Mold in Unlikely Places
Many people have a fear of mold and what it can do to your health, especially if you have sensitivities or allergies to mold spores.
When you think of mold growth and contamination in your home, you assume it would apply to dark, damp basements and what can occur after a pipe breaks or other water damage situation. And you would be right, most of the time.
But there are other issues that can come up that involve mold, and it doesn’t have to be in a dark basement or after a water damage event. If you have moisture, a food source, and especially dark conditions, mold can grow.
As scary as it may sound, it’s true. Mold can grow on and even inside your mattress. As you sleep, you perspire, and that moisture can be all that mold needs to start to grow. While you can clean visible mold from the surface of your mattress, it is very difficult to get clean what is inside the mattress. A professional cleaning company may be able to help. But prevention is what you should concentrate on, and an appropriate mattress pad/cover will help.
Common areas that can experience mold growth are around the base of toilets, shower stalls or bathtubs, and under sinks, such as in cabinet areas. It’s no surprise when you spot some mold in those areas. However, mold can also grow on cleaning supplies that haven’t been used in a few days, and even on toothbrushes such as those left unused because of a trip away. Anything you use that involves moisture (brushes, scrub pads, buckets) and especially stored in a dark place, be sure to clean and dry them completely.
The kitchen is a mold playground, because of all the food sources combined with potential moisture. There are so many places mold can grow they can’t all be mentioned here, but obvious ones include inside and behind the refrigerator, under the sink, and in cabinets. Mold growth inside the refrigerator goes against logic that mold requires warmth – it is obviously not always true. Frequent inspections of dark areas where mold may grow unnoticed is important, such as under sinks and where there are pipes that can leak or simply have condensation on them.
If you do find mold, do the smart thing and call your favorite restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Air Conditioner Overheating Prevention
While water damage in a home is a common issue many have faced, a fire in your home is probably the most devastating.
Statistics show that the leading cause of house fires is cooking, usually spawned by open flames on the stove and also high heat from the oven, usually when unsupervised. Many of you have cooked on a stovetop using some type of oil and in an instant, you have flames dancing above the pan. Those situations can quickly escalate into a major house fire.
Fires from appliances is also an issue, because of overheating, faulty power sources, and other issues.
One source of house fires that many don’t think about is from your air conditioning system. And this is the time of year, as summer heats things up, when it’s time to consider some safety precautions.
While a central air conditioning unit sits outside your home and rarely overheats, it can happen. What happens more frequently are overheating issues with what we call window units. If the properly sized unit is not used, such as a small AC unit trying to cool a large room, it can overheat as it struggles to keep up with the demand.
Many who use window units will run an extension cord to it if a wall outlet isn’t nearby. This is not recommended as that can cause overheating issues as the power load can heat the cord and cause it to melt and cause a fire.
A very common and easy-to-ignore issue are the condenser coils. They can become dirty and when that happens, they struggle to keep up with demand. The entire AC unit can overheat and be a possible cause of a fire. The same applies to any air filters being used — make sure they are clean and in good condition.
Your AC units should be installed according to the specifications of your home and the number/sizes of the rooms.
Lastly, having an annual inspection by a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning company will help ensure that all your air conditioning units are operating safely and effectively.
But if the absolute worst thing happens, and a fire is ignited, do the right thing. Don’t attempt cleaning up a fire and smoke damage situation yourself. Call your favorite disaster restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Battling Tobacco Product Odors
For those who use tobacco products, they may not notice the lingering odors that hang around in the air and stubbornly invade porous materials such as carpet, upholstery, fabrics and more.
But for non-smokers, those lingering odors are a nuisance, and many valuable hours have fruitlessly been spent on attempting to remove them. Smoke odors from cigarettes, cigars, and pipes are tough to remove because microscopic smoke odor particulates embed onto and into everything. Over time, these carcinogenic residues release odors.
These steps will help eliminate, and may totally eliminate, odors from tobacco products, depending on how much time and effort is spent on restoring surfaces back to pre-smoke condition.
Fresh air brought into a home or building naturally helps remove foul odors from the air. Keeping the furnace and A/C filter clean is important.
Thorough cleaning and washing of surfaces is an important process. If you can launder items, that will flush out residues. Using detergent helps the water you use for cleaning to penetrate surfaces, which means better cleaning.
