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- 10 Tips to Prevent Water Damage in Your Home
- Water Loss? What you Need to Know!
- Contents Cleaning After a Property Loss
- Prepare your Home NOW to Avoid Property Damage LATER
- Proper Attic Ventilation
- Mold: The Do’s and Don’ts
- How to Deal with Mold
- Eliminating Odor After a Fire
- Sewer Backups: It’s a “Dirty” Subject!
- Spring Flooding
- Dealing with Burst Pipes
- Holiday Safety Tips to Prevent Property Damage
- Furnace puff backs
- What is an Ice Dam?
- Safety for Portable Space Heaters
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Fall has arrived and soon it will be time to turn on the furnace for the first time. This is also when we see a significant increase in the number of furnace “puff backs.” Puff backs occur for various reasons, but all result in combustion products including soot entering the conditioned air of the home or building. Some puff backs are caused by a sudden explosion, some by thermal fatigue cracks in the heat exchanger, or others by poor installation and maintenance. Whatever the reason, the end result is soot and other debris being pushed into the home, potentially causing significant damage to the structure and the contents within.
What to do if you have a Puff Back:
How do I know if I’ve had a puff back?
Determining whether or not a puff back has occurred is relatively easy for sudden major failures. Affected areas will have smoke in the air and rapid accumulation of soot on all surfaces. Some puff backs happen slowly, with the accompanying damage hard to observe. In these cases you may observe that surfaces need to be cleaned often, or certain surfaces are darkening. Cold surfaces generally accumulate more soot which can cause exterior surfaces to exhibit banding that
corresponds to the framework behind the finished surfaces. Sometimes nail or screw heads will become visible. Another sign is the appearance of dark cobweb like structures in corners. These are not created by spiders, but by filaments of soot growing from the soot in the air. Sometimes called “soot tags,” they are randomly arranged, unlike the order seen in a spider’s web.
How do I prevent a puff back from occurring?
The single best way to prevent a puff back is to have your furnace inspected annually and kept in good repair. This is no guarantee against having a puff back, but it greatly reduces your risk. Keep debris, animal hair or anything that could interfere with proper functioning away from your furnace.
You should also follow these directions:
• Immediately turn off your furnace and contact a furnace repair company.
• Notify your insurance agent or insurance company.
• Call a qualified disaster restoration company like Burke Emergency Restoration to begin cleaning all affected areas immediately – soot travels and will reappear if not immediately cleaned and removed. Prolonged contact with soot can
cause irreversible damage to certain
What NOT to do:
• Do not attempt to wash wallpapered or flat-painted walls. (incorrect cleaning will actually worsen the soot residue problem)
• Do not try to clean carpets and upholstered furniture. Avoid touching things. (Soot on your hands can damage upholstery, walls and woodwork)
The professionals at Burke Emergency Restoration have the skill, certifications and experience to deal with furnace puff backs. We understand how devastating property damage can be, and our technicians are trained to deal with your property disaster with equal parts compassion and competence.
Whether it’s a puff back, fire & smoke, water damage, mold or biohazard cleanup you can rely on the professionals at Burke Emergency Restoration. We bring damaged properties back to life.™
Sewer water can contain all types of toxic and hazardous contaminants. In the event of a sewer backup, having the professionals at Burke Emergency Restoration in Manchester, NH properly clean your home or business can help ensure the health and safety of your family and/or employees. The following are answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding Sewer Backups:
Is it safe for my family to inhabit the property after a sewer backup?
Answer: No. Water that comes from a a sewer system needs to be treated as a hazardous health situation. Category 3, also known as black water, is grossly contaminated and can contain pathogenic, toxigenic or other harmful agents.
What are the common hazards associated with sewer backups?
