Protect Your House from Winter Water Damage

Winter is still here and it can still inflict water damage on your home. Fluctuating temperatures, heavy snowfalls, that dreaded wintry mix, or plummeting temperatures can affect your house disastrously. However, there are ways to protect your house from these inclement threats. If you live in an area that experiences cold winters and winter conditions, you need to protect your home. Here are some tips on how to prepare your home to withstand some of the most common winter water damage threats.

Ice Dams

Ice dams can form on your roof and can flood your home from the upstairs down. They can cause damage to your walls, ceilings, and insulation. An ice dam is a sheet of ice that covers the gutters on your roof. It forms by melting snow moving from a warm portion of your roof to a cold portion, refreezing the melt off. The refreeze can block the gutters, stopping more melting snow, sleet, and water on your roof from reaching your gutters. This runoff will need somewhere to go and can find its way into your home via your attic and walls. To prevent ice dams from forming, make your ceilings airtight so that no warm moist air can travel up to the roof through the attic.

Burst Pipes

Poorly or noninsulated pipes are vulnerable in the winter months. Especially if any of these vulnerable pipes are exposed to outside temperatures, you are practically asking for one to freeze and burst. Once a pipe bursts, all the water running through it will fill the area that it is falling into. It is important to properly insulate all of your piping. This will mean different things depending on where you live. Make sure the pipe insulating you use is appropriate for how cold it gets where you live.


Both ice dams and burst pipes can cause winter flooding. However, there are other wintry flooding risks. If you live in an area where the temperature fluctuates and heavy rains can land on frozen ground, you are at a risk of flooding. Water will try and find a place to move and if the ground isn’t an option it will find other places. Ensure that your home isn’t the place it comes to rest. Make sure your foundation is well sealed. In the same way, prepare the house for cold temperatures by making the ceilings airtight and any vulnerable piping or ductwork is properly insulated. Flooding can happen unexpectedly, so make sure your house is ready to combat it.

The winter months are challenging for houses. The desire is to have a warm and cozy haven from the outdoor elements. Water damage can be a stealthy foe trying to take that haven away. The best way to keep that haven safe and water damage free is to prepare. However, if the winter elements hit your home unexpectedly and you do experience water damage, we are here to help. American Fire & Water Restoration will help make your home a wintry haven all over again. Give us a call, (847) 514-9305.

Why Not to Clean Water Damage up Yourself

There is no such thing as a small disaster. A mop and common cleaning products are not enough when it comes to water damage. When water damage occurs, it can contain unseen bacteria, cause mold, and create other damages. In any situation involving water, time is everything. The problem is that cleaning the water up thoroughly and recovering from the damage isn’t as straightforward as it seems. Below are some reasons why you should not clean water damage yourself.

Water Damage Will Get Worse

When water damages your property, cleanup must start immediately. There is a 24- to 48-hour window from the time something gets wet to the time mold begins to grow. After that time, mold will multiply rapidly. When mold growth is widespread, you need the services of a professional mold remediation service to safely treat and remove the water and mold.

Get your property completely dry with a company that specializes in water damage restoration and emergency water extraction. At American Fire and Water Restoration, we use professional water removal equipment and drying equipment to complete the job as quickly as possible.

Professionals Have the Right Equipment

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that cleanup is over just because you don’t see any more water. The most critical part of the remediation process is drying out the area completely. Hidden water can be trapped inside the structure and may only be found with moisture detection equipment, so it’s important to have commercial dehumidifiers and fans to dry out the water fast enough to reduce the risk of water damage.

You May Overlook Details

In your effort to clean up the water damage as quickly as possible, don’t make the mistake of overlooking important details. It’s important to know which doors and drawers you should keep open or closed, how to remove carpet padding, and how to keep furniture safe. Also make sure that you’ve checked every place where the damage may have occurred. Moisture can hide in drywall and subflooring that you may not be aware of. This may only be detectable by special equipment.

DIY water damage cleanup is challenging, so it’s better to hire a professional to ensure all damage is gone. At American Fire and Water Restoration, we have the right tools, training, and experience to complete the job quickly, efficiently, and safely. Call us at 847-514-9305 or visit us online at

Restoration of Flooring After a Flood Disaster

Successful restoration of flooring depends on factors such as response time, type of flooring, amount of moisture, and the degree of water damage already present. A common question asked is, “Can I dry hardwood floors after water damage?”  The only downfall to hardwood flooring is that in the event of a flood, you cannot easily take it out and dry it like carpet. Here are some of the main considerations you should make when considering calling a water damage restoration company to dry hardwood floor.