Open containers of baking soda or charcoal are known to absorb malodors, so having them in your home will help. Be sure to refresh them by mixing or replacing every few days. There are professional grade absorption products you might obtain from a cleaning and restoration supply house.
After cleaning, applying a smoke-odor deodorizer will help destroy more odor-causing residues that you might have missed.
For surfaces that you can paint or seal, this will lock in odors from tobacco products. Painted walls will hold residues that cleaning may not penetrate deep enough to remove.
One complete and proven method for removing smoke odors from any source (once cleaned) is by using ozone. Ozone machines remove odors by chemically changing the structure of odor-causing molecules, oxidizing them and destroying them so no more odors are released.
Ozone can be dangerous if used in occupied spaces, so be sure to do your research and be completely safe if you choose to use this option to remove smoke odors.
Most ozone treatments are handled by professional restoration companies, although you can buy or rent small units.
While smoke odors from residues is tough to remove, your favorite cleaning and restoration company has professional solutions that really work. Ask them what they can do for you. After all, it pays to call a pro!
When Bathrooms Flood
It happens, and not at the most opportune time. You push the flusher, and then it all happens. The toilet overflows. You panic, you might scream…that’s just one simple issue, and with bathrooms there are many issues….
A clogged toilet may overflow when flushed, or a water supply line leaks under a bathroom sink, or someone (possibly you) starts filling a bathtub and forgets—any of these can turn the water loose in the bathroom. Not a good scenario at all.
When this happens, it’s may seem it is all over, and you can’t fix what’s happening. However, there are some things you can do to fix some serious issues.
Control the flow
It may be a simple concept, yet when you can’t find the shut-off valve, panic can attack. Don’t delay – look for the shut off values now and be ready for what’s going to happen eventually.
Watch the electricity
Where there is water, and electricity, there is danger. Mark your power supply so you can find the breaker that turns off the power to your bathroom.
Start mopping or extracting
Standing water is not a good thing. While a fresh leak is one thing, if given time that water can start to seep into areas that can create costly damage. With the first inclination of water intrusion, start extracting.
Of course, the best thing is to call your favorite water damage restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Restoring Damaged Ceiling Tiles
Most of our attention is on surfaces or items at eye level or lower, such as on tables, or the flooring in your home. But when your eyes go up, you might start to notice something frightful… damaged ceiling tiles, and causing you to think “Oh, no, it’s mold!”
It’s probably not. Most likely what you are seeing are damaged ceiling tiles from some type of water leak or moisture intrusion.
Ceiling tiles are usually made from plants, minerals, gypsum, clay, other natural materials, so are very absorbent and show stains easily. Some are made from synthetic products and might not have as many stains from water leaks or moisture intrusion.
Here are a few steps you can take to restore those damaged ceiling tiles. But remember that replacement might be a final option.
Take pictures of your ceiling first, just to avoid the frustration of fitting them back, especially if some tiles are of different sizes. Vacuum your tiles, removing as much dirt and debris you can, which will be concentrated on the topside of them.
You have to be careful now. Over wetting is an issue. In a typical spray bottle, use warm water and a few drops of dish detergent. Mist the tiles until they are damp and use white cloths to clean the surfaces. Use more detergent on heavier deposits of soil. Allow the tiles to dry.
Set the tiles out that still have stains. What you are going to do now is bleach away those stains. Don’t use chlorine bleach. Get some household hydrogen peroxide, easily found at a grocery store or pharmacy. Hydrogen peroxide is a safe bleach that will slowly remove stains. Mist the peroxide, using it straight (no dilution) over the stained areas of the tiles, and with a soft brush, work the solution into the tiles. The remaining stains often disappear in a few hours. If you see some progress, repeat the process.
Besides replacement, painting your tiles is an option, but you may lose some acoustical ability, since some tiles are designed to absorb sound. It’s a decision you will have to make.
And, of course, for any restoration work, such as cleaning of items that are damaged by water intrusion, call your favorite restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Dryer Vent Safety
Your washing machine and clothes dryer are valuable appliances, and they need maintenance from time to time.
One very important component to maintain and keep clean because of the danger of fire is the dryer vent system.
The vent system is the gateway for moisture-laden air to escape from the dryer to the outside of your home. The vent hose that enables this can be very short, perhaps just a foot or two in length, to several feet, depending on the distance from the dryer to the outside wall. The longer the hose run, the more lint that can build up in the hose, increasing the possibility of a fire.
