Recent Posts

"Hey, SERVPRO - I Have a Question..."

2/11/2020 (Permalink)

The first person you will likely talk to when you call our office is one of our administrative assistants- Theny and Alexis, or our office manager Kathy. These ladies have heard it all in their line of work - from exploding fire extinguishers, to toy drones catching on fire to a neighbor driving their car into a house. And we won’t even go into the things that children have shoved down toilets, causing overflows of epic proportions!

Typically, though, a day in the life of one our admins usually includes phone calls with questions such as:

Will this be covered by my homeowner’s insurance?

Whether it’s mold discovered in the basement, water damage from a leaky roof or broken windows from a fallen tree limb, this is often a question we get asked. And, the answer depends on your particular policy and will need to be answered by your insurance agent. That said, the majority of homeowner insurance policies cover water damage scenarios such as water damage from broken appliances, pipe leaks, burst and frozen pipes and toilet overflows. What is typically not covered? Flooding from storm water is typically not covered on a basic homeowner’s insurance policy. Nor is mold when due to a failure to maintain a home properly. For example, if you know that you have a roof leak and don’t address the problem, mold that grows as a result may not be covered. 

I’m nervous about workers in my home - who do you hire? 

We understand that it can be stressful to have a disaster in your home and unknown people working inside of it. We employ only people who we feel comfortable allowing into our own homes and on top of that, all of our employees have undergone a background check to ensure that they are trustworthy and safe. Our Production Managers oversee the crew as well as the work being done in your home and are available to you should you have any concerns at any time during the restoration. In addition to possessing advanced knowledge in the restoration industry, our main criteria when we select someone to be a Production Manager is that they are an easily approachable, “people person” who will put our customers at ease. 

How quickly can you get here?

You’ll see that we advertise that we are open 24-7. We have a crew on call throughout the night and on weekends to respond to emergencies. When you call during the day, we will typically be at your home or business within 1.5 hours. If there has been an unusual storm that has affected thousands of people in the area, we may take a little longer and prioritize our calls based on the level of need of our customers.

What services do you provide?

SERVPRO of Milford-Orange-Stratford is a full service, start to finish restoration company. We provide water and fire damage restoration as well as mold remediation in homes and businesses. Our team is trained to clean up biohazards such as oil spills, blood, feces and animal waste. Our cleaning services include duct cleaning as well as carpet and general cleaning. And our Building Services team is licensed to repair your home - offering services such as kitchen and bathroom installations and roof replacement.  

Not sure if we can help with your unusual disaster situation? Give us a call and ask. Chances are, it won't be the first time we've heard it!

Bad News Doesn't Get Better with Age - Resolve Your Ceiling Stain Problem Now to Avoid Further Damage

2/6/2020 (Permalink)

ceiling with water stain in the corner It's a small ceiling stain that you might want to ignore - but dealing with it now will save you a lot of trouble later!

Many homeowners turn a blind eye when they spot a yellow stain on their ceiling. I don’t know what we are thinking when we do this - clearly the spot was caused by a leak of some sort and isn’t going to disappear.

The old adage “bad news doesn’t get better with age” comes to mind here.

We can avoid the problem by averting our eyes away from the spots on the ceiling, however the problem will likely get worse the longer it is ignored. 

Ceiling stains are typically caused by a few common scenarios. 

  1. Leaks - Even a small leak can eventually cause water damage and mold. The leak usually occurs directly above the ceiling stain. An overflowing bathtub, leaky washing machine hose or broken toilet is often the culprit. Old caulking can allow water to leak onto the floor as well. Leaky pipes also create water spots. It’s common for water to run along rafters or damaged pipes and drop onto the ceiling. This causes the pooling of water in that spot. 
  2. Ice Dam Leakage: When stains appear at ceiling corners or outside walls, the most probable cause is ice dam leakage  We’ve also seen cases where the water from ice dams has made its way across the ceiling. A good way to see if your attic is not sufficiently insulated is to inspect the nail heads for condensation. If they are rusted or their sheathing is stained, condensation is the issue.
  3. Condensation: Sometimes, the connection between an exhaust pipe and roof cap is not airtight and moisture that should be released outside condenses wildly at the joint. The water slides down to the duct bottom and falls right back out of the exhaust pipe. Water damage from condensation can also occur when an air duct is not properly insulated. 

We know that you want to ignore the problem but doing so won’t make it go away. And if you read our blogs regularly, you know that denial can lead to further water damage and mold growth.

So, take your head out of the sand and figure out what is causing that spot! In many cases, ceiling stains are caused by easily remedied problems and if addressed immediately, will cause little disruption to your life. 

Connecticut Business Owners- Call Us to Set Up a Free Emergency Mobile App

1/21/2020 (Permalink)

a hand holding a phone with a SERVPRO app on it on a rainy street The SERVPRO Emergency Ready App helps businesses prepare for the worst.

We have developed a relationship with many of the wonderful business owners on New Haven County. At some point, most businesses have, or will, need our services. After all, no building is immune from a water leak, kitchen fire or toilet overflow. I wanted to share with commercial property owners in our area a service that we offer that you may not be aware we offer. 

Our franchise offers a free mobile app, called the Emergency Ready Profile or ERP, which enables your employees to easily respond to any emergency situation.

