Recent Posts

Kitchen Grease Fire

7/19/2017 (Permalink)

Your home’s kitchen is where heat, electricity, water, and grease come together. It’s no wonder, kitchen fires are the number one cause of home fires.  And the most common type of kitchen fire is a grease fire.  A grease fire is extremely dangerous as it can get out of control quickly and spread from the stove throughout the kitchen and other rooms of the house. 

There are two common types of grease fires in the kitchen.  One is in the cooking pan itself and the other is under the burner in the drip pan. Often, drip pan fires result from previous cooking sessions. When something is spilled into the drip pan it cannot be cleaned until the burner and the stove has cooled.  It’s not uncommon for people to forget to go back and clean the drip pan, setting themselves up for trouble the next time they cook.    

Here are some tips for preventing kitchen grease fires:

  1. Before cooking anything, make sure the burner is cool and wipe up any spills in the drip pan and around the burner before turning on the heat.
  2. The most common reason for a grease fire is leaving a hot pan unattended. Keep your eye on all pans while cooking.
  3. Pay attention to heat ratings for cooking oil. Some oils can be heated more than others before catching fire.  If you are cooking and the oil starts to smoke, it is too hot.  The flash point of a grease fire is 500 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease will smoke furiously before it ignites, so if you notice smoke, turn down the heat immediately.
  4. Keep cookbooks, towels, paper towels and anything combustible away from the stove. A grease fire can quickly turn into a bigger fire if it catches onto other combustibles. 
  5. Avoid heating grease before putting food into it. Food can fall quickly into the grease and make it splash out, causing grease burns to you or hitting the heat source and catching fire.
  6. When deep frying, use a pan or cooking container designed for deep frying that will allow equal space of the grease and food contents above what you are frying. For example, if you are cooking chicken and the grease and chicken are three inches deep, the pan sides should be at least six inches deep. 
  7. Have a class ABC fire extinguisher in your kitchen. Experts recommend having at least three fire extinguishers in your home; in the kitchen, garage and main living area.
  8. If a pan does catch fire, the best thing to do is smoother it, by using an oven mitt and placing a lid on top of the pan or by using a fire extinguisher. NEVER throw water on the fire or try to run it to the sink or outside. 

And if a kitchen grease fire does get out of control, resulting in damage or odor to your home, our experts at SERVPRO of Appleton are here to help.  We can clean your home "Like it never even happened."   

Preventing Attic Mold

6/2/2017 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation Preventing Attic Mold Anatomy of an Ice Dam

Anywhere in your home with moist, warm air is an ideal environment for mold to grow.  For some of us, moist, warm air can be found in our attics.  And unfortunately, many of us rarely, if ever, go up in our attics, so any problems can go unchecked for long periods of time.  It’s important to check your attic periodically for common causes of attic mold.

Anything that introduces water or moisture to your attic can be a problem.  Things like:

1)       Leaking Roof - Sometimes a roof leak is bad enough that water leaks into the floors below and becomes immediately apparent.  However often the leak is small enough to cause attic mold, without being apparent in the living spaces of the home. 

2)      Dryer Vents, Plumbing Vents, and Kitchen or Bathroom Fans vented in to the attic -  This practice can pump warm, moist air into the attic where it can be trapped and begin the cycle of mold growth.  It is always best to vent these items outside of the home.

3)      Missing or Improperly Installed Insulation -   Missing or improper installation of the wrong kind of insulation can cause problems in multiple ways.  Moisture from the lower levels of the home can rise and get trapped in the attic.  Additionally, it can create moisture or condensation in your attic.  Think of your attic like a cold glass of ice water outside on a hot summer day.  The water is a much lower temperature than the air around it and condensation develops on the glass.  If there is missing or improperly installed insulation, this same principle can apply when your home is air conditioned to 70 degrees, but your attic temperature is 99 degrees.  Lastly, missing or improperly installed insulation can lead to number four……

4)      Ice Damming – An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow (water) from draining off the roof. The water that backs up behind the dam can leak into your home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and create a perfect environment for mold growth. It’s important before winter to clean your gutters so that winter’s melting snow and rain can properly drain off your roof.  Additionally, improper insulation can contribute to ice damming by allowing warm air from inside your home to escape into the attic.

5)      Inadequate Ventilation - It seems counter-intuitive, but the basic ventilation principal for your attic is to keep it as cool as possible during the cold season.  Pay attention to your roof after snow storms.  If you look at your roof several days after a snow and you see an even distribution covering your roof, that’s a good sign that your attic is properly ventilated.  If on the other hand, you see sections where snow has melted, that suggests an area in the attic where warm air has been trapped instead of being properly vented to the exterior.  Make sure your soffit vents are clear and free of things like debris, bird’s nests and insulation.

6)      Water Heaters or Furnaces installed in the attic -  While not a common practice in Wisconsin, sometimes homes without a basement will have water heaters or furnaces in the attic. You may also see this practice in larger homes with several heating and cooling zones, as well as spa style bathrooms with a huge soaking tub, where it is common practice to have designated systems to support these luxuries.  Unfortunately, this practice can contribute to adding moisture to your attic and contribute to mold growth if there are any leaks from these items.    

Cleaning Your Grill

5/11/2017 (Permalink)

Summer grilling season is upon us!  Here are some tips for getting your grill ready for the season.

"To clean the grill surface when it is heavily caked with baked-on food, follow this procedure.  Simply wrap the rack in a peace of heavy-duty aluminum foil, dull side facing out.  Heat the barbecue to high heat and place the rack over the coals or flame for approximately 10 to 12 minutes.  When you remove the foil after it has cooled, all the burned-on grease and food drippings will fall off and your rack will be spotless and ready to grill again."

To clean the outside of your grill, try this fast and easy method.  "It works well on charcoal and gas grills and will make them look almost like new.  Take some Go-Jo Waterless Hand Cleaner (available at grocery stores, hardware stores and home centers) and rub it on the outside of a cool grill with an old rag or paper towel.  Work it into the metal well, paying special attention to any grease or barbeque sauce spots.  Do not rinse; instead, take paper towels and buff the grill surface and watch as the dirt is replaced by a great shine." 

"Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean" Linda Cobb

Dehumidifier Recalls

5/9/2017 (Permalink)

We all know that spring and summer can bring increased humidity levels in the air.  This can present a special problem for areas of our home that are already prone to high humidity levels like basements and laundry rooms.  Dehumidifiers reduce indoor humidity which is important because excessive humidity can cause mold, mildew and an increase in other potential allergens. Additionally, humidity can make the indoor temperature feel hotter than it is.

But you should also be aware that as with any other electrical appliance in your home, dehumidifiers bring the risk of fire. They have numerous moving parts that generate significant amounts of heat, including motors, compressors and condensers. Dehumidifiers often run for long periods of time out of view in the basement, which amplifies the risk. 

Don’t forget to clean and maintain your dehumidifier regularly according to the manufacturer’s directions and be aware that in recent years, there have been multiple dehumidifier recalls due to fire risk.  SERVPRO of Appleton and SERVPRO of Winnebago County has been called in to clean up multiple fires caused by dehumidifiers.

In November of 2016, ABC News reported that a recall of millions of dangerous dehumidifiers that can overheat, smoke and catch fire was reannounced, in an effort to get more consumers to check their units.  Gree USA and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission jointly publicized the recall for a second time.  The CPSC first announced the recall in September of 2013.  The recall affects about 2.5 million dehumidifiers sold in the United States and 55,000 sold in Canada.

According to ABC News, “The appliances were manufactured by Gree Electric Appliances of China and sold under various brand names including Danby, De’Longhi, Fedders, Fellini, Frigidaire, GE, Gree, Kenmore, Norpole, Premiere, Seabreeze, SoleusAir and SuperClima.

Retailers that sold them included AAFES, HH Gregg, Home Depot, Kmart, Lowe’s, Menards, Mills Fleet Farm, Sam’s Club, Sears, Walmart and other stores nationwide and in Canada, and online at Amazon.com and Ebay.com.

The recall involves various models of 20, 25, 30, 40, 45, 50, 65 and 70-pint dehumidifiers.

For a full list of affected model numbers, click here.

The model number and date code are on a sticker on the back, front or side of the dehumidifier.

If you have one of these dehumidifiers, immediately unplug and stop using it and contact Gree for a full refund. You may call toll-free at (866) 853-2802 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time Monday through Friday or go to www.greeusa.com and click on “Recall” for more information.”

In November of 2016, ABC News also reported that, “Midea announced a recall of 3.4 million units – for similar reports of smoke and fire -- sold under these brands: Airworks, Alen, Arcticaire, Arctic King, Beaumark, Coolworks, ComfortAire, Comfort Star, Continental Electic, Crosley, Daewoo, Danby, Danby & Designer, Dayton, Degree, Diplomat, Edgestar, Excell, Fellini, Forest Air, Frigidaire, GE, Grunaire, Hanover, Honeywell, Homestyles, Hyundai, Ideal Air, Kenmore (Canada), Keystone, Kul, Midea, Nantucket, Ocean Breeze, Pelonis, Perfect Aire, Perfect Home, Polar Wind, Premiere, Professional Series, Royal Sovereign, Simplicity, Sunbeam, SPT, Sylvania, TGM, Touch Point, Trutemp, Uberhaus, Westpointe, Winix, and Winixl.”

Be sure to check if your dehumidifier is one of the recalled units.

 

 

 

Cleaning Your Refrigerator/Freezer

4/27/2017 (Permalink)

"When you wipe out the refrigerator, always use a cloth or sponge moistened with white vinegar.  It leaves a clean, fresh scent and helps prevent mildew.

A dab of vanilla, lemon or orange extract on a  small pad of cotton will keep the refrigerator fresh-smelling without a perfume odor.

Many common refrigerator odors may be removed by placing a small tub filled with charcoal in the middle rack in the refrigerator.  I use the charcoal made for fish tanks.

If you are shutting off a refrigerator, be sure to prop the door open a crack for air circulation and put a container of fresh coffee grounds inside to ward off unpleasant odors.. For strong odor removal, a container or nylon stocking with coffee grounds in it works wonders.

For cleaning ease, wipe the inside of the refrigerator, including shelves, with a cloth dipped in glycerin, available in the hand cream section at the drugstore. This light coating will keep spills from sticking.  Even milk or sticky substances will wipe right out.

Try using the glycerin in freezers, too.  That way spills, even though frozen, wipe right out.

Wash out the freezer with a solution of 1 gallon warm water and 1/4 cup borax to clean and deodorize.  Rinse and dry."

Source: "Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean" by Linda Cobb 

Flooded Basement after Heavy Rain?

4/26/2017 (Permalink)

The spring and summer rainy season is upon us and you may find yourself with water in your basement. 


The first question many homeowners ask is “Will my homeowner’s insurance cover the cost of this mess being cleaned up and dried out by SERVPRO?”  Only your insurance agent and/or adjustor can say for certain whether a claim will be covered.  But here are some guidelines to consider in such situations.


The source of the water is a major factor.  The most common sources of water in your basement following heavy rains include the following: 



  1. Water leaks in from the outside through a basement window or other opening

  2. Water overflows from your sump pump crock as the result of a failed sump pump

  3. Water seeps up from cracks in your concrete floor or foundation as the result of a failed sump pump

  4. Your sewer system backs up into your basement


Water coming in from the outside through a basement window or other opening due to excessive rain or rising bodies of lakes, rivers, streams, etc, typically falls under the category of a flood, and most homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover floods.  According to a 2016 poll conducted by the Insurance Information Institute, only 12 percent of homeowner’s have flood insurance.  To get flood coverage, you may be able to buy a separate flood policy through the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).  Your local insurance agent can help you determine if such a policy makes sense for you, and can help you purchase this type of policy. 


But what if the water came from your sewer system or a failed sump pump?  In most cases, a standard homeowner’s insurance policy does not provide coverage for water damage caused by sump pump failure.  However, this type of coverage can be very affordable and can easily be added on to your standard homeowner’s policy in the form of what’s called an endorsement.  When this type of endorsement is active, it provides for coverage of property damage caused by water that has managed to back up and into your home from pipes, sewer systems, drains, sump pumps, water-service, or any additional system that transfers fluids to and from your home.    


The spring rainy season is a perfect time to check with your insurance agent to ensure that you have this very important coverage.  So that if disaster strikes, SERVPRO of Appleton and SERVPRO of Winnebago County can make it "Like it never even happened."     


 

"Mold Removal" vs Remediation

4/29/2016 (Permalink)

“Mold Removal” vs. Remediation

What’s the Difference?

Since microscopic mold spores exist naturally almost everywhere, indoors and outdoors, removing all mold from a home or business is impossible. Some restoration businesses advertise “mold removal” and even guarantee to remove all mold. This is a fallacy.

A qualified restoration company understands the science behind mold and mold growth. SERVPRO Franchise Professionals have the training and expertise to remediate the mold in your home or business. Mold remediation focuses on getting mold levels back to normal, natural levels.

Every mold damage scenario is different and requires a unique solution, but the general mold remediation process stays the same. To learn more about our mold remediation process.

  • Step 1: Emergency Contact (920) 832-1110
  • Step 2: Inspection and Mold Damage Assessment
  • Step 3: Mold Containment
  • Step 4: Air Filtration
  • Step 5: Removing Mold and Mold-Infested Materials
  • Step 6: Cleaning Contents and Belongings
  • Step 7: Restoration

Signs of Mold? Call Today (920) 832-1110

Understanding Mold

When water intrudes into your property, mold growth can start in as little as 48 hours. Consider the following mold facts:

  • Mold is present almost everywhere, indoors and outdoors.
  • Mold spores are microscopic, float along in the air, and may enter your home through windows, doors, or AC/heating systems or even hitch a ride indoors on your clothing or a pet.
  • Mold spores thrive on moisture. Mold spores can quickly grow into colonies when exposed to water. These colonies may produce allergens and irritants and have the potential to cause other health effects. 
  • Before mold remediation can begin, any sources of water or moisture must be addressed. Otherwise, the mold may return.
  • Mold often produces a strong, musty odor, and that odor can lead you to possible mold problem areas.
  • Even higher-than-normal indoor humidity can support mold growth. Keep indoor humidity below 45 percent.