Besides a visual inspection, pay attention to how long it takes your clothes to dry. If it seems it is longer than when you first purchased your washer/dryer, it may be due to lint buildup in the vent hose, restricting air flow to the outside. If you have to restart your dryer because your clothes are just not drying, that should signal an inspection and cleaning of your vent hose.
Inspection and cleaning
Disconnect the electricity to your dryer before doing any work and remove the lint trap and make sure it is clean. Pull your dryer away from the wall and unhook the dryer vent assembly. You will need a tool for this, most likely a screwdriver. Carefully use the hose from your vacuum cleaner, insert it as far as you can into the hose, thoroughly vacuuming. Also vacuum the section of the dryer the hose attaches to.
Also inspect and clean the assembly from the end of the vent hose to the outside of the home. Go outside, if possible, and inspect the opening. You might even find a bird has tried to nest in the opening, and occasionally bees or wasps have attempted to take up residence. You will need to clear out anything that can block the air flow to the outside.
If you aren’t able to clean the entire hose, such as if it is too long, it’s better to play it safe and just replace it all. Lint buildup inside the hose can overheat and catch fire, and you must avoid that at all costs.
And if the unthinkable does happen, and you have a fire in your home — or smoke damage — do the right thing. Call a professional restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
The Musty Basement
Fixing a musty basement is a chore that must be done quickly yet can be very frustrating. Trying to chase down a musty odor is not easy. It’s a restoration project that is crucial to you enjoying your home.
A smelly basement is notjust an odor problem; it usually indicates something more severe is going on. What you are smelling could be just damp materials, but it could also be mold growing, and the off-gassing of that process. This isn’t pleasant nor healthy.
There are several steps you, as a homeowner, can take to help fix this issue.
Doing some simple cleaning can accomplish quite a bit. Keeping things clean – and dry – is key to curbing the smells that can come from a basement. Take the time to inspect all the materials in your basement and take out and clean those that might be damp or have an odor. A little suspicion goes a long way.
Most likely, these items that could have odor issues are porous materials, such as clothing, bedding, and similar items. Have your carpet cleaned professionally, if there is carpet in the basement. Using a home carpet cleaning machine might actually do more damage than good. Hire a pro.
Look at the sources of potential musty odors. Windows that are drafty, walls the seep in water, anything that can create odors should be inspected and addressed. Remember that musty smells usually come from mold growth.
Although you may think that your basement is nice and dry, it might not be. The only way is to monitor the humidity level. You can do this with a hand-held device, the type your restoration pros use, but that may not be practical for you. Those devices can be very expensive.
Better yet is to set up a dehumidifier that has that information on it with its display. This way, you can run the dehumidifier as needed to keep the humidity at the level you want it to be. The lower the humidity, the less you should experience musty odors in the basement.
And the absolute best way to know if those musty smells from the basement are due to water intrusion, or other restoration issues, and what to do about them, is to consult with your favorite water damage professionals.
After all, it pays to call a pro!
Candles might seem quite harmless and innocuous, and we use them all the time for a variety of reasons, but did you know that they can be a big problem for most homeowners?
According to some reports, nearly one billion pounds of wax are used every year to make candles, all sold to homeowners just like you. Besides traditional candles, there are other uses for those waxy substances.
Thinking of that huge number of waxes being used, you can imagine some of them could cause issues with the safety of your household.
No matter the use you have for candles and their place in your home, here are some tips to make sure all is safe in your household.
Remember, a candle is an open flame, which means that it can easily ignite anything that can burn. And if this happens to you, don’t think you are alone. The flickering and warming effect of a burning candle is something most can’t ignore.
FEMA reports that some 15,000 candle fires every year are preventable, with half of them igniting substances close to the ignition source.
What you can do
Remember the burning candles should never be left unattended. That’s the most dangerous part of using a candle, that you leave it for a moment and it then causes a home fire.
Never leave a candle unattended. And keep them aware from anything else that can burn.
Make sure the candle you use can’t tip over or catch other substances on fire.
And, of course, make sure your children and pets aren’t within reach of your burning candles.
Don’t forget that no matter how safe you try to be, that nothing replaces a proper alarm. Make sure your smoke and fire alarms are in good working condition.
No matter how careful you are, it’s always best to get expert advice. Do the right thing and protect your family and friends. Call your professional restoration company for advice. After all, it pays to call a pro!