Winter Prep Profile: Preventing Frozen Pipes
Photo of a frozen pipe courtesy of the American Red Cross.
In last week’s Winter Prep Profile Team SERVPRO of West Brown County gave you a rundown of steps you can (and should!) take to prepare your home and/or business for the winter weather to come. One of the most important of those steps is preventing your pipes from freezing!
And, as we said last week, this is such an important step, we feel it deserves its very own profile.
As you probably know, freezing weather makes water freeze and when water freezes it expands. That means if water freezes in a pipe, whether that pipe is made of metal or plastic, that frozen water can be strong enough to break that pipe. And if a pipe breaks, that can lead to serious consequences like flooding and water damage in your home or business.
SERVPRO of West Brown County does not want to see you experience any of that damage this winter. So, we’re sharing the American Red Cross’s advice for preventing frozen pipes. First, here’s a list of the pipes the Red Cross says are most likely to freeze:
- Any pipes that are outside and exposed to severe cold. These include outdoor hose bibs, sprinkler lines and swimming pool supply lines.
- Water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets.
- Pipes that run along exterior walls with little or no insulation.
To prevent these pipes from freezing the Red Cross advises the following:
- Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer's or installer's directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed.
- Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
- Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces.
- Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
- Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
- Consider running water (even a drip) through faucets served by exposed pipes on extremely cold days.
- Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both day and night.
- If you leave for an extended period of time, keep your thermostat at at least 55 degrees.
According to the Red Cross, if you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, you likely have a frozen pipe. You can try to fix the problem by taking the following steps:
- Keep the faucet open. Running water will help thaw the pipe. You will also be able to tell when the problem is fixed when water starts running normally again.
- Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. DO NOT use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
- If you cannot find the frozen area or fix the problem on your own, call a licensed plumber right away.
- If you have one frozen pipe, check other faucets in your home to see if you have others.
And remember, if worse comes worst and you do experience a frozen pipe that leads to water damage at your home or business, you can call us any time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (even on holidays!) at 920-434-8224.
Continuing Education Classes Coming Up
At SERVPRO of West Brown County, one thing we take great pride in is providing continuing education classes. These classes are aimed at our friends in the insurance business and help keep their licenses up to date!
This coming March 12th (of 2019), we will be holding two seminars at the Marq on French Road in De Pere.
The first seminar will deal with ethics and will run from 8:00am through 11:00am. Registration for this course will start at 7:15am. 100% completion of this course will result in three insurance credit hours.
The second seminar will deal with biohazard cleanup and will run from 11:30am to 1:30pm. Registration for this course will start at 11:15am. 100% completion of this course will result in two insurance credit hours.
The only cost to attend these seminars is a $5.00 state credit processing fee per attendee.
Continental breakfast will be provided by Sherwin Williams and lunch will be provided by Electronic Restoration Services.
To reserve your spot or ask any questions, reach out to Jim Knopf at 920-434-8224 or at jknopf@SERVPROgreenbay.com.
We hope to see you out there!
Winter Prep Profile: Your Home or Business
We’re officially into December and with a new month, comes new Profile Friday subjects!
This month we’re focusing on how you can prepare for the deep winter months to come.
At this point, we’re not even officially into winter yet, but we’re already experiencing wintry conditions. So, it’s good to take the necessary precautions now before conditions get worse.
In this profile, we’re going to talk about steps you can take to ensure your home and/or business is ready for the season. (Most of this advice can be used in either your home or business!)
The American Red Cross recommends the following advice:
- Protect your pipes from freezing (this is such an important step, we’re going to do an entire blog on it in our profile next week!)
- Make sure your home heating sources are installed properly and are clean and in good, working condition.
- Make sure your home is properly insulated.
- Caulk or weather-strip any drafty doors or windows.
- Install storm windows.
- Consider buying back up heating sources like a wood stove or space heater. Make sure those heating sources are properly cleaned and maintained.
- Make sure to keep extra fuel for heating sources on hand in case of storms. (But, make sure to take caution with extra fuel sources to protect against fires.)
- Consider installing a portable generator.
- Ensure you have carbon monoxide detectors installed on every level of your home and in every bedroom.
