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Summer is Here and it's Time to Grill but Be Careful

6/21/2017 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Summer is Here and it's Time to Grill but Be Careful Summer is here....

“Three out of five households own a gas grill” (NFPA); that’s a lot of burgers and hot dogs.  Unfortunately, about 8,800 home fires occur each year as a result of gas grills. That's a lot of hot dogs, hamburgers, steaks and chicken.

  • Always grill outside, and keep the grill well away from the house, deck railings, overhanging branches and all furniture.
  • At the start of grilling season, check your propane tank hose for leaks.
    • The NFPA suggests applying a light soap and water solution to the hose.  Turn on the propane.  A propane leak will release bubbles.  If there are bubbles, turn the propane off immediately.  If the leak stops, meaning you no longer smell propane after the gas is shut off, then have your grill serviced by a professional before using it.
    • If the leak does not stop, meaning you can still smell propane after turning off the gas, call the fire department and do not touch or attempt to move the grill.
  • Never use charcoal lighter fluid to try to start a stubborn gas grill.  Ever.
  • Clean your grill trays regularly.  Make this part of your summer weekend cleaning routine.  The less greasy substance on or around your grill, the better.
  • Keep pets and children away from the grill.  Most know to keep children away, but a rambunctious pet can knock over a grill and cause tremendous damage.  Keep both your pet and your home safe simultaneously by keeping pets inside until the cooking is done.
  • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately move away from the grill and call the fire department.  Do not touch the grill.
  • If the flame goes out while cooking, turn both the grill and gas off and wait 15 minutes before relighting.
  • Never use gasoline on any grill.  Fires caused by gasoline are major sources of burns in the United States.
  • If you are burned while grilling, remove clothing and accessories from the burn site, run cold water over the injury to cool the skin, and call 911.

And if you unfortunately do have a fire, call SERVPRO of Portsmouth at 757-397-3770 and we can assist with your restoration needs. Have a SAFE and FUN Summer. 

The Polar Vortex and What to Expect in Winter Seasons

6/20/2017 (Permalink)

Storm Damage The Polar Vortex and What to Expect in Winter Seasons Be Prepared for Winter

Polar vortexes, or polar cyclones as they are sometimes called, are climatological features that hover near the poles year-round. These cold-core low-pressure areas strengthen in the winter and weaken in the summer.  Strengthening storm systems within the troposphere (the lowest portion of the Earth’s atmosphere) can act to intensify the polar vortex by significantly cooling the poles. A portion of the polar vortex can be fragmented and plunge over Canada, the Midwestern, Central, Southern and Northeastern United States.  This alteration in the polar vortex can occur due to the displacement of the polar jet stream. 

An example of this alteration would be the significant northwestern push of the polar jet stream over the Western part of the United States this past winter. This is different than the El Nino and La Nina weather occurrences, which are based on the water temperatures and air pressure in the Pacific Ocean that we have seen in the past. So, will the polar vortex have an effect on the upcoming winter? 

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, this winter the East Coast will be colder with normal to above-normal snowfall.  The coldest periods will be late December through early January and the snowiest periods will be mid-January to early February. Accuweather predicts a soggy, stormy end of the year for the Southeast as a result of the effects of El Nino and even suggests that there may be snow in December. We will have to see if it rains or only sprinkles this winter. 

So it sounds like the Hampton Roads area will need to prepare for a cold and wet winter. Get your sweaters out, stock up on hot cocoa and prepare your home.  Have the chimney inspected, check to see that your pipes are insulated, remember to turn your faucets to a slow, constant drip if the temperatures will be below 20?, disconnect the garden hoses, check all of the weather stripping around your windows and doors, and replace your HVAC filters. All of these things will help keep you and your home safe and minimize any possible damages that could be caused by the sudden drops in temperature.

Although we haven’t seen a whole lot of cold weather so far this winter, it looks like it could still be just around the corner. If it does hit, we probably will not see the same effects as we did on January 21, 1985 when the temperatures dropped to 3 degrees below zero in Norfolk making it the coldest day in the history of Hampton Roads. 

Call SERVPRO of Portsmouth at 757-397-3770.

Fall Brings Cool Weather and Increased Risk of Fires

6/20/2017 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Fall Brings Cool Weather and Increased Risk of Fires Be Prepared

There is a chill in the air, beautiful colors outside, football on the TV, and an abundance of decorations to be put up. With everything going on in the fall, it is easy to forget that autumn can be a dangerous time for fires. It is very important to be prepared and aware of your surroundings.

As you start to put up the decorations for Halloween and Thanksgiving, remember that dried flowers, cornstalks, and bales of straw are all highly flammable. Pair this with the candle-lit Jack-O-Lanterns along with other open flames and there is a recipe for disaster. It is very important to be careful and think about the way you decorate. Be sure to keep any flames far away from anything even remotely flammable. It is also very important to keep all exits clear of all decorations.

SERVPRO of Portsmouth isn’t the only one stressing fire prevention in the fall. Each October, the National Fire Protection Association observes Fire Prevention Week. It is a week designated to encourage people to evaluate their surroundings and make sure that they have a plan in place in the event of a fire. It’s a great time for schools and families to teach children about fire safety.