Answer: According to the IICRC there are over 120 different viruses that can be excreted in human feces and urine and find their way into sewage. These can include Rotavirus, causing severe and sometimes life-threatening diarrhea in children, Adenoviruses, causing respiratory and eye infections, and Norovirus, a significant cause of gastric flu or stomach flu. There are also highly infectious parasitic agents like Giardia and Cryptosporidium that can cause chronic and severe intestinal diseases in both children and adults. Bacterial pathogens in sewage can include Salmonella, Shigella and Escherichia coli. These gram-negative organisms contain endotoxins that are released at the time of cell death and destruction. Endotoxins can cause respiratory inflammation, airway restriction, create the potential allergic and infectious disease responses and when inhaled they may adversely influence the central nervous system.
Can I just clean up a sewer backup myself?
Answer: Improper remediation activities to clean and restore property can cause more and bigger problems. It is possible to spread the contaminated sewer problem from one room to another quite easily. Knowing how to remove and clean a sewer backup is essential for the successful restoration of your property. Burke ER’s professional and experienced technicians are certified to clean up after a sewage loss.
Can I just use bleach to clean up a sewer backup?
Answer: Although bleach is a common solution for most people, it is a poor solution for sewer backups. It may do a good job of making stains disappear, however, it does a poor job of making the contamination of sewer (category 3) water disappear. We understand that the label may say “It kills 99% of common household germs,” but contamination from sewer water falls does not NOT fall under the category of “common household germs.” We have had customers who attempted to clean a sewer backup with bleach themselves. A certified industrial hygienist who later inspected the house still found high levels of contamination.
What can I keep after a sewer backup?
Answer: In general, it is recommended that anything that came in contact or possibly came in contact with sewer water be disposed of. Hard surface items that don’t absorb can be cleaned and restored. Due to all of the health hazards of sewer backups we like to operate on the premise “If in doubt, do without!” We suggest asking yourself, “Is keeping this item worth my health and or the health of my family?”
How do I really know if everything is cleaned up?
Answer: Anyone who says, “Everything is all done, see it looks brand new and smells new too,” is wrong! The only way to “know” for certain if a sewer backup has been successfully restored is to have it tested. We recommend the services of a certified industrial hygienist who is independent. It’s not a good idea to hire someone to restore your property and then use “their” guy to check it out. Look in the phone book or get on the internet and search for a “certified industrial hygienist.”
Guest Blog from Eaton & Berube Insurance!
The most common natural disaster in New Hampshire is flooding, according to ReadyNH, New Hampshire’s emergency preparedness website. Each spring, a combination of heavy rain and melting snow creates optimal conditions for overbank flooding along our state’s thousands of rivers and streams. One more drop of rain and your backyard, your basement, and even the upper levels of your home may by in danger. How do you protect your home before the floodwaters arrive?
Preventing Damage in Your Basement
The most likely place for floodwater to cause damage is in the basement of your home. Water seeps and flows in through cracks and flaws in the foundation; it may enter through windows or bulkheads, or through any other path or passage into your basement.
Whether your basement is finished or unfinished, the risk to your property is great once the water comes in. With advance warning, there are actions you can take to mitigate these risks. Take note of these suggestions:
Examine your home’s foundation for cracks, splits, or weak areas and, if possible, repair trouble spots. Ideally, you will be able to mend these breaks with foundation sealant from the hardware store, but if there is any doubt, have a professional inspect your foundation and suggest the best course of action.
Obtain and place sandbags around the outside of all basement windows, doors, and bulkheads. Filling and placing sandbags is a two-person job. As you fill the sandbags, stack them like bricks in a staggered manner, creating levees between your home and the water. Learn more about how to use sandbags with these tips from the U.S. Army Core of Engineers.
Remove everything from the basement. Items remaining in the basement when water enters will likely be damaged beyond repair. Any appliance or item that cannot be removed must be elevated as high as possible. A few inches of elevation could make a significant difference.
Take care with electrical circuit breakers and fuse boxes. If a flood is certain, turn off the electricity to your main breaker or fuse box. If you have circuit breakers, flip the switch of each individual breaker to the off position. Never touch the fuse or breaker box if your feet are on a wet floor.
