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Furnace and Boiler Puffbacks in Macomb County

1/8/2018 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Furnace and Boiler Puffbacks in Macomb County Furnace and Boiler Puffback in Macomb County.

The following article on “Furnace and Boiler Puffbacks”, written by Matt Livingston of HVAC Investigators, originally appeared in the Technical Notebook Column of Claims Magazine and was also published on Property Casualty 360

As the weather gets colder and homeowners start up their heating systems for the first time in months, insurance carriers see an influx of claims for the failure of furnaces and boilers. One frequent issue that can be both messy and potentially dangerous is a phenomenon known as a “puffback.”

A puffback is a release of smoke or soot that occurs when a boiler or furnace misfires. It is important that adjusters and insurance carriers understand what a puffback is and what causes one to occur. Not only are they expensive (and occasionally dangerous), but they are often caused by a non-covered cause of loss.

What is a puffback?

A puffback occurs when a furnace or boiler does not ignite properly and allows oil or gas vapors to build up within the ignition/combustion chamber. When it does finally ignite, the excess fuel in the chamber causes this puffback scenario. The result can be anywhere from a small amount of smoke to a minor explosion, depending on how much fuel has accumulated in the chamber.

Puffbacks can occur in both oil and gas furnaces and boilers, but are much more common in oil-fired equipment. Oil furnaces and boilers require more maintenance than their gas-fired counterparts, presenting more opportunities for the ignition process to be hindered if the system is not properly maintained. Additionally, oil is less likely than gas to dissipate, leading to larger average explosions. Forced air, oil-fired heating system puffbacks tend to be the messiest, as oil creates more soot than gas, and the ductwork for the forced air system can spread that soot to every room in the home.

What causes a puffback?

Regardless of fuel type, furnaces and boilers should have annual system maintenance. Puffbacks generally occur due to a lack of this routine maintenance or because of age-related wear and tear. Specific causes can include:

  • A leak at or near the combustion chamber can allow the fuel to build up in the combustion chamber and can cause a puffback to occur upon ignition.
  • A clogged exhaust or chimney that is obstructed by dirt, dust, fuel residue, rust or corrosion could prevent combustion gases from properly venting out of the furnace. This can cause an internal pressure irregularity that can eventually lead to a puffback, due to an incorrect ratio of fuel to air.
  • A cracked heat exchanger (similar to a clogged exhaust or chimney) prevents the combustion gases from properly venting out the furnace and results in an internal pressure irregularity that can cause a flame roll out. The resulting improper combustion process allows excess fuel to enter the ignition chamber and potentially lead to a puffback when ignition occurs.
  • Manually resetting the system too often when it fails to ignite may cause unburned fuel to accumulate in the chamber and can lead to a puffback once ignition finally occurs.
  • A damaged oil fuel nozzle, such as one that is clogged or cracked, may cause the oil to spray unevenly and result in insufficient fuel for the burners to ignite. The nozzle will continue to attempt to spray and allow excess oil to enter the burner over time. When the oil eventually ignites, a puffback can occur.
  • A clogged burner full of dirt, dust, fuel residue, rust or corrosion can cause a misfire and allow excess fuel to build up in the combustion chamber. This may eventually lead to a puffback when the fuel at last ignites.

How do you diagnose the cause of a puffback?

Following a puffback event, it is often not recommended to turn the system on and perform full diagnostic testing, as this can be both dangerous and messy. There are, however, other ways for HVAC professionals to detect if a puffback has occurred and what the chief contributor to the problem might have been. These diagnostic steps include:

  1. Check for fuel leaks in and around the combustion chamber. Visible signs of leaking oil are a strong sign that a puffback has occurred, and that the leak and/or air in the oil line were the primary culprits.
  2. Check the exhaust/flue for clogs. Blockage in the heating system exhaust could impact the fuel-to-air ratio and prevent fumes from safely venting. If observed during the post-puffback investigation, this blockage is a likely contributor to the problem.
  3. Perform a “candle check” of the heat exchanger. Holding a lit flame near the heat exchanger while the blower is on will provide a visual indication that a crack is present, and will thus provide a likely puffback cause.
  4. Inspect the oil nozzle and burner assembly for damage, checking to see if this condition caused the puffback. However, depending on the severity of the puffback incident, the fuel nozzle and burners themselves may have been damaged, limiting the ability to definitively diagnose the puffback cause using this method.

