Real Christmas Trees:  Are they fire hazards?

Posted on November 30, 2020.

live Christmas tree
Do live trees present as fire hazards?


Christmas tree fires are not common, but when they occur, they are more deadly than other house fires.  This, according to the National Fire Protection Agency’s November 2017 report and fact sheet.  When you have a living Christmas tree in your home, what can you do to prevent a disastrous house fire?


3 things to be sure you do when you have a living Christmas tree:


  1. Water your tree daily. Fresh cut trees must remain hydrated. Your tree will absorb best if you trim the stump. This will keep the tree fresh and prevent needles from falling.
  2. Avoid open flames. Whether it be a fireplace or candles, always be conscious and aware to place your tree away from these potential hazards. A tree ignited by flame can be fully engulfed in under 60 seconds. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher nearby and ready in case of an emergency.
  3. Watch your electrical usage. Do not use extension cords to light your Christmas tree.  String the appropriate number of strands together that are allowed for lights, and plug the end directly into the outlet. Check the lights each year for splits, freys, and worn wires.


No Dry Trees:

Trees that are dry are fire hazards.  Be sure that you have a fresh cut tree when you start the season.  Water it daily.  Continue to water it daily and keep the water at a level where the tree can drink from the water source. You do not want your tree to be a fire hazard, so check the needles often.  Needles that are okay, bend.  Needles that are too dry, break off the tree.  Your tree needs to be removed from your home when the needles start to break off.


In conclusion,

There are many things you can do to ensure your living Christmas tree does not become a fire hazard.  You can be sure to give the tree fresh water daily.  You can be sure not to overload your electrical usage and use extension cords near your living Christmas tree.  And you can be certain there are no candles nearby your tree.  These are the three main risk factors for house fires caused by Christmas trees in the months of November, December, and January.


If you find yourself in unfortunate circumstances and need the help of a fire disaster restoration specialist, ServiceMaster is here.  ServiceMaster is available 365 days a year.  They will come out as soon as possible to assess your situation and they work directly with your insurance.

What to Do if You Have a Flooded Basement

Posted on November 20, 2020.

grey couch floating in a house flood


You have a flooded basement; what do you do now?  The EPA estimates that water leaks from homes in the US can exceed over one trillion gallons per year costing the average homeowner $7,000. Many people are under the false assumption that basement flooding is a normal, almost inevitable part of owning a home and that it is something they will just have to “deal with” when it happens to them. As a result of this assumption, homeowners often ignore signs of basement leaking/flooding in hopes that the issue will resolve itself in a matter of days or weeks.

This may not sound like a bad call (after all, it’s just a small leak, right?), but this nonchalant mindset can have serious consequences. First, ignoring water damage can lead to much larger, costlier repairs down the road. Second, water damage from a flooded basement can also pose a serious health risk to you and your loved ones. Moist places, like a flooded basement, are perfect breeding grounds for mold, mildew, and bacteria – all of which can be dangerous to your family’s health.

If your basement experiences even the smallest of floods, it is crucial you have the problem addressed right away. To do so effectively, you should be familiar with the common causes of basement flooding as well as the steps you can take to keep you and your family safe.  Knowing the common causes, and steps to take will ensure the issue does not continue to worsen. Flooded basements are no fun!

Common Causes of Basement Flooding:

  • Heavy rains
  • Home plumbing failures
  • Sump Pump failures
  • Groundwater flooding
  • Insufficient flooring and wall sealing
  • Obstructed gutter system
  • Overfilled eaves troughs
  • Inadequate landscaping-the slope drains toward the home
  • An inefficient or improperly installed drainage system
  • Unfavorable construction site (e.g. built on a bad slope)
  • Water seeping from the ground into the basement

