Recent Fire Damage Posts

Cleaning Soft Goods and Content Affected by Fire Damage

7/21/2022 (Permalink)

When a fire happens, smoke odors and soot are left behind that can coat your whole house and all of your belongings. Unfortunately, this means that even those hard to replace, or irreplaceable sentimental items can get damaged. Luckily, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll lose those items for good. SERVPRO of Elizabeth City/Outer Banks is an Esporta Certified Operator. Esporta is a soft goods cleaning system designed to handle delicate items and other things that would otherwise be very difficult to clean.

What can be cleaned?

  • Leather Goods
    • Shoes
    • Purses
    • Jackets
  • Laundry
  • Household Goods
    • Pillows
    • Comforters
    • Stuffed Animals
    • Upholstery
  • Unique, hard to clean items like sports equipment
  • Many otherwise uncleanable items

How Does It Work?

Unlike your typical washing machine, the items being cleaned are held stationary to avoid damage from tumbling or spinning, and they’re passed through a detergent. The whole process is computer controlled and utilizes proprietary detergents. The combination of hydraulic action and environmentally friendly detergents restores items to Food Grade Clean by removing 99% of contaminants, while still being gentle on the planet.

When your home suffers from a fire, the restoration costs can get expensive quickly. That’s why here at SERVPRO we’ve adopted a policy of restore not replace, and will always do our best to help ensure that your home and belongings are restored to preloss conditions to the best of our ability.

SERVPRO Cleans Smoke-Damaged Electronics

4/5/2022 (Permalink)

When you experience a fire in your home or business the damage that’s caused is not limited to what was damaged by the actual fire itself. Smoke from the burning materials leaves a thick layer of soot and other contaminants on everything that it touches even when you can’t necessarily see it. These left behind smoke particles can cause further damage to your home and the items in it. This is particularly true of electronics. Even if the electronics were not damaged by the heat of the fire, it is likely that there is a layer of smoke particles covering the insides of the equipment.  This can be dangerous as if these items are turned back on without first being cleaned the soot can cause them to short out and potentially catch fire.

There are two main ways that smoke damage can affect electronics. First is that smoke is acidic. If left unchecked these particles can slowly eat away at and degrade the materials inside your equipment. Secondly, it can act as an insulator. Smoke coats the insides of the electronics and reduces their ability to dissipate heat. This can lead to the equipment overheating.

While you should always have your electronics inspected by a professional after a fire to ensure there is no damage done to them here are a few things to look out for as signs that there may be hidden smoke damage in your equipment.

  • Equipment smells like smoke when turned on or plugged in.
  • They get hotter than usual during use
  • Unexpected noises

If you encounter any of these things after a fire during use of your electronics you should turn them off and unplug them immediately and have them inspected and cleaned by professionals.

Here at SERVPRO of Elizabeth City/Outer Banks our team is highly trained in smoke damage mitigation and is able to use special equipment and cleaners to help remove smoke and lower the chances of damaging the electronics. From clean up to reconstruction, if you experience a fire in your home or business, give us a call and let us know how we can help make it “like it never even happened.”

SERVPRO Restores Your Contents After a Fire

12/8/2021 (Permalink)

After a fire your belongings are likely going to be affected by the smoke, soot, and water from putting the fire out. It is important to get your things cleaned after a fire as the soot and water damage can continue to be harmful to the items even after the fire is put out. This is especially true for things like electronics and documents or photos.

Documents and photographs are often valuable and sometimes irreplaceable, so it is important to act quickly and incredibly cautiously as to not further any damage done to them. While it is sometimes impossible to bring documents back to pre-fire conditions, SERVPRO can help minimize additional damage and save quite a few. Dependent on the type of document and severity of damage that was done we offer five different options for restoration:

  1. Air Drying
  2. Freezer Drying
  3. Dehumidification
  4. Vacuum Thermal Drying
  5. Vacuum Freeze Drying

Electronics that are fire damaged can pose a serious safety risk and you should never try and turn on any electrical devices that you think might have been damaged by the fire. One thing to keep in mind is that electronics need to be cleaned as soon as possible to prevent further damage. The soot and smoke residues can contain acids that cause corrosion on metal surfaces and if not properly and professionally removed can cause electronics to fail. SERVPRO is happy to offer electronics restoration by qualified electronics technicians for things such as television sets, computers and more.

Teaching Children Fire Safety

10/28/2021 (Permalink)

For adults fire safety is for the most part common knowledge. Don’t play with heat sources, never leave your stove unattended, etc. This knowledge is important to pass on to your children early to help keep your family safe. Playing with heat sources like lighters, stoves, and matches is one of the leading causes of residential fires and injuries for children under ten. Keep reading below to get some tips on teaching your kids fire safety.

