Understanding Volts, Amperage and Watts to Prevent Electrical Fires
Each year SERVPRO franchises are called in to clean up the aftermath of commercial and residential fires and like the corporate model, we do all we can to, make it "Like it never even happened." Fire damage can have far more ominous and long lasting effect than the water damage restoration services we provide. In addition to structural damage to the property, environmental toxins releases in the air by burning objects, fires sometimes do take lives.
- Electrical Fires in the United States cause $1.3 billion dollars in property damage, 51,000 fires and 500 deaths annually.
- The US Consumer Product Safety Commission claims faulty electrical receptacles as the cause of 5,300 fires annually.
- Electrical Arching, discharge or jump of current on an unintended path to a grounded object, as the cause of 28,000 fires and $700 million dollars in damage annually.
Fire Prevention, beginning with educational awareness and exposure is critical in saving lives and reducing the annual cost of property losses. Understanding the practical relationship of volts, amperage and watts to daily living is essential in preventing and reducing electrical fires.
Appliances and electrical devices are a part of everyday life that functions by plugging the cords into the outlets or receptacles and turning the devices on. How this works is often taken for granted. Being properly educated on the basics of electrical terminology and their practical functionality can save your life and property.
Homes have numerous wires running behind walls from a distribution panel and terminating at a receptacle, switch, or light fixture. Inside the electrical distribution box are circuit breakers or fuses. The circuit breakers or fuses are designed to detect current that exceeds the load capacity of the wire or circuit and to click off or blow to prevent a potential fire. Voltage, Amperage and Watts are the forms of measurement that appliances and electrical devices use; understanding the electrical current draw of each appliance and the load tolerance of each circuit in your home will prevent an overloaded circuit and minimize the risk of a fire.
- Voltage or Volts is an electrical measurement of line pressure. The power or current from the power plant feeds into the home at either 120V or 240V. Most receptacles and household appliances and electronic devices run on 120V. The 240V are reserved for the water heater, dryer and stove.
- Amperage or Amps is a measurement of current flow or pull of current by an appliance or electrical device. Most household wiring or circuits are set to not exceed 15 amps, with the exception of 20 amp circuits in the kitchen for the microwave, 50 amp circuits for the stove and 30 amp circuits for the clothes dryer. All appliances or electrical devices will have a small silver plate on them that tells the amperage or watts pulled by them.
- Watts is a load rating of current pull of electrical devices. Watts can be calculated by multiplying volts by amps. A 15 amp circuit is equivalent to 1800 watts and a 20 amp fuse is equivalent to 2400 watts running on 120V.
It is important to read the label on the back or underside of appliances to understand the current drawn. Too much current drawn through a line causes the wire to overheat and breaks down the insulation on the wire. This can cause faulty wiring that results in a fire. Overloading a circuit with too much current will either trip the breaker or blow the fuse to stop the current flow to minimize damage and prevent a fire. A great resource directory for household appliance wattage can be found at https://generatorist.com/power-consumption-of-household-appliances.
Load capacity on wiring is set to match its tolerance limits. Household wiring that is set for 15 amps is not designed to conduct loads higher than 15 amps. As a general practice it is best not to push the tolerance limits on a circuit. Never under any circumstance replace a circuit breaker or fuse with a one of higher capacity without rewiring the entire circuit for the equivalent tolerance and rating. Failing to do so will result in catastrophic line failure and fire.
- Also never use an extension cord rated less than the amperage or wattage pulled by the electrical device it will be plugged into.
- Replace any frayed cords on appliances or electrical devices.
- If you see sparks cut the power.
- Have an ABC rated fire extinguisher to put out a fire including a Class “C “electrical fire.
- Install and regularly check your smoke detectors.
- Never plug in an appliance or electrical device without knowing your line load.