- Consider buying flood insurance. Flood insurance is not part of a home-owner’s policy, but is purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program.
- Clean your gutters.
- Look for loose tree limbs and other debris in your yard that could be blown around during a storm and get rid of them so they don’t cause damage to your property.
- Make sure your sump pump is working.
It’s also a good time to remind you about Winter Storm and Blizzard Warnings. According to the Red Cross, a Winter Storm Warning means that life-threatening, severe winter conditions have begun or will begin in the next 24 hours. The Red Cross says a Blizzard Warning means there will be sustained winds or frequent gusts of 35 miles per hour or greater, plus considerable falling or blowing snow reducing visibility to less than a quarter mile, expected to prevail for three hours or longer.
If severe weather is in the forecast, make sure to prepare your home with the supplies you need to ride out the storm. It’s also a good idea to stay home during bad weather if you can! If you must be on the road, take precautions and look out for our winter prep profile about safety in your car!
Bell Ringing for the Salvation Army
Jim and Bill bell ringing
It’s become a tradition for SERVPRO of West Brown County employees to volunteer as bell ringers for the Salvation Army of Greater Green Bay’s annual Red Kettle Campaign.
This year the marketing team, which includes Jim, Bill and Alex have been ringing for donations at the Festival Foods in Suamico on Tuesday afternoons.
The trio has been having a lot of fun getting out in the community for a good cause. They’ve been singing and ringing, talking to people and handing out candy.
It’s not just about having a good time though, the money raised through the Red Kettle campaign will go on to help thousands of families in Brown County throughout the year. The local Salvation Army provides all kinds of services to those in need from serving hot lunches every Monday through Friday, to organizing toy and coat drives, to assisting families with energy bills, to distributing food to the hungry.
The Salvation Army does a lot of good work, both locally and internationally and we are so happy to play a teeny tiny role in that great mission.
We recommend anyone who’s interested to consider bell ringing, even an hour of time can make a difference! The Salvation Army has a lot of hours to fill with ringers and the red kettles fill up much faster when there is someone ringing.
For more information on how you can volunteer, check out the Salvation Army of Greater Green Bay website here: https://app.betterimpact.com/PublicOrganization/b946a969-edef-41a4-a666-fd4cf1e93bc8/3.
And if you see the SERVPRO team out there, stop, say hello and ask for a song in exchange for your donation…they will definitely sing for you!
Holiday Prep Profile: Christmas Trees
Photo of a decorated tree courtesy of the American Christmas Tree Association.
As we reflect on our Thanksgiving and look forward to the rest of the holiday season, for many of us, this time of year would not be the same without a Christmas tree.
It’s likely you’ve already started to see lots full of trees popping up all over town, maybe noticing the well-lit evergreens appearing in your neighbors’ windows, or, possibly, you’ve even set up your own tree! These festive firs bring back fond memories for many of Christmases past.
And while the tree if often the centerpiece of the Christmas decorations in many homes, the holiday symbol does come with dangers. We do hate always being the bearers of bad news here, but according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Christmas trees are responsible for about 210 home fires each year in the United States, leaving behind about $13 million in damage.
So, what can you do to ensure your Christmas tree is safe for the season?
First, the NFPA, advises using a modern, artificial tree from a reputable company. These artificial trees are less likely than live trees to start a fire (although you should still make sure to use proper lights on artificial trees and to turn off the lights when you go to bed or leave your home).
However, if you cannot imagine an artificial tree in your home and a real, live tree is the only one for you, there are precautions you can take to lessen your fire risk. The NFPA advises the following:
- Choose a very fresh, green tree with needles that do not fall off when touched.
- Make sure the tree is at least three feet from any heat source like fireplaces, candles or heat vents.
- Make sure to water the tree daily.
- Make sure the tree is not blocking any exits.
- Use only lights from reputable companies that have been independently tested.
- Replace any lights with damaged bulbs or cords.
- NEVER use lit candles to decorate the tree.
- Do not overload electrical outlets.
- Turn off lights when you go to bed or leave the house.
- Get rid of the tree after Christmas, or as soon as it starts to lose its needles.