Plug any toilets, sinks, showers, or bathtubs in the basement to lower the risk of wastewater back up. One of the most hazardous factors in a flood is the uncontrolled overflow of wastewater and sewage.
Preventing Flood Damage to the Main Floor
Circumstances may arise when the floodwater has reached or will reach the first floor of your home. If the basement is flooded and the water is still rising, follow your family’s emergency action plan and prepare to evacuate the home. If your family does not already have an emergency action plan, click here for helpful tips on creating one. Stay alert for publicly broadcast evacuation notices.
The dangers associated with rising floodwaters are unpredictable and can escalate quickly. Environmental conditions may change in a moment’s notice. In an emergency, time is your most valuable asset. You need every minute of preparation to evacuate safely. Well in advance and only if you have sufficient time, complete the following steps before evacuating:
Unplug all electronics. Televisions, computers, kitchen appliances, and any other small electrical appliances should be unplugged before you leave.
Move valuables including rugs, clothing, books, other media, and electronics to the highest portion of your home’s interior. It may be enough to simply stack one atop another. Use time wisely.
Plug the toilets, sinks, showers, and bathtubs. Wastewater and sewage backups cause significant damage and create a severe health hazard.
Turn off the water, gas, and electricity if you have not already.
Move and secure all household chemicals (bleach, drain cleaners, laundry detergents, antifreeze, poisons, oven cleaners, motor oil, etc.) at the highest point possible. Limiting or negating the toxicity of the household environment you have to return to is extremely important.
Preventing Other Damages
Around the exterior of your home, you may have items such as propane tanks, storage sheds, dog houses, landscaping tools, lawn ornaments, and other vehicles. To lower the risk of these items causing or sustaining damage, secure them to fixed objects, close any windows, and lock all doors before you evacuate.
Frigid temperatures in southern New Hampshire officially herald the arrival of winter and the season’s biggest property damage headache: freezing pipes. Water is a unique substance. As with most materials, when water cools, its density increases and it settles to the bottom of a container. However, at 32 degrees it expands, and its density decreases. This expansion increases the volume of water by about 11% and creates tremendous pressure on its container (between 50,000 and 114,000 psi). No matter the strength of a material, expanding water will cause it to break.
Pipes are especially vulnerable to damage caused by expanding water. Water lines that freeze are usually those directly exposed to severe cold. In addition, pipes in unheated interior areas such as basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages, kitchens and those that run against exterior walls with little or no insulation are also susceptible to freezing.
To prevent damage from pipes when away from your home for a day or two follow these guidelines:
Shut off the water supply and drain pipes or appliances.
Have someone you trust check your home about once per week if you are away.
Have emergency numbers handy such as a plumber, electrician, roofer and Burke Emergency Restoration in case something does go wrong.
Protect pipes, fittings, and appliances against freezing with insulation or heat strips.
Have your HVAC system services before leaving if you will be away for an extended period of time.
Set your thermostat for no lower than 55 degrees.
Before leaving for an extended time, turn off your water heater.
Unplug all nonessential electrical appliances.
Regardless of circumstances – frozen or leaking pipes or water damage, fire/smoke damage, biohazard or mold remediation- call your local Burke ER office as they have professionals standing by 24/7 ready to restore your property to pre-loss condition.
As an insurance agent or adjuster, you receive a call from a policyholder reporting fire damage at their residence or place of business. After taking down the essential information and ensuring that no one was hurt, your next step is to find a restoration company to begin the arduous clean-up process (provided the fire wasn’t a total loss). You refer to your list of approved restoration vendors, recommend one and send them out to the fire location. But what happens next can be particularly frustrating: The restoration company that you sent arrives on the scene only to discover that another restoration company has already arrived, set up their equipment and begun work. How did this happen?
You should be aware that not all restoration companies abide by the same code of ethics. Many resort to “fire chasing” –outfitting their marketing staff with police scanners or special smart phone apps that notify them when and where a fire has occurred. Armed with this information, they dispatch a crew to the fire scene, convince the homeowner (who is often in a distressed state of mind) to sign a work authorization and commence work. What can you do to stop this unsavory practice?
