When Hot Water Heaters Fail
Inspect your hot water heater regularly to prevent disasters.
Most residential hot water heaters have tanks that hold between 40 and 50 gallons. All this water can be disastrous when a tank fails. Even worse, if you do not notice the problem right away, a hot water tank failure may lead to secondary damage from mold growth.
When a hot water tank fails, gallons of water can create a flood in your home. Basement floods might not be noticed right away and can ruin finished areas. Floods on upper floors will spread out and down, affecting several rooms.
The culprit in tank failures is often corrosion. Sediment can build up in the tank, leading to corrosion and tank leaks.
Pressure Relief Valve
Sometimes the tank is intact, but the pressure relief valve fails and leaks a steady stream of steam into the air. A few years ago, we were called in to a basement that was covered with an inch of fuzzy microbial growth on every surface because the valve failed while the homeowners were on vacation. They lost all of the fabric and soft material Christmas decorations they had accumulated through the years.
Here are some things you can do to lessen your risk of disaster due to hot water heater failure.
Weekly Spot Checks
Once a week, you should check your hot water tank for obvious signs of distress like sputtering sounds, moisture on the floor, or corrosion. Especially as your tank ages, these checks can alert you to replace your water heater before it fails.
Twice a year, you should perform a more in-depth examination of your hot water heater. This should include draining the tank and removing any sediment. Check the pressure-relief valve by lifting the handle and releasing it. If the valve is functioning properly, a small amount of water should be released in the overflow pipe.
Consider a New Water Heater
A replacement water heater may offer more energy efficiency than your old one, and a tankless system may bring more peace of mind. Rather than waiting for disaster to strike, you might want to be proactive about replacing your old hot water heater.
Like most household appliances, hot water heaters do not last forever. However, when they go, they can make a mess of your home and the precious memories you store within it. If your tank should fail, be sure to call SERVPRO of Lexington-Bedford to mitigate the damage and protect against mold growth.
Preventing Burst Pipes
Protect pipes from freezing and bursting this winter
When temperatures plummet, pipes start freezing. When frozen pipes start bursting, our phones ring off the hook.
These tips can help prevent burst pipes in your home or business.
Heat Your Home
It may seem like a no-brainer, but every year we get at least one call from a homeowner who thought it would be okay to leave the heat off while the house was empty. Some sunny days when the temperatures are in the 40s, you may get away with cutting off the heat while you are away. Still, it is best to keep your house and pipes warm once temperatures head towards freezing and below. And you should not be afraid to turn the heat up a little higher when temperatures flirt with zero.
Service Your Heating System
Leaving the heat on will not do much good if the boiler quits on you. Annual maintenance on your system should ensure that your furnace or boiler will continue to provide heat through the winter.
Wrap Vulnerable Pipes
Some pipes are vulnerable to dips in temperature, particularly those in basements, attics, or other unheated areas. Wrap these pipes in insulation to keep them from freezing.
Drip the Faucets
When temperatures hit single digits, many homes that never have an issue with frozen pipes suddenly do. Running water with a slow drip through a cold and a hot faucet will keep the water moving through the pipes and prevent freezing.
Pipes in closed cabinets or closets may not be benefiting from the heat in your home. Open up cabinet and closet doors on cold nights to allow warm air to circulate around your pipes.
Have Someone Check Your Home
If you travel during winter months, you should arrange for someone to check your house on a regular basis. They can alert you if the heat goes out or a pipe bursts, so a small problem does not become a major disaster. Ask them for special attention when the weather turns frigid—turning up heat and dripping faucets, for example.
Thaw Frozen Pipes
If water will not flow through a faucet, you probably have a frozen pipe. Follow these tips to locate the problem and thaw the pipe before it bursts.
Of course, should you do your best and still a pipe bursts, SERVPRO of Lexington-Bedford is here 24/7 to take your emergency calls. Once your plumber has fixed the pipe, we will help make it, “Like it never even happened.”
Removing Soot From Your Home
Trust Professionals to clean soot from your home
After a fire in your home, you will likely find soot everywhere. The heat of a fire pushes soot into every nook and cranny, deep into cupboards and closets coating every surface.