Flammable items and other heat sources are not toys - Make sure that they know that any heat generating household objects or flammable items are not toys. This includes items like glue guns, hair straighteners and other things that may not typically be thought about as potential fire starters by children. Be sure they understand the consequences and dangers of playing with fire.

Practice Fire Drills – In an emergency children might not have the focus to be able to think about what to do. Talk to your kids about what to do if there’s a fire in your home and how to get out. Make an escape plan that includes two different exit routes out of the house as well as a safe meeting point outside of the house, and then practice! The idea is in an emergency they won’t even have to think about it and already know what to do. It’s also important to make sure your child understands how to open your household windows and remove the screen to get out in case there are no doors available to exit from.

Test your smoke alarms – Smoke alarms should be tested once a month and have the batteries changed at least once a year. It’s a good idea to use when you set your clocks as a reminder to also change out the detector batteries. This is a great time to teach your children about smoke detectors as well. Show them what the alarm sounds like and what to do when they hear it, so they aren’t confused and scared having heard it for the very first time in a real emergency. You can include your fire drills in this by “having the alarm go off” and practice escaping the house when they hear it.

Fire Prevention Week - High-Rise and Condo Safety

10/5/2021 (Permalink)

During Fire Prevention Week, our SERVPRO of Elizabeth City/Outer Banks team would like to share some facts and tips about high-rise apartment and condominium safety. First, check out this fact:

  • According to the National Fire Protection Association, high-rise buildings are more likely to have sprinklers and fire alarm equipment than other non-high-rise buildings.

Follow these safety tips if you live in a high-rise or condo:

  • Meet with your landlord or building manager to learn about the fire safety features in your building (fire alarms, sprinklers, voice communication procedures, evacuation plans and how to respond to an alarm).
  • Know the locations of all available exit stairs from your floor in case the nearest one is blocked by fire or smoke.
  • If there is a fire, pull the fire alarm on your way out to notify the fire department and your neighbors
  • If the fire alarm sounds, feel the door before opening and close all doors behind you as you leave. If it is hot, use another way out.
  • Use the stairs to get out. Typically you should not use the elevator unless directed by the fire department.

Are Your Smoke Alarms Up To Date?

7/13/2021 (Permalink)

Smoke alarms are important to have in our homes and in proper working condition. When installed and properly maintained, smoke alarms can cut the risk of injuries caused by fires in half.

The National Fire Protection Association recommends that smoke alarms are to be installed in every bedroom, outside all sleeping areas, and on every level of the house. Business owners should consult your local Fire Marshall to ensure you are meeting the specific fire codes and smoke alarm requirements.

Review the following tips about smoke detector installation and maintenance:

  1. Install smoke alarms on every level of the home, including the basement and attic. Think about how you are placing an alarm. Make sure it is in a location that, if there were a fire, it would quickly detect the smoke. Do not install the smoke alarm where it could be blocked.

  2. Smoke alarms should be installed away from the kitchen and shower to prevent false alarms. They should be at least 10 feet from a cooking appliance.

  3. Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button. Set a consistent date on your calendar. This is also a good time to review and practice your emergency escape plans.

  4. Replace batteries in all smoke alarms about twice a year. Daylight savings time can be good dates to set for this. Again, try to schedule this on your calendar.  If hear an alarm "chirp" before those dates, then battery is low and should be replaced right away.

  5. Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old. If you do not know how old your smoke alarm is, go ahead and replace it. Newer alarms on the market also offer carbon monoxide detection as well as voice alarms, which have shown to be more effective in waking children up. 

Here at SERVPRO Elizabeth City/Outer Banks, we believe in PREVENTION first. 

How to Remove Smoke Odor in Your Home

4/21/2021 (Permalink)

We've all been there before. You get distracted while your food is in the oven or on the stove and now your entire home is filled with smoke and that terrible burnt smell. Before you grab that air freshener, hear us out!! 

