Archived Blog Posts
Sewer backups: What are the common causes? How can SERVPRO Help?
Have you ever experienced a sewer backup? If not, you’re not missing out on anything. They can be extremely smelly and hazardous…but what causes a sewer backup?
Some of the most common causes of sewer line backups:
- Cities with merged sewage/storm water systems (when there’s heavy rainfall – can result in a backup)
- Blocked drain (from pouring viscous substances like oil & grease down your drain)
- Blockage in the main sewer line (from damaged pipes or soil settlement)
- Items that don’t flush well other than human waste
As with any other type of loss, prompt cleanup is crucial after a backup occurs. We want to help you minimize secondary damage & avoid health risk. That’s why we offer 24 hour emergency cleaning services. Trust the team that’s ‘faster to any size disaster.’ Contact our office at 860-826-5169
We’re always ‘Here to Help’!
April showers can bring more than May flowers! Are you prepared?
A sufficient amount of rain can cause severe flooding, especially to the basement of your home. All it takes is an aperture in the foundation of your property. Are you prepared to handle flooding from heavy rains?
An ounce of prevention:
Things you need to know/do
- Know the phone numbers to your local emergency responders (Fire, water depts…)
- Know whether or not the sump pump in your basement is functioning properly
- Ensure that your gutters are clear and drainage is away from the dwelling
Also take some time to review your insurance policy before you have a loss.
If you need flood cleanup services, do not hesitate to contact our office at 860-826-5169. We offer 24 hour EMERGENCY cleanup services.
Remember we’re always ‘Here to Help’!
Soot everywhere! Can SERVPRO help?
What is soot?
Soot is a byproduct fabricated by the incomplete burning of organic substance. Such materials include:
- fuel oil
- solid household waste
Soot is a fine black powdery substance that may contain a number of carcinogens.
Sometimes a furnace unleashes an immense cloud of soot that can coat all of the walls, ceilings, and other surfaces of your home. This is called a "Puff Back". The severity of a puff back can vary considerably. It can even occur without notice. If your walls have black streaks and are difficult to clean a puff back is likely the cause.
We’re offering a free home inspection to determine if your home has soot damage. On average the inspection takes less than 30 minutes. Call us today to schedule an appointment! 860-826-5169
We're 'Here to Help'!
Brush fire prevention: How can you protect your property?
Backyard fire pit
You can protect your home or property from a potential brush fire by reducing the available fuel on and around your premises. Discard dead branches, leaves, brush and tree limbs that hang over your home. Instead of using an organic mulch, use gravel or another non-combustible material next to the building. Choosing nonflammable roofing, fire-resistant siding, and attachments such as fences, decks & porches that are fire-resistant can prevent fire from spreading to the main structure.
Below are safety tips to prevent brush & grass fires:
- Comply with any local requirements pertaining to outdoor or open air burning (including campfires, brush fires, fire pits, and outdoor fireplaces).
- Closely manage all outdoor fires. Be sure to put the fire out completely before leaving.
- Refrain from burning on dry, windy days. These conditions make it easy for open burning to spread out of control.
- Do not use gasoline or other flammable liquids to burn brush, trash, or other waste.
How does mold get into the indoor environment?
Mold spores can enter your home through open doorways, windows, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems with outdoor air intakes. Spores in the air outside attach themselves to people and animals, making clothing, shoes, bags, and pets convenient vehicles for carrying mold indoors.
Mold spores will flourish when they drop on places where there is excessive moisture. Areas where leakage may have occurred, such as roofs, pipes, walls, plant pots, or where there has been flooding are common for growth. Organic building materials provide suitable nutrients that encourage mold to grow. Wet cellulose materials, including paper and paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood, and wood products, are particularly conducive for the growth of some molds. Other materials such as dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation materials, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery, commonly support mold growth as well.
The Truth About Ice Dams...
Ice dams are the result of snow melting and then refreezing at the coolest edge of a roof. When heat escapes into an attic /roof, the heat builds up and eventually melts the snow on top of the roof. The melting snow then travels down to the edge of the roof where there is no heat and it freezes to form an ice dam. The ice dam then prevents remaining snow from draining properly. When water backs up behind the frozen chunk of ice (also known as the ice dam), it can cause damage to ceilings, walls, insulation & floors in the home. By the time the water leaks & stains are noticed indoors, it’s possible that mold & mildew has already formed.
If you have questions about ice dams or mold, contact us today! 860-826-5169
We’re always ‘Here to Help’!
