Annual Fireplace Maintenance & Creosote Buildup Prevention
Apart from cooking, the second highest cause of home fires is from heating sources, such as fireplaces, furnaces, and small electric heating units. A buildup of creosote in the chimney or stovepipe is the biggest offender.
What exactly is Creosote? Creosote is a buildup of flammable material caused from burning wood and is highly combustible. When the temperature dips below 250 degrees, the gases buildup inside the chimney or stovepipe and form a sooty layer. This first layer is easy to remove by sweeping the chimney with a chimney brush. However, if left to build up, that layer can turn into a harder, flakier substance that lines the flue and is much more difficult to remove. A drill and rotary loop on a rod will be needed to clean the flue properly at this point. If not cleaned, this buildup continues to thicken and will start to look like tar dripping down the inside of your flue/chimney - this is what results in a chimney fire.
- To help prevent creosote buildup in your flue, you should only burn seasoned firewood. Firewood that has been left to dry for 6-12 months burns hotter and has less moisture which causes smoke, which then causes creosote. Wet firewood also decreases the amount of heat so you are just wasting energy.
- Air flow is extremely important when burning wood in your fireplace. If you have glass doors, keep them open to allow proper air flow so your fire can burn hotter. A hotter fire burns more combustible gas resulting in less buildup in the chimney.
- Try and avoid burning artificial logs, these have a large amount of combustible gases.
- Hire a professional chimney cleaner to inspect and maintain your fireplace and chimney every year.
- If you should suffer from smoke or fire damage, call SERVPRO. We will make it “Like it never even happened.”
Large Scale Disasters Are Not A Problem for Small Franchises
SERVPRO of Carthage/Joplin may be a small, family-owned franchise, but we are part of a much larger family. This is especially helpful when large-scale disasters strike and we are short on the manpower or equipment needed to respond. As a SERVPRO franchise we have access to national resources, which means we are faster to respond to any disaster and no job is too large for us to handle.
With over 1,800 franchises nationwide, we are able to arrange for Disaster Recovery Teams from surrounding areas to deploy to catastrophic events, such as a flooding, hurricanes, blizzards, or tornadoes. These professionally trained teams are strategically placed across the US, so you can be confident that SERVPRO always has your back.
SERVPRO of Carthage/Joplin alone provides 24/7 emergency services and highly trained water and fire restoration specialists. For service you can count on, call the professionals at 417-623-1388.
Why Should You Use SERVPRO?
SERVPRO of Carthage-Joplin is proud to be an IICRC Certified Firm. This stands for Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification.
Why should that matter to you? Well, by following the most extensive guidelines and standards of the IICRC, we use only the best practices in the industry to ensure you have the safest, healthiest, and the most professional services of whatever disaster you are experiencing.
The standards of the IICRC are reviewed and updated every five years to keep up with the rapid changes in water damage restoration and advancing technology in science. Our high standards ensure only top-notch service to all of our clients and agents. Unfortunately, there are a lot of companies out there that scam unsuspecting clients and end up causing more damage in the long run. Our technicians are highly trained and must regularly participate in classes and pass standardized exams.
Below are some of the certifications that one or more of our team members currently holds:
- AMRT- Applied Microbial Remediation Technician
- ASD - Applied Structural Drying
- CCT- Carpet Cleaning Technician
- FSRT- Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration Technician
- OCT- Odor Control Technician
- WRT- Water Damage Restoration Technician
For professional service that you can count on, call SERVPRO of Carthage/Joplin for all your restoration and mitigation needs.
Winter Weather Survival Tips - Be Fire Smart
Peak months for home electrical fires are November through March. Typically, these are from lighting equipment or faulty electrical wiring. However, these risks are increased through the use of fireplaces, portable space heaters, dry Christmas trees/decorations, and candles. Did you know that December has the highest number of home fires caused by candles; Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s being the highest days of the year? Play it smart and follow our tips to reduce your risk of a home fire this season.
- Never use an extension cord for plugging in a space heater. Always plug directly into an outlet.
- Keep anything flammable away from any heat source, such as a portable space heater or your fireplace. Never leave them unattended.
