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Holiday Fire Safety Tips

12/5/2018 (Permalink)

Holiday Fire Safety Tips

The holiday season is one of the most dangerous times of the year for household fires,

Here are some tips from SERVPRO of Piscataway to help your household from being a holiday fire Statistic

Residential fires during the holiday season are more than usual, with people not realizing these few simple precautions. And when those fires occur, they do more damage: Property loss during a holiday fire is 34% greater than in an average fire. When the source of the fire is a highly flammable Christmas tree, the toll in property and lives is even greater.

To keep your household from becoming a holiday fire statistic, here are some safety tips to follow.

Cooking

Cooking is the top cause of holiday fires. The most common is food that is left unattended. It is very easy to get distracted. Make sure to keep a kitchen fire extinguisher that’s rated for all types of fires, and check that smoke detectors are working. 
If you’re planning to deep-fry your holiday turkey, do it outside, on a flat, level surface at least 10 feet from the house.

Candles

The incidence of candle fires is four times higher during December than during other months. According to the National Fire Protection Association, four of the five most dangerous days of the year for residential candle fires are Christmas/Christmas Eve and New Year’s/New Year’s Eve. (The fifth is Halloween.)
To reduce the danger, maintain about a foot of space between the candle and anything that can burn.. Never leave flames unattended. Before bed, walk through each room to make sure candles are blown out. For atmosphere without worry, consider flameless LED candles.

Christmas Trees

It takes less than 30 seconds for a dry tree to engulf a room in flames.
To minimize risk, buy a fresh tree with intact needles, get a fresh cut on the trunk, and water it every day. A well-watered tree is almost impossible to ignite. Keep the tree away from heat sources, such as a fireplace or radiator, and out of traffic patterns. If you’re using live garlands and other greenery, keep them at least three feet away from heating sources.
No matter how well the tree is watered, it will start to dry out after about four weeks, so take it down after the holidays. Artificial trees don’t pose much of a fire hazard; just make sure yours is flame-retardant.

Decorative Lights

Inspect light strings, and throw out any with frayed or cracked wires or broken sockets. When decorating, don’t run more than three strings of lights end to end. “Stacking the plugs is much safer when you’re using a large quantity of lights,” Extension cords should be in good condition and UL-rated for indoor or outdoor use. Check outdoor receptacles to make sure the ground fault interrupters don’t trip.
When hanging lights outside, avoid using nails or staples, which can damage the wiring and increase the risk of a fire. Instead, use UL-rated clips or hangers.

When you are cleaning out the fireplace, put embers in a metal container and set them outside to cool for 24 hours before disposal. 

6 Great Tips to Keep Pipes From Freezing

12/5/2018 (Permalink)

6 Great Tips to Keep Pipes From Freezing

Cold temperatures can cause water pipes to freeze. Freezing in a pipe creates a lot of pressure inside the pipe and can cause the pipe to burst and likely lead to serious flooding, especially when there's no one around to turn off the water. The best prevention against frozen pipes is to keep them warm enough to stay above the freezing point. You can do this with any one of six simple steps or, better still, a combination of measures.

Not Just for Cold Climates

It is a common misconception that frozen pipes are an issue only for homes in typically cold climates. However, the homes that are actually more vulnerable to frozen pipes are those in typically warmer climates because the pipes may not be properly insulated against frigid temperatures, or they may be located in unprotected areas (or even outdoors). Abnormally cold weather puts these pipes at risk.

Wherever you live, you need to worry only about the water supply pipes, not the drain pipes. Water pipes are small, only about 1 inch in diameter or smaller. Drain pipes are 1 1/2 inches and larger and are usually made of plastic. Drain pipes carry waste water, but they do not hold water and are not pressurized like water pipes, so freezing inside drains is not a concern.

Keep the Heat On

If you or your tenants are leaving for a long period of time, make sure that the heat is kept on in your property. It may be difficult to convince your tenants to leave their heat on when they are away, especially if they are responsible for paying their own utility bills. You should inform them that the heat can help prevent pipes from freezing, and if pipe freezes and burst, it can cause a lot of water damage to the property and to their possessions.

The heat does not have to be kept as high as you normally would keep it if you were actually in the property, but keeping it set above 50 F is a good idea. This should provide enough heat to keep the pipes warm and to prevent any water inside from freezing.