As soon as you receive the call that a fire has occurred, caution your policyholder that he/she will have various restoration companies knocking on their door to solicit their business. Tell them to “Just say NO!” Advise them that it is in their best interest to choose among several of your agency’s “Approved Vendors” to ensure that the work is done by certified restoration professionals for a positive outcome. Explain that by not using one of your approved restoration vendors the policyholder runs the risk of price gouging and shoddy or incomplete work.
You are in the business of protecting your policyholders. Educate them on fire chasers and you will be protecting them against becoming victims of unethical business practices when they are at their most vulnerable.
Burke Emergency Restoration in Manchester, NH does not engage in the practice of fire chasing
Water cleanup can be very challenging for a property owner. Whenever property is damaged by water, it is essential to dry that property and all contents as quickly and effectively as possible.Today, the “science of drying” has improved significantly. Water cleanup that involves soaked carpet, pad and drywall can often be competely restored and will not require replacement. This results in lower associated costs for the loss, and it allows the occupants to return to their normal lives much faster and with far less disruption. Burke Emergency Restoration in Manchester, NH employs properly trained restoration professionals who use state-of-the-art equipment, procedures and techniques to help keep thier repair costs down and drying times to a minimum. Faster drying also means less time for mold or other fungi to develop or colonize. This helps alleviate possible health problems that can occur as a result of fungal contamination.
Other benefits of rapidly removing moisture include the prevention of irreversible swelling in porous materials such as paper and wood, shrinkage in fabrics (such as upholstery and drapes), rust on metals and damage to electronic equipment. Burke ER uses newer technologies that include LGR Dehumidifiers (Low Grain Refrigerant) that can remove up to 16 gallons of water from the air per day, Dessicants that use silica gel to absorb moisture from the air and Intra-wall drying that dries the inside of the walls without removing the drywall. In this process, baseboards are removed and small holes are drilled through walls near the base. Air is then forced into the cavity behind the wall dramatically reducing drying time.
Water cleanup doesn’t have to be a bank-breaking endeavor. By employing knowledgeable restoration professionals who have the latest equipment, knowledge and expertise the contents and structure can be dried effectively and returned to pre-loss condition.
Spring’s warmer temperatures coupled with the wet, snowy conditions we experienced in New Hampshire this past winter have created an ideal breeding ground for mold and other types of property damage. Mold spores are literally everywhere and usually cause no concern. However, when the conditions are right, mold can begin to grow inside a home or other structure and become a serious health concern. Water is the most likely cause of damage to property across New Hampshire. It includes everything from overflowing sinks, to leaky or broken pipes, to drain or sewer backups to over-ground flooding from heavy rains or river/coastal flooding. In all cases, water damage requires immediate remediation or it will result in mold growth. Complete drying is necessary since any residual moisture will result in mold growth.
New Hampshire is experiencing a higher than normal amount of inquiries about mold, particularly among real estate professionals. John T. Burke, Owner of Burke Emergency Restoration in Manchester, New Hampshire: “We are fielding a higher than usual number of inquiries about mold this spring. We go out to the property and assess the damage,and when necessary conduct an air test to determine the type of mold that we are dealing with.” Realtors in particular cannot sell homes with mold damage and must have the mold removed before the sale can proceed. Once identified, the remediation process can begin. This can involve sanding, dry-ice blasting, hepa vacuuming and other cleaning techniques. Finally, an antimicrobial sealant is applied to ensure that the mold will not reoccur.
If a homeowner does discover mold, the first step is to find and eliminate the water source. If the affected area is less than 10 square feet the mold can be cleaned with a detergent solution and all materials must be thoroughly dried. If the area is larger than 10 square feet consider calling a professional mold remediation company likeBurke Emergency Restoration. Burke ER professionals are trained and certified in mold, water and fire restoration and use state-of-the-art remediation techniques to ensure the health and safety of your home.