Recent Fire Damage Posts

Fire Safety In Your Austin, TX Home

6/29/2020 (Permalink)

smoke detector on ceiling with orange servpro house in bottom left corner and "smoke alarm" under the servpro house. SERVPRO of East Central Austin is here to help 24/7, 365 days a year. If you have fire damage to your home or business, give us a call at 512-420-9886

Tips on Keeping Your Austin, TX Home Safe from A Fire

There are simple steps every family can take to protect their home and loved ones from a potential house fire. 

1. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside of sleeping areas

2. Test smoke alarms at least once every month

3. Talk with all family members about a fire escape plan and practice the plan a minimum of twice a year

4. If a fire occurs in your home, GET OUT, STAY OUT, and CALL FOR HELP!

5. Never go back inside for anything until safety officials clear it as safe to enter

The American Red Cross website has these tips plus many more disaster prevention and awareness tips you can find on their site https://www.redcross.org

Indoor & Outdoor Fire Safety!

6/22/2020 (Permalink)

fireplace with logs and flames, servpro logo in top left corner Call SERVPRO of East Central Austin at (512) 420-9886 for any fire-related damage you may have in your home or business.

During the summer and fall months, we all love to enjoy a nice fire with our friends and family (socially distanced of course) and some s'mores! While in the winter, some of us enjoy a nice fire by the fireplace inside. However you enjoy your fires, it's important that you are safe! 

Indoor fireplaces/pellet/ wood stoves

Be sure your chimney and stove (if you have one) is inspected and cleaned by a chimney specialist once a year to ensure there is no creosote build-up and no other issues. Keep the area around the fireplace clean and clear of any fire hazards. This can include decorations, tripping hazards, and any other flammable materials. 

ALWAYS 

  • Ensure the flue is open before igniting a fire
  • Use fireplace gloves when adjusting the doors or screens
  • Close the damper when the fire is completely out
  • Control your fire

Outdoor fires 

While most of us enjoy sitting outside by the fire with friends and family, enjoying a beautiful summer or fall night, it is always important to remember and be aware of safety and any hazards. 

  • Always use a designated fire pit
  • Keep water nearby in case of an emergency
  • Never use a flammable liquid to start a fire 
  • Don't wear flowy clothing around a fire, always wear snug fit or short-sleeved clothes. 
  • After you've had your fun around the fire, be sure the fire is doused with water and is fully extinguished. 

Whether you're enjoying a campfire outside or warming up by the fire inside, always be sure you're practicing proper safety measures!

SERVPRO of East Central Austin is here to help you with any fire-related damage. Our teams are highly trained to help guide you through the entire process. We'll make it "Like it never even happened."

Give us a call at (512) 420-9886, we're always here to help!

The Most Common Fire Hazards

6/8/2020 (Permalink)

Flames engulfing wooden plankes. "fire damage" and orange servpro logo in top right corner Call SERVPRO of East Central Austin if you have fire damage to your home or business.

Fire Damage Cleanup & Restoration is one of our primary services. No matter the season, a fire can begin by one of the most common ways listed below. Stay aware and know what to look for according to Wikipedia.

  • Kitchen fires from unattended cooking, grease fires/chip pan fires
  • Electrical systems that are overloaded, poorly maintained or defective
  • Combustible storage areas with insufficient protection
  • Combustibles near equipment that generates heat, flame, or sparks
  • Candles and other open flames
  • Smoking (Cigarettes, cigars, pipes, lighters, etc.)
  • Equipment that generates heat and utilizes combustible materials
  • Flammable liquids and aerosols
  • Flammable solvents (and rags soaked with solvent) placed in enclosed trash cans
  • Fireplace chimneys not properly or regularly cleaned
  • Cooking appliances - stoves, ovens
  • Heating appliances - fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, furnaces, boilers, portable heaters, solid fuels
  • Household appliances - clothes dryers, curling irons, hairdryers, refrigerators, freezers, boilers
  • Chimneys that concentrate creosote 
  • Electrical wiring in poor condition
  • Leaking/ defective batteries
  • Personal ignition sources - matches, lighters
  • Electronic and electrical equipment
  • Exterior cooking equipment - barbecue

Hoping these help you and your family stay safe. Know what causes fires, so you can avoid them!

If you experience a fire in your home and need assistance with the cleanup & restoration, please call us at (512) 420-9886. We are always here and happy to help!

What You Should and Shouldn't Do While Using A Power Strip

6/8/2020 (Permalink)

Power strip with a lot of cords plugged into it and the wires are all tangled up sitting on the floor If you experience an electrical fire caused by a power strip, call SERVPRO of East Central Austin for help.

With the endless amount of accessories, appliances, and tools that are becoming more and more common in your household, it can sure be a hassle figuring out where to plug all of them in at. Many homeowners find themselves always swapping plugs or using devices such as a power strip. While a power strip can help you out in many situations, it is the mistake of relying on them too much that causes problems. Follow these tips below to ensure your safety when using a power strip in your home.

