Recent Posts

We Have Collected the Last of the Angel Tree 2018 Donations

12/7/2018 (Permalink)

Why SERVPRO We Have Collected the Last of the Angel Tree 2018 Donations The whole gym at Salvation Army is filled with gifts and they are still receiving more!

After much planning and legwork, we collected the last of the Angel Tree donations this week. Thank you so much to everyone who participated in donating, sorting, and helping to collect these items.  

We are so thankful to live in such a caring and tight-knit community. It was awesome to see the outpouring of love and care that our community has for children that they may not have even met. Seeing the selflessness of the community around us has been truly inspiring for those of us here at SERVPRO this holiday season and we have only our neighbors and community members to thank for that.

We have wrapped up another year of Angel Tree donations and are already looking forward to partnering with the Salvation Army on other ventures in the future.

Merry Christmas, everyone. Have a safe and merry holiday!

Let’s Keep the Fire Under the Heart and the Lights on the Tree

12/5/2018 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Let’s Keep the Fire Under the Heart and the Lights on the Tree Yikes! This tree is definitely too close to the fireplace!

At Christmastime we want to be joyous, spend time with our families, and remember that there is joy and light in life even in the darkest season of the year. However, this year please don’t let that light come from a Christmas tree fire.

While live trees are beautiful and smell amazing, they must be properly cared for to avoid creating an unintentional fire hazard. According to the National Fire Protections agency (NFPA), ensuring that your tree is not a hazard, begins before you even bring it home.

When choosing your tree, check for needles that are green and won’t fall off the branches when you touch them. This is a helpful indicator on how long ago the tree was cut. Once the tree is in your home, make sure that you are watering it properly every day. Place the tree at least 3 feet away from any heat sources, like fireplaces, radiators, or lights.

During the holiday season, be sure to be attentive of your tree, keeping it watered, turning off the lights before you go to bed and disposing of the tree immediately after Christmas or whenever the tree dries out. A dry tree can be a fire hazards even left to sit in the garage or leaning up against the outside of a home.

Be safe this holiday season and check out this resource from the NFPA for more information on Christmas tree safety.

Are You Actively Preventing a Furnace Puffback?

11/28/2018 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Are You Actively Preventing a Furnace Puffback? After an unexpected puffback, this fireplace was left covered in soot. Check out our Before and After Page to see what is looks like now!

In the favorite childhood movie, Mary Poppins, while walking along the rooftop, Michael looks into a roof vent and ends up with a face full of soot. Limited to a rooftop in fictional London, this surprise puff is comical and harmless. However, when your fireplace or furnace creates a puff of soot inside your home, often called a puffback, suddenly it creates a very real, very sooty problem.

When a puffback occurs, it’s hard to ignore.  It can be loud, with a distinctive wuff sound and the resulting soot and oily residue covers every surface it can reach. It’s a frustrating experience and we most often see them happening around this time of year when fireplaces, furnaces and woodburning stoves are used for the first time after sitting dormant all summer.

In a fireplace or woodstove with a chimney, a puffback is most often caused by a problem in the chimney. For example, if there is a buildup of ash and leftover residue clumped in the chimney, this blockage can create an uneven balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide. As you add kindling and wood, the flame has plenty of fuel, but the oxygen it needs to burn is stuck above the chimney blockage. The fire will eventually correct this imbalance by sucking in a large amount of oxygen all at once, igniting the excess fuel in the fireplace and the buildup in the chimney all at once. The force of this ignition pushes ash and soot out of the fireplace and can cover the whole room in a dark residue.

In a furnace, the cause can be similar, a furnace can have a buildup of excess fuel, oil, even dirt or dust in the ignition chamber. This buildup blocks oxygen from reaching the combustion chamber and can be ignited in the same way a chimney buildup can. Therefore, when the ignition flame in a furnace pulls in the rush of oxygen it needs to burn, the resulting powerful expulsion of soot and oil can come out of the vents of the furnace.

As messy and unpleasant as this occurrence is, it is thankfully easily prevented. Routine chimney and furnace maintenance can usually prevent a puffback before they happen.

Protecting Your Documents and Document Restoration

11/19/2018 (Permalink)

Why SERVPRO Protecting Your Documents and Document Restoration Do you have a plan for your irreplaceable documents in a flood or fire?

As we are thinking about potential furnace and fireplace puff-backs this fall, we also want to think about items that may be affected by soot, especially documents that are necessary and irreplaceable.

We have all seen photos or baby books that have been affected by water or covered in soot. It’s a sad image and it’s hard to imagine all those memories that are now impossible to view because each photo is stuck to the back of the one on top of it. And while a parent is cringing at the loss of these photos, professionals also cringe as they see the tell-tale signs of water damage on a manila folder that contains sensitive and vital information pertaining to a client, patient, or a case.

