Discovering Smoke Damage 60 Years Later
SERVPRO can restore your property after experiencing smoke damage
I recently got a call from one of our partners in the senior real estate space. The company helps place older adults who can no longer live safely at home in assisted living facilities. They will also fix up your home and sell it to help fund care expenses. As you can imagine, some of these homes are in disrepair and may have been neglected for many years. This is where SERVPRO comes in as a vendor to handle the numerous situations that these homes find themselves in. Last week a home in Belmont, MA was inspected prior to listing the home to find any serious issues that need to be addressed. The home inspector found extensive smoke and soot damage in the rafters of the attic. The homeowner, a 99-year-old holocaust survivor, was shocked to hear this and stated there has never been a fire in the home since she lived there in 1962. Everyone involved was upset and nervous about what this meant for getting the home listed. They called SERVPRO in to save the day. We sent a project manager out later that day to take a look at the attic and determined there was in fact smoke damage to the rafters but, thankfully no structural damage had occurred. We just needed to prime and seal the rafters with 4 coats of sealant so on a hot and humid day there was no chance of smoke odor being released into the home. We were able to get the work done 2 days later so there was only a 2-day delay in getting the home on the market for sale. Everyone involved was extremely happy with our response time and work. If you need smoke damage restoration or find a surprise during the home buying process, call the pros at 781-861-0500.
SERVPRO Cleans Dryer Vent for Local Non-Profit: The Cat Connection
SERVPRO cleans dryer vent for local non-profit The Cat Connection
SERVPRO recently had the opportunity to help a local non-profit organization, The Cat Connection, with dryer vent cleaning. Elisif Brandon, a local architectural photographer, reached out to Aaron Roy, Sales and Marketing Manager of SERVPRO, to get involved with TCC. Aaron helped Elisif create an Emergency Plan for the shelter last summer, part of which focused on fire safety. The shelter recently moved locations from Waltham to Brighton so a new plan was needed for the property. It occurred to Elisif that The Cat Connection washes and dries numerous towels daily to care for their feline friends. It was uncertain the last time the dryer vent had been cleaned in their new building, so she called on Aaron once again to assist. SERVPRO was happy to provide a high-level dryer vent cleaning in exchange for letting the crew play with some kittens afterward. If you are interested in adopting a cat while also supporting a great cause, please contact The Cat Connection. If you need an Emergency Ready Plan created for your business or a dryer vent cleaning, reach out to Aaron Roy.
More About The Cat Connection
The Cat Connection is an almost all-volunteer (one employee) 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is: to rescue stray and abandoned cats and find loving homes for them through our foster and adoption programs, to help decrease the local homeless cat population through our Trap-Neuter-Return-Maintain program, and to provide resources to help people in our community retain and care for their cats.
Grill Safety Tips
Follows these grill safety tips to prevent a house fire
Spring has sprung which means warmer weather and of course…grilling! My wife and I bought our first home back in October of this year and have been counting down the days until we could grill on our back deck. We came from living in a triple-decker in Boston with no outdoor space except our back deck on the third floor, which meant no grilling for safety purposes. Grilling on the third-floor back deck of an older building poses a serious fire risk. Now that I have a large back deck with nothing underneath it except the patio and lawn, I figured I was in the clear to grill as much as my heart desired. Just 2 days after purchasing my first ever grill, SERVPRO responded to a large house fire in Weston, MA. I was speaking to the neighbor who called it in and she let me know it was caused by their grill on the back deck. I immediately thought to myself, “How could this happen?” It was a devastating fire and it made me consider what needs to happen to safely operate a grill at your home.
- Put your grill in a safe location - never grill indoors and place your grill at least 10 feet away from your home. Be sure there is nothing above or around your grill at any time.
- Clean your grill regularly - clean it before each use to remove any grease buildup that could fuel potential fires.
- Check your grill for problems - pay special attention to your propane or gas line for leaks.
- Wear the right gear - wear gloves and long sleeves to protect yourself from heat but be sure clothing is not too loose.
- Be ready to put out a fire - have baking soda and a fire extinguisher close by just in case.
- Use caution when using lighter fluid - only use lighter fluid to start a charcoal grill and use it sparingly.
- Don’t turn on the gas while the grill is closed - do not let propane build up inside of a closed grill causing a fireball to occur when you ignite it.
- Never leave a grill unattended - not ever!
- Don’t overload your grill - more meat = more grease which can cause a flare-up.
- Use a meat thermometer - flame-licked meats can look done on the outside but are not cooked all the way through which can lead to food poisoning.
- Don’t cross-contaminate foods - don’t place your corn on the cob where raw meat was sitting to prevent possible cross-contamination.
- Always turn off your grill - create a routine when you are done cooking to be sure you have turned off the grill, fuel, or let charcoal cool safely.
Tips to Prepare Your Property for a Storm
Be sure your Massachusetts home is protected from storm damage
As we enter the summer months in Massachusetts the chances of severe storms will increase. Now is a good time to inspect the property of your home or business to be sure you are prepared. Here are some preventative measures you can take to protect your property.
