Stop the Flood: How to Prevent a Frozen Pipe Disaster

The risk of pipes freezing and bursting in your home goes way up when cold temperatures arrive.  Water expands when it freezes and puts tremendous pressure on its container, including pipes, causing them to break.  Burst pipes are a leading cause of property damage and can be costly to repair.

The good news is there are measures you can take to ensure the chance of a pipe bursting in your home remains low.

Prevent Frozen Water Pipes

The best way to stop a pipe from freezing is to take preventative measures.  Insulate exposed pipes in attics, basements, crawl spaces and other cold areas to warm them up. Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors under sinks to allow warm air to get to the pipes. Let cold water drip from a faucet. It will relieve any pressure that can build up if pipes freeze. Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature, day and night. If you are leaving town for a few days, set the heat to no lower than 55 degrees.

The American Red Cross reports pipes that tend to freeze most often are pipes exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines and water sprinkler lines. Water supply pipes in unheated areas, and pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation.

Thawing Frozen Pipes

One telltale sign of a possible frozen pipe is when you turn on a water faucet and only a trickle comes out. If no pipes have burst, you can take these steps. Turn on the faucet to let water through to help melt the ice.  Apply heat to the section of frozen pipe. Wrap an electric heating pad around it, or towels soaked in hot water.  A hair dryer or portable space heater will also help thaw the pipe.  Apply heat until water pressure is back to normal. Check for other frozen pipes in your home.

Take Action Outdoors

Follow proper instructions and drain water from the swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines.  Remove, drain and store outdoor hoses.  Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain.  Keep it open so any remaining water in the pipe can expand without breaking the pipe.

Frozen Pipe Repair Costs

When a pipe bursts, water will pour out and flood your home. It won’t stop until the main water supply is shut off.   If not dealt withimmediately, burst pipes can send as many as 10 gallons of water a minute into your home, causing extensive water damage.   A burst pipe in your home can easily cause more than $5,000 in damage.  Make sure you take care of it right away.  Once the water has been shut off, call a licensed plumber.

Need Help With Clean Up?

When it comes to water, flood or fire damage,  Flood Department is here to help. We provide water damage repair and clean-up services for homeowners and businesses in  Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.  We are dedicated to helping reverse the damage done by water, mold, sewage, smoke and more.  Contact us at 301-829-2600 or visit us online.

Holiday Season Fire Safety Tips: Don’t Let Flames Ruin Your Holiday Fun

During the hustle and bustle of the holidays, the danger of fire is always lurking.  Don’t let flames ruin your festivities.  With proper preparedness, you can keep your family safe from disaster. Below are some of the top causes of holiday fires and how to prevent them from breaking out in your home..

Cooking in the Kitchen

Cooking is the leading cause of reported house fires and injuries.  According to the U.S. Fire Administration, nearly 52-percent of residential fires were sparked by cooking in 2020.  Heating, electrical, smoking and candles are the other top causes of  home house fires.

Most fires in the kitchen can be blamed on unattended cooking. Keep an eye on the stove at all times.  Stay put while you are frying, boiling, grilling or broiling food.  If you are simmering, baking or roasting food, check it regularly.  Keep anything that can catch fire away from your stovetop.

If you have a small grease fire on the stovetop, turn off the burner and smother the flames by sliding a lid over the pan.  Keep the cover on until the pot has cooled. For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.  According to the National Fire ProtectionAssociation, If you have any doubt, just get out, close the door and call 911.

Christmas Trees

Live trees that are not properly watered can dry out and easily go up in flames.

Be sure to keep yours well watered, replace any bad lights, remove nearby heat sources, and unplug the lights overnight and when you’re not home.  Dry Christmas trees are blamed for hundreds of fires each year.  Typical causes are shorts in electrical lights or open flames from candles, lighters or matches.

Electrical Malfunctions

When hanging lights or electrical decorations outside, make sure they are labeled for outdoor use.  Same goes for extension cords.  Hang the lights with UL-rated clips, not staples or nails.  Never connect multiple extension cords together. Discard wires and bulbs that are frayed or broken.

Candle Flames

Keep lit candles away from the Christmas tree, greenery, and other flammable decorations.

Place them on a countertop or another area a safe distance away.  Never leave candles lit while you are not home or nearby.  Also, keep wrapping paper, rugs and clothing at least three feet away from the fireplace.  Use a fireplace screen to keep embers and logs from escaping.

Smoking

Cigarettes, pipes, cigars and other smoking materials start thousands of house fires annually.

According to a  2019  report by the National Fire Protection Association, smoking materials caused an estimated 18,000 fires annually between 2012 and 2016, killing nearly 600 people every year and injuring more than 1,100 others.  Smoking was the leading cause of home fire deaths over the five year period.  The majority of smoking-related fires started on the outdoor balcony or porch.

 Fire Safety Tips to Remember

A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a house fire. Install a fire alarm on every level of your home, including sleeping areas and the basement.

Test them monthly and replace batteries twice a year.   Create a fire escape plan with your family.  Get a fire extinguisher for your kitchen and consider putting an automatic fire sprinkler system in your home.

Let Us Clean it Up

When it comes to water, flood or fire damage,  Flood Department is here to help. We provide water damage repair and clean-up services for homeowners and businesses in  Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.  We are dedicated to helping reverse the damage done by water, mold, sewage, smoke and more.  Contact us at 301-829-2600 or visit us online.

Does Mold Live in Your Home? Here’s How to Send it Packing

bathroom mold

Are you suffering from chronic allergy symptoms, respiratory issues, or headaches in your own home?  You could be feeling the effects of exposure to mold spores. Household mold can grow in carpeting, insulation, ceiling tiles, walls and furniture.  If mold has invaded your dwelling, get rid of it now to keep health problems at bay.

