Water Intrusion Precautions
When water finds its way into your home, in the form of a flood, plugged drain that backs up, or a pipe breaking, it takes just seconds for some serious damage to occur.
Water intrusion, especially over time, affects all types of building materials. It can quickly leave you with a big mess to clean up, and sometimes the damage is more significant than what you originally thought.
Some water intrusions you can handle yourself, such as water on a concrete floor in the basement. Many homeowners have simply pushed that type of water into floor drains or used wet/dry vacuums to suck it up.
But if there is significant flooding, or if it has affected building materials, that’s a different story. You want to first think about the type of water that has caused the damage.
Types of water
It could be “clean” water, such as from rain or leaky pipes, which is a type of water you can sometimes clean up yourself. It could be “gray” water, which might come from a dishwasher, a washing machine, or an overflowing sink, and may require professional cleanup. Or — worst case situation — it could be “black” water, which you should not attempt cleaning because that means it came from a sewer, a flood, or some other situation that could have heavily contamination and health hazards. With most gray and with all black water flooding situations, it’s best to call a disaster restoration company.
But no matter what, be sure to be safe. With any type of flooding, turn off the power to affected areas and unplug electronics and appliances, in that order. Never step into standing water if there is any danger of electricity being on. Nothing is worth a trip to the hospital — or worse.
Working in a structure with black water also can be a safety issue — to your health. The reason you should always call a pro with black water is because of the bacteria and contamination that can make you sick, really sick. Cleaning and restoration professionals have the personal protective equipment needed to do the job right and do it safety. We aren’t talking about gloves and goggles, but about complete body protection, respirators, and more.
Water damage is a stressful situation, for anyone affected, in any situation. But it can all be fixed. Do the right thing and reach out to your favorite restoration company when anything happens to your home. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Computer Cleaning Made Simple
When people discuss “cleaning the computer” they often refer to running a disk check, removing old files, deleting applications that just take up space, and all the tasks that help it to run faster.
But cleaning can be an old-fashioned task and add value to that electronic device you rely on each and every day. Everything works better when it is cleaned and maintained.
Whether you have a computer with a “tower” and separate monitor, keyboard, etc., or a laptop, or a tablet, even a smartphone, they all need attention from time to time.
Keep it safe and organized
The first step is to turn off the device, no matter what. Electric shock can occur during cleaning, especially since you will use moisture to some degree.
Take apart the tower (if you have one), remove it, and keep all the screws and tiny parts organized. There’s nothing more frustrating than taking something apart and either losing a small part or having extra when the job is done.
Getting to work
Using compressed air, such as from a small can, blow out the dust that has accumulated inside. There may even be some spider webs. If you need to wipe out the interior, use a very soft cloth and be careful with the wires and connections. You don’t want a cleaning to turn into a repair.
Most likely, the computer or device you have is a laptop or tablet. For those, using compressed air is smart on openings and vented areas, you want to keep dust out of the device. A close examination of ports often shows accumulation of soil and grime.
With any device, wiping down the outside keeps oils from building up and especially helps with any buttons and keys. Using a solution such as for eyeglasses, and a soft microfiber cloth, apply the solution to surfaces and quickly (before it penetrates) wipe it off. Screens can be stubborn, as they show streaks. Microfiber cloths are the best tool for minimizing streaks.
For keyboards, use compressed air and cotton swabs to remove the dust and buildup in crevices. For stubborn soils, a little more effort will be required and maybe some careful cleaning with sharp objects, such as a wooden toothpick, might be warranted. But always be very careful not to cause damage to the keys.
And don’t forget, for all your cleaning needs and questions, contact your favorite cleaning company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Inspections that Prevent Restoration Efforts
As we look at spring in the rear-view mirror of life, it’s time to think about what a tough winter and spring season may have had on our home.
Now is the perfect time of year to take a stroll around your home and see how things look. Yes, you may have already put in a few plants and run the lawn mower a time or two, but have you really looked closely at the exterior of your home? What you may discover — and subsequently repair — will keep the weather elements outside and your home safe and snug inside.
Go ahead, put on your shoes and head outside. Scroll around the house. Here’s what you should look for.
Stand back and really look, even with a pair of binoculars. Do you see any shingles or other roof materials popping up a bit? Look at transition areas. Any damage you see just might be covered by insurance, especially if there was a recent windstorm. Any damage should be repaired immediately before you suffer from water intrusion. Roof damage is really serious business.
Freezing temperatures, age of the gutters, and the elements can take their toll. Get underneath the gutters and look up. Do they pull away from the home? Look for daylight between the gutters and the roof. You don’t want to see that. And the next time it rains, grab an umbrella and take another tour outside — except when there is lightning! If any water is spilling out the side of the gutter, it’s time for a closer look.
Standing at each corner of the house, look along the side. There are many types of siding materials but what you want to look for is anything wavy, not flat like it should be, and perhaps pulling away. This might mean a repair job is in order, and you should do it before the next storm.
