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How and why to keep your smoke alarm in good condition.

Fire alarms are vital tools for homes and businesses alike.

However, as with most technology, smoke alarms are subject to technical faults and other issues.

Given the importance of their function, they must be maintained and checked regularly.

At ServiceMaster Restore, we promise to restore your premises as close to their original condition as possible following disasters like fire.

In cases of emergency, we will be there, but these are worst-case scenarios.

To avoid disaster altogether, we’ve put together some tips on smoke alarm maintenance.


Why check your smoke alarm?

Your smoke alarm can be affected by various factors that impact its ability to alert you to potential danger.

These include:

  • Age and installation
  • Dust and dirt build-up
  • Vandalism or tampering
  • Exposures to temperature, humidity and voltage

These factors can influence your smoke alarm at any time, so regularly testing its effectiveness is essential for your home or business.

An improperly functioning smoke can be a danger to…


  1. Your safety

Perhaps the most evident reason to check your smoke alarm regularly is for the safety it provides.

Smoke alarms are designed to detect smoke before humans are likely able to.

This protects you from the threats of fire and smoke, like smoke inhalation, and ensures you can reach a safe location as quickly as possible.

Additionally, for commercial properties, most alarm systems allow emergency responders to pinpoint the location of the fire.

This allows them to maximise their safety while having a strategic approach to extinguishing the threat.


  1. Legality

For landlords and commercial properties, there are legal requirements and legislation around smoke alarm ownership.

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (Amendment) Regulations 2022 came into force on 1 October 2022.

From that date, all relevant landlords have been required to:

  1. Ensure at least one smoke alarm is equipped on each storey of their homes where a room is used as living accommodation.

This has been a legal requirement in the private rented sector since 2015.

  1. Ensure a carbon monoxide alarm is equipped in any room used as living accommodation which contains a fixed combustion appliance (excluding gas cookers).
  2. Ensure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are repaired or replaced once it is found that they are faulty.

Fines of up to £5’000 can be enforced if a landlord fails to comply with a remedial notice.

For more information, the UK Government website provides information about the requirements, to whom they apply, and how they are enforced.


  1. Protection of contents

For commercial properties, the setup and operations of businesses often require heavy investments into the site, from real estate, design, furniture and electronics, to supplies and inventory.

Proper installation and maintenance of smoke alarms help safeguard these assets from damage.

Regular maintenance of smoke detectors and fire alarm systems by certified, qualified fire safety professionals can serve to protect the people at home or work and the buildings themselves.


How to ensure your smoke alarm is in good condition

Keeping your smoke alarm in working condition is an ongoing and vital process and can be done by following some easy steps:

  • Test your smoke alarms regularly (at least monthly) by pressing the test button on each smoke alarm to ensure it’s working.
  • Replace batteries regularly – Smoke alarms should have a fresh battery installed yearly or as soon as the low-battery warning chirps.
  • Install smoke alarms in the right places – There should be a smoke alarm on every landing of every floor and in the kitchen.
  • Keep smoke alarms clean – Dust and debris can interfere with smoke alarm sensors, so vacuum your smoke alarms regularly.
  • Replace smoke alarms when necessary – Smoke alarms should be replaced every decade or sooner if damaged or ill-functioning.

In need of professional fire and smoke restoration?

Smoke alarms are in place in homes and commercial properties to try and minimise the likelihood of an incident.

But, should the worst happen and your property and its contents fall victim to fire and smoke damage, we will be there in the aftermath.

Fortunately, there are experts from ServiceMaster Restore available to you 24/7 on our emergency hotline, 0845 762 6828.

With 60 years of experience as leading experts in disaster restoration, our technicians are here to help you.

When dealing with fire and smoke damage, you might not know what to do next, but we do.

To use our smoke and fire restoration services, find your nearest ServiceMaster Restore business today.

The restoration experts share everything you need to know about smoke damage in your home. 

Are you recovering from a fire in your home?

Because the fire is out, it doesn’t mean the damage is done.

A surprising amount of damage from fire isn’t caused by the fire itself but by the smoke residue.

To make matters worse, soot and smoke damage can worsen even after the flames are out.

This blog examines how smoke damage impacts your home and how to deal with it.


Understanding smoke

Smoke can affect areas untouched by flames, spreading to unaffected rooms and causing further damage.

A lot of the harm from smoke is down to the fact that it brings high temperatures from the fire, but that is not the only reason the smoke is harmful – there is also the acidic content to consider.

According to a study from Michigan State University, between the heat and the corrosive properties, smoke inhalation is the primary cause of death for indoor fires and one of the biggest obstacles to getting your home and your life back in order following a fire.