  • Use only light load appliances on power strips. That includes computers, lamps, clock, etc.
  • Ensure that the power strip you purchase has an internal circuit breaker. This is a very important safety measure that is designed to prevent property loss and risks of fire.
  • Use power strips sparingly. They aren't designed to maintain a load for an extended period of time, and can easily overheat quickly if used too often.
  • DON'T plug a power strip into another power strip (the term is called "daisy-chaining"). Doing this will short out appliances and highly increase the risk of an electrical mishap.
  • DON'T use power strips in moist or potentially moist areas. DON'T put them in kitchens, utility rooms, or basements.
  • DON'T continue to use a power strip if it feels hot.
  • NEVER cover, staple, tack or nail a power strip to anything. Covering can smother the strip, and provide ample flammable material in the event of a power strip failure. Puncturing can harm the cords, making room for dangerous situations.

Beware of These Common, Risky Fire Hazards in Older Homes in Austin

6/17/2019 (Permalink)

Fire damage risks & hazards to be aware of when living in an older Austin home

Have an Older Home in Austin? Take Precaution of Possible Fire Hazards

There’s no denying the charm of living in an older home. Arched doorways, ceiling medallions and other architectural details representative of a bygone era catch the attention of many homeowners. But along with the unique charms that come with living in an older home in Austin, come unique hazards, such as fire risks. Purchasing an old home may require more than a lot of elbow grease, a few coats of paint and TLC touches throughout. Thoroughly investigating to uncover potential fire risks in your Austin home is an important step to take to prevent catastrophic fire damage. Below are some of the most common fire hazards lurking in your older home.

1. Bad wiring

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), electrical failures or malfunctions were the second leading cause of U.S. home fires in 2012-2016, accounting for 13 percent of home structure fires. Antiquated wiring such as knob and tube wiring — which was the standardized method of electrical wiring in homes until the 1940s — poses a potential risk for fire damage.

Knob and tube wiring systems use porcelain knobs for running wires through unobstructed spaces and porcelain tubes to protect wires running through studs and joists.

If a knob and tube system is intact and functioning properly, it poses no immediate risk. Problems arise, however, when the rubber sheathing that’s used to insulate the wires degrades (modern electrical wiring is encased in plastic). As the rubber degrades over time, it exposes live wires to air and moisture, thereby increasing the chance of a short or a fire. The combination of modern insulation and knob and tube wiring also poses a fire hazard that can lead to devastating loss and the need for fire damage repairs and restoration to your Austin home.

This antiquated wiring system utilizes porcelain knobs to suspend the wires in open air to allow the heat to dissipate. When homeowners insulate the attic and walls of their notoriously drafty older homes, the insulation surrounding the wires will cause heat to build up, resulting in a potential fire. Currently, the United States National Electrical Code® (NEC) forbids use of loose, blown-in or expanding foam insulation over knob and tube wiring.

Older wiring is also rated for lower amps than is required by the multiple appliances we use today. This can result in circuits being overloaded, which can cause a fire. Knob and tube wiring systems also lack a grounding conductor. Grounding conductors reduce the chance of a fire and damage to sensitive equipment.

Hiring a certified electrician or electrical inspector to evaluate the wiring throughout your home is key to preventing a potential fire and preventing the need for fire damage repairs and restoration with the additional water damage that can occur, as is removing knob-and-tube wiring from inside your walls or attic prior to adding insulation.

2. Balloon-frame construction

According to firefighters, the way your home is constructed could make it a bigger fire risk and susceptible to fire damage. Balloon-frame construction, popular in the 1930s and 1940s, is a common sight in older homes. Unlike the modern platform building technique in which a floor (platform) is built, then wall studs (boards that function as framing elements in the home) are installed, then another floor (platform) and so on, balloon framing is characterized by wall studs that run continuously two or more stories high from the foundation to the attic floor. The problem with a balloon-frame house is that when a fire starts in the lower level of the home, there’s nothing to stop the flames from quickly spreading to the attic.

If you live in one of these homes, retrofitting the walls could be quite costly. Keep this in mind if you’re considering buying an older home with this type of framing construction.

3. Outdated appliances

Vintage appliances may add to the charm of your older home, but they also add an increased risk of fire. Your old-fashioned plug-in fan, vintage light fixture and chrome coffeemaker may still run, but they were made according to antiquated safety codes and may include frayed or damaged wires. An appliance that doesn’t come with a UL mark, signifying that Underwriters Laboratories has vouched for the item's safety in actual use, should be rewired.

4. Old furnaces

The average life expectancy of furnaces is 15 to 20 years. Furnaces that are 20 years or older pose a danger due to their use of an old-style pilot light for ignition. House fires that are started by pilot lights, bad ventilation and/or gas line leaks are another major fire hazard of an outdated heating system. The combustible materials or any flammable objects near a furnace also create an increased possibility of fire or explosion.

While replacing your furnace with an energy-efficient modern model is best, if you’re not ready to replace your old furnace, be sure to have it diligently inspected and serviced by a professional every year. 

5. Chimneys

Before spending your first cozy night indoors sitting by a crackling fire, be sure your fireplace chimney and/or wood stove has been recently inspected. It’s vital that your chimneys are inspected annually, and cleaned of creosote buildup — a flammable dark brown or black tar-like byproduct of the wood-burning process that’s deposited on the walls of a chimney. If creosote builds up in sufficient quantities – and the internal flue temperature is high enough – the result could be a chimney fire. 

