Fires in garages and home workshops are a serious matter. The typical garage or workshop contains a host of flammable materials, from liquids such as gasoline and paint thinner to wood, sawdust and greasy rags. Often, garages and workshops contain heat sources such as water heaters and furnaces that can ignite a fire.
As with most things involving safety, the key to keeping your garage or workshop as fireproof as possible is to make sure you have the right equipment and that you get into the habit of making the safest choices.
Here are three steps to garage and workshop fire prevention that everyone can and should take.
Step 1: Establish Safe Routines
If you develop safe habits, fire prevention will become routine.
When you cut or sand wood, you create sawdust and wood chips. These small pieces of wood are much more combustible than larger boards. Sweep them up right away and you will eliminate a big source of workshop fires.
After using paint, stain, finishing oils or solvents, seal the containers and store them in a safe place.
Properly dispose of oily rags to avoid the possibility of spontaneous combustion. That means placing the rags in a steel bucket with a self-closing lid. Alternatively, hang the rags on a line in a single layer to dry. Keep them far away from heat and fire sources.
Step 2: Practice Safe Storage
Fires require three things: fuel, oxygen and heat. Keep those three things from coming together and you have taken a big step in reducing the chances of a fire. Good storage makes that possible.
Keep all combustibles away from regular sources of heat or fire, such as water heaters, space heaters, furnaces and boilers.
Store flammable products such as wood finishes, spray paint and paint thinner in a dedicated storage container with a closed door.
Step 3: Buy Proper Safety Equipment
You don't have to spend much money to buy what you need to alert you about a fire or put a fire out before it spreads.
Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths. Half of home heating equipment fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February. Some simple steps can prevent most heating-related fires from happening.
Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
Never use your oven to heat your home.
Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
You're catching up on some laundry and everything's going fine. The next thing you know, water starts gushing across your floor when your washing machine water supply hose suddenly fails. You get the water mopped up, but a few days later your wood laminate floor starts buckling. So, you may wonder, will your homeowners insurance cover the damage?
In this case, your insurance policy will likely provide coverage. Most standard homeowners policies provide protection from water damage if the cause is sudden and accidental. According to the Insurance Information Institute, you'll likely be protected if, for instance, your drywall is drenched after your water heater ruptures or an upstairs pipe bursts and water saturates the ceiling below.
WHAT'S NOT COVERED?
Homeowners insurance does not cover all types of water damage, however.
Damage from unresolved maintenance issues: While your insurance will probably help cover the cost of replacing or repairing a damaged floor if your dishwasher suddenly goes on the fritz, coverage generally will not kick in if the damage results from an unresolved maintenance issue, such as continuous leaking near a faucet or other plumbing fixture.
Replacing or repairing the source of the water damage: Most insurance policies will not cover the source of the water damage. So while your policy may cover the cost of tearing out and replacing that damaged floor, you shouldn't expect it to cover the cost of replacing your broken dishwasher or washing machine.
Water backup from an outside sewer or drain: You also will not typically be covered by a traditional homeowners policy if water backs into your home through an outside sewer or drain. You may, however, be able to purchase additional sewer or water backup coverage that may help provide protection in case of such an event.
Flood: No type of flood damage, no matter the source of the water, is covered by standard homeowners policies. Flooding, for example, can occur from storms, over-saturated ground, overflowing or surging bodies of water such as rivers, ponds, lakes and oceans, You can, however, purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program.
HOW CAN I HELP PREVENT DAMAGE?
Of course, you'd probably prefer not to have to deal with a soggy situation in the first place. You can help prevent the inconvenience — and mess — that often accompanies unexpected water damage. The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety suggests the following:
Inspect hoses to washing machines, water heaters, dishwashers and refrigerator ice makers for wear regularly and replace as needed (or at least every five years).
Be careful not to crimp a water hose or pull it loose when moving a dishwasher, washing machine or refrigerator.
Drain water heaters every six months to prevent sediment buildup.
Help prevent frozen pipes by maintaining the heat in your home, insulating pipes, and opening cabinet doors to expose pipes to warm air.
Inspect the water shut-off valve regularly and replace if needed.
