House Fire

Common Causes of House Fires Over Holidays

house fireHappy Holidays

The winter seasons has a lot of holidays.  The freezing cold and shortened days makes people want to chase away the gloom.  From October to February, we have holiday after holiday, from Halloween to Valentine’s Day.  The holidays in the middle, especially Thanksgiving and the December holidays, feature big meals and family events.  It’s a wonderful time and the last thing you want is to have it spoiled by a house fire.

 

House Fire

House fires are one of the most devastating accidents you can suffer.  They could potentially destroy your entire home, along with all your possessions. Even if they don’t get that out of control, there will still be some damage from both the flames and the smoke. The best way to avoid a house fire is to prevent it.  For that, you need to know what to worry about.  Here are some of the most common causes of house fires.

1. Cooking Fires

Most house fires are caused by cooking-related incidents.  They account for about 58% and are usually caused by someone leaving a stove on.  If you want to prevent a cooking fire, be sure you always stay near your cooking equipment while it’s in use. Don’t ever walk away from the stove, even if you think it’s just for a moment.  Something as simple as leaving the room to answer a phone call can be all it takes for a fire to start.  Always use a timer.  If the timer has a loud alarm, all the better, so in case you do get distracted, you’ll have a reminder.  Always follow cooking instructions, especially when you’re cooking something big, like a Thanksgiving turkey.  Finally, make sure that you keep anything flammable away from the cooking surfaces.  Do not put anything on the stovetop and store flammable liquids and powders away from it.

2. Heating

This may come as a shock, but heating equipment gets hot.  I know, right?  Who’d have ever believed it?  That’s why heating systems are the second biggest cause of fires.  Usually this results from a failure to clean the heater or chimney.  Dust is flammable and can easily catch fire if it chokes the heater too much.  Make sure you have it cleaned every year.  Portable space heaters are also a serious risk. They get very hot and can easily set fire to nearby substances, like dirty laundry carelessly dropped on the floor, or the blankets on your bed if you set them too close.  If you set one up in your home office, be sure that it’s away from any paper.  They also need regular cleaning.  Don’t take any chances with them.

3. Electrical Fires

Electrical fires are another of the most common causes. Faulty lighting fixtures cause most electrical fires.  Either they’re installed to close to something flammable, or they’re installed incorrectly and short out.  Other causes of electrical fires include overloading outlets by plugging in too many power strips, using the wrong type of bulb for a lighting fixture, and using appliances with frayed cords.  Always have a qualified electrician install and repair your electrical systems.  And never, NEVER overload an outlet.

 

4. Open Flames

Especially over the holidays, people like to light fires. Usually in the fireplace, but you also need to worry about candles, Christmas decorations, and naughty children with matches.  If you want to start a fire in your home, make sure the fireplace and chimney are clean and clear of debris.  If you light candles, don’t leave them unattended and make sure you put them out before going to bed.  Avoid using real candles for Christmas tree decorations.  If you smoke, do not do so before going to bed, as it’s easy to fall asleep with a lit cigarette.  If a lit cigarette starts a fire in your bed, the chances of dying in a house fire go up dramatically for obvious reasons.  Finally, make sure you always store your candles, matches, and lighters in a secret place where your children can’t find them.

 

Dryer Fire5. Misuse of Appliances

Appliances are extremely convenient, but they can be a cause of fires if not used appropriately.  As electrical devices, they are subject to many of the same risks. Frayed cords can cause shorts and sparks that can light up many of the things you store in your kitchen or around the house.  Drier fires can happen if you fail to clean the lint filter.  Always make sure you follow the instructions and safety precautions on your appliances.  These will be specified in the user’s manual.

 

Don’t Forget About Fire Alarms

A working fire alarm is the difference between losing a little and losing a lot.  It can even be a life or death situation.  60% of all deaths in house fires happen in houses that don’t have proper smoke alarms.  While most homes have them built in during construction by law these days, older homes may not have them, so be sure to check up on them.  Check the batteries to make sure they are still good.  The battery life on most commercially sold fire alarms will be many years, but you still need to do tests to make sure nothing’s faulty.

 

We’re Here To Help

Alpine 100% No Smoke Smell Guarantee Seal            The best way to avoid a fire is to prevent it.  It’s easy to think that it’ll never happen to you, but it always could.  Make sure you take all the needed precautions.  If you do, you shouldn’t need to worry.  Still, nothing can guarantee a fire won’t start.   If something should go wrong, Alpine Cleaning and Restoration is here to help.  Read our handy article on what to do immediately following a house fire.  After that,  get in touch with us and we can help restore your home from any fire damage.  When we’re done, you won’t smell any traces of smoke.