Around windows, doors, and ventilation pipes, the caulking should be in good condition, not cracked and damaged. Caulking can easily be replaced but be sure to purchase a caulking product intended for your purpose, such as one that can withstand outdoor elements and wind/rain. The experts at a home improvement store can point out what’s best for your situation.
But no matter what happens to your home during any type of storm, you have professionals ready to help. Do the right thing and reach out to your favorite disaster restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
A Time for Reflection
Cleaning windows is a common chore, and many people will schedule an entire day or more to it during spring or annual cleaning. It involves removing screens, climbing up on ladders, stepping over shrubbery, a little huffing and puffing, among other challenges.
When cleaning your windows, don’t forget the interior glass that can get neglected. That’s right, the mirrors in your home. If you keep your mirrors clean, you might even look better when you gaze at yourself!
Cleaning mirrors may seem like a simple task… but like with all household tasks, there are proper, best-practice steps that make the job easier, better, and save you time as well.
As with window washing, you can use a scrub tool and squeegee on mirrors, but that’s not very effective on smaller surfaces and especially those not perfectly flat.
Most will opt for a quality glass cleaner, one that limits streaking. You can find plenty of options at your grocery or department store.
If you are the do-it-yourself type of person, you can also make your own. Most cleaning products are, after all, water based. In a trigger sprayer, mixing up a few cups of water with a few drops of dishwashing detergent and about a cup of rubbing alcohol makes a great homemade alternative as a glass cleaner. The rubbing alcohol helps with evaporation. Some recipes call for a few drops of vinegar as well. Can’t hurt!
You also need lint-free towels. Many use disposable paper towels but make sure they are higher quality as you don’t want them falling apart when you use them. Wiping off edges and streaks is essential to a good glass cleaning job.
The actual cleaning is pretty simple, but you must be thorough. Apply/mist on a small amount of solution, wetting out the entire surface. Using your towels, work over the surface until all the moisture is evaporated and then keep wiping. Use a zig-zag pattern, turning over the towel and using the dryer side when you can. A final wiping with a clean, unused towel should finish off the job.
Make sure the room is well-lit. Look at the glass from all angles. What might look fine from one side of the room may look terrible from the other side.
For all your best cleaning tips, and to get some help with all your cleaning tasks, call your favorite cleaning company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
What the EPA Says About MOLD
When the United States Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, speaks… most of us listen.
And the EPA has much to say about mold, which can affect health in minor, irritating ways (slight respiratory issues) to severe life-threatening reactions, resulting in medical care and the unthinkable.
Here are the edited highlights from the EPA.gov site, along with our own thoughts, that all households should consider. Of course, the EPA recommends that everyone should fix plumbing leaks, water intrusion issues, and keep all interior surfaces clean and dry at all times. If you do this, mold should not be an issue. But if it happens, here are some tips.
Who should do the cleanup? There are a number of factors. First, consider the size of the mold problem. If less than 10 square feet, you may be able to handle the cleanup yourself. However, with water damage and mold growth more than 10 feet, consult an expert. And there is no way to know 100% if even a small amount of mold could have an adverse health effect on you or those you care about.
HVAC and air conveyance systems
Don’t minimize the impact that mold can have in your ductwork or other air conveyance areas. Hidden mold may be out of sight, but it should be taken seriously. Slight musty odors should trigger an investigation. Get your duct work inspected immediately and have the work done by a professional.
Restrooms, shower stalls and more
Mold is normal in some areas, like in the corner of a shower stall. Don’t panic. Just clean it up. But if you need help, hire a pro. A very small amount of mold is no doubt fresh and can be easily removed.
Hiring a pro
If you decide to contact and use a disaster restoration company or a mold removal service, be a smart consumer and check their references and credentials. There are many “companies” that claim to be experts in mold removal, but they are far from qualified.
Do the right thing with mold. When you know you have it, you should know how to get rid of it. The easiest, best, and safest way is to let a disaster restoration, water damage, or mold remediation company do the work. After all, it pays to call a pro!
How to Remove Wax from Surfaces
Wax is a big part of everyday life.
You use candles to add a nice warm glow to your home, and to add a pleasing scent as well. You wax your car to give it a nice shine. You use wax to remove unwanted hai… oops, let’s not get too personal.
But you get the picture. Wax is beneficial, handy, it has many uses, but when it is spilled onto a surface by accident, it can be a tough challenge to clean up. As you know, when wax is spilled, it is hot and can really stick to surfaces, especially fabric like carpet or upholstery.
Here are a few useful tips you can implement when cleaning up wax.
Carpet, furniture, and fabrics
There’s no point in hurrying. Once it hits the surface, it hardens up faster than ice cream disappearing in front of a teenager. But once it hardens, you may be able to break up the wax and pull it off the fabric. BE CAREFUL not to damage the fabric, especially furniture.
