Recent Posts

Don't Let Your Holiday Go Up in Flames- Enjoy Your Live Christmas Tree Safely

12/9/2019 (Permalink)

Connecticut has an abundance of "cut your own tree" farms as well as a number of retailers selling trees in parking lots throughout New Haven County.  While live trees are part of the Christmas tradition, they also bring a potential hazard into your home.

Choosing the right kind of tree, and caring for it properly, will help reduce your risk of having a Christmas tree fire in your home this winter.

  1. Buy a tree that is fresh. If you cut your own tree, this isn’t an issue however if you purchase a tree from a retailer, be sure that your tree is fresh. Make sure the bottom of yours is sticky with resin. The needles should be green and supple and stay firmly attached to the branches if you tug on them or tap the tree gently on the ground. Tip: The earlier in the season you buy a tree from a lot, the fresher it will be.
  2. Hydrate! A dry tree is a fire hazard. A real one needs water at least once or twice daily during the first couple of weeks.
  3. Choose a safe location. Set your tree up in a safe place. Keep your tree away from fireplaces, radiators or electric heaters.
  4. Check your lights. Make sure your strands of light do not have any fraying wires, bare spots or broken bulbs. Follow manufacturers instructions on how many strands should be strung together and do not overload them.
  5. Dispose of your tree. Although you may not want the Christmas season to end, it is important to dispose of your Christmas tree shortly after the holiday. Despite watering, the tree will continue to die and grow dry and brittle as it ages. 

Christmas tree fires are one of the most devastating restoration calls our office receives. Place your tree in the right location, keep it watered, use lights in good condition and dispose of it quickly after the holidays to help keep your holiday a celebration, not a disaster. 

Heavy Snow Causes Water and Structural Damage to Commercial Properties

12/3/2019 (Permalink)

a warehouse with snow on top and the roof collapsed Heavy snow that is not properly removed can cause your commercial property's roof to collapse.

We’ve been hit with our first snowstorm in the Milford area and although the snowfall totals weren’t as high as some other areas in the Northeast, it got us thinking about how to protect the businesses in our area.

Commercial property owners know that protecting their investment and ensuring business continuity is vital to their success. One thing that is at times overlooked is the roof of a commercial building. When you think about it, the roof is the first line of defense against storms, wind, fire and all the elements outdoors

When it snows, commercial properties can be at risk of roof leaks, damage to the roof from snow removal techniques as well as collapse due to the heavy weight of the snow. Some elements to consider are the design of your roof and the weight it was designed to hold, it’s elevation and it’s age.

Keep in Mind:

  • Fresh snow: 10-12 inches of new snow is equal to one inch of water, or about 5 lbs per square foot of roof space.
  • Packed snow generally is heavier than new snow: 3-5 inches of old snow is equal to one inch of water, again about 5 lbs per square foot of roof space.
  • Ice is also heavier than snow. One inch equals about a foot of fresh snow.
  • The total amount of accumulated snow and ice is what matters in evaluating snow load risk. For example, the accumulated weight of two feet of old snow and two feet of new snow could be as high as 60 lbs per square foot of roof space, which may stress the limits of even the best-designed roof.

We recommend that in addition to regular maintenance on your roof, you carefully select a snow removal contractor.  Make sure that your contractor uses methods and equipment that removes the snow without damaging your roof. If you're unsure of where to begin, The Accredited Snow Contractors Association (ASCA) offers certification to snow removal professionals and has information on their website to assist commercial property owners.

Sewage Backups at New Haven County Commercial Properties

11/26/2019 (Permalink)

Hallway of a school with green cleaning machines When a commercial property has sewage flooding, SERVPRO of Milford-Orange-Stratford is on call 24-7 to clean it up quickly and professionally.

As we work to clean up sewage damage at a number of New Haven area properties this week - including an elementary school, an apartment complex and a big box store, it's a good time to discuss sewage damage at commercial buildings with our readers. 

Even if you’ve never experienced sewage flooding firsthand, I’m sure the thought is unappealing to you. Not only are sewage backups filthy, they can also present a health hazard if not properly treated. It’s vital to get backups and overflows cleaned up quickly, professionally and completely.  Many of the commercial property sewage backups that we treat are caused by toilet overflows in public restrooms, a public water main break or clog, a pipe collapse and misaligned plumbing. Flooding can also result when the volume of water runoff from a storm is greater than a drainage system’s capacity.

While there will always be scenarios when sewage flooding is beyond your control (such as a water main break), there are some preventative measures that can reduce your risk of commercial property damage. 