- If you have experienced a fire and need remediation, call SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County at 919-596-1242
Oh No! Water Damage and My Hardwood Floor
One of the most common calls our franchise receives is from customers in distress over a water loss event impacting their hardwood flooring. The #1 question they have is, “Can my floors be saved?” It is a well-known fact that water causes significant damage to hardwood flooring. Wood is hydroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture from the air, and is subject to catastrophic damage if not dried quickly. Our customers have every right to be concerned, but the answer to the question as to whether the floors are salvageable is not a yes or no response, but depends on numerous variables that must be accessed by our ICRC certified technicians. These include:
- Category of water loss
- Class of water loss
- Amount of time flooring has been wet
- Type of hardwoods
Category of water loss simply defined relates to amount of contaminates in the water. A Category 1 water loss is indicative of clean water from a burst pipe. A Category 2 water loss contains significant levels of contaminates, such as an overflowed washing machine or dishwasher. A Category 3 water loss contains gross levels of contaminations including harmful pathogens and toxins and could be the result of sewage or a toilet back flow. A Category 1 water loss is the most likely category for hardwoods to be saved because the water is clean. A Category 3 water loss is not salvageable. However the amount of water impacting the floors, which is indicative of the Class of water loss, has a significant bearing on how much absorption of water the floors will take in and has a direct correlation to flooring damage.
There are 4 Classes of water loss. The greater the amount of water directly impacting the hardwoods the more likely it is for water to penetrate the joints and impact the sub floor. Once water is trapped in the flooring joints it would requires specialty drying equipment, making it a Class 4 water loss. SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County has specialty drying systems to remove moisture trapped in the joints of hardwood flooring.
Time or Duration of Moisture is a huge factor in determining whether hardwood flooring can be saved. It is imperative to respond immediately. The longer the flooring stays in contact with the water the more damage it creates limiting the chances of saving the floors. Hardwood flooring that is mitigated within the first 24 hours has the greatest chance of being salvaged.
The Type of Hardwood Flooring is a critical factor as to whether the flooring can be saved. Real Hardwood flooring is made out of a single layer of wood, and is salvageable if mitigated in time and is not a Category 3. Although water in the subterranean layer will cause the ends to bow upwards a condition called cupping, the floors can be sanded down and refinished. Engineered hardwood flooring is made of multiple layers of wood going in different directions. The veneer finish cannot be sanded and refinished. Often when engineered floors are impacted with moisture the expansion of the wood will result in a cracked finish or the popping up of the wood because it expands in all directions. With these conditions present, the engineered hardwood flooring cannot be saved.
Regardless of whether the floors can be saved or have to removed, SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County can help clients through the mitigation and the restoration process, making it "Like it never even happened."
Water Damage and Odor Control
One of the first things homeowners often notice in a water damage environment is the persistent, unbearable malodors. There have been times where homeowners had a small water loss that they felt was unnecessary to call a restoration company to dry because they felt they could easily handle it themselves, until the manifestation of odors forced their hand. The looming question is why does it seem that water damage and odors go hand in hand?
Moisture is one of the key components in odor creation as microorganisms, such, as mold, fungi, and pathogens and other bio-pollutants need it flourish. In a water damaged environment the moisture creates a suitable environment for them to multiply. The organic materials, such as wood, drywall and carpet backing found in homes are the food source these organisms thrive on. They are already present in most home environments, but at very low levels; because without moisture they are unable to survive. This is one of the reasons why proper drying to the IICRCS500 standard is necessary for each water damaged environment. When water is trapped under flooring, behind baseboards, wall cavities, and behind toe kicks of cabinets and is not properly dried it creates the conditions for exacerbated microbial growth and the mycotoxins they release are the odors that are smelt. These malodors are a warning of danger and it is a well-known fact that water damaged environments can pose serious health risks if not properly mitigated. The number 1 reason for residual malodors in a water damaged environment is improper drying.
The solution to odor elimination is to remove the source of the odor and this is not done by spraying air freshener and masking the odor. The well trained water restoration specialists of SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County will not only treat the odor, but will leave you with the peace of mind that your home or business has been returned to a condition 1 , level of dryness, which is the drying goal of the industry standard aforementioned. SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County will make it "Like it never even happened."
The Dynamic Duo of Air Movers and Dehumidifiers
Our signature green air mover and dehumidifier at work.
