So you want an Aquarium...
Fish are pretty water damage is not
The weight of water
So, you binge watched that aquarium show. Saw these beautiful show tanks mostly saltwater that have eccentric designs, ornate fixtures and some of the most colorful fish you could imagine. What could be the harm. I can watch a YouTube video on properly setting up the take with the filtration system and get this done or something similar that I can maintain, and my friends will love it. A stunning piece in your home to be the center of conversation.
What do you do not see on those shows are the homes structure, foundation improvements or assessments? Safeguards that will reduce tank failure, or equipment failure. The other problems that many do not think about is the weight of the water.
Water typically weights 8.34 pounds per gallon. A tank you see on that show typically has two systems. A front show tank and a back of the house tank that typically has the same volume of water. You then need to have another tank that will cure at least 10% of the total volume of water you have in the two tanks.
Let us take a modest 90-gallon show tank for this example. The tank size will be approx. L: 48” W” 18 H: 25”. You are looking at the weight of the tank to be 160 pounds, full of water it will be about 1050. This is before you add the weight of any rocks, or ornamental decorations. The lighting too will all add weight as well as the pumps and such for circulation.
What sort of support structure do you have existing that can hold this level of weight? Oh, you are going to custom build one. That is great that too will add to the load you are putting on that floor area will you be using 4 points of contact or will you be doing a continuous brace support across the footprint of the structure? Once you have thought of all of this have you considered the added load on that floor and the structure that it is in. Can your floor hold and extra 1200 pounds of weight safely?
Let us dive into a structural engineers thoughts and ensure that we know what we are doing. The basic constructs of a home. There are multiple factors and many added weights to consider. The dead load of the floor is everything that will always be there, pipes, joists, ductwork, flooring materials this is approx. 15 Pounds per square foot. There is also the live load which is the furniture, decorations, appliances, people and aquarium. Now these two are not the only thing you need to look at one must use the safety factor which is usually between 1.5-2. So the home is safe with 1000 pounds but could collapse with 1500 pounds of weight.
The other factor is that people walking around for short amounts of time does not put the same pressure on these areas as something stagnant that will sit for potentially years on end. People will get up and move over time even furniture will be moved around and changed. An aquarium will remain stagnant.
SO you have assessed that your floor can hold the water and extra weight. How much damage could 90 gallons of water really cause for damage anyways. Yes water always wins, no matter what you are doing. If you have a slow leak and do not notice from a pipe that runs behind or under the take this can be extremely costly. To put it into perspective Typical appliance leaks on average cost well over $13,467 dollars to correct. Chalk it up to faulty pluming and you are looking at over $17,250 . These figures do not take into account the materials you have in your home. Do you have carpet, laminate, wood floors, tile. What floor is this tank on the first floor or do you have a split level ranch? If there is a finished floor underneath where you place this tank these costs could be much more.
All of this being said did you know there a lot of key ways an aquarium can leak. Here are some of the things that can happen a hose can split or burst off of a fitting, A connector could fail, a skimmer can overflow, drains could get blocked, one of the check valves could fail, a pump could stop working, a siphon could happen, the tank itself could fail. While making water you could forget about the hose running that is filling the container, float valves and sensors could get stuck or just not work. The powerhead could come unattached, algae and salt can build up and change the waters flow. An O-ring just as on a toilet could let go. Did you think of any of this while you were watching that show? They did.
Did you add additional coverage onto your homeowner’s insurance for this new addition to your home? Does it even matter? Water damage is water damage, right?
Wrong water damage caused by a fish tank falls under pets. Since damage to your own home caused by pets is typically not covered by insurance you will be on the hook for this damage on your own. If you live in an apartment even having additional coverage may not be enough.
These statistics are not meant to scare you, but they are meant to get you thinking. We do not imply or suggest that meeting specification requirements alone will ensure you do not have any problems and we do not guarantee that any of the advice on costs of repairs or coverage issues are set in stone. We do advise you talk to professionals in various industries prior to getting too far into the process of setting up a fish tank in your home ensure you are not subjected to surprises. This information is for informational purposes only and each situation is different and must be properly researched.
Statistics for water damage numbers were found on.
Structural information was supplied in part by
Fire risk with Aquarium
Power strip left sitting on the floor that then had a water damage problem
Fire damage with a home aquarium.
Aside from the obvious water damage they can cause. The old adage that water and electricity do not mix is there for a reason.
Well let us start with the basics of an aquarium and what sort of electrical power they really need. I mean they are tanks full of water what could they possibly need.