A professional chimney cleaning typically includes sweeping the fireplace, inspecting the firebox, liners, smoke chamber and flue, and chimney exterior. Recommendations for proper operation or replacement of equipment and necessary repairs to any equipment or structure will also be made.

How SERVPRO Can Help

Our professional team at SERVPRO of East Central Austin knows just how devastating and traumatic a fire can be. If you do have an older home, and there are many in Austin, please be sure to have all of the above issues checked for your safety. While checking these issues may be time consuming, it is far better to update your older house to current standards, so as to prevent any potential fire risks and future fire damage.

Our SERVPRO team will examine the extent of your fire damage while providing top-level service, care and expertise during the fire damage repairs & fire damage restoration process.

Our highly qualified, trained and certified personnel, uses top of the line equipment for handling all of your fire damage restoration needs. Our team is trained to clean and restore your home, in the aftermath of any fire damage, with as little disruption as possible.

For more information, contact our fire damage specialists at (512) 420-9886.

How to Deal with Smoke Damage from a Fire

5/30/2019 (Permalink)

Fire damage & smoke damage go hand in hand. Learn how to best take care of the restoration you'll need after a fire occurs.

Fire & Smoke: A Devastating Combination

You've heard the saying, where there's smoke, there's fire. That saying goes both ways, because where there's fire, there's also smoke. If your Austin home or business has experienced a fire, in addition to the fire damage repairs that will inevitably need to be addressed, you'll also need to consider the lingering effects of smoke as well.

Smoke is extremely destructive. Not only will it cause damage to your home, it can also affect your health, particularly your respiratory system.

Smoke contains harmful elements, such as carbon monoxide and high concentrations of carbon dioxide. When you have a fire and subsequent smoke damage, not only will you be breathing in these elements, but smoke residue will also be attaching itself to your home’s walls, floors, clothing, furniture and much more.

Smoke also stinks…literally (and pretty badly), which is why once a fire has occurred, both fire damage restoration and smoke damage restoration will likely be needed. The amount of smoke damage you'll have can vary; the volume of smoke during a fire can be greatly impacted by temperature, ionization and airflow.

Different Types of Smoke and Temperature

There are basically two different types of smoke: wet smoke and dry smoke.

Wet Smoke is often derived from burning materials, such as plastic, rubber and other synthetics. It burns at a low heat, it tends to smolder and leave behind very sticky and messy soot, which is not all that easy to clean on your own.

Dry Smoke tends to burn fast at a very high temperature. The heat from the fire rises, which causes smoke to rise. Hot air always rises during a fire, which is why we’ve always been told to stop, drop and roll when one occurs.

In most cases the temperature of a fire will be directly above the source of the blaze, primarily the ceiling. If cold air is present during a fire, it will decrease beneath any warmer air, which will allow for the smoke to reach exterior walls and windows. It’s not uncommon for smoke to appear on the outside walls, even if the majority of the fire damage repairs will be inside your home.

Smoke after Fire Damage

Smoke has a mysterious way of getting into some of the strangest places that you would least expect, in the aftermath of a fire. Smoke is able to permeate into enclosed spaces, such as drawers, closets and inside your walls. This happens due to warmer air, which attracts molecules, and once a fire is raging, there’s more energy to transfer smoke particles from the fire into the air. With cooler air, there is slower movement, so any particles will have a harder time moving, so they’re more likely to be found in enclosed and hard to reach places.

After a fire, you’re very likely to find more smoke on the backside of drapes, curtains and blinds, as they tend to be cooler places. Drapes can be problematic as the space between the drape and the window is often cooler, so smoke can latch onto the backside and leave abundant traces; the same phenomenon can occur with venetian
blinds as well.

Smoke Particles, Ionization and Airflow

Smoke particles are usually ionized. This means that they carry an electrical charge that gives them the ability to cling to certain surfaces, such as metal nails and screws, plastics and man-made fabrics such as vinyl.

If you have drywall fastened with metal screws, chances are that you’ll find small smoke rings around the screws that have settled on the drywall. If plastic items catch fire, the smoke can create black, stringy shapes that resemble cobwebs (known as ‘smokewebs’) and hang from the wall to the ceiling.

And, of course, most upholstery can become terribly stained from smoke and in many cases you’ll find that whatever has been impacted, is simply not salvageable.

The ducts for your HVAC unit can also become infested with smoke after fire damage has occurred. Even with the unit off, smoke can still seep through the vents and make its way into rooms not even affected by fire.

Removing Smoke

If the fire damage and smoke is extensive, don’t even attempt this on your own. Some smoke damage after a small fire may be manageable on your own, but anything beyond that will need the services of a fire damage restoration professional.

And we can’t stress this enough… always have several smoke detectors in your Austin home, and test the batteries frequently.

SERVPRO of East Central Austin Fire Damage Restoration Services

Since each smoke and fire damage situation varies, it’s important to quickly repair and restore your Austin-based home as quickly as possible.
Fires are devastating, which is why SERVPRO of East Central Austin will go above and beyond to remediate and restore your property after a fire. We’ll evaluate the overall scope of your fire damage repairs and provide the proper equipment and expertise to ensure a smooth restoration process.

We’re a locally owned Austin company, and we care about the community that we serve.

We have the resources to help guide you through this time, and our employees are trained and certified professionals, who have the experience and know-how to handle your fire damage repairs. We’ll utilize our experience and high-tech
equipment to ensure that we clean and deodorize your property thoroughly.

