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Most Chimney Fires Are Preventable

1/22/2020 (Permalink)

Flames shoot out of a home's chimney. Follow our tips step-by-step to prevent a destructive chimney fire from happening in your home.

Chimney fires strike more than 25,000 times each year in the U.S., and they cause more than $125 million in property damage. The most common cause of chimney fires is not having your chimney regularly cleaned and inspected. With chimneys, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure! Protect your home and your family by keeping your chimney clean and in good working condition, always looking out for signs of trouble. This article tells you what a chimney fire is, how it starts and how to stop one from occurring in your home.

Two Types of Chimney Fires

Chimney fires come in two varieties—fast and loud or slow and quiet—but they’re both extremely destructive and can cause your home to go up in flames.

If you suddenly hear cracks and pops as loud as gunshots, followed by a deep, rumbling sound, you’ll know you have a chimney fire. Black, flaming creosote will fall into the firebox, and then, like an explosion, flames will shoot from the top of the chimney and back down into the firebox, pushing smoke into your living space. Finally, the flue may crack and flames can shoot into your walls.

?Slow-burning chimney fires never get enough air or fuel to burst into plain sight, but they can still cause similar damage to the chimney and nearby combustible parts of your home as their louder siblings do.  With a slow fire, though, you may not even know a fire occurred until your next chimney inspection.

Either way, you can’t control a chimney fire by yourself, so call 911 ASAP! Because firefighters have to fight the flames from the top of the chimney, water will flood into your house, causing water damage on top of the fire damage. You’ll need to hire a professional disaster recovery company, like SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield, to completely restore both the fire and water damage to your home.

If You Have a Chimney Fire, Act Fast

If you discover a chimney fire, immediately:

  • get everyone out of the house, including yourself
  • call 911

Take these additional steps to help save your home only if you can do so safely:

  • Place a chimney fire extinguisher or fire suppressant into the fireplace or wood stove to consume oxygen and starve the fire
  • Pour sand or baking soda onto the fire in the firebox (keep a bucket of sand nearby for this purpose)
  • Close the glass doors on a fireplace or the air inlets on a wood stove

While you wait for the fire department outside, try to keep the fire from spreading by hosing down your roof (not the chimney).

Once the chimney fire is completely extinguished, call a fire damage restoration expert like SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield, who will remove damaged material, treat your possessions for smoke and soot contamination and restore your structure and property to pre-fire condition.

What Causes a Chimney Fire?

Fireplace and wood stove chimneys expel the substances produced when wood burns, including smoke, gases, water vapor and unburned wood particles. These by-products of combustion exit the fireplace or wood stove at high temperatures and flow up into the relatively cooler chimney, where they condense onto the chimney walls as a black or brown residue called creosote. Whatever form it takes—crusty and flaky, or sticky and drippy, or shiny and hardened—creosote is extremely combustible. When your chimney’s flue temperature gets high enough, built-up creosote can start a chimney fire, which burns at up to 2,000°F.  

The longer the smoke stays in the flue, the more creosote will form. Creosote is more likely to build up in your chimney if your fireplace or stove:

  • is burning unseasoned wood
  • isn’t pulling in enough air
  • has cooler than normal chimney temperatures

Therefore, the key to preventing a chimney fire is to burn the right kind of fuel, set your wood-burning stove or fireplace up correctly to burn a fast, clean fire—and have your chimney and fireplace or stove cleaned and inspected regularly.

Prevent a Chimney Fire: Clean and Inspect

Every time you use your wood stove or fireplace, more oily, black, sticky creosote condenses onto the inside of your chimney. There it waits, growing thicker and putting your home and family at risk of a fire, until it is removed.

The best way to ensure that you never have a chimney fire is by cleaning and inspecting it regularly. Hire a certified chimney sweep each year before fire burning season starts, in late summer or fall. (If you haven’t done it yet this season, call today before you light another fire!) 

The chimney sweep will remove both creosote and any debris carried into your chimney by animals or wind. In addition, he or she will inspect your chimney to look for:

  • creosote that’s puffy or looks like honeycomb
  • metal in the damper, smoke chamber or chimney that’s been warped by heat
  • cracked, damaged or collapsed flue tiles
  • discolored and/or distorted chimney cap
  • creosote flakes and pieces on the roof or near the house
  • roofing material damaged by hot creosote
  • cracks in exterior masonry
  • soot deposits around mortar joints of masonry or tile liners

In addition to scheduling an annual chimney cleaning, you should make it a habit to regularly check the condition of your chimney and fireplace. Schedule another cleaning when you notice creosote that: 

  • falls into the firebox during a fire
  • resembles a honeycomb on the inside of the chimney
  • is more than 1/4-inch thick

Schedule more frequent cleanings if you burn fires more than a couple of times a week, use lots of artificial logs or burn green or unseasoned firewood.

Prevent a Chimney Fire: Look for Signs of Trouble

Check for these indications that your chimney has been damaged. If you spot any of them, don’t light another fire until you have your fireplace and chimney inspected.

