Recent Storm Damage Posts

Snowbird Living

11/19/2018 (Permalink)

Living in New Jersey, I know everyone must know at least one person living the snowbird lifestyle. (Unfortunately that is not me.) I'm referring to those that are originally New Jersey residents who escape all of the winter blues and head to Florida for a few months out of the year. 

If you yourself fall into this category then here are a few tips to help you keep your New Jersey home safe and sound while you are enjoying the sun. 

1. Winterize Plumbing:

 This involves turning off the water supply and draining the pipes from the faucets leaving them bone dry.  If unfamiliar with the process contact a plumber, they can also blow compressed air. Almost 1 in every 4 homeowners insurance claim is related to water usually as a result of low temperatures causing freezing pipes. 

2. Roof:

Have roof inspected for any wearing or damage. Typically roofs are only designed to last for 20 years. 

3. Temperature:

Have fuel tanks filled. Keep interior temperature around 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. Gas:

Turn off gas line to reduce risk of fire. 

5. Exterior:

Make sure all landscaping is tailored to reduce the risk of coming in contact with your home and creating damage. Clean gutters to prevent buildup and flow occlusions during snowfall. 

6. Phone a Friend:

Have a friend come by to check that everything is okay at your home. You can also have them pick up the mail for you to reduce the chance of a break-in. 

7. Insurance:

Review homeowners insurance policy to make sure no updates or extra coverage is needed. 

8. Snow Removal:

Arrange for someone to come after snowfall to keep walkways free of snow and ice.

9. Safety:

Consider installing motion sensor exterior lights and timed interior lights to make your home appear occupied and unattractive to prowlers.

10. Electricity:

Unplug all unnecessary appliances and electronics. 

Generator Safety

5/29/2018 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Generator Safety A generator being used after a house fire in Rutherford, NJ.

When a storm hits and your home loses power many people turn to a portable generator. Although generators may seem simple enough to use many people do not know the risks of operating one. 

Using a generator indoors can kill you in minutes. The primary hazard is the likelihood of carbon monoxide poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust. Carbon monoxide does not produce an odor and is invisible to the eye. That is why it is important to practice safe handling. 

1. NEVER use a generator indoors including a garage (even with an open door). The best and only place you should place an operating generator is outdoors. Allow 5 feet of clearance around the generator. Be sure the generator exhaust fumes are away from all windows and doors to prevent travel indoors. 

2. Install carbon monoxide alarms in your home. Follow the manufacturers guidelines for correct placement and mounting height.

3. Avoid electric shock or electrocution by keeping the generator dry. Do not use in rain or wet conditions. 

4. When refueling be sure to turn off the generator and allow to cool. Spilled gasoline on the hot engine parts can ignite causing an explosion. Do not overfill tank! Leave room of fuel expansion. 

5. Never smoke near a generator. 

6. Know the output rating of your generator. To prevent overloading select the right sized generator to handle the power requirements of your appliances you wish to use. Overloading can destroy not only the generator but also your electronics and/or appliances. 

7. Never plug directly to your homes wiring or household outlets. Plug appliances directly into the generator or use a heavy duty outdoor extension cord with the correct outage to handle your appliances. Never use a cord with exposed wiring. 

STORAGE

Storage of fuel safely is just as important as operation of the generator. Store fuel outside living areas, such as a locked shed, in a properly labeled approved safety can. Use the fuel recommended in instructions for your generator. Some areas restrict the amount of fuel you may store so be sure to verify with your local fire dept. Do not store fuel near a fuel burning appliance like a natural gas water heater. 

Practice proper generator handling to keep your home & family safe!

Natural Disasters- Prepare Your Home

5/24/2018 (Permalink)

You are home watching the local news when the reporter says the next big hurricane is coming through your area within the next couple of days. You may think running out to fill up your gas tank and grabbing the last carton of milk and loaf of bread at the store means you are prepared. However, what about your home? Is it protected and prepared for the storm?

Here are some last minute tips on what you can do to get your home ready in the event of a natural disaster:

  • Close all windows, doors, and shutters
  • Bring in anything outdoors that can be picked up by wind. 
  • Keep trees trimmed, remove any compromised limbs
  • Turn your fridge and freezer on to the coldest setting & keep it closed as much as possible so food will last longer in case of a power outage 
  • Turn off propane tank
  • Unplug any small appliances
  • Make sure your sump pump is working

To keep your home prepared all year round you must first identify any vulnerable areas in your home. 

  • Check for cracks or small holes in the foundation where water can seep in. 
  • Check for any loose or missing shingles on your roof. Secure soffits that may weaken over time. You can reinforce them by adding stainless steel screws. 
  • Touch up areas with caulking that have worn away like windowsills and door jambs. You can easily fix these cracked areas on your own by simply getting a caulking gun and a waterproof sealant 
  • Keep gutters free of debris and make sure water flows several feet away from your home
  • Make sure the septic tank and sewer are inspected and cleaned before the start of every season 

If your home is affected by a major storm or disaster, an emergency restoration company can help you with cleanup. You should also contact your insurance company to report the damage and file a claim. Our team at SERVPRO of Paramus can handle any size disaster you may face. Call us for more info. 201-445-5588

Preventing an Ice Dam

5/16/2018 (Permalink)

What is an ice dam and how will it affect my home?

