Hoarding fire

The Fire Dangers of Hoarding


The excessive accumulation of objects in a home is called hoarding. And this creates hazards both for the homeowner and the home’s residents, one of which is fire danger.

Fire Dangers of Hoarding

Fire Acceleration

When stuff is piled high, fires have more fuel and can spread quickly throughout a home. Many homes contain piles of dry old newspapers and other flammable materials that go up in flames instantly. Piles near areas where cooking takes place or heating units are placed are particularly hazardous. Smoking or open flames on candles also create fire dangers.

Frayed Wires

Items piled onto cords and wires can cause damage to those electrical cords, resulting in a short that can create a fire. Vermin and other pests can chew through wires, also compromising them.

Smoke and Fumes

Since more objects are burning, excessive smoke accumulates. Many of these items can put off toxic fumes as well, creating breathing issues and potentially deadly situations for residents and firefighters.

Blocked Exits

When stuff is piled high in rooms, it can be difficult to get to the exits. In case of a fire, residents need to be able to both access exits, which they cannot do if exits are blocked, and reach them quickly. People can also become trapped in a home when piles fall over and block doors and windows.

Dangers to Firefighters

Not only are residents of a hoarding situation in danger during a fire, firefighters are also put at risk. Firefighters can become blocked in a home, or succumb to toxic smoke and fumes. They can suffer difficulty trying to perform search and rescue operations. And when water is added to the weight of the accumulated objects, it can cause floors or walls to collapse.

Since approximately 6% of Americans are considered hoarders, firefighters often undergo special training to deal with fire dangers in this situation. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is studying ways to tackle safety issues related to compulsive hoarding.

Why do People Hoard?

People tend to hoard because they feel a strong urge to collect items they think will be useful in the future. They also feel strong discomfort with thoughts of getting rid of or losing these items. The home becomes overpopulated with things, sometimes to the point where living in the home is compromised. Hoarding is often associated with a mental disorder that can be triggered by traumatic events or losses in the person’s past, depression, dementia or obsessive compulsive disorder. The don’t consciously realize that their hoarding could be creating fire dangers.

How Can You Assist?

When speaking with a person who hoards, talk about safety, not their clutter. You need to be empathetic to the reasons why they hoard, which may be out of their control. See if you can help them to understand how their hoarding is putting their families or themselves in danger.

Ensure that a series of working smoke alarms are installed throughout the home. Test them monthly. Help the person to create an evacuation plan should a fire occur and make sure that each room has more than one exit path. Check regularly to see that new objects have not been placed to block exits.

Related: Hoarding and Fire: Reducing the Risk | NFPA

123JUNK Can Help

When a hoarder is ready—or required—to empty a home, you’ll need to bring in junk removal specialists, like 123JUNK. We train our staff in how to work with individuals and health professionals in hoarding situations, so we understand the nuances and the empathy needed to perform our job. We don’t want to see hoarding create fire dangers for anyone.

123JUNK can remove partial hoards or help with a whole-house cleanout. Call us today to learn how we can help. We serve Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Maryland.

staged home

Decluttering for Home Staging


Do you want to sell your home faster and for a higher price? It can be as simple as decluttering, which helps set the stage to presenting your home in its best light. For your convenience, 123JUNK offers you a quick list of what to declutter, room by room.

For decluttering, you essentially have two options: stash it or trash it.

Items to Keep:

For items you want to keep, box them up and put them into storage, either onsite or offsite.

Items you Don’t Want to Keep:

For items for which you no longer have a need, donate them, recycle them, or send them to the trash. Let 123JUNK take those items off your hands for you. We’re glad to pick up any items from your home directly. We recycle what we can and trash the rest for you.

123JUNK’s Quick Guide to Decluttering for Home Staging

Decluttering Public Rooms


  • Clear counters of all small appliances and decorative items
  • Keep towels and potholders in drawers
  • Place sponges and cleaning products under the sink
  • Pack up rarely used cooking items, utensils to clear out drawers and cabinets
  • Remove rarely used or highly-aromatic spices and foods in drawers, cabinets and pantry
  • Remove any bug deterrents from the home
  • Remove pet feeding bowls

Living, Dining and Family Rooms

  • Clear away all or most books, magazines and hobby materials
  • Pack up personal photographs, knick-knacks and memorabilia from surfaces and mantel
  • Remove most artwork, especially personal art
  • Leave only a few accent pillows
  • Secure or remove throw rugs
  • Hide television remote controls
  • Limit toys or children’s items. Collect them into a basket or box
  • Remove extra furniture to make the rooms look airy and larger
  • Pack up out-of-season items from closets and hanging hooks from hallways
  • Clear off tops of surfaces, leaving only one or two decorative items for staging
  • Remove all pet items

If you need help in removing items from your home, please give 123JUNK a call at 800-364-5778. We serve Northern Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

3 Tips For Starting Your Own Recycling Program

The Facts About Recycling

The EPA estimates that approximately 75% of all solid waste is recyclable, yet only about 30% actually gets recycled. Given that we produce nearly 1.5 billion tons of waste in one year, that leaves 675 million tons of recyclable waste unrecycled!

While 123Junk takes pride in recycling, recycling is a process that everyone should be implementing on a full-time basis.  Some people have been recycling for years, so it’s second nature to them. Others simply trash everything, perhaps because they are unaware of what items can and cannot be recycled.

Tips for an Effective Recycling Program

Starting a recycling program can be daunting for some people, but it does not have to be. Here are a few tips to follow to get your own recycling program started:

Learn What is Recyclable. – Don’t worry about not knowing this. Many people don’t, including those who recycle on a regular basis. However, finding out can be as simple as making a few phone calls to your local waste management company to find out what can be recycled and if they have any special conditions on how the recycling should be packaged.

Determine Capacity – While it would be great to set up an in-depth bin system to separate each type of recyclable material, most of us do not have the luxury of space or time to do so. Instead, determine what size system you could reasonably manage and begin there. Perhaps you could begin with two bins, one for recyclable paper products and one for recyclable glass/plastic products.

Practice and Education – If you have never recycled before then obviously practice is going to be key in forming a habit. If this seems unattainable, don’t stress. You will get there eventually and be in recycling mode before you know it. Continuing to educate yourself on additional recycling tips (such as buying previously recycled goods/products or performing a waste-stream analysis) and educating those around you should help to encourage more recycling.

Just a little effort behind recycling can make a major impact in our communities and the well being of our environment. Let’s stop wasting and start seeing green.