Should I Install a Home Fire Sprinkler System?

A home fire sprinkler system is not required in most residential builds, nor are they very common even though they can save lives and minimize fire damage to a property. It is a personal decision whether or not you install one in your own home. Here, we look at the benefits of installing a home fire sprinkler system, as well as dispel some fire sprinkler myths.

Why Install a Home Fire Sprinkler System?

home fire sprinkler systemA home fire sprinkler system is the first line of defense against home fires. Their sole purpose is to contain and extinguish a fire before it spreads and gets out of fire. Installing a sprinkler system in your home is one of the best ways to protect your family and your property from unexpected blazes.

All fire sprinklers trigger based on heat. Once the sensor built in to the sprinkler head reaches a certain temperature, it triggers and showers the area with water. Unlike what you see in Hollywood, all of the sprinkler heads in the home will not go off; only the unit or units located in the fire area will be activated.

Home Value, Insurance, and Taxes

Fire sprinklers are so common in offices and public spaces that you may not even think about it. Many new apartments even have fire sprinkler systems. This raises the question: why aren’t fire sprinklers common in homes?

Cost is a big factor in most cases. A home fire sprinkler system is a long-term investment. In addition to the initial installation, there are several other financial impacts to take into consideration.

  • Home fire sprinkler systems may affect insurance premiums, depending on your carrier. Check with your insurance company to find out their policies and rates before you set an installation date.
  • Your home taxes may change, depending on where you live. Check with your local government to learn how much your taxes could change.
  • Your home value may change. If you are considering installing a home fire sprinkler system, or if you are in the market for a home which already comes installed with one, speak with your realtor for the most up-to-date market advice.

If you’re only planning to be in a house for a few years, then it may not be the right choice for you. But if you intend to keep your home for many years, the added level of safety may be worthwhile.

Aren’t Smoke Alarms Enough?

home fire sprinkler systemSmoke alarms are a great first alert system – as long as batteries are installed and kept up-to-date. However, they only alert you to the presence of a fire. They do not stop fires before they have spread, or do anything to put the fire out before you or your family are in danger.

Depending on how quickly the fire spreads, you may or may not have time to evacuate the home. It is important for you to have a home evacuation plan which accounts for blocked exits and upper floor rooms.

Aren’t Home Sprinklers a Giant Accident Waiting to Happen?

Although fire sprinklers are great for preventing home fires from harming your family or your property, you may be worried that the same system could lead to water damage in your home.

Your home is full of water pipes, and the pipes used in home sprinklers are no different. In fact, they are usually installed in the same areas that the rest of your pipes are contained. This means that during the winter, you’re already going to be keeping an eye on any problem areas to prevent frozen pipes, and won’t have to do any additional work.

Fire sprinkler water pipes are held to the same build standards as the rest of your home plumbing system. That said, they will need added inspections throughout the year to monitor aging pipes, weak spots, and prevent ruptures and leaks.

You may also be worried that a sprinkler head might trigger accidentally, or worse, without a reason at all. Sprinkler head failures are incredibly rare, with instances of 1 in 1000.

Won’t Fire Sprinklers Ruin My Home When Triggered?

home fire sprinkler systemUnlike what you see in Hollywood, a fire in one room does not trigger all of the fire sprinklers in the house. Fire sprinklers are designed to respond only in the area the fire is located. This design minimizes damage to the home by using water only on the affected area. You don’t have to worry about a flood of water throughout the house!

In fact, fire sprinklers are very efficient. They use considerably fewer gallons of water per minute than fire hoses, averaging at 13 – 18 gallons per minute versus 250 gallons per minute.

The Bottom Line

In the end, whether or not a home fire sprinkler system is right for you is a personal choice, and you’ll need to weigh all factors during consideration. If your home experiences fire or water damage, remember that Tidal Wave Response is here and ready to help restore your home back to its original condition.

Creating a Family Disaster Plan for Fires and Floods

At Tidal Wave Response, we see many types of home emergencies from floods to fires. Family disaster plans aren’t just for earthquakes or hurricanes; they’re great to have for any type of emergency. Here, we’ve compiled some tips for creating a family disaster plan.

Tips for Creating a Family Disaster Plan

Before you create a family disaster plan, it’s important to note that no two plans are going to look alike. Some areas are more prone to certain types of disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, or earthquakes.

Additionally, disasters don’t always require you to evacuate your home. Extended power outages can pose a fire hazard, while floods can lead to electrical or water hazards. Being aware of the potential hazards surrounding a natural disaster or other emergency is the first step to keeping you and your family safe when the unexpected happens.

