One of the worst aspects about fire and water damage is that both occur year-round, and both may come from natural and man-made causes. But as they can both occur from various sources, there are seasonal trends in where and when they start, such as frozen pipes in the winter and storm damage in the spring and summer.
As we inch closer to fall, here are some steps to take on how to prevent fire damage and water damage in the fall and winter:
1. Inspect fire extinguishers and replace batteries in smoke alarms
Batteries in smoke alarms should always be replaced every six months. Consider changing them out during daylight savings start and end times so you don’t forget. If you have multiple floors, at least one should be installed on each floor, as well as having one in the kitchen and in each bedroom. Even after replacing the batteries, test each one to make sure they are working properly and replace defective units right away.
Also keep a fire extinguisher on each floor. Most will last anywhere from 5 to 15 years but be sure that it is working well and contact your local fire department for instructions on how to replace one that is defective.
2. Inspect your washing machine and dryer
Washing machines and dryers are a godsend, but we take them for granted. With heavy use, the dryers become filled with lint and washing machines can spur mold growth if moisture is trapped in the machine.
Be sure to inspect the washing machine every few months to ensure all hoses are tight to prevent water leaks. Use a vacuum hose to remove any trapped lint or dust behind the machine, also inspect the ductwork to ensure that it’s clear and not creating a fire hazard.
3. Inspect and clean your fireplace
Fireplaces are great in the wintertime, but they do require maintenance to keep them safe. At least once each year, call a professional to have the fireplace inspected and cleaned to prevent the buildup of creosote. Fires caused by this byproduct can cause permanent smoke damage to your fireplace mantel, flue, or chimney.
4. Install storm windows
For those living in cooler climates, such as Fort Wayne, IN, summer windows should be replaced with storm windows.
Installing these units will improve the overall efficiency of the heating system and will prevent frozen pipes. While there is no immediate damage with frozen pipes, they are an immediate concern as they can burst and create a water emergency in seconds.
While it’s not required for most modern windows to have storm windows, installing these can prevent cracks and potential leaks. Just make sure they close tightly and replace any worn caulking or gaskets to keep cold air out of your home. If you find any discoloration or deterioration in the wall around the window, it’s a sign of a leak. Be sure to have the necessary repairs made and a water damage restoration contractor restore the damage in the wall.
5. Clean your gutters and downspouts
All leaves, sticks, dirt, and other debris should be cleared away from the gutters and downspouts to allow water to flow freely away from your property. This will ultimately prevent water from spilling over and flooding your foundation. It will also prevent ice dams in the winter along the edge of your roof, preventing both water and mold damage underneath your roof.
You might also want to consider adding extensions to your downspouts. If you find excess water pooling around your foundation or leaks in your basement walls and windows, downspout extensions will prevent water damage, especially when the snow melts in the spring.
6. Shut off all outdoor faucets
When it comes to watering your grass and garden in the spring and summer, outdoor water faucets come in handy. But they should be turned off in the fall to prevent them from freezing and bursting in the winter.
Disconnect and drain all outside hoses and disconnect your interior shutoff valve for outdoor faucets, if you have one. If you don’t, install an insulation kit to prevent the faucet from freezing and bursting during the winter.
7. Check your sump pump
Sump pumps are lifesavers for homeowners in the Midwest, especially for those with basements. But they only help if they work, and you’d be surprised at the number of those that break during a flood.
In the fall, first check the placement of the pump as it may float to the side of the pump well, preventing it from working, and thus flooding your basement.
After ensuring that it’s correctly placed in the center of the well, pour a bucket of water into the sump. When it detects the water, the pump should drain it to the proper level. If it doesn’t, unplug the pump and inspect it as well as the drainpipes. If you are unable to find the issue, hire a professional to have it fixed before the next storm hits.
Be Ready in the Time of Emergency
There are a number of fire and water prevention steps that can be taken, specifically before fall and winter. But there’s no way to be absolutely sure that you are safe from a disaster. Even if you have taken all of the water and fire prevention steps listed above and are still unfortunate to suffer property damage, taking immediate action to have the problem fixed can save both time and money during the repairs process.
If you have ever suffered through a fire, you may remember that fire damage will also bring water damage as fire hoses are needed to extinguish the flames.
If you have been a victim of water or flood damage in the past, you may also be aware that water damage brings mold. So, it’s really not often that the home or business owner experiences just one kind of disaster.
This way you don’t have to worry about working with multiple companies to restore your home or building.
Our technicians are also trained, experienced, and licensed to restore homes and buildings of all sizes. Having a 24/7 availability and an emergency response allows us to prevent water and fire damage from spreading even further, thus, limiting the restoration process. We will also work with your insurance company during the claims process so you can focus on other matters during this stressful time.
Water and Fire Damage Restoration
ServiceMaster by Restoration Contractors proudly serves the cities of Fort Wayne, Auburn, New Haven, Warsaw, and the surrounding northeast areas of Indiana with emergency restoration services.
We are available 24/7 at (260) 420-1502 to handle all home and building emergencies. Give us a call right away for an emergency response.