Recent Fire Damage Posts

University City Smoke and Soot Cleanup

5/19/2021 (Permalink)

Smoke and soot are very invasive and can penetrate various cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. Our smoke damage expertise and experience allow 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.

Different Types of Smoke

There are two different types of smoke–wet and dry. As a result, there are different types of soot residue after a fire. Before restoration begins, SERVPRO of University 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. Here is some additional information:

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

  • Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor. 

Our Fire Damage Restoration Services

Since each smoke and fire damage situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored for 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.

Fire Damage Awareness

5/19/2021 (Permalink)

Fire can cause more damage than meets the eye. Of course, the fire itself causes much of the damage to a home or business. Did you know that smoke can cause just as much damage too? Smoke and soot can permeate through walls, ceilings, upholstery, and air conditioning vents. Many of these spots are very hard to clean when not properly educated on the issues associated with fire damage.

Not only is there visible damage to the structure, but also damage that can be unnoticed. Structural damage can occur to support beams, weight-bearing walls, and studs, etc. and these are places that you would not check unless you know how to properly restore a structure after this type of loss.

SERVPRO uses our advanced cleanup methods and detection tools to check from closet to closet, room to room, and floor to ceiling, to detect all fire and post-fire damages. We know where to check to make sure your HVAC system will not spread smoke and toxins after a fire. We will make sure that your insulation is intact and that the structure of your home is safe. If we detect any need for replacement and restoration, we provide a range of services, including building services, that can take care of any fire and water damage and debris.

Because secondary fire damage, such as water use from firefighting efforts can also be an issue, our specialists pay much attention to a full, detailed analysis of your home’s damage before making a plan of action and beginning cleanup and restoration.
 
Contamination is not always seen by the untrained eye. It can be hidden in places such as your HVAC (air conditioning and heating) systems. SERVPRO inspects the home from attic to basement, to ensure that all vents and air circulating systems are completely clean. If you were to neglect this part of fire damage cleanup, there is always the possibility of blowing toxic dust, ash, and soot, even on the microscopic level, into your cleaned home, effectively re-contaminating it and exposing residents to its dangers.

Our 24/7 Emergency Service line is at your disposal. Contact SERVPRO of University City anytime at (215) 877-2113 for a quick response to your fire emergency, or to ask questions.

Recognizing The 3 Different Types of Fires

5/17/2021 (Permalink)

Synthetic: A synthetic fire is caused by the burning of oil substances. These materials include plastics and fabrics. Some examples of these materials include furniture, draperies, electronics, and carpet fibers. When these products are burned a thick-black smoke often appears. If a synthetic fire takes place in your home the best cleaning method would be to first vacuum the surface. Finish up the cleaning process with a dry-chem sponge.

Protein: A protein fire can be caused by the burning of meat products. These fires will often leave behind a yellowish-brown residue. Cleaning these fires can be very difficult due to their greasy nature. It is best that you use the proper cleaning chemical when dealing with these smoke residues.

Natural: A natural fire is caused by the burning of a wood or paper substance. These fires produce greyish-black smoke and are one of the easiest fires to clean. When cleaning these fires use a vacuum that has a bristled brush followed up by the use of a dry-chem sponge.

Now that you are aware of the different types of fires you may encounter and how to distinguish them. You will be able to apply the proper cleaning procedures stated above.

Sleeping With Your Bedroom Door Closed Could Save Your Life

5/17/2021 (Permalink)

Research has shown that a closed bedroom door can slow the spread of flames, decrease temperatures, reduce smoke inhalation, and improve oxygen levels in the room.

Just a few decades ago the average time it took to escape a home fire was about 17 minutes. Now it is three minutes or less. This is because of the synthetic furniture, more open floor plans in homes, and other flammable materials. Just closing your bedroom door at night can give you more time to get out the bedroom windows safely and call the fire department.

Research proves that a closed-door during a fire can mean the difference between 1,000 degrees temperatures and 100 degrees temperatures. Keep your bedroom door closed to keep the extra heat out!

During a fire, a closed door can also keep carbon monoxide levels at 1,000 PPM versus 10,000 PPM when a door is left open.

Close Before You Doze.

Smoke Odor Factors

5/14/2021 (Permalink)

Fires can cause extensive damage throughout your home or property which requires the help of professionals to restore. Items can be burnt, soot-covered, or damaged by water from firefighting efforts. The smell of soot and smoke can linger for a long time after a fire.