  1. family disaster planFirst, take into consideration any region-specific emergencies and natural disasters that tend to affect the area where you live. These include tsunamis, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and volcanoes, to name a few.
  2. Then, consider the types of emergencies that are not region-specific, such as fires and floods.
  3. Once you have identified the most likely emergencies that could happen, discuss with your family the best ways to address these potential circumstances. Make sure everyone is familiar with the family meeting place, any home emergency supplies, and who is responsible for the family pet or pets. Also make sure that everyone knows what to do in case the family becomes separated.
  4. Practice the emergency plan at least once a year, and make revisions as necessary.

 

For further tips and advice, check out these handy resources:

https://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan

http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/be-red-cross-ready/make-a-plan

Preventing Home Fires

Fires are one of the most common home emergencies. Although there is no surefire way to prevent fires from happening, there is a lot you can do to protect your home and your family.

Fire Prevention Tips

  • family disaster planHave an electrician inspect your home at least once per year
  • If you have a HVAC system installed in your home, have the system inspected at least once per year
  • Don’t leave space heaters unattended
  • Don’t leave burning candles unattended
  • Ensure that there is sufficient space between appliance cords and flammable objects, especially furniture and draperies
  • Do not hide cords beneath rugs, as they can wear through quickly and catch fire
  • Do not use frayed cords or attempt to repair them with electrician’s tape; replace them instead

 

When creating your family disaster plan, be sure to review all possible exit plans for your home. This way, you won’t be caught by surprise in case of a worst-case scenario.

Flood Safety

Some regions are more prone to flooding than others. If you live in a flood-prone region, make sure you and your family have a plan in case of severe flooding.

Flood Safety Tips

  • family disaster planGet to higher ground as quickly as possible; abandon your car and get to higher ground if needed
  • Don’t try to drive through deep water; only 1 foot of water can carry your vehicle away
  • Don’t try to cross deep water on foot; 6 inches of fast-moving water can sweep you off your feet
  • If you are camping, set up your campsite away from rivers and creeks during rainfall, as these sources of water may experience flash floods
  • If you live in a flood-prone region and are advised to evacuate, do so as quickly as possible
  • Do not touch electrical equipment that has not been disconnected from electrical sources; if in doubt, leave the appliance alone
  • Listen to the radio or tune into the news after a flood has occurred to verify whether the water supply is safe to drink
  • Avoid waters brought in by flooding, as it may be contaminated or electrically charged by downed power lines

Tidal Wave Response

Has your home or business experienced a fire or flood? Call Tidal Wave Response! Our experienced and certified technicians are ready to restore your property back to its original condition following fire and water damage.

How does the Hot Water Extraction Process Work?

There are several techniques and methods to clean water damaged carpets. To ensure that a carpet is cleaned correctly, the process must be thorough and can take up to a couple of days, including the drying time. Although it may seem counterintuitive, sometimes the best way to clean water damage is to use more water. One of the most common methods to clean water damaged carpets is hot water extraction.

What is Hot Water Extraction?

Carpet fibers are usually densely woven, providing a comfortable walking surface when dry. These same fibers absorb a considerable amount of water when wet. Water damaged carpets need to be thoroughly cleaned and dried, otherwise residual moisture can lead to mold and mildew growth, structural damage, and lingering odors.

Hot water extraction is one of the most effective methods to clean water damaged carpets and restore them back to their original condition. This process utilizes extremely hot water, detergent, and a specialized brush and vacuum system to simultaneously deep clean and extract impurities from the carpet.

Hot water extraction can usually be done in a day, depending on the extent of the damage and whether a second treatment is needed.

The hot water extraction process:

  1. clean water damaged carpetsCarpet preconditioning: A high alkaline detergent is applied to the carpet surface.
  2. Agitation: A brush or other specialized equipment is used to help the detergent penetrate the carpet surface for thorough cleaning.
  3. Dwell time: The detergent must be given time to work for optimal cleaning; the duration varies depending on the type of detergent used.
  4. Cleaning: A specialized machine performs two actions at nearly the same time. First, a hot water and brush combination scrubs the carpet to loosen ground-in dirt and soil. The hot water sanitizes the carpet while the brush extracts deep stains and dirt. Then, a vacuum removes stains, moisture, dirt, and detergent. This step may be repeated several times depending on how dirty the carpet is.
  5. Drying: Despite how powerful the hot water extraction vacuums are, not all moisture can be removed from the carpet. Floor dryers, dehumidifiers, and standing fans are used to circulate the air and accelerate the drying process.

 

You may have heard of the term ‘steam cleaning’ before. In fact, ‘steam cleaning’ is a misnomer, and refers to the hot water extraction process. The terms are often used interchangeably.