How Mold Gets In Your Home

Mold can sneak into your home through open windows, doorways, vents and heating and air conditioning systems.  It can also cling to clothing, shoes and pets and be brought indoors.

Household mold can also grow in building materials. These include paper, cardboard, ceiling tiles and wood.  Paints, dust, wallpaper, carpet and fabric can also fuel mold growth.

How Mold Makes Some People Sick

Exposure to mold can  result in upper respiratory tract issues, allergy symptoms, wheezing, and coughing in otherwise healthy individuals.  People who are allergic to mold can suffer from severe asthma or breathing problems.

What Causes Mold

Mold only needs a damp, moist environment and organic material to grow and thrive. It commonly occurs around leaks in roofs, pipes, windows, or where flooding has occurred. Mold can also be triggered by overflowing washing machines.

Common Types of Household Mold

Aspergillus is found in the air and in HVAC systems, often in water-damaged buildings.  It can trigger allergic reactions, respiratory irritation, lung infections and asthma. People with compromised immune systems can suffer from deadly infections.

Cladosporium is very difficult to find. It thrives in warm weather and can spread very fast.   It is often found on carpets, wallpaper, window sills, fabrics, walls and on HVAC vent covers and grills.  It may appear as brown, green or black spots.

Black mold, which can be toxic to some people,  is often connected to poor indoor air quality.  It can pop up in your home or in ventilation systems.  This mold can cause chronic allergy symptoms, rashes, chronic fatigue and headaches.

Alternaria is found in bathrooms and damp windows. When this organism gets indoors, it can cause allergic reactions and trigger hay fever and asthma.  It can also infect people with compromised immune systems.

How to Prevent Mold Growth

The best way to keep indoor mold in check is to control moisture. Keep humidity levels in your home between 30% and 50%.   Fix leaky roofs, windows and pipes immediately.  Make sure air is able to flow freely in your home. Ventilate shower, laundry and cooking areas. Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier to help lower humidity levels. Don’t put carpet in bathrooms and basements where moisture can occur.

Cleaning Up the Mold

If you see or smell mold in your home, it is time to take action.  Remove moldy items from living areas and replace soaking wet carpets and upholstery.  Use soap and water, commercial products or 8-ounces of bleach mixed into one gallon of water, to remove mold from hard surfaces.  Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Open windows to get fresh air in, and wear gloves and protective eyewear while cleaning.  If there is a lot of mold to clean-up, contact a professional for help.

Do You Have Mold in Your Home?

When it comes to mold removal, flood clean-up, water damage and more, Flood Department is here to help. We serve homeowners and businesses in  Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.  We are dedicated to helping reverse the damage caused by water, mold, sewage, smoke and other disasters.  Contact us at 301-829-2600 or visit us online for more information.

Plagued by a Flooded Basement? Here’s How to Cope

how to deal with a flooded basement

Whether it’s due to Mother Nature or a busted water pipe, flooded basements are a common and costly problem in the United States. You are probably wondering how to deal with a flooded basement.

Statistics show 98% of basements in America experience some sort of water damage.  Nationwide, household water damage costs up to $20 billion annually.  Home water emergencies affect 14,000 people daily.

Here’s how to deal with a flooded basement and help keep the water away.

Flood-Proofing the Basement

Common causes of basement flooding include heavy rain, melting snow, a faulty sump pump, and poorly installed drainage systems. Even a burst water pipe can wreak havoc.  So, how can you flood-proof your basement? Here are some ways.

  • Install an electric sump pump to keep water damage to a minimum. Have a battery-backup system if the power goes out.
  • Put in a backwater valve to prevent sewage from seeping into your basement. Cleaning up sewage is a costly process.
  • Seal your basement. Put weatherstripping around doors and make sure windows are caulked.
  • Make sure the soil grading in your yard is sloped to move water away from the foundation of your house.
  • Don’t put plants too close to the foundation. Roots can cause cracks or bowing walls which lets water in, and overgrown shrubs can keep water from draining.
  • Install inexpensive extensions to your downspouts if you notice water pooling at the bottom. Position downspouts away from the foundation to keep the water out.
  • Keep gutters clean by removing any debris that collects. Consider installing roof gutter covers to help. 

What to do if Your Basement Floods

Even with preventative measures, water can still get into the basement and cause damage. Here’s what to do if the flood water wins out.

Make sure the electricity is turned off.  If you can’t reach the breaker box without stepping in the water, call your electric utility to shut it off for you.

Once it is safe to do so,  remove the water with a pump, wet/dry vacuum or a mop and bucket. Make sure there is no standing water left. Next, move damaged items out of the basement, and dry the area completely, using fans and dehumidifiers. Open windows and doors as well to air-out the basement. If the water isn’t removed quickly, mold can grow and water may damage the floor, the foundation of your home, or your property.  Consider having a professional come in to ensure the job is done properly.

Once the basement is all dry, it’s time to clean up the damage. Remove the wet carpets and furniture; replace drywall, and repair any electrical damage.  Again, professional help may be your best option.

The Costs of Flood Damage

According to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), just one inch of water can cause up to $25,000 in damage.  Most homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flood damage.  Flood insurance must be purchased separately.

The cost of fixing a flooded basement varies depending on the depth of the water and the type of water that got in.  That is, clean water, storm water, or sewage. Pumping out water and drying a slightly flooded basement can cost  between $500 and $1,000.  The cost can jump up to $10,000 if flooring, walls, ceilings and furnishings need to be repaired.

Got a Flooding Problem? We Can Help!

When it comes to flooding and water damage, Flood Department is here to help. We provide water damage repair and clean-up services for homeowners and businesses in  Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.  We are dedicated to helping reverse the damage done by water, mold, sewage, smoke and more.  Contact us at 301-829-2600 or visit us online.