FACTORS THAT AFFECT SMOKE ODOR REMOVAL

Removing smoke odors from your home or place of business can seem pretty straightforward. However, the amount of time needed to remove the smoke odor will depend on a variety of factors. These include:

  • Types of materials burned: Materials throughout your home react differently to soot and smoke molecules. Porous hard surfaces such as wallpaper, wood, drywall, and paint can become permanently stained or discolored unless treated quickly. Metallic surfaces may begin to rust and corrode with acidic soot. Cleaning chemicals may seep into your carpet as it dries, carrying with it soot and smoke molecules that can cause stains.
  • Type of soot: Dry soot is easier to clean and can be dealt with by using a sponge and a low-alkaline detergent. Oily soot requires the use of special techniques and equipment to be safely removed from your home. SERVPRO has a host of products for every time of soot imaginable.
  • Size of the fire-damaged area: The square footage of a fire loss area usually determines how hard it will be to get clean.
  • Size of the fire: A larger fire can cause more damage, which will in turn lead to more potential for smoke odor throughout your property.
  • Time delay after fire: The longer you wait, the worse the smoke damage will get. Even if the damage seems minimal, most types of materials at home can start to yellow, discolor, rust, or corrode due to the impact of acidic soot or smoke particles. 

Smoke from a fire infiltrates all areas of a home. It can seep into carpeting, furniture, clothing, draperies, books, and even woodwork. Often homeowners attempt to dissipate smoke smell with spray deodorizers and scented candles. These tactics only mask the odor of smoke and won't remove it from the home. Smoke particles bury themselves into fabrics, fibers, and other porous surfaces. In order to remove the smoke smell completely, items need to be deeply cleaned.

CLEANING UP SMOKE DAMAGED ITEMS

Essentially everything in a home affected by fire smoke needs to be cleaned. Some items may only require thorough airing to remove the smoke smell, but most items like carpeting, rugs, curtains, upholstery, and clothing will need a thorough cleaning and possible sanitization.

SERVPRO of University City has access to several proprietary deodorizers and cleaning products that help make fire damage and smoke odor "Like it never even happened."

Top 4 Causes of House Fires

5/13/2021 (Permalink)

Fire. It’s one of the scariest dangers for any homeowner, and while the number of house fires in the United States has steadily declined in recent years, these incidents still contribute to thousands of deaths and billions of dollars of damage each year.

While a fire alarm system can alert your family to danger and help you stop the problem before it gets out of hand, understanding what causes a house fire and knowing how to prevent these incidents is essential for protecting your home.

But what are the dangers you should be watching out for and what are the most common causes of house fires? Knowing these answers can help you protect your family and also save you from an insurance headache in the future. Below are the four most common causes of house fires and tips on ways you can help prevent them.

  1. Electrical Fires

Electrical fires are one of the most common threats homeowners face. Whether the result of an overloaded electrical outlet or a malfunctioning appliance, electrical fires can start suddenly and cause a lot of damage. The best tips for avoiding an electrical fire are first, be smart with your home’s electricity use! It's best not to overload a circuit or leave your lights on overnight (especially halogen lights and other high-risk materials). Use power strips in areas where you might need to keep several appliances or devices plugged in continually like at a home office desk.

Another great tip for doubling the safety in your home is to conduct an annual inspection of the electrical system to help avoid house fires. Professional electricians can identify faulty wiring, damaged outlets, and other hazards and then provide the repairs to keep your system safe. In older homes, the wiring can often be on a single circuit, which can cause breakers to short often and heighten the risk of an electrical fire. A professional can check your property for this and fix it if needed.

  1. Cooking Fires

Cooking fires rank as the number one cause of house fires in the United States, with the majority of incidents occurring when food is left unattended after cooking. Most commonly this happens when frying food, or any time when large quantities of grease are involved. Most of us are aware of proper kitchen and cooking safety, but sometimes we can be forgetful.

Your best bet to avoid a cooking fire is simply to keep an eye on your food at all times. Just like when you’re driving, don’t take your eyes off the road—well, the stove in this case. If a fire does occur, your key to fire safety is to cut off the fire’s oxygen and fuel supplies. There are three things that cause a fire to continue one is the heat, the second is fuel, and the third thing is the oxidizing agent (most often oxygen). Get rid of one of these sides of the triangle and you can kill the fire. The best tip to stopping a kitchen fire, or another fire on your property is to suffocate it by removing the oxidizing agent. Grease fires in kitchens should be covered with a lid over the pan, never use water to get rid of a grease fire-throwing water on a grease fire will actually make it worse. An oven fire can be handled simply by closing the oven door and turning the oven off.