Allow the Faucet to Drip

If you are afraid a pipe will freeze, you can open the faucet fed by that pipe just a bit so the faucet drips slightly. Allowing the faucet to be open like this relieves pressure in the system. If a pipe freezes, it is actually the pressure that is created between the blockage and the faucet that will cause the pipe to burst. Allowing the faucet to be open will prevent this pressure from building up and thus keep the pipe from bursting. If the faucet is served by both hot and cold water pipes, open both faucet taps slightly, or set a single-handle faucet (such as a kitchen faucet) to warm.

Keep Interior Doors Open

Pipes are often located in cabinets. When the temperature drops, it is a good idea to keep these cabinet doors open so that the heat from the rest of the house can keep the pipes warm as well. You should also keep all interior doors open so that the heat can flow throughout the home.

Seal up Cracks and Holes

Seal gaps around holes where pipes run through walls or floors, especially where the hole is letting in cold air. Use caulk or spray foam insulation (such as Great Stuff) to fill the gaps. If possible, seal holes on both the interior and exterior side of wall or floor. Cold outdoor air that gets in through holes and gaps can make a cabinet compartment, which is usually pretty cold, even colder.

Apply Heating Tape

Heating tape works like an electric blanket for pipes, supplying heat directly to the pipe to keep it warm curing cold spells. This can be a good solution for short sections of pipe that are at high risk for freezing and are easily accessible so you can install the tape and can monitor it for problems.

There are two types of heating tape. One type turns on and off by itself when it senses heat is needed. The other type must be plugged in when heat is needed and unplugged when not in use; it does not have an automatic or manual on/off switch. Much like a space heater, these products can be dangerous, so you must follow the product’s direction and safety procedures exactly.

Add Extra Insulation

Pipes that are located in areas that do not have proper Insulation such as basements or attics, may need extra insulation to keep from freezing. Pipes in basements or attics are not the only ones that may not be properly insulated from the cold. If you have had a problem with pipes freezing anywhere in your home, extra insulation could be a good answer

Insulation can help keep a pipe closer to the temperature of the water inside the pipe, but it does not add heat to the pipe and will not prevent freezing if the pipe is exposed to prolonged freezing temperatures.

The Lowdown on Damaging Winds | SERVPRO® of Piscataway

11/26/2018 (Permalink)

The Lowdown on Damaging Winds | SERVPRO® of Piscataway

There are many concerns that come with severe storms, and damaging winds are one of them. These winds often happen with minimal warning and can wreak havoc, causing long-term structural impacts.

Breaking Down Damaging Winds

Tornadoes and hurricanes are probably what first comes to mind when thinking about damaging winds; however, those are not the only ones to be concerned about.

Traditionally, damaging winds are those with wind speeds exceeding 50–60 mph and can be the result of a strong thunderstorm. You will commonly hear damaging winds referred to as “straight-line” winds, which differentiates them from the winds stemming from a tornado.

Damage caused by these winds can be especially devastating and destructive, causing loose objects to become projectiles. The windows and the roof can take the brunt of this damage, and if it’s extensive, can cause water damage to the home as well as the outside elements come indoors.

Anyone living in a thunderstorm-prone area can be vulnerable to damaging winds, but there are some structures that are especially at risk. Mobile homes, even while anchored, could be seriously damaged by wind gusts exceeding 80 mph.

How to Protect Your Home

There are many suggestions that will help you protect your property from damaging winds, but keep in mind “reinforce and remove, the “Two R’s” of protecting your property against damaging winds.

  • Make sure to have your garage door professionally reinforced.

  • Remove and/or anchor any loose items on your property that could be moved or tossed around by the wind, such as trash cans, grills and outdoor furniture.

  • If you have a large or dying tree near your home, have a professional remove it and any large branches that could be blown over onto your home or break away and come through the window.

Often, damaging winds do not come when it is convenient or with advanced warning. Being proactive and practicing the above suggestions can prepare you for just those times.

Also, if you are building a new home or renovating an older home, be sure that all windows, walls and doors are compliant with the building code for your area.

If your home has been hit by damaging winds and resulting water damage, the highly trained specialists at SERVPRO® of Piscataway are here to help with the cleanup and restoration of your home.

Are You Watching for These Fire Hazards in Your Home? SERVPRO® of Piscataway

11/12/2018 (Permalink)

Are You Watching for These Fire Hazards in Your Home? | SERVPRO® of Piscataway

In this blog, we’ll be diving into two of the most common household fire hazards. Because no one wants to experience the unfortunate possibility of seeing their home damaged by fire, it’s important to learn and understand how you can protect your home from this harsh reality by understanding fire hazards and knowing how to identify them.

