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What are Soot Tags?

1/27/2023 (Permalink)

fire damage content Fire damaged content, give SERVPRO of East Round Rock a call!

When a home is damaged by fire or smoke, the resulting damage can be extensive. Soot tags are one type of residual damage that can occur after a fire or smoke event. A soot tag is a visible line of soot that is deposited on surfaces within the structure during the course of these events. The pattern created by these deposits resembles spider webs or cobwebs in many cases, hence their nickname "soot webs."

The appearance of soot tags does not necessarily mean there was inadequate ventilation during an event, it simply means that certain conditions were present at some point after the initial fire happened.

Smoke is attracted to and will stick to cold surfaces.

So, what are soot tags? Soot is a by-product of the smoke sticking to cold surfaces. Smoke particles are attracted to and will stick to cold surfaces, which causes soot deposits on those surfaces. These soot deposits can be seen in the form of black spots or streaks on ceilings and walls after a fire has been put out in your home or office building.

Soot tags may look like ash but they're not quite as fine-grained as ash. It's more like carbon dust left behind by burning wood or coal (or even candles).

“cast off” tiny particles

Soot is a by-product of combustion, which occurs when material is burned. Soot is composed of carbon particles that are black or gray in color and often resemble dust or ash. It can be found on the walls, ceiling, and other surfaces of your home if you've had exposure to smoke from fires or candles.

web-like pattern of soot on the surface.

Soot tags are a specific pattern of soot that is created by smoke and not by fire. They can be found on the surfaces of buildings, but they are not the same as soot stains.

Soot tags are typically circular or rectangular in shape, with a web-like appearance similar to cobwebs. They're caused by heat and moisture coming into contact with flammable material (such as paint), which causes the material to burn off in a controlled way rather than burn completely up into ash. Because this happens on the surface of walls or ceilings, it leaves behind its own unique mark on your home's interior decorating scheme!

Ceiling Tiles or Wall Cavities

So, what exactly is a soot tag? Soot tags are confined to areas above ceiling tiles or within wall cavities that have not been compromised by other means, such as water damage.

Soot tags can also appear on exterior surfaces of buildings as well as inside living spaces where there has been fire damage or improper ventilation during construction activities involving materials like drywall and insulation boards.

Soot tags are more likely to occur in rooms that are more closed off from outside air, which allows smoke to linger longer. Soot tags are not a sign of fire damage or water damage. They are also not a sign of mold damage.

Soot tags are a type of smoke damage that can occur in homes, but they are relatively rare. If you have any concerns about the condition of your home after a fire, contact an expert for help. Give SERVPRO of East Round Rock a call if your property suffers from a fire damage.

Learn How Puff Back Fires Originate And Tips For Reducing Your Potential Risk

12/7/2022 (Permalink)

Ashes with the phrase AVOID Puff back A puff back can leave your home filled with soot.

How Puff Back Fires Start And To Lower Your Risk ‌

When you have a fire in your Round Rock, TX home it's scary. It's even scarier if the fire starts in your furnace. A furnace puff back is when an electrical fire happens inside the ductwork of your furnace and spreads to other parts of the house. Puff backs are more likely to occur during fall and winter months due to the increased use of furnaces during this time period. This can lead to serious damage, which is why it's important to know how puff backs happen and how to prevent them from happening in the first place.

What‌ ‌is‌ ‌a‌ ‌Puff‌ ‌Back‌

A puff back is a fire that starts in your furnace system. It can be caused by a couple of different things:

  • a malfunctioning heating system.
  • a clogged or broken filter, which prevents oxygen from reaching the pilot light and causes carbon monoxide to build up inside of the furnace.
  • a clogged or broken vent, which means that the gases have no way to get out of your home (instead they build up inside of it).

While it may be easy to assume that they're caused by a lack of maintenance on behalf of your HVAC technician, they can also happen at any point in time if there's an issue with one or both of these components:

  • The blower motor
  • The heat exchanger (also known as a heat exchanger coil)

Get‌ ‌Regular‌ ‌Furnace‌ ‌Maintenance

Getting your furnace inspected annually is an important step in reducing your risk of a puff back fire. A technician will check for carbon monoxide leaks, soot buildup, cracks or damage to the furnace and proper venting to ensure that it’s working properly.