If you’re in need of fire damage restoration, call our local Austin SERVPRO office today: 512-420-9886.

7 Must-Know Fire Damage Tips 

4/22/2019 (Permalink)

Many times fire damage can be repaired. Get some helpful tips for how to deal with fire damage to your Austin home or business.

After the Fire: How to Recover from Fire Damage

Fire damage can be devastating. After experiencing a fire in your house or business, your world may feel like it’s been turned upside down. Know that you're not alone.

According to statistics from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments responded to approximately 1,421,600 home structure fires between 2012 and 2016. These fires caused $6.5 billion in direct damage. 

Depending on the extent of the damage, knowing where and how to begin tackling the fire damage can feel overwhelming. We’ve assembled a list of 7 must-know fire damage restoration tips to help steer you in the right direction and help you get your home and life back to normal.   

Tip #1: Assess the Damage — Cautiously

While your first inclination after a fire is to get inside to assess the damage, we urge you to use caution! The flames may have been put out, but dangers still lurk in the form of soot and dirty water left behind that may make you sick. There may also be structural damage. Ask the advice of the Austin fire department if it’s safe to enter your home. Firefighters will make sure the utility services (water, electricity and gas) are safe to use, and that the roof and floors are secure before you assess any fire damage repair.

Tip #2: Contact Your Homeowner’s Insurance Company

To make sure you’re compensated properly for the damage to your Austin property, it’s important to contact your insurance company after the fire and before the fire damage cleanup begins. Your agent will instruct you on what to do first. You’ll be asked to make a list of everything that was damaged or destroyed in the fire and to describe these items in detail (including how much you paid for them and providing receipts when possible). The good news is that a standard homeowner’s insurance policy will cover fire damage to the home’s structure, as well as the homeowner’s personal property. Documenting the damage from the fire with photos and/or videos is also important. Your insurance company will also work with you to help you find a reputable fire and water restoration service. 

Tip #3: Contact a Reputable Fire Damage Restoration Company

Cleanup after a fire takes time and patience. You’ll find items that have been damaged by fire, smoke, soot and water used to put out the fire. Trusting the advice and expertise of a reputable fire damage restoration company can ensure the process runs as safely, quickly and efficiently as possible.

Response time is crucial for proper fire damage restoration. The longer you wait to address the damages, the more repairs will be needed, especially when it comes to the often subsequent water damage that also occurs as a result.

Drenched walls, furniture and other belongings can promote the growth of dangerous mold in your Austin residence or commercial property. When choosing an Austin TX fire damage restoration company, be sure to entrust your home to a company that’s licensed, bonded, insured and is certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). Trustworthy companies will do the following:

  • Perform a thorough fire damage assessment
  • Secure windows and doors with board-up services to ensure the physical safety of your property
  • Extract as much water as possible and use advanced drying and de-humidifying techniques
  • Tackle smoke and soot removal
  • Remove soot, ash and smoke residue from heating, ventilating and air-conditioning units and all ductwork
  • Remove and dispose of items that are too badly damaged to be repairable
  • Perform other cleaning, restoring and repairing services to preserve and protect your home and its contents

Tip #4: Care for Your Treasured Family Photos

As the fire and water damage specialist is busy at work bringing your home back to its pre-fire damaged condition, you’ll be eager to try to salvage as many treasured family belongings as possible, such as photographs.

Photographs that have not been burned can usually be saved. If you come across photographs that have become stuck together, don’t try to separate them by pulling them apart. Instead, soak them in slightly warm water. If the water becomes dirty change it often. It could take about an hour to loosen them. Dry them in a single layer, image-side up on a hard surface. Photos that are wet but not stuck together should be rinsed with water and dried, image-side up, in a single layer on a hard, smooth surface. Don’t dry photos in direct sunlight.

Tip #5: Throw Away These Items When You've Had Fire Damage!

Non-perishable food (such as canned foods) exposed to heat and damaged by flames or smoke should not be consumed. High heat can activate bacteria and toxic fumes can also contaminate food through sealed glass jars and aluminum cans. As a general rule, don't use canned goods when cans have bulged or are dented or rusted. Medications exposed to flames, heat and smoke should also be properly disposed.

Tip #6: Save Undamaged Property from Further Destruction

If you come across any items that aren’t damaged in your Austin TX home or business, you should put them in a safe place during the fire damage restoration process, such as in a storage facility. Check with your insurance company to see if your policy covers additional costs such as storage fees.

Tip #7: DIY Ways to Get Rid of Lingering Smoke Odors

If there’s a burnt odor that remains in your home, try using a HEPA filter air purifier. You can also try placing small bowls of baking soda, wine vinegar or activated charcoal throughout your home to help absorb the odor. Commercial odor-absorbing packets sold at home improvement stores will also help in some cases.

Final tip:

Flames, smoke, soot and water can cause significant damage to the structure of your home and your personal belongings. That’s why SERVPRO of East Central Austin is here to help you with any fire damage repair in Austin.

Our team of trained and certified professionals will be your ally throughout the process and will listen to your concerns. We will examine the extent of your fire damage repairs and provide the proper equipment and expertise to ensure a smooth restoration process, to make sure your home is restored to its pre-fire condition.