Be Mindful When Burning Candles

Candle usage caused 2 percent of reported home fires, with 3 percent resulting in death and 7 percent with injuries. There were an average of 24 candle-related home fires reported per day during those five years, with December having the highest number of calls during the year for home candle fires.

Of the candle fires during this time span, 37 percent started in bedrooms and were responsible for 36 percent and 51 percent, respectively, of the associated deaths and injuries. According to the National Fire Protection Association, during a five-year period from 2011 to 2015, fire departments in the United States answered calls to an estimated 8,700 home structure fires a year that were started by candle use. These fires were responsible for 82 deaths, 800 injuries and $295 million in direct property damage.

Never use a candle if oxygen is being used in the home. Always blow all candles out before leaving a room or going to sleep. And be sure candles are kept at least one foot away from anything that could burn and in a sturdy holder that won’t easily tip over.

Disaster Can Stem From Indoor Smoking

While cooking is the main cause of home fires, smoking is the main cause of home fire deaths. Approximately 17,200 home structure fires caused by smoking materials, including cigarettes, pipes and cigars, were reported in 2014. Those fires resulted in 570 deaths, 1,140 injuries and $426 million in property damage, per the Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes.

All cigarettes should be doused in water or sand prior to throwing them out—and keep in mind that one out of four fatalities from smoking-material fires is not the actual smoker whose cigarette started the fire.

Dust Bunnies = Fire Hazards

While candles and smoking are two of the most common causes of home structure fires, there are also other lesser-known hazards that could be present in your home.

Were you aware that some kinds of glassware in your home could pose a fire risk? When sunlight passes through the glassware, the concentrated ray may ignite flammable materials. It is best to keep glass accessories away from windows and out of sunlight.

Dust bunnies are also a fire risk if left to collect near electrical sockets and floor heaters. Sweeping or vacuuming your floors regularly and cleaning hard-to-reach areas like behind entertainment centers can help prevent buildup.

Check for loose electrical outlets in your home. The movement of these loose electrical outlets could possibly loosen the wires connected to the outlet and create dangerous arcing and sparking, which could ignite a fire.

Fire and smoke damage can be devastating to homes, and in many circumstances, is accompanied by water damage from the firefighting efforts. If your home is damaged by fire, smoke or water, SERVPRO® of Piscataway is here to help you restore your home to pre-fire condition.

 

Fire Safety Basics For your Family

10/18/2018 (Permalink)

Fire Safety Basics for Your Family | SERVPRO® of Piscataway

Every year in the United States, more than 350,000 house fires occur, adding up to more than $5.5 billion in property damage. These fires also lead to nearly 3,000 deaths and another 10,000 injuries.

Your best defense is to prepare in advance for a fire. That’s why it’s important for every person in your family to know how to prevent fires and understand what needs to be done if a fire occurs.

Start by teaching your kids basic fire safety guidelines at a young age. Also take a look at these three other fire safety precautions you can practice as a family:

Finding Fire Hazards in the Home

If you were to walk through your home looking for fire hazards, you might be surprised at how many you spot! Take some time to check every room as well as your outdoor space to spot and correct these hazards.

  • Appliances should be in good working condition.
  • Check to be sure electrical cords aren’t damaged.
  • Ensure electric outlets and/or extension cords aren’t overloaded.
  • Light fixtures should be used with the correct light bulbs.
  • Electrical wiring should never be covered up by rugs or carpet.
Fire Safety for the Kitchen

Home fires are often caused by cooking. That’s why it’s important to be especially careful in the kitchen.

Anyone who’s cooking needs to follow some basic cooking safety rules:

  • Never cook when distracted or tired.
  • Supervise kids and teens at all times when they are cooking.
  • Keep a lid nearby when cooking on the stove. In the event of a grease fire, smother it with the lid.
  • If the oven catches fire, keep the door closed and turn the oven off.
  • If a kitchen fire occurs and starts to spread, leave the room and close the door.
Design a Fire Safety Plan

Should a fire spark, every person in the family must know how to react and what to do—which includes how to get out of the house and where to go once they’re out.

But don’t just create a plan and not practice that plan.

You’ve heard the saying “practice makes perfect.” Regular practice of your fire plan will make everyone involved more likely to remember the steps if an actual fire occurs.

If your family has experienced a fire and needs help restoring your home, SERVPRO® of Piscataway can help! Give us call to learn about our fire restoration services and what we can do for you.