  • Buckled masonry: Look for cracking or settling inside the firebox or on the fireplace’s surround or hearth, because just a tiny opening will allow sparks and high heat to reach the flammable parts of your home.
  • Soot in your firebox: Crumbly black soot falling into your firebox is a sign that creosote is building up. Call for a chimney cleaning.
  • Debris in your firebox: If you notice what looks like broken tiles or pot shards in your firebox, be very concerned. Especially in older homes with terra-cotta chimney liners, these pieces are a sign that the liner has already been damaged by a chimney fire. Don’t use your fireplace until it’s been inspected by a certified chimney sweep.
  • More smell of smoke: If you smell more smoke than usual when you use your fireplace—or smell it outside the room where the fireplace is—extinguish the fire and call 911. Your local fire department will use heat-sensing guns or thermal imaging to check for danger and damage to your chimney.
  • Changes in your walls: If heat has been escaping from cracked masonry, a damaged liner or an improperly installed prefab metal firebox, your home’s wood framing can dry, char and may ignite at a much lower temperature. If you notice pictures falling off the wall or areas of bubbling or peeling paint, call for a chimney inspection.

Prevent a Chimney Fire: Follow Best Burning Practices

Prepare your chimney and fireplace or stove so that it burns efficiently and safely, every time.

  • Install a chimney cap on the crown of the flue to keep debris and critters out of your chimney. A cap will also prevent acidic rainwater from entering and corroding the chimney. 
  • Insulate your chimney’s flue liner (the layer between the flue and chimney walls) to prevent flue temperatures from getting too cool. Wrap a heat-resistant insulation blanket around the liner or pour an insulation mix (such as vermiculite) into the space between the liner and flue.

When you start a fire, you want it to burn hot, fast and clean to create far less smoke, vapor and unburned wood particles, allowing little to no creosote to form in the chimney. This starts with using the right fuel.

  • Always burn seasoned hardwood that has dried for at least six months and has a moisture content of 20 percent or less (you can test this with a wood moisture meter). When you burn green or unseasoned wood, energy is used initially just to evaporate the water trapped in the wood cells. This, in turn, keeps the resulting smoke cooler and more likely to condense in the chimney and form creosote.
  • Use dried twigs or branches for kindling and torn or crumpled newspaper or pine cones for tinder. Avoid cardboard or glossy magazine pages that contain chemicals that can emit toxins when burned.
  • Use the best fire startersfor fuel, kindling and tinder, such as well-seasoned hardwood or CSIA-approved logs. Never use gasoline and kerosene to start a fire—these flammable liquids can quickly create a conflagration. And burn coal only in a coal-burning wood stove, because it can significantly raise the temperature in the flue, increasing the risk of a chimney fire.

Once you have selected the right fuel to burn cleanly, you need to build a fire that will burn hot and fast.

  • Build a clean fire by using the top-down burn method, in which the largest logs are at the bottom of the fire and the smallest pieces at the top, which allows the air to mix well with the fuel. Start by placing the largest pieces of wood in the bottom of the fireplace or wood stove, with the ends at the front and back. Next, stack four to five increasingly smaller levels of wood on top of the first level, placing each layer perpendicular to the one below. Once the stack is about half the height of the firebox, add kindling (the smallest pieces of wood) in smaller and smaller pieces, then top off with wood shavings or crumpled newspaper. Light the material on the top and the fire will gradually burn its way down to the largest logs.
  • Keep the damper open to allow enough air to quickly move heated smoke up the chimney. When using a wood stove, don’t close the stove damper or air inlets too much or too soon.
  • Don’t overload the firebox of a wood stove in an attempt to get a longer burn time—that’ll produce more smoke and creosote.

Lastly, extinguish your fire safely and thoroughly before retiring for the night or leaving your home.

  • Spread out the wood and embers, then shovel ash from the bottom of the fireplace to cover them.
  • Next, completely cover the cooled wood and embers with baking soda to extinguish any remaining embers.
  • After the firebox cools (for a minimum of three hours, but preferably eight), shovel the ashes into a metal container.
  • Fill the metal container with water and store it outside your home and away from other flammable materials until you’re ready to discard them.

Sources: Chimney Safety Institute of America, The Spruce, This Old House, Bob Vila

When you have suffered a fire or other disaster at your home or business, call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785

We're Here for You

The team at SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield has specialized training and experience in fire restoration and cleanup, as well as natural disaster and storm damage cleanup, water damage and mold remediation, water and mold damage, and chemical and biohazard cleanup. Call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield (860.216.2785) any time.

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SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield

Top 50 Franchise Nationally

100 Peters Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
IICRC Certified
Ralph DiCristofaro 
Certified SERVPRO technicians
Call 860.216.2785 
24-hour emergency service

When you have suffered a fire or other disaster at your home or business, call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785

We Focus on Safety

12/20/2019 (Permalink)

A group of warning and safety signs. These latest safety initiatives at SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield help keep our workers ready to respond to your disaster.

Here at SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield, we place a premium on the safety of our workers. Earlier this year, we hired a new safety coordinator, Rhonda, who came to us with more than twenty years of experience in construction and warehouse management.

Rhonda says she “likes to learn new things and do different things”—and she’s certainly accomplishing that at SERVPRO! Here are just some of the initiatives she and SERVPRO have been working on in recent months.