...Additional Emergency Supplies
Once you have gathered the supplies for a basic emergency kit, you may want to consider adding the following items:
- Prescription medications and glasses
- Infant formula and diapers
- Pet food and extra water for your pet
- Cash or traveler's checks and change
- Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container.
- Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or free information from this web site.
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
- Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
- Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted, nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant.
- Fire extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
- Paper and pencil
- Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
Are you prepared for an emergency?
Starting a fire
Everyone should have a plan in place in case of an emergency or disaster. Consider an emergency supply kit.
A basic emergency supply kit could include (but not be limited to) the following recommended items:
- Water - one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
- Food - at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter in place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
These are some of the things to have on hand during an emergency.
2017 Home Maintenance Checklist
It's important to keep your home maintained this winter! Getting a professional home inspection can have it's benefits, though there are a few task that you can perform on your own. Get the most out of your home this season while keeping your electric bills down.
Here are some helpful home maintenance tips:
- Maintain fuel tanks
- Clean/replace furnace filter
- Inspect/clean gutters (keep gutters clear of debris)
- Replace old caulking (exterior & interior)
- Inspect roof flashing, eaves & soffits (check for damaged shingles)
- Check washing machine hoses (replace damaged/worn hoses)
- Insulate your attic (to prevent ice dams)
- Maintain trees on your property (trim overgrown branches)
- Insulate Pipes (to prevent them from freezing)
- Maintain your heating system
Winterizing your home is the first step toward getting it prepped for the season. The next step is maintaining your home once winter is in effect. Be 'Ready for whatever happens' this winter!
CAUTION: Tips on keeping your walkways clean and safe!
Snow covered sidewalk
Keeping your walkways clean and safe this season can prove to be a challenge with family and friends home for the season. That being said, there is a number of things you can do to prevent ice from forming, or to get it to disappear quickly. Follow these simple tips:
- Shovel snow in a timely manner - There is no better way of preventing ice than shoveling your walkways as soon as possible. The longer the snow sits, the higher chance for ice to form.
- Shovel away from your walkway - By shoveling away from your walkway you will prevent melting snow from melting onto your walkways and creating puddles that will eventually turn into ice.
- For temperatures below freezing but above 15 degrees Fahrenheit - Use Rock Salt. Rock salt lowers the freezing point and prevents ice from forming.
- For temperatures below 15 degrees Fahrenheit - Use Calcium Chloride also known as De-Icer. Calcium Chloride also lowers the freezing point but it works until about 0 degrees.
- Sand - Place sand over any slick areas as it helps to creates traction.
Stay safe this Winter & remember, we're always 'Here to Help'!
When was the last time you reviewed your homeowners insurance policy?
If you haven’t peeked at your homeowners insurance policy in a while, now would be the perfect time to do so. Be prepared before a loss. If disaster strikes, know your policy.
Most policies cover damage from:
- Water (excluding flood or ground water damage)
In many restoration situations, immediate action is needed. Your first obligation is to mitigate in a timely fashion.
SERVPRO of Middletown/New Britain provides 24 hour emergency mitigation services.
- Contact your insurance company and call SERVPRO of Middletown/New Britain.
(The only financial responsibility should namely be your deductible.)
In the event you suffer a loss we will work directly with your insurance company from start to finish. For a stress free claims process call us at 860-826-5169.
When disaster strikes, we’ll make it “Like it never even happened.”
Protecting your Cats & Dogs during Cold Weather? 5 tips to keep your pets safe!
Keep pets indoors when temperatures drop. Pets are sensitive to extreme cold, which puts them at high risk for hypothermia.
Short haired pets may feel comfortable wearing a sweater & booties when outdoors on walks. When salt & ice melt are applied to icy/snow covered areas, cleaning your pet’s paws & stomach with a warm wet cloth can prevent irritation.
- Limit baths when temperatures are low. Pets are at higher risk of flaky, dry skin.
- Keep your pets away from anti-freeze spills to avoid poisoning.
- Make sure your pets have plenty of food & water during the cold weather months. They burn more energy trying to stay warm.
- Avoid leaving your pets in the car.
- Keep your pets indoors when necessary. Remember, if you’re cold, it’s likely your pet is cold too!
Christmas Tree Safety: How will you treat your tree?
Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be serious.
Following these safety tips may prevent a hazardous situation.
- Choose a tree with fresh, green needles.
- Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 2" from the base of the trunk.
- Make sure the tree is at least 3 ft away from any heat source.
- Make sure the tree isn’t blocking an exit.
- Add water to the tree stand daily.
- Use the right lights. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.
- Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
- Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
- Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
- Get rid of the tree after the Holidays. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home. Check with your local community to find a recycling program.
Is your home prepped for Winter?
