Is It Your Decision?
No matter the time of year or the season, flooding can happen to any home or business. When it does, the immediate thought most have is, “Who is going to pay for all of this?”
Most then call their insurance company, since events like flooding is why insurance is purchased in the first place. For some reason, many flooding issues occur at night or on the weekend, when your local insurance company is closed, if you have a local agent. You call, leave a message, and wait. And wait. They may never call you, or at best call you when you are solidly in panic mode, and the reason may be because they aren’t the ones to handle your claim in the first place. They sell the insurance. They may not service the insurance claim. Most likely, you need to call a national emergency hotline number. You should always have that on file and ready just in case something happens to your home.
When you reach your insurance company, or at least the part of it that makes decisions on paying for the repairs, you may be told to use a specific contractor, a local firm the insurance company has a special relationship with. It may not be the company you want to use. But always remember this: It’s your decision who you use to work on your home. Of course, you may have to fight for your rights.
This being said, using the contractor recommended by the insurance company may not be a bad idea. That company may be completely qualified and know exactly what your home needs to get back to pre-flood condition. But no matter what, it’s your decision. Getting references and looking at reviews should always be a priority when hiring a contractor to work on your home.
Be sure to document everything, including the time you spend on cleaning up the mess. Take pictures. The more documentation and pictures you have, the better you can negotiate how much of the damage will be covered by your insurance policy. You will have to pay the deductible, but often the time you spend and the resources of your own you use to work on the flood is credited to you. It’s a conversation to have with your insurance company and your contractor.
No matter what, though, do the right thing. Call your restoration company immediately when a flood occurs. After all, it pays to call a pro!
A Litter Help
Cats are responsible for many things, such as making you happy when they snuggle up to you, making you cheer when they rid your house of a mouse, and giving you something to do with the camera app on your smartphone. They do a lot to bring people happiness, but they also need quite a bit of attention at the same time.
Besides feeding them, taking them to the occasional veterinarian visit, clipping their claws, and generally making them happy, you have something unpleasant to deal with: The litter box.
Unless you have a fancy one that is self-cleaning, you have to do the scooping because your cat isn’t going to do it for you. And more than just scooping is involved with the chore. Here are a few tips to give you a “litter help” with the cat box (pun intended).
The first thing to consider is a schedule. Don’t just clean the litter box when you smell it or the cat(s) start kicking out some gross objects. It’s good to do it every day, or every two days, so it stays hygienic and doesn’t start to smell. Make it a habit, the frequency of cleaning.
Wear rubber gloves and use a scooper meant for the task and scoop out the waste into a plastic bag. DO NOT toss it all in the toilet, as that will just plug up the plumbing and then you have another task to handle. Close the bag up and discard it into the trash can, preferably one outside. Just adding the clumps to your regular trash can in the kitchen means you will have an odiferous situation on your hands within an hour or so. Bag it, close it, toss it.
Depending on how many cats you have, completely change out the litter on a schedule as well. This should be done every 3-4 weeks. Completely empty out the pan, and carefully rinse it out, using detergent and hot water, but be careful not to make bigger mess. Remember that most cat litter clumps when wet.
Finally, placement of the litter box is important. It needs to be in an area not too close to the nose, if you know what we mean. The litter will come out, either kicked by the cat(s) or tracked out on paws. Sweeping it up is part of the job.
And once in a while, your cat(s) cause “accidents” and bad odors can become part of your carpet, furniture, and other textiles. When that happens, do the right thing, and call your favorite cleaning company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
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!