  • Confirm the situation is under control: Before worrying about the odor, make sure there isn't an actual fire. Burnt food often smokes without catching on fire, but you don't want the situation to get out of hand if there are flames. Remove the pan from the burner and let it cool. Make sure the food is no longer burning or producing more smoke.
  • Air out the house: Burnt food smoke inhalation isn't good for your lungs, so start by clearing out the smoke. Open windows in rooms close by, give the smoke and odor a place to go. Run ceiling fans and use box fans in the windows to help pull the smoke and odor out of the room faster. You can also run the vent on your fan hood and the exhaust fans in any nearby bathrooms.
  • Remove the source of the smell: You’ve got to remove the burnt food to remove the burnt smell in the home. Once its cools COMPLETELY, dump the food into a trash bag, seal it, and remove from the home. If the pan is salvageable, soak it in hot, soapy water to release the burnt-on food, then scrub any remaining food off. Boiling water and vinegar in the pan can help soften the burnt spots. Scrubbing the pan with baking soda can also help clean it due to the gentle abrasive quality of the powder.
  • Neutralize the burnt pan smell in the home: Don’t grab that air freshener yet! Air fresheners and candles just add scent to the mix without actually removing the bad smell. The combination of the burnt, smoky odor and the fragrance can sometimes smell worse than the burnt odor alone. Try something a little more natural to help remove the odor from the air! Bring water and white vinegar to a boil on the stove, and reduce the heat so it simmers. You can also add whole spices or fresh lemon slices to the boiling water for a natural scent. Coffee grounds and baking soda placed out in a container can help soak up bad odors.
  • Wipe Down Surfaces: Smoke particles tend to stick to all areas of the home, which makes the smell linger. Be sure to clean all of the surfaces in your kitchen to help remove the odor. Wipe the stove, countertop, cabinets and walls with a warm, soapy water mixture or all-purpose cleaner. Choose cleaning products that are safe for specific surfaces, such as wood cabinetry or stone countertops.
  • Wash Fabric Items: As we said before, odors and smoke particles like to stick to all areas of the home, especially fabric items. Wash all items that came in contact with the smoke such as curtains, tablecloths, and flooring. If your carpets or rugs take on the burnt odor, sprinkle baking soda over them. Give the baking soda a few hours to soak up the smell. Vacuum the carpet well to remove all of the baking soda.

Try out these tips for small incidents and if that smell is still lingering give our SERVPRO of Elizabeth City/Outer Banks fire restoration technicians a call 24/7.

Holiday Fire Safety Tips

11/11/2020 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Elizabeth City/Outer Banks wants you and your family to have a great holiday spent with friends and family. We also want you to have a safe holiday! This time of year is attributed to more fires due to multiple different sources and circumstances.

Things to Think About:

  • Cooking and Baking - Fires caused by cooking is the number one cause for kitchen fires in the US. Be sure to keep flammable items away from the stove and oven, clean up greasy spills to avoid fire hazards, and always stay alert and in the kitchen while cooking or baking
  • Christmas Trees - Always water your tree regularly to avoid it from drying out. Dry pine needle catch fire more easily and quickly. Never use string lights that are broken or worn down
  • Menorah or Kinara - If using real candles to celebrate Kwanzaa or Hanukkah, please be sure to keep flammable items at least 3 feet away from the flames. Display your menorah or kinara on an non-flammable surface.
  • Fireplaces - Do not use wrapping paper to fuel your fire and make sure you have cloth like materials at least 3 feet away from the fireplace. Always use a fire screen for protection.

If you experience a fire damage this holiday season, call the professionals at SERVPRO of Elizabeth City/Outer Banks at 252-331-7889

Cooking Safety in the Kitchen

10/28/2020 (Permalink)

Cooking Fire Safety

Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries.   Travelers Insurance offers these safe cooking behaviors to help keep you and your family safe.

Never leave your cooking equipment unattended while cooking, turn it off.

Don’t wear loose clothing, roll up your sleeves.

Keep your cooking area clean and remove any items that may explode or catch fire, like a paper or kitchen towel, oven mitt, non-dairy creamer, or flour.

Remove any grease buildup from your cooking area. 

Keep a fire extinguisher in the cooking area.  Be sure to have the correct type of extinguisher and know how to properly use it.  

Don’t throw hot grease into the garbage.  Let it cool and harden then dispose of it.

Don’t store food items in your oven.  People forget that there is food in there and it could catch fire when preheating. 

What do you do if you do have a cooking fire? 

Your safety comes first.  Leave the scene if you aren’t sure if the fire is safe enough to combat, call 911 for help.  The fire department will control the fire.

If the fire is small and you are going to attempt to extinguish it, call 911 for help first.  The fire can get out of control quickly and having help on the way is safer.

Never throw water on a grease fire, smother it.  Watch how the water will turn to burning steam and the oil will splash and spread the fire.  If you can, use a mitt to carefully slide a lid onto the pan and safely turn off the heat source.  Don’t attempt to remove the pan until the fire is out and the pan has had time to cool.