Whether you call it steam cleaning or hot water extraction, the hot water extraction takes some time and patience, but can be very effective in cleaning and restoring water damaged carpets.

When Carpets Can’t Be Saved

clean water damaged carpetsAlthough the hot water extraction process is useful for most carpets, some carpets simply cannot be saved and must be discarded following water damage. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Exposure to raw sewage
  • Exposure to black water
  • Damage to the subfloor
  • Structural damage below the carpet

Carpets which have been heavily soiled or exposed to sewage must be replaced, since bacteria and other pathogens may be present. Without proper removal and sanitization, an carpet that cannot be salvaged can lead to illness in the long term.

Can you DIY Clean Water Damaged Carpets?

clean water damaged carpetsIf you are DIY enthusiast, you may be wondering if you can steam clean carpets yourself. The answer is that it depends.

DIY carpet cleaning can often be used to solve minor water damage to carpets. Rental steam cleaners are less powerful than commercial units. In addition, many of these machines do not have internal heating elements. Some may call for you to add separately heated water.

Professional carpet cleaners usually have truck-mounted hot water extraction units. These units are very powerful and heat water throughout the process. Professional carpet cleaning is recommended for severe and extensive water damage.

If not dealt with as quickly as possible, carpet water damage can lead to expensive problems such as structural damage, mold and mildew growth throughout the building, and more. It only takes a few hours before water damage begins to have long-term effects.

If you have a water damaged carpet following a leak or a flood, call Tidal Wave Response. Our technicians are on-call 24/7 to respond to late-night emergencies and provide a free, no obligation assessment. Drop us a line today!

Fireworks Safety this 4th of July

There are few things that symbolize Independence Day more than fireworks. Whether as a show put on by the city, a neighbor, or yourself, fireworks are so commonplace and readily available that it can be easy to forget they can be dangerous. Fireworks can harm not only people, but properties as well, leading to home fire damage. Here are a few ways to practice fireworks safety this 4th of July.

Fireworks and Fire Damage

According to the NFPA, fireworks caused over 18,500 fires between 2009 – 2013, which included both vehicle and structural fires.

Fireworks are a source of ignition, especially in dry weather conditions. It is not uncommon for fireworks to spark brush fires. In addition, flying fireworks can land on rooftops or other hard-to-reach places, making these situations difficult to extinguish quickly.

It is advisable to pay attention to any fire restrictions, burn bans, or other related city notices. These notices are announced for everyone’s safety, and should be followed in order to avoid property damage – whether to your own home or someone else’s property.

Top Fireworks Safety Tips

Setting fireworks is an annual tradition in many homes. Keep yourself and your guests safe with these handy fireworks safety tips.

  • fireworks safetyShoot fireworks in an open area; driveways are ideal.
  • Ensure that all spectators are standing at least 35 feet away from the launch area.
  • Don’t stand over lit fireworks or hold them while lit, as this can cause severe injury.
  • Keep a bucket of water on hand to extinguish any unintended fires. If you have a hose, keep it handy as well. Put out a fire as soon as it begins.
  • Make sure that your yard has a clear escape route for a quick exit in an emergency.
  • If a fire begins to spread and cannot safely be extinguished, evacuate your guests and call 911.
  • Soak all used fireworks in a separate bucket of water for at least 20 minutes prior to disposal.
  • Buy fireworks from authorized, licensed dealers. These fireworks must meet certain safety standards, which help ensure the safety of you and your guests.
  • Don’t try to relight “dud” or malfunctioning fireworks. Soak these in water for at least 20 minutes prior to discarding them.

Adults aren’t the only ones who enjoy fireworks shows. When children are present, you’ll need to take a few additional safety tips into consideration to avoid injury or fire damage to your property.

Fireworks and Kids

fireworks safetyShooting fireworks once the sun has gone down is a tradition in many families. Make sure your 4th of July is both a safe and fun event with these kid-friendly tips.

  • Don’t let children under the age of 7 play with fireworks.
  • Always make sure a sober adult is present.
  • Ensure that kids are wearing safety glasses if they are participating in shooting fireworks.
  • Don’t let kids play with or near fireworks that leave the ground or explode.

Taking precautions to ensure the safety of any children who are present will help everyone have a great, safe time at your fireworks show.

Fireworks and Pets

Although people enjoy good fireworks shows, our beloved pets and companions don’t always see it the same way that we do. The loud, unpredictable sounds are frightening to them.

The sound of fireworks travels a great distance, so unless you live in the countryside, it’s not always possible to avoid exposing your pet to fireworks.