  • Have your sewer and plumbing systems inspected at least annually.
  • Use a water pressure reducing valve to limit stress on your building's system.
  • Add pop-up sewer release valves if your plumbing system does not already have them.

If you do have a backup, call us for immediate service. Our team is scheduled 'round the clock to respond to your emergency quickly. 

Residential Electrical Fires are at Their Peak in the Wintertime

11/19/2019 (Permalink)

exterior of a house with burned siding and wood An electrical fire in this New Haven County home required the fire damage restoration services of SERVPRO of Milford-Orange-Stratford

We are currently restoring a home in which there was an electrical fire. These tend to be more numerous in the winter due to increased usage of  lights and heating appliances. Electrical fires most often start in the bedroom of residential structures that er one and two family dwellings.

In other words, many of us are at risk of an electrical fire his winter.

The most common cause of residential electrical fires is faulty electrical outlets and appliances (typically older and outdated ones). Although there is often no warning that an outlet is faulty or appliance a danger, there are some warning signals that should not be ignored. These include frayed cords, sparks visible when using and outlet or a finicky switch. 

Outdated wiring in older homes often lack the capacity to handle the electrical demands of today’s homes. Circuit breakers are designed to be triggered when circuits get overloaded by too much electricity, but outdated breaker boxes often have worn connectors that do not work, causing the system to overload and start an electrical fire.

Make sure that your lighting fixtures are always being used properly. For example, using a bulb that exceeds the wattage recommendations for a light fixture creates a fire hazard. Fabric or paper placed over a lampshade can easily ignite.  

In our work, we have seen several fires that are the result of the misuse of extension cords. Household appliances such as refrigerators and dryers should be plugged directly into the outlet and not plugged into an extension cord for any length of time. Additionally, removing the grounding prong from a three prong cord creates a fire hazard. If you do not have the appropriate type of outlets for your appliances, hire an electrician to install new ones.

We’ve discussed safety concerns in regards to space heaters before however feel we cannot stress enough the importance of using them with caution. Due to their portability, space heaters are often placed way too close to combustible surfaces such as curtains, bedding, laundry baskets full of clothing, rugs and upholstered chairs and couches. Coil space heaters are especially dangerous in this regard because the coils become so hot they will almost instantaneously ignite any nearby flammable surface. However, even the newer infrared heaters pose a danger and should be used only by adults and placed in a safe space. 

For information on our Fire Damage Restoration Services, please call our office at (203) 301-0500.

When Your Home is Covered in a Layer of Soot.

11/12/2019 (Permalink)

a furnace in a basement covered in a layer of soot When a furnace malfunctions, a layer of soot can be sent throughout the home, leaving a sticky, difficult to remove mess.

With the arrival of cold weather in the Milford area, the calls coming to our office take a different tone.

Winter brings calls from homeowners who have had burst pipes and chimney fires as well as furnace puff backs. A puffback is a messy furnace malfunction that occurs when an oil burner backfires, sending soot throughout the interior of a home. Puff backs happen when your oil burning furnace doesn't ignite when it should. This causes oil vapors to build up which results in an explosion when the igniter finally triggers. The result of this is soot and other debris is forced from the furnace's exhaust system. The soot then enters the homes heating system and gets blown throughout the home. 

After a puffback, the contents of your home will be covered with a fine film of soot and soot cobwebs. Our crew observes that the damage is greater in homes with forced air heating or HVAC systems as they provide a pathway for the particles to disperse through the house. 

If you see signs of a puffback in your Ansonia home, call your oil company immediately for an inspection of your furnace. The mechanical failure that caused the event will require repair. If a homeowner hasn't experienced a puff back before, they might mistake the soot on their surfaces for dust and attempt to wipe it away. However, soot cannot but easily wiped away- it requires specialized cleaning by your local SERVPRO franchise. Puffback residue cannot be cleaned up using traditional methods. Professional cleaning utilizes a treatment that is waterless and absorbs the soot in order to removes it. Draperies and carpeting requires chemical cleaning to remove the sticky soot. 

Fortunately, this damage is covered under most homeowner's insurance policies. Our franchise also provides emergency heating while your furnace is being repaired or replaced.  At SERVPRO of Milford-Orange-Stratford, we have the tools, training and experience to get your New Haven County home back to normal and properly remove soot in your home. Call us at (203) 301-0500 for immediate service after a puffback.

Bessie. Finley. Kade. Sadie. The Winter Storms That are Headed Our Way.

11/7/2019 (Permalink)

snow covered road and trees Although their names are sweet, the snowstorms headed our way will not be!

Bessie. Finley. Kade. Sadie.