- Trim trees and clear limbs. Heavy winds can push limbs into your home causing structural damage or broken windows. Heavy rainfall can cause trees with shallow root systems to pull out of the ground
- Secure fences. Be sure your fences are secured properly so they cannot be lifted from the ground and thrown against your home.
- Secure furniture. If you have patio furniture outdoors make sure it is secured to the ground or bring it inside. Also, be sure playground equipment and/or toys are stored.
- Check gutters. Inspect your gutters twice a year for any damage. Have downspouts carrying water away from your home and clear gutters of any debris to ensure proper flow.
- Protect critical areas. Your roof, windows, and doors are vulnerable during extreme weather. Consider shutters or board-ups if you expect hurricane-like conditions.
- Protect what is most important. Document high-value items in your home in case of an insurance claim. Protect important documents from water damage and secure them.
- Stock and emergency kit. Have food, water, flashlights, radio, cell phone charger, batteries, and basic first aid supplies in case you lose power for an extended period.
- Create an emergency plan. Have an evacuation plan ready that you and your family can rely on if needed.
If you experience storm damage at your home, call SERVPRO to repair it. We will work directly with your insurance company through the claim so you do not have to.
Is Storm Damage Tax Deductible?
Do you qualify for the casualty tax deduction?
As we enter hurricane preparedness week and consider all of the various ways to get ahead of storm damage, it occurred to me to also think about what happens after severe weather damages your property. You can be the most prepared, have the proper insurance, and still end up with significant damage that is not reimbursable. I sincerely hope this does not happen to you but if it does, here is some insight on tax deductions due to storm damage. The deduction is called, the casualty loss deduction and was designed by the government to help taxpayers who suffer financial losses due to storm damage. Much like insurance coverage, the loss must be caused by an event that is sudden, unexpected, or unusual. Instances could include lightning, tornadoes, earthquakes, vandalism, riots, fires, floods, storms, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, car accidents, and shipwrecks. The deduction does not include normal wear and tear or accidental damage like your cat jumping on your 60-inch flatscreen TV and knocking it to the ground. Let’s say storm damage causes $15k worth of damage to your home. Your insurance, either by an endorsement or adjustment, will cover $10k of it and reimburse you. What about the remaining $5k? You can use the casualty loss deduction and write off $5k of taxable income when you file. I am oversimplifying this of course for the sake of explanation, you would be wise to hire a tax professional to walk you through exactly how to use this deduction. Nonetheless, you are now aware that you can use this deduction, which I hope you do not have to, to help mitigate the financial loss caused by storm damage.
Is Storm Damage Covered by Homeowners Insurance?
Review your insurance policy to see what storm damage is covered
As hurricane season approaches and extreme weather conditions continue to increase in severity, Massachusetts is sure to experience intense summer storms this year. You may be wondering, “Does homeowners insurance cover storm damage?” The answer is yes and no. In general, your policy will cover damage caused by lightning, hail, and wind. Most policies will not cover earthquakes and floods as those are separate types of insurance. You should review your policy to see what is covered, what is not, and if you need additional coverage. If you live in an area that is prone to flooding and/or earthquakes you may be required to buy additional coverage by your bank or lender as a part of your mortgage agreement. You can help limit storm damage by clearing storm drains around your property regularly. Conduct routine maintenance of sump pumps and have backup power for them in case you lose it. Inspect gutters and downspouts to make sure they are moving water away from your home. Check weatherstripping and caulking around any openings in your foundation like bulkheads and windows. Maintain grading around your property so that it is sloped away from the building. In some cases, installing a french drain to divert water is necessary to keep water out of your basement. If you do experience storm damage give us a call right away so we can begin mitigation as soon as possible. We will work with your insurance company directly so you don’t have to.
Hot Water Heater Bursts in Framingham, MA
This is the cause of loss, a hot water heater tank that burst to cause the basement to flood.
It was Monday evening around 7pm and I was just about to sit down to eat dinner with my wife when my phone rang. Working for a company that has 24/7 emergency response services means I should answer my phone whenever possible. Sure enough, it was a gentleman who was having a bad night. His tenant in Framingham, MA just called to let him know that the hot water heater tank burst. Water flooded the basement covering the floor and its contents. I asked if this was something he wanted us to look at tonight or tomorrow and he responded, “this is something that shouldn’t wait”. I would have to agree since water moves quickly and causes damage wherever it flows. I had our on-call project manager reach out to set up a time to come out and take a look at the situation. Our project manager got there around 10pm and we had a crew at the property until midnight extracting water and setting up drying equipment. Our office worked directly with the property owner’s insurance company for billing so he did not have to. We left air movers and dehumidifiers in the basement for 3 days until everything was dried out. I think this particular job highlights exactly what SERVPRO brings to the table. We are available 24/7 with advanced technology and techniques. We are preferred vendors with most insurance carriers and can work with them directly for billing. We take the stress out of a highly stressful situation and make it "Like it never even happened." When you experience a water loss at your home or business, call the PROs at 781-861-0500.