Enhanced Training

Training programs and training videos are now available in both English and Spanish. We’ve reinforced our employees’ safety awareness by implemented new training in:

  • How to wear a respirator mask. Workers learn to test if the mask is the right size, fits correctly to the face, is tightly sealed and allows adequate breathing.
  • Safe processing and disposal of blood-borne pathogens.
  • Correct use of fire extinguishers and generators.
  • Using a third plug adapter to prevent fires. Each piece of equipment and all trucks are equipped with a third plug adapter, so that our grounded equipment can be used safely even in older homes that lack the third grounding prong.
  • Cleaning products. All our chemical products are documented in a binder that explains appropriate uses, how to use and what protective equipment is required. This not only keeps our workers up to date on products, it allows them to share this information on the spot with our customers.
  • Proper operation of forklifts.
  • How to properly lift heavy loads and how to use shoulder dolly straps.

Consistent Procedures

Once a month, the safety coordinator meets with crew chiefs to determine what additional safety measures are needed. Among the new procedures making every day at SERVPRO even safer are:

  • Every truck that leaves the SERVPRO lot is fully equipped and inspected. Each crew and crew chief are provided with duffel bags containing hard hats, goggles, safety vest, shoulder dolly straps for heavy loads and the chemical information binder. Trucks are inspected each day and are consistently assigned to a specific crew to increase safe and responsible operation. Each truck is equipped with a first aid kit, an eyewash station and a fire extinguisher.
  • Each crew is provided with a blood-borne pathogen duffel bag containing hazmat suits, thick gloves, tweezers, needle containers and sealable bags for safe waste disposal. We have contracted with a respected vendor to locate metal storage containers in our parking lot, in which bagged blood-borne waste is stored and picked up for final disposal.
  • Fire extinguishers are inspected and dated each month to assure they are in peak condition.
  • Forklifts are inspected each day.

These new initiatives build on our already substantial safety program to make sure our crews are safe, healthy and ready to respond to your disaster!

When you have suffered a disaster at your home or business, call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785

Help Is Here

The team at SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield has specialized training and experience to quickly clean up and restore your home or commercial building after suffering damage from a fire, water disaster or a storm. Call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785.

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SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield

Top 50 Franchise Nationally

100 Peters Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
IICRC Certified
Ralph DiCristofaro 
Certified SERVPRO technicians
Call 860.216.2785 
24-hour emergency service

When you have suffered a disaster at your home or business, call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785

We Have the Capacity for Your Disaster

12/10/2019 (Permalink)

SERVPRO trucks are lined up in a parking lot SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield has the resources and capacity to respond to the biggest, most urgent disaster.

By its very nature, a disaster—whether from a fire, storm, wind, leak or flood—is unpredictable. In some disasters, the damage is contained, but others require an all-hands-on-deck approach. Other local disaster restoration services may say they can handle it all, but SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield truly can—thanks to our resources and capacity.

SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield is one of four SERVPRO franchises in central Connecticut owned and operated by Ralph and Noemi DiCristofaro—the others are SERVPRO of Manchester/Mansfield, SERVPRO of Glastonbury/Wethersfield and SERVPRO of West Hartford. This makes a couple of crucial differences to our clients.

First, Ralph and Noemi are driven, hands-on managers who rank among the top owner/operators of the 1,800+ SERVPRO franchises in America. In fact, SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield is rated among the top 25! Our owners place a daily focus on providing excellent work and improving every customer’s experience.

Second, each of the four franchises can immediately call on the resources of three other local SERVPRO franchises, coordinating quickly and effectively to respond to the most urgent disasters. We can get to you faster, and we allocate staff and equipment as needed to tackle the really big jobs. Among the four locations, we have access to thousands of different pieces of equipment and scores of trucks and other vehicles—not to mention our highly skilled team members.

We saw this in action during the first cold snap of 2019. We handled so many emergency calls for cracked and burst frozen pipes that we had 1,000 air handlers drying out customers’ homes and businesses in Connecticut and Massachusetts—at one time!

With the resources of four top-rated SERVPRO franchises at our disposal, SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield is ready for just about any fire, storm, smoke, mold or water disaster!

When you have suffered a disaster at your home or business, call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785

Help Is Here

The team at SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield has specialized training and experience to quickly clean up and restore your home or commercial building after suffering damage from a fire, water disaster or a storm. Call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785.

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SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield

Top 50 Franchise Nationally

100 Peters Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
IICRC Certified
Ralph DiCristofaro 
Certified SERVPRO technicians
Call 860.216.2785 
24-hour emergency service

When you have suffered a disaster at your home or business, call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785

SERVPRO Handles Large-Scale Disasters, Too

11/21/2019 (Permalink)

A tornado forms in the sky Our expertise in responding to large-scale disasters means we can handle your water, fire, storm, mold, sewage or other disaster in your home.

SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield is part of a network of more than 1,800 franchises that can combine resources to respond to any disaster—like a tornado, hurricane, blizzard or flood—no matter how large. In fact, SERVPRO strategically positions elite prequalified large-loss specialists throughout the United States to handle any disaster, whenever and wherever it happens.