Give our local SERVPRO office a call if you need help, or have any questions.

You Can Help Protect Your Business From Fires

3/7/2019 (Permalink)

You Can Help Protect Your Business From Fires | SERVPRO® of East Central Austin - SERVPRO of East Central Austin Blog

If you are a business owner, there are plenty of safety issues that must be considered regarding risks to your business, staff and visitors. One of those risks you need to work on is fire prevention.

Leading Causes of Commercial Structure Fires

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that the leading causes of structure fires in office properties from 2007–2011 were (in order):

  1. Cooking equipment, 29% of fires
  2. Electrical distribution and lighting equipment, 12% of fires
  3. Heating equipment, 11% of fires
  4. Intentional, 10% of fires
  5. Smoking materials, 9% of fires
  6. Exposure, 4% of fires
  7. Electronic, office or entertainment equipment, 3% of fires

Three of those causes, intentional, exposure, and electrical distribution and lighting equipment, accounted for the most property damage with 20%, 18% and 15% respectively.

It was also reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that in 2007, fires and explosions accounted for 3% of all workplace fatalities.

When you take a look at more recent numbers, the NFPA estimates that from 2007–2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 3,340 fires in office properties per year. Those fires were the cause of an annual average of four deaths, 44 injuries and $112 million in direct property damage.

You Can Protect Your Business

There are steps you can take to protect your business from the risk of fires. If you focus on fire risk assessment, fire prevention and staff education, you will help reduce the chance of a fire breaking out.

First, make an assessment of your fire hazard risks. There are some local governments that provide the service of a fire marshal who can assess your risks and also provide guidance on your fire prevention plan.

You’ll want to make sure that the right fire protection equipment is in place. This includes an automatic sprinkler system, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers on each floor.

Finally, you must consider the human element of your business, the employees. When you create a fire plan and review it on a regular basis with your staff, you’ll be ensuring that everyone is educated on what to do in the event of a fire. Conducting fire drills at least once a year will keep the fire safety protocol fresh, as will taking time to review evacuation plans and knowing where the first-aid kits are located.

Despite best efforts with fire prevention and safety tips, the worst could always happen at your business. If a fire has damaged your business, SERVPRO® of East Central Austin is available to help make it "Like it never even happened."

What You Should And Shouldn't Do After An Austin Home Fire

1/31/2018 (Permalink)

Fire damage can be devastating. Here are suggestions on what you should and shouldn't do if your Austin home has a fire.

A fire can have a devastating affect on your home and your life. While the severity of a fire can range greatly, even the smallest home fire can cause problems, such as toxic fumes, an abundance of soot, in addition to the damage. Once the fire department is called, they’ll most likely use hoses and foam to put out the fire. While this puts out the fire, the excess water can lead to water damage Austin, if it's not cleaned up right away.

Once the fire is out, you should refrain from cleaning up the mess, especially if you're not sure on how to tackle the damage. Your safety can be at risk. Excess water from putting out the fire if not removed right away and properly can lead to extensive water damage Austin, and a build up of mold. If mold starts to appear, then you need to reach out to a mold remediation Austin professional.

Cleaning items such as rugs and furniture on your own may cause you to spread soot around, which will make your property even dirtier. You may also be putting your health at risk, if you don't have the proper cleaning equipment.

So, in a case where you have Texas fire damage, you need to reach out to a fire and water damage specialist who can help analyze the situation and work with you to help save your home.

What To Do After A Fire:

Avoid Soot
If you have to enter your home after a fire, do everything in your power to avoid tracking soot everywhere. If you have old and tattered towels and sheets, use them on the floor so you don’t keep moving soot everywhere. If you find that you have to move items, wear protective clothing and rubber gloves.

Unplug Your Appliances and Check Your Plumbing
If you lose your power, you should remove all of the food from your refrigerator and keep the doors open. Left over food will start to rot and then you'll have unpleasant odors to deal with. You may also have to deal with mold as well, which is extremely nasty. If this is the case, you should consider having a mold inspection Austin,to ensure that it doesn’t spread.

Check your other appliances to make sure that they weren't damaged. If they don't look right, then don’t use them.You should also examine your plumbing fixtures; if they’re covered with soot, then wipe them off as best as possible.

Keep Your HVAC System Clean
Soot can get into your HVAC system, if you don't cover it right after the fire. Find durable fabrics to cover the unit, so that you can help keep out any soot particles. If you need to use your HVAC, have it checked by a professional before you do.

What Not To Do After A Fire:

Don't Clean Your Walls
You may think that basic household cleaner and paper towels will clean up all the soot on your walls; it's quite the opposite. Soot is filthy and extremely messy. While you may think that cleaning is the answer, you'll find yourself spreading soot all over the place. Your walls will become even dirtier than before and you may have to repaint them, or even replace them.

Don't Clean Your Rugs
The same advice applies to rugs and carpets. If they're immersed with soot, then using a household cleaner will just spread it around. Your rugs may also be soaked with water, so don't try to vacuum this or draw out the water on your own; reach out to a professional for water removal Austin. A light colored rug, for example, will suddenly turn dark, and the soot will be impossible to remove. The same goes for any type of upholstery or fabric. Leave it be until the professionals arrive, as they have the equipment to clean these items properly.