So let us get started on the things to be careful about. A short circuit in a frayed or improperly placed wire can be detrimental to the overall safety of your home. This is an obvious one to most but what can come as a surprise is getting the improperly sized equipment for the volume of water that you have.
Some less obvious ones start at the very outlet your equipment will be plugged into. The law requires any outlet near water to be GFCI ( the ones with the test/ reset buttons in the middle) which is why you see them in bathrooms all the time. Most people do not have them outside of kitchen and bathroom areas and fail to consult with an electrician prior to setting up their aquarium.
While we are on the topic of outlets let us talk about how much electricity a standard outlet can handle because it is so easy to overload the outlet. A standard single outlet can hold approximately 2400 watts. Wattage can be tricky with equipment that needs to turn on and off. This creates a surge to the system that must be accounted for.
We see this most often with Christmas decorations during the holidays. Power strips and extension cords does not increase the number of things that can be safely plugged into it. It does give us a sense of false security especially if we got a fancy one with a lot of bells and whistles. Where we place these can play a roll in their safety. Make sure you never plug a power strip into an extension cord. Also avoid hiding the cord behind the aquarium for an out of site out of mind mentality can hide damage. You can not see if water is splashing over onto the tops of the cords, if somethings has fallen on top of them or if you have kinked up one of the cords causing it to break.
Heaters for example can have dire consequences. If the motor burns out can be an obvious danger, if he heater is too small and needs to run constantly to try and keep the water at the desired temperature. Should your system require multiple heaters you must ensure they are always fully submerged . Water changes and or drops to the water level must be met with heaters being turned off at least 20 minutes prior to the adjustment. This allows the mechanism time to cool down and avoid a short to the unit.
Lighting is often very close to the water and may not have the proper protection from splash back or spill overs creating shorts in the ballasts. These shorts can result in sparks flying over to a curtain or wall. They can also burn out the lighting unit itself and cause a fire. Lighting is also not meant to be in the water unlike the heater. This means extra care must be taken to keep the cords out of the way.
Filtration systems for many aquariums are set up in a separate room. That being said it is imperative that these systems be on all the time for the health and safety of the plants and animals. While daily monitoring for these is not necessary it is a good habit to get into daily equipment checks. A failure or blockage of a filter can result in an overload on the system that will try and keep running it. Burning out the motor. This motor burn out can simply stop working or it can start a fire in an unmonitored section of your home going unnoticed longer than normal.
Pumps water pumps are another thing that need to run constantly and since water pumps through them failure and overloading is imminent. It is not a matter of if it is a matter of when. This means you have to check this equipment often and you have to ensure you have the proper size pump for adequate water movement. It is also essential for you to have it plugged into an outlet that can handle the power.
Misuse of power strips and extension cords cause more than 3000 home fires every year, resulting in 4000 trips to the emergency room killing over 50 people. Now while all of these are not from aquariums this is still a staggering number. Electricity is not a hobby and we always suggest consulting experts for every aspect of your projects that involve electricity. This article is meant to be informative and get you to understand the damage that could occur. This is not meant to be advise or guidance on any aquarium work that you undertake.
The tide is changing in Boston
The brown is areas that were tidal flats and filled in to create more land.
Is Boston Ready for the next major storm and what is it doing to prepare for the rising tides. A town almost entirely built through human design in the middle of a bay is subjected to the ebb and flow of the tide more than most and its lack of elevation adds to the problem. To better understand this problem let us take a quick look at the history of Boston and how it came to be.
Tidal flats were filled in to create shipping ports. They were filled in with rocks, dirt and yes trash. A lot of the quaint neighborhoods such as the Back Bay, East Boston, Charlestown and the South End were built on landfills. I know shocking right. Needless to say, they are low-lying areas susceptible to the rising seas. Even the airport used to be a collection of 5 islands filled in to serve a purpose.
Ok so that is a very quick back story so what dangers does this possess. To understand this, you need to know how high everything is. At best Boston is considered 14 meters above sea level, with many spots being directly at sea level. In recent years and by recent we mean the last century sea levels have risen 28 centimeters. There is talk about as much as a 3 meter rise due to greenhouse gases by 2100. This puts Boston in line to be one of the top 10 most vulnerable cities in the world.
You just did the math the city is still not underwater. Well let us take a look at high tides, storm surges and damage than can result from it. Storm surge tides are on the rise just ask an adjacent town like Winthrop or Dorchester about high tides during storms. These homes have been damaged in recent years resulting catastrophic damage.
Homes built at sea level, condos below grade even by as little as a half an inch are being denied coverage or being subjected to very limited coverage. So limited in fact it is only the drywall being covered for demolition and replacement. Often we are seeing that none of the contents, electrical systems, plumbing, insulation, flooring is being covered. This is very stressful for all involved. Especially since the corrosive nature of salt water is that more damaging than traditional water damage.