Please keep these safety measures in mind as you get into the holiday spirit this year.
Enjoy the holidays, be safe and, remember, you can call us any day of the year, at any time of the day at 920-434-8224.
Holiday Prep Profile: Christmas Lights
Christmas lights courtesy of NFPA.
Thanksgiving has just passed and we here at SERVPRO of West Brown County in Green Bay hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday!
As you recover from turkey and pumpkin pie overload, you might already be starting to look ahead to what’s next…we’re talking the big one…Christmas!
It might seem early to some, late to others, but for many it’s time to start planning your holiday decorations, including lights! As always, we’re here to help…well, we can’t come hang your lights for you, but we HAVE compiled a list of helpful tips to keep you safe while you turn your home into a winter wonderland!
Christmas lights are beautiful, but they do come with safety concerns whether they’re hanging inside or outside your home. They can be responsible for fires and injuries during the hanging process. According to the National Fire Protection Association, holiday decorations cause 860 house fires each year (that number does NOT include fires caused by Christmas trees).
So, please, take this advice and be safe.
Starting with indoor Christmas light decorations, the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) advises the following:
- Use LED lights, which use less energy and run cooler than incandescent lights.
- If you DO use incandescent lights, never connect more than three strands together.
- Plan your light displays according to the outlets in your home.
- Carefully inspect each electrical decoration. Cracked or damaged sockets, loose or bare wires, and loose connections may cause a serious shock or start a fire.
- Follow all the manufacturer’s directions for displaying lights.
- Do not overload electrical outlets.
- Make sure wires and chords are not pinched in doors, windows or under anything heavy. Ensure wires are not twisted.
- Turn off all decorations before leaving the house or going to sleep.
Now that we’ve taken a look inside, let’s take a look outside. The ESFI recommends these steps when hanging holiday lights outdoors:
- Make sure any lights or extension cords you plan to use are marked for outdoor use.
- Match power needs (amperage) of electrical products with amperage rating of extension cords.
- Outdoor electric lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).
- Inspect all lights, decorations and extension cords before using.
- Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, the house, or other firm supports to protect them from wind damage, but take care not to attach the lights in a way that could damage the cord’s insulation.
- Avoid overloading electrical outlets with too many decorations or electrical devices. They can overheat and cause a fire.
- Do not mount or support light strings in a way that might damage the cord’s insulation.
- As with the indoor lights, turn off all outdoor lights before leaving home or going to bed.
And finally, make sure you get the lights up without hurting yourself. To do so, ESFI says:
- Inspect ladders for loose or missing screws, hinges, bolts, and nuts before using.
- Use wooden or fiberglass ladders. Don’t use metal ladders, as they conduct electricity.
- Use the correct ladder height, ensuring the ladder extends beyond the height of the roof by at least 3 feet.
- When decorating keep yourself and your equipment at least ten feet away from powerlines.
Have fun and get creative this holiday season, but make sure, as always, to keep yourself, your family and your home safe!
And should you ever need us for holiday mishaps, like fire damage, water damage, mold and more, call us anytime (even on Holidays themselves!) at 920-434-8224.
Holiday Prep Profile: Deep Frying a Turkey
Turkey photo courtesy of NFPA.
We’re less than a week away from one of the most delicious holidays of the year. That’s right, Thanksgiving is almost upon us.
Most people who plan to host family and friends this year already have a plan in place for what they’re going to cook: what sides they’ll make, what dessert they’ll serve and how they’ll prepare the main dish, the turkey.
And while most home chefs will probably put old Tom Turkey in the oven for the traditional roasting, some cooks will likely try something more adventurous: deep frying.
Deep frying a turkey can certainly create something delicious, but it is one of the most dangerous activities of the holiday.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there are five major concerns when it comes to turkey frying:
- Turkey fryers can easily tip over spilling hot cooking oil over a large area.
- An overfilled cooking pot will cause cooking oil to spill when the turkey is put in, and a frozen turkey will cause cooking oil to splatter when you put it in the pot.
- Even a small amount of cooking oil spilling on a hot burner can cause a large fire.
- Without thermostat controls, deep fryers can overheat oil to the point of starting a fire.