Response Time

According to the EPA, mold can grow in as little as 48 to 72 hours on almost all household materials if they have a moisture level of 16% or higher. Time is of the essence when it comes to hardwood floor water damage. The moisture, temperature, and dust layer beneath a wet wood floor can provide an ideal environment for mold and many other problems. You can greatly decrease the amount of water damage if you respond quickly.

Type of Wood Flooring

Before you can determine how to properly dry hardwood, you need to determine what type of wood flooring you have. The main types of hardwood floors are:

  • Strip Wood
  • Plank Wood
  • Engineered Wood
  • Laminate Wood

Amount of Moisture

Moisture affects all floor types differently. A flooded hardwood floor can have up to 40% moisture content and can retain well above the normal amount of moisture for weeks if left to dry on its own. Nails may begin to lift, glue may release causing separation between floor pieces, and tongue and groove floors often cup or buckle when moisture has been absorbed.

Degree of Water Damage

After severe water damage, it is likely that wood floors will have to be replaced. Wood is specifically susceptible to mold growth. Floors that cupped, popped, or cracked may be an indication that the sub-floor has experienced water damage as well. The sub-floor will also need to be replaced if this has occurred.


If your flooring can be restored, call American Fire and Water Restoration. We use special, sophisticated drying equipment that forces airflow beneath the surface of the floor, releasing moisture. One of our restoration specialists can thoroughly inspect damage to determine the right plan of action for your flooring.

Our Step-By-Step Contents Restoration

If a flood, fire, mold, wind, or ice have invaded your home, you’ll need content restoration. The damage left behind can be widespread and overwhelming. Once American Fire and Water Restoration’s quick response restoration team is on site, we can start the process of restoring your entire home. The damage doesn’t just affect walls, structure, or flooring; it affects your personal belongings as well. We know the things in your home are special and important to you. That is why we have a contents restoration process set in place. We will care for your belongings as if they’re our own. Here is our step-by-step contents restoration process.

Organize and Pack

The first thing we will do is look over all of the affected belongings and organize them. We take photos of all your belongings and where they go in your home. This is so we can return them to their proper place once restored. Then we inventory all of the contents to ensure that no piece is forgotten or misplaced. After this, your belongings will carefully be packed up and readied for travel.

Transport and Store

All belongings that are removed from your home will be taken to our secure storage location. This is where your items will wait to be cleaned and restored to their original condition. They will also be stored here while your home is being repaired and renovated. While your home is being repaired, you don’t want your belongings to be sitting around getting dirty. Our storage facility is perfect to ensure that everything is restored and clean before your belongings come home.

Restore and Return

We use state-of-the-art procedures to clean your belongings, depending on what type of damage they sustained. This is a personal item-by-item process in which your belongings are cared for like our own. We give your electronics, fur, books, paperwork, and fine art the specialized treatments they need. Once everything has been restored to its original condition and your home is ready, we bring your belongings home. With the help of our photos, we return all of your belongings to their rightful place. We take special care to make sure no damage is inflicted on your belongings or home during this last step.

When cleaning and restoring our customers’ belongings, we make sure to give every item personalized attention and care. We understand that these are more than just items; they are your personal belongings. We do everything from vacuuming, dry cleaning, wet cleaning, hand cleaning, deodorizing, degreasing, and polishing. And if any of your belongings need re-upholstering or refinishing, we can do that as well. We understand the stress that comes with a disaster hitting your home is overwhelming. That is why we are here to help you. American Fire and Water Restoration can be on site within 90 minutes of your call, 24/7. There is no need to give up on your belongings after a disaster. Give us a call at (847) 514-9305 and we’ll care for your belongings like they’re our own.

How to Prevent Mold

As gross as it sounds, mold is all around us. Mold plays an important role in the natural process of decay and is used to make products, from cheese to penicillin. If left untreated by water damage, however, mold can damage your home and your health. The key to mold prevention is moisture control. Here are some tips on how to avoid indoor moisture and the mold that thrives there.