Our crews have handled all sorts of major natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey in 2017, when we had more than 7,000 professional restoration experts working in the Houston area alone.

Catastrophic Event Response

A SERVPRO operations manager supervises every large-loss project for seamless communication, expert coordination of resources and—most important to those whose lives have been disrupted by a large disaster—timely damage mitigation. At SERVPRO, the difference is our ability to:

  • dispatch trained production professionals through our network of strategically placed teams
  • coordinate with local SERVPRO franchises
  • muster and oversee the temporary labor force needed to get the job done

Recent mobilizations of SERVPRO’s large-loss disaster recovery teams include:

  • 2018: California wildfires, including Camp, Woolsey and Hill fires
  • 2017: Hurricanes Harvey and Irma
  • 2017: California wildfires
  • 2016: Hurricane Matthew
  • 2015: Carolina floods
  • 2014: Polar vortex
  • 2012: Sandy
  • 2010: Nashville floods

Like all SERVPRO teams, our large-loss disaster recovery teams are available 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. We are prepared for any size disaster, whether it’s a burst pipe in your basement, a fire in your kitchen—or a major hurricane!

When you have suffered a disaster at your home or business, call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785

Help Is Here

The team at SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield has specialized training and experience to quickly clean up and restore your commercial building and property after suffering damage from a fire, water disaster or a storm. Call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785.

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SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield

Top 50 Franchise Nationally

100 Peters Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
IICRC Certified
Ralph DiCristofaro 
Certified SERVPRO technicians
Call 860.216.2785 
24-hour emergency service

When you have suffered a disaster at your home or business, call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785

Ways to Avoid Winter Water Damage to Your Home

11/21/2019 (Permalink)

A burst copper pipe Prevent costly damage to your home in winter with some pre-season maintenance and cold-snap tasks.

Burst pipes, storms, rooftop ice dams and other cold-weather hazards can unleash winter water damage at your house. Prepare your home to withstand the challenges of a New England winter and remain water-tight.

Prepare for Winter Storms

Do these tasks before winter hits and you’ll have a better chance of preventing storm-related damage to your home.

  • Clean out the gutters.
  • Disconnect and drain all outside hoses. Shut off the inside valves that supply water to outdoor faucets and hookups if you can. Open outdoor faucets to allow residual water to drain, and keep them open during the cold weather months.
  • Have a contractor check your roof to see if it can sustain the weight of a heavy snowfall. Repair roof leaks.
  • Remove tree branches that overhang your (and your neighbor's) house.

Prevent Burst Pipes

A frozen pipe that bursts can cause an immense amount of damage in a short time, unleashing up to 250 gallons of water in 24 hours. These tips can help prevent a big leak from a pipe that bursts (and you may even save on your heating costs, too).

  • Insulate walls and attics, and caulk and weather-strip doors and windows.
  • Wrap water pipes in your basement or crawl spaces with foam insulation sleeves.
  • Keep your home’s temperature set to at least 55 degrees, and make sure your furniture isn't blocking your heating vents.
  • If you have a fireplace, keep the flue closed when you're not using it.

During a deep freeze, keep your pipes from freezing by:

  • Opening kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate around pipes.
  • Keeping a slight trickle of water flowing through faucets connected to pipes that run through unheated or unprotected spaces.
  • Draining the water system if your house will be unattended during cold periods.

Avoid Ice Dams

Ice dams form when water from melted snow refreezes above your eaves or in the gutters and seeps in under the roof, soaking interior walls. Here’s how to prevent ice dams from forming on your roof:

  • Adequately ventilate your attic.
  • Insulate the attic floor well to minimize the amount of heat rising through the attic from within the house.
  • Clear leaves and debris from your gutters and downspouts.

When you have suffered a water or other disaster at your home or business, call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785

We're Here For You

The team at SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield has the people, skills and equipment to help homeowners recover from water damage and eradicate mold. Call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785 any time.

Other Helpful Blog Posts

SERVPRO publishes educational articles on how to protect your home and business from disasters and how to deal with mold, fire, water, sewage, storm and other damage.

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SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield

Top 50 Franchise Nationally

100 Peters Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
IICRC Certified
Ralph DiCristofaro 
Certified SERVPRO technicians
Call 860.216.2785 
24-hour emergency service

When you have suffered a water or other disaster at your home or business, call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785

Winterize Your Plumbing Now

11/11/2019 (Permalink)

Water pipes are wrapped in insulation Take simple steps to winterize your home's plumbing, and you could save yourself many thousands of dollars worth of water damage.

Whether you stay home or travel south for the winter, one thing you must do to prevent costly water damage in your home is to prepare your pipes for the winter. When water in a pipe freezes, it expands, which can burst that pipe open. You could suffer tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage to your home and belongings in mere hours. Avoid that kind of trouble by winterizing your pipes.

If You’re Staying Home

Even if you will be in your home all winter, using your plumbing as usual, certain pipes and fixtures can still freeze in cold weather. When the temperature drops, take these steps to prevent a flood in your home.