You should also follow up with a mitigation company that can test throughout your house to verify the extent of the damage and if an insurance claim needs to be filed.  You can set up your free appointment with our professionals today at SERVPRO of St. Clair Shores at (586) 741-5050. 

Frozen Sump Pump Discharge Lines St Clair Shores

1/8/2018 (Permalink)

Water Damage Frozen Sump Pump Discharge Lines St Clair Shores Pipe Break Cleanup in St. Clair Shores

At SERVPRO of St. Clair Shores it seems like we have seen it all. Most homeowners think if they have a back up sump pump for their sump pump they WILL be ok, and it won't flood. But what most people do not think about with these temperatures is, what if your Sump pump discharge line freezes? Can your basement still flood? Just ask the customer we worked for this weekend who woke up to 4" of water in his fully finished beautiful basement. This is exactly what happened to him. His discharge line outside became frozen solid and the water eventually destroyed the fern-co fitting inside his house and the pump continued to pump all of the water directly up and back into the house making a nice waterfall attraction, something that might be nice to look at, but definitely not in your basement.

Depending on how great your backup system is designed, the discharge line of a sump pump system can be a major weak point in a sump pump system. When a sump pump system is improperly designed, it becomes vulnerable to clogs in the system, including clogs related to frozen discharge lines.

As a discharge line begins to clog, a sump pump system will be forced to work harder to keep up, leading to overheating and sometimes pump failure. And if the system clogs or fails entirely, then your basement will flood. There are a number of problems that a clog can result in but none of them will result well for your basement. This is the perfect time to check on all system parts in your backup system including going outside to check the discharge. If you experience a problem and your basement floods, you know who to call. We are the leaders in flood and fire cleanup and restoration and our crews are on standby 24 hours a day to help you out of any kind of disaster. Call SERVPRO of St. Clair Shores at (586) 741-5050.

Pipe Break Cleanup in St. Clair Shores, Michigan

1/8/2018 (Permalink)

Water Damage Pipe Break Cleanup in St. Clair Shores, Michigan  Pipe Break Cleanup in St. Clair Shores
Burst Pipe Cleanup Timeline Burst pipe cleanup will generally will depend on these four important factors: 

Type of Water

Whether the water in the burst pipe is clean or dirty will determine the flood damage classification and type of repairs and restoration required.

SERVPRO of St. Clair Shores professionals can help you from filing the claim, throughout the cleanup process to the repairs.  We can help you sort what can be salvaged and what cannot be saved. 

Extent of Damage

The amount of damage to building structures, materials and personal items will determine costs and the length of time to restore your home.

Our professionals at SERVPRO can give you these estimated times upon beginning the project.  Once the dry out is complete, the time frame for repairs can be established. 

Length of Time

Flood damage from clean water within 48-72 hours will have a lower classification than floods from pipes containing dirty water.

If you are unsure of the source of loss, call SERVPRO of St. Clair Shores.  We can help you figure out the source of loss, and help you stop it immediately until repairs can begin. 

Probability of Mold Damage

The presence of visible mold, musty odor, or other signs of long term water damage will classify the damage as more extensive and likely to require mold remediation.

This is the most important reason to act quickly.  When you notice a problem, you will want to call us out immediately.  We can help you file the claim and begin mitigation immediately to prevent any further issues from arising.  Save our phone number in your phone.  You never know when you may need us!  We are available 24/7 for your emergency needs.  SERVPRO of St. Clair Shores (586) 741-5050.

Space Heater Fire Damage in St. Clair Shores

1/8/2018 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Space Heater Fire Damage in St. Clair Shores Fire damage in St. Clair Shores Cleanup

Space Heaters And Fire Damage

Most of the U.S. is experiencing much colder than normal temperatures right now. In Michigan, we are gearing up for outdoor winter activities, like ice skating, skiing, sledding and snow mobile rides with all of the snow we keep getting.  To stay snuggly warm indoors, many homes will be investing in space heaters. Did you know that space heaters, if not properly used, is the leading cause of residential and commercial fires? The National Fire Protection Association reports that one-third of all house fires happen during the cold months between December and February.

Fires can occur by space heaters without the proper safety features. The devastating results of a fire damage in St. Clair Shores can make a family homeless and close down a commercial establishment. However, when used correctly, space heaters can be safe to use. The safety features and tips to stay safe in using electric space heaters, are:

• Space heater should be placed on a flat, solid surface
• Use a heater with an automatic shut-off features.
• Use a three-foot space zone around space heaters.
• Supervise children and pets around space heaters that are on.
• Never leave a space heater on when absent or asleep.