- Only one electrical, heat-producing appliance should be plugged into an outlet at a time.
- Never place your candles near fabric, curtains, tablecloths, and bedding – keep them 12’ away. Flameless candles are even better!
- Always place cooled fireplace ash in a metal container with a lid. Store this container 10- feet away from your house outside - never inside.
- Replace the batteries and test all of your smoke detectors and CO monitors to ensure they are working properly.
- Have your chimney and fireplace cleaned and inspected each year by a qualified professional.
- Burn only dry and seasoned fire wood.
- Check that your Christmas lights are not old, frayed/pinched, or have exposed internal wiring before placing on your tree or around your house. Turn off your lights before going to bed or leaving for any length of time.
- Ensure you Christmas tree is watered regularly to prevent it from drying out. Dry trees are highly flammable!
- Check that your faux Christmas tree has the label “Fire Resistant”.
- If you have a fire hydrant, keep snow and ice from building up and around it in the event of a fire emergency.
- Keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen, or in an easily accessible area. Check to make sure it hasn’t been damaged or needs recharging.
Winter Weather Survival Tips - Ice Dams & Snowmelts
Oftentimes when we picture winter, we think of snow-covered trees, frosty windows, a cozy fire, and building snowmen; we don’t typically think of the harm all of that snow and ice can cause to our homes. For week two, we wanted to post some tips on how to prevent ice dams and snowmelts from ruining your cozy winter fantasy.
Ice dams are caused by warm air from the attic causing the snow on your roof to melt, which then runs down into the gutters and refreezes. This causes a build-up of ice that is then forced under the roof edge or covering and into the home causing extensive damage. The weight of the ice could also cause your gutters to pull away from or off of your house. To help avoid this situation, you should:
- Keep your gutters clean and free of any blockages that could cause water to not drain properly.
- Adding additional insulation to your attic floors helps prevent heat from getting into the attic which causes the snow to melt.
- Use a snow rake or broom to help remove snow from your roof. Do not climb onto the roof to do this as it could be icy and cause you to slip and fall.
- Checking your roof a couple times a year for weaknesses or structural damage, replacing loose or cracked shingles, or having your roof resurfaced is an excellent way to prevent damage that could cost you thousands.
Snowmelt is water and runoff that has resulted from melting snow. If you have a significant amount of packed snow around the outside of your home and the temperature rises, this will cause the snow to melt and then seep into the foundation or basement of your home. To help prevent this, try the following:
- Clear a five-foot perimeter around your home of snow and ice to keep the water from melting and pooling around the foundation of your house.
- Seal any cracks or fissures in the foundation with caulking or sealant.
- If you have a sump pump, test it often to ensure it is working properly.
- Keep your roof clean of snow by using a snow rake or broom.
- Adding downspout extensions helps move melted snow/water away from your home.
In the event water should find its way into your basement, through the ceiling, or anywhere else in your home, call a professional water restoration service like SERVPRO of Carthage/Joplin to come and help you. We are here to help!
Winter Weather Survival Tips - Frozen Pipes
It’s almost that time of year again! Our SERVPRO of Carthage/Joplin crew has been enjoying a few weeks of beautiful fall weather but woke up to our first freezing rain of the season. Winter is teasing its arrival and with that comes frozen pipes, leaking roofs, ice dams, and finicky appliances.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III.org), water damage and freezing made up 23.8% of insurance claims in 2018. Most of these could have been avoided with preventative maintenance. To better assist our homeowners, we have compiled a list of tips and tricks to help you safeguard your home from the hazards of winter. This week's tips are how to prevent frozen/burst pipes.
- Keep your thermostat set above 55 degrees, even if you leave for vacation or are away from the home for any length of time.
- Leave the cabinet doors under the sink open to allow the warm ambient air to circulate around the pipes.
- Leave your faucets on to drip slowly – running water helps prevent the pipes from freezing.
- Wrap insulation around any pipes that are exposed to the outside elements or in crawl spaces.
- You should never use a space heater, blow torch, or other open-flame device to thaw frozen pipes. A blow dryer or an electric heating pad/blanket wrapped around the pipes on a low setting will thaw the pipes safely and efficiently.