In the event of an emergency, the ERP can help minimize business interruption by having an immediate plan of action in place for your facility. It is a comprehensive document containing critical information about your business. This includes emergency contacts, shut-off valve locations, and priority areas.  Whether you are a hospital, university or small mom and pop shop, setting up an ERP will prove invaluable should your property experience water damage or a fire in which quick action needs to be taken to protect it.

The SERVPRO® Emergency READY Plan serves as a quick reference of important building and contact information or can be an ideal supplement to any well-designed emergency preparedness or existing contingency program.  Whoever has access to the app will be able to utilize it in an emergency situation. Questions such as “Where are the water valves” or “What circuits need to be shut off” are easily answered. The people who need to be called- such as your plumber, security company or utility company – are all programmed into the app. It can even include the chain of command - people within the company who need to be called and their contact info. With the ERP, no matter who is on duty when a disaster happens, they will have a clear plan to follow and your facility and employees will be protected.   

All it takes to set up an ERP is calling our office at (203) 301-0500. Danielle, Roseann or one of our Production Managers will come out to your property and help create your individualized plan, free of charge.

Sewage Backups Stink. The Clean Up Doesn't Have To.

1/14/2020 (Permalink)

drop of water with descriptions of types of water damage written on it Toilet overflows and sewage backups contain Gray and Black water - both which require professional clean up.

We know that when you have a toilet overflow or flood that contains sewage in your basement, you may be tempted to clean up the mess yourself.

Let’s face it, most homeowners would rather avoid an insurance deductible when possible. And, yes, there are times when flooding is minor enough that a homeowner can clean it up themselves. However, in the case of a toilet overflow or sewage flooding, we advise against this. It’s simply not worth the potential health risks.

Sewage is not clean water - it contains “gray” and even sometimes ”black” water. Gray, or CAT 2, water contains discharge from utilities such as sinks, tubs, showers, and dishwashers. Black, or CAT 3, water is what you have if there has been a toilet overflow with feces (which is often the case) or a sewage backup. 

Sewage floodwater contains contaminants including parasites, viruses and bacteria. Touching sewage water without protective gear on can be a serious risk to your health. Improper clean up of Gray or Black Water can leave behind those contaminants and cause subsequent problems such as illness and mold growth. 

As a professional restoration company with decades of experience, we restore your home by:

  • Pumping out the sewage water and removing any remaining debris 
  • Removing wet and contaminated drywall, flooring and other structural material 
  • Using industrial dehumidifiers and air scrubbers to speed up the drying process
  • Sanitizing the area using specialized cleaners and procedures; this helps eliminate bacteria and mold to prevent health risks and preserve infrastructure and belongings.
  • Restoring your home to prime condition. Our Building Services team is available to replace walls, ceilings, flooring and even your entire bathroom if necessary. 

Sewage backups stink. The clean up doesn’t have to.

Contact us for more information on how we can help. 

Winter + Bathroom Skylight + No Ventilation = Mold Problem

1/7/2020 (Permalink)

skylight with mold growing on the wood molding around it In the wintertime, the combination of cold air outside and warm, moist air inside this bathroom caused mold to grow around the skylight.

One of our Production Managers inspected a New Haven County home in which mold repeatedly grew around the skylight in the bathroom, despite the owner's efforts to remove it. 

The homeowner had expressed surprise that the mold was growing in the wintertime. Many of us might have the same reaction- as there is a misconception that mold is more prevalent in the summertime. However, mold growth occurs in the winter due to the amount of melting snow and ice combined with the warm temperatures inside of a heated home. Although heated homes do tend to make the indoor air drier, places such as the bathroom, especially one with a lack of ventilation, experience increased moisture. Warm condensation collected daily on the cold, snow covered skylight in this case and the mold had an ideal breeding ground.

The first step in a mold remediation job for us is always to identify and correct the source of the mold. At this home, the problem was clearly a lack of ventilation combined with a skylight in the bathroom. The owner was not in a position to remove the skylight nor did they have any control over the weather outside. However, a high quality exhaust fan could be installed to help remove the warm moist air out of the bathroom. By taking this measure, the moist air was circulated out of the bathroom and the mold no longer grew. The affected area was cleaned and damaged wood replaced and the air filtered until the mold spore count was at normal levels. All in all, it was a relatively easy and inexpensive solution which took care of the mold problem.

It's the 20's! As the Decade Comes to a Close, We Reflect on 2019.

12/30/2019 (Permalink)

Group of people posing for a photo in a restaurant Will this decade be roaring? We think so!!

Many of us here in the office are having a hard time grasping that it is the end of another decade and that we are entering the 20’s!

Whereas 2018 was a year of expansion for our company with the acquisition of a new franchise, 2019 has been a year of focus. We’ve worked on the organizational structure of our company - putting the right people in positions in which their talents would best be utilized, filling our crews with experienced, hard working and likable people and hiring new office staff to help our amazing admins.

Our commitment to education has remained a focus- with training for our new employees as well as advanced mold and water damage courses being attended by our senior employees.  Looking at our team, it’s amazing how many extraordinary people we have working for us. We are truly grateful for the positive energy they bring. 

With over 700 jobs last year, we are proud to say that we’ve maintained a high customer satisfaction rate and this is something that our organization will always prioritize. From our owner to our technicians, we are all local folks who care about the relationships we have and our reputation in this community. 

I have a feeling that this decade ahead is going to be “roaring” (sorry, I couldn’t help myself!)

We wish all of the best to our friends, families and customers in the year to come!

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.