Vacuum Furnace Components Often

One of the most common causes for a smoke chamber to develop is the buildup of dust, dirt, and other debris on the surface of the components. To reduce your risk of developing a puff back, vacuum furnace components regularly with a crevice tool (or attachment) that can get into all the small spaces. This will keep it clean and prevent any buildups from happening. Make sure your vacuum has a HEPA filter as well! If you are using an upright vac then make sure not to use any brush attachments because they may damage some surfaces in there such as platens or burners..

Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector

You can reduce your risk of a Puff Back Fire by installing a carbon monoxide detector in your home. Carbon monoxide detectors are inexpensive, easy-to-install devices that give you early warning that there is potentially dangerous gas in your home. The ideal place for a carbon monoxide detector is near bedrooms or other areas where people spend time sleeping or resting. When installing your carbon monoxide detector, follow these steps:

  • Make sure to use an outlet with good voltage and amperage ratings. Also check the size of the outlet box so that it will fit properly (if necessary, have an electrician enlarge the box).
  • Choose an appropriate location for placement of the detector: high on walls (at least six inches off floors), away from HVAC vents or windows/doors which may allow cold air into the room; test regularly as recommended by manufacturer’s instructions; replace batteries at least once per year; replace entire unit every five years if it is not digital (these should be tested every 12 months).

Have Soot Cleaned Immediately After Fire Damage

Soot, which is a byproduct of the combustion of wood and other materials, can be difficult to remove from your home. Soot can also be tough on furniture and other surfaces, so it's important to clean up as soon as possible.

Puff Back Prevention Checklist

This puff back prevention checklist can help you as you prepare and prevent puff back fires: 

  • Do a thorough job cleaning the chimney before you start a fire
  • Make sure there is adequate air space in the fireplace, so that smoke can rise freely through it
  • Be careful not to overload the firebox with too much wood or other fuel sources (remember: too much heat = too much oxygen = no good)
  • Block off any flue dampers when lighting fires, to ensure that all smoke is drawn up and out of your home instead of being trapped inside
  • Keep matches and lighters outside of reach from children at all times

Call the Professionals

If a Puff Back does occur, call SERVPRO of East Round Rock immediately! SERVPRO is a trusted name in fire restoration and we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are also family-owned and operated, so you know you’re dealing with people who care about their community and understand what you’re going through.

What Are the Three Types of Contaminated Water?

11/5/2022 (Permalink)

Background of blue water and the phrase Water Categories In the restoration industry, water is classified into three categories

Water Categories

While water is essential for life, contaminated water can often pose major problems in the wake of a disaster. When there's a problem with your water, what do you do? Knowing the types of contamination can help guide your next steps in dealing with unsafe drinking water.

In the restoration industry, water is classified into three categories:

The three categories are:

  • Category 1 (clean water): This type of water is typically the safest. It typically comes from a local municipality and has not been treated. The quality will vary depending on where you live and what type of treatment your municipality provides for its residents.
  • Category 2 (contaminated): This can include rainwater that enters through a roof or window, flood waters from rivers or streams, septic tanks or wastewater systems that have been damaged by flooding, etc. These sources may contain chemicals from industry or agriculture that could be harmful to humans if ingested over time in large amounts (or long-term exposure). 
  • Category 3 (sewer or outside flood): Sewers are manmade channels used to carry away waste materials such as feces, so they do not pollute drinking water sources such as lakes/rivers/streams, etc. However, water within these systems is extremely contaminated. 

Category 1 water, or clean water. 

This category of water includes water from burst pipes, broken supply lines and other similar sources. The main difference between Category 1 and Category 2 is that the former has very few microorganisms in it. That’s right! It’s safe to drink.

If you find yourself in this situation, use common sense to determine its safety: if there is any discoloration, smell, visible particles floating around, do not drink it. 

Category 2 water, also known as gray water.

Category 2 water, also known as gray water. This type of contaminated water can contain microorganisms and other contaminants that make it a health risk. It typically comes from toilet bowls, aquariums or washing machine overflows. Gray water may also come from burst pipes, broken supply lines and other similar sources.

Category 3, also known as black water

Black water is highly contaminated with bacteria and microorganisms. It comes from sewage lines, floods and any source that has been in contact with human waste. Black water is the most dangerous type of contaminated water to encounter because it often contains harmful pathogens such as E. coli or salmonella that can cause food poisoning, diarrhea and dysentery.

Contaminated water is everywhere and can make you sick. You should always be careful when it comes to drinking water, but there are three types that you need to know about. These include chemical contaminants, biological contaminants, and radioactive substances.

Not all fire damages are structural. What about smoke odor damage?