These are some of the storms that are coming our way this winter.  The Weather Channel, which has been naming snowstorms for a few years (having followed the practice of the NOAA's naming of hurricanes), has released the names of this years winter storms.

Snowstorms are followed closely by our team here at SERVPRO of Milford-Orange-Stratford. A strong nor'easter can cause trees and their limbs to fall. When a tree limb falls on a home, it often causes damage to the roof and allows snow and water to enter the home. Our crew provides emergency board up services to prevent further water damage.  Our restoration team restores local homes and businesses from water damage that results as well.

High winds and the weight of snow and ice on the limbs can causes a tree to fall on a power line. This can cause a power outage that will result in the loss of heat for many homes as well. With oil burners and electrical heat sources not functioning, homes are at risk of pipes freezing and bursting. This can cause widespread water damage. A crack of only 1/8 of an inch will allow 250 gallons of water to flood out in just one day! Water from burst pipes can cause substantial damage including the collapse of ceilings and walls in a home.

It is extremely important that a qualified restoration service be called as soon as possible to clean up the water and damaged materials. Quick action can allow us to save more of your belongings and prevent secondary issues, such as mold.  

Be prepared for the coming snowstorms this winter! Have an emergency supply kit ready and keep our number - (203) 301-0500 - on hand in case you have storm damage to your New Haven County home. 

Thank You to a Top Notch Crew.

10/24/2019 (Permalink)

3 men standing side by side in servpro shirts Thank you Ericksen, Ricardo and Carlos for being part of our team!

We've been receiving quite a bit of feedback from our customers about one of our crews lately.

Ericksen, Ricardo and Carlos make up a team that has shown excellent workmanship, integrity and amazing customer service. At SERVPRO of Milford-Orange-Stratford, we have a set of values that are important to us - commitment to our customers, integrity in our work, teamwork and a drive for continuous learning. These three water and fire damage restoration technicians demonstrate these values every day. 

We appreciate this team and thank them for their outstanding work. They represent our company in a way that makes us proud.

When Mold is Present, the Type of Mold Matters.

10/15/2019 (Permalink)

wall with pink, black and gray mold spots on it When you have mold in your home, the type of mold affects the treatment plan.

When a homeowner finds mold in their home, they often call us in a panic - concerned that their families health is being compromised.

And, in some cases, that is true however there are many different variables that determine whether the mold in your home is dangerous to your health. An important factor in the treatment of mold is what kind of mold is in your home. In this blog post, we discuss the common types of mold found in Connecticut homes.  

Alternaria

Alternia is a commonly found mold which usually grows outdoors. That said, it can make its way into your home, where it grows in damp places such as the bathroom. The best way to keep this mold out of your home is to keep your windows and doors shut on the dry, windy days of summer, which is when it’s numbers are the most concentrated and likely to blow.

Aureobasidium

The aureobasidium mold grows indoors and is often found in the homes we treat. It grows on wooden furniture, surfaces, painted walls and wallpaper. You may also find it around windows and in caulk. If you notice a spotty substance that is pink and black in color in those areas, it’s most likely Aureobasidium

Chaetomium

When a home has mold due to water damage in which the drywall has gotten wet, the culprit is usually Chaetomium mold. A telltale sign is if you smell a musty or old odor in your home. 

Fusarium

Fusarium is a mold that tends to grow in cold, wet areas and loves fabrics and carpeting. In our experience, it is often present in basements. 

Penicillium

You know the name because of its use as an antibiotic. When airborne, though, Penicillium is a quick growing mold a mold that grows on insulation, furnishings, water damaged furniture, carpeting and more. Penicilium requires less moisture than other species of mold to survive, allowing it to be a fast growing and long surviving mold. 

Stachybotrys Chartarum

The most demonized mold in the media, stachysbotrys chartarum is also called black mold or toxic mold. This is due to the fact that this type of mold creates toxic compounds known as mycotoxins that can negatively affect the health of humans. This type of mold can be identified by its musty smell and is found in areas that stay damp, like air conditioning pipes and ducts.

Trichoderma

Trichoderma is another damp area mold. Homeowners often find the trichoderma mold within damp carpeting, wallpaper and similar surfaces. Similar to stachysbotrys chartarum, it also creates mycotoxins.

We get it. Mold can be a frightening discovery and everybody has heard of somebody who has lived a nightmare because of its presence in their home. With professional remediation, however, your home can be made safe again.

Life in the Country: SERVPRO of Milford-Orange-Stratford Cleans and Sanitizes After Animal Waste Removal

10/7/2019 (Permalink)

squirrel nesting in the attic of a house We love the Connecticut countryside but not when it moves into our homes!