Being prepared for winter weather is essential. Here are a few things to consider before the bitter cold & snow arrive:
- Check for failing shingles
- Drain outside spigots (where pipes can freeze)
- Caulk window gaps
- Switch your screens for storm windows, and seal any drafty windows and doors
- Check for leaks in the attic
- Test your sump pump
- Make sure that paints or any flammable materials are stored away from heat sources in a closed metal cabinet.
- Clean dryer vents & chimney (regularly)
- Have your heating system checked by a licensed heating contractor
- Test and change the batteries in your smoke and carbon dioxide detectors
- Organize your garage. Clean and store summer garden tools.
- Check the supports, stairs, and railings on porches & decks.
- Make sure handrails can support someone slipping on snow or ice
*Source: Bob Vila
Holiday Tips: Have you tested your lights for safety?
Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety. Identify these by the label from an independent testing laboratory.
- Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Discard damaged sets or repair them before using.
- Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house, walls or other firm support to protect from wind damage.
- Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
- Turn off all lights on trees and other decorations when you go to bed or leave the house. Lights could short and start a fire.
- Never use electric lights on a metallic tree.
- The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and any person touching a branch could be electrocuted! To avoid this danger, use colored spotlights above or beside a tree, never fastened onto it!
- Keep “bubbling” lights away from children. These lights with their bright colors and bubbling movement can tempt curious children to break candle-shaped glass, which can cut, and attempt to drink liquid, which contains a hazardous chemical.
A lot of these items won't crumble...
Toilet overflows are common, but a clogged toilet can be problematic. Only two things should be flushed down the toilet and they are human waste & toilet paper. There are several items that are not safe for flushing.
Try not to flush these items:
- Paper Towels
- Small Toys
- Feminine Products
- Prescription Medication
- Cotton Swabs
- Dental Floss
- Sanitary wipes
- Oil & Grease
- Cigarette Butts
- Cat Litter
- Band Aides
Many of these items can expand in water and they are not designed to break down like toilet paper. They eventually gather together or wrap around other objects in the pipe line, causing major issues, while grease & oil cause clogs by solidifying once cooled.
If you find yourself overwhelmed with a clogged toilet, contact a local plumber, then call 860-826-5169. We'll help clean up the contaminated water and whatever comes with it.
What is the leading cause of home fires? Are they preventable?
Most home fires occur in the kitchen while cooking (especially during the holidays) and are the leading cause of injuries from fire.
Home fires are preventable! The following are simple steps that each of us can take...
- Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
- Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking.
- Do not cook if you are sleepy, have been drinking alcohol, or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy.
- Keep children away from cooking areas by enforcing a "kid-free zone" of 3 feet around the stove.
- Position barbecue grills at least 10 feet away from siding and deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
How to prepare for the Storm!
You can avoid many dangerous weather problems by planning ahead. To prepare for a winter storm you should do the following:
Before winter approaches, add the following supplies to your emergency kit.
- Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways...
- Sand to improve traction.
- Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
- Sufficient heating fuel...Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
- Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
It's also good to have a mechanic check the following items on your car:
- Antifreeze levels
- Battery and ignition system
- Exhaust system
- Fuel and air filters
- Heater and defroster
- Lights and flashing hazard lights
- Windshield wiper equipment
- Install good winter tires
Please note: If bad weather is forecast, drive only if absolutely necessary. Make sure your tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions.
When should I replace my Heating/Cooling Equipment?
Certain telltale signs indicate it's time to consider replacing heating and cooling equipment, or improving the performance of your overall system. It may be time to call a professional contractor to help you make a change if:
- Your heat pump or air conditioner is more than 10 years old
- Your furnace or boiler is more than 15 years old
- Your equipment needs frequent repairs and your energy bills are going up
- Some rooms in your home are too hot or too cold
- No one is home for long periods of the day and you do not have a programmable thermostat
- Your home has humidity problems
- Your home has excessive dust
- Your heating or cooling system is noisy
It's also important to change Air Filters regularly. Check your filter every month, especially during heavy use months (winter and summer). At a minimum, change the filter every 3 months. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool.
Will your home be cozy this winter?
The doors and windows in your home can allow air leaks even when they are closed. Weather stripping your doors is easy and it can keep energy costs down. It'll also help you stay cozy in winter. Seal cracks around your door with weather stripping to winterize your home and keep out drafts.
Weather stripping can help seal air leaks in areas of your home, such as doors, windows and attic access points. If you decide to take on an entire home sealing project, identify all the air leaks in your home, including those in unseen holes or pathways in your plumbing, wiring and HVAC system.