Understanding your policies and exclusionary clauses as flood plains are redrawn is essential FEMA has a flood map page where you can input your address and get a quick assessment of your homes risk. This will allow you to prepare for upcoming storms and possibly reassess your coverage for insurance.
NOAA estimates from May of 2019 to April of this year 2020 there will be 12-19 flooding events. How many have you already seen? Boston is working hard to prepare for these events. They have developed a Climate preparedness plan. There is a website you can follow and stay up to date on the latest meetings, proposals and individual neighborhoods plans for their specific needs. This website is full of reports, strategies, design and technology initiatives.
The city needs your help be it actively attending meetings to keep pulse with the changes and provide input on the impact these plans could have on your daily living. There are surveys for various community projects that will provide developers with real world feedback on things like commuting challenges projects may pose. We all know you want to be heard about the increased commuting problems.
There are even links and access to the Greenovate Boston Leaders action board. Providing you with materials to hold local meeting and discuss climate change within your neighborhood. This program allow you to focus not only on climate change but the issues that drive and affect the community.
There is access to open house summits, forums for discussion, plan and initiatives as well as ways to get involved. We are all in this together. We at SERVPRO of East Boston, Chelsea, & Revere see firsthand effects from these flooding events. We see the devastation that they cause, and we are seeing increasing restrictions on insurance coverage from these events. We have also seen Facebook pages dedicated to community discussions as well as grassroots efforts to find solutions to pollution. Keeping pollution out of the streets and in the trash barrels where they belong will ensure sewer drains maintain the flow of water. Less clogging means less flooding. We can all make a difference in how climate change affects our communities.
We are providing you with some of the key links we discussed above. Many will have sub-links to specific neighborhoods within the city. Lets all get involved and work together. This sense of community is essential for our safety and allows us all to breathe a little better at night. With all the bad things in the world let us be the difference together.
Boston Climate change portals
FEMA Flood Plain maps
Greenovate Boston Leaders
Commercial Fire Loss!! Are you prepared??
When a local business burns we all give pause. We all rise up to support in any way we can. Here at SERVPRO we inspire to be prepared. Ask us how.
When owning a business, it is not a question of if we will have a disaster but when. These issues can be something such as and IT services breech, to a cataclysmic event such as a total business loss of building, materials, merchandise, equipment. Among some of the most devastating occurrences to a business is a fire. These business interruptions can be devastating. Not having a plan can make it that much worse.
Fire damage is one of the most devastating forms of loss that can occur within a business. There is so much damage beyond the fire itself. There can be toxic smoke, soot and sediment that lands on everything along with water damage. Depending on where the fire occurs and the type of business you are running can all have an impact on how much damage occurs. As with the large casket fire in East Boston the other day it is an example to us all just how devastating a fire can be. A company that deals with wood, finishes, lacquer, fabrics will ignite and have a fire spread much faster than other companies none the less the damage can and will be extensive.
When there is a commercial loss there are many other lives affected beyond your own. The business owner has to worry about the employees, customers, facility, equipment and many other things. What really happens and what is the process to fixing it.
Well before the fire is put out the items that catch on fire will release chemicals into the air within the smoke rendering it very unsafe to breath in and very corrosive to anything it happens to settle on over time. When someone arrives to put out the fire you are now adding water damage to the soot, smoke and fire damage. Often the damage can create holes in the structure expose unaffected and affected areas to outside elements causing even further damage. Once the fire is out the physical assessment of the property, equipment and merchandise must begin. Another problem as in the recent casket company fire is the building is a total loss. Meaning months of sifting through for a true cause and waiting for judgments from the insurance companies. It also means either rebuilding the facility from scratch or finding a new facility all together. Which ever ends up happening things will take time to get back to normal.
There is a lot more that a commercial property owner or business owner must assess. One of which how will this impact their business, employees, and clients. These are not as tangible as the physical items are. The impact affects all three different ways. Most of which will be determined by the length of time it will take for the business to re-open.
Business interruption is a tough one to swallow. There must be safe guard measure taken to mitigate your damages until all the repairs can be completed. This can include temporary tarps one roofs, board ups on windows doors or even sides of buildings. Removing all the wet materials from the building to reduce the risk of mold and fungus growth. This can include but is not limited to clothing/fabric, insulation, paperwork, wood, drywall etc..