  • Locate all the plumbing that runs along the inside of your exterior walls. Protect these pipes from the cold by insulating them with foam-like wrap and using duct or electrical tape to keep it in place. Then, wrap your pipes that run through unheated spaces, like attics, crawlspaces and basements.
  • Shut off your hose bibs (the outside faucets where you connect your hoses) by locating the inside shut-off valves for these fixtures (commonly found under the kitchen sink) and turn them off. Then, go outside and disconnect the hoses if they are in place. Now, turn on the hose bibs to allow any water inside the pipe to drain. Turn off the outside shut-off valves, too. (No water will flow to the hose bib while the shut-offs are engaged, so write yourself a note to open them back up in the spring.)

If You’re Going to Be Away

If you travel for any length of time during the winter, or you own a property that you don’t live in full-time, winterizing is a must. Unattended plumbing systems are much, much more likely to fall prey to winter weather.

  • Begin by turning off your main water valve. The valve may be in the basement or near the crawl space, when either is present. You may also find main valves in the same room with the water heater.
  • Go outside and turn on your hose bib (the outside faucet) to allow water to drain out of all the pipes. If you have a basement, turn on any faucets there to drain the water.
  • In winter, ordinary water may freeze in your fixture’s traps and rupture your pipes. Buy a large bottle of windshield wiper fluid, which won’t freeze, and pour about 2 cups of this fluid into each drain, including sinks, showers and bathtubs. The liquid will drain down to the trap and stay there. Finally, pour about 4 cups of the fluid into each toilet (but don’t flush).

When you have suffered a water or other disaster at your home or business, call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785

We're Here For You

The team at SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield has the people, skills and equipment to help homeowners recover from water damage and eradicate mold. Call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785 any time.

Other Helpful Blog Posts

SERVPRO publishes educational articles on how to protect your home and business from disasters and how to deal with mold, fire, water, sewage, storm and other damage.

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SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield

Top 50 Franchise Nationally

100 Peters Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
IICRC Certified
Ralph DiCristofaro 
Certified SERVPRO technicians
Call 860.216.2785 
24-hour emergency service

When you have suffered a water or other disaster at your home or business, call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785

How SERVPRO Cares for Your Possessions

10/25/2019 (Permalink)

A rug and its identifying tag lie on a concrete floor To ensure that all your possessions are tracked every moment they are in our care, SERVPRO tags and QR-codes every item.

If you’ve experienced disrupting damage from a fire, smoke, water, sewage or storm disaster, nothing is more important than restoring your home and possessions “Like it never even happened.”

That’s why SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield upgraded its inventory system earlier this year to ensure that your furniture and personal possessions are securely tracked while we clean and store them and repair your home. The heart of our process is a computer-based tracking system that shows at a glance exactly where your items are and what work has been performed.

Caring for 100% of Your Items

SERVPRO will take care of 100% of the items in your home, either cleaning or storing them. The process starts at your home, where our project manager determines what work needs to be done to restore each item. Everything is individually labeled with your name, QR-coded and photographed. Next, the objects are securely wrapped: furniture in blankets then plastic wrap, glass in bubble wrap then plastic wrap, etc. Smaller personal items are boxed, photographed and then packed and labeled.

You witness the entire process and at the end, sign off on a form that lists all the items with the before-wrap photos. (This list also provides essential information for your insurance claim.)

Once wrapped, your possessions are loaded into storage containers or vaults; the container, too, is labeled and QR-coded. With a scan, SERVPRO staff can immediately tell where an item is in its facility, and if the item needs cleaning, is being or has been cleaned (and when) or is waiting in a secure storage container. Certain items, like smoke-damaged clothing, or unique possessions, like pianos or pool tables, are entrusted to specialty cleaners that SERVPRO contracts with.

An Unbroken Chain of Custody

At our facility in Bloomfield (built in 2015 and one of the largest SERVPRO warehouses in the U.S.), we have multiple rooms dedicated to storage. When a homeowner needs to retrieve items early—documents required for insurance claims or the contents of a room that’s ready to be set up, for example—we quickly locate the items in our system and determine exactly where they are stored.

The entire time your possessions are in our care, we ensure an unbroken chain of custody. Finally, once all items have been returned to your home, you review and sign off on the original tracking form to ensure that all your items are present, clean and in good condition.

When your home and possessions have been damaged by a wind, water or fire event, and you just want your daily life to return to the way it was, rely on SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield to care for your possessions professionally, securely and respectfully!

When you have suffered a disaster at your home or business, call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785

Help Is Here

The team at SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield has specialized training and experience to quickly clean up and restore your commercial building and property after suffering damage from a fire, water disaster or a storm. Call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785.

Other Helpful Blog Posts

SERVPRO publishes educational articles on how to protect your home and business from disasters and how to deal with mold, fire, water, sewage, storm and other damage.

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SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield

Top 50 Franchise Nationally

100 Peters Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
IICRC Certified
Ralph DiCristofaro 
Certified SERVPRO technicians
Call 860.216.2785 
24-hour emergency service

When you have suffered a disaster at your home or business, call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785

Survive & Thrive: Prepare Your Small Business for a Natural Disaster (Part 1)

9/24/2019 (Permalink)

A truck drives down a flooded street. Having an emergency response plan in place before a natural disaster hits can help your business survive the damage & thrive afterward.