Stay safe, and enjoy your holidays.

Ice Dam

3 Common Problems Caused by Ice Dams

Ice Dam

Image copyright: Dennis M. Crookshanks

What is an Ice Dam?

An ice dam is a major problem for many homes during the winter.  Snow builds up on your roof and when the roof warms, the snow melts.  As the water flows down away from the heated areas, it freezes again.  As the ice builds up, it can begin to cause all sorts of damage to your home.  Here are 3 major problems that can come up.

1. Icicles

Icicles are a fact of winter, but while they may look fine, they are a safety hazard.  This is especially true when they form on the edge of your house.  As they get larger and heavier, they can break off and fall. The damage a two-foot-long spear of ice can do to your car – or your head – can’t be laughed off.  Ice dams form large numbers of icicles in a short time, making them an immediate risk to your personal safety.

2. Leaks

With the repeated melting and freezing of snow on your room, some of the water will be backed up underneath your shingles.  This will soak the sheathing and leak into the attic.  From there, it can leak further into your home.  This can lead to rotting and mold inside your house, which is expensive to repair.

3. Roof Damage

Along with the leaks, the ice dam will also cause damage to the shingles on your roof.  They could rot and fall off, which hurts the value of your home and can raise your insurance rates if you don’t take care of it.

Along with damage to the shingles, it also puts a lot of weight on your guttering.  If allowed to sit, it could bend the guttering, or even break it off completely.

 

How Do I Prevent an Ice Dam?

Once the snow has already fallen, it can be tough to prevent ice dams.  There are products you can buy to melt the ice and tools to scrape it off, but using them requires you to climb up on the roof during the winter.  This, you might be able to guess, is dangerous.  There are also cleaning companies who will be happy to help remove the ice and repair the damage if you’d rather not take the risk yourself.

However, the best way to prevent ice dams is to take some steps before the snow falls.  For starters, proper ventilation can help you keep the roof cool so the ice doesn’t melt.  But ventilation alone won’t do the trick.  You need to do everything you can to make sure your attic is kept as close to the same temperature as the outside.  To do this, apply insulation to your attic floor.  Sealing in the air leaks of your attic will not only help prevent ice dams, but will also keep your living spaces warmer.  Secondly, minimize heat sources in your attic.  Check for uninsulated lights, ductwork, or exhaust fans.  All of these can bring hot air from your house to your attic.

Finally, before the winter comes, make sure you clean out your gutters.  If your gutters are clogged with fallen leaves, then the melted snow has nowhere to go. It will cling to the leaves and freeze, causing ice to build up faster.

 

We’re Here To Help

Alpine Cleaning and Restoration is always here to help if you need it.  While we hope a little preparation before the coming snowfall will prevent the problem, things can always go wrong.  Whether ice dams end up causing damage to your guttering, roof, or just cause leaks and mold, we are able to help you repair the damage.  Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need our help.

Protein fire

What To Do About Protein Fires

What is That Smell?

Protein fire            It happened a few weeks ago.  You were cooking some chicken, when out of nowhere the doorbell rings. It was Betty, from down the street. It wasn’t anything important.  She just wanted to talk.  She’s old, her kids all moved out years ago, and they never call her, and she wants to tell you all about it.

At length and in excruciatingly unnecessary detail.

When she finally leaves, you’re so relieved you sit down by the TV to relax.  Only, what’s that smell?  It turns out, you forgot to set a timer on the chicken and now it’s burned.  Well, that sucks.  You clean up the mess, throw out the burned meat and decide to order take out.  You don’t think much of it at the time.  Two weeks later, there’s a smoky reek in the kitchen, but you can’t see anything smoke damage.

 

Protein Fire

A protein fire results from burning any protein rich fibers, such as those you find in most meat, or eggs. What’s so remarkable about protein fires is that they don’t actually look like fires.  They don’t have large flames and they don’t produce visible smoke. This is a result of the slow-cooking process used to cook protein rich foods.  The animal fat in protein burns down to a fine, nearly invisible mist. While you can’t see it, the mist will coat everything in a sticky, rancid residue.  It gets everywhere, coating your stovetop, clothes, carpets, tiles, and penetrating the paint on your walls.  Any porous surface soaks it up.