10/8/2022 (Permalink)

Interior of a building damaged by fire, one window boarded up, walls and ceiling covered with smoke Fire damage cleanup and restoration in Round Rock, TX.

Not All Fire Damage is Structural

Your home or business has been damaged by a fire. How do you know how much restoration is needed? The answer depends on the severity of smoke damage, which can be assessed by a qualified expert. Many people are unaware that “visible smoke” is only about 5% of total smoke produced by a fire. Even if an article isn’t touched by flames or soot, it can still be ruined by smoke odor particles that penetrate soft materials such as drapes, carpeting and upholstery. This can happen even if walls have not sustained structural damage from heat; they may simply smell like an old campfire due to lingering odors from clothing and other household items that were exposed to fumes during the blaze.

The most important step in smoke damage cleanup is to quickly begin the process of removing soot and odor particles.

The longer you wait, the more difficult it is to clean up. As soon as you’re able to safely access your property after a fire, begin removing smoke particles from floors, walls, and ceiling surfaces.

It’s also critical that you use products and equipment specifically designed for cleaning up after a fire or other type of smoke damage. You should never use chemicals or cleaning products on your own; instead, hire professionals trained in handling these types of situations to prevent further damage or contamination of personal items inside your home or business space (such as clothing). These professionals will have access to specialized equipment designed specifically for this. 

You may not be aware that “visible smoke” is less than 5% of the total smoke produced by a fire.

Did you know that “visible smoke” is less than 5% of the total smoke produced by a fire?Smoke is a complex mixture of gases and particles. When it's released into the atmosphere, it can affect everything from temperature to visibility to bacterial growth. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that "smoke damage" doesn't just mean soot from fires—it includes any type of airborne particulate matter. So, when talking about effects on your home or business, don't forget about chemical-laden smoke!

Even articles that aren’t touched by fire or visible soot can be ruined by smoke odors.

These odors may not be noticeable to the naked eye, but they can still damage the structure of your belongings and cause them to become unusable. This is especially true if you use any of these products for business purposes or for personal use.

Once smoke odor particles have penetrated soft materials, they must be removed carefully to avoid creating permanent damage.

Smoke odor particles are often so small that they can't be seen with the naked eye, but they still cause damage to materials and leave behind a smoky smell. Smoke odor removal requires specialized cleaning methods such as vacuuming, wet cleaning, or steam cleaning.

If you have experienced a fire in your home or business, SERVPRO can help restore structure and contents to preloss condition.

We know that a fire can have many effects, not all of which are structural. Smoke odor removal is one example of the damage that results from a fire.

We also offer structural repairs, contents restoration and rebuilding or reconstruction services. To learn more about our services and how we can help you recover from this type of loss, contact SERVPRO of East Round Rock’s office today.

Smoke damage is one of the most common types of fire damage. To remove smoke odors from soft materials, it’s important to know all the different sources of smoke odor, which include:

  • Smoke particles (visible and invisible)
  • Stored chemicals in your home or business
  • Food products that have absorbed smoke odors during cooking
  • Fabric fibers that have absorbed smoke while being stored in plastic bags or boxes after a fire
  • Paint with black pigments (such as automotive paints), which can also absorb soot particles when applied over other surfaces

These are just a few examples of how soot can be transferred onto other surfaces through contact. If you suspect that there might be hidden odors lingering inside your home or business after fire damage restoration efforts have been completed, call us today at (512) 851-1876. Our experts will inspect everything carefully before recommending any additional cleaning services needed for complete restoration!

3 Ways To Fix a Leaking Commercial Toilet

8/30/2022 (Permalink)

Bottom of a toilet leaking A leaking toilet in Round Rock, TX.

Here Are Some Ways To Fix A Leaking Toilet

A leaking toilet can cause severe water damage to your Round Rock, TX, establishment. While you wait for SERVPRO's disaster response team to arrive and fix the damage, you will need to deal with the leak itself. Sometimes the repair is simple, while other times it requires a more complex process. Try the following procedures to get your unit functioning properly again.

1. Find and Fix Minor Problems
While some leaking water or even a puddle surrounding the toilet can feel intimidating, you might not always have to perform intensive toilet repair to fix it. After you use a piece of cloth to absorb the liquid, wait and see if the problem persists. If it does, pinpoint the origin of the leak. The water could be emanating from a defective supply valve, a damaged tank or a supply tube. If these are not the issues, then try to carefully tighten the bolts that secure the bowl to the ground.

