firefighters prpearing for fire cleanup

Harmful effects of untreated smoke

Fire and smoke can inflict damage to both your property and health. While property damages can be immediately diagnosed and attended to, something like smoke inhalation can take its time to trigger health-related concerns in inhabitants. This being said, inhalation of untreated smoke from a house or office fires can infect your lungs, make it swollen or fill it with fluid.

This blog post features the top 5 harmful effects of untreated smoke that any property owner must be aware of.

Cost to restore

When your property suffers fire damage, restoring it via professional assistance should be your priority. Bear in mind that trying to restore any fire damage without proper tools and equipment can lead to untreated smoke lingering in the atmosphere which can slowly but steadily have a deteriorating effect in your health.

Additionally, if the condition is left unsupervised for too long, the smoke odor can be too pungent and difficult to neutralize. This has a direct impact on the treatment processes, equipments and time required, which in turn will escalate the cost.

Asset damage

Fire and smoke can cause both permanent and extensive damage to your assets. A mixture of smoke, water, and ash can contribute towards a corrosive element. This conglomerate can eat away walls, floors, and ceilings.

If not attended to immediately, untreated smoke can start decolorizing your walls and other surfaces. A common scenario is the walls turning yellow and corrosion of metal surfaces.

Some visible damages by surfaces are as follows:

Curtains and upholstery can accommodate soot and trying to vacuum or beat this off can result in pushing the soot deeper, which in turn can make it too difficult to remove.

Clothes and bedding can house chemicals from unburned substances. These are usually invisible and should be treated with proper chemicals to alleviate any odor concerns.

Hard flooring can always suffer the risk of water and sooth damage. It can also develop stains and other marks as a result of firefighting techniques. On most of the occasions, you need to deodorize, refinish or replace the flooring.

Soot deposits

Soot deposit is another concern from untreated smoke that can wreak havoc. Most people are unaware of the fact that soot if left untreated for long, can find it ways through other rooms within the house that was not affected by fire or smoke in the first place.

This results in staining of walls, carpets, clothing, and other household items.

Thinking ahead and acting quickly is the only ideal solution when you have encountered fire damage, which usually leads to untreated smoke, odor, and unfavorable living conditions. Note that as per the IIRC (Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification), the following timelines are standard when it comes to asset damage.

Porous materials and synthetics within your fire-affected property can get discolored within minutes.
Walls, flooring, and furniture can start getting stains within hours to days.

A couple of weeks can help the soot to deposit deep into the material structures which in turn can escalate the cost of restoration and the likelihood of asset replacements.

vacuum-cleaner-carpet-cleaner-housework-housekeeping

5 Common carpet induced health concerns

Carpets play a key role in the aesthetic of any home. The color and pattern variants available can be utilized to add a unique touch and authentic appearance.

However, dirty carpets can disrupt the harmony of your life within your house in addition to raising several health concerns. In the 1980’s the World Health Organization unveiled the term Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). The SBS is a condition in which people living in a house or commercial building tend to feel sick or ill without any apparent reason.

Dirty carpets along with poor ventilation and heating can be highlighted as the main triggers for this condition. This post features five carpet induced health concerns that every homeowner must be aware of.

Asthma

Asthma can be one of the deadly health concerns triggered by dirty carpets within your household. Dirty carpets that are left unattended can second the growth of mold and dust mites. This can directly influence the indoor air quality leading to concerns like asthma.

Dust mite carcasses left on the carpets are easily airborne and can be a major inducing factor for asthma attacks. Apart from asthma dirty carpet can also induce concerns like lethargy, itchiness and dry eyes.

Allergies

Carpets can house tons of allergens from outdoors and indoors. Most commonly animal dander, mold and dust are the main factors that can turn a carpet into an allergen.

Some of the allergies commonly triggered by dirty carpets are:
• Runny nose and eyes
• Itchy and skin inflammation
• Dry and irritated throat
• Hives
• Coughing
• Wheezing and sneezing

Vacuum your carpets once a week using a HEPA certified vacuum.