Employee interruption can prove difficult. They have bills to pay and often your insurance will not be covering their lost wages. Waiting around for things to get going again is not always feasible for them. For your business if you do not have business interruption insurance you many be covered for every day you are not open making money. Subsequently in the event that the building is deemed a total loss you can expect some employees to move on for other reasons. They may not be willing or able to get to a new location.
Clients that are displaced do not have the loyalty they once did. They will seek out alternatives even within just a few days. While this is ok for the short term as time moves on things change. Once a client is in the habit of a certain location, they do not adjust well to change but will adopt a new course of action should it solve the problem at hand, meaning getting your product from somewhere else. A location move can mean you need to start with a whole new pool of clients as many will only drive just so far for an item.
Just remember when there is a fire loss at a commercial property there a lot of moving pieces. You need to surround yourself with those with the know how to get you back up and running as soon as possible. Developing a core group of professionals adept at each aspect of your business is essential in getting you back up and running as soon as possible. Having no options in times of an emergency can become very costly. Developing vendor relations now while you have the time to negotiate pricing, establish a procedure, and build a rapport significantly reduces the cost on the back end when these services are needed in an emergency. At SERVPRO of Arlington Somerville and Charlestown we strive to aid, assist, and educate our clients in all aspects of emergency services. This will allow you to be better prepared when disaster strikes. We will work with you quickly to make it “Like it never even happened”
Frostbite and Hypothermia.. What Is It and How to Stay Safe
Frostbite and Hypothermia can take its toll. It can come on quickly and many do not notice. Please pay attention to the early warning signs.
Frostbit and Hypothermia safety
It is New England and while the weather so far this season has lent itself to being a mild one we are not out of the woods yet. Typically a mild December lends itself to wild weather at the end of January and February. Many days have allowed those die hard New Englanders to continue to tough it out with shorts and tee shirts. That being said it is a good time for a reminder about how quickly our weather can change and what you can expect in the new two coming months.
This is a very big concern that many all too often through caution to the wind. We wear the shorts, do not use the gloves, grab the flip flops and socks (WHY WHY JUST WHY), those high fashion shoes that go with your outfit that you cannot even walk on and if it is not a baseball hat who needs it. Well you do!! We have had a lot of wind this season. The wind takes those mild temperatures we have had and drastically alters them. The wind pushes the air allowing it to move through clothing easier. It also brings the real feel temperature down. If you do not have the right clothing. When you are trying to look a part you run the risk of some very severe consequences.
What is frostbite and how to tell if you have it.
There are two stages to frostbite Superficial frostbite and traditional frostbite. With any frostbite the extremities are more susceptible. Fingers, toes, nose, ears, cheeks, and chins. Some of the first indicators of frostbite are extremities start to turn red. You may also have a feeling of pins and needles in the area being affected by the cold. It can start to sting, burn or even become itchy. Looking at the color is essential it can initially be red but will start to turn gray or white maybe even a little yellow looking as the tissue becomes more damaged. If you do not rectify these issues soon enough and in the right way your skin may start to become hard and feel waxy as the cold gets into the deep parts of the tissue. Blisters may start to form especially you try to warm up the affected area the improper way.
What you should do if you suspect you are getting frostbite. First and foremost get out of the cold. Get any wet clothes off, and also get any jewelry off as it will be cold. You can put the affected area into warm water between 100-105 degrees to warm it up slowly. You can also individually wrap the area with a gauze. If your hands or feet were affected it is important that you wrap each one separately. If you are unsure about how your feeling always check with a professional and seek out emergency help right away. Once color changes start to set in you can have permanent damage up to and including amputation.
This type of issue is much more drastic and affects the entire bodies core temperature when the core temperature drops to 95 and below is when trouble starts. The body tries to protect itself but routing blood to vital organs and extremities. This can result in a dangerous situation. As with any uncertainty it is imperative to seek out professional medical assistance. Until that happens there are steps you can take to help the person. Remove any wet clothes, get them into a warm environment. Surround them with warm layers of blankets and pillows for insulation. Make sure you are covering feet, hands, arms, head. It is also important to lay them down to make sure that the blood can flow easily and reduces how hard the heart has to work to move the blood around. Do not move anyone suspected of hypothermia too quickly because they are more susceptible to a cardiac event. Should something happen CPR may need to be administered until help arrives.
There are 3 stages of hypothermia they are all based on the ambient temperature of the body.
Mild: 90-95 degrees: The body tries to protect itself by increasing rate of breathing to pull in more oxygen to improve blood flow. It will also start to make you feel tired and fatigued so that major organs get more care. Blood pressure will tend to rise and shivering will commence. Coordination and judgment will begin to be impaired.