Don't Clean Your Appliances and Electronics
In the aftermath of a fire, your electronics and appliances may be damaged, but you might not even be aware of it. Heat and water can damage such items beyond repair; so if they're unplugged, make sure, with the assistance of a professional, that they are functional before you plug them in. Take every precaution to avoid the likelihood or starting another fire.

Don't Use Any Electronic Devices
You should make sure that your electricity is good to go before you even consider plugging in any electronic devices, as this could be a safety issue. Excessive fire and water damage Austin can cause some electric items such as ceiling fans and lights to short out, causing more problems. Have a fire damage professional or an electrician inspect your circuits before using any appliances or electronics.

Don't Eat Any Contaminated Food
If your pantry and refrigerator have been affected by fire damage, you should immediately discard any opened items, as they could be contaminated. If anything is covered with soot, or has had contact with excessive heat, then it should go. Some foods such as canned goods may be salvageable, but don't risk this…consult with a fire damage professional about what can and cannot be saved in the aftermath of a fire.

Don't Have a Dry Cleaner Restore Your Clothes
You'll find that some dry cleaners have experience in cleaning clothes that have been affected by fire and water damage, while others do not. Soot can be problematic, especially if you deal with a cleaner who isn’t properly equipped for this task. Make sure you find a cleaner who has the knowledge to handle extremely dirty and damaged clothing, especially after fire and water damage.

Why You Should Choose SERVPRO After Fire Damage Austin

If your Austin home has experienced fire damage, you need to repair and restore as much of your property as fast as possible.

Fires can be traumatic, and the aftermath, including smoke damage, water damage, and the onset of mold, can be extremely distressing. SERVPRO of East Central Austin will diligently investigate, remediate and restore your Austin home in the aftermath of a fire. We'll examine the extent of your fire damage repairs and provide the proper equipment and expertise to ensure a smooth restoration process.

Our team of trained and certified professionals have the experience and knowledge to tackle all of your fire damage repairs. If you're in need of help, call our local Austin SERVPRO office today: 512-420-9886.

How to Keep Your Home Safe During the Holidays

12/2/2017 (Permalink)

An unattended stove can cause fire damage, not just during the holidays, but at any time.

The holidays are upon us and you’re all set to decorate your Austin home. While it’s easy to get caught up in decorating, cooking, baking and visiting with family and friends, it’s also easy to overlook things that can be dangerous if not checked, such as potential fire hazards and fire damage and even water damage Austin.

You don’t want any type of Texas fire damage to affect your home during this time of year. So, here are a few precautions that can help you have a safe holiday.

Preventing Kitchen Fires

If you’re planning on doing a lot of cooking for the holidays, you should always be focused on what’s on your stove. Never leave any pots or pans that are being used unattended. Keep any potentially flammable items away from the stove while you’re cooking, including paper products such as napkins and plates, wooden spoons, and fabric items such as dishtowels and potholders.

You should also stay alert while you’re cooking. A lack of sleep or too much eggnog can impair your ability to focus on your holiday dinner. Most holiday related fires are actually cooking related, especially during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Preventing Fire Hazards While Decorating Your Austin Home

While it’s typically warm in Austin, it can get cold during the holidays. If this is the case, you should make sure that any holiday decorations are nowhere near a heat source. This includes gas and wood fireplaces, space heaters, radiators, and other appliances that can produce heat. Most decorations catch fire when they’re placed near a heat source, so use extreme caution.

Candles are a major cause of fires during the holidays. If you need to use candles as part of your decorations, then use flameless, battery operated ones instead of traditional candles. These offer the same decorative effect without the risk of fire. If you do use regular candles, make sure that they’re placed in secure holders, and keep them far from flammable items such as curtains or fabrics. Always make sure that you’re there when they’re being used - never leave them unattended.

Fire Hazards with Holiday Lights and Christmas Trees

Christmas trees have the potential to be extremely dangerous if not properly monitored. If you do get a cut Christmas tree, make sure it’s firmly mounted in a durable stand and placed far from any heat source, where it can dry out and potentially catch fire. Check your tree’s water levels daily and make sure that it has plenty of water. A dry Christmas tree can go up quickly, so make sure that there’s plenty of hydration.

If you already have holiday lights, plug them in to check that they’re in good condition and that they don’t heat up. Any faulty lights that don’t work, heat up, or have frayed cords should be discarded and replaced with new ones. You do not want to put damaged lights on your Christmas tree, as this can cause a fire. You should never leave your holiday and tree lights plugged in when you aren’t home or if you’re sleeping - always unplug them. As for your tree decorations, make sure that you use non-combustible and flame-resistant items to prevent fire damage.

If you have young children, safeguard your house and your decorations at least six inches out of their reach so that they can’t get to them.

It’s very important not to overload extension cords or power strips. Check the wattage of your extension cords and surge protectors before you start plugging several strips of lights into them. Any lights or extension cords that you plan on using should be UL listed.

If you do a fair share of outdoor decorating, use lights that are only designated for outdoor use, and if you do hang lights outdoors, use a wooden ladder to drastically reduce the likelihood of electric shock. You should also have someone assist you while you’re hanging lights outside, in the event that you should slip and fall - never do this alone.