You have worked hard to build and maintain your business. But it could all be jeopardized if a natural disaster—flood, hurricane, fire, blizzard—damages your property, puts your employees at risk and knocks your company out of action for days or weeks.

You can’t stop the disaster from heading your way, but you can do specific preparation that will help your business carry on. Start your emergency response planning by evaluating the potential for damage.

1. What Are the Risks?

Which natural disasters are most likely to hit your area: tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, floods? Which risk is the greatest? Identify the most imminent weather threat and start planning for that, then work your way down the list.

2. What Do the Experts Say?

Do your research by visiting reputable sources such as Ready.gov , FEMA and the American Red Cross. The Red Cross’s Ready Rating program offers free online disaster preparedness planning, and some of their chapters also provide free CPR and first-aid training for small businesses.

3. How Might Your Business Be Impacted?

Begin your planning with a business impact analysis (BIA). The BIA will help you create and refine plans for emergency response, crisis communications and business continuity. Explore the potential effect a disaster could have on your business, including lost or delayed sales and income or increased expenses from repairs. You’ll want to take into account your existing customer communication, inventory management and record-keeping practices.

Next: Developing the Disaster Recovery Plan

Now that you have finished this research and analysis process, you are ready to dig in and develop a thorough set of plans to put into place if a natural disaster hits your business. Your plans will cover these areas:

  • Emergency response
  • Communications
  • Data management
  • Business continuity

Read Part 2 of this series for tips on creating and implementing these essential plans in the event of a fire, flood or storm disaster.

Sources: Allstate.com, Ready.gov

If your business is hit by a natural disaster, like a flood, wind storm or wildfire, call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785

Help Is Here

The team at SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield has specialized training and experience to quickly clean up and restore your commercial building and property after a natural disaster. Call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785.

Other Helpful Blog Posts

SERVPRO publishes educational articles on how to protect your home and business from disasters and how to deal with mold, fire, water, sewage, storm and other damage.

Businesses: September is Emergency Preparedness Month

Disaster: What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

Business Lessons Learned from Natural Disasters

Natural Disaster Statistics and Facts

SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield

Top 50 Franchise Nationally

100 Peters Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
IICRC Certified
Ralph DiCristofaro 
Certified SERVPRO technicians
Call 860.216.2785 
24-hour emergency service

If your business is hit by a natural disaster, like a flood, wind storm or wildfire, call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785

Survive & Thrive: Prepare Your Small Business for a Natural Disaster (Part 2)

9/24/2019 (Permalink)

A tornado looms over a small town. Having an emergency response plan in place for your business gives you a head start on surviving a natural disaster and recovering afterward.

Natural disasters, like storms, floods or wildfires, happen fast and they can be fierce! If you’re not prepared, they can cripple your business.

If you follow steps 1–3 in Part 1 of this series, you’ll be ready to create a series of plans to follow when disaster strikes. Answering these questions will help you and your employees survive the disaster, communicate to your customers, retain your data and minimize costly downtime.

4. How Will You Respond to the Disaster?

If a natural disaster strikes, you’ll need to put your emergency response plan into action fast. Decide how you will protect employees and customers, what you will take with you if evacuating, where you will meet up and how you will manage business operations and communicate during and after the disaster. Once you have a plan developed, practice it.

Before a disaster strikes is a good time to select an experienced disaster remediation company like SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield to quickly and thoroughly repair damage to your building and property.

5. How Will You Communicate After a Disaster?

The crisis communications plan details how you will keep in contact with employees and customers. Determine who will be the spokesperson for employees and customers (which may be different persons). You may want to draft key boilerplate messages ahead of time.

6. What About Your Data?

If your office or store is destroyed, what would happen to your business’s financial and other essential data, such as customer records? It’s wise to back up your data regularly, both internally on a physical drive and externally in the cloud.

You also may want to consider adding data compromise coverage to your business insurance policy. This can help you with the financial or legal burden if information is lost, stolen or accidentally released.

7. How Will Your Business Move on from a Disaster?

How will? A continuity plan describes how your business will continue to operate after a natural disaster, including recovering lost data, communicating with customers and suppliers and fulfilling orders and service contracts.

Business property insurance may help protect your company from substantial losses in the event of a covered claim, and business interruption coverage may help reimburse you if you’re temporarily unable to do business after a covered loss.

Sources: Allstate.com, Ready.gov

If your business is hit by a natural disaster, like a flood, wind storm or wildfire, call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785

Help Is Here

The team at SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield has specialized training and experience to quickly clean up and restore your commercial building and property after a natural disaster. Call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785.

Other Helpful Blog Posts

SERVPRO publishes educational articles on how to protect your home and business from disasters and how to deal with mold, fire, water, sewage, storm and other damage.