Moderate: 82.4-90 degrees: At this stage the blood pressure tends to start falling, your reflexes are more affected. Breathing heart rate and coordination become more labored and more difficult.
Severe: Less than 82.4 degrees: This is a highly critical stage in which breathing is much more difficult as the body tries to protect the brain. Your pupils will become less reactive heart attacks and full heart failure are more predominant at this point. Risk for a pulmonary edema is likely at this point.
Keep an eye out for any of these issues and try to get into a warm safe place as soon as possible. Once memory becomes impaired there is a tendency and desire to remove clothes. They can become combative and irrational.
While we are hardy New Englanders we can be too hardy and stubborn at time. The desire to look fashionable and show we can handle the cold. This can prove to have dire consequences. Please pay attention to the weather, include the wind chill in your assessment, stay alert (you are not being a baby), be smart. Making winter fun requires a little bit of safety awareness.
Extension cords, power strips and more...
There are so many things wrong with this picture. 1) it was on the floor thus got wet. 2) Note that on the bottom is another extension cord plugged in
It is that time of the year again, fires lots of fires.
Let us have a real talk about the power cords, extension cords, outlet plugs, and power strips. They are not the same thing and they are not meant to be plugged into each other. The only time a power strip can have an extension cord plugged into it is when it has been hard wired into the system.
Power strips/ surge protectors/ Hard wired power strips: They are different. But we use them for the same purpose added outlets and to extend the reach of our outlets to something further away. There are some precautions that many do not know or tend to ignore for convenience. Two different types of power are drawn from various equipment high power and low power. High power equipment tends to be stuff that turns one and off ovens, toasters, coffee pots, microwaves, space heaters, refrigerators etc. Low powered equipment tends to be more steady with its power use. Computers, cell phones, Radios, TV’s etc. Know what you are trying to plug in and make sure that you stay safe.
Extension cords: We all use them. Are we using them properly? Most likely NO. Did you know they are not meant for long term use. There is also a purpose to that pesky 3rd prong on the end. The one that many of you cut off. It is a grounding wire. Ok so you didn’t break it off on purpose. It got stepped on by accident and broke off. The fact that it is missing renders the cord no good. The equipment and items that are plugged into it are not grounded. (We will get into that later) If the extension cord is not being used do not leave it plugged in. It too can not handle high powered equipment.
3 prong vs 2 prong: OK this is a simple visual but has lasting consequences. So you have a wall plug that allows only 2 prong devices. You bought one of those 3 prong adapters, and it has that weird metal thing that you have no idea why it is there. So you plug it into the outlet plug in your device and carry on with your day. Guess what that’s wrong. That little metal piece has a purpose. You are supposed to plug the adapter in such a fashion that the metal piece hangs over the screw in the middle. You are supposed to remove the screw and secure this metal hook to the faceplate. That is what converts it to a grounded outlet. ( MIND BLOWN>>>WE KNOW)
Overloading: This is another step that many ignore. They think because they have space left on the power strip they can keep plugging things in. Or if they have something like Christmas lights they can connect an infinite number of strings together to get from one side to the other. You have to take into account the capacity load that the strip can take and how much energy each piece of equipment that is being plugged is going to draw. This will avoid over loading not only the strip or power cord but also the outlet. Many outlets are tied to others and do not run on an independent power source. Understanding how everything is connected can cut down on electrical issues.
Frayed cords ( NO duct tape is not a proper fix) Before you use any electrical cords, power cords, power strips, even the cords to the items you are trying to use. It is important to inspect them. Items that have been stored could have cracked or become frayed from age. They could have been gnawed at by an animal over the course of being stored. Place duct tape over the cord does not make it safe. Will it make the item work? Probably but it is NOT safe.
Grounding: So if you are not sure what grounding is or why it is important. It gives electrical surges a place to go other than into your home or office. Providing pathways for it to travel that are safe and less conductive. Easy enough. OK so your building or home is not properly grounded. What does that mean? It means all metal becomes a conductor. You along with the static in the air also becomes a conductor. In a power surge situation the energy will escape into the building. Your body can become the conductor as electrical currents flow through easily. Fires start more easily, electrical noises increases, as does the risk of electrical shock. The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) states that "better than 80% of all electronic system failures that are attributed to power anomalies are actually the result of electrical wiring or grounding errors or are generated by other loads within the customer's facility.
Being electrician is not for everyone. It is also not a part time hobby like a handy-man. Make sure that you are hiring a properly license and certified electrician. For those basics around the house have a light understanding of how all of your various options work. This will keep you and everyone in your home safe.