Sometimes when I drive through our area, I am amazed at how many rural areas still exist in New Haven County.

In fact, much of Connecticut is connected by old country roads with farms and homes. We are truly lucky to live in an area that has all of the comforts of society yet is surrounded by nature. 

Of course, as a restoration company, we know that the country charm brings with it a unique set of problems. In particular, along with stone wall lined roads and open fields, county life is a perfect habitat for mice, squirrels, raccoons and bats, all of whom can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage when they enter a home.

It’s common for these creatures to find their way into garages, crawlspaces and attics and go unnoticed for weeks and sometimes months. Often, a homeowner doesn’t become aware that their home is infested until the rodent population has exploded and the scurrying becomes apparent through the ceiling. Other times, the smell of animal feces is a warning sign that there is a wild animal population living in your home. When it gets to this point, professional service is typically needed. You will most likely call an exterminator to come out and rid your home of the unwanted guests. Once they are gone, call SERVPRO of Milford-Orange-Stratford to clean up the mess that the animals have left behind.

You may wonder why you can’t just clean up the mess yourself, and in some cases, you can. However, there are a number of scenarios in which professional restoration is necessary because they might contain disease. For example, raccoon droppings contain parasites including roundworm. Rodent feces often contain the Hantavirus, which causes muscle aches, chills and lung damage when the disease fills them with fluid. Bird and bat droppings carry respiratory infections such as Histoplasmosis which has similar symptoms to the Hantavirus. These biohazardous droppings should be cleaned up and the affected areas disinfected.

Animals that move into your home often hide in the attic, behind walls and in corners. They chew drywall and make a cozy home in the insulation within your walls and ceilings. It doesn’t take long for the insulation and sheetrock to become saturated with urine. Any materials that have been exposed to animal urine and feces will need to be removed from your home and the area sanitized. 

Whether you have animal waste in your basement or attic, our team has years of experience cleaning it up.We remove all damaged insulation, wood building materials and nests that have been left behind in a damaged state. Next, we spray the affected areas with cleaners and anti-fungal agents to ensure a healthy environment. Our team finishes the job with the installation of new insulation, walls and trim as necessary.

Hey, like you, we love the Connecticut countryside and all of the animals it contains. But, when they enter your home, we are here to help repair the damage. 

Question From a Customer: Is Water Damage Covered Under My Homeowner's Insurance Policy?

9/30/2019 (Permalink)

piece of broken pipe in mans hands Broken pipe? Water damage from this is usually covered under most homeowners insurance policies.

Water damage is the most common insurance claim in Connecticut households.

One of the most common questions we receive when we answer a call from a homeowner who has water damage is whether their insurance policy will cover it. Although coverage differs from policy to policy, most standard home owner's policies have similar coverage terms.

One rule of thumb is that if the water damage occurs suddenly and is accidental, it is typically covered.  For example, if your hot water heater bursts and causes water damage or if your refrigerator line leaks, it will normally be covered. Other water damage scenarios that are usually covered are: 

  • Accidental overflows of the toilet, sink or bathtub 
  • Burst pipes 
  • Refrigerator, dishwasher or washing machine supply line leak 
  • Roof leaks  
  • Ice dams 
  • Water damage from extinguishing a fire 
  • Rain damage (the usual rule of thumb is if it doesn't hit the ground first- this would fall under the "flooding" category) 
  • Mold caused by water damage 

A failure to properly maintain your plumbing and appliances may cause coverage to be denied. If you ignore that leaky sink to the point that it has rotted out your sub-floor, it may not be covered. So be careful to keep your home maintained. 

In our experience, flooding from groundwater is typically NOT included under standard home insurance policies. Flooding is considered to be water that comes from a natural source- such as the rain, a river or a lake. Ground seepage is also not covered. So, if your basement floods after a heavy rainstorm, your insurance will not cover it. If you live near a river that tends to flood or on the Long Island Sound, you may want to consider purchasing flood insurance for your home.  Flood insurance is offered through government  programs, usually the National Flood Insurance Program.  

Thankfully, most of the water damage cases that we see in the New Haven area are covered by insurance.

Kathy, our office manager, and Alexis and Theny, our admins,  have years of experience assisting customers with their homeowner's insurance claims. When they take your call, they will help guide you every step of the way.  Our staff works directly with your insurance company, submitting paperwork and photographs required. If the contents of your home are damaged, our crew will help you sort through the items, taking an inventory of belongings that can be restored, saved or discarded.

Water damage is never a welcome sight however our team strives to make your experience as streamlined and  hassle free as possible.