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ServiceMaster Grand Rapids Tips & News

Tags: Winter


Preventing Winter House Fires

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According to FEMA, home fires occur more in winter than in any other season. In fact, heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires, deaths and injuries in the United States each year. Winter home fires account for hundreds of deaths, and over 2 billion dollars in damage every year.

Here are some tips to prevent winter fires

Be careful with your space heaters

  • 2 out of every 5 winter fires are caused by space heaters.
  • Make sure the ones you use in your home have automatic shut-offs if they tip over
  • Always place your space heaters away from everything else. Typically a 3 foot space is recommended around any space heater.

Keep an eye on your candles and other decorations

  • keep candles at least 12 inches from anything flammable
  • and three feet from your live Christmas tree
  • and don't leave candles unattended if there are pets or small children in your home. The flickering flame is very attractive to them!

Keep an eye out for overloading electrical circuits

  • particularly around Christmas, there is a tendency to plug too many light strings into one socket
  • don't connect more than three strands of lights together
  • Don't leave your holiday lights running all day or all night unattended

Practice fireplace and wood stove safety

  • if you own a fireplace, use a screen, and keep the door closed at all times on your wood stove. The only time these should be open, is when you are adding wood, or stoking the fire
  • have your chimney inspected regularly. A buildup of creosote can quickly lead to a deadly fire.

Don't become a statistic. Too many house fires happen in West Michigan because one of these simple practices is not followed. Be safe this winter!

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Preventing Frozen Pipes

When a house's water pipes freeze, it can lead to disaster! A 1/8-inch crack in a pipe can spew up to 250 gallons of water a day, causing flooding, serious structural damage, and the immediate potential for mold.

Burst water pipe

The three main causes of frozen pipes are:

  1. Quick drops in temperature,
  2. Poor insulation,
  3. And thermostats set too low.

Pipes that freeze most frequently are:

  • Pipes that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hoses, swimming pool supply lines, and water sprinkler lines.
  • Water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets.
  • Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation.

What you can do now to prepare your pipes for winter:

  • Inspect all pipes in your basement, attic, or storage areas that might be near an open window or poorly insulated wall. Check if these pipes have cracked and/or are leaking.
  • Inspect the perimeter of your building. Seal leaks that allow cold air inside near where pipes are located. Look for air leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents, and pipes, and use caulk or insulation to keep the cold out. With severe cold, even a tiny opening can let in enough cold air to cause a pipe to freeze.
  • Disconnect garden hoses and, if possible, use an indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. If items like garden hoses are left attached in the cold, frozen water may back up into your home’s plumbing and crack your pipes.
  • Insulate your plumbing system. Wrap pipes at risk for freezing with heat tape. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and only use products approved by an independent testing facility. You can also use heat sleeves to help insulate your pipes during cold-weather months.

Always know where your plumbing shut-off valve is located, and make sure everybody in your family knows where it is as well. If your pipes burst or if the temperature is dropping quickly, make sure you can quickly shut the valve off.

What to do if your pipes freeze

If you suspect that a pipe is frozen but hasn’t cracked yet, you may be able to thaw it out before extensive water damage from busted pipes occurs. Try using a hair dryer to thaw out the pipe. Never try to thaw a pipe with a torch or other open flame because it could cause a fire...

If your water pipes have already burst, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve in the house, leave the water faucets turned on, and call the professionals right away to fix the pipe.

If there is any water damage, our water damage restoration services can work fast to mitigate additional damage. With the proper knowledge, expertise and tools, our team at ServiceMaster Grand Rapids will extract, dry, and complete the clean-up, helping you get back on your feet as quickly as possible.

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