- Keep your faucets on to allow the water to flow once it starts to melt.
- Seal all cracks and gaps around the perimeter of your house with caulking to keep cold air from seeping into your home.
In the event water should find its way into your basement, through the ceiling, or anywhere else in your home, call a professional water restoration service like SERVPRO of Carthage/Joplin to come and help you.
Preventing Moisture and Mold in the Home
While the current weather outside does not reflect it, warmer weather is on the way. It won’t be long, and we will be complaining that it is too hot and be running for the thermostat to crank the AC unit on and try to find a comfortable temperature.
This can create a perfect environment for mold growth in your home if there becomes enough moisture in the area. There are four requirements for mold growth:
- Mold spores
- Temperatures of 70° or more
- Food source - Not a steak and potatoes kind of food, but the mold spores generally feed on wood, drywall, and insulation.
To help in the prevention of mold growth there are some steps you can take:
- Maintain the moisture level- anything above 50% is favorable for mold growth and anything below 30% can have negative effects on your health. You want to keep it between 30-50%.
- Fix any leaks as soon as you find them
- Clean up any water spills as soon as you notice it. It doesn’t take a large amount to create a huge, moldy mess.
- If your AC unit is inside, make sure you empty the drip pan regularly to prevent any overflow and avoid a damp environment.
Weather-Ready Nation Ambassadors
Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador Logo
Did you know that here at SERVPRO of Carthage/ Joplin, we are registered as Weather-Ready Nation Ambassadors through the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)?
If you have not taken the time to wander around the website, you should make it a point to do so at some time! It is full of helpful information, and even learning resources for children in order to help them better understand weather, and what they should do in case of a bad weather event.
Storm season is upon us and we know weather is unpredictable and if you have children, this information could be very beneficial in helping them understand the importance of being prepared in the unfortunate yet inevitable event of a dangerous storm.
If you would like information for yourself or educational resources for your children, you should really take time to check their website out.
To get to the educational portion of the website just go to noaa.gov and select Education from the list on the left. From there you will see different tabs and options to choose from depending on the grade level. There are also links to other educational websites or articles that will help you to better understand weather, what it does, how it does it and the ways you can help to keep those you love safe by knowing what you are looking at.
Fogging to Kill Germs
A crew member is in full PPE while setting things up to fog the back of an ambulance.
If you have turned on a television set, picked up a smart phone, or read a newspaper lately, you know most everyone is being extremely careful to avoid picking up germs from others due to the coronavirus pandemic.
If you have a large space or even a smaller space with a lot of different nooks and crannies, then there may be concerns on how well you are able to really sanitize the area. For some areas it could take hours or days to wipe things down to sanitize them and even still there may be germs left behind.
Have you ever heard of fogging? If you fog an area to combat germs, it allows the chemicals to disperse throughout and will reach content or areas that may have been out of reach or overlooked.
We wanted to do something to help our community during all of this and our crews have suited up and began fogging approximately 13 ambulances to help them in killing off the germs that may have been hiding.
If you would like more information on fogging and the benefits of it, please reach out. If you would like more information on COVID-19 and what you can do to help flatten the curve, please visit the website for CDC.
We hope you stay safe and many blessings come your way.
Check Your Smoke Detectors
Smoke rising to a smoke detector
A lot of people check their smoke detectors monthly, some only check the batteries when the time changes and some know theirs works simply because it goes off nearly every time they cook. I will not tell you which category I am in, but I do know mine works.
The National Fire Protection Association recommends you have a smoke detector in each bedroom, outside any sleeping quarters and on every level of the house, basement included. It may seem excessive to some, but the notice you have, the more time you have to get yourself and your family to safety.
You should make it a habit to check the smoke detectors every single month and change the batteries when you change your clocks twice a year.
Do not forget that smoke detectors are only good for 10 years and should be replaced accordingly.
If you do not change the batteries in your smoke detector twice a year, be mindful of any random beeps or chirps. When the battery is dying it will make a sound every couple of minutes or so. Please do not ignore this as it is reminding you to replace the battery and this could ultimately save your life and the lives of the ones you love.