- The sides of the cooking pot, lid and pot handles can get dangerously hot.
So, if you’re planning to try out deep frying a turkey this year, you need to be prepared and take serious precautions to avoid any of those above concerns.
State Farm Insurance Company has a long list of safety steps you should take:
- Keep outdoor fryers off decks, out of garages and away from trees and bushes.
- Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and dry before frying to keep oil from splattering.
- Do NOT operate a fryer outdoors in the rain or snow.
- Place the fryer on a level surface and don’t move it once it’s in use.
- Follower the manufacturer’s directions to avoid overfilling the oil.
- Choose a smaller turkey, between 8 and 10 pounds for frying.
- Never leave fryer unattended.
- Use a fryer with temperature controls. Watch the controls to make sure the oil does not get too hot. If the oil starts smoking, turn off the fryer.
- Turn off the burner before putting the turkey in the fryer. Once the turkey is in the fryer, turn the burner back on.
- Wear goggles and over mitts to protect your eyes and arms.
- Keep an ABC-rated fire extinguisher (one that can be used on grease fires) on hand. Never try to put out a grease fire with water.
- Keep children and pets away from fryers at all times.
- Once finished, carefully remove the pot from the burner. Allow the oil to cool overnight before disposing of it.
Keep in mind that, even if you follow all the safety tips, frying a turkey still comes with risks. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association and State Farm recommend using an oil-less fryer, one that uses infrared heat instead of oil, to fry your turkey. Both organizations say that is the safest option.
Whatever you decide for your Thanksgiving celebration, we wish you a very happy one!
And if you should even need our help with fire damage restoration in the Green Bay area, we’re just a phone call away at 920-434-8224.
Mold and Cold: What You Need to Know
Photo of mold inside a home.
We’ve written and posted many times about mold in the past.
So, by now you probably know that it’s a sneaky fungus that grows given three optimal conditions: a food source, moisture and an ideal temperature (70-90 degrees are most conducive to mold growth, but the spores can thrive anywhere from 32 to 120 degrees).
But as much as you might know about mold, did you know the cold, late fall and winter months can be ideal times for mold to grow in your home?
This may come as a surprise since we know mold likes those warmer temperatures. However, despite the cold air outside and dry air from heating systems inside, certain areas of the house may be more prone to warm, humid air than they would during other times of the year.
Bathrooms and kitchens are two areas that get a lot of hot, steamy air and they may not have the proper ventilation to let that steam out. This can be a particular problem in winter, because you’re less likely to have any windows open when the weather outside is frightful. Mold will take any chance it can get to start growing in that nice, humid environment.
And as the cold air from outside hitting windows and doorways meets hot air from inside the home, condensation will likely develop around those windows and doors. Mold loves to grow where condensation exists.
Another concern with cold weather and mold is that the fungus can and does flourish in dead vegetation (like those leaves that may be covering your yard as we speak!). Even a frost is unlikely to kill mold spores, so when you walk through those dead leaves and then into your house, the spores can hitch a ride on your shoes or clothes. The more spores that make it inside, the more likely you’re going to have a mold problem.
No matter the season, it’s always a good idea to be on the lookout for mold in your home. If you see it growing, you can always count on SERVPRO of West Brown County for help with mold remediation. Call us any time at 920-434-8224.
Holiday Prep Profile: Fire Extinguishers
Fire extinguisher photo, courtesy of OSHA.
It is officially November!
Halloween is behind us, Thanksgiving and Christmas are still ahead, and while it might be too early for some to hear Christmas carols on the radio and in the stores, it’s NEVER to early to do some safety prep for the holiday season.
On Fridays this month we will take a look at some different safety considerations you might want to take before your celebrations begin.
For our first Holiday Prep Profile, we’re going to talk about fire extinguishers.
Why fire extinguishers? Well, according to the National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA (one of our favorite sources, don’tcha know!), cooking fires peak during the holiday season. The NFPA says the most cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving, then Christmas Day, then Christmas Eve. Oh, and cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires.
So, all those statistics are certainly reason enough to consider getting a fire extinguisher for your home before the holidays AND learn how to use it properly.