Thankfully, while these cringe-worthy moments might be brought to you by a flood or fire, SERVPRO of Charlottesville is proud to sponsor the relieved smiles and grateful exclamations that come after the disaster. We offer document recovery and restoration and have our own Vacuum Freeze Dry Chamber to help ensure recovery of your documents to highest attainable quality.

Vacuum Freeze Dry Chamber sounds intimidating. But this method for restoring documents is the only restoration method approved by the National Archives and Records Administration. It’s a simple but intensive process. For documents that have been damaged by water we first freeze these documents to prevent further deterioration. The chamber is then able to reduce the temperature of the documents so quickly that the ice is turned directly into vapor and removed from the documents without allowing further damage that results from liquid water. This process is accomplished inside the vacuum with specifically targeted and monitored heating elements.

Once the moisture is removed from the documents, we can continue removing residue and cleaning the documents as needed. Depending on the type of moisture that affected the documents, or soot in the case of a fire, we may use Gamma Irradiation to remove any microbial growth or other contaminants that may cause the documents to be unsafe.

We also offer digitization services. If after this disaster you have realized that you really should have a digital backup, we can create this digital file and deliver it to you. And, upon receiving this file, if you no longer wish to have the hard copy or if the documents are beyond further restoration, we can also offer certified destruction of these documents.

Maximize the Effectiveness of Your Fire Extinguisher in a House Fire

11/14/2018 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Maximize the Effectiveness of Your Fire Extinguisher in a House Fire Use a portable fire extinguisher to create an evacuation path.

Fire prevention is so important, but it can only go so far and sometimes a fire happens despite our best intentions. In this situation, do you know where your nearest fire extinguisher is? Or how and if you should you use it?

Fire extinguishers are kind of like that antique porcelain figurine that you inherited. You know you definitely can’t get rid of it, but you don’t really want to look at it. However, unlike that figurine, your fire extinguisher will come in handy in the event of an emergency. Before an emergency strikes, you should have a fire extinguisher in an accessible location, where fires are likely to start, like the kitchen or garage. You should also have a fire extinguisher on each floor of your home. Once you have them placed you should also routinely check to make sure they are up to date.

Now, you have a fire extinguisher, awesome. But unless you plan to throw the whole canister at the fire and hope that it works, you will also need to know how and when to use it. Compared to the size of many house and business fires, portable fire extinguishers are insignificantly small. As such, they are meant to be used to either create an evacuation path or put out very small fires before they have had a chance to get going. A fire that is small enough to be contained using a fire extinguisher will be confined to one area and will not have begun spreading beyond the point of origin.

In the event of a fire, you should always begin by sounding the fire alarm and calling the fire department. Then you should identify your evacuation path. It’s possible that the flames could flare up when you spray the extinguisher, so you want to make sure you have a place to run if this should happen.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends using the P.A.S.S. system to use a fire extinguisher. First (P), pull the pin to break the tamper seal. Second (A), aim the extinguisher nozzle at the base of the fire. Third (S), squeeze the handle, this releases the extinguishing foam. Last (S), sweep the nozzle back and forth at the base of the fire.  These four simple steps cover the mechanics of operating a fire extinguisher.

Always remember to be aware of your evacuation route when trying to extinguish a fire and be ready to vacate the area should the situation escalate. You can find more tips and explanations on this topic on OSHA’s website.

Prevent Your Thanksgiving Dinner from Going Up In Flames

11/7/2018 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Prevent Your Thanksgiving Dinner from Going Up In Flames Photo courtesy of Isaac Wedin

As Thanksgiving approaches we are all getting excited about the holiday season. Thanksgiving helps us remember to be thankful for the blessings that we’ve received. One blessing in particular is easy to be thankful for: the delicious turkey that is part of this fall tradition. The turkey is the crown jewel of any Thanksgiving meal and the challenge of cooking the bird to perfection is part of the glory. However, as you consider how you might cook your turkey this year, keep safety in mind.

Turkey fryers are a popular method as they provide a quicker alternative to roasting your bird for hours in the oven, and a tasty result. However, turkey fryer fires are exceedingly common and we here at SERVPRO of Charlottesville want to help you understand the dangers and how to avoid disasters when it comes to fryer protocol.

Let’s talk about set up first. You need to completely thaw your turkey. Any ice, or crystals left inside a not-quite-thawed turkey will spark and splatter when they touch the hot oil which can quickly cause a fire. While your bird is thawing, you will want to choose an adequate spot for your fryer. It should be outside and well away from your home or any other flammable materials. This spot should also be sturdy and level. Unfortunately, the design of turkey fryers is top heavy and as such they can easily topple over and start a fire. To help reduce your fryer’s temptation to nose dive, place it on a level surface.