Do Not DIY
Some homeowners are tempted to clean the soot on their own. Do-it-yourself cleaning is not recommended following a fire. The soot particles are so small they can get behind walls and between floorboards. Even when surfaces appear clean, smoke smells can linger for years due these hidden particles.
Another issue is the HVAC system. Soot will hide inside the ducts for heating or air conditioning systems. Once a homeowner believes the house is clean and turns on one of these systems, the soot in the ducts will once again blanket the house.
Consult a professional before you make your problems worse.
Fire Restoration Professionals
If you have a fire in your home, you should act fast to prevent further damage. Most importantly, you should trust the cleanup to fire restoration professionals with the training and experience to remove soot thoroughly the first time. They can show you what can be cleaned, what should be discarded, and when you can safely turn on your HVAC and electricity again. They can communicate the scope of your loss to your insurance company.
At SERVPRO of Lexington-Bedford, we have over 33 years of experience responding to fire damages and removing soot for homeowners in Middlesex County. Our fire restoration technicians are certified by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification, and they are on call 24/7 to respond quickly and secure your home if needed.
Trust SERVPRO for Soot Cleanup
We hope you never have a fire in your home, and we strive to educate homeowners about fire prevention. However, should you suffer a fire or puffback and you need soot removed from your home, you can trust our fire restoration technicians to make it “Like it never even happened.”
Commercial Water Damage Response
Our crew will make your commercial water damage its highest priority
When a business suffers a water damage, the top question on the owner’s mind is usually, “How soon will I be back in business?” (Yes, “How much will this cost?” is a close second, but the total cost is usually tied to how much downtime the business suffers.)
At SERVPRO of Lexington-Bedford, we are sensitive to business needs. We understand the importance of getting back to work as soon as possible.
The 1-4-8 Promise
SERVPRO offers commercial clients a 1-4-8 promise for emergency services.
- We will respond to a commercial emergency call within one hour.
- A crew will arrive onsite within four hours to begin mitigation services.
- Within eight business hours, a scope of the loss and estimate for restoration will be discussed with the insurer or property manager.
At our franchise, we average significantly better than the promise. Most calls are returned within twenty minutes. And we rarely need four hours to rally the troops.
Cold Weather Is Here
We have already had a tease of what winter holds for Lexington and Bedford this year, with an ice storm overnight December 23rd and snow storms on December 9th and 25th. Now we are bracing for several days of frigid temperatures.
Frigid temperatures invariably lead to frozen pipes. Consider boosting the heat in your business overnight when the temperature dips below 10 degrees, and drip water from taps to keep the water moving. Check your buildings daily over the long weekend.
If your Middlesex County business should suffer a water damage from frozen pipes, call our office as soon as possible. We can help make it “Like it never even happened.”
Holiday Fire Safety
Protect your home and family from fires during the holidays
During this holiday season, SERVPRO of Lexington-Bedford would like you to exercise caution when staging your holiday décor and preparing holiday meals. Holiday decorations and food preparation are the culprits in many house fires that occur during November, December, and January.
Candles light up many events during the season. Unfortunately, candles also start 55 percent of home decoration fires in December. Christmas, New Year’s Day, and New Year’s Eve are the top three days for house fires started by candles.
Place candles carefully away from flammable items. Keep them out of reach of children and pets. If you cannot protect your candles from cats, consider using flameless candles for your celebration.
Approximately 200 house fires each year involve Christmas trees. More alarming is the fact that one in every 32 Christmas tree fires will result in death.
You lessen your risk when you:
- Keep live trees watered
- Inspect tree lights for exposed wiring
- Replace old lights with newer, safer ones
- Place candles and space heaters far from trees
- Secure tree against tipping
Do not permit a situation where an active child or pet could knock over a tree and have it touch a lit candle or fireplace.
Cooking Holiday Dinners
The top three days for home cooking fires are Thanksgiving, the day before Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Hectic cooks trying to do too much, houseguests helping in unfamiliar kitchens, and decorations placed too close to cooking equipment all contribute to these fires.
Keep decorations and other flammable items away from cooking equipment. Take care when using slow cookers, roasting pans, and other cooking appliances. Place all cooking appliances where they cannot be knocked over. Do not use extension cords as they may not be rated for the appliance you are using and they can create tripping hazards that lead to burns and fires.