Keep the door closed for an oven or microwave fire and turn off the heat and electrical source.  Don’t open the door until the flames are gone.

If you suffer fire damage, call us for your Fire Damage Restoration in Elizabeth City/Outer Banks. 

Fire Damage Estimate in Elizabeth City and Outer Banks

10/27/2020 (Permalink)

The fire trucks are gone and now your Elizabeth City or Outer Banks home and belongings are likely suffering from not only fire and smoke damage, but also extensive water damage from the firefighting efforts. The restoration of your home and estimation of your fire loss begins when you call your local SERVPRO of Elizabeth City/Outer Banks.

Our SERVPRO Professionals in Electronics, Structure, and Contents Restoration arrive to conduct pretests, while inspecting the property to determine the extent of fire damage and the scope of needed cleaning, restoration, and repairs. These professional experts need to identify and consider the following and are only few to mention:

  • The materials, and items affected by smoke or fire and the proper method for cleaning; 
  • If your personal belongings need to be relocated while your house is being restored
  • The areas that were not affected by soot and odor and protect those areas as soon as possible to avoid contamination 
  • If the smoke residues are cleanable
  • Conduct a complete inventory of items that are damaged beyond repair as a complete inventory is invaluable
  • The amount of time needed to perform the cleanup with the most effective cleaning methods

Once the fire damage mitigation begins, you will be kept informed and your questions will be answered throughout the process.

Need an estimate for fire damage? Call our office at (252)331-7889

Holiday Fire Safety

12/10/2019 (Permalink)

We here at SERVPRO of Elizabeth City/OBX are always Here to Help. Check out these tips on preventing fires this holiday season.

Did you know that Christmas trees are the culprit for hundreds of damaging home fires every year? If you purchase a live tree it is important to keep it well watered and hydrated. A dry tree can catch flames in just SECONDS if it comes in contact with an open flame such as a candle or a short in an electrical light. 

Be sure to review the manufacturer's safety information included with any electrical decorations to avoid an overload that can cause an electrical short. 

Keep burning candled at least 12 inches from anything that is flammable such a curtains, trees, paper or wooden objects. 

Make sure your Christmas tree is at least 3 feet away from any heat source including fireplaces, candles, radiators or heat vents. 1 in every 4 winter fires is caused from a tree being too close to a heat source!

SERVPRO Elizabeth City/OBX wants you, your family, and your property to stay safe this holiday season.  If you do experience a fire or water damage during the holidays, or any time of the year, our franchise professionals can make it “Like it never even happened.” Available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, we are Here to Help

Cleaning and Restoring Fire Damaged Contents in Elizabeth City/Outer Banks

6/10/2019 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Cleanup in Elizabeth City/Outer Banks

What to Consider when Cleaning Fire Damaged Contents

After a fire, more than likely the fire department efforts have left your home or office with a huge wet mess or you could have minimal damage with only grease, smoke, or soot damage.  Our SERVPRO® fire restoration team handles each loss and considers the best means to clean and restore your fire damaged items.

Restoration methods can include dry-cleaning, cleaning with ultrasonic waves or with other specialized treatments to help remove odors,  preserve photos and documents and clean electronic equipment.  We take certain steps in determining how to best clean your contents.

Assess the Damage

Our first step would be to determine whether the item (s) can be restored or are they non-salvageable.  Contents with smoke or soot damage usually can be restored, such as photos or documents, however, burned or charred items would be considered a loss.

Consider Durability

The durability of the fabric, or the            material of the damaged item (s) is considered when determining the cleaning and restoration method.  Delicate items subjected to the fire incident may not withstand even our most gentle of treatments.

Consider Porosity

The porosity of an item is important in determining the best cleaning and restoration method.  Porous items such as clothing and textiles can benefit from our ozone treatment to dry cleaning.  Delicate, non-porous items made of glass or ceramic, can more than likely be immersed and cleaned with ultrasonic waves.  More delicate porous items are handled more carefully and limited to moisture exposure.

We recommend always having your fire damaged items cleaned by a professional restoration company.  SERVPRO® of Elizabeth City/Outer Banks offers a full range of content cleaning options as well as content storage.  When we clean your contents, we box and label your items, to deliver back to you once your home has been restored or another location has been determined.  Fire Damage Cleanup in Elizabeth City/Outer Banks?  Call 252-331-7889.

Author Kim Calantropo

Smoke Damage: How It Hurts Your Home

6/7/2019 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Cleanup in Elizabeth City/Outer Banks Call 252-331-7889.

Smoke and fire damage can be severe and if the home survives the fire, the home should be inspected quickly and cleaning and recovery actions should be in place to avoid permanent damage.  