You can choose cold or hot treatment. You can freeze the wax with ice cubes and break it off, or you can warm it up for removal. You can do this with a hair dryer, clothes teamer or even a clothes iron if you use the lowest setting and keep a damp towel between the iron and the surface, and just dab at it to transfer the wax. If you can warm up the wax to melting temperature, you can remove it. The color left behind will most likely need the attention of a cleaning company.
This is easier. You have several approaches. Whether glass, wood, tile, or other hard surfaces, simply scrape (be careful not to scratch the surface) the wax off. If stubborn, you can also warm up the wax with a hair dryer or clothes steamer and then wipe it off.
An oily residue may remain, and you can use a hot detergent and towel to remove that. Some recommend rubbing alcohol as the solvent of choice.
Prevention – and the best cure
Of course, being careful not to spill the wax is the smart thing to do, but accidents do happen. And when they do, and you need help, reach out to your favorite cleaning company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
‘Do Not Do’ Activities After a Water Damage
Broken pipes, leaky roofs, plugged up drains, wind-driven rain, and other issues can strike at any time, especially during spring weather.
When water intrudes, you want to clean it up, and fast. Most homeowners call their favorite disaster restoration company, but while they wait, they find it very difficult to do nothing about their unfortunate situation.
Some may attempt to vacuum up the water, get out all the fans, rip out wet sheetrock, and other tasks that need to be handled — at least in the minds of those affected by a disaster. It’s really tough to sit by, wait, and do nothing in a situation like this.
But often, that’s exactly what you should do. Nothing. Make the phone call to your restoration company and get their advice and wait for them.
With this in mind, consider these definite “do not do” activities in the event of a water damage situation.
Do not vacuum up any water with an ordinary vacuum cleaner (yes, it’s been done and not with good results) and it is best to avoid even a wet/dry vacuum. If you must do some water extraction yourself, make sure it is a professional grade piece of equipment, such as something you might rent, as there are safety considerations to keep in mind — such as avoiding electrocution.
Don’t use electrical appliances, even ordinary ones that might seem harmless, when in the vicinity of flooded areas. Make sure any power cards are properly grounded in your home.
Don’t go into heavily flooded rooms if you can, don’t walk on wet carpet or through flooded areas, such as a basement. Again, the electrical issue can be a factor. If the flooding is limited and you simply have a squishy carpet, you may be able to move around the home, but only after you have made certain power is turned off in affected areas and there are no safety concerns.
Don’t start pulling apart building materials, such as sheetrock, or removing carpet, as you might make a bigger mess that will make more work for the restoration company that is on its way. Small injuries can quickly become infected injuries.
Don’t wait! Disaster restoration companies work 24/7, 365 days a year. It’s the nature of disaster work. Do the right thing, and give your favorite restoration company a call the minute disaster strikes. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Dive into Spring Cleaning
When the temperature is climbing up to an acceptable level and flowers are flexing their muscles, when the birds are singing and you are in a (generally) better mood, that just might mean that spring has arrived.
And with that comes the unignorable urge to clean everything in sight.
Spring cleaning is an age-old tradition that grips virtually everyone with a home or apartment. It’s that annual event likened to a pilgrimage that means you discover all kinds of things, such as “What in the world has been growing behind the refrigerator?” and “Just how many spiders lived in our basement this winter?”
Spring cleaning needs to be strategic, not a haphazard running around the house with a feather duster in one hand and the vacuum in the other.
The first step is to prioritize. Which areas of the house need attention first? Which will take the most time? Which will make the most impact (positive) on creating a cleaner, healthier home?
Make a list. What you will do with the high-touch points, dusting, vacuuming, moving furniture, special tasks such as window washing or oven cleaning. Also add in what you need professional services for, such as carpet and furniture cleaning, hard floor care, and similar tough jobs that give you a migraine just thinking about them.
Create a schedule. While some may have a few days they can put against spring cleaning chores, many must split it up. Make it manageable. After you create your list and priorities, get out the calendar and map it all out so your plan gets some life to it. Nothing feels as good as checking off those cleaning tasks over a period of time.
Take your time. When dusting, vacuuming, or another cleaning task, don’t hurry through it. There’s nothing as valuable as a thorough, diligent cleaning of surfaces. Moving that vacuum slowly over the carpet means you are pulling more dry soil, which means less dust “coming back” after spring cleaning is over.
You will also be “getting rid of stuff” during the spring-cleaning process. Sentiments may come into play. Although that elephant shaped planter in the back corner of the basement came from a favorite third cousin (what is her name, anyway?), you have never introduced anything resembling live growth to it. Maybe just get rid of it, along with all that other stuff that you know you won’t use in this lifetime.
And when it comes time to get some expert help with your cleaning tasks, do the right thing. Call your favorite cleaning company. After all, it pays to call a pro!