2. Remove the Defective Flange
If these steps do not fix the leaking toilet, it is likely a case of a defective flange. You can confirm this theory by removing the toilet. Shut off the water supply and drain the tank. Disconnect the water supply tube from the shutoff valve. Move the bowl to rip off the wax gasket and gently set it aside. Scrape off the remaining wax from the flange and inspect the part. If damaged, replace it with a new flange and a new wax gasket. Place the bowl back, aligning it with the flange, followed by the remaining components.

3. Install a New Toilet
Sometimes the problem with the leakage extends beyond the flange or any single part. If you have an old toilet with outdated components you cannot easily replace or fix, you will need to install a new unit. Just follow the same removal steps and install the new one carefully.
There are many ways to resolve a leaking toilet, from simple fixes to complete toilet replacement. Conduct these steps carefully or call professionals and ensure they follow proper procedures.

4 Tips for Preparing Pets for a Fire Emergency

8/28/2022 (Permalink)

Pomeranian dressed as fire fighter Pet safety is critical during emergencies.

How To Prepare For A Pet Emergency

You should have a fire emergency plan set up for your family. This plan should contain many components, including pet preparation. Things will get hectic if a fire ever breaks out, and you do not want your furry friend to be left behind. Pet safety is critical during emergencies, and here are some points to keep in mind.

1. Have Pet Supplies in Your Disaster Kit

Your disaster kit should contain supplies to help you and your family while you wait for your house to be habitable once again. It should contain food, medications and water. It also needs to contain supplies for your pet. Have enough pet food to last for five days, medications if your pet is on anything and records of ownership and vaccinations.

2. Get Your Pet Microchipped

During a fire emergency, your pet may panic and flee. This can be extremely disheartening. In addition to dealing with fire remediation, you now have to locate your animal, too. However, if you get your pet microchipped well in advance, then finding it will become much easier.

3. Find Pet-Friendly Accommodations

While your house is being repaired, you may need to stay at a hotel in Round Rock, TX. Look at hotels in your city to see which ones allow pets. It will save you a lot of hassle if the time ever comes. You can also ask friends or neighbors if you can stay with them during this time and if they would be all right with having a dog or cat around for a week.

4. Keep a Pet-Alert Sign in Your Window

You want firefighters to be able to locate your pet in the event of a fire emergency. If you need to evacuate, then you may not be readily accessible to tell the firefighters this information. Keep a sign in your window to inform firefighters there is a pet in this house.

The Importance of Business Interruption Insurance After a Fire

8/23/2022 (Permalink)

Business interruption insurance form and red pencil to sign. Both interruption insurance and restoration services are needed to recover from a business fire

A fire can harm a business in many ways. Physical damage to a property is the most obvious form of harm. A blaze can wreak havoc with a building and everything inside it, destroying walls, equipment, inventory and more. This destruction impacts a company's ability to continue on with its operations, often resulting in a significant loss of revenue. For this reason, interruption insurance is a vital product that should be a part of every company's strategic plan to survive the unexpected. This coverage is defined as commercial property insurance that covers a loss of revenue due to a disruption to its operations as the result of a covered peril.

The Consequences of Business Interruption

When a company in Round Rock, TX, can no longer sell its products or provide services to customers, it can begin to face a revenue shortage. This scenario can be the result of many situations, with fire being among the most common disasters. A company in this situation will have trouble meeting any of its obligations:

  • Payment to employees
  • Payment to creditors
  • Purchase of products
  • Payments for utilities

With interruption insurance, a company can still make its payments in the aftermath of a fire. Several options exist for this type of insurance, so it makes sense for business owners and managers to speak with an experienced insurance agent.

The Value of Fire Restoration Services
After a fire, a professional fire mitigation team can be essential to helping a company get back on its feet in a timely manner. This is another critical way for a business to reduce the impacts of a revenue loss. A team of trained technicians will come to the property and work to restore the property so operations can resume. A qualified team will work quickly to repair property damage, eliminate smoke odors and protect against secondary damage such as mold growth. Both interruption insurance and restoration services are needed to recover from a business fire.

How To Identify and Get Rid of Mold

7/30/2022 (Permalink)

Rotting due to humidity mold growth on wooden structure Mold damage in Round Rock, TX.

No one wants to discover mold growth in their home. It is a scary thought for many homeowners, but how much do you really know about spotting mold and keeping it out of your house in Round Rock, TX?

What is Mold?