Be smart and train others who live in your home or on your property to know how to respond the second a flame gets started. Taking the time to train and teach your family members is one of the best ways to avoid an insurance claim and protect your property, home and family.

  1. Dryers

You may not think of your clothes dryer as a fire hazard, but this kind of equipment accounts for tens of thousands of house fires each year. The problem most frequently occurs when lint and dust are allowed to build up over time. This can cause the dryer vent to become clogged with highly flammable materials, which easily combust when exposed to high temperatures.

Your best tip for dryer safety is to clean the lint trap each time before you use the dryer and to inspect and clean the dryer vent area to remove lint buildup and other potential blockages. Regular cleaning can ultimately make all the difference in avoiding a house fire. If other people in your house do the laundry, make sure they know to clean out the lint trap each time also. This simple practice can cut down on one of the main causes of so many different house fires.

  1. Candles

Candles may seem like the perfect fit for a romantic evening or a blessing in a moment of a blackout, but the minute you leave a lit candle in an unoccupied room you’re asking for trouble. We have two tips: always blow out a candle if you’re going to leave a room, and never place a lit candle in a spot near combustible items or where it could be tipped over.

Conclusion

It’s easy to assume you’re already practicing each of these safety tips in your home, but it’s easy to get lackadaisical and before long you might find yourself filing an insurance claim; something you never want to have to do. Take the time to sit down with your family and walk them through the risks and each of these tips. Teach them the proper steps to prevent a house fire and also the proper way to put out a fire in the home (remember, water isn’t always the answer). As you watch out for these common house fire hazards and take the necessary preventative steps, you can have peace of mind as you keep your family and property safe.

Top 3 Causes of Fires and Tips to Prevent Them

5/12/2021 (Permalink)

In this blog, we will discuss the top three causes of fires according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). We will also discuss standard tips to mitigate loss. Hopefully, this article will leave you with an understanding of how to avoid these common causes of fires. 

1) Unattended Cooking

The number one cause of home fires is unattended cooking. This usually happens when people get distracted while cooking. It is important to never walk away from food on the stove. An easy way to avoid this is to set an alarm if you have to step away for a short amount of time. Another suggestion may be to have someone watch the food while you attend to other matters.

Fire extinguishers should be placed in every room of your home, especially in the kitchen and garage. You should also learn how to properly use a fire extinguisher to be prepared in case you have to use one.

2) Heating Equipment

Space heaters should be used if only a small portion of your home needs to be heated. Keep space heaters away from anything that could easily catch fire, including laundry, blankets, tapestry, and furniture. If your home relies on a furnace during the winter, call a professional to get it inspected once a year to ensure it is running properly.

3) Faulty Wiring

Your home’s wiring is likely something that rarely crosses your mind.  Luckily, there are usually signs that point to a house having wiring that isn’t working correctly. A few noticeable signs are when your lights dim when you use other appliances if you are only able to use one appliance at a time and frequently have blown fuses.

Your first line of defense against home fires is a smoke alarm.  Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home and inside each bedroom, as well as tested monthly. This can help ensure that your family gets out in time in case a fire starts in your home.

If a fire strikes, you know you can count on SERVPRO of University City to restore your home and make it "Like it never even happened."

The Do's & Don't after a fire happens

5/20/2020 (Permalink)

After a fire coming back to the house or building where it happened can be a very emotional experience. Here are some tips for what to do and what not to do in your house after a fire.

What To Do After a Fire:

  • Keep hands clean so as to not furth soil upholstery, walls, or woodwork.
  • Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into upholstery and carpets.
  • Place clean towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery, and carpet traffic areas
  • If electricity is off, empty the freezer and refrigerator and prop doors open
  • Wash houseplants on both sides of leaves.
  • Change the HVAC filter.

What NOT To Do After a Fire:

  • Do not attempt to clean any electrical appliances that may have been close to fire, heat, or water without consulting an authorized repair service.
  • Don’t attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces or shampoo carpet or upholstery without contacting your local SERVPRO.
  • Do not use canned or packaged foods or beverages that may have been stored near the fire, heat, or water.
  • Do not turn on ceiling fixtures if the ceiling is wet. The wiring may be damaged.
  • Do not send garments to an ordinary dry cleaner. Improper cleaning may set a smoke odor.

