Dealing with Frozen Pipes
Frozen Pipe Damage to Residential Property
With the recent cold temperatures due to the Polar Vortex, frozen pipes have become a real issue here in the upper Midwest. Water has a unique property in that it expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. No matter the strength of a container, expanding water can cause pipes to break.
Pipes that freeze most frequently are:
- Pipes that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, and water sprinkler lines.
- Water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets.
- Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation.
How to Protect Pipes From Freezing
- Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer's or installer's directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful, and is dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.
- Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
- Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in these areas.
- Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
- Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a "pipe sleeve" or installing UL-listed "heat tape," "heat cable," or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes – even ¼” of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing.
- Consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing.
How to Prevent Frozen Pipes
- Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
- When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing.
- Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
- If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
How to Thaw Frozen Pipes: If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
- Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
- Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
- Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you cannot thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
- Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.
Should you find yourself with a broken pipe that has spread water throughout your home, don’t be the person with the box fans and beach towels. Get some professional help from and call SERVPRO of Dearborn Heights North/East Garden City at (313) 228-5134. Working to make it “Like it never even happened.”
Fire Prevention Tips
Here are some ways that you can prevent a fire in your home or business.
Have Smoke Alarms Installed: Fires often occur at night when you’re asleep and spread so rapidly that some people are overcome by fumes before they even wake up. Smoke alarms will give you early warning and save lives.
Have Fire Extinguishers: That’s plural, as in more than one. Many people just have one for the kitchen, but you should have one in every room, especially if you have a fireplace or use space heaters. Don’t forget the garage and attic where people tend to store gas cans, old clothes, and lots of other combustible stuff.
Watch the Wiring: Electrical fires account for nearly 24,000 residential fires in the US. In 11% of these fires someone died and in 7% someone was seriously injured. Keep a close eye out for frayed wiring, overloaded electrical sockets are a major cause of fires. If you find that a light switch or receptacle plate feels hot, get it replaced immediately by a professional.
Be Careful Cooking: Stay in the kitchen if you’re frying or grilling food. Even a short time out of the room might allow a fire to go unnoticed until it’s too late. Don’t cook with a stove, oven, or grill if you’re sleepy or if you’ve been drinking alcohol. Don’t wear long flowing sleeves when you’re cooking. If you’re cooking with oil, it’s a good idea to have a lid handy for the pan you’re using. A lid will suffocate the fire and give you time to turn the burner off. Don’t try to move the pan or throw water on the burning oil as it will splatter and burn you.
Monitor and Maintain Other Appliances: The lint trap in your clothes dryer can cause fires by overheating the appliance. Clean it out after each load. Replace furnace filters diligently and keep clutter several feet away. Let professionals establish and monitor settings and do the needed repairs and maintenance. Portable space heaters are handy, but be certain to remove any combustible clutter at least 3 feet away in every direction. Get a heater that has an automatic shutoff function if it falls over.
Teach Your Children: Kids are notoriously curious about fire and flames. Teach them that fire is a tool not a toy. Keep kids 3 feet away from cooking stoves and fireplaces except under your direct supervision. Do not let kids handle matches, lighters, or lighted candles. Kids should not be allowed to use barbeque grills and kids should be taught to follow established escape routes from the home in the event of a fire.
Use Sense If You Smoke: Smoking is a fire hazard, so avoid the activity inside the house and, especially, don’t smoke in bed. Avoid smoking when you’re drowsy, on certain meds, or have been drinking alcohol. Make sure that all cigarettes and cigars are completely out before you toss them in the trash. Better yet, have an ashtray with sand in it available. Never smoke in a home in which someone uses oxygen. Oxygen is extremely flammable, even explosive. Come to think about it, isn’t this a great time to quit smoking?
Establish Escape Plans: You should be already looking around the house for at least 2 ways to make a rapid exit from the house. If there’s a second floor, the family should know how to easily open the windows and deploy a ladder, in case they can’t get downstairs. Conduct fire drills regularly so that everyone knows exactly what to do in a fire, with a designated meeting spot outside the home.
You might not be able to protect your family from every calamity but with a little planning and some common sense, you’ll be able to spot every fire hazard short of a flaming meteorite hitting your home. Find those hazards and eliminate them and your home will become a whole lot safer. If you need fire mitigation assistance, call SERVPRO of Dearborn Heights North/East Garden City at (313) 228-5134. At SERVPRO, we work to make it “Like it never even happened.”