When it's safe for you to return to your home, call your insurance company and ask for a cleanup and restoration company to help you with the fire and smoke damage to help restore your home.

You must get an inspection if your home is still standing to make sure that the foundation and the structure of your home are safe.

When a fire has consumed your furniture and belongings, you have a wet, scorched mess left behind. Leather, fabric, and wood can trap smoke smells and usually can be restored. In addition, smoke and soot particles can get trapped inside of your air duct system.

SERVPRO® of Elizabeth City/Outer Banks will remove the wet, burned, scorched mess and take your salvageable contents to clean in our warehouse.  We also have the capability to help restore your fire and water damaged documents and photos.  When this process is completed, then we can address the soot, water, and fire damage restoration to your home and to your air duct system.

How to Avoid a Fire Disaster this Holiday Season

11/1/2018 (Permalink)

Fire Safety in Elizabeth City/Outer Banks

SERVPRO of Elizabeth City/Outer Banks wants to help you avoid a fire disaster this holiday season.  November is a time of the year that inspires family get togethers, like Thanksgiving.  As you begin the holiday season, and are busy whipping up delicious dishes, it’s also important to take time to remember safety.  Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.

Cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires and home-fire-related injuries in the U.S.  According to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency), cooking equipment and heating equipment are the leading causes of home fire deaths,  read more at Thanksgiving Safety  and watch the  Potential Danger of Turkey Fryers

If you have a cooking fire, consider just getting out and when you leave close the door behind you to help contain the fire.  Then call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.  Consider for an over fire, to turn off the heat and keep the door closed and to keep a lid nearby when cooking to smother small grease fires. 

SERVPRO Elizabeth City/Outer Banks want you, your family, and your property to stay safe.  If you do experience a fire or water damage during the holidays, or any time of the year, we can make it “Like it never even happened.”

November is Military Family Month.  All of us would like to thank all service members and their families during Military Family Month and all year-round.

Best Smart Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detector of 2018

5/31/2018 (Permalink)

Best Smart Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detector of 2018

The best smart smoke/carbon monoxide detectors of 2018 were picked recently by and shared on This Old House. 

The top smoke detectors and monitors on the market were put through their paces before being selected.  

Regular smoke detectors beep when they sense smoke, and if they are not connected to a fire department, are only valuable if you are home. 

Smart smoke detectors will send you a push notification when the alarm goes off, and give you a heads up when the battery is low.  The top pick Halo+ excelled with its speed of notifications whether connected to WiFi or not, detecting smoke or carbon monoxide.  Read more about best right now.

At SERVPRO of Elizabeth City/Outer Banks, we know about Fire Damage Cleanup and Restoration.  Let us help make it "Like it never even happened."

How Does Your Home Measure Up to Fire Safety

5/31/2018 (Permalink)

Beware of the Dead Zone

More often then not, the sound from a smoke detector is more reliable than your senses to alert you of a fire when you are sound asleep.  

Many people think that they will wake up because they will be able to smell the smoke.  Not so, because your sense of smell shuts down when you sleep, and your sense of hearing is more active.

The National Fire Protection Association  reported that 2 out 5 home fires that sustained fire damage, either did not have smoke alarms or they were disabled. 

Make sure that your alarm is placed properly so that you'll not be tempted to disable the alarm and installed correctly to ensure it's effectiveness and efficiency.  How does your home measure up for fire safety?

SERVPRO of Elizabeth City/Outer Banks can answer your questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage

Spring Wildfire Season. . . Are You Prepared North Carolina?

4/25/2018 (Permalink)

SERVPRO Elizabeth City/Outer Banks 252-331-7889.

Wildfire Season Awareness in North Carolina.

The Wildland/Urban Interface or (WUI) is defined in North Carolina as the area where homes and communities meet or intermingle with undeveloped wild land vegetation.

Wildfires that occur in the WUI can be extremely dangerous or destructive to lives and property.  NC ranks number one in the amount of land area that falls inside of the WUI and 5th in the number of homes in the WUI.  The North Carolina Forestry Service has an Online Burning Permit System in place and says that "it is not a matter of "if" a wildfire will occur, but "when" it will happen".

Our friends at Allstate say that the best defense is to be prepared and offer these steps that you can take to prepare your family property and home.

  • Determine your risk level and then create a ring of three defensible fire zones around your home.
  • Build a disaster preparedness kit with water, food, dust masks, a first-aid kit and other essentials.
  • Create a family communication plan, plan an evac route and follow it immediately if an evacuation is ordered.