Mycotoxin induced health concerns

Dirty carpets left untreated for days or weeks can initially second the growth of black mold and eventually support mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are a type of toxins that are naturally produced by molds. They can induce a series of health concerns in both humans and livestock ranging from acute poisoning to cancer.

Aflatoxin, a poisonous variant of mycotoxin if inhaled excessively can induce damage to the liver. Other variants of mycotoxin are also known to cause kidney damage. Simply put, you can also associate mycotoxin related health concern to stomach irritation and infection.

Weakened immune system

Dirty carpets that houses different forms of bacteria, fungi and other toxins can put your immune system to work 24/7. There might be point where your immune system is at its saturation point of operation and starts caving in.
This is where you become vulnerable to health concerns. This can affect every individual in your house especially toddlers.

Skin problems

Apart from the dryness, itchiness and inflammation that can be associated as symptoms of other carpet induced health concerns; dirty carpets can also cause issues like athlete’s foot. Walking on carpets barefoot brings in the possibility of fungal and bacterial infection through the wounds or cuts on the skin surface.

Hiring a professional to keep your carpets clean should be your number one priority especially if you have toddlers in your house. Toddlers can be constantly in contact with the floor and they always play around your house which makes them highly vulnerable to any of the health concerns listed above.

Smoke Residue Types

4 Types of smoke residues

Containing or preventing fire damage can be a challenge for property owners. Irrespective of the property type, overlooking even the minor fire hazards can turn out to be costly.

Severe or mild, a property fire incident will leave some residue behind. The effort and planning needed to clean this residue depends on several factors ranging from the severity of the fire damage to the type of substance that was subjected to fire.

This post highlights 3 types of fire smoke residue left behind after a fire incident.

Dry and wet fire residue

Fire damage to your house or any property type produces two types of residue: wet and dry. Even when it is easy to understand the type from the name, there is a big difference and complexity in understanding the effort needed to alleviate the respective concerns.

A dry fire residue is produced when the fire is classified fast burning and occurs with abundant oxygen supply. A wet fire residue, on the other hand, is a byproduct of substances burning slowly under a limited supply of oxygen. The wet fire residue can be the hardest to clean.

Dry Fire Vs Wet Fire Smoke Residue Comparison Table
Synthetic residue

Burning of oil-based materials like plastics and fabrics produces synthetic residue. The items in your house that can leave synthetic residue upon subjected for fire are window shades, furniture upholstery, carpets, and electronics. These items in question burn with a cloud of hazardous black smoke and leave a smeary residue.
Synthetic residue needs to be cleaned up professionally as it involves the burning of different types of chemicals.

Protein

Protein dominant substances like meat products and beans can leave a yellowish-brown residue. The residue after such instances can be sticky and requires professional gear and chemicals to clean up.

Kitchen fires are the prominent fire type that can leave this type of residue behind. The resultant odor can be a bit strong or unbearable. This makes deodorization an inevitable process in cleaning up such fire residue.

Fuel oil residue

Furnaces can often produce soot deposits due to incomplete burning of fuel oil. The incomplete burning scenario also creates thick smoke in addition to leaving greasy deposits behind.

It is easier to prevent fire damage than containing or restoring the damage post occurrence. Always think ahead and take the necessary steps to prevent fire at any cost. If your property has suffered fire damage, think smart and consult a fire damage restoration professional to ensure that the resultant residue is identified and treated in the best possible manner.

fire damage professional fixing a fire in house florida

Why do you need a professional fire restoration?

A fire damaged house or property can house hazardous chemicals and post-event residues. A fire restoration process refers to cleaning such residues and restoring the fire damage structure to its prime condition. The restoration process also entails foreseeing future hazards like mold and mildew and ensuring that any chemical fire suppressants or water used is removed completely.

It is always ideal to understand the Dos and Don’ts of fire damage smoke cleanup. This post will highlight key pointers that will underline why you need to seek the assistance of a professional fire restoration company irrespective of the size of the blaze and the extent of the damage.

Why fire restoration is not a DIY

Home or business owners tend to take up the task of fire damage cleanup. Most of these people are unaware of the consequences or health hazards related to such tasks.

The chemical composition of in-house fire extinguishers can trigger conditions like sinuses, eye and skin irritations. Even if you resort to professional gears like a mask and resistant clothing, the household chemicals or detergents might be ineffective in removing the chemicals in question.

The post-fire soot and ash can be impossible to remove using your household vacuum, even if you might have some initial success, sooner or later, you will find that these substances can easily cling on to different surfaces or can get airborne easily and might be impossible to remove using the normal cleaning methods or strategies.

The normal fire cleanup procedure won’t help you to capture invisible airborne particles or the chemical residues post-fire. Exposing yourself to these health hazards for a longer duration can lead to conditions like asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

The professional checklist

A fire restoration process engages in the following tasks to ensure that your house is sound, safe and restored back to its original condition if not a better one.

• They use the industry-grade vacuums to remove even the last traces of chemical, smoke, soot, and ash.
• They use odor eliminators to ensure that any potential odor of smoke, chemicals and burnt substances like plastic, wood are contained.
• Removing excessive moisture content in the air after performing a humidity check and using standard dehumidifiers.
• Performs inspection to identify and safely remove the salvageable or the items damaged beyond the scope of repair.
• Replacing the removed items like drywall, studs, subflooring, and window panes to kick off the process of restoring the property structure.
• Fire restoration specialists will also take necessary steps to ensure that the area under construction or renovation is sectioned off using plastic sheets or other protective gear.

All these aspects point out the importance of resorting to a fire damage specialist when it comes to restoring your house or commercial space. Consider the hazards of performing a fire cleanup even after a small fire. You should be aware that even a small fire extinguished using a fire extinguisher leaves the probability of extinguisher chemical lingering in the air. Such odors usually go undetected.

Microscopic view of mildew

3 ways mildew can be harmful for you

It is usually hard to distinguish mildew from the mold. Given the fact that both are fungus variant, have a peculiar odor and can trigger some health concerns both in humans and livestock, you might need a specialist to identify them apart.

What is mildew?

It is always ideal to know what mildew is prior to trying to learn more about the related health concerns and preventions. Mildew is a mold variant that usually grows on flat and moist surfaces. Unlike mold, mildew prefers to grow on flat surfaces and the damages caused are usually more on the aesthetic aspects of your home.

Mildew is also considered as a mold at its earliest stage by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
This post features some of the health concerns caused by mildew.

The immediate concerns

Since mildew is considered as a mold at its earlier stages, it does not bring along critical health concerns as similar to mold. However, inhaling the mildew spores lingering with your apartment or house can easily trigger some immediate concerns like runny nose, watery eyes, wheezing, sneezing and throat irritation.
Long term exposure to mildew can lead to chronic respiratory conditions and headaches.

Adverse affect on the quality of life

The microbial volatile organic substances associated with the mildew spores can induce a musty odor. This odor can become seriously pungent if left untreated and in small areas without proper ventilation. In addition to the strong fumes, the appearance of mildew over the walls, ceiling or carpets can seriously affect the aesthetics of your residential or commercial structure.

Mild mildew infestations can be treated using water and vinegar, however, it is best to leave the entire task to specialists when you are handling a full-blown colony.

Difficult to contain

The ability of mildew to spread with little or no provocation is something that adds to the headache of house owners. Residential properties, especially apartment can second the mildew transmission via ventilation and connected HVAC systems. In such cases, removing mildew from your apartment alone wouldn’t do the job, if the whole building is contaminated.

Treating mildew and mold can be a task that requires some professional insight, especially when it is so hard to identify the source of the infestation. This is where contacting a mold removal and restoration expert can turn out to be an ideal solution. It is important to perform periodical checks to ensure that your property is not showing any signs of mold or mildew growth. Early detection can be the key to efficient removal, which in turn can help you save both money and time. Diagnosing a mildew growth within the attic or any other space within your household indicates a moisture problem.

Keeping all the surfaces dry, using a dehumidifier and changing the HVAC filters regularly can be an ideal means to tackle or prevent mildew growth. Keep an eye out for mildew while keeping your house clean and ventilated for the best results.

water damaged floor in a house in delray beach

3 Things You Need to Know About Water Damage

Homeowners, especially living in the coastal areas vulnerable to hurricanes know the havoc water damage can inflict. It is needless to say that it is easier to prevent water damage than performing a water damage cleanup.