  • fireworks safetyDo not have your pet present for fireworks; keep them indoors. A bolting, frightened pet during a fireworks show can quickly become a hazard for everyone in attendance.
  • Choose lower-noise fireworks, as the reduced sound can be less stressful for pets.
  • Turn on a TV or radio to help mask the sound of fireworks outside.
  • Do not set fireworks over livestock or horses in fields; give any neighbors who own livestock or horses advance notice prior to the fireworks show.
  • Ask your veterinarian for advice, if needed, to see if they have recommendations for alleviating your pet’s stress.

After the show, pick up all fireworks debris once cool and dispose before allowing your pet back into the yard.

Fire Damage Restoration Specialists in Atlanta, GA

If, despite all your best efforts, your home has experienced fire damage after your fireworks show, give Tidal Wave Response a call! Our team is ready to answer your call 24/7 for a free, no obligation assessment of damages and repairs.

electricity safety

May is National Electricity Safety Month

Electricity is a part of our everyday lives, from powering the coffee maker in the morning to home lights at night. It’s easy to forget that the current running through the house can cause serious damage to your health and your property. May is National Electricity Safety Month. By being aware of potential electrical hazards in the home, you can avoid both the costs and headache of hospital or repair bills.

The 5 Top Home Electrical Hazards

Electricity safety as a whole includes electrocution, shock hazards, and fire hazards. By taking a few minutes every May to look around your home for potential electrical hazards, you can catch them before they become major problems.

Here are the top 5 home electrical hazards:

  1. electricity safetyElectrical Cords: Frayed, old, or cords that are warm to the touch when in use. These cords can heat to a high enough temperature to set nearby flammable items, such as carpets or furniture, on fire. Similarly, electrical cords that are covered can lead to fire hazards.
  2. Appliance Problems: Appliances which sputter or spark, or frequently trigger the fuse box, should be either repaired or discarded. These may be experiencing power fluctuations that can pose serious fire hazards.
  3. Overloaded Power Strips: Even though most power strips come with a built-in surge protector, it’s important to note that the capacity of individual power strips varies. Some are designed to handle large appliances such as refrigerators or dishwashers while others are purpose-built for toasters or coffee makers.
  4. Home Wiring Problems: Old wiring, especially when hidden behind walls, can remain cracked or frayed for months or years without anyone noticing.
  5. Outlets Near Water: Outlets near water, such as in a bathroom or in the kitchen, can pose an electrical hazard if not grounded properly or if placed too closely to the water.

 

Electrical hazards don’t always have obvious signs such as smoke or a burning smell. Flickering lights, frequently triggered fuse boxes, shocks when using light switches, and light bulbs that burn out too frequently may indicate an underlying wiring problem. Call an electrician if you notice any of these signs in your home.

Tips to Avoid Home Electrical Hazards

Avoiding electrical fires is as simple as making a few adjustments to your daily routine. These tips will help you avoid home electrical hazards.

  • electricity safetyHave an electrician visit your property to check up on home wiring at least once a year.
  • Don’t overload your power strip. Choose the right type of power strip for the appliance you will be using.
  • Don’t daisy chain your power strips. This may seem like a good idea to extend the reach and use of a single outlet, but can be lead to an overload and fire hazard.
  • Unplug appliances when not in use.
  • Do not touch switches or appliances with wet hands.
  • Keep outdoor appliances covered and elevated away from pooling water.
  • Replace instead of repairing old or fraying cords. Do not use electrician’s tape to repair cords.
  • Call an electrician if lightbulbs flicker or burn out regularly; these signs may indicate a home wiring problem
  • Shut off the power to an appliance immediately if you notice a burning smell or smoke, and do not use the appliance again until it has been repaired.
  • Use the correct wattage bulb for your fixtures.

 

This May, take a look around your home to make sure that you are avoiding unnecessary fire hazards. Raising awareness for electricity hazards is the first step towards catching home electrical problems before they start.

Backyard fire safety

Backyard Fire Safety and Prevention Tips

Summer is here, and so are outdoor grills and fire pits. Most households in the US own a grill or a fire pit, and most will host grill outs or barbecues over these warm months. It is easy to get relaxed when having fun with friends and family. Taking steps towards practicing backyard fire safety is the best way to keep everyone safe while still having a great time.

Backyard Fire Safety Tips

Practicing fire safety can help keep yourself and your loved ones safe during fun outdoor summer events. It is highly recommended that you call the fire department first before starting to extinguish a fire that is out-of-control.

General Fire Safety Tips

  • Backyard fire safetyMake sure that children are supervised at all times, as they may not be fully aware of the dangers of an open fire.
  • Call the fire department before you start to extinguish an out-of-control fire.
  • Never leave a fire pit or grill unattended once lit.
  • Have a fire extinguisher or bucket of water on hand to put out flare-ups and prevent an emergency. Even better, have a hose at the ready if you have one.
  • If needed, clear an escape route using a fire extinguisher or hose to ensure that everyone gets out safely.
  • Only use seasoned wood and charcoal. Composite woods such as fiberboard or plywood can contain potentially toxic chemicals.
  • Stay up to date on burn bans and drought conditions even if you aren’t burning leaves; avoid outdoor burning as necessary.