While it's important to keep up with home maintenance to help prevent any damage from water, it's also a good idea to check with your agent about what is and isn't covered by your homeowners policy. Be sure to ask if there are any additional coverages available that may be appropriate for your home.
Keurig cleaning tips from your friends at SERVPRO of Southern Scioto and Lawrence Counties
3. Unclog the needles. Grab a paperclip and partially unbend it. With the Keurig’s top open, carefully insert the free end of the paperclip into each of the three holes along the needle that pierces the K-Cup. Jiggle the paperclip around then remove it. Don’t worry about harming your machine: there are no working parts here, just holes that get clogged with scale and debris. Like so:
If using a paperclip concerns you, commercial cleaning kits containing special pods will accomplish this same step. (Amazon $8.99)
NOTE: One reader reports that you can contact Keurig at 1 (866) 901-2739 and they’ll ship you a free tool to do this. Personally, when my coffee maker isn’t working I don’t want to wait for days to fix it. So I do the rest of this and, voilà, it works like new again.
4. Turn and tap. Turn your machine completely upside down and, with the top open, give the bottom a few light smacks with the palm of your hand. Crazy as it sounds, this helps loosen debris. It’s best to do this over a sink since tapping will dislodge buildup that’s been preventing water flow within the machine and may lead to a rush of water coming out.
5. Clear the tube. Thought the previous step sounded crazy? This one’s even wackier, and yet it works! With the machine still upside down, put a drinking straw over the spout. Wrap this juncture with a paper towel to make it as close to air-tight as possible. Now, blow as hard as you can into the straw to force air through the Keurig spout to dislodge scale buildup in the water line.
UPDATE: Some readers have asked if it’s safe to insert a pipe cleaner in this tube. I wouldn’t recommend it due to concerns that the wire within the pipe cleaner could puncture the water tube. Others have asked whether it’s sanitary to blow on it. You’ll be using vinegar to descale in a moment, and vinegar has germ-killing properties.
6. Wipe it down and reassemble. Grab a lint-free cloth and clean the cup holder and the outside of the machine. Return all of the parts to their places.
7. Descale it. Fill the water tank with half water and half white vinegar. You may have been told to use straight vinegar, but that can harm the machine due to vinegar’s high acidity — keep it at a 50-50 mix, or use a commercial Keurig descaling product (Amazon $12.99). Immediately begin running the vinegar-water through the machine until you’ve emptied the entire tank, dumping each cup as it brews.
Keurig 2.0 users: Your Keurig machine won’t run without a pod in the holder, so just insert a used one. By the time the liquid comes out, the vinegar-water will already have done its job and it won’t matter if leftover coffee or tea drains along with it. You won’t be drinking this, anyway.
8. Run clean water through it. After you’ve run an entire tank of vinegar water, repeat the above step using only water. Check the final cup to make sure there’s no vinegar taste, and run more fresh water through if needed. To test whether you’ve got all of the vinegar out of your Keurig, one reader suggests sprinkling a pinch of baking soda into the final cup of water: if it fizzes there’s still vinegar in the system so you’ll need to run more clean water through it.
9. Maintain it. For most households, performing steps 7 and 8 above every three months will keep your Keurig working wonderfully. If your machine gets heavy use (in an office setting, for instance), you might want to perform all of these steps monthly.
Now that you know how to clean a Keurig and get yours running like new again, you can go back to enjoying your morning jolt of caffeine!
No matter where you live, you'll encounter storms. Most of the time these are routine, but some cause serious and dangerous problems. Here are tips for preparing for storms, and weathering them safely.
Always keep a battery-powered radio in your home so that you can tune to radio stations if you lose electricity. Check or change the batteries frequently.
Keep a flashlight in an easily accessible spot on every floor of your home. Check the batteries monthly, and replace them as needed.
Keep a supply of candles on hand for power failures.
As a safety precaution before leaving the house on vacation, unplug all electrical appliances except for those lights connected to automatic timers.
If you live in a storm-prone area, nail down roof shingles or use adequate adhesive to keep them from blowing off in a violent wind. For roofs with shingles that are not the seal-down type, apply a little dab of roofing cement under each tab.
A lightning-protection system should offer an easy, direct path for the bolt to follow into the ground and thus prevent injury or damage. Grounding rods (at least two for a house) should be placed at opposite corners of the house.
