Recent Posts

Holiday Safety

12/11/2018 (Permalink)

According to the National Fire Protection Agency U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 200 Christmas tree related home fires during the holiday season. In total, the average annual property damage is over $14 million dollars!  While such fires are uncommon they are more likely to result in civilian death. A death occurs in 3% of reported Christmas tree fires. By comparison a fatality occurs in only ½% of all other reported home fires. The reason for this discrepancy, Christmas tree fires usually star overnight when trees are left lit. Remember to turn your tree lights off before going to bed and if your tree is natural make sure to water it regularly and dispose of it shortly after the holidays.   

We at SERVPRO Newton / Wellesley wish you and yours a happy and safe holiday season!

Holiday Fire Hazards

12/11/2018 (Permalink)

The more holiday lights the better, right? Weather we are talking about strands of our favorite Christmas lights or holiday scented candles, one quarter of reported Christmas tree fires the result of electrical problems or heat sources too close to the tree (according to the NFPA). Be sure not to overload outlets with multiple strands of lights and make sure that the electrical wiring is up to current electrical code standards. Also, check the wiring to ensure that there are no frays or loose connections.
If candles are the way you light up your holidays then follow these two important safety tips. Do not leave candles lit when going to bed or if no one is home. Additionally, keep them a safe distance from anything flammable.


We at SERVPRO Newton / Wellesley wish you and yours a happy and safe holiday season!

SERVPRO Mold Remediation

12/2/2018 (Permalink)

When approaching mold clean up a lot of people wonder which method is best, “Dry Blast” vs “Sand Blast”, The answer is neither , the reality in today’s world is this is unnecessary because; dry ice is costly, it only removes surface mold, and porous materials require a deep cleaning. SERVPRO technicians use anti-fungal and anti-microbial treatments that kill mold colonies and help prevent new colonies from forming

When tackling mold we make it a priority to set up containment. All remediation companies will set up containment, but when and how is the issue. We set up containment prior to applying the “eyeball test”. Which is as follows

    • The “Eyeball Test” – Assessing the Environment
      • Has there been a previous water damage
      • Do you smell musty odors of mold
      • Do you see areas of mold contamination
      • Our competitors cut 4 x 8 holes in the wall from the ground up
    • We cut a 2 x 4 in the center of the wall

Odor Penetration

10/12/2018 (Permalink)

Factors which Help Odors Penetrate 

  • Surface Porosity – The porous nature of building material varies – Hardwoods are less porous than soft wood. The types of paint used will change the porous nature of building materials. Flat paint does little to protect against odor penetration while paints with a high gloss finish may make a surface impervious to odor and moisture penetration. Items like carpet, drapes, and upholstery are all excellent vessels for odor retention.  
  • Heat - Heat causes porous surfaces to expand, allowing odors to penetrate even deeper. When heat is removed, the surfaces cool, contract, and trap the odor particles. This is why odors resulting from a fire are so pungent and challenging to neutralize.
  • Heavy concentrations of residue - The more concentrated the residue from substances causing the odor, the greater the surface area of materials that it can impact. 
  • Exposure time - The longer a surface is exposed to odor particles, the greater the number of odor particles that will penetrate porous surfaces. The greater the number of odor particles that penetrate porous surface areas the stronger the odors are likely to be.

Environmental factors also influence our reception of odors. Odor molecules are very volatile; they vaporize easily. High humidity levels help dissolve and carry odor vapors to the nose. This makes odors in humid air seem stronger than those in dry air. Weather conditions thus impact how evident odors are to people; odors become more detectable by the nose as the humidity increases. Our technicians alert our clients about these potential environmental impacts. It is quite possible, even months later, for odors to reappear during times of increased humidity or temperature. That is not so say that the odor neutralization process was incomplete, but rather the environmental conditions have changed and become more conducive to odor reception. In some cases additional neutralization may be necessary.    

Next up - Deodorization methods and basic procedures.

Odor Remediation

9/25/2018 (Permalink)

Odor remediation projects tend to be complex. Odors may be real or imaginary. Furthermore, interpretation of odor as good versus bad varies from client to client. As such every remediation project presents a unique set of challenges to our technicians. Over the coming weeks I would like to provide insight into some of these challenges and how to properly neutralize odor.  To begin with we need to better understand how we as humans process odor, what odor is, why odor remains, and finally environmental conditions that may enhance our reception of odor.