Soot

Furthermore, where there is smoke, there’s usually soot.

Soot is another by-product of fires.

It is a powder-like or greasy substance comprised primarily of carbon.

Soot presents many health hazards, and prolonged exposure carries a risk of cancer, including skin cancer and cancer of the oesophagus, lungs, and bladder.

It’s one of the reasons that diesel exhaust is dangerous, and it’s responsible for over a quarter of hazardous air pollution on Earth.

Long story short, you don’t want soot in your home.

Smoke and soot can affect your home’s structure and belongings alike.

It’s different from the harm that fire causes, and fixing it can be one of the most lasting and strenuous aspects of fire damage clean-up.


How does smoke affect your home?

Acids

Smoke often contains several different acids.

The makeup may vary depending on the fire that caused it, but you can usually count on acids related to carbon and sulphur.

However, scientists are still making discoveries about what smoke is made of.

As recently as 2011, researchers discovered a kind of acid in smoke that they hadn’t previously known about. And even smoke that isn’t acidic can still cause harm.

Corrosion and metal damage

One glaring effect that smoke can have is on the metal in your home.

Depending on the kind of smoke and type of metal, effects can range from tarnishing to outright corrosion.

Smoke can affect many parts of your home, from small details like doorknobs and kitchen fittings to the structural elements and pipes.

Corroded pipes, in particular, are dangerous due to being at risk of leaking and causing further damage from water.

Porous material damage

Smoke also causes permanent discolouration of porous materials often used in home construction.

This includes plastics and marble that may be used in countertops or tiles – all of which can start to occur in just minutes.

Likewise, hardwood floors are porous, giving smoke plenty of hiding spots.

In some cases, good mopping and deodorising can work. But many times, the floor needs to be refinished or even replaced.

Even if your floors and walls aren’t porous, they may still be at risk.

Smoke odour and permanent stains can set in on walls and synthetic carpets.

Acidic residues left behind may eat away at wall coverings like paint or wallpaper.

DIY: Reducing damage

You can do a little to reduce the harm on your own.

To start, rub any affected metal surfaces with olive oil or vegetable oil and leave it there.

This isn’t a long-term solution, but it will slow or prevent pitting and discolouration until professionals can arrive for a professional cleaning.


Items commonly damaged by smoke:

Carpets and rugs

Carpets and rugs made of synthetics may be permanently stained in a matter of days.

Cleaning is often possible if the carpets aren’t damaged by heat, water, or any chemical agents used to fight the fire.

But the cleaning must be done before the damage becomes permanent.

Curtains and upholstery

Curtains and upholstery can similarly become yellow.

Cleaning fabrics often requires special tools like alkaline cleaners since trying to vacuum these things can spread soot instead of cleaning them.

It’s best to call in experts who know how to clean smoke damage

Furniture

Smoke can harm your furniture, whether made of porous wood or corrodible metal.

Like upholstery, the other parts of your furniture are at risk if you use the wrong cleaning agent.

It’s easy to damage varnishes, paints, and wood stains when trying to clean smoke damage, just as it’s easy to rust metal.

Clothing

Soot can be stuck in clothing, like other fabrics around the home.

Like those other fabrics, they may require special cleaning techniques and solutions, and time is still of the essence before staining becomes permanent.

Tossing clothing into the washing machine may cause a smoke odour to set, and it may not get the sooty oil out of your clothing.

Chemicals left behind in soot can cause skin irritation, making it all the more important to get them cleaned thoroughly, promptly, and professionally.

Some dry cleaners will handle smoke-damaged clothes, but not all do.

Appliances

The corrosive effects of smoke extend to the inside and outside of your appliances.

Smoke odour can permeate the interior of your fridge and other appliances, and the caustic effects of smoke residue can damage the electrical systems.

Plastic

Plastic is highly porous, so it collects more soot than anything else in your home.

Plastics will start discolouring in minutes.

If possible, wipe them down with an alkaline cleaning solution.

Most things should wait for professionals, but if you can act on your plastic, do so quickly.

Porcelain

Porcelain, like bathroom fixtures, can discolour within hours if not cleaned.

Wipe residue away to prevent etching.

You may also want to wash it with soap.

Both measures can buy you some time before the professionals come in.


How to clean smoke damage

Depending on the material, you have anywhere from minutes to days to begin smoke damage restoration.

Generally, the sooner you can deal with it, the better.

But there is a list of priorities.

Some materials are more resistant to soot than others, and time is precious when cleaning up after a fire.

The best thing is to call in the experts, but in the meantime, here are some tips:

Within minutes

  • Wash as much porous material as you can.
  • Clean porous floorings like tile, marble, wood, plastic and PVC.