Once your fryer is set up, gather a few precautionary materials. You will definitely want a fire extinguisher handy. Pouring water on a grease fire will only expand the fire, so you will need a fire extinguisher that is up to date and ready for use. Additionally, you should grab a few pot holders to protect your hands and arms from contact burns with the fryer. Inside the fryer itself you should be using a high-quality oil with a high smoke point. To fry the turkey properly, this oil needs to be extremely hot and this oil will help prevent flare-ups and reduce fire hazards.

As you fry your turkey there are only a few things left to remember. Be aware of how much oil you need, overfilling the oil can add an extra risk that it will spill, overflow or splatter, causing a fire. Check the weather and be aware of precipitation as snow or rain coming into contact with the oil can cause splattering. The fryer should never be left unattended so have at least two people designated to keep an eye on the turkey. This practice is helpful in case there is an accident, you will have two pairs of hands ready to jump into action. You’ll also want to keep any children and pets away from the fryer. This suggestion may sound obvious, especially after I’ve just explained all the ways that a turkey fryer can cause small explosions. But it’s important to make sure that children understand the danger that this appliance represents and pets can easily be drawn towards the tantalizing smell.

Lastly, if you haven’t used a turkey fryer before, it’s a great idea to test your process. Thanksgiving can be a joyous but also stressful day. If part of the frying process takes longer than you anticipate, it’s tempting to cut corners to make sure dinner is served on time. Practice your frying skills to minimize any surprises and practice your safety measures. Let’s be honest, your family won’t complain about having deep fried turkey twice in one month.

2018 Charlottesville Salvation Army Angel Tree Partnership

11/6/2018 (Permalink)

Why SERVPRO 2018 Charlottesville Salvation Army Angel Tree Partnership As we think about giving back this season, let’s empty this tree and touch the lives of each one of these children.

This winter SERVPRO of Charlottesville will once again be partnering with the Salvation Army for their Angel Tree program.

As a child, there is a lot of magic surrounding the holidays. People act differently, everything is lit up, and the toy that you have been waiting for all year shows up under your tree like magic. It’s a tradition that helps keep the magic of childhood alive and it reminds children that they are loved, cared for, and part of a community.

Unfortunately, presents don’t just show up by magic and they can cost a lot of money. This is why we are so excited to be participating in this program, but we need your help. We are so excited to be able to help children in the Charlottesville area have a joyous Christmas and help to remind them that they are loved and valued by their local community. We need your help in this mission!

Nan will be delivering angels as she visits offices in the month of November so be sure to keep an eye out for her green Juke as she makes her way around town. We will also have a tree at the office, so if you would like to stop by and pick up and angel or 5, please do. I know it’s early for Christmas and the holidays in general to be top of mind, but our drop off deadline to deliver the donations to the Salvation Army is December 8th so we are getting started now to give you plenty of time to gather your donations.

If you would like more information about Angel Tree you can check out The Salvation Army’s website.

Saving Susie’s Teddy Bear After He was Soaked – SERVPRO is HERE to HELP

10/24/2018 (Permalink)

Why SERVPRO Saving Susie’s Teddy Bear After He was Soaked – SERVPRO is HERE to HELP There is more to your home than the walls and floors, we are here to help restore the whole home.

Immediately after an incident with fire or water damage, you might be more inclined to think about the large price tag associated with replacing your carpet or hardwood flooring. However, all the little price tags associated with boxes and boxes of memories that were stored in the basement can add up quickly and include years of memories. SERVPRO of Charlottesville is here to help restore these items (along with that damaged flooring) so you don’t have to consider the possibility of losing those memories.

We have multiple strategies and techniques we can use when we begin the restoration process for belongings that were damaged in a disaster. In a water damage, this involves removing the moisture before it can do more harm. In the event of a fire, SERVPRO of Charlottesville may choose to do a pack out to be able to better restore the belongings that were damaged in the fire. A pack out involves inventorying all the belongings and transferring them to our facilities where we can more effectively restore them, and then returning them to your home. This process allows our technicians to access all the resources we have available at our facility without carting these machines and products to your home.

Multiple Methods

We train our technicians on multiple methods to clean your belongings so they have the options and the expertise to chose the correct method depending on the type of damage and the item that needs restoration. Our first resort method is a dry cleaning method. This method is used for items that have light residue. We might use this process on items that have been affected by soot or items that were affected by water, have already been dried, and require further cleaning to remove any residue.  