Commercial Water Loss at Biotech Lab Space in Waltham, MA
SERVPRO is faster to any size disaster
Our office was called to respond to a commercial water loss in Waltham, MA on a Friday afternoon. The cause of loss was an accidental discharge of a sprinkler head. This job required coordination between multiple large corporations which we managed seamlessly to accommodate all needs and to produce effective and rapid results, to establish a safe environment (with engineered controls as needed - HEPA filtered air filtration devices), and to allow all zones to be operational so the businesses were not interrupted. Including the high-tech state-of-the-art biochemical laboratory.
We managed the procurement and application of supplemental power due via a 100 kW portable generator, 400 AMP feeder panel, and 8 power distribution boxes, to the limited power available as a result of shutdowns made by our customers electrician. Shutdowns were sparked by concerns of water intrusion into outlets.
We managed drying in two zones. The Second Floor Zone equated to 16,233.21 Square Feet and the Lower Level Zone of 2876.72 Square Feet.
Equipment was provided by, installed by, and monitored by SERVPRO. Equipment was installed based on the scientific calculations outlined in the ANSI/IICRC S500 Standard.
- 124 Axial Air Movers (Fans)
- 40 Dehumidifiers
- 8 Air filtration devices (HEPA filtered)
- 2 4-optic Hydroxyl Generators
- 8 Power distribution boxes
- 1 400 AMP feeder panel
We applied learned and certified tactics to facilitate a dry-in-place procedure in order to eliminate the need for demolition and saving 10's of thousands in carpet replacement, drywall replacement, and repainting. Another huge benefit of drying in place to avoid this demolition is that operational downtime is significantly reduced from potentially multiple weeks down to 3-4 days. This effectively reduces the loss of profit for the clients.
This building houses a world-famous and highly reputable biotech company which is ranked as the third-largest biotech firm globally. Their research focuses on finding cures to rare diseases, rare blood disorders, and has groundbreaking research on neurology, immunology, and oncology. Their work is fundamental to creating a better, safer, healthier world for today, tomorrow, and all the future to come. Any time out of operation is extremely harmful to their operational goals and needs. Those needs are in discovering ways to cure mankind. In essence, they are working to save the world and with great success. That's why having SERVPRO of Waltham is the best tool at their disposal when it comes to mitigating the loss and making it "Like it never even happened." We save their world so they can save ours!
Residential Fire in Wilmington, MA
Cold temperatures and heat from the flames caused this window to explode allowing smoke to billow into the home.
Our office recently responded to a porch fire in Wilmington, MA. The source of the fire is believed to be a cigarette that was not extinguished properly. The fire occurred on a cold night and the heat of the flames combined with cooler temperatures caused a window on the porch to explode. Smoke billowed into the home from this window covering the entire interior in soot. There was extensive damage to the porch itself and vinyl siding on the exterior of the home. All occupants were able to escape safely and put out the fire with a fire extinguisher before the fire department arrived on site. In addition to exterior physical damage and interior soot damage, there was a strong odor. Just like when your clothes smell after being around a campfire but much more intense. Not only does the smoke cause a strong odor but the melting of the vinyl siding left a particularly unpleasant smell as well. SERVPRO arrived within one hour of being called and had a crew out that night to begin work. All smoke and soot damage was cleaned up from the interior within a few days. After that, odor removal equipment was left at the home for some time. The end result is "Like it never even happened." Reconstruction on the exterior of the home is also being handled by our franchise to repair the porch, window, and vinyl siding. If you experience a fire at your home or business, give us a call to restore it.
Seasonal Flooding & Tips to Prevent a Flooded Basement
Don't let your basement fill with water during seasonal flooding this year
We are approaching that time of year when snow and ice melt completely from surfaces across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Coupled with that, snowstorms become thunderstorms, further increasing the amount of water soaking the landscape. Melting and rain showers can also increase the flow in waterways. When flooding occurs, the channel of a river or stream is filled causing water to move into the floodplain, slowing down the flow of water. As the water slows it can carry less and less material. The sand, silt, leaves, and other materials that were once carried while water was moving swiftly down the channel are dropped into the floodplain causing a slower run downstream. All of this water has to go somewhere and with high water tables it may not be absorbed into the ground before reaching your home. Now would be a good time to check your foundation for any cracks and get them sealed. Check your sub pump and perform normal maintenance to be sure it is working properly. If you do not have a sub-pump and experience regular flooding in your basement, consider installing one. Check your gutters and downspouts to be sure they are routing water effectively away from your property. Check weatherstripping and caulking around any openings in your foundation like your bulkhead or windows. Maintain grading around your home to be sure it is sloped to move water away from the property. Do not plant too close to your home as they can crack concrete and restrict drainage. Consider installing a French Drain to divert water and prevent floods. If you do experience a flooded basement give us a call right away. We have crews standing by 24/7 to respond to emergencies and mitigate damage.