Don't go out during a hurricane unless you have to; however, if flooding threatens, seek high ground, and follow the instructions of civil defense personnel.
When a major storm is imminent, close shutters, board windows, or tape the inside of larger panes with an "X" along the full length of their diagonals. Even a light material like masking tape may give the glass the extra margin of strength it needs to resist cracking.
When a tornado threatens, leave windows slightly ajar.
The basement is not a good shelter during a tornado -- it's too close to gas pipes, sewer pipes, drains, and cesspools. A better shelter would be underground, far from the house (in case the roof falls) and away from the gas and sewer systems. Let all family members know where the shelter is.
Keep an eye on large trees -- even healthy ones -- that could damage your house if felled in a storm. Cut them back, if necessary.
We've covered numerous key tips for preparing for storms and getting through them safely. Now you can regard gathering clouds with a little less trepidation.
A few inches of standing water may look like a small problem, but it can be deceptively dangerous, whether it is inside or outside of your home. While you may only see damage that is caused on the surface, like paint or carpet damages, the water that seeps under the surface is capable of causing more serious damage if it isn’t properly removed and dried out. Read on to learn more about the kinds of damage standing water can cause to your home and property.
Exterior Property Damages
Standing water on the exterior of the property can cause problems in many ways, regardless of whether it comes from an excessive amount of rain, a pipe leak or a sewage backup. However, the source of the water can make a large difference as far as the type of damage it will cause to your property. Standing rainwater can contain pieces of debris, bacteria and chemicals from pest control. Left to accumulate, this water can damage grass and landscaping features, as well as eating away at the roots of the trees that are nearby.
Any type of water can seep into the foundations of your home, and if left long enough, can soak through the foundation into the floors. This causes a sort of pervasive damage to the foundations because it rots away the material from the inside out. The damage from this can appear years in the future as the foundation erodes and the home shifts as a result, or cracks appear in the foundation.
Interior Property Damages
The risks standing water poses inside your home are similar to those posed to the exterior, but more severe. Whether the water comes from a sewage backup, water leak or outdoor flooding that seeps in, it can pose damage to the structure of your home, including walls, floors and carpets. The additional issue posed inside your home is, of course, mold. The longer water is allowed to seep into the textiles of your home, the harder it will be to properly dry out the items and the greater the chance for eventual mold growth.
If the water that floods your home comes from a sewage backup, the chance of bacteria being present becomes much greater. Even water that looks clean can contain bacteria that are invisible to the naked eye. However, even clean water will draw bacteria if it is allowed to stand in your home. The associated smell may be difficult to remove from the structure of your home and your furniture, and may even require expert restoration in order to be returned to normal.
Depending on the cause of the water that floods your home and whether it is covered, all of the damage and restoration needed may be covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy.
Mold vs. MildewMold and mildew are definitely fungus brothers, but they do have a few striking differences. Learn more about the ins and outs of the two with this guide.
Like two siblings who have similar features, mold and mildew have a few matching characteristics: Both are keen on moist, warm areas where they might sprout their homes. They can also each grow on a multitude of surfaces, from food to your shower to a sheet of paper. And, of course, they are both two types of fungi that no homeowner likes to see in his or her home.
But mold and mildew also have striking differences when it comes to size, color and texture.
Mildew is a surface fungi that can easily be identified as a patch of gray or even white fungus that is lying on the surface of a moist area. Mildew is easily treated with a store bought cleaner and a scrubbing brush.
Mold, on the other hand, can be black or green and is often the result of a much larger infestation. This type of fungus can appear almost "fuzzy" — especially when it is found on food — or even slimy in nature.