Humans depend on their nose as the best “instrument” for detecting odor. Odors result from airborne chemicals, gases, or tiny particles. As we breathe, these substances are absorbed by the mucous membranes in our nose and mouth. Receptors in the nose send a message to the brain, where the odor sensation is interpreted. Each individual reacts to odors differently in detecting whether odors are present and how intense they are. Interestingly there are two types of odors — real and imagined.  

  • Real odor is the sensation of smell caused by a real substance. Odor molecules interact with olfactory nerve cells in the nose. The olfactory nerves send a message to the brain that is interpreted by the olfactory lobe.
  • Imaginary or psychological odor is what people think they smell. They are stimulated by a given set of circumstances and strong impressions formed from similar circumstances before. Some people think they smell something because of the circumstances, not because of an odor actually being present. Imaginary odors are sometimes called heightened awareness odors, because circumstances have made the individual more aware of odor than he or she normally would be, and thus more likely to smell something that no one else smells.

Moreover, the term odor describes both good and bad smells. Whether an odor smells good or bad is in the mind of the individual. Some odors — such as putrefying flesh — are considered unpleasant by almost everyone. Other odors — such as gasoline or paint fumes— may be considered good odors by some people, but extremely offensive by others. The interpretation of whether a smell is good or bad differs from one individual to the next.

Odor particles are tiny. Tiny objects are measured in microns, and odor particles range in size from .1 (one tenth) of a micron to about four (4) microns. To put these sizes in perspective take a look at the period at the end of this sentence. That period is about 150 microns in size or 38 times bigger than the largest possible odor particle!  The extremely small size of odor particles allows them to penetrate surfaces easily. It is this penetration into building materials and furniture which result in odors remaining in our environments. This is also what makes the odor neutralization process at times challenging.   

NEXTFactors which Help Odors Penetrate 

Why Should you have your Commercial HVAC System Cleaned?

8/20/2018 (Permalink)

Why should you have your HVAC system cleaned?

NADCA addresses this question in a short simple answer: because they get dirty over time and they have the potential to contain large amounts of dust and particulates.

Energy Savings

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 25 to 40 percent of the energy used for heating or cooling is wasted. Contaminants in the heating and cooling system cause it to work harder and shorten the life of your system. Although filters are used, the heating and cooling system still gets dirty through normal use. When an HVAC system is clean, it doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain the temperature you desire. As a result, less energy is used, leading to improved cost-

Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality is one concern that building managers and building inhabitants have when they decide to investigate HVAC system. Through normal occupation in a building, we generate a great deal of contaminants and air pollutants, such as dander, dust, and chemicals. These contaminants are pulled into the HVAC system and re-circulated 5 to 7 times per day, on average. Over time, this re-circulation causes a build-up of contaminants in the ductwork.

While a contaminated HVAC system doesn't necessarily mean unhealthy air, the situation may be contributing to larger health issues or harboring contaminants that could cause serious problems for people with respiratory health conditions, autoimmune disorders or some environmental allergies.

Hmmm....is that Mold?

8/20/2018 (Permalink)

Suspicion of hidden mold

    You may suspect hidden mold if a building smells moldy, but you cannot see the source, or know there has been water damage. Mold may be hidden in places such as the

  • back side of dry wall,
  • wallpaper,
  • paneling,
  • the top side of ceiling tiles,
  • the underside of carpets and pads, etc.

Other possible locations of hidden mold include areas

  • inside walls around pipes (with leaking or condensing pipes),
  • the surface of walls behind furniture (where condensation forms),
  • inside ductwork
  • in roof materials above ceiling tiles (due to roof leaks or insufficient insulation).

Investigating hidden mold problems

     Investigating hidden mold problems may be difficult and will require caution when the investigation involves disturbing potential sites of mold growth. For example, removal of wallpaper can lead to a massive release of spores if there is mold growing on the underside of the paper. If you believe that you may have a hidden mold problem, please reach out to SERVPRO Newton/Wellesley and we’ll take a look right away.

Should I get Flood Insurance?