Space heaters help to give warmth during those cold, chilly days. Just play it safe and keep an eye on them, don't leave them alone. As comfortable as they are to use in the winter, they can easily destroy a home or an office building. If a fire breaks out, dial 911 first, then call SERVPRO for complete restoration treatments. Immediate action is crucial when dealing with water, fire and mold damage. We’re dedicated to responding quickly when you need help. A fast response helps lessen damages and quick action also limits any secondary damage, and reduces cost.

SERVPRO of St. Clair Shores does not apply blame to how a fire starts; we just do all we can to make you whole again. We specialize in fire and water restoration. Our advanced training, experience, and specialized equipment in restoration techniques, can quickly restore your property. Call us when you need the best in fire damage recovery, we are available 24-hours a day - (586) 741-5050.

Pipe Burst Cleanup in Macomb County

1/8/2018 (Permalink)

Water Damage Pipe Burst Cleanup in Macomb County Pipe Burst Cleanup in Macomb County

What You Should Know About Broken Pipes and Pipe Burst Cleanup

Coming home to find yourself ankle deep in flood water from a burst pipe is an experience no one ever wants to have. But in reality, it’s a relatively common problem with the plumbing and seldom occurs at a convenient time. When the pipe that bursts is in a location where it’s easy to find – like under your kitchen or bathroom sink – this is actually a better problem to have; that is, when you find it right away and can call a plumber and SERVPRO of St. Clair Shores to perform immediate burst pipe cleanup services. Extracting this water within 48-72 hours, drying and dehumidifying building structures, cabinets, affected furnishings, and personal items may save thousands of dollars in expenses and allow you to stay in your home during repairs and restoration.

But what happens when you have a burst pipe hidden from view? How do you know about it and what should you do?

Signs of a Leaking or Burst Pipe

  • Pooling of water or water damage to areas of the wall, ceiling, or floor.
  • Hissing sound of water running when the plumbing is not in use.
  • Pressure in pipes is not consistent when using a pressure gauge attached to your plumbing when the water supply is shut off.
  • Your ceiling is bulging.
  • There is a visible split in a portion of a pipe.
  • You receive an enormous water bill and have not recently filled a new swimming pool.

At SERVPRO of St. Clair Shores we have on call crews that are available 24/7 for your emergency needs. If disaster strikes, strike back by calling SERVPRO of St. Clair Shores. Your Cleanup and Restoration Specialist at (586) 741-5050.

Christmas Tree Safety Tips

11/29/2017 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Christmas Tree Safety Tips Be Safe This Christmas!

10 Christmas Tree Safety Tips by Robert Siciliano

We want you to have a safe holiday season. Did you know that Christmas trees can kill? Not by falling on you, but by burning down your house. Between 2006 and 2010, about 230 home fires per year were responded to by U.S. fire departments, killing an average of four people each year and injuring many more.

Though not common, Christmas tree fires usually cause serious and costly damage. Eighteen percent of these fires were caused by a heat source too close to the tree. Improper disposal of the tree is also implicated as a cause. Here are tips to prevent this very preventable type of residential fire.

  1. Choose fresh over cheap and dry. The fresher the tree, the less likely it will pose a fire hazard. Look for flexible needles that don’t break, and a trunk with sap. 
  2. Keep the water coming. The tree stand should contain a continuous source of water and be sturdy enough to resist toppling by kids or pets.
  3. Don’t choke the cord. Attach only three maximum strings of lights to any one extension cord, then place cords along walls to prevent a tripping hazard. Never run them under rugs or carpets.
  4. Trees don’t need warmth. Keep the tree away from heat sources such as fireplaces, candles and even a TV.
  5. Not any lights will do. Use low energy, safe lighting that’s been certified by a safety testing lab. Don’t use damaged or frayed cords.
  6. Shut the lights. Never leave the lights on overnight. Same goes for any appliances not in use when you are home or away.
  7. Don’t keep a dry tree around. Dispose of it at this point properly. Don’t even keep it in the garage.
  8. Artificial tree safety awareness. Artificial trees should be flame resistant and have a seal for an approved safety testing laboratory if the tree contains a built-in lighting set.
  9. Death by artificial tree. If the tree is metal, never use electric lights, as they can charge the tree and lead to electrocution.
  10. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Make sure everyone knows its location and how to use it.