Like the superhero Batman, who was armed with a utility belt with gadgets to fight crime, every SERVPRO crew chief and technician is armed with a formidable arsenal of air movers, dehumidifiers and the science behind them, to thwart the perils associated with water damage. The science of water damage mitigation is called psychometrics.
- Psychometrics is the scientific relationship between temperature, humidity and air flow.
Understanding the aforementioned relationships allows the SERVPRO team to dry materials quicker and more thoroughly.
When materials such as flooring, walls and ceilings are wet the SERVPRO crew will extract any standing water because the most effective means of drying is removal of the water. Once the standing water is extracted and areas where trapped water could be located have been opened, the dynamic duo of air movers and dehumidifiers comes into play.
The Air Mover is engineered to create high volume air flow across a wet surface increasing the rate of evaporation which is the process of turning a liquid into a gas. The air mover alone is not enough, in order to be most effective, adequate temperature and proper dehumidification are required. The higher the temperature the more moisture molecules the air can hold. This accelerates evaporation.
The Dehumidifier is a piece of drying equipment that pulls the moisture created by evaporation out of the air and collects it so it cannot re-evaporate. Dehumidification also lowers vapor pressure and reduces the relative humidity which allows the wet materials to dry quicker. Vapor pressure is the force exerted by water vapor (humidity) in the environment. The area with the greatest amount of moisture will have the highest vapor pressure and it will seek equilibrium or balance. The danger with this is that moisture created due to water damage in one area will spread and cause secondary damage in adjoining areas if not mitigated properly.
The SERVPRO team uses the science of psychometrics along with the dynamic duo of air movers and dehumidification to quickly and effectively dry your structure and get you on the road to recovery; making it “Like it never even happened.”
SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County Recognizes 2019 Employee of the Year
As recognized by a vote of his coworkers, Patrick Hotte is the 2019 SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County Employee of the Year. The Employee of the Year award is a prestigious accomplishment that recognizes the company’s most exceptional employee. The recipient of this award embodies the company core values but does so in a way that goes far above and beyond what is expected. The person who has earned this honor is awarded a plaque with their picture prominently displayed in the corporate conference room, a cash prize and additional vacation days. Patrick is project manager that has been with company since November of 2014. Patrick is truly worthy of this award as he has represented the company in an exemplary fashion throughout the year, often pitching in wherever help was needed.
Patrick has a construction background of over 20 years. He is the ultimate team player that mentors new employees and is quick to share his knowledge in order to help the company perform at an optimum level. Patrick is a native of Vermont. He is happily married to his lovey wife Sarah and has three children. He is an avid fisherman, hunter and cook. His sports loyalties are the Boston Bruins, The Michigan Wolverines and The Las Vegas Raiders. He is defined by his large personality, quick wit and friendly demeanor. He is an asset to the company and is truly worthy of the recognition as SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County Employee of the Year. Congratulations Patrick and Thank you for your commitment to excellence.
SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County Salutes Carrboro Police Department
On May 1, 2020 SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County showed their appreciation to the brave officers of the Carrboro Police Department with a volunteer effort that included a cruiser disinfecting service and lunch from Amante Gourmet Pizzeria. The police cruiser disinfecting service included a through vacuuming, application of disinfectant and a UV fogging. Special Thanks to Chief Walter Horton and Lt. James Walker for helping us coordinate the event. We would also like to thank the staff of Amante Gourmet Pizzeria for their exceptional service and donation of the chocolate brownie tray for the officers. SERVPRO technicians Alec Hotte, and Bryan Brink disinfected around a dozen cruisers and one SUV belonging to Deputy Chief Enoch of the Carrboro Fire Department. The event was coordinated by franchise owner Brad Armstrong and Orange County Marketing Rep Jim McNeely.
During this ongoing time of pandemic due to the COVID-19 virus and state and local ordinances of shelter in place which only allow essential services to stay in operation, of which law enforcement and restaurants providing delivery or take out are included, the company, as a fellow essential service provider, felt this would be a great way to say thank you and give back.