Even if you don’t have children, take some time this month to make sure you have a plan in place. Make sure you have up to date fire extinguishers at the ready and fresh batteries in your smoke detectors. Always remember, no one ever expects a fire to happen. A good plan and fast action can turn a total loss into a small claim. 

Call SERVPRO of Portsmouth today at 757-397-3770.

Power Outages Affect Hampton Roads

6/20/2017 (Permalink)

Commercial Power Outages Affect Hampton Roads Is your business prepared???

Due to the humid weather lately, Hampton roads has experienced many severe thunderstorms. This has, in turn, caused both residential homes as well as commercial business to experience outages.

Thousands were without power in Virginia Beach on the night of July 15, 2015 after a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for some areas on the Southside. According to Dominion Virginia Power, more than 2,000 customers in Virginia Beach experienced a power outage. Just after midnight, that number had been reduced to about 1,500 customers and the estimated restoration time was 3 a.m.

 Here are some tips that will prove to be helpful if a power outage looks likely.

To prepare for a power outage you should do the following:

•To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.

•Follow energy conservation measures to keep the use of electricity as low as possible, which can help power companies avoid imposing rolling power outages.

•Fill plastic containers with water and place them in the refrigerator and freezer if there's room. Leave about an inch of space inside each one, because water expands as it freezes. This chilled or frozen water will help keep food cold during a temporary power outage, by displacing air that can warm up quickly with water or ice that keeps cold for several hours without additional refrigeration.

•Be aware that most medication that requires refrigeration can be kept in a closed refrigerator for several hours without a problem. If unsure, check with your physician or pharmacist.

•Keep your car tank at least half full because gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.

•Know where the manual release lever of your electric garage door opener is located and how to operate it. Garage doors can be heavy, so know that you may need help to lift it.

•Keep a key to your house with you if you regularly use the garage as the primary means of entering your home, in case the garage door will not open.

Always remember SERVPRO of Portsmouth is here to help by calling 757-397-3770.

Commercial Fires

6/20/2017 (Permalink)

Living in a high-rise building can protect you from a handful of different disasters. Unfortunately, they don’t make you any less at risk from a fire. Although high rise buildings are more likely to have fire protection systems in place, they face additional challenges that low-rise buildings may not. Complex evacuation strategies, limited fire department accessibility, smoke movement, fire control, and longer egress times and distance are just some of the unique challenges that these buildings may face in the event of a fire. The multiple floors of a high-rise building create the cumulative effect of requiring great numbers of persons to travel great vertical distances on stairs in order to evacuate the building.

People working or residing in high-rise apartment, condominium, and office buildings need to be fully prepared in the event of a fire. Be sure that you are working closely with your neighbors, landlord and co-workers to ensure everyone is aware of the proper fire safety procedures and features in your building in the event of a fire.

Does your building have fire extinguishers and/or sprinklers? Do you know where the fire alarms are located? Do you have an evacuation plan posted in designated areas of the building? SERVPRO offers a complimentary ERP (Emergency Ready Program) for your business that provides an immediate plan of action in the event a fire or other disaster should occur. For more information, contact your local SERVPRO Franchise or go to: https://ready.SERVPRO.com/home/readyprogram

The following are a few essential free resource tips and guidelines from the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) on how to prevent fires & be prepared in case a fire should occur.

Guidelines to Developing Emergency Action Plans for All-Hazard Emergencies in High-Rise Office Buildings

Download NFPA's free safety tip sheet on high-rise buildings.

See more NFPA tips for escape planning in tall buildings.

Call SERVPRO of Portsmouth today at 757-397-3770 if you need any help. 

Call The Professionals for your Mold Issues

6/20/2017 (Permalink)

This customer thought they could handle their water mitigation themselves. They soon found out why you should always call SERVPRO of Portsmouth just to be sure. The customer started to notice a musty smell in the area where the water damage had occurred in about two weeks ago.

They called us out to take a look and we found high readings with our moisture meters on the base boards and walls of the affected area. We removed the base board do to the high readings and discovered mold on the base boards and the wall behind it. With the approval of the home owner, we performed mold remediation to clean the mold and high level of spores in the air. We use specialized equipment and an antimicrobial agent along with certified technicians to perform this remediation.

Hopefully you will never have a water damage, but if you do, don’t think it’s too small to call in the professionals at SERVPRO of Portsmouth to take a look at it. You would not want to end up with a mold issue like this that is easily prevented just by having us come take a look at the water damage as soon as possible. We provide free estimates and were willing to work with you schedule to provide minimal inconvenience.

Call us here at SERVPRO of Portsmouth today at 757-397-3770 for help. 

The Mold you don't See

6/20/2017 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation The Mold you don't See What's hiding behind your walls.

Here is a picture here from one of our customers who didn’t know they had a mold problem until a one nice day came and they went to open their window and found this. The mold in this home was the result of the very cold weather we experienced mixed with the warm temperatures inside of the home. This creates condensation, which is then trapped inside the window seal, eventually creating this mold buildup. This is more common than you would think and it often goes unnoticed.