Have you ever noticed those pretty icicles hanging off the edge of your roof after a big snowstorm? Although they are beautiful to look at (I guess that's why they mimicked them with Christmas decorative lighting) those icicles can cause some serious water damage to your home. 

An ice dam forms when snow melts from the upper portion of your roof causing water to run down your roof and then refreezes when it reaches the edge causing an ice dam to form over your gutter backing up water from properly draining. This pool of water that gets trapped backs up under the roof shingles soaking the roof sheathing and eventually finds cracks in the roof where it leaks into the attic of your home. 

Typically this is usually caused by poor roof ventilation, and a warm attic space. A clogged gutter system can also intensify the extent of the situation. 

Some steps that can be taken to prevent this from occurring are:

1. Check attic to make sure it is in good condition. You can do this buy searching your attic for daylight through any cracks. 

2. Keep gutters clear of debris. Make sure your gutter is draining properly. Remove any tree limbs that can come in contact with your home. 

3. Keep interior roof structure the same temperature as exterior. This can be done by providing ventilation for continuous airflow under the roof deck. As far as the interior temperature start by removing any heat sources like un-insulated lighting or un-insulated duct work. Opt for sealed can light instead of recessed lighting. Also increase attic floor insulation to keep living area heating from rise to the attic. 

4. Use a roof rake to remove snow (6 inches or higher) from the edge of your roof. 

If you find yourself with water leaking into your home call us at SERVPRO of Paramus to handle your ice dam problems. 201-445-5588

Do You Live In a Flood Zone?

4/10/2018 (Permalink)

Unfortunately, there are some homes that are just more prone to floods that it is almost inevitable. Of course, the first option to fix the problem is to just pick your house up and move (literally), but not everyone has the ability to do so.

Here are some tips to help you prevent the damages resulting from a flood to your home.

1. Consider replacing building materials with water-resistant materials such as:

  • Galvanized nails - will not rust in a flood
  • Indoor/Outdoor carpet w/ synthetic pad
  • Synthetic baseboards instead of wood
  • Marine plywood-most water-resistant plywood
  • Metal doors & frames- will not warp, only rust which can be later sanded & painted

2. Have your washer/dryer in the basement? You may want to relocate them to the 1st floor or even just elevate them from the floor. (12" above 100-year flood level recommended). This can also be done with your hot water heater.

3. Raise all sockets, circuits breakers, switches and wiring to at least a foot above your expected flood level. 

4. Install a sump pump. Sump pumps are the first line of defense in preventing water from seeping into basements. Also recommended to install a battery powered backup in case of a power outage.

5. Although expensive, raising your home with piers or columns so that the lowest level sits above flood level may be the drastic option needed if you live in a high risk flood zone. 

6. Review your homeowners insurance policy. Did you know that most homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover flood damage? Flood insurance is a supplemental policy you can purchase through an insurance agent or company.

7. Lastly, be prepared with a company you can trust like SERVPRO of Paramus that can help a devastating disaster like a flood become "Like it never even happened."

Why Your Roof May Not Be Covered

3/29/2018 (Permalink)

Its common for many homeowners to look at their homeowners insurance as an extended warranty for their roof. However, insurance companies expect you to maintain your roof like you would your car. (oil change, tune up, new tires, etc.) When you fail to keep up with the maintenance of your roof, insurance companies will deem damage caused to your home due to your neglect resulting in possible claim denial. 

One of the more common claims to get denied is "wind drive rain". If heavy wind causes rainwater to get pushed under shingles yet you have an old roof that needed repairs or even a replacement don't expect your insurance be on the hook.  

Usually around 15-20 years your roof is on its last legs needing a replacement. However, keep in mind if your roof experiences its fair share of beatings like hail or catastrophic storms your need for a new roof may be much sooner than that. 

Try to have your roof inspected annually during the warmer months to make sure you are prepared. Maintenance is key to the longevity of your roof.

Why You Need Flood Damage Restoration Immediately

12/29/2016 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Why You Need Flood Damage Restoration Immediately Flooded Basement in Paramus, NJ

There are essentially two types of flood damage that can occur within a residential home. The first is the more common type, and it is caused by a pipe bursting. The second is damage caused by a flood or hurricane that came through your town. Either way, you want to seek out flood damage restoration as soon as possible, and that requires a few steps.

As soon as you realize your home has been flooded, you need to call your insurance agency. Different policies need to be taken out for each type of flooding. Flooding as a result of a pipe is covered by most types of homeowners’ insurance, but a separate policy generally needs to be taken out for flooding as a result from a hurricane. However, if you live in a part of the country that is not prone to heavy rains, then you may be able to go without it.

Your insurance agent will likely give you advice on what to do concerning your flood damage policy. You will probably be told to take pictures of the damage to show exactly how much flooding occurred. You may also need to make an itemized list of everything that was affected. Some insurance policies will only cover damage repairs that need to be done to the house itself, but others can cover personal belongings.

After you have spoken with an insurance agent, you want to call SERVPRO of Paramus to fix this damage. If you wait a while before calling a professional, then there is a significant risk mold could develop. Mold leads to various respiratory problems, so you want to prevent it from growing if possible. It is dangerous to handle items affected by flood water on your own, particularly electronics. Leave this work to the experts who know how to be safe.

Most importantly, you need to act fast when it comes to flood damage restoration. The longer you wait, the more you are going to be inconvenienced