  1. Know where mold grows and know your problem areas.

There is no way to mold-proof your entire home, but you can make it mold-resistant. If you know your problem areas, then you’ll know where moisture lingers. Basement flooding and frequent condensation on the windows are sure signs of excess moisture. Preventing mold from growing might mean replacing the carpet in a damp basement, installing mold-resistant products, or even repairing damaged gutters.

  1. Install proper ventilation to prevent moisture.

Everyday activities such as cooking, showering, and running the washing machine can invite mold into your home without proper ventilation. Always vent appliances that produce moisture such as bathrooms, stoves, and dryers, to the outside of the home. When possible, open a window when cooking, washing dishes, or showering to let moisture out. AC units and dehumidifiers also need to be checked and cleaned periodically.

  1. Improve the airflow in your home.

As temperatures drop, the air holds less moisture. Without good air flow, that extra moisture can show on your walls, windows, floors, and furniture. Increase airflow in your home by opening doors between rooms, opening doors to closets, and moving furniture away from walls.

  1. Use mold-resistant products.

Many companies make mold-resistant products like drywall and sheetrock, as well as mold inhibitors for paints. Mold-resistant drywall is paperless and excellent for rooms prone to moisture such as bathrooms, basements, kitchens, and laundry rooms. Mold-resistant gypsum board is also available. The core of the drywall is made to prevent moisture absorption to block mold growth.

  1. Dry wet areas immediately.

Without moisture, mold cannot grow. Water damage of any kind should be dried within 24 to 48 hours. Even everyday routines need attention, like leaving wet items lying around and wet walls after cooking or showering. Also, wet clothes in the washing machine can cause mold to spread quickly.

If It’s Too Late, Don’t Hesitate to Call

If the mold and mildew in your home are beyond prevention, call a professional restoration service. Don’t take a chance with the potential health risks that mold can cause you and your family. American Fire and Water Restoration is a full-service restoration company at the ready to handle your water damage and mold issues. Call 847-514-9305 today for a consultation.



What Happens When a Pipe Bursts

Pipes can burst and make a massive mess. Burst pipes can sometimes be difficult to prevent because many pipes are out of sight and can burst without anyone knowing. Pipes get old and crack, and cold weather can freeze pipes. If the potential of a pipe bursting worries you, it is time to take some precautions. Here are a few things that can happen when a pipe bursts.

Frozen Pipes

In the winter months, pipes bursting from freezing is a big concern. Poorly or non-insulated pipes are vulnerable in the winter months, especially if any of these pipes are exposed to outside temperatures. Once a pipe bursts, all the water running through it will fill the area that it is falling into. That unwanted water will cause damage. To keep the water in the pipes and moving it is important to properly insulate all of your piping. This will mean different things depending on where you live. Make sure the pipe insulating you use is appropriate for how cold it gets where you live.

Old Pipes

Older homes also run the risk of housing pipes that have passed their prime years. Old pipes are vulnerable to rust, cracks, and dysfunctional seals. All of these vulnerabilities can leave you with pipes bursting. The easiest way to avoid old pipes giving out is to maintain your pipes through proper insulation and replacing pipes that look like they might burst. Wear and tear will weaken pipes and the seals that connect them. In older homes, this is more likely. Being aware of the potential breakage and maintaining your pipes can prevent water damage.


Once a pipe has burst, flooding is inevitable. The water that is supposed to be running through the pipe to its proper destination will pour out into whatever area the burst took place. It will continue to fill the space until the water is turned off. This flooding can cause real damage to your home. Water damage can affect the structure of your home, flooring, walls, and personal belongings, and it can cause mold. Depending on how long the burst pipe goes undetected and where the flooding happens, the damage can be overwhelming. Once flooding has started, it is time to call in a professional restoration team to take care of the damage.

When pipes burst, there is no way around having water damage. It is important to call a quick response restoration team because the water could have damaged the structure of your home. Professionals also have the proper equipment and knowledge to deal with your flooding safely and efficiently. Of course, preventing a pipe from bursting is the best method of handling this problem but it isn’t always possible. For the times when a pipe isn’t prevented from bursting, American Fire and Water Restoration is here to help. We can be on site to help you with your burst pipe within 90 minutes. When a pipe bursts, give us a call at (847) 514-9305.