SERVPRO of Lexington-Bedford wishes you all the best this holiday season. We hope your friends and family enjoy safe celebrations. Remember we are here 24/7 throughout the year to assist should disaster strike.
Are You Prepared for Winter’s Worst?
Ice dams, frozen pipes, and buried hydrants are all winter hazards you should try to prevent
Winter has arrived in Middlesex County. Wind chills have been in the single digits several times this week and we shoveled our first snow last weekend.
We never know exactly what to expect in Lexington and Bedford, Mass., but we do our best to be prepared. With a little forethought and quick action when necessary, you can reduce the effect of winter weather on your home or business. Protect yourself from these winter storm hazards:
In our business, cold weather means frozen pipes that can lead to extensive water damage and mold growth. Take steps to ensure your pipes do not freeze this year. Make sure someone is checking your property when you are out of town so any issue can be addressed immediately.
During February, 2015, we experienced the worst ice dams we had ever seen in Massachusetts. After nearly no snow all season, we received more than our share in a matter of weeks. Again, take steps to ensure you are not susceptible to ice dams in the first place, but also be prepared to take action if the snow starts piling up for weeks on end.
Another risk with snow is that it can block exhaust vents from your building. Blocked vents can lead to a life-threatening buildup of carbon monoxide. Familiarize yourself with where these vents are before the snow arrives so you know to clear them after each storm.
Do you hate shoveling? We do too. We especially hate having to shovel through a snowbank at the end of a driveway. It seems like a plow always shows up on our street right when we get our driveway clean.
Imagine how it is for firefighters to arrive on the scene of a house fire and the hydrant is buried. They have to dig through a snowbank to find and clear the hydrant before they can begin doing their job of saving lives and property. Know where your closest hydrant is and take responsibility for helping to keep it clear.
Winter Is Here
We wish you all the best this season. Please take a moment to make a Ready Plan and consider ways you can reduce your exposure to winter disasters. And remember, should you experience a water or fire damage, SERVPRO of Lexington-Bedford is always “Here to Help.”
Prepare for Winter with the Ready App
You can be ready for winter's worst
While we rush around preparing for the holidays, winter is creeping up on us. Pretty soon we will be hunkered down hoping to avoid the worst this season can throw at us.
Here at SERVPRO of Lexington-Bedford, we would like to help you be prepared to survive the weather and any storms that head our way. So we encourage our friends and family to download the Ready Plan App. This mobile app (App Store or Google Play) guides users through a simple process to identify important building systems and emergency contacts.
Once your Ready Plan is complete, you can quickly share it with others who need the information like house sitters or babysitters.
Many water damages can be contained until the plumber arrives by simply turning off the water to your home. The Ready Plan App provides space to take a photo of the water main shutoff and describe where it can be found.
Other utilities are also included so you can quickly find the electric panels and gas shutoff.
Key Contact Info
When recording your utility shutoffs, you can include the emergency phone numbers, your account numbers, and anything else you might need to know when calling these companies.
You can gather contact information for your trusted restoration professionals in one place where you can find them quickly. You will not have to dig around in a drawer to find your plumber’s business card, and you can note referrals from your friends before disaster strikes.
The Ready Plan App lets you store non-emergency phone numbers to local emergency services. While calling 911 is always the best first step in an emergency, there may be times you want to speak with your police or fire department without tying up the emergency lines.
Check out the SERVPRO® Ready Plan.
- Free service
- Information stored privately
- No strings, no obligation
We see the effects of poor emergency planning every day. We would love for everyone who reads this to take the time to make a plan to survive a disaster.
Avoid Washing Machine Hose Leaks
A bad washing machine hose could ruin your day.
Washing machine hoses are notorious in the restoration industry because washers often outlive their hoses. Most washers have a ten-year lifespan, but rubber hoses start failing at around five years.
When a washer’s hose fails, water can start pouring out of the hose at a rate of 650 gallons/hour. If you are not home to turn off the water main, you will quickly have a major water damage. Washers located aboveground will leak into living area. For apartment dwellers the risk is even greater as a loss from a washer in one unit may affect several adjacent or lower units.
Here are some tips to reduce the possibility of a washing machine hose leak and to minimize the damage should one occur.
Inspect Washer Hoses
Look for signs of corrosion and bulging areas in the hose to spot problems before they become floods. Replace the hose if you see signs of stress.