Why SERVPRO? We are a small business too
SERVPRO of East Boston, Chelsea, Revere is your local Water, Fire, Mold Remediation company that delivers you corporate service with local flair.
Did you know that SERVPRO is a local small business? Yes that is right while we have a strong brand behind us supporting our efforts we are a local business. We live in and around the community that we serve. We suffer the same environmental disasters that you do. Our houses have roof leaks in torrential rains. The yards and basements flood when the tides are too high or the storm drains are overloaded.
This pulse on the community separates us from those that live outside of the area or do not understand the challenges of the area. Our team sits on the same streets day in and day out that you do trying to get in to the tunnel out of eastie. We also tug along the bridge driving out of Chelsea. When the lanes on the bridge are closed and 4st exit is inaccessible it affects our teams just as much as it does our clients and those who live out that way. If your street and homes are flooded because the ocean spilled over the causeway again. Know that we will work and do our best to reach you as soon as it reopens up.
As a small local business we work to promote others. Over Small business Saturday we were out in full force with the Revere Chamber of commerce promoting small business in the community. We went and visited some great local business getting ideas for the holiday season of gifting coming up.
Making some local connections is not only the life blood of a small business but it is also the life blood of the cities that we work in. Knowing what the needs of the community are helps us to provide a better service for our clients. Understanding everything from dangerous intersections for pedestrians, to which areas are more prone to flooding. Allows us to better navigate along the roads keeping everyone as safe as possible.
Some of the key places that are strong members of the community are Oceanview kennels who takes in all the pups that have been lost until their families can be found. Or Beach sales that makes sure the best options are available for all your home needs. When we popped over to Kinship florist and saw the beauty that they bring with each display handmade with that little something special. Walking into The Good Diner is like walking into your mother’s kitchen with the wonderful smells and big smiles always welcoming and glad to see you if you stay for a spell or take it to go. Luberto’s was hard at work setting up their window displays for the holiday season. We can not wait to see what they do. It is always such a beautiful store front. Sitting with these businesses allows to add a personal touch to the mundane every day things that we do.
We have a strong relationship with not only the local Chambers of commerce but also the Cities that we work in. Being a community means taking the good with the bad. Which means when there are problems that arise, we try to hear the call and do what we can. We have worked on collecting coats and clothing for an ever growing list kids in need within the city. There have been donations to Oceanview Kennels for the pups to have warm blankets while they wait for new homes or their owners to show up to the bail them out. We have spoken with town officials about the opioid problem and worked to clean up areas of the city for beautification process. Participating in the mutli-cultural events such as the Moroccan festival celebrating the diversity of our service area. These events and more really keep us in touch with the cities. There are members of our team that are even on the Board of directors for some of the local chambers and actively participate in others as well.
As this year comes to a close it is also important to know we support the local first responders that keep our cities safe. They daily put their lives on the line. Supporting the fire and police departments especially when they lose one of there own is essential. It has been a tough year for local engine houses. Fires during the winter months are especially tough. Coming off of the Merrimack Valley gas disaster has tested our first responders to the limits. We want them to know we are thankful for every day they show up and put their lives on the line for our safety.
So when you say why SERVPRO .. you have to really look at the fact that we have the backing of the corporate brand to handle any size disaster that comes our way with the local home town feel. We can be faster to any disaster and will work with you to make it “Like it never even happened.”
Water Water everywhere!!!
Fall in Massachusetts has been the wettest on record with still a few days and inches to go. This spring we could be in for some serious flooding.
Do you feel like it has been an endless rainy season in what is notoriously a dry season? You would be right. We have some of the oldest records for weather in the country right here in Mass. Blue Hill records date back to the late 1800’s and as of November 26, 2018 we had achieved the wettest fall on record. With more rain on the way it is shaping up to be a wet one.
This rain can have a big impact on winter storm damage to homes and businesses. How can that be you ask? Here are just a few examples.
Freezing: Water is unlike any other element on the planet. It expands as it cools rather than shrink. This causes all sorts of problems. If you have a small leak in the home from all this rain that is out of sight. When the cold weather sets in it will freeze. Many times, this freezing will occur and cause a lot of damage. Since water expands as it freezes any area that is saturated will expand either allowing more water in or cracking any materials that is stuck inside of. Be it a roof, wood framing, corner of a home or foundation, etc..
So, what can you do: Have a trusted contractor walk around the house look into the attic, basement, crawlspace and work on detecting anything out of the normal. Any edges of your home that show signs of rot, or water damage, Check inside the attic for any damp or wet insulation. Look in the crawl space for any signs of water coming through the foundation. Damage to any flooring, place any insulation over pipes that may have fallen off. Clear out all the gutters so that nothing is blocking the down spouts either from the top or at the output on the bottom.