8/13/2018 (Permalink)

Should I get flood insurance always crosses a homeowners mind after a situation has arose and unfortunately in most cases, that option is too late. According to FEMA, Standard homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover flood. Flood is most often called an excluded peril, meaning it’s not covered. You should consider flood insurance even if you’re not required to purchase it or if you live outside a high-risk flood zone, called a Special Flood Hazard Area.

Flood zones are areas where there is a higher statistical probability of a flood occurring, but that doesn’t mean floods don’t occur elsewhere. In fact, in Texas over the last five years, a number of floods exceeded the statistical probability, putting more homes and properties in harm’s way than were expected.

Flood insurance can protect you from the catastrophic financial impact of flooding. Just a few inches of water can mean thousands of dollars of loss to your home or business. As long as your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), as a homeowner or business owner you can get building and contents coverage included in your NFIP policy. Renters can get coverage for contents only. Policies issued by the NFIP pay even if a federal disaster is not declared.

Where can I buy flood insurance?

When should I buy a policy?

As soon as possible. FEMA urges you to buy flood insurance before a flood event occurs. NFIP cannot pay a claim if you don’t have a policy in effect when damage occurs. An insurance policy from NFIP becomes effective 30 days after you buy it, unless the purchase is associated with the origination, renewal or extension of a federally backed loan on property in a high-risk area.

I am not in a flood hazard area, but I’d like to purchase flood insurance. Is this possible?

Yes, as long as your community participates in NFIP. You are eligible to purchase a flood policy with the same coverage you would receive if you lived in a high-risk area. A Preferred Risk Policy (a lower-cost flood insurance policy) provides both building and contents coverage for properties in moderate-to-low risk areas for one price.

Can I get flood insurance if I'm renting a property?

Yes. If you live in a community that participates in NFIP and you are a renter, you can get flood insurance to cover the contents of your home, apartment or business at a rented location.

June thru August is the Peak Season for Lightning Fires

7/16/2018 (Permalink)

According to the National Fire Protection Association, During 2007-2011, U.S. local fire departments responded to an estimated average of 22,600 fires per year that were started by lightning. These fires caused an average of nine civilian deaths, 53 civilian injuries, and $451 million in direct property damage per year. Most of these fires occurred outdoors, but most associated deaths, injuries, and property damage were associated with home fires.

      Lightning-related fires are more common in June through August and in the late afternoon and evening. Peak seasons for lightning-related fires vary by region, as do weather patterns in general.   

      In addition to the fires reported to local fire departments, federal and state wildland firefighting agencies reported an average of 9,000 wildland fires started by lightning to the National Interagency Fire Center per year in 2008-2012. These fires tended to be larger than fires started by human causes.  The average lightning-caused fire burned 402 acres, nine times the average of 45 acres seen in human-caused wildland fires. 

      In addition to causing fires, lightning is dangerous on its own. Data from the National Weather Service show that in 2008-2012, an average of 29 people per year died as a result of lightning strikes. The most common location for these deaths was outside or in an open area. The average number of lightning flashes per square mile varies considerably by state, as does the death rate from lightning incidents.

What to Do During a Thunder and Lightning Storm

7/16/2018 (Permalink)

  1. Know your area’s risk for thunderstorms. In most places, they can occur year-round and at any hour.
  2. Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.
  3. Identify nearby, sturdy buildings close to where you live, work, study, and play.
  4. Cut down or trim trees that may be in danger of falling on your home.
  5. Consider buying surge protectors, lightning rods, or a lightning protection system to protect your home, appliances, and electronic devices.
  • When thunder roars, go indoors. A sturdy building is the safest place to be during a thunderstorm.
  • Pay attention to weather reports and warnings of thunderstorms. Be ready to change plans, if necessary, to be near shelter.
  • When you receive a thunderstorm warning or hear thunder, go inside immediately.
  • If indoors, avoid running water or using landline phones. Electricity can travel through plumbing and phone lines.
  • Protect your property. Unplug appliances and other electric devices. Secure outside furniture.
  • If boating or swimming, get to land and find a sturdy, grounded shelter or vehicle immediately.
  • If necessary, take shelter in a car with a metal top and sides. Do not touch anything metal.
  • Avoid flooded roadways. Turn Around. Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.