 

Fire Pit Safety

  • Backyard fire safetyAs tempting as it is to create a bonfire, larger fires are harder to control if the wind picks up and things get out of hand. Smaller fires still produce a lot of heat and are easier to handle in case of emergency.
  • Clear the area surrounding a fire pit prior to use by sweeping or raking leaves, branches, and other debris that can catch fire.
  • Avoid lighting a fire on a windy day, as sparks can travel very easily.
  • Extinguish a fire completely after use even if it looks like it has burned out. Do this by spreading the ashes with a shovel and pouring several buckets of water over the ashes. Repeat as needed.

 

Charcoal and Gas Grill Safety

  • When using a charcoal grill, use charcoal lighter fluid and not gasoline to avoid exposure to toxic chemicals.
  • Do not reapply charcoal lighter fluid once the grill is lit, as the combination of flames, vapor, and fuel can cause a flare up or an explosion.
  • It is recommended to have a fire extinguisher that is rated for multipurpose or kitchen use when grilling.
  • Turn off a gas grill before trying to extinguish a flare up.
  • Do not move a hot grill.
  • Opt for clothes that do not have loose sleeves or tassels if you are the grill master in order to avoid clothing catching fire.

 

Preventing Backyard Fires

The best way to practice backyard fire safety is to do everything you can to prevent fires from happening in the first place. These tips will help you minimize potential risks.

  • Backyard fire safetyAvoid setting up grills and fire pits under low hanging branches. Fires can travel up the tree and across branches to the house.
  • Avoid setting up grills and fire pits beneath any awnings, such as a patio or covered deck that can catch fire.
  • Keep fire pits and grills 10 feet away from the side of the house and in a clear area. Do not light a grill under a porch or patio.
  • Set up your fire pit or grill on a flat surface to prevent accidental tipping.
  • Place your grill or fire pit at least 30 feet away from the area where you store flammables such as lawnmower fuel or spare motor oil.
  • Keep your grill or fire pit at least 30 feet away from where you store wood; sparks can fly on the wind and catch on very dry wood.
  • Obtain any permits needed for backyard burning, and observe burn bans and drought conditions.

 

It only takes a spark to set a fire, especially in very dry conditions. You may want to consider avoiding outdoor fires and grilling during a drought, especially on windy days.

HVAC fire hazards

HVAC Fire Hazards and Prevention

The Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning system, more commonly known as an HVAC system, is a wonderful piece of technology that helps you stay comfortable regardless of the weather outside. Like any electrical device, it can pose a fire hazard if not maintained properly. Most HVAC fire hazards are preventable with proper care and attention.

The Top HVAC Fire Hazards

HVAC systems are usually in a back room of the basement, outside behind the house, or in the attic – three places that are easy for homeowners to forget about.

Regardless of the season, HVAC fire hazards are present at any time of the year. Fortunately, many of these risks are preventable.

The Top HVAC Fire Hazards:

  • HVAC fire hazardsHVAC parts are old, corroded, or broken: This problem often stems from an HVAC unit that is not regularly serviced. Problems with essential parts can lead to decreased efficiency and also lead to potential fire hazards.
  • Items are stored too close to the HVAC unit: The HVAC unit itself produces a considerable amount of heat. Storing combustible items such as boxes, paper, motor oil, and chemicals too close to the unit creates a high-risk environment for a fire.
  • Problems with connections or gas pressure: Problems with connections in a gas furnace can lead to toxic gas being released into the home, leading to both health and fire hazards.
  • The HVAC unit has an electrical problem: Whether the unit has a loose cord connection, a frayed cord, an old cord that overheats, or another issue, electrical problems with HVAC units can easily spark furnace fires.
  • A fuel line is leaking: This can be a harder problem to spot since many fuel lines are located inside or behind the unit. Yearly inspections can help catch old, at-risk fuel lines before they start leaking and posing a major fire hazard.
  • Improper installation: When an HVAC unit is installed improperly, it can lead to many problems such as reduced air flow and efficiently, and increased costs. Improper installation can also cause serious problems such as carbon monoxide poisoning and fire hazards.

 

If you notice the smell of gas in the basement, evacuate the home and call your service technician immediately.

What You Can Do to Prevent HVAC Fires

Taking steps to prevent HVAC fires is the best way to avoid an emergency situation. In addition, these steps can save you a lot of long-term hassle and cost.

