Recent Fire Damage Posts

Puffbacks: A Bigger Issue Than Just a Call To Your Furnace Repairman

2/16/2019 (Permalink)

Despite the increasing number of viable alternative heating methods available on the market, a large number of people in Maine and New England still rely on oil furnaces to heat their homes and businesses. Modern heating systems are very reliable and dependable; most issues can be readily addressed by a qualified professional. Unfortunately, the malfunction commonly known as the "puff back" is not so easily dealt with.

A puffback is an explosion inside the burner chamber of the furnace, similar to the backfiring of a car. While there are a number of causes - such as excessive debris or a buildup of oil fumes prior to burner ignition - the resulting explosion can shoot soot and debris through the furnace's exhaust system...and into your home.

This soot is not just a powder-like substance; instead, it is black, sticky and will include a mixture of oil that is difficult to clean. Walls, ceilings, carpets, furniture and curtains are coated with a fine film of soot and smoky streaks. Typically, the damage is worse with a forced-air heating system or central air-conditioning, because the duct work provides a path through the house, even into closets. In addition to the soot, a puff back causes a foul odor to permeate your home. Oil-based soot is extremely difficult to remove and needs to be cleaned as soon as possible.

Fortunately, SERVPRO of Augusta/Waterville has the knowledge and experience to take care of difficult problems such as this. Since each puffback situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored for the specific conditions.  We have the equipment, expertise, and experience to restore your home or business, while also treating your family with empathy and respect and your property with care.

In the event of a puffback - or any fire, smoke or water emergency - call SERVPRO of Augusta/Waterville - We are always here to help!

Stress and Disruption From Fire Damage

1/13/2019 (Permalink)

This fire affected a 6 unit apartment building in Farmington. The owner promptly called our office and we had a crew onsite the next day!

A home or business fire can be a very stressful event for the property owner. Damage to personal belongings and the contents of the building is just one concern. Timely mitigation is the key to controlling damage, while reducing downtime and recovery cost$$$! We understand how disruptive fires can be for business owners, tenants and even customers. That is why SERVPRO of Augusta/Waterville offers 24 hour emergency response. Don't proscratinate on making the call to start the mitigation process. A rapid response cuts loss of time and money.

A call to SERVPRO of Augusta/Waterville will help limit damage and get your home or facility back in operation quickly.

Space Heater Safety Tips

10/20/2018 (Permalink)

Portable electric space heaters can be a convenient source of supplemental heat for your home in cold weather. Unfortunately, they can pose significant fire and electric shock hazards if not used properly. Fire and electrical hazards can be caused by space heaters without adequate safety features, space heaters placed near combustibles, or space heaters that are improperly plugged in.
 
It is estimated that portable electric heaters account for 1200 fires per year.  Safety should always be a top consideration when using space heaters. Here are some tips for keeping your home safe and warm when it’s cold outside:

  • Make sure your space heater has the label showing that it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Before using any space heater, read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels carefully.
  • Inspect heaters for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections before each use. If frayed, worn or damaged, do not use the heater.
  • Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off when you're leaving a room or going to sleep, and don't let pets or children play too close to a space heater.
  • Space heaters are only meant to provide supplemental heat and should never be used to warm bedding, cook food, dry clothing or thaw pipes.
  • Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and outside all sleeping areas and test them once a month.
  • Proper placement of space heaters is critical. Heaters must be kept at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including papers, clothing and rugs.
  • Locate space heaters out of high traffic areas and doorways where they may pose a tripping hazard.
  • Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Do not use an extension cord or power strip, which could overheat and result in a fire. Do not plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater.
  • Place space heaters on level, flat surfaces. Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture, or carpet, which can overheat and start a fire.
  • Always unplug and safely store the heater when it is not in use.

Tips As We Head Into the Heating Season

9/8/2018 (Permalink)

September is already here...which means Fall is just around the corner. Soon, temperatures will begin to cool - especially at night - which means it will be time to fire up the fireplaces, turn on the furnace, and get that space heater out of storage. These are all great ways to keep homes toasty and warm, but they also increase the risk of residential fires. Be sure to follow the safety tips below when preparing to heat your home as we head into the Fall and Winter months:

Fireplaces

  • Inspect your chimney regularly for cracks and obstructions.
  • Don't let creosote build up in your chimney, as it could set off a roof fire.
  • Don't "over build" your fire using too much paper. You could ignite the soot in your chimney.
  • Never burn charcoal in your fireplace. It gives off deadly carbon monoxide.
  • Keep your damper open if there are hot ashes in your fireplace. Closing the damper could enable hot ashes to heat up and cause a damaging fire.
  • Let ashes cool in a sealed metal container.

Furnaces

  • Before you turn on your furnace, have it inspected by a qualified professional.
  • Make sure to check the condition of the automatic controls and emergency shutoffs.
  • If the walls and ceiling around your furnace feel too warm, add insulation or additional clearance space.
  • Keep all trash and combustibles away from the furnace.
  • Check your chimney for cracks or loose bricks.
  • Seal all unused flue openings with solid masonry.

Space Heaters

  • Make sure your space heater has a working safety light, alarm, automatic shut-off switch, and a cut-off device to prevent overheating.
  • Keep all objects, people and pets at least three feet away from the heater.
  • Never use a space heater in your bathroom. Water and electric appliances don't mix.

Heating your home is extremely important, but it's equally as important to do so safely.

The reality is, even after doing all of these things, a fire can happen when you least expect it.  If it does happen to you, please know that SERVPRO of Augusta/Waterville is ready to help.  

Central Maine Smoke and Soot Cleanup

2/18/2018 (Permalink)

Smoke and soot is very invasive and can penetrate various cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. Our smoke damage expertise and experience allows us to inspect and accurately assess the extent of the damage to develop a comprehensive plan of action.

Smoke and Soot Facts

  • Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.
  • Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor.
  • The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process.

Different Types of Smoke

There are two different types of smoke–wet and dry. As a result, there are different types of soot residue after a fire. Before restoration begins, SERVPRO of Augusta/Waterville will test the soot to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. The cleaning procedures will then be based on the information identified during pretesting. Here is some additional information:

Wet Smoke – Plastic and Rubber

  • Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.

Dry Smoke – Paper and Wood

  • Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises therefore smoke rises.

Protein Fire Residue – Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire

  • Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor. 

Our Fire Damage Restoration Services

Since each smoke and fire damage situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored for the specific conditions.  We have the equipment, expertise, and experience to restore your fire and smoke damage.  We will also treat your family with empathy and respect and your property with care.

Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
Call Us Today – 207-622-7166