Saturated soil: Soil that is unnaturally wet for extended periods of time can have damaging effects on trees. Many times, the roots have a hard time holding onto the soil and in high wind events can cause the tree to topple over many onto a home or car. There is also the effect water has on the roots themselves. If the tree is not prone to doing well in significantly wet soil the roots can start to rot. This rot can happen in even a healthy-looking tree causing it too to fall over.
So, what can you do: Walk your property ideally with a tree care professional. Have any leaders removed. Trim any branches that seem precarious. Inspect the trees and roots for any thing that looks like it will not hold during a storm.
Water intrusion: All this water has to go somewhere many times it does not have the ability to run off or be absorbed by the ground at the same rate when frost starts to set it. This allows the water to travel further than it normally would. Meaning there could be flooding events in areas that there are not normally any. It may also travel for a distance then a cold snap will freeze it in place. This causes a crack in a foundation. Allowing the warm air from your home to get out thawing out the water. This water will travel into your home as it thaws if left unnoticed you will have a major problem on your hands
As we continue to see rivers rise during a time of year that they normally slow to a trickle we have to be worried about what will happen. In the spring when all the snow melt, and runoff drains into already overloaded springs, streams, and rivers. We will see a lot more flooding events and now is the time to prepare.
So, what can you do: You can learn where your existing flood zones for your area are. See if you are downhill from any streams, rivers, ponds really any bodies of water. Follow the link below if you are not sure. https://msc.fema.gov/portal/search
It is a great time to look at your insurance policies. Make sure you have flood coverage. This will not be tied to the regular home owner’s insurance you have. It is a separate policy. Look it over, make sure you have both home coverage as well as contents. If you are not in a flood zone that is the best time to get flood insurance, it is much more cost effective. It can also protect you should the zoning change during a reevaluation time.
As our climate changes, storms become more intense and the extreme weather. It is important to know that those hundred-year storms events will be more like 3-year storm events if not more frequent than that. Knowing what water can do the soil, trees, and your home is key. Being prepared is more important than ever. Finding water damage before it becomes a major problem is going to help you keep things under control. Developing good home inspection habits will help avoid costly repairs later.
Space Heater Safety
Space heaters are a great way to add warmth to a room. Being safe and understanding the best way to do that is essential.
It may not be officially winter in New England but it is sure has not stopped mother nature from delivering us some snow and arctic blasts. With century breaking cold coming for Thanksgiving this year we really need to look at home heating. Many in Massachusetts are not even in their homes due to fires in the Merrimack Valley area. That means more people will be using space heaters to stay warm. They are small, portable and cost effective. That alone does not make them safe.
Space heaters and other heating equipment causes almost 70,000 fires every year. Damages both monetarily, physically and emotionally are insurmountable and sadly as is the case in California can often times spread having devastating results. Winter is a dry season with a lot of leaves on the ground. That being said let us focus on how to stay safe while we all try to stay warm.
Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires in the United States. More than 65,000 home fires are attributed to heating equipment each year. These fire result in hundreds of deaths, thousands of injuries and millions of dollars in property damage.
When you get a space heater making sure that the new one is the right fit for you needs will help with keeping everyone safe. Space heaters use electricity which means these is a risk of sparks, frayed or faulty wiring. Below you will find some key point to use as consideration when using them.
Choosing the right heater for your space can go a long ways in terms of keeping you safe. There is a little bit of math involved but it is relatively easy. Get the square footage of the room, it takes approximately 10 watts per square foot. So a 12X12 SQ Ft room needs about 1,440 watts to heat. Ok but the packaging for the heaters say BTU’s so now what. Multiply the watts by 3.41. A single watt is equivalent to 3.41 watts. So that sized room needs about 4,910 BTU unit heater. Guess what unless your room is much bigger than that most heaters run in at 5,100 BTU’s or 1500 watts. Pretty convenient right. Yes we thought so to. Just like a lot of products out there are counterfeit or knock offs. It is important to avoid these as they will have not been safety tested properly.
So now you have the proper sized space heater. Let us take a look at where the best place is to put it, along with what are some basic safety tips.
Make sure your space heater has the label showing that it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory.
- Make sure you are familiar with how your specific unit works. Read all the warnings and labels. The instructions can vary from unit to unit so do not assume the one you had years ago functions the same. Technology and requirements change. .
- Before use it is important to inspect the unit for broken cords, frayed wires, any damage or cracks. If any of that is found DO NOT USE
- 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.
