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!
Pipes that (Usually) Freeze First
When pipes freeze, they create havoc that is time consuming and expensive.
Your home is full of all kinds of pipes, including fresh water pipes that supply your bathrooms, kitchen, laundry room, and more. These fresh water pipes are under pressure, and if they freeze up, they can burst and create a huge mess that must be cleaned up quickly.
You might have heard some say that hot water freezes faster than cold water. If you do a quick Google search, you will see all types of references to this topic. You might have seen videos of people throwing hot water up in freezing air and it freezes instantly, creating ice crystals. But no matter what you personally believe, one thing is accepted as true among many disaster restoration professionals:
Hot water pipes freeze and break faster than cold water pipes.
This statement isn’t based simply on water temperature. It’s based on the makeup of the water, and some studies show that hot water contains more dissolved gasses, and those chemical particles crystalize first.
Many restoration professionals will tell you that they have been on many water damage jobs where the hot water pipe was broken and spraying water, while the cold water pipe was fine.
And at the same time, many have experienced hot water spigots doing nothing while their cold water companions, just within inches of each other, work just fine.
There are many articles about what is called the “Mpemba” effect, that warm water freezes faster than cold water. While it makes for interesting reading, the main takeaway for you is to make sure that no pipes in your home ever freeze.
You can do this with some planning. The best solution is to make sure your pipes are wrapped with heat tape or insulation, combined with ensuring no cold drafts are allowed into walls or cavities in your home. Another preventive step to take is when the temperatures really dip into the sub-zero range, and especially if you have had pipes freeze in the past, consider allowing them to drip during extended times of not being used. Yes, this will run up your water bill a bit, but it is definitely cheaper than a devastating pipe break and resulting flooding.
But if the unthinkable does occur, and a pipe breaks and damages your home, do the right thing. Call your favorite disaster restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
The Tenacity of Soap Scum
Soap scum is an irritating by-product of cleaning, especially in tubs, showers, and sinks. It’s ironic that a product you use to clean with creates problems on surfaces.
And besides just soap buildup, what’s encased in the soap scum includes body oil, dead skin, bacteria, dirt, and more. This is why you may notice a foul odor as the soap scum gets thicker over time.
Using liquid soap instead of bar soap will hinder soap scum buildup, because bar soap contains products that tend to create a film. Wiping down surfaces in your tub, shower, and sinks after you use them also helps. And there are specialty products you can mist onto surfaces routinely that will hinder the buildup of film.
But when soap scum strikes, here are a few easy steps to follow to remove it.
Mix up equal amounts warm water and white vinegar and add a small amount (just a drop) of dish detergent. Use a spray bottle and liberally apply to the soap scum, give the solution several minutes to work, and wipe it off. Keep repeating until the soap scum is gone. The small amount of dish detergent acts as a surfactant and penetrates the soap scum, and the water/vinegar mix helps break down the elements that created the scum.
Mixing up a paste of baking soda and vinegar also works. Use about a half cup of baking soda in a small bowl, add just enough white vinegar until it becomes a paste. It will fizz for a while, and once it is done fizzing, apply to the areas you wish to treat. This is especially effective in areas such as where you leave a bar of soap and the scum is really thick.
There are some cleaning products you can purchase at your favorite department store that also work on soap scum. They are applied directly to the surface and bubble and fizz and make removal much easier.
All three of these solutions will work for you, but as with all cleaning activities, it takes time, elbow grease — aka scrubbing — to get the job done. Rinse it all off and wipe dry to really see how effective you were in removing the soap scum.
But when you really need some cleaning help and tips, do the right thing. Call your favorite cleaning company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Prepare for Spring Flooding
At the end of every winter, we might forget about the previous spring rains and subsequent flooding that might have occurred in the area.
But when unrelenting rain starts to fall, one thing you don’t want to experience is regret in not being prepared, whether it is from leaks related to your roofing, windows, or the possibility of a flooded basement.
While those might seem like minor issues, when they happen to you, they quickly move up to disastrous. Making sure your home is safe, secure, and devices like your sump pump (if you have a basement) are in good condition.
But when heavy rains hit your area, and flooding is a possibility, the website ready.gov has some great advice for your preparedness plan.
Make a plan
This is important to do in advance, as when an emergency strikes you will be in panic mode. Have a discussion with family members, about what you will do, where you will go, where you might meet up if separated and mobile phones are not working.
Be sure to discuss your pets as well and have a plan for them. Human life is invaluable, and we feel the same way about our pets.
Have a written list of important phone numbers in case your cell phone loses charge or isn’t functioning.
Build a ‘go-kit’
Have the necessities in a backpack or other easy-to-grab bag. Necessities include documents, such as birth certificates, passports, legal documents, and other papers you should not lose. Having some cash is important in the event credit cards can’t be used.
Clothing, medications, and other necessities should also be in your ‘go-kit’ supplies.
Basically, think about what you simply can’t go without for several days if you have to be out of your home.
Check your insurance policy
Now is the time to make sure you have coverage for natural disasters that might strike your home. Don’t assume. Ask your insurance agent and make sure you have it spelled out clearly in your policy. Not all natural events are covered by regular homeowner policies.
But if the unthinkable does happen to your home, and it becomes damaged by any disaster event, do the right thing and get it all fixed quickly — and safely. Doing the cleanup yourself can expose you to future potential hazards. Call your favorite restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!