Recent Fire Damage Posts
Our Ozone Generator
Ozone is one of the chemicals that SERVPRO of Carroll County uses to neutralize odors. It is made of three oxygen atoms, which is not a very stable configuration. This makes it reactive, because it wants to convert into oxygen molecules, which are made out of two Oxygen atoms and are much more stable. Ozone works to neutralize odor molecules by reacting with them to create oxygen atoms and other less foul smelling molecules.
We use Ozone generators after many fire damages to neutralize odors in homes, businesses and in our warehouse on personal property. It is a extremely effective process and works on most odors and materials, even on nicotine. Our SERVPRO technicians are trained to determine which deodorization method is best for each project. One of the many benefits to Ozone is that because it causes a chemical reaction, the odor will not return as long as everything has been thoroughly cleaned.
One of the drawbacks is that care must be taken not to expose elastic and certain rubbers to ozone because it can react with them and break them down, so no vehicles. The Ozone generator creates Ozone by removing Oxygen from the environment, which makes it impossible to breathe while it is running. We only use Ozone when structures are unoccupied to avoid problems with this. Once the generator is turned off, the environment will refill with Oxygen as the Ozone reacts with odor molecules making the space safe to inhabit again. Our technicians weigh the pros and cons of each deodorization method to determine which method or combination of methods is most appropriate for each project.
In 2018, the most recent year statistics are available, 1,319,500 fires were reported in the United States. These blazes caused 3,430 deaths and 14,670 civilian injuries while costing more than $23.6 billion in damage! Though some fires are unavoidable acts of nature or unpredictable accidents, many fires in the home and workplace are avoidable. The following tips, courtesy of the National Fire Protection Association, can help reduce the likelihood of a fire in your business or home.
1 Watch your cooking - Stay in the kitchen if you are frying, grilling or broiling food. Never allow young children around the stove or oven, especially if they are not closely attended.
2 Give space heaters space - Keep space heaters at least three feet from anything that can burn.
3 Smoke outside - If you must smoke inside, have a sturdy, deep ashtray. Never smoke in bed.
4 Keep matches and lighters out of reach - Keep matches and lighters in high cabinets, preferably under a child lock.
5 Inspect electrical cords - Replace cords that are cracked, damaged, have broken plugs or have loose connections.
6 Be careful when using candles - Keep candles at least one foot from anything that can burn. Blow them out before you leave the room or go to sleep.
7 Have a fire escape plan - Make a fire escape plan and practice it at least twice a year.
8 Install smoke alarms - Install alarms on every level of your office or home and inside bedrooms. Interconnect them so they all sound at once.
9 Test smoke alarms - Test alarms once per month. Replace batteries once per year or as needed.
10 Install sprinklers - Sprinklers can help maintain and sometimes even extinguish fires, giving your local fire department a better chance of saving your property.
How to put out a kitchen fire
When a fire starts in the kitchen, you need to act fast to keep the fire from getting out of control. But how you act depends on what kind of fire you have and where it is. Follow these instructions for putting out kitchen fires:
If you have a fire in the oven or the microwave, close the door or keep it closed, and turn off the oven. Don’t open the door! The lack of oxygen will suffocate the flames.If your oven continues to smoke like a fire is still going on in there, call the fire department.If you have a fire in a cooking pan, use an oven mitt to clap on the lid, then move the pan off the burner, and turn off the stove. The lack of oxygen will stop the flames in a pot.
If you can’t safely put the lid on a flaming pan or you don’t have a lid for the pan, use your fire extinguisher. Aim at the base of the fire — not the flames.Never use water to put out grease fires! Water repels grease and can spread the fire by splattering the grease. Instead, try one of these methods:
If the fire is small, cover the pan with a lid and turn off the burner.Throw lots of baking soda or salt on it. Never use flour, which can explode or make the fire worse. Smother the fire with a wet towel or other large wet cloth.