Content by: SERVPRO Corporate

The Dangers of Fire Damage

5/20/2020 (Permalink)

The dangers of fire damage can last much longer than the initial fire blaze. Two of the most toxic types of damage are the fire itself and the resulting smoke damage. Smoke and soot can damage a home by permeating through the walls, upholstery, ceiling, insulation, air conditioning vents, and other hard to clean places.
 
This is why it is important to understand that fire damage in homes can present itself in many ways. Depending on the type of fire that attacks your home, not only are the apparent soot, ash, and fire damage unsightly, but possible structure damage and future contamination are possible.
 
Never Have Your Fire Damage Overlooked Again
For example, depending on where a fire burns in a structure, it can affect support beams, load-bearing walls, and it can wreak havoc on wiring and insulation. Even if your fire emergency seemed localized to a particular area in the house, remember, the attic must be checked for damage as well.
 
SERVPRO uses our advanced cleanup methods and detection tools to check from closet to closet, room to room, and floor to ceiling, to detect all fire and post-fire damages. We know where to check to make sure your HVAC system will not spread smoke and toxins after a fire. We will make sure that your insulation is intact and that the structure of your home is safe. If we detect any need for replacement and restoration, we provide a range of services, including building services, that can take care of any fire and water damage and debris.
 
Because secondary fire damage, such as water use from firefighting efforts can also be an issue, our specialists pay much attention to a full, detailed analysis of your home’s damage before making a plan of action and beginning cleanup and restoration.
 
Contamination is not always seen by the untrained eye. It can be hidden in places such as your HVAC (air conditioning and heating) systems. SERVPRO inspects the home from attic to basement, to ensure that all vents and air circulating systems are completely clean. If you were to neglect this part of fire damage cleanup, there is always the possibility of blowing toxic dust, ash, and soot, even on the microscopic level, into your cleaned home, effectively re-contaminating it and exposing residents to its dangers.

Our 24/7 Emergency Service line is at your disposal. Contact SERVPRO of University City anytime at (215) 877-6653 for quick response to your fire emergency, or to ask questions.

IICRC And Fire Damage

5/18/2020 (Permalink)

The IICRC explains why Fire Restoration is important after experiencing a fire in your home or business. When a home or business owner prolongs the restoration of their home or business after a fire, they extend the effects brought on by the smoke and soot exposure. Professional restoration technicians know that damage increases and restoration costs escalate the longer neutralization, corrosion control, and cleaning are delayed. The following is a timeline provided by the IICRC of the effects of fire and smoke on a home.

Within Minutes: Acid soot residues cause plastics to yellow and can cause small appliances located close to the source to discolor in addition highly porous materials like marble may discolor permanently.

Within Hours: Acid residues stain grout in bathrooms while fiberglass bath fixtures may yellow and uncoated metals tarnish, countertops may yellow and finishes on appliances, particularly refrigerators, may yellow in addition furniture finishes may discolor.

Within Days: acid residues may cause painted walls to yellow permanently and metal can corrode pit and rust; wood furniture may require refinishing while vinyl flooring may require replacement; clothing can become soot-stained and upholstery stains may be stained permanently.

Within Weeks: Restoration costs escalate quickly. Synthetic carpet fibers may yellow or discolor permanently while silverplate can be corroded permanently in addition to glass, crystal, and china may require replacement due to severe etching caused by prolonged exposure to acid soot residues.

Cleaning up soot residue must be done as quickly as possible. The IICRC explains that during combustion, soot residue and volatile vapors are carried by rising and expanding air to surfaces throughout a structure, and are then deposited onto structural surfaces in the home or business. This process occurs repeatedly until combustion ends, during which soot residue continues building up on surfaces layer by layer. This can make the soot very difficult to remove once restoration technicians arrive onsite.

Fire Damage Often Leads to Water Damage Cleanup!

5/18/2020 (Permalink)

Being prepared in case of a fire is key for the safety of everyone onsite as well as keeping damage to a minimum. After following proper fire protocols, the next step is fire cleanup. Along with that, water cleanup will likely be part of the process.

