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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Archived Blog Posts

Sump pump maintenance

2/1/2019 (Permalink)

General Sump pump maintenance sump pump

Sump Pump Maintenance

Most sump pumps are equipped with water level or flood alarms, usually battery powered, that alert you if the pump isn't working properly and water is backing up. More sophisticated systems can notify your alarm company or call your cell phone if the water starts to rise. Fortunately, this shouldn't happen often! Sump pumps on the whole are quite reliable. But as with any other important piece of equipment, regular maintenance is always a good idea. Spend a few minutes every few months, when heavy rains are forecast and in early spring to ensure reliable sump pump operation. Basic sump pump maintenance is usually as simple as doing these few jobs.

  • Make sure the pump is plugged in to a working ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet and the cord is in good shape. In damp areas, GFCI ­breakers may trip, effectively shutting off the sump pump. Check in on your sump pump periodically so you can reset the GFCI if necessary.
  • Ensure the pump itself is standing upright. Vibrations during operation can cause it to fall or tilt onto one side. This can jam the float arm so it won’t be able to activate the pump.
  • Periodically dump a bucket of water into the pit to make sure the pump starts automatically and the water drains quickly once the pump is on. If the pump doesn't start, have it serviced.
  • Physically remove a submersible pump from the pit and clean the grate on the bottom. The sucking action of the pump can pull small stones into the grate, blocking the inlet or damaging the pump over time.
  • Ensure the outlet pipes are tightly joined together and draining out at least 20 feet (6 meters) away from your foundation.
  • Make sure the vent hole in the discharge pipe is clear.

Another important point is the sump pumps power supply. The fact that sump pumps rely on electricity to operate does make them vulnerable in the event of a power outage. Fortunately, there are backup options available. Sump pumps with backup battery power are also commonly available. 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, ensuring the battery is fully charged in the event of a power outage. Alternatively, a trickle charger used for car batteries is also an option.

If all else fails, you can turn to a hand-operated bilge pump or a bucket brigade to move water out of the pit during a power outage.

Winter Storm Safety

12/6/2018 (Permalink)


  • Stay indoors and wear warm clothes. Layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing will keep you warmer than a bulky sweater. If you feel too warm, remove layers to avoid sweating; if you feel chilled, add layers.
  • Listen to a local station on battery-powered radio or television or to NOAA Weather Radio for updated emergency information.
  • Bring your companion animals inside before the storm begins.
  • Move other animals to sheltered areas with a supply of non-frozen water. Most animal deaths in winter storms are caused by dehydration.
  • Eat regularly. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat.
  • Keep the body replenished with fluids to prevent dehydration. Drink liquids such as warm broth or juice. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine, a stimulant, accelerates the symptoms of hypothermia. Alcohol, such as brandy, is a depressant and hastens the effects of cold on the body. Alcohol also slows circulation and can make you less aware of the effects of cold. Both caffeine and alcohol can cause dehydration.
  • Conserve fuel. Winter storms can last for several days, placing great demand on electric, gas, and other fuel distribution systems (fuel oil, propane, etc.). Lower the thermostat to 65° F (18° C) during the day and to 55° F (13° C) at night. Close off unused rooms, and stuff towels or rags in cracks under the doors. Cover the windows at night.
  • Check on relatives, neighbors, and friends, particularly if they are elderly or if they live alone.

water alarms

12/5/2018 (Permalink)

Water alarms can be very helpful and can save you money! Water alarms are made to detect water leaks, overflowing or broken sump pumps, or an overflowing toiler. That could come in really handy, especially if you’ve spent a small fortune finishing your basement. Even if you haven’t, a water alarm can help you avoid some costly issues, which can include anything from property damage to mold and mildew.

Ideal Locations to Install Water Alarms:

HVAC unit - There are condensation pumps, usually located at the foot of the unit, these pumps clog easily and often leak unnoticed  

Near a Washing Machine – A busted hose can do incredible amounts of damage in short amount of time.

Bathrooms & Kitchens – It could be a leaky pipe or someone simply forgetting to turn off a faucet. Either way, you’re prepared.

            Other locations include under cabinets, in basement corners or near your water heater. Think about your home and all of the places where a water alarm can stand guard against water damage. When choosing your water alarm, you will have several options from a simply battery-powered alarm. These simple alarms can be found at Home Depot or Lowes for under $15.00.

Dryer Vent Fire

12/3/2018 (Permalink)


Dryer vent cleaning is a chore that most homeowners often forget. Dryers are a luxury that many homeowners have the delight of possessing. From a consumer report taken in 2009, about 80% of all households within the United States have a gas or electric clothes dryer. Specifically, 73% of households own an electric dryer, while approximately 20% own a gas-powered counterpart. Despite this amenity, there is a risk to consider when owning one of these machines. Fires can likely occur, in many cases due to both the improper care of dryer venting and the lint trap.

Longer Drying Times

If a dryer vent is clogged, a typical drying cycle could take twice as long as normal. In addition, clothing may appear to be damp or not properly dried. Dryers push the hot air out of the system through the vent. The vent could be blocked by lint particles, keeping the air inside the dryer moist and warm.