Use a fire extinguisher. Don’t swat at a fire with a towel, apron, or other clothing. You’re likely to fan the flames and spread the fire.If the fire is spreading and you can’t control it, get everyone out of the house and call 911! Make sure everybody in your family knows how to get out of the house safely in case of a fire. Practice your fire escape route.
Are wood burning stove safe?
The chimney for a wood burning stove must be masonry or UL-listed, and factory built. Never, under any circumstances, should an unlined, single brick chimney be used for a wood stove. Single brick chimneys are prone to failure, which may allow potentially dangerous situations to develop.
There are lots older homes that have unlined chimneys constructed of double brick. These may be used for a wood stove after carefully checking for cracked mortar or loose or missing brick. Metal sleeves that are listed by the Underwriters Laboratory may be used as chimney lines if they were designed for such use.
Factory built, metal chimneys must never be used with a coal stove, as the corrosive flue gases produced by a coal fire will cause a rapid failure of the chimney. Metal chimneys should be completely disassembled after a chimney fire and checked for damage. Discoloration of the exterior indicates a possible breakdown of the insulating material. Any questionable section should be replaced.
A wood burning stove should never be connected to a wood stove flue which vents an oil burner. Deadly, unburned vapors from the oil burner could back up into the stove and the room where it is located.If your home came with an existing wood burning stove, you should have it serviced and inspected before use.
Ventilation for your wood burning stove
Venting the stove is the most important part of the wood-burning system. 90% of all stove-related fires start within the venting system. A venting system is not a chimney – it consists of lengths of 24-gauge or heavier, insulated stovepipe which connects the stove to an approved chimney.
Stovepipe clearance is extremely important. It must never pass through an interior wall, floor, or ceiling. Where possible, the insulated stovepipe must go directly into a lined masonry or UL-listed, factory-built chimney. If stovepipe must pass through an exterior wall to reach the chimney, maintain an 18-inch minimum clearance to all combustibles. Consult fire codes and use metal thimbles designed for this purpose.
Use proper fuel
Hardwoods, such as maple, beech, ash, hickory, or oak, are the best fuel for a wood burning stove. Wood should be cut, split and air dried for at least a year before burning. Well-seasoned hardwood will show cracks in the ends. Wood will dry faster and remain dry and protected from the elements if stored in a shed or under a tarp.
Use a wire brush to clean your stovepipe and chimney at least once a year. Also, occasionally use controlled high-temperature fires in the stove or furnace. Salt-based chemical cleaners are not very affective. Never use heavy items such as chains, bricks or a brush on the end of a rope, because they could seriously damage the interior chimney lining.
Avoid creosote buildup
Creosote is a highly combustible fuel that burns intensely. A slow-burning fire such as those found in a modern, airtight stove damped way down, produces a flue temperature in the 100-200 degree Fahrenheit range. These comparatively low temperatures do not sufficiently carry all of the unburned, combustible gases into the atmosphere. Instead, they condense along the walls of the stovepipe and the chimney as creosote. Creosote may take 3 forms:
- A sticky liquid that will run down the chimney and stove pipe where it will be burned
- A flaky, black deposit which is easily removed by brushing
- A hard, glazed tar which is almost impossible to remove, except by a certified professional chimney sweep
Tips for building a fire
- Season wood outdoors through the hot, dry summer for at least 6 months before burning it. Properly seasoned wood is darker, has cracks in the end grain, and sounds hollow when smacked against another piece of wood.
- Store wood outdoors, stacked neatly off the ground with the top covered.
- Start fires with clean newspaper and dry kindling.
- Burn hot, bright fires. But use smaller fires in milder weather.
- Let the fire burn down to coals, then rake the coals toward the air inlet (and wood stove door), creating a mound. Do not spread the coals flat.
- Reload your wood stove by adding at least three pieces of wood each time, on and behind the mound of hot coals. Avoid adding one log at a time.
- Regularly remove ashes from the wood stove into a metal container with a cover, and store outdoors.
Dryer Vent Fire
DRYER VENT FIRE
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.
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
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.
But DO NOT:
- 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!