How to Prevent Kitchen Fires

There are a lot of things that go on in the kitchen, but fires don’t have to be one of them. Kitchens have all the ingredients for a fire to break out, however. There’s a supply of flame, grease, water, and electricity. With all of these elements present and in constant use in the kitchen, the best way to prevent kitchen fires is to be aware. Be aware of the potential risks while in the kitchen to protect your family and home. Here are three things to do in the kitchen to prevent kitchen fires.

Keep Your Eye on the Stove

First of all, try not to leave cooking food unattended. This can be difficult when multitasking, but it’s important. By leaving food unattended you run a higher risk of something boiling over, burning, or an object near the stove catching fire. Being conscious of what is going on in the kitchen will make for a safer kitchen. Burning food in ovens can be avoided. Things boiling over on the stove doesn’t need to happen. A haphazardly placed oven mitt or dish towel needn’t catch flame. Being watchful in the kitchen will make for a safer environment for you and your food.

Watch out for Grease and Oil

Grease and oil in the kitchen pose a constant risk of fire. Make sure you clean your kitchen, especially the stove, regularly to avoid grease build-up. Grease build-up on a stove only needs a stray flame to ignite. Regular grease removal will make your stove a much safer place to cook. Cooking with oil is also a cause of kitchen fire. While cooking with oil, in large and small amounts, be attentive. Make sure your oil doesn’t get too hot, that you use the correct amount in the right size pan, and keep water away! Using oil that is too hot or not using the right sized pan can ignite the oil from the below flame. If water comes into contact with hot oil, the oil will splatter. Oil splatter can cause serious burns and can make the stove catch fire.

Keep Electric Appliances Away from Water

Electricity and water are not friends. If you are using a hand mixer, blender, food processor, or any other kitchen appliance, make sure that the plug is dry and there is no splashing water near the outlet. Kitchens tend to have drier and wetter areas. Try to keep all of your electric appliances out of the wet areas. This will also keep them cleaner.

Not all kitchen fires can be prevented, but employing safer practices can prevent a lot. Being safe in the kitchen is important for your family and home. Keep your kitchen as safe as possible by improving your kitchen safety measures. Let it be a place your friends and family can gather safely for years to come. Be aware of the potential risks, address them, and then enjoy the good food that comes out of it. American Fire and Water Restoration is here to help when fires do break out. If you have had a kitchen fire, give us a call at (847) 514-9305.

What You Need to Know About Fire Damage

Fire damage and the aftermath of a fire can be devastating to you and your home. There can be all different types of damage. Water and fire retardants can seep into your belongings and walls. Smoke can permeate the space, soaking into the surfaces and leaving stains. Debris has the potential of being hazardous. As the smoke clears, here are some things that you should know going forward.

Water Damage

In the wake of a fire, you may not be thinking about water damage but it is there. The water and chemical agents used to put the fire out can leave lasting damage to your home and belongings as well. These liquids can seep into your furniture, flooring, rugs, drapes, structural components, and personal belongings. If not cleaned and sanitized properly, all affected items can be ruined. The chemicals used can also be dangerous if ingested or in regular contact with. So once the fire is out, make sure you are conscious of the damage water and other liquids can be inflicting on your home.

Smoke and Odor Removal

Depending on the type of fire, the smoke and odor left behind will be different. If not removed and cleaned properly, smoke and odor can permeate into your home. It can soak into the walls, furniture, carpets, and personal belongings. This can leave stains along with residual odor. Smoke is hard to get rid of and can be an unpleasant reminder of the fire. Health concerns also have to be considered when continually breathing in smoke. It is for these and other reasons that it’s important for you to ensure that the smoke and odor are completely removed from your home after a fire.

Call a Professional

There is so much to do in the wake of a fire. There are calls to be made, insurance claims to file, living arrangements to be organized, and countless other things. You want your home and belongings to get the best care and to be restored as quickly as possible. The best thing to do in this situation is to call in the professionals. A quick response restoration team can be on site before you know it, accessing damage and causes, creating restoration plans, and getting to work. The professionals have a better understanding of what needs to be done. It will also give you more time to focus on the other tasks needing to be done.

Fires happen when you least expect them and the damage they leave is overwhelming. There are countless things to do and think about in the wake of a fire. However, how you are going to get your house back to normal and who is going to do the work don’t have to be questioned. Give us at American Fire and Water Restoration a call at (847) 514-9305. Our quick response restoration will be on site within 90 minutes 24/7. We can help you remove the fire damage and restore your home to what it was before the fire.