Unlike fire damage, water damage can be difficult to diagnose and they can continue sweeping through the walls, basements causing slow but potential damage. This makes identifying and attending to water damage at the earliest critical. The point also stresses on the importance of maintaining your house and performing a periodic inspection to figure out any pertinent abnormalities.

Containing water damage to the core can be a challenging task and resorting to a water damage specialist can be an ideal solution. This post features some important things that you should know as a homeowner regarding water damage.

Understand the water type

It is always ideal to know what you are dealing with. Your house can be invaded by these water types:

• Rainwater
• Freshwater and
• Sewage water

What most homeowners do not know is the fact that the water damage cleanup process should be tailored based on the water type in question. Among these water types, the rainwater can be the easiest one to handle. However, fresh and sewage water can pose several health risks as they are bound to be contaminated.

When dealing with contaminated water, it is imperative to have the necessary tools and skills to alleviate any associated concerns. This is where professional assistance can make a world of difference.

The unseen risks

DIY water damage cleanup might look effective from the outset. However, most homeowners are unaware of the danger that can be lurking in the shadows, i.e. moisture.

Abnormal moisture levels can be a major headache as it can trigger both health concerns and property damage. The mold and mildew can start forming in crawlspaces, attics or beside floorboards. This might take some time and effort to identify. This is why it is recommended to always keep an eye out for the signs of mold growth, especially after a water damage cleanup.

Cleaning up mold also requires professional supervision as the process varies with the type of mold you are dealing with. A professional can perform an inspection to ensure that no dangerous mold type of pertinent substance is invading your house.

Basement

Basement or attics are some of the most vulnerable places for water damage. As these are the rarely visited areas within your house, any minor water leaks can go unnoticed. Additionally, any roof leaks or malfunctioning gutters can eventually channel water through to the basement.

If not inspected regularly in case of water leaks, the condition can even affect the foundation of your house apart from giving way to mold growth.

Water damage restoration might sound like an easy task, however, the closer you get the deeper the whole process and scope becomes. Foresee these factors to ensure that you have taken all the necessary measures to prevent or contain water damage to your house. Be extra vigilant if you live in areas vulnerable to hurricane or flood.

Mold in ceiling of a house in west palm beach

Dangers of Attempting to Remove Mold Without Using IICRC Best Practices

Most individuals underestimate the process of Mold remediation. There are several aspects to mold remediation that requires in-depth knowledge, planning, and execution.

Mold infested structures, systems or contents can trigger different safety and health problems. Have you heard of the IICRC best practice for mold remediation?

IICRC or Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration is a non-profit organization that stands for the inspection cleaning and restoration industries. The goal of IICRC is to set up a global benchmark and standard when it comes to cleaning restoration and inspection and installation industries.

IICRC’s five major principles for mold remediation are as follows:

Ensure that the individuals involved in the process of mold removal or remediation have taken up all the possible health measures against related potential health concerns. Anyone involved in mold remediation should turn to a combination of regulations and practices to protect themselves from exposure.

It is mandatory that the project manager assesses the situation, documents and executes the whole mold remediation process in a timely and efficient manner. The process of assessing the extent of contamination is crucial for effective mold remediation. It is recommended to resort to an environmental expert to get this done.

Give high priority to prevent scenarios or conditions that seconds the spreading of molds. IICRC recognizes and reminds the hardship involved in eliminating mold contamination once it is allowed to spread.

IICRC stresses on removing the mold contaminated systems or materials as a whole from the infected structure as opposed to isolation or removals in a subset of infected areas.

Ensure necessary steps are taken to identify, locate and rectify any moisture level fluctuations. The moisture level is a critical factor that can directly drive mold growth. Understanding and regulating moisture levels is critical to prevent recontamination.

Failing to adhere to the standards set by IICRC can lead to the following consequences:

• Breathing difficulties
• Swollen eyes and itching
• Runny eyes and nose
• Coughing and chest tightness
• Throat irritations and headache

While these are some common and minor health concerns related to mold infection, they can give way to other major health concerns.