SERVPRO of Orange County Serves Pizza With Purpose to the Hillsborough Police Department
LT Thompson of the Hillsborough Police Department and Orange County Marketing Rep Jim McNeely
In an effort to serve the community and show support for the essential service providers in the restaurant industry and first responders, SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County provided pizza from Anna Maria's Pizzeria for the Hillsborough Police Department on April 21, 2020. The Appreciation Lunch was our way of saying thank you to the staff of Anna Maria's and others in the restaurant industry that put themselves in harms way during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to provide food for the local community as the community shelters in place to create social distancing and curb the spread of the virus. We can not thank Police Chief Duane Hampton and his staff of exceptional officers for all they do daily, to keep the local community safe, especially during these unusual and difficult times. As a fellow essential service provider, SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County, recognizes the sacrifices and commitment it takes to keep our local communities functioning. We salute our local heroes as we all work together to flatten the curve.
Local COVID-19 Crisis Doesn't Stop Essential Services at SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County
When a toilet overflowed in a commercial building affecting three floors and two businesses, during the Orange County government's order to shelter in place, our clients were able to call and depend on SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County. The shelter in place order closed all businesses except those that provide essential services such as grocery and convenience stores, banks and financial institutions, gas stations, hardware stores, public utilities, healthcare, law enforcement and businesses ensuring business continuity functions such as electricians, HVAC companies, plumbers and restoration companies like SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County. The more than 1800 SERVPRO franchises throughout the nation are considered essential service providers and are available 24/7/365 during this time of uncertainty and change.
The disaster recovery, emergency mitigation disinfection and restoration services provided by SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County are necessary to protect public health, safety and essential operation of homes and businesses. As your local franchise SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County we are here to help and together we will get through the challenges facing us.
Emergency Supply Checklist for your Vehicle
We at SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County are passionate about emergency preparedness and personal safety no matter the situation. You might hear disaster preparedness warnings in regard to what emergency supplies you should keep in your home, but have you given any thought about your vehicle? Here are some things you should consider:
- How much time do you spend in your vehicle?
- Do you take extra supplies for long trips?
- What would you do in the event of bad weather, car trouble or a flat tire that could cause you to become stranded?
The National Safety Council recommends an array of items to keep in your vehicle and most of these items depend on the distance and landscape that you travel. Every vehicle should have an emergency supply kit located in the trunk. These kits should be checked every six months, and expired items should be replaced to keep it up to date. The vehicle emergency kit should include the following:
- A properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and tripod jack
- Jumper cables
- Tool kit and/or multipurpose utility tool
- Flashlight along with extra batteries
- Reflective triangles and brightly colored cloth to make your vehicle more viable
- First aid kit with gauze, tape, bandages, antibiotic ointment, aspirin, a blanket, non-latex gloves, scissors, hydrocortisone, thermometer, tweezers and instant cold compress
- Nonperishable, high-energy foods, such as unsalted nuts, dried fruits and hard candy
- Drinking water
- Reflective vest in case you need to walk to get help
- Car charger for your cell phone
- Fire extinguisher
- Duct tape
- Rain poncho
- Additional items for cold weather include a snow brush, shovel, windshield waster fluid, warm clothing, cat litter for traction and blankets
It's also a good idea to keep family and emergency phone numbers, including your auto insurance provider and a towing company, in your phone and even on paper in cause your phones loses battery/power. Equip your vehicles and stay safe. Always expect the unexpected and you will never be ill prepared.
We Are an IICRC Certified Firm
SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County is an Institute of Inspection, Clean and Restoration Certification (IICRC) Certified Firm.
As an IICRC Certified Firm we must:
- Require a continuing education program to keep technicians up to date on the latest changes in the industry.
- Maintain liability insurance to protect all parties in the event of in accident.
- Maintain a written complaint policy and agree to Better Business Bureau or similar arbitration to resolve disputes and accept the conclusions and recommendations of arbitration.
- Present accurate information to consumers and conduct business with honesty and integrity.
- Require a technician on all jobs who has been formally trained and passed all required tests.
The water damage restoration field changes rapidly with advancements in technology and science and therefore the standards must evolve to keep pace. Every five years the standards of the IICRC are reviewed and updated accordingly.