Doors require two different kinds of weather stripping: door sweeps for the bottom and self-adhesive foam for the top and sides.
Fireworks Safety!...using fireworks safely.
Summer is here!
If you decide to have fireworks at home, you can protect yourself, others, and the environment by following some simple tips:
- Before you light any firework, read the instructions on the back of its packaging.
- Light your fireworks in a wide-open area. Keep away from anything that could catch fire, including unlit fireworks.
- Always have an adult light the fireworks, not a child.
- Keep a bucket of water or a hose handy.
- Leave dud fireworks alone. Trying to relight them is dangerous.
- Stay sober while lighting fireworks. Fireworks and alcohol or drugs are a dangerous combination.
- Keep all unlit fireworks in their box or bag until you are ready to light them.
If you or someone else is burned while using fireworks, be sure to treat the burn under cold water for up to 20 minutes. If the burn is serious, call an ambulance.
For updates on what we're doing in the community, visit our Facebook page! Facebook.com/SERVPROMiddletown
It's officially Hurricane Season! Are you prepared?
The American Red Cross has offered great tips for business & home owners.
Did you know?...Standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding. It’s important to have protection from the floods associated with hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rains and other conditions that impact the U.S. For more information on flood insurance, please visit the National Flood Insurance Program Web site at www.FloodSmart.gov If your home or buisness suffers a water loss due to flooding don't hesitate. Call us at 860-826-5169.
- Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio (Available on the Red Cross Store) for critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS).
- Check your disaster supplies. Replace or restock as needed.
- Bring in anything that can be picked up by the wind (bicycles, lawn furniture).
- Close your windows, doors and hurricane shutters. If you do not have hurricane shutters, close and board up all windows and doors with plywood.
- Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting. Keep them closed as much as possible so that food will last longer if the power goes out.
- Turn off propane tank.
- Unplug small appliances.
- Fill your car’s gas tank.
- Create a hurricane evacuation plan with members of your household. Planning and practicing your evacuation plan minimizes confusion and fear during the event.
- Find out about your community’s hurricane response plan. Plan routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs and make plans for your pets to be cared for.
- Obey evacuation orders. Avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.
10 Things You Should Know About Mold
A closer look
- Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory complaints.
- There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
- If mold is a problem in your home or school, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.
- Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.
- Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60% ) to decrease mold growth by: venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside; using air conditioners and de-humidifiers; increasing ventilation; and using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning.
- Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
- Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely. Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles, that are moldy, may need to be replaced.
- Prevent condensation: Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
- In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting (i.e., by drinking fountains, by classroom sinks, or on concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation).
- Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.
If you have a MOLD issue in your home or business, contact our professionals immediately at 860-826-5169. We're always here to help.
After the Flames go out...The DAMAGING EFFECTS OF FIRE DAMAGE
Some of the biggest challenges associated with fire damage occur after the flames have gone out. The intensity of the heat, and the length of time the fire ran before it was extinguished determines the toxic effects.
Plastics and other synthetic materials can leave behind chemical residues that are harmful if inhaled. Wood smoke, usually the greatest contributor to the amount of smoke in the building, contains gases such as methane, carbon monoxide, benzene, sulfur dioxide and formaldehyde. This is toxic for anyone who inhales the smoke or comes in contact with surfaces harboring smoke residue. Soot and smoke particles have a tendency to settle on carpets, furniture, countertops and walls once the flames disappear. Prior to the flames going out, they will transmit smoke throughout the home, into ductwork, and into wall cavities.
If your home or business sustains fire damage from a loss, the first thing you should do is contact your insurance company. Once, that is done you should call SERVPRO of Middletown/New Britain to come out and assess the damage. We’ll work closely with your insurance company for an easy claim process. You can reach us 24/7 for an Emergency Response at 860-826-5169.
Rest & Relaxation
Sunglasses in sand
Whenever we go on vacation, we take measures to ensure that our home will be safe to return to. Here are a few home safety tips you might not know & why they are important.
- When leaving on vacation, shut the water valve to Ice Maker line on refrigerator.
Why? Plastic piping can wear at contact points especially if threaded through cabinets or flooring. When these lines burst, they do not pour as much water out as a washing machine line, but certainly cause major damage if they are left unchecked for days.
- Never leave your Dishwasher running if you leave the house
Why? Dishwasher fires cause thousands of dollars in damage each year.
- Put any stored items in basement up on shelving, bocks or pallets (3” elevation min.)
Why? Should your basement flood for any reason, your possessions will be somewhat protected if they are up off the floor. Storing your items in plastic totes is for additional protection is also helpful.