 

It Won’t Go Away!

The worst part of a protein fire is that the residue cannot be cleaned by normal means.  Ordinary household cleaners won’t get into pores the residue sinks into, so the stink lingers.  Months down the line you’ll find yourself wondering what the smell is and how to get rid of it.  What do you do?

You Need Professional Assistance

Because of the way the residue penetrates into porous materials, standard cleaning job won’t do.  You need a thorough cleaning.  Only specialized cleaners will break up the residue and you need special cleaning techniques to get deep enough to scrub that smell away.  In some cases, even that may not be enough, so it’s necessary to apply a sealing agent.  You may also need to repaint tainted surfaces. The process is lengthy, taking several days and multiple cleanings to completely remove the scent.

 

Exercise Kitchen Safety

The best way to deal with a protein fire is to avoid having one in the first place.  For that, you just need to follow some basic kitchen safety rules.

Remember to set a timer whenever you cook something. It’s very easy to forget something in the oven, especially if you get distracted.  A timer with a loud alarm will save you from this mistake.

If you are frying something on the stovetop, such as eggs or meat, do not ever walk away with the stovetop still on.  If the phone or doorbell rings, or one of your kids starts shouting at you from the basement, turn the stove off.  It only takes a few minutes for something to burn, and a few minutes is often how long distractions will take, so don’t take the risk.

These two simple steps will reduce your chances of a protein fire – or any kind of fire – to almost 0.

 

What To Do

If a protein fire does start, there are a few things you need to do right away.

First, extinguish the fire.  Turn off the stove and remove the pan from heat.  Remove the burned meat from your house as soon as possible.  Don’t throw it away inside, or it will continue to spread the smell.

Second, remember to keep your hands clean.  If you get the residue on your hands, you will spread it to everything you touch.  Put on some good cleaning gloves before you do anything so you don’t get it on your hands.

Third, cover your furniture, rugs and carpets, and upholstery with old sheets, or plastic covers.  This will help prevent the residue from spreading around your house.

Alpine 100% No Smoke Smell Guarantee Seal            Finally, call us as soon as you can.  Remember that this job requires special chemicals that only professionals can get a hold of and special cleaning techniques only we know.  If you try to clean it yourself, you’ll most likely just end up spreading the residue – and the smell – around.  The longer you wait, the more the residue will sink in and the more chances there are of the people who live in the house spreading it by accident.

So, don’t hesitate; call the experts at Alpine Cleaning and Restoration right away.  Our fire restoration team will get on the job ASAP.  We’ll have it cleaned up as quickly as possible.  By the time we’re done, there won’t be any trace of the smell left behind.

 

house fire

What to Do After a House Fire

What Should You Do After a House Fire?

house fireHow many times have you doubted whether or not you left the stove on? Curling iron? Did you leave any candles lit? Did you put out that cigarette all the way? We try to be as careful as we can when it comes to fire safety but unfortunately accidents do happen. It can take a while to get over the loss you suffer if you become a victim of fire damage. It can be very emotionally draining but there are things you can do to make the recovery process easier when disaster strikes.

Don’t Go Back In After a Fire

Safety is the most important thing when it comes to the moments after fire damage.  You’ll be tempted to run inside to see what can be salvaged. Don’t do it. Only fire fighters and emergency responders will be able to tell you when or if it’s safe to return to a fire damaged structure. Nothing is worth risking your life for.

Call Your Insurance Agent

Before we talk about this step, it’s important to note how important insurance is.  It’s a good idea to be fully covered. Make sure to get a policy that will cover you in case of a fire. If you have coverage, contact your insurance agent first.  Not only will they tell you what you need to do in order to get money to repair your damages, they can help assist you with immediate action.

Immediate Fixes

Once the fire crew has given the all clear, you will want to do a few specific things first.  If you had a sprinkler system go off you will need to start pumping out water. Cover any damaged windows and doors.  If the damage leaves you feeling overwhelmed, get a hold of your agent.  They can guide you through the process.

Make a List of What Needs Replaced

Many insurance agents will ask that you do make a list of your valuable belongings before any type of damage happens. It is a good idea to keep an up to date list because it will save you a headache if the worst happens. If you didn’t already have one, take a survey of your belongings so you can know the amount of loss you need to report to your insurance agency.

Save Your Receipts

Anything that you buy to repair your home after fire damage has the potential for reimbursement from your insurance company but you do need those receipts. If fire damage has made your home unlivable ask a friend or family member for a safe place to store all of your documentation. It will come in handy later.