Mold is a fungus that spreads through airborne spores. There can be millions of these spores around you at any given time. They are carried into homes in many ways, including on animal fur and clothing. Mold grows in moist, warm places with a good food source.

Where To Look for Mold
Mold growth can occur anywhere that the conditions are right. However, here are some places where you should be checking for mold regularly.

Walls and ceilings are made of penetrable materials such as drywall that mold can settle into without being noticed.
Attics are often victims of roof leaks and wooden building materials provide nutrients for mold to thrive.
Basements house plumbing, appliances and water tanks where moisture builds up creating the perfect place for mold to grow.
Bathrooms are full of moisture, warmth and nutrients (fabric shower curtains, towels) for mold to live on.

Performing regular visual checks of your home will help keep mold away.

What To Do When You Find Mold
Finding a few spots of mold on wood in your basement or a tiny patch of moldy drywall in the ceiling corner of your bathroom might not raise alarm bells. You might think that a good scrubbing will take care of the problem but cleaning only gets to the surface and can even help the spores spread. It is best to contact a mold remediation specialist for an assessment. They will determine the severity of the problem and provide the steps that should be taken for cleanup.
Preventing mold growth can seem daunting for homeowners but understanding mold, identifying it, and handling it properly does not have to be a painstaking process.

How the Pros Clean Up After Sewer Damage

7/20/2022 (Permalink)

Servpro technicians downloading drying equipment from a van If you need help with sewer clean-up at home, a team of qualified professionals can get the job done.

As if a flooded home isn't enough to cause for concern, there may also be sewer damage on the property. Known as black water or category 3 water, this type of flooding threatens building materials, furniture, electronics and personal belongings. You should never try to handle sewer cleanup on your own. Instead, enlist the services of a professional flood restoration company to help. The pros have what it takes to make your home livable once more.

Causes of Category 3 Flooding

If you encounter black water in your home, you typically know right away to stay far away from it. This water contains raw sewage, including human feces and other hazardous materials. It can infiltrate your home from a variety of sources:

  • An overflowing toilet
  • A ruptured sewage pipe in your home
  • A broken city sewer line or a sewer backup

What You Can Do
Avoid contact with black water. Make sure you get family members and pets out of the home as soon as possible. If it is safe to do so, turn off the main water to your home, especially if an overflowing toilet is the cause. You should then contact your local Round Rock, TX, utility company, followed by a sewer cleanup crew to help remove the water from your home.

What the Pros Do and Why Call Them
A team of professionals has experience cleaning up after category 3 water, whether it's from a flooded toilet or a sewer line problem. The professionals have protective equipment and high-powered tools to remove the water from your home. Technicians then can dry the affected area. Thorough disinfecting also ensures that no harmful components remain in your house.
If you need help with sewer clean-up at home, a team of qualified professionals can get the job done efficiently and give you peace of mind knowing you have a clean, restored house once again.

How To Maintain a Sump Pump

7/15/2022 (Permalink)

A sump pump installed in a basement of a home with a water powered backup system. A sump pump will always be at the ready to protect your home from water damage.

How To Maintain a Sump Pump

Regardless of whether you live in an area that is susceptible to floods, it is beneficial to consider having a sump pump in your home in Round Rock, TX. An exceptionally heavy rainstorm, rapidly melting snow, or a broken pipe could all be the cause of a flood in your basement that can more easily be managed with the proper equipment. Once you have your pump, there are several tasks that you should undertake regularly in order to keep it properly maintained.

Clear Obstructions

The discharge pipe and vent hole, pit, and intake screen are all points that are vulnerable to obstructions. Proper pump maintenance means checking for dirt and debris that could be preventing proper drainage, eliminating anything that is blocking the screen, and clearing things that prevent the float component from functioning. You can conduct periodic tests by pouring water into the basin. The pump should activate and drain the water. Regular maintenance of your sump pump ensures that it is ready for an emergency.

Maintain a Safe Connection

Pumps are usually run off of an electrical source, so make sure that yours is plugged into the correct type of outlet (ground fault circuit interrupter or GFCI). You should also check the cord once in a while, especially if you have any history of rodents in your basement that could damage the cord.

Replace Backup Power

Your pump probably has a backup power source. Test the battery at least annually and replace it every couple of years. The backup power source is your last line of defense in the face of a flood, so if it's been sitting unused for a lot of years, there's a good chance it won't work when you need it to. If that happens and your basement does flood, call an emergency mitigation company to evaluate for safety before you start to clean up.
A sump pump will always be at the ready to protect your home from water damage if it is maintained properly.