Stay Safe and Minimize Damage by Following These Steps

  1. Call the experts at ServiceMaster to request emergency water extraction and/or mold remediation service. We are available 24/7 and will be out to your property as quickly as possible.
  2. Double-check that all power around your basement (including gas and electricity) is turned off. Do not under any circumstances enter the basement until you have double-checked that the power is off.  Failing to do so could result in electrocution. Continue to refrain from touching electrical appliances in the basement even after you have shut off the electricity.
  3. If you are unsure whether the power has been turned off, contact a local electrician before you enter the flooded area.
  4. Wear boots, gloves, and long-sleeved clothing to protect yourself from potentially harmful contaminants in the water.  Always walk carefully to avoid slipping.
  5. If you’re able to pinpoint the source of water (e.g. a burst pipe), shut off the water to the basement right away.
  6. Direct children and pets to a safe area outside the home. Do not allow them to go near the flooded basement.
  7. Move personal belongings and damaged items out of the basement to a safe, dry, and well-ventilated area to prevent further damage.
  8. If your flood is fairly minor in scope you can try to start removing some of the water by using a sump pump, wet/dry vacuum, pool pump, or a good old-fashioned mop and bucket. This will take quite a bit of time; you likely will not be able to remove all the moisture yourself.  This means your basement is still a welcoming environment for mold, mildew, and bacteria.

Therefore, we recommend you wait for our experts to arrive. We will put our industrial water extraction equipment to work for you. It is faster, far more thorough, and we will utilize our extensive mold remediation experience.  Our experience will ensure all traces of mold and mildew are eliminated.

ServiceMaster Is Here to Help 24/7

If you have noticed a leak or flood in your basement, call ServiceMaster.  You can request our emergency water damage restoration service right away. No disaster – be it water, fire, smoke, mold, or anything else – is too big or too small for our experienced, certified restoration team to handle. To learn more about our comprehensive disaster restoration services or to speak with one of our friendly experts about a potential water problem in your basement or any other room of your home, contact us online today.


This is an updated blog.  The original was published on January 25th, 2017, and can be found here.

Leaky Hot Water Heaters Cause Water Damage

Posted on November 13, 2020.

A Rheem water heater


Hot water heaters leak.  That can be damaging for your home if you have 40 or 50 gallons hanging out in a leaky water heater.

If your water heater is leaking, the first thing you need to do is stop the leak.  It may be repairable or you may need to replace the water heater.  Here is a video from Quick Pro in San Diego, California, helping you to decide if your water heater is repairable.

Life Span of 10 years

The average lifespan of a water heater is only 10 years.  You can get 10 years if you have completed the maintenance of draining the sediment every six months or at least every year.  If you have never done maintenance on your water heater, the life span can decrease to only six years.  Sometimes water heaters are under warranty, so be sure to check if your water heater needs to be replaced.


If your hot water heater leaks:

If you have a hot water heater that is leaking, or if it has burst on your property, you need to clean up the water as quickly as you can.  Turn off the water entering your hot water heater to eliminate a continuous flow of water spewing from your hot water heater.

  1. Turn off the shut-off valve.
  2. Pick up and salvage anything that has gotten wet
  3. Clean up the area
  4. Mop up the floor or use a wet/dry shop vac
  5. Get fans
  6. Run dehumidifiers

If you are unable to mitigate the damage yourself, call ServiceMaster.  We will take care of all of the above to minimize the damage to your home from the leaky hot water heater.  While you will need a plumber to replace the water heater, ServiceMaster will help with the flooding.  Water damage affects your life in the worst ways. It is crucial that you have a professional team with experience in water damage to mitigate any problems in a quick and professional manner.


A leaky hot water heater spells disaster.  Whenever disaster strikes your home, we want you to know that the team at ServiceMaster is ready to help.  We are water damage professionals.  We can repair the damage that water does, restore your property to the original condition, and get you back on track, fast.

From full-service home restoration to emergency flood damage repair to dehumidification and much more, we are the team to contact when you have experienced water damage. You can rest assured that when we get to work, we are using best practices to ensure that your home does not have any lasting side effects from the flooding.

Below is a sampling of the water damage services we provide:


  • Water Extraction
  • Pack Out and Storage
  • Drying and Dehumidification
  • Mold Remediation
  • Demolition and Debris Removal
  • Drywall Repair and Contracting
  • Anti-Microbial Applications

If you find yourself with water damage from a leaking water heater, call ServiceMaster immediately.  We are available 24/7/365 for your water damage needs.