Of course, the holidays are meant to be a fun time to get together with friends and family, but they should also be safe. Accidents and unexpected fires happen at an alarming rate every year during this time, so please take these precautions to ensure that you have a safe holiday.

SERVPRO Can Help With Your Holiday Safety Questions

SERVPRO of East Central Austin is locally-owned and specializes in water extraction Austin, water restoration Austin, mold inspections and mold remediation, fire damage, residential and commercial cleaning services, and more.

Give us a call if you find yourself in need of any ideas or suggestions on how to keep your home safe during the holidays.

Be safe and Happy Holidays!

Tips for Preventing Fire Damage in Your Austin Home or Business

6/16/2017 (Permalink)

Fire damage, leading to additional water damage, smoke damage and more. Tips on how to prevent fire from occurring in your Austin property.

Keeping Your Austin Property Safe from a Fire

Austin residents and business owners often don't realize the many steps they can take to prevent their home or business from becoming the victim of a fire. Here's are some helpful tips, explaining how to better protect your home or business from possible fire hazards.

If you've already experienced a fire, and aren't sure what to expect in terms of fire damage repairs and cleanup, be sure to check out our article, How to Handle Fire Damage in Your Austin Home or Business.

1. Fireplaces and Chimneys: If you have a fireplace or wood burning stove in Austin, it’s highly recommended that your chimney be cleaned regularly by a professional at least once a year. Creosote buildup from excessive use can start a hazardous chimney fire, and you can suffer a good amount of damage before you realize a chimney fire has begun.

Have your chimney cleaned by a professional at least once a year. Don't rely on creosote-reducing logs to clean your chimney for you. These logs are seen as a quick fix, but they will not be able to remove all of the creosote, nor should they in any manner be a replacement for a professional chimney sweep and maintenance.

Ongoing basic maintenance of your fireplace or stove, will greatly improve its performance and will help prevent chimney fires and other types of fire damage repairs from being needed in the future.

When using a wood burning stove or fireplace, you'll also want to make sure you never dump your ashes in the trash, as the ashes can smolder for long periods of time. When disposing of ashes, be sure to take them outside directly and dispose of them in a safe manner.

2. Dryers and Lint: Many people don't realize that lint can be a strong fire hazard. It's important to remove lint from your dyer every time you use it. Lint is combustible, and when heat builds up in the dryer vents, a spark can occur if the flow of air is restricted.

The lint can catch fire. In addition to removing the lint out of your filter, be sure to also check your dryer duct tubes for any lint buildup.

3. Fire Hazards that Stem from Outside the Home: Austin is known to experience grass fires and wildfires every once in a while. If you have a firewood pile near your home, you should move it and any other potential burnable items, such as twigs and leaves.

If wood and leaves are dry and next to your property, they can go up in flames fairly quickly, causing major fire damage. In the kitchen, flammable items, such as dishrags, paper bags and other flammables should be kept away from your stove and oven. And it goes without saying, if you’re a smoker, try not to smoke inside, and be careful when you do smoke.

4. Surge Protectors, a Worthy Investment: Not every property has abundant electrical outlets to run our gadgets, computers, and stereos. If this is the case, then a surge protector can be very beneficial in the long run.

Surge protectors are designed to replace outdated multi outlet power strips in the event of a power spike or a shut off during an electric storm or power outage. If you have an old style power strip with so many cords sticking out of it that it looks like an octopus, then you know it’s time to upgrade. 

Surge protectors are worthy investments, because most power strips are often cheaply made and can overload your circuits, leading to fires and fire damage.

5. Upgrade with New Extension Cords: We all have extension cords in cabinets, drawers or in the garage. However, some of them may be quite old and not as functional as they once were. It's important to use extension cords that are durable and high quality.

If you have extension cords that are more than a few years old, you should replace them with new ones of durable quality. Frayed and mangled cords are unreliable; they can spark, go up in smoke and can lead to fire damage.

6. Smoke Outside: We know that smoking isn't good for us, and we're not here to sell you on quitting smoking. But if you are a smoker, do your best to smoke outside.

And keep yourself a slight distance from your property. Smoldering cigars and cigarettes can fall and start a fire regardless if you’re inside or outside.

Make sure you don't smoke while in bed. Many fires are started by individuals who fall asleep while smoking…do as much as you can to prevent this from happening.

7. Lightning: While lightning is natural occurrence, and something that we can't control, you can take certain preventative measures to keep your Austin home or business from being hit by lightning. This guide by the National Lightning Safety Institute offers some helpful ideas on how to lightning-proof your property.

8. Check Your Electrical Wiring: Like anything else, time takes its toll on electrical wiring within your home or business. It's important to have your electrical wiring checked regularly by an electrician to avoid electrical fires from occurring in your Austin property.

How Our Local SERVPRO Office Can Help in the Event of Fire Damage

If your Austin-based home or business has suffered from fire damage, it’s important to quickly repair and restore as much of your property as possible.

A fire can be devastating, and the additional damage from a fire can include smoke damage, water damage, mold and more. SERVPRO of East Central Austin will take every effort to remediate and restore your property after a fire. We’re here to help you evaluate the overall scope of your fire damage repairs and provide the proper equipment and expertise to ensure a smooth restoration process.