 Signs of a Sewer Line Problem

A sewer line problem is not one you want to have in your home. However, how do you know if your system is progressing towards a problem or already has one? There are many signs of there being sewer line problems. Here are a few of the signs that you can be looking out for. As always, it is better to be watchful and catch the problem before it gets too bad.


Sewage Backups and Blockages


If your toilets, sinks, and other drains regularly backup that is a sign that the system is not working correctly. The water and debris should be able to move through the line smoothly. If there is a build up in the system backups and blockages will occur. This is an easy way to spot signs of a bigger problem, and one that shouldn’t be ignored.


Sewer Gas Smell


Being able to smell sewer in and around your house is a sure sign that there is a problem. Sewer systems are built to be airtight and to move downhill, so if you’re able to smell sewage that is a problem. There is most likely a crack somewhere in your sewer system if you can smell sewage. Not only is the smell unpleasant enough to get you to call help but you don’t want to crack to get bigger!


Extra Green Grass Patches


You may be wondering why certain patches of your grass are suddenly greener and lusher. Sewage is a great fertilizer. Sewage leaks under your yard can create extra lush and green grass on the surface. Though the extra fertilization may be welcome to the appearance of the lawn the leaking sewage won’t be if it starts building up or pooling. So if you haven’t been fertilizing or water your lawn extra but it continues to get greener and lusher take that as a sign something else is fertilizing it.


Slow Drainage


This is a complaint many women with long hair have. However, if the sinks, drains, and toilets continue to drain slowly after multiple attempts to clean the line there could be a bigger problem. A blockage could be forming somewhere in the line. Issues such as root growth, channeling, and cracks can lead to slow draining lines. If your drains consistently drain slowly it is time to look into further problems as this is only a symptom.


The signs of a problem in your sewer line are definitely noticeable. The key is to not ignore them once you start seeing them. If one or more of these symptoms is happening regularly it is time to take action and call in the professionals before it gets worse. Give American Fire and Water Restoration a call, we’ll help you identify fix your sewer line problem. Sewage is not something you should ignore. Call us, (847) 514-9305. We’ll do the dirty work.

What You Should Know About Ice Dams

The winter months can wreak havoc on your house. Cold, wind, snow, ice, salt, sleet, all of these elements are unkind to the place you call home. Once combined these elements become even worse for your home. The wintery mix that builds up on your roof can cause a great deal of damage to your home if they aren’t able to run off your roof. Ice dams on your roof can damage ceilings, insulation, and walls.


What’s an Ice Dam


An ice dam is a sheet of ice that covers the gutters on your roof. Ice dams form from melting snow moving from a warm portion of your roof to a cold portion, refreezing the melt off. They block the gutters, inhibiting more melting snow, sleet, and water on your roof from reaching your gutters. As snow, sleet, water, and anything else up on your roof build up the dam will get bigger and the runoff will look for somewhere else to go. This runoff can find its way into your home via your attic and walls. Ice dams can cause damage to your walls, ceilings, and insulation.


How to Prevent Ice Dams


If there is snow on your roof try to remove it before ice dams can form. By removing the snow you will bypass the immediate risk of ice dams forming. However, if ice dams have already formed and the effects are already happening the best mode of action is to make channels in the dams for the melt off to travel through. You can do this by spraying the dams with warm water, working from the bottom to the top. However, this method is not a long-term solution and should only be used if there is an immediate need. On a permanent base, make your ceilings airtight so that no warm moist air can travel up to the roof through the attic. By adding extra insulation to your attic you will also cut down on the amount of heat that is lost from your home. As a bonus, this will also cut down on your heating and air conditioning.


Is Damage from Ice Dams Covered by Insurance?


Thankfully damage caused by ice dams is usually covered by your home insurance. However, in most cases, the responsibility of removing ice dams falls on the homeowner. As in most cases, preventing the damage is better than having to clean it up. Your insurance may cover the damage but you will have to be the one that directly deals with the dams and the aftermath. The best course of action is to prevent the ice dams from forming in the first place.


Ice dams are just another thing that makes the winter months hard on your home. They don’t have to affect your home though. If you take the necessary precautions you can not only prevent ice dams from forming but save on your heat and air conditioning. However, we don’t always know we need to take precautions. If you find water running in your home from your roof, American Fire and Water Restoration is here to help. Give us a call, (847) 514-9305.