Smoke and Soot Damage Remediation
Bathroom Smoke/Soot Damage
Smoke and soot is very invasive and can penetrate nooks, crannies and cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. Our smoke damage expertise and experience allows us to inspect and accurately assess the extent of the damage to develop a comprehensive plan of action. Following are some facts about smoke and soot:
- Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.
- Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor.
- The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process.
Different types of smoke leave different types of soot residue after a fire.
- Wet smoke is generated by a low heat, smoldering fire such as burning plastic or rubber. Wet smoke has a pungent odor and is typically sticky and smeary. Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.
- Paper and wood fires produce a dry smoke. This type of is a fire is fast burning and generates a high temperature. Heat rises therefore the smoke rises and soot residue is usually heavy on ceilings and in attics.
- A protein fire occurs from the intense burn of a protein-enriched fiber, such as eggs left unattended on a stove, or a forgotten roast in the oven. There may not be any noticeable damage, but there might be a sticky residue coating the surfaces of your home, and an extreme pungent odor.
Since each smoke and fire damage situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored for the specific conditions. Before restoration begins, we will test the soot to determine which type of smoke damage occurred and the cleaning procedures will then be based on the information identified during pretesting.
SERVPRO of Dearborn Heights North/East Garden City personnel have the training, equipment, expertise, and experience to restore your fire and smoke damaged property. We will also treat your family with empathy and respect and your property with consideration and care.
Should you have any questions or want more information regarding Fire, Smoke and Soot Damage Remediation, contact us immediately at (313) 228-5134. At SERVPRO, we work to make it “Like it never even happened.”
Restoring Commercial Properties
SERVPRO...Faster to any Disaster
Fire, smoke, flooding and water damage events at commercial properties are often complex with numerous issues that require a knowledgeable and flexible response. Whether we’re dealing with a relatively small cleanup scenario or a large scale event, SERVPRO works quickly to assess each unique situation, isolate the damaged area and begin cleaning up. In many instances, normal operations can continue in a temporary space while we restore your facility.
SERVPRO professionals are trained to be mindful of legal and environmental concerns and strive to fully restore the damaged area while working within your budgetary constraints. We understand that every hour spent cleaning up is an hour of lost revenue and productivity. So when an emergency situation arises in your business, give us a call and we’ll be there fast with the help you need.
SERVPRO of Dearborn Heights North/East Garden City specializes in the cleanup and restoration of commercial property after a fire or water damage event. Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration. From initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO’s corporate training facility to regular IICRC-industry certification, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property. Should you find yourself in need of emergency cleaning and restoration service, give us a call at (313) 228-5134. At SERVPRO, we work to make it “Like it never even happened.”
Be Prepared with a SERVPRO ERP
File Room Water Damage
In times of a disaster, like a broken water supply line or fire and smoke damage, are you equipped to respond quickly and appropriately as a business owner? Creating a plan and familiarizing yourself with certain utility shut off valves for your property can help save you time and money when an accident occurs. For example, knowing how to shut off the main water supply line to the building can minimize the water damage if a pipe were to break. Likewise, knowing how to turn off the sprinkler system can be helpful if that system malfunctions or is broken.
Many business owners do not take the time to familiarize themselves with such things and unfortunately end up learning the hard way when something goes awry. SERVPRO of Dearborn Heights North/East Garden City can help all local business owners better prepare for emergencies by creating an Emergency Ready Profile (ERP) for their business. This profile is FREE OF CHARGE and takes about an hour to complete.
Our personnel will help you, the business owner, learn how to respond to water, fire, and mold damage situations in your building and how to educate your employees on such situations. The latest industry research indicates that 50% of businesses that suffer a catastrophe never recover. Knowing your risks and how to mitigate your losses can make or break your company after a disaster.
If you are interested in learning more about creating an Emergency Ready Profile (ERP) for your business, please call our office today at (313) 228-5134. SERVPRO of Dearborn Heights North/East Garden City…working with you to make it “Like it never even happened.”