Remember SERVPRO of St. Clair Shores is always Here to Help @ 586-741-5050. Save our phone number in your phone so that you can be Hero Ready if disaster strikes your home or business.

21 Priceless Ways to Spread a Smile This Holiday Season

11/29/2017 (Permalink)

21 Priceless Ways to Spread a Smile This Holiday Season by Diane MacEachern-Women’s Day

Here's a list of ways to put your own special stamp on the gifts you give this holiday season. In most cases, they involve spending very little money or time at the mall. But they're so creative and considerate, they're guaranteed to make your loved one’s smile. And isn't that the point?

  • Check their smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors, and replace if necessary.

Fire safety is of the utmost importance during the Christmas season and all year round!

  • Download the First Aid App and the SERVPRO App. The American Red Cross has a great app that provides essential information needed to handle common first aid situations. also has an App that you can use in case of emergencies. This stores all emergency numbers you may need – including your insurance company, police/fire dept. and the SERVPRO Professionals. Shovel their snow (or water their garden).

If you live in a region that gets a lot of snow, offering to shovel for someone else could be a godsend, especially if they're incapacitated or too busy with kids and work to squeeze in shoveling time, too. If you're in a warm, dry climate, pitch in by watering porch plants or the garden, especially when someone goes on vacation or has to go out of town on business or for an emergency.

  • Offer to watch kids so their parents can get a much-needed afternoon or evening out.
  • Feed their cat (or walk their dog).

Most pet owners need at least occasional help with their animals, especially when they can't be home for long stretches of time during the holiday.

  • Make them a meal.

Cook up a stew or casserole that can be frozen for a future dinner, or provide a "coupon" that can be redeemed when an emergency arises.

  • Bake them a cake.

Is anything more fun than getting a delicious cake made especially for you?

  • Give them an amaryllis bulb, already potted.

Amaryllis bulbs are wonderful because they start growing as soon as they're watered and within 6 weeks produce a gloriously big and beautiful flower. But don't just give someone the kit the bulb comes in. Actually, pot it in the dirt for them and wrap a sweet little bow around the pot. All they'll have to do is put it in a sunny window and water it once a week.

  • Help them wrap presents.

It can be almost as time consuming to wrap holiday presents as to buy them. Why not lend a hand?

  • Sharpen their knives.

Dull knives are the bane of every cook's existence. Use a sharpening stone to sharpen them yourself, or pick them up and take them to the local hardware store to get a better edge on them.

  • Knit them a scarf.

Find out their favorite colors, then buy a few skeins of yarn that combine them. If you're just learning to knit, you can still make a beautiful scarf knitting one row and purling the next.

  • Curate their closet.

Help your friends clear out their closets by helping her decide what's worth keeping and what should be donated. Hint: If they haven't worn something for at least two years, they probably won't wear it in the future. Take the discarded clothes to a local thrift store or make arrangements with Purple Heart or Salvation Army for a pick-up.

  • Put things they don't want on eBay, Craigslist or Freecycle.

From hiking boots, sports equipment and instruments to paintings, tools, and furniture, most people have a lot of stuff lying around. They might want to sell it online but don't know the first thing about how to do that successfully. Why not help them out?

  • Compile a one-of-kind mix CD.

Who are their top 10 favorite musical acts or musicians? Pull together two songs or performances from each one for 20 "greatest hits." Or, make a mix of music you've listened to together over time. A special mix for an upcoming road trip would be fun, too.

  • Detail their car.

Lots of people drive their car through the car wash but don't take the time to wipe up the frame, vacuum out the interior and trunk, or wash the inside windows. Give the gift of a clean car inside and out!

  • Change their lightbulbs.

This is a two-fer: one for your friend or family member, and one for the planet. Get a package of energy-saving LEDs and change out the bulbs in the most frequently used lights in the house, usually the kitchen, bathroom, living room, bedroom and porch.

  • Recycle their electronics.

Most people have a lot of old electronic gear just cluttering up their basement, attic, or home office. Pick it up for them, wipe the hard drives, and take it to the nearest e-waste center, which you can find on Best Buy and Staples accept used gear as well. Mobile phones can usually be recycled at phone stores, or traded in at

  • Contribute to their favorite charity...

What cause is near and dear to your loved one's heart? Make a donation on their behalf. If they care about a cause but don't know which organization to support, get some 4-star recommendations from Charity Navigator.