We’re a locally owned Austin company, and we care about the community that we serve. We recognize how overwhelmed you're likely to be after experiencing a fire. We have the resources to help guide you through this time, and our employees are trained and certified professionals, who have the experience and know-how to handle your fire damage repairs. If you’re in need of fire damage restoration, call our local Austin SERVPRO office today: 512-420-9886.

How to Handle Fire Damage in Your Austin Home or Business

6/9/2017 (Permalink)

Fire engulfing a home, leading to extensive fire damage & smoke damage.

Having your property be victim to a fire is probably one of the scariest things a person can experience. Although there are different types of fires, any fire can wreak havoc on your Austin based home or business, leaving you with extensive fire damage repairs. A small fire may not be as severe; you may be able to make some of these repairs on your own. But if the fire damage is extreme, you’ll need to reach out to a professional fire damage restoration company.

Here are some tips that will help you understand the different types of fire damage, how they can affect your property, and how you can take certain actions to prevent fires before they begin.

What Should You Do if a Fire Occurs in Your Austin based Home or Business?

A fire occurs and you manage to get everyone out of the house/building… Once the fire is out, the first thing you’ll want to do is review all of the fire damage. It may be extreme or it may be minimal, but you’ll need to act quickly in determining the extent of the damage, and deciphering if professional fire damage restoration will be needed to fix your Austin property.

Minor damage may be easy to fix on your own, extreme damage will most likely be beyond your ability to repair it. There’s a possibility you’ll need to replace your furniture if it’s been severely damaged, as well as your cabinets, doors, walls and even floorboards.

Even your roof can be subject to fire damage, requiring repair. Should your roof suffer damage, you’ll have to protect the rest of your home or business from not just foreign objects, like falling branches, but also high winds and rainstorms, which happen quite often in Austin. Theft and looting is also a problem, so while assessing the damage to your property, you also need to secure it as best as possible…you shouldn’t have to be vandalized while trying to perform fire damage repairs.

Smoke Damage: An Inevitable Symptom of a Fire

While a fire has the tendency to lead to destruction, depending on its severity, smoke is one lingering effect that in some cases can be even worse, because it’s so difficult to clean. Should you have a small fire with limited fire damage repairs, smoke residue may be one of the most problematic elements. If the smoke residue isn't tackled quickly, you may find yourself dealing with persistent foul odors in your Austin property, as well as stained furniture, carpets walls and floors.

Believe it or not, there are several different types of smoke damage. Some are easy to remedy, while others need professional attention.

  • Dry Smoke occurs when a fire burns hot and fast. However, it’s often one of the easier types to clean, as the smoke is often quite dry and has a powdery texture.
  • Wet Smoke is often associated with smoldering fires at low temperatures. This has a tendency to leave strong odors and heavy smearing once the fire is put out. The smearing makes it difficult to clean.
  • Protein Residue: Paints and varnishes, like polyurethane can become discolored during a fire, and hard to clean. Elements such as this will most likely requires more intense fire damage repairs.
  • Oil residue results from fires in which petroleum products, such as propane, gasoline and diesel fuel, among others, are involved. The residue is often very sticky, making it time consuming to clean.

Water Damage: The Other Effect of Fire Damage

Water damage can play an integral role in a fire. While you may think that your pipes are safe, some of them are not quite as heat tolerant as others, depending on the material. Metal pipes tend to take the heat well, while plastic pipes usually don’t. If you have a fire, there’s a strong possibility that your pipes may burst from the heat, causing major water leaks and flooding in your Austin home or business.

Depending on the intensity of the fire, water will be needed to actually put it out, therefore causing another layer of damage to your property - water damage. It’s best to remove as much water as you can immediately. If left alone, the affected areas can fall victim to the spread of mold, and they will need to be properly cleaned, dried and remediated.

If you suffer from a large fire, you may find yourself overwhelmed and unable to tackle any repairs on your own. If you need fire damage repairs and/or smoke damage cleanup and water extraction in the Austin and Manor area, and the situation is beyond your control, SERVPRO of East Central Austin can help.

Additional Issues that Can Result from Fire Damage

Electrical wiring, plumbing and appliances can also be subject to fire damage. Even the tiniest amount of smoke can cause problems with your household appliances, since they’re manufactured to take limited amounts of heat. Smoke is also quite corrosive, which can cause appliances to overheat, cause a spark or break down in the process.

If your appliances experience problems, give them a thorough inspection, so they don’t cause problems down the road. In certain situations, you may actually spend less money replacing them than having them repaired.

Another potential problem you could face is if your Austin home or business has tight insulation. Tight insulation has the potential to create a heavy smoke buildup in the vent of a fire. The insulation can exacerbate the increase in temperature, which adds to the internal pressure. If extreme heat persists, the amount of pressure can cause windows and even doors to explode, leading to more repairs.

If you find yourself in a situation that is too much to handle on your own, with extensive fire damage repairs needed, and smoke and water damage cleanup as well, calling a professional fire damage restoration company like SERVPRO of East Central Austin will certainly be your best bet.

Our professionally trained and certified SERVPRO team can lead you through the process, and help make your Austin fire damage "Like it never even happened." And in order to prevent fires in the future and help protect your Austin property from fire damage, be sure to check out Part 2 of this article: Tips for Preventing Fire Damage in Your Austin Home or Business.