The weather the past few weeks as been especially erratic and has created a good opportunity for mold to find its way into many of the nooks and crannies of your home. The best thing that you can do is to make sure all of your seals on doors and windows are tight. Mold needs water to grow and spread so the first step to prevention is cutting off the water source.

You might be thinking, “What should I do if I already have mold?” You should call SERVPRO of Portsmouth, we have technicians that are IICRC certified in mold remediation with years of experience. We also have specialized equipment that we use that filters the air and prevents the spreading of mold spores. So next time you come across an unknown substance that you think might be mold you need to call us at SERVPRO of Portsmouth at 757-397-3770! 

Burst Pipes and the Polar Vortex

6/20/2017 (Permalink)

As a polar vortex rolled across the United States in early January, there was a point when it was 120 degrees colder in Minnesota than it was in Hampton Roads. Take a second to think about that. Although temperatures in Hampton Roads dropped quickly, we didn't get it as bad as other areas. Unfortunately for homeowners in our area, the drop was still enough to wreak havoc with their pipes. Restoration companies were soon overwhelmed with calls about burst pipes and flooded houses. Although it does seem like some of these burst pipes were inevitable, there are a few precautions that you can take to avoid a major loss next time the temperature drops.

Insulate Pipes

Insulating your pipes is inexpensive compared to the cost of a water damage and is easy to do yourself. This is the first step when preparing your house for cold weather.

Insulate Everything Else

Make sure there is plenty of insulation in your attic and crawlspace. This will keep everything in your house warmer including your pipes.

Run Faucets

When you know that there is going to be a big temperature drop, like the recent polar vortex, don't give water a chance to freeze by running it. The smallest stream from a faucet will keep the water moving and prevent freezing. This is especially important to do with faucets that are served by exposed pipes.

Keep Garage Door Closed

If there are pipes in your garage, you need to keep it as warm as possible. Do not leave it open and try to open it only when absolutely needed.

Remove, Drain, and Store Hoses

Water in hoses can freeze and start a chain reaction that will lead back into your house. Prevent this by removing all hoses from the house and draining them.

Open Cabinets

Open cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom to get some warmer air moving beneath your sinks.

Keep House Temperature Consistent

Most people drop the temperature in their house down at night. When temperatures are especially cold, it is best to keep the house at a higher consistent temperature. The price of heat is nothing compared to the price of a burst pipe.

Set Temperature When Out of Town

If you will be out of town during the winter, make sure to keep the temperature of your house above 55 degrees at the very least.

Following these simple steps can go a long way in preventing a major water damage. For the losses that cannot be prevented, remember to call us at SERVPRO of Portsmouth at 757-397-3770!

Freezing Temperatures Throughout Hampton Roads

6/20/2017 (Permalink)

Temperatures have been below freezing the past few days and all throughout Hampton Roads, there has been a common issue that a lot of people are dealing with, frozen and burst pipes. Hampton Roads has been hit by sudden and drastic temperature drops the past two years. This has lead to all sorts of damage, the most common of which is frozen and burst pipes. Hampton Roads is more vulnerable to these types of damages than many norther cities. This is because most of the buildings in Hampton Roads were not designed with these types of temperatures in mind.


If you remember to do the following things, you will maximize your chances of getting through the cold snap without having any major issues or damage.

  • Make Sure Systems Work
  • Insulate Pipes
  • Insulate Everything Else
  • Run Faucets
  • Keep Garage Door Closed
  • Remove, Drain, and Store Hoses
  • Open Cabinets
  • Keep House Temperature Consistent
  • Set Temperature When Out of Town

If you do have any issues or questions, please feel free to call us. One of our many trained professionals would be happy to assist you.

Call SERVPRO of Portsmouth today at 757-397-3770.

Hurricanes in Hampton Roads

6/19/2017 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Hurricanes in Hampton Roads Are you prepared!!!

Just about everyone living in the Hampton Roads area has had to deal with the effects of a hurricane at one point or another. In just the past 15 years, Hampton Roads has been hit by Hurricane Floyd in 1999, Hurricane Isabel in 2003, and Hurricane Irene in 2011. Anyone who was in the area for these storms knows the destruction that comes in the wake of these storms.  Even though there is nothing we can do to prevent storms of this magnitude, there are a lot of things that we can do to better prepare ourselves to deal with them. The first step is to be knowledgeable.

We have been very lucky in years past to have not had any major storms. By all accounts, we were in for a very busy hurricane season. While we are just now entering the peak of the season, we have not seen anything major hit land. Although we have been free and clear, it doesn’t mean we are out of the woods yet. Just last year Hurricane Sandy hit in October. Looking back at 2001, Hurricane Chantal kicked off the hurricane season in September and was followed up by 15 named storms, including nine hurricanes.

So what does this mean for Hampton Roads? It means we are not quite out of the woods yet but we are in the home stretch. Don’t let this period of inactivity lull you to sleep. It is more important than ever to have a plan and to be prepared. You can go to www.ready.gov for more information on making an emergency plan.