- DO NOT use these units to try and cook food, dry anything or warm up a bed. Space heaters are only meant to provide heat to a space only. Woman in Lowell caused a fire 2 day after she was given a space heater for misusing it.
- Change all batteries in every smoke alarm in the house before using a space heater. There needs to be one on every floor. Make sure you conduct monthly tests to ensure proper working order.
- Keep them at least 3 ft away from anything flammable. This includes rugs, curtains, blankets and paper products.
- Keep cords and placement location out of main high traffic areas of your home. If you have to run the cord through an area that is walked through a lot tape the cord down. As flush against a wall as possible.
- They go directly into WALL outlets. DO NOT ***DO NOT*** use an extension cord or power strip. It is also important to not plug other high energy draining devices into the outlet. Sudden surges such as a toaster oven can cause overheating and start fires.
- The best places for a space heater is on the floor. For a few reasons. One of which is that heat rises and you want as much warm air to move throughout the room. The other is that it is a flat surface. If placed on a table or piece of furniture you run the risk of something else being placed on or near it increasing the risk of fire.
- If you are not using the space heater, make sure it is always unplugged.
Ok so now that you know how to stay safe and properly use a space heater lets get to enjoying the warmth. Have a safe and happy holiday season.
Water Prevention Technology
Water damage even a small leak can result in big damage. Learn what options are available and best suit your lifestyle and needs.
SERVPRO of East Boston Chelsea & Revere we see our fair share of the intense damage cause by water. We are always trying to keep a pulse on how these damages can be prevented. Searching out new technologies for our clients and putting the information out for our clients to find.
Over the years we have seen great advances in these areas. Streets that can absorb gallons upon gallons of water which aids in reducing run off and drainage and sewer system overload. The ability to recycle and clean water to reduce pollutants and contaminates within the environment. There has also been extensive research on ways to harness water for electricity consumption. The ones that directly affect your homes and businesses are the ones that get us the most excited.
We should all be aware by now of the importance of smoke detectors and Carbon monoxide detectors. Many of us even keep a fire extinguisher on hand. Yet so many of us fail to take the same precautions with water.
While the amount of damage caused by a fire is extensive and does cost the most. I highest number of claims called in comes from water damage. Often times these claims stem from leaks that have gone unnoticed or have happened when no one was home. A poorly timed disaster could happen while you are on a vacation, at a family function or away for work. Having no alarm system or warning system in place can lead to a great deal of damage.
There are answers and they can be autonomous and tied directly to apps on your phone to ensure damages are mitigated and any potential issues are caught as soon as possible. The variety of options run the gamut in price, engagement and notification options.
Simplicity and ease of use for some basic peace of mind comes in the way of battery-operated or simple plug ins. Some of the most cost-effective devices in this category can tie directly to your cell phone. The water will prompt the device to send a message to your cell phone. They often will not have an alarm that would go off within the home.
Others are a bit more intricate and required them to be built into the infrastructure of the home. These are similar to the built-in smoke detectors in your home. These devices may require to be plugged into an actual outlet but will work with your homes WIFI. They have water sensors you can place in front of items such as boilers or even on pipes directly that will alert you of temperature changes.
There are more that are full smart home ready devices. They can not only tie to your smart phone but also your Alexa or google home devices providing automatic shut off options as well. These smart home devices have some intricate features that allow them to go as far as turning off the water if a leak is detected. Due to this feature you will need the aid of a certified plumber to install them making the upfront costs a bit more.
As with some of the higher end home service options there are monitoring centers staffed with trained individuals that can call and notify you of any changes within your system. This could even assist with troubleshooting what the problem could be and how to fix it.
Do you have a property that you rent out? Are you a property management company that has a new tenant and seen a spike in the water usage of a particular unit? Well they have a device for that as well. It will monitor water pressure, temperature and which devices are consuming the water. Do you have toilet that is running constantly that a tenant did not tell your about? Has the washing machine see its last day and uses far more water than the newer models. Does that dishwasher have a leak that no one sees? These sensors can help to assess and determine your best options as well as catching a problem long before it even becomes one.
As time progresses and more of these items are adapted and technology changes. There will be more sensor options. Some have even begun to offer them for Gas shut offs as well. Commercial businesses are always looking for cost cutting measures. These water sensors can be an integral part of the assessments on when to upgrade appliances and aging systems.
It is imperative with water being such a scarce commodity with essential for life be we all take steps to ensure it is not wasted. Saving us all money and protecting the planet. Here at SERVPRO we must ensure our team and our clients know about the options out there for protecting their homes and businesses.
Below you will find a link to some of the key products that have been rated. While we understand it is a somewhat older article it is a great assessment of the range of products available.