It has been proven that prolonged exposure to mold can trigger asthma in humans. Age plays a crucial role in the severity of the concern. As per the experts, infants are vulnerable to develop fungal mold easily compared to adults.

Fungal mold or penicillium develops each time the infant is exposed to mold and eventually, it can even lead to lung damage.

It is highly recommended to consider an IICRC specialist when it comes to mold remediation or removal. Identifying the signs of mold formation within your property or house can also play a crucial role. Keep in mind that a small act of precaution can give you long term protection. Foresee the possibility of mold growth when during the rainy or flood season and act wisely to keep your family safe.

Removing asbestos in a house in Florida

Asbestos Poisoning: How Serious can it be?

Asbestos is a deadly substance known to cause thousands of deaths worldwide. Naturally occurring fibrous silicate materials are collectively known as asbestosis. It was widely used for construction purposes until the late 1980s.
Asbestos in its naturally occurring state can be harmless until it is damaged. When damaged or during deterioration, it can start producing powdered asbestosis fiber that can trigger health concerns if inhaled.

Risk of asbestos

Asbestos can trigger the following health concerns:

Asbestosis: a chronic lung disease triggered by the inhalation of asbestos fibers. The condition at its latter stage leads to lung tissue scarring, chronic cough and shortness of breath. The individual diagnosed with this condition might not exhibit the symptoms until many years of consistent exposure.

Mesothelioma: a rare cancer type caused by Asbestos. The condition affects the protective membrane called mesothelium that covers the majority of the internal organs. The mesothelium of the lungs is more vulnerable to this condition. The condition is incurable if not diagnosed at an early stage.

Lung cancer: people that are diagnosed with asbestosis are vulnerable to lung cancer. The condition might take years to develop.

Factors that drive health concerns:

The fact that asbestos can trigger serious health concerns without any warning or signs/symptoms is something that makes it deadly. The following factors contribute to the risk of a health concern trigger from inhaling asbestos fiber particles:

• The density of airborne particles
• Frequency and duration of exposure
• Time elapsed after the first exposure
• Size of the particles inhaled

Defining the fine line between normal and abnormal levels

As per the EPA and the Department of Health and Human Services, there are no safe levels when it comes to asbestos exposure.

Any scenario where the asbestos within the structure of your house is disturbed can start triggering the risk of exposure. For instance, mice or rodents can dig through the walls insulated with asbestos. They are more likely to dig a hole through to your kitchen in search for food. This can turn out to be critical as they can spread the asbestos powder in a place where you store food.

A simple task of drilling a hole in your wall to hang a picture can turn out to be a mistake too. The only safe means to avoid health concerns from asbestos might be to live in a house that does not have any.
How to do an inspection for asbestos in your house.

Identifying whether your house contains any materials made of asbestosis can be a hard task. If your house was built before the 1980s, it is more likely to contain asbestos. Some of the common areas where asbestos can be involved are:

• Textured paint
• Flue pipes
• Cement pipe columns
• Hot water pipe insulation
• Cement and brick claddings

Removing asbestos is also a task that needs to be considered seriously and done efficiently. It is ideal to engage with a qualified professional to perform an asbestos inspection and get it removed from your house.

Wall of a house in florida infsted with black mold

5 Things That Causes Mold in Homes

Mold can be one of the biggest nuisances for homeowners. Once diagnosed, removing mold can be a difficult task and the possibility of mold reappearance will be always on the cards if you do not keep certain things under check.

Mold growth is supported by a mixture of the following factors:

• Moisture
• Warmth
• Food source (wood, drywall etc)

Poor ventilation is one of the major reasons for mold growth. You might have observed the areas like bathroom, basements and crawl spaces are more vulnerable to mold growth. This is due to poor ventilation and when you do an inspection for mold growth, these areas should be the priority.

Make sure that venting systems in these areas are functioning properly. Check for clogging due to dust or any other particles. Cracking open a window in your bathroom after the shower will help you to alleviate the concern of moisture formation.

Investing in an air purifier is another strategy to capture mold spores and to inhibit mold growth.