Tips for Preventing HVAC Fires:

  1. HVAC fire hazardsSchedule HVAC maintenance at least once a year. Not only is a yearly inspection a good way to ensure that every part is in serviceable condition, you can maintain optimal efficiency for energy savings.
  2. Don’t attempt DIY HVAC maintenance. Always hire a professional, certified technician to perform any repairs or tune-ups on your HVAC unit. DIY repairs can lead to accidental problems such as carbon monoxide poisoning or increased risk of fire hazards.
  3. Ensure that the area is properly ventilated. HVAC systems produce carbon monoxide, a toxic, invisible, odorless gas. Without proper ventilation, this gas can collect in the home and become extremely hazardous to occupants.
  4. Be aware of what you store near your HVAC unit. It is advised to keep all items at least 3 feet away from the unit. Much like portable heaters and other appliances, HVAC units can get extremely hot and cause flammable items to combust. Storing items too close to heating equipment is one of the primary causes of home fires.
  5. Replace the filters on your HVAC at least twice a year, if applicable. Set a routine that is easy to remember, such as once during the spring and again during the fall. Not only will a filter improve the air quality in your home, it will help ensure proper airflow and reduce overheating.
  6. If you have an outdoor HVAC unit and keep it covered during certain seasons, make sure to remove the cover prior to the first use of the season. An obstructed airflow can cause overheating and pose a fire hazard.
  7. Install a carbon monoxide detector near the HVAC unit. Evacuate the home and call your HVAC technician if the alarm goes off.

 

Now that you know the top HVAC fire hazards and how to prevent them, you can take steps to keep your family safe year-round.

How to Restore Fire Damaged Jewelry

How to Clean Fire Damaged Jewelry

The average house burns at about 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit. Most fine jewelry is made of precious metals and stones with melting temperatures higher than this point. As a result, it is possible for jewelry to survive a fire even if not kept in a fireproof safe. Once the smoke has cleared, you will no doubt wonder how to clean fire damaged jewelry.

Can Jewelry be Restored After a Fire?

How to Restore Fire Damaged JewelryMost of the time, jewelry can be restored after a fire. In worst case scenarios, jewelry can always be melted and recast.

Professional jewelers are trained and knowledgeable about the best cleaning techniques for different types of materials. They also have specialized equipment such as ultra-sonic cleaners to clean badly burned jewelry. In addition, a jeweler will be able to remove stones from settings to thoroughly clean the piece.

If you want to try your hand at cleaning burned jewelry, keep in mind that the process may take some time and patience. The duration will depend on whether the piece has surface soot or is completely blackened.

The type of material will also determine how a piece should be cleaned. Some cleaners may be usable on hard metals such as gold and platinum, but can be damaging to semi-precious stones such as pearls or opals.

How to Clean Fire Damaged Jewelry

The primary goal of cleaning fire damaged jewelry is to and restore the appearance and shine without scratching the surface.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • How to Restore Fire Damaged JewelryDon’t use abrasive substances such as salt or baking soda, as these can scratch surfaces of metal and stones.
  • When using dish soap to soak a piece, do not use automatic dish soap, as this type of soap contains abrasive substances.
  • Baking soda may whiten clothes and teeth, but is not recommended for jewelry. Toothpaste also contains baking soda and should be avoided.
  • Vinegar solutions can be effective on metal pieces, but can damage both precious and semi-precious stones since they are more porous.
  • When in doubt, take your jewelry to a professional jeweler for restoration and cleaning.
  • Soft cloths and jeweler’s cloths are safe for all types of metal and stone.

 

If using a toothbrush to scrub your piece, be sure that it is not an old toothbrush. Old toothbrushes can contain traces of toothpaste, which contains baking soda and other abrasive substances. Use a new, soft-bristled toothbrush instead.

Cleaning Silver, Gold, and Platinum

How to Restore Fire Damaged Jewelry

Surface soot can usually be removed with a soft cloth or jeweler’s polishing cloth. If needed, soak the piece in jewelry cleaning solution and dry prior to polishing. A solution of ½ water plus ½ Mr. Clean all-purpose cleaner and a splash of ammonia will also be effective. Repeat this process until the piece is clean.

Blackened or baked-on soot may need a more in-depth restoration done by a professional, especially if the piece is particularly valuable or an heirloom. If you have an ultra-sonic jewelry cleaner at home, it can be used for precious metals.

When choosing a jewelry cleaning solution, be sure to verify that it is non-abrasive. Read the instructions thoroughly before using in order to avoid damage to your jewelry. This is especially important for plated jewelry.

Cleaning Gemstones

Diamonds, sapphires, and rubies can be cleaned much like precious metals.