Businesses: September is Emergency Preparedness Month

Disaster: What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

Business Lessons Learned from Natural Disasters

Natural Disaster Statistics and Facts

SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield

Top 50 Franchise Nationally

100 Peters Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
IICRC Certified
Ralph DiCristofaro 
Certified SERVPRO technicians
Call 860.216.2785 
24-hour emergency service

If your business is hit by a natural disaster, like a flood, wind storm or wildfire, call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785

Sump Pumps: Your Last Line of Defense Against Basement Water Damage

9/17/2019 (Permalink)

Sump pump with a green check mark in front of a shield. Having a sump pump in good working order is an important way to prevent basement flooding and the resulting costly damage.

If you’ve ever had a flooded basement after a storm or burst pipe or washing machine leak, you know how devastating the damage can be. Even a few inches of flood water can ruin your household items, cause rust and rot in your basement and cripple your essential mechanical systems, including your hot water heater and furnace/boiler. By collecting and removing water to a home’s exterior, a sump pump can prevent some serious and costly damage.

Any home that regularly experiences even a little water penetration into the basement or crawlspace should be equipped with a sump pump—but all homeowners should consider installing one to help prevent sudden water damage from a flood or storm.

How a Sump Pump Helps Prevent Basement Flooding

A sump pump is an electric pump that sits in a hole, called the sump pit. The pit is located at the lowest corner of the basement or crawlspace so that when flooding occurs, water drains directly into the pit. When water in the pit reaches a predetermined level, the pump automatically kicks on and pumps the water outside the house through a PVC pipe.

Most basement water problems stem from exterior drainage problems. As you consider installing a sump pump, evaluate (in the rain, if you must) the drainage around your home. Are gutters clogged? Do downspout extensions move roof runoff at least 4 feet beyond the foundation? Does the soil within 3 feet of the foundation slope away from the house?

Even if these conditions have been met, water may still find its way into your basement. Perhaps a utility trench invisibly channels runoff back to the house or you have a seasonally high ground water table. These situations call for a sump pump.

And just because you’ve never had water in your basement, don’t think it can’t happen! Even if you don’t have a chronic water problem in your basement, a powerful storm, such as a hurricane, or a long-lasting or heavy rain storm can inundate your home. The driest basement can, under the wrong circumstances, become a flooded mess.

Installing a sump pump, even in the absence of an ongoing basement water problem, is still a wise and relatively low-cost investment.

How to Choose a Sump Pump

Consider these factors when selecting a pump:

  • There are generally two types of sump pump: pedestal and submersible. Choose a submersible pump over a pedestal pump if your sump basin has the space. Submersible pumps allow the sump pit to be covered with a lid, reducing pump noise and keeping debris out of the pit.
  • Choose a pump with at least 1/3 horsepower, which is sufficient for most homes.
  • Buy a pump with a cast iron core, not a plastic one. Cast iron helps to dissipate heat to the surrounding water, lengthening the life of the pump.
  • To minimize clogging, the pump should have a no-screen intake design and an impellor that can handle solids up to ½-inch in diameter.
  • Choose a mechanical switch over a pressure switch. The float should be solid.
  • Look for a pump with an alarm that tells you when the water reaches a preset level, detecting a water leak before it causes costly damage.  Sump pumps can burn out, lose power, become clogged or misaligned, or malfunction in a variety of other ways, so an alarm can help you resolve flooding before damage occurs.
  • Seriously consider installing a battery backup to keep the sump pump working in the event of a power outage, which is most likely to happen during heavy rains and floods—just when the pump is most needed. The backup power comes from a car battery—or even better, a deep cycle boat battery. Most of the systems charge the batteries while the power is on, so that the battery is fully charged in the event of a power outage.

Some Notes on Installation

Many homeowners will have a sump pump professionally installed, while those comfortable with plumbing and electricity should be able to install a sump pump system themselves in 2 to 4 hours (this does not include creating a sump pit). Here are a few installation tips to consider:

  • The sump pit should be large enough for the pump to operate properly. For most homes, the pit should not be less than 24 inches deep and 18 inches wide. A float jammed between the pump and the pit is a common reason why sump pumps fail.
  • Install a check valve to prevent water in the discharge pipe from flowing back into the sump pit after the pump turns off.
  • Place the battery (if including backup) in a protective plastic case and set it on a wall-mounted shelf—not on the floor.
  • The water discharge pipe should be 1 1/2-inch-diameter PVC pipe.
  • An electrical outlet for plugging in the electric pump and the charger for the battery-backup pump should be near the sump pit. If necessary, hire a licensed electrician to install a new outlet. Don't use extension cords to power the system. Per code, a sump pump must be plugged in to a functioning ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet.
  • When pumping the water outdoors, the water must be released onto a downhill slope and at least 20 feet away from the house so that it can't drain back into the basement or crawlspace. Another option is to pump the water into a drainpipe that leads away from the house. And while you don’t want your discharge pipe too close to your house, shed, garage or other structure, make sure it stays on your property, not your neighbor’s, and does not drain into a public sewer or residential septic system.

Keep Your Sump Pump Humming

A sump pump does you no good if it’s not working when a storm hits and water gushes into your basement. Ensure your peace of mind by performing routine maintenance.