If the damage is slightly worse than a dry cleaning can handle, we would move to a wet cleaning method. This category is broad as it involves a wide array of products that we might use depending on the type of item that has been damaged and in what way. We would consider wet cleaning if the residue is greasy or if the residue needs to be broken down before it can be removed from the item. A reliable method, the wet cleaning process can handle many different kinds of damage. However, we also want to consider the well-being of your belongings as well as the condition of the damage. Removing the soot from your antique vase is less impressive if the coloring from the vase comes off with the soot. We have multiple other methods we can consider as we approach a more delicate item and we can discuss these options with you if the need arises.

With this in mind, we also have the ability to clean contents ultrasonically if the situation requires it. This method is perfect for contents that are delicate or have lots of intricate, small parts and crevices that traditional cleaning methods cannot properly clean. This technique uses ultrasonic sound waves to agitate a water and detergent solution. Bubbles created in the solution then disturb the dirt and other small particles, removing them from the items that need to be cleaned.

What Can Be Saved?

Of course, we cannot assume that all belongings that were affected by a disaster can be saved. While we remain optimistic and will do our best to restore all items. We will also go through belongings with a discretionary eye to determine what can and cannot be saved. Some damage is too severe to save. After sustaining some kinds of damage, items must be properly destroyed to assure the safety of your family. These decisions are sometimes not clear upon first glance, but we will come along side you as you make these decisions about what to discard and what to save.

SERVPRO - Offering the Green Choice When it Comes to Disaster Restoration

10/17/2018 (Permalink)

Why SERVPRO SERVPRO - Offering the Green Choice When it Comes to Disaster Restoration We show once again that “Green Means Clean” with our environmentally friendly line of products.

We have always said that “Green means clean.” And recently, we mean it on a whole other level. We have a new line of green products adherent to the “Safer Choice” guidelines. Striving to meet the needs of all our customers, we want to provide the highest level of restoration that we can. As such, we want to make sure that we have options and strategies available for all our customers.

When I say that we have new “Safer Choice” products available, you might think that means that all our other products are “unsafe.” These are not mutually exclusive adjectives. All our products undergo extensive testing and have met high safety standards. However, we recognize that some projects require a gentler touch than others. We are happy to say that we have the products to handle these jobs!

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created a list of safer ingredients for manufacturers to access when creating products to be a part of this “Safer Choice” category. These ingredients are graded in different areas including: developmental toxicity, toxicity to aquatic life, and persistence in the environment. Our green line of products is made from these safer ingredients. They have no fragrance and a gentler odor than some of our other products. They are available upon request and are often used in homes or business where children, pets, or other sensitive residents are present.

I know the popular response to a “green” cleaning product is scorn that this product cannot possibly work as well as the traditional line of cleaning products. However, at SERVPRO we’re not interested in cleaning halfway, so these products are also still tested against the same standards as other products in the same category that include the harsher ingredients. Which is to say that our green product line provides the benefits of the “Safer Choice” without sacrificing performance.

We are consistently striving to find new ways to provide for the needs of our customers. We are glad to be able to offer these green options to do our part to protect the environment and find better ways to make it “Like it never even happened.”

Water Damage Can Take Many Forms, Don’t Let it Go Undetected

10/11/2018 (Permalink)

Water Damage Water Damage Can Take Many Forms, Don’t Let it Go Undetected Water follows the path of least resistance, not the path of best visibility.

Not all water damage looks like wet floors or water dripping from the ceiling, although it can definitely take these forms. Some water damage is harder to spot, but that doesn’t make it any less dangerous to your home. Especially if you are coming home from a trip or thinking about buying or selling a home, there are a few signs that you can check for to see if there may be unnoticed water damage. 

Behind the Walls: Check your walls for discoloration or staining. You might also see peeling paint or bubbling. You can also touch walls to see if they are buckling outwards or if they feel soft or squishy to the touch. These can be indicators that water has leaked or migrated behind the walls of your home or business. Drywall loses its integrity when its wet and so even if it doesn’t feel “wet,” its behavior can still be an indicator of unseen moisture.

Under the Floors: Even if there isn’t water pooling on top of the flooring, or if the carpeting doesn’t feel wet, there could still be water affecting the subfloor. Check for any buckling, warping, or discoloration in your floors. These can be signs of the presence of water or excess moisture between the flooring and the subfloor or in the subfloor.

Special Locations: Be sure to use these techniques to check the basement and the attic, where water damage is most likely to occur.

Other Indicators: Of course, if you are smelling a tell-tale musty odor or if you can see any mold growth, these are also clear indicators that there may be water or moisture where it shouldn’t be.

These tips are just the beginning, if you do suspect water damage in your home, give us a call at 434-977-5850 or an email at