When a major storm passes close to the house, the home may suffer water damage that is difficult to repair. There are many things a family can do to begin repairing any destruction, but a certified professional will likely be needed to get rid of any serious health or structural threats. Contaminated storm surges or floods can carry pathogens and become a breeding ground for mold. If allowed to fester, these mold spores can spread throughout the building and become even more difficult to remove. In many cases, governmental agencies could condemn the structure if the microbial threat is too great. The main reason why a home is sensitive to water damage is because moisture is difficult to detect once the floods recede. Standing liquids can encourage microbial growth within 24 hours and can saturate all kinds of textiles and seep through drywall. Moisture may collect behind the walls, where mold and bacteria may multiply out of sight. If a family reacts quickly enough, clothes and furniture may be saved. However, people must be careful when entering a building that has recently been flooded. Exposure to wildlife and contaminated liquids can result in serious injury. Before entering a home affected by water damage, make sure the electrical power is shut off. Exposed wires or plugged in devices can electrocute people, resulting in major injury or even death. Also, it’s best to move slowly through the building when re-entering it for the first time. Snakes, reptiles or rodents may be hiding under debris and could lash out and bite suddenly. To protect against wildlife and airborne contaminants, wear protective clothing from head to toe, including a vapor respirator, rubber gloves and eye protection. Also, wear thick boots that can withstand puncturing and animal bites.
Professional restoration services can quickly identify what items in the home are compromised by water damage. Normally, anything that is porous may need to be discarded if it has come in contact with contaminated fluids. These items, like mattresses, box springs, pillows and particle board, trap more moisture than other materials and foster the growth of microbes. A family can prepare for professional cleaning by getting rid of these items before the technicians arrive, butbe sure to properly record and itemize the items for insurance purposes prior to disposing. Once professionals arrive at the building, they will be able to track down any pockets of excess moisture and remove them. Certified technicians can locate these pockets of moisture using equipment that measures the moisture in hidden pockets and behind tile and other materials that may not feel wet on the outside. When these moisture pockets are found, the technicians will expose them to air by removing any drywall or other materials in the way. Once the location of the moisture has been determined, the professionals will begin the clean-up process that may include pressure washing the area with powerful detergents. These technicians are also able to speed up the drying process to prevent the growth of any molds or other harmful bacteria. If the professional locate mold or bacteria colonies, they will know how to identify and remove the threat using chemical or mechanical methods. It’s important for a family to hire professionals that are certified through a reputable organization. SERVPRO technicians trained in this area know how to find compromised areas and do what it takes to restore them. Our employees are trained and certified through IICRC (The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification)
When water leaks or spills occur indoors - act quickly. If wet or damp materials or areas are dried 24-48 hours after a leak or spill happens, in most cases mold will not grow.
Clean and repair roof gutters regularly.
Make sure the ground slopes away from the building foundation, so that water does not enter or collect around the foundation.
Keep air conditioning drip pans clean and the drain lines unobstructed and flowing properly.
Keep indoor humidity low. If possible, keep indoor humidity below 60 percent (ideally between 30 and 50 percent) relative humidity. Relative humidity can be measured with a moisture or humidity meter, a small, inexpensive ($10-$50) instrument available at many hardware stores.
If you see condensation or moisture collecting on windows, walls or pipes act quickly to dry the wet surface and reduce the moisture/water source. Condensation can be a sign of high humidity.
Actions that will help to reduce humidity
Vent appliances that produce moisture, such as clothes dryers, stoves, and kerosene heaters to the outside where possible. (Combustion appliances such as stoves and kerosene heaters produce water vapor and will increase the humidity unless vented to the outside.)
Use air conditioners and/or de-humidifiers when needed.
Run the bathroom fan or open the window when showering. Use exhaust fans or open windows whenever cooking, running the dishwasher or dishwashing, etc.
Actions that will help prevent condensation:
Reduce the humidity (see preceeding page)
Increase ventilation or air movement by opening doors and/or windows, when practical. Use fans as needed.
Cover cold surfaces, such as cold water pipes, with insulation.
All thunderstorms are dangerous. Every thunderstorm produces lightning. While lightning fatalities have decreased over the past 30 years, lightning continues to be one of the top three storm-related killers in the United States. On average in the U.S., lightning kills 51 people and injures hundreds more. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms.
Other associated dangers of thunderstorms include tornadoes, strong winds, hail and flash flooding. Flash flooding is responsible for more fatalities – more than 140 annually – than any other thunderstorm-associated hazard. Dry thunderstorms that do not produce rain that reaches the ground are most prevalent in the western United States. Falling raindrops evaporate, but lightning can still reach the ground and can start wildfires.
Before Thunderstorm and Lightning
To prepare for a thunderstorm, you should do the following: