Recent Posts

Recent Tragic Fires and Fire Safety Awareness

1/12/2022 (Permalink)

If you have been following local and regional news lately; you have shared the same shock caused by fire fatalities that I experienced; not once – but twice in the last 10 days. A house fire in Philadelphia on 1/5 killed 12 people; including 9 children.  Less than one week later a fire at a high rise apartment in the Bronx, NY killed 17 people including 8 children.  Two fires = 29 total deaths and 17 children died. 

Officials have concluded that the fire in Philadelphia was caused by a child playing with a lighter and igniting the family Christmas tree.  NY officials have concluded that the blaze in the Bronx was due to a faulty space heater – with probable faulty exit doors that were supposed to close,  but did not and most if not all died from smoke inhalation.  Tragedy on this scale in unimaginable and unthinkable; however it is a reality.

Studies show that most people who die in house or building fires are killed by smoke inhalation.  In fact 50% to 78% of all fire deaths are smoke related. Both fires occurred around Christmas and New Year’s which is consistent with the typical rise in home fires that occur during the holiday season.

When tragedies of this scale happen; we need to all learn the lessons offered. There are several previous blogs posted on this very website explaining and warning of the risk of holiday and home fires. In most cases; heating devices or human error or mishap is to blame.  This, unfortunately was the case in each fire.

When heating your home with space heaters or other types of portable heating devices; one must be aware of both the risk of fire and carbon monoxide.  The old adage “children should not play with matches” or in this case a cigarette lighter invites the need for parents to be aware of the hazards in their homes and keep such hazards out of reach.

FIRE is a deadly serious issue – please be fire smart and work to prevent such tragedies in the future.    

Troubleshooting Damage From Ice Dams

1/11/2022 (Permalink)

Ice Dams are thick ridges of solid ice that build up along the eaves on a roof.  Ice damns can lead to Dams can tear off gutters, loosen shingles, and cause water to back up and pour into your house.

Getting rid of ice dams for good is simple, in principle: Just keep the entire roof the same temperature as the eaves. You do that by increasing ventilation, adding insulation, and sealing off every possible air leak that might warm the underside of the roof.  Possible troubleshooting methods include:

  1. Ventilate Eaves And Ridge. A ridge vent paired with continuous soffit vents circulates cold air under the entire roof. Both ridge and soffit vents should have the same size openings and provide at least 1 square foot of opening for every 300 square feet of attic floor. Place baffles at the eaves to maintain a clear path for the airflow from the soffit vents.
  2. Cap the Hatch. An unsealed attic hatch or whole-house fan is a massive opening for heat to escape. Cover them with weather stripped caps made from foil-faced foam board held together with aluminum tape.
  3. Exhaust to the Outside. Make sure that the ducts connected to the kitchen, bathroom, and dryer vents all lead outdoors through either the roof or walls, but never through the soffit.
  4. Add Insulation. More insulation on the attic floor keeps the heat where it belongs. To find how much insulation your attic needs, check with your local building department.
  5. Install Sealed Can Lights. Old-style recessed lights give off great plumes of heat and can’t be insulated without creating a fire hazard. Replace them with sealed “IC” fixtures, which can be covered with insulation.
  6. Flash Around Chimneys. Bridge the gap between the chimney and house framing with L-shaped steel flashing held in place with unbroken beads of a fire-stop sealant. Using canned spray foam or insulation isn’t fire safe.
  7. Seal and Insulate Ducts. Spread fiber-reinforced mastic on the joints of HVAC ducts and exhaust ducts. Cover them entirely with R-5 or R-6 foil-faced fiberglass.
  8. Caulk Penetrations. Seal around electrical cables and vent pipes with a fire-stop sealant. Also, look for any spots where the light shines up from below or the insulation is stained black by the dirt from passing air.

Winter Fire Hazards

1/4/2022 (Permalink)


Heating is the second leading cause of US home fires and home fire injuries and third leading cause of home fire deaths. December, January and February are the peak months for heating fires. Space heaters are the type of equipment most often involved in home heating equipment fires, accounting for more than two of every five fires (44%), as well as the vast majority of deaths and injuries in home fires caused by heating equipment.

Carbon Monoxide

Often called the invisible killer, carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas created when fuels such as gasoline, wood, coal, propane, etc. do not burn completely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are potential sources of CO. Carbon monoxide incidents are more common during the winter months, and in residential properties. 

Winter storms

Most of the U.S. is at risk for storms in winter which can cause dangerous and sometimes life-threatening conditions. Blinding wind-driven snow, extreme cold, icy road conditions, downed trees and power lines can all wreak havoc on our daily schedules. Home fires occur more in the winter than in any other season, and heating equipment is involved in one of every six reported home fires, and one in every five home fire deaths.


Portable generators are useful during power outages, however, many homeowners are unaware that the improper use of portable generators can be risky. The most common dangers associated with portable generators are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, electrical shock or electrocution, and fire hazards. According to a 2013 Consumer Product Safety Report, half of the generator-related deaths happened in the four coldest months of the year, November through February, and portable generators were involved in the majority of carbon monoxide deaths involving engine-driven tools. 


Candle fires peak in December and January with 11 percent of candle fires in each of these months.  Christmas is the peak day for candle fires. Each year between 2015 -2019, an average of 7,400 home candle fires were reported each year.


Electrical home fires are a leading cause of home fires in the U.S. Roughly half of all home electrical fires involved electrical distribution or lighting equipment, while nearly another half involved other known types of equipment like washer or dryer fans, and portable or stationary space heaters.

Tips To Help Avoid Holiday Fires

12/9/2021 (Permalink)

  1. Stay alert while cooking. Cooking fires are the #1 cause of home fires and home injuries.1Avoid using the stove if you’re sleepy or have had a bit to drink. If you’ll be grilling, frying, or broiling indoors, stay in your kitchen. Keep oven mitts, dish towels, and anything else that can catch fire away from your stovetop. Be especially careful when using outdoor grills, smokers, and turkey fryers as these can pose an even greater risk to people and property.

    ~ Did You Know? Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.1
  2. Use candles with care. More than 33% of home decoration fires are started by candles.1Place candles away from decorations and anything else that is flammable. Never leave a room unattended while a candle is burning. Keep children and pets away from lit candles.

    ~ Did You Know? Candle fires peak in December; (60%) were started when something flammable such as furniture, bedding, curtains, or decorations was too close to a candle.1


  1. Take care with fireworks. Ten percent of fireworks fires occur between December 30 and January 3, with the peak on New Year's Day. Keep fireworks away from any building structures and don’t set them off in or near dry brush.
  2. Ensure your heating system is clean & safe. Hire a professional to inspect and clean your furnace annually. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from your furnace or any other heating unit. Keep children and pets at least three feet away from open fires and electric heaters.
  3. Keep guests safe while entertaining. Keep matches and lighters up high, preferably in a locked cabinet. Ask any smokers to smoke outside and provide large, deep ashtrays. Stay in the kitchen when cooking and keep holiday decorations far away from the stovetop.

    ~ Did You Know? 21% of decoration fires started in the kitchen.1

If you encounter any fire related misfortune during this holiday season – Please call SERVPRO of Sussex County for assistance.

CDC Update on COVID Cleaning

12/9/2021 (Permalink)

When to Clean and When to Disinfect

According to the latest update form the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) The virus that causes COVID-19 can land on surfaces. It’s possible for people to become infected if they touch those surfaces and then touch their nose, mouth, or eyes. In most situations, the risk of touching a surface is low. The most reliable way to prevent infection from surfaces is to wash hands and use sanitizer. Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces can also reduce the risk of infection.

This guidance is indicated for buildings in community settings and is not intended for healthcare settings or for other facilities where specific regulations or practices for cleaning and disinfection may apply. Additionally, this guidance only applies to cleaning and disinfection to prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. It does not apply to any cleaning or disinfection needed to prevent the spread of other germs. Always follow standard practices and appropriate regulations specific to your type of facility for minimum standards for cleaning and disinfection.

Cleaning with products containing soap or detergent reduces germs on surfaces by removing contaminants and decreases risk of infection from surfaces.

If no one with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 has been in a space cleaning once daily is usually enough to remove virus that may be on surfaces. This also helps maintain a healthy facility.

Disinfecting using USDA approved disinfectants kills any remaining germs on surfaces, which further reduces any risk of spreading infection.

You may want to either clean more frequently or choose to disinfect in addition to cleaning in shared spaces if the space:

  • Is a high traffic area, with a large number of people.
  • Is poorly ventilated.
  • Does not provide access to handwashing or hand sanitizer.
  • Is occupied by people at increased risk from COVID.

If a sick person or someone who tested positive for COVID-19 has been in your facility within the last 24 hours, you should clean AND disinfect the space.

Happy Customers is our GOAL!

12/8/2021 (Permalink)

After serving Sussex County for almost thirty years; we want to thank all of our fine residential and commercial customers for trusting us during some of your most difficult and challenging times. We are happy to state that we have experienced tremendous growth over the last three years and we look forward to helping our community in the future. That being said; I would like to offer a recent testimonial that we received from a customer that exuded more than just satisfaction; it offered true recognition and appreciation for our work.

A lady named Karen used our duct and vent cleaning services. After the job was completed; she offered the following words of praise for our technician, John. “He is just amazing! His attention to detail, customer service, and just his all-around work ethic is unbelievable. Just wanted to send a note of gratitude and recognition for John, really appreciate all the work he did today on my vents.He explained things along the way, showed my before and after pictures -just an all - around 5 star review for him. Thank you so much for sending him to me to do this work!!”To that we say THANK YOU Karen! Thank you for your kindness and your time offered in expressing such feedback. She recognized John’s attention to detail, his customer service and his work ethic. John was just doing his job at the highest level possible as he and all of our employees attempt to do on a daily basis; however when we receive this type of recognition of a job well done – we want to share it with the rest of our community. We share these words in an effort to assure all of our customers that they can expect the very best form our services and our people make the difference!

If you have any needs or questions – please call SERVPRO of Sussex County today at 302-856-9768 and we will be happy to help!

Top 5 Reasons Fire Sprinkler Systems Fail

12/7/2021 (Permalink)

Since the late 19th century, fire sprinkler systems have been utilized and continue to evolve as one of the most reliable fire protection systems available today. Problems can arise when the following issues occur:

1. System Shut-Off

Almost two-thirds (64%) of sprinkler failures occur because the equipment is shut off. This can happen when a building is vacant or under construction or when there are system problems involving leaks or other impairments.

2. Manual Intervention

Manual intervention that defeats a fire sprinkler system accounts for 17% of related failure to operate and represents the second-leading cause of sprinkler failures. Either building staff or firefighters may shut off a system after the fire starts but before sprinklers operated. This may occur when the fire was not immediately visible or was assumed to have been already extinguished.

3. Damaged Components

The one mostly nonhuman error for sprinkler system failure is damaged components, which contributes to 7% of sprinkler system failures. Component damage mainly consists of fires where automatic extinguishing equipment was damaged by explosions or by the collapse of a ceiling, roof or entire building

4. Lack of Maintenance

Six percent of sprinkler failure is due to a lack of maintenance. NFPA 4,Standard for Integrated Fire Protection and Life Safety System Testing, and NFPA 25 provide minimum requirements to confirm systems, if designed to function together, are operating appropriately and maintain the system to ensure proper function.

5. Inappropriate Systems for Hazard

The fifth reason sprinklers fail to operate is because the system is inappropriate for hazard. Five percent of sprinkler system failures are caused by an improper design of the system, wrong type of agent or the wrong type of system for the agent. One of the most critical decisions in designing a sprinkler system is determining the occupancy classification or commodity type.

Types of In-Home Water Sensors

11/29/2021 (Permalink)

If you’re looking for an affordable whole-home leak detection system, your best bet is to buy a few battery-powered leak alarms, which you can find at most hardware stores and home centers. These are very easy to use – you simply place the sensors on the ground near any pipes and plumbing fixtures, such as drains, heaters and, of course, washing machines, and leave them there to monitor the situation. As soon as even a small amount of water is detected by them, the water leak alarms will begin to admit an extremely loud and piercing sound that will undoubtedly attract your attention.

The next level up from the plain battery-operated leak alarms is the leak detector that can connect to the internet. These alarms can wirelessly send information to you via your home internet modem so that even if you aren’t home, you can be instantly alerted to any leaks and quickly act to get home and turn the water off before disaster strikes.

One step better than even internet-enabled leak detection systems are single-point shutoff systems. These kinds of systems are ideal for those of you who spend a lot of time away from home, and who may not be able to get back quickly when a leak happens.

These leak detectors are plugged into the main electrical, rather than running on batteries, so you never have to worry about them stopping working because they’re out of juice. Single-point shutoff systems use a sensor that is placed on the floor, but which is held inside an appliance pan, to detect water. When a leak is detected, a shutoff valve turns the supply off so that your appliances, such as dishwashers and washing machines, cannot keep pumping out water.

This kind of system is especially good for using large household appliances that are kept above the basement level, because things like washing machines can leak a large volume of water and if that is seeping through a ceiling or floor, it can cause a lot of water damage really quickly.

If you suffer any water damage; please call SERVPRO of Sussex County at 302-856-9768!

Seasonal Property and Business Cleaning Services

11/4/2021 (Permalink)

Sussex County has been known over the past years as a vacation or seasonal destination. In fact; Rehoboth Beach is known as the summer vacation capital of our nation. If you own a local business; you know the business ebb and flow of both the season and its shoulder weekends. Recently, increased development and population have made our county a year round destination. This will require that local business pay attention to the cleanliness of their properties year round.

Whether you are a business owner or you offer an AirBnb or a rental property; the need for curb appeal and cleanliness will enhance your profits as well as your prospects. If your approach to your business is seasonal; SERVPRO of Sussex County offers weekly and monthly cleaning and janitorial services to spruce up your property before and after the summer rush. Our cleaning division currently keeps some of our areas most notable and pristine places in beautiful conditions on an ongoing basis. We can also offer services in the spring and fall to get your place ready for the season or to help you recover from the additional traffic patronizing your business or property. SERVPRO of Sussex County offers a higher standard of clean and our staff are IICRC accredited and trained to tackle any me ss. Unlike most local cleaning companies; we do not offer “light” or “quick” cleanings – which typically lead to customer complaints and excessive management demand. When you see SERVPRO green - you know it's clean!

It does not matter if you own an ice cream shop, candy store or a 6 bedroom rental property; SERVPRO of Sussex County will help you keep it “truly” clean and a clean business or property is much more inviting to the public. Call us today at 302-856-9768 for an inspection and quote.

State Farm’s Steps to Take After a Home Fire

11/2/2021 (Permalink)

  1. Find a safe place to stay. No matter the amount of damage, you likely can't stay in your own home. If staying with friends or family isn't an option, talk to your local disaster relief agency, such as the American Red Cross or Salvation Army. These organizations will help you find a safe place to stay temporarily.
  2. Contact your insurance agent. You'll need to start a claim and address your immediate needs. "Loss of use" funds from your insurance policy may cover living and other daily expenses. If you receive these funds or an advance on your claim, save all receipts and keep a detailed record of all purchases. Your insurance agent should also be able to help you secure your property and offer recommendations for cleaning up or restoring salvageable items.
  3. Protect your home. Even though your home is damaged and you may not be able to stay there, as the owner you still need to protect it as much as possible from both weather and unlawful entry.
  4. Take care of your pets. Always have your pets checked by a veterinarian after a fire. Your pets’ lungs can be damaged by smoke and burns can hide under fur.
  5. Get a copy of the fire report. You can usually get fire reports from your local fire department. The report may be helpful in providing information for your insurance agency.
  6. Address your finances. You'll still need to make mortgage payments — even if your home is destroyed. You'll also need to continue any car payments and replace any credit or debit cards that may have been destroyed in the house fire.
  7. Recover your possessions. Items destroyed in a house fire are usually covered by insurance. Typically, the home owner’s policy is a replacement-cost policy. When that's the case, and a loss occurs, you will receive the actual cash value of your damaged items at the time of settlement and may recover the replacement cost once the items have been replaced. To help make sure everything is accounted for, keep a home inventory of your possessions. This inventory should include the date of purchase, cost at purchase and description of each item, wherever possible.
  8. Take care of your family’s mental health. Disasters can make it difficult to cope. This is particularly true of children. Be patient with yourself as you work through any stress caused by the fire. If you or others in your family are having difficulty coping, please seek professional help.