Fire damage can be devastating for you and your family.  SERVPRO of Elizabeth City/Outer Banks will provide you with caring and expert guidance through the crisis.  Please refer to our Fire Damage Tips-Until Help Arrives Guide and follow these tips to protect yourself and your property.

The Behavior of Smoke

12/6/2017 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Elizabeth City, Outer Banks, 252-331-7889.

Following a fire, there are two different types of smoke, wet and dry.  As a result there are different types of soot residue after a fire.

  • Wet Smoke (Plastic and Rubber) Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary.  Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.
  • Dry Smoke (Paper and Wood) Fast burning, high temperatures; heat rises, therefore smoke rises.
  • Protein Fire Residue (Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire) Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor.
  • Fuel Oil Soot (Furnace Puff Backs) While "puff backs" can create havoc for homeowners, SERVPRO Franchise Professionals can, in most cases, restore the contents and structure quickly.
  • Other Types (Tear gas, fingerprint powder, and fire extinguisher residue) Special loss situations require special care.

SERVPRO of Elizabeth City, Outer Banks Franchise Professionals are thoroughly trained in fire cleanup and restoration and know the different types of smoke and their behavior patterns.

Safe Holidays are Happy Holidays

12/5/2017 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Elizabeth City, Outer Banks, 252-331-7889

Safe holidays are happy holidays.  As you begin to decorate your home or office remember. . .  

  • Inspect your lights before you hang them
  • Replace old lights
  • Never connect more than 3 strings of lights at a time
  • be mindful of low-hanging or damaged wires to protect your pets and children

The Consumer Product Safety Commission offers up holiday decoration safety tips and general rules for Holiday Safety on products we use to decorate with like "Snow", Paper, Trimmings, Candles, Trees, and lights.

SERVPRO of Elizabeth City/Outer Banks has been serving the community since 1967.  We are dedicated to helping customers when disaster strikes and helping to make it "Like it never even happened."  We are ready 24/7, 365 at (252)-331-7889.

Have Questions? Call Us Today – (252) 331-7889.

Thanksgiving Cooking Safety and the American Red Cross

11/15/2017 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Elizabeth City/Outer Banks, 252-331-7889

Scott Salemme, Regional CEO of the American Red Cross of the Greater Chesapeake Region said “Cooking is the number one cause of home fires, so we also have information cooks can follow to avoid a fire.”

When we come together as family and as friends to prepare the Thanksgiving meal and share in the “how to” of family recipes, it is easy to get caught up in the festive moment and to forget the potential hazards.

While cooking, remember to avoid wearing your robe, loose fitting clothing or dangling sleeves.  Never leave the stove unattended, even for bathroom breaks, just turn it off.  Here the American Red Cross suggests more cooking safety steps  

At SERVPRO of Elizabeth City/Outer Banks has been serving the community since 1967.  We are dedicated to helping customers when disaster strikes and helping to make it “Like it never even happened.”  We are ready 24/7, 365 at 252-331-7889.

Fix Up Your Firebox

10/24/2016 (Permalink)

Unsightly cracked and crumbling mortar inside a fireplace can be fixed in minutes with a few simple tools.

The mortar in most brick joints consists of sand, lime, and Portland cement. But in a fireplace, that mix just crumbles away when subjected to roaring wood fires. For this application, masons rely on a refractory mortar made of magnesium silicate, which can withstand beat up to 2,000 degrees F. Yet even refractory mortar can fail as the brickwork expands and contracts with repeated fires. Fortunately, fixing those damaged joints is a snap, thanks to high-temp fireplace mortars packaged in caulk tubes.

Tools Needed:

  • Nitrile gloves
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Sponge with abrasive pad
  • Grout-removal tool with triangular carbide blade
  • Stiff-bristle brush
  • Wet/dry vac
  • Nylon-bristle brush
  • Refractory mortar
  • Caulk gun
  • Tuck-point trowel