HVAC Maintenance for Every Home | SERVPRO® of Piscataway Trivia time: Most homeowners don’t know that, according to Energy Star, half of the energy

8/2/2018 (Permalink)

HVAC Maintenance for Every Home/Office | SERVPRO® of Piscataway

Trivia time: Most homeowners don’t know that, according to Energy Star, half of the energy expenses for a home are a result of energy from the heating and cooling system. We all enjoy the comforts of an HVAC system, but there is definitely an investment associated with operating them—thankfully, with some basic maintenance, your investment goes much further.

Because an HVAC system is so important, it’s necessary to do regular maintenance to stop problems before they start.

Below is helpful information about how your HVAC works and how to care for it.

  • As the AC runs, the cooling coils absorb water from the air and drain it away. If the drainage becomes obstructed, contamination and mold growth will build up. Regularly check drain pans and nearby surfaces for moisture accumulation to ensure water damage isn’t happening.
  • For maximum air quality and efficiency, it’s recommended for you to change HVAC filters every 30 to 90 days depending on the quality and type of filter. Other ways to improve heating and cooling include ensuring a snug, secure fit when filters are installed and using the highest efficiency filter your HVAC manufacturer recommends.
  • Simply keeping up with routine dusting and vacuuming in your home can do wonders for your HVAC system. By clearing this debris out, you’re stopping it before it’s able to invade the air flow system and dirty up your vents. Further the benefit by always using the highest efficiency filter for the vacuum, and purchasing one with a HEPA certification if possible.

Tip: If you’re planning to do construction or renovations, always seal off both supply and return registers. Wait to unseal them until all the dust has been removed.

  • Schedule regular maintenance checkups and cleaning. While there are quite a few things homeowners can do to maintain their HVAC system, they should be done in addition to having a professional survey your system two times per year. A professional cleaning can improve air quality and allow your unit to run more efficiently, allowing your family to breathe cleaner air and see a reduction in energy usage.

If you’re interested in how getting your ducts cleaned can help with your HVAC maintenance, contact SERVPRO® of Piscataway today to schedule a consultation!

How to Build an Emergency Kit for the Whole Family

7/20/2018 (Permalink)

Storm Damage How to Build an Emergency Kit for the Whole Family Things needed for a Storm Emergency

How to Build an Emergency Kit for the Whole Family | SERVPRO® of Piscataway

In 2017, there was over $306 billion in damage related to natural disasters. Not being prepared for an emergency situation is a risk, and the number of severe weather and natural disasters makes it an even bigger one.

At SERVPRO®, we understand the importance of being prepared for emergencies. That’s why we’ve assembled tips on how to pack your family’s emergency preparedness kit, to help you stay comfortable and safe until help arrives:

Food and Water: For food and water rations, experts recommend packing a 72-hour supply for each family member. Not sure what to pack? Think of resilient items like granola bars, trail mixes or nearly anything you might find in a store’s camping section. Canned foods and dehydrated dinners are also viable options, but typically require the use of a camping stove or water heater.

Tip: Have pets? The same 72-hour rule applies to their food and water.

Stay Comfortable: When packing the emergency kit, remember that you might be dependent on it for anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Things like blankets, pillows and a change of clothes might not be needed for a short time, but you wouldn’t want to go several days without them. Also, make room for practical items like hand sanitizer and paper towels, to keep the living space sanitary until help arrives.

Tip: Pack small, fun items for the kids—cards, books and puzzles are great for this.

Odds and Ends: Small items are easily forgotten, but can often be the handiest. Always pack first-aid kits, as well as any prescription medication, copies of important documents, and cash or travelers’ checks. Additionally, resourceful tools such as flashlights, headlamps, a Swiss Army Knife and duct tape are useful in a number of scenarios, without taking up too much room.

Tip: Feel like you’ve forgotten something? Take inventory of everything your family uses in a three-day period—chances are, if they use it, you should pack it.

If you need help preparing for or recovering from a disaster, SERVPRO can help. Contact our Piscataway location today 732-752-4445 to get connected with our team of professionals.

 

Commercial Restoration & Cleaning Services

7/20/2018 (Permalink)

When it comes to your commercial property, we mean business. You need a company that can minimize the disruption to your clients while delivering superior results. Whether you need professional cleaning to make your business shine, or emergency water restoration services, SERVPRO of Piscataway has the training and expertise to help make it “Like it never even happened.”

