Archive for June, 2015

Getting Ready for Summer Grilling

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Outdoor grilling is a time-honored tradition enjoyed by families across America. However, grilling can cause damage to your home if your grill is not properly maintained or placed. An estimated 8,800 home fires are caused by outdoor grills each year, with the majority of incidents occurring between May and August. Knowing how to prepare your grill for a summer of safe, delicious meals can help you prevent a home fire that could cause injuries or result in fire damage to your property.

Placing Your Grill

The placement of your grill plays an important role in its safe use. Never use an outdoor grill inside your home, your garage, or inside a trailer or tent, regardless of whether the grill is gas-, wood-, or charcoal-burning. When choosing the perfect place for your grill, select an area that is well ventilated and stable—all of your grill’s legs or wheels should be firmly on the ground or deck to prevent tipping. Avoid placing your grill beneath areas with overhangs, as these can accumulate smoke and soot damage and trap hot smoke and cinders near your home. If you’ll be grilling on your deck or in your yard, consider using a grill mat to catch grease, cinders, and other debris; grill mats are flame resistant and can withstand high heat, preventing the ground or decking underneath your grill from catching on fire. Even if you’ll be grilling on a patio or paved walkway, a grill mat can still protect this area from unsightly stains.

Preparing Your Grill

Allowing dirt and debris to accumulate on your grill not only affects the taste of your food, it can also increase the risk of a fire. Disrepair can similarly affect the function and safety of your grill, making simple maintenance a must to prevent fire and other accidents. When you first pull your grill out for use in the spring and summer, give it a good once-over. If you have a gas grill, you should clean the tank (including the valve) and inspect the gas line for leaks before cooking. Even if the gas line appears intact, if it looks worn in any way, you’re better off replacing it before you enjoy your first grilled meal. You should also wipe down your burners with a damp microfiber cloth and clean any grates or racks with a stainless steel brush. Your charcoal grill’s racks can be cleaned the same way; also pay attention to the inside of the grill’s lid and bowl to remove carbonized grease with warm, soapy water and a stainless steel brush. Don’t forget to clean the outside of your grill using an appropriate cleaner and a microfiber cloth to avoid scratches—not only will this remove any additional grease, dirt, and debris for a safer grilling experience, it will keep your grill looking its best for years to come as well.

Fire and smoke damage should always be addressed professionally so you can enjoy a clean, healthy home once more. You can find out more about fire restoration and fire cleanup in Wilmington when you visit our website to check out our full range of fire, water, and storm damage cleanup services. We also invite you to read through our blog, where you’ll discover more helpful information about protecting your home and your family through preventive practices and quick action when the unexpected does occur.

Keeping Your Air Conditioner’s Drain Line Clear

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Air conditioning systems create moisture runoff as they remove heat and humidity from the air. In the case of central air conditioning, this runoff is funneled through a drain line to the exterior of your home. However, like any plumbing drain, this line is vulnerable to clogs. When clogs form, excess moisture can accumulate inside your air conditioner or in the area surrounding it, causing water damage to the appliance and your home. Standing water caused by moisture accumulation can also lead to mold growth, especially during the warm, humid months of the summer. Keeping your air conditioner’s drain line clear of dirt, debris, and mold will prevent water damage and the need for water restoration due to drain line clogs.

Change Your Furnace Filter Regularly

Your furnace filter screens out airborne particles, such as dust, pollen, and animal dander, every time air is drawn into your HVAC system. By screening out these particles, your filter prevents them from reaching the interior of your air conditioner, which also includes its drain and drain line. If you don’t use a furnace filter or leave your old filter in place long past its functional lifetime, your air conditioner becomes susceptible to greater dirt and dust buildup, which can in turn lead to clogs in its drain line. You should always use a furnace filter, regardless of the season, and replace your filter with a new one every 30-90 days.

Check the Exterior Drain

Many homeowners aren’t even aware that central air conditioners typically have a condensate drain port on the exterior of their home. However, this drain port must be cleaned regularly to prevent clogs that could cause water backup into your air conditioner and its surroundings. Most air conditioner drain lines exit the home near your air conditioner’s exterior condenser, so check this area for a pipe or drain. Inspect the drain every few weeks to ensure it is clear and make sure all foliage around the drain is trimmed back to allow water to leave the drain pipe unhindered. Once or twice a cooling season, use a wet/dry vacuum to clear any forming clogs by attaching the end of the hose to the drain port and wrapping a cloth around the connection several times. Simply hold the cloth and hose in place and turn on the vacuum for a few seconds to remove any debris, mold, or forming clogs from the pipe.

Clean Out the Drain Pipe

Mold growth is a common cause of A/C drain line clogs—because your drain line is constantly wet and warm, mold can grow quickly throughout the pipe. You can easily clean out your drain pipe by pouring a cup of bleach into the drain’s access port, which is located near the indoor condenser. If you can’t find an access port, ask your HVAC technician about its location during your next tune-up. Cleaning out the drain pipe with bleach once in the early spring will not only kill any forming mold, it will break the mold down as well to prevent clog formation.

If you’ve experienced water damage or mold growth due to a clogged A/C drain line, professional water cleanup and mold mitigation will prevent this problem from affecting the appearance and integrity of your home. You can find out more about our comprehensive water and mold restoration services in Wilmington when you click through our website, or take a look at our blog for additional tips to prevent damage to your home or take charge of disasters quickly to minimize their effects.