  1. Wash the brick: Put on nitrile gloves, then thoroughly scrub soot off the sides of the firebox with an abrasive pad on a wet sponge. Soot dissolves fairly easily when wet. The washing also dampens the brick and mortar, a necessary step before repointing.
  2. Dig out the loose mortar: Using a grout-removal tool fitted with a triangular carbide blade, scrape out cracked, loose, and crumbling mortar. Stop when the sides of the blade touch the edges of the brick. The blade’s triangular shape prevents it from going too deep (more than half the width of the joint). Clean the joints with a narrow, stiff-bristle brush and sweep up the mortar crumbs with a wet/dry vac.
  3. Wet the joints: Go over all the scraped joints with a nylon paintbrush, dipping repeatedly into a bucket of clean water. Refractory mortar bonds best to a damp surface, and the brush bristles ensure that all of the old brick and mortar are moistened.
  4. Caulk the joints: After slipping a tube of refractory mortar into a caulk gun, drag the tube’s nozzle over all the scraped mortar joints, leaving behind a fat bead of caulk. Make sure to fill any gaps between the hearth and the firebox floor.
  5. Pack the mortar: Use a 3/8-inch-wide tuck-pointing trowel to smooth and press the soft mortar firmly into each of the joints, then scrape off the excess with the trowel’s edge. In corners, use a gloved finger to pack and smooth.
  6. Wipe away the residue: Multiple swipes with a damp sponge with remove most of the mortar residue. Wipe the brick again in 24 hours, after the remaining residue dries to a haze. This mortar’s heat-resistant qualities kick in when it reaches 500 degrees. Either a heat gun or a small, brief fire will serve the purpose.

Keeping your firebox in tip-top shape is just one step in keeping your fireplace in good working order, and preventing home fires.

The Nose Knows

9/26/2016 (Permalink)

Here’s an interesting story of a contents manager who was faced with an interesting challenge!

There had been a chimney fire. The homeowner climbed up on his roof and extinguished the blaze by spraying a fire extinguisher down the chimney from above. It worked, but there was a large amount of smoke. When the homeowner opened his front door to go back in, the resulting draft sucked the smoke and soot back down the chimney and through the house.

The smoke billowed through a trophy room of mounted animal heads, coating everything in its path and saturating various items with strong smoke odors. The moose, elk, and deer trophies were fragile, so the contents manager decided not to use soot sponges as it may remove the hair from the taxidermy. Instead she used strong HEPA-filtered vacuums and a mild cleaning solution for the eyes and antlers.

In the kitchen, soot sponges were used first to determine whether there were smoke particles on the inside of the cabinets (if a sponge is passed gently over a smoke-laden cabinet or counter, it will come back with black smears or dark lines). Discovering no soot or ash on the surface of the cabinets nor on the inside, she opted not to clean out the insides of the cabinets and shelves, then went back for a final check of everything else.

What is the final check? The same one the homeowner would eventually use – the sniff test! The contents professional came within an inch of the taxidermy and sniffed along the fur- no smoke odor could be detected. The nose knows!

The manager mentioned that had there been any smoke or soot in the cupboards, she would have thrown out all the opened boxes of food and even those sealed boxes with thin cardboard containers or even thinner plastic bags where there would be too much risk of contamination. Of course nothing is discarded without talking things over with the owner and getting a “disposal authorization” form signed.

That is how we here at SERVPRO of Elizabeth City/Outer Banks perform: easy, simple, and well thought out.

Elizabeth City/Outer Banks Smoke and Soot Cleanup

7/11/2016 (Permalink)

Smoke and soot can cause a pervasive odor in your Elizabeth City/Outer Banks home.

Smoke and soot is very invasive and can penetrate various cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. Our smoke damage expertise and experience allows us to inspect and accurately assess the extent of the damage to develop a comprehensive plan of action. 

Smoke and soot facts:

·         Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.

·         Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor.

·         The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process.

Different Types of Smoke

There are two different types of smoke–wet and dry. As a result, there are different types of soot residue after a fire. Before restoration begins, SERVPRO of Chesapeake will test the soot to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. The cleaning procedures will then be based on the information identified during pretesting. Here is some additional information:

 Wet Smoke – Plastic and Rubber

·         Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.

Dry Smoke – Paper and Wood

·         Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises therefore smoke rises.

Protein Fire Residue – Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire

·         Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor.

Our Fire Damage Restoration Services 

Since each smoke and fire damage situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored for the specific conditions.  We have the equipment, expertise, and experience to restore your fire and smoke damage.  We will also treat your family with empathy and respect and your property with care.

Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?

Call Us Today – (252)331-7889/(252)480-8557.

Grill Fire Safety in Elizabeth City/Outer Banks

6/27/2016 (Permalink)

Keep your home safe this summer with these grilling tips.

Warmer weather brings hot grills and tasty meals. However, a fun backyard cook-out can quickly turn into a dangerous fire situation. It is important to practice safe grilling habits to keep your outdoor fun going all summer long.