Dryer is Extremely Hot

Do you notice that your clothing is very hot at the end of a cycle or the dryer is hot to touch? This warning sign means the vent is not exhausting properly. If your system is clogged, it not only wastes energy but also can cause the heating element and blower in the dryer to wear out faster.

Burnt Odors

Your dryer may emit occasional burning odors due to the buildup of dryer lint. Lint can build up in the exhaust tube connect to the dryer unit. Lint is highly flammable and can combust due to the high temperatures and heat within the unit. To remedy this, make sure to empty the lint trap often.

So, where are the tips to prevent these dangers from happening and benefitting you? Below are benefits to keeping your dryer vent clean.

Increase the Life of Your Clothing

When the vents of your dryer are clogged, this creates more heat. What happens is that your clothes get more heat than they should be getting and end up damaged. The fibers of fabric tend to break apart due to an increase in heat during the regular drying process. Dryers that are clogged require a longer time for drying and cause damage to fibers in the extremely hot environment. To ensure proper working conditions and preserved clothing, get your dryer vents cleaned by professionals.

Save Energy and Money

When the vent line of your dryer is clogged, the running time will have a tendency to increase. The accumulation of line or other vent line blockages will cause inefficient dryer operation and a restriction in vent lines. This might even cause your machine to go to a complete stop for no apparent reason. You may not even notice what is happening. To avoid this, consider cleaning your vents every couple of months. You end up saving money since you won’t have to pay for all the extra run time costs month after month. Plus, you get the job done in half the time.

If you clean your vent on a regular basis, you can extend the lifespan of your dryer. Clogged vents indicate a less than perfect performing dryer. If you were to clean this, you can save money on your energy bills. In some instances, an unclean vent can increase your energy bills by as much as thirty dollars a month. If properly cleaned, you could save money on HVAC repairs and your monthly bills

Protein Fire

11/26/2018 (Permalink)

Protein Fire

You had dinner cooking and the phone rang, then you had visitors knocking on your door and lost track of time. An hour or two later you realize your long-awaited meal is now a charred clump of chicken or roast with a pot of burnt beans – with a distinct, overwhelming rancid smell. What you have actually created is what the Restoration Industry refers to as a Protein Fire .Smoke damage resulting from the extreme burn of a protein enriched fiber.

At first glance, protein fires do not appear to cause any damage to your home and contents. But in fact, the aftermath of a protein fire is an invisible and often sticky, foul smelling residue that coats the many surfaces throughout your home.

Restoration after this kind of fire requires special products and experience.

When you experience this kind of damage, DO:

  • Limit movement in the home to prevent residue from being embedded into your upholstery and carpeting.
  • Keep your hands clean. Residue on hands can soil upholstery, woodwork and walls.
  • Place old linens on rugs, upholstery and areas where there is traffic..
  • Contact your insurance company to make a claim.


  • Attempt to clean anything. Household cleaners applied to the surfaces will not clean away the residue.
  • Use any canned or packaged food or beverages that may have been stored close to fire, as they may be contaminated.
  • Attempt to launder your clothing,  clothing from a protein fire require specialized cleaning.
  • Wait to call our office for professional help!

Mold in my basement

11/23/2018 (Permalink)

Several times a week during this humid rainy summer we get called to inspect a basement with apparent mold growth primarily on furniture, clothing, and some of the drywall or paneling. With no apparent water damage, homeowners are stumped as to why they have mold. Here are some common factors in these outbreaks:

  1. Homeowners don’t go down to the basement much anymore.
  2. Humidity control by dehumidifier or central air conditioning is absent.
  3. If air conditioning is available, many times the vents are closed.
  4. Very little direct light and little or no air-flow.

 So if you have a basement that does have air conditioning, make sure you leave the vents open during the summer heat and humidity – even if you don’t use the space often.

If you don’t have AC, put dehumidifiers in the space and use the manufacturer’s recommendations as to how much space the unit will handle. You may need more than one. Also, it’s a good idea to keep a fan running to circulate the air.

Sharon Miller Memorial: Swing Against ALS Golf Outing

9/16/2016 (Permalink)

ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Every day an average of 15 people are newly diagnosed with ALS. It is responsible for 2 deaths per 100,000 people.

On August 5th, 2016 SERVPRO of Carroll County was honored to sponsor and participate in the 6th annual Swing Against ALS Golf Outing on behalf of the Sharon Miller Memorial. This event is near and dear to the heart of one of our employees. It was a beautiful day and went off without a hitch.

For more information visit: www.alsa.org

Carroll County Emergency Preparedness Expo

9/15/2016 (Permalink)

Community Carroll County Emergency Preparedness Expo The Expo Flyer

Come out the annual Carroll County Emergency Preparedness Expo. This is a wonderful event where families can become more familiar with several aspects of emergency readiness, response and recovery teams. There will be live demonstrations, information booths, give-aways, and even prizes. SERVPRO of Carroll County will have their own booth right next to the MSFA Side by Side Burn Demonstration Trailer. Stop by anytime between 10 am - 2pm on September 24, 2016. We would love to see you!