  • Volunteer for their favorite charity.

Many organizations need volunteers as well as donations. Can you help your loved one staff a pet adoption day, run a toy or coat drive, hand out water at a fundraising race, deliver Meals on Wheels, or visit people in a nursing home? You can find more volunteer opportunities at

  • Frame a meaningful picture.

It could be a photo of you and them together, an image of one of their accomplishments, or some shots of a place you visited together that will bring back fond memories.

  • Record their oral history.

Listen to some of the wonderful oral histories available online at for a sense of the kind of story your loved one might want to tell. has put together a very helpful step-by-step guide to help come up with questions, record interviews, and edit the recording to be as long and in-depth as you'd like.

The entire team at SERVPRO of St Clair Shores would like to wish you and your loved ones Happy Holidays. May you be safe and joyful during the holiday season. We are always on standby Hero Ready for your emergencies at (586) 741-5050.

Do you know what an Ice Dam is?

11/29/2017 (Permalink)

What are Roof Ice Dams in Michigan

A roof ice dam is basically a ridge of ice that will form at the edge of your roof. This ridge of ice will prevent any melting snow from draining off of your roof. This is very dangerous because any water that backs up due to the ice dam can leak into your home. This will cause damage to your home because the leaks will damage the ceilings, walls, and floors. It can also cause damage to your insulation.  If gone unsolved you could in return have major problems with mold growth or denial of insurance claim coverage.  It is important that you prevent further damages to your home or business immediately!!  Our expert at SERVPRO of St. Clair Shores can help you from removing the ice dam to helping you file an insurance claim to the dry out and restoration of your property.  Give us a call at 586-741-5050 if you need help this Winter! 

What to do I do if I have an Ice Dam in Michigan this Winter

11/29/2017 (Permalink)

Water Damage What to do I do if I have an Ice Dam in Michigan this Winter Ice Dam Removal in Macomb, Michigan

What to do I do if I have an Ice Dam in Michigan this Winter?

If you have a roof ice dam in Michigan, the best thing you can do is call a professional. Climbing the ladder to get on your roof is very dangerous with all the ice and snow we have in Michigan. In a blink of an eye, you could slip on the ladder and injure yourself very badly. So, you definitely need to call a professional to come out and take care of the situation for you. SERVPRO of St. Clair Shores experienced employees are well equipped to handle this situation for you. They have all of the tools, chemicals, knowledge and experience needed to remove the ice dam and to do it safely.

With the type of weather we experience in Michigan during the winter, sometimes ice dams can’t be avoided, even if you do all the things you can to prevent it. The quicker you get the situation taken care of, the better off you will be. From filing an insurance claim or drying out your structure in the affected areas SERVPRO of St. Clair Shores can help you. Call our office to schedule an appointment at (586) 741-5050. We have experts available 24/7 to help you through any situation.

Prevent Ice Dams This Winter!

11/28/2017 (Permalink)

Water Damage Prevent Ice Dams This Winter! Don't let this happen to your house!

Ice Dams by


Ice dams usually occur after a heavy snowfall and several days of freezing temperatures. Warm air inside your home leaks into the attic and will warm the underside of the roof causing snow and ice on the roof to melt. The melted water will drain along the roof, under the snow, until it reaches the cold overhang. The overhang tends to be at the same temperature as the outdoors and the melted water will refreeze and form an ice dam and icicles. The ice dam can cause damage to the roof, which will result in water leaks to the inside. Frequently the result will be a water spot on the ceiling under the roof damage.

Prescription Checklist

  • Don’t get on your roof to solve this problem, it could be dangerous.
  • Avoid standing on the ground and “chipping away” at the ice. Not only could this cause damage to your roof, but you can be seriously injured by falling ice, debris, or tools.
  • Contacting a roofing contractor to fix your roof leak will not prevent future ice dams.
  • Seal air leaks in your attic to stop warm air leakage (the source of the problem).
  • After sealing leaks, add additional insulation in your attic.
  • Provide adequate attic ventilation so that the underside of the roof and outside air are at the same temperature.
  • Check to make sure attic insulation is not blocking roof ventilation.
  • Clean leaves and other debris from gutters before the first snow. This will help prevent ice build-up in gutters.

Take the necessary measures to protect yourself and your home from water damage and costly repairs. It is important to know who to call if you ever have a problem! Save our phone number at (586) 741-5050. We are always Here to Help – 24/7 our experts are standing by.