Damage to these materials becomes irreversible very quickly.

  • For plastics, use an alkaline cleaner.

Within hours

  • Wipe any metal down with cooking oil to buy yourself some time for a more thorough cleaning.

The oil will act as a barrier, helping prevent further damage and rust.

  • Wood furniture may begin to lose its finish, so clean it as much as possible.
  • For finished wood, an all-purpose cleaner can help you stave off damage until the pros arrive.
  • Porcelain fixtures start staining during this time, so wipe them down and clean them with soap if possible.

Within days

You’ll start seeing permanent discolouration of fabrics like clothing, upholstery, curtains, and carpeting.

You may also start seeing discolouration on your walls, as well.

It may be tempting to vacuum these things, but most household vacuum cleaners aren’t powerful enough.

Instead of cleaning soot, they’ll transfer it to the next thing you try to vacuum.

Don’t try to wash papered or painted walls on your own, clean carpet, or touch anything sooty with your bare skin.

Instead, wear rubber gloves to prevent the oil transfer from your skin, setting the soot.

Cleaning certain things without the correct equipment can worsen the problem, and exposing your skin to soot can be a health hazard, spreading soot to other parts of your home.

As soon as possible, call restoration professionals.

Clean-up and restoration experts like ServiceMaster Restore have the right equipment, machinery and protective clothing to save as much as possible as fast as possible.


How to restore smoke damage

The salvageability of an item will depend on what it is and how quickly it is cleaned.

Many plastics and metals will likely need to be replaced.

However, a trained professional can quickly evaluate what is salvageable and what is a waste of time to restore.

Bringing in a pro isn’t just about getting the proper equipment to save your belongings.

It’s about having someone there who knows how smoke affects things and how quickly.

It is about someone who can look at the tile floor and know if it can be saved or if that time is better spent trying to save your metal appliances.

It’s about having enough hands to do both, if possible.

The fact is that getting smoke damage restoration experts into your house as soon as possible is the best way to save as much of your home as possible.


Contact ServiceMaster Restore

Fortunately, there are experts from ServiceMaster Restore available to you 24/7 on our emergency hotline, 0845 762 6828.

As leading cleaning and disaster restoration experts for over 60 years, our technicians are here to help you in whatever crisis you may be facing.

When dealing with smoke damage, there is a lot to take in.

This information may be overwhelming, but it is what we do.

For smoke damage restoration and support during a crisis, find your nearest ServiceMaster Restore business today.

How to remove hazardous waste from your premises.

As the private landlord of a residential tenanted building or the manager of a housing association, there may be occasions where you have to deal with hazardous waste that previous occupants have left on your property.

This is naturally not an ideal situation for you.

Particularly as you may not know what to do next.

Thankfully, at ServiceMaster Restore, we do.

As experts in damage restoration, we know how to safely dispose of dangerous materials and restore your premises to their original condition.

Chiefly, all hazardous waste should be handled cautiously and disposed of quickly, as they can be dangerous for your health.

So, if a tenant has moved out and left hazardous waste, how should you deal with it?

Types of hazardous waste

Hazardous waste covers a wide range of unpleasant substances.

The types of hazardous waste we’ve come across in vacant residential properties include:

  • Drug paraphernalia, such as needles and syringes (sharps)
  • Human and animal waste
  • Bodily fluids
  • Rotten food
  1. Carry out a risk assessment

Before beginning any clean-up, undertaking a risk assessment is necessary to determine the type of waste and how to dispose of it.

Removing hazardous waste will require the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) and the proper biohazard cleaning and sharps removal equipment.

  1. Clear and clean the property

The first step must be to sanitise and clear the property of all waste.

Then the property will require a deep clean to prepare for the next occupant.

  1. Use a professional restoration and cleaning service

Given the health risk and specialist nature of waste clearance cleaning, we recommend using a professional restoration and void cleaning company like your local ServiceMaster Restore.

They will have the skills and the equipment to remedy the waste effectively and safely.

The sooner your property is restored, the sooner you can let it to new tenants.

At ServiceMaster Restore, we provide restoration and waste removal services to housing associations, private landlords, and environmental health departments.

Our teams are fully trained in all aspects of hazardous and biohazardous waste removal, including the safe collection and disposal of used needles and sharps.

We can also remove fridges, freezers and mattresses requiring unique disposal.

With the waste cleared, we carry out a deep clean and decontamination.

We can also provide fogging, where very fine droplets of disinfectant are sprayed throughout a room to disinfect it thoroughly, or Ozone treatment, which removes unwanted odour and kills mould, vermin and microorganisms.