Extinguishing the Flames Leaves Water Behind

Although smoke cleanup and rummaging through burnt items is to be expected after a fire, many may forget the massive amounts of water required to extinguish the flames. Depending on the extent of the fire, it could result in more water clean up than expected. The main water damage concerns include:

Wood Damage – Floors, furniture, and other items made from wood quickly soak up water. As it retains the water, buckling and other damage can take root. Items severely damaged will likely need to be replaced.

Ceilings – Along with inspecting for any fire damage to the structure of the building, ceilings with water damage will need to be repaired immediately.

Drywall – The walls of a building often take the brunt of both fire and water issues. If they made it unscathed from the flames, there could still be hidden water issues. Any areas affected will need to be replaced to avoid further deterioration and mold growth.

Electrical – Water can find its way into electrical equipment and outlets without being detected. A close inspection of all electrical components should be conducted.

Count On Professional Help

Lingering water left unattended can cause big problems long after the fire has taken place. A water damage specialist has the expertise to properly dry, clean, and restore your business back to new. Along with repairing physical issues, they can also help with the restoration of items such as documents, furniture, paintings, and more.
While you might not be expecting water cleanup after a fire, it’s important to make sure water damage doesn’t go unchecked. Getting the right help can help get your business back to normal.

Causes of Dryer Fires

5/15/2020 (Permalink)

According to the US Fire Administration, nearly 2,900 residential fires are caused by dryers, and 34% of those fires are likely caused by a lint fire, meaning a failure to maintain or clean the appliance. Therefore, dryer fires can be prevented, and the best way to ensure your safety from these appliance disasters is to follow the three keys of ownership.

Proper installation
Routine cleaning
Inspection and maintenance


A dryer fire can occur because of poor installation. A professional installer will ensure that all electrical components are correctly connected and that all plugs and outlets are compatible. Also, while using a third party installer is wise, you should also make sure you read all the manufacturer's warnings and instructions before use.


If you fail to clean your dryer regularly, then you are putting yourself and your family at risk of a lint fire. To prevent such an issue, you need to not only clear the lint filter but ensure that lint is removed from any other likely areas. For example, you can develop a lint buildup in the back of the dryer at the exhaust connection. Also, lint can buildup in the vent pipe. For any difficult cleaning call on a professional.


Inspection and Maintenance


Most remediation companies and other appliance repair professionals in St Michael, MN recommend performing routine checks on dryers, typically every three to six months. These inspections should cover the cleaning, testing, and possibly replacing integral components.


If you are in the market for a new dryer or are concerned about the possibility of a dryer or lint fire, then follow the advice above. Dryer fires are often preventable fires. Therefore, ensure that they are correctly installed, cleaned regularly, and inspected every three to six months. Your home does not have to become a part of the statistics. Be an educated appliance owner.

Fire Damage Awareness

5/15/2020 (Permalink)

Fire can cause more damage than meets the eye. Of course, the fire itself causes much of the damage to a home or business. Did you know that smoke can cause just as much damage too? Smoke and soot can permeate through walls, ceilings, upholstery, and air conditioning vents. Many of these spots are very hard to clean when not properly educated on the issues associated with fire damage.

Not only is there visible damage to the structure, but also damage that can be unnoticed. Structural damage can occur to support beams, weight-bearing walls, and studs, etc. and these are places that you would not check unless you know how to properly restore a structure after this type of loss.

SERVPRO uses our advanced cleanup methods and detection tools to check from closet to closet, room to room, and floor to ceiling, to detect all fire and post-fire damages. We know where to check to make sure your HVAC system will not spread smoke and toxins after a fire. We will make sure that your insulation is intact and that the structure of your home is safe. If we detect any need for replacement and restoration, we provide a range of services, including building services, that can take care of any fire and water damage and debris.

Because secondary fire damage, such as water use from firefighting efforts can also be an issue, our specialists pay much attention to a full, detailed analysis of your home’s damage before making a plan of action and beginning cleanup and restoration.
 
Contamination is not always seen by the untrained eye. It can be hidden in places such as your HVAC (air conditioning and heating) systems. SERVPRO inspects the home from attic to basement, to ensure that all vents and air circulating systems are completely clean. If you were to neglect this part of fire damage cleanup, there is always the possibility of blowing toxic dust, ash, and soot, even on the microscopic level, into your cleaned home, effectively re-contaminating it and exposing residents to its dangers.

Our 24/7 Emergency Service line is at your disposal. Contact SERVPRO of University City anytime at (215) 877-6653 for quick response to your fire emergency, or to ask questions.