First and foremost, you’re going to want to choose the right fire extinguisher. There are several classes of them, which the NFPA describes:
- Class A – this is the most common extinguisher and can be used to put out fires on cloth, wood, rubber, paper and many plastics.
- Class B – this is used on fires involving flammable liquids like gasoline, grease and oil.
- Class C – this is used for fires that involved electrical appliances and tools that are plugged in.
- Class D – this is used on flammable metals and is typically only found in factories that work with those metals.
- Class K – this is used on fires that involve oils and animal fats INSIDE cooking appliances. These are typically only found in commercial kitchens; however, they are on the market for use in homes.
The NFPA advises choosing a fire extinguisher for your home that is multi-purpose and large enough to put out a small fire, but not so large that it is difficult to handle.
The association also recommends reading all of the fire extinguisher’s directions and becoming familiar with it as soon as you buy it. This way you’ll know how to use it if you need it.
And when it comes to using it, remember the acronym PASS:
- P – Pull the pin. Hold the nozzle away from you and release the locking mechanism.
- A – Aim Low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
- S – Squeeze. Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
- S – Sweep. Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.
The NFPA WARNS a fire extinguisher should ONLY be used if the fire is contained to a SMALL area, is NOT growing and the room is NOT filled with smoke. Otherwise, it is far too dangerous to try to put out a fire using an extinguisher and you should leave the home immediately. And, the NFPA says, you should always call the fire department.
A fire extinguisher is certainly a good tool to have in your home, particularly around the holiday season. However, it is not the be-all or end-all for fire safety. Take care of yourself and always put your safety first.
Fire Prevention Profile: What to Do Until Help Arrives
Damage from a fire in the Green Bay area.
October has come to an end and, with it, so has Fire Prevention Month. However, you are in luck, as we have one more, bonus prevention profile to share! (And, let’s be honest, it’s never a bad time to talk about fire prevention.)
Aside from the obvious dangers house fires present, even the smallest blazes can bring big headaches. Meaning, even fires that are put out quickly without injury can leave soot, smoke damage and other nasty problems.
That’s where SERVPRO of West Brown County comes into the picture. After the you or firefighters have done the heavy lifting of putting out the flames, our technicians come in to clean up the damage left behind. We have the expertise and equipment to make a fire “like it never even happened.”
There are some things you can do to make that recovery process go smoothly and ensure the damage doesn’t get any worse before our team arrives.
SERVPRO advises these DOs:
- Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into upholstery and carpet.
- Keep hands clean. Soot on hands can cause further damage to upholstery, walls and woodwork.
- Place dry, colorfast towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery and carpeting.
- Wipe soot from chrome kitchen/bathroom faucets, trim and appliances. Then protect these surfaces with a light coating of lubricant.
- If heat is off during winter, pour RV antifreeze in sinks, toilet bowls, holding tanks and tubs to avoid freezing pipes and fixtures.
- Change HVAC filters; leave system off until a trained professional can check the system.
- Tape double layers of cheesecloth over air registers to stop soot particles from getting in or out of the HVAC system.
And along with those DOs, there are a list of DON’Ts:
- Don’t attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces without first contacting your SERVPRO professionals.
- Don’t attempt to shampoo carpet or upholstery without first contacting your SERVPRO professionals.
- Do not attempt to clean nay electrical appliances that may have been close to fire, heat or water without first contacting an authorized repair service.
- Do not consume any food or beverages that may have been stored close to fire, heat or water, as they may be contaminated.
- If ceiling is wet, do not turn on any ceiling fans. Wiring may be wet or damaged and cause electrical shock, and air movement may cause secondary damage.
- Don’t send garments to dry cleaner. Improper cleaning may set in odor smoke.
Hopefully you never need this advice, but if you do, the steps are simple ones to take to ensure your property can be restored as easily as possible.
At SERVPRO of West Brown County we know a fire of any size can be a traumatic event and we know the damage left behind, the sights and smells of soot and smoke, can amplify and prolong that trauma. It is our goal to take care of that damage quickly and efficiently to help minimize the trauma and get your life back in order.
We are always just a phone call away at 920-434-8224.