Do a visual (and slightly hands-on) inspection of your sump pump at least three to four times a year. Some homeowners even hang a sign in their basements reminding them to check the sump pump frequently. Grab a flashlight and give your pump the once over:

  1. Is the pump plugged in? Is the power cord in good condition?
  2. Test the GFCI outlet that the pump is plugged into and reset if necessary.
  3. Is the drain hose connected properly? Is it unblocked and unfrozen?
  4. Is the pump totally upright and on a solid, even surface with no leaning?
  5. Is there any debris in the pit that could clog the pump and prevent it from working properly? Clean it out.
  6. Does the float move freely? Adjust it if necessary.
  7. Pour a bucket (about 5 gallons) of water into the sump pit. Does the pump start automatically and quickly clear the water?

In addition, do these tasks at least once a year (or hire a professional to do an inspection):

  1. Clean and lubricate the pump. The sucking action of the pump can pull small stones into the grate, blocking the inlet or damaging the pump over time. Unplug the pump, disconnect it from the discharge pipe and pull the pump out of the sump. Hose away any debris on the screen at the pump’s base and rinse off its housing. Lubricate the pump bearings, if required (check your owner’s manual).
  2. Inspect the check valve. If the internal flap doesn’t swing freely, flush it out, and if you see mineral deposits, soak it in vinegar. Make sure its arrow points up when reconnecting it to the discharge pipe.
  3. Test the float switch. A failed sump pump is usually the result of a switching problem. Sometimes the pump can shift inside the basin, causing the float that operates the switch to lodge against its side. Debris can also interfere with the action of the pump switch. Pour a few gallons of water into the sump. If it comes on and sucks out the water, the switch—and pump—are good to go. If not, repair or replace the switch.
  4. Press the GFCI outlet’s test and reset buttons.
  5. If you have a backup battery, unplug the pump to see if it functions properly on battery power alone. Then, top up the battery’s cells with distilled water.
  6. Ensure the outlet pipes are tightly joined together and draining out at least 20 feet away from your foundation. Make sure the vent hole in the discharge pipe is clear.

Signs of a Failing Sump Pump

Eventually, machines fail and even a well-maintained sump pump has an end date. Contact a professional if you encounter any of these signs:

  • Aging. Experts recommend that you replace an average-use unit every 7–10 years or 5–7 years if your pump runs frequently.
  • Odors. If you detect rotten, moldy smells in your basement, your sump pump may be malfunctioning.
  • Rust. An older pump may not have been made with rust-resistant materials. A pump with rust that can't be scrubbed away needs to be replaced or the rusted part needs to be repaired.
  • Noises. Sump pumps shouldn't generate loud noises. If your pump is making unusual noises, like humming, clanging or banging, it could be time for a replacement.
  • Water. The most noticeable sign your sump pump needs repair or replacement is the presence of water in your basement.

To avoid the stress of trying to buy and install a new sump pump while flood water seeps closer and closer to your basement, have a backup sump pump handy—and be sure to test it regularly, too.

When All Else Fails

If a storm is pouring water into your basement and has knocked out the electricity and you don’t have battery backup, your sump pump won't do a thing, unfortunately. Instead of watching your basement fill with flood water, you can attempt this old-school, low-tech trick.

If you live on a slope, make a siphon. Fill a garden hose with water from the outside spigot, seal one end with your thumb and have a friend seal the other. Place one end through the cellar window and into the standing water. Then, have your friend carry the other end as far downhill as possible (the outlet has to be below the intake). Release your thumbs and gravity should begin pulling water out of your basement and away from your home.

Other options to pursue when the water is rising and your sump pump won’t kick in include using a manual bilge pump and setting up a bucket brigade. CAUTION: DO NOT ENTER a flooded basement until you CUT ALL POWER to your residence.

If Your Basement Floods

In spite of your best efforts, the water poured in and you’re looking at inches or even feet of water in your basement! That’s a disaster and you have to act fast to restore the water damage and prevent further damage, like mold growth.

For complete cleanup, you want to call on a reputable damage restoration company that will:

  • Get there fast to inspect and assess the damage.
  • Have a team of highly trained water damage specialists ready to go.
  • Pack out, clean and store your possessions.
  • Use the latest equipment and expert techniques for water removal and extraction, drying and dehumidification, followed by cleaning and sanitizing.
  • Complete necessary repairs of your structure and restore your possessions.

There’s a Coverage for That

Many property casualty insurers offer coverage for water backup and sump pump discharge or overflow damage. This would include water damage from a sewer or drain within your home, but not from a flood or surface water backup. Contact your home insurer for details.

Sources: Bob Vila, Travelers Insurance, This Old House, Popular Mechanics, Allstate Insurance Company, The Hanover Insurance Group, SSPMA, How Stuff Works, InterNACHI

SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield

Top 50 Franchise Nationally
100 Peters Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
IICRC Certified
Ralph DiCristofaro 
Certified SERVPRO technicians
Call 860.216.2785 
24-hour emergency service

We're Here for You

The team at SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield has specialized training and experience in storm damage restoration, water damage restoration, fire damage restoration, mold remediation, commercial services and natural disaster cleanup. Call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785.

If you have suffered damage from a storm or other disaster at your home or business, call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785