Humidity

Keep an eye out for the weather, especially when it’s humid for a few days. You can also observe that mold growth is common during the rainy season. Living by the coast or near a large water body can directly impact mold growth. These conditions can second mold growth and make it a recurring concern.

Drying clothes indoors can raise the humidity levels in your house and keep it prolonged for a long time. The HVAC system in your house can also raise humidity while it heats and cools the air artificially.

Water leaks

Water leaks can feed mold growth. Keep an eye out for water stains on flooring and ceiling to identify water leaks, in fact, these signs can even give away the age of the water leak.

Overlooking a water leak can turn out to be bigger concern as it produces mold spores that can eventually spread and flourish in other areas within your house.

On some occasions, water leaks can be hard to identify, especially in areas like basements and other crawl spaces. The only option to keep this under check is to do regular inspections.

Flooding

Hurricanes and flood-prone areas are vulnerable to mold growth. When your house is flooded, everything will be wet for days and it will take weeks until everything is dry again. Since mold requires 24 hours to thrive on damp surfaces, the risk for mold growth is huge.

Mold growth due to flooding can be serious as it can produce toxic mold types like Stachybotrys chartarum which requires the surface to be wet for several days to thrive.

Damp basement

A damp basement can be a haven for mold to grow. The lack of ventilation and appropriate humidity level makes them the perfect place. Additionally, a water leak in any area within the house can end up in the basement.

Removing mold from your house as soon as possible is very important as prolonged exposure to mold can cause health concerns like asthma and other respiratory issues. If you feel that the situation is beyond control, consider hiring a mold removal specialist.

Kitchen fire in a house in Florida

Residential Fire: 5 Preventive Tips

How can I prevent a house fire? A question that can haunt most of the homeowners. Basic home fire safety requires careful planning and efficient implementation.

As per the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the U.S. Fire department has responded to an average of 355,400 home structure fires per year between 2012 and 2016.

Losing your house to a fire is scary enough, think about an injury to your family members due to a residential fire. There are several fire preventive tips that you can consider to avoid such any potential havoc that can be caused via fire.

This post highlights some tips to prevent house fire. You can use this as a home fire safety checklist to ensure the safety of your home and family.

Kitchen mishaps

Did you know that kitchen mishaps are the most common cause of home fires and related injuries? Always act smart and cautious around your kitchen. Keep an eye out for the following aspects to alleviate any possibility of a fire breakout.

·        Do not keep flammable substances near stove or oven

·        Do not leave hot cooking surface unattended

·        Do not leave the kitchen while cooking, in case of emergencies; ensure that you turn the stove before leaving the kitchen

·        Do not place cookbook or towels near the stove

·        Ensure that no curtains or rug are hanging over the stove

Heating equipments

As per NFPA, heating equipment mishaps are the second most leading cause of fire fatalities. While using heaters during the night make sure that you keep them away from other objects.

It is safe to ensure that an area of 3 foot around the clear of any objects or obstacles. Trying to dry clothes or obstructing the heater with substances like paper or clothes is dangerous.  

Electrical cords

Electrical equipment and system inspection should be performed at least once a year. Watch those electrical outlets in the bathroom and attics closely.

Keep an eye out for frayed wires, and repair them immediately. Avoid bypassing the electrical codes through furniture or under the carpets as these codes can generate heat.

Stick with quality electrical equipments ranging from extension cords and surge protector. Even if the initial cost might be on the high end, it will be worth it in the long run.

Store wisely

Did you know that most of the cosmetic products that you use are flammable? That shaving cream and hair spray can go up in flames in minutes. Store such products wisely; for instance, do not keep them close to an electrical hair straightener or dryer.

Try and store materials like gasoline and paint away from the house, possibly an outdoor garage or store room. It is ideal store them in their original containers and to ensure that they are sealed tight.

Be equipment ready

Inspect your smoke alarms at least once every two months. Ensure that the batteries are replaced and they are operational.

Installing fire sprinkler system is the best way to deal with house fires. An alternative or add-on to this strategy would be to have a fire extinguisher stored in your home.  

Preventing a house fire might demand initial effort and time, however, it will save crucial amount of time and money in the future. What have you done to prevent fire hazards in your home? Let us know.