Soak the entire piece the piece in jewelry cleaning solution and dry prior to polishing with a soft cloth. You can also soak the jewelry in a solution of ½ water plus ½ Mr. Clean all-purpose cleaner and a splash of ammonia. Do not use vinegar-based cleaning agents for gemstones, as the acidity can damage the gems.

Depending on the extent of the burn, you may need to take a piece to a professional jewelry cleaner, especially if soot has collected between the setting and the stone.

Cleaning Semi-Precious Stones

How to Restore Fire Damaged Jewelry

Semi-precious stones such as pearls, opals, jade, and garnet are soft and porous. Do not use any sort of abrasive substance on these types of stones, as they scratch relatively easily.

Soak semi-precious stone jewelry in a solution of 1 cup of warm water plus 3 – 5 drops of dish soap for 10 – 15 minutes. Dry with a lint-free cloth and polish. Repeat this process as necessary.

Restoring Fire Damaged Heirloom Jewelry

Fire damaged heirloom jewelry usually has significant personal value. These pieces are made of older metals and stones and can be more challenging to restore. Professional cleaning is usually the safest bet when it comes to fire damaged heirloom jewelry in order to avoid unnecessary damage.

The Bottom Line about Cleaning Fire Damaged Jewelry

A quick internet search will turn up a lot of DIY jewelry cleaning solution recipes. Again, it is important to avoid recipes including abrasives such as salt and baking soda and acidic ingredients such as vinegar.

When in doubt, have your jewelry cleaned by a trained professional. Repairing accidental damage may cost considerably more than cleaning fire damage alone. At Tidal Wave Response, we work with your insurance provider to find the best professionals to restore your jewelry back to its original condition.

Recovering from a house fire

Top Tips to Recover After a House Fire

A house fire can be a life changing experience for homeowners and their families. The fire can cause destruction to property and belongings in a number of ways, including flames, heat, smoke, and water. Recovering from a house fire takes time, and usually cannot be done overnight. While fire department personnel are making sure your property is safe to re-enter, there are a number of other things you can take care of in the meantime.

It is very important to be aware of the risks to your health and safety even after the fire has been put out. The aftermath of the fire contains polluted water and soot which can make you sick. And even though you may want to start recovering from a house fire as soon as possible, you cannot do so without first getting clearance from the fire department due to safety reasons.

1. Contact Your Insurance Agent

Recovering from a house fireDo this right away and find out what you need to do about the immediate needs of your home. Your company may inform you to make a list of possessions affected by the fire and provide details regarding their cost. Or, they may require a record of the damage by way of a video or photos.

Also, talk to your insurance company to learn the value of your home and property. They can also advise you on what to do to keep your home safe until it is repaired. This may include boarding up broken doors and windows and covering holes in the walls and roof against intruders.

2. Get in Touch with Restoration Experts

In many cases, fire-damaged homes can be restored to their original condition. You will need to find a fire damage restoration professional who can assist with the process of recovering from a house fire. These experts help in cleaning and restoring your personal belongings.

Be sure to look for a restoration expert that specializes in both water and fire damage, since most homes affected by fires will have both types of damage due to fire-fighting efforts.

Whether you or your insurer gets this service, find out who will pay for it. You can ask your insurance company for any reliable recommendations, or you may wish to find a suitable restoration expert yourself. It is important to note that some restoration experts, such as Tidal Wave Response, work directly with insurance providers to reduce the hassle and streamline the process.

Some of the services that you will receive can include the following:

  • Emergency pre-cleaning
  • Dry out services
  • Surface and content cleaning
  • Content pack out
  • Wall and ceiling cleaning
  • Mold removal
  • Smoke elimination
  • Soot and stain removal
  • Deodorization and sanitization

3. Take Care of Your Finances

During the process of recovering from a house fire, you should also contact your mortgage lender or landlord as soon as possible. It is your responsibility to inform the mortgage company about the fire and about the restoration process. They may have forms for you to fill out and may want to inspect the property. Also, get in touch with your credit card company to report any cards lost in the fire and request replacements.

If you need to spend any money at this time, make sure to save all receipts. You may need to present these receipts to your insurance company later to prove losses claimed on your tax return. You can also check with an accountant or the IRS regarding special benefits for people suffering from fire damage loss.

4. Find Your Local Disaster Relief Services

Recovering from a house fireRecovering from a house fire often starts with getting the basics of food and shelter squared away. You can get in touch with local organizations that may be able to help. These can include options like the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, religious organizations, or community groups. These groups can help you find a place to stay along with providing other essentials like food, clothing, and medicine.

If your home has suffered a fire, you may qualify for government disaster financial assistance. For this, you will need to check with local authorities about assistance programs that are available.

