move-Out / Pack-Out

If your home requires extensive restoration or cleaning, SERVPRO Franchise Professionals can conduct an organized, efficient move-out to protect your belongings from further damage.

  • Move-Out Service

Emergency Water Removal

Highly trained technicians will begin the water removal process almost immediately. Depending on the amount of water, they may use powerful submersible pumps in addition to industrial strength, wet/dry vacuums. This step helps to reduce drying time and helps to prevent mold and secondary water damage.

  • Remove Excess Water
  • Use Submersible Pumps and Industrial Wet/Dry Vacuums

Inspect the Carpet Pad and Carpet

SERVPRO Franchise Professionals inspect the carpet and pad and determine if it should be removed to protect the subfloor.

  • Inspect Carpet Pad and Remove If Needed
  • Inspect Carpet and Remove If Needed

Water Removal Equipment

  • Moisture detectors, hygrometers, and other meters measure the extent of moisture saturation.
  • Infrared cameras may be used to find “hidden” water behind walls and ceilings.
  • Submersible and gas-powered pumps are used for continuous pumping of high-level water.
  • Truck-mounted and portable extraction units perform efficient water removal.

Why Professionals Should Clean Smoke Damage From A Fire

11/13/2018 (Permalink)

When the firefighters leave, it may seem like the danger has passed and the home is safe from further destruction, but without professionals to help clean the smoke damage, the building will never return to normal. While the principles behind fire restoration are fairly simple, it requires a lot of experience and manpower to perform adequately, and this means that it shouldn’t be attempted by a homeowner on his or her own.

While fire is always the immediate danger, once it is gone, what it leaves behind will continue to affect the house. Ash and smoke, if left unhindered, will cause extensive corrosion, etching and discoloration, not to mention lingering powerful odors. Professionals that clean fire and smoke damage can stop this before it becomes a major problem, assuming they are contacted soon enough. There are many companies out there that advertise their ability to restore areas affected by fire, but only those with proper training and certification should be considered. The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) is the main oversight agency in this industry. The IICRC requires its registrants to take extensive coursework before earning their certification. This is a symbol of excellence, and those that uphold the standards that have been set can be contacted through the IICRC.

These professionals can clean smoke damage and restore items affected by a fire, but they must be brought to the site as soon as possible to halt the ongoing issues that ash residue can cause. The first thing that ash does to the home is discolor most surfaces. Anything that is made of plastic or was close to the fire will start discoloring within minutes, and within several hours, fiberglass and finishes on appliances will begin to yellow. Metals may also tarnish. After a few days pass, the ash will cause walls to discolor permanently, along with clothing and upholstery. Wood and vinyl will need to be refinished or replaced, and metal will start corroding.

If a professional isn’t hired to clean smoke and fire damage, the costs for restoration will skyrocket after a few weeks. Metals may need to be replaced, carpet will permanently discolor and glass may be severely etched, which will necessitate replacement. It will also become apparent that the odors caused by the disaster may still be present and intense enough to be distracting. Because ash is acidic, the longer it takes to hire experts, the more destruction it will cause.

The first thing a trained, certified, professional company will do when on site is to identify all affected materials and the source of any odors. The only way to properly clean smoke and fire damage is to be extremely thorough. Ash residue is easily disturbed and can spread through the building with ease, causing nearly everything to need restoration. The experts will identify what can and cannot be salvaged, and will remove any built-up ash residue that is coating surfaces. Over time, ash builds up in layers, and may eventually form into a lacquer-like consistency. Once this is done, the restorers will locate the source of the odor, and treat it with specialized detergents that are formulated for neutralizing this kind of odor. Once materials are treated, they may be sealed off to prevent any further odor from permeating the air in the future.

This entire process is very detailed, and hiring a professional that can be trusted to do the job right is imperative.