Dealing With Extreme Cold
Frozen & Burst Pipes Can be a Serious Problem
As temperatures drop this winter, following are some tips that people can take to stay safe during the cold weather.
- Make sure your home is well insulated and that you have weather stripping around your doors and window sills to keep warm inside.
- Have a working carbon monoxide detector. Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal burning device inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any enclosed area. Locate these items a minimum of 20 feet from doors, windows and vents.
- Keep fire extinguishers on hand and make sure that everyone knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk during the winter as more people turn to alternate heating sources (such as space heaters) without taking the necessary safety precautions.
- If you have a wood burning fireplace, make sure you have your chimney cleaned and inspected. Use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs. Make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.
- Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing your body heat.
- Bring pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
- If you are using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away – things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs.
- Turn off space heaters when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent your pipes from freezing. Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of the reach of children. Keep the garage doors closed if there are water lines in the garage.
- Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night. Your heating bill may be a little higher, but you could avoid a more costly repair job if your pipes freeze and burst.
- Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.
- Don’t hook a generator up to the home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.
Unfortunately, even the best prepared can still become a victim of water damage due to the cold weather. If this is you, or someone you know, have them call SERVPRO of Dearborn Heights North/East Garden City. Working to make it "Like it never even happened."
What to Know About Mold
Extensive Mold Growth on Drywall Surface
Mold affects more homes and businesses than you think - it’s everywhere. In fact, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re breathing it in as you’re reading this blog. Mold spores are ever present in nature and wet, damp environments are ideal breeding grounds for mold spores to grow and flourish. Left unchecked, the mold will get out of control and an expert mold remediation service company, like SERVPRO, will be needed to get rid of the problem.
Following are some mold facts in order to help you learn to understand the basics:
- Bleach does not kill mold and industry leaders do not recommend it. It usually grows back within weeks after being sprayed with bleach.
- All home buyers should require an inspection before buying a home. Even newly built homes can report active growth.
- Mold spores exist almost everywhere, indoors and outdoors. It only becomes a problem when large amounts of spores exist in an area. No one knows how many species of fungi exist but estimates range from tens of thousands to perhaps 300,000 or more.
- Often times, homeowner insurance policies do not cover damages directly related to mold.
- Organic and/or porous materials only have to be exposed to excessive moisture for 24-48 hours before mold can begin to grow.
- Mold growth usually does not happen directly on glass or concrete. However, it can grow on the dust that accumulates on these materials.
- Serious infestation reduces property values.
- Infestation usually means that there is a structural defect that’s allowing moisture access.
- Live Christmas trees can be a significant source of mold spores.
- Humidifiers can cause moldproblems because they could significantly increase indoor humidity making conditions right for mold growth.
- If you try to paint over porous surfaces, mold will grow through the paint.
- Outdoors, it plays an important role in nature. It breaks down toppled trees, fallen leaves, and dead animals.
Things that you can do to minimize the risk of mold contamination include promptly mitigating any water damage that occurs in your home. Drain backups, toilet overflows, leaky pipes and roof leaks, if not properly cleaned, disinfected and dried will create the wet environment that mold spores seek. A dehumidifier placed in an overly humid environment will help reduce the humidity levels which will preclude and minimize the spread of mold.
It is vital that you be continually look around your home or business for mold as well as follow your nose. Oftentimes the damp, musty smell is a good indicator that a problem is developing. Should you find yourself concerned about mold, please contact us here at SERVPRO of Dearborn Heights North/East Garden City where we work to make it “Like it never even happened.”
Safety Tips for the DIYer
Always Remember to Work Safe!
When beginning a home improvement DIY project, it’s important to consider the following safety tips to keep you and your family safe:
- Personal Protective Equipment: Wear protective clothing including safety goggles, gloves, and a dust mask when working with potentially hazardous materials such as glass or spray paint. It is also a good idea to wear a mask when working in a dusty environment. Consider ear plugs or ear muffs if tools are particularly loud.
- Protect Your Lungs: When painting, or using any material that generates toxic fumes or dust, keep the room well ventilated. Never smoke while painting or standing close to a freshly painted area. Always wear a mask when dealing with fiberglass insulation.
- Use the Right Tools: Always use the correct tools for the job. It is worth investing in high quality equipment as this will be safer and will probably do the job quicker. Store tools in a safe place, out of the way of children and pets. Keep them in a box or secured on a rack.