Each year an average of 8,900 home fires are caused by grilling, and close to half of all injuries involving grills are due to thermal burns. While nearly half of the people who grill do it year-round, July is the peak month for grill fires followed by May, June and August. A failure to clean the grill was the leading factor contributing to the fire in one –fifth of all grill structure fires (19%). In 17%, something that could catch fire was too close to the grill. Leaks or breaks were the factor in 11% of grill structure fires and 23% of outside and unclassified grill fires. Gas grills contribute to a higher number of home fires overall than their charcoal counterparts.


1. Keep your grill at least 10 feet away from your house. Farther is even better. This includes portions attached to your house like carports, garages and porches. Grills should not be used underneath wooden overhangs either, as the fire could flare up into the structure above. This applies to both charcoal and gas grills.

2. Clean your grill regularly. If you allow grease and fat to build up on your grill, they provide more fuel for a fire. Grease is a major source of flare ups.

3. Check for gas leaks. You can make sure no gas is leaking from your gas grill by making a solution of half liquid dish soap and half water and rubbing it on the hoses and connections. Then, turn the gas on (with the grill lid open.) If the soap forms large bubbles, that's a sign that the hoses have tiny holes or that the connections are not tight enough.

4. Keep decorations away from your grill. Decorations like hanging baskets, pillows and umbrellas look pretty AND provide fuel for a fire. To make matters worse, today's decor is mostly made of artificial fibers that burn fast and hot, making this tip even more important.

5. Keep a spray bottle of water handy. That way, if you have a minor flare-up you can spray it with the water to instantly calm it. The bonus of this tip is that water won't harm your food, so dinner won't be ruined!

6. Keep a fire extinguisher within a couple steps of your grill. And KNOW HOW TO USE IT. If you are unsure how to use the extinguisher, don't waste time fiddling with it before calling 911. Firefighters say many fire deaths occur when people try to fight a fire themselves instead of calling for expert help and letting the fire department do its job.


7. Turn on the gas while your grill lid is closed. NEVER do this. It causes gas to build up inside your grill, and when you do light it and open it, a fireball can explode in your face. 

8. Leave a grill unattended. Fires double in size every minute. Plan ahead so that all of your other food prep chores are done and you can focus on grilling.

9. Overload your grill with food. This applies especially to fatty meats. The basic reason for this tip is that if too much fat drips on the flames at once, it can cause a large flare-up that could light nearby things on fire.

10. Use a grill indoors. People often think it will be safe to use a grill, especially a small one, indoors. NOT TRUE. In addition to the fire hazard, grills release carbon monoxide, the deadly colorless, odorless gas. That gas needs to vent in fresh air.

If a fire does occur this summer, call SERVPRO® of Elizabeth City/Outer Banks at (252)331-7889/(252)480-8557. Our trained team will work to make it “Like it never even happened.”

Preventing Home Fires- Fireplaces and Woodstoves

3/23/2016 (Permalink)

Some Safety Tips:

  • Inspect and clean your woodstove pipes and fireplace chimneys annually. Check monthly for any damage or obstructions.
  • Never burn trash, paper, or green wood; these will smolder and create more smoke than dry wood.
  • Use a fireplace screen that is heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks.
  • Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed.
  • Store cooled ashes in a tightly sealed metal container outside the home. After three days the ashes can be bagged and thrown away, or used in your garden

For Emergency Restoration Services, Call Us! 252-331-7889/252-480-8557

What You Need to Know When Recovering From Fire Damage.

3/7/2016 (Permalink)

A home damaged by soot and smoke.

While the fire is always the immediate danger, once it's gone, what it leaves behind will continue to affect your home and everything inside it. Ash and smoke if left and not cleaned by professionals, will leave extensive corrosion, etching and discoloration as well as lingering odors, if left and not cleaned by professionals,  So what are the first steps to your homes recovery and what should you know?

  1. Don't risk doing further damage by attempting to clean up the damage yourself. Refer to the list below.

  2. You should call your insurance carrier and file a claim.

  3. Then call SERVPRO of Elizabeth City/Outer Banks. to assess the damage. We will then communicate with your insurance company to plan the damage recovery process, and the process will be explained to you.

The sooner you contact us the better, because damage will continue and your structure and all your contents will have much more extensive damage to them. Carpets may become permanently discolored, and glass may be severely etched. And those odors aren't just odors, they are acidic and filled with toxins that can be harmful to you, and the longer they stay the more damage it will cause to your home.

Keys Things to Avoid:

  1. Do not wipe or attempt to wash residue from walls, ceilings, or absorbent surfaces.

  2. Do not use carpeting or upholstered furniture impacted by heavy smoke residue or debris.

  3. Do not use food items or canned goods exposed to heat.

  4. Do not turn on computers, TV's, stereos or electrical appliances until they have been professionally cleaned and checked.