Prevent Common Causes of House Fires

Posted on November 6, 2020.

servicemaster vans in front of fire damaged building


While we hope that you never experience any magnitude of fire, you should always be prepared for the worst. To help you out, here is how to prevent the most common causes of house fires which are smoking, cooking, and electrical. When you are aware of the three greatest fire risks, you will gain peace of mind knowing you have taken proper preventative measures to keep your home safe and protected.

Tips to Prevent Common Causes of House Fires

First, let us discuss a few general best practices to adhere to in order to prevent common types of home fires:

  • Always have charged fire extinguishers in easily-accessible places throughout the home. Check them regularly to see if they need to be re-charged.
  • Ensure fire escapes are clear of furniture and other hard-to-move objects.
  • Never disable your fire or smoke alarms and make sure to test the batteries regularly.
  • If you do experience a fire, get out of your house as quickly as possible and dial 911. Many fire injuries occur when the homeowners attempt to put out a fire by themselves.


At the top of our list is the leading cause of house fires, cooking, accounting for almost half of all residential fires in the country. Unattended ovens, stovetops, grills, and even microwaves, can set your home ablaze. Frying grease is also a big culprit of devastating home fires.

How To Prevent Common Cooking-Related Fires:

  • Never leave cooking food unattended, no matter what type of preparation method you are using. Turn off any actively hot surfaces when you leave the room.
  • Do not hang flammable materials above the stovetop or next to a grill. Things like towels, food packaging, oven mitts, wooden utensils, or curtains can catch on fire quickly, especially near an open flame.
  • Do not attempt to put out a grease fire with water. It will only spread the flames making it harder to put out. Instead, use a metal object to smother a grease fire.
  • Have a fire extinguisher that’s classified as either A, B, or C, which are designed for common kitchen fires like grease, electrical appliances, and ordinary combustibles.


Smoking is another leading cause of house fires. We know smoking can cause devastating effects to your home. If you are not careful, smoking can set your house ablaze. While we do not condone smoking, we know that it is a personal choice and you should always take the necessary preventative measures to avoid causing a fire.

How To Prevent Common Smoking-Related Fires:

  • Always make sure that you put your cigarette or cigar butts out.
  • Smoke outside and avoid the issue completely.
  • Buy an ashtray that is heavy enough so it won’t tip over and always ensure the contents of your ashtray are cold before emptying it.
  • Do not ash on anything that is flammable.


Another common cause of house fires comes from malfunctioning electrical components. Whether you’ve overloaded an outlet or an appliance starts sparking, electrical fires can start before you know it. Electrical fires cause lasting damage to your home. As a homeowner, you need to be smart with your home’s electrical consumption to ensure you are not putting yourself in any danger.

How To Prevent Common Electrical-Related Fires:

  • Hire a professional electrician to conduct an annual inspection of your home’s electrical system. They can spot everything from damaged circuits to faulty wiring to efficiency improvements and more.
  • Do not overload a circuit or leave your lights on for an extended period of time.
  • Understand the electrical capacity of your circuit breaker and do not attempt to overload it. A licensed electrician can help you understand how much capacity your electrical system can handle if you do not know-how.
  • Analyze all the electrical cords throughout your home and replace or discard any fraying wires. Ensure no cords are pinched, knotted, twisted, or running under any objects such as an area rug.
  • Know how surge protectors and power strips differ from each other. Surge protectors are needed to protect devices from a power spike, while regular power strips do not offer any protection. It is generally recommended to use a surge protector when powering valuable devices like TVs and desktop computers.

Always Be Prepared!

A home fire can be a devastating experience. Sometimes people simply think that it cannot happen to them. Do not be caught unprepared. Take the necessary preventive steps to best protect your home from the common causes of fire.  If you find yourself in need of disaster restoration services, you can contact us 24/7/365.


This is an updated blog from April 17th, 2018.

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