Contact ServiceMaster Restore

If your property has suffered damage from hazardous waste, contact your local experts at ServiceMaster Restore to help with the clean-up.

With fast response times to callouts in emergencies and preventative solutions to mitigate the reoccurrence of issues, whatever the damage, we will be there for the aftermath.

In an emergency, call 0845 762 6828 or find your nearest ServiceMaster Restore business to see how your local experts can help.

Looking for ways to commemorate the coronation as a business? 

The Big Help Out is a coming together of thousands of organisations nationwide, uniting to support local communities.

What is The Big Help Out?

Organised in conjunction with celebrations for the upcoming coronation of King Charles III, starting on Monday 8th May, The Big Help Out is a voluntary initiative supported by some of the UK’s largest volunteer organisations, like the National Trust, Scouts and the RSPCA, to raise awareness of volunteering throughout the UK.

Activities throughout the day will provide opportunities for people to experience volunteering and make a difference in their communities.

How do I take part?

There are many ways to get involved in The Big Help Out.

If you are interested, you can participate as:

  1. An individual
  2. An organisation
  3. A business

To register as any of these participants, access the official app.

What can I do?

As Big Help Organisers state,

“There will be opportunities for everyone to join in. No matter what you are good at, there’ll be something to suit helping hands of all shapes and sizes! From checking in on someone who’d like a bit of company or volunteering for a charity. The more of us who join in, the bigger help we will be.”

Activities can include events benefitting:

  • Animal Welfare
  • Community
  • Crisis and Welfare
  • Health and Social Care
  • Older people
  • Sports, Arts, and Culture
  • Sustainability and the Environment
  • Young People and Children

There’s plenty to do, so get involved however you can.

We’ll see you there!

Keep your kingdom safe

On celebratory occasions, none of us want to fear the worst. At ServiceMaster Restore, we are there to help when the unthinkable happens.

This bank holiday weekend and beyond, and let ServiceMaster Restore handle the restoration of any damage to your home or business.

You may not know what to do in an emergency like this. But we do.

Whatever the damage, be it fire, smoke, flood or something else, we will be there for the aftermath.

In an emergency, call 0845 762 6828 or find your nearest ServiceMaster Restore business to see how your local experts can help.

Sewage Backup? Here’s what to do.

Sewer lines transport waste water away from your home through underground plumbing that leads to local sewer mains.

If the line clogs or fails, it can create a raw sewage backup in your home.

This is a grave hazard to your home.

Not only is the smell unbearable, but it is also a biohazard that destroys any absorbent material it touches and is incredibly difficult to dry and remove.

How dangerous is sewage?

Sewage contains a mix of both water and waste products.

This consists “of both organic and inorganic matter, including human wastes, mineral salts, and garbage,” according to How Stuff Works.

Organic material decomposes quickly and emits odorous gases.

These can be health hazards, especially coming from human waste.

Organic material also contains disease-causing pathogens, so quick and effective sewage removal is critical after any backup.

There’s a sewage backup in your home. Now what?

If you discover a sewer backup in the home, you can immediately:

  • Check all the toilets, sinks and waste pipes for blockages.
  • If there is a blockage that you can clear, clear it.
  • If needed, call a plumber for assistance.
  • Avoid using the toilets or sinks until the blockage has been removed.

If it’s a main line clog, the water will back up and then come up through the bathtubs or any cellar.

PLEASE NOTE: If standing water is in your cellar due to the sewage backup, never enter while the power is on – this is dangerous.

Electricity and water can kill.

Assess the risks

Dealing with a sewage backup can be dangerous.

It’s vital to assess the risks before attempting any clean-up.

Sewage-contaminated water can contain a variety of bacteria and viruses.

While not transmitted through the air, contact with skin can result in rashes or infection if you have even the smallest open sores or cuts.

Accidentally touching your nose, eyes or mouth with hands or gloves contaminated by sewage can make you sick.

When faced with a sewage backup, it is safer to call the professionals.

How ServiceMaster Restore helps

ServiceMaster Restore offers complete sewage clean-up services.

Our specially trained teams safely and effectively extract any water and sewage.

They will also assess any damage and complete a comprehensive remediation plan.

This may include dehumidification and drying services, as needed.

Sewer backups in the basement are smelly, messy and best left to the professionals.

This type of home disaster is also dangerous.

Keep yourself and your family safe, and let ServiceMaster Restore tackle the sewage backup.

You may not know what to do in an emergency like this. But we do.

Whatever the damage, we will be there for the aftermath.

In an emergency, call 0845 762 6828 or find your nearest ServiceMaster Restore business to see how your local experts can help.