Start Replacing Valuable Documents

There are a lot of things you’ll be thinking about after the fire.  Family heirlooms, jewelry, furniture; these are all things to worry about, but they might not be as important as you think.  Don’t forget about important documents you owned.  Look for birth certificates, social security cards, passports, credit cards and other important documents.  You don’t want to end up needing them only to find you don’t have them anymore.  Replacing them is very time consuming.  You want to get started as soon as possible.

The most important thing to remember when recovering from fire damage is to try and stay calm.  The safety of you and your family come first.  You can replace anything else. Rely on professionals like insurance agents to do the hard stuff for you, after all it’s their job.  And when you’re ready to get your house restored, be sure to get in touch.

basement floods

What to Do When Your Basement Floods

Basement flooding

Basement Floods

When your basement floods, it can be a nightmare.  The whole process of draining the area and preparing the damage can be really intimidating.  Alpine Cleaning and Restoration recommends that you follow these steps so that the clean up is more effective:

  • Stay SAFE and Recognize the Risks! Please DO NOT Risk Serious Injury

A flooded basement can be a serious health and safety risk.  If your basement floods, follow these rules to make sure you stay safe.

  • Avoid going down into the basement if possible.

In severe basement floods (water covering the basement floor to a depth of an inch or more), it’s best to stay out of the basement until the water is pumped out by a professional. Standing water in your basement can contain harmful bacteria, so wear protective clothing if you have to enter the area.

  • DO NOT touch electrical wiring or fixtures.

ALWAYS turn off electricity and natural gas before going into a flooded basement.  Electrical devices other than a battery-powered flashlight put you at risk of electric shock, so avoid using them.

basement floods

  • If it’s safe, Try to Determine the Cause and Shut Off the Failed Plumbing or Water Source as Quickly as You Can!

Heavy rains leading to swollen groundwater levels cause the majority of basement floods.  Some basement flooding is caused by plumbing, or other water source failures. If a water pipe, washer hose, or other pressurized water source fails, it could spew gallons into your basement. In this type of situation, your first step in solving the problem would be to turn off any failed plumbing to prevent more flooding. Sometimes the source of unwanted water is obvious, such as a busted water line. In other cases, water may be leaking into your basement in different areas.  You may need to took carefully to find them.

  • Call Alpine Cleaning and Restoration and We Will Be There to Help ASAP!

 Alpine Cleaning and Restoration Specialists are professionals who come to the rescue when you need someone to pump out a flooded basement.  We have the equipment to dry out your home before rot and mold has a chance to settle in. You will want to have us visit your home within 48 hours to avoid mold growth.  That’s why Alpine Cleaning and Restoration Specialists promises a 1-hour response time to all flooding emergencies.  Get in touch with us and we will be there imediatley.

Storm Damage Restoration

Disaster Strikes!

Disaster

Have you recently been the victim of a disaster?  Was it a Flood?  A Fire?  Hit by a storm?  Did Adrien borrow your leaf blower again?  We totally understand how that is.  Disasters can strike at any moment.  They’re hard to prepare for and costly to fix.  Insurance helps, but it still takes time for things to get back to normal.

It Could Be Worse

While we don’t want to make light of your situation, we just want to provide a little perspective.  Whatever it is, it could be worse.

A few years ago, the dam at Lake Delton burst when flood waters eroded its foundations.  Hundreds of homes were washed away.  Some were completely destroyed, ripped in half as the lake shore collapsed beneath them.

You don’t need a dam-break to destroy your home, though.  Sometimes, all it takes is a falling tree, as this report shows.  Nature is always the bigger beast.  When we get in the way, it will steamroll us.

But Don’t Worry!

Feel free to relax.  A disaster of this magnitude is uncommon.  While there are plenty of disasters that can happen anywhere, they’re unlikely to do this level of damage to your home.  With a bit of common sense and a good insurance policy, you can avoid the complete loss of your home.

Alpine’s Disaster Response Team

Should the worst actually happen, know that you’re not alone.  Alpine Cleaning and Restoration has a disaster response team on call 24/7 to help you recover.  Whether it’s fire, flood, or storm, please give us a call.  In emergencies, we promise to get there within 60 minutes of your call.  We’ll get you back on your feet as soon as possible, saving you time, money and stress.

Get in touch and find out how we can help you today!