  • Small Office Buildings
  • Large Office/High-Rise Office Buildings
  • Apartment Buildings
  • Restaurants
  • Hotel/Motels
  • Small Retail Stores
  • Large Retail/Big-Box Stores
  • High-Rise Residential
  • Manufacturing & Industrial
  • Government/Military

Commercial Building Cleaning Services

Whether your need is removing an odor problem or deep-cleaning flooring or carpets, you can depend on SERVPRO of Piscataway to get the job done right the first time. We’ll respond promptly and make your work space look its very best. Learn more about our commercial cleaning services.

Commercial Building Restoration Services

SERVPRO of Piscataway is available 24 hours a day to restore your South Plainfield property and get you back to business. We have the expertise, equipment, and highly trained personnel to handle your commercial water, fire, or mold damage. We can also access the resources of our national network of 1,700 Franchises to handle large commercial projects and major storm events. Learn more about our commercial restoration services.

Give us a call we can help

732-752-4445

Here's What You Can Do Before Fire Restoration Help Arrives

7/12/2018 (Permalink)

Here’s What You Can Do Before Fire Restoration Help Arrives | SERVPRO® of Piscataway

While damages from fire can often be mitigated with restoration, learning that you’ve been affected by a home fire is still devastating. When you begin the cleanup process, to ensure the restoration is properly done, don’t cut corners by not hiring a professional.

Working with a professional has several benefits—not only will they work with your homeowner’s insurance company on your behalf, but they will also be able to salvage more items in the cleanup. That being said, it’s understandable to want to begin cleanup right away, while you’re still waiting on help to arrive.

While most things should be left to the professionals, a few tasks can be done while you wait so you can get your life back to normal faster. If you decide you’re ready to start on fire restoration ASAP, here are three things you can safely do:

Laundry

If your washer and dryer have not been affected by the fire, starting laundry right away is a great way to help the cleanup process. By washing clothing, bedding and other machine washable materials with an alkaline cleaner or vinegar solution, you’ll be able to get back to normal more quickly as most things must be washed several times. However, always leave delicate fabrics, upholstery and curtains to professional care.

Increased Ventilation

To reduce the smoky smell, open windows and doors, and keep them open as long as weather allows. While the restoration team will bring industrial-grade equipment to ventilate further, this is a small step you can take toward helping the process along.

Preliminary Cleaning

Tile, countertops and other non-porous substances can benefit from a scrub with soap and water to cut through the initial layer of grime. Use a mild dish soap or alkaline cleaner to get a preliminary scrub taken care of. Cleaning improperly can result in more severe and possibly permanent damage to your surfaces, so leave anything you’re unsure about to the pros.

If you’ve had damage due to a home fire, SERVPRO® has a team of trained professionals that can help your life get back to normal, faster.

 

Water Damage and the Types Of Pollution It Causes

7/12/2018 (Permalink)

Water Damage and the Types of Pollution It Causes | SERVPRO® of Piscataway

If you’re familiar with water damage, you’re likely familiar with terms like “black water” and “clear water” to describe the water pollutant levels left behind. Though the implication is that clear water is less hazardous than black water, the reality is that there are three types and they can all cause their own kinds of damage to your home or office.

Because we know the devastation that comes along with water damage, we’ve outlined the three types of water contamination you might come across and what these terms mean.

Classifications of Water Damage

Category 1: The first classification, “clear water,” refers to water that has originated from a clear source and is free from contaminants. Water from broken inbound pipes, water supply lines, leaky faucets or direct rainwater would fall into this category. It is not recommended, but category 1 water should not be harmful if consumed.

Category 2: Grey water, the next category, is a bit more serious. This refers to wastewater generated from appliances, drain overflows or other types of typical household flooding. Because this water has come into contact with many surfaces, category 2 water is contaminated and will cause illness if consumed.

Category 3: The most notorious of the categories, category 3 water is commonly known as black water. Sewage overflows, rising flood waters or water that has remained stagnant and has begun breeding bacteria are all cause for concern and can cause illness or death if consumed.

Categories Do Change

The nuances of water damage can become even more complicated after the initial flooding because water that starts as one category can easily advance to another. Water that develops higher pollution levels from coming into contact with surfaces or breeding bacteria can become even more dangerous as time goes on.

Because this is impossible to determine from appearance alone, professional cleanup is essential to obtaining peace of mind and a properly restored property.

If you’ve suffered from water damage in your home or office, SERVPRO®’s team of water restoration professionals is here to help!