Replace Aging Washer Hoses
Most experts recommend replacing washing machine hoses every five years even if you do not see damage. If you have easy access to your washer and the area behind it, hose replacement is a simple task.
Consider a Water Shutoff
Your plumber can install a simple water shutoff valve between your water source and the hoses. By shutting off the water when the washer is not in use--recommended by washing machine manufacturers--you will reduce pressure on the hoses and extend their life.
Stay Home While Washing
You may be tempted to dash out for a quick trip to the store while your washing machine runs through its cycle. However, if the hose fails while you are out, you face a much bigger water damage than if you had been home to cut off the water supply at the first sign of flooding.
Identify Water Shutoff
Be sure you and all responsible adults in your home know where to find the water shutoff. Keep the path to the shutoff clear at all times. You want to be able to respond quickly in the event of a washer hose failure.
Finally, remember SERVPRO of Lexington-Bedford is available 24/7 in the event of a washing machine leak or other emergency water damage. Call 781-861-0500 to begin mitigating the problem and avoiding secondary damage like mold growth.
No Renter’s Insurance in Lexington, Mass. House Fire
Your landlord's insurance does not cover your contents in a fire.
Do you rent a house or apartment? Do you have renter’s insurance? Unfortunately, our franchise is frequently called to the scene of fires where tenants do not have coverage for their contents. No coverage means they risk losing everything they value in the event of a fire or other catastrophe. Fires are always terrible, but fires without proper insurance are heartbreaking.
Earlier this year, we were called to clean after a fire in a house in Lexington, Mass. A short circuit caused an oven range fire that affected the whole house, especially the kitchen. Heavy soot covered all surfaces and contents, including cabinet and closet interiors.
The property owner had insurance to cover the building. Our certified fire technicians were able to clean the soot off the ceiling, walls, and floors. However, we could only clean the exterior of the cabinets and closets, because the insurance company and property owner would only agree to pay for their areas of responsibility.
No Tenant’s Insurance
The tenant was on the hook for any contents cleaning, but the tenant did not have renter’s insurance to cover the contents. Without renter’s insurance, any destroyed items were a total loss for the tenant. Even worse, if the tenant did not have the right training and materials for soot removal, there is a good chance the tenant damaged items that could have been restored by an experienced fire restoration cleaner.
Talk to Your Insurance Agent/Carrier
If you currently rent a house or apartment and you do not have renter’s insurance, please take the time to get a quote for this coverage. You will likely find the coverage is less expensive than you expected and well worth protecting everything you keep in your home.
Here at SERVPRO of Lexington-Bedford, we are committed to restoring property following a fire or flood. Please consider carrying the right insurance coverage to ensure we are able to make your disaster "Like it never even happened."
Commercial Water Damage in Dental Office
We are committed to getting you back in business ASAP after a flood.
The seasons and elements do not care about your business. Fortunately, SERVPRO of Lexington-Bedford does care. We make it our highest priority to work with business owners to ensure the best outcome for their organization following an adverse weather event.
We were called to a dental office in Lexington, Mass. last month. High winds and driving rains had created a roof leak overnight. Water traveled down through the ceiling, into the walls, and onto the carpeted floor. The business owner called us at noon the next day, and our production manager arrived on scene within an hour.
The challenge for the dentist was that due to the amount of water and saturation we could not possibly dry the office in a day. Usually a water damage takes about three days to fully dry. However, the dentist had appointments to keep and did not want to close the business for several days.
We agreed to bring an emergency crew out that evening to:
- Extract water
- Remove ceiling tiles and other contaminated building materials
- Drill holes to allow drying inside walls
- Create a drying chamber
- Set up drying equipment including fans and dehumidifiers
These early mitigation steps minimized the damage and allowed the office to reopen the next day.
Patient Comfort vs. Drying Time
We explained to the dentist that our best advice was to run our equipment continuously for three days to complete the dry out in the least amount of time. The dentist insisted on turning off our equipment during office hours for the comfort of patients. This meant the drying would take at least four or five days, but the office could function during those days.
Satisfied Commercial Client
This water mitigation job was another great success for us. The dentist’s office opened the day after we were notified and the drying was completed within four days.
If your business suffers a water damage or other disaster, call the restoration team that works with commercial clients to get them back in business as soon as possible.