- Knife Safety: When using knives, always cut away from you. Use a baton as a guide and run a sharp knife along the edge of it. Always store knives securely in a safe place.
- Use Caution When Working with Electricity: When fixing or checking electrical appliances or connections, always switch off the power and remove the fuse or circuit breaker (MCB). If you're fixing an electrical appliance, switch off the appliance at the socket and pull out the plug. As an added precaution, wear rubber-soled shoes when working with electricity and electrical items.
- Fire Safety: Always keep a chemical fire extinguisher in the house in a convenient location such as under the kitchen sink, in your utility closet or in your laundry room. Never use water to put out a fire in an electrical appliance. Keep in mind that gas and electrical work is best left to a registered professional.
- Power Tools: When using a power drill, choose a model that has a plastic non-conducting body. Unplug the drill before fitting parts and remove the chuck key before switching it on. Wear sturdy shoes with slip-proof soles. Avoid wearing loose clothing or jewelry, which could get caught in the drill. Tie back long hair. Make sure that power saws or in good working order and that all guards are in place to ensure safe operation.
- Working with Heights: Ladders are one of the main causes of DIY accidents. Erect the ladder according to the manufacturer's instructions. Never lean to one side as you could lose balance.
- Take Your Time: Don't rush as you're more likely to have an accident. Carefully plan the job before you start work. Know your limitations and consult a professional if you are unsure. It's also a good idea to ask someone if they can help you.
Water Damage Prevention
Roof damage allowing for water damage.
One of the worst problems that homeowners encounter is water damage. The causes range from weather related issues to aged or faulty plumbing systems. Severe storms causing backups or flooding, cold temperatures resulting in pipes freezing and bursting, washer or dishwasher problems, sump pump failures and clogged drains are all types of water damage that can occur. Water damage can cause a lot of damage to homes and property which will cost a significant amount of money to repair. The best thing to avoid spending a lot of money on repairs is to prevent water damage from happening.
There are three key ways of preventing water damage that every home owner should know and apply.
- Watch for water leaks and address them promptly; inspect your roof occasionally and repair any damaged, loose and missing shingles. You should also check for stains on ceilings, toilets that shake and dark spots below pipes.
- Ensure all drains are clear and working properly. Make sure that your gutters and downspouts are clear and make sure that your yard is sloped some distance away from the foundation.
- Check appliances (washer, dishwasher, ice maker) frequently and inspect the supply and drain lines to be sure that they’re in good condition. Check to ensure that your water heaters and sump pump are in good condition.
Other steps you can take to prevent water damage include:
- Keeping track of your water bill.
- Disconnecting hoses when not in use.
- Installing water detection devices.
- Closing your water main whenever you are going away for an extended period.
- Taking care of your vegetation and trees.
- Avoid landscaping too close to the utility pipes.
If you have done all the above but are still facing water damage problems, it is time to seek professional help. SERVPRO of Dearborn Heights North/East Garden City is prepared to assist you with any water damage issues. Contact us at (313) 228-5134. SERVPRO…working to make it “Like it never even happened.”
Cleaning up Smoke and Soot Damage
Smoke and Soot Damage
Smoke and soot is very invasive and can penetrate various cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. Our smoke damage expertise and experience allows us to inspect and accurately assess the extent of the damage to develop a comprehensive plan of action.
Smoke and soot facts:
- Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.
- Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor.
- The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process.
There are three (3) different types of smoke.
- Wet Smoke – Plastic and Rubber: Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.
- Dry Smoke – Paper and Wood: Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises therefore smoke rises.
- Protein Fire Residue: Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire. Protein fire residue is virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, and has an extreme pungent odor.
Each type of fire has a different type of cleaning process. Before restoration begins, SERVPRO of Dearborn Heights North/East Garden City will test the soot to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. The cleaning procedures will then be based on the information identified during pretesting. Since each smoke and fire damage situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored for the specific conditions.
We have the equipment, expertise, and experience to restore your fire and smoke damage. We will also treat your family with empathy and respect and your property with care. Should you suffer from fire and/or smoke damage, contact us at (313) 228-5134. SERVPRO of Dearborn Heights North/East Garden City…working to make it “Like it never even happened.”