5. Replace Valuable Documents

When you are allowed inside your house, one of the first things you will need to look for are important documents. If these have been destroyed, you will want to replace them as at the earliest possible chance.

Some common important documents include:

  • Drivers’ licences
  • Auto registration
  • Bankbooks
  • Insurance policies
  • Passports
  • Medical records
  • Birth, death and marriage certificates
  • Divorce papers
  • Titles
  • Deeds
  • Bonds
  • Warranties
  • Contracts

 

Recovering from a house fire takes time and patience, but is worthwhile in the end to ensure that restoration has been done both safely and properly. Remember that even when you are allowed to re-renter your home, the premises may still pose certain threats. For this reason, never use any appliances, switch boxes, electrical outlets or fuse breaker panels until all electrical circuits have been inspected and cleared for use by qualified personnel.

Preventing dryer fires

How Dryer Maintenance Prevents Fires

The dryer vent is a hidden source of fire hazard in every home containing this appliance. There are many potential causes of fires in the dryer, but there are also many steps you can take towards preventing dryer fires.

Common Causes of Dryer Fires

Lint Buildup

Preventing dryer firesWhile most people assume that their lint traps catch all the lint, this is not entirely true. In fact, a substantial amount of lint does not get caught in the lint trap, but collects in other places instead. This can be especially true if dryer vents are too long, have too many bends, or if the dryer duct uses flimsy plastic or foil duct extenders.

A combination of lint accumulation and reduced airflow can create the ideal conditions for starting a fire. Lint, by itself, is a highly combustible material. When paired with an obstructed airflow, lint can quickly become an incendiary problem.

 

Placing Unsuitable Materials in the Dryer

Another reason can be placing unsuitable or combustible materials in the washer dryer. These can include clothes smeared with volatile chemicals such as cleaning agents, cooking oils, or finishing oils and stains. To minimize the potential for disaster, wash such clothing more than once to neutralize the amount of chemicals before putting them in the dryer. Or better still, line dry them to avoid the risk of combustion altogether.

Improper Installation

Preventing dryer firesIf the exhaust vent gets crushed or suffers from improper installation, the end result may be a dryer fire. Both these problems can result in an insufficient airflow thus raising the operating temperature of the dryer. It is also crucial to consider adequate clearance space between the dryer and the wall. If the dryer is placed too close to the wall, then there is the possibility of crushing the venting materials, causing problems with airflow.

Maintenance Shortfalls

This is considered one of the major causes of dryer fires. To function safely, clothes dryers need to emit hot air outside the house. But when the dryer vent fills with lint that sneaks by the dryer’s filter, it fills in the exhaust duct. This blockage traps the air flow, causing excessive heat buildup.

Preventing Dryer Fires

Preventing dryer fires takes some vigilance, but is worthwhile in the long run. Take the following steps for clothes dryer maintenance to help in preventing fires:

  • Preventing dryer firesCheck the lint filter or screen before and after each dryer cycle runs. If clothes are still damp when the cycle ends, it could be an indication of a dirty exhaust duct. A clean lint screen and filter will also dry clothes faster. As an added bonus, the dryer will use less energy.
  • Inspect the exhaust duct and dryer vent frequently. It is important to monitor the outside dryer vent when the dryer is running to ensure that the exhaust air escapes properly. If this does not happen, then either the duct or the vent may be choked. To remove the blockage, you can disconnect the duct from the appliance and clear out the blockage. Just don’t forget to reconnect it back before running the dryer next time.
  • Keep the surrounding area clean to prevent lint buildup. If you cannot see any buildup visually, call in a professional service provider to clean the chassis. Such periodic cleaning will help in keeping lint accumulation to a minimal. Also, it is recommended to clean the area around the dryer regularly and keep it clutter free.
  • Use metal dryer ducts; these are more effective in preventing dryer fires. Experts say that flexible dryer ducts made from plastic or foil can be problematic since they can sag and permit lint deposits to build up at low points. Likewise, ridges can also trap lint. On the other hand, metal ducts whether solid or flexible, are considered safer since they do not sag. And should a fire start, a metal duct has a better chance of containing it.
  • Practice dryer fire safety tips such as turning off the dryer when leaving home. It is advised to never leave the dryer running when not at home in case it malfunctions. Also, plug the appliance in a suitable outlet where its electrical requirements are met. Electrical outlets that are overloaded can trigger tripped circuits or blow fuses.
  • Have the dryer installed by a professional. To minimize clothes dryer fire hazards, the dryer duct should vent to the exterior and installed in a place where only